Keeping the Peace, Life

When Terror Hits Close to Home, Dig Deep For Your Peace

It’s been two days now since the violent killing of people at our local airport in Ft. Lauderdale. Two days since fear struck, lives were tragically lost, and more damage was done to what fragile peace we have left living in this, our current world. A world where many of us are raising small children in the hopes that there will be a better, more peaceful world for them, with no change in site.

There is so much good in the world and so many good people. We see so many great people rise up, especially during tragedies like this. When things like this continue to be a regular occurrence though, your faith gets shaken. It starts to feel like there is so much more bad out there than good. You start to wonder if it will ever get better, especially for our children. It’s hard for anyone to come to the realization that nowhere is safe…nowhere.

On Friday I watched the event at the airport unfold on Facebook, while a friend of mine posted every few minutes about how she was running from one terminal to the next, how she was hiding to keep safe, and everything she was seeing and hearing. The constant feed of fb is usually too much for my anxiety for too long, but I was glued to my phone screen and had to see what was happening and if my friend would be alright.

The airport is just 10 minutes from where we live and I have been there countless times, sometimes with our children. I kept thinking that I could have easily been there that afternoon traveling by myself or with my family. I could have been picking up someone from the airport. I felt terrified watching it happen on social media, but knowing it was basically happening in our back yard seemed to stun me completely.

I’ve been very open about my anxiety on my blog. It’s basically one of the underlining themes of my site and I have shared my daily journey of peace on here, in hopes that I can help others who deal with the same feelings and worries. An event like this can really shake you to your core and send your anxiety reeling, even when you think you’ve got it pretty together. Even after a tumultuous 2016, I was feeling very balanced and at peace, ready to start a clean slate in the new year. That perfect peace was taken when a place I have felt safe in was completely stripped of that notion for me. For two days I’ve felt nervous, scared, and anxious. I can’t stop thinking about the victims and their loves ones or all the people who went through that terrifying experience. I keep employing my tools to find peace, starting with prayer and then going through my long list of things that aid me in easing my anxiety. All those tools help me get a hold of my feelings so that I don’t become paranoid and want to live with my family in a bubble. But the reality is, it’s going to take some work to get there. Even as I type and discuss this, I feel an intense lump in my throat growing. Fear can be so paralyzing.

So I share this with all of you to say that if you are having a hard time dealing with this tragedy, know that you’re not alone. It’s going to take time for us as a community to get through this, especially those who have lost a loved one or experienced the terror of being there. If you are feeling anxious about it all, talk to someone, whether it is a friend or a professional. Everyone worries a little bit here and there, which is very normal. If you are excessively uneasy or apprehensive, or even experiencing panic attacks, that could be a sign of serious anxiety and something that you need to confront and deal with.

I’ll be honest, it’s going to be hard to feel safe again. Personally it will take me a while to get there and my guard will be up, waiting for the next imminent event. When you think of home, (even though you know that no place is perfect) you think of your safe place. If terror takes your safe place, it’s a difficult thing to reckon with. I’m sure many of our local family and friends are also having a hard time coming to grips with what has happened here. Just know that if fear starts to dictate how you do things, it’s time to dig deep to find your peace. Don’t let terror of any kind steal your joy. Don’t let it stop you from living your life the way you want to. Don’t let it take away your safe place.

I’m digging deep over here. It’s a daily process to find peace. If you need it, I hope you will dig deep too. Peace to you all and Prayers for our Greater Ft. Lauderdale community and all of those victims of the airport shooting.

Love & Hugs,
Darlene

prayersforftlauderdale

Keeping the Peace, Life

On Peace, Politics, & Forgiveness – A Letter to My Children

A few weeks ago I was window shopping with my daughter. Every year we pick a few new ornaments for our Christmas tree. She stumbled across this one at one of our favorite shops, Sugarboo & Co., and asked if we could get it. She said that we need more peace in our world. I couldn’t agree more.

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These last few weeks have been tumultuous ones, to say the least. The build up to the election and the days following have been brutal to watch as people I know argue with each other all over social media and emotions of all sorts run wild. The year in itself has been full of struggles. It’s been a year of many moments to ask for grace as well as many moments for offering forgiveness. People are hurting for many reasons, people are going through difficult things, and our world is so uneasy and not at peace.

There are so many things our kids will have to contend with in this world that we didn’t have to grow up with. Even though we don’t watch tv much in our house, we don’t live in a bubble and kids learn plenty from others. It’s our job to preserve their innocence, but to also arm them with the best tools, so that they can share their light with the world and make it a better place. So it’s our responsibility to talk to them, help them understand things, pray with them, continue to teach them the importance of love, peace, and kindness, and yes, we even have to teach them that really tough one…forgiveness.

In a time where many hurtful things are done and said, a time when it’s so important to stand up for what you believe in, and a time where so many of us have a hard time pardoning others for their mistakes (even though we make them ourselves), I thought it was important to write my kids a letter to remind them of how they can make a positive difference when they are adults some day in these same situations.

To My Wonderful Children:

I am so proud of the little people you have become. One day, sooner than I would like, you will be adults. You will be faced with lots of difficult decisions, a lot of unrest in your world, and struggles of your own. I want you to remember a few important things when you step out into this world on your own.

As we always tell you, being loving and kind are the most important things you can be to all people, even those that may hurt you. Make sure you always do your best to help your fellow man and show love to others. We will always need more love in the world.

Peace starts with you and your family. Everyone in this world may not always be receptive to it, but getting along with others no matter how difficult it may be will help make the world a better place. Be the peace you want to see in the world.

Politics can get nasty sometimes, but don’t let it change who you are and what you believe in. It’s important to get involved and stand up for your values and beliefs. Have intelligent conversations with people and don’t let anyone tell you that you are less for what you believe. Hate is not a political party, so never support anything that supports it and always combat it with Love.

Forgiveness can be one of the hardest things to do and be consistent about in this life. Not only are we commanded to do so by God and to forgive as he has forgiven us, but it is the best thing for you, your heart and your soul. People will hurt you and the ones you love. You can’t avoid it, but you can choose to forgive when you are wronged or when people make mistakes. It’s harder to forget and you might have to remove yourself from situations that cause you pain over and over again, but never stop giving grace to the people and things that seem unforgivable. It will make you a stronger and better person if you can rise above things that have caused you pain.

Remember that we love you for who you are. Everyone is different and has something that makes them special. We hope that you will always embrace those who are different from you.

No matter what you pursue in this life, make sure you come from a place of peace and love. One day, when you vote or choose to get involved in politics, make sure you never forget who you are and what you believe in. Don’t forget to ask for forgiveness, try to do your best to not make the same mistakes over and over, and give grace to the people who need it from you.

I know the two of you together can make this world a better place. Fight the good fight…always.

Love you to the moon and the stars,

Momma XO

May your holidays be full of peace and may your decorations be reminders of its importance in every part of your life.

Keeping the Peace, Life

My Prince of Peace

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At first glance, this probably looks like a post that will be devoted to my faith and to what we, as Christians, call the son of God. I don’t want to dismiss the importance of that name, so I will say up front that my belief in him and my strong faith has brought me peace throughout my life, especially in the darkest of times. In the wake of our daughter’s autism diagnosis, it certainly was at the core of how my husband I dealt with the loss of what we had planned for our child and embraced what God had planned for her. It has brought me peace like nothing else can or could. But this is about my other Prince that has brought me peace. This is a love letter to the other man in my life.

My husband Juan and I just celebrated our 12th anniversary. Ours was a short courtship, dating for a year before we got married the first of three times. (I’ll just let that sink in for a bit). Yes, it wasn’t planned, but our journey was extraordinary from the get go! The one thing that always stood out to me when I met Juan was what a good person he was. He’s just the kindest soul and the kind of person that makes you always want to be and do better. Now, this is not going to be a whole story with me bragging about how I found the most perfect man in existence. We all know that’s not true because we all have our flaws. I’m certain my husband could easily make a long list of mine if he wasn’t so humble and kind. This is just the story of how I was brought the perfect man for me.

There was always something else about him though, besides his kindness. Something that I had no idea would become such an important support to me throughout our relationship and over these many years. Juan is a pretty laid back, easy going guy, who doesn’t worry about a lot of things. Put it this way, if he’s worried, there may be something to really get worked up about. He’s the calm in the storm. There have been few moments over the last 13 years that I have seen him lose his cool. I am, on the other hand, the polar opposite. If there is something to worry about, I will find it. I’ve been pretty uptight and not the relaxing type, not at all. My anxiety grew over the years after some difficult life events. I sometimes wondered how in the world someone so chill dealt with someone so not.

These days I’ve learned to manage my anxiety, but for the better part of our relationship he’s had to deal with me and my worries. He’s been the rock that not only complemented me in our marriage, but also kept us both steady. I really took notice of how much peace he brought me when we suffered the loss of our first child and the loss of my father simultaneously. Then again when our daughter was diagnosed with autism five years ago. I was totally lost and completely unraveled. Through it all, he was hurting too, but he always put me first and kept the peace for me in any way he could. I consider myself a pretty positive person, but most of my optimism in those days was gone and he always shined the light on all the good and on all our blessings. We all need those people in our lives that remind us that love can conquer anything and that bring us peace when we are struggling to find it on our own. He’s always been that to me… My Prince of Peace.

After twelve years of being married, it’s difficult to think of something special to give your spouse when we both really have everything we truly need. This year I didn’t even get it together enough to get a card (I know, wife fail). What can you really give the person who has given you the greatest love, who’s been the one very best friend a girl could have, who’s been the best father to your children, and who’s been the person to bring you constant peace over the last 13 years? The only thing I could think of was to share with the world how special this man is and how thankful I am for him. He has been my strength more times than I can count and he’s been beside me throughout this peace journey.

It’s been a bit of a challenging year for us. There are a lot of things and people to worry about this year, but Juan has been our anchor and our compass all at once. He’s brought us in the direction our family is being called to. He’s supported me in putting myself and my health first, along with the health of our whole family. He’s been our faith leader and has truly brought us closer as a family because of it. He’s encouraged me to pursue my dreams and he is my biggest cheerleader as I embark on some crazy new adventures in the coming year. Most importantly, he has focused on our blessings and all the good in our life. He has a way of shining his light and love on everything he touches and his family are always the first recipients of those gifts.

Thank you Juan for always reminding me that my peace is within. For being the one friend I can always count on. For keeping your cool and leading me out of some of the darkest tunnels of this life. For loving me through all the ups and downs. For supporting me and always lifting me up. For bringing me back to a place of peace every time I think it’s out of my grasp. For the great love of my life.

Thank you for being the major Peace to My Puzzle. Happy Anniversary Juan! I love you!

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Keeping the Peace, Life

The Anticipation of “Matthew”

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No, we aren’t expecting a new bundle of joy. Despite the pleadings of our two children for me to have twins for them to play with, that ship (or ships) has pretty much sailed. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that here in South Florida and going north up the coast into the Carolinas, we are expecting a now Category 4 Hurricane.

I’ll admit I was a bit freaked out at first because our kids have not gone through a hurricane yet and we’ve had some scary experiences. Born in Florida and raised in the Keys, this is most definitely not my first rodeo. The last hurricane that my hubby and I hunkered down for with my parents was Wilma in 2005. I still remember my dad and husband holding the front door closed so that it would stay shut with the wind gusts. We didn’t have kids back then and thank goodness we didn’t. Since our neighborhood was struck by mini tornadoes, we lost a good portion of our roof, our entire courtyard fence, and we didn’t have power for quite some time. My husband and his parents survived living in Kendall during Hurricane Andrew. We take these things very seriously.

Our kids have asked a lot of questions and keep asking if the hurricane is here. Our daughter has expressed a couple times that she’s scared. These days she does pretty well when her routine changes especially when we are on the road or doing something really fun like vacation. Something about being stuck inside though causes a bit of alarm for her. If you know anything about autism, there are a lot of things that a child who has it does not have control of. So if there is something they can control, (at least in the case of our daughter) it gives them a sense of comfort. A hurricane is completely out of our control and all any of us can do is just pray that we all stay safe and that the impact is not severe.

So our method of coping with being stuck in our cave and riding out the storm has been to stay busy, keep them busy and distracted and make the experience of being cooped up in here fun for them. Here are 10 of my best tips for riding out the storm with kids:

1. Power will most probably go out if it hasn’t already. So cook up all the food you don’t want to waste and make some of their favorites to have on hand.

2. Based on the situation in #1, let them watch movies, play sports on wii, do kids yoga from youtube, or do anything that involves television while there is power. If you’re like us and don’t spend much screen time anyway, now’s the time to let them go hog wild.

3. Have them get on the computer and work on some education sites provided by your school and teacher. They’re still going to need to practice while they are stuck at home and again, the computer might not be on for long.

4. Make sure your phones, tablets, and devices are all charged up. When the tv is no longer a viable option, you can lean on these things for some entertainment and distraction too.

5. Prepare some crafts, coloring books, board games, and other fun activities and save them for last. Fall is here, although it doesn’t feel like it to those of us in Sofla. You’ll find the kids will love to do a project for autumn and it will make them totally forget about this crazy weather.

6. Make sure the kids have their own flashlights or head lamps. A lot of times, like in the case of this storm, it hits land during the evening. Break out the sleeping bags too. If you can all camp out together, it will make it more fun for them.

7. Books, books, and more books. We are a bunch of crazy readers in this family, so we always have tons of library books on hand and our own personal collection of books. It’s a great time for everyone to catch up on their reading. Make it even more fun by using those head lamps or flashlights and read in the dark.

8. Diffuse some essential oils that help instill calm and a good mood. We don’t have a large one for the house yet, but my kids love the small one in our room and they love to get a good whiff of it. It seems to be uplifting!

9. Let your kids take a long, warm, soothing bath. This can also be very calming for anyone. Our daughter in particular knows when needs to relax and is a great advocate for herself when she needs a break or stress relief. Her go to is a bubble bath. Remember how much you love the spa moms.

10. Keep your game face on if you can. Try to make things fun. If you are anxious, they will sense it and feed off of you. Read and pray together if you can. These things always seem to be calming and bring our family peace.

We’re cozy, all shuttered up, prepared, safe, and all together, which is the most important thing.

Stay Safe Everyone.
Matthew, Please Take A Hike.
Peace Out.