Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Awesomeness of Todd

Today is Todd's birthday. Like most hard working individuals, he has to work, but we will get to go have lunch with him at his office, so that will be nice.  Every year I make a cake for Todd, almost always from scratch.  He usually challenges me with something I haven't done before, which has been fun.  I can guarantee most of them have tasted great, but not all of them have looked appetizing.  Cake decorating has been a skill I've had to learn. Just see any of our pre-children cakes. :) Today I am making a triple chocolate cake, per request.  Although it is a new recipe to me, and an intense one, I'm excited to give him something special.
And since it is 5am and I am in full insomniac pregnancy mode, I thought I would write a little blog post letting you know some of the awesomeness of this guy whom has blessed my life more than any other and continues to do so on a daily basis. So the rest of the blog will be filled with all sorts of bragging, but its the truth- and if you can't handle the truth, then just skip the rest and make sure to wish him a Happy birthday. Or just look at the pictures.  They're pretty fun.
Todd and I met in college after he had served a 2 year church mission on Argentina. During his time away, his sweet teenage brother passed away in a car accident, Naturally, it was a devastating event for his family. The morning that Todd found out, he had read a scripture passage that talked about the death of a loved one. I can't site the verses but in them he felt challenged to commit himself that no matter what happened in his life, he was committed to the Lord and his mission. He decided that despite unforeseen challenges, he was resolved to be a better missionary that morning.  Little did he know what was coming. I tell you this because I've always told Todd that this is the reason I married him. His family needed/wanted/pleaded for him to come home (and with good reason) but he chose to stay and teach the people of Argentina about Christ, redemption, and that families could be together forever.  Despite his own grief, he chose the Lord and overnight, he became a more powerful witness of that truth with his own experience. Courageous.
Once his time was up, Todd returned home to grieve alongside his family. He was a source of strength and comfort to them, so instead of returning to school right away, he spent time with them. Several months after he had returned, he visited A&M with several high school seniors from his home town during our annual Senior Week.  My roommate, Dana, who had also just returned from a mission was so excited to introduce her roommates to one of her favorite people. As you can imagine, after being away for over 2 years- Todd saw a lot of old friends and met a bunch of new people.  If you were to ask him about the first time he met me, he would say that he doesn't remember it, which is fine. He was the blue light special and he doesn't remember names easily, so I've forgiven him.  Honestly, my impression was that he was a cute guy and seemed very nice, but that was about the extent of it.
The next day our institute went to an Aggie game.  It was raining, and as you know Aggies stand the whole game. Somehow I was placed by Todd.  I got to know him a little bit and learned that he would be returning to A&M in the Spring, so I would be seeing him more. On the other side of Todd was his new girl friend. Boy did she think he was something else.  I commented to her later what a nice guy he was, and that he had really dreamy eyes.  She whole-heartedly agreed and said- oh and he sings too, you should hear his voice! Obviously a some point they break up, but I can't recall the details because it wasn't really important to me at the time.
Once Todd returned and was single- he spent a lot of time at my house. He hung out with Dana, and had developed a crush on another one of Dana's roommates- Amanda. :) But after a few dates, Amanda let him know that she was no interested.  No matter. Todd continued to hang out at the house, because we were all friends by this point. Todd and I distinctly remember being at a party once, celebrating Dana's engagement, where we sat next to each other and he put his arm around me.  His thoughts- it's just Lindsey.  Mine- it's just Todd. No sparks, just buds. Todd became one of my closest friends that year.  I remember that if I needed a date for something and couldn't find someone- or didn't feel up to asking, then I could call on him, and we would go as friends, no questions asked. Funny how things change.
In the Fall of 1999, something changed.  I can't really explain it, and neither can Todd.  Divine intervention, maybe?  I'm not sure. Amanda and I were over at Todd's apartment hanging out and we spoke openly about our dating woes. We just weren't getting asked out on many dates lately and we couldn't figure out why- this whole scenario makes me LAUGH OUT LOUD, but it goes to show you how close we were with Todd and his roommate, Stephen. In that conversation Amanda and I made some sort of comment about how there just weren't any good datable guys out there. Todd and Stephen took this as a challenge- they were going to find us some good guys! And somewhere in that moment Todd though- wait, I'm a good guy!
At the Halloween dance, which is so fitting if you know us now, I began to develop feelings for Todd. It was SO WEIRD and I just didn't know what to do about it.  He was my buddy. My friend! WHY?!? WHY was I having feelings for him?! It would mess our whole groove up! As it turns out, around that same time Todd was struggling with the same thoughts and feelings.  Naturally, we turned to our roommates. This makes me laugh.  Our roommates spoke to the other person, confirming the feelings. Then within a small time frame- days, weeks, I can't remember. He confessed to me that he liked me and was interested in dating me. Naturally, I already knew- and instead of being accepting and exciting- I said something along the lines of- its about time! He should have known better then. :)
We dated for a year. It was so very awkward at first, but eventually, our feelings grew and we were inseparable...which wasn't that big of a change because we already spent a lot of time together. In the spring of 2000, Todd excepted a co-op or internship in Waco. He came back during the summer, but left again in the Fall. A lot of our courtship was spent on the phone and on the weekends. At MARS, where he worked, he made friends and valuable work experience. He loved being there and felt at home in his profession.  His co-workers praised his work ethic and were happy to have him on their team.
That Fall was a big one.  During those months Todd and I would break-up (for 6 days), get back together, visit his family in Florida together and on December 1st, we become engaged. Married in May.  Our first year of marriage, which many say is the hardest, was not hard. The things that couples often struggle with- personal habits, annoying unknown traits, etc- were not there since we had spent a year as buddies.  We knew our quirks. We were also very busy.  Todd finishing up his degree while I supported us with mine.
In December of 2002, Todd graduated, then we moved in with my parents for a few months, and then we moved to Nacogdoches for his first job with Tyson Foods. We loved living there.  We loved our first home, we loved the people, we loved serving together at church.  It was a wonderful beginning. I LOVED my job, but Todd only tolerated his- and eventually his discomfort would move us again.
In Nacogdoches we added our first little girl, Ava. When my water broke at midnight, while I was tidying up my office...because it had to be done right then...I went upstairs and woke up Todd. Two intelligent people totally dumbfounded.  What do we do now?! So Todd called our doctor, who sweetly said- "Go to the hospital.  I'll see you in the morning."
12 hours later, she had arrived.  Todd was so very sweet during delivery.  It was not an easy delivery and he struggled to watch me in pain.  At one point I told him that I was done.  That I was too tired and I didn't want to do it anymore. I remember he looked at me in panic, not realizing that I was fully aware that I had no choice in the matter.  Once Ava arrived, Todd's concern continued to be all about me. 12 hours he stood there, holding my hand, talking me through it all, and now what? I gave him permission to go talk to her, look at her.  Reluctantly, he walked away and I got a glimpse of the father he would become. So tender.
Todd's unrest at work would send him searching for something better and he reached out to friends at MARS, who took immediate interest, and before we knew it- we were on our way to Waco once again. I would arrive already pregnant with Sydnee. We lived with amazing friends for 4 months.  Ava would take her first steps in their home, we would all come down with the stomach flu, and we made lasting friendships with the Prices for their generosity.
The house in Nac sold, and we moved into a duplex just before welcoming Sydnee. This time Todd knew what to do, "Hello sweet baby girl.  I am your Daddy. We are so excited to meet you." Since the girls were so close together, we became experts in carrying two children at the same time. When Todd would get home from work he check on me to make sure I didn't need any help, then could be found playing with his girls, doing whatever he could to make them laugh or smile.  They loved me, but they worshipped their Daddy, still do.
We loved living in Waco. We made life-long friends, and countless memories. Todd continued to work hard to provide, but was home in a blink of an eye if I needed him, a benefit of working close to home.  One day I was working on something and Ava & Sydnee were off playing by themselves.  I was in their room, but they had left me focused on my task.  Eventually I would discover a large amount of freshly cut hair in their bathroom, alongside 1 budding stylist and one massively chopped head of hair.  I called Todd that day.  I had never been so mad in my life.  It's really funny to me now, but at the time, I couldn't believe Ava would do that! Todd came home and took them to Super Cuts. Sydnee was forced into a pixie cut and Ava, who had trimmed her own hair, would have some strangely short locks mixed into her shorter hairdo.  Those girls! Wish I could find that picture, its classic.
Once we felt like we could handle it, we welcomed another little girl to the family. Lucy was such a happy baby and so easy- which was a big blessing with 2 active little girls. When Lucy was a month old she came down with a really high fever in the middle of the night. Todd and I rushed her to the hospital and they began a slew of tests to figure out what was wrong with her.  One of the hardest nights of our lives.  I could not stop crying. Todd and I held onto each other hoping and praying that everything would be OK. She was admitted to the hospital and would eventually be diagnosed with kidney reflux. While I was at the hospital, we had family staying with the older girls, Todd would check in on us as much as possible. He even bought me a small personal laptop so I would have something to do other than sit and worry. She was released with antibiotics that she would take every day until she was a little over a year. Every evening Todd would mix the medicine into some formula, the only way she would take it.

Lucy would turn 1 in Waco and Ava finished kindergarten. Todd was called to be bishop of our congregation.  For those not of our faith, and still awake, he was the lead minister to the 600-ish members in our area. The day it was announced they asked me to say something too.  I told the congregation that I didn't know a better man. That I could guarantee that he would work hard to serve them, and that his leadership style is gentle, kind, and more prone to listen than to talk.  I included that he was the loveliest man I knew...and then realized that perhaps lovely wasn't the best way to describe a man. :) Our stake president got up after Todd had spoken and said something along the lines of- if all wives were able to describe their husbands as lovely, this world would be a better place.
At MARS there began to be some unrest, which in short lead to Todd losing his job.  It was one of the more difficult times in our lives, so much uncertainty. Todd, true to form, would get on the computer at 8am and stay there, with a break here and there, till 4-5pm.  He decided that his "job" was finding a job, so he was going to treat it like a job and put in his hours. With the help of family, some miracles here and there, and loads of answered prayers, we made it through that time without going into massive debt. I remember Todd's car AC broke, which was terrible timing- being summer and no funds available. So Todd would leave for interviews extra early and change in the car out of sweaty clothes into interview clothes. With the help of his brother, Todd landed a job in Houston.  A 3-hour move that we did not see coming.  It was an extremely difficult move, but it was our best and only option. So we packed up our 3 little girls and headed south, to a place we swore we'd *never* live.
Initially I could not figure out why we were here. It didn't make sense. We found a rental home in the neighborhood I wanted, and Sydnee started kindergarten/Ava 1st in a matter of a week. The company, as part of their package, did all of our packing and moving for us, which was a huge blessing. Ava and Sydnee got into their new routine/life and Lucy and I tried to set up house while they were gone during the day. Within a short period of time it became clear why we were in Houston.  Todd was happy at work, really happy- for the first time ever. He felt valued and important. Something that had been taken from him when he lost his job.  Cameron Intl. gave him his confidence back and also gave him insight on what his work life should feel like- a balance of hard work, that you enjoy, and satisfaction from knowing you are where you are needed.
During our time in Houston, we have grown closer as a family and a couple. We've added Camille and will add another little lady in May. People, friends and strangers, make comments about how sorry they feel for Todd being surrounded by only females.  They obviously don't know Todd- or our daughters. There is no void to fill.  No empty ache. Every day Todd wakes up the girls and brings them downstairs- sometimes carrying them, or holding them upright if they are especially sleepy. We say our morning prayers together before he leaves and then he spends a moment with each one- telling them he loves them, to have a good day, and to make good choices.  He always finishes with me, telling me he'll be home as soon as possible- which, he says daily, is never soon enough.
He comes home to open arms and squeals of excitement, "Daddy home!" Then, after his long day at work, he rolls up his sleeves and helps anywhere he can.  If the day has gone well, dinner is on the table, if not- he comes in and helps in the kitchen or wherever the girls might need him. Once dinner is over, he helps clean up the kitchen and starts bath time.  It's his special time.  He's always done bath time. He brings the littles upstairs, splashes with them, washes their little faces, then wraps them up, dries them off, and puts pajamas on them.  We finish the evening with scriptures, & story time. Then the older girls have taken their shower, homework is checked, piano is practiced, and books are read together. Once they older girls are tucked in, Todd's focus is making sure that he spends time with me- or serving me in some way.  He finishes the kitchen, helps with the laundry, cleans a bathroom, or finds a way to tomorrow easier for me. Every night he puts lotion on my feet and rubs them as we watch tv or read together or talk about our day.  Every night. He is my best friend.
Today is Todd's birthday. I can't help but be thankful that 15+ years ago, a spark grew into something more. Our lives are not perfect.  There are plenty of little girls fighting, arguing with parents, and sassy talking. That's a part of our normal routine too.  We are busy, like any family, and have our fair share of bad days. People often ask me how I can do so much with 4 little girls, and here's the big secret- its Todd. That's probably not a big secret to those who know us best. Whenever I have a meeting for Relief Society, or an emergency, or an activity- he steps up.  Whenever I take on a PTO assignment or bake cinnamon rolls by the hundreds, or decide I need some time away- he steps in. Whenever I come up with an idea- like summer craft camps, redecorating/reorganizing a room, painting furniture, planning a last-minute vacation, birthday party extravaganzas, or making 700 rice crispie treats for the school- he tells me what a great idea it is and then asks how he can help.
I recognize that he is not your average husband, and I am thankful every single day for the lovely person that he is, the amazing father he has become, and the Godly man continues to be.  He is all in.  He changes the stinky diapers, he unclogs the toilets, he paints little girl finger nails, and he lets those girls know how much he loves them and ME every day- with his example and his actions.

Happy birthday Todd Blackhurst.  You are my favorite. I'm so grateful to celebrate you today.  You make my life happy and my heart full.  What a blessing you are to many, especially our family. I hope we can spoil you today in the way that you spoil us every day.

Love you.
Bunches.
-Your Wifey

2 comments:

Kristin Baker said...

I loved reading this. I love to hear people's stories, and yours is extra happy and special. Happy Birthday to Todd!

Todd said...

He sounds like a very lovely guy!