Saturday, July 26, 2014

10-Month Anniversary

We still get asked frequently by people we don't see regularly on how Adam is doing, so I figured we were due for a blog update. We have passed the 10-month anniversary of Adam’s accident.  The one that resulted in trauma to his spinal cord and broke his neck in the C4/C5 area. Oh yeah, that accident. 

Sometimes my mind and heart still go back to the early moments and days. The shock of it all and the emotions can still seem very fresh. The needing to be present enough in mind to make decisions about how to proceed and having to choose whether or not to move forward with surgery not knowing how much it would help - and risking that it could cause more damage to his spinal cord.  The pressure I put on myself to be put together and presentable for those stopping by to lend their support and prayers – and the feelings of desperately wanting to have them there so I didn’t feel alone.  The moment of looking at my boys in a quick trip home and not knowing how to parent them and just simply feeling like I had nothing, NOTHING, left to offer to them.  Having to watch my life partner needing aid for simple, everyday tasks as well as needing to have others care for him in personal ways in which no one wants to have someone else do.  Conversations with God, not out of anger, but with desperation and human certainty that I could not handle being the caregiver for a husband that could not function from the neck down – and if that was the case, the guilt of my admission that life would be easier if he had instead died. 
(Gulp. Yes, I thought that.)

But, here we are.  God saw it necessary to allow Adam a level of healing that most professionals would say was not possible.  We’re humbled, but also incredibly grateful. Strangers would have no idea there was anything different about him.  He is doing so much.
                In late June, he led a missions trip to New York. He drove the church bus for long hours. He participated in construction projects (not to the same level he used to be able to, but his skills and knowledge still lend him as more capable than most).

                He’s riding his bike. He’s never rode for more than 6.5 miles, but he says he thinks he could and he’s noticing its getting easier. He’s started wearing his bike shoes again – the kind that clip into his bike pedals.

                He mows our lawn on our stand-up riding lawnmower that requires a decent amount of hand/grip strength.

                He carries Heath, our 25-lb toddler, when needed to.

                He does all of the old stuff around the house that he used to. I honestly cannot think of anything that I need to pick up the slack on these days.

                He no longer takes any medication.

So, is he completely back to his old self? Well, no.

Here’s where we still notice some differences:
                He doesn’t have some of his fine motor ability/feeling back. Recently, he had some french fries in a bag from a fast food restaurant. He was trying to reach his hand in and be able to distinguish in being able to feel and pick out just one french fry. He couldn’t do it.  If you watch him do anything with fine requirements, it might look a little awkward.

                He made the comment last week that he doesn’t like going to bed. Its at the end of the day when he finally feels like his body has loosened up and able to function a little smoother. He wakes up in the mornings with everything feeling like it has curled up and gotten tight and sore. 

                He still can’t do anything that requires quick, graceful, or of anything with decently athletic movements.  He got a bit lazy with working out for a bit, but he’s back at it again. He’s noticed that it takes a lot longer for his body to recover from a workout where he has pushed himself. He says it is different than how it used to feel and the soreness sticks around longer than it used to.

We are still just blown away and thankful for how we are really back to a pretty close resemblance of how life was before the accident.  We won’t forget what we’ve learned and what we’ve gone through. And we still hope to use this to point others to Jesus.  Human support was beautiful, abundant, helpful and so appreciated.  We still run into people that we don’t know….but are friends of friends – or heard about Adam from someone that they knew – who say they were following his story and recovery and had been praying for Him.  Um, WOW. Always makes me feel that the world isn’t so big after all. 


But it was the hope we have through Jesus that made all of the difference for us. Despair never stuck around for very long – even in the early days. God granted us peace in most of our moments – even when there was so much uncertainty and unknown. We would come to Him and He would comfort and deliver.  I knew in my heart that no matter the outcome, He was going to supply what we needed and get us through – in His power, not our own.  And even if things were overwhelming and difficult, I knew that this frail life was just temporary and if we could just make it through our numbered days here on earth, we would have an eternal, perfect, heavenly dwelling with no more suffering and hardship.  We would be face-to-face with the Savior who loves us beyond what we can imagine.  There’s nothing that can compare with that. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Tate turns 5!

Our Tate turned 5 earlier this week!

His birthday was on Monday. We somewhat quietly celebrated at home. We let him choose what we had for breakfast (Lucky Charms) and dinner (Stromboli). We went to the zoo. We opened some presents and cards from far away family and from us. We let him stay up late and catch lightening bugs. A good day. Here's a few pics:
Tate loves the Schleich brand dinosaurs - especially the ones that have mouths that open and close.
And Grandma Vig loves to indulge his little heart.
Tate, and his birthday buddy, Lydia, at the zoo. Same birthday....just 12 years apart.
Great-Grandma Willis and Heath watching the gift opening.
Tate LOVES bubble gum! 



But then, what he had been waiting his whole life for up to this point:

His 5-year old Birthday PARTY! 

Theme: Sharks! 

Tried to keep it simple. But I like order (as opposed to chaos). And I'm a planner. And well, it's F.U.N. to throw a birthday party! I still felt like I kept things pretty simple, but we kept the 2 hours hopping with activities and food and attempting to reign in the energy of 10 young boys! I'm pretty sure the boys would have been happy with just running around our yard, kicking balls around, and yelling. But again, I like order. And I was in charge. :) I was also the only girl that was allowed at the party. Tate said this was to a be a party with "only boys." 









Here's what Tate is like at 5 years old:
- He's showing to be a bit of an introvert much of the time. Still gaining confidence in who he is and figuring out how he feels about being in groups. (2 years ago I would not have predicted this!)
- He loves ferocious things with sharp teeth! (Dinosaurs, Sharks, Dragons)
- He has a GREAT memory and will recall details that I often struggle to remember.
- He's very observant at times and just likes to sit back and watch what is going on.
-Yet, he also has a great deal of energy and at times, it is like it is bursting out of him and he cannot contain crazy body movements and even crazier noises. 
- He loves to eat! He is often thinking about the next meal or asking for a snack.
- He still takes a 2-hour nap almost every day. 
- He can throw some HUGE fits when he doesn't get that nap. 
- He is almost as tall as Landon. 
- He can be a big sweetheart! 
We love him very much and cherish these 5 years we have got with him so far! 

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Youth Missions Trip

We just returned from a trip with the youth from our church (well, 5 days ago now, but it takes me awhile to catch up with the every day stuff in order to be able to sit down and blog.....who am I kidding? I'm not caught up?! I'm running around feeling crazy and stretched too thin!) Anyways. I don’t write about our work in youth ministry a ton, but it does make up a very, very large part of our lives. We still feel very drawn to work alongside youth, love on them, hear their stories, guide them to Jesus, and help them to grow in their faith. Some days it is easier than others. But this trip was really enjoyable on multiple levels. 

We went with GROUP mission trips.  Basically, GROUP puts on these trips all over and churches can sign up to participate one. They handle many of the logistics regarding securing work, feeding us, lodging, putting on programs, providing devotional material, etc.  (I must admit there are aspects of the trip that we (Adam and I) were not big fans of, but this trip was great to try and due to Adam being out of the office for several months, it was great in having many of the logistics covered and handled by someone else.  We mostly had to get a handful of paperwork completed and get ourselves there). We travelled to the small community of Newark, NY. We served alongside 6 other churches from various denominations.  Our youth were all split up amongst these other churches and went out to various work sites to serve.  Some served alongside organizations that provide services to the community. Some served in residential locations. Some served in nursing homes. We worked hard. We painted. We weeded. We built. We cleaned. We planted. We talked with.

The nature of the trip was great for getting to help a community with their needs and having the opportunity to serve in tangible ways.  It was also great at getting us out of our comfort zones and forcing us to work alongside others that we had just met.  Working alongside someone nearly always begins a relationship and allows you to hear one another’s story. 

Some of the stories I heard broke my heart.  Youth from inner city Philadelphia who appear vibrant and happy – but only to hear that they have wretchedly awful home lives that they will be returning to (emphasis on wretchedly and awful). Or talking with a pleasant young man in my serving group who has grown up in a church, yet it has clearly failed him as he has no working knowledge of what the Gospel is about, he is not aware of what John 3:16 says, and he did not seem concerned or bothered by any of that at all.  My attempts at sharing with him felt kindly brushed off and unnecessary to him.

There’s a great big world of people. People that need love. Sometimes the task to love on them and share with them the saving grace of Jesus just seems overwhelming. 

But we keep in mind that its one person at a time. And its our job to be faithful in the small things.  Our job is to love God and to love people. Sometimes we forget that. Trips like this remind us and force us to extend ourselves for others.

One of my favorite aspects of the trip is that due to most of our group being separated during the day at various different sites, we were brought back together in the evenings and eager to share our varied experiences with one another.  A trip like this brings your group closer.  We lived in close quarters. We ate together. We shared showers that had limited availability and warm water. We rode a bus for long hours.  All of those have the opportunity to instill in you patience, looking out for one another, being flexible and content, and of course, loving each other and having lots of fun. J

Here’s a few snapshots from our trip:
Team-building games prior to leaving.
Visited the restaurant where "Buffalo Wings" originally began.

Adam using a gas auger to dig holes.  He questioned whether or not it was a good idea for him to try to use this.
Of course, that didn't stop him.
Someday I will learn to not let teenagers look at my phone.
Although, it is fun to post the pictures they take of themselves. ;) 
Pretty sure arm-wrestling happens on all of our youth trips.
Out for pizza on our night off.  
Cut through Canada and checked out the beauty of Niagara Falls.
Dutch Blitz made the hours go by a little bit faster on the bus.
Trust me, we worked. We were just working so hard we didn't stop to take pictures of that much. 

So thankful for these great youth that we get to work with!

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Let's Get This Summer Party Started!

School ends tomorrow! Happy and sad feelings. But as I look at our calendar, I realize we'll be Busy (yes, I felt the need to capitalize that). Even though we have a lot going on, I still wanted to make sure the boys felt like they had some input into our plans. The boys and I sat down tonight and listed some things that we want to do this summer. I tried to keep obvious things off the list. (i.e. Have a pool party. Plan a playdate. Eat popcicles. Go to VBS. Play in the sandbox. Go to the zoo (family pass +2 - who wants to come with?!!). Stay in our PJ's all day.) You know, things that are essential to summer break. We tried to keep the list to things we will need to be intentional about making happen.


And onto other fabulous things. I had to share what Adam and the boys got me for Mother's Day last month.
 Not flowers. Not jewelry. Not chocolate. 

A refillable movie theater popcorn bucket!

Be still, my heart.
They know me so well.

I can fill this baby up until October 1!
We only see movies in the theater a few times a year, but I don't need to see a movie to stop and fill this up. 
I'll probably gain 10lbs with all of the butter flavoring I like to add.

Let's add "Eat as much popcorn as humanly possible" to that Summer Bucket List. 

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Soccer

Landon played his 2nd season of soccer with our city rec league. I say "season"....but it's only 5 games.

He played in a 5 & 6 year old league again. There was a HUGE improvement from last year to this year. He was much more aggressive. Last year, he almost scored a goal once. This year, he scored 1-2 goals every game.

We're trying to teach him about good sportsmanship. A work in progress that I'm guessing will take 25 years, give or take a few years. Several times we would have to tell him to not make negative comments about the other team if they weren't playing well. He never said them in a mean tone....but still, things that shouldn't be said outloud. Or remind him that being part of a team is not just about how many goals that he scored. We even saw him purposely push another kid back after he was pushed. Yikes! (Something he may do to his brother.....but we've never seen him do this to another child, let alone one that he did not know at all). Overall, he ran around the field having a great time and smiling the majority of the time. But every once in awhile we would witness something that we would feel the need to talk about with him afterwards.

He seems to really love the game and told me that he wants to play it until he's a grandpa.

Here's a few actions shots from his last game:

This is what much of the game looks like. A big pack of kids all trying to kick the ball into each other's shins. 



And this is what Tate likes to do during much of the soccer game:
Picking clover flowers and looking for bugs.  He says he wants to play soccer when he turns 5.

And Heath likes to play a soccer game all on his own behind the spectator area:

Memorial Day Weekend

We visited my brother, Dan, for a bit over the Memorial Day weekend.  The boys mostly remember that our trips there involve Uncle Dan letting them drive his tractor around the backyard. Lots of fun enjoying the trampoline and go-cart also. 






We mostly went because Dan was passing along one of his vehicles to us. He presented us an offer that we couldn't refuse. Plus, we were in need of a 2nd vehicle. 
And to top it off, this vehicle has a bit of sentimental value to us as well.

We rode in this from our wedding to our reception back in 2003. 
And now its parked in our driveway.


We finished off the second half of the weekend at home enjoying multiple gatherings with friends and taking in a very hot and sticky Memorial Day parade.  So thankful to live in a country where we can remember, honor, and celebrate those that have served and fought for our freedoms.




Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Garage Sales



There's something about the excitement of the hunt. The anticipation of finding an amazing deal. And then scoring something at a ridiculously great price that you may, or may not, have known you needed.

Ahhhhhhh. Garage sales. 

My boys have been trained from a young age to look for those neon cardboard signs on the corners of the streets.  

You just never know what you may find at a garage sale! Some of their clothes comes from garage sales (Ok, some of mine do also). House goods. Sports equipment. We even got a Bike Tag-a-long this past week that we've been talking about getting for over a year! The boys like to take their wallets and I make them use their own money if they see something they want.


Not only do we like to go to garage sales.....but, call me crazy, I like to have them also. 

Maybe its the enjoyment I get from organizing things. Maybe its the idea of making a few bucks. Or maybe its because I like to purge the house of things we don't need. Maybe its the idea of sitting out on a beautiful day mingling with others in our community as they come over to my house to visit/shop.

Or maybe its because I like to get NOTHING else done in the week leading up to the garage sale, nor for the 2-3 days of the sale. Or maybe its because I really like putting pricing stickers on things and finding them stuck in places all over our house and driveway for the next week. Maybe its because I like to haggle with people over whether or not I will take 25cents instead of 50cents on a pair of flip flops that were never worn.

Ok. It's probably more of the first list, but the second list comes along with it.

Another one in the books for the Willis house. Our block coordinates a sale every year and somehow we always mange to have a pretty big sale at our place. Sometimes I invite friends to put their stuff in it. Once we did a mission trip fundraiser. But this year due to one set of parents moving across the country and another set of parents who own mini-storage buildings and unfortunately had to liquidate a unit, we had quite a bit of their stuff to put out.

A successful and busy couple of days. We even sold a car! :)


'Tis the season for garage sales! 
I have my wallet full of quarters and ready to go!

Thursday, May 08, 2014

10 Year Anniversary at Kuyper College

This past January marks the 10-year anniversary in which I started working at Kuyper College.
Having it recognized recently has made me be a bit reflective of my time there.
When I applied for a position at Kuyper, I remember someone telling me that it was a tight-knit community and it seemed really hard to get your foot in the door there. Well, my foot has been in the door and thankfully, I just haven't been able to get it back out of the door.

My first 5 years were spent working full-time, mostly in Student Life. I loved having the opportunity to know the students well and to work at providing them an experience and education that went beyond learning in the academic classroom and beyond getting a grade.  It was exhausting, exciting, stretching, and I learned an incredible amount about working with others and serving.  I have many very good memories.

I stepped out of that position when I was expecting my first child. 
I think there was even a goodbye party for me at that point.  
I was open to part-time work, but I knew I did not want to work full-time.
I thought I was saying goodbye to Kuyper.
But then a few jobs were presented to me to help with.
I worked about 15-20 hours a week after that. 
Less than a year a half later our second child was born.
I wanted to work even less. 
For almost 5 years now, I work on average 5-10 hours a week.

Kuyper is made up of many very, very good people. It aims to "Bring God's Grace into Today's Culture" by training up Christian leaders.  This small community supports one another and cares for one another.

Probably what I appreciate most about Kuyper though is that they've allowed me to work my dream job.

No, I don't mean the current projects I work on for the Academic office and faculty. 
Those are OK. ;)
I mean getting to be a part of an organization that has great purpose and value and how they allow me to be to be a part of it, even in a small way.
And I mostly mean getting to be home with my young children the vast majority of my time.

I have never had aspirations to climb any sort of ladder or earn a bunch of degrees or credentials behind my name.  I have never felt a strong call to anything specific vocation-wise.  Right now, my heart is sold out on investing in my young children by staying at home.  At this point, I do not feel there is any job or paycheck that could be presented to me that would make me want to return to the workforce full-time while they are young. And thankfully, we have benefits through Adam's job and are able to live off of what he earns.

For me, I'm doing what I want to be doing.
I have the best job I could imagine.
(Some days I need to remind myself of that when a toddler is fussing at my feet, the older two are fighting, and I haven't had face-to-face contact with another adult all day....nor a shower).

And I know that Thursdays will roll around and allow me to step away from the home life, giving me the chance to wear pretty jewelry and cute shoes, while I work to be a part of a community that is making an impact in this world.

The President of the college is gifted at woodworking and he makes gifts for every 5-year increment that is celebrated.
If I stick around long enough, I think he'll make me a rocking chair.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Back to Elementary School

On Monday, Adam was a WATCH D.O.G. at Landon's Elementary School. The program seeks to provide positive male role models in the education environment and to provide an extra set of eyes and ears to enhance school security and reduce bullying. Landon was really excited to have his dad there. The kick-off event for the WATCH D.O.G. program was the day after Adam's accident back in September. Obviously, he didn't make it. But Landon has been asking for quite some time if there was still a way for dad to sign up for a day to go to school and be a WATCH D.O.G. 


This was not a simple little recess duty or storytime. He spent the whole school day helping out in the K-2 grades. He had a busy schedule and trucked around from one class to the next. He worked one-on-one with kids, monitored the hallways, ate in the lunchroom, and basically did whatever the teachers had for him. He had a good day.
He said one teacher had him hang a clock up on the wall and it required him to stand up on a chair. I asked if he told anyone about how he might have some limitations because he had experienced a serious accident in the autumn. He smiled, rolled his eyes and said, "no." 

I'll admit I kinda struggle with knowing how to handle situations like this.
When is the right time to make known what has happened? When is the right time to just quietly carry on and not draw any attention to the matter? Should we continually shout it from the rooftops that God has done a healing work in Adam? Or humbly carry on our daily tasks? We certainly believe that God can be glorified and that we can give him credit for Adam's recovery, but we also don't want to keep strumming the same song and bring unnecessary attention to ourselves from people who may not care. Certainly, Adam still has some limitations and if the gym teacher would have told him to chase the children in a game of shark and minnows.....well, it might have been a long game of shark and minnows. :) 

I know we just need to pray for discernment in deciding when to share about what has happened and when to quietly plow through. Abiding in Him will make it clear.
But we are very grateful that Adam is able to engage in days like this with his boys.  It feels very good. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Tooth Fairy

I told Landon he wasn't allowed to lose his first tooth while I was away for the weekend. 
Yeah for obedient children! ;) 

He wiggled it out tonight right before bed. 
He was SOOOOOOOO excited about it. I imagine it took him awhile to fall asleep from all of the adrenaline and giddiness. 

He's a bit of a "realist" (like his mother) and likes to know how things work and what he can expect, so he is fully aware of the technicalities of the Tooth Fairy and that she doesn't really exist. But we've talked about it the past few weeks and I explained how things really work.
We put the little tooth in a plastic bag and as Adam tucked him in and had him put it under his pillow for the Tooth Fairy, Landon said something along the lines of, "I'll just put it right here under the corner so it is still showing a little so that it's not too hard for you to get it and put the money there." 
That kid.


Girl's Getaway Weekend

Jesus needed to rest and retreat at times. 
Therefore, we all should.
Right? :)

Left the husband and kids at home and met up with some girls from high school this past weekend.  One I had known since kindergarten. Another since middle school. And one I never really hit it off with until right after we had graduated.  But they were all in our wedding and are all girls that I have a very special place in my heart for and we've managed to stay in pretty good touch over the years, mostly because of the bond of our faith. And YEARS, it has been.....15 years this spring since we graduated. Certainly doesn't feel that long!  

Even though we are all spread out, its easy to pick up from where we left off.  When you've moved away from where you grew up and you don't have any of your immediate family or longtime friends around you, it feels really good to be around people that have known me that long, come from the same small town area, know my family, know my history, and still want to be around me despite all of that. :) 

Lots of laughing. Staying up too late. Attempting to sleep in. Shopping. Eating out (i.e. not having to cook, clean up, or feed anyone = bliss!). Pedicures. More shopping. And probably some other things in between there. It went by too fast. 

Here's to planning for next year's getaway with them! 

A little pampering.

Starbucks to help with the lack of sleep. 
Shopping!  Gorgeous weather. Almost felt like I was on a tropical vacation even though I was only in Central Indiana! 
Trying on clothes. 


Thursday, April 24, 2014

And you thought I was done blogging....

Trust me - I've thought about updating our blog numerous times in the last 2 months. But thinking about it doesn't actually culminate in anything, now does it? ;)  I'll try to be better.

So many things we could have shared about. 
Heath has finally turned the walking on. And its fast and furious and all over the place. 
Several fun trips to the Children's Museum and zoo. 
Exciting Men's Bible study participation. 
I did Jillian Michael's "Ripped in 30" workout for a month. 
Adam and I both went to Landon's Kindergarten class to read. 
Tate was accepted into the Young 5's program at a local charter school! Was really not wanting him to do Kindergarten yet. Also, Landon got accepted into 1st Grade there also. This was the school where Landon was #93 on the wait list last year. 
A visit to see my parents and grandparents in Indiana. 
Several local Spring Break events. 
Several recipes I thought about sharing on here. 
Spring soccer is beginning. 
Several good girlfriend outings. 
A wonderful Easter day having good friends over. 
Exploring the local Nature Center. 
Adam bought a new truck and then sold it.  
An outreach EGGstravaganza event at church. 
I've gotten back into giving plasma somewhat regularly.

And I'm sure there are lots of other events that I could have written a little diddy on. 
And things I'm learning and thinking about. 
And, my goodness, we have some cute boys that are always doing or saying something that makes us laugh or melt. 
And, oh yeah, Adam continues to push himself to see improvements and do as much as he can.  He's been good about regularly stretching and working out - which is not only important for everybody to engage with - but it's extra important for him. He does strength training several times a week. He's had his bike clipped into a unit that makes it into a stationary bike and rides it regularly. He even took it out last night and rode 5 miles outdoors! A little nerve-inducing. But he's a grown man. I can't hold him back and thankfully, I don't feel a large need to try. I'm just happy that he's finding ways to engage with activities he enjoys and we can see that he'll be able to participate in them.  
Because this blog has readers that like to hear updates about Adam, I'll delve a little further into where life is at now almost 7 months after his accident. His walk has a little bit of a stiffness to it, although it is seeming smoother.  He's always really stiff in the mornings. He says he thinks his hands are still slowly gaining improved feeling. Fine motor stuff is still a struggle at times. He nearly always sleeps on his back as he notices if he sleeps on his side, his body tends to "coil" up resulting in greater stiffness and spasms. Speaking of spasms, he has spasms (mostly) in the mornings - mostly in his legs, but also in his back and hands. 
We have a kindergartner who is very into trying to jump rope. Adam has tried. He can get it around a few times, but it isn't pretty. :) Jumping, running, and fluid movements are not something that Adam can do very well. Not yet anyways. He also still can't seem to make his body perspire. Will be interesting to see how this plays out in the heat of the summer and how he will need to find ways to cool himself down. He did sweat when he got sick a month or two ago (vomiting/fever), but he hasn't sweat from working out yet. Several times he's noticed his feet feeling very swollen and uncomfortable, usually when he's been on them a lot. He also fatigues fairly quickly still. Overall, Adam still has a "go-get-'em" attitude. 

I'll finish up this post with a smattering of some of my favorite photos from the past few months.
And a promise to be a better blogger. :)