Monday, November 26, 2012

One of these things is not like the other...and that's perfectly fine!

Whether we choose to admit it or not, our children are a reflection of us. They not only look like us, but they talk like us. They react like us. They treat people the way we treat people - the way they SEE us treat people.

So parent friends, help me out here.

What are our children seeing from us at 3 and 4? How are we treating those around us? People in our "circles" and our family members? What are we saying to them/about them when little ears are listening?

In my eyes, my children are perfect with no physical flaws. I think Birdie's crazy curls are amazing and the gap in her teeth is just like the one her daddy had as a little boy (although my grandma blames prolonged use of a paci for it). These are two characteristics I love about her. But apparently these are two characteristics that other children her age have noticed and have commented on recently.

She came home one day last week obsessed with "baby teeth" and "big teeth." When are the baby teeth falling out? When are the big ones gonna come? So we had a conversation about how her baby teeth would go away...yada yada...I asked why she was so worried about her big teeth and she said a child in another class told her she looked funny and didn't even have all her baby teeth because her teeth were "open" in the middle. And I'll be honest, she was upset (i.e. I was upset).

On another occasion recently, I walked her into her class only to have a little group of girls look directly at us, turn around, and one literally said, "Don't talk to her. We're not playing with her today."
Seriously? C'mon kids, we're three. THREE! I don't remember girls talking about each other until junior high. How early is this starting? What are we teaching our children? That it's okay to single people out and point out their differences? That it's okay to shun people from our toddler cliques? I know we can't be with them 24/7 and slap our hands over their mouths every single time they start to say something like this, but we can set the example from the very beginning. We need to teach our babies that it's okay to be different. It's okay to look different. And most importantly, it's okay not to be a sheep in this life because the "popular" choices are not always the best choices. As adults, we need to pay more attention to the things we say and the way we treat people who aren't just like us. Because like it or not, it's rubbing off on our babies.

### End of Rant ###

Sunday, October 28, 2012

28 Days...365 Later

One year ago, Day 28 was coming to an end. Justice Perry had received his angel wings and I was broken. Heart broken. Broken in spirit. Broken. But God had a plan...and plenty of glue to put the pieces of me back together!

A couple of weeks after Justice passed away, I had the honor of meeting Troy & Sara, who I now know are two of the most impressive people on earth. And today, I had the honor of celebrating Day 28 with the Perrys at a balloon release for Justice.

Looking back on the past year, I can see God's hand in how far I've come. There are people who couldn't understand how this little baby and his parents - people I didn't know - could have such a profound, eternal impact on my life. But God knows which buttons to push. Honestly, I figured I was too far gone for God to even worry about. I was too self-consumed, too concerned with the shiny emptiness of this world to even consider eternity.

There's a quote that says, "If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back."

And so here I was a year ago, watching a family who had just lost their baby, yet were somehow praising and thanking God. At that point, I knew I HAD to meet them and see just what it was that propelled them. I had to see for myself because I knew whatever it was, I didn't have it for myself - but I wanted it.

Because of Sara and Troy (and an invitation from my sweet friend Heather) I visited Epic Church and the Big Guy revealed himself to me in a way I'd never known. Long story short, I found my place. And I finally learned that God's grace is sufficient, even for me. On May 5th of this year, Troy stood next to me as I was baptized...he'll never know how much it meant to me to have him there by my side.

Because of Sara and Troy's willingness to be bold for God and share Justice's story, I am whole. My family is whole. My husband and children have the wife and mother they deserve and that God intended for me to be.

So we gathered today at Justice's beautiful resting place and the Perrys were surrounded by people who love them. We released balloons to Heaven in memory of one sweet baby and smiled through some tears because we know we are forever changed by 28 Days.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Windows & Doors

I'm in super-obsessive house mode right now, but this post isn't about building a house. It really has nothing to do with a house or literal windows and doors. Today has been a busy day, and this is the first chance I've had to sit down and put these thoughts out there.

I was thinking about this as I got ready this morning - often the only time I have to think about whatever I want to think about. I can't stand it when people say, "Well, God doesn't close a door without opening a window." Ugh.

I don't think God closes doors. Stay with me on this for a minute. I think that with God, the proper doors are wide open - the open doors indicate the way He wants us to go to live the very best life He has planned for us. Those doors are His way of shouting, "Hey, over here! This is the way I want you to go!" But do we listen? Nooooo. We say, "Ooooh, look at that window. I think I should go through it instead." Dumb. We are so dumb. I think we confuse windows for doors. Am I making sense here? We see the window and think that option looks so much better, all the while not realizing that we might be stepping out three stories off the ground with no balcony or safety net to catch us. And in choosing the window, we have automatically closed the door, ignoring God's will for our lives.

But when we realize we've screwed up (like we always do and always will, no matter how hard we try), our God is always there with His arms open wide, willing to forgive us for our shortcomings. Willing to forgive us for climbing through a window and doing things our own way, rather than His way.

Long story short, walk through the doors, folks. Thoughts?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

This is how it really is, folks.

I guess it's about time I fired this puppy back up, huh? I must warn you, this won't by my typical light-hearted post. No, I'm going to be honest with you all.

We are struggling. Life at Casa de Brightwell isn't quite sunshine and rainbows these days. It's actually more hissy fits and warranted tears. Brantley misses her daddy; I miss him, too. Can somebody please tell me how to properly explain to a 3-year-old that daddy is working...for a really long time?! Can somebody please tell me how to tread water and survive the next few months without letting this empty feeling swallow me whole?!

There are good days where the time passes quickly and I don't have much time to slow down and really think about it. But then there are days like today - days where I literally have to hold my breath just to make it through dinner. And days like today make me feel incredibly selfish. There are people going through things much worse right now, but sometimes it's hard to see beyond our walls. And inside these walls, there is one very precious baby girl curled up in a bed that her daddy won't sleep in for months. A precious baby girl who literally has to be peeled off me when I drop her off at daycare every morning - who knows daddy is "working" but doesn't understand why. I've lost count of the "I want my daddy" meltdowns. I've even lost count of my own "I want my husband" meltdowns.

I don't want pity, please don't mistake this for a pity-party. I only want the old "normal" back. Our new normal sucks, if I may be so frank. New normal is unfair to my children. New normal is already making me cold, numb.

I don't want him to worry. He has a very important job to do and his judgment can't for one second be clouded. Distractions are dangerous. I want him to think I have it all under control. But let's be honest - I don't. If he had a hidden camera view of our house from time to time, he'd certainly think we were coming apart at the seams! If Birdie cries, Grayson cries. If they both cry, guess who else cries...yep. Me. The poor dog must think we are all losing our minds, which is only partially false!

If I can offer one piece of advice to people who have never been through a deployment: if you don't know what to say, please for the love of all that's good, just don't talk. I swear, if I have to see one more "sympathy face" I may get physically ill. I know you mean well - and I don't doubt your sincerity. It's just that you don't really get it. And to be honest, I hope you never do. I don't wish this on anyone.

Just be patient with us as we adjust.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Brantley Says...

As much as I once enjoyed scrapbooking, I'm horrible at keeping a record of all the things my kids do. When I was pregnant with Brantley, my mother-in-law (you may know her as Visa) handed over a calendar of Jason's entire first year of life complete with every doctor visit (they were plentiful), every milestone, and even a photo of Jason when he had "the worst case of pink eye Dr. Marquis had ever seen."

Apparently, I'm not a "details" kind of mother. I know when my babies were born, their birth weights, etc. but beyond that, things sadly start to run together. So I thought it might be fun to share some of the charming things that my little Bird says in her oh-so-grown-up manner. Keep in mind, she's 2 1/2...

"Hey, baby!" ... "Uhhhh, probry." ... "I need a little bip!" ... "I gonna git YOU booty." ... "Sophie, git in dis house and hush!" ... "I not like fish sticks." ... "Daddy, I gonna tell you mommy!" ... "Where's my lipstick?" ... "I goin' to Target. Be right back."

And my two favorites...
"I love YOU so much!" and "Mommy, you give me sugar right now!"

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I did. And I'm better for it.

The request was simple: pray for baby Justice Micah Perry.

I don't know the Perry family. Never met them, and without the help of profile pictures I probably wouldn't have been able to pick either of them out of a one-person line-up. But we have some mutual friends and every day I would see status updates on Facebook from a high school classmate about baby Justice.

Justice was born on Sept. 30th and from all visual accounts was a perfectly beautiful baby boy. But little Justice's heart wasn't quite perfect. Day after day, I saw posts from his father, Troy, about this surgery and that procedure...this level and that output. And with each post came a prayer request: pray for Justice, pray for the doctors and nurses and pray for God's will to be done. There's a hard lesson in those last few words. Never for pray for God's will to be done unless you are fully willing to accept that His will is not always our will.

I watched the Facebook group "Pray for Justice Micah Perry" for a few days, seeing posts by more than 3,000 people who chose to "suit up" as prayer warriors for this precious baby and his family. I saw Troy's posts and not once did I see a selfish prayer from him. He didn't ask the group to pray that Justice's heart would be healed so that he could grow up and play baseball and ride a bicycle. He didn't ask the group to pray that this process would all just be over so they could go home and love on their baby boy. No. He asked the group to pray for God's will.

On Friday, Oct. 28th, God's will was done. Justice was called home to be with his Heavenly Daddy. Troy's post announcing Justice's passing read, "To God be all the glory." Those words echoed through my head along with the sound of my own sobs. In that moment, all my troubles seemed so insignificant. This man just lost his baby. He had every right to be angry and bitter, but he wasn't. He was praising his Father for Justice's short life - a life that brought together more than 3,000 people in prayer. A life that brought people closer to God. A life that, in my mommy-opinion, ended all too soon.

Troy posted again on Friday night, and more tears fell.

"Tonight there are no prayer requests for Justice. There are no beeps to listen to. There are no gases to check. There are no monitors to watch. Tonight Justice is dancing around the throne of God with a complete and new heart. Justice will not have to have any more surgeries. Justice will not have to take medicine to help his heart function. Tonight Justice is in the presence of the Almighty One."

I wasn't crying for Justice. I was crying for Troy, his wife Sara and their son Noah. I was crying because I couldn't imagine the pain they were feeling. And I was crying because I knew that if I were in their shoes, I wouldn't be that strong. If tragedy struck my life, I don't think I would have the faith to make it through. For the next couple of days, I took a good long look at my list of so-called priorities. Laughable. Insignificant. Shameful.

Troy's post went on to ask for prayer for the doctors and nurses that had cared for little Justice - prayers that they not feel guilt or shame for not being able to heal Justice's heart. He asked people to pray for the other babies on the 5th floor of Vanderbilt Hospital, for their healing and for their families. Troy understood.

Justice was only here for 28 days because that's all the time it took for God to work through him. And when His work was done, He simply said, "Okay, buddy, good job. Let's go home!" Then it dawned on me that the only reason we are all still here is because God isn't done with us yet! One gentleman posted his condolences and said that "God has only three answers to our prayers: yes; not now; and I have a better idea." God had a better idea for Justice and the Perry family. He had another purpose. And while I don't yet know what His "better idea" might be for me, I do know that because of the life of Justice and the awesome faith, strength and testimony of Troy and Sara Perry, I will hold my babies tighter, love stronger and let go of those trivial things that don't really matter.

I pray that God will use me and my family for His purpose, whatever it may be. I pray that God will wrap His arms around the Perry family as they bury their son today. And I pray that God will use us all for His glory - just as He used Justice. Thank you, Troy and Sara, for sharing your journey and Justice's life with us all. And thank you for showing unwavering faith through this trial. It has truly been a blessing and an inspiration.

"For I am convinced that neither life nor death, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." -Romans 8:38-39

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Birdie's Big Girl Bed

- Headboard & mattress set: $250
- Full-size quilt (which I assumed was "twin" because it was in a "twin" package): $29.99
- 3-D flower pillow: $24.99
- Polka dot sheets: $16.99
- Waking up at 12:09am with stinky, hot baby breath in your face saying, "Mommy, I wanna git in you bed!" ...Priceless!