mrsmomdragon

Sharing my adventures, thoughts and occassional jokes. Sorting through laundry, and a little bit of life…This is How I Train My Dragons…

The Simple Smell of Dirt

Last night I went for a run. Yes, me…a run. When I got the urge, it wasn’t because I’m trying to get fit (because I am), it was more so because I needed to clear my mind. I had just spent an hour on the internet looking at different positions that are open within the school district. All of which I kept coming to the same conclusion…”I’m not qualified”.

As I was looking, a little voice in my head kept telling me, “Nope. There’s no way you can do that” or “What makes you think you should even be looking” and even “You’ll never be more than just a sub…nothing more.” My favorite one is, “You graduated a year ago…why don’t you know what you want to be when you grow up?” “Loser”.

Let me rewind a little. On Sunday, our pastor spoke about spiders in our life. Not real spiders, but the ones that cause destruction in our lives…the ones that constantly spin a web of lies. He said, “If you are unsure of what your spider is, ask your family.” So, at the end of church I asked Emaleigh what my spider was and she said, “Doubt and negativity getting the best of you.” How could I disagree with her when I knew that she was right. I am a very “glass is half full” kind of person with everyone around me, but when it comes to myself, I tend to have this fear and doubt of feeling inadequate with things I pursue. It’s kind of funny because once I complete certain tasks that I originally had doubts about (starting a blog, getting my college degree, joining worship team) I come to realize that these things are the most rewarding in the end because I see how God uses those who feel this way.

So, let me rewind a little more. The last day of one of my long term sub gigs I had a student tell me (after a few other choice words) that I “wasn’t even a real teacher…I was just a sub.” I did my best to blow it off and not let it get to me, but I guess I have let it sink a little deeper than I thought. I allowed a young, naive girl to determine my worth. As I was telling Ray why I was going for a run, he even said, “Honey, do NOT let that girl get to you!” (My husband and family have always been my number one fans…when I doubt myself, they push me because they know I’m better than believing the lies.)

So, back to last night. (Do you feel like you have whiplash from all of the back and forth?) To get my mind out of my stinking thinking attitude, I decided to go for a run. Don’t let the word “run” fool you because I definitely didn’t run the whole time. I put on a worship playlist, made it just down our road, took a turn on the dirt road in between two field and got an huge whiff of freshly plowed dirt. Immediately, the words, growth, renewed, and beginning came into my mind. Fresh dirt is one of my favorite smells, but it’s less to do with the scent, and more to do with what it means. It’s getting prepared for a new crop to grow and eventually be harvested.

As I was thinking about the dirt (weird thing to think about, I know) I began to pay close attention to my playlist that I had set to random. The first song that came on was, “I Will Rise”, then “Speak Life”, and then “You Never Let Go”.

So, now I began thinking about the songs which is nice because I wasn’t thinking about how much my legs were burning. The first song talks about rising when you are called by God (I actually think it’s about passing away, but my interpretation last night was more of a rise to fulfill your calling). The second songs reminds us to speak life into everyone around you. You never know what words you speak to someone will eventually become their “spider”…so instead, be the light and speak life! The third song reminds us that God will always have our back and He will never let go.

God is so good. Through these songs and a little run/breath of fresh air, He simply reminded me that I am qualified because He is the true qualifier and I will not let others put restrictions on my life because of words they speak to me. He is the voice of truth, no one else.

I was able to return home with such a different mindset. I know I may be “just a sub”, but this past year I have done some serious growing and I feel like this is the beginning of where I am supposed to be. I also know that being “just a sub” is a lie that I have allowed to try to rob the joy I have found in it. I am more than just a sub. I am a woman who cares so deeply for the children that I have met throughout this year. I am a woman who gets a huge smile when the kids run up to me with arms open wide and say, “Mrs. Mondragon!” I am a woman who at the beginning of the year was a little uncomfortable in a class room, but now I don’t even think twice about it. I am a woman who has made some really good teacher friends being in the schools.  I am a woman who has a lot of growing to do to figure out what I truly want to do in life…but I know my soil is in good hands.

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Let the Nudge Budge You

A little over two years ago, I felt a little “nudge” in my spirit. It caught me off guard because this quiet whisper in my soul was to do something that I never thought I could do.

At the time, I was serving in the church nursery where I had served since we began attending Mosaic. I was comfortable there. One day, there was a tug on my heart and I heard, worship team. Haha, right. The girl who is extremely uncomfortable in front of others? The girl who never went for the solos in high school? The same girl who was currently struggling in college with the amount of oral presentations that she needed to give? The girl who immediately turns red when asked to pray in a group? No way would God have been talking to me. That little nudge must have been directed at someone else and I just happened to get in the way of that. There is NO WAY that God would call me to do something that would make me so uncomfortable…I mean, He knows my fear of public speaking right? Being on a worship team ON STAGE can’t be too far from that!

Anyway, with a little encouragement from Ray, I decided to sing a duet with him to ease into it a little bit. Although I felt like my legs were spaghetti, my face was as red as a tomato, and I am pretty sure that I sped up the song just to get it over with…I did it. A few weeks went by and the worship leader, Caleb said, “Hey, I think you’re ready to lead a song!”

Whaaaaaat? (In my best minion voice) “God, I was totally ok with being a background singer, you know that right?” Ugh. Of course He does. But, I listened and I actually led some songs. I remember one week Caleb scheduled me for a song that normally another girl sang. A girl with some serious pipes! I mean, she was good.  All of the insecurities and unworthiness began to creep in and I remember messaging him saying that I wasn’t sure I was comfortable singing her song because she was SO GOOD and I didn’t want to mess it up! I will never forget the text that I got back from him that said, “Caiti, we all have different voices, but everyones needs to be heard. You’re going to do great.” Isn’t it funny how with just a little encouragement from your friends and loved ones, your whole perspective can change?

Although originally, the thought of the worship team scared me to death, I thank God for placing me on that team. I have made new friends, grown as an individual, and have been able to be a part of something so much bigger than me.

I’m not going to say that it has been a piece of cake because I’m learning so much about myself as I go along, or that I don’t second guess myself sometimes (like when I forget a complete verse of a song)…but, I will say that it has been easier because I know who is within me, and I know Who these songs are being sung for. Yes, public speaking still ranks #1 on my list of Caiti’s Scariest Things, but being on stage during worship is nothing like that.

As I was thinking about this, I thought about another time that I felt a similar nudge. I had all of these stories to share and I felt a stir-start a blog. Again, I let all of the doubt settle in. Who am I to write a blog and really who would read my silly stories? But guess what, starting this blog was one of the best things I have ever done. Not only has it been healing for me, but I truly believe that through these words, others are able to heal a little as well…even if it’s just through laughter.

I’ve learned that God wants to push us. Not to embarrass us or make us uncomfortable…but because He knows we can do it!God has a really good way of revealing things within us that we never knew were even there. But with His nudges and whispers we slowly learn what we truly are capable of doing.

If you feel like you are being nudged, don’t ignore it because you don’t feel like you’re qualified or because you may feel that there is someone else better for the job. He knows what He’s doing…pay attention to those nudges and trust the process.

 

 

 

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Chicken Mommin’ Aint Easy

Ever since we moved out to the farm, I casually talked to Ray about “someday” having chickens. I’m not sure when or why I decided that chickens needed to be in our life, but I knew my “someday” would come. Who wouldn’t want an animal that poops breakfast?? Kidding…kind of.

Back in May, we had some friends of ours offer us their 3 chickens as well as their homemade coop! I was over the moon excited, or as one might say, pretty clucking stoked. Anyway, the day before I graduated the chicks were dropped off. Since there were 3, obviously each of the kids picked one. Emaleigh picked Nugget, Elijah picked Ash, and Eydan picked Hei-Hei.

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I still giggle because when we put them in their coop I remember my sweet husband asking if we needed to let them out “to go potty”. We are so used to how dogs operate, we still needed to all familiarize ourselves with how chickens work.  The kids and I would sit outside in their little pen for hours watching them and (eventually) holding them. After a few weeks, I decided to make them a shady area in their pen. There was some wood on top of the coop that I used to hold down a corner piece of a tarp that I had tied down on the opposite side of the fence. The kids and I were all in the pen when all of the sudden the wind picked up. Seriously, the next 30 seconds were like in slow motion so I’m going to tell it just like that.

I looked over at the coop and the wind picked up the tarp (remember the wood on top?) Yep, you guessed it. A piece of the wood flew up and before I could even catch it or reach for it (I’ve been told I have the reflexes of an elephant) it landed…on top of Ash’s neck. As quickly as I could, I picked up the wood and she began to hop up and down with a very loose neck. I ran inside to tell Ray, thinking he might have a great idea. Nothing. So, I ran back outside and within 10 seconds she stopped jumping and just died. I looked up at the kids and we all just started bawling. By this time, Ray comes outside and says, “Well, shall I get the crockpot ready?” For those of you that know Ray, you know he likes to joke…but, we weren’t ready for any yolks quite yet. So, Ash got a proper burial and Ray got a kick to the shins. Sad day. Down to 2.

A few weeks later, I came out to see Nugget eating her food and noticed drops of blood around the coop. Lots of feathers, but no Hei-Hei. I wish I knew what happened to her, but maybe it’s best that I don’t. We suspect it was fowl play. Down to 1.

A friend had told me that we should get more chickens because they need friends. So, like any other woman would do, I found a chicken on a group on facebook and met a lady to swap money and a chicken at a gas station. Seriously, I felt like I was part of some underground chicken on the down low type of swap. I literally brought a box (with no lid) to bring her home in. As Eydan and I were leaving for the cluck deal, Ray said, “Really? You’re not taking something with a lid?” Being the professional cluck dealer that I am, I assumed I would be ok. Eydan may or may not have had to put his feet on top of the chicken on our ride home, but we made it, and we welcomed home Patty. Back to 2.

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The previous owner said that Patty laid eggs so I was pretty excited. Her first egg was as big as a little robins egg…but I was still pretty pumped! I was able to make 1/2 cupcake with that egg! Totally kidding (it only made 1/4 cupcake). IMG_8170Well, we had Patty for about a month and at the beginning of the school year, we came home to find Patty sleeping behind the coop. Not a clue what happened to her, but she also got a proper burial. Back down to 1.

Screen Shot 2017-11-25 at 7.44.46 PM.pngNugget. The lone survivor. The kids joked around and said that maybe Nugget was actually the killer of the other birds because she enjoyed being by herself. She’s the bird that would get out of her pen during the day, and then when it got dark, she would put herself to bed. Such a responsible chick. Every time I would go outside, she would follow me around (always chicken me out…get it?)

Just within the last two weeks, she even let me pick her up. She started to get a little nosy and walk up towards the road, so if I was home, I’d pick her up and bring her back by the house…15 seconds later she’d be waddling as fast as she could back by the road. Unfortunately, yesterday she made it all the way to the middle of the road and died. Down to 0.

(I know, I know, -insert “why did the chicken cross the road” jokes here). As crazy as it makes me sound, she was seriously the coolest chick around. She had quite a personality and we were so used to her greeting us outside that it’s now weird to not have her out there. She was my costar in some of the silliest videos I have made…honestly I make myself laugh alot harder than I really should.  A few days before she died, I made the joke that this ugly duckling was the reason that she was going to the road.IMG_8172.jpg

So yeah, my first time at this whole chicken mama thing was kind of rough. I get attached to animals and maybe you just shouldn’t with chickens because you just never know when the wood will drop. (Face palm). But, Nugget made all of the frustration and tears worth it. We enjoyed having her around for the short time that we did. She may have been a free loader who never laid any eggs , but she was a legit mother clucker.

Next spring we will give it a go again… Tender, Molè, and Mary Poopins comin’ in hot.

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America’s Gift To My Generation 

     This blog was written by my 13 year old daughter, Emaleigh.  It was written as an essay for class and she presented it in front of her school. Thank you to all of the veterans

     Joyce Grenfell once said, “There is no such thing as the pursuit of happiness, but there is the discovery of joy. ” America gives us many gifts, and one of them is the pursuit of happiness (or should I say the discovery of joy). Joy can mean many things; a good job, money, family, or even just a nice house. America gives us joy in disguise. To one person, joy can be money and a good paying job. To another person, joy may just be family. We can all pursue happiness and fail because with true happiness you don’t have to pursue it. Or, you can discover joy. Discovering joy could be having your first child, or getting a dog, heck it could even be getting married. America gives many gifts to our generation, but what I think that the most important gift that America could have given us is the discovery of joy.  

     Another gift that America has given to us is liberty. Liberty, in the dictionary, is defined as “the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views.” So basically, it is having freedom. Freedom can have different meanings, but to make it short, it is having the right to do or say what you want. I believe that liberty is sort of like this and America has given us the amazing gift of it. In the pledge of Allegiance, we say at the end, “… with liberty and justice for all. ” This shows that we all have liberty and justice. 

     One of the last gifts I believe that America has given us it the gift of life. We have the right to live however we want. Whether it is pursuing your happiness, or using your liberty to live your best life, you need to get out there because it is life. Life doesn’t last forever, so you need to take care of it while you can. If pursuing your happiness is traveling the world, then go travel the world! If your idea of liberty is running for president, then run for president! 

Live the best life you can live; it doesn’t last forever! 

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Didn’t Know I’d Find You Here

It’s not easy leaving my Dad. The visit part has gotten much easier, and although I hate to say it, pretty routine.  But, leaving? I don’t think that will ever get easier.

This weekend we went to see him and on the way home I had some time to think as everyone else was fast asleep.  I was thinking of the excitement that we all experience when we visit…and then it’s time to leave and so many of the original emotions flood my mind. I get angry wondering why this happened. I get sad and feel sorry for everyone involved. I want to shut down.

I never knew I’d find myself here. I never knew I’d be the daughter of an inmate. I never knew that my kids would know what it’s like to go through security to visit a prison. I never knew I would sit in a room full of families, just like mine, visiting their loved ones. I never knew the hurt that could fill a room. I never knew the pain I would feel to hear my youngest ask why Grandpa never comes to visit us. It hurts. And, although leaving will never get any easier, there is now a peace in my heart. There are many things that I never knew I would experience in my life, but…

What I do know, is God has met me here. Every single feeling, God has felt with me. Every tear I have cried, God has wiped away. Throughout every part of this chapter of my life, He has been there right alongside me as each page has turned. It was in the darkest and saddest point in my life that I felt God more than ever. The part of my life where I found it difficult to get out of bed because I was so sad. The part of my life where I didn’t want to answer the phone because I was embarrassed. The part of my life where I was so afraid of what was going to happen to my family. He was there, and I know that now.

As I was driving and thinking, a song called “Find You Here” came on the radio and I couldn’t help but just cry and be thankful for everything He has done in my life. My Dad being sent to prison was never about me, and I’m not trying to make it be…but, going through this, God has shown me things about myself that I never even knew existed. The part of my life where I realized the importance of grace? Again, he met me there.

So, whatever storm you are going through, He is with you. It might be the last place that you’d ever think He’d be…but He’s there. You just have to look…and listen.

“It’s not the news that any of us hoped that we would hear
It’s not the road we would have chosen, no
The only thing that we can see is darkness up ahead
But You’re asking us to lay our worry down and sing a song instead

And I didn’t know I’d find You here
In the middle of my deepest fear, but
You are drawing near
You are overwhelming me, with peace
So I’ll lift my voice and sing
You’re gonna carry us through everything
You are drawing near
You’re overwhelming all my fears, with peace

You say that I should come to You with everything I need
You’re asking me to thank You even when the pain is deep
You promise that You’ll come and meet us on the road ahead
And no matter what the fear says, You give me a reason to be glad.”

 

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You Just Do…

I’ve always wanted multiple kids. Ever since I was a little girl, I had it planned that I would have one boy and one girl; Tristan and Shelby. Shelby was the name of my great-great grandfather and Tristan…well, that was one of Brad Pitt’s characters. Don’t judge.

Anyway, right after Emaleigh (yep, my childhood dream names went right out the window) turned a year old, we found out that we would be having another child the following June. I was excited, but I was so scared at the same time. How in the world was I supposed to split my love between my kids? I pray I’m not the only mom who had those thoughts go through her mind. Opening my heart up to our first child seemed so seamless and so easy and since we loved her SO much, how could I possibly have more love in my heart to give to another child? “Sharing my love” seems so trivial and silly now, but I can honestly say that I lost sleep over it as we prepared for our 2nd child’s arrival. We hadn’t been a family of 3 for too long, but long enough for it to be our normal.  Would Em feel less love? Would the baby get more love? Would the baby get enough love? Would Em feel left out? Would the baby feel left out? Crazy, I know.

That February, we found out the 2nd baby would actually be a boy. Wait, I’ve only had a girl, so will I know what to do with a boy? Yes, I am the little sister of 2 boys, so I know how they are…but I don’t think I’m capable of raising a boy…I’ve only began raising a girl. Yes, pregnancy brain is a real thing here people.

Well, the time came for the baby to make his arrival, and let me tell you, he was ready! We had time to get up to our room, lay down for a few moments and he was ready…I was not. After Emaleigh I swore that I would never get an epidural again, but as the contractions were getting stronger with the 2nd baby, I was beginning to have second thoughts. But, it didn’t matter what I wanted, it was too late for any medication at this point.

I don’t remember how many times I pushed with him, but it wasn’t many. At 1:23am on June 29, 2006, Elijah Augustine was born.  He was such a beautiful little…who am I kidding? He was beautiful, but he was definitely not little. He was 9 lbs and 21 inches long with a single dimple…big boy! Immediately, all of those thoughts that kept me awake so many nights before, escaped my mind. How could such a fragile little baby already have taught me so much about myself as a mama. He believed in me and knew I was capable of doing everything with no meds, and at his first breath of life he proved to me how important it is to have confidence and believe in yourself. I will forever be grateful for my Bubba (yes, that’s your nickname for life when you’re a 9 lb chunk of cuteness) and the lesson that, as a baby, he never even knew that he taught me.

Today, that same 9 lb baby, turns 11 years old. I am still in awe of all of the lessons that I have learned through his sweet spirit. He is my boy who still wants to hold my hand, snuggle his family, and use his imagination. He is the best little brother, best big brother, greatest inventor, builder, and still has his adorable dimple. He is sensitive, yet bold. He’s not afraid to take chances and is always the first in our family to suggest an adventure. He’s our Bubba.

You’ll never be able to prepare yourself for the birth of your child, and even with all of the preparations in the world, you still won’t be able to completely be ready for the love that overwhelms you when you first meet your child’s gaze. Just know that you will have infinite amounts of love in your heart, no matter how many children you have…you just do. 

Happy 11th birthday, Elijah. You are SO loved, and we Thank God for you every day.

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It Was More Than a Hashtag

IMG_5422When I enrolled at UNC 2 years ago, I knew that I would be on an unforgettable journey to finish college. To get a chuckle out of others on social media, I immediately began a hashtag dubbed, #collegelifeat33. Before long, I found myself sharing my struggles, my jokes, my experience…my real life as a college student using the hashtag.  Then, I turned 34.  Now what? I simply changed it to #collegelifeat34 and kept on sharing and pushing forward.

This past week, I printed off most of my Instagram posts where I used this hashtag. As I was putting them on a display, Ray commented that he wished he had documented his college life the way that I did. I never meant to do that, but I’m so glad that I did. Looking back through all of the photos, I could remember taking each and every one of them. Now that I have crossed the finish line, it’s hard to believe that two years has already passed. But, it has and now I can look back fondly on all of these photos and remember what it took to get here.

College is hard, and college as a non-traditional student is no joke either. But I must say that college, this second time around, was amazing. The amount of support that I have received over the past two years has been incomprehensible. I don’t know how many times over the last few days I have heard, “thank you for sharing your journey with us!”. This hashtag has allowed me to share a piece of my life with many around me and though this hashtag I have received immense amounts of inspiration and encouragement in return.

This hashtag has taught me that it’s ok to be vulnerable and show my struggles and weaknesses because it’s through them that I have learned the most about myself. This hashtag has taught me that being funny helped me get through some really long and tough assignments and papers. This hashtag has taught me that being a nontraditional student really wasn’t that bad…and I can be hip just like the youngins’ these days. This hashtag has taught me that I am surrounded by some amazing friends and family who have been nothing but supportive this entire time. This hashtag has taught me that all of the long nights were worth it and that two years really does fly by. This hashtag has taught me that I CAN do it, because I DID (and so can YOU!)

So, HUGE thanks to those that have beared (see what I did there?) with me and have been with me every step of this crazy journey that I have had the pleasure of calling #collegelifeat34.  Without knowing it, you have helped me achieve this dream of mine to become a college graduate! Once a Bear, Always a Bear!

Although I’m excited for what the future holds, I must admit that I’m really going to miss this hashtag. Signing off #collegelifeat34. #crazychickenladycomininhot

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More Than A Scrolling Name

Guys. I know you all already know, but I graduate in 43 days. Forty. Three. Days. Holy cow!

It seems like just yesterday that I was trying to get all of my paperwork in order to get back in school. All of those presentations I whined about, I got through them. All of those late nights studying, I got through them. All of those group projects (cringe), I got through those too. All of those boxes of chocolate that helped me study…oh, I got through those just fine.

Well, today, I got an email about my name being on the “ticker” at Monfort College of Business. When I read the email, I immediately starting crying. It wasn’t like a cute sniffle-here-sniffle-there kind of cry…I was UGLY crying in the Walmart parking lot. I remember a few friends of mine whose name I would see on this ticker around graduation, and I couldn’t help but feel so excited for them! Image-1Then, I would think, “man, I can’t wait to see my name up there”…somewhat wondering in the back of my head if I would ever really make it. As I sat in my van today, reflecting on these last few years of my life, I realized why I was crying. It wasn’t just because I was happy, I was crying because I felt a sense of pride.  I feel like (other than birthing 3 beautiful children) this is the first time where I am actually accomplishing something great for myself. Yes, graduating high school was an accomplishment and all that jazz…but to go back to college, at 33 years old, with a husband and 3 kids at home, being scared to death, stepping outside of my comfort zone, learning so many things about myself…that is an amazing accomplishment for myself. I don’t like to toot my own horn, but I am excited.  I can honestly say to myself, “Caiti, you did it!”

I can’t wait to walk into the MCB and see my name scroll across that ticker. It seems a little silly to type that out, but my name up there encapsulates all of those late nights, tears, papers, melt downs, projects, and presentations. I did it.

If any of you ever doubt yourself with anything you have going on, can I please encourage you? Nothing is going to happen overnight. Just keep swimming. Keep moving forward. Keep pushing. Keep on keepin’ on. The rest will fall into place, and one day you’ll be able to look back and say, “Wow, I did it!”

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62 Days

When I left UNC back in 2004, I honestly never saw myself going back. Of course, when people asked, I would always give them the cookie cutter answer of, “I only have about 42 credits to finish…of course I’ll go back”…”I’ve come too far to not finish!”  But, deep down I knew that I would never go back. You see, once we had Emaleigh, my heart instantly changed. EVERYTHING I did was now for Ray and for Em. My dreams of going to college quickly vanished because my dream of becoming a mother had come true. (And I was completely ok with that)

A few years later, we had Elijah and luckily, when he was born, I was able to stay at home full time with my kids. Fast forward five years and Eydan was born; our 3 E’s and our life is complete.

Looking back over the last (almost) 13 years as a mom, I couldn’t have ever imagined a more important job to be trusted with. But now, as they are growing older and more independent by the day, I have realized it’s time to find a little bit of myself. Now don’t get me wrong, I have never lost myself in motherhood, I have just always been the type to put everyone else before me and I think that’s kind of par for a mom in general. I love taking care of others, but I have realized in the last few years that it’s also important to take care of myself and remind myself there is nothing wrong with that.

I realized the importance of that when I watched Ray across the graduation stage a few years ago. That’s when I decided, “it’s my turn!” Holy cow was that a hard decision to make, but it couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. Eydan was starting preschool, so technically all kids were in school. So, as you all know, I went back to college.

There have been days that I have wanted to quit. I missed a field trip. I couldn’t pick them up from school. I had to study while everyone watched a movie. I wanted to stay home with them on a Monday because they don’t have school. I was at the library studying when all I wanted to do is be home with my family.

I’m not going to lie…some days have just sucked. But you know what I’ve learned? Nothing that’s worth it ever comes easy! Just like when Ray was in school, as a family, we have had to make sacrifices. But you know what else is cool? My kids and husband are so unbelievably understanding and supportive because they know it’s something important to ME. They believe in me, and that is what has kept me going.

Being a wife and a mother has allowed me to learn to much about myself…yet, that’s not all I am. Although those two titles are the most important titles I have ever held, I can’t let them define me. Becoming a student again, I have also learned a lot about myself. I’ve learned what I’m capable of…not as a mother, but as Caiti. When I enrolled 2 years ago, it seemed like such a long road ahead and I had so much doubt in my head.

So.  Much.  Doubt.

But guess what? I graduate in 62 days. 62!! That, once seeming impossible, long road has turned into so much more than just becoming a college graduate. Although I might not be great at it, I have had to learn how to find some serious balance in my life. I have hated every single presentation, but have allowed myself to grow through each one. Each step of the way I have gained a little more confidence in myself and my favorite part of this is my family has been my cheering section through it all!

As a mother, I constantly have to remind myself that it’s not selfish to think of myself first every once in a while. I know that I am not alone in this! If you have a dream in your heart…go for it. I can’t wait to walk across that stage in 62 days, look out into the stands and see my kids sitting there, and know that it was all worth it.

God knows what He’s doing.  He knew I would struggle with missing a few things at home. He knew I’d cry the night before a presentation. He knew I was exhausted at times, but knew I could push myself further. He knew I would forget to put dinner in the crockpot before I left for class. He knew I would get behind on reading. He knew I would overbook cakes the week of finals. He knew I would have a mental breakdown at least once a semester. He knew I would hate to be called out in class. He knew all of the things that would make this difficult…but, He also knew that all of this would be worth it in the end. He knew I’d learn a lot about Caiti, and I did.

62 days.

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Hands

You can tell a lot about a person by looking at their hands.

Sometimes you can tell what they do for a living, what they spend time doing, or even what mistakes they might have made along the way.

I remember when Emaleigh was in kindergarten and she learned how to do the monkey bars, she had blisters all over the palms of her hands. It was almost like a kindergarten rite of passage to get these blisters. As she got older and quit doing the monkey bars as often, her blisters went away.

When I was younger, my Dad had this special orange soap (literally it smelled like oranges) that was supposed to be tough on grease. Every night before dinner, he would wash his hands with that soap and no matter how hard he scrubbed, his hands still looked dirty. You see, my dad was (is) one of the hardest working people that I know. He worked sun up to well over sun down on and around the farm. Years of dirt, grease, oil, joy, and pain filled under each fingernail and within every crease of his rough, cracked, hands…making it almost impossible for them to be fully clean.

I’ll never forget when I saw my Dad for the first time about 4 years ago. I didn’t notice the green uniform that made him instantly identifiable as an inmate, nor did I notice standard issue boots that every other male in the gray chairs were wearing. As crazy as it sounds, it wasn’t completely shocking to me to see my dad as a prison inmate (bear with me).

What caught me most off guard was looking down at my Dad’s hands. They were no longer the hands I remember so fondly during my childhood. The rugged hands that grease the tractors, the hands callused from shoveling for hours, or the stained hands that would clench the spoon over his late night bowl of cereal; these were not the same hands. The hands that I was looking at were stark white and there was nothing that said, “now there’s a hard worker”. These hands that reached across the table for mine were soft and unrecognizable.

Yesterday, we were able to go see my Dad again. Again, I saw his hands. No matter how many times I am faced with the hands, I will never get used to them. No matter how many times we make the trip to see him, it will never get any easier when it’s time to leave.

As we were driving home I couldn’t quit thinking about his hands. Then I realized, no matter how many times we try to wash our hands they will always be dirty. We try and try on our own to wash them clean. Sometimes, we get them as clean as we are able to and call it good not even realizing that we are doing it all wrong.  But, it’s not until we give Jesus our hands for Him to clean,  that all of the junk is washed off of them. We can’t do it by ourselves.

Nothing can take away the hard work that my Dad did with his hands…the lines of a great life and hard work are still there. I do miss seeing his old, rough hands but I am thankful to be able to reach across and grab his hands that are clean.

As hard as it is to admit and as hard as it is to see him there, my Dad is where he needs to be. I say this because it is the place where he was at his lowest but it was also the place where Jesus was able to get, and keep, his attention.

It is in that very place, in that cell,  where Jesus washed his hands (and continually washes them) with him.

 

 

 

 

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