About Me

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My passion is helping others defend themselves and their families. I am an NRA Certified pistol instructor, a NRA Chief Range Safety Officer, leader of TWAW Shooting Chapters - North Cincinnati, and the state leader of TWAW Shooting Chapters - Ohio. I also have a heart for the Lakota people and lead mission teams to the Pine Ridge Reservation each year, am founder and director of Backpacks For Pine Ridge,, and do various volunteer work in my own community. My greatest joy is being a grandma and hanging out with my husband of 30+ years.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Give Thanks??

You might never know it for all the Christmas stuff going on, but Thanksgiving is almost here.  Last year our family started a new Thanksgiving tradition.  We have a white tablecloth and everyone at the Thanksgiving meal is to write on the tablecloth one thing they are thankful for.  As the day for the family dinner approaches I've been thinking about what to write.  This year has been a difficult year.  Frankly, I can't wait for New Year's because I'm going to be glad to see 2011 come to an end. 

BUT, the Bible does say to give thanks in all things, right?  Why in the world would we be thankful for the painful and difficult things we experience?   Well, over and over in my life I've seen that it is the painful and difficult things that God often uses to bring about something incredibly beautiful. We don't see it at the time, but eventually I believe the worst things in life are the times when we are closer to God and learn more about what it is to follow him.  Here are a few examples ...

Getting kicked out of a church.  That was a tough one.  It sure looked like life as we knew it was over.  We were literally put out on the street with a one year old baby - and the "good church people" that were responsible, had the audacity to tell us that God would take care of us.  I never doubted that for a second but I sure didn't need to hear it from them.  There's a long story there, but in the end, it was one of the best things that ever happened to us.  I can't begin to count the times I've since been very grateful for getting kicked out of that church and not because there were bad people there - there were some really, really good and godly people there. 

Going through recovery for an eating disorder.  That was tough too - especially when your a pastor's wife and have to go through the recovery process (falling on your butt and all) in public.  Time and time again I was told  that God could deliver me out of that instantly if I just had faith.  Of course he could.  He's God.  He can do anything He wants.  I never once doubted that either, but you know what?  I'm SO glad He chose NOT to deliver me instantly.  I would have missed so much.  Again, there's a long story here, but in the end, the recovery process was one of the best things in my life.  I would not be who I am today or be able to do the things I do today if not for it.  Deliverance happens instantly - growth and a deeper walk with God, does not.  I would not have traded that experience for deliverance for anything.  That's not to say it wasn't the most difficult thing I've ever done in my life or that it wasn't horrible at the time.  It was. 

That said, there are two things I can think of that might prevent God from working in  difficult circumstances - 1, whining and 2, hiding. 

Think about that... and have a good Thanksgiving.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

My Problem With Charity

Its that time of year when I begin to get people, many of them unknown to me, contacting me about how to give coats, clothes, heaters, blankets, etc. to the people on Pine Ridge Reservation.  Winter is fast approaching and our minds turn to those who may not be able to stay warm this winter.  I love that people care and are thinking of ways to help.  That's pretty awesome and I don't want to discourage caring or giving, but I feel that I should attempt an explanation of why I don't get personally involved in that sort of thing. 

I've been told by several people who work on the Reservation, and I think I've seen for myself, that a lot of our efforts at helping others are not necessarily helpful - at least not in the long term.   Charity often sets up a mentality of expectation, and worse, dependence in those we are attempting to help.  That can lead to a lot of behaviors and attitudes that are far from healthy.  It may make us feel good, and it may in fact help for a short time, but in the long run, our charity can become part of the problem. 

And then there is the sad truth that sometimes in areas where drug and alcohol addiction are rampant, the things we give are sold for drug/alcohol money.  I hate saying that, but its the sad reality.  They don't do this with the school supplies because they wouldn't get much money for them anyway so I feel its a safe, and effective way of helping. 

I've also seen that often we give to the poor in ways that, how do I put it gently ... are disrespectful.  It is easy to give our old stuff that we don't want anymore.  Anybody can do that.  Some people give stuff that should be thrown away and then feel good about giving it.  It leaves the person we are giving to feeling small, and strips them of their dignity.  That sort of "charity" is not charity at all. If we're going to give something, we should give our best - that's real charity (love). 

I realize that other people will do other things in an effort to help.  That's fine.  But after nine years of visiting the Reservation, I feel confident that school supplies are the best way that we can help.  Hopefully it will help some child choose to stay in school, get an education, and maybe, just maybe, work toward a better life. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Quote

"It is not the critic who counts:
not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles
or where the doer of deeds could have done better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena,
whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood,
who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again,
because there is no effort without error or shortcoming,
but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions,
who spends himself for a worthy cause;
who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement,
and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly,
so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

An Email

The following is an email I sent out to my REZonate planning crew this morning.  I would also like to share it with you all who have supported our efforts these past four years.  I don't have all of the volunteers names or any way to contact them and there is no way possible to contact every person who has attended the event, but I would say the same things to each of them. 

----------------------------------

Hey guys,
THANKS so much for all of your help this past weekend - well, this past several months really. I appreciate the sacrifices you have all made to be able to see something good happen for the kids on the Rez. You have made a difference!
I believe this will be our last year for REZonate - at least as far as I will be connected with it. Some have expressed interest in going forward with it, but I am simply worn out. :)

I think some really positive things have happened because of REZoante.

  • We have been a witness in our community. Even this year we met a couple who expressed that they would like to attend our church because of what was happening at REZonate. In past years there has always been stories of people who were touched who would not have been if we had not been visible in the community. We are still contacted for prayer by some outside of our church.For me, that is the greatest benefit of all and was in fact, my goal in doing REZonate. You can't really put a price tag on a soul.

  • We have raised awareness in the community about Pine Ridge. In a district that uses the Lakota name for their schools, it is just good for them to have some awareness of what life is like for the real Lakota people.
  • We have connected with The Community Foundation which brings in about $1000 a year of unsolicited funds for Backpacks For Pine Ridge.
  • We have met some INCREDIBLE people. I can't begin to tell you how good it is to see people who are willing to sacrifice and give until it hurts to help a cause they believe in. In a world where it is the norm to serve self, these people give me hope and are shining examples that there are still good people in the world.  I am often just blown away when I think of all that some of these folks have given.  It just leaves me speechless.  All I know is, God will bless them abundantly. 
  • The Lakota people have been amazed that we do what we do to help them - and they showed that this year by driving from South Dakota to be a part of it all. That should speak volumes to us about the value of what we have done
  • And we have made money. Not much, mind you, but we have not ever spent more than we made. Bigger festivals in the community that look far more successful, have gone broke. We have always come out ahead. This year we made $600. Not much for all the work it was, but that's 60 kids that will get backpacks that wouldn't have gotten them otherwise. Those folks who stand and hand them out, know how HUGE that really is.

Beyond that, its just been fun. OK, its been a pain in the butt, but its also been fun. :) I know that I will cherish the memories and will smile often when I think of all the crazy things that have happened over the past 4 years.
We will of course, continue to provide backpacks for the kids. That will not change as long as I'm alive and kicking. The Backpacks For Pine Ridge fund still remains at The Community Foundation and we still have fundraisers happening - soon even- with the Trax For Backpacks 5k/10k this October. I am NOT quitting, just looking for other ways to take this forward.

Thanks again for all of your hard work. A simple "thank you" doesn't seem nearly enough. I'm not sure there is a way to express how grateful I am that a bunch of people willingly chose to follow one of my crazy ideas believing that something good could happen.
Now, on to the next crazy idea. Hahaha! I have no idea what that will be, but I do know that God has some wild and wonderful things in store for those that follow Him and so I can't wait to see what the next thing is.

Love you all!!
Amber

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

For What its Worth ...

I don't post here often enough to maintain a following, but for the few family members or friends who want to .... I'm posting almost daily on the Pine Ridge Blog for the next few weeks. 

I plan to post the pre-trip prep as must as possible and I'll be posting from the Rez.  I'll try to get pics and maybe even video greetings from a few folks up on the blog from time to time. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Twins. No, Not THOSE Twins

Oh no, they'll never replace the twins, but they are fun. 

For our anniversary we decided to do some things to enjoy our marriage ... you know, now that the kids are grown and gone .... time to have fun!  We rarely take a vacation.  In fact the last "vacation" Brian drove up to the Wright Patterson Air Force Base to look through it and I stayed home. 

One day we were out riding bikes at Miami Whitewater Forest and stopped off at the lake for a picnic.  As we sat there watching people in kayaks on the lake, Brian said, "I used to kayak all the time when I was a kid and I would LOVE to do that again". 

My response - "You used to kayak???  I've been married to you for 28 years and I never knew that???"  

So ... I figured I was going to have to give it a go.  I didn't think I'd like it.  In fact I was sure  I would just tolerate it for his sake.  I had fears of flipping it over, getting stuck upside down in the water and drowning - and looking stupid doing it. 

Turns out ... I love it!  I really love it!  Its so relaxing and peaceful.  Mind you, we don't do rapids.  Lakes are good.  Whitewater, not so good.  At least not yet.  :)

So when Dicks Sporting Goods had kayaks 50% off earlier this summer.  We bought a couple.  They were amazingly affordable and they will quickly pay for themselves and once they do, we have free fun anytime we want.  

Ahhh ... now that's nice....

Friday, June 24, 2011

That's My Boy!

Yeah, that's my boy and I'm not a bit proud.  Ha! I'm actually so excited for him I can't stand it.  Logan, my youngest has wanted to be a police officer since he was in 5th grade.  A few days ago, that dream came true for him.  On June 2nd, he graduated from the Butler Tech Police Academy and moved to Newcomerstown, OH on June 3rd. 

Earlier this week he was hired as a police officer for the Newcomerstown PD. 

So, I am now the mom of a cop!  That is not something I was always comfortable with.  I mean, no one really wants their son in a position where the bad guys might be shooting at him.  But I've long since gotten used to the idea.  Besides, I think he could handle himself pretty well.  He earned the nickname from his commander at the Academy "the Squirrel on Cocaine" for his ... uh ... wildness in doing take-downs.    Just to be on the safe side - we bought him a bullet proof vest for his graduation.  :)  

Logan's has been a great kid and the qualities he has (compassion, good judgment, and a strong sense of justice) will make him a good cop. 

Congratulations Logan!  We are very proud of you! 

Friday, June 03, 2011

Logan's New Home

For those who want to see, here are some pics of Logan's new home.  We joke that he lives in a barn ... and, he kinda does. ... he lives in an apartment above a barn in a small town about a hour and half from Cleveland and has three horses to ride whenever he and Jenn want to ride, a pond to fish in, and 90 acres of rolling hills.  Its beautiful there and life goes at a slower pace.  The apartment above the barn is very nice and the view ... is priceless.   You can click on the pics to see a larger view. 

The view from the living room
(The furniture from the previous occupant has not been moved out yet)















Friday, May 06, 2011

Josh

Josh.  What do I say about Josh? 

Well first, he's like one of my sons.  He grew up with my boys and I think of him as one of "mine".  That can at times include me wanting to kick his butt just like I would one of mine.  :)   

Aside from loving him like one of my own, he's been a great member of the Pine Ridge crew for several years.  When he's not with us, we miss him.  A lot.  He's a hard, hard worker, he loves the kids like crazy, and he can be a lot of fun. 

I'm also proud of Josh.  Currently, in addition to working at Home Depot, he is going to school to be a commercial airline pilot.  Crazy huh?  This "kid" that chased me with the water hose and endured me freezing his underwear in retaliation, now flying planes?  

Most recently though, Josh has something else up his sleeve.  In April of 2012 he will begin a 5 month journey to hike the over 2000 mile Appalachian Trail.  And he's doing it to help raise money for Backpacks For Pine Ridge. 

Now as a sort of second "mom", I worry a bit about that.  I hope he doesn't get eaten by a bear or something.  But mostly, I'm proud of him.  And I'm confident that he'll make it just fine. 

Should you want to help out (help to encourage him and help some deserving kids get some school supplies), you can make a donation to Backpacks For Pine Ridge as a sponsor of Josh's hike.  How?  Simple, make a check out to "Backpacks For Pine Ridge Fund" and mail it to:
Backpacks For Pine Ridge
6468 Kimberly Drive
Hamilton, OH  45011

Backpacks For Pine Ridge is a non-profit fund set up through The Community Foundation of West Chester/Liberty.  100% of the money will go toward the purchase of school supplies for children on Pine Ridge Reservation.

And check out Josh's Facebook page he's set up for the hike.  "Like" it and keep up to date on how much money he is raising and then next spring when he's on the trail he'll check in with updates to let us know how things are going. 

Yeah, I love that kid. 








Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Thanks to the Swinow Network here are some pictures of the damage in Petersburg, Indiana (my hometown) from last night's storms.  As far as I know, no one was hurt but this isn't easy to see - especially after the town was hit so hard by a tornado in 1990.   In Fairfield, OH we were more fortunate.













Saturday, April 09, 2011

A Resilient Life

In this little country church cemetery, my grandfather is buried.  William Linzey Dyson was born July 21, 1884 in Gibson County, Indiana.  He was a farmer, a man of good reputation, and most importantly to me, my dad's father. 

What is so striking about his life is his remarkable ability to survive.  To say he had a hard life would be an  understatement.  He worked hard all his life and lived to be 89 years old.  He suffered incredible loss and hardship throughout those 89 years and yet, he maintained a positive attitude.


He married Ethel Truitt in October of 1913.  Ethel also knew pain and hardship.  She lost her father early in life.  After the death of her father, her mother brought her and two of  her brothers back to Petersburg, Indiana and placed them in the orphanage there.
The story goes that they were adopted by three different families with the baby, Ottis, recalling being whipped with a horse whip.  Later they reunited as adults. 

After Ethel and my grandfather married, they had 2 children (Paul and Beatrice) and then lost 3 children in 4 years, one being a set of twins.


Daughter of William and Ethel Dyson
Oct. 24, 1920 - Nov. 4, 1920


Orris Glenn Dyson
1923-1924

Lucile Dyson
1923-1924

Ethel died two years later of Influenza shortly after the great Influenza epidemic on the late 1900's.
 
The 1920 census places them living with my great grandfather, Thomas Granville Dyson.  Thomas Granville was the manager of a farm and my grandfather was a laborer on the farm. Thomas was already a widower by that time and I suspect in poor health so that keeping the family together was a benefit to all.




My grandfather's second wife was my grandmother, Flossie McCord.
Life with Flossie was also full of difficulty and hardship.  Flossie suffered from severe arthritis which made her an invalid for many years.  My father and his siblings often took off school to care for her.



This marriage was also full of loss. 
My grandparents lost two children and then my grandmother died of a stroke in her 50's. 


"Bertie Lou Dyson
Dec. 31, 1929 - May 14, 1933"

There was also a Darrell Eugene Dyson but I've not been able to find dates or a grave for him.  I believe he may have been born after my father.

And so in the span of 13 years, my grandfather lost 5 children and two wives.  Incredible.
Unfortunately, that was not the end of the loss.  He went on to lose two grandchildren, my sister Dana and my cousin.
 
My sister Dana was born on November 22 with spina bifida.  In those days, the care that is available now was non-existent and she died a few hours after her birth.  My cousin also lived only a few hours.  His father, who loved kids so much, was proudly out handing out cigars at work while the family tried to get a hold of him to tell him the baby had died.


My grandfather was very old when I was born.  I remember him as a quiet and sweet man who everyone seemed to admire. 

My grandpa Dyson (Papaw Bill) holding me as a baby

I don't have memories of him playing with me because he was too old by the time I was born to be able to do that.  I remember people talking of him as having a positive attitude.  He was often quoted as saying, "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all".  When I look at the difficulty he faced in life its amazing to me that he would remain hopeful and positive.  That is to be respected.   I will always remember him fondly and am proud to have this strong and resilient man as my grandfather.

I have to wonder ... what made him so resilient?

I know little to nothing of the family before him.  There was my great grandfather, Thomas Granville Dyson.  All I know of him is that he was born in 1851, was married to China Owens who preceded him in death and that he was a farm manager.  His father was Thomas G. Dyson and was born in 1817.  I've not been able to find out anything about his life.  He is buried in Walnut Hills Cemetery in Petersburg, Indiana ... not too far away from where my dad is buried.

Those who knew my dad know that he was also a man of great reputation, that he fought cancer in his later day without any hint of giving up.  In fact, he had talked about joining a gym just a few months before he passed away.

These people just don't seem to ever give up or quit.  They keep moving forward and they do so with courage and positive attitude.  I only hope I can live up to the legacy they've left for me.

 

Saturday, April 02, 2011

1st Birthday Party!!!

Eli and Owen had their 1st birthday party today!  Here are some pics ...


Does he look like a grandpa or what?


They weren't quite sure what to make of all the fuss at first ...


But they soon figured it out





Grandpa Brian is teaching a new use for a party hat ...

and Eli learned quick




Sometimes you just gotta get on top of it




Their first cupcake

Eli grabs the whole things and in the mouth it goes



Owen take a little more time ...






Its a happy birthday!

until ... its not (I think the ice cream was all gone)