Saturday, June 30, 2018
Many times, I would have young adults request a loan to purchase their first car or truck. Sometimes it was a small loan just to get a vehicle to take them from to and from work. Other times it was a loan of 20k for a new to them vehicle. Some new clients wanted to establish credit and requested a simple, low limit credit card. Underwriting loans involves evaluating and reviewing established credit and payment history, verifying income and ability to make payments and hopefully establishing a financial relationship that will be mutually beneficial. I didn't want to only grant a loan. I wanted to help with deposit accounts, credit cards, future purchases and request referrals from family, friends and coworkers. I wanted the client/customer to remember me as the first person that they called when they had a question. I wanted to build a level of trust so that they knew that I was there for them when they needed advice and financial assistance.
Many young adults are not able to qualify for loans on their own because of the lack of credit history and time on the job, the risk of a loan defaulting was too high. I turned down just as many loans as the ones that I approved. Often, if I felt that the young adult showed promise, could repay it on their own and showed good faith, I would request that they would ask a parent, relative or adult in good financial standing to cosign the loan for them. This means of course, that if the young adult couldn't or didn't repay the loan, that the cosigner would make good on the loan and repay it per the original agreement. If the young adult and cosigner didn't make the payments and stay in contact with me, I then had the right to repossess the vehicle (voluntary or involuntary), sell it and recoup as much money as possible to pay off the loan. I didn't like this part of financial lending, but learned a lot about being a woman of my word and letting my yes's be yes and no's be no.
By the time I was 25, I had written over $5 million in loans and felt that I had a fantastic referral client base. Between walk ins and established referral networks with clients, realtors, and mortgage brokers, I didn't have to hustle anymore. I was able to work my book of business, request new business from current clients and assist those that were referred to me.
One afternoon right after I had returned from lunch, Elaine, the receptionist, (also my husband's great aunt) rang me to let me know there was young man in the lobby filling out a car loan application and that he might be in need of a new checking account. I gave him a few minutes to work on the application and went to greet him. Maybe 19, 20 at most, this young man towered over me. Tall and thin, he stood to greet me and extended his hand. Grinning ear to ear, he introduced himself and told me his parents told him to come and see me. He indeed needed to purchase a new vehicle and he needed to start a checking account and wanted to deposit his first five paychecks. I shook his hand, and that is when the smell hit me. My nose threatened to actually fall off my face. His clothing was dirty and looked like it hadn't been washed in weeks. The smell of his unshowered body made me feel light headed. I tried to recover as quickly as possible and released his hand just as fast as I had taken it.
I escorted him back to my office. I usually shut the door when assisting with new loan clients, but worried that the smell might increase behind the closed door. I found myself turning my head often as I typed his info in my computer. Sniffing my shoulder, hoping to fill my nostrils with the scent of my perfume long enough to turn my head back to him and ask another question. I was short and too the point trying to figure out his needs and assist him but also trying to get him out of my office as soon as possible. I didn't get it. Yes, he had come to see me on his lunch hour, but was all this filth and stench from just that one morning at work as a car mechanic? Or had he truly not showered, not washed his hands or clothes in a week, maybe a month? I tried. I tried so hard to be civil, but my facial expressions I am sure betrayed me. While continuing to conduct business, I found my mind wondering. This is a bad day for him. Surely, this good looking young man didn't live his life this way. He couldn't function and have relationships and smell and look this way. I opened a new checking account, deposited his paychecks, started a savings account for him and quickly did a preliminary underwrite of his loan application. I told him things looked good with his job and income, but that he would need to have a parent or other adult cosign for him. He said that wasn't a problem at all. Thanked me for my help, asked a few more questions and then he left. I refrained from shaking his hand again.
I stood there feeling like my nose had been assaulted. I needed to wash my hands. I threw away the pen he used. I knew I was going to have to wash my desk and quite possibly do something about the lingering smell in the chair. How was I going to fumigate my entire office?! I quickly went to restroom and scrubbed my hands and arms. I don't often feel gross after touching people but this time I did. I stood there looking in the mirror and felt bad. I had made so many judgements in my mind about this young man. I was convinced this was a fluke. He had a tough morning, no time to shower and car mechanics really did get that dirty. The next time I saw him, he wouldn't present this way. It wasn't possible. I returned to my office to find Elaine asking what she could do to help to eliminate the smell. She gathered two amazing candles and promptly placed them on my credenza and lit them. She went and borrowed air spray from the teller line. (stinky drive up deposit tubes sometimes needed help) My coworker Ryan then presented a new chair to me from an unused office and removed the offending piece of furniture. He said he would put in a special request for the chair to be cleaned. Ryan found cleanser and rags in the janitors closet and helped me clean everything up in my office. He even washed down the clipboard from the loan application before returning it to Elaine at the reception desk.
Two days later, I received a phone call from the young man and he said that his dad would be coming in with him later that day to complete his portion of the cosigned loan application. Once again, believing that the other day was a fluke, I thought great. He is following through with the application and his dad has agreed to help. I scheduled them for 4 pm that afternoon. When they arrived through the side door of the bank by the receptionist desk, I saw the same dirty shirt, the same holey filthy jeans and the smell started wafting into my office. He and his dad appeared to be arguing. The dad's face seem to be all contorted and he seemed to be yelling at his son under his breath. I stood and walked out from behind my desk as they approached, and heard the dad say, "You could have least taken a shower or changed your clothes!" I smiled and stepped closer.
"Excuse my son. He needs to go and wash his hands." The son was mortified. I told him it was down stairs and to his left. I ushered the dad into my office and had him take a seat. "I am sorry. My son is a mess. He smells, he never takes a shower and my wife and I are at wits end. We are constantly trying to get him to take more pride in his appearance and he thinks we are just meddling in his life and trying to control him! He doesn't think that what we have to say is helpful. I don't know what to do!" The poor dad actually looked like he was going to cry. I then understood. This now grown child really didn't see anything wrong with his appearance. He always presented like this. I tired to calm the father as much as possible. I asked about friends or a girlfriend, and he said his son didn't have any. That he worked and had one friend who wasn't a good influence. And that the boys just went out and drove trucks, went hunting, and fishing and that their son just used his daily hobbies and his job as a mechanic to always avoid any attempt at personal hygiene.
At the wise old age of 25, I had already found that I had a way with words. I found that sometimes all it took was a suggestion from an adult who was not a parent of a child, even a grown child would modify their behavior. I decided to make it my mission to teach my client what was acceptable. Without sharing any of this with his dad, I had made up my mind that I was going to be the person who would help their son make a change.
I completed the loan application with his dad, underwrote his portion and was able to quickly state that we could absolutely write this loan based on the father as cosigner. Both father and son smiled ear to ear. I gathered the additional necessary information and we scheduled an appointment for 4pm the following Monday. Addressing my client, "This will be your first car loan. Now that you have a very good full time job, you are earning a decent paycheck, you have a checking account and savings account, you are accomplishing a lot of things many young people want to. Along with all of these things, an effort in how you present yourself needs to be made. When you have a meeting at your bank, or when you purchase your car, it is very important that you take pride in your appearance. Clean clothing, a shower, combing your hair. I love how hard you work as a mechanic. When you look good, you often feel good. And when you feel good about yourself, you often accomplish more. What is something that you would like to accomplish? " Silence. My client looked uncomfortable with the conversation as he rubbed his hands together over his jeans as if the filth and stench would disappear if he rubbed hard enough. "I want to be a shift lead. I want to be able to deal with customers at the garage and coordinate repairs. I want the guys I work with to report to me. " I smiled. Now that was a goal.
We continued to talk about goals and that hard work and
perseverance pays off. He seemed encouraged as you could see the wheels turning in his head and planning what he could do at work to make this goal a reality. We finished up our business, I thanked them both and said I would see them the following Monday. My client left my office first and his dad turned back to me and took my hand again, "Thank you for what you said. Thank you."
The following Monday, I seemed to be stuck on phone call after phone call. Mortgage companies, insurance offices, other local banks, scheduling loan closings for later in the week, ordering title work and clarifying flood certification requests. My processor brought the loan closing file and prepared docs to me and slid them across my desk only about 15 minutes before my clients were set to arrive. I quickly reviewed them, placed all the flag stickers where signatures and initials were required and put the file back together while finishing my last call.
I saw my client enter the side door of bank before he saw me. He looked different. Even from across the lobby. He was wearing a reasonably clean white tee shirt and cleanish jeans. And he had showered. For real. A legitimate shower had taken place since I last saw him. I quickly rose and made a bee line for him. As I approached, I saw his hands. They were not just clean, they looked like another mans hands. I smiled and took his hand. "You look wonderful! Come on in!" He couldn't stop smiling. He had heard what I said, wasn't hurt by it, and applied what he could over the past few days. "I know I could have dressed up for today, but that isn't something I would normally do. I did do my laundry. I had a lot of loads to do. They are clean. my jeans look a lot better and I even pulled out one of my newer tee shirts. I think I have just lived like this for so long, I didn't know that it might bother other people than just my parents. I always thought my dad was just a jerk and liked to tell me what to do. I talked to him and he said that you wouldn't have taken the time to talk me about all that if you didn't care. He said I have to make an effort. Every day. I am gonna try."
I complimented him and complimented him again. His smile seemed to grow bigger if that was even possible. I asked when his father was joining us just as I saw him enter the bank out of the corner of my eye. I waved to his dad and he quickly covered the space of the lobby with his long strides. He stopped dead in his tracks in the doorway of my office. As if he couldn't believe his eyes, "Who is this attractive boy I see before me? " They both laughed. "Oh my son, you look so good. And smell so good. You clean up good!" My client stood and embraced his father. He hugged his father. From the look on both men's faces, this hug was long past due.
The loan closing was smooth and went quickly and I handed both men copies of the closing documents and passed an envelope containing the check for the vehicle purchase across my desk. "Congratulations. You are the owner of new vehicle. Take this to the dealer this evening, they know you are coming, they have all of your purchase documents ready for you and all of the bank information on file that is needed for the title and insurance."
"Kelli, thank you. Thanks for helping me get this loan and for taking the time to explain everything to me. Thanks for talking to me about how I looked. Just thank you." My heart melted a bit right there and then. I helped him not just buy a car. I helped him gain confidence so that he could make an effort at the goals he had placed before himself.
This past May, I saw my client in at the Chaska Library. I wasn't sure if he would remember me, so I didn't go out of my way to go to him and greet him. But then I didn't have to. He approached me with that ear to ear smile I remembered so fondly over the years. "Is your name Kelli? Did you used to work at the bank in Chanhassen?" I confirmed I was Kelli and greeted him warmly with a hand shake. He was an adult. The adult I knew he would become. Still tall and thin, nice clean clothing, great haircut, and cleanish hands.
"I wanted to thank you. I don't know if you remember, but I was struggling when we met at the bank all those years ago. I was just diagnosed with depression, and I didn't care about much. I just worked and hung out with my friend. I looked horrible and smelled horrible. When you were so nice to me and suggested that I take a shower, wash my clothes and make an effort at cleaning up, it meant something to me. I was lonely, I wanted more friends and I wanted to meet special someone. I didn't think much of myself, but started to gain self esteem when I started showering and washing and changing my clothing. My parents loved it of course, so did my boss. I started volunteering for extra shifts and going the extra mile at work. Maybe 6 months after you did my truck loan, I got that promotion that I told you wanted. I loved it. You were right. Perseverance. I met a woman I fell in love with and we have been married for 15 years and have 4 kids. She knows I still am a outdoors man at heart, but she loves me anyway. I just wanted to say thanks for being kind. I remember you always wore suits and looked nice. But you always shook my hand. That meant something to me and still does. I now own my own small garage and have 5 employees. I still love the work. Thanks for showing me that goals matter. You were a good influence on me."
I was in awe. It was as if he had a practiced speech and was waiting to deliver this thank you to me for the past 20+ years. I hugged him. Right there and then in the Chaska Library. I don't remember what I said to affirm him. But I made sure he knew how proud I was of him. Of setting a goal, of taking steps to meet that goal, of accomplishing the goal. I was proud of who he had become. A man that is hard worker, who loves his wife and children and remembers that we all need a helpful hand from time to time. His helpful hand came from a 25 year old female banker who just wanted him to smell better. I also found myself thrilled that my gentle critique was heard and not received as hurtful.
I love interactions like this one. Years later, conversations that were meant to happen. Finding out about someones life and family. About who they love, and sometimes about what they have lost. These human connections, these touch points, affirm, encourage and inspire. I, too, have had a conversation with someone years after the original encounter. I thanked them for speaking truth to me right when I needed to hear it. For knowing that I just needed to be loved on and treasured, even for a moment. I thanked them for being genuine and kind, open to all things awkward and for a life giving conversation. Little did they know, that my impressions of the interaction meant so much to me. The other kind soul, worried and analyzed what they had said to me, concerned that what was conveyed wouldn't be received with the love it was intended. It wasn't only received with love, it was treasured.
Thursday, June 28, 2018
Saturday, June 23, 2018
When I was about 9, I asked a woman at church how old she was. She seemed ancient, yet I didn't remember her ever appearing younger than she did at that point. My mom quickly shushed me and said, "Kelli, you should never ask a lady her age. It isn't considered polite." The old woman giggled and said, "Oh dear, that is quite alright. I am 84." I gasped. "I was right, you are so old!" My mother ushered me away so quickly, I think she was half carrying me, half pushing me as I don't remember my feet having to put in any of the effort. I never lived that one down. My mother retold the story to anyone that would listen for the rest of eternity.
When I was 10, my mom (Jo) was 30 and my grandmother was 60. Each of us 30 years apart. I loved knowing that. Three generations of women. I was also 10 when I learned how old my grandma was. What I thought was funny about my grandma Charlotte being only 60, was that yet again, I thought she was ancient. She just always looked old to me. Her cute white curly hair, her gold or silver rimmed glasses. The way she fell asleep before and sometimes even after dinner. The way she pulled up her compression stockings so slowly and acted as if it was an Olympic event. But this was also when I learned that I was a horrible judge of age. I was basing my determination of someones age solely on physical appearance. In my 10 year old brain, if you looked old, you were old.
I remember meeting my husband's grandma Rosemary for the first time. Infectious laughter and a sheepish half mouthed grin. She would squint her eyes shut when she laughed. She was an amazing listener and genuinely cared about what people were saying. She was spry and seemed so very young, even though the beautiful lines on her face told a different story. She golfed so well I thought it was amazing. She would walk the whole course. She was someone to behold. This was one of the first times I saw someone who was Young At Heart and it showed in every aspect of her life.
In my 20's, I met a woman who was in in her 70's and she was hysterically funny. She found humor in the mundane and was always sure to create fun where ever she went. Marilyn sold Mary Kay cosmetics, had the most beautiful outlined lips I had ever seen and I truly believed she could have been a silver screen movie starlet back in the day. She struggled physically and was often in pain. On one of those tough days, she leaned in and said, "Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but until the day I die, I plan to give the beholder something to marvel at." I loved that she felt this way. She talked often of putting in a little effort and never leaving the house without moisturizer. So to this day, my collagen elastin moisturizer is my best friend every morning.
My sister Angie no longer feels the need to let everyone know that she is older than I am. Rather it is me stating that I am the youngest. When did I start wanting others to think that I am younger than I am? I will be 43 in a few days. My 40's have been kind to me. But will I soon start saying I am 29 and holding like my grandma Re did? Will the old saying, age is only a number, mean something more to me than it does now? Because 43 seems a little bit old to me. Just a little bit.
I know my life has been well spent. Loving the Lord and seeking him daily. Being a helpmate and wife to my husband. Loving and pouring into my children daily. Working in a field that I adore. Writing stories that matter. That hopefully make a difference. I love people and I love helping and encouraging them. I want to be the person that goes above and beyond, not for the acclaim of others but because I am called to and desire to serve people. If I am able to help, then I always will choose to. I want to change the way we look at age. Especially the way we as women look at age. Rather than dreading another year passing, looking forward to what is yet to come. What new adventure awaits just around the corner. I want to encourage women to not to shut down as they enter their later years, but to be reinvigorated and to desire each new day to be full and well lived. I want that crazy idea that age is just a number to remembered. Because it is. It only marks how many years we have spent on this earth. And I for one, choose to not focus on the number, but rather the ability to learn and experience more each new day. So bring on 43. I might still say whoa there to 50, but I have 7 years to work I changing my attitude.
I got a text yesterday morning that made me smile. Ear to ear goofy grin. Happiness was found in a text message. It wasn't a fancy text nor a long text. It was a simple good morning text. Good morning! A morning greeting from someone who matters to me. Someone who loves me. Someone who will always make me smile. I am very aware that the sender will probably never know what it means to me when they greet me first thing in the morning. Currently walking through deep waters, those morning bursts of joy can be life giving. Happiness granting. Inspiration to start my day.
Two weeks ago, I received an unexpected apology by mail. An envelope with only my name and address and a postage stamp arrived. Plain handwriting and no return address, I turned the envelope over a few times and again before opening it. The beige envelope gave me no indications if it was a greeting card or a letter. When I opened it, tears poked at the corners of my eyes. -- Dearest Kelli. I am sorry. I owe you an apology. I walked away from our friendship without an explanation. Please forgive me. I was embarrassed about some choices I had made and I didn't want you to look down on me. I decided it was best to take a step back. Please forgive me. I see now, I have hurt you and myself. -- I was ghosted by a friend a few years back, it broke my heart. Even wrote about it for the local paper. But here, was not only an apology, but a request for forgiveness. An email address was listed at the bottom of block letter sheet of paper. I emailed right away. This unexpected apology and request for forgiveness was accepted and granted by responding promptly. My hurt was healed by the arrival of a plain beige envelope, an unanticipated apology and a bold request for forgiveness.
The days are long and hard. Between work, clients with challenges, kids, special needs parenting, and my dear husband who hasn't been well in months, I am tired. I look tired. I struggle some days to form complete coherent sentences. I stay up too late each night trying to complete work that should have been accomplished weeks ago. I answer emails and text messages days later and pray that my friends and family just cover me with a whole lot of grace in this area. I was going to a play last evening with my daughter and as I entered, I saw two friends from church (different campus) that I hadn't seen in a couple of months. I was tired, had just gotten out of the pool and threw on leggings and long flowing tee shirt. One of the ladies complimented me on my shirt. I thanked her for the genuine compliment. On a evening when I combed my hair into a pony tail, was only wearing moisturizer and found a clean tee shirt and leggings, this compliment meant more to me than most. I like your shirt. Simple. It warmed my heart and for a moment made me forget the tiredness that often overwhelms me. The compliment came just at the right time. When it was needed most.
These three instances where examples of human touch points. One person reaching out to another. One person saying, I see you, I care about you, You matter to me. One person taking time out of their own busy day to acknowledge another person. You are important, You are accepted, You are worthy.
Never underestimate the power of good morning texts, apologies, and random compliments. Because they will always matter and mean more than you can imagine.
Thursday, June 21, 2018
This past Tuesday, something huge happened. Something Epic. Zach was able to sit still and handle having four dental x-rays for the first time ever. He actually enjoyed the entire appointment. Cleaning. Flossing. Polishing and X-rays. Absolutely AMAZING!!!
Zach is 15, attends Chanhassen High School, and has Autism. He can speak and have his needs met, loves his family and friends deeply and loves Dora and Blue's Clues like they are his best friends. Zach struggles with sensory overload, including loud children, babies crying and dogs barking. He wears headphones often to block out the unexpected noises that often bombard him in daily life. Zach enjoys VCR tapes each day, flipping through top bound spiral notebooks. Zach is a ridiculously amazing artist with so much talent. I firmly believe he will design pictures for greeting cards or wrapping paper some day. He loves to swim, listen to the birds talk to him and discover new adventures each daily.
Since Zach was tiny, he has struggled significantly with his finger nails and toe nails being cut, with hair cuts and with going to the doctor and dentist. Josh was able to get Zach to the point where he could handle his head being shaved about every six weeks right in the middle of the kitchen floor. Occasionally, we are even able to bring Zach to Cost Cutters to get his hair cut. Once Zach had surgery on two toes to correct a defect, he was able to have both fingernails and toenails cut by me at home every couple of weeks. He was so much more comfortable seeing a doctor because of his surgery that he realized how cool it was to go to the doctors office.
Zach will often watch videos on youtube. Our search history is comic gold. How to draw funny french fries. Shalom Sesame, These Are the People In My Neighborhood. Adelle Hello. Dora VHS release dates. The best videos that he searches for are the ones pertaining to real life. Going to the dentist. Going to the doctor. How to make Chocolate Chip Cookies. Make people laugh. How to buy groceries. Zach searches these topics over and over until he feels comfortable with the matter at hand. He then will script through a doctors or dentist appointment with what he remembers and what he thinks will happen next. Scripting keeps him calm and enables Zach to actually enjoy what he is experiencing.
"MOM! I got a toothbrush!!! I love it. Look at the toothpaste! Oh a green water bottle!" My mom heart beams with all this joy he is experiencing. He was happy to go to the dentist. He loved that he got presents. He has talked about it to anyone who will listen for the last three days since he has been to the dentist. Every day, we continue to pray that life gets just a little easier for Zach. That the bark of a dog or yelp of a child will no longer him. That sounds, and lights and sometimes destinations will no longer bother him. But until then, we will count this as a huge gain. We will count this experience, (even 3 days later) as a success.
We will focus on all of things that Zach is able to now do and accomplish and work on the things that are still challenging for him. We will persevere right along with him. We won't let him give up. We will show him how to do the hard things. How to tackle what seems impossible. We will love him, hug him and encourage him. Because this kid, steals our hearts. His smile, his laugh, his ability to make others want to always be near him. This kid, deserve it. He deserves joy in return. Because joy is exactly what he has given to us as his parents.
Jody Hanson and Craig, her husband, moved to Chaska in 2014. They have been married for 15 years and have four children. (Ashlyn-13, Sam-10, Emily-8 and Caleb-6.) Jody's warm smile and infectious laugh light up every room. I had the amazing opportunity to visit with Jody about Homeschooling.
"Ashlyn has gone to school at Chapel Hill Academy in Chanhassen since 4th grade (going into 8th this fall). Sam will also attend Chapel Hill for the first time next year for 5th grade. I still teach Emily and Caleb at home, and may teach Ashlyn and/or Sam again at home at some point, depending on how the Lord leads us and what is best for each of them and for our family each year."
"I started homeschooling in 2012. We have run the gamut of school options with various kids - private, public, and homeschool, and had good experiences with it all. I had a lot of friends who homeschooled during the years that my kids were really little, and I was sure I would never do that! But when my oldest went to 1st grade and for the first time was gone all day AND had homework in the evenings, I realized that the rhythm of a traditional school schedule was not working for our family well in that season of life. My husband was also serving in the military then, and he was gone a lot, plus we moved every few years. When we made a move across the country after that first grade year, we decided to try homeschooling as a way to find a rhythm that would fit our particular family better, and as a way to provide educational continuity to our kids. We were also excited about the opportunity to spend more time with our kids and focus on their moral & emotional development as well as academics."
"My biggest challenge when it comes to homeschooling is probably the weariness I often feel about two-thirds of the way through the year. It’s not always easy being the teacher and being mom, not to mention all the other roles I play in my life. And it’s hard to get time to myself! But the longer I homeschool, the more I’ve learned how to integrate all those roles, and how to arrange my schedule and seek out support from my husband or from other homeschool moms who have been there."
"Hands down, I love getting to be with my kids! They are wonderful people, and I enjoy discovering who they are along with them. It’s amazing to have a front row seat to their learning, and to know everything they’re studying and be able to help them apply it to their life outside of school. And it’s exciting to look back at learning objectives - academic, social, emotional, spiritual, physical - and see the progress they make over a school year. My oldest child has had the privilege of attending a great private school for the last few years, but the years she & I spent homeschooling together have had a lasting positive impact on our relationship, and on my ability to ask the right questions about school so we can have that same ongoing dialogue about her learning."
When asked what she would like the People of Carver County to know about Homeschooling, "No one homeschooler is representative of all homeschoolers. We are all unique, with our own stories of how & why we do it. There are many ways to homeschool, and lots of resources out there to draw from. On the whole, homeschooler's experience excellent academic outcomes and lead well-rounded lives with extracurricular experiences and community involvement. Homeschooling is not for everyone, but it is a great option for education! I would encourage anyone who thinks they might want to homeschool their kids to start asking questions and do a little research so they can make a well-informed decision. Know that it is never too early or too late in your child’s academic career to choose to homeschool . . . And the choice doesn’t have to be forever. You can take it one year at a time."
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Saturday, June 16, 2018
I received a few odd ball comments on my blog and private messages through social media about my decision to enable ads to run on my blog. I have kept them as minimally invasive as possible, meaning ads only post on the side column and beneath posts. Not in the middle. I have been called a sell out. I have been called cheap. Let me share with you why I made this decision.
I am a wife. I am a mom. I am a Professional Organizer and small business owner. Writing is what helps support my family. It enables us to pay for prescription copays for Lily's inhalers and asthma meds. It pays for summer curriculum and nights out as a family. It adds to our family income. I have chosen to help support my family. By enabling legitimate ads to be posted by adsense, I am adding to my monthly income. There isn't anything shady or tricky about it. If you see the ad or click the ad, I may make money. They don't steal or share your info. They don't offer you info from unscreened companies.
Did I make the right decision? Yes. I did. I chose to make an additional small income for my family. To help support my family. And I will choose my family every time.
Thank you to all of the 13000 daily readers who deem my blog worth their time. To those readers that find the Gavin family intriguing enough to return and read more. Thank you. Thank you for supporting my family. 💜
Zach didn't want to leave the house this morning. He became aware of the time when he saw the clock in the car, knew we were running a bit behind and panicked. I explained that I was sorry that it was past 10 am and that we weren't at the library yet. (Every Saturday morning, 10:00 am to 11:30 am, be there or be square.) I said that we will get to the library as soon as possible and that we didn't have any plans to go anywhere else. Just the library. The library didn't have anything to do with it. He then slowed his speech about the time and said, "Mom, golf starts at 10!" All at once I realized what the sudden onset panic in the garage and driveway was all about. Zach recalled that Golf started at 10, it was 10:04 and he was missing it.
And with that, with wise words from dad, Zach calmed down immediately. "I will watch golf with dad when I get home. Golf is on all day mom!" Yes it is buddy. Golf is on all day. Normally, keeping up with our every Saturday Chaska Library visit from 10:00 am to 11:30 am is all that matters to Zach. But then golf on any other day usually doesn't start until 2pm. When you and I would say, I am not worried as I will only miss the first part, Zach thought even missing the first part could be catastrophic. And today Zach was able to calm the chaos by just hearing dad's voice on speaker phone through the sound system in the car. The knowledge of all day golf was exactly what Zach needed to calm himself and focus on the fun to be had at the library.
Zach's simple joys come from Dora and Blue Clue's. From holding VCR Tapes in his hand and plugging VCR's in and unplugging them at garage sales. From holding spiral bound notebooks and a green crayon. From the texture of a well worn 2nd hand tee shirt found at a thrift store. From knowing what his week will look like. Joy is found in always knowing that Saturday mornings, just like clockwork, he, Lily and I will travel the short distance to the Chaska Library. But today, Golf Reigns Supreme. The joy of all day golf calmed Zach so that he could enjoy the sun, and the drive to the library. He way able to enjoy a special animal science lesson from Miss Anglea Hunt at the library and also admire the dogs out for a stroll as we drove home. And today, joy was found in an all day golf. Because sometimes, Golf Reigns Supreme.
Friday, June 15, 2018
It has been 13 weeks. 13 weeks. Over three months. Josh's appointment yesterday didn't go well, but went as expected. The Neuro Vestibular Rehabilitation Specialist isn't able to help Josh anymore. He has now been referred back to the Head of Neurology at the U of M. Josh knew that this was coming. He is doing everything and more of what is being asked of him. He is walking and doing his vestibular exercises 4+ times a day. He is resting. He is getting plenty of water. He is sleeping. He is avoiding loud sounds and bright lights. He is doing everything. But there isn't anything left to do at this point. Vestibular Neuritis is something you would never wish on your worst enemy. There is no time line. There isn't a cure. There isn't steady improvement. Only days where you don't feel as horrible as the last. Some people struggle for the better part of year. Some have marked improvement after a couple months. And some have been struggling off and on for years.
The days are long for Josh. Lots of discouragement. Lots of hushing kids. Lots of trying to remember what he should do next. The days are challenging for me. Lots of housework and tending to kids and work as usual, but a whole lot less energy. The kids pray for dad and hope that the next day he will smile and be able to play more games and swim with them.
In these 13 weeks, I haven't just forgotten how long it has been. I have forgotten how to be spontaneous. I have forgotten how to just pack a bag for the day and get up and go. I forgotten how to get everything on my shopping list in one stop. But what I have found, what I have discovered, is so much more. I have discovered what true Christian Community looks like. What loving friends do when crisis after crisis hits.
Our family was anxiously awaiting the arrival of our best friends from Georgia last Saturday. To have them here in Minnesota, here in our arms again. It was everything we were missing. The four of them and the four of us. Framily. Our friends became family long ago and now even the 1200 mile separation can't keep us a part. Shortly after arriving, water was discovered in our basement. The storms from Saturday morning were so overwhelming with over 5 inches in just the first three hours, that our small city of Carver couldn't take it. 4 roads were completely flooded, two with rushing rapids flowing down them. And our basement wasn't able to handle it. Water was seeping up through the cement ground. The tiles. The padding and the carpet. Water was everywhere. I fell into a pile of tears. How were we going to do this?
Our guests stepped in and we got to work. More friends arrived. Furniture was moved, 60 gallons of water was emptied by wet vac. Carpets were pulled up, padding removed and tossed out the window. Laura and I went to Home Depot for two industrial fans and a huge dehumidifier. We had a plan, dry it all out, and possibly save the carpet. We all worked so very hard and I am sure we all collapsed into a deep sleep that night. Our bodies hurt from the heavy back breaking work. The next day, after church and a party for our friends, all the men headed down to the basement and made sure that all of the water was removed. Checked baseboards, tiles, carpet now dried out and furniture. We were going to be able to save the carpet due to the fast acting few on Saturday who ripped up the padding. All of the water logged padding was then cut down and bagged for disposal. We were given an amazing referral and two gentleman came Monday morning, cleaned everything up, laid new padding, stretched and laid the carpet. I couldn't believe how perfect everything looked. As if the flooding never happened!! More friends arrived that evening to help remove all of the wet vacs and cords and return all of the furniture and belongings to the rightful place. (We had displaced our renter for three days from her large basement suite as the water damage was almost all in her space! Almost everything was salvaged!) Monday night. Three days of fun and chaos. But our basement was put back together. I weep just thinking about God's timing. No. It wasn't the perfect vacation for our friends that came to visit. But what would I have done if they weren't here? They jumped in and did it. Did it all. Eternally grateful is an understatement.
That is what community looks like. That is what serving one another looks like. These are the same people that have been mowing our lawn, bringing us dinner and groceries, praying for us, and encouraging us these long 13 weeks. These are the friends that continue to care for us when we aren't able to do it ourselves. These are the friends that prove themselves selfless time and time again and serve so very well. I will not forget each of our friends who have come to our aid and continue to do so. The friends that wipe my stray tears, send me funny jokes and laugh and hug me each and every time I need it. These are the friends who have so perfectly put Christian Community on display for others to take note and learn from them.
So when you forget how long your spouse hasn't been well. When you forget how to make life work each day, remember this. Ask for help. Accept the Help. And when you can help, always help. Because Christ is Glorified. Glorified in our illness. Glorified in our weakness. Glorified in hot mess 13 week trials. He is Glorified. Each and every day it is a choice to find Joy. Finding Joy in the Creator. This day, this week. these 13 weeks, I have found joy in Christian Community that God has so faithfully provided for us. Christian Community that is serving us and loving us so very well. Thank you to each of you.
Thursday, June 7, 2018
This kid. Today is Zach's last day of his freshman year at Chanhassen High School. He has worked so hard and has really practiced being bold and courageous each and every day. Stepping out of our front door is stepping out of comfort zone, so we admire each attempt he makes to learn more about the world around him. Zach is kind and compassionate, caring and giving, helpful and creative. He has amazing artistic talents, is a ridiculously great swimmer, and could beat anyone in speed walking. He believes blue flax seed chip consumption should be an Olympic sport, counts down the days until puppies are at the library and will challenge anyone to a dance off on the Target front door security cameras. This kid makes me want to be a better mom. Love him and am grateful that God deemed me capable to be the mom to a child such as this. 💜
Wednesday, June 6, 2018
And hits my ankles and brushes my legs
I fondly remember a simpler time when
I thought being outside was my job
When mom and dad would send us out
To play all day and return for food
Maybe even water and an afternoon rest
Under the big oak tree in the front yard
When dirt was something to seek
And I knew all the birds by name
Because they kindly called out to me
Each morning to come and play
My sister and I would join in the fun
A few neighbor kids by our side
We would run and play and sing and
Shout and chase each day away
In the country the freedom we had
To explore and create new adventures
Each day led to the promise of sleep
Every night our heads hit the pillow
I now find myself lingering outdoors
And seeking out the wind and the rain
The sun and even the shade because
I miss what I had when I was a kid
Nothing to distract me from the fun of
Each new day when dishes and laundry
And meals seemed to be ready for me
I know it was all done by my mom
I thank her for enabling my sister and I
To take in all the sights and sounds
Of which our country home offered
To us in abundance each and every day
Our mom insisted that we be kids
And enjoy all the nature that surrounded
Us on every side and in every season
Oh how I loved my job as a kid
Today I will explore
Today I will walk in the fields
Today I will pick flowers
Today I will enjoy the grass that sways
Saturday, June 2, 2018
I find myself looking for something. And in the throes of searching, I pause, unsure of what has driven me to even look. What am I missing? What am I searching for?Sometimes, I realize it is something I haven't even lost. I find myself searching for something I have forgotten.
These past 11 weeks have been challenging. Josh continues to struggle with severe equilibrium loss, which is called Vestibular Neuritis. Inflammation or swelling is present in his right ear canal and it is pressing on a nerve. He hasn't been able to work or drive and spends his days with many rounds of exercises and short walks to help his brain counteract the imbalance. He has struggled with discouragement, anxiety due to worsening symptoms and overall fatigue. There isn't a cure, there isn't medication and there isn't a standard course of treatment that every patient with this condition can follow. Each individual body responds differently and heals in its own time. Some people struggle for a month, some are nine months in to a year and struggle to hold on to their life as they know it.
Josh continues to build his strength back up, but it takes time. He has been approved to return to work very part time, and only for sit down job tasks. He didn't pass all three parts of the driving test to return. The Neuro Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy Specialist believes that he just needs to become more comfortable behind the wheel. He hasn't driven a car in so many weeks. He drove Lily and I yesterday to prove to me he could do it. And he did quite a good job. We focused on blocking out the sun (sunglasses) and limiting distractions (no music and quiet conversation). He will continue working on driving the next few days so that both he and I feel comfortable with him behind the wheel.
He knows that he could have a set back returning to work. He is cautiously optimistic that returning to work and having something to focus on will improve his overall cognitive functioning. He also has been very good during this eternal recovery listening to his body and responding in kind, sometimes lying down in dark room, other times increasing his exercises to help his brain perceive balance when it isn't actually present.
Josh and I know that this challenging recovery is far from over. But we have continue to pray that he is past the worst parts. We want to thank our friends, family and neighbors from the bottom of our heart. Without each of you, these past weeks would have been unbearable. Oh the amazing meals. My goodness the amazing meals. My children will now start complaining that dinner isn't up to their expectations and ready on the table at 5pm. Thank you for the cards, the flowers, the groceries and APPLES that we seem to constantly run out of. Thank you for mowing our yard and picking up weird things at the store for us, like goat cheese and beets, sweet potato crackers and plum preserves. And thank you to the Ostlie family for borrowing Lego sets to Josh. This amazing form of visual therapy has aided in his recovery and rescued him from boredom.
Thank you for PRAYING, thank you for your love and encouragement, for your text messages and phone calls. For the timely jokes and late night check ins. Thank you for your hugs, for restoring our forgotten smiles and for enabling us to be a mess and know that it is only temporary. Thank you for accepting us as we are now, not who we used to be. Thank you for not asking how you can help, but telling us what you are going to do. Thank you for being true friends and circling the wagons right when we needed it.
These coming weeks may be more of the same. But we will walk forward boldly, knowing that this season too shall pass.
Let us then approach God's throne of Grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
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