Every Thursday night, I go over to my Mom’s house to spend the evening with my Mom and sister. Sometimes, like last night we are joined by Cheryl’s daughter Liz. I originally started spending Thursday evenings over there, and many other nights too, when my Dad got sick. After Dad went to live in Heaven, I continued going over on Thursday nights to spend time with Mom and Cheryl. Bob bowls on Thursday nights, so it was just us girls. We have dinner and watch television, or a movie. It’s just our time together.

Now anyone who knows me very well, knows that I like cop shows, you know the good old blood and guts stuff, but Mom and Cheryl don’t go in for that stuff, so the choices in movies are, shall we say…much more tame that my first choice. We watch things like “Kate and Leopold” or “Letters to Juliette”. You know, the basic chick flick. Now at first, I found myself dozing off, but at some point, I started really watching some of the chick flicks, and decided that some of them are pretty good. It’s not that I’m not a romantic, it’s just that I had never really gotten into some of those shows much. I have to say, that it has open up a different world for me…the world of the chick flick.

I still very much like my cop shows, and that is the kind of shows Bob likes too, so I think it has always been a source of relief to him that he didn’t have to watch too many “chick flick” movies. And when we do watch television, we usually watch shows like CSI, Bones, and Criminal Minds; or movies like Red, Die Hard, and Terminator. And that is usually what I prefer, but on Thursday nights, I go over to my Mom’s house, and we three girls sit down to take that all important dose of the medicine called the “chick flick”.

When everything around me is in chaos, and I feel like I am being pulled in several different directions at once, I find the need as I’m sure most of you do, to escape to a place of peace. Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could just fly off to somewhere exotic every time life got a little stressful? Unfortunately for most of us, that isn’t feasible, and well…how many Calgone bubble baths can a person really take? And yet, we can all relate to the woman in the commercial with all the screaming kids, barking dogs, and broken dishes, holding her aching head and begging to be magically taken to a peaceful place where she can be alone.

Sometimes, when life gets too stressful, we really do need to find a place to have some alone time. A great peaceful place can be as simple as a quiet room, just you and a good book…or in my case, my Kindle. Curling up with a good book, especially in the Winter cold, a warm blanket, and a nice fire, can be very soothing to the soul.

The great outdoors is another great place to find a peaceful place. A quiet walk on a trail near my home is so peaceful to me. My husband and I walk almost every day, and when we can be outside, well that’s perfect. We love to hike, and the mountain is the perfect get away without having to go far. Some people, like my cousin Greg and my brother-in-law, Chris, love to fish. Now being on the lake or by a river is quite relaxing to me, but that whole waiting for the fish to bite, not to mention the worm issue, puts fishing in the “I don’t think so” catagory for me, but, that’s what makes people unique. You guys are welcome to the fishing thing…I’ll just soak up the sun, thanks.

When I was a little girl, and still today, one of our family’s favorite things to do was to go up on the mountain for a picnic, and stay there into the evening sitting around the campfire roasting marshmellows and laughing about any funny stories we could think of, and believe me, there were quite a few. This was one of my Dad’s favorite things to do. Just the smell of the fire, and the comfortable companionship of family puts everyone in a relaxed mood. Now you can buy a fire ring to use in your back yard, and many people find that to be a geeat get away. In fact, Bob and I just bought one at the end of the summer, and I look forward to using it this summer.

In the hectic world we live in, if you don’t find a way to unwind, you will find yourself moody and depressed. But if you can unlock the secret to your own peaceful place, you can rejuvenate your spirit, and be ready to take on the world.

Brooke was the daughter of our friends Dani and Nick, and she left us 7 years ago today…far too soon. She was named Brooke Noel because she was born on Christmas Eve. She had just turned 7 years old. She was such a lively child, always filled with grins and giggles. Her laugh was infectious, as was her personality. Everyone who ever met her loved her instantly. That’s just how it was. Funny how some people have that effect on you. Seemingly without even trying they work their way into your heart and there they stay…forever.

Brooke’s grandpa, Edd, owned a bowling alley, and I remember when he was cleaning up at the end of the day, he would let her (and her sisters, brother, and cousins) ride the vacuum cleaner around the room as he vacuumed. I always thought that was the funniest thing. Most kids are, at least somewhat, afraid of the vacuum cleaner. Not those kids. I remember Brooke riding around on that vacuum, and she would have the biggest smile on her face and she couldn’t have been more than 2 or 3. It was like her grandpa gave her the greatest gift ever. Ha Ha Ha…it still makes me laugh to think of it.

Brooke took a special liking to my husband, Bob. When we would come into the bowling alley, she would be waiting to say hello to him. Then she would spend the rest of the evening practically glued to him. I had to play second fiddle. He was her special adopted uncle, and that is just the way it was. I even joked with Dani once that Bob had a girlfriend. She was ready to strangle the girl who would dare try to come between Bob and me. She asked who it was, and I told her it was “that girl over there in the purple.” She didn’t see anyone in purple…until I finally pointed it out to her that Brooke was wearing purple. Then she laughed and laughed. Brooke was the only girl who was allowed to be Bob’s girlfriend…well, other than me…maybe!

Brooke was such a little mother. Dani babysat my grandchildren, and when I would bring them over in the mornings, Josh, my youngest, instantly became her baby. She was in charge!! But that was Brooke’s way in many things. If Cameron or Felicia wanted something they didn’t think their parents would let them have, they would get Brooke to ask. She was just in charge and could usually get her way. Anyone who knew her, knew that about Brooke. She just had a way of wrapping people around her little finger…and you didn’t seem to mind.

I still find it very hard to believe that Brooke has been gone so long. And to this day, I sometimes call Mady, her little sister, Brooke, because they are quite similar. I often wonder who Brooke would have been today, as she was just a 10 months younger than my oldest grandchildren, so it is an age I can relate to. She had such a special way about her, that I can’t help feeling that we have all really missed out. Love you Brooke, and miss you very much.

In a world filled with reasons to rush here and there, we seldom have the time to see what is really important. Most families have no choice but to have two incomes, meaning many parents can’t attend many events that their children are involved in. Children are coming home to an empty house and no supervision. Homework gets pushed to later in the day, especially if parental help is needed at all, because by the time the parents get home, get dinner made, and get started helping with homework, it is almost time for bed.

Where did the day go? And for that matter, when you think about it, the weeks and years seem to fly by. Before we know it, our children are grown up, and we find out that we have missed all those precious years. And the sad thing is that there often isn’t any solution to it. Parents can’t make ends meet without two incomes, and times are tough. And so the important things must once again be pushed to the background, so we can make enough to support our families.

So, is there a solution? Probably not entirely, but if we do our best to find a way to make as many moments as possible, we will find that we aren’t missing out on as much as before. There is a song by George Strait that goes like this, “Life’s not the breaths you take but the moments that take your breath away.” It is about doing your best not to miss the important moments. Make as many games as you can. Go to their concerts. Make the moments you can make, so they know that when you can’t make an event, it isn’t because you don’t want to be there.

I went shopping at Walmart on Saturday, and after loading our groceries into our car, I went to put the cart in the cart station. As usual, there were a number of carts jammed in there in such an unruly manner that the station was half full. I pushed the carts into the proper order, leaving room for lots more carts. All in all, the process took me less than a minute, but if each of us would take a minute to straighten these carts, it makes the job of the people who collect the carts easier, and leaves more room to get the carts out of the parking lot.

Have you ever had your car hit by a cart in the parking lot? Carts that are put in the cart stations are far less likely to be blown across the parking lot and into your car. And yet, all over the parking lot you will see perfectly healthy people who are too lazy to walk their cart to the cart station, so they just leave it beside a car thinking, someone else will put it away. Why is that someone else’s job? Shouldn’t the person who used the cart have the decency to put it away?

Another place that the public could do a better job of doing their part is in the public restroom. Have you ever noticed how after some people wash their hands, they leave water all over the counter, wad up their paper towel and toss it in the direction of the waste basket…usually missing, and walk out leaving a horrible mess that not only has to be cleaned up by some poor soul, but makes it hard for the next patron to even think about going near the sink. It only takes a minute to wipe up any water you spill and make sure your paper towel actually makes it to the waste basket. Is that really so hard?

I guess what I’m saying here, is when did we all become so “special” that we couldn’t “lower” ourselves to clean up our own messes? Most of us were taught to clean up our own messes, but somehow we think that job belongs to someone else. How would we feel if we were that “someone else”? Would we like to clean up some of the messes we leave? I don’t think so. Everyone’s job is easier, if we all just do our part.

Ah, the Super Bowl. The day when even non-football-fans and those who watch just the occassional game, gather together with the die hard fans, pick a team to support, even if it isn’t the one they would normally go for, stuff their faces with Thanksgiving Day sized feasts made up of mostly snacks, and scream like they know what is going on. Those who really don’t want to watch the game, come to the party anyway, for the food and socializing with the other people who really don’t want to watch the game, and laugh every time a “fight” breaks out over a play.

I used to be in the non-football-fan category, but my Dad always liked the Broncos and my husband and I love to go to Denver, so we became the die hard Bronco fans, that like to kind of know how their team is doing, and watch an occasional game, especially if they have a chance at going to the Super Bowl. But, when it comes to the Super Bowl, it doesn’t matter who is playing, we are watching. That all started one year when the Broncos went to the Super Bowl. I believe it was 1987. And we have not missed a Super Bowl since. We get on the game boards, hoping for a win, which has eluded us so far, but we are, never the less, hopeful for this year. We yell and scream at the refs, and of course when our team get a touchdown, you might not want to be too close, or plugging your ears would also be good, because we will be screaming.

Yes, the Super Bowl brings friends and football enemies together to fight it out for the championship. It is a very unique day in our year…or maybe, just the mid-Winter, un-holiday party opportunity!! And since my team isn’t playing, my daughter loves the Packers, and my grandson loves the Steelers, all I can say is…”Go Broncos!!”

Since I have been thinking about old times, I thought a few of the funny things that have happened might be interesting. My sisters and I are no different than I’m sure most of you are, and when you get 5 girls together, and then the neighbor kids, and a few cousins…well, it is a recipe for either disaster, or the funniest stories ever.

One that keeps coming to my mind, is the time my cousin Forest was over at our house, and all of us kids decided to play Hide and Seek. I can’t say for sure how old I was, but I couldn’t have been more that 5 or 6. Forest, who was the same age as I was, and I couldn’t figure out where to hide. So being the “helper” she was, my sister Cheryl, who was two years older than we were, decided to help us out. In our garage was a clothes dryer. It was one of those old style dryers with a window in front. So, Cheryl said, “Here, climb in and I’ll shut the door softly so it doesn’t close all the way.” Well, as you can imagine, Forest and I, trusting as we were, climbed right in. Cheryl slammed the door and said, “I’m going to turn it on.” We started screaming, and she started laughing. It didn’t take very long to realize that since it was out in the garage…it wasn’t plugged in! My sisters and I were always trying to see if we could pull one over on each other…good one, Cheryl. I still laugh about that every time I think about it!!

My sisters and I are all very good friends now, but as children, there were…shall we say…cat fights!!! Now these weren’t the type you might think. When we got mad at each other, we literally took matters into our own hands. We scratched, bit, hit, and pulled hair. We all had long hair, so hair pulling worked very well. After a few minutes into a fight, you would find both of us holding a handful of hair, and the attached head, firmly planted against the floor. Neither of us would give up, but we didn’t mind screaming so loudly that my mother finally had to come in and put a stop to it. We must have driven her crazy!! I’m sure you have all seen your share of sibling fights, but the is nothing quite as funny as two stubborn girls holding each other’s head to the floor by the hair and refusing to let go. Again, I laugh about that every time I think about it.

And here’s one last story I wanted to tell you about, and it is perhaps the funniest one of all. My parents had gone to the Fireman’s Ball, which they don’t have anymore, but used to be a big deal. My older sister Cheryl was babysitting the rest of us, and since it was going to be late when Mom and Dad came home, we had all gone to bed. Suddenly, we heard what sounded like the livingroom picture window crashing in. Cheryl jumped out of bed and ran out into the livingroom to see what was going on. I promptly pulled the blankets over my head as a form of “self preservation” I suppose, and my sister Alena started laughing. What is so funny, you might wonder. Well, Alena’s bed had a metal frame, and stuck between the bed frame and the wall was a metal Chinese Checkers board, which Alena had kicked, causing the crashing noise we heard. Way to go Alena…but then we all know that with your sense of humor, you had probably planned it and only got the reaction you had hoped for.

Yes, growing up with four sisters, a multitude of cousins and neighborhood kids was quite an adventure, to say the least. These are just three of the many stories I could tell. We often tried to outdo each other with our pranks and antics. Sometimes I wonder how we managed to survive without being choaked by our parents.

I have been thinking lately about the passage of time. It’s so odd that when we are young, time just seems to crawl. We are so excited about the next landmark event in our lives, and like a watched pot, it feels like it will never happen. When we are in school and waiting for summer, it seems like the school year will never end. As we wait for our next birthday, it seems so far away. We can’t wait to grow up and head out on the next big adventure in life.

Then suddenly our school years are over, and we can’t help but feel like we missed something, somehow. Remember when it seemed like forever? When did that change? But, that thought is short lived and quickly pushed out of our mind as we excitedly go into the next phase of life. We are adults now. We can make our own choices, and we don’t have to answer to anyone…or do we? We have a boss, who we must answer to. Most of us have a spouse, who we have to at least consult about things. And then there are the laws of the land, most of which we follow without thinking about it, but never the less, they must be obeyed. Hmmm, what ever happened to that great freedom we thought we were going to have when we were all grown up?

It occurs to us that maybe we recall our parents mentioning something about such things when we were going on about how great things were going to be when we were all grown up. And then another thing our parents told us about happens. Remember them saying that time flies? Suddenly it is doing just that. It seems like Christmas was just here, and suddenly it is back. The years fly by and you can’t believe that it is the year 2011, and then 2012, and 2013…wait…slow down! Somebody put on the brakes! Everything is moving so fast! Our babies are growing up and having babies, who are growing up and having babies. Before we know it, we have become our great grandparents, and we look back and think, “Where have the years gone. It seems like only yesterday that I couldn’t wait to be…all grown up.”

Two of my grandchildren will turn 15 at the end of this month. As I reflect on how quickly the years have flown by, I think back on my own childrens’ youth. When your children are small, you think it will be forever before they drive, date, get married, and have children, much less have children of driving age. But when you look back on those years from this side of life, those years seem like it was all just last week.

I remember the day each of my daughters was born. The miracle of life placed into my arms. It was so hard to believe that they were mine. Those days that I thought would last forever, quickly melted into their grade school years, filled with room mother duties, and throat cultures, field trips and sports. Again, I was lulled into the belief that those days would last forever, but before I knew it they were in junior high and then high school. Soon came that all important birthday when they would start to learn to drive and begin dating. They had turned 15.

By this time I was beginning to realize that it was not going to be very long before the next big changes would enter our lives, because time goes by so quickly. Their school years were over in the blink of an eye, and before I knew it we were planning weddings and adjusting to being empty nesters.

Then came the days when my girls told me they were having babies. My girls, who were born eleven months apart, were both pregnant at the same time, and before I knew it, I became a grandmother twice in two days. Those were two beautiful days. The next two and a half years would bring two more grandchildren, and we thought we would have babies around for a long time.

But, once again, I look back on those years, now flown so quickly by, and think, “It seems like it was just last week that they were born.” Before we know it, they will be married and having babies of their own. And yes, we will again be lulled into thinking those years will last forever, but in our heart of hearts, we will know the these children too, will be so quickly grown, as the years melt away, into the future that will be theirs.

A few years ago, I found myself sinking into depression. There was so much going on in my life that I had no control over, and I was stressed out to say the least. This situation was so new to me. I had always been a happy person, and now I was becoming angry and bitter, and I didn’t like it one bit, but there seemed to be nothing I could do about it. My situation had taken on a life of it’s own.

After my Dad passed away in December of 2007, I found myself feeling like there wasn’t much to live for. It wasn’t like I wanted to commit suicide, I just felt so sad, that I couldn’t find anything to be happy about. We had fought so hard to get Dad back to health, and we were winning, and then his liver failed, and he was gone. It shook my whole world. Nothing was right, and it wouldn’t ever be right again. Even though I know that my Dad was saved, and I will see him again in Heaven, I missed him so much, and I still do, but I knew he wouldn’t want me to continue on in this depressed state.

I had to find a way back to life. I began to pray for help…for a way back. The Lord guided me first to begin eating better, thereby giving me more energy. Then the Lord began to encourage me to get outside and walk. I started walking on the trail near our home, and slowly began to feel like the fresh air and beauty of God’s creation, and the time spent talking with the Lord began to heal my spirit. I continue to look forward to the warmer months when I can get back outside and recharge again.

I still miss my Dad terribly, but I have been able to move forward with my life. I know I will see him again in Heaven, and I very much look forward to that day, but I know that I have a job to do here. My work here is not done. I am needed here. And my Dad would want me to live a full life.

I know that my life will always have it’s challenges, but the Lord is always there for me. He is my source of strength. I know many people might not find that to be true for them, but they have not been down the road I have. They have not seen the Lord help them to find the way back.

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