Family, Life lessons, Uncategorized

Thank you Quarantine

Dear Quarantine,

You’re getting a lot of hate right now. You’ve turned our entire world upside down. Because of you and that virus we’re scared, overwhelmed, restless, unstable, lonely, unsure of the future. Amidst the chaos let me be the first to say, thank you.

Thank you for forcing me to slow down. Thank you for reminding me that “essential” has lost its true meaning. Thanks for the time to snuggle and learn to ride bikes and for the silly moments that we would have rushed through. Thanks for giving me time to work on my passions. Thank you for the time to complete some of the endless projects that have only been building to this point.

Thank you for the hours of laughter that I would normally miss during the day. Thank you for the milestones I may have missed and for the lifelong memories. Thanks for forcing us to find new ways to connect and for reminding us of what we’ve all been taking for granted.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, through prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace that passes all understanding will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7

Thank you for highlighting those among us who are fearless defenders of our health, safety, and comfort. We salute them.

Thank you for turning many in our world to the Father – the peace-giver – when our peace could no longer come from the world and comforts we’ve built around ourselves. You have reminded us that the world is mostly good and that the Lord created us to be overcomers. Thank you for pointing us toward the One who never lost control amidst the chaos and for reminding us that there is a peace that passes all understanding.

Sincerely,

A grateful quarantiner

Motherhood

The lasts…

Listen y’all….I don’t think I’m ready.

Tonight I carried my sleeping, 7-year-old son upstairs to his room. He had fallen asleep on the couch watching his favorite, “Ninjago” and snuggling with daddy. When I realized it was past his bedtime I decided I should put him in bed. With a grunt I hoisted my big boy up to rest his head on my shoulder as his feet dangled past my knees.

Have we already reached a point where now I’m focused on the “lasts”?

My first thought was of how tall my first born had gotten – in the blink of an eye. His head didn’t fit on my shoulder quite the way it did as an infant. Suddenly, the thought occurred to me, “What if this is the last time I will ever carry him up the stairs?”

As a mom of littles my mind has always been focused on “firsts”. The first belly laugh, the first table food, the first roll, crawl or step. The first time I heard the word “mommy” and the first day of school. Have we already reached a point where now I’m focused on the “lasts”? The last time he asks for a story and a song before bedtime prayers? The last time he’ll let me kiss him before he leaves for school. The last time he’ll hold my hand in the store. The last time he’ll need me to tie up his cleats or pour him a glass of milk. The last time I’ll carry him, sleeping, up the stairs to his bed.

There are still plenty of firsts to look forward to. The first time he’ll stay home alone. The first time he’ll mow the yard by himself. I can’t wait to hear about his first love or be there to cry with him for his first heartbreak. What will it feel like to watch him drive away for the first time by himself? I’m excited to see his first apartment as he heads off to college or military life or something else incredible.

But, despite all of the firsts I have to look forward to, I’m not quite ready to face all of the lasts just yet. How did this come so quickly? Please don’t let this be the last time I carry my sleeping baby upstairs. Mommy’s not ready.

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Life lessons, Motherhood, Uncategorized

What soccer gave me…

Listen y’all…I know that many young women (even those who desire to have children someday) cringe at the term “soccer mom.” The term invokes images of minivans filled with stinky, noisy children, and Capri Sun straw wrappers everywhere. For me, there is nothing better. The only thing I ever wanted to be was a soccer mom, both literally and figuratively. I love Saturday mornings gathering up gear, rushing to games, cheering on the sidelines, bringing team snacks. I love it all.

As a lifetime lover of soccer myself, I dreamed of kids that loved the game as much as I do. As a kid, my dad was always my coach and my mom never missed a game. My brother and sister also played. We were a sports family, but soccer was always #1 in my heart. Because of that, I always hoped my own family would be the same.

I don’t want my kids to play soccer, I want them to have all of the things that soccer gave me.

This weekend my daughter took the field for the first time. She was the one
with the beautiful brown ponytail all the way to her bum swinging with every
step. She was the one dancing in the middle of the field with the pink cleats and shin guards, and the giant matching bow in her hair. She’s not quite the tom boy I was growing up. She didn’t score a goal. I’m pretty sure the few times she touched the ball she dribbled in the wrong direction. But, still, as I watched her on that field my heart was happy. She was laughing with her friends and she really loved that bow. I’m almost certain this soccer mom somehow gave birth to a cheerleader.

I’m not living vicariously through my kids or trying to force my passions onto them. Playing soccer was not a chore, it was what I loved to do and I want my children to find that for themselves – even if it does end up being cheerleading. These are some of the most cherished memories I have growing up. On the field is where I met my dearest friends, who are still my closest tribe more than 20 years later.

I learned more about myself in those 90-minute games than in any classroom. I learned to push myself both mentally and physically. I learned how to balance my time and how to fulfill commitments as part of a team. I learned how to be a good teammate by relying on people and “leaving it all on the field” for something bigger than myself.  I learned how to encourage others and I learned how to suck it up when I fell flat.

Soccer taught me how to be tough. It taught me that “practice like you play” carries over to the real world in so many ways. I learned how to be coachable and how to be a valuable member of a team even when you aren’t the most naturally talented. I learned that everyone has something to give and nearly everyone is stronger than they think they are.

I don’t want my kids to play soccer, I want them to have all of the things that soccer gave me. If in the end the game turns out to be baseball (Lord help us) or ballet or cheerleading or any combination, I’ll be happy as long as my children find something that they are passionate about. I want them to love something that isn’t always easy. I want them to fail and I want them to win. And I want them to cherish the memories they look back on.

But, also, I really want them to love soccer 😉

Life lessons, Uncategorized

Her hands…

You can learn a lot about someone by looking at their hands. Our hands tell the stories of our lives. In our family, these hands have been passed down from generation to generation. These hands remind us that we are family. We are unbreakable. These hands remind me that to be a “Wilcox girl” is both an honor and a responsibility.

Today, she is no doubt holding her daddy’s hand at the feet of Jesus. 

The Bible talks a lot about the hands of God because the thought is relatable, and comforting, and a powerful reminder. There’s nothing more personal than someone’s hands.

Today, my Aunt Jan went home to be with the Lord, but the lives touched by these hands will continue to love her until we see her again. Today, she is no doubt holding her daddy’s hand at the feet of Jesus.

There are many things I’ll remember about Aunt Jan. I’m sure everyone has their own precious memories that they will cling to. I’ll remember her laugh. It was the kind of laugh that could fill a room and brighten 1,000 suns. It’s the kind of laugh that stays with you. I can hear it even now and it makes me smile. I’ll remember her hugs. An embrace that surrounded you and was so full of the love that just poured out of her. I’ll remember her love for her family and her God. I’ll remember her hands.

We love you Aunt Jan. While a piece of our hearts went with you, we carry the truth that we will see you again. Until that day….

her-hands.jpg

Motherhood, Uncategorized

This chair

This seemingly ordinary chair has seen each of our days together – sitting in the corner, inconspicuously soaking up sweet memories that are all too fleeting.

This chair held me as I held each of you before you were born. It heard the quiet lullabies as I rubbed my belly and thought about the fears and my excitement knowing that I would soon hold you in my arms.

Then, this chair became the place where we shared some of our most precious moments together. It’s where we read “Goodnight Moon” every night for two years. It’s where I first sang you the song that my mom sang to me as a little girl…a dream come true. It’s where you learned the words to that song as you grew and began to sing along.

Some day I will hold my children’s children in this chair.

It’s where I rocked you to sleep on nights when I just couldn’t bear to lay you down or let you go. It’s where I nursed you for the first time and where I cried as I nursed you for the last time. It’s where we both fell asleep, your head on my chest breathing in sync, heartbeats in rhythm.

It’s where I spent sleepless nights worried about a fever or a lingering cough. This chair is where I prayed over you and where I asked for patience and wisdom. It’s where I cried as you slept when I felt like I had been too harsh that day.

In this chair, daddy held you and recorded a story book the night before he took our hearts overseas for God and country. Then, where daddy sang to you after you didn’t recognize his face when he finally made it home.

When one became two and two became three, it’s where I sat and spoke words of love and assurance over you knowing that in the morning life would look very different for our little family.

This chair has heard laughter and seen tears. It’s heard stories and songs and heartfelt prayers.

It’s nothing special to look at – just your average chair.

I almost let it go once, making room for the future. But in the end it felt like a part of me. A part of us. A carrier of our memories. And some day I will hold my children’s children in this chair.

Chair

Family, Motherhood, Uncategorized

I’m glad they have each other…

Listen y’all…

One day her brothers will threaten to beat up a boy she likes and she’ll hate them for it.

One day she will be the only girl they can cry in front of when they have their hearts broken.

One day they’ll realize they don’t really have much in common.

But today, they choose to all sleep in the same room on any given Tuesday.

They’ll share secrets and memories that mommy and daddy will never be a part of.

Today, they hug each other and share I Love You’s for no particular reason. They jam out to the same music in the car and wrestle endlessly in front of cartoons at the end of each day.

Today, they fight over silly things like who got to sit by the window last and who ate the last Goldfish, but one day they will be the first to stick up for each other in any situation.

One day they may become ruthless and competitive and resent each other’s strengths, but today they read to each other, help each other, and applaud even the smallest of victories.

One day they’ll beg for space, but today they hate the thought of one night apart and they squeal when they see each other after a long day separated by school or daycare.

For now, I’m glad they have built-in best friends. They learn from each other how to share and be kind. They learn how to be loyal and forgiving, but also when to be tough and when to show grace. My prayer is that their siblings will truly be one of their greatest blessings in life like mine are. I pray they will continue to cheer in each other’s moments of victory and cry with each other in the failures. I pray they build each other up, hold each other accountable, and always steer each other toward Christ. I pray they remember whose they are.

For now, they may not appreciate every moment. But, life gets hard. Tough times inevitably lie ahead and mommy and daddy won’t always be there, but they’ll have each other. They’ll share secrets and memories that mommy and daddy will never be a part of. God willing, long after mommy and daddy are gone, they’ll still have each other.

The Lord uniquely designs each family and I’m so thankful for the way He chose to build ours because I’m forever grateful that my kids have each other.

Family, Life lessons, Uncategorized

To the man who loved me first…

Maybe it’s because as the youngest child I spent much of my youth with just you and mom. Maybe it’s because we’ve always shared a passion for sports and music. Maybe it’s because we both cherish tradition. Maybe I just simply never lost the wonder a little girl has when she believes her daddy is a superhero. Whatever the reason, even after three children of my own, I’ve never stopped being a daddy’s girl.

I still hear your voice and words of wisdom almost desperately pleading with me, lingering long after I walked out the door as you tried to hang on to your little girl, “Remember whose you are,” not only as your daughter, but as a daughter of the King. Your words remind me still to live worthy. You prayed over me as I stepped out into life on my own and I’m certain you continue to pray for me today.

I chose a man who treats me like his queen because I grew up seeing myself as your princess.

You encouraged me to be strong, to practice hard, and when the time came to put my game face on. You taught me to make no excuses. I only know my own strength because you brought it out of me.

You taught me to work hard, pray hard, love hard, give everything, and then when all is settled, take a nap.

A little girl will never see herself with more worth than when she looks at herself through her daddy’s eyes. I chose a man who treats me like his queen because I grew up seeing myself as your princess. I’m lucky to have had such an incredible example of a husband and father and friend. And though he stole it years ago, you were the first man to have my heart.

No matter what, I’ll always be your little girl.

Love,
Your sweet pea

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Motherhood, Uncategorized

A mom’s worst nightmare

Listen y’all, this is one of the hardest things I’ve ever shared with the world, but here it goes…

I forgot my son in the back of the car. That’s right. The mom who the world thinks has it all together forgot her newborn son in the back of the car.

My whole life, leaving a child in a hot car had been one of my worst fears. While I feel like most don’t understand how a person could just “forget” their child in the back seat, I had read enough stories and heard enough personal testimony to know that it can happen to even the most dedicated and loving parent. Knowing this, I took every precaution I could think of. I put stickers in the car that I picked up from a local city hall during a campaign to raise awareness. I made arrangements with daycare providers to always call if my child was unexpectedly late or absent. I regularly reminded my husband if our routine changed and I was sure to speak out loud who would be responsible for dropping off or picking up the children. When my sister had her first child I was only 16 years old, but I had already begun to have nightmares of leaving my nephew in a hot car. And they continued with each child that entered our family after that.

I am more than cautious. I am more than aware of the dangers. I am more than educated on how easily it can happen. And still, it happened to me.

To say I was “out of my routine” is an understatement. I just had a newborn, our third, and I suffered complications after his birth. Those complications and hormones put me in a postpartum fog that I didn’t experience with the other two. For the first time since I was 15 years old I wasn’t working full time. My husband received orders overseas and we were trying to make arrangements for our home, our kids, our household goods, our three dogs, our newborn, get passports, schedule flights, schedule hotels, and the list goes on and on and on.

I tell you this not to seek any attention or pity for myself but in the hopes that the shame I feel and receive will be worth it if it helps even one family.

We had cleared out of our home and were staying with friends waiting for our flight overseas. One morning I took the older two children to preschool and the baby and I drove to our home to prepare for a walk through with our realtor. I was on the phone with my husband and had a million things running through my mind. My precious angel was silently sleeping in the back seat.

Thank God for whatever in that split second made me snap back into the reality of the moment. Thank God for every moment that I have had to hold sweet Asher since that morning when so many other families did not.

I got to the house, pulled into the drive way and still on the phone with my husband, rushed to the backyard to ensure the landscaper had come as he promised the day before to ensure the yard would be ready for photos.

I was relieved to tell my husband that yes, the landscaper had come. We hung up the phone and with one thing marked off the list and 999,999 more things running through my mind I simply walked inside, up the stairs of the completely empty house to the laundry room where one final load of cleaning rags needed to be folded and packed.

It was only about two minutes. I had folded maybe three small rags when all of a sudden in a flash my mind realized the silence and I gasped out loud as I bolted downstairs. Still in pain from child birth, but feeling none of it as I skipped multiple stairs, opened the garage door and ran, ducking underneath before the door was even half-way open.

Asher was still sleeping peacefully in the back seat but I pulled him out and held him, ran inside and sat on the floor crying and saying over and over, “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. Thank you Lord. Thank you Lord.”

It was early May in Arizona. Thankfully the morning was cool and I parked in the shade. Asher was only in the car for a couple of minutes, but his tiny nose had already begun to form beads of sweat. I have tears running down my face as I type this now.

Weeks went by before I told anyone, even my husband, what had happened that day. I couldn’t let the words come out of my mouth. I spent nights up with Asher crying as he nursed thinking of what could have happened and unable to sleep thanking God for his mercy on us that day. When I finally was able to share it with my husband all I said was, “My worst fear as a mother came true.” He knew exactly what I meant and he immediately responded, “You left Asher in the car.” Yes. I left my child in the car. My throat closes around those words as they hang there. My heart pounds and my hands are shaking. It seems unimaginable. But, it happened.

I pray that friends and family who read this are shocked. I pray that people say, “Oh my gosh, I would never imagine she would be the type of mom to do something like that.” Because the truth is, I’m not. Most aren’t. There’s a science behind the difference between “forgetting” and just completely “not remembering”. It sounds like semantics, but scientifically speaking, a person can have memories of something that never happened, like bringing the car seat inside as I had already done for Asher and his two older siblings countless times. If you’re shocked that this happened to us then that means it can happen to you.

Even with every precaution, my sweet baby was still in danger. Thank God for his hedge of protection. Thank God for whatever in that split second made me snap back into the reality of the moment. Thank God for every moment that I have had to hold sweet Asher since that morning when so many other families did not.

Please, I beg you, take precautions. Help those around you. Don’t be afraid to ask where the baby is or to double check. If you’re in a postpartum fog, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Audibly designate who is in charge. Use a sticky note. Leave a shoe in the back seat. Leave your phone in the back seat. Put a string around your finger. Whatever works for you. Don’t ever assume that the worst couldn’t happen to you. Because it can.

I expect a slew of negative comments coming my way. If I’m honest, maybe that’s why I’ve waited so long to share this story. But, if only one family is spared an ounce of heartbreak, then I’ll take it.

And to the mama who didn’t have a happy ending my heart breaks for you. Please know that God is still good and try to forgive yourself.

Uncategorized

#momlife

Listen y’all…I know the idea of motherhood is all sweet and gentle and filled with dancing in the kitchen and kissing boo boos. But, for me, the things that make me feel most like a mom are the very basic things that moms do during the course of a day or week. Most of them have to do with me remembering my mom doing these same things throughout my childhood. So, here’s my random list of the times when I feel most like a mom:

  • Putting folded laundry away in their drawers after they’ve gone to sleep. I specifically remember drifting off to sleep as a child hearing my mom shuffling around my room opening closets and drawers and picking dirty clothes up off the floor. It’s strangely comforting.
  • Reaching to the back seat while driving one-handed down the freeway to grab their trash. Every mom knows without asking what is needed when you hear the chip bag crumble and a voice from the back say, “Mom, here.”
  • Answering any question with, “Go ask your father.” I remember this back and forth very well as a child and I remember once my siblings and I were finally old enough to work it to our advantage.
  • Giving “the snap” and “the look” in the middle of church and never having to say a word. Oh yes…y’all know what I’m talking about.
  • Waking them up each morning for school by rubbing their chubby little hands. 
  • Any time both the first and middle names come out. It’s serious business when you say it through gritted teeth.
  • Yelling from downstairs to them playing upstairs that dinner is ready….like, 17 times before anyone actually moves.

How are you spending your between moments?

The real joys of motherhood are found in the day-to-day. We can all create picture perfect Facebook moments, but the time spent between those snapshots is what life and family are really all about. How are you spending your between moments?

Feel free to share the moments that make you feel most like a mom in the comments!

Life lessons, Marriage, Motherhood

To the one whom my soul loves: I see you.

To the love of my life and father of my children – I see you.

To the one who comes home from a long, stressful day and musters up the energy to wrestle on the floor and play Barbies – I see you.

When I’m feeding baby, helping with homework, and praising songs and you aren’t sure where you fit in any more because God and country have pulled you away for so long – I see you.

When baby is crying, dinner is burning and the bigs are fighting I see you wanting to help, but feeling mostly in the way. I see your heart wilt just a little every time the baby reaches for me out of your arms when I walk in a room because mom is most familiar.

I see your desire to be the man God would have you to be, so that when our children follow in your footsteps their paths are straight.

When my emotions are high from a lack of sleep and a day of chaos and you have to bear the brunt of my frustration or feelings of inadequacy – I see you. When I’ve given everything I have to every other piece of our lives – our children, our household, church, friends, and family – and you’re wondering if there will ever be anything left for you again – I see you. When most words escape you, so all you do is give a lingering hug and say “I miss you” – I see you.

When you catch a glimpse of them playing sweetly or sleeping silently and a smile of awe and wonder appears on your face – I see you. After every moment of discipline or parenting struggle when you’re second guessing every decision and hoping you’ve made the right choice – I see you. When your heart fills with sorrow because you want to teach and guide and mold, but disciplining is hard – I see you. I see your desire to be the man God would have you to be, so that when our children follow in your footsteps their paths are straight. As you hold the baby and pray that you can do right by him – I see you.

I get to see the you that most do not have the privilege of seeing. I see the you that is most afraid of the tiniest of humans because they are the most important things in your world. I see the you that sometimes feels lost in his own home; the you that is simultaneously needed for everything and nothing. I see the man that wrestles with balance and prays that every word is spoken in love and in lesson. I see a man identified by strength crumble at the cries of a child.

This season of our life is not easy, but what a joy it’s been to navigate it by your side. I know that you feel like you are constantly taking a back seat to everything else in life, and more times than I’d like to admit, you are. But, I promise, I see you. And I promise this season of our lives won’t last forever. Although, something inside me tells me that when it’s over we’ll only wish we could have it back.

But, for now, to the one whom my soul loves – I see you.

“I have found the one whom my soul loves.”                                                – Song of Solomon 3:4 

Joe and Andrew