Guidance

I really do not like it when my words come back to haunt me. I recently had a discussion with someone who is considering taking a pretty big leap. They said that they just wanted to wait until God gave them a sign that they were doing the right thing. I reminded them of this joke:

After a long period of rain it became clear that a small town on the banks of a river was going to flood. As the residents evacuated a man in a truck noticed the minister of a small church standing on the steps. He rolled down his window and yelled, “Come on, Preacher! Get in the truck and I’ll take you to safety!” The minister shook his head and replied, “Thank you, but no need. God will take care of me. “

The water flooded out the church yard, and as it rose higher and higher, a family motored by in a boat. They called to the minister, “Come with us! We will take you to safety!” Again, the minister answered, “Thank you, but no need. God will take care of me.”

The water continued to rise and after a while, the minister made his way up to the roof top. After a while a helicopter hovered overhead and a member of the National Guard shouted down, “Give me your hand, Pastor. We will take you to safety!” The minister responded, “Thank you, but no need. God will take care of me.”

As the water continued to rise, the minister took one last breath and then seemed surprised to find himself standing at the gates of Heaven. He exclaimed, “I don’t understand, God! I had faith! I thought you would save me! Why did you allow me to die? Why didn’t you save me?”

“My son,” replied the Lord, “I tried to save you three times. I sent a truck, a boat, and a helicopter. Is it my fault you didn’t have enough sense to get into one of them?”

Now, I told this joke and then asked the person I was having a conversation with if they had really thought about what they said. The leap of faith this person was considering had been suggested by their spouse, their friends, their family, and even a few people who barely knew them. It was clear to EVERYONE around them that this was something that would be really good for this individual. Well, to everyone EXCEPT the individual.

I pointed out that perhaps all of these different people suggesting the same thing, even helping to find the resources to make it happen…..maybe THAT was the sign from God that they were waiting for. Maybe they were ignoring it, just like the minister in the joke missed the truck, the boat, and the helicopter.

Tonight, it’s my turn. I think I might be ignoring a call from above. Not ignoring, but not responding like I should. I want to be sure that I am doing the right thing. I am waiting for a sign from God. Perhaps I’ve already seen that sign though. Part of it is because I am a nervous wreck. This thing is not something I ever wanted for myself. In fact, I am pretty sure I once said, “I don’t care what anyone says. I will NEVER do that!” Yeah. Kind of like looking a God and saying,  “Make me! I dare ya!”

Part of it is that I don’t feel like I am at all qualified to do what I am feeling led to do. And every time I even start to think that, I am reminded of one of my favorite sayings:

God does not call the qualified. He qualifies the called!

I know that if this is what God wants me to do, he will give me the means to do it. I’m scared though. I’m terrified, actually. What if I mess up? What if it’s a success? What if it ends up being a much larger project than I suspected.

-sigh- I know I am dragging my feet. I just need a little nudge from above if this is what I am supposed to be doing.

Because really, I never thought I would find myself here.

I never wanted to be here.

But I know that someone needs to do it.

And as much as I don’t want to admit it….. I think that maybe I am someone.

Please, please, please! Say a prayer for me. A prayer for guidance. A prayer for strength. A prayer for courage.

Just Pray!

(I realize this post is kind of vague. I apologize for that. Part of it is not my story to tell. The part of it that is my story to tell, just isn’t ready to be told in whole yet. I do need guidance, but I believe I will probably be sharing the whole story here in time. Please, bear with me in the mean time!)

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The truth is……..

The truth is, I am very angry. I try to pretend I’m okay with things, but I am not. My husband and I have been trying to add to our family for more than 6 years now. 75 cycles. 

SEVENTY-FIVE.

In that time, we have had 8 miscarriages.

EIGHT. 

Seriously, life isn’t fair. 

In that time, we have watched COUNTLESS friends a family members get pregnant and have babies. One woman who I met on a message board when we first started trying….. she just found out she is pregnant with her fifth baby. Guess how many kids she had when we met. NONE. 

I try to be happy for others when they find out they are pregnant. I try to be happy when they have babies. Most of the time I can be happy for them. Sometimes, I can even get really excited for someone. Other times, it takes every ounce of strength I have not to throw a temper tantrum. I put on a happy face, and then the minute I am alone, I have a melt down. 

Yes, I have two children already. Yes, I am thankful for them. It still hurts. Yes, my husband loves them like they were his own. They are not. I just want to give my husband a baby of his own. I want a big family. Other people have HUGE families. Why can’t I have even one more baby?

I know that God has a plan, and that sometimes we just don’t understand that plan. Right now though…… I’m pretty angry about that plan. Why bring together two people who love each other so much and want to have kids so badly and then not allow them to have a baby. It’s just cruel. 

I’m angry that I don’t get to bring a baby home. I am angry that adopting a child is so expensive. I’m angry that there are women having babies every day who mistreat, injure or kill those children. Why does God allow someone like that to have a baby, yet there are so many wonderful, amazing women I met who desperately want a child and cannot have one. 

The truth is, it just isn’t fair.

The truth is……at least for today…… I am PISSED!

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My Daddy taught me……..

When I was younger, my Dad taught me that if I couldn’t say something nice, I shouldn’t say anything at all. Clearly, I haven’t had anything nice to say. :)

Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone followed that advice?

As a society, we have become very negative people. Sometimes we pretend we are cracking a joke to cover up our negativity. Other times we are just very blunt with our negativity. Either way, there is a lot of that negativity floating around. Someone announces a pregnancy and we say, “Get some rest while you can. You are never going to sleep again!” or “Wow, don’t you know what causes that?” or “Are you sure you are really ready?” (Gee, really? Are any of us ever REALLY ready for that responsibility? They are likely already doubting themselves and you just tossed fertilizer on that seed of doubt!) Someone announces and engagement and we laugh and say “Run while you can!” or “Don’t do it!”

Why? 

Why do we behave in such a negative manner? Why not encourage each other. Why not say congratulations, and leave it there? If you want to say more, discuss the joys of being a parent, or how much you enjoy married life. Why tell this poor soul every horror story you know? They want support, not to be scared! While we are there, why give any advice? Did they ask for advice? If so, feel free to give supportive advice, but if not….. keep it to yourself. 

That goes for any conversation you are ever a part of. If someone does not specifically ask for your advice, please, don’t give it. For example…. I don’t need the nurse at the clinic telling me that the reason I am fighting infertility is because I try to hard to get pregnant. I’m here because of a possible pink eye, not your opinion. Just take my vitals and send in the doctor, please. I definitely DO NOT need to hear you talk about how the last thing you wanted was to be pregnant, but you are. I don’t need to hear you complain about your pregnancy either! If I am buying pregnancy tests and tampons at the same time, you do not need to lecture me on how I am wasting money on one purchase or the other. No one asked for a commentary on my purchases. Just do your job and tell me what the total is.

When someone comments that they are home schooling their children, the didn’t ask you to tell them that they are ruining their child’s life. They didn’t ask you whether or not you thought their child was socialized enough. It’s not your job to inform them that their child will never get into a decent college (Actually, many colleges ACTIVELY recruit home schooled children!). If you have questions, ask, but don’t judge or lecture.

People don’t need to be told that their loved one passing on was part of a grander plan. They don’t need to hear you say that the spouse who left is a jerk. They don’t want you to bad mouth the company where they just lost their job. Just say “I’m sorry”. It works much better.  

Remember to say please and thank you.Say excuse me. When someone gets bad news, I’m sorry covers it. When someone gets good news, congratulations works. You don’t have to gush if you aren’t truly excited, or to sob if you aren’t truly heartbroken, but at least acknowledge what they are feeling. Just get back to basic manners folks. 

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Scriptures that strengthen…

Proverbs 19:5 – A false witness will not go unpunished, and whoever pours out lies will not go free.
Proverbs 19:9 –  A false witness will not go unpunished, and whoever pours out lies will perish.

This was so important that it was stated TWICE within just a few verses. This is so important for me to hear tonight. It seriously was a verse whispered just for me. I don’t often run around screaming scriptures from the mountaintops. I honestly don’t often find a great deal of comfort in a single scripture. Don’t take that the wrong way. I don find comfort in the bible, but I do not come up with a single scripture and then cling to it like it’s a life raft. This verse, on this day, is different though.

We’ve been having trouble with our neighbor. The man is honestly, mentally unstable. I had to move my two dogs from their kennel, inside because of this guy. He would yell at my kids and tell them to get away from his dogs whenever they were outside feeding the dogs or playing with them. I thought it was a joke at first, but then he asked me to tell my children to stay away from his dogs. 

A few years ago, this guy tore out the sidewalk in front of his house. There is still a right of way where the sidewalk should be, and we urge our children to use that instead of the road. It’s a small town, but there are still some crazy drivers around here! A few weeks ago this guy came screaming out of his house while my husband was walking by and was ranting about how we were trespassing and that he was going to call the police.  My husband kind of shrugged and said if it was that big of a deal, he wouldn’t walk there.

Fast forward to one day a week and a half ago. The kids went out and rode their bikes for a little while, and then they came in, did their chores, and ate dinner. They had been inside about two hours when someone knocked on the door. It was the police. Apparently the neighbor said that my kids had *just* been riding their bikes through his yard and ruining his grass. Part of me wonders if he saw some other kids there, the other part of me thinks he is insane, and that this was the ramblings of a crazy man. It basically wasn’t a big deal. The cop said to keep my kids away from him, and went back and asked him to stay off my property. (He has a habit of driving through the middle of my yard on his riding mower, with the blades down. He’s destroyed four water hoses in the past three years this way.) 

Tonight was the city council meeting. We had asked to be place on the agenda to discuss this issue with the council. Basically, we wanted them to make it clear to the crazy guy that there was still a public right-of-way on the property, and maybe have them tell him he needed to replace the sidewalk. (The fact is, walking down the middle of the street isn’t safe for anyone, especially for the kids.)

Instead, this lady that was at his house with him the day the cops were called stood up and said that my kids were riding their bikes through his yard and spinning them around sideways and sliding intentionally to tear up his yard. She said that he had repeated asked us to keep the kids off his grass, (he only ever mentioned it the one day to my husband) and that we then led the children across his yard repeatedly, telling them that it didn’t matter what he said, and that they could tear up his grass if they wanted to. This lady, (who I have NEVER had a conversation with, and have no idea who she is) when on and on about what terrible, disrespectful monsters my kids were for several minutes, and every bit of what she said was a lie. (The crazy neighbor wasn’t there, but this lady felt the need to speak out for whatever reason).

I don’t by any means think that my children are angels. I know that they are not perfect. There are days that I suspect they are monsters! lol However, I know that my children were not tearing up this mans yard. In fact, I know that they won’t even walk through his yard unless I am with them because they are scared of him. 

God certainly helped me more than once today. He gave me the strength to keep my anger in check (and anyone who knows me realizes what a miracle that is!) and then he gave me these scriptures. I said I have never clung to a scripture in the past, but I am clinging to this one tonight. God knew that I needed this scripture, and I am so thankful for that. 

Proverbs 19:5 - A false witness will not go unpunished, and whoever pours out lies will not go free.
Proverbs 19:9 –  A false witness will not go unpunished, and whoever pours out lies will perish.

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If you don’t jump, you’ll never know if you can fly.

I’m going to jump. Not today. I have to wait two or three years.
 I am going to jump though.
Hey, I want to see if I can fly. How else can I find out?

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After meeting with one of my former instructors today (and a couple of his friends), I have decided I am actually going to go for it. I’ve been thinking about it for a year now. To be honest, I thought about it as a child.

Law school.

Craziness.

Scary craziness.

We are talking about $200,000 worth of craziness. And that is just for law school. That’s not even including the time I’ve spent working on my Associate Degrees at the community college, or the year and a half that will go into getting my bachelors’ degrees at the business institute. 

Oh, did I mention the M.B.A.?

Yeah, I am going to get an M.B.A. as well. It will open the door to some teaching opportunities on top of the opportunities that will come from my law degree and my CPA certification. 

I’m going to be almost 40 before I even graduate from college! And then I am going to have to find a job. And pay back loans. Hopefully not too many loans though. I’m going to be on the search for scholarships and grants. 

Law school.

It sounds kind of insane saying it out loud. It’s exciting though. I am really looking forward to it. I think. It also makes me kind of sick to think about it. I mean… it’s law school. It’s scary. Not to mention the fact that I am kind of older than the average law student. It’s mostly exciting though. I’m almost giddy! Do me a favor. Keep your eyes and ears open. If you have any advice on finding grants for school, let me know. I’d really appreciate it.

I’m really doing it. I’m living my better life! 

~Stephanie

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Memorial Day Heroes


I thought for a long time about what to say in this post. I debated whether I should even post anything at all today. I know that what I am going to say is going to piss some people off. People are not going to take the time to hear me out, and instead of understanding, they will just leave mad. That isn’t what I want, but I can’t just sit back and keep my mouth shut. That’s just not who I am.

I was raised in a home where God, Country, and Family all ran a very close race. My father was a very religious man most of my life, even taking time to witness to friends from his deathbed. He was a loving family man, always there for us in any way that he possibly could be. He was also very proud to be an American, and very proud of the time he spent in service to this country as a member of the U.S. Navy. He proudly flew the American flag every day unless it was raining. It went up at sunrise, and came in a sunset. Dad was passionate about those three things, and while he was very easy to get along with, trash talking any of those three would bring out a side of Dad that you didn’t want to see.

Growing up in a house like that, you had no choice but to develop a healthy respect for God and church, America, the military and the commander in chief, and for all things family. I’ve lost friends and family in war. I’ve gathered to see soldiers off and cried as they left for war, and I have cheered as we welcomed them home. Memorial Day…. the day when we pause to remember the fallen and give thanks for those who serve our country….. has always been my favorite holiday. Part of that is because of the respect for the day and those it honors that my Dad instilled in me. Part of that is because I grew up in Grafton, WV, home to the longest running Memorial Day celebration in America.

Memorial Day in Grafton isn’t just a big day. It’s a nearly week long celebration. You see, there are two national cemeteries in West Virginia. One was just a few blocks from my childhood home, and the other…. my father’s final resting spot…. was only 5 or so miles away. Memorial Day was legendary in this town. This year was the 145th annual Memorial Day celebration. Kind of a big deal.

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Friends from high school, family members, three young people taken entirely too young, one man… so proud of his time in the service. Cemeteries that I grew up in and around, being taught from a very young age that this was sacred ground. Heroes.

Should we really call each and every soldier a hero? Yes, they served our country, and for that I am eternally grateful. Yes, some of them gave their lives for us, and for that, I can never thank them enough. My problem comes when the leaders of our country continue to lead us into wars that we shouldn’t really be in to begin with. Every day men and women are dying in service of our country, but are the still defending us, or are they doing the bidding of a few in Washington that want to be bully the rest of the world?

I am by no means calling our soldiers bullies. I have talked at length with many of them, and I know they are doing what they do because they love our country and they want to ensure that we continue to have the freedoms that they are willing to die to protect. I also know that many of our service men and women do not feel we should be in the wars we are currently serving in.

I hate to see our government officials leading us into war with promises of defending our heroes. I hate seeing them justifying our wars by saying “our citizens want this. Look at how they honor their fallen soldiers.”

The citizens in other countries think we all feel the same way that our leaders do, and they believe that because all they see is the images that our government want them to see. Images of us waving flags and cheering for soldiers….. the same soldiers that are “liberating” them from situations they don’t feel that they need liberated from. The same soldiers that in their eyes are responsible for the bombs that kill their children along with the bad guys.

It’s not that I don’t want to honor our soldiers. I do! I just really hate to see how our government is using those images to push their own agendas. It’s heartbreaking. It’s sickening. It’s time to put a stop to it. So yes, honor our soldiers. Shake their hands. Tell them thank you, but demand that our government stop using them to advance their own agendas.

Thank you to Brandon Sapp, Anissa Shuttlesworth Shero, and Duane Thornsberry who gave their lives in service of our country, and to my dad, Steven McIe, who was so proud of his time in the service and who molded me into the person I am today. Thank you to my cousin Michelle and my friend/brother John who are still serving today, and to my brother Rob, who served in the past. Thank you to each and every man and woman who has ever put on a uniform and served this country. I am more grateful than I can ever express and I am very sorry that our government has used you to advance their own agenda.

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This is Heaven!

In my quest to become more self-sufficient, I decided to try to make some homemade butter. My friend Kara had posted a link on Facebook about how easy it can be to make butter using just a mason jar and three ingredients, so I figured I couldn’t mess it up too bad. I got out a jar, picked up a half quart of heavy whipping cream (I can’t wait until I have some land and a dairy cow so that I can just go out and get my own!). It’s pretty simple. You just pour the cream into the jar, seal the lid and shake. It might be a good idea to have some helpers because you are going to be shaking this jar for an eternity! (Ok, not really, but it kind of felt that way!) 

I will say, I forgot the step about letting the cream sit out until it warms up. That supposedly cuts down on the amount of time that you have to shake. I’ll have to see when I make some more next week. Basically, just shake it though. First you hear it swishing around, but quickly you hear it start to thicken up. After a few minutes, it sounds like nothing is happening. If you open it up, it’s a whipped cream consistency, and with a little sugar and vanilla, this can be delicious, but it isn’t butter, and that is what we are making today! (My husband has make the whipped cream in the past…. I’ll try that later.)

Anyway….. we are still shaking. We don’t hear anything, and I am convinced I have somehow screwed up this REALLY simple process. I still keep shaking. Up and down, side to side… it doesn’t matter, just keep shaking. After 5 or 6 minutes, It’s starts making a noise again. It’s kind of a kashook, kashook, kashook type sound. The butter has separated out from the buttermilk (The white liquid.) Drain the buttermilk into a separate container and you can use it for something else. Add some cold water to the jar, shake it to ‘wash’ the butter, drain it and repeat a few times. You need to get out the remaining buttermilk. This will keep your butter fresh longer. Once you have rinsed it several times, you can take the butter out, and roll it on a paper town to dry it. Keep it as cool as possible during this process. Place the butter in a dish and refrigerate. The butter will last a few days to a week depending on how well you have washed it. Not as long as store bought, but it’s so delicious that I doubt it will last that long anyway!

Here is the link to the site that Kara posted: Shake ‘n make your own butter. It’s more detailed and probably explains it better, but I wanted to share my experience. I made this yesterday. Today, I pulled out my trusty Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. I have fresh, homemade butter. Of course, I need fresh, homemade bread!

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I love this cookbook. My mom had one, I’ve had several (because I am really rough on cookbooks!) and I am pretty sure my grandma and both of my great grandmas had one too. This is the BEST cookbook in the world. I am really disappointed that the Biscuit Supreme recipe has been removed  cookbook in the newest edition, but again, that is a different story for a different post. for bread, I LOVE the white bread recipe.

This was so delicious. I had a fabulous dinner planned. Pot roast with potatoes, carrots and onions along with my homemade bread and butter. Instead, we ended up filling up on the bread and butter. We’ll have the pot roast tomorrow. And I just might have to make another batch of bread and butter too! lol I need a farm…. and a couple of dairy cows! 

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