We truly are a family redefined. We are husband, wife, son, daughter, step children, biological and adopted children and most importantly, Children of God.

A friend pointed out that I needed to update my blog header. After our adoption from Ethiopia, I had updated it stating how the adoption of Sara Joy completed our family. Well... the journey continues. After much prayer, we have decided to follow what we feel is God's calling for us...we went to Ghana with the intention of adopting a four year old girl, Isabella Hope. Little did we know that she would be the catalyst to bringing home not only her, but her half brother and sister. We will now be adding not only Isabella Hope to our family, but also Mary Grace (9) and Gilbert (6) who we will transition to the name Nathaniel Timothy. The shock is wearing off and the JOY and EXCITEMENT are overwhelming. Now truly, our family is complete. The great part of journeying with God, is that it's always an adventure. He knows where we are going, and for us it is all a marvelous surprise. Looking forward to sharing our family adventures as we walk daily through life and as we venture off to Ghana to bring home Mary, Nate and Isabella! It's always an adventure redefining our family!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

In the news...

All of us have heard by now of the tragic, sad, horrific event that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.  My heart breaks for everyone involved in this tragic event.  Of-course, my first thoughts are for the teachers and children who were killed in the shootings, and for the mother who was killed.  My heart aches for their families.  The families who will not have Christmas with their children this year, siblings who may or may not have been in the same school as the children who did not make it out.  Children who will one day return to school to a new teacher, to a new principal, to new adults in leadership because the brave souls that tried to protect them, did not make it home that night.  I can't express my deepest regret for those impacted.  For the lives that were cut short - be them adults or children - all lives were valuable and all have families who grieve the loss.  

I'm not sure why there is such controversy around this horrific crime.  It's tragic.  I hate to see something so horrible, turn into something political.  The time for that, if there is a time, is later.  After people have time to grieve.  After the town gets put back together.  After the needs of the families are met.  AFTER.... not during.  

The other thing that I can't stand is speculation.  I know that much of the "why" around this event will never be known, and there will always be speculation, if not educated guesses. Maybe they will find something out.  Maybe they will discover an answer, a reason - but until then, there is so much speculation.  It's terrible.  

We've heard so much about the killer.  I don't even want to mention his name because it just brings attention to a person who attention is not needed.  Attention needs to be brought to the families of the children and adults who lost their lives. Not to the man who did this horrific deed.  You hear non-medical personnel on the news stating "facts" that have no factual basis.  They comment on medical information, diagnosis that may or may not have been given to this man, and then they make generalized comments about people with whatever disorder they have assigned to him at any given time.  Aspergers, ADHD, ODD, multiple personality disorder.... the list goes on.  And then the generalized comments start.  "Children and adults with X have a tendency to X".  It's a generalized sweep that IS NOT reality.  It gets under my skin.  

There are so many children diagnosed with Aspergers, ADD, ADHD, ODD and other disorders that are normal functioning children and adults.  Sure, there are those that have a more difficult time, but even then, there are many success stories for each of these cases, even on the high end of the scale of each disorder - to generalize on the negative side is a crime in and of itself.  Do you know that a HIGH percentage of DOCTORS have ADD/ADHD?  Yes, those individuals that you trust the care of your children, self, spouses and parents to have ADD / ADHD.  Ask them.  You might be surprised.  

Many children with these disorders have some difficulties.  They may have adjustments in school.  Some have to take medication and until that medication is "customized" to the child's needs, they may exhibit some problems.  BUT, these children are also successful.  

There is no need to point to a reason for something like what happened at Sandy Hook happening.  If the shooter was missing his left index finger, would we say that he did this because he was missing his left index finger?  If he had red hair, would we say he did it because he had red hair?  If he didn't get good grades?  Or if he got stellar grades?  If he was popular?  If he was not popular?  If he had the measles when he was a child?  Would we point to each of these things?  

Don't get me wrong.  I understand that there may be a link between his condition, treated or not, that may have led him to commit this horrible crime.  BUT, does it have to be discussed so heavily on television?  Does it have to be mentioned at all.  My daughter is 9.  My daughter has ADHD.  This is ALL OVER THE NEWS.  One of the diagnoses that the killer was "assigned" in one of the news reports was ADHD.  Imagine how my daughter must feel.  Like she is part of a population of people who are known to commit violent crimes.  ADHD did not commit this crime.  ODD did not.  HE did.  Plain and simple.  And I believe he was fully aware of what he was doing.  It was planned.  It was calculated.  He knew. 

I have spoken to my daughter about this.  I'm hoping that she heard what I said and took it to heart.  But I know how I would feel if I were her.  I'd feel forever linked to something bad.  I'd wonder if people looked at me differently, or maybe would fear me because of the fact that I had ADHD.  Now, not everyone knows that my daughter has ADHD - well obviously everyone reading this does, but I'm speaking of my daughter's friends and school-mates.  They don't know.  They would have no reason to know.  

The bigger issues lies in the actions of the killer.  Not the diagnosis.  A diagnosis or lack thereof, would not have prevented this.  It shouldn't be turned into anything about a diagnosis.  He was different.  He exhibited things that were questionable to any parent.  It's those things that need to be brought to attention, if anything at all.  Not a diagnosis.  No one child is the same.  I don't care what category you put them in.  My child is not the same as another child who has ADHD.  My child is not defined by her diagnosis.  She just lives with it.  I do what I need to do to help her.  She gets good grades.  She has many friends.  She really just needs to study differently than others.  That's it!!!  Maybe there was something wrong with this young man.  Maybe he was just pure evil.  I don't know.  How about we quit speculating?  How about we just heal and leave it to the experts to figure out?  How about we not spread more "untruths" about conditions that people already have such a prejudice against?  How about we just join together and help these people, this country heal?

And what about the families who lost loved ones?  Do you think they really want to hear "Well, this man was struggling with XXX".  Who cares!  I wouldn't care.  He killed someone's child.  Many people's children.  Mothers.  Aunts.  Cousins.  Friends.  The sound of the killer's name would make me want to vomit.  To know who carried this out is one thing.  To ensure he is off the streets to not harm another.  But he's gone.  Focus the investigation on how we can prevent  - we'll never really know what triggered this anyway.  And sure, I'm all about finding out WHY, but do it in the background, and stop all of the speculation.  

I sent my two oldest kids to school today, fully expecting them to come home this afternoon.  I found myself breathing a sigh of relief when my daughter walked in the door.  I found myself listening for my son to come home and greeting him at the front door - because I know there are families who sent their kids to school on Friday and didn't have the luxury of having them come home.  Times are changing.  Times have changed.  I take every day with my children as a blessing.  I guess it's something good that has come out of this event.  I mean that with NO disrespect.  My heart breaks for the community, for the families, for the lives lost in Newtown, Connecticut.

In Christ,

Sunday, August 12, 2012

When time doesn't matter - with the Broscious Family

I remember meeting Deanne in the Dulles, Washington airport.  It was almost two years ago.  We were making our first trip over to Ethiopia for court.  There was this woman.... peppy as ever and desperate to take pictures!  I figured she would EXHAUST me on the way over to Ethiopia.  For a minute I wondered why I didn't remember Mike being there... I thought maybe because the memories of Deanne overshadowed him....., but then I remembered I didn't have the privilege of meeting Mike until our second trip.  Deanne traveled with a friend on that first trip for court to meet our girls.

I loved Deanne from the moment I met her.  Mike too.  What a great couple.  Deanne has never met a stranger.  You wouldn't believe the number of people she was talking to on that airplane to Ethiopia.  14 hours later and I bet they were ready to get off the plane :)  Just kidding Deanne!!!  Everyone loves you!

We experienced a lot of the "firsts" in our life with Sara, right alongside Mike and Deanne.  The first time we saw Sara, Deanne was there.  She heard Sara scream at us.  She saw, right along with us, this feisty little bundle of energy, slowly begin to come out of her shell and tolerate us.  In the meantime, we got to watch her interact with little Cambria.  The tiny little thing that would smile without prompting.  She was such a teeny little sprite!  We experienced passing court together - that moment when the judge declared that the girls were ours.  I got to hug the new mom and it was great!  We grieved together as we left for home, leaving our newly declared children behind - as we waited for Embassy approval to bring them home.

Just about a month later, were back in the air... this time with Mike in tow, to be reunited with our girls and bring them home with us forever.  Mike fell right into the groove of the group as if he had been with us all along.  It was great to meet the other half of Deanne.  Oh the laughs we had together!  There are some things you can just never forget... apparently Deanne can't forget when I told her to "Shut Up!!!".  It was said with pure love to a dear friend, I'm sure :)

We got to see Mike hold his daughter for the first time.  We got to experience passing Embassy together.  Our families forever connected, not just by the girls we brought home, but by the friendship that was established in that short time, in a foreign country.  I'm truly amazed at what God does in the adoption process.  Deanne and Mike are an additional blessing God gave us through years of disappointment in adoption.  

Nearly two years later, and we had the privilege to meet up with this wonderful family again.  Deanne and Mike were in Myrtle Beach with their family and we could not pass up the opportunity to have them over.  When they pulled up, it was like two years had never passed.  I hate to admit it, but when I saw Deanne, I cried....like a family member you hadn't been able to see in years, but like not a second had passed.  God made that bond stronger over the years and it was like we were never apart.  

Oh, and the GIRLS.  It did a wonderful thing to my heart to see these two Ethiopian beauties together.  And my how they have changed.  Sara, who was so much larger than Cambria, was now small in comparison.  Sara is a little tiny thing, and Cambria, almost a full year younger than Sara is taller than her and weighs more than her.  To see them together again... I really can't describe it.  They didn't know, at least I don't think they knew, what it meant for the two of them to be in a room together again... how a piece of Ethiopian history came together on the soil in America... they didn't understand, they didn't care, but we did.  The girls were together again.  Someday that would mean something to them.

All the time that passed.... it didn't matter!  Love  you Broscious family!  So thankful God put us on that plane together and the girls in their forever homes at the same time!  Let's do it again soon :)

In Christ,

Friday, August 10, 2012

Quality Mom Reviews

I've ventured out into a new blog... still keeping this one, but starting another one as well.  Anyone who knows me, knows that I analyze things.  I was just born a critical, analytical thinker.  I put that mindset to good use at work, and I've now found a way to do it at home as well.  

I am always "reviewing" products around my home in my head.  Sometimes, when I'm using a product that claims the world on the label and I use it and it's "not so great", I wonder why someone didn't tell me....

Or... I find the world's best kept secret  in a product, and wonder why someone didn't share it with me.  

I realized though, that I don't share my "thoughts" on products with others either... which lead to the birth of my new blog page

Quality Mom Reviews

I had two product packages delivered to my home today for review.  One for a hair care product (great for ethnic / dry / or heat treated hair) and another set of specialty candles (I love candles).  I'll have those reviews up shortly.  Also, the hair care people were kind enough to send me three of the product that I chose for review - one for me to review, and two to share with you - my friends.  

I'm going to give away the hair care product next week.  In order to enter to receive it (I'll have a picture of it up shortly) go to my blog and "follow it".  You have to do this to be entered.  Share this blog on your blog (leave me a comment and a link to your blog where you shared it) and I'll enter you a second time.  Finally, if you share my blog with your friends on FB (add me as a friend Charity Roach) and I'll enter you a third time.  Next weekend I'll draw two winners and will ship them this fabulous hair care product.

I'm also doing some local (Florence, SC) area reviews.  I've already posted two of those for products I have personally purchased recently.  If you are in the Florence, SC area, and want me to feature your product on my blog / Facebook, you can get in contact with me at 

Quality Mom

I'd love to have the opportunity to review your product and feature it on my blog.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sara's Dedication - August 5, 2012

Sara Joy trying on her outfit for her dedication day
What a wonderful day we had today.  Today, after much delay (not by choice, but by circumstance), we had Sara's dedication at church.  As baptists, we don't baptize our children as babies.  We believe that baptism follows only after professing your faith in Jesus Christ.  What we do have for families, are "baby dedications".  Ours was more a "Sara dedication" since she is not a baby... but it's really not about the baby anyway - it's more of a public declaration by the parents to raise the child in the Christian faith.  Our pastor starts with a relevant bible verse, asks the church to support us as we raise our children to love the Lord and then prays with us as a church family.  It is much less formal than say a "baptism", but it means the world to me as a parent.
My family!!!  Love this family!
At our dedication, I was able to publicly recognize that this child - Sara Joy Edom Roach - was a child that was known by God before I ever knew her.  God knew her name before we ever thought of knowing it.  God knows her life story before it is played out.  God knew she would be with us!  It amazes me.  A tragic story turned to beauty by the Lord who loves her and who loves us!  So today, we were able to  "give her back to God" - to recognize that she is HIS.  She is with us only for a season, and ultimately she will go back to Him.  We  are afforded the AWESOME privilege of raising her while she is on this earth and today we promised God that we would do the best we could with the child He entrusted to us.  Cameron and Anna were up in front of the congregation with us.  I feel it's so important to stand as a family, because each of us in the house will influence her life and her walk with Christ.  
Sara Joy Edom Roach - one of my three gifts from God!!!
God has been so good to our family!  It felt so good to stand up and in my mind thank God for the family He has given us, thank Him especially today for Sara Joy and to just stand in awe of the miracle of family that He has given us... not just in our own, small family - but in our extended family, our friends (who are like family) and our church family - our huge, loving, supporting, welcoming church family!  There's nothing like walking in a church and feeling at home!  It's been awhile since we've felt that.  But today, when we were dedicating Sara, I felt it.  We were with family!
Such a happy kid!
I was so happy to share the day with my mom and Denis and Tim's parents - Jim and Mavis.  We are so fortunate to have parents that will get up at the crack of dawn, drive from afar to come to an early morning church service with us, to see their grand-daughter dedicated to the Lord.  After celebrating Sara at her dedication at church, we decided to go to dinner as a family and then came back home for a bit of dessert.  Memories are made by days like today.  I know it took some effort to get everyone here as early as we did... but know that it is appreciated.  I won't forget it, Tim won't forget it and we'll help Sara and the kids remember it.
Sara with her new bible - when we asked her where she got it, she said "from God"  You are SO right Sara!

Now, without further adieu here are some (more) pictures from the day....

A little hazy for some reason, and Cameron is playing "cool", but we don't get many pictures of all of us together, so I decided to keep it up here anyway :)

Seriously love this family!

Sara with her new bible - I guess I should tell her that's a page marker... not a hanger!

I chopped off the top of her head... and she's still cute!

total cuteness

She looks so grown up...

With Grandma and Denis on her special day!

so sweet!

With Mamaw and Papaw on her special day!

sitting like a princess for Papaw

The Roach Family

Anna being silly for the picture

If you add all three of these together - you get a good picture of everyone!

Sara opening a gift from Grandma and Denis - a beautiful dress and a super cute fall outfit!

Sara giving thanks for her gift - to Grandma

Maybe she'll thank Denis too...

Yep - thanking Denis too!

Trying on her necklace from Mamaw and Papaw - which shines more, the necklace or that smile?

Looking at  her necklace....

Sara and Papaw

She was loving up to Papaw...

I think she was trying to absorb God's Word...

Mamaw and Anna - isn't her new haircut cute (Anna's haircut) but Mamaw's is cute too :)

Rockin' some guitar for Papaw!

 I am one truly blessed wife, mom, daughter and daughter in law - I have a GREAT family!  To our Cornerstone family - thank you for walking this journey with us!  It takes a village to raise a child and you guys are an AWESOME support system!

In Christ,

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Why is it assumed that DEBATE EQUATES to HATE?

I wrote this yesterday on Chick-Fil-A appreciation day.... one of the most controversial fast food support days I have ever seen....

All day today, I have been biting my tongue.  It's been hard to do.  I went about my day, doing the things I do... as I waited in the Dr. office, finishing an appointment with Anna, I pulled out my phone and opened up Facebook.  It seemed that all anyone had to talk about was Chick-Fil-A and whether or not they would eat chicken today, or ever again for that matter.  Some, ate chicken three times today.  Some, will never eat chicken again for fear it would somehow support Chick-Fil-A.  Personally, I would have had some chicken today, but I was busy doing some other things.  But to limit your diet because of someone voicing their personal views, is in my mind... silly.

Chicken is chicken.  Money is money.  Support what you want to support.  Don't support it if you don't want to.  But whatever you do  (or don't do)... can't we just take the hate out of it all?  There is no good reason for curse words to be exchanged over CHICKEN!!!!!  Even if my eating chicken means I support something that you don't believe I should support.  I know that there is a lot more behind it than chicken, but it seems to have come to that.  If you were in line at Chick-Fil-A today - even by ACCIDENT, or just because you like their food and were really, really hungry - then from what I saw on FB, you are hated by those who are in agreement with same sex marriage.  Ok, so truthfully, no one would really have waited in the long lines that they had to wait in today, unless they were doing it to support a cause that they believed in.  I've looked through my FB posts and saw many unkind words regarding those who were in line today....as much as people are thinking that those in line are haters - take a look in the mirror.  Thank goodness I was not able to get in line today, or I would be among the list of those who are hated!  By virtue of this post though, I will likely join the ranks..... but keep an open mind first... because I'm not a hater....

I started my own FB post, but it got too long, so I just thought I'd wander over here and put my thoughts here....I'll post it to my friends on FB, because I have nothing to hide, and then they can take the appropriate action, if any, if they feel the need to take me off of their friend list....

If I said I stood in line at Chick-Fil-A today, and if I said I support the fact that a marriage is one man and one woman, how many of you would take me off of your FB friend list?  Be honest.  Don't just "de-friend" me.. be sure to leave me a comment, because I want to know that I should miss you.  Marriage being between one man and one woman is what God intended.  It's what I believe.  Anything else is something other than "marriage".  God made it.  God ordained it.. therefore God can define it.  If you want the legal part of marriage, call it something else, call it anything else, have the same legal rights as marriage, I don't care... but marriage, as God intended is one man and one woman.  I'm not taking a stand on rights associated with marriage (which I feel are civil rights), it's about MARRIAGE!!!  I don't "HATE" people for their differing thoughts - I should just be able to support my personal Christian values publicly without being hated, just like everyone else.  There are groups, public events, fraternities, sororities etc for people who support same sex couples.  Just as you have your right to voice your support, I have mine.  I don't hate you for your views.  I'm not naive, and I understand that there is discrimination that I don't live with (trust me when I say I live with my own), but I don't support that discrimination.  I would not "de-friend" you because you were gay.  I would not say bad things about you.  If you needed help, I would help you.  At one point not too long ago, I was a hiring/firing manager - and I would do neither based on sexual orientation.  I cared more about your work ethic than what you did while off the job.  I value you based on you!  Not what you do behind closed doors.  

That being said, I do have my opinions just as you have yours.  Personally, I'm team God.  I won't water it down, because it's who I am.  I'm not going to push it on you, but I will say that I think, based on the bible, that my God wanted marriage to be one man and one woman.  Do I feel it's sinful otherwise?  Based on the God of my bible, yes?  Can I hate you for it?  Based on the God of my bible, NO!  Should I look down on you, torment you, belittle you, call you names, throw ugly names your way, discriminate against you, berate you or in any way, shape or form HATE you?  NO.  Absolutely not!  That's not my God.  That's not what my God represents, and it's therefore not what I am to represent.  

Would I welcome a relationship like that into my home?  No.  Truthfully, call me protective, call me close-minded... call me whatever, but I won't pretend like I support same sex marriage to my children.  I don't get to make decisions for my children, but the way I raise them can influence their future.  In the end, they have their own decisions to make.  However, if a child is exposed to something, good or bad, it is more acceptable to them.  They are my children to raise, and I will raise them in a way that I feel honors God....even if it offends you a little (or a lot).  While I will not welcome a same sex relationship in my home, and my children will see that - they will also see that I can still love the person.  Can I hate the SIN, but love the SINNER?  Yes.  THAT is what I want my children to see.  Again, it sounds harsh, but it's not something I'm willing to water down.  I'm not team heterosexual, or against team homosexual... I'm FOR TEAM GOD!!!!  Being Team God puts me on a side... so that's where I'll stand.  When I get to heaven, if I responded to any homosexual person in a way that God did not intend me to, then I'll answer to HIM!  Until then, I support the man/woman marriage.

So, when I put the title of this in there, it was not a preview of my views that I would be writing about.  So what was it?  It was really, how I was feeling.  All day, I felt the need to say something, to stand up for what I believe.  Not to bash what someone else believes, or deny them of their right to something, but to state what I believe.  It's not wrong for me to do that.  I understand that my views are conservative, but they are MY views, and I have a right to them.  I have a right to say that they are my views, just as you have a right to say what your views are.  My desire is not to offend others.  My desire is not to represent hate.  My desire is to stand firm in MY beliefs.... as controversial as they may be.  

Many people today do water down what they believe.  They make it palatable to everyone.  Life as a Christian is not meant to be palatable to the non-Christian.  Life as a Christian is not mean to be palatable to a Christian living in sin.  Life as a Christian is only meant to be palatable to those who are willing to live the way God intended us to live.  And even then, for the Christian it is not easy.  Palatable, yes - because we chose and desire to live a certain way.. but certainly not easy.... palatable for those who are willing to change, to grow, to be transformed into the image of Christ.  My beliefs - Love God / Love Others... but that does not mean that I have to reject other parts of the bible that God intended me to follow.  Marriage - one man and one woman is clear to me.  I don't care if God only says it once in the bible (and discusses loving others multiple times over)... if God says it once, then it's enough for me.  And the thing about God that is great (one of the many things) is that He never commands us to do something that we can not carry out.  WE CAN support marriage being one man and one woman, and at the EXACT SAME TIME show Christian love to everyone.  Not only CAN we do it, but He EXPECTS it.  That's MY GOD!

So, now that you know my opinion, if you are in a same sex relationship, what should you expect from me?  You should expect me to treat you with love and respect.  I may not welcome a same sex partnership into my home, but I will treat you with the love and respect that God calls me to.  

Views on any topic, including this one, are personal.  Personal views become discriminatory when  you try to force them on others.  Nothing about supporting Chick-Fil-A and their stand on same sex marriage is discriminatory.  Can you be a same sex couple, go into Chick-Fil-A and expect to be served and treated in the same manner as a male/female couple?  Can you work there?  If the answer is yes, then I don't see the discrimination.  

The legal aspects of marriage are separate from this issue... if you can have health care coverage through your work for your partner, if you can collect benefits if they die, if you can go into the hospital room (because you are not recognized as family)... those are distinctly different than - what is marriage defined as?  Do I support same sex marriage?  Just like you can separate hating a sin and loving a sinner, you too can separate the legal and religious aspects of marriage.  HUMANS made it contractual, humans put restrictions around it - GOD defined it.  God ordained it.  God blesses his definition of marriage.  I think the debate here, is really around the definition of marriage.  Sorry if it's not a popular opinion, but God defined it, and I'm following Him....

I may be saying good-bye now to some who are not in agreement with my opinion.  I have friends who are openly gay who may not be my friends anymore.  That's ok.  It's important to stand up for what you believe in... and it's all I'm doing through this post.  My marriage means enough to me to not water it down.  To make it clear that I personally embrace what God told me marriage is.  That I believe what He wrote is what He wanted... and that the bible doesn't change over time.  People are more accepting now of same sex unions... but God's Word never changes and I'm convinced that my definition of marriage is what He intended... because I got it straight from Him.  40 years from now... 100 years from now.... eternity from now one thing will remain.... God's Word and it will never change.

In Christ,

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

My Company

I hesitate to tell this story because some of you will not believe me.... some may think I'm crazy.... but others will believe with all their heart, be encouraged beyond words and will be touched knowing that they truly do not walk alone.

If you read my last post, my Soap Box post, you know about my daily walking.  I walk on the rail trail nearly every single day and I walk typically about 7.5 miles a day.  During the summer, I walk early in the morning and I'm usually alone.  I was considering carrying a concealed weapon, but found that due to my eye condition, I may not be considered for a concealed weapons permit.  I've got some additional information on that though, which I will share later.  It may be possible for me to get one.  That is not the point of this post though.  

Before I go into the story, I need to give a little background.  First of all, I'm an impatient person.  My fuse is short and I know it.  I anger quickly.  This is not a characteristic of a good Christian, and it does not do justice to the Holy Spirit that lives in me.  It is part of me... I've been like this my whole life.  I'm a determined person and I've always just had a short fuse.  That being said, I know it is wrong and I know with the power of Christ I can change.  I know I can't do it on my own.  I always knew that I was quick tempered but I never really focused on it.  It (for the most part) served me well at work.  I was able to make decisions, stick by them, and defend them - and I could do it quickly.  Looking back, I probably shut people down more often than not and I probably was not the easiest person in the world to talk to.  When I started to be at home full time, it became apparent to me that my fuse was REALLY short.  I lived a regimented life for a long time.  Everything was done by a schedule and that schedule revolved around work.  Everything else fell into place around work.  Suddenly I was in a situation where work - the anchor of my daily schedule - was taken away.  I found myself ill at ease.  I also found myself being short with the kids.

It certainly was a stressful time for me, but I am not able to use that as an excuse.  One day it hit me - I NEED to change.  Knowing I could not do it on my own, I made a commitment to myself to pray each morning that God would give me the patience I needed for that day... not for the rest of my life raising my children, not for a week, but just for that day.  And I would repeat that same prayer every morning.  It began to work.  I persevered and so did God.  He daily gives me the strength I need to change.  He fills me each morning with His peace and it really has changed my interactions with the children.  I could not have done it on my own, and I won't be able to do it tomorrow if I don't get up and ask God for help.  I certainly have times where I do lose my temper, but the times are much, much fewer.  I attribute it only to God.

I tell that story as a prelude to the next one.  The point of it is, God will answer your prayers.  He answers them in due time.  In HIS time and at the perfect time.  I don't always get the answer to prayer that I want, but when you are asking for something like patience to raise your children, something that is clearly within God's will, something He would applaud, then surely He will answer you and provide abundantly.... at least for that day.  He considers tomorrow, tomorrow.

There is another thing that I petition God for every single day.  And this is where the second story comes into play.  Just remember, it's my story.  I experienced it.  Whether you believe it or not, it happened.  I know it happened because it happened to me.  It's not anything super dramatic, but there is NO question in my mind what was happening, and I knew it right when it happened.  So, here's how it goes.

During the school year, when the kids were off to school and Tim was off to work I would walk to the gym with Sara.  I'd take a class, she would go into the childcare area during my class and then we would walk home.  We did it nearly every day.  We were on the trail ALOT!  Usually it was just me and Sara.  I began to worry about what would happen if someone tried to do something to me or more importantly tried to do something when I had Sara with me.  It's when I began considering carrying a concealed weapon.  

Since you have to take a class, apply for the license, etc to carry a concealed weapon, it's not something that can be taken care of instantaneously.  While I was researching my options I wanted to do SOMETHING.  My first thought was to pray for protection as we walked.  I added this to the list of things that I prayed for each morning.  I would get up and as I was getting ready to go out, I'd have a discussion with God, always remembering those two specific requests... to give me patience for the day and protection as we walked.

As summer came and the kids were home, I started to walk longer distances and for the most part, I was walking it alone.  I get up in the morning, head out the door with my iPod and my shoes tied tight and usually walk right around 7.5 miles.  I love it.  It's time to myself to clear my head, gather my thoughts, breathe some fresh air and get some exercise.  I do it early while it is cooler.  Sometimes I find myself walking down the trail and I have, in my haste to get out the door, I put my discussion with God on the back burner and then forgotten about it.  It's sad, but it's true.  There were many times when I was walking that I'd be on my way home and I'd finally remember.  I'd thank God for the safety He had given me to that point and ask for safety for the duration of the walk, and of-course patience with the kiddos.

For some reason, one day I started to be more specific in my request to God.  I think it was after I came upon the police on the trail looking for a burglar who had been caught trying to break into a home and used the trail as an escape route.  I'm not sure though.  Anyway, with regard to my protection on the walk I started to be more specific with God.  I asked that I not walk alone.  I asked that if there was someone that I encountered that meant to do me harm, to not let them see me alone.  Send an angel to walk with me and protect me.  Silly as it is, I asked for a big, burly, scary looking person that NO ONE would want to mess with.  I didn't have to see my protector, but whoever was out there with the intent to do me harm, let them see the angel with me and continue on without harming me.  I truly believed God would protect me on my walks.

So, I've been meeting God in the morning with these same two petitions for months.  Maybe even six months.  It's been a long time and literally it has been daily.  Each day I walk, I never forget.  Sometimes it doesn't happen until I'm part way through my walk, but every time, it happens and I ask for these two things - patience and protection.

One day last week I was out walking.  It was raining, but it wasn't down pouring, so I decided not to let the rain keep me in.  I decided to walk anyway.  I was one of the few people out walking that morning.  Typically there are lots of people on the trail which adds to my feeling of security.  If something were to happen, there are enough people there that someone would see it.  This day however, I think I ran into a total of two people on the 7.5 mile walk.

Part of my route goes through a wooded area.  It's probably about a quarter of a mile through the woods and it's about half way through my walk.  I go through the woods twice - once on the way out and once on the way back home.

On this particular day, since it was raining and there was no one else out on the trail, I turned my music up high and just enjoyed the cool rain on me and the walk alone.  I normally keep my music low and even only put one ear bud in, not only for safety sake, but to hear people who are coming up behind me or towards me so I can move out of their way if they are running or riding a bike or whatever.  This day though, there was no one out there and I put both my ear buds in and turned the music up loud.  

As I was going through the wooded area I started to feel "strange".  There is no other way to explain it.  You know that sensation when you can "feel" someone watching you?  You can't describe it... it's more a "sense" than a "feeling", but either way, you know it.  The "feeling" that I got was something similar to that.  Like someone was watching me - but different somehow.  Whatever it was, it brought me to attention.  I was alerted to what was happening around me.  

Part way through the woods there is a wooden bridge.  I was about to the bridge when I got this "feeling".  I kept walking normally but I reached down and turned my iPod down and pulled one of the ear buds out of my ear.  I was about a quarter of the way over the bridge when I turned the music down and pulled the ear bud out.  As I continued to walk over the bridge, with the music down low and my ear bud out, I heard my footsteps on the wooden bridge.  Normally when I'm walking I'll hear my footsteps as there is a lull in the music when the songs are changing - just the soothing "swishing" of repetitive footsteps...When I pulled the ear bud out though, I heard not only my footsteps, but another set.  They were walking the EXACT same pace as me, just about a half step off of my repetitive pace, but with the same cadence.  There was something about the additional steps though that were different.  They were softer than mine   - almost like the steps of a child rather than an adult.  Same pace, same cadence - just softer.  And I couldn't really tell where they were coming from.

Immediately my heart rate quickened.  I was in the woods and it was in the early morning so it was still a bit dim.  I had been watching around me, but not intently because there was no one on the trail.  I immediately turned around to see who was behind me on the bridge.  I was surprised to see that there was no one there, but the cadence of the additional footsteps continued over the remaining length of the bridge.  They stopped when I reached the other side and the strange "feeling" I had of someone watching me was gone.

It was one of those moments where you kind of look around wondering what just happened.  I continued walking, one ear bud in my hand thinking "WHAT in the world".  It took me only a few steps to realize what exactly had just happened.

And this is where I don't care if you believe me or not.  I don't care if you go visit the bridge and seek to find a physical answer to what I know was a spiritual experience.  I don't care if  you think I'm crazy or even certifiable.  You can believe me or not - it does't matter.  I just have a story to tell.  It happened to me and I'll forever believe what happened.  I firmly believe that God showed me that day, when I was all alone, with no one else on the trail - so there would be no question as to if it was the footsteps of another person - that He heard me every day.  That He has sent a protector to walk with me.  The "feeling" I got, that nudged me into turning my music down and pulling out my ear bud was from God, I'm sure of it.  Had I not done that, I would not have heard the footsteps alongside of mine.  They were at a perfect pace with mine, just a half-step off, so I could hear distinctly that there was another set of steps.  There was no one out there to give me the "feeling" or sense of someone staring at me.  It was me alone on the bridge.  When I heard the steps and turned around there was no one.  No one in front, no one behind me - yet the footsteps continued the length of the bridge.  Once off the bridge they were gone, and so was the eerie feeling.

Maybe you don't believe in angels sent to protect.  I do.  I literally spoke the same prayer to God daily for months and there on that day, alone on the trail so as to not be mistaken for another person, God showed me that He heard me.  Whether I hear the footsteps with me or not, God is protecting me.  The footsteps did not continue beyond the bridge - not through the wooded trail, not on the track around the gym, and they weren't there when I walked back over the bridge on the way home - but I'm completely convinced that there was someone there with me.  That God heard, that God answered and that God used that day and that bridge to tell me that He heard and he answered.  If someone is out there, meaning to do me harm, they will not see me walking alone.  I'm sure of it!  I always have company.

It gives me the chills to just think about it and recount the story.  That Sunday in church it was also no coincidence that we were studying Psalm 4.  Psalm 4:8 says "In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety".  It tied up the whole experience for me.  My days are numbered.  God alone knows the number of my days.  He alone has the power to protect me.  He knows my beginning and my end.  I went to the right source for my protection.  

I'm not saying that you shouldn't be smart in protecting yourself or that you can be reckless in regard to your own personal safety - but once you have been reasonable, know that God will protect you.  It became so clear to me that day on my walk.  It may sound silly, but if you were there, if it happened to you and you were as convinced as I am (I can not be convinced of any other source for the footsteps) that God gave me an audible answer to prayer that day, you would not find it silly and you too would want to tell the story.  Our God is awesome!  He is working with me to ease my quick temper and providing safety as I walk... both answers to daily prayer!

In Christ I never walk alone!


Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Soap Box

As you can see by the title of this post, this is my "soap box" post.  I don't get on a soap box very often, but when something gets under my skin, I sometimes just have to say something about it.  If you don't like "soap boxes" you can feel free to stop reading.  Also, if you don't like my opinion on what I am about to say, then feel free to share that in the comments, but please do it politely.  Also, if you have not walked a mile in my shoes (or someone like me) and have a strong opinion, you might want to consider what life might be like from "this" side... at least consider it before you share how my thoughts are wrong.

Anyone who knows me, obviously knows about my eye condition.  I mean, I had to quit working recently, I have not driven a car in almost 12 years (except for a few "joy rides" through the neighborhood - but it's been awhile for those) and I have a Leader Dog.  It's no secret that I'm "blind".  

First, let's start with "blind".  Most people, when they think of blind think of Mary on Little House on the Prairie, or Helen Keller.  Well, to tell you the truth, most blind people are not like either one of them.  I am no exception.  Most "blind" people are not completely blind, unable to see anything.  Most blind people have some residual sight.  Many can see colors and/or shapes, distinguish people from one another... In my case, I have about 20/40 vision in the visual field that I have.  The problem for me is, that my visual field is very small.  I have about 8-10 degrees of vision compared to about 180 degrees for a normal sighted person.  So "blind" doesn't always mean blind!

Because of the fact that I don't drive, I tend to walk places a lot.  I walk anywhere from  8-10 miles a day, and that is just what I walk for exercise.  If I need to go somewhere, and I want to go on my own, and if I can, I will walk there.  Many times my husband will take me, or a friend, but sometimes I just like to go places on my own.  There is a gym that I go to by our home.  It is about 2 1/2 miles from our house.  I can get to the gym on the rail trail behind our home, through a wooded area that ends on a track at the gym.  I go to the gym almost every day, so I'm on this trail frequently.  Many times I am alone.  I sometimes walk the trail with Chara (if I'm going a shorter distance) and many times I'm with my children.  Sometimes Tim will go with me on the weekends, but for the most part, during the summer, I walk alone.  It's too hot here for Chara to walk as far as I want to walk.

The other day a friend was telling me that she heard about some things that had happened on the rail trail recently.  I had not heard anything about it.  I don't know if it's true or not, but if it is, it's pretty bad.  It got me to thinking.  The fact that I walk alone on the trail started to bother me.  I feel as though it is pretty safe, especially because there are always plenty of people on the trail - but still, it made me think.  If something were to happen with me or the children, what would I do?  There was also an event that happened a few weeks ago when I was walking.  I had gone to the gym and took Sara with me.  She goes to the childcare area while I take a class.  On the way home, we got onto the trail and up ahead of us I saw police on 4 wheelers, police cars, police on foot as well as some running dogs.  A gentleman stopped me and told me what was going on.  There was someone that attempted to break into a house in a neighborhood that backs up to the trail.  Someone caught him in the middle of trying to break in and he took off and used the rail trail as a way to escape.  So, we stayed around the police cars until they cleared the area and opened up the trail again.  Again, that made me think.

I've never let my vision impairment interfere or alter my life in any way that was not absolutely necessary.  I defied the directive of the doctors who told me that I should change my career field (Chemistry) only six months after graduating from college.  I didn't listen to them and had 20 years of a successful, responsible career.  I only recently had to leave my job due to the vision loss.  I understand though my limitations and only embrace them when it's appropriate.  For example, I understand my inability to drive.  I don't like it, but I have accepted it.  In fact, I stopped driving about six months before I actually had to - I did not want to jeopardize the life of someone else for a selfish reason like wanting to maintain my ability to drive.  I'm a very responsible person and would never put others in danger. 

I talked to a friend of mine whose husband works in law enforcement.  I asked him if, due to my eye condition, if I would be able to qualify for a concealed weapon permit (CWP).  He talked to some people and told me that no, I could not get a CWP because of my vision loss.  The state finds it too risky to assume liability in the case where I might inadvertently shoot the wrong person because of my vision loss.  

It kind of made me mad.  I have a right to bear arms.  I have a right to be able to defend myself and the state is haphazardly taking that right away.  In order to qualify for a CWP you need a valid driver's license, you need to take a class, pass a written test, pass a field shooting test and have a clear criminal record.  The only issue I have is that I don't have a valid driver's license.  I do however have a valid state issued ID.  

I know some people would think "I think the state is right!  I don't want someone with a visual impairment to have a concealed weapon"!

For those who feel that way, please let me enlighten you.  It wasn't long ago that I was a hunter.  I hunted deer and I was very successful.  I quit several years ago because I no longer felt it was safe for me to be out in the woods with a gun... NOT because I could no longer use a gun, but because in addition to  my vision loss, I also have limited night vision.  Traveling in and out of the woods at dawn and dusk became difficult and I ran the risk of tripping on something, falling and hurting myself.  So, I quit.  When I shot though, I was a GREAT shot.  I know, I know... it was with a rifle and not a pistol, but still, I was a good shot.  I was more accurate and precise than people who were shooting for literally at least a decade longer than I had been.

Also, did you know that competitive shooters often wear blinders when they are shooting?  They do this to eliminate the distraction of the things that are going on around them while they are shooting, so they can focus solely on the target.  Well guess what?  I have built in blinders!  I think I missed my calling as a professional competitive shooter because God gave me the built in blinders.  I think it would give me too much of an unfair advantage though - and I don't think it's a very lucrative job :)

So, here's my point.  If I have a valid state issued ID, I take a class, pass a written test, have a clear criminal record and pass the field shooting test - why is it that I can't have a CWP?  What would be the reason?  I understand, and would even submit to the fact that my vision could change more frequently than an average person's vision, so I would be willing to have to renew my CWP more frequently, but if I can pass, I see no reason to deny me a permit and the right to defend myself and my family.

And with regard to the liability... I wonder how liable the state will feel when something happens to me or my family, and I could not defend us because I was not given the right to carry a weapon outside of my home.  What will the liability for the state be then?  From my perspective, they would be very liable.  I hope I never have to find that out.

Oh, and the person who tries to do something to us on the trail... my guess is that they don't have a permit for the weapon that they are going to pull out and assault us with.  Yet it would be so awful for someone with a vision impairment to have a permit to defend themselves from someone with criminal intent?  I don't think so.

This issue feels to me like discrimination.  People with disabilities should have the same rights as others, unless there is a good reason to deny them their rights.  If giving them their rights would put others in harms way, or deny others their rights, then it shouldn't happen.  Giving me a CWP, assuming I can pass the same acceptance criteria that is used to judge the suitability of every other person that has a permit, would not put anyone in harms way or deny them their rights!  I'm not asking for special treatment - I'm just asking for equal treatment.  If I can pass an equal test, why not give me equal rights.  

I was so bothered by this fact, that as we were sitting at the dinner table one evening, I told Tim that I should file a lawsuit against the state for denying me the opportunity to my right to bear arms.  Cameron chimed in and was horrified - "you are not really going to do that, are you mom".  Ok, probably not - but then I thought, why not?  I don't feel as though the state is acting in a reasonable manner.  If I sit back and just let it happen, things will never change.  I will have accepted something that in my eyes is incredibly wrong.  I feel like it's a bad example for my kids for me to just sit back and accept something that is wrong.  It would take a lot of thinking for me to go the route of challenging the state though.  It isn't out of the realm of possibility though.

Maybe you have a different opinion.  If so, please feel free to share it.  Again though - please just do it politely.  No one can understand blindness until you have lived with it.  There are so many issues associated with it, you could never touch the surface in a simple blog post.  Blindness impacts every area of your life - independence, work, family, freedom - and apparently some of your rights as well.  I understand the necessary restrictions.... it's the unnecessary restrictions that I have a problem with.  I don't give into "limitations" lightly.  I do all that I can do, until the minute I literally CAN'T do it anymore.  There are enough areas of my life where I do not have the right or freedom to do something.  This should NOT be one of them.  

I'm now stepping down from my soap box.  I don't get on the box often, but I feel it's an important enough issue to discuss.

And for anyone on the trail who decides they can mess with me because they now know that I do not have the right to carry a concealed weapon - just for the record, I am allowed to carry a taser, and it's not too comfortable if I use it on you.  Apparently I have the right to disable you for a period of time, but not the right to remove you as a threat to my life or the life of my family.  Also for the record - when Tim is with me, he has the right to carry a weapon.... just sayin'

In Christ,