Sunday, April 3, 2016

Van's 2nd Birthday

This guy turned two today (conveniently, opening day of baseball season!) Our sweet Van Jason. Our "last" baby. <--- That's a joke because as most people know, we've had another baby since Van. We never planned on him being a big brother, but let me tell you... he is the best big brother ever! He loves all of his siblings, but he loves the baby the most. He calls her "My Ellie" (and her name is the only one he can audibly say.) 

Look at this smile. Van is our easiest and happiest kid. He sleeps late in the morning; he goes down easily at night. He loves naps. He loves dance parties. He loves baths. He loves to read. He's just a lover. 

Today he got scrambled eggs for breakfast, got to play outside with his siblings, then we ran to town after I ran out of the spray paint I was using and still needed... so while we were there we got the kids a Little Caesars $5 Hot n Ready (because we are cheap so we've talked the kids into believing it's yummy). We took the pizza to a park to eat and play. He LOVED playing at the park so much that it was hard to drag him away, but we left the park to spend some Dairy Queen gift cards for birthday ice cream and that eased the tears. Ice cream was MESSY.... and I debated changing his clothes before taking these pics, but then thought, you know what? The ice cream on the shirt is a sign of a birthday done right! So... ice cream and all... enjoy these pictures from Van's second birthday. I can't believe he's two. 

Happy Birthday Vanny. Van Man. Bat Van. We love you!

Showing me how old he is today...

Showing older brother (my photography assistant right outside the frame) that the cat was around my ankles. 

Ugh just look at that sweet profile. He was watching the "moos". I just love this kid. 

These eyes.... these mischievous eyes... *swoon*

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

9 Tips to Help You Feel Awake & Energized!

I'm tired 99.9% of the time. Life is stressful right now. I won't go too much into that because that's not what you came to read but it's just the truth. On top of the stress, our youngest is a breastfeeding four month old and is zapping EVERY. LAST. OUNCE. OF. ENERGY (and sleep) I have.

Today, I stumbled out of bed, and took my kids to school in mens sweat pants and one of my husbands size 2X shirts. I looked a mess. Not even a hot one... just a mess. And I came back home and thought 'no. this is NOT how this day is going to go down!'

So, I got busy doing things that help me wake up, feel awake and energized... and I thought I'd write a blog post about them.

1.) Delegate

One morning, I rolled out of bed with enough time to make my kids lunches before they went to school, and to my surprise... my 11 year old had already made lunches for him and his 9 year old sister. I praised him for it... and ever since then it's become his unspoken task in the mornings! I buy the groceries... and I make sure there's a variety (peanut butter and jelly, ham/turkey and cheese) and I have a jar of things to grab and go (individual bags of chips/crackers/cookies, cups of applesauce, cheese sticks in the fridge, etc.) but that's where my part of lunch making ends. There is no reason why a school aged kid old enough to make their own lunch can't be doing it. Delegate! Get a few extra minutes of sleep this way. Ha!

2.) Get dressed and put on make up

I always always always feel more awake and ready to face a day when I'm dressed nicely. When I get out of bed looking like a tired frump and stay that way... then I'll feel like a tired frump all day long. When I don't get out of my grubby clothes all day, it feels easier to be lazy and more tempting to crawl back into bed for a nap. But if I'm dressed (and have make up on) I'm less likely to feel lazy and want to crawl back into bed.

3.) Eat a healthy (not a hearty, cause that will make you more tired) breakfast

You know how on Thanksgiving when you eat so much that you need to unbuckle your pants the next thing you want to do is hibernate for the winter with one really long nap?? That's cause of the big meal you ate. Eat a small healthy meal in the morning, and have more energy. Oatmeal. Granola. Fresh fruit. stuff like that. If you have other awesome morning food ideas... leave them in the comments! I love a good hearty breakfast every now and then... but not every day.

4.) Drink lots of water

Funny that I say that, because I have a haaaaaard time making myself drink enough water in a day. But... when I do make myself an ice water and make a concentrated effort to drink it, I do feel refreshed! A trick I've started doing to help myself enjoy drinking water more is adding Advocare Spark to my cup. Have you heard of the stuff. It's sooooo yummy! And it gives me just the spark of energy I need to get my booty going. My favorite flavors are the grape (tastes like purple sweet tarts) and limeade (NEW!) This post isn't about advertising for Advocare... but if you've never tried it and are interested let me know!

5.) Pump Up The Jam

Put some tunes on. Loudly if you need to! Sometimes I connect my phone via bluetooth to a sound bar in our living room to get myself and the rest of the house going when I'm doing chores. When I'm working on my computer I have iTunes on in the background. If I'm working in my shop, I have tunes to inspire me. One of my most recent favorites that I could listen to all day long is Lauren Daigle's How Can It Be album. LOVE LOVE LOVE

6.) Essential oils

Again, not a post to advertise oils, but we use Young Living and love them and I'd be happy to talk oils with you all day long if you're interested. Comment below! One of my favorite tricks for needing that pick me up boost though, is just to unscrew the cap off of a bottle of peppermint, close my eyes, and take a few really deep breaths in through my nose. Inhaling that yummy peppermint scent is known to make people feel more awake. It works, y'all.

If you don't have oils or aren't interested in using them, burning a favorited candle can do the trick to. But not something that's going to trigger a warm and cozy memory like cinnamon rolls. Ha! Choose to burn something that smells refreshing and energizing. One of my favorite candles is Bath & Body Works Island Nectar... but they don't sell it anymore. Waaaaah. So I have to ration how I burn mine cause when it's gone it's gone. Sad trombone. When I went to their website and typed in "Island Nectar" just now, it popped up Honolulu Sun which I've never heard of before. Hmm. I haven't smelled it yet but maybe it's the same thing as the old Island Nectar just with a new name? Must. Get. To. Bath. And. Body!

7.) Phone a Friend

ANYTIME I'm tired, calling my mom or husband instantly wakes me up! When I'm tired while I'm driving... same thing... pick up the phone. Funny story: recently on a long drive, I started to get tired. My husband was SITTING RIGHT NEXT TO ME but was doing a not so stellar job of helping me stay awake... so I called him! That's right... sitting right next to me, I called him. And he answered, and we talked like we were in separate places... and do you know I was instantly awake?? Weird I know... but it works for me and maybe it will work for you too.

8.) Open a Window or Put a Fan On

Cause fresh air is always nice and rejuvenating

9.) Chew Gum

And last but not least, if all else fails and you're seconds away from physically propping your eyelids up with toothpicks... try chewing some gum! Minty gum. Just try it.

And there you have it. If you can think of anything I left out... leave it in the comments!!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

How to Help a Friend in Crisis

Monday was two months post wreck... and building on the post about intentional acts of kindness (see last post if you don't know what I'm talking about), I thought I'd share today seven ways in which you can help someone who has experienced crisis.  You don't have to be besties with the person... a lot of these are ways in which ANYONE can reach out and show Christ's love to someone going through a hard time, and many don't cost much if anything at all. These are all specific examples of things that were or are being done for our family. 


It sounds so simple... but it's true. So many times, in the past, when something difficult happened, I heard people say that they are praying for our family and it just seemed so generic to me like ok sure pray for us thanks. It seemed to me like it was the "the thing" to say when someone didn't have any other words of comfort but I never knew if they meant it or not. Were they just empty words of consolation? But the thing is... sometimes people just simply don't know what to say that would be comforting... and would I have even really found comfort in any words that were said? Example: my husband was in a horrific wreck and I had to drive an hour and a half to the hospital he was flown to, not knowing anything about what I would find out when we got there. Would he be alive? Would he be brain dead? Would he be paralyzed? Would anything anyone have said to me in that moment given me any comfort? Looking back, I don't think that they would have... but just simple "praying for you" messages started flooding in... people were texting me, and calling leaving voicemails, and private messaging me on Facebook all saying that they had heard what had happened and Jason and our family were in their prayers and you know what? I felt those prayers! Every single one of them. It may sound coo-coo but seriously the hour and a half drive was more peaceful knowing that our friends and family were praying me there. And the three weeks spent in the hospital were more bearable because when I was too sad and exhausted to beg one more prayer over my husband... our friends and family were standing in the gap and it felt like everything was going to be ok. So, #1... tell your friend you will pray for them... AND MEAN IT!

2.) Meals

Meals can come in so many different forms.

~ Call or text and ask if you can arrange to take a hot/fresh meal on a specific night. I had friends bring meals on days when I was driving home from the hospital to spend time with the kids. I had posted on Facebook that I was going to drive home... and they met me there with a meal ready to eat. My mom and I didn't have to think about what we would fix while I was trying to spend time with my kids who were also grieving. A friend brought a meal the night Jason finally came home from the hospital... and since being home we've had a couple of friends (and even one total stranger) bring a hot meal on different nights.

~ Take pre-made meals that can easily be frozen to eat at a later time. Even still when days get busy... it's nice to have meals downstairs in our freezer that I can plan to thaw out for supper one night. It's already been prepared for me, all I have to do is plan to lay it out, cook it, and have some sides to go with. In some cases, sides have been provided too... frozen texas toast for lasagna for example.

~ Offer to go grocery shopping. The week that Jason came home from the hospital, my mom, who had been staying with us to help, fell down our stairs top to bottom backwards on her back head first. Yeah. So she went back home to Illinois to recuperate and I found myself taking care of five kids at home plus my husband in a wheelchair... by myself. The last thing I could imagine doing is getting everyone into a grocery store by myself. Nightmare city. One night... the care ministry from our church showed up with groceries! Boxes of Mac n cheese, hot dogs and buns and ketchup, and shredded cheese, canned green beans, a loaf of bread, milk, bags of apples and oranges, boxed brownie mix... and much more but you get the point. Those fresh groceries plus what we had in the freezer and leftovers in the fridge kept us going until I absolutely HAD to get everyone out.

~ Gift cards. Gift cards for places that were around the hospital were a lifesaver. Bonus if it's to a drive through so I didn't have to get out of the vehicle in my clothes I'd worn for three days straight with puffy eyes from crying every time I left the hospital. and DOUBLE BONUS if they delivered. TRIPLE BONUS to the family who gifted us a card to the coffee shop inside the hospital!! One friend even emailed me a gift card to starbucks so all I had to do when I drove through was pull the email up on my phone and they scanned my phone. So easy and since I was basically living on coffee.... so appreciated! Gift cards come in all forms and denominations and you just can never go wrong with gift cards. Actually... I take that back. You could. Obviously don't gift a card for a ritzy restaurant that's quite a driving distance away. That wouldn't be practical. And no, that didn't happen to me... I'm just saying.

3.) Offer Your Services

I have a friend in the town I live in who has a house cleaning business and she private messaged me offering to gift me a couple of free cleaning sessions. What a lifesaver! Such a good idea! If you don't own a cleaning business but know someone who does... buy a session or two that can be redeemed whenever the recipient wants. On top of taking care of five kids + Jason + myself, I'm also trying to successfully run my Etsy business and stock up for a big event I'm doing in April. Who has time to clean? Not me, that's who.  If you have a certain service that you are good at or that you do as a business... offer to donate some of that service, whether it be housecleaning, legal advice, babysitting, installing hardware (Jason needed certain things changed around our house in order for him to function once he got home), a friend came to the hospital with some relaxing essential oils for me to try... the possibilities here are endless...

4.) "Hospital Survival Kit"

This is one of my favorite ideas...

If you have the money and resources, one of the things that really blessed me was a bag brought up to ICU the morning after Jason's wreck. I had posted on Facebook the night before that Jason had been in a wreck and the next morning, a friend I had gone to church with years ago showed up with this huge bag FILLED with everything imaginable that I might immediately need: Snacks, Drinks, Toothbrushes, Chapstick (everyone knows hospital air is DRY!), gum, deodorant, body wash, lotion, razors, Tylenol, two tank tops, Tissues (because, duh, I cried a lot), a couple of magazines to read, trash bags (these served SO many uses!), goodies for the kids... and a $20 bill. To this day, I use the bag that it was all in as my purse. It's a nice canvas bag and every time I look at it I'm reminded of that awesome act of love. A few things that I might add to this list if I were to do this idea in the future for someone else would be a package of socks and a cheap pair of house shoes.

The thing is this: the night of the wreck when I had gotten a call that Jason hadn't showed up to pick up the guy he carpools with and no one could reach him by phone, I got so worried that I quickly needed to get the kids in the car and go looking for him. I had no way of knowing I'd drive up on the wreck and go straight from there to the hospital an hour and a half away! I definitely didn't have a bag packed with basic toiletries so it was nice to have those things provided for me, with a hug, the next morning.

which brings me to #5...

5.) See a Need and Meet it

In my haste to get out the door, I couldn't find my car keys and I threw everything out of my diaper bag looking for them. Literally the only thing I (thank God) didn't throw out was my wallet. When I got to the hospital, I had nothing. NOTHING. I didn't have any diapers, I didn't have any wipes, I didn't have any breast pads. But I had our three week old baby with me. Luckily, my sister in law stopped at a Wal Mart on her way to meet us at the hospital and was able to provide me with a package of diapers and wipes. A friend showed up at the hospital the next day with breast pads, menstrual pads, and gatorades, and a bag of chocolate. Even when Jason got moved over to the rehabilitation center, people were making sure our baby was taken care of. We had more diapers and wipes provided for us and also a Rock n Play loaned by a staff member for the baby to sleep in while we stayed there with Jason.

On the home front... there were things happening at school that I had just plain couldn't do. The older kids had Christmas parties at school where they needed to provide a small present and bring a snack and obviously I couldn't do those things but other moms stepped in to help out without me having to think about it and ask... which was such a blessing to me.

Use your head, try to put yourself in the other person's shoes and think of some things you would need or appreciate. I promise you, you are thinking clearer than them and they will probably need it and appreciate it.

6.) Visit

Visiting costs nothing at all except time and maybe some gas money but means SO MUCH. Hospital walls get boring to stare at. It's weird when you leave hospital walls to see that life has gone on without you. Visiting people in the hospital makes them feel special, loved, thought of, and needed/wanted. Nine times out of ten, there is something else you could do while you're visiting to help out. For instance: many times, I had people just hold the baby so I could go pee without having to lug the baby in her carseat to the bathroom with me... cause who wants to do that? Or I'd ask if they could hold the baby so I could step out of the room for a few minutes, regroup, and get a coffee downstairs.

Once we had some special visitors show up and say "we are here to take inventory of what you need." They noticed I was attempting to sleep on a severely uncomfortable cot with a half inch thick plastic mattress..... so they went and bought me one of those egg carton memory foam mattress toppers which did wonders for my back! Sometimes you don't know what someone will need until you just show up to find out.

a few tips about visiting:

~ Always call/text beforehand to make sure it'll be a good time to visit. There were times, Jason had visitors show up at what turned out to be a bad time (he was in surgery, etc.) and had they known, they could have arranged to come at a different time. Also... in ICU rooms there is usually a visitor limit. They don't like those rooms to get crowded in case of emergencies so it's best to stagger visitors out so everyone doesn't all show up at the same time and again, calling or texting beforehand would help with that.

~Don't ever just walk into a hospital room without first knocking to announce your presence. I think that people think that because hospital doors don't have locks, it's an open invitation to just walk in when they get there, but there were several times that Jason wasn't presentable for visitors and a simple warning would have been nice. Sometimes you might have to wait outside the door for a minute or two... and that's ok.

~ Don't stop visiting after they are discharged. Make house visits too. Even the walls at home start to get boring to stare at and you can only watch so much TV before getting completely bored out of your mind. Continue to make your friend feel loved and not forgotten by visiting them even after they've been sent home from the hospital. And maybe call on your way to see if they'd like you to pick a cold/hot drink up. Sonic and/or Starbucks drinks in the middle of the day go a long way to boost spirits (or in my case, a McDonald's half cut tea)

7.) Gift Cards

Gift cards to places like Wal Mart/Target or gas station gift cards were huge lifesavers to me. With all of the back and forth traveling I did, I burned a lot of gas! And as Jason started coming around and wanted to feel more like a human being... and especially when he got moved to rehab... we had to go get clothes for him because the clothes he'd been wearing the night of the wreck were a.) dirty b.) bloody and c.) cut off of him. Even his underwear.

I'm sure I'll think of more things later and maybe come back to edit this post... but these are specific and EASY ways you could help a friend in crisis. If you have found yourself in a crisis situation and can think of something that would be helpful to add to this list... would you please leave it in the comments?? Thank you!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Go Be Love

I've been told that today is "Random Acts of Kindness Day."

Back in October of 2011, I blogged about how I had set out to do 31 acts of kindness on my 31st birthday. And yes... if you are doing the math, that means I am 35 years old. I titled the blog post "How I Spent My 31st Birthday." <--- click on underlined link to go read it now.

There was an anonymous commenter who said "It's not a random act of kindness if you set out to plan them." The comment was worded in such a way that made it sound like the commenter believes random acts of kindness are cool but to set out to be kind... INTENTIONALLY... isn't as cool. How sad. What the rude commenter missed, is that not once in my blog post did I refer to my acts as random. I had spent days making a list of what all I wanted to do that day. It was intentional in every way.

But here's the thing...

There isn't an "Intentional Acts of Kindness Day"

and why not?

"Random" acts of kindness get all the glory! There are even hashtags devoted to this trend (#raok). But what if we started a hashtag for being kind intentionally? what would we call it? #iaok? Or how about #ActingHowJesusExpectsUsTo.... #LivingHowMyMamaTaughtMe?

My point is... it's okay to be kind intentionally. Random acts of kindness are fun and good... it's nice every once in a while to randomly decide while sitting in a drive through line that you're going to pay for the guy behind you... but leaving your house PLANNING to be kind to someone that day... or multiple someones... how much more fun is that!!!?

So in case you get the urge to go be kind to someone today, INTENTIONALLY... click on the link above for some ideas. I especially loved going to the nursing home and blessing someone whose birthday was that day. The opportunities to show Christ's love intentionally are endless. Make a list.

Go Be Love.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

I "Chews" You, Valentine

I'm going to admit something here...

I'm pretty bad at getting anything done ahead of time when it comes to my kids' seasonal classroom parties, which leaves us scrambling to find something that can easily (and cheaply) be done at the last minute.

Tomorrow is my three year old's preschool Valentine's party, followed by my 4th and 6th graders parties on Friday... and so naturally I finally got around to getting something put together today.

If you, like me, need an adorable last minute Valentines Day idea... look no further. Unless you are local to me and then you'll have to do something else. Cause my kids are doing this gumball idea this year.

Here's what you'll need:

1.) Large package of gumballs. (The brand name bag I bought at a well known big box store has 680 gumballs which means there'll be plenty for three kids classroom parties.)
2.) Ziploc bags
3.) Stapler
4.) Scissors (or heart shaped die cuts)
5.) Marker/Ink Pen
6.) Paper

Let's admit it... there have been times when you've gone to the store babywearing the infant, two kids crying in the cart, one begging for every brand name sugary cereal they see, and one asking to "borrow" money for something they've seen that they just HAVE TO own and they promise to pay you back. No? Just me? Well, let's pretend you've found yourself, like me, frazzled and rushed at the store and you MEAN to grab Ziploc sandwich bags but when you get home you see that you've accidentally grabbed a whole box of 120 snack bags. SNACK BAGS? who uses those anyway? what could you put in there? four pretzels? And you'd rather cut your own leg off than have to make a return trip to the store, am I right? Well, I've got the perfect use for those no good snack bags.

The first thing you'd need to do is divide number of gum balls in your bulk bag by the number of valentines you need to make. For us, I bought a bag of 680 gumballs and I need enough for roughly 47 kids. That's 14 gumballs each... but to leave room for error in case I need to make more for some reason, I won't put the whole 14 per bag but maybe 12 instead.

Next I cut a heart out of colored paper. This is easiest done if you have a cricut machine, or something similar, but can just as easily be cut by hand. If you have a bigger budget you could also buy a pack of already cut heart die cuts. It's totally up to you.

Write 'I "CHEWS" YOU, Valentine' on each heart. If you didn't want to cut out hearts or write on each one, you could print up some strips of paper. It's totally up to you, your budget, and how much time you want to spend putting it together. Being a hand letterer, of course I'm going to personally write the messages on my 3 year olds valentines. And I'll have my 4th and 6th grader write theirs out. I think writing each one gives it a more personal touch... and is great handwriting practice for kids.

Staple the message to the snack bag after you've washed your hands (of course!) and put the desired number of gumballs in and zipped it up, and VOILA there you have it. Easy Peasy.... not too expensive and can be done last minute. I already had the snack bags at my house so for this project I only had to buy a bag of gumballs which was $7 and change. Not too bad for 47 valentines!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Two Things

Two things:

1.) Today is my paternal grandma's 92nd birthday. She barely remembers who I am... but I called today to wish her a happy birthday.

When I opened up the contacts in my phone to get her number, I saw that I still have the phone number for my maternal grandma who died six years ago this March. Just for kicks, I dialed her old number. I don't know what I was going to say or do when someone answered the phone, but I assumed that six years later, surely someone else would have her old number. Instead of someone answering, I got an automated voice recording.... in Spanish. Not sure what that was all about, but I was relieved that I didn't have to either hang up on someone or explain why I was calling and sound crazy. I sure would have loved to have heard my grandma's voice pick up on the other end of the line. She was so knowledgeable and so much fun to talk to. She loved football... the Dallas Cowboys in particular... and would have had a lot to say about tomorrow's super bowl I'm sure. She had a contagious laugh. I miss her. I miss my kids knowing her.

2.) Jason shaved his beard into a goatee last night. HUBBA HUBBA! I'd been asking him for a while (before the wreck) to do it, and he kept telling me that he wasn't comfortable with his weight and would shave it once he lost weight. Well, landing himself in the hospital and not able to eat anything more than ice chips for ten days made him lose weight.... and not being able to walk has made him lose a bunch of muscle tone... so yesterday he felt comfortable enough to shave the beard into a goatee. I personally think he looks ten years younger which is funny because of what we now call his "face lift."

The "face lift" comes from a facial fracture Jason got during the wreck. On the night of the wreck, when I finally got to see Jason in ICU, this is what he looked like:

pretty, huh? Looking at that picture is still painful for me, because even though he's come a long way... the night this picture was taken was the beginning of our new normal. The night our lives changed forever... and he didn't even know it yet. He's so drugged in this picture he didn't even know that I was there or taking a picture. He has no memory at all of the first week in the hospital.  That nasty cut ended up being a facial fracture, and the way the plastic surgeon explained it to me a few days later, his facial structure looked normal at the time because it was so swollen, but she said that as time went on, if it wasn't fixed with surgery then as the swelling went down, it would look like Jason's eye was sunken into his head. So.... surgery it was.

The surgery required to fix his facial fracture and busted up sinuses meant that he had to literally be cut from one ear to the other along his hair line, and.... THEY PEELED HIS FACE DOWN to make sure that they kept the side they were working on symmetrical with the other side. I call it his zipper head.

um... ew.

The part that we've been getting a kick out of (gotta find that silver lining) is that when they pulled his skin back up to stitch him up, it's like he got a face lift! The wrinkles that he previously had on his forehead and the "crowsfeet" around his eyes, are now much less noticeable.

and so this new goatee....


A huge difference from this picture taken a few days after the surgery, huh?....

Friday, January 15, 2016


Tonight, my family enjoyed an AMAZING ethnic meal.


One month ago tonight, Jason was in the wreck that changed our lives. At the time, our newborn baby was only three weeks old, and being exclusively breastfed. After Jason was life flighted to the hospital an hour and a half away from home, he was in ICU and unable to eat. Since he couldn't eat, dietary services didn't give him a menu or bring him a tray at mealtimes... and since he wasn't eating, I wasn't eating... which we all know isn't good for a breastfed baby.

All of the nursing staff knew that I had a newborn baby staying with me day and night in the ICU, and they all knew that I didn't leave Jason's side for any amount of time. One staff member in particular, a beautiful black woman named Velma, started asking me if I was eating anything and I admitted to her that besides some snack foods that had been brought up to me, I hadn't eaten a proper meal in a few days. She started scolding me "you need to eat for the baby!" and I'd say "I know, Velma. I will. I promise." And then the next time she saw me she would ask if I'd eaten yet and I'd have to admit that I hadn't.

One day, I asked Velma where she was from. She has a pretty thick accent. She told me that she's from West Ghana, Africa and I made a comment that I bet she could make some amazing ethnic food. Next thing I knew, she was telling me that if it meant I would eat, she would cook me an African meal. "Yeah right" I thought to myself... but it was sweet of her to threaten to cook for me. Ha!

A few days later... I was sitting in Jason's ICU room... it was well into the afternoon and I hadn't eaten anything at all yet that day... and the phone in his room rang. It was Velma! She said it was her day off, but she had cooked me a meal and she was going to deliver it to me in the hospital.


You guys! This woman, who I had never met before Jason's wreck... just a regular desk employee at the hospital... cooked me a homemade meal!!!! And not only that, but not knowing me from Adam, she gave it to me in a really nice dish just completely trusting that someday I'd get it back to her.

And. It. Was. Amazing. It was some kind of spiced chicken legs on a bed of seasoned rice with lima beans and green beans and oh my goodness it was so yummy.

It was so much food that I filled my belly that day, and that night when I drove home to see my kids, I took the rest and put it in the freezer, so that once Jason was home he could try the amazing dish.

Tonight, he got to try it. That meal... that one amazing act of love to a patient's family... blessed me that night... and again tonight. It was so above and beyond her job responsibilities.

I am blessed to know Velma, and that meal we prayed over tonight will never be forgotten.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Superwoman Status

I'm truly feeling like a super woman tonight.

Today is January 12th. Tomorrow Jason will have been home from the hospital for one week and three days from now marks one month since the wreck. Sitting in a hospital setting for three weeks makes time stand still. Many times we wouldn't even know what day it was as every day was the same and one day ran right into the next. So three weeks later when we came home, it was weird to see that life went on and all the sudden here we are almost a month out from the wreck. Sitting in the house every day, only getting out to take kids to or pick them up from school has started getting painstakingly monotonous to me.

Yesterday, Jason's occupational therapist that came to the house suggested using some 10 lb weights to maintain arm strength since he's mainly using his arms to get around (transfer from bed to wheelchair to couch etc.) Well... we didn't have any 10 lb weights at the house. Then today, the physical therapist that came out said getting out of the house would be good for Jason's mental health.

Can you see where I'm going with this?

This afternoon, I got a seven week old baby, a one year old, and a three year old into the vehicle...then I helped Jason into the vehicle for the first time unsupervised... and got his wheelchair into the back of the suburban all by myself! We went and picked up the older two kids from town.... and drove thirty miles away to a bigger town with stores. While we were there, I successfully got five kids and my wheelchair bound husband out of and back into the vehicle not once... but TWICE! We even took on Wal Mart! Somebody get me a cape.

I at least deserve an honorable mention for Woman Of The Year in Time or People magazine, right??

Today Wal Mart... Tomorrow, the world.

For the record... Jason was NOT emotionally ready to get out and fought me on it but I insisted after the physical therapist said it would be good for him. He was pretty uncomfortable in the car ride there and back... and I imagine we won't be getting back out for a while. But for tonight, we made it work.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Thank you Lord!

I was driving home from the hospital in Columbia on the Wednesday before Christmas Eve. It's a 90 mile drive, and I hadn't been home since the Sunday before. I had lots on my mind including everything I needed to do to try and prepare to give my kids as "normal" of a Christmas as I could with their dad being in the hospital. Our tree sat in our house with not one present wrapped underneath it. I looked down and noticed that my gas tank was on empty. The needle was flirting with the red line. I knew that I could make it to the next nearest gas station and made a mental note to stop when I got there.

I called my best friend in Texas, and as we were talking, I absentmindedly drove right past the last gas station before home and got on a road that I lose cell service on. Our call got dropped, it was dark outside... 6:30 or so, my mom was expecting me home any minute, I'm in the middle of nowhere... and I feel my steering wheel lock up.

Yep... I ran out of gas.

I barely got my big suburban pulled all the way off of the road before it completely died. Desperately hoping I could get a text to go through, I texted Jason that I had ran out of gas. But it didn't go through. We were only one week out from the wreck, and I knew that when I didn't arrive home soon and mom couldn't get in touch with me, she'd get worried. So I turned on my hazard flashers and got out of my vehicle... ready to flag down the first car to drive by. This isn't a heavily traveled highway at night, so it was about five minutes or so before I saw lights approaching. Thank you Lord!

As the car got closer I hopefully started waving my arms. The driver slowed to a stop in the middle of the road, and rolled his window down. "I ran out of gas," I said... "and I have a baby in my car." At this point I realize that I sound like an axe murderer. How many stories have you heard that start with a poor helpless woman luring an innocent bypasser to a vehicle? I purposefully didn't approach his car, or ask him over to mine. The man told me that he didn't have a gas can. I told him there was a small family owned gas station up the road, and asked if he'd stop and get a gas can full of gas for me there and bring it back. He said he would be right back with gas. Thank you Lord!

Meanwhile, I'm still frantically trying to get the stars and satellites to align so a text will go through (not having any luck). It felt like forever, the man hadn't come back yet, it was starting to get cold... and the baby started screaming that she was hungry. I got the baby out of her car seat and started nursing her... praying that the man hadn't left us high and dry and was going to come back soon with some gas. Shortly, I see lights coming from the direction of the gas station, and realize that the vehicle approaching is slowing down. Thank you Lord!

The man pulled his car over on the opposite shoulder as me, and I rolled my passenger side window down. I told him that I was nursing my baby and couldn't get out of my car, and told him that my gas tank was on the driver side. It was pitch black outside and I couldn't get a good look at my helper, but I guess him to be in his sixties, wearing a beret style hat. "How much do I owe you for the gas?" I asked him. " I'm not going to let you pay me." He said. "No, you don't understand... I NEED to pay you." I said with tears forming in my eyes. "No, YOU don't understand," he replied... "I NEED to give you this gift." Thank you Lord!

At this point, I was full out crying. I told the man that he had no idea how much he was blessing me, and explained to him how my husband had been in a wreck, was in a hospital 90 miles away, and that I was on my way home with too much on my stressed out mind to remember to stop for gas! "Your husband wasn't the one hit by the drunk driver was he?" he asked me. "YES! He was!" I said. "I heard about that wreck. We've been praying for him" the man replied. Thank you Lord!

I asked him again if I could pay him, and he refused so I asked if I could at least know his name, and he came up to my window, and introduced himself as the pastor of a nearby church. Pastor Braun of Mt. Hulda Lutheran church. Are you kidding me, Lord?

He asked if I'd be going back to the gas station he'd gotten gas at and I told him I would. He asked me if I'd return the gas can as it was theirs. They'd let him borrow it to come assist me. When I walked in to the gas station, looking weary, thanking them for letting pastor Braun borrow their gas can, the man working said they keep that gas can just for those occasions. Thank you Lord!

Of all the people that could have driven by that night... God put a pastor on my path who had heard about Jason and had been praying for him. That.... was no coincidence!

Thank you Lord!

Friday, January 8, 2016

It "Just Happened" That...

The other day, I was in my car listening to KLOVE, and the song My Story by Big Daddy Weave came on. I've heard that song a million times, but for some reason that day it took on a whole new meaning for me.

If you're not familiar with the song, look it up on YouTube... but the lyrics go like this...

"If I told you my story, you would hear hope.

If I told you my story, you would hear love that never gave up

If I told you my story, you would hear life... but it wasn't mine

If I should speak then let it be

Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in


This is my story this is my song praising my Savior all the day long."

The reason I've told the story of the wreck, in detail,  is because of the events of what happened on and surrounding December 15th. I used to believe in coincidence, but when I look back on the web of events that was woven together, on that night and in the days following, I can't not give God ALL of the credit for Jason being alive today. I don't believe for one second that ANYTHING that happened that night was coincidence. I don't believe that anything "just happened to happen." I believe with all of my heart that God worked everything out the way that He did ON PURPOSE! I believe that God put specific people in specific places with specific tools, and if you don't believe in God, I pray that you will after reading this. I don't know how anyone couldn't... because to tell you our story is to tell of HIM.

A few days after the wreck, the tow truck company contacted me asking for permission to post pictures of Jason's totaled truck on their social media. The pictures I've attached to this post are the pictures they posted. A man I didn't know commented on the post saying that he was the first to arrive at the wreck and that he was the person who called 911. I replied to his comment telling Him that I'd like to talk to him, and shortly after he commented back with his phone number! Two days later, I left my husbands side at the hospital for the first time in five days to make a trip home, regroup, and see my kids. On the way home, I stopped by the yard where the totaled truck is being kept and I took a few minutes by myself there looking at the truck. I even climbed into the backseat and just thanked God over and over for sparing Jason's life. Having seen the truck now in person I just don't know how he wasn't crushed to death. Leaving there, I decided to call then man who had called 911 and thank him for stopping and helping. Little did I know, he did much more than just help. He saved Jason's life... and I still get chills when I recall the details. I told him I was getting ready to drive by and stop at the wreck site, and he asked me if he could join me there. YES!! This man's name is Daryl

I'm not in the medical field and have never known (or cared) much about blood pressure. All I knew was that any time I go to the hospital, I'm told I'm a poster child for perfect blood pressure...and I couldn't even tell you what that meant. Until now. Now, I know that a "perfect" blood pressure is 120/80. Now, I know that the top number is called the "systolic" rate, and that it measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats (when the heart muscle contracts). The bottom number is called the "diastolic" rate, and it measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats (when the heart muscle is resting between beats and refilling with blood). So like I said... a "perfect" systolic (top number) reading is 120. When the ambulance crew arrived and took Jason's blood pressure... his top number was 50. FIFTY!!!! I was told by one of his nurses in the ICU (named Becky!) that a systolic reading that low meant that he was in shock and his body was trying to shut down. This is the reason why no one on the wreck site that night could look me in the eye. This is why no one was telling me how Jason was. This is why later, I found out that no one on the scene that night expected him to live. He was dying!

The significance of all of this is this:

From the point on the highway that Jason got hit to town is probably a good eight miles. It's an often traveled highway, but not crazy busy, and often, you can go the whole way to town and not meet another vehicle. But that night, Daryl "just happened" to be on his way home from work. He "just happened" to notice a little Chevy Blazer flying down a perpendicular gravel road and knew he'd meet that vehicle at the top of the hill he was driving when the Blazer should be stopping at a stop sign. But when he got to the top of the hill, the Blazer wasn't at the stop sign coming off of the gravel road onto the highway, so he cautiously kept driving and "just happened" to see the collision between the two vehicles around a corner through some trees. He didn't see the actual collision since it was dark but what he describes that he saw was like someone had a flashlight and was waving it all around in some crazy light show. At the time, he wondered what in the world it was, but now he knows it was the moment the two vehicles collided. I believe with all my heart that God knew Jason would need immediate help, and Daryl was nine seconds behind that wreck. Far enough away to keep him from being in the middle of it, but close enough to stop immediately, call 911, and start helping Jason.

Daryl told the 911 dispatcher that Jason was going into shock and the dispatcher asked Daryl if he had any blankets in his vehicle. Would you believe that Daryl normally doesn't travel with blankets in his truck, but "just happened" to have a couple that he had used to hide Christmas gifts under that he had recently bought for his kids?? So he ran to his truck, grabbed the blankets and ran back to cover Jason up. That simple act was CRUCIAL to Jason's life being saved until an ambulance crew could get there and get some fluids in him until he could get flown to the hospital where he received a blood transfusion.

Other "God Winks":
* The guy Jason car pools with called our house phone. He'd never called our house before but "just happened" to have the number. This phone call was my first heads up that something was wrong and got me in my car going to look for Jason.
* It is my understanding that when accidents happen, police rotate who they call for towing services. It "just happened" that our good friend Jeff was next on the rotation and called to Jason's wreck. I don't know if professionally he's "allowed" or "should" have called me like he did to tell me that Jason had been in a wreck... but I'm SO glad that he did because otherwise I didn't get another call until Jason was in the emergency room at the hospital he'd been flown to and if I hadn't gone looking for him, and if Jeff hadn't called... I would have assumed Jason was at work just fine like normal and would never have known about the wreck as soon as I did. AND... the emergency room called my cell phone... WHICH DOESN'T GET SERVICE AT OUR HOUSE! So if the guy he car pools with hadn't called concerned and if I hadn't gone looking for Jason, I would have missed both the phone call from Jeff AND the emergency room!!

* Jason had been alternating between driving this big and high off the ground 2002 Chevy Silverado with a cattle guard on the front, and an older lower to the ground truck without a cattle guard. It "just happened" that he drove his big newer truck the night of the wreck. Recently, while driving, I saw a man driving a truck almost identical to Jason's... cattle guard and all, and I wanted to jump out and hug him and say "don't ever drive anything else! This truck saved my husband's life!" I'm going to insist that Jason gets the same truck again... or something similar. Jason is a loyal Chevy guy to the point that he has a Chevrolet tattoo AND he has a dog named Chevy! Ford drivers will occasionally give him a hard time and they'll go back and forth on who builds a better truck. I think Jason finally won that conversation! :)

Now you tell me that was all a "coincidence"


It is my hope and prayer, that after reading this, you reevaluate "coincidences" in you own life and instead, see them as ways that God is communicating with you, letting you know that He's there, even in the small details of your day.

"This is my story this is my song praising my Savior all the day long."

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Part Two

I stayed on the phone with our friend Jeff, the tow truck driver. I remember saying "Jeff, I'm here! I'm here!" He said he was walking towards me. When I saw him, I honked my horn and he came over to my vehicle. You would think I would remember word for word what he said but I don't. Because all I remember is hearing him say that Jason was alive... and screaming in pain. And I took those both as "good" signs. He was alive! And my brain heard nothing else.

He asked me if I wanted to go see him and I said yes, so he called someone over to stand by my vehicle with my kids so I could get out and go up to see Jason. When I got out of my Suburban, my knees buckled and I knew I was too shaky to walk on my own, so Jeff let me hold onto him, and started walking me up to the wreck....

.... but we were soon stopped by someone who said "you can't take her up there." I know you see movies where a loved one pulls up to a wreck and runs and screams up to the scene, not allowing anyone to hold them back... and people have asked me how I kept myself from acting that out. But truthfully... I was scared to death! What if I got up there and Jason had died? What if I got up there and he was physically beat up to the point of unrecognition? What if? What if? Were the "what ifs" worth making the nightmare I already relive made worse? But "what if" I hadn't run screaming up to him, and he had died... and I hadn't fought for a chance to say goodbye? I also worried that if Jason was conscious, me running up there would stress him out if he knew I was seeing this horrific scene... he worries about me that way.  So I walked back to my vehicle for the uncertain wait.

A man came up to my window and started assuring me that my husband's injuries were not life threatening and that he'd be ok. I started to feel relief... until he said "you're Daniel's wife, right?" No! I'm Jason's wife! Who's Daniel?? The man couldn't tell me the same thing about Jason. My heart, already in my stomach, dropped to my feet. A woman in scrubs started walking towards my vehicle, so I got out to speak to her... scared that whatever she had to say to me didn't need to be heard by the kids. She told me they were flying life flight in and asked me if there was anything she could do. I asked her if she prayed. She told me she did. I told her she could pray for me. So she did. She prayed. For me. Not once did she mention Jason in her prayers. She didn't pray for healing for him. She prayed for peace for me. I feared even more now that he was dead, or same as.

As all of this was happening, I had called Jason's oldest sister and told her that Jason had been in a wreck and that they were life fighting him, but I didn't yet know where to. She immediately said she'd get ready and meet me in town and go with me to wherever we needed to go. I knew I couldn't go alone. We sat there for what felt like forever and finally someone came and told me what hospital he was going to... and we heard the helicopter flying in to land at a bridge clearing behind us.

The ambulance transporting Jason to the helicopter drove past my vehicle, and minutes later we all watched as the helicopter carrying my husband lifted into the air. Please God, let him be ok. I figured at that point I could turn around and start driving to meet Jason's sister but I saw that they had traffic stopped in both directions. So we waited. And waited. And waited. And literally an hour later I was told that they would clear the road for me to get out. Hey asked me which direction I wanted to go... and it knew that going one way would drive me past Jason's truck that we could see ahead of us sitting in a ditch. At this point, I knew he'd been hit head on by a drunk driver, and while we could see the back of the truck... we couldn't see the front and I knew that I couldn't drive our kids and myself past it. So I opted to turn around and go backwards from the direction I'd came. It meant a longer drive but I knew it was best.

About fifteen minutes later my phone rang with an area code from the town Jason had been flown to. It was the hospital emergency room calling to inform me that my husband had been in a wreck and was at their facility. They wanted to know if I was on my way... but didn't say one word about Jason's condition... and I was too scared to ask...

Monday, January 4, 2016

December 15th, 2015

December 15th, 2015:

That night started out like any normal day. Jason was scheduled to work the night shift... his last night shift before Christmas vacation. We said our quick goodbyes in the kitchen with children under our feet like any other work night and he left out the door for work. About twenty minutes later as I was finishing up nursing Ellie, the house phone rang and I recognized the name on caller ID as the guy who Jason carpooled to work with, so I answered the call. He asked me if Jason was going to work that night and I told him that yes, Jason had left the house a while earlier. He said well, he hadn't shown up to get him yet and it wasn't like him to be late especially without calling to explain... Plus, he wasn't answering his phone. At that, I got a little concerned but said I'd try to call him as well. Before leaving the house that night, Jason had said he thought he might be coming down with the stomach bug I had and I was wondering if he'd gotten sick on the side of the road or had to stop to use a toilet at the gas station before picking this guy up. So I tried to call him... and tried to call him... And tried to call him... and after four or five times without him answering I genuinely got worried, but I had five kids at home that i didn't want to scare.

I knew I needed to go looking for Jason in case there had been some kind of emergency so, without saying why, I told the kids to quickly get their shoes on and get in the vehicle. I was in such a fearful rush at this point that I all but threw our 20 month old in the vehicle... with no shoes on. I couldn't find my keys and I was tossing everything out of my diaper bag looking for them. The only thing I didn't toss was my wallet! That was God. He knew I'd be going straight to the hospital without a chance to go back home and grab it. Everything else (diapers, wipes, breast pads, etc.) could be bought or replaced. So we got in the car and started out on the road Jason takes into town. At the top of a hill I could see across the valley in front of me and ahead on the road was a massive emergency scene. Ambulances, police cars, fire trucks... all with their emergency lights blaring. And I knew. My heart dropped to the floorboard as I kept driving towards the scene. My eleven year old said to me "are those ambulance lights?" to which I shakily replied (saying out loud for the first time) "Levi, I think that's dad. You need to start praying RIGHT NOW." We drove closer to the scene and about a quarter mile away from it, there was a man in the middle of the road with a flashlight stopping traffic and detouring them down a gravel road. I stopped and rolled my window down. The man said to me (where all of my kids in the car could hear) "Ma'am, I can't let you go up there. There's been a really bad wreck." And it was then that I died. I knew what scenes like the one I saw in front of me usually meant. And I knew it was Jason. Levi said to me "mom, I think I'm going to faint." and I replied "me too buddy." My heart and soul were in my stomach. My head was spinning. My mouth had gone completely dry. I was sure in that moment I was going to faint. Or throw up. Or maybe both.

I somehow found my voice and quietly said to the man "I think my husband was in that wreck." He asked me why I thought so and I told him that my husband usually traveled this road to work, he hadn't showed up to pick up the guy he car pools with and he wasn't answering his phone. So the man radioed up to the scene to get first names of the occupants. It felt like forever and no one was radioing back to him. So I called my parents. I said to them that I thought Jason had been in a wreck but I couldn't accurately freak out like I NEEDED to because my kids were all in the vehicle witnessing everything. I just remember my voice being barely above a whisper. I was so scared. I can't even describe in words the fear I felt. Was my husband dead? We have kids! We have a newborn! We have boys that need a dad! We have girls that need a dad! I need my husband!

As I was on the phone with my parents I got a call from a number I didn't recognize so I switched over and answered it. It was our good friend who also happened to be the tow truck driver called to the wreck. The fear in his voice was obvious as he said to me "Becky! Jason was in a bad wreck!" At this, I said to the man stopping traffic that it was my husband and I drove past him up to the wreck scene. I parked back a few feet afraid to get too close. I didn't know what I would see. I didn't know what our kids would see....

Saturday, January 2, 2016

God Winks

Today is Day 19 since the wreck on December 15th that almost took my husband Jason's life. Nineteen days that he has been an hour and a half away from our home either in a hospital or rehab center. This afternoon, to get a break away from hospital walls, I took a break and went to Barnes and Noble. Walking in the doors of B&N, I saw this bargain book on the stands there by the door...

I'd never seen this book before but it's called When God Winks At You; How God Speaks Directly To You Through the Power of Coincidence. And I wondered to myself... is it a coincidence that I'm noticing this book on my way in?? Ha!

You see.... I'm not sure anymore that I believe in coincidences since Jason's wreck. I'll be blogging soon about all of the little details that I've learned since the wreck that makes me believe without a shadow of a doubt that there were no coincidences that night. There were no circumstances where anything "just happened." It all falls too perfectly into place. I believe with my whole heart that Jason wasn't supposed to die that night. It wasn't in God's plans... and so He made sure that He put the right people in the right place at the right time with the tools they would need to save Jason's life. God winked at us several times that night and the days following.

Anyways... I bought the book. How could I not? I'm eager to read the "true stories demonstrating that God does communicate with us, making incredible things happen in our lives every single day."

Tell me of a time that a coincidence happened in your life that you KNOW is more than "just" a coincidence. It may just have been a God wink

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year 2016

Has it really been a whole year (plus) since I've blogged?? Oops. I didn't mean to let it go that long!

I don't typically make new year resolutions, but one thing I'd like to do better this year is blog.

So here I am.

I hate to start out the new year talking about the old, but for those that don't know... my husband was in a horrific car wreck on December 15th of 2015. That's consuming our life right now so I'll definitely be blogging about that soon...

... and also one of the things I'm doing this year is going through Lara Casey's Power Sheets, and I hope to blog that process too.

Throw in a little bit of my hand lettering business, Full Quiver Designs... maybe a little photography... stories about my kids/family (including a new thing I call "conversations with Jentry") and we will have plenty to talk about.

So happy new year 2016 everyone!

Be back soon,
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