Archive for the ‘Life: THE JOURNEY’ Category

My three Ragamuffins - LOVE THEM!

My three Ragamuffins – LOVE THEM!

I have never been traditional in the sense of being a “mother.” When I worked at a children’s home during college, I got my first sense that mother’s day wasn’t always a “happy, sweet day.” Following the rules of the children’s home, I had to take the children who were wards of the state to church. I received my first Mother’s Day card that day. I was only twenty-years-old and knew that card wasn’t meant for me but little James had no one to call “mother” and I was the substitute of the day. He is far from alone. I spent the three years after college being a “substitute” mother to so many precious children at a Children’s Home in California. I saw what my cottage of girls went through when it came to celebrating Mother’s Day in the schools. We had the option of making other plans for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day by avoiding churches. The sting was too hard for some to bear.

Since then I have been in so many different situations where it has been so hard to hear the words “Mother’s Day.” Friends who have lost their own mothers to death or having dear friends who don’t have mothers due to their mother’s life choices or abandonment, I have learned not to take my mother for granted. But this day can be a bitter reminder for so many.

The hardest “Mother’s Day” for me was in 1997. I had a miscarriage the previous September. I was unmarried (*shocking*) and I suffered through alone with only few friends because the judgment was so severe from some I had told. It was so hard suffering in silence and I am so thankful now that I don’t have so mourn her loss in private. My first child was Emily Grace. My children are comforted they have a sister in heaven who is with Jesus and has welcomed loved ones and pets that have gone on before us.

In 2002, I became a foster mom with three little ragamuffins. The first mother’s day was awkward because I was “only” the foster mother. However, I was thrown up on and had sick kiddos and ended up in the ER in the afternoon for a baby with pneumonia. I learned that day what Mother’s Day is truly about; a mother taking care of her children. There were no pomps and circumstance for me that year. And I imagine it was a hard day for the birth mother as well.

By Mother’s Day in 2004, I think I had learned what Mother’s Day for a single parent looked like. If I wasn’t going to do it, it wasn’t going to happen. I bought myself an new oven that year that made cooking for my family of four so much easier.

After adopting my children in late 2004 and moving in 2005, a dear daughter-friend, Abbey, would sneak into my house and awake my children and taught them to cook simple breakfasts in bed for me while making crafts with them to present to me. She did this several years. By her example, the kids continue that tradition to this day.

Mother’s Day is truly a day for my children. It is the one day out of the year they will set aside their differences and work together to honor me. There is no price tag on what they give me because they give me their hearts. I am blessed to be their mother everyday; not just today. But I love seeing them on this day because I do see a glimpse into who they are becoming. And I see a bit of their Daddy (God) in them especially on this day.

I pray my kids will always have their “Father’s Eyes.


A friend of mine said these words today as he described the anniversary of the passing of his beloved mother.

“Time is as fragile and moving as life… …and it is hard to realize that a year has passed… …appreciation is more valuable than gold itself…” Gary Daniels

Those words resonated with me in deep place of my soul. Maybe because this is the time of year I think so much about the life, death, and Resurrection of Christ. Maybe it’s because a dear sister-friend passed away around this time of the year two years ago. Maybe it’s because I know of so many children who are facing huge medical obstacles right now and some have not made it. Maybe it’s because I grieve so much for the beginning childhoods of my children when I wasn’t their mother and I see the impact and sadness that still lingers within their souls. I think maybe it resonated because of all these things.

A kindred spirit mother-friend of mine recently walked through a harrowing journey with her two-year-old son. I am so overjoyed her story has a happy ending. My kids and I were in such prayer for a happy ending. But the journey of Tracie’s family brought up so many things I have been feeling lately. And my friend Gary, as mentioned at the beginning of this post, seemed to sum it up his quote “Time is as fragile and moving as life.”

We live in a world where everything happens immediately and instantly. I love Facebook. It is my mommy safe haven, my family journal, my photo album, a place I learn how to be a better mother, to eat healthier, a place I am challenged politically and sometimes intelligently. But sometimes I see how quickly I move from saying something somber to then posting a funny caption. Is it possible to go through the emotions that quickly? I really realized this while my kindred spirit mother-friend was in one of the scariest places a mother can be emotionally (facing childhood cancer) and how overcome with emotion and compassion I was that I backed away from Facebook (except for all the updates and dialogue with her). I didn’t want a distraction that would keep me from feeling the passion to pray fervently without ceasing. I was grieved that in the past I have said that I would pray for some people to realize that I was distracted by the next funny thing I saw and forgotten to be in prayer.

I keep singing this song in my head. It came out of the blue and I have been singing it to myself for a week just reflecting on the words.

Brother, sister, let me serve you,
let me be as Christ to you;
pray that I may have the grace to
let you be my servant too.

We are pilgrims on a journey,
and companions on the road;
we are here to help each other
walk the mile and bear the load.

I will hold the Christ-light for you
in the night-time of your fear;
I will hold my hand out to you,
speak the peace you long to hear.

I will weep when you are weeping;
when you laugh I’ll laugh with you;
I will share your joy and sorrow
till we’ve seen this journey through.

When we sing to God in heaven
we shall find such harmony,
born of all we’ve known together
of Christ’s love and agony.

Brother, sister, let me serve you,
let me be as Christ to you;
pray that I may have the grace to
let you be my servant too.

Words: Richard A. M. Gillard , 1977

I want community with my friends and I want it to be authentic. I want to be a Christ-servant to my children, my family, my community, and to my friends. I want to laugh when my friends laugh. I want to weep when my friends and community are weeping. “I want to share your joy and sorrow until we’ve seen this journey through.” I want to be real and journey with you through this life.

So, how do I do this in an age of Facebook with instant notifications that cause such a wide array of emotions that can cause me to feel sorrowful, happy, silly, and angry in just a matter of minutes? How do I convey to my friends that I want to be a Christ-servant to them? I want to reflect agape love in all that I do including what I do online. But do I reflect that when I am telling a friend I am fervently praying for them yet two seconds later post a funny video? This is where I am challenged.

One reason I love Facebook is that it keeps me in community with those I love but because of schedules or distance, I can’t see in person. Phone calls are just hard to handle with three children who need my attention. I cherish the time I have with those I hold close when we are together in person but those times are so hard to plan. Facebook allows a temporary fix that is on my children’s timetable. I love Facebook because it archives my family’s life and I can create photo albums in an organized way that I have never been able to successfully achieve offline or in another format. I love that I learn so much and have been challenged to think outside my little box because of information posted by friends with differing viewpoints on Facebook.

But I truly think that “time is as fragile and moving as life”. Facebook operates on a non-human timetable. Information can hit my thoughts and I move on before I have processed the emotion. And I am an intuitive-feeler. Maybe this is just a struggle for those like me.

I am going to consciously slow down. But I am not going to quit Facebook. I am going to challenge myself to not speed through the lives of my friends and family in the newsfeed. If you post a need, I am challenging myself to take time to hear you, to “see” that you’re not invisible, and to pray. Forgive me when I have not wept with you. Forgive me when I haven’t spoken the peace you needed to hear. Our time here is fragile and it is moving as life.

And to illustrate because I think blog posts are “super-awesome” when accompanied by photographs, I am including a recent picture of my children to remind us all of time and how fragile one day is. Each day our children grow and we can never go back and as Gary also so wisely quoted, “Appreciation is more valuable than gold itself.”

Sydney, 12 years and 331 days old; and Katyana, 14 years and 74 days old.

Sydney, 12 years and 331 days old; and Katyana, 14 years and 74 days old.

Ethan, 11 years and 166 days old.

Ethan, 11 years and 166 days old.

Katyana is my lyrical song writer. At the age of eight at her Chrismation and as is tradition, each Orthodox person takes on the name of a saint. Katyana’s Patroness Saint is St. Kassia whom she chose at baptism. St. Kassia was the first female hymnographer and my Katyana loves writing songs to the Heavens. It was a perfect match.

Katyana, age 8.

Katyana, age 8.

Katyana has written many songs that fill many notebooks through the years. However, this one just grabbed my heart. She’s fourteen. I love how she has tied the stories of the Bible together. I love that in her spare time this is what she chooses to do. I am humbled as well. God speaks ever so strongly through our children.

“He is Watching Over Us” by Katyana, age 14. © Published with Permission.

Everybody has dreams. They can be sweet or scary but the Lord is shining His Light upon us. When you are scared or having a hard life, He will be there. No matter what. No matter what. No matter what.

He will be there for you ’cause He is your Nightlight, your Shining Star. He is our Savior. He is here for us everyday and night. Oh, He is our Nightlight and our Shining Star. He can be everywhere at once because He is our King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He created us and everything. He is in our hearts, in our hearts.

He is in our lives and dreams ’cause He is our Shining Star, our Nightlight. He is our Father in heaven. He is the Lamb, the Light and Truth. So say your prayers every day and every night because he is listening to all of your prayers. He will be there, be there for you.

When you are scared, He knows your dreams are scary and sweet they will be. They will be good ones and bad ones. The Lion’s Den with Daniel. They were tamed by Daniel’s prayer to God. The lost lamb was found by the Shepherd. We are the Lord’s Lambs and He is our Shepherd. The Lord is there for you and for me. He will help you and is there right next to you. You don’t see Him but he sees you.

He is your Shining Star, your Nightlight. He sends your guardian angels to watch over you. Watch over you, He will. Yes, He will be there for you day and night. He created the earth, the sun, the moon, the sky and the stars. He made us in His own likeness.

He is the King of Kings. He is the Lord. He is Christ. He is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. He is our Nightlight, our Shining Star. He will be watching us, watching us, night and day. He is our Shepherd. We are His lambs. We are His children. He loves all of us all over the world. He loves the dark and the white sheep. The stars are shining bright tonight.

The Lord is listening to my prayer. He hears my confessions. He hears me ask for forgiveness. He gave us the breath of life. He sent man down on earth who named every animal ever made down in the Garden of Eden. He told man don’t ever eat from the tree of good and evil. That tree was the tree of knowledge. Eve tempted Adam to eat the fruit. God cast man out and put a flaming sword and an angel to protect the Tree of Life.

Man worked hard and long. Later on, God gave Moses the Ten Commandments on stone tablets to give to the people of Israel. Moses led the people to the Promised Land. This is something to remember. God always keeps His promises. Look at the sky to see His Promise. In the rainbow He has promised to never flood the earth again. And God’s promises are always kept.

Later on, the Lord told Mary she was going to have a son. He told her not to be afraid. Then He told Joseph the one he was going to marry and to name their son Emmanuel. God was going to be with us on earth. When Jesus was wrapped up in swaddling clothes, He was laid in a manger for there was no room in the inn. So, remember He is our Christ. It doesn’t matter where we are born. He is our Christ. He died for us on the cross. That cross is broken and in pieces all over the earth. He is everywhere.

He is our Shining Light and our Nightlight. So say your prayers everyday and every night. He knows that we love Him ’cause He lives in us. We are His temple. He is our King, Lord, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He loves us. We love Him. He is our Creator. He is our Nightlight. He is our Shining Star.

He is the Lamb. He is watching over us day and night. He is watching from the stars. He is watching from the heavens. He is watching from the sun. He is watching from the moon. He is watching, watching, watching. He is watching over us everyday and every night. He is our Nightlight, our Shining Star. He’s everywhere.

He helped Joshua fight the battle of Jericho. He helped David defeat the giant with just five pepples and his sling. David was just a shepherd boy. Mary was a virgin. Mary gave birth to Jesus and he laid there in the manger. He loves us all.

Simeon wanted to see Jesus before he died. Simeon’s prayer was answered by the Lord. God is watching us. God is watching over us. God loves us. He is our Savior. He is King. He is Lord. He is the Lamb. He is the Shepherd. He is watching over us.

This is What Eleven Years Looks Like.

Saturday, March 9, 2002: The kids and I spent our first entire day together as a family of four.

Saturday, March 9, 2013: The kids and I spent our day being extras in an Independent Feature Film. It was fun. We can’t wait to do it again.

This is what eleven years looks like. It’s quite amazing.

THE Discipline Book: I am a doodler; not an artist.

THE Discipline Book (fifteen pages and counting). And note: I am a doodler; not an artist.

There are three sections in the “R-4 Games” that are evaluated. Those three section areas are: Family Rules, Chores, and School/Learning Rules.


1. NO COMPUTER TIME after 9:30 p.m. for people under the age of 19 years unless they have graduated from high school.
2. NO television after 11:30 p.m. for ANYONE unless it is with Mom’s special permission.
3. NO electronic toys, games, music, Kindles, DS, IPODS, or phones after 9:00 p.m.

The other areas included in the family rules are hygiene, physical aggression, name calling, the word “hate”, mean faces, rolling eyes, arguing, attitude, lying, loud negative exclamations towards each other, stealing, touching each other’s belongings, talking back to mom, asking mom for toys/stuff that has to be purchased, irritating tattling, and other areas that mom deems unnecessary. Mom decides “guilt” in unseen incidents based on severity and evidence. Truth-telling does have a reward.

Consequences for breaking the above rules.
Breaking ANY rules will cause the names to be submitted to the “reaping.” The “reaping” is a list of names that will be tallied EVERY Saturday evening by 9:00 p.m. and a steep consequence will be given to the person whose name is written down the most. If there is a tie, both individuals will receive a steep consequence.

Removal of Names from the Reaping:
Names can be removed from the “reaping” by completing a contracted “job” by mom without any other reward (i.e. monetary). Names can also be removed from the “reaping” by completing a charitable contribution (i.e. something for someone else that doesn’t benefit self or the household – examples: sweeping the apartment hallways, giving money to a cause, spending time with the elderly). Reaping removal chores and/or charitable contributions MUST BE COMPLETED BY 8:30 p.m. on Saturday night.

REWARD: Whomever has their name written down the least at the last night (9:30 p.m.) on the last day of the month gets a “date” with mom. If there is a tie, then both winners get a date with mom. The amount of the date is dependent upon the “date-chore-fund” that will be covered under chores.


Chores are distributed by mom based on age, maturity, trust, and ability. Chores are also correlated to the amount independence giving in activities.

Daily Chores: Daily/weekly chores for each child will not be published for reasons of privacy. But all daily chores WILL be completed by 10:00 p.m. daily unless otherwise designated by mom (i.e. dishes after meals will be completed promptly).

Weekly Chores: Weekly chores must be completed by Saturday at 6:00 p.m. Some activities and events may interfere with completing chores by this time so forethought is necessary.

Rewards/Consequences for Chores: Chore allowances will be given on every 16th of the month in dollars and cents. Chore allowances will be given in the amount of age:
Ethan, age 11: $11
Sydney, age 12: $12
Katyana, age 14: $14

Additional money can be earned by contracting a chore with mom. Those chores are separate from the chores to remove the name from the reaping. Payment for contracted chores will be agreed upon by mom and child.

Quarters will be put in a jar to represent allowance. Anytime a chore is not completed or there is resistance to completing a chore, a quarter will be removed and will be put into the “date-chore-fund” jar.


Each child has an individual curriculum they are required to learn. Note: This will not be published for privacy. Each completed assignment can be redeemed for a certificate or reward. Certificates and rewards can be applied to things like computer time, game time with mom, Starbuck “Treat”, Pedicure/Manicure, Nerf gun war with mom, etc. The individual rewards are listed with each child’s curriculum.

GRADES: Every three months/quarter (last day of March, June, September, and December), grades will be totaled in three areas. These areas are:
*Average of all school work in all subjects.
*Average of daily attitude about learning.
*Average of daily effort.

Grades will be listed as follows:
A = Excellent.
B = Good.
C = Average.
D = Needs a lot of improvement.
F = Flunked… DO AGAIN.

If an “F” is given on ANY day, an “A” in that given area cannot be earned that quarter.

Grading Rewards: Each of the three areas listed above will be graded. The rewards per area will be given in this amount:
An “A” per area = $10
A “B” per area = $5
A “C” per area = $1
D’s and F’s are NOT rewarded.
So, per quarter, a total reward of $30 is possible.


Birthdays: Siblings will do chores for the birthday child. Every child will have a chore-free day/year.

Sick Days:
Family Rules: These must always be followed regardless of how one is feeling.

Chores: To be exempted from a chore, the child must be running a fever of 101 degrees or higher. However, two sick days are awarded to each child per quarter. Sick days CAN be carried over to the proceeding quarters.

Vacations: Mom will work out individual chores and school assignments during vacations. Family rules must be followed during all vacations.

In the midst of a busy day including Katyana’s 14th birthday, Ethan and I found ourselves bored in the van and early to basketball practice with pouring rain all around us (Katyana, of course, had her nose in a book and Sydney was off dancing).

I started doodling on the windows of the van from our warm breath against the bitter cold outside. Ethan quickly joined in and I taught him the little tricks I knew from my childhood.

I turned and talked to Katyana and turned around and Ethan had drawn me this.


I love you, too, Ethan.



I went down memory lane and pulled my favorite (online) pictures of Katyana and made them into collages to share with her how she’s grown through the years. It was so time-consuming but precious. I cannot believe God has given me the gift to watch a young child blossom into a young woman.


These collages are for you.

2002: Katyana at the age of 3

2002: Katyana at the age of 3

2003: Katyana at the age of 4.

2003: Katyana at the age of 4.

2004: Katyana at the age of 5.

2004: Katyana at the age of 5.

2005: Katyana at the age of 6.

2005: Katyana at the age of 6.

2006: Katyana at the age of 7

2006: Katyana at the age of 7

2007: Katyana, at the age of 8.

2007: Katyana, at the age of 8.

2008: Katyana at the age of 9.

2008: Katyana at the age of 9.

2009: Katyana at the age of 10.

2009: Katyana at the age of 10.

2010: Katyana at the age of 11.

2010: Katyana at the age of 11.

2011: Katyana at the age of 12.

2011: Katyana at the age of 12.

2012: Katyana at the age of 13.

2012: Katyana at the age of 13.

Katyana, I love you. I am so glad God has allowed me to be your mom… through the good and through the bad.

An Irish Prayer

May God give you…
For every storm, a rainbow,
For every tear, a smile,
For every care, a promise,
And a blessing in each trial.
For every problem life sends,
A faithful friend to share,
For every sigh, a sweet song,
And an answer for each prayer.

I pray you awake tomorrow on day of your birth and embrace all that being 14 has for you. May you feel God’s presence and love tomorrow and forever. And may you feel mine.

Happy 14th Birthday, daughter forever of mine!

Love, Mommy











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