This is my Cheesy Chicken Lasagna recipe. Cheesy Chicken Lasagna 3 1/2 c. cooked, shredded chicken…
A Little Cheesy Maybe but Then Again Maybe Not
A Little Cheesy Maybe but Then Again Maybe Not. I sit here, pondering the last year. It began with my dad having quadruple bypass surgery, the middle was the diagnosis of the life-altering disease of my youngest, the end was the death of my Lady. There were many things sprinkled in between. There were HUGE life changes in my oldest. HUGE life lessons for 2 of my kids. 22 weeks of military school. FASD/Puberty explosion with one kid. Surgery and learning how to hear out of both ears. Surgery for me. Overtime for Big Daddy. 2 Boys involved with 2 girls. An engagement. An intention of engagement. Driver’s license. HUGE family dynamics shift within my family. And a partridge in a pear tree.
Highest of Highs to the Lowest of Lows
This year, I have seen the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. What has been constant has been my faith in Jesus, the unending love of my husband, my children, and my family. There are days when it is hard to breathe. Then, there are days when the hours are long and the patience is short. Also, there are also days of laughter and learning.
So. Many. Emotions
I have so many emotions that are running through me. Tonight will be the last Christmas that all my 7 children will be under one roof (before any hairy legged guys impose). Next year, I will have a new son in law and our dynamics will change. The next year, I could have another new son in law and the dynamics will change again. My heart is humbled that I can wake up with all my babies…..all lined up in a row. ATLD will not steal our joy, this holiday season, though it has tried. It has been tough on my little one. His schedule has been all messed up. He is so symptomatic. He is emotional…..but he is alive.
Working on our Debt
My husband and I have been on a debt-free vengeance and it is a beautiful thing. I almost look forward to how/where we can save money to tackle our next debt. He is committing to things that he has never fully committed too and I sit back in awe of his dedication.
As I was at my mother-in-laws, we ate, we laughed and then my sister in law and I sat and talked. Like talked. I realize what a cool chick she is and how lucky I am to have her in my life. We are as opposite as opposite can be but I find comfort in her eyes. We chatted while my mother-in-law, Big Daddy, and the kid’s frosted cookies. It was all easy. It was so nice. I am so blessed.
Seeing my Seester
This past Friday, my sister and her family were in town. She wasn’t going to be able to be at “Christmas” when mom was having her time, but she came early and Kim, Shane, and I brought our crew to play. We ordered pizza. Ate desserts. We laughed. Learned about where we come from and remembered our times as kids. Our parents shared some stories and some love about their childhoods. All while we were “adulting”, the kids were playing cards, football, and just hanging out. It was sheer bliss. We even got in a couple of games of Scrabble.
My Oak. My Mama.
We had the BEST time. Since the year before last, when daddy had his stroke and then this year when he had his quadruple bypass surgery….we have seen a strength in our mama that I knew was there but I haven’t seen in a while. She was the picture of grace, even in the chaos, during all of this. Also, she is a faithful prayer warrior. Funny enough, she keeps it all in her little black book (God forbid anyone finds the said book).
Also, she loves her children and her grandchildren. Her heart rejoices with our successes and she is there with wisdom when we are struggling. There have been multiple times, this year, even with all that had gone on that she has helped me a the drop of a hat. Whether it is watching my kids, taking one to an appointment or spending the night with me in Louisville because I needed help. My kids adore her. My husband adores her. We all love her okra and fried chicken. She makes my heart smile.
Daddy…..he is my strength and my hero. His sly grin warms my heart. Sadly, he has me wrapped around his little finger. Also, he loves my dog. He is full of wisdom and his love for my mama and Jesus………only people that KNOW my family truly know what a Saul to Paul he is. Honestly, I can’t even. Simply stated I love him.
I have always been super close with my sister, Tera. Well, not in our middle school/high school years but our early years and our adult years. She’s a little over 2 years older than I am. We each have a boatload of kids and our kids are stacked at about the same age, so one of us is usually in the throes of what the other is fixing to walk through. We have always leaned on each other, regardless of where she lives. She will hit me square between the eyes with Truth. I will hit her right back.
Luckily, when she is down, I am up and when I am down, she is up. We are very similar. I always say what I say regardless and Tera thinks what I say but she never lets it escape her mouth….well, not never LOL. We are in constant contact with each other because that has been how we’ve been since I got married, I think….almost 24 or 25 years. I dunno LOL. She is my person. She knows it all…I mean, all about me. She’s a keeper 🙂
My other sister, Kim, is 6 yrs older than me. She was more of a mother figure when I was younger. My mom went back to school to finish her education and then go on to get her Master’s in teaching….cause she is awesome like that…..so, Kim kind of filled in the gaps when Daddy was sleeping/working and mom was at school. We never were close, because I did not view her as a sister. She was more of an authority. As the years went by, as much as we loved each other, we didn’t always like each other.
I made decisions she didn’t like and she made decisions that I didn’t like and we are the type of people that will tell each other we didn’t like it and then we’d stuff our feelings and ignore it. That went super well for a long time. I think we tried. We never did not love each other…it was just different. We are 2 different people with two different opinions.
God Answers Prayers
A few years ago, I had run by her office to say hi. I was there with my 6th child and I thought…well, we are here….she is right down the hall. I’d be remiss if I did not go by and say hello. That is what a good sister would do and I really did enjoy chatting with her. She was genuinely happy to see us. We were happy to see her, but you see, we didn’t know each other. Conversation swirled around our kids and what they were doing and then it was done. For some reason, that day, I decided to ask her on a lunch date for the next week. She shocked me by saying yes. I mean, I was shocked. When the time came, she had to cancel for work reasons.
I thought the subject would not be reopened until she said, “I can do it the next day at this time.” I agreed and we both showed up. From that point on, we were dedicated to meeting each other once a month (sometimes more) for lunch. We dove deep into our childhood, our teenage years, our early adult years, raising kids, raising husbands, and everything in between. She finally looked at me like I was an adult, on the same playing field as she was on. We learned so much about each other. Our thought processes matched. Our fierceness of family was evident. She had turned from my caregiver to someone I didn’t know, to someone I loved, to my confidante. To my best friend. She became my safety. My idea bouncer offer. Also, she was my person I call to cry. I know she will listen, share wisdom, and pray over whatever is going on.
My Sisters: My Tribe
I am blessed that all 3 of us sisters are incredibly close. The Lord allotted that year to pull our heads out of our tails. He chose to knock the preconceived blinders off of our eyes so we could see each other clearly. He gave me my heart’s desire because for years, I would ask my other sister why Kim doesn’t like me. What I had done wrong. How could I have a good relationship with her. The Lord was sweet and he heard my prayers and He kept us dedicated to each other for a full year. Life got in the way with kids, adoption, Hunter’s illness, daddy’s illness….so we have not had lunch in a while, but we text/talk to each other several times a week.
Our lunches will start back up in January because we have both missed it terribly. I love the adult time and just laughing while we try to solve the world’s problems LOL. I look forward to our date so very much. He chose to restore our relationship for a reason. From the beginning of time, He knew that Kim’s daughter, Paige, would give birth to 3 babies. Also, He knew that 2 of those babies would be raised by my sister. Amazingly enough, the last baby would be raised by me. I see it as He was preparing the fields of our relationship with rain….once our fields were ready, He was ready to move. And move He did. Our goal for 2018 is to get back to our monthly lunches. We *need* that time away from the kids so we can talk about the kids 🙂
Now, as for my brother….I don’t really remember much about him in the house. He would come in from hunting or wherever, and knock our toys down. Out of meanness, he would pull our hair. There was a point when he was sick. Shane had to have a surgical procedure done, but I don’t know when. He made some sad choices that mom and dad tried hard to shield us all from. Through a couple of his marriages, he gave us 2 beautiful daughters that I love so fiercely. We haved never been close. The same prayer, that I prayed for with my sister included my brother.
We have never been close…he is 10 yrs older than I am and the only boy in our tribe. I can say one thing…..when he says he is going to do something, he does it. When he starts a project….he is perfectionist. He would step in front of a moving bullet or car to protect one of my kids. He takes great care of my parents when they need him. All of these things I have gleaned over the last few years of watching. I watch because he does not have the body language towards me to get any closer. I choose to respect that. Sometimes, when he walks by, he will elbow me or stick his finger in my food. AI’ve obsessed over it for as long as I have been married and even before that…..I have come to peace with it but then….there was God.
God is so good.
Through circumstances I will not write out, the Lord moved in such a big way, that I still sit with my mouth wide open in awe of His greatness. He has taught me contentment. I can love my brother, but not have the close relationship that I want with him. I thought it was what it was….but it wasn’t. I’m not saying that all is magicly healed, but what I am saying is that this past Thanksgiving and especially this past Christmas…there is something different. On Friday, when all of us kids hung out at mom and dad’s, he hugged me…like he initiated a hug with me, out of the blue. My body hugged him back and my mind was jumping up and down screaming OH MY GOSH!!!!! WHAT DO I DO?????????? DO I SAY SOMETHING OR JUST BE NONCHALANT???????????? I was, of course, nonchalant…cause that’s my jam. Then, I called mom and commented on it. Next, I told my husband. Finally, I told my children. I looked like an idiot LOL I savored that brief moment.
My Moment. My Miracle.
Then…came Christmas…good jeez……….He sat in the kitchen. In our house, the men usually sit in the dining room. They talk man stuff. The kids eat in the kitchen or playroom. Finally, the ladies mess and gob wherever there is a place. He sat in the kitchen and helped my little one eat because he was so symptomatic with his Ataxia Telangiectasia Like Disorder (ATLD1).
I noticed that he was gentle, kind, and he got the job done. It may be my imagination but I believe Hunter even ate off of his plate LOL. As I sat at the other table, just watching them. My knee jerk was to just flat out cry like a baby. He has never done that and I just can’t even handle the emotions. Shane talked to each of my kids. He made my son a necklace that he has yet to take off. We call it the “Uncle Shane says do not lie anymore necklace or they will have a chat” necklace. Side note that D thinks Uncle Shane hung the moon and the stars. My brother played with them, loved on them, and he did research for me to help my sick child.
Then, he comforted me. Finally, he hugged me….again…more than once. We laughed. As cheesy as this sounds, it was like my very own little personal miracle. I have had such a tough year and I’m preparing for my rainbow….I think the Lord just saw my need….realized that my heart was content with the way things were….but decided I needed an extra miracle. Every time I think about it, I cry. I’m pathetic. I know. I am still content but I see a piece of his heart melting towards me and I feel that little girl “please brother love me and let’s be friends” heart come back to life. He is currently figuring out a design to help us in securing a grant to make our bathroom wheelchair accessible. I can’t even.
Rounding It Out
As tired as I am and as ready as I am for this year to be over….I look back and I realize that my dad is alive. He is well. My mom is faithful and my sisters are my rocks. Then, there is my brother who freaking hugged me. He also loved on me and my kids. Amazingly enough, my son is alive. Most of my children are well. My marriage is good. Sadly, (for me) my Lady celebrated her first Christmas with “her hero” and Jesus. My God is faithful in remembering my prayers. I pray this is a beginning with my brother and I. If it is…..praises to the King. If it isn’t…..I had a moment and I still praise the King.
God Remembers the Prayers of His People
Still, I have a picture of him with Hunter. Honestly, I would show it but he does not like his picture to be out and about. Just know…….it is frame worthy. I may not put it here, but guarantee it will be on my mantle. Regardless, I will do that because I want Hunter (and all my kids) to know that he loves them. Also, I want to remember one of the best Christmas gifts I could ever even dream up.
2018. I am ready for you. I am channeling awesomeness. There will be valleys, but I believe that this year, God is going to take my mountain (so many things make up my mountain) from the Atlantic and He is going to crush it in the Pacific.