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Sunday, October 29, 2017

And so on and so forth and what have you...

Not being a fan of whining or rushing time, this is a bit hard for me to write...although I'm not so sure this is whining. But I am done with October. Give me some Halloween chocolate and let's move to November. This has not been the best of times at our house(nor has it been the worst). When a friend of mine posted this picture of Cruella a few weeks ago, I laughed. It is funny, but then the laugh also turned into a pit in my stomach, because how many of us can relate? 
Raise your hands. You know you want to.


This October we have repaired a major appliance and replaced our hot water heater. But what tore at my momma heart most was having an unexpected health issue with our middle kiddo, which ended up with surgery and now a lot of follow up tests and appointments. She IS the social butterfly of the family, but didn't even care if she saw anyone while she was home for two entire weeks. God bless the girl as she's making up two weeks of high school assignments.  
And now Chad has been so kind to invite the flu to our house and his immune system that hates him is being kinda lazy in helping him get over it. For real, he kinda looks like that pic of Cruella, 
bless his heart.


And for the love, anyone who is currently raising or has raised teenagers knows that even the best of kids can be...um...challenging at times. Why did they have to pull that out this October? Have they not learned life is easier for everyone if you just say "yes, mommy" and comply? That worked when y'all were toddlers and preschoolers. We could try that again. But no, I have to let them grow up and make decisions on their own, within boundaries. 
Add in moodiness and messy rooms...and I may just give that eye roll back to them sometime soon.


Now I do know blessings abound. I mean, Blue Bell brought back Christmas cookies ice cream and it's already in our freezer! And we do have incredible kids. But man, it is so easy to allow all of these other things to leave me feeling overwhelmed. Then as the day winds down and I am feeling wrung out, weary and tired, God sends that amazing autumn Texas sunset. That comforting blanket of orange comes and settles in. Like God's grace...if we allow it...will come in and comfort. As big as my self-made list of my own deficiencies grows, I'm reminded that He is sovereign, 
He made me, and I am His.
I've got to take up all of this stuff...health issues, house issues, inadequate mom issues, and so on and so forth and what have you (thank you, Sue Heck), and lay it at His feet every single day.



But really, peace out, October. See you next year.

"Just remember God is a blessing - now and tomorrow and always. From east to west, 
from dawn to dusk, keep lifting all your praises to God!" - Psalm 113




Wednesday, October 11, 2017

I see you, football moms

Six weeks into the school year. As I see and feel myself getting older, time seems to speed up. The fact that one of my kids is in his last year of public school provides all sorts of emotions in regards to time. Pretty much every emoji face could be inserted here and it would be appropriate. Part of me is so excited to see what choices he will make in regards to the next few years of his life...where he will go to college, what he will study...

Now, if you have a kid in high school, you've heard about "Junior year." Junior year has incredibly intense classes, SAT and ACT prep and test taking, more responsibilities. The late nights of studying and increased homework were more frequent compared to the two years prior. By the time May came, even I was done with Junior year.

But then Senior year arrived. Not as heavy as a course load for the boy...the first test scores in...college list narrowed...and it seems now that time has been put on the button on your DirectTV remote that skips ahead 30 seconds. Yes, he's had cap and gown pictures. He has college acceptance letters. We smile! We're happy!  But man, I cannot deny that I have a little girl inside of me whining and saying "Slow down! I don't want it to be here yet!"

Last Friday night was Mom's night at the football game. Moms get to wear their son's jersey and hang out on the field during warm ups and take photos. We can stay on the track all first half if we want to, although most of us prefer to watch from the stands. For the last three years this has been one of my favorite nights of varsity football season, no matter the outcome of the game. As I was looking at photos from this night, it hit me. I was looking at the picture of the Senior moms. These ladies...many of them are moms I have sat with under the fall Central Texas skies on many Thursday and Friday nights for the last six years. All of us have boys on the team who are playing their senior year of football.


I see you, football moms. You are cheering, loving, hoping, yelling, getting upset, jumping for joy after a great play, praying, trying to keep the knot in your stomach from making you sick, wishing the best for all of our boys out there, and finally...wondering how that baby boy of yours is out there in pads and a helmet playing that game. And I see you, senior moms, as the number of games we have left to watch our boys play together is getting smaller. We will enjoy every one. 

In my mind I still have the inner little girl whining and throwing that fit for the fact I don't want things to end. But I have be able to let go enough to enjoy the incredible journey we're on.  And know that I'd do it again!  Again and again.  Enjoy every day.




Friday, July 1, 2016

Music plays when the needle drops...


We gave our kids means to buy dinner, gave them strict rules that they must not split up or leave anyone behind, and told them to have fun.  Then we went to dinner.  Just the two of us. 

In the middle of the park, we sat at a winery and had a meal to celebrate our twenty years of marriage. Our table sat next to a fountain and herb garden, and with the magic only held by Disney, made us feel like we could have been in another country.  (All those "date nights" you think you're going to have as a married couple?  Ha!  They are spent sitting in the stands at ball games, taking people to practice, or when you are living right, going to bed before 10!)

To be honest, this twentieth year was hard.  There's this misconception I had that marriage is supposed to get easier as the years go by.  But ugh....we aren't there yet if that's the case.  (And this was a year that held no hospital stays or surgeries!)  Massive amounts of grace have been poured on each other from both sides. Grace, forgiveness, love...copious amounts of all three required to make it to 20 years and every day after. 

Slow to start at first, our dinner conversation eventually turned to answering the question, "What would you do differently?"  Some obvious mistakes I'd love to change, but overall?  Really, not much.  Too many of the difficulties that have come our way, whether we've been in control of them or not, have taught me too much.  Where would we be without the struggle?  Who would I be?  Every struggle, from the years-long argument of which way towels should be folded, to "we need/don't need a dog," and "we need/don't need another dog," to financial issues and parenting...all have taught me and shaped me into who I am now.  Not that I wouldn't give up some of the pain we've endured, but the blessings that always rise to the top are immeasurable.  I see this in our children more and more every day in how they treat others and how they look at life. 

In the middle of the daily whirlwind of life, this is a hard truth to remember. So is stuff like what is on the grocery list when you're at the store and if I took my vitamins for the day, but I digress.   The knowledge of being certain Who is in control helps weather the storms, because no doubt the storms will come.  We just have to be prepared to hold tight and ride it out.  Then afterward, assess and do whatever it takes to mend what was damaged in the process. 

Listen to this.  Just so happens it was written and performed by a kid who grew up the same place I did...

"Music plays when the needle drops
Through the scars on the vinyl..." - Eric Paslay






Wednesday, June 1, 2016

If you're lucky, a frozen pizza

As I was reading one evening, I came across a paragraph that I read over again about 5 times.  I put my head up and looked around. It was like the author had looked into our life, and put it perfectly into words: 
"...and occasionally he would just seem to disappear, as if the only way he could cope with the sensation (pain) was to absent himself from his own body."  *


A few paragraphs later, same thing:
"Despite all this, Will did not complain.  This was why it had taken me weeks to notice that he suffered at all.  Now I could decipher the strained look around his eyes, the silences, the way he seemed to retreat inside his own skin.  ...  Sometimes he was in so much pain that his face actually leached color, turning to pale putty.  Those were the worst days."*
 And then a couple of chapters later, again. 


I love to read, not that I have much time to read for pleasure.  When I do, a warning comes to my family in which they know clean laundry will become a mountain in the laundry basket and dishes won't get done unless they do those things themselves.  Also, sandwiches or cereal may be the dinner choices a few nights in a row.  If you're lucky, a frozen pizza. :)
Yes...in the second to last full week of school, I decided to start a book, because there wasn't enough going on! I finished in four days. Many of you have probably read this story, as it released in 2012 and is now a movie releasing in a few days.  Going into it, I knew the premise of the story of "Me Before You"...what I didn't realize was that it would strike such a chord in me. 


Now...
Do I live with a person who is quadriplegic?  No.


Do I question the value of one's life based on their physical abilities?  No.


Do I live in a small English town with a castle sitting in the middle of it?  Ahem, far from it.


Have I been a caregiver to a man I love, trying to make his life good and worth every minute he's around, trying to balance the man-vs-patient, caregiver-vs-wife, "independent grown man"-vs- "so desperately needing help", all while moving forward with the life that's happening around us?  YES.


Things with his health lately have been status quo and most people that just see him around right now probably think nothing's really wrong with that man.  Bad days, better days, and all the in-between.  Although I say it cautiously, no hospital stays in over a year.   But where we have been is not a distant memory, and what he lives with every day would put most of us in bed for weeks.


Whatever life brings, I hope and pray each of us value each day.  That's what I seem to always come to in this blog: appreciate the life you have today.  Appreciate those around you, even if they are getting on your very last nerve and cause you to do things like finish a pint of ice cream or a bag of caramel corn.  :)


"Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.  God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up with the time comes." Matthew 6:34


*  from "Me Before You" by Jojo Moyes, Chapter 7, pages 102, 103





Monday, February 23, 2015

Dance in Austrailia

Down on my hands and knees on the kitchen floor, it was evident I hadn’t mopped in a while.  Sweeping gets done daily, but gross….the floor was gross.  Still in my scrubs from the workday, dinner was started on the stove as I found myself down on the ground searching for pills.  The med box had been filled for the week, but then he accidentally dropped it, sending every one of the 120+ pills bouncing around the kitchen.  The girls quickly jumped up from the couch to help me with the search and rescue mission so daddy didn’t have to get down on the floor.   After moving appliances and all, all pills were recovered, and only two pricey casualties were counted.  Not bad.  


The night prior while driving home on dark, country roads after a basketball game, a game that had the worse officiating everever ever, a deer decided to run into the side of our van.  No injuries (human, anyway), no true damage to the automobile.  Arriving home, the girls ran in to ready for bed, Seth was riding back with his team…but what was that humming sound?  Searching revealed the dishwasher full of dirty water, the humming from the pump that wasn’t working.  Or maybe it was doing what it was supposed to do, who knows.  This was after the disposal had been replaced earlier in the day, and apparently a step had been forgotten, ignored, disregarded, etc.  (guess you can’t skip any steps in the instructions)  All the stuff from under the kitchen sink was still in a box across the room.  That was good, because water under the sink is much easier to clean up if all the bottles of cleaners and box of trash bags are not under there.  I had done that a couple of times recently. 


Finally getting to bed after picking Seth up from the high school, I looked at Chad’s knee.  It was obvious he’d been doing a little too much the last few days.  When a knee resembles a cantaloupe, along with the pre-existing extensive vascular issues in the same limb, it equals something that looks pretty yucky and painful.   He didn’t dish any guilt out at all but the feeling found it’s way to me anyway, as I felt maybe I’d had him do too much lately.


After these two days, I considered a move to Australia.  Maybe Alexander had something there.  :)  I had been down for a few days with fever, coughing up at least one lung, and producing more mucous than a basketball arena could hold.  And you know what happens when mom is sick.  Despite their best efforts…you know.   You just know.   (by the way, spend a dollar extra for the tissues with Vicks in them…they are life-changing!)


All things considered, these were all minor and temporary inconveniences.  Other than the health-issues-dealt-with-by-the-elderly-and-usthe things that caused stress those few days are all resolved now.  The kids are happy and smart and healthy and have met their reading goals for the 6-weeks(ALL three of them).  The floor got mopped and the dishwasher still works.  Got all the deer fur off the wheel well.  Laundry never ends.  No leak under the sink right now.


Moms, nurses, and generally anyone who lives with a chronically ill person are not supposed to be sick.  Saying “my cough is keeping me up at night” doesn’t compare to his over-stimulated nervous system that leaves him with countless sleepless nights. (NICU pals, think of a preemie…they get too much external stimulus and it freaks their nervous system out….same with the 40-year old non-preemie at our house)  No!  You’re the keeper of the schedules, the chauffeur, the chef, the organizer, the alarm clock, the cheerleader, and you never feel like you have a justifiable reason to complain of anything hurting or aching.  And that’s just normal every day around here.


A friend of mine is leading a somewhat similar life to mine,although they have very recently been dealing with her husband experiencing another serious health scare.  Her kids are a little younger than mine, but there are many similarities.  Discussing the fact that the issues we deal with are more often dealt with by people a few decades older than us, she simply stated, “we’re just early to the dance.”  I’m rarely early for anything but work and school.  But I love the way that’s stated.


We often talk about God’s timing and perseverance with the kids and each other.  There are ups and downs and good days and bad days.  When you have the normal every day bumps, and add the old-man-in-a-young-man’s-body issues, it just adds a different twist. I guess we are just early to the Golden Oldies dance!  Wonder if they have those in Australia?  :)


Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12



 

 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Not at all

Whatever life has dealt you, there are sometimes the darkness seems too heavy to shake off.  Circumstances beyond our control leave us feeling everything except that this is "the most wonderful time of the year."  I'm thankful for the kids in my house filling it with excitement and joy!

This year has been a pretty lonely one, you could say.  You question this.  It's true my children often talk to me two at a time.  I guess they think that because there are two ears on my head, I can hear and comprehend two completely different conversations at the same time.  Multi-tasking is a must, but I've gotta admit even that one is next to impossible for me to do well.  They are getting older and are all three very bright, intelligent kids, but the fact that mom can still only really listen to one person at a time doesn't phase them. 

Even with all of that conversation, lonliness has been a faithful companion in 2014.  It's true that even working as a nurse in a school surrounded by 800 kids and 70 wonderful staff members, the reality of being the only one around with a medical background can leave a lonely mark.  
-Driving to and watching hours of practice and games, even when there are incredible parents of other players around you, lonliness can come along.
-As a 30-something standing over my husband, looking at a group of physicians and demanding the best care for him while taking in what they were saying, and having to make life-impacting decisions(again)...lonliness hung out.
-For many months of the year, pushing him around in a wheelchair was lonely, at times even ostracizing, as others in a crowd either disregarded the handicap or stared with remorse.  That was eye-opening, I tell you.  
-Listening to a nurse tell me over the phone how my husband really wasn't doing well and possibly needed to move to a different unit late one night made for a very long, lonely night.  I laid there questioning if I be a good mom and stay home for my kids or be a good wife and be there as a lookout for him.  
-And even, dare I say, in church...A place to worship with other believers...loneliness finds it's way there, too.  Because how many of those people really know what's going on in your life?  And if they did, what would they think?
-Seeing others being given assistance when you are working so hard just to stay afloat and hold things together, inside thinking "Hey---see this family? I'm drowning over here,"  When in reality you have no idea yourself how others could give you any help.  That is lonely.  
-And to be brutally honest, all that has happened this year has made it one of the hardest and loneliest seasons of marriage in 18 1/2 years.  


Am I asking for pity or anything of the sort?
NOT AT ALL. 
Because I'm here to say that despite this fog of lonely that's been hanging around this year, never before have I been more certain that God is with me.

At Christmastime we hear of Christ being called Emmanuel, meaning "God with us."  And that doesn't just encompass Him coming to the world as a baby.  It means He is still here.  He is with me in every situation, every decision I have to make.  With each lonely minute I feel, I am not alone at all.  He is with me, and He isn't leaving.  I will cling to Him and He's not letting go.

That is the source of the joy and excitement in my family.  We are not alone.  We are celebrating Emmanuel.  


"Through these trials
You’ve always been faithful
You bring healing to my soul
I am not alone
You will go before me
You will never leave me..."
Kari Jobe


Monday, October 13, 2014

Help me to stand, and see up

There are so many times in life when I would like to lay down and whine and carry on.  You know, like the kid throwing a fit in a store when you don't like what mom's telling you.  Bury your face first in your hands and then into the chair that's by the Marshall's entrance.  The chairs put there for men to sit in while the ladies shop and check out...hard blue plastic.  But you don't care, you're going to make your point.  Burying your head and begging and pleading and "why?-ing" when you didn't get your way.

Surely that only happened to me with my kids.  (actually I like to remember that behavior only happened once with each kid...then they knew better and waited until we got to the car ;)  )

But that's what I want to do sometimes! 
That's not what we're supposed to do, darn it.  Although we all have come into contact with those adults who can't get past throwing tantrums, we're supposed to be the responsible adult that handles all the yuck...with great expectation from those around who are watching.  That's almost more daunting than the yuck itself.  Who is watching?  The people in my house, of course.  Anyone else?   What will they see?  Are they just waiting for me to mess up?  If I lay down and whine and wallow in the mess of life, will it affect them?  They're going to learn.  From me. 

Gulp.

Who do I learn from?  I learned an incredible amount from my parents.  (thank the good Lord I was blessed with the two best parents ever)  Learned a lot from my six awesome siblings, all of whom came-prior-in-line-of-succession, as dad would say. 
Trying hard to learn from my heavenly Father.  Easier said than done.  It's easier sometimes to act like the kid throwing the tantrum.  To dig my heels in the ground and demand my own way.

This is Molly Kate.  Molly Kate is almost two.  
She appears to be walking, but she's not doing it on her own power.  Molly Kate's muscles in her legs do not cooperate with her.  To walk (and play soccer) she is using the strength of her Daddy.  He's using a device she has called an UpSee to get her up in a standing position and "walk".  Molly Kate is the beautiful, precious daughter of my good friend, Tiffany, and her husband Barry.  Barry and Tiff have been dear friends of ours since college, and have walked through the last 20 years of life with us.  (for more about Molly Kate and her amazing family, click here http://elkinsfam5.blogspot.com/ )

Just like Molly Kate is using her Daddy's power to stand up straight, look forward, and move ahead, I must keep in mind to harness myself to my Heavenly Daddy in order to move in the best way possible.  That means trust.  That means even when I want to crumple up in a defiant whine, he won't let me.  If I use my Father's power, it is possible to keep from doing just that.

No matter the expectations that myself and others have for me, because I will mess up, this must be the choice.  Things won't always go as planned.  Life will have obsticles and I'll get lazy.  Lately I've so wanted to not keep my eyes up, to use my own power, to take care of it on my own.  But the overwhelming truth is that I can't.  Not on my own.  

Jesus savior, help me each day
Fill me with hope, fill me with faith
Darkness retreats at the touch of Your hand
Jesus savior, help me to stand
"Jesus, Help Me to Stand" by Alison Krauss