Fall in Love with Fall

I realize it is only mid-August. I know we are still in the heat of summer. On really humid days, when I am melting into a puddle of sweat, it can still seem like the seventh circle of Hell.

I remind myself that in only a little over a month it will be FALL. Fall is my favorite season of the year. I love candles and cozy. Sweaters and pumpkin spice. Leaves and a chill in the air. The home decor YouTube bloggers are already starting their “Fall Hauls” after shopping at Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, and Target. I expect the Fall home tours to be beginning shortly. Pinterest is exploding with Autumn bucket lists, and how to make your home cozy. Y’all, I live for this stuff.

The other day I bought two new Fall colored blankets, orange and yellow. They will look so warm and cozy on our brown leather furniture. I also bought an Autumn leaf wreath. I am not sure where I will put the wreath, but I am confident I will figure out the perfect spot.

“For cryin’ out loud”, you are probably thinking. This woman is crazy. She is obviously suffering from heat stroke. She thinks it is October. Someone, quick! Throw her in the pool. Give her an iced tea to sip. Snap out of it!

I admit, I have Fall fever. I am counting down the days until September when I can decorate for Autumn and people won’t think I have a problem.

Eyes Wide Open

I am going to talk about a subject today that will bother some, maybe even make some angry. That is okay. I am going to talk about it anyway. For the last decade I have been talking about human trafficking and sex trafficking. I have had people ask me why I am so passionate about this topic. Believe me when I say, I didn’t choose this fight. It chose me. This particular topic is vile, ugly, and cruel. Children as young as newborns are beaten and sodomized for the sick pleasure of the most evil among us….and make no mistake they ARE among us.

The mother was known as the town “whore”. She was a full fledged alcoholic. I don’t know when it became okay in this woman’s mind to give her 11 year old daughter to her numerous “boyfriends” and in return have them pay her in alcohol. Her young daughter’s innocence was equal to a bottle of Jim Beam. The person in this world that was supposed to love her and protect her more than anyone, sold her for liquor.

The nine year old boy was sexually abused by his grandfather, who was also his father. You see, this boys mother was sexually abused by her own father and had given birth to this boy. They grew up in a cycle of sexual abuse to the point of it being “normal”. Even when child services got involved, and court hearings were held, it didn’t stop. Mother was told not to let her child around this man. But, this woman was broken…so broken. When her own father raped her over and over again and nothing happened, she gave up. Now, she and her child suffer the pain of living with generational abuse.

The little girl was about five years old when her older male neighbor molested her. She was confused. What was happening? Don’t tell. This is our secret. The girl grew up, living with the memory of her trauma, wondering why SHE was chosen by this man? Wondering if she was the only one?

The boy became a man. He made bad choices and poor decisions. He found himself going down a road that he probably never meant to go down. Wickedness in the heart and a seared conscience would allow him to do things he never imagined. He hooked up with a woman that had a pre-school age daughter. They hatched a plan to sell “time” with the little girl. How evil must one be, to plan to give a young child to grown men to be raped? A pre-schooler. Thankfully, an undercover FBI agent stopped this plan, and the two deviants went to prison. In this case, the girl was saved, but this kind of thing happens all too frequently. Family members pimping out their own children for money or drugs.

Every. Single. Day. I see stories in the news about local, national, and international sex-trafficking of children. Businessmen, school superintendents, police officers, meteorologists, school teachers, pastors/priests, politicians, entertainers, and athletes. Wherever there are children, these people are there. Not everyone is an abuser of children, I know that….but, and this is a big but…..there are more of these deviant people out there than you could ever imagine. You are no longer allowed to say, “This doesn’t effect me”, “I choose to keep my head buried in the sand”, or “It is too awful to think about”. The children of the world are at risk, now more than ever. Don’t turn a blind eye to this pandemic of sex-trafficking and abuse.

#eyeswideopen #thesepeopleareeverywhere #saveourchildren

Operation Underground Railroad https://ourrescue.org/,

Vets for Child Rescue–Craig Sawyer https://www.vets4childrescue.org/,

Women at Risk International https://warinternational.org/,

International Justice Mission https://www.ijm.org/,

Simply Earth Essential Oils-give 13% of their monthly profits to organizations that fight human trafficking https://simplyearth.com/,https://simplyearth.com/pages/our-cause#OurPartners

Other organizations international/national, https://www.state.gov/international-programs-to-combat-trafficking-in-persons-3/, https://www.childwelfare.gov/organizations/?CWIGFunctionsaction=rols:main.dspList&rolType=Custom&RS_ID=57

I’m Back!

Y’all, I have thought about my blog on and off throughout this year. In the past, I was blogging all the time and loved it. I still love writing and blogging, but I’ll be honest, this past year has gone by so quickly and has been so busy that I was always just too tired to put my thoughts together to blog (and have it make sense). The last time I posted was nearly a year ago. Oh, my! I said all this to say, I am back. Hopefully, all my long time followers will find it a pleasant surprise that I have returned to blogging and plan on posting regularly once again. Maybe, I will get some new followers also.

I am currently sitting in the kitchen. I have home decorating shows from YouTube playing on the TV. Yes, it is a guilty pleasure. I love watching decor shows. My husband indulges my love of decorating. Although, he probably could not care less if we have fall colored sofa pillows or a burnt orange throw blanket. I know you are probably wondering why it is mid-August and I am already thinking of Fall. It is a thing, people. The home decorators are already doing their “Fall Hauls” from Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, and Kirklands. I may or may not have just purchased a rust colored blanket for the couch. Don’t judge.

School, in my county, is not starting until September 10th. This is the first year we were going to start back the day after Labor Day (planned even before the whole COVID thing), but a couple of more days were tacked on to make sure the schools are completely sanitized and all the staff is ready for our new COVID world. I am an intervention specialist (a.k.a special education teacher) with some high school students. All I can say is that the start of this school year will feel odd, unlike anything I have ever experienced in my thirty years of teaching. I am planning on still having fun with my students regardless of masks, sanitizing, and social distancing.

Can I tell y’all something? It is not that I liked being “locked down” for several weeks this past Spring, but there was something nice about not having to be anywhere. Life had become a race to be places and get things done, and being forced to slow down and stay home was not horrible. Mind you, I didn’t want to stay that way forever because after a while I wanted to see people and share some moments. I don’t want social distancing to become social isolation…for any of us. We need each other now, more than ever. What did you think about being forced to stay at home?

During the summer I also complete assessments for local homeschooling families. I am currently in the process of reorganizing my schoolroom/office area. This is no small task. I have accumulated a lot in all my years of teaching/consulting/assessing. When I say “a lot” I mean a dump truck full of stuff give or take. Maybe in another 10 years, I will gift my teaching stuff to families that will use it to continue growing life long learners. I am thankful for all the years I have been blessed to teach. It has been and continues to be, a great gig.

I am excited to be back! See you soon.

Being Seen

Last week there was a knock at my door. The dogs were going crazy. I glanced out the kitchen window and saw an orange jeep in the driveway. I don’t know anyone with an orange jeep. I figured I’d find out, as I walked to the laundry room door, keeping my barking, maniac dog at bay.

“Are you Dawn?”, a kind face asked. “Yes”, I replied. The woman introduced herself as she handed me a container full of cookies. “You like cookies, I hope?”. “Yes, I do”.

“I left my husband doing yard work at home”, she said with a smile. “I told him I was going to meet Dawn”. I felt humbled. Truth is, it was nice to meet her.

This woman standing on my porch, is the bus driver on my rural road. Even though I no longer have school age children, I would always be outside feeding the horse and chickens in the early morning hours when she went by. She would cheerily honk the bus horn at me and I would wave. I never saw her face. I didn’t know her name. I did know that she made me smile each morning as we both participated in our regular morning routine.

As the school year was drawing to an end, and summer break was awaiting, I decided to send her a card through the school transportation department. I just wanted her to know I appreciated her. I wanted her to know that something as simple as a friendly bus horn honk each morning made me happy. It made me glad to live on a country road.

I am trying to be more mindful of my interactions with people. A smile to someone, a genuine compliment, an act of kindness. We are all in this life together, and sometimes it is just the simple act of “seeing” someone else that can have a profound effect.

365 Days…

Some days can seem so very long, the click of the passing minutes echoing like a time bomb. On those days I think, “I just want this day done”! Other times, the moments slip through my grasp like tiny grains of sand. I want those moments back, but they are gone forever. 2018 will be complete in just a few short hours. As I think back over the months that created the year 2018, I smile and I cry. There were wonderful times and hard times. Nothing special and everything special, because isn’t that just life? Filled full of both good and bad. And yet, moments that instantly turned to memories, and I don’t want to forget.

On this New Year’s Eve I don’t want to write about parties or plans.

I just want to reach out and touch your hand.

I don’t want to worry about pain or age.

I am just happy to turn the next page.

As this year comes to an end, I want to think about how words can mend…

How love can heal, how God is good, knowing what is real, and doing what I could.

I want to consider what I can do to make 2019 better for you.

Love Of The 1940s

I’m listening to Christmas music on the day before Thanksgiving. Go figure. I told Google to play holiday music from the Big Band Era. That is just how I roll. I am also watching Holiday Home Tours on Youtube. This is how I spend my day off.

Y’all I think I missed my decade. I am in love with all things 1940’s. Of course, if I was actually an adult in the 1940s, I probably wouldn’t be alive right now so there is that……

The horribleness of war was over and it was a new chapter for America. People were ready to look ahead.

I love big band music, watching swing dance, and listening to the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby, and Rosemary Clooney. It is impossible to be down when one listens to this music…..Jazz and smooth velvety voices. 

Some of my favorite black and white movies are from the 1940s. The time when Hollywood was glamorous and golden. Casablanca, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Philadelphia Story, Arsenic and Old Lace, His Girl Friday, Miracle on 34th Street (the original!). I could go on and on. I really liked Jimmy Stewart…one of my favorites. 

Part of my love comes from vintage decorating. I am getting ready to decorate for Christmas this weekend, which will include my 1940s inspired decorations. My Putz houses, vintage Santa, Christmas story and hymn book from the 40’s, and an old, Italian nativity set. Although I am constantly looking at new decorating styles, there is something about the old, the vintage, the retro that pulls at me. I enjoy things that tell a story and have a history. 

Even in the 1940’s laundry had to be done. Mind you it is a lot easier today than it was then, but alas, it still must be done……so off I go. 

Enjoying The Moments

Winter has come early. Last Friday it snowed, and today we have a coating of freezing rain. The school district wisely closed for the day because things are pretty slick out there. I still got up at my regular time of 5:30am because I enjoy my morning quiet, it is my time before the rest of my family begins to stir. 

I have my hot coffee (with dairy-free almond milk vanilla creamer). I have a load of laundry going, fed all the pets and let them out to take care of business. Now, I get to sit and just enjoy… for the moment.

The front window is covered in icy freezing rain so the world looks distorted as I gaze out onto the side yard. The smaller kitchen window, protected by the deck roof gives a better view. The sky is a cold gray, smoky smudges on the outside pallet. The wind gauge is quickly spinning around telling me the breeze is going to be cold this morning on my walk over to the barn. The grass looks crunchy coated in the coolness of ice. 

Thanksgiving is just a week away. Time is quickly slipping through the hourglass, and I don’t feel ready. I haven’t shopped for the big meal yet. (How long does a turkey have to thaw again?) Anyone that knows me, knows Christmas truly is my most wonderful time of the year. I love to decorate! With that said, I also love Thanksgiving. For me, it is a time to ponder and think about the year past and all the things big and small that I am thankful for. I don’t want to forget thankfulness….gratefulness….blessings in the midst of the frantic and hectic holiday season. 

So thankful for: 

*family *a loving husband that I genuinely enjoy hanging with *my young adult children–they are good kids *my grandchildren–there is nothing better than being a grandparent *a warm house that God blessed us with 9 years ago *Warm blankets *furry friends *a full refrigerator *hot drinks *colorful socks *a comfy bed *yummy dairy-free ice cream (it doesn’t matter how cold it is, ice cream always) *friends, old and new *plans with my peeps *Christmas shopping *my mom, who is my biggest encourager and without whom I would not be the woman I am today *my sister whose funny texts keep me laughing *my master’s degree *my students that make me smile, and their families that make me feel like part of the family *

My cup runneth over…

Storming The Gates Of Hell

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“I am sending you out like sheep surrounded by wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” Matthew 10:16 NET Bible

The enemy of our souls is real. The Father of Lies has wanted to deceive and disturb, confuse and kill since those poisonous words were first uttered in the Garden.

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There is a supernatural battle going on all around us. We often cannot see it with our eyes, but instead feel it with our spirit. It is just as real as you and I. Don’t be fooled and lulled into a sense of apathy.

11Put on the full armor of God, so that you can make your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,but against the rulers,against the authorities,against the powers of this world’s darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore take up the full armor of God so that when the day of evil comes, you will be able to stand your ground…. Ephesians 6:11-13 

Are you ready for spiritual warfare? Satan comes to kill and destroy. Do you have people in your life that you are willing to storm the gates of Hell, for?

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*A child that turned his back on you and your beliefs?

*A marriage that is on the rocks? Trust destroyed?

*A loved one who is in the clutches of alcohol or drug abuse?

*Someone who feels suicide is the only way out of a situation?

*You or someone you know who is eaten up with guilt or self-hatred over a secret sin?

*Guilt and pain from abortion? Constant reminders of the child that was never born?

*Self-injury?

*Abuse?

*Failures

*Health Issues? Pain?

*Lives torn apart through a divorce?

*Anger….hatred…..words that cut like a knife?

We are all dealing with things, or know someone who is. Prayer is powerful. It is not “the last resort”, as some would believe, but is instead direct communication with God Himself.

Things change when people pray. Your words uttered in private are heard. They are not forgotten, nor disregarded.

Suit up. Get ready for battle.

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Where God Will Take Him

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He had already been through so much before I even met him. This dark-haired teenager (who was already sporting a beard)  who loved teasing and joking around was to be my new student. This young man had heart surgery just hours after his entrance into this world. He had neurological, skeletal, cardiac and breathing issues. The doctors told his parents their son might never run and might only walk with an odd gait. They said he might talk in a way only those close to him would be able to understand. Over the three years I worked with him, he was in the hospital, had to have respiratory therapy, seen heart doctors, and struggled with academics.

It would be so easy for him to give up. He could have become angry at his lot in life… defiant due to his disabilities. But, that is not my friend, Keith’s, story. He is choosing how his life is going to play out. At twenty-six years old, he is an overcomer. He is not defeated, he is delivered. He has not given up, he has grabbed hold. He does not seek pity, he only wants to push himself.

Keith does not know a stranger. His social life is more exciting then most, and if you want to see him you need to make sure you get on his calendar. He is one busy young man! Keith is not afraid to ask people if they “know Jesus”. His heart might not be typical for one his age, but it is big. His heart is big because he loves people. His sweet innocent spirit is refreshing in what can sometimes be viewed, by most, to be a cynical and difficult world.

A couple of years ago, Keith got involved in adaptive climbing. He has conquered competitive climbing, winning in national competitions, and is now on his way to represent the USA in the World Paraclimbing Championship in Innsbruck, Austria in about a week and a half. I am praying for Keith as he travels from Ohio, USA, half way around the world to compete. I am proud of him.

God often times will expand our horizons beyond what we seek. A couple of years ago, Keith had no idea where God would take him. The same goes for each of us. No matter where you might find yourself right now, even if you are in a seemingly impossible spot, God can make a way when there seems to be no way. All things are possible with God.

This is one of my favorite verses, and a wonderful reminder for us all.

For nothing will be impossible with God.” Luke 1:37 ESV

 

Whitewater And Time

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I don’t know if it is the fact that I am older, (not ancient mind you, but wiser…that is my story and I am sticking to it) but time seems to be roaring through the weeks much like a raft on whitewater rapids. I’ve been white water rafting before and ended up flying off the raft when we hit exceptionally rough water. I was completely disoriented as the water went over my head, and the roar of the water filled my ears. Thankfully, I was able to right myself and get back in the raft. I was soaking wet but safe. So, yes. That is how I feel about time right now. Time is fast. So fast. No slowing down. No turning back. Once this day is gone, it’s gone.

Even though that is true, I want to remember the days. I want to cherish the moments, and that is difficult to do when one feels the spray hit her face and feels herself being pulled under into the churning basin of time. Why do I always feel like I have to rush when my heart’s desire is to just slow down?!

Stay awake. Stay afloat. Keep my head above the water. Enjoy the minutes.

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A reminder to open my eyes and really see what each day brings. Let’s face it, some days are going to be better than others. I’ll admit there are days when I am glad it is time for bed because I am exhausted and just want the day to be done. But, most of the time I don’t want to check the minutes and hours. I want to hold them a little longer. Laugh harder. Smile more. Cry if I need too. I want to hold hands and hold hearts. I want to admire the sunset, pet the dogs and cats, write the email. I want to smell dinner cooking, look out the window, get tan and be barefoot. I want a little more time. I can’t change the clock, but I can change my attitude so that those moments seem longer and fuller.

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