I wanted kids pretty much for forever. I wasn't crazy about other people's children, but I always wanted a houseful of my own. So when I lost my first baby, I was completely and totally devastated. I grieved for the little one I would never hold in my arms.
I will never forget where I was the moment I knew my pain would pass. I was in my truck, driving down Gravois Road in St. Louis when I felt the words, "It's going to be okay. You're going to have a son." I wasn't exactly living my life for God right then - it was all about me. If ever there was a time I deserved a blessing, that wasn't it. But He saw my tears and chose to wipe them away anyway.
Later that week, I found out I was, in fact, pregnant again. The thought hadn't even crossed my mind beforehand. And 15 years ago today, I had the son I'd wanted for so long.
He's the most amazing son I could have asked for and I've treasured each and every moment he's been in my life. The man he's becoming brings me such joy, even though it's tinged by the sorrow of knowing I'll blink and he'll be gone - out exploring this great big wide world. I feel honored to be a part of his life, to be the one God chose to raise him.
So happy birthday to Dylan, the first of the three amazing blessings I call my sons.
The weather in the Missouri Ozarks this week is idyllic. Yesterday was my version of heaven on earth as I sat in the shade of my mimosa tree, surrounded by my animals as I read. Thinking about it now brings a happy sigh to my lips. But hiding in the gentle breeze is a nip of warning: Winter's coming.
According to the forecasters, this week will be the kind of week I live for, with evenings in the 50s and highs each day in the 70s. I am going to glory in it all week long. And I'm going to work like a mad woman to get my little homestead ready for winter, as ready as I can be.
So if I'm not on social media much or I don't respond to an email, know that I've turned my attention to farming for the week - and I'm loving every minute of it.
I always assumed I’d grow old gracefully. I’m not sure why, I just figured I’d embrace aging like I did the rest of life - openly and without reserve. And usually, I’d like to think I do. Usually.
I mean, I’m not the mom who hangs out with my teenage child's friends in attempt to recapture my own glory days. I don’t dress like I’m still on the prowl (although it wouldn’t kill me to dress like a girl more often than I do). I get that my role in life has shifted with the passing of time, and in many ways I welcome it.
But every now and then, something makes me look back down the road and wonder how I got so far along the path so fast.
My last birthday was one of those moments. The number didn’t bother me, it was people’s reactions to the number. It seemed like everyone said, “Wow, you don’t look that old.” On the surface, it seems like a compliment. But there was a common thread in every single person’s inflection that changed the sentence and made me start to wonder. It was this resounding emphasis on the word, “that.” As in, “Wow, you don’t look that old.” I can be a little slow, but about the third or fourth person, it struck me: Maybe I am getting old.
And then there was the selfie I took to show the baby chicken that had taken up roost on my shoulder. I couldn’t bring myself to share it because the woman in the picture had an old neck. Maybe I do look that old after all. But it’s okay. It’s what necks do. They age, just like the rest of a body.
But tonight, watching Netflix with my teenage son, something in me wanted to dig my heels into the ground and cry that enough is enough. Maybe it was the combination of the movie, the dose of Christian Slater that came with it (reminding me of fanciful teenage daydreams), and then having a serious conversation about colleges with the aforementioned son.
It hit me that it’s his time to stand before a limitless world, gazing upon opportunities and wondering which one will lead to his story. My own story is already well in motion and dictated by the choices I made - or didn’t make - along the way.
Maybe the trick to growing old gracefully is knowing you lived life for all it’s worth, that whatever your story, you were an active participant. If I have any regrets, it’s that I spent too many years afraid, too many years drifting while life happened to and around me. But at least I woke up before it was over. I took a deep breath and dove into my dreams before they slipped completely out of my grasp. (Although, alas, it seems Christian and I weren’t meant to be…)
I’ve always thought there was a certain irony to my middle name - Ann. It means full of grace. I could cause myself serious harm walking down the street. Graceful is not an adjective that typically describes me. But maybe, just maybe, I’ll get to live up to my name in this.
It's Friday again - another week has gone by in the blink of an eye, which means it's time for me to introduce you to someone who's using their talents to make the world a better place. Today, it's women's fiction author E.J. Hanagan. I've met EJ in person and I have to say, she truly is one of those people who brings sunshine to the world by simply existing. She also uses her new book, Saving Jason, to raise awareness for PTSD. I figured the combination of the two made her a great fit for the Leave Your Mark series. I hope you find her as enchanting as I do. Have an amazing weekend, all! ~Heather
When I got asked the question, "What do you do to better the world?" I instantly thought about a million different things that I would love to say. For example, I hold doors open for everyone, I smile at passersby, I teach my daughter that it is nice to share, I donate to charity. But, the truth is, I think that the best thing that we can do to better the world is to be our best selves.
Think about how happy you are when you are in your glory doing what you love.
Think back to a time where you have seen someone in this element and how it has made you feel. I know that personally, I really love animals and when I’m around them, I’m just simply content. I feel like if the whole world could do what they love and what they are good at, then that is one step to a happier place.
I love to create stories and lead a reader to open their mind up to a world of possibilities. I love getting lost in words and characters and plot and I love even more to know that my readers were able to escape and take something away with them. Because I love this and I’ve been given the magnificent opportunity to write, I can pass my good energy on to others. I’m terrible at math and I couldn’t tell you how to get to the corner store from my house, but, I can write and I feel like that is how I can contribute to the world.
For years I have been disturbingly intrigued by how a person can be thrown into combat and come out and face the life that they knew before. How for years, veterans can hold these treacherous feelings and experiences inside them and never ask for anything in return. It is my hope, that through writing and doing what I love, I will be able to make the world a better place and help bring awareness to veterans with PTSD.
I don’t just want to tell a good story - I want to be a part of a good story, too.
Somehow another week has melted away without me posting any of the things I mean to. So instead of getting the posts one topic at a time, you're gonna get 'em all at once. But the randomness of the title is how my brain usually works, anyway, so really you're just getting a scary glimpse into my husband's world. (He's usually the recipient of the aforementioned randomness.)
Random observation: My youngest son was just filling me in on his dream from last night. In it, he fought valiantly with a dragon, who wound up taking his heart. I responded with, "Oh my," in a dismayed tone. "What?" he asked, peering over at my computer to see what had upset me. "It took your heart," I explained. "But Mom, I was a hero." His tone said that should have been a given. It struck me in that moment how much little boys have a need to be a hero. Given my husband's frustration level when things are going wrong and he can't fix it, I don't think they outgrow that need.
Once-in-a-lifetime experience: Well, I hope it was a one-off, anyway. Yesterday, as my oldest son and I were driving home from the store, we were admiring a rather beautiful, huge cloud that looked like a mountain range hovering just above the ground. It stretched on for at least a mile, running east and west. The closer we got, the more we realized it really was right off the ground. Then we were under it, and everything was eerily black. You could feel the energy building. I debated pulling over in our church parking lot, but decided to forge on home since we were so close.
I pointed straight ahead of us. "Look, there's a tail hook. Those can form tornadoes."
"Where?" Dylan asked.
"Right there." I pointed again. "Oh wait, there's another one to the left of it. Now they're circling each other. Um... I think a tornado is forming."
The two hook-shaped clouds seemed to dance as one followed the other. The air around us was crackling with energy and power; it was like nothing I'd ever felt before. Dylan said he could see dry lightning in the swirling cloud. I was too busy driving and praying to notice. I could see the two clouds become one funnel, sucking up all of the smaller clouds as they did. Then that entire section of cloud began to rotate, or maybe it had been all along and I was only then able to see it.
By the time I realized what it was, it was too late to turn back to church. There was a wall of forest on either side of me. I really had no choice but to drive on and pray, really hard, that the funnel wouldn't drop down straight on us. It all happened so quickly - it felt like forever, but in reality, it was less than a minute from the time I pointed out the cloud until we were on our road, my son declaring that the coolest thing ever and asking me to turn around with me responding that I still wasn't positive I wouldn't wet myself, there was no way I was turning that car around.
I have a feeling that when I get to heaven, my guardian angels are going to have a few choice words for me. I keep them on their toes.
Better than Prozac: It's been a little over a month since we invested in our foundation does for our rabbitry. This came after months of research and planning. I'm so thrilled with the rabbit barn we built and with the does we selected. (My oldest told me the barn actually looks intentional. I guess that's a compliment of sorts.) In that month, we've been blessed with two litters of rabbits and we've inherited some Holland Lops that my youngest convinced me to let him keep. (So a second rabbit barn was quickly built to accommodate those.) Whenever I'm stressed and feel like my head is going to explode, I sit in my rabbit barn. It's hard to worry about stuff when you have baby bunnies using you as a jungle gym.
A tip, from me to you: Zip ties are good for so much more than handcuffs. (A fact my oldest loves to point out while checking out at the store. And he's seen the handcuffs on TV, not from any weirdness happening around our farm...) Anywho, I feel compelled to share the awesomeness of the zip tie with the world. Right now, I have zip ties holding together everything from a wrought iron swing seat that had separated to a rabbit tractor. When we added woven wire fencing to the barb wire that was already up on our property (because goats mock barbed wire fences and alpacas get stuck in them), we used zip ties to affix the fences to the posts. It worked wonders and went up faster than any fence we'd ever done. Seriously, I love zip ties and having a pack or two on hand is a must for our farm. There. My civic duty is done for the day.
And here's some cuteness to end with...
Rolling hills that had been vibrant green just weeks ago were now muted in tone, as if they were taking a deep breath before bursting into the song of fall.