I always cook with spices.  You just have to have spice for it to be exciting and delicious!  Isn’t it the same everything in life?  What type of “spices” do we need in life to be happy and satisfied?  A huge one I have stumbled on living in Japan is variety.  You have heard things like, “Variety is the spice of life!”  As humans, we are built to crave change and to strive forward for better.  We mistakenly take that striving at times for wanting more materials, possessions, new relationships (leading to affairs or break-ups), or unhappiness.  People forget the spiritual aspect of their being.  That striving, that inner crying or aching, may be for a closer connection to God, to your spirit, and life itself.   Words of advice that really has stuck with me in the past can be summed up to, “Everything in life will change–except God.”  That is why God is called our Rock; the One stable, reliable source in our life.   I think our culture, our society, gives us the false impression that things should stay the same in some aspects and buying new things will make you feel great.  How many products are on the shelf to keep us looking young?  To keep our same hair color? To lose more weight and be that size you use to be?  To keep the same loving feeling?  Get a new car and feel good? New movies, new clothes, new houses, new diets.  On and on it goes.   Many people are changing their appearances, their home decor, their outsides, but they are remaining the same in the ways that matter most.  We live in an advertising, money-focused, capitalist society where money/possessions are suppose to equate to happiness and without our realizing it, we get sucked in unless we realize it is happening.

The advertising industry realizes we need variety in our life.  There is truth there.  But where we find it can be lasting or temporary.  I am looking for the lasting kind more than anything, and I feel I have found it.  We need change, we need variety in the areas of our lives that matter most which would be your work, improvements to finance and home life, improvements to your relationships, or spiritual life.  And giving.  Our culture is so all about taking and getting.  The true essence of Christmas has been stripped by the marketing world and leaked into our hearts.  Many have been dubbed into believing it is better to get than to give.  And these are good-willed people I am talking about.  I am guilty, too.

It will take a lot of will, time, and practice to make inner changes, especially if you have been set in your ways a long time.  But it is vital to being happy and to giving happiness to others.  You cannot give away what you do not have.  If you have children, it is vital for them.  Just like getting back into exercising or a new diet, it is hard, but it feels great when you do it.  It is like doing homework, it is no fun, it sucks at first, but the feeling and payoff is priceless.  I paid a lot for my education, but even if it doesn’t give me a great paying position, I am thankful for it and what I gained in learning is so invaluable.  The time you choose to spend working on your inner self or your relationship with God is the same.  Invaluable.  We all have 10 minutes a day.  10 Mindful Minutes is a great book, by the way.

The bible says, “If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?  God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.  This is real love-not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” (1 John 4:9-21)

“Dear friends, I warn you as temporary residents and foreigners to keep away fr om worldly desires that wage war against your souls.  Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors.  Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.” (1 Peter 2:11)

“If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days,

keep your tongue from speaking bad, and your lips from telling lies. (Think good thoughts, focus on scriptures, speak good of others)

Turn away from evil/bad and do good (give, love, be grateful).  Search for peace, and work to maintain it.

The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers.

But the Lord turns his face against those who do bad (something that brings sorrow, distress, misfortune, sinful).”

Advertisements

I loved you from the start, but like anything beautiful, the love just grows and grows.  The love I feel for your brother, your dad-all beautifully different kinds of love, yet all the same.  Words cannot capture it, just as a photograph cannot capture the moment’s beauty of a sunrise.  I hope to capture most of it, keep it alive as much as I can, so we can both look back and feel that love again-relive it through writing.  Our memories are not the most reliable in life, but our journals are.  You are so, so beautiful.  I tell you all the time.  Babies cannot understand all words yet, but I sense that you can pick up a mood within a mile.  You melt into my arms when I think loving, calm thoughts and tighten when you sense my stress even when I appear calm.  Your hair is getting thicker and a beautiful, rich brown and your eyes a piercing, lovely blue like the sky.  They startle everyone you meet!  You have eyes and an attitude filled with fun, intelligence, light, and love.  They even blow your mom and dad away and steal our hearts.  Your smile is as big as your dads, one you cannot help smiling back to.  You have a soft laugh, and blow bubbles lately, even with your food.  It made me laugh just when I needed it today.  I love you baby girl.

I just applied for my first online writing job! My first online job period. I am excited and exhausted. I wanted to share with you the answer to this application question I had. The questions were thought-provoking which I love. What was your most stressful situation? And how did you handle the stress?

I live one hour south of central Tokyo, Japan. My family and I are living on a naval base for a tour and have been here a little over 18 months. The earthquake and tsunami that hit in March of this year was by far the most stressful situation I can remember being in next to my husband having surgery to remove a blood clot in his brain a few years ago. It is difficult to put into words how stressful this all was. I will never forget feeling the quake standing in a store on base as everything shook. We felt it at about a 7.3 here, nothing compared to the 9.0 felt about 5 hours north of us. Immediately, I knew a huge earthquake had struck somewhere further from us. No damage where we were, so we went on with our day at first. Then, entering the library to study everyone was watching the live news coverage of the tsunami beginning to wash into shore over homes and people. I froze. That is the immediate reaction, then waiting. Waiting for the Japanese, for the U.S. military, for my husband to tell me exactly what the next move should be. What can you do? I cried for all the lives lost.; for this beautiful country I had come to love. Then, when the military informed us of small amounts of radiation from the nuclear plant and of a possible meltdown, many families decided to evacuate. Since I was pregnant, it was not a hard choice. However, it was extremely stressful to leave on very short notice not knowing when I’d come back, how I would explain to my two year old, and when we’d see my husband who had to stay back to work and support the relief efforts. How did I handle this stress? The truth is, I put one foot in front of the other. I kept moving, kept praying, and God was the shining light for me. The stress or maybe the virus I picked up on the plane put me on bed rest those last two months of pregnancy, but I knew from my spiritual and psychology studying that worrying was only going to make my conditions worse, so I stayed thankful. Trusting God and my loving family kept my spirits up and brought my husband safe at my side when our daughter was born. Fortunately, our area of Japan is safe and we are back home in Japan living life like before except with a greater appreciation for our military mission and for life itself.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/LivingWithSpirit/299191410106124

Happy Veterans Day!

I’ll never forget our recruiter shaking my hand & surprised me by giving me the same respect he gave my just wed husband before boot camp because I was standing by him not knowing what I was in for, what the big deal was. I was only 21 years old, my husband 20 years old. (I turn 28 tomorrow..cannot believe it!) We were high school sweethearts living together not knowing what we were doing, but knew we wanted more from life and to do something big, something bigger than ourselves.

Six years later, now I know we found that something. Now I know that military spouses are the backbone. Now I know, what a hard job not only my husband has but I have. Deployments, long working hours, unexpected delays, expected moves, expected hurry ups to wait…wait on orders, wait on passports, wait on paperwork, wait on your sailor, wait on that new doctor to come in town, wait for that translator, that deployment, that flight to my wounded sailor…wait. Learning what friends are truly not just friends but family who stick by you no matter where in this world you are. I learned going back “home” on visits is hard, learned I see everything with new eyes, realizing how much I’ve changed, and realizing my real home is now where my sailor is. But I also found out that it is not just a job, it is a mission. It is that something bigger than ourselves. It is serving our country, our host country, serving our military family. Some back home may think I have it easy staying at home, but truth be told it can be just as hard at home as working. I am not complaining, I love my job, my mission to stand by my sailor and raise our children. I love knowing we are a team in this.

My husband found it amusingly suprising that I’d like to trade jobs with him for a week, and that his job sounds like a nice vacation some days!  I laughed and said, “See! You really do think my job [staying at home] is easy!”  He assured me that, “No, even just a few hours with the kids is enough for me!” He is a great dad and a big kid himself, but it gets frustrating and the thought of being alone more than a few minutes with them both at the same time scares the hell out of him! (lol)  Coming from an all male household, I am amused to see how it will be for him having a daughter, mainly I guess because I know she is going to open his eyes up wide to us world of women! I’ll be honest, that is exciting for a wife!  Anyways, on the good days we joke a lot.  On the bad days, stay out of our way, we better just put a sign on ourselves that states “Come near at your own risk!”  Only the Lord can calm our storms.  And we’ve had storms.

Last night, after being at work until 2pm on a Sunday, came home, helped out some with us sickies, and then started on writing an essay summarizing our crazy 2008 year.  To summarize-(pregnant, friend almost overdosed, deployment, brain blood clot, brain surgery, premature birth, pelvic surgery for mama!)…so last night he pulled out a descriptive (aka: emotional) essay he wrote about his brain injury/surgery episode, and needless to say we both cried, me like a baby.  I didn’t expect it.  Because I had read it before, I had LIVED it, and dangit I even helped write it/edit it!  But reading it 3 years later, wow.  He had so much love in it.  How God taught Him, us, so much through this-that everything insignificant we complain about is just that, insignificant, and how going through this gave him a new perspective on life-to live everyday like it is your last.  You just never know what will happen.  It’s funny because I’ve been saying that a lot lately when we start our stressing about little things or miscommunicating like we do.  And he’d say, “What are you talking about?”  It’s funny also, how quickly we forget what God’s shown us already in the past.  His essay was a huge reminder.  A reminder I needed too.  Reminded me how much love we have for each other.  Reminded me of how good God is.

If you have time, 15 minutes if you read fast, please take time to read this descriptive essay my husband wrote about his traumatic experience during his 2nd deployment to Germany where he was injured.

Germany Life Lessons

As a mom of two little ones, I find myself drinking cold coffee mid-day most days! Does anyone else have this problem?  If so, you must be a mom!  By then, I don’t really want it but I drink it anyways because I am craving the extra energy I think I can suck out of it! lol Really, though, I’ve been thinking about this and it’s those moments I stop trying to speed rush through my million item to-do list and sit down with my kids, entering into their fantasy world, that makes my heart smile.  Those moments can give you such a serge of energy you don’t need the caffeine.  But who am I kidding? I am gonna drink it tomorrow anyways! 😉  Ben just turned 3 last month, and his imagination has exploded.  Everywhere we go there are volcanoes to stomp on (not my idea), animals to rescue (like Diego), and bunnies hiding in the moon.  With Rebecca, my 5 month old, I could not get enough of the moments-at least once a day-just holding her, rocking her, and watching her sleep like an angel on cloud 9 or staring in her big blue eyes watching all the amusement just bounce around in there!  For me at least, it was not until having kids that I began to realize it really is the little things and if we keep trying to live life on fast forward waiting for the big events of the year-birthday, Christmas, Easter, summer vacation-we will miss out on the happiest times, the funniest times, the hilarious things our kids say and do, or the precious, quiet moments we can relish in.  And really it is in these funny moments, ironic times when I think it’s nothing important, that gives us the motivation and inspiration to not settle for less than we deserve, our family deserves…or even the world deserves–the very best of us.  The very best parts of us cannot shine without our willing to find motivation and the positive blessings around us.  Which just might be your baby’s first bite of cereal or you toddler playing a goofy game.  You’ll never know unless you get in there and have fun with it.  Our expectation’s-of a vacation, a spouse’s reaction, a kid’s preformance- are what kill or heighten the moments.

“Awe proceeds faith.”

I am in awe of what God has done for me this year.  I woke up at 3am to feed Rebecca.  Only three hours of sleep will bring on the tears if you start to think of anything remotely emotional by the way.  After an hour of feeding and rocking her to sleep, I laid in bed wide awake.  I am very good at getting myself back to sleep if I want to, years of mediation which is really just focused breathing at best, but sometimes I don’t want to stop my mind from trailing off.  Its good to think over my day, things said and not said, how I could have done things different or to think about what went well…to dwell on things I am grateful to God for and areas I can improve.  So that brought me to yesterday’s bible study meeting, and what stuck out to me most was Kayla’s (leader) first question, “What season of your life are you in?”  My immediate thought was mostly winter, but I couldn’t answer on the spot.

It’s funny, we are all good at saying and thinking we are okay even when we are not.  I can be so strong, appear so strong, but this does not mean things are okay, does it? I realized this tonight. My mind rushed through the events of this year reliving all the same feelings I felt like it was happening all over again.  Evacuation, crowded Tokyo airport, hours of waiting, crying toddler, crying me, unstoppable contractions, one scary plane ride, bedrest, semi-tornado destroying yards in Minnesota….how can this not bring on a wealth of tears?  My husband had the honor of waking to this storm!  It was comforting to unleash my thoughts onto him, but knew writing was the best medicine for me.  I realized then, that I am not yet okay from all this, and who would expect one to be?  Yes, I am okay, physically and I thought why think about any of it again?  I am okay, I need to do what I need to do.  We all need to go back to normalsy, our normal daily lives.

But some of us, I forgot to take care of the emotional side, which always lives on, but an open-wound is no bueno.  We must take time to look within, and heal our wounds, talk about, write about it, think about those yucky feelings we have, those bad memories, scary thoughts, negative emotions we are feeling about something or someone and find a way to bring it to peace.  Let me rephrase that.  GOD can and will bring it to peace for you.  All I had to do was put my sadness in His hands, look into His face, and see in His eyes it will all be okay.  How do you do this?  That brings me to the second part of the study that hit me but took me time to think about.

Rebecca was crying so I had to step out, but I came back in to catch the end of the bible study video.  The leader was telling a horrific story of a dear friend who died in an accident, a stack of scriptures she had hand-written out were thrown about the scene. Can you imagine the emergency workers cleaning them up?  They asked her if she wanted anything of her friends, “I want some of those scriptures.” With such passion and emotion she exclaimed about starting the study, “That’s how I want to go out.  Do you hear what I am saying?  That is how I want to go out.  Throwing some scripture.  Lets make a mess.”  The leader had been told her bible studies go all over the place, all over the bible, and it was a mess how she did that!  Lets make a mess.  Thinking of this brought me to tears again, because this is what I did.  When times are hard, which is often, this is what I do.

I threw scripture around from sunup to sundown.  I threw them around in my mind and in my daily relationships, when I went through the 3 month evacuation bedridden time.  This year in my life has been hell at times, a roller-coaster ride, and I have struggled-there have been winters-but God’s word like an unwavering rock-has given me strength and without a doubt in my mind, will bring blessings and turn ashes into beauty.  He turned my winters into springs.  I waited on his blessings.  All of my trusting and believing had God working because on Memorial Day, 4 days after my husband arrived in our hometown, a healthy, beautiful baby girl was born.   So I sit here in awe, in complete awe, of God’s power and love.  He was with me every step of the way this year, and for that, I’d do it all again.  There are moments, like in the middle of the night when I replay the difficult times and I think, “Why?”  But when you think of blessings like my daughter that were born out of it, when you think of your blessings in the midst of all the darkness or bad situations, and you think of the strength, the wisdom you gained from it…or to simply dwell on the fact that you are still here.  You made it THROUGH the fire, through that darkness and into light.  Even if times are still hard, you are still going THROUGH it, you are not stuck, and praise God for that.  It will be enough.

Are you stuck in a rut? At work or at home? Do you feel like everyday is the same old routine? Being a stay at home mom of babies I have felt this way and even before I had kids I had times I felt this way. I have discovered some great ways to change things up and found ways to make the same routine fun if you cannot change your current one. If you cannot change jobs for whatever reason or change certain things in your life or relationships, you can always change your perspective/attitude or little things you do that can actually make a huge, huge difference in it being a good, great, or crappy day. I use to think it is all about my circumstances (“When my kid gets older” or “when I get a new job”).

1.  Try doing an Act of Random Kindness (ARK) each day or each hour….Do this from a full heart, not in an effort to get a thank you or feel appreciated, do it just because.  I realized how to tell the difference.  If I do something nice for someone (stranger or family) and I feel upset when I don’t get thanked, then I know I didn’t do it from a full heart-I then didn’t do it just to do it for them.  When you do it from a full heart, purely for that other person, it just fills you with good feelings that last all day.  When you do it to be thanked, that good feeling is pretty short lived.  It is funny how doing the right thing, what Jesus and preachers preach all about, when you do things in a selfless way-it is then that you are the happiest.  God’s way truly is the only way that works if you are looking to be happy, or looking to change anything in your life.  Be selfless and let God fill you with all your heart desires.  When we try to fill ourselves, we only end up emptying all the goods and filling up with junk….negative feelings.

2.  Increase the Oxygen!…I recently started working out again, just an hour a day or night.  I either do a yoga video or go the family gym and get on the eliptical or walk at the track.  It is amazing how much better I feel after just a few days of it!  Mentally and physically.  I already feel more positive about life and have more energy to get through the hectic days.  It’s nice to have me time again too away from everyone.  While I workout, I like to listen to positive music or think of positive things.  I will count my blessings, think of future goals I want to accomplish or try and come up with solutions to things I need or ways to make life a little easier for me or someone else.

3.  Write in a Journal or read an inspirational book or story online.  During a break at work is a great time to look up an inspiring story or a funny comic to make yourself feel lifted up or laugh a little.  TED.com is an awesome website that is all about inspirational, unique leaders giving speeches.  One of my favorites was a speech the creator of Google gave!  So inspiring his leadership and ability to make this world a better place, one act of random kindness to employees and businesses at a time.

4.  Find things to laugh at!! This one sounds crazy but it works!  I have at very rough times gone long periods without laughing, sad but true.  It is one of the best cures and the most important things we should never forget to do!  We should all laugh everyday, why do kids have so much energy??  I say it is because they laugh! They laugh at everything! Everything can be looked at in a funny way if we try and see it that way.  We got to stay realistic, but hopeful especially in times of trial.  Jesus came he said so that we can enjoy life.  Enjoy it!!

5.  This one is the hardest, but it is so worth the effort.  Try not to worry, reason, or let your mind wander.  About what?  About anything!  Let go and let God is my saying.  In James 1:5 it says “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you..but when you ask Him, make sure your faith is in God alone.  Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea.”  This passage got me through a lot this year, when times got rough or I wanted to start worrying or analyzing things, I told myself- “I trust in God and God alone.”  Because what you are doing when you worry or analyze is you are trying to find a solution on your own.  God already has the solution, the answer.  Ask him, with unwavering loyalty, and trust.   Even with small stuff at work, big stuff at home, small stuff at home, whatever is stealing your joy….trust.   As the book the Secret says, Ask-Believe-Receive.   The answer or solution may not happen how you want it, but it will happen, letting go of your own expectations helps.  Us women, we got control issues, we got to train ourselves to trust more.  To have faith.  To let God do our worrying, so we can enjoy life and our family and our coworkers-even if they are a pain sometimes 🙂  Remember, God’s in the changing business, we are in the serving business.  Only God can change people and most circumstances.  Joyce Meyer said that.

I seriously cannot believe it has been exactly one month today since we left Minneapolis!  Wow, time does fly by.  I am sitting here, kids asleep, Eric doing his nightly workout at the gym, listening to country music and it makes me smile because so many of these country songs are about how time flys by and counting your blessings from God (of course they throw in the heartaches of life too, but I love it).   Eric’s 27th birthday is coming up this Tuesday (funny thing is he thought he was turning 28! ha! We even feel older time is flying so fast).  I started writing a journal to Rebecca just as I have done for Ben, just little stories and things I want them to know, and realized she is exactly just over 2 months old now.  She has literally spent half her life in the States and half her life in Japan.  🙂  Getting to know her has been slow coming for me, but each time like tonight when I totally immerse myself into connecting with this little life it is so precious.  Just like with Ben, it really takes time to get to know each other and figure each other out-all her cries, all her noises.   She is such a beautiful gift from God, the prettiest deep blue eyes I’ve ever stared into.  I cannot wait to see her little personality come alive the next few months as she starts to smile and laugh.  I’ve tickled a few smiles out this past week and I am eager for more!  The past 4 weeks I’ve just kept crazy busy with all the fun chores a mom of 2 and a husband (fair to say 3?) has!  I never imagined it could add so much to the laundry and dishes, just this little person!  How huge families do it is beyond me and my hats off to all of you.  Still trying to get a routine down pat, but I am guessing I’ll be doing that the next 20 years or so 🙂 as our travels, trials, and times change along the way.  I wrote to her tonight that loving someone gives your life purpose and pleasure.  God made love as the soul point and purpose of this life.  God is love and love is God the bible says and tells us why love is so sought after, fought over, died for, and lived for.  I use to only think in terms of romantic love, but true love is so much more, and can be found anywhere and everywhere God’s fingerprints are-in our hearts and in our actions.  Volunteering, taking care of the Earth, lending a helping hand to someone in need, being kind to our own spouse or anyone for that matter.  Loving a baby when they are screaming bloody murder is difficult, but if we can look past it to their hearts, to their hurt and have compassion that is love and it just fills my heart overflowing with love and joy.   IN the same sense, if we could have compassion, despite other people’s anger, offenses,or imperfections, we can learn to love them too and fill our own hearts with joy even when someone is not acting how we would like.

“God created you for adventure, for the exhilaration of a life that requires you to take bold steps of faith and see Him come through for you.  So many people are unsatisfied with their lives simply because they won’t step out into the new things they desire to do…don’t let fear keep you from the vibrant life God has for you or destroy your destiny.” -J.Meyer Power Thoughts

I opened up to this part of the book and it is so what I need to hear right now in this time.  We are about to return to Japan in just over a week, and it has us thinking of our options in the next few years as we decide about staying in or getting out of the military life.  We both want more to get out and settle down in our homestate, but if he stays in only 2 more years we could save more money and transfer his GI bill to the kids which adds up to a whole lot of college money.  He’s talking about maybe staying over in Japan another year which would mean 3 more years from right now instead of 2, which I am not sure I am up for-only time will tell how we are liking it then.  To him, the money bonus is worth it but if we are not happy I say it is not worth it.  I am trying to stay open minded though. 

This quote is perfect right now because with this decision I also am weighing where we both want to end up being in life, in careers, and what we desire to be doing in a few years or ten years even.  I always say now, God has a great plan for us, we just got to do our part, our best, and God will do the rest.  It is freeing to have this faith now and not have to analyze and worry as I use to about the future so much.  While I don’t worry, I do have to make decisions and do the work to get there.  And most important, I am making sure that fear is not our reason behind our decisions-doing something soley for money seems more fear based-afraid of not getting by.  Or maybe greed too.  So when big decisions come, I am going to make sure what we decide is in line with what we deeply desire and want out of life and out of each other, otherwise even a million dollars isn’t worth the sacrifice of following our heart.  I am thankful my husband is open minded like me and we talk about everything until we are on the same page, only way it works.

I also want to be bold from here on out in trying new things, not letting my fears stop me and just going for it if there is something I want to try or do.  Having a daughter now (I love saying that), pushes me even moreso to be the woman God made me to be and push myself to reach new heights, to see how far I can go and be the best role model I can for her.  I think being the best for her means not letting fear stop me, showing complete trust and faith in God, and believing I can do anything I set my mind to, and if I don’t, at least I tried.

Our daughter, Rebecca Leanne, arrived on Memorial Day!  Perfect and beautiful, weighing 8lbs 4oz and 20 inches long!  I am so thankful to God who’s Word got me through 9 weeks of bedrest until my husband, Eric, arrived from Japan just 6 days before her birth!  Without the Word, I really don’t think I would have had the willpower and strength to get through it with a positive attitude, especially in the moments where I felt I couldn’t stand another minute staying in one spot or felt really homesick for my husband or my home!  God got me and Rebecca through together because Lord knows she wanted to come much earlier than she did!!  She is a Godsend literally and we thank Him everyday for her. 

So far, she sleeps like a rock and cries like a mouse even when she’s hungry unless I let her go like 40 minutes sucking on her hand!  I couldn’t have imagined a better baby girl and I love her so much it amazes me.  Everything about the miracle of life is amazing!  Her little toes, her dark hair and eyebrows, her alert, blue eyes and gasy smiles 🙂  It all brings joy to my heart.  Watching Ben talk to her in a little, low voice saying “Hi baby sister” makes us melt!  He’s a great big brother and a big helper already.

I did NOT have a pain-free labor and delivery! lol  With Ben, he was premature at 35 weeks and stayed in the NICU one week, I was very unprepared mentally but made it 9cm until I got an epideral to help me breathe and for pain!  I have heard many women say the contractions are worse pain than the pushing, even the nurse this time told me this!  And that the moment you see your baby all pain fades away!  Boy, were they wrong!  🙂 For me that was not the case, the pain didn’t subside until an hour or so afterwards and I didn’t tear or anything (yoga pays off!).  Pushing was the worst for me, maybe because I had dealt with contractions 2 months prior, but it was the most pain I could never imagine.  The nurse was a Godsend helpiing me through and it was nice just having the doctor, the nurse (the same nurse the whole time), and my husband there to share the moment and pain with!  They were all so supportive and helped me bring her into the world.  Studying God’s word, meditating on it and not allowing myself to think anything “But I can do this” got me through.  I don’t know or think any woman can get through labor without drugs and think “I can’t”, not possible.  Got to have an I can attitude for sure!

When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change.

– Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

My mom caught me last night laying down, studying a spiritual book and taking notes.  She said, “Homework never ends, huh?”  I laughed and replied how true that is for me, I will never stop studying whether I have a class or not!  I swear I am addicted to learning, and now addicted to learning how to align my thoughts with God’s way of thinking because it brings me more pleasure and joy in my life than anything else I’ve studied!  I have a passion for psychology, the degree I just earned a few weeks ago, and get a thrill from learning that too.  But not even psychology my love was able to bring the peace and the change I needed in myself, my marriage, and my life overall.  It just amazes me what 1 year of studying  God’s word has done for me compared to 5 years of studying psychology did.  I am forever grateful for both, but psychology only adds to and helps in understanding all God’s created us to be-and where I was left with questions and puzzled about the human mind or condition-God has answered it every time! 

I love this quote I have above, because learning anything and changing our perceptions changes how we look at things for sure.  Even living in different places has me looking at my home state like I’ve seen it for the first time!  How big the roads, the yards, the homes are compared to Japan.  How green, how lush, how actually beautiful it is in Minnesota and to think before I couldn’t leave faster.  How friendly and good-hearted people actually are for the majority, and how sad the news places such fear in their hearts unable to trust even their neighbors when we have some of the best neighbors in the world.   We fight for education, we pay high prices for education, we are so smart in this country, yet we succumb to our many insecurities and fears instead of embracing the many opportunities this country is blessed with in comparison to other countries who would and do kill to get here.   Where I use to despise so much about our culture and country, I have come to embrace and feel so grateful for and after traveling now see everything I look at through new eyes.  It’s as if before leaving Minnesota, I was only looking from my point of view-from my little spot in the world, and now having lived ½ way around the world I can see the other perspective, bring it to my old perspective and create a much bigger picture—a brighter picture.  And the more I change my perspective in line with God’s Christian ways, the more I also get this amazing bigger picture whereas before I was only looking at myself, others, and this world through narrow eyes. 

God’s made my eyes bigger that is for sure, and I am excited for what is to come because with God, unlike school, you never fail as long as you keep applying what you learn from Him, and he keeps giving you rewards along the way-the greatest reward being new eyes.   I don’t believe that I’ve only just changed how I look at the world, situations, myself, and others.  I believe those things are actually different than how I use to think they were.   There’s a poster I have with a beautiful view off the top of a mountain, it says SUCCESS-“it is not the position you stand, but the direction in which you look.”   While the person next to me could be crying and disappointed standing in the same place in life, I can be smiling and see hope.   Same picture, different view, totally different outcome.  Because “when we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change.”

Life's Full of Beauty

The other night the tornado sirens went off.  Suprised me by bringing back the emotions and memories of leaving Japan..a little fear, little sadness for all the lives lost and homes destroyed, not just in Japan but here in my own country from floods and tornadoes.  And a deep tugging in my core for my own home and husband.  How easily and quickly we can lose it all.  How much each trauma we’ve been through pushes me to start living life to the fullest-to not waste one breath.  I cried for maybe the 4th time since leaving 7 weeks ago (When Eric was in boot camp 5 years ago I cried every night!, so progress haha).  Then, I reminded myself of this I’ve come over the years to conclude:

Life consists of problem after problem, but we can choose to look at that, or look at blessing after blessing we’ve received and the good God promises and delivers on when we obey God’s ways to living-acting and reacting. 

Even if a person doesn’t believe in God, there is a right way and wrong way to act and react.  Otherwise, explain how some are more resilient, more successful than others?  More happy than others even if they went through the exact same events in life?  Personality? Luck?  It seems a sad way to reason, and I use to reason it was luck or presonality-I was skeptical if there was a specific path God laid out for us to follow to be a person who’s totally content with life and for success especially I thought it was just a combo of luck and talent-but believing that way still left me unhappy and confused, didn’t fit when everything else in life is so amazing-the way nature works together is almost perfection if not for human interference.  The Buddhists believe in karma, that if you don’t reach enlightenment in this life you’ll come back and in a lower life form if you really screwed up as pay back.  I believed this for awhile, but many questions remained with that too.  What about forgiveness?  What about a soul I deeply feel I have within?  And something (God?) tugged in my soul telling me the unseen voice in my heart was the answer, so I kept following it, and it lead me to trusting in God with all I got and learning His way to act, to react, to live.
The more bad that happens in my life, the more positive focused I become! Crazy? I use to get so down with each problem, but not now, now I get more positive, more energy, more determination with each problem.  Why? Because I look deeper into myself each time, I look harder at God each time and pull out a purpose from each problem. That’s the amazing way God works.

“Right thinking is the first step toward a better life.  Wishing won’t work.  Being jealous of someone does no good.  Self-pity is a waste of time and energy.  Discovering God’s will through an accurate knowledge of His Word and beginning to think as He thinks is teh beginning of a new life for anyone who desires one.” ~J.Meyer Power Thoughts

Benjamin Thomas~Sept.21st, 2008~6.9ounces, 19in.~

Love at first..knowing he existed inside me!  I remember taking 4 pregnancy tests (2 inside Kmart’s bathroom stall) before spilling the exciting news to Eric over a dinner we couldn’t even eat we were so overwhelmed.  I’ll never forget Eric’s smile and he couldn’t stop shaking, so we left to soak it all in alone-next time I have big news, I’ll know privacy is better! 

 The past 2 years have been nothing less than magical watching him grow and in turn he has made us grow up in every way possible.  Being a mother has pushed me to every limit, and yes he is only two!  But Eric and I have been together for almost a DECADE (cannot believe it) and talked about kids early on.  I remember when Ben was in the NICU and we were driving to the hospital one morning being so excited for all we were going to teach him in the years to come, all the love to give, and just how surreal it all felt to be a MOM for the first time, how our lives were forever changed for the better, like the universe had shifted.   Ben was so tiny, weighing only 5 pounds the days after birth, little IV in his arm or foot and broke my heart one day we walked in and it was in his head-easiest wiggle free spot I guess.  Holding him in our arms so gently afraid to do anything wrong.  One thing people don’t tell you beforehand, you end up learning just as much if not more than this little baby does. 

Motherhood, marriage.  Both more work than I imagined playing house as a kid!  But it is worth every bit of hard work, the satisfaction and joy of being a mom.  All the smiles, kisses, and hugs.  Everything he learns, his laugh, seeing little bits of me and Eric come out in his personality is all rewarding beyond any degree or success I could achieve on my own. 

The ultimate reward of being a mom doesn’t come from what we receive, but what we give.  The greatest gift is in giving is such a true statement.   Before being a mom, I did question what life’s purpose was all about, but now I know it is simple-just giving unconditional love-if I achieved nothing else in life, this is the purpose. 

As babies, that’s all a mom can do is find the joy in giving which can be an amazing amount of joy if we take the moments to realize the great gift of life we are giving to a baby who needs us.  Besides all that cuteness, babies take-take-take from mom!  I will soon re-discover this!  But I’ve heard for the most part kids are this way too, although I think the give-take should become more balanced as they age.  I am planning for us to involve our kids with church, regular volunteering, and giving to family and each other-helping out always and show them the joy in this-that it is not just a chore or “have to” thing so you can go have fun later.  I want them to see and feel it feels good to give to others.

With Ben now, I love the days I know I did my best, I kept my patience, I got down and played with him, laughed with him or taught him something new.  The days where I felt I made progress on my own personal self knowing that will reflect on him and help me become a better mom.  I never thought I’d want to be a “full-time” mom, but now if I did ever need to be or decide it’s what I want, it would be nothing but an honor and a joy to do that because being  a mom and wife is number one in my life now.

The most important determinant of our day is what we do and think of the first hour we are awake, do you spend time to prepare your mind for the day?  I wanted to share what I heard this morning from Joyce Meyer, I love it:

Life is not hard, we make it hard by trying to do it all alone and not with God.

It’s not driving in traffic that stresses you out, it’s your attitude towards it that stresses you out

It’s not raising kids that stresses you out, it’s worrying about raising your kids that stresses you out.

It’s not being married that stresses you out, it’s trying to perfect the person your with that stresses you out.

If you’re going around dragging yourself around, God can give you rest.

“If you stay on the attack you won’t be on the attack”

So today, I am meeting for the first time my doula!! That is a labor coach who is trained in labor techniques, massage, breathing.  My doula has helped deliver over 1400 babies and has 13 years experience!  I am very excited and thankful to have her.  I am thankful I will have family, my mom, and friends too.  It is such a blessing.  With my first, Ben, I did it with my husband at my side and he was 6 weeks earlier than expected so it was scary but I did it.  I am so thankful this time I am prepared.  I am 35 weeks this week, I meet the doctor today and each week until her arrival.  My husband arrives in 3 short weeks!!  Not fast enough, cannot wait, I miss my best friend-talking his ear off and giving him a kisses each day-I even miss our arguments!

I feel prepared for the day, no matter what comes my way!!  Have a great day!  CHOOSE to have a great day despite all the craziness of this world!  Think on those positive thoughts, begin the day with them, and keep them in mind all day long. 

Peace, Love, & Happiness~Dr. T (just got my bachelor’s, but hey one day 🙂

Finding love or the “perfect” relationship doesn’t mean finding someone who completes you or has everything you can mark off on your checklist or someone you share a ton in common with, it means finding someone who you can accept, love, and share life with despite their weaknesses or differences. It means being with another flawed human being like yourself that you are so in love with and share the same values with that you are willing to forgive, follow, encourage, die for and live forever for.   Our culture places such a misconception of love and relationships in our minds, especially us women, that it literally becomes a roadblock to finding happiness with another person.  How many relationships end because of this?  How many lose out on happiness or love because of this misconception, on lack of forgiveness or acceptance of differences or mistakes?  Or because one holds to high of expectations on what love or another person should be like? 

The dawned on me after talking to my husband via phone from Japan.  I got all emotional/upset as I sometimes do out of the blue with him-use to get upset all the time out of insecurity.  He was talking about his new exercise routine and protein shakes.  I slowly shook off my moodiness by telling myself he does care, he was distracted by a friend talking to him, which was the truth.  Oh, how many fights I started in the past over my insecurities and moodiness.  I use to follow my emotions, let them take the lead and felt passionately my feelings were always right, so then I just had to tell him how I was feeling.  SO little I knew.  God has taught me to stop following my emotions and start following Him-follow my intellect He gave to me and given me new confidence in Who I am, telling me I don’t need my husband or any other person man or woman to give me security, love, reassurance, ect.  I now get it from God and myself.

Anyways, then I thought other insecure thoughts we all have, Do we have little in common like I’ve always wondered? Does he not understand me?  I realized, no.  It’s a misconception and belief I’ve held all these years.  Society, our culture, consists of woman who place this unrealistic expectation on men, relationships, and romance.  That we’ve got to be with someone who “completes us”, “understands us”, men should understand us, know what to do and say, when to call, and how to please us.  They should build us up and make us feel loved all the time with romantic gestures.  We place way too much pressure on a man, a marriage, a relationship to be the cure all.

It’s totally unfair and makes us both miserable, and all those around us who we turn to for advice.  Advice we don’t take or cannot take if we try because of the misconception we hold to which acts as a big, fat roadblock to a happy, satisfying relationship with our partner or ourselves.

In this lighbulb moment, which has built up over years of figuring us out, I realized that Eric and I do share so much in common.  We are opposities in right ways and share in common the most important qualities-our spiritual beliefs, how we want to raise our children, and our mutual respect for each other’s differences.  And the many ways we are different or the different things we like are okay, enrich my life.  Men and women will always be full of differences as God intended.  We have to stop trying to change that.  We do understand each other better than 2 people can.  We’ve had a decade to do so!  And years of self therapy and healing.  We’ve been through everything possible together. 

We’ve shown our best and worst selves to each other.

We’ve prayed, we’ve cried, we’ve laughed until it hurts. 

 We’ve yelled, thrown things, and broken hearts.

 We’ve abandoned each other, yet never left each other.

 We’ve picked each other up and encouraged one another. 

 We’ve betrayed and hurt, but we’ve forgiven and healed.

We’ve been at our weakest together, yet also at our strongest. 

We’ve hated with anger, but we’ve loved with passion. 

We’ve hid secrets, but been an open book.

I realized in this moment off the phone that the main goal of marriage is someone not someone that completes you in the sense of emotionally and physically upholding you, but someone you can rely on and divide your life treasures with.  Someone that completes you not because it “feels” right, but because you choose to be complete with.  Someone you choose to accept and love-good and bad, and therefore forgive time and time again.  Someone you choose and who also chooses to get it right with you.  Someone who becomes family forever, someone that is not like you that you can learn new things from and see another perspective from, someone that shares your deepest convictions about life and family, someone you can serve and love-the purpose of our being.  Someone that shows you your strongest self, encourages your strengths, and has strengths where you have weaknesses.  Someone who’s weaknesses you have strengths in. 

This to me, is what love is all about.  Learning.  Living means loving and laughing.  Neither, true love or living, is possible without God who is love and life and ultimate Teacher who has the answers to both.

I got a sweet email and pictures from a good friend I taught English for in Japan.  It made my day and thought I’d share some of Japan’s beauty.

Our apartment

I cannot believe it was one month ago already.  I am sure time has stood still for those who lost everything.  My ♥ is so sad for the Japanese people, please donate when u can, I was happy to see Burlington Coat Factory was asking each customer if they’d like to donate-I did and am thinkin of going back to give more.  Some may think, well, it is not my problem or what can a few dollars do as I use to, but every bit from everyone will add up to a lot.  Also, a cousin pointed out we rely heavily on Japan for much business/technology-we are partners-remember this.  Japan is the third superpower behind us and China.  When you want to complain about your life, think of these people with no home, family lost, cities lost, having nothing but what is given to them, struggling to overcome just one more day.   

I know on my roughest days I am trying to remember this.  I left almost a month ago, March 18th from Tokyo airport.  I still can remember the fear and panic like it was yesterday.  My heart has a calm now that I am here trusting in God.  But everytime I make a turn, I want to go on the left side of the road…watch out! 🙂 I miss driving on the left side in roads the size of alleys, I miss speaking Engrish and bad Japanese …I miss small town Atsugi base with all the friendly faces, I miss my tiny apartment where I could see the mountains in the mornin, most of all I miss huggin my sweetie when he comes home from work. I realize more now-I ♥ my life.

Back in Japan, back home, life goes on.  Things are going good on our base where my husband is working and taking care of moving us into a 3 bedroom apartment.  Friday families find out the date the military will return everyone who evacuated voluntarily.  This is hard for my husband, but enjoying some bachelor life, though it is like a ghost town on base with 1/2 or more of the families and spouses gone, and many active duty helping in the North.  For all over there, the most nerve racking is the aftershocks and 2 more earthquakes this past week at 7. somethings.  He said he’s probably felt more earthquakes then anyone in the U.S. estimated at around 700 since March 11th that could be felt.  I’d say I counted at least 30 in the week I was in Japan.  I am so thankful for their hard work and sacrifices.

This is the best video coverage and summary of March 11th’s earthquake/tsunami from 20/20 I believe it is:

“Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful people are always asking, ‘What’s in it for me?’” – Brian Tracy

Deciding to evacuate was a difficult decision that had me torn and frantic as soon as my husband mentioned the word.  But, I decided to put my faith in God and in my husband to protect us and keep us safe.  Evacuating to stay with family in the states was the safest option.  I know all of my military friends in Japan with children did the same.  When you have kids, it makes deciding easier in a way.  You look at the world in a whole new way, and it is no longer about what you want to do or your safety, it is about the kids first-what is safest for them.  With radiation, earthquakes, tsunami’s and living next to Mt. Fuji-it really came down to one choice, leave until things settle down.  Being 6 months pregnant, I knew I had to go even though my heart and home is with my husband and with Japan and it tore me to leave.  Having less than 8 hours notice that I was going to the airport, saying good-bye to my husband knowing he might miss the birth of our baby girl, was not easy.  Being strong for my little boy got us through.  The first few nights putting my two year old son asleep next to me as he said “daddy” in his little voice as tears rolled down his little cheek was the hardest part.  Many miitary moms go through this time and time again and were going through it at the very same moment. 

I write this today, because I just read an article another military friend posted from military.com that stated some people feel others evacuated just so they can have a vacation.  This is maddening to myself and many other military spouses/members, because for us majority this is not the case and offensive during such a sensitive trying time.  When your supermarket looks like the photo down below, then you can tell me it is just a vacation.  We are ambassadors of Japan, we have Japanese friends, some that have become like family.  We love Japan and we love our family.  This should not need to be justified, and the military has a duty to protect their military families-spouses and children.  This is why they paid for evacuations and I am very thankful for supportive family, friends, and even strangers I’ve met along my journey from Japan to LA to Minneapolis here that all support us and understand this.

I am proud of my husband, I am proud of my friends, my fellow military families for protecting their families.  Thank you for all the military members and families, who are working so hard, not for a paycheck or status, but because it feels good to help others and serve a purpose.

“Sorrow looks back, worry looks around, faith looks up.” ~Church

Navy Ball 2010

I so should be doing my homework.  I wanted to take a minute to just soak in all that I am so thankful for right now.  The past 2 weeks have been so hard and stressful for us.  It took all my strength to keep patience with Ben and keep faith that God is on my side and guiding me the whole way, but I did it thanks to God who is my strength.  First, the tsunami and earthquake sent us a scare, then all the afershocks daily making me wonder is something else to come our way.  Then, an emergency voluntary evacuation by the military and my husband who did awesome at getting us out of Japan quickly. 

I got to say I am so thankful and feel so blessed to have a husband who provides and protects us no matter what the cost and never complains not once about it.  He has such a loving, strong heart.  I admire him for that.  I complain enough for us both!  And he always reassured me when I called crying or worried about any of this.  During hard times like this, it is then that I know without a doubt that he is my soulmate and God did know what he was doing when he put us together.  I know there is a reason for all the trials God hands us in life, and this is one.  He strengthens us for the mission he has in store for us later.  Everything in life can be looked at as a stepping stone if we use it as one. 

I also gotta say I am so thankful for my family and friends here in Minnesota and in California where I stopped first from Japan.  Everyone is so generous and helpful.  We couldn’t have done it without them.  A few cousins have provided Ben with more toys than he could wish for!  He has clothes to last the year from grandma and others!  Everyone asks me what I need and my aunt was there for us when Ben was sick and I needed to see the doctor.  One of my best friend’s from high school, Lucy, stopped by and bought me some maternity clothes when I had asked her just to look through her old ones-sweetheart.  Old high school friends from facebook have even offered help and to them I am grateful too.  Every kind word helps when you are going through a rough time.  

My dad was the first one I saw getting through customs in the LA airport, and I am so grateful we had him so we could rest from our 24 hour travel from Japan and the crazy Tokyo airport.  Thankful to my aunt Deb, Jill, and cousin Sadie’s family for visiting me in LA-it meant the world.  And my mom, I cannot say enough, she opens her home to us and spoils us with home cooked meals and everything we need.  When I stepped off the plane and walked through the terminal doors, she was waiting with arms wide open.  It was the biggest sigh of relief when we hugged after that nerve-racking flight to Minnesota.  I had contractions on the plane I was so nervous at first I almost didn’t come.  I have never been so grateful for a plane ride, for family, and to God answering me.  Nothing matters in comparison to family and my babies being safe.  I realize more now that when I have a relationship with God, that I can handle anything.

“Be brave enough to flow with what you feel in your heart God wants you to do.” J. Meyer
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” — Anais Nin

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain.

“Failure is…. a highway to success, as each discovery of what is false leads us to seek earnestly after what is true.” John Keats

Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

“I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.” – Psalms 116:1-2

I definitely prayed these past two weeks more than I ever have, or since my husband was in the hospital, but I think more so.  I have come to love Japan, as many of us have, and I will miss Japan very much as I spend time in the states.  I am saddened by what has happened, but more sad about negativity I hear or see.  I relate to it, but what Japan needs is hope, help, and prayers.

This has been hard and stressful for us. At first, the devestating earthquake we felt at a 6pt. and I knew that meant worse somewhere else for people.  Then, seeing the tsunami hit via television was heartbreaking enough I couldn’t concentrate on anything else.  Of coarse we all worried would another earthquake come like it?   We all prepared emergency kits and stocked up.  We all called and checked on our Japan students and friends to make sure they were okay, or were on the phone with our family and friends in the states reassuring them we are okay.  Next, came after shock after aftershock, day after day, enough to keep us on our toes.   And once word of radiation got out, everyone was either on their toes or running for the door.  We just had a minute trace of it one day, but so far no more detected in our area.  

Of coarse I have broken down crying and shook in fear, but prayer and positive thinking keeps me going strong. I will not let my mind wander to the past or the present for too long unless it is to dwell on the positives. 

“Courage is fear that has said its’ prayers..boldness or confidence comes from acting in the presence of fear.”

In our society, we hear of and see so much negativity, drama, chaos, problems either on the news, shows, or in conversations.  American news is known for focusing on catastrophe and amplifying it.  Japan’s disaster and other disasters get so much air time.  They are important, but seeing too much and hearing too much negativity just breeds fear and sadness.  I can now say I have seen mass panic, I have heard fear in those I love who lived far from the disaster and in myself and I thank God I had my husband there to remind me we are more than okay when we trust God and stay positive.  God talks a lot about fear and peace in the bible, a lot about everything, but this I read about in this challenging time.  I have never felt so scared before, but I didn’t let it stop me from doing what I had to do to provide safety for me and my kids. 

After Eric dropped us off at the hotel in Tokyo, I got little to no sleep tossing and turning in the tiny Japanese bed Ben and I shared.   About 5 feet long and 3 feet wide this bed!  The next morning I called Eric once again questioning if I should really leave-leave my home, my life, my best friend and husband and if I could handle the stress of the flight.  Once again, he reassured me it was best and I will be happy once I am there with family.  Once again, I reminded myself to trust in my husband to provide for us and that he is right. 

Once again, I felt immense fear when I landed a night in an LA hospital due to contractions caused by dehydration/stress from the long trip there-6 hours in Tokyo airport lines, 9 hours on a plane, and a few hours to and from.  My sweet dad took Ben for that night to sleep at his house, and I was waken every hour to monitor the baby’s heartbeat and to answer nurses concerns about Japan all the while trying to best avoid that conversation or the news that came with it.  It is all heartbreaking and repetitive, and exhaustion is not a time to dwell on that.  I cried some, but to stay positive I remembered my husband being in the hospital for brain surgery.  He was hospitalized for 2 weeks in a foreign place all alone until I reached him, and if he can do that I can do this.  I just focused on keeping calm for the baby girl I am carrying and how she is all that matters right then.  

 Next scary time came a few days later leaving LA, I was so close to getting off the plane headed to Minnesota because I started having pretty intense contractions from the stress and nerves.  I was scared thinking every possible thing that could go wrong, hearing my dad’s joking voice of having a baby on a plane, what if that was me!?   But I remembered what I read God said, “I will not live in fear…God will provide a way and as my husband reminds me “God never gives us more than we can handle” (even though times like this I think God pokes fun at that!)  It took everything in me to believe it, but I did, and by God the contractions stopped and the flight was smooth from there on to Minnesota.  Never, ever underestimate the power of your thoughts.  It could save you, and definitely can change your life.  God will start blessing you when you do it his way. 

“We can choose to think about what God can do instead of what we cannot do.”–Joyce Meyer, Power Thoughts

 “God always provides the way out” -1 Cor. 10:13

I want to talk about what I love about Japan.  Living with the Japanese for almost a year now, I have learned a great deal.  The Japanese are the most giving, generous, gentle people I have ever met.  Every student and friend I made would bring a gift if coming over to my home or some special occasion or even just out of nowhere.  They do not hesitate to go out of there way if you are lost and looking for directions, some pass you by, but you’ll easily find someone to help you even if they speak no English.  Someone walked us a few blocks before.  They stick together in everything they do.  If one person in the business screws up, the whole company apologizes and feels shame.  Classrooms always work in teams or groups, kids are rarely singled out.  They wear masks if they have a cold so not to spread their germs, and they have the cleanest public restrooms and streets I have ever seen.  There markets and food presentations are impeccable, even at fast food joints, fresh and delicious.  I have never had bad service. 

Despite the fact that one of the largest major catastrophes just happened in Japan, the airport at Tokyo was orderly and people were polite!!  I was not surprised, but in the states we would be.  That Tokyo airport looked like Christmas day times 10.  I actually lost my bag with my passport and money in it when I arrived at the airport!! Talk about panic!  But the first Japanese women behind the counter I talked to was fluent in English and found my bag in less than 30 minutes, someone dropped it off at the Info Kiosk, how likely would that happen at the LA airport?  The Japanese women next to us on the plane shared her snacks with Ben and made him smile a few times!  I should add military dependents stick together just the same way as the Japanese in that we immediately help each other out, and I am grateful for all the military does and did to support us, and to all our military friends. 

Out of a storm always comes sun, and life is full of storms so we gotta learn to dance in the rain or at least stay positive.  God never gives us more than we can handle, the past two weeks I’ve been scared and worried at times it was going to all be too much for me but as soon as I believed and trusted God will pave my way and provide He did.  Everywhere I have gone I hear and see the sadness or fear in others about Japan.  People scared of radiation, scared it will even come to the United States, scared it will happen somewhere else in the world…so many things that could “happen” to you and me.  Yes, this is true, but good things can happen too and that’s where I want to put my mind and heart.  We all feel that fear,we all have complaints, especially those of us who live in Japan, but talking about it a lot and stopping at that only stops you from living and is depressing for all.   We got to support each other and strengthen ourselves and each other by looking at the good too.

What good you say?  In the first 24 hours after the earthquake, our naval base alone filled up 12 huge crates full of donations from the good hearts of Americans wanting to help the victims.  Aid from all around the WORLD lent support immediately.  Japanese did not riot, they immediately pulled together as a country and people to help each other, not to help themselves, but their neighbors, their family, their co-workers, and strangers.   I and over 3,000 military dependents made it back to the states safe.  Let us pray for Japan, not with worry or piety, but pray to God with gratitude for the help he sends, for the lives saved, for the hard workers, dedicated U.S. military, the Japanese military, pray with compassion and belief that Japan will overcome and that they are all doing their best.  Things will be a mess for a long time, but we can all give a little encouragement or money, lending hope and a positive attitude is the best gift.

 We live in between Yokohama and Mt. Fuji here on the map, earthquake was in Sendai about 300 miles North, maybe distance of LA to San Jose?  We felt it at like a 6 but no damage

I share this, because I know many out there are just like me.

I am now happy to say I am Christian-changed-born again some say-and for the first time I am at peace with my beliefs.   A year ago I was unsure what I believed.  I never thought I would read the bible or read it and actually enjoy it!  The past 3 months, I have woken up almost every single day and studied the Word of God.  The past 6 months I have gone to a great bible study once a week.  At first, I was hesitant and unsure if I’d make sense of the bible or if I would even come to believe.  I just knew I needed God and I had tried everything else and I had seen this work for others, particularly my aunt Becky who passed away from breast cancer last year.  The joy is a believer’s heart never leaves you and she had a beautiful joy about her.

I grew up having to read it in Catholic school for 8 years, and I went to church twice a week as a child-once at school and once with my family.  It was comfortable, but I did not enjoy it and I didn’t fully get it.  I should know the bible like the back of my hand!  But I didn’t.  I have always prayed to God, I have always believed in God, but I have not always believed in Jesus and I surely didn’t follow his ways or rules of living as many Christians don’t.  I was so lost and confused I went down a very dark path, the more I searched for answers the more I stayed hurt and confused.  I struggled with many things in my life, everyday was a battle.  Buddhism and visualization brought me some peace and I still very much respect them for that.  But I have never felt truly close to God in my everyday thoughts and actions until now, and that is why I can say I am a Christian, because it is the bible and Jesus’ words that have transformed me.  I feel like a new person, a better person…and like I can do anything because I can now feel and recognize God’s love for me and have full faith in his powerful Words.  It is truly nothing short of a miracle, it is amazing to me, because I was a skeptic, a non-believer if you will, and now I believe.

Joyce Meyer’s said it is almost sadder or more difficult for a Christian who stopped believing than someone who never believed at all to come to faith, and it is so true for me.  It’s been a difficult road to say the least-depression-anxiety-frustrations-arguments at home were constant.  I could (might) write a book on it as many already have.  My husband has come to faith now, too, and my heart is so full I cannot describe it.   I am a true believer, because I have seen and tried many things to get my life on track-my marriage-myself-that the bible is the only way to be constantly filled with everything good, to have your life and yourself made new, to reach your fullest potential and help others in their lives.  No one can help another being until they themselves have been saved or changed.  I love what Joyce Meyers says, “People are in the serving business, God is in the changing business.”  We sometimes try to change each other, but only God can do that so it is a losing battle, and believe me I know!   As soon as I stopped trying to change my husband, stopped trying to change myself by myself, and I handed it all to God, God started changing him and me.

If you are interested, there are so many great Christian books and videos out there, that is where we started.  Who isn’t interested in having peace, joy, blessings and love?  Church is great, but it’s mainly a place to share your faith.   If you go like I did out of duty, because you feel you should, you get very little from it .  Maybe it makes you feel good that day and the next.  But then you go back to your life as is, and nothing changes.

Transformation, becoming closer to God, that takes a daily dedication and devotion to getting up and going to bed reading God’s word.  God will knock on your door, give you signs, but He never barges in.  You have to let him in.  Prayer is only part of it I learned the hard way, you have to meet God in the middle or even go 100% His way-now I look at prayer for what it is–a time to talk to God about anything and everything, not to ask him to change it or fix it or give you strength or peace or whatever you need-because He has already provided us-that’s why Jesus came-we already have all we need inside our heart-our Holy Spirit-it is there we just have to seek it out passionately with knowledge from the bible and use it-apply it to your thoughts and actions.  I think it’s my spiritual gift to share my journey, I am compelled.  But if you are interested in knowing for yourself, it’s all in God’s book …Check it out sometime.

“Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect…do all that you can to live in peace with everyone…conquer evil by doing good.”  ~Romans 12

“If we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.  People who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires…for the LOVE of money is the root of all kinds of evil.” ~Timothy 6

Galatians 5:22, “When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, ther results are very clear:  sexual immorality, impurity, quarreling, selfish ambition, division…The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Col 2-4  “Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him.  Then your faith will grow strong in the truth..and you will overflow with thankfulness…”

“Every one of us is supposed to be a powerhouse for God, living in balance and harmony within and without..we must have not only the right attitude toward others but also towards ourselves.” ~J. Meyers

“Inside the Bible’s pages lie the answers to all the problems that mankind has ever known. I hope Americans will read and study the Bible. The Bible can touch our hearts, order our minds, and refresh our souls.” Ronald Reagan

Lately, life has been crazy!  It has been awhile since I updated, so in case family and friends back home are wondering, here it goes!  Always is therapeutic for me to write too and actually stop and think what we’ve been doing.  We are both going full-time online this quarter, I am almost at finals and 8 week classes just fly by!  Both of us have little time to call family or friends back home, but we are always thinking of you.  We miss and talk about moving back often, and what it will be like.  We are getting excited to buy our very expensive tickets to come visit in August for about 25 days. I am excited to see my little brother getting married to a wonderful lady!  I will finally have a sister.

Ben is talking up a storm I think everybody has heard! (Check out videos on thefroomies.shutterfly.com) But every week he learns something new or starts putting sentences together even better and it is so amazing watching that happen and see his personality shine through more and more.  Half the time he is so polite, “Please-thank you-your welcome-do you want some too mommy?”  Fills my heart!  The other half of his “No, this is mine!  Stop it mommy!” We use time-outs that are very effective, once his 2 minutes are up, it is “Sorry mom/daddy, no hitting/need to listen” and he is good to go till next time 🙂  He loves to help his daddy fix anything he is working on, and play games on the floor  “Come play legos daddy!”

Eric is working hard as usual and I appreciate how he comes home and helps out here too.  The past 2 days I was on the coach with a weird stomach bug, and Monday night he took my adult class since I was sick.  He even put on his dress jacket.  He had fun and I know my students did too!  He tells great stories.  I am slowly giving up my teaching though, and am looking forward to enjoying my family time after I am done with my degree and the little one makes her way into the world.  I have 17 more weeks to go-this pregnancy really has flown by this time-been such a unique experience-I am just so busy I have felt even guilty I haven’t had time like I did with Ben’s pregnancy to sit and just enjoy it as much-but the moments I do are golden.  Usually, when I am in the rocking chair waiting for Ben to fall asleep or laying down at night.  She is an active one!  I fill my days with bible study, homework, volunteering, teaching, chores, babysitting..never knew before Ben that being a stay at home mom could be so busy!

We are going on a trip, our FIRST trip to Tokyo this weekend!!!  I am super excited!!  I pray for a blue sky, but I’ll enjoy it.  Then, we celebrate NINE years since our first date, 7 years living together, and 5 married this month.  A big milestone for us and so much to look back on and look forward to…

I hope Minnesotans are staying warm and we miss you all, take care!!  Sending lots of love, The Frooms

This Week’s Activity: (From babycenter.com) 23 weeks..Feb 9

Write a letter to your baby. You and your child will treasure this gift for years to come. Go with your heart and follow your inspiration. If you need help getting started:

  • Describe your feelings toward your baby and what it’s like to know she’s growing inside you.
  • Imagine a perfect day with your baby and what you’ll do together.
  • Write down your hopes, dreams, and wishes for your baby.
  • Think about what being a mother means to you and your definition of what makes a good mother.

If writing isn’t your style, put together a collage or a memory box of pregnancy mementos, says Diane Sanford, a clinical psychologist whose focus is on helping women make the transition to motherhood.

Dear baby girl,

I have imagined having a daughter of my own since I was a little girl. I remember playing house and always I had wanted a big brother, so I wanted to have a boy and then a girl, God has blessed me with fulfilling this dream. I am so very grateful for you growing inside of me and all that is to come.  It is so different than with your brother because I can already imagine what it will feel like to hold you and care for you, and with Ben I didn’t have the experience to know.  It just adds to the excitement and gives me a peace about it I didn’t have with Ben.  The love is already strong.  You are moving so much right now. There is so much love when I think about you that words cannot describe it…just the most joy fills my heart. I hope in dream for you all the wonderful things of this world, to come to know God as the one to have the closest relationship to and to know how much God loves you and how much we love you. Being a mother is the greatest gift, most satisfying work…being a great mother to me means giving you unconditional love, letting you know by my actions and words that nothing you could do could make me love you less or more, and providing you with the right discipline and teaching you God’s ways to guide your path as I watch you and help you grow into a woman. Being a great mom also means being your best role model and i promise you i will do my best. Just as my mom did for me.

The past month or two (not sure how much time has passed!) we’ve been dealing with the “terrible twos” syndrome that I’ve heard may last up to twenty-six years (According to Eric’s dad and I concur).  But, as naïve as I may be, I am hopeful that it will be better any day now or as he nears three.  I don’t know if Ben has gotten any less defiant, but mom and dad are learning to have more patience and better ways to handle his episodes of screaming in the store like we’re beating him or throwing himself onto the floor like someone screamed “fire”! Also, when he talks back to us or tells me what to do like “come back here right now mommy!” as he use to start the day off yelling from his crib, I am better prepared to threaten time out and follow through.  He has stopped that and has moved on to saying “NO!” to everything and anything we ask him, so now I am learning to not ask questions.  Writing this, it is so comical to me, but at the moment it is a frustrating and patience testing like I’ve never experienced (besides when my husband or I throw a tantrum, but that’s another story!).

In between the “no’s” and the “mine’s”, toddlers can say and do things that just melt your heart.  He is learning what everything and everyone in the world around him means, does, and how to use it all.  When realizing how frustrating, over-stimulating, and demanding of him it can be gives me a sense of calm and compassion with him.  I am so proud of my husband each time I see him being mindful of this realization.  Just yesterday as Ben had talked back to me and had that defiant pouty face, Eric took him aside, knelt down in front of him, and so very calmly told him what he did and why that is not okay.  It melted my heart how his reaction calmed Ben down and he redirected his attention to go play toys with dad.

Another thing that melts our hearts, is Ben saying things like “Come play legos with me mommy” or “Lets play legos” every morning now since he got it from Grandma Christmas morning.  Just last weekend, Eric took down his crib and put up his toddler bed.  Ben was so excited!  We’ve found the key is to be excited for him, and another great tip I learned was trying to find something funny in a situation or tantrum.  Sometimes I tell Ben (or Eric), “don’t smile!” with a big grin on my face, and it never fails to get him to break a smile or giggle.

This morning, I woke to Ben in our bed smiling at me.  There is nothing in this world better than that.  When I finally sat up and said good-morning, he melted my heart again by saying, “Get up, mommy!  You hungry, mommy?”  The best way to start my day!  He’s been putting so many sentences together!  A mocking bird, copying most of our sentences now.  It just amazes me!  He’ll say, “I like oatmeal, do you like oatmeal mommy?”  or if Eric coughs, “Are you okay, daddy?”  Just melts my heart.

I have found there is no one way ticket to how to handle the terrible twos, but it is for sure always a battle of wills and can lead to triumph or torture, and most likely a little of both, but which one conquers depends on the parent’s reactions to their actions.  Triumph comes from a standing your ground-following through on your threats and being consistent with those threats.  We’ve created family house rules and a list of what time out is used for.  Secondly, Triumph comes from a huge dose of patience, empathy, and redirecting their attention.  If you try to just explain and get a toddler to understand, it will only lead to frustration on both parts!  Learning about brain development and toddlers, it’s true they are just not capable yet-do not have the brain function you and I do-to understand the why’s and how’s of it all.  And it will take the next 20 or 30 years for us to teach them and watch them learn it J Triumph and torture of parenting, it is definitely a daily, minute to minute, balancing act.

My mom put it best, toddlers are like dogs in this way, you have to teach them who is boss.  A battle of wills.  They are trying to see if they can be the boss and get their way, it is our job to tell him his place and follow through so he hopefully becomes a well-rounded, loving individual who has not only respect for us, but for everyone around him.

“Keep your patience & strong faith in how you want your family to be.” ~my mom

“Hands are for praying and playing, not hitting.”

“Families that pray together, stay together.”

“Giggles & hugs make you forget & forgive.”

“The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

After posting pictures of what we’ve done just in this last month, I was really surprised realizing we’ve actually done so much more than I thought.  I realized that I am always underestimating myself, thinking I need to do more or be more than I am.  Like, when I am writing a paper for school I always think it needs to be better or won’t be good enough and Eric always reminds me I am a good writer and usually get an A.   So I thought I’d make a list of everything that went right this year to put it in perspective.

What we’ve accomplished in 2010:

March~

We moved out of our 4 bedroom place in Anacortes, WA, said a very tearful good-bye to our 2 dogs (Kayla and Roxi) who are now with family members.

April~

finished a gorgeous 25 hour road trip down the west coast from Whidbey Island to San Diego where we stayed in the Navy Lodge for one month while Eric trained.  First, we had a special last visit with my aunt in Oregon who died of breast cancer in October this year.  We love you always.

We stayed with my dad for about a week and had fun at Venice Beach, listened to music on at the marina, listened to my dad play his beautiful piano/guitar music, had dinner with his friend where it was Ben’s 1st time swimming in a pool.

We went to the San Diego zoo and Sea World-I loved the dolphins and so did Ben! We toured a Navy ship (first time for Eric and me both!!)  We had some delicious Mexican with my mom who visited us & saw the Elmo show.  I started learning Japanese and enjoyed the beach with Ben.

May 5th~

we said a hard-good bye to my dad and flew to Japan.  We saw Odawara Castle, learned the Japanese train system (the best in the world!), and enjoyed meeting new people on/off base.

June ~

began teaching English in June at an elementary school, a small academy, and an adult group class.  I have learned so much about their culture and made good friends this way.  Took a bunch of free classes on base, learned many Japanese phrases.

July/August~

Bon adori festivals, 4th of July show, a Hikone trip/temple, Kamakura temple, saw Enoshima Island in 90 degree, humid suffocating weather, the water was nice!  Ben’s 1st time in the ocean, scared to death!

We both finished full-time class loads with A’s and B’s!

Eric climbed Mt. Fuji, all the way to the top in 6 hours!!  Over 12,000 feet.

September/October~

21st-Ben turned 2!  Talking a storm!  Had our 1st typhoon weather.  One of my adult students invited me to her home for a fancy, Japanese lunch.  So much delicious (oishii) food!  My husband finally took me to a Navy Ball, had fun dancing and won my first prize, a karaoke machine (ironic for someone who doesn’t sing, but I have watching Eric!)  Ben’s first trick or treating!  It was so cute and he was so amazed.  October 2nd, I woke up finding out I was pregnant again!

Nov~

North Korea shot a missile into South Korea, scary time being only 400 miles away. My birthday at a Japanese steak house, visited Enoshima temple and shops, and had a thanksgiving karaoke party at our place…

Dec~

threw my Japanese students a Christmas party, cooked a big Turkey meal.  Saw a big Christmas lighting in the woodsy Miyagase Dam area and Ben lite up as we rode a little train lite with lights.

Both finished full time classes with A’s and B’s!! 4 more until my Bachelors, Eric has 6 classes until his AA

So my resolutions are the same as the last couple of years:  working hard to earn my Bachelors, create fun family times, be healthier and happier 🙂  Specifically this year, prepare and enjoy this pregnancy and having a newborn baby again.  I am so very excited Eric and I will be in my brother and future sis-in-laws wedding this summer and visit all our family and friends for a few weeks with our newborn!!  Ben will be talking away and get to know everyone!  It will be so fun, also hoping to take on a new job later in the year to gain experience some way with my psychology degree either volunteering or paid.

(Inside a tent Ben got from Santa/grandma)

December 31, 2010

Last day of the year!  I can’t believe it!  So much I wanted to do and see but didn’t, so much I did want to do and see and did!

Last night at 11pm as we climbed into bed after a 3 hour torturous game of monopoly (Eric kicked my ass as usual), we heard a bang at the door.  Four security guys stood there telling us to get out now because there’s smoke on the third floor.  We gathered with neighbors in the next buildings’ lobby all in our pjs and blankets (only lasted a few minutes).  Then at 1:30, I woke dazed and confused to a little man in our bed!  I think I fell back asleep a few times before realizing he was there and needed to get to bed!  He thought it was funny.  I woke Eric to put him back to sleep.  Why?  This man would sleep through a freight train running through our bedroom.  The other night, I was up with Ben screaming bloody murder and he was still snoring in the next room, paper thin walls and both doors wide open!  I needed a night of NOT getting out of bed!  It is rare being a mom I am finding.

I thought at 3 months old when he started sleeping through the night that was it.  Ha!  So little I knew about babies or kids when I became a mom.  Well, he sleeps through the night more, but mom doesn’t!!  If I so as much hear a PEEP out of Ben, Eric, the cat, or even the wind hitting the window-I am up in a flash, alert and ready for action!  Now I fully understand (I have a feeling I’ll be saying this phrase a lot) my mom’s own lack of sleep even after we are grown and gone!!

We had a fun Christmas. It was great to see my family through skype and open presents with my mom on skype-it’s a blessing to be in each others’ living room being in different countries.  Amazing, I’d be so homesick without it!

So far pregnancy is treating me okay, not as good as with Ben, but it is still a blessing and we are very excited!  I am grateful I only felt sick the first 3 months without actually being sick.  Now, I get headaches and belly aches easily, so I try drinking water every chance I get but my coffee/tea addiction and new love of sweets does not help!  I’ve started going on a walk or doing pilates everyday which really feels great.  I am so anxious to feel the baby move, and find out the sex in a few weeks I am hoping.  (Due June 8th)

I like putting playgroups together, kids making xmas cookies at our place

A xmas party with other teachers and students

Christmas at a Friends: Eric's love for kids or a big kid at heart 🙂

Ben's 1st petting zoo and seeing santa-he had to say good-bye to each animal as we left! Broke my heart.

 

I enjoyed throwing a Christmas party for my Japanese students and some close friends.

 

This too shall pass.  This is my mantra today.  Some say life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.  I don’t like chocolate, and I don’t like surprises.  So I say, life is like a garden, it depends what you put into it what you’re gonna get out of it.

Right now I got my hands in the dirt, I am constantly pulling weeds, but there is a beautiful garden yet to come.  Some days all the weeds get my blood boiling, some weeks stretch out like the dead of winter where I can barely remember the blooming of beautiful flowers and I totally lose focus of the garden to come. But I am reminded of why and how a gardener even enjoys getting his hands dirty.  For it’s the pleasure of knowing a garden will come, of seeing a flower start to bloom, and the satisfaction of knowing it is because of you.  When one only thinks of the hard work only as hard work, their heart grumbling and complaining the whole time just waiting to get it over with, then they miss out on the pleasure of it all which stems from a sense of purpose and pride.  In this life, I am learning pleasure and purpose are inseparable.

Many days, I catch myself forgetting my purpose and the meaning behind every mundane task of being a mom and wife.  It’s so easy to do.  I think because I didn’t know what to expect being a mom and wife.  Who does?  Not many of us do with Hollywood making it look all “glam-our” and a society that is focused on me, me, me.  After a quick argument today, my stress levels high with all my lists, while doing the dishes I flashed to what life would be like for Ben if we let this all slip away from us.  If I choose to give up hope and give up on marriage.  As I flashed back to how it was for me as a child, finding out my parents were getting divorced, I felt my ideals total shift into a new perspective.  My own mother’s perspective and understanding her decision like I never could before with full compassion, yet also fully understanding how impossible it is for a child to understand.   I also realized my situation is totally different and this is all my emotions talking, not my heart, and that just perhaps maybe my counselor was right-my emotional responses with my husband are connected to what I felt from my parent’s divorce, seeping into my own marriage like any weed does and growing like a tumbleweed that I keep pruning but not pulling up.

This weed was fear.  Fear really is a predictor of your future, whereas I always wondered if it was destiny and God would hand me a sign of should I go or should I stay, but that was only my fear talking.  Fear that we, too, would follow in our parent’s footsteps of divorce, as so many told us we are predestined too statistically.  The mind is just a crazy thing.  Trying to understand your mind with your own mind is even crazier.  I am so thankful for counselor’s-people with a passion and ability to make sense of someone else’s mind or problems.  For the longest time I held tight to my stubborn belief that I could figure out my own mind, our own relationship problems, and even fix what I labeled wrong about my husband.  I laugh at myself now!  How naïve I really was, and I know in five years I’ll say the same thing about today.

This is why I love getting older because I keep learning and growing into a better person.  At least I like to think so, at least I keep trying to do so.  But that’s my own naïve perspective.

So Ben is at the age of terrible TWO.  It’s as terrible as all the horror stories I heard, but I really did belief in a naïve way (oh, how I use to know it all) that my son was going to stay a cute little angel even at the age of two.  I thought, I’ve studied the psychology of kids, I’ve watched other parents mistakes, I’ve got this when the time comes.  Ha!  I laugh at myself now.  At least I can laugh.  I secretly owe each parent I’ve ever seen yelling at their child, judging them in my mind as not doing the parent thing right as their child throws a fit in a store or restaurant talking back to them and throwing things, a sincere apology J  The past few weeks, my little monkey has proven to me, it too, can happen to me.  So to all you other parents out there, hang in there, this too shall pass.  Here is a great quote that helped me today as I sought out help in books online as my sweet little angel napped:

“Toddlers may seem powerful and miserable beyond their years;

But when they’re sleeping, you can’t help but be reminded of how vulnerable, small, utterly beautiful, and needy they are.”

Tonight at our bedtime routine-brush teeth, read a few stories, sing a lullaby, turn on music, and then lights out-went smoothly after using some much needed advice from psychology book readers who understand my child’s mind a little more than I do-I watched him smile a happy smile as I hugged him good-night and laid him down and tucked him in.  He looked so peaceful.  I came out and looked at same pictures of him this past year since our move, and thought how he will look back on these pictures as I do on my childhood ones.  My heart fills with a great sense of purpose knowing that he will look back and have so many happy memories; knowing my husband and I will look back and have so much to be proud of.  That all the weed pulling paid off.  And there is nothing in this world that can beat that.

Quote from:

Murphy, Jana.  (2004).  The Secret Lives of Toddlers:  A Parent’s Guide…Retrieved from Amazon.

Tis nobler to lose honor to save the lives of men than it is to gain honor by taking them.

~David Borenstein

War creates peace like hate creates love.

~David L. Wilson

Wisdom is better than weapons of war.

~Ecclesiastes 9:18

Happy Thanksgiving from Japan!!  Today, I am not only counting my blessings and thinking thankfully, but I am praying for peace.  Yesterday, our ship went out to protect us and others from harm.  It hits so close to home like never before.  You can see how close we are here near Tokyo to South Korea-less than 400 miles.   Japan and Korea are as close as Minnesota and Michigan, we are neighbors.  North Korea shot a missile into South Korea the highest intensity of violence between the two in over fifty years.  They are warning of shooting another one and South Korea warns they will fight back.   The US has 30,000 troops stationed in South Korea alone.  If I had known that Korea has shot missles over Japan in the past, I really don’t know if we would have moved here!  But for everything there is a meaning and I have my faith in God.  So the United States and United Nations are taking allies, preparing, and hopefully, praying.

Lets all pray for peace between Korea, pray for peace everywhere and be so thankful for our troops who are protecting us. I believe the only way humanly possible to stop evil, war, violence, and hate is by wisdom, education, and compassion.  I understand we must defend ourselves, we must stand up for those who cannot protect themselves, and today I am so thankful for all the men and women out there who are doing this.  Love and compassion are amazing and powerful.  As I sit here in my apartment, I can hear the fighter jets and planes practicing on this Thanksgiving Day and I cannot help but feel a great awareness of how close war really is and how fragile life really is-it is not a good thing or a bad thing-it just is.  But this awareness reminds me to be so much more thankful and grateful for each moment.  So many military families are without loved ones this holiday, people around the world are suffering form tyrant dictators and famine.  I pray those who are suffering can have faith in God, that they have a purpose and can overcome.  I am thankful I can give my son, my unborn child, and myself what I need and more.

Some call me preachy, but that is okay.  I am!  It is in my blood, it is in my heart and soul.  Part of my God-given talent, and each of is given this when we feel passion and motivation towards something.  I feel so strongly about doing our part, even if it is prayer, to help not just our friends and family, but our neighbors, our allies, and anyone who is suffering in this world.   I am so thankful today for all my blessings, for my family and friends back home who send their love and support to us here.  So thankful for my mom who sends us monthly care-packages filled with love and goodies!  I am very thankful for my husband who works hard every single day and then comes home to help me and give me his support as I go to school and teach English.  I am thankful for all the wonderful people I’ve met here in Atsugi, Japan.  Each one of you has been an inspiration.

It is so easy to get caught up in everyday frustrations and chores, so I love having a day like to day where it is all about gratitude and our blessings and giving back.  I am reminded that I need to focus each day a little more on all my blessings and all the good life has to offer.  Us at a temple on Enoshima Island.

Zeller, F.  (2010).  N. Korea warns of more strikes as US ship pulls…http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-world/nkorea-warns-of-more-strikes-as-us-carrier-heads-in-20101125-188k7.html

Image we feel Proud of

“An eye for an eye only makes the whole world blind.”  ~Mahatma Ghandi

It is estimated that over 100,000 have been injured in the middle east war since it began in 2003 by some, although the official number is 32900 people.  The US and UK military do not record civilian deaths, which makes everyone unsure of the body count although many organizations are keeping count themselves like journalists and activists.  One site estimated over 1 million have been killed, Iraqis alone.  Of academics, 448 have been killed and 348 journalists. 1,487 contractors working there have been killed.

These numbers are unbelievable, but so very real.  I have closed my eyes to the war for the most part, closed the papers, turn the channel, but now I am receiving the military “Stars and Stripes” newspaper daily.  Living in Japan, on U.S. soil, but foreign soil surrounding us, on this little island that’s only 10% bigger than California, I cannot help but want to be more educated and know more and see where I should stand.  My faith in God overrules any fact or persuasion I hear, however, towards one side or the other on if we should be at war or not.  I think if you ask most people they do not know and I would have said the same thing six months ago.  But now I know as I always have known in my heart that war only brings death and destruction, peace comes from being peaceful.

Do my husband and I clash on this belief?  Yes!  So we usually choose not to discuss it, but my husband has a heart of gold and I know if he saw this war with my eyes he would do a one eighty.  God made us all with different minds, different viewpoints, and I am thankful for that because through Eric I can see things in a different way.

Reading the newspaper, out of 800 casualties 67 were amputees treated at just ONE hospital from May to September this year.  I can only imagine how many hospitals are treating soldiers.  Hearing the stories, personal stories of those injured and their families, is what tugs at my heart and has my heart screaming stop this war.  I encourage everyone to donate what you can to Veterans who have been wounded or homeless, it is so needed.  My passion being mental health and psychology, I also know the need is very high for veterans suffering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) which can debilitate their whole lives and be a reason they lose their jobs becoming homeless.  They need mental health treatment, as do many who are on the streets due to chemical dependency or job loss-please think of this when you see them.  They are not just bums, but people like you and me.  Very sadly, veterans make up a quarter of the homeless population.  Those who gave up freedoms, limbs, and sacrificed for our country.  An estimated 200,000 veterans on the streets right now (http://eideard.wordpress.com/2008/07/02/).  Have you ever come across a man like this?  Wondering what you can do to help him??  I think about God in my heart, and I know even if you have no money a kind word, a thank you for your service, or just some pocket change would make a world of difference to him.

“Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle.”

Image we feel Not so Proud of, Lets change that

Donate to websites like http://www.iava.org or http://www.middleeastvets.org/

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/4525412.stm

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/iraq

Ben and Margot

Our first Typhoon is on its way!  So exciting! Okay, not really.  We both have a ton of homework to get done by Sunday online, and I realized tonight that high winds means electricity might go out [fingers crossed].  So we’ve got a really late night tonight working away on papers, discussions, and quizzes! Yippy!  So we have not had much of a life lately with both of us going to school full time and in finals mode the last few weeks and new full time classes starting up the day after my finals got done!  Eric still has one final paper and final exam next week and already started 2 new classes on Monday.

My aunt Becky passed away, went Home to Heaven and to God, a few days ago.  She is in all our prayers and thoughts, as is the family.  I was the closest to her on my dad’s side, she was a wonderful, lively, funny, inspirational woman that touched soo many lives through her family, grandchildren, and her church.   She had words of wisdom I could hear all day and I will truly cherish every memory, only wishing there were more.

So I had my first Ultrasound 2 weeks ago, and will have another one in 2 weeks!  Our little pea, little Yoko Froom 🙂 is about 8 weeks along now.  I caught HER 🙂  right when she came about!  I found out I was pregnant on October 2nd, woke Eric up, and he had a big smile as he said, “Get the h-e-double hockey sticks outta here!”  We are very excited to have a bigger family and for Ben to have a brother or sister!  I just cannot wait to be past the first-feeling like I got the flu everyday-trimester 🙂  I know it will be worth it and this too shall pass 🙂

Benjamin is keeping me busy.  He is a talker like his parents and loves to dance, run, and build things-crush cars into things and watch trains go by!  His best friend Margot lives below us and they have a ball.  Tomorrow Halloween got postponed until Sunday, we have a haunted house, a costume party, and Ben’s first Trick o Treating!  He loves to say “Trick or Treat” since he saw it on Dora.  He is a scaredy cat though, and I expect tears when he sees any mask or scary looking thing!!!  Today, he wouldn’t get on a Dinosaur at the park with me because of scary teeth and he walks so cautiously over the bridge.  It is funny!  He is cautious like me, but it is just his own personality.  At home, he goes wild and is so talkative.  In public, he is shy and does not say a word unless he warms up.  But he sure has his dad’s eyes and height.  Already over 3 feet and 31 pounds.

Three of my students this past week (senior students) had me over for lunch.  The sweetest people and the most interesting stories.  I just have learned so much more than I have taught them.  Kiyoko kept coming out of the kitchen with food!  Yummy Japanese rice, sushi, special occasion sticky rice with beans in it, potato salad, and meatloaf!  The sushi dish she made special, so I ate it, but the whole time thinking of the tiny eyeballs I saw!  Very tiny fish eggs or fish hidden in the rice.  It was delicious though, all of it, they know how to cook here, and great company most of all.  Her house is tiny and cute.  The first time I drove there I was so scared to hit someone or the front of someone’s house or not get into her tiny parking spot without hitting HER house!  They laughed at me! lol  But now I am use to it, still watching my side mirrors like crazy.

Last but not least, my husband, my sailor finally took me to a Navy Ball, and it was so neat!!  Very formal dining with about a wait staff of 30 Japanese.  My sailor is part of the Color Guard, so he preformed the opening ceremony carrying the Japanese flag among our other flags.  He was looking good in his uniform and we had fun on the dance floor!  We shook hands with an Admiral and other high up looking people with lots of strips up and down their arms!! It was an honor, and they are so laid back.  I won a Karaoke Machine, my first time winning something neat!

How is everyone?  I really miss family and hearing how everyone is doing.  It is so difficult to stay in touch when we have so much going on here and the time difference.  When I wake up, it is evening yesterday in the States.  When it is evening here, it is 2-5am there.

Lots of love, peace, and joy to all, Tessa

Navy Ball!

Imagine this-someone very close to you lost their life to you, a soldier, fighting for our freedoms and fighting for justice.  You are at the funeral, and very close by are people holding signs reading “God Hates the USA”, “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” and I cannot even write another because it hurts.  Funeral protests are led by a Reverend from a Baptist church I will leave unnamed here.  They state that those who die in the war are God’s punishment for allowing homosexuality and abortion, they are protesting with smiles on their faces going from funeral to funeral.

I am furious and pray to God who is all loving and compassionate that the Supreme Court will make the right decision, siding with the father of one marine who was attacked with the protesters at his son’s funeral.

One article states, “Forty-eight states, 42 senators and veterans groups have sided with Albert Snyder, asking the court to shield funerals from the church’s “psychological terrorism”.”  The Supreme Court is still out, and this decision could affect the First Amendment for us all.  I don’t know about you, but this is okay for me. We have too much freedom in this country.  People like this should be arrested on the spot for heartlessness and using God’s name so wrongly.

When religious people are yelling obscenities in the name of God at military funerals, and blacks are in the streets yelling kill whites, I think democracy has gone too far, I believe in freedom-but actions like these take AWAY from freedom.  It angers me.  When we are a country free to love, to mourn, to live in peace-that is the day we are a True Democracy, truely free…this means having rules to be respectful of others and having it against the law to do other wise.  I look for a day when kindness, respect, and compassion are valued above all else.

I pray and am so thankful for all our military, all of our respectful loving citizens who care to better this country and this world with loving actions and take action to change things in a postive, uplifting way.   Thank you, God, and please shed your light on our nation that is so in need of it.

“You always want what you don’t have.”

“The grass is always greener on the other side.”

But is it?  If we had that next thing we want, would we truly be happy then?  Or would we just move on to the next best thing?  So many of us believe the grass is greener on our neighbor’s lawn.  Maybe it looks like it!  But does that mean they are happier inside?  We tend to falsely believe if the outside is shiny so is the inside.  We look for status, relationships, and job records to indicate a person’s worth or life’s success.  In American schools, I so want to see them teach compassion and self-love as the greatest lesson, to teach that to be highly successful in life means to attain peace and spread peace.

All of us, without exception because we are human, believe at one time or another that someone has something better than we do.  As humans, we all experience the same emotions:  Envy, jealousy, and desire.  But these are the emotions we must learn to control or they will control us.  Sheer willpower is not enough for the strongest soul, it only gets us so far in life, but it won’t fill our hearts with joy.  Willpower won’t stop our negative self-talk, self piety, and it won’t stop us from living a life consumed by our “failures” or consumed by our future “desires”.  Of coarse we should know when we fail and desire better for ourselves, but the key is for it to not be the focus.

God should be the focus, God’s way.  I have learned this the hard way.  I use to have my heart and mind set on the materials of the world, and still do at times.  I use to be so upset with myself and with my life.  Yet, I am so thankful for my friends and family that could see me and my life through better lenses.  They saw my blessings and could remind me, but the greatest reminder and seeker of my own blessings had to be me.  Only one can change their heart and therefore their life’s coarse.

It is so easy without a strong relationship with God to forget (and even then we forget but if your relationship is strong God will remind you quickly) that we control our own well-being and therefore our own happiness.  We have more power than we realize but by not realizing we readily end up giving our very God-given power away.  Our God-given power goes in this order:  Thoughts->Emotions->Words->Actions->Destiny

I will never forget the day I was packing like crazy and my best friend back home called me.  I was finishing full-time classes up-finals week, taking care of our house, a toddler, my husband, and planning a move to Japan with a month long road trip first.

In all my haste, I lost sight of it all.  All the good, my best friend was my angel that day when she called.  I was feeling very down and stress at home was high.  I told her how I had to keep putting my education on hold to move with the Navy or take care of my family.  I wanted to tell her all the negatives of my days.  She was so excited for me, for us, as she always is.  Such a blessing to have her it is, but in my mental storm I didn’t feel the way she did about my own life change-a change I happily choose in the first place.  I explained to her, “One day I want a career, to travel the world, to have a big family and I feel like it all just slips away.  I stay at home everyday with my son and now we are moving.”  I was, by my own thoughts, feeling defeated and hopeless and unfulfilled.  Another friend was about to graduate with a Masters, so was a cousin, others were buying houses and had money in the bank.

Envy.

Desire.

On the other end of the phone line, I could hear her taken back.   With loving, concern and still excitement I heard her say, “What are you talking about!?  You ARE about to move to Japan!  You are seeing the world.  Right now.  You’re traveling places I’ve never even been to!  You have a baby, you’re a mom, and have a husband who loves you.  You are getting your degree.  You are living your dream!”

How ashamed I felt, and taken back I as.  “You are so right-thank you.” I said.  “I really am living my dreams or about to.”  I had lost all focus.  My attention moved from what I had to what I didn’t have, all the while being on my way to having it all.  She humbled me as good friends always do.

We all have to remind ourselves daily of the dreams we ARE living now, and feel grateful.  And if we are not living them, planning how we will and being grateful for what we do have now.  If we are not living the dreams we use to have, maybe making new dreams or seeing the new one we are living for the blessing it is.  I had to do that, to readjust my dream and my view of myself and my life.  This is a new dream, but every night when I lay my son down or I see him learn or do something new I taught him, my heart is so full and I am so grateful for my life.  I also like to imagine all the millions who have less than I have or who dream of this life I have.  I am fortunate.  It humbles me and I feel joy for my life and eager to help others feel better about their lives in some way.

We all have to learn to enjoy the journey more than the destination.  Joyce Meyers wrote a book, Enjoying Where You are on the Way to Where You are Going.  Destination has the word destiny in it.  Destiny is not always what we imagined it would be.  And if we put all trust and all gratitude for our current blessings God will surely bless our lives, our dreams past our greatest imagination.  Our job is to recognize when he does, and be thankful.  God only asks that we adjust our perceptions, feel  grateful, and give back.  God reminds me that life is so much more than me.  I am really here for a purpose far greater.

These are some of my favorite quotes, and to me, if meditated on-remembered by heart and applied to your life-lead to happiness which is true success.  They are all inspirational leaders even today.

The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched; they must be felt with the heart. – Helen Keller, 1880-1968, American Blind/Deaf Author and Lecturer

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. – Mahatma Gandhi, 1869-1948, Indian Political and Spiritual Leader

Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking. – Bernard M. Baruch, 1870-1965, American Financier and Statesman

Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions. – Albert Einstein, 1879-1955, German-born American Physicist

If you touch one thing with deep awareness, you touch everything (Thich Naht Hanh).

“At the moment of waking up,
before getting out of bed,
get in touch with your breath,
feel the various sensations in your body,
note any thoughts and feeling that maybe present,
let mindfulness touch this moment,
Can you feel your breath?
Can you perceive the dawning of each in breath?
Can you enjoy the feeling of the breath freely
entering your body in this moment?
“Breathe in I smile,
breathe out I calm my body,
dwelling in the present moment,
it is a wonderful moment.”

Have you ever met someone who just radiates with light?  Who brings a smile everywhere they go and who just makes your heart smile thinking of them?  Someone who can smile or find the good even in the midst of bad circumstances or shed light when you feel in the dark?  When I use to meet someone like this I would always wonder how they got that inner peace and how I could have it too!   But as soon as I started practicing meditation and mindfulness, I knew the answer.  A person of strong faith does not always radiate light, but a person who radiates light always has strong faith.  This I find true every single time.  Joyce Meyer’s said it best when she stated that a Christian may be a believer and have good actions, but if their heart is full of grumbling they may be on the path to everlasting life, but they are not enjoying the trip!  And probably those around them aren’t either.

The answer is becoming one with God.  Becoming one with God is like any relationship, it takes a daily effort and unlike any relationship it requires a daily effort to improve the relationship with yourself.  Many think God should talk to them, but being One with God is by listening, meditating, and seeing the answer’s where God places them-in your heart and all around us-even in others-we just have to listen and look.  We are the temple, so it is inside your heart and mind already-God’s radiant light and love.  Only by removing the “junk” covering your heart and mind-the negative thoughts and the false beliefs fed that formed your self-concept- can the light shine through.

Our bible study group just started a book called Me, Myself, and Lies by Jennifer Rothschild.  We will meditate on scriptures and learn to talk to ourselves positively.  It reminds me of all the meditating I have done in the past, and brings me back to realizing that the only way to all we want in life and all we want to give lies in meditating on Eternal Truths-on God’s words.  For me, it can come from the bible but it has also come from great Yoga masters and Buddhist philosophy too.  Anyone who radiates God’s light-who has that “it” factor I want-I remember their words, or write them down, and look at them often.  Times get busy and then I forget, but when I stop and ask myself, “why am I feeling run down, anxious, and unhappy?”  I listen to myself and I know the answer.  I am not feeding my spirit, feeding my body and mind with positive statements, God’s word, and time to reflect on it all.  We all need time to reflect on our day, reflect on our thoughts, our actions, and most important on God’s words that reveal to us all the answers we seek- to our deepest problems and to our greatest blessings.  Most of the time, I find the answer is to change my attitude-learning to be more grateful, forgiving, and loving towards myself.

The greatest gift God gave us, the biggest thing that separates us from other animals, is that we have the power to alter our minds, our thoughts, and therefore our actions and our destiny.  Don’t waste it.  It is hard to form the habit, but it is harder not to.  It is harder to live in denial and by not realizing that your thoughts are creating your life as it is right now.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

The above speech by Nelson Mandela was orignally written by Marianne Williamson who is the author of other similar material.

http://jmm.aaa.net.au/articles/4564.htm

I always forget, but one day I will get it right.  Why don’t I remember?  Why is my faith so small?  On days like today, I wonder this.  I have heard from Christian preachers and believers that you must be in the Word everyday.  These people are so happy and so fulfilled, so when I was at the end of my rope I began to go to church and read the bible.  I know I am learning this before many my age, but every one of us has such a different life road to take-by choice and sometimes by fate.  Some are inevitably dealt are harder hand, call it karma, call it fate, call it God’s plan.  I believe they are all the same and everything has a solid reason behind it-life is perfect and nothing is really by chance.  We all have an amazing energy field, this is scientific fact, and so does every living thing.  Buddhist meditation guru’s have been studied while meditating and some are able to lower their heart rates to such a low rate doctors cannot figure it out.  The power of our minds, of our hearts, of our souls is incomprehensible to our human mind.  I need reminders of this.  That is why I love quotes, books, and meditation.  Tranquil, beautiful music can be a reminder too.  But I do believe in our hearts, God, whispers the answers to us if we quiet our minds enough to listen.

“Do not tell God how big your storm is,

Tell the storm how big God is.”

The only true permanence we have in this lifetime or any other lies in our spirits, our connection to the Divine.  I need to remember this and bask in it more.

When I do this, as I did last night for the first time since our move began it seems, the answers to my current problem not only surface but I feel enlightened in every area of my life and every part of my being.  I feel lighter and healthier in every way.  I laughed last night after my studying/listening to God’s answers like I have not in awhile now.  It’s been stressful, yes!  I have felt some hopelessness, I have felt some distress over personal matters, but there is always reason and it is not until I look to my Faith that I can see that. Some people are at a point in their lives where it is bright and sunny, some are at a point where it is dark and gloomy, but we all will be at both at sometime in our lives.  Only God brings us light, and only God will deliver us from the dark.

All believers and doers of God know what message I am sharing.

To all my disappointments now and to come:

“It will not get me down.

I lift my hands, head, and heart to You

I look NOT at my problems,

But at the Lord,

Who has promised to See me through

To Abundance and Victory.

I trust in God to lead us into a better situation, always.”

“Help me, lord, to get over my emotions, I don’t want to give vent to them.

Help me to forgive and not slight, avoid, or seek to harm in return.

Help me to realize it is okay to feel these feelings [shame, guilt, anger, sadness]

I am human and you gave these feelings to me for a reason, and the will to choose

how to react.  Help me develop compassion, understanding, and a soft heart.

I lift my head and heart to you.

I choose not despair and worry,

I choose hope and joy.

In You, God, I trust to guide me.”

-Gal 5:23/ James 4:1/ Joyce Meyers Managing Your Emotions p. 149

Wall Photos
Pictured is a young physician by the name of Dr. Roger Starner Jones. His short two-paragraph lett…er to the White House accurately puts the blame on a “Culture Crisis” instead of a “Health Care Crisis”..It’s worth a quick read:

Dear Mr. President:
During my shift in the Emergency Room last night, I had the pleasure of evaluating a patient whose smile revealed an expensive shiny gold tooth, whose body was adorned with a wide assortment of elaborate and costly tattoos, who wore a very expensive brand of tennis shoes and who chatted on a new cellular telephone equipped with a popular R&B ringtone.

While glancing over her patient chart, I happened to notice that her payer status was listed as “Medicaid”! During my examination of her, the patient informed me that she smokes more than one pack of cigarettes every day, eats only at fast-food take-outs, and somehow still has money to buy pretzels and beer. And, you and our Congress expect me to pay for this woman’s health care? I contend that our nation’s “health care crisis” is not the result of a shortage of quality hospitals, doctors or nurses. Rather, it is the result of a “crisis of culture” a culture in which it is perfectly acceptable to spend money on luxuries and vices while refusing to take care of one’s self or, heaven forbid, purchase health insurance. It is a culture based in the irresponsible credo that “I can do whatever I want to because someone else will always take care of me”. Once you fix this “culture crisis” that rewards irresponsibility and dependency, you’ll be amazed at how quickly our nation’s health care difficulties will disappear.

Respectfully,
ROGER STARNER JONES, MD
If you agree…pass it on.

So while I can always appreciate a well-written letter and someone’s drive to bring our country’s President and people to attention over important issues, I cannot see how this letter brings about any positive change.  Maybe just a limelight and for him to feel better after venting.  This letter pushes a button with me and this issue always lights a fire inside.  I am angry because the way I see it, after I have done much research on our healthcare and food issues, many U.S. citizens are focusing on the wrong side of the coin.  And it is probably exactly what Corporate American companies want you to do!  They don’t want their billion dollar Food & Drug Administration to come falling down-it is like a religious cult to the extreme-they need followers or they don’t make money!!  So lets feed the American people lies, advertisements, and attack the Obama Administration.  Not to mention, lets attack innocent farmers who already make a crappy living that are trying to feed American’s healthy, organic or GMO free foods.  That is what Monsanto and our Food Administration does to “protect” …us?  Or themselves?

Over 90,000 cows a day are slaughtered in America ALONE-4,000 per hour!! Only 360 million live in the U.S. Not counting chicken, pork, turkey, fish. So this is America’s health problem, NOT insurance. Not to mention there is abuse, illegal immigrants who are not treated well, and growth hormones of all sorts causing them pain and us cancer.  Thank you.

I don’t like to write about this issue.  Okay, I lied, I DO like to face the truth and let the truth be known.  But I don’t because it is not what people like to hear.  People-I don’t mean you specifically-I mean the majority like to live life without worrying about what they are eating or how they are affecting the rest of the world by their words or actions.  But DO care.  Please care.

Instead of focusing on politics, on how bad or good universial healthcare is, on how irresponsible patients and people are with their own bodies or minds, lets focus on each other, lets focus on treating animals with dignity, treating the President of the United States with the respect he deserves for a job so difficult.   Was this patient in this letter irresponsible?  YES.  If this patient gets..well with Medicaid this patient is getting free healthcare-is this the reason why he/she eats bad, smokes, and doesn’t exercise!!??   I think NOT.  Nobody wants to be sick.  (Maybe some dellusional people).  People want to be happy and healthy!  Give me a break.  The reason this person, or any person, the reason why I myself eat bad at times is not because I am using the system and thinking they’ll fix me later!  American’s are feed what they are feed.  And OBAMA cannot change that.  Only you and me, only we can change that.

I am fed up.  It is time for the American people to take a stand.  If you want change, make it happen!!  The President nor can your mother fix stupid or irresponsibility of choice.  We, each individual U.S. citizen, CAN push our local political offices for change.  Change in advertising, our fast food nation, and what we want in our grocery stores and on our television.  I am sick of everyone complaining and not using their freedom of speech wisely.   Universal healthcare or if people have to pay hundreds for their own insurance is not going to make anyone switch to eating their fruits and vegetables.  And even if they did, they are spread with chemicals most likely.

Remember Dr. King?  Martin Luther?  Remember the 60’s anti-war movement?  Why are we sitting on our coaches and not making an effort as they did for revolutionary change then!?  We have a war worse than Vietnam occuring and people dieing in our own country from our own foods.

If you want change, write your local officials about changing the ROOT of the problem. What you, what the President CAN do is inspire others, to teach yourself about why America has the highest rate of cancer, diabetes, and heart attacks.  I promise you the solution nor the problem is health insurance.

Bible Study Group

I feel old.  Yes, that is right.  “You look so young!”  I hear all the time from people I meet or from older people who tell me, “You are so young!”  Like one of my favorite, funny Japanese ladies I teach English to.  The first time I met her in front of the group class and told her my age, she shock her head laughing in disbelief while saying, “Soo young! So young!”  I think I made her feel old.  And I did feel young at a moment like that!  But normally, I feel much older than I am!  I am only 26 but I have been telling myself I am 27 all year because I feel that age already.  Now I understand why older people sometimes stick with a younger age, “I am 30!”  When she is really forty-five.  🙂  I joke, but it really only does matter how you feel not your biological age.  Eric and I have both reached the point where we think of our first date and have to keep recounting on our fingers to make sure it was really almost 9 years ago!!  Unbelievable.  Yesterday I put together a slide show of our moments with Ben since his birth, and it just seems like forever ago.  I do not recognize that tiny, little baby that fit on my chest and slept for hours upon hours!  Six months ago when I was dealing with an 18 month old who just figured out playing with outlets is fun, packing a 4 bedroom house, and taking school full-time-I would have told you, “No more kids!  I don’t know..I will adopt a 4 year old maybe later on!” lol  But lately, looking at those adorable, precious moments with my baby who is not a baby anymore, I want another and for the first time understand why people have more than one!!  I use to think, “really!?”  Why would someone do this twice!! 😉

Anyways, tonight is a very relaxing night, even though I have mounds of homework to work on.  I have learned that it will get done, it always done, and that worry is a waste.  This is why I LOVE getting older, the wisdom, the relaxation that little by little comes with it.  I am just in love with learning, so I know it sounds crazy, but I love each birthday.  I look at it as a time to celebrate life, love, God, goals, and wisdom.  So tonight I put Ben to bed, which I am loving this age because lately he goes to sleep without a peep!  Been like a month now, and it is heaven.   It does exist you mommies out there.  Afterwards, I just sat on our coach and looked around my apartment, proud of my cleaning and organizing I’ve done.  Finally, I feel like I am at home.  It has been raining, and cool enough to open all the windows.  It is peaceful and for a moment I just sat there taking it all in.  It is so easy to forget to do that with a busy life, but I try reminding myself nothing else works right without moments of feeling good, feeling grateful.

Ben’s 2 year birthday party is Saturday!  I am excited and grateful for our friends who are coming to celebrate with us.  Cake, balloons, and toys oh my.  My baby is gonna be 2!!

Eric is in class two nights a week and he is starting to like it here in Japan.  You know the saying, “If mama ain’t happy nobody is?  I live by that, but it is also true if daddy ain’t happy nobody is!  We are both “fixed” signs-meaning stubborn and liking to settle in one place-good at obsessing over one project or staying in one place; meaning we both take a long time to adjust to a new place! lol  He got an A on his mid-term tonight and I am so proud of him.  He is excited and looking forward to a medical career one day.  He has the passion and spirit for it, that is for sure!  He is taking psychology (yay!) and biology.  Busy man.

I start teaching 1st grade Japanese students English tomorrow, volunteering with some other English speakers out in town, so I am excited.  I am thinking of doing daycare full time maybe from home because I have the energy for it and want to be with Ben during the day while still making money.  What could be better than having fun while making money?  I like to teach and lead kids, especially from my own home!  I am working tomorrow night for another English teacher, I look forward to teaching the Japanese children.  This week I did a few day long Compass Class which is a class to learn about all aspects of the Navy and meet other wives.  Fabulous, fun woman-it was so much fun and great information.   The Navy is amazing, their mission keeps us safe, and this class made me that much more proud of my sailor.  Next week I am excited for a new bible study class to begin.  The discussions are always inspiring and keeps my heart full of hope.  I could not ask for a better group of woman either.

Have a great weekend!!  What are your plans?  Missing everyone back home!  Love to you all,  Tessa

“Serenity in our lives rests upon our capacity to make peace with the inner struggles that devastate the calmness of our own hearts and minds.  Peace is not the absence of challenge or difficulty, but the release of judgment and fear.” ~C. Feldman

It's a Boy!

We got a kitty 2 nights ago!  We will name him soon.  He kept us up the first night moewing away!  But he is a cuddle bug and just the sweetest.  We adopted him from the Japan Cat Network and he is almost one years old this month.

Today it rained!!  Oh, how exciting! 🙂  For us anyways, I think it is the first time in at least one month!  August was sunny everyday and at least 100 out if the 80% humidity counts!!  So I am very, very excited (totemo tanoshimi) for autumn and cool weather.  I cannot wait to bundle up in sweaters and for Christmas to come.  Time to put the summer clothes away, be able to open the windows instead of blasting air conditioning, and to drive with the heat on instead of the air conditioning.  And how spoiled I know I am, because most of the Japanese will put away their fans and take out their box heaters.  They will still ride bikes or walk, rain or shine, but bundle up in rain coats or more sweaters.  I think they’ll be thankful for the hot heat to go away too, though.

The Japanese have Monday the 20th off of school for Grandparents Day!  Can you imagine that in the U.S.?  And the following Thursday off for the 1st day of Autumn!  How cool is that?  So my boss at the little schoolhouse called “Smiley Academy” is going to take me somewhere!  Another Japanese adventure 🙂  So I am excited-tanoshimi.  We share the same birthday-Nov. 12th-both think alike.

What have you been up to lately?  I like to hear from you all back in the states.  Eric climbed Mt. Fuji 2 Mondays ago!  August 30th, the last day to climb it of this year.  Mt. Fuji is only open to climb in July and August.  Check out our family photo site for more pictures of Fuji and us!  thefroomies.shutterfly.com I post all our pictures here and it is easy to order or post comments.  I appreciate the visits.

Eric climbed to the top in less than 6 hours-a GREAT time for his first time, he climbed with 2 other coworkers, but more than 40 people from our base took 3 buses there that day.  They left at 4am and came back around 9pm.  He climbed down (or ran down-lose gravel) in less than 3 hours!  Easier coming down obviously-but he was walking like an old man later than night and red as a lobster! 😉  I am very proud of him and he is very proud of his hiking stick with all 16 station stamps that are branded on it from each stop up the mountain.

He saw someone riding a donkey up the mountain-said those donkey’s are pure muscle!  😉  Forget climbing, I am totally taking one of those up next year!  I like that idea.  He said, “Cheater.”  Hey, it is not cheating if you are not competing 🙂  I am going for the view!  And maybe the spiritual awakening sounds nice too.

Mt. Fuji is a spiritual journey for many

Mt. Fuji is over 12,000 ft, his friend/coworker Justin enjoying the view.

“It only takes one to make a difference.” I use to question this saying because it seemed to me it must take much more than one to make any big changes in this world.  I think because I was much more negative, naive, and unequipped with the knowledge I have now.  I’d look at the news or hear depressing stories and think what could I ever do to change that?  Where is the hope?  I had to search to find the answer.  I think we are all here to change the world for the better in our own way.  To live God’s truth and inspire or help others around us suffer a little less, and be happy a little more.  Our responsibility as humans is to encourage or be encouraged.  To encourage takes courage, to be encouraged takes courage.  I realize now that we are all just one huge domino effect.  It only takes one.

I am the type of person that becomes very passionate about causes or problems that touch my heart, which are many. If I were to choose one, I would spend many hours and days devoted to it. My personality types (Scorpio & INFJ) nail it on the head when they say that I can easily become a workaholic or obsessive about one thing and that I need to do work that is meaningful and doesn’t interfere with my beliefs or values. Reading about my personality types really opened my eyes to how I am and why I am. I can spend hours writing or reading about just one subject or working on one project, and enjoy it! lol I know that for some personalities/people (like my husband) just the idea of that is revolting and tiring. But I thrive off being dedicated and driven to one project that has meaning behind it.

Studying history has opened my eyes also to what protests can do, and I realize even more that it does take just one voice, one person to stand up for what they believe is right. Then, more will speak their opinion and have the courage to stand by that one person who stood up.  My husband said to me just the other night about a discussion on adoption (My heart goes out to so many who need a home), “What will adopting one do? There are still so many.” And I told him right there how that the one we take in and love could go on to do great things.  I asked him what if it wasn’t for that one teacher who you looked up to, turned to as an adolescent who hated school?  Do you think you’d be going to college now?  It made him think.  It only takes one to make a difference.  I guess I should say, “it only takes one to START a difference.” More will always follow you if you are passionate and driven enough. Dr. Martin Luther King realized and actualized this truth. So did Mother Teresa, Gandhi, and other greats I cannot think of who changed the world in their own right. They were all believers too.

We can influence others.  Encourage.  Most of all we can listen.  The most beautiful God-given gift.  I have learned the hard way that we cannot force, we cannot push others to change or for the world to change.  Staying angry, sad, and hurt will not change anything except to make us feel worse about any problem big or small.  We need to use the passion as fuel to drive us towards solutions.  It takes negative emotion to initiate change, positive emotion to drive it, and courage to make it.  It is when we are solution focused, not problem focused, that our horizon’s expand and we are filled with courage-with the ability to make a difference.

September 1, 2010

Hakone-foothills of Mt. Fuji

So as I was sitting here eating a bowl of ramon tonight, it dawned on me that I am living in a foreign country.  I mean I have been here for exactly 4 months to this very day, but it has all been one big blur really.  And it just really sank in, I am living in Japan-eating ramon-and I can see a beautiful sunset of the mountains in the distance..in Japan.” I think they call it “culture shock” or something-wink, wink.  At an orientation our 2nd week here, they described the cycle of emotions one has after moving to another country and I understood I was experiencing the beginning part-the euphoric excitement of being in a new place-a sort of high on life.  That was me for sure.

We arrived May 5th, 2010.  I couldn’t forget that day.  Or should I say 2 days? That is how long it took us by plane.  A 2 hour drive from my dad’s home In LA to the airport in San Diego, a 2 hour wait, a 3 hour flight to Seattle, a 12 hour wait in the airport (thank the U.S. Armed Forces for a USO to sleep and eat at), and then a 14 hour flight with a layover in Alaska to Japan where we were the ONLY family (Seriously the only civilian and Ben the only child) on the flight!  But it was a good flight considering.

So that day, May 5th, we were so exhausted we didn’t know up from down, let alone to realize we were stepping foot into foreign soil and our perspectives ever changed.  Immediately upon stepping outside the airport, the jetlag and humidity hit us like a ton of bricks.  Ben was out cold in 2 minutes flat-as soon as the caravan that picked us up and moved past one car.  I wanted to, but was also too excited to sleep and wanted to pick the driver’s brain about Japan! He liked my enthusiasm and he said I’ll gain a lot from being here since I have an open-mind. The whole drive to the base, I watched in a total dream-like state as cars, trucks, and businesses passed us all in Japanese writing.  Bikes, pedestrians, and trains moving in every direction my eye could see.  I felt like Dorothy in the wizard of oz as she stepped out of the house and into a paradoxical, colorful world she couldn’t even really fathom until seeing it for herself.

Before coming to Japan, I spent a few months learning Japanese and reading up on Japan a little.  But nothing could have prepared me for the warmth and generosity I have felt ever since the day I arrived.  The people, the friends, the food, and the historical parts of Japan never seize to amaze me.  I am constantly learning, no day is boring, and I love that.  If I could share one part of this experience with my loved ones back home-give one piece of wisdom I have learned-it would be that everyday can be an adventure, and should be.  Japan has already shown me that life is meant to be dove into-we are not suppose to be sitting on the sidelines waiting for something bigger and better.

It is already right in front of us!  No matter where you are on this Earth, it is there for the taking, for the giving.  If you give, if you desire change-adventure-newness in your life, it is there and all you got to do is move.  God wants us to move.  And I know we moved literally around the world, but I don’t mean “move” in that way-all you got to do is make a move to add spice to life because it is everywhere if we search for it.  As the bible says, seek and you shall find.  I think most people live near a city, and I know nobody has tried everything there is to do or see in it.  Trying something new, moving somewhere new, is scary-for sure I have been very nervous.  Am I saying this in Japanese right?  Do I look like a fool?  I have never taught adults twice my age before, am I right for this job?  I hate speaking in front of a group, can I do this without panicking!? Seriously!  I face these questions almost daily here in Japan, but I moved with an attitude of “I can” and “I will” make this a great experience.  I will put myself out there.  And I can honestly say, that it is so very worth it to the point I feel is our purpose.

We cannot possibly do what we are meant to do on this Earth and be who we are meant to be, without moving from “comfortable” to uncomfortable and then when that “uncomfortable” becomes comfortable moving on to something bigger and better if we feel in our spirit God moves us to do so.  God has been calling me to move all these years, I’ve been afraid too many times to do it, but I did what I needed to do to build that inner strength and all the work has paid off.  I am moving forward-one step at a time-always reminding myself that life is not meant to be comfortable-that’s boring.  Getting comfortable being uncomfortable is when one can have real fun and joy in life.

So back to the moral of the story, I finally feel out of the euphoric trance I had when we first arrived, but I am still in love with this place.  However, I am in the next phase of living in a foreign country where I just am feeling a little deflated like a balloon that just had way too much fun at the party.  (That probably only made me laugh because I am beyond tired lol)  I am also missing my first love-the good ol’ USA.  We are missing the people who became like family to us living in Washington the last 4 years, and we miss our family back in good ol’ MinneSOta. 🙂  So all the emails, encouraging words, and care packages are very much appreciated.  Domo arigato gozimashita!  And I feel very fortunate to be surrounded by so many supportive people, and keep such a busy schedule that I don’t stay homesick for long.

Ja ne (Later), Tessa

“The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Hakone-August 16th

One Minute Sermon You Gotta See! Click here!  If you cannot access it here, go to my facebook page and it is there on my page or under videos.  This is so awesome!  It is funny and so true.

I am soo tired today!  So Ben and I are having a rainy-stay at home day.  The past 2 weeks have been mostly 95, humid and sunny.  That thick, Florida style humid air that makes it feel like you stepped into a steamy shower. That is why my awesome friend Masumi bought me this Japanese kiddie pool 🙂  Eric just had to grab the camera.  Dang him.

Being Goofy

One size fits all~!

Needless to say, we’ve been spending a lot of time in the air-conditioned house or air-conditioned car!  I feel lazy!  Any my poor ears do not like the combination either that are so prone to sinus infections/ear infections.

At Festival Sunday

How was everybody’s weekend?  Sunday we went to the festival in Yamato, next town over, to watch Bon Odori dancers.  The woman dress in Kimonos, but they are called Yakatas.  They danced to the beat of the drum  in very ancient dances.  I loved it!  Many woman from base preform all around Japan in different festivals during the summer, so we knew some people there.

Dancers from our Base

We took the train.  Ben gets so excited for the train!  He says, “Densha!”  That is Japanese for train, and he says, “Choo-Choo!!” Which my friend told me means sucking in Japanese! Like for breast-feeding.  We got a kick out of that. On our way walking back home from the train station, we passed by this bar/church! lol It is a bar downstairs, and a Church of Christ upstairs.  Only in Japan near a Navy base!!  I really got to get my camera charger!  Here is the sunset view from the other night from our apartment:

Tuesday last week, my friend Masumi took us to a Babies R Us here, and on Saturday I took Eric to see it.  This store is huge!  A great department clothing store, 100 yen shop, and a restaurant!

Watching Barney after BabiesRUs, was out in no time!

They also have a grocery store on the first floor.  I tell you Japan has more grocery stores than the United States has bars and churches.  They are on every corner, and if it is not a grocery store it is a mini-mart with fresh food and I even got chicken nuggets at one the other day.  I love it.  Farmers in Japan are paid far better than those in the United States.  Farmers are considered upper class in Japan, and have some of the largest houses and nicest cars.  Needless to say, the food is guaranteed to be fresh and is delicious here!  They take great pride in their food.

Babies R Us-Romon-Yummy! Oishii!

So that was our weekend in Japan.  Oh, and we got lost coming home from Babies R Us, but that in nothing new when driving in Japan!  The roads here are windy like a snake, hilly like San Fran, and narrow like Europe in spots.  The signs are in Japanese usually and we get distracted by the bicycles, pedestrians, and cool things to see!  20 million people in the size of Utah-you are gonna get lost, and if not lost on the road, lost in a sea of people! 🙂  But it is an adventure every time, and I love that.

Marina Del Ray, CA

I LOVE to get high!  Love it.  Always have.  Human instinct to do it.  Came born with it. As kids what gives us that high?  All that energy they run around with?  Kids are constantly dancing, running, singing, laughing…all of these bring more oxygen into the body.

Oxygen is not only a necessity to survive, but extra oxygen gives us a high on life!  As adults we can get it the same way that kids do.  As I think about it, the reason for most ailments adults get must come from a lack of oxygen.  How many doctors say the number one preventions are enjoying life and exercising?  Even certain foods, healthy foods, bring more oxygen and nutrition to our body, therefore giving us more energy.   Another reason kids can be so happy, so energetic, and even well behaved experts agree may come from good nutrition.  The brain and body are without a doubt connected, the chemistry of the brain and our body depend on how much oxygen we inhale and how much nutrition we digest.

It is so simple, SO simple, yet so difficult for us busy adults to DO!  We get so distracted with all our plans, our work, our obligations to family and friends we lose being mindful of the NOW, being mindful of our bodies and our thoughts.  Many doctors and experts believe we many physical aliments and mental illnesses are caused by stress, which can be alleviated by paying more attention to our body and our thoughts.  Therapists are there to help people learn to be more aware of their thoughts and body signals.  I love Buddhism for this same reason.  When I was applying the technique of being totally aware by practicing mantras such as, “Breathing in, I am aware I am breathing in”- it was so  transforming in each area of my life.  Buddhists practice, as well as people around the world, deep belly breathing and mindfulness practice, which researchers are connecting to better health and well-being.

Buddhism and eastern cultures are much more focused on living a simple life for this very reason.  They get it.  Simple=Satisfaction.    God really did create life to be simple and for us to enjoy it.  He left us all the tools to do so.  Laugh, love, and get high on living life!!

Simple living=satisfaction…breathing more=better life…Mindfulness=Merry times (my own mantras, pay no attention) 🙂

Oxygen Highs:

  • Dancing-shut the blinds, turn the music way up, and dance your heart out!!  Dance with you kids, in your car, with friends!
  • Be Silly– Be silly with your kids, family, friends-Act goofy a little, Color, Draw, Laugh at how bad it is!  Go to a Park, swing!
  • Laughing–Watch hilarious movies, home videos, have game night, find humor out of stressful situations, laugh at yourself
  • Exercising- You don’t need a membership, a treadmill, do 10 jumping jacks a day!  Or 5!  Just take 10 minutes to move!
  • Mindful Thinking- I am aware I am angry, I am calming down;  I am breathing in with my belly, I am breathing out..
  • Drinking Tea (many antioxidants and health benefits, why do you think Asians live the longest? 🙂
  • Eating fruits and vegetables (oxygen and antioxidants are within these foods)

Benefits of Oxygen/Exercise

  • Increased Mental Focus
  • Increased Self Esteem
  • Decreases Risks of Breast Cancer by 60%, and other cancers
  • Decreased risks of Heart Disease and many other organ diseases
  • Better Sleep

Benefits of Laughing!! Ha, ha, ha! :O

  • Strengthens Immune System
  • Boosts Energy
  • Diminishes Pain or Decreases
  • Protects from Stress
  • Better Sleep
  • Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
  • Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
  • Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
  • Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

Great Sites, Great Ideas:

http://helpguide.org/life/humor_laughter_health.htm

http://stress.about.com/od/stresshealth/a/laughter.htm

http://www.busywomensfitness.com/exercise-benefits.html

http://www.how-to-meditate.org/breathing-meditations.htm/

http://www.stress-relief-exercises.com/deep-breathing-exercises.html

Eric said this was the best birthday in a long time!  We threw a BBQ party for his birthday party and I invited my Japanese class-adult students onto base.  We had to meet them at the front gate and get a visitor pass for them.  It was so fun!  My students are older than us, so one of my student’s is so funny and kept saying, “So YOUNG!  You are so young!”  She makes me laugh.  They are just so generous, so gracious, and so warm-hearted.  They all brought some Japanese cooking or fruit to share.  One man I teach came from work, he works everyday of the week lifting boxes in this hot, humid heat.  He had to take a bus, a train, and then walk from the train station to the base.  He was tired, but nonetheless in great spirits for us.  My students really surprised me by buying the whole family-Eric, me, and Ben-yakatas, which are Japanese-style summer outfits that are worn at festivals or for birthdays.  The kids yakatas can be worn at anytime.

It was unexpected and funny!  I really appreciated their gifts.  The Japanese just impress me every time I meet with them and inspire me to appreciate life all the more.  If you befriend the Japanese, they will befriend you two times more.  This is inspiring.  Japan has the lowest rate of crime, so they are very trusting.  I like the sense of unity and generosity here.  Many of Eric’s coworkers came, and everyone made it a great time.  Ben had a blast, running around, eating ice and frosting, saying “domo” (thank you) and staying up way past his bedtime!  He is quite the goofball and talker like his parents.

My friend Misa and Ben

I had 5 woman from my class, and 3 Japanese girl friends all fussing over my yakata and helping me get into it! Domo!

The yellow belt and the bow in the back had many ties.  Usually, the belt is thicker, so they put part of the gift box under it to hold it up!

Everyone took their camera phones out and we have many photos!  We felt special 🙂

Family Pose

Yazi feeding Ben Frosting! He woulda sat there forever!

A picture says a 1,000 words, doesn’t it?  I love this!  Cracks me up.  I love dogs.  Reminds me of my expression when I am in the car with grandma.  Just kidding, grandma.  {wink, wink}.

August, 2nd 2008, I arrived with my mom in Bethesda, MD in my husband’s hospital room just minutes before his 24th birthday ended.  He was so happy, I’ll never forget the grin on his face.  But my joy was bittersweet because my baby was injured and if he was to have surgery or be okay I wasn’t sure.   For the past 3 weeks, he had been overseas in a German hospital-only one week after deploying there.  He had been dehydrated, exhausted, and was ordered to lift a 700pound air conditioning unit with one other guy.  Shortly after, he had the worst headache of his life.

This picture was taken in Bethesda, MD, days before Eric’s brain surgery to remove a blood clot.  He was medivaced here from Germany.  I was 5 months pregnant with Benny boy.  His name was Herbie at the time 😉  Here we are sitting on the beautiful patio at the Fisher House-A full size mansion looking house for soldiers and family members who are in the hospital. A wonderful, healing place, the Fisher House is.  It is all donated, the house, the furniture, toys, books, kitchen supplies and food, everything donated.  It is a full size home with everything you need.  About 14 rooms in each home, 2 homes on this base.   This hospital is called the National Navy Medical Center (NNMC) and we were thankful some of the best neurosurgeons in the country removed his clot.  They were very kind, very attentive, and above all they were calm and steady-which calmed both our nerves.   Despite Eric’s horrible headaches, my birthday boy was a soldier through and through.  He has the spirit of a soldier, the heart of gold.  Even in this circumstance, Eric was optimistic, telling jokes, and did not complain or say why me.   I love this about him and he inspires me to be a better person, because I will be complaining if I even stub my toe or get a cold!

Eric’s first birthday in the Navy was spent in Pensacola Florida, and I arrived just before the end of that birthday as well!  My brother helped me pack up all I could fit in my little 4-door 84′ Buick, and take a road trip and move into a tiny apartment outside base.  Fun times.  Then, his last birthday we were unpacking for our 4th time in Anacortes, WA!

So this birthday, he is on duty! lol  But nonetheless, he is home, he is here, and he is healthy.  I am throwing a big BBQ party with all our new friends, our new Navy family, and some of my Japanese students this weekend.

So hats off to you, sweetie, I hope this is the best birthday you have ever had.  I love you.  You have been through so much, you have accomplished so much, and because you were born this world is a better place.  You are officially, the OLDEST 26 year old I know, but so young at heart.  To 74 more years!! 🙂  And to I hope to many more together, cuz baby, you and me are stuck like glue.

I adore Sugarland, and my mom thought of us upon hearing their new song, Stuck like Glue, and it really is a perfect fit-every word-for us is true-just when I may feel like giving up or we might not make it, you make me smile and I am in love all over again.  Never givin’ up on you, we are stuck like glue!

Stuck Like Glue

I keep a journal for my baby to give him when he is older, here is one of my last two entries:

Feb. 23rd, 2010

Sometimes I see you change right before my eyes.  And you’re only 16 months old.  Sometimes I look at you, and I just know you’ve matured a little more, grown a little more, figured out the world around you a little more.  It is just amazing.  And for the next 20 years-actually the rest of my life I will watch you in amazement as you discover life and grow.  You’ll physically stop growing in your teen years.  Your brain they say, will be fully developed in your mid-20’s.  Although teens and young adults think they know it all.  Some are very convincing of it too.  I admit, at age 24 when I had you, that I didn’t know what I was doing, but I tried to act like it!  It hasn’t been until you came along for me that I feel and see the world so much clearer.  Love, experience, and faith give you clarity if you open your heart to know the truth.  I love this quote that says, “If you listen to your mind you hear one thing, if you listen to your heart you hear another.”

I know spiritually, emotionally, intellectually you will continue to amaze us all our lives.  I know dad and I will continue to grow too, as we learn so much from you and life.  I never want to stop learning.  Never stop learning, and never give up on your dreams.

“You know why the Indian Rain Dance always worked?  Because they kept dancing!”  Never stop.

Friday July 22nd, 2010

Tonight was one of those nights where I just rocked you as long as I could.  Close to my heart was your heart as you laid on my chest, you head resting on my shoulder.  You’re so tall now that your legs dangled between mine.  I told you how I remembered just yesterday rocking you to sleep in one arm, wrapped up in this same hospital blanket that now just covers half of you.  I read in my class studies today that the seven caring habits of a therapist consist of: listening, accepting, trusting, respecting, and negotiating differences.  You are all of these, pure love sugar coated with a sweet smile and killer blue eyes.  I whispered to you how time stood still until you appeared.  Because of you, I am living a new life, a richer life.  You make time fly by because I enjoy every minute watching you grow.  I see the world with new eyes and new ears.  Your eyes and your ears.  As you learn, I learn all over again adding richness and wisdom to all I knew already.  I gain so much love, and I am so, so grateful for you.  You are one of those precious gems in life that can bring tears of joy to my face.

We all have different opinions, different religions, different viewpoints and different beliefs.  But to me, this is wrong.  I just read an article in the Smithsonian titled, “The Best Bull Ever?”, and while I respect that this is okay with some people like this author who made it sound peachy and a blessing.  I have just the total opposite feeling.  This article was maddening to me.

This article was about an inside look into the life of a Texas cattle breeder who “hit the jackpot” with one Red Angus he named “Revelation” who sold for $12,000 (yes, just one bull) and top breeding bulls can sell for up to $100,000.  The rancher has rights to half of this bull’s semen because it’s genetics are so desired he went on to produce more bulls with it.  This Christian cattle rancher in Texas creates much of the best angus steaks and hamburger American’s eat today.  Most angus ranches only have 50 heads, he has over 2,000 heads.

His ranch artificially inseminates 400 cows a day, yet he is uncertain about cloning his prize bull (which is sure to bring him A LOT of money for it has the best genetics that ranchers want to buy from him to produce, slaughter, and sell) because “there’s the question of playing God”.  Really?  In my opinion, artifically insemination is playing God, so that instead of a cow giving birth once a year it can have 25 a year!!  And the way they talk about animals as if they are machines.  I think we need to have much more respect for the animals who give their lives and be more grateful for the food we eat.  She writes, “AbiGrace can crank out 25” a year versus the natural way of only one.  How is this NOT playing God as well?  And the article ends that he did go on to clone this bull, or attempt to.  The profits are just too great to say no.  He is too comfortable with the money he makes, the wrangler jeans he wears, and supplying the “best” meat he can to American’s.

What have we come to America? It is greed, not need.  The bible, God, says the animals are for us as we need them, not for us to indulge ourselves to obesity by mass producing animals.  God, as far as I believe, did not put the animals on this Earth for our financial profit.  This “cowboy” must have missed that part of the bible.

What do you think?  Is it okay to clone animals for eating?  Is it okay to artificially inseminate animals so many times as they are only birthing machines?  Do we need to eat as much meat as we do?  The only reason they produce so much meat, is because we want it, and they are making huge wealth from it.  The only reason meat is so cheap in America, is because it is mass produced at unsanitary levels.  This is why we see so many outbreaks of e-Coli and salmonella.  Also why so many slaughter-house workers are seen in the ER’s each year.  And also why, heart attacks and disease are a leading cause of death in the United States.

Food, Inc.  Documentary. It Speaks the unheard Truth. Live in the Truth.  Be a Voice for the Voiceless animals and workers in our nation.

Just wanted to share some of the awe-inspiring quotes that I have collected from all over the place.  I love quotes.  If you know me, you know I am an all-time quote fanatic and if I see a good one I got to swipe it.  Even if I just hear a line someone says that is inspiring, I stop traffic and write it down.  I have literally pulled over the car before because of something someone on the radio said! Facebook users, watch out, you are my greatest source.  A nerd? Yes.  Crazy? Maybe.  I am a psychology major…!

So here are just a few from my stash.  My peace, happiness, and love be with you and you with them.  The wisdom and grace of God  is always there for you to have.

“You can change your life by changing the language in your head. Language is power.” My Clinical Psychology Professor, Dr. Wallace

“The past is gone, the future has now arrived, only the present is significant. Anxiety is the gap between now and later.” -Professor Wallace

“[Therapists] If we make life-oriented choices, radiate a joy for life, & are real in our relationships with our clients, we can motivate them to develop these same life-enhancing qualities…we affirm that changing is worth the risk and the effort, we hold out hope to our clients that they can change…as therapists we serve as models for our clients.” -Counseling & Psychotherapy, Dr. Gerald Corey

“The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

“If you stay in one place long enough, you become that place.” ~Rocky Balboa

“Our single goal is to get people talking openly and without shame about mental illness…Say it loud, say it again and again until it has lost its power over us. Make the unspeakable speakable.” ~Glenn Close

Never look down on anybody unless you’re helping him up. -Jesse Jackson

“You never stop loving somebody, you just start loving somebody else.” ~Big and Rich

“About all you can do in life is be who you are. Some people will love you for you. Most will love you for what you can do for them, and some won’t like you at all.” -Rita Mae Brown

Friendships double your joy, and divide your sorrows.

Those whose minds are shaped by selfless thoughts
give joy when they speak and act.
Joy follows them like a shadow
hat never leaves them.
~Buddha

Life is short, break the rules,
forgive quickly,
kiss slowly,
love truly,
laugh uncontrollably,
and never regret anything that made you smile.

“We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.”
~Mother Teresa

“Love is the answer, but while you are waiting for the answer, sex raises some pretty good questions” ~Woody Allen

Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.” ~Einstein

“You never know how strong you are until STRONG is the only choice you have left” ~unknown

“Success unshared is a failure. One of the best highs in life comes from giving without expecting anything in return.” ~Paul Mitchell and Patron creator

“A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.”
~Proverbs 17:22

“Long before we decided that cows needed bells, and goats needed tags, long before we decided that dogs needed mittens and cats need pedicures, long before we decided that monkeys ate cheese, whale skin made good shoes and polar bears needed our help, all these creatures survived. Why don’t we just let them be?” -Dr. J, my friend Julius

“Love your life! And if you don’t, find a way to change it to a life you love.  Die in fear of life… or live in love with life!” ~Dr. T (me)

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.  It’s not just in some of us; it’s in all of us.  And when we shine our own light, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.  As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” -Nelsen Mandela 194 Inaugural speech

Temple..

“Love your life! And if you don’t, find a way to change it to a life you love.  Die in fear of life… or live in love with life!” ~Dr. T

Thank you, Japan.  I am loving life in a way I never have before.  I was so bored in the States (my fault, yes), but now I am so busy I got to schedule in downtime!  I love it!  Stepping outside the gate can be an adventure everyday, and I am making the most of it!

We have seen Odawara Castle, Kamakura Temple, and the IKEA in Yokohoma City.  We have seen the Army base in Zama and the other Navy base in Yokosuka.  I am preparing to climb Mt. Fuji (Fuji san) in a few weeks, and am very excited!  It has inspired me to drop and do 20 every chance I get, and to work my abs!  I know it is going to be a physical challenge and that is what is exciting!  But also the view I heard is nothing but spiritually breath-taking.

I have been teaching English a few times a week.  The Japanese are eager to learn English, and very good at it.  Our languages are extreme opposites, but they impress me every time with their knowledge of not only our language, but our culture.  I know so little about theirs, but am eager to learn.  I teach an adult group, very fun and laid-back conversation class.  Then, I am teaching a high school girl and a group of hyper, but attentive elementary students once a week.  I am also volunteering once a week at an elementary school close-by.  It is 2 big 5th grade classes that  I and 2 others help teach English to by playing games and group practice.

I plan to take more pictures soon to share.  Here are some recent ones.

Unexpected Hike to Kamakura Temple-Money Washing

Holy Smoke, literally! 🙂

Here I am making a wish~washing the money in this spring water is considered good luck and if spent that day will multiply your wealth.

We washed our money with this spring water which is one of the 5 most famous springs in Kamakura

Our friend Misa did tattoo stickers

The Navy put on one hell of a 4th of July for us overseas.  The band Blue October preformed.  One band member preformed a beautiful violin solo to our National Anthem as the fireworks went off.  We had a great firework show.

The humidity was thick and we were all sweaty, but that didn’t stop the fun.  Sake (rice liquor) in my cup, many enjoying beer.   Ben was running around waving to everyone or holding onto me as the fireworks went off.  The Japanese love our cheap American pizza, so their was a food stand with pizza boxes a mile high!  The line was a mile long to get some!

The smoke in the background is from 6 huge grills

Ben didn't like the tattoo so much!

My friend Masumi's kids and Ben

Japanese were free to join our celebration and there were a good few hundred on base.  My friend Masumi and family joined us.  It was very hot and humid, but a good time.  I hope everyone else had a great 4th of July!  I know most of my family was celebrating at my cousin Jill’s wedding reception and had a blast.  Write more as soon as I have an adventure and pictures!

What image comes to your mind when you hear the word Christian?  Who and what has impacted your perception of what it means to be a Christian and the religion of Christianity?  I know there was a period in my life where I went away from the Church and questioned all I ever knew, tried other avenues, prayed for real life answers..and got them.  Seek and you shall find.

time.com/ (article called I want My Christianity Back)

This article is awesome and right on!!  The problem is, many Christians do not speak AND act in the manner Christ calls us to act and speak-we might do one, but not the other.  Or do one today and the other tomorrow.  I notice many Christians walk the walk, but don’t talk the talk.  I can be one of them on my bad days.  Pharisee or true Christian?  Do we just wear the hat, but not the heart?  I use to.  Now everyday, I put on my battle uniform, and fight, fight, fight to change so my heart matches my head so to speak.  I am a determined Jesus follower, hear me roar!  Change takes time.  Jesus is worth it 🙂

Our actions speak SO much louder than our words.  At times.  It really depends on the situation. But most of the time, i would say we need BOTH just like James says in the new testament.

17 So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.

18 Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”

19 You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God.[f] Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. 20 How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?