About This #IceBucketChallenge for ALS

My favorite picture of Ron before ALS changed his life

My favorite picture of Ron before ALS changed his life

My step-father, Ron McCormick died from ALS on July 4, 2011.

For 10 years he endured this terrible disease that is also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. For many years we, as a family raised money for ALS research and participated as a team in the Walk to Defeat ALS in Colorado and Missouri, and attended candlelight vigils, but never thought about dumping ice water on our head!

This #IceBucketChallenge makes me smile. Seeing so many people getting involved with an organization that is committed to finding a cure for ALS is inspiring.

As of yesterday, (8/21/14) the ALSA has received $41.8 million in donations, as opposed to $2.1 million raised during this same time in 2013 (July 29 to August 21). ~ALS Association

There are haters out there, bashing this Challenge. Forget those people!

Anything that gets this much attention for ALS is a good thing. The more attention we bring to ALS, the better chance we have to find a cure, because cures are not cheap, people!

The following is an excerpt of a post I wrote for Ron on his 62nd birthday.

* * * * *

Ron in 2003

Ron McCormick turns 62 years old today. It’s a birthday to celebrate. He should eat lots of sugar-loaded cake. He should open presents from loved ones. He should kick up his heels, dance a little, maybe on a table. But he can’t because he was diagnosed with a fatal disease called ALS.

Ron is now completely paralyzed. He has lived with the disease for almost 9 years. Typical life expectancy is 3-5 years after diagnosis. So he has lived far beyond the “norm”. But he is tired. He is weary.

Ron in 2010

Ron in 2010

Ron has been on a ventilator for more years than I can remember (since 2003). He can’t eat. He can’t drink. He can’t swallow. He has a feeding tube. His throat has to be suctioned out continually. He can’t sit up on his own. He can’t talk. He only “talks” using a special computer. My mom and his caregivers try to read his lips but over the years that has become almost impossible. He can’t walk. He can’t hug his grandchildren. He can’t work on rebuilding his Monte Carlo. He needs 24/7 care, even though the state of Missouri doesn’t feel he “needs” it and will not pay for that kind of care. My mother is left to “fend for herself”, using whatever or whoever she can as a caregiver. Many of these people, although good-hearted, are not qualified to be this type of caregiver and they learn as they go (just as she has). With all this she also works a full-time job and takes care of Ron’s young grand kids.

* * * * *

This is why I give to the ALSA.

IT’S NOT ABOUT THE ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE…IT’S ABOUT FINDING A CURE. If dumping a bucket of ice-cold water on your head is the thing you are compelled to do for ALS, then go for it! I will watch your video, and applaud you. But also give money because that is really the point.

If you are like me, the idea of dumping ice-cold water on your head gives you chills, well, ALS will take your check without the ice water! Either way the ALS wins!

Because it’s time we found a cure!

Ron’s Story | What is ALS | ALSA | Walk to Defeat ALS

 

175 Years of Photography | World Photo Day

It wasn’t that long ago we waited days to get our pictures back from the lab just to see that our lighting was wrong or we inadvertently cut off someone’s head in the shot. And there was no Photoshopping that!

It seems like yesterday I begrudgingly traded in my film SLR camera for a fancy DSLR camera, which is coming close to being replaced by my phone! Honestly, I have used my DSLR camera twice in this summer. Twice!

I don’t know about you, but I have also traded in scrapbooking for Instagram when it comes memory preservation. Maybe it’s been Facebook for you? Shutterfly can connect to my Instagram account (Facebook too) and create a sweet little photobook for me at the end of the year. Seriously.

Today is World Photography Day, celebrating 175 years since the first permanent photographic process was patented on August 19, 1839.

Photography has changed since 1839…just a little *wink*. It has given the birth to the Selfie (like it or not). Photos today are tagged, hashtagged, Liked, and go viral. They are shared instantly and open for critique, good and bad.

One thing that hasn’t changed: We take photos to record our life…right where we are.

WorldPhotoDay

I take photos of the beauty around me, silly selfies, a lot of Starbucks drinks, crafts, my family, everyday life, food, my dogs. I bet you do too. Happy Birthday to the art of photography! May it keep evolving.

My Instagram | Shutterfly | World Photo Day | MyFlickr | Shop

Inspiration For Your Weekend

Wizard of Oz 75 years

It’s the 75th Anniversary of The Wizard of Oz! Pop some popcorn, mix in some M&M’s, turn out the lights and have a movie night! Because, “There’s no place like home.”

Ann V Quote

Um, great minds think alike, I think. Thanks Ann Voskamp. Need some spiritual healing? Click on over to Ann’s blog this weekend.

GFA Isaiah Verse

Photo courtesy of GFA. Verse added by me, courtesy of Isaiah.

Sarah Bessey reminded me of something very important. Not that I really forgot, but sometimes we ‘turn off’ the evil in the world because our heart can’t take it. Remember what is worth fighting for, and what is not. What makes a difference, and what does not.

May you have a blessed weekend. May you look up and around and see that there is beauty around you. May you guard your heart against the evil in this world. May you pray for those who are fighting their own battle against evil.

Honestly Messy Life

Dear friend,

You came to my house last evening. I welcomed you in. I offered you a drink. Among the mess, we sat down on the sofa to chat.

It wasn’t that many years ago that this simple act of friendship would have sent anxiety coursing through my veins. I was acutely aware of the mess around us.

Messy House

You can see my kids’ rooms are messy with toys about the floor. There are dirty dishes in the sink and the carpet could use another vacuum to remove massive amounts of dog hair.

There is dust on my ceiling fan blades. It actually looks more like the blades have grown fur. I admit, I wish I had cleaned them before you stopped by. No worries, I did what any self-respecting woman would do…I turned on the ceiling fans as to disguise the dirt on the edges!

In years past I would have vacuumed every inch of my house, cleaned the bathroom (why is there a shoe on the counter?), and loaded the dirty dishes into the dishwasher…and of course, wiped down the ceiling fans before your visit.

Back then I was so worried about doing it all, doing it perfectly, I wasn’t living an authentic life. It was the fake, Martha Stewart way of doing life. I was fueled by the accolades you gave me, whether it was for the fabulous birthday party I planned, or the compliments when you said, “Your house is always clean.”

I wanted to do it all because that signaled that I had it all together. When really anxiety was ruling my head. I was so concerned about hiding the mess that I forgot to live life.

The real me has dust on the edges; and if I want you to know me, really know me, then you need to see that dust.

Life is messy. And if you have kids, it’s really messy. If we are honest, my friend, we are all messy.

In today’s world it’s not easy to admit that we can’t do it all every single moment. We shouldn’t compete with the glossy styled homes pictured in magazines; or the Pinterest food too pretty to eat; or our fabulous Facebook friends. We are only seeing what they want us to see.

I want to know the real you too. Mess and all. Let’s live this messy life together. That’s the honest, messy truth.

An Open Letter to Our Elected Officials, No. 2

Dear elected officials,

It is with a heavy heart that I am writing this letter. I had high hopes for you. I had hoped that you would make good on your campaign promises. I believed you when you said you would change this country; make it better, greater, safer, stronger.

You said you could fix the health care system with ObamaCare. In order to do this the insured had to become uninsured to then become reinsured under the new health care reform. I would like you to know that it is the end of July, my husband and I have yet to receive our insurance cards under the new plan. I have spent almost nine hours of phones calls, mailing forms, taking forms to an office, sitting on hold to get YOUR new and improved plan. When I can buy a house easier and faster than health insurance, there is something wrong. Did you sign up for the same plan you forced me to? Of course, you didn’t.

You promised us safer communities for our children. Over the July 4th weekend 67 people were shot in Chicago alone. Eleven people died in one weekend! That is in Chicago, not Iraq. What are you doing for the children of this city? What are you doing to help the law enforcement combat the crime there? You post signs with #BringBackOurGirls, but where’s your #SaveChicagoChildren? Don’t you own a home there, President Obama? This is your town, right?

South American children are being exploited, abused and dying crossing the border into the U.S. You are housing these children at an estimated cost of $2.28 billion, while not allowing journalist to report the condition of the camps. You Tweet comments and hold up protest signs as if these children are not human beings. What these children need more than anything is compassion from the American people, not to be used as pawns in your political games. By allowing these children to stay in the U.S. you are a willing accomplices to more deaths. Mixed in with these children are dangerous gang members. Can you tell the difference?

You asked us, the people, to tighten our belts. You told us we must make sacrifices. You said there will be tough choices in the future. But, I ask, what sacrifices have you made? You have added to our national debt, closed government while still taking a paycheck, and taken expensive vacations on the taxpayer’s dime. Mr. President, you have taken 141 days vacation since taking office. “The typical U.S. worker at a private company gets 10 days of paid vacation and six paid holidays per year.” Do the math. Although, I believe everyone, especially you, needs down-time, you are oblivious to the cost of your expensive trips. We paid for that trip to Maui, Martha’s Vineyard and elsewhere. You owe the American people a thank you note.

You have broken your promises time and time again. The American people are tired of being thrown under the bus. We are tired of being lied to. For the good of this country, and my family, I must make some tough choices come election year. Unless you change your self-serving ways you will be asked to clean out your office. Go stand in the unemployment line that you helped create. Meet the people you should have been working for. Look into the faces of the struggling American families you promised to help. Ask them how they like the change in this country; the change in their lives.

Don’t wait until it’s too late.

Sincerely,
American Registered Voter

Sweet Memories of Childhood

I don’t know anyone who says they had a great childhood, except my hubby. This, despite the fact his family moved around a lot as a child and there was lean times when his dad was unemployed. He still claims he had a great childhood. What a little optimist.

Childhood is what you spent the rest of your life trying to overcome. -Hope Floats

Yeah, that sums up my childhood.

Sure, there were happy times, like wondering the woods behind our house. I found solace exploring the forest floor, following the creek to see what lay around the bend, and catching a lizard or two.

We also had a cherry tree growing in our backyard. Living in the country, our property had several fruit trees. The apple trees were too sour to eat or to bake a pie. But, the cherries…that was a different story.

My ‘lil sister and I would climb the cherry tree, perch ourselves on a limb and pluck the sweet, red fruit from the stem, popping it into our mouths. The burst of sweet, sour, juiciness exploding in our mouths. I savored every bite!

From childhood, cherries have signaled the beginning of summer.

Cherries are a healthy summer treat but add a little sugar, butter and flour and you’ve got yourself something truly amazing.

I’d like to share with you two of my favorite cherry baked desserts.

First up is Grandma Mary’s Cherry Chocolate Cake

CherryCake

The best cherry chocolate cake ever!

This cake is from Grandma Mary’s recipe files. She takes 1 box of chocolate cake mix, 2 eggs and 1 can of cherry pie filling. That’s it. Mix those three ingredients together. I hand mixed the cake so the cherries remained intact. Mary uses a hand mixer and the cherries get broken up. Either way this cake is sooooo good! Bake per cake mix directions in a 9×12 pan, let cool, then top with your favorite chocolate icing (homemade or store-bought). Mary brought this cake to a family dinner and fooled everyone into thinking it made from scratch.

Cherry Chocolate Chip Blondies

cherry chocolate blondies

photo by Averie Cooks

I made these Blondies by Averie Cooks a few weeks ago to take to a dinner party with friends. There were no leftovers! These Blondies are chewy, gooey, goodness.

What to do When it Feels Like the World is Falling Apart

Okay. So.

I had a post ready for today. It is thoughts on our summer bible reading of Ephesians 5. I can’t post that today.

My heart is heavy.

I can’t post that when planes are shot down. When Hamas is raging war against Israel. When ISIS is persecuting Christians, forcing them from their homeland they have had for the past 2000 years. When girls are kidnapped from schools. When children are dying to cross the border. When war rages in Ukraine.

That’s heavy stuff.

So. What’s a girl to do when it feels like the world is falling apart?

When the chaos of the world crushes my heart.

When injustice reins and hope has been drowned out.

When I feel helpless and hopeless.

When I sit safe at home.

When there is nothing I can do but Tweet information and support for fellow Christians being killed for our faith.

When governments, the U.N. turn a blind eye.

When hashtags don’t help.

When evil runs wild, and good is hard see.

My heart needs protection. I desperately need it.

Ephesians6

Source: unlockingthebible.org

I need to put on the Armor of God, as Paul instructs us to do in Ephesians 6.

[10] A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. [11] Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. [12] For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

[13] Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. [14] Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. [15] For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. [16] In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. [17] Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

[18] Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. Ephesians 6:10-18

Today, I will ‘put on all of God’s armor’.

Today, I will ‘pray for all believers everywhere’.

Today, I will ‘hold up my shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil’.

Today, I will ‘take the sword of the Spirit’ and ‘stand firm against all strategies of the devil.

Let it go…and Forgive Yourself.

let it go

Background photo by StockVault, text added using Ribbet

We all make mistakes.

It’s a pitfall of being human.

There are minor mistakes that we make when we are children and teenagers that we like to call “learning experiences”. The consequences aren’t very high. We learn from those mistakes and move on with our life. No harm done.

Then there are mistakes we make that take a lifetime to get over. Mistakes that have major consequences for ourselves or others. Mistakes that hurt others unintentionally, or intentionally. These mistakes have great impact and we have to live with it for the rest of our lives. And, sometimes we blame ourselves for another’s mistakes. As if we could have prevented their mistake.

Whatever the mistake, great or small, sometimes it takes time to forgive ourselves, even when we have already been forgiven. We may beat ourselves up over the situation. Dwelling on it. Playing the event out in our head, over and over. The mistake consumes us. Before long, we begin to believe that mistake defines us. We continue to punish ourselves for it.

We can’t let it go.

Forgiving others is easier than forgiving ourselves. Why is that?

The big question is how do we accept the mistakes we have made in the past? How do we stop punishing ourselves and let it go already? Where do we find hope and forgiveness?

The answer has been here all along. Forgiveness is a gift from God through Jesus Christ. God’s love is never defined by our past mistakes. He loves us no matter the mistakes. He gave us a way to let it go.

Repent from the heart and the slate is wiped clean. Simple.

Look what He did for a murderer named Moses. He turned Moses into a great and compassionate leader who lead the Israelites out of slavery. Paul, Matthew, David. The Bible is full of people who made mistakes but were forgiven anyway.

If He forgave those guys, He can do the same for you. Oh, wait. He already has.

Paul said, “I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.” Philippians 3:13 (NLT).

Paul let it go.

Have you let it go? Or, have you been manipulated and controlled by your past mistakes?

Take Paul’s advice. Forget the past and look forward to the future. Give it all to God. Confess your sins, wrongdoings, mistakes.

He has already forgiven you. Now, it’s time to forgive yourself. 

LINKING UP with Holley Gerth Coffee for Your Heart, because she rocks! Please click on over and read more ladies who rock with encouragement.

A Summer Letter to my Kids

Dear kids,

You have 35 days of summer vacation left before school starts. I would suggest you don’t waste it with whining, fighting, and proclaiming, “I am bored!”.

I am bored is not a disease. It is not an affliction that calls for a remedy. It is not a bell you ring and the entertainment director magically appears with a circus. I am also not that entertainment director I speak of.

Bored is what adults call leisure time.

Look, before you know it we will be school supply shopping. I will register you for school next week. We will be meeting your teachers, learning your new schedule, signing up for fall sports, and fighting about math homework.

Splashing rain

Summer is not be squandered. It should be relished, adored, relaxed.

With every proclamation of “I am bored” is an opportunity for adventure, creativity and ingeniousness.

Summer is the perfect time to use those little brains of yours to seize the day.

Cape Diem.

Spalshing rain3

Splash in the rain puddles like the neighbors aren’t looking out the window, shaking their heads.

Grab an arm full of recyclable materials from the recycle bin and create something awesome with glue and glitter.

Pull out the Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys, and Legos from the closet and build. Let your imagination run wild.

Head to the backyard and build a tent, have a picnic, play in the sprinklers, and enjoy the summer sunshine.

Splashing rain2

Don’t waste this summer. In a few short years you will be leaving behind these carefree days for adulthood. You’ll wish you could have a summer vacation.

Go on…seize the day.

*Pictures by Alexandra

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