Tuesday, February 9, 2016

With This Ring, I Thee Wed

The Saga of the Missing Wedding Ring 
January 2016

The past few weeks I have been training really hard for my half marathon and drinking/ retaining a LOT of water. This made my hands swollen and my wedding ring did not fit as well as I would have liked for it to. I didn't want to take it to get up sized because I really felt like "this too shall pass" and it will be fine after I am done with this intense training. I decided to not wear my actual 15 diamond wedding ring for a while and just wear my fake "Cruise Ship" ring as I call it. This is a ring I bought at Sam Moon a few years ago to take on cruises so I do not take my actual wedding ring. So for the past 3 weeks or so I have worn the "Cruise Ship" ring and had my wedding ring at the top of my jewelry box. Everyday I would see the wedding ring as I put on the "Cruise Ship" ring and some days I would try on again just to be sure it fit. 

On Thursday, January 28th I woke up and got ready as I usually do and then went to put on my jewelry and noticed Chris's wedding ring out of it's usual place in the jewelry box. This led me to look for my wedding ring as I routine put on the "Cruise Ship" one. I looked and looked and I could not find anywhere. I look for about 10 minutes before calling Chris and asking if he took it or misplaced it. I am VERY straight-forward about my daily getting ready and coming home routine and I am also VERY subconscious of my 15 diamond ring so I knew I had not "lost" or "misplaced" it. Chris said he knew nothing about it... then he reminded me that our maid, of 10 months, came and cleaned the house on Tuesday. 

The rest of the story unfolded fast and furious and like a soap opera of some sorts: 

Thursday, January 28- 6:00AM 
I called Anna, our maid, in a panic of "where is my ring" and "you took it so I am going to call the police". Looking back I should not have accused her so quickly but I KNEW I did not lose it and it was in fact stolen. Unfortunately, Anna does not speak English very well if at all so it was hard to have a conversation with her. I had my secretary at school, who speaks Spanish, call her and talk to her and we discovered that she had a new helper with her on that day and that helper was in our bedroom cleaning while Anna was cleaning our master bathroom. 

I rushed home on Thursday during my planning time to search through the jewelry box again and try to catch the trash before the trash truck came. Our trash hardly EVER gets picked up before 5PM but of course, it was gone by the time I arrived back at home at 10:15AM. I was devastated thinking it was thrown away by accident and laying in some landfill. I then searched my jewelry box again and it wasn't still. I began to quickly do an inventory of my jewelry and items kept in the box. I was now missing a sapphire/ diamond necklace and our PASSPORTS, which we keep in the large 4 foot jewelry box. I knew I HAD to be back to school for my next class so I drove back all the while my brain was torn between "The passports are in the luggage since we just got off a cruise ship and getting back on in a few weeks. The necklace is there too" and "OK... now she/ they stole THREE things". I will be honest, the rest of my day teaching was all but lost. I was so scatter-brained and focused on the missing items. "Will we be able to go on our upcoming Spring Break cruise?", "I need to call Life-Lock and warn them" and "This is way worse than a missing wedding ring... this is our identity" went through my mind. I left early to go home and search some more. I immediately went to looking for the Passports and like I thought, they were in the luggage left form our Thanksgiving Cruise. I took them out and put them in a more secure location. I later found the necklace as well but was still missing the Wedding Ring. 

By the end of Thursday, I had talked to Anna multiple times via phone call and text and she led me to believe that she may have vacuumed it up and thrown it away when she emptied the trash (which was already collected by the city at this point) so I just knew it was gone FOREVER. 

Friday, January 29th
I was super depressed and torn all day. I contacted Anna and asked her to come to my house so we could go over what exactly happened on Tuesday. She and her son, who translated, came over to our house around 6:30PM and told us what was going on. Anna had a new helper with her on that day named Maria as well as her original helper who was also named Maria (RED FLAG). She told us that Maria Guadalupe who goes by Lola (the suspect) was in our bedroom dusting and cleaning and the 2nd helper was not at all in our room. Anna also mentioned that Lola was acting very suspicious and told Anna she needed work and money because her husband was sick... HELLO MOTIVE! 

Anna and her son left after about 20-30 minutes and Anna was upset about having this happened to me and I truly believed she did not do it. She seemed VERY sincere and helpful in the matter. Plus sh drove down from Willis and had her son come with her to help translate. But her story had LOTS of holes in and Chris was just not sure about the whole ordeal. We told Anna to meet up with Lola again on Saturday and call us with an update. We also got all three of their names and numbers so we could file a police report. 

Saturday, January 30th 
I had to do a 9 mile run on this day and I spent those 9 miles praying to God to show me where the ring was. I kept praying for wisdom and guidance to show me where I left it or enlighten us as to who took it or what to do next. Honestly, it was the best RUN ever and I feel God was speaking to me during those 9 miles. 

The rest of the day I tried to take my mind off the whole situation and enjoy my family. We spent time at the park and then that evening Chris and Natalie went to the Daddy Daughter Dance while Luke and I went and had a date at Chick-fil-A. While we were at Chick-fil-A Anna called and said she met up with Lola on Saturday afternoon and she was acting really weird. Lola asked to meet with us and I immediately replied "at a common location, not our house". So we set up a meeting for Sunday afternoon at Costco. 

Sunday, January 31st 
Natalie got sick the night before at the Daddy Daughter Dance and I was not feeling well so we did not go to church. We rested and tried to get well most of the day. Natalie was much better in the morning and whatever she had she seemed to be over. Anna called and asked to meet at Costco at 3:30 so we loaded up everyone in the car and went to meet her. Anna and her son met up with us first and told us what happened on Saturday and some other information. Anna was certain that Lola, the helper, took the ring and we would have to convince her to give it back. The 2nd helper, Maria, met up with us too. We waited for about an hour before Lola finally showed up. 

While the 3 of them plus their translators, and Chris and I were talking Natalie was in the car taking videos and pictures of the whole ordeal so we would have evidence to take to the police. Lola kept denying she had it by saying "Yo no tango" (I do not have) but then she would look at Anna and smile. I did notice this after the 4th or 5th time but did not think anything of it. We told Lola that if she knew she didn't take it and had nothing to hide then to give us her formal name and all of her information, such as an ID card, so we could file the police report. In fact, I insulted THEM all by saying "Adios USA and Hola Mexico" since I knew they would be deported if they were found guilty. However, I do feel like this is what made the situation turn around. After about 30 minutes of talking with Lola, Anna and Maria we finally got Lola to give over her Resident Card of which we took a picture evidence of. Lola'a family also gave us numbers for references and their personal information as they insisted they had NOTHING to do with it. In the meantime Anna was yelling in Spanish at Lola to the point Chris had to separate them and tell Anna to leave.

Our investigator... having fun with mommy's phone!

The other investigator... Being silly as usual!

The group of us trying to figure this all out in the Costco Parking Lot... What a CRAZY situation! 

Later... Natalie took a picture of her hands!
Silly little princess! 

We left Costco empty handed around 5:30PM with our poor kids tired and bored. We had the names and information for all 3 but Chris knew it was all but a lost cause. Before we left the Costco parkign lot Anna called and asked to meet with us so she followed us to our house. 

As she came in she was very emotional and asked for water. She then said that she thought about the meeting with Lola on Saturday and how weird she was acting and thought about how they were meeting at the Kroger parking lot in ANNA'S CAR. So she called her daughter and told her to search the car and the daughter did and FOUND the ring in the front passengers seat! WHAT? Sure enough I saw a text of my ring. I immediately praised God for this blessing and said I will go and get the ring because I did not want Anna's family coming to our house. We went back to Costco only to find Lola and her crew still there so we went across I-45 to Walmart. Initially I went alone so Chris could get the kids fed and etc but he quickly decided that was not safe and we had my father-in-law Dan come over and watch the kids. After a brief 15 minute wait at Walmart Anna's husband and family showed up and gave me my ring back (inside a ring bag... another red flag). I was so overjoyed and grateful to God. I really thought I had lost it all FOREVER!

The most perfect and gorgeous wedding ring EVER and it is mine!
Thank you Jesus for this answer to prayer! 

I have NO IDEA what actually happened and a part of me does not ever want to know. I am just happy to have it back! We always said if they returned it we would not press charges and we are going to honor that, if though my gut says the opposite. I just Praise Jesus for returning it to us. We are not going to be using Anna anymore for our household maid services or ANYONE for that matter. I feel like we have been burned enough and I can just clean my 3,300 SQFT house myself... Lots of people do this! I can too! 

Through this whole ordeal I felt like I was drawing closer and closer to Jesus. I had a come to Jesus meeting back at the end of 2015 when I was faced with one of my GREATEST fears of all... mice. Through that event, then the dogs running away and then this Wedding Ring saga I have grown stronger in my faith and kept my trust in him. I know there was a lesson in each of these events and hopefully I have learned this lesson but if not... I will keep my faith and trust in him. 

Some of my favorite verses through these times have been: 

  • Psalm 56:3-4
    3- When I am afraid, I put my trust in you
    4- In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere man do to me? 
  • Psalm 28:7
    The Lord is my strength and shield. My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him. 
  • Proverbs 3:5
    Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. 
  • Romans 8:39
    Nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    (This one REALLY hit home... not even a lost/ stolen Wedding Ring will make me turn from Jesus and His never-ending love). 
  • Psalm 139:12
    Even the darkness is not dark to you, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to you. 
  • Lamentations 3:23
    Great is Your Faithfulness
    (This is my all time favorite verse and especially Hymn. The words speak to me during the deepest of trials to the heights of accomplishments and answered prayers. Thank You Jesus for your faithfulness.)

Even in the midst of trials and tribulations... My God is greater and BIGGER. 

MY God is GOOD... ALL the time! 

Fur Babies

Come Home Abbey and Oxford 

January 2016 

Thursday, January 21st 
I ran home today from school with one thing on my mind... My 4 mile run for my half marathon training program. Chris always has tutoring after school on Thursdays and does not get home until about 6:30PM and I am always on my own for feeding the kids, bathing them and getting them ready for bed. This is a routine we do each Thursday but this Thursday my miles were bigger than previous weeks so I knew it was going to be a hustle and draining. I had no idea how draining it would actually be. 

I got on the treadmill and did my 4 miles then showered and began to cook dinner for the kids. All the while Luke kept asking to let the dogs in so they could play with them. I usually do not let the dogs in with just the kids while I am running as the dogs usually play around and get into things and I wanted to be available for this process. I cooked the kids dinner, they ate it (taking 20-30 minutes) and we even unloaded and re-loaded the dishwasher before I agreed to let the dogs inside the house. I was a VERY windy day and when I opened the back door to let them in they were not there. I called for them and looked and looked with no luck. Then I turned to the east side of the house and noticed our gate was open. I knew they had gotten out and I had to act fast to find them as the sun would go down in 20-30 minutes. I got shoes on the kids and we got in the car. I immediately called my mother-in-law Jackie who lives in our subdivision and asked her to help us look for the dogs. In the meantime, Chris was stuck in traffic coming home from tutorials. 

The kids and I looked and looked through the neighborhood and the sun went down and never saw them. We asked neighbors and LITERALLY drove down EVERY street in our subdivision and even surrounding neighborhoods. Abbey and Oxford are beagles and Abbey is especially prone to just follow her nose and a scent she picks up so I knew they could be ANYWHERE. 

Chris made it home by 6:30PM and he looked and drove around in his car while the kids and I were in my car. We called out their names and had flashlights looking around each of the houses. Around 7:15PM Jackie offered to take the kids home and bathe them and get them ready for bed while Chris and I made one more trip around the neighborhood. Chris and I stayed out until about 9PM and then turned in for the night just hoping and praying the dogs were OK and not lost or worse. 

After we came home I posted a photo of the dogs on our neighborhood Facebook page and within minutes I got replies that people had seen them running around the neighborhood. Time ranging from 5:15 to 6:00PM but no one noticed them after 6PM. This gave me a little hope. 

Friday, January 22nd 
On Friday morning, I woke up and called my principal to ask if I could be a little late to wait for daylight so I could look for them again. She was VERY UNDERSTANDING and I am incredibly grateful to her for her kindness. I got the kids some kolaches and then made a few drives through the neighborhood... we spent over an hour and nothing. We left for school all with heavy hearts and I was crying the whole 15 mile/ 20 minute commute. Natalie was very optimistic and said "mommy, they will come back. Let's Pray". So we spent the next few moments praying about their safety and return. 

During my planning time I came back home to post signs and flyers all over the neighborhood and to go to the local animal shelter and see if they were picked up and dropped off there. Jackie knew I was coming and met me there which was very sweet. They mentioned at the front that they had an older beagle which let me get my hopes up but as we walked to the back of the facility I realized it was not Abbey or Oxford. My heart just sank. 

I made my way back to school to eat lunch with Natalie as I do often on Fridays. Again, her hopes were high and she just knew they were out there. I on the other hand was facing the reality that they might be gone FOREVER. Abbey was a wedding gift from Chris and she was coming up on her 10th birthday as we are coming up on our 10 year wedding anniversary. Chris got her for me the day after we returned from our honeymoon in London and we appropriately named her Abbey after the Westminster Abbey, which was our favorite attraction we saw while on our honeymoon. It was a real emotional day and became harder as the hours passed. 

At the end of the day a teacher friend told me I should be sure to post a LARGE sign in the front of the subdivision as well as the other flyers I had put on the community mailboxes. On our way home, the kids and I stopped at Walmart to get the stakes and "garage sale" style signs to post at the front. We made it home just in time to post them at 5:30PM for a few minutes of daylight. Chris and I both were not optimistic but Natalie sure was. 

We ate dinner and continued our Friday night as usual and around 6:15PM we got a phone call from a man who had picked up Abbey and Oxford on Thursday evening around 6PM at the very front of the subdivision. He said they were just sniffing and running around but were getting close to the State Highway 242 and he worried they would get hurt so he picked them up in his truck and took him to his home where he had 2 dogs of his own. He told Chris that Abbey actually snapped at him when he tried to get her in his truck but the rest of the time they were very pleasant. This sweet and generous man took these stray dogs into his home, fed them and even walked them for us. What a good Samaritan and a true example of God's mercy. 

We got Abbey and oxford back and became a happy family of SIX again! I truly thought I had lost them both and it was so heartbreaking. Abbey is older and has seizures daily so I knew she was not going to make it much longer but I always knew I would have Oxford there when she did pass. This was almost unbearable as they would BOTH be gone. But in the midst of this storm I tried to Praise God and thank him for the 10 amazing years we had with them and for the joy they brought Chris and I and our kids. I also thanked God for the amazing FAITH my 6 year old had during the whole thing. I tried to keep the faith and trust God. I kept singing the familiar tune "God is in Control". This song got me through many trails in my life and kept me going through this trial too. 

This is no time for fear

This is the time for faith and determination
Don't lose the vision here carried away by the motion
Hold on to all that you hide in your heart
There is one thing that has always been true
It holds the world together

God is in control
We believe that His children will not be forsaken
God is in control
We will choose to remember and never be shaken
There is no power above or beside Him, we know
Oh, God is in control, oh God is in control

History marches on
There is a bottom line drawn across the ages
Culture can make its plan oh, but the line never changes
No matter how the deception may fly
There is one thing that has always been true
It will be true forever

God is in control
We believe that His children will not be forsaken
God is in control
We will choose to remember and never be shaken
There is no power above or beside Him, we know
Oh, God is in control, oh God is in control

He has never let you down
Why start to worry now?
Why start to worry now?
He is still the Lord of all we see
And He is still the loving Father
Watching over you and me

Watching over you, watching over me
Watching over every thing
Watching over you, watching over me
Every little sparrow, every little thing
Oh, every little thing, oh

God is in control
We believe that His children will not be forsaken
God is in control
We will choose to remember and never be shaken
There is no power above or beside Him, we know
Oh, God is in control, oh God is in control

Oh God is in control
Oh God is in control

God is in Control and knew that situation before it even began. Thank you Lord for bringing our fur babies home and for helping us get through this struggle by bringing your word to our minds and wonderful words of Praise. Thank You Jesus, once again, for answering our prayers.

Oxford... I love this little guy so much! The thought of losing him AND Abbey was just too much!

My Abbey... The most perfect gift from Chris nearly 10 years ago.
I know her time is coming but I was NOT ready! 

Thank you Jesus for bringing my FUR BABIES back! 

God is good... All the time!