Thursday, May 25, 2017

Our Life: Living in a Season of After and Spinning Plates

This has been a season of "after". I think many of us live our lives in seasons of befores and afters. This is how we organize our lives, our memories, the small details of our daily experience. We have before we got married, after Moose was born, after Bo was born, and now, a new season of after Alan died. I know that somewhere in the distance we will begin to think of the time as after Moose started kindergarten, after Bo started school, and so many other categorical labels, but for now, it's still a season of aftermath. After the fact.

Days go by. You get back to the routine of "normal" life: a new normal.

I kind of hate that phrase.

Did you know the world record for spinning plates is 108? There's a man out there who spun 108 plates at one time. I will never hold this world record. I will never spin that many plates, but there are definitely times that I feel like I'm wearing the hats of more jobs than is realistic. I'm thankful that (for the most part and with the help of many) I've never dropped a plate.

So key the chords and listen for the changes... Spring has sprung and the time has come to change. Change what we were because there is no going back. I've said it once; I've said it a million times: Time waits for no man. If you try to go backwards you'll only make yourself miserable. Doing the same things over and over and expecting something different is the definition of insanity. Alas, what is it that I am saying? Sam and I are leaving our very comfortable jobs in Midlothian. We are starting a new season, giving ourselves a fresh start with new opportunities and new perspectives. I am dying my hair back to brown, and we are embracing all the change and all the new.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Our Life: Easter Reflections 2017

Life is full of seasons. This season is full of the unknown; it's chalk-full of change and figuring it out. I can't say that's all a bad thing, and I know that you have to look up and trust in the Lord. Doesn't mean that it's always the easiest thing to do in the flesh. There are times that you have to have more grace and dig deep to find that tucked away sense of joy. This season will ebb and flow and eventually shift into another. These are things I know. So for now I will keep praying to see the details: "God reveal yourself in the details." And some days he shows me the memories of good times and some days I am still haunted by my lack of a last goodbye.

I am no longer surprised to hear anyone shrieking, “Mommmm” at me. In fact, now, anytime, I hear the delicate squeak of a toddler crooning, “Mommy,” my head whips around to take stock of my two little ducklings. It's natural. It's normal. It's a piece of who I am. I am flawed and far from the perfect matriarch of my cluster of four, but I try. I try to be the mom that my boys will be proud of; the one they will someday thank for raising them to their walk. I aim to be the wife that is worthy of honor and respect. Scott Wilson from the Oaks Fellowship in Red Oak said that once in a sermon I listened to, and it's stuck with me from that point on: “be worthy of respect.” That's the type of woman I want to be when my feet reach the ground each morning. I long to be worthy of respect.

And yet, I some days, I sit down and reflect to see that I was too impatient, too shrill, too self-focused to have been the best I could be. I am emotionally, physically, and socially exhausted. This holiday is such a powerful one, and one spent nearly every year with my step dad. The hole in my heart feels gaping this weekend. As we tackled new projects and to do lists full of “handy” tasks, I missed that I had never fully respected the craftsmanship that his hands were capable of. I missed that I had never appreciated the ease with which he could tackle anything. I missed his company in the small town and watching him play with his grandsons. I just missed him. More than I knew I would.

I asked my husband what time of year he felt like he missed his parents the most. “Christmas. I miss my mom at Christmas.” His dad has been gone for two decades now, and it hurts him to realize that he can no longer hear the sound of his dad's voice in his ears. He can't place his dad's smell in the traces of his mind. I hate those pangs of loss that I now can relate to in the makeup of my husband.

Easter is supposed to be full of joy and blessings, and don't get it wrong: we are blessed. I am lucky, lucky to have two handsome boys that call me, “mom.” I have my own mom who is tougher than nails and softer than I ever knew. She is incredible and breakable and changed. She is impressive, and I love her more in this year than I have in all the ones combined. I have a husband who has proven that in a storm he is the shelter. Sam has stepped up in unexplainable ways to shift his soul in a position of “being there.” He has always had a gift for taking care of others. His listening skills are superior, and yet, this season has revealed to me another layer of this man I thought that I could know no more about. He can sway and bend with deftly maneuvers; he is 100% the linebacker in our family’s life. It's like all this time I knew him to be an athlete, but now, I am seeing him in action: seeing the injuries be ignored, seeing the way he tackles the opponent, seeing the way he fights for his team. Y'all, it's insane that God can take the worst moments, the saddest times, and use them to shape your views.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Journal: Fierce File First Month Pictures

In my last post (Our Life: A New Year 2017 - Goals), I talked about my goals for this year. The thing that has been keeping me on track and focused on those goals has been my journal.

I have Pinterested and Pinterested... "Smash Books," "Wreck this Journal"s, and "Bullet Journals" and from that I have made my own journal. It's most closely feels like a bullet journal except that I'm not using it for the key tenants of bullet journaling.

Some of these layouts have been inspired from others on Pinterest. I will try to note which ones (if I miss one please don't presume I am taking credit... lol!).

This favorite TV Shows comes from THIS PIN 

 The Heart page is sort of like THIS PIN
And the February Goals was inspired by THIS PIN

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Our Life: A New Year 2017 - Goals

The first month of this new year is quickly approaching its close. 2017 is fully underway, and most thoughtless resolutions have been discarded already or are nearing their end. This year, as I have in the past several years, I prayed and picked a word of the year. As many of my people know, my word this year is FEIRCE. This year I am vowing to live fiercely, love fiercely, run fiercely... just to be a stronger woman than I have ever been before.

This year will be filled with new and unique challenges, some of which have already begun. I have started my first class for my Masters degree! Being more fierce means I will study hard but complain little. It means I will be proud of my accomplishments without boasting. Being fierce means I resolve to be a fierce competitor but also a fierce companion. I will help my classmates and will accept help graciously.

Instead of resolutions, I opted for monthly "goals/challenges." January has been a month without added sugar. No dessert. No soda. No added sugar food items. Natural sugars like fruit area different story. I, so far, have been true to my challenge, and I am beginning to see and feel the results.  My skin took a crash during the detox phase, but now it is clearing up.  I do admit that I'm going to have to break my sugar fast this week which leads me to my February goal.

February 19: I'm running my first marathon. This is a goal I've been trying to check off since before my wedding. Life has been allowed to get in the way and take this victory from me too many times. This time I will conquer. I ran long distance sugar free two weeks ago and struggled with eating real foods. My next and last long run before race day is Friday. I have decided to make the one event sacrifice for fuel and Gatorade on this run. It's not cupcakes or candy, and I think it's an important exception.... I'm giving myself that grace. Maybe I'll even add February 1st on in lieu. Be fiercely accountable, eve to yourself.

My March goal is about a return to my spiritual focus. In the hubbub of work, school, exercise, diet, family, and so on sometimes keeping the focus where it belongs gets lost. I'm challenging myself to listen to 10 extra sermons outside of the Sunday morning routine. That's going to mean 2-3 a week this month. It's my prayer that my eyes will be opened to reveal big signs and directions for my next steps. I'm going to pour in the prayer, and then I will make myself available to hear God's reply with my April challenge.

In the month of April, I am going to watch no tv. I'm going to give up my shows, my Netflix, my Hulu, all of it for April. I hope to get a few books read and really listen to the world around me in this month. This is additionally great because it is in April that I plan to add four more goals and challenges to my year. I don't know what I will feel called to do or focus on, but I hope that as that time approaches I will be able to see clearly the answers.

I can't wait to continue this journey and experience 2017.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Our Life: Year in Review 2016

It's been a roller coaster year with some great memories and some really tough ones. This year I am not back to my "with-it-on-top-of-everything-all-the-time" self, yet, so I didn't order Christmas Cards... which is a real bummer since I had started my own brand new tradition last year (haha). Instead of a Christmas letter, I put in a Year in Review that I had made. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Our Life: Time Stops for No Man

Tonight is Turkey Eve. The night before the second major holiday in the holiday season. (The first one being Halloween.) And this year for me it is evidence that time stops for no man, that no matter how much we wish we could dig our heels in or bury our heads in the sand -- we alas cannot be ostriches.

This year our world was irrevocably altered on October 30th. My stepfather, Alan, died. It sounds kind of blunt, maybe harsh even, but it is the more true phrase. He didn't pass or journey on. It was sudden, unexpected, and there was not a single hint that he would disappear from our lives with such a finality on that day. He was so much more to my family than the word stepfather feels like it conveys, too. He was our Papoo. He was so many things to so many people. One second he was here with us, and the next gone. To relive the day is agony.

It's been a season of few words for me...   Those of you that know me well know that I am a woman of words. Jokes about how I never stop talking are frequent in our family, about how they would pay me to stop talking, about how my questions were endless as a child. And certainly words are what I would call the primary way that  I process the world.

So what does a woman like that do when there are no words? When there is  nothing to say?

My mom described the sensation like a cartoon with an empty thought bubble over your head. It is an appropriate illustration. There's this constant swirl of everything and nothing in the same instant. There's literally nothing that can prepare you to grieve. Anyone who has ever lost someone (expected or not, young or old, healthy or frail) can relate to this strange emotion.

My heart aches for my mom, for my children, my family, our friends, and I feel like I have nothing to say to make it any better. I wish so badly I could just undo the wheels of time and make it all go away. But I am reminded that Time, he stops for no man. We can't be ostriches... We can't live with our head in the sand, avoiding this reality, this sense of new normal. It's best instead to remember: remember the man that he was. Remember the man he always will be. 

Hardworker. Honest. Task oriented. Strong. Talented. Craftsman. Hero. Stubborn. Helper. Hungry. Tall. Casual. Laid back. Patient. Kind. 

Alan was so many things to so many people. He was anything he needed to be in the moment. There was nothing he couldn't do, and no one he wouldn't help. He could move walls, and he could see moving parts in 3D in a way that always amazed me. 

I remember coming home from school and sitting at the table with him. I would do my homework, and he would work on job plans. He tried to explain them to me sometimes, but I could never see the lines and squares on the graph paper as something real. He had incredible vision to see beyond what currently existed and see past it to what it could be. He made me a cedar chest when I was 14. He made me a corner shelf sometime after that. And he died before he could finish my bedroom furniture. I will forever cherish the two nightstands he did finish, and I will look fondly at them with a pang of sadness that will soften with time.

I remember what a hard worker he was. He worked harder than any man I know. He did the job of three and four men with an easy effort and blew it off like it was no big deal. He loved his job and the puzzle that it could be. He loved his last big job more than the others, but mostly I think that was the cows. The cows with the sweaters that he'd take pictures of and the waterbeds he would come home and laugh about. I can still hear him saying, "those cows have it better than me." I remember how shaken he was when there was a fire in the calf barn. I'd never seen him as emotional as that made him. He saved many baby cows, but the ones he didn't save haunted him for weeks.

I remember that he generally wasn't an overtly emotional man. He wouldn't tell you how beautiful you were or tell you how special you were. But I know that he loved us without a doubt and after he died so many friends with so many stories proved that he told everyone else just how strong he knew my mom to be and how precious my family was to him. He was the man who steadied me down the stairs at my wedding, and the one laced my dress for prom.

I remember how excited he was to be a Grandpa. When we picked Moose's name (his real name), Alan was so blown away. A man who would never have a son of his own would still have a boy to carry on his name. He smiled so much the day that baby was born, and he drove like a mad man in the middle of the night to try to beat Bo's speedy arrival.

This process has been a different struggle than I knew it would be. Some days I feel like the very core of who I am is missing a piece. Others life just sort of goes back to normal and the sadness is a little more quiet in the recesses of my mind. Mostly I just ache for my momma because despite my own grief, I know that hers is more tangible than mine. Hers is an all consuming feeling of ripping yourself in half, sort of, but not really. It's got to be unimaginable to have to realize you have to be a whole person in the world when half of you is gone.

I know that we aren't the first set of people to lose a husband, a father, a brother, a friend... and I know we will hardly be the last. The holidays will be hard for us as they have been for so many people missing a loved one before us. We will muddle and manage. We will do better than some others might and worse than others, knowing that there isn't actually a scale and knowing there no way to quantify or measure what success in grief even looks like.

We will still have a tree and lights. We will celebrate our saviors birth and eat pancakes in our pjs. And 2017 will be the beginning of a new year and a new life. It's not the one we wanted, but it's the hand that has been dealt to us.

This year my prayers for my family and for others like us struggling and coping with loss will be prayers for peace and comfort. Prayers for acceptance, and prayers for new joys. Prayers that our memories will always be rich and vibrant and not dull with the passage of time. That the ache of sadness in our souls will subside and be replaced by those happy thoughts that keep a small piece of him alive in our hearts and minds.

Many blessings to you and yours this year,
Lots of love

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Moose: 9 stitches on a Tuesday

When: September 6th, 2016 
Where: Mother's Day Out
How: A wooden toy kitchen and one very klutzy little boy 

First stitches for poor Mooser! He had 8 on the outside and 9 inside.