Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing. – Mother Teresa

Landslide of changes

…Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?
uhm.. hmm… I don’t know. uhm hmm.
Well, I’ve been afraid of changing
‘Cause I’ve built my life around you…
But time makes you bolder,
children get older,
And I’m getting older too…
I take my love, take it down.
I climb a mountain and turn around.
Thank You Stevie Nicks for expressing what is in my heart in a beautiful classic song, Landslide. I know you didn’t write these lyrics about children growing up, and all the changes that are going on in my life… you were so young when you wrote them… but never-the-less they are so expressive of my life right now.
My babies are grown up and have real jobs, real car payments, and will never be living with us under one roof again. {“children get older..”} I am so very proud of both of my babies and so excited for their futures… but knowing that times are changing is hard. My last 25 years has been dedicated to loving my children and “building my life around them” has left me feeling alittle strange. Victor and I LOVE being empty-nesters, but there is still a sadness for times gone by. {“can I handle the season’s of my life?”}
Changes are a part of life {“I’ve been afraid of changes”} and I always get really sentimental and emotional when I am going through major changes. I have recently made a huge career change as well. {“I climbed a mountain and I turned around”} I am so excited about it but fearful at the same time. The What-Ifs in life can really pull down an over-analyzer like me.
I start to over-analyze what am I to do at this stage in life. {“I’m getting older too”}
I have decided to invest my time in my Identity in Christ.. and not just in my being a mom and wife. {“oh mirror in the sky, what is love?”} I have decided to not worry so much about what other people think, and people-pleasing {“time makes you bolder”}.
I am going to enjoy our empty nest time and enjoy time together – we started off with babies so this is going to be a honeymoon!
Victor, lets go drive around on a summer night with the sun roof open and get a coke and listen to music – like we are kids again!
{“can the child within my heart rise above?”}
Yes !!!!! IMG_4757

My Identity is in Him

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I tend to be a people-pleaser. It is a daily struggle for me. Although I am very much a “keep it real” kind of gal … it is still always in the back of my mind that I need to please people and I want everyone to like me. Unfortunately, not everyone will like me… or like every decision I make, and that’s ok. I have to tell myself that all the time.. “IT IS OKAY!”
I am almost 50 years old… well I’m 48 (no need to rush it 😉 and I am always concerned about what people think of me and if they like me. Guess what?… it doesn’t matter!.. my identity is in Christ. I can rest in the security that I am who HE says I am,
not what others want me to be or expect from me.
In the past few years, I have begun to try to pray about all decisions Victor and I make. We make our decisions together and don’t usually rush into them.
If we feel led by God to do something, we do it. It is important to me to please God more than anything. Sometimes this means having to say no to other things… Even though in my heart I know my Identity is in Him, I still struggle with the thought I may disappoint someone if I can not fulfill what they want or need as well (usually its what they WANT not necessarily a real need) … Which brings me to my next point, YOU CAN NEVER PLEASE EVERYONE … SO QUIT TRYING so hard! I have to say this to myself!
God intentionally places certain people in our lives, I truly believe that… and I have noticed I am surrounded by close friends that tell me, “quit worrying about that… you can’t make everyone happy.” Thanks God – for putting those people in my life.

I don’t pretend to have it all together. Why? because I DON’T have it all together and that’s ok… guess what? No one does. The truth is we all fail, and we all fall short of the glory of God. We can be real with each other because none of us are perfect. As much as I “keep it real”, one of the most difficult things for me is trust. I have a lot of friendly acquaintances and friends, but I don’t share most of my personal life with many people. I don’t trust many people, and its mainly from past hurts. Its important to me to have a trusted circle of friends that I can turn to during times I need prayer and times I may just need a friend. But I am learning that it is also important to share my story. Telling our story is how God uses us to help others and to glorify Him. It is hard to do, but the more I pray about finding my identity in Him, I feel him leading me to share something about myself with another person when they need to hear it. I am still prudent and not public, but open to sharing if led to do so. It may help them, its not always for me to know. But what I do know is this, he wants me to share with others, and not worry about what others think, and rest in the security that my identity is in Him.

Forgiveness…

I believe with all my heart that to truly find peace in our hearts we must forgive each other, from those we love to those we don’t even know. We must also forgive ourselves and turn our sin over to Christ.

Holding on to hurt, sin, and grudges does nothing but cause bitterness in our hearts.

We all have situations that are easier for us to forgive than others. For me … I can forgive when someone has hurt me, but if someone hurts my kids, my husband or my best friend… LOOK OUT ! I have a fierce heart for defending those I love. However, I need to make sure that when I do defend those I love, I am not forgetting about forgiveness.

I get angry when someone cast stones at those I love when they have done wrong… again… I move in to defend anyone that I care for… saying things like no one is perfect… and they aren’t ! Also saying, it could happen to anyone, and it could ! No one is above this happening in their family, no one has a right to cast stones, and they don’t ! Of course there must be accountability but also love and forgiveness.

So what do I do when its someone I don’t know but hear about?… do I cast stones? I hope not…. I hope I never do it again if I have ever condemned them … whatever someone has done.. that person has a mother, a father, maybe a son or daughter, maybe brothers and sisters that all need to be prayed for. That person is a human capable of mistakes and we must remember that so are we … and pray for God to cover them in forgiveness, mending their hearts and helping them through their situation.

– Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.Col 3: 12-14

Stephanie Swindell

Stephanie Swindell
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Rainbow Room coordinator, book lover, wife

As Community Partners coordinator of the Amarillo Child Protective Services Rainbow Room, Stephanie Swindell manages the emergency resource room that assists some of the area’s most vulnerable children and families. Created in 1996 by Community Partners of Amarillo, the Rainbow Room was only the second such room in Texas at its launch. It provides clothing, diapers, baby formula, school supplies, cribs, and more for abused or neglected children and their families.

“I love what the Rainbow Room does and I love being a part of it,” Stephanie says. “The most fulfilling part of my job is being a part of an organization that is making a difference in the lives of children in our community. Every day a child benefits from the donations given to the Rainbow Room.” On any given week, the Room might provide a stuffed animal for a frightened child who has escaped a home of cruelty or neglect, or groceries for a single mom struggling to keep her kids fed.

Stephanie praises the compassionate CPS caseworkers who endure tremendously challenging jobs. “They might be summoned during the night to rescue a child or to help a family escape an abusive situation,” she says. “Children often enter the foster care system with nothing but the clothes they are wearing.” In such cases, even the smallest comfort – a quilt, a teddy bear – can make a difference.

In 2000, Stephanie first encountered the Rainbow Room while volunteering with the Junior League of Amarillo. “It was close to my heart then, and never really left,” she says. At the time, she owned and operated A Book to Remember, a small second-hand bookstore. Sales dropped following the advent of e-readers, so Stephanie sold her inventory of books and looked for a career change. “When I heard that the position [at the Rainbow Room] was open for the first time in 16 years, I was thrilled,” she explains. “I have a passion for this project. My heart is here.”

When not providing for children in CPS care, Stephanie enjoys the company of her husband, Victor, with whom she graduated from Amarillo High School in 1985. Were they high school sweethearts? “No,” Stephanie laughs. “At our 10-year reunion, we were voted ‘most unlikely couple to couple.’ But I guess we’re doing something right.” The Swindells are the parents of Shelby, 22, and Sawyer Beth, 20.

Q&A

Right now, I’m listening to… a song on my iPhone – “Come to the River” by Rhett Walker Band.

My friends and family call me… “Steph.” Some of my family still calls me “Sissy.”

My favorite meal to make from scratch is… breakfast for dinner.

In an alternate life, I would’ve been a… storm chaser or private investigator.

The most famous or interesting person I’ve ever met is… I have seen a few famous people but never officially met anyone famous. I am most interested in the lives of our kids.

If I had an open plane ticket to anywhere, I would go to… Ambergris Caye, Belize.

My go-to stress reliever is… music.

One of my favorite childhood toys was… my Spirograph, Shrinky Dinks or Lite-Brite.

My favorite most-quotable movie is… “You’ve Got Mail.”

If I were a character in a book, I would be… when I was a child, I always wanted to be Pippi Longstocking. She was pretty cool.

The greatest piece of advice I’ve ever received is… my prayers are more powerful than my presence.

You may be surprised to know that I… used to own a bookstore and I love to read.

I know every word to the song… “I Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty.

My favorite bad-for-me-food is… chips and dip.

My Facebook friend count is… 1,302.

I’m secretly addicted to the TV series… “Parenthood.”

If I had a time machine I would travel… back to the ’80s – if I knew then what I know now.

by Jason Boyett
Jason Boyett is an Amarillo writer and the author of “O Me of Little Faith, Pocket Guide to the Apocalypse,” and several other books. Jason’s writing has appeared in a variety of national publications including The Daily Beast, Salon, and The Washington Post. A former creative director in the local advertising industry, his work can also be seen on Amarillo billboards, heard in Amarillo radio ads, and followed in celebrity social media streams he’s not allowed to divulge. Jason is currently writing a young adult novel, and has known his wife, Aimee, since both were preschoolers in an Amarillo church nursery. Learn more at jasonboyett.com.

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I was Tagged By : Jeanna Hayes  and Sherlene Hayes on Facebook  and told to list 7 Things you may or may not know about me…

1. I do not have any tattoos
2.  I love movies ! My favorite movies are not romantic comedies like you would think… I do like them… but my most favorite movies are “Sports” movies… I guess because they are so inspirational… I have been known to be so moved by a movie that I stand up and clap in the theater at the end of a great sports movie … you can ask Vic.
3. In an alternate life I would have been a storm chaser or a private investigator
4.  I prefer vanilla
5. I Love funny people… in fact a fun sense of humor is the first thing I look for in a friend.
6. I have had the same best friends since I was in 7th grade in 1980.
7. Although I am a very outgoing person…  I am very private about my personal life.

 

BFFs
BFF's
BFFs
BFFs

Empty-Nesters

My Pride and Joy

My kids are all grown up. I can’t believe it ! Somedays I miss them being here, but we are lucky because they both live within 15 minutes of us.

I’ve always heard of people having a hard time being empty-nesters… but we are loving it. We do whatever we want! We have had structure and schedules coming out of our ears since the day we had babies and we started off our marriage with a baby which was amazing but sometimes difficult.

It is so great to not have so many commitments and just be spontaneous. We are best friends and that makes it even better. Sometimes we eat breakfast for dinner, we watch tv in our underwear… in the living room !!! We come and go when we feel like it…. for dinner, a movie, anything we want to do without worrying about the kids. Its really great.  Of course we still see the kids every week… and I actually text with each one of them daily… but having a clean guest bathroom all the time is the bomb-digity!

We really love this new stage of life we are in.  The seasons we have been through have all been great, but this one may be more special to us because we never really had time alone together at the beginning of our marriage. Shelby was 14 months old when we married. Yes, that’s right, we have a love child. Then we had Sawyer a year and 1/2 after we married. The kiddos are 2 1/2 years apart. It was fun raising them close together.  We were very involved in all of their extra curricular activities and school too. I was a girl scout leader and coached cheerleading and Victor coached hockey. We went to every play, game, open house, awards assembly, banquet, and we had amazing birthday parties!!! Our kids were loved and they knew it.  We sacrificed financially so I could be home with them afterschool everyday.  It was the right thing to do for our family.

We have been together for 24 years and married for almost 22 years … we have had ups and downs like any couple and stood by eachother through the good and the bad. We are so blessed with our beautiful babies that are both now grown up. We did our best as parents and I look forward to being a grandparent… someday… but for now… its me and Vic time… and we are loving it !

The Kiss of a Lifetime

The Kiss of a Lifetime

My World

My World

Vic & Steph

Vic & Steph

I did, I do

I did, I do

My Family in Belize March 2012

This is one of my favorite pictures ever. We went on a trip to Belize March 2012, and it was so amazing. I loved spending time with Vic and the kids. Taking a trip with the kids as they are young adults now was really different and very fun. Our time in Belize was unforgettable and so very memorable. We stayed in an amazing Villa, La Perla Del Caribe, 6 miles north of San Pedro, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize with my Sister Lisa, brother-in-law Kyle and their friends. We fished, snorkeled and went into the jungle and to the Myan Ruins. The restaurants were amazing too.

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