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Cracker Barrel #534

As Nathaniel so eloquently put it “I thought we were just here to eat.”

When we got the invite to a meal from Rick Raymond, district manager of Cracker Barrel, I thought it was so nice that CB was acknowledging Peyton for her faithful customer-ship. In fact, for sheer brand loyalty, this kid is unsurpassed. The frequency varies depending on what phase of treatment she’s on, but the consistent request is “Can we go to Cracker Barrel?” I was excited to go and meet Rick and let him know what a fantastic restaurant they run, how compassionate and loving the staff always is to Peyton and how happy they make Peyton whenever we’re there. It a very safe happy place for her, I know that in her mind, nothing bad ever happens there.

We sat down and in came Rick, Stephanie (a district level manager), Stacy (the store retail manager) and John (a store manager), along with a number of other store managers, I do believe they were all present and accounted for. In fact, several employees who see us regularly came in on their time off to see Peyton on her special day in the restaurant and meet the rest of the family.

The overwhelming part of the visit really started when a special employee named Chris came over with one of the managers to greet our tables. He’s a busboy with Down’s Syndrome and he told us of his trip to the Special Olympics recently where he placed third in his track and field event. He was excited to meet Peyton and the kids and we were thrilled to meet him. Chris presented Peyton with a very special gift, you could tell his much work had gone into his presentation and my heart just melted, I’m not embarrassed to tell you I cried a lot today, but good tears. Of course, that’s the moment that they decide to break out the camera and start shooting pictures…perfect!

We opened the box and it was a Cracker Barrel apron, mini sized to fit Peyton and her name was embroidered on it with the words “Rising Star”….she loved it and told me it was her favorite and her best present ever. There were lots of pictures taken and we were told that Peyton’s picture and story would be going into their company newsletter, we’ll get a copy and post it when it comes. One of the waitresses gave her some “tip money”, pennies to put in the pocket of her new apron, another gave her a pen and another presented her with an order book with which she’s taken great pleasure taunting Rachael. When we got home with these goodies, Rachael announced “We’re going to play Cracker Barrel all day today!”

The fun did not stop there. After we ate our meal, Peyton was presented with one of the little white rocking chairs of her very own and a GINORMOUS basket of toys and animals and candy, seriously, the basket is 3 times the size she is. It would make a fairly nice bassinette. Nathaniel and Rachael were given boxes of goodies with toys and candy also and they sat down in the middle of the restaurant floor….directly in front of the waitstaff doorway to break into their booty.

Stacy, the retail manager, and I had the opportunity to connect in a special way. She lost a son to a brain tumor years ago, and she understood the weight of responsibilities on the caregivers of cancer kids. We talked about living each day for the precious gift that it. She had put together a special basket for me as well, full of lotions and candles, a special prayer angel and lots of other goodies. I was gifted with a full sized rocking chair as well! We were just stunned. Peter seriously covets my rocking chair….I promised to let him sit in it…maybe! But it is a family gift and we’re all going to enjoy those chairs!

Then the topper was when Rick presented Peter with special coupons for meals for when Peyton and I make our trips to the hospital. It’s a way for them to have extra special meals when mom can’t be home to cook. That was awesome! Then Rick handed me an envelope and it was a letter, an invitation for Peyton and I to eat at Cracker Barrel any time we want as their guest! That means, that next steroid treatment Peyton has coming up, when she’ll want to go every day again will be a treat of Cracker Barrel. Is that amazing or what?

Peter said something that fit it pretty darn well. He said that it felt like Exodus….the Lord tells his people that He would provide for them. He has, each day and in special ways, God has provided what we needed. Whether it was someone who lifted our spirits on a day when we’re feeling down, or something like this where those meals that are so important to Peyton when she doesn’t feel good are provided through a generous gift.

How do you thank someone for a blessing like this? I don’t know how many times I said thank you, but there was no real way to express how much it all meant to us. I know that they understood, but I just hope that their lives are blessed the way they’ve blessed ours.

My friend Maryellen Flint is a mom at our school, she has sons who are in both Nathaniel and Rachael’s grades and she’s become a special friend who encourages me and keeps me laughing. She and her husband have a landscaping business, DCF Landscaping, that has a client that is high up in the Cracker Barrel ranks and she is the one who printed off pages of Peyton’s website and wrote a letter to tell them about Peyton. This client, Mr. Flannigan decided to do something to help our family and got in contact with Rick Raymond who contacted our Cracker Barrel and heard about Peyton from the employees there and then went to her site and learned more about our family. This all led up to our special Cracker Barrel day and how can you not see God’s hand guiding this all the way?

With Team Peyton we’ve had a super response to emails and letters I’ve sent out, people sending donations supporting our fundraising efforts. Plus, we’ve had the special bonus of friends telling friends and we’ve been getting response from people we don’t even know! Now I’m on the hunt to make our onsite fundraiser efforts a success….we’re looking for services, products or gift cards that we can use in our silent auction, and to give for prizes in our karaoke contest, as well as people who’d be willing to bake cakes, cookies, brownies, any goodies that we can use in our Bake Walk. So, if you’re willing to help us, let us know…if you know anyone who’s can help us and might be willing, hit them up for us….or just pray that our efforts are met with success.

I just got a call from Angela Powell that Adelaine needs our prayers. She’s back at All Children’s with a fever and an ear infection. She’s having some tests run to see why she’s getting these reoccurring ear infections, so I’m praying that they are able to find something to help ease her pain and keep her from getting sick. We did have a laugh because we are never able to time it that the girls can get sick at the same time, if Adelaine had just gotten her fever LAST weekend we could have had a good time! But they are in the room next to Tiffany and Anna and I’m hoping that Angela is able to talk to Tiffany and give some additional support. It will help Tiffany to see that she’s never alone in all of this.

I also got a call from Maryellen…I had talked to her right after we got home from CB to tell her all the exciting details of our day. I wanted to share with her especially because she’d been so instrumental in getting God’s plan rolling and making this day possible. She called me to share that she’d been feeling pretty good about her good deed and she thought her head was swelling a little. She said that just about the time she felt like she was patting herself on the back for being able to be a part of this day, God provided a “Hey, remember this is all MY work” smackdown on her! Her husband called and a tire popped on his truck, just exploded right where it was sitting. Her words to me were that something was going to pop, either her swelled head or the tire, and she was glad it was the tire. No matter, I am grateful for friends like Maryellen and that she cares enough to reach out on our behalf. She shined a lot of love in our lives, both hers and God’s and that’s priceless.

I have a few pictures of the day that I’ll post as soon as I get them off the camera. I’m also going to get copies of the ones that CB took and a copy of the newsletter that will have Peyton in it to share with you all soon.

“Hey, we could use a rocking chair for an auction item at the Relay.” Peter brings up casually.

“You’re talking about MY chair aren’t you?” I give him the evil eye, knowing the only way we’d get Peyton to give up her chair is to have her surgically detached from it….and even then she’d probably feel phantom rocking pains for the rest of her natural life.

“Well, yeah.”

“Jealousy is an ugly thing, Peter.”

“Yes, yes it is.”

New commandment…thou shalt not covet thy wife’s new rocking chair, no matter how comfy and wonderful it is!

f.r.o.G…fully relying on God

These are just some sweet shots I took this morning of the girls out in the sun, being goofy and wonderful. My favorite models!

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