Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Next Chapter

As we close out this year of 2014 it causes one to reflect back over the year.  I have to say that the year has been an interesting one.  We started off with our oldest being in remission and celebrating her 14th birthday. Oh how thankful we were to see that day! It continued on with doctor appointments, check-ups, three of us being sick with bronchitis and the news of the passing of a very sweet person that I had barely begun to know.  We also got the news that Grace's wish to go to Paris was going to come true and we began the process for the trip.  We celebrated birthdays, our anniversary and went on our family vacation to Washington DC.  We faced the grief as the one year day of the loss of our baby Quinn came around in June.  What an emotional time for me!  I just tried to stay busy, cleaning out each room of our house helped, but also served as a reminder of what we were missing. Of course thinking of him brought on the memories of our August and Kate. Each loss was different and affected me much more than the one before. I can't help but think of them as this year comes to an end and a new begins. August would be turning 4, Kate 3 and Quinn would have been celebrating his first birthday on January 5th.

As this past summer went by, the girls and I did lots of things and checked stuff off of our summer bucket list. We continued to make arrangements for our trip and then the next thing you know school was starting back. I struggled with some health issues of my own. After lots of bloodwork and test I am on some medicine that will hopefully help me.  Grace began her high school years as a freshman and Caroline started the 3rd grade.  This year for school has not been easy, there have been some ups and downs, but we have made it almost half way and plan to give it our best to finish up. We made it to Paris in October and it was such an amazing adventure! (Of course, you can read about that in my Paris blog series)

We finished out 2014 with the Make-A-Wish walk, Thanksgiving and Christmas. We got the joy of surprising our girls with a trip to Disney World for Christmas, (I can hardly wait until spring).  Our  youngest gave us a health scare right before Thanksgiving, but after two seperate test we got the news just last night everything was perfectly normal. What a blessing!!

We plan to ring in the New Year as we always do, on the altar at church giving thanks for the year that has passed and praying for the year to come. We have lots planned for 2015. Our Disney trip which thank the Lord is completely paid for. God truly helped me over the last two and a half years to save up the money to cover the entire cost of the trip. It is such a good feeling to know that we will not owe anything on it after we get back. One of the best parts is that we will not be dipping into our family vacation fund, so that means we will get two or maybe three vacations next year. I am thinking a few days at the beach and a few in the mountains would be really nice.  

I think of each new year like a chapter in a book. The book is our life and each chapter represents each year of our lives. Some people are just beginning and some consider their books novels, because they are so long. Our piano teachers mother has the longest book I know, as she has 99 and a half chapters. I can only imagine all the amazing things she has seen and done.Some chapters contain mostly sadness, sorrow and tragedy. Some contain mostly happiness, love and joy. As a whole I think each chapter contains a little of it all. I believe that each year is full of these type of moments, good or bad they are with us and will always be written into our lives. We must take each part of it, no matter what it is and use it to help not only ourselves, but also others.

I am sure that 2015 will be as interesting as all the others that have passed. It will mean 10 years of marriage for us, who would ever have guessed we would make it this far. I am praying for the Lord to not only bless us, but all our family, friends and all who read this blog. Happy New Year and may 2015 be the best year ever for y'all!!

"That's my 'two-cents worth', what's yours?"

Our trip of a Lifetime:Part 2

On day 2 of our Paris trip we went on a tour of the city which included a tour of Notre Dame Cathedral and a short guided tour of The Lourve. 

The city was amazing and there was so much to see. Notre Dame was so quiet and peaceful just as one would imagine an 850 year old church to be.  During our tour we were told that Victor Hugo was told by his wife to stay in their home and finish writing his novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The church itself was in need of repair and a portion of the money from the novels sale went to the restoration of the Cathedral.  While there we had the opputrunity to hear the bells of the church ring, it was a beautiful sound. We also unfortunately had our first encounter with pick pockets. Thankfully we did not lose anything and were able to learn how they operated. It was very sad to see young children and teenagers trying to steal from people.  I felt sorry that they had to grow up as criminals and that is the only life they most likely will ever know.





After our stop at Notre Dame, we continued on with our tour of the city. We saw The Opera House Napoleon had built special for him, but never even went to. We also saw Les Invalides, which was once a hosptial and is now the burial place of Napoleon, or so they say. The story goes that when Napoleon's body was returned to France by Great Britian that they were only allowed to view the remains for two to three minutes, at which point they agreed it was Napoleon. That finding is still up for debate. We also got to make a quick stop at a picture perfect spot of the Eiffel Tower. It was a cloudy day, but the pictures still came out great.

We stopped off at The Lourve for a short guided tour. Our guide informed us that at any time only 10% of the art was displayed and we would be seeing about 2-3% of that 10.  The museum was huge and would take days to go through in its entirety. Our tour took us to see The Venus de Milo, Winged Victory, and of course the Mona Lisa.  My 8 year old informed me that she did not think that Mona Lisa was a very pretty lady, after seeing her in person I have to agree, but still there was something about her that was intriquing, maybe it was her smile.   We also saw the painting of The Marriage at Cana. This was taking from Italy during WWII, cut in half for transport and brought to France.  Several years later it was agreed that the painting would be returned to Italy, but after some consideration it was decided to leave it in Paris. There was a lot of concern about the damage that may be done in cutting it in half again. 


All in all our second day of the trip was very interesting and we ended up eating supper at McDonalds.  I have to say the fries are not as good as here, but the chicken nuggets  acutally tasted  better.  After supper we did some shopping and stayed up late, of course we were still on American time, so our internal clocks were way off.  We slept in the next day and took our first ride on the metro system. I was very crowded, but much quicker than walking. We decided on our third day we would take a river tour of the city, oh what an adventure that was.

To be continued......

Friday, December 26, 2014

Our Trip of a Lifetime: Part 1

So by now I'm sure y'all have read my Make-A-Wish journey blog and are just absolutely dying to find out how our trip to Paris went? It was such an amazing journey that there is no way I can do it justice in just one Saturday morning blog post, so, I will be writing a whole series on Our Trip of a Lifetime. I mean I wouldn't want to take a chance on leaving out any little detail about Paris!!

First off MAW arranged for us to be picked up in a limo to be taking to the airport for our first flight. I had never been in a limo before and my first thought was swanky!! Anyway, we had the joy of experiencing the new security for airports. My poor husband had to go through that screening thing that sees you naked, but the kids and me just had to do the regular metal detector. I laughed at him, he did not think it was funny. We boarded the small plane that would fly us to Charlotte NC, the kids had never flown and they thought it was so cool.

When we arrived in Charlotte, my sister-in-law was already waiting for us and was so excited about the trip. We didn't have long to wait until we were on the plane and headed across an entire ocean to another continent and might I add another world, (at least it felt that way).  After many hours on the plane we finally landed in Paris!!! The attendants and pilots were so super nice and the girls even got to sit in the pilots seat and pretend to fly the plane!! There was also a flight marshall on board and whoever they were, we never saw them, left both girls a flight marshall's pin. We had a car to meet us and take us to the Montparnasse in Paris, but he drove us around the city on the way and stopped at the Sacre Coeur church in the Montmartre section of Paris. What a beautiful spot to watch the sunrise over the city.

After checking into our hotel, we rested for a bit and then ventured out into the city. We ask one of the locals how long it would take to walk to the Eiffel Tower and was told 20 minutes. We learned that French time is not the same as American time, that 20 minute walk took in fact one hour. The lesson of the day, learn to use the metro, it is a much faster way of travel. Of course the walk provided us with some time to see some of the city and a chance to enjoy the beautiful 70 degree weather, which we would not see again our entire time there.

We waited in line about an hour to go into the tower, my oldest daughter and sis-in-law only went to the second floor, but me, my hubby and my youngest went all the way to the top. That was a height of 280 meters or about 984 feet.  Let me just say that the view from the top was amazing!!! You could see the entire city and it was beautiful!

As we thought about that long walk back, my sis-in-law said no way, we are taking a taxi and I am paying. It was fun to take the taxi, but not something I wanted to repeat on that trip. We had pizza that night for supper and then back to the rooms for an early day on Monday.

......To be continued! 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Family Chirstmases

As I was sitting here in the glow of the Christmas tree lights, drinking my coffee and checking out that box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts that my wonderful friend brought me yesterday, I started thinking about my day and what all needed to be done. I remembered that we have one of our first family get togethers of this Christmas season tonight. Praise the Lord it is at a local restaurant so there will be no cooking or clean up for me. (I love it when that happens!) Anyway, I started thinking about how our family all use to get together at my Grandmothers house every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas. All of the Aunts, Uncles and cousins would show up ready to eat and visit for a while. It eventually got to the point were my Grandmother just couldn't do both holidays so everyone started having Thanksgiving at their own house, but we still went to Grandma's for Christmas.  I remember how exciting it was to see everyone and hear all about what had been going on and that had happened to them.  The food was always so good and everyone worked together to make the meal a success. Then my Grandma got sick and was not able to have Christmas at her house. That was sad for me, but everyone would still stop by and visit just because it was Christmas.  On December 18, 2000 my Grandma passed away and we did not have any Christmas gatherings for a few years. Some of the family decided they wanted to try and get as many of us together as possible so my cousin opened her home to us and we started having Christmas together again.  It was so nice to see everyone. It seemed that we had all grown apart as I grew older. I understand that people get married, have children, move away and it makes life more "complicated", but I always looked forward to our family gathering.  Years have passed, we have many new people that have joined the family, some by marriage and some by birth. In fact I have a brand new baby cousin that was just born one week ago today. I have only seen pictures of her, but she is very cute. I was hoping to see her tonight, but the doctor does not want her out so soon with all the germs that are running about.  I am not sure how many people will be there tonight. My Aunts and Uncles are all getting older and not able to travel like they once did. Some people have other get togethers to go to and some people are having to work. I do look forward to seeing the ones that are able to be there. I think we should all try to see each other at least once a year. We have to face the fact that there will come a time when not many of us (the original set) will be left. I wonder if our children will still get together? Will the cousins even know each other anymore?  Will there be any of the Hicks family that will still be together? I certainly hope so! I know that we have not always seen eye to eye. There have been struggles and squabbles as all families have, but we have always risen above them to remain a family and I hope for the sake of my children we always will.

"That's my 'two-cents worth' what's yours?"

Saturday, December 13, 2014

O Christmas Tree

One of my fondest memories of childhood is putting up our Christmas tree. I always love adding the ornaments and looking at each one, trying to remember where they came from. Still today it is one of my favorite parts of the Christmas season. We have this little artificial tree, I call it my Charlie Brown tree. We like to think of our tree as more than just  a Christmas tree, it is more like a Memory tree. Our tree is somewhat like a scrapbook of my life from my childhood to now.  On our tree hangs an assortment of ornaments. Some of them that were my mothers and others that belonged to my grandparents.  A few have been giving to me my family and friends over the years and I even have some from my years as a pre-school teacher.  I have ornaments from vacations we have taken and some to commerate special events in our lives.  They are all precious to me, but the most precious are those made by my children.  I look at each individaul ornament that they have made and I can remember how they were at that age. Our children grow up fast and don't stay with us forever, which makes these little keepsakes all the more imporant to me.

I want to share our story, so let me take you on a tour of our memory tree.

Of course there are the ornaments for each one of our babies in Heaven. These were giving to us by others, but what a special way to represent our babies and their importance to our family.



Then I have the button ornament that my step-daughter made for me. It is not the only one she has made and each of them is special to me.

When I was a child I remember that every year McDonalds gave out ornaments in their happy meals and I still have mine. I love my Flounder and Sebastion from The Little Mermaid movie.

I love the ones that my Caroline made for me at school and at church. There are a lot of them and each one reminds me of a time in life that we have shared together

One of my favorites is the one Grace made last year to celebrate being in remission from cancer. Praise the Lord for that!!!

I especially love the bell and candy cane that belonged to both of my grandmothers.  I miss them both so much and each time I place their ornaments on the tree I always think of them.

I also have an apple ornament I made when I was in first or second grade in school. I don't really remember making it, but when I see it I think back to my school days.

I also have the Smores commerating our first Christmas as a married couple and the fact that I was pregnant with Caroline that year.  What a year of changes that was!!!

The reindeer ornament that my Grandfather gave me just one year before he passed away. I will forever cherish that reindeer.

My Star Teacher ornament giving to me by a student about 13 years ago. I still remember the student that gave it to me and I often wonder where he is now.

There are the handprint snowman family ornaments that my grandchildren made and gave to us just last year. I look forward to seeing how much they grow in the years to come.


Last but not least there is the nail ornament giving to me several Christmases ago by my cousin Amanda. The nail is to remind us that our Lord Jesus was born to die for our sins. May this be something we remember always.

It is not the biggest, fullest or fanciest tree around, but we think it is the best.

"That's my 'two-cents worth', what's yours?"


Forgiving and Forgetting

All my life I have heard the old saying, "You just got to forgive and forget". As a child it never occurred to me exactly what that meant, but as an adult I have had all to much experience with it. I would love to know who came up with that idea. I mean it has got to be one of the most impossible things in the world to do. I find the forgiving part is not so hard. Sometimes people do things and they do not even realize that they have hurt you. You can not expect someone to understand why you are upset when they don't even know what they have done.At other times though, people set out to hurt you intentionally, or in the south we would say, "They did that on purpose!".  Those are the times when you have to decide who is going to be the bigger person and do the forgiving. I find that if you don't forgive and just continue to let it bother you, it will only end up hurting you in the end.  I know a lady, she is one of those people who have let everything in life bother her, one of those who will just never forgive . She is one of the most bitter people I have ever meet. She just gives off such a negative vibe all the time and never has a kind word to say about anybody or anything. I really believe if she would just forgive all the nonsense she is hanging on to, she would be a better human being.

That being said, let's move on the hard part, the forgetting.  I find this the most difficult thing to do. Every time I see the person that has hurt me/done something to me, I always remember what they did.  It is just the first thing that pops in my head. This applies to those who hurt on purpose mostly, but even some who hurt with words not meaning too. There have been lots who have hurt me in many different ways and when I see them it is like I automatically think of what they did. I guess the human brain tends to draw out the bad. Why? Maybe because that bad  was something so hurtful to us.

I was talking with my husband about this the other day and he just brought up about Jesus on the cross and what his words were about those crucifying him.  In Luke 23:24a it says, "Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." . My response was," Yea, but Jesus was a perfect man and I am no where near a perfect woman.".   As a Christian I know that I am to be like Jesus in all my doings. I am to ask myself in each situation what would my Lord do at this time. I strive to do better and try to think of good times I have had with those who hurt me, but it is not easy. The devil uses all our "memories" against us so we can never move forward in our lives and our Christian service. I pray the Lord makes me more like him in this area and all areas of my life. 

"That's my 'two cents worth', what's yours?"

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Who am I?

It came to my attention the other night as I was praying at church, that I carry a lot of titles. You might wonder how did that thought occur to me in prayer?  I was praying that the Lord would help me in all the areas of my life and I started to list those off and I was amazed at all the different titles I carry. So, I decided to write this post on that subject, to take a look at each of those titles and how important each one is.

1. I am a Christian: The word Christian means, "to be Christ like".  I know that I will never be perfect as Christ was, but I am to live my life in a way that would be pleasing in his eyes.  I should not strive to please the people of this world, but should do all that I can to please my Lord in Heaven. 

2. I am a wife: I love being a wife. I enjoy the companionship that my husband and I share. We look after one another and he takes very good care of me. I try to make sure that I fit the biblical view of wife by being a submissive one. That in no way means I am a door mat, as so many "liberated" women of today think. It simply means that we are together in our marriage and that I show him the respect due him. He is good to me, so in return I am good to him. Marriage is not 50/50 as I have been told all my life, but 100/100. You both have to give all of yourselves to make it work.

3. I am a mother: The most rewarding title I bear is that of mother.  I feel so blessed to be the mother of 5 precious children.  I have only gotten the chance to hold and love two of them, the other three passed away during pregnancy, but each of them is precious to me and loved tremendously. Am I always perfect at this job, no way, but I do try my best. I think I might have learned a few things over the last almost 15 years of being a mother, but I still have many things to experience. Motherhood is very difficult, but the rewards are amazing.

4. I am a daughter: I guess being the baby of my family and the only girl kind of makes me special. I am normally the one my parents turn to if they need something. I love helping them out, but sometimes it can be extremely difficult.  I am learning lots of new things as they get older, like Medicare enrollment for one thing. I mean why does it have to be so stinking difficult to sign up for government insurance? I think the answer to that question is in the question. (Government)  I am glad that I get to be there to help them when they need me. I remember telling them once that they had better be nice to me, I was going to be picking their nursing home. (HaHaHa!)

5. I am a sister: I most likely have two of the meanest brothers this side of the Atlantic Ocean. They used to torture me and just be flat out evil when I was a little girl. They are eight and six years older than me and I was an unwelcome addition to their family.  We get along really well now and I am thankful that I get to be their sister, even if they do drive me batty at times. I do wish that I would have been able to have a sister growing up, but that just was not meant to be. Thankfully God gave me two wonderful sister-in-laws to fill that empty space that I had.

6.I am a Daughter-in-law: I know that everyone reading this with in-laws knows that sometimes it is not so easy to get along with them. They can be very judgmental and give you a really hard time. Sometimes the things they say can be hurtful and you just have to walk away.  I know that feeling, but still you do have times when you get along and everything is well. Enjoy those times, they can be few and far between. 

7. I am a friend: I try to always be there when my friends need me. It may be just a simple text with something on their minds or a long phone call.  The Bible says in  Proverbs 18:24a (KJV), "A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly:....".  I try to be friendly to everyone. There are days that I just don't feel it and let's be honest, there are some people you just have a hard time being friendly to. I still try to make the effort even if they do not, the bad will be on them not me. 

8. I am Tink: This is a title I carry that means so much to me. I have this little girl that came into my life a little of two years ago. She stays with me while her mommy works and has been since she was about 10 weeks old. She calls me Tink. She says I am her Tink and she loves me. I would never have thought it possible to love a child that was not mine as much as my own, but I do. She is a constant source of laughter and always keeps me on my toes. I do not know what I would do without her.

9. I am an American: This title is one that I love. Oh how thankful I am that my ancestors decided so many years ago to come to this new land.  I think of them often and the long voyage across the ocean. I wonder how difficult it must have been and how they felt leaving their homelands behind.  I am also extremely grateful that when they arrived here they went south instead of north. I like my warm weather and am not cut out for winter.   Last month we had the opportunity to travel to the Normandy part of France. It was so amazing to see that part of the world. It was even more amazing to know that I have ancestors who left there and went to England many centuries ago. My sister-in-law traveled to London and was able to bring me back a small sample of English soil. I almost cried, I had a piece of my mother land. It made me feel very even more connected to my ancestry. I am glad to know where I came from, but even more glad to live in America. She may not always do what is right, but she is home and always will be.

10. I am Me: All these things combine together to make me the unique, wonderful and special person that I am today. Each person involved in these titles of me have helped to shape who I am.  I pray each day that I am the best at each of these I can be and that I don't allow my failures to dictate who I am.

There is a title that I no longer carry, but miss terribly and that is grand daughter.  All of my grandparents have passed away and I miss each of them something awful.  I miss their encouragement and advice. I miss all the stories they used to tell.  I miss just being around them and learning from them.  I miss kisses on the jaw and hugs that were always squeezy. I miss times of talking and of just sitting in the quiet. Cherish every moment you have with those you love because one day it will just be memories that you have.

"That's my 'two-cents worth', what's yours?"

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The woman I will never be (again)

I am sure y'all are wondering what I mean by the woman I will never be (again). I will just go ahead and tell you she is who I once was, but will never be "again".  She is the woman who as a child always thought everything would be right with the world. She is the woman who as a teenager made her list of mistakes, dated way too many frogs, but still felt that all would work out for her.  Let me go ahead and confess to you that girl was a fool as so many of us are during our early years.

As I look back over my past mistakes and failures I wonder how in the world I ever made it this far. Of course, the answer to that question is obvious, it was God. The Lord looked after me even when I was doing stupid things and keep me safe to bring me to this point.  It is not just the mistakes I have made that have changed me, but also the circumstances of life.  I do not understand it all and I most likely never will.  It is unreasonable to believe that a person could go through so many tragic events in life and not be changed. 

Each morning as I look in the mirror I see a woman who of course is not the young girl she used to be. Time has changed my appearance as it does to all of us. I realize that each little crinkle around my eyes, each little laugh line represents a time in my life when I was smiling and laughing. Those are good memories for me and I am trying to learn to embrace that. Trust me, getting older is not easy.

It is not just my physical appearance in the mirror that has changed, when I look into my own eyes I see the difference inside. I would like to say that life has made me a more gentle person, but that is not always true. The world has made me cynical to others. I often wonder if they are truthful about their lives or are they just looking for a quick hand out.  Maybe it is just that the world itselfs has gotten so much worse, I am not sure, but I would say that life has made me "hard". 

The old saying of "when life hands you lemons make lemonade", sounds good, but is often an unreasonable request. I prefer the, "Life dealt me a hand and now I have to play it." saying.  I know that there have been more good times than bad, but the bad just sticks out more. It is most likely just because their bad that causes this.

There are still times that life surprises me.  A quick message, call or text from a friend to say they are thinking of me. A card or package in the mail to show that someone cares. These are the times that remind me that I still have a capacity to be compassionate. That when I feel the nudging from the Lord to send someone a text or card, that means they are in need. I know that if I pray and seek his will, God will help me to be a little more like my old self each day.  I know I will never be that cockeyed optimist I once was, "life" has made certain of that,  but I can still live each day trying to find the beauty and love around me and looking for ways to show God's love to others in this world.

                                              "That's my 'two-cents worth', what's yours?"

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Our Make-A-Wish Journey

Most of you know that last August our oldest daughter was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a type of blood cancer that attacks the lymphatic system of the body, including the spleen and bone marrow. Her cancer was stage 3s when they found it, the "s" meaning it was in her spleen, only slightly.  Her prognosis was very good and she started her first round of chemo that same month.  I also gave her name to the Make-A-Wish foundation not knowing if she would even get approved. Well, she did and last October they came out to our house to discuss the process and her wish.  My daughter ask me what should I wish for and I told her the one thing she wanted most in the world. So, she wished for a trip to Paris. Yes, you read that right, Paris. As in Paris France, all the way across the ocean on another continent Paris. I figured that it would never happen and that she would get her back up wish. That one was to go to Hawaii and take surfing lessons with Bethany Hamilton (my girls both just love her). Anyway, Make-A-Wish explained to us that it could take up to 18 months to get the final confirmation for the trip and to actually get to go.

In March of this year they called us to confirm that the trip had been granted and they were working out the details. Two weeks later we had the money to take care of our passports and got our part of the details started. Our passports arrived in July and we got the final notice that we were heading to Paris in October. Exactly one year after their first visit to our home we were off and running to Paris. When they called to tell us they were as surprised by how quickly it all came together as we were. In fact the volunteer we spoke to, told us it hardly ever happens that fast and we had some one much higher working for us. Yes, we did!

I must admit I was  a little nervous traveling internationally. It was not the flight or anything that made me feel that way, it was the state of the world itself. I mean we are dealing with terrorist threats, ISIS be-headings and Ebola.  I just had to put my worry aside and depend on the Lord to look after us.  I was driving to pick up my kids from school one day right before the trip and I was praying about the whole situation. I really needed the Lord to give me some peace and right in the middle of my prayer it was as if God had spoken right out loud to me. I heard him say, "Did you ever stop to think I may be sending you now because it is going to get so much worse later on and I want you to be able to do this?".  To hear the still small voice of God speaking to me made me stop and look at it all different and it gave me such peace about our trip.

Anyway, the trip was awesome and I am so glad we had this amazing opportunity. I hate the circumstances we got it through. No parent would ever want to get something like this because of your child being sick, but I am thankful to Make-A-Wish and other organizations like them that do all they can to make a child's ultimate wish come true.

I would ask you right now if you have thought about donating to them and haven't or have never thought about it at all, please reconsider.  My daughter is doing great and goes back for her year check-up this month, but this trip meant the world to her.  There are so many other children that a wish would mean everything to them and their families.  You can call any Make-A-Wish organization around the world, you can not only donate money, but also your time to help other wish families like ours.

"That's my 'two-cents worth', what's yours?"