Hey You

Hey you, yes you, stop being so hard on yourself. You can either be your own worst enemy or your own best friend. Choose.

Your worst enemy will constantly be judging you. How you look, how you dress, and even who your friends are will become a constant irritation that haunts your every thought.

But, your best friend will accept all the different components that make you who you are: will love how you are not afraid to explore all aspects of your life to learn what attributes, features, and oddities go into making what’s your individual style.

Your worst enemy will be waiting, lurking, just inside your mirror as you hesitantly look at your reflection each morning. Your mind explodes with; “You look ridiculous.” “That doesn’t fit right.” “What did you do to your hair.” and “Go wash your face and start over.”

Uh huh, you know what I’m talking about. You can change that conversation you’re having with yourself. All you have to do is change your mindset. Turn off the negative and turn on the positive.

Your best friend will love that quirky outfit you pulled together this morning; the bold makeup statement you saw in a magazine; and the new hair cut that’s all the rage today.

Be you! You are incredibly unique! Love who you are today! Listen to that voice that is positive not negative. It’s a choice.

Don’t GO through life wishing you were something or someone you’re not.

GROW through life and become the best you that you can be!

My Father

 

Some people wonder how you can love someone who you cannot see, cannot touch, and cannot be heared. They can’t understand how you can follow teachings from a book that has no up-to-date authorship that can show proof of its claims.

How can you believe, without question, in so-called miracles that took place so long ago?

There are magicians today who can explain away these as trickery.

Who do you imagine you are talking to in that quite place you go to in the mornings and again before bed?

You say you are “led,” but, no one ever hears these discussions. What is the need for “secrecy” if your claims are true?

How can you believe in a place called Heaven, which cannot be verified as to its existence? There is absolutely no rational proof that a Heaven exists, or a Hell for that matter.

With everything going on in this world, there is still a prejudice, a need to persecute, those who believe in something more than we can see, or those who believe differently.  At the least, they belittle those who gather on holy days to celebrate this “thing” they cannot understand.

As for me and my house, we will follow this

-unseen (how can you look at a newborn babe, a sunrise, a flower pushing up through a winters cold ground, and not see His wonder?)

-untouched (how can you not feel His touch when you stand humbly before Him?),

-non-vocal (how can you not hear His voice when He speaks so loudly through the quite?)

-imagined (how can you ignore the ache in your own heart for Him?) “presence” that we call God.

The complex, simple answer to all these questions is FAITH. Through Faith we see, through Faith we hear, through Faith we feel, through Faith we believe, through Faith we are saved.

Father, I thank you for touching my heart, for giving me sight, and for talking to my soul. I praise you! I love you! I thank you!

In Peace There Is Strength

Find peace with your past,

And, you will draw strength from those who made you.

Find peace with your present,

And, you will have strength of character.

Find peace with your family,

And, you will draw strength from each other.

Find peace with who you are,

And, you will have strength from within.

Find peace with the road you’re traveling,

And, you will have strength abundant.

Find peace with your faith,

And, you will have strength through knowledge.

But, never mistake pride for strength.

For if pride becomes your leader, your teacher, your friend,

You will quickly lose all- your present, your future,

Your family, and your friends.

~ Diana Mankin Phelps 2017

Yesterdays

With this incredible year coming to an end, as so many have, can we not take the time to look back on our yesterdays-our families yesterdays-our individual yesterdays-our nations yesterdays?

Family-

Many of us are watching our families grow and form their own families. Oh, we miss them when they are busy and we are not, or when they move away and we see them only several times a year. At the same time, we find joy and peace in their lives, their happiness, their successes, their adventures. We worry when they worry, and hurt when they hurt. Once a parent always a parent. The yesterdays passed so quickly when our homes were full of little ones, and school, work and church kept us busy. Life was and is good. Cherish your moments, they are fleating and quickly turn into memories.

Myself-

A young woman asked a question, “With this year almost over what is your greatest accomplishment?” Some said marrying the love of their lives. Others wrote graduating from high school or college. And some answered that the birth of their child was their greatest joy. All unique experiences to each of them and worthy of their proud answers.

I thought about this question all day before I answered. Her accomplishment had been graduating from the University of Arkansas. Education is one of the best ways to end any year. Finally, I found my words to sum up how I will remember this year of yesterdays. I have so many accomplishments, but they are little ones. I looked into the eyes of my children, and I saw the present. I looked into the eyes of my grandchildren, and saw the future. Then I looked into my husbands eyes, and found joy with our memories, and the time we have with each other and our family. So my greatest accomplishment this year, is the love of this life that God has given to me.

Our Nation –

Who knows where our new president will lead us as a nation? But, he is our President and we must embrace that fact. There are a lot of positives that Donald Trump brings into his new role. And yes, there are negatives. There would be negatives with whoever was elected-at least we see his…  Who would have given the man a second thought when he started his campaign? Who would have dreamed he could have walked away as the Republican party nominee? And then, Donald Trump pulled off an unbelievable upset, which stopped the “Clinton Machine” in its tracks, placing him in the White House. He has surprised us every step of the way. Now, we will all watch as he appoints those who are qualified as expert advisors in their fields to guide him-teach him. And we must pray for them all, as we have always done for our leaders.

I hope you will take the time to do this exercise and think about your greatest accomplishments.

Happy New Year!

 

Season of Thankfulness

Thanksgiving has begun this season of thankfulness. A time when we pause, when we think about our relationships with family and friends, when we evaluate our spiritual life, giving is a priority.

These things are all tied together. Without our spiritual life in order, our relationships with others is superficial and giving is minimal. We are “Scrooge.” We don’t mean to be, and hope that others don’t see that part of us. We probably don’t even see it in ourselves. But, it’s in our hearts because of the void that has taken hold where love once lived.

We must give ourselves away, completely, in order to be able to give to others with a heart that loves. Our hearts should be overflowing with the love of Christ. There should not be room for anything else in our lives to influence our thoughts or actions.

If we want to have love based relationships with others, our spouses, our children, our friends, then we must first have a love based relationship with our Lord and Savior. Not just during this season of thankfulness, but all year, every day, we must keep our hearts in order.

To be able to give with an open heart, to give joyously, we must feel the joy that comes with a heart that’s overflowing with His love. The more we give, of ourselves and of gifts to others, the fuller our hearts and souls become.

Everything is tied together, not just during this season of thankfulness, everyday. We are thankful, so our love of Christ and His love for us overflows into our relationship with others, and our giving is abundant.

Begin with yourself during this season of thankfulness. Give yourself the best gift of all. Allow Jesus Christ to be the focus of your love, your relationships, your giving, and you will be truly thankful.

Gods love is the greatest gift of all.

 

 

You Are What You Are, Until Your Not

We are all born with unique talents and specific desires. Some of us are outgoing while others are quite, shy and withdrawn. Those who are comfortable talking to strangers and enjoy being in the middle of whatever is going on, are envied by those who would never want to be in the position of having to engage in conversation with people they don’t know. They don’t “mingle.” 

You know who I am talking about. You remember them from childhood. They were the ones who tried to hide behind the student sitting in front of them in the classroom, for fear of being called upon by the teacher. Do others even notice these timid, low-self-esteemed individuals? I’ve often wondered if those raising their hands every chance they get, even notice those who hide.

I was one of these introverted individuals. I can hear some of you doubting this. But, if you knew me when I had someone to hide behind, then you know this to be true. I didn’t have to talk or explain anything because there was always someone else to do that for me. I was told once that I seemed to disappear when more outgoing people would enter a room. And I did. I couldn’t imagine that anyone would want to hear what I thought, or had to say about anything. I was not important. I was of no value as a person. So, I stayed in the shadows of life. I was who I was.

Three things happened to change who I believed myself to be. The first thing was that I felt valued as an employee. I was good at what I did. I began to like myself. Secondly, the people I would “hide” behind were removed from my life. Again, I liked the person I was without them. Then the most significant, and most tragic, event changed who I was in an instant.

I was no longer anyone except who I needed to be at that time. I was a mother of a wounded warrior. He hurt. I hurt. He struggled. I struggled. He cried, I cried. He needed support. I gave support. He needed help. I looked for help. He needed to talk. I listened or found someone he could talk with. If I didn’t have the answers, then I went looking for them. I wasn’t anything close to being all that my son needed. But, I tried. I wasn’t who I had been. I was more.

I believe that no matter how you see yourself, no matter how important or insignificant you saw yourself in the past, who you are begins today. I’m not saying it’s easy to jump out from behind those doors you’ve been hiding behind. I know it is not. I was good at hiding. And I did not want to turn that door knob.

All I’m trying to say is be brave enough to “shine.” Wherever you are, whatever is going on in your family, however you are perceived to be in the workplace, it all comes down to you. You must begin to like the person you are, where you are. Step out from behind the wall you find comfort behind and “shine.” Just one little sparkle at a time. I know you can.

If I could stand back up and fight every time I’ve been knocked down, then you can too. Oh, it’s not easy. You are allowed to shout, cry, be angry and feel so low that the grass will grow over you. But, then it’s time to get up. It is time to stand, to stand tall, to shake it off and take that first step, over and over again. No matter how many times you are knocked down, get back up and stand taller. You can do it, one step at a time and as time goes by you will feel stronger, better, taller. Just concentrate on your “one step at a time.” No more hiding. that part of who you were is gone.

It is a process that repeats itself. You stand up and you are knocked down again. But, each time you grow. You never lose, you grow, you learn. Your steps will change and your choices will be wiser.

You are who you are, until you’re not, until you choose to be more.

 

 

 

Emotional Support Animals

Republicans Introduce Bill to Get Puppies for Veterans

Currently – an emotional support animal is a companion animal which provides therapeutic benefit, such as alleviating some symptoms of the disability, (Such as PTSD.) Emotional support animals are typically dogs, but may include other animals. A person with a verifiable disability can be prescribed an emotional support animal by a physician or medical professional, and will be afforded protection under the United States federal law.

These are the legal aspects of emotional support animals. But, from the personal aspects of the veterans who have known life with an emotional support animal, it has often been a life saver.

My son, a marine wounded in Iraq eleven years ago, has had an emotional support dog, Rocco, from the time he was released from the hospital, and assigned to a house on base with his wife, at Fort Sam Houston Army Base in San Antonio, TX.

Rocco died a few weeks ago. When Aaron called, it was to let me know a member of our family had gone. We had seen Rocco aging, but still, we were not prepared to let him go…

As we talked about how Rocco had been with Aaron through so much of his life, we were amazed at how that marine dog had been there to help Aaron through some pretty tough times, as well as the good. Unconditional love between those two was evident to all.

The companionship of a dog can make the difference in a veterans decision to keep moving forward. Rocco had been with Aaron through years of surgeries, the birth of his two children, a devastating divorce, and the challenges of becoming a single parent. His 9-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son never knew a time in their lives when Rocco wasn’t with them.

Rocco was with Aaron when nobody else was around, the silent times, the hardest times. He was there when Aaron struggled with the emotional and physical pain from injuries sustained during his service in Iraq. Rocco was there when he was filled with joy and pride as he brought his daughter, then his son, home from the hospital. And he was there through the devastating dissolution of his marriage shortly after the birth of his son.

Rocco stood with him as they watched over those two children when Aaron took on the full-time job of being a single parent. At Christmas time there was always a stocking hanging on the mantle for Rocco too. He was there as Aaron’s children grew and went off to school each morning. And sat at attention next to him, as they stood in the front yard watching for them to appear around the corner on their way back home. Both greeting them as if they had been gone for years and had crossed the Sahara desert to reach their destination.

This marine dog has earned his stripes, and a salute for a job well done. This world needs more Rocco’s to stand by the side of our warriors. I ask that you support legislation in your states, as well as at the federal levels, to recognize and support the importance of the need for these special companions to our heroes.

image

Rocco, you will be missed…

Operation Mend

Some of you have never heard of Operation Mend. It is one of the smaller charitable organizations, and it is based at UCLA. If you have read A Mother’s Side of War or The Other Side of War then you know how this organization was founded. Their focus is to treat the most severely wounded and disfigured post 9/11 veterans.

Throughout the chapters that deal with the founding and the purpose of Operation Mend, you will find this is a very unique organization. They not only treat the warrior, but they help to heal their families too. How do they do this? With the love and compassion that comes from the Buddy Family program.

Aaron was the first patient of Operation Mend. And as Willie Giest on the Today Show said,”Aaron has become the face of Operation Mend.” That is a literal statement. The physicians had to rebuild Aaron’s face. This took about 25 surgeries and millions of donated time and money? This brought the number of surgeries to 64 that Aaron has endured.

Marine combat correspondent Cpl. Aaron Mankin was badly burned by a roadside bomb in Iraq, ten years ago. He was wearing his googles when the Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV) exploded. These saved his eyes from the fire. But the burns below the googles were severe, as were the burns on both arms and hands.

Without the generous donation of time from the surgeons, and donated monies for the care of this nations wounded warriors, I can honestly say that our lives would be so much less in so many ways. I say we, because while Aaron received the best medical care this country has to offer, I was being cared for by our Buddy Family. When Aaron was up to it, after a surgery, we were spoiled by the original Buddy Family.

We were the first to enter this program that didn’t have a name yet. It did not take long for the perfect name to emerge. And the Buddy Family program grew as more veterans came to seek treatment. Volunteers all over the Los Angles area were calling  to volunteer, to open their homes and hearts to a wounded warrior and their family. This helped to bring families together to heal.

For the rest of the story on Aaron’s recovery and our family’s healing, purchase a book through Amazon. For every book purchased in the month of November, $1.00 will be donated to Operation Mend and $1.00 will go to the Bob Woodruff foundation. That is $2.00 that will be donated from the sale of A Mother’s Side of War (Hardcover or Paperback) and The Other Side of War (Paperback only) rom Amazon throughout the month of November. The perfect Christmas gift!!!

image

Mothers of Today

HAPPY MOTHERS DAY to all you moms on our special day!  I hope your day is filled with the love you deserve! You are the strength behind those who have made this nation what it is today. You have cradled and taught with love and compassion those who have grown to be the leaders of our country through the years. You are raising up the next generation that will be responsible for the future endeavors to maintain our freedoms. Be proud of who you are, and the importance of your passion to be mothers! God bless you all, and may He hold you firmly in His hands.

Bitter or Better

When our life changes because of an unforeseen circumstance, it can change how we see ourselves and how others look at us. This can be something that changes us on the inside – where no one else can see, or it can be an injury that alters our appearance – something that everyone can see. We each have to decide if this is going to make us bitter or better.

I think we can all say that life has thrown us whirling in the wind a few times. Most times we just keep on going after dusting ourselves off. Sometimes we cry and stomp our feet about how someone has “done us wrong,” but we still keep doing the things that must be done. And life continues, a little different, but it still continues. These are not the types of changes I’m talking about.

When I look at my son, and all that he has been through in the last ten years as a wounded warrior, I’m humbled. This young man took what would have made most men crumble, and allowed it to make him better not bitter.

When I look at my daughter, the mother of a Down Syndrome child for the past 11 years, again I am humbled. Sarah has taken a child that some told her to throw away, put in a home, go live your life, and made herself better not bitter.

I can’t imagine life without the examples of strength, courage, and commitment that my children show me every day. They make my life better.