Friday, December 30, 2016

Final thoughts as we bid adieu to 2016

Circumstantially, 2016 was the year from hell. Seriously. Between my husband and I, we lost 20  people, many of whom were good friends or family members. We attended 13 funerals, several of them requiring trips out of town. Plus, in June, my husband suffered another heart attack, albeit minor. The emotional toll was daunting. Work-wise, my writing, editing, and voice-over business was not as busy as in prior years, particularly during the last several months of the year. As a result, when offered a full-time position running a home companionship company, I accepted, creating a brand new stress on us as a couple. I believe it was a good decision, but change is stressful and I have not worked a full-time job outside of the home since 1982. Yeah. Big change.

As I look back over the year, my first reaction well might be, "2016 sucked." But that's not a proper evaluation. Instead, I look back and feel peace.

How? you may be wondering.

This picture says it all. Above all else, 2016 proved to me once again that God is faithful. He does not control the circumstances around us. He is not a puppeteer, after all. But what He does is offer a peace that passes all understanding. A peace that dwells deep within our hearts and when we push aside all the crap, the garbage, the grief, and all the disappointments, it shines through and brings us joy. Yes, joy

That, my friends, is the message of 2016 for me. It wasn't about what I've lost. It was about what I gained through Christ, who dwells within me. As we enter a new year, my prayer is that I will be a faithful servant and shine His light wherever I go, regardless of the circumstances. Will I fail at times? Undoubtedly. But He'll be there to pick me up and renew the spark within me until it shines brightly once again.

May you rest in His peace as the year comes to a close and may His blessings be upon us all in 2017.


Friday, December 23, 2016

From darkness to light, PTSD to joy

I'm sitting at my desk in my new office preparing to head out for the holiday weekend. I have to admit it -- I'm tired. This month has been a whirlwind of activities and emotions and my mind and body are fighting me at this point. And as of right now, I've not wrapped a single present.

This past Saturday, we had some things happen that triggered a bit of the PTSD that still lingers from my husband's death in 1989 when there was a chemical explosion/flash fire where he worked. Since then, I struggle with fireworks and anything that resembles an explosion. 

On Saturday night, around 9:00, I was in my kitchen when I heard an explosion. We lost power immediately. Then, as I looked out the back window, a second explosion. Then from the front of the house, two more. The house shook. Light bulbs exploded. Fear gripped me. I was terrified. Power lines were coming down and transformers were on fire. Bill and I didn't know what would happen next. I grabbed a flashlight and went up to my office where I turned off my power strips, wondering if I was too late to save my equipment. Bill turned off everything else, just in case we had a power surge if the power was restored. We didn't have to worry about that, however, because the neighborhood remained dark and cold throughout the night. For hours, firefighters trudged up and down our steps, checking everything to ensure our house wasn't at risk for catching on fire.

The next morning, I went to my daughter's for the day, curling iron and makeup in tow. Bill remained at the house hoping something would be resolved. The electric company gave us varying reports, which included the need for everyone to have their houses checked by electricians before they would turn the power back on. Bill called someone from the Yellow Pages who offered 24/7 one-hour emergency service. He said he might be able to send someone out, but it would be tough since it was a Sunday. Umm... what does 24/7 mean exactly? Then he proceeded to say the cost for the service call would be between $500 and $1,000 and went on to explain what would be needed (new breaker box, new lines, etc. -- this without seeing what was wrong, just based on the information my husband provided). The total cost would be around $5,000. Bill called me. He was sick. 

I proceeded to put our dilemma on Facebook and one of our friends from church contacted me and asked what he could do. I said, "Unless you can restore our electricity, not much." Shortly thereafter, Bill received a phone call from him, informing him that an electrician was on his way. End result of everything, power was back on that night and the cost to us was zero. 

In the meantime, some of our neighbors did not fare as well and were without power for a few days. Our main breaker blew, which saved much of our equipment. We lost some Christmas lights, a television, some light bulbs, and our garage door opener. We were lucky. Others lost computers, printers, tankless hot water heaters, and more. For us, it was mostly an inconvenience.

Except for that whole PTSD thing for me. I'm edgier and cry easily right now. I'm tense. But I know it will all ease up with time. 

Yesterday, I helped a single dad who was having a heart attack. He was frightened and as we waited for the ambulance, he kept saying, "I'm too young for this." Yes, he is. And it served as another reminder about the brevity and fragility of life. I can only pray he's doing fine now.

As we approach the celebration of the Christ child's birth, let's focus on how that one event changed history. God became man and lived with us. He's not a distant CEO who dwells in a mansion and makes decisions that affect people's lives and families without any concept of what their lives are like. No. He dwelt among us. He felt our pain and our loss and our fears and our temptations. He chose to walk the road with us. The road that ultimately led to the cross where he chose to die for us in order for us to live. Christmas may be the beginning of the story, but it is in no way the end. And for that reason, and that reason alone, I have cause to rejoice. Despite my pain and my loss and my fears and my temptations. I choose joy, even if there are tears running down my cheeks. Joy transcends emotions.

Wishing you the peace that passes all understanding during this holy season. 

Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Taking the sting out of your holiday budget with Groupon

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All opinions, however, are my own.

Image courtesy of George Hodan

It's the holiday season and, as mentioned in yesterday's post, I am so far behind. I need another month or so to get ready. Really, I do.

One of the problems with waiting this long to go Christmas shopping is that it's hard to save money. In the rush, we tend to spend too much, don't we? That's one of the reasons I love Groupon! Groupon coupons truly help us save money at a time when many of us spend way too much.

But it's not just Christmas presents we need at this time of the year. There are other things to consider as well.

One of the things I tend to put off and need to rush around to get is photos to include in my Christmas cards. Others I know wait too long to get their photo cards printed up. That's why the current coupons Groupon is offering for Target Photo are fantastic. Saving money, remember?

And, with all the rushing around and missed hours of sleep, it's super important to keep up with our vitamins and supplements so we don't end up really sick. With the Groupon's for Vitamin Shoppe, we can save money (there's that theme again) on some of the things that are vital for our health. Especially when we're not sleeping or eating well.

At the end of each busy, busy day, or at the end of the busy, busy holiday season, if you're anything like me, you truly appreciate sitting down with a nice glass of wine. Groupon has you covered there, too. At, you can order wine for yourself or send a bottle or two to a friend or family member. And right now, there's free shipping, so it's definitely a win-win. Groupon savings and free shipping. The holiday season is looking better and better, don't you think?

Hurry on over to Groupon and take advantage of their countless saving coupons! You'll be glad you did!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A note to the Green Grandma community

I've been away from the blog for awhile, disappearing without much of an explanation. For that, I apologize. The thing is, this year has been a struggle. It started off in January with four deaths (family and friends) within a week or so. February started off with the death of my cousin. And the hits kept coming. A few weeks ago, my beloved uncle Gil died. He was #18 of our 2016 deaths. And he was the last of my Mom's brothers and sisters to die. Now they're all gone and that's hit me especially hard. Even now, as I write this, tears are streaming. But it gets worse.

Image courtesy of George Hodan

Two Sunday's ago, we received a phone call from our niece. She called to tell us her brother died suddenly that day. We reeled from the news. After all, he was vibrant and alive just hours before. But then his heart betrayed him and he was gone.

We traveled to Ohio on Friday for the viewings. There were approximately 650 people at the afternoon visitation and probably just as many in the evening. On Saturday, we buried our nephew, and tried to offer comfort to his wife, four children, and his parents -- my husband's brother and his wife. It was brutal.

On top of all the grief, my life has changed in another way. A couple of weeks ago, I accepted the offer from my daughter, Bethany, and her husband, Tom, to run their company, Dignity Home Care Professionals, here in Pittsburgh. What that means is that I have very little time on my hands these days. Instead of crossing the hall from my bedroom to my office in the morning, I now have to make myself presentable and head into a different office about 5 miles away. I have to clean snow off my car. I have to talk to people (not easy for me in the morning). And, occasionally, I have to act as a caregiver for our elderly clients. I'm busy training and learning the ropes. I'm busy recruiting new clients and caregivers. Plus, I haven't abandoned my writing, editing, and voice-over business, so I'm also coming home and tending to that. Mercifully, I don't have a heavy workload right now for Speechless, but that could change at any time. While I'm not actively pursuing new work, I am trying to keep my regular clients happy.

And, of course, it's Christmastime, the busiest time of the year! I've not shopped, wrapped, or written a single card. And, let's face it, some of this year's cards are going to be tough to write.

Whew. Sound exhausting? It is. So, while I don't mean to neglect you, I just haven't had time to devote to you as I once did. I suspect that will change as I adjust and work my way through the grief of 2016. 

In the meantime, I'll be posting an occasional sponsored post, guest post, or contest. Just to keep things going. 

I'm wishing you peace as you navigate the holiday season. I treasure you and appreciate all your support.

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