Big Brother of Mine

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I dreamt of you last night, big brother of mine.

I knew you were still with me, big brother of mine.

You walked beside me through the fog, big brother of mine.

As your arm rested gently on my shoulder, big brother of mine.

I dreamt you were beside me when our parents died, big brother of mine.

Then our little sister came up next to me, big brother of mine.

And you walked with me when she died too, big brother of mine.

You see they’re all with you now, big brother of mine.

Yes, I dreamt of you last night, big brother of mine.

And we talked, just you and me, big brother of mine.

I miss them all so very much, big brother of mine.

One day I too will be with you, big brother of mine…

2007-12-31 18.00.00

Memorial Day 2017

This weekend most of you will spend time with friends and family. Perhaps camping out by a lake, or barbecuing in your backyard by the pool, will be how you spend this weekend. And, I hope you appreciate and value the time you have with those around you.

Join me in making this Memorial Day a little different than the others have been. It will always be a day when we remember those who have fought and died in the name of freedom. As well as remembering our friends and family who have gone before us.

One way to honor those who have given their lives in service to our country, is to lift up our nation and her leaders in prayer. Take a few moments out of your morning on Monday to join us in a united prayer at 9:00am CST.

If we don’t hold our leaders up before God, and before other nations, who will? 

It’s up to each of us to honor and respect those who hold office with the responsibility of guiding America. {Especially before other countries.} I’m speaking of all our elected officials. But above all others, I am placing President Trump before you on this Memorial Day.

In my opinion, all the negative conversation is causing our country to in effect be divided. The people of this country spend too much time trying to figure out what reports are true and what is propaganda. Yes, I said PROPAGANDA.

We are essentially watching the character assassination of the President of these United States. The man may not be the one you voted for, but he is OUR PRESIDENT. RESPECT THE OFFICE.

The man is in a learning mode trying to comprehend all that his new title encompasses, and is wading into the role hip deep.  

HE IS OUR PRESIDENT

If you do not even place President Trump before God in your daily prayer life, then you cannot complain, criticism, or bicker about anything he does.

To be clear, I am not condoning every move President Trump makes. And, if he misuses his position, and the power behind the Presidency, then he must be held accountable.

Bottom line ~ Pray for our United States of America and her leaders.

Prayer will help them and it will change you.

 

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.

 

 

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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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.

 

 

 

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…