You Know You’re a Working Mom When… Beautiful Realities

I recently read this post that all working moms can relate to. It’s pretty good. I think the author, Rebecca Rose, and I could be fast friends. We could sit over a cup of coffee, or better yet a glass of wine, and connect.

She so vividly and accurately wrote of the challenges and heartaches of a working mom. (and please, oh my gosh please don’t let this turn into a battle of how you define ‘working’- for purposes here, it means a full time employed outside the home mom.) She made my heart ache a bit.

And she concluded with encouraging words to us, that despite it all we’re doing okay. But I got to thinking…. sometimes as Moms, we focus on the challenges and let the guilt build, and forget to see the amazing things too. So go read that and you’ll see some truth. But there is more truth.

Beyond the ugly realities, here are some beautiful realities.

You Know You’re a Working Mom When….

Your  kids know that your time is scarce and the time you set aside for them alone is even more precious and tells them how much you love them.

You Know You’re a Working Mom When….

You gladly use your vacation and sick time anytime possible to see their school awards, nurse them to health or visit their class, because you’d rather be there for them during those times than anywhere else.

You Know You’re a Working Mom When….

Your kids introduce you to the friends you don’t know well, telling them about how you help people, build cool things or are in charge of a big department. No professional award can measure up to that.

You Know You’re a Working Mom When….

Your kids never question their ability to grow up and be anything they want to be, including a SAHM.

You Know You’re a Working Mom When….

You learn to use the short special moments to their fullest- the car ride and bedtime are your greatest multitasking achievement of the day- pairing a necessary task with investing in your relationship.

You Know You’re a Working Mom When….

You’re teaching your kids that you’ll do anything for your family, including be away from them all day if needed.

 

Our experiences are all different, our reasons for either staying home or working away from home all being different. Me? I’d always pursue a career, but might do it differently if I had it 100% my way. Many of my mom friends feel the same.

There are beautiful realities in any circumstance. Sometimes we just need to be reminded of them.

For my Boys: Know Who You Are

formyboys

Strong, Brave, Kind

Silly, Wild, Playful

Inquisitive, Driven, Expanding

Loved, Cherished, Wanted

Growing, Challenging, Seeking

Boys, as you settle into this new school year, that is so full of promise and excitement for you both, I resist the urge to go before you and tell everyone all that they should know about you.  I want to send pages and pages of notes to your teachers, letting them know enough about you that they love you and want to see you grow as much as I do.  I want to let them know of your weaknesses so they can encourage you, let them know of your strengths so they can push you, let them know of the children who are mean so they can protect you, and let them know of the children who lift you so they can place you with them.

I want them to know you.

But what I’ve learned, is that the most important thing is that you know yourself.  Those words above?  Those are the words I think of when I think of you.  You are so very different, but so very much the same.  You are years apart and much different people, so each one is exhibited differently and at different times in different ways.  But know those things.  Know you are each of those.

Know who you are.

And when you forget, I will remind you.

 

Leaving a Legacy

What would you do, if during your child’s last hour on earth, they asked you to make a promise to carry on their work?

Six years ago today marks the last time I ever saw my brother.  My husband, Austin, and I went to see a movie and laughed together.  I had no idea it would be the last, that the very next day he would be missing.  I think he did though.  I think he had a plan for the next day that we still don’t know all the details of, but meant that we would never see him again.  I think that night out might have been a gift, something he gave me without me knowing at the time what it meant.  Or maybe that night changed his plan, not wanting to bring pain into our home.  Or maybe there was no plan that night, maybe there was only laughter and the illness of depression took it’s final stronghold that next morning.  We may never know.  We have lots of maybes, and very few knowns.

I struggle with those questions, and with what he would want us to be doing six years later.  I don’t think he could have seen, in the darkness of depression, that what he did would still be so heavy on us.  His heart was too good and loving to want this for us.  But I do believe if he could see now, he’d be proud of what we’re trying to do.

Last week I had the great honor of hearing a man speak, a man who almost 18 years ago made a promise to his dying daughter.  She asked him to carry on her work.  Her name was Jenny Eller, and she’d battled Leukemia for almost four years.  During that time, she was a fierce advocate for donating blood, as she had herself needed hundreds of units during her treatment.  Her father, Dean Eller, started fulfilling that promise just a few days after her death when he spoke to a group about the need for donating blood, a group she was scheduled to speak to.  He went on to become a tireless advocate, and eventually to lead the Central California Blood Center where he helps ensure that there is always blood for any patient who needs it.  I’ve been in the beautiful building that he had a vision for, named for his daughter, and seen donors in the chairs fulfilling that promise.

He is fulfilling a promise.  He is leaving a legacy.

Since hearing Dean speak, I’ve been thinking more about my message and my legacy.  Not just for Austin, but for my own sons.  When I’m gone one day, what will I have left or impacted.  What do I want my message to truly be?

I want to help others find their purpose and leave their legacy.

Dean helps ensure that there is blood for everyone who needs it.  (And we should be a part of that by donating at our local blood center!)  My mom Christy works in Search and Rescue, helping families like ours, and is leaving a legacy of service.

What is your passion?  Where can you have an impact?  Never think that your story, your voice, or your life is too small.  Never think that what you do doesn’t matter.  It matters.  You may not have a platform like Dean, or the skills of my mom.  But what you have can have an impact of your family and the community around you.  And when you teach your children to be involved, to care, to donate, you are leaving a legacy.

This year, I have a new purpose, to grow out of my comfort zone and go where God is calling me.  This year I plan to speak to groups, churches, and my own community, about finding your purpose.

I can’t wait to see where that takes me.  It can’t take me back six years to another day with my brother.  But maybe it can help others facing that same darkness of loss.

 

The godly walk with integrity; blessed are their children who follow them.
~ Proverbs 20:7, NLT

The Baseball Mom Rules

Our baseball season just wrapped up, much differently than we expected or hoped.  Drew watched the last game from the dugout, with an injured knee, but cheering his team on and still a big part of it.  He’s played through illness and injury, with a bruised and taped hand, with a busted lip, a busted nose, a tweaked ankle, with ibuprofen and with many puffs of his inhaler.  The only games he’d ever missed in 6 years of baseball were when his breathing was so bad he was either in the hospital or about to go in.  So it took a lot to hold him back.  Parenting an athlete is much like parenting in general, with a lot of lessons to share.  So as we wrap up the year and look forward to next season, whatever that may bring,

I thought I’d share my observations, on how to be a good baseball mom.  For those of you just entering this fun season of life, or for those who can relate:

1.  Cheer them on.   Seems simple and obvious.  But so many moms, including myself sometimes often, want to correct them and coach them, and point out what they did wrong.  Let the coaches do that.  You only cheer.  (And hey, if you want to cheer so loudly that no one else can hear and it’s positive?  Great!  Just don’t be offended when I sit on the other side!)

greatestplayer

2.  Be prepared.  From the time they’re little, there are seemingly 1,000 things to bring to the park.  Snacks, water bottles, sunscreen, cooling rags, chairs, umbrellas, entertainment for siblings, cameras, and of course the cleats, bats, balls, gloves, batting gloves, helmets, hat, and on and on and on.  A list will make your life easier.  Especially when you’re leaving the house at 5:45am.  Yep, 5:45am.  (And yep, I’ve been that mom who shows up missing things- including his entire bat bag in the days before that was his responsibility)

2010 Season

2010 Season

3.  Leave the game at the field.  Some great advice I’ve heard from one of our favorite coaches, is to leave the game at the field when you get in the car.  When they’re young, they should just be having fun and not rehashing what happened.  As they get older, they already know what they did right and wrong.  Let them move on.  (I may have been known to break this one and threaten my kid because he didn’t swing the bat in a game.)

2011 SandGnats

2011 SandGnats

4.  Surround yourselves with good people.  The most important thing your kid will learn on the field has nothing to do with baseball.  Find coaches who you want them to grow to be like.  Unless your kid is one of the very tiny % of players who will go on to college or the pros, learning baseball skills is less important than life skills.  And even then, they should be hand in hand.  (We have the best around us.  And sometimes the worst!)

2013 Spring Season

2013 Spring Season

5.  Remind yourself that “It’s a Small World After All.”  Be nice.  Unless you’re in the world of travel baseball, it’s hard to imagine how many people become ugly and personal and hurtful.  But it’s a very small world unless you move far away, and you’ll see each other often.  Heck, there’s a good chance your kids will play together again one day.  (Though please God don’t let some of them end up with us again!)

2011 All Stars

2011 All Stars

6.  Toughen’ up.  Mom, I’m talking about you.  We’ve seen a lot of injuries on the field, a lot of blood, and a lot of tears.  Some of it from our son, and some from kids we love.  Let the coaches handle it until they ask you to come help.  This is a tough one.  But your kid will probably bounce back a lot quicker without you running onto the field.  (I’ve never broken this one- mostly because I’m scared of seeing how bad it is, but whatever it takes.)

last game of Spring '13 season

last game of Spring ’13 season

7.  Let them lose.  Some of the best lessons are in a loss.  Even a losing season.  Our kids are going to face tough times in life, they’re not always going to win.  Let them learn to not give up, to trust their teammates, and to give it their all and still come up short.  They’ll grow.  (I HATE losing!  Apparently I haven’t grown enough.)

8.  Push till it’s time.  Drew loves baseball more than just about anything.  He wants to play at as high a level he can.  He can’t imagine life without it.  But sometimes, he’s not giving it his all or wanting the extra workouts, or to miss something because of practice.  If and when he decides he no longer wants to play one day, I’ll support that.  But until that time, I’ll push him to give his all and be his best.  (“That knee doesn’t hurt that bad!  Come on!”  may have been yelled before I realized the current injury was real.)

9.  Enjoy it.  I love our hours at a ball field.  We’re all together, and my kid is doing what he loves best.  Six years ago we started this journey, with a tiny little four year old who couldn’t tell you which base was which.  Watching him grow into the ballplayer his is today has been a great joy.  Not because of baseball, but because of how it’s helped him grow.

Our immediate plans are to rehab Drew’s knee for a few weeks (hopefully that’s all it takes!) and get him back on the field.  We’ll enjoy a bit of summer downtime too.  But before long, we’ll all be ready to get back to what we love.

And guess what’s next?

Ben starts t-ball in the Fall!  More hours at a field, but back to where it’s all fun and cute.  I can’t wait.

Ben_NLA

Play Ball!

 

 

The Roller Coaster Ride

It’s not unusual for a year to go by with nothing new to report on in our search for Austin.  That’s true of most of us with a cold case missing person, and it may be one of the hardest parts to accept.  But we’ve had some activity in the past few weeks, and I wanted to share some of what it’s like to go through the roller coaster of ‘what if’ and ‘maybe’.

One of the most respected women in search and rescue, Monica Caison had been encouraging my mom to search one specific area we never had, the property around the house where Austin and I grew up.  Mom was hesitant for her own reasons, and I pushed every now and then to please make it happen.  The plan was for a small group to go, just a few people from her own search team, as it’s quite a small area.  Monica helped scout on a Friday, and on that Saturday, four searchers including my mom, began to work.  While they worked, I wrote some thoughts, always praying that when I shared this, I’d be sharing about the day we brought Austin home.  Here’s what I wrote as I waited:

“From where I stand… Birds calling, crickets chirping, occasional dog barking, leaves falling, trees towering, sun shining warm,  quiet, peaceful….
As I write, a small search for Austin is underway.  We’ve had quite a few, so I have a somewhat nonchalant attitude towards them usually. In the beginning, I would always think “today is the day” and be nervous.  As time has gone on, most searches have been repeats of the same areas or areas we didn’t feel that strong about.  So I lost that feeling for the most part.  Pulling up to a team of searchers always gave me a moment of belief that today might be the day, and leaving with no results always gave me a bit of a letdown, but less and less over time.

Today is different.  Today it’s just 4 people and 3 dogs.  Today my mom is searching instead of organizing.  Today we’re home, meaning we’re where Austin and I grew up, where I have the most feeling of home and where he did too.  Though we don’t own the house or property and haven’t for years, we still visit out here because of close family friends who are still here.  When I turn down the road, it still feels like going home.  It’s where we made most of our childhood memories, its where we made lifelong friends, its where we were a family.  About halfway through college for me, and halfway through high school for Austin, our parents split and things changed a lot.  Austin still lived there for a few years, and I spent one more summer there, before Dad made the decision to sell.  I don’t know if Austin’s last few years here tarnished the good memories so much that he didn’t still feel the strong connection to it that I do.  I was gone, living an hour away through the worst of that, so I don’t have the same viewpoint.

I wasn’t convinced that the pull here would be strong enough that he’d come back here for his final moments.  But we’ve searched everywhere else that seems to make sense.”

My kids and husband came and we played baseball and soccer for a few hours while they searched, reminding me how abnormal it is for my kids to think it perfectly normal to play yards away from a search, a search for their own uncle.  My youngest doesn’t know, but my oldest is well aware.  A few hours later, the team packed up and left without any find.  It turns out that the area really is too grown up and too dense for that small a team, and some heavy equipment is needed.  I left sad, with that feeling that this wasn’t really the place, and knowing it would likely be months before the next search happened, meaning more time of just waiting.  That’s the road for a family member though, always having sparks of hope that you have to allow and have to feel, while wanting to instead protect yourself from the letdown that comes after you allow yourself to hope.

Fast forward a week and a half or so….

I was getting ready to walk out the door to work when I realized my husband and mom were talking and there were words like ‘serial number’ and ‘police’ floating to me.  I stopped and listened.

My mom had been awakened about 3:30am by a phone call from someone who scavenged for metal, and had found bones in carpet, almost buried in dirt the night before.  He’d called the police and they’d sent uniformed officers, but they hadn’t taken him seriously it seemed, and he couldn’t sleep.  So he was searching online for information about missing people in that area, and came across Austin’s info.  On that was the Finder’s Hope logo, and from there he found my mom’s phone number- not realizing she was also Austin’s mom.  He’d read about the shotgun we were also looking for, and was startled by the fact that he’d found the barrel of a shotgun (same brand) months ago, broken down and half buried, in another nearby spot that we had searched very near to.  The bones were several blocks away, but also between the Pawn Shop (where Austin purchased the gun and was last seen) and where he’d found the gun.  He still had the gun, including the serial number and would be glad to hand it to police.

We couldn’t piece together how both could be related to Austin, but one or the other very possibly could, and if not him, it could be someone else’s missing loved one.  I let work know I’d be only partially available as we figured out what to do, and my mom started calling the missing persons unit, leaving messages and calling back until she was able to speak to someone who listened.  Thankfully, the detective said he was jumping in his car to go check it out right then.  He asked us to wait till we heard back.

That lasted about 10 minutes, until Michael and I drove by the entrance to the site where the bones were found, and then by the house where the guy lived.  Once we realized the detective was indeed there, we went on, waiting anxiously for any word.  We lasted a little bit longer, before my mom left and sat at the entrance where there were now two empty unmarked cars, leading us to believe they were looking for the site.  I tried to be somewhat productive, with a few work phone calls and emails, as I had something fairly large and difficult going on there to deal with too.  I knew that it was unlikely to be the day we had answers, but as my husband reminded me, “it has to be one day.”

My mom and I returned to the site, with both of my boys in the car and my husband off to class, because even in the midst of days like that, we have to continue on with life, though I knew he was keeping his phone close and would rush back if needed.  By this time, another search team member and friend of my mom’s was on her way with her dog, in case help was needed.  And I’m sure though she didn’t say it, in case the gun was his or the bones confirmed human, to be there with us.

As we pulled up, I told my oldest, “we’re going stopping by a search to talk to some police, I need you to stay in the car” and almost laughed as we saw once again how normal these things were to him.  We approached the officers, six in total, and introduced ourselves.  They shared that the bones had been located, and that their dog was on the ground to determine if they were human, as it was a small amount of bones.  They were large enough to be human potentially.

Four of the six plainclothes officers immediately separated themselves away once we introduced ourselves, not even acknowledging us.  We didn’t know the remaining two but were told that the detective we’d talked with, along with the K-9 and his handler were a bit beyond view.  We were probably some of the most composed family members they’d seen, as we tried to chat with them about search and rescue, laughed about my fear of snakes that kept me from being a searcher, and discussed the fact that we were out there for us, but also for any family who might be about to find answers.

It was probably no more than 5 minutes later when the detective, the K-9 and handler walked in to the clearing and started towards us.  My mom kept chatting, while I realized that we were either about to have hope dashed, or have the start to the longest few weeks of our lives while we waited to learn who it was.

They were dashed.  The remains weren’t human.  The gun’s serial number didn’t match.  We thanked the detective and walked back to our car where I cheerfully told my son that the search had found some bones, but just an animal and we were going home.

I returned home for an afternoon of conference calls and work, and mom picked up to do whatever she had planned for the day.  The searcher friend was turned around, and our lives went back to normal.

But our normal is not that normal and I’m always aware of that.

Last night I heard an inspirational message from a singer who had lost his voice and had it restored through a risky surgery that threatened his career and his passion.  When his voice did return, it was better than before, and he learned a lot about trusting God when all seems bleak.  I’ve heard so many other stories with similar messages, and I sometimes feel the weight of wondering when our turn to have a completion to this ‘story’ is.  When I’ll be able to tell about our struggles, but with a conclusion to our years of searching instead of this open ended story.  But I heard so clearly last night, that the longer we search, the more powerful our story of keeping hope no matter the situation becomes, and the more people to know of Austin, and be able to celebrate with us when there is an end to the search one day.  I’d still like it to be today.  The roller coaster is no fun.

But I share because that is the only action I can take, I share that someone may see the HOPE we still have, and will always have.  And I share that when we do find Austin, even more will know the struggle to get there and be able to see how God worked.

Thank you for those who ride the roller coaster with us, and for those whom we know we can call when we need you, even if you never knew any of this was going on.  We did keep all of this fairly quiet for a variety of reasons, and often have to.  But do know, that when the day comes that there is a different end to this story, we’ll be so thankful you’re there.

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

Choosing Joy

A few days ago I wrote half a blog post that I couldn’t get finished for some reason.   I was reminded of it this morning, how I’d written about choosing to be happy even in times where that’s tough.  Here’s an excerpt from what I wrote:

“When I was a teenager, the words that could irritate me like no other were “decide to be happy”- usually coming from my dad when something in my teen world wasn’t going quite right- and in the life of a teenage girl, things usually aren’t.  I knew he was right but that didn’t make me like it any more.”

Well, things aren’t going quite right for us this week.  It’s Christmas, the most magical time, a time I truly love.  And today and tomorrow are my favorite days of the year.  Tonight’s plan was our KidStuf show at church, with Michael and I on stage and our boys in the audience, with our amazing and talented team helping prepare hearts of kids of all ages for Christmas.  Then, we were to have dinner with a group of friends we call family, and would end the night with a beautiful candlelight service.  Tomorrow morning we’d wake up to the awe and wonder of our boys’ faces as they discovered the tree transformed with gifts from Santa and gifts from us.  We’d have a relaxing day and one of our favorite meals (a big pot of shrimp boil) before packing the car and making the drive to see Michael’s family for a few days.  As with every day, especially days like this, we would miss Austin and wish he was there.  But it would be a magical time regardless.

view from the room this morning

Instead, I’m writing from Michael’s hospital room yet again, and making sure that all bases are covered for Santa to still visit, and the rest of Christmas Day to be postponed until we’re home.  We won’t be able to reschedule Christmas Eve with our family of friends, or reschedule the trip to West Virginia anytime soon (much too long a drive for a weekend visit, much too expensive to fly and tough to schedule with Drew in school).

Today’s a day I truly have to choose to be happy, but I have to dig deeper than just happy.  Happy is a feeling that is influenced by circumstances, but Joy is part of who you are.  Joy is knowing that no matter the circumstances, no matter the feelings of the moment, your soul has peace.  I could get away with giving into the disappointment today, it’s understandable.  But I won’t.  I choose joy.

I’m joyful for the reason for Christmas, for a savior who was born to change the world.  I’m joyful for the promises made that no matter our circumstances, there is reason for joy.

All around us there are people needing to choose joy because of things happening that make it so difficult.  I see it here- from staff who will be working, to families wishing they were anywhere else.  I see it in those I love who are missing someone or are struggling to provide.  But I’ve seen people choosing joy already today- nurses and food services staff who are cheerful and give no clue they’d rather be home, and family members wishing Merry Christmas to those they see.  And we have many around us choosing to help us find joy by loving us in their own ways, as they have so many times.   What I’ve realized, is that when we choose joy for ourselves, we can’t help but spread it to others as well.

Merry Christmas my friends, what a joyous day it is.

Proud of my Mom

Today

Hours do not have enough minutes. Days do not have enough hours. Weeks do not have enough days. Months…. well, you get the picture. We run out of time to do what we need or what we want. We make choices constantly on what gets our time because for most of us, not everything we want can be done.

I face this daily. And daily I feel guilt over it. I feel guilt because I didn’t spend enough time with my boys, didn’t get home soon enough to give my amazing husband a break, didn’t get tasks done on a project at work, didn’t answer every question my team asked, didn’t finish script edits for church, didn’t check in with a friend I meant to, didn’t make calls to get donations for the search. Then at times I feel guilty for not spending a bit more time on me to keep me from getting burned out so badly I have nothing left to give.

Last night we drove about 30 miles out of town and I had moments of dreaming of living out there, away from it all. Just me and the guys and a visit to town or visit from friends now and then. And then I remembered that I’d go crazy after two days.

I love all that I do. I’d love a little less of it, but I haven’t figured out how to make that happen.

So for now, I’ll keep doing the best I can. Today isn’t the day I become the world’s best mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend, employee, boss, volunteer or anything else. But maybe I’ll do good enough to make it one more day.



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Oh the places you’ll go….

Many wild experiences have been had during our search for Austin, some that prove we’ll do anything to find him, and this one that just may well prove that we’re crazy.  I will start off by saying it was all my mom’s fault… well, it was her idea anyway.

A few months into Austin being gone, there had been possible sightings of him in a town near Gainesville. His photo had run in their small town paper and created a lot of buzz, and I believe, a lot of false sightings.  But we had to follow them, had to look.  We spent a lot of time there, staking out locations, searching state parks, and talking to anyone we saw.

One day, a call came in from a man who thought he might have seen Austin.  Though he wasn’t involved in drugs himself (so he said), he did do car repair work for some people who were known to, and he thought he might have seen Austin at one of these houses.  He suggested that though we shouldn’t visit any of these places ourselves, that if we really wanted to see if he was there, he would go with us.  After all, he had kids and couldn’t imagine one being missing, and he really wanted to help.  Uh huh.  Mom knew that this was probably a bad idea, potentially a really bad idea.  But when your son is missing, you’ll go anywhere.  And when your mom will go anywhere, I guess you go with her.

Mom and I, along with a friend of Austin’s and a guy she knew, left about 10pm.  We took two vehicles, and went to the man’s house, arriving about 11pm.  We decided that a few people would go in the car that he would be riding in, and one would stay in another car a bit away to monitor what was happening and be available by cell.  So we loaded up, and off we went.  He seemed nice, and as he got in the car my mom was driving, he chatted about where we were, why he knew these people…. oh, and that we shouldn’t go in and he’d be glad to but they’d be suspicious if he didn’t have some money on him.  So we gave him a bit of cash, pictures of Austin and set off.  You wouldn’t imagine how many of these sorts of houses exist in a small town.  It blew me away.  A few houses were dark and seemed empty, but a knock on the door would reveal someone rough looking who would look at Austin’s photo and invite our ‘friend’ inside for a moment.  I’m sure it was just for better light to look at his photo.  A few seemed like party houses, with music and people milling about.  I was terrified at one house when someone approached the car and asked what we needed.  But mom calmly replied that someone was inside for what we needed and we’d be leaving in a minute.  At each place we went, he did show the photo to every person around.  We saw lots of heads shaking no, some looking at us with sad eyes.  I wondered if any of them had someone searching for their faces in a crowd, or even in a drug house somewhere.  Even if they weren’t missing, someone somewhere was hurting for them for the life they were leading.

The night ended uneventful, with us never knowing what happened to the cash, and our friend never offering answers.  He did follow through with what he said he would, taking us into places we couldn’t have gone otherwise, and showing everyone he saw Austin’s face.  He kept some fliers and said he’d show more people, and you know, I think he probably did.

It wasn’t our smartest move, and it could have ended badly.  But desperate people do desperate things, and I’d do it again.  Austin would have told us we were crazy, and he’d be right.  But I’m pretty sure if I was the one gone, crazy or stupid wouldn’t have stopped him either.

Tribute for a Mom

This Mother’s Day I’ll be eating breakfast my guys cook and wearing a fancy hat to church. This Mother’s Day my mom will eat in a camper and test her search skills.This Mother’s Day I’ll have sweet hugs from my sons. This Mother’s Day my mom won’t have her son here to hug, so she’ll work towards a certification for leading searches. This Mother’s Day I’d like a jewelry box. This Mother’s Day, my mom wants the gift of being able to help bring someone’s child home.

Since Austin isn’t here to say ‘I love you’ or ‘thanks’ I’d like to say it for him. Thank you for being willing to sacrifice so much for him, for me and for others. Thank you for loving us always, teaching us about life, pushing us when needed, supporting us no matter, teaching us the value of hard work and to never give up.

Austin talked to you when no one else, knowing you would comfort but always help also. He respected you and loved you. If here, he would say thanks in a simple and quick way, but would mean it deeply.

Though I have my own methods, I hope and pray that my boys grow to know what Austin and I always knew- that they are loved by us and by God, and can never stray so far to be out of our love. Thank you.



Mom with Monica Caison, being presented with a CUE Keeper of the Flame Award, 2011

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