A Thankful Heart

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I offer up my list of blessings

I am thankful for my God, who continues to show me loving grace. Who doesn’t abandon me even when my faith is not as strong as it should be. Continuing to rescue me from trials both in body and soul. It is a blessing to be a child to my heavenly father.

I am thankful for my wonderfully supportive husband Deon. Being the first person in my life to actually make me feel loved. Helping me realize that I had more value than merely what I can “do” for people, and loving me for who I am. As completely different as we are, He is the ying to my yang, the sun to my moon, and I am so fortunate to have him in my life. Without him, I would be an obsessive compulsive mess, trapped in schedules and boring routines of my own making I’m sure. He is the spice in my life, and that which makes everything else sweet.

I am thankful for my daughter Shelsea. A child who was born beautiful both inside and out. A kind heart with an open mind. Shelsea, I hope you know how much I truly adore you. I love the conversations we have, and you along with your father and brothers are the pillars that keep me afloat, and keep me alive. You are a bright girl who cares for all those around her, has an avid passion for “saving our earth” that I respect, You have an enthusiasm for life, and a closeness to your God that is simply wonderful.

I am thankful for my son Haiden, who has one of the most infectious laughs of anyone I have met. I love his zeal for life, his comedian tendencies, and his sensitive nature. You are a caring individual, with the drive and determination to go after your hearts desire. I have no doubt that you will put the effort forth to do what is required to make your dreams come true, and that is such a rare find in an individual. I pray you never lose that stamina. I can always count on a hug, and a laugh from that little guy.

I am also thankful for my youngest son Kylan. A boy who at times surprises me with his insightfulness. Kylan is unique, and not like the others. Kylan’s trust has to be earned, he doesn’t give it freely, but once acquired, he is one of the funnest kids to be around. You always know where you stand with Kylan. There is no fake actions when it comes to him, and I appreciate his sincerity. My sweet baby who can always make me smile, even when I’m pretty grumpy.

I’m thankful for my Parents-in-law, who are always supportive, and always willing to let me cry on their shoulder when things seem extra hard. I appreciate the fact that I can always talk to them about what I’m thinking and feeling, and I don’t have to worry that it is going to be used against me later. Their love is unconditional, and that is a relationship trait that had not been included an many. I thank them for their son that I love with all my heart, and their daughter, the next one on this list.

I’m thankful for my sister-in-law Robin, who has served as one of my very dearest girl friends these past 11 years. We’ve been able to be there for each other during some pretty hard times in both of our lives. I value your friendship, and respect the woman you’ve become. Even though the our lives are immersed in two separate cities, I know that I can always count on you for a word of encouragement. I hope you know that the same is always available to you.

I am thankful for my baby sister Muriel, who is my closest family member. She was born when I was 10, and I spent an inordinate amount of time taking care of her to the point where to me, she seems really more like a unique combination of a sister, my own child, and a close friend. I love you Muriel. I am so proud of you. You have grown into a strong and beautiful woman. Our little “We are Sisters” song rings forever in my heart. I am thankful for my brother-in-law Trevor who makes my sister so happy.

I am thankful for my brother Daniel, who still talks to me despite how annoying I was as a child. Especially a bored child, who would climb on your back, and bug the crap out of you. I know I was probably difficult for you to stand at times, but in my defense, Mom put me up to some of it.. like stealing your teddy bear George, to get you out of bed in the morning when we were young. 😛 I am thankful that you do still talk to me though, even with all the craziness that makes up our family.

to be continued.. 🙂

House Update… Trusses

Here is the picture I took this weekend when we went out to work on the house. It is sounding like the overall feeling is that it might be finished sometime this next spring, between March and May, but it really all depends on the volunteers we are able to get, and the weather, and schedules..

trusses2

(Visit the Habitat House page and scroll down to watch the changes over time!)

The Other Habitat Project ~

On Saturday, (as there wasn’t much we could do on our project and still be useful) Deon and I, (and my friend Kathy) ended up putting our hours in working on another two family’s common wall houses. (both families will be a neighbor of ours). We helped paint their diningrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, 1 livingroom, and half of the other side’s living room, and the upstairs bathroom in one as well.  The are hoping to have those two families in their place right before Christmas. I hope they make it in time. I did hear though that their vinyl was going in this coming Wednesday..

paintingotherhouse1

A favorite Christmas story e-mail

I get this story in an e-mail every year around Christmas, but it is one of my favories. I recieved it again today, and thought I’d share. This is how our Christmas spirit should be! 🙂

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

1960, I woke up one morning with six hungry babies and just 75 cents in my pocket.

Their father was gone.

The boys ranged from three months to seven years and their sister was two.

Their Dad had never been much more than a presence they feared. Whenever they heard his tires crunch on the gravel driveway they would scramble to hide under their beds. He did manage to leave $15 a week to buy groceries. Now that he had decided to leave,there would be no more beatings, but no food either.

If there was a welfare system in effect in southern Indiana at that time, I certainly knew nothing about it. I scrubbed the kids until they looked brand new and then put on my best homemade dress, loaded them into the rusty old 51 Chevy and drove off to find a job.
The seven of us went to every factory, store and restaurant in our small town.

No luck.

The kids stayed crammed into the car and tried to be quiet while I tried to convince who ever would listen that I was willing to learn or do anything. I had to have a job. Still no luck. The last place we went to, just a few miles out of town, was an old Root Beer Barrel drive-in that had been converted to a truck stop. It was called the Big Wheel.

An old lady named Granny owned the place and she peeked out of the window from time to time at all those kids. She needed someone on the graveyard shift, 11 at night until seven
in the morning. She paid 65 cents an hour, and I could start that night.

I raced home and called the teenager down the street that baby-sat for people. I bargained with her to come and sleep on my sofa for a dollar a night. She could arrive with her pajamas on and the kids would already be asleep This seemed like a good arrangement to her, so we made a deal.

That night when the little ones and I knelt to say our prayers, we all thanked God for finding Mommy a job. And so I started at the Big Wheel. When I got home in the mornings I woke the baby-sitter up and sent her home with one dollar of my tip money– fully half of what I averaged every night.

As the weeks went by, heating bills added a strain to my meager wage.
The tires on the old Chevy had the consistency of penny balloons and began to leak. I had to fill them with air on the way to work and again every morning before I could go home.

One bleak fall morning, I dragged myself to the car to go home and found four tires in the back seat. New tires! There was no note, no nothing, just those beautiful brand new tires.

Had angels taken up residence in Indiana ? I wondered.

I made a deal with the local service station. In exchange for his mounting the new tires, I would clean up his office. I remember it took me a lot longer to scrub his floor than it did
for him to do the tires. I was now working six nights instead of five and it still wasn’t
enough. Christmas was coming and I knew there would be no money for toys for the kids. I found a can of red paint and started repairing and painting some old toys. Then I hid them in the basement so there would be something for Santa to deliver on Christmas morning.

Clothes were a worry too. I was sewing patches on top of patches on the boys pants and soon they would be too far gone to repair.On Christmas Eve the usual customers were drinking coffee in the Big Wheel. There were the truckers, Les, Frank, and Jim, and a state trooper named Joe.

A few musicians were hanging around after a gig at the Legion and were dropping nickels in the pinball machine. The regulars all just sat around and talked through the wee hours of the morning and then left to get home before the sun came up. When it was time for me to go home at seven o’clock on Christmas morning, to my amazement, my old battered Chevy was filled full to the top withboxes of all shapes and sizes. I quickly opened the driver’s side door, crawled inside and kneeled in the front facing the back seat. Reaching back, I pulled off the lid of the top box. Inside was whole case of little blue jeans, sizes 2-10! I looked inside another box: It was full of shirts to go with the jeans.

Then I peeked inside some of the other boxes. There was candy and nuts and bananas and bags of groceries. There was an enormous ham for baking, and canned vegetables and potatoes. There was pudding and Jell-O and cookies, pie filling and flour. There was whole bag of laundry supplies and cleaning items. And there were five toy trucks and one beautiful little doll. As I drove back through empty streets as the sun slowly rose on the most amazing Christmas Day of my life, I was sobbing with gratitude. And I will never forget the joy on the faces of my little ones that precious morning.

Yes, there were angels in Indiana that long-ago December.And they all hung out at the Big Wheel truck stop….

Baby Scare…

Yesterday afternoon, I received an e-mail from my sister saying that she was being transferred to OHSU Hospital, and that they didn’t tell her why, other than she had more protein than she should. I called her house, but they had already left, so I looked up online what that might mean, and it said pre-eclampsia. She and her husband got up there and they ran more tests. If it was what they thought, they would most likely take the baby early as it could be detrimental otherwise.

A few hours later, her mother-in-law and I made it up to the Labor & Delivery section of OHSU to be with them. (it is a hour drive from where we live) Right before we got there, they were told it actually might not be pre-eclampsia, and about 25 minutes after we arrived in her room, They let her go home.

The nurse came back in and said that the tests on her that they had run on her had came back fine. The only test that came up different was her blood pressure, and it had since returned to normal. When you understand that they were driving to an unfamiliar busy city, where they ended up getting lost and it took them two hours to find instead of 1 hour, as well as just being emotional and worried that something bad was happening, it may have attributed at least part to her original rate recorded.

OHSU even contacted the local clinic to ask what they saw that made them send her up there. The nurse couldn’t confirm it, but my sister really thinks that an incorrect decimal placement happened when the local clinic was calculating the protein level. They had told her she had 3 grams of protein when what was considered as OK she was told was 300 mg.

I am very thankful that when I had my kids, I had a great doctor who was very competent. I can only imagine the stress she must have been feeling, and from the sounds of it, it was all unnecessary. I’m glad she and the baby are ok.

Thanksgiving vs. Christmas…

I believe that I’ve come to the conclusion that Thanksgiving is my now favorite holiday. Not because of the food either. Food doesn’t excite me half as much anymore with the MS diet I’m on, its just not as fun. I think I’m even becoming and extremist on the food subject because now, it makes me feel slightly ill to even watch people enjoy the fat-filled, cholesterol-forming, sugar-laiden goodies that I myself used to love. I feel bad for what others are putting in their body… yep its confirmed.. I’m a food extremist.. 😦  So its not the food part of Thanksgiving that I adore even.

Thanksgiving is the holiday every year that we celebrate at our house. This again, is not a reason that I should love the holiday, because with three kids and a medium haired dog that sheds.. >< (its a good thing she’s a sweet dog!), it is always a challenge to get the house ready for visiting family. While the finished product, (a clean house) is nice (and very short lived.. ><), it isn’t my reason for loving the holiday either.

The things I adore about thanksgiving is the being act of being thankful, and being surrounded by those I’m most thankful for. Encouraging us all to be giving, appreciative and grateful, as well as gracious is what I love about the holiday. It gets pretty hard to find those times where people present those traits openly and without a hidden agenda..  No strings attached…

“What about Christmas!” you say… ( I can just hear it!)

Christmas can be wonderful, and is the time of year that people most associate with being giving, appreciative, and grateful (the attributes I love). It is also another time of year when people try harder to reconnect with family.

Yes Christmas can be great, but is not my favorite. Mostly because in my opinion, once commercialism was tied into the holiday,  it became a constant struggle for society to keep the real meaning of Christmas first and foremost in their mind. When you are constantly bombarded with ads telling you “Only so many days left – so you better get shopping” and the stress associated with finding the “Perfect Gift”, it can be really hard not to get caught up in the materialism.

Gifts are great, I don’t feel like they are a good representation of the affection and emotions that are behind them.  Before you write me off as being “Scrooge McSerina”, I want to throw out there that its not at all that I’m “Bah Humbug” on the thought of Christmas. That simply isn’t the case. Its just that  anyone can buy and give a gift, but to some its more obligatory than thoughtful. I have a adamant attraction to sincerity, I value it alot, and so it puts me in the mind frame of “If you don’t really mean it, then don’t do it”.  It always feels better to me to give someone a gift they actually need, rather than a gift they want, which seems to be opposite of the standard thought.

Another issue, is that all that “stuff” accumulates can be quite overwhelming.  This puts me at odds with family even, because they view me as that “I’m just picky”, or that “I’m hard to please”.  I’m really not picky, or hard to please about gifts. I enjoy getting jewelry or stuffed animals as much as the next girl, but the truth is if you know me, you know those things (While these gifts are still really special to me) will get put away in a jewelry box, or a corner with other stuffed animals that I’ve gotten in the past.It doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate, or like them, its just I put them away so they don’t get ruined. Growing up, if you didn’t put things away, they were always ruined, and quickly.

If I wore gifts of jewelry more often, or made sure I used gifts more often, then It would probably go over better. The truth is that that time period that normal girls/woman spend looking in the mirror making themselves presentable for the world, (make-up, jewelry, hair), that time for me gets ignored 99.9% of the time, and is replaced with trying to get a little extra sleep, getting the kids ready, and trying to make my brain function enough to remember everything I’m supposed to bring with me, and everything the kids are supposed to remember to bring with them that day, and any things Deon had asked.  Most days I feel like I’m in good shape that I’ve brushed my teeth and ran a brush through my hair before the madness that is our morning ensues!

Unused Kitchen appliances or utensils are another point where I get grief over “not liking them”.

Do I like them?    Of course I do!

Do I get benefit from them?     Usually.

Is the benefit because I’m a whiz in the kitchen? … Sadly no..  Truth be told, any benefit I get from the use of Kitchen gifts come in the form of Deon using them and I enjoying the end result of what they helped make.  I’m truly not good for much in the Kitchen, aside from the regular dinner meals. Of the forms of creativity that I have, coming up with ingenious new menu’s isn’t an area I excel.. Deon on the other hand.. Makes wonderful concoctions out of normal stuff. He tries to teach me, but it isn’t a natural talent I possess.

In general, I am odd though I realize. Case in point, when Christmas Day comes, my favorite thing to do, is just watch everyone open their gifts.. I’m never real anxious to open my own. There is a secret pleasure I get from wondering what it could be, and I like to keep that going as long as possible in my own mind, until I’m forced to open them. So really, when you think about it, you could just get me an empty box, wrap it up, and stick it under the tree with my name on it, and that would suffice to give me  a good portion of my same “Christmas Gift” enjoyment part of the holiday.

Hibernation?

I sorta feel like I’m in hibernation lately. I’ve been busy with my sister’s babyshower, the house, getting Thanksgiving put together. I’ve even had three or four ideas for some decent posts, but seriously have not had the energy to develop them. So maybe I’ll make a short list here, so I can go back and work on them when I have energy…

Kids in the school play

Progress on the House

Meeting at Church/ Love and Logic thoughts…

Thanksgiving vs. Christmas

Facebook insanity

I have such a fog, hope it lifts soon. This list will remind me some things that I want to talk about later…

Mission Completed!

For the past few months, we have been planning a surprise Baby shower for my Baby sister Muriel. Although I tried to be very careful, I was sure she’d figure it out before hand, However our mission was successful today when I picked her up to come over to my house and help me “Sort Pictures”

muriel-7-months

I think it went over pretty well. 🙂 My new niece’s name will be Alysondra Jucillia. Jucillia is a family name, that is actually one of my sister’s middle names as well.
Can view some of the pictures of the BabyShower here. I’ll write more in the morning. 🙂

Fun with photography

Saturday, we went out to work on the jobsite for the house, but we quickly got rained out. It was so wet, and we were drenched within 5 minutes of being outside! We got about 2 hours, and then our contractor called it a day, as they were wanting to work on the scaffolding, and the prospect was a little scary with bad weather and volunteers. He did tell us though, that we are ahead of schedule. We went and picked up the kids and went home.

The kids had wanted to decorate the house for Christmas the last few weeks. We decided since we didn’t have anything now planned, that we would go ahead and start. Since we had to take the tree box (yes its a fake tree) out to get to the other decorations, we went ahead and put up the tree and decorated it. I know thats crazy, especially since I’m not anywhere near ready to be thinking about Christmas, but it was fun nonetheless and it made the kids happy.

You may know, I like to tinker with photography, and I had read a tip late last year about better capturing the christmas lights on a tree. So here was my attempt…

tree

Then, after Kylan walked in front of the tree while I was taking a picture, I decided it would be fun to try and get the kid’s silhouettes in front of the tree…

3silloettes

ksilloette

And then I thought it would be cool to get one of the tree lighting up the kid’s face…

ssilloette

It didn’t turn out as good as I was hoping, and the ones for the boys turned out still too dark, so I’m going to have to experiment a bit more.. luckily, the kids like looking at the tree.. hehe

I also tried to get some pictures that I could maybe use for a Christmas card or something… Here are the ones I got.

treeribbon

goldball

balls

nativity

Obama Wins!

president-obama

Yay!

I’m so excited! It was really fun making dinner, and having my children watch the computer and keep me updated as the results for the states rolled in! The kids had a healthy interest in the election this time around, and for them being as young as they are I think it is wonderful that they were so into it. They will be able to tell their children that they remember when the first African-American was elected President of the United States. How awesome. I have tried to really instill in them the fact that skin color doesn’t matter, and I think this shows them that is even more true.

House Update & Misc thought

check out the “Habitat House” Page for an updated picture. They started putting up walls upstairs, very exciting. Unfortunately I only got to take a picture and didn’t get to help this weekend. Ended up not feeling well all weekend, and MS was flaring. Kids unfortunately got a short Halloween session due to that also.. 😦 so I felt bad. (You can see the pictures in the post below). Its frustrating when you can’t do all the things you think or feel you should. Gets me down sometimes… Which maybe why I feel a little emotional lately anyway.

(edit: Here’s a link to current polls for anyone interested)

Political hype reared its head in an e-mail, and I felt compelled to say something, which maybe I shouldn’t have. Someone had sent me an e-mail with a bunch of old pictures of John McCain, making praises to him (which was perfectly fine), but then went on to include a bunch of pictures of Obama with captions talking about him secretly being a “Muslim” etc.. and how he “replaced the flag on his plane with his own symbol” (which isn’t true, there is even a link on his Fight the Smears site talking about that one). Mostly it really bugs me when people promote anything that encourages hate in anyway. I personally don’t find the word “Muslim” as dirty as most, and that is because I’ve actually looked up what real “Muslim’s” believe, as I explained in my response. I tried to be delicate as some were obviously McCain followers, but I think I offended a few of the recipents with my response. 😦
This was what I had sent:

Just my thoughts,

McCain is not my choice in this election, but if he wins, I will still give him the respect that is due someone of that office. I think it is important, and is the way our country was intended to work. I may not agree with him, but at that point it will be a moot point won’t it. 🙂 Just like with anything we all just have to deal with the cards we are given and do the best we can do, and trust that the Lord has a plan that we may not fully understand. That being said, I think its important to remember that our country was founded on the belief of freedom of religion, something we even originally opened our borders for, something that our country was originally known and respected for..

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
— by the nineteenth-century American poet Emma Lazarus
( this appears on a plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty)

Other religions are different yes, but it doesn’t make them evil. There are extremists in every religion, every race, every country… does it mean the religion/race/country as a whole is bad or evil? I don’t believe so. Think of The Crusades.. does any self-respecting Christian really believe that it was our God’s will for all that bloodshed? I guess maybe some do, but then they would be part of the extremists section. If you actually do any research on the Muslim religion, you’d find that one of their core beliefs is that every person is a brother or sister and is loved by their God… and that you cannot injure, dishonor, or use any person without defiling yourself – meaning it is a sin in their religion as well. (not that far off from what we are taught as Christians) Just like in Christianity, there are people that call themselves Christians that simply aren’t. The Al-Qaeda terrorists are not really real Muslims. Most people in our country have a incorrect understanding on what being a “Muslim” means to a true Muslim. Its the extremists that get all the attention, so that is what people who are unfamiliar base their opinions off of, and its not fair. The same is true for almost every religion out there. Muslims also don’t corner the market on wearing turbans.. and just because someone wears one, doesn’t make them a “Muslim”.

As a Christian, my God urges me to love my neighbor as myself, and further than that, he even asks me to love my enemy. The Parable of the Good Samaritan teaches us to “love your neighbor” means to love all persons, everywhere – not just our friends, allies, countrymen, etc. Our God wants us to win others over to him through our own actions of love. How are we supposed to win people over to God when we become judgmental, act righteous, and outwardly portray a sense that we are better than everyone? Remember Jesus himself chose to eat with sinners rather than the self-righteous.

Because of this, I think it is very important to not demonize whoever happens to be the “other guy” in this race for presidency. Personally I think both John McCain and Barrack Obama are on their own, upstanding citizens. I view neither one of them as evil, nor perfect – just different, and that is not a bad thing. I feel that Politics in general is set up to separate people, giving them a club that they can feel smug about how good their party is and how bad, or stupid the other party is. I think the current campaign is a horrible representation of how things should go. Instead of focusing on what can be done to help this country in this time of trouble, many people are still being childish and petty, focusing on name calling, finger pointing, mudslinging and any negative thing they can associate to make the “other guy” look bad. The whole thing is ridiculous, and I can’t wait for it all to be over.

I would also hope we would all realize the role media plays in digging up smut on anyone, pictures such as these, and tainted stories to go along with them. .. I’m here to tell you, Its their job, its what they get paid for, if they can’t find something to get people riled up about, they don’t get recognized. Reporting good news doesn’t sell papers, and unfortunately being non-bias doesn’t sell papers either. Our Society feels it is far more interesting when you have something you can loom over others, something that you can find that makes you better than someone else, and its all garbage. It is prideful, and not what my God teaches. Who among us doesn’t have things they did, or were part of in their life that they aren’t proud of, or even things that didn’t end up being what they originally thought they were. Let him who is free of sin throw the first stone. I would encourage everyone to look inside themselves, and be very cautious about what they decide to take to heart as being “truth” . If anything even slightly resembles the kind of talk that you’d hear in a high school locker room, beware, because it very well could be. Pictures may be worth 1000 words, but just because they are, doesn’t mean the perception that is given is correct.

4 days left of this madness…

Re: the plane:

http://fightthesmears.com/articles/6/the-truth-about-the-obama-campaign-plane

there are other pieces of information you can find to be untrue or slightly twisted as well:

http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/obama.asp

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barack_Obama

Respectfully With Love,
Serina Clason