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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Looking back or pressing forward…

Looking back or pressing forward

Recently, one Wednesday morning, I learned a lesson while walking through my neighborhood with Hudson .  As most of you know, I get to keep Hudson on Wednesday’s during school while his mommy teaches 6th graders at Bonham Middles School. 

Hudson is a very busy boy, he does not sit still very well, and for the most part that includes time in a stroller.  He takes everything in…the sights, the noises, the people we pass on our walk…Hudson watches everything.  But often he makes me and my grandmother’s heart, nervous by looking behind him.  He strains against his restraints and leans out as far as possible so that he can get another look at the sights we have just passed by.

While watching him squirm to turn around I tried to figure out how to make his ride more enjoyable. A way to make it more comfortable so he could look at the sights he was seeking without contorting into all positions… I was actually trying to decide how I could turn his stroller around and somehow “pull” it behind me, all the while thinking I wanted to invest in a wagon because I thought it would be easier to pull and Hudson could turn any direction he wanted in order to look at the sights.

And suddenly, in the middle of trying to figure out how I could better accommodate my grandson and make his desire to look at what was behind us more comfortably, I realized that is just the opposite of what my Father in heaven does for me. 

Looking at what is behind us; trying to focus on what we have already walked through, whether missed opportunities or times of enjoyment and victory can cause us to miss so much of what we are actually experiencing in the present, or even looking to the future and being able to prepare for what is coming our way.

As we strolled through the neighborhood, there was a man mowing a lawn. He tried so hard to get Hudson to wave and smile at him, but it wasn’t until we had walked past the house that Hudson decided to turn around and wave and yell, “Hola!” to the man who had returned his attention to the job at hand. It seemed like a missed opportunity for Hudson, and he just kept turning around in his seat trying to get one last wave in at the man, who was no longer paying looking at him. However, because of the layout of our neighborhood, our morning walk brought us back around, and we walked by the same house two more times.  Both times, Hudson, saw the man before we got to the house and began waving and yelling, “Hola!” all the way, until we had passed him by.  Hudson learned from his past, and he recognized a missed opportunity. The fact that I had not figured out a way to make it easier and more comfortable for Hudson to focus on what was behind him, forced him to face the road ahead. And this helped him to see an opportunity to seize a missed moment.  An opportunity to say hello and wave before it was too late!

That is an outlook that I am trying to cultivate… Pressing forward.  No lingering looks behind me. Learning from my mistakes.  Not wallowing in self pity and self hatred. Enjoying where God has placed me today, right now.  Searching the horizon for opportunities.

Philippians 3:13-15
No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you.

Friday, August 30, 2013

The start of school always makes me nostalgic...

Back to school memories

As students, teachers and staff are all headed back to school this week, I have been thinking about how this time of year has changed for me over the years. Other than when they went to Mother’s Day Out, I always hated back to school.

Mother’s Day Out was fairly easy for me because the children were not required to be there at a certain time, therefore,  arrival time was not a pressure point for me… but then when they graduated up to Kindergarten, things were a little more hectic…I am a person who naturally rebels against the constraints of “being on time.”  It is a problem, could be a sickness even…if there were pills I could take to make me “be on time”, I would own stock in the company now (or at the very least, Cody would). I want to be punctual; or maybe I want to WANT to be punctual- but it is seriously one of the hardest obstacles in my life.  It is not that I am incapable of making it somewhere on time, it is just that it takes more effort for me than it does for normal people (or at least that is what I have always told myself ) It is a problem that runs amuck within our family, and tests the patience, love and acceptance of many of our friends and family. (Thank you, by the way, to those who have stuck it out and continued to love us in spite of our tardiness!)

Another reason the words “back to school” sent me into a private panic was the full knowledge and gripping fear of how hectic, chaotic and downright difficult it was soon going to be to live a somewhat normal life… between sports, practices, play dates, meetings, projects and homework, I knew family life would be reduced to “Hurry up!” and “Are you sure you don’t have homework?” and “Why did you get a zero for that assignment?” and “Eat your dinner fast, it is way past your bed time.”  Obviously my organizational skills are almost as impressive as my punctuality scores…In all honesty, my organizational skills might have something to do with my timing disability. I never understood how other families managed to juggle soccer practice, baseball practice, football practice, homework and still feed their families a healthy meal before 7 p.m.  I hated those moms…

But the main reason I hated the start of a new school year was because it always marked one more year less that I had with my children; and one step further they were stepping away from me and one step closer to walking out my front door and becoming adults. 

And yet, the first day of school also brought positive emotions! I always looked forward to what I thought was going to be a “scheduled routine.”(Now looking back, I realize with 3 kids involved in all of their own activities…there is no routine.) I always planned to start getting up early, making a healthy breakfast, packing healthy lunches and getting everyone out the door with a smile on my face and a hug for all.  I envisioned myself being the mom that said, “I love you,” in a happy voice as they walked out the door or got out of my car.  All of these awesome dreams and plans were always shattered by about the 8th day of school. Everyone grumbled about breakfast, or did not get up and ready in time to eat it, so therefore I was serving it to them on the go while yelling, “Hurry Up!” Lunches were replaced with dishing out the money for “hot lunch” from school, or telling them to make their own as it seemed my children were incapable of returning home with their empty lunch boxes or containers… and when I did receive them, they were filled with rotten, untouched, but healthy meals.  And sweet, “I love you!”’s were replaced with “Where did you last see your homework?!”  “No! You did not tell me I needed to wash your uniform!” “Are you kidding me? You need what by when?!”  Of course all of this was followed with an “I love you, I hope you have a great day!”  But the emotional impact of the words was always a little dulled by the events of the morning.

I was always also excited to see what the year would bring for each of my children…new friends? New found passion for a subject? New talents and gifts discovered? New teachers? New sports seasons?  It was a new beginning. A fresh, brand new year!! I was excited to see what my kids would do with it and what new memories we would make!

And now that my kiddo’s are all adults and no longer in school, I can say with certainty that I enjoyed those times well… they were the best of times and the worst of times…

As I was raising my children, my mom began a career as a County Judge.  She always told me that being a judge was a very stressful job, but that the most stressful job she ever had was raising her kids…and, while I have never been a judge, I agree that raising kids is the most stressful job I have ever tried to attempt.

Now, the first day of school means the beginning of a busy, full time job for many of my dearest friends and family- including my daughter, daughter-in-love, sister, sister-in-law, brother-in-laws, nieces, cousins, and best friend.  I always feel like I need to drop everything I can in order to help them get back in the saddle and ready for a new school year. My heart is heavy with dread and light with excitement as they face the first day of school.  And in honor of everyone starting a new schedule and routine- I always try to start off on a good foot… I WILL BE AT WORK BY 9 (or 9:30)…I WILL MAKE US A HEALTHY BREAKFAST (even though I may be the only one to eat it, and I might eat it at my desk) I WILL PACK US A HEALTHY LUNCH (Although homemade salad can easily be traded for a burger, Chick-fil-A or a Fat Charlie’s Chicago dog! And even though I no longer have students in my family, only teachers… I still find myself praying for everyone!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Attack of the Heart Part 3

Lessons Learned
Everyone kept asking me if Cody is emotional since his heart attack.  The answer is no- that would be me.  Everyone kept asking me if Cody seems depressed since his heart attack.  Again, no- that would be me. I have been emotional, depressed and full of guilt. I was full of guilt because I was in Muleshoe when it happened. I was full of guilt because I did not have enough control to get it together and comfort my children and give them strength.  Guilty because my cooking had clogged his artery.  Guilty because I was not able to talk him into going to the doctor when I started worrying about him a couple of months ago…guilt.guilt.guilt. I was drowning in my own emotional cesspool.
 This is Cody in the hospital, waiting for the dr. to come in and pretending that he is drinking a Monster Drink... too soon for giggles and laughs in my mind...

I have tried to laugh about it; to join in the joking and finding humor in all of the little details; and to adopt the lighthearted attitude that Cody has taken.  But it has all been forced and fake.  See, I have had a plan for my life- and it did not include a life without Cody.  I have already planned to go home to Jesus before him. (Seriously, I have even quizzed him about what his marital status will be once he has gone through the proper grieving time after my demise) And my plan includes many more years on this earth with this man who holds my heart…
But as I have been in the midst of throwing a fit of fear, despair, anger and guilt… my God has recently reached down, taken my face in His hands and said, “Listen here little girl…I have  a plan for your life; and MY plan is way better than your plan, because MY LOVE for you is perfect. “  (He said it calmly, but sternly…) And He also said, “Take your focus off of yourself, and place it back on Me.” And He gave me these words from scripture, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
It is never easy for me to take my focus off of myself… but it is crucial for all of my relationships, not just the one I have with my Lord and Savior, that I do just that. But God is always so faithful to guide me out of my self-centered rain forest… and this time He has been so gentle.  We recently finished up our summer Bible study of the Psalms of Ascent- as I looked back over the study and the things I have learned this summer my own answer to a question re-enforced what God had so clearly spoken in my heart last week.
Have you discovered a strong relationship in the concept of the statement Where I look impacts How I feel? If so, how? Try to get specific.  “If I look to anything or anyone other than God- my feelings are self-centered.”    Hmmm…

The Lord my God is perfect and all powerful…”I look up to the mountains-does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber.  Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.” Psalm 121:1-4.
Cody is doing incredible.  We walk together 3 to 4 mornings a week, and I am shoving chicken, fruits and vegetables down his throat as much as I can.  Recently my mother-in-law told me that Cody has always been a quick healer, however, she believes that this recovery had more to do with the hand of God, and I agree.  Cody’s time here is not over, and I am so thankful that it is not.
I faced one of my greatest fears on July 2, 2013 and I have come to terms with it this summer… see, Cody may have been the one that had the heart attack, but I am the one who had the heart change.  God, in His mercy, has once again pointed me straight to Him.  And once again, I have been reminded that I can do all things through Him who gives me strength. As I looked back over the spring and summer, including our summer Bible study, I can see so clearly how God was preparing me for this journey…He was pruning, watering and fertilizing my heart with His love and His words so that at the perfect time in my life they would not return void to me, but instead, they would return with healing power to help change my heart.
If I will only remember where my help comes from, I know that I can walk through this life with all it’s trials and tribulations.  No matter what comes my way, I just need to keep my eyes on my God.  I recently heard a story about a man who had changed his prayer from, “God use me and my life.” To “God make me usable.”  What a powerful prayer. I pray I have the courage and the faith to pray that with a pure heart.





Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Attack of the Heart-  Part Two

Getting Home

I am not sure how most people handle this news or this type of situation. But looking back, I feel like I handled it in a way that resembled an insane fit.  I know that I handled it with very little control…but as I ended the first phone call from David, my mom asked me what I wanted to do, I asked for them to pray…and they did… right there in the back yard with me…we joined hands and hearts and began to pray. I gave my phone to Lynnsay and told her to call our pastor, Ryan to tell him what was going on. And he immediately notified the prayer team…

Lynnsay and my mom made phone calls to family members.  Lynnsay spoke with her husband, H.B.  and her brothers. I had told David to call Karen and Bobby Luckett to come to the hospital.  Even though they are both grown men and they were handling the situation with incredible maturity and calmness, I wanted someone else to be there with them, someone else who was questioning the doctors, someone else who would tell me everything about Cody, and his prognosis.  Looking back, I realize that it was the first time in my life that I could not put the feelings of my children before my own…I did not have the capacity to protect them or comfort them, I was a like a dried out sponge and all I could do was soak up…As Lynnsay looked at me with fear and sadness in her eyes and tried to comfort me, I had no strength to pull it together and try to alleviate her fears, comfort her heart, or relieve her of the burden of holding me together… all I could do was absorb comfort and strength from everyone around me.

I don’t know how we got it together, I have no idea what the time line was with everything… I only know that at some point my dad told my mom to make a pot of coffee and that he was taking me home. We were in my car heading to Temple by 11:30…  the two hours between the first phone call from David and when I looked at the clock in the car, my life had rushed by with only moments of  clarity. At some point  I talked to my sister, Stephanie, and my brother, Brandon…I spoken at least once to my sons Jacob and David; I know I called my dearest friend, Karen, my sister-in-law, Susan, and my cousin, Kaylenn. But, looking back, I have very little that I can recall from any of those conversations.  I had cuddled with my mom on the couch as she told me that I was her little girl, and poured love and support into my very starving soul…Lynnsay held my hand while she tried to calm me with her hugs and her words..and,  I survived. I survived by soaking up the love and the prayers (and a couple of shots of whiskey I requested from my dad). As we headed toward Temple, I was beginning to find the strength I had been searching for, the strength I had been praying for, to climb out of the pit of fear and despair…

We were well on our way home when I began receiving the phone calls that everything went well … one of Cody’s major arteries was 97% blocked and at the time of the heart attack; I believe they call his heart attack a “widow maker”…the blockage had been removed, and they had placed a stint in the artery…All reports were that he was doing great and in incredible spirit! Karen said that he did not even look like he had suffered a heart attack…Ryan called to tell me not to hurry home (too late for that piece of advice, we were already nearly to Lubbock)

By the time we got to Lubbock, Cody had tried to call my cell phone twice, but I could not hear him… and I wanted so badly to hear his voice… but I got a text from him… and it is my favorite text message I have ever received… I read it over and over again… all the way home, I would open my messages and read it…I still read it probably once a day.

I did get to talk to Cody, somewhere between Post and Sweetwater… I had never been so happy to hear his voice…he was laughing and cracking jokes and seemed genuinely happy that we were on our way home.

After Cody made it through his procedure with flying colors, I think the prayer warriors began to intercede for our safe travel home. Daddy wanted me to sleep so badly, but there was just no way I could. I was the d.j. and tried to keep my dad awake by playing music from my phone.  Thankfully, earlier in the evening, BEFORE the heart attack, I had successfully downloaded his new favorite song, which we listened to several times.

We got home, safe and sound, thanks to my dad.  Hudson slept like the sweet baby he is, all of the way home… and Lynnsay was able to get some sleep.  I received several text messages and phone calls from David and one from Cody as they were keeping up with our ETA.  David reported that Cody was still doing great and that he and Katherine were just chilling with him in his ICU hospital room.

We dropped my dad off at the house to get some sleep and I gathered a few things that Cody had requested and we headed to the hospital. 

HB and David met us in the parking lot, and we handed Hudson off to HB and headed up to Cody’s room.  Cody was in ICU, sitting up in his bed and engrossed in a deep conversation with Katherine.  He did not look like he had survived a brush with death.  He was laughing and making jokes.  He did not look like he had been awake all night… and he certainly did not look like a man who had just survived a terrifying ordeal…I, on the other hand, looked like I had suffered more than a heart attack.  I smelt like I had experienced a brush with death… I was not smiling and laughing… in fact, I was finding it hard to find anything about the situation that was amusing…I was scared. I was exhausted. And I had no clue what to do with all of the fear I had shoved into the depths of my soul.

As I saw him for the first time I wanted to run and jump on him and smother him with hugs and kisses- and part of me was scared of how fragile his life now felt to me.  I have spent the last month struggling to make sense of all of the emotions I have been forced to face.

 I have learned that we all went through an emotional tornado… and we all have to recover o n our own terms…

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Attack of the Heart: Part One

The Attack of the Heart:  Part One
The Phone Call
As I sit here tonight in my bed, watching t.v. with my husband, and our dogs are all snuggled in with us, it is hard to process that just a little over a month ago we were separated by 400 miles and as Cody was recovering from a heart attack, I was struggling to make sense of my world while the people around me were trying to give me support and making the decisions about how to get me home…
Our Fourth of July plans were to spend it in Muleshoe, followed by a weekend in Lubbock; Lynnsay, Hudson and I were already there. We had arrived on Monday in order to spend a little extra time with friends and family we had not seen in a while. We were looking forward to Cody, H.B. and David joining us on Wednesday night. We had been at my parent’s house for just over 24 hours, and as usual, communication with Cody had been sparse.  
I always joke that when Cody and I are in separate towns “he goes dark”… which if you know him at all, you know that communication is not his strength…so random text messages, generally about our business are pretty much all I expect.  I never expect him to answer my phone calls, and I am never surprised when a text message goes without a response…so the fact he did not answer my phone call Tuesday evening was no concern… and the fact that there was no response to my text messages was also no reason for alarm…but the phone call I received around 9:30 from my son, David, that conversation brought my world to a stand still.
“Mom, everything is ok for now; but we were moving Jacob and Katherine and Dad had a heart attack. He is having a heart attack.  But we are at the hospital and he is talking.” 
I jumped out of my chair and proceeded to spiral into a hole of fear and the only question I really remember asking was, “What?!! WHAT?!”  My mind began to run away, and my body followed it out the door into my parents’ backyard…but I could not get away from the words David was saying. Cody was having a heart attack.
As I tried to make sense out of what my son was saying to me, my mom, dad and daughter were following me around trying to piece together what I was saying. They were trying to understand what was causing me to fall into hysterics…
A phone conversation that started at 9:30 and probably lasted less than 5 minutes changed my life.  The next 24 hours were the darkest fog I have ever tried to walk through, and honestly, I am still walking through patches of it…most of the time it is a light haze, but sometimes so thick that it blinds me and fills me with fear.
I fell in love with Cody almost immediately…he claims he believes in “love at first sight” and that he knew that he loved me the first time we spent a day together… Regardless of when we both knew that our hearts were knit together forever… it was many years ago… when I was 18 and he was 22… He has been my one and only; my compass pointing me north; my love; my happiness; my dreams come true… he has been, and still is my everything. We have built a relationship, life and family together for the last 30 years…It is simple, complicated, easy, hard, peaceful, hateful, selfless and selfish. Our life has been full of laughter, love and tears.
Following the phone conversation, in order to gather myself, I went to wash my face and I looked at my reflection in the mirror at my parent’s house, the same mirror I looked into as a teenager, the same mirror I looked into when I came home, so many years ago and relived our first kiss, feeling so lucky that he had made me feel special and that he had actually kissed me… As I stood there with the wash rag in my hand and the water running in the sink, my present crashed with my past and suddenly the memories came flooding back to me…happy memories that were suddenly unwelcome thoughts…they kept hitting me like punches in my gut, I literally felt the breath being knocked out of my body, and I simply could not stand up.  As I sat on the floor, reliving our life everything ended with me picking our grandson, Hudson, up off the floor  the morning we were leaving to head to Muleshoe, because he was crying for his Pops who was walking out the door to go to work…and how Cody’s eyes danced with happiness over the fact that he was the “chosen one”…Cody, my love, my children’s daddy and my grandbabies’  Pops; the man I had admitted to myself that I was totally in love with in that very bathroom, while looking into my reflection in that very mirror… that man… my man… was having a heart attack. A.Heart.Attack.At.51.FIFTYONE.  And I was 400 miles away.
My parents prayed with me as Lynnsay made phone calls… everyone was trying to decide how we should get home… fly? Drive? Wait until tomorrow? There was still some silly voice in my head that kept saying, “It is dumb to go back, he will be here tomorrow with HB and David.” And I remember at one point telling my mom that maybe he was not really having a heart attack- “He has had a hiatal hernia for years- I bet that is what it is.  I am sure that he has not eaten well while I have been gone.” My precious mom, only wanting to take care of me, tried to agree with me…as she worked so hard to give me some sort of peace, some sort of comfort…
And then Lynnsay received a phone call from David and came to tell me, “David said they have taken Dad to the operating room and he will call us as soon as he knows anything else.”  My loose grip on peace and calm which was based solely on false hope slipped out of my control…and, as I was surrounded by people who loved me the most, I fell apart. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


April 16, 2013
A really crummy day… that is what I feel like the sum total of my day is today… Cody is out of town, spending some much needed time with his family- so that leaves me as the “substitute teacher” at work- taking on his “hands on” responsibilities in addition to my own. His trip was fairly last minute, and while I knew he was trying to get away, I did not know until I got to the office yesterday that he was leaving after lunch. We are fairly busy right now, and in the middle of  trying to complete several projects, so that caused a tad bit of stress on everyone as we were all scrambling to get our instructions as he walked out the door.
Monday afternoon- fairly smooth sailing. Tuesday morning, not so much… after a very fun and entertaining ride to Aubrey’s school (one of the highlights of my day- especially when she told us her “hair wouldn’t do anything.”) everything headed south. We soon found out that Temple High was on lockdown (they are right next to our building) and later found out that a student had brought a gun to school and shot himself… a tragedy that could have been much worse had the young man decided to use the gun on other students before turning it on himself.
Following that, things just continued to go wrong…ending with a bunked up job;  all of the VB employees (two of which happen to be my sons and one me) frustrated and trying to problem solve without the brains of the operation, Cody, here… only to talk to him and find out all of our “problem solving” had just been a waste of time…Experience is key…
As I have said before, working with your spouse, your sons and your “extended” family has its ups and downs… it is often stressful.  Many days I feel like I am trying to please 3 Crittenden men (because I am) and most days I feel like I am trying (but not succeeding) at taking care of everything… Today was one of those days…
At the end of the day, I came home- worked out with Lynnsay and our trainer… mowed my back yard (riding lawnmower-Cody is out of town, my first time to use it!) and dug in the dirt to plant flowers. As I sat on my back porch, watching the last bit of daylight fade away, enjoying the fruits of my labor as well as a glass of  the fruit of the vine…the sting of the work day began to fade with the daylight. The sting was replaced with burning muscles and aching  joints.  Exhaustion crept up on me and I welcomed the fact that sleep would soon be my refuge and hoped that tomorrow will be a much better day…actually I know it will be- it is after all, Hump day with Hudson!! And my husband is coming home!!!
April 23, 2013
A week later…after reflecting on my crummy day, I realize that there was more to my emotional distress than just a bad day at the office.
My day actually began shadowed by the fact that my husband was away and dealing with heart wrenching situations, while I was here, helpless and useless, unable to give him any support. So instead I put all of my energy and effort into our business, concentrating on helping and supporting Cody by taking that burden off of his shoulders. Something I thought I could control. Epic fail. So, instead of being the “Heroic Wife”, I slowly began to fall into a pit of self disappointment.  Without realizing it, I had put the burden of failure on my shoulders.  Failure as a wife.  Failure as a business partner. Failure as Cody’s helper/completer. And what is worse is that I began responding to Cody as if that was how he was seeing me as well.
At some point I had lost sight of my position in life.  I had bumped myself right up from Cody’s helper/completer- to God’s helper/completer.  I had very successfully taken the responsibility of “taking care” of my husband and placed it on my shoulders.  I had wrestled in prayer for Cody, but my heart was not completely trusting in the fact that God was holding him in the palm of His hands, which was my prayer. Instead, I had somehow switched my prayer from that, to pleading for God to show me how I can protect and take care of my husband.  I was putting myself in between God and Cody, and very cleverly making “me” the center of my prayer. Guess what?  God very successfully moved right around me and left me in my pool of self pity. And while He held Cody in the palm of His hands and comforted him, He patiently waited for me to look up and cry out to Him from my pit of failed attempts to be His helper.  And he is faithful and he is just.  He gently pulled me out, cared for my bruised self-esteem and put me back in my place.  He gently showed me, as He has hundreds of times,   that He is God, and I am not; He sent us the Comforter, and it is the Holy Spirit, not me.  I need to just be Cody’s wife and business partner.  I need to be Cody’s helper/completer. I wonder how many times I am going to have to learn this lesson?  Probably at least one more time…

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Easter Changes

Years ago Cody and I decided (I say “Cody and I”, but I am not sure it was actually a joint decision… I think Cody may have agreed out of self preservation) to boycott Easter church services, but instead celebrate Easter in a non-traditional way.  Our, (my) reasoning was simple…I found myself too caught up in the holiday and had lost focus of the holy day… I had gotten so caught up in Easter outfits, Easter baskets, Easter meal, Easter eggs….the picture perfect family at the Easter service; I lost sight of the cross and of the meaning of the celebration.

The great awakening for me was the Easter when Jacob was about 4 years old and Lynnsay was 3. I had undertaken the job of making Lynnsay’s Easter dress. (And I HATE to sew…) It was adorable. Laura Ashley McCall’s Pattern #7113.  I even had used Laura Ashley fabric, yellow print for the dress and a coordinating yellow floral for the pinafore apron… She was going to look like a doll.  And what is more, is my mom had made Jacob a pair of adorable yellow seersucker pants with suspenders.  They were going to be quiet the Easter pair!  My two beautiful babies…until the Vaseline incident…
No need to go into detail about the incident…just saying that Easter I was certain that my beautiful daughter (who now has incredible hair) was never going to have anything but a greasy mess on her head.  My Easter Sunday was spent full of emotions- but none of them was fixated on the actual meaning of Easter.  I never once thought about the sacrifice of the cross.  I never once thought about the price that Jesus paid for my sins.  I never once thought about the miracle of the empty tomb. I never once focused on the new life I have in Christ.  I was consumed with my failure as a mother…I did not have the picture perfect family...

The next year we had the opportunity to go to Lake Buchanan and “camp” with my grandparents, and we took it.  My mom’s parents, my Mudgee and BigDaddy were retired and they would bring their travel trailer to Lake Buchanan for several weeks during the spring.  Cody and I started the tradition of joining them at Lake Buchanan for Easter weekend.  Over the years “Easter at the Lake” evolved and changed… we had all of our family some years, and we had minimal family some years.  But it became a Crittenden Clan tradition…We had our own worship service. My parents and grandparents gave their testimonies.  My BigDaddy made me a cross that we could “bloom” on Easter morning with wildflowers signifying the new life we have in Christ… Our Easters were focused on the holy day that we were celebrating, even though my kids were filthy, dressed in raggy clothes and usually barefoot.
Later, after my grandparents passed away, and the rest of our family began celebrating Easter at “home”…we continued to celebrate our Easters at Lake Buchanan with our “Temple Cousins” the Lucketts at their lake house… The time we spent at the Luckett  Lake House cemented the bonds between our families… our children have made lifelong memories together at that house… and so have Cody, Bobby, Karen and I… that house, weekends there, Easter in particular, molded us into a family.
However, as time has passed, our children have grown up, most of them have married and all but one of them now have their own children.  For the past couple of Easters it has been obvious that the Crittenden clan has over-crowded the Luckett Lakehouse and I am pretty sure, that we have overtaken the Luckett Easter… So after a couple of years of bringing tents, pop up campers and trying to “fit” in it became clear that the Crittenden Clan  once again needed to make a change to our Easter tradition.

This year, for the first time in as long as I can remember- the we stayed “home” for Easter while the other half of our Temple family, the Luckett’s, were able to enjoy Easter in a not so packed and crowded Lakehouse.

We all missed being at the lake… we each missed being with the Luckett’s immensely… we are a family that does not let go of “traditions” easily so the weekend was under a shadow of “I wish we were at the lake” thoughts.

 But God is really amazing…and our Easter weekend was pretty awesome.  My parents were here, and they got to celebrate Easter with their great- grands in the same way that my Mudgee and BigDaddy did with our family at Lake Buchanan years ago.  I was able to serve at our church during the Eggstravaganza which both of my grandbabies enjoyed, and, also, just happened to be Hudson’s first Easter Egg Hunt. We enjoyed a shrimp boil and games of washers with our family and friends in our back yard (first shrimp boil in our new house)… and we went to the Easter service at our church on Sunday with our family. Following our wonderful worship and celebration service at church, we had a great family lunch at my cousin, Kaylenn’s house with the Crittenden Clan, my parents, my Aunt Sandy and Uncle Mike and a new member at Foundation, Cederick… and (I think, thanks to Blythe’s prayers) there was no rain to keep another Easter egg hunt from happening! It was a great day and a great way to celebrate the miracle of the cross… it was full of worship, love and family. The miracle of the cross and the resurrection of our Savior was the center of my heart. My focus on Jesus and the Holy day was not overshadowed by “picture perfect” expectations.  Maybe I have grown up a little and matured some in my faith...then again, maybe my children have just all grown up.... (and now that they have families of their own, are insisting we go back to the lake next Pelican Pointe here we come!)