Tuesday, December 25, 2018

What if Christmas, Perhaps, Means a Little Bit More

As I sit here this morning in the soft glow of the Christmas tree anxiously waiting for the chaos to begin, I realize just how blessed I am. I have so much to be thankful for, but yet, somehow I feel sad.

I haven't been very Christmasy this year. I don't know what's wrong with me.

Just like every other year, we go to a different tree farm & pick out our tree Thanksgiving weekend. But somehow even that felt forced. We (um, mainly me) didn't walk over 97% of the farm to find the perfect tree. We picked one after only looking at about 5. That's unheard of.

We put it up & had to squeeze in decorating it one night after church so that kept the kids up late. (You know me & how I am about bedtime.) Then the kids fussed over this petty thing & that petty thing. One was more interested in social media than helping. So I ended up crying at the table.
*see previous post*

Anyway, then somehow time slipped right by me. As December sped by, I didn't get the chance find the time to decorate anything else for the house. Do you hear me? ANYTHING. No lights outside. No fun knick knacks inside. No mistletoe hanging in the dining room. No tinkling bells that I enjoy so much. No special Santa plate & glass. I didn't even put the Christmas cards up & that has always been my favorite "decoration".

What is wrong with me??

I have far too many things to be thankful for, but yet it's not coming easy right now.

I don't think I've gotten caught up in the "hustle & bustle" or the commercialism, but I sure have gotten caught up in life. Between me working a lot more than I have in recent years (almost every day subbing - which I LOVE so don't read anymore in to that), Justin working EMS nights, with his dad some days, & coaching every afternoon, church activities, & juggling three sports schedules, I feel like I'm drowning. I'm just trying to make it til bedtime some days.

I love supporting our kids & I love watching them, but let's be honest, I'm tired. I honestly don't even remember the last time I cooked.

Everyone was so excited about the big snow we had a couple of weeks ago because they got to slow down & just enjoy each other. That didn't happen at our house. Justin & Austin scrapped snow the majority of the time. Justin still worked EMS, because emergencies don't stop for a blizzard. And we had the stomach bug so it was hard to enjoy it.

Justin had to work last night (& tonight as well) so our Christmas Eve traditions were a little rushed & I had to be Santa by myself for the first time. Austin stayed with him so I'm sad that even though he would have went to bed just like the other kids & he will be here soon, just knowing he wasn't home Christmas Eve is hard.

Again, I'm not complaining, just trying to figure out why my heart hurts.

I miss Christmas from years ago. I miss Christmas Eve at my grandparent's house. I miss my grandparents. I miss getting together with aunts, uncles, & cousins. I miss my aunt's chex mix. I miss the elaborate family dinners. Oh, we still have them on Justin's side, but its not the same.

Soon my family will be home, my parents will come over, & my littles will wake up (hopefully in that order) & the chaos will begin. As I've watched the sun rise & wiped a few tears away, my heart feels a little lighter. I just don't want to take any of it for granted.

If this doesn't make sense, don't hold it against me. My thoughts were running wild this morning.

From my family to yours, MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Monday, November 26, 2018

Do You See What I See

We put up our Christmas tree yesterday. We always try to do it Thanksgiving weekend, but we just barely got that accomplished this time. The kids are getting older & schedules are getting busier. And its sad.

I am very picky about how the lights are placed, the more the better, so the kids don't even bother trying to help with that part. Well, Logan still does. Then its all theirs. It really doesn't matter to me how the ornaments are put up. Sure I'll move one here & there when a limb is weighted down, there's too much in one spot, or a big gaping hole that no one but me sees, but other than that, I'm good.

It's beautiful. It usually is. Not because we spent a lot of money on decorations or because a professional did it, but because its ours & it's decorated with love... at least I hope.

The pictures show smiles & a pretty tree. You see it. We all see it. At least the parts that we want you to see & the parts that can actually be photographed.

But do you see what I see?

I see my husband trying to cook supper at 8pm while I put the lights up because we haven't had any other time together as a family. I see them staying up past bedtime & hoping no one is grumpy in the morning. I see one child not feeling well. I see one child fussing at another for ringing the bells too loud. I see one child repeatedly throwing snowflakes at the tree. I see one child on their phone instead of enjoying this. 

I see the supper I'm trying to eat even though the tears make it hard to swallow. I see the past when we got along better. I see Christmas from my childhood & I see happiness. I see them all grown & no longer home to help decorate the tree. I see them looking back on their childhood with more heartache than fondness. I see disappointment, shame, regrets, & what ifs.

But then, as I'm putting Logan to bed, he smiles & tells me he had fun & I see love. Through more tears, I see love. And I see a weary momma trying desperately to hang on to the magic even though the world has made her jaded & her kids are growing up entirely too fast.

I'm glad you don't see what I see. Oh how I miss when times were simpler.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

October 2, 2018

This day. I have been waiting for what feels like forever for THIS DAY.

This day probably doesn't mean anything to you, but it means so much to my family.

It means freedom. It means being able to breathe easier. It means returning to a somewhat normal life. It means its finally over.

It means 398 days since our world turned upside down & in that time I've grown to seriously dislike some numbers.

First & foremost August 29, 2017. I might just erase the day if I could.

Followed closely by October 2, 2017. I have faced many things in my life. I've been mad, upset, & scared over situations out of my control, but I've NEVER experienced fear the way I did on October 2, 2017. And there was NOTHING I could do about it.

Helpless. Hopeless. Betrayed. Scared. Angry. Confused.

  • 365 - 365 days until this nightmare was officially over.

  • 11 - an 11 month deadline

  • 65 - 65 hours that seemed like a waste of time

  • 5 - 5 months of mental evaluations

  • 60 - every 60 days that someone questioned my parenting

  • 30 - every 30 days of check ins

  • 4 - 4 charges that all started with a moment of unclear thinking

  • 3 - 3 days a week that my home was invaded

  • 9 - 9 hours that felt like a prison sentence

  • 1.5 - 1.5 hrs that seemed like a bigger waste of time

  • 1 - 1 huge mistake

  • 0 - 0 unexcused absences

  • random - enough random testing to make you doubt your sanity

Unfortunately, the list goes on. I just can't put it into number form.

If you don't know me personally or if you didn't know us then, you probably have no clue what I'm talking about & that's ok. Just know that life is better now. I've learned real friends from fake. I've learned how to keep my circle small. I've learned that sometimes, all you have is the people in your home.

I've also developed a new appreciation for some numbers.

  • 24 - 24 hours, Tomorrow is a new day & you get to start over again & again & again, & sometimes that's all you can do - start over & hope for better

  • 5 - 5 means Grace, Grace form God, Grace for each other, & Grace from each other

  • 5 - 5 also happens to be the number in my family, while its not perfect, its the one God gave me

and most importantly

  • 2 - 2nd chances, and sometimes 3rds & 4ths & 5ths as well

But after a full year to reflect, I realize that I've learned to appreciate August 29, 2017 & October 2, 2017. Without them, my family wouldn't be who we are today. Without  them, my family could be a lot worse off than we are now. Without them, decisions to turn & walk away from bad situations might not have ever happened. Without them, maturity might have come at a higher cost. Without them, a darker, harsher future might have come about.

I believe that God allows things to happen in order to bring people to the place He wants them to be so He can use them.

My son has learned some hard lessons the hard way, but he's a better person from it.

My daughter has learned some hard lessons the hard way, but she's a better person.

My husband & I have learned some hard lessons the hard way, but I pray we are better because of it.

Just like the phoenix, out of the ashes. I've clung to that image for over a year now, knowing that it will be ok & that we will rise again.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Are You Ready

I've watched the endless news coverage, witnessed hordes of people wipe out grocery stores & gas stations, seen them trim trees, place sandbags, & secure outdoor furniture. Hurricane Florence is own her way.

Are you ready?

This storm is being labeled "The Storm of a Lifetime". Its no joke.

Are you ready?

We are much more fortunate than previous generations. More often than not, they had no clue something deadly was lurking around the next corner. They paid with land, livestock, many times, their lives.

I'm thankful that we have advance notice so we can prepare for emergencies. I'm thankful for scientific discoveries & equipment that give us hours, days, & sometimes even weeks to prepare.

We prepare for unforeseen disasters all our lives. Storms, financial ruin, sickness. We make our homes safe. We save money. We purchase insurance. All of these things we set up "just in case".

Just in case something horrific may or may not happen.

Just in case disaster wipes out life as we know it.

Just in case we never experience a single hardship.

Still, just in case.

Are you ready?

We've heard about a storm unlike anything we have ever experienced. We've heard about a day that will change everything. We've heard about a returning that will one day take us home.

But yet we ignore those warnings.

Jesus Christ is on His way!

Are you ready?

Just as we prepare for Earthly storms & disaster, we need to prepare for Eternal life.

Do you know that you know that you know where death will take you? Do you have your reservations set up in Heaven?

Are you ready?

Eternity is too long to base it on "I hope so". Its too long to base it on "I think so".

Are you ready?

Have you checked on your family? Have you checked on your neighbors? What about the stranger down the street? You wouldn't let them drown in a flood if you could help, would you?

Why would you leave them to fend for themselves for all eternity?

Are they ready?

There's a storm coming!

Are you ready?

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

You Are More

I was recently talking to someone where they said "I am a professional ... "(fill in the blank however you see fit). It got me to thinking.

Some people know exactly what they want to be from day one. And that's great. Those people have found their passion & have fought tooth & nail to make those dreams come true.

Some people bounce back & forth between ideas, schools, & jobs, yet still they have no clue what they really want to do in life. They just end up working whatever job pays more. And many of them are happy that way.

Some people start on one path in life only to be derailed or rerouted somewhere else. It's not what they expected, planned, or even wanted, but they learn that the new path is just as good, if not better,  than the original.

For so many years, when asked about what I do, I found myself saying "I'm just a mom" or "I'm just a substitute teacher". When asked about my life, I usually end up talking about my kids or my husband. Afterall, who they are or what they do seems so much more interesting than what I do.

But I've realized that I am more! I am more than just a mom. I am Austin, Makenzie, & Logan's mom! Someone else might be "more qualified" or more efficient. But no one could ever love them more! God handpicked me, ME to be their mom.

I am more than just a preacher's wife, a paramedic's wife. I am Justin's wife. God joined our hearts together 20 years ago so we could walk hand in hand through this journey.

And although I still may just be "the sub" for the day, I absolutely love my job. I love so many of those kids like they were my own & I know they love me as well. Where else can you walk through the door & get bombarded by teenagers happy to see you? Certainly not your own house most days.

So whatever your title, whether it be a Doctor, a Lawyer, a Trash Collector, a Maintenance Man, a Mom, a Dad, wear that title with honor & know that God has a plan for your life. He has handpicked YOU to do things that NO ONE else can do.

I'm thankful that God has allowed me to be a mom, a wife, & a sub. It may not mean anything to you, but it sure does me.

Friday, August 17, 2018

It's Game Day Y'all

In towns all across America, people are gearing up for tonight. Months of hard work will finally be showcased tonight. Those hard working men (& some women) will finally be able to show off what they've learned, how they've grown, be seen under the lights, & have their names echo from the stands. And for a few moments, those ordinary, everyday youngins can feel like stars!

Those Friday Night Lights are legendary, especially in small towns in the south.

We are gearing up for our 11th football season. It takes over your time, your money, your car, your laundry. It takes away your voice, takes away your breath, & steals your heart.

As always, we start every season with hopes & dreams. Hope for a good season, hope for no injury, hope for success, & dreams of championships & glory.

This year is a little different for us, well for me anyway. I start this year with the same hopes & dreams, but mixed with anxiety, concern, & trepidation. (For the record, I'm not sure where the word trepidation came from. I'm not sure I've ever used it before, but as this post was flowing through my head, so was the word trepidation. So there you go.)

It was only a year ago that I watched, helplessly, as our family went through the biggest trial we've ever experienced. All because of a stupid decision during opening week of football.

I can't help but worry.

Even though I've seen my son grow. I've seen him change. I've seen him walk away from fights when I know his temper was boiling. I've seen him break up fights so others wouldn't get hurt or in trouble. I've seen him hit the altar at church with tears in his eyes. I've heard him call home from church camp absolutely broken about how good God has been. I've seen him make hard decisions that I know at the time he questioned. I've heard "I'm sorry for the hell I've put you through mom".

I've also heard the laughter return to his voice. I've heard joy & excitement when he talks about things. I've seen more friends coming back around. I've seen him opening back up. I've seen less worry & stress on his face. I've seen his eyes light up.

I can't help but worry.

After last season, he swore he wasn't playing again. My heart hurt. It hurt for him. It hurt for me. It hurt for missed opportunities & making memories. It hurt for regrets.

We have a brand new start this year. A brand new year, a brand new team, a brand new number (oh mercy kid, pick a number & stick with it), a brand new coach, a brand new set of plays, a brand new principle.

A brand new hope.

Don't mind me. I'll be the one praying fervently, screaming my head off, & ringing the cow bell for all I'm worth.

So here's to another football season & those Friday night lights.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

I’m Thankful for Smoke Detectors at 2am

Have you ever be woken up in the middle of the night by your smoke detector? It’s kind of a weird feeling. You’re sleepy, you’re disoriented, you’re heart is pounding, you’re scared of the unknown.

That sound at that time is usually one of a parent’s worst nightmares. That might usually be the case, but it wasn’t mine. At least it wasn’t last night.

Last night, when my smoke detector woke me from a sound sleep at around 2am, I couldn’t help but smile a little.

I smiled because I smelled a familiar smell about 45 minutes earlier. And yes, that smell woke me up as well.

As I opened my bedroom door, through the smoky haze, I see one teenage boy asleep on the couch, oblivious to everything around him, I see one laughing hysterically on the floor, and I see my oldest son frantically fanning the smoke detector saying “sorry Mom”. It was 2am, they are teenagers, and they were hungry. They set the smoke detector off cooking a pizza (which reminds me... again... I really need to clean the oven).

So today, I’m thankful for friends, food, and working smoke detectors. But most of all I’m thankful that these boys were at my house texting girls & eating everything in the house instead of being out somewhere getting into trouble.

I would much rather be woken up from laughter & smoke detectors than from worry, fear, & dread. I pray that they always feel comfortable enough to walk through my doors without knocking & to help themselves to the junk food stash like its their own.

Lord, keep them safe, it’s a hard world out there.

What if Christmas, Perhaps, Means a Little Bit More

As I sit here this morning in the soft glow of the Christmas tree anxiously waiting for the chaos to begin, I realize just how blessed I am....