Stories of family, faith, celebration, struggle and humor… #hogfan style.
Since I last put letters into words and words into phrases for a blog post it was July 2019. It seems like a lifetime since then. Eric and I celebrated our 25th Wedding Anniversary. EmBug has been part of the cast for “Singing in the Rain,” “Chicago” (High School Edition), and Argenta’s “A Christmas Carol.” She has also stayed on the HS Quiz Bowl team, continues to be part of Beta Club, Thespian Society, and made a high enough chair in All Region Choir that she has an opportunity to try for All-State Choir. Kritterman is now a freshman in High School, was inducted into MHS Beta Club, plays in the marching band, joined the eSports team, was part of the Morrilton HS production of “War of the Worlds,” and is on the 9th Grade/Junior High Quiz Bowl team. In December, EmBug turned 17.
At the same time, Eric completed a successful audit at work in mid-September and in their busy season worked EVERY single day from December 2nd until Christmas Eve to get the company through their busy season and meet the order demands of customers. Kirsten took a trip to Lansing, Michigan and Dallas/Fort Worth for work, presented at a few conferences in the state and nationally, and continued to develop professional development for her teachers, vet curriculum, and designed the instructional model for learning for her organization.
So there is a lot of movement, growth, and activity going on in the Wilson household. And when I mention growth, I mean actual physical growth. Kritterman is approximately two inches taller than Kirsten, now. That has all happened since July when he was about two inches shorter than Kirsten. (Kirsten is wearing two-inch heels in the picture below.)
When we sat down to discuss our #oneword2020 we kicked around a few words. EmBug mentioned “adventure.” Eric suggested “clarity.” Kritterman… his contribution, “sandwich.” (I guess at 14 all the boy thinks about is the food he just ate and the food he is going to eat.) I through out the word “rooted.”
As we talked about it, we reflected on last year’s word “balance.” Coming off of a busy holiday and work season wasn’t the best time to reflect on how we put that word into practice, so it was agreed we didn’t necessarily stick to the essence of balance. We did talk about how we are headed into EmBug’s Senior year of high school. That our moments of family time that are more readily available even with all our activities will become more limited when EmBug heads off to college, wherever that may be. 2020 needed to be purposeful, meaningful and focused on the blessings.
We settled on the word “JOY.” In everything we do, we will seek joy, share joy, and be joy for ourselves and one another.
I hope we do better to keep this #oneword at the forefront of our minds than we did with balance. It is a year of many firsts and lasts, and in that, I hope I am able to make memories that are hemmed with joy.
What is your family #oneword2020? Share your thoughts in the comments.
I have been waiting. Wanting to have the perfect post about our transition. That waiting… it made me malcontent. Instead of focusing on the moment(s) and relishing those little ways God was revealing he had my back, I was focusing on the “dream.”
The “dream” for me, for my kids, for my husband and for our family.
Back up to a time before all this crazy transitioning.
I was reading the book, 100 Days to Brave by Annie Downs. I had started reading when I was feeling less than who I felt God had purposed me to be. I started it as a way to find my way back to what I knew myself to be, in God’s eyes.
When the flurry of moving, transitioning from two households back to one household were taking place and everything seemed to be falling into place, I put the book to the side in late April.
Fast forward to late July. I am about three weeks into my new position in Arkansas that I am over the moon about. I am living in a house I never dreamed I would live in. I have just traded the “soccer mom vehicle” for a sporty little car that makes me feel like I am in college again. I am celebrating 24 years of marriage to the best guy in the world. I should be on top of the world.
But I am not. I am worried about my kids. We went from so many opportunities and experiences at their fingertips in Texas to a situation that I fret might limit them. I start to worry, try to control every connection, and orchestrate every move. I become the “helicopter mom” that engineers EVERYTHING.
It is ugly. My kids in every public setting with others give me a wary look when I start “my thing.” I don’t like myself, they don’t say it, but they don’t like me either.
I really didn’t even notice how bad I had become. I was operating from a place of fear not in a place of assurance and bravery that God has us all in the palm of his hand.
We started school. August 13th, and like we always do we cheat and take our “Back toSchool” pictures the day before.I even went to the local college where EmBug is taking concurrent credit (college and high school credit at the same time) for a class and took a picture. So I can post on social media subtly “my kid is in college!” I think she met her limit (see the picture… if you know her that is “the look.”) I know, shameful!
I did do something right in all this engineering of my kiddos future. We started praying every morning before they left for school. We did this the year before the family was living in two separate places. I honestly started it to, in my “wise” mind, to settle their nerves and subtly remind THEM, God is in control. I know, you can say it, what a hypocrite!
I think those prayers, however, were slowly pulling at my own heart. So I picked up the book, “100 Days to Brave” again. The first night I started reading again, I posted on Instagram (See image). I was still in a state of worry, but the conviction to back off on my engineering was received and acknowledged.
The next day after work when I was looking at the posts from friends, one of my dearest friends that walked me through the earliest parts of motherhood, replied to my post, “Oh KIWI, NOBODY loves your kids more than God does! Hard to remember, but keep trying! And… fear is imagining the future as if God is not in it.” If I didn’t know better I would have thought that God was speaking directly to me. Maybe he was, through my dear and wise friend.
Tonight as I write this post, bearing a little bit of the reality, and knowing I have no idea what the future holds for my kids, I am at peace. That doesn’t mean I haven’t emailed a few teachers in haste since this revelation… I am a work in progress. However, God’s plans are bigger than my dreams. Dreams for myself. Dreams for my kids. Dreams for my husband. Dreams for this family.
Honestly, life is good. I am so grateful for life right now. Sitting on the back deck kicking back, drinking a beverage with my husband and listening to voices of my children as they chat back and forth about their day in the kitchen on the other side of the brick wall affixed to the deck.
We are embracing our new life and, with God in control, it is beautiful.
What a journey this last year has been. We have had many celebrations and many moments of grief. Through it all God has been with us. Comforted us. Grown us.
Kritterman’s journey into middle school was smooth sailing. He excelled in all areas… some in his sister’s footsteps with theater. Others were on his own path… specifically in the area of band. At first I wasn’t sure band was for him. When he started to shine, I thought it was due to the competition with his fellow saxophonist. Later I was informed it was due to my threat when he made a “B” on a playing test. I don’t recall saying this, but according to him I told him if he made another “B” in band I was yanking him out. I don’t necessarily recommend this type of parenting, but I guess I had a weak moment and it worked to both of our advantages. He ended the year, first chair, superior plus rating on his solo in Solo and Ensemble contest, and best instrumentalist of the day by the judge he played in front of at Solo and Ensemble. As I type this he is at a Band Camp in Arkansas. It is his first overnight camp and he knows no one. He has texted a few times, but he is loving it AND on his own accord signed up for extra classes for support with his saxophone and with the upcoming season of All-Region Music for Arkansas. He is going to be o.k.
EmBug’s transition to high school was a bit bumpy at first. Taking three pre-AP classes, one AP class, Productions, Theater I, Advanced Girls Choir and on online Spanish II class made for a tight schedule and some long nights. Over time she found a rhythm. Highlights of her year included a leading role in Eaton Drama Department’s freshmen production of “Radium Girls.” She also worked tirelessly with throughout the production of “May Fair Lady” as a chorus member. Her pinnacle achievement was being cast in the award winning One Act Play (OAP) “The Insanity of Mary Girard.” At times I was worried about her social life, as she rarely had a spare moment and every moment she utilized. However, my worries were put to rest, as the final week she was in Texas she was thrown a good bye party with her friends and was occupied for breakfast, lunch and dinner that last week by one sweet friend or another who wanted to squeeze out just a few more moments with her.
In both kiddos situations we are blessed. Not just this year, but every year they attended a Northwest ISD school. We have had so many teachers invest in EmBug and Kritter. Encouraging them. Building them up and challenging them. Their teachers, in many cases, have become my friends as well. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate them. I love my kids, and so do these teachers. These teachers loved my kids in a way I, as a mother, cannot. They taught them to take criticism and coached them in a way I could not. These teachers allowed the environment of school dynamics play out, whether it be collaborative projects or planning activities with others that came with its own set of challenges, when I would have just tried to rescue Kritterman and EmBug.
I am eager for the journey ahead of us, and thankful for those that prepared us for the road ahead. I know that God has a plan for these kiddos. I know that every teacher in their path will guide them. We will miss Northwest ISD. However, I am eager for the next chapter in our journey.
Twenty years ago this upcoming fall Eric came home to our 1930’s eight hundred square foot salt box two bedroom home in Ozark, Arkansas and told me he was being transferred with Cargill, Inc. to Waco, Texas. He, being a native Texan, was excited. I, on the other hand, a native Arkansan, was not.
After lots of tears on my part, we put the miles between my home state and headed toward Texas. At the time I thought it only had to be for a little while. Five years later and a baby on the way, we contemplated coming back to Arkansas. I sought opportunities but nothing came our way. At that time I fully embraced that Arkansas would be my childhood home and where Eric and I met and fell in love, but Waco, Texas would be our forever home.
Six months after EmBug was born we made the decision for me to stay at home. I was connecting with other young moms and embracing the idea of motherhood, growing as a person and learning about the me outside of a career. It seemed to be a perfect time and about the time I was becoming content in my new normal Eric came home to share we were moving again. This time I wasn’t as resistant and ultimately we were staying in Texas, my adopted home state.
Our move to Fort Worth (Keller area) was exciting. I was expecting Kritter and we moved into our new much bigger home than the one in Waco just a week before my third trimester. On the surface everything seemed to be going great.
However, the next few years were a series of ups and downs that challenged our strength, caused us to question our faith, and left us wondering. We experienced extreme joy, incredible celebrations, terrible loss and painful disappointment.
Extreme joys and celebrations included the birth of Kristopher, me returning to my love of teaching as a third grade classroom teacher in Haslet, Texas (north of Fort Worth) and us buying a home on some land in “the country.”
In the time we were in Texas we continued to bring the kids back to Arkansas to go to Razorback games, visit sights and see family and friends. We also, through Eric’s career and professional contacts developed a sweet friendship with Ed and Carey Ruff. Ed and his Dad, David, owned Morrilton Packing Company. We would see them at Eric’s professional conventions and occasionally in Arkansas. There was occasionally a brief and casual conversation about Eric coming to Arkansas to work for the Ruff’s, but nothing very serious.
Then a series of events beyond our understanding or reason began to happen for Eric. Every time we thought we were moving forward, him in his career, us as a family, it was as though life would take a sucker punch to the gut and rob us of the opportunity to exhale. It was beyond our comprehension why this kept happening, but we didn’t doubt God loved us, and he would bring us through this just as he had brought us through so many other trials.
During probably the fifth sucker punch event in less than a year in May of 2017, Ed and Dave Ruff called Eric. The same week they offered him an opportunity to come to Morrilton Packing Company in Morrilton, Arkansas EmBug, as an incoming freshman, made Eaton High School Theater Production, an audition only high school theater class. We told the Ruff’s no.
The crazy thing is even though we said no to the job opportunity, we did decide it was time to sell our home in “the country.” While in the process of listing the house the Ruff’s came back with an offer we couldn’t refuse. The kids and I would stay here and allow EmBug to finish High School while Eric would set up our future home in Arkansas, work at Morrilton Packing Company and come back to Texas on weekends. We would make the trip to Arkansas on long weekends and holidays.
Eric had spent so much time on the road when he was in sales and service that we felt the adjustment would not be to hard.
Now I look back at the last almost twenty years. I see how many times I had my timeline and God had his. In every situation it was for his glory, to build my faith and to trust his timing.
Do I think we should have moved with Eric? No, not at all. God has been moving in our family in quiet and unseen ways. He has strengthened our marriage, is teaching our kids to trust Him and is continually showing us all his timing is perfect. So while we originally thought we would be staying for four more years, we decided, with God’s guidance, one year was just right.
Soon we will be packing our things and putting miles between my “adopted home” of Texas to come back home to my childhood home, where a piece of my heart never left. And while the journey back may have seemed long, every day my heart was brought back to the one true home of my Savior and my God. Arkansas may be our forever home… but at this point it is our here on earth home. Wherever we reside, my faith and trust will be in Christ.
Early December of 2017 I started thinking about “One Word” for 2018. As the “keeper” of so much of our families events, activities and daily living, it became very apparent that before I selected a personal “One Word,” my family needed their own “One Word” we could all get behind, use to push us forward, anchor our core values, and weather the challenges that would be coming our way.
It wasn’t until we took our family trip starting New Year’s Day 2018 (a new Christmas gift tradition for the kids), that the uninterrupted family time could provide opportunity for organic conversations and discussions to take place helping us select our word. It was on third day of our trip to California, as we drove through the vastness of the Joshua Tree National Park that we began to discuss what the Wilson Family’s “One Word” would be. To keep each individual’s ideas respected and honest, each family member was to submit three words to me. After some time given to ponder, each family member submitted their three words.
Words submitted were:
patience, exceed, thrive, nice, understanding, anticipate, intentional, dedicate, faith, serendipity, embrace (2)
Using a loose version of the “Affinity Map Protocol” from my educational coaching tool box, we put the words into related or similar groups and then looked for what might be similar or capture the meaning of all of our words into either a new word or a word that had already been part of our original list of words.
Our “One Word” wasn’t decided by the end of our trip. We revisited it several times.
Mid-January we moved toward the word “Embrace.” The timing of our family knowing this was the word was truly God’s timing.
Yet, I waited to write about it for almost a month. It was a word we had to “try on.”
It has found it’s way into many conversations with our children, with our marriage and with our interactions with others. Most of all it has defined how we, as a family, are walking in faith, trusting God’s plan and EMBRACING his will for us.
Embrace, as a noun, means “an act of accepting or supporting something willingly or enthusiastically;” as a verb, means “accept or support (a belief, theory, or change) willingly and enthusiastically.”
Whether as a noun or verb, the response is willingly and/or enthusiastically. So whatever we as a family encounter, or have an opportunity to impact, we will EMBRACE with willingness and enthusiasm.
“Embrace” is our family’s “One Word” that confirmed my personal “One Word” for 2018. If you are interested in my personal “One Word” you can learn more about that through my professional blog “Tag You’re It.”
It has been a while. There has been a lot that has happened in the last five months. So much so that I am not sure even where to start. We have seen God work in amazing ways. However, it doesn’t go without saying there have been trials;To the point that I have looked forward to the steady, regular chore of doing the laundry.
The adventure began in mid-June with Eric heading into a new job/career working with people who value his expertise and care about his entire well-being… in ARKANSAS. At the same time we were seriously considering selling our home in Texas. The job change just pushed us toward making that a reality. In the same turn we made a decision for the kids and I to stay in Texas. This would allow me time to prepare for finding a job in Arkansas in education and honor the direction EmBug is headed with her passion for the Theater and Vocal Arts and keep the course with the phenomenal programs offered in the district she currently attends school.
On top of all that another transition was us purchasing a home in Greenbrier, Arkansas where Eric will reside during the week near his job. Eric would then spend time in Texas on the weekends, and the kids and I have a “vacation home” to hang out on long weekends and holidays.
To further the changes Kritterman started Middle School and EmBug entered High School. It has been a roller coaster of changes. So when I say that I have learned to love the laundry, it is a strange, but true statement.
No matter the chaos, the laundry must be done. No matter what made the piles of dirty clothes, once they are clean they are ready to be worn again. I find myself folding the kids and my clothes from the past week and remembering the small moments when they were wearing a certain t-shirt and quipped some humorous comment, or how one certain item is in the laundry every week… and I smile, because I know in our upheaval, the kids have a piece of clothing that brings them consistency and comfort. Every time I do the laundry (usually over the weekend in about a 12 hour stint) I get a certain excitement in feeling like I am giving my whole family a chance start another week with a fresh start, just like Jesus gives us grace and a fresh start.
So, I am learning to love the laundry, my hope is that I am also giving this blog I write about our family life a fresh start. Our Razorback Ranch may have a few changes (the Razorback Ranchette in Texas and the New Razorback Ranch North in Arkansas) but the heart of our home is in our family and no matter where we are, we have the laundry I am learning to love for the consistency and continuity it represents. With that I am wanting to share our journey in simple uncomplicated ways and how God works… even in the tedium of laundry.
I love my kids. I love my husband. I love my job. I love serving in my church. I love my family. I love my friends.
I love spending time with my kids and my husband. I don’t see my time I spend on my work outside of the normal working day as intrusive or excessive; I enjoy every minute of my job, even when some days the hours are long. I love serving in my church. I love and treasure the time I spend with my family. Unfortunately, not much is left for my friends.
As my time is being taken up more by my children’s events and activities, it leaves very little time for “friend time.” For me, if there is a conflict between my children’s events and activities, time with my husband and/or family time and an opportunity to spend it with my friends… it will always be kids, husband and family. Right now those conflicts are happening so much, I find myself disconnected from friends.
It’s my fault. However, I wouldn’t change the decision I have made to put my kids/ husband/family first. I have even seen it said that if you find your friendships fading it is because you have become self-absorbed or busy with your life, and not taken the time to invest in your friendships. I don’t disagree… but I can’t tell my kids I won’t be at their events, performances and moments. I also can’t tell my husband I would rather go out with the girls on a Saturday night after he has been traveling weeks at a time and wants to spend time with me.
So that brings me back to finding myself disconnected from friends. I don’t like that my friendships have grown apart, that I don’t have meaningful conversations with my friends on a frequent basis, or that I don’t get invited to fun nights out. That is on me.
So I ask myself, how do I fix that?
Well, you have to be a friend to have a friend, right? That requires time and investment, and I am right where I started. So I think I am resigning myself to the truth about this time in my life… it is a STAGE.
I apologize to all my friends who may have assumed that I just didn’t want to be friends anymore because I never call… not true. I just am trying to stay one football game and musical performance ahead of my kiddos and still have a meaningful marriage.
I hope I don’t look back and regret that I didn’t make more effort to find the time for my friends. I do know I don’t regret a moment I have been present to treasure my husband or my kids.
It has been the surprise moments where I have chosen to be there for my kids that I have seen God work. Seen how they are growing up into amazing adults. They have also seen how their mom and dad love each other, because we spend what little time we have, together. So this STAGE… it won’t be long, and I am working on being content with that.
EmBug, age 14, Leading Youth Worship May 3rd, 2017
Since the last post “In This Storm,” our family has experienced first hand God’s providence and care. Eric has been restored to full employment. I have been blessed to transition into a new position as assistant principal at an elementary near our home in the school district I have worked for the past 8 years. Emmarie was able to go on a mission trip to Corpus Christi (mom, too), attend UNT Choir Camp, go to Summer Church Camp and end the summer starting rehearsals for the Middle School Musical, Lion King. Kristopher became fully engrossed in the digital phenomenon of Pokemon, Go!, created stop motion videos via NISD Stop Motion Camp and continued to learn more about robotics through the NISD Lego Robotics camp.
I will not minimize that the first half of 2016 was rough. I have said many times in the first six months of this year… “I am ready for 2017, 2016 needs to make a quick exit!” However, I would not trade the life lessons: our family growing closer through the difficulties and seeing my children, husband and my own faith grow. These experiences have also helped me to be grateful and less consumed with the small “hiccups of life.”
As educators, we have two New Year’s. There is January 1st and then there is the first day of a new school year. We are lucky to have the opportunity to start a new calendar year and then a new school year. This year I am using it as a “reset button.”
We have already faced some challenges with our “new normal.” This includes Eric being in California for 10 days and missing Meet the Teacher and our first day of school. That’s not what we are going to focus on, rather, we are looking forward to the ways we can embrace the changes.
Part of that is me reaching out to my village of support, setting aside my default to do everything on my own, and not stressing about the small stuff. God has got this and he has already placed me in a web of support that is better than I could have ever hoped.
Here’s to the 2016-17 school year and hitting the reset button!
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