Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Just a Reminder

Sitting at home has never been my thing.  I like to do it every once in a while but I like to be doing something or feeling like I have accomplished something.  I am one of those people who doesn't mind getting up and going to work every morning.  I truly like my job and the people I work with.  But today I am off taking care of my husband who just had gall bladder surgery and the kiddos are home due to this crazy Texas weather.  There is not much for me to do today since I cleaned my house before surgery.  I guess I could clean the clutter piles that are stacked neat in a corner but I really have no motivation to do that either.  I have cleaned the kitchen three times already because when we are home we eat a lot.  I do have to say that I am enjoying staying in my jammies and getting to lay around with no deadlines.

I have had some time to think and reflect on some things in my life.  I shared recently that my life continues to be blessed but that I have had some of my toughest years spiritually.  I thought God was through using me.  I didn't think I had any influence on anyone anymore and that there wasn't anything I had to offer.  I felt some of my prayers were being tossed up only to be put away in a box somewhere and to be brought back out for review when I was good enough again.  But you see I know better than that.  Shame on me for even feeling that way, right?  I know what God's word says and I have experienced God's grace and love over and over again.  Now we have always been a family who prays together and we have never faltered from that but we have been trying to find our direction again.  We have been needing God to set our crooked paths straight.  I need to know that God is not done with me or my household.  There is a mission for the Rhodes family.  Our dreams aren't dead and our passions live on.

So as we had been anticipating Bryan's surgery, I was reminded just how God works in every moment.  He is leading and guiding us on every journey.  Of course Bryan's surgery was not major but the anticipation to get there was nerve wracking.  He had been having problems for a while and needed to get rid of his gall bladder that was causing him pain.  But in the process they discovered that the heart murmur he has had for years had progressed over time and was skipping a bit more.  They wouldn't clear him for surgery until the heart doctor cleared him.  So we began the process of waiting on appointments and waiting on results.  If his heart didn't check out then he would need to have a small heart surgery before removing his gall bladder.  Again, many people go through worse things and this definitely does not compare to other battles people are fighting.  But nonetheless, waiting is never fun.  I had great people praying with me.  People asked me if I was nervous at all.  But I can tell you that this is when I go into crazy prayer person mode.  Nothing messes with people I love.  I was confident that all would be OK and we would get clearance from the heart doctor.

Finally after 2 months of pain, Bryan got word that his heart does need to be monitored but that he can function normally now and could have his surgery.  So surgery was finally scheduled yesterday and was successful.  Now he is just in some pain but getting better by the hour.  But the experience has opened my eyes again to God's goodness and the work of His people.  Though I was confident that all would be a success, I cried after I prayed with Bryan.  He asked me not to, but I couldn't help it.  There is always a risk in surgery and so we talked about his wishes just in case something happened.  That is a hard conversation to have.  He told me that he wanted to make sure that I knew he loved me and that he wanted to have so many more years with me. We are approaching the date of completing 17 years together and are embarking on our 15th year anniversary.  I think the longer we are together the harder it is to think of losing him in my life.  I told him with tears in my eyes that you just realize how much you have with that person.  We have lots of memories, lots of tears together, lots of laughs and two amazing children.  I would fight for this man!  What God put together, nothing can tear apart!

They drugged him up and took him back.  As I waited again for him to come out of surgery, I was able to talk with my mother in law for a long time.  I got to see the woman who gave birth to that 9lb. 15oz. boy still love him like the day she first laid eyes on him.  I have been blessed with Bryan's mom in my life because she has always treated me like her own.  And I know she loves Bryan and my boys with every fiber in her body.  She told me that I will understand when I look at my two boys and that I will never stop being their mom.  She is right!  And that is why I have embraced her in my life and have enjoyed the gestures, meals and words of advice she has always had for us.  She has always been a good mom and would do anything for the guys that are so important to me and her.

The generosity of friends and family through this has been humbling.  People offered prayers up and brought food over.  Even though I am capable of cooking, they insisted on blessing me with meals.  I can never say enough just how much this helps a family out if you are able to bless them in that way. My neighbors came by and one brought Bryan a chocolate pie. We don't live in the biggest house but we are surrounded by the biggest hearted neighbors ever.  I am thankful for this house and how God has loved on us through the amazing people that surround us on all sides.  Friends have covered practices for us and given my kids rides.  This is what "community" and "church" is all about.  We are all busy and not one person can do everything for everyone.  But you can do something for someone.  I don't get caught up in who called and who didn't.  Instead I am thankful for the ones that God placed in my life for such a time as this.  I hope that I can be that person with the right words or the right actions for the right person at the right moment.

And I can't thank everyone without including the two great young men in my life.  These two pull together when they need to.  I get teased because I still make their lunches everyday and wait on them more than I should.  But the morning of the surgery, my mother in law said they got up made their own lunches and were ready to go.  Though they don't do this when I am around, it helps me to know that they pay attention to what I do.  So when they need to do step up, they can.  They watched the time and Bo commented that he knew his Dad was in surgery.  Christian doesn't say much but he is a thinker.  I know that my boys are praying boys.  They are definitely compassionate and can take over when they need to.  We don't always get it right with these two but I am proud of the young men they have become.  I hope we set a good example because Lord knows they are watching every move we make.

There are so many things I could say about this whole experience but I just wanted to brag on God at work.  He truly does hold our every moment.  We go through things we don't always understand.  We have to wait sometimes and the anticipation sometimes cripples us.  In my experiences, I have always found God to be right on time and that when you take a trip through the valley, you can be assured there is a glorious mountaintop waiting to be climbed.  Don't let the cares of this world consume you.  Hold on to your loved ones and fight for them.  They need to know that you want to do life with them.  Don't get caught up in the circles your not in.  Instead focus on the people in your life who leave an imprint on your heart.  For me it doesn't have to be a big gesture, just one that shows you matter.  And remember you can't give your all to 500 facebook friends.  But you can give a lot to someone who needs it when you are all they have.  God is so good and I can't say it enough.  I will never stop including Him in my blogs because there is no part of my life that is without Him.  He leaves me speechless at times!

I am thankful for this time because it is just a reminder that God is up to something good for our family.  We still matter and I do know that He is not done with us.  There has to be purpose for us!  He has brought new people into our lives at the perfect time.  I am looking forward to the journey we are about to take.  Though Bryan may have a heart that beats imperfectly, we know there is a mountain to climb.  That same heart will beat for God and the Rhodes will stand on the top together with every piece to our family fitting together perfectly.

Love these lines from Selah's version of "You Raise Me Up"

There is no life, no life without its hunger
Each restless heart beats so imperfectly
But when You come and I am filled with wonder
Sometimes, I think I glimpse eternity

Friday, January 3, 2014

2014-We Can Do Life Together

So I have never been one for New Year resolutions but I do always like to set some goals. I have a few that always seem to be on my list each and every year like lose weight and be healthy. Let's see if I can try that one more time.   I do want to continue to write these blogs and hope that you embrace them and read them.  Just maybe you can relate to my crazy world.    If you are just starting to read these, I want you to know that I write from my personal experiences of being an everyday mom, wife and Christian. I share these blogs on my face book page that way you can choose to read them or not.

A while back I saw several people posting interesting facts about themselves that people may have not known about them. I never did it because I really thought no one actually cared to read them. And it didn't help that other people were saying how they were tired of seeing the posts and didn't care. Well I loved reading all the facts about people because everyone has a story and each person is uniquely interesting. So for some of you who read this but may not know much about me and because we are starting a new year, I am going to share some personal facts about me and you can CHOOSE to read them now or STOP reading at this point.  

I was born to parents who were 15 years old at the time.  I am the only child from my mom and dad but I have a sister and a brother from a different mom and another brother from a different dad. They are each amazing people and I wish we were all closer in age.  When I was little I had a huge stuttering problem.   I remember standing up in the 4th grade to give an oral book report and couldn't get the words to come out.   I outgrew the stuttering in Junior High when I gave public speeches and signed up for theatre arts.  My mom came to one of my performances and couldn't believe my shy, stuttering self was up on a stage performing.  Actually, if you put me on a stage, I become a totally different person.  If I find myself in an insecure situation or I rush to talk, I will occasionally stutter even now.

I was voted most likely to succeed in Jr. High and homecoming queen in High School. Though it was cool back then I really don't like for it to be brought up today. I have come to find out that in the grand scheme of life that doesn't mean a whole bunch.  Titles are just that.  In fact, I didn't finish college like I should have.  I even promised my dad I would finish and I never did.  And now I am just a receptionist at a machine shop, the best machine shop ever, I might add.  It is funny how our definition of success changes as our life unfolds.  I don't have to have a title to be successful. One of the hardest yet most rewarding things I have ever done is be a mom and we don't even capitalize that title. 

I wanted to be a dancer when I was in elementary, then a lawyer in Jr. High, and eventually wanted to be a television news anchor.  I always shake my booty just not professionally.  If you play a song, I will dance.  I still like to argue my point but I am way too emotional to ever do it for a living.  And I still will have something to say if you shove a microphone in my face but I don't want to have to go out in hurricanes and disasters to cover the daily news.  So I will stick to my hairbrush in front of the mirror forever.  Plus, I think I have said before that "Hope Rhodes" just doesn't sound like a reporter's name.

I hate fireworks!!!  I use to think it was the loud pop I didn't like but my heart starts pounding as I watch them shoot up in the air.   I feel like I am anticipating a huge bomb about to explode.  The Lord better take me before any huge bombs get dropped here because I may just pass out with the sound of the explosion.  I try so hard to not be disrespectful at sporting events when they play the National Anthem. I keep one had on my heart and I put one ear on my shoulder because I get so anxious about them bursting fireworks during the words "and the rockets red glare."  I am so thankful when we get through July 4th and New Years so that the fireworks can go away.  We have spent the last two New Years inside the city limits so I was completely satisfied that fireworks couldn't be popped.  By the way everyone in my house loves fireworks and loves to spend tons of money on them.  I usually stay inside and watch from the window.  I really need to get over the fear but it seems inevitably hard to do so.

Driving is one of my least favorite things to do!  In fact, if I ever become rich in my finances, I would first hire a chauffeur.  I would let someone drive me around every day and not think twice about it.  I am horrible about being aware of my surroundings.  Bryan gets on to me about this all the time because I don't pay enough attention when I am out in public or to things that I have no interest in like building colors or license plate numbers.  However, I do pay attention to what people say and can remember the smallest detail.   I can remember their favorite candy bar or what Sonic drink they like. I usually can tell you what their God-given gifts and talents are because I pay attention to how they act and what makes them smile.  I love learning about people and what makes them tick!  And I usually have a good instinct about people. If someone does not have good intentions, I usually know. If they are genuine, I usually know.  I usually try to see the good in all people.

When I saw Bryan for the first time I thought he was so fine but way out of my league.  I never thought he would give me the time of day.  He was so tall and had a sophisticated arrogance about him.  I was sure he would never give this short, curly-haired girl a second look.   I have always been insecure about my hair and he loved it.   Little did I know that I too was turning his head and we would end up never turning back.  He made me feel like the most beautiful woman ever and he still does even when I am at my worst.  Two boys and seventeen years later we are still going strong.

I didn't get saved until I was an adult.  I grew up with church influence but I never had a true relationship with the Lord until I was older.  I never knew God was someone who could be your father, friend and comforter all at the same time.  God was a mystery me to me growing up but when I came into relationship with him my whole life changed.  I can't and don't do life without Him!  I think this is why I can relate to the un-churched and imperfect people so well.  I was there and I am still not perfect.  I like people to be real with me and with God.  Don't quote me all the scriptures and have no love in your heart or treat people like crap.  I would rather hang with the guy who said a dozen cuss words but is helping me fix my flat tire than with a self-righteous person with no compassion.

So there you have it!  I am a deep thinker and this is probably one of the reasons I write.  I hope as you share your eyes and ears with me by reading this blog that you will get a glimpse into who I am as a person.  I am a crazy sports mom who is super competitive even though I am not very athletic myself.   You can bet that I watch Sports Center almost every morning.  I am highly inappropriate at times but I love a good laugh and can pick on myself.  I will have laugh wrinkles as I grow old like Bryan said.  I will wear them proudly!  I am always dreaming of that bikini body even though I refuse to give up the foods I love.  I look in the mirror and try to convince myself that there is potential and then go to the kitchen and grab an Oreo.  And although I have had one my toughest years spiritually, I will pray with trembling hands and an open heart as I try to reach Heaven for the people I love and who ask me to.

As we begin 2014, I am expecting good things for my family.  We will get back on the path that God has laid out for us.  We will do our work with integrity and honesty.  We will raise our boys to be respectful gentlemen with generous hearts.  We will be unified as a family and give back to those around us.  We will serve God and serve others! 

Thank you for joining me again this year.  I pray that you will find hope in my blogs.  Some of you have told me that you cry when you read these blogs.  If I saw you, I would cry with you.  But I also pray that you laugh and know that I am just an everyday woman who shares the same experiences as you.  I don't always get it right and I am not the most advanced writer.  But I can promise you a life full of hope and promise.  We can do life together!