Monday, January 31, 2011

white light love

It's a cold snowy day and I am finally taking down our Christmas tree.

I so miss the glow of the white lights in the living room, though, and Gabe's big tissue flowers. . .  so in they went to the top of the laundry cupboards.

Looking at this photo, I am shocked at the drabness of our bathroom wall color.  Huh.  That may change soon.

Few things make me happier than white lights!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

5th Annual Ski Trip

I took a deep breath yesterday and let my son do what he's been dying to do all year. . .

I told myself that something in a boy's soul dies when an over protective mommy squashes what he and his daddy are okay with. . .

Jacob's soul is not dying anytime soon.

 I'm pretty sure that JD thinks that his Grandpa exists to make his life fun. .  .
 Ummm. . . somebody crashed, I think. We had 45 skiers in our group this year.  So fun.
What is this? Snuggles and love to appease me?  Yup.

Yes, that is my little boy, down at the very bottom - the smallest pin dot!  Yikes! I kept saying to myself  I can't believe we're letting him do this. . .
 And here is our purple puff, Cambria. . .

She was so excited to go down {the slopes} with her daddy!  At some point in the day the outdoor sound system changed to KLOVE and Daniel told me she was belting out Cry to Jesus with Chris Rice as she "skied."  Hilarious.

Monday, January 24, 2011

i am afraid of happiness

I am afraid to be happy.

When did I discover this?

Not all at once, that is for sure.

Little glimpses of happiness and then a cold wave of fear reveals this new phase of grief: a fear of joy, of normalcy, of  that life is beautiful feeling.

I wonder if this is normal.

I wonder if it's because we were so happy that particular morning that our little man met Jesus;

I remember. . . 


crazy life


packing for a wedding


coffee brewing


windows open wide

dancing in our kitchen to Lead Me  

crying on Daniel's shoulder;

Why are you crying?

"Just because God is so good to us. . ."

Fifteen minutes later that happy world shattered into a million fragmented pieces.

I never thought normal life would return.

I wondered if we'd even live.

I wondered if our family would shatter, too.

I didn't think I'd ever be able to laugh again.

I didn't think life would ever feel happy.

Now I see glimpses of that normalcy and I want it and yet it is so scary to me. 

It's not that I want to be sad.

It's not that I want to stay paralyzed by grief.

It's certainly not that I like the black hole!

I am afraid of being happy because I don't want to shatter again.

I think this on days like today, when the kids play with friends and school goes great and I get a sitter so I can steal a few moments with Daniel at work and then have a girls night out and laugh until we cry. . .

coming home tonight,

putting kids to bed,

planning meals for tomorrow,

stacking library books,

straightening the kitchen. . .

it's so normal. 

I loooooove normal.

I feel organized.

I start to turn on David Crowder's Oh, Happiness

and then. . .

I stop.

The last time I felt normal and busy and happy bad stuff happened.

And here is where I meet God, wrestling out these realities.

He is good.

He is kind.

He saw my son die.

He is faithful.

He is my Father.

He saw our world shatter.

He is all seeing.

He is all knowing.

He is always there.

There isn't a simple sweet ending to this today. . .

I am holding these truths in my heart and still holding His gifts to me in my hands. . . my children, my husband. . .

I don't have answers.

I am just learning, just finishing up kindergarten (or preschool?) in the school of loss and  grief and bad stuff.

It sounds so awfully inane and easy and simple. . .

let go

trust God

allow the joy when it comes peeking in. . .

just be happy.

But it's a huge huge HUGE step of faith for me.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

shelf makeover

I found this shelf. . .

somewhere. . .

on some street.

{. . .being thrown away. . .}

I painted it and put it on top of an antiqued dresser rescued from Daniel's grandpa.

{It was in his garage. . . being thrown away. . .}

{Thrown away + rescued by me = free home decor.  Love it!}

It needed something on the back, so I cut out fabric that I liked {at that time} and

glued the pieces to the back of the shelf.

It was okay.

Kind of vanilla.

My attention span with my house really lasts about three months per project, so I'm surprised

that the vanilla roses have been here for two years.

Goodbye vanilla roses!!!

Loving my $2.99 wrapping paper {Hallmark} makeover!

best. pancakes. ever.

I've made tons and tons of pancakes and these cornmeal pancakes were the best I've ever had! 

I didn't change these one bit, so it isn't mine in any way, shape or form; you'll have to go here to see the recipe.

Super yummy!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

creating a reading environment

So have you ever noticed

that if you try to display something

your children will mess it up?

I'm one step ahead of my kids this week and we are displaying books in the windows.

They like to read anyway, but they are beside themselves now.  Everywhere they turn, there are books

they haven't noticed before.

They're just irresistible. . .
especially if you can warm your little toes up on the furnace vent. . . .
or snuggle up in your mom and dad's bed. . .

My mom has always encouraged and cultivated a love of reading and books. . . as demonstrated here by Daniel.

who was thoroughly involved in The Great Picture Atlas for Children when we were there for Thanksgiving.

My mom is great at creating every kind of relaxing environment though. . . my mom and dad's house is the one place I can go and totally kick back and let all troubles roll away.

And speaking of relaxing, how cool is my mom's dining room?  I love her house. 
But this has nothing to do with reading.  So on with my current creative tangent. . .

And this idea borrowed from my friend Pam, one of my many mentor friends that ought to blog:
I found these Scrabble tiles today at a thrift store for 65 cents!  Woohoo!

How do you encourage your little people to read?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

they were meant to be

Remembering a really special guy today. . .

Pastor A met Jesus last year today.

Our children loved him.

His going-home was their first experience with death.

Pastor A's precious other half, Pauline, has opened her heart wide to my children and as they walk their own grief-road, she is walking it with them.

They never forget him.  They know he belongs with her.  They love that he is in Heaven.

We spent some time with one of my favorite people in the whole world yesterday.  I tell her, "Speak, O Wise One, and I will listen!" and she laughs.  We looked through pictures of their lives together. . .

His football uniform. Did you go to his games? I ask and she says of course and that she was just distraught watching him be carried off the field after an injury once; his eyes twinkle at us from the black and white photo.

She tells me about an announcement she gave in an assembly meeting at school and how he sat in the audience, listening to her, and that he leaned over to his buddy and said that's the girl I'm going to marry.

His first car. . . I tell her that Pastor A's chest is puffed out cuz he's so proud. . . new car and a pretty girl hanging onto his arm. . . their joy is real and alive and almost like you could reach out and touch it.

And then the picture I fell in love with. . .

two people, madly in love with each other. . .

headed off into life to serve a God who is faithful. . .

to raise an incredible family. . .

to see sorrow and loss. . .

to impact countless lives. . .

their beginning.

Love them both so much. . . one in Heaven and one still here. . .

They were meant to be!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

on skeletal comfort

Notes from church this morning. . .


must meet


One without the other

is like separating

bones from the body.

Genuine care

must meet

God's Word.

Sincere listening

must meet

real prayer.

Acknowledgement of pain

must meet

pointing to eternity.

Care without Christ feels good but lacks the strength of the {bone structure} of the Word of God.

Simply handing Bible verses out to the hurting, without genuine care, is skeletal comfort.

We are blessed by so many who have showed us these truths in real life. . . praying for the wisdom and sensitivity to be this kind of comfort for others.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

lack of scotch tape

When you don't have Scotch tape can't find the Scotch tape:

Use electrical tape.  It looked terrible, so we kept going.  And then it kind of  turned into a fire truck. . . . WOooOOOoo. . . .

I looove creative wrapping. 

This reminds me once again that while I am very prone to creativity, organization and planning are not my strong points.  The electrical tape will also run out get misplaced; adding tape to the grocery list would be a good idea.

Someday when I grow up the cups will only be on one shelf in our cupboards and surely my t-shirts will be sorted by color.

ice rescue class

Can I just say "SUPER SUPER COLD" ?

Eleven degrees!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Happy 1st Birthday, Little Man

My heart is celebrating you, today, Gabe. . .

What a fun day January 12 was! Non stop snuggling with you from 6:36 AM til midnight.  You were one loved little guy.

You brought so much joy to our home!

You are treasured.

You are His.

You were funny and cheerful and hilarious.

You were loved every single minute by every single one of us.

You are still a happy thing to us.

You are still talked about daily, if not hourly by your brother and sister.

I am so thankful that you were here.

Happy Birthday.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

january banners

I was not feeling too hot today. . .

{Note to self: when trying to hide pinkeye and a cold by wearing Daniel's Hawkeye stocking hat and dashing into the library *crossing fingers* hoping not to see anyone we personally know. . .

You will see the childcare coordinator from Mops (who defines graciousness, but still. . .)

You will see supermom bloggers who homeschool and cook their own dinners and look super cute and patiently truck their kids to fun programs at the library (hi, Michelle)

and your mother-in-law's college roommate will check out your library books.}

But at any rate, I am comforting my sad appearance and sore throat by making some whole wheat cinnamon rolls and crafting all day. 

I started with this:

This is my stairwell window . . .$5 roman shade from Ikea. . . going three years strong, except for the cord, so I thought it might look cute tied up. I'm really in a funky color mood, and still have tons of orange ribbon, so. . .

. . .then I had this cute green Gap shirt that never fit right. . . (at least that's my excuse - really, the geometric print was just perfect for my little flag banner) plus an orange and pink striped Isaac Mizraih whatshisname- you know, the Target Isaac- tablecloth (or was it a sheet?)

. . . and they became the flag banner.  I just sewed them {without finishing any edges} onto 47 cent 1/4" white ribbon from WalMart. 

The kids love it.  They want to make one go down the stairway railing.  (I just might do that.)

 Then I started thinking I needed little flag banners in my kitchen windows, but I didn't think the size was right, so I cut little circles out and just sewed them onto that same ribbon and thumbtacked them in each of the three windows.
It does brighten the grey January view!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

the grief bookshelf (for kids)

Not as many here. . .

I'm still adding to this list.

The three listed are so, so good, though.

God Gave Us Heaven {Lisa Tawn Bergren}
This is precious.  I loved the God Gave Us. . . books anyway and was thrilled when my mom found this one.  Sweet and simple answers to children's questions.

Someday Heaven {Larry Libby}
I think this book covers almost any question a child could think up.  The paintings are beautiful and it's soothing and calm.

Tear Soup {Pat Schwiebert and Chuck DeKlyen}
I love this book.  Ingredients for grief and grieving in a healthy way. 

I will add to this list as I find more.

Thank you for all of the suggestions that each of you have made. . . I'll be adding them to my Amazon cart!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

the grief bookshelf

Besides handing endless kleenex to us and the kind of hugs that squeeze all of your air out, one of the most healing things people have done for us is give us books to read.

On those sleepless nights when my mind wouldn't stop and praying didn't work and the grief was just unbearable, I would turn my lamp on and reach for a book - blindly - from the stack on my nightstand.  The books had started coming almost immediately after Gabe died; in the mail box, with a meal, wrapped in tissue and tied with bows, wrinkled and dog-eared, new and crisp.

Books about God, about finding Him in the storm, about real people who have gone through real loss. . . about how to hang on.

I would read late, late, late into the night until exhaustion forced me to dreamless sleep.  I still do this a lot.

This is a rough list of what we've been reading.

The One Year Book of HOPE  {Nancy Guthrie}
Organized into days and weeks, hope for each moment.  Nancy writes from her own heart and the experience of losing her daughter, Hope.  I think this book is helpful because it shines a light at the end of a tunnel, just with the word year in the title. 

Silent Grief  {Clara Hinton}
Again, from personal experience with child loss, this author spoke of the very real need to let the grieving happen, even if others don't understand.

When Life is Changed Forever {Rick Taylor}
My friend Pam gave this book to me at JD and Cambria's first swimming lesson last summer.  I was numb and in shock, still jumping every time someone screamed.  At that point, I couldn't imagine anyone with a tragedy greater than ours. Tunnel vision.  I sat down that afternoon and read the entire book.  Rick and his wife Judy lost one of their sons in a tragic water accident when their five year old little man tried to save his two year old brother.  The two year old lived, but not his hero big brother.  The Taylors acknowledge that life changes forever.  I knew that, deep in my soul, and it felt good to have someone say it instead of platitudes like time will heal.  Raw, honest and real.

Mommy, Please Don't Cry. . .There Are No Tears in Heaven {Linda DeyMaz}
First book I received.  It's a picture book, a letter to a mom from a child in Heaven.  The baby in the third picture looked exactly like my Gabe; chuckling and happy.  I met Jesus today, Mommy. . .  I wept.  This is a beautiful book. 

Keep a Quiet Heart {Elisabeth Elliot}
Short essays by one of my favorite authors.

Heaven {Randy Alcorn}
A beautiful, Scriptural, outside the box approach to Heaven.  What if we truly longed to be in Heaven?

Love and Respect {Dr. Emerson Eggerichs}
This book and the principles in it literally saved our marriage.  I wouldn't have thought of reading it (again) through the lens of grief, but it was required material at the marriage retreat we went to in October.  Love and Respect still apply BIG TIME while grieving. . . living it out is keeping us from the 85% of marriages that end in divorce after losing a child statistic.

SIDS and Infant Death Survival Guide {Joani Nelson Horchler and Robin Rice}
When my mind was driving me crazy with insane what ifs I read these accounts of many, many people who had lost their babies to SIDS.  One story even had the firefighter daddy coming home in the morning, so strikingly similar to our loss.  These little people went to Heaven. . . and there was nothing anyone could have done, at any time, to stop their deaths.  My heart needed that assurance so, so badly as we waited on autopsy reports and answers and so many questions.

Lessons I Learned in the Dark {Jennifer Rothschild}
A blind woman writes of the Light she knows in Christ.

Heaven {Joni Eareckson Tada}
Her subtitle says it well : your real home.

The Spirit of Hope {gift book from Hallmark}
Small collection of quotes.  I like this one: Courage is doing what you must, when doing what you must is the hardest thing of all.

Because He Loves Me {Elyse Fitzpatrick}
God so loved. . . me. . . that He gave. . . His only Son

Morning Will Come {Sandy Day}
Infant loss stories; more realization that I was not alone in the loss of my child.

What Do I Know About My God? {Mardi Collier}
Focusing on what I do know about God was calming and helped me hang on to Him.

At the Scent of Water {Linda Nichols}
I was stunned by the realness of this fictional story of Sam and Annie when I read it several years ago.  I wept reading it.  Linda Nichols weaves a breathtaking story of tragedy, a love that only God could restore and hope that only a loving Father gives.  I never forgot the verse that the book is based on, and after we lost our little man, I spent an afternoon in our guest room curled up on the bed re-reading this beautiful book.  Frankly, there is far too much reality for this to be a simple work of fiction. "At least there is hope for a tree: if it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail.  Its roots may grow old in the ground and its stump die in the soil, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put forth shoots like a plant." {Job 14:7-9}

Surviving the Loss of a Child {Elizabeth B. Brown}
A grief counselor suddenly loses her twelve year old daughter and learns about grief firsthand. This book is excellent; one of the many influences that discouraged us from seeking pills and medication for the pain and sleep loss.  The author writes with the experience of her own grief and the knowledge from years of counseling.

I Will Carry You: The Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy {Angie Smith}
Author of the very famous blog Bring the Rain, Angie writes about the loss of their daughter Audrey.  Beautiful.  Drawing from her own loss and her knowledge as a developmental psychologist, she gently incorporated her daughters into their grieving process instead of shutting them out;  I learned a ton about helping my children grieve.

Choosing to SEE {Mary Beth Chapman}
This is a phenomenal book; we found hope in just scanning the chapter titles, let alone reading the Chapman's words. I love the illustration she uses of buying a pitcher and having a family ceremony of breaking it on the driveway and then gluing it back together as a testament to the healing of God and that they wanted comfort to seep through the broken places in their lives.  Like many aspects of grief, the pitcher didn't break according to her plan; it shattered into fine powder.  Mary Beth writes with honesty and sincerity.  Grief doesn't follow a formula; it's a journey, and the Chapmans are walking the road.  I'm so thankful that they are sharing the journey.

When the Road Seems Too Steep {Ronald E. Minor}
Daily, weekly plan, thoughts, reading. Again, light and purpose just in having someone chart the course ahead for me.  Next week? It's such a burden to think about when grieving. It helps to have something mapped out.

Surviving One Bad Year {Nancie Carmichael}
I just started this book.  It is divided into two parts: emergency tactics to cope immediately and strategy to recover.  Excellent. 

The Beautiful Ache: Finding the God Who Satisfies When Life Does Not {Leigh McLeroy}
Embrace the pain. . . find Him in the aching longing. . .pointing my aching heart to Heaven, a place we were created for.

When Answers Aren't Enough: Experiencing God as Good When Life Isn't {Matt Rogers}The pastor at New Life Christian Fellowship at Virginia Tech writes with an extremely rare honesty about the sting of death; death isn't okay. It wasn't his time. Death is not part of life. Death is not God's design. I was reading this the other night in bed and couldn't keep from reading aloud to Daniel; we both agree that this guy "gets it" and are so thankful for his forthrightness, his reluctance to skip to the happy part, and his clear understanding of Scripture. Four stars.

I'm so thankful for each one of these resources; I know there are many more. . . what are some you find helpful or have given/or received?

*Children's Grief Bookshelf coming. . .

Monday, January 3, 2011

i don't want be a blogger

I started this blog to let my out of state family see pictures of the kids.

I quickly found amusement and satisfaction in chronicling the story of my little family; writing has always been a love of mine and I felt like I was actually one of those cool scrapbooking girls like my sister in law Marlys.

Then it became sort of a lifeline, a way to preserve memories and know my son's life was not in vain, that his story wouldn't be forgotten, an outpouring of hope and horror and grief and the grace of God.

And you read.

I am humbled by each one who chooses to use their precious moments to read what is written here.

Obviously most bloggers hope that people read, hope that they touch lives and hope that people read their story.  There is a temptation to "go big," to link up and to track back; {are those the right terms?!} to advertise and join networks to gain attention and followers.

I just want to say that's not what we're about. 

If one person reads and learns that life is precious,

If one woman reads and thinks maybe I could bring my heart home,

If one friend can say . . . I know this girl. . . her baby died too, and she is still alive. . .

If one grieving couple can see. . . we're still fighting to hang on and stay together and walk this road of grief as one,

If one soul finds a God Who is still a loving Father, even in the fire,

If you close your laptop up and go kiss your kids,

then I will be so happy.

Not sure I'll be blogging much in 2011. . .

but I do plan on stopping in to my Google account

after the kids are in bed

after my sink is clean (thanks Flylady)

after my real life relationships are up to date

and sharing my heart.