Friday, October 28, 2016

The Pause

There's a bend in a road I travel occasionally that takes me back to when Tim and I were first dating. Whenever I drive it, no matter the weather, I roll the windows down and remember what the breeze felt like all those years ago.  Riding on his motorcycle, my arms around his waist, nestled up to his strong back, there was a warm safety that continues to do this day.

Back then, young and full of dreams, I would envision our life together.  Thinking of our future always filled with me happiness and I couldn't wait to be his wife.  Being with him then, wind in my hair, our love felt carefree and that's how I imagined our marriage would be.

Twenty-some-odd years later, there has been much joy and days upon days of happiness, but there has also been loss and heartache, sickness and pain.  I don't know a marriage that doesn't have a mixture of it all.

Last Saturday night, I was stewing a bit and not feeling the hearts and butterflies of that young love.  Tim had been an absolute grump and was not my favorite person.  And even though I more than a little frustrated with him, I sat thinking about how often little hiccups like ours send some couples right apart.  Maybe it is because we've endured most of life's big ones, but I just don't understand how easy it is for marriages to simply end.  So often I see emotions dictate permanent decisions.  It saddens me to see others fall "out of love" faster than they fell in, as I don't know how that's possible.

Maybe I'm extra sappy from the week's experiences, but Tim is my person.  My best friend.  My soul mate.  And I can't imagine life without him.  

Almost exactly a week ago, I wrote about prayer.  Little did I know that God was preparing my heart for a storm.  While my mind was heavy with the needs of others, I neglected to see those of my husband.  

After over twenty years together, I should've seen his grumpiness last weekend for what it was.  My husband was not well.

I went to bed in tears Saturday for his attitude and awoke in tears for his safety.  Waking for church, I finally noticed signs that something wasn't right.  Struggling for nearly every breath, we locked eyes and he admitted what I saw.  Hearing him ask to go to doctor, while clutching his chest, is a snapshot in time I'd soon forget.  Though I remained calm, there were pieces of me breaking inside, as they
they took him back for tests in the ER.  

Sitting with my back to the same shared wall that I said goodbye to my son in eight years ago, I questioned my peace.  Was I dreaming?  Was I really back here?  For awhile, it was as if I had a foot in both places, remembering my screams that November night and quietly petitioning for Tim's healing in the room I now waited.

To date, we still don't have answers and he is still struggling.  We spent a long night in the hospital with every test coming back normal.  While I am grateful, it is hard to watch the love of your life hurting, uncertain, and not being able to do anything but pray.

As such, I've spent a lot of time at His feet this week.  

At one point in the hospital, my body so physically tired from watching over Tim and mind racing with prayers, I just mentally imagined myself there.  I didn't know what else to say, what other prayer to offer, so I simply said, "I'm here, Jesus....I'm here."

Often in this life, we don't get the answers we're looking for and sometimes we have to wait.  Neither are easy but I trust in His timing.  And I'm listening to what He's trying to teach me in the pause.  

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Pray, Pray, Pray

Pray without ceasing.....

is among one of the first scriptures I recall memorizing as an adult that had great meaning for me.  I found this verse after our wreck and it became my daily mantra.

Be JOYFUL always, pray continually, 
give thanks in all circumstances for this is God's will for you.  1 Thes 5:16-18 

In the midst of the chaos from the wreck, moments after the crash, I remember praying both audibly and internally for God to help us.  As the pain increased and my consciousness drifted, my prayers began to decrease until they were unintelligible moans.  But I knew God heard me.

I came upon this scripture one day, while confined to a hospital bed, and it stirred within me.  It gave me such comfort, such drive and purpose that I wrote it out and stuck in in various parts of the house.  Those index cards reminded and pushed me forward.  As I made the painful, but joyful, progress to be back behind the wheel, that index card went with me, attached to my sun visor.  Though I was healing, I didn't want to forget the lessons learned on my journey.  The biggest of which was to pray continually.

This revelation changed my prayer life.  Of course, in the beginning, my prayers were self-centered.  I needed help, healing and recovery.  Most days, my prayers did begin with my needs.  But over time this constant "telephone line to God" became much more.  I realized that prayers were not just in times of need, nor were they to be done only at meals and bedtime.  God desired to have my connection all the time.

Never stop praying...

Because of this strengthening in our relationship, I began to seek him frequently for others.  

Prior to the wreck, I had joined the fire department, and though responding was delayed due to my injuries, once back in the field, I found my greatest purpose on the scene was to pray.  As soon as tones would call us out, I began lifting up prayers for scene we would face.  Kneeling beside someone to do early medical care, I was whispering prayers with every movement.  Holding back loved or little ones from a trauma or fire, praying internally made me feel I was helping them even more.  

Pray without ceasing...

When we lost Austin, I remember prayers were the first utterances I made.  From the moment they placed me in a car to follow the ambulance up until I mustered the strength to enter his room and face the worst news of my life, all I did was pray.  

Never in my life had I prayed a more constant and continual prayer.  Again, I remember that at times my prayers were simply spiritual moans.  I was comforted in knowing the scripture...but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.

Through this child loss journey we've said prayers beyond counting, for ourselves, our son, our family, and others.  

To this day what touches me is the number of prayers that were -and still are- said on our behalf.  People I've never met, strangers, acquaintances prayed for us.  Friends who continue to share that they pray, even eight years later.  It is most certainly, without question, what has helped us survive.

And so we do the same for others, those who walk this same dark path.  Because I know prayers are the only thing that lights it enough you can see to move forward.

Continually, pray...

In the position I'm in at work, I consider it a great honor for God to have placed me in these families lives.  It is a privilege to pray for them and I do so regularly, usually on the way and leaving their homes.  Some mothers, knowing my faith, even text outside our normal visits asking for prayer.  

Lately, given the state of this world, our upcoming election and the state of our nation, turmoil within my family lines, and so many struggles I see and hear daily, I feel the urge to be in nearly constant prayer.  Often "pray without ceasing," will whisper across my soul.  

Sometimes, the amount of those in need of prayer overwhelms me.  How can I?  Where to begin?  What if I leave someone off this never-ending list?  Who first?  

Then God reminds me, "Lay it at my feet.  I have this.  And you.

Having a constant line of prayer isn't meant to be stressful, but instead a source of peace.  Our burdens can't outweigh the power of God and they will never be too much for Him to carry.  

So, when your prayers become a source of stress, remember the beginning phrase of this scripture...
Be JOYFUL always.  Even when troubled in prayer.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Transformation Tuesday

This past weekend we had family photos taken and I am seriously in love with them.  Maybe because it has been so long since we've done it (5 years).  Or maybe because I'm pausing to remember every morsel and milestone as Noah is on the countdown to graduation.  Or maybe because the photographer was super special and captured JOY in the photos.

I shared about our experience today, on my monthly post at Still Standing Magazine.  You can read more about it here.

In the meantime, how about the transformation...
What a difference five years makes.




Mom & Son...

Dad & Son...


Friday, October 14, 2016

Fall Break Recap

How I miss those long blissful school breaks with the boys when they were little.  Every spring and fall, whether we went anywhere or not, I would always take off the entire week to be with them.  Fall was my favorite - still is - and I could hardly wait for the vacation each October.

As the years go by, it gets harder to schedule time off, or rather coordinate everyone's when you have a teen who also works.  Though I took a couple days off, in anticipation and hopes we could get away, life did not cooperate.  But, as we Blair's do, we pulled up our bootstraps and made the most of it.

I was determined to carve out some type of fun last weekend so we crammed what we could into those days.  It took some creativity and planning, as Noah worked Saturday night and Tim Sunday but we managed and made some sweet memories in the mix.

cheers - Brain sandwiches!
Saturday we awoke early and headed to our now annual trip, the Nut Club Festival.  If you remember from last year's post, it was our first for me and Noah.  This year, we took Tim along for the all-you-can-eat feast.

Our fave food this year was the meatball sliders.  #Best.meatball.ever

Noah was thrilled to find a booth serving okonomiyaki. The cook even more impressed he knew the actual name of the dish.  They called them banzai pies.

Last year we were spontaneous, this year we strategized.  Not sure which way I enjoyed more.  Next year we plan to visit and eat what speaks to us, since we've pretty much tried it all now.

Tim's not as adventurous as we are but it was fun watching his expressions of horror as we nibbled on brain sandwiches and other weird foods.  Somehow Noah got Tim to take a bite and I managed to capture his face of disgust.  We enjoyed them though and it will certainly be our first stop in years to come.

We had enough time left Saturday to swing by my nephew's 2nd birthday party.  He's such a cutie and we enjoyed watching him run around chasing balloons, yelling at us to stop singing to him, and screaming for more choc-ate!

This was one of my favorite pics, snapped of Kaiden and his great Grandma.
So much sweetness...

Sunday we opted to play hooky from church and soak up a bit more "fall break" by sleeping in, watching a matinee (even opting for the big popcorn) and having appetizers for dinner.  Though we were less than an hour from home, it felt like a vacation day, as those are all splurges we don't normally do.

pumpkin pickin'

Though I took off Monday, both the guys had to work, but we had time to squeeze in a sushi "mom & me" date before Noah's shift.  Tim slept right through our excursion but, given that he despises rice, I don't think he minded.

As I went back to work Tuesday, Noah enjoyed his day off by having a friend over for a sleep-over and xbox marathon.  One of my favorite sounds is laughter from his room with a buddy.  Really anytime I catch him just being a kid is a delight.

Today was my typical Friday off, so I did get to spend extra time with boy before he returns to school.  Though most of our time was spent running errands, being with him made it fun.  We shared many a belly laugh, I introduced him to Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, Elvira and sorghum molasses, and of course, a yummy lunch was had together.  

It wasn't a luxurious trip, no sandy beaches or touristy destinations were explored, but I'm rather thankful for the bookend break we shared.   Any moment spent with family is always a precious gift.

How did you spend your fall break...or plan to?

Friday, October 7, 2016

Fabulous Fall

Driving home just now, I became teary, lifting up prayers of gratitude.  The prayer was for nothing special or big but instead something quite simple.  Or rather, many things.

It's only past lunch but it has been a truly beautiful, wonderful fall day.  Everyday, normal moments I feel extremely blessed to have had.

the seasons are "kissing" as summer meets fall at the house
Watching my son bounce off happily to school, earlier than normal so he could get a good parking spot for "Fun Day."  

Morning coffee with my hubby.  

Running errands in the sunshine, taking in the changing trees and blue autumn skies.  

Sneaking in a treat of a pedicure...purple toes. 

 And...yellow mums!

Yes, I chuckled aloud as I thanked God for yellow mums.  But then, he is the One who created them.  And I kinda think He takes pleasure when we show gratitude in the little things.

More than anything, I like to imagine that He is filled with joy when we are - and we pause to also be thankful for the experience.  I know that when my children showed joy and gratitude in the moment, it always overflowed me with the same emotions.

And on the opposite side, when they whined and complained, I was clouded with a whole different set of feelings.  So I would guess God shares the same sentiment.  How often we grumble and moan about things that really aren't that big in perspective.  I'm sure we're all guilty of having those pity parties.

Yet I see families struggle weekly with troubles that would knock most people flat out and yet they still go on, with their head high, and those around them aren't even aware of what they face.  Many prayers are said for families like these, or those struggling with illness, loss.  My heart has also been tugged toward the south, watching the mighty destruction of Hurricane Matthew.  When you compare your issues to something of that magnitude, it really helps change your outlook.

In my experience, focusing on what you have to be thankful for always adds happiness.

We've had our share of sorrow, but we also have had seasons of singing and JOY.  And I'm ever-grateful for this glorious season I'm basking in today.

What are you thankful for in this moment?  I'd love to hear from you!

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