Audiobooks, Mom Taxi and Learning to Begin Again

Friend QuoteMoving sucks. It’s not just the packing of boxes, unpacking of boxes, painting, re-painting, registering kids in new schools, learning the ins and outs of a new community, school, work culture that sucks. It’s that no matter how much your kiddos are seeming to adjust, and you are getting along; in the middle of it all… YOU MISS YOUR PEOPLE!

I now spend an average of two hours chauffering kids to events and such each day. This increased time as a MOM TAXI has pushed me into the world of Audiobooks. I first listened to “Seven: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess” by Jen Hatmaker. I learned really quickly this is not the best book to read AFTER you have moved twice in one year AND started a new job while starting kids in a new school. I was not in the right spirit to receive its message. I did take some of the intent from it, and at some point, I plan to revisit.  Even though the message is not for me RIGHT NOW, I did discover the efficiency and convenience that audiobooks provided.

I took a break from the blog/female Christian author genre and listened to a work-related book “4 Disciplines of Execution” by McChesney, Hulen, and S. Covey. You can read more about that in my professional blog post titled “Whirlwind and the WIG,” if you would like.

 

I revisited the blog/female Christian author genre, again, this time a bit more carefully. I chose “Uninvited: Living Loved When You Fell Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely” by Lisa TerKeurst. Holy, moly. Talk about getting down to the heart of the matter. I am undone by this book and feeling freer than I ever have and at the same time feeling raw, so raw. It is times like this, I miss my people. I need to share the rawness, the part of me that has become undone and vulnerable.

May 20, 201854 THOUGHT-PROVOKING QUOTES FROM PRESENT OVER PERFECT BY SHAUNA NIEQUISTEver working woman should read Present over Perfect.Here are the quotes i like_“Stop. Right now. RemAfter that, I jumped into “Present over Perfect: Leaving Behind Franctic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living” by Shauna Niequist and let me tell you, the timing couldn’t be more perfect.

This move has sucked. I am missing my people, but “reading” these last two books, I have realized this dish of misery called “moving” is secretly and a dish of “do-over.”

I am getting a do-over. It doesn’t take away that I miss my people and my kids do too. I watched tears stream down my daughter’s face last night as we discussed the sixteenth birthday coming up in December that isn’t anything that we thought it would be, nor would it be in the place we once called home. I know it will be ok. Between the Mom Taxi, the audiobooks, and learning to begin again… we will find the birthday celebration event of the century.

 

In the meantime, I will hold tight to the things that matter. I will live loved and in the present. And yes, if you are meeting me for the first time, you may see a tear in my eye and hear a rawness in my voice. For this move has left me bare, stripped of my people and working hard to begin again. Only this time I begin a little better than before and leaning hard on a Savior that loves me.

His plans are bigger than your dreams…

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.

Image-1It 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.IMG_0747 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). IMG_0745I 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.

 

 

Home Sweet Home

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.

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.

In Every Moment…

I will be honest. I don’t balance well. I am either all assistant principal, all mom, all wife, all friend… you get the idea. I am pretty sure if someone was to look at a scan of what dendrites were firing where in my brain, no one part of my brain would overlap. I am that compartmentalized in how I operate. Is it a fault or strength of focus… I don’t know.

When I am at work, it is all about work. That would be ok except my son attends the campus where I am an assistant principal. Sometimes that means that my mom life will intersect with my work life.

So this past week one of those intersections between mom and assistant principal occurred. We had our Spring Open house at school. I was helping in my role of assistant principal… all in my “work mode” compartment of my brain. Earlier I had arranged for my son to be picked up after school instead of “having” to stay through the Open House. He had declined the offer to go home early and, to my surprise, opted to stay. I had noticed, but didn’t think to ask him why. I quickly moved to the next thing I needed to do to be present for as an Assistant Principal. I attended the PTA meeting and then started serving pizza to families… my son was somewhere. I thought he was hanging out with some of the other teacher’s kids and was content.

In the midst of placing slices of pizzas on plates and handing to parents and students, I hear a urgent but quiet voice call, “Mom.”

I look beyond the family waiting for pizza in front of me and there stands my son. He says my name again, this time with a hint of sadness and pleading, “Mom.”

I respond, “What’s up buddy? Is everything ok?”

At that point his response is filled with exasperation and disappointment, “I wanted you to come see my work and show you my ePortfolio.”

Before I really think about my response, because my brain is still in the Assistant Principal compartment, I say, “I don’t know if I can, bud. I need to stay here.”

He is angry and before I can retract what just rolled out of my mouth… he is quickly exiting, but not before I can see the frustration and tears brimming in his eyes.

Suddenly the mom compartment of my brain kicks in and I turn to my counselor, serving with me. I tell her what I have suddenly realized. Kritterman had stayed because he wanted to show me his work. He wanted me to be his mom for a moment, not the assistant principal. He wanted us to be like every other son. I need to be Kritterman’s mom… just his mom.

I try to be what I need to be, whatever the role, in every moment. However, I realize I fall short most of the time.

This would be defeating if I didn’t know that I don’t have to be ALL in every moment.

gospel-of-john-1-prologue-1118-18-638Often we are told to “be the light.” I believe this is a misconstrued spiritual notion. Recently I have read and come to understand, Jesus “is the life, and that life is the light of all mankind.” (John 1: 4) I don’t have to “be” anything. I only need to seek him. He already seeks after me. He is the light. His light, when I seek him shines through me.

Unlike my son who sought me out and needed to remind me of what he needed, Jesus already knows our need. He does want us to ask and seek him, not because he doesn’t know, but because he wants to have a relationship with us. He loves us perfectly.

He is perfectly present in every moment with us. He wants to do life with us in every moment.

What I am coming to realize is that even though I compartmentalize my life, He is there in every moment. When I walk alongside Him and let His light shine through me in every part of my life, I am more in tune to loving others. I am able to be more of what others need, not by my own strength, but because of what He does in and through me.

It is a relief to now that I don’t have to “be the light”… He is enough, and He shines through me. When I fail to allow his light to shine through me, I fail in every moment. Thank goodness for His forgiveness and grace.

Later after the PTA evening was over and I was home, I sought out Kritterman. I apologized I hadn’t been the mom he needed in the moment when he called for me. He was quick to forgive, and tell me he loved me.

What a mighty Savior we have. When we call out to Him, He is already there… in every moment.

 

 

Where do you see yourself…

“Where do you see yourself in five years?” It is a question often asked of us whether it be over coffee, in a discussion with your spouse or in an interview. Five years ago I had a plan, but my plan isn’t where I saw myself… in fact it is much better than I imagined.

5-years-2017

Five years ago if you told me that I would run multiple races including several half marathons, a marathon and a participated in a sprint triathlon… I would have laughed at you. Five years ago if you told me that I would be teaching youth girls and LOVING it, I would have asked if you were sure you were talking to the right person. Five years ago if you had told me my husband would have a stroke and we would be stronger for the experience and our family would be happier than it has ever been before, I would have been overcome with fear. Five years ago if you had told me that it would take almost five years to realize the place I saw myself in five years… an assistant principal, I would have responded in anger and frustration, questioning why it would take so long.

But now I look back at the five years and am filled with gratitude both for the celebrations, accomplishments and the struggles. Gratitude for the friendship that was forged through the running with a dear friend that knew better than I did that I was capable and would run half marathons, a marathon and participate in a triathlon. I am filled with gratitude for the deep, authentic relationships I have formed with my youth girls that I have now been teaching and learning with for three years. I am beyond grateful that Eric’s stroke has not created huge limitations for him, but has provided a reset and restart on life for us all that has forged deeper bonds between us and our children and brought us closer as a family… and fear has not won! And crazy as it sounds, I am so profoundly filled with gratitude that  the time it took for me to take my next step in my career was when God’s timing was right for me to step into the role of assistant principal. It happened in perfect timing in a place that is a fit that is so perfect I often can’t believe it.

The better question might be: “What do you hope to learn about yourself and others in the next five years and how will you use that to impact the world around you?”

That is what I am trying to answer. I have deeply learned it is more than alright to have plans, but the plans I have are not always the best plans. I have learned that God’s plans are what is best for me. I don’t know what the next five years will hold for me… I have aspirations. I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have aspirations, but this next five years is with less trying to “shoe-horn” my plans, and more relying on God. He has shown me to have my best interest at heart, and frankly He is due my trust and faith. He has proven to me, even when I have not been faithful to Him. So my next five years I will strive to trust Him more, live by the faith I proclaim and let Him speak through me in my actions to impact the world around me for HIS glory.

I am looking forward to the next five years… the trials and the celebrations. In every moment and opportunity He is leading me to where He feels I best fit into His design… and I love that is where I “see myself in the next” five years… and for an eternity.

plans-jeremiah

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