Are Things Looking Up for You?

When is halfway good?  When you reach the halfway mark between deployment and DSC01917homecoming.  We just passed that mark with my Army officer son Cooper’s time in Afghanistan, and for that I am thankful.  Mozzie is glad too (yes, I’ve become the Great Dane whisperer), so why is Cooper’s dog looking up?  My inner puppy tells me he is looking to the hills, at least I hope he is.  That’s where we all need to be looking right now.

Four years ago Cooper took me to a special place in Vermont where he went to clear his head during college.  He showed me a rock on a hill that was carved with these words:

I lift mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help. 

Cooper found comfort in those words, as have many for thousands of years.  He was surprised to learn that I too knew those words.  Ok, so I heard them first from The Reverend Mother in The Sound of Music, but those words were from the Bible, Psalm 121:1 to be exact.

So why are we told to look up? Is God really up? Does He reside in the stratosphere?  Perhaps the Bible suggests we are supposed to be looking to the hills, which are inherently up, because we cannot see what lies on the other side and in our natural human state, we want to see what we put our trust in. The hills obscure our vision, and we have to trust more to believe that God is actually on the other side waiting to deliver us. If He were in the valley, or in the low land we could see His every move.  This way, we have to look, wait, expect, and hardest of all, trust.

Just today I spoke with Cooper.  He is safe and in good health, but our world is on fire. Honest policeman in our communities are under fire, family values are under fire, and the ideals of democracy are under fire.  All of this disturbs me greatly. None of us know what will happen next.  So I will lift mine eyes to the hills and wait for the only help which will help us all now.

Mozzie is looking, waiting, and trusting.  Will you do the same?

 

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A Memorial Dane Memo

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Why do I like little dogs? I don’t know, but I’m definitely a little dog person.  I adore my 14 pound Westie, but if she were the size of a hamster I would adore her even more.

So last fall when my son, a lieutenant in the United States Army, told me he was seriously thinking of getting a dog I said, “Hey Buddy, just be sure to get a little dog in case someone (meaning me) has to take care of that dog should you ever be deployed.”  I couldn’t tell whether he shook his head yes or no on the other end of the call, but I was certain I made my point clear.  So he got a Great Dane.

Enter Mozzie, a fawn-colored Great Dane named after a character on a favorite TV show.  Mozzie’s father weighs 175 pounds and drinks out of the kitchen sink.  So much for getting a little dog.

This past March my son deployed to Afghanistan for the better part of a year.  He put his car in storage.  His household goods went to his roommate.  And his dog… well, his dog was another matter.

My husband gave me his own puppy dog look and said, “Oh Sally, we have to take the dog.  Don’t you think we should?” as if this were a 5 month old child who would be left at an orphanage if we didn’t agree to intervene.

“WHY SHOULD I?” I thought.  It’s not a child, it’s a dog.  If this were my son’s child I would do it in a heartbeat, but c’mon, it’s a dog.  A big dog.   And I TOLD him to get a small dog.  I TOLD him to consider all of this before bringing home Marmaduke with his drooling, shedding, and oh-look-he’s-piddling-on-the-pillow ways. Why did he have to go AMA (Against Motherly Advice) and get a small pony instead of a hamster?

As it would happen, Mozzie may be big, but he also has a big heart.  Yes, he is hairy to the point of choking my vacuum cleaner to death, but he hugs us with all his furriness every day. Yes, he takes up the entire sofa, but he scooches over to love on us whenever we join him.  Yes, he has the amazing capacity to carry an entire quart of water in his jowls from the bowl to my lap, but those floppy jowls make for adorable pictures that warm my son’s heart in Afghanistan.

As sweet as Moz is, I have asked myself “Why” a thousand times?  Why am I doing this?  My life was free of hassles. Now I care for a four-legged toddler who chews, slobbers, and toots (which, incidentally, smell like a port-a-potty on a 120 degree day).  All this craziness, thanks to my son!   And that’s when it hit me.  That’s what taking care of Mozzie is.  It is a way of giving thanks…to my son. Not just the son I raised as a boy, but the son who serves as a US Soldier. That’s what I think of when hair is sticking to my lip.  This is all for a Soldier. That Soldier just happens to be my son.

What I have given up is nothing compared to what Soldiers go through.  Deployment forces our brave men and women to give up the ability to see their friends, their family, and yes, even the pets they adore to make sure the rest of us are able to do so whenever we choose.

That is why I consider it all joy to care for my son’s Gentle Giant. I even forget that I ever had doubts about taking on this lovable loaf.  Rather, I see it as a way to give back just a little bit for a Soldier who is giving his all for me.

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Abreast of the Mammo Comedy

Ok. So I’m a nurse and a comedian (an odd skill set to be sure), which means sometimes I get a little crazy on stage with the body stuff  because nurses just speak a different language.  However, I was reminded this weekend at the Hearts at Home 2014 Regional Conference that just about every woman speaks breast.

Lets face it. No matter who you are, most post-puberty women think about their breasts.  Large, small (“fun size”) and everything in between, it doesn’t matter.  Women care about their breasts.  I just want us all to care FOR them too!

That is why I love including some mammogram comedy in my act.  It’s a great way to let everyone know that breast care is something we all need to be aware of, and that no woman is alone in that journey.  And isn’t laughing about it a better way to deal with the stress of the unknown that to be afraid of it? (Just say yes, and we’ll move on.)

So if you haven’t done a self breast exam in awhile, start today.  And if it’s time to make your appointment for that wonderfully fun and fabulous “Squish-em-up” and you know you need to, reach for the phone while you watch my YouTube clip and get in the right mindset about going.

Remember, breast cancer is no laughing matter.  But a mammogram… well, for me, that’s a different story.  (So I told it!)

Click here to watch my video!

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Order up some laughs!

Click on the book to order!

Click on the book to order!

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What are You ComPASSIONate about?

It is safe to say that I am PASSIONATE about shoes. I love them. I have been known to label mine in clear plastic boxes and stack them on top of each other like a trendy shoe apartment complex. I have more than I could possibly wear in a week, maybe even two, and I know each shoe by name. It’s a first-world passion, but I am passionate about footwear nonetheless.

I have other passions as well. I love to sing, travel, dance, and create. Growing up I invested a lot of time in each of these passions. I had a pretty good handle on what PASSION was and how it fuels our soul. Or so I thought.

Like many moms, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I gave birth. But it wasn’t long before I fell completely in love with my son. It wasn’t until the very first time I held my own child in my arms that I realized the difference between PASSION and ComPASSION.

Suddenly, I felt compassion. Yes, compassion for this helpless baby who looked to me to sustain his very life. I would gladly do anything for him, and it was as though I could move mountains to do whatever he needed me to do. Just like The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, I could feel my heart grow ten times larger within my chest, exploding with a love and compassion that I had never known. That’s when I realized the difference between passion and compassion. My passions had been about me. Compassion is about everything BUT me.

It is that same love that drives the ministry of Compassion International, a highly reputable ministry that seeks to eliminate child poverty in the poorest parts of the world. In the name of Jesus, this fiscally responsible organization works through local churches in impoverished areas to demonstrate compassion to needy children.

Unfortunately, the world we live in has made a skeptic out of me. I don’t want to hand money to just anyone based on their word. So, I personally investigated the ministry of Compassion by visiting their headquarters in Colorado Springs. I was so impressed by their commitment to children and good financial stewardship that I couldn’t wait to be a part of their global work in whatever way they could use me.

So it is with great humility that I announce my partnership with Compassion International as one of their featured artists. Together, we can work to bring food, clothing, medical care, education, and the hope of Christ to children who would otherwise have nothing.  As a mom, I know how it feels to want the very best for my children. Won’t you join me in sponsoring a child who looks to you to be compassionate to them just like you are to your own children?

How about you? Do you have a PASSION for others? Are you ready to let compassion change your life by changing the life of a child? Click on the picture to the right of this blog to find out more information about sponsoring a child through Compassion International.

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Top 10 HAH Takeaways

For #throwbackthursday, I thought I would recap some of my top Hearts at Home conference memories. One of the best ways to stay fresh as a mom is to attend a Hearts at Home conference. The national conference was recently held in Normal Illinois. Whether you were there or not, I think you will appreciate the Top 10 Things I Loved About the HAH conference:

10. I got to spend a little time with Grey’s Anatomy’s Sarah Drew (Dr. April Kepner) and discovered a little known fact: the gentleman who walked her down the aisle on the show is also her father in real life. How cool is that? (She thought so too!)

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9. I found out that losing your hair as a result of chemotherapy is something to laugh through, not cry about, thanks to my friend and Hearts founder Jill Savage. I love your courage, Jill! You continue to lead the way!

8. Who knew that there are other women out there who love sparkly objects as much as I do! (And no, you may not have my sparkly Converse! LOL!)

7. Speaking of LOL-ing, I found out that having a night of Depends-able laughter is a highly therapeutic way to spend your evening. Laughter= Perspective= Loving Your Life!

6. My eyes were opened to the organization CelebrateKids.com and the amazing Dr. Kathy Koch. I loved listening to her speak in such a self-aware and encouraging manner. She reminded us of the need to celebrate each child’s individual personality and uniqueness. Look her up, she’s amazing!

5. I learned that when it comes to the never-ending battle against unwanted chin hair I am not alone! ‘Nuf said! J

4. It was wonderful to know that my own family could sustain themselves while I was away. My house wasn’t totally clean when I got home, but it hadn’t been condemned either. A step in the right direction!

3. I didn’t shave my legs for 3 whole days and I did not care one bit.

2. I was encouraged to know that a film company in Hollywood cares enough about moms to make a movie called Mom’s Night Out, which will make us laugh and feel uplifted about our lives as moms. It opens May 9th in theaters across the country.

1. I met a ton of wonderful moms who made ME laugh til I piddled myself! Thank you! I needed that!

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Thanks! I needed that!

“Thanks! I needed that!”  I’ve heard women say that a thousand times.  I heard it again this weekend more times than I could count at The Hearts At Home (HAH!) conference, a huge gathering designed to help moms let loose, laugh, and learn to love their lives.  

Just like a young John Goodman says in the old commercial (can you believe that was John Goodman? Who knew?), woman after woman told me how much they enjoyed the moments of laughter with the enthusiastic exclamation, “Thanks!  I really needed that!” The way they said it made me think they hadn’t laughed very hard in recent memory (assuming they still had a memory after children crashed their mental party).  Some went so far as to tell me that they hadn’t laughed that hard EVER, or at least not since the epidural wore off (which in itself is explainable to a degree).  I completely understand where they were coming from, seeing as I am a woman AND a mom, a fact my three sons often refute.  (“You’re not a girl, you’re a mom!” Whatever.)

If we as women, and more to the point, if we as moms NEED to laugh, whether it’s a silent giggle or a snorting guffaw, then why oh why do we not DO it, at least on a semi-regular basis?  If we know that a night of humor, especially in the company of other women who are our same boat (the one with the mommy-sized hole in it), can help us regain our perspective and encourage us to live our lives with joy and gratitude, then why don’t we GET that for ourselves?  If we’re hungry, we eat.  If we’re tired, we sleep. (Ok, bad examples for moms, but you know what I mean.) If a healthy giggle infuses our hearts and minds with enough energy to press on another day, why do we feel like doing so is self-indulgence rather than self-preservation?  We can only GIVE our families what we overflow with internally, so why in heaven’s name do we deprive ourselves of life-giving humor and mirth?

After all, if our child says they NEED a coat we would give them the one off our back until we could GET them one of their own, wouldn’t we?  Or if our boss says he NEEDS our report to take care of business, we GET it to him in a timely manner.  In the same way, if our husband says he NEEDS… oh well, you GET the picture.  As women, we typically aim to please… those around us and not ourselves.  We’re moms, and that’s what we do, right?  That’s what is expected of us, at least it can feel that way.  I’ve often joked that the word MOTHERS really stands for Making Others Time Here on Earth Really Special. 

Maybe we forgo levity because we need to be reminded that moms are people too, and that we need to take care of ourselves as well as others.  Perhaps we’ve also forgotten that laughter is contagious, and that when mama is happy, everyone is happy. Or perhaps it’s because we’ve forgotten that God says “a cheerful heart is good medicine,” and we need to up the dose.

One way to increase your dose is to give yourself permission to take some time for fun.  Yes, fun.  (Remember what that is?) Walk and talk with a friend, or call your mom and ask her to tell you a funny story from your childhood (unless you know it will make her cry). Better yet, take an evening to dine with other stress-toting mamas, and let the collective laughter oxygenate your maternal soul in a way nothing else can. Finally, make plans to see the upcoming motion picture Moms Night Out opening Mother’s Day weekend with friends or family.  Let the film’s light-hearted encouragement wash over you, and see if you won’t find yourself saying… “Thanks! I needed that!”

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I had the pleasure of meeting and hanging out with Sarah Drew )April Kepner in Grey’s Anatomy & the lead in a new movie, “Mom’s Night Out.“) Check it out if you get the chance! It’s sure to bring you a good laugh.

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