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Live. Love. Photograph!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Riding Through It 9-13-2014





 It's amazing to see just ONE person be so selfless and generous but to see a group of over 100 people do it, and for it to be all done for your own mother is a whole different experience. And that's just what happened a few weeks ago. With everyone going on with my mom over the past 6 months, even with insurance a lot of doctor bills had started to come in. It took a few of my mom's close friends, some hard work and dedication, and a lot of selfless people to make an amazing day for my mom and my entire family and to raise enough money to cover all those bills. Here's the story :)

My parents good friends Chris and Michelle decided to reach out to a local sports bar in our area, owned by an AMAZING man named Bill. They came together to organize a day where all my parents friends and family could come together, eat good food, listen to great music, raise money for my mom, and ride their motorcycles :) A poker run (for those who have never heard of such) is an organized event where participants, usually using motorcycles or other means of transportation must visit five to seven checkpoints, drawing a playing card at each one. The object is to have the best poker hand at the end of the run.

They each pay to enter the ride and to play the game. The money raised in this event is split between the person who has the best hand at the end of the ride and the person they are doing the benefit ride for. When all the riders come back to the starting point they usually have food, a band, raffles, and auctions to raise additional money.

There were so many people involved in the ride for my mom. Bill's Sports Bar was hosting the event and Bill and Tonya were the best!! They hired an awesome band to play, The After 9 band. They got majority of the food together, and they organized  the ride and all the raffle and auction items. None of this would have been possible without them. So many people donated items to the raffles and auctions. The company my dad works for, Cooper Steel, donated a TON of Harley Davidson items and Cooper Steel items to the raffle. There was tons of beer items, Harley Davidson items, leather jackets and chaps, golf bags, free oil changes, and even two tickets to a NASCAR race with amazing seats!!!

My parents know so many people. They have lived in this area their whole lives and have made connections with so many people over the years. The people that came together that day all love my parents so much and have prayed so hard for her to get better. It was a perfect day and every one had a blast.





My AMAZINGLY talented friend Jill offered up her services as soon as she heard we were doing a benefit for mom. She does t-shirt design and screen printing so she designed and printed 100 of these amazing shirts. We never ever thought we would be able sell that many but we completely sold out and had a ton of other people wanting them once they were all sold. It was a huge success and made a HUGE donation to my mom :) 



















I didn't get to take a lot of pictures because there was a lot going on. We had so much fun. Andy, Jill and I won a ton of stuff on the raffles and auctions. The band was amazing. The food was great! I was amazed by everyone's generosity and love for my mom and my family :) We couldn't have asked for a better day!!!




Friday, October 10, 2014

When Will I Learn to Fully Trust HIM

 **Warning! This blog is extremely personal and to the point. It's not something I usually write about on here but some things have happened and I wanted to not only share it but to write it down to remember it for myself.**



School has been rolling right along and I have been finding myself staying very busy catching up on housework, working on my blog, watching some YouTube, and doing a little fall shopping.....until this past week. The calendar was empty. EMPTY. There was no appointments, nothing that had to be done, no volunteering days. Nothing! I found out very quickly that I don't do well with a week full of nothing to do. I don't do well with a ton of free time. Time for my brain to think about things that usually get pushed far back in my mind is not good.

As the week went on the days started to all run together. It seemed that everyday was exactly same as the day before. Wake up. Get ready. Get Hensley to school. Come home. To be alone. And sit. Alone. All day.

Andy has been working out of town for the past month or two where he only can come home on Friday nights and he has to leave out again on Sunday mornings. So that's 6 days every week that it's just me and Hensley, and all day long it's just me. I guess with the newness of school and actually having alone time for the first time in three months I hadn't noticed it before now. Now I was lonely, and by the end of week I honestly felt depressed. For some reason I had no motivation to get up and keep myself busy. I could have went for a walk, or did some shopping. I could have had lunch with a friend or volunteered some place. But all I could do was sit around and feel alone and be sad. I had so much quiet time that I started to think of things that weren't my normal way of thinking. I started thinking that maybe we had made a mistake with deciding to only have one child. I started panicking about not being able to have anymore children. I felt the void of Hensley being gone and my mind immediately went to a place of wanting to try and fill that void. I began to think that my role in my family wasn't important anymore. Andy was away at work and Hensley was off at school and I was no longer as important in my mind. It was a sad time. It began to turn into a pretty dark time as well. I went days and days without talking to anyone but Hensley, and Andy for a few minutes in the evenings.


As a mom it feels like each day as Hensley grows bigger and more independent I am less important. As a mom life is constantly about "letting go". We go from carrying them at all times to helping them learn to walk and then one day letting go of their tiny hands to watch them take their first steps alone. There is a time at the playground where they always want to play with you and then suddenly one day they are interested in all the other little kids and they don't even realize you are there until it's time for a snack. Starting school a HUGE time to "let go". Even when Hensley started preschool it wasn't too hard. It was only for a few hours a day and it was easy to be very involved at school, there was a lot of interaction with teachers and other students there. We were sort of like a little family. I got to walk him in every morning, check out what he had drawn that week hanging on the wall. See his classroom "job" posted on a board. But Kindergarten is different. He now walks in alone every morning. Hopping out of the car each morning with a quick hug and a "Bye Mom!" without evening looking back. Eight hours a day being gone is a LONG time....for me. After 5 years of having all day, every single day with my boy to go on adventures and hang out, losing 40 hours a week without him is so very hard on me.


I had to learn that Hensley did not need me any less he just needed me differently now. I prayed and prayed on this over that week. Wondering how to handle it. Should I go back to work? Would this loneliness just be my new normal? Should I go back to school??

After a lot praying I decided I needed to go to church Sunday and instead of worrying and wondering and thinking, maybe I should just be still and listen.

So on Sunday Hensley and I headed off to church. Our pastor preached on 2 Corinthians 5:17: "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away, behold all things are new. " He taught on how once we finally learn to totally trust God and give all our cares, worries and problems to him we will be given a new life, new nature, and new freedom. During the service the pastor even spoke directly to me and the congregation about how myself and Hensley must have going through a tough time with all the recent changes in our lives and Hensley starting a new chapter by going to kindergarten. I was in awe. I had not mentioned it to him or anyone at church in any way, and he spoke directly to me. The message hit home with me so much. I have sitting around worrying and feeling alone when in fact I haven't been alone for one second. God has been with me every minute of every day. I realized I needed to stop trying to plan what was happening each and everyday and wonder what my future held and instead follow my heart and listen to God. I find myself doing this so much. I pray. I ask God to guide me and then I am too busy worrying and wondering to actually listen to his guidance.

I have decided that my new prayer will be, " “Just show me, Lord, and I’ll do what You want." I have decided to stop worrying about what my new "role" is and just listen. Go with my gut. Trust that God will lead me. I Trust Him. I trust the path I am on and the one he will lead me to. During church Sunday our pastor repeated something several times that stuck with me. We are always asking God for things and expecting them right then, expecting to get a response immediately. And when we don't get that immediate answer we feel defeat. We not only have to trust God will be there and give us answer but we have to trust in his timing.







I run in the path of your commands,
for you have set my heart free.
Psalm 119:32



Later after the service the lady who runs the children's church came up to me with Hensley and arms full of goodies he had made. She looked me right in the eye and told me she had been praying for me for a while. That it had been on her heart to pray for me and that she knew I must be going through a big adjustment with Hensley going off to school. She asked how I was doing and after a brief conversation with her she hugged me tight and told me she would continue to pray. I was in awe that these two people whom I haven't talked to him a while and haven't mentioned a word about my stress and saddness to, knew that I was struggling. 

I seen this video a while back and I came across it again while writing this blog. The lady at the end said it best. This is my calling. This is my job. This is what I love to do and I will do it better and with love each and every day because my child counts on me and he loves me for what I'm doing. And that's really all that matters at the end of the day. He will always be my child. He will need me more at certain times in his life and at the times he doesn't need me as much I will take time to look at him and be proud of the boy I'm raising and how independent and confident he is. And when he needs me more I'll be there to comfort and encourage him (and to squeeze him extra tight and kiss all those freckles :)   


 








Thursday, October 2, 2014

October isn't just about pumpkins and Halloween.....






I like to keep things happy on the blog. Happy. Light. Fun. But sometimes life isn't always light and fun. A lot of people think of Breast Cancer Awareness Month when they think of October and we see pink ribbons everywhere all month, which is great, don't get me wrong. But October is also set aside for another type of awareness, it's Pregnancy, Infant, and Child Loss Awareness Month.

In October 1988 President Ronald Reagan proclaimed it Pregnancy and Infant Loss Month. Since then each year in October there has been a candle light vigil on October 15th all around the world where at 7pm everyone is asked to light a candle in every country in every time zone and leave it lit for one hour. With this hour of candle lighting there will be a wave of light to celebrate all the babies that we carry in our hearts each and everyday.  Each year, approximately a million pregnancies in the United States end in miscarriage, stillbirth, or the death of the newborn child. National observance of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, 1988, offers us the opportunity to increase our understanding of the great tragedy involved in the deaths of unborn and newborn babies. It also enables us to consider how, as individuals and communities, we can meet the needs of bereaved parents and family members and work to prevent causes of these problems.
  • One in four pregnancies ends in the loss of a baby
  • The loss of a child is recognized as the most intense cause of grief
  • Parents never "get over" the loss of a child – no matter the age 

After 6 years the pain still hasn't lessened any at all, in fact at times it seems to get worse. As I watch Hensley grow and learn in the back of my mind I always wonder how Ava Grace would be growing up or leaning new things. I always wonder how Hensley and her relationship would be. I wonder what she would look like and as I see other mothers with little girls, I wonder if she would into cheer leading or walking around singing songs from the movie Frozen. There are things that will instantly remind me of her and how she isn't here with us. You can read the full story here.

I am thankful for this time each year. Even though she is always with me and always in my heart, it's nice to have a time set for all women who have been through this to be able to speak out and not feel so alone.




I find peace in the eyes of the child I AM able to hold and love. I find peace knowing our Father God is the once taking care of her until it's my time to see her. I find peace knowing my Grandma is up there bouncing her on her knee as she did me so many times before. I find peace in telling her all the time how much I love her and I find peace in my tears and letting it all out. Telling it all to God. Trusting in his love for me...and for Ava Grace.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Beach Trip Round 2 2014

Beach trip....round 2.....what??!!! We were extremely blessed this year to have two vacations. Our first beach trip this year to Kure beach (which you can see here) was a blast and we were so excited when our friends, The Williams' family, wanted to go for the first time AND wanted us to tag along.

We were going for a little mini vacation just staying for the weekend but we were also there for a very special event!!! Sweet baby Zoey was turning 1 :) We headed out early Friday morning and we were all set for a super fun weekend :)


We arrived early Friday afternoon and checked in to our favorite little place, in our favorite room, with our favorite people. We were off to the pool and vacation has officially begun. We spent our first day playing in the pool and hot tub and exploring on the beach.








































Soon it was time to clean up and head out to an awesome Mexican restaurant with our friends and really celebrate little Zoey :)  


There is nothing better then this place. 



Instead of traditional birthday cake (which she will have a week later at her official party) they decided on a Hersey Pie. It was EPIC :)

Birthday Girl! We love you Zoey. You are like one of our own and we can't wait to see what amazing things you'll do in this life.




After some cake  PIE smashing and lots of laughs we headed to the pier :)

 
There two were adorable holding hands and talking about the beach.















Day one was over and it was perfect :) 

The next morning was RAINY!!! BOOO!!! We are so over rain at the beach. We went to breakfast, shopped a little and prayed for a rain free afternoon. 

Our prayers were answered :) 



We headed to the Fort Fisher Aquarium because our friends had never been and it was really overcast outside. It was crowded but very fun :) 






We had a ton of fun :) 

We spent some of the afternoon at the pool and later that night we went to our favorite seafood restaurant, Big Daddy's and ate until we couldn't move. Then the boys went fishing on the pier while Emily and I enjoyed some down time. We ventured out later to the boardwalk, the arcade and the best doughnuts in the world, Britt's!!!  


I took a little walk with my favorite boy to the pier to see Daddy. It was just us two and it was perfect.




The next morning we were set to hit the road and get back home. It was an awesome little mini vacation and we couldn't have asked for better friends to spend it with ;) :) Looking forward to our next adventure with the Williams' family.