Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Shout Out of Thanks

Last week was absolutely the most emotionally draining week I have ever had. I thought the week of my dad's trial would forever hold that title, but having your mom hospitalized for heart failure and your dad back in court all in one week now takes the cake.

I couldn't be more thankful though to those that helped get us through it. First, I have to give much thanks to the doctors, nurses, and support staff at Mercy hospital in Rogers. I honestly have never had more appreciation for what those people do every day than I did last week.They were phenomenal! Every single person went above and beyond to make sure my mom and I were well taken care of. From the emergency room staff giving us cheerful good-byes as my mom was transported upstairs, to the nurses that were happy to hand out needed hugs, the cardiologist that did an amazing job diagnosing and treating my mom, the nutrition specialist that were caring and patient as we tried to figure out when and what to eat, and even to the hottie construction workers that flirted with us as my mom was scared going into her first big heart test. Truly truly my heart is bursting over with thanks.

Before moving on to my next round of thank yous, I need to thank one more person from the hospital. Not an employee, but a volunteer. Thursday morning my mom had another procedure where she had to swallow a camera thing that showed the doctors the veins in and around her heart. After coming back to the room, it took a little while for the anesthesia to wear off. I was sitting and visiting with my mom when we begin to hear this beautiful music. A nurse came in to check vitals and do whatever and we asked her where the music was coming from. It was coming from the hallway where a young girl had brought her harp and was playing. What an amazing act of kindness. The nurse said she comes a couple of times a week and just plays. I am telling you it was so neat and made us feel so special. Thank you young lady whoever you are. Your random act of kindness was such a calming light to us.

The next group of people I must thank is my coworkers. Ok those of you that are not teachers will not understand this the way teachers do, but when you have to be away from your classroom it is a huge hassle. You have to type up sub plans and leave detailed instructions for what is to be done every minute of the day. Typically, I leave everything out and labeled and as organized as I possibly can. However, Tuesday afternoon when I met my mom at the hospital there was no time for sub plans at all. No sub plans for Wednesday quickly turned into no sub plans for Thursday or Friday. This could equal major disaster. However, my amazing team took care of it all. I came back to work Monday and everything was in perfect order. Words can just not express my gratitude for working with a team that I can count on to take such good care of me. Not only are they coworkers, but they are very dear friends. They allowed me to focus on my family and prayed for me through it all. SCE K team you make my heart full! (Sherri you have to get in on the next group picture. :-( )

Speaking of friends. Ok y'all my mom and dad have some total rock star friends! They both totally deserve amazing friends because they are pretty amazing people. I know I am bias, but my mom and dad love their friends fiercely and they deserve to be loved back. Not only did their friends drop everything to be at the hospital with us through each test, they prayed with us, and even came running when I needed a minute alone to compose myself. They also came to my dad's court hearing on Friday. I cannot tell you how much that support meant to all of us. We just felt wrapped in love. While my dad is not the touchy feely kind, I personally couldn't have made it through the day without the supportive hugs I got from my parents friends.

Don't think for a minute that I am going to forget to mention my amazing friends. I have always always loved being an only child until now. Although let's be honest, even if I had a sibling, I would never allow them to take charge when it comes to my momma. That is my job. I don't know maybe being an only child created that. Ha. Any way, in this case being an only child got a little overwhelming. While I appreciate all the phone calls and text so very very much, it became challenging keeping everyone up to date. Just about the time I got everyone caught up something would change. I know my friends just waned to check on me and let me know they were thinking of me, but they often were the last people I was able to talk to. My friend Melissa was amazing through all of it. Of course she is always amazing. She was fabulous about just letting me call and blurt out questions or break down any time I needed to. Jennifer was also beyond amazing. She let me know she loved me at least three times everyday last week and even let me just yell and cry on her with all of my overly tired emotions on Friday. Thank you sweet friends. I couldn't love you more if I tried.

And last, but certainly not least, my husband- my other half. Marshal is the rock that keeps me standing. Complete ridiculous song quote, but this life would kill me if I didn't have him. He took great care of our children, while I was focusing on being a daughter and couldn't fill my normal mother role. He sent me sweet pictures of our children and made sure I knew they were missing me, but doing great. I am so thankful to have him. He allowed me to just breathe and not worry.

I am a very lucky lucky girl!

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Mud Day

Marshal bought a jeep his senior year in high school; two weeks after we started dating. He spent hours working on it. For years that was all he wanted for his birthday and Christmas presents-stuff to fix up his jeep. That jeep took me on many adventures with Marshal. It also caused me to get grounded at least once. Darn thing stood out in Russellville and I couldn't get away with going anywhere without my parents seeing me. Ugh! 

Living in Russellville growing up, there wasn't a lot to get out and go do, so many weekends we would end up in the woods somewhere with all of Marshal's friends and we would go mudding. All of the guys had either a jeep or a jacked up truck. I loved my days of mudding in the jeep. The dirty the better. I wouldn't consider it a good weekend unless someone got stuck. It was just plain and simple fun. 

About a month ago one of Marshal's friends, Marc, bought a jeep. He started going to this place in Missouri where you could ride trails, climb rocks, and play in the mud. Last Sunday (when we should have been working on the patio) Marc invited us to go with them. I was super excited. It had been, ok we won't say how many years, but a really long time since Marshal and I had really taken an opportunity to get the jeep out and have some fun. I was actually planning on it being a day date event for Marshal and I, but the kids heard us talking about it and wanted to come as well. I am glad they came. They had such a blast. 

It was a little cold, but the whole place was really beautiful. 

Some trails were so steep, you were literally glued to the back of the seat seeing nothing but sky. Or the opposite, where you were just super happy that the seat belt was holding strong, as you were going straight down.

Just the right amount of mud and despite Ashlynn's silly look, slinging mud was the kids favorite part. Jaxton kept saying, "through the mud daddy. "

It was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon and I can't wait to go again! 

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Not So Springy Spring Break

Ok let's face it, three days off does not count as Spring break. I know I can already hear all of the non teachers out there saying " well at least you get a break. " you can stop, stop right there. Tell me how many times have you had to hold your pee for hours upon hours waiting for your next " break". Umm hmm, and let me ask you this, when you are sick or heaven absolutely forbid you need a personal day sometime other than during the months of June and July what do you do? Oh that's right you just simply take off. No one ask you to submit in writing three days in advance why you need a day off. You don't have to beg the powers that be to grant you the day. Oh and let me guess, no one ask you to write down in detail every single movement you make during your work day so that you can have a sub " fill in" for you. You don't return from your sick day or personal day to find your office trashed by said fill in employee. Ok ok I am done with my lecture, but hopefully you have gotten the point that if you even attempt to comment about how nice it is to be a teacher and get a spring break I might just break your fingers. See I needed a full week off. Can you fill the hostility boiling out? That wouldn't be here if I had just had my well deserved, much needed Spring break.

Anyway as you might have gathered spring break this year was three very short days. Because we had traveled over Christmas break and because we only had three short days, I decided not to plan a spring break trip. I was really sad about this, but knew I couldn't handle not having any at home down time and I wouldn't be able to have a trip and at home down time in the short time frame of our shortened spring break. However, I couldn't stand the thought of saying I did nothing for Spring break either. So bright idea- we build and plant a family garden. Seemed like a great idea until it decided to rain and be miserably cold Thursday and Friday.

None the less we spent Friday researching and buying our materials.Then thank goodness, woke up Saturday to an absolutely beautiful day.

In fact it was so beautiful and we were having such a good time outside working together as I a family, I decided it was the perfect time to start on the extended patio I have been wanting.
You can see not everyone thought starting on the patio was as terrific idea as I did. Ha!

At least someone decided to help.
We also decided to plant a tree. Yay! I finally have my weeping willow.


The patio has proven to be a multiple weekend project. Not surprising, but I am not a very patient person. Once I set my mind on something, I want it now.

We finished digging out the spot for the patio and I was thankful to have the time to get it started.

Last weekend the patio work resumed. We decided on patio stones and bought the materials.

I looked like a hot mess because I was. (Ashlynn was our official photographer.) I unloaded 143 patio stones by myself. You would think I would be down 10 pounds from all of that work,but no worries friends, my fat stayed put.

I know I am making this post sound like Marshal is a loser that just sat around while I worked. That really isn't the case, he worked every bit as hard as I did. I just want those of you reading this post to get the image that I am wonder woman. Ha!

It is looking like we are going to need another weekend to complete our patio. I promise to post pictures once it is finished, or just invite everyone over to enjoy it with us this summer.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

40 Days

I don't often share about my faith. I feel like it is deeply personal and while I would never ever hide it, I also don't necessarily feel like I need to broadcast it either. I feel like some people are called to be more vocal. I have the utmost respect for them and believe their words flow much more eloquently than mine . I feel that I am more called to show my love for Jesus in a more quiet, subtle way, hence the lack of eloquent flowing words.

However, after a couple of weeks of listening to this months sermon series, I feel compelled to share. The title of the sermon series is "Jesus Revealed". I firmly believe God is always revealing himself to us. I also firmly believe that we often times miss these opportunities, because we are a people greatly wrapped up in our own existence. I am extremely guilty of this. Lately, though I have had many glimpses of The Lord's presence in my life. I am thankful for these moments and I believe they are important to remember in times when I am gliding by, holding on with simple faith.

I have never been very dedicated to the time of Lent ( the 40 days building up to Easter). I think I never understood how giving up donuts or coffee or whatever was going to bring me closer to Christ. Right before the season of lent this year, I had a couple of friends share an article on Facebook. 20 Things to Give up for Lent. It made me think about what I could do to become closer to Christ. Our church was giving out a prayer book for the 40 days of lent. Somehow I didn't end up getting a book, but one of my Sunday school friends that did, used that book to fill up Easter eggs for her children to open each day in lent. I thought that was a cute idea and ended up using it to spin off my own idea. Thanks Ashley!

We say prayers every night with our kids, but we usually just repeat the same prayer over and over again. I wanted to give our family something specific to pray for each night. We sat down and together came up with 40 specific prayers for our family and friends. I wrote them all down on a little piece of paper, and stuffed them in the eggs.

Then I hid the eggs all over the house.

Each night at bed time the kids go find one egg and we open it together and pray the prayer that is written inside.

I know it isn't the traditional give something up thing. However, the purpose is to be more Christ centered and draw us closer to God. I can't speak for the rest of my family, but for me the simple little added prayer has created an awareness in my life of Jesus revealed moments. And yes for those of you that know me too well and are sitting there asking yourself how "little miss Andrea who doesn't like anything out of place" is handling eggs hidden throughout her house for 40 days, well I am having a hard time with that. Now that I have officially decorated for Easter, it is easier because they blend in. Ok enough of that.

My first Jesus revealed moment happened kind of in two parts. Ashlynn and I were driving home one day when she randomly said, look mom that truck has the name of my baby brother on it. Shocked I asked, "Jaxton? A truck said Jaxton on it?". No mom my other baby brother, the one in heaven. This kind took my breath away and I didn't really know how to respond. I have certainly not hid the miscarriage from her, but I definitely don't talk to her about it. She was three when it happened so I know she doesn't remember it. I have also never told her it was a boy, because we don't really know. That same week a co-worker and dear friend came to tell me a story. I hope she doesn't mind me sharing. She (my friend) recently lost her father. It was a long process, with lots of ups and downs. When the end was nearing her family gathered around and spent the finial hours with him. He was in and out of conscience and during one of the moments he began talking to the baby he and his wife had lost to miscarriage many years before. It was if in those moments of unconsciousness, he was sharing vocally a moment in heaven. That was so incredibly comforting to me. It is no secret that my miscarriage was hard for me. I blame myself so much and no one has been able to heal the guilt I carry. These two small moments gave me a small connection to the child I have yet to hold. It was if God was whispering in my ear, " I have him, he is ok and he knows you love him. You get to look forward to eternity with him. Give yourself a break and let go."

The next Jesus revealed wasn't quite so gentle and sweet. It was more like a whack in the head. This year has been a real struggle for me. I know,I know, I sound so whinny lately. Ugh! Any way the balance of working full time and having two full time children with two very busy full time schedules, has left me struggling. I know none of you would have ever guessed it, but I am not the most flexible, go with the flow kind of girl, ever. Ha! I know, once again, one of my many many, did I say many, flaws. So Jaxton has been going to a MDO program in Rogers. My mom and I spend literally hours in the car driving back in forth from Bentonville to Rogers. I know the two towns are right next to each other, but these locations are both on the opposite sides of the towns and the times we are trying to get from one place to the other is always when everyone else is trying to get somewhere, which turns it into an hour drive coming home in the afternoons. I am not trying to ignore that my mom also deals with this type of drive. She is just much more graceful than I, and doesn't complain. Anyway, we loved the MDO program and had no plans to change our routine. That is until we didn't love our MDO program anymore. This school year has unfortunately been one thing after another at Jaxton's school. I spent more nights crying after picking him up than I care to remember. It made me have major appreciation for being blessed enough to have my mom here to be my child's primary caregiver while I was at work. I had decided early on that this would be Jaxton's last year in that program, but a couple of weeks ago I became so outraged at the treatment of my child that I absolutely couldn't take it another minute and pulled Jaxton out effective immediately. After looking into several different options we have enrolled him into a preschool that is so close to mine and Marshal's work, either of us could take off running and be there within five minutes. Ok maybe not Marshal because he doesn't run-ever, but you get the point. Now Jaxton doesn't start their until the fall but I have heard nothing but glowing recommendations and I got the warm fuzzies talking to the director. After getting him all enrolled, I was driving, (it happened to be one of the rare times that I was actually in the car alone) then out of no where God just said " you are welcome. " I was like what? And he said " you've been begging me to help you find a way to manage your stress. I found a way." I hadn't even thought about that as an option. Yet, I know it is going to be a huge time and energy saver for both my mom and I. I am so thankful to serve a God that sees the big picture even when I cannot.

The last Jesus revealed moment was a sweet simple conversation between Jaxton and I. I met Marshal for dinner the other evening a Which Wich. After dinner Ashlynn asked Marshal if she could ride with him. Ashlynn wanting to ride with him, meant Jaxton wanted to ride with him. Trying to not have to move the car seat over I said "Jaxton ride with mommy. I would be so lonely without you." He turned to me and said without hesitation, "Mom you won't be lonely. Jesus lives in your heart. He is with you everywhere you go."

Ok Jaxton. You are so right my sweet little four year old. So right.

I might not be loud about my faith and I might not always know the words to use to express myself, but I hope that everyone can see God definitely has my heart.