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.”

 

When God Provides a Window…

When Kritterman andgod-opens-a-window-meme EmBug were little we would ask them, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Over the years EmBug has wanted to be Taylor Swift, an artist, and a “Cat Lady,” yes, a “Cat Lady.” Kritterman has wanted to be a Lego designer, an astronaut and a video game designer.

As a parent you wonder will their aspirations and dreams become a reality. Do their gifts and talents align? And then you are given a gift, a window to see the possibility. We all believe in our kids. We do our best to provide them every opportunity. We celebrate their accomplishments and we hope upon hope that their dreams will become a reality.

em-lion-kingLately our home has been a bustle. EmBug began the school year as part of the cast of the Northwest ISD Middle School Musical Production The Lion King. She had practices every day after school and even a Saturday for the first four weeks of school. All the while she kept up her school work and managed all A’s by the end of the first marking period. She loves the stage and every piece of what makes theater, theater.

Between this event and now she has had a choir concert, another theater performance Attack of the Zombies, planned and put on a school dance with her Student Council as STUCO president, practiced for an upcoming piano competition, all while prepping, practicing and trying out for All-Region Choir. She is my workhorse. She is efficient with her time and her resources. She excels at whatever she puts her mind to do.

wilemon-and-em

As a mother, though, I wondered… what is it that she really wants to do? What does she see herself doing? Recently EmBug has been talking passionately about wanting to be a secondary Choir teacher and more specifically a Region clinician. Her experience last year at all-Region Choir, UNT Choir Camp this summer and the ongoing impact of her Choir teacher Lauren Wilemon had spurred her to this new found path. I was excited for her, but I wondered if it was the environment or it was innately her.

Then God gave me a window. It wasn’t during a performance. It was at all-Region tryouts as the group warmed up. Her face was in complete love of what she was doing, she wasn’t just “warming up” she was feeling the music, she was moved by the notes and the story the song was telling, every part of her was in-tune to the notes and the song… she may have been in the middle of the gym floor with twenty something other girls around her, and yet it was if no one else was there and a spot-light was on her. In that moment I saw her as the Secondary Choir Teacher and Region Clinician she desires to be. I saw the promise of her future.

With Kritterman being a bit younger and having a sister that is passionately into everything, it concerns a mother, if his dreams and passions also being developed. While EmBug and Kritterman are very different, the same hope and desire for him to find what he aspires to be is there. With Kritterman is hasn’t been as hard to determine where his interests lie and what he wants to do. He’s my linear, mathematical, logical thinker. Anything that has to do with building Legos, solving puzzles, playing video games and trying experiments, especially with “how things work” he is “ALL IN.” So being a Lego designer, astronaut or video game designer isn’t a surprise. He too has had experiences and influential people in his life. The many summer Techno Camps where he has built and programmed Lego Robots, the opportunities he has had to teach others both in person and through video tutorials about how to build and program Lego Robots, and the teachers who have recognized and encouraged his passion for the mathematical/logical through activities and projects has only encouraged his desires to create and design through the use of technology. He excels with anything that involves design, mathematics and problem solving. He tells his dad and I he wants to be a Computer Science Engineer or a Film Director (while flying in space… he’s learned he can be the other and be an astronaut, logical, right?)

kritter-determines-the-volume-of-a-cubeAs a mother, I wondered if the math and programming is just what he is good at, or is this something he loves… is he passionate about it? Then his current math teacher Courtney Baker, emails me an image of his work where he figured out the volume of a box before he is taught the formula. He is able to problem solve how to determine the volume without being taught it. Was the strategy most efficient? No, that is what the formula provides. However, he determined how to get there, much like the original mathematician who determined the formula.

A few weeks later, after many afternoons after school spending time in the same teacher’s flex space of her classroom, trying, trouble shooting and fine tuning he programmed a “Dash and Dot” to do a behavior that was inspired by a “YouTube Video.” It was a complete synthesis and redesign of a pop-culture social media sensation transferred to a computer programmed technology device.

Once again, God gave me a window. I never doubt Kritterman’s resolve. He knows himself and his strengths. When he successfully combined the programming of the “Dash and Dot” with the influence of a “viral” YouTube with his own twist of humor, I saw how limitless his future will be. Who knows, one day he may be flying in deep space, programming computers and sharing via video with his own twist of humor using the knowledge he gained both now and through the completion of a dual major in Computer Science Engineering and Film Production.

 

It is exciting as a parent to see your children pursue their passions, it is even more exciting to be given a brief window into what the future may hold for them. It is very possible their future may look very different from what it appears it could be right now. I may have a passionate future Secondary Choir Director and future Computer Programmer/Film Producer on his way to Infinity and Beyond. It is fun to think of the possibility and at the same time I am enjoying the present and the joy in both their faces as they both fully invest in the joy of living and learning. I love it when God gives us a window and allows us to capture these moments, much like Mary who “pondered these things in her heart.”

 

 

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