My Guest Post on Devotional Diva

Beauty

Today, I am a guest blogger on Devotional Diva. Read my post “When It’s Easier to Declare Defeat“.

Have you ever declared self-defeat rather than leaning on faith? This is my story about what God has taught me through pregnancy and the miracles He creates every day!

Thank you to my friend, Renee Fisher, for having me as a guest blogger on Devotional Diva. I have learned a lot from Renee about writing and blogging. We met unofficially through iBelieve.com. It is also an honor to have her as an upcoming guest blogger on my website this summer.

In case you’ve missed my articles on iBelieve and other sites – check them out here.

Stay tuned for for book reviews and other posts coming soon.

Have a blessed week!

 

Living on a Gluten-Free Diet

Gluten-Free-Diet

What is it like to live on a gluten-free diet?

I get this question a lot. For anyone out there that might be considering a gluten-free diet, I do have a few answers to the common questions. So let’s begin… I hope you find this helpful…

Q: What is gluten?
A: Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat.

Q: What can you eat?
A: We can eat the same things as everyone else. I avoid food items that are made with breading, malt, or flour. There are certain items that I have to avoid like regular pizza, deserts, breakfast pastries, etc. Sometimes it can be hard, but I’ll touch on that later.

Q: Is it difficult to travel?
A: Yes and no. I have learned to find “something in nothing”. I admit that it can be tricky to eat at a bar or airport, but it’s not entirely impossible. If there are not gluten-free options, I will either opt for a bunless burger, salad with protein (like grilled chicken), or just plain french fries (non-breaded, of course). While traveling, I also pack nonperishable snacks in my suitcase; like almonds, cashews, craisins, gluten-free granola bars, and more.

Q: Is a gluten-free diet just one of the latest fads?
A: No. Unfortunately there are individuals that have a condition of the small intestines called Celiac Disease, which prevents them from consuming even the smallest amount of gluten. There are individuals, like myself, that experience a gluten-intolerance – it won’t necessarily cause damage to my digestive system but it does cause irritation, migraines and muscle pain. Other individuals that chose to eat gluten-free may enjoy the benefits of less bloating and fullness. Some people feel that it is a healthy option for their blood sugar levels, cholesterol, cardiovascular, and overall health.

Q: What is with all the “gluten-free” labels on food?
A: In my opinion, Americans are becoming less tolerant of what we consume and more aware of the benefits of eating gluten-free. Truthfully, gluten in LARGE amounts is not healthy. Somehow this has triggered a response from the food industry. I’ve encountered a number of people that are irritated with this… but really, what is the harm?

Q: I’m considering a gluten-free diet. How do I order food at a restaurant?
A: This question makes me laugh because I am still trying to figure this out too. Some restaurants are really good about advertising gluten-free options for food – while others say nothing at all on the menu. I’ve learned what to avoid and what to request. My suggestion would be to let your server know that you have a “gluten intolerance or allergy” right away. Some servers are super helpful while others can be intrusive to figure out the severity of your diet restriction. Be prepared for some extra questions – this has caught me off-guard several times.

Q: Can you grow out of this intolerance?
A: Sometimes. I have known a few people that are able to eat gluten again by slowly reintroducing it into their diet. Some women actually experience less of an intolerance after giving birth. Must be nice!

Q: How do you tell people that you cannot consume regular food items that contain gluten?
A: Just put it out there. Having diet restrictions is not a new thing. Sometimes people at work will offer me a pastry or desert, and I will usually say something like “Thanks, I wish I could eat that” or “If only I could enjoy the wheat“. No one seems to take offense.

Q: Do you feel better?
A: YES! The difference in changing my diet has been amazing. As you may have read, I suffer from a disease called Endometriosis (Endo). Women with Endo experience issues with digestion in addition to the pain from growing lesions in the body. Gluten and soy can cause extra irritation on the lesions and intestines. Cutting out wheat doesn’t take away all the pain but it does help with less brain fog, immune issues, and abdominal pressure. I always recommend a gluten-free diet to friends recently diagnosed with Endo. It may benefit people with other diseases or conditions; like Fibromyalgia, Diabetes, Lupus and more.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me by email or leave a comment below. Thank you!

Copyright 2014 WordsByMara. All rights reserved.

Raising Awareness for Endometriosis

Endometriosis Awareness

This week is National Endometriosis Awareness Week. I have a strong desire to help other women that are undiagnosed or recently diagnosed find the right help and answers.

Let’s start with some facts and stats first:

  • 1 in 10 women have Endometriosis (also known as Endo)
  • Endo cannot be OFFICIALLY diagnosed without surgery. A doctor might be able to determine if your symptoms match the disease but it’s not 100% unless they see your insides.
  • 2-4% of women in the world have Endo.
  • 30 to 50% of women with Endo may experience trouble with infertility. Stats don’t always matter though.
  • Pregnancy is possible!
  • There are other reproductive conditions that can cause extra pain or even mimic Endo.
  • Endo is measured in stages but it does not determine your ability to reproduce or level of pain. Stages measure how far adhesions grow in your body.
  • Pregnancy and surgery do not cure Endo.
  • The best way to remove adhesions is with lasers – not burning.

What is Endometriosis? … Endometriosis is a female health disorder that occurs when cells/adhesions from the lining of the womb (uterus) grow in other areas of the body. This can lead to pain, irregular bleeding where ever the adhesion grow, and possible infertility. It can cause complications with your bladder, immune system, and digestion as well.

Okay, with that said… let’s talk about getting the proper care.

There are unfortunately too many doctors giving false diagnosis and false prognosis. Some doctors base their information on limited medical knowledge of the disease – an Obstetrician (OB) or Gynecologist do not have the same in-depth knowledge as an Endometriosis Specialist. The fact is that Endo adhesions are too small to identify (at this point) by ultrasound or other testing. It is only truly diagnosed through surgery and there is no cure!

When I started having unbearable abdominal pain, I discussed it with my current OB at the time. With an understanding of my medical history, he suspected Endo but never gave an official diagnosis. After my first surgery, he explained that it might be difficult to conceive and that I should see an endo specialist. Read more about my story here.

It was 2 weeks before my wedding when I learned it may not be possible to create a family with my soon-to-be husband. 2 weeks – that’s it. My heart was broken and I was terribly confused. If you’ve ever felt this way, read my other post on “Processing a Diagnosis” and “Understanding Women’s Health“.

Thankfully I met an Endo Specialist soon after the initial diagnosis and he was an absolute godsend. Never once did he say that I couldn’t have a baby – in fact he was very certain that I could. Yet it was hard for us to believe the new doctor based on what the other doctor said.

I can tell you now that pregnancy is absolutely possible with the right treatment, care and surgery. My husband and I are miraculously expecting our first child this summer. We are overjoyed and blessed beyond measure! :)

It is unfortunate but when doctors tell patients they MIGHT not be able to have kids… it’s not what the patient hears. The patient hears CAN’T. My mind was stuck on the negative because that’s what I was first told. I spent too many years worrying about my chances of getting pregnant and it really tested my faith.

Ladies – I know this is hard to surpass! That is why it’s so important to find the right doctor and get the proper care.

I hear story after story of women that experience the wrong diagnosis or have a bad experience with a doctor. It absolutely enrages me to hear stories of women getting less than optimal treatment. That is why I want to do everything I can to help others going through a tough transition of diagnosis and understanding the truth behind the complications of Endo.

With that said… I went to Twitter and asked some “Endo Sisters” to weigh in on this topic so that we could all relate to one another. I asked, “What has been the hardest part about being diagnosed?”

  • @SalinaSh12 - For me the hardest part is still trying to explain it all to people. They switch off and put it down to problems with your period.
  • @EndoForum - Finding peace with myself that I’ll have to live with this forever and make the best out of it without losing quality of life.
  • @ LE_tait - Accepting all that comes with Endo and rise above it.
  • @unbelizable26 - Learning to deal with the anger I had for the previous doctors who didn’t listen.
  • @BattleWithEndo - Learning to cope with the fact there isn’t much they can do after surgery.
  • @jennyrly10 - Having no control of how Endometriosis was eating away at my insides. Feeling isolated and exhausted at trial and error treatments.
  • @EndoScotland - The emotional side effects of the decision you have to make.
  • @bbbrittish - It’s totally unknown; it hurts sometimes and not others with no clear reason.

Thank you to all the Endo ladies for contributing to the conversation and raising awareness! Alone we can feel vulnerable and confused. Together we can learn more and raise awareness for a misunderstood disease.

If you have any questions – please do not hesitate to contact me by email. WordsByMara@gmail.com

*Please note: I am not a medical professional. A lot of my thoughts are based on experience and research.

Copyright 2014 Words By Mara. All rights reserved.

Sources:
http://www.endometriosisassn.org/endo.html
https://www.endocenter.org/
https://www.facebook.com/endowarriorssupport

Delicious Recipe – Mara’s Tomato Zuppa

Mara's Zuppa

The other day I was craving a bowl of Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana soup. Since their soup isn’t exactly gluten-free, I decided to make my own spin off inspired by the delicious dish.

Their soup contains a cream base – which probably includes flour. So I used whatever I could find in my pantry and loved the final product.

I always know that I’ve created something good when my husband says, “You need to make this again!”

It’s been a while since I shared a recipe. So… to my fellow culinary enthusiast, this one is a must try! Let us know if you like it.

Mara’s Tomato Zuppa (4-6 servings)

Ingredients:
- 28 ounce can crushed tomato
- 40 ounces water
- 1-1/2 cup chopped kale
- 1/2 medium chopped onion
- 1 TBSP gluten-free flour (I used brown rice flour)
- 3/4 pound ground beef or chicken
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3 large diced yellow potato
- Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions:
Start by browning the meat in a fry pan or large soup pot. Season the meat. Add the onions and garlic, cook for 2-3 minutes. Drain and add gluten-free flour. Stir for another 1-2 minutes. Then add the rest of the ingredients – crushed tomato, water, kale, potato and seasoning. Simmer on low heat for 30-45 minutes. Taste and season as needed. Serve and enjoy.

Guest Post – Living Like a Christian

Fear

Guest Post by Veronica: Returning for a second time on WordsByMara is my friend and co-worker, Veronica. Today she is sharing her testimony and story of coming to faith. Our relationship with God is constantly growing and needs tender care. I pray that you are encouraged by Veronica’s story.

Blessed to have been raised in a Christian home, I have always known about Jesus and the sacrifice he made for our sins. I do not have a specific day, time or moment that I can say was the exact time I found Jesus, because for as long as I can remember, he always has been there.

For that reason, I have never felt like my testimony has been worth sharing. However, looking deep, that is what makes it worth sharing. It’s a story of ups and downs and growth – aspects that any relationship goes through.

All through high school I was extremely involved in my church. I went on two life changing missions’ trips and was an active member in youth group and leading junior high bible studies. Going into college I was confident I would take all of that with me.

But as much as I wanted to… it did not happen.

I was never a huge partier, but I didn’t get involved with any church groups on campus. Actually, I can only remember one time that I went to church while I was in college. That is really hard to admit, but it’s true.

Through it all, I always considered myself a Christian, but was I? Yes, I believed that Jesus died for my sins, but I certainly did not have a great personal relationship with him any longer. I read my bible occasionally, and prayed daily, but the personal relationship I had with Him was not the same as in the past.

I knew God could see my heart, he knew my desires to have a relationship with him again. I had a longing for more, but did not know how to get there. I started praying and asking for God to lead me to him.

I reached out to a friend that I knew was actively involved in church and started going with her. Along with reading my Bible daily again, I finally felt like I was in a good place in my relationship with Him.

Like any relationship, a relationship with God would take time spent with him and an effort to live life in a Godly way.

Two years after graduating college, I was baptized. To me this did not represent giving my life to Him for the first time. Instead, it symbolized a commitment to carry out his plan and actively live life for Him daily and forever.

Recently after I was baptized, I shared with a coworker about the experience. Her response surprised me, “You’re the most un-stereotypical Christian I have ever met”, she said.

Honestly, that hurt to hear. What was meant to be a compliment felt like the complete opposite to me.

I didn’t understand. I had never done anything in the workplace that would make someone think I am not a follower of Christ. Why would she say that?

As followers of Christ, we are called to share the Gospel with others. Simply knowing His Word is not enough. I felt as though I had failed. After being on an emotional high from being baptized, I again was in a stage of self-reflection.

Through prayer, I realized although I had not done anything “secular” to make her believe I was not a Christian, I had never done anything to show her that I was.

Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven”.

Now, I can honestly say I feel that I live that verse as truth. It does not mean introducing myself as a Christian or standing on street corners with signs. However, through my words and actions I try to show God’s love.

Every day I wake up with purpose.  I feel energized and renewed to see what God has planned for me next. I feel myself growing in my faith daily and always looking for an opportunity to share that with others.

I may not be perfect, but I have a wanting and desire to live for Him. If you yearn for a personal relationship with God, remember what He tells us in Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart”.

VeronicaVeronica resides in Wisconsin with Ryan and their dog-child, Shandy.  She enjoys taking Shandy to the dog park, going fishing and spending quality time with family.  She is blessed and can’t wait to see where God takes her and her family next. 

My Guest Post on Identity Renewed

motorcycle

A few weeks ago, I was a guest blogger on my friend Teryn’s website. She is the writer at Identity Renewed – which focuses on brokenness redeemed by God’s light.

Identity Renewed is a blog about revealing wounds. It’s about exposing those sides of us that we don’t often expose, in hopes that we may all feel a little less alone in humanity. It’s about freeing us up to learn that God can often meet us in the wounds. Teryn says, “When we are honest and confront our pain, healing comes and we embrace God’s love.”

Teryn is currently writing a fantasy novel trilogy and works in the publishing industry.

I connected with Teryn on Twitter and through the online Christian community last year. I’m very thankful for her friendship and the opportunity to post on her site.

Please check out my post on Identity Renewed as I share my story of how the Lord has transformed my life and identity through a life changing accident. Read the post here – Finding God in the Midst of  Brain Injury.

God bless you all this week.

Blog Talk Radio Appearance – Interview Topic

FlexHour

I am very thankful for the opportunity to appear on Blog Talk Radio with Flex Hour Jobs. They requested me as a guest to discuss interview techniques and other job search tips.

Flex Hour Jobs specializes in jobs for individuals in need of flexibility – especially for those with health issues and unique family situations. Please check out their site.

Here is a link to my very first radio appearance. Please listen and share with anyone that may be in need of some job searching tips.

Words By Mara Guest Appearance on Blog Talk Radio with Flex Hour Jobs.

Thank you very much for the support. And a big thank you to Jacqueline for having me as a guest! :)

How to Process Endometriosis

Diagnosis

Your life changes when you receive a medical diagnosis. Since everyone processes things differently, here is what I’ve learned over the last 15 years of dealing with chronic pain and finally finding the answers.

3 weeks prior to marrying my best friend, I opted to have exploratory surgery. The result was Endometriosis (read more here). At first, I was thankful to feel better and have an answer to ALL the pain! BUT looking back, there are a lot of steps or tips that would have been helpful in my new journey with a life-long, frustrating disease.

So for my “Endo Sisters” or anyone newly diagnosed with Endo or similar conditions – here is what I’ve learned.

  1. You have an answer. Now what? Take the time to be thankful… you have an answer! No matter how long it took you to get to this point… you now understand what is going on in your body. This is good news and doctors can treat it appropriately. Be thankful.
  2. Process your new reality. Okay, yes you have an answer, but what does this mean? Being diagnosed may require a bit of the “grieving process”. Endometriosis can be painful, but it can also come with a lot of extra frustrating symptoms. Try to remain as positive as possible. Do not let it defeat you.
  3. Do your research and find support. Honestly, when I was diagnosed there weren’t people around me that understood what I was going through. My recommendation is to research and find online communities that share in your pain – literally. Understand your diagnosis inside and out. For instance, having Endo may require you to change some of your eating habits or diet. There are certain food ingredients that are important to avoid – especially wheat and soy. It takes a lot of effort, but it definitely helps reduce inflammation associated with those pesky little adhesion’s.
  4. Don’t play the “what if” game. It’s really easy to fall into the trap of asking yourself “what if” questions. Believe me, I’ve done it too. “What if I can’t have kids” – is the biggest one. “What if I need more surgeries” or “what if I never get relief from this pain”. Don’t allow the disease to win by asking these questions. Chances are that if you have a great doctor that specializes in Endo, your surgeries will be minimal and fertility will be preserved. We don’t know the future – so why worry? Take it one day at time!
  5. Allow yourself one pity day. I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes the pain can cut straight to my spirit and ruin my mood. Yes, it is definitely hard to live with chronic pain – which is why I allow myself one day infrequently to feel sad about it. After that, it’s time to carry on with life and keep my head up.
  6. Take it easy and know when to say no. Endometriosis can bring on a lot of unwelcomed symptoms and fatigue is one of them. If you’re a social butterfly or have a busy lifestyle, it can be hard to miss out on activities and events. But sometimes attending an event can contribute more to your fatigue and pain. I’ve had to learn when to say no and actually miss out on some rather cool events. It’s disappointing, but I know when my body needs rest.
  7. Stay positive and LIVE! It would be easy to spend all day, every day in bed. But where would that get me? Despite the fact that Endo takes a huge toll on our bodies – it’s important to keep moving and stay reasonably active. This will help your mood, energy levels and attitude. Remember that your disease can be frustrating but it doesn’t define you!
  8. Stay away from WebMD. Sorry, WebMD but your site can really be full of doom and gloom. The last thing we need is to worry more about our bodies. If you are concerned about something going on in your body, definitely contact your doctor or healthcare provider instead of searching online.
  9. See an Endo Specialist. Unfortunately, there are a lot of doctors out there that don’t understand Endo and don’t know how to treat it. As a woman with ANY reproductive issue, I recommend seeing a specialist that knows how to treat it. This is important for your body AND for the future of creating a family.

If you ever need someone to listen, please don’t hesitate to email me. I might take a couple days to respond but I’m always happy to listen or provide encouragement where needed. Remember that you are not alone – we can get through this together! Email me any time – wordsbymara@gmail.com .

Please find some resources below for Endometriosis organizations and support. 

Copyright 2014 Words By Mara. All rights reserved.

Phone Interview Etiquette

Phone Interview

When it comes to phone interviews, they can be tricky. You’re not actually face-to-face with someone, but it’s the most important CRUCIAL step in marketing yourself to the company.

I remember my very first phone interview. I had applied to large companies in the Milwaukee area years ago and most of them were conducting phone interviews as initial steps in finding a candidate.

My phone rang one afternoon as I was preparing for a different, SCHEDULED phone interview. It was a woman from HR at a large corporation where I had applied for a copywriter position.

“Hello Mara? Yes, we are calling around to some of our applicants for the copywriter position. Would you have a few moments to speak with me?”

Okay, okay… little did I know that this was actually a phone interview. She never called it that and also never scheduled it. So I was thrown completely off-guard and had no time to prepare. None.

As I fumbled my way through question after question, I already knew that I wasn’t going to get a call back. It was horrible and being unprepared was the problem.

Afterwards, I jumped in the shower and got ready for my next phone interview. I was prepared for this interview and looking forward to speaking with the hiring manager – whom I had a mutual connection with from a previous job.

The second interview went well. I was dressed in professional attire, had a list of questions and answers in front of me and had done some research on the company. These are all important pieces when preparing for an interview over the phone.

Technically, phone interviews are no different than in-person interviews. Yet, the same rules don’t always apply.

Remember when the HR rep called from the other company and did an impromptu phone interview? This happens all the time! Heck, I’ve even had an impromptu phone interview while walking out the door from an in-person interview. The only piece of advice I can give you in a situation like this is… have prepared answers and KNOW the company or position where you applied!

Tips for the best phone interview:

  1. Dress professionally. I know what you’re thinking… no one can actually see you so why does it matter? It helps to get your mind focused and promotes a professional demeanor. You’d be surprised by the difference this can make in how you conduct yourself over the phone.
  2. Stay in a quiet place and remain seated. I’ll admit that I’m “walk and talker” – I’d prefer to be up and moving while talking on the phone. Do NOT move or walk around during a phone interview. Sit at a desk or table. Conduct yourself in the same manner you would at an in-person interview.
  3. Do not pump gas or order food during a phone interview. Appalling, right? I’ve been told by a few hiring managers that they are just shocked when the candidate is doing anything other than concentrating on the task at hand. This kind of goes hand-in-hand with #2, so treat the phone interview the same as in-person!
  4. Take your time to answer the question. Some people are afraid of awkward silence over the phone, but there is nothing wrong with taking a few moments to collect your thoughts.
  5. Smile. Yes, I know they can’t see you but they can hear it in your voice. Speak with eloquence, enthusiasm, excitement and poise!
  6. Give examples and back it up with an action. What does this mean? After several phone interviews, I wasn’t getting call backs and did not understand why – so I asked one of the companies for feedback and it has changed the way that I interview. My advice… go into complete, thorough details when it comes to work experience and examples. You’re old positions and tasks make sense to you but they need to be explained to the person interviewing you. Come up with examples during your preparation and use examples from different positions in your history (if you have few employers then give examples from college courses, volunteer experiences or internships).
  7. Graciously request timelines. Typically if the interviewer is interested in moving quickly with you – they will ask if you’re interviewing with anyone else and will offer to bring you in for an interview right away. This doesn’t always apply though. If the interviewer doesn’t offer a date for when you’ll get a call back, simply ask and do not demand anything. If HR is conducting the interview, they may need to correspond with the hiring manager before calling you back. If you don’t hear anything within 5 days, they’ve probably moved on.
  8. Be yourself. Don’t lie or try to be someone other than yourself. The interviewer wants to know if you’re a good fit. Don’t force it.
  9. Read my “Basic Interview Tips for more helpful hints on nailing an interview.

Please feel free to email me for any other tips. If I can’t offer the advice your looking for, the least I can do is pray. Write to me at - wordsbymara@gmail.com

Copyright 2014 Words By Mara. All rights reserved.

Guest Post – Precious Christmas Moments

Snow

Guest Post by Jenny Lorton - I’m excited to introduce Jenny as the guest blogger again today. She has become a regular and I’m thankful for her willingness to share these stories. Today, Jenny gives her perspective on being a step-parent and the difficulties that come with it. She explains that building relationships aren’t always easy, but they’re worth it. God bless you, Jenny. Thank you!

“Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  Psalm 37:4

Children are a blessing from The Lord.

I’ve always believed that, even when you inherit the child at age 16 through a second marriage.  Especially a girl.  Named Amy.  You see, that’s what I always wanted.  A little girl.  And I was going to name her Amy.  But life didn’t work out quite that way.

After almost 7 years of marriage, I was finally pregnant (read more here).  And my husband and I were being transferred to Subic Bay, Philippines.  I actually found out that I was pregnant the same day the movers showed up to our San Diego, California, apartment.  I had a miscarriage after only a month in the Philippines and then was divorced a couple of years later.

I always knew that God has an ultimate plan for my life, but I never imagined that it would include a teenage “child” instead of the baby I always wanted.  Fast forward to 1988, when I finally met my daughter, Amy.  De ja vu.  She was a very precocious teenager, with her first car, who had lived with her dad ever since she was a toddler.  Then in comes another woman.  Me.  Her dad and I started dating in 1987 after I moved from Sacramento, CA, to Dayton, OH, for work with the Air Force.

To say I was an intrusion into her much pampered life would be an understatement.  For the next couple of years, she tried everything in her arsenal of “He’s my Dad” to break us up.  Life was tense and we had many not so friendly “get-togethers”.  When she finally graduated from High School, her dad and I thought she would finally settle down a little, go to college (even though it was a two-year school and not her college of choice), and get a part time job to help with her expenses.  On and off this went for a year or so.  We finally had to give her an ultimatum – either get a job, her own apartment, and go to night school…or join the military.  After much conversation and consideration, she decided to join the Air Force.

So here we were in 1991, planning her final Christmas at home before saying goodbye to her and sending her off to boot camp.  This was to be her first official time away from home and the beginning of her new life on her own.  I wanted to make it special.

It’s not easy to buy for a kid who had been doted upon by her father, his mother, and the rest of the family, as she was the oldest grandchild.  Her dad was the youngest of four brothers and he had Amy when he was still a child, basically.  But he was committed to raise her as best as he knew how.

So I tried my best to remember everything Amy said she wanted throughout the year…special pajamas, tennis shoes, clothes.  And even though we didn’t have a lot of money (we basically lived from paycheck to paycheck), I was determined that her Christmas would be special.

On Christmas morning, when she finally woke up (you know teenagers – they always want to sleep!), she came into the living room and sat on the carpet right next to the Christmas tree.  Amy was one tough cookie.  It took a lot to make her cry – the loss of her grandmother in 1988, needles, boyfriends.  But when she started opening one gift after another, and getting more emotional after each one, even I had tears in my eyes.

She finally opened the last one, a Precious Moments girl in a uniform, and the tears started to fall.  I had finally got through to this beautiful, wonderful daughter of mine.  And God filled the hole in my heart that was empty for wanting a child.

This is my Christmas to remember.  Even though I’ve had great Christmases since then, 1988 will always be special.  It’s the Christmas I finally knew I had a “child”, not just a “step”. 

Jenny-LortonJenny is a retired civilian finance manager from the Air Force where she worked for 24 years. She resides in Warner Robins, Georgia with her husband and 3 dogs. In her spare time, Jenny is an artist and avid crafter. She enjoys helping and sharing the bible the others. A life-long dream has always been to write.

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