Monday, March 30, 2020

My way of sending you a hug.

By day I am doing fine -- I love having my family gathered in one place. Even with my guy staying a room away from us (he saw patients all last week so doesn't want to be near us until he is clear from symptoms.) We have worked on projects, cleaned closets, played board games, and are thoroughly enjoying binge-watching some shows that we haven't had time for. By day I am doing fine.

We set up the dining room as Wade's little space.
He can be separate but with us! Jessie loves that there is now a chair there! ha

Night is a different story. I am sleeping in my daughter's room. We really have to do what we can to keep the kids healthy and by extension since I am Benjamin's primary caregiver, me healthy. At night my brain falls down a what-if path. Statistics start swirling in my brain. News stories rising up like a monster under the bed ready to engulf me. 

Last night, I lay down at 11:30pm. At 3:30am I was still wide awake. And my imagination was having a field day.

So this morning, as my coffee clears my sleep-deprived mind, and as I smile again because I love seeing all the little work stations set up around my house: Wade is upstairs providing Telehealth services for his patients; Mason has headphones on and computer in his lap working on grad school assignments; Claire is on Zoom teaching her class; Cate is getting her desk area set up for 8th grade distance learning, I try to ponder how to address my nighttime fears so that sleep will be more regular. And I wonder, how are YOU doing? How are your children? Are you staying healthy? Are you STAYING HOME? Oh please please please stay home.

How are your little ones handling all of this? Are they scared? Bored? Missing their friends?

I want to fix it. Y'all know I WANT to fix it. Perhaps I would sleep more if I accepted that fixing it is not in my power. Alas.

But I CAN give you and your kids a virtual hug and a FREE download of a sweet new Helix book about COVID_19. The illustrations are as fabulous as always and the story is delightful....if I do say so myself. "Helix is Home too" is about finding courage in this crazy new normal, about finding the fun when things feel weird and different and new. 

I am going to need a couple more cups of coffee soon, but know I am praying for you to stay healthy, stay home, and to know I am sending so many hugs! (Oh sweet goodness if y'all thought I was a crazy hugger before....just wait until this is over!) And dear ones, if there are things you need specific prayer cover for, please drop me a message. I am here.

Now go -- click the link and get your free smile for the day! I sure do love you!

Carol - The Blessings Counter

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Leave the top down, Derick.

Eighth grade was weird. Our junior high had burned down the first week of seventh grade. We had been in temporary classrooms for that entire year but moved to new temporary classrooms the following year so they could officially re-build. The new classrooms were in the traditionally stand-alone 9th grade school. Going to Carver High School was something the kids in my hometown looked forward to. And so the presence of pesky 8th graders crammed into their space, was not something the ninth graders were thrilled about. At all. We learned quickly to stay out of their way as much as possible, we owed them that much. And so it was that my little gang would gather during lunch on the steps, eating, laughing, talking about our day and at least for my part, avoiding the bathrooms because one of those 9th graders intimidated the heck out of me.

Seriously, we loved every minute of that year. (Ok, maybe not the whole avoid-going-to-the-bathroom stuff but everything else. Everything.) And the beauty...when 9th grade began and we had the whole campus to ourselves (Still so sorry Class of 1985!), our hang out spot was established. 

Yes, Derick signed the whole page....but under his writing are our steps. Perfect.

And so it would be on those steps that Derick and I hatched our plan for 10th grade. We would be driving by then and as we counted the minutes until we had the prized driver's license in our hands, we plotted how to avoid riding the school bus to Tupelo High School (for 10th-12th). I wouldn't have a car and my mom would only be able to do without it a couple days a week at most. Derick told me that was perfect, he could get his mom's car on the days I couldn't and we could car pool.

I thought it was a brilliant plan. I am however, fairly certain it was just a benevolent plan. Derick could have driven every day, I am almost positive. But he knew I would want to drive some, and yet, he did what he would spend years doing, he rescued me from having to ride the bus -- or worse, having to be dropped off at high school by a parent! (Horror of horrors.)

And so it would be that throughout high school Derick knew before anyone when I was having a bad day, a good day or just a day. He knew when I was sad or mad or in love. And on the day that he showed up in his dad's convertible with the top down, he would learn just how upset a 16 year old girl can be when she is having a bad hair day already.

Derick wore sunglasses for every picture op. Every one.

Perhaps it is most telling about our friendship that when I told him to just stop so I could walk home and let my mom take me to school, that he calmly pulled over and put the top up so my terrible very bad perm wouldn't be standing on end when we arrived in the high school parking lot.

Derick Pitts is woven into every single memory I have of my teenage years. Every single one. (I am carefully avoiding discussing the history class where Derick and I decided we could take turns napping, trusting the other with taking notes. I don't know about him, but I made the worst grade of my life that semester!)

He made the mix-tapes that are the soundtrack of those years. He would shout out to me in code every night during his radio gig and so I often went to sleep with his station in the background of my dreams.

And thankfully our friendship didn't end with high school graduation. Although Derick would not set foot where it snowed, I was fortunate to live in Arizona for a few years -- he visited there more than once. 

And of course, he was always willing to drop everything to meet me somewhere in Florida as we passed through. And it was Derick who drove from his beloved Florida with a generator for my mother when a tornado ripped through our hometown a few years ago. He never failed to drop by and give Mama Mason a hug when he was in town. 

We got to speak over FaceTime briefly last week. He told me I looked 19 still. He has been telling me that for decades. I know it is just one more example of Derick being the best friend a guy can be and encouraging my heart.

This morning Derick won the battle over stupid cancer. He is no doubt already on-air blasting 80s music for all of heaven to hear and sporting sunglasses while he does it. 

And while the world seems less colorful today, I refuse to turn down the music. I refuse to ignore the sunshine. I might even put the top down and let the wind whip my hair from top to bottom. 

I miss you already, Derick. 

Carol - The Blessings Counter

Sunday, March 22, 2020

God is not contained in four walls. I promise.

We worshipped via computer this morning -- and from my social media feeds, it seems many of my friends did the same. I love seeing all the photos that show in the midst of this crazy time, we are turning to the One who knows what tomorrow looks like. 

Remote church is not a new concept for me -- or for many special needs parents around the world. The triplets could not be in church nurseries as babies during RSV season. We worshiped at home.

Second visit to church -- the day I spent the entire sermon changing babies in the restroom.

As they became preschoolers, we often spent winter Sundays at home because fighting colds was so hard for them.

Heading to church post-flu season, Spring 2003

And as they grew older, we had years with big surgeries and long rehab seasons. Rehab seasons that required us to be home protecting their immune systems at all costs.

I grew up believing that going to church was imperative. I thought the gold star of attendance was important to my faith. But here is what I have learned through the years: God is faithful to draw close to those who seek Him....and sometimes, that needs to occur in solitude. And listen friends....that is ok.

Please hear me. I love fellowship. I love being hugged, and held, and worshipping with fellow brothers and sisters. But that is not always possible. And now today, in this strange season, it is imperative that it not happen so that we contain this vile virus. So I feel compelled to tell you what God has been faithful to remind me repeatedly for the last almost 23 years: He is not contained to four walls of a traditional church.

My prayer is that many of you realized this morning that when we seek Him, He is faithful to meet us wherever we are and his mercies are new every single morning. Open your Bible. Open your laptop. Open your heart. He is waiting and will draw near. I promise.

I am praying for you dear ones, during this crazy crazy season. Stay home. And stay healthy.

Carol - The Blessings Counter