Friday, August 28, 2015

the one where our hard has been fought and won

I'm naturally a people pleaser. I don't want to rock the boat. Whatever you choose will be good (and I'll deal with it if it's not). I avoid confrontation and well, I try to avoid "hard" if at all possible.

Yep. And I have a counseling degree. Albeit a school counseling degree, but nonetheless, I once took courses in counseling. You'd think I'd be better at navigating difficult.

Well, I'm not. But I'm having to learn how to be.

Our sweet Waybe turned 3 at the end of July (which reminds me, I gotta write a birthday post)! And at the age of 3, Way graduated from TEIS, our early intervention program in Tennessee. Which means, all of the therapies Way has been receiving (OT, PT and Speech) will now be paid for out of pocket. It also means that he is able to transfer over to the big-boy school system (if we choose to do so) and he gets an IEP, or Individualized Education Program, which is an education plan for a student who will need special education services.

And in July, before Way turned 3, we had to have our first IEP meeting.

I'll keep it short and say the meeting didn't go well and had to be continued. I was told I had to sign some papers or that someone in the school system would get a "bad mark." I didn't sign the papers. I rocked the boat. I didn't let them choose and I didn't avoid confrontation and I didn't avoid hard. Though I wanted to, so badly. I didn't though, because I am Way's advocate and I am his Mommy. Way, unlike our others boys, needs us to stand up for him in ways we don't have to for his older brothers. And some of that has already happened, but it was game on once the IEP meetings rolled around.

Our IEP meeting was finally finalized yesterday. And while I wasn't angry or frustrated yesterday at the meeting, I was very much disheartened. Nothing ideal happened and really, nothing good happened either.

I found myself following the rabbit trails of "What-if's." What if he doesn't get x service? What if he can't ever go to such and such school? What if we can't afford to send him to this and that school? What if we have to move? What if he still isn't walking in a year? What if he falls through the cracks? What if this? What if that?

And let me tell you, the "What-if" game isn't fun.

But, by the grace of God, and after a few tears, I felt peace. I had family and friends praying for that meeting. I knew that their prayers wouldn't guarantee a rosy outcome. I asked them to pray for my peace about the entire thing and for wisdom in my role as Way's advocate. The Lord delivered my peace.

I want to live my life with the big picture before me, His big picture. I want my life to radiate with an eternal perspective! It's a fight, for sure, in this culture we live in. Our culture is dominated by success, money, drive, the best education, the best school, the best, the best, the best. I'm not immune to it. But, I want to be.

I've realized if I'm not living my life with an eternal focus, there truly is no point to this life. He has gone before us and fought for us. He has told us, in His Word,

"that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." --John 16:33
So, life isn't easy. But, the Lord has already won! That doesn't mean that the things of this life, like IEP meetings or decisions about schools, work, houses, health, etc. don't matter. But it does mean, we shouldn't worry. The Lord has also told us he will take care of us. He knows our needs, He loves us and He will provide for us!
"The Lord is my shephrd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. " --Psalm 23
 I'm so thankful the Lord is Way's Shepherd!

Friday, July 31, 2015

What I've Learned This Summer

It is the last day of July, which around here means summer is coming to a close. Not weather-wise, of course. It'll be hot 'round here for another month or two.

But school is starting in 2 weeks, so we are soaking up our last days of summer!

Thought I'd join in with Emily (where we talk about the bigger things, but mostly the little things and the even more trivial things on these occasions) and highlight . . .

What I've Learned This Summer

 1. I've heard it before, but I've never tried it. Why? Not a clue. But we will never have another beach trip without bringing baby powder with us! That stuff takes off the sand faster than you can say "Yippee!" I know, because I did that with a squeal and some jumping up and down!!

2. And speaking of the beach, I posted this pic on Instagram about a little perspective I gained. . .

Way and I were bowled over by a wave. Just sitting on the beach. He tasted his first gulp of salt water and was quite stunned! But just as quickly as that wave left, he was smiling and saying and signing, "Go! Go!" because he was wanting more! He loves the ocean! Lord, when things interrupt our days and stun us, may we all learn to "roll with things" and bounce back easier like Way, thanks to You!!! 

 3. Something surprising I learned? I never thought a TV show could be truly inspirational and bonding. Don't get me wrong, I've seen and watch some great shows. Shows that are uplifting or teach me something about humanity in a couple of messages. But I wasn't prepared for family of 6 to gather around the TV in awe of so many amazing people. Do you watch American Ninja Warrior? I know it's been around for a few years, but our boys are just the age to be aware of it and we heard about it from friends at the finale of last year's season. We've been waiting with baited breath til the start of the new season this summer, and it hasn't disappointed! 

Our boys are outside every single day creating and attempting ANW courses to complete. They are obsessed with getting in shape and even more inspired to get a "6-pack!" And while we are thrilled with their interest in health, I'm even more touched by their hearts. They've been moved to pray for one of the families on the show! If you haven't seen American Ninja Warrior. Check it out. Family friendly and on prime-time. That's rare!

4.  We are blessed to have boys who like to read. Some more than others, but there's not a day that's gone by this summer, where they haven't been plopped down somewhere immersed in a book! This has been our first summer to record books they've read. They are excited to add a new book to the list as soon as they've reached The End! I had no idea a list to tally the books we've tackled could bring such a sense of accomplishment!

 I know there's more that I've learned, but I'll stick with these 4 for now!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Sun-kissed, sandy, salty and sweet!

I'm aware that our city is not the only city sizzling in this summer heat right now. But, oh my stars!!! The heat indexes and humidity may be the end of me!
We took all of our boys on a walk up to our church playground this morning--only a couple of miles away--but I knew it would be tough for them in the heat. We brought water and even a Frisbee to hold water so Glory (who came too) could drink. Everyone was doing fine on the way there. We had lots of fun practicing for American Ninja Warrior (our boys are pumped to be American Ninja Warriors, but they have to wait until age 21, yikes) at the playground!

But then, on the way home, obviously hotter than when we started, people struggled a little. One of them just couldn't keep scootering and had to walk (though that just made him hotter). And then there was me. My fair skin and born-winter-girl body was about to collapse. I decided to run while pushing Way, because the faster I get home, the faster I get cool--if I make it home!!

And yes, I made it home, but as I was running down our street, the heat kept rising and I could feel my desperation to get inside. Get out of my way, don't talk to me and get me inside or take me to the ER! Whew!!!! 107 degrees is nothing to mess with! ;)

So what do I do when it's sizzlin' at home? I reminisce about our lovely beach trip!!

It was just last month, when we were at the beach, and the sun was out, but it was glorious! Not too hot and the ocean water was so very inviting! Way loved watching the waves, sitting in the water, calling out "Go, Go GO!" as the waves came up to him and trickled back down. He was hardly phased when one of the waves knocked us over! And the bigger boys took to their body boards and Daddy, who made it safe for them to enter the waves with the red flags!

We love the beach. We are good at the beach. Ya know? This family "wings" things. We are on our own time table at the beach. Nowhere we have to go. Only places we want to go and when we want to go there. It sounds extravagant, luxurious even, to me. And it is. Some people want schedules, routines, a plan. We can handle them, but we do every other week of the year. So our week in Florida is always a welcome change!

We splurge on seafood dining too. Not much better than Smoked Tuna Dip! Mmmmmmm!!! And we discovered snow balls at one of our fave restaurants this year! A treat indeed!!

On the days we do leave our beach, we sometimes head over to Seaside and enjoy a meal, a book stop, some treats and maybe even a game of Frisbee! Or we head over to Baytowne for ziplining and trampoline bouncing and more seafood! Aahhhh, the beach life!!

But still . . . being down on the beach, playing in the waves, going for walks, reading, building sand castles, burying brothers or sons or Daddy--it's all a good Jackson family time!

So thankful for our family beach trips to Destin! #J6Destin2015 in the books!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Summer is . . .

Summer is . . .

the juice of a peach (picked by you) so ripe, that it overflows out of your mouth!

Summer is . . .

the biggest waves of the ocean knocking you down, but enticing you to get back up again!

Summer is . . .

hanging loose and wild and free!

Summer is . . .

date nights on a patio outside!

Summer is . . .

enjoying the view!

Summer is . . .

throwin' it back on the beach.

Summer is . . .

finding a spot with the perfect book! Or two! Or five hundred!

Summer is . . .

searching for treasure!

Summer is . . .

riding the waves!

Summer is . . .

scanning the horizon for what's to come!

Summer is . . .

swingin' til our hearts content!

Summer is . . .

letting things go and just divin' in!

Summer is . . .

busy and relaxing and time to soak everyone up! We're still around, just enjoying our time together!

Monday, June 1, 2015

a return to Kazakhstan!

It's been a month since Hubby and I departed for Kazakhstan to help lead a marriage/family conference. Leaving in May was quite a feat as any of who have children or are in the teaching field know. May is not for the faint of heart! There are so many school programs and projects being wrapped up, field trips and field days and by the end of May we are all tuckered out!

And yet somehow, the week that Hubby and I went to Kazakhstan, we missed nothing school related! Hooray!!! We've told plenty of people about our trip, but I've yet to document it here, so I thought it's time I do!

That's our team above, minus another man who met us in Almaty! We were so blessed to go with this crew--we learned so much and were just amazed by what each person brought to the team! Our first day in Kaz was a day of acclimation. We needed to adjust to the 11 hour time difference and get our bearings about us. What better way to do that than visit with some old friends (Dan and Catherine used to be missionaries in Kaz, and I met some of the friends on my trip to Kazakhstan last year) or new friends for Hubby and Delana over lunch! And then, we headed up to the mountains! There's nothing quite like God's beauty in nature for me. I'm mesmerized and just in awe of it, especially these mountains! It was a great way to get the trip started!

Over the next 4 days, we spent 2 days leading a marriage and family conference to a Russian speaking church and then to a Kazak speaking church. First, our entire team spoke briefly before Dan led an introductory talk. We then separated into men's and women's groups. The girls talked to the women about being the heart of the home and the guys taught the men about being the spiritual leaders of the home. Once we joined back together, Fred led us all through a talk on conflict in marriage. And finally, we wrapped up with a question and answer time. The conference material was jam-packed and our friends were eager for more! Honestly, we needed more time there!

I absolutely loved the relationship building part of both trips to Kaz that I've been on. Throughout this trip we were able to meet with several families, hear about what the Lord is doing in their lives, pray with them and just get to know them better! I fell in love with the people last year and once again felt the same way this year! And as usual, just like here in the States, our time with friends always involved food or tea and coffee! These people truly know what hospitality is all about!

When Hubby and I were asked to consider going, I think both of us had no clue why the Lord wanted us to go. We were excited to be going on a mission trip together for the first time in 15 years and were excited to say "Yes" to the Lord, but we didn't know much more than that. I had been last year, but that was a special needs trip and was completely different.

By the end of the trip though, the Lord showed and taught us why he had us going. Different reasons for both of us, but we are so thankful we went. It was truly a blessing to be with our team and to get to see the Lord at work in Kazakhstan! We treasured the time spent with our Kazak friends and are thankful for all the Lord taught us!!


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