I Failed My Children

I failed my children. I have made one of the biggest mistakes a parent can make. Powerful words for a Mom to say. But it is true. What could I have done that was so bad?

Well, I didn’t beat, starve or abandon them. I didn’t take them to church every Sunday like I should have. Every single Sunday I should have had them in Sunday school and then sitting in a pew with me hearing the Word of God. Oh I took them here and there. But I failed to make it a priority like food, clothes and shelter. I let them go with friends and relatives to church and youth groups. But I didn’t take them myself consistently. We were not in church every Sunday as a family.

Why didn’t I do this? There are many excuses I can make for it. I was tired. We didn’t have a church we liked. There was that thing we wanted to do. I wanted to sleep. We will go next Sunday. It’s okay, someone else will take them. Well, we have had a hectic week. My Mom and Dad are to blame for not taking me regularly. On and on I could go but they are just that excuses. But there is no excuse. It clearly says in Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. I taught my children manners, right from wrong and how to be good people. But that alone will not get them into heaven.

I am extremely thankful that the good Lord saw me failing my children and put people in their life that would lead them to be saved. I will forever regret not being that person. I do have peace of mind that their salvation is secure.

So where does that leave them now? I am in church every time the doors are open. And where are my children? Well, they are there sometimes but not every Sunday. They are adults and I cannot force them. If I had started from the start of being in that pew every Sunday, then they would wake up every Sunday out of habit and be there. Then the habit would turn into a need to be there like mine. I did not train them up in the way the real way they should go. Now they are busy on Sunday. Too much to do, they have plans with friends, or simply just don’t want to.

I have ask for forgiveness over my mistake. But I still beat myself up over it. The verse from 1 Timothy 5:8 really convicts me. It says – If any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied them faith, and is worse than an infidel. pretty bad when the Good Lord calls you like you are. I pray every day that my children will see how I jump up to go to church and tag along. I pray this cycle will be broken and they will do better than I did.

So my advice to all the ones with children… Take them to church. Let them see it as a good time and not a burden or a chore. Let them see you excited to go. Stop looking at your watch ready to bust out the door before your pew ever gets warm. Teach them. Talk with them. Pray with them. Do it now while they are young and they will standing beside you with their families when you are old.

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You are luckier than you know

I spent the weekend finishing up the Christmas shopping for the kids. Jeff and I had full intentions on being completely done by November 1st but failed. I even had our Christmas cards filled out by October 15th. But we failed to finish shopping. December came into our lives this year like a wrecking ball. We both just kept putting off any thought or mention of anything Christmas related.

So shopping we went and I must say that it was hard. It was hard not being able to buy Richie gifts. It seemed like everywhere I looked was something he would have loved. I couldn’t find one thing for Luke. Savannah has such random things that I hope she can put them together, Krista ended up with a million of one thing for her stocking and hardly anything under the tree. I kept trying to keep my mind clear and focused on the task at hand but the people around me in the store made me so angry! One lady complaining because they were sold out of a blue whatever it was she wanted and now she was just doomed for Christmas morning. Another complaining because she had to feed all of her husband’s family for dinner. One complaining because the her grown kids weren’t staying the whole time at her house. Then the one that was just over it all because she mad because the jewelry department closed at 9. I have never seen so much ungratefulness in my life. It was all I could not to just stomp my feet and scream at them! Do they not know how lucky they are??????? Do they not know of parents who have children in the military who will not be getting to come home? What about the ones like me who have a child spending his first Christmas in heaven? What about the homeless? What about the ones who can’t afford to give their children anything at all? Does it really matter that your son is going to his in-laws for a little while over the holidays? I would give my left foot just to be able to have all my kids under my roof one more time this year even if it is for 5 minutes! These people do not know how lucky they have it!

I finally just checked out and left the stores. I have not finished my shopping. I didn’t even get halfway done. But you know what? I don’t care! I will relish having Luke, Savannah and Jeff at my table and in my house rather than the gifts. I am going to now wrap what I have bought and fill out IOU’s for the rest. The wonderful thing about my children, they know the reason for the season and the meaning of family and could care less about gifts.

Be thankful. Be grateful. You are luckier than you think. Someone else always has it worse. And as the wise Cassie says. “Smile at everyone you see. Your smile may be the only one they get today!”

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Richie’s Christmas Tree 2014

I did something Sunday no Mother should ever have to do. I put a Christmas tree up at my son’s graveside. For the ones that have had to do this, I pray for your heart. For the ones that haven’t, I pray you never have to.
I made sure that I got just the right colored balls for it. Jeff worked to make sure that he found lights that were battery operated so it would shine bright. We let everyone put messages of love on the balls and we hung them securely on this little fake four foot tree. Then Jeff, Will and I went to the cemetery and we put it right in the middle of him and my Uncle to share. We turned the lights on and just watched.
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What do you do after it is hung? What do you say to each other? There is nothing to say or do but to get in the car and ride home in silence. I went to bed immediately after we got home. I cried myself sick all night. And I mean actually sick. I couldn’t watch the baby or get Monkey from school that next day. I stayed in bed until the next day and then forced myself up. The reality of it slammed me. My son did not help decorate the tree in the game room. My son has a tree at a cemetery. At a graveside. A tree next to a headstone. He will not open presents on Christmas Eve with us. He will not get excited over the smallest little stocking stuffer. He will not be here.
My sister has been putting a tree up at a graveside for 13 years now. I walked to my nephew’s place of rest while Jeff and Will were busy with the tree. She had put his up the day before. It is killing me this first year. I just cannot imagine 13 years. My heart breaks for me, her and all parents who have to do this any day of the year. I pray for you all and ask that you say a prayer for all of us.
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Thanksgiving 2014

Well, I survived another first. Or rather, we survived another first. Our first Thanksgiving holiday since Richie passed away. Truth be told, Thanksgiving to me and the kids is really not about the turkey and all that jazz. We don’t even spend it together. They have always spent it with their Dad. Thanksgiving for us was the weekend to cut down our tree and decorate our house. But here is what we did and how we made it new traditions mixed in the old.
Thanksgiving Day this year was not spent at the Brooks home as Jeff and I have usually done. We just weren’t into trying to be happy for anyone. Instead, we took off and had a lovely dinner at the Waffle House just the two of us. I even was feeling so good that I told him I wanted to go to the grocery store and get the stuff to try and make a new pie. While at the store, in a different town, I ran into someone that meant a whole lot to Richie. And Richie to him. We talked for a bit and both shed a tear together because he said he misses Richie and has to catch himself from texting him. We said our goodbyes and I just gave Jeff “The Look”. He knew it was time to go. We came home and spent the rest of the day in comfortable silence doing our own thing.
Friday, we went to my Mom’s and just relaxed with her. She had made me some dressing and gravy. Daddy Ray had made me my Lima beans just the way the I like them. (Which is cooked by him only) We just had a pleasant day. Then home and did nothing again.
Saturday! My Day! The day to get our tree, eat a huge meal, laugh with the kids and just be happy. Or at least as happy as we could be. The kids and I decided that this year, we were not going to have the traditional dinner. Instead, I made chili, taco meat and we had all the fixings. A true Taco/Chili bar. Complete with homemade chocolate marble cheesecake and coconut custard pie. We all got up, dressed, picked up Krista and off to the tree farm we went. Me, Jeff, Luke, Savannah, Colton, Krista and Will. After searching the entire tree farm twice, possible three times, we found the tree. We all took turns cutting it down and taking pictures. Guess what? In the effort finally just cut a tree down, Luke failed to notice that ours had another tree attached to it. So now our tree has a huge hole in the back. Oh well, it is still beautiful. Home we came to eat and decorate the tree. All this while the Georgia/Georgia Tech game was on. My tree got decorated and everyone, even grumpy Luke, helped. It is beautiful.
We had a great day! Tech won!!!!!!! The only thing missing was Richie. I did very well. I held up all day without shedding one tear in front of anyone. I smiled and laughed like everything was the way it always is. I made sure that the start of this holiday season was not scarred by pain. It is not fair to all these children. Death has robbed them of so much. I mustered up all the strength I could find and made sure that they didn’t feel a shadow of death over them. Yes, we still remembered and talked about Richie. We always do that. But I made sure that there was not a sullen moment to the day.
After everything was done, the kids all went their separate ways. Jeff and Will were all into football rival games. I went to my room and then I got to have the sadness. I deserved it. I cried and prayed and remembered and mourned until I went to sleep.
And then I woke up to start the holiday season. We will see how it goes. Pray for me.
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Dear Family & Friends

Dear Family & Friends,

I just want to take a second to thank each and every one of you for helping me all this year. I have been through what is the most horrible thing for a Mom to go through.

Now I want to apologize in advance for how things may be in the next few months. I may not be at everything everyone thinks I should be at. I may attend other events that you do not think I should be at either. I may not answer the phone or texts right away. I may not remember to tell you Happy Birthday, bring a Christmas gift or remember that you are going through something too. You may think that I am spending too much time doing what you think are meaningless tasks but to me they are keeping me from breaking.

You see, for the first time in 21 years, this family will be missing a piece of us during the holidays. All our family traditions are built for a house with a Mom, Dad and 3 kids. Everything me, Jeff and the kids have ever known is gone. But just because one is gone does not mean that 2 should be without or not have as much fun and love. I will be spending the next 2 months and especially the holidays doing what I think is best for my kids, husband and myself. We will be mixing old traditions with new ones. We will laugh, cry and at times scream. All I know right now is we are about to have holidays and a few short days later the 1st anniversary of the worst day of our lives. And right now, my kids and husband are my main priority.

I apologize again if I upset anyone in the next few weeks. My family and friends are the most important things in my life, but for now, I need to focus on the Schell/Steele house.

Family Reunion Weekend

Well, I did it! I made it through the first family reunion weekend since Richie passed away. Let me tell you all about it.

Friday started with out newest tradition for home football games of eating at the local mexican place before the game. We meet Carol and Will to fill up on cheese dip and tacos before cheering on Will’s brother on the field and Savannah during the half time performance. My sister Jessi and her family met us there. We bumped into our cousin Laura and her girls. We spoke to a bunch of friends that were eating there also. Then off to the game! My nephew Kane was just so amazed by the football experience. Lexie and Krista thought they were getting to be big girls by going to the concession stand by themselves. They didn’t realize the whole time they were being watched or followed. It was just a great night!

Saturday started with me and Krista getting last minute stuff done around the house in preparation for my sisters and their families to stay over. Then we went to my Aunt Judy’s to get the cooking done for the reunion. Jess and Angel met me there and we did what was need to be done then off to my house it was. We had a houseful! Let’s see, it was Me, Jeff, Savannah, Krista, Luke, Dean, Jessi, Felker, Lexie, Kane, Angel, Murray, Madison and of course Bella the dog. We feasted on tacos and taco soup until we were stuffed! Then our cousins Bubba, Alicia, Kaelyn, Jabbo and Tina came over and we built a fire in the back yard and let all the kids roast marshmallows. My sisters and I gave the girls a bath and put everyone to bed. Then all the adults gathered around the fire talking and laughing. We learned more about baby sister than we wanted to know. it was just a wonderful night! This house was filled with laughter, love and commotion! Something I have been missing dearly! I also know that this was my sister’s way of trying to make the next day easier on me and I am so grateful for them!

Sunday started with crying in the shower dreading the afternoon of a family reunion filled with everyone but my son. For the first time in 21 years, I was not going to have Richie with me there. Savannah and I took my nieces and nephew to Sunday School and church with us. Afterwards, we headed over to Aunt Judy’s. I prayed all the way over there for the strength to just get through the day.

I pull up and the road is filled with cars. I knew then, it was a pretty good turnout. As soon as I get there, my Aunt decides to start so we can all eat. Guess what the first sentence out of her mouth was? “Well, you all know we lost two this year but we gained two.” I know she meant well and I know what she was trying to say but I just wanted to turn around and go home right then. the first sentence of the reunion was a reminder that I lost my child. I just walked over to my cousin Jabbo and Laura and stood there. What could I say? What could I do? It is a fact I have to live with. My son is gone.

We then said our prayer and all started pigging out. I just went and sat with Jeff and Tina and ate trying to avoid the whole thing. Tina is one of the few that I confide in and knew how much I wanted to just be at home in the bed. Don’t get me wrong, I did eventually start making my way to talking with people. I have another post coming for a special chat I had with Cindy later. The afternoon was shaping up to be a good one after all. Then it happened….

We always take pictures of each set of family groups. I had said very sternly that I didn’t want to do that part this year. Mom had already left so she could go to work so there was no point in our family group doing it. My kids didn’t want to do it because they knew how much of a reality shock it was going to be. Laura came up to me and said that Judy wanted us to do it. I just looked at her and she knew how I felt. She moved onto another family groups so that I could get the guts up for our turn. I was trying to leave and just sneak off so I didn’t have to do it and I was caught. So fine, Let’s do this and get it over with. Let me fight back tears while trying to fake a smile. Let me stand up in front of everyone so they can see how our family group is one less. Let us take an immortal picture so that I have to be reminded every time I see it.

We stood up there to take the picture. I smiled my fakest smile. As soon as it was done, so was I. I just walked away and ended up in the bedroom laying n the bed. I was doing my breathing because I felt a major panic attack coming on. And then listening to my sisters and daughter walking up and down the hall trying to find me made me giggle. They were looking in every room but the one I was in. Trying to unlock doors. (By the way, there are only 3 bedrooms in a very tiny house.) Finally my daughter found me. I told her I was fine, just needed a minute and then here came Angel, Chase and Jessi. Jessi made a vulgar joke and panic attack turned into laughs.

I left shortly after that. I said my goodbyes and snuck away. I came home and climbed into bed. Cried myself into a nap. I survived the first major family event since Richie passed. People tell me that the second year is the worst though because I will see how everyone else is moving on while I am forever stuck. (a post for later on) But either way, I survived this one. I don’t even want to think of the next one.

Me and Kane wearing our gloves to cut onions and peppers.

Me and Kane wearing our gloves to cut onions and peppers.

He is just precious!

He is just precious!

Kane, Madison, Lexie and Krista all ready for church with Aunt Sissy

Kane, Madison, Lexie and Krista all ready for church with Aunt Sissy

I tell you, he is just the most precious!

I tell you, he is just the most precious!

Our first family reunion picture without Richie.

Our first family reunion picture without Richie.

Eggs for Richie

Easter is coming up and this one will be rough. Not the actual day of Easter but the days leading up to it. Every year since my first child was born, we have always dyed eggs as a family. Even as they grew older and became teenagers, they still looked forward to it. With the huge variations of ages in the Steele kids, the older kept the tradition with us for the younger. We always have the best times. We eat supper together. I always make a cupcakes or cookies to eat while making our eggs. The older kids will have a competition to see who can make the best decorated egg. The younger kids get amazed at the magic of drawing on an egg with a white crayon and then seeing the effect after dying. Some years, I will have some new technique to try to dye eggs and the kids will laugh at me trying it. All in all it is just one of my favorite times of the year. Full of laughter and messes!

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This year however, there will be one less sound of laughter. I have developed a fear of what I will do when it comes to times of family traditions. Will I cry and mourn and not participate? Once again, not fair to the family around me. Or will I participate and have fun and then get upset with myself for enjoying something without him?

My poor husband and sisters are trying their best to make sure that I have the best days and holidays possible. I came up with the idea to get everyone to make eggs for Richie to put at the cemetery for him. I told Jeff what I wanted to do and he put his mind to work and made a trip to home depot. He cut out wooden egg shapes and I gave them out to the ones that wanted one. After everyone had colored the eggs the way they wanted. He clear coated them more than once to make them extra shiny and drilled holes in each of them. He them made stakes out of clothes hangers and got them all fixed up for me. I know in a way he is glad they are done because for two weeks now, all he has heard from me is eggs.

I went out to the cemetery this morning after dropping Krista off at school. It was 7:30 and the sun was just getting bright. I spent this morning talking to Richie about each egg and who made them. I told him how they were dealing with life without him and asked him to watch over each person. I also told him how each person that made one was a blessing to me. I set them up and arranged the flowers around him. As I did this I was crying and asking him to please help each of us and to please keep smiling down on all the family. I then took a picture to send to my sisters and Jeff and told my Baby Boy goodbye.

The eggs looked so beautiful with the shiny colors. I am proud of everyone and the thought they put into them. It makes me feel like we haven’t left Richie out of part of our Easter tradition. I have many more ideas to keep him involved even though he is not here. Poor Jeff, Angel and Jessi. They are going to think I am crazy at some ideas. Wait until they see what I have in store for Easter morning!

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