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. ❤️

I’m still on training wheels..

My son was learning to ride his bike without training wheels this week. After five minutes he had it, and was so proud.

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Fast forward a day, and he insisted on going to a park to ride. I kept saying things to him like “buddy, just keep your eyes forward”. Every time his eyes veered he fell. He looked for me, watched others, and fell off his bike. Every time.He grew upset with each tumble, and tried to quit halfway through. I wouldn’t let him.

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“We’re going to do the whole loop bud, you got this, stop worrying so much and just ride”.

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Metaphor for life? Sure felt like it to me at the time. We spend so much time worried about falling, watching others do well, or just watch others watching us, that we only grow more insecure and frustrated with each of our falls. We just want to quit so no one sees us stumble. I’m 35, and evidently still on training wheels myself. Not wanting others to see my imperfections.

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Yesterday I stumbled when I was doing my daily workout. My health hasn’t been stellar with joint pain and feet going numb when I’m physically active. It’s an ongoing issue that has been getting worse with age. It disappears for months and then rears it’s ugly head.

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Usually I may quit, or hide it and not share it with anyone. I chose to share. Easy? Nope. Embarrassed? A little. Truth? We all fall, we all struggle.

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What if we all took off the training wheels? Practice, fall, get back up? What if we learn to let go of our insecurities and realize that we are human. These same difficulties, can bring us to know, love, and encourage others who also stumble.

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In sharing your struggles you are stronger. Find peace with your imperfections, humor in the moment, and encouragement within community.

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#ichoosejoy #momstrong #innerstrength #tryingtofindmypeace #hiddenillness #loveyourtribe #teacheronbreak #alwayslearningalwaysgrowing #youcandohardthings #mommaofboys

The stir….

I think it’s common for people to reflect on the year behind as a new one approaches, and it’s no different for me….

I went to a women’s retreat in April this past year through my church, which was scary for me. It involved talking to women. Ridiculous right? My history with significant female relationships in my life has been turbulent, so to say I was anxious about going was an understatement… but I went because there was a stir in my soul that told me to.

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As part of the retreat we had time to pray, to think of one word that would reflect what we are/need(ing)to learn to practice, or to acknowledge in ourselves and write down on a wooden disc to take home with us. As I closed my eyes the phrase “be obedient” kept popping up. Like an annoying mosquito, I kept trying to swat it away for a few minutes, but it kept coming back. I didn’t want to write that down. I knew in that moment it would be a year of learning, challenges, maybe setbacks… damn it. It wouldn’t go away. I wrote it down begrudgingly. Ironic right? Here we go- “be obedient Autumn, write it down….”

Within a month I was thrown a major challenge at work- and was expected to handle it. So, I did. I survived, but there were weeks of sleepless nights, no eating, sky high anxiety, paperwork, etc…and then other major changes happening within my job as the last day of school approached. Literally up until the last day. Nothing I had asked for, but had to been asked to be obedient to. Okay.

In June I had a break. I listened to that still small voice tell me to take the summer off (normally I continue teaching in my room, but I said no for the first time in 9 years). It was the best summer I’ve ever had- camping with my boys, no agenda, spending valuable time with some of the dearest friends I could ask for (I had best friends that were women)!

Add to that a year of being told by the spirit that I need to be more open, more authentic with others…. I started a wellness journey, and am so f’ing proud of that. I have never been in such a healthy place physically as I was January-September. Mentally while I’ve been challenged, I’ve been growing. I’ve read more books on growth and development that have literally changed me for the better. I’m being better for my husband, my kids, my friends, but most of all, myself. I’ve continued to make lasting friendships with other women, that turns out have very similar struggles- I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to know that, had I not stepped out and practiced that obedience. I started going on social media and sharing my struggles, my celebrations , and had others reach out to say “me too!” “I had no idea, thanks for putting into words what I couldn’t for myself”.

During one of my physical challenges in September (a 30-32 hour, 200’ish mile relay with friends/coworkers), I started experiencing a lot of pain… and it didn’t stop when Ragnar (the race) was over.

My workouts slowly came to a halt as the pain continued to be steady and hard. Mentally, it sucked. But again, I had to practice listening to my body. Even doing yoga or stretching gave me such pain that I end up curled in a ball. I lost 15 pounds of muscle I worked hard for, I started sleeping 12-14 hours, I couldn’t play hide and seek with my boys after 5 minutes, because the jogging to a hiding place became excruciating…it has taken away my day to day fun with my boys, and I refuse to be ok with that.

In the past month I have had 3 ER visits, ridiculous amounts of bloodwork, and a colonoscopy, all telling me everything is fine. But my body and mind tell me otherwise. Obedience. Continue to listen and be obedient to my body- don’t push it to pain, but don’t give up on finding an answer..

I have yet another appointment tomorrow…. so to be continued.

All to be said… obedience has been my word this year. Not by choice, but by reflecting, praying, and realizing sometimes the things we don’t want to hear, are the very things we need to.

So. Reflection time friends…. whether it be this past year or this coming year. What is your word? What is your phrase that will lead you to learn, to grow, or to challenge yourself to be better than yesterday?

Whatever it is, lean in. I guarantee the benefits out-way the challenges or hardships. I also guarantee you are not alone….

Spinach, Flapjacks, and Colored pencils

Yesterday was a long day. After a few weeks of pain, it was at its worst in the morning. Long story short, I spent most of the day away from my boys trying to get answers, and came home with nothing but a script to manage the pain.

This morning our clocks gave us an extra hour. Our boys did not. At 5:15 they were up and ready to go. Micah was going to take them in to grocery shop so I could rest. I didn’t want to spend more time away, and went with. 6:45 in the morning, we found ourselves at the store with a few other like minded parents. It was quiet, and fun to be together. We divided and conquered, and completed the trip with window shopping in the toy aisle.

We ate breakfast at one of our favorite mom and pop shops in town. We taught the boys the penny sliding game and kept them entertained, then inhaled our coffee and eggs.

We came home, unpacked, and kept the tv off. The boys have been in coloring moods lately. So while I zombied out to Instagram pages, my sons colored quietly next to me.

I realized in that moment that these days are few. They are growing before our very eyes. I put down my phone, grabbed some colored pencils, and colored.

We talked about the colors minions usually look like, and then made up our own style. We talked about sports, about sharing, and listened to the scratches of crayons and pencil covering our pages. Calvin tore them out and with tape, hung them on our living room wall with a puff of pride in his chest.

Maybe I could have rested with that extra hour today, rest did sound nice. Or…groceries, breakfast and coloring with my three favorite fellas… well, it was a no brainer.

Time is fleeting, enjoy the moments, Even the day to day routines can be some of the most beautiful.

Mom Guilt

calvinatoffice

I thought I was doing the right thing by telling my son ahead of time that he was going to the doctor for his check-up, and that, there may in fact be shots. I forgot, the son I was telling is one giant worry-wort.

I told him the day before. As he went to bed, he got emotional, saying, “Mama…I don’t wanna get pokes, can we do it another time?”. I explained that the pokes would be quick, and getting those are a lot better than getting the sickie bugs that could follow if we didn’t get them. A four year old can’t comprehend that..but I tried anyway.

I know it’s cliché, but I really do wish there was a manual out there for parents. It’s too bad every kid, every mom, and dad are so different. What works for one family doesn’t work for all.

Maybe I shouldn’t have told him..maybe I should have blindsided him. Truth be told, I have never liked that approach, so I went with what I thought was best. Which is all we can do as parents sometimes…

So he perseverated….he was quiet, he was teary eyed walking into the office. Mom guilt set in.

“Hey Buddy, once we are done with this, lets go pick out a new monster truck, ok?!”

sniffle. “ok mom”.

ugh.

Our Dr. came and went, and then the nurse came in. Cal looked at the needles, the band aids, and started crying. I held him close. Jab 1- instant screams, he tried to push the nurse man and his needle away. I had to hold his arms down…and then before he could see the second needle, I pulled his face into my shoulder to look away. Jab 2.

He wailed for about 10 minutes, we walked down the hallway. Empathetic nurses, receptionists, and patients walked by with a “good job buddy!”, “would a sucker help?”, “how about a sticker?!”. All sweet and kind people. Nothing helped. My heart (and leg) hurt for him.

He’s 4. This is only the beginning. Today was a couple jabs….in the years to come there will likely be a bully or two, heartbreaks, fights with friends, feeling inadequate, not good enough. As a mom I don’t want him to ever have those feelings, but I know that I can’t make them go away either….

So instead I hugged him. I held him close, told him how brave he was. I let him cry.

And got him the toy truck I had promised him.

After picking up the truck, we got in the car. Calvin said, “I hope I’m done with those pokes forever “. All I could say was, “Today, we are all done”.

Sorry, sweet boy. Life is going to throw other jabs at you. But I’ll be here….