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.