Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Selfish Decision

Late Sunday night, one of my favorite people and her boyfriend lost a family member to a drunk driver who got behind the wheel and hit another car. A selfish drunk driver that will forever be a part of their life now. And a selfish drunk driver who took away the life of a 26 year old.

When you drink and drive, you invoke your right to make poor decision, but you also take away everyone else's rights that are on that road with you. You're suddenly calling the shots for everyone else and that is just not fair. Why is it so hard to call a cab? Call a friend? Call your parents, even if you are an adult? Is your pride and convenience worth someone else's life?

This selfish driver has taken away a fiancĂ©, a young father with a baby, a son, a brother, and a friend. No convictions, no sentences, no amount of remorse or regret will bring him back. One poor decision has cost an entire family. My heart is broken for my friends that loved him dearly. I hate that there is nothing you can say in times like this that can take away an ounce of pain. All we can do is help them carry the pain in some small way and lift them up in prayer when every other action seems trivial in light of such loss and such pain.

So today I pray for Steve's family. I pray for peace when I'm sure it feels so very far away. I pray for strength when this loss seems crushing. I pray that our Lord holds them up when they cannot take another step. I pray that his legacy will live on in his 10 month old son. And I pray that their memories of their brother, son, father and fiancĂ©, bring them a sliver of sunshine in a very dark time.

And for my friend who is also suffering from this loss while trying to be a source of support and strength for her boyfriend as he faces what no one should have to face, I pray that the Lord gives her comforting words to share when they're needed. I pray for the wisdom for her to know when silence and just being there is more precious than trying to find those words. I pray for her heart as she witnesses one of their first, devastating losses together and learns how he needs to be comforted. And finally I pray that the Lord will support her in the moments when she doesn't need to be a support system for those around her. I pray that she has the space she, herself, needs to grieve, and that those of us who can help be her support system, will do so.

Thank you Lord for hearing our prayers today and in the days to come. Amen.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Nightmare on Event Street

I love planning, attending, even looking at pictures of events. I will always bite off a little more than I can chew when it comes to parties because I simply love them beyond what I probably should. And right now, I'm in the throes of planning and co-planning 5 events in a 3 week span. Insert ginormous bite that just may be exceedingly bigger than I can chew. What's a festive junkie to do? I just can't help myself.

Right now I have the pleasure of working on our Simply Vintage bridal expo booth for 500 brides to pass through, a styled photo shoot and "Open House" for Simply the following weekend, a couple's shower for my bestie (woohoo!), and two 60th birthday parties. With one of the 60th's being for the President of our Foundation's Board, where 400-500 of the top business leaders will be in attendance, I'm just a bit nervous. It'll be great and fun and spectacular, but it's the planning and the creative aspect of that one that is keeping this gal up at night. With actual nightmares. I'm in charge of transforming a ballroom into an industrial meets chic wonderland since the hosts own a large, local construction company that is also celebrating its 60th anniversary. My centerpieces are literally jumbo bolts, hard hats, coils of hoses, PVC pipes and candles and pearls. Oh my, seriously, what did I agree too?! And let me tell you, Pinterest fans, that little site ain't got nothing on industrial party planning. Unless I want to incorporate Bob the Builder into my theme, Pinterest let me down. Way down.

And with the above mentioned 60th soriee on a Friday night, I'm co-hosting my dad's 60th the very next night. Don't even try to call, text, or communicate with me on Sunday, Oct. 6th. I. Will. Be. Sleeping. No, really.

So with all of that being said, if I appear to be a little silent over the next few weeks, please know that I'll be back! I'm just stretched pretty thin and all of my creative juices are being thrown into making PVC pipes look classy and sassy. Words I swear to you I never thought I'd say.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Unexpected Inspiration

On Sunday the Hubs and I hopped in the car and headed off to Madison for the 2013 Ironman Wisconsin. Why, you ask? Well, the Hubs is a two time Ironman finisher for starters (yes, I'm bragging on him). Secondly, for our first anniversary with a "paper" theme (seriously, who thought those things up?!), I thought long and hard on what I could give him that would be meaningful and yet, made of paper. And thus came Ironman Wisconsin. I knew I could print off our registration confirmation as volunteer Course Marshals as part of his gift, and as someone (myself) who highly values time spent together doing something the other person loves, I thought this would be a neat component of his gift.

Let me preface all of this with my mindset going into Sunday's volunteer experience. I did not get it. Not at all. Not even an ounce, even though I thought I did. I've always been proud of Tim and his multiple marathon and Ironman achievements. I even surprised him with an Ironman groom's cake at our rehearsal dinner, but I never really understood what it means to be an "Ironman". Well, I was served an Ironman sandwich on Sunday and it tasted amazing!

Once we arrived, checked in, put on our XXL volunteer shirts, the Hubs got to show me around a little bit. At this point, I'm still thinking this is a really cool event and neat race, but not much more, yet. I was just glad to be there with him in his element. As we began making our way to our Course Marshal location, I think I started to see a bit more of what had been "unseen" to me over the last few years. What caught my eye pretty early on was the sidewalk chalk messages along the course. I asked if next year I could volunteer as a "chalker" (y'all know I love some DIY and chalk!), and Tim explained that those messages on the course were from the families of the participants as encouragement for their athletes. Very cool. These people must be proud of their athletes, I thought to myself.

Fast forward to the actual run component where Tim and I would stand for 4 hours and make sure that the Univ. of Wisconsin students and spectators didn't interfere with the course, etc. We had the pleasure of standing at a corner where we'd see the runners pass by 4 times. 4 times?! AND, by the time they got to us at mile 1, they had already swam 2.4 miles AND biked 112! Um, you. people. are. crazy. CRAZY!

Everything finally hit me when the first runner passed by us at mile 1 with his police and bike escort, and there was no one else in sight. For 15 minutes he was the ONLY runner. I was humbled, shocked, encouraged and in awe. Oh, you know, just your typical Sunday afternoon feelings.

As runner after runner passed, I became more engaged and more aware of what I was watching. Suddenly I wanted 1,000 pieces of chalk. I wanted every one of those 2,500 participants to have an encouraging note to pass by when they wanted to quit or felt like this mile, or every mile, could be their last. I clapped and cheered those runners on to the point that I was irritating myself. I'm not sure "Way to go, guys" or "Keep it up, ladies" was annoying them or not, but I couldn't stop. At one point Tim had been chatting with another volunteer for a bit and I frantically motioned for him to stop the chatter and start clapping. These people looked exhausted and we needed to cheer for them! I had become some weird Ironman super fan, calling the runners by name if I could read their bib in time. Obnoxius? Maybe. But I was 100% on-board at this point and they had my full attention.

I could go on and on, which I have done to my supportive husband who is allowing me the time to process all of this even though he's fully aware of everything I'm saying, questioning, etc... But here are just a highlights and final thoughts that I cannot close without sharing:
  • Watching someone when they've been going full throttle for 5.5 to upwards of 9 hours before they get to your point on the course is humbling. I have no other word for it. These people are true athletes and dwarf almost everything I've ever thought an athlete looks like.
  • Seeing someone walking on mile 1 when you both know they have over 25 more to go, but then hearing a bystander say to them as they pass "Come on #1204, don't give up, don't give in, you've got this" makes your eyes sting a bit when they nod and then start running again, even if ever so slowly again. It makes you want to run with them for a minute or two.
  • Seeing 2 amputees running in their prosthetics, as well as two wheelchair duos, makes you feel 110% inadequate. I should never complain about ANYTHING. Ever. I know nothing of true challenges.
  • Standing at the finish line of an Ironman is what truly drives home the awesomeness of this event. Seeing someone's face as they round the corner and enter the shoot is like watching a dream lived out over and over again, only with different faces, body types, ages, and stories, etc... I could've stood there ALL day (and we did for a good while). I was enamored by watching the different areas of the finish. I wanted to see them in the shoot, I wanted to see them as they crossed under the finish line arch, I wanted to see them as they were greeting their families at the end.
  • High-fiving 2 of the finishers as they ran the last few yards makes me giddy.
  • It's amazing to me that someone can go 140 miles and then completely collapse once they stop. Like literally, fall to the ground. I now know what beyond exhaustion looks like and I now know, I've never felt it myself. They had pushed their bodies to the limit and theirs legs were going to carry them to the last possible second.
  • Hearing the announcer say "____, YOU ARE AN Ironman!" as each person crossed the line is something I'll never forget. It's verbal validation that they are strong, worthy, and dedicated to their dreams. Only the toughest of tough will ever hear those words. Some that start and fight for 17 hours, will never hear those words if they time out. I, personally, will never hear those words with my name attached. I could've cried each time I heard those words, but I was trying to be tough in front of the Hubs;) Although, I'm pretty sure he knows full and well that he's married to a softy.
  • These athletes are SO polite and respectful. Countless runners ran by me and as I cheered them on, they took precious seconds to say "thanks for being out here and volunteering." Me? Are you kidding?! I wanted to yell back "Noooo, save your breath, you need that air in your lungs! It's my pleasure, really!" Ironman=sportsmanship.
  • Lastly, I'm so incredibly proud to be married to a two time Ironman. There really are no words. I'd give anything to have been there to see him complete such an amazing goal. I'm always proud of him, but to now have witnessed his accomplishment up close, I'm amazed. And in all honesty, the actual event itself is just the culmination, I'm guessing. It's the "end" and where the true amazement lies is in the "means" it must have taken him to get to that moment. I'm sure there were days that he wanted to give up or have an easy day of only 50-75 miles on the bike while other people were relaxing and watching football. If he ever does one again, I'll be there bright and early with my chalk, my signs, and my t-shirt. And if he doesn't feel called to that challenge again, well, I'll gladly volunteer next to my Ironman with pride. For him and for everyone on that road (and lake). They're stinkin' made of steal!

    Ironman Wisconsin 2013

Chalk Motivation

Our Iroman, Tim (aka...Hubs)
Biking for 112 miles. No big deal.

Completing a full marathon (26.2 mi) after biking and swimming. 

His great looking support team.
Three cheers for Uncle Timmy!
It's a long day for the dedicated fans and spectators.

Tim, you are an Ironman...

And an incredibly handsome one at that. 140.6 miles looks fantastic on you!


Friday, September 6, 2013


No, not me, sillies. BUT, one of my favorite couples in the whole wide world is anxiously awaiting the arrival of their precious baby girl. Any. Day. Now. Ahhhhh! I'm beyond excited for them and for her. And I'm beyond beyond to meet her via Skype and then in person later this month.

With how excited I am for them, I just cannot imagine the amount of butterflies they must be feeling. I'm envisioning a Jurassic Park size butterfly fluttering in their stomachs as they attempt to go about their days this week and try to play it cool and calm. I give any expecting parent major credit for being able to function as a normal human being in the last few days before they meet their forever. I think I'd probably be sitting on the couch for days on end, unable to work or sleep or eat, and with every little movement or hiccup, I'm pretty certain I'd be shouting for the Hubs to "grab the hospital bag and roll out!!"

Last month when I was in SC with my girls, two of us sat on the couch with the-mom-to be amongst the beautiful chaos of girls, food, and laughter, and the three of us quietly went through the "girl" names of the Bible to see if we could predict this little one's name.  (God Bless, iPhones and Google. Seriously, Amen.) We know it's a biblical names, so one by one, we read aloud the names and tried to gauge her momma's face. This mom may just have a future career in Texas Hold'em tournaments in Vegas someday with that poker face. It was like steel, folks! And although we absolutely do not need to know her name in advance, there was just something so sweet about those 45 minutes or so together, reading names out loud on a Saturday night. Suddenly, names that I've heard and said a 1,011 times, seemed so new, so fresh and so delicate. They seemed so promising. Like all of a sudden, a name like Hannah or Lily, instantly encapsulated this new, beautiful girl with a bright future, loving and Godly parents, a safe and warm home, and the world at her fingertips. Isn't it crazy what a little, tiny bundle of hope can do to you?! Reading biblical baby names at a Bachelorette party weekend?!

So from across the miles, I'll be here in Illinois praying and awaiting this sweet girl's arrival. I'm literally beaming for her parents. I know they're going to rock this parenthood deal. This girl is going to have a blast exploring her world with those two by her side. She's one lucky Lily, or Hannah, or Ruth, or Sarah, or Shiloh, or... Am I getting closer, B & S? ;)  JK! Love you guys and praying for you!!