Saturday, August 29, 2009

In Lieu of Flowers

Some of you have been asking...

In lieu of flowers in the memory of Oleta Conner, the family is asking for donations to the Wells Family Support at Christ Journey. MeeMaw was one of our first, and largest monthly supporters. In addition to missing her sweet smile, we will also be missing that monthly income. Any little bit helps!

Christ Journey
PO Box 3283
Burleson, TX 76097

Please make sure to note on your check that your donation is intended for the Memory of Oleta Conner.

Thanks!
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Friday, August 28, 2009

First Day of Kindergarten

Tuesday (8/25) was Conner's first day of kindergarten.

It didn't go much like I had always anticipated, starting with the night before. We spent Monday at Mom's house, helping to go through some of MeeMaw's things, finalizing the obituary, booking hotel rooms for friends and family, and making decisions like which flowers would adorn her casket. The plan was to leave in time to get home, chill for a little while, eat a good dinner, take baths, and get to bed at a good time.

But, there were kinks in the plan. Life happened, and we got home later than I wanted to, Micah ended up staying with Mom and Dad, and the good one-of-Conner's-favorite-dinner plans fell through. We did end up having a good dinner -- but not necessarily one of Conner's favorites. It was like pulling teeth to get him to eat. And even at that, we were unsuccessful. I don't really remember what happened after that, except that we didn't get Conner to bed at the time we wanted to.

I remember lying in the bed next to him, cuddling as he went to sleep. A thousand things were flying through my mind -- lots of things I wanted to make sure and remind him of in the morning, several things that I wished I would have done a better job of teaching him over the summer, grief over his growing up and loss of the nothing-but-play life of a preschooler, grief over my MeeMaw, how I really thought I would be just fine to lie there next to him cuddling forever and never having to wake up to face real life again.

But it wasn't so....I got up, finished what I needed to, and much later than I wanted to, finally went to bed...

...and Tuesday morning I woke up in a panic. My alarm had apparently gone off 45 minutes earlier. I guess I had turned it off in my sleep because I certainly don't remember it. No getting myself ready before I worried about everyone else. No wonderful hot breakfast for the first day of school ever. Just hurried throwing everyone together (good thing it was only two kids instead of three!) and a half-eaten bowl of Fruit Loops.

We loaded up in the van at just the right time though. We got to school not too early, not too late. We helped Conner find his class table in the cafeteria......and then we hugged him, kissed him, and walked out the door without him. I got a little teary-eyed, but not too bad. I was proud of myself.

Then Joey and I were off to the Moms and Muffins breakfast. I did good holding myself together -- until it was my turn to introduce myself and tell about my morning. The tears started burning, but I was able to keep it short and sweet and somehow keep the tears to a minimum. It's a good thing too, because I'm afraid that if I'd let go of myself it would have been really ugly. I couldn't stop thinking about how Conner had told me the day before that he was a little bit sad about kindergarten because it was so much longer than preschool, and that he was really going to miss me. (Crazy kid knows how to pull at those heart strings, doesn't he?!) And on top of everything else, I couldn't stop thinking about how that morning and the night before hadn't gone at all like I had always thought it would. And I couldn't stop thinking about how disappointed my MeeMaw would have been with me -- I had let her death and my own hurt and the crazy time between a death and a funeral affect Conner's first day of school. She had been a school teacher for 35 years, and a Sunday school teacher for probably twice that long. She had taught me better than that, and it breaks my heart to think that I had let both she and Conner down. I know it's a bit irrational -- but grief usually is. And I'm carrying around a double dose of it right now...

So I left the breakfast, ran some errands, went to lunch with some friends, and got Joey home for a nap. And instead of packing our bags (we were leaving to go to the Family Visitation a couple of hours after Conner got home from school), instead of making some wonderfully delicious homemade cookies for my new kindergartener to snack on when he got home...instead of doing the things I needed to for everyone else, I just decided that I had already screwed everything up, I might as well just make a day of it. So I took a nap, too. It was a bit selfish, but is was so wonderful. Grieving hurts, but for me -- when I let myself do it -- it typically makes for some good sleep.

I woke up just in time to wake Joey up from his nap and pick up Conner.

He had a wonderful day, and greeted me with a beaming smile, a "Kindergarten Rocks" hat that he had made sitting upon his head. It was more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. I hadn't done for him what I wanted to, but just as I should have known, he had a great day anyway. What an awesome kid.

He was perfectly happy with the Little Debbie brownies that I gave him when he got home (probably happier than he would have been with homemade cookies, actually), and told me all about his day. He told me that it had actually been a happy and a sad day. He had gotten a blue mark in his take-home folder -- the best color you can get. He had gone to recess twice, and had a wonderful lunch in the cafeteria. He actually got to put his own food on his tray!! "But," he said, "the sad part is that there was only basketball with no basketballs, and follow-the-leader at PE. And when I was outside I missed you so much, Mom, that I was crying a little bit. And nobody cared." Luckily I was emotionally exhausted at this point and was able to just laugh. Upon further questioning, "basketball with no basketballs" just meant that there were basketball goals in the gym and no basketballs out. And I'm still not sure if the crying on the playground really happened, or if he was just trying to make sure that I knew that he missed me.

And then when he was done telling me all about it, he called Bret and told it all again. He really did have a great day. In spite of me. The kid really is growing up, and so far I like the person he is becoming. I mean seriously, a kid who sees himself like this isn't doing too bad!

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Happy Birthday, Conner!

I can't believe you are six already. And I can't believe that you will go to kindergarten tomorrow. I just don't know what happened to my baby!

I am proud of you and love you so much!

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

MeeMaw

I am truly proud of myself. I needed to take a break from something, and I actually did it. I've missed my blogging terribly, and I'm probably going to be hating myself when I get back into this and have to play catch-up. There is calmness (or at least calm-er-ness) on the horizon though, if I can just make it there...

But, while I've taken a blogging Sabbath, life has certainly not sabbathed with me. Among other things, the air conditioner has gone out, the refrigerator has quit, my camera has broken, my kids are having birthdays, we've been preparing to start school. Life has not taken a break.

One of the most significant happenings in the past couple of weeks has been the loss of my MeeMaw. Nearing a break from a strong and courageous fight with lung cancer, she fell and broke her hip, contracted pneumonia, and simply did not have the strength and energy required to recover from something like that.

My MeeMaw was a special lady. In regards to influential women in my life she was second only to my mother -- who was of course also heavily influenced by her. She taught me to be a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a mother-in-law and grandmother someday...and she taught me to be a Christian and do all of this while putting Christ first in my life. She taught me to sew, she taught me to be crafty, she taught me to teach, she taught me to love sacrificially. She was the candy-lady at church and all-in-all the very best grandma a little girl -- and a grown woman -- could ask for.

When we moved to Louisiana over three years ago, we went to visit all of my grandparents one more time. I knew then that it was possible that I would never see them again. And I actually began to mourn before they were gone. As it turned out, I obviously did get to see them again. But with months and years in between visits, failing health became more and more blaringly obvious. PeePaw left us before we made it back to Texas, and the MeeMaw that we came home to was certainly only a shadow of the one we had left. But now she was living with Mom and Dad, and we got to see her a lot more often, enough that my kids really did get a chance to know her. I am so very thankful for that.

MeeMaw was one of The Wellsbrothers' biggest fans. She and PeePaw are a large part of the reason that this blog became the animal that it did. For awhile, eagerly checking the blog for new stories and pictures was one of the first things that MeeMaw did every morning. And I did my best to rarely disappoint. She was diligent to print every post and every picture, and did her very best to keep up, putting them all into a scrapbook for me. At some point she fell behind, and never did quite catch up getting them all into the book. But every post has been printed. I look forward to completing that book in the coming months as I mourn her loss.

Ironically, the night I decided that I really should take a break from the blogging was the same night that MeeMaw fell and broke her hip. She never made it back home from that, and I don't know...since she was one of my biggest fans and motivaters, it seems kind of appropriate that the blog paused as she slowed down, and eventually breathed her last.

My Sabbath is not completely over. Life is still throwing me for a loop right now. But there are a few things coming up this week that I simply will not be able to not blog about...like tonight, going through old pictures with family, I just had to sit down and sort out my thoughts.

MeeMaw, I love you, and am missing you already.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I Guess I'm Gonna Have To Take a Break

Summer is almost over. School starts in less than two weeks -- and with Conner starting kindergarten, that actually really means something for us this year.

And while there are parts of me that are really sad, I am so ready to have some routine back in our lives. The summer has done nothing but get more and more crazy as it has progressed, and I've fallen more and more behind on a lot of my "non-Mommy" jobs.

So as I sit here and type, looking at the clock and realizing that it is no longer Tuesday...and then put it all together that we're working on night #4 in the past week that I've been up until 3am or later working on things, well...something has got to give.

Part of the reason that I blog is to show off my kids. Part of the reason that I blog is for the community that I find here. Part of the reason that I blog is to keep some kind of journal/scrapbook thing about my kids' childhoods. But really, one of the main reasons that I blog is to keep my sanity. It helps me so much to sit down at the end of the day and reflect on what's happened, realize how funny a situation was, vent about the frustrations, process where I see God at work.

But sleep helps me keep my sanity, too. Even more than blogging. And to be honest, my blogging has suffered this summer. I haven't been able to put the time and effort into like I really want to. There have been countless things happen on countless days that I have thought, "I want to think about that more. That's what I should write about tonight." But then I'm tired, and there's something else much shorter and easier to share, and so that's what I go with...and so then it's not fulfilling one of the main purposes anyway.

And so, even though I have a folder full of pictures from Fossil Rim last week, stories about pirates and Bibles, cool ideas that I have...well, I'm gonna have to work on finding some sanity in some sleep. And maybe when things slow down a little, I can find some added sanity in my blogging.

But as fall approaches, and routine and schedules approach, so do the possibilities and probabilites of a new job (I have an interview tomorrow, another reason I should really head to bed!), and six hours of online college courses. I'm afraid life will not be slowing down, but merely changing.

So bring it! Please don't hear me complaining. I think that I've fully proven that I am flexible and adaptable, able to take on the challenge before me -- even if I don't really want to. I'm ready to stop being anxious about what lies ahead and just do it.

I'll still be around, but it will just have to be a little less frequently than usual.

Oh blogger, I miss you already...

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Monday Night Date Night

On the Date Night menu tonight: grilled chicken and fish, grilled okra, rice with black beans and corn

And then maybe some Guitar Hero... No doubt Bret will win, and then probably poke fun at my feeble attempts at playing a video game...

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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Church Planter Retreat '09

On August 6-8, the staff of Mission Alive along with several families from our network of church planters traveled to the Prothro Retreat Center on Lake Texoma for our annual Church Planters Retreat. As always, it was good to renew friendships, as wells as build and strengthen new relationships.

Our theme for the weekend was Conversations: In Community, For Community. The intent was for this to be a weekend of rest and renewal for everyone involved.

The scenery that greeted us from the lovely shore of Lake Texoma certainly assisted in our goal of relaxation. It was absolutely beautiful, and many of our church planters enjoyed alone time with God while listening to the waves lap the shore and watching birds soar on the wind. There is nothing like time spent with our Lord in the midst of His glorious creation.





Our scripture for the weekend was John 20:19-22. "On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, 'Peace be with you!' After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, 'Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.' And with that he breathed on them and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit.'" While this scripture is certainly beautiful and powerful on its own, Tod and Gailyn led us in gleaning even more from the words of Christ as we meditated deeply and intentionally in this passage several times.

Grounded in these words of Christ we invited and recieved peace, mourned and healed from past wounds, celebrated recent joys, contemplated our calling, and basked in the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It was amazing how four little verses could evoke such tears and laughter and peace and frustration and confidence. And to share it all in community -- well, certainly this is part of what Christ intended for his bride, the church.

Then in typical Mission Alive fashion, we ended our time together with prayer and annointing.


But I can't end without mentioning our kids. There were eight of them therewith us, and they provided so much joy and laughter and innocence during the weekend. They helped us remember that we too should play, and were wonderful reminders that "the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." (Luke 18:16)

We are so thankful for opportunities such as these, and we already look forward to next year!


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Hotels Do Not

Yes, I know it's 3:13am...and if I were in my right mind, I would be finally lying down in my bed right now.

But I'm not in my right mind. I think I lost my mind several days ago when I began packing. And I need to vent and clear my head if I'm ever gonna be able to go to sleep.

We went on a Church Planters' Retreat this weekend with several other church planters and their families, and with the staff of Mission Alive. It was a great weekend, with the theme of rest and renewal. (More on that in the coming days.) But it required a lot of packing. I hate packing, I hate unpacking. It's time-consuming, tedious, messy, frustrating. Honestly I really think I could quite easily become a hermit.

"But wait," you say. "Don't you guys go to BooBoo & Yogi's, and Gammie and Poppy's houses all the time? I thought you liked getting away for the weekend." This is true -- I do like getting away to grandmas' houses. Grandmas -- especially ours, we've been blessed with fabulous grandmas! -- tend to be infinitely more accomodating for travel with young children than do hotels/retreat centers.

Grandmas have an abundant supply of diapers, pull-ups, and wipes, as well as a convenient place to throw the smelly ones away without stinking up the sleeping quarters. Hotels do not.

Grandmas have safe and appropriate beds for all ages, including CD players and sleepy music and baby moniters. Hotels do not.

Grandmas have free laundry facilities -- and usually a laundry fairy who does it all for us so that the only dirty clothes we come home with are the ones on our backs. Hotels do not.

Grandmas have favorite kid-approved snacks and meals, dishes, and a convenient place to wash them. Hotels do not.

Grandmas have convenient refrigerators and microwaves -- which means we can make Micah's all-important "chocolate milk warm" at any time of day. Hotels do not.

Grandmas have toys. Hotels do not.

Grandmas have TVs and DVD players and video games. Hotels (the one we were at, anyway) do not.

Grandmas have tear-free soap, and toothpaste and toothbrushes for everyone. Hotels do not.

Hotels require a lot of extra packing and preparation...and then unpacking and putting away. And preschoolers are simply not capable of packing their own things. Mom gets to do that.

Sooo...I was up until 3am Thursday morning packing everyone up. (We had decided at some point that Bret should go ahead and go to bed so that one of us would be able to drive safely.) And then the next morning he was sweet to let me sleep in until about 8:15, and then I took a shower, we fed and dressed the boys, loaded the truck, and left at 9:30. We drove three hours, "retreated," drove three hours home, and got here at about 4:30 Saturday afternoon.

Since then, I/we've unloaded the truck, gotten the kids fed and put to bed (they're grumpy and overtired -- it took a total of three hours to get everyone to sleep from the time we started reading), cleaned out the truck from it's first 6 hour roadtrip with the Wellsbrothers, moved the carseats and DVD player back into the van, washed and dried and folded/hung up and put away 5 loads of laundry (Yes, it was all from the retreat. The only dirty laundry we left here was the pjs we slept in Wed night. And yes, I did it tonight -- there's nowhere in my house to put that much laundry and keep Joey out of it unless I want to sleep on it. And honestly, I'd rather stay up this late and get it done than fight him with it tomorrow), I washed the dishes (from tonight's dinner and Thursday morning's now-disgusting breakfast dishes), unpacked the bags, and gotten the Sunday school lessons ready. Bret's been helping with some of this, and then got to work on the things that he needs to have ready for Sunday. (Little things like, well, a sermon!!)

I was going to take a shower, too. But I'm tired now and think I'll wait until the morning -- which means that it's possible that I will not get a shower at all. So if you're reading this and you plan to be at the Christ Journey worship gathering, don't get too close, I may stink!

And I wish I could say that we're not going to be staying in a hotel any time soon. But I can't. There is already another hotel trip on the books, in just a few days. Ugggh.

But now I'm getting sleepy, it's 3:42am, and so I think I'll try to catch a few z's...and look forward to tomorrow morning, when I know I'll be so incredibly glad that I've already done all this stuff!

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Sneaky Kisses

So last night Conner had a really hard time going to sleep. This is very uncharacteristic for him, and I couldn't figure out what the problem was.

When I went in to lay down with him, he wouldn't lay next to me. He insisted on laying under the bed, with his head sticking out the side. I was tired though, and Micah wanted to cuddle with me, so I let him. A few minutes later, Micah was asleep, and Conner decided to join us on the bed -- but down at the foot of the bed about as far away from me as he could get. That's not unusual. He will often move away from me just before he actually falls asleep. So I thought we were golden. Until a few minutes later when he still wasn't asleep.

Assuming he had to be close, I told him that I was going to take a shower and would then come back to check on him. And when I did that, he was still awake. It was a while longer before he was asleep. I thought it was unusual, but didn't think much else about it...

Until...Micah made a discovery the next morning. Looking down between the footboard and the mattress, he said, "Mom, there's something down there under the bed." Sure enough, he was right. And then upon further inspection, we discovered:

Yes, it is a sizeable pile of Hershey Kisses wrappers.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

He Speaks, Through My Children

I am still engaged in the process of spiritual discernment that I mentioned a little over a week ago. It's still going well, though I have to admit that it's not going quite as well for me as the first week did. We've had some out-of-the-ordinary kind of craziness going on, my routine is off, and I just don't typically do well with this kind of thing when I'm out of my routine.

I love being in the midst of something like this, being in community with others doing something similar, intentionally listening for answers to the same questions. I really feel a closeness with God that I love and long for. That's why I don't understand -- if I love it so much, if it's so good and meaningful, why is it so hard to do it everyday?! I don't know, but it really is... I'm constantly amazed at the patience God has for his children.

But, even with all of that said, I did have what I feel was a pretty significant experience last week that I would like to share.

Our spiritual discipline for one day of each week is to play with and/or listen to your kids. So, as they were playing, I was listening. This is what I heard that really stood out. Conner, as he was trying to play with Micah, but Micah was ignoring him: "Micah, would you please listen to my jokes? Don't you want to fill my bucket? Besides, it will fill your bucket too, remember?" (We had just had a lesson at a worship gathering about how doing something nice for others fills their "bucket" -- and usually fills your own "bucket" at the same time.)

And later I heard this: Conner, praying for the Chappotins and brand-new Baby Hudson, after I had been ooh-ing and ahh-ing over him: "Dear God, thank you for Mrs. Heidi having a baby. Thank you for Mrs. Heidi having a beautiful baby. Thank you for Mommy really, really, really, really, really liking soft baby hair. In Jesus name, Amen." I didn't even know he was listening.

And so, what I heard from my kids today, what I heard the Spirit telling me through my children: Kids want to be listened to, and kids are listening to adults even when we don't know it. God even uses what these kids say to teach the adults sometimes. I felt that was pretty significant in regards to the question we were asking last week. God is cool.

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Monday Night Date Night

Tonight is Date Night. But again, it will be a little bit different from the norm. Normally we protect our Monday Nights, and if that means missing out on something, okay. But, we've got some special circumstances this week: Conner is at Yogi's and BooBoo's for a few days of being an only child, and I have the opportunity to go to a special evening just for mothers of preschoolers with some old friends. Also, Bret and I got to spend an entire 24 hours together without the kiddos this week. (Granted, it was in a parking lot -- but that also meant that we were without the normal distractions of internet and television.)

So...we are counting our Chick-fil-A experience as date night this week. I am going to go to Motherly Love, and Bret is going to have "date night" with Micah and Joey and do a little something special with just them. We think that taking advantage of some opportunities like this and "dating" your children is just almost as important as dating your spouse!

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Saturday, August 1, 2009

July Memories

Conner has gotten a few freckles this summer. He wanted me to take a picture. He's also, with the help of his daddy, learned to do backflips in the pool.
'Sup yo?
Sleeping sweet.
Monkey bars! Eggs!
Micah has recently discovered watercolor paints. They are very exciting.
Swimmin' away!

And now swingin' away.
Okay, so there's a girl standing directly behind Conner. You can't see her, except for her blonde hair -- which makes it look like Conner has quite a mullet! :)
Oh, that Micah.
Josiah loves markers.
We made some delicious cookies for our neighbors the other day...and of course we ate some of them, too.
And another day we invited and prayed for some of our neighbors.
Joey loves dot dot markers, too...
Oh, that Conner.

All three boys colored a poster together the other day. We had a lot of fun with that.
See? Joey can be sweet sometimes...
And, my favorite. The quotes:
Conner: "Hush little baby, don't say a word. Mama's gonna buy you a mockingbird...And if that dimond ring don't shine, Mama's gonna buy you a glob of slime."

Micah: "In my nose, there's little guys that shoot out boogers."
Joey has been calling Spiderman "Spidey." That's right. He has a consistent name for a superhero before he has one for either of his big brothers...

Conner: "I always make sure Jesus is with me when I go into Pokemon battle."

Conner, as he was waking me up one morning: "Wow, Mom. Today must be one of those bad hair days."

Micah, sitting on the floor in the kitchen, obviously very concerned about something: "Mom, there's something throwing my tummy."
"What? There's something throwing your tummy?"
"Yeah. There's something throwing my tummy."
As I sat there pondering what in the world he might mean by that, I realized that he had the hiccups. "Baby," I said, "You have the hiccups." Then I waited for another one and said, "See? Was that what's throwing your tummy?"
"Yeah. That's a hiccup?!"
"Yes baby, that's a hiccup."
Poor kid, I guess he never remembers having the hiccups before, and as I think about it, I don't know that I can remember him having the hiccups much either...

Micah, after a rain: "But mom, I think we CAN go to the park. I think there was a giant grown-up with a giant umbrella and the park can't get wet."
Joey, when proud of something he's done: "Ta-da!"
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