Life's Sweet Journey: Family
Showing posts with label Family. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Family. Show all posts

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Ache of the Wait

I finally sat down to write this post, after I spent the better part of the day trying to avoid it. This space has become more than I had ever envisioned for it, but it often times puts my heart at war with my head. Sharing the mix of the hard, in with mixes of the joy can make me feel as if I don't know the voice of this space, but then I have come to realize that it's all just my voice and some days that voice is light and carefree and some days it can feel as if the weight of the world can leak out when I open my mouth. That's where it started today. Yet, as I wrote, I found myself with this sense of deja vu, so I looked back through last years posts and discovered that I had written nearly the same post I had just started. As I reread my own words, they spoke to my heart the things I needed and so I thought I would share them again, but add a little more this time. 

You see, I had approached Thanksgiving with a sense of anxiety I didn't realize I had until the holiday weekend ended and I finally found that I could breathe again, like taking a long breathe of air after trying to see how far you could swim underwater before surfacing. And then on the ride to work the other day, I found myself singing along to my Christmas CD, when tears I didn't even know I had coming found themselves streaking down my face. It had started with the words, "...Trust me and follow me and I will lead you Home." The next thing I know I am trying to get out the words to my Grownup Christmas List and my heart seems to understand every word in a different way and the song became more of a prayer than a song and "I'm all grown up now, but I still need help somehow" seemed to reverberate through my soul and out into the world. And I found myself wondering if it's not just those that have lost someone close, but really all of us who have fully entered the world of adulthood and taken off the blinders that leave us feeling this ache of Christmas. 

When I was writing today's post in my head, before I ever remembered last years post, I had been thinking about the ache of the wait leading up to Jesus' birthday. The post I found was actually written a few days after Christmas and this is what it said... 

The tree stands glowing in the center of the window, in the same place it has always stood, adorned with the same ornaments for over 20 years. It looks the same as it always has, yet it means something different this year. It holds on its limbs the sweetest of memories, but they are memories so very sweet that they leave an ache behind. An empty, dull, pit in your stomach ache, because they hold all that isn't there. It meant the same last year, but I may have been too blinded with grief that I didn't see them. Or they were too hard to put up. This year the sting wasn't so fresh. It didn't take just the feel of the breeze to make the world hurt. But the ache is still there, it will always be there. In the mention of a name and in the ornaments that hang amid light draped branches. They are the sweetest memories and they still can be. But it's the texts you get from your dad, who is putting the ornaments on the tree, saying it's a slow going process. He doesn't say why, but you know. So you go over and you help and though you don't hang but one ornament its just the fact that there is someone there to look and see. To look and see and not need to say anything, because you both know what the other is thinking. You both know that the ornaments mean so much, but feel so hard. 
The ache is still there on Christmas morning. It's there when you are making waffles and eating them. And it's there as tears fall down faces during a pre-breakfast prayer. It's there in between all the wrapping paper and bows. It's there when presents are presented. Beautiful paintings that so artistically brought sweet memories to life. Yet, the ache is there because on this side of heaven the closest we will get to life here on earth with my brother is the smile in the paintings and in the memories that fill our hearts. It's there when you smile at the joy of a three year old opening presents, hugging Elsa dolls close. It ebbs and flows and sometimes gets forgotten, but it comes back. And really that's ok. 

The ache can be handled, it can be tolerated. Though we hate that it has to be tolerated, we will tolerate it all the same. Because it's better than forgetting all together. For numbing it down so much that you crawl blindly through the holidays. That's about where I was last year, there isn't much that I remember. This year the picture is different. There was more color, more light. There was so much more life in this Christmas. I am glad for that. I am glad that on Christmas, on the time of year that we celebrate life, that we celebrate the greatest Birth there ever was, that I can ache. When a part of you is gone, some of you will always ache. I think it is similar to the way our hearts are hardwired to ache for Jesus. We think fondly of the sweetest gift, the gift that filled the whole world with hope. We ache for the fact that we are so far from sitting face-to-face with Jesus, but we are glad for the fact that someday we will. I am glad that the ache can remind me of all that was good. I am glad for the sweet memories of life that will make it just as hard to take down the tree as it was to put up. And I am glad for the fact that, while I ache here on earth, it is just a matter of time before I see my brother again and get to rejoice at seeing his face. I get to rejoice because the sweet memories will be there, but all the hard things will be long forgotten. 
My gosh, how those words just echoed in my heart again this year. But in a different way. This year, the anxiety felt different and now having made it through Thanksgiving, I have a better understanding of it. I know when it comes and I can greet it with a nod of my head. It still sits there, but there is more joy in those moments. The joy and sorrow aren't separate things anymore, but a mix of it all. Even in the midst of moments that, in the previous two years would have left me unable to speak, I am able to fondly talk about memories with a sense of joy and light in my voice. Time has given me that. And while time can not erase the hurt that lingers, I don't think it should. Our hearts should be hardwired to hurt for things that are wrong. Our hearts should ache and cry out and pray loudly words like, 

"No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
and wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end
This is my grown up christmas list" 

Our hearts should ache for the coming of Jesus, so that His birth gives way to the joy of what the gift of His Love really means; which is that someday all of those prayers will be answered. Some day the ache will lead to Him coming to us, taking us by the hand and saying. "Trust me and follow me, we are going Home."

Friday, November 27, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving Y'all! Hope you are enjoying this beautiful day with family and friends! 
    Thankful for...
A Husband who understands my quirks, takes care of me, puts up with me and helps me follow my dreams. 
    A tribe of people who I am absolutely crazy about! Find your tribe and love them hard! 
    New adventures and a new day each morning to find joy in the little moments. 
    Kiddos in my life who remind of the wonders in the world and help bring out my own inner kid!
    Family! Through the ups and downs, when they drive us crazy or go crazy with us, they are there!   
    Ultimate Love through Jesus and the Grace that means I get to be part of His story! 
    Life; it sure does have its moments... beautiful, broken, awesinpiring moments and 
I am so very THANKFUL for all of them. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

5 Happies for Friday!!

Happy Friday All! 
I hope everyone is getting geared up for a beautiful weekend ahead. 

It's been a busy week over here and I am excited for the weekend! Tomorrow I get to check an item off my bucket list and I can't wait... beekeeper for the day!! More to come later. 

Until then here's 5 more happies to hold me over! 

1.) Escape Artists!! 
We celebrated my brother-in-law's birthday on Wednesday with a trip to America's Escape Game. It was an amazing experience. If you live in the Orlando area I would highly recommend heading there soon and if you live elsewhere then I suggest you search for something similar near you. You have an hour to solve the puzzles and escape the room. From the second we got in there we were going a mile a minute. We choose to complete the Crisis at 1600 challenge and it was really neat to see how they came up with puzzle centered around the history of the White House. I must admit some of us went in a little confident, but they rooms are very hard. The one we did had a success rate of 14%, but there is another with an even lower success rate than that. We did finish, but it was down to the wire... only 4 seconds to spare. We literally tore the place apart trying to beat the room! Having accomplished it was a great feeling and now we are excited to get back and try to conquer the next! 

2.) Old Blue Chair! 
This chair has become such a place of solace for me. It is the place I can sit and be still. I am working on breaking the bad habits I talked about earlier in the week and have spent the last few days heading here as soon as my eyes open. It is cozy and comfy and warm. It waits without fail and I love it! The book sitting on the arm, The Bible Promise Book for Women, has also been a wonderful encouragement to me. It is perfect for the mornings, filled with different topics each one with verses related to it. They fill my heart and remind me of God's grace and promise. The perfect partnership to Jesus Calling. 

3.) New Netflix Love! 
So we got rid of cable! Which in this house, for this girl, is a really big deal! But with the amount of time we are actually home we barely have time to watch it, so it was time for it to go. And so, after finishing my FRIENDS from start to finish marathon, it was time to find a new show to watch on Netflix. I finally decided to give Once Upon a Time a try. And while I do think it is a little hokey, I am entranced. Each episode keeps me wanting more. You are constantly meeting new characters, learning new back stories and while usually I like to keep building the plot of ongoing characters they still do that enough for the mix of if to keep me constantly on my toes. 

4.) Pain Free Weekend! 
This weekend we rolled up our sleeves and got our hands dirty fixing up the house. As husband and wife our bucket lists are quite different; mine includes things like bee charming, adventure and driving through all 50 states, while his includes things like painting the house, staining the fence, and finishing his shed. So we compromised; two days (and a half) of housework, followed by two days of adventure over the long weekend. Well I know that typically (due to poor circulation and my own unwillingness to be active and stay well hydrated) days of being on my feet all day usually leads to shin splints and pain in my calves. I have recently become one of "those oily people" I always said were crazy. A friend use to try to convince me that essential oils could work wonders and I never thought it was true, that is until I actually gave them a try. And I love them!! I use them all the time. 
This little gem was such a God send. It is an oil blend from Young Living, called PanAway. I would put a drop on my shins and the back of each calf after our work day was over and diffused a few drops through the night. In the morning, no pain!! When my hamstrings (ok thighs, who am I kidding there is no muscle there) were tight and sore on Monday I put some on each one and felt fine within 15 minutes. Even Babe (ever the sceptic) had to admit that it was helpful when I rubbed it on his sore knee after a workout on Tuesday. If you have ever been curious about essential oils and want to know more about them I am happy to answer any questions you have. 

5.) Baby Bump Book Review
No, I am not pregnant, but 1.) I have many friends who are and 2.) it never hurts to plan ahead. So I got this book to review from Blogging for Books. The Bump Pregnancy Planner and Journal is exactly what it says it is. It is the ultimate pregnancy planner, for the ultimate planner. It is full of all the journal-ly bits for keeping up with memories, as well as pockets to hold mementos you have gotten along the way. But it is also full of everything you need to know throughout your pregnancy; what to expect in each trimester, a checklist of things to ask your doctor, how much and what you should be eating, etc.
To me, not the most organized of people, who never does well with keeping up with lists, it would be good to have around, but considering I will most likely forget about it every time I need it, it is best suited for those who really love and get giddy over planning and lists and all things organization. Overall I think it is a great planner with great information! 

However, since it is doubtful that I will use it due to my inability to be organized and a need for a much simpler set of note taking and journaling I figured it might be best served in the hands of someone who would use it. So it is up for grabs to one lucky winner.

Hoping everyone enjoys their weekend! 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Inanimate Objects

It's just an old copper frame, bent together in the shape of a porch. You look it at and you may think it's cute, you may think it's not your style or you may think nothing at all. I look at it and I see life. I see memories. I see an old kitchen wall, above an outdated sink. I see the years of life spent growing up in the kitchen of a condo by the sea. I see my Mimi.

It is just an object. An inanimate object meant to be a decoration to adorn some space in time. It's funny how to the right eye it means so much more than that. It means all of those years that I had with her, it means seeing her smile in my mind and hearing her voice as if she was right here next to me. It means seeing aged hands, wet with sudsy bubbles, from doing the dishes that I very seldom helped to dry because the dishwasher was for drying the dishes (you knew that right?). It means everything.

When someone is alive and we have them living and breathing right within our grasp? An object stays just an inanimate thing. When they are gone? Those objects hold a part of them. They hold the time we took for granted and they give us a brief moment of having them back with us. Even if only in our heads.

I never thought I would agree that Voldemort could get anything right... but there is truth in objects having power, in objects being able to hold life. They have the power to give us back moments, they have the power to hold memories. They have the power to make them alive within us. Yes, we can have those memories without them. But somehow the day-to-day life is blinding. An object, right in front of our faces? It draws our focus, it dusts off the cobwebs and pulls the memories out.

This old tin porch will always do that for me. It's the same as a cross. It pulls out Jesus. It helps me to pause, to remember. It holds the memory of sacrifice, the promise of love.

Sometimes these objects are the things you keep close, the things you hold on to; like a cross that a put on your mantle or an old copper porch that sits by your front door. And sometimes these objects are everyday things that catch you off guard. Things that get thrown away and discarded until another one stumbles across your path to remind you again.

For me those will always be:
Single serve coffee creamers- I don't use these often, so when I do it always stops me. I see coffee in a small tan mug from Morrison's or Piccadilly. I hear myself beg to pour the creamer in and stir it until it was blended. I hear myself say that I will never, NOT EVER, drink coffee. And I see my Mimi smile and nod, because she is in on the joke. You know the one; the one adults know, that meant she knew that someday I would be guzzling it by the case load.
E-cigarettes- I don't smoke, not my thing. But E-cigarettes are these rage these days. They will always be my brother. I will hear him trying to coax me into just taking one puff, because I just HAVE to try his new flavor mix. It's his breakfast special (coffee and cinnamon bun) and he says there's no way out as he shoves it in my mouth. I hear him laugh at the way I cough because I don't know how to inhale and so I end up swallowing it. I listen as he tries to coach me threw it, while he explains it's just vapor, as he makes it come out his nose. I see him standing proud behind a sales desk, because he was born to sell and found his niche. I see all of that every time some young kid passes by with vapor blowing behind him.

Carrot-raisin Salad- I see my own hands picking out all of the raisins, because who in the world eats nasty carrots as a kid? I hear Mimi "scold" me, telling me "not to take out ALL of her raisins".
Titanic on a VHS (you know, the one in it's two part box holder)- I saw it not long ago while rifling through old Disney movies at my parents. There it was, box inside of box. It sat lonely, without its accompanying second part video and I could see it all. I could see the endless amount of hours that John Wayne spent sprawled in front of the tv, just laying on his stomach and twirling his hair, watching Titanic (I think his record was pushing 50). I can picture the foot- my foot- the one I used when I got so mad at him one day that I kicked one of those tapes. It hit the railing and then slipped right through, traveling in a head first fall of doom, to crash on the first floor entry-way tile below. I can still hear the screams and feel the hands I flung over my head from ducking and covering from the wrath I knew was imminent. I can remember feeling bad that it broke, but I can also remember the smirk that crossed my face in my selfish moment of "serves you right" sister-ness. It's funny how you can feel bad about the desire you felt to get angry at someone and then wish in the same moment that you could get mad at them, that you could have one of those 'brother-and-sister-constantly-at-war' brawls again. Titanic will always do that to me.

A watermelon truck- I see my grandpa and how he would always have a piece of watermelon in hand whenever they were in season and how he would put salt on them and how my mom still does that. I can see the pictures in my head as I hear her tell me all the stories about how he would chase down the watermelon trucks when he saw them on the road and how he would make them pull over so that he got the first pick of the watermelons for the season.
A Glass of Sweet Tea- This ones tricky. It's not the object itself. It's the taste. It's the feeling of it going down my throat and when it hits just right, when it tastes just right that it's almost perfect (though will never make it to spot on, because it isn't hers), then I can see Aunt DeeDee. I can see my sister's sweet mom, standing in her kitchen, behind the island that jutted out from the side. I can see her hand me a to-go glass with this perfect combination of all things right in a glass of tea. I can feel the sweat from the cup and I can hear her voice and see her bright smile. I can still feel the way my arms could wrap completely around her, even when I was so young, because she was always the tiniest thing and always just the perfect height for a great hug. 

There are so many others I could put down, most that I couldn't even try to bring to mind right now if you asked me to. They won't come. Not until that object finds its way into my field of vision and jogs the hidden parts of my memories and it all comes flooding back again. The memories, the moments, the life... all in one glimpse of an inanimate object.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

My Savage Soul

So I guess I always knew that a part of my soul was a bit savage. It beats faster when I least want it to, it breaks without prompting, it will long for things that my mind knows are only going to break it further- but that is a different post for another day.

My soul is now a bit more savage, and always will be, because this weekend I took part in the Savage Race. It was set to be a 6.7 mile, 25-obstacle-filled race of impending doom. Except it was everything but that...
  Did it kick my fanny? Yes! 
Was a I sweaty? You bet!
Was I covered in mud? Oh, just from head to toe! 
Was I sad about any of it? Not in the least! 

I was enthralled!! I loved it! Minus the part where I almost threw up at breakfast and some cramps about a mile in, I lapped it up! It was no where near as bad as my nerves had let me believe. Not to be graphic, but I was literally on the egde of vomiting all through our carb loading breakfast. I thought, "If I can just throw up I will feel better." But I knew I needed my food! I was able to keep down every bit of my breakfast and then I continued on with my psyche my brain race prep by eating some beef jerky and a couple bits of banana during the 1.5 hr ride to the race. I pinned a few things, read that protein and bananas are good for a race, so of course I rolled with it. My race companions thought I was crazy, but considering they are also some of my life companions this wasn't anything new to them. I am weird and I embrace it- they've learned to also. But my protein and banana (and the avacado I added to my breakfast sandwich) must have helped me some (well that and mostly my prayer to up above as we pulled into the parking lot), because I felt like a Savage Queen!
Sna Squad (our team name; consisting of Babe, Oliver- said bro-in-law discussed here, Kerri- Oliver's girlfriend/my friend, and Queso/KC/Kevin- Andrew's youngest brother; also not to be forgotten was our honorary team member, Queso's girlfriend Morgan, who walked practically the entire race with us as the "professional" photographer and whose pictures I can NOT wait to see) took off at a Babe approved pace, which meant we were running. We made it almost all the way to the first obstacle and then the non-Babe approved pace set in, a nice leisurely "power" walk with intermittent spurts of running. This is the pace that consisted for the next 5.5 miles. Though we did get  a good burst of energy when we popped the electrolight chews that I had been saving in my sports bra for mile 3 (the same ones that everyone laughed at but then were wishing for more of after they helped immensely- and don't worry they were well wrapped in their original packaging I assure you) I would say we walked the good majority of the race.

I would like to say that I love running, but I don't! We are not friends!! Though I plan to partake in the wonders of obstacle races again, I can assure I will still not like to run. I have tried to learn to love it, it has just never hooked me. But alas, I will continue to try. My original thought statement, spoken to multiple people, before Saturday had been, "Yes! Come Saturday I never have to run EVER again!" Guess that's out the window now.

Did I train? Sure.
Was it consistent? Hardly! 
How far did my trianing go? Oh, I made it up to .9 miles running in one stretch (before I had to lay flat on the ground and let my body regroup for 10 minutes).
My main goal? Finish the monkey bars!! I was up to 39 monkey bars when I trained, the Sawtooth only has 32. 
Was I ready for the Sawtooth? Pshh, nope!!! You got me this time, but I am coming for you!!!
This was my last attempt, after going back when we looped around at the end of the race and were almost to the finish line. Officially Sawtooth was done for the day, but they let me give it another go. It still won.
Honestly, I am very proud of how I did (completed every other obstacle including the 40 foot Colossus and the tombs of claustrophobic nightmares, aka Colon Blow 5000). But I had wanted to beat those bars!! When Andrew and Oliver ran it by themselves last year, while I took photos, I only saw a handful of girls complete the Sawtooth. I wanted to be one of them. Unfortunatly this time that was not my moment. My goal for next year is at least to make it to the middle. I tried multiple times and almost got there, but our heat was so late in the day the bars had lost all their grip. It was wet hand on wet metal and it didn't go well. But I will be back!!

Lesson learned: 
Sometimes in life, you have to set a new goal. It doesn't mean the old one is impossible, it just means you have to work your way up to it. 
Overall, this was an amazingly empowering, bonding, fun experience! It is a great way to enjoy trying to stay fit and it helped me knock one thing off of my invisible bucket list- being able to complete a 'Real World/ Road Rules Challenge' like race. Babe has always (jokingly) told me I would never be able to do one and I was set on proving him wrong! And I proved it, not just to him or anyone else who might (ok, do) say I would be one of the first ones to "fall out", but I also proved it to myself. And that it a wonderful feeling!
Sidenote: My dear sweet husband and the man I love dearly is not necessairly built for large team races, at least when it come to the run vs. walk decision factor. He was probably a full "lap" ahead for a good portion of the race. We were all (save him) not really in shape for a full on run for almost 7 miles. We all knew this going into it. We all knew there would be lots of walking involved. However, his pure and loved soul was under the impression that if he ran ahead it would motivate the rest of us to do the same. But the trick was, if even one person was determined to be walking, then it just made sense for the rest of us not really wanting to run to slow back down. You see, either way, even if you ran to the next obstacle, we would still stop to wait on the rest of the team. So there was really no point in wearing oneself out and instead we just chatted, saved our energy for the next obstacle and embraced the mud- all while Babe enjoyed the solitude of his pounding feet, which he probably enjoyed anyways. That and helping us over hurtles- literally. Even when he chooses to forge his own way, he is still my hero!! See?
Lesson two learned: 
Sometimes in life, you have to hold on tight with both hands. So tight that your hands are bleeding and still you don't let go. You hold until someone can come along who can help, who can be that pull you need to keep yourself from going back down the hill you just fought tooth and nail to climb up. 

Because sometimes God gives you the strength to do it on your own and sometimes He knows that you are going to need a little extra help. So He extends the hand of someone that He has given you to walk through life with. 
With our cheer squad, Babe's mom and sister! 
Weekend Recap
Linking up for the Weekend Recap! with the Grapefruit Princess who had a race of her own this weekend... Think Pink! And go check her out! 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

TENnessee Thanks for Thursday

At the beginning of this year I started reading through One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. It's a book written about her story, God's story for her and her journey of documenting 1,000 gifts. These are meant to be any type of gift God has granted to show life; a sunrise, the soft sound of a babies coo, dirty dishes in the sink that mean a meal has been enjoyed, the life stuff. Well I started out well intentioned, but life kept getting in my way. Meaning, I had totally lost the point!
Even if I may have bypassed the reading a few mornings- or months- in a row, I shouldn't have needed to forgo 'the list'. The list is something that can grow without the writing down, if I only remember to be mindful of thanks. That way I could go through the list, and when able, I could sit and record those thankful things. While in Tennessee, I brought my book and renewed my vow to myself to finish my 1,000 gifts. And so, starting with gift #117 the list below is my...
Ten Gifts from Tennessee
1.) (aka #117)- Tennessee Beauty; God created such a magnificent world for us to take in. 
2.) Sunsets
3.) Cornhole dancing; its an art people, a frivolous, glorious art! 
4.) Lake days 
5.) Bobbing; there is nothing like it and the Tennesseans have perfected it!! 
6) Catching up
7.) Quiet mountain mornings
8.) Cards with cousins 
9.) Side-stitchin' laughter
10.) Rummy rules and "cheating; because according to Babe, if he is not winning somebody must be cheating... let's just say there was a lot of "cheating" going on. 
I love Tennessee. It is the place where my soul goes to find rest. And it surely found some. I left feeling renewed and recharged. Now, to only find a way to keep feeling that way. Alas, reality beckons! 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Wedding Weekend Peekin'

My brother got married this past weekend! It was a beautiful (early) sunrise wedding. It was simple and elegant and sweet. It was also Father's Day. A day to celebrate the fabulous fathers and father figures in our lives and to remember those who couldn't be with us. It made for a wonderful weekend. Here's just a little peek at the festivities. 
1.)  My baby brother is a married man! This is crazy to me. He was just this scrawny little kids the other day, right?!
 2.)  Oh my family! Bless them; myself included! But mostly, bless the sweet, docile girl kissing my brother. She may have some idea what she is has gotten herself into, but probably not all that is in-store. Welcome to the crazy clan Katie!!
  3.)  Oh, this picture and how we tried to get one with all smiling children! I guess this is more fitting anyways. It may be note worthy to know that we never got the smiling picture, but just one “make a crazy face” picture and we were set! It’s just how we roll.
4.)  My daddy! God love him! I couldn’t be more honored to be this man’s daughter. He inspires me, believes in me and taught me how to be loved. I am quite fond oh him! I am proud of his strength, his vulnerability and his drive. 
5.)  Beach weddings- I think they are great! Especially with children involved. The day went so smoothly. And while we are not typically an early morning family, we were all up and there and not in our pjs (I must say I was a tad worried) in time for a sunrise wedding.
I mean, really?! It doesn't get much better for a flower girl when you can attend the rehearsal wrapped up in a beach towel and get to draw on the windows with water and a mulch paintbrush during the reception! 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Carrying the Story

I do not know much about what it means to be on the road to recovery from substance abuse other than my own, often bitter, sad or jaded feelings on the subject. I have watched what it can do to someone, I have seen how it can push at families to the point of breaking and I have seen what it means when someone doesn't reach the end of that road on this side of Heaven. What I have come to realize though is that we are all, in some sense, on a recovery road of our own. We are all broken and we all fall and we all stumble. We all go down that road in some fashion; battered hand over battered foot, pulling ourselves up rocks that seem too immense to climb. And that is just speaking of my own everyday struggle. I have never known what it means to fight an uphill battle with the weight of substance abuse trying to pull me back down. I saw my brother take that road time and again. For many years it was mostly at the prompting of those who loved him. And in the end it was his own wish, his own drive that kept him clean for over a year. I know what that hope feels like, I know because I felt it myself. I have heard the words that a father uses when he shares his story and the pride he has in his son as he hands him his year medallion. I have watched that same father break just months after, break into a million pieces that will never fully heal on this earth, as he comes to the realization that the redemption story didn't end the way he hoped it would.  And I have watched, most often in awe and envy, at the way he chose to carry on. It did break him, the fact the story wouldn't be redeemed the way he had hoped, with his son here on Earth. But he also realized that it didn't mean the redemption ended, it didn't mean that the story was over. Sometimes the redemption story is given to the broken left behind. God entrusts those of us that know what its like and have seen what substance abuse can do, to reach out to those struggling and share the story of a life that can still go on. It goes on through the loved ones still here. It goes on through my brothers daughter and through my dad and through those who won't give up sharing his story and trying to reach people who need help.
They are just men; your common everyday dads, sons, friends, brothers and husbands. They wear no visible capes. But to me they are warriors, warriors on surf boards. Men who took a passion and are using it to share the story of a lost son, of a friend, so that hopefully another family won't have to know what it is like to continue on with just the story. So that hopefully the redemption can be seen through the beauty of a life lived out, clean and fully and free. My hope now is that this message and these videos will reach you where you need them most. 

Maybe like me you are a sister struggling to understand what it means to be the sibling of an addict. 
Maybe like my parents you are at war about the best way to help your child, to keep them and the rest of your family from going under. 
Or maybe you are the child, the spouse, the parent, the friend, the one struggling to figure out how to keep your own head above water. 
My hope is that you find a "board" or whatever it may be that drives you and that you let it take you as far away from drugs (in whatever form that may be) as it can. 
My hope is that if you need help you reach out; to those who love you, to those who want to help or even to someone who you know is simply willing to lend a listening ear.
It matters. Your life matters. The things you leave behind matter. Your story matters. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Patience and Pirates and Disney Virtues!!!

Disney! There is no other word that I really need to use to describe it than that. I love Disney... the magic, the wonder, everything. It is, in my mind, truly one of the happiest places on Earth! Which is why, when Babe got us annual passes for Christmas, I was one stoked lady!! We waited to start using them because the hubs was finishing his MBA and wanted to wait until he was just about done so that we would have every free weekend possible to enjoy it in all its splendor. I have grown up with passes due to work my father had done for Disney , however, we were always at the mercy of one of my parents being able to get us in. It was so nice being able to just get up and go when we had my niece the other day.  And so while at DisneyQuest, as we waited in line (a very short one at that), the idea came to me to document this year with all the wonderful and wise things Disney has to offer. Because I truly feel that while it is a place of play and imagination, Disney can also teach many a wonderful lesson.  And so begins my first installment of "A Year of Disney Living"!

Patience... it's a wonderful virtue.
Coming by it, is a little tougher, especially for children. So how exactly do we go about teaching it? Well, I say let Disney help! There we were, at DisneyQuest, about to get on Pirates of the Caribbean for the second time. The line was just a bit longer than the first time we got on, but as lines go it was nothing to scoff at (maybe 10 minutes tops). I was holding Makaylin when she asked, "why are we standing here? Where is Pirates?" So I responded that we had to wait, which of course was answered with a why. I do not know how it came to me in the split second, my normal reaction would probably have been to say "well Disney like make us wait on things", instead (and it shocked me too) I answered "Well baby, Disney likes to teach us about patience. We have to have patience. Do you know what patience means?" "Waiting in line?!" "Well, yes waiting in line and waiting for other things in life, without getting upset. It means waiting nicely" "Oh ok, patience. Waiting for pirates!" And there is was, patience and pirates and a lesson... just standing there in Disney line.  Yup, sometimes patience is all about waiting for those pirates.
Disclaimer: Be careful on the backlash! As we were putting Makaylin to sleep the next evening, after allowing her extra time to watch her Goofy movie with Uncle Andrew and then two more minutes to clown around, I was delivered with this response upon telling her it was time to kiss Uncle Andrew goodnight, go sing songs and say prayers... "Aunt Mel, you have to have paaatience!! I said patience Aunt Mel!!" Welp, there it was.  She remembered, she had the gist, but somehow our translation got just a little lost. Next lesson: listening ears and whose in charge (this one is forever ongoing)! 
***DisneyQuest thoughts for toddlers*** 
Originally I was a little skeptical about bringing her to DisneyQuest. Mainly because she was asking for the "castle Disney". However, it was a busy weekend and we didn't want to fight lines. We told her we were talking her to a new Disney. She LOVED it!!! It had been years since I had been to DisneyQuest and all I really remember was the roller coaster simulator. While there was a fair bit she couldn't do the stuff she could do could have kept her entertained all day long. She could ride the river raft ride and pull the handle on the canons in Pirates of the Caribbean.  I was worried I would have to hold her steady, but she did just fine and I was able to play myself, while Babe steered the boat. She also soaked up every minute we would let her in the kiddie arcade game section. She found a kiddie coaster that just vibrated and moved left to right while you watched on the screen and we literally had to pry her off of it!
It was also very under crowded.  Our longest line was maybe 10 minutes. 
Overall, we loved it, she loved and we would totally take her there again!! She even remarked on our elevator ride between floors "This is the the so fun Disney!!" 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

You Make Me Who I Am

Jenni's first prompt for Blogtember was Describe where or what you come from. The people, the places, and/or the factors that make up who you are.

And for me, it just so happened that, I already had something in the works. One of those posts I had started and never finished. I figured today was the best moment try to give it a shot... The people in my life have shaped and molded me, this most recent time in my life is shaping me even more. I come from a family that loves and loves hard. But I also come from a family that is its own concoction of dysfunction. Which all families seem to be in some way or another. This is all a part of mine. 

I am and I am not...
I am the sister of an addict, but I am not.
I am not the sister of an addict because there is no addiction in heaven.
I will always be the sister of an addict because that is what I was taught to be.
I am the sister of a boy; a boy whose struggle was often greater than his resolve.
I am the sister of a boy; a boy whose light shone so brightly that his story will continue on.
I am the sister of a man; a man who learned what it meant to work for something he was proud of.
I am the sister of a man; a man who gave the best he could in order to love his little girl.
I am the sister of a girl; a girl who was not born into but brought into our family, yet loved the same.
I am the sister of a girl; a girl who should not have had to go through the life she has led.
I am the sister of a girl; a girl who too quickly had to learn what it meant to be a woman.
I am the sister of a woman; a woman who stands strong and holds her world in her heart.
I am the sister of a woman; a woman who is working hard to be everything her daughter needs.
I am the sister of a boy; a boy who struggled to find his own way and his own place to shine in the wake of his older brothers choices. 
I am the sister of a man; a man who found that place and who is standing stronger than I had ever imagined humanly possible. 
I am the sister of a man; a man who is working hard to step up to the plate and who has forged ahead despite life's struggles. 
I am the sister of a girl; the sister of a girl who knows all too well what loss looks like. 
I am the sister of a woman; the sister of a woman who stands strong and carries on for herself and for those she loves.
I am the daughter; the daughter of parents who had to lose a child before any parent ever should. 
I am the daughter; the daughter of two people who are working on themselves just as their children are and that is a beautiful thing.  
I am the sister to brothers who have gone to war; one who chose to serve our country and one who fought a war within himself long before any of us ever knew. 
I am me. I am a people pleaser, some days it can be my greatest attribute and some days it is my Achilles heel. 
I am me. I am a product of the life I have led, of the people I have loved, of the people I have lost and of the future I am working hard to keep on track. 
I am a wife; a wife who is trying to be the person she needs for the man who has never once faltered, to the man who has put his own wishes aside to stand by her. And I will be better.
I am a friend; a friend to some of the best people any lifetime could ever ask for. A friend to people who have shown up, help me up, and kept me going. 
Everywhere I have been, everyone I have met, every factor of every part of my past has brought me to this place and helped shape who I am and it is those factors that will lead me on from here, one day at a time. 

Everything above is part of me. There may be parts that are harder for me to look at but they all make me who I am. I am learning to accept that. I am learning to accept that the dark parts just make the brighter parts shine that much more. Yet, it is all just a part, because to sum up everything that us brought us to where we are would take us until the end of our days. 

And on that note, I am going to end with this prompt, just because my brain feels like ending things a little more sunshiney. If you could take three months off from your current life and do anything in the world, what would you do? 
This one was pretty easy too, because just the other day I sent Babe a text that said... "Let's just be like Minnie and Mickey, move into Disney and forget the outside world." Typically he would respond with some, "you are crazy" type thing and I would be left to roll my eyes. But this time he responded with "I wish." So, I decided that was making progress and maybe I could make it happen someday. Anyways... I would totally do that. I would move into Disney for a month. Right into the castle. Live there and frolic in all of the "forget the world" Disney glory. Then, I would rent an RV and road trip the USA for the next two.  I know it isn't some big, grand, fantastical sounding plan. But it's mine and it's simple and right now simple is right where I would like to be.