Sunday, December 4, 2016

a weepy sunday - a journey of play

Yesterday and today we have decorated our home for Christmas. I have also spent time preparing our advent. As I was getting this year's ready, I was flooded with memories of Christmas past in Ohio. I'm really missing our Ohio traditions. When we'd mail a letter to Santa from the big mail box, when we'd go to the Dover Christmas parade and watch the fun Dover marching band. I miss Christmas on the farm in Amish country and the potential for a white Christmas. Those were things I couldn't add to this year's advent.

Last night I was scrolling through online stores on my phone when I scrolled across some wooden train rails. It felt like time stopped for a bit as I remembered the years of trains in our home.

I can still see the color of the wood.
I can still hear the sound they made as we dug through the basket of tracks,
I can still feel how they felt in my hands as we picked up piece after piece trying to find the perfect fit.

My boy loved his trains. We had train books, train tracks, train sheets. Many of our days involved train play or train talk.

Our train era is over. I rolled that over in my mind a few times. And there was a big sad spot about it.

Then the thoughts flooded into my mind. "Remember how snugly he was? Remember how deep his laugh was? Remember the way his eyes sparkled? Remember how stinking cute his little voice was? What happened to my little guy? How in the world is this his 7th Christmas? Life is so different now that I'm working. DID I PLAY ENOUGH WITH HIM?"

At that last thought I stopped in a panic. It took everything in me not to go wake Cooper up, hold him like he was 2 and force him to build a train set with me all in the name of mama is having a moment.

The thoughts continued this morning as I got ready for church. "Man, I wish I could go back and just spend an entire day playing trains with him. Did I play trains with him?"  I prayed for God to help me with this.

My brother sent me a picture this morning of Cooper the first year we mailed a letter to Santa. My heart stopped and tears flooded my eyes. I threw my phone down on the bed to try to find a distraction to gladden my heart.

Instead I moved on to an even more emotional task. I opened up my great-grandmother's bible and scrolled through her notes. I recently asked for her bible, and was able to come back from Thanksgiving with it. Because of  #work and everyone's favorite #strepthroat I hadn't had a chance to go through it. I remembered that Nan had written some things in the pages, but didn't remember exactly what it was. I was excited to explore her bible and find out.

I flipped through the pages, the new testament pages obviously more worn than the old, and psalm and proverbs with far more notes. Something struck a cord with me; Nan wrote the dates on some of the passages she read. Most of them were in the early to mid 90s, which put her in her 80s. Simply amazing. I hope that when I'm in my 80s I'm still in God's word, praying for my family and friends.

I came across passages that completely humanized Nan and made me completely identify with her. One that I couldn't turn my eyes away from was September 94, a passage from Proverbs, "Who has woe? Who has sorrow?" I wanted to shout "I do! Today I do! I want my little boy back and I want the time to slow down." After a couple minutes of flipping through, more tears came and I had to walk away from it.

I have had time to think about all of this since this morning. As we decorated our Christmas tree and more emotions flooded me as I thought about time moving fast, I also thought of Nan. Many tell me I resemble in her many ways -so- I'm thankful for the woman she was. I'm thankful she fought hard to plant a legacy of faith. But it's more than that. It's her joy, her attitude, her giving nature, her care and concern for her family, the way she celebrated, and the way she played. All these qualities I strive for every day.

My Nan was a Nan who played. I'm a mom who played/who plays. I fight my arse off to make every moment count with Cooper. Of course I played with him. Remember all those memories I said? I know the feel and the sound of those trains. How could I know those things if I didn't play them? And I'm like Nan! Play is a part of both of us. Thinking about that gave me a peace.

I see why grandparents play so much. They know how quickly the time passes. They know they don't know what tomorrow brings. And so they play. They for get about their to-do list and play. All my friends of littles, put away the to-do list one day this week and just play. I promise you won't ever regret it. Even if you play a lot, you'll one day ask if you played enough.

And for those of you without littles, go play. Celebrate life. Laugh. Carry joy. LOVE OTHERS BIG.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

New soil; a quick post about all our visitors.

Have you ever heard the phrase "grow where you're planted"? Sometimes that's hard to do.  When your plant is used to one type of soil and is taken out and put down in completely different soil, it takes time to adjust. Andrew and I have now done this twice. We have removed our plants and put them down in completely different soil. Florida to Ohio, then Ohio to Texas - each place SO different than the other. This process is tough each time, but worth it. We have needed different soil to grow and produce better fruit. But the beginning months in a new place is still - maybe always - hard.

Since February we have had a steady stream of visitors. These people that have loved us and stood by us in moments past have banded together to give us legs and support as we find our way in a new city. With each visit they have been woven together with the new people we are meeting.  These friends - the combined old and new - have given us a great start to our life here in Texas. Life takes all of us in different directions. Some of these directions we choose. Some of these directions are ones we would never have chosen ourself. But in each stop, we have found people we love; people who love us; people who make life sweet in good times and sweeter in bad. While our roots have been adjusting to  life in this new city, it's been so nice to have these visits to give us water, sunshine, and food to help our roots take hold here.

To our friends and family who have sweetened life with your visits, thank you. To the friends we are making in Texas, we are looking forward to sweet moments with you.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

I used to be republican

Here's the deal. I used to be a republican; now I'm siding more and more with democrats. Not just democrats, far left democrats.  As of late I keep watching the news wondering what in the actual hell is happening to the political systems of our country. There could be a lot of debate and discussion about such things. Today I'm just going to share with you some of the reasons I've changed my mind.

1) God's word. I'm not naive anymore. I have changed. I have experienced hurts, deep wounds, and have walked away a different person. My eyes are open. My eyes see the hurt in others here in our country and in people around the world. Jesus has changed me, changed my heart on many matters, and I can no longer look at the world, and the path of this country, the same.
2) Freedoms and building walls.  I'm disgraced that we would be a country that builds walls. I'm disgraced that people are risking their lives and the lives of their children to be here, and instead of welcoming them with a just system, we are pushing them away. The families who do  make it here are often torn apart. The parents are being deported back to their home countries while their children are left to fend for themselves here. We have become a selfish country. We don't understand the depths of the freedoms we've been given. We've become entitled. So entitled we want these freedoms for ourselves. Here's an example: I want us to feel appreciative of our freedom to public education and send our kids to public school, and support our public schools. When we make decisions to send our children to private schools or homeschool (except for children with disabilities) it's like a slap in the face to our public school system. We are saying thanks for the freedom, but we don't want it. The people in other countries watching us decide not to partake in this freedom are probably looking at us in utter disgust. These people are willing to die so their children can get a good education. I heard one candidate say during a debate "let the children come." He gets it.
3) Abortion and Same-Sex Marriage.  These are things that many republicans preach about. I've come to realize something, though. Even if we outlaw these things, they will still happen. Abortions will still happen, even if they are outlawed. If they are going to continue to happen, I would rather these women have sanitary places and standards of practice for this to be done. We can outlaw same sex marriages. But women are still going to love other women, and men are still going to love men. They are going to want to be able to let these people they love make health decisions for them, parent with them, buy a house with them. I've looked into the eyes of people I love who are gay. I would never want them to be denied of these things because of their sexual orientation. Can I disagree with someone and still love them? I believe I can - not just that I can. I do. I do love these people even though I believe the bible's words on marriage. Can I love these people while I ridicule them and deny them of human rights? I don't believe so.
4) Republicans have pushed me to the other side. They have taken the majority in congress and in the senate. Instead of being able to work with democrats, they have gridlocked our country. They refuse to work with the other side. They want to take their stance and hoist it up. But below them are people asking for them to "make america great again." They have pushed a divide in this country, allowing hate and anger to resonate with them and it has spread. American republicans are so pissed off they are backing a man that pushes for division, not unity. I can not look at the men running for office on the republican side and support them. Not just the people running for office, the people around me who are republicans are ones who I often see as close-minded. I hear the things they say, and I want nothing to do with it. No where in their vocabulary am I sensing love. So when I look at this group and see what they are doing, and can't agree with their tactics, I leave their party.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Six. Dear Cooper.


Today you are turning six. My heart is feeling so many things for you today. I'm sure I say this every year when I sit to write you a letter. So I'll save you the mushy details of it all this time around. I will say that you watching you grow up is an absolute pleasure. You are a joy. You are sunshine on my cloudy days. I'm oh so proud to be the mama at your side.

Recently I've realized that you have many qualities that I admire. At a mere six years of life you've taught me so much. So on your sixth birthday, here are six things I admire about you.

1) Your passion.

You don't just love things. You LOOOOOOVE things. These things consume you. They consume your thoughts, your drawings, your stories, your play time. You've always kind of fixated on a few things, and then cycle through them throughout the year. Currently you are very passionate about mario, pac-man, and minecraft --- video games in general. One day I envision you loving something so much it's what you do for a living. Maybe this love of video games will stick with you, or maybe you'll find a new passion. But that thing will give you great joy, great purpose, and I'm positive will continue to make me smile.

2) Your zeal.

I just looked up this word so I could write about it more fully. It means great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or objective. This definition is a picture of you. You wake up excited. You go to school excited. You come home excited. You love life! Your energy and excitement are unable to be contained. It just bubbles up and over in you. You zeal fills up our home.

3) Your compassion.

Yesterday your friends were leaving our home and you said "they should take a balloon with them." A few days ago I was crying, and you crawled on my lap and hugged me. You often pat my back, my arm, and extend love. You make sure monkey feels loved, too, inviting him along to events and giving him hugs and kisses all day long. You find ways to make others smile, like making pictures for them, or crafting something, or telling them a joke. Your kindness is evident in the way you make others feel.

4) Your likability.

You walk into a room the room changes. Other people flock to you, like you, and can't wait to hang out with you again. This is something that kind of baffles and amazes me. You do such a great job with other people. When we moved you said "mom, I need 1.000 friends" and it wasn't until you felt friendships stabilizing that you started settling in more. You need other people, and the more I watch you and your surroundings, the more I realize how other people need you, too. You are here for a reason, and your likability is helping you on the road to that great purpose.

5) Your humor.

It's developed into a humor where words like booger, poop, and fart in any sentence is funny. People falling over or getting hurt is even funnier. You've added funny one-liners to conversation, and I find you laughing along during conversations. I love this about you. Laughing with you is so fun. Humor is not something your father and I were lacking (let's face it...we are hilarious) and I'm glad you are bringing even more humor into our lives.

6) Your drive.

Cooper, you try and try and try to master the things that you want to do. This year I've watched you master jumping rope, writing, reading, and of course video games. There are many things you want to do - some of them difficult. When you have your heart set on achieving something, you work hard to accomplish it. And then when you faced a big unknown and hard-to-comprehend move across the country, you did so with bravery. You don't give up. You persevere.

Cooper, these things I admire in you have helped change and challenge me. You make me want to work at what I'm passionate about, and to find new things to love. You've made me want to be more excited and light-hearted in life. You've shown me how to extend kindness to all sorts of people and have asked tough questions that stop me in my track when I'm not extending the same compassion you show. You've made me take a hard look at myself and wonder what I need to do to be more likable and friendly. You have me finding all sorts of ways to make you laugh. And you have challenged me so much to stand tall and be brave and keep going. I know I might be biased, but based on my 6 years with you, I think you might change the world. You've definitely changed mine.

I love you, Cooper. Cheers to six years!


Sunday, January 31, 2016

So We Moved

Andrew, Cooper and I have moved to Texas! I am now required to say ya'll, wear boots, and have big hair.

Just kidding. 

Guys, so far this place is awesome. Today I walked to get Cooper from school in shorts and a t-shirt and even broke a JANUARY. #glory

After Christmas we packed up our home, let some movers load our stuff, and drove for about a week. It doesn't usually take a week to make that drive, but we stopped and visited friends in Indiana and my bother (well, just his house - he was in eurpoe!) in Arkansas on our way across the country. We literally passed through the gateway to the west. Pretty fitting.
St. Louis visit. 12/31/15

We snapped this picture just moments after driving up to our new home.
The day after we arrived in Texas, I had a fingerprinting appointment. Rest assured, the fingerprints were taken in a gun range, out in what seemed to be the middle of no where. I drove down this dirt road to get there and had a huge "Where the hell am I?" moment. With Cooper in the backseat I tried to make it sound like an exciting adventure, but my insides were a hot mess. 
Speaking of Cooper, that day I also registered him for school. His first day he was nervous and scared. The following weeks were no easy task as his mom. There were complaints about going to school, which had never happened in Ohio, there was an earlier wake up time, there was lots of missing his friends. Huge adjustments were happening in his life. We had lots of conversations. "Mom, no body likes me."
-"Why do you think nobody likes you?"
"They won't play with me at recess. They won't let me play with them because they are playing skylanders and I don't know how to play skylanders."
-"Well, if that's the case, then maybe you can find someone else to play with."
"I can't. They are my friends."
"That's not they way friends who love you act. You can find a friend who will include you, I know it. But in the event that this is you not wanting to play because they are playing skylanders and not mario, being a friend means sometimes playing what the other person likes. It's ok to try new things. You might love it."
Yep. Lots of conversations like that. Really, I think he had a hard time not being "mr. popular." He is so used to everyone loving him that being the new kid who no one really knew was a new thing for him. I was hoping that after some time he would settle into some friendships and feel more at home there. 

Then a back seat conversation this past weekend happened. 
"Mom, "A" is my best friend. But sometimes he gets sad when I play with other people. But I have to play with other people. I need like 1,000 friends."
There it was. He had friends. He was playing with lots of kids. And true to his personality...he needed those friends to feel better. To top it off, we met some neighbor kids (our neighborhood has kids!!!) and he's excited he has people to play with while he's home, not just at school. I'm happy to report that this week he has been excited for school and seems more like his normal, happy self.
This is not monkey, this is coconut, the class stuffed animal. Cooper had him for the weekend.

I am loving our new home. Those of you who know me can probably guess what I'm most excited about. (#BigBlackDishwasher) We have a lot of space, there are ceiling fans, blinds that don't break when I clean them, 2.5 bathrooms, more than one shower and tub, a fenced in backyard...basically everything I have wished for in a home. Coming from our house in Ohio, I feel like I'm living in a mansion. Every day I just look around with happiness in my heart. The past 5 months have been hard on our family. Most days I was just trying to survive. I didn't cook, tossed housework out the window, and hunkered down with my journal and bible. I have walked down a path that is scary, shaky, and unknown. One day last week  my friend told me "your house is just an every day example of how much God loves you." This was a hard pill to swallow because God would love me even if we still lived in Ohio. God would still love me if I didn't have a dishwasher. God's love for me has been so obvious and tangible the past 5 months; ways that don't have anything to do with how nice of a house I live in. But another friend assured me. "Chandra, you have obeyed God in a huge way. He knows the desires of your heart. Obedience brings about blessings." So now I look around at this house, a house that I'm so thankful for, and thank God. He is rebuilding our family. He's rebuilding me, and Andrew, and Cooper. I'm excited that the rebuilding is happening in this home.
Cooper has this awesome room thanks to some awesome wall stickers from Nana and Grampsy.

This weekend Cooper said, "Mom I love living in San Antonio. This is the room I've wanted. This is the playroom I've wanted. I love our home." I smiled and said, "Me, too, bug. Me, too."

We would love some visitors in Texas! Make it happen, people.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

This Boy

This Boy.

He's now a kindergartener and ROCKING it out.

He's finished another season of soccer. This season compared to the last time we played was vastly different. Last season he would cry and run off the field. This season he gladly ran around with his teammates. It took him a couple of weeks, but eventually he felt comfortable enough to try and kick the ball. My favorite was watching his eyes while he played. When he ran around the field, he would watch his friends, not the ball, looking at them with eyes of "Isn't this fun?? Are you having as much fun as I am??"

He is a source of joy and humor. This month has knocked our family back a bit. He has kept us laughing. From calling R2D2 "Artie D2" to hysterical one-liners and jokes he makes up (most always about poop and wieners) he makes us smile daily.

He keeps us going. He's given us reason to fight through struggles and to set great examples of  outstanding love and grace.

He's thoughtful and kind, and going to be a great husband. The other day I was having a hard time choosing what to wear on a date with Andrew. He heard me say "I just don't feel comfortable in it." He looked up at me, patted me, and said "Mom you look beautiful always."

This boy. 
He has our hearts. 
The more I sit back and watch, the more I'm seeing that he is capturing the hearts of pretty much anyone he meets.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Cooper's 1st Day of Kindergarten

I've always been a light sleeper when I'm anticipating the next morning. My first day of kindergarten I woke up at way too early an hour. I sat at the top of the stairs at our home in Kentucky, looking at the light that came from the living room, and I heard the light noise of the morning news. I wondered  if I should stay at the top or make my way down. Excitement and anticipation won. Too dark to walk down safely, I scooted down the stairs on my bottom. My mom, sitting in the rocking chair, coffee in hand, looked at me in surprise and asked why I was already up. I don't remember the rest of that morning. I don't even remember the rest of that day. I do remember the excitement. The anticipation. I remember how big I felt.

Today was no different. I woke up at 5:30 and was unable to go back to sleep. Today was my boy's first day of kindergarten and I wanted to see his face when he woke up. Cooper is consistently an early riser. He's up between 6 and 6:30. So, wouldn't you know it that today was the day he decided he'd sleep in until 6:54! I waited as patiently as I could for him to wake up. He came down the stairs all smiles. "Hi big kindergartener" I said excitedly. He ran the rest of the way down and jumped onto the couch. Excitement filled his eyes. A smile spread wide across his face. "Mom, I've got to go to the bus stop." Ensuring him that we had plenty of time, he settled into an episode of Alvin and the Chipmunks, his current favorite show.

Our morning progressed easily. A year of preschool helped with this part. We ate, we got dressed, we brushed our teeth and combed our hair. We did a devotion with him. We packed his lunch and readied his backpack upon his back. Each thing we did, you could tell he was excited. Nothing but smiles and giggles. After a few pictures on our front steps we all walked to the bus stop.  The bus stop is at the other end of our street, which gave us time to tell him we wanted him to be kind, to listen, and to have fun. I prayed for him on this walk. We got to the bus stop early. Let's make note of this now, because the rest of the year is sure not to follow suit. And because it's the first week of school, the bus was late. While we waited we spoke with another boy there, and watched Cooper wait in anticipation. He basically ran around the yard of the house we were standing in front of.

At one point I bent down and continued on with the last words I have chosen to be the last words I speak to him before school each morning. 
"You are kind. You are good. You are God's. Make wise choices." 
When we looked up from that moment, the bus came around the corner. As soon as it stopped, Cooper RAN to the bus. He was the first one on. After a few seconds for everyone to be seated, the bus drove away. Andrew and I walked away, smiling. A big part of my heart drove away in that yellow school bus. But today the sadness in my heart was replaced with a lot of hope and excitement.

Yesterday Cooper asked to go to the park. While we were there, he approached two boys and asked them if they wanted to play. He also decided yesterday was the day he would decide to pump his legs and swing by himself. I sat back in awe and cried. Yes, there...on the playground. I whispered thanks to God for that moment. I needed that moment to show me just how ready for kindergarten he is.

We did drive to school and met him when he got off the bus. We walked him into his classroom. We left him with smiles. Cooper Lee is SO ready. He's such a great kid, with such great passion and excitement for life. He has learned and grown so much during his time at home. Cooper is an extension of our LIGHT. It's time for him to practice let that light shown on his own now. He's going to do big things one day. This is a big part of that journey for him.

And in case you are wondering...Andrew and I went to a new breakfast place to celebrate!

I'm doing so great. No tears this morning. Only JOY.