God’s Wake Up Call

asouthernmother
October 26, 2013

Wednesday morning on a plane to Newark, I started this blog entry,

“Why, of why God have you forsaken me?” I repeat this repeatedly to myself. How many trials
should one person have to endure in a lifetime? It is growing harder to not be frustrated with “life”. I am happy to be alive and I am grateful for a healthy child, but I have days when I am pissed at the “man upstairs”. I have days when I am unsure if my faith is being tested, or this is retribution for a previous or future sin. I don’t have much to complain about in the grand scheme of things but I am just tired of the “drama”. I have a career that I love, and I am surrounded by family and friends. My son is healthy, and he is happy most of the time. My attempts at letting “faith be bigger than my fears,” are failing. I spent several hours in prayer and meditation last week. My rosary nearly calloused my hands, and “Hail Mary” played through my mind on repeat. I just wanted to cry out, “Give me a sign God, please show me what you want from me.” The last 6 years have been chaos, and I assumed my impending divorce would provide some relief. I feel like a weight has been lifted, but the stress of the divorce proceedings and a heated custody battle is killer. Friends of mine who have been through similar things, who used the services of lawyers like those from Simon Law, found that the process was far less stressful when they had an experienced legal professional onboard. We filled for divorce in May and we are no closer to settling things than when we first filled, it is nearly November! It has gotten so ugly, I am unsure that it will ever be amicable, maybe I should invest the help of a law firm like peters and may to help it become amicable? My son will be subject to the same ugly childhood that I had, two parents who vengefully hate each other. I wish I could reassure him. I wish I could offer him some resemblance of a “normal” life. Yes, the majority of children will witness the divorce of a parent during a lifetime, the upset and heartbreak of either parent, the back and forth of visits and phone calls with the chosen law firm. It can all get a bit much, but that doesn’t make it normal…..

I intended to finish the piece after I landed, but God got had a sign waiting on me. I turned on my phone, and read my Facebook feed to see a host of prayer requests. I was unsure of what had happened, but I knew it had to be bad. A clicked on a single message to my cousin Jennifer’s facebook wall, to find a host of other prayer requests. My heart sank. I had messaged her early that morning, and didn’t get a response which was unusual. When I finally spoke to someone, I was heartbroken and angry at first. I thought to myself, “God, how could you do this?” I came back home knowing lots of people, but I really didn’t “know” anyone anymore. Jennifer had welcomed me back into the family and into her heart. My son and I love her two precious girls dearly. She had received news that no mother ever wants to hear, her oldest daughter had cancer.

It suddenly struck me. What in the heck had I been whining about? My son was healthy and safe, and I know I could help him by letting him talk openly, and doing my best to explain the situation to him. I’ve heard about book called Family Changes, a story to help your child understand the changes that will be happening, and I’m really thinking about picking up a copy for myself to help explain it to my boy in a way that will, hopefully, help him understand and give him some comfort. My situation might not be ideal, but I have everything to be grateful for. I felt like a selfish little brat. God gave me a sign, and a reality check. I immediately sobbed tears of sadness, but also remorse.

There is no problem too great that our God is unable to handle. I am sure that God will use Jennifer as a testament to his will and glory. My sweet lil cousin will continue to be a light unto the world, her faith and trust is unwavering. Reagan is in our constant prayers, she will be a miracle of God’s healing power.

The prayer to St. Jude

Most holy apostle, St. Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the Church honors and invokes you universally, as the patron of hopeless cases, of things almost despaired of. Pray for me, I am so helpless and alone. Make use I implore you, of that particular privilege given to you, to bring visible and speedy help where help is almost despaired of. Come to my assistance in this great need that I may receive the consolation and help of heaven in all my necessities, tribulations, and sufferings, particularly our beloved Reagan that you protect her, that I may praise God with you and all the elect forever.

I promise, O blessed St. Jude, to be ever mindful of this great favor, to always honor you as my special and powerful patron, and to gratefully encourage devotion to you.
Amen.

Please keep the family in your continued prayers.
We love you Reagan, it is time that we become your cheerleader!
XOXO
~Jess

The Unconditional Love of a Dog: Multi V-1 BOSS Siegerin AKC/UKC Ch Jailbirds Natural Disaster

asouthernmother
August 12, 2013
Naya and her son Will at our home, Christmas 2008

Naya was terrified the first time we met her.  A Delta baggage handler had accidentally let her loose while watering her after a close to 24 hour flight from Slovakia.  She was running free on the tarmac at Atlanta airport, and she didn’t make it easy for anyone to catch her.  A gate guard offered us a bag of Cheetos, and they were just enticing enough for us to snag her.  Expect the unexpected would be the legacy for our Naya, Jailbirds Natural Disaster.  

Our ride home from Atlanta was fairly uneventful.  We realized she loved McDonald’s chicken nuggets and ice cream, but she hated french fries.  She adored Arturo and I from that day forward.  

Naya was reacquired by her breeder from her initial owner.  She was born in Texas, and lived there briefly with another family.  We suspected, he didn’t always show Naya the kindness or care she deserved.  She left the U.S. with her breeders to go to their kennel in Slovakia for training.  The first glimpse we saw of her was on a video. She was doing schutzhund work and chasing a gigantic red ball.  

She would surprise us a second time at her first vet visit.  The vet came in and told us that Naya had heartworms, on examination her heart was enlarged and we should return her.  We contacted her breeders who left the decision up to us.  They would pay for treatment and we could keep her, or we could give her up.  The moment we caught her on the runway she was ours, and we never second guessed our decision to stand by her.  

Naya winning a Working Group 2nd

A few short weeks after treatment we attended the Medallion Rottweiler Club specialty in Chicago.  Little did they know that the timid little rottweiler we were nursing back to health, would go on to win the largest class at the Rottweiler National Specialty the following spring.  I am sure many people who saw in her Chicago thought we would be lucky to finish her championship, let alone accomplish what we did.  

She took her very first point owner handled by my novice husband on a very competitive January circuit day. It was her first time in the ring.  Her first major win was their next weekend out, taking 4 more points toward her championship and Best of Opposite Sex over a nationally ranked females.  Beautifully handled by B.J. Barnhart she won the American Bred class at the ARC National specialty over 41 other gorgeous girls.  She went on to take her first working group placement before she finished her championship, taking Best of Breed from the classes and winning second place in the Working Group.  Her show career was incredible, and she was stunning to watch in the ring.  She followed along in the footprints of her legendary father Multi V-1 Multi Ch Gil Crni Lotos, half brothers Pascha and Lazer, and sister Nadia.  

My two babies, Naya and Gabe Oct 2011

Winning in the ring could never compare to what she did out of the ring.  She was loyal, loving, and goofy.  She would win over anyone who met her.  My grandmother who was terrified of rottweilers, fell in love with her too.  Naya helped raise more human babies, than she did puppies.  She whelped one litter of 3, all of whom were equally special as she.  I will forever cherish the photos of Gabe, Alyssa, Jenesis, Branton, Riley, and Naya. 

Naya on my grandparents farm, chasing a beloved tennis ball


Naya was born on July 18, 2000.  She was known by her breeders as the special pink girl, who ran her litter.  She eventually became the grey haired old lady who ran our home and our hearts.  Today, I say goodbye to one of my oldest friends.  







I am attempting to show her the same unconditional love that she showed me.  Goodbye my sweet girl, your mom Katka, dad Gil, sis Natia, niece Party, sis Nikita, Aunt Foa, Lady, Grizzley, and your kiddos Jane, Will, and Hoo-Ah will all be waiting at rainbow bridge to greet you. You don’t have to suffer a day longer. I have been selfish to keep you as long as I have. You were my first baby, and you will always hold a place in my heart.


Til we meet again my precious girl,
Love Mom



                                                             Multi V-1 BOSS Siegerin AKC/UKC CH
Jailbirds Natural Disaster
CGC HIC 

                               Naya
Respected Source Validation Level


Female Rottweiler  7/18/2000-8/12/2013
Breeder: Taunya Griffin-Mravik & Gillian Black
AKC WP99190302
UKC P417-010
OFA Hips RO-65342E50F-PI   Excellent   (50months)
CHIC 1904
OFA Elbows OFA DJD I @50 months of age/ ED- Slovak
OFA Cardiac RO-CA1595/42F/C-PI
CERF RO-4920/2004-42
Sire: FCI/Am/Can/Aust/Hun/Slovak/Yug CH
Gil Crni Lotos
IPO I, RO-57067G29M-T, RO-EL2674M29-T
Dam: V-1 Katka Jailbirds Mra-Zus RO-58723G24F-T
2004 ARC National 1st place American Bred
2005 Dogwood Rottweiler Club BOSS
2005 BWRK V-1 Champion Class
2006 NERF V-1 Champion Class
2007 Seminole 1st Brood Bitch
2006 MRC 2nd Brood Bitch
AKC Group Placing Bitch. Finished AKC Championship with 3 major wins. Best of Breed and Best of Opposite Sex winner over specials from the classes. Multiple UKC group winning.
 

The Unloved

asouthernmother
August 12, 2013
Photo Credit: Pinterest 

“I realized in that moment, that no one ever truly loved me,” was almost harder to hear from another friend than it as for me to feel.  I don’t think anyone should feel that way, especially not another kind, intelligent, and beautiful soul.   There is a quote by Kim Culbertson that states, “People think being alone make you lonely, but I don’t think that’s true.  Being surrounded by the wrong people is the loneliest thing in the world.”  The people who care the most, and have the kindest hearts are often the easiest hurt.  It is heart wrenching to know another knows that pain and angst.  The emptiness that comes from questioning if anyone ever loved you, or made you a priority in their life is consuming.

I thought he was being stoic when he looked at me with a stern face, and said my brother had been murdered.  I could barely breath.  I felt like my heart was ripped from my chest.  I convinced myself he was holding it together for me but in reality he felt nothing.  He walked the funeral home floor by my side, never shedding a single tear.  I repeatedly told myself he was being strong for my sake.  I was so detached from reality that I failed to see the truth.  How could you watch someone you love hurt so deeply and show no emotion?  He showed no remorse for my pain, and I grieved alone.  I should have know the words he uttered were coming.

When he said, “Your better off that he is dead,” I wasn’t sure if he was emotionally murdering me.  I knew that very second that he didn’t love me.  How could you say such ugly and hateful words to someone you care for?  I was the mother of his child.  I had sat vigilant at his bedside while he had chemo, checked his lab draws every week, and prayed to God every night for his health.  I cried countless tears and wished it was I who was sick, instead of him.  The seven words that he uttered were the ultimate betrayal.  The one person in the entire world I thought who loved me unconditionally, never really loved me at all.  

Photo Credit: Pinterest
 

Relationships are about putting faith and trust in another.  You won’t always get along with them, want to be around them, or hear what they have to say but you care about them enough to deal with the issues.  It is heartbreaking when you realize someone you invested your life in viewed you so heartlessly.

She and I are not unloveable.  We chose to love the wrong people for the wrong reasons.  Maybe we loved them more than we loved ourselves.  I know that eventually the right people will come along at the right time, and they will love us for who we are.  They will appreciate that we are guarded, and they will know all our faults and will love us just the same.  They will not betray our trust.  They will guard our hearts instead of kicking us while we are down.  One day it will happen…

Photo Credit: Pinterest 

Happy Soul Searching Sunday,
XOXO
~Jess

Faith Bigger Than Your Fear and Investing Your Life

asouthernmother
August 8, 2013

My moments of brutal honesty never seem to end well.  I am struggling to adapt to all the change in my life.  I have an inner conflict.  I lack faith in others, but even worse I often fail to have faith in myself.  Decision making can be painful.  I am so fearful of making the wrong decision, I struggle to make a decision at all.  The last few weeks have been full of unrest.

Photo Credit: Pinterest


Gulp… here is my moment of honesty.  I have been seeing this guy for nearly 2 months.  He is very different, unlike anyone I have ever dated.  I tried really hard not to like him.  I was actually scolded by my friends for not giving him an “honest chance” at first.  He is cute, and he has the sweetest smile.  He tolerates my banter, and he is equally witty.  He loves his job, and he is impressively good at it.  The most admirable thing about him?  When I have a bad day usually involving a conflict with my ex, he tolerates me.  He takes the brunt of the quarrel, with unwavering grace.

Did I mention he has no children and has never been married?  His brief dealings with my son have been awkward but endearing.  His effort does not go unnoticed.

So what are his flaws?  They seem to be scarce.  His biggest flaw is that I like him.  So are you wondering why I consider liking him a flaw?  I try my best not to like anyone.  No expectations, equal no disappointments.  With the exception of a few people, I have been hurt the worst by those I cared about.  When most people try to draw others close, I tend to push them away.

Photo Credit: Pinterest 

What I am about to say might really get me in trouble but here it goes anyhow… The band Mumford and Sons has a song titled, Awake my Soul.   The lyrics say, “In these bodies we will live, In these bodies you will die.  Where you invest your love, you invest your life.”  Don’t read anymore into that statement than what it actually implies.  I am not saying I love him, I am in love with him, or that I am starting to fall in love with him.  I invest myself more in people than I do possessions.  Who you decide to spend time with or date is one of the most important decisions you will ever make.

People can either help or hinder you.  My relationship with my ex is proof of that.  Relationships should be encouraging and positive.  They should never be self-serving or hurtful.  All we truly have in life is time, and you have to invest it wisely.  We have to spend it with people we love, and doing things that what bring us happiness.  Once time is lost, you can never get it back.  You have to use it intentionally.

There are times when I am deeply angry at myself about the time I have wasted.  My biggest fear is wasting even more.  I am diligently trying to make my faith stronger than my fear.  I am sabotaging my own happiness with worry.  I am trying to trust my own judgment, and have faith that he has no intentions of hurting me.  I am choosing to invest myself in the moments we have together, even though they seem scarce.  I am choosing to have faith in him, but most of all to have faith in myself.  

Happy Thought-filled Thursday,
XOXO
~Jess

Contrition: Holding Myself Accountable

asouthernmother
August 1, 2013

A very traditional part of being a devout Catholic is confession.  Some people hate the act but I find it cleansing.  The Sacrament of Reconciliation always begins with, “Bless me Father, for I have sinned.”  My Baptist friends have occasionally chastised me over it, but it was another way I held myself accountable for my actions.  I enjoyed chatting with the Priest and try to do my penance.  You never want to do anything that your too ashamed to tell the Priest.  


Today one of my dearest friends became my Priest.  I was watching the news  and I had the worst thought cross my mind.   I didn’t contemplate hurting anyone or anything similar.  It is tough to openly admit that I had such a terrible thought.  I saw coverage of a fatal car crash, and I checked to see if it was someone I knew.  I thought to myself, “If it was them, I wouldn’t shed a tear.”  Seconds later I was mortified.  How could I have let that cross my mind?  I immediately dropped what I was doing, and I messaged my friend to “confess”.  I can’t begin to describe how deeply it bothered me.  I know everyone occasionally has ill thoughts toward another but this was very atypical of me.  My biggest fear is that I will become bitter and not better.  I have devoted the last few years of my life to helping others. When Brandon was murdered I was heartbroken but I handled my grief differently.  I desperately wanted to improve the lives of others, my mission was to help and not hurt.  

I messaged her for two reasons, I wanted to be held accountable for my thoughts and to try to understand them.  I don’t want to become “that person”.  You know the person who is so angry at the cards they have been dealt or the people they have encountered, that they forget how to be happy.  She tried her best to reassure me that I wasn’t that person, but for a split second I saw a glimpse of myself that I did not like.  In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Sirius Black yells, “You know the man you truly are, Remus! This heart is where you truly live!” when Professor Lupin is turning into a werewolf.  Lately, I feel like I need a Sirius Black to remind me where my heart belongs.  There is an old Cherokee proverb that I try to live by and you can read it on the left.  Everyone is capable of both good and bad.  We should remember to feed the good by thinking before we speak, surrounding yourself with kind people, and never let hate or ill thoughts consume you.    

I am not perfect.  I am only human.  I will never be flawless.  I am however, accountable for my own words, thoughts, and actions.  I know I haven’t made some of the best choices when handling personal matters the last few weeks.  My personal relationships seem to spill over to one another, and occasionally the wrong party receives the backlash that was meant for someone else.  I just need to remind myself to stay on course.  How do you hold yourself accountable for your own actions?  What do you do to feed your “good” wolf?  

Happy Thoughtful Thursday
XOXO
~Jess  

If Love Could Have Saved You…

asouthernmother
May 25, 2013
I stole this from my sister 

Brandon and I were 13 months apart, there wasn’t a moment in a my life that I don’t remember having
him around.  The pain of losing him was nearly unbearable.  I often sit and watch the clock on May 25th, thinking about what our lives were like that day before he died.  We never saw it coming, and I’m sure he didn’t either.

Brittney, Lauren, Renae, and I were sitting at Tapas in downtown Lexington the very last time I heard his voice.  He called and I answered, but only briefly.  I was enjoying dinner and drinks with my girlfriends before heading into a night of work at UK.  I wish I would have talked longer.  I will be forever grateful for the last few seconds of conversation and a final I love you.

Our lives have changed dramatically since he left us.  We have three new babies in the family.  My sister is engaged, and I am getting divorced.  His daughters have grown up so much, and he would be so proud of the little women they are becoming.  The last few weeks I have needed you more than ever and I guess you are listening to my prayers.

There will never be words to describe how much you are missed.  Your laughter and antics, you always knew how to make anyone laugh.  I hope you know how much are loved and cherished.  I know that you would like nothing more than to teach your two nephews to fish, hunt, and play football.  It is a somber day for our family.  I take solace in knowing that heaven is a little goofier place because you are there.

Today instead of remembering the day you were stolen from us, I will remember the days that we shared.  Our first trip to Disney World, breaking my leg racing you on a bicycle, and the time you nearly knocked me out playing “balance beam” on the edge of our parents water bed.  The absolutely ridiculous stuff like trying to light your farts are some of the most amusing moments of my life.  

I love you Brandon Michael Peace.  
You might have left this earth but you will never be forgotten.
December 15 1981- May 25, 2009  

Happy Sorrowful Saturday,
XOXO
~Jess

Salt on a birds tail…

asouthernmother
February 7, 2013

When I was younger my Paw (maternal grandfather, for those know don’t know me) would tease me about random things.  I guess he never realized that telling a very curious and independent six year old tall tales might interrupt their evening and summer.

I grew up in rural southeastern Kentucky.  I ran barefoot in the field, played in the “creek”, and I caught “craw dads” with my brother.  I played with cousins and I was always the “boss”.  I was the oldest of 7 grandchildren and 4 siblings.  My curly blonde hair made it easy for me to convince my great grandmother and grandparents to be at my beckon call.  I was rotten, and they made me that way.  Apparently, I once called my grandparents without my parents knowledge (or permission) and had them drive 2+ hours to pick me up in Virginia.  I wish I could remember the look on my parents and grandparents face when they pulled in the driveway to pick me up.  I loved my childhood and growing up in a small town.

My grandparents live on the side of a mountain that overlooks the main road.  We spent most of our summer afternoons outside under the shade trees watching the cars pass.  My mom had taken my great grandmother shopping, and I stayed behind with my Maw and Paw.  It was a hot and humid, July 3rd.  Paw use to tease us.  He would tell me that if you put salt on a birds tail, they couldn’t fly away.  I must have been obsessed with trying to catch a bird (or any other animal). I couldn’t convince Paw to get me the salt or maybe I didn’t ask, I can’t recall.  I’m not sure what exactly goes through the mind of a 6 year old.  I do know, I went into the house alone to get salt.  It wasn’t a good idea.  

Maw kept the salt and pepper shakers in the upper cabinet next to the stove.  I must have been too lazy to pull a chair over (or I wanted the opportunity to climb), so I opened a lower cabinet door and managed to stand on the countertop.  Okay, so we all know this story isn’t going to end well.  I don’t recall exactly what happened to make me fall.  They assumed I tried to catch myself, which isn’t a good combo when falling from 3+ feet onto a hardwood floor with skinny little arms.  I do remember looking at my mangled arm and thinking “boy am I gonna be in trouble”.  

I know everyone is thinking, that had to hurt.  I’m not sure that I should be thankful but luckily (or unluckily) the severity of my fracture had cut off circulation to my arm.  I couldn’t feel anything.  I guess that might be why, I thought I was having a bad dream.  I was scared to death.  I ran through the house, crawled into my grandparents bed, and covered up to hide.  Luckily, Maw had heard a thump inside the house and came to look for me.  She found me, crying and terrified in her bed.

Paw heard a scream from inside the house and came running.  Maw was hysterical and my arm was a mess.  They wrapped me in a blanket and we were about to start a very long series of emergency room stops on our way to the University of Kentucky hospital.  I was scared and hurting, but I was also about to experience my first random act of kindness by a stranger.  It was a monumental experience in my life and you will have to stay tuned for the rest of the story…