Monday, September 6, 2010

Summer Review: Where to Begin???

As I begin this post, I feel the need to warn you that it is a long one. I use this blog as a journal of sorts, and a LOT happened this summer!

Before we get into school, I wanted to spend a little time reflecting over what happened this summer. I first want to thank so many of you who were prayer partners for our family during the past several months. Our family, immediate and extended, had a lot go on in a short amount of time. During all of it, we felt so surrounded by our friends and family who were taking care of us and bringing our names to the Lord. We can never thank you enough.
Over the summer, these two little ones have changed and gotten so much bigger! Anna Lee is three going on sixteen, and J.D. has moved from the baby stage to the little boy stage. He is walking, running, and talking now! The two of them have a blast together...they love on each other and bicker with each other all day long...and make me one busy mommy!

As the summer began, we got to spend some wonderful time with Jim's family at the annual Litton Family Reunion. Jim has a million cousins close to our age, so it is always a joy to get together with all of them to play, laugh, catch up, worship, and enjoy watching our kids play together. This year was Jim's grandmother's 90th birthday, so we all made a sign to surprise her. It took a lot of effort to get that many people organized! Jim's grandmother loved it!

I am so thankful to be a part of this wonderful family!

The next week, our little family of four made the big move from Dallas to Abilene!

Moving with kids is a LOT harder than moving without them! I know that seems like an obvious statement, but I was so amazed by it while we were getting packed up!

It was amazing to me to see how a house could quickly (and with a LOT of work) go from looking like this:

to looking like this:

to looking like this:

to finally looking like this in a new place.

We loved our home in Dallas so much and will miss it so much. We have so many wonderful memories in that house...bringing home two babies, birthday parties, Life Groups, sitting around talking with friends, playing with our kids inside and out...

But we are so happy to finally be settled here in Abilene. Our new home has a lot more room for our kids to play, and we have already enjoyed using it to welcome and entertain friends. We look forward to the memories we are going to make here.

As we left Dallas, our sweet friends had a going away party for us at the park. It was fun to all be together and reminded us of the blessing of friendship. We pray that the friendships we had with so many in Dallas will continue for many years, even though we don't live in the same place.

My sister and Nathan had prepared a fun Abilene Jeopardy game for all of us. It was fun to think back to times in Dallas, and made us look forward to new beginnings in Abilene.

As we left Dallas, we sat in this traffic for a LONG time to get out of town. Pulling into Abilene looked a little different... :)

We got to spend a few days at the end of June with my grandmother and her extended family for another family reunion. It was a special time to all get to be with her.

Our next big event was Disney World! Anna Lee, Jim and I flew to Florida to spend a week in the most magical place on earth. We had the GREATEST time!!! We left J.D. with my parents in San Antonio and got to see all of the princesses, Mickey, Minnie, Donald...the whole crew. Anna Lee was beyond excited. She continues to LOVE the princesses, so this was a dream vacation for her. She got to meet all of the princesses, and talked with them like they were her long-lost best friends. She was so funny while we were there. We kept her at the park the last night until 1 am because she was having such a blast. (Terrible parenting, I realize.) Here are a few of my favorite shots from the trip. Notice the JOY in her sweet smile. It was there all week! (except if Captain Hook was seen or mentioned.)

While we were at Disney World, my mom got very ill. She had had some scar tissure wrap around her intestine and close it off, and had to have emergency surgery to repair it. My dad had gotten J.D. taken care of by some wonderful friends and then my sweet aunt. Dad called us while we were in Florida and told us that Mom was ill. He assured us that she was ok and we should finish our trip. When we got back to San Antonio, we fully expected to see my mom sitting up in her hospital bed eating chicken noodle soup and recovering nicely. That was not what we found. Mom was in the hospital for 17 days, dealing with an array of unexpected complications. It was a tiring and stressful time for us all, but it taught us so many lessons. Mom was amazing at the hospital. She was a ray of light to everyone who came in contact with her, even when she felt terrible. Our family was brought so close together, and we learned to lean on each other and friends when we couldn't hold ourselves up. Thank you to all of you who were there to hold us up. We will always look back on that time and remember walls and walls of flowers, cards filling up our mailbox, food overflowing from our fridge, and prayers being lifted up to and answered by the Lord. I was amazed as I watched my dad care for my mom. He slept at the hospital every night and tried to work as much as he could during the day. He was by her side at all times, and took care of her when she at times couldn't take care of herself. It taught me so much about the unconditional love in marriage and God's unconditional love for us. While I was in San Antonio with my family, my own sweet husband, Jim, took care of our kids here in Abilene. I was so thankful for God's timing in this whole situation, and the fact that my husband was (for the first time in 5 years) available to take care of our kids for such a long time. He was super dad, as he took care of them for 3 weeks without me. Our sweet friend Claire came to help and Jim's mom came to stay with them as well. Again, we felt so surrounded by love.

My mom continues to improve everyday. She has been sounding more and more like herself lately, and it makes us all so happy!

After being home for a couple of weeks and getting used to our new house, we got a call that my sweet grandmother had fallen at her house in Sudan. My uncle brought her here to stay with them while she recovered from the fall. But the fall seemed to really take it our of her. My sweet aunt and uncle took care of my grandmother at their house for a week. She passed away peacefully and surrounded by the love of family at their home. The time that my grandmother was in Abilene was such a blessing to me. My kids were able to love on her while she was sing her songs, tell her stories, and make her laugh. I was thankful for the sweet memories I have with her that week. I was so sad for my mom during my grandmother's illness and death. My mom was still recovering from her own hospital stay, so the death of her mother was extra hard. My mom shared a special friendship with her mom that I know she will always cherish. She was able to speak at her funeral and said shared such wonderful stories about an amazing lady. We will all miss my grandmother..."Mom" to my sisters and me, "Great" to my kids, and "Mrs. Wilson" to the hundreds of students she loved and taught over a lifetime. I am thankful for the life she lead and the lessons of faith, strength, and love that she taught so many...including me.

These two little ones provided a lot of energy and joy for a weekend of sorrow. Thankful that my grandmother got to know them both.

Whew! So here we are at the beginning of a new school year. Our family's life has been flipped upside down in a matter of months. We have finally settled into a routine here in Abilene, and I thank God everyday for what He has given us and where He has brought us. The decision to come to Abilene was a difficult one to make, but as I now look back, I keep wondering why. I am continually overwhelmed at the blessings that God is pouring down on us, and I pray that we as a family will be able to use our time here to serve.

Tomorrow is the first day of school for our kids. Hoping and praying for a great day...and a great school year!