My kids....My heart

My kids....My heart

Monday, December 27, 2010

Welcome 2011

I can’t remember a time when I was so looking forward to the end of a year and looking to the future with so much anticipation. It’s as though I have been promised that 2011 will bring better days than 2010 did. I admit it. Two Thousand Ten was certainly not my favorite year.

Two Thousand Eleven what will you bring?

My beautiful baby girl will turn 18 on January 16, 2011 at precisely 10:08pm. My heart swells with pride at the very thought of Katherine. She is incredibly beautiful from the outside in. She is kind and loving and remarkably intelligent. It is a privilege to be her mother.

April will bring a 25th wedding anniversary and a 50 year old husband! It is absolutely inconceivable to me that twenty five years ago I married that 25 year old boy. Wynn Stark is compassionate, kind, and the source of my strength. He has spent the last 25 years of his life being my rock, my confidant and my most trusted friend.

May 18th will sneak up on us soon enough. This date will mark the end of Katherine’s high school career. Four years dedicated to academic excellence have her looking at a promising future at Grand Canyon University. She made it look easy, but I know how much time and effort she put in to her high school days. Her efforts paid off with a scholarship from GCU.

Jes should be pretty excited when June rolls around…. He will get his driver’s permit and hopefully one of those two VW bugs in our backyard will be in driving condition. He & his dad have a lot to do before the calendar says it's June!

Then comes August. Wynn & I plan on celebrating our 25th with the “other” Starks in Alaska. If life goes as planned, we'll be celebrating in true Stark fashion with a weeklong fishing expedition alongside Wade & Karin in Valdez, Alaska. Ocean fishing with Karin Stark is pure joy and Valdez is breathtakingly beautiful. Valdez holds the kind of beauty that seeps into your soul and calms your every nerve. The ocean and mountain views are so spectacular that I am certain if there really is a place called heaven it must look like Valdez.

October 31, 2011 will be a bit more frightening than any year before; Jes will be 16 and driving, I’m sure. John Edward Stark turning sixteen, Wow! That doesn’t even sound possible to me. Jes. Jesse. John Edward Stark. My son. He would want you to think of him as an awesome skater, and that he is. He could care less if you knew how incredibly smart he really is. A’s. Yes, the only letter on his report card. As a matter of fact, he could care less what you thought of his style, his choice of music or anything else he does. Jes is a free spirit - a very handsome free spirit, who definitely knows who he is and he’s not going to be what you want him to be. I absolutely love that about him.

I know that there will be a lot of surprises in 2011, some will be wonderful and some not so much. There is absolutely no way to guess what 2011 has in store for us.
Today, I am grateful for the excited anticipation that is filling my stomach. Right now, I feel like it’s a present waiting to be unwrapped.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Love Can Not Heal A Broken Mind

I’ve spoken and written much about the power of love. I have always had a quiet knowing that love is the foundation for everything we do. Love holds the power to heal a broken heart. Love is the vessel in which one soul reaches another.

Love is

~Magnificent ~ Miraculous ~ Brilliant ~ Glorious

The belief that love conquers all sustained my belief that love could also heal a broken psyche. The gut wrenching truth is love can not heal a tortured mind. What I describe as a tortured mind doctors describe as clinical depression. I now know this; love alone can not heal depression. This realization has brought me to my knees. Literally. This truth is the hardest truth I have ever had to bear.

Lately, there have been days I feel like I have to remind myself to breathe. Have you ever breathed so deep, you felt as though you might swallow your own lungs? For a moment, you are unable to breathe at all. That’s how it feels when you watch your partner suffocating in their own mental anguish. It’s as though they’ve become paralyzed from the mental torment they have no words to describe. And you become paralyzed from the fear of their pain. A broken mind suffers in solitude because the voice of inner torment is so loud that the tormented are no longer able to hear a gentle voice whispering softly that they are loved. No words filter through the pain and no amount of physical touch heals the self inflicted wounds caused by mental anguish.

It’s difficult for me to describe accurately the depth of aloneness I have felt while watching the man I love become isolated by his own tortured thoughts. The brutal reality is that my love can not save him in those dark moments when he no longer loves himself.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Poetry, I've Missed You!

I woke up this morning with an urge to write
The words dancing in my head
Fight to form a straight line

Expressing myself through lines on a page
It’s when my truth comes out of its raggedy cage

Swirling words in my head, how I wish I could read them
As they’re flying around
Like my pulse, I can feel them
This morning they are rampant and won’t settle down

Anger or sadness – not understood
Emotions I would express if only I could

Poetry, I have missed you!
It’s been years since we met
When bleeding hearts
Healed from words that we shared

To sooth my own soul
Is the reason I write
It’s the one thing I know that brings darkness to light

Monday, October 4, 2010

Faith & Courage

Faith and Courage

Faith: firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust

Courage: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty

Faith & Courage. Those are two small, profound words that are tattooed above the ankle on my left foot. Why would a 43 year old woman decide to tattoo those words on her ankle? Well the idea was born to share a life-bonding moment with two remarkable young ladies that I shared my days with at Conchos School. I believed with my whole heart that I provided them with unconditional love and guidance. And I wholeheartedly believed that I nurtured them through some pretty intense days of teaching at Conchos School. In my mind, I believed that I gave them strength and reassurance. And some days, well, I was just their cheerleader. Upon their departure, I quickly discovered how they nurtured me through some pretty intense days at Conchos School. I quickly realized that they provided me with strength, unconditional love and on some days – yes, they were my personal cheerleaders.

Courage - The word I used to describe them over and over again. It is absolutely a perfect description. It is not possible to teach without courage – that is an absolute fact.

Faith – The word faith came to mind the very day we drove to the tattoo parlor. The only justification I have for this word is that God whispered in my ear that day that I was absolutely going to need it!

It’s been almost five months since these beautiful and courageous ladies shared their every days with me. Oh, how I miss them. It is not possible for them to know how much their love held me up through my own personal journey. Over the past several months, I have experienced some gut wrenching days. It is simply not necessary to reveal the details here but I know with certainty that I could not have survived those days without a little bit of faith, a healthy dose of courage and the love from these very special young ladies.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

She Was An Angel....

She was an angel who decided to leave.
Broken wings and feeble, she had lost all belief.

Unspoken were words ~ unheard were her dreams.
Friends who had loved her are still awakened with screams.

It was a violent departure not understood.
Someone so righteous yet misunderstood.

So, in the darkness, I think of her now.
And I cry just a little and I ask myself how.

How could she leave us, our wings broken too.
For a world no better than the one she knew.

An angel with no mercy
She left us dispelled
To find the truth in the mystery
She never unveiled.

- written on November 9, 1989

My dear friend, Jennifer Young, returned the poem I wrote many years ago to me yesterday; the very day I was introduced to Yonna’s mother, Kathy, for the first time.
Instantly, I knew Kathy would help heal my heart in places I tried to forget were wounded.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Life Goes On

There is no greater blessing than to be present, when by the grace of God, a new life enters this world. Of course, when I gave birth to my own children I was overwhelmed with pure love and joy beyond measure. The moment when a woman becomes a mother is surreal. Through you, life goes on. I can not fully express with words the honor and sincere gratitude I feel toward the beautiful women who have allowed me to share in that spectacular and miraculous moment in their lives. Thank you is simply inadequate.

Although it was excruciating, I was also blessed to be present when my grandfather took his last breath and the light that had shined so brightly in his eyes faded away. To be present when that bridge from life to death is crossed is a sacred gift. I felt strongly that my grandmother would be waiting for him on that bridge and I hoped I’d feel her presence as he left us to meet her there. That day in particular, I found myself praying hard that life, indeed, does go on.

I absolutely love to stand at the edge of the ocean and let the waves crash over me and pull the sand away beneath my feet. In those moments, in my mind, the ocean and I are one. The magnificent and unending sound of the waves crashing along the shore is nature’s promise of eternity. Soon, I will be walking along the ocean's edge and I will take delight in that beautiful promise that life goes on.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Love Is The Answer

For some reason, when the world starts falling apart around us, we start searching for real answers. When our lives appear to be running smoothly we must feel like we have the all the answers; then along comes misery to remind us that perhaps we don’t. I certainly don’t want to give the impression that I have been wallowing in misery but most definitely the last several months have been full of days that have tested my strength. I would have said faith but I have always considered myself short in that category ~ to this day I am working on it.

So recently, I picked up a book by my favorite author, Marianne Williamson and I read the following line, "Human relationships exist to produce love." I tried to continue down the page but my eyes returned to that sentence over and over. I’m not sure that any other words I’ve ever read have made so much sense. I not only heard the words in my head as I read them, but I felt them. I felt them in my stomach and I felt them wrap themselves warmly around my heart.

On Tuesday morning, I was sitting in a pew at a church during Ray Holt’s funeral service, listening to his son, Colby, speak about the love of his father. I know his relationship with his dad was, at times, complicated but when his father departed this earth his love is what came to the surface. When Colby spoke about the love he had for his father it was pure. His father’s love endured death and will reside in Colby forever. Ultimately Colby’s relationship with his dad existed to produce that love. There may have been many other things that tried to get in the way, but in the end love triumphed and you could see it and feel it in the room that day.

I will occasionally read back through my own blogs, and recently, even some writings from over 20 years ago. It helps me remember who I am and who I once was. In most of my writings, love, on some level, has been the theme. When the world starts falling apart around us love is what sustains us. Love is the answer. It’s not hard to know that when you look into the eyes of your children or the man you adore. It absolutely proves itself to be true when you embrace your mother or receive a tender hug from a long time friend at the exact time you need it most.

I am convinced that the purpose of our lives on this earth is to create happiness for ourselves and each other and we can only accomplish this through love. Love is the answer ~ it’s simple and it makes sense.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Update 10.02.10 ~ Imagine Being a Teacher from India

For those of you who read the blog entry about my remarkable teacher friends from India the story did not end as we feared it would. Both teachers and their families did have to return to India for about one month, but at the last hour our federal government renewed their Visas. They were able to return to the United States just this past week. I am thrilled to announce that one friend returned to work at Conchos School on Friday, October 1st! My other friend, who is an amazing teacher with a beautiful and kind soul, took a job near Show Low, Arizona when the prospects of her returning to our district were incredibly bleak. We pray, that at this time next year, she will be teaching in a class at our school! Through prayers, strength, and an unwavering belief that this situation would work out for them ~ indeed it did. What an amazing story! (Thank you for asking Erica.)


Imagine for a moment, leaving everything and everyone you have ever known for a chance to teach American children. You board a plane for America, bringing with you only your desire to better your life and the lives of those depending on you back in your home country of India.

Imagine arriving to this country with no driver’s license, no home and being at the total mercy of strangers to get back and forth to your job every day. Imagine the gut wrenching pain you would feel after phone calls from your children back home asking when they’ll see you again. Their fate is out of your control. You just pray.

Imagine arriving to class on your first day of school and realizing that American children don’t appreciate the fact that it is an honor to be sitting in your classroom. In India only the extremely fortunate have the opportunity of obtaining an education. American children take it for granted and don’t always share with you, that yes indeed, they want to be there.

Imagine that nearly a year later your family is able to come to America. Imagine the pain in your six your old’s face and the fear she has now that you may leave her again. She’s afraid when you go into another room that there may be a door on the other side that allows you to escape. Yes, imagine that it takes a long time for a child to feel safe that you won’t ever leave her again. Imagine a dear lady befriending you, becoming your American Mom. Imagine hearing your children call her grandma. Imagine that her whole life now has become about making your family feel safe and secure in America. Imagine your own teenagers falling in love with America.

Imagine that over the course of three years, you have changed the lives of American children. You have taken their lives in a new direction. You have helped them to understand that like Indian children, American children, too, are fortunate to receive an education. They’ve come to love and appreciate your love and appreciation for education. Imagine that you are responsible for children falling in love with math and becoming excited about science. Some, indeed, may wish to become scientists!

Imagine over the course of those three years that both your parents die, first your father then exactly one year later – to the day - your mother. Imagine that you can not go home to their burials. Imagine the birth of a child and the death of a grandfather.

Now, I ask you to imagine that Monday, July 26, 2010 is the day you expect to return to school but on Thursday, July 22, you receive a letter that your American Visa will not be renewed. This is the fate of two amazing teachers, that I have worked with, laughed with and cried for over the last three years. They are two extraordinary women, with a love of teaching that runs so deep that it is the core of who they are; there is no doubt that they were put on this earth to teach.

*As I sit here trying to come up with an end to this story, I realize that perhaps I can not because the story is not over. I ask you, the reader, to take a moment to pray for these beautiful ladies. Perhaps the power of prayer will persuade those in control of their fate to make the right decision.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Back To School Time....

Mid July doesn’t mean back to school time to many people, but it always does to me. This will be the sixteenth time I will be a part of an amazing team of people welcoming beautiful little faces to a brand new school year. I arrived on the campus of Conchos School on August 24, 1994 - three days in to the school year. It may seem strange that I remember the exact date but I will never forget it. August 24th is my grandmother’s birthday and I am quite sure that she is the guiding force that led me to Conchos School.

Here I sit sixteen years later, readying myself for another fresh new start. The very best thing about working in the school environment is that every year it is the same and every year it is so different. In a way, it’s like getting a new job every year. This year, we will welcome a few new faces to our staff. I pray that they love our kids and community as if both were their very own. I hope that they chose the field of teaching because their hearts told them to. I trust that they believe they are difference makers because indeed they are.

Today is Friday, July 9th. It's hard to believe that it has been five weeks since I pulled out of the school parking lot with a huge smile plastered all over my face like I had a secret nobody else knew. Ahhh, beautiful summer break! I guess all good things really do come to an end.

Two more days and summer break will feel like ancient history. Soon enough our classrooms will be filled with laughter, loud voices, a little bit of drama, a whole bunch of beautiful little faces and, most importantly, our future.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Twenty Five Years

Nothing reminds us more about of the passage of time than hearing from a high school friend. It is inconceivable to me that 25 years of my life have come and gone so quickly. Twenty five years…… one husband, two children, a million memories.

Life is lived one day at a time but have I made every day count? As our lives unfold, right in front of our eyes, we need reminded to make every day count. The last 25 years have been loaded with undeniably the best that life has to offer. Those same 25 years have also been laden with days I choose to forget.

Twenty four years ago, I married my high school sweetheart. Although we dated for what felt like forever, I was still shocked the day he asked me to be his wife. In a way, it felt like we just met – like I realized in that moment that he loved me and promised to love me forever. Nothing in life is more precious than knowing someone loves you.

Seventeen years ago, I became a mother. Years of unsuccessful fertility treatments left me feeling hopeless that I would ever bask in the glory of motherhood. If you’ve known me more than a minute, you know that I believe with my whole heart that God blessed me with the most incredible mother on the planet. I so wanted to mother in a way that reflected the love that I have always been given from my own mom. When Katherine entered our lives on January 16, 1993, I was given the chance to be to her what my mom had been to me. Katherine is an amazing and beautiful young woman. I’d love to share the credit for how wonderful she is, but sometimes God just gives you the best.

Nearly fifteen years ago, I was blessed with a son. As deeply as mothers love their daughters they are simply in love with their sons. When Katherine overheard me saying how difficult it will be for me when Jes loves another woman and eventually gets married, her feelings were hurt. I explained to her that as my daughter she would always be mine but I knew my son would eventually hold another women closer to his heart ~ it’s the way God intended. For now, he’s still mine. Jes is a unique and incredibly handsome young man. I guess sometimes God gives you the best, twice.

This morning, I took a mental journey over the past twenty five years of my life. My journey has been blessed by marriage and motherhood. Together, Wynn & I have weathered illness, lost jobs and lost loved ones. Together, we have celebrated better health, new jobs and the blessings of new life. This journey has been filled with friendships found and friendships lost and friendships found again. I sit in absolute awe of how quickly the years have gone.

Have I made every day count? How I would love to say yes, but I know with certainty that the more truthful answer is no.

Today is the first day of the next twenty five years. I’m going to make it count.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Faith & A Text

A women’s heart only weighs about nine ounces. I find that hard to believe because for the last few months, mine has felt more like a ten pound rock sitting in the center of my chest. Life is hard and sometimes it is easier to tuck away the unpleasantness of it all in a tight little corner of your stomach and I guess eventually that starts to tug on the heart – causing it to weigh more and more. I’m no doctor – but that makes sense to me. So, last Sunday morning as I was driving to the grocery store my heavy heart was feeling a little heavier. I decided to visit my grandma and grandpa at their permanent address – East Resthaven. I cried a bit on the way there and also thought to myself – are you crazy?? – you have way too much to do today, but I kept driving. When I got there, I walked quietly over to their precious spot on the lawn. Oddly enough there was not another person there that morning. As I sat and visited, I started praying and of course the tears start rolling. I said, “God please let me know I’ll see these beautiful people again, because I don’t know it and I absolutely need to KNOW it. How do some people know it? Really, I want that faith. No, I NEED that faith, but I would be lying to myself and everyone else if I said "I know." I’m sorry but I just don’t have it. At least I didn't on that particular day. So, I prayed and talked to my grandma and I prayed some more. Then I got a text, and I’m sorry God, but I dropped the F bomb (in the nicest voice possible) and thought to myself “Not now!” After my visit with my grandma, I had a short visit with Little Lee. I miss him too. When I climbed back in to my truck, I remembered the text. These are the words I read on that text: God Loves You and So Do I. I sat in my truck and I cried for the next several minutes. It was difficult to regain my composure. Driving home my heart still felt heavy, but it felt warm and comforted. I can’t say the sadness was gone but it felt more tender and less gut wrenching than it had before. My friend, Linda Cashman, sent me that text from church. I guess I received a little lesson in faith on a Sunday morning ~ I pray that I continue to believe that voice inside who whispered to me just whose hands guided her typing in my cell phone number on that very special Sunday.

Thank you Linda Cashman and thank you God. Amen.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

It's May

It’s May. Every May for the past sixteen years, I start the annual countdown to the last day of school. If you work or attend school, it’s just what you do. This year, however, I just can’t wrap my mind around the fact that we are winding down. Soon, the year will be over. Ordinarily it’s a time to rejoice. It’s a time to breathe deep and say internally, “I made it through another year.” This year that just does not feel quite right – somehow it just misses the mark. I find myself holding on to each day and trying to embrace the here and the now. I know in my heart and in my soul that these days will not come again. I’m not ready to say goodbye to this year.

Sixteen school years and I could not tell you the number of extraordinary people I have been honored to spend my days with. Time is marked off by school years. Much of my life and its milestones are measured and remembered by the school year and the people I shared it with.

Throughout this incredible journey, I have been blessed with beautiful friendships. I have been profoundly impacted by the love, dedication and spirit of the amazing teachers who have shared their days with me. Truly, I feel honored to have served them.

It’s May. Soon enough the school year will be done. This year, I will not only say goodbye to a challenging school year, but I will begrudgingly say farewell to an extraordinary group of young ladies who have inspired me more than they can possibly know.

It’s May. I plan to rejoice every day.