About Me...

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In a nut shell : I'm a full time working mom, a Star Wars geek, comic book nerd, Disney enthusiast, hockey Mom, a breast cancer survivor of almost a decade and oh let's not forget such a happy, sassy, southern mess!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Life Lesson # 28 ~ FORGIVENESS BRINGS FREEDOM!




This morning as I was reading in my Bible I was struck by the power of one word…disgrace. It always amazes me how God speaks to us through His Word. I was reading in Isaiah, 25:8 to be exact. I tend to read from the Good News version because it's more of today’s English and I honestly can understand it so much better than many other translations. It says this: "The Sovereign Lord will destroy death forever! He will wipe away the tears from everyone's eyes and take away the disgrace his people have suffered throughout the world. The Lord himself has spoken.”  I was left knocked off my feet, why, because it sank in in those moments our tears aren't ours alone! His grace is absolutely sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Go on sit down, pull your seat up and let’s have an honest conversation between friends. While you’re at it grab some coffee and a danish too, this may take a while. 

Life Lesson #28: Forgiveness brings freedom.

Most of those who know me, know 2014 was a roller coaster ride for my family and I. I experienced hurt and disappointment like none I've honestly ever felt before. I can't say I even know how to express the ache my heart felt from late February through late fall 2014. It amazes me how we as humans can provoke such degrees of damage upon not only each other but ourselves in the process of having our own way. The abuse, grief and harm we do in the name of pride absolutely horrifies me. Sadly, many times we ignore the trauma we inflict upon ourselves and others with our dramatic outrage and public disgust by continuing to blame everyone but ourselves for the situation we're in. Even worse many times we allow ourselves to suffer just so we don’t have to take personal ownership and responsibility for the pain we are causing. 

I found myself in a kind of personal struggle as I read this passage this morning. I was totally unprepared for the response inside myself. I began crying, something I have not really done through this whole process to be honest. The words, “He will wipe away the tears from everyone's eyes and take away the disgrace his people have suffered “spoke to me louder than anything else in a long time! The word "disgrace" sat heavy upon my heart. Why? Because through everything this year, and I mean multiple situations, this is exactly what I've felt in all of them... disgraced, embarrassed and yes saddened, all coming from the events precipitating these emotions.

Sometimes situations arise and no matter how hard you try to turn things around, flip your life boat right side up or make your wrong turn work, things get worse. It's not even that you yourself have done anything wrong. A million things could be spinning out of control without your consent. It may be you just happened to be born in a different order or find the one you love slipping away.  Nothing you do is right. Believe me when I say nothing can remove the kind of mess that's swirling into whatever kind of destructive tizzy driven tornado determined at wiping you and everything you love right off the map! Sadly, once this kind of wreckage occurs you can't just pick up and wipe off. Life, the relationships you once held close at this point have been completely obliterated, to the point of eradication, slaughtered in the process of winning the battle and losing the war. The bridge has not only collapsed; it's been burned to ash. Now, no matter what side of the line you stood on before the demolition, it's all gone, up in a puff of smoke. Disgrace is the only word I know to describe this kind of terrible aftermath. Sadness, sorrow, despair and desolation don't even come close to explaining the heartache and why, all because of pride and the need to be right without consideration of the fallout?

I mean how do you recover from an open heart wound like this? How do you retrieve the part of you that was lost, taken and viciously, calamitous and catastrophically cut from your heart? Seriously how do you even begin to recover from this kind of anguish and distress? Is it even possible to recover and find redemption?  The answer is yes! There is absolutely a path back to joy and happiness, past the heartache. First you have to realize you can't control everything and everyone. It's just not possible and once you realize this, life opens up grace and acceptance. Second, cut the line of toxic poison coming into your life, even if you love the title holder of the poison. We can forgive and even love those who pour poison into our lives BUT we do not have to accept their behavior. This is really important because many times we forgive and forget only to have our goodwill continue to be contaminated with bitterness and malevolence. Three, forgive yourself, give your heart a reprieve. Take receipt and ownership in the conflict then shift your way of thinking. Accept you can't change the past, but move and strive for a different prospective tomorrow.   Four let it go. Let the opposition have their say, continue with their personal conflict but back out of the tournament period! Stop being appalled by the differentiation and precarious behavior, remind yourself to love and forgive even if your door needs to stay bolted shut. Remember, we're all humans, living in an imperfect world full of self-doubt, uncertainty, worry, anxiety, and unease. We don't have to participate in every battle! Our freedom comes when we stop fighting. Finally, forgive those who have hurt you and give it to God. What can we do on our own anyway? He sees our pain; He feels our hurts and not once are our tears unseen. His grace, though sometimes hard to understand is sufficient. He alone can and will heal our wounds if we only stop picking at the bone! This is the life lesson I've had to come back to over and over again this last year. Letting go and allowing my Father to protect me, to hold me and to guide me even when nothing made any sense whatsoever. Reality check Christina: You are NEVER alone! 

So maybe you're asking where am I today in all this, do I still feel disgraced, embarrassed, and what about the pain? Well yes at times I feel all of those things BUT I also know without a doubt I walk in grace. I am not ashamed of His grace in my life. My pain is His pain, and by His stripes I am healed (Isaiah 53:5). Jesus is the Great Physician, He is the Healer of my soul just as Michael Card and John Talbot sing of, "Keeper of my soul on rough course faring, help and safeguard my means this night. I am tired, astray, and stumbling, shield my soul from the snare of sin. Healer of my soul, heal me at even', heal me at morning, heal me at noon, healer of my soul". 

So at the end of our lengthy conversation today you may sit here asking what next? Well the truth is nothing goes unseen in His sight no matter how we want to justify our actions. BUT His grace, His forgiveness covers us and ultimately sets us free. Just remember this; once you let it all go, once the room has cleared, it's just you and God. Let Him take your hand and lead you from here on out. For me personally, I can say I forgive, I also know I am forgiven with or without reconciliation. I know His grace covers a multitude of my sins. In every trial, in every up and down life has provided He has and will always be there right beside me. At the end of the day if I have learned but one thing in this lifetime, I know His strength is made strong in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:10).  

~ Christina

Monday, March 30, 2015

Life Lesson #27 ~ CREATE YOUR OWN HAPPILY-EVER-AFTER!




From the time I was a little girl Disney has always played a part in my life, in my imagination, my childhood adventures, my dreams and the deepest parts of my own internal magic, optimism and hope. Now that said, you're probably thinking it's time to back away from the computer screen, put down your hand held technology and simply un-follow this crazy woman and her blog. Trust me friends, stay with me. I promise while I will not disagree I have been known to lose a marble or two from time to time today is not the day!

Those who know me or my family understand the word “Disney" is always just around the corner when our names come to mind. From the time I was small I was brought up in a "Disney" family so to speak. I had dreams of princes, flying elephants, pirate ships and falling down rabbit holes to places where un-birthday parties were the norm. Sure while other girls were singing how their prince would come, I was dashing around figuring out the how to's of not only sailing a ship but figuring out how to set it sailing across the sky. I loved all my tea parties with my daddy as much as I enjoyed our swashbuckling romps around the house with sticks in our hands, fighting off Captain Hook and his crew. The truth is my childhood was amazing. I never knew pessimism, I only understood hope, my primary language was pure imagination.

Now let’s get this straight, even though I can recite and sing through most every Disney animation film known to man, I wasn't brought up to think pixie dust would straighten out any self-wielding trouble I might find myself in! I definitely was set straight about any knights in shining armor snatching me up and bolting off into the sunset with a happily ever after and a song. BUT, let me be clear I never doubted I was secretly a princess! As I've said before long before it was cool I was taught to be brave, kind, full of courage, to live a bit on the odd side while definitely keeping true to my feisty red hair and Scotch-Irish roots. The kicker, by all get out, it better all still be done with grace and humility.  

Life Lesson #27: Creating happily -ever- after isn't as easy as bippity-boppity-boo! It’s no surprise then being a princess doesn't always come with a fairy godmother either. Sometimes you just have to take life by the horns and create your own happily-ever-after!

Many of our family’s major life milestones have developed within the borders of the Disney Kingdom. I was five when my eyes first laid sight on Cinderella's castle inside the Magic Kingdom at the end of Main Street USA. It would be another six years before I saw the wonders of Epcot and some five years later when we celebrated my 16th birthday. My husband Johnny and I continued the tradition in late 1997 when we took Joshua for his first birthday. For those who don't believe magic exists, well there was no doubt in our minds on that particular Thanksgiving day as we both watched Joshua take his first steps inside the Disney Studios. Then again, just after September 11, our hearts took pride in our Nation as we watched our beautiful American flag raised to full staff once again inside Magic Kingdom. Then in 2006 we made what we feared was our last trip as a family to that most magical of places in our hearts. One more trip, one more spin in the tea cups, one more flight across Neverland, one more take off with Dumbo, just one more adventure and of course a few more memories as I underwent chemo treatment for breast cancer.

I still can't think of our 2006 trip without tears welling up. Right now even as I type, tears are falling down my face, Our Disney trip that year was absolutely the most magical of Disney trips ever! My heart skipped, sang and prayed as I watched our boys run, laugh and smile. They were so little still and there was still so much of life yet to share with them, so much magic, so much laughter yet to experience. I was so aware of each moment, not taking a single one for granted. It was a beautiful but late night on Main Street USA, closing time, as folks exited the park. It was not quite the stroke of midnight, but this princess was already fading.  I watched as everyone pushed past us, seemingly without a care in the world, and I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders in those moments. My optimism was slightly faded, I was tired and even a little bit afraid as I said goodbye to Magic Kingdom that warm June evening. It was my mom who wouldn't let me give up in those moments as she both cried with me and held me close. Before I knew what was going on I'd found a second wind in my fight against this cancer which wanted all of me, to consume me and discard me. As I stood there watching our boys running out of the Emporium, giggling and smiling the castle was giving us her goodnight kiss, when you wish upon a star was piping out into the streets and I suddenly felt warm tears falling down my face. I knew then and there just like Hercules, I could go the distance, I knew I had to go the distance if for no one else but Joshua and Micah.

I won't disagree with anyone that Disney is part of our fabric, our storyline, of our greater picture. I realize for many we may seem unusual, a bit odd as a matter of fact but the laughter we share as a family comes from a place of true innocence and joy, a deeper well where real magic still exists despite our age. To us, this magic in our hearts that some may question truly keeps us grounded, allows our imaginations to soar, enabling us not only to feel young, but to keep our memories alive and pure. Sure some may say it's what makes us unique while others may believe it's what makes us appear mad as a hatter. I like to think the truth sprouts from a kinder place, a place where our childhood fantasies, dreams and hopes if grown properly, fed and pruned periodically can inspire and  give us wings. A place where our hearts can soar with courage, where boundaries are not as defined as every day life but just so, just enough, where we're able to reach our goals without sprouting fiendish, destructive giants from a wildly overgrown beanstalk. How will your tale explode across the pages of your life? Will you find creativity, invention, vision, flair? Will you be a catalyst, a muse or an example of ingenuity and imagination or will you leave vast amounts of pages blank and unspent? At the end of the chapter, when you turn the final page of this book we call life, how do you want it to read, how will your story end? With grand tales of years spent looking for love, life and family or days spent happily, content, enjoying this beautiful life you've created together full of laughter and real magic? 

So the answer is no, if you were thinking of asking, I wouldn't trade one minute of one day of any year of my life for the memories I have with my family. These memories we have will last a lifetime and then some. I pray just as my parents have made memories with me, with my children, as Johnny and I have etched memories alongside our boys, we can look forward to doing the same with our grandchildren one day. I guess you could say we are a real bunch of Disney nuts right off the tree, we love our Disney side and the truth is that's how it always will be. From movies to theme parks, each memory is etched into my heart and while I don't live and breathe Disney every moment of every day, come on now I do have my limits ha-ha, I'll take a un-birthday party any day any day of the week. Besides being a princess doesn't always come with a fairy godmother. Sometimes you just have to take life by the horns and create your own happily-ever-after! My only wish, my only hope, my only prayer is just to be side by side, making memories together with those I love. After all, it's not just the magic but the time we share together and the love we experience in the process which creates the memories we carry with us.

Go on, get out there, find what inspires you, make it yours, create your own happily- ever- after, Disney or not!

~ Christina

Friday, March 27, 2015

Life Lesson # 26 ~ JUST GROW WITH IT!





It's hard to believe Johnny and I have been together for close to 20 years. We were absolute babies when we first met in a world that expected us to be both reasonable and serious adults just because our names were printed on a diploma. Goodness gracious, we were still developing and definitely still maturing but there we were ready to take on the man, thrown into a world of discovery with no clue who we were yet or really where we were going. What did it matter what skills we had, by God's sake we were going to make our own way hell or high water! Looking back now some almost 20 years later I wonder what in the Sam hill we were thinking, running around in a post-apocalyptic teenage world trying to pass ourselves off as grownups wielding nothing but our lack of know -how with a definite desire for independence.

It honestly amazes me how Johnny and I ever made it out of our 20's, through our 30's and now well into our 40's. It's not that we were wild, crazy kids with a lack of self-control or vision. Sure we had some crazy, wild ideas of how things should work but as with every couple setting out together we had to grow, with and towards each other. Sometimes through the years it has also meant a part as well.  Growing together, is not an easy task and If anyone thinks this happens overnight, boy do ya'll have a thing or two to learn!

Life lesson #26: Just grow with it, life's a pruning process!

If you had asked me when I was 16 how I saw my life going, I surely wouldn’t have mentioned breast cancer, preterm labor, financial woes, marriage troubles, a child on the spectrum, the other with a TBI, heartache, suffering, sadness or any of the top 10 disasters of my lifetime and that's just so far. BUT I also wouldn't trade any of them for the all the common sense those said difficulties have bestowed upon my life. I'm not perfect nor am I anywhere near where I want to be yet, but I'm happily moving forward. Life hasn't been easy but it's defiantly been entertaining and interesting to say the least. I can't complain about any part of my journey being boring. As we like to say around here, there's never a dull moment. I can't say my life has been anything near predicable; in fact life with all her ups and downs has been rather clever and spontaneous in her methods. I'm not afraid of tomorrow though or what predicaments life is yet planning for me. What I know is this: I'm not alone, I have nothing to fear. 

Now, almost 42 years into this amazing escapade, I'm learning no matter what hazards this adventure throws my way, I'm not alone. In fact I have never been alone even when I was convinced of it! I know without a doubt I'm blessed in so many more ways than not. Loneliness isn't a creature of comfort or of habit around here. Sure, uncertainty comes around every once and a while and fear does rear its ugly head occasionally yet I still count it all joy as we're instructed in God's Word. If I was to take self-inventory here and now you'd see the joy God has firmly planted into my path all along the way. Has life been a walk in the park? Oh no, not in the least but life has been and will never fail to be beautiful. I've been given an amazing while at times eclectic family. First I have parents who not only raised me to love Jesus first but by example taught me the meaning of real, true unconditional love. I’ve been given a husband who yes has driven me up one wall and down another through the years, but is my greatest fan and the love of my life. And together Johnny and I have been given the gift of raising and learning from two of the greatest, if not unorthodox teachers of our lives. Not only have our boys given us the chance to love, learn and grasp but to apply unconditional love beyond our own comfort zones. 

The truth is Johnny and I are still working on the mastery of marriage. If we've learned anything, it's love takes time. You can't rush marriage, it's a pruning process. We certainly don't have it all together that's for sure but as a couple, as a family we are building a solid foundation, laying the ground work for whatever may come. Struggle is natural, drifting is about as normal as sneezing, but it's all in how you allow yourself to bend, to be shaped by the Master's hand which defines your path. Being angry all the time is simply too exhausting, wanting it all, allowing your expectations to trump reality or being so desperate to be the center of attention all the time is flat out draining if not disastrous. Besides if you spend all your time assuming,  you risk having your whole world blown up. No one can escape life's troubles or hassles. We all face pitfalls, impediments, hit a snag in the road, trip over hurdles, stumbling blocks, run into obstructions and barriers. If we didn't we wouldn't be human. Besides life would be pretty boring if we never had growing pains.

My advice, if anyone tries to convince you otherwise, run!  

~ Christina

Monday, March 23, 2015

Life Lesson # 25 ~ NO REGRETS!





To say I'm a blessed woman is an understatement. I'm always struck by the grace which abounds in my life. I realize so many of us feel we are lacking, instead of embracing the grace our lives provide each of us. Sometimes our fantasies take hold of our reasoning, the way we think and feel about those unattained desires we want for our own. Sadly many times we fail to appreciate all we have in the process. The truth is if we could just step back and take a good look at all we have, the love we carry inside us, the blessings our lives give us daily we'd find real happiness. Maybe our lights would even shine a little brighter? Seriously how many times do we actually take inventory of our own heart, our soul and spirit? How many times do we truly accept we have everything we need without longing for more than we have? Why is it we can't accept the gifts we've been given without the need to take more?

As I share advice here on my blog, you should know the advice I give, the storytelling, is all part of my own process. As I share my life with you my friends and family, you surely must know I share my heart as well. And as with any blog post, my story always begins in a moment of reflection. One moment of reflection just like this weekend as we went about our lives, going to and from, back and forth from crossfit, to hockey, work, hanging out together in the family room or gathering around the dinner table. As life danced to the big band, my heart slowed down just a bit. I took note; made mental snapshots recording those moments inside my heart. What I saw in those minutes, as hours passed was my family and the true blessing they really are. I took it all in, with thankfulness and humility. I saw their smiles; I listened to their laughter, and made a very conscious note of every moment. I was taken back, watching our family circle around me, around each other. As most of you know, we are a very close, bonded family, far from perfect, but whatever comes our way, we are strong together. 

Life lesson #25, Life is just too short to have regrets.  

I've learned a lot about myself and my family over the last six months. We've struggled but heck yes we've also overcome together. I'm never disappointed, though often surprised by their candidness. The truth be told, these cords holding us together are stronger than even I realized.

If you took the time to wonder down some of the old dirt roads behind me you'd see from where I've come and where my roots sprung from. I'm a county girl at heart, a Texas woman through and through. I have no shame in my Irish -southern roots, I was born with fire in me and I'll die with that same fire still burning strong no matter where I park my boots. I was definitely raised in a strong home, build on three things, Jesus, gospel music and home cookin'. I grew up singing right next to my Mama in church. Sunday afternoons, after church, well they were spent cookin' in the kitchen surrounded by friends and family followed by Mama's guitar and more gospel music. I wouldn't trade those memories for anything! Our home was filled with so much love, lots of laughter and of course Jesus. I grew up with a security many around me never knew. The home I lived in was not perfect by any means, but it was solid. My folks, while not saints, are very real, down to earth people. They taught me the Cinderella motto, “be kind and have courage" long before it was cool. I wouldn't trade my mom and dad for all the money in the world. Because of their example I married a good man, and while we have struggled ourselves through the years, what we have is incredible and always engaging. I don't know any other man who can have me feelin' like I'm talking to a brick wall, or fit to be tied and at the same time have me laughin' next to him like we're two peas in a pod! Together Johnny and I have raised two boys. Not perfect, always entertaining for sure, but darn tooting good boys.

Sure I've had a few "fix'in to" minutes which have left me scratching my head but looking back I have no real regrets. I wouldn't trade any one of our days together for any other sort of alternate adventure other than the ones we've saddled up on together. No regrets, just memories which will keep us laughing, maybe even questioning our sanity from time to time and yes Jesus, as we wonder through those dirt roads still ahead of us. Our lives are anchored in His love, in the grace surrounding each one of us and the memories connecting our bonds, these cords strong and sure. Anyone wanting to severe those ties will just have to wait a cotton pickin' minute! We may bend, but we won't break. 

The real truth be told, we always have room at our table, biscuits ready with warm gravy and a plate set for anyone of those we love to pull them-selves up and sit. All we ever ask is just make sure your muddy boots are left outside on the porch!

~Christina

Monday, March 16, 2015

Life Lesson #24 ~ ANYTHING BUT ORDINARY!






This past weekend we celebrated Micah, Johnny and my youngest child, all his quirks, likes, randomness and amazing abilities. After all it was his birthday weekend, his 16th to be exact. If we do one thing right around here, it's celebrating birthdays. Now don't get me wrong, birthdays don't always entail hoopla, a bunch of hullabaloo or grand parties, but they always include family, good friends and a good time. So when the topic of Micah's big one six came up, we knew we had to keep it low key and at the same time recognize everything that makes Micah unique, rare and beautifully divergent.

Believe me I'm as surprised by this as you are that my baby boy could be anything over 10. It's beyond my imagination to think Micah could actually be 16 years old or for that matter how I could be anywhere near old enough to say my son is of driving age. But he is. Micah is a joy, he's sharp, witty, honest, loving, logical and of course debonair and handsome if I do say so myself. From the moment he was born Micah has had his own way of wrapping me around his fingers. He can be difficult, and at the same time Micah will absolutely put a smile on my face. To tell you the truth Micah's the first person to tell you how "real" we are as a family, what are failures are and how we need to chill. But at the same time Micah’s fiercely loyal.

As reserved as Micah can be, there's not much I don't know about him. Micah is tough, harsh at times, unrelenting and really good at keeping  you guessing, most folks have no idea how to read him. Still Micah can be deep, sensitive, responsive, receptive and on point. When it comes to being on the spectrum, he will tell you it's simply part of him not who he is. Micah will also tell you he's socially awkward, and doesn't really like being around people but it doesn't stop people from liking Micah. In his brutal honesty he can have you in stitches, cracking up. So this weekend we took the time to give our Micah-chu the kudos he deserves with a party designed around all his randomness, a handful of close friends and of course family. 

I am a better person for knowing Micah, I believe most folks are. He's challenged me as a mother, pushed me to my limits only to surpass all my expectations. Micah is an old soul, and in his 16 years he has brilliantly transformed not only his life but those of us around him. There's nothing ordinary about Micah. He is unafraid of the unexpected and has no qualms with the un-traditional. Micah's life force is like none other, an independent spirit and a soul who's unafraid of metamorphosis. When I see my child I see the beautiful gift in Micah I never expected...his undaunted, unabashed, fearless, brave, bold, audacious and spunky self-he’s become.

Life lesson # 24: Raising boys is anything but ordinary! Thank God, growing up conventionally doesn’t always a guarantee a mundane life. The gift of parenthood despite our atypical yet orthodox views can quite surprisingly produce children who rise above society’s expectations and our own assumptions. By God’s grace in our own self-lacking, our children become remarkable, extraordinary and exceptional adults. In retrospect I never knew I could love anyone as much as I do my own children until I became a mother. Now, some 16 years later since Micah was placed into my arms, I am in awe of this journey we've set out on together. 

Happy birthday baby, you're astounding, remarkable and spectacular. I just want you to know this Micah, with every breathe I take until the day I die, I’ll be proud of you, of being your mom. I wouldn't want it any other way Micah. I love you love bug.

~ Christina AKA Mom