My Daddy

Today would have been my Daddy’s 83rd birthday.  When he passed away 10 years ago, we wrote our own tributes to be read at the funeral.  So here are a handful of those memories.  They are all a little different, but they all communicate the wonderful, loving man I was blessed to call Daddy.  I try to keep my posts fairly short, so forgive me if this one is a little long.


Remembering my Dad….Carol Ann

Like most everyone, I think that my Dad was the greatest of all. And the greatest Granddad, too. He loved his kids and grandkids with all his heart – we never doubted that.

My earliest memories of my Dad are stretching out on his big chest for naps which he continued to let me do until I grew too big. And going swimming at Lake Texoma – he never let us go out in the water until he walked all around to make sure there were no deep holes, or glass on the bottom of the lake where we were. Every once in a while, he would take us with him to work and introduce us to everyone he called on – it made me feel very important! And Dad made certain that we were in church every Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night until we left his house. I remember him taking us for ice cream after church on Sundays – but only if we had sat perfectly quiet during services. We knew better than to misbehave in church or we would get it when we got home.

On long road trips, we would pester Dad until he would stop at every Stuckey’s along the way – now that I am grown I know how bothersome that must have been, but he let us stop anyway. Dad patiently taught me to drive a stick-shift in “Old Blue” in the pasture behind our house – he taught Dean, Jennifer and some grandkids in that truck also, and made idle threats to Jennifer years later that “Old Blue” would be the truck she would have to drive around! She was mortified at that thought! I remember wonderful camping trips to Red River, New Mexico when we got a little older – we had Jennifer to entertain us by that time, and were always allowed to bring a friend along on the trip, too.

My grown up memories of Dad are that he was always there for all of us. He has helped us fix whatever needed fixing. He has helped us move to new houses. He often drove me to Greenville to leave my car for repair and then take me back in the afternoon to pick it up – I enjoyed those drives with him so much. He was a wonderful Granddad to all the kids. Dad & Mom took them camping in Red River two at a time – alternating their turns to be fair! He attended most all of the baseball games, swim meets, football games, softball games, basketball games, recitals, graduations, graduation parties and anything else the grandkids asked him to do.

Dad whistled all the time – just like Grandmother Stroud – I don’t think he even realized he was whistling. I got a call from Dean several months ago asking me if I would like to join the “whistle while you work club” – when I asked what he meant, he explained that he had just spent the entire day with Dad replacing the water pump in the pumphouse and thought that I also should have the chance to listen to Dad whistle all day long!

My Dad was a faithful husband to my mother, a supportive father to me and my siblings, a loving granddad to all this grandchildren, a good friend to many, but most of all he was a man who lived out his strong faith in God. And for all of that – I am grateful.memo and grandad 2

A few of Laura’s memories….

I love his bearhugs. I’m sure many people here have had those strong pats on the back from Grandad that shook your whole body, but still made ya feel better.
I love his prayers. They were soft-spoken, and sometimes mumbled, but always full of faith. They always started, “Dear heavenly father, thank you for this day and for it’s many blessing” and ended “In Jesus’ name we pray.”
I love how his whole face lit up when he smiled or laughed.
“Dadgummit”. Enough said. It has lots of different meanings.
I loved his big Ben E. Keith shirts that Kara and I slept in the FOUR nights of the week that we stayed at Memo and Grandad’s house. He would record the 10 pm “I Love Lucy” every night and we would get up every morning and watch them, wrapped up in our oversized shirts.
Then we’d watch Price is Right and we would all get so excited if it was a PLINKO day, and THEN we would feed the cows and we’d take turns sitting in his lap and steering, or pushing off the hay bales when he whistled.
He was the most patient man I have ever known. He would let us watch the same movies over and over, and watch them with us! After watching Karate Kid…I don’t remember who did it first…but we started “honking” each others nose. All day, we’d sneak up and try to squeeze each other’s nose and say “HONK!” He’d be in the middle of a nap, and I’d go honk his nose. We did that for years.
He always wanted us to be happy. When rain interrupted a camping trip in Red River, Jennifer and I BEGGED him to take us and get a cabin. So we did. And instead of fishing or hiking, we played ‘Crazy 8s’ and watched hummingbirds—and enjoyed every minute of it. From then on, when Memo and Grandad took the boys to Red River, they camped, but with the girls, they got a cabin.
He was a supporter. He and Memo drove all the way to Waco to a State Swim meet to watch me swim for 29 seconds and then drove the 4 hours back.
He was the strongest man I knew. He could open ANY jar if no one else could. But he was so tender. When we transformed his work shed into a drive through restaurant, he was right there in line, ordering an imaginary hamburger.
He was the best male example I could have ever asked for. He kept God and family at the center of his life, and ours. He taught us all, by example, how to be hard-working, humble, faithful, honest, and kind. And I am so thankful for that.


Remembering my Grendad……….Taylor Kirkpatrick

When I was very little maybe about 3 years old I went to a daycare. Everyday I would call him and he would come get me every time. There was this one day he didn’t come get me and I got so mad at him and stayed mad for a day.

When I got a little older about 7 or 8 everyday me and Rachel would get in the back of “Old Blue” and help Grendad feed the cows. We would always have so much fun and sometimes he would even let us drive the tractor.

I remember when me and Rachel would smash foil with Grendad’s sledgehammer and make hamburgers and he would pretend to eat them. He was so funny!!!!!!!

I also remember that he would always play all sorts of games with me and Rachel and he almost always won.

I also remember he would say “dad gum it!” and he would also say to me “guess what” and I would say “what” and he would always say “I love you”.

I’m very thankful that I have so many good memories to look back on and not so many bad. I love you so much Grendad.

Taylor & Granddad - YES, that IS Old Blue in the background!
Taylor & Granddad – YES, that IS Old Blue in the background!

To Daddy,

You were the best dad that I could have ever asked for. You always loved me even when I was not very lovable. I remember the way you always supported all your kids and grandkids in all that they did. I also remember the way your belt found my back side way too often. The too often was my fault (and a lot of times it was Carol Ann’s fault as you figured that I was probably due also since she goofed up). I remember the summers when we would go to the lake and Six Flags. You took us every year and Six Flags is fun when you are a kid, but I found out later how much walking there was at that place. That kind of takes the fun out of it but you never complained. I knew you were sick the last few months but you never said anything. I was thinking today, about 3 months ago I hit my sternum bone and cracked it. I never went to the doctor. Today I realized that I got my hard head from you!

I am so blessed because I came to tell you that we were doing our best to get you out of the Bonham hospital and to a hospital that could help you, I told you that I love you and you responded with an “I love you too” that for some reason felt like the last one I would get from you. Five minutes later I watched you die as they put you into the ambulance. I believe you went to God’s presence at that moment. Your body was kept going after that but I don’t feel like my Daddy was in that body that laid in the hospital all night long with the help of machines.

I take great pride and comfort in knowing that when God received you, He did not say Welcome – HE SAID “WELCOME MY GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT”! Your crown must be very heavy for you did serve God very well while on this earth. I think my crown at this moment is an economy series crown. I hope before I leave this place that I can do half as much for God’s kingdom as you did.

Thanks for being:
The best husband my mama could ask for
The best Daddy we could ever ask for
The best Granddad ever
The best friend ever
And most of all, the best Christian role model for us kids and grandkids ever. Without that I might not have been in the church that day Jesus came into my heart and life. THANK YOU!
Don’t worry about Mama, we will take good care of her just like you did for 49 years. I know that you danced the Streets of Gold when you got to Heaven because you no longer had those football injured legs. You will be missed by us all. Today I don’t know how to get through it, so I ask God for us all – especially Mama – a little extra Grace and comfort.

I love you so much Daddy and I will see you in Heaven.

Deanwedding day


Memories from Jennifer

Many wonderful childhood memories came from our summer camp-outs to Red River, New Mexico. One year, after searching endlessly for a place to camp we came literally to the end of the road – Goat Hill – the very last camp site before the next town. It was actually much closer to the next town than to Red River. So we decided to camp there (as if we had a choice of camping spots). Goat Hill had one water faucet, 2 really nasty toilets and 3 campsites. It turned out to be the best fun we’d ever had and in the coming years, we always went to Goat Hill first, and were sorely disappointed if it was full. Daddy always had nervous energy and found it hard to sit still. During our camping trips, he channeled that energy into keeping the campsite neat and tidy – which usually meant putting things away where Mama couldn’t find them. To say the least, she was a little irritated when she realized the things she needed to make dinner were packed away in the back of the truck!

One year, Daddy and I drove out to visit my Uncle Richard and Aunt Letha in Georgia. It was a long drive, and the most interesting thing we could find was road signs. We starting seeing these green signs with white lettering advertising “Lookout Mountain”. I wish we would have counted them. We had to have seen at least a hundred. It became a game to see who could spot the next one first. And then we came to the point where we wanted to scream at the sight of another. That year for Christmas after all the packages were opened, Daddy said “Oh, I forgot, I have one more gift for you”. Imagine my excitement – another present! Then he came out of his bedroom holding a home made green sign with lettering that said, “Lookout Mountain, 5 miles”.

Dad was so many things to me – the most of all, love. God’s love is much easier for me to understand because of my dad – I always knew that I could never escape Dad’s love, as it is with God. I think that is the greatest testament to my father’s faith – he was able to love us as God loves us. I wish that every child could have a father like mine: one that will teach you how to play softball and then spend hours pitching to you, one that will teach you how to change a tire, one that will teach you to drive a stick shift (in “Old Blue”, no less), one that will work hours and hours to build you a play-house, one that will run behind you to steady your bicycle for hours upon hours while you learn to ride, one that will show you that hard work makes you stronger (in more ways than one), one that models what it means to be a disciple of God.

Me & Dad in the famed, Red River, NM
Me & Dad in the famed, Red River, NM


I love my Granddad because:

He always played a lot of games with me, he let me help when he fixed things like the new TV in the living room, and he could fix anything because he had a lot of super glue.

Logan Kirkpatrick

Logan with Granddad (sense a theme?)
Logan with Granddad (sense a theme?)


You never realize how much you really love someone until they are gone. My granddad was always there for me when my dad could not take me to my baseball games. He loved watching me play, and I loved it more when he was watching me play. When I was little my favorite place to go was to my grandparents. They took good care of me and gave me a lot of attention. One time though I was outside hitting a tree with a baseball bat and granddad came outside running and yelling. I did not go back for a few days. I thought it would be best to let him cool off. My granddad will always be in my heart. I miss him so much, but he is in a better place right now looking down on us. Granddad, I love you and you will be in my heart always.


"Old Blue"
“Old Blue”


Memories from Garrett –

I will always remember how Granddad could fix anything. Growing up, there were 4 to 5 grandchildren at the house at any given time so there were plenty of opportunities for things to be broke. Anytime it happened one of us always had the solution. We would quickly say “Take it to Granddad” or, “Wait till Granddad gets home, he will fix it” And he always did, and he whistled all the while he was working on it.

There are other things I will remember about him also.

He never missed our sporting events whether they were in town or 100 miles out of town.

Every day at 3:00 in the winter he would take us to feed the cows. Justin, Laura and I would pile in the back of Ol’ Blue, and he would honk the horn a couple of times when he was ready for us to push out a bale.

He had all the patience in the world with us as kids. He hardly ever raised his voice or got on to us. And we played a lot of ball in the house. He never seemed to mind though. He may have even liked it because it usually gave him something else to fix.

Every time I would walk in the house I would say “Hey Granddad” and he would always reply “Hey Grandson”.


He and Memo never got to watch what they wanted to on TV. And they still don’t! Because there has been at least one grandkid at their house every day for the last 25 years. Justin and I watched Rocky everyday for a month straight one summer, sometimes twice a day. And everyday he would sit down and watch it with us like he had never seen it before.

Justin, Granddad, Garrett
Justin, Granddad, Garrett

Granddad, you mean so much to me. The memories I have about you will stay with me forever. You were the most generous and kindest man I’ve ever known. You always put others before yourself and you always had time for us grandkids. You always came to our ballgames and took us wherever we needed to go and were happy to do it. My fondest memory of you is when you were swinging in the porch swing. Every time I would drive by and see you on the swing I would honk and you would wave, that special wave that I will remember always. More recently when I would come for a visit I would turn into the driveway and see you out on the porch. I have always looked forward to that because that’s when I knew I was home.

Well, Granddad you’ve moved on to that big porch swing in the sky. To be with your family and friends and the lord you loved so deeply. Now you can swing for eternity and watch over us. I will truly miss you and whenever I’m swinging in the porch swing, I’ll be smiling and thinking of you always.

Your Grandson Justin


From Ann

Some might not use the word romantic when talking about Harold, but I can. On our first anniversary he gave me cake pans and pie pans and said he really liked something sweet after every meal. A few years later he told me I could cook as good as his mother.

In recent times when he went to Wal-Mart, he sometimes would bring me a French vanilla cappuccino! Now that’s romantic.

I could fill pages about this good and fine man and all the good things he did, but I will just say what a wonderful, wonderful husband he was to me for 49 years, 7 months and 10 days and I will miss him directory


I wish I could have found his football pic in time, but alas, the clock was working against me.  But I want to share one story that one of my co-workers shared with me last year.  Her father and my dad played football together in high school.  My dad was a BIG guy.  6’2″ and all muscle.  He was intimidating without even trying to be just because of his size.  In high school (and college at the University of Kansas), he played center.  Apparently, a lot of tension built up before a game with rival Denison, which was a result from pranks being played back and forth by each team.  The final straw was when the Denison boys threw paint on Bonham cheerleaders.  Denison came to Bonham to play and our boys tore them up.  My dad, according to his teammate, ended up knocking someone out from his hit (geez I hope this is the correct football lingo).  After the play, my dad walked up to him, picked him up with one hand by his shoulder pads and when he saw the guy was limp, just dropped him back to the Earth.  I don’t think the Denison boys played any pranks after that.  The article in the paper noted that one Denison fan leaving the stadium was overheard saying he never wanted to hear the name “Stroud” again.

Happy Birthday Daddy!

Frozen, Texas style

You can stop worrying….I am surviving the ice/sleet storm, if just barely.  But, this really happened:Texas closed

Maybe not exactly, but pretty much.  Working for a school district, I have been lucky to have both Monday AND Tuesday off!!  Now, I really  wanted to *save* those days for Easter and Memorial Day, but I haven’t wasted one minute of my time off!!  My regular schedule is so packed, generally, that I don’t have a lot of spare time to get things done around the house.  Yesterday, I worked the entire day and got all but 2 things crossed off my list!  I would have tackled those as well, but we got the call fairly early about school being cancelled today, so I decided to relax the remainder of the evening.

Sleet, NOT snow.
Sleet, NOT snow.

Yes, it is white.  No it is not snow.  So please stop saying we had a snow day.  Cold pool

Our poor pool looks SO COLD!!!

The weekend was fun, fast and furious!  Alli celebrated her birthday Saturday by playing in a volleyball tournament.  We were up early and left the house at 6:15.  Our little Frogs played their game and ended up 1st in our pool again!  The funny thing is, we dropped one set, and one of the girls couldn’t believe we got first because “it didn’t feel like we won”.  I love the way these girls just expect that they will win.  They work together so well and in each game, a different player shines.  It has already been a fun season and the best is yet to come!  After play was finished for the day, Alli passed out cupcakes and the girls sang “Happy Birthday” to her.  birthday cupcakes

I knew our little Frogs would have a hard road in the Gold bracket on Sunday.  We easily beat the first team we played.  In the next round, we faced the Texas Pistols – a team that I hadn’t seen but kept hearing about.  They really weren’t better than us.  I was disappointed, actually, in their lack of discipline.  The setter rarely took the second ball….just whomever was close to it would bump it or set it.  They killed us with their serves, though.  We had difficulty passing in the first set and lost 25-18.  We came out ready to play in the second set and had those Pistols on their heels the entire game, but they were able to get the advantage late in the game and won 25-23.  We ended up 5th overall, which isn’t bad for a bunch of 10 year olds playing 12s.

We also wore our “Battle for Bear” shirts in honor Mikayla “Bear” Bass, who was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis, which is a disease that causes muscle weakness.  She played for Madfrog and went on to play collegiate volleyball at St. Mary’s University before being diagnosed with this terrible disease.  The family is raising funds for a trip to Russia where Bear would receive a stem cell transplant that isn’t approved by the FDA.  To make the situation even more sad, Bear’s dad has recently been fighting prostate cancer.  You can read more about Bear here.  Battle for Bear

The shirts sales are part of the fundraising effort, but anyone can donate via website link above!

A tribute to my 10 year old

Allison (Alli) Brooke Kirkpatrick is the youngest member of our family and she turns 10 tomorrow!  I can assure you that she has quite enjoyed her spot in the birth order. Alli&Coco 2
If you know me at all, you have likely heard me say that Alli saved our family.  It is so true.  She saved me, my husband and our other 2 kids.  She saved my mom.  And I’ve been saving this story in honor of her 10th birthday – her breakthrough into the world of the 2-digit age!

When she was a toddler, Alli ALWAYS had on plastic princess shoes and something on her head.
When she was a toddler, Alli ALWAYS had on plastic princess shoes and something on her head.
This time around 11 years ago, my best friend, Allison, was preparing to have heart surgery.  At the time, it was mostly experimental and there were only a handful of doctors in the world that were trained to perform it.  Forgive my ADHD brain that can’t remember specifics. After a bout with strep a year before (that she suspected had turned into undiagnosed Rheumatic fever), she ended up in the hospital.  Then she began to suffer from a rapid heartbeat.  So she started seeking medical treatment and after months of experimentation with medications, realized that her only option was to have this heart surgery.  The surgery was supposed to be effective and low risk, but Allison’s was complicated because an incision had to be made in her heart wall to access the other side.  This, along with the replacement of a heart valve at the same time, caused complications from which she died in early May.  Because of her death, changes were made to the protocols of this type of surgery that have no doubt made the surgery safer.  And now, the surgery is commonplace and fairly low risk, as far as heart surgeries go.

Yes, that's a volleyball net in the backgroud ;)
Yes, that’s a volleyball net in the backgroud 😉
She was my best friend and soul mate.  We did everything together.  Taylor and her daughter,Kaitlynn, were best friends and did everything together.  Logan and her son, Jackson, were big buddies, despite their 2 year age difference.  And Bobby and her husband, Curtis, were attached at the hip.  Her death was devastating.  Not only to me, but to everyone in my family.  I didn’t handle her death well at all.  After being urged by my friends and family to see my doctor, I ended up on Paxil.  Why?? I never understood how a drug could make the loss of your friend any more bearable.  Perhaps it helped with the anxiety.  I don’t think I could tell.  But I was beginning to develop a bad habit and that bad habit was having a couple of drinks every evening.

Alli's one season of soccer.  She would CRY unless she played goalie.  After the game, she would announce that she "saved all but 5"
Alli’s one season of soccer. She would CRY unless she played goalie. After the game, she would announce that she “saved all but 5”
Not long after Allison died and I was put on Paxil, I visited my OB/GYN for my yearly appointment.  He asked me if I was planning to have any more children, and I told him NO (!!!!!), so we decided staying on birth control pills was the best course of action.  He gave me a prescription and I went on my way.

Pre-glasses Alli.  She has worn glasses since age 3.
Pre-glasses Alli. She has worn glasses since age 3.
Now, I may not recall much from this period of time, but I remember making the decision to put that prescription in the console of my car, so that it would be handy and easy to find when needed.  The day came to use my refill, so I went to my console to get the prescription…….but it wasn’t there.  At this point, I wasn’t worried, because surely it had just gotten pushed to the bottom.  So I grabbed the contents of my console out in chunks and found nothing.  I put it all back, then took it out piece by piece.  Nothing.  Put it all back.  Looked between the seats, under the seats, and in every nook and cranny of my vehicle.  Nothing.  Still, no big deal.  I must have put it in my purse.  Looked through my purse.  Nothing.  Didn’t panic…..yet.  I must have laid it on the counter in the house.  Looked on the counter, then tore apart the house yet still NOTHING.  Ok, by this time normal Jen might have begun to get a little nervous, but, hey, I was on Paxil and my anxiousness was apparently taken care of!

Alli & Valley.  Alli LOVED Valley, one of Taylor's teammates from club.
Alli & Valley. Alli LOVED Valley, one of Taylor’s teammates from club.
This dance went on for a couple of weeks.  I kept looking without ever finding anything.  Until one day…I opened my console and THERE IT WAS!!!  The damn thing was just laying on top. (Remember that I tore that console apart NUMEROUS times.)  However, now I was halfway through my cycle and that meant I would have to wait another two weeks to start the new pack of pills.  The two weeks came and went….and I was late starting.  And another week came and went.  But I couldn’t entertain that I might be pregnant.  I just kept thinking about how stressful it had been and surely that was the cause…..until ANOTHER week went by and I slowly started to entertain the inevitable.

At Taylor's graduation tea party with her godmother, Mary
At Taylor’s graduation tea party with her godmother, Mary
When I finally got around to taking an at-home test, the results were positive in SECONDS.  As in, just long enough for things to cross through that window.  So, I just left it on the counter and decided to come back later because maybe it was wrong and it would change.  Only it didn’t change.  And that’s when the panic set in and the Paxil stopped helping.  Now, I am a Christian and I believe that God does wondrous things, but I’ve never been one to go around claiming Acts of God.  But this little incident had God’s fingerprints all over it!

Alli with her Memo.  They make quite the pair!
Alli with her Memo. They make quite the pair!
Immediately, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it would be a girl.  I also wanted to name her Allison, but Bobby announced that we would name her after Allison before I even had a chance to express my thoughts.  I couldn’t know, at the time, what a blessing she would be or how she would save us.

Taco Tuesday!  We all miss that taco restaurant!
Taco Tuesday! We all miss that taco restaurant!
I weaned myself off the Paxil.  Of course, I immediately stopped drinking alcohol.  And that’s how Alli saved me before she even arrived.  Since then, she has helped keep me young (and she DEFINITELY keeps me on my toes).  We stay busy, busy, busy with all her activities.  She NEVER gets in a hurry, EVER!!  But she has taught me not to sweat the small stuff (OK, I still sweat the small stuff….like when it’s time to go and she WILL NOT HURRY!).  But she is a great athlete, smart, kind and compassionate, hard worker (when she wants to be), and is a duct-tape artist!

Alli WORSHIPS Taylor.  And Taylor is such a good big sister.  Alli went through a difficult adjustment when Taylor moved away to college.
Alli WORSHIPS Taylor. And Taylor is such a good big sister. Alli went through a difficult adjustment when Taylor moved away to college.
She has also been such a blessing for my mom.  Alli was born 4 months before my dad passed away.  Alli helped keep my mom active and gave her a reason not to give up.  They are still big buddies and Alli spends as much time at Memo’s house (probably more, actually) than at ours.  But I’m OK with that, because it’s good for both of them.  Alli is a caretaker.  She likes being able to help Memo with whatever needs to be done. They enjoy going out to eat….I don’t even know what all they do when they are together!

Alli with one of her Georgia cousins last summer.  Note to self: increase life insurance policy when Alli starts driving!
Alli with one of her Georgia cousins last summer. Note to self: increase life insurance policy when Alli starts driving!
Happy Birthday, Alli!!

What the heck (and Ash) Wednesday

FINALLY, a run deserving of documentation in my blog!  Ahhhh, yesterday’s run was great!  AND I may have reclaimed some of my #badass status as a runner.  Disclaimer: I am going to detail the weather conditions and, believe me, I KNOW they are NOTHING compared to what my friends up North are dealing with.  However, this is Texas and it is all relative, right?

The forecast for run-time had been mid-50s, partly cloudy 0% chance of rain and very low wind.  Perfect.  I checked the weather at 3:00 and all was still good, although a slight chance of rain had crept in at 10%.  No worries, right?  By the time I dropped Alli off at practice at 5 and headed to the park, the rain chances had increased to over 50%.  The sun was gone and so were temps in the mid-50s.  When I arrived at the park, I knew I might be in for a little shower.  Rain is coming

Of course, I wasn’t going to let the threat of a little rain stop me.  I was, however a little concerned about having only brought compression shorts and ss shirt to run in.  At the last minute, I remembered I had worn my Dallas Marathon shirt to work, grabbed it out of my bag and threw it on.  I didn’t even make it through my warm-up before realizing that I would be running in a downpour.  The rain came pouring down and the wind picked up, so much that it felt like little ice pellets hitting my legs and face.  And for once, I found myself wishing I had brought a pair of gloves with me!  Luckily the rain and wind moved through quickly and the rest of the run was quite enjoyable.

There are several beautiful ponds throughout the park, worthy of stopping the run in order to snap a pic.
There are several beautiful ponds throughout the park, worthy of stopping the run in order to snap a pic.

I wasn’t going to disclose this next bit of info, but what the heck.  I did not run by heart rate on this time.  I have been struggling to keep my heart rate under the threshold AND keep proper form.  I have felt like I was doing nothing more than shuffling, and I haven’t been pleased with the effects of this on my body.  At this point, I feel it is important to lay the foundation with good form so that I don’t have to deal with some of these same issues later on and the heart rate training will be most beneficial when I get to the long runs again.  On Saturday’s run, I focused more on form and my heart rate was well over the threshold, even though the pace I ran was much slower than I had been running (which is saying something, because my run intervals have been SLOW).  Yesterday, I just focused on picking up my feet and swinging my arms.  I probably ran a bit faster that I would have normally, just because it was so darn cold!!  I felt great throughout, though, and I can tell that I am moving in the right direction.  It was very reassuring to someone who constantly questions EVERY aspect of her rehab/recovery.

So this is me at the end.  Drenched and loving it!Wet run

And my lobster legs.  Lobster legs

Now might be a good time to admit that I had my Nike running jacket in the car.  The Nike running jacket that is wind proof and water resistant AND has built-in mittens.  It never occurred to me to grab that jacket.  #fail


You’re probably wondering why the title “What the heck (and Ash) Wednesday”.  Well….I posted “Flabbergasted Friday” not long ago and I keep encountering people that cause me to scratch my head.  Now, it’s difficult to alliterate with Friday, because there are a limited number of “F” words that are appropriate for publishing to the public that express my emotions correctly.  I figured why not Wednesday?

Academy basket
You can see the “owner” of the cart (on the right), sitting a mile away from the cart trying on shoes.

I feel there should be some sort of test to be passed in order to use a shopping cart.  I mean, we require automobile drivers to have licenses.  WHY would someone park their basket this way??

Seriously, rude.  Just rude.  And it also happens every time I visit Wal-Mart!

Along those same lines are the people who walk right smack in the middle of the lanes in a parking lot.  OK I realize pedestrians have the right of way, but can you not scoot to the side to allow cars to pass?

Honestly, I don’t know how some people pass their driving test, but yesterday as I was dropping Alli at school, a man BACKED UP in the MIDDLE OF THE STREET quite a ways, at least 4 or 5 car lengths.  WHY????  What possesses someone to do that?

Finally (oh, I have many more, but I’m stopping at four), people who drive the speed limit (or less) in the HOV.  Maybe it’s just a Texas thang that I feel I need to go a bit faster than the speed limit, but aren’t you in the HOV so you can go a little faster?  *sigh*


It’s Ash Wednesday!  The day we are reminded that we are nothing more than dust.  I probably should have posted my people rant on Fat Tuesday, since my Lenten practice is going to be to have more empathy and patience with people in general.  I will attempt to “give up” the negative thoughts I sometimes have toward others and replace them with thoughts of compassion.

And I leave you with a quote from scripture.  The reason I choose to “give up” a bad habit as opposed to food or something else.

God said, “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice . . .? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house?”  ~ Isaiah 58:6-7

And while I’m at it, I will share my favorite Bible verse, too 🙂

And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. ~ Micah 6:8

Happy Hump Day!


Life is fair and balanced (for now)

Last month, I wrote about choosing balance as my one word of focus for the year.  I had been yearning for a change in my life and knew that I needed to bring balance to all areas of my life, so it seemed the perfect fit.  I figured that since we are almost 2 full months into the year, it was time to give a “Dr. Phil” update on “how it’s working for me”.

Truth be told, it is working fairly well…..better than I EVER expected.  Of course, there are still obligations that are out of my control, such as games and practices (and work! LOL), but I have been pleased with the choices I have made in the areas that are a little more flexible.

For one thing, I haven’t worked as many tournaments.  (I still harbor a bit of guilt over blocking off so many weekends.)  I didn’t work this past weekend and it was WONDERFUL!  I enjoyed the entire weekend with not much at all to do (OK, I had LOTS of housework to do, but I only got around to a little bit of it.)  And as I enjoyed the Spring-like weather, I was reminded that this is what balance feels like and I felt pure contentment in just being present in the moment.  (Well…..some of that could have had something to do with the fact that I had the house all to myself Saturday afternoon!)

My approach to fitness has been more balanced.  Snicker if you must, but I DO realize that, in part, this is due to my current stage in rehab and recovery.  Having said that, I AM developing a more rounded approach to my running.  Notice I even said “fitness” rather than “running”….because running is a means to being fit.  And fit can be achieved through many ways.  I am still strength training regularly and I ride my bike at least once per week.  Nature is helping me out as well.  Since the sun is setting later, I have time to get a run in on Tuesdays while Alli is at practice.  That frees up Monday evening AND I don’t feel like that practice time (for me) has been wasted.  And it’s only a matter of days until I will be able to get a run in on the Thursday practices as well! #doublebonus

I started doing yoga!!!  So my hamstrings, ankles and calves scream inflexibility, but I can bend the front side of my body like a pretzel!  Seriously, though, yoga is proving a nice tool to help me work out the kinks that I just can’t seem to get with the foam roller and therapy ball, and it is soooooo relaxing!

I still have piles of clothes that need folding (hey…at least they are clean!) and my floors aren’t clean enough for us to eat off of.  Even though I’ve never lost sleep over housework to be done, I do sleep better when it is complete!  But at the end of the day (or my life), I would rather be remembered for the way I treated people than whether or not my house was spotless every time someone came to the door.  I suspect that regardless of the amount of free time I have, housework is still going to be an area in which I’m a slacker! LOL


It occurred to me the other day that, even though I mention cupcakes in my blog name, I haven’t been blogging about cupcakes very often.  Today that is going to change!

Last week,  I was asked to make cupcakes for the high school staff.  I ended up settling on vanilla and snickerdoodle, although (and this is the truth), right before bed last night I realized that I used buttercream frosting instead of cream cheese for the snickerdoodle!  Oh, the HORROR!!!

My delicious vanilla batter, which I have tweaked and perfected to make my palette happy :)
My delicious vanilla batter, which I have tweaked and perfected to make my palette happy 🙂

The great thing about snickerdoodle is that you just add some cinnamon to vanilla batter.  Makes it sooooo easy to bake 2 flavors of cupcakes!  By the way, Alli noticed immediately when she came home that I had baked without her, because the mixing bowl was missing (in the dishwasher)!  Can’t get anything by that kid!

And, the finished product!

Still a little upset with myself for not making cream cheese snickerdoodle frosting!
Still a little upset with myself for not making cream cheese snickerdoodle frosting!

Happy Tuesday everyone!


ADHD Evidence and Growing into Parenthood

I wrote last week about my un-diagnosed ADHD and just a few of the ways that my brain is impacted by my inability to filter outside stimulus.  I have a few recent entries from my anecdotal log to prove my point.

Friday morning, I spilled my entire cup of coffee on my desk.  Sad, but true.  Yes, I probably would have licked it off my desk had my co-worker not been standing there, staring at me.  The good news is that my desk calendar was doused with my Kahlua flavored blend, so I can look forward to months of residual coffee smell in my office.

Then, I was able to top even the monster spill on my desk!  Each morning I make an announcement….to the entire school, over the PA system (which works through the phone system)…for teachers to post their attendance.  Friday morning, I was talking and distracted (as usual), picked up the phone to make the announcement and said, “Finley-Oates, this is Jennifer, may I help you?”  To the ENTIRE SCHOOL!!!  Immediately I heard the laughter of my office co-workers.  I’m still getting comments about it!  So if there was ever any doubt regarding my ADHD, I think I have removed it all this morning!

But just in case there was ANY doubt left, I’ll show you what happens when I talk and tweet.  REAL friends would stop me from embarrassing myself this way. I present you with Exhibit A:

This was supposed to say TOTALLY, not today.   But, YES, Corky and I are going skydiving! #excited
This was supposed to say TOTALLY, not today.
But, YES, Corky and I are going skydiving! #excited

This weekend was AMAZING!!!  I had ZERO obligations, except for Alli’s basketball game in town on Saturday.  I rarely get an entire day that is unscheduled, much less an entire weekend, and I enjoyed EVERY MINUTE!

Alli rolled her ankle during the basketball game on Saturday.  It was bound to happen sooner or later, but I expected it to come on the volleyball court.  Thankfully, Taylor’s many-a-rolled ankle prepared me for just this moment.  I know the number 1 rule of rolled ankles is NOT to remove the shoe, but Alli complained of pain along the outside of her foot.  That concerned me, since Taylor broke her outer metatarsal last year when she ran off a sidewalk (literally).  Alli’s foot showed no immediate bruising or swelling (thankfully one of our football coaches was there and he also felt it was just a rolled ankle), so the shoe went back on and I sent Alli to walk it off.  She sat out one quarter, then went back in.  I was SO PROUD of her!  I have often wondered if she would develop the toughness and competitiveness that Taylor has, and after Saturday, I do believe she will get there!  Now, I am not a proponent of playing while injured, but there is a difference between hurt and injured.  Alli hasn’t stopped since, except to ice it every now and then.

One day post incident and you can see just a touch of bruising under her ankle, but swelling is minimal, if at all.
One day post incident and you can see just a touch of bruising under her ankle, but swelling is minimal, if at all.

This got me to thinking about the first time Taylor rolled her ankle.  We took off the ankle brace (stupid) and went to ER for x-ray (stupid-er).  ER confirmed it was not broken, gave us a boot and told her to wear for 2-3 weeks.  Taylor wore that boot all of 1/2 day then decided it was for the birds.  She taped it up and walked on it as normally as she could.  At the time, Taylor was a Junior in high school and played 2 sets in her volleyball game just two days after the injury.  When she got to the point that she was hopping on one leg, I intervened and asked the coach to bench her for the remainder of the match.  Taylor rolled that ankle AGAIN about a week later, when she went out to play soccer and failed to tape it OR wear an ankle brace. (I was ANGRY, because we were DAYS away from our first playoff game and I felt she should have considered her teammates before going out and doing that.)  I did take her after the season to our orthopedic doc to make sure there was no ligament damage.  His diagnosis:  Taylor was tough and stubborn and her ankle would be just fine.

Day 3 after Taylor's rolled ankle (the first time).  She played on this the night before.
Day 3 after Taylor’s rolled ankle (the first time). She played on this the night before.

In comparing the different way that I reacted to both of these injuries, I remembered something that I once told Taylor.  She had been complaining that Logan wasn’t held to the same standards as she was and she felt I was being too lax.  My response to Taylor: You were the first one, so you were the guinea pig.  I figured out a lot of things that I did wrong and so I have tweaked my parenting as I go along.  My main goal is that you don’t end up in counseling because of my parenting.

OK, the last part was a joke.  Kind of.  But, it is true that you evolve and grow as a parent.  You learn (hopefully) not to sweat the little things and to pick your battles carefully.  For example, Alli used to go to Wal-Mart in her swim suit and a fleece hat during the summer.  I would have NEVER allowed Taylor to do that, but, hey, by the 3rd child, you’re just happy they made it out of the house  with shoes on!  (And you realize some things aren’t THAT important.)

I ran this weekend.  The weather was GORGEOUS – high 70s and sunny!  I increased my run intervals (per the plan) to 4 min run/1 min walk x8.  I actually felt better before and after than I have to date!  I had issues with tight glutes after Wednesday’s run, which is why I opted not to do my Friday scheduled run.  I am still lacking confidence in my body (as well as my decision-making), but I know that this is a process and it will take time to gain it all back.  Thankfully, I have a great support system AND, while odd, I have yet to run low on patience.  Maybe old dogs CAN learn new tricks!

I'll be channeling Saturday's run this afternoon when I face 40 and cloudy with winds 15-25.  It was nice while it lasted.
I’ll be channeling Saturday’s run this afternoon when I face 40 and cloudy with winds 15-25. It was nice while it lasted.

To most of the country: Enjoy your day off.  I’ll be at work and am going to make the best of it (with the help of Kahlua flavored coffee)!


The reason my head spins

I’ll preface this with a disclaimer: I have not been diagnosed with ADHD.  Having said that, I am 99% sure I have some form of the disorder.

Generally speaking, I handle the days fairly well and things manage to work smoothly.  However, there are those times when I can’t keep anything straight.  Welcome to a day in the life of Jen…

Multiple-step oral directions:  Just this week, my friend, Carmen Reed, came by my office and asked me to have some kids sent to her room.  She rattled off the names of 3 kids, then she told me where to have the teacher send them.  Couldn’t.  Remember.  Anything.  Thank goodness she stood there and repeated it while I was on the phone, calling the other teacher’s room.  Multi-step directions don’t work often, and never if my mind has been focused on ANYTHING else.  (This is the point where I’m going to place blame on the kid that was in the office, constantly talking and crying.)  And the way I cope with this?   Write it down, then read it back to the person before moving on to anything else.  If I don’t write it down, changes are 99% that I will forget part (or all) of it.

Allergy shots:  Things were all well and good when the lab was able to get all my allergens into one vial.  It was just a matter of keeping up arm got the last shot, as I had to alternate (which was easy, since there was a log).  Then my doctor changed labs and now I have TWO vials of allergy serum.  What this means is that I get a shot from each vial, one in each arm.  But I have to keep up with it and make sure that I alternate the arms so that I don’t get a shot in the same arm from the same vial each time.  The log sheet *should* make it fairly fool-proof.  But it isn’t.  I cannot be distracted AT ALL when I do this.  Recently, I drew both needles from the same vial; thank goodness my gut told me something was wrong and to scrap that attempt.  Keep in mind that’s just one close call that I’ve had…  Thankfully, I have an Epi Pen.  And now, I have a routine from which I never deviate to ensure I get the shots drawn up correctly.

Typos:  One of my life goals is to post on social media sans typos.  I know…..that is a LOFTY goal.  I am pretty sure that if typo data was collected on my status updates, tweets and IG posts, I would be posting error-free *maybe* 20% of the time.  (OK, that percentage is a generous estimate)  Yes, it occurs to me to proof AFTER I post and notice the typo.  Facebook understands my disorder and allows me to edit my posts.  Twitter and IG need to hop on the band wagon.

Noise:  I cannot carry on a conversation with someone if another conversation is going on within earshot.  I cannot filter out some noise to concentrate on other noise.  I can, however, filter out all noise in order to concentrate on one thing.  And I have to be honest, sometimes (well….A LOT of times), my brain just shuts off when people are talking on and on about things that don’t matter (to my brain, anyway).  Then they ask a question and I have no idea what they said.  That’s when I nod my head in agreement.  (Don’t try this at home….the practice is prone to land one in an awkward situation.)

Carrying *things*:  I rely heavily on routine.  Every morning I have the same number of *things* I bring with me in my bag.  If I bring something extra, chances are I will forget to bring one of the regular somethings.  Once I have prepared that number of things to bring with me, my brain shuts down.  Same thing with running.  I have the normal items that I bring with me for a run and when I add an item, something else always gets left behind!

Lists:  OK, I make LOTS of lists, but then I forget to reference them.  I don’t even know how to fix that.

Notifications:  Not trying to brag or say that I get a ton of notifications, but sometimes I am overwhelmed by social media notifications.  This happens most often when I have been unable to check them for a period of time (when I have been refereeing a tournament, for example).  If my head could spin around like an owl, that is exactly how my body would react! LOL

Thankfully, running and exercising helps me cope with my shortcomings in the attention department.  I can feel so tired from all the noise and stimulus, but all that melts away when I get into the run.

Yes, I wore my "twenty six point FREAKING two" shirt to run/walk 3.1 miles.
Yes, I wore my “twenty six point FREAKING two” shirt to run/walk 3.1 miles.

And speaking of run….I got one in yesterday! IT.  WAS.  AWESOME!  I am sticking with the 3 min run/1 min walk x8, for a couple more runs.  I am enjoying running with the shorter walk intervals.  And guess whose heart rate went over target only ONCE?? ME!!!  (Previously, my watch yelled at me no less than 5 times each interval.)  Something even more awesome is that even though my heart rate was lower, I ran roughly the same pace during the intervals as in my previous run.  Even though I can tell that my left hip area is much stronger, I can also tell that it is still weaker than my right side.  To me, that is just reinforcement to continue what I have been doing with strength exercises, cross training and proper rest days.  Having said that, progress is progress and I am celebrating!!  I finally believe that I can and WILL beat this and emerge a stronger, smarter runner!

In all the articles that I have read over the course of this injury, I have seen several about flexibility, specifically in the ankles.  I found a resource to measure my ankle flexibility which included exercises to increase mobility in the ankles (aka tight calves).  So one test was to kneel down with your toes 5″ from a wall and see how far forward you could push your leg AND keep your heel on the floor.  I decided to try it on my lunch break and here is proof of my sad results.  ankle


Yep.  You are seeing that correctly.  My knee will NOT go past my  toes.  I’m adding that to one of my lists (to which I’ll forget to refer) in hopes that I can loosen up my calves and increase my ankle mobility, which, in turn, will hopefully contribute to my overall health as a runner.

Happy Thursday, all!


Hope is in bloom!

I’ve made no secret of my disdain for the intervals and heart rate restrictions in my recovery plan (the term recovery plan is used very loosely here, as I have been floundering with it).  I completely understand the need for both of them and their role in my return to injury-free running.  And even though I say terrible things to my watch during my run (let’s hope no one has been in earshot), I do believe in the heart rate training and have faith that it will work well for me.

I have struggled with intervals.  I used an interval recovery plan out of a book of mine.  But the beginning intervals were run 5 min/walk 5 min (3 times) and I really didn’t feel like I was running much at all.  This weekend, I came across another return-to-running plan and decided to go with it.  So Monday afternoon, when temps were near 70 and the winter sun was smiling brightly upon North Texas, I tried these new intervals out.  The run was amazing (as amazing as intervals can be, anyway)!  I started on week 4 of this plan, which called for 3 min run/1 min walk (8 times).  I liked the shorter walk intervals and I actually felt as if I had RUN at the end!  My heart rate is an entirely different matter and, yes, I was angry at my watch the entire run!  I saw an acquaintance while I was out and felt the need to explain why I was running like a turtle (while she was passing me (as if she cared)).  And we won’t even discuss the looks I got because I was wearing compression shorts (it’s what I get for running at the park!).

Sadly, the stares continued when I stopped by Wal-Mart post-run
Sadly, the stares continued when I stopped by Wal-Mart post-run

The best news yet is that I didn’t experience any pain or increased tightness after the run – that evening or the next morning!  I have been experiencing some minor nagging issues with my runs, so this was a HUGE development!

I finally found a full yoga sequence specially for runners (that isn’t cheesy and I actually like) and started doing it on Saturday.  I LOVE IT!  Yoga has been on my list of things to do, but living in my small town there aren’t many options.  And I like being able to do it in my living room, even though my family LOVES to come through and make fun of me!  I have found that the front of my body (specifically, quads) is much more limber than the back of my body (hamstrings, hips, calves, ankles….*sigh*).  I am quite sure that I am not doing all the poses correctly, but I am trying and I can tell those hammies are loosening up, if only a little!  No….I won’t be posting pictures of my yoga.  No one needs to have that image burned into their brain.

Tuesday afternoon, I was unable to leave in time to get Alli to volleyball practice, but that freed up some time for a bike ride before dinner and Logan’s soccer game.  This ride was even more encouraging than my new interval run.  I could tell that my body had gotten much stronger since my last outdoor ride.  The last time I went out on the bike, I had to remind my legs to do the work.  This time was much smoother and didn’t feel as much of a struggle.  I rode the same route as last time and the wind was still an issue!  This left me feeling very hopeful because it has helped me realize that my strength training may finally be catching up.  I truly believe, for the first time, that I can beat this injury.

I do, however, face certain “challenges” when it comes to riding near my house.  I live off a busy state highway that is the main thoroughfare to and from the Dallas area.  Translation: lots of cars and they are ALL in a hurry!  To complicate things, there is this weird passing lane on this highway.  So, near my house, there are 2 lanes (with a less-than-normal shoulder, going South) on the opposite side of the highway from me, and one lane plus a full shoulder (going North).  Usually, this doesn’t cause much of a problem except that I just try to pay more attention when coming back home as I am usually going South and on the “short shoulder” at that point.  Manageable, right?  Throw in the road construction that was left uncompleted in the Fall and you have yourself a cluster.  You see, now there are NO stripes on the road, so people are assuming (incorrectly) that the North-bound shoulder is a second lane and we now see people regularly driving the shoulder.  This is a problem for a cyclist! Can’t wait until the weather is warmer so this project can be finished, once and for all!

My messed up highway!
My messed up highway! (And YES, that is a nice HILL in the distance 🙂

After my awesome ride, Bobby, Taylor, Alli and I went to eat before Logan’s soccer game.  We are always so excited to see Taylor (and Izze) and she is always so thoughtful and supportive of Logan and Alli by making time to come to their events.  The team didn’t play well, but somehow earned a 1-0 win, which brings their 2015 record to 5-2-6 (remember we were ALL losses and one tie last season?).  At Taylor’s insistence, we posed for a family photo afterwards.

I have NO idea what I'm looking at.
I have NO idea what I’m looking at.

I’ll leave you with this beautiful sunrise pic I snapped at work yesterday.  🙂

Just breathtaking.
Just breathtaking!

Happy Hump Day!


Finally learned to listen to my body, but now I don’t trust it!

First of all, thank you to all who read Wednesday’s blog.  I am blown away by the responses I received.  I am so humbled that my words brought comfort to so many, although I can’t take full credit for what I wrote!  I think God may have had a little something to do with that. 🙂  It’s hard to move on and post normally after something so raw and heartfelt, but that’s what life is about, isn’t it?  Moving on, tackling those day-to-day activities until some sort of normalcy returns.  So here I go with today’s post.

During marathon training when my ITB flared up, I posted about the confusion that ensued after my flimsy attempt at listening to my body.  At that time, I thought my ITB felt fine (well, fine as long as I wasn’t on a run longer than 6 miles).  During that pain-ridden journey, I may have just achieved that elusive mind-body connection (for now, at least…until Crazy Jen comes back).

After the marathon, I seriously thought I would take two weeks off and slowly start building back.  It didn’t take me long to realize that 2 weeks would be extended to 4.  When I made the decision to extend my recovery period to 4 weeks, I seriously thought that I would be back strong in that amount of time.  In the back of my mind, though, a little voice started whispering that it would likely take 6 weeks….or maybe 12.  I knew the voice was right and somehow I knew that this time – I had to listen.

My first run post-marathon was 6 weeks in the making, and (again) I had a gut feeling that it wasn’t going to be good (and it wasn’t).  I still feel that the time was right to get out there.  I went into the run with the mindset that I needed to gather information that would help me shape my training plan going forward.  (And I got A LOT of information.)  I waited another full week before I went on my next run, which was FABULOUS!  It ended up taking me 7 weeks recovery to get “that feeling” that things were heading in the right direction.

I ran again on Tuesday and it was another great run (as long as we ignore the heart rate issue in the first interval).  Wednesday evening I was back to see my myofascia guy.  I nearly cancelled because things had been going so well, but something told me to keep the appointment.  (It’s mind-boggling how often I have been listening to that little voice lately!)  In our pre-session debriefing, I told him that my glutes were still VERY tight, despite all the time that I had spent on the dreaded therapy ball.  He started on my hip (which was not moving in any form or fashion) and performed a release that he had not used on me before.  OH.  MY.  GOODNESS!!!  I knew my hips were tight, but I had NO idea until afterward.  Now that entire area feels AMAZING!!!

Love being able to run while Alli is at practice, even if it is only a 35 min workout
Tuesday’s Run: Love being able to run while Alli is at practice, even if it is only a 35 min workout

So it seems like things are all roses, right?  Not so much.  Let’s just call it like it is: I hate the intervals.  And I really dislike being constrained to my heart rate, even though I know that it will be good for me in the long run.  I finally admitted to myself that I don’t trust my body.  I just don’t.  I know that things are better now than they have been in months, but I don’t know what I am going to be able to push myself to do.  I want to go run a 15 miler tomorrow and I know I can’t.  And quite frankly, I don’t know if I ever will be able to again.  I am adding time to my intervals slowly in order to build my base and avoid further injury, but at the same time I’m as nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof.  Every time I go out, I wonder if this is going to be the time that things go haywire again.

Even so, I will keep chugging along, because I really have no other choice.  I love running too much to give up when things get tough.  I’ll keep in mind some of my own advice: nothing worthwhile is ever easy.  So when I do actually get back out there on a run (without intervals), it’s going to be the sweetest thing ever!

Happy weekend!


God is not in the tragedy, but in its response

Originally I had planned to write today about the great run I had yesterday and how all pistons seem to be firing correctly, but my heart is too heavy to speak of those things.

Most of you know that I work in the office at an elementary school.  Yesterday afternoon we learned about a horrific wreck in our area that claimed the lives of 3 people.  Living in a small community, you always wonder who was involved, because chances are you know them or someone in their family.  I am so sad to say that we knew those involved in the wreck.  A mother, her husband and one-year old daughter were killed instantly in the crash.  While her other 3 sons were happily in class at our school.

To say that our campus is devastated would be an understatement.  The kids on this campus are OUR kids and when something terrible happens in their lives, we hurt for them.  We worry about their future and how they will cope with the changes that are inevitable.

Our community has suffered through some terrible events in the past few months.  The last one was the North Central Texas College softball bus crash in the Fall.  Several local girls played on the team and 2 girls from our county lost their lives in it.  Times like these cause us to reevaluate our beliefs and focus on the “important” things in life.

Being Presbyterian, I am always amazed at how people can actually explain these events (with conviction and mean it) by saying that “God needed another angel”.  To that, I say that God is God and doesn’t need anything.  Another one that I have difficulty with is that “it was God’s plan”.  Ok…..I know that Presbyterians are known for our belief in “predestination”, but I don’t worship a God whose plan is ripping a loving mother away from her 3 children…..or multiplying a family’s grief by calling home a 20 year old woman whose mother passed just over a year before.  I just don’t believe that, but I do believe that God weeps and grieves with us when these terrible things happen.

I think that “predestination” means that God is omnipotent and knows all, but that does not specifically mean it is in God’s “plan” for these things to happen.  God gave humans free will, and as a consequence, events happen that are terrible and out of our control.  Such as crashes in fast-travelling vehicles, which were invented and made by man (and driven by man, I might add).

So where is God in all of this?  One of my favorite quotes (ok, I don’t even know if it is a real quote, but when I heard it the first time it stuck with me) is “God is not in the tragedy, but in the response to the tragedy.”  I believe this with all my heart.  God works through human actions.  Through hugs and food and money given to honor a person’s life and in so many other ways that can’t even be named.  God is in the response, not in the event.

After 9-11, when our country came together as one in response to that tragedy: God was in the response.

After Allison died and my community honored her and held up her grieving husband and kids: God was in the response.

After the terrible tornadoes in Norman, OK, and many donated their time to help clean up and rebuild: God was in the response.

After the Boston Marathon bombing and runners across the country laced up to run in honor of the victims: God was in the response.

After the fertilizer plant explosion in West, TX and donations of school supplies and money poured in: God was in the response.

After Meg was run over and killed while out on a run and runners across the country ran in her honor and left their shoes in an on-site memorial: God was in the response.

After the NCTC bus crash and people across the country gave tribute to the 4 angels lost in that tragedy: God was in the response. (YouTube tribute here)

And in our most recent tragedy, while the wound is still fresh and our hearts are heavy with sorrow, one thing is certain: God will be in the response.

My point is that if we open our eyes, we can see God’s work, because God has a knack for enabling positive things to happen from negative events.

The family involved in the wreck was like most families in my area: they struggled to make ends meet.  If you feel moved to give, there has been a Go Fund Me account created to help with funeral expenses.

God bless,