Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Funny isn't always strong

It truly was a sad day in our pop-culture world, as the news began to break with the death of Robin Williams.

I have to think it will be one of those "I remember where I was when I heard the news" kind of moments in my life.

He was Mork. He was Oh Captain, My Captain, he was Mrs. Doubtfire, he was my favorite Genie, my Popeye, he was my Goooooood Morning Vietnammmmm!

He was so many funny roles in my life.

No, I didn't know him.
Yes, I still grieve the loss.

No, he didn't know me.
Yes, he still has a place of memories in my heart.

But, you know what struck me this morning, as I woke, and truly, it was the first thing on my mind...obviously, he had no idea.

His laughter filled so many with joy.
His comedic role took a hurt away from so many.

But, obviously he struggled inside himself.

Depression and suicide are both so very real.
And it hurts my heart to know that there is a place so dark, that you can't escape, and see the joy and smile that you put on someone else's face.

Not even for a brief moment.
For that moment...there was nothing happy enough, nothing strong enough, nothing funny enough.

It's truly so heartbreaking.

And, if I am honest with myself, I know I've been there. Maybe not *that* deep. Or maybe not *that* low. And truly, not *that* dark.

But I've been there. Somedays, it would seem easier to setup camp there.

You just never know what someone else is battling, struggling with, or thinking about.

Kind words are important.
Checking on your friends is important.
Not dismissing other people, is important.
Sharing the love of Jesus is important.

Smiles don't always equal happiness.
Public appearances don't always equal joy.
You can buy a lot of "things" but you can't buy enough to fill an empty, dark space.
Kindness is important.

Funny isn't always strong.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Big G breakfast at Publix

In my quest to try a few new things, I was THRILLED when I received a box full of new General Mills products to take for a test drive!
The new Gluten Free Chex Oatmeal made me happy.
I know. Oatmeal? Made me happy?
Yes...yes it did!!!

Looking to take advantage of the summer season by kicking off a smarter eating routine? Let General Mills and Big G cereals help with two new tasty breakfast options – Cheerios Protein and Chex Gluten Free Oatmeal!

Available in two delicious flavors – Oats & Honey and Cinnamon Almond – new Cheerios Protein offers your family that long-lasting energy needed to start your day with a taste and crunch your family will love.

New Chex Gluten Free Oatmeal is the perfect way to get your day started! With flavors such as Apple Cinnamon, Maple Brown Sugar and Original there are a variety of ways to enjoy a warm gluten free breakfast. There are no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. Like Chex cereal it’s made with simple ingredients and made for you.

Cheerios Boxes

Look for great savings on these Big G items starting July 26 at Publix!

In-Store Savings

Offers available in-store from 7/26 – 8/15, available at Publix. Look for more details in the Back to School grocery flyer.

Save $2 off crayons, markers, pens or pencils when you buy any 1 Chex Gluten Free Oatmeal.
Save $2 when you buy any 1 Cheerios 10.9oz or larger AND any 1 100% Florida Orange Juice 59oz or larger. This sale includes both new flavors of Cheerios Protein.
Printable Coupons

Visit www.ReadyPlanSave.com to clip and print your coupons. Available while supplies last.

July: $1/2 Select Cheerios
August: $1/2 Cheerios Franchise
- Publix.com | Also, find Publix on Facebook

“Disclosure: The information and prize pack have been provided by General Mills through Platefull Co-Op.”

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Our final journey

And so it begins....

Tomorrow, he begins our final journey thru the halls of Pell City High School.

It's a very surreal feeling, to take this photo.
As I can almost envision the same shot, 3 years from now, as he begins the final year.

It's a little hard on the heart, if I am being honest.

This kid.....

my sweet little cutie faced child.
I could eat his cheeks with a spoon.

Still today I could.
I love this kid more than words.

I love his "colorful" personality. I love that he not only marches to his own drum, he's on the drumline of that choir by himself.

He's never been a kid of favorites or cliques, per se.

He's not always on the invite list, and he's way cool with that. Quick to dismiss why it's best he wasn't invited.

He's a hugger. Man oh man is he a hugger.
He's just a tender heart.

When I think of him growing up and leaving "the nest" my heart aches. Literally, the lump in the throat.
He's my "sing at the top of our lungs in the car" kid. He's my "cut-up in the grocery store" kid. He's my "mom, I'm sorry you don't feel so great" kid.

He towers over me these days, and he leans down to hug me.
I love that.

I could go on and on!

It's bittersweet, as I send him off, to the cruel world that High School can be.
But I know that he's pretty strong in and of himself, and his faith, and who he is.

Much more than I could say at his age.

So, here we go! I'm holding on tight...I know this one might just be a bumpy, colorful, spirit-filled ride!

And I can't wait to enjoy every second!!!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

To Infinity and Beyond....

I often tell my children, aside from being a mother....this is what I was called to do. My purpose, if you will.
I do recognize that I am not an expert, and I do recognize that I make mistakes, but one thing I know for sure, my heart is full of my "job".

Some days, my job is the most Magical job on Earth!
And then there are times, that my heart becomes so invested, I wish I could stop the clock.

That moment came, when I got a facebook message from Ollie's step-mother.

Let me step back for a moment:
It's funny how God brings things full circle sometimes.
You see, I have been following Ollie's story, because he is very near and dear to my friends Christen and Kayla.

Ollie is a cute little guy. Full of fun and spunk.
And everytime they mentioned him, it was a story...something Ollie did.

Imagine the depth of my heart-sink, when Jenni messaged me to say "Ollie has been placed on Hospice, and he wants nothing more than a trip to Walt Disney World. Can you help us?"

Oh, please. Can I help you? I want to go with you, and carry your pain, so that you can only have sweet moments.

YES! I would be MORE than honored.

So, we began scurrying a few details together, and working out the logistics.
By the end of the day, I had spoken with Dad, Grandmother, Aunts and then moved on to Guest Services at Walt Disney World, Concierge Relations and more.

A few days later....
I went to visit Ollie and his dad, Anthony, and Jenni.
Ollie asked me to show him on the Magic Kingdom map just exactly where he could meet Buzz Lightyear....And I did!

I brought a few fun prizes for him and one was a "swirly straw" with Buzz on it. With his lips stained from his red drink, He asked me to replace his boring hospital straw with the exciting swirly one....and I did.

He asked me to tell him a little bit more about the park, and how far he would have to go, and I did.
He knew he might tire easily, but he knew of a few things that were on his 'must-do' list ;)

In that moment, it was just me and that cute little guy, and he wasn't a child with Cancer, he was a child with a dream. A dream of Magical Moments just ahead!

I dreamed it with him.

Within just a few days, they were on their journey.
You can read Meredith's blogpost here.

I will not take credit for the VIP Tour Guide, as someone graciously purchased that for Ollie and his family, and I know it made every single moment even more intimate and endearing.

And so here we are today:

 (Rob, Christen, me and Charming, post-memorial: we may or may not have puffy eyes)

I went to Ollie's Memorial yesterday.
Christen and I were going together, and in his sweet fashion, my Charming didn't think twice when I told him we were going, he said "then I will go too"

He knew his support was needed, although I insisted it wasn't.

They spoke of his moments at Walt Disney World, they spoke of his heart to serve others, they spoke of his kind spirit, and they spoke of their grief.

My heart ached for them.
My tears flowed for them.

I could only wish that a mother and father would never have to experience this pain. The depth of this pain hurts me, to even try to imagine.

They offered up ways to help, by donating to the following organizations:

Please consider donating in Ollie's Memory or in Kayla's honor.  I know their families would be thankful to have your help in the search of a cure for childhood cancer.

 St Baldrick's Foundation
Children's Neuroblastoma Cancer Foundation
American Childhood Cancer Organization

And so, as we left there yesterday, we were all a little somber, and we went to dinner and we talked about Cancer and we talked about other things.
But as I went to bed last night, I prayed that God would comfort their blank stare today.
That God would pick their feet up, when their burden is so heavy they can't take their own step.

And, in truth, I thanked God for my job.
And for the reminder yesterday, as I imagine they looked out into that sea of people, knowing they probably saw no one, because their eyes were blurred with tears.... I wasn't their travel planner. I was their friend.
And my job isn't a job, as some may see it. My job is an investment in the lives of other families.
Everyone doesn't choose me to help them. And that's ok. God sends the perfect families at the perfect moment. I need them and they need me.

Oh what did I do to deserve such a blessing.
I am ever thankful today.

So, cheers to sweet Ollie! I hope he is singing "You've Got a Friend in Me" with the Heavenly choir...

To Infinity and Beyond!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Sweet. Salty. Or Cheddar?

I was invited to do a little taste test of the new Chex Mix Popped!

It was a fun little adventure. 
When these goodies arrived, I knew my guys would love it. 
So, we dig right in.

The first is Sweet & Salty. 

The next is White Cheddar

I think of the two, we all 4 agreed we liked the Sweet & Salty best. 
It was a pleasant mix of both! 

And, this would be a hit in the Fall for the dozens of tailgate parties. 
Grab a bag, and everyone's happy!!

Sweet. Salty.

Follow them on facebook, for more details on this fun new item!

Disclosure: The information and prize pack have been provided by General Mills through Platefull Co-Op, however, the fun little taste test, and the real-life thoughts are my own :)

Thursday, July 31, 2014

How do you brave your pain?

My friend Jennifer shared this blog with me, and it has taken a hold of my heart.

Her post today, just broke me.

I have been speaking with my friend Christen today, about decisions, and future, and questions, and reality.
And about God's will.

And why He chooses to heal some, and not others.

And, I have a funeral to attend Saturday, of a sweet 7-year-old, that God chose to bring Home early. He just couldn't win the battle of cancer. And that's NOT fair.

So, then, I finally take the time this afternoon to read this post "Tears in my popcorn"

and honestly, I think if I had read it this morning, or read it yesterday, maybe it would not have had the same effect.

But it got me.

First the phrase "but if I do fly away"

I am not sure why, but it jumped off of the page at me.
And it came out so strong.

But if I do.
Oh, such strong words for a mother to have to yield to her daughter.

And then she poses this question:
"How do you brave your pain? How do you struggle to live near to your pain honestly? Does living well mean faking at happiness when you are inwardly breaking? What would sharing your pain look like? Do you feel the pressure of hiding how you are feeling? How can you live honestly today? How can you let the tears fall in your popcorn?"

Just letting that sink in.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

No is not a valid response.

You know, that friend. 
The one that you hardly see. 
But you know they are on your team. 

The one that you just love. And they get you. 

Yeah. That's my friend Mandy. 

We haven't had one conversation about the whole "can't eat a dang thing without feeling like in being tortured" ordeal. 

And today, she texts to check in. 
Cause she's better than I am about that. 

And here ya go. 

I left the dr office last week so frustrated. And quite angry. 
At their lack of concern. 

And then this. 

I love her. 
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