"May the God of hope fill you with great joy and peace as you trust in him." Romans 15:13

Saturday, May 28, 2016


Jamison set many goals for this his senior year of high school.  Most of which I do not know.  But one that he shared with me was that he wanted to end the year with no regrets.  That is a difficult goal.  It is also a very wise one.

I have watched him make choices many times this year to support this goal - but perhaps none illustrate it as clearly as his track season.

After a phenomenal end to his cross country season and signing to run at U Mary next year, Jamison expected to have an equally phenomenal track season.  He hoped to qualify for state in the mile, 2 mile. 800, and the 3200 relay.  Those seemed like tough, yet attainable goals. . . in November.

BUT. . . as the winter turned to spring, he could no longer deny that the pain he had been experiencing in his shins was not something he could train through.  After some PT, some rest, some more PT, and some more rest he had an MRI which revealed significant stress reactions in both shins.  The "sentence" was that he would need to be off his legs for half of his senior season.  He could bike and swim to keep up his cardio conditioning - but NO running.

He swallowed that verdict like a champ.  He got up before the birds to work out before school AND then attended practices to help coach and support his teammates.

When he was FINALLY able to run, he was so happy.

BUT 10 days into running, he could tell he was not healed.  The pain was returning and worsening day by day.  Now what?!? We all debated.

He spoke with his PT, his coach, his PT, and his coach.  Finally I just asked him, "Jay.  What do you want to do?" He said, "Race."

He did not say he wanted to race thinking this problem would magically go away.  He said "race" to live up to his no regrets goal.  He knew racing would hurt.  He knew racing may make the injury worse.  He knew he could have to red shirt his first year of college if he chose to race instead of rest.  But he also knew he would NEVER have another chance to race as a Patriot, and he decided that racing wounded was better than not racing at all.  He was SAD and MAD and many other things, however he chose to give all that he had to give and trust God with the rest.

When I told him, "If you want to race.  You will race.  Do I need to call your coach and tell him to let you run?"  It was HARD.  I like safe.  I like control.  I do not like pain.  Especially for my kids.  HOWEVER - this was not about me, so I swallowed every "are you sure" I was tempted to voice and instead told him that I would support his decision with everything in me, while also reminding him that his racing does not make me more or less proud of him.  I wanted him to have what he wanted and needed, period.

He only raced about 5 times this season.  And his races were admirable.  They were respectable - but they were not awesome.  He persevered, and while that is a HUGE accomplishment - especially when done with the incredible attitude that Jamison had - perseverance stinks. (Amen?!?)

At the regional meet, his relay team was able to qualify for the state meet.  That was awesome, but did not assure he would run.  All week we waited to see if he would run or not.  All week his coach debated.  When I wanted to call or text his coach and say, "Come on.  THIS kid has given his whole heart to you for four years, just let him run!" I kept silent, knowing Coach loves Jamison nearly as much as I do while praying for his wisdom.

Thursday evening Jamison got the official nod.  He would run in the meet.

He was thrilled.  I was too.  I was also terrified.

Terrified is where I go when my kids need to lay their hearts on the line.  And I knew Jamison would have to lay his heart on the line in order to race in a way that would make him smile for years to come.  Racing is always risky.  Racing on a relay team - hurt - is my idea of a nightmare.  (Have I mentioned I am NOT an athlete!)  Not only did he need to run well for him - but also for three other guys.  I spent all of Friday teary with pride, gratitude, and trepidation.

I finally texted a good friend and also Jamison's godmother asking them to pray.  I asked them to pray that Jamison would feel proud of his performance.  That he would run without fear, leaving his very heart on the track.  And that when the race was complete, that the entire team would be thankful that he was chosen to run.

I did not know it when I sent the text but his godmother was sitting in the stands - right across the track from me.  And my bestie was watching the clock to pray exactly as he ran.

When the race started I was a mess, and Sierra was sobbing next to me.  It was not pretty, but it was beautiful.  We were standing at the start/finish line.  I have never watched a race from that angle - but on this his final high school race I wanted to be close.  I wanted to either share in his joy or in his pain, depending on how the race went.  I just wanted to be as close to my man-son as I could.  I also wanted photos of the finish because I had never taken any from that angle.

Jamison ran anchor.  I don't remember him EVER running anchor before.  It was a super exciting race.

 Teammate #1 ran the fastest split of his life and the team was leading the race.  (They were ranked fourth.)
Teammate #2 has been one of Jamison's best friends since freshman year.  He, too, ran a crazy fast split and handed off the baton in first place.
Teammate #3 ran another amazing split.  They were no longer in first when the baton was handed to Jamison, but they were in the top three.
And there goes my son.

He ran a great first lap (4X800 relay) - but along the backstretch of the second lap he let a couple guys pass him.  At that point he had a choice, accept it OR dig deeper than he knew he could dig and race his heart out.  While we screamed and cried, he chose to gut it out.  He dug so very deep and moved back from sixth place into. . .


(I know, looks like first because of the close up shots.)
 Oh, my heart.  I wish I had video of these boys coming together.  Jamison had the biggest smile on his exhausted face as they circled in a celebratory hug.  It was such an incredible moment.

In the end, it was more incredible than I realized in that moment.  You see, these boys ran so fast they took 10 seconds off their qualifying time.  They ALL ran PRs.  AND their time is the sixth fastest in CHS history.

God is so good y'all

Though many of Jamison's goals were not met, God surprised him and allowed him to have one dream come unexpectedly true.  Jay had hoped and dreamed of being on his high school's top 10 all time best list in one of his events.  It never occurred to ANY of us that this team could accomplish that.  We were hoping they could pull off fourth and hold true to their ranking.  That, we thought, would be a good showing because it was not these four who had set that time but a different combination of runners.  


God said, give me your tired, your wounds, your trust (and the fervent prayers of your momma's friends). . . and I will bless it.  More than you could ever expect.  Or plan.  Or even imagine.

 While I will never have the grit of an athlete, I have learned so very much watching my son race.  It takes so much courage to race.  Sure it takes talent and training and strategy, but that is the "easy" part.  The hard part is the courage.  The courage to push through pain and doubt and injury and heat and all the other obstacles that come along, to dig deeper than you knew you could dig, and GO FOR IT despite the odds, so that you can look back without a single regret.

If Jamison could change this season, I am certain he would.  He would never choose to be hurt.  However, I pray lessons of this season will serve him well.  I pray that he will remember all that he learned about perseverance.  All he learned about digging deep.  All he learned about choosing fearless living, always.  May the victory of this race serve him well as he goes on in this long race of life.

I am beyond thankful that God gave Jamison the strength and courage to race so well yesterday.  To Him be the glory.

To add a whole bunch of icing and a scoop of ice cream to the cake (so to speak)  his high school won the state meet for the second year in a row.  He is pictured above with the distance crew.   They have become his second family, and I am immensely proud of each one of these smiling faces.  May God continue to bless this crew as the run the race He puts before them.

(Another crazy blessing on this day was these photos.  While I placed myself in position to take these exact photos, I noticed mid-race that I had failed to put my memory card into my camera.  I grabbed my cell phone and snapped one picture of the finish and one picture of the group hug.  My finish pic was OK.  My group hug pic was all fuzzy.  I was shaking way too hard to hold my phone still enough for a photo.  However, God had my back.  Jamison found these photos on the state meet website and sent them to me.  Can you even believe it?!?  I am so feeling the goodness and mercy of the Lord today.  Thank you, Jesus.)

Saturday, May 21, 2016

A Week of Endings

It was a week of endings.

 On Monday, Brenna had her final choir concert for the year.

She was in both concert and show choirs.  She sings mostly alto and loves it!
The final concert was all pop songs.  We all enjoyed it - but Mataya LOVED it!  She danced up a storm while the kids sang!

On Tuesday, Brenna had her final track meet.
Track meets with little people are busy occasions.  We have learned to cheer from "the hill" at the Bowl rather than from the stands.  This way Mataya and Wyatt can wiggle happily while we watch.

 This was Brenna's first official track season.  She decided to run hurdles.  She improved each week.  At this, her final meet, she placed for the first time.  Watching her work hard and improve was very exciting!

Also on Tuesday night, Sierra had her final choir concert.
Mataya was not overly cooperative at this event, so I did not get any pictures.  However, I do have pictures of the awards Sierra received.
 Sierra is a very talented musician and vocalist - but she does not plan to be a part of the high school choir in the future.  There are many medical related courses and advanced sciences that she thinks would be wiser to fill up her class schedule.  I understand, and support her decision, while also encouraging her to continue using her musical gifts in some manner.  She is teaching herself to play the guitar.  Some of my favorite evenings are when she sits in the loft playing and singing, especially on those nights when Brenna joins in her and they harmonize together.

(In the midst of all the crazy, Mataya officially ended her days in diapers.  She is potty trained!)

On Thursday, Brenna performed in her final band concert for the year.

Brenna plays the flute beautifully.  She is first chair in her band and enjoys every minute spent playing.

On Friday, we made our final road trip to watch Jamison run as a Patriot.

He has had a rough season.  He has stress reactions in both of his legs (shin area).  He took the time off that the doctor suggested, while working hard in the pool and on a bike to keep in shape.  When he began racing, over half of the season was behind him.  He was in good shape - but swimming and running are not the same.  And then after about 10 days on his legs, he could tell that they were not healed.  The pain was back.  BUT - it's his senior year.  There is not a next year this time.  So, when he old us he wanted to race, hurt or not hurt, we told him to go for it.

On a side note here, that "go for it" was hard on me.  Everything in me wanted to protect him from pain and further injury.  I am not an athlete, and I do not think like an athlete.  I totally respected his decision to give it his best shot.  I completely admire his perseverance.  I am in awe of his grit.  He never once complained, he just pushed through.  He was certainly sad and disappointed - but he chose to make the best of each race, each practice, each moment with his team, rather than whining and feeling sorry for himself.  He is a man I admire.  BUT - watching him race, knowing he was giving 100% of his heart while his body could only give about 60% (or something like that) was both awe-inspiring and heart breaking.  His final races as  Patriot would have been emotional for me no matter what, but this injury bound season made it that much harder.  I just wanted him to be able to RUN.

I explained my sadness to a friend and she responded, "I understand the bittersweet.  I also understand the difficulty in watching your children fight through pain, be it physical or emotional.  The blessing in that he IS fighting.  May his perseverance serve him well in years to come when the hard of life comes again.  He will have already experienced and know that he can fight through it."

So with her wisdom raining peace onto my heart, I settled in to watch him race.
 His first event was the 4X800 relay.

He ran the opening leg.

 He ran a very respectable time of 2.05 and put the team in a position to qualify for the state meet.

 Three other runners later, the team won the race, and WITH a state qualifying time.

The school has one other relay team qualified for the state meet.  They can only send one team, so Jamison may or may not run at state - BUT he did qualify!  Though many of his goals for this season are left for him to chase after in college, God enabled this one to be met.

I praise Him for his faithfulness.
 Our little ball of energy is settled in to color for a few minutes in the photo above.  She also ran races with bigger kids, climbed up and down the bleachers, ate a ton of popcorn, and went potty about 20 times during this event.  She was all smiles through it all, charming everyone around us.  And although she was having a blast playing with some "buddies" she had discovered, she paused from her play to watch Jamison run his final event.  She stood by my side as I took pictures yelling, "Go Go Jay-man! Go!  WHOOO"
 The only other event Jamison ran yesterday was the open 800.

It was not the race of his dreams.  BUT - he raced.

When he came up into he stands after the race, he said, "that was rough."  And I told him, "I am so proud of you Jamison."

And I am.

The verse he chose as a middle school runner is Phil 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."

Throughout all the years I have watched him run, those words have been tested.  Through Christ's strength, he has run some great races and set many personal records.  Through Christ's strength, he has been a team leader and a good friend.  Through Christ's strength, he has overcome some mental battles.  Through Christ's strength, he has raced on wounded legs.

He has learned and grown so much in the years.

Through Christ's strength.

May He be glorified as my son continues his quest in running and in life.
And may my son always remember that it is by Christ's strength that he can do all things.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

My Groom

While I always count my marriage as a blessing, many days it is something I take for granted.  It all becomes routine.  The endless talk of work and kids.  The shuffling of responsibilities.  Can you pick up Brenna or should I?  What would you like for supper?  How was your day?  Do you need anything from Walmart when I stop today?  Quick kisses good-bye as we rush to and from.

In these last weeks, as my world was changing, tilting, quaking, and shaking in such dramatic and unexpected ways, my marriage - my husband - has been the earthly glue that held me together.  His unlimited support allowed me to live the past month with no regrets.  When I called him (repeatedly) and said, "I feel like I HAVE to go and be with my family. . ." he supported me 100% every single time.  He never asked, "What about work or the kids or Wyatt or the wedding. . ."  He just said, "Go."

My going was totally inconvenient for him.  Sure, we had many people helping us, but even with help, he bore a burden with our office and family that we normally share.  He bought groceries, something I don't think he has done more than 2-3 times in the history of our family.  He brought our very energetic toddler with him to work.  He cleaned house.  He held me while I cried.  He let me sleep late because he knew I was exhausted. . . even though he had been manning the fort on his own and really needed a break himself.

On the day this photo was taken, Krissy's wedding day, Chad knew more than anyone how much I was struggling.  He rubbed my back until I fell asleep the night before the wedding. Throughout Krissy's wedding day, he knew I hid in the bathroom off and on to breathe deep and collect myself.  He made sure I ate.  He wrapped his arm around me and held me close at all the right times.  He understood the moments I was detached.  He understood the moments I was clingy.  He understood. . .

And after the heart ache of losing both of my grandparents only 14 days a part, along with the joy and excitement and stress of planning and celebrating the marriage of our daughter in the middle of it all. . . on the day I was to return to the office, he insisted on one more day off.  A day to relax.  Decompress.  Rest.  Rejuvenate.  Rather than worrying about tasks, he chose relationship.  Our relationship.  My sanity.  And gifted us with an afternoon on the water.

 I am so thankful that when life gets tough, really tough - Chad digs deep.  He becomes a strong base for me, for our family - holding us all together.  Though we no longer resemble our own wedding photo very much, he will forever be my groom.  The promises we made that day have been kept.  They have deepened, strengthened, and grown.  It has not happen out of coincidence.  It has happened one selfless decision at a time.

Love is much more a choice than a feeling.  I am so very grateful that Chad chooses to love and to serve.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Missing Him

My Grandfather has been a resident of heaven for 8 days.

And I miss him more than I had imagined I would.

I miss my Grandpa in the daily mundane things.  He loved to text, so when I thought of him, I would shoot him a quick text.  I mostly sent photos with quick captions.  I miss sharing my life with him in this simple way.  So often I think, Grandpa would love this, only to remember he is no longer here to share it with.

Grandpa loved my kids.  He adored my husband.  He loved construction.  He loved nature.  We had much in common.

Here are a few photos I wish I could send my grandpa.

 When I was mowing this week, I spotted this robin's nest.  Grandpa would have loved this sneak peak.  He always patiently told me which bird was which when we sat in his front yard and watched them eating from his feeders.
 Chad put together a play area for the little ones (with a lot of help from Brenna).  Had it been possible I would have sent Grandpa this before shot and said, "Bet you are not jealous of Chad today!  He has to turn this pile of lumber into a swingset."
 This would have been captioned, "Progress!"
 "It is finished!!!"
 "The kids approve!"

Had it been possible I would have sent him this photo hoping he would share it with grandma.  They had beautiful flower gardens.  Until grandpa retired they were all grandma's, but grandpa had enjoyed working in them as well the last few years.  They both delighted in my kids running through their flowers.  They would have been happy seeing Mataya admiring flowers that I have grown.

There were many things I admired about my grandpa:
-he always had time to talk and to listen
-he loved to laugh and joke
-he was intelligent and always learning - he had a laptop, smartphone, and tablet and he was not afraid to use them!
-he was a kind and thoughtful father - he texted each of his kids every morning
-he was patient and gentle
-he loved to go to church and helped with many church and community projects
-he remembered everything

My grandfather was born, raised, and died on the same farmyard.  It was land his family homesteaded.  He took great pride in his land.

I was very blessed to be able to spend some very precious days with my grandfather during his last two weeks on earth.  With the support of Chad and my awesome mother-in-law, I was able to spend several days with him at the hospital.  I was also able to be there the day he was moved home, and I was able to be there for one 24 hour shift the day before he died.

Though it was a crazy time - Krissy's wedding was that very same week - those moments at my grandpa's side were very important to me.  I am so very thankful that I was there. 

I will always, always remember walking into his room on Monday, greeting him, and he asking me, "Where is my hug?"  I am so thankful I was there to give and receive that hug.

He lingered his last few days.  He seemed to be more unconscious than conscious - but he would surprise us with his awareness.  For example, he asked me in the middle of the night where Robin, my aunt, had gone.  I did not know he was conscious enough to know Robin had stopped to visit.  The night I spent with him, he was getting meds every hour.  He was very weak and very uncomfortable.  Watching and learning how to help reposition him was humbling.  My grandpa, who had always been strong and capable, was so very weak.  But in his weakness, he was kind and patient.  And my momma was an amazing warrior and advocate.  I have never, ever been as proud of my momma as I was watching her care for her daddy in his last days.  She loved him with a tenderness and respect that taught me so very much.  My dad was totally amazing as well,  They gave him the gift of dignity even when he was too weak to speak.  They anticipated his every need and met each one to the best of their ability

When it was time for me to leave him and go home to marry off my girl, I was heartbroken.  Heaven was where he belonged, but saying good-bye is so hard for those of us left behind.  I sobbed in the bathroom and then headed to his bedside to say a final good-bye.

I remember grabbing his hand.  My mom and my aunt Robin sat close to him on the opposite side of his bed.  He was in his office, his favorite room in the house, laying in a hospital bed that hospice had supplied.  He appeared unconscious, but I knew he was listening from some far off spot.  And I knew I was being given a very precious gift - a time to say one final good-bye to a man meant the world to me.

I had rehearsed the words in my head all day long because I did not want to sob.  I wanted to grieve in private and not put the burden of my loss on his shoulders.  I leaned in close and said, "Grandpa, I have to head home now.  I want you to know that I love you.  And I am going to miss you, Grandpa.  It will never be the same without you - but I want you to know that we will be OK.  When you are ready, go find Jesus and Grandma.  They are waiting Grandpa."  And then I kissed his forehead one last time while telling him I loved him.

I left in a puddle of tears and stopped at the cemetery to visit Grandma's grave.  I remember crying and praying the whole drive home. . .

Less than 24 hours later, Grandpa joined Grandma and Jesus and Robert and so many others in heaven.  

24 hours after that, Chad walked our daughter down the aisle.

Like Grandma, Grandpa taught me many things. He answered my endless questions about farming, gardening, wildlife, and family history.  He always had a smile and a story to share in response. I loved to sit and talk with him.

I think the most influential thing he ever told me was this. . .

After Chad and I got settled in our current home, I wanted to plant trees.  I asked Grandpa many questions about what trees to plant and when to plant them.  I kept dragging my feet because I didn't want to make a mistake.  Each time I visited, he would ask about the trees.  I always had an excuse that had kept me from planting - busyness, lack of help, drought. . . Finally he looked deep into my eyes and said, "Alicia.  Just plant your trees,  The rain always comes."

I don't know that he intended it to be a life lesson, but it was and is.

Just plant trees - move forward, trust, let go of fear.

The rain always come - God is always faithful.

Last fall Chad helped me plant some trees.  While I am very thankful that I was able to text the photos to my grandpa, I am even more thankful for his wisdom.  His deep voice and easy laughter floats through my mind often. . .

"Alicia.  Just plant your trees.  The rain always comes."

Those are words to live by.

I miss you grandpa and grandma.  Thank you for the legacy you left behind.