Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Just Because

A few months ago, Jason and I went to Vegas. We had the best time together, just us. I was prepared when we got back to have people ask how our trip was, how the flight was, if we spotted Elvis and could we now retire after hitting the jackpot. What I didn’t expect to be asked so often was “What were you celebrating?” I guess in my sudden guilt of taking a trip just because, I started pulling dates that were close to when we went. Our anniversary was in a few weeks, Jason was also turning 39 in a few weeks and I had a birthday right around the corner. That should be enough reasons to take a big trip, right?
               It suddenly hit me one day that just because was reason enough. Why? Because marriage should be full of just because things.
               Two years ago, after a really good discussion about why marriage is so hard, we made the decision that in order for us to make this work and withstand everything the world throws at us, we HAD to start making time for just because stuff. We also had to do this WITHOUT the parental guilt that comes along with doing things together that often excludes our kiddo. Can we be honest for a minute; our day to day movements usually always include just because stuff for our kids. From making that random McDonald's trip, to sports functions, to the trampoline park, to birthday parties, to practice, to having a friend over, to dance, to church and to everything else in between, most kids get plenty of just because moments sprinkled all throughout the year, sometimes daily. Our days revolve around where we need to be next and how to make sure everyone is happy in the process. Why do we do these things? Because we love our kids and their happiness and quality of life mean something to us. Shouldn’t we treat our marriage the same way?
We started small with a night away on the coast. Nothing fancy, just some crab legs and a halfway decent view of the Gulf Coast. Then we started attending occasional concerts. We take day trips in the Jeep and explore places we have never been. We started to sprinkle our own version of just because moments throughout the year and let me tell you something, it worked. We spent New Years Eve away, alone together. We took a trip to Vegas, just because, and it was fantastic.
We have had several conversations with Colby about the importance of just because time. Ultimately, he is the one who reaps the most benefits. We are better parents to him because we’ve taken the time for just because. We include him on plenty of activities and make sure we are meeting his needs in the process, and the guilt of spending time away from him ceases to exist. I saw a friend post this:

When we neglect to make time for just because moments, especially because we have parental guilt in doing so, we are doing more harm to our kids than helping them. My child knows he is fiercely loved. He knows that in his heart, he knows it by our words, he knows that by our actions and now he knows that by our occasional absence. We’ve explained our just because to him and he totally gets it. His deal is that we keep his kids one day so that he and his future wife can have just because moments too. It is a debt we will happily repay. He also told us, very lovingly, that he needs a break from us from time to time too, just because. I highly doubt it is because his grandparents spoil him when we are away. 
               If you aren’t already making just because stuff happen in your marriage, I highly recommend it. Hit up your parents. Find a babysitter you trust. Leave them with your neighbors. Make a way! Not all of our just because stuff is expensive. Find what just because works for you and your budget. Some of the best just because moments we have had were days we got lost on roads leading to who knows where, singing along to 80's music and just being together.
               You will probably see many more random trips from us in the future, so before anyone asks what we are celebrating, it’s probably just because.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Stick a fork in it

Isn't he adorable? This was the day we registered him for Kindergarten. I remember when the teacher brought him back to us after his testing, her eyes were as big as saucers and she said "He won't have any issues adjusting to big school!" His personality has always been big and it didn't take long before everyone in the school knew him by name. I never quite knew if that was a good thing or a bad thing.

We have made so many memories over the last seven years. Some of them were good, some of them we want to lock away in the past to never remember again, but all of them have molded him into the young man he is today. We've watched him make mistakes and learn from them. We've watched him set goals and accomplish them. We've watched his second language become sarcasm. We've watched him learn heartbreak and defeat. We've watched him rise above his situations. We've watched him struggle and not understand why. We've watched him make sweet friendships. We've watched him grieve things that would never be. We've watched him navigate how to just be himself. We've watched his determination help him accomplish great things. We've watched many prayers answered and some prayers change.

Over the years we have brushed off the comments about choosing to only have one kid. It isn't a decision we made lightly. There were many discussions, debates and prayers that went into this decision. The desire was there, but so were several other obstacles. I put it in God's hands and asked Him if it wasn't His will for us to have another child, that He would remove the desire from my heart. Remove it He did! Nothing cures baby fever quite like doing math homework with your child. We made such a sweet peace with deciding to have just one child and have funneled all of our time and attention into the one God blessed us with. With that said, when you only have one kid, every first is your last. Every first day of school is the last time I will experience it. Everything seems so final. There is a bittersweet sadness in that. I've been struggling the last few weeks, knowing his time in elementary school was coming to an end. For seven years now I have endured that dreaded chaotic morning drop off line and wished for the day that I didn't have to fight it anymore. Now that day has come and I am beside myself with grief. After today, I won't ever pull up to this school again and fight my way to the interstate. I won't watch him walk in the school, hugging teachers as he goes. It's brutal.

Today, I dropped him off for the very last time. Today, we will close a chapter of our lives and anticipate the next one. Today, I head to work with mascara running down my face while whispering a prayer to Jesus to help me get myself together.

Colby, if you ever happen to read this one day, I hope you never doubted how incredibly proud we are of you. We fail as parents each and every day, but because of God's grace and unfailing mercy, He has given us a fresh start each morning. I can't wait to see what wonderful things the future holds for you. You are and will always be the very best part of me.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The story of us...

Growing up as an only child was very lonely. Although I did command the complete attention of both my parents, I longed to have someone to share that attention with. It was the only thing I can recall praying for as a kid. I specified to God that not only did I want a sibling but I wanted a sister. My moms years were spent taking care of her mother after my grandfather passed away and the timing just never seemed right for them to have another child. Once I became a teenager, I believe they just accepted things as they were and were going to chose to be content with just having me. A few months after my grandmother passed away, my mother became very sickly. I remember her laying on the couch and napping a lot. One evening my dad asked me to sit down and told me he and my mom had something they needed to tell me. She was actually laying on the couch sick then. I just knew they were going to tell me something horrible was wrong with my mother and she was dying. First to break the ice, my dad told me we were moving. I remember throwing a fit and proclaiming I would just live with my mamaw and they could go wherever they saw fit. He then proceeded to tell me he was just joking and that actually I was going to be a big sister and moms illness was just a case of "all the time" morning sickness. I was completely in shock but so very happy. She was what you would call a "whoopsy daisy" but I knew in my heart that I prayed this child into the world. It was the first time I saw a prayer answered. She took her precious time getting here but after my mom walked the entire hospital, ate fish, stood under the moon and many other "home remedies" took place she finally came into this world. I proudly wore a button the size of Texas on my shirt that said Big Sister. You cried a lot and spit up like something off of the exorcist, but you were cute as a button.

 Gotta love the perm, straight bangs, braces and red lipstick. On a side note Paige, I must really love you to post this picture of us. I gladly took on the new title of built in babysitter, chaperone, finder of lost things, taxi driver, confidant and ultimately best friend.

 I wasn't allowed to hold her in town for my mothers grave fear that people would think she was mine and a result of a teenage pregnancy. She was all fun and games until she learned one very important word.... "Why?"  It came in forms of "Why?" "Why Not?" and my favorite... "But why?" and then the fun was over. She quickly made a new imaginary friend named Joshua and the rest of us were out of the picture.

 Then the day came where I left home and she suddenly became the only child. I missed her very much. She would come stay with us and Jason would allow her to eat ice cream for breakfast. Soon our age difference suddenly took its toll and the next few years were different.

Then this little guy entered our life and everything changed!

You suddenly became the built in babysitter, the taxi driver and the finder of lost things. As I watched him grow, I watched you grow as well. Gone were the pig tails and imaginary friends and overnight you became this beautiful young lady.

Then one day, without ever realizing it happened, our age difference disappeared and in the blink of an eye we became best friends.

I went from rocking you to sleep to borrowing your clothes. Our roles were reversed for a while where you were the big sister and had to take care of me. You are beautiful inside and out. You stand up for what you believe in no matter who it offends. You love the unloved so deeply that it moves you to action. You are a princess and wear that title proudly. God knew as a child when I prayed you into this world that I would need you one day.

Our story leads up to today. A chapter of your life is closing and a huge new world awaits for you. As I have to embrace what is and let you go, a part of me feels as though a chapter in my life is closing as well. I pray that you will make lots of memories, make mistakes, learn from those mistakes and find yourself one day so much stronger from them. Never get discouraged when you mess up. Those times are when you will find out who you are and how to handle trials in the future. There is always a purpose for each and every one of them. I pray you always remember that I am just a phone call away. I hope that you will still make time to have our sister dates. I challenge you to stand out and be different, to carry Jesus with you wherever you go and allow others to see His love, grace and mercy through you.  Although it may feel this way right now, I know that we will never grow apart because the story of us is perfect. I love you more than words can express. I am proud of all your accomplishments and although those are wonderful, I am more proud of the young lady you have become. I look forward to watching you continue to amaze me in the future.

You Big Sister

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Ain't nobody gonna steal my Grace

I read a pretty powerful statement the other day. It was one of those sentences that jumped straight off the page and into the depths of my soul. It has haunted me for days. It has made me put fingertips to keyboard. It simply said "I will not sacrifice Your grace for my child on the alter of other people's opinions." It went on further to explain that even though we desperately want our children to make wise choices and walk in obedient behavior, ultimately we have to trust God as HE writes their testimony, not US. And guess what that means......we have ZERO control over what or when He sees fit to do so. That is a pretty bitter pill to swallow. In fact in burns going down.

We throw the words Grace and Mercy around pretty frequently in church, but how many times is Grace abundantly available and we blatantly turn it down. When I read that statement, I was convicted. The writer of that statement was explaining a story where she was approached by another parent with a long list of all of her daughters short comings. She was given information of behavior she wasn't aware of, and some behavior she had been fervently praying for God's intervention for years. Not only did this woman approach her, but she informed her she had told several others, including her pastor, in the name of justice. She was embarrassed. Ashamed. Ostracized. Persecuted. Ridiculed. Heartbroken. Angry. She forgot in that moment that Grace was readily available for her child. Grace by definition is the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God. It is His readily available favor for the unworthy.

As a parent, we have a "right now" mentality. When I pray for God to intervene in a situation, or for Him to correct a particular behavior, or for Him to just take an entire problem away, I don't mean when He see's fit to do it, I mean right that very second. I get discouraged when He doesn't. I think we all do. I think about a mother praying for her child battling addiction. She knows in her heart that she didn't raise her child to be that way. She continuously prays for God to step in and fix it. When she doesn't see it happen, she wonders if God even hears her. She then starts looking for faults in herself. What has she done to warrant this. Where did she fail. Where did she go wrong. She fears the future. She dwells on what people say about her family. She focuses on what people must think of her. She allows it to consume her. She is heartbroken for a child that she loves more than her own life. She needs God to fulfill His promise to her right now. She needs peace in her heart. She needs people’s opinions to change in order to do so.

It could be the mother of a teenager who has just told her she is pregnant. The mother of a child who has a hard time minding the rules. The mother of a child who was born with rebellion in their blood and has defied every rule placed in front of them since they learned the word NO. It could be a mom who see's her child struggle with insecurity and fears he/she will harm himself. The mom of the kid who talks too much. The mom of the kid who never speaks. The mom of the kid with special needs that no one seems to understand. The mom of the kid who made that very public mistake.  The mom of the kid who is struggling with who they are and who God intended for them to be. The mom of the kid with the wrong kind of friends. The mom of the kid with no friends. The mom of the kid who is a bully. The mom of the kid who imitates the behavior of a bully just to fit in. The mom of the kid who will go to any lengths to impress the cool kids. The mom of the kid who doesn't understand why God made them so different.  The mom of the kid who thrives on attention, no matter if it is good or bad.

I go back in my own life and assess the times I know my own mother felt some of these ways. I see some of the struggles I have walked through and know she must have prayed for me to take a different path. I can imagine her nights of tear stained pillows crying out to God for Him to intervene. The beauty and reality of the situation is had God stepped in when she must have pleaded for Him too, I wouldn't be where I am today. I wouldn't have the testimony that I do. I wouldn't know the depths of God's unfailing love for me. I wouldn't even understand what His Grace is. God did hear her prayer. God did have a plan for me, it probably just took Him longer to reveal it than she would have liked. God was writing my testimony.

So from now on, I will choose Grace for my child rather than sacrificing it on the opinions of others. The beauty is whether or not any of us actually deserve His Grace, His blood still covers us in it. I will carry this realization with me through his teenage years. I know I will need it then the most. I will remember that whether God intervenes in my time or His, He is writing his testimony the way he see's fit to do so. I will extend grace to others as well, because Gods grace doesn't pick and choose.

Do you find yourself in a situation where you need to accept Gods abundant grace for your child, but you can’t see past the opinions of others to do so?  My prayer for you today is that you can find freedom in that statement like I did and fully trust God as HE writes your kids testimony. His Grace truly is greater than ALL our sins.

 Sidenote: If you are looking for a great study and this blog resonated with you, pick up a copy of “Finding I Am” by Lysa TerKeurst.

Friday, May 11, 2018

The Ferris Wheel of Motherhood

With Mother's Day on the horizon, I can't help but think about what it means to be a mom. I have learned so much from motherhood, mostly that God has a hilarious sense of humor, but simply put; It's hard! Some days are hearts and rainbows and other days are full of crying face and poop emoji's.

I hate the Ferris wheel. It is by far the scariest ride at the fair to me. A few years ago we went to the fair and a bunch of Colby's friends wanted to ride the Ferris wheel but they had to have an adult ride with them because of height restrictions. I was the only adult who had a wrist band that night. Guess who had to take one for the team and ride the Ferris wheel with about 7 kids and pretend they weren't scared to tears? You guessed it. I reluctantly got in line and waited to ride the circle loop of doom. The Ferris wheel isn't so bad when its moving, its when it abruptly stops at the very top and you get stuck there for what feels like forever before it starts moving again that is scary. That's what parenting feels like to me. It's fine when life is moving and is full of fun and adventure, but when it abruptly stops at the top, it's so easy to get caught up in the drama, chaos and the fears of the unknown and find yourself stuck there for a minute.

I find myself getting stuck at the top of the Ferris wheel a lot. Every year of being a mom has presented itself with new challenges. Sometimes I face them head on with my big girl panties on, and other times I find myself on my front porch at midnight sobbing to Jesus for answers. Sometimes I go to sleep at night and pat myself on the back for being a great mom that day, and other times I start counting all the ways I messed up from sun up to sun down. Sometimes I have it all together, and sometimes twice in one week my kid calls me from school to remind me I didn't pack him a lunch. Some days I am his biggest cheerleader and other days I realize that particular day I had been his worst critic. Some days I am fun mom, and other days I am crazy yelling mom. If I am being honest, both of those moms tend to show up on a daily basis.

Sometimes the top of the Ferris wheel is lonely. Whatever event that made my ride come to an abrupt stop begins to consume me. I begin to compare myself to other moms. I compare my kid to others his age. I take mine and his disappoints and try to let them define who we are. I let bad moments make me a bad mom in my head. I troll social media on a self destructive path to make me feel even worse about myself.

In Hebrews 12:11-13 it says "No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore strengthen your tired hands and weakened knees, and make straight the paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed instead." Being at the top of the Ferris wheel can seem painful, but what a beautiful reminder that every thing we go through yields fruit. Not just any fruit, but the fruit of peace and righteousness. No matter what has happened to make our Ferris wheel stop at the top, He is teaching us and training us for His divine purpose.  How we react at the top of the Ferris wheel will define what kind of fruit we will yield from it. As moms, we have tired hands and weakened knees. 4th grade math was quite possibly the weakest my knees have ever been. There is healing in the brokenness though if we watch where our feet take us. If we remember that bad moments don't make bad moms. If we remember that if we train our child in the way that God will have them to go then he will never depart from it. To find joy in every day because you can always look hard enough to find some. To never stay at the top of the Ferris wheel but to move on so that what is lame will not be dislocated, but healed instead.

The good news is that the kids and I had prayer meeting at the top of that Ferris wheel that night and eventually the ride continued and we came down. I wasn't stuck there forever, it was literally a small blip in time no matter the eternity it felt in the moment. My hands were shaky and my knees were weak, but I survived. Colby thanked me for it afterwards. He knew the sacrifice it took for me to get on that ride and persevere my way through it. As a mom now, I can look back and see where my own mother sacrificed and I can remember many a time where I had her at the top of the Ferris wheel. It is amazing the appreciation and gratitude you form for your own mother once you become one yourself. There is so much joy found in motherhood that even on the worst days, it still outweighs the alternative. I have watched seeds that I planted years ago at the top of the Ferris wheel begin to take root and yield fruit. I have planted more seeds this year than all the ones added up in the past and cling to the promise that God will do the same in years to come.

So to all my fellow mothers out there who have boarded the same Ferris wheel, it may be the scariest ride you will ever board, but it is oh so very worth the ride. Happy Mother's Day to each of you! I hope that each and every one of you get what we all crave as a mother, a GREAT Mothers Day nap.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

To my baby sister on her wedding day

      You knew this was coming right.....I can't tell you how many times I have sat down to write this and just couldn't. When I prayed you into this world, I could have never imagined the relationship that God would bless us with. Not everyone is fortunate to have a sister that is their best friend, but how lucky are we! To say I have struggled with you getting married is a huge understatement. That is in no way a reflection on Ross, I thank God daily for blessing you with such a wonderful guy who I can talk football too, but it's the realization that you are all grown up.

        The thing with our age difference is I've been able to watch everything in your life through the eyes of an adult instead of a child. I saw you grow from a baby, to a child, to a teenager and then into an independent young woman. I've watched you grow in beauty and grace. I've watched you go though heartbreak and rise above it. I've watched you grow in your relationship with your Savior.  I've watched your passion for people move you. I've watched you take 3 children who lost their precious mother and love them through it. I've watched you tackle a competitive major and come out successful. I've watched you fall in love and find happiness. I've watched you do so many things that make my heart swell with pride, including what I will witness today. Today I will watch you get married. Today I will watch you make a vow before God and all those who love you. Today I will watch you smile and laugh and dance and then leave different than when you came. It gives me such peace to know that I can watch you today and know without hesitation that it was a wonderful decision that God hand crafted into existence. That peace will allow me to weep tears of joy today instead of sadness.

           I could give you a book of advice but I will leave you with this one grain of wisdom: Love isn't always a feeling, sometimes Love is a choice. There will be days, contrary to what you feel now, that you will have to choose each day to love Ross. Some days that choice will be easy and other days it will be difficult, but I can promise you that your marriage will always be better for it. Marriage isn't always full of happiness, rainbows and carriage rides into the sunset. Marriage will test every single cell in your body. Marriage is work that is very much worth the extra effort. Always remember to choose love, even when your mind doesn't want too and especially during football season.
          Today will pass in a blur. Savor every single second of it. Don't find yourself stressing over little things, everything will come together smoothly. I can't wait to spend every single moment with you today and savoring ever second of it myself. It will be hard to watch you leave tonight. A piece of my heart will be heading to Disney with you. I can't wait to see what the future holds for the two of you and what I get to watch next! I love you more than you love cookie dough.

                                                                                              Your Big Sister

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The blubbering ball of goo

I'm an awkward person. It's my identifier. When someone starts to cry my first instinct is to crack a horrible (and usually inappropriate) joke just to make them stop. I do not handle crying well, my own included. A friend of mine came to me heavy burdened once, weeping and heartbroken. I knew I needed to comfort her, but All I could think to do in that moment was to google "what do you do when the weight of the world is on your shoulders?"  So I did. We laughed and decided a boat to Mexico and some margaritas would be an easy fix but maybe staying around and roughing it out would be the wisest choice. I may not be the best person for advice but I'm always good for a sarcastic comment and a fiercely love abounding hug. I say all that to say this: few things are sentimental enough to me that it causes me severe sadness. The kind of sadness that I don't push back to the outskirts of my brain because let's be honest, if we don't think about it, then it doesn't exist right?!? I must say the first day of school gets me EVERY SINGLE YEAR. Watching that kid walk into school by himself reminds me how fast time really moves and how precious it truly is. I have to turn my head everyday (after the first day of course) and not watch him walk in or I turn into this huge blubbering ball of goo. Some days, just to torture myself, I will sneak a peak in my side mirror thinking "You can handle this" just to realize "no you can't". I do the same thing when I watch Steel Magnolias when I know good and well that movie makes me ugly cry. When he starts a new chapter, I start a new chapter. Although it's fun and exciting, the reminder that you have to close the old one is gut wrenching. Today he has decided he is too old for me to walk him to his class. Maybe it's because he is my only child, but the realization that he is big enough that he doesn't need me to walk him in on his first day today has  made me physically ill. I wanted to park the car and pull a full on recon MacGyver kind of mission where I follow him with my camera and take pictures without him knowing and photoshop myself in the picture later. I will never walk my child into school again. I will never have a picture of him at his desk in his class on the 1st day of school again (unless I can bribe a teacher friend to go snap one for me). Chapter closed. Door shut. Insert any other metaphor you can think of..... Life is moving forward. Time is ticking and I can't slow it down. So yes, I'm heading to work today with mascara stains on my face, a heavy heart and a complete emotional ticking time bomb but I also know that there are fun and exciting things just around the corner. Every new year brings something new to discover, explore and try out. I now know why my mentors in life always told me to not wish my life away. I see now what I never saw in my youth. You do blink and suddenly you wonder where has the time gone. So to all you other moms who were blubbering balls of goo today too, you are not alone...... and I am sorry if this made you cry again....just go cry somewhere I can't see you okay?!?