Friday, May 29, 2009

Gotta Love The Teen Years!

You know, to me, there is no more torturous time in life than middle school and high school. You are trying to figure out who you are, while at the same time being surrounded by others that are doing the same thing. So many people from so many different faiths, families and economic conditions all thrown together and friends, grow up and be happy.

Whatever! It was during these years that I think mom's influence really marked me. She would tell me over and over again that popularity usually meant insecurity. I would shrug my shoulders and roll my eyes, but as life pressed on I realized what she meant. If everyone thinks you are great, and everyone is from different places in life, then you must be a different person with everyone.

Jesus on the other hand was true to what he knew. Some loved him, some dismissed him, some ignored him and others hated him. However, in every circumstance he was the same.

It's funny. The time we spent in the garage talking for hours (Dad wouldn't let her smoke in the house so we would sit in the garage and have our mother-daughter chats), has molded the very fiber of who I am and even how I am trying to grieve. It was through her wisdom I started deciding to care less about what others thought of me and more and more about what God thought of me.

In fact, I remember in High School when boys wouldn't want to date me, I would think, "Hmmm, they don't know what they're missing." It may sound arrogant? Maybe, but actually more like a great sense of knowing who I was and where I was going and how I could love. That's not to say I didn't do my fair share of crushing and crying like the typical teenager.

That confidence stuck with me though and grew from all of those talks with mom. I listened to her talk of how some liked her and some didn't but that she just did the best each day she knew how to do and let God take care of the rest.

My mom was not perfect....LOL...not at all. In my eyes she was pretty darn close, but others may have seen her flaws more vividly. What I know for sure is that she was the same to each and every person she came into contact with on this earth. That security gave me a confidence to live a happy life of my choosing. For that, I am forever grateful. Love you mom.

Monday, May 25, 2009

True Beauty

My mom could spot true beauty from a mile away. Sometimes it seemed she had xray vision into the hearts of others. She would often say, "Isn't she gorgeous," or "Isn't he handsome?" And I would think, "NO." Then she would follow her comment with an act of kindness that she had seen that person commit, or she would talk of their hardships in life and that they always wore a smile anyway.

Mom's eyes were always on the lookout for true beauty.In fact, just this past weekend I was reminded of a saying she would use in reference to L'erin. "She is so beautiful, and it just happens that she looks that way on the outside as well."

Mom was beautiful. She exuded beauty. Her confidence mixed with humbleness truly is a rarity in this day and age. She could laugh at herself, laugh at others and yet love in a bigger, better way than most. So many people said that mom became prettier as she aged. Most of those people were commenting on her outward appearance. However, the older she became the more she looked for the beauty in others. That is what I believe enhanced her beauty each and every day.

I only hope to be half of the woman my mother was. It is so hard now that she is gone to want to be better. It is hard to want to be more. It is so hard to just live. All I ache for is for her to say "I love you" one more time, or for her to say "I'm proud of you" one more time. She was more than my mother, she was my mentor. She was my friend. She was my rock.

She was true beauty.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Make The Most Of The Joys In Life!

I simply cannot put into words the emotions that have flooded the past few days. L'erin is married! L'erin is a doctor! Adam is just amazing, and their wedding truly reflected their love, their hearts and their love for Christ. I could not be more honored to be a part of such an amazing weekend.

Okay, so you really feel old when the kids you babysat for are amazing adults. Alex and L'erin are truly fantastic people that make this earth a better, warmer place to live.

The day could have only been better if mom could have been with us. She was one of L'erin's biggest fans, and I could just hear her saying, "Look Rachelle, isn't she beautiful?" And mom wouldn't have been talking about her outward appearance. I also know that she would have called her "Dr. Harmon" as many times as she could before she became "Dr. Garner."

Nate and I laughed as L'erin and Adam read their vows to one another. I leaned over and said, "Honey, our vows suck!" It may be time to renew them. LOL Regardless of what we said to one another 12 years ago, it must have worked, because we are truly more in love today than we were then. Life has a way of making you see what really matters.

As you see in the picture above, L'erin and Adam placed a bouquet of white daisies with a red ribbon on an empty chair to remember mom. The day was a really difficult day as we know she would have been the life of the party, shoulder to lean on, and happy face for one and all.

At the reception, they played a game of remembering each couple's song. After the game, Alex played, "We've Only Just Begun" which was mom and dad's song. Daddy and I danced, cried and hugged. It didn't seem out of place or inappropriate because we were people who loved her and missed her presence as much as us. It is true, this journey without mom has only just begun for Daddy and I. Each day seems to begin and end but the travel doesn't seem any less difficult.

The blessing that we have is the love we share, the memories we own, and the ability to truly embrace the joys that come. L'erin's wedding is a joy that we have enjoyed making the most of!

Monday, May 18, 2009

I'm so rich!

So as a little kid I remember saying to my mom, "I wish we were rich." Mom would smile that great big smile everytime and say, "I keep telling you, honey, we are the richest people on earth. Our whole family loves each other."

Over the years, I still constantly thought about how to change my life monetarily. As a teacher and preacher that didn't seem to be part of the plan. Then as I began my own business it was like something inside of my became alive again. My entrepreneurial mind was inherited from both mom and dad, and mom was a huge encouragement and help to me in my business. She said that over the past few years she saw the sparkle come back into my eyes that I had as a young girl, and she loved that I loved to work.

However, the bigger truth to the sparkle was that I liked who I was because I felt like I could use this business to help someone I loved achieve their dream. There is no greater posession than when you share genuine Christ-centered love with people. Since mom's death, her words have never been more true.

I feel guilty because I am surrounded by so many people that genuinely love me. I am truly one of the richest women on earth. I know that I am not my bubbly, fun-loving, call-you-back friend to most of you right now. But please know, your messages, posts, calls and texts make the hardest of moments easier to handle.

Much love to all of you

Thursday, May 14, 2009

For Real No Nagging!

No husband appreciates a naggy wife. Mom taught me this lesson as a very young girl and kept teaching me as we both aged. As mom always did, it was more the way she lived her life that taught me things than the words she actually used.

The Doorknob

In our house in Oblong (before the remodeling after I went to college), we had a door that lead from our kitchen to our garage. We kept the garbage can right outside of that door. Unfortunately, the doorknob was well-worn and would turn and turn and turn before it would catch the latch and actually open the door. This was a problem when you were clearing the table and your hands were full. Mom asked dad to fix it. Of course as life does, time passed and the doorknob was not fixed. Mom never asked dad again. There was the occasional sigh or groan, but NO NAGGING.

Finally, one night as we were clearing the table mom went to turn the doorknob, and it didn't catch. As she turned and turned, she dropped the food and plates in her hand. As frustrated as she was she did not yell or nag, she simply got a hacksaw from the garage and went to work on the doorknob in the only way she knew how.

French Toast

This is a story I have heard my dad tell many times and often in mom's presence. One morning, in the early days of their marriage, my mom fixed french toast for my dad. He had eaten one serving, and mom asked if he liked it and wanted more? As he was finishing his last bite of the first serving, my dad said, "It's good, not quite like my mom's but it's alright." My mom sweetly came over and picked up his plate and walked back into the kitchen where the remaining french toast sat in the skillet. At that point, my mom took the last piece of french toast and threw it outside over the hill, skillet, plate and all. As of April 2009 when mom took her last breath she had never fixed french toast for dad again. Of course, she had never brought it up again either. Everytime the story was told, it was dad laughing and telling of learning a valuable lesson about what to say and what not to say to mom.


During one of those early marital fights that all honeymooners experience, I called my mom. I just knew she would be on my side, afterall, I am her baby girl. I literally cannot recall what we were fighting about, but I just knew Nate was really really wrong. So, I called mom telling her about how upset I was, and how stupid I thought Nate was, and how should I handle all of this? Mom's response, "Well honey, what did you expect?" I was so shocked by her response I didn't know what to say. Then she said something that has helped me to put it all in perspective. "Rachelle, we are married to the two best men on the planet, but they are still men. Unless you want to be a lesbian, this is what marriage is!"

That was that. That was her advice. She didn't have to say it, but I knew what she meant. Stop complaining, grow up and deal with it. That is what mom did all of her life. And she was SO happy. Everyone always commented on how happy mom was. She was constantly smiling, constantly seeing the good side, constantly enjoying life.

Husbands don't appreciate naggy wives, and people don't appreciate naggy people. That is why mom was so appreciated. She never demanded things from others. She just looked for ways to serve others and for ways to solve her own problems.

I love you mom! Thanks for all that you taught me!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Norma Carder was an amazing woman, friend and business mind, BUT she was an even more fabulous mother. She taught me so many things. Here is a list of 10 simple truths mom taught me. This sounds cliche but she really did teach me everyone of these things, and over the next few days I'm going to blog about them because she was honestly one the wisest women on earth.

1. No husband appreciates a naggy wife.
2. Being rich means that you have a lot of people that love you.
3. Beauty comes from seeing how beautiful other people can be.
4. Popularity is often a sign of insecurity.
5. Not everyone is going to like you, what is important is that God likes you and you like you.
6. Chocolate fixes almost everything.
7. Jealousy is the ugliest thing on the earth.
8. A mom's love is unconditional.
9. GRIT is a necessity and complaining is not an option.
10. Life's not fair, but God is good.

Happy Mother's Day MOM! I miss you like crazy!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Carder's Goal!

Miracles do happen! Carder had a shot on goal at his soccer game today, and he MADE IT. Two years of soccer and our first goal. He shocked himself, and then turned and pumped his fists in the air to make sure I was watching. Unfortunately, Nate was across the field at Kaden's game, so the rest of the family had to hear Carder's long drawn out rendition of the play.

This is where joy meets grief. I walked across the field at half time to congratulate Carder and switch spots with Nate. As I kissed Carder, he said, "That was cool wasn't it?" I said yes, and pulled my phone out to tell mom. It was then I remembered I couldn't call her.

I know she saw the goal. I just wish we could have talked about it. Tomorrow is Mother's Day. I am choosing to just spend the day loving on my little ones and writing in my new journal all of the memories I can recall with my time with mom.

I made a promise to mom. I promised her that I would be happy. I promised her that I would live a GREAT life, and I will!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Feeling Incredibly Blessed

Yesterday was a GREAT day. I still had a hard time with missing mom, and I hate the fact that I can't call her, but God reminded me yesterday that He carries me in the palm of his hand.

Nate and I visited the new church offices yesterday morning. The whole area was painted by volunteers in one night. The office space is such a gift from God and a wonderful act of love by my husband and the church family. The space is perfect, and it will allow our church to break through some space issue barriers, but it will also allow me to have a private space to grieve. After 4 years, my home will become just a home to our family come Friday. I am so excited.

Yesterday was also a testament to great people. I was so excited to talk to Dad and know that all of the guys were going out to his shop. They were joining him in friendship and food and being there with him in person when I cannot. Throughout the day I talked to, text and heard via email from so many people that genuinely care about my life, my grief and my well-being. God truly knows how to minister to our spirit if we will just allow ourselves to accept help and allow ourselves to be used by Him when He calls. Dad and I are constantly humbled by the love we feel and need from each of those great people everyday.

My night ended with one of my dearest friends. We held hands as we looked at her little angel sleeping and wept together. We both knew we were crying tears of incredible joy, deep sorrow and a feeling that only real friends can share without putting words to it.

To say that I am blessed is an understatement. I have an incredible hole in my heart that will never be filled. However, my life is such a gift, and I just have to daily remember to treasure the joy. Mom would want nothing more than to know I laugh, dance and smile often.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Relapse of Grief

So I guess anxiety can mask itself in a variety of ways. I thought my month of reflection, prayer and healing had brought me to a place of "normalcy". I returned to work May 1 and I thought that I caught the flu at the same time. I rested on Friday and Saturday, went to church on Sunday, and felt good Monday morning. As I prepared for a presentation Monday afternoon and worked on many many emails my temperature seemed to rise and stomach issues flared. Thus it continues as I try to re-enter the real world.

UGH! This is so stupid. Life must go on, and my body needs to cooperate. I'm going to get real sleep tonight, and I'm hopeful that will help. Lying in bed watching Oprah is not an option. It is not me. It was definitely not mom, and it is not my choice.

So if you are reading this please pray for me to get the strength I desire to live my GREAT life that is such a gift. If you are my dear loved one or friend that has been calling me in the past few days, please know I am ok, but just trying to figure out how to function in a normal way with huge suit of armor the world calls grief. It seems the phone is my hardest place. Why? No Idea.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

How Do You Keep Your Faith?

Mom. Mother. Mama. Mommy. Best Friend. Mentor. Sister. Pastor. Counselor. These are just titles. Each of the titles cannot describe the extent of the love mom and I shared. That is the problem with trying to describe in words the feelings of the heart. Today I am going to try to describe my faith. Again, mere words cannot possibly express the feeling in my heart.

So many times in recent weeks people have asked me the same question in different ways. "How do you keep your faith?" My answer is quite simple. My faith is not a choice; it is who I am. It is like asking, "How do you remember to breathe?"

Am I frustrated that mom had to get leukemia after enduring all of the hardships in her life? Yes, but I am grateful she was my mother. Am I frustrated that innocent children suffer from awful illnesses? Yes, but I am grateful for the gift of life. Am I absolutely baffled by miracles that occur sometimes but not always to powerful prayer warriors? Yes, but I am grateful for a God that has a listening ear.

You see, to me, the lack of a healing response by God for an innocent child, great person, or dear loved one seems harsh, unloving and cold in the veiw of this life. But in the view of heaven, it is the only response that makes sense from a loving God. I wonder how the angels feel when God actually takes action to use his healing power and leave his loved one on the earth even though they have been stricken by an illness or fateful event? The angels are there in glory ready to welcome their loved one home, and suddenly they must watch this person endure greater hardships for longer. Can you imagine their response?

Logically I can see this, but my heart still aches and wonders 'why not one more miracle to keep her here a little while longer?' Even in this hurt, even when I think about terrible injustices, I do not question whether God is good. I only question the plan. I only question the basis by which He decides when and where to use his healing touch. The lack of constant miracles everytime a devoted prayer warrior prays does not keep me from believing in the power of prayer. In fact, if there would never be a miraculous event then I would feel desperate in this world because hope would be non-existent. I cannot imagine that type of world.

Yet, I understand how people get to a place where they believe God does not listen. I do not judge that, nor do I know how to help. When thousands pray for the life of an innocent child or unbearable events occur, it is only normal to question the Giver of Life as to why? However, I believe strongly that life and God are not the same. God is great, loving and everlasting. Life is hard, testing and temporary.

So as to the question, "How do I keep my faith?" Again, without my soul, who am I? I am nothing without it. I watched my mom leave this earth. I sat with her in her last days, and if there is anything I am sure of it is the fact that our soul is what makes us who we are. As soon as her soul left, her shell, her body looked nothing like my mom, best friend and mentor. It is not life that is real, it is our spirit.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Month End, New Beginning

Since owning my own business, month end has become a 'tad' stressful to say the least. Mom loved working in manufacturing and month end was always crazy for her too. We would talk every month end. She wanted the inventory to go down, down, and down. I wanted sales up up and up. We would talk, text and email. On March 30th, we shared our last month end together on this earth. She was unable to respond at that point, but I talked with her just the same. Her coworkers came and told me to tell her to get well because the inventory was not looking good.

Over the many, many month-ends mom would often say, "What do you think God is trying to teach you through this?" Because in my business, it seemed there was a barrier I could not break through. Then in only mom's loving humor she would say, "Hurry up and learn it already I'm tired of this stress."

"Mom, I think I've learned the lesson. I think I had that barrier and that stress and all of that to work through because it just brought us closer in another part of our relationship. In the past 2-3 years I was able to learn from you as a business woman. Had I not struggled and toiled I may not have turned to you and leaned on you so much. God's infinite wisdom still astounds me."

Amazingly, now that mom is gone, thanks to wonderful self-sacrificing people, my last two month ends have been free from stress and remarkable growth months. The barrier I could not break has been broken, but not by my effort. Hopefully, I can be half of the woman that my mom was. She was selfless, funny, loving, ornery, faith-filled and beautiful. I have learned and pray I will never forget that the blessings of life are the relationships I enjoy during the trials and accomplishments of living.

Mayday marks a beautiful day of beginnings. So mom, "I think I've finally learned it. I am choosing to live a GREAT life today because of you."