Friday, August 29, 2014

What’s Brewing

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am full of ideas.  I have to admit, this really came about as a direct result of Jason’s way of thinking.  I didn’t see myself as creative or innovative or even really as a dreamer before I met Jason.  Obviously I now recognize that the roots were there, but I, like many of us, had fallen into the box-thinking of the world around me.

Through Jason’s influence, I began to let my mind wander- thinking of businesses, thinking of creative projects, thinking of less-restrictive ways of living.  Although he got me started on this path of thinking, it seems my mind has only wandered farther since Jason’s passing.  I am antsy.  I can’t finish any project or completely develop any idea before another one is jumping out at me.  I’ve become restless.  The proposition of being able to go anywhere I want, do anything I want has come to fruition and taunts me daily as I strive to figure out my path, my purpose, my reason for life, and, ultimately, to figure out my desires.

Many of you know that I have reduced my hours to part-time at work, and when I say part-time, I mean severely part-time.  Amazingly, this has reduced my stress and increased my opportunities.  Opportunities to serve, to create, to explore, to live.  In the end though, everyone needs a means of income.

Jason and I toyed with many business ideas before his passing- unfortunately a number of them I don’t understand at all, so they are kind of off my list of possibilities right now!  However, since his passing, I have developed many of my own ideas and begun to transform a few of our original designs.

I am specifically driven toward real estate.  Originally Jason and I wanted to own rental properties, most likely condos or apartments to start with.  We planned to own rentals in our area (Raleigh, NC) and we had a fun niche to use as a draw to our rentals.  As exciting as that was, after Jason passed I started to realize it just wasn’t the direction I wanted to take.  Even though I am still interested in Real Estate, residential rentals just didn’t seem like something I could be truly passionate about.

One of the things I have learned from becoming a widow at 25 is that life is simply too short to do anything I don’t love.  I love teaching, and I realized that with the way public education in NC is going, I can’t love teaching full-time- hence the resulting part-time teaching status.  So what do I love besides teaching?  Serving- I definitely love serving others, so I currently serve in my church’s Temple 3 Saturday’s a month, and I teach early morning Seminary for my church as well.  I also get to use my freer-than-usual schedule to help serve friends and family when they need me, and don’t worry, I’ve still been doing my Jason’s Acts of Kindness, I’m just terrible at blogging them. Okay, so we have teaching and service- what else?  Well, of course I have to add camping, hiking, and just general adventuring to the list.  Jason and I used to try to spend every possible summer weekend engrossed in some sort of adventure, whether camping, repelling, rock climbing (thanks for that Sarah and Eric), rafting, biking, canoeing, cliff jumping, oh the list goes on.  I have to admit, though what I love most about myself is my adventurous spirit, I haven’t done nearly enough adventuring since Jason passed away.  More than just adventuring for myself, I want to inspire a love of adventuring in others, and I want to make adventuring a bit less-intimidating so more people will try it out! 

So what does all this mean?  It means I’ve been working on idea.  An idea that I want to [partially] unveil to the “public.” I heard about a study recently that states people shouldn’t verbalize their goals to others because when they do, they get a false sense of accomplishment due to people’s excitement for the goal, so rather than telling you what I want to do, I’m just going to tell you there is an idea in motion.  Something I’m excited about but that still requires a lot of background work.  My secretiveness isn’t because I don’t want to share, but because I want to succeed! 

Wish me luck!!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Jason’s Acts of Kindness: February


I don’t know about y’all, I refuse to contract “you all” as “ya’ll” ~shudder, but lately Facebook seems to be flooded with requests for helping others.  Facebook is used for so many things {ie, airing dirty laundry, complaining, baby announcements, wedding announcements, the list goes on…} yet I think Facebook and the good ‘ole world wide web may have a bit more to offer.  For example, I think shares like this are one of the best ways we can use Facebook. …and pictures of that cute new pup you just rescued! 

There are so many websites that are popping up to help in the cause of giving to others.   Give Forward, Screenshot_2014-02-26-15-22-45and You Caring are a couple that I have seen.  Donating to cover trips for children, medical bills, and lost homes are just a few fundraisers I have seen.  These sites allow you to give anonymously or under the name you choose, they allow you to show or hide the amount you give, and they allow you to leave a message with your donation.  What an incredible way to reach out to those in need if you can, even if you don’t know them, and lend a monetary hand.  The day that I officially decided I wanted to move forwards with “Jason’s Acts of Kindness,” one of my amazing SIL’s posted a link {on Facebook} about giving to a family she knew.  The family’s house had just burned down {that day} and a family friend created this GiveForward page to help them.  It seemed the stars were aligned, so I made a donation in Jason’s name to a family who certainly seems deserving. 

Seeing people sacrifice for the good of others never gets old!

Know of another site that collects monetary donations for those in need?  Know the name of a deserving family who needs a little extra help on their GiveForward or YouCaring page?  Share it in the comments below!

I recently stumbled upon a blog of an awesome lady, Kerry.  Kerry is working hard to spread random acts of kindness with her “Be the Change 2014” campaign.  Click the button below to see what she’s been doing and share what Random Acts of Kindness you’ve done lately!


Till Then Smile Often
Linking up for the first time today-yay- with Kerry {above} and Shanna!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Jason’s Acts of Kindness: January



North Carolina’s winter has been especially snowy so far in 2014.  People often think of emergency workers during snowstorms because they are out, often risking their safety, while the rest of us get to cuddle up by the fireplace with the ones we love.  During the storms, this cute cartoon circulated Facebook, reminding us that linemen are out working to restore power to those who lost it.  And that’s not all- there are so many other businesses that require their employees to be out during storms because they provide a service that is vital.  One such business is generator service.  Most people think of generators being a luxury, but for pharmacies, hospitals, assisted living homes, generators are a necessity during bad weather.  Hurricanes, tornados, blizzards, and other storms can all knock out power leaving these facilities helpless {not because the lights are out, but because equipment like respirators won’t work without electricity.}

With those hardworking generator technicians in mind, a care package was assembled and sent to National Power Corp, the company where Jason was employed as a generator tech before he passed away.  Hopefully a few hands {or heads, or feet} will be a little warmer in Jason’s name this winter {after our 70 degree days diminish again!}


Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Love of One

 …you can consider this my “In  Thanks-giving” Day 6 post- ha!

I have recently set a goal for myself.  What am I talking about; it’s February, everyone recently set goals.  I did make some resolutions, but this goal isn’t actually one of them.  Maybe that’s why I have so much conviction for it?  Resolutions and I have a love-hate relationship…Well this goal is special- I’m making this goal in my husband’s honor.  For any who may not know, my husband, Jason Edwards, passed away last year. {wow, yeah- it hasn’t been a year yet, but it was last year: May 26, 2013}

Jason was {and is} a lot of things.  He’s a husband, a brother, a son, an uncle, a best friend, a believer, a hard worker, an entrepreneur, a creator, just to name a few!  Above all though, my husband is a servant.  A Raleigh Stake Day of Service servant to God and a servant to all those he comes in contact with.  I’ve never met someone who is so willing to give of his time and talents.  Jason served in callings at church; he has been a DJ, an assistant scout master, a young men’s leader, a member of the Elder’s Quorum presidency, an Elder’s Quorum teacher, and even a missionary in Idaho for 2 years {yes- he served in the Pocatello Mission- poor guy ;) } Jason has helped organize service projects, through our church {like for the day of service}, and also on his own, for people we know and care about.  Often those projects included helping people move—no offense world, but it seems everyone wants to move on a day that qualifies as one of the following: the hottest day ever, the coldest day ever, the rainiest day ever, or some erratic combination of the three!  What I love most about Jason’s service to others though, is that, most often, it was spontaneous and a huge inconvenience. 

Yes, I said it, his service was often an inconvenience, but isn’t that what makes it so unbelievably beautiful?  That despite the sacrifice, he was always willing and never {at least within my earshot} a last-minute move for some friendscomplained about that sacrifice.  There were many times that Jason got home from work later than planned because there was someone on the side of the road, with a flat tire, a smoking engine, shoot- there was even one time we were running late to meet family and saw a young lady whip her flaming-yes flaming-car off the road.  As I was suggesting {okay, maybe shouting} that we should pull over, Jason was already on the shoulder calling the fire department.  The sacrifice never seemed to matter as long as he was serving.

When Jason passed away, we had a Celebration of Life for him.  He always said he wanted a party when he passed away, so we gave him one.  Never in my life have I seen so many individuals gathered in honor of one person, especially a deceased person.  I was blown away.  What I found out that night, was that all this time, through Jason’s many acts of service, he was doing more than just moving boxes, and changing tires: Jason was loving.  I wish I had been the one to realize it, but it was friends of ours who pointed it out that night.  Jason had a way of making every person he met feel like he/she was THE most important person to him.  What a phenomenal talent.  I have to admit, early on our relationship, this was hard for me.  I couldn’t separate his love for everyone else from his love for me.  It got easier, the longer we were together; I began to recognize the differences in the type of love and the ways he showed it, but it wasn’t until the night of his Celebration of Life that I finally understood why it had been so hard in the beginning.  Jason literally loves everyone.  He didn’t even want me to talk about people to explain how infuriated I was with them; he always wanted me to let it go {not a Frozen reference…}.  LOVE: such an incredible way to serve others, and sometimes a harder way than just helping when it’s needed. 

Over the past few months I’ve explained over and over what an incredible example Jason has been to me during our time together in this life, and this is just another way he has taught me.  But I am determined, determined to put my knowledge to use, so that all those days and nights my husband sacrificed can continue to bless my life and the lives of others.  So here is my goal:

I’m going to serve.  Each month in 2014, I will complete one act of kindness, maybe random, maybe not, but every act will be done in Jason’s name.  I plan to record my “Jason’s Acts of Kindness” {JAKs} here {but maybe not in complete detail- because secret acts of kindness are always more fun} so that you can follow along.  My hope is that through Jason’s example, we can all learn to love more purely, more completely, and more abundantly because we never know who needs to feel loved.

As I post each month, feel free to get in on the action and start loving others through service!  I miss getting those service reports each afternoon, so I’d love to hear some creative ways you are serving!!

With Love,


Thursday, November 28, 2013

In Thanks-Giving: Day 5

Day 5: Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Time and All Eternity

6 months.  Tuesday made 6 months to the day since my Jason jumped into our beloved falls, never to return.  It was a normal camping trip, the first one of the season, Memorial Day weekend.  One year before, we were at the exact same falls, launching our camping season with some friends.  This year Jason and I opted to make the trip alone.  We had just decided to grow our little family.

Growing up as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I was always taught to strive for a temple marriage, a marriage in which husband and wife are not married for just time, but also for all eternity.  How magical it all sounds to a little girl growing up with dreams of forever with her night in shining armor.  Although it has always sounded magical and always been my goal, it is what we hear over and over growing up, and so as an adult, I knew it was important, but could never truly wrap my mind around what it all meant. 

It makes sense now.

When your husband is alive beside you, next to you as you wake up in the morning, cooking and cleaning with you in the evening, and snuggled back beside you at night, it is hard to grasp the necessity of eternity.  I have him now, and even though later is important, it can't be as important as the here and now.  I've had 6 months to ponder what being married is all about.  6 months reflecting on why Jason and I got married and what the purpose of marriage really is.  6 months to fume over the time I let slip by.  6 months to let the concept of eternity sink in.

I'm going to tell you a little about what I've discovered.  Some of it deals directly with God, some of it in a more round about way, but the first thing I need you to understand is that, for me, marriage is directly linked to God.  Genesis 1:27 states, "So God created man in his own aimage, in the image of God created he him; male and bfemale created he them." Just as God created us in His image, He gave us a like-minded purpose to come to earth, receive mortal bodies, and learn and grow.  Just as God is literally the Father of our spirits, he allows us to be mothers and fathers of his spirit children.  We are here to learn how to be like God.  Remember the crazy fad of "WWJD?" bracelets reminding us to be more Christ-life as we consider "What Would Jesus Do?" in the situations arising in our lives?  That is part of the reason we are here.

When two people unite in marriage, they are making a commitment to one another.  There are lots of pretty, fun, flowery things a preacher, pastor, or even justice of the peace might say when two people are united, and that is great, and there is a deeper purpose.  We must learn how to work together, how to literally become one in our principles, desires, and ideals.  No, that doesn't mean you can't have different interests than your spouse, but how much more of a successful marriage will you have if you take the time to understand a little more about your spouse's interests and encourage him/ her in the development of a new talent.  Marriage is meant to help us learn how to be "one."

Jason and I got married so we could be together, not just literally next to each other, but so that we could begin to become one, to work together, to share together.  I know "girls/ boys weekends" are fun, and I am not judging any of you or the quality of your marriage with this statement; Jason and I didn't want to have those weekends.  We still did them, but in the end, we wanted to be together.  We got married so we would have "that person," the one you tell your deepest, darkest secrets, the one that helps you hatch crazy-wild plans, the one who brings out the best in you, the one who makes you who you are.  Not just a best friend, a SPOUSE.  I'm not sure at what point these became separate things, but don't we often here, my spouse is my best friend." Well, duh!  If your spouse isn't your best friend, you're missing out. 

So how is a sealing different from a marriage?  When two people get married, they are making a commitment to one another; when two people get sealed, they add God to the mix.  A sealing is a covenant with you, your spouse, and God. God is literally the "missing link."  With God as part of our marriage, it means we don't stop learning and growing together as one even though Jason has passed from this life because God can link us beyond the grave.  It means that every step I make in the right direction is a victory for both of us, not just for me.  Don't worry, we aren't automatically just stuck together because we are sealed, it is still our choice, and that is what is so amazing: I know that Jason is striving to learn and grow in ways that will strengthen us, both as spouses, and as future parents. {Yes, I believe that one day, after the Savior's return, when we are reunited with our loved ones, that Jason and I will still have the opportunity to raise our children.}

It didn't make sense before, but now I understand that Jason and are one; if you have ever seen a weld, think about that image, the two pieces of metal, joined as one.  That is what Jason and I have, we have sealing; we have a weld.  I am grateful for my weld!

April 16, 2011
Our Welding..I mean, Wedding Day

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

In Thanks-giving: Day 4

...still catching up; Colorado is incredible!

Lifting the Burden

"There is a wise old saying, 'Eat it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.' Thrift is a practice of not wasting anything. Some people are able to get by because of the absence of expense. They have their shoes resoled, they patch, they mend, they sew, and they save money. They avoid installment buying, and make purchases only after saving enough to pay cash, thus avoiding interest charges.
-President James E. Faust Link to full article

I have been raised in a religion that encourages and teaches financial independence, freedom from the bondage of debt as reiterated here by President Ezra Taft Benson, "No man is truly free who is in financial bondage. ‘Think what you do when you run in debt,' said Benjamin Franklin, 'you give another power over your liberty.'" Yet, when I began dating Jason, I was digging a hole down the opposite path.  Of course, like every other twenty-something, I had school debt, but I was still in school and any payments on those were deferred until after graduation- those weren't {the real} problem...I had credit card debt and poor spending habits.

My parents didn't encourage credit cards, and when I decided I would get one, strongly counseled me to use it carefully.  I entered my credit card agreement with the right outlook: it was only to help build my credit, and I would pay it off every month.  That is how it all started.  Soon I was whisking myself off to Ireland and shopping away relationship woes...needless to say, when I met Jason, my financial record was one to be ashamed of.  For those of you who know Jason, he has spent the latter years of his life living quite frugally.  When he took me on dates they were often free, if not, he talked people down to a price he thought was reasonable.  {This is only the tip of the iceberg by the way, I have seen him {successfully} finagle prices at Wal-Mart...we'll save those stories for another time!}

Aside from my spending disasters, Jason and I started dating right before my last semester of college, when I would enter my teaching internship.  This {unpaid} internship would take the majority of my time, so I would have to quit two of my jobs, and drop to just one.  I knew how important money-smarts were to Jason, so I worked hard to manage my finances without having to reveal how poorly I was doing, but with the shift from 3 jobs to 1, things weren't going well.  Jason and I normally alternated weekends in Greenville and Raleigh, and soon the revelation came of just how poorly I was doing.  For about a month Jason had been supplementing my gas money, so I could make it up to Raleigh, but on this particular Saturday while we were rushing to meet some friends, Jason walked into the room to find me hanging up the phone in tears.  My credit card bill was well overdue, and I didn't have the money to pay it.  That day Jason sat me down and we started working out a plan.

With Jason's help, I shut off my credit card and started a payment plan that would slowly allow me to pay off my debt.  It was set to take a few years, but with Jason's encouragement, I paid off my credit card shortly after we were married!  This experience truly opened our eyes, and we made a joint commitment to be debt-free.  Together we paid off our school loans and vehicle debt and set an 18-month plan in motion to pay off our house! 

Our financial plan was pieced together from principles we learned at church and from financial gurus like Dave Ramsey.  We calculated what it would take to live with no income for 6 months, and used that calculation to establish our 6-month savings blanket.  Next we set our budget, and all excess began going half to the house and half to another savings account.  The final step, aside from paying off the house, was calculating what we {me and three children} would need to get back on our feet if something was to happen to Jason.  We calculated that amount, and set up Jason's life December 2012.

Fast forward to 5 months later.  Jason's life insurance is in effect {and only needed for me and one cute puppy dog}; I'm out of work for the summer {because I'm a teacher}; I can't access our extra savings or our main account {which were both in Jason's name}; I can access our 6-months savings account.

What a road Jason and I have been on financially.  Six months after his passing, the only debt I have is our beautiful home that now has a low enough payment, that my single income can easily handle; I had the money to comfortably get by until I had access to our other accounts, and I started back working; I am still on track to pay off the house if I decide to do so.

What an incredible blessing that Heavenly Father's gospel set a base for us both, and that He then used us both to establish a financial foundation for each other.  Without each segment of this path, I would not have been prepared to live the way I am now.  I would be drowning my woes in new clothes.  I would likely have needed to sell our house and vehicles.  I would not be in Colorado spending Thanksgiving with incredible family.  Heavenly Father allowed Jason to come into my life at the moment I needed him most, and much of that was for the sake of my financial education. 

I love my Heavenly Father; I love the Lord; and I am grateful they gave me my Jason to love too!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

In Thanks-Giving: Day 3

I should have known I'd get a bit behind in posting once I hit the lofty mountains of Colorado...
Now to catch up!

Day 3, Sunday, November 24, 2013

Take Me Back

I heard this song for the first time the other day and instantly fell in love. 

I kept wanting to sing " I will hold on," but those aren't the words...they are "I hold on."  This change may seem like nothing to you, but once I realized the possible difference, I was blown away.  He isn't make a statement about his actions, he is making a statement about his being, his core values, who he is:  he is a guy that "hold[s] on." 

When the song opens, Dierks Bentley is singing about a busted up truck everyone thinks he should sell, but then informs the listener of what no one knows, " dad and me/ We drove her out to Tennessee/ She's still here, now, he's gone/  So I hold on."  I was immediately connected to his emotions tying him to that truck. 

Though Jason and I celebrated a "mere" two year-anniversary shortly before his passing, we packed a lot of love and a lot of memories into that "short" time we had together.  I have repeatedly been told since Jason's passing, that we lived and loved more in those 2 years then most people do in a lifetime.  Please don't be offended; please don't think I am making our marriage out to be something it is not: those people...are RIGHT!

Jason and I packed a lot of life, love, and memories into our time together.  There was rarely a moment we weren't adventuring in one way or another: waterfall hikes and campouts, new jobs, home projects, business ideas...the list goes on. 

A few months ago I told those closest to me of a very personal struggle that was overtaking me: an identity crisis.  I love the person I have become since Jason Edwards entered my life, and I have been deathly afraid that I will lose me, thus losing him, again...and then Dierks' song comes into earshot..."I hold on."

I have been blessed with a million surroundings that give me what that truck gives the boy in the song.  It is hard to articulate to someone who hasn't lost a close loved one, a loved one who literally helped define you as an individual, but everyday I get to "hold on." Sometimes I hold on to trivial items around our home, and sometimes I hold on to the feeling of his arms around me; either way, "I hold on..." tight!

Today {or Sunday, rather ;)} I am thankful for the memories, and a man who worked so hard to capture the memories via camera, and I am thankful for a memory that continually recollects more and more about my precious Jason, and I am thankful for a God who gave us TWO WHOLE YEARS!  I don't make a statement of the actions a plan to take in the future by stating, I will hold on,  I make a statement of who I am when I say, " I hold on."