Category Archives: summer

This is me NOT winning

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I have bought a total of 5 lottery tickets in my life.  And all five of those have been in the last couple years.  I am not morally opposed to the process of the lotto.  Since it hasn’t been an issue for me, I couldn’t tell you what the bible says about it.  I could tell you what many Christians say about it, but I like to get my source straight from the Word. I do think that anything that controls you, is wrong.

And the last two lotto tickets I have bought- have done just that. They have consumed my mind with all of these amazing things I could do with the money.  I knew the odds were slim. I knew that I didn’t feel God giving me any numbers. But, I knew that the price tag of $500,000,000 was just such a beautiful temptation.  So, I bought a ticket. And then I spent a lot of my time dreaming and planning about the money.  My thoughts were consumed (still are a little, as I have a powerball ticket that is getting drawn tonight) on what I would do.  The more I thought about it, the more disappointing my current status became.  Man, I only make X-thousands per month now…but if I could spend XXX-thousand per month…man…life would be good.

No.  Life already IS good.  We have come to a place where our X-thousands a month is better than X-hundreds we used to live off a month.  My girls are great. My friends are good.  My husband is amazing.  My God is simply the best.  My life IS good.  There are many things that can be improved, but with a little discipline and faith in God, they can be improved without hundreds of millions of dollars.

I kept justifying my obsessive thoughts with all the good I would/could do.  Then God kind of reminded me that I could and should do good now.  Don’t get me wrong, I do good now.  But, the question is always- do I do enough?  Money, while it helps, is not the only thing people need.  They need validation, acceptance, love, God’s forgiveness, a ride so they don’t have to walk, a fan to help cool them off in this heat, a person to be their friend even when they don’t deserve a friend.

I didn’t win the lottery. My bank account is not swelling with millions of dollars.  And while I could focus on how disappointing that is, I think I will dwell on Phil 4:8.

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Writing to an Empty Room

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Four years. That is how long it has been since I’ve touched my blog. I got more active on FaceBook, and left this in the past. But, I just quit FaceBook (Hi, my name is Cassandra and I am 5 days FB sober). Which naturally means, it is time to pick blogging back up.  There you go.  I’m blogging again.

However.

I didn’t post the link to this blog on my FB account before I deactivated FB. So, I am writing to an emptry room.

That’s ok.  I am a writer (wanna be), and writers write. At least that is what many a famous author has said, “Write every day.” So I shall write for me. To jot down my memories, to recap my summer, and to enjoy the feel of the keys moving below my fingers. This might look like an emptry room, but I see a playground.

So- to my playground, I add the scene of a couple going on a date tonight, dreaming, talking about their beautiful daughters, and planning for the future when it will just, once again, be the two of them.

Jeff and I haven’t been on a date in awhile. We’ve just been busy, and we usually go out as a family. Today, however, “family” present is just the two of us.  I dropped the girls off at a church to leave for camp. They will be gone for 6 days, and when they come back- Jeff and I will be gone for a Chrysalis weekend. I miss them already.

And now, I think of how beautiful they look. I think of how quickly they have changed from young kids to young ladies. In just a couple of weeks, Mikaila will be a teenager. In just a couple of months, Brianna a freshmen. Be still my heart- I cannot handle this! What happened to all the time we were supposed to have with them?  What happened to the things we were supposed to do with them? We never got to take them to Disney World. We never got to take them to another country.  We never got to buy a house where they each had their own room. We never…

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We had dreams- not all of them came true. This is not what I had planned.

But-

It is/was what we got.  And I am thankful.

I will continue to dream. I will continue to dream about my dreams (writing a book), and I will continue to dream of who my daughters will grow up to be.

Time is short. But, thankfully, there is no time limit on dreams.

Summer Week 10: Happy Birthday, Dad.

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You ever just have a rough day?  From the moment you wake up everything just seems to be off.  Well, that has been my day.  Just off.  I have some theories.
1) My body knows that this is my last Friday of summer (for me, girls still have 2 more) and is rebelling.  Sorry body, if that is the case…you are only hurting us both- because your lack of strength today has only caused us to MISS the last Friday!!  On to nex theory…
2) My body is getting older and takes longer to recover from fun days.  This is possible…yesterday we went to Six Flags.  By the end of our 9 hour stay in the park, we rode a total of 18 rides.  That is 1 ride every 30 minutes.  The last ride I rode, I did throw up a little in my mouth.  That has enver happened before.  I knew I was done riding rides for that day.  Today, my body feels as if I was rolled over by a steam roller.  Yup, mentally still young…physically, well…not as young as I used to be!
3) Sometimes you just hold on to things that you shouldn’t hold on to..and that causes you to mentally be off.  Since you can’t catch and hold on to what you need to be holding on to.  That is also possible.  I need prayers if that is the case.  I have some hurt and anger in my heart that I just can’t seem to let go of.
4)  I subconsciously missed my dad.  Today would have been his 59th birthday.  However, 22 years ago on July 31st he died.   I try to not think about this.  It is sad.  There is nothing that can be done to answer all of those “what if…” questions.  So, most of the time I try to treat it as just another day.  Sometimes it is harder to do than others.  I didn’t even realize that today was his birthday until I logged on to FaceBook and saw my sister and brothers post wishing him a happy birthday.  Great timing, as I looked at those posts…I realized what song was playing.  The Gather Band singing “I Bowed On My Knees.”  There was one verse that stuck with me.  In the process of typing this, I have listened to it a couple more times…
When I entered the gates of the city
My Loved ones all knew me well
They took me down the streets of heaven
All the saints were too many to tell
I saw Abraham, Jacob and Isaac
Talked with Mark, sat down with Timothy
But then I said, I want to see Jesus
He’s the One who died for me

Comfort in the Father.  My Heavenly Father.  I’m one of the worst Christians and biggest sinners I know…but, I hope to improve- because there are two dad’s in Heaven that I’d really like to meet.  Until then, I have a pretty amazing father-in-law who has been a father to me for all of my adult life.

Well, for whatever reason…today has not been the best of days.  I still think it is because my body is in a state of rebellion against summer ending.  I think some ice cream will calm the storms of rebellion.  Yes, ice cream will most certainly do that!

Prior to this week, my last week of summer has been pretty good.  Monday, I had got to go to a curriculum planning meeting.  I met some of my co-workers…I think I will fit in well in the new surroundings.  I know this because I sang a duet of “Part of Your World,” with my instructional coach.  It does not matter if we were the only two singing and everyone else was slowly moving away from the table… we had a good time bonding- over curriculum and The Little Mermaid.  I think I am going to do an amazing job this year.  I told Jeff that now that I am “highly qualified” and can start getting credit for things that I do…I see an award or some sort of public recognition in the next 5 years.  I am confident enough in this that I made a bet with Jeff.  If I get a “Teacher of the Year” nomination, award, or any other type of special recognition along those lines within the first 5 years of teaching…he has to take me to an all-inclusive resort on a beach, exact location to be determined at a later date.  If I don’t in the first 5 years…well, then I have to take HIM to an all-inclusive resort on a beach, exact location to be determined at a later date.  I personally hope I win the bet- because I REALLY want to go to an all-inclusive resort on a beach…

Spending time with friends, surprising my grandma with some pictures (that I didn’t technically mail to her….inside joke between me and the grandma….), and getting to be young at heart (old in body) at Six Flags, and a concert tomorrow night (Christina Perri and Jason Mraz!!!!) are the highlights of my week.

I plan on continuing to blog throughout the school year.  I like writing.  It is calming for me.  And maybe, one day- I will finish that ever elusive book…

Summer Week 9: A Straight Man, a Gay Man, and a Priest Walk into Chick-Fil-A

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And what is the outcome?  Well, prior to this week- they would eat.  Food would be consumed.  I have not posted on Facebook anything about my personal opinion to this ordeal because 1) yeah, things I post on facebook have never been known to change anyone’s opinion, 2) nothing anyone has posted on facebook has ever changed MY opinion, and 3) last I checked there were plenty of people posting about Chick-Fil-A.  Besides, I have a weekly blog…

Here are my thoughts.
1) Don’t ask someone a question if you aren’t willing to accept their answer.
2) We live in a free nation, with that comes many opinions.  I do not agree with every opinion out there,  not everyone agrees with my opinion…even though I personally think they should.  I also know that opinions do not always look at facts, opinions can look at facts and twist the data to fit what they want it to support, and the general population usually doesn’t get the whole story before making its very strong opinions known.  On any and all sides that is true.
3) I am a consumer.  I don’t really care what the president, CEO, manager, clerk, or any employee believes.  If they sell me what I am needing, why does their opinion matter?  Oh my gosh!  Did I just say that- how horrible..right?!  Because…you don’t shop at Walmart, Target, buy gas, or shop at any store that doesn’t agree with your opinion?  I would suggest shopping at a local mom and pop shop instead, but yeah…we will run into the same problem there…darn those differing opinions.
4) To the Christians—Hey, I think it is cool that you all went to Chick-Fil-A on the same day and showed support.  I do think that is cool.  Had we had a Chick-Fil-A closer to us, I probably would have gone on that day as well.  I also probably would have gone before and after that day because, well, I like their food.  That is what I want to buy from them.  I have never given anyone there, or at any retailer, a penny for his or her thoughts.  I also think that showing support to something you believe in should not just come once.  As Christians, we are called to love.   Love and not judge.  Not throw out our righteous opinions out there.  Not condemn.  Not be better than anyone else.  Because we should remember two important things.  1) Jesus, who could have condemned, did not.  2) Christians, who have no biblical right to condemn, are supposed to follow in his footsteps.   So, support what you believe in!  Make a stand.  Everyone has the right to do that.  Just make sure your stand is one of love, not hate.  Which really wasn’t the case from what I saw.  But man, I have seen FaceBook posts from both sides that were just ugly and rude- oh, and childish!
5) To those that were offended by the opinion of the CEO— What good came out of bashing someone because of their life choice?  Last I checked, this was not like the Civil Rights Movement where anyone was discriminated against.  Did they not sell a sandwich to a homosexual?  Did they not take the money from any person because of his beliefs or choices?  I have been told this repeatedly- choose your battles.  Was this one that should have been picked?  It looks like a bunch of people throwing a fit- on both sides- because there are different opinions.  If that is the case, and your morals hold you to not support companies that have a different opinion from yours,  than I am assuming that you are also NOT a consumer at any of the following locations:  A-1 Storage,  AutoZone, Cracker Barrel, Cinemark, DISH Network, Domino’s Pizza, Exxonmobil, Gold’s Gym, Salvation Army, Urban Outfitters, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target, 3M, etc.  You can find out why at this site.

I tried NOT shopping at Wal-Mart for a couple of months.  My husband had me watch this documentary about the working conditions and wages of the factory workers oversees.  I felt like by shopping there, I was supporting them.  I made it 4 months of not shopping at Wal-Mart.  In a small town, that was hard…I had to either order things online and wait, pay more at other grocery stores, do without because other local stores didn’t carry it and THEY told me to check at Wal-Mart, OR have my friends pick up stuff for me at Target when they went to the nearest one (an hour away).  Finally, I just realized…I can’t do this.  I feel bad for the horrible conditions of those workers.  Yet, if I was to change my shopping habits over every company that wronged someone…I would have to make my own clothes, food, well…everything.

Who needs to worry about a zombie apocalypse…I think we are doing a great job of tearing ourselves apart.  ;P

And that folks, is My opinion that YOU did NOT ask for.  So, if you don’t like it- forget you ever read it.

Summer Week 8: Lying, Backstabbing, Cowardly…

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I would like to start this post with this statement:  I am not a perfect Christian.  I have been suspicious of this notion for quite some time.  That being said, my thoughts might not be in line with those that I should probably be thinking.

Next, the purpose of this post.  Well, it seems that this week was full of a lot of disappointments on my end, misinforming to others, and lies easily spread by others.  So, my purpose is to put some truth out there.

I have wrote, deleted, and wrote this post a couple of times.  But it comes down to this simple truth.  I wanted the job at Chisum, tried my hardest for it, and the admin shot me down in an unfair manner.  I could go into so many details, examples, and vents…but that is not my purpose with this post.  My purpose in this post is to put some truths out there.  Some truths that we seem to forget.  Now, if you are someone I used to work with- and you would like to know my side of the story…please feel free.  I have no problem clearing up any of the many misinformations out there.

Truth- I feel betrayed, hurt, lied to, stepped on, abused, and angry- oh yes, angry…out for justice, vengence, revenge…I also feel pissy, snippy, annoyed, frustrated…do you get the point?  Basically- I’ve felt better.  After writing a letter to the school board, running into an old co-worker and being snippy, and plotting how to publicly humiliate those who had wronged me in this situation…I kept getting advice I DID NOT want to hear.

The advice consisted of, “Let it go,” ” Holding on to that anger will only hurt you,” or “God has better things in store for you.”  Ok, my inner…not perfect Christian had an initial reaction to that last statement.  Yes, God has a plan…and yes, I have to trust in Him, but YES, I also know that humans mess up his plans all the time!  Have you read facebook?  Have you looked at the world news?  Have you spent more than 10 minutes with those uppity Christians???  Humans mess up his plans all the time!

I mess up His plans all the time.

And yet…

…and yet, things still manage to turn out.  That is the truth that this week has presented to me.  My flesh fights, rebels, and feels all of these emotions that drive my actions.  Yet, even when I put my trust in myself by doing what I want to do…God is still there working things out.  Yes, I might (I have…and will) mess up his initial plans, he has so many back up plans…I can learn to feel comforted when things don’t go how I want them to.

Another truth- we are ALL lying, backstabbing cowards.  Maybe not all the time, maybe not to everyone- but we are.  Which…and I didn’t want to come to this conclusion…means me.  Sometimes- it is just me and/or God that I am lying to.  If I want to stand in my rightful justice of the wrongs done to me…then holy crap- that means I have to stand in the rightful justice others can hold me accountable to.  Yeah, I don’t know about you- but I don’t like examining the log in my own eye.  In fact, I prefer to ignore it and just buy books in larger fonts.  It is easy to see the faults in others.  I can rattle off long lists of faults in others.  I can’t rattle of my list as fast.  Oh, I know what most of them are- I just can’t rattle my own list off as quickly or willingly.

Do I completely forgive those that have wronged me this past week and are spreading lies about this situation to make themselves look better?  Are you kidding me?!?!  Did you not read my first paragraph- I am not a perfect Christian!  But, I am willing to start letting it go.  I will work on it.  I will really have to work on it- but, I am not going to dwell on them, my desire for revenge, or the wrongs they have done to me.  And in doing that- I believe that will be my first step in letting it go.

I hope that if I have wronged someone out there, I have lied, backstabbed, betrayed, acted cowardly, etc., to someone else- that they too can start the steps to letting it go.

Ok, I have 2 weeks left of summer…I am going to have a good 2 weeks.

Summer Week 7: Johnson Shut Ins

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Many months ago, prior to summer even starting, Jeff had a nostalgic moment.  He remembered the time before cell phones, tablets, and constant connection to people/medias that only end up frustrating you because of the complete stupidiocy (yes, thanks to social media that word does work!) of the post.  This nostalgia led him on a quest to “get away from it all.”  So, many many months ago- he booked us a cabin at Johnson Shut Ins.    It is a beautiful spot to camp, hike, and swim at…I would highly recommend it to anyone who lives in the Missouri area.

The last time Jeff and I had been there, I was pregnant with Brianna.  I broke my tailbone (or sprained it really, really bad where it hurt for a year afterwards) and Jeff sprained his ankle on that trip.   And no, Jeff did not kick my butt…  I fell in the water and my rear was cushioned from the fall by a rather pointy rock.  Jeff slipped while his foot was in between a rock and a hard …rock.  Ahh, the memories.

The girls have never really been camping, so we were very excited to take them.  They were very excited, too.  The first day we got there, we did not arrive until late afternoon.  We just played in the water…no hiking that day.   The girls loved it.  You get to crawl, climb, slide, and jump all over the place.  Brianna hung out with me.  Mikaila hung out with Jeff.  Which, for the first day, was good.  I was strongly encouraging (some would say threatening, but everyone knows that mothers don’t threaten- they strongly encourage!) Brianna to climb the rocks, not to crawl on them, and to enjoy a little risky exploring.  Jeff was trying to strongly encourage Mikaila to not climb all the rocks, to maybe crawl on some of them, and to enjoy a little relaxing exploring.  Has Mikaila and I partnered up that first day…well, I am sure we would have ended up with cuts, bruises, and sprained butts and/or ankles.

Throughout the week, we feel into a pattern.  The mornings were spent hiking, we would then come back to the cabin and eat lunch, rest up, and then late afternoon we would head back up to the shut ins to go swimming until evening.  So, remember earlier when I said the girls were excited about this trip?  Yeah, that excitement evaporated with the heat as we made them hike every day.  Of course, the very first trail we hiked was a 2.25 mile hike that had steep climbs, narrow ledges, vertical rock climbing, and it was very hot.  I’m not going to say our family follows all rules, (we do sneak food into movie theaters…) but we did follow the rule that said to not bring any disposable containers on the trail.  We filled out metal drink containers with ice cold water before we left the cabin.  About halfway into the hike- we had to drink them all because the water was getting very warm.  Let me paint this picture for you:  We are nearly out of water. What we do have left is warm- NOT refreshing at all.  We have no idea what time it is (cell phones had NO signal so we left them in car).  We really have only a general idea about where we are on the trail and no idea of what is coming up.  The girls are hot, tired, and they just want to go swimming.  In other words- they wouldn’t stop complaining or bickering.  Which means- I was also complaining and bickering at them for their complaints and bickerings!  I actually came up with a new threat strong encouragement for Brianna.  “If you can’t make something good out of something bad (aka good attitude in what she considered a “bad” situation), then I WILL make something bad out of something good (aka, when it was time to go swimming- she wouldn’t go).”  So, here we are trying to encourage the tired girls to keep going when the trail gets a little…well, wild.  The rock path we were following was now barely visible.  We had to actually look for trail markers to make sure we were indeed still on the trail.  So, we are hiking up this steep hill, there are some flat rocks up ahead, so Mikaila asks if we can stop for a break.  Sure.  We sit down, rest, and look around for another trail marker.  Yeah, when we found it the girls did have a fit.  Literally- a fit!  Way at the top of the pile of steep rocks…is the next trail marker.  You could barely see it.  Obviously, we made it.  And so did the girls.  At the top of that hill, Mikaila and I even rock climbed straight up…it was about 15-20 feet.  But let me tell you, watching your baby girl climb a rock wall- with no harness, in the wild…it felt like it was 100 feet!

I love hiking, Jeff loves hiking, and the girls will learn to love hiking.  They will.  They have to.  Jeff and I have plans to tackle this 14 mile backpacking trail…that will take several days…and will not have the convenience of an air conditioned cabin.  This is years away- but to get to that point we have to go from our 2-3 mile hikes that we did to 5-6 miles, then 9-10…etc.  So yeah, they will either learn to love hiking or will be eaten by a bear.  But don’t worry, we will let them make that choice.

In the evenings, after Jeff would grill our dinner- we played card games.  We played spoons, rummy, king tut, go fish, and yahtzee- oh yes, and 52 card pick up.  My cell phone didn’t have any signal- so I didn’t really bother with charging it.  We didn’t play games on our mobile devices against each other- we actually- physically- played games with each other…in person.  I am ashamed to admit it- but it had been too long since we did that.  We play with our girls, but there is something more bonding about not constantly checking facebook, messages, emails, updates..blahblahblah in the middle of playing.  We laughed…oh how we laughed…and we got to enjoy each others company.

Our cabin was pretty cool.  Well, it did not have ANY running water, so that was not cool.  Aside from that- we loved the simple- but more importantly AIR CONDITIONED-  cabin.  It had a porch that overlooked a pond full of lilly pads.  It kind of looked like something Monet would paint.  Inside, it was two rooms.  The log cabin had high cealings and two rooms.  The bedroom and the living/kitchen area.  The wall that separated the two did not go all the way up.  Which meant, we had sock wars between the rooms.  A long time ago, in a cabin far far away…SOCK WARS.  Sad to say, the rebels (that would be Brianna and Mikaila) were slightly better with their blind aiming than the empire (obviously that had to be Jeff and I since we are parents…aka evil dictators).

All in all- we had a fun trip and will be doing it again.  I did not miss the fact that my cell phone didn’t work.  I did miss the fact that all of my books were in the cloud…which meant I couldn’t read.  Worse things could have happened.  I could have not packed half of my clothes..oh wait…I did that….

I loved our adventure and can’t wait to do it again!  I know the girls will remember this trip for a long time.  They might not remember the beautiful sights we saw, but they will remember the threats encouragements that let them conquer the mountain!

Summer Week 6: The Family that Pranks Together…usually ends up in a constant state of revenge…

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Yup, I’m a little behind.  It is middle of summer week 8- and I am just now getting to my post from 2 weeks ago.

So, do you ever easily agree to something because you know there is a big chance it actually won’t happen?  Yeah, sometimes I do that.  We were up in Missouri (week 5) and my sister had asked if my 8 year old nephew could come stay with us in Texas.  We would be coming back to Texas for a  week then heading back up to MO for our camping trip (to be posted later…as summer week 7…).  I really had no problem with this, but part of me thought that my overprotective sister would chicken out last minute when she realized that her only begotten son was going to be 6 hours away for 11 days.  She didn’t.  He came home with us.

We have two girls.  Two girls who are fun, brilliant, and amazing- but not overly chatty all the time.  So, it was fun listening to my nephew talk almost nonstop.  The week Alex was down with us, I was helping with VBS at a local church.  They would play during the day, we would go to church at night.  One day, after VBS, I got a crazy idea of calling my overprotective sister and pulling a prank on her.

“Amber…umm, we are at the store…I can’t…I can’t find Alex…”

“What?”

“I went down one aisle, I thought he was right behind me…and …Amber…I can’t ….I don’t know where he is…”

Amber starts sounding a little panicked, I’m trying not to laugh…all the kids (including her son) are laughing in the back.  Finally Amber realizes he is fine and safe.  But, she wants to talk to him.

The kids and I laughed over this later.  They all decided we should do this every day.  So, every stinking day- we would call…and tell her about something “horrible” that happened with Alex.  One day, he drowned. Another day, his finger was cut off.  I realize that it was liking crying wolf, but I knew nothing bad would happen to Alex in my care, so we continued.  Amber has sworn that she will get revenge.  I believe she will.  I believe that she will also take a long time.  I will forget about it and out of the blue she will strike.  That is ok.  Because I will strike back.  I see this as a never-ending battle…but…the ball is already in motion, there is no stopping it now!