Thursday, April 23, 2015

There are some days that you know your purpose in life, and other times you can do nothing but question your true purpose. It’s been so long since I have posted I wonder if I should start a new blog. I still love fortune cookies, but I don’t obsess about them.

Life is always in flux and I am in shock that it has really been this long since I have posted. I miss writing and hope to return soon. 

When this semester of classes is over - I'll try to catch everyone up. So much has happened and so much has changed. 

Life is a journey with no real map, if you think you are following one...check again! There are some places that Siri and Google Maps cannot track. 

For now - Live, Laugh, Love!

Thank you Sassy for your inspiration - 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Facing the Test...Returning!

Lamentations 3:40 - Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD.

My ways have been lacking. There really is no need to test them and I hate to even bring it to the light that my ways are lacking.
Let me clarify – I have not lost faith. My God is an awesome God, He holds me up in His warm embrace of love. He is my strength, my breath, and my hope. I pray everyday, I turn my thoughts to Him and His will. His Son strengthens me and the Holy Spirit fortifies me.

Okay, I am really not trying to sound preachy or holier than thou…cause trust me, I am not. I fall everyday. I struggle everyday. Every. Day.
Doesn’t everyone? Every. Day? I think if you answer no, you are kidding yourself.

You may not even recognize your struggles, or if you do – you will not acknowledge them. Perhaps a certain river comes to mind. (De-Nile…Denial, get it? Haha – really, really old joke!)
Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD.

What kind of test can I expect?
I know, I know where I am falling short. And even in the admission, I am sure that there are more ways that I am falling short of living the life that our Father has envisioned for me. Yes, I believe that He has a life planned for me. Through everything that I have been through, all the good, bad and ugly I have experienced…I know He has a plan. The God of heaven and earth that has numbered every hair on my head – He has a plan!

Do I expect to know it in this mortal body? Can I fully appreciate it with my imperfect heart? Are there parts of my life that I cannot even begin to imagine the WHYs of? YES!
And, I suppose that is part of my test.

Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD.
I need to return to the Lord. I know it with my mind, I know it with my heart, I know it in my soul. I feel him calling to me.

How can I say that? How do I know? When I decided it was time to do a post, I went to my Happiness Mug (don’t know what that is, click here and see!) and pull out a Fortune. I pulled out, “You will make through the tough times, keep your chin up.” I just couldn’t.
Sometimes a Fortune Cookie can be incredibly insightful. But, tonight I couldn’t do it. I felt pulled to just type, “Bible Verse of the Day” into my browser bar…and Google brought me here.

Feels a little like being “talked to.” I just got called out. He wants me to return to Him.
Return to worship, return to praise, return to His house. He wants me to keep my chin up, to remember He has the Master Plan.

It is really hard some days to keep that simple thing in mind. I will pray for you – please pray for me!
~Live, Laugh, Love,
Vanilla Mama

Monday, September 9, 2013

Gold Fish are Dangerous Pets

I will preface this post with - this was an organizational speech given for a class I am taking, it tickled me so much, that I wanted to write it out and post it. It is tongue in cheek for sure - 

Gold Fish are Dangerous Pets!

My name is “Fish-Killer.” I have come by it honestly, it runs in my family. It’s not that I hate fish, but it seems I have a knack for killing them. After some research though, it turns out – being a fish killer may not be a bad thing. I have learned through my many years as an attempted fish-owner that Gold Fish are dangerous pets to have. They can be emotionally damaging, dangerous for the environment and even physically dangerous! I know this is a shocking statement and this may have some reeling, but as a reformed fish killer, I do find it my responsibility to inform you!

Imagine a child’s joy of owning their first pet, maybe it was won at a fair and carried home in a plastic baggie, or maybe it was chosen after an entire afternoon at the pet store. Either way, the Gold Fish came home and soon there was a bowl and rocks! It is fed a little, it is fed a lot, before too long that beloved Gold Fish is found belly-up and it has to be flushed. Devastating -

I know that is the cycle of life…but what, just what if a child has a pet Gold Fish and goes on vacation and the parent says, “Let’s let Goldie go swimming with the ducks in their duck pool.”

What do ducks like to eat? Gold Fish!

This small child gets back from vacation and runs across the lawn to catch their precious Gold Fish only to come up empty netted – emotionally damaged for life! (The parent referred to in this scenario has since been forgiven!)

What happens to all these Gold Fish (besides the ones that are eaten by neighbor’s ducks)? Are they flushed, thrown out? How are they bad for the environment? Gold Fish excrete massive amounts of ammonia and changing the water creates toxic waste that needs to be disposed of safely. How many of these deceased fish end up in the landfill, or thrown out in the back year – just the ammonia alone has to be processed by the sewage plants or absorbed into the environment somehow…but, what about the unwanted Gold Fish that are released into the wild?

Monster Gold Fish found in Lake Tahoe have formed a colonies, some as large as 1.5 feet and weighing in at 5 pounds. These Gold Fish have proven to be a very invasive species of fish that can take over the ecosystem, eating everything in their path and growing at accelerated rates. (Arciero, 2013) It is not just a problem here in the United States but, but it is happening in the UK as well and warns reader to make sure to dispose of their pet Gold Fish in an appropriate way. (Elton, 2007)

So this innocuous little Gold Fish can be damaging emotionally for a small child, or even an adult like me and even how it can be bad for the environment, but how is it physically dangerous. Since 1939 at parties, for jokes and even for frat challenges, live Gold Fish swallowing has been a popular challenge  (Meyer, 2011). Today there are YouTube that can be found with individuals swallowing live Gold Fish. Back in 1939 doctors warned of parasites, tape worms and food poison, but the warning apparently has gone unheeded. These days it is even more dangerous to swallow live Gold Fish due to the chemicals used to treat them, chemicals like Malachite Green, is used to treat fish for parasite and diseases; this chemical is a known carcinogen. I repeat, Malachite Green is known to cause cancer. Gold Fish are not intended for human consumption. (Boyle, 2010)

But, what if the average person is not intending to swallow the Gold Fish and this said person is a happy Gold Fish owner. Just imagine what happens if this unsuspecting owner changes the toxic ammonia water, slips, falls and cracks their head open in front of their child?! It is a two-fer! The child is emotionally damaged and the parent is physically hurt – Gold Fish are dangerous pets!

This cold water, ammonia producing scaled fish can be emotionally damaging, bad for the environment and physically dangerous. After many years, I have graduated from a fish killer to a happy tropical fish owner. I have a 30 gallon tank with 25 different aquatic creatures, but I will NEVER have another Gold Fish. I am truly too emotionally scarred and I would never want to put my seven year old through the kind of trauma that I have experienced.

(and yes, I am OCD enough to do a little research!)
Arciero, R. (2013, Febuary 21). Monster Gold Fish Found. Retrieved from
Boyle, J. (2010, Feb 14). Don't Eat Goldfish, it can Cause Cancer. Retrieved from Gold Fish Care Information:
Elton. (2007, May 9). Retrieved from Dangerous Goldfish:

Meyer, A. (2011, January 12). National Museum of American History. Retrieved from The Year of the Gold Fish:

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tomorrow is another day ~

Good night world...Live it, Laugh it, and Love through it all! There are Hugs for All, Love to be shared and Prayers to offer up. Tomorrow is another day and if He brings you to it, He will bring you through it - even if it is a tight squeeze, trust the one who lifts you up!

I have been snowed under with classes, work and family, but I am still collecting fortunes and Bible verses!

More to come....Thank you for checking in with me!

Yours ~
Vanilla Mama

Monday, December 31, 2012

Live it, Laugh at it, Love it! 2013 - Go Gentle!!

There is no fortune cookie to ring in this New Year…

As 2012 is finally ending and 2013 is about to come on the stroke of midnight, I have spent some time reflecting.

In all honesty, this has been one of the worst years of my life. There have been so many losses and changes (not all bad) that my heart and mind are having a hard time keeping up.
When I am lying in bed at night (or in the wee hours of the morning) I can either pretend that none of it ever happened, or I relive each moment of it. Last night, I dreamed that my brother was still here…that as part of a medical experiment they were able to bring him back. They had not told us he was still alive until they knew for sure that he was going to make it. In my dream, I went to answer the door and through the peep hole, I saw him. The joy was overwhelming…simply and utterly overwhelming. Then I woke up.  I woke up and wanted only to fall back asleep into that dream, but reality has a twisted way of creeping back in.

I have lost a best friend, my father, my brother, a business that I loved went under, a ministry I have worked with for almost 10 years is undergoing many changes (and I am NOT part of them), I got a new job…I got another new job with in the same college. I work with amazing people all around; have a supportive husband, an incredible mother and three kiddos that mean the world to me, a strong sister-in-law and two beautiful talented nieces.
The blessings are there to be counted. I am trying to focus on the positive, on the happy.
It is just so hard sometimes to lift myself up and put on the rose colored glasses.
This coming year I am sure will bring more changes, but I pray with all my heart no more losses.
I am working on finally getting my degree and at 40 years old…I think I have a direction for my life. (About time, right?!) My oldest son is thriving at college, enjoying playing college ball and continues to touch people with his heart, my middle son blows me away with his personality, brain and sense of humor and my youngest, I am just watching to see where his smarts will take him.  
May your New Year be filled with joy, all your fortune cookies be silly and your hearts be lifted.
Thanks for reading and hopefully growing with me. I can’t promise to be more regular…but I can promise to…
Live, Laugh, Love!
Vanilla Mama

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Mission of Fortune

“Let your life be a mission, not an intermission!”

This year has been the worst year in my memory, as a family we have lost so much. My father, my brother, my friend (not a death, but now she is somebody that I used to know)…our hopes, our dreams. Changed, rearranged…the normal changed to a bizarre and surreal abnormal. Life altered and hopes destroyed. How, how do we move on?
I am right now in an intermission…I want the pause. I want, I need a break from reality. My breath is held. Waiting for peace. Begging for peace. Desiring nothing more than to wake up from this cruel dream.
A mission, how can my life be a mission? How can I pick myself up and stop this…stop this madness, stop this intermission? I do not know.
Even now, when I see a picture of my father or my brother, my breath catches in my chest and I am immobilized with grief. A sudden memory of them will freeze me. Knowing that there is such a vast hole, a deep black hole where they used to be crushes me.
Every day is step by step. Each moment is breath by breath.
I know that prayers and Christ lift me up, and my unceasing prayer is that this loving God that I cannot claim to understand – show me what my mission is. In all honesty, I cannot see it…cannot feel it…cannot begin to understand. 
“Let your life be a mission, not an intermission!”
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28. I am working toward this, I believe it. Sweet Lord in Heaven above – take my life, and lead me.
Live, laugh, love ~ like there is no tomorrow -
Vanilla Mama
PS…I am sure there are lucky numbers on the back of this fortune, the mission I charge you with is to make sure you tell the ones that you love…that you LOVE them. All our days are numbered and we do not know how many we have.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Brotherly Love

Remembering Steven - 
My Brother and I in March - I Miss you Steven, I Love you!
Steven Earl ****, 6’6”, 362, 38 years old….Born: November 28, 1973. Died: September 21, 2012 unexpectedly of pulmonary thrombosis in his sleep. To most people he was Steve, or Steven – but he was well known to us as Steven Earl, that’s what Mom or Dad would yell when he was in trouble.  When we were little I used to put bricks on his head to keep him from getting taller than me – It clearly didn’t work. That may be why he started finding unusual places to sleep. We would find him sleeping under tables, on the stairs, any quiet place…more than likely anywhere away from his big sister trying to “play” with him.
He was a son, brother, husband and father. He was a friend…to all of us.
If you or someone you know currently has or has ever had the password *************(changed to protect the innocent) to one or more of your electronic devices – I know that you are a friend or family member of Steven’s and relied on him for help to set up your computer and internet. He was our techie – he introduced us to MP3’s, ripping and burning disks, wifi and tried to keep us up to date with technology. 
He had a unique sense of humor – of course many jokes needed to wait until kiddos were out of the room!  But, he could even make the littlest ones laugh. Steven was to them, a big kid. My boys always wanted to know if they could stay the night with Uncle Steven, or when he would be coming over again so they could play.
He loved to play games – whether it was a video game, board game or trivia game. If he suggested playing a game, I knew it was a good one. Fact or Crap, Trivial Pursuit, Apples to Apples, Rayman, Guitar Hero, Mario, Xbox, Wii, PlayStation…He knew them all and not being a ‘gamer’ I know I am leaving out many more.  I do know that He could be the most aggravating person in the world, he would annoy you and push your buttons until you just about lost your temper then could disarm you with a wicked grin and saying something perfectly silly or incredibly inappropriate.  He really was the king of inappropriate humor.
Mary, his wife, called Steven her “Laughter.” Through thick and thin – through ups and downs, Steven was her laughter and her rock. And I know that she and the girls were his greatest joy. 
When I asked for memories of Steven from friends and family, so many people referred to him as a gentle giant – and while it is not in print – a few called him Grizzly Adams. Here he was this big, tough looking man (did I mention he was 6’6”?), all burly with a curly beard worried about a baby squirrel not being able to climb a tree. His heart, his spirit through it all was tender…he was a gentle giant.
Steven did not have an easy life, he struggled with constant pain and inner demons – but this man through it all left us with an incredible gift. The gift of his love.  I know he is looking down on us all amazed at how many people are here to celebrate his life. I do not think he ever realized how much he meant to us all.
The little booklet (given out at the funeral) is full of memories that friends and family sent, the theme of all of the memories together is a testament to his heart. I know we all have special memory of Steven – whether it was calling him for computer advice, laughing with him over a private joke or watching him with his girls. He was a big kid and connected with his girls, my boys and so many other kiddos. They loved to play with him, they trusted him and would sometimes open up to him when they would let no one else in. He didn’t judge them, he didn’t judge us.
I feel blessed by his love, even now. All of us have been blessed by Steven in one way or another. Smart, funny and giving.
Live, Laugh, Love~
Vanilla Mama