I've been devastated over the tornado destruction and loss. I know so many of you were affected, or know others who have been. There are obviously so many things we can do to help like pray and give financially. I did want to share an opportunity from The Rusted Chain. They are giving a portion of the proceeds from this bracelet to help tornado victims. My own shop is a bit depleted in stock right now, but I will be following Beki's example and donating $1 for every $10 you spend in my Etsy shop from now until June 1st to Convoy of Hope as well. Love that.
Adrain's sweet grandmother is fighting hard to beat cancer. She is not only a precious lady, she is especially precious to my man. He lived with her while in college, and they developed a close relationship. Over the past weekend, lots of family arrived from all over the country to love on her, celebrate her life, and spend time with her. Several of us stayed in a nearby hotel, tents littered the backside of the rented house, and I got to meet some amazing extended family that I'd never met before. I always wanted to be in a big family, and for the weekend... I was. It was awesome.
I laughed and laughed at some of the stories being told, got teary over some of the heartfelt conversations with the precious older crowd, and I nodded my head and heart during one of the sweetest prayers I've ever heard from Adrain's great uncle. Standing there gathered with thirty+ family members while we prayed for Adrain's grandmother affected me deeply. I held hands with one of the grandmothers as we talked about her heart of service after she lost her husband to cancer ten years ago. She encouraged me that there is always enough left in us to give when we rely on the true source of strength. God.
I watched Joe revel in the company of three uncles alternately willing to play catch, talk with him about his interests, encourage him, take the time to get to know him better, and simple things like help him with his fishing line. I grinned as a grandmother who couldn't resist those green eyes of his agreed to take him down to the dock fishing one more time. I loved seeing Ava challenge herself with swimming fearlessly. I loved that she finally got to ride a horse for the first time during family free time. (More on that in a minute.) I felt so proud of her as family members whispered in my ear what a sweetheart they thought she was and how polite my kiddos were being. (And honestly, you really never know sometimes. Cause it can always go the other way. Ha!)
|(one of my adorable nieces)|
We had the ability to let go and be flexible without repercussions afterward. For those of you with kids who are a bit of an um... challenge, I know you will understand this "first." When our kids were small, changing routines was awful for our boy so we never went anywhere. It wasn't worth it at all. At the time we didn't know much about what he needed and why what he needed was so different than what other toddlers and children around us needed. We just knew how hard it felt, and how hard it was to explain it to anyone with out getting judged for not disciplining differently or "better." This was our first getaway without any major meltdowns. I'll keep that general because that one sentence could write dozens of posts and I know there are enough of you out there that relate to that.
|(uncles getting ready to fish)|
slow and steady series of moments of letting go. We have hit a turning point in a lot of areas and of course my kids are far from perfect and we have plenty of "moments" as all families do. However, this was the first time I was able to hand them each a printed packing list and not hover or double check it. It was the first time we could sit poolside while they played for hours until they had pruney fingers. We later pointed them to the showers and didn't have to supervise. We were able to go see a movie that we all enjoyed. We were spontaneous all weekend long, and nobody lost it. (This is the biggest obstacle for the issues we tend to deal with and felt like the biggest victory our family has ever had.) We were in a car for five hours, both coming and going, and we actually listened to music everyone enjoyed. (I do realize the window on that one might be short.) While driving, we had some great family conversations. I'm still basking in the fact that this trip wasn't like any trip we have ever taken before. We had amazing people praying for us and I can't thank you guys enough.
Not only that, we had a delightful and unexpected answer to prayer. Financially, we knew this weekend was going to hit us. We were prepared to put everything on the credit card (and not tell Dave Ramsey.) (grin) We didn't see any other way around it. Our paycheck pattern is such that about twice a year, we get slightly ahead of the bill paying schedule and a portion of that paycheck is almost "extra." We discovered that two days before we had to leave. Our trip cost ended up being exactly what that "extra" amount was. God is so good to us!!
On Saturday, we broke away so a few in the crowd could rest, little ones could nap, and everyone could have some alone time. Adrain, the kids, and I went horseback riding on the beach. In the rain. On horses that were young and didn't like to plod slowly along behind each other. It was hysterical. They matched us up with horses according to our experience level. I was oh-so-lucky to get a horse that enjoyed kicking others who got too close to her rump and liked to go fast. (So much better than a boring trail ride, though at one point they all decided they wanted to liven up the pace, and my little girl was hanging on for dear life as the guide hollered at her to pull back on the reigns. Remember it was her very first time on a horse- EVER.) At one point, my horse tried to kick Adrain's horse who had gotten a little too close to her, and nearly bucked me off as I worked to correct her and calm her down. It was like being a kid all over again, and I haven't had that much fun in years. (Ava wasn't so sure about the whole thing but she had a really good horse and all was well in the end.)
|(sis & brother in law)|
|(adrain's precious grandma)|
|(a little casting hang-up)|
|(adrain, his cousin, and grandma)|
|(one of the other grandmas)|
|(another adorable niece)|
|(sis and brother in law out in the rain)|
|(a cousin's little one)|
|(they're all going to kill me for posting this one... but adrain cracks me up just standing there with his little sis thrown over his back)|
|(adrain and his little brother)|
|(adrain with his brother, sisters and mama)|
|(scrappy little cousins)|
|(one part of the extended group)|
In so many ways it was an amazing weekend. In others, it was heart wrenching. Adrain is obviously dealing with the sad knowledge that he is going to lose his special grandmother soon. They have had many good conversations lately, and she knows where she is going when she passes, but if you want to pray for Adrain's heart, I know he would appreciate it. She is awfully special to him.