Month: April 2014

Memories of Mom #12

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IMG_0080Dearest Emi and Ava,

I was talking with one of my friends the other day and asked if she had gone to a recent concert.  She said no, because the kids were still too young and got too tired too quickly.

It brought back this great fact that I know about your mom.   She LOVED concerts!

Her and I went to many many together – from rock to country to Christian bands – she loved seeing and experiencing live music.

As a matter of fact, one of your mom’s and my first dates was the Tim McGraw/Faith Hill Soul 2 Soul tour concert on September 26, 2000 when they played in North Little Rock.  We had horrible seats!  But a great time!

While your mom may argue that one of her favorites was Dierks Bentley (she thought he was cute), I think our overall favorite together was going to see Bon Jovi in Las Vegas.  It was such a blast!

I loved to watch your mom get excited during her favorite songs.  She would clap, throw her hands in the air, and sing along!  And…….every so often……dance a little.  Your mom didn’t have a problem “letting her hair down”.  🙂

IMG_7785Something else I loved about your mom was that she wanted you to experience concerts and live music too.  There were a few times I tried to talk her in to leaving you guys at the house so we could go enjoy a concert alone together, but she wanted you to come and experience.  Eventually though, like my friend at the top of this post, you’d get tired really quickly and mom would sit down and hold you for the remainder of the concert.

I felt a little bad when this would happen because she wasn’t able to enjoy the concert as much.  I’d ask her to trade me places, but usually she’d say no and just keep on holding one or both of you for the remainder of the event.  In a very motherly way, I think that she enjoyed being there with you and knowing that you got to enjoy some of the concert before you were off to sleep.   She was very unselfish in this manner.

019She also tried to seek out experiences that you two would really like.  One year that was a Fresh Beat Band concert in Kansas City.  Look it up.  When you’re older you’ll probably be like – “I didn’t like them.”  But OH YES YOU DID!  In fact, your mom made you Fresh Beat Band jackets just to go to the concert.  She put hours in to finding the materials and putting it all together.  And whether you admit it today or not – you two loved the concert.  And your mom and I both enjoyed watching you light up.

I love that your mom loved and enjoyed music.  I love that she wanted you to enjoy it too.

I hope that you have many many opportunities to experience great concerts in your future.  But just remember -it’s ok to clap, sing along, throw your hands in the air……and dance a little (or a lot)!  🙂

I love you!  ~Dad


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Memories of Mom #11

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Fall 2006 151.2Dearest Emi and Ava,

As I was cleaning yesterday, I came across a photo of your mom…….as a brunette.  I know, crazy right?!

As long as I’ve known your mom, she was always a blonde.  Varying degrees of blonde – but a blonde.  Then, one day in 2006, she determined that she wanted to go darker for a while.

I had no idea that she meant that she was going to jump off the blonde-wagon altogether.

It was quite a shock when I came home from work and there she was – a brunette!  Personally, I thought it looked pretty good.

Your mom wore it that way for about 3 months over the Christmas holiday.  She didn’t let me take a lot of pictures with her hair that way, but I managed to get a few.  Y’know, for posterity.

Ultimately, she decided that she would go back to her lighter color.  I guess it answered the question that blondes do have more fun, because she was so much happier when she was “back”.

This, as well as some clothing style and hobby experiments she made over the years, taught a couple things about your mom that I think are very valuable for you.

#1 – Your mom wasn’t afraid to try new things.  Although she didn’t always want pictures of it, she certainly wasn’t afraid of change.  It’s good to reach out, branch out, and experiment to determine likes and dislikes.  Try it for yourself and don’t always take someone else’s word for it.

#2 – Your mom knew who she was.  While she always experimented, she was true to who she was and if she didn’t like the change, she’d say, “That’s not me.” and change back or try something else.  She was comfortable, confident and happy with who she was as a person – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

While I want you to become who you’re meant to become, I pray you take example from the way your mom lived her life.  She left us some hints on how to living a great life!   😉

I love you.  ~Dad

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A True Blessing for the Ages

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Photo Apr 24, 5 42 45 PMWhat an amazing group of people I work with.

Throughout this journey that April, I and the girls have gone on we have been simply amazed at the kindness, thoughtfulness and generosity of so many people.  Today, proved this to the Nth degree.

One of my friends and colleagues, Matt Martin, invited me to meet him at my church tonight.   Honestly, I didn’t think much of it. I thought he had something to drop off or give me.  So, I loaded up the girls, ran a few errands and showed up to meet him.

As I drove in to the church drive, I saw a small gathering of people.

As we got closer, I realized it was not just Matt, but several of my colleagues and friends from work.

After we parked and got out in the blustery and rainy weather, Matt started to speak.

He said that we were gathered to pay tribute and honor to April and our family.  They had purchased a Willow Oak and were planting it on our church property to honor and remember April and the impact that she’s had on our lives.

I didn’t know what to say.  I could feel the tears welling up as he was talking, but managed to keep them at bay.

What an amazing group of people I work with that would do something so meaningful and thoughtful.  Something that not just blesses us in the moment, but that will bless us for years and decades to come.  A true blessing for the ages.

Photo Apr 24, 5 54 22 PMWe all watched as the crew planted the tree then took some pictures to commemorate.  And followed that with some hugs for each one.

As we thanked them and drove away, Ava said, “They planted a tree to celebrate our mom’s life.  That’s awesome!”  That was it!  The tipping point.  And the tears fell freely.

Quite frankly, I think I’m still in shock a little even as I write, because this wasn’t expected at all.  I (we) are so appreciative of my Walmart Family.

So that we don’t forget who was in attendance, I will simply thank Matt Martin, Mike Turner, Ami Spivey, Annie Fuentes, Jeff Neria, Allen Bates, Mike Swatsworth, Shauna Bowen, Kit Nowin, Missy Schubert, and Mike Keller.  And a special thanks to Pastor Jamie Lantzsch for making it happen on the church’s side.  I did make sure to ask if someone had talked to the church first! 🙂

What an amazing group of people I work with.  Thank you.

Memories of Mom #10

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Dearest Emi and Ava,

DocImage000000056Tonight I went to the wedding of a couple dear friends from church, Miguel and Michelle Gamboa.  It was a cozy and beautiful wedding!

You know, I love weddings.  Want to know why?

Because of your mom.

Your mom forever changed the way that I look at weddings.

I have a favorite part and I always watch for it.

You see, there is this point in the wedding where all of the bridesmaids and groomsmen are already in.  All of the people are seated.  And the groom is at the front waiting for his beautiful bride.

Then it happens.

The doors in the back of the chapel open and everyone turns to look at the bride.  But if you watch the groom, you can see him lose his breath.  This look of amazement and awe of just how beautiful and radiant his bride is overwhelms him.  Then he smiles this funny smile.  It is my favorite moment.


Because your mom did that to me.  

When the back doors  flew open at our wedding, I saw your mom in her wedding dress for the first time.  Time stopped for a moment.  I lost my breath.  I was amazed at how absolutely stunning and elegant she was.  And I smiled that funny little smile.  It is one of the most vivid memories I have and one of my absolute favorites that I will never ever forget.

And every time since that I’ve gone to a wedding, I always think of that moment.  And now that your mom is in Heaven, it has all the more meaning.

Tonight, I saw it on Miguel’s face.  Right when the doors opened and he saw Michelle.  He even smiled that funny little smile.

I am so lucky to have this wonderful memory that your mom blessed me with.

I pray that one day, both of you will find husbands whose breath you take away and that you make smile that funny little smile.  I’ll be watching for it.

I love you.  ~Dad

Memories of Mom #9

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Dearest Emi and Ava,

IMG_2814Last night one of our friends brought us some chocolate cake. As I looked at it on the counter today, I thought happily about how much your mom loved chocolate cake.  Actually, most things chocolate…ice cream, candy, etc.

Your mom and I loved going out to dinner and sharing a piece of chocolate cake afterwards.   And we were ALWAYS on the hunt for the BEST chocolate cake.  In fact, there were some restaurants that we never returned to because their cake wasn’t up to par.

Interestingly, the two of you differ on your stances on chocolate, which always baffled your mother and I.

Emi – you’ve never been a fan of chocolate at all.  In fact, last night, you came in and said you wanted to try some to see if your taste buds had changed.  I told you to go for it, but that I wanted to watch.  You brought some M&Ms back to my office and after way-over thinking it finally popped one in your mouth.  As you bit down, you may have well had a brussel sprout in your mouth.  Your face contorted and you couldn’t get it off your tongue fast enough.  I heard you gagging as you ran for the sink.   All I could do was laugh and I know your mom was laughing from Heaven too!

Ava – you’re the opposite!  You’re more like your mom here.  The first thing you did when you got home from school today was ask if you could have some of the cake.  And within seconds of me saying yes, you had the lid off and a fork in the cake.  You came back with a chocolate ring around your lips.  When I asked you how it was, you simply replied with a huge grin, “Unbelievable!”  That is the same response your mom gave often to chocolate cake!  You are your mother’s daughter!  Emi – you may have been switched at birth. Ok – just kidding on that part because there are lots of things you do that remind me of your mom! Plus, I’m sure you’ll come around on this chocolate thing.

One of my favorite memories of your mom and our “chocolate cake eating” adventures was the final bite.  We would both constantly encourage each other to have the “last bite”.  It depended on the night as to who actually got it, but as I look back on it now, it was an awesome display of love.  We each wanted the other to enjoy the very best and were willing to deprive ourselves of that moment for the sake of the other.  It’s kind of like the whole crispy fries thing I talked about in Memories of Mom #2.

I hope that you both find someone one day that let’s you have the last bite of chocolate cake.

I love you!  ~Dad

Memories of Mom #8

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Dearest Emi and Ava,

Wow!  What a wonderful Easter service we had today at Cross Church!  As you know, today is one month to the day that your mom was called home.

What a month it’s been too!  Filled with all kinds of emotion, but more importantly filled with tremendous love and support from the people that have rallied around us.  God has continued to bless us amazingly!  During a time when most would find darkness, we’ve seen tremendous light and grace showered over us.

I was expecting today to be something special – and God did not disappoint!

At church today, Pastor Floyd shared about the Hope for Heaven!  And even though there were over 2000 people there, I couldn’t help but feel like the sermon was just for me today.  In fact, when Pastor Floyd called me out at the end and extended grace and blessings to our family during this time – I KNEW that God was talking to me.

That’s how He is you know.

He uses all sorts of ways and methods to reassure us, remind us, comfort us, uplift us, and speak to us.  I could picture your mom just standing there smiling at me.

Your mom loved this time of the year.  The rebirth.  The joy of newness.  The life.

This morning as I was getting you ready for church, I kept thinking, “How would mom do this?”  She loved picking out your Easter dresses and getting you ready for today.

When I got home, I started looking at some pictures of Easters past.

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Your mom was so fantastically attentive to making sure the holidays were thought through and that you girls had great experiences.  The pictures reminded me of all of the great Easters we had together.  She loved dying Easter eggs with both of you and watching your faces when you discovered what the Easter Bunny brought.  Silly tradition, but one that made you smile so brightly!  She also loved having the family come together and just celebrate with each other.

IMG_2538There was one set of Easter pictures that I came across that made me laugh so loud!  I remember it was pouring down rain and the eggs were already outside waiting to be found, but I didn’t think you should go out.  Your mom said, “Let them go!  It’ll be fun!”  And out the door you went in your Sunday best!  Splashing in the water and hunting eggs!  You were so soaked, but so happy!  Your mom just laughed the entire time!

Like I said, your mom always did great to make sure the holidays were great memories for us!  But one of the things I loved most was that she never lost site of what holidays like Easter and Christmas were really about.  And together we made sure that you knew too.

I am so thankful for these memories!

I love you!  ~Dad

A New Easter Meaning

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This is going to be an interesting year for the Jackson family.

We don’t get to spend this one with my beloved bride and the girls’ cherished mother.  This means that this year there will be many “firsts without” that we’ll experience.  Holidays, special events, and regular things in every day life.  Today is one of those days.

Photo Apr 19, 10 39 37 PM
These figurines were a very special gift from a dear friend that left us speechless as we gazed upon them for the first time. And they now bring a smile to our face every time we catch a glimpse and are reminded of our own special angel.

Today is Easter.  Sunday has come.

This holiday has always had a very special meaning, but this year it is so much more.  It has a new meaning for us.  A new reality.

Following April’s passing, many people reminded me that that day was the first day of Spring.  It was a day that symbolized life, rebirth, and newness.  It meant transition and growth.  I have no doubt that there was meaning in that day.

This Easter, however, marks the one month anniversary of April’s death, but only death of her earthly body.

Easter also symbolizes life, rebirth, and newness.  But it symbolizes so much more.  It symbolizes resurrection.  The resurrection of our Savior, Jesus, that died for OUR sins so that we might live eternally.  So that we might live in Heaven with Him.  Free from pain, free from heartache, free from condemnation.    In an eternal state of praise and glory to our creator!  WOW!   

And it is this biblical promise that gives us hope today.  Hope in the knowledge that April is in Heaven.  Hope in the knowledge that that is our home too.  Hope in the knowledge that we will all be reunited one day.  Hope that we will be reunited with Him.

And on this month anniversary day, we are reminded of April’s resurrection to her heavenly form.  It makes me think about the passages in 2 Corinthians 5:1-10 where Paul wrote about us receiving new heavenly bodies (5:3).  What awesome verses!!

We are so excited for her and can’t wait to see her again!  This means so much more to us now than it ever did before.   We know we have a special angel watching directly over us.

The words ‘He is Risen’ mean more to us this Easter than ever before.  And so do each of the Gospel verses; Matthew 28:6,  Mark 16:6, Luke 24:6, and John 20:15-17.  What a faithful and awesome God we serve and love.

And on this Easter, as we have known, we recognize and acknowledge that none of this would have ever been possible without the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior – Jesus.  I am so thankful.  We are so thankful.

April, we love you.  Jesus, we love you.