Grief Doesn’t Have a Time Limit

Tonight we brought our extra (our girl) home with us. Her school is on fall break this week so on a Thursday night she can come home with us and it’s no big deal. I thought we were going to watch football when we got home (Georgia Tech v Virginia Tech), but they all decided we should watch/listen to YouTube instead.

All three kids and Chris had ideas of what songs we should listen to. Chris turned on the first song. I said Jaidyn could pick the next song, and then Connor and then Cameron. (Honestly it was just the way they got to me.) However sometimes YouTube turns the next song on and you just have to listen to it.

When it got to Jaidyn’s second time to pick she asked for “Drink a Beer.” Most people know it because Luke Bryan sings it. I know Chris Stapleton wrote it and also sings it so that was the version we listened to.

In case you don’t know it about my three kids, they have all had so many people they love die. And Jaidyn asked for the song because she was thinking about one of those people who all five of us loved.

YouTube knows how we normally listen to music so they took us “Broken Halos” next. So how could we change it? And then because we were neck deep in “people we love have died” Chris as an adult got to throw his pick in next. He said since we were this far in he wanted Brooks and Dunn’s “Believe” which is our Grandpa John song.

Everyone understands that Dad gets to pick a song and then Connor’s song is next. No big deal. And then I watch Connor run to my bedroom. Thinking the other two kids were jerks, I follow to find out what’s going on and who’s in trouble. I find Connor sitting on the floor, his back against my dresser and tears running down his cheeks.

I sat down next to him and asked him what happened. He said, “Why did you have to play that?!” Honestly, I thought he was mad that he didn’t get to pick the song. I told him when it was over he got to pick the next song. That just made him cry harder and made him mad at me. I told him I was sorry but I didn’t know what was wrong.

He leaned into me and said, “I miss Grandpa John so much.” My heart broke and I felt like such a jerk all at the same time. I thought of all the times that I’ve sat and cried (normally on my husband’s lap) over these past three years. And let me tell you, regularly I sit on my husband’s lap and he holds me while I cry about how much I miss my grandpa. (Not the point of this but important enough to say I have an amazing husband.)

Connor told me repeatedly that he misses Grandpa John. He told me how mad he was that we played that song that makes him think about Grandpa and reminds him how much he misses Grandpa. We talked about how we all miss Grandpa John. I told Connor how proud Grandpa would be of him. How Grandpa is with Jesus and because Connor loves Jesus someday we will be with Grandpa again, but Grandpa wants us to live long full lives.

We laughed about how Connor is almost as tall as Grandpa John because the year before Grandpa died I broke my right foot. For my last doctor’s appointment Grandpa stayed at my house with the boys and Grandma drove me to the doctor. Apparently while we were gone the boys showed Grandpa the papers taped to the wall where I measured the boys. Connor was already taller than the 48 inches so I had taped a blue paper to the wall above it. Grandpa was taller than that paper reached but he made a line at the top of the paper and wrote Grandpa John for the boys. What seemed super tall to them at the time is almost their current height.

We laughed at all the “naughty” stuff Grandpa used to do with my boys. The three of them were always looking for trouble. We talked about how Grandpa wants Connor to live a long and good life.

Even though I know Connor has seen my tears, we talked about the times that I need to sit and cry and how that’s okay. Some times we miss Grandpa so much we need to cry about it, but someday we will be back together again. And it’s okay to be sad. There’s not a time limit on our sadness.

Honestly I sometimes forget how much my boys miss my grandpa. They probably miss him as much as I do. They did so much together. And sometimes we all just need to sit and cry about it. Grief doesn’t have a time limit. Connor and I cried together for a little bit. Then we wiped our faces, stood up, and went back to the living room. We both just needed that little break tonight to remember a man we both loved so much.If you are missing someone today, don’t let people tell you that you should be over it. Grief doesn’t have a time limit. One month, three months, one year, three years, ten years it doesn’t matter. Your grief is yours. And while you continue to live, you don’t “get over” losing someone you love. It’s okay to cry for your lose. We still cry for ours.

Jewelia Paige

Maybe everyone’s childhood was like mine, but I believe mine was extra special. I have two brothers by birth, but in my childhood home there was almost always more than three kids. There was constantly at least one extra living with us, or spending the night so often it felt like they lived with us.

With no extra thought at all I can come up with two boys and two girls that I would call brothers and sisters. Even all these years later, these kids are my siblings. Even though its been years since I’ve seen them, they are family in my heart.

Girls talk about the bonds of sisters and I’ve always been jealous. I was already a teen when I got my sisters so I know the bond isn’t the same but I love them both with all that I am. I would do anything for them no matter how late in life I got them.

One sister moved across the country from me so I rarely get to see her, but that doesn’t stop how much I love her. I watch her on Facebook and am jealous of the vacations she takes (although Hawaii during a hurricane seems like a bad plan.).

The other sister stayed close but as we all know, as you grow older you grow apart. We both got married. We moved in different directions. We had kids. Life happened. And, as life works, when you’re not forced by blood to get together, you forget to get together. Our lives grew, and we forgot to force the times to see each other. We stayed connected by Facebook as everyone does these days. We talked about get togethers, but as life does, it seemed to get in the way.

I’ve watched on Facebook my sister’s daughter grow older. I’ve watched my sister take in fosters and love them as much as if she birthed them. She loves them as we love her. I watched as she got sick. I saw her in the hospital. I saw her liver and kidneys start to shut done. I cried as they talked about her needing a transplant.

Last night I was sleeping when the text came that she wasn’t going to make it. And I cried when I got the message and she was already with Jesus. I cried for the sister I lost and wished I had done more to see her. I cried for my brothers who probably feel the loss even more than I do. I cried for her husband who has to raise those kids without her. I cried for those kids who lost an amazing mother.

I know God has a plan and all of this is part of His plan, but, seriously some times God’s plan just sucks. And this is one of those times. I trust His plan and I know He has one, but today is one of those days where it’s hard to understand how this can be part of it.

I know His plan is good and He uses all things for His good, but I will never understand how leaving children without a mother can be good. I will never understand how there are people ready to meet Jesus, and those who are so young are called home. And I know on this side of Heaven I will never understand it.

Jewelia, I will always love you. I’m sorry for those times we were supposed to see each other and life worked against us. I will remember that time I marched into the high school to explain why you were late when the school was being a jerk and I told the secretary off when she thought I wouldn’t stand up to her. I’ll remember those times in our yard sitting on the swing talking about nothing that matters once your out of your teens. I’ll remember. Your children will always be in my heart. You will always be in my heart. I love you and I’ll miss you. My sister in my heart, I’ll see you again.

Easter Is Sneaking Up On Us

We are just over a week away from Easter. This year feels so different from the years past. It doesn’t feel like it’s time for Easter. And I know Easter comes early this year, but it seems like more than that.

In the years past, the boys and I have done a lot of talking leading up to Easter. One year, we went on a search to find the cross. One year we talked about the lamb. Every year, we doing lots of talking, and Easter never sneaks up on us. This year it’s sneaking up on us and I’m not sure why.

Maybe it’s because we leave for vacation Easter morning. I guess that’s possible, but it doesn’t feel likely because we have a plan. I’ve told Chris that I don’t care what time we leave the house. We can leave at 4 am if he wants but some time between 10 and 11, he had to pull over and find me a church because I will not miss Easter service. I don’t care what church, but I need a church that morning. And the people vacationing with us can stop with us, or keep driving and we will catch up later.

Maybe it’s the fact that I recently became in charge of a group of kids every other Friday night, and I’m in charge of their Easter party. I’m in charge of the Easter bunny and the egg hunt and everything in between, and I hate the Easter bunny and just want to tell them all about Jesus and the real reason we celebrate Easter. (And it’s so much more amazing than a bunny leaving candy.) What would happen if I told the REAL Easter story in the middle of the party?

But maybe the real reason it doesn’t feel right is because I don’t have a church that I feel like I will be missing leaving for vacation Easter morning. Right now I don’t have a church that I want to go to on Sunday mornings. I don’t have a church that seems worth that extra hour or two I can sleep if we don’t go.

This makes me feel like a terrible mom. I grew up in Sunday School and that’s what I wanted for my boys. But churches don’t have Sunday School anymore. They have kid’s church which takes the children out of the service. I want my kids in the service with me. I want them to be able to sit for that hour (counting music) with me. And my recent experience with kid’s church is that it is all fluff. We watch Veggie Tales at home. I don’t want that on Sunday mornings.

So it puts me in a place where I don’t know what to do. I want a church that I WANT to go to on Sunday mornings. I want a church where I know my kids are getting Jesus when they aren’t by my side. I want Jesus.

Easter is an amazing day. Jesus DIED and then Easter morning he ROSE FROM THE GRAVE TO SAVE US ALL! I want more. I want to not be surprised that Easter is a week away. I want every day to feel like Easter.

My Family

Once I was in my 20s, people started saying how much I looked like my mom. We had never seen it before. I was shy and quiet, and my mom was always loud. How could we look the same? But the older I get, the more people say we are the same and the more I act like her. And just so we’re clear, there is no one I would rather be like than my mom

My mom is the best. Even when we disagree and she makes me crazy (and she does make me crazy) she is the best. My mom is my best friend. When I lose my direction, she is the arrow pointing me north. I don’t know what I would do without her. And when life overwhelms my mom, I like to believe that I am her north star. Without each other, we would be lost.

Before I can remember, my parents took in strays. I’ve heard the stories so I know there were little boys who we loved as our own. And then a parent showed up and took those boys away from us. I don’t remember their names or how they came to be with us, but if you asked I would say there where three boys and I think I remember them sleeping on the floor by mom’s side of the bed or at least in their room.

I remember as a teenager, just out of school, we had another girl living with us. Mom was out of town and I had to go to the local high school and explain why Jewelia was late for school. The only proof we had of our relationship was love, and let me tell you, the government doesn’t use love as proof of anything. One of the few times I remember my dad crying was the day Jewelia (at 16) was made to leave us.

I’ve looked back at those who we loved. Yes we had Jewelia who was made to leave us, but we also had Joey, who had amazing parents but always ended up at our door, Meagan, who I consider my sister to this day, Seth who came to spend spring break at our house and then left two years later when he graduated high school. Daniel who I’m pretty sure went on as many family vacations that I went on with my family.  I have so many more siblings than the two brothers my mom gave birth to.

For as long as I can remember we have called these extra kids strays. And the ones I can give names to are just the beginning. There were always extra kids at my house. And we loved each and every one of them.

As I grew up and got married and moved on, my husband was reminded repeatedly that girls normally turn into their mothers and my husband said he would be honored if I turned into mine. Fourteen years later I have to remind him of what he said.

My mom adopted stray kids. And while every sad kid story makes me want to take those kids into my home, I’ve adopted a different kind of stray. I’ve taken in adult strays. Those grown ups that think no one loves them. Those that don’t speak to their parents. Those whose parents have died. Those who just need someone to tell them the truth. Those who need someone to love them.

Some days it makes my husband crazy, but as long as I don’t move them in, he will love my strays as much as I do. They need parents to tell them no. They need someone to say they’re making a mistake. They need someone to say, I believe in you and want the best for you. They can sleep on my couch. They can cry on my shoulder. I will cry with them and sometimes I cry for them once they leave.

My husband tells me regularly that I can’t make their decisions for them, I’m not their boss no matter how much I feel like their mom. What I can do is love them and pray for them. And whether they like it or not, my God is their Father and I know He hears our prayers. I know that even when our prayers end with us in tears and not understanding, He knows and His time is so much better than ours.

When my sister is pulled from my home and my dad is in tears, my Father cries with us. When all I can do is cry out, my Father is crying out with me. When I feel like no one hears me, my Father asks why no one is listening to Me.

If you don’t think God is listening, take a moment and listen closer. God is crying with you. Your pain is His pain. He loves you and so do I. You are my family. My family is so much bigger than blood could make it. I love you all so much.

I wasn’t ready for this

It’s starting to feel like I only write when I’m asking for people to give or when something bad has happened. And let’s be honest, today fits right into that mold.

I used to talk to my mom on the phone every day. She would call me on her way home from work, and we would chat for that 15 minute drive. Then my brother started working with her and since they live 1/2 mile apart, they started carpooling most days. That meant that my mom only called me on days when my brother wasn’t with her. It was hard (annoying) at first, but I’ve gotten used to it.

Normally on Tuesdays my brother rides with my mom so I was obviously surprised when my phone rang around 5 and it was my mom. She thought she was so funny telling me how sorry she was that she wouldn’t be able to see us the next day. She was sorry that I decided we wouldn’t be able to see her. (Wednesdays weather permitting the boys and I go to my mom’s house to spend time with Grandma Jo and then see my parents. The weather is a lot less permitting in the winter that the other 3 seasons.) Finally asked why “I” decided we couldn’t go over. My dad and Grandma Jo were both sick with the flu. We talked the rest of her drive home and said good-bye when she pulled in the garage. It should be a few days until I talked to her again.

You can’t imagine my surprise, my shock, my panic when about an hour later my phone rang and the caller ID showed my mom’s name. I had been messing around on Facebook and answered on the first ring. She doesn’t call me at night. My phone should not have rang.

My mom was a mess and the strongest she’s even been when I answered the phone. She said, “I think Grandma had a stroke. The ambulance came and got her. I’m on my way to the hospital.”

I can’t even tell you my reaction. I got this same call 2 years ago, but this time is worse because I know how that story ended. The last time I got this call Grandpa had brain cancer and died. And that was hard and I didn’t want to lose Grandpa. I wasn’t ready for that, but I’m really not ready to lose Grandma.

And as broken as I felt, I held it together. I got the information Mom needed to give me. I was strong for her. I hung up the phone, told my husband what happened and took 1 minute to fall apart. Then I made the calls that she needed to me to make.

They made it to the hospital and confirmed that she did have the flu. They didn’t think it was a stroke, but the flu was bad enough they were transferring her to a bigger hospital. Okay. I can do that. The flu is extra bad this year. They transferred her and did an MRI and EKG the next morning. She has the flu, and it was a stroke.

If you know anything about my grandma, you know she is so ready to be in Heaven with my grandpa. She’s been telling us all since Grandpa died that she just wants to be with him. So my first thoughts with all of this is that she was just going to give up. I’m not ready to lose her. That may be super selfish, but I need her for just a little bit longer.

But the one thing she wants more than to be with Grandpa is to not be a burden on her family so she keeps fighting. The location in the brain where her stroke was just affected mobility on the right side. It didn’t affect her memories or attitude or personality. She is as ornery ever. Her speech is slow and affected, but she makes jokes with the doctors that they don’t get.

Grandma and Grandpa always thought that she would die first. They planned for that. We know she has an aneurysm in her brain. Any day it could move and kill her. But it hasn’t. This week we learned things about her heart. It is bad when your aorta is enlarged. At 3cm they do surgery. Grandma’s aorta is 6cm. That makes your heart pump too fast and, instead of sending the blood out faster, your heart is pumping too fast and the blood can’t get out of the heart and instead pools around in your heart and starts clotting and that clot is what caused Grandma’s stroke.

We’ve been told that with the kind of stroke she had that with medication there is less than a 15% of her having another stroke. I guess if you must have a stroke, it’s the best kind you could have. Although that information came before we knew how swollen her aorta is.

Mostly we are being told that with rehab, Grandma will get back 60% mobility on her right side. She will be able to walk, but she will probably have to use a walker. They want to do heart surgery eventually. It’s hard for some people to understand but she is looking for quality of life over quantity. She’s been ready for Heaven for 2 years.

So today I’m feeling the same feelings I had 2 years ago. I feel selfish and guilty. I want Grandma to live, to be healthy and strong and for us to have years more of Wednesday visits. But I don’t get to make these decisions. I don’t get to pick. And my mom sits at the hospital all day and I think I should be doing something, but there is literally nothing I can do. Even if I drove to the hospital, they wouldn’t let me and the boys in.

So it’s all in God’s hands. And I pray for His will. For the right thing. If He chooses for us to have her longer I will rejoice in that and if He chooses for her to be with Grandpa, I will mourn for our lose, for the world’s lose, but rejoice in knowing that she is with Grandpa.

If you, dear readers, would pray for my family. The selfish part of me wants you to pray for healing and the unselfish part asks for you to pray that His will be done. Either way pray for Grandma to be at peace and for God to be with us all.

 

 

Thanks for the Hope

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December has just been crazy around here. A lot of the time it hasn’t felt like December, and it’s hard to believe that Christmas is less than a week away. We’ve had Christmas parties and family come into town. We finally managed to get a tree last weekend and start our own Christmas shopping. There is still so much to do and so much going on in the next week. (And the week after that, if I’m being honest.)

I went back and forth a lot on whether I was going to do Hope for the Holidays this year. It’s always a lot of pressure on me to make sure I’m doing what’s right. I do my best to make sure there are no repeats or fraud. This year was especially frustrating as we did have fraud. There were two posts with different stories that came from the same person. And the most frustrating part of all of it was that one of those stories was part of the reason I did this again this year.

However, we all go into this with our eyes and our hearts open. It is all a matter of faith. And while one person lied and got help before I could get it shut down, we helped a lot of really great people. Nine families received a little extra help this year, a little bit of their burden lifted. They got a little hope from strangers across the internet.

This year we helped a single mother whose daughter needed a winter coat and a little something under the tree. We helped grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. We had people write in requests for their neighbors because they knew they needed help. We helped several families who struggle to put food on their tables. We helped families from the east coast all the way to Alaska.

Thank you to everyone who gave this year. Thank you for caring for people you don’t know and will never meet. Thank you for supporting me in my small part of giving back. If you want to give, it’s not too late. I’m sure any of the families we’ve given to could use a little more help, and there were several new comments today from people who just heard about us and could use some help.

From my family to yours,
Merry Christmas

Ho(pe), Ho(pe), Ho(pe): Hope for the Holidays

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Everyone goes through times of good and times of bad. We all have our up times and our down times. Times where everything seems to be going just great, this life couldn’t get any better and times where if one more thing goes wrong you don’t know how you’re going to make it through. Sometimes life seems to cycle through the good times and the bad. Sometimes life seems to stall out in the middle of the bad cycle. Sometimes it appears as if other people only have the good times. Sometimes it feels as if you only have the bad times.

My family had gone through our share of good times and bad. We’ve had times where everything feels like it’s going just right and it’s all worked out and there’s a plan and we’ve got this. And we’ve had times where it’s all come crashing down. There’s been days that felt so dark I didn’t know if we’d ever see daylight again. We’ve had days that felt hopeless.

This past year has been interesting to say the least. It’s certainly had its up and downs. People we love have died. Jobs have been gotten and lost. Times have been hard. But we have also laughed and loved and had joy. Times have been good, too.

The day after I got a seasonal part-time job, my husband lost his job. And while he wasn’t surprised by it, I was certainly shocked. And then I took a deep breath and remembered all the calls he got from people wanting him to quit his job to go work for them. We decided he’d take a week off to relax and then he’d be back to work in no time. He was too loyal to his company to just up and quit so this was a blessing.

That week or two off turned into 6 months. All those job offers vanished overnight. And as the weeks stretched on, it was hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. My job ended before he had a new one. And while I wasn’t making that much, it certainly helped. It was hard to stay hopeful. It was hard to stay calm.

We are very blessed that we have each other to lean on. We have family to turn to for help. We have friends who repeatedly asked what they could do to help. And we consistently reminded each other that God has a plan for our lives. We are following His path, and we know His plan is good.

As November rolled around, I thought about the last two Christmas seasons where I have used my words and together with some amazing people, both strangers and family, we have given hope to people who didn’t have anywhere else to go. Together we have been the shoulder to cry on, the sympathetic ear, the hope for the hopeless. And while I thought about it, I didn’t think I had it in me to be that hope for someone else this year.

I made a decision that I just couldn’t do it this year. Last year I was so emotionally involved with every person that asked for help, and I just didn’t think I had it in me this year. How was I going to help others when I wasn’t even sure how we were going to do it this year?

Sometimes I need to take my own advise and remember that God has a plan. My husband started his new job just before Thanksgiving. And, honestly, it feels like our own Christmas miracle. But even with that, I still decided I wasn’t going to host Hope for the Holidays this year. I just didn’t have it in me.

I told my husband I wasn’t going to do it and gave my reasons, and he thought I was making the right decision. He remembered last year me sitting at the computer crying every time a new need was written when there was no one to fill it. He remembered, when people trusted me to decide how to send out what they wanted to give, how I agonized over every dollar entrusted to me. He knew I laid awake at night wondering if I had made the right decisions, done the right thing.

And then I got an email from one of our moms from last year. I let the email sit for days. I didn’t know what to do with it. How could I tell her no? How could I just walk away from it? I told my husband about it and sometimes he just amazes me. He told me that it sounded like God wasn’t ready for me to walk away. He said that he thought God uses me to give hope to people feeling hopeless this time of year. And then I got emails from two more people asking about this year.

We got our Christmas miracle so we’re going to try to pass that along to others. This year has been really hard for a lot of people. The world at times has seemed so hopeless. There is so much sadness and darkness out there that it’s hard to remember there is also hope. There is light at the end of even the darkest tunnels.

So here we are today taking a giant leap of faith. This is our third year for Hope for the Holidays and I’m not really sure how it’s all going to work out. The first year people connected with each other directly. Those who were able to help contacted those who needed help. Last year those who were able to help contacted me and I connected with those in need. This year we’re just going to see what happens and where God leads us.

Here are the guidelines:

IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR HOPE-

  •  Please comment on this post. Tell us your story. Give us ages and genders for your kids. Let us know what kind of help you need. If you need groceries, what stores are close to you? If your kids need winter coats, what size do they wear? What is the best way for us to help you?
  • Be sure to leave your email address so we have someway to contact you directly. Leave your email address as yourname AT domain DOT com so spammers are less likely to find you.
  • You do not have to use your real name. If you want to remain anonymous in your request you can be.
  • Be patient. The needs come in faster than the help does. Last year it was a week between the first need and the first help.

IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO GIVE-

  • If there is a specific need you feel moved to fill, please reply to that comment and then contact that person directly. You can contact me if you need to or have additional questions for me, but connecting directly with the person you are wanting to help will be the easiest way to help.
  • If you don’t have a specific need you are wanting to fill but still want to help, you can contact me directly at 2crazylittleboys@gmail.com and I will get back to you. This is the way most of the giving was done last year, and I’m okay with doing it that way again.

 

So here we go. Maybe together we can spread some hope this holiday season. Let’s be a light in the darkness. Let’s share in the magic of Christmas.

A lesson in patience

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Recently I’ve been especially emotional. I’ve been stressed out. I’m tired. I’m still not completely better after being sick at the beginning of the week. And all of that makes me grouchy.

Do you know what else makes me grouchy? Having to go to the store with 3 kids (my 2 crazy little boys and their friend who I’m watching this summer) in tow when I’m not feeling 100% and it’s hot and humid outside. But we had to stop at Wal-Mart because they were some things I needed, girlie stuff, shoes to replace the ones I’ve worn out since I’ve been working, a couple of tank tops to replace the ones I have worn holes in, and some white t-shirts for my 3 to tie-dye this weekend.

We are walking through the store as fast as I can get these 3 monsters to move and they are bickering and dragging their feet. “We’re hungry!” “I’m tired!” “When can we go swimming?” If they’d just keep moving and shut their traps, we’d be done and then eat lunch.

Finally we are headed to the registers. I walk past the self scans that I love because I’m not doing that we these 3, not today. I walk past several check outs with very little waiting because I recognize the cashiers and I’m not doing that today either. We walk clear to the other end of the store because we are parked on that side. There is only one register open on that side. Of course it has a very long line, but I’m not walking back to the other side of the store. We will wait.

While we are waiting, I learned that the cart full of stuff in front of me did not belong to the lady in front of me. The lady in front of me moved the cart out of the line and we all stepped forward. Just as she was about to set her items up on the belt, the missing cart lady showed back up. She let the lady in front of me go ahead and she got back in line in front of me.

Let me tell you how annoyed I was with all this, but I am not one to say something. I just smiled and then rolled my eyes. Mystery cart lady started putting all her stuff on the belt and then disappeared again. I was about to lose my mind. Who does this? If you’re not ready to check out then don’t get in line.

She came back with several boxes of those water balloons that fill up all at once and tie themselves. The boys told me, as they do every time they see these water balloons, that they wanted them. Not today, guys.

Mystery cart lady then started talking. She told the 70-year-old cashier how lovely she looked with her hair done and her make up. She asked the kids if they’d been good. She commented on how much she loved my girl’s freckles and how when she was young she had prayed for freckles.

She told me about her husband, how she is 16 years older than him, how she tried to talk him out of waiting to marry her. She told how they met in church a long time ago. She talked to the kids and told them that sometimes, when you are good there are surprises. She whispered with the cashier.

She talked about being good and that she had made mistakes when she was young. She told that she had to spend some time in the “big house.” She told that she had learned from her mistakes. She told that she always wanted to have kids but was never able. She talked to the kids and then laughed and told them they shouldn’t talk to strangers. She told them if I guy ever asked them to help him look for a puppy they should scream and run.

It didn’t take long for me to go from annoyed to enjoying the situation. It was interesting to watch the whole scene unfold, and I wondered how the people in line behind me were viewing the situation. She finally got all of her items paid for and stepped just a couple of steps away. She stood there going over her receipt and continuing to talk to all of us.

My items all got rang up and then something extremely exciting happened. The cashier picked up a bag with 3 sets of the water balloons in it and handed it to my 3. She said it was from an anonymous person, but we all knew who it was from. And then the cashier handed another set of water balloons to the little girl who was in line behind us.

We all thanked the mystery cart lady. She said that she didn’t do anything, and then told the kids that they needed to be good and not throw the balloons at people’s faces and to be sure and pick up all the trash when they were done playing with them.

She walked with us over to the door to wait because she wanted to make sure none of us got stopped for the water balloons we didn’t have receipts for. She told me that there are good people left in the world and that was need to stick together. She told us to have a great day. She said, “God bless you.”

We all had a lesson in patience. It was a lesson in kindness. It was a random act of kindness unlike any my kids have experienced before. It was a reminder that there are good people in the world. To take the time to slow down and be kind. To let the person who left their cart and walked away back in line where they were. It cost us 15 minutes to wait in line longer and we all gained so much more.

I hope this experience stick with all 3 of mine for the rest of their lives. I know it will stick with me.

 

being a mom

 

There are times that as a mom I believe I’ve got this. More often than not, I feel like I am the worst mom ever. Especially as a homeschooling mom, more often than not I feel like a failure. You’re 3-year-old is reading chapter books, and my 9-year-old is still struggling with his letters. Obviously, I’m the worst mom ever. The internet says so. Let’s not take into consideration that my 9-year-old is hard of hearing and dyslexic and we work hard every day. Obviously, I’m ruining his life.

And those are the thoughts I have on a daily basis minus the last sentence. I feel like I am failing my boys every day of the week. And it doesn’t even matter that my hard of hearing, dyslexic on his own last week knew a lower case b over a d, p, or q. (And if you know anything about dyslexia, you know what a mile stone this was!) I never feel good enough, that I’m doing enough, that they know enough. I always fall short in my head. It doesn’t matter that my 7-year-old can properly pronounce dinosaur names that my grandma didn’t even knew existed until he told her.  I feel like I am failing them on a regular basis, all day every day.

And maybe that feeling of failure is because I want so much for them (because I want SO MUCH FOR THEM!). Maybe it’s because every time someone asks me (or the boys) what grade they are in or who their teacher is or where they go to school, I cringe waiting for the negative comment. For the record, no one has ever said one bad thing to me about homeschooling. Most of them are super supportive and don’t even understand how it works. I know its me. I know that its me expecting them to think it’s the dumbest, worst thing they’ve ever heard and they are all so supportive. I’ve had people I thought were going to be negative tell me they wished they would have homeschooled.

And in case all that wasn’t enough, about a month ago I went from a stay at home mom to a working mom. I love my job. I am bartending at a beach bar where my kids are more than welcome. My boys know everyone there by name and their favorite thing is that they get to go swimming in the pond every day this summer. The hours that I work are super family friendly and where I work prides itself on being a family center so we don’t have to worry about drunk idiots stumbling around or fights breaking out. These are our people who buy my boys ice cream while I’m behind the bar. I would not have this job if it caused damage to my marriage or my children. I love my afternoon old men.

And then we come to tonight. I have been working this job for almost 5 weeks and we all love it (me, the boys, and my husband.). I noticed yesterday Connor, my youngest, had a stuffy nose. He didn’t have a fever. He played like he was a rock star. I gave him medicine for his nose.

And then we did it all over again tonight, only tonight I worked until 9 instead of 5. And then we got home and my baby was coughing and choking and I fell apart. A year and a half ago, Connor and I spent 4 hours at the ER because he was struggling to breathe. He went home with a nebulizer and medication. We are still using both today. We used them both tonight.

And as my baby is sitting snuggled up to me with a breathing mask on and medicines pumping into his lungs because every breath is a struggle, I again thing of what a bad mom I must be. A good mom would have stayed home with him and kept him home today. It doesn’t matter that he was fine earlier and had an amazing time playing in the water today.

And then I think about my mom. She had asthma so bad as practically a baby that she has to get shots for it. My mom has a dent in her arm from all the shots she had to get to keep her breathing. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been told that what my mom had skips a generation so my brothers and I need to watch for it. And tonight as my baby struggled and had tears rolling down his face as we cuddled while he had his breathing treatment, I again felt like a terrible mother.

Should I have been watching closer for this? Is this my fault (genetically)? Was it better when I stayed home with you (even though you go with me every day to work)?

I have so much doubt. And then I think and remember all God is doing with us. I’ve talked before about His plan and how I could never understand it. And today is a prime example, because I feel like a failure and I know this is His plan. I need to trust more. TRUST MORE!

There are so many more things going on in our lives right now than I have even wrote about tonight. And it’s so funny to me that me and my husband are on the same God page. This is a path. It hurts. It’s hard. It’s right. Happy Father’s Day this Sunday. My Father in Heaven has a plan and there is a reason we are right here, right now. I’m all in on faith, God. We are all, all in on faith, God.

Please pray for me and my family. If you have something, anything, you want my family to be praying for please leave a comment and know we will pray for you.

A season of second guessing

This is the back of our tree as the ornament side is leaning against the wall because it will not stay standing any longer. It's been that kind of week.

       It’s been this kind of week.

 

With Christmas just days away, we have definitely reached that time where I start rethinking everything I’ve done. Have I done enough? Did we do too little? Did we do too much? Should I have done this? Should I have done that? What about…? And the list goes on and on.

It has been especially rough this year with Hope 2.0. It’s worked differently that it has in the past. Instead of people helping others directly, all but one of the helps has sent me a donation and then I have decided how to use it to do the most good. This wasn’t the original idea, but it has worked out. I’ve really enjoyed it, and when I look towards next year, I’m going to think about this format and how to best make it work.

I’ve read the stories people told and I’ve looked at what we have to give and have tried to figure out the best way to help the most people. I feel such a responsibility to be a good steward especially with the money others have given. What would they want me to do with it? What would they see as the most good? And let me tell you, it has been hard.

I made a plan and sent out emails to families. I learned kids’ names and what kind of toys they like. I learned what stores were close to people and how we could do the most good. I learned about families needing food. I heard about people being desperate for help, not qualifying for government assistance or just being too late for most charities. For example, to be a part of the Salvation Army’s Christmas assistance, you have to register in the beginning of October.

And maybe that’s what so great about what we have done here. These are the people who fell between the cracks. Maybe in October, it looked like they wouldn’t need any assistance for Christmas but by the time December rolls around everything has changed. I know how fast life can change. I’ve heard about illness and hospital stays and deaths in families. I sent a package to a family living at a hotel because they have nowhere else to go.

I made decisions that were hard but felt right. I sent the emails and made promises that had to be kept. I spent the money I was sent and felt really good because we had helped everyone that asked for help. We sent gifts and stockings filled with surprises to 7 little kids with the sender’s name as Santa. And then I got a notification that there were new comments on the blog.

Three new families needing help. Okay, I might be able to do a little more. And then over the weekend two more requests came in. A single dad, a grandma, families who had taken in nieces and nephews who needed a safe place to live. People asking for winter coats and food.

Let’s be real honest. Saturday night I sat and cried. I felt guilty for the people I hadn’t been able to help. I felt guilty that maybe I had done too much for the first group we helped. I felt guilty that I wasn’t able to do enough for anyone. And then my husband reminded me that I had done enough, that I can’t save everyone. I can’t help everyone. And it sucks but it’s true. And considering this is all done on faith with hope, I was feeling pretty low and hopeless Saturday night.

God works in mysterious and wondrous ways. Sometimes I can picture him looking at us, at me, shaking his head with a little smile the way a parent would and saying, “Oh, ye of little faith.” Sunday night I got a message on Facebook from someone who couldn’t have known how I was second guessing all my decisions. They told me they wanted to help. And their help is enough to do something for everyone who hasn’t received help yet. It’s enough to fill the gap that I couldn’t fill.

And while I still wish I could do more, I also know that God provides. The week between the first needs and the first helps was so hard for me. Everyday I had to say to myself that it was still early. That people would help. People would give. It would be okay. And people have given and it is going to be okay.

With 4 days until Christmas, I’m going to try to stop second guessing every decision I’ve made. I am going to slow down and relax and enjoy the time I have with my family. I’m going to be grateful for everyone who helped me make this Christmas a little easier for some families. I’m going to be thankful for what we have and what we have done. I’m going to stop wondering if I did enough. I’m going to be joyful when I get messages from people we have helped and stop worrying if it was enough when they tell me it was so much and how excited they are when packages arrive. I’m going to take great joy in the message from the mom who tells me how much her daughter is going to love what we sent and how excited she will be Christmas morning.

Stop second guessing yourself.

Thank you to everyone who has supported Hope 2.0 and me this year.

Merry Christmas!