Starting a 50/50 Journal *Guest Blog*

                                                   Kathy Carlton Willis Communications      
Starting a 50/50 Journal
By Kathi Lipp
I am a serial journaler. In my years walking on this planet, I have left an impressive number of three page-filled journals in the wake of my path. I am a sucker for a cute journal—something romantic about a private place to keep my thoughts and dreams. Each time I’m at a bookstore I can’t help but peruse the journal section, dreaming about the beautiful things I’d write in that gorgeous black leather bound book—or maybe the bright orange and green floral journal with the matching pen. Oh—the possibilities.
That is how it went on the day that I met my new journal. With its dark red cover and Irish proverb on the front, it not only matched my mood, it matched my hair color and heritage at the same time. Love at first sight.
After purchasing the journal and a hazelnut latte, I curled up in one of the bookstore chairs to … what I didn’t know.
I didn’t want this to just be another started and abandoned journal. I wanted this journal to be different. I spent almost half an hour staring at a blank page.
If I knew I was going to live another 50 years, what would I want those fifty years to look like—what would I like to say I had done with that time?
So, I started to write everything down. I figured that if I was healthy and stayed out of the way of people talking on cell phones while driving, it was conceivable that I could have another fifty years on this planet. I wrote down fifty things I wanted to accomplish in the next fifty years.
Somehow, this new journal seemed different than the ones I’d started before. This was not a daily recitation of deep thoughts that I had while walking on the beach. This felt big, important, and all for me.
I felt silly writing some of those goals down—getting my nails done once a week—that seemed less like a goal and more like self-indulgence. “Take a gourmet cooking class” seemed a little frivolous as well. But one of the things I promised myself was that I was going to be very free in what I wrote down—I would not censor myself because it seemed silly or trivial. I trusted that these goals were between me and God, and asked Him to bless me in the goals that were within His will, and to take away the desire for the ones that may not be from Him.
It has been fascinating to see God working in my 50/50 journal. About once a month, I update any progress made towards the goal. It can be as simple as buying a book on cross-country travel; I make a note of it on the page that has “Travel around the United States for a month without a schedule” as the goal. Any progress is noted and celebrated.
In my 50/50 journal, every small step is recorded and celebrated—my own personal record of how deeply interested God is in delighting me by first putting desires in my heart, and then blessing me by giving me the desires of my heart.
We all have these nebulous goals in our lives that we want to accomplish, someday. If you have never taken the time to commit them to paper, do it today. There is power in writing your goals down. They become concrete and tangible. The goals are easier to break down into smaller steps—giving you a real chance at seeing those dreams become a reality.

Kathi Lipp is a busy conference and retreat speaker, currently speaking each year to thousands of women throughout the United States. She is the author of The Husband Project and The Marriage Project, serves as food writer for Nickelodeon, and has had articles published in several magazines, including Today’s Christian Woman and Discipleship Journal. Kathi and her husband, Roger, live in California and are the parents of four teenagers and young adults. See: www.kathilipp.com

The Joys of Spring

There are so many things I love about spring! Especially in the South it’s my favorite season. From baby cows, to the beautiful flowers, to finally feeling *warm* once again–it’s full of wonderful things! Last week for storytime here they had a story about cows, then all the kids got to do a craft, and then they got to go pet and bottle feed 3 day old baby calves! They also had little baby goats and chicks to pet and hold as well. After that came the Easter Egg hunt, Amber did great and was able to fill up her entire basket! She declared to me when we were driving back to my in-laws house that it was “the best day in the entire universe” Apparently she loves spring in Texas as well!

 Of course, it brings Mother’s Day as well which means gifts for mom (something I always love now that I am a mommy of two!) Lately the mail has been pouring in a slew of graduation invitations as well, this year my younger brother, sister, and future sis-in-law are all graduating and I will get to attend all their ceremonies so I am so excited to see them all in just a little while! Something that would have really come in handy for me this spring is moving announcements, with our cross-country adventure my address will be changing multiple times in the next few months!

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My Grandpa

The entire time I was growing up I was extremely blessed to live just a few minutes away from my Grandma and Grandpa Romero. Every week we’d go over to visit. His house was the only place in my entire life that I would just walk into without knocking-I considered it a second home. I often spent the night over at their house when I was little. Every Thanksgiving, every Christmas Eve, and every Christmas was spent over at their house–filled with crazy, insane noisyness, laughter, huge feasts, and general joy.

Of all my wonderful memories of my Grandpa the ones that stand out the most and are most precious are those of when we’d go up to Hunting camp every year. It was the one time of year where we got him all to ourselves. It was just him, my family, and sometimes my cousin Chris. I remember when I’d get to sleep over in his trailer I’d fall asleep to him praying to the light of a candle. I always thought he prayed for a *really* long time as a little kid…now I know how special it is that he did. His salvation testimony was one of the most amazing ones I’ve ever heard. An alcoholic he was saved and healed when I was about a year old. God miraculously transformed his life and I only remember him as the wonderful, fun, funny Christian man I knew him to be all my life. What a blessing and miracle that that is how he will be remembered by everyone. Although it breaks my heart to lose him now I am thankful for every single year he was a part of my life, and so thankful that he got to spend a little time getting to know Amber, though I cry and cry when I think of the fact he never met Tyler.

 He had so many fun stories, was so easy and fun to talk to, and always made me laugh–even if it was just his constant bickering and bantering with my Grandma. He loved to get a rise out of her. He made delicious jerky and used to give candy out to all the kids as they got out of Jr. church when I was itty bitty. He would always sit around in a wife beater and suspenders. Friends and boyfriends knew they were finally a part of the family when Grandpa didn’t feel the need to “get dressed” and “put a shirt on” when he found out they were coming to visit.

I’ve never liked my big “Romero” nose up until this point–it’s not exactly a feminine feature to have. Now I’m proud of it though…I got it from my Grandpa, who gave it to my Dad, who gave it to me. It’s a little piece of him that I will always have with me. I am 1/8 Spanish and 1/8 Irish from him. I’m outgoing like he was and I love telling stories. There are many pieces of him that will always be a part of me.

He is my first grandparent that I knew that I am losing. I’m having an extremely hard time with all of this–especially the fact that I am having to miss the funeral today. What a comfort it is to me, however, to know that I will get to see him again some day. And you can bet I will be giving him a great, big huge hug as soon as I do.

ICU ~ 3 letter that can strike fear into any parents heart

As I mentioned in my last blog post, the past 2 weeks have been the worst in my entire life. On Saturday, April 9th hubby flew back in from his pre-deployment training in Florida. We had a wonderful day together after he flew in. That night after I lay Tyler down for bed he kept waking up every hour or so, which is unusual for him these days. As soon as he’d eat he’d fall right back to sleep, though, so I didn’t think much of it. Between 3-4 he woke up crying. I went and fed him and then lay him back down. After about 10 minutes he was still crying so I went back in and figured out he’d soaked through his jammies. So I changed him, the crib, and lay him down again. 10 minutes later he was still crying. When he wakes up in the middle of the night he never stays up so that was really weird. By that point, I was pretty much wide awake so I went and got him and I noticed that he sounded pretty stuffy and was starting to cough a little. He’d just gotten over a nasty cold that lasted a couple of weeks so I figure he was either getting a new one, or his old one was coming back a little.

So I did what any seasoned parent would do–I broke out the humidifier and sat there and held/rocked/sang to him for a little bit then tried laying him down again. No good. He just got more agitated so around 6 a.m. I went and hopped in the shower and put him in his exasaucer and cranked up the hot water until the whole bathroom was steamy like a sauna. This made him happy but when we got out of the bathroom after about 45 minutes he started screaming again. Now he was acting like he was really stuffy breathing weird through his nose and coughing. I figured all the crying he was doing wasn’t helping. He’d calm down for a bit, then start screaming again, in a vicious cycle. He’s always been a very fussy/colicky baby. I figure the poor kid was super angry about being sick and not having slept all night.

Around 10 a.m. he finally crashed out, while sitting straight up in his high chair. I just wheeled it into our bedroom and shut the door so that he could get some rest, peeking in on him occasionally. He slept for about 3 hours and when he woke up he was acting sick but nothing out of the ordinary.

Shortly after this in the afternoon I noticed he was getting really congested and starting to wheeze slightly. I told Bob that Tyler’s breathing was bugging me…I had one of those Mommy intuition gut feelings. After watching/listening to him for a little bit Bob told me he just sounded congested and he was just sick with a cold. So I pushed the nagging feeling away and got Tyler down for his second nap–this time in his bouncy chair since if I tried to lay him flat in his crib he’d freak out.

When I checked on him during that nap I noticed that even when he was asleep he was breathing really fast and hard and shallow, not the deep, slow breaths you should be taking when asleep. That’s when I started to get worried and I decided to call the nurses hotline–just to be safe. When the pediatrician called back she asked if he was using his stomach muscles to breath (pulling in just below his ribs) and/or if his nostrils were flaring. By this point, he was doing both and he was wheezing pretty badly. She said that we should definitely take him to the ER, just to be safe. So I left Bob with Amber around 6:45 p.m. and took off to the Beverly Hospital. I figured that he might have a moderate case of bronchitis and texted my mom and mom-in-law to let them know in the few minutes we were waiting to be brought into the back. Because the Beverly ER is so great they got us back to the observation room right away. We were only in there for a few minutes and they took us back into the ER and had me sit on a bed holding Tyler on my lap.

Then all of a sudden:

*BAM*

I was surrounded by about 5 Doctors and nurses all rushing around Tyler, all doing things to him at once.

It was such a huge sudden change and shock I sat there stunned thinking, “Whoa, whoa–*what* is going on??!!”

On one side they were giving him an IV and drawing blood, on the other they were telling me all these different kinds of medications and shots they were giving him to open his airways. It dawned on me that this was obviously much more serious than I had thought, I had no time to process any of it, however, as they were so busy doing this to him it was all I could do to help hold him still, sing, talk, and rock him to try and make it all easier for him.

Then I started hearing things like “clinical pneumonia, steroids, epinephrine shot”

My head was spinning.

After a little bit, one of the nurses came over and told me, “I don’t know if you heard this but the Dr. wants him to be admitted to Children’s in Boston, so we’re going to have them come fly you there.” Totally in shock by this point I had no idea what to think. They kept using words like “precaution” and “just to be safe”. In the meantime they told me I had to hold a mask with humid medicine coming out on Tyler’s face. The Dr. firmly said that it didn’t matter if he didn’t like it or cried–I *had* to make sure it stayed on, so I did.

In what could have been a very short, or very long time the crew from the life flight came in and started briefing me on what was going to happen. They told me that they were going to be admitting Tyler to the ICU and ran me over the helicopter procedures. I definitely never imagined my little guys first flight was going to be a life flight over Boston! I called Bob and let him know what was going on, and then texted and told my Mom and mom-in-law. I had been so pre-occupied with Tyler until that point I hadn’t been able to update anyone so of course that information came as quite a shock to everyone.

If it hadn’t been for the circumstances and shock I was in the flight over would have been really cool. We flew right over our apartment complex and right before we touched down on the hospital roof we flew over Fenway and the Red Sox were playing so I got to see that from the air, as well as all of Boston. Once we got inside we went through a maze of hallways and lights when I tried to talk/sing  to Tyler while we walked along as all this time he was on a stretcher in a brace so he couldn’t roll around. I was starting to feel pretty sick myself but kept on singing because it was one of the few things that calmed him down. We were put in an admitting room there where they monitored him and got up to speed from the other hospital. He was absolutely exhausted by this point and wouldn’t stop crying. They told me I needed to keep the mask on him continuously at this point so I sat there holding a writhing, screaming baby while keeping the mask clamped on his nose and mouth. They also told me from that point on I was not allowed to feed him anything until he got better.

The one part of the entire thing that scared me to my core was when the nurse was giving me the run down of everything right before he was admitted to the ICU. After she finished she said, “So do you have any questions?” I said, “So we have to go to the ICU…but he is going to get better, right?” She just paused and then said, “Well I can’t make any promises but we see babies just as sick as he is that get better, but like I said I can’t make any promises” After hearing “precaution, just being safe, only because there’s not a good middle ground” all night long terminology like this from a Dr. scared me to death! I tried to wrap my brain around what she was saying but honestly just couldn’t. My mind right then went, “NO. He *is* going to get better because I simply would not be able to function, ever again, if he did not. I will not even think about the fact because he will get better. God won’t let anything happen to him.” So from that point on I didn’t even think about it and just focused on what I could do to help Tyler feel better.

We were admitted to the ICU where he was hooked up to a million different machines. he was in a crib but it was the size of a normal hospital bed, it just had bars around it. So they let me climb up on it next to him and hold him through the night. Since he had to have the mask on all night and wouldn’t leave it on himself I sat there all night holding it to his face and moving it around when he moved his head. I probably only slept about a hour or two, dozing on and off holding it, that entire night. The next day was a long, slow torturous blur of the same. Bob was able to come bring me some essentials while a friend babysat Amber. Very thankfully we had hundreds of people praying by that point and I could see as their prayers were answered. By the second day my voice was completely gone and I was sick with the same thing Tyler had. I have no idea how I had the strength to get through it all, but I managed to without falling totally apart. By that evening Tyler had drastically improved. They decided that he had bronciolitis due to RSV or some similar virus. By Tuesday morning he was so much better that he was sitting up in bed, laughing, trying to roll around, and pulling/kicking all of his cords off. He also started eating well again and that afternoon they let us go home.

It was one of the worst things I’ve ever experienced in my entire life, but I am so very thankful that everything turned out the way it did. I’m also so very, *very* thankful for the outpouring of love and prayers everyone we know, and many people we don’t, showed us during it. So thank you!! I’m so happy to say that he is just now finally “all better”. I’m still fighting it but am nearly better as well. Bob and Amber both ended up getting it as well but it was much milder in both of them, so that was a praise as well.

Swallowed up in Victory

For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, inasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 15: 53-58

 The past 2 weeks have been very, very hard on me, but I will blog more about that later. Since today is Easter I wanted to focus on the victory that we have through our Lord Jesus Christ. Easter and the story of the empty tomb has always, of course, been important to me as a Christian. This past week, however, I lost my Grandpa Romero when he went to his eternal home in Heaven. Being down here in Texas, away from the rest of my family that was his family, and being unable to go up for his funeral this coming week is taking a heavy toll on my heart. There are always things to be thankful for, however. We all have to die and I can’t think of a more beautiful time to do it than around Easter, in springtime. Through my grief I have constant reminders that although this is painful, it is not the end. Christ has made it so that death is completely swallowed up in victory! Even though I will never see my Grandpa again in this life, I will see him again someday. As horrible and awful as separation through death is, it will not be permanent. In Christs empty tomb all our hope for life and the future can be found. Because of this we can be “steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord”. So this Easter, like never before, the promises that this day hold resonate on a whole new level for me. How grateful I am that God saw fit for His only son to die, so that we could eternally live!

Beside Still Water ~ Tricia Goyer *Review & Giveaway*

Beside Still Waters: A Big Sky Novel
I’ve always been intrigued by novels about the Amish. Their simple lifestyle and beliefs have always intrigued me. I really enjoyed reading Beside Still Waters. One of the things I really loved about it was how it explored how Christian’s “in the world” might appear through the eyes of the Amish. The storyline was really intriguing and unique as were the characters. You really feel like you get to know Marianna and can feel her and the other characters inner struggles. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and the ending left me wanting more, I definitely want to read the rest of the books in the series when they’re released! I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys Christian  fiction, especially if you like Amish novels and are looking for a unqiue twist on them.
If you’d like to read the book you can purchase Beside Still Waters Here
Tricia is giving away 10 copies of the book and some super cute antique Amish salt & pepper shakers. You can find the giveaway on Tricia Goyer’s Blog Here

To see what the rest of the blogging world thinks be sure to check out the rest of the tour here

Government Shutdown 2011 ~ A Coastie Wife’s View

So…yeah. This has been an intense, crazy, bad couple of weeks. I could go off about this whole Government shut down thing, and oh boy would I love to! As a military spouse I do have to be conscientious on how much I mouth off in the big wide world of the web though so I will just give a little bit of my mind and then go on to provide some resources.

All I can say right now is that Amber wakes up crying in the middle of the night and when I ask what’s wrong she sobs to me how much she misses her Daddy. I can just say how utterly sweet and yet heartbreaking it is to see her run to the window to send him a hug and kiss goodnight and tell him about her day through the glass while she tries to look far away to where he is. I can only say that he will be missing Tyler’s first steps, first words, first birthday. I can only say that I am willing to make these sacrifices as I am a proud Coastie wife and as he proudly serves our country.

I will also say that I am outraged that these sacrifices might be asked to be done with no pay. We have savings, yes, but are using them in order to get me down to family so that me and the kids have an adequate support system during my husband’s deployment. We have no credit card debt, yes, and $16,000 available for use should worst come to very worst. But, really??? Should I be required to go into debt and put our electricity bill on a credit card because the government cannot reach some agreement? Should I start worrying about how I’m going to buy diapers for my baby? My small work from home salary won’t cover even 2 of our monthly bills. One thing I have always been so thankful for is that a military salary, though not large for us as hubby is in the lower paygrades, is always dependable. I guess I just learned that’s not the case.

Because the media in general is completely glossing over the fact that as things stand right now the ENTIRE military will not be receiving their check this week here are some good things you can check out!

Operation Stand By My Man ~ originally started as a spouse/girlfriend support page it has gained nearly 20,000 (NO joke–this morning there were only close to 4,000 gals) fans just TODAY! My bestie Lara is the Marine Co-Moderator. Lots of good (and maybe not so good) information flying around on it right now. What a comfort to know that we are all going to band together if and when this happens!

This Video from Army Wife 101 caused her to be interviewed on CNN last night. I have to say that she basically took the words out of my mouth on EVERY point!

and to end on a lighter note….

What Makes Mommy Awesome

Always fun to get a preschooler’s perspective on why they love you! (and I have no idea why she’s obsessed with lions…and it’s only when I’m taking a video..she’s a hoot) Mother’s Day is coming up so be sure to check out the Mother’s Day Cards from Tiny Prints! I know that the older my kids get the more and more I appreciate my own mom, grandma’s and mother-in-law! What better way to tell them so than by sending a heartfelt card?

I’ll be receiving a gift certificate for product for posting this, but as always you get me 100% honest and true! 🙂

The Real Thing ~ Shannon Perry *Review*

Writing and recording a cd that’s both fun and uplifting must be a challenge. Doing so while your husband is in the hospital while undergoing cancer treatment is nearly unthinkable to me. Yet that’s exactly what Shannon Perry did when recording The Real Thing. I love that many of the songs, especially the humorous and oh-so-relate-able “It’s a Bad Hair Day” have almost a country music feel to them. As a big country fan the mix of that plus the uplifting and softer more worship music songs on this cd made it one that I really enjoy listening to. If you enjoy music from any of those categories looking into buying this cd would be a great idea! You can find out more about Shannon and were you can purchase this cd and look into her other products be sure to Visit Shannon’s Website Here!

Thirty Day Photo Challenge ~ Day 30

Day 30 – A picture of someone you miss
One of the hard things about my life is that at any point I am missing a huge chunk of people that I love. Right now is super hard as I’m missing *everyone* but my kiddos. The most hurtful missing is, of course, my hubby. We’ve only been apart for a few weeks and I feel like a chunk of my heart is missing and it throbs with hurt. This deployment is just going to suck. I always wondered when we were dating if long distance relationships got any easier the longer you were together….the truth is they really don’t, it just hurts more! I love this picture–not because of me, I look horrible in it, but we are so cute and young looking–because we were 😀 Hubby especially, in this picture we’re 17 and 18 years old…he looked like such a cute little boy back then and has since matured into a handsome man. I’m a very lucky girl and wouldn’t trade being with him for the world–even if it means that chunk of my heart has to hurt so badly at times!

Hope you all enjoyed this photo challenge much as I did!