Saturday, December 14, 2013

Christmas Letter 2013

Dear Friends and Family,

What a wonderful year it was!  Last Christmas we celebrated with all the kids.  Teresa, Jess, and Briar Rose came Christmas Eve day and then left for the Holiday Home to visit Tori, Caleb, and kids for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  What fun seeing Rosie in her pretty Christmas dresses! Since her birthday is in December, she always has the cutest Christmas outfits.  Christmas Day Mandy and Chad came for an awesome dinner.  The next day we went to Holiday Island to enjoy the holiday with the rest of the kids.  Tori and Caleb had put up a huge tree and exterior lighting so it was easy to get into the Spirit of things.  Rosie started to walk so that was a highlight of the holidays last year.  New Years found us in Mulvane celebrating with David, Sherry, and boys.

Frank's birthday in February was spent with me recuperating from a cold in lovely Wichita, KS, where there was a record-breaking blizzard that snowed us in the hotel where I had accompanied Frank on his business trip.  We did manage to have a lovely dinner at the Scotch and Sirloin before the snow.  When we were able to shovel out, we headed for the Holiday Home to attend a battle of the bands show in which Caleb was drumming.  That was a fun time.

In March I enjoyed a wonderful spring break.  While Chad and Frank attended the NCAA basketball tournament, I made my way to Kimball, NE.  I stayed with Jess, Alex, and baby Briar Rose.  I spent time with Teresa too.  We always celebrate Jessie's birthday then.  She turned 18.

We were saddened by the passing of my Great Uncle Bud in March.  He was the last of the sixteen kids in my maternal grandma's family.  A great man and a pillar of his community left us.

We had an awesome Mother's Day at the Holiday Home.  We had breakfast at the Mudd Street Cafe in Eureka Springs where I received flowers from Tori.  I think that was the weekend we decided to buy the home in Holiday Island.  It's a lovely property with a panoramic view of the lovely Ozarks from our wrap around deck.  We closed on it in July.  Tori and Caleb continue to rent they just have new landlords. They continue to make improvements on their lovely home in the Woods as well so things are going well for them.  Tori continues her naturopathy practice in both Fort Smith and the Eureka Springs area.  Caleb does construction and handyman work as well as drums for various events.

My good friend, Mitzy Nattress, aunt to Tori  and Teresa, passed away in May.  We celebrated her life in June with photos and shared memories.  She was Mom's beautician for years in Sargent, NE.   The girls were close to her.  They used to stay with her in the summer.  I also feel the loss so much because Mitz was always so sweet and positive.

The summer began with one of the busiest but most amazing times of my life.  I had a family reunion on Mem. Day weekend and then a nice visit with Teresa, Jess, and Rosie.  It got hot early this summer so we set up a pool for the baby and enjoyed watching her so much.  She is a water baby, loving every minute of it.

After that weekend, I started three weeks of graduate work from Friends' University.  I'm always busy re-certifying.  I especially enjoyed the class on humor, but the classes on organization and motivation were good as well.

After my classes I picked up Rosie and Jess.  Jess took PCAL (Pre-college art lab) where she earned three college credits.  I got the privilege of watching Rosie.  She was an absolute blast!  She was a busy little toddler but so much fun.  Loved every minute of it!  The class culminated with an exhibition.  We loved Jessie's art.  Her local newspaper did a nice article about it.

Baba (the grandkids' name for Frank) took Jess, Briar Rose, and me to the Topeka zoo.  It is a grandkid tradition.  It was Rosie's first time to enjoy all the animals, train ride, & 100 year old merry-go-round that her mommy and cousins had experienced so many times.

Camp Nana was a short week at the Holiday Home with a 4th of July boat ride on Table Rock Lake, visits to the park, ice cream, and a drive in movie.

After the art class, we took Kaya on her seven-year-old trip.  Tori and Sierra went with us.  We stopped in Hannibal, MO, the home of Mark Twain, on the way to Niagara Falls.  The Falls were spectacular.  Loved seeing them again. We spent a few days there before going to Toronto.  At Toronto, we attended a musical, went to the CN tower, and met my longtime facebook friend, Cat Forsley.

Labor Day weekend found us once again in Kimball visiting Jess, Teresa, & the baby.  We watched the first NE football game of the season there.  Speaking of football, Frank and Chad bought Jayhawk season tickets so they have been enjoying the tailgate parties and fun times at the KU football stadium.

In October I picked up Mom, and we enjoyed a five-generation weekend with the Kimball folk.  We had a slumber party and treated ourselves to meals out.  It was a memorable time!

That about wraps up the year so far.  We enjoyed Thanksgiving in Kimball and plan to celebrate Christmas at Lawrence and the Holiday Home.  We will probably celebrate New Years with Dave and Sherry and their boys again.  The family is doing well.  Mandy and Teresa continue to work in health care. Mandy and Dustin moved to a new place.  Tori is expanding her naturopathic career. Chad is in his third year of coaching and teaching. Jess and Sierra are in high school.  Jess will graduate in May.  The little ones----Kaya, Samson, and Briar Rose----keep growing and becoming more special and sweet to us every day.  Frank is still instructing insurance, and I am still subbing.  Life is good.  Hope you and yours enjoy the holidays and have a wonderful new year.

Patty and Frank

Pictures:  (1) Grands: Jess, Sierra holding Briar Rose, Samson, Kaya (2) Chad and Kaya playing mini Uno at Camp Nana this summer (3) Girls at Biggs before Jessie's art exhibition: Teresa, Briar Rose, Sierra, Tori, Kaya (4) Girls at the art exhibition: Teresa, Briar Rose, Jess, Kaya, Sierra (5) Dustin and Mandy at Halloween party (6) Rosie (Thanksgiving) (7)  Frank and I (Easter)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Give Joy a Chance

"Be glad for the things you have and you will find you have far more than you thought.  Then you will not miss in the least, the things you have not.  Besides, the happier you are over what has come to you, the more and the more will come to you in the future.  This is indeed a great secret, and if universally applied would cause want to disappear from the face of the whole earth." ~ Christian D. Larson

Counting our blessings in gratitude causes awareness of our abundance.  If we have water, food, and shelter, we are indeed blessed.  If we have family and friends, we have someone with whom to share these blessings.  If we have a relationship with God, we are heirs to the kingdom and can attract all good in our lives.  Indeed we have answered the call of rejoicing and gathered where life is a song, according to the man who wrote the above quote.

Whether we believe life is a struggle or that life is an exciting adventure, our perspective either limits us or frees us.  Those of us who lived during the sixties remember being asked to give peace a chance.  We should also give joy a chance.  If we do, we open ourselves up to all kinds of good.  WE become part of the divine flow that provides everything we need.

Love, Light, and Life,

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Just As I Am

It's so easy to get down on ourselves, but what we really need to do is be our own best friend.  How would we treat our best friend?  That should be our guide for how we treat ourselves.  God loves us just the way we are so we should do the same.

I am always struggling with my weight so I have to treat myself as I would if my best friend had the same challenge.  I remind myself that I have dominion over my behavior.  I can change how I feel. I don't have to have that stuffed feeling, indigestion, gas, and discomfort when I am trying to sleep--- because step by step, thought by thought, I can change how I think and how I respond to food.  I can remember that some food craving I have is not worth the body I have always craved.

However, that being said, I love myself, even in the middle of any challenge I face.  I don't have to measure up to anyone's standards, not even my own, to be loved by God.  He loves me unconditionally, and that is how I need to feel about myself as well.

I am worthy, and so are you.  God loves us just the way we are.  I remember that old hymn that used to be played at the end of Billy Graham's crusades, Just As I Am, as a reminder I don't have to change to be worthy. I am worthy of good health, happiness, success, and inner peace.  I accept the promise of John 10:10, "I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly."

I have everything I need to face every challenge in life.  I have dominion over whatever is thrown my way.  You have it too.  God blesses us every day because we are His beloved offspring.

Light and Love,

Saturday, April 13, 2013


I let go of limited thinking.  Why?  Well, seven years ago, a beautiful miracle happened.  My granddaughter Kaya was born.  She is an absolute miracle because less than two years before her birth, her mom Tori was in a very serious motorcycle accident and was told that she would not have any more children. We worried and worried about Kaya. Tori kept saying that Kaya would choose her own birthday, and she did.  She was born over a month later than her due date, and she was and is perfect in every way.  She weighed 9 lbs 1 oz so was a big, bouncing baby girl.  She is awesome.  Her name Kaya is Hopi Indian for wise child, and wise she is!  Tomorrow is her birthday, and she taught me that God is in control.  I do not have to strive in life with such intensity.  God is good and everything will work out perfectly.

Light and Love,

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday Forgiveness

It's Good Friday!  It's a great day to think about forgiveness and seeing good in everyone.  It would be so difficult to forgive if we had been Jesus back in the day, and yet we know He did.  Luke 23:34 says, "Then Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.'"  It is so cleansing, and yet not an easy thing.  It is so important, though, for our inner peace.

If you have trouble forgiving, God will help you.  He says in Isaiah 54:4, 10 and 55:9, "Fear not...My steadfast love shall not depart from you, and My covenant of peace shall not be removed....For as the heavens are higher than earth, so are my ways higher than your thoughts."  So even if our human reason won't let us forgive, we have God's Spirit within that will see us through.  He will give us strength to forgive and love and see the good in people.

This Easter Sunday as we remember Christ's resurrection, we should remember that God sees us through the darkest night to the brightest day.  When we awaken Easter morning, we will joyfully go forth with the new life and knowledge that God has seen us through the darkness and brought us into the light of forgiveness, peace, and joy.

Light and Love,

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Blessings Galore!

God has blessed me beyond measure, and I am grateful.  I am happy.  I have a great husband, an awesome family, a flexible, satisfying job, and a lovely home.  Yet my life has not been without its trials.  Both my girls have been in intensive care.  Thankfully, both recovered.  I have been through divorce, but I have an amazing husband now.  For all the pain and trouble I have endured, God has blessed me double.  That's how He rolls.  I give myself credit too.  I believe this quote by Jemome P. Fleishman, "It takes courage to live----courage and strength and hope and humor.  And courage and strength and hope and humor have to be bought and paid for with pain and work and prayers and tears." Not that I deserve all the blessings I receive.  I realize that had it not been for God's goodness and favor, I would not have all the blessings I do.

People may be jealous of our blessings and wonder why we are happy when they are miserable, and the best thing we can do for them is to be a smiling example of God's goodness and peace.  Psalm 24:1 says, "The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof." He blesses us daily with all the abundance of all the world's beauty.  And this is available to everyone so no one needs to walk around defeated.  Joel Osteen says, "Don't let anyone make you feel guilty for the favor, the honor, the joy, the peace, the victory that God has given you."  The truth is that these blessings come from God and are free to all who choose happiness on a daily basis.  We will have pain and tears, but with work and prayer and God's grace, we can overcome anything with a positive attitude.  Every day is a gift from God.

Love and Light,

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Voices Inside My Head

Oh, the voices! Do you hear them? "They just use your mind and they never give you credit. It's enough to drive you crazy if you let it" ~ Dolly Pardon (Nine to Five). Do they say things like, "It's a dreary day", "You are too heavy", "This job sucks", or "You are never going to get well"?

 When those kinds of voices come into my head, I know it is time to change channels. It's time to turn on "It's going to be a bright, bright sunshiny day" or "I love myself so much that I can love you so much", "Take this job and love it", or "I'm healthy, wealthy, and wise". We need to guard our minds. Joel Osteen says, "You may have to weed through a thousand negative thoughts until you hear another positive sound. The Voice of Victory channel saying, 'You can do all things through Christ. Your best days are ahead. This situation is about to turn around.' Latch onto the good."

 The more we train our minds, the easier it is to switch channels when we start to get negative. Let the negative thoughts roll off like water on a duck's back. My cousin Sandy and I love the verse in Philippians 4:8 that says, "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure---if anything is excellent or praiseworthy---think about such things." Sandy's late husband Don loved that verse, and she loves it too. It is one of my favorites as well because when you program your mind this way, there is no room for negative, condemning thoughts to enter.

 WE want to live a blessed life full of happiness and joy. The best way to do this is through gratitude. For instance, lately I have been sick, but I am truly grateful that it is only temporary....some kind of little virus that has almost run its course. I truly know that God has given me a great immune system, and that my body is well able to fight it off. Every day I feel a little better, and I am grateful. I have a husband who takes good care of me, a flexible job that allows me to take time off, and a very supportive bunch of friends who encourage me all the time. When I think of all the things I have for which to be grateful, there is just no room for troubling thoughts.

 I read an analogy about keeping the negativity out of our minds the same way we keep thieves out of our house. We lock the doors. We keep our valuable positive thoughts inside and lock the door on any negativity. This positivity will cure us of what ails us too.  I'm already starting to feel better just thinking about it.

 No longer will I dwell on toxicity. Instead I will think powerful healing thoughts releasing any bitterness, unforgiveness, or disappointment that drags down my immune system. I rise above those thoughts and lock them out. There are lots of things on a daily basis that come against us: offenses, rude remarks, hurtful words. What shall we do with them? Shake them off. It's not easy, but God the Good is on our side so we just feed our mind God thoughts....thoughts of faith, hope, and encouragement.

 I read the story of Henry Winkler, the Fonz, who had severe dyslexia (not diagnosed until he was in his thirties). His father was an international businessman and his parents were very hard on him. They called him "dumm hund" which is German for "dumb dog". Academically he struggled, but in speech and drama he stood out. He dealt with his hurt by making jokes about himself. Of course, we know how that he became a very famous TV star, playing a tough high school drop out on "Happy Days". He shut out the voices of his parents and listened to his own talented voice, and we all know how that turned out.

 When it comes to the voices inside our heads, we have to think, "Who put these here?" Was it me? Was it parents? Was it God? Once we determine the source, we think about whether the voices are positive or negative. Let in the good, lock out the bad. Look out, World. My voices are predicting great things!

 Love and Light,
 (The illustration below is Jessica Parkos' original art.)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Treasure Inside

Christian D. Larson is one of my favorite authors.  I read a little from him every day.  One of the quotes I read recently is that "it is our privilege to have abundance of all that is rich and beautiful in the visible world, but it is the wealth and the beauty of the soul that gives happiness; it is the treasures we lay up in the spiritual within that make all other treasures worthwhile."  I know from experience that we too often look to other people and outside experiences for happiness and encouragement when in truth, we need to look inside our own selves for that.

Inside we do have the strength and resolve to become exactly what we want to be.  We may have to dig deep sometimes when things look impossible, but there is real freedom in knowing that we have what it takes inside us.  Sometimes we just need to bring to mind the victories we have had in the past.  For instance, I often look at my diamond ring to remind myself that in spite of failed relationships in the past, I now have found true happiness with the man I love.

When I find myself discouraged with life, I remember to go with the flow and realize that it is in God's hands.  I am friends with several people who have no faith in God.  I honestly do not know how they keep themselves strong and positive.  If someone tells me they have no belief or faith in God, I always answer, "That's OK. God has belief and faith in you."  I truly believe that too.  "God is love," according to I John 4:16.  I find great comfort in that for them, but I am certainly relieved that I myself have faith to get me through the challenging times.

How do we pick ourselves up when we experience discouragement or depression?  We turn our thoughts to "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure---if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." (Phil. 4:8) Early in my facebook experience, I joined a group called "Positive People" which grew to have something like 50,000 people at one time. Cat Forsley founded the group and Agnes Napenas was one of the first people I chatted with from this group.  Agnes had her own group called "Bem Healing Connections". Then I started a group called "The Greatest of These Is Love".   It helped me connect with many other positive folk, and I still have many friends from this group that inspire me with their posts. I also often find encouragement on facebook from several pages that I have "liked".  

If someone is having a problem, I pray for them.  We lift each other up.  I receive mostly positive things in my news feed because I mark "notifications" for those people who are encouragers or I star them as close friends so I see their stuff.  This is important because facebook can be positive or negative for us depending on how we use our settings and what kind of groups and pages we peruse, like, and join.

Everyone who knows me well realizes I have very liberal leanings in my political ideas, and I am proud of that.  However, I have many conservative friends and relatives.  We have discussions sometimes, but I try to never intentionally hurt anyone's feelings.  Sometimes I am sure I do, though, just as sometimes I get my feelings hurt.  The thing I've learned is that we need to accept others and their ideas even if they differ from ours.   I'm not saying that we should keep still about the things that are important to us, but just that we should not take things as a personal affront if we disagree.

Another thing that lifts me up is exercise.  I know I need to go to the gym or walk or bike on a regular basis.  Even if I don't feel like it at the time, I know that afterwards I will feel so much better.  The body is a marvelous machine that we need to keep in working order.  That affects our mental well-being for sure.

Watch your thoughts.  Keep them positive. I have a gratitude list I take out if I become discouraged.  It is long!! Say "thank You, God" a lot.  Have faith and mentally rehearse everything working out just the way it is supposed to happen.  Don't compare yourself in a negative way to others.  When I go to the gym and see all those young, thin bodies, I try to remember that I have earned every one of my wrinkles and that I am doing something about my fat just by being there.  I leave proud instead of discouraged because I don't have their beautiful bodies.  I see my own beauty inside and know God made me perfect.  I am a victor just for going to the gym, and I am better off when I do my workout. If we keep our mind on God's goodness and have a good self-image, we will not be discouraged.

Another thing that keeps us from discouragement and depression is to let go of things we can't control and to quit trying to please everybody else or to get them to please us.  Forgive quickly and don't judge and interpret the behavior of others.  We are so much happier if we don't hold grudges or try to get people to change who they are.

Keep track of your treasures.  I've seen teachers' rooms full of positive notes written by their students.  I've kept my own positive notes and pictures students have drawn for me.  These things keep me encouraged.  Of course, I also have pictures and cards from my husband, kids, and grandkids that mean the world to me.  I just have to look at them to give myself a smile and joy.  I also know how to encourage myself with my journal.  I celebrate accomplishments.  I keep critical spirits at bay whether they come from others or myself.

Another thing that can get us down is the economy, but with faith in God, I do believe things will turn around.  I always keep the hope alive by remembering how the pioneers made it through the hard times and how my grandparents made it through the depression.  I have faith in our leaders and know that God is guiding them to make good decisions.

Leo Tolstoy tells a story of a beggar who sat on a box for years asking for money, not knowing that all the while there was gold inside the box.  Too many of us do not realize what we have.  Bob Greene tells us to "care deeply for yourself, and have the wherewithal to do what it takes to make yourself happy.  Go out and claim the life you deserve!"  Good advice.

Light and Love,

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Listening and Lifting

"It's important to listen.  Most people just want to know that they are heard," wrote Anne Meara.  It is so important to be a good listener.  So often we want to do the talking, but there are so many hurting people in this world that need a listening ear.  I remember one morning when I was spinning at the club that a woman began to cry as she left the room.  I followed her in the locker room and asked her if everything is all right.  She didn't confide in me, but we became friends after that.  She told me that she knew I cared and that she needed that compassion right then.  I was relieved that I had followed my instincts. We never know who will cross our path and need a listening ear or a healing touch.

I am so happy that I can turn to God when things get me down.  He is my healer.  He gives me peace and takes away my fear.  So many people picture God as a judgmental old man who is waiting to squish them if they make a mistake.  I couldn't worship a God like that.  I John says that God is love, and I believe that.  Furthermore, I know that He is the one person who will listen to me and to anyone who turns to Him.  We can be healers too and restore people by listening and offering kind words.

We are the containers that God fills with His love.  We can release that wherever we go and lift one another up by listening and showing compassion.  One of my favorite photos is the one of Obama comforting the woman who had been through hurricane Sandy and Governor Chris Christie was there as well.  It shows that disaster knows no walls.  No political barriers could keep these men from demonstrating their humanity.  As Jessica Winter so eloquently put it, "The capacity for uplift is part of what makes us essentially, euphorically human." Let's follow that example by listening and lifting up people who are suffering.

Love and Light,