Reach.

Tired. Seeking comfort from his dad after a long day. Holding his dads hand (which is a rarity).
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Miles didn’t fall, he didn’t get in trouble, and lose his scooter. He was just tired and wanted to know he was ok. He wanted to be close to his dad. Micah said, “ It’s ok, I’ll walk with you”.
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This moment (captured last week) feels like me, this week. I’ve been trying to listen, to learn, to pray, to love, to encourage. But today, I am just, so, very tired.
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The world seems to be carrying such heavy loads of grief, pain, anger, and injustice. It doesn’t feel like things are getting better.
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I can’t watch the news, I’ve had to limit my social media, because the weight of it all can, and has made me physically sick.
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I struggle with understanding what is so hard about love? About compassion? About generosity? About selflessness?
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I am tired, but I have hope. I see Miles and Micah in this snapshot of everyday life, and am reminded, we are all children.

I (and you) have a dad who is waiting to hold hands. Ready to say, “It’s ok, I’ll walk with you”.

We have to be willing to admit, we can’t carry these burdens on our own. Maybe your burden is your relationships, your job, the uncertainty of the future, maybe, like me, you’re trying to understand this very messed up world we live in, and what you can do about it.

We can continue to learn, to love, and to encourage, while holding hands and remembering we are not now (or ever), alone in our struggles or burdens.

We just have to be willing to reach.

“Come to me, all who are weary, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

The Hill and the Choice

Today, Calvin, Miles and I went for a walk. I walked our oldest pup Eddie (13), while both boys rode their bikes. Miles chose the way to go today, which isn’t our “typical” route. This stressed Calvin out. His type A personality, tried to coerce Miles into going the route we usually take. After some pouting, a little stomping of the feet, he submitted, and we went in the direction Miles chose.

The thing about our typical route, is that there are minimal hills. No real work involved, you just ride/walk, and thats it.  You see and hear when cars (or tractors in our case) are coming by. But today, as with almost everyday with my Miles, he wanted a challenge. The path Miles chose today had hills. 4 total.

As they coasted down the first hill, Miles laughed, balancing on his balance bike, feet lifted. Calvin coasted cautiously, often checking to see how far behind I was, or if the car he heard in the distance, was behind him.  He would jump in the gravel after 5-10 feet and stop, only to look back, see everything was ok, and get back to coasting.

Once we reached the bottom of the hill, we had to climb the next one. Miles, with no words, started pushing his bike up hill, one step at a time. No words, just focus. 

Calvin, frustrated, said, “ Mom, I can’t. I can’t get up this hill. It’s too hard”.

“Calvin, you have a choice in how you get up the hill”, I said. “You can choose to walk your bike, or  you can choose to get on your bike and push those pedals as hard as you can. This isn’t where we turn around and give up.  Either way, we are still going up the hill, and you still need to move. So… you choose.” Eddie and I kept walking, as he sat back and contemplated.

Reluctantly, and again, with some hesitancy, Calvin got off his bike, pushing (with heavy breath and grunts loud enough for neighbors to hear (insert the momma eye roll)). We got to the middle of the hill, and he stopped, took a deep breath, and jumped on his bike. With a few more grunts and groans, he got up the hill, and smiled. The next hill, didn’t seem so bad, so he stayed the course, on his bike, and pushed just fine.

I had to pause in the moment and reflect. How often, as ADULTS, are we exactly the same way? We like things our way, where we can see whats coming, hear whats happening, and just have a straight shot. If uncertainty, change, or challenge comes our way, how often do we have a temper tantrum?

If I’m honest, I’ve had more internal temper tantrums in the past 8 months than I’ve had (in what feels like in) years. Changes, hills, grief, a pandemic, remote teaching, homeschooling, isolation from others…

UGHH. ENOUGH ALREADY $%*#!. Sound familiar?

But then as I sit and reflect on the moments with Calvin and Miles I realize.

We have the choice.

We have the choice in how we respond to those changes in routine, changes in our job, changes in our relationships, changes from within. 

Change, hills, challenges…whatever you are facing now, or will face in the future, WILL happen.

What will you choose to do about it? How will you choose to push through? What ways will you change your thinking in order to get through the difficult?

My hope for myself and both of my sons, is that they will see adversity. They will continue to pursue their ultimate goal, with heads held high through the uncertainty. That they (and I) will embrace the hard, with arms open, and a choice to see past the challenge, with the finish line in sight. They will put their feet on the ground, and move.

What was great about watching Calvin in that 30 minute walk, was the transformation that took place after that first hill. He made his choice to walk, then to jump on, and when he made it, he looked back and smiled. The next hill, he stayed the course on his bike. By the time we had turned around and gone back up the hills he had coasted down before, he didn’t say a word, and didn’t hesitate to stay on his bike. We all  got back to the house unscathed and laughing (and maybe sweating a bit) under the warm glow of the sun.

Sometimes we have to “embrace the suck”. Because what waits on the other side, is worth so much more than the momentary troubles. It may not get easier, but you get stronger.

Make a choice in how you will respond, and then..

Get moving.

Be well my friends ❤️

Joy in Quarantine

Laughter flooded the rooms of my house today. Catching pretend tigers and putting them in their cage (ie: throwing my boys on the couch), playing hide and seek, screams and giggles after each successful scare. Taking adventure walks to discover new things on our property, holding hands helping one another up a steep hill. Sitting in the glow of the morning sun, watching over my email as both kiddos quietly examine their school activities.

It’s been over a month since we’ve been in quarantine. Calvin, Miles, and I have had to learn “how to school” together. All three of us with different styles. Calvin, the structure, clear cut, “has to be perfect” kind of kiddo. Miles, the “stick crayons in your mouth like a walrus, draw as far outside of the lines as you can” kid. Then there’s me, somewhere in the middle. Let’s follow directions, but making it “your own” is acceptable, within reason. We’ve each had multiple days of frustration with one another; not listening, refusing to admit we were wrong (pride can run deep in each of us can’t it..?), “I’ll do it my way” mentalities. Sometimes tears, growls, or heads banging on the table. All three of us have taken turns. No joke.

This week we seemed to take a turn collectively. Each of us bringing our style and perspectives to the table, working together. I am so thankful to have the guidance I do from Calvin’s teachers. Their daily presence online and support have been so appreciated.

I know not everyday will be like this. Tomorrow all hell could break loose. At some point, it will, because, well, life happens…

We are quarantined. We aren’t going to be our best selves everyday, as we are all under stress, going through a situation unlike any other. We miss our friends, our outside of home life (our daily commute, work, occasional hide outs in the aisles of our favorite stores). Just to get a breather. However, today was a good and beautiful day with my boys, and I won’t take it for granted. Because in this time I’m realizing there is no prediction of what will happen and when, we have to roll with what we’re given, finding the joy in midst of uncertainty.

Sundays

My dad was a construction worker for over 35 years. This little radio, was his when he would go on job sites or side jobs. Today, it kept me company while I painted closets. It’s dusty, broken antenna, faint smell of chewing tobacco, and cigarette smoke makes me miss him.

That pain in the ass was a smoker most of his life, and chewed too. Awful habits, that Cody and I spent decades trying to eradicate.

Today I really struggled. As I painted, listening to the radio, I thought about Dad, his visit the night before his stroke. Miles gave him this big hug and I had thought to myself in that moment “keep that mental image forever”. Dads smile and laugh as Miles lept from one end of the couch into his arms, caught us both off guard. Miles isn’t a hugger, but he was that day.

Micah walked in as I was thinking about it, and tears just began to well up. Without a word, fella just nodded and smiled, not asking any questions. He knows my heart, especially on Sundays. Those were our visit days.

I finished painting a wall and decided I needed a break. We live out in the country and since we don’t have a paved drive, the boys and I took our sidewalk chalk to the road. As the boys and I colored pictures, I began to color in a rainbow. As I did, I stumbled across this imprint, in the perfect shape of a heart, on our road. I traced around it, confused that it could really be there…Right in front of my house. I colored it in and took a step back. A perfectly shaped heart. I had never noticed before in all the walks I’ve taken on my road….

I instantly heard this stirring in me:

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” Isaiah 41:10

This heart, this radio. Our dad(s) are always with us. I was reminded today of my earthly dad, and my Heavenly Father. Their presence felt, even though not seen. Sorrow and joy all at the same time. Never alone, I have two dads watching out for me.

My storm isn’t over yet, but I’m thankful to know there is a rainbow on the other side, and through it, is a beautiful heart that isn’t going anywhere. My god is Always with me.

My guy.

My handsome Crumb.
Love him to pieces, even in drywall dust.

Let me tell you a little bit about this guy.

He is very particular about the positioning of seats in his vehicles. He is obsessed with a clean windshield. He loses and misplaces at least one thing everyday.. typically his phone, wallet, or keys. He is not a morning person. He needs a good 30 minutes to an hour to wake up.

People who don’t know him, think he’s an angry person, but as he would say “it’s just my face”. He is daily the hands and feet of Jesus, with humility and compassion that never fades.

He does laundry, washes dishes, offers to make dinner, gets down on the ground almost every night to wrestle the boys or play nerf wars. Micah involves the boys in everything, teaching them with patience, a whole lot of love, and that gentle smile.

He’s been remodeling our house. A man that can learn and apply just about anything he wants, leaving me inspired and jealous (and annoyed) at the same time.

He’s not once complained about any of the above.

He has checked on me everyday. Asking how I’m doing, holding my hand through the waves of emotions that come crashing without warning. Making me coffee, listening to my cyclical conversations without judgement, only grace and love.

He’s been my rock. In the weeks where I have felt washed away by the sadness and pain of loss, he has anchored me in peace.

I never thought I would have the marriage that I do. Having seen unhealthy relationships and marriages growing up, I wasn’t sure what I had signed up for when Micah and I got married.

Out marriage has been unlike any relationship or marriage I knew. I couldn’t be more grateful. It’s filled with mutual respect, admiration, kindness, sacrifice. It’s beautiful, joyful, challenging and faith filled.

I am doing life with my best friend, and even as difficult as life can be sometimes, when I’ve got this guy by my side, I know I’ll get through just fine.

I’m the lucky one.

Dad.

I hold his weakening hand. It’s day 18 since the stroke, day 10 since life support was turned off.

Dads breathing stops occasionally. He opens his eyes and moves his head, but cannot see, and cannot speak.

I get hand squeezes sometimes, when I’m reading to him, or just sitting silently with him. He’s there, I know he is, even when doctors tell me otherwise.

These 18 days have felt like months. My eyes and heart are heavy. My first best friend will be with Jesus soon.

The man that built snow-forts with me.

The man that got more into school projects than we did (if only I could find a picture of the volcano I watched him build for my third grade project… we weren’t fooling anyone).

The man that worked tirelessly to provide.

The man that encouraged me my hard work would pay off.

The man that walked me down the aisle.

The man that never tired of telling me how proud he was of Cody and I.

The man that loved on my boys.

The man that came over every other Sunday to have a cup of coffee and catch up.

The man that sat with me at church and renewed his faith.

The man that began playing pool and became part of a community (a hope Cody and I always had for him).

He has not been perfect. He would be the first to admit it, but he loved. He would give the shirt off his back, say “yes ma’am, no ma’am, thank you sir”. He had a goofy sense of humor- one that my brother and I have become proud of inheriting. He never liked or wanted for anything. He was talented, kind, funny and proud.

I’ve been praying for a miracle… to come up to his room and find him sitting up, drinking coffee, and telling his dad jokes.

Only problem is that the miracle I’m praying for, may not be the miracle God will provide.

Gods miracle may be taking my dad. Mentally, physically and emotionally, this life has not been easy for him. You would never hear dad complain of it though.

I am choosing to trust god in this. As hard as it is, and as much as I want to have my way, my control, my say… I can’t.

God has taught me over and over that his ways have always been for the better…

2 days before I planned on committing suicide in college, God intervened.

In the days I never thought I’d marry, I found my fella.

In the six years I prayed and cried over wanting children, god gave Calvin and Miles to us, in his time, not ours.

I want so badly for dad to be with us, but this is a time when I can only trust gods provision.

Calvin and Miles have been so loving, so kind, so nurturing to me through this. In the midst of wiping tears from my eyes, they remind me that “grandpa with the mustache” will be in JesusLand soon.

Anyone else picture a rollercoaster theme park when you hear JesusLand? Just me?

I love it, picturing Dad sitting side by side with Jesus, his nephew Luke, his sister Cindy, grandma and grandpa Cejda. All with big smiles and hands in the air.

Whether heaven is a theme park with rollercoasters or not, I know without doubt that my dad will have freedom, joy, and peace. No more suffering.

So I hold his hand while I can. I tell him every hour I love him. I say every thing I’ve been grateful for in him. I share texts and phone calls of people praying all over the country for him. I sit here journaling and realizing how thankful I am for this time with him, before he passes. Some people don’t get that opportunity. You can look at it as a blessing or a curse, I will always choose blessing.

My brother and I are grateful to god for the 34 and 36 years we have had this man as our earthly dad. We choose to give thanks, we choose to trust.

We choose Gods ultimate healing in our dad, and have joy for dads front row seat in JesusLand.

Late night tears.

I had no idea it’d be this hard. I didn’t know the emotions that would come with it.

Here I am sitting on the couch, just after tucking the boys to bed, with tears rolling down my eyes.

Tears of gratitude that I get to be their mom.

Tears of sadness that time seems to be slipping away. Calvin’s starting kindergarten. When did he get old enough for that?

Tears that Miles is speaking full sentences, his voice changing. He’s not so little anymore.

Just as I’m trying to talk myself out of crying, Miles jumps out of his bed and comes running over asking for a hug (we are still sharing a living and bedroom space in the basement, while the upstairs gets renovated).

“Sure buddy”.

He squeezes my neck and rubs his chubby cheeks against mine, with a whisper in my ear.

“Momma, you’re the best hugger ever”.

Damn it. Release the floodgates.

“Thanks buddy, but I think you’re the best hugger ever”.

Then Calvin gets out of bed, comes over and says “Love you Mom, can I have one more hug too?”

I am sure they are just killing time so bedtime gets pushed a later, but I’d rather think that they knew mommas heart needed it.

I know there are so many things to be excited about, as they grow, I’ve witnessed so many already. I truly am excited for what’s to come for them both.

Yet, it’s hard to say goodbye to these tender young moments. It’s hard to realize just how quick they grow. When you’re with them, deep in the trenches day in and day out, you don’t notice. Then one day passes, and your kid isn’t fitting in his clothes anymore and looks (and acts) years older after a haircut.

People say from the beginning “It goes quick”. I had no idea. The days felt long, nights even longer when they were babies. I would be excited for their next milestones. Now I just want to hit pause.

But life doesn’t work that way.

So I cry a little, I get hugs from my favorite little men, and I sit in all the feelings. I soak them in, and I smile with the realization that it’s only the beginning.

Guess I should stock up on the Kleenex. ❤️