Friday, May 4, 2012

What Makes a Christian Any Different From Anybody Else?

What makes a Christian Any Different From Anybody Else?

I love the joy nature brings to me. I love the way the breeze sweeps the hair off my shoulders as I meditate on the flowers as they dance with the tall blades of grass. At that moment and time, I am not a part of this mortal world. Instead, I am a friend to the tulips and daisies as we lay imbedded in a soft, green field of comfort. There are no interruptions or disasters to be bothered with. There is no time to rush me as quick as yesterday and tomorrow come to an end. I can feel the presence of the subtle wind as it draws near my face in love and kindness. I can breath. I am finally free of worries. I begin to think of the flowers. Their confidence inspires me to be a better person. Someone that is strong for each day. I wish I were like them. They are lovely and beautiful. They have been created with perfection and detail. They are a masterpiece created by an adored artist. Is it possible that God, Himself, has created these flowers to resemble his very creation of His children? To present themselves with simplicity and grace. Though they are rooted in the dirt, they must trust in God to give them the proper nutrients for their kind so that they are able to grow a strong stem to confide from. Their trust reminds me of the Faith that we, too, must have as Christians. God expects us to believe in His Word. Have faith in His love for us. Without the faith and trust of the guidance of God, our petals will turn brown. We will begin to die as quick as death comes knocking at our door. To be a Christian requires us to live as Jesus did. We must live in acceptance of harsh times. We must learn to grow from our struggles. We must have patience like the wind and be humble like the flowers. I am not better than any one. But, I am one with God. I pray that the only difference seen in me from someone else‘s eyes, who has yet to grab hold of God’s hand, is the light of His presence inside me. That is my only claim of difference. And I, for one, am going to let Him shine as bright as day in hope that someone may turn to Him for guidance and support.
-Crissie Ponder

*I wrote this for an online article contest for a scholarship application back in 2007.  I re-read it today and thought I would share it with you.  :)

Let's Breathe, Live, and Have Thanks...

 "For I am just the clay on the potter’s wheel. I am messy and hard to handle. But when I am finally centered, I will grow to be something beautiful."  - Crissie 

Yes, if you are wondering.... I totally made that bowl!!!!  Go, me!  I am very proud of it!  ;-)

Hello, everyone!  I was looking through some of my old writings I've done in the past... and thought that I would share them.  Feel free to enjoy or not... this is an old journal entry from 2006 (not edited):

"wow. i feel so confused right now. it's awkward to say but i think i'm confused of all my confusion, as weird as that may sound. i'm at a point in my life where i'm choosing which doors to open. i'm afraid to open the wrong door. what if it's not the right one or what if i make a mistake and cause a conflict in mine or someone else's path through life. as i have lived these past days i feel like i have learned so much about "life" and the importance of realization. does anyone just take the time to enjoy each breath they take? the other day i stood in the front of the store at work, i watched this little old man walking down the isle with his walker. i watched and interested my time in this man on how he took his time to get to where he was going. i know it seemed about five minutes went passed as he made his way to get what he needed and when he finally got there, he actually took some time to get what he needed and didn't rush. as i watched him walk to the front i caught a glimpse in his eyes and they were the sweetest eyes and most gentle smile i have ever seen. time just stopped and there were no worries, there was just me and this little old man standing there with smiles on our faces. and now that i think of it i just wonder how life would be if everyone had a walker...even for just a day. i think that people would actually begin to enjoy what they have and know where they came from and what they had to go through to get there. and maybe people would take the time to just stand outside for a fraction of the day and breath. close their eyes and smell the fresh air and feel the wind against their cheeks as their hair blows in the wind. if only everyone could appreciate the beautiful gift of life God has given and just take it in and enjoy the great masterpiece of life and be thankful, then i think that satisfaction would then be in the air.
i guess what this all comes down to is that i don't want to get so carried away with life's traffic that i forget all the special things that i should take advantage of. i should enjoy it and cherish it like there's no tomorrow. which is very important as i remember the other day helping this elderly woman at the store get some cokes. i remember everything about her. she had on this old floral dress that looked worn but elegant. she was shorter than me and i remember her not having any teeth and i just thought that was the most precious looking woman ever. but as i began to speak with her i actually got to know her and her life situation. she had explained to me how she had just finished up buying a birthday gift for her grandchild. she was so kind as she told me how she didn't exactly have the money to buy this stuff for them but she still did because she loved the joy it brought to them and to herself as well. as i stood and spoke to her about it, i mentioned that it's a very thoughtful thing for her in her position and i'm sure that they will one day appreciate everything that she has given to them as well as her love. which at this point lead her to explain to me the situation she was in. she had recently been diagnosed with a deadly disease and she wasn't getting any better and she just wanted to do all she could to be able to spend time with her family and really cherish the moments. at that time she began to cry and i was in tears as well and i walked around the counter and gave her a hug. that hug was the best hug that i have ever gotten. as she squeezed me and cried, i could just feel her pain and worry. i tried to comfort her by letting her know that God will take care of everything and he will make sure everything is perfect when that time comes and although it may not seem like it at the time but i'm sure in his eyes and his wonderful mind he knows that everything will work out to be fine.
when i left work that night i couldn't believe the change that woman gave me for the better. she made me think about how delicate life can be and how everyone should take advantage of what they have before it's too late. that's why i believe that everyone should just take some time out of the their busy days and just breath and feel each inhalation and exhalation...and just breath." -6-4-06.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Chantel Presents on C91.3FM Saturdays 10am till 2pm: A STORY OF SACRIFICE, LOVE AND THE FUTURE.

Hey, everyone!  Chantel Ferguson is a wonderful person who has a mommy radio show in Sydney, Australia.  She was touched by Landon's photo and wanted to talk to me about me, Andy, and Landon. 
It is just a little bit about us and what happened in my own live words.  :)

Chantel Presents on C91.3FM Saturdays 10am till 2pm: A STORY OF SACRIFICE, LOVE AND THE FUTURE.: Sometimes a Picture really does say a thousand words. With over 100,000 hits on Facebook. There is an amazing story in the power of t...

Monday, February 20, 2012

One Year Later....... (But Just Like Any Other Day........)

Well, it's almost midnight and today was the day Andy officially 'died' one year ago.  It's been a crazy year but a fast one.  It honestly doesn't even seem like it has been one whole year since Andy's passing.
It has truly been such a blessing to have so many people to let me know they are thinking of me and Landon and all of Andy's family during all this time when I am having extra thoughts of everything bad I never thought would happen.

I think the worst part of this whole 'one year mark' is the actual work up to it.  I noticed I was stressing myself out three weeks before the days of everything because I wasn't sure how I would react.  I would say that the last month was the most emotional I have been in a while.  It's almost like a roller coaster.  It hits me randomly even when there are no days that stand out... because what some don't understand is that just because it is the one year mark... it doesn't mean that this day is any harder than the rest of the days I go through without Andy.  I miss him every day... not just today.

Though today (February 19th) was the day, one year ago, that Andy died... to me, the worst day was the 14th.  On Valentine's Day.  That was the day Andy was shot.  That was the day I got a phone call about it.  That was the day the doctors told me Andy was brain dead and there was nothing they could do.  That was the day my heart nearly stopped beating.  I prayed more that day than I ever prayed in my entire life.  The following 5 days after that were also really difficult because of the constant frustration with the different things going on with Andy and the doctors and just everything... the 19th, however, was the day I came to peace with the fact that Andy really may not make it through this.  There really might not be a miracle to happen if the machines were turned off.  I was able to prepare myself through devotion and prayer for that moment of being at peace about how the outcome of things might be.  So... though it sounds crazy... but 5 days ago was my hardest day to deal with.  Today was just the day that I let go... hardest thing I ever had to do.

But, it is passed midnight now so I think I can officially say that I made it through the first year.  And just like the photo up above... I know that Andy will always be a huge part in helping me get through life...
Even though he is not here with me and Landon physically, I know that he will always be carrying us and watching over us.  We love you, babylove.  You are forever a part of us... and forever we will love you and miss you always.  <3

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Landon's Photo

Well, once again... I am up way too late due to me just not wanting to go to bed yet.  I seriously think something is wrong with me.  Andy always tried to push me to go to bed by at least 10-10:30... (I used to fuss on him for going to bed without me when I was finishing up my school work... lol.  I was being silly I suppose!  lol... poor andy pandy... always having to put up with my late nights and winey butt!)  However, now I stay up way way way too late... I think I just ... idk....... maybe it's just sleepless and restless nights.  Who knows... but probably part of what sam and I call === widow(er)'s curse.  

So.... I have been blown away once again by Landon's picture being spread viral on the web.  I can't believe that it was on national news the other night... wow.  I was thinking... how come I didn't know about my baby being on the national news??????  lol.  Hmmmmm...... (don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing)
ANYWAYS!  I was actually checking my email tonight and noticed I had received an email from Marcia, the photographer, letting me know she permitted them to use it and that it was going to be on the news that night.  I had given Marcia permission a long time ago to permit anyone to post it... so that is why she agreed that it was fine... which is fine with me.  :)
I mean, I kinda wish they had called me too... but no biggie considering it is now viral on the internet... so, really... what's the difference right?!  I think if it is being seen as a way to get a message across to people... then I am proud to have had it taken and for so many to view it and share it.  Hopefully it at least brings more awareness to our men and women fighting overseas and having to leave their families here at home to worry about them and miss them constantly...

Honestly, I can't say much because before I knew Andy... I had no clue about all the different branches of military and what was even going on in the world.  All I cared about was me and my school work and figuring out what the heck I wanted to do in life.  The thought of our troops being overseas never really crossed my mind.  I never once thought about families losing loved ones or the fact that these boys live in such harsh conditions and go through such traumatic experiences that just any 'civilian' would not and could not even imagine.

Once I met Andy... I slowly learned about how a military life is lived.  I had to miss Andy a lot.  I had to worry about Andy a lot.  I wasn't able to talk to him every single day like I wanted to.  He had deployment.  The intense trainings and duties and work parties... it's just part of it.  I never knew what military was until then.  It was at this point that I began to cherish every moment we had together... because we didn't get much time together at all. 
These boys and girls train hard.  They do not give up.  They do their best.  They are truly the strongest people... both mentally and physically.

Along with my slow growth of living my now and then 'military life'... I never dreamed for Andy to be killed.  Even with Andy in the military and me being a military spouse... I never once stopped and thought about anyone else who may have lost someone close to them.  You know how it goes... you do not believe that something like this is going to happen... until it happens to you.
I actually remember going to a meeting right before this deployment.  I remember being upset and calling Andy about it.  I told him that I wish I didn't even go to that meeting because it is not what I wanted to hear right before him leaving.  Well, it was a meeting based on 'If something happens to your marine...this is what happens and what you need to do to prepare'.  Okay......... yeah....... you kinda get the idea.  It was information like... who would come to your door.  What they would be wearing.  They call when he is still alive... but knock if he is dead.  Do this and that... 'just in case'.
I was thinking... oh my goodness... I am NOT going to 'prepare' myself for a 'just in case' death of my husband.  I don't think so!!!!  That is just asking for something to happen!  Besides, NOTHING was going to happen to MY hubby!  Well...............................yeah.
It. Happened.

ANYWAYS........ my main point of that is that I, too, was someone who never took the time out of my own day and life to really think about the sacrifices being made.  The ULTIMATE sacrifices.  The ones where wives lose their hubbies and hubbies lose their wives.  The ones where children lose their daddy or mommy.  A brother.  A sister.  A child.  .......  I never ever cared about it to a point that I was concerned.  Yes, it was always sad if I heard of something happening, but I am so guilty of not ever reaching out somehow to these families going through these hard times.  And, honestly.... I still haven't gotten to the point of actually 'helping' someone else out who is going through what I went through.  I do think... well, hope and pray... that God will lay it on my heart when the time is right for me to be there for someone... (just like my very good friend Stacy was for me... thank you, Stacy!  :))

Back to the photo..... out of curiosity tonight, I googled the photo of Landon.  I was totally blown away at the amount of web results I received.  I was able to read many wonderful comments!  It is so incredible that this picture has had such a strong impact on SO. MANY. PEOPLE.  That is way cool to me.  :)

However, I want to clarify something very important...
Because I have read some not so nice comments about me apparently thriving for attention, or the fact that some people do kindly comment for us to remember ALL of the sacrifices being made and not just Andy's... I was not so sure about the words that were written beneath the photo on MANY of the websites I went to from recent postings:

"Baby Landon’s Mom wants his story to be known."

I want to definitely clarify that, yes, I do want Landon's photo to be seen because I have seen the impact it has been making on so many people... and if Andy's death is being used in this way... to help others 'remember the fallen' or to say a huge 'thank you' to our troops... then I am going to support the flow of this photograph.  On the other hand, I think that these words can be taken in a not so good way.  I do not care if Andy's 'STORY' is known... I want for the photo to represent 'Ultimate Sacrifice' for representation to ALL MILITARY.  This is not just about me or Landon... and really hope that people see that... which, I think most do!  

This is about the sacrifices that are made by the men and women of our armed forces.  This is about the families who are left behind.  The sweet little children... oh my... all those sweet babies... all those sweet school-age kids... all those amazing teenagers.  All of the children of the men and women who die serving our country.  Every. Single. One.  

It is a fact that those children who actually were close with their mom or dad or step-mom or step-dad... all those children... they are hurting SO BAD.  No... Landon did not get to meet his father.  And, no... Andy did not get to meet his son... which has made me cry a thousand tears... but at least Landon did not have to lose his daddy at 5 years old... or at 10 years old.  It hurts me terribly to know he was never held in his daddy's arms... but I do see Landon as blessed in a since that he did not suffer from a sudden loss.  His loss is going to be much different as he lives his life.  He will grow up already 'dealing' with it... these other children who waved goodbye to their daddy or mommy on deployment day... those are the babies that we for sure need to pray for as well.  Bless their little hearts... 

To sum up (Cause I have GOT to go to bed!), my intentions for this photo is not to give myself nor Landon more attention than anyone else who too goes through this... this is to represent all of our military men and women who willingly put themselves out there and for the families who have loved ones who have given their life, an ultimate sacrifice, for our country.

God bless our troops!  

Also, please pray for those who now suffer from the post-deployment effects.  PTSD... and nightmares... and how they deal with it...  It is a real thing.  Let's not forget about them either.  They are my heroes because, even though they do not tell me anything about what went on, they fought back after my husband was killed.  Thank you, boys.  I love you guys so so much.  You are and will always be mine and Landon's heroes too.  ALWAYS.  <3

"many people will walk in and out of your lives, but your father has left his footprints in your hearts forever"  --- a facebook user (found on facebook under a post of landon's pic... these words hit home for me)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

I hate the words 'Moving On'??? !

So... I was thinking that it is probably time for me to share this part of my life with those of you who like to know what is going on in my life... or just those who are nosy and thinking 'well... isn't it just a little too soon for her to be 'moving on'?'  LOL!  Yeah... anyways.  

I hate that.  I have been dealing with people saying that for a while now.  I am NOT 'moving on'.  There is a guy in my life who I most definitely consider my boyfriend - someone I care about and spend a lot of time with.  He is a wonderful man.  He is a great father to his children.  He is a 'widower' (I hate using the words widow and widower, but I figured I would for an easier description.).  

I have had many more than just a few ask me if I am only with him because he also lost his spouse... And, I know many others probably think the same thing.  I honestly would be lying if I said that I wasn't with him because he lost his wife.  That plays a huge role in why we are even together in the first place.  BUT, there are many other reasons why I am with this man.  Like I mentioned above, he is a wonderful man and a great father.  He is also someone who does understand.  Someone who respects Andy, Landon, and myself.  He likes old, vintage cars and trucks.  He isn't lazy.  He is a helicopter pilot!  (hello?!)  He has a kind heart.  He is a family guy.  He is nice.  He is a romantic.  He is a good decision maker.  He is really good with Landon.  And, seems to me he was an incredible husband to his belated wife.  
Now, in respect to him... I am not going to go into great detail of his life.  But, I will briefly explain to you the circumstances in which we met...

He basically contacted me through facebook after seeing me at one point after Andy died.  He was offering to be a friend.  Someone for me to talk to if I needed to talk to someone who understands because he knows how hard it is.  I took him up on it and, well... here we are today.  
I will say that it was not something I ever even expected to happen.  And if I were to tell you the whole story in detail you might would even look at it, as my aunt once said... ' almost like a fairy tale' (though nothing about Andy nor the death of HIS wife is anything like that of a fairytale... she was simply stating that referring to the way he and I met).  I do not see this as just a coincidence... I see this and think of it as a blessing... and almost as if Andy and his wife had something to do with bringing us together.  That's how cool it is.

My original plan was to wait at least a year before I ever even thought about 'moving on'.  He knew this as well.  However, he has been very patient with me.  He has never once been pushy or anything like that.  He is very understanding.  Even now... if I were to say to him 'we need to slow down'... he would understand in a heart beat.  However, I do not ever really see me saying that.

No, it hasn't been a year just yet... but I have put a lot of thought and time into my decisions and my feelings.
Am I at peace with knowing that I am in a relationship with someone else besides Andy, and do I think that Andy would have an understanding for it?  Absolutely.  

Again, I want to make it very clear that I am not writing this on my blog as a way to hope everyone accepts this or agrees with it.  I simply want to be very open about things when it comes to this sort of thing (there are other things that most definitely should be kept private, but this is something I most definitely want to share with others), and I never want to feel as if I am hiding something!  

We don't know what tomorrow will bring.  We just gotta live each day to the fullest and enjoy every second of it with those we love and care about.  There is no need in hiding your feelings... you and I both know that life is sometimes way too short.  <3

Here's a lil bit of our 'Sambo'...


Where I am at today...

Okay, so my original plan was to write on this blog a lot and as you can see I have only made one post before this one!  I just don't think I was ready to write my thoughts down until now.  I am going to try and start this whole blog thing once again and see where it goes and if it helps me.  I also know that there are a few people out there who love keeping up with me and Landon so this is for you all too.
I was also thinking that this would be a wonderful way to keep everyone 'up-to-date' on me and where I am at in life.  So... here goes...

Landon just turned 10 months old yesterday!  OMG!  Wow... where did the time go???  It doesn't seem like we are less than a month away from the day Andy was shot.  And, I just thought about it... it is exactly a month away, today, from the day we took Andy off life support.  Wow.

Man oh man... this really hasn't been the easiest (almost) year.  I have had so many emotions that I never even imagined having.  I've cried thousands of tears.  I've been angry and mad.  I've kept to myself.  I've dealt with it.  I had a beautiful baby boy!  I've gone to counseling about once a week.  I've enjoyed time with Landon.  I've cried with Landon.  LOL.  I fought symptoms of depression (especially after having Landon).  I've prayed.  I went skydiving?!  I set up a Will.  I've stayed up many nights because I couldn't sleep... or simply just didn't want to go to bed.  I recently just started writing my book.  I met a wonderful man who I have now started 'dating'.  And I have actually 'accepted' things.

Now, when I say 'accepted' things.  I do not mean that I have 'gotten over' Andy.  It simply means that I actually believe that Andy is not coming back.  I have stopped expecting a phone call from Andy.  I don't sit and think about 'how do I wake myself from this terrible dream... cause when I wake up, Andy will be laying next to me, and I can tell him about this craziness of a dream... well, nightmare... I just had!'.  I've realized it's not gonna happen.
I also see things differently now than I did at first.  I've had time to think about things and pray about it and view it in a God-related way.  I now see and understand that it was time for Andy to go... whether it was here in the U.S. or over in Afghanistan.  God knows when we are supposed to die since before we are ever even born.  Therefore, that helps me to think that God put me in Andy's life to help make him happy before that time came.  I watched Andy grow as a person and spiritually since I first started dating him in March 2008.  I never have had a doubt since Andy's death as to whether or not he loved me or whether or not I love him.  Why did God bless me with Landon?  I believe that Landon helped me get through the initial death of Andy.  Because of Landon, I had to be strong.  I think that God will use Landon in life for many great things... just like he used and continues to use Andy.

So, as you can see... I am not 'over' Andy.  I guess you can say I am simply slowly learning to deal with it.  Each person who loses a loved one has a completely different 'grieving process'.  I will never be out of my grieving process.  I will always miss and love Andy.  I do think that I am and will continue to be able to take steps forward in my new chapter of life that I have to begin.  I am going to take it one day at a time.