Children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children born in one's youth. Blessed are they whose quivers are full. They will never be shamed contending with foes at the gate. ~Psalm 127:3-5

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Glory in Suffering


As I was reading the daily gospel last Friday, I was suddenly struck with some thoughts about life and death.  It's something I have actually thought about a lot lately - life and death I mean- and the thoughts I had were vaguely familiar but at the same, seemed a lot more definitive than ever before.  John 21: 15-19 is the passage where Jesus asks Simon Peter several times in a row if he loves Him.  Peter of course answers a repetitive yes, and each time, Jesus tells Peter that if he truly loves Him he must feed His lambs and take care of His sheep.

Growing up, when this particular passage was taught to us in Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, or when we heard it at Mass, emphasis was put mostly on the first 3 verses:  After Jesus had revealed himself to his disciples and eaten breakfast with them, he said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" Simon Peter answered him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my lambs." He then said to Simon Peter a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Simon Peter answered him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep."  He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.

But the last two verses in the passage convey that Peter will die a death that will glorify God. At first thought, and I'm sure every time I've heard this particular gospel, those last two lines never really stand out: Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted;but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, "Follow me."

Anne and Chet Glover on their wedding day
This time was different.  The first thing I thought of when I read these last few lines was my Grandma, Anne Glover. Grandma suffered a great atrocity as a young girl but it was not the end of her suffering. With what she went through in her early life, it would be understandable if Grandma turned her back from God.  Suffering does have that temptation for us to make a deep in-ward turn and close ourselves off from the world, questioning God and what the heck He's thinking by allowing such suffering.  But if anything, Grandma used her suffering to cling ever-more strongly to the Lord.  She grew up strong, and dare I say a little feisty, and she became a woman of God.  Grandma was blessed with the love of a wonderful Southern gentleman who treated her with gentleness and respect after he married her as a wounded WWII soldier. Their marriage was the epitome of unconditional love and I can still remember the way my Grandpa used to look at her, his little "filly." One of my favorite memories is when he was lying in the hospital, hours from death and, hunkered down in her wheel chair, Grandma asked if he wanted her to get in bed with him and that she'd "do all the work."  *Sheepish Grin*  Even now, thinking about their love story gets me a little misty-eyed.  

The "Glover" side at my sister's wedding in 1995
My grandparents had two children and they did their best to raise them in the Catholic Faith.  Not only that but they spent their lives "feeding His lambs and taking care of His sheep." By serving each other, the country, their children and grandchildren, other family members and people in society, they took the focus off any suffering they may have had and gave glory to God through their life, especially through their two children, many grandchildren and ever-growing number of great-grandchildren.


Toward the end of her life, Grandma suffered from Alzheimer's.  She literally had to stretch her hands for someone else (my mom) to dress her, and often be led where she did not want to go as she was bound to a wheelchair long before the latter stages of the disease set in.  Alzheimer's is a dark void in which a person is lost.  Lost but not gone completely.  Grandma, though hidden deep inside herself, still had her personhood.  All you had to do was look in her eyes and there she was.  Past the sallowed skin of her cheeks; past the cacophony of mutterings and rantings, in her liquid green eyes you could see Anne Glover and you knew she was indeed there.  Somewhere.  
Trapped. But there.

Being trapped in her own mind must have been a very scary thing for her.  At times, I know she was drawn to places within she didn't want to go, taken back to the past to a different type of suffering, one she hadn't known in decades.  And it was these moments when you just knew of her fear and all you could do was sit with her and let her work through it.  Her behavior was irrational and yet there was no reasoning with her.  There is no reasoning with dementia. It is a sneaky beast that seems to come and go as it pleases, wreaking havoc on a person's mind, stealing thoughts, memories, ideas. Grandma always had a very difficult time of iterating what she wanted, finishing a sentence, grasping the right word to convey what she felt.  Many times, she repeated the same sentence or word over and over again in a futile attempt to get us to understand. It was a struggle for us to watch her so I know it was a struggle for her to be in that position.  But at the same time, even in that desperate state, Grandma was bringing glory to God.

With her Great-Grandson, Adam
One of my favorite things about her in the last ten years of her life was her ability to "feed God's lambs," even in the state she was in.  By this I mean her draw to her great-grandchildren.  By the time many of them came along, Grandma was already deep into dementia.  But she still grasped a sense of joy and wonder whenever the babies were around.  She still let them climb into her lap or sit near to her as she talked to them and gazed into their eyes.  I think that although they didn't understand her state, they understood her, and it seemed so natural the way they interacted.  Even through the darkness, she was able to witness to our children with love and grace.  It did not matter that she would forget they were ever there ten minutes after they left.  It didn't matter that she couldn't speak to them coherently very often, or even remember their names.  What mattered was that in those moments, she was their great-grandma and she was teaching them unconditional love.  Despite her suffering, despite her confusion and the shadows in her mind, she was loving them.  Glory to God.

With her Great-Granddaughter, Rose

Another aspect of Grandma's suffering was in the demands it made on her family.  Particularly my mom, who was the sole caretaker of Grandma for the last and worst years of her suffering. Taking care of Grandma daily, even throughout the night as if she had a newborn babe, my mother worked tirelessly to make sure my Grandma's needs were met.  It humbled Grandma. It humbled my mom.  It humbled me.  Seeing the love and gentleness in her care, and helping out when I was able to, was a very big lesson in humility.  It was that time that I started to see how suffering can indeed bring glory to God, though I wasn't sure of the depths to which it was capable of extending.  
 
And here I have to make a confession.  

I actually wrote a similar post last Friday, the day this particular gospel was part of the daily readings, and I even published it.  A glitch in Blogger somehow caused my post to be lost in cyberspace.  To say I was destroyed is an understatement.  I spent the day crying. Literally.  I was so lost within myself already and losing the post was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.  It wasn't until much later in the day, when I could get over myself for a few seconds, that I realized that perhaps it was a little lesson God wanted me to learn about my own suffering.  I wrote this long post, and it was actually very good if I say so myself, and I published it.  But within the post, I really had very little to say about my own suffering, which has been very plentiful lately, and what sort of glory I can bring to God through it.  I was not practicing what I was preaching.  And losing my post seemed to open my eyes up a little bit to that thinking which I had missed SO MANY times over the last few months:  how can I bring glory to God through this?

Grandma, like me, loved purple

In the telling of my Grandma's struggle with Alzheimer's and the many ways in which her suffering and death glorified God, I failed to mention that any suffering has the potential to do this.  I failed to admit to my own suffering and how I wasn't using it the way I should be. In actuality, we are all called to suffer throughout our life and the purpose of it is in fact to glorify Him.  God asks us if we love Him.  If we do, He demands we feed His lambs, take care of His sheep and follow Him.  It doesn't necessarily mean doing these things the way we would like to; it almost never goes the way we think it should.  And it often involves much suffering.  Not all of us will die a death that is preceded by literally being dressed by someone else and led to places we don't wish to go as my Grandmother's did.  But it will glorify Him, especially if we did live our life in service to Him and others, opening ourselves up to the type of suffering that will bring glory to God. 

In my suffering, I, much like my Grandma, have been taken to places within my mind I rather wish I didn't go.  Unlike my Grandma, though, I turned inward and sort of lost myself on purpose, so that I wouldn't have to face things and I could just think about myself and throw pity parties as much as I wanted.  I didn't want to talk about things, except to annoy my husband with repeating a hundred times what I felt without wanting to hear an answer if he so happened to have one.  I was not glorifying God.

In my weakness, I couldn't find the joy and wonder in being my kids' mom, like my Grandma did with her great-grandchildren despite her disease.  In fact, in the past few months, as I've grown more and more frustrated with my children and unable to be patient (a state that is brought on by my selfishness and the fact that I have lost myself in my own suffering), I have often wished I could just be alone and not have to worry about them anymore.  I was not glorifying God.

4 Generations of Strong, Feisty Women
Yesterday I caught a glimpse of my Grandma in the mirror.....sort of....I have her eyes. And I remembered how we sometimes had to search my Grandma's eyes to really find her.  Sometimes I wonder if I'm really still here.  But I saw her there, in the mirror, in my eyes, and I realized that I have probably disappointed her in many ways with my behavior as of late.  Not only her, but more importantly, God. And I realized that yes, I am there too, I am really still here and I need to work on climbing outside of myself in order to use my life to glorify Him. By worrying about my own "issues," I was neglecting the needs of my family.  I was blind to the fact that my children wanted to spend time with me.  I was spending my days wasting time drowning in the darkness that consumed me.  Refusing to do what I am called to do as a mother, to serve Him as I feed His lambs, was not opening my life up to glorifying God.

The demands from God are clear.  We are to love Him and serve Him.  In loving and serving Him, there will be suffering and we will need to cling to Him and follow Him. We are called to use our suffering to glorify Him.  Not on our terms, but on His.  We are not to lose ourselves in our darkness but fight that darkness to bring His light to others.  Suffering has a purpose.  I look at my Grandma's life, how her suffering was not a choice, but her willingness to be a servant of God opened her up to that end time when He could use her suffering to further His kingdom.  Three years after her death, her suffering is still working to bring others to Him.

What greater glory is there?  


Monday, May 14, 2012

Q is for Quorums

So I had NO idea what to write for Q. I've actually lost my motivation to finish this A-Z thing but I hate leaving things unfinished....so I am continuing on.

In trying to find a word that begins with Q, my husband (the man of few words) says 'what about quorum?'  Ummmm....what?   That's not a word.  Yes it is, he insists.  So then I'm trying to find it on a list somewhere in cyberspace.  It's there..only it needs an s.  He even knew the basic definition of it.  Impressive!
 
So, if you're like me and DON'T know what 'quorums' means; it is a gathering of the minimal number of members of an organization to conduct business. (Definition from Scrabblefinder.com.)

And, in case you're wondering, it will get you 18 points in Scrabble and 21 in Words With Friends.

You learn something new every day!



Sunday, May 13, 2012

My 9th Mother's Day

Gifts from my hubby, children and in-laws
I can not believe I have had nine mother's days!! 

Honestly, I know the occasion of Mother's Day began as a means to further the card- and gift industry via the heart-felt expressions of children to their mothers.  And it's really not a big deal to me in that way.  I don't really care about cards, candy, flowers, gifts.  For me, this day is just one of many on which I contemplate my vocation in life: Motherhood.

(It's just A LOT easier to do when I don't have anything else I need to do because my children and husband are doing it for me.)   :-)

I'm not a mother to just any children.  I'm a mother to God's children.  God gave me these children with specific instructions: "Teach them about My perfect Love by loving them yourself.  Raise them to know Me.  Raise them to have hearts to serve Me and others.  Be open to each gift I give to you through them; from the first moment of their tiny lives in your womb until you are no longer with them."  It's a set of simple-sounding instructions but with very complicated measures, deep meaning, and hidden truths abounding.  It's a conviction and a challenge that often brings me to my knees.  I suspect that is exactly one of the main purposes of motherhood - to bring us to our knees....constantly.

Me and Angelina (7 1/2) at my 30th birthday party


In this post 4 years ago, I wrote about the first few mother's days I was blessed to celebrate.  My first was when I was two-months' pregnant with my oldest child, Angelina.  Now, here I am with my fifth child growing in my womb and I can't seem to grasp how time has passed.  I think about my mom and how she raised seven babies, all close in age like mine, in a smallish house like mine, staying home with us like I do with mine.  I think about how much she did right, and how much she did wrong.  She herself will tell you she failed at a lot of things (though many of those I think she is too hard on herself about). I think any mother who is convicted with the truth of motherhood knows too-well how much they fail at times.  BUT, I also think about the fact that my mother did not fail at the most important aspect - following that set of instructions God buries in a mother's heart and reminds her of with each child.





My baby belly - 4 months w/#5
Sure, just like with all mothers, the means to get there might not have been perfect, the path not always straight, the timing not immediate.  But my mother did succeed in loving us, teaching us of God's love, giving us hearts to serve Him and others, and being open to the gifts He gave to her through our lives.  Despite troubled times, difficult circumstances and imperfect timing, she allowed His blessing of SEVEN babies, plus one that did not make it.  She loved us with everything she had.  She planted in our hearts the knowledge of God's love, power, grace and plans; making sure we knew that He did indeed have a specific plan for each of our lives and that we *should* follow it.  She did her best, knowing full-well that we might stray from our paths in varying shades, but giving the control to Him with the understanding that He would bring us back.  My mother did the number one act of Love that every mother should do, and that was to pray for us.  Daily.  Everything else, all the blips, faults, failures don't mean too terribly much, for the most important instruction she was given was fulfilled. 

My mom showing Aidan and Bella their new little sister, Sophia (2009)
I often ask my mom questions about how motherhood has been for her.  On my bad days, when I'm overwhelmed with the task that lays before me; my entire vocation in life seemingly shattered fragments on the floor, I am desperate for answers on how to keep going.  Her answers are always the same....Trust in God, pray, take it one day at a time.  Sometimes, I just want to hear her thoughts on the simple things about motherhood, how she treasured certain moments, how she kept from frantically grasping at the time passing by.  At 64 years of age (sorry for divulging that #, Mama!) she relates so much that I am grateful for: admonishment, encouragement, snapshots of her life as our mother, wisdom, humility, sadness, conviction.  Every aspect of her as my mom makes me feel that much more assured that I am doing pretty good.  After all, I think I turned out okay, right?  RIGHT?!

On this day, 28 years after my mother celebrated her own 9th mother's day, I am convicted of a very simple reminder: I am called to LOVE my children.  I am called to serve them.  I am called to raise them to have hearts to serve and love the Lord.  There will be times I fail.  I am not perfect.  But in my failure, in my imperfection, I am brought to the Father (often on my knees) for the strength and grace I need to keep going.  Every single mother has this same calling, and this same aide from the Lord to fulfill it.

I wish each and every mother out there a very happy Mother's Day!  May you also be convicted of your vocation, not just today but every day.  May you realize that no matter how old your children are, you are still their mother. You are still called to serve them, to love them, to remind them of God's love and their purpose in this life.  And may you have the wisdom to accept your failures as a means to draw closer to the Lord, and celebrate your successes with humility and thanksgiving to the Father for His strength and grace that allowed them.

And especially to my own mama, I love you!  Thank you for giving me life.  Thank you for loving me and my siblings, and following that difficult set of instructions God gave to you 37 years ago when you became pregnant with your first child.  For every "failure" you have had in raising us, there have been many more successes, and I am grateful to you today and every day for allowing God to move in your life so as to raise us to know Him.


Me and my kiddos today.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Winner for the Coconut Oil Giveaway!

We just did the drawing as the kids were brushing their teeth. My oldest, Angelina, stuck her hand in a bowl full of A LOT of entrants. I was surprised we had so many!!!  Anyway, the winner is.....

*drum roll please....*


KATE!

Kate, if you can give me your info, I will send it on to Tropical Traditions and they will be in charge of sending you out your FREE 32 oz. jar of Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil.  Congratulations!!

For those of you who did not win, perhaps I can do another giveaway soon, if not for another product!   Thanks for entering!! 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

P is for Prudence

I thought a lot about what I wanted to write for "P."  I have had a hard time thinking clearly or deeply lately so I was trying to avoid mumbling and rambling about something unimportant, or totally missing the mark on something of grave importance.  I pray that my thoughts on Prudence have some effect on you, my readers, and that through that, you find yourself drawing ever close to the Lord.

Prudence is defined as the ability to discipline and govern oneself by the use of reason.  It is, in essence, considered the Father of all virtues, as it takes Prudence as a foundation to be virtuous in other ways.  Prudence is not about emotions, but knowledge, and rests at the core of who I am as a Catholic and who we are all called to be as Christians in general.  It's an aspect of the connection we keep with God, directing our choices based on goodness and morality.

This past Sunday at Mass, one of our resident priests, Father Tri, was at the pulpit as he usually is for our 11 AM service.  Father Tri is often hard to understand but it's really interesting because when the message seems to be geared directly toward me or my husband, it's like we can understand him perfectly.  This past Sunday was such a time.  His homily wasn't necessarily about Prudence, but about our connection to God and to each other as Brothers and Sisters in Christ.  Father's homily included two very relevant jokes that were both humorous and thought-provoking, and happened to be about people who run a business.  As both my husband and I sat a little straighter in the pew, it dawned on us both that buried in the humor of his jokes was a little nugget of wisdom we needed to be searching for as we listened ever-intently.

Since the landscape season began this year, one thing has happened after another to sort of knock our spirits and bring us to the brink of despair.  There have been many frustrations causing us to question where God is taking us and what, if anything, we are doing wrong.  It's been a huge lesson in humility and patience as we've sort of had to become sitting ducks, waiting on the Lord to provide answers.  But as many of us know, answers don't always come immediately, and not always in tangible forms which are easily recognized and understood.  So....as we have been facing on-again, off-again challenges in our business since March, we are still sitting ducks, fluffing and preening our feathers as the rains of each storm pour down.  (At times, that last statement is quite literal as constant storms and rain delaying projects has been one of the many challenges we have faced!)

The main message of Father Tri's homily, like I said, was about our connection to God.  But as I had been turning over in my head the possibility of writing about Prudence over the previous week, I realized that Prudence plays a huge role in that connection.  We must own the ability to discern life situations wisely.  How do we do this?  Well, in regards to our business, it is seeking His guidance in each and every aspect of our business, especially when challenges arise.  We have an idea of the direction our business is to be taken yet the road to get there is dark and bumpy.  We don't always remember that He is in control.  Sometimes, the decisions we make seem to be the wrong ones.  Even if we have prayed and felt strongly that it's what we are meant to do.

So, there's that word, felt.  Prudence isn't about feeling, it's about knowledge.  For us, it's knowing what God wants from us and making decisions based on that knowledge.  Our knowledge that He wants us to follow and trust in Him has been our beacon of light.  But sometimes that light gets buried in the practicality of running a business, and not knowing which is the best path to take.  Sometimes, what the world says is the best way is NOT the best way.   In the face of practicality (without morality as its vehicle), it's difficult to choose differently.  The world is often telling us that if we want something, we just go after it, we should have what we want.  Making wise business decisions is the way to do it.  But our wise business decisions shouldn't be made for the sole purpose of having what we want.  God has made it very clear to us that what He wants is what is more important.  Wise business decisions in truth should be grounded in Him.  While being prudent does involve practicality, practicality does not have the last say.

Last year my husband was in a situation where he was having a conversation with some people who have been integral members of a very very successful business.  He was discussing our business and how much it has grown in the few years we've been running it, and how, even in the face of a floundering economy, our business has flourished.  When asked what he'd attribute that to, what good business practices could he equate with our success, he looked them in the eyes and said "it was all the Lord.  We couldn't have done it without Him, He is running the show.."  These people looked dumb-founded as he explained our complete and total reliance on God to sustain us through income-less winters, to find us potential clients, and to show us what efforts to make to build our business up.  In reality, he probably seemed much like Noah when he was explaining the coming flood to his fellow towns-people, just like we both did when we first decided to start our business in the midst of a down economy four seasons ago.

Prudence isn't just a virtue, it is a gift.  It relies on many parts to be practiced correctly and the main part is that connection with God.  If we don't connect ourselves to Him, through prayer, petition, thanksgiving, praise, the Mass, the Eucharist, Confession, it is hard to receive the fullness of God's truth and His direction in such matters as business life.  I have noticed that when we sort of step away from Him for a bit, things seem more intensely chaotic.  I don't want to say that bad things happen.  (And I don't want to say "good" things happen even when we are connected.)  But there is something missing when we aren't.  It's tangible.  It's real.  It's solid proof that to be a Christian business owner, we have to put our business in His hands. I can't tell you how many times we've been reminded of this since day one. And really, just like in all aspects of life, it's one of the fundamental truths - connect ourselves to Him, place everything in His hands and let Him guide and He will make straight our paths.

The world has been described as a "dog-eat-dog" world and to get ahead, you have to do whatever it takes.  Success is measured in dollar amounts, position, and the means used to get to the top.  Sometimes, in this pursuit, cunning and prudence are often thought of as the same thing; but this is not actually true.  Not for Christians.  While cunning can often use immoral means, prudence does not; prudence always takes into account the greater good.  It is very easy to overlook that fact when we are trying desperately to stay afloat.     

As I ponder these things relating to the running of our business, I think about life in general, especially life as a mother, and it's hard not to think of measuring my success.  Some would say that the fact that we live on one income and have so many children is not deemed successful at all.  After all, where is our big fancy house?  Where are our many cars?  Where is our six-digit account balance?  How many times have we been told, often by total strangers, that it would be better for us to put the kids in school/day care so I can get a job so we can have all the things we want

It is definitely an often-difficult lifestyle.  We have 5 children.  We homeschool.  We own a business and it is our sole income; whether we have a good year or a bad year, it's what we have.  But our connection to God, our reliance upon Him, our ability to practice Prudence in many situations, is what makes it doable.  Yes, I am taking the road less-traveled.  But it's not so I can say "look at me!"  It's not to be a martyr.  It's because it's what God asks me to do.  I could use cunning and make decisions that seem wise that would include putting my children in school and going back to work.  But where is the greater good in that?  The greater good in God's eyes does not equal financial security, or having the means to do and have whatever I want.  The greater good equals a stable family environment which we cultivate by my being home; by running our own business where my husband can be around if we want/need him; by spending time with my children and raising them to have hearts to serve.

In the beginning of my post I described the meaning of Prudence.  In our family, Prudence has played an integral role in both our home life and our business life.  We try to pray continuously, keeping that connection with God, in order to discern thoughtfully, morally and with reason the steps we are to take to make each aspect of our lives successful.  Things might not always seem successful, or easy for that matter, but when the greater good is our goal, when serving the Lord is our top priority, and when we are using moral reasoning, it really doesn't matter how it seems to us or the world.  What matters is what God sees, if He is pleased with our efforts.

So maybe I did ramble and mumble a little bit here...  But it is about something important.  Since thinking about Prudence over the last few weeks and what it means, I have been consciously aware of the fact that we need to be prudent in every situation, especially lately, whether it be about business or family life.  I believe it is a gift; something God buried in our minds to find and use to connect ourselves with Him, just one more tool in our arsenal for this path through life.



Wednesday, May 2, 2012

O is for Oil....Coconut That Is

I have a new friend.  Name's Coconut; last name Oil.  I really really like her..him..er...it.   I discovered coconut oil about a year or so ago when a friend on a mommy board recommended it to me.  The first kind I ever tried was an Expeller-pressed oil from Tropical Traditions.  However, this post is about a different kind that Tropical Traditions has provided me with to try FOR FREE, and has even offered a FREE giveaway for a friend.  Their highest-quality product in the coconut oil line: Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil, certified USDA organic.

So, if you like coconut oil, or aren't really sure if you do, read on and then make sure you follow the directions for your chance to win a FREE jar of Tropical Traditions Gold Label.

OK, so my new best friend is this gold label coconut oil.  The second link I placed above takes you directly to the page for this product and it has a wealth of information on there.  But you know me, my fellow bloggers and faithful readers, and hopefully you would trust me to give you the truth about my own experience of any product I use for my family.  If you'll note the disclaimer at the bottom of my post, I am under NO obligation to review this product AT ALL, let alone give it a good review, and the free sample (32 fl oz to be exact!!) was mine to keep regardless.  BUT, there is no reason not to review such a product or to not give it a RAVE review!

I use coconut oil a lot.  We use it in cooking, baking, and in our personal care.  If you like or at least don't mind the taste or scent of coconuts, the Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil is a really great choice. It's the highest-quality in the Tropical Traditions line, as I said, and it adds such depth to a lot of dishes.  We've used it in granola, granola bars, grilling/sauteing chicken, sauteing vegetables, baking banana bread and the like.  We also use it as a skin moisturizer, a hair moisturizer/styler and around chapped lips!  Even my husband, who doesn't really care for coconuts, likes the food we use it in.  I love love love it!  There are SO MANY benefits to using coconut oil other than the fact that it tastes great!


Giveaway!   First, a note from Tropical Traditions:




Win 1 quart of  Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil!
Tropical Traditions is America's source for coconut oil. Their Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil is hand crafted in small batches by family producers, and it is the highest quality coconut oil they offer. You can read more about how virgin coconut oil is different from other coconut oils on their website: What is Virgin Coconut Oil? You can also watch the video they produced about Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil:


Tropical Traditions also carries other varieties of affordable high quality coconut oil. Visit their website to check on current sales, to learn about the many uses of coconut oil, and to read about all the  advantages of buying coconut oil online. Since the FDA does not want us to discuss the health benefits of coconut oil on a page where it is being sold or given away, here is the best website to read about the health benefits of coconut oil.

Ok, sorry...I'm required to add all that in!  :-)

To Enter the Giveaway: Simply leave a comment below telling me why you want to win the giveaway and what you would use it for (cooking, baking, personal care, other).  On May 11th (which happens to be my twin brothers' birthday and my parents' anniversary), I will select a winner by putting your name in a hat and having one of my little helpers pull it out.  I will then contact you to get some info from you and Tropical Traditions will ship out your FREE jar of coconut oil for you to start using.

ANOTHER way you can enter the giveaway is if you Subscribe to Tropical Traditions' email Sales Newsletter.  Go there, subscribe and then come back and tell me you are subscribed. No cheating! You need to actually do it!  I'll put your name in the hat twice!



Don't want to wait or risk you won't be the winner?  Click here to purchase your own 32 oz jar of Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil and receive a FREE book about this amazing oil with your order.

 
Also, Check out these links!

There are hundreds of uses for coconut oil!

Recipe Videos!



Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.

N is for Nonsense

I did just turn 30 recently right?  I just wanted to check.  Because sometimes, it feels like I am not a grown woman in my 30's with 5 children, a husband, a business and a very very full plate otherwise.  There is a myriad of ways it often feels like this but lately, it's because there has been a stream of drama flowing through my life that I don't think any woman my age should have any part in.  Not that I asked for it.  But I got it nonetheless.

It is a bunch of nonsense.  And in the middle of all of it, I realized there are some people in my life I can't really trust that much.  I also realized that I am yet again being called to be in difficult situations with people just so that I can show them Christ's love.

Darn.

Something about the tendencies of my flesh that makes it really difficult to do this is that I want EVERYTHING laid out in the freakin' open ALL the time.  I don't like secrets. I don't like pretending. I don't even like knowing something about someone else that I shouldn't and then not telling them I know.  I don't like holding back something important just because someone else hasn't asked.  Isn't that the same as lying? I don't like it when people do these things to me either.  I don't like being fake.  I don't like smiling when I just feel like crying.  And yet, sometimes some of these things are so very necessary. Most of the time, depending on the situation they aren't. Not all of them.  And going back to my wanting everything to just be laid out on the table..  I am not a fight-picker.  I don't want this stuff spread out in all its gory truth just so we can fight about it. I want it that way because then we can both/all see what we're dealing with.  Then we can start to understand where the other person is.  Then we can start to pick up pieces, examine them in a positive light, absorb their weight and feeling and every last gritty detail so that we can begin anew in a place of resolve, honesty, love and understanding.

My husband and I do this. Ok, not always; sometimes we fight unfairly.  Sometimes things just get pent up because of fear of fighting, but then come crashing out in a thunderous cascade of anger later. But for the most part, we like to lay things out on the table and figure it out from there. If there is an issue that comes up with a friend, it is usually laid out on the table as well.  There's no sweeping under the rug, there's no dancing around in a secret silent motion, no ignorance of the elephant in the room.  Isn't that how grown-ups are supposed to act?

Sometimes I feel like I just want to be a hermit.  Live my life in my little home and not worry about what goes on outside these four walls.  Then there would be no nonsense.  Not anything I *shouldn't* be dealing with as a wife and mother.  There would be no drama.  There wouldn't be a constant worry of who to trust, who is telling the truth, who really cares. There wouldn't be any need to smile when I feel like crying.   Sometimes, I am just tired of all the nonsense.