Thursday, March 29, 2012

Parenting Through the Stages

My sister holding her new baby and me meeting him for the
first time.  I am in love.
I just spent four days with my sister and her brand new baby.  I returned home last night to my four kiddos, my hubby and a dirty house.  A picture frame had been broken, the little Monkey had figured out how to unlock the back door (that leads to the river...), Lion Cub had a bruise from a topple off our bed, Dreamer had another frustrating playground story to tell and Charmer clung to me like she would never let me walk out the door again - I was thrown back into the thick of things before I even put my suitcase down. 

This morning I woke up early and went to Dreamer's program at school, ran some errands, cleaned the house, played outside with the kids, went to Wal Mart to buy latches to Monkey-proof the back door and ended the day teaching twelve preschoolers at our church's AWANA program. 

As the day progressed I thought a lot about the visit with my sister.  She and her husband have been married for almost seven years and this is their first baby - a big adjustment for them, but one they very much welcomed into their lives.  I watched my little sister hold her baby, talk to him, smile at him, gaze at him, feed him, change him, cuddle him and dream about the future.  It was beautiful, quiet, peaceful...and strangely familiar to me...if I reach way back, into the recesses of my mind...Ah, ha!  I remember!  Eight years ago that was me!  When I brought Dreamer home from the hospital, I was scared, but excited all at the same time.  Everything was so new and calm, although it was a bit overwhelming.  So many changes and new concerns to face, but I survived.

Then I had Charmer and I laughed at how much work I thought one baby was!  One was a breeze, two on the other hand, was exhausting and overwhelming, for totally different reasons.  Now I was taking care of a newborn (the same work as before), but this time I was chasing a two year old around!  I couldn't remember what I had done with all that extra time I used to have - how in the world could I fit all the needs of my family into a twenty-four hour period?  It was all-consuming, but, again, I survived.

Three and a half years later we brought Lion Cub and the little Monkey home from the hospital.  At the same time.  Twins.  Boys.  Two older children at home.  I don't think I need to expound on this one.  You get it.  I survived.

This is what "resting" looks like at my house.

As I watched my sister with her brand new baby, I wanted to offer advice, tips and general knowledge, but I kept a lot to myself, for the simple reason that you can't understand parenting until you do it.  You can read, you can talk, you can dream and scheme and plan, but until you do it, day in and day out, you won't really know.  I might tell her that holding her baby all day will only make it harder later on, but until she lives with a six month old that cries every time she leave the room or fusses until he is picked up, she won't understand.  There are just some things you have to live to learn. 

I am so proud of my sister.  She is a beautiful, natural mama and she is doing an awesome job (and she should hold that baby every second that she can!).  She is just beginning the journey, and, at this time in her life, this baby is her everything.  One day she'll have another and she'll wonder what she did with all her extra time.

I understand parenting four young children right now, but I don't know what it's like to parent middle schoolers or teenagers.  One day I will have to do it and I'll read and talk and plan, but until I do it, day in and day out, I won't understand it.  That's just how it is.

What stage of parenting are you in right now?  If you aren't parenting, what do you remember being the hardest stage in your own childhood?  Any advice for me?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Oatmeal Cake Recipe

I had to keep moving the cake out of
Asher's reach to try and get a picture!!

Every time I make this oatmeal cake I have people ask me for the recipe.  Yesterday I made it for my Parents of Multiples ECFE class and two moms asked for it, so I said I would post it on my blog.  It is moist, dense and a tab bit healthy (oatmeal is a super food, after all...).  I have to give a shout out to my friend, Bobbi Jo, who submitted this recipe to our MOPS Cookbook a couple years ago - I hate to take credit for this cake, but it has become one of my staple desserts since I always have the ingredients on hand, it's so simple to make and I LOVE IT.  Enjoy!

1 1/2 c. Boiling Water
1 c. Quick Cooking Oatmeal
1/2 c. Butter (no substitutes)
1 c. Brown Sugar
1 c. Sugar
2 Eggs
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 1/2 c. Flour (I have used oatmeal flour to make it gluten free)
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon

Pour water over oatmeal and let stand 20 minutes covered.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9x13 pan.  Cream together butter and sugars.  Beat in eggs and vanilla, then add flour soda, salt and cinnamon.  Beat well and add oatmeal mixture.  Bake for 30 minutes.  I usually frost it with store bought cream cheese frosting, but you can also frost it with a broiled coconut frosting or Cool Whip.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

When Your Sister is so Far Away...

On Saturday, March 17th, my little sister had her first baby, a boy.  I have nieces and nephews from my two older brothers and I love them like they are my own, but there is something amazingly different about your sister having a baby.  When my dad called to tell me that my sister and her husband had left for the hospital, it brought tears to my eyes.  Somehow, across the miles and the distance, I could feel her pain.  Having given birth to four of my own little ones, I knew what she was going through, bit by bit, minute by minute.  

My sister and I are two years and one day apart in age.  We shared everything together growing up, even our birthdays.  I remember laying in bed talking to her late at night.  I remember making plans and dreaming about our families and our husbands and our homes.  I remember what she wanted to name her children and what she hoped her husband would look like.  I know my sister better than I know most people on this earth.  She was my first best friend. 

When I had my babies she was there to help me.  My first daughter was born with the same cowlick and freckles as my sister.  My second daughter was named after my sister and they share the same blond hair.  I feel like a little bit of my sister is with me when I look at my girls.  I was so happy when my daughters were born two years apart, because I knew they would have each other just like my sister and I had each other.  A built in best friend, someone to share your hopes and dreams with, someone who gets you, even when others don't.

So this was it, my baby sister was having her first baby.  The moment her and I had dreamt about and talked about for the past thirty years was upon her - and I was 944 miles away.

On Saturday I waited up until I had a phone call from my mom, letting me know that everything went well.  The phone call didn't come until 2:20 a.m. (our time).  My mom was waiting up at her own home, going through the same thing I was.  Neither one of us could sleep until we heard the news.  When I got the call, I cried again, but this time it wasn't for the pain I knew my sister was going through, this time it was for the joy I knew she was experiencing holding her little baby for the first time.

It's hard being so far apart, even harder now that my little nephew has come into the family.  I wish my sister was a short car ride away, but I know she and her husband are where they are supposed to be right now.  We may be far apart, but I feel like part of me is there with her, the part of me that dreamed about this moment with her, so many years ago.  I can't wait to hold my sweet little nephew and tell him what an amazing mommy he has...even though I am sure he already knows.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Father ~ Daughter Ball

Tonight my handsome husband took our beautiful daughters to their first formal dance, the Father~Daughter Ball.  The girls were excited (and a little nervous) to go on this adventure, not knowing what to expect at a formal event.  Hubby donned his best suit and the girls wore their Easter dresses, complete with necklaces handmade in Paris (gifts from my French friend, Michelle).
They took pictures, learned line dancing, listened to a special message about purity of heart, ate a steak dinner, received long stem roses and danced at their first formal event, with the first man who will hold their hearts, their daddy.

My daughters are blessed with a father who is a Man of God who understands that his relationship with his children is vital to the rest of their lives.  The foundation he is laying in their lives now will affect them for eternity.  He knows that he is a representation of God on Earth, that his children will first see Jesus in his life, his words, his actions and his daily walk.  He will equip our children with the belief that they have what it takes in life to accomplish what God has put them on Earth to do.  My daughters will know that they are valuable, beautiful and above all, loved.  They won't need to seek it from anywhere else, because they will have it where it matters most, at home.

Thank you, Hubby, for being the man who took our daughters to their first formal dance.  You are their Prince in Shining Armor and you are my hero, forever.


Friday, March 16, 2012

Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent (.01 a Load)

I didn't use a 5-gallon bucket, so measured out the correct
 amount of water to equal 5 gallons.  Also, I thought to take the
picture after I used the Fels-Naptha soap bar.  FYI- There is
enough Washing Soda and Borax to make at lot more laundry
detergent!  All I need is another Fels-Naptha Bar for less than $1.

I just came across a recipe for Homemade Laundry Detergent via the Duggar Family Website ( and it was super easy to make and comes out to be about .01 a load!  I have told a couple people about this and they have all been excited to get the recipe.  What a great savings!  This recipe produces enough laundry soap for 640 loads for front load washers.  That is more than enough for our family for a year.  Took me about 15 minutes to make.

4  Cups - hot tap water
1  Fels-Naptha soap bar

1 Cup - Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (baking soda will not work, nor will Arm & Hammer Detergent - it must be sodium carbonate)½ Cup Borax

- Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.

-Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved.

- Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.

-Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (will gel)

-Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil.

-Yield: Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons.

-Top Load Machine- 5/8 Cup per load (Approx. 180 loads)

-Front Load Machines- ¼ Cup per load (Approx. 640 loads)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

How Do You Find the Time?

If you're a mom, you've heard this question.  I hear it all the time.  "Gabe, how do you find the time to...write a book, volunteer, work, make supper, take a shower, work on a blog, sleep..."  How do any of us find the time?  We are each given twenty-four hours in the day, no more, no less.  How do we make good use of that time? 

I look at my time like I would a budget.  How can I get everything done in the time I am allotted?  I am not suggesting a written schedule (tried that, didn't work), but I am suggesting that we look at the things we need to accomplish and try to arrange our day so that we can get it done efficiently.  I am always learning, always growing, always trying something different.  If my first (or second, or third) try didn't work out, then I will take it back to the drawing board and try again.  There are still many things in my life that I haven't been able to fine tune (like laundry - it seems to be getting worse), but there are some things, like cleaning my house, that I have been able to find a system for and feel I have a handle on it.

Having twins, I am finding that as soon as I get a schedule arranged, the boys decided to change it.  We used to put them to bed at 8:00 p.m., on the nose, and they would wake up at 7:30 a.m., like clock work.  Now, I am lucky if they fall asleep before 9:30, because they don't need as much sleep anymore. (Side note, it is 9:34 p.m. as I write this and I can hear them playing in their bedroom).  I have found that the best plan is to be flexible - especially with twins.  I try to stay consistent, but when I consistently find that it isn't working, we scrap the plan and move on to try something new.  When my girls were little, I didn't have a schedule - and it showed.  My girls were crabby in the morning, crabby in the afternoon and crabby in the evening, depending on when they slept, how long they slept or if they slept at all, which made Hubby and I crabby, too.  I have found over time that my best plan is to have a schedule, even if we have to change it a little from time to time, having a sleeping schedule is a must for little kids.

Here is just a little snapshot of some of the things I have to accomplish on an average day (of course, I don't do all of it everyday, some of it is weekly, bi-weekly or monthly, but a lot of it I do everyday): cleaning (vacuuming, laundry, dishes, sweeping, mopping, picking up, etc.), running here and there for MOPS, ECFE, AWANA, church, preschool, elementary school, play dates, shopping, library, volunteer activities, visits with family and friends, doctor's appointments, swimming lessons, piano lessons, Zumba, basketball lessons, birthday parties, and on and on.  My days are also full of reading to my children, teaching, guiding, disciplining, dressing, bathing, feeding and playing with them.  We have a dog and a cat who need attention, a yard that needs to be taken care of, vehicles and a home to maintain, coupons to organize, meals to plan and a business to run (just to name a few).

My husband is an amazing partner with all of this, but our relationship is so much more than just co-laborers.  We have to be very intentional about our time together.  Hubby is my best friend.  I love him and respect him like no other person I know and I genuinely want to be with him.  He makes me laugh, he makes me think and he challenges me to grow into a better person.  We are great communicators and we enjoy spending time just talking, especially in the evenings when the kiddos are in bed.  We also enjoy going on dates, going to sporting events, and spending time with our friends together.  I value his opinion and I trust his decisions.  I place our relationship as a high priority in my life, and it shows.  I think we are both good at recognizing when we need to get away together, and we make it happen.

So, amidst all the organized chaos, how do I stay fresh, energized and ready to attack each day?  I realize that not only do I have to meet the needs of five other human beings (some more than others), I also need to meet my own needs.  By being intentional about the things I love and the things that are "me," like reading, writing, watching a good old movie, researching history, reading the Bible, listening to a good Bible-based teaching, I am enriching and strengthening the things that make me unique and I can offer my family the best version of "me".  When the boys were really small, I lost perspective on the "me" aspect of my life.  I had stopped doing all the things I loved and had found myself worn out, overwhelmed and dreading my daily routine.  I had to give myself permission to take a little time (even if it was the last thirty minutes of the day) to do something just for me.  When I did, it regenerated me. 

I had to put some things, like writing, on the back burner for a while, knowing that I would be able to pick it up again one day - and that is okay.  This season of parenting is fleeting.  One day my children will be grown and I will have all the time I want, but, for now, I want to put my best efforts into giving them strong foundations for their lives and I know I have to sacrifice a great deal to do that - not everything (I still need to find ways to regenerate), but some things.  Now that the boys are turning two and things aren't as hectic as they once were, I have found some time in my day to write again.  Even though the time I get to write is usually during nap time and bed time, it is still something.  The majority of my writing time is usually from 9:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.  I just told Hubby today that if my first book gets published being written in the wee hours of the morning, just think how good my future novels will be if I can write them in the afternoon!

So, how do I find the time?  By being intentional, being flexible and prioritizing my activities.  And, just as soon as I have it all figured out, the kids will be graduating and leaving home, then we'll have to go back to the drawing board and figure out what to do with all our time again.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

It's Hard to be a Parent

Next to being a wife, my greatest joy in life is being a mom.  I have amazing, talented, beautiful children.  They are my heart's desire.  But, even with all their attributes, it's still hard to be a parent.

It's still hard to wake up every morning and start the routine all over again.  It's hard being consistent.  It's hard keeping up with the demands of our home.  It's hard to be understanding.  It's hard to be patient.  It's hard to meet the unique challenges each child presents.  It's just hard.

But there comes an indescribable joy when God reaches through your inabilities, and in those hard times, He shines through your words and your actions, and you can see Him working.

We had a situation come up with our oldest daughter the other day.  She is seven.  She is smart, creative, funny and deep.  She is our first born and our first love.  So much of what I have learned about myself as a parent has come on the heels of raising and training our oldest.  She taught me another lesson about parenting this week: God definitely infuses you with the wisdom and the grace you need when you ask for it.

Without going into too many details, our oldest has been having problems on the playground at school.  She is in first grade and it has been a hard year for her to learn about the politics of friendship.  She is a natural leader, but given the wrong situation and circumstances, she can also be a dictator...and I'll leave it at that.

Our oldest has been having trouble with a little girl, on and off, but it wasn't until I received an email from the little girl's mom, and saw the other little girl's perspective, that I realized how poorly our oldest had been dealing with the situation.  When I received the email, it was late and our oldest was at my parents' house for a sleepover, but I went and picked her up anyway.  We sat her down and read her the email.  We kept her accountable, asked her yes and no questions and we were very specific with how we wanted her to make things better.  It included an apology to the little girl and to her parents, because I told her when someone is hurting my child, it hurts me, so she needs to apologize to the little girl's mom and dad, too. 

I was amazed by two things that night.  First, was the humility and sincerity I saw in my oldest.  She kept nodding and saying, okay, okay.  I could see how sad she was, not because we were upset, but because she could see how her choices had affected other people.  I was also amazed at the words God gave Dave and I for our oldest to hear.  We talked a lot about choices, both good and bad.  We told her that no one can make choices for her.  She has to choose to do what is right, no matter what.  I can't make those choices for her, Dave can't make those choices, her teacher can't, etc.  She has to choose to do what is right, even when she feels she is being mistreated, especially when she feels she is being mistreated.

We also talked a lot about what makes a good friend.  Honesty, kindness, helpfulness, and so on.  We told her she wasn't being any of those things to this little girl. 

We asked her what she would like to hear God say to her one day when her work here on Earth is done and she is standing before His Throne?  Does she want to hear: "Oh, I am so sorry that you didn't make the right choices.  I put so many people in front of you for you to help and to speak the truth to.  It makes me sad that you didn't do it." Or, does she want to hear: "Well done, my good and faithful servant!  I put so many people in front of you and you helped them and spoke the truth to them and you made their lives richer and fuller because of it!  I am overjoyed!"  I could see in her eyes that this spoke to her heart and it made her consider what her choices mean, not only for today, but for the long term.

We prayed with her and let her talk for a while.  Ultimately, we loved on her and told her how special and wonderful she is, even though she made wrong choices in this situation.  But we set up some consequences that we will be following through with over the weeks and months ahead and we talked with the little girl's mom and her teacher to keep an accountability chain in place.

Parenting.  It's hard.  But when you have those moments, even during the difficult times, when you know God is working through you to strengthen you and your child, it makes the hard times a little easier to bear.  I love our oldest with a passion that is beyond my ability to describe.  God has given us a unique privilege and responsibility to parent her in a way that pleases Him.  That is why I depend on Him with all that I have, because I know He will carry us through the hard times.  He has a special plan for our oldest child and neither He, nor I, will give up.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Goal and Conflict

Do you know why you read?  According to James Scott Bell, in "The Art of War for Writers," you read to worry.  You like to follow a character who has a goal and a resulting conflict and then you like to worry along with him until he gets it figured out, overcomes the conflict and achieves his goal. 

As a writer, I had no idea there were so many things you need to accomplish in a book!  A goal and a conflict for each scene, three overarching conflicts for each novel, an inner turmoil in the main character (caused by a wound from the past) and an inner conflict caused by a current problem.  Add to that romance, personal growth, a plot, style, etc., etc.  Writing is not for the faint of heart.

But, if you have a story and a burning desire to put that story on paper, then you will persevere and you will write that story.  If you want others to read it, then you will study the art of writing and you will "practice" at it until you have it just right.  If you want it published, then you will fight to get your work out there and you will take whatever comes and do whatever it takes. 

All of us have goals in life and all of us have a lot of conflict, too.  So, what is one of my goals right now?  I hope to have my book ready by this time next year to enter into the Genesis Competition with American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW).  My conflict comes when I try to find time to work on my book.  It also comes in the form of not knowing if I should work on my book, study the art of writing, or work on my blog.  Not to mention the conflict happening in my home with four children, a dog, a cat and a mound of laundry.  I definitely don't have to worry about coming up with goals and conflicts in my own life - I will reserve that for my book.

Thanks for coming alongside to "worry" with me until I accomplish my goal.

What about you?  What are your goals and what are your conflicts in achieving those goals?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Chicken Capellini

This is one of my favorite recipes, and one of my "fall back" meals - you know, the one you fall back to when you don't know what else to make.  I almost always have these ingredients on hand and it is sooooo good.  Enjoy!

Chicken Capellini
4 Chicken Breasts, seasoned and cooked to taste (cubed)
12 oz. package spaghetti noodles, cooked according to package direction
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans (14.5 oz. each) Italian Style Diced Tomatoes
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 c. chopped fresh basil leaves (or 2 T. dried basil)
1/3 c. olive oil
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese

Heat olive oil, add garlic and cook until tender.  Add tomatoes, pepper and basil and heat through, stirring constantly, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Transfer hot, cooked pasta to a large bowl.  Toss pasta gently with tomato mixture, cooked chicken and half of Parmesan cheese.  Serve immediately and pass remaining Parmesan.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Graceful Swans

We've been so blessed with our Little House on the Big River this year.  Hubby and I both grew up near water, but we never dreamed we would be able to have a home of our own on the water some day. 

Last year we found a home on the river at a rock (ROCK) bottom price.  The house was double the square footage of our other home (a major bonus after the twins were born!) and we have a beautiful, private back yard.  We couldn't be happier with the plan God laid out for us.

To add blessing on top of blessing, there has been an abundance of swans living right outside our backdoor.  On any given day this winter we have counted over ninety swans.  They are graceful and peaceful and we've had so much fun watching them.  I thought I would share some pictures. 

I found Lion Cub "watching" the swans with binoculars

Thursday, March 1, 2012

My Mom: The Mayor (and so much more...)

My mom on my wedding day

My mom is the most amazing person I know.  She has overcome more obstacles in her life than most people could imagine and she has done it with grace and dignity. 

She was the fourth child born in a very poor family of ten. She found herself pregnant at the age of seventeen and she and my dad married very quickly.  Their first child was born when they were eighteen.  Having such an early and sudden start to married life, my parents struggled for many years to pull themselves out of poverty, but they never made us feel poor. 

When my parents were twenty-four years old they had an encounter with Jesus Christ that left their lives completely and radically changed.  I was born a year later, and since I can remember, Jesus has been a member of our family and a very real part of our daily lives.  My parents have never looked back since they made the decision to follow Christ.

When my mom was twenty-seven, just months after giving birth to her fourth child, she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.  This disease came on the heels of her father's sudden death and her father-in-law's sudden brain aneurysm.  My parents had been married for ten years at the time, but they were still struggling to make ends meet and with the tragic events in their lives, their stress was compounded.

Because of her first pregnancy, my mom did not get her high school diploma.  When she was in her mid-thirties she went back to school to receive it.  I remember being so proud of her.  She had always loved landscaping and gardening, so she went on to technical school.  She started up her own landscaping and greenhouse business and began to get involved in our community, volunteering for many activities.

My mom applied for a job, in 1991, to be the director of the newly established Main Street Program.  She was a fish out of water, but she had determination and passion and she did a great job.  My dad has always been my mom's biggest fan and she has said a thousand times, she couldn't have done anything without his support and help.

Around this time my parents decided to home school us.  Many things lead to their decision, but ultimately it was a choice the whole family made.  My two older brothers chose to stop homeschooling after the first year, but my younger sister and I went on to home school for six years - and we had a blast!  My mom is a hands on learner and teacher and so we went all over the place, learning about life.  She encouraged us in the areas that we had passion and helped us put it into practice.

My mom's Main Street job eventually turned into directing the Convention and Visitors Bureau, which she has been doing for almost twenty years now.  In her time with the LFCVB she has accomplished countless things, too numerous to mention.  I wish I could express how important she has been to our community.  Many things, both recognized and unrecognized, have contributed to the lives of thousands of people, both in and out of Little Falls.

Amongst their busy careers, my parents decided to build a home, which lead to another, and another.  My parents have built four homes in the past ten years, another testament to their determination and vision for life.

Eight years ago my mom's arthritis began to attack her nervous system and she ended up spending three weeks in the hospital getting treatment for it.  When she came out of the hospital she was paralyzed in both feet and one hand and she spent over six months in a wheelchair, but she wouldn't let it take control of her life.  A week after she was released from the hospital she was back at work (the silly lady) and a year after she was on a bicycle in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  Today she is doing fabulous, although she still has lingering affects.

In 2006, my mom began to have a vision for City Council and decided to run for the mayoral position.  Like everything else in her life, she brought her family alongside her, this time her eight grand babies got involved, in their strollers and wagons, and as a family, we blanketed the city with information about her life and her vision.  She beat her three opponents and she has recently started her second term, this time running uncontested.  She talks about where her political career will take her next and we are excited to wait and see.

Throughout my childhood, my mom was passionate about three things: her faith, her family and her community.  She brought us alongside her to get involved in church, family events and volunteering.  She loves to talk and is a great communicator and encourager.  I went to her with all my questions, concerns and thoughts and we would work them out.  Even when she became very busy, she always took time to talk.

Above everything else, my mom has raised a phenomenal family (I may be a bit biased, but I am not ashamed to be proud of my family).  My two older brothers are married with families and have a successful construction company.  My younger sister and her husband live in Colorado and are expecting their first baby in a couple of weeks, and my husband and I live close by with our four kiddos.  We love each other, we support each other, and we spend a great deal of time together.  My mom and dad have accomplished much in life, but it's the success of their family that is their greatest accomplishment.  My mom did all of this with a debilitating disease, a rocky childhood, a teenage marriage, struggling finances and a limited education.  She amazes me.  When you ask her how she has done so much with her life, she will tell you, time and again, that she could not have done anything without her faith in Christ.  She has been able to do all things through Christ who strengthens her.

I feel honored and blessed that God would allow me the privilege of being raised by such a mighty woman of faith.  I pray that the legacy of faith she has passed down to us will be handed down to our children and our children's children for generations to come.

My mom is "retiring" from her position at the Convention and Visitor's Bureau very soon, but I know it is only the beginning of the rest of her life.  We will all miss her time at the CVB, but we are excited to watch the next chapter of her life unfold.  In what ways will she amaze us next?