If you wanna feel better about your family, just read about ours...

Starring: a dad, a mom, a son & daughter-in-law, a daughter & son-in-law, a teen, a tween, 1 grandson, 3 granddaughters, 3 dogs, and a whole lot of love.

Family Story Pic

Family Story Pic


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Jump For Boy

I remember the exact moment that put us on this path.  It was 9 years ago and I took the kids to spend the day at King's Island amusement park by myself.  Zac was 10, Aubrey was 8 and Kearstin was 5, and the Bungee Drop was offering a special end-of-season price for $5 and I simply cannot pass up a good deal.  Zac was skeptical, but my excitement was contagious and he eventually agreed.  It was when I looked down at our young girls standing alone in the employee box while my son and I, wrapped together like a burrito, slowly ascended toward the sky by a crane that I questioned my decision making process, not to mention my parenting skills.  In a shaky voice Zac asked, "Are we almost to the top, Mommy?"  I glanced back long enough to see that we were nowhere near the top and said, "Yep."  We finally reached it and the voice came over the loud speaker and said the words that used to haunt me in my sleep. "3. 2. 1."  That was my cue to pull the release chord.  But, I didn't.  Again, "3. 2. 1." ....silence.... but before the count-down-to-death voice got angry and released us from below, I looked at Zac and said, "I'm sorry" and yanked the chord.  What followed was the most exhilerating 4 minutes of our lives. And so it began.  Our motto became, "That which does not kill us, makes us stronger."  We conquered every ride at King's Island under that standard, moved on to Cedar Point, and threw in the reverse bungee that flings you 182 ft into the air in what looks like a giant hamster ball, for good measure.  We were unstoppable.

A few years later, we drove to Tennessee to go Indoor Skydiving.  Me, Zac, Aubrey and Kearstin, clothed in giant flight suits, and blowing around uncontrolled in a 50 ft. vertical wind tunnel while my husband and Caymen watched through a window, once again causing me to question my decision making skills when it comes to responsible parenting.  Afterward, Zac said to me, "Will you go real skydiving with me when I'm old enough?"  Kinda like my glance back toward the top on that crane, it seemed so far away, and I said, "Yep."

We were originally scheduled for May 15th, showed up to find out that it was too windy and had to be rescheduled.  We'd already driven down there, so we hung out for bit and got to know a couple of the guys who introduced themselves and made us feel very comfortable.  One was Pags, a jokester who was funny and entertaining.  The other was Monkey, which coincidentally, has always been our nickname for Caymen.  Skydiving Monkey was the lead instructor and immediately put my mind at ease.  I left there that day feeling a little better, but spent the next 2 weeks studying YouTube videos of tandem skydives to try to prepare myself.  I could have saved myself a lot of time, because there is really no way to prepare yourself for jumping out of an airplane at 13,000 ft.

The thought that kept me up at night was the moment I would be standing at the open door of the safe airplane before diving out into nothing and I pictured myself as the new sponsor for Red Bull with their logo on my back, because clearly, I was about to rival the record of the guy who dove from space.  And when I was watching The Today Show the day Matt Lauer was at the top of the new World Trade Center building as the camera spanned around the view and I got dizzy from the safety of my couch, I thought, this can't be good.

But 2 things had me committed to going through with this.  No refunds. And that boy of mine.  Then God sealed the deal with a song on the radio that became my Skydive-Hug-From-God.
(Link will be at the bottom of this post.)  That's when I knew, God was going to rock my world again...and who knows what that could possibly mean when it comes to skydiving...

Yesterday was the big day.  School is out, so we took Kearstin and Caymen to watch us fall from the sky, because by now you know there's no hope for our parenting skills.

I approached the flight board to see which men would be strapped to our backs...and maybe they'd be so kind as to strap one to my front to give me someone to cling to, and break my fall, but whatever.  Wouldn't you know, out of the 20 or so flight instructors there, Zac was assigned to Pags and I got Monkey. Hi, God. Welcome.  At that point I knew this was either going to be a huge success or I was going to die flailing wildly out of control with a monkey on my back.  In death as in life.

Before we knew what was happening, we were ascending into the sky in the plane.  I turned to Monkey and said, "Are we almost to the top?"  and he said, "Oh, no.  We've still got 9,000 more ft. to go."
Hey, Monkey.  A simple Yep would suffice.  Where are your parenting skills?

Pags and Monkey were amazing and both knew exactly what we each needed.  Pags kept Zac at ease with jokes and laughter.  Monkey spoke softly into my ear words of reassurance while he checked, double checked and triple checked my harnesses for my benefit, not his.  And then he said, "Now stop thinking and enjoy the ride."

My original plan was that I would exit the plane first, because there's no way a mother should ever be put in the position to watch her son jump out of an airplane.  But Monkey threw a wrench in that by deciding we needed to go last.  Something about wind conditions, Zac's small size vs my not small size, not colliding, blah blah blah.

Pags and Zac approached the side of the plane...and disappeared...
I choked down a sob in my throat.

That's when I made a deal with Monkey.  "Tell me when my boy's chute opens and I'll stop thinking and enjoy the ride."

When Monkey said, "He's clear" I felt a calm wash over me that can only be described as coming from the Prince Of Peace, Himself.  My boy was safe and my Jesus was either going to land me safely too, or He was going to carry me home, and at that moment, I was fine either way.
It's indescribable.  There are no words.  Your senses come to life.  You feel the cold air as you float, not fall, through a cyclone of wind.  You smell the cleanness of the air.  You see everything.  You hear nothing...and all I could think to do was close my eyes and worship.  It was the only thing that made sense.  So with my face skin flapping under the force of falling 140 mph, I worshiped!
The free fall was originally what I feared most, but as it turned out, it was in the free fall where I ended up feeling closest to my Savior.

It was almost disappointing when I felt the chute open and that moment was gone as quickly as it came.
Then it just became fun.  I watched Zac's parachute glide slowly toward the ground below me and then I landed...on my feet, people.  I dove from an airplane at 13,000 ft and landed On. My. Feet.

In skydiving as in life.  To someone watching from a distance, it might look like I'm free falling out of control and you might even think I've gone off course.  But little do you know I'm simply allowing my Savior to carry me and my only job here is to stop thinking, enjoy the ride, and by all means, I will worship...even with a Monkey on my back.  And don't be surprised when I land on my feet.
Feel like you're free falling?  Stay calm.  God's closest to you there.

Please take a minute to listen to this song. 
Now...stop being afraid and go live. You won't regret it.

My 2 favorite 'Monkey'(s).

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

"Jump For Boy" ... stay tuned...

Regarding the skydiving adventure with my son that was scheduled to take place today, due to high winds, it has been postponed until May 29th.

So we'll file this one under 'To Be Continued'...

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Mudder-Son Bonding

As you might recall, I swore off Tough Mudder after Kentucky.  But several factors changed my mind when considering Tough Mudder Ohio.  It started with my son deciding to try it and asking me to join him...and then the deal was sealed with Lissa's description of super-glamorous hot pink and black zebra striped yoga pants we'd wear.  I'm weak, okay?

I also had in my mind all the wonderful lessons God taught me and barriers He broke me through during that long trek in Kentucky. 

Aaaaand according to the Tough Mudder website, if you complete 2, you get bumped up to 'Badass' status.  How could I pass the chance to add another title to my professional resume? 

But the bottom line is this; Tough Mudder is a lot like childbirth.  You miraculously forget the pain when you sit and stare at that tiny, but perfect and totally worth it....orange head band.

When will I learn that not everything is quite so simple?

The problems began for me when I had to start back into 6-day-a-week training and the few times Z joined me, I ended up gasping for air while he skipped along beside me asking what I was cooking for dinner.  Shut it till I can breathe, Junior.  Shortly after that, he decided to focus on rest and carb intake.  Must be nice.

If you read my previous post, you know that the song, Redeemed, became like God's hug to me and it played repeatedly all the way to Kentucky.  So it should have raised a few red flags when I didn't hear it once on our drive to Mansfield, Ohio and was forced to decide that God sent 'Eye Of The Tiger' in it's place.  Don't judge, it's all I had.

The event itself was much like Kentucky except flatter, 10 miles instead of 12, and more running, less crawling.  The big difference for me on this course was that we would be running and then hit big sections of deep mud that would suck the run out of me.  As for the obstacles, many were the same so we knew what to expect.  When it came to the ice tank, the 2nd worst after electrical shock in my opinion, my husband and I came up with a game plan.  He'd go first and I'd start across when he reached the other side of the barrier in the middle, I'd give him my hand under the wall and without hesitation, he'd drag me under it to the other side regardless of any fight and/or refusal on my part.  Let's just say we both lived up to what we agreed to do and my head disappeared under the ice as I was yelling, "NO!!!!  I changed my...."  gasp.

Tough Mudder might want to consider on-site marriage counselors.

Unlike Kentucky in October, which reached a high of 48 degrees...maybe...Ohio in April was mid-sixties, sunny and beautiful!  So that's what I focused my mind on when my right ankle started rolling.  Repeatedly.  Run, ankle roll, run, ankle roll, run, ankle roll.  Get the idea or should I continue?  As annoying as it is to read, imagine living it.  I knew I was but one ankle roll away from protruding a bone and I suspected God was up there going, "This was not my idea, girlfriend" and at the 8-mile mark when I pulled my groin muscle, I'm pretty sure He threw one of these: 
Yep.  I pulled my groin.  Or as Lissa likes to say, I sprained my vagina.  In Kentucky, I injured my shoulder.  Let me go on the record as saying, Vagina trumps Shoulder. 

The last 2 miles of the course was pretty much lost on me and it was all I could do just to make it to the end.  So when I arrived at the final obstacle, the live electrical wires you have to run through to get to the finish line, I over-thought it, freaked myself out and tried to go around, only to be told that I couldn't finish if I didn't do it. 
And then I burst into tears. 
If that's not 'badass' I don't know what is. 

In an absolute demonstration of sacrificial love, Lissa and my husband, who'd already gone through the electrical wires and completed the course, appeared by my side and went through them again, with me and for me.  John 15:13 in action, peeps.  "Greater love has no one than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends."  Or run through live wires containing 10,000 volts of electricity twice, which is basically the same thing. 

Somewhere in the middle, I got hit several times in a row, went down in the mud and ended up crawling to the finish.  Instead of a blaze of glory, I went down in a blaze of electricity and crawled away with a sprained vagina and an orange head band lopsidedly wrapped around my mud caked head.  Mudder-ly humiliating. 

'Badass' or no, this course kicked mine.

So here's my take away from this experience:
1.  Twelve hours after a Mudder, a 19 year old boy will complain of a blister...a 41 year old woman will be unable to lift herself off the toilet by her own power. 
2.  God does not hug with 'Eye Of The Tiger.'
3.  Two similar situations can have two very different results depending on if you're led there by God or by the dangling bait of hot pink zebra pants.
4.  The reason you forget the pain of childbirth is because hospitals offer epidurals...Tough Mudder does not.

Next up:  Throw Momma From The Plane, in T-10 days.  I'll know which way it's gonna go depending on which song I hear on the drive down there.

Get thee behind me, Eye Of The Tiger.