Another New Year’s is upon us and as I am looking in my closet I am thinking to myself, time to kick this “getting back in shape” project up a notch.

Then I felt kind of silly as I am also thinking to myself, just what do you think is going to be different this year than every other year? What makes January 1st any better for commitments than any other time of year?

How many times have I started something and two weeks or a month later (ok more like a day) decided it is just too hard and quit?

It is interesting to me that I get the same result no matter how much planning I do or don’t do.

I guess maybe I should check my motivation for embarking on a healthy lifestyle. Am I doing it because clothes come in cuter styles in the smaller sizes and if clothes are smaller it stands to reason you can fit more of them in your closet! Right???

Thinking through this some more I am realizing that this is probably not the best motivation in the world.

Am I working to pay my credit cards off just to be able to buy more stuff? Am I paying them off just to get more available credit which will allow bigger and better shopping sprees? Or maybe I have read enough to know that having high credit card balances is not a very smart move and I don’t want to appear foolish.

I guess what I am trying to say is that maybe the reason I have not been successful with resolutions in the past is because those resolutions are pointless unless I have the right motivation. I have a sneaking hunch that if I make a resolution to get healthy and do it to honor God the power will lie in the honoring God and not the resolution itself.

I have never before turned over my resolutions to God and worked towards results for His honor. I have never before made Philippians 4:13 my resolution mantra. I bet if I honor God by taking care of my body instead of honoring myself and my vanity that my healthy lifestyle would quickly follow.

So I will honor God with my whole heart and soul, my whole life in fact. I want to bring glory to my Father in everything I do.


…………………..and so I ridetumblr_n1z51sfRpw1rhr6kfo1_500

Merry Merry CHRISTmas

Defining Christmas

We enjoyed a candlelight service at church last night and it was meaningful and beautiful. Silent Night by candlelight has the ability to bring me to tears. The fact that this holiday is celebrated because  our Savior was born has the ability to humble me like nothing else. For me, the season is about the fact that a baby was born to save a sinner like me.

 However there is another aspect to Christmas that has long been written about, the other side of Christmas, the side that people love to ridicule yet they continue to engage in with gusto. It is the bright, glittery, and joyful Christmas. YIKES, if you celebrate that way you must have lost  sight of the real meaning of Christmas somewhere.


 I do celebrate that way. I love to bake my loved ones mountains of really rich, decadent, not good for them goodies. In fact I love to make more food for my boys than is humanly possible to consume, but that is part of the celebration. 

I love to shop for hours on end for just the right gift and then bring it home, wrap it with glittery, bright paper and top it with even more glitter and totally unnecessary(but fun) bows and ribbons. I love my Christmas tree and the decorations that bring back memories of the times past. I love to drive around and look at Christmas lights, cheesy or not. It all signifies Christmas for me.

I am a Christian, I love my Father God and  I celebrate the birth of my Savior in a bright, glittery, joyful way.  I love to see the Christmas spirit all around me, those viewpoints do not have to be mutually exclusive, they can co-exist quite nicely together.

I do not forget the fact that “Jesus is the reason for the season”, this is my way of spreading the joy and making the celebration of the ultimate Gift of Life”  uniquely mine.

We each have the opportunity to take the holiday and personalize it, make it special and make it meaningful. As long as we are praising God and glorifying Him (who provided the gift) , it is a good thing.

Last night (Christmas Eve)  we broke tradition and started a new one. We attended the candlelight service at our church as I stated earlier,  with good friends  and then went to their house for a delicious meal and fellowship with wonderful friends, some old friends, some new. Thank you my friends for including us!

The house literally glowed with the love of our Savior AND the joy of Christmas. I have forgotten the literal joy of a child opening gifts, it was a great joy to witness and participate in. There is nothing like celebrating the true meaning of Christmas with others that feel the same way.

Christ is the reason I celebrate but Christmas is also a time to support diversity, foster goodwill where we walk, make new traditions while maintaining our family traditions. Christmas is love.

Merry Christmas my friends,


Greatest Gift

947269_525451940823303_1739071908_nLucas and I this year.

How can one near fatal accident and one fatal accident be the greatest gifts I ever received? Let me tell you.

The Christmas season makes me think of the great gifts I have received over the years and the Christmas season makes me think of miracles. The greatest gift I ever received was all wrapped up in a miracle.
It was Christmas in July, July 9th, 2009 to be exact

The Greatest Christmas Gift I ever received.

I got the call every parent dreads about midnight. When I walked into the ER in a panic I was greeted with the  devastating news that  Lucas had been in a near fatal automobile accident, his injuries were life threatening and I better say goodbye. Time stopped, everything ceased to exist for me except what was happening to my son. Something happened inside me at that moment, something unexpected. I knew without a doubt that God was in control and I knew (even if Lucas didn’t) that God would give him the courage and strength to fight back. I said to the Dr. You obviously don’t know my son and you don’t know my God. We are going to beat this.

This is part of a newspaper article that appeared in our hometown newspaper.
July 17th, 2009
By Carolyn Lee
The Imperial Republican
His doctors are calling former Imperial resident Lucas Ridlen a miracle. The 27-year old
Gillette, Wyo. resident was critically injured in a one-car accident last Thursday July 9th about 9:15 p.m.
He sustained a broken neck, broken jaw, two broken shoulder blades, broken ribs, lost part of an ear, has critically bruised lungs, lacerated spleen and liver, a leaking esophagus, a severe concussion and blood around his aorta.
The vehicle ejected Lucas, who wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, upon the first roll. The vehicle then rolled two to
three more times, striking him at least once. Ridlen was unconscious when first taken to Campbell County Hospital in Gillette, then flown to the Wyoming Medical Center in Casper. He was later transferred to Elkhorn Medical Rehabilitation Center in Casper. No alcohol was involved.

There were a lot of things that happened that night that indicated to me that God was with Lucas. The first was when the accident happened Lucas was thrown from the car and ended up a great distance from where the vehicle eventually landed. He lay there in the dark a long time before anyone found him. The first hero that found him and sat with him until another came along was a black dog that mysteriously disappeared when help arrived.  Despite extensive efforts at a later time to locate him and his owner,  we could not find  any trace of such a dog in the area. But we know he was there, the teenager that found Lucas told us.

Now lets talk about that teenager. What makes a young man stop when he sees a car sitting in the middle of a field and trudge out in the darkness? What gives that young man an urging that he needs to search that field until he finds Lucas. God does. What gives that young man the wisdom to call 911 and actually be patched through to the ambulance on his phone to keep Lucas alive until the ambulance arrives. God does.

I wasn’t prepared for what greeted me at the hospital but immediately, and I do mean immediately when I was blindsided by tragedy, God took over. I was given the assurance that we would make it through this, I can’t explain it but I knew.

It took Lucas awhile to fully wake up and in the interim there were times of incredible stress but also incredible humor. Though not fully conscious Lucas was able to fight through the fog and make us laugh. Apparently he didn’t like to take his medicine because one time a nurse walked in with his meds and Lucas emerged from the fog long enough to inform us that Chuck Norris was his bodyguard and he wasn’t taking any damn medicine.
Another time when I was bugging him to quit being lazy and move his right side, he struggled to get his right arm raised up enough to flip me off.

God also decided to throw us another curve while we were dealing with Lucas’ massive injuries. This one I cannot explain but I also know God had his reasons. In another separate vehicle accident in NE just five days later, God took my precious niece and Lucas’ cousin Debbie home to be with him. She was a unique and glorious young wife and Mother that God decided He needed worse than we needed her here on earth. It was a raw kind of pain to deal with given our present circumstances but I was also reminded that I still had Lucas and since Debbie was now safe with God, it was ok to concentrate on what was going on here on earth.

It was a long summer and we spent most of it in Casper Hospital then in Elkhorn rehabilitation center. They trained Lucas to do basically everything again. He fought back from death and when he left the rehabilitation center he walked out amidst two rows of dozens of staff clapping and cheering him on.

That is without doubt the greatest gift I ever received, even if it was in July.
I was given the gift of receiving peace from God, I was given strength to help Lucas fight his way back, I was given wisdom and I was given comfort. I was given my son back.

What about Debbie? Well I have thought long and hard about that. I was given the chance to know this incredible young woman in a way many didn’t. I loved her as a daughter and I lost her. But I had her for awhile, we all did. She enriched our lives in ways that only Debbie could. To say she was a breath of fresh air and a ray of sunshine would be understating it by miles and miles. She was a gift to me for the time I had her.

For both these gifts God, I thank you.


The long goodbye?

Special moments in life are few and far between, so when something special is thrown your way, grab it, hold onto it, breathe it in and wrap yourself around it so when that moment passes you have the memory to sustain you.

Special moments have nothing to do with money and everything to do with love. I was given special moments with my parents and my sister and her family this weekend.

Holidays can be a bittersweet time and filled with sadness for families of a parent with Alzheimer’s. This holiday was starkly different than the home-grown holidays of the past in my family. It is a different time in everyone’s life and though my mom and dad are different now, they are still my parents, they still love me and I still love them.

The  one thing that has not changed is the way they love their children.  I know they love it when I come to visit but I feel like I am the real winner here because the love is unconditional here, the love is not withheld and the love is spoken honestly.

In Ephesians 6:2 it says to “honor you Father and Mother” It doesn’t say honor thy Father and Mother when times are good, when their bodies and minds are not failing them and when it is convenient for you. It says “Honor they Father and Mother”, period.

It is interesting to me that it says honor and not obedience, to honor is  to give them respect and having an attitude of esteem for them. Honor means to revere, prize and value. I give them respect not because I have to but because they are who they are and they love me.

I hear “your Dad just isn’t who he used to be” when I walk into the manor where my parents live. Well, I respectfully disagree with that statement. He is exactly who he used to be. His situation has changed, his health has changed and his temperament has changed because of the disease but he is still the same Dad who I have always loved.

Each time I visit home I find my parents changed. The changes tend to be startling and obvious and it would be easy to think they are not the same parents I once knew so well. However, they are still the same parents, my parents.

If anyone deserves sainthood it is my Mom for what she does for Dad even in the nursing home setting, She never has a moments peace except late at night.

She has found ways to cope with the changes in their lives, she sews. She actually has set herself up a little cottage industry of which I am incredibly proud of her for. She took the situation at hand and found a way to cope with it.

The incredible thing is her physical health is far worse than my Dad’s, yet she fights for her independence and wins!

I cannot think that this is what she dreamed her retirement would be, who would? Hopes and dreams of travel, good health and leisurely retirement are suddenly not what they are living. But what I admire and respect is how she took the situation and made it bearable. There is a lot to learn from this wise woman. If my Dad has a cowboy spirit (and he does) my Mom has a wonderful put one foot in front of the other , fighter spirit that cannot be broken.

She is the little lady in the wheelchair buzzing around the manor spreading joy, a smile and respect  to the other residents here. She doesn’t let them forget they are people worthy of recognition, worthy of a hello and a conversation. That makes me smile and makes me more than a little proud of her.

The other person that deserves much respect is my sister who spends more time caring for our parents than anyone else. She never complains, she always does it with a smile and at this moment she is my hero.

So although I call the holiday bittersweet upon reflection it is a wonderful holiday because I get to celebrate it with people who love me and who I love more than anything in this world.

I thank God that I have this time to spend with my family and I will be here to help them celebrate the holiday’s in a fashion that makes them smile.

They say Alzheimer’s is indeed a long goodbye………………….but isn’t that just life, whether you have a disease or not?

Thank you God for this holiday that I got to spend with my family. I think I shall make sure my Mom and Dad know this time with them is precious to me and for my sister…………………well, I  think we will just go shopping!