Dearest Emi and Ava,
Funny story….and I’m not quite sure how it started.
Early in our marriage, your mom and I were talking about her birthday and she was saying something about October 8th (which is her actual birth date), but jokingly, I was like, “Your birthday is on the 10th, not the 8th.”
All week before her birthday I kept telling her it was the 10th and that she was just messing with me. And she would say, “You keep messing around, but if you forget my birthday I’m not going to be happy!”
But then every year, I would do this to her. In fact, one year I changed it on the calendar. And she warned me, one of these times you’re going to mess up and forget my birthday. And every year, I would get it right.
Until one year. The 8th creeped up on me, but I thought I had time because I kept telling myself it was the 10th. It was fixed with a late night run to Walmart the night before (which always yields an awesome gift).
So, if you ever find yourself in the same predicament, don’t mess with your spouse’s birth date – even in jest!
Here are some other important birthday facts you should know about your mom:
NUMBER 1: Your mom never got wrapped up in “how old” she was (except I could tell it pained her a little when she turned 30….so old!).
NUMBER 2: Your mom never asked for much hoopla around her birthday. She was pretty low key when it came to her own event, but liked to put a lot more effort in to your birthdays.
NUMBER 3: Your mom never asked for a lot of gifts….she was always content to receive whatever she received….although every so often I would get a nudge on something she was really interested in. Now, I would try my darnedest to go above and beyond and surprise her. Some years I did and some years it fell flat. But her favorite gifts were the gifts of love that had meaning behind them. The hand written cards from you two. Or a shirt that she mentioned that she loved, but didn’t buy – but I snuck back and bought it. She loved things that showed her that we loved her.
NUMBER 4: Your mom liked to have fun. As I scrolled back through pictures I saw where we had simple parties and dinners, attended Razorback games, movies, soccer games, went shopping, and even bowling one year.
NUMBER 5: Your mom loved chocolate chip cookie cakes. I don’t know why, but she did. We got her one a couple times – most recently her 29th birthday.
NUMBER 6: Your mom loved chocolate cake – sans the cookie. This was by far her favorite dessert and the one we had most often year after year.
NUMBER 7: Your mom loved chocolate ice cream. Do you see a pattern here?
NUMBER 8: Your mom hated when I told the restaurant staff that it was her birthday. She didn’t like the singing and public attention.
NUMBER 10: Your mom loved you both dearly – and even though it was her day – she did everything she could to ensure that you two always had a good day on her birthday.
Girls – your mom was awesome. There is no two ways about it. And I know we miss her, but it’s these kind of awesome memories that help keep her alive in our hearts and minds.
I hope that as you get older, your spouse and kids are able to pick out your fun facts. But remember, never mess with your spouses actual birth date. It can lead to disastrous results!
I love you.
Dearest Emi and Ava,
Before we get too far past the Independence Day holiday and our Disney trip, I wanted to share another little tidbit with you about your mom.
What do these two things have in common you ask?
Fireworks! Big ones! And lots of them!
Your mom loved watching fireworks shows!
Interestingly, we were never really good at our own fireworks displays. I would buy them each year and they were fun for what they were, but when we were done we both felt it was a little anti-climactic.
Last year (2013), I remember us lighting them off in the lower yard. I had carefully picked out what I thought were some bigger more exciting ones. But upon setting them off, your mom gave them an initial “ooooooo” of excitement and intrigue followed by a “that’s it?” when the firework was short lived.
So, I guess I will have to continue to work on that one. In fact, we can do that together. 🙂
What really got her excited though were big orchestrated shows! Her favorites were the Disney fireworks over Cinderella’s castle and the Fireworks at the Crosses at Cross Church.
Your mom was always looking for “optimal viewing” of the fireworks and in 2013, when we went to Disneyworld your mom researched and found the perfect spot! Right behind Cinderella’s castle and the carousel you can position yourself to be in between the launching points of the fireworks, which means the show goes on all around you.
I remember the first time you all saw this – your heads just kept craning around as they were everywhere. The look on your faces when they came from a new direction was priceless! Your mom and I would just smile at each other because we knew you were so excited! Plus we were kind of excited too! 😉
Fireworks at the Crosses is a completely different and equally awesome experience!! The show is absolutely amazing because we see it very up close and personal and it seems to go on forever. There is no “that’s it?” question when it’s done – ever. You leave in shock and awe of what you just saw.
Your mom loved this show and I loved just holding her hand and watching it with her. I loved watching her reaction to the show! Her smiles at pretty fireworks or flinch from a loud boom followed by a giggle. We would exchange ooooos and aaahhhhhs over different combinations of fireworks. So much fun!!
It didn’t hurt that Fireworks at the Crosses was at our church so we were also surrounded by our awesome church family which made the atmosphere that much more fun!
I’m sure that for the rest of my life I will always think of your mom when I see an awesome fireworks display. Luckily, it seems that you two have the fireworks bug like your mom, which I am very thankful for!
I hope that when you have your families one day you will pass this fireworks bug on to them and tell your kids how much your mom loved them!
I love you both dearly!!
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.
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.
There 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
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.
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.
HE IS RISEN! Amen!
What do you do for the last dinner of 2013? Take the family somewhere they’ve never been before.
For us, it was taking my parents (Grandpa and Buela) and the girls to SHOGUN JAPANESE STEAKHOUSE! What’s better than a cook flipping spatulas and knives around while trying to pitch a shrimp in to your mouth? The girls had never been and you can tell by this picture that they were impressed!
Ava and Emi both mastered using a single chopstick to spear their steak!
My dad, the nut, asked the cook what his name was. The cook said, “Chris”. My Dad says, “Is that Japanese?” He responds, “No, Korean.” Love a chef with a sense of humor – as long as he doesn’t mess with our food. All in all – it was a great time and great food! Memorable meal for the last day of the year! Happy New Year!!!
What an awesome Christmas Season this year!
We were able to spend time with Mimi’s family on Christmas Eve at Uncle Bobby’s place and then continue on down to April’s parents in Mayflower, AR. Christmas Day included a Sanders side get together filled with games, giveaways, and tons of food! Love us some Gipson and Sander’s family! April’s brother, sister-in-law and niece (Destiny) also stayed at Mimi and Papa’s for the holiday.
On Sunday, we took time to read the story of Jesus’ birth out of the gospel of Luke. It’s so important to remember what this day is all about first and foremost.
Santa visited Mimi’s and Papa’s and brought all kinds of goodies. And those awesome explanations from surprised children make it all worth it! 🙂 Karaoke is now in the house!!
On the 26th we headed back to NW Arkansas to get ready for Jason’s parents that arrived on the 27th. More great times already with Grandpa and Buela here! Ava got the art set of a lifetime! (actually it was bigger than her end to end). AND Emi got one of the best gifts ever (2nd only to her popcorn machine) – a hot dog cooker (see pic below).
We love being around our family and spending time! Looking forward to many fun Christmas’ and holidays to come!
This has been a very unusual, but awesome 4th of July week.
For starters….the holiday was on a Wednesday, which made the week feel really funny. Like there was two Fridays….and unfortunately two Mondays. On Wednesday, April and I kept thinking it was Saturday. On Thursday, I kept thinking it was Monday. Just really bizarre.
The good news is….the whole week has been pretty fun (work aside).
It really started last weekend for us. We had a blast on the weekend, which was capped off by church events on Sunday. The whole church service was fantastic. Emily was in the kids production during both services where the group sang and danced (which is in the video below). I played bass on the Worship Team again, which is always fun. I got to pull out my 6-string bass, which I hadn’t played in public before. We did one of my favorite songs – Cover the Earth followed by several patriotic songs. One of which, called ‘This is America’ is a tribute to those that serve or have served in the 5 US Armed Forces. I thought about my friends and family in each of the services as I played and rehearsed. Made me appreciate them even more – I was glad we played that song. All in all, I think it all went well, but I will let you be the judge (see video).
Later that evening, we were able to enjoy “Fireworks at the Crosses”, which is a massive church sponsored event. We got there around 5pm for live music from a mix of the worship team members from the various Cross Church Campuses. They did an awesome job! Some incredibly talented people! We saw 90 people get baptized! Praise God! And then we watched what I must say is one of the most breathtaking fireworks displays I have ever seen. I think it easily rivaled a Disney production.
All of us had a great time with new friends and church family. Truly a great night!
On the Fourth, we slipped off to Beaver Lake in the morning for a great swim! Em and I had a blast! And Ava let out her inner fish and swam quite a bit – it was her first time in the lake. Had a great lunch at JJ’s Grill and then back home for a relatively quiet evening (after a little work at the Casita). With the temperatures being crazy hot, we have a burn and fireworks ban on where we live and weren’t able to shoot off fireworks. We barely caught the Bentonville show, but it didn’t quite work out in our favor and we missed most of it.
Now the weekend has started again, we have a full weekend of work ahead at the Casita. Time to tie up loose ends and get ready to move in. More on the Crazy House Adventure later. Your prayers for the sale of our Hendrix home are always appreciated. Ask God for the right buyer at the right time at the right price. We have left it in His hands. 🙂
We hope that you have a fantastic weekend!