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If I live in a house of spotless beauty with everything in its place,
but have not love,
I am a housekeeper, not a homemaker.

If I have time for waxing, polishing, and decorative achievements,
but have not love,
my children learn cleanliness, ­not godliness.

If I scream at my children for every infraction,
and fault them for every mess they make,
but have not love,
my children become people-pleasers, not obedient children.

Love leaves the dust in search of a child’s laugh.
Love smiles at the tiny fingerprints on a newly cleaned window.
Love wipes away the tears before it wipes up the spilled milk.
Love picks up the child before it picks up the toys.

Love accepts the fact that I am the ever-present “mommy,”
the taxi-driver to every childhood event,
the counselor when my children fail or are hurt.

Love crawls with the baby, walks with the toddler, and runs with the child,
then stands aside to let the youth walk into adulthood.

Before I became a mother I took glory in my house of perfection.
Now I glory in God’s perfection of my child.

All the projections I had for my house and my children
have faded away into insignificance,
And what remain are the memories of my kids.

Now there abides in my home scratches on most of the furniture,
dishes with missing place settings,
and bedroom walls full of stickers, posters and markings,
But the greatest of all is the Love
that permeates my relationships with my children.

-Adapted by Jim Fowler

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What does the word gratitude mean?  An online dictionary source defines it as: the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful.

We all just celebrated Thanksgiving. A special time to spend with family and friends. A time to reflect on what you are thankful for in your life. Or at least, hopefully that is what you did. Sometimes we get so caught up in the food and the people that we forget to reflect on the deeper meaning of thanksgiving. For the ones that did reflect, I want to applaud you. You just did one of the most powerful “mind and heart”  exercises you can do. Reflecting and expressing gratitude is powerful.

But, I want to challenge you all to not stop at Thanksgiving. My challenge for you is to find at least one thing every day in which you are grateful for. If it involves someone let them know.

So many times we get caught up in the mundane chores of life that we forget this very basic expression. We get caught up in our fears, our hurts. We get caught up in blame, anger, disappointments, greed. We get caught up in stress. In a nutshell we get caught up in ourselves and how our life, business, or relationships are not treating US fairly. It is good to reflect on one self for personal development purposes. But, to get caught up in negative mind images about ourselves or our situations is detrimental to our personal development and our growth in every area of our lives.

The law of gratitude has the power to even heal your mind and body. Even the bible says for everything give thanks. Or to think on pure, lovely, good things. These all express the idea of reflecting on what we are grateful for. Their are many self help videos and books trying to bring this to light as well. When we start shifting our mental gears on what is wrong in our life to what we are grateful for things seem to fall into place so much better.

There is evidence now that when we think negatively more than we do positively that it affects our brain to the point of developing a black mass in our brain. That extends out and starts producing the diseases in our body. Whether it be low energy and fatigue to anger. Or even as something as severe as Cancer. Our thoughts and feelings are powerful. Even God demonstrates this by telling us that even to have the feeling of hate toward our brother is the same as murder. Or in the psalms where we are warned not to fear lest our fears come true. Some people speculate that 80% of our diseases are self induced by our thoughts and stresses. 

So what and who are you surrounding yourself with? If we feed on negative music, television, friends, family, books, ect. What do you think we will become? Negative. Yet if you flip that around and feed on positive music, television (or no television at all…lol), friends, family, books. What do you think you will become? Most likely more positive. Because we become like things and people we associate with no matter how strong minded or willed you are.

I am not saying you can’t ever have some anger, hurt, or a negative thought at all. You wouldn’t be human otherwise. And for everything their is a season. But, all things in balance bring harmony. And the good can outshine the bad. You just have to look for it. As a side note it is also a good idea to know what is going on in the world. Which oftentimes paints a pretty bleak picture. Just don’t let this be your motivating factor for how you spend your day.

So don’t be a Scrouge this holiday season. Look for things daily to be thankful for and express it. You will be amazed at what it can do for you, your business, and your personal relationships.

You can be sure that I am always reminding myself to practice this simple act as well. Life is just so much more enjoyable when you do. You look forward to a new day and can embrace it with enthusiasm like you never have had before.

So, I dare you to try it! Find one thing to be grateful for everyday. If you find more…more kudo’s to you. You are on your way to success that runs deeper than what you make and what people think of you. Because nothing can replace true joy! Quit blaming your upbringing, your boss, your spouse, your dog or whatever for personal choices you make in life. You have to come to the point where you realize that only you can make a choice in how you react to things. With your emotions, actions, thoughts. No one can make you do anything. The choice is yours! Which choice will you make? The choice you make will either bring you prosperity or create your ruin.

For me, I am strengthened and encouraged more by reading the Bible. And by having a personal relationship with God. This exercise becomes much more easy as I can see more clearly what all He has done for me.

So, what are you grateful for?

 

Warm Wishes,

Larissa

On July 15, 2003 my whole world turned upside down. What followed for the next couple of years was depression off and on, some health challenges, fear, more depression. It was a vicious cycle. Why is this date of significance and why am I writing about it now?

Today, November 25th (not sure why it is saying the 26th at the top, it is a day off)  would mark the 20th birthday of one of the most beloved people in my life. Dusten Ryan Williams. But, July 15, 2003 cut his life short. It was a typical day for Dusten, I imagine. I was to pick him up either that day or the next day as he was going to come stay a week with us (he was living in Texas with his mother, but came back every summer to see his father) and possibly go camping. I had decided I would probably pick him up the next day, which was Wednesday July 16th as I was very tired from a lack of sleep from my baby, Benjamin keeping me up at night. That evening, I think around 6 pm, on our way out the door to go eat, I received the most devastating call of my life. What was so weird about it is that my cousin that I grew up with called to let me know their was an accident and it involved Dusten. She didn’t have to say anymore. I knew he was dead. Although she did and her words blew a hole threw my eardrums and ripped my heart out. You see, all day I kept thinking of Dusten. It was weird, but I did. Something didn’t seem quite right, but I didn’t know what it was. I kept telling myself I needed to call him and tell him I would probably pick him up tomorrow as I was very exhausted, but hadn’t quite got to it yet. It was different the urgency I felt. I wasn’t sure if it was that I was just that excited about seeing him (I normally always was. He was a huge light in my life. I absolutely adored him and his presence) or what. I blew it off as excitement. All time froze that evening.

He was out with some friends getting ready to go swimming. His dad lives in a small town on the outskirts of Salina. He was sitting in the passenger side of the car in the backseat. From what I understand he was goofing off with his head out the window (which sounds like him, he was a very lively person) and it distracted the young driver of the car as he kept looking back at Dusten to tell him to put his head in the window. When the driver looked up he seen a tractor coming out of the drive way, obviously oblivious to the oncoming car with his forks lifted midway up. He basically panicked and slammed his breaks on (going down a dirt road) and they slid into the tractor. They all seen it coming except for my Dusten. So they ducked as the forks went through the window. Dusten never seen it coming and was nearly decapitated and died instantly.

These words still sting. I hate it. I don’t deny it. It sucks. Truly SUCKS! I loved him dearly. I think because of the age difference what I felt for him was almost motherly. It reminds me of what I feel for my kids. I have often asked why him? Why then? Why didn’t I get a chance to say bye? Why on the day I was supposed to pick him up? Why didn’t I just pick him up? Why did he have to be goofing off?  Why didn’t the driver just ingore him? Why was the driver of the tractor driving illegally with the forks in mid air? Why didn’t the land owners have the tree’s cut down when it was recommended to them a long time ago because it created a blind spot? Why, why, why? So many why’s? And really no answers.

Dusten was a beautiful person. He really was. His love for life, people, and animals was unsurpassed. He had the most radiant smile ever. He was BEAUTIFUL. He later suffered from asthma. And I always thought he was going to kill himself because he couldn’t resist cats, which would trigger his asthma. I remember when he came to stay with us one summer while I was still at home and we had a ton of cats (I think about 17…we lived out in the country) he couldn’t stay away from them….like all day long! I kept telling him he was going to induce an asthma attack. But, he couldn’t stay away. Later that night when I went to bed, Dusten was already sound asleep in my bed. I crawled in bed next to him and he was heaving badly. So badly it was shaking the bed. His rib cage would slowly rise high and then collapse. I woke him and and told him he needed to wake up because he couldn’t breathe. He had forgot or deliberately left his inhaler behind (not really sure). His dad lived about 20 min from us and it was in the middle of the night. I felt kind of panicky. Wondering why he had to play with those cats! I went upstairs to wake mom up and was wondering if we should attempt to call mark (his dad, my step dad) or the ambulance. He was heaving badly. And the rattle sounded awful. But, I decided to give him an herb that I had on hand from my then occasional asthma, called Lobelia. He was better within 5-10 min.

This was his beauty.  He didn’t care about himself. He was passionate about other life and he wasn’t going to let anything stand in the way of that.

I never want to forget him.  I still remember his smile, the sound of his voice. The way his unique laugh was. I remember those beautiful eyes. I remember his vibrant energy. I hardly seen him when he was NOT laughing or smiling. I am not saying he was perfect. Nobody is. He had his own shortcomings to. But, he was definitely special. He was the first person to get my 3 month old son to laugh. Genuinely laugh. I was in the kitchen one day when I heard the cutest little LONG laugh occur. I turned around and seen it was Benjamin. Dusten adored babies. And he was holding Benjamin for the first time that December. Dusten had a hat on and a necklace. He was engrossed with Benjamin. He simply was saying “get you, get you, get you” as his face moved in closer to Benjamin’s. Benjamin thought that was a trip! It was a beautiful memory. I wish I could have captured it on film.

I am so glad that I talked with him on the phone before he died as well. I was able to capture his “maturing” voice for the first time. How so much can change in a few months time! I was so stunned by his changing voice, that I didn’t even say I loved him at the end of the conversation like I always did. For some reason I guess I just thought since he was going through puberty maybe he didn’t want me to talk like that to him or something…lol. Especially since distance had seperated us a bit. But, I will forever remember his last words to me. I had just told him bye and that I would call back and let him know when I would pick him up. He said ok. As I was getting ready to let him go, he said “hey” (kind of jokingly), I replied “yes?” He paused and said “I love you.” Those three words coming from him warmed me like nothing else. And now they are mine to treasure.

Although it has been hard dealing with his death and the memory of him, That memory that you don’t want to forget (yet brings you happiness mixed with a lot of pain….bittersweet memories), I can honestly see God’s hand in it. I remember having the instinct in me that I would never see Dusten grow up. I wasn’t sure why. Was it his asthma? Was I going to die? I didn’t know if the feeling was real or made up. But, I had it for awhile. Dusten also came to love God when he was about 11. Although, I don’t think he was actively attending a church or anything upon his death, I remember being told by his grandma that he kept asking his mom if they could go back to church. He loved Sunday school classed. And I have his painting that he did for me in my hand made pottery. I wasn’t done with it. I was pinch potting a tea pitcher. When he came to visit one summer he asked me if he could paint in and on it. I had to think for a min. because I kept thinking that I would love to finish that one day. But, I finally said yes. That is now one of my greatest treasures! He painted an angel and a cross and some other things like hearts and whatnot. Also God gave me a son before Dusten’s death. I definitely wanted a boy as my first. And He gave me Ben at a time when I probably needed him most. Not really for a replacement, but I was able to turn and nurture him now. I think it would have been even harder to deal with without my son.

The beauty of it all is that I now know that he is at home with God and probably as happy as can be. That is what I take comfort in. And knowing that one day, I will reunite and meet up with him again. And I am greatly looking forward to that! The mercy and grace in it all on my part is that when I was feeling the most down about not saying bye, God graciously gave me closure through a dream. And then I had a series of dreams about him. Since their was a series on the same matter, I personally feel it was from God, meant to comfort. 

As I was a fairly silent griever, not really allowing others to tap into what I was feeling (save a few times when breaking down in front of David after the major breakdown of the news of his death) I feel this is what led me to some health problems. I am sure that combined with a few other things. But, I truly feel that stress is a big factor in health. But, I can say that through God’s help I have been healed and seen His love more clearly. And come to experience what He can do for me. What He will also do for you. If we but let Him. 

Anyhow, I will be posting some of Dusten’s pictures on my myspace sight as well. He was and always will be a big part of my life. He brought the sunshine wherever he went.

Till we meet again.

 

Larissa

Well, the title says it all. I had a great day! (Friday, 21st. I am typing this late!) I went to an all day Reading Readiness Workshop put on by the Fundamental Learning Center in Wichita.

Despite the bigger city driving in rush hour, not getting good sleep (my son slept with me last night and he kept bumping into me, digging his elbow into my back, getting up and going to the bathroom, and waking me up!), and feeling sad initially for leaving my kids all day (okay, I am a baby. But, I am just not used to leaving them all day and going by myself. Left so early I didn’t even get to get them breakfast or say bye. So I left a morning letter for them instead.  I mean if it was a date with my husband I would be like, bring it on BABY! lol. But it was just me, myself and I and it just didn’t seem appealing).

At first I wasn’t sure if it was going to work out to go as my mom is still pretty sick and wasn’t able to take the kids. David is working overtime tonight so he needed to sleep this afternoon and would need to leave before I got home. But, I finally found a babysitter. (only a couple of people I trust with my kids which doesn’t always make for great availability). But, boy I am glad it did work out! It was a good use of $125. I got a full day of training on working with dyslexics to teach reading skills. As well as a complete curriculum. A lot of hands on learning as well. Visuals, research to back it up. It was just great. It was great to hear stories from other teachers and mothers that I could relate to. I am really looking forward to implementing this reading program with Benjamin. It is multi-sensory based. So they combine almost all the senses (save smell) to teach them reading and writing skills. Very creative. They combine songs, games, finger work, and traditional work. I think he is going to love it! And the great thing is they have been able to verify that after time using their program that the left side of the brain will light up as it is receiving and using language information. Whereas previously it wouldn’t light up in dyslexics.

The statistics are that if you use their methods everyday for 15 min. you can retrain a younger child’s brain in phonological awareness in 6 weeks. But if you wait until they are 10 or older to try to work through their problems it would take 2 hours a day over the course of 9 months to retrain the brain and show that area lighting up. So it really is crucial for dyslexics and other learning challenged kids to receive proper retraining while they are younger. It will be so much easier for them. It will greatly boost their self esteem especially if they are in a full classroom setting where they are comparing themselves with other kids.

For anyone in the Kansas or surrounding states area (as they do have people from some surrounding states travel for this program) who would be interested I would HIGHLY recommend the Reading Readiness Program through the Fundamental Learning Center in Wichita. Their website and course descriptions can be found at: www.funlearn.org It would even be an awesome program to implement with your “normal” kids.

I have seen, heard, or reviewed many different phonics programs out their and this by far is the best I have seen. They go beyond just standard phonics. And the multi-sensory approach makes it a blast!

I am really looking forward to going through their extensive two week course. I just loved it!

Larissa