Friday, July 4, 2014

My Dad...

It's been a month today since my Dad passed away.  In some aspects it feels like it was just yesterday that we were called early in the morning to come to the nursing home but on the other hand it feels like an eternity.  There have been some things to take care of, thank you notes to write, friends to touch base with...all things that need to be done.  We have settled my Mom at our house for the time being and are trying to find the right balance with that.

My brother and I both spoke at my Dad's funeral.  It was a tough thing to do, but I am so proud of what both of us had to say.  I thought I would share what I said, especially for my friends that weren't able to be there.

Here goes...

Thank you very much for coming this morning to celebrate the life of my Dad, Al Hall.  When Pastor Don said his typical service lasts about 45 minutes, I thought to myself, how do we condense the life of a man who never, ever met a stranger.  But, we will do our best.

There are 3 main things I want to share that my Dad taught me.  The first is, do something in life that you enjoy.  On July 17, 1939, when my Dad was 10 years old, about the age of my son Cameron, he attended his first baseball game.  It was in  Cleveland, the Indians lost to the New York Yankees.  To hear my Dad tell the story it was magical.  The grass was the greenest he had ever seen, he rode the train from Akron to Cleveland, he saw Bob Feller pitch, there were at least 5 future Hall of Famers in the game.  That day probably help to cultivate my Dad's love of baseball, his love of trains and his love of sports.  In doing something that he loved, he worked for many years in college athletics.  I remember thinking for many years that my Dad had the coolest job ever.  When Dale and I were young he often took us early before a game started.  We would roller skate in the basement hallways of the field house, collect tickets, sell programs, pop popcorn, we did many odd jobs.  We got to travel all over the Midwest to football and basketball games.  We always did it as a family and I probably thought for a long time that every kid got to go to work with their Dad.  I love watching many different kind of sports to this day and sports is kind of the love language of our family.  My Dad had a job he thoroughly enjoyed and I loved that about him.

The second thing I learned from my Dad was devotion.  Devotion to things he believed in: never wear a hat inside and especially not at the table eating.  Never end a sentence with a preposition.  Never chew gum with your mouth open.  No t-shirts to school.  Learn how to drive a stick shift.  But the devotion that I witnessed myself was his devotion to our family.  My Dad had pretty high expectations for us.  He always wanted us to try our best.  Dale has certainly lived up to this, I am still "working" on myself.  My husband Mike loves the story I mistakenly told him many years ago about my dad having me register for an arraigned class at Ashland that he could offer me to help boost my GPA.  I did actually do work for the grade, Mike, but it also might have helped pad my GPA a bit.  It might have been only slightly unethical, but I really needed the A.  My Dad was always helping me to succeed and was my cheerleader for life.  He always told me that I was a great Mom.  I had the best examples in him and my Mom.  If we need to define devotion my parents picture would be in the dictionary.  My Dad treated my Mom better than anyone in the world.  He was her eyes and ears, he was always patient and he loved my Mom very much.  Saturday would have been their 46th wedding anniversary and we can all consider ourselves blessed for their example in our lives.  Mom, everyone knows how much Dad loved you.  And they know how much you loved him.

The last thing I learned from my Dad was a love for our Lord, Jesus Christ.  He had a faith that stretched very deep.  He had a love of sharing his faith with anyone who would listen.  He had a way of mentoring those who were in need.  He rolled his sleeves up and was a worker around this church whether it was teaching Sunday School, driving us to a youth event, representing the church as a Lay Leader at Lakeside, helping to write the church's history, my Dad did a lot of service here.  And he loved every minute of it and felt it was his service an an honor to our God.  I'm not sure as a a teenager I fully appreciated my Dad as my high school Sunday School teacher, but looking back it really was an instrumental part of my faith journey.  This church and it's people in it helped me to become the person I am today.  And I thank you for that.

I can't help but think of a familiar bible verse that I have been using quite a bit lately.  It is from Proverbs 3:5-6.  It says, Trust in The Lord with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding; in all ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.  This last year has been pretty challenging for our family.  But when we needed it, we leaned hard.  People prayed for my Dad and I know he fly the presence of the prayers and the Holy Spirit.  And because of my Dad's faith, his strength and his convictions I know that he has met the ultimate victory.  I know that he is whole again.

If you knew my Dad you know that he loved history.  He loved to learn about it and share what he knew about it.  My Dad passed away last Friday on the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the Invasion of Normandy during Operation Overlord.  It started on June 6, 1944.  General Dwight D. Eisenhower said, "The free men of the world are marching together to victory.  I have full confidence in their courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle.  We will accept nothing less than full victory."  And on Friday my Dad met his full victory with Jesus Christ.

You will be truly missed, Dad, but I will do my best to honor your memory.  Your grandchildren have great memories of fun times with you and they will always remember you with love.

And I will always be your Bether.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

This man melts my heart...

and loves his children so very, very much!

Happy Father's Day, Mr. Shook!

We love you!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Way behind, but turning 9...

Oh goodness, where has the time gotten to with keeping tracking of monumental things in life?  Our lives were blessed for the better when our precious Molly was sent to us on Friday, May 20, 2005.  I can distinctly remember the feeling I had when I found out that our second child was a little girl.  Over the moon I tell you!  Molly has always been a joy and I am so glad to be her Mom.

Such a cutie at 1 year old!

4 year old Cheerleader

School Carnival


Second grade

Summer 2013

We love you, Molly.  So glad that you are now 9!!!  You are a beautiful girl inside and out!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

It's time again to celebrate...

My favorite boy in the middle of a Cameron sandwich turned
in January!

It was great fun with a Minute It, to Win It party at the school gym with 10 boys.  The best line of the night, when we were seriously losing control of the party, was by a friend who is in Fifth grade.  He said, "Mrs. Shook, this is what happens when you get together a bunch of Fourth graders."  Mike and I still laugh about that line.  It was classic!

Mike and I are so blessed to have Cameron as our son.  He has a passion for many things but mostly he loves Mindcraft, always his Legos, books and his sisters.  He is an all-around great kid who never gives us a minute of trouble.  In the off chance that he is a little bit obstinate he almost always ends up telling us before we could ever find out.  He wouldn't be a great criminal.

God gave us Cameron to break us in gently as parents.  And it worked, because who else would try it two more times??!!  We are blessed to have Cameron in our lives.

I haven't felt the need to blog in a while, actually quite a while.  I had felt like the ability to be myself had been damaged by some who didn't know me or appreciate me as myself.  You know what I say to that?  If it was appropriate to type I would do so, but let's just say I'm thinking it in my head.  Never ever let people make you question who you are.   It's OK for people to not like you.  But, it's not OK for people to belittle who you are.  Who you are is between you and God.  Period.

So, I'm going to try and be back!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

My baby turned 6...

I'm in denial I think...

our baby is now 6...

and she is so full of life!

Amanda is such a love to her family...

and we cherish her very much...
even when we see this...

one girl who is so feisty!

Amanda, you are a beautiful girl on the inside and out that keeps us on our toes and gives the biggest, best hugs...

Enjoy being 6 Miss Amanda!
We love you very much!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Happy belated birthday to Molly...

This beautiful little baby now turned 8!!

Very hard to imagine that it's been 8 years since she arrived.  I didn't believe at first that a little girl had been sent to us.  I thought for sure Cameron was getting a brother.  But, alas, it was a mini Me!  Although she's truly more her Daddy.

Always a smile and always big blue eyes.

Fun loving and full of zest.

Serious but yet smiling.

Such a cutie!

A dancer girl.

Doesn't mind a little mud.

A little mother to all.

And a good friend to many.
Always have a big heart my special first girl!

We love you, Molly!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Familiar faces...

Yesterday I ran into Wal-Mart after work.  It was a quick trip with the kids.  A woman was standing by the jewelry counter with a friend and she said hello to me.  I said hi back and kept walking.  Then I stopped and did a double take because I knew that I knew her from somewhere.  She had turned as well and she asked me if she knew me from somewhere as well.  Instantly I knew her face and realized that she was one of the Child Life Specialists we had met on our trips to the Children's Hospital with Molly.  She is a very kind woman with a big smile.  I will never forget her.  That part of this story isn't as important as the part I want to share about my feelings after I saw this familiar woman.

You see, it's been 4 years since Molly had so many set backs from surgery complications.  It's hard to realize that she has doubled her life (she was 3 1/2, she now is 7 1/2) since she was in the hospital.  I don't think about it all the time but certain things trigger memories and especially feelings of that time. 

My reflections on that 6 months 4 years ago is still very strong.  I know with even more time it will soften.  And I will always be so very grateful and recognize how very blessed we were to be a success story.  It was a God moment.  I truly know that. 

I try really hard to not talk about it too much.  But I also realize that it is an important part of who I have become, especially as Molly's mom.  I learned that you ALWAYS speak up for your child, you ALWAYS ask for further explanations on things if you don't understand and you ALWAYS tell your children the truth about what is going to happen.  I know many parents believe that sheltering their children from the harsh realities is best but I do not.  No, I don't give the gory details but I do not lie and I do not withhold information.  Both of my parents had serious surgeries when I was a kid/early teenager and they always told my brother and I what was going to happen.  I have always appreciated that my parents were honest and Mr. Shook and I have done the same.

Last week my girl, Molly, was star of the week in her 2nd grade class.  You get to take in show and tell every day for a week.  On the first day Molly took Josh, the dog you get on the pre-op tour when visiting the Children's Hospital.  Molly has loved that dog from day one.  She sleeps with it almost every night.  I asked Molly what she was going to tell her class about Josh.  She said that she would tell them that she got him from the hospital.  The best part to me is that Josh is a part of her life, but she doesn't actually remember being given Josh.  She was too young to really remember.  When you ask her about her hospital experiences she can't really share many details.  Molly remembers getting to watch movies, getting a new set of Polly Pockets, having a catheter.  That's about it.  I find this absolutely perfect.  I am willing to bear all of the feelings we all had during that time myself.  Molly doesn't remember hurting, being scared or being in any pain.  I remember it all. 

And, I am the most proud of how well Mr. Shook and I handled ourselves through the experience.  If you are reading this blog and you are not our family or from the time we lived in Michigan or Ohio we didn't know you 4 years ago.  We had only lived in Illinois a little over 4 months.  I think God has now put people in our path that we can really call friends, but it was just the two of us, our two other children and thank god, my brother and sister-in-law.  We didn't have many to turn to so we turned to each other.  I am so lucky to have Mr. Shook as my rock.  Not just in this situation but every day. 

4 years ago on Valentine's Day Molly had her third surgery in a week and we ate Avanti's carry out in the hospital as our "romantic" dinner.  I will skip the flowers and candy every year just so I don't have to have Valentine's any where but with my family.  God blessed us that Valentine's Day and I will always remember it. 

And, I will try my hardest not to talk about it too much.  But, I make no promises.  It's a part of who I am. 

Enjoy this week of love and family!