Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The process of carefully letting go...

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.
 I've got a ton of words and a ton of photos to also share from our weekend away, so I hope you will bear with me!  (Believe it or not, I'm kickin' myself right now for all the people and moments I failed to snap photos of!)
 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 experienced many things new to my little family unit and my heart bursts with a first for us. 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)

They say that raising children is a 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.


  1. Praying for your family. For the Lord to sustain you and guard your hearts. What a very touching post.

  2. What a beautiful family and many precious memories made. May your love and memories comfort you all.

  3. Well first of all my heart is heavy for Adrian I know how hard that is. My last grandma is passing soon and I'm so sad I'm missing her bday June 1st. Just praying I get there this summer and get that last goodbye in.

    Rejoicing with you that your time was good...healing. I know how badly you wanted to go. And He met that need. I loved seeing all these lighthearted fun pics.

  4. Your pictures always move me so deeply. I am keeping all of you in my prayers always, but as you've requested, especially your dear Adrian during this time. My heart understands completely what he is facing.

    My Momma is my best friend and she has gone through a series of major medical issues since December. Thankfully my prayers are being answered so she is out of the woods now (AND living with me now *insert happy dance here* - 10 hour move north half way completed; now to finish packing up her remaining belongings and selling her house; but all that is another story for another time)
    Thank you for always sharing your life so openly. You are inspiring, thought provoking and heart warming.
    Sending you many hugs

  5. So glad you had time with her.
    And so happy for all of the wonders that God has shown you.
    Go, Joe...

  6. Oh, tears of JOY that you got to have such a lovely weekend. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it!!! When you need to take tiny steps forward in the future, remember this weekend Sweetie!!! Big steps DO COME. Eventually.

    Thinking of Adrain, and all of you as you begin to process the life and eventual homegoing of his sweet grandma! xo ~Sally

  7. gorgeous amazing pictures that tell oh such a story! what a beautiful weekend you had. I love seeing my childhood friend (Theresa) surrounded by her kids. Her girls looks so much like she did back in grade school, what a hoot. Will be holding you all in my thoughts and prayers. It is never easy saying good bye.

  8. Your beautiful pictures tell the sweet story of family love. So happy you were blessed with a weekend of family love. I'll say a prayer for Adrian's heart.

  9. Will keep all in my prayers for sure.....

    Glad to see these pics and that you all had a great time, these are the precious times for sure.

  10. goodbyes are soooo hard. i wish there was a way of getting around them. praying for his heart and for you to find ways to comfort him in the meantime throughout this cancer journey. xoxo.

  11. Love that you had soooo many happy moments happen this weekend!!! God has EVERYTHING in His hand....Feeling that does great things in my soul.

    I will pray for all of you as you prepare for "goodbye for now".

  12. Thanks for sharing. I feel like I went on a mini vacation. So glad you had such a lovely time.
    Debbie @ Deliciously Inspired

  13. So glad that your weekend was BLESSED!

    :) :) :)

  14. What a blessing to have such a great family. How wonderful everyone was together with grandma so she could be a part of it. Having just lost my dad it all brings tears to my eyes, the importance of family and how not all families get along. I will pray for the part of Adrain's heart his grandma will take to heaven.

  15. Grandmas are always have a sweetness to them I prayed over the picture of the two of them on the couch such a blessing that they had this special time.

    What fun this looked like and so pretty so happy that you got to enjoy it with out worry all your hard work and dedication to this goal paid off. Horse riding on the beach heavenly!

    Have a happy day,

  16. What a sacred time for your family. I had never thought about it before but in a way when my mother-in-law was sick with hospice for months my husbands family had many times we gathered at her house and it was a precious time. It was a hard stressful time too but those are just distant memories and the good times outshine the bad. I'm so happy it was such a wonderful time for your family. Loved reading about it. :)

  17. I have to admit that, when I read your comments about having just enough $, I got chills (of the awesome kind). I'm still not using Dave Ramsey's system fully - my previous money habits have been harder to let go of than I expected - but when I'm using my money wi$ely (as I put it) =), the way things work out is always better than I'd expected or planned for. Like the time I had just enough in my checking account to pay for an unexpected car repair (and thus, avoid the credit card). So happy that worked out for you!

    And of course, sending prayers for Adrain and his entire family as they bolster themselves to handle whatever may happen with his grandmother!

  18. You should ask Adrain to tell you the story of "pinky" and how if Grandma ever watched cartoons, she would probably never speak to either of us. lol

  19. We had a great time this weekend. So nice to catch up on lost time with everyone. Grandma was in high spirits all weekend and was her normal playful self. I am so blessed to be part of this family. Prayers for everyone through what will be a great loss.