Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Heartbroken

Disappointment…

I was asked by my co-host this morning to be thinking about my year in review, and then he mentioned he was ready to share his biggest disappointment.

It’s odd he chose this word this morning to associate with any part of his year because I have reflected over this year many times, in many ways and the only word that tends to surface to the top is disappointment.

I, too, knew immediately my biggest disappointment this year.

I have not written a blog in quite a while and my reason is keeping me from logging all the joy in my days, but I just can’t seem to gather my thoughts clear enough to compose what I assume will be this blog entry.

I remember the day…Thanksgiving Day 1995. I had been vomiting for about 48 hours and the next thing I knew I was sitting on the edge of the bed with a positive pregnancy test in one hand and Jason’s hand in my other.

Disappointment was the burden I was wearing at that moment. I knew my parents, friends and family would be disappointed that I was pregnant before I was married and finished with college. No formulated plot for our future had been formed, nor did we even know what we wanted to be when we “grew up.” And before I could even make that decision, I was about to be a momma.

“Let’s go tell mom…if no one else is, she’ll be thrilled,” said my future husband.

With shrills she immediately had tears overflowing from her eyes. She always had the best reactions to good news. I’m not one of those people…I absorb information slowly, and react in private. I have had to literally make myself be more expressive to people over the years, because I learned from my mother-in-law that a great instant reaction is the best to receive. I’m refining mine still, but hers…oh hers were the best. She got it instantly. She could see a grandbaby and she was thrilled.

She called one day to say, “I know what the baby is going to call me. Nana.” I was only three, maybe four months pregnant at this point. It consumed her…it’s all she talked about. She even had her own nursery and received gifts at the hospital when I had Madison.

She was so simple. She never once thought that we had stepped off the wrong track in life, we just had gotten a little sidetracked. She knew we would have hard times but she didn’t let it define her reaction or support of us. She loved to live life simply and she simply didn’t see what the big deal was that we were not college graduates yet, or married with a home. She just saw a family budding.

With every pregnancy she was the one I never hesitated to tell. She always found joy in the journey for us. The following years were difficult, but when anything exciting happened she was the first I called. Every lost tooth, first step, or new job…she would treat it like it was the biggest news she had ever heard. When we built our house I had been consumed with naysayer’s who said negative things about our choices, or that we had bitten off more than we could chew…if you will. But not her. The first time she toured the house after we had moved in she just stood in our bedroom and wept tears of joy. She just hugged us and kept telling us how proud she was for us. We did bite off a lot, but it was our journey and she was always there to encourage, never discourage our dreams or visions. She even sent me a Peace Lilly on our wedding anniversary for years, until she figured out I just killed them.

That’s a gift…a true gift from God to be able to make people feel like they have worth and their decisions are ok, and even good. For a long time Sharon was the only person around me who made me feel that way.

She co-parented with me for a long time. My babies spent almost every day with her once she was home from work. She worked until 1:00 p.m. and I left for work at 2:30 p.m. She was exhausted, and would complain, but the truth was she loved having them. She just loved to fuss sometimes…and that’s ok. I miss that, too.

Over the years, the babies grew up and no longer required a babysitter, and she began a lifestyle of camping. At that moment we stopped spending the time together as we once had. Just the transition of life, I guess. The time slipped away so quickly between visits. When we did get together she was always laughing.

In April I was headed to Dallas for work and she was headed into the first of many medical procedures. She had a brain tumor removed, later a lung, and for many months she battled and beat cancer. Then she battled a lung infection until Sept. 26.…

Today they set her headstone.

She left a legacy for me that I will attempt to duplicate as I someday become a mother-in-law. She and I didn’t agree on everything, but she always supported me.

I have had many personal disappointments this year but the resounding one that has altered my very core is losing this woman who loved me, and I loved her.
Eli, my son, was a pallbearer for his Nana. She would have been proud of him. She also would have loved the string of camper lights we put in her casket spray. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Evolving

Dear Dumbest Diary..

I’m so far behind…I think this is indicative of my life these past few months. So many MAJOR events have occurred but yet I sit here failing to write them in your crisp white pages…


I can sum up my past several weeks with these photos. Everytime I looked over this kid was eating on the run in the mornings...and dinner was also on the run in the evenings. Yes, he is eating Funyuns for breakfast. My parenting is top notch.

This kid graduated. Maybe if I don’t write it down it didn’t really happen?

See the golf ball? I have not the slightest as to why she handed it to her principal as she walked-the-line, but I did learn she was not alone. 114 other kids did the same…

Isn’t she lovely? She just returned home from a trip to Paris and London where she failed to meet the Queen Mum and talk her into allowing our family to be adopted into the Royal family, however, she totally redeemed herself as she pretended to be a Beatle on Abbey Road in this pic. We let her come home after this.

Her graduation party was complete with family, friends, and cheesecake (that's all she asked for).

I had collected t-shirts that were important to her since she was in 1st grade and had a quilt made out of them. She loved it! However, I did get one of the Middle Girl's shirts in the mix...ooppps.

Today she is 18. That is all I can say about it at this moment. #tears

This lovely lady is headed into her sophomore year of high school and landed the role as Historian for our local DECA chapter. She and I spent a day last month with the other leadership team members at Camp Courageous Kids in Scottsville. Wow…that’s all I can say about the ministry of these people who opened this camp for children with medical disabilities. We were there during MDA week. Every child there has Muscular Dystrophy. Our DECA chapter raises money every year for MDA; it was awesome and inspiring to see that money at work. This camp runs on donations only! Middle Girl walked away wanting to be part of this somehow…that’s enough for this mom; a spark of desire to help others!

This kid just celebrated his birthday with a swim party. Yes, if you are keeping score at home, his birthday is in January and yes I am just now getting around to throwing a party. I’m telling you, it’s a birthday hex he lives under. This year, however, the ice storm kept us from having a successful party in a timely manner.

I never blogged about the Middle Girl’s 15th party, which was also in January. It was a success, with make-up being taught, and an awesome Minion cake by my sister! I love the age where cartoon characters theme their birthday cake but grown up choices are budding.

Back to this boy…

He’s become a Frisbee trick-shot artist, and a competitive tumbler for our local travel cheerleading team. See what I did there? I told him he wasn’t a cheerleader until he stood on the side of the game cheering, therefore I was renaming him a competitive tumbler. I’ve told him for years that if he wanted to compete in a Blue/White uniform on Rupp Arena’s floor it was going to have to be as a cheerleader. He ignored me for years until he happened upon our new local gym and their male coach tumblers. Lets just say he learns fast and never backs down from a challenge.

Oh be still my heart…

This preciousness came into our world this month.

She’s perfectly perfect! My sister now has three girls. My prayer for this baby (and all her girls) is that she grow up to love the Lord more than anything; she walk is his light and glory and lead other girls her age to their promised futures in Christ, walk in purity and obedience of the word - for there she will grow up clothed in respect and strong character and her children will rise up and call her blessed, Proverbs 31:28

...just as we call her momma blessed.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Snips and Snails…

snapped this pic on Easter Sunday after four little cousins had found all the eggs that four older cousins/friends hid for them. 
This is the first year my babies didn’t hunt eggs but instead were enlisted to hide them. We’ve crossed another threshold of “growing up.”

Sitting at these feet remind me that they - the baby cousins - too are growing up…
This 7-year-old may be the modern day version of Huck Finn. He’s always got an adventure stirring, and he’s very creative with his responses and explanations of misadventures. His life isn’t revolved around homelessness, slavery, or abandonment like Huck Finns, but he sure is an exuberant boy who is deciphering the worlds intellectual and moral education it has for him one scraped knee at a time.

He’s the younger of two boys, and the only nephew I have who - until the last year - was in love with me.

He spent many nights at my house and at the age of 3, while ascending my staircase behind me clothed in footed pajamas, he said, “I can’t live with you, you don’t have any pictures of me on your walls.” I reminded him that I hadn’t asked him to move in but he said, “Yes, I can.”

Now, missing his front teeth, he spends his days watching Family Feud, playing Minute to Win It, and running on his treadmill he and his brother spent their own money to buy.

He’s like most boys who like to play in the dirt and leave their shoes untied, but this boy is different. He was proficient in Rock Bank on the drums by the age of 3, knew the words to every Beatles song Rock Band offered by the same age, could successfully use the iPad, and break through any password to buy songs on iTunes by the age of 4, and had his own catchphrase every time he gave a kiss; “Oh, the stars of the night,” was heard every time he gave a smooch!

I’ve surely enjoyed watching him grow over the years, and now that MY baby boy will start high school this next school year, I am noticing more of the details of my nieces and nephews little lives that are still into popsicles and egg hunts.

In other Thomas Family business:

The boy graduated 8th grade with an attendance award; I had not noticed he hadn’t missed any school this year. Received a high school credit for the Algebra 1 class he completed with an A average, and was 3rd overall in Science.

I had a daughter graduate high school this past weekend, but that’s an entirely separate blog.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Feeling Like a Failure

It’s 2:30 a.m. and I find myself wide awake…within minutes tears are gushing as I have these overwhelming thoughts of Eldest Daughter graduating in three weeks. The tears, however, were not because of her graduation, they stemmed from a darkness I felt overcoming my mind and repetitive thoughts of my failure as a mother echoing.

I couldn’t shake the feeling, nor could I stop every lost temper, or lost chance to see a ballgame, or bad choice I had made flooding my mind like a crashing wave that was growing into a tsunami.

Almost two hours had passed when I finally did what I always hear pastors tell people to do, “Give it to God.”

I began to pray, “God just let me remember one good memory with my babies; one good time they enjoyed me and we had fun, just one…please, just one.”

I can’t explain this darkness that was attempting to consume me but I can tell you that as I began to form the words through my tears that God answered me and I heard this loop in my mind saying, “You gave them me. You gave them everything they need. You brought me into your home. You have raised them in the love and nurture of me, and when they grow older they will not depart from me. They are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. You have worked to be a living example of my ways. You have not failed. You gave them me.”

In that very first word in my mind I felt a calmness come over me. I felt a light penetrate the darkness of my mind and it set me free of what had been surrounding me.

I knew that no matter my failure and shortcomings, they all have a relationship with God, and as a mother that was my most important job.

I took this picture last November...not sure why I took it other than I wanted to capture a moment of being so thankful that these two know whom they serve.

How do I know this was God intercepting in my moment of despair? I’ve learned he always answers me twice – I don’t know why, he just always confirms for me. (My last name is Thomas – maybe I’m a doubting Thomas and he is always reassuring me. ???)

Anyway, my confirmation came this morning on Mother’s Day.

My husband woke me up to give me his gift – he never waits until the actual holiday, so this was big. At 7:00 a.m. he was handing me tri-folded papers and a gift certificate to our local nursery for new landscaping plants.

As I unfolded the letter, I began to read a poem that he had penned. The second line read, “For the guidance and faith that you give our children.” I knew immediately that God had worked through my husband to ensure me that he was very much with me three nights before answering me. The poem continued on to read almost exactly the same things I had heard in my head three nights before.

I laid the papers down and hugged my husband…then asked, “When did you write this?” He said, “Three nights ago.”

My God is real…and no matter how we as mothers feel sometimes that we have failed, just know that they don't need a perfect momma, all they really need is a Godly momma. A momma who tries to abide by the Word of God, a momma who will pray over her babies, and teach them his ways are higher than ours…for all the rest there is Grace.

In other Thomas family business:

The Eldest Girl attended her Senior Prom last night. We started with hair and make-up in an empty office at the dealership about an hour before my shift ended. We moved on to the house where we slipped her into a long red dress and satin high heels. I watched the Boyfriend as she ascended the steps. I’ve envisioned this scene in my mind ever since she were little – her walking down a staircase on her prom night. It was surreal…


We headed over to my sister’s house, where her baby shower was in progress.


We then headed to her friend’s house for group photos and then on to the high school to catch the limo.

I took my usual place at the high school around 8:00 p.m. A bench by the front door where the prom goers walk in. For the past seven years I was there as a journalist, capturing a picture of every couple to post to the online newspaper. This year I was just a mom waiting to catch a glimpse of my baby walking through those doors.


As I stated above, my sister is pregnant with her third baby – another girl! Naming this sweet bundle has proved to be difficult this round. My niece, the 4-year-old, was with me a couple of weeks ago and I asked her what she wanted to name baby sister. Before I go on I must tell you that my neighbor’s name is Euna. So I ask and she immediately, without hesitation, said Euna.

Taken back I thought, “That’s odd.” So I asked what her middle name would be. Immediately, with annoyance in her voice like I should already know, she belted out, “CORN!”

I like it! And she’s right, I should have known that…Euna Corn…

I wonder if she thinks Ms. Euna next door has the same middle name.

My son thought my nephews were named Kitten (Kenton) and Maxwhale (Maxwell). I learned this when he addressed Valentine’s Day cards to them several years ago. I didn’t tell him any different…I’m still letting him think his aunts are the crazy ones of the family. Happy Mother’s Day to me! Maybe I’m not so bad…I didn’t name my kids after animals.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Breaking Barriers

There are invisible barriers in place; I started to use the word segregation but decided it was too ugly of a word to use for this situation. However, there is a type of wall surrounding this group in society.

Special needs society is easily misunderstood…easily dismissed, and ignored. I’m not sure if it’s by choice or just the way our society sets up the system, but they get placed behind invisible barriers.

There’s this woman. This woman is part of the congregation who I worship with. She’s not a Sunday school teacher, not part of the praise team, leadership team, welcome wagon, prayer group, drama team, funeral feeders, or anything else. Just a faithful member of the congregation. I say that not to diminish any part of who she is, but to show how this very quiet woman‘s work was so big. Everyone plays a part in the body of Christ. And she took a thought and turned it into something that has done more than made memories…it broke barriers.
When God gives you an idea, act upon it. Prayerfully, move forward. Had my friend, Donna, not acted upon her thought we would not have watched so many wonderful things take place last night.

Donna coordinated an “Evening Under the Stars,” aka “Jesus Prom,” at our church. This prom was for special needs high school students and older. The turnout was phenomenal. Approximately 45 special needs citizens got the chance to wear formal attire, take a limo ride, have dinner and dance the night away.

Donna has a nephew who lives his life from a wheelchair and had recently attended a “Jesus Prom.” Donna immediately began her work.

See this group of teenagers?

I am also thankful that this group of teens are working to make a difference in their community. A difference for good - we seem to only hear about the youth who have found themselves in a puddle of trouble. But my focus on this group of kids goes deeper in this story.

Our high school aged youth group and their friends were asked to be escorts. These girls and guys showed up thinking they were going to be of assistance to their “dates” and ensure they had everything they needed for the evening. What they found were people their age with the same love of music, desire to have fun, and feelings that mimicked their own. It’s easy for us to misdiagnose something we don’t understand. What started off as awkward between the couples at first changed throughout the night and real conversations were taking place, phones numbers were exchanged.

What I watched was character building, life-changing, and ultimately bigger than anything I’ve ever seen. I saw students, who attend the same school but are segregated from each other due to differences, come together as a community, but leave as friends.

I saw a church grow in ministry as we all looked at each other like, “This is what it’s all about! Bringing people together to help each other, encourage each other, and love each other.”

I saw a community who jumped onboard to donate their talents and services to ensure this special group of citizens enjoyed their night.

I watched as we made the effort to bring our lives together, that understanding abounded…barriers were broken…

When we allow ourselves the opportunity to understand another person, and be open to their needs, we may just find a friend.

“I get by with a little help from my friends.” - The Beatles