Monday, July 29, 2013

Love and Loss: A Summer Forever Etched in My Memory

This morning my dad called to check in, asking if we were going to actually slow down for these last couple weeks of summer.  I laughed and told him that yes, we had very little planned for this week and next, and that that was probably a good thing.  It's been a whirlwind of a summer, and although that wasn't my plan in the beginning, I'm so glad things worked out the way they have.
 Very early yesterday morning I watched as this girl, one of my best friends in the world, drove away, her minivan loaded down with luggage, crafty gear, and her 3 darling (and very sleepy) little girls, headed back home after spending a week here with us. I'm grateful for the sacrifice (of time, car mileage, and money) she made to make this happen.  I love that our children love each other like brothers and sisters.  I love that we are making memories with them, memories that they will carry into adulthood.  I love that Amanda understands as I do that we have to make the most of the moments we are given....and as overused as YOLO has become, that we share that theme when it comes to how we do life, and the experiences we want our families to have.
 Yes, it's been a fun summer.  A summer full of travels and family and friends.  It hasn't been a restful summer, but after a weekend of reserved downtime where I actually did nothing, I realized that I don't do well with nothing.  I truly do thrive in the chaos. I'm happier when there's a plan....when we're busy.  At the same time, I know the importance of quiet time....of being still. Sometimes during the still moments God shows us things that are we need to do differently.  Sometimes then He calls us to do something new...something that may seem scary.  So I think I use the busyness to avoid that.  It's unwise, so I'm working on being ok with the quiet, and the realization that God also uses those times to just let us rest and reflect on the good.  I'm learning to treasure those moments and crave them as much as I do the crazy-full-scheduled times. To find the balance between the two.  I have a ways to go with all that....but we're getting there. (**case in point: right now I'm blogging, and my house is in desperate need of cleaning.  You can call it procrastinating, or you can call it getting some much-needed downtime. It doesn't take away the fact that my house is a wreck, but I'm realizing that sometimes some things have to take a backseat.  Sometimes it's more important to sit here snuggled with my littlest guy while he has some chill time too.  Pretty sure I'm not going to regret this:)

Late Saturday night I received a text from my sister that my favorite radio jock had passed away very unexpectantly.  I'm heartbroken.  That may seem silly because I never had the opportunity to know Kidd Kraddick personally, but it's not silly to me.
 This guy has made a mark on my life.  He was a forerunner in my "Be the Good" lifestyle, and one of the inspirations for why I do it. I've listened to him since I was 11 years old.  I literally grew up with him as a staple in my morning routine.  Kidd was the funniest person on the radio. He and the rest of his morning show crew played a part in naming Hunter. After Harrison's insistence that our 3rd have an "H" name like he and Hud, they were talking about what a "hot" name Hunter was, and I was sold.  Lol...we had already chosen it, but that was good confirmation, right? ;) When we moved here over 3 years ago, I was so thankful to be able to listen to his morning show online each day.  I found comfort in all of their funny catch phrases...."Boogaloo!" and "Love yours!" (when a caller would say "love your show!), "Have a good circus!" and the thing that was said at the end of every show: "Keep looking up, because that's where it all is." It gave me a feeling of normalcy when so many things didn't feel normal yet. Especially during those first several months when I was so incredibly homesick, he made me feel like we were still home. It truly helped me adjust to living here, and I will forever be thankful to him for that. 

Kidd was also one of the most generous people I've ever had the opportunity to learn from.  His Kidd's Kids charity (you can learn more and take part here) has sent thousands of disabled and terminally ill kids and their families on an all expenses paid trip to Disney World for a magical week free of hospitals and tests and scary stuff every year for the past 21 years. He made a difference in so many lives....he taught me the importance of doing all I can to help others.  To not avoid difficult face them head on.  To look at (instead of trying to avoid) people who are hurting, to smile and sincerely show that I care. To do what I can to help.  This is huge.
 Realizing today that he's brought another lesson to the surface, one I would rather not have to reminded of.  Life is short.  No one knows how much time we have.  This is the second reminder of this reality I've had this summer...two lives cut short. That in itself breaks my heart. We have to make the most of all of our moments.  To make our mark here.  It's why we are here.  When you stop to think about the scope of that responsibility, it's overwhelming.  Makes me want to shut down, crawl under my covers, and hide.  So I don't try to think too hard about it, instead trying to stay in tune with Jesus and trust Him to show me, one thing at a time.  Making myself be quiet, to listen for His make my walk with Him the priority. To take care of and love my family hard. To stand beside my husband and be a true partner in the ministry that God has called us to.  To make time for friends that need encouragement.  To push forward with this Save the Storks ministry that has quickly become near and dear to my heart.  To realize when I need to rest, to shut out the world for a bit, to give into my introvert-ness and not feel guilty about it. And to be on alert for when other opportunities arise that I can help with. If I can do this with the half the amount of humor and compassion that Kidd Kraddick did, then I think it has to be good, right?
 For these last couple weeks of summer we're going to make the most of our moments.  I'm not quite ready to have 7th, 4th, and 1st graders just yet.  We've got more pool time to have,
 more dreams to pursue,

 some football to play,
and yes, it's already time to hit the ball fields with this group of boys again.  Love this baseball family. :)

I encourage you to do the treasure the moments that make your family yours. Listen to what your heart says....find your thing and do what you can to help make it better.  Just as important? Let yourself mess up.  Don't feel like everything has to be just right. Be quiet. Be funny.  Live big.  Love bigger.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Freeing Up the Gypsy

It's been another gypsy summer for us. Suitcases left in our bedroom between trips, waiting to be filled up again. Or in other words, I just didn't feel like lugging them back and forth between there and our basement every time. ;)  It's been a happy, busy kind of summer, spending most of it in other places, away from home.  We've loved every minute of getting to travel, seeing places we've never seen before, with people we love very much.  Living away from our family and lifelong friends is hard, and I've learned how important quality time really is.  We don't kid around any more....taking advantage of opportunities to see each other, to travel together, to make quick weekend trips to celebrate milestones, watch baseball tournaments, to allow for an anniversary getaway....yes, quality time has taken on a whole new meaning for us now.

It's also been (another) summer of life lessons for me. Something I have fought, and am still fighting a little....but slowly learning the beauty that lies within feeling completely free on the inside. Worry and fear have been a lifelong struggle with me....I'm a helicopter mom, a worried wife, a nervous Nellie in the truest sense of the word.....and it's what I dislike the most about myself.
Earlier this month my mom and I took the boys to Florida.  It was H3's turn for the summer-after-kindergarten-trip-to-Legoland (a Mimi and Papa tradition). :) We spent a few heavenly days in a hotel on the beach (my version of heaven on earth). The timing didn't work out well with my Dad's work, so I ended up going with my mom to take the boys.  An unexpected vacation for me, and although I was bummed for my dad that he didn't get to go (they would have had so much fun all together), I was thankful for this extra time with my mom.  And although it rained on us during most of the week (which provided some of the best moments of the trip, oddly enough) we were blessed with a few hours of sun on the day we'd set aside to spend on the beach. In between building sand castles with the boys, and playing in the water with them, searching for shells, I had a few moments to relax in a cozy loungechair and reflect.
My favorite thing about the ocean is watching the tide come in. I'm amazed by how the water knows when to stop. I love how it washes everything away, smoothing out the sand....making everything new again. Ready for fresh footprints. More sandcastles to be built. Little treasures left behind for us to search for...each shell prettier than the last. 

So I sat and took in all of this, watched my boys happily playing, and felt the most relaxed and worry-free that I have in a very long time. And even when that was interrupted by a minor emergency (Hud got cut by some rocks),  even that was somewhat miraculous when a total stranger stepped up to help me while Mom ran to get band aids. God was smiling on us....reminding me that while He's controlling how far the water comes in, He's also giving us some gorgeous sunshine, while at the same time showing me that there are still good people in the world who are willing to drop everything to help when they see a need. 

He's the ultimate multi-tasker.  :)

And yet, even as I'm reminded of all of this, I still try so desperately to hold on to everything God's given control, to check and double-check that the people in my world are much so that I'm consumed with worst-case-scenario when I can't. At some point after becoming a mom, I convinced myself that responsible parenting = control-freak parenting. That if I wasn't worried that I obviously didn't care. 
There's got to be a happy medium here. Somehow it has to be possible to be caring and responsible without letting the worry of what could go wrong completely consume me. Anyone out there want to help a girl out?!?

And so my greatest fear is that my ridiculous worrying is going to ruin these boys that God, in all His wisdom, (I keep reminding myself of this) blessed B and me with. God picked me to be a boy mom. To raise these 3....these amazing, sweet, rambunctious, hilarious, creative, testosterone-fueled little men-in-the-making...into just that. Men. 

I really don't want to mess that up.

I've had opportunities to be pushed out of my comfort zone a few times this summer. Most of those times involved our oldest. 

He's been a world traveler this summer...going to London with B's mom, staying behind with baseball friends in Tennessee while B and I traveled back and forth to be there for his games, flying by himself to Texas and back for extra grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins time...yes, plenty of opportunities for me to come to grips with the fact that I can't always be there to hover and make sure he's ok. 

Was I good at it? Nope. 

But I got better. Or rather, I'm getting better. 

I found myself checking in less than normal (for me) but more like a normal person would ;) as this summer has gone on. More proof? Hud is finally going to play tackle football this season...something he's been asking to do for a couple years. I kept using the excuse that he needed to be older, but who am I kidding? I needed to trust. 
I'm still trying to figure out that balance of responsible parenting vs. relaxed parenting. I have a ways to go, and any advice/prayers/wisdom would be greatly appreciated and taken to heart. 

But if there's anything I have truly learned, or rather realized through all of this, it's that I learn more and am so much more in tune with God when I shut off all the background noise. 

After this weekend, I'm taking an indefinite break from the internets. ;) I miss the stillness of sitting with a good book. The pure happy on my boys' faces while we play a game or watch a movie together. And I'm never going to find any real fulfillment from how many "likes" I get on a Facebook post. I'm tired of letting my phone run my life, and we only have about 3 weeks of summer left. Gotta soak it up. 
                 (Mimi and Harrison:)

There's this 1000 piece Coca-Cola puzzle sitting unfinished on our kitchen table right now. At this rate we're never going to have a meal at that table again if we don't knock this thing out. And then we will have to glue it together to hang on the wall, because this thing is going to take a village to finish, and then we're going to celebrate big. A glorious reminder that we're not quitters. That we can do hard things. ;) Hopefully for me it will serve as a reminder of what I learned this summer. 
I have some quiet moments on the porch with my Jesus to catch up on, some friends to meet for coffee, some scrap booking to do, a couple books to finish, some phone conversations with loved ones to have, and some evenings of cozy talks with the hubs on the couch to enjoy. 

The suitcases are back in the basement. The memories are filed away in my mind and heart (and hopefully soon, in our family books too). Ready to make the most of these next weeks....letting my boys be boys, sitting back to watch God work....trusting He will show me in the quiet places just how to be the wife, mom, daughter, sister, and friend He wants me to be. The one they all need me to be. 

Freed up gypsy? Here I go.