What Does 2017 Hold?

Dorothy was right…there is no place like home. We left for Arkansas on Christmas Day, visiting my parents and celebrating Christmas in Silver Dollar City and didn’t return home until New Year’s Eve. I actually want to unpack my suitcases, restock my kitchen and vacuum up the dirt tracked in on my floors. I’m even ready to think about school starting back up and I’m soooo thankful to sleep in my bed, with all my pillows next to my husband!

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Ringing in the New Year causes me to be nostalgic. (OK, really anything can cause me to be nostalgic, but especially when the calendar turns January 1st.) I think back to highlights and unfortunately low lights of 2016 and recall the lessons God taught me through them. Then I try to peer through the misty windows towards what’s ahead in 2017. I know God doesn’t see time like I do, so I try to align myself to His timetable.

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The High Tide of Grief

Grief.

I’ve tried to pinpoint the triggers. Sometimes I can, sometimes I can’t. My mind wanders into open doorways of memories way too easily. It seems to come over me in waves like a high tide. If I’m observant, there are signs the water is rising, but there comes a moment when the waves crash over me, and I’m pulled into an underwater current going farther and farther from the surface.

I can’t breathe.

Even in the middle of the day, my world is gray, my movements slow, the sounds around me muttered, and my brain disengaged.

The days of extreme grief strung together for weeks at a time. I wondered if I’d ever come up for air again. I longed to see the land and shed my water logged clothing for sanity and stability. I longed to see the sun and run on the sand, holding hands with my kids.

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What I Miss Most

While Papa was settling in at the assisted living place, my mom and I were left with the question of what to do with his house, and all the things in his house.

My parents moved to Arkansas right after Caleb, my oldest was born. My mom says it’s my fault… I got married and moved out of the house at 18, leaving my parents early empty-nesters.

To combat the empty void, my mom decided to pursue her doctorate degree at North Texas. I’m pretty sure she also re-modeled her bathroom, redecorated and painted a few rooms all in one summer too!

So 4 years later, Ph.D in hand, she’s ready to teach at a University but there was not a position for her in Tyler or Dallas. She began putting out resumes right as my pregnancy test turned positive. At the time I hated to tell her to stay, because we didn’t have deep roots in East Texas yet. Adam and I both grew up there but we didn’t have jobs that we wanted to be at for the rest of our life. We had thought of moving too. I thought it’d be our luck, that I would convince my parents to stay close and then we’d be the ones moving. For all we knew, we might join them in Arkansas.

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Hearts, Hiking and Healing

Before we go any further in this 31 day journey and before I share more about what home-schooling looks like for us now, I want to share with you how important my grandfather is to me so that you can gain a better perspective of why this time was so hard for me.

To do that, I want to take you to my favorite chapter (chapter 6) of my book that I released in May of this year.  The chapter title is called Keys, Tea and Herons, and here is a glimpse of the relationship I had with my grandfather and also a beautiful example of how God prepared me for this difficult time.

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The Day God Moved Mountains

The day we returned home from Arkansas, the Lord moved mountains for me. The family Papa stayed with while we were gone confirmed he had digressed beyond our level of care.

There was a fairly new assisted living facility in our town that we checked on before bringing Papa to our house. At that time it was full, with a waiting list.

Now desperate, we called again. The moment my mom called the lady on the other end said, “Well actually we have a room available right now. If you want it, I’ll write your name down and hold it for you.”

Ummm, YES!

We pulled in our driveway at 4:00 p.m. on a Monday, and by 4:15, I was in the office signing the papers. I didn’t want anything to happen to that room.

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What is Going On?

Life went on pretty well with the kids in school. Papa had lived with us for 6 weeks when we realized this wasn’t going to work much longer. It was actually the weekend my adoption was finalized (if you haven’t read that story, it is a MUST! Not only is the story heart-warming but it also won a writing contest and I got to have a 1-on-1 meeting with Bethany House Publishing!) that we realized the magnitude of the situation.

It started with an argument over Papa saying his electric razor was at his house. I was helping him pack his suitcase for the weekend – he was staying with other family while we went to Arkansas for the adoption court date.

“Why would it be at your house Papa? I asked. “You don’t go over there to shave.”

“Sure I do!” he bantered back, in stubborn Smith fashion.

“Papa, you’ve never taken a shower over there before,” I reiterated, racking my brain trying to figure out where he was coming from.

“Yes I have. I did just yesterday,” he stated firmly.

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Hope in the Face of Tragedy

Yesterday I woke up to read about the tragic events in Orlando, Florida. My heart broke for the people involved.

Through out the day that sadness and compassion for the victims turned to utter frustration as the news reports put their spin on the ordeal, tweaking the facts to support their political view. Add to that some of my favorite writers turning this into a LGBT debate.

This shooting has opened Pandora’s Box on racism, sexism, gay issues and gun control.

Some say if we outlawed all guns we wouldn’t have this problem.

Some say this is the Christian’s chance to fully embrace the LGBT community and love on them in the name of Christ. They say Jesus would be on ground zero administering help anyway He could.

Some say this is why we should elect Trump or Hillary.

Everyone has an opinion on how we are supposed to react and respond to this tragedy, as if compassion needs to be politically correct.

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Emerging from the Cocoon

One year ago today, my feet stepped back onto American soil after spending one month in Kenya, I wrote in my journal. I took a deep breath, and let my head rest back on my pillow, remembering the journey and how good it felt to be home. It felt like yesterday. No, it felt like three years ago!

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It was after that trip that my life completely changed.

So much change happened all of a sudden that I don’t even want to retrace it, yet here I am writing about it.

This change rocked me to my core. It put me flat on my back and knocked the breath out of me.

First sadness set in, then grief, which turned to anxiety and finally depression.

Before last year, I’d not had a personal encounter with those words. Sadness. Grief. Anxiety. Depression. I knew what they meant and I knew people who struggled with them, but they were not feelings I lived with. Sure, I’ve had a bad day or an off week, but eventually the clouds would part in my world and the sun would shine again.

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Beyond the Page

Thread of Redemption

Thread of Redemption

Thread of Redemption

The words rung in my ears over and over again.

Is this my site?

Late one evening, I re-worded my site to look something like this:

The Thread of Redemption

I eagerly published it and was excited to share the new logo, until, as I was praying about what this new title held, I heard the whisper, this is a new thing.

A new thing.

So, I erased my work and took the months December and January to pray, listen and record the message I believe this site is to hold and share.

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What Makes You Valuable?

My Papa has been my whole world since I can remember. When I was 4 he took me down to the creek and showed me how to skip rocks. When I couldn’t exactly skip them, we resorted to just throwing them in the water under the bridge.

When I was learning how to ride a bike, he ran beside me.

When I was learning how to drive a car he took me to the steepest hill at Holly Lake, put on the parking brake and told me to let out the clutch slowly. Then he rolled his eyes when the car died.

He took me fishing down at the dock.

He took me skiing on spring break.

He played volleyball with me when it was volleyball season.

He ran with me during cross country season.

I watched him build a house for three years, then five years later sell it and move to a house two blocks down and re-model it.

There’s never been a task too hard, an order too tall or a request of mine un-granted. He was never too busy, too broke or too tired to be with me.

And I’m a better woman because of it.

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