Living Life to the Fullest

If you’re friends with me on Facebook, you’ll fairly quickly discover a few things about me: 1)I always error on the side of experiences instead of giving my kids things. 2)The Woodford’s love a good party 3)I always want my kids and their friends to know our house is a safe place to land. So, in the grand scheme of things, no one should really be surprised that I agreed to throw my kids a killer end of school party. I called a buddy with a limo service and worked out a decent deal, had them pick the kids up at 3 different schools, and came back here for a day of food (9 large pizzas, 100 bags of chips and sweet snacks, 2 dozen apples and a dozen oranges to be exact), swimming, 600 water balloons, and jumping on the trampoline. I’m fairly confident all 18 kids were sound asleep by 7:00pm.

But, this post isn’t so much about the party itself. It’s about how God orchestrates things in our life. First of all, I’m an introvert and I don’t particularly love to be surrounded by lots of people. I debated letting each of my kids having separate smaller parties. But, then I decided that was twice as much work, and I might as well rip the band- aid off and have one big party. This left me with the dilemma of how to get 18 kids to my house after a 2 hour school day without inconveniencing parents. Earlier LK had asked to have a limo, and I said “no way”. But, then as I’m thinking about getting these kids to my house, I thought “why not?”. Is it normal for elementary and middle school kids to ride in a limo? No, of course not. Do I want my kids to get used to such luxury, nope. But, today it was something I could do to invest in them and their friends, so I did it.

You can imagine, rolling up into an elementary school and middle school in a limo got lots of attention and talk. But, one lady’s comment really struck me. I recognize this lady, but I do not know her. I simply know that she was a parent at the middle school LK attended in the fall. I’ve never even spoken to her. But, with a scowl and huff, she looks at another mom and says, “That woman can spend money faster than they print it.” Hmmm, interesting that someone I don’t even know their name knows my spending habits. Normally, I give zero concern to what others think of me. But, this has been an interesting week in terms of mom judgement, so I really wanted to retaliate. This woman doesn’t know that 3 of my 4 grandparents died before 65, 2 of them before 55. She doesn’t know my mom died at 55. She doesn’t know I have a family history of every flavor of cancer they make, and heart disease on both sides of my family. So, my gene pool history leans to the fact that I’m not going to be on this earth 100 years. If I’ve only got 15-20 years left to live, I am damn sure not going to waste a minute of time celebrating my kids. Should I spend that money on saving for college? Maybe, but we do have college funds set up, and my kids are wicked smart. So, college funds aren’t a high priority in my life. Should I save for retirement? Maybe, but, again, history doesn’t indicate I’ll need much. Should we put money in savings? Yes, and we do. Should we donate to the less fortunate? Absolutely, and we give not only our money, but our time. However, at a time we have expendable income, I simply choose to enjoy these precious times I have with my kids. So, until you’ve examined my bank account, and understand my life, you really don’t get to judge how I spend my money.

We are raising these kids in a super hard world. Social media, television ads, and peer pressure feeds so much negativity into their lives. I honestly feel my greatest struggle as a parent is to make sure my kids understand that they are known, heard and loved, not only by me, but by their Heavenly Father. He loves us in big ways, so I’m going to love them in big ways. I’m going to be present in the school pick up line. My house is always going to be full of plenty junk food, messy floors, and kids running in and out from the pool. Why? Because when a bunch of 16 year olds ask my kids and their friends if they want to go out drinking and driving around town, I want the 18 kids at my house today to say, No thanks, we’re going to go hang out at the Woodford’s. I remember growing up I had 3-4 mommas, and I was happy to hang out at home with my friends. Never once did I feel the need to make bad choices to feel accepted and loved. I want my kids to have the same. So, if that means throwing ridiculous birthday parties, or picking up kids from school in a limo, I make zero apologies for that. My kid may be the only 6th grader without an iPhone, but she knows her momma loves her big and wants to be part of her life.

But, I can honestly say that I don’t really think me getting a limo today had anything at all to do with my kids. Within minutes of getting in the car, conversation turned to the fact that our limo driver was currently caring for her mom with dementia. Coincidence? I think not. I spent the next 2 hours ministering to this woman from a road I’ve already walked. I was able to pray for her, recommend resources for her. Encourage her that there is a light at the tunnel. Encourage her that it is okay to feel like you are in a living hell and you would do anything to get out of this situation. Encourage her to get help, and some ways that she could get services cheaper than what she is currently paying. And, not to toot my own horn, but it gave me a chance to financially bless this single woman who is seriously struggling to financially take care of herself and her mom. Did my kids need a limo today, not at all. Did Samantha need us today? Beyond a shadow of a doubt. If I hadn’t said “why not” to spoiling my kids today, I would have never met Samantha. I don’t know how Samantha’s story would have panned out if we never met. But, because we’ve met, I’m confident her story gets a little better. She’s already texted me several times today expressing gratitude for our chance meeting. I know she’s told the limo owner about it, because he’s texted me about it. And, I know I’m committed to praying for this woman. And, continuing to help her walk the road of being a care giver for a dementia patient. Would you do me a favor and say a prayer for Samantha tonight?

So, yes, we go a little over board when it comes to celebrating our kids. But, we’re going to live this life to the absolute fullest. I hope instead of judging how we chose to parent our kids, you’d join me in finding ways to celebrate yours- regardless of what scale that is on. Trust me, there were years we had to celebrate our kids and live life to the fullest on a negative budget. It has very little to do with a limo and a swimming pool, and everything to do with being present and loving well.

On this day…

One of my very favorite things about Facebook is the “Facebook Memories” that pop up each morning with the posts and pictures you put up on this day in years past. Usually, I look at them with a gentle smile or a happy tear of how much my kids have grown over the years. But, today, when I saw the memories of past May 6, it was painful. Facebook reminded me that May 6 was a hard day in 2015, 2016, 2017- each year Gran was in the hospital and I was staring death in the face bearing the sole responsibility of making the decision to fight for her life or let her go. I was questioning why in the world God would put me in that place over and over.

So many times over the three years that we were responsible for Gran’s care I remember thinking God, I cannot do this another day. I cannot clean poop up out of the floor, I cannot change and bathe a grown woman, I cannot listen to her tell me how awful I am, I cannot watch her hurt my children- I simply cannot do this one more day. Yet, each time when we were faced with the decision to continue medical care, I continued medical care. And, God gave us the strength to do it one more day. Until last year. Gran went into the hospital on April 19 and as situations progressed we moved her to Hospice on April 25. I felt like a complete and total failure. I felt like I was giving up on her. I felt like I was the one making the decision to let her die, as moving her to hospice was certainly the end. But, I also remember sitting in a conference room crying my heart out to the palliative care doctors saying I didn’t have anything left in me. I could not possibly bring her back into my home. I was exhausted, my husband was exhausted, and my kids were spent. Dementia had taken her brain, heart disease and diabetes had taken her health, and now a stroke had taken her sight and likely ability to walk. Knowing all of this in my head didn’t change the agony in my heart that I was quitting on her. In a way I think those were thoughts brought on by the last 3 years of thinking in the moments mom was sick and dying, that I should have demanded she be transferred to a heart focused hospital in Nashville, that if we could have just gotten her here they could have done something to save her. Maybe, I should have demanded they put her on life support and give her body time to heal from the infection, but we just let her go.

Now, I know these are all crazy thoughts, but the emotion surrounding May always brings me to a place of did I do enough? Did I finish well? I don’t know if I will ever not feel regret about how I cared for Gran in her final days. I don’t even know why I have these thoughts. I guess it is just the fact that we live in a fallen world and Satan will use every foothold he can get into our hearts to make us doubt that God is good and His plan is perfect. So, today, as I look at May 6, I’m part sad that it brings back memories of really hard times. Part of me feels glad that this May 6 brings sunshine, church, a special afternoon with my little man, a sense of peace and gladness of what God has brought us in this last year. And, honestly, a part of me feels guilt- guilt because I’m thankful our whole family is no longer suffering with the burden dementia brought to our lives.

I don’t really know the purpose of this post other than just to confess that the emotions are still raw, the memories are still hard. It’s been over 4 years since mom died, and just a couple days shy of being a year since Gran died and I still question every decision we made over those years. But, the one thing I do not question is the faithfulness of my God who provided us just enough grace and just enough support to make it to the next day.

 

A Trip Home

It’s a cold, rainy, nasty February day. I’m pretty sure February 11th will always be etched in my brain as a miserable day, regardless of the weather. Now, four years later I can still remember every single detail of my February 11, 2014. I can still remember Lexi Kate walking into my bathroom as I was drying my hair, a pencil in one hand, my cell phone in the other saying, “I told Mimi you were drying your hair, but she said she had to talk to you.” That conversation of, “The doctor says I’m fine, I’m just at the hospital having some fluid drained off my lungs….. don’t come down…. I haven’t told Grandmother…. I’ll call you back later after the doctor comes by…..” kicked off what would be the very worst 24 hours of my life. So, with hair half wet, I grabbed an extra pair of sweat pants, a long sleeved t-shirt, clean underwear and a tooth brush, screamed at Jeff, “Mom, needs me, figure things out here.” and I bolted out the door. I made it from Franklin, TN to Mayfield in just under an hour and 45 minutes. Later that afternoon, as I looked at the scans of my mom’s heart, despite what the doctor’s were saying, I knew I was going to lose my mom. She looked and sounded fine, but I just knew. And, so began a journey of doing way more adult-ing in 4 years, than I had done in the last 17 years of my “adult life”.

Today, I once again made that cold, wet February 11th drive from Franklin to Mayfield. February 11th is Grandmother’s birthday. Mom died on February 12, so I wanted to bring them flowers today. I made the trip alone today. That is not at all reflective of this four year journey. I have been anything but alone on this journey- friends, family, and strangers have supported us in ways I could never express. I still feel the pain and loss of not having my mom 4 years later. I’m still working on reconciling how I feel about Grandmother being gone, 9 months after she has died.

I think the one thing I have been feeling most lately is loss of purpose. I know that sounds strange coming from someone who is a wife, mother, and has a career. But, the day my mom died, my primary purpose in my mind became honoring her by the way I cared for her mother. I had training on how to be a good wife, mother, and worker- I watched my mom do those things better than anyone for 35 years. I had no clue how to care for an 80 year old critical heart patient with dementia. There’s a few books out there, and there’s groups who are willing to offer support, but there isn’t a step by step instruction manual on how to raise kids and adults without totally losing all your shit. So, it was 3.5 years of hands on, pour all you have into this mission survival. And, now it’s over. And, now I’m still not real sure what to do with myself next.

We bought a foreclosure house and remodeled it. I think a big portion of my desire to do that was to have something to focus on and pour my energy into. Now, we’ve finished that to the extent my wallet will allow, and I’m back at the point of not knowing what to do with myself. For the last 3 years when I wrote out my annual goals, I was able to relatively easy come up with things. For the most part, because my life demanded I be laser focused in order to achieve it all. Because, my mortgage company didn’t give a rat’s behind that I had a whole lotta life going on- they still expected a check. This year, I’ve really struggled coming up with my goals and dreams to focus on for the year. Everyone around me says, take a year to rest. Find yourself. You don’t have to do anything big. I want to agree with that and take it all in. It’s just a huge struggle for me. For the way I am wired, I need a big purpose, I need a big dream, I need hard things to accomplish just to motivate me to get out of bed in the morning.

So, here I sit, in the middle of a cemetery, beside my Mom’s muddy grave, asking what’s next. I’ll admit, I really, really, really want to ask God why He took my Momma away so early. Why in the world I had to sit bedside and watch the 3 strongest and most influential women in my life die (I watched my dad’s mom take her last breath when I was 19, I watched my own mom die when I was 35, and watched Gran slowly die of dementia and heart disease over the last 3 years.) Here is what I do know. Because of the strength these women modeled for me, because of the love and dedication they poured into me, I can do really, really hard things. If God calls me to do nothing else big in this life, I know I’ve done more than most. And, it isn’t a competition. It’s about living the life I’ve been given well. I’ve failed forward a whole lot. Looking in hind sight, I’d do 90% of it differently. But, we don’t live life in the rear view mirror, and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt I can say I “showed up”.

So, hear I am, 39 years old, sitting beside my momma, crying like a baby, just wanting to make her proud more than anything in the world. I don’t know what’s next for this small town girl, but whatever it is, I’m ready. As, I’m preparing to leave Mayfield, and head back home. I hear my mom saying, just pray, “Here, I am Lord, send me.” And, I know He’ll send some pretty amazing guardian angels with me.

Mom, Gran, I miss you more than words on a blog could ever express. We’ve got big things left to do, let’s go.

We’re officially homeless

One of my last posts was about our failed attempt at buying a new house. Well, we learned that everything works out for a reason. And, once again looking at a house for clients, I found one for us. This one wasn’t the love at first site kind of feeling. But, rather, imagine what we can make this feeling. I truly can’t wait to share the before and after pictures with you.

As we prayed over this decision, God has just blessed our socks off every step of the way. One of those was in the selling of our house. As of today, it isn’t really ours anymore. I wrote an article for my real estate newsletter that speaks a little to do that :

LIST TO CLOSE IN 18 DAYS, IT’S NOT FOR EVERYONE

Oftentimes in my parenting, I say things like: “Do as I say, not as I do.” Or, “Trust me, I know these things.” These great words of wisdom have now come into play in my professional career. For the first time in the 10 years I have been selling real estate, my husband and I have taken a turn in your chair- the client. Over the next few months, I’ll be writing a series of articles on the things I have learned about the process from the other side of the table. This week, I am starting from the perspective of selling your home.
Let me start by giving my sincere apologies to all my past clients who felt like I didn’t get how hard it was to get your home ready to sell, to go through the showing process, and the emotional process of letting it go. You know I am a checklist girl, I manage the back side of a transaction like a well oiled machine. But, you’re right, I didn’t get the emotional side of just how freaking hard it is to sell a house.
The house we sold today was Jeff and I’s first house together. It was the house where we bought both our babies home. It was the house we had our most exciting memories in. It is also the house we’ve probably lived some of our hardest days in. We’ve lived here all but 18 months of our marriage- 12 years in this house full of memories and let’s be honest, a whole lot of crap! I’m not really the emotional one in our marriage, I’m the more black and white one… But, today was emotionally harder for me than I thought it would be, as we signed our rights away to the first home we owned together. I’m sure the day we move out will be even harder. And, holy moses is getting a house staged and ready to sell a nightmare when you are living in it. We did rent a POD, and I probably should have gotten a dumpster too, but the downsizing furniture and fighting the kids over the toys they could live without for a couple months would have made for some great reality tv. And, I won’t even give details about the possibility of the unkind words I said to my husband when I didn’t think he was going to get the list of “upgrades” I wanted done before picture day completed. It was a rough couple weeks, but we made it.
So, back to the do as I say, not as I do part. From the day I put the sign in my yard until the day we closed was 18 days. You read that right, eighteen days. We listed on a Thursday and had multiple offers on Friday. And, of course we took the lowest price offer. Because, all good realtors negotiate a terrible deal for themselves. Just kidding, it wasn’t a terrible deal. It was the smart deal, even if the sales price dollar was lower than it should have been. As I tell my clients, there are many more factors in the negotiation than price, know what your wins have to be. It’s been pretty much a nonstop whirlwind of preparation, showing, inspections, repairs, and bam- closing. I tell my clients to always give themselves a bare minimum of 21 days, thirty preferred. There are just too many moving pieces and parts to cram it all in to 2.5 weeks. But, we did it. It was every bit as stressful as I expected it to be. I wouldn’t do it again. You need time to breathe. If you think it sounds heavenly to rip the bandaid off, and do it that fast, trust me, you don’t want to do it this way. I touched the stove for you, learn from me…..
My one saving grace is another place where I didn’t take my own advice. Trade keys for money. I always get nervous when my clients want to let buyers move in early or sellers stay beyond closing. Well, the one reason we took the offer we did on our house (it was a multiple offer situation, with all cash offers) is because they agreed to let us stay 45 days beyond closing. So, yes, my house closed in 18 days, but I didn’t have to have it all packed up. So, that made it mostly better. We didn’t buy our new house contingent on this one selling. And, it needs a good 3 weeks worth of work, which requires cash. I am beyond grateful in this situation to have a quick close on our current house, and then get to stay here while we do the work. It far beats having to do temporary housing and storage. Let’s all just pray that I don’t live to regret this the rest of my life. I still think the best occupancy policy is day of closing, but I’m warming up to the idea that it just works better in other situations.
What have I learned from being the seller? The big thing was the emotional element of it. Yes, this is a business decision. And, when you decide to sell, it is no longer your house. But, we’re all human and there is no way to totally remove yourself from the emotion of it all. Beyond that, cling to those checklist. All of the staging tips, things you need to do to get your house ready for listing, documents to have ready on listing day, all of that- great tips. The more you follow the checklists and have things together and prepared, the easier this whole process goes. Having your house truly ready to go to market gives you the absolute best chance of selling the house for top dollar in a very short period of time. And, it helps you navigate the deals between contract and closing with relatively little stress.
We can do this! And, I’ll do it with a little more compassion the next time around with my clients.

 

The Problem with my White Privilege

Today, I realized I am white privilege in America. And, the problem with that is that I don’t even think I have a problem. I am a “wealthy” white woman, living in a “wealthy” white community with my white husband and our white children. I’ve never considered myself racist, and my kids don’t even really get the whole skin color difference. We have immediate family members that are not white, we have friends that are not white. We have white friends who do not have white children. But, for the most part we live in a really white world. I don’t by choice surround myself with so much whiteness, it’s just how life turned out. And, anyone that knows my heart knows you are welcome in our world no matter your skin color. And, my daughter especially will go to the mat in 2 seconds flat to defend someone she loves who has been a victim of racism. In fact, it’s the only reason I’ve ever had to visit the principal’s office on her account. Sam probably would as well if he even understood it. All that to say, I’ve never given much consideration to the problem of prejudice in our world, because it isn’t a huge factor in the world I live in daily.

Today, I witnessed first hand prejudice in my community. In fact, I was a victim to it. And, I almost ruined my kids’ epic day by beating a lady to a pulp. We had planned to go to Soar Adventure Park for some put-put golf, but when we arrived it was closed until noon. So, we decided to have lunch a little early at Steak-n-Shake just down the street. We arrived at 10:45, which is otherwise known as Senior Citizen lunch hour. So, here I roll into the over 60 crowd with my 5 children. Not literally all 5 children are mine, but they were with me today; and I’d adopt the 3 bonus kids in a second. So, today, they were mine. Granted, I wasn’t dressed to the nines today, and the kids weren’t sporting 3 piece suits. We were all dressed for outdoor adventure with a side of lunch. And, of course, since we were a large group, we got seated smack dab in the middle of the restaurant. No bid deal, these are good kids, and they know how to behave themselves, and we will not disrupt everyone’s lunch. Shortly after we were seated, another older couple was seated adjacent to us. I kept noticing the lady looking over our way and giving me a funny look. I kept looking back, thinking where do I know you from? You must be looking at me because I know you and I should speak. Literally, nothing else crossed my mind as to why she was staring me down. When our food arrived, I noticed she had started giving us a really dirty look. I was perplexed. I promise the kids were not making a peep. They were building the cars from the kids menu and drinking their milkshakes…..

And, then it happened. I’m staring right at her when she says to the man with her. “Look at that mess. Kids of every color and I bet not a one of them has the same father. She can’t work, but she can eat out while we buy her groceries.” I’m here to tell you, thank the good Lord above the kids didn’t hear her say it. And, thank the Lord it was early in the day, and I hadn’t lost all my patience yet. Because, it took every ounce of patience I’ll have all week not to pounce on this woman like a Tiger on a bunny rabbit after he hadn’t eaten in a month. So, I am stewing. Do I walk over to her and say, “B@#$%, I work my ass off to provide for these kids. And, you ain’t paying for my groceries either, or any of these kids’ groceries for that matter. And, yep there are 3 different daddies represented at this table; but there are also 3 different mommas. And, this is no mess. This is community, God’s plan coming together perfectly. For my kids to love their friends so much, regardless of their skin color, social status, religious or political upbringing, to want to spend the last day before school starts with them having an epic day. So, I’m sorry that we aren’t all dressed like we’re the distinguished white people you want to see in this town. And, I’m sorry that it bothers you that one mom has 5 kids in a restaurant by herself. But, don’t assume you know anything about the situation.” Instead, I sat quietly with my precious children. I smiled back with the classic, “Bless your heart” southern smile. And, I gave myself a pep talk during the rest of our lunch reminding myself that lashing out would only ruin the kids’ day, and I didn’t take off work to ruin nobody’s day….

So what if they were all mine. So what if I had kids of different skin colors. So what if I had kids by different fathers. Nope, not my story. But, it is the story of many of God’s dearly loved children. And, when we judge people’s stories and situations, we not only hurt the hearts and spirits of those precious children; we hurt the heart of God. In all my whiteness I sometimes forget we have a prejudice problem today. I think, Oh, we’ve come so far… I often see a bigger prejudice for socio-economic status in our community that I do race. And, I see our poor hispanic friends fall victim to racism far too often. But, today, I was victim of both. Because of the way we were dressed, and because there was one mom with several kids, representing different races; someone assumed we were “a mess”. You know what, God has blessed this hot mess. And, I’d take these 5 kids all day long over your messy attitude.

Let my experience today be a reminder to us all that prejudice and racism are still alive and well in our society today. Not just in inner-city Chicago, or upstate New York. It’s right here in perfect little Franklin, TN. And, when we continue to operate in our perfect little world of whiteness, we become part of the problem. Reach out, love your neighbor, and let the little old lady at Steak and Shake know that there’s nothing wrong with my story or yours, no matter how many you have or what color your children are.

A dose of empathy

Let me tell you a little story about never say never…… Last Wednesday I was looking at houses for a client, and found one that had some pretty cool features. I sent it to them for a look, and they really didn’t like it; and it was priced on the high end of market value. On Thursday, I got an email saying the price had been significantly reduced. And, I did the thing I’ve only done 2-3 times in my 10 year real estate career- I called the hubs to meet me there…. He walked in, and he knew exactly what I was thinking. “This is our house.” Not wanting to make a rash decision, I had one of my realtor friends come look at it and make sure it was worth what we were paying. She gave it another resounding “yes”. I said I would NEVER move from our house until my kids were grown.

This house isn’t a fancy house. As a matter of fact, in terms of bells and whistles, our current house is a fancier house. Our current house is a much newer house. But, this house had some things our hearts truly long for- acreage and a fantastic location within minutes of our beloved downtown Franklin. In fact, it was only minutes from our current house. This house also had a fabulous space for our kids to grow into teenagers and bring their friends over. It’s a big house. Not that our current house isn’t big enough- but this house was considerably bigger than our current house. Folks, who know my heart, it had 4 dining areas. A bistro area in the kitchen, a breakfast room, a formal dining room, and a kitchen area in the basement. I was in dinner party heaven. I immediately saw my house full of people at Christmas.

So, I did the very thing I tell my clients to NEVER EVER do. I started pursuing a house before getting lender pre-approval (Disclaimer here- I know mortgage guidelines and have a running idea of what is needed and knew we were okay, and a few lenders in my back pocket.), we put an offer on a house without even a remote thought of selling ours, and we entered a multiple offer situation unwilling to go above list price or remove our financing or inspection contingencies. I started working like a bat outta hell to get our ducks in a row. Let’s just say 2 self employed people need a whole lot of documentation to prove they really make good money. And, praise the Lord we don’t cheat on our taxes, because that would have made the process a whole lot harder. I was a little nervous about the situation, so I drove all the way to KY to sit at the foot of my mother’s grave and pray over our decision. Considering we are so happy in our current house, we had no desire to move, I wanted to make sure this was truly the right thing. And, on the way back from KY I got the call that we had won the multiple offer situation.

And, that’s when the party started getting real. I had this burden in my heart because we hadn’t told our kids, family or friends we were buying a new house. I was so excited, but I know not to count chickens before they hatch. We wanted to make sure everything was a go before we shared the news. We went to the house again and made notes as to what we needed to plan to do rehab wise. We fell in love with what this was going to be.

And, then we had the home inspection. And, my guts just started turning inside out. Pretty much everything that could be wrong was wrong. As I often say to clients who are buying older homes, “they’ve just put lipstick on this pig.” The house had been remodeled, but it was just a mess. We had contractors out to look at it and give estimates. More than anything, we wanted to stay with this purchase. But, through the process, we had prayed that God would make it crystal clear what we should do. And, yesterday without hesitation, but with plenty tears, I said “Jeff, I am out.” We just couldn’t commit to the months and tens of thousands of dollars this house was going to involve. It would mean we had to stay in our current house for 4 months or so while the work was being done there, plus the expense of the work. And, while we’ve been fortunate to save decent money, that would have wiped us out. And, no house is worth putting our financial future at risk. So, I cried some more and called the agent, who I adore, and told them we were done. I hated it for the family who desperately needed to sell this house. We had already connected with them on an emotional level. But, this wasn’t an emotional decision- it was a business decision. And, we had to make the right decision. Lord, knows I’ve made plenty bad ones.

And, although this didn’t work out the way we wanted it to…. And, I feel like I wasted $1000 on inspections for nothing…… I didn’t sleep for a week…… I’ve been stressed and emotionally torn to the max….. My kids are wondering what is wrong with me, and I haven’t been able to tell them….. Through it all, I am thankful. This experience has allowed me to see this process from the other side of the street. Something I haven’t done in 12 years. This process has allowed me to empathize on a deeper level than I have recently with clients walking through multiple offers, negotiating inspections, and trying to decide to take that leap of faith.

The two songs that has been in my head this whole week are Colton Dixon’s “You Are” and Mercy Me’s “Even If”:

YOU ARE: When I can’t find the words, to say how much it hurts; You are the healing in my heart; When all that I can see is broken memories, You are the light that is in the dark;

You are the song, you are the song I am singing; You are the air, You are the air I breathe in; You are the hope, You are the hope I am needing; You Are.

And when my circumstance leaves me with empty hands, You are the provider of my needs; When all my dirtiness has left me helpless, You are the rain that washes me;

You are the song, you are the song I am singing; You are the air, You are the air I breathe in; You are the hope, You are the hope I am needing. You Are.

If I had no voice, if I had no tongue; I would dance for you like the rising sun; And when that day comes, and I see your face; I will shout your endless glorious praise.

You are the song, you are the song I am singing; You are the air, You are the air I breathe in; You are the hope, You are the hope I am needing.

EVEN IF:

They say sometimes you win some
Sometimes you lose some
And right now, right now I’m losing bad
I’ve stood on this stage night after night
Reminding the broken it’ll be alright
But right now, oh right now I just can’t

It’s easy to sing
When there’s nothing to bring me down
But what will I say
When I’m held to the flame
Like I am right now

I know You’re able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone

They say it only takes a little faith
To move a mountain
Good thing
A little faith is all I have right now
But God, when You choose
To leave mountains unmovable
Give me the strength to be able to sing
It is well with my soul

I know You’re able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone
I know the sorrow, and I know the hurt
Would all go away if You’d just say the word
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone

You’ve been faithful, You’ve been good
All of my days
Jesus, I will cling to You
Come what may
‘Cause I know You’re able
I know You can

I know You’re able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone
I know the sorrow, and I know the hurt
Would all go away if You’d just say the word
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone

It is well with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

Pardon my French, in a post where I just posted Christian lyrics, but 2017 has been a bitch. It’s probably God protecting us from ourselves that we aren’t moving. I even said before this got started, my sanity probably couldn’t handle that. But, many things I’ve prayed for just haven’t happened. God has changed our course more times than I would like to admit, because you know I’m not a change course kind of girl. God can use us anywhere and in any situation. And, while I wasn’t looking to leave our neighborhood, because these are truly my peeps; I’m really sad that I’m not going to have a rocking yard with an amazing pool and walkout basement anytime soon. So, back to finding joy in our house with dozens of kids spilling colored gatorade on my brand new porch cushions. And, there is much joy in this house. And, I am beyond grateful to have it. But, I’d also be grateful to have last week back, and my $1000 back. But, moving on with more empathy for my clients and the stress of purchasing and inspection periods and all things I just push around on paper.

What’s the new story

The honest answer is, I’m still not sure. It’s been nine weeks since Gran left our house in an ambulance for the last time, it’s been six weeks since she died. Part of me has still failed to take it all in. Part of the benefit of Alive Hospice is lifetime grief counseling for all the family members affected. This past week, they called to see when I was coming and if I wanted to bring the kids in for counseling. And, then it hit me, I have still failed to fully grieve. If I went to counseling right now, I don’t have a clue what I would say. And, if you know me well, you know not knowing what to say is a rare situation.

Then, I feel like not having lost my marbles yet, or not being in a state of gut wrenching grief over losing my grandmother makes me a terrible person. On more than one occasion, the kids have asked forgiveness for not being super sad that Grandmother died. And, I constantly remind them, it’s okay. Dementia is a terrible disease, advanced CHF is a terrible disease, diabetes is a terrible disease, and Grandmother wasn’t truly living. Dying, and being restored in her fully glory and living with our Heavenly Father in complete peace is an amazing gift for any of us; especially for Grandmother who was living in such a broken body. We all have moments of little memories of quirky things Gran did and said around the house that bring us back to a moment of tears. But, for the most part we’re still living in the sense of relief of a huge burden being lifted from our shoulders. I would do it all again in a heartbeat, even knowing how long and how hard it would be. Yet, our grief is also tempered with a bit of relief for her, and for us. And, I hope the rest of the world can respect that for us, and be okay that is just the place we’re in.

The last 6 weeks has been a pretty constant blur of movement around our house. The last 2 weeks of school brought many activities, added on top was Lexi Kate’s 4th Grade Walk, and elementary school graduation. In addition, I’ve had a pretty crazy work load, as is pretty typical for my industry. But, I will say that this 2nd quarter was the largest single quarter I have had in terms of volume in my entire real estate career. In fact, in my 10 year real estate career there have only been 2 FULL YEARS that have topped the volume I did this quarter. I don’t say that to boast on my own behalf, but to shout the goodness of God. There is absolutely no way whatsoever that I could have kept it all together had it not been for His mercies new every morning and His grace and strength sustaining me. We’ve also had a family vacation squeezed in. Lexi Kate had the opportunity to take some master dance classes in L.A. with her dance studio. They were at The Edge, Debbie Allen, and Disney Entertainment. Jeff, Sam, and I flew in a couple days after she got there, and added on a few extra days to take in Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood, and San Diego. I should have LK write a guest post about our adventures out West. It was great to have that time as a family, but this Southern Girl isn’t a huge fan of California.

This past weekend I took the kids to my Great Grandparents Family Farm in Dukedom, KY/TN. The farm straddles the KY/TN line, and has been in our family for generations. My Great-Uncles and their kids all still live on the farm. I really wish my Grandfather had kept his portion of the farm so we still had a piece of that. There is just something truly magical and healing to the soul on a farm. The kids got to see momma chicks and ducks with their eggs, saw a duck hatch, cows, sheep, baby lambs, rabbits, beagles, rode horses, went fishing, and climbed hay bails with their cousins. We had no internet or cell service which made working a multiple offer situation a tad interesting. But, it was perfect! I wish we had been able to go back more often. It was so good for me to see my cousins that I grew up playing with and their kids enjoying our family heritage. My uncles now lease out their land for other farmers to work. But, Larry still has the animals. I told Jeff I wanted to sell our house and buy into the farm. I don’t think I could actually go through with uprooting the kids from Franklin, we love it so much. But, I could certainly get used to the pace of farm life. And, the excuse to have a couple dozen dogs.

Because I have a reputation of always having a well thought out plan, and always doing something big, everyone keeps asking what’s next for us. I truly don’t know what’s next. I have to let things continue to simmer down a bit and just trust God in His timing to reveal what lies ahead on the Woodford Road. But, for now, we all need to rest in His presence and recharge for a good long while. Not having a plan, not having a next, or not having a new story is just healthy for all of us. Even for me, as much as it goes against everything I believe in.

 

Hmmmm…..

So many thoughts have tried to circle my head the last week and a half, but I just haven’t had the brain power to process them all. People keeping asking how we’re doing, what’s next, have I had time to relax. I still honestly don’t know.

We all deal with grief in very different ways. I think we deal with grief in different situations in different ways. I am devastated to have lost my grandmother. I think the biggest thing for me, is that she was the last tangible active memory of my mom left in my life. As long as I had Gran here, I had a piece of my mom. I was still doing something for my mom. And, maybe if I was doing something for my mom, my mom was still kinda here too. Now, I sit and stare at the empty blue chair and realize it’s all over. Then, there’s the guilt that I feel glad that it is over. Care giving is hard in a normal situation. Care giving for a dementia patient is even harder. Care giving for a dementia patient and working full time and taking care of small children is enough to do you in. So, I’m grieving and celebrating all at the same time; and it is just weird.

Throw on top of it all that all of this went down in April and May- the very busiest month(s) for us. Part of me was glad that Gran passed away and her funeral was the week of the Fourth Grade walk. The Fourth Grade walk is like the Mecca event for students at Moore Elementary. This was the 25th Anniversary for the kids to make the 28 mile 2 day hike of the Natchez Trace. It’s a big stinking deal. Kids talk about this from their 2nd day of kindergarten. It is the longest running, longest distance walk by elementary kids in the nation. And, of course I was the parent coordinator for the event and hosted a massive dinner for over 250 people. Having the Fourth Grade walk really allowed me to not focus on losing Gran for 4 days. She died on Tuesday, we had walk events Wednesday, Thursday, Friday; and then drove to KY for the funeral on Saturday. It all just kinda happened and I didn’t have to process. Even on Saturday I didn’t really process. We went through the motions of the funeral, then drove straight back home for events the kids had.

Sunday was Mother’s Day. I’ve pretty much laid in bed on Mother’s Day the last 3 years, and this year was no different. Being a Motherless Mom on Mother’s Day is hard. I get to celebrate being a Mom with my amazing kids every day. Mother’s Day was a day for me to celebrate all my mom had done for me. And, it just makes me sad to not have that. Burying my Grandmother on Mother’s Day weekend didn’t make that any better. So, from grief, exhaustion, or whatever it was, I laid in bed pretty much all day Sunday. I wish I could say I got the best rest ever. But, that isn’t so much the case.

And, then Monday hit. And, I realized how incredibly far behind I was at work and just dove in head first getting the troops gathered and getting back on track. All week long I have been running crazy focusing on work and what had to be caught up. I hate half-assing anything, and that’s pretty much how things have been rolling lately. But, again, having something else to focus on hasn’t given me much space to acknowledge or process reality. And, it’s starting to catch up to me.

As much as I would like to pretend this is all a bad dream and nothing over the last three years has really happened; it did happen. It is my real life, and I really have to deal with it. So, I don’t know how I feel about it all just yet. I’m sad, I’m tired, I’m confused, I feel guilty. And, I have no freaking clue what I am going to do about all that just yet. Today is a sit and soak it in kind of day. I need to rescue my house from 5 weeks of chaos. I have some loose ends to tie up. I’m just going to chill a minute and let myself feel it all out. Not my specialty. But, desperately needed for my soul.

Jesus Finally Called

Mrs. Jo Ann Roberts, age 83, of Franklin, TN, formerly of Mayfield, passed away on Tuesday, May 09, 2017 at Alive Hospice in Nashville, TN.

She was a member of High Point Baptist Church and a homemaker.

Mrs. Roberts is survived by one granddaughter, Misty (Jeff) Woodford of Franklin, TN; two great grandchildren, Sam and Lexi Kate Woodford; one son-in-law, William Baker of Mayfield, KY; three brothers, Jack Hawkins, Billy (Beula) Hawkins and Donald Wayne (Sandra) Hawkins all of Mayfield, KY; two sisters, Patsy Nall and Peggy (Melvin) Alexander both of Mayfield, KY; two brother-in laws, Gail (Anita Sue) Roberts and Larry (Linda) Roberts; one step-granddaughter, Meghan Baker of California; one step-great granddaughter, Julianne Bea of Murphreesboro TN, and several nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Glen A. Roberts; one daughter, Pam Baker; six sisters, Madele Hicks, Reva Sims, Pauline Jackson, Kink Brown, Helen Drake and Jette Mae Goatley; and her parents, Roscoe and Roxie Rodgers Hawkins.

Funeral services for Mrs. Jo Ann Roberts will be 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 13, 2017 at Byrn Funeral Home in Mayfield, KY. Nic Allen will officiate. Interment will follow at Highland Park Cemetery.

Pallbearers will be Brad Hawkins, Chad Hawkins, Terry Jackson, Stevie Jackson, Cody Drake, Johnny Hicks and Melvin Alexander.

Visitation will be 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 13, 2017 at the funeral home.

How is she hanging on?

The question of the hour for the doctors, nurses and our family is, how in the world is she still hanging on? She’s 19 days past a blood clot in her superior mesenteric artery, she’s 13 days post stroke- neither receiving medical treatment; and she hasn’t had food or water in 13 days. She’s been totally nonresponsive for 8 days. It’s a medical mystery and an interesting journey in watching the human life cycle.

But, here’s what I know about my grandmother’s health journey, and it shines a great big spotlight into how in the world she’s survived this long. Grandmother was most likely born with infant rheumatism and a hole in her heart. She was sick most of her childhood, not expected to live beyond her teen years. As a teenager, she developed severe migraines that led to her getting shots in her skull. (This is where I am glad that I was a migraine patient in the late 90s-2000’s and not the 1940’s.) Not only did she live beyond her teen years, she was a hard working productive member of society. She delivered a child. In her later years, she stripped tobacco for a living in hot and terrible working conditions.

In 1997 the hole in her heart opened up, leading to emergency heart surgery. Several hours into surgery, the doctor came into the waiting room to let us know he was closing up, but didn’t expect her to come off the operating table alive. It was a hard couple days, but she survived. Four days later, a stitch pulled loose from her valve replacement, tearing the valve, and they had to go back in and do the surgery over. Again, the doctor said she was absolutely too weak to survive this surgery. We left the hospital a couple weeks later. In April 1999 the “cow tissue” valve failed and she had a “pig tissue” valve inserted. The surgery went well, no complications. At the time the surgeon told us that this would give her 7-10 years life at most.

In 2003 Grandmother had a heart attack, and needed a pacemaker installed. Again, this bought her a couple years at most. In 2010 her pacemaker was replaced with a pacemaker/ defibulator combination device. I can’t even tell you how many times the defibulator has activated after Grandmother suffered a heart attack. At least 10 times in the 2 years she has lived with me. It’s the craziest thing in the world.

In February 2014, the day after her 80th birthday, Grandmother watched her only daughter die. If anything would destroy a heart, I’d pretty much expect that to do it. I honest to goodness expected to bury my mother and my grandmother that week. And, yet, she is a survivor. She continued to live on her own for another year before moving in with us.

In the time that Grandmother has lived with us, we’ve been told she would not leave St. Thomas Hospital alive 4 times. Four times I have mentally and emotionally prepared for my grandmother to die. Yet, I sit beside her and type, and she is totally alive.

We have racked our brains as to what in the world she could be waiting on. Every family member has been here to tell her goodbye. We’ve all told her it is okay to go be with Jesus. I’ve asked her to go give my mom a hug for me and tell her that I love her. I even brought the dog up here to be with her last night. For the love of Pete, I went and made funeral arrangements for someone that wasn’t dead so I could tell her it was taken care of and not to worry about me.

But, she’s not suffering. She is comfortable, and her time on this earth is not done. So, for whatever she’s clinging to, I accept that she has something else to live for. Her time and journey on this earth is not done. By my math, she’s been defying death for 83 years, and 20 of those very actively defying the odds. She’s a fighter, she’s a tough old bird. And, she reminds me daily that there’s no struggle on this earth I can’t overcome. For goodness sake, if she can beat the hell out of death, I can conquer a few little work problems or parenting issues.