By Grace Alone

So, what was in the box?

It was this:

And this necklace means so much to me, of course because it is a gift from The Man, but also because of the three words on it "By Grace Alone".   It is handmade by Lisa Leonard and I came to know of it through the amazing (in)courage blog - If you haven't been, go, and you'll be so glad you did.

By the grace of God, I am what I am.
~I Corinthians 15:10

By Grace Alone...
I persevered through a rough year.
I am learning to be comfortable in my own skin.
I learned to be quiet and listen to God.
I learned that courage doesn't always roar, sometimes it whispers.
I am, what I am.

In This Box

Do you know what's in this box?

I do.

But, I can't show you until The Man gets home because it's a Christmas gift for me from him and I think opening it without him would be a bad idea.


What No One Else Understands

For as long as I can remember, my mom has told me that she didn't want an only child.  That she knew from before I was born that she would have at least one more child.

She always said that she didn't want her only child to have to deal with the rough times (her example is always the loss of a parent or grandparent) in life alone as she did. That she wanted us to have each other to help each other through.  To understand what no one else would understand.

I think I finally get it.  And it breaks my heart that I do.

M. and I have never been close.  My trip to Texas this summer was a turning point for us; we actually behaved like siblings who loved each other rather than adversaries.

Since then we've communicated pretty well and stayed in much better touch than we have before.

M. is getting married in October.  On 10-10-10 to be exact.  To J.

It's in the middle of football season and for weeks I threatened that if there was a WVU Football game on Saturday 10-9-10, I wasn't going to fly out until the game was over.  I threatened, but when push came to shove (I learned that there is a home game scheduled for that Saturday), I decided that it wasn't the right thing to do and that the man and I would head to Dallas whenever M. and J. wanted us there. 

Our little brother (dad and step-mom's son) will be a freshman in High School in the fall.  He's in the band.  Friday nights he'll have high school football games to perform at and on home WVU Game Saturdays the band sells frozen lemonades at the games for a fundraiser.

Today, my dad called M. and told him that little bro and step-mom won't be coming to his wedding.


And while no one didn't come to my wedding, I know how M. feels.

We don't really fit anywhere.  Our family broke.

Our dad has a new family.

Our mom has a new family.

We are constantly in the middle.  Trying to please everyone.  Trying to see everyone.  Biting our tongues.  Saying we were wrong, when maybe we weren't.  Watching our parents call people mom and dad who we don't call Grandma and Grandpa.

We are constantly seeking acceptance.  Trying to feel like we belong on this side of town.  Or on that side of town.  Wondering why our family broke.

Mom's reasoning for wanting more than one child was so that the loss of a parent or grandparent wouldn't ever have to be born alone - so someone else would understand.  But our days of no one else understanding came much earlier than that.

And today, I understand what no one else does.  And my heart is broken for M.


Back to School

It all started with a book, this book:

in my way as I was trying to curl up with another book.

I picked up the book and thumbed through it.

And then, my stomach turned.

The thought of being in school again - ugh.

But the book isn't for me.  It's for The Man.  In May of 2011, he'll graduate with his Physical Therapy Assistant degree.  A long story, short, this path will enable him to continue doing what he loves while earning more money for both himself and the rehab/fitness center where he works.

I looked over at The Man and realized the sacrifice he is making.  He's going to work full time, complete volunteer and practicum hours, attend classes, do homework, and continue to be the amazing husband that he is.

And then, my stomach stopped turning.

And the thought of being in school again made me swell with love and gratitude; because if the thought of being in school again initially made my stomach turn, it caused a much larger reaction in The Man.  But rather than give in to the fear and dread and take the easy path, he chose to do what will be better for our family in the long run.

And for that, I am more grateful than words could ever express.


Friday Fragments

1.  These will be quick because it's 11:15pm and I'm tired.
2.  The Earthquake in Haiti - so. very. sad.  Heartbreaking really.  Praying for everyone affected.
3.  I'm excited to be participating in the Ladies Who Blog Book Club with some amazing ladies. The book, "Feminism is Not the Story of My Life" came yesterday and I'm looking forward to a long day of reading tomorrow!  Oh, and it cost LESS than $5 from Amazon, yay!
4.  Noel Devine and Jock Sanders will return to WVU for their Senior Seasons.  I am so excited I can barely contain myself.  How many days until Football Season starts?
5.  I have the best husband ever.  Seriously.  I wouldn't put up with me, that's one thing I know for sure.
6.  Max (the cat) has decided that his 2 favorite places to sleep are 1) on my desk and 2) in my spot in the bed.  It's a good thing he's cute.
7.  Florida was great, quick (I was gone for less than 48 hours), but great.  It was kinda funny hearing everyone talk about how cold it was, while I walked around without a coat on.  Now I know how my friends from Rochester, NY feel when I whine about the weather here.


For Tonight, 1/6/10

For Today Tonight, January 6, 2010...A glimpse into my day night, just an ordinary day night.

Outside my window....too. much. snow.

I am thinking....that I am d.o.n.e. done with winter.  (yes, I know it's only Jan. 6)

I am thankful for...safe travel to and from work this week.

From the kitchen...Snickers Ice Cream.

I am wearing...some really fancy snowman fleece pants and a gray long sleeved shirt.

I am creating...our 2009 year in review photo album.

I am going...to bed. soon.

I am hearing...a snoring dog.

Around the house...snow boots. mittens. gloves. hats. scarves. winter coats.

One of my favorite things...my heated mattress pad.

A few plans for the rest of the week....an overnight trip to Orlando, Fl (where it's not snowing) for a PartyLite Conference.  (assuming the snow here does not interfere with my plane taking off)

Here is a picture thought I am sharing (x2)...


Once a Mountaineer, Always a Mountaineer

I know I talk a lot about football on here - and for those of you who could care less about football, despite my lessons, I appreciate your coming back for when it's not about football.

And while today's today's title might sound like it's about football it's about something more.

Yesterday, I wrote about Pat White's injury during the Miami Dolphins - Pittsburgh Steelers game in Miami.  Praise God because it appears that Pat is going to be just fine; he suffered a mild concussion.

But today, I want to write about something more.

There are all kinds of families out there.  And a person's college or university friends become an extended family quite often.  Even, fellow alumni of a person's college or university become family.  Just ask those who went to Virginia Tech.

Well, West Virginia University is no different in some aspect.  We are a Mountaineer Family.  When Chris Henry died just before Christmas, our hearts were broken.  When Jerry West (the NBA logo was created from his image) comes home to Morgantown, the whole town swells with pride.

And when Pat White lay motionless on the side of a football field, all of the Mountaineer Family gasped and prayed for him.

And those of us who are Steeler Fans quit caring whether or not the Steelers made the playoffs.

One of our own was down.  And football is just a game.

For those of you who grew up in a large city, such fierce loyalty to a college may seem silly - I mean there are professional teams to be concerned with.  And for those of you who grew up in a family pulling for a well-known college, such fierce loyalty to WVU may seem silly - we certainly aren't Florida, or Texas, or Oklahoma, or Tennessee, or any other of a number of well-known schools.

But West Virginia University is THE state University in West Virginia.  And if you grow up in West Virginia, you grow up knowing and loving the Mountaineers.  Even if you live closer to Marshall University, so long as the two teams are not on the same field, you pull for the gold and blue.

Being a Mountaineer is bigger than attending West Virginia University.  It's about living in West Virginia, the Mountain State.  It's about explaining to people who think Richmond is our capital, that no, we are in fact our own state, with our own capital. It's about explaining that it really is West Virginia, not just western Virginia.  That we wear shoes, have indoor plumbing, and don't marry our cousins.  It's learning to love this small-in-size state that usually falls near the bottom of all the good lists and the top of all the bad lists.

And Pat White exemplified what being a Mountaineer was all about.  After his final game in gold and blue, when speaking about his time at WVU, he said "Once a Mountaineer, Always a Mountaineer".

And in that one sentence, he said it all.  Whether you live in West Virginia for a day or a lifetime, if you truly take a moment to absorb what being a Mountaineer is all about, you get it.  And are Always a Mountaineer.

The video clip is a promotional video for WVU, but the part of Pat White saying "Once a Mountaineer, Always a Mountaineer" is just 12-13 seconds in.


Just a Game

Football really is just a game.  

I'll wait while you pick yourself up off the floor after reading those words because I'm sure you didn't expect to see them 'round here.  Glad you are okay!  Now, we'll move on.

Yes, football really is just a game.

When I wrote about crying in football, I touched on it.

Today, I was reminded.

I was all set to write a woe-is-me-as-a-Mountaineer-fan post about our loss in the Gator Bowl.  I'm really glad Bobby Bowden went out a winner, but how I wish it had been a different team.

And then, I was reminded that a loss in a football game is not the end of the world.

The Man and I were watching my 2nd most loved team, the Steelers, play the Miami Dolphins and rooting the Steelers to victory for a chance at a playoff spot.

Then, Pat White, former Mountaineer Quarterback, got a chance to play in the game.  I was immediately torn between wanting Pat to have a great game and wanting the Steelers to win.

And then, Pat was running for a first down and took a helmet to helmet (clean, unintentional) hit from Steeler Ike Taylor.

And then, Pat didn't move. At. All.

My heart skipped a beat and tears streamed down my face, proving that once again, there is crying in football.

All of a sudden, I could've cared less who won the game.  Or, frankly, if it was even finished.

He was strapped to the board and carted off the field.

He did move his arms a little.  And flash his trademark smile.

As I type this, the only news I have is that the air-lift was cancelled.  Pat is in the hospital after briefly losing consciousness from the hit.  According to Profootballtalk, he is doing 'better' and has full use of all extremities.

And, then to read on twitter others relishing Pat's injury and hoping he was not okay.

I LOVE football - especially Mountaineer football.  I'm the first to admit the outcome of a game can affect my mood for an entire week or even an entire offseason.

But it's just a game.

If I ever doubted how much I truly believe that, I was reminded today (and I have to say, I do think I keep it in perspective pretty well).

Please say a prayer for Pat White.  For his family.  For all football players.

Because, it's just a game.


Looking Back, Looking Forward

Happy New Year!

Looking Back:
Last year, I created a list of resolutions, and I have to say, looking back, I get chills:
1)  Quit bitting my nails - despite a setback or 2, I can safely say I am a recovering nail biter.  Most days I even have polished nails!  I'm considering this resolution a major success.
2)  Hit the gym - I had a great spring and discovered the pool.  Then I hit a major bump in my life that clearly caused me to forget how to get to the pool.  I'll be recycling this resolution and working for better results.
3)  Become an educated believer - I'm gonna call this a huge success and a work in progress.  When I decided on this resolution, the logical side of me pictured a lot of research and cross-referencing.  Umm, yea, not even close - instead, my heart and soul were touched by God's Grace and then I was truly carried through by his Grace.  I learned more about my relationship with God and the Holy Spirit than I ever expected.  I learned enough to know that it's only the beginning.
4)  Stop the 'hemming and hawing' - I had no idea just how much this was going to play into my life.  I wrote this resolution wanting to be better about making day-to-day decisions, I had no idea I'd be deciding on what direction my life needed to be on.  Again, this is a successful work in progress and the success is truly by the Grace of God.

Looking Forward:
1)  Continue to learn and grow in my Faith and my relationship with God.  Some specifics in this area are to attend daily mass, at least semi-regularly and learn more about the history of the Catholic church and our traditions.  And yes, I realize I'm going all cross-referencing and research again here, but I'm trusting that if i start in 'my' direction, His direction will become clear.  (Hey, it worked last year, right?)
2)  Hit the gym.  Thanks to Sara's resolution, I'll also be hitting the pavement.  Thanks to a great Couch to 5K Program I'm looking forward to success this year!  I'm also really looking forward to getting back into the pool, I miss my time in the water.
3)  No more procrastinating.  I did really well with the ending of the hemming and hawing, I think it's time to quit the procrastinating.  This will be as hard to quit as the nail biting, but I'm determined.  I can be seriously lazy and love to put off what should be done today until tomorrow.  Or next week.  Gotta cut it out.

Most importantly, I wish you and those you love a happy, healthy 2010!


Gator Bowl

If you're looking for a Happy New Year post, or a post on resolutions, please come back tomorrow.  I have more important things to discuss today - Mountaineer Football!!!  (You're shocked, I know - ha!)

Today felt like it would never get here.  But it did, and it is GAME DAY!

Today, at 1 pm EST, the Mountaineers and the Florida State Seminoles face off in the annual Gator Bowl.

I'm so excited, I'm turning gold and blue.  Ok, that's just the face paint, but let's not dwell on details.

Seriously though, I'm ready - and I sure hope the Mountaineers who are actually playing in the bowl game are ready too!!!

We've opted for the comforts and convenience, and let's face it, cost, of our living room over actually going to the bowl game this year.

Any bowl game is special.  But this year's is extra special for Florida State.  Bobby Bowden is retiring.  If you don't know who Bobby Bowden is, you've probably not read this far anyway, so I'm not going to explain it.
But you may not know why it's special to a WVU fan that it's Bobby Bowden's last game.

Well, I'm gonna tell ya!  (Again, I know your shocked!)  Bobby Bowden was once upon a time the Head Coach at WVU.  His sons even went to the same high school as me.  He is pretty much a legend in WV and if we were having a bad year, it wasn't uncommon to see signs that said "Bobby Bowden Phone Home" in the stands at games.

Did you see We Are Marshall (if not, you must!  Even if you're not a football fan!)?  True story - and it will give you glimpse of the kind of man that Bobby Bowden is.

And now that I've told you how great Bobby Bowden is, I'm also going to tell you, that I'll care about all of that again tomorrow.

Today, the only thing I want to have happen is a Mountaineer Win!!!

I'm cautiously optimistic about this game.  We have the better team.  They have the emotional factor.

The one thing I do know for sure, at 1:00 I'll be cheering on the Mountaineers.  It's not a secret this season has had it's ups and downs.  I'm rooting for a major UP to end the season.  This team deserves that, it's time to see if they play to earn it!

Let's Gooooo Mountaineers!!!!