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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

My Post Allume World (Part 2)

More from Allume...
This is the print from Be Small Studios that I received in my gift bag. 
I'm convinced that God likes to show up when you least expect Him. Perhaps He does this to prove to us that we are not in control.

Friday afternoon, I found my friend Tobi in the hallway, in between sessions.
I had spent the last two sessions sitting on the floor. I don't have the greatest back, and I was wearing low-rise jeans, so all I was really looking for in my final session of the day was a chair.

We found a session that neither one of us were planning to attend, and there were many seats, so - we sat.

The session was okay.
But what happened afterwards was the reason we were there.

I met my new friend Stacy, from Texas. Stacy and I had connected on Twitter, just before Allume. Stacy has a heart for a community that is near and dear to my heart - wounded warriors and their families. She lives in San Antonio, and works at a hospital in hospice care. One of her friends is a newly injured wounded warrior. Tobi also shares this heart for wounded warriors.

We three were one, as we talked about wanting to help these young men and women and their families, after they return from war.  It was so cool!

Now, on to Saturday.
The morning keynote was more from Darren Rowse, aka Problogger. It was called "From Little Big Things Grow." It was so neat hearing the stories about Darren's journey.  And there were some great nuggets of wisdom in his talk, such as:

-"If you change one reader's life, small may be big enough."
-"Aim to have a big impact on those you already reach."
-"Look for sparks." (what gives you energy, where is your momentum growing, what is God prompting you to do?)

My favorite part of his talk was the illustration he shared about mud cake. He talked about sliding his fork through this perfect, moist, chocolatey goodness, for a bite. Then seeing a little girl attack a piece of cake, sans fork.  He challenged us to go at it that way.

John 6:57: "Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me."

Late morning I went to a session about building your personal brand, by Stephanie Bryant. I was one of three ladies in the room with the infamous blue bubble necklace.
It's a blogger's necklace. I first heard about it on a blog!  I also saw a gray version of this same necklace in the room.

I sat on the floor and took good notes. There was TONS of good information about being real online, and how people can tell when you're faking it.  I left patting myself on the back. I'm pretty good at this already! Yay for me for stretching my authenticity muscle regularly! I downloaded Stephanie's book to my Kindle, and I'm going to come back to it and dream a little about a new look for the blog.

I went to a session all about ebook publishing, which completely intimidated me, and made me realize I need to wholly re-package the ebook I wrote this Summer, and I think I'm going to have to outsource the technical part of it to my husband, because I just can't deal with technical stuff. I'm not wired for that. I'll be coming back to that project after the election.

At lunch, I had one of the highlights of my weekend. I met Amy from Blogging with Amy! She puts together these really easy-to-understand tutorials. My blog (and marriage) would not be what it is today without Amy's help! Such a blessing to meet her and hear about why she does what she does - to help people get their stories out there! So neat.

Saturday afternoon, I went to a panel titled "So, You Want to get Published."
It was the scariest hour of my recent life.

I got a seat, thankfully. On the very front row, right by the podium. I felt like I was either the biggest nerd in the class, or late for church and had to sit in the front row, because that was all that was left.

There were three publishers, a book agent, and a published author on the panel.  They were not generally very optimistic. I'm telling you - they were scary.
I wrote down pretty much everything they said, even though in my mind I was so scared, you would have thought the people on the panel were Jason, Freddy Kreuger and the the Big Bad Wolf.

I asked the last question. I asked about writing a memoir. Because that's what I want to write, but I keep reading everywhere that writing a memoir right now is a horrible idea, unless you're well known. Really well known - like it will only work if you're the President of the United States or something.

But you know what? They were actually encouraging! They said there is always room for good writing, unique ideas, and anything with a "wow" factor. Okay. So let me get right on that!

I spoke with two of the publishers after the panel and they were interested in what I had to say!! I had NO saliva in my mouth, and I was having flashbacks of my lips sticking to my upper gums during cheerleading tryouts in middle school. (Your mental image here should be of Fire Marshal Bill from "In Living Color," that's what I'm talking about as far as dry mouth goes.)

Later that night, on my way to the bathroom, I randomly ran into the book agent. We had a great conversation. Needless to say, I'm SLIGHTLY excited about the possibilities, and I know what my big project will be for 2013!

The number one takeaway for me from the publishing panel: "Every generation needs it's own voices." That hit me. Because I feel like so many stories that are similar to my own have been told before. Even more dramatic stories. Stories that were well written. And yet, here I am, with this dream.

I'm so afraid.
But, I'm trying to ignore the fear.
Because usually fear paralyzes you.
And there's a reason you're afraid anyway.
I think when you're afraid to do something, you're probably safe to assume that means you're supposed to do it.

One more takeaway from that publishing panel: "Steel your hearts if you're going to get into this business."

Great.
Deep breath.

By the time for the big keynote of the Allume weekend - Saturday night - I was just completely spent. Emotionally and spiritually. Physically, not so much, but the first two had me pretty fatigued.  I took great notes when Ann Voskamp was speaking, but honestly - I don't remember much.

I do remember that she had us type a note in our cell phone of what our fear was - and then we held those out, and she talked about a "City on a Hill," and then we sang a praise and worship song. I could tell it was powerful. But, like I said, I was just spent.

Allume was an INCREDIBLE experience. I'm so glad I went. Even if it was 10 days before Election Day. I have so many goals to work on as soon as we have a new President! Most importantly, I left with purpose, passion, and feeling closer to God.  Eager to get home to my man - and dream together about the future.

Monday, October 29, 2012

My Post Allume World (Part 1)

Greetings from my couch, where I'm snuggled up with a loaner laptop, a snoring Puggle, and the falling-apart blanket that I love and refuse to let go of, because it once belonged to my best friend Ann who I miss dearly.

I've been working from home today, hunkered down and snuggled up during Hurricane Sandy.
Our power has flickered on and off but it's on now and we have lights and electronics and the dishwasher and dryer are working dilligently to finish their jobs before the inevitable occurs.

I drove home from Allume the other night with tears in my eyes. Good, hot, salty slow moving tears.  Tears of praise. My smile, the part of my brain that is used for small talk, and my feet were exhausted. But my heart was spilling over with encouragement, my mind was busy with ideas and a bunch of new checklists, and my purse was filled with business cards of nearly 100 ladies I met.

When I first arrived and walked into the ballroom for dinner on Thursday night, I was overwhelmed, not in a good way. I was intimidated that there were so many other ladies out there with blogs, doing what they believe what God has called them to do. I snuck in, made a quick friend, and tried not to drop any food in my lap as I ate, talked, and passed my business card around. I went to bed humbled. In a good way.

Friday was full of wisdom.
It started with Jessica Heights, who I think I may now be borderline stalking through her blog, Instagram and Twitter. Jessica is not a published author. (Yet. I have a good feeling about this one.) But she really, really wants to be. She shared her heart, "Just because you want something doesn't mean it will happen. It might not be in God's plan."

My heart sank.
I kept listening, though, soaking her talk in.

"There is enough room in God's kingdom for all of us to do something amazing."

I was encouraged, and really feeling that this is exactly where God has me.

I sat on the floor behind Darren Rowse (a.k.a. @Problogger, he's kind of a big deal, people) as he gave his "Advanced Blogging Tips" session.  I took notes like I was going to have a final on this stuff the next day. He is a marketing ninja. And a passionate, all-around great guy.
My big take-away from Darren: "Do good on your blog." 

Then I went to Trina Holden's session about being a smaller blogger. I'd soaked up all of Trina's words in her blog series about this even before Allume, so I knew I would love this.

Trina talked about battling pride as a blogger, and how important it is to "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God..." Matthew 6:33.  She shared about going deep instead of wide. And I was reminded that being able to answer every e-mail, and read every comment, and pray for my readers by name is such a BLESSING. And that "success" is not measured by numbers, but by impact.

She had us do this exercise where I traced my hand, and I wrote a reader's name on each finger. I took it to the next step and also wrote the person's name that that reader is connected to, and I was FLOORED that I had five names come to me in five seconds.
And they aren't just names.  Heather, Melanie, Gentrie, Melissa and Bethany are all real people that I've had the privilege of really connecting with. Some in real life, all via text message or phone call or private message. I love these women and pray for them and I know about their lives and they know about mine.  We all have a husband/boyfriend/fiancee who is either a quadriplegic or a paraplegic. We are sisters.

That traced hand, right there, is what Love Like This Life is all about, people.
I want to love these ladies like I know I can, so that they can love their men the way they can. I want them to experience love like God can give them.

After Trina's session, I had the privilege of meeting her, and getting a hug and a quick pic. Trina has been the inspiration behind me putting together an e-book that you will SOON hear about!

Trina's wisdom: "Focus on depth over width, service over fame, to bless rather than impress, and seek kingdom impact over numbers. In God's kingdom, there are no smaller bloggers."

All of this does not even include Friday night's keynote, people. I'm telling you, I am maxed out with wisdom and enocuragement form this conference! More tomorrow.



Thursday, October 25, 2012

This is Only the Beginning


I am just one of many. And that's okay.

I'm about to go to bed in my hotel room here in Harrisburg, PA. The first night of the Allume Conference was great.

I heard two great talks. One from Phil Vischer about laying your dream down before God and letting HIM do with it what He wants. He might want to kill it. Do I have the faith to lay it down knowing that?  The honest answer: No. I dream big things for this blog. And I believe those dreams that are in my heart are born of what God wants to do.  But, I do need to fully acknowledge that this is not about me. It's about Him. And it's about you. And it's about how our lives can be used - in some way - to bless you, or minister to you.

I want you to know that you are loved by God.
Many of you found this blog because you have a similar circumstance to us. You're in a wheelchair, or you love someone who is.
You know this life.
It can be hard.
It can be easy, when you're on auto-pilot.
It can be bad.
It can be good!
But - it is certainly unique.

I remember getting used to this life. I remember how hard it was. I struggled, and I felt SO alone. I didn't know anyone else who was doing what I was doing and I really needed to know someone else - someone real - so that I could know that I could do this! That's what I want this blog to be for you.

You will find real stories here. Real life. It's not always easy. But we have such an opportunity to experience teamwork and true love in a way that I just don't know if other people can understand.

The rest of you just read this blog because you're family - or friends. And we love you! I hope you don't ever get sick of this, or feel excluded. We want to bless you, too. Or, just make you laugh, or sigh, because you know us. You're probably all, "here she goes again..." when I post those dramatic posts! Thank you for always reading what we write.

The other talk, from Sarah Mae, was about living your life. Your real life. Not being so consumed by blogging and social media and all things online so much so that you miss what's happening in real life, with real people. This one hit home for me. Sometimes I can be so focused with what's going on online, that I spend too much time behind my MacBook screen. I know this because when I close my laptop, my dog gets up. He's like, "she's alive!" He's just a dog, not a kid. But seriously, I do need to get my internet addiction under control before I become a mom.  I don't want my kids' earliest memories of me to be this mother who was at a computer all the time.

I'm not pregnant.
I'm just saying, you know - in the future.

I met lots of ladies from different parts of the country that all have blogs. They blog about all kinds of different stuff. It's kind of crazy to be in a room full of 400 women who blog. Overwhelming. Almost all of the bloggers I met tonight have blogs that are way bigger than what we've got going on here.  I almost got discouraged by that, until I realized that that just means that God is only in the beginning stages of what He is building here - and I'm okay with that! I also realized that I am one of many here. I am nothing special.

I'm so thankful for the opportunity to be here. And thank you all so much for caring enough to read these posts day in and day out.  You are the best.  If there is something that you would like to know, or read about, or if there is any way that this blog could be more helpful or encouraging or interesting to you, please let me know!

Up Too Early

Good morning, world.
Today, I will be driving to Pennsylvania to go to my first ever blogging conference!

I'm really excited, I think.

Honestly, I haven't had the time to think about it, prepare for it, adequately Google the speakers, check out the other ladies' blogs, think about what I'm going to wear, or even Google map my route there.  I think it's just a few hours.  I think.

Can you say campaign trail fatigue?
The good news is, I pretty much always have a suitcase at least half way packed!

THANK YOU to those of you who chipped in to send me to this conference. I promise, I am excited, I will take great notes, and I am planning on refocusing a lot of efforts into the blog and the little community we've built here after the election - so I'm looking forward to developing the skills at this conference to do that.

I've been up since 3:00am.
I had a bad dream.
About my weight and my mother, no less.

Michael comforted me as I gasped for air in real life. During my dream, my mother was accusing me of not coming home for the holidays because I had gained so much weight.  So, I didn't eat dinner, and I went to work out. But the class was full of teenage skinny girls, and I couldn't keep up.
Hence, the gasp for air.

Michael hadn't been sleeping because his legs were spasming. Poor guy. I hate this for him. So, I flipped him from his back, onto his side and he fell asleep.
But - you guessed it - I never did.
I often can't fall back asleep after I do something like turning him.  A lot of wives do this every night, and go right back to sleep. Something about the caregiver switch being flipped for me, is just hard to flip back.

This used to make me raging mad.  Now - I have so much going on, I look at the clock and I'm like, 'well - I'll just get up.'

I tried to go back to sleep for about two hours. I prayed and prayed, which is good. I watched Brokaw sleep. He's so cute.
But, nothing worked.
So now it's 5:30am on a day that my alarm wasn't set until 7:00am, and I've already had a cup of coffee, taken the dogs out, fed them, done a load of laundry and have another one washing, and the dishwasher is running.

The upside: I'm actually getting a chance to mentally prepare for Allume! Yay.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

How the Blogging Community Has Impacted My Wife

This weekend Dana is attending Allume, a conference for women bloggers. This will be her first blogging conference. She has been following pointers from successful bloggers and writers for building her platform and strategically developing the blog and community around it. But something special has occurred.

Three years ago we were fairly naive as we jumped into life together. For the newbies reading this post, I've been paralyzed since high school. Dana and I kept in touch via email, chat, and video for almost eight years. We visited each other three or four times a year during our courtship --that's the best term I can use to describe it.

Being paralyzed, I need a lot of help. I always had friends and aides to do the stuff I needed. Now I was across the country and Dana was my caregiver. The adjustment was overwhelming. She found herself alone and taking care of everything for the both of us.

In her previous life Dana's world revolved mostly around work and her puggle. I kind of upset that balance.

With so much change and responsibility, we were overwhelmed. Opening up to a wonderful counselor, trusted family and friends, and each other helped us get back on solid ground.

And then Dana began to blog. At first it was about day-to-day stuff like recipes, trips and date nights. Those were fun. But when Dana began opening up about the struggles of being my caregiver and married to a paralyzed man this blog took off. She laghs at how the  more raw the post, the more people respond.

Responses from others in our situation trickled in. Some were caregivers to their parents or husbands, some were taking care of a spouse, some were grateful to read someone actually writing the thing they had hidden from everyone else. The more the messages came in, the more we weren't alone. We were an inspiration and encouragement to others. And they encouraged us!

Four years ago I told Dana we could be in ministry together one day. It was an idea, but not real. Now we are doing it. Without launching some big "ministry" our story has become a  kind of safe place for others.

Work, me, the puggle all still have very important places in Dana's life, but her heart is also in this blog and all of the wonderful people whose lives are becoming  part of our story.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Pumpkins on the Mountain

Autumn is bittersweet around here. Neither Dana or I are fans of the cooler weather because it means socks and layers which are not conducive to our lifestyle. No, thank you. But there are some nice things to look forward to: leaves turning, open-air sleeping, cooking, and harvest! Living in the 'burbs, it is nice to get out to the country for the old fashioned fall goodies.
With Kelly & Josh Stockstill, 2010
Two years ago we went to Cox Farms (http://www.coxfarms.com) with some friends and had a wonderful time. We bought pumpkins and apple butter, took a tractor ride, and enjoyed the farm atmosphere. Last year we stayed more local, opting for a nearby nursery with a festival. My current wheelchair was still fairly new and we had our SUV. We were two strikes down already when we got there because of chair malfunctions and other *stuff. When the wheels wouldn't cooperate we were fed up! A bad day :-(

This year we were looking forward to our rebound. After all, as our faithful readers know, this has been such a great year after the previous year's frustrations. Saturday Dana was eager to go out to Hollin Farms (http://www.hollinfarms.com/) in Delaplane. She has been talking about this for weeks. Every night it's "pumpkin"-this and "pumpkin"-that. We even ate pumpkin waffles (DELICIOUS, by the way) and pumpkin creamer in our coffee. It was like Superbowl Sunday anticipation.
The drive was BEAUTIFUL. Tom Kierein said this weekend was peak, and the trees didn't disappoint. The colorful mountains with aged farmhouses and roaming livestock were idyllic. We even brought our puggle Brokaw along to roam around. All of us were eager to go sniffing around the farm.

Somewhere on the drive up the winding gravel road Dana and I each had a, "oh, crap" moment. This wasn't typical farm land. We've been to the country and gotten around pretty good. This was different. The pumpkins were literally growing on the side of a mountain.
Okay, it's not Everest, but the field was steep and rocky. Even turned up, my wheels couldn't keep up. So, Dana had to push me over the obstacles. We parked and she and Brokaw did find a fine pumpkin, but then came the descent. It was one thing after another, and a reminder that we're not like the other couples. We can't do the cool things they do.
After this we checked out and loaded up. It just wasn't fun anymore, and that's the reason we went all that way in the first place. Everybody else had fun (except one cranky lady who was driving her poor teenage kids nuts). We just wanted to blend in and have fun too.

On the trip home we were quiet. It really was a disappointment, more so for Dana than me, but a disappointment still. I tried to get some perspective. Okay, that trek was crappy. Leaving early was crappy. These feelings were crappy. But I looked at the trees and countryside. I noticed the streams that converged toward the river. I commented on the puggle asleep under my wheelchair.
This is how I deal with disappointment. But I was reminded of my senior class trip to Georgia. That was in the mountains too. My mom was along as a sponsor and my caregiver. There were sad times then because I wasn't rooming with my classmates, because I couldn't do some activities, and because I was different. Back then I determined I wouldn't make a big deal about missing out. It only hit me every now and then. Usually, either my friends included me or I just got along.

I realized driving down that winding gravel road that Dana's life is impacted like nobody else's has been or will be. We are a team. For better or worse. Where I had grown calloused or flexible I see again the hurt. I feel the hurt. It's really sad to be disappointed like that. I just didn't realize how low my expectations had become.

Somewhere along the way home I shared with Dana my perspective, that the trees were beautiful, that Brokaw was content, and other bright spots. Maybe it's my own form of denial. But I was so sorry for my wife who had looked forward to this for so long.

I didn't know they grew pumpkins on the mountain. I thought a farm was flat. But I'm not giving up. We will have a fun pumpkin experience darn it! Might be next year, but we'll get out there and enjoy pickin' out pumpkins and apples and potatoes together with our fun-loving puggle running around.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Saturday Morning Post: My Birthday

Good morning everyone!
I am waking up older today.
I'm 33.

Whoa.
That happened when I wasn't looking!
Ouch.
33 feels kind of older, like really an adult age.
Maybe because Jesus lived to be 33.

Isn't that interesting? Jesus died on the cross and rose again when He was 33.
Maybe something big will happen this year.

33 is an age where you know who you are, what you want, but you still make mistakes. You're old enough to appreciate good intentions, real love, good food, quality clothing, and not having a car payment.  But you're still young enough to buy a pair of boots that you don't technically need, because they're HOT and it's your birthday, and you happen to have a well-exercized justification muscle.
A special thank you to my sister, who answered my frantic, "emergency: should I do this?" text message!

I had a really great birthday yesterday.
It was full of things I love.

Prizes!
Actually, I got to open my gifts a couple of days early, because I'm a brat.
Michael made me wait to open my card, but he gave me a wonderful bag full of goodies that included an iTunes gift card, the new Maroon 5 CD, an adorable shirt with birds on it (he knows me!) and the cushiest slippers in the world!

Before you think I'm an old lady for receiving slippers for a birthday present, and you think he's an old man for giving them to me, remember our floors.  They are linoleum tiles on concrete - great for a wheelchair - not so great for someone who has back problems, and walks on a really hard surface all day! The fact that he thought of this, and found the cushiest slippers on the planet and even asked me, "Does it feel like you're walking on carpet?" made me smile.  This man is so thoughtful.

While I was in New York, Michael texted me that a HUGE box came for me.  I thought my mom was buying me black Uggs for my birthday (um... I took care of that, didn't I, haha!), but inside this really big box was THIS BABY:
This is a large, lightweight, super cool, rolls-all-ways Roxy suitcase, people!! My suitcase is just about dead, and I've been looking for another one, but couldn't find anything I LOVED, and you know - a suitcase is such a commitment, I didn't want to get something I didn't love, and apparently the only luggage I love is Roxy luggage. Because, you know, there are some parts of me that are still 17.  This was a big surprise and I love it soooo much. Thank you Mom!

I didn't work yesterday.  I was going to work from home, but I didn't even do that. I needed a break. Everything and everyone work-related is getting on my nerves. When that happens it means you either need an attitude adjustment, or a break. I had already adjusted my attitude, so I knew I needed a break.

Friday is a bathroom morning for Michael, so his home health aide came, and I went out to run errands.  He had her come at 8:00am, so we slept in a little. I went to Starbucks, where I inquired about my free birthday drink, because I didn't get my coupon in the mail this year (they used to send you a postcard for a free drink for your birthday). I pulled up my Starbucks app on my iPhone, and much to my delight:
Insert annual free birthday Pumpkin Spice Latte here.
And, I was off to Target for a couponing mission!
I stocked up on pet food, trash bags, coffee and body wash, and saved like $43.00. I also cashed in a Target Prescription Rewards 5% off card, and the cashier was impressed with my couponing skills, so she gave me an extra $5.00 off AND used a coupon that printed with my receipt to give me $1.25 back in cash. She said it was my lucky day. I told her it was my birthday, and she gave me a hug!

Then, I dropped some stuff off at Goodwill, then went through the Burger King drive-thru where the guy informed me that I was their last customer for breakfast.  He offered to give me free hash browns, but I declined, because of my current largeness.

Then I went to TJ Maxx, and fell in love with those boots! Score again for the birthday girl!

When I got home, Michael was just about to head out the door to work. He gave me a kiss, and I opened my birthday card from him.  Then, I had the house to myself all day!! That is a gift in and of itself! I continued a cleaning out/organizing project I started last weekend, putting some new bins and drawer organizers in the kitchen, bathed the stinky dogs and changed the slipcovers in the living room.

I did all of this to the scent of my new Fall Yankee Candle.
The mailman, Carl, came and wished me a Happy Birthday and gave me a package of Bath and Body Works goodness from my in-laws! Score again.  Thanks, Buddy and LaDonna. And a card from my Granny Nora, with a picture of her with her neighbor's dog, and her flowers she planted. She is precious, and I miss her so much, it makes me sick. I hate that she lives all the way in California.

I was going to cook dinner in the crockpot - but I got carried away organizing the kitchen cabinets and drawers and my couponing stockpile, so we ended up just eating a bunch of frozen things from Trader Joe's - which is actually a delicious, quick way to do dinner.  After we ate, I snuggled up next to Michael in the chair and we watched TV while he massaged my shoulders and I won't go into details, but the entire evening was GREAT.

It was a day full of all of the things I love: saving money, freebies, checks in the mail, organizing, puppy time, hubby time, and all done wearing yoga pants.

This morning, I'm having my coffee. And there is pumpkin butter in my fridge.
And in a bit, I'll get Michael up and dressed and we are going to spend the day at a FARM! Yay! We're going to pick pumpkins and apples and maybe get a couple of mums (I'm torn about that - I want to Fallify our porch, but our Summer flowers are still living!) and we're going to take Brokaw! This farm lets you bring your dog, and they can dig up potatoes and peanuts! I hope he finds some.

33 is off to a rock-solid awesome start.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Life on the Campaign Trail: A Little Update

Greetings from a Hilton Garden Inn on Long Island, where this morning I ate half of a waffle.
The guy in the kitchen looked at me like I was crazy when I ordered half of a waffle, but I just explained to him that I've had two years of Hilton Garden Inn waffles and 2:00am Taco Bell runs, and my clothes barely fit.
This is going to be a very random update.

Last night was the 2nd Presidential Debate.
And it was feisty!
I watched from the media workspace, where I brewed my own coffee, tweeted, and worked on our story.
There is one more debate next week.
Then, there is the actual Election Day, three weeks from today.

We have worked so hard over the last two years covering this presidential race, and I feel like this campaign is 9 months pregnant.  It's just huge, and uncomfortable, and feels overdue.

Yesterday, on our Facebook page, I asked for advice and encouragement on finishing strong and you guys gave me some amazing Bible verses and quotes. Thank you SO much!

Today is an important day in Dana and Michael Ritter history.
It's the anniversary of the day we got engaged!
So glad we did that.
And that we followed through and got married.

More randomness...
Yesterday, at about 5:40am, as I was getting ready to go to the airport, it happened.
Michael's home health aide walked in while I was still home!
Oh, the horror!!

You guys may remember, I had major adjustment issues getting used to having help come in.
One of my key coping strategies has always been to GET OUT before they get there. I was in my bathroom, fixing my hair, and she walked in. I saw her walk by in the mirror. I was freaked!
I felt like I had been caught or something.

So, I finished getting ready, and snuck out.
I didn't say goodbye.
Michael texted me a little bit later, and we didn't even talk about it, so it's still kind of secretly like it didn't really happen (except that I'm writing about it right now.)

I don't know why this makes me feel so awkward. I've been going all Dr. Phil on myself, but I still haven't really drilled down and completely figured it out.  I didn't cry, or get mad though, so I think I'm making progress! I think.

One day we will have a house and it will have an upstairs and I will have my own little place to hide. Looking forward to that.

Anyway, it kind of wasn't a big deal, but it kind of was. I'm so weird. Whatever.

Friday is my birthday and I will actually be in town! We're hoping to go to a pumpkin patch on Saturday and get pumpkins and apples and apparently you can dig up your own potatoes and peanuts, so we're going to bring Brokaw! I'm so excited!

Oh - real quick - a Brokaw story.
It's not related to this photo, but that doesn't matter. Just look at his face!

Before the debate last night, Michael and I were Skyping. Brokaw was on the couch in the background, he heard my voice and so I said "hi" to him.  I was in the media workspace at the time, surrounded by reporters. I got more than a few strange looks when I was looking into my computer saying, "Brokaw! Brokaw? Hi Buddy! Are you being a pretty good little booger head?"

Brokaw has earned the nickname "Booger Head," or just "BH."
Sometimes I forget I named my dog after a broadcast media legend, and when I use his name in media circles, it gets some attention.



Saturday, October 13, 2012

Saturday Morning Post

Oh hey, Saturday morning.
I have missed you.

I woke up a little bit ago, but just laid in the bed with the noise machine still on.
I prayed a little bit, and thanked God that life is so good right now.
I even thanked Him that we don't have kids yet and things like quiet Saturday mornings that don't start until after 9:00 still existed in my life.

Then, I got up.

And I found, not in this order - poop, pee, and puke.
And the cat was screaming at me, and eating some of Michael's paperwork that was left within her range on the dining room table.
I cleaned up the aforementioned three p's.
Made coffee.
Picked up the mess I left around the apartment last night, then I realized that Brokaw thought it would be a good morning to pee on my shower curtain.

Great. Bonus.
So, I cleaned some more, took the dogs out in the cold, fed them and the cat, gave Michael his pills and the bed controller so he can sit up in bed with his computer and some coffee for a little bit.

And, here I am.
Watching the Saturday morning local news, nestled on the edge of my couch, drinking coffee that's unfortunately not all that hot - out of my University of Denver Presidential Debate mug.

I'm about to read the booklets that came with my P90X DVDs I got in the mail when I got home from Kentucky yesterday.

I'm equal parts excited and scared.

And Brokaw really needs to stop barking at the air outside.
I love him, but he is driving me crazy.

Happy weekend, y'all!

Friday, October 12, 2012

When I Knew I'd Marry Him


Note: This post is kind of long. And it includes some writing that is straight from my journal, 4 years ago. I love looking back and seeing how God was at work in my life!

It's pretty common to remember where you were when major news events happen. We can all recall where we were on 9/11. Our parents remember where they were when President Kennedy died. Some of us remember where we were when the Challenger exploded, and when O.J. Simpson's white Bronco was followed on live television. We remember where we were when it was announced that Osama bin Laden was killed.

I work in news, which means for most (a.k.a. ALL) of the major news events of my adult life, I have either been in a television newsroom, or at the scene of the actual breaking news.

The news value of this story is not on par with the examples I've listed above.
BUT the news factor of my personal life, is.

The last few months of this presidential campaign keep bringing 2008 memories rushing back.
Because when you work in news, not only do you remember where you were when certain events happened, but all of life is framed in this sort of news-timeline.

It was August, 2008.
The Republican National Convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
I was Dana Brown. I was 28 years old, and I was covering my first political convention. I think I look like a baby here! I think I need one more thing hanging around my neck, what do you think?

I was covering the convention for my old job, with Hearst Television, producing morning reports for close to 30 TV stations across the country.  I was working overnights, and I was just thrilled to be out in the field, because unlike my current job, that job was mainly a control room job, so getting out in the middle of the country was really exciting!

I was there for Sarah Palin's speech, and John McCain's speech, and I watched the big balloon drop from our skybox.  It was fun.

But what I remember the most from that trip was the moment I realized I was - for sure - going to marry Michael Ritter.

At the time, Michael and I had been dating - long distance - for about 9 months, officially. Things were moving fast, and we had fallen in love. Michael was living in Texas, I was in DC. Over the Summer, he had been looking for opportunities to work in the Raleigh-Durham, NC area.  His brother and family lived there, it was only about 4 hours from me, and he thought it would be a good move for him.

But - nothing about it was working. The logistics were just not going to happen.  He'd need a job, an accessible apartment, and someone to help him with his personal care. None of the above were lining up, even though he was trying to work it all out. It was frustrating.  We wanted so badly to just be closer to each other!

Then, one day while I was at the RNC, I got a phone call.
Michael left me a message, "We need to talk."
Those are not normally good words when you're in a relationship.
I was in a trailer where we had our workspace, working.
But I stepped outside and called him right back.
I was surrounded by satellite trucks and generator fumes.
I will never forget what happened during that conversation.
That was the moment I knew I'd marry him.

The following is from my journal, September 2, 2008:


He beat around the bush a little.  Told me that God was speaking to him about ministry and opportunities and he’d been thinking a lot lately about the kids and the youth at Vineyard.  He said it’s not what he wants, he said, but it’s what God is saying to him.  Calling him to dive into the ministry there in Nacogdoches. 

My first reaction was shock.  Utter shock.  You’re going to call me in the middle of one of the hugest events of my professional life and drop this bomb on me?  What?  Seriously?   For real?  You’ve got to be kidding me. (my filter kept this thought to myself)

He said he’s going to really be focusing on that for the next 3-4 months, that we both know that he’s not going to make it up to Durham by the end of the year.

I asked him, "you don’t think this is going to mean you don’t want to be with me, do you?"  I almost had tears welling up in my eyes and a huge gulp was forming in my throat.  His reaction was great: No!  No way!  He tried to tell me this in a way that made it very clear that I am very much in his plans.  


I want him where you want him, Lord.  That is my prayer.  Use us where you want us.  I encouraged him, ever his cheerleader, as he says... that this is really exciting!  I had to go because Sally and Eric and Russ were about to leave.  I told him I loved him, twice.  David was joking me, “awwww, puppy!!” Etc.  It was funny. 

I called him when I got back to the hotel and asked him if he talked to Jim.  He had.  He was excited.  I pray for him, Lord, as he goes through with this.  Keep him close.  Give him your vision.  Oh, Lord, keep him focused.  I love this man and I thank you so much for him.  Thank you so much, Lord.  I am truly grateful.  He is amazing.

Also, when I talked to my Michael on the phone, he asked me if I had been talking to his sister-in-law, Crystal.  She apparently told him that all he needs to do is ask me to marry him.  That I’m just waiting.  I kind of laughed it off when we were on the phone.  But the truth is, it’s true.  And I now secretly wonder if maybe that would be possible to do that soon?  To get engaged.  And look forward to getting married possibly next summer? Then, we could be together.  All of these dreams we dream of going through life together could happen.

One more thing he said to me that was cute: He said he knew I was in it for the long haul when I asked, “They make adjustable beds that two people can fit in, right?” :)  There is no way I’m sleeping separately from my man.  



Phew.  I think that’s it for now.
I’m in love.
I think that’s about it.
And, I’m thankful.
And hopeful and so very excited about the future that we will have together, laughing and learning and doing ministry and supporting one another.

Very excited.
For now, I need to get this day started.
The GOP convention is re-gaining momentum and I am so blessed to be here.

My Michael sent this message to my blackberry first thing this morning, I got it on my way into work:

Philippians 1
3I thank my God every time I remember you. 4In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus


How cute is this!?!? Do you ever look back at old journal entries or think back on memories, and see your life coming together? I love to do this. And this is a reminder to me of how important it is to document our lives - so we can go back and see where God has been faithful, and where we've grown.

Thanks for reading.