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Pray When the Spirit Says Pray

1015324_10151758287675439_1693019418_o (1)Never underestimate that urge to pray for someone.

Two years ago, I woke in the middle of the night with an urge to pray for my daughter’s safety. She was planning her first solo road trip to Chicago in two days. I prayed myself back to sleep that night.

She’s legally an adult, and I couldn’t tell her not to make the trip. Instead, we worked to make sure her trip was well planned. I still felt that urge to pray for her trip.

The morning of her trip, we insisted she keep us updated during the 6 hour road trip on where she was. I was at work that day and quietly prayed for her. I posted on Facebook I was praying for her safety.

When she updated me early afternoon that she was halfway there, I breathed a sigh of relief. One of my coworkers told me I needed to let go and quit hovering.

Within minutes, I got the call. She was in a bad wreck with a car and a truck. She had just pulled out of a gas station and got t-boned. I could hear sirens in the background. She said she was fine.

Other than a scratched knee, she was unharmed. Her car was totaled. When we got there that night, they let us into the car lot where the car had been towed so we could empty it. Most of the front was gone.

I can only think that my prayers were an urging from both her guardian angel and my own to pray for her.

Never underestimate those unexpected urgings to pray for someone.  A friend told me afterwards when she saw my first post praying for my daughter’s safety she thought I was being overly protective.

As we returned to the scene after the fact, we saw that it had a blind spot and a low speed limit which the driver on the road had to have ignored. I read of multiple accident reports in that intersection, as the community debated whether or not it needed a stoplight to prevent future accidents.

Why does it seem that some prayers for someone’s safety are answered and in another instance they aren’t?

I do not know why good people are sometimes protected and other times they still get sick, get hurt, or die. But I wonder if divine protection comes when someone’s purpose in life has not yet been met, and God still has work for that person to do.

And maybe, when the good do die young, they have already accomplished that mission and have touched the hearts and lives of others, leaving the world a better, richer place because of their presence.

I don’t know. I do know that for the rest of my life, I will pray when the Spirit says pray.

Of Christmas Bricks and Babies

Christmas Present BricksWhy did I get a brick for Christmas this year? Strap in for the long version of the story. That brick was there when my journey as a mother began.

But wait – there’s more.

In 1993, I was working for a local law firm when their network administrator quit. I inherited his job to add to my other responsibilities. As I learned to manage a computer network, we added some wrinkles to the job. The firm was moving, and the move was prime time to upgrade our network. So what did we plan to do at the same time the office moved?

  • Fire our computer vendors and find a replacement company.
  • Upgrade all 25 support staff members from Dos to Windows. Train them on how to use a mouse.
  • Set all 20 attorneys up with PC’s on the network.
  • Migrate from 2 file servers to 1.
  • Migrate from paper phone messages to emailed ones.
  • Make sure the attorneys, some of whom hadn’t operated a PC before, could get their phone messages on the new system.

We moved over Halloween weekend. The offices closed at noon on Friday. Our goal was to have the new network in place and operational at noon on Sunday, ready to go for work on Monday morning.

Our PC team and I worked to meet the deadline. I slurped Mountain Dew in giant cups to stay alert as we climbed, crawled, and made sure things worked. That Saturday night, I tied my copy of our new office key to my shoe lace because I was so tired and slap happy I was afraid I would lose it. At 2 a.m. Sunday morning, all was well.

Things were a little crazy when the office opened, but we worked through it, and my goal was met. I continued working late fixing bugs and by Wednesday evening, I had lost my voice and was sick – since my throat hurt, I knew I had strep throat. I went to a new convenient care center – St. Mary’s off the Expressway to get antibiotics.

As I sat in the waiting room, a woman rushed in yelling, “Do you take gunshot wounds?”

The nurse at the desk told her, “Go to the emergency room.”

When my turn came, I told my doctor, “I have strep throat. Give me a strep screen and antibiotics, and I’ll go home and go to bed.”

The doctor ordered the strep screen and asked, “Do you think you could be pregnant?”

“I don’t know. I don’t think so,” I answered. We had just lost our first baby that May, it was too early for me to be pregnant again, and that was the last thing on my mind.

He ordered a pregnancy test too. As I waited for the results, I heard nurses whispering outside – I was sure they were talking about another patient. “Will you tell her?” “No. You tell her.” And finally I heard, “Let’s wait for the doctor to tell her.”

The doctor came in and told me, “You don’t have strep throat. But you are pregnant. And exhausted. And you need to go home and go to bed and stay there for 2 days.”

I called my boss and told him, and he replied, “Well, I guess you went home from work early at least one night this fall.”

Flash forward to this January. St. Mary’s was opening a new care center just behind that convenient care where I found out I was becoming a mother. I was invited to participate in a sneak peek “Tweet Tour” before it opened. As we toured the new center, I told the story of my learning I was pregnant.

When I asked what was going to happen to the old center, I off-handedly commented I would love one of the bricks from the old convenient care center where I found out I was pregnant.

Now flash forward to Christmas morning. As I opened this heavy gift, I saw a brick in the box. It puzzled me. Then I read the caption on it. It’s that brick I said I wished I had.

My family told me the back story. One of St. Mary’s marketing team tracked down my daughter (the one I was pregnant with at the time) and told her they had a brick I wanted. She’s a junior in college out of state, so she forwarded the message to my husband. He picked up the brick, and they kept it a secret until Christmas Day.

Not to be outdone with unusual gifts, my daughter gave me a hen ice cube tray. It makes egg-shaped ice cubes. I love chickens, and she thought I would enjoy egg ice cubes since we no longer keep hens in our backyard.

My son, born after that night’s adventure, made a bobble Groot with a 3-D printer, printing the parts, assembling it and painting it for me.

The wise men may have brought baby Jesus gold, frankincense, and myrrh. This year, I got a special brick, a hen ice cube tray, and a bobble Groot.

And those gifts are just as precious to me because they remind me of the greatest gifts of my life – my family – and the adventures we have had together. They aren’t clean, neat, or perfect. But they are real, and they are mine.

 

Random Advent Thoughts

From my Advent journey this year:

1. A Great Crowd of Witnesses
Ever since we became empty nesters, I’ve needed daily Mass. Each morning when I go in, I start with prayers and commend our children to God, much like Hannah did with Samuel. As I look to the front of the sanctuary and see the crucifix hanging from the baldachin of our Cathedral, I imagine that I see Jesus on the cross at calvary, and I leave my cares and concerns on that hill.

 

And I remind myself each day that I cannot return and pick them up because that would be like telling Jesus He can’t do the job.

 

Probably 60 people attend each morning, and I’ve grown to know some of them. Many are retired. As I leave, and several stay and are praying the Apostles Creed, I draw comfort for these noble souls who probably don’t know they are becoming surrogate parents to me.

 

Each morning, as I leave, a 93-year-old veteran of World War II nods at me and waves as he prays. He is still fighting for his faith and his nation now, just like he did then.

 

And I’m glad I have him on my side. There is a great crowd of witnesses praying for us, here and in heaven.

2. Tree Trimming
During Advent, I’ve watched the slow process of preparing the cathedral for Christmas.

 

It started with a few bare trees. Then more were added. Up front, wooden boxes were stacked, and then covered.

Now the trees are decorated, and there are angels above animals and shepherds in what will soon be a Nativity scene.

When we prepare a Christmas tree, we probably trim some decayed branches, making more room for the good ones – like the master in the vineyard.

 

3. Family Trees
At yesterday’s Mass, our gospel reading was the genealogy of Jesus. As the priest read it, I remembered the years our family worked through reading the Bible aloud together. I recognized most of the names and remembered reading the same passage to my children.

 

After he finished reading, the priest noted there were some good people in that family tree and some not so good people. But the point is they were all used as part of God’s plan in bringing a savior to the world. And He will use us too.

 

I cried silently as I reflected on the past year and my own family tree. For most of my life, I’ve thought there was more bad than good. But this year, I learned there was more good than bad, but I hadn’t known of most of the good. With that gospel reading and the quick message afterwards, I better understood that my own struggles with my family tree are part of God’s plan, and all I need to do is trust.

 

My family tree, my story, is a work in progress much like the Christmas decorations. Gradually, adding a little at a time, it becomes a beautiful tapestry. Encouraged by that thought, I left Mass as those who stayed continued to pray.
With the prayers of the great cloud of witnesses, both here as the Church Militant and in heaven as the Church Triumphant, I have the support of a bigger extended family than I could ever have imagined.

 

Whatever condition we are in or tree we are born into, God can take us and make us beautiful.

 

If you doubt that, then just remember that Christmas tree in Charlie Brown.

3 Steps to Surviving a Heart Attack 2 Years Ago and Thriving Today

Tomorrow is the 2-year anniversary of my surviving a heart attack. As the Advent season progresses, I feel an immense thankfulness that God gave me another year.

A friend told me soon afterwards, “Your life just changed forever.” I had no idea how right she was. I also had no idea that the lifestyle changes I adopted would transform my life so that beyond surviving a heart attack, I’m thriving.

What changes did I make?

  1. Diet. Yes, I fall off the wagon, need to lose weight, and could do a better job. Even so, our diet has permanently changed. When a dietitian talked with me after the heart attack, she told me that if we ate a pound of bacon a week as a family, it was a regular part of our diet and had to stop. Now, the regular parts of our diet include each week we eat a package of baby spinach or kale, a container of hummus, egg whites for breakfast, flax whole grain wraps for my lunch sandwiches, and whole grain sandwich thins for my breakfast sandwich. Cheese used to be a staple – now it’s a treat and when we do use it I use less and use lower fat varieties. I still work to get the 5 a day fruits and vegetables. We eat more whole foods and fewer processed ones.  I used to buy giant tubs of margarine. Now, we use a small container of the lower fat butter blends, using one of those in the same amount of time it used to take me to use the giant tubs. I never buy margarine or butter sticks. The kale or spinach are parts of my daily breakfast and lunch. I’ve learned to re-invent family favorite dishes to make them healthier. I started buying our meat from a local butcher shop that I know doesn’t add water or salt to meat and works with me for lower fat cuts of meat. Now, when I eat fatty foods of years past, I feel awful and recognize that they make me feel sluggish. Yes, I sometimes enjoy my biscuits and gravy or fried chicken. But they are rare instead of regular menu items now. Before, fried chicken was my go-to food when I was too busy to cook. Now it’s a rare treat.
  2. Exercise. Before the heart attack, I did not exercise. When I went up or downstairs, I felt out of breath. I took the suggestions of fitness experts I had interviewed for a healthier lifestyle article I wrote and followed them. Exercise is now scheduled. Most work mornings, unless I’m tired, I start my day with a big glass of water followed by half an hour on an exercise bike. Most lunch hours each week include a half hour of walking. I wear a pedometer to monitor my steps. Though some days I slack, there are at least a few days each week I hit the 10,000 steps per day. The number of steps I walk in that half hour has increased. Though I could do a better job, I no longer have any issues with stairs. My energy level often feels like it did 20 years ago. An unexpected perk of that higher energy level is more creativity and fun. When you feel good, it’s easier to laugh.  I read studies that say that exercise improves brain function, and I agree. My heart rate and blood pressure are lower now than they have been in years. The medications I am on now for blood presssure are a fraction of the amounts I was on pre heart attack, with doses at the minimum levels possible.
  3. My Circle of Friends, Family, and Activities. With diet and exercise, I learned to cut the bad stuff like fatty foods and sitting all the time and add more good stuff – like whole foods and exercise. There were certain parts of my life that were stressful, filled with conflict, and made me unhappy. One at a time, I removed those stressors from my life and world. Until they were gone, I had no idea how much energy and happiness they sapped from me. Though some causes are noble and worthy, when they cease being fun, it’s time to move on to new challenges. Removing things and people from my life isn’t always a judgment against them as it is a recognition that my personality and skills are not a good fit to mesh with theirs. Never underestimate the power of finding the right fit for your world and friends. Surrounding yourself with positive people who appreciate you and others and who encourage you to grow is as transformational to my life as exercise and diet changes were.

In the same time frame, Richard and I have adjusted to having an empty nest and our role as parents of college students. I went back to work for the first time in 20 years and started a new career. I feel blessed to work for a company I love that lives by its core values of teamwork, integrity, and excellence. Never in my life have I worked with such a good team of supportive people who have become my extended family.

Community service is and will continue to be a large part of my life. Those who know me know I go in whole heart and soul to work for causes in which I believe. I am working to learn to pace myself and set boundaries. I removed some activities from my plate. At the same time, I’ve added others. At church, our parish has merged with another. As two cultures become one and people learn to work with new people in a new, larger parish, I can share my time and talents. As I watch this merger take root, I see many new opportunities for spiritual growth and evangelization.

Two years ago, as the cardiologist put the stent into my heart and I was awake on the operating table when my heart rate dropped to 20, I did not know if I would live to see my husband and kids again. I did get to see them again and appreciate them now more than ever.

Little did I know that that day would transform my whole world. My biggest life regret is that when my kids were growing up, they saw more of the stressed mom struggling to survive than the happier, kinder, and gentler one who has more fun that I am today.

With a happier and healthier heart, mind, and body, I see a world of hope and new opportunities.

God wasn’t done with me, and I know I’m still a work in progress. The best is yet to come.

Letting Go – A Cycle

Thirteen years ago, Richard and I left our kids with friends and went to our burned-out shell of a home to personally throw out the kids’ toys. Our home had burned, and we learned that the smoke from burning plastic during the fire could have adhered to their toys that we had thought would be saved.

We had a dumpster in our driveway, and we gritted our teeth as we threw out our kids’ favorite toys. We didn’t want them to see us throw out the toy kitchen, the Legos, and bins of toys I had so painstakingly found for them. Our kids, in kindergarten and second grade, didn’t know that that year, their Christmas toy replacements were paid for with our insurance claim.

That fall, as we tossed out most of our belongings, I hesitated to throw out my cookbook collection. I had spent a lifetime collecting my favorite cookbooks and had carefully marked them with notes. The books that were left were scorched and smoked. I hoped the smell would one day go away, so I put them in an air tight tub with fabric softener sheets. Maybe with time the smell would go away.

A few times over the next 13 years, I opened that tub, hoping the smell would be gone. It didn’t happen. Each time, the smell brought back all those bad memories.

Now, my kids are in college, and we’re reorganizing our empty nest. We’re making room for the next chapter in our lives.

Yesterday, I re-discovered the tub of charred cookbooks. They still smelled. In 13 years, I’ve never once been able to look at my notes or retrieve a favorite recipe. It was time.

Our son, who was 5 years old at the time of the fire and had just started kindergarten, was helping us move and re-arrange furniture. The tub was too heavy for me to lift to throw out.

I went with him to the trash can. As soon as I saw those old recipes, I knew I couldn’t watch.  “Throw them out,” I told him.

“Do you want to go through them?” He asked.

“Just get rid of them,” I said as I went back inside.

The little boy I helped a lifetime ago in the biggest loss of our lives was now helping me.

I thought of the other things in our lives that are broken that we sometimes hold onto. We hope they will change, and we wrap them up tightly in our hearts. The pain returns when we remember those packages.

Sometimes, we have to simply purge those charred remains in our hearts to make room for the joy in our present, in our now.

Praying Parents

Parenting doesn’t stop with the diapers. Or the swim lessons, the piano lessons, and the homework.

Frankly, I enjoy my empty nest and relish my kids writing their own stories. Both are in college. The only regret I have about raising my kids is that I didn’t enjoy the moment more. Even so, Richard and I resolved before having them to make them our priority and do the best we kid in raising them.

For 20 years, that has been our priority. Now, we are marking our own new paths while they venture on their own.

But we still have an important job. Each morning we are able starts with a mission – to head to daily Mass to pray for our kids. I imagine for the rest of our lives, so long as we are able to get there and there is an early morning Mass, that’s where we’ll be.  Walking in together, that time in Mass, worshiping together and commending our kids to the care and influence of all the saints and angels under heaven, we start each day. And with that commendation, we can move forward for the day.

And I realize in the circle of life, we’re beginning a new round in that circle. For 25 years, since Richard’s mother met me, she has prayed for me at daily Mass just as she prayed for her sons and grandchildren. She continues today.

When our time on  earth has ended, our prayers will continue.

 

Heroic Dads

As we cleaned and reorganized this spring, preparing for an empty nest, I found an essay Nick wrote a few years ago, where Nick explained why his dad is his hero.

My children are now grown. Richard’s integrity is the biggest force in the formation of their character. I grew up without a good father role model and see the difference in my own kids’ hearts. His confidence in and devotion to our kids gives them something I never had. Nick’s words are the most fitting tribute I can make this Father’s Day.

Nick’s essay:

My Heroic Dad

My Dad is my hero for many reasons. When I was little, he played Thomas the Train with me and helped me set up train tracks all over the floor. Then we ran toy trains and had a lot of fun. Now that I am older, I see the other things he does. His hard work, his character, and his ability to put his family first are a few of the things I can learn from him. Even though he is not perfect and admits when he makes mistakes, my dad fills the role of hero extremely well as a man’s man.

Dad works hard running his own business. When he has work for clients, he sometimes works late on deadlines and does without sleep. But he never complains that he is tired. He works just as hard with chores, working until the job is completely done. When I get tired while doing yard work, he always keeps going. Dad is always there to take over if I get tired hand-sawing a limb, even though I know that he is as tired as I am.

Another thing heroic about Dad is his overall character. In a word, nice describes Dad. He is friendly to everyone and listens to people. Although we can all lose our tempers, it seems like dad never gets angry. He controls it very well. I know I can trust my dad because he is honest and keeps his word.

Family is always his first priority. Even if he’s on a tight deadline with his job, caring for his family is Dad’s primary objective. If I’m ever having trouble learning a song on guitar, I can just ask him for help. On the outside, he is a white-haired old man who is almost eligible for the senior discount at stores. But on the inside, he is a little kid who wants to play guitar and make many jokes. This is Dad. Also, if Mom is ever talking on TV or the radio, Dad goes out of his way to get up early in the morning, and watch or listen to her. In addition, he usually doesn’t buy anything for himself because he spends his money on his family, church, business, and friends.

One of my favorite memories is when Dad took me to Louisville so we could go to a Jeff Beck concert, our favorite guitarist. Dad introduced me to Jeff Beck so I would discover other types of music besides heavy metal. He introduced me to jazz from the 1920’s to the 1960’s and the Mississippi Delta blues. Listening to it at the concert is the best music I have ever heard.

In conclusion, a hero or man’s man has many admirable qualities. Dad’s qualities that stand out are his strong work ethic, strong character, and family focus. With the way he lives his life, he shows me the type of person I want to be as I become an adult – a hero.

The Cost and Value of Integrity

“You’ve lost your head over nothing,” someone ranted at me this spring as I made a difficult decision.

Sometimes, the cost of integrity is higher than others. Being honest sometimes has a material cost – it can be more expensive short term to follow the rules and do things right.

Other times, there is a personal cost. To follow our conscience, we occasionally make tough choices that cost us relationships.

St. Thomas More did lose his head over his integrity five hundred years ago. King Henry VIII usurped Church lands and authority in his quest to get a divorce and marry Anne Boleyn. More resigned his position as Chancellor of England and refused to acknowledge Henry VIII as the head of the Church of England.

More attempted to rely on a diplomatic course to hold to his conscience but not publicly oppose the king. As he wrote his daughter while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London, “I am, said I, the King’s true faithful subject…and pray for his Highness and all his and all the realm. I do no­body harm, I say none harm, I think none harm, but wish everybody good.”

Sometimes the problem with keeping your integrity lies in those around you who do not keep their own. The king wanted More’s approval and lashed out against him for his refusal to compromise. 

Despite pressure from the king, his peers, his friends, and his family, More held steadfast in following his conscience. He was tried and convicted of treason and was beheaded. Before he died, More said, “I die the king’s faithful servant, but God’s first.”

This spring, I learned the high price integrity can cost. More’s example sustained me and reminded me to find solace and strength in my own faith.

Seventeen years ago, I converted to the Catholic faith. On Easter Vigil, I made my first communion and was confirmed. It was important to me at the time, but I didn’t realize how profoundly it would change my life. As I affirmed my faith in Jesus Christ with my whole heart, my Confirmation truly made an indelible mark on my soul.

St. Ambrose described this as “the Spirit of wisdom of understanding, the spirit of right judgment and courage, the spirit of knowledge and piety… Christ the Lord confirmed you and placed the Spirit in your hearts as a pledge.”

Now, I realize that my faith is what gave me the strength to pay a high cost for my own integrity.

And I realized that sometimes when we pay a high cost to take the path of integrity, we learn that the value of our integrity is priceless.

From Ashes to Beauty

Twenty-five years ago, on our first date, I knew Richard was different.

I was a she-woman man-hater with a chip on my shoulder that was more the size of a log than a chip. I had battle scars from being lied to, used and abused – and didn’t even realize how angry I was because I had been handled instead of loved most of my life. Richard gave me one look that pierced my soul and commented, “You’ve had a rough time.”

In that moment, I don’t know how, but he saw beyond the pain and the anger to the real me.

I had resolved to marry the opposite of my own father and did just that. I found an honest, decent guy.

Twenty-three years ago, we married. He quietly planted seeds of integrity and trust, which took years if not decades to take root. With his support, I found my faith.

Those vows of for richer for poorer, for better for worse, and in sickness and health resound with me more now. Together, we’ve worked our way through all of those. We both really enjoyed each phase of our raising a family together.

Our kids are raised, and a friend told me that I shouldn’t use the term empty nest. Instead, I should talk about our second honeymoon.

As I look back on the better half of my life, with Richard, what I appreciate most is the solid foundation he – and we – have given our kids. They have a rock solid foundation and grew up with an example of a quiet, simple man who works hard, tells the truth and puts his family’s needs above his own. Every single time.

Never underestimate the strength of integrity. His integrity helped me build a heart with hope and create something beautiful from the ashes of my childhood.

Turn the Page – Mission Accomplished

A fifteen year chapter in the story of my life has now ended.

Fifteen years ago, I thought about homeschooling my kids. But the idea scared me because I didn’t know how to teach a kid to read.

Somehow that summer, my daughter taught herself to read. When it was time for her to begin kindergarten, she tried it in a perfect environment but asked to homeschool.

We said yes. We didn’t know anything or anyone who homeschooled. I bought her a workbook at Sam’s and looked at the What Your Kindergartener should know book. We figured we would try it a year and if it didn’t work, we would just have her repeat kindergarten. It was a leap of faith.

We ended up homeschooling for 15 years; my younger son has just finished high school.

Fourteen years ago, we decided to add to the homeschooling mix by starting a business from our home, which our husband still runs. I continued to work part-time to supplement our family’s income.

Thirteen years ago, two weeks after our school year began, when my son was in kindergarten and my daughter was in 2nd grade, our home and business burned.  The primary things salvaged in that fire were our books, our business, and the kids’ school supplies. We took that as a sign we were to continue schooling them.

We have since schooled through challenges including a tough economy, surgery for me, and a heart attack 18 months ago.

I can only credit the grace of God who worked in many ways to keep us going. He helped us by many different paths:

  • Help from friends. We made good friends who also homeschooled, and together we pooled our talents and resources to teach our kids. That is how my kids took classes in elementary school Latin, aerospace, and high school science.
  • Help from coops. Local cooperatives gave my kids opportunities in choir, drama, Spanish, speech, strings ensembles, art classes, guitar, handbells, self defense, and grilling.
  • 4-H. Our 4-H program gives its youth as much as they put into the program. We put a lot into 4-H and got far more out of it. In addition to the hard skills they learned through projects ranging from livestock to computers, they gained invaluable leadership and community experiences. Both of my kids went to Washington, D.C. multiple times through 4-H. My son flew to Atlanta for a trip, and my daughter got to participate in a team presentation at the U. S. Department of Agriculture. They both met Senators and Representatives as well as other government leaders.
  • Kolbe Academy. For their high school program, my kids enrolled in a classical Catholic curriculum based in California. We tailored it to what the kids needed.
  • Non-traditional learning opportunities. We’ve tried a lot of online options – Dive DVD’s to work with Saxon Math, Teaching Textbooks for high school math, and Kinetic Learning’s physics program. One semester, we tried a chemistry class through a virtual school. For one semester in high school, my daughter enrolled in our local Master Gardener’s program and called it botany. She credits that class with her success in courses she’s taken as a plant science minor in college. Both kids also successfully completed college classes in high school through bridge programs.
  • Community Opportunities. We’re blessed to live in a city with a fantastic library system and fine arts opportunities. We appreciated the Suzuki violin program as well as the Evansville Children’s Choir. Our YMCA offered outstanding fitness opportunities as well.

As this chapter closes, I think the biggest thing our kids got from their homeschool education was not the academics – mind you, those are very important. But the real intangibles were far bigger:

  • Family Bonding. We’ve hustled through tough times together and shared our talents. Our kids know we will do anything in the world for them, and that has given them a strong base.
  • Faith. During those early school years, every morning after breakfast started with family Bible time. When our daughter started high school, we decided to try reading the Bible aloud a couple of chapters a day start to finish. We only read when all 4 of us were there, and it took 4 years to finish. But we did read the Bible aloud together as a family – both the action stories and the rest.
  • Hard Work.  We had a whatever it takes attitude with running our business and schooling our kids. It was often a team effort that taught our kids to take care of as much themselves as possible. When our kids were little, we sold Bethlehem Books at conventions to raise funds to pay for their schoolbooks. Both kids were expected to help us sell, set up displays, and inventory the books for each convention. When I had my heart attack, my daughter came home from college for Christmas and worked through grading, prepping, and tutoring her brother to help him finish that semester.  Last fall, when we realized I would need to start working full-time 6 months ahead of schedule, we sat down as a family to figure out how Nick would finish his final semester with my being gone every business day. Both my husband and Nick worked together to make it happen. It helped that he was enrolled part-time in a college class. I see the fruits of their strong work ethic now as both my kids have pollinated corn for a summer job. My daughter worked in a distribution warehouse last summer and has just been certified as a forklift operator for her job this summer. My son worked food service part-time to both buy and pay for a car to work his way through college.

And now I understand why God had me start the next chapter of my life 6 months before this one ended. He knew I needed to focus on the future and new opportunities instead of mourning the passing of old ones.

When I was a kid, we listened to books on tape that said when a page was finished: Turn the page.

It is now time for me to turn the page as the final words on this chapter say: Mission accomplished.

 

 

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