Today I am Thankful For…. A Month of Being Thankful

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Thankful

From John on Flicker

I love the month of November.

For me it’s a time to reflect on all the blessings – both big and small, and yes, even be thankful for the difficult times in my life that have played such an important role in how I have been shaped, how I cherish life, and how I can see such monumental grace where it seems that nothing could come out of the bad things that happen.

I’m one of those people that believe that nothing “evil” comes from the Lord.

He has anger and has shown anger, yes, but He is not evil.  His is the almighty good.

But, I’m also not here to get philosophical on you.

I’m just a woman with a blog who enjoys writing, with the hopes that one day my children will read the random thoughts of their mother who loves them more than they will ever know.

Here’s what I want you to know from this post:

Today I am thankful.


On November 1, 2013, I wrote the following on my personal FB page:

So it’s the first day of November, 2013.  If you have become a friend of mine recently on FB, some of my friends and I “traditionally” give a status update everyday of something we are thankful for.  It doesn’t have to be a big, in fact, I love the small things I am grateful for.  I encourage you to come up with your own daily “Today I am thankful for…” thoughts especially if you haven’t started this tradition on your own.


Tomorrow, I will be thankful.

I will be thankful everyday of the year – but for one month, I publicly share my gratitude with anyone who reads it with the hope that maybe, you can be thankful to the One who provides it all.

Thank you Lord – for just being.  For loving me, and for allowing me to know you.  I am grateful for the Lord today.


Today, I turn 40 and 25….

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Birthday cake candles cake
Today’s my birthday.

I turn 40 years old today.  But more importantly, I turn 25-years old today as well.

Twenty-five years ago today, sometime before noon, I felt called to give my life to Christ through baptism.  It was during a period of time before everyone had cameras on his/her phones, and I didn’t wake up that morning thinking that I was going to get baptized so I don’t have a record of it except my memory.  I might have a bible with the date in it somewhere, but I also didn’t save many things from my youth so I would be surprised if I actually kept that.

I’ve haven’t shared my story of my baptism before, and I want my children to get to know their mama in every aspect, so I’m putting it in writing for the world to know that as I turn forty-years old, I am also turning twenty-five.


I was born and raised a Christian my entire life.

I knew nothing else.  I didn’t attend other churches of other faiths and thankfully, I’ve never known a life without Christ.

Even during some of my dumbest decisions, I know Christ was waiting for me, in the proverbial hallway, waiting for me to open the door I had shut very tightly and was holding closed by my own two hands.

I have a vivid memory of the day I got baptized.

My cousins joined us at church that day, and although we were always, and that’s always, late to church, I remember the Associate Preacher (or pastor) spoke that day.  I couldn’t tell you what the message was about, and I couldn’t tell you what the preachers name was either.  I feel like the Lord doesn’t want me to remember so that I can only give credit to Him for what happened next.

The Church I have attended for the majority of my life has always had a “system” that follows the basic outline:

  • The preacher preaches a sermon until about 1145 AM or so.
  • The preacher then asks the congregation if anyone would like to come forward to give his/her life to Christ or request prayers.
  • There is a song, followed by a baptism if applicable, and then followed by another song and a closing prayer and church is over by noon.

So on the day I got baptized, the preacher completed his sermon and asked if anyone would like to come forward.

The next thing I remember was sitting in the front pew asking the preacher to baptize me.

Just like that. Bible

Later as I recall the moment in time I “chose” to go up to the front of the congregation to ask to be baptized, I felt as if I was being pushed to go up there. I absolutely knew that I was supposed to get baptized that day.  Don’t ask me how, or why, but I truly felt called.

Now because I didn’t plan it, I didn’t have an extra set of clothes, or anything ready to get changed into prior to getting wet.  A few ladies rushed me in this back room behind the baptismal, gave me an adult sized white jumpsuit, and told me to change into it.

I was asked to confess that I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and came to the world to save me from my sins.

After my confession, I remember not being able to breath.

The way another preacher described the moment later in time as I witnessed ten baptisms in a row was exactly how I felt that day:

I remember feeling like I died.


Now listen – I get it.

You may think that’s crazy, and maybe it is.  But that’s the feeling I had.

For the few seconds my body was in the water, something happened to me and the only way to describe it was that I truly believe my old self died.  I was lifted out of that water a new person, still imperfect, but made perfect through Christ.

After I was immersed, and got out of the water, the same ladies that asked me to change brought me a towel and my clothes and as soon as I changed I took my first communion.

I remember my mom crying and hugging me after I came out from the back.  The church had already ended for the day and a few members waited for me to come out from the back of the baptismal to hug me and congratulate me.

My mom, not being prepared at all, took us to Ole Fri-ole for lunch, even though now I know she really couldn’t have afforded it back then.

I remember getting home and calling my dad, and he was sorry he missed the event.  I told him I didn’t know I was going to get baptized that day, and I know he was happy for me.

Overall, I have very straight forward memories of the day.

I remember being tested in my faith soon after getting baptized, and failing those tests.

As I watch people getting baptized now, I recall that day, more than ever, as a time that I didn’t have control of.  If you know me personally at all, I DO NOT like NOT having control.  I can’t stand not knowing what’s going to happen next.

Now that I get to look back at it 25 years later, I realize I wasn’t in control, and I’m so glad.  I feel so blessed to be able to rely on the Lord for those eternal decisions, even when I feel like I made certain choices about it.

Hopefully you don’t read this blog post and think, “Oh boy – D’Andra believes in pre-destination….

No, I really don’t.  I do believe God has a plan.  You can quote me on that.

And I also believe that we as people make choices, whether right or wrong, that the Lord uses for his glory.

It’s my hope that you know the Lord loves you so much that he sent his only Son for you.

It’s my hope that you devote your life to Christ even though you know you are imperfect.  That’s why I need Him.  Because I’m so very imperfect.

I’m so glad I got to be picked to be with Him for eternity.  I hope you make that choice too.  If you have and/or when you do, it’s how you know you were picked too. 😉

Be blessed today.  I’m being blessed because it’s my birthday.  I get to celebrate two birthday’s today and for that, I am eternally grateful.

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#Ds40By40 – My New 40th Birthday Goal

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Selfies from my 4 mile (or more) runs...The big 4-0.

Some would say that this is the time individuals have a mid-life crisis.

Some would say that the time one turns “40” is now like turning “30” was 30-years ago.

For me, I recall my mom turning 40 years old (now 30-years ago) and how she was not looking forward to it.

My parents were still together, and still fought with one another religiously over everything when I turned 10.  There was no sign of diabetes, my mom struggled to keep her weight in check, (she was always a yo-yo dieter,) and she was in the midst of trying to raise two children on primarily one income.

Turning the age of 40 for my mom was a struggle.

Thank you Lord for where I’m at.

I don’t have to struggle the way my mom did and for that I am thankful.

For me lately, getting close to 40 has been looking at the future.  What do I want to do to have a more meaningful, fulfilling, Lord-centered life, that includes all the fun things that this life has to offer?

The answer to that question has lately been ‘Things I know I don’t want.’  That discussion will be in a future blog post.

But in the case of being able to answer what I don’t want, I have been able to make real goals of what I do want to do in the future.


Today is July 1, 2016.

I have intentionally been running four (4) or more miles since April 30th to celebrate my upcoming 40th birthday.  As of today, I have ran 4 or more miles 25 times. So, between now and my birthday in late August, I will intentionally run 4 miles or more (at least) 15 more times.  I have over 40-days to do this and I’m going to try to finish that goal well before my birthday.

I’m finally putting this goal out there for everyone to see.  If I make it, I make it, and if I don’t, well, at least I get to say, I ran xx miles or xx times of 4 miles or over.  That’s what I’m going to focus on.  That’s how I do it folks.  I look towards completing the goals so that at the end, I’m able to say –

Look how far I’ve come….

Thanks for stopping by as always and have a great (American) 4th of July!

I use protein for my after-run shakes by GNC.

Most of my running outfits are from Kohl’s.

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My 2015 Goals Wrap-Up

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2015 Goals Wrap-UpOn December 31, 2014, I wrote a relatively short blog post on my 2015 goals.

Here on December 30, 2015, I’m writing my notes-to-self about the success of my goals.

My 2015 Goals:

My one word is: gifts.

What I really want in 2015 is: go to Hawaii.

What I really need in 2015 is: to organize and simplify my stuff.

What I will share in 2015 is: my talents and gifts.

In 2015 I will succeed at: reading 12 books.

So how did I do?

In August I gave a brief recap in this blog post: August Goals.

The first goal: Go to Hawaii.

  • Check.

The second goal: Organize and simplify my stuff.

  • Not checked off and we’re going to move on from this one….  It’s being added as a more trackable goal in 2016.

The third goal: Share my talents and gifts.

  • This one is hard to put into a check/not checked category.
  • Over the course of the year, I think I did pretty well with using my talents and gifts although I admit that I used up most of my superpower when my mom passed away.  My brother and I threw her a fantastic memorial service, what I believe of “just like she would have wanted” and that time of my life took a toll on my capabilities.
  • My husband and I felt like we survived throughout this past year more than thrived, and again, that’s something I want to change in 2016.  Stuff got done, vacations were taken, children had birthday parties, no body got seriously hurt, and that in itself, takes talent.

The fourth goal, and what I thought was going to be the hardest: read twelve books.

In my previous blog post to this one, I described the eleven (11) books I read throughout the year.  So I didn’t hit the twelve (12) number, but I also didn’t include the five or so small books in that total that I read with my daughter from the Fashion Fairies Series.  They’re cute for her age, but really, I just couldn’t bring myself to count them as part of the total.

I’ve got big dreams for this next year.  Stay tuned for more goals/dreams/aspirations for 2016 and I hope you will join me!

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How Hawaii has changed me….

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Hawaii SunsetWhat is it about going on vacation that can change how you look at things?

How do you explain something to someone if they haven’t experienced it?

I’m going to attempt to do just that.

Hopefully at the end of this post I have described how going on vacation to Hawaii made me a better person.

Did it have to be Hawaii?  The answer is of course “no,” but it’s my experience and this is my blog and maybe somewhere in my words you can feel the undeniable reality that I have experienced by going on a vacation of a lifetime.


One of the hardest things I struggled with on this trip was trying to deal with the obvious entitlement issues my children displayed.

There were multiple meltdowns by the oldest, who has an empathy gene that I can’t even fathom and at times, can’t deal with, which leads to lots of crying for a boy at the age of nine because his mom doesn’t know what to do for him except try to ‘hug-it-out’ and talk about it.

My youngest was surprisingly the easiest to deal with, and I suppose at four years old he really had no choices but to go along with whatever mom and dad were doing.

And then there’s my little girl, who is, well, a little girly-girl.  She cries almost every time she doesn’t get her way, and that happened often when plans were made without her consent and she didn’t like what we were doing including going out to posh restaurants with menus that had to rival any French establishment.  Thank God they had white rice for her at those amazing places to eat.

In the end, my children literally told me that their favorite things about the trip were things we could have experienced closer to home, (visiting family, going to the beach and swimming in the pool) and although that was disappointing, I can’t expect a child (or perhaps my children) to understand how amazing and wonderful this trip was or what a privilege it was.

With all that said, the poor-raised child inside of me was screaming with joy almost the entire trip.

My uncle made reference to that when other friends came and said multiple times D’Andra “has a joy that’s always there no matter what we’re doing.  I love hanging out with her.”

Those words will stick with me forever.  It’s a compliment my mother received throughout her life and as far as I’m concerned, I’m doing something right if someone else can see that in me.

We went on this trip with my husband’s uncle, aunt and children, who have kids similar in age as ours, but who have completely different personalities.  I won’t go into details, but I’ll just remind you that I recognize more now than ever how entitled my children seem to be.  We’re going to start working on that.

The next thing that really changed me was how I felt about mid-vacation about my place of employment.

Notable author Jon Acuff wrote a book called “Do Over” and I follow his blog posts.  One of his recent Facebook posts stuck with me as the caption in the meme said:

Image Credit: https://www.facebook.com/authorjonacuff

In my bosses defense, it wasn’t him that I’ve heard this from.  (I’ve just heard it before by other ‘in charge’ people.)

In fact, as he is new to the specific governmental agency I work for, he said he makes less money here (than his last governmental agency job) and has way more work.

When he said that statement out loud to his employees, I thought to myself, “How is that supposed to motivate us?”

I’m just going to come out and say it: Some people are not meant to be in charge.  Take that statement for what it is (or read into it more) but it’s just the truth about the reality I live in, and lately I have been very disappointed in decisions made by people in charge.

BUT –

And that’s a really big but….

Hawaii changed me from being “disappointed.”

I stood on one of the many beaches we visited, looking at some of the most beautiful water I have ever seen (only Cancun, Mexico rivals it in beauty so far,) and I realized that this trip would not have been possible if I had given up on the job when things started going downhill.

And I’ve considered it going downhill for years now so that’s saying a lot.

I prayed on that beach in Hawaii as I watched the sun set.

I prayed for my children, my bosses, I was thankful for my mother and the Lord spoke to me on that beach as I prayed.

Whether or not you believe in that sort of thing, I do and I heard His whisper loud and clear: I will take care of you.

I gave any and all self-proclaimed “control” of the insane job situation to the Lord that day.

Yes, finally.

It’s one thing to say you’re going to do it, but it’s another thing completely to actually feel it leaving your shoulders and neck and back and heart.

I go back to work on Monday after taking my kiddos to their first day of school for the new year.  I’m looking forward to the day.  Very much.  Which includes going back to work.

I haven’t said that in a while.

Come check out some of our pics from Hawaii by following me on Instagram, or just searching for the hashtag: #BSinHawaii.

Mahalo!

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My Bucket List

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bucket list pic 3-2015You know those blog posts that start off with “When I was a little girl…?”

This is one of those blog posts so get ready –

When I was a little girl, I would dream of marrying a rich man.

No kidding.  I knew I would work, I knew I wanted to be a mom of two boys, I knew God and my mom loved me. (And yes, that means I really wasn’t sure about my dad or my brother, but that’s another story.)

I would tell my mom that he would be tall and handsome, and he would be wealthy so I wouldn’t have to worry about money ever again.

Those truly innocent dreams of my 5 through 9 year old self were a reflection of how I envisioned my life to be easier, not to have to worry like my mother, and to have a man who loved me and took care of me.

The last one in that list was an actual thing that I could see my mom struggling with. My father didn’t spend quality time with us the way fathers are supposed to, and I am the classic-text-book case of not having a father that loved his wife, did not take care of his family and was only there part-time because of selfishness and insecurities.

I could have written that textbook of the problems that come from not having a father around, but, as I’ve stated in previous posts, he’s gotten better the older he gets and will do almost anything he can for his grandchildren.

To quickly finish the story, my husband is the man of my dreams.

He and I got married young (19 and 20 years old,) and we first lived in a one bedroom studio apartment with second-hand furniture, a 16-inch black and white television, and a card table that we used to eat on.  Those were some of the greatest memories of my entire life.  I remember eating lots of potatoes, because I am not a great cook and because they were so inexpensive and I remember the love we felt back then between us because we didn’t have anything else.

My husband and I both graduated college, got good jobs, have purchased homes and he does well selling rubber stamps on remarks.rubbermarks.com.  Please feel free to check them out for custom rubber stamps of pretty much anything you could imagine.  We are very proud of that website and they are having a give-away this week with ten (10) ways to enter! Update: The giveaway is over, but check them out anyway! 😉

Remarks GiveawaySo that intro brings you to where I am at now.  When I was little, my bucket list consisted of marrying an amazing man, owning a home, having children and serving the Lord.

What happens when you do all that?

What happens when you try to plan?

What’s next…..


This entire subject is a bit difficult to talk about for me.
At the end of her life, I would often ask my mom the question: “What did you expect?” and that question would come when she and I were at an impasse of how I had to take time off from work to take her to a doctor’s appointment, or to the store late in the evening when I wanted to be at home with all three of my kids and my husband.  I would usually ask her that question after she told me that she was “sorry” I had to take her places.

She never actually answered that question.

I kind of wish she did.  I would have been blessed by the answer to know if she planned to marry another man, if she wanted to get back together with my father, or if she really thought her children would always take care of her.

I would tell her often, “This is the way it’s supposed to be” and I would tell her that because I believed it, and I knew if she heard me say it, it was going to make her feel a little bit better about her need for someone to take care of her.

<Big sigh.> I miss that woman but I’m glad she’s free.

Blessed is the one
who trusts in the Lord,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.
Many, Lord my God,
are the wonders you have done,
the things you planned for us.
None can compare with you;
were I to speak and tell of your deeds,
they would be too many to declare.

Psalm 40:4-5

The bible tells me that the Lord has plans for us, and I truly believe that.

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Psalms is my favorite book of the bible because of its wisdom BUT it also has a ton of warnings.

Psalm 94:11New International Version (NIV)

The Lord knows all human plans;
he knows that they are futile.

I think one of the hardest things to do as I have gotten older is to begin dreaming again.

Many times as a believer I’ve been challenged with the choice to do one thing for myself or do something for someone else in need and one of the greatest examples of this for any parent is usually things you do for your children.

And those are the moments for me that the Lord whispers in my ear that he is my parent too.  He wants me to feel the love of a parent sacrificing everything and anything so that I can enjoy this life.  I now know, and feel that it’s okay to dream again.

I’ve gotten better at dreaming and my screen shot above is my proof.  I started a bucket list on my cell phone. (I can’t get the credit for doing it as it was a friends idea first.) 

There’s a few more ideas in my head, including seeing a volcano and lava flow in real life, which our family hopes to accomplish in August in Hawaii.  I also want to start a Pinterest board with my bucket list items, including ones we accomplish.

My understanding of “bucket lists” is to think of things you really want to do before you leave this earth.  There’s a tinge of excitement that I have when I see this list, but with all the cautiousness of a well-trained Christian woman who knows that our time is short and we do not know when the Lord will take it from us.

I’m not writing this blog post for other people to read and have some profound moment of clarity.  I’m writing it for myself and my children, so that they know that if I make it to retirement age and beyond, I did everything I can to 1. serve the Lord, 2. take care of them, and 3. enjoy the life I’ve been given.  Three things my mom taught me and personally lived.

I believe there is a balance and I know the Lord wants us to enjoy his creation (lava flows), what others have done through his/her talents (Michelangelo’s art), and being a steward of the money we earn that is really His to begin with (hence, giving, giving, giving.)

With however much time I have left on this earth I want to live it to the fullest.  I pray and hope continuously that my family and I get the chance to do the things that please the Lord, as He is what it’s all really about anyway.

Is there anything on your bucket list?

Do you or did you have a hard time making a bucket list too?

Have a great week and continue to be and feel blessed friends.


What a week to be thankful!

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The thing about thanksgiving that I always want to remember is no matter how insane, how much work or how stressed out I get, I am thankful, for so many things.

As so many people would agree, not all those things, are well, things.

This year was an exceptionally crazy week to be thankful.

Thanksgiving Quote - Joyce Girard

Last week, my mother-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer and that was two days after her 14-year old beloved dog crossed over the rainbow bridge.

This week, I had to take the week off (thankfully my project was also not going to be worked on this week) to take care of my children while they were out of school.

I had planned a fun filled week of movies, making crafts, desserts, and I was even planning to put up the Christmas tree before Thanksgiving because I don’t have issues with that kind of thing.

We saw a movie in the theater (Big Hero 6 and I highly recommend it,) went to see my dad twice in the past three days at his rehab facility where he is recovering from the open heart surgery, and got to see some cousins.

I took my youngest this week to see his new daycare facility, and he will be there from 715 AM to 330 PM three days a week, and not being taken care of at his home for the first time in any of my three children’s’ lives.

The tree hasn’t gone up (but it will soon) and I spent an entire day helping my sister-in-law with her two-year old triplet children while my brother took his brother-in-laws, including my husband, shooting guns.

It’s been an emotional, stressful, crazy-filled couple of weeks leading up to this week.

Every once in a while, the Lord blesses me with an experience or two during my “Oh-woe-is-me” weeks (or month.)

I was blessed to see another family in action and be glad that I have the children I had and the husband I had.

My husband took the time to go see my father, because he knew I was stressed about it and it relieved me so much for him to be there.

I have been blessed by my mother-in-laws attitude.  She has been rock solid for her grown children through all that has been happening and I remembered how strong of a women she is.  I’ve seen this side of her before and even with all her beautiful feminine traits that I envy, she shows a strength that I’ve only seen my stoic paternal grandmother show in times of great stress.  It’s pretty amazing.

Remember how blessed you are this week.  Health is such a blessing.

For today, I will be eating, drinking and being merry, as well as giving thanks for so many blessings, as well as the trials.

I am one who just doesn’t see the blessings without the trials.  I wish this wasn’t true, but I am thankful that this is all I have to deal with.


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I Love my Hamster Wheel

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I’m posting today about my little world.

Here is a link to one of my favorite celebrities recent posts on Facebook – Mike Rowe.  It truly gives perspective into my little world and the article itself really spoke to me.  It’s really long, but it’s a really good read in my opinion.

Mike Rowe – Off The Wall Stephen Adams, Auburn, AL “Hi, Mike…..

Why would I post about this you ask?

Well, because you asked….

 I love my hamster wheel.

This is a photo of me in the early morning sun on one of my projects.  I joked on FB that I knew I had a halo around my head and here was the proof.

This is a photo of me in the early morning sun on one of my projects. I joked on FB that I knew I had a halo around my head and here was the proof.

By my definition, a “hamster wheel” is the little contraption that sits in a hamsters cage so that the hamster can get exercise.  But the exercise it gets, never takes it anywhere.  It’s still stuck in a cage, still keeps running in the same place but works extremely hard, even if it never gets ANYWHERE.

The analogy of a “hamster wheel” is one that can be used for people who feel that they are constantly working with no result or not getting anywhere in their place of employment.

There are SO MANY BLOGS written by and about people who couldn’t stand working for someone else (and hence not going anywhere with his or her career/life) and “got off the hamster wheel” by either starting their own business or chasing after their dream of becoming a  _____________________ (you fill in the blank.)

Then there are people like me.

I love my hamster wheel.


Don’t get me wrong, I don’t love everything about my job, but I do love the job itself, I love the sense of accomplishment it brings me and I enjoy (for the most part) working with the people I get to work with.

So what do I do for a living that I love so much?

Photo of men working on a box culvert in the County of Fresno.  They are pouring concrete into the base of the new culvert, or water diversion system.

Photo of men working on a box culvert in the County of Fresno. They are pouring concrete into the base of the new culvert, or water diversion system.

I am a Registered Civil Engineer that works for the County I live in (a government agency.)  My actual title is called a “Resident Engineer” but people are more likely to understand “Construction Engineer.”

I oversee the construction of projects by Contractors, ensuring that the plans and specifications are followed.  My duties include being a paper pusher, a manager, an Engineer, an advice giver, a listener, and an ambassador for Christ while working with men who need all those things in their lives, even if they don’t know it.

This is a paving machine at work in the hot sun. DeAndrasCrafts.com

This is a paving machine at work in the hot sun. DeAndrasCrafts.com

Many of these men go to work with little complaint.  Oh how we could learn from them.  They make great money but to much expense to their bodies and sometimes families.  They work in the hot sun, in the cold days and sometimes nights, bend their backs often, work around loud equipment and breath in fumes that would make any asthmatic person run away with screaming terror.

This is a construction worker cutting a sidewalk to improve it with a handicap accessible ramp.  He is using a sawcutting machine, that is extremely loud and makes you very dirty.

This is a construction worker cutting a sidewalk to improve it with a handicap accessible ramp. He is using a sawcutting machine, that is extremely loud and makes you very dirty.

But you ask many of them ~ and I have ~ and many of these strong men will tell you that they love their jobs too.

Oh how people complain when we work.  We disrupt their lives with our construction signs, our noises, our fumes and our traffic control to keep the public safe.

But these men are building bridges, putting in wheelchair and handicap accessible ramps, improving your roadways for a better driving experience in your vehicle and doing what needs to be done to complete a project in a specific amount of time, with a specific amount of money all the while trying to keep you (the public) safe from harm, sometimes harming themselves in the long run.

This is a bridge deck being built up.  There is a concrete pumper in the center of this picture and the men are stepping on the rebar portion of the deck while the concrete is being poured.

This is a bridge deck being built up. There is a concrete pumper in the center of this picture and the men are stepping on the rebar portion of the deck while the concrete is being poured.

I want to give a plug to Mike Rowe and his new show on CNN called “Somebody’s Gotta Do it.

I don’t have cable so I watched the first episode on the website link above.

The name of the show is exactly how I feel about my job and the people I work with.

I hope to enlighten those who don’t know what its’ like to work hard and still love his/her job.

It happens all the time.

People can love their job.

I love my job.  I hope you do too!


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The Newest Addition to Our Family

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No, I’m NOT pregnant.  And I’m VERY HAPPY to say that.

This summer, our family became foster parents to two different furry-family members.

Fostering an animal is one of the most rewarding experiences for our family to date.  Sure we go to church and have helped build houses in Mexico and show love to people who wouldn’t may have felt Christ’s love, but this is different.

 St Francis de Sales Quote-Doing little thingsDoing little things with a strong desire to please God makes them really great. ~ St. Francis de Sales

 The Lord put man on earth to help care for the animals.  He put us over them.

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” ~ Genesis 1:26

I believe taking care of dogs are no exception.

In 2012, our yellow Labrador, Franklin, was no longer able to walk and had completely stopped eating.  I cried in my husband’s arms the night we knew our first puppy dog as a couple had to be put down because he was now suffering and the only option was expensive back surgery which may or may not have corrected the problem.  Franklin was 12-years old and we look at his photos with joy that he had a wonderful, full life and we were the ones that were blessed to take care of him.

 In 2013, through a friend on Facebook, I read about a program called Elder Paws Senior Rescue.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I hear about something and I know – I JUST KNOW – that I want to get involved and help.

But, with a family of three growing children, a husband that doesn’t share in the “save every animal we can” mentality that I do, sometimes there’s not much I can do.

I heard that voice in my head (call it what you want) that whispered, “You can help them.”

Then the other voice, the voice of reason says, “No, you have other goals, other priorities, no time and other things to take care of right now.”

The voice of reason was winning the argument.

My mom had progressed in her diabetes to the point of kidney failure and was on dialysis three days a week. My husband and I were disagreeing on many things and (at the time) he was suggesting I needed to get healthier so I wouldn’t end up like my mother.  I had children’s birthday parties to plan, a Halloween costume to make and other things I needed (and wanted) to do with life than take care of another dog.

After having a heart to heart conversation with my husband about how I knew I was supposed to help this charity, and give my lonely mini poodle a friend, we agreed to send an application to be foster parents to one dog (at a time) and as soon as my mini poodle passed away, we would request that the foster dog we had would be the last.

My husband made it very clear that we were not going to get another dog.

 I sent in an application to become a furry-friend-foster mom in January of 2014.  We had a home inspection performed within a matter of a couple of weeks, and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

I helped out the charity when I could, creating a few postcards, talking about it with my friends, going and visiting the adoptable dogs at their events on occasion with my children and my mini-poodle to show the lady in charge that we were a good, nice family with a well behaved dog.

 I finally got contacted by the organization’s leader in early June that she had a dog that was capable of being with our children and she explained to me that most senior dogs were skittish around children, tended to nip them, and didn’t like loud noises.  I thanked her for just knowing that my children were loud.  (Because they are.)  She had a dog that was deaf, blind, and was very sweet with everyone he had met.

Our foster dog JafariOur first foster dog was named Jafari. We got him on June 29th. In the above photo, he is on the left and my mini poodle is on the right.

He was a sweet and wonderful bichon mix and was soft just like my mini poodle and just about the same size.

I had to take Jafari to the vet for an eye problem the third week we had him.

Jafari and I at the vet.He ended up needing more care than what my family was able to do for him and the organization’s leader was not only aware of it, but suggested that he be placed with a better suited foster for him.  My husband and I were again, so grateful that she had the foresight to even consider this and we took the offer.

He ended up with one of his eyes removed and the last time we saw him at an adoption event, he was wagging his tail, barking away at everyone and everything that would listen.  As of the date of this post he has not found a forever home and you can find out more about him here.

The organizations leader told me that she had another dog for us that was healthy and totally sweet around children.  He did seem to have a problem with men though and was a nervous dog.

We began fostering Reese on August 2nd. Reese's Journey - 1

Described to me as a Chi Masterson Terrier Mix, he was extremely timid the first day he came home with us.  He was not potty trained and growled, although not loudly, at my husband when my husband was around.  He had been on the kill list because no one had come to claim him at a local shelter and he was found wandering the streets, friendly, just skittish according to the shelter workers.

Life passes by when you have children and are taking care of dogs.  The first night was the only night he slept on his bed in our room.  The next night he slept on our bed where our mini-poodle sleeps and knows that’s his bed now.

Reese's Journey -2He also loves to be cuddled right next to my husband.  It took him about a week to start that, but he responded really well to treats.

Potty training him was a challenge.  It took us three weeks but we finally broke him in.  Again, it was the treats that really showed him that he was being a good boy when he did his business outside.

As a dog owner only twice in my whole life (one in high school and that dog made it to 13-years old) and then as an adult to the two dogs my husband and I loved as ‘children’, I knew I was a “dog person.”

This dog was stealing my heart. Reese's Journey - 4I had knee surgery on August 12th and was in bed for a week.  He hardly ever left my side (it was a good week to potty train him) and he never did anything wrong.

Never.

Compare it to this: My mini-poodle was also a rescue.  They estimated him to be about 18-months old when we got him, and that was about 13-years ago.  His problems were/are extensive.  No matter what we do, he incessantly licks his paws.  We’ve tried sensitive shampoos, sprays of all kinds, hot spot treatment, pills, you name it and he still does it.  He also tries to dominate other dogs whenever he can, no matter how big or how small.  (If you’re a dog person, you know what that means.) Ugh.  He’s been fixed for 13-years it’s just as embarrassing as you can imagine it to be!

But he’s one of my babies and I still love him. Reese's Journey - 6 with my mini-poodleReese hasn’t done anything like that – at all. My husband and I couldn’t believe it.  Those first three weeks we were trying to figure out “what was wrong with him” but the answer kept being “nothing.”

When Reese got over his fear of my husband in about a week, he began spending more time with my husband (and my father during the day when he took care of my children.)  My husband would hold him in his arms, just like I do with my mini-poodle.

Around August 20th, my husband told me after the kids went to sleep that he thought we should keep Reese. Reese's Journey - In my husbands arms What?  I had to ask him if I heard that right.  I did.  He wanted me to make the decision to keep him or not.

I started to pray.

I had been under the impression that he did not want another dog.  Granted, this dog probably only has 10 more years left because he was five years old, but, still.

I kept hearing conflicting answers in my head.  The voice of reason kept telling me that he was just reacting to the moment and he would change his mind after something came up with the dog, and potentially blame me for saying it was okay to keep him.

It took me ten days to know that the answer in my heart was to keep Reese.

There were so many signs in those ten days and yes, I believe in that kind of thing.

I had asked the children over the course of a few days what they thought of Reese and if each of them, individually, would like him as a forever pet.  Independently my children said that they wanted to keep him, and my oldest was wise enough to ask, “What about daddy?”

The charity posted this to Facebook on August 30th, after confirming with the leader of the Elder Paws Senior Rescue that we could adopt him. (She was just as surprised as I was.)

EPFB PostAdoption of Reese - photo on FB WallAnd that my friends, is how we ended up with the newest member of our family.

 Proverbs 12:10


So What’s Going on with My Knee?

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Learn unconditional LoveIn June, I messed my knee up while at a boot-camp (exercise) class.

Get this: I DIDN’T mess it up because of boot-camp, I just messed it up AT boot-camp.

I’ve had a re-occurring problem where my knee cap has popped in and out of the socket since I was 16-years old.  Because it’s been happening so long in my life, I got used to it.  It seems almost silly now that I say that, but I never really took care of the problem, because it always healed up on it’s own, after a day of walking funny and trying to keep off of it.

I’ve never had my knee hurt as bad as it did on this occasion.  I knew something else was wrong.  That was a Saturday.  I still had to be mommy to two under five-year olds, I still had to resume my responsibility to church that I committed to having the youth group over my house on Sunday, and I waited patiently while my husband came home from a fishing trip on Sunday evening.  It could have been worse.

It all worked out, as it usually does and I saw my doctor on Monday.  He called the problem a “rearrangement of the knee.” I had x-ray’s done the same day and had to wait for insurance approval to get an MRI.  That was new.

Pre MRI Knee PhotoI got the MRI done on a Thursday evening after work. Yes, I went to work.  I hobbled around, but I was able to drive and like I said, it could have been worse.

I didn’t get MRI results back for another week.  Now we were in July and getting ready for a camping trip to Yosemite National Park.  I was still able to function, but I had lost my awesome for a week and a half.

What does that mean you ask?  You know, your “awesome.” I’m using it a a noun here.  Most people have it, but some people have a hard time describing it.  It’s the thing that makes you function.  It’s the thing that wakes you up in the morning.  It’s the thing that keeps you running during the day even though it seems like you don’t have anything else to give.  That’s my ‘awesome.’

I had completely lost it.  I had burned my finger on the oven while cooking, I was spilling things everywhere (it seemed) causing more work for me to clean messes up (I already have three kids to clean after) and I felt like I couldn’t do anything right the first time.  I just wasn’t myself.

Anyway, I was able to make an appointment with the Sports Injury Specialist the Monday after our Yosemite vacation.  While there, they took additional x-rays, drained my knee of about an inch worth of orange-red fluid in a VERY LARGE needle, and told me that I had a displaced patella.

DeAndrasCrafts PatellaYou do not have permission to use this photo for anything.

At least at the specialist they were able to tell me EXACTLY what was going on.  Apparently my knee did not pop back into place this time, as it had so many times before.  This was a problem that had been occurring for the past 20+ years.  I’m just getting old and my body is reacting to the stress I’m putting it under with my new workout routine.

Insert a big sigh.

All this work and my body doesn’t like it. Humph.  Go figure.

I continued working out with my trainer until the week before my surgery.  We did all upper body work including abs and whoa sometimes those abs hurt!

The surgery itself took place in August, and I took a before photo.

DeAndras Crafts day of surgery Knee PhotoWhen I awoke, I didn’t realize that I would be in a brace for an entire week.  I mean, they told me, but I thought I could take it off to take a shower and such. That was not the case.

Here’s my post surgery pic and it will pretty much look like this for the next week.

DeAndrasCrafts PatellaMy bed, my book, my dogs and my leg in a brace so I can’t even see my knee.

Yes, it stinks.  But there are positives.  My awesome mom-in-love bought me a tray to eat in bed.  My friends have been bringing my family meals throughout the week and through the weekend.  I have received cards and FB posts to cheer me up (and they have!)  I get to do things I haven’t been able to do while working and being mommy all the time.

Here’s what I wrote on FB just yesterday:

FB Post for KneeToday it’s getting better or at least it feels that way.

Thanks for reading this.  Have a great week and I hope you stay safe.  Keep working on your life, finding your awesome and your hustle!  There’s no excuse.  And it’s really not that bad.


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