The Long Journey Home…

My PostTwenty 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.

 

Finding THE “One Word”…

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.

joshua tree family picIt 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.

_And for this further reason we render unceasing thanks to God, that when you received God's Message from our lips, it was as no mere message from men that you embraced it, but as--what

“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.”

 

Learning to Love the Laundry…

laundry picIt 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.

This is a STAGE in life… right?

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.

Easter 2017

Easter 2017 with Eric. Love this picture of us!

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.

Kinder round up kris

Text from the parents of a family that Kritter gave a tour for Kindergarten Roundup. This is the school where he attends and I am the Assistant Principal.

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

Hitting the Reset Button…

Reset buttonSince 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.

Sendera Admin TeamPart 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!

 

In This Storm…

plot twist

I have fallen into a Social Media trap. I post and brag about the perfection in my family’s life. I don’t share the ugly, the weaknesses, the shortcomings, the failures. It was ok for me to share the perfection. I was good with sharing, bragging, boasting of the things I had done, my husband had done or my children had done.

“Look at how ‘blessed’ I am,” is what I was saying…

But where was God in all this? Where was my reliance on my savior? Where was the being ok, if everything isn’t ok?

And then the domino of events began…

First, my husband had a minor stroke in January. Then, after that, there was a series of minor events where hopes were dashed and financial concerns surfaced. In every situation I kept saying to myself: “this is not a big deal; we can get through this; it could be worse.”

Of course, in true educator fashion, I kept plowing through events, thinking… “Once summer break is here, I can reflect, reorganize and refocus. It will all be better with a break and a little vacation.”

Then it came, Memorial Day Weekend, the small domino of events chipping away at my resolve turned from a snowball of concern to the impending doom of an avalanche. My husband was pursued via litigation by a previous employer. For the next three weeks everyday was an unknown and my unease and fears grew. I hadn’t had the opportunity to reflect, reorganize, or refocus. Vacation was off the calendar, too. Then Friday, the final blow. His present employer stepped away. No income.

So my pseudo-perfect world came crashing down. I found myself feeling vulnerable, afraid and questioning why. Why is God letting this happen?

Then sweet friends have come to my side. Encouraging me in hugs, prayers and sending me words of encouragement and scripture. It is amazing.

I feel “blessed” but in a humble and undeserving way. A way which I did not create or design. In the same way I was given Christ’s love, undeserved and without condition.

Our little family has come together, and in true humor we are yelling “Plot Twist!” (see above meme) Having faith that God knows the plan. A plan not based on our actions but His character; we are confident we are loved and cared for by a God much greater than us.

I saw a video this weekend at my church’s service. It was a lead into the message that focused on father’s. Over and over again, the message from the father’s in the video was “You’ve got this.” I don’t think I have “got this” except with the Father by my side, I know “He’s got this!”

This morning I was reading His Word and trying to find peace in this season. My sister texted me the scripture below. It is the most comforting words I have received so far… and, of course, it is His word!Ps 143 vs 1 to 12

As I go forward, I am not sure what the plan is. I will continue to post moments of things that my family have done that make my heart happy (plus I have grandparents to keep up to date on the latest about the kiddos). However, I am working on not making this about what I have done or deserve, but the true, transparent work God is doing in me and my family. I am working to be less perfect and more what is the real us. So just to let you know I am trying to #keepitreal and #keepitpositive, while giving the credit of all of this life I have to the one who provides… Abba, Father.

I will praise Him in all things. I will praise Him… IN THIS STORM.

 

 

Where did the time go?

Christmas party parker products 2015

Somewhere between the last snow day in March of 2015 and January 1st, 2016 my good intentions and many plans to blog about events, activities and celebrations remained unwritten and many images are still stored in “the cloud.”

So in an attempt to capture what was missed the next 3 posts for “The Wilson Family Stories from Razorback Ranch” blog will consist of a list of Embug’s, Kritterman’s and our Family’s top events of 2015.

Hopefully in 2016 the posts will be frequent, short and keep us smiling!

 

Sinterklaus and Ugly Sweaters

There are many traditions that families have during this time of year. Some light an advent candle and have an advent calendar, others visit every holiday show and light display possible throughout the season, and others may do an Elf on the Shelf.

Whatever you do it is something your family looks forward to with anticipation. Some traditions are influenced by your childhood, others are new traditions that have been created as a unique part of your family. There are opinions about all of them and with the explosion of social media and blogs there is no shortage of said opinions. I have come to a point that I don’t pay attention to others’ opinions, but rather, focus on the house where my husband and I create a home for our family.

One tradition, new to me but is part of my ethnic background, is Sinterklaus Day. Sinterklaus is the Dutch Santa or St. Nick.  From what I have learned over the years Dutch culture and tradition separate the visit of Sinterklaus and the birth of Jesus. Sinterklaus Day comes early in the Christmas season while Christ’s birth is observed on the 25th. This white-bearded man, donning a long colorful winter coat, rides in on his horse late in the evening on December 5th. Dutch children leave their wooden shoes on the front porch with goodies for Sinterklaus’ horse in great anticipation. On the morning of December 6th children awake to find goodies such as succulent fruits and sweetbreads if they have been well-behaved; if not they find switches.  The idea of the wooden shoe is believed to have evolved into the American tradition of hanging the stockings.

When my Daughter Embug was born we started celebrating Sinterklaus Day. While we do put out wooden shoes, they are not shoes we wear like the Dutch children. Embug and Kritterman enjoy leaving hay, an apple and carrots for Sinterklaus’ horse. On December 6th Sinterklaus usually leaves each child their Christmas PJs for the season, Christmas ornament, Christmas t-shirt or sweater, a Christmas Movie or CD, plus a variety of yummies and winter stocking caps/mittens. This tradition has become such a part of us that Embug and Kritterman were surprised when they found out from their peers that Sinterklaus did not visit their homes. However, Sinterklaus has made his way to homes of our friends in recent years once those children learned of his practices.

Sinterklaus Day 14

In addition to the tradition of Sinterklaus, the family has been caught square in the web of the Ugly Sweater themed Days and Parties. While there are too many events to recount, one party got Kirsten and Eric caught red-handed in the knitted disasters.

Chrismas Sweater

How are you creating memories and celebrating new and old traditions in your family?

Family, Football and Faith

It doesn’t happen every year, but we try as best we can to go to at least one home Razorback game in Fayetteville. With my sister now living in Farmington (a small country town near Fayetteville) and my parents in Little Rock, coming to a game is a family event, for the four of us and beyond.

We packed up the car and headed to Fayetteville this November for the last home game against Ole Miss. We drove up hopeful for a win, but the sting of loss with every home game we had been to the last few years in the back of our minds. With that the forecast was for 100% chance of rain with temperatures in the low 50s.

This was not a game for the faint-hearted. Only the committed need attend… and attend they did. Despite the rain the Hogs shutout the Ole Miss Rebels 30-0 to a nearly full Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Even better, we, as a family, were there to witness in person.

With my sister’s family and her kids with us at the game, we cheered on our Hogs with unbridled enthusiasm and joy. Being a Razorback has been a part of who I was a child, then attended the University where I received my Bachelor’s in Education. I even married a second generation Razorback.  The Hog blood runs deep.

It is no coincidence that are kids have aspirations to attend the University of Arkansas. While those future plans may not be realized, the memories and the love for the Razorbacks will continue. There is no doubt memories were made with this game, where this shutout with ranked Ole’ Miss was epic.

After the game on Saturday the kids went to  my sister’s to have cousin time, while Eric and I met up with one of my former students, Kelley Whitson and her boyfriend. We enjoyed amazing gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches at “Hammontrees.” Their homemade soups and their multitude of twists on the basic grilled cheese are incredible both in taste and creativity. After great conversation and sandwiches, we made our way down Dickson Street to check out the night life. We quickly became aware that we are no longer “night life” people. Plan B led us to our favorite college eatery, “Hugo’s.” There we had their famous grasshopper crepes. We wrapped the night with a walk on the Fayetteville Square already lit up for Christmas… complete with Christmas Razorbacks!

Hog Christmas Lights

The following day we enjoyed an early Thanksgiving dinner with my sister, her family and my parents that came up for the game from Little Rock. We had a great time reflecting on our blessings, laughing and eating delicious home-prepared food in my sister’s home. Food, family and faith… that’s what brings us together, connects us, and holds us together.  For that, I am thankful.

How was your Thanksgiving?

Trick or Treat… Under the Sea

I know the days are numbered when Embug will no longer Trick or Treat for Halloween. Carving pumpkins will be an after-thought. Attending the elementary carnival will be a distant memory.

But this fall we celebrate.  The trip to the Haslet Fall Carnival, costume contest at Fellowship of the Parks Youth Group, carving pumpkins with Dad, and the Lonesome Dove Estates Halloween Hot Dog Roast and Life group Hay ride made this another great Halloween for the books.

The Land-Shark and the Lion-Fish created the perfect under the sea treat for all who encountered them.

Enjoying the moment and hoping that this fast moving journey we call life doesn’t start playing it’s tricks and let these two grow up too fast.

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