I waited to post the back to school stories because frankly I was both physically and emotionally worn out. I hope that with August behind us, I can recharge a little and try to get things back to normal around here.
The first day of school this year was way early. The kids started August 19th, and boy were they excited. Ashton finally got to eat lunch at the school, and man did he think he was cool. Ethan is in the fifth grade now, and that means that he is the top dog at the school. I can't believe that he will be in middle school next year. Averie doesn't start her "pretty" school until the second week of September, so keeping her busy has been a little bit of a chore, but I have really enjoyed having so much time with just her.
It's funny, I can remember very clearly my fifth grade year, and parts of my first grade year. I remember thinking that my parents had all the answers, and that they totally knew what they were doing...I WAS DUPED! I had no idea that they were just guessing at all of the parenting stuff. No wonder we use to get away with so much. Spencer and I played on the train tracks, we went to the store that was down the street, across the tracks, and across another busy street when we were just 6 and 8, and we witnessed a huge fight between two neighbors over one of the neighbors husbands.
So, here is the lesson that I have learned...FAKE IT! They will never know or suspect that you don't know what you are doing as long as you are confident.
Ashton in his rock and roll shirt with a tie, and not to forget his sweet leather jacket.
My cutie pie Ethan, wearing his staple brown hoodie (that is destined for the DI pile), and a cool purple skater shirt, BIG cowboy belt buckle, carpenter pants, and cowboy boots. He's starting a new trend combining skater punk, with urban cowboy. Still thinking of a name for that one.
I can't believe that it has been one year since my love went to our Father in Heaven. I don't have the words to describe the pain, the loneliness, the loss, and the terror of the last year. But what I can describe is the love, the blessings, the service, and the friendship that we have had this last year. I would rather concentrate on the good anyway.
So many people have said to me, "I don't know how you are doing it, it is my worst nightmare!" My simple answer, "I do it solely through our Savior, Jesus Christ!" From the minute the doorbell rang one year ago, I knew that my life was about to change very drastically, and I also knew that I had to put myself in the Lords hands.
I felt John's spirit so strong this last year. I knew that Heavenly Father would never take a father and a husband away without providing a way for him to watch out for, and protect his family. After all, that is the plan. People have said, "I wonder what John is doing now?" "I bet he is teaching many people." I felt very strongly that his mission right now is his family. I still feel that. There are times that I know he is watching his little princess and smiling. There are time that he is with Ethan as he zips around on his dirtbike. There are time that I see him put his arms around his little Ashton, when he is having a hard time. And there are definately times that he holds me as I fall to sleep.
The Father in Heaven that I know is kind, loving, and concerned for us. He knows that the road ahead is difficult for us, so he gives us the tools that we need to face those challenges. He allows the father to continue to be a huge part of his families lives, because that is why we are here. Family is the reason for all that we do in this life. I am forever grateful that I have an eternal family, and that my sweetheart will be waiting for me. Oh the reunion that will be.
Well, it was a shining success. Months of planning. Lots of laughter. A surprising amount of stress. Lack of sleep. It was a wonderful day.
I can't thank Chris Hislop, Bill Wiser, Logan Kashanipour, and Sam Foster enough. They graciously let me tag along, and even listened to my input in the organization of this four mile run. I also have to thank the many sponsors, participants, and those who donated both time, and/or money. Wow, what a wonderful community we live in.
Maybe I'll give a little back story to the reason we did a four mile run instead of a regular 5k. There were four focus employees who lost their lives in the plane crash. We decided that we would like to run one mile for each of them.
For everyone who has lost a loved one, you know that there is no such thing as moving on. I am still taken back by people who tell me that I need to move on. How do I move on? YOU move on! Am I just supposed to flip a switch, and the man that I love with every ounce of my being is just erased? I have an eternal bond with him, I can't just forget him.
My dear friend came over this week and helped me pack up some of his things. How wonderful to have true friends. Friends that you don't have to hold back emotions from. Friends who listen, and try to understand, even when they don't totally get it. (and I hope they never have to be in a position to get it.) Friends who give up their own time to take care of you when you aren't able to take care of yourself.
It seems that friendships are tested the most when a dire situation arises. It is then that you know who you can really count on. I have, by what I can only describe as an act of God, ended up with a truly amazing group of friends. These people have been there no matter what. They haven't been scared away by sadness or pain, they haven't been put off by exhaustion. They have gladly lent their love, strength, time, and service without ever having thought of repayment. How can there ever be a more perfect act of Christ-like love? I can only hope to be but a portion of what was given to me.
I have found myself really in a bad place today. I have been in tears most of the day. I have wondered why this happened to us. I have questioned every decision that we made for the last several years. I have wished I could take it all back, and start over. This is a dark place that I have never let myself go to before today. Nothing good can come from these thoughts. There is a song that says, "When your mind breaks the spirit of your soul, you're in ruins." How true is that statement. I sat down to the computer to hash out some of my thoughts, and I was surprised that what came out was my love and appreciation for my friends. I have learned in these few short minutes that, no matter what happens in our lives, Heavenly Father surrounds us with lifeguards to save us from our own thoughts. These earthly angels are here to ground us, to make us see what is really important, and to remind us that life really is worth living, even when it's hard.
Thank you to all my wonderful friends, and loving angels.
Ethan and I have been asked several times about the pictures we won first place on in the fair, so here are the winners.
Ethan did the top picture of the barn, Elvis the Rooster (Sweepstakes winner), and Averie in the wall of flowers. (Recommended to go to the State Fair)
The rest are mine. The pictures are pretty fun, but the memories are much more fun. It's hard to complain when you live around so much beauty. Beauty of the world around us, and beauty of the character of those whom we associate. What a blessed life we live.
As you know, this sweet little creature to the left is public enemy number 1. Chicken Chet. (dun dun dun) With the Morgan County Fair came certain opportunities. Opportunity number one...
Ethan got to join 4-H and raise a lamb. This was all thanks to some wonderful friends of ours, Tim and Jodi Rankin. They furnished the lamb, the feed, and all the advice and help that Ethan would need to make this an amazing experience for him. Everyone was worried about the auction because of the economy, but thanks to loving family members, Ethan's lamb went for $900.00. Thank you Kent and Cindy!
Number two. The Fair give us the ability to show off our talents in other areas like crafting, photography, dance, and raising livestock. This picture of Elvis the chicken was a sweepstakes winner. Ethan took the picture, and also entered the chicken himself in the fair and was given a blue ribbon. He entered 3 pictures in all, all winning blue ribbons. One was sweepstakes, and one was suggested to enter into the state fair. (The kid was golden this week, nothing could touch him. Every single thing he entered or did, turned out perfect. I think there was a handsome angle looking out for him) Averie got to dance, and she put a few little thing she made into the fair. Ashton entered his derby car, and rode a dirt bike. Dreams come true at the fair.
Third, Henifer Lopez here was entered into the fair by my niece Savana. I think she is, how can we say it nicely...She has a sweet spirit. I told Savana to grab one of the shiny, pretty black hens, but she had chased this one down and didn't want to catch another one. Low and behold, Henifer Lopez was a blue ribbon bird! I don't know what they were judging on, maybe she was just bootylicious.
Fourth, It's a wonderful opportunity for me to see my sweet little boy dress like a cowboy (by the way, I don't approve) and paste on the most cheesy smile I have yet witnessed.
Finally, Chicken Chet is no more!!! I talked to the lady who was working in the poultry house, and I was telling her what a little demon this itty bitty guy was. She said, "Well that's because he is the original fighting cock breed." Why the heck is he at my house then? She said, just put for sale on his cage. HELLO!!!! What a fantastic idea. So Chicken Chet is terrorizing another family, or is in soup somewhere else, and that is nothing but fantastic.
This is the story of one woman's navigation through grief following the loss of her true love, and husband of almost eleven years. Questions of who am I now, questions of how to raise the kids alone, and leaning how to live again will be confronted, hopefully in a positive and meaningful light.