Red Velvet Cake

      School, meetings and running an errand after school was pushing me into the “I’m really tired and want to go home” mode. On a complete whim, I parked in front of Chester’s family owned bakery: DeLish.  Swinging open the bakery door I was bombarded with sweet homemade aromas of breads, cookies and cakes.  My eyes took in the case filled with cupcakes, cookies, breads and in the center, a perfect, petite red velvet cake.  The sweet young cashier/waitress knows our family by face and the fact that we LOVE the red velvet cake! “We just put the cake in the case a few minutes ago” she told me. No other convincing was needed, before you could say “red velvet cake”  it was in a box, paid for and sitting on the passenger seat of my car going home with me!

       The first time I ever ate their red velvet cake was this past summer. I took a dear friend there for her birthday and she chose red velvet cake for her birthday treat for us to share. Secretly, I was wishing she had chosen the chocolate cake, but it was her birthday so I kept my mouth shut and told myself to endure the red velvet cake. One bite of that homemade cream cheese icing and perfect red sugary, buttery cake and I was totally addicted to that cake! Then we looked for excuses to celebrate anything and everything with that cake! Never is a crumb, morsel or even a snippet of cream cheese icing ever left when those Perkinsons decide to eat red velvet cake from DeLish  Bakery.

      When I bought the cake home, there was no special occasion to celebrate. It was just an ordinary day.  An ordinary day to tell my “men” how much I love them. An ordinary day to tell my “girls” how special they are to me. An ordinary day to pet the dogs and cuddle up with them. An ordinary day to sit in the sunroom and chat with Daniel. An ordinary day to catch up on straightening up a bit, putting things away and getting some things organized for taxes. An ordinary day….and it was perfect for eating perfect, smooth (never lumps or bumps) white with a sprinkle of red crumbs red velvet cake!

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Just A Glimpse

     This past weekend I was allowed the privilege of seeing our son Daniel alert, awake and enjoying life moments.  All ordinary moments turned into extraordinary ones. We take for granted having conversations with our children, helping make a meal and just watching them frolicking outside in the snow. When your child has been ill for so long, you desire these ordinary, even mundane moments.

     On Saturday, with snow on the ground and it being more than just cold outside, I decided to make a crockpot of chili. I was chopping the onions to caramelize when Daniel walked into the kitchen and asked if he could help. Memories of him standing in a chair at the kitchen counter “helping mom cook” rushed through my head as I handed him the onions, knife and cutting board.  Together in the kitchen, we laughed over crying about chopping onions, talked about what size to chop the peppers and created a chili that was out of this world! Just a glimpse…of an ordinary moment of cooking together and savoring our silly moments .

       Later that afternoon our “adopted” grandchildren from church came over to see Nana and Papa. Of course, they wanted to play in the snow. Daniel obliged and helped to bundle them up from head to toe. Watching them romp around the backyard, throwing snowballs that fell apart as soon as they left their hands brought pure contentment.  Just a glimpse…of an ordinary moment of my grown up boy playing outside, grinning, running and making two young children laugh in the snow.

     At bedtime, the little ones spent the night and were all tucked in with stuffed animals and a million kisses from their Nana.  Not even five minutes later, I was in bed reading my cooking magazine when a little one appeared at my doorway, Clutching her teddy bear and giving me puppy dog eyes, ” Nana, can I pleeeeaaassseeee  get in your bed?”  Of course! Rolling back the covers, she crawled in and proceeded to cuddle up and go to sleep within two minutes flat.  Daniel came in later and saw her peacefully sleeping beside me, In whispers, I told him to pick her up and put her back to her bed. Those long strong man arms, picked her up, held her against his chest and tucked her back in without her ever waking up. Just a glimpse…of what a wonderful, loving daddy this man-child will be one day.

      Glimpses of God’s Glory right at our fingertips…so simple, so ordinary and I am so grateful!

I Am Redeemed!

      When I started writing this blog it was intended as a update on our son Daniel, an emotional release for me and as gratitude to those standing in the trenches praying for us. All this week, I have had that restless stirring within my soul with God’s whispers: “Tell your story.” Even though I stand before everyone as a truly delivered woman, I am always reluctant to share my redeeming testimony. As much as I’ve forgiven and moved on, bringing up my past always makes me face the garbage once again. For some reason, for someone, God wants me to share my story and how HE has miraculously delivered me from baggage that could circle the world twice in stuffed suitcases.

     Family abuse isn’t always obvious to the outside world. No blatant neglect, no huge bruises or welts, but instead a child’s mind constantly exposed to negative, berating statements. A child living in constant fear of not knowing what will await her when she gets home from school. Perhaps, a plate of warm cookies and a glass of milk will be set out on the table. Or, in contrast, a verbal lashing or a physical beating because she forgot to put her breakfast cereal bowl in the sink before leaving for school. My childhood does have a few decent memories, but the rest is clouded with condemning words, dark moods and out of control anger displayed by my mom. Both of my parents passed away in their early 50’s and it pains me that most of their lives were filled with such pain and bitterness.

     Call me very naive, but growing up in these conditions, I had no idea I was in a very dysfunctional family. I truly thought it was normal and that all children were treated like me. Constant beratement had me throughly convinced I was a “bad child” and deserved everyhing that was bestowed upon me. I become an over achiever, doing anything and everything possible to gain just a glean of praise or just one word of approval. That praise and approval never came, instead even more resentment and pure hatred of me was poured out like milk in an overturned glass.

     Alcohol also played a role in ways others in my family compensated. My grandfather and uncle were both alcoholics and my dad drank occasionally just to escape the constant conflict, bickering and screaming. Some have told me over the years that my mom was probably bi-polar, since there never was a medium ground with her. It was always in extremes and we never knew what would trigger her rages. I don’t know, but I still remember being on my knees as a child begging God to protect me and that I would NEVER treat my own children this way. Bi-polar, dark moods, destroying rages, depression or just plain mean as a snake,,,,call it what you want, but it clutched this red headed girl in constant fear and intimidation.

      My healing process began over thirty years ago when I was in college. Living in the dorm at James Madison University exposed me to young women who actually willingly called their moms on a daily basis, went shopping with them and enjoyed being in their presence,  I, on the other hand, dreaded when the phone rang and even hesitated to open mail from her because I knew she was going to tear me to shreds, My first positive move to healing was to develop a tough skin and learn to brush off her hateful comments. Even though I wanted to weep every single time, I taught myself to NOT cry in front of her because my tears only fueled her fire for more abusive behavior.

      Living with other Christian women in the dorm kept me in the Word and on my toes, These girls were relentless in their pursuit of Christ and I was starving for His Holy touch. Against my family’s wishes, I diligently pursued a bachelor’s degree and began teaching special education. When you’re constantly told that you will never achieve anything and that my faith was fake, walking away with a degree and a job was HUGE for me!

     I”m not even going to go into the hellish nightmare of trying to live on my own and get married. Let’s just leave it at the fact, I was kicked out on the streets with no one to stay with and no where to go.  Through it all, I continued to pray, to cling to His promises and to pour out my heart to Him. And, He heard every single prayer,,,reached down and rescued me from the slimy pit of abuse, of hatred, of alcohol and of intimidating fear.

     Eventually, I acknowleged that I was not the problem and sought out Christian counseling. It did help, but my complete healing and deliverance were still light years away. By the age of thirty five, both my parents passed away and I had three young children under the age of six. I was overwhelmed with life, battling grief, balancing work and taking care of three children who desperately needed their mommy. Depression crept up on me like a thief in the night and I battled until I just couldn’t battle anymore. I literally passed out at work from pure exhaustion and was put to bed for complete bed rest. In that bed, with blankets, pillows and a box of tissues for my streaming tears, God began His healing from the inside out. Using my Bible, markers and spiral 3×5 cards I wrote His precious words to me. I began writing scriptures in every room of the house and His promises surrounded me to uplift, to encourage and to remind me how much He loved me.

      The final part of healing and deliverance when I told my sweet husband I needed to go my parents’ gravesites. I was on bedrest with high blood pressure while I was pregnant with Daniel, and my doctors would not allow me to travel to the gravesite. As painful as it was, I had to face my demons, and have complete closure in my life. The trip to the cemetary was filled with the girls’ chatter and eating snacks in the car. Once we got to the cemetary, Clif dropped me off at the gravesites and told me he’d be back within 30 minutes. He took the the children for a “ride” and I fell to my knees weeping at my loss. It began as a whisper so soft I wasn’t even sure it was me speaking audibly,,,but then my words became louder and louder up to a roaring scream in that deserted graveyard.  ” I forgive you, I forgive you, I FORGIVE YOU! The chains, the shackles, the burdens, the hurt of so many years came pouring forth like a fountain spouting out of control. I cried until I was physically sick.

       After the tears and the retching, I rose to my feet and lifted my hands in pure adoration to God, His peace filled me and confirmed that He had indeed DELIVERED me from a wretched past. No, I’m not mother of the year, but our children will never cower in fear over us, will never hear screaming berating statements and will never feel they’re not good enough. Every single day I tell them how much I love them and how much I absolutely adore them. 

       To those reading this, DON’T believe the lies you’ve been told again and again. You are worthy, you are redeemed, you are HIS child and no one can take that inheritance away from you. You are NOT damaged goods, you are BEAUTIFUL, righteous and holy in His sight. He LOVES you and He always will. I have been divinely delivered and I am eternally grateful!

Moving Mountains….one anthill at a time.

     Surprise! There was a sprinkle of snow on the ground this morning and we got a blissful two hour delay. A load of laundry got thrown into the washer, homemade vegetable soup dumped into the slow cooker, and the trash was taken out all within a few minutes. Feeling rather organized and on top of things, I actually got to enjoy a few minutes snuggling in bed with our puppies. And then….the emotional warfare began its downward spiral as I attempted again and again to wake Daniel up to go to school.

      Part of the frustration in this endless cycle, is knowing that he really wants to go to school, he wants to do well and he wants to please.  Mentally, all those desires are prominent, but physically the unexplainable, overwhelming fatigue overrules and he is not able to even sit up in bed, much less get up and function.  I’ve had people tell me, “Oh he’s a teenager, they always want to sleep in” or “it’s his age”  and even, “throw a glass of water on him, that’ll get him up!” All well intended comments, but his fatigue is far beyond just wanting to sleep in late.  It’s frustrating, and frazzling to deal with and to know we’ve been to doctor after doctor with no more results now then when we started almost two years ago. No, he couldn’t go to school today and slept solid for 22 hours. A few weeks ago, I would have cried about the situation, now I’m just royally ticked off that the issue keeps going on with NO definite answers.

       On Monday, we are scheduled to see an infectious disease specialist at MCV. No, I do not have high hopes for answers, but instead try to view it as one more piece of the puzzle,  Johns Hopkins Hospital also contacted us for a follow-up visit and to see yet another specialist. Once all the specialists there coordinate a time/day for us to meet we’ll be going back.  We’ll also be having a 504 meeting at the high school next week since he medically qualifies for accommodations.  The pieces are falling into little cracks of the sidewalk at an excruciating slow pace, while I’m learning to glean lessons from this journey, Once we get to the other side, our character will be refined, purified and glorified….but in the meantime, prayer, coffee and occasional chocolate are moving those mountains!

I Choose to be Thankful

        In the last 2 weeks, we have had three unexpected car repairs, a threatening hospital bill (which had already been paid!) and I’ve had the headache from the gates of hell. Of course, that list doesn’t even begin to touch the mishaps at work, losing papers I needed and knocking over the dog’s dish of water all over my cute little bedroom slippers with the white bows on top! Somehow, some way, our checkbook survived the repair bills without bouncing all over the state of Virginia, and Advil eventually took my headache down to a dull roar. 

       This journey of waiting for answers has taught me to look for and to find God’s Hands in everyday, ordinary situations. No, I don’t miraculously see His work in every situation every single time, but I have chosen a mindset to be thankful. I’m not happy we had to spend a HUGE amount of money on our cars last week, but I am grateful for my husband who transferred funds so we wouldn’t have to use a credit card. He did it without any fanfare, no self-credit,  he just simply took care of it. I am….thankful.

      Our stress level from taking care of Daniel and the keeping up with all the medical paperwork is downright overwhelming at times. This is not a situation I would have chosen, but my faith has endured and my awareness of God’s presence has heightened. I am…thankful.

     The housework has often been neglected, or put off to support Daniel with his homework or to just be with him when he’s fully awake and alert. (Yes, I still have one bin of Christmas stuff to put away.) Sometimes he just lays on the foot of our bed and chats with me.  I’ll be folding laundry until Jesus calls me home so the clothes piles can just get a little higher when I’m chatting and laughing with my boy!  I am…thankful.

       Daniel’s illness has not only affected our family, but has rippled to others with their concern, their love and their prayers, I’ve lost count of the many doctors we’ve seen and the places we’ve been….searching, hoping, anticipating answers. For a very long time, we did not say anything to anyone except our immediate family, Daniel did not ( and still does not) want any attention drawn to him. Finally, the borderline extrovert part of me exploded and I begged for prayer because I just couldn’t go it alone anymore. Now, I don’t have to cover up tears when I’m having a crummy day and I don’t have to hide behind a fake smile. I just simply ask others to pray and I am….thankful.

     My thankfulness is not a sickening Pollyanna type, it is genuine, true, simple and just there despite our circumstances, God reminds us to be thankful in all circumstances, that doesn’t mean we have to falsely be thankful FOR everything. It simply means we are to rest in His Hands and be thankful while we’re in the journey along the way to be with Him.

I am….THANKFUL.     I Thessalonians 4:18

We Praise You Through This Storm

       Almost two weeks ago, Daniel and I headed to Johns Hopkins Hospital with great hopes of finding miraculous answers and a medical diagnosis for him that no one here has been able to give us. Instead, of answers, we got a nasty, rainy night of waiting for our shuttle bus, lunch that was over an hour late because they delivered it to the wrong Holiday Inn and no definite diagnosis for him. But still, we choose to praise our Savior, Daniel does not have narcolepsy as suspected and as far as we know now whatever it is, is not terminal.He is wearing a 24 hour monitor now and has been been very diligent about recording his sleep patterns and activities.

     Daniel has been quite the trouper in this twisted, turning, hitting the wall medical journey that is now going into its two year duration. He has never complained, whined or pulled the poor pitiful me card,  He has continued to try to go to school, to participate in family activities and to be as “normal” as possible while he feels physically miserable. How can a mother not love a child like that? I love him so much that it physically pains me to watch him go through so much. Blood samples are as routine as going the the restroom for him now. Pouncing on slight moments of being awake enough to work on school work are miraculous moments now.  Seeing him eat because he’s finally hungry and then want more has literally brought tears of joy. But still, we praise God…He is very good to us. God has covered us in protection, guided our steps along this meandering path and has held us tight to wipe away tears of pure frustration.

     Do we feel sorry for ourselves? Do we question why? Do we become bitter when we watch other healthy teenagers around him that don’t have a clue what it’s like to to be ill for so long?  Our answers to all are that negative thoughts have entered our minds, but we have not allowed them to stay there. We have scriptures throughout the house, at work and even in the car to remind us that our HOPE is in Jesus alone. Praying has become as natural as breathing in and out involuntarily. We CHOOSE to praise, even in our darkest moments of uncertainty. We CHOOSE to thank God for the precious moments when Daniel does feel like eating and when he hangs out with his sisters. And, that melt your heart grin of his….Lord, have mercy on the sweet woman that falls head over heels in love with him one day! 

       We have chosen to permanently park the emotional roller coaster in a deserted field somewhere where we can’t find it. Emotions only cause temporary ups and downs and I can’t deal with the lurching of my heart anymore. So, now, as we face another specialist next week, I choose to PRAISE, I choose to REST and I choose to TRUST. 

     

….and then a baby:)

       On January 16, 2013, I became an “official” Nana! Our oldest daughter Christin, who lives in Florida, safely delivered a beautiful baby girl. Little Eleanor Jane made her appearance at 7:03 am and my world has forever changed. I got “the call” when I was teaching a spelling lesson with eight children gathered around me. It was all I could do to not burst into tears of pure relief and joy. Little Ellie decided to come one month early so I did not expect the call until February.  My emotions ran in extremes from happy, excited, wonder, and joy to a pure puddle of relief that everyone was healthy and doing well.

     I did not give birth to Christin, she is an integral part of the “package deal” I received when I married Clif 25 years ago. He had two children from his previous marriage and I transitioned from single/never married to married with children within the hour of a marriage ceremony! Christin and her brother Jonathan have been a joyful addition to my life. Was our blended family like “The Brady Bunch”? “NO”! It was one transition after another, but all within boundaries of love, gratitude and a whole lot of prayer. And now…there’s little baby Ellie…with so many that love her, adore her and could just plain eat her up in kisses!

      ….a baby, a new beginning, a chance to start again, a do-over, a fresh slate…all wrapped in a soft,pink blanket totally dependent on those around her for love, food, security, nurturing and comfort.

     ….a baby…wrapped in swaddling clothes, born in a smell,noisy barn…was also our new beginning, our do-over and our humble King totally dependent upon His young mother and earthly kind father. Now, over two thousand years later, He still reigns actively and alive within us and in our world. He is no longer dependent upon sweet Mary and Joseph, but we are completely, totally and surrendering to His wisdom, His touch, His miracles and His love.

     Thank you sweet Jesus for coming as a precious baby into our world, to save us, to love us and to protect us. We praise Your Holy name forever. Thank you for giving us sweet Ellie. You are beyond good to us. Amen

 

 

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Sense something different today? Well, if not, log out of your blog and log back in again. Wait! What’s that? A new login page!

Okay, let me explain. A long time ago, there were seven guys, including myself, who started a project named Shuttle. Shuttle’s mission was to redesign the WordPress back-end and it sort of happened, but it didn’t go as far as we wanted it to. One of my missions here is to see that Shuttle finally makes its debut in whatever form we as a team see fit.

The login page is the first step towards that. Remember, baby steps. 🙂 This particular design was made by Michael Heilemann during the course of the project. I hope you like this little change, and be sure to expect lots of other changes to come.

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Look!

      My liquid addictions:  a cup of hot, strong coffee in the early morning and a diet coke that is nursed throughout my school day. My students see me sipping on my diet coke all day, and help me find the familiar can in the panicked moments when I can’t remember where I put it down. So, it was a typical mid-morning phonics lesson with my second grade boys. Four active little boys, making words with a black marker on their individual white boards, watching me casually pull the tab on my diet coke. Then, the hum-drum of a daily lesson was interrupted by a shout, “LOOK!  Mrs. Perkinson, look at your coke!”  There at the top of the can, the coke had formed a perfect arc spreading to the very rim of the can with bubbles spewing up from the opened tab. Four little boys spontaneously dropped their white boards, got on their knees and watched the bubbling brown liquid bubble up and then drain back into the can for several minutes. Our reading lesson was suddenly transformed into an instant science lesson excitedly talking about carbonation, bubbles and how it happened. Finally, all the exploding coke on the top seeped back into the can and we continued our reading activities. 

    ” Look!” It made me drop everything and share in a precious moment with four second grade boys fascinated by what was right in front of them. In this difficult past year with Daniel’s health issues, how many times has God whispered in my ears, “Look” ?

     “Look”…I have provided for you when you thought you were at the end of your rope and your pantry was the barest of bare.

     “Look”…a dear friend wrapped you in a bear hug today.

     “Look”…your son is laughing over a silly antic with you.

     “Look”…this Bible verse is just for you today, I love you so much.

     “Look”…I prompted your family to help you around the house because I know you are weary and exhausted. 

     “Look…look…look.

Take a moment, breathe in His peace that transcends all understanding, Look with fresh eyes, hear with listening ears and feel His arms wrapped around you. He loves you, He is in control. He wants you to LOOK for Him in every situation, and be assured He Is with us always. 

 

Hurried, Hectic and sometimes Holy!

Words written on paper are my therapy to coping with a life that is filled with stress, work, and overload. It is my purpose here to write as an emotional release, to write to encourage and to write to update others on our crazy, but devoted Christian family life.  Our family consists of mom (me!), dad, three children at home (sort of!) and 2 adult children in Florida. We do not lead a perfect life of folded laundry, clean dishes and matching socks, but rather a real life of living out of a laundry basket at times, using paper plates and rejoicing when all the socks match coming out of the dryer! I teach learning disabled children in an elementary school and our daughters are pursuing teaching degrees at Longwood University. Our son is a sophomore in high school and is always up to his eyebrows in never-ending homework! Dad works at being retired, but does help me keep my sanity with light housekeeping, running errands and picking up Daniel after school.

This past year in our lives has been different, challenging and very emotional. Our son Daniel has been in a downward spiral with his health. We have watched him go from an active, always outside, teenager working in the yard, his garden or his pigeons to a lethargic young man with no energy to do anything he loves to do. As a parent, it is heart-wrenching to see your child ill, take to him to doctor after doctor and still have no solid diagnosis. To pray and pray and only hit a wall is when your faith is challenged to the very core. Sometimes, I really think that Daniel handles it all better than I do. I have prayed, cried in my coffee cup, and have been totally disillusioned by the medical field. ( I apologize to anyone out there in the medical field…don’t take it personally…it’s a blanket statement.)  Now, we have sought help for him at Johns Hopkins Hospital. The specialists there have taken a team approach to attack one health issue at time and have acknowledged his health issues are “complex”.  Of course, as a mom, I wanted instant answers, instant diagnosis, instant treatment and my boy back to being healthy again.

As a Christian, I am still learning to wait and not lose sight of my Hope. Difficult? Yes! Growing in my faith? Yes! Learning to let go and totally TRUST? Yes! Still crying in my coffee cup sometimes? Yes! God desires for me to lead a holy life, not a perfect life. My prayer is I will glorify Him, even when the chips are down, adversity hangs over like a dark cloud, and even I keep facing the unknowns. In my very hectic but humble life, I acknowledge that Jesus is Lord, and He does have everything under control. Being holy is not an impossible goal, it’s the quiet lifestyle we are living every day and finding Him in all of our life moments.