Tag Archives: family

“Finding the Good” Part 1

27 Nov

I know you’re all itching to know how my Thanksgiving went, but I’d like to share something else first…

My senior year in high school marked the beginning of my negative feelings toward this holiday. Prior to this year, Thanksgiving was easily my favorite time of year. This particular year, though, a terrible accident happened and it made me look at Thanksgiving with sadness. A well-loved former high school alum was killed in a car accident, forever altering my view of my carefree, little world.

Sara was an exemplary person, one who many of our small town’s youth looked up to. Her death was tragic for everyone who had the pleasure of knowing her. You can read more about her here.

Then, my senior year in college, I heard word of another accident. I’ll never forget. It was the day I had to give my thesis proposal to my peers and professors. My nerves were already elevated, but when I got word of the wreck there was only one thought in my mind and it had nothing to do with the success of my paper. Would my cousin live? Is he going to make it?

His friend (and mine) had already died instantly in the crash-

More heartache felt like more than I could bear. More than I wanted my family to bear. Still, he passed away on Thanksgiving Day.

Trey was 25 when he died. Younger than I am now. It still seems so wrong. But some place deep inside me, I know God is in control of us. I trust in Him. That’s all I can do. Trey’s sister (Laura Lefler Herzog) wrote this about him. I hope you’ll read it because her words say far more than I could ever write and she encapsulates the beauty of Thanksgiving:

Last Thanksgiving, my life changed forever.

My younger brother and only sibling, Trey, was in a very serious car accident and after several days in the hospital he died from his injuries. It was Thanksgiving Day.

There is no doubt that Thanksgiving, and life in general, will never be the same for those that loved Trey, but I believe the timing of his death was significant. It forced us to approach even our darkest day with a spirit of gratitude.

Trey and I both worked for Senator Lamar Alexander for years, and you can’t work or even be around Sen. Alexander for very long without hearing him quote his friend Alex Haley who said, “Find the good and praise it.”

For me, part of “the good” came when we learned that Trey would die the same way he lived, by loving and giving. I like to say that Trey, more than anyone else I know, tried to live his life according to our Lord’s commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves. As a natural extension of his generous spirit he had chosen to be an organ and tissue donor and because of his loving choice at least five people were given new life: two single mothers in their 40s, a 56-year-old mother of two who had been married for 28 years, a 36-year-old gentleman who enjoyed fishing (one of Trey’s favorite pastimes), and a 62-year-old physician and father of four who had been on the transplant list for two years.

My family has learned a lot about organ donation in the year since Trey’s death. In particular, we’ve experienced firsthand that while marking “yes” to organ donation is critical, it’s just as important to share your wishes with family members. As the Tennessee Donor Services Web site states: “A discussion with family now will mean a life-affirming decision later.”

According to Tennessee Donor Services (TDS), Trey renewed his driver’s license at a kiosk in Nashville on May 14, 2007, and marked “yes” to organ and tissue donation. His girlfriend, Jane, also recalled a conversation with Trey just a few weeks before his death indicating his wish to donate “everything.” She remembers him saying, “I’ll be with the Big Guy. Give it all.” As we sat in the hospital waiting room, I struggled with the decision to donate his eyes. It seemed so invasive. But they were not my eyes to give. They were Trey’s, he didn’t need them in heaven, and he had made it very clear to “give it all.”

Many people find talk of organ donation uncomfortable and maybe even morbid. And many people believe organ donation is a good thing, but just put off doing something about it for another day. According to TDS, a survey conducted by the National Coalition on Donation found that 91 percent of respondents support donation, and yet 29 percent have taken no action to indicate their wishes via their driver’s license, donor card, living will, or by simply telling their family. That was me. I’m embarrassed to say that I signed my driver’s license the day that Trey died. I’m so thankful that my responsible brother was not part of that 29 percent like I was.

Because of his decision to be an organ donor, Trey’s story became a resurrection story. Out of death and despair came new life, and our Thanksgiving became an Easter. Through our tears we rejoiced knowing that five families had gotten a call on Thanksgiving Day with news that their loved one would be receiving a life-giving organ. What an incredible Thanksgiving for them!

True story: On my mother’s birthday last March she was having dinner with my stepfather at a restaurant in their hometown, 250 miles from the site of Trey’s hospitalization, when a gentleman approached her and thanked her for the very special gift her son had given him. It was the 62-year-old physician and the keeper of one of Trey’s kidneys. The gift – the good – had come full circle.

Because of his example, I’m a donor now, too.

Every year, around this time especially, my thoughts are with these three individuals who have shown me so much.

There was plenty of good to be found this year. I’ll be sure to share all that with you next time I write. Thanks for listening.

Love,

Mrs. K

Thankfulness

24 Nov

I always treasured the old hymn that says, “Count your many blessings see what God has done.” It’s a practice that should last all the year long, not just on the fourth Thursday every November. God has blessed and enriched my life in so many ways that it would be difficult and lengthy to display in this small space. I’ll list a few, though…

* He gave me an amazing blended family. When my parents divorced, it seemed like the worst thing in my little life. But now, as they have re-married other truly awesome individuals, I recognize how God blessed us even in times of trouble. I consider my additional family members part of my true family, too. I am thankful for my stepmom, Julie, and my stepdad, Joe. Thank you both for making my parents so happy! I’m forever grateful and I love you both.

*God also gave me the most beautiful, wonderful family of my own, too. I’m thankful for J’s parents who raised him to be the man he is today. I’m especially eternally grateful to God for allowing me to raise my angel, Baby K. I love my little family so much; my heart overflows.

*He provides, too doesn’t He? I’m thankful for the promise evidenced in Matthew 6:31-32:

“Therefore, do not worry saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’…For your Heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.”

I’m thankful for Him providing my husband a job that allows us to have food on the table every night, a roof over our heads, and clothes on our backs. I’m thankful and proud that his job is with the Army, too because there are many opportunities for me to miss him and have him return to me-That way, I can fall a little more in love with him each time.

*I’m thankful to be born in the greatest country in the world where I am free to practice my faith in God the Father Almighty.

*I’m also thankful for cookie dough. Mention of this will open a whole other can of worms, though so I’ll just stop right there 😉

*Thank you, dear readers, for sharing in my life with me!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Home Sick Part 5,348

5 Nov

Thanks for all the encouragement on my last post. It means a lot 😉

Today was a fairly good day until the bottom dropped out a couple of hours ago. I don’t really want to talk about it. My head hurts, I’m frustrated, and exhausted so I’ll probably just go to bed or lay on the couch and half-heartedly cheer on Bama. Perhaps the source of my annoyance is J’s job. He’s in the field. I never enjoy when he leaves, but now I really don’t like it because I have no break from little man. Seriously, props to the single moms…I have no idea how you do this full time. I think the difference is that if you’re raising a child alone, you hopefully have a support system around you. I suppose I have that, too- with all of my TWO friends in the area. I’m so thankful for Jen and Melissa…seriously. I’d go nuts without someone to talk to.

I just really miss home when J leaves. I know he’s my home now, but when he is gone, no matter how short of a time, I long for Tennessee. My family is one of those Leave It To Beaver families. There’s no drama, everyone likes one another, and everyone lives within short driving distance to one another. Everyone except me. And tonight- that really sucks. Most days that really sucks. I miss them all so much.

I’ll quit complaining now. I AM thankful for Captain J’s job because it allows me to stay home with my sweet young un, but tonight I dream of the day he’s a civilian again because I can hear Rocky Top calling my name…

Pumpkin Patch

28 Oct

There are some days in life that aren’t spectacular, but in their own way they’re quite perfect- those days that nothing really happened, but you want to preserve it in your memory forever and always. Today was one of those days for me. It was just my husband, my little man, and me enjoying my favorite season. The weather was cool for the first time this year. We went to a pumpkin patch. We went for a drive. Nothing really happened except I might have fallen a little more in love with my sweet family. I love my boys!

  

No Place Like Home

9 Oct

Hello, blog. It’s me again.

It’s late and I can’t sleep. My brain won’t stop. There’s too much on my mind. Too much to do. But all I want is to have my mom, or sister, or step-mom beside me to cry on talk to. They are all about 13 hours away so you will have to do. Don’t worry…you’ll get a shorter, edited version.

This Army life is hard, ya know? I am just not cut out for it. I was a mess during deployment- a shell of myself half the time, wondering around Walmart with my bestie with my computer and skype attached to my hip just in case. Who does that? I complained in Alaska because I was so far away from my family. It took money to get back in their neck of the woods, something we don’t really have that much of. Now, here we are…in Louisiana. Still, we’re a plane ticket away from family and I’m complaining yet again. Maybe I just thought I wanted adventure. Maybe my adventure was in raising this child, not moving from place to place. In the past year, we’ve lived in Alaska, Georgia, and Louisiana. One year. Three homes. I’m tired.

If only I had a pair of these to click together:

Roadtrip!

5 Oct

May I start by thanking you? Thank you oh so much to all of you who read my last post and commented, texted, sent emails, or facebooked me with encouragement on the matter. It warms my heart to hear that you all care about what’s going on in our little world and it reminds me that I’m not alone. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!

I promised some happy things, didn’t I?

How ’bout I tell you about our quick weekend in Home Sweet Tennessee?

We hopped in the car on Wednesday and set out on Baby K’s first ever roadtrip. We had a 12 hour drive ahead of us and that’s not counting stopping to feed/burp/change little man along the way. I was pretty sure we dropped our marbles somewhere when we set out on this adventure, but Baby K was such a little gentleman. He is a good little traveler. His grumpy moments were few and far between on our drive. In fact, his daddy was much more irritated than he was.

Captain J was in a poopy mood. At one point, I asked him if he needed me to help drive. His response? Without even the slightest tilt of his head, he said, “That’d be a death sentence.” Still trying to lighten the mood, I told him I would sing to him to keep him awake if he’d like. For some reason, he declined that, too. What’s up with my boys not adoring my singing voice? Earlier today Baby K puked after I sang him a song. I digress.

Anyway, we eventually pulled into my parents’ house in my small, sleepy little East TN town at around six in the morning. Our arrival coincided with my step-dad leaving for work, my brother getting up for school, and my mom anxiously waiting to get her hands on her newest grandson. Within an hour, they looked like this:

I’m so glad they’ve had some precious moments to bond.

Yaya had to go pick up another cute grandson of hers to take him to preschool so Baby K and I hung out while Daddy slept. We posed…

and made funny faces…

and had a grand ole time! It felt so good to be home and finally be able to show off my little bundle of joy to friends and family who hadn’t met him yet. While we were in town, we went to my former high school’s football game. My sweet boy must be athletic–he caught his first football!

Just before the game, Baby K was overloaded with a host of new (and old) admirers. He met his extended family and my very best friends. Here is my little man with his great-grandmother, aka “Mimi”:

Perhaps he got spoiled with all that attention and that’s why he has been acting totally insane the last couple of days?!

Anyway, we had a ball. We visited “JuJu and Pap” at their boat. We hung out with “Lolly and Pop” at their yacht club party. We I ate at Carl’s a lot. And by the end of the weekend, we decided it just wasn’t enough. Captain J started to re-think his whole military career, but that is another post for another time…

We drove home with a blanket of sadness over us. It’s hard to drive 12 ish hours in the opposite direction of the ones you love when you know you won’t be returning for awhile.

The good news was that we only crossed the Mississippi once on the way back…

I can’t say that’s true for the way there. SOMEbody made a few wrong turns. I won’t mention any names, but it might be the one who claims to be “a master of land navigation”. Maybe.

Anyway, all went well so long as the paci was firmly in place-

and our little Louisiana town never looked so good as it did when we pulled in our driveway. “Home” at last.

Goodbye weekend, hello Monday

2 Oct

As I’m stuffing down way old macaroni and chugging copious amounts of water, I’m reflecting on the whirlwind that was the past few days. In a somewhat last minute decision, Captain J and I decided to drive to Tennessee for the weekend. Clearly, we weren’t thinking.

I’m kidding, but really it was insane.

13 hours one way with a 7 week old

We survived and we had fun to boot! The weather was crisp and cool, a much needed reprieve for us. Baby K got to visit and meet more of his family. We got to watch my brother play a little football. We got to watch Alabama kick Florida’s butt on the football field. We got to hang out on boats with the fam. And believe it or not, we got to relax a little bit. It was nice.

And it was really nice to drive back into our sleepy little town here. We’re exhausted so I’ll have to share pictures from this weekend a little later.

If I don’t talk to you before– Have a great Monday!

XOXO,

Mrs. K