Monday, April 20, 2009

Mother's Day Tribute

Have you hugged a mom today?

No matter who you are or where you are on your life journey, we all have a unique experience with our mothers. As Mother's Day approaches, no one is able to escape the Hallmarkable date of the first Sunday in May. You may not be a mom yourself but you are a son or daughter of a woman who gave birth to you and raised you the best she knew. Memories of our own moms can stir up a range of emotions, both the good and the bad.

Reflecting on Mother's Day, I realize that it has been two years and two months since my own mother has passed away. My mother and I had a tumultuous relationship throughout the 35 years of our lives together. There were years layered and sandwiched when we were the best of friends, and then other years when we were estranged, on non-speaking terms. Even with the challenging seasons of our relationship, I miss her terribly.

Those of you who have experienced a loss of your mother may understand my grieving process. Although we all grieve differently, you may be on a different grief track than I am on. My grief actually started before her death. I had to realize that she could not be the kind of mom that I had wanted or needed from her. She was limited in her own health and her own needs and nothing I could do could change that. As I matured into my 30s, I realized that I needed to let go of that ideal image of what a mother was in my own heart and mind and I needed to just love her as she was. Our relationship improved. It wasn't the kind of relationship I would have wished for, nor the type she wished for, but it was a mother daughter relationship that had grown to be strong and healthy, finally.

We talked on the phone often. She was a best friend to me in those last days. She would not only listen to all the details of my day, my job, my children, my garden, but she would actually want to know about all the details of my life. No other person has or probably will ever take that role in my life. This void in my heart reminds me of how much I miss her, all the goodness she brought to me.

I was especially reminded of her the other day. I was in Plymouth delivering fliers for some upcoming Tri Kappa events and I ran into some familiar friendly faces of some ladies having lunch at Sisters' Tea and Eatery. As I was walking by them with a smile and a friendly hello, they pulled a chair out for me and graciously invited me to sit with them for lunch. I sat down and listened to them talk about places they traveled to, their favorite places to eat, and shop. It was a short and savory lunch with some stylish and sassy ladies and as I drove home that day, I was tearfully reminded of my mom in that light and lively lunch conversation.

Since moving here to Culver shortly after my mom passed away, I never had the chance to tell her all about this new phase in my life. She hadn't heard about Phil's new job, Savana's new school, Sophia's new playgroup. Yet, there are so many moments in my day to day interactions that still make me feel close to my mom, like that impromptu lunch. I have another friend who last fall called me out of the blue to invite me to go antique shopping with her on a sunny afternoon in her convertible. That shopping day spurred on a new friendship and also rekindled happy memories of my own mom. I have been so blessed by so many new friends, all different ages, fitting different roles that my mom once fulfilled, either by being grandmotherly to my daughters, motherly to me, or just friendly and fun.

I bet these ladies don't even realize how valuable the time was that they shared with me. Likewise, I bet you may not realize what an impact you can have on others by reaching out, spending time, listening others around you. Spending time with others is an investment in not only your relationship with that special person, but also in our community, in our future.

Mother's Days come and go. Make this Mother's Day more momentous than just buying a card this year. Reach out to someone who has been motherly to you, or a younger person who may have lost his or her mom. Invest in that special place in someone's heart where the childhood needs and memories still live. Reach out and be a mom or hug a mom today.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Born Again Again

It has been 14 years since I have become a born-again Christian. I attended a conference where Adolph Coors III, the owner of Coors Brewing Company was a key note speaker. Mr. Coors shared his Christian testimony with the crowd of college students and I found myself in a pool of my tears. I was ready to submit my life to Christ. I was ready to give up my own will, my own life and all it's loneliness and frustrations over to God. I wasn't sure how to do that. But, I was ready. All I wanted to do was cry; ball my eyes out, call out to God in prayer.

Prior to that evening, I was the party girl in a party sorority. I was carefree and a daily risk taker, binge drinker, pill popper and pot smoker. The only reason I agreed to attend the Christian conference was because I thought there would be nice boys there and a friend of mine was having a keg party following the first night of the conference. I attended the key note presentation because, after all, he was the owner of a beer company, maybe he might have some tasting samples to share! Little did I know that God was wooing me all along.

The morning after I cried out to God to take me and my brokenness, I was changed. I spoke with my mother who became a born again Christian several years prior to this time and she claimed that my voice sounded different over the phone. Returning to the sorority house, I was no longer the one planning the ladies party night on a Monday evening, I was busy searching God, studying the Bible. I had a hunger for the Lord that I was filling with boys, toys, booze and drugs. Now, without the distractions of those empty fillings, I was able to concentrate and fill my empty heart with God's word.

About a month or so passed from that evening of submitting my soul to my creator and although I had no desire to hold on to the crutches of my past lifestyle, I still was struggling with accepting the truth of the tangible man of Jesus Christ. I was not able to accept the historical account of this person, or the story of the cross and how the resurrection impacted me personally.

Finding myself at a Christian camp in upper peninsula Michigan, I was asking another new Christian if she actually believed in Jesus and the story of the cross. She responded with a curt "Why of course, don't you?"

When I replied with a quivering struggle from my heart through my voice spoken with full throttle honesty, "No, I want to believe in Jesus, but I just don't understand it."

She was quick to tell me that I was not a Christian.

Devastated, I ran away, through the woods on this cool morning in this Christian camp grounds. I was running away from the confusion, the pain. I was suicidal on this day. I felt a sense of rejection that was so deep that I thought I couldn't go on. All I could see was me as a big fat failure, both in my own life and then as being a new Christian. I felt hopeless. I found a large stone along the shoreline of a lake, away from the 'good Christian believers.' While sitting on that stone, I cried my broken heart out to God. I asked for guidance.

As I searched His voice, I was distracted by baby birds tweeting nearby in a tree. The chirps of these birds were musical and then, I heard the splish splashing near my feet. As I looked around, I was enamored by the truth God was speaking to me as these baby birds tried to fly and kept dipping in the lake shore. They were so happy and excited and yet they must have been frustrated as they were learning to fly.

With every attempt to fly, they would fail and fall into the water. As they would skip, flap and flutter around, I felt like a Disney princess in their midst as they were encircling me. Entranced in that moment, a large wing-spanned bird, royally flew in from the north. With a sense of prestige, as if I needed to salute as the Air Force One was soaring in for a landing right in my own back yard, this large slender bird arrived, poised on top of a large stone in the center of the lake.

God spoke to me that moment at Cedar Campus. He was telling me that I was just a baby bird, learning to fly, learning to live as a new lil birdie. And someday, I would be a graceful bird gliding in from the north able to perch proudly in the center of the waters. Someday, but not today. Today, it was ok that I didn't understand the eternal truth of God and His rescue plan for me. God had taken my desires of alcohol and drugs and given me a desire to know Him more. If He was able to do that, He was able to raise a man from the dead.

This moment of truth flashed within my soul and has taken root for the past 14 years. However, I have admittedly been so distracted in my journey ever since then. I am thankful that God is faithful and patient with me even when I though I have been greatly distracted with the day to day details that stem from my parenthood, marriage, career path, friendships, church and the health of my family members and me.

This past month, I got involved in a Bible study at my church. It is a Beth Moore study called, Stepping Up: The Psalms of Ascent. These past couple of weeks I have been experiencing a renewal within my soul. I am excited to report and write about some new ways that God has been speaking with me through this study. More to come on this!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

One of the reasons our economic climate has been weakened is...

I was answering a question about advertising and I wanted to share it here too to see what your thoughts on the subject of the advertising industry may be...

The question was posted from AdWeek and it was based on a poll:
How will the economic downturn most affect advertising?

Well, it struck a cord in me. I needed to rant about it for a quick moment. I can elaborate if anyone might be interested... I welcome your insight on the issue... I know this is way off my typical topic that I write about but, just wanted to share this side of my mind too!

Here is my response about how the economic downturn will most affect advertising.

Many advertising dinosaurs professionals were commenting about the downturn of advertising money spent was due to the lack of ROI or the need to target better... blah blah blah...

These comments reminded me of the same chatter that has been going on in conference rooms with marketing and advertising departments for way too long. There is a reason that Sun Times has filed bankruptcy and there is a reason that my husband and I just completed a Nielsen Media survey and showed zero hours of TV watching this past week. Maybe it is because we get our news, our coupons and watch TV programs ONLINE. DUH!

* * *
Online advertising is a wiser investment. Period.

It is the key to a more defined target while providing instant tracking and immediate call to action from its customer. The true innovative corporations and firms can separate themselves from the dust of dying businesses, bail-outs and lay-offs, through their use of savvy advertising. Through the use of smart new mediums, or social media, thriving companies share their message. Advertising is in the midst of an enormous paradigm shift as technology changes the means in which people communicate, commute, work, think and purchase. One of the reasons our economic climate has been weakened is because the older generations of paper-pushers and gasoline wasters just don't "get it." It takes a major downturn in profits before the fat cats will start to take notice and respect new and improved ideas. Forward thinking businesses can only succeed when they allow innovation to drive their products, services and brand.