Saturday, February 8, 2014

Personal Narrative aka "ABOUT ME"

My first assignment for English Comp II was to write a personal narrative introducing "all about" me to the other students.  I think, for a college paper, it is pretty descriptive and I have decided to share it with you!

          My name is Colleen and my nickname is CAS.  I’ll answer to either of those or anything else as long as it is polite.  I consider myself a blessed woman.  I have a large and amazing family, I attend a great school and I work at both a full-time and part-time job.  I enjoy writing (poetry, commentaries, and short stories) as well as being an active member of my church.  I have friends, responsibilities, and expectations.  There is no easy (or short) way to tell you about me, and I am long-winded anyway, so sit back, relax and enjoy.    

I have an incredibly large family.  I am a wife; married seven and a half years to a wonderful man whom I call “Bear”.  I have three beautiful children from my first marriage; my 17 year old (my baby) is currently a junior in high school, my 19 year old daughter is a sophomore in college, and my eldest daughter is 24 years old, happily married and mother to my amazing little two-year-old granddaughter, lovingly referred to as “Monkee”.  My marriage also brought me three more great children: a 31 year old step-son, a 28-year old stepdaughter (who is married and mother to my equally adorable four-year-old granddaughter and two-year-old grandson) and a 16-year old stepdaughter who is a sophomore in high school.  In addition to my immediate family, my extended family includes four sisters, three brothers, two sets of parents (as my parents divorced and each remarried), siblings-in-law and almost 30 nieces and nephews.  This does not even go in to cousins, aunts and uncles. I have a lot of those as well.  I love my family and consider them an essential part of who I am.

I married my first husband in 1988, just before high school graduation.  Being that young, married, and my first child born a year and a half later, there was really only the opportunity for one of us to go to college.  I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom anyway, so I took a part-time job and encouraged my husband to go to college.  Ten years and three children later, my (then) husband decided he was not quite ready to be a husband and father (his words, not mine) so we divorced.  I started working full-time two days after he asked for the divorce and I have been working ever since.

As of today, I have been employed with my current employer (local city government) for almost 13 years.  Moving my way up through the company, working in different clerical/administrative positions for several different departments.  I began working as the Restitution Clerk in the Probation Office, a division of Municipal Court, in March 2001.  In April 2006 I applied for a promotion, interviewed and was hired as Secretary to the Supervisor of Park and Recreation, Park Maintenance and Forestry division.  I again applied for, interviewed and was promoted to Account Clerk III in Environmental Health in 2010.  The first two positions were located at City Hall but this third position was located off-site.  I liked the job but did not like the location, when the same position became available in another department back at City Hall, I applied for a transfer, interviewed and was granted the lateral move in April 2012.  I have been with the Fire Department ever since.  All of the jobs entailed the same basic clerical work I was familiar with, but each job also required more extensive and complex duties.  I love to learn, therefore this became the best part of the job for me.

In 2004 I met the wonderful man who taught me to love again.  We married in August 2006 with all our children and a lot of family present.  A few months after we married, I also became the part-time secretary for his company (which he co-owns).  I basically work only on Saturdays; processing the weekly deposit, pulling tickets, paying bills and issuing payroll.  I also do the filing, file taxes, and insure the accountants have all the necessary documents to maintain our financial records as well as take care of the more detailed taxes.  It is a small business and it has been a struggle to stay ‘afloat’ over the last several years, but we work hard and we are getting busier every day.

As I am sure you have already noted, I am a non-traditional student.  My husband is 15 years older than I am which obviously means he will be retiring quite some time before I do.  Because I did not go to college, I have basically “hit the ceiling” with my current employer.  I do not plan on retiring for at least 20 – 25 years, so my husband encouraged me to look into going to college.  I started taking classes during the summer of 2012 and have been taking a few classes each semester ever since.  By obtaining my degree I will be qualified to apply and interview for jobs that would be more in-line with my areas of interest.  The positions I am interested in (Administrative Aide, Administrative Assistant, etc) would also be considered promotions.  My ideal ‘dream’ job is as an executive secretary, best represented by Della Street, Perry Mason’s indispensable assistant.  I am only a sophomore so it will be quite some time before I have the degree, but I have a goal and I will achieve it in due time.

Until recently, I had not been able to determine what degree I wanted to pursue.  Recently, however, I looked at several factors to help me decide.  These include my ‘dream’ job (and the requirements for it), what I believe I am good at (scheduling, organizing, proofreading, editing, etc), and what I like to do (reading and writing) and I have decided I will be changing to a Speech major.  My two favorite passions (outside of my family) are reading and writing.  I don’t have a lot of time for either, but when I do, I choose mysteries for reading and for writing, whatever I am in the mood for.  I have been writing for as long as I can remember; poetry, commentaries, short stories, and even personal letters.  I have a blog where I post my writings and it is popular with my friends and family.  If that is as far as it goes, I am satisfied because I write for the pure pleasure of it.

Most of my writings somehow involve my faith.  I am an active member of my church.  Of all the things I am: wife, mother, Nana, sister, daughter, employee, student, friend, and writer, I am nothing without my faith.  Prior to getting married, before I applied for and/or accepted each job and before I started school - I sought direction through prayer.  My family prayed with me and for me, as did my friends and my fellow church members.  Anything I accomplish in life is not through my own efforts but through the overwhelming presence of Christ in me.  I decided a long time ago, that my attitude is my choice.  My circumstances are comprised of hills and valleys; my God is the same whether I am up or down.  My friends, family, co-workers and even strangers recognize me as the “fabulous lady”.  If you ask me how I am, I will always respond “fabulous!"  My faith, my family, my friends, my career, my education, and my attitude are all choices I have made and those things are all combined together to make up me, CAS.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Delight in the Lord


After being a Christian for most of my life, I’m still amazed at how God continues to surprise me.

I have received so much evidence of his existence: answered prayers, comfort for grieving, healing for sickness, miracles that have no other explanation, forgiveness for my sins, a husband who loves and supports me even when I don’t deserve it, my children, my grandchildren, the sunrise every morning and the sunset every evening.  Evidence is all around me, I know him and I trust him, yet I can still be shocked by God.  I have been busy with work, family and finals.  I studied hard and up to this point have a 4.0 GPA in college, receiving  an “A” in all classes (I completed my fifth, sixth & seventh classes this week).  However, this semester in my Intermediate Algebra class, the grade prior to the final was a “C”.   I was disappointed that I would probably lose my 4.0 which I have worked so hard for.  Not the end of the world, but disappointing none-the-less.  I never thought I would do well enough on the final to bring my low “C” to an “A”, so I didn’t even pray for it.  (Me!  The constant advocate of “You do not have because you do not ask…”)  I simply and earnestly prayed (OK, maybe ‘begged’ is more accurate); “God, please help me pass my final and my class!”  After several days of intense study, God, in his infinite wisdom, knew my heart and my heart’s desire and granted it to me.  Even after I thought it was impossible, God reminded me that through Christ, all things are possible!  The grades were posted last night and my low “C” went to a low “A” at 90.55%...but it’s an “A” and I keep my 4.0 GPA!  This is an answered prayer I never prayed, but God knew!



This whole thing may sound silly and unimportant, but oftentimes God chooses the minor things to remind us of his presence in a major way.  He reminded me last night and I am so thankful that he does might things like saving lives and healing the sick, but I’m also so blessed because he cares about a busy wife, mom, nana, two-job holding, Christ-following woman who strives to do her best.  Thank you Jesus for taking notice of the desires of my heart.  It is yours and always will be.

PLEASE, if you do not yet know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, comment on this post, email me, call me but contact me.  I would love to tell you more!

Still stressed, but infinitely more blessed – praying the same for you.
CAS

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Real Love

Love comes from our Creator who sent his Son to show us what real love is. Without Jesus it is impossible to really know love. I’ve been focusing on John 13:34

“A new command I give you. Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

Have you ever thought about the magnitude of this command? We are told to love like JESUS; the One who gave up Heaven to live as a man and die as a sinner for us (me, you, all of us). That is a daunting task to even the most saintly person. But Jesus would not have told us to do it if it were impossible, would He? So, I intend to take the challenge and "love like Jesus"! On this Valentine’s Day, it doesn't matter if you are in a struggling relationship, happily single, blissfully in love, or somewhere in between, know that you are loved so much that the One True God took on flesh and died for you. That is Love! Because of Who He is, He is alive again and we who believe in Him will see Him. Don’t believe me? You don’t have to. Read it for yourself. It’s the greatest (and truest) love story ever told. The Holy Bible.

More blessed, less stressed.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Family

Once upon a time, families consisted of a mom, a dad, and 2 or 3 kids (on average) along with a pet or two. A “step” parent only entered the picture if the birth parent was deceased or, on rare occasions, there was a divorce. The family of the 21st Century is vastly different than that of previous generations. The “once upon a time” families still exist, but they are generally in the minority. Today, ‘family’ has different definitions depending on whom you speak with. Family is a couple without children, a single person with one or more children, grandparents raising their children’s children, family may be an unmarried couple raising their children, a ‘blended’ family joining siblings from other families (giving these children siblings, step-siblings and/or half-siblings). In today’s world family can even consist of a same-sex-couple raising children by benefit of adoption, surrogate or agreement. Today’s post is not about how a family should or should not be defined. (If you really want my opinion, read the Bible.) It is about something so much more important.

Our fast-paced world has transferred its focus. In years gone by, people went to work during the week to provide for the home and family. Evenings the family sat around the table, held hands to say grace and enjoyed a meal together, discussing their day. Saturdays were spent at home or in the neighborhood, hanging out, running errands or visiting. Sundays were spent at church and gathering with family. A rare night out for dinner or a movie was looked forward to as a special occasion. Mom and dad always knew where the kids were, who they were hanging out with and when they would be home (without the necessity of individual phones for each family member). In today’s drive-thru world many families don’t sit down to share a meal even once a week! Family members spend so much of their time and effort pursuing their own interests; dance/singing/swim class, sports, hobbies, video games, (you get the picture) families rarely see each other at all. People are earning more than ever, but it is no longer enough to “provide for the family”, it is to buy more computers, smart phones, video game systems, flat screen TV’s, bigger this and better than (usually on credit). Today’s children are basically raising themselves and our society indicates it is socially acceptable, even expected. Parents are letting technology ‘babysit’ and everyone is doing their own thing. There is something wrong with this picture!! I believe there is a significant element missing in today’s family.

F - FATHER
A - ABBA
M - MAJESTY
I - I AM
L - LORD
Y - YAHWEH

We have replaced our Creator with our own creations. Computers, tablets, smart phones, digital games, music players, TV’s, etc. These things aren’t evil, they are just things. Sports, video games, hobbies, lessons, etc. These are not evil pursuits. However, we have turned these ‘things’ and ‘pursuits’ into idols and Satan is using them to separate us. One of my favorite quotes is by the late Adrian Rogers: “If the devil can’t make you bad he’ll make you busy”. That is today’s culture in a nutshell. I have a radical idea. Let’s take our families back! We can keep our technology and we can pursue our interests, but in moderation. Let’s go back to working to provide for our families and spending time with each other – instead of spending time working to buy more things to replace our families and our God. What do you think?

As always, I’m more blessed than stressed and praying the same for you,

Friday, January 11, 2013

Blessed, but Still Stressed

Many times I am asked how I can be both blessed and stressed, and why do I say “still stressed” instead of emphasizing the ‘blessed’ part. As a Christian, should I even admit to being stressed? Well, I am stressed.

I have a full-time job and a part-time job. I am a college student. I am a wife, mom, Nana, sister, friend, and a plethora of other things too. These different definitions of who I am have expectations of me. Laundry, cooking, supervising children, maintaining home schedules, commuting to and from work, doctor appointments, transporting children to activities, occasionally babysitting my grandchildren, working, paying bills, attending church, studying, taking tests, researching, filing, paperwork, and on and on.

There are also things I want to do:  I enjoy reading, playing brain-games (Scrabble, Boggle, trivia, Sudoku  etc), I dream of getting a good night’s sleep, I am trying to get healthier/lose weight, I love watching crime dramas and other shows, I like attending plays or going to the movies, I would like to spend time with my friends, visit family, organize my home, go for walks, and learn new things.

Each of these requires time and effort on my part.  Over the years I have read various blogs, articles, books and magazines on time management and organization.  Guess what?  Like most people, reading a small snippet about it is all the time I can spare.  I do the best I can but often fall short of the goals I have set for myself. 

That isn't what causes me stress.  Trying to decide what should take priority at what time and how urgently they should be done. That’s where the stress comes in. In a given day I will have worked for 8+ hours, studied for school, made dinner, checked on the kids’ homework, read a devotional, prayed, hopefully worked out, made phone calls, balanced a checkbook, paid a few bills, reviewed upcoming plans for the kids, checked on my grand-kids, and a multitude of other things on an ever expanding list.  I get a lot of stuff done, but I often don’t feel like I've accomplished much because I have to do much of it again the next day. 


BUT…

I am amazingly blessed.  First and foremost, I am a child of God.  I am a Christ Follower.  I woke up this morning so I could go to work.  I have jobs that enable me to earn money to help pay bills.  I have a reliable vehicle (which I love!) to get me to and from my jobs.  I am able to attend college and increase my knowledge.  I have a house to shelter me, filled with love it is also my home.  I have indoor plumbing and climate control.  I have a comfortable bed to sleep in and a husband to hold me tight.  I have children who need me and want me around (most of the time).  I have grandchildren to spoil.  I have clothes to wear & I have money in the bank.  I have my parents, siblings and other extended family whom I love.  I have friends.  I have a church home and a wonderful Sunday School class to attend.  I have a gift for writing poetry and a blog that some people actually read!  I have my eyesight (with the assistance of contacts) to see flowers blooming and my grandchildren playing.  I have my hearing so I am able to listen to my children laughing and get lost in the sound of music.  I can smell the rain and freshly baked bread.  I am able to taste fresh coffee and enjoy a homemade meal.  I can feel my husband’s arms wrapped around me in a loving embrace.

When I say I am amazingly blessed, it is an understatement.  I do not take my life for granted.  I do not take being a redeemed, forgiven sinner lightly.  I am in awe of what our God can do in the life of a woman who has fallen more times than she can count.  I do not pick myself back up, but by reaching up to the loving arms of my Savior I am pulled up every time.

SO…

How can I be both blessed and stressed?  Easy.  I am a fallen, sinful human (stressed) saved by grace and love (blessed).  Why is my title “Blessed but Still Stressed” instead of “Stressed but Still Blessed”?  Because my blessings always come first.  That is what I want to focus on, my blessings are what strengthen me to get through the stresses.

Today, may God bless you, encourage you and lift you back up no matter how many times you've fallen.  If you’re stressed, remember, in many ways you are also blessed.



Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Teachable Moment – A One Act Play

Scene: laundry room
Mercy Me’s “I Can Only Imagine” plays in the background
A mom is humming to the song while she is ironing
Teenage son walks in, dejected look upon his face

Mom: Hi son, what’s up?
Son: Not much mom. sigh Are my dress shirt and good jeans clean? Jane says I need to take her someplace nice tonight since I forgot her birthday last week.
Mom: Your jeans are about to go in the washer and I’m ironing your shirt now. holds up a mostly ironed and partially wrinkled shirt They’ll both be ready in time for your date. But really, what’s up? You look a bit upset.
Son: rambling I keep trying and I keep failing. I don’t mean to do it, I just do. I mean, I try to do better and not do it, but then it happens. I just wonder if it’s worth it mom. I just don’t know.
Mom: Don’t mean to do what? Is what worth it? You aren’t making any sense.
Son: frustrated sigh Trying to be ‘good’, do the ‘right thing’. It seems the harder I try the more I mess up. I didn’t mean to forget my homework, I got busy with work and stuff. I know I broke curfew last night, it was stupid. I borrowed my friend’s favorite jacket the other day and it got torn. I wasn’t paying attention and I broke dad’s favorite mug. I just keep messing up.
Mom: hanging up the ironed shirt We all make mistakes, big ones and little ones. That doesn’t mean we should stop trying to do the right thing. Paul says in Romans 7: “ I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” It is our sinful/human nature to do the things we shouldn’t, but we have forgiveness from God. If we repent and are truly sorry for what we have done wrong, God will forgive us.
Son: But I’m just going to mess up again, so why bother? I really am sorry when I mess up and I apologize, pray, ask forgiveness, but it’s just a huge circle I keep repeating. Am I making a difference? Do I change anything? No, I just keeping doing it. It doesn’t seem to do any good or make any sense. I just don’t know if I should even try. I’m just wasting my time and God’s too.
Mom: Nothing done for God is a waste of time. None of us are perfect, not even your dear old mom. Besides, does that mean if you’re just going to get hungry again, I shouldn’t feed you?
Son: Mom! That’s not the same thing. My body requires food and drink and air to survive. I know no one is perfect, but sometimes I feel like the least perfect. I don’t murder or anything but I still don’t do what I should do. I just think I should give up trying if I know I’m going to fail.
Mom: I hadn’t thought about it that way before. Hmmm, maybe that is for the best.
son looks up at mom, eyes wide
Mom: In that case, here.
mom balls up the freshly ironed shirt and tosses it to her son, reaches into the dirty laundry to pick up the jeans and tosses them to him as well
Son: What are you doing? I can’t wear the shirt like this and the jeans aren’t clean yet!
Mom: Well, you’re just going to wear the shirt and get it wrinkled again aren’t you? You’re just going to wear the jeans and get them dirty again aren’t you? Why should I wash them or iron them? Wouldn’t that be a waste of time?
Son: That’s different!
Mom: Really? How? When you wear your clothes, you try to keep them clean and you try to keep them unwrinkled, but wrinkled and dirty may still happen. Remember 1 John 1:9; “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” The Bible also tells us to continuously forgive others, sometimes we forget that we need to forgive ourselves too. We should turn from evil and seek to do good. Yes, we are going to mess up and yes we are going to sin. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to do what is right and what the Lord requires of us “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God”.
Son: sheepishly Got it mom. Thanks for the Sunday School sermon. I guess I’m not too old to re-learn a lesson. You’re right, I forgot: “As far as the east is from the west” right?
mom and son hug
Son: Ummm, you think you could iron this again and go ahead and wash these? 
Mom: laughing Sure, you got it!

There are ‘teachable moments’ in everyday activities. We can bless ourselves as we seek to encourage others. I pray this day sees you with more blesses than stresses.

In His love,