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!

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!

 

THE GIFT

I wrote this back in July. I think it’s message for our new Commander-and-Chief, is an important one.

I have been trying to write this “Independence Day” message for a couple of weeks. And frankly, I have been struggling. Then, a new connection on LinkedIn sent me a message and through our exchange, I was inspired. If not me, who? I wrote at the end of my message, a reference to the firework displays. The veterans who have seen war, who have fought battles, our warriors, struggle during those fifteen minutes of, “Bombs Bursting in Air.” For many it is terrifying. The noise can throw them back in time when there were real bombs exploding, real danger, real loss of life, real friends dead. We are a young country with many wounds to heal. But, we are strong and need compassionate leaders.

Out history of the emphasis we put on this day of the year, to celebrate our nations freedom, to honor all veterans from that first day when we declared ourselves an independent nation in 1776, is phenomenal! We are a young nation at 240 years. But, we are a strong nation who needs strong leaders.

There will be family reunions, picnics, barbecues, parades, concerts, and baseball games in every backyard, small town, city, and state where people can gather. Th months of preparations for this single day, to show our patriotism is nothing short of monumental. We are a young country. But, we are strong and need righteous leaders.

This one day of the year has been stretched into a week, or more, of honoring our veterans in various ways. All the ball parks have a veteran throwing out that first pitch. There are charitable organizations honoring veterans with special events. And some families are gathering to remember the one that won’t be with them this year…We are a young nation, but, we are strong and the price has been high. We need honorable leaders.

All this attention to the veterans walking among us today, warms my heart deeper than any of you will ever know. Some of you have similar feelings from your own circumstances, and some of you stand proud that one of yours has given their livesvso we can keep this day of freedom sacred. We honor you too… This is a day about remembering the price as well as the gift. Yes, the gift. The gift of freedom all veterans fought for, and are still fighting for today. This gift of freedom…all gave some, and some gave all.

Remember this Mr. President.

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Walmart & Sam’s Clubs – Way Back When

Announcing my eBook,  Walmart & Sam’s Clubs – Way Back When, The only regional chain that became a national powerhouse, is now available! It’s a 30 minute read about the chapter in my life with Mr. Sam.

History was made!

I began with Walmart in 1975 during the set up of store #125 in Fort Smith, Arkansas. When I moved to the offices in Bentonville, I was the first associate assigned to start up the Sam’s Club division under the direction of Mr. Sam.

The easiest way to find it is to search my name, Diana Mankin Phelps, on the Amazon Kindle site. It’s free through their Kindle Unlimited program – 30 day free trial.

The Kindle app can be downloaded on any computer, laptop, tablet or cell phone.

Its a 30 minute read about the chapter of my life with Mr. Sam, and the beginning of the Clubs.

Enjoy the read! And don’t forget to leave me your feedback!

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My Amanda

July 30, 1978-September 27, 1978

 

My daughter would have been 38 years old today. I held her for nearly two months before she drifted away… I have been asked many times about the loss of a child so young; a child of any age. Maybe even more so since Aaron was so gravely injured. And I opened that door when I wrote about Amanda in my book. Questions like; How did you survive the loss of a child? Do you think they remain infants in Heaven? Or, do you think they age as the years go by? Surviving any loss is a personal journey that isn’t like anyone elses. There is no right way or wrong way to “get on with life.” And it can take years before we even want to begin to pull ourselves up again. On some days, I think of Amanda as an infant in my arms-rocking her in the nursery that was always shaded by the fullness of the flowering Mimosa trees outside the window. On other days, I imagine her as an adult. But, always she is my baby child…always I miss her…

I have no answers, no understanding, one day I will…

When a child is born, and stays but a short time in this life, angles wings seem to surround them, protect them, comfort them. It is as tho for those first few weeks, they exist between where they came from and this world where they have been born. We hold them tenderly, watching quietly as their sleeping faces slowly smile, grin broadly, cooing-speaking in the language of the heavens. Then, with a rich assurance of familiarity, reveal to us the Devine presence that fills their dreams. That glimpse from where they came, is what we hold onto. Somewhere deep within our own soul-no words to describe-we come to understand…they could not stay…they were not meant to stay…it hurts…it always hurts…it gets a little  easier as time passes…but, it still hurts…it will always hurt…

Baby blue, were the color of her eyes. Like a breath of Spring she came and left, and I still don’t know why…

My Amanda…

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Daddy On My Mind

My daddy is always with me. He was always the one who I could count on to be in my corner, to be there with an encouraging word and to show me his forgiving heart no matter what I had done. He was the example of unconditional love throughout my life.

I learned from my daddy what it was to be a parent, a friend, a companion, and most of all-how to love unconditionally. The memories I hold dear are the ones when my daddy had an arm around my shoulders. When I was half his size we would go for walks in the evening after dinner. Just him and me-slowly walking to the corner of our street in Fresno, California. That big hand resting on my shoulder made me proud. I felt his pride in me too.

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My dad was the oldest of three boys. A little James Dean look going on here.IMG_0429

On his side of the family I was the first girl, the first granddaughter on both sides of my family. And I was a prissy little girl.Scan 7

My daddy was always watching as I grew, teaching me to walk, holding my bike as he taught me to ride, sitting in the passenger seat as I learned to drive a car, and as I grew into an adult.

My daddy was not one to talk a lot about anything. He was a quite man, a strong man, a man of convictions when it came to family. When he did say something to someone about me, about my job with Walmart, about me working to start the Sam’s Clubs, there was pride in his voice. It made me proud to hear his pride in me. I guess that has always been the most important thing in my world-for my daddy to be proud of me.

I cherished the four mile walks that we took when I would go back home for a visit. We would get up before anyone in the house would stir. My three children would sleep another hour or so as daddy and I would head out the door. Those times were when we could talk about anything, and it never went any further.

When my baby girl passed, daddy held me even when I couldn’t sobbed anymore. He tried to pull the pain out of me and take it on himself, so I wouldn’t hurt. When my big brother passed, (he was two years older than me) daddy was the one who held me as we sobbed together. He tried to pull the pain out of me and take it on himself, again.

Then daddy passed…I could still feel his arms holding me…and I’m sure I always will…

 

 

Veterans Emotional Support Animals

Republicans introduce Bill to Get Puppies for Veterans.

Currently – an Emotional Support Animal is a companion animal which provides therapeutic benefits, such as alleviation some symptoms of the disability. (Such as with 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 protected 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 a house on base, with his wife.

Rocco died a few weeks ago. When Aaron called, it was to let me know a member of our family was 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. The unconditional love was easy to see…

The companionship of a dog, or other support animal, can make all 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 full-time single dad. Aaron’s 9-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son had never known a time without Rocco in their lives.

Rocco was with Aaron when nobody else was, the dark times, the silent times. Rocco would lay next to him with the unconditional love that only comes from an animal who senses the pain. He was there when Aaron struggled with the emotional and physical pain from injuries sustained while serving in Iraq. He was there when Aaron was filled with joy and pride as he brought his daughter, then his son, home from the hospital. And he was there through the painful dissolution of his marriage shortly after his son was born.

Rocco stood with Aaron as they watched over those two children as they stumbled and grew through their toddler stage. At Christmas time there was always a stocking on the mantle and a new ornament on the tree for Rocco too. He was there as Aaron’s children grew and went off to school each morning. And sat at attention, watching intently, beside Aaron as those two came around the corner on their way 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 strips, and a salute for a job well done. This world needs more “Rocco’s” to stand beside our warriors. I ask that you support legislation in your states, and at the federal level, to see that these special companions are available to all our heroes who need them.

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Rocco, you will be missed…

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.

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Rocco, you will be missed…

Today

Today I have read extensively about two warriors. I can’t begin to sort through the emotions that I’m feeling, but I’m going to try. Because one needs us and one has given up on us.

I will begin with the one who needs us. I had posted something on Facebook and one person replied simply with a name. John Peck. I saw it, but I didn’t understand and was headed out. But, this was tugging at me… I had to find out who this was and why he would be posted on my page.

There are probably a lot of you who have heard, read, or seen Marine Sgt. John Pecks story. I had not heard about this young man and his determination to live and serve this nation.

Now, I’m going to tell the rest of you his incredible story of living not just surviving.

In 2007, Sgt. John Peck was serving in Al Anbar province, Iraq (This is where Aaron was injured) when he was first wounded. After a daylong patrol searching for Taliban, receiving small arms fire, finding a cache of HME (Home Made Explosives), waiting for his unit’s EOD team, it was time to go back to base. He was manning the machine gun for the lead vehicle, as it rounded a corner the vehicle was hit by a pressure initiated IED. He was thrown from his seat and smashed his head into the machine gun. He remembers fragments from that night. As a result, John was left with vision, balance, and hearing problems. He also suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI), and suffered short-term and long-term memory loss, forgetting everything up to the point of the injury. Twenty-one years of memories were gone. He had to learn everything all over again. To this day he continues to have problems remembering things from before this incident, difficulty finding words, and short term memory issues.

His first injury didn’t stop him from going back to serve his country. He had to beg and plead with doctors to release him from limited duty. You’re probably wondering at this point why? Why would he go back and not just take the medical discharge? “As a Marine, we don’t do it for the pay or the benefits, we go back for the guys on our left and on our right.”

However, on May 24, 2010, life once again changed dramatically for John. At the age of 24, Sgt. Peck was serving in Helmand province, Afghanistan when he stepped on an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) This is the type of explosive that tossed the tank that Aaron was in 10 feet into the air.) and triggered an explosion that would change his life forever. The resulting blast amputated his legs, part of his right arm, damaged his left arm, and caused third degree burns on his stomach.

Sgt. Peck is one of only two people alive to survive blood contamination by the flesh eating fungus, Aspergillosis. As a result of contaminations from surgery, doctors were forced to amputate part of his left arm, making him the third quadruple amputee of the Afghan and Iraq wars.

RECOVERY – Through the blast and twenty-seven different surgeries, John received forty-one pints of blood, thirty-five units of plasma and five units of platelets, and at one point blend out completely. He was medically sedated from May to early August, during which he endured daily surgeries to clean out debris and dead flesh and t6 fight the infection that was slowly spreading through his body. At one point his family received the heartbreaking news that John was living minute to minute and the doctors, sadly, suggested they say their goodbyes. During his surgeries, he flat lined three times and was pronounced dead once.

By the time his body finally started to fight back against the multiple infections attacking it, he was left with his right arm amputated above the elbow, left arm amputated at the mid forearm, and right leg amputated just above the knee. He is also missing his left bicep, first layer of abdominal muscles and his entire left leg due to the flesh eating fungus. The complete loss of his leg means he’s forced to sit on his pelvic bone –  a painful task with which he has learned to cope. When he awoke in early August, he was informed by his family of his extensive injuries, sedation, and near death experiences. Because of his tracheal tube, he couldn’t speak without using a special device. In order to have the tube removed, he had to perform swallow tests, which is where the doctor’s thread a small camera down your throat and feed you small amounts of food and liquid to see if your throat can handle it. “I remember all I wanted was a Mountain Dew and they couldn’t let me have it. One day a nurse walked in with a small can, popped it open and poured it into a bag. She left a second can behind and I, thinking it was soda, told her, ‘As soon as you leave thats mine!’ I soon came to find it was medication.”

When he woke up he couldn’t move any part of his body. He had no strength to lift his limbs nor any range of motion so he had to be stretched out daily. However, there was a problem, John’s skin had become hyper sensitive to touch. In short, the minute anyone made contact with him he was in enormous amounts of pain.

Every year John’s determination inspires those around him – from jumping out of a plane to scuba diving in Key West, and even completing fifty miles on a hand cycle. John also has a passion for helping those who have fallen on hard times. “I was raised by a single mother and every Christmas it was a financial struggle for her. You could see the pain in her eyes as the need to put food on the table out weighed the Christmas wishes of her young son. After my injuries I vowed I would help as many families as I possibly could at Christmas time.” In 2011 he started at a Target in Washington D.C.- helping a single mother purchase gifts for her daughter and surprising the woman with a gift as well. In 2012, after moving to his new home, he helped another mother with two children in Wal-Mart. In 2013 he changed his method and instead of approaching families, he decided to go to layaway and pay off three random accounts with toys in them.

THE FUTURE – John was recently approved for a double arm transplant. Through multiple tests including; skin type, blood draws, mental exams, vein mapping, and ultrasounds, the doctors determined he a strong candidate. He is currently waiting for the call that will take him to Boston and give him back his arms.

Although the double arm transplant is a miracle of the 21st century, it will also be an expensive and long-term recovery for John and his family.

For more information about helping John and his family by donating go to his email – jmpeck1985@gmail.com

Help John to realize his dream of becoming a world renowned chef!

 

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Support the first responders bill that is in congress NOW! It will extend the medical benefits of those who selflessly and courageously were at ground zero on 9/11/2001 in an instant. Their medical needs from working tirelessly in toxic conditions are critical. All you have to do is contact your Senators and Representatives. You don’t even need to call or write. Just post everywhere you can, on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and your blogs, #WORSTRESPONDERS.image