Thursday, October 4, 2012

In honor of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

There’s something I wanted to tell you but don’t know where to start
I wish my words could save you from deceptions of the heart
I guess the first thing I would say is, always recognize your worth
If I’ve never said before, you’re too precious to accept any hurt
Make no mistake, your heart will break, sometimes he’ll let you down
But make sure his desire is to ease your pain when he causes you to frown
And if he ever hits you, I mean the very first time he lifts his hand
You turn around and leave right then, because he is not a man
I’m so sorry I never showed you, by the way I lived my life,
what it truly means to be a valued, loved and cared for wife
You never should have witnessed the beatings I would take
If I could do it over, oh the many changes I would make!
Trust me, never, ever feel that you must stay there for the kids
just think of how terrible it was for us every time I did
Think of how you wished that we had struggled all alone
Than to live in fear, no sum was worth the terror inside our home
Baby girl, please know that I loved you more than I can ever say
And I would do anything to have never failed you in this way
HE had the problem I realize now and I need for you to know
You played no part in my bad choice, be at peace, move on and grow
I pray you never fall victim to fear, my dearest
keep your head up and be brave
My last prayer is that you’ve heard my words
an echo from the grave….
By Danee Riggs

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I don't need a month to be aware of it. I am reminded every day that I am a survivor and when I look at my beautiful little girl I am reminded that I must do everything in my power to make her aware. I hope to raise her with awareness of the warning signs, raise her to love herself and her Heavenly Father, and most importantly that she can always come to me no matter how bad the situation. I hope I can instill in her an unbreakable confidence in her self worth.  I don't have all the answers on how I'm going to implement my plan to raise a confident and yet grounded girl but I will try my best.  
I've seen the commercials for a few years on Dove's movement for self-esteem. I've admired their efforts since day one of the campaign but now having a little girl... I'm even a bigger fan. They have the right concept. There is a universal increase in beauty pressure and a decrease in girls' confidence as they grow older. It's a shame because we are all created in His image and He is beauty; He is amazing. Every girl, every woman, is beautiful. 

1. having beauty;  having qualities that give great pleasure or satisfaction to see, hear, think about, etc.; delighting the senses or mind: a beautiful dress; a beautiful speech.
2. excellent of its kind: a beautiful putt on the seventh hole; The chef served us a beautiful roast of beef.
3. wonderful; very pleasing or satisfying.

I tell Aria every night as I put her in her bed that she is beautiful, she's smart, and that I love her.  She is beautiful and will always be beautiful.  God never uses one’s outward physical appearance to determine beauty. When the prophet Samuel examined Jesse’s sons in search of the next king of Israel, he was impressed with Eliab’s appearance. God told Samuel: “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart”. Nothing in a person’s outward appearance impresses God. God looks upon the inner beauty, the beauty of one’s heart. 

 This is what true beauty looks like..

A look from your child that says you are their everything.
Being silly!
Heart of a Grandparent.
Showing your disability who's boss.

Friendship based on unconditional love and support.

A Mother's fight for equality for her little girl.
The laughter of a child.

Our society has a very distorted and  shallow idea of beauty. And if you don't see it as being a "big" problem, tell that to the teen girl who got plastic surgery to fix her ears, nose and chin. She was teased about her physical appearance since she was 7. 7!!! Kids shouldn't be concerning themselves with such petty things.... and where do you think these kids learn their behavior from? Parents. Every time you giggle about someone's "big belly" at the local Wal-Mart, you are setting an example for how your children are to behave. Or if you yourself are the bully and pick on your kids outward appearance or odd behavior... they see that and absorb it in to use at a later time. 

And those bullies? Most turn into abusers...

54% of students said witnessing physical abuse at home can lead to violence in school. It's a viscous cycle. Domestic violence in the home can create bullies in the school that then can create more domestic violence in the home later on in life. 

We need to raise awareness. We need to prepare our children for not only their personal future but society's future. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD!

Joshua 24:15 "But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."

As Aria gets older and uses her words more effectively, I realize just how important Joshua 24:15 is. I WILL serve the Lord. I WILL do my best to raise Aria to serve the Lord. 

Lately, I've been in search of employment in order to find a decent home for Aria and I... a home that Aria deserves... a home where we'll be safe and comfortable so we CAN serve the Lord. 

I'll be honest, it's been exhausting. I feel there is an angry clock running behind us. We have only until Nov to figure something out. To date, I have 17 job applications out there and have contacted triple that amount of apartments. Most apartments want your yearly income to be $17,000... I'm at half. I’ve applied to a local affordable housing complex and they turned us down because we didn’t make enough. They told us if we were able to have someone say they pay us (but not really) a certain amount of money a month then we could meet the income requirements. It felt a bit dishonest. Why is it that I wasn't surprised??? There are too many people that are taking advantage of the "system" and it makes it hard for those who legit need a boost. 

Listen... I am NOT looking to be spoon fed. I just need a boost. I am willing to work. However, if SSDI deems me disabled and unable to work, why do I have to work to stay afloat? Now.. please don't hear me wrong. I love to work. I especially love it when I get to work with people. I'd much rather work to earn my living. Society makes it difficult for me to work. I can be slow sometimes... I once was fired from a job because I couldn't "push three wheelchairs at a time to make the transferring process faster". So, if SSDI deems me "unable to work","affordable" housing should actually be affordable and accept me...?? One would think.

I know of someone who has lived in affordable housing with an under the table job and a boyfriend who makes $20 an hour but because she claims she's single and hides his boots when there are house checks, she gets to take vacations to Disney every year and buy her kids Ipads. And when I see things like this, it really makes it hard for me to serve the Lord. My anger and frustration gets in the way of serving the Lord. My raw emotions get in the way of serving the Lord... and it's not fair. It's not fair to the Lord who gave/gives us so much. 

So, I need to step back... take a deep breath... and be thankful... be genuinely grateful for the blessings He has given me and I honestly can say I am. I've made quite a few ugly mistakes in my life. I've sinned something serious in my early 20's. I've been forgiven and He has always been with me even when I wasn't. He loves me and Aria and wants the best for us both. 

What does this all mean???!! 

I plan on working harder to serve the Lord even when life seems to get in the way. Every moment is a great moment to serve Him and I hope that you too will work with me in serving Him and not letting life get in the way.

On a lighter note: This is by far my favorite moment in life... 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Mmm mmm s'more!

I stumbled across an amazing looking pie the other day on Pinterest. Seeing as how I am watching what I eat (most of the time), I decided to come up with my own version.

A 135 calorie a slice version (depending of course on how big your slice is) of a S'mores Pie.

How could it not taste like  cardboard, you ask?


Ashley's S'more Pie

Low fat Graham crackers(as much to layer the bottom of your crust)
1 Reduced fat Pillsbury pie crust
1 jar of Fluff
3 tbsp Hershey's Dark cocoa powder
1 bag of dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup Skim milk

Cover the bottom of the pie crust with graham crackers. Bake pie as directed on the package. While it's baking, heat your skim milk in a pot and bring to a boil. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until dissolved. Drop the heat down to low and melt 3/4 the bag of chips.

Take pie out of oven and set oven on broil. Poor the melted chocolate into the pie crust. Cover the top with fluff and stick it back into the oven. 5-7 minutes depending on how dark you like your marshmallow.

Need I say s'more?


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Well, this seems like a nice place to hang out for a while...

WARNING: This may or may not be TMI for some.

Oh, well!

Nothing like spending an hour plus stuck in Kmart's bathroom to really lift your spirits. Occasionally, my clothes and I aren't on good terms. Some days we struggle. This past Tuesday was one of them. Like a dummy, I drank a TON of water before I left to go study and pick up a few things from the store. Once I got to Kmart, my bladder was screaming obscenities and I heeded it's demand.

Before I continue, let me give you an idea of what I'm working with...

A- The bathroom stall was small. I've seen better accommodations in prison. (This was the "handicap" stall)
B- The temp in there felt like the heat was blasting at 90 degrees.
C- It smelled like death.

Now, these 3 environmental factors aren't conducive for me pulling my britches up. 5 minutes go by and the heat alone is making me sweat. 20 minutes go by and I'm halfway there but the struggle has drenched me in sweat making it more difficult to slide my pants up.. as time goes on it gets harder and harder for me to have any Christian thoughts. I start getting mad and thinking about how long I'd do in jail if I just walked to my car with my butt hanging out. Ok, so probably not a good idea... Then I think, well if someone comes in, I'll just ask for help. (This hasn't been the first time I got stuck in a bathroom. Last time my date left thinking I sneaked out. Fun times..)

20 more minutes go by and nobody. 

Now, my choice is to cry... so I cry... and cry... and while I cry, I pray.

Dear God,
Please, please... help me. 

As I'm crying my body starts to cool down, making me less sticky, and after another 10 minutes I try again.


God listens to us... He loves us... The power of prayer is so great and this is my testimony of it.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Love and everything it should be

Mother's Song
a Traditional Lullaby
My heart is like a fountain true
That flows and flows with love to you.
As chirps the lark unto the tree
So chirps my pretty babe to me.

There's not a rose where'er I seek,
As comely as my baby's cheek.
There's not a comb of honey-bee,
So full of sweets as babe to me.

There's not a star that shines on high,
Is brighter than my baby's eye.
There's not a boat upon the sea,
Can dance as baby does to me.

No silk was ever spun so fine
As is the hair of baby mine.
My baby smells more sweet to me
Than smells in spring the elder tree.

A little fish swims in the well,
So in my heart does baby dwell.
A little flower blows on the tree,
My baby is the flower to me.

The Queen has sceptre, crown and ball,
You are my sceptre, crown and all.
For all her robes of royal silk,
More fair your skin, as white as milk.

Ten thousand parks where deer do run,
Ten thousand roses in the sun,
Ten thousand pearls beneath the sea,
My babe more precious is to me.

Aria Noel

The past few weeks have been particularly trying. Another semester has reared it's ugly head and is showing no sign of remorse. Aria's confusing nights for either a rave or a game of "I can scream louder and higher pitched than you and make you feel like an intruder has just busted through our door to come steal me"... and my social life?? If my life was to be graphed on a chart, my social life line would look like a roller coaster plummeting to the Earth at 90mph with no sign of the next incline. My only interaction with the adult species has been at church (which was interrupted by my screaming child) and the GLORIOUS once a week lunch dates with my dear friend, Julie.

Now before I continue, let me get some things straight. My "social life" is not the be all and end all in my life. Let's not read too much into my rant and think, "Oh my! Her social life is so important to her and her poor child... waaa waa waa blahh blahh blaahh" If you already don't know, listen and listen good. I LOVE MY DAUGHTER. SHE IS MY INSPIRATION TO BE A BETTER HUMAN BEING. SHE IS THE LOVE OF MY LIFE. 

I've had a few people tell me that I need to be careful of what I say (as if I am serious) when I joke about Aria being put into a local food donation box so that she can be shipped to another family.

Come on! Really?! Be more worried when I stop making those jokes.

Ok, moving on.

The other night, as I was snuggling and singing Aria to sleep, an overwhelming thought came into my mind. 

This love I feel for overwhelming as it may seem to me... is just a sliver of what our Heavenly Father feels for us. 

...and then I wept. 

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

God loves us so much that He gave us Jesus, who loved us so much that He laid down His life for us. 

That is a whole lot of love. I thought to myself, "I can't even begin to imagine what that feels like." And as I held Aria a little while longer, I thought to myself, "Yes, I can." We all have that one person that we love so much that words can't describe it. We can all begin there and we can all be grateful for that awesome love He has for us. That's love and everything it should be. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

"How do you wipe your butt" and other stupid things people say to me

Here is a list of stupid questions/remarks people have said to me. I know that people say there are no such things as stupid questions... for those people I'll sugar coat it and call them "inappropriate questions".

  • "How do you wipe your butt?" - I believe that this question really shows the cruelty and lack of empathy one has for human beings. The best part of the question has always been the sly smirk and giggle that follows. I am so happy you are thrilled with yourself to ask such a question. Kudos to you.  Maybe next time I should invite that person to watch so that they can sleep better at night because apparently the question is so imperative to their well being.   
  • "Your child is so beautiful!! You know all things considered..." :::staring at my arms:::
  • "You do really well for yourself, don't you? Good job! It's good to see you out." - Um... Thanks?! Did I not get the memo where I was supposed to stay in the tower and ring the bells? Oh.. my bad. (I got this one from a random cashier at Costco.)
  • "Is it contagious?"
  • "I'd date you but I'd be embarrassed. My friends wouldn't understand."- Trust me, sugar. If you aren't man enough to follow your heart and not your friends, I don't want you. 
  • ...and the list goes on.

Now, before I seem like a bitter soul, let me just say this... I am aware that most comments that drive me bonkers are people's way to either make themselves feel less awkward or they truly believe in their hearts that what they are saying is sweet and thoughtful... possibly having poor communicative skills. I have learned to deal with such ignorance my whole life and I plan on having to deal with it for the rest of my life. I know that Aria will most likely have to deal with it as well and that makes me sad.

I am hoping that bringing this to light, people may try harder to be aware of what comes out of their mouths. Everyone is different, yet we are all the same. We all feel. Let's treat each other with kindness and compassion. And I will make it a point to try not to be a smart ass when someone fails to remember their compassion.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Brownie batter anyone?

So, I made some changes to the last recipe I posted (Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip) and made a Brownie Batter Dip (I added 3 tablespoons of Hershey's dark cocoa powder to the recipe)... I imagine this is what heaven tastes like. Then I took it to the next level and baked it at 350 for 35 minutes. I feel guilty that this tastes so good and is healthy!! 

This diet thing isn't so bad. :) For dinner I had a Sweet Potato Tuna Melt... amazing and filling. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Don't laugh at me...or anyone else.

I stumbled upon this book today and I wished all kids were made to read this once a week. 

Kids can be mean. I do believe they are a product of their environment a.k.a parents. If parents would teach tolerance and empathy of differences, I bet there would be less bullying in our schools... and maybe I'm pushing it but maybe even less hate crimes. I am not saying this book would change the world but possibly the message would. 

Let me share a personal story with you.  

When I think of the word “school”, I automatically get this awful feeling in the pit of my stomach. It feels as if I’m in the movie Alien and an alien is trying to erupt out of my stomach. Being born with a disability made me a constant target. I might as well have had a flashing neon sign over my head that said, “Pick on me. I love it!” The bullying in high school haunts me today. I can’t hear the word “dinosaur” without wanting to throw up. My heart breaks when I see the news and hear about a bullied teen taking their life… but I get it. I’ve been in those shoes and it hurts.  

Bullies in Valley View High School gave me a nasty nickname that hurt deep down in my soul. T-rex. One minute word made a colossal impression on my life. I dreaded when class would end because I knew it was time to walk the hall to the next class. I am certain that my anxiety would have been less if I was walking the “last mile”. Boys would literally hunt me in the halls as if they were in the movie Jurassic Park and I was the dangerous Tyrannosaurus rex. These young, piddling punks would pretend to have guns. They would pop out behind lockers and shoot. “Get the T-rex before she eats us!” They then would scatter, laughing and taking a little bit of my soul with them.

I learned to cope by eating my feelings. I’d go home and eat the fattiest food I could get my hands on. If it was fried and a carbohydrate, it was consumed. When I went to college, I thought it would be over. I thought those battles were over. One day, I overheard my dorm neighbor tell her friend that I looked like a T-rex trying to buckle my seat belt. (Earlier that week I rode in her car for the first time to pick up some groceries.) The anguish I felt while walking the halls of high school came flooding back. I felt like an already unstable dam had broken and consumed a small town within seconds. I was crushed.

           Bullying has been a big part of my life and I still battle myself and the past on a daily basis. I still get anxious when some young kid stares at me so intently that I want to offer him a tissue to wipe his drool. I’ll never be able to watch Jurassic Park, again. I even threw out some dinosaur pajamas that someone gave my daughter. The hurt is still there and probably won’t go away in this lifetime. It helps ease the pain to know I am not alone and that I have a Heavenly Father who loves me and who made me to serve a purpose here on earth.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Diet: day 3

So, in my attempt to get in shape, I've found these two recipes online and discovered that they are not only healthy but delish!!! 

Cookie Dough Dip
  • 1 1/2 cups chickpeas (1 can, drained and rinsed)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup nut butter (I used PB)
  • 1/4 cup milk of choice 
  • Sweetener (see note below, for amount)
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup oats 
Add all ingredients (except for chocolate chips) to a food processor, and blend until very smooth. Then mix in the chocolate chips.

All I have to say is, "!" Like eating raw cookie dough??? (Who in the heck doesn't?) This is an almost guilt free indulgence and tastes as if it were loaded with calories and fat. 

This morning I made a delicious smoothie for Aria and I. It was so filling and delicious! 
PB Banana, Apple, and Spinach Smoothie
  • 1 banana
  • 1/3 cup oats
  • 1 apple diced
  • 2 cups ice
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
Blend and enjoy!!


I was born with birth defects known as Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita (AMC) and Gastroschesis which one had nothing to do with the other (It was like lightening striking twice). AMC is a rare congenital disorder that causes multiple joint contractures and can include muscle weakness and fibrosis. It affects 1 out of every 30,000 live births. The disease derives its name from Greek; literally meaning 'curved or hooked joints'. The AMC mainly affects my upper extremities causing limited range in motion, muscle weakness, and some varying joint discomfort. Gastroschisis is another rare congenital disorder in which a defect is present in the wall of the abdomen. There is no membranous sac covering the organs and the intestines therefore allowing the bowels to spill into the outside of the body. Thankfully, with many prayers and being hospitalized for a month, I was cleared to go home. 

Though my physical setbacks made life a little more difficult, my determination and desire pushed me. In school they tried putting me in Special Education classes even with my IQ testing above average. My family fought for me to attend “normal” classes with the “normal” kids and won. Sadly enough this was not my first nor would it be my last battle with being treated like everyone else. As I got older the obstacles that I faced were plenty. The bullying in Middle and High School were appalling. The name that haunted me through those halls were “T-rex”. Boys literally hunted me in the halls. They would pretend to have guns and pop out behind lockers then shoot and run away laughing. I'm twenty-six years old now and it still hurts.

In 2003, I ventured out into the "real world" and attended Mansfield University. I won’t pain you with the gruesome details but let’s just say, I failed my first attempt at being a college student. Between the new found freedoms, poor time management, lack of motivation, and the literal hill I had to climb every morning to even set foot into a class equated in failure. I went onto getting a few back-breaking minimum wage jobs and struggled with both the physical and financial aspects of it all. 

Fast forward to today and with my new role of Motherhood/Role Model, I have a new found desire in life; a second chance at life. I don't plan on wasting it!! 

My intentions- I am starting this blog so that someone can learn from my experiences as a disabled single mother who's had some hardships, miracles, and many lessons... hopefully I may get a few good laughs

Facts about me- I just finished my 1st semester back in college and in 2 days I'll be starting on my second. I've also just started a diet/exercise plan 3 days ago and I'll be posting a few worth while ideas. My daughter is the sweetest thing since honeycombs. I know she gets that from me. ;o) My passions in life are as follows... Jesus Christ, Aria, singing, and making people laugh.