Making the transition. Part 2

Its early. I just made breakfast for Adam and got him off to work. Caden is on the couch drinking his chocolate milk and watching trains. I thought while things were quiet I would finish my ramblings from yesterday.

I look back at how small he was and I was so wrapped up in work I missed all of that.
After three months of living in the RV we finally closed on our house. Looking back, I thank God every single day for that "transition". When I tell you I had to learn how to be a SAHM I really am not lying. You may know how to be a mom. You may know how to be a wife. One does not simply become a stay at home mom/wife overnight after having a career. If you are one of those who had an easy my friend, are my hero!
You mean you want dinner every night? When did cereal not become acceptable?
I don't remember my house getting dirty so fast! Wait...I wasn't home to make it messy.
Didn't I just emptied this dishwasher this morning? How in the world can it be full again?
What do you mean we only have $10 in our checking account? We just got paid yesterday!
Is that poop on the floor or a chocolate raisin? No its poop.
Don't touch that. Don't touch that. Don't touch that. I told you not to touch that.
No you can't eat the dog food. Fine. Eat the dog food.

Rosie when she was just a baby. This is Caden's best friend. Although she is now twice his size. They love each other.
It didn't really sink in that I wasn't going back to work until we moved and I would get Adam off to work. One day it occurred to me that I wasn't ever going to be leaving my house again as a "working" mom. I hit that wall again. This time I didn't have to go to the dr. I still had that full bottle of medicine in the cabinet. Problem solved. So I dug it out. Held it in my hand. Just take one. You need it. Its temporary. You'll be fine. I closed the lid and put it back. Stood there at the counter and cried. Who in the world had I become?? I had always put so much of my self worth into work. Rated my day and myself by how much we got accomplished off the "Notes". These days the notes never go away. I am doing literally the same thing watched to movie ground hog day? I am living it.
I don't consider myself to be unstable. Yes I cry. A lot. Its not my fault. That little boy sitting on the couch changed me. If you are reading this you understand. Finding "You" as a SAHM is extremely important. I can't emphasis this enough. Who are you? Yes you are a mom. You maybe a wife. You may also be the Primary President at church. Those are roles you play. Who are you? Are you that mom/wife that makes your home a safe haven? A place your family knows if every single thing has gone wrong that day they can come home and feel safe. Are you that mom/wife who worries about how clean the house is and neglects those precious memories of being silly on the floor? Are you that mom who can't let yesterday go and your family members end up having to tip toe around you?

In a fleeting moment in time. So thankful we have pictures.
It has taken me over a year to decide who I really am. After putting so much self worth into my job. I didn't know who I was. It has been an emotional evolution for me. Those questions up there I asked you...were me. I had gotten so wrapped up in this picture perfect life as a stay at home wife and mother I had no concept of what it looked like in real life. Wanna know what it looks like now?
1. Teeth need to be brushed. --mine are optional. (Just kidding)
2. Tummies need to be full. --mine a little to much
3. Fun is mandatory

Right now at this stage of life that is all that is required. Yes there is child training in there. Yes we have tantrums and Caden has them too. If you come over unannounced I may or may not answer the door.

Most of my house cleaning happens either at nap time...or not at all. I really try and have the house picked up when Adam gets home not because I want him to think I have cleaned all day, but because after dinner...I DONT WANT TO CLEAN UP! Does it happen all the time. No it sure doesn't.
Seriously people. (As I am writing this Caden is peeing off the porch. I love potty training.) Those clothes can wait. The dust can wait. The vacuuming can wait. That schedule that you think HAS to stay put...needs to be flexible. If you don't get everything you want to get done today there is always tomorrow. There is nothing important enough to hurt a little ones feelings over. Ten years from now are they going to remember you having a freak out moment over...who knows what? Or are they going to remember the way you made them feel important and that they mattered?

 I know that this should go without saying, but those tiny children are real people. They have feelings. They matter. I think I realized this one day when Caden started shaking when I got upset. I was scaring him. (I had always heard I was a scary person when I got mad. I saw it in his eyes that day) My heart shattered into a million pieces. Whatever I got mad at was not important enough that my son needs to be shaking and afraid of me. I was ashamed. Then a few days later his behavior mimicked mine. I did not want to become THAT mom for sure.

What mornings look like at our house. Laying on his mat I made for him. He loves that thing.

Don't get me wrong. Caden does get disciplined. He does have consequences. I expect more out of him because I know he can do it and communicate my expectations. He doesn't always get it right, but neither do I. Its ok. Practice makes progress.

I have learned that you, as the home maker, have the ULTIMATE control of the environment at home. I don't care what anyone else says. I don't care what anyone else does. I don't care what your lifestyle is and frankly I don't care how much money you are worth. Your children and your home are and will become what you mold them into. You will make mistakes. (I know I still make them and know I will always make them) Apologize. Adjust. Move on. Change is good.

Be the best you. Not just for you but for your family.

Thank you for allowing me to share this with you.

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Making the transistion. Part 1

I know I have already blogged this week, but this has been on my heart and I wanted to share it. What a better audience to share it with than with you. --You're Welcome--
With us celebrating Mother's Day this month I wanted to blog about something that has taken me a lifetime to achieve. Being a mom. What I thought was going to be an easy thing to do has been the most difficult thing I have ever done.  I think everything about it has been difficult.
Getting pregnant.
Almost dying in the hospital after delivery.
The recovery.
 After 13 weeks of a long recovery and getting to know my son I had to go back to work. I still remember dropping him off at his sitters house and crying all the way to work. Feeling like a complete failure for not being able to stay at home with him. I thought I HAD to go back to work to pay for our bills. I prayed so hard to find someone that would love him as much as I did and although I HAD really found someone, and she did an AMAZING job, no amount of love someone else gives your child is the same as the Mother's love. Period. I know our Father in Heaven put her in our life because he knew we needed each other. After about 3 weeks I started to enjoy that time away. I felt like a "Super Hero" (I use that word because that is what we call my husband now) at work. Getting things done, accomplishing things outside of the home. I thought I was someone important and could make a difference. Although I WANTED to be at home with my son, it seemed easier to go to work.
That smile still makes my heart melt.
We went like this for 18 months. After several months of wrestling with myself about what I REALLY wanted for my future I went in prayer. Funny how things work out for the best when you stop doing things on your own and allow God to work.
Not getting a paycheck of my own was scary. We didn't need it any more. We had sold our house and we didn't have a house payment that NEEDED me to work. Plus I needed to finish packing and moving our house. That became my job. After that was over and we were comfortably moved into a 1982 36 foot RV my job became making sure my husband and my son were taken care of. How does one go from being a manager of a multimillion dollar retail store, managing any where from 80-500 people to staying home with a toddler? Eyes Wide Open. I used to joke with my mother-in-law that I went from my words and requests meaning something to being with someone who had no idea what I was talking about at all. Ever. Going from HAVING to be moving all day long to having to slow down and enjoying life. I did NOT adjust well.
Those eyes never get old to look at.
Its very difficult to put into words (with my very limited vocabulary) the culture and emotional shock I went through. I am very routine, to the letter, rules for everything, kind of person. I ran my business  that way. I ran our life that way and I thought for sure, when I stayed home, life was going to be the same way. Get up. Get dressed. Have an agenda. Stick to the agenda. Be the agenda...don't stray from the agenda...then check off those little notes like I did at work. I stress myself out just thinking about it now. I know most of you SAHM are like yeah...whatever.. what agenda!?
I think after being home for about two months I became depressed. What?! You!? Yes. Me. I had had those feelings before, but I was always able to dive into work and forget about them. Not this time. I went and saw the Dr. I needed to hear that I was sick with a cold or my iron was low. Something other than telling me I was depressed. He sat down and looked me in the eye and said.
"Do you think you might be depressed?"
(I think I may have started crying before he even asked me.)
 "I have a feeling all of these tests are going to come back normal. You've just had a lot of big changes happen its probably just temporary. It will be ok."
--Duh. I am to stubborn to play pity party for long. He scribbled me out a script and off I went.

I always missed things because I had to always work. He loves meeting new friends.
I filled that script. Took it home. Put it on the counter and starred at it. Almost as a reminder to get over it. Constantly reminding myself to stop being such a baby. To be grateful for the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom. I was, after all, getting to see my son grow up before my eyes. Get to take naps when I wanted to. Go and do what I wanted to...stick to the agenda. Right??
 Let me tell you something. Being a stay-at-home mom is the single most difficult job I have EVER done. Period. This beats ANYTHING I ever did for Walmart. It's the most unappreciated, unrecognized job there is out there. When I tell people I am a stay at home mom they ROLL THEIR EYES AT ME! Then start talking to me in short, small phrases. I am serious. Like my credentials as a stay-at-home mom are worth nothing. It doesn't matter what I was BEFORE I was a mom. A mom, in this society, doesn't mean a HILL a beans. Not that it matters what other people think about me, but I almost blame societies image of women for choosing to stay at home as not as important as working.

Who says I don't work??
Do we make as much money as we did before?
Not even close.
Do we have as much "stuff" as we used to?
Has it been easy?
Yes. When he is asleep.
I can tell you that even though we don't make as much. I am more tired than I have ever been, get dressed less, and put on make up less and less these days, My marriage has never been better. My son is happier. Our lives are finally the way it should be.
This is the single most important job there is.
These are moments worth sticking around for.

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sniffle, sniffle, sneeze. Cough....repeat!

I have seen, more like read, hundreds of people on Facebook suffer this year with seasonal allergies. 'Tis the season right?  I know all about them. I too suffer TERRIBLY from allergies. I have been clinically diagnosed with being allergic to trees and grass. (I live in Alabama...not the best place for me to live) My list of prescriptions from Dr's every single, year would grow...and grow....and grow. Every year it was different ones because I would build up an immunity. THEN half way through the year I would get a sinus infection. Never understood why I stayed so sick...then came the headaches...then came the migraines...Terrible cycle.
Until I met my "Crunchy" friend. Thanks Jaclyn. xoxo
To make a long story short I have not had to go to the Dr this year for allergy medicine. Nope not once. I have not had 1 single migraine. (knock on wood) Nor have I had a sinus infection. I think this is the first year I have been able to breath out of BOTH nostrils this time of joke. What am I doing you ask? Its pretty simple are you ready? Got your paper out?? Write this down and stick it in your purse and run to the grocery store...
This is from Dollar General I think it was $3. I have the one from Walmart, but I like this one better.

Local honey. This local  RAW honey is grown in my backyard...can't get any more local than that. That local and RAW part is really important.

Last but NOT least...My elderberry syrup.
Packed with allergy CRUSHING ingredients!

The problem I had with allergy medicines was it wasn't helping me It was making things worse. I am sure you notice that too. After that allergy medicine wears off you are good for nothing. Am I right?? Then you are either miserable until bed time or you are scrambling to find your next hit. STOP THE MADDNESS!!! I think last night I had an "episode" and it was probably because I had forgotten to take it, problem solved. I took the Echinacea and a spoonful of honey and within 20 minutes I was back on track. No terrible side effects. Seriously folks!

 My allergies are A.W.E.F.U.L. I was willing to try anything. Aside from drinking my own urine. (I have read that too) I went with all three and they have worked. For fear of it being a combination I haven't let off any of them. I will just continue with what works. Try it. Seriously what do you have to loose!

 Ever walk outside and you can physically FEEL the pollen attack you? Feel it flying up your noes laughing all the way? This is the first year I say "Bring it on" aren't bringing me down this year!

My son takes this, my husband takes this. It works. All of this is good for more than just allergies. Look it up.
Good luck. Let me know how it works for ya!

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Far from Brave.

Changing gears this week. I thought I would talk about my recent post on Facebook that I got a lot of questions and inquires about. Homeschooling. My favorite response was:
 "You are really brave!"

I posted a comment on Facebook about getting some of our homeschool curriculum in, and how EXCITED I was about it. (I am really not sure "excited" is an appropriate word for it...I am bursting at the seams to get started.)  I introduced the idea to my husband before our son was even a twinkle in our eye. The idea would come and go with the wind. When I was working it wasn't really an option for us. I couldn't homeschool and be a manager working 50-75 hours a week. I had to sleep sometime and so did my son. We dropped the idea.

I can pick what we learn about! If he hates it? We switch. Its about learning to love learning.

Now that I am a stay-at-home mom it is FINALLY a viable option. We started praying about it. After about a week it wasn't even a question. We would home school. It was the right thing for our family. Accepting the "call" like ones goes into a scary movie.   Apprehensive. Scared. Anxious. -Brave?- Not one of those. It scares the breath out of me when I think about taking my son's future into my hands. How educated we are impacts our life, without getting over dramatic here, even so far to say our family tree. It also impacts the social society around us. Don't believe me? Walk into the inner cities of Birmingham, Detroit, and Compton. I do NOT want failure to be in my son's future. I also want him to be able to do anything he wants. Plumber? Electrician? Parts Salesman? Doctor? Surgeon? Dentist? Stay at home Dad? Fine. I am there behind you. I will give him the tools to do all those things.

There were a lot of people saying: "Couldn't ever do it", "I've thought about it, but don't know where to start" "How is your son going to socialize?" and "I am not smart enough to homeschool." Those are all legit comments and questions. I don't think there is 1 reason we decided to homeschool. All I know is I am a product of the public school system and although I don't consider myself to be an idiot. I do still struggle with a lot of things that I am embarrassed about.

Learning doesn't have to be expensive. These are homemade.
Match the number with its word name.

1. I can not spell. In the words of my mother "Your spelling is atrocious". Yes. I know. Thank GOSH I have autocorrect. (and even then my phone is like "I got nothing")
2. Grammar? HA. My favorite teacher was ALWAYS getting me for my commas.
3. I did NOT know what a Noun was until my Junior year in high school. I am serious.
 4. I finally grasped math my junior year in High School. I am not talking about 1+1, I am talking about fractions.
 Do those things disqualify me from teaching my son? No. Actually I feel like it motivates me more. Every single one of us learns differently and I will not tolerate some teacher telling me my son needs to be on medicine because he is bored in class. I also think the curriculum that teachers are required to teach impacts our children and their self esteem. There is a time and a place for things to be hard. When they are young...learning needs to be FUN! They will learn more. Be excited about learning. WANT to learn.  
Parents who send their children to Private school are BRAVE.
Parents who send their children to Public school are BRAVE.
Parents who send their children to Charter schools are BRAVE.
Parents who decide to teach their children at home are BRAVE.
 I think parents in general are BRAVE. It takes a lot of courage to have a child. To be selfless every single day to make decisions that are no longer what is good for you, but what is good for the child. I have a girl friend who had a rant and said "We need to stop comparing ourselves to others. We need to stop putting each other down and encourage one another." Do you know who knows what is best for your child? YOU DO! If something doesn't sit right with you. It isn't right. We give to much credit to people who have degrees in something and we reluctantly give credit to our God given intuitions.
 Fine motor skills? Clothes pins! Match the letters to its popsicle stick. He LOVES it!
Plus. Guess what. School doesn't have to be what we are used to. Taking a trip to the beach turns into an endless learning opportunity. Going on a walk around the block turns into learning. My son's favorite thing in the world is trains. " T is for Thomas!" Fantastic way to learn the Alphabet. Every single thing you do can be turned into learning. Don't worry about "socializing". A trip to the grocery store is an amazing way to learn eye contact, thank you's, excuse me's, and learn how to count money or how to be polite to people in line. 
I wont go on right now. I will do a follow up post later. One thing I know for sure. I am scared to death deciding to homeschool. 
 God doesn't choose the qualified. He qualifies the chosen.

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What would you have us do next?

I got my first "Hate Mail" (I am calling it) last week. I guess there is a first for everyone. This has turned into an outlet for me. Its almost like a journal of thoughts and feelings. Not really concerned about what people think or feel after reading it although I do appreciate the time they spent sharing my ramblings. This is a better place to release than Facebook.

There have been so many things that have happened to me that give me not a single slightest doubt in my mind there is a God and that he does love us.
1. When I was about 11 I was hit by a car. She was going approximately 45 miles an hour and was not paying attention to what was going on around her. I hit the hood of the car, slammed into the windshield slug over the top, I shattered the back glass and finally to the hot summer asphalt. I do not remember feeling any pain. All I remember was I needed to pee. After all, that was the reason I was riding my bike home to my grandmothers house. I have no memory of the trauma my body felt or what was going on internally. I DO remember being told by an old man (Dr. Bateman who saw the accident) not to close my eyes or sleep. (I do remember being EXTREAMLY tired) My grandma telling me I was ok and that everything was going to be fine. They both were lying to me. I had fluid coming out of my ears that the Dr. said was an indication of a head trauma . They strapped me to a board and off I went to the ER to have pictures taken.--After several hours of nonsense I finally got to pee.  I walked away from that accident like nothing had ever happened. Not a scratch anywhere on my body. Several weeks later a young girl in the same town was not so lucky.

Most women would never let you see this picture of them. I am swollen and still pretty pale. I just got out of bed. Most pain I have ever experienced. I am just grateful to have been holding my tiny newborn son.
 2. Several years later and a few days before my high school graduation I got sick with a head cold that left me pretty much unable to see, walk or get out of bed. Worried I wouldn't be able to walk across the stage and receive my diploma, because I couldn't miss practice, I plead with my mom for ideas. I was not an active member of the LDS church and couldn't remember ever having a priesthood blessing. I talked to my step father about having one and he said "Its not just about the blessing, but about your faith." Did I have enough faith to believe that Heavenly Father and Jesus could heal me? Phew. I had a lot riding on this blessing. YES! I remember coming out from the basement. Feeling like a creature from the underworld. My mom following closely behind me. Not being able to see very well and feeling like I was one knock away from being taken (and I am sure looking and smelling like it) by death. Fred Hadley was there with Keith Brothersen (my step father) ready to give me a blessing. To this day I can not tell you what was said. I can just remember FEELING like I had been touched and would be healed. My mom lead me back down stairs into the cave. I had such a peaceful sleep. My mom said when she came to check on me, my fever ,that would not break, had finally broke. I graduated. In my pictures you can not tell I had been sick. It was really a miracle.
...I could tell you thousands of moments in between, but I will spare you the boredom and hopefully not embarrass myself...
We were young and in love. We are still IN love, just not so young any more!

After my husband and I were married I became ill. "Violently ill" doesn't even begin to describe it. I forged through it. We went to church.  We planned on making a trip to my mothers, about an hour away, because it was Mother's Day. We had not been home long when I passed out, stopped breathing, and had a seizure. Panicked, my new husband called 911, all the while trying to get me to come to. This would be my first of MANY MANY "episodes" as we call them. No explanation as to why. Several dr's later and many sleepless nights we have decided to keep me away from triggers. Still we do not have a diagnosis.
Fast forward about 3 years. We are now living in Alabama. It was a fast Sunday and we had just awoke from our afternoon nap. When I came down stairs I felt another "episode" coming on and tried to make it to the floor and couldnt before the lights went out. I remember feeling peaceful and seeing my Grandmother who had passed not long before. Usually these episodes are pretty easy to come out of and don't last long. Adam said my lips were blue and he said I shook. What seemed like just a few moments to me lasted several minutes for Adam. He was worried I wasn't going to wake up. I remember it being hard to come back out of it. For whatever reason I was sent back. Still stubborn I guess and hadn't learned much I am sure, but I come by it naturally I assure you.
I still get that same feeling when I see this house now. When I saw this house for the first time on the MLS it felt like home. Now its not so much "The house", but all the hundreds of thousands of memories inside this house. This is and will always be a happy place for me.
Large and in charge...The baby...Not the woman.
3. My husband and I have had an extremely difficult time conceiving for whatever reason. Our son is literally our miracle baby. I joke around and say I don't have a clue how he "happened"...but it is partially true. (I wont go into his birth story here. I will save that for his birthday.) I will tell you after I delivered him and was sent to the recovery room I coded. My husband and sister were in the room and said every nurse on the floor came rushing into my room. I remember passing out. Not sure if it was from pain or if it was because my vitals dropped. I don't remember saying "Grandma why are you here?" or the nurses saying "Sweet heart where do you see your grandma" or my husband saying "Her grandmother died last year" or the nursing saying "That's NOT a good sign", but there in the room was my grandmother. "Jennifer its not time yet. You need to be strong. Everything is going to be ok"

This is how I see my grandma. Just young.
Not time for what? HA! Seriously. I must really need a lot of rough edges smoothed out.
Our son had just been born. He was perfect in every single way. I know that Heavenly Father knew Adam couldn't handle loosing his wife after just giving birth to his son. Still to this day Adam doesn't like talking about it. A tornado of emotions colliding that he doesn't like to relive.
Can you see how tired he looks. I am not sure he slept more than a few hours a night. I still look pretty pale from the blood transfusions and Caden is still in a fetal position he is so new. Literally our first family picture.
After a long struggle with wanting to become a Store Manager with Walmart or being a stay-at-home mom with Caden. I had a moment with Heavenly Father that solidified my faith. I plead with him. Let it all out. Cried. Not one of those moments you see on TV, but a quiet moment on my knees in a humble prayer. No other agenda. I gave it my all. Then I made a promise. I will go and do and be where ever you want me to be if you will allow me to stay at home. What seemed like an impossible feat happened in a matter of months. Faith. Although it was a tiny request HE heard my heart and I KNEW he would answer my prayer. It happened in a time I think I needed it the most. Yet following instruction as I got them and having faith he would lead us through whatever struggles we would have to deal with.
Leaving a very good career. Walking away from two incomes. Selling a house we both loved. Giving up material items we thought mattered. Giving our doubts and our fears to prayer and trusting the Lord would carry us through.
You never know the love you have for a child until you are a parent. They always tell you, but you really truly don't know.
I am not saying I am perfect. I think I view things a lot differently now. Every single day is a day I don't take for granted. Whether its playing on the floor with my son in the same clothes I have worn for two (or three) days, or holding him in my lap watching Thomas the Train (for the umpteenth time), I cherish every.single.breath like it may be my last. Not relying on what our desires are, but relinquishing our lives to Our Father in Heaven.
One of our very first pictures together after I became a stay at home mom. We all look so happy!
 What would you have us do next?
That is the question. Anxiously waiting for our next Journey. Waiting for our next mission. Constantly reminding myself its not what I want for us, but what our Father would have us do right now.
Thank you for reading.
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She only waited 50 years.

I wont be disclosing who this blog is about, but I wanted to share an experience I am having with a friend.

I have never been one to stand up and preach the gospel to anyone. Maybe its a flaw. Maybe its because I have made so many STUPID mistakes in my 32 years that I don't feel preaching the gospel to anyone is appropriate. I just want to live in such a way that those around us notice a difference and want to know what we are doing differently. That simple. Do I believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the restored church on the earth today. Without a shadow of a doubt, YES!  Do I think those who aren't will be doomed...No. Its not my place, nor anyone else's, to determine that. Which is done entirely to much in this part of the world. Treating anyone differently because they choose to live a different religion is not what we have been commanded to do. Its taken me awhile to grab  hold of that idea of thinking. That the way I treat others, that didn't have the same line of thinking as me or lived contrary to the way our church taught, was WRONG.
So wrong.
Not until I met this friend did I realize how wrong I was.
I met her in a gas station several years ago. A very unlikely place to meet a friend, I know, but the older I get the more I realize that God puts people in my life for a reason. Its has become important for me to understand those relationships. I saw her a couple times a month and it was pretty superficial, nothing that really made us "friends". Over the past several years we would see each other more often and she would ask Adam and I a few question about our religion. I thought it would be better if I sent her things to read instead of answering questions, because that is the way I learn.  I  sent her things to read. Later I would ask her if she had any questions about anything. I knew she didn't read them because she would change the subject. Fair enough...I would just leave it alone and wait until she was ready.

"You can take the horse down to the water, but you can't make him drink it"
Years would go by and not another word would ever be said.
Then last year when we were all just hanging out she asked Adam and I some point blank questions about things. Not necessarily about the LDS church, but the gospel of Jesus Christ. I was thrilled. Not because I wanted her to be LDS, but because she needed the spirit in her life. I think everyone does. What would have been a short visit lasted until the wee hours of the morning. In our church we talk about sacred places...that night as we talked about Jesus Christ...we were in a sacred place. I knew she felt it. She had tears in her eyes. It was a special moment for all of us.
 It was a break through.
Last year brought a lot of huge changes to our small family. It started off with my husband changing career paths and then a few months later being offered a promotion. (Only a two hour drive a day)Then the sale of our house to an amazing family that was an answer to another one of my prayers. (As much work as we put into that home, I didn't want a family to move into it that would destroy it.) Then last but not least I "retired" from working outside the home and became a full time stay-at-home mother and wife. Phew. Catch all that...oh and by the way we have no where to live.
It was stressful, but it was a new chapter in our lives. It was a fantastic opportunity for me to foster relationships that I had neglected because of all the hours I put into work. She was one of those relationships I chose to foster. We saw each other a lot the next few months. Pretty much everyday. It was great to have a friend that wasn't associated with where I used to work. After working for so long I needed to see how to live a life without a "job".  I needed to learn to enjoy the moment. She taught me that. She taught me how important it was to
 Just sit and be still.
 Enjoy the sun.
 The wind.
The grass in between my toes.  
Just to appreciate time.
When I was with her, time seemed to stand still. I knew although she was watching the way I lived, she didn't judge me. She just loved me because we were friends. Not for what I could do for her, or what I could give her but because we were friends. Friends like that are very few and far between.
I have always worried about what my house looked like when anyone came over. How it looked. Were my walls clean? (I have had people make comments about dust in my house) Had I dusted this week? Are my beds made? Is everything just perfect? Does it smell good or bad? Then one day as we were sitting on her couch talking, people just started showing up at her house unannounced. (feeling appalled and uncomfortable I wanting to leave) She just brought them in and we all just hung out together. Talked like family. She never cared what her house looked like. If she did, it never showed. It was a very humbling experience. She doesn't have much. Grew up and raised her children with little to nothing. Yet as these unannounced guests would arrive she was making them coffee, (I hear those Mormon's gasping) Offering them sweet tea, (and another Gasp of Horror) or something sweet she may have had.
Acts of a true Christian woman.
When we got settled into our home, about an hour away from her, we would call each other often and just chit chat about anything and everything. Its been a long time since I have been able to talk to someone about everything from politics to what's for dinner, without one of us getting upset about an opinion. (Usually the other person, but who is keeping track.) It was nice to have someone to talk to on the phone while I cleaned the house. Adult conversations are important...especially being with a toddler all day.
One day a few months ago she asked if I could send her some more information about what we believed...her husband was asking some questions. --Usually this is where any other "Good Mormon" would start sending over missionaries. (Hey Peter Priesthood don't roll your eyes at me!) I sent her more information. After I mailed it I never mentioned it again. I honestly didn't think she would even open the package or read anything I sent her. Then a few days after I mailed the package, she called me and asked me questions about things she was reading! Say WHAT!? My first missionary moment. (Better write that down somewhere)
She told me that day, that she had never read the bible. Ever. That although she had known there was something missing in her life she ignored it. Never knowing that her Heavenly Father really truly loves her. Never knowing that she could be forgiven for anything she had ever done if she would repent and never look back. I sat and listened to her voice crack and then her cracked voice turned in to sobbing in-between words. She told me how all her life she had ignored the promptings she had been given to go to church or to read. How powerful that conversation was for her, and for me. She had found her "uncommon courage" to stand outside of the world and listen to the one that created her. I am eternally grateful that she shared that with me.
Now when she calls (which is at least once a week) she tells me what she has read and is on FIRE about it. Its like a child learning to read for the first time. She can't get enough. I will text her and ask her how her reading is coming along and she will respond with "Just finished. Read for two hours this morning"...proud moment! Or my favorite when she asked me about Cain and Abel and I read the verse where Cain said "I am not my brother's keeper" and she came back with "Did he really just SASS God!?" (never looked at it THAT way) We laughed so hard. That was the first time she had read that story.
Our Father in Heaven works miracles I am so thankful that she taught me to slow down and take time to enjoy them. I know she thinks I am the one that brought her to Christ, but I think she was finally ready to listen. I was just the vessel that he was working through that finally reached her. It wasn't REALLY me
. When I stopped judging her for who she had become over the years, started looking at her for what she was in the eyes of our Father, that is when I loved her for what she really was.
 A child of God.
I pray that someday she will decide to be baptized. Although I have my idea of what church I would like her to BE baptized in...(Cough cough...LDS CHURCH) I honestly don't care where. I just want her to have a relationship with Our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. (Can I still keep my missionary moment even if she doesn't become LDS?? I am keeping it anyway. Back up off me.)
Sometimes its not about the crops you reap, but the seeds you sow.
Love one another.

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Humbly Aware

Once again I am late posting...So what else is new? I guess I see a trend. I swear I am trying. This week I may have a legitimate excuse. What do you think? 

Living in the south we all know there is a possibility we will some time in the year see or have a scare with tornado or tornados, and this year has been no exception. This year marks the 3rd year anniversary of the April 27, 2011 tornados that literally devastated every single city that was in their path. Most of those cities are still rebuilding. Most are still emotionally recovering from their loss of not only property, but family and friends. Several never finding their loved ones. Those tornados are what they call "generational" tornados. Tornados that only happen once in our lifetime. They were EF5's that ripped this state apart. I still get goose bumps thinking about it.

 Hackleburg aftermath. April 27, 2011
I am not down playing any Tornado. Devastation is Devastation no matter where you live and these weren't the only tornados that happened in the state of Alabama that dreadful day. I think Hackleburg to me stands out because this tornado literally took this entire town down to its foundation. Taking up roads and sidewalks with it. Adam went to help clean up and said his heart just broke. These people had nothing left.
Tuscaloosa, Al.
As we watched this tornado forming and headed to Tuscaloosa we all held our breath. This is home to the University of Alabama with thousands upon thousands of students attending and in school. With the reputation of the storms that day it wasn't looking good. Yet at the last moment this tornado turned a hard corner missing the school and the hospital by less than a mile.
Looking for more information on the April 27 tornado's I found this tidbit.--
"April 27 had the most tornado-related fatalities in the United States in a single day since the "Tri-State" outbreak on March 18, 1925, when at least 747 people were killed.[10][11][12][13] Nearly 500 preliminary local storm reports were received for tornadoes over four days, including 292 in 16 states on April 27 alone.[14] This event was the costliest tornado outbreak and one of the costliest natural disasters in United States history (even after adjustments for inflation), with total damages of approximately $11 billion (2011 USD).[1]"
We have two tornado seasons in the south, Spring and Fall. Here lately our most deadly has been in the spring.
As we started preparing for the storms that were headed our, way we were also celebrating our 7th anniversary. What better way to celebrate our anniversary, and Adam's only day off, than to watch what mother nature would be creating for us this day. Hoping to see a tornado or two without seeing people hurt or their property being damaged.
These storms coming across Arkansas produced extremely violent storms. Now Arkansas has a very similar "infamous" date of April 27th.
We knew we had better watch these storms closely as they approached.
This turned into an ALL DAY event. It started in Mississippi in the morning and made for an extremely long day for us in middle Alabama. These storms were not long track storms like her previous sisters three years ago, they were short strong, "popcorn" storms.
Our local Meteorologist have become people we turn to, to keep our families safe. They not only EDUCATE their viewers, but also speak frankly. They do not over react and put fear into the viewer, but make sure they do the right thing for their families. They go to elementary schools, programs weather radios, have classes to educate communities about weather, and work tirelessly throughout storm nights to ensure families stay safe.
I know I have learned a lot of James Spann.
As the night drew on, I was hopeful we would be spared from the wrath of the storm. Typically when the sun goes down the storms stop being so violent. I was wrong. Just as I started putting Caden to bed, our area was put under a warning. I had already given up on the storm. I am so glad Adam continued to watch. Saying our prayers Adam interrupted and said "Its time to make a pallet downstairs" it wasn't what he said, but how he said it. I could hear fear in his voice. Without hesitation I scooped up my son and ran downstairs. (No I didn't have our bed made, I really thought we had nothing to worry about)
As I am making a game with Caden setting up the mattress and telling him we were going to "camp" down in the garage, Adam is standing in the doorway looking at the storm outside watching the radar on his phone. Caden is terribly upset that we don't have a tent set up or a campfire to roast marshmallows and I am having a small panic attack on the inside. Singing primary songs and trying hard not to cry. I think maybe its because I have a child now and thinking about the possibility of something happening to him that was scaring me.
The tornado sirens are blaring.
I get Caden snuggled in and the wind is blowing. Rain in crashing down. Then. Everything got quiet. Spooky quiet. Adam said the pressure outside changed and the garage door pushed out a foot and slammed back and he ran to take cover over where we were. He said he could hear things hitting the side of the garage and the side of the house.
I am so thankful we couldn't hear the trees snapping and things hitting the house. All I could hear was the sound of my heartbeat and soft breath of Caden.
I am so thankful after the power went out we still had our phones and people texting us telling us where the storm were. Family that saw our city on the Weather Channel were keeping us up to date and sending prayers our way. I know without a shadow of a doubt that prayer is what kept us safe.

After that storm passed Adam couldn't get service. He is very determined on keeping us safe and didn't want to be blind to the storms. He got into his truck and went around the block to check on the neighborhood. That's when he saw the damage in our neighborhood. Trees were down everywhere. Power lines were all over the roads. He knew we had been hit by a tornado. When he realized there was no way out of our neighborhood, we were blocked in all directions by huge trees, that is when he started to panic.
After the storms passed and all was safe we went to bed. No power, but we were safe.
 At first light we decided to check out our neighborhood. (wouldn't you?) I am in utter disbelief as I look around. We were so close.

 Look at the trees in the background.

We learn later that the tornado started in our small neighborhood. The National Weather Service declared it an EF2. It had winds up to 115 miles an hour, was 1,500 yards wide and was on the ground for 5.45 miles (about 10 minutes).  It could have been so much worse.

I am so very thankful we were spared and no one was killed during these storms.

Thank you for reading and sharing the experience with me and thank you again for those of you who prayed for us. 
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Not all pictures are my own.