Thursday, February 28, 2008

Major Life Events

I have been putting off writing a post that has been simmering in my mind for weeks. This morning when I read BigMama's very honest and vulnerable post about what's really going on in her life, it kind of lit a fire under me to spill the beans. It's not that I don't want to share, because I am a pretty open person. It's just that to process what's been going on in written words is going to hurt and I'll probably cry really hard. I just haven't had the energy for that. You see, February has been extremely full. We had five major events within nine days. The first three were my sister getting married, Jackson turning two, and then having his and Ella's party.

On Friday (Day 7), Jackson had his two-year check up and shots at his pediatrician's office. That night he started getting sick and I thought it was from his shots. I mean, twelve hours earlier his doctor had checked him from head to toe and he was completely fine. Yes, we took him to his party sick the next morning, but I still thought it was from the shots. And I honestly did not know what to do. Just not show up? Maybe a better woman would have done that. By the next evening he was very sick and we ended up taking him to an urgent care clinic. Major event number four. That is a post in itself - one I tried to write but was too emotionally exhausted to produce. I only wrote about three sentences before giving up. Jackson was checked for the flu and strep and was then x-rayed for pneumonia. I was utterly shocked to find out that he did in fact have pneumonia. Wow. It hit so fast and hard. He received a very painful antibiotic shot that sent him into a cry that I have never heard out of his mouth. It lasted fifteen minutes. That, combined with the fact that this clinic must have had zero experience in dealing with a toddler and his fragile parents, caused me to melt into sobs. (We had been made to restrain him repeatedly while he was traumatized with pokes and prods and strange machines. It doesn't sound like a lot, but it was very upsetting.) I left the clinic completely drained and Curtis left furious at the workers. It was a tough night for us, but at the same time I kept thinking about parents who have chronically, gravely ill children. Oh, Lord, please be near to them. If we were that upset over a run of the mill bout with pneumonia, what must all those parents at Children's Hospital be going through?

Here's where my stomach is starting to churn, because major event number five was also a doozie. The next morning my husband was to preach the Sunday services at our church, and we were to announce his resignation from his position as student pastor. Again, this in itself is another post - one I haven't yet known how to write.

From September 2006 to July 2007, my husband had the amazing opportunity to lead a Saturday night service at our church. Since he was 17 years old, all he has wanted to do was speak and preach. The Saturday service was the fulfillment of a dream for him. He was preaching every single week and loving it. Curt had never prepared and preached a sermon on a weekly basis and it was neat to see how the Lord gave him the grace to do it every week. I would sit in my chair and listen to him, thinking, "Who is this man? Is this my husband?" God's power in him was evident to me. Seeing him operate in his gift made me praise the Lord because I knew that it was supernatural. I feel that way when I hear my mom speak, too.

We ended up learning the hard way that churches have services on Sunday mornings for a reason. It is very hard to compete with everything that gets scheduled for Saturday nights. A lot of churches have very successful Saturday services, but I'm not sure it works as well for a smaller church where the atmosphere is more affected by a handful of people not showing up. We know that God is sovereign and He knew all along it would be temporary. We will understand His plan someday. When we brought the service to a close, it was a hard loss for Curtis. I'm sure I don't need to explain why.

We began fervently asking God to open up doors for Curtis to speak and preach. He got a handful of phone calls to speak at various events, which he absolutely loves to do. It was very encouraging and exciting, but every event coincided with something we had at our own church. We realized that when God finally answered our prayers, He would probably take us away from First Baptist Irving. You can imagine the tension that created in our hearts. We wanted to walk into our calling, but we wanted to do it with our church family! And our best friends!

I am purposely not going to go into detail at this time and I appreciate your patience as I wait for the best timing, but the Lord brought us an open door a few months ago and it is time for us to walk through it.

At the conclusion of each service on Sunday, Curtis had to announce that we are leaving. I have not seen him cry since our wedding ceremony on June 15, 2002. He is not a crier. But my husband bawled like a little baby standing in front of our church members during the traditional service. I think the sweetest thing he said was, "Besides us, you were the first people to teach our son about Jesus." I'm crying right now just typing that. During the second service, he held it together pretty well until he sat back down on the front row. Then he put his head in his hands and wept. It was a sad day for us.

Again, there is a huge tension in my heart between being excited that God has answered a prayer that Curt began praying ten years ago, and being so sad to leave our church family and friends here in Irving. When you do not have family members living near by, your friends absolutely become your family. To the degree that I am joyful to be taking the next step, I am devastated at the ripping away that is about to occur. I'm not sure I can expound on that anymore right now. You might be wondering if this means Jackson won't be attending weekly Thursday playdates with Ella, Ava, and Tobey, and you are right. We will be too far away.

That morning I really needed my mama because who can you ask to babysit your child with pneumonia while you stand next to your husband and resign from a ministry you've had together for 3.5 years? I kept thinking, "Lord, what is this timing?" Janelle was sweet enough to tend to Jackson while we made our announcement. Sunni would have been there to help, too, if she didn't have to sing a solo at her church that morning. My sweet, sweet friends.

When I went to retrieve Jackson, he was in the choir room with Janelle, Krystal, Jake, and Vonda. They were all showering The Mister with attention and keeping him happy, while watching everything on a TV screen above them. There was just something sweet about walking in there and finding four people who have been so special to us for the last few years. Krystal is our middle school pastor's wife and she is every bit as involved as her husband. Vonda has grown up in our church and is one of those people who brings a double portion of light and joy with her when she walks into a room. Jake has also grown up in our church and has ministered there in more ways than I can count, taking every opportunity to serve. Janelle has served our youth and college ministry behind the scenes as Curt's secretary and she doesn't get near enough credit for her hard work. She has grieved with us over our failures and praised the Lord for our successes in the Saturday service and in the college ministry. She has loved my son almost as much as if he were her own. Sunni (there in spirit) has helped me keep a sense of humor and has gotten me out of this house when the walls were creeping in. She has been a great listener and has let us all benefit from her creativity in mothering. She has also loved my son almost as much as if he were her own. I could literally write a book about all the people who have impacted our lives in DFW. There are too many to count. God knows the gratitude in my heart for each one.

This is so very long already, but I have to share one more thing. When we moved to Irving, I had my 25th birthday nine days later. My best friends from Houston, with whom we had spent countless hours serving teenagers, and with whom we shared our newlywed years, sent me a huge box filled with birthday presents and cards. I wept as I opened it, asking myself why I just left people who loved me that much. I want to testify right now that our God is faithful and He brought me an additional circle of friends who have enriched my life and who have been so much fun to do motherhood with. Each one of those friends, from Houston and from Irving, has a specific role in my life. Not one of them is replaceable. In three weeks, as we drive away from our home in Irving, I will cry to Curtis and ask why we are leaving people who love us so much. And to me that speaks of God's goodness. He provides for all of our needs. He gently leads those who have young. And He cares about the deep needs of our hearts - like having good friends.

If anyone is still reading this, thank you again for allowing me to share details in my own timing. I look forward to chronicling much more about this journey. Hopefully in much shorter segments.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Curtis with the Cameron Crazies

I have been waiting for this night for two and a half months. This is the night that the Duke men's basketball team takes on Georgia Tech at Cameron Indoor Stadium. If you're surprised that I have been looking forward to this night, you probably should be. I swore off televised sports when the Astros were in the World Series a few years ago. I hate investing time and emotional energy into a game that usually leaves me disappointed in the end. Amanda does not like to lose and Amanda does not like for her teams to lose. Since I am obviously very immature, sometimes it's better for me not to play and not to watch. However, in an effort to be my husband's dream girl, I have emotionally invested in this Duke team.

When I was twelve years old and dreaming about being the next Gabrielle Reece-slash-Barbara Walters, Curtis was dreaming about being a point guard on Duke's basketball team. His devotion to the Blue Devils has not lessened over time. I can't count how many times I've heard him say that he'd love to go to a game at Cameron Indoor Stadium. My understanding is that a Duke home game is like watching the Aggies play at Kyle Field. Simply put, great atmosphere, great traditions, and great fans. (Read this and this and you'll get it.)

Last Christmas the Lord provided an incredibly generous bonus for our family. I wanted to do something really special for my man since he is the love of my life and the best dad I've ever seen. So I took a deep breath, ordered a plane ticket, reserved a rental car, and bought one ticket to tonight's game (which was ridiculously overpriced, but they can do that). I recruited some partners in crime, Daniel and Amy, who happen to live in North Carolina. They were sweet enough to offer Curt their couch for a night.

I have never been so excited to give a present to anyone in all my life. It was painful keeping it a secret until Christmas Day. When the day finally came, Curtis opened a Duke hooded sweatshirt from me and Jackson and then I told him, "You're going to a Duke game! At home!" It was so much fun. You know how they say it's better to give than to receive? So true.

What totally sweetens the deal is that Duke is having a great season and we are rapidly approaching March Madness. March Madness is my worst nightmare because every game is so close and my nervous stomach can't handle it. Amy and Daniel are fans of Duke's biggest rival, North Carolina. (Amy is a proud alum.) Now that would have been a cool game to send Curt to, but I think the cheapest ticket on StubHub was $1,000. I have my limits, people. In honor of their dear friend Curtis on his special night, Daniel and Amy are going to be Duke fans for a couple of hours. In fact, Daniel was able to get two tickets to tonight's game at the last minute and they are sitting together! (Hopefully they found a buyer for that other ticket!) (*Update - they sold the ticket for $20. Considering how much I spent, that really hurts.)

So even though I have an Oprah and America's Next Top Model on my DVR, I will be glued to this game tonight. I'm hoping to see my hubby jumping up and down in his bright blue sweatshirt, but just picturing his smile in my mind will be enough.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Happy Birthday to the Tods!

This morning was Jackson and Ella's second birthday party. We celebrated with friends at a place called Pump It Up. It was very low stress and so much fun! It was just easy and great. Thank You, Lord!

Me and my boy in a bounce house. The lady who did my hair for Melissa's wedding said I have enough hair for three people. I think you can see that in this picture. Good grief!

Curtis and Jackson shooting hoops.

Heath and Ella sliding down. Curt and Jackson climbing up.

Jackson coming down!

Melissa and baby Gabriel. He was oh-so-sweet in that sling.

Sunni and Ava, who turns two next month!

Xavier and Heath having a tender moment. Just precious.

Janelle and I got a sneak peek of the room before it was taken over by toddlers.

Our Pump It Up hostess did all the set up and clean up. She even put the straws in the juice boxes before we came in. She was amazing! I had to hug her before I left.

Do I even need to tell you who this is?

Laney's mom, Kristin, made this lollipop arrangement for the party. How sweet! Each kid got to take a lollipop home.

Landon and Logan

Ava and Jonas

Laney and Josh

A toddler birthday party takes a lot of moms working together.

Ella and Jackson having a snack.

Jackson really just wanted to play with the balloons.

We couldn't wait to take a picture of the Tods in this fun chair. They were not as enthused about it.

I had to post this for two reasons. 1) It's cute. 2) Miraculously, we are ALL facing the camera!

Girls, we made it two years!

Ella got a moment to chill in the cool chair without a stinky boy all up in her space.

A sign of a good party.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Serve It Up

Here are Melissa and Colin serving ice cream at the rehearsal dinner. My Pappaw was their first customer. This is ironic because when we were young teenagers, Pappaw took Melissa to Dairy Queen one day. Melissa got her Blizzard and, thinking she was really cool, immediately flipped it upside down and then upright again. The person serving you is supposed to do that little trick for you, but apparently they neglected to that time. So when Pappaw got his Blizzard, he wanted to be as cool as Melissa. He flipped his upside down. However, he did it too slow and he ended up dumping the entire thing in his lap. Melissa had a very big laugh at his expense and that is why I think it's so funny that she had to serve him this ice cream. You might want to turn the volume down because both these videos have some horribly loud and annoying woman's voice on them.

Mister, Chew the Cookie

This was taken right after New Year's. I like to call it, "The Mister Grows a Soul Patch."

Thursday, February 21, 2008


I'm only a few days into having a two-year-old, but this is my observation so far. It must be the best of times and the worst of times. (Janelle, did we have one conversation this morning about how great TWO is and then another tonight about how challenging TWO is with all the contrariness? Did I make that up?) I keep thinking, "Oh my! He's never been cuter! He's never been sweeter! He's never been more fun!" And then he grabs a stuffed toy out of my arm and says "Mine!" Or he starts his morning off by seeing if today will be the day he can hit Mommy. He's had two time outs for that every morning this week. Or he throws a temper tantrum for ABSOLUTELY NO REASON AT ALL. I think that has been the biggest difference so far in this new, slightly more grown-up phase. The tantrums are seemingly unprovoked. There is no explaining them and there's no helping them.

Today our play group went to/braved Chuck E. Cheese. I told the girls that I felt like I had entered a new depth of motherhood having been there today. It was such a grown-up thing to do. I'd been before, but Jackson was really young for it then. Anyway, I took Jackson over to the prize counter as we were leaving to find something to get for his 67 tickets (most of which were won on the Spongebob gambling game). After I got us a Fun Dip (for me) and a rubber insect (for him), he threw himself down on the floor and had a fit. The Lord only knows why. I'm sure I picked the two items in the case that didn't appeal to him. I then had to carry him out screaming while the teenaged "security guard" verified our hand stamps. I made myself smile to keep from losing it. Then I carried him sideways to the car - kicking and carrying on. It was so ridiculous that I started laughing outloud...and then he did too. So maybe the theme of this year will be laugh it off?

Despite having had pizza for lunch, the Jones family picked tonight for our weekly trip to DoubleDave's. I had promised Curt we would go twice this week to make up for not going last week. I needed to be disciplined in my eating for the wedding and a pepperoni roll buffet was not exactly fleeing temptation. With the week coming to a close, I figured I'd better start making good on my promise. Janelle and Ella met us there. Oh, bless all those poor people sitting around us. Two two-year-olds screeching back and forth and having their unprovoked, unreasonable mini-fits. It is a lot to take. I need to remember though that every single hard phase we have entered has been just that - a phase. Nothing seems to last.

So I am resolving to enjoy this time because it will pass before I know it. Truly, my son steals my heart several times a day. He talks non-stop and is suddenly saying tons of new things. I can hardly believe my ears! He loves to run to me and fall into my arms. And I got an unsolicited hug and a very sweet kiss this afternoon. I keep thinking that this is my favorite stage and I'm going to let it be. I love that little Mister so much, I can't even stand it.

On Saturday Jackson and Ella are going to celebrate their second birthdays together. They are only two days apart and our guest list is basically identical, so it is the best way to have this party. I'm so excited. I will save all that for later, but I can't wait to show pictures of my boy in his birthday outfit. Not his birthday suit, mind you. I'm dying over his new hat and shoes. Hopefully at the party we'll be blessed with no tantrums and lots of those big, cheesy, toddler smiles.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Blooper Reel

Clip 1:
On Thursday morning, Melissa and I had to go to Hobby Lobby to pick up some small metal stands to hold the table number cards for the reception. Picture something that holds a frame or a plate upright. We needed about 20 of them but we could only find a few. We realized that there were plenty of stands throughout the store, but we had to remove them from the back of merchandise that had been artfully and strategically displayed. Pretty much, a lot of display cases looked like they had been rummaged through by three-year-olds by the time we left.

Un-numbered Clip (because I forgot this one and had to add it in):
Ten minutes before we were supposed to leave for the rehearsal dinner, I heard my sister scream, "Mom! Get up here!" from her bedroom. Melissa had just put on her beautiful, black and white satin, strapless dress and realized the store had forgotten to remove the sensor. Ahhhh! And it was one of those ink-release sensors. Can you believe it? Curt and Dad sent up some urgent prayers and headed out to the garage with my sister's expensive cocktail dress. We had another dress on standby, but this one was so beautiful! Dad and Curtis managed to saw the two pieces of the sensor in half without firing the ink all over the fabric. Whew! That was a close one!

Clip 2:
As I mentioned, I made the ultimate Girls Night Out CD for the weekend. "At Last" by Etta James was the first song on it. We played the CD all weekend and I felt a certain measure of pride and self-congratulations every time I popped the CD in and heard that song. It's so romantic and weddingy. Well, when I decided to play the CD in the bride's room after exhausting all our other options (we were there for hours), Melissa enlightened me to the fact that she absolutely hates that song. Hates it, hates it, hates it. Apparently when she saw the first round of her bridal portraits, which were a complete disaster due to circumstances that no one could control, that song was playing. Alrighty then! Good one, Mand! There's no telling how many times I made her listen to it. The good news is, the Father of the Bride sponsored a do-over portrait session and it turned out to be gorgeous.

Clip 3:
I was having some issues with my dress inching down below my support devices. Liz so kindly offered to share her fabric tape with me. So we taped that dress right on to my skin to keep it in place. However, the weight of the dress eventually pulled it down enough to reveal a weird looking warp in my skin that was actually the clear tape. I was having none of that. I summoned the M-O-B and she dutifully removed it from where we had attached it to my back. Have you ever had your back waxed? I'm guessing not. Me neither, thankfully. However, I now know what it feels like...and it's horrible! Horrible!

Clip 4:
Not long before the ceremony was to begin, Curtis called me with some grave news. Jackson had decided that my sister's wedding day would be a great day not to take a nap. The day I would need him to be as happy, patient, and flexible as possible. The day I would hope he wouldn't turn into a pumpkin at 8:00. Sigh. It wasn't for lack of opportunity. What happened was Jackson also decided my sister's wedding day would be a great time to try climbing out of his crib for the first time. (He has a real crib at my parents' house.) Curt walked into the room to try to motivate him to fall asleep when he saw Jackson doing a bridge between the crib rail and the foot of the bed that is probably 20 inches away from the crib. His toes were the only thing hanging on to the crib. Little stinker! Curt said he was rather proud of him but he wouldn't let himself show it. Jackson did fall asleep on the way to the church, so at least he got 50 minutes of rest.

Clip 5:
As you can imagine, I was very anxious to see my son in his little suit. Curt brought Jackson, Cozy and Lindsay up to the bride's room so that I could see him. As soon as the doors flung open he saw his mommy standing there with a big hairdo, a lot of makeup, and a long teal dress; some woman wearing a white gown and some kind of gauze on her head; five other girls in long teal dresses; and his grandma in plain clothes with big fancy hair and no makeup. As soon as the awwwwww's started, he burst into tears and had a meltdown. It was just all too much. Bless his heart. I should have known. He absolutely hates being brought into a crowd of people and cries every time.

Clip 6:
The only way we could keep Jackson happy enough for the photographer to snap a few pictures was to let him hold the cars he had been playing with all weekend. So those will show up in the formal shots. I ask you, who would dare take cars away from a two-year-old and then ask him to smile? A fool! That's who!

Clip 7:
Well, my dad's bow tie was too tight, he hated his cummerbund, and he was really nervous about the big dance. So what did he do? Before we left the church he took off the bow tie and cummerbund and changed into his Wranglers and boots. Only my dad.

Clip 8:
I wish you could tell from the images provided how many times and how badly I got in trouble with my sister for taking pictures. I clung to the hope that she would thank me later.

Clip 9:
Cozy, Lindsay, and Jackson were seated at a table with our dear friends the Bridgwaters. The trio had to leave after dinner because Jackson was out of steam. Later I walked over to the table and sat down where Jackson had been sitting so I could visit with Kay and Jerrell. I immediately noticed a sick-looking piece of food sitting on the tablecloth. I thought it was the lump of lobster from the lobster bisque. I knew my in-laws weren't big seafood fans, but surely... (Teasing you, Cozy! Love you!) It was then that I was told that my son had chewed up a roll and kept it in the roof of his mouth. At the opportune time, he put his finger in his mouth and flicked the chewed up roll across the table. It was a proud moment for Mommy.

Clip 10:
After all was said and done, Curtis and I headed home to my parents' house. It was not a short drive and it had been raining. When we were just 2 minutes away, I got a call from my mom saying that Colin had lost his wallet and that she and I were going to have to go back to the church and the reception sight and look until we found it. Are. You. Kidding. Me? We both wanted to start crying because we were so tired. Thank You and praise You, Lord Jesus, because Melissa's blessed wedding planner found it at the church and took it to their hotel. Big, big sigh of relief!

Hmmm, I'm thinking I might need a nap now!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Wedding Weekend in Pictures

Before Girls Night Out.

Jill, Melissa, and Erin at Cafe Adobe.

Outside the limo.

Inside the limo.

Picking up Liz from the airport.

The cake present. Each box was wrapped in satin. This was from someone who has been a mentor to my sister and it had all kinds of wonderful things inside - crystal, silver, and other treasures from her own home.

Spa extravaganza.

Lunch with the bridesmaids and the bridesman.

They weren't lying when they called it a pear salad.

Serving up the good stuff.

Jackson enjoying breakfast in Pappaw's chair.

The Bride getting all dolled up.

Melissa and Stephanie.

The Moore girls. I really liked my hair from the side.

The Moore men: Joe, Ben, and Mike Meadows; my dad and my grandpa.

My little fam.

The highly anticipated dance.

Another sweet dance.

The Cottrells and the Fitzpatricks. And I believe the song I mentioned earlier was "Forevermore." Travis, correct me if I'm wrong.

Stealing a kiss.

M-O-B also stands for Mother of Beanie. Here she is after the wedding, cooking dinner for her four-legged daughter.

Beanie was ready for her sisters to fly the coop so she could rule the roost again.

After removing a few bobby pins, my awesome Queen Amadala hairdo looked like a Grand Ole Opry special. We felt the need to document this unique moment in my life.