A Journey to This Blog

Image result for don't fit in

 

I was born into a home where my mom was a believer and my dad was not.  My grandfather on my mother’s side had been a preacher and although I never knew him, that flavored our family still.  My parents were older when I was born, 44 and 47, so I remember always feeling a bit different than other children my age who had young parents.  We went to the East Chatham Methodist Church every Sunday.  I do not remember much about Sunday School or church other than learning my letters to keep me busy during the service by writing the names of people in my family and when I acted up or was noisy, being taken out to the foyer to be spanked.

When I was a seventh grader, my cousin, Brenda, asked me if I would like to go to snow camp with her and her youth group.  It was at Camp Keswick in New York state.  I remember one night in particular where they played the film, A Thief in the Night.  Afterwards, they asked if anyone wanted to come forward to pray and make sure they were going to Heaven when they died.  I turned to my cousin and asked if she wanted to go.  She said no, she already had.  I went down the aisle and talked to a counselor who explained the gospel and prayed to be saved that night.  I don’t remember a whole lot changing at that point.  I had no follow-up or discipleship.  As a teen I would sometimes go to church with my sister Faith’s family.  They went a whole hour away to a church that had a missionary as their pastor.  His sermons were full of meat and it was deepening to go and actually study the Bible.

When I was in high school, my cousin Brenda again asked me if I wanted to go to camp with her…only this time it was Word of Life Island.  I had a blast.  The next year I decided to go alone since my cousin was no longer interested in going.  At the Island they had encouraged us to be brave and carry our Bibles to school with us.  I did that for the last two years of high school.  I never had anyone comment or ask me about it except one teacher who used me as an object lesson as someone who knew what I believed and wasn’t afraid to stand up for it.

When I didn’t go to church with my mom or sister, I would go to a little Greek Orthodox church in the next town over.  I taught the preschool Sunday School class and sang in the choir.  I loved teaching and learned a lot at this church.

When I went away to college I went to Word of Life Bible Institute.  I learned a lot about ministry and the Word.  I met some wonderful people; but I also saw a good deal of favoritism being shown by Word of LIfe and the administration.  I saw a lot of works oriented Christianity although they would never had said you had to do or be something to be a Christian.  It was taught, but not recognized.  I learned discipline there…the importance of attitude and how sin always starts in the mind and attitude and travels to our feet, hands, and lips from there.  There were many lifelong lessons I learned…but many lessons, too, that God has un-taught me over the years.

Word of Life is one of the first places I realized I didn’t fit.  I had never fit in my home church in East Chatham, either, but it was because I was always interested in the Word and ministry and the other teens were not.  That was a non-fit I could live with.  The non-fit I felt at Bible college was due to something far different.  For some reason I was never good enough or holy enough or smart enough or whatever enough.

This continued at Grand Rapids Baptist College where I went after Word of LIfe.  I went to North Park Baptist Church and learned to do door to door evangelism for bus ministry.  We invited little ones on Saturday morning to come out on Sunday morning to Sunday School.  I was a part of the choir and college and career class until I married.  It was then when we changed classes to the young marrieds, that I again didn’t fit.  Transitions.

The most recent transition I have gone through has been as my children went out on their own.  You have to understand I have been a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom.  This was my life.  Raising and teaching my six children has been my joy and privilege.  We move to NC and I had to search for work.  It was the first time I had worked outside the home since I was newly married.  Talk about transitions!

This blog is what came out of this time.  It has been a dark few years, but the good and light that has come out of it is worth sharing.  These are the things no one knows about me.  These are the journeys life has brought me through.  These are the lessons I’ve learned.

 

 

What Is Your Kryptonite?

I was listening to KLOVE the other day when a man came on saying that his kryptonite was chocolate chip cookies.  It got me to thinking…what is my kryptonite?

I think chocolate chip cookies is a good one…I wish all my Kryptonite were that simple.

Interpersonal relationships in the workplace can be Kryptonite to me.  They sap my strength and keep me from being the person I was meant to be. I should probably make an adendum to that.  Certain work relationships sap my strength.  You know, that EGR (Extra Grace Required) person who goes off on you or the one who throws you under the bus every time he/she gets a chance.  Those are the relationships that fry my cookies so to speak.

My day can be flying along just as Superman flies into outer space and one or two words, a look, a phone call, an attitude can send me into a tailspin.  I head plummeting down towards earth from the effects of that Kryptonian personality.

So what do you do?  What do I do?  First, I have to remember who I am.  I am Superman!  I am the one who flies.  I have superhuman strength, x-ray vision, cold breath, super-speed, enhanced hearing and nigh-invulnerability.   No really, I have to remember who I work for, why I work here and re-center.  I’ve been learning a lot about mindfulness.  Some moments I would rather not sit and relish in.  Like those filled with Kryptonians and Kryptonite.  But I can force my mind into a moment of peace and re-center my thoughts so I can fly again.

Every day we have choices in our workplace.  Are we the Kryptonians who sap others’ strength or are we the Supermen who rise above the Krypton in our workplaces?  You decide.  You re-center and choose which moment to be mindful of.  You choose your kryptonite…make it chocolate chip cookies…or bacon.  Fly, baby, fly!

My Health – Normal is Just a Setting on the Dryer

My health has been a stressor for 40+ years.  In high school I took a Physiology class where I needed to run a mile everyday…until after my mile my Mom could hear my heart pound across the car and decided we needed to see a cardiologist.  I was diagnosed with Mitro Valve Prolapse and the functional heart murmur that goes along with it.  So I kept running until I got shin splints so bad that the teacher decided I should write a paper instead.

Then in college my stress level went up which started me in to mouth sores that were so large I couldn’t eat or talk.  I would go to the college infirmary and the nurse would burn off the sores with silver nitrate.  Yow!!!  Little did I know this was the first sign of Crohns disease.

I was mis-diagnosed in 1986 with Ulcerative Colitis and told I would be on medication the rest of my life.  I tried nutritionists, chiropractors, regular doctors and gastroenterologists and never found anything that really worked.

Pregnancy and nursing worked. lol  I had six wonderful children during this time and that kept the Crohns at bay for the most part.

After my last pregnancy, my Crohns flared up and  I was on nightly enemas with Cortisone, 16 Sulfasalazine tablets a day (as many as they could give me) Prednisone (as much as they could give me orally) and whatever else they could throw at me.  I was still frequenting the bathroom 30 times a day.  I was a pastor’s wife and stay at home homeschooling mom during all of this.  I remember the morning I called my doctor to report how many times I was going to the bathroom on my current medication regimen.  He said, “I will have to put you in the hospital for 3 days to get this settled down.”  I laughed.  “I can’t go in the hospital!  I have six kids and homeschool.”  He told me to get childcare and meet him at the hospital.  My 3 day stint turned into 2 weeks.  Even on the most prednisone they could give me, they couldn’t get my gut to calm down.  I met with the surgeon at that time and he explained my options.

As soon as I got out of the hospital I went back to the nutritionist/chiropractors to see if they could help me.  Looking back now I was trying one last ditch effort before surgery.  Then in 1996 I went in for a praetocolectomy with an ileoanal pouch.  I came out with an ileostomy that was supposed to be reversed in six weeks.  It took 9 months because I was in and out of the hospital with infections, cysts, blood clots, unexplained fevers and migraines.  Once I had my gallbladder out things started looking up and they were able to reverse the ileostomy.  The next few years were getting used to my new normal.  With an ileoanal pouch you have stools that are not formed since the colon is what takes the fluid out …so you go to the bathroom more than usual still.  My new normal was 8-10 times a day.

Then in 2104 I got some new insurance and decided I should have a scope to make sure things were going well with my pouch.  I had had pouchitis a few times and thought I was doing well.  This is when the mis-diagnosis of ulcerative colitis came into view because the lesions were in my small intestine, too; which means Crohns.  I was disheartened to say the least.  The gastroenterologist wanted to put me on a chemo drug to tamp down my immune system.  That never sounds like a good idea.

I think my frustration over the years is watching a significant portion of our funds go into my health and not seeing where it has done any goods.  Even without a colon…my health wasn’t really health.

Since then I have gone to an Integrative health specialist.  They were the ones who found the food sensitivities.  If I stay off all gluten, diary and sugar I do pretty well.  I don’t think I’ll ever go to the bathroom less, but at least I don’t feel cruddy all the time.

Last year I started into vertigo.  I started seeing an Upper Cervical care chiropractor.  He works with just the little bones that surround the brain stem and it is believed that all immune problems start there.  I am happy to say I’ve seen a lot of good come out of seeing him.  For awhile we were symied why my adjustments wouldn’t hold so I went to see a craniosacral therapist.  She has helped my adjustments stay put.

What now?  I just started in with flashing shooting lights on my right side of my right eye.  I had my eyes checked right away and there is no torn retina, but they wondered about ocular migraines.  I went today to see a neurologist who is ordering an MRI and MRAs of both my head and neck to be sure there is nothing else going on.

So there it is.  My health or unhealth journey.  I often think…okay what’s next? I haven’t even mentioned the numerous UTIs, renal failure or kidney stones in all this.  So if you have health issues.  I’m here to listen.  There is a loss involved and sometimes we need to vent and grieve with someone.  I’m here.

How to be a Good Mom

First and foremost, you need a dad.  That said.  In our society you will hear a lot about how you don’t need a dad.  I disagree strongly.  You can’t be a good mom….the best mom…without a dad.  Now…carefully I say that because some people have been thrust into single parenting and they do the best they can; but I have watched a lot of single moms and single dads and for the most part they are trying too hard to be a good mom or dad  and to be the one the child wants to be with.

I had the dad.  He wanted to be the dad to my mom and we made lots of little babies who didn’t like me a lot of the time because I wasn’t their friend…I was their mom.  I was the good mom.  I cared.  I cooked.  I cleaned.  I disciplined and I loved.   Babies need love.  But they also need boundaries.  They need discipline.  They need someone to tell them when and where and how long they will sleep or nap.  They need someone to tell them what they will and will not eat.  They need someone who cares so much for them that they don’t care about their cries or screams to have their own way.

My good mom strategies are way out of vogue in our society today.  Today if little prince wants something he gets it.  If he doesn’t want a nap, he doesn’t take it.  If he doesn’t like the food set before him, he doesn’t have to eat it.  If he doesn’t want to go to church, then he doesn’t have to go. Ad nauseum.

I had a great mom.  She loved me.  She crawled under a bed once to get me to discipline me when I had a smart mouth.  She worked hard to create a home for me.  She took my side because I was her baby and even though she was 44 when she found out she was going to have ANOTHER baby she never looked back and gave me as good a life as she could.  She died way too early and I will always miss her because she was the best mom ever.

Second, you need to pray.  I didn’t do this as much as I should have.  Prayer makes a good mom.  You can do everything wrong…but if you pray for your children…you are a good mom.  God makes up for our frailties…and I have a lot of them…so this is where I will sit…with dad … and prayer…to make me a good mom.

Facebook Vs. Anonymity

Decisions

FACEBOOK VS. ANONYMITY

Reset

Do you ever have those times in life where you just want to be a hermit? I do. Work can be stressful. Family can be stressful. Friends can be stressful…or the lack thereof for any of those three. Sometimes you find yourself…if you are like me…a little bit sad…or close to tears a lot and you just need some alone time.

Beginnings

Not too long ago I was at a conference. As I sat there sometimes with tears running down my face…I realized that the girl I was before husband or children was still deep inside me and she needed to be listened to. It wasn’t anything really huge….just some decisions I had made as a young teen that I felt hadn’t been fulfilled, yet.

I the midst of my very busy life I had forgotten about that girl…the one who needed to be heard. As I drove home from the conference I wondered if anyone really knew me. I felt lost and like so much of life had passed without being able to be me.

Journeys

What I’m realizing is that life is a journey and sometimes you can walk someone else’s journey. I had to many desires as a young girl that have been unfulfilled. To be fair…we all dream of what life will be like and for the most part…life doesn’t turn out the way we’d planned. I think maybe God sits with a smile on HIs face sometimes. Proverbs 16:9 says The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.

For me – in conclusion – I left facebook today. I have tried for the last week, but because of some games I play I had a hard time staying gone. 😀 It hasn’t been an easy decision for me. I have 4 of my 6 children who are long distance and I’ve always thought I would keep facebook in order to know what was going on with them. But I found myself sad and depressed watching their lives go on without me…so I need space right now. I need to find that little girl and nurture her. My kids have my phone number and e-mail and they know where to get ahold of me; but it seems to make little difference right now. Maybe someday. But for now…let’s go on a journey together … to find out who I (and you) am (are).

Proverbs 16:9 “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”

What in the World am I Doing?

Ever been there?  You look up and you find yourself in a new and completely unfamiliar situation.  A new job.  A new undertaking.  A new family.  A new baby.  AHHHHHHHH!  What in the world am I doing?

I find myself there today.  I am completely unfamiliar with the place I am in.  I’ve been confident and happy and all of a sudden I’ve been thrust into something totally out of my element.

So what do you do?  I read.  I can’t tell you how many self-help books I have on my shelves.  Reading inspires me.  Sometimes I find things online…blogs, websites and google is my friend. 😀  Other times I head to Barnes & Noble or browse Amazon or Christianbook.com.

Then there are the times I read and search and get overwhelmed and quit for a while.  I hope you aren’t there today.  If you are … know there is someone out there struggling in the same way as you are…thinking of you over the world-wide web wishing we could talk, grab a coffee and just be friends.

The American Dream

Image result for american dream

 

Every once in awhile in my job at “The Wipe” I ask a customer how their day is going.  I get the response, “Ohhh…living the dream.”  lol  We laugh and exchange pleasantries…often mentioning how close or far away the next weekend is.  Sometimes one of us will remark  about how we are “wishing our lives away.”

To be honest…the American dream often feels like it is a long way away; however, when I learn more about other countries and how others live; I realize that my “dream” may have been a little high for me…and I am still living among the richest 2% even though I don’t own my own home and have bills to rival the national debt.

There is a little lady I will call “L” who calls me in my business at “The Wipe” to ask questions or give information about her orders.  I just love her voice.  When I hear it I am immediately in my “happy zone.”  “Hellooooo” she drawls in her northern sultry deep voice….and I immediately know it is my friend.  Now, I have never met “L” other than on the phone, but even in her most frustrated, stressed times…we connect.  I find it odd that I connect with someone several states away more than I do with those around me.  Maybe it is the anonymity that helps us get beyond whatever is going on around us to have 2-3 minutes of friendship.  I think it is a Godsend though…because that one “happy zone” will sometimes get me through 2-3 days of an extremely stressful job.

Thanks, “L”, for taking me out of “The Wipe” even for just a little…to connect with a “friend” whom I’ve never met.

Dark Night of the Soul

My prayer tonight has been to find a reason to live beyond my children, my grandchildren, my husband and ministry.  To understand this you have to know that I have always wanted to be a mom and homemaker.  I never desired a job really that put me out in the workplace.  Yes…here I am.  I took myself off facebook today because I look sometimes a hundred times a day to see what my children are doing…to hear what my grandchildren are doing and saying.  That’s not healthy.  I had unrealistic expectations that in these golden years we would be full…full of Sunday dinners, full of children, full of love and connection and friendship and need of us…of me.  There is none of that.  So now I need to find my new peace state where I am happy with myself and with my life.  I need to find my reason for living.

At first I thought…well, Allen and I have been together 40 years – 37 years married – so it should be him.  But…what if he goes first?  My reason would have just left the earth.  I have to be okay with me.  I have to put into my soul.  I have always been the one to put into others, to call and set a time to get together, to text and message.  One of my greatest disappointments in life has been that people don’t seem to like me.  I am not sure what I do or don’t do…but I will never be the one in that group of women laughing and having dinner with and shopping with other women.  I have to be okay with that.  I need to continue to be here for others, but I also have to take care of myself.  I’m not sure what that even looks like because taking care of myself was always in taking care of others.  But now I’m empty.  My soul is pretty dark and shriveled up right now.  Life looks dark and uninviting.  I miss my kids.  I love them so much and they will never know the depths of my grief over them until we get to Heaven.

So these are my thoughts tonight.  I am not sure where this journey will take me.  But I know I have to take it to survive.  My dark night of the soul has been so long…I never struggled really knowing my place in college or beyond…it was mapped out for me.  But now the map is meandering and not defined.

I can’t tell you where I’d be if I didn’t know Jesus.  He is the foundation and the only reason I have stayed this long.  I hope I please Him even now as I struggle and wish things were different.

Merry Christmas 2017

December, 2017

Dear friends and family,

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! This past year has certainly been an eventful one. Like any year it has had its high and low moments, but we are confident that in all of these things God is at work. I am reminded of the words of Hebrew 13: 5 which says, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” I can say honestly that I had expected to be part of a growing church as a staff member by this stage of life but apparently that was not part of God’s design for us. Instead, I am being repurposed. At this writing, I am about a third of the way through a master’s degree that will allow me to become a licensed professional counselor. I am on target to graduate from Liberty University in the spring of 2019. In the meantime, I am counseling and performing assessments one day a week for The Summit Church in Kernersville as well as maintaining my position at Aflac and working ten hours a week at the Rankin Baptist church in Greensboro as their music director. The work feels rather scattered, but I am grateful for it.

Al and Darleen

Darleen, my rock, and faithful sweetheart continues to work as a customer service representative for Texwipe in Kernersville. As most of you know, her sacrifice and willingness to work full time are what have made my return to school possible. In the midst of her busy work life, she finds time to make hats for everyone and his brother’s cousin. In addition, she also finds crafty ways to bless our grandchildren and various other friends who make requests for quality homemade gifts. Darleen has continued her work as a lay counselor at The Summit Church. She has, in the opinion of the counseling pastor, become one of the most effective counselors in the lay counseling program. Needless to say, I am very proud of her and her accomplishments.

JON

Jonathan continues to make his way through the educational landscape of college. He is doing well as a Computer science major at UNCG in Greensboro. Like me, his graduation will take place in the spring of 2019. Needless to say, we are already planning a huge celebration. He currently works at the Union Cross Park for the Forsythe County Parks and Recreation Department. However, his desire is to find interim work in a company that will allow him to gain experience as an IT professional.

Candace

Candace is living near Ben and Amanda in Reading, Pennsylvania. She is working for Target as a beauty consultant. The position was created especially for her. She is told that the sales in that department have increased a great deal since she took over. That isn’t surprising since she is knowledgeable regarding beauty products and adept at sales. This weekend she took a step towards autonomy by moving to her own apartment.

 

Daniel and Sonya live in Northern Ireland with two of our beautiful granddaughters. Dan is close to completing his internship as a baker. Please pray that God will open the opportunity for him to be full time at the bakery where he works. Pray also that God would provide opportunities for ministry for he and Sonya. In the meantime, God has blessed Sonya with work in the medical community. Arianna is four and Maya is 1 ½.  They both keep their parents on their toes.  From time to time we are blessed to be able to send packages to them through Darleen’s boss who goes to Ireland twice a year.  That has been such a blessing.

Noah and Caleb

Ben and Amanda are preparing to add grandchild number ten to the growing ranks of the Bacon Nation. Aaron is due to be born sometime between now and January 8th. Noah has begun Kindergarten and loves it. Caleb began preschool this year as well. Both boys are flourishing in their new educational environments. Ben is continuing his work as a behavioral analyst for a school that serves high functioning autistic children. As of this fall, he is also being loaned out by his school to other schools who have autistic children and are in need of training. The ever-industrious Amanda has started a company of her own called “Fairytale Journeys.” She is, in effect, a travel agent for Disney. So, if you are planning a trip to the Magic Kingdom, be sure to drop her a line.

Mackie family

Carolyn and Cameron are busy working and raising two children of their own. Carolyn works as a customer service representative for Dedon, a high-end furniture company. Recently she has been promoted and is periodically traveling for the company. Cameron, the ever steady, continues to work in the seed company that was started by his stepfather. The company has sold, but Cam still supervises and is in charge of ordering and all sorts of other things. Hayden has grown so much that he is no longer the little boy that we once knew. He is in the 5th grade and doing well in school. Chloe, our little spark plug continues to entertain us with her toddler sense of humor and antics. There is never a dull moment with her around. Grammy and I enjoy the weekly visits from Hayden and the occasional opportunities to watch them both overnight.

Russell family

Mark and Christie are doing well in the frozen tundra of Vermont. They moved into a house of their own this last year. Mark has been busy fixing and learning the fine art of being a homeowner. He is now firmly entrenched at Cabot creamery as the guy who makes the yogurt. So, support the family and buy a little Cabot Cheese. Mark has also gone back to school to finish his bachelors degree. Christie is going 100 miles an hour as usual. I think she may be like her mother in this way. She works in the office for Union Baptist Church. I am told that she is an integral part of the office staff. She also still homeschools her children which is a full-time job all on its own.  Evelyn is in 2nd grade, Miles in Kindergarten and Elyanah keeps mom busy on the side.

We hope your festivities this Christmas are memorable and sweet and your New Year is filled with much more good than bad in 2018.  We wish we could spend the holidays with each one of you!

God Bless,

Allen, Darleen and Jonathan

Bacon

 

My Son, Dan

The other night while lying in bed my husband and I were talking about the upcoming birthday of our son, Dan.

We haven’t seen Dan for 4 1/2 years because he is living in Northern Ireland with his family.  But each year around the holidays and his birthday we often reminisce.  Dan was our fourth child and 2nd boy.  He was my biggest baby, but quickly settled into being the tiniest of little guys…at least till he hit his growth spurt sometime around his twelfth year.

Dan was such fun as a little guy.  He was full of vim and vigor and was such a happy baby.  One morning shortly before our fifth was born, Dan had crawled into bed with my husband and I and we took turns tickling him and making him squeal.  I remember that morning so vividly because we wondered aloud how we could every love another baby as much as we did Dan.  We knew we could because we already loved three others, but sometimes there are those moments when everything seems right in the world and you are just happy.  That was one of those moments.

As Dan grew older he took on more personality.  He was an old soul…loving music from Frank Sinatra’s era.  He worked several paper routes for the Caledonian Record while we were in St. Johnsbury, VT, and worked so hard at getting new customers that he won a trip to Disney World with the paper.

Dan used to ride his bike all over town.  One time I went into a hardware store and the man asked if I was Daniel’s mom because he was so impressed that he had ridden his bike down to buy a rake so he could make money raking people’s lawns.

He went through a duct tape stage at one point in his teenagerhood.  He ended up making wallets and purses and eventually made himself a coat.  It was too cool.

Dan sang.  A lot.  When he was little he would sing so loud in church that people would turn around and smile.  He had a joyful heart and it was a joy to hear him sing.  Often as I was getting breakfast or school things ready in the morning I would hear him…and know he was awake because the music started.  I loved that about mornings.

So now as he turns another year older very far away from us…I am thankful for the years we had with him.  He was a good boy and he became a good man, husband and father.  Happy birthday, Dan.