Thursday, April 29, 2010

remembering Sadie

I can't let this day pass without acknowledging it's significance to our family.  One year ago today my sister Kerry gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Sadie Grace.  I was in the waiting room, but my heart was in the delivery room, aching so deeply for my sister.  You see, we already knew that Sadie had moved on to her heavenly home.  As we held her precious body that day, and kissed her, and admired her, she was already resting in Jesus' arms.  

I felt so sad, and so numb.  This was a little too familiar.  It had been almost 10 years since we had said hello to our little boy Aidan, only to say goodbye to him 4 short months later.    I couldn't believe that my sister and brother-in-law were experiencing the same grief we had endured.  I couldn't believe my mom and dad had to say goodbye to another grandchild, and watch another daughter grieve.  

But regardless of all the complicated emotions I felt a year ago today, what I KNEW was that God would walk them--us--through.  That the evil of the situation would not be able to harm them.  That amazingly, when facing a parent's worst nightmare, they would not be swallowed up.  Sadie wasn't the only one being held by our loving God--we all were.  The song "Held" by Natalie Grant captures what we experienced when we lost Aidan, and what I trusted Kerry and Jeff would experience too.  The chorus says:

This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was when everything fell
We'd be held

Yes, we had been held.  I specifically remember during Aidan's life the feeling of Someone outside myself holding me up as bad news threatened to consume me.  I remember the comfort of Jesus' arms as I sat on my couch each day for months and cried and missed my boy.  The holding is very real.  And I'm so thankful.  That I experienced it myself, and could hang on to the fact that Kerry would experience it too.  It was that Hope that propelled me through the blur of days surrounding Sadie's death.

I don't understand why Aidan and Sadie didn't get to stay with us...but I do know that God used their lives to change us, to mold us and to tenderize us.  He is a redeemer,  and is redeeming the suffering.  We choose to accept the loss of these precious ones as Big-G-Good, in spite of the pain of the choice.  With our hearts soft towards Him, He allows us to see glimpses of the reality of the Good.

We love and miss you, sweet Sadie.  Until we see you again, enjoy the love and joy of our Savior.  

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

a gift unwrapped

bubba and his bedhead this week

It was just a few words.  In the midst of the morning routine.  As I was trying to tame his bed head, we looked into the mirror together to see if it was "good enough".  And then he said it.

"I can't even explain how much I love you."

A nine-year-old made in God's image.  Reflecting God's character. Unconditional, unexplainable love.  My heart swelled with love for this gift, this boy.

And for the Father, who in the midst of all of my feeble attempts at loving and caring for those He gave me--says the same to me.

I can't even explain how much I love you.  

Today I'm unwrapping the gift of unearned, unimaginable love in the midst of the ordinary messiness of life.  For more gifts unwrapped, visit chatting at the sky.

tuesdays unwrapped at cats

Monday, April 26, 2010

moments of calm

I'm sitting.  Quietly.  Just me.

My Bible, my journal, a purple pen and my mug of diet coke are nearby.  The TV is off, the music is off, there is no chatter.  I hear only the birds singing outside, my dog sleeping and my fingers clicking the keyboard.

I smell the roses given in honor of beautiful dancing, and the sun is streaming through the window.

Calm.  Thoughts and happenings threaten to spin through my head, but I choose calm.

After a lovely and busy visit, my in-laws have left for the airport this morning.  My husband, whose back has kept him from work on and off these last weeks feels good enough to go today.  My birthday-girl-dancer has gone to school even though she has a muscle knot in her back that I just couldn't quite rub away.  Bubba is off to school along with his Paul Revere diorama that was finally finished last night.  I close the door behind them all--those I love dearly and miss while we are apart--and breathe a sigh of calm.

The hubbub is gone for a bit.  Everyone has left.  But I'm not really alone.  He is here.  Now I choose to sit, and rest in Love, and listen.  Yes.  This is good.

Friday, April 23, 2010

the unexpected

Life is full of the unexpected, huh?

I was excited to post pictures of our trees finally budding.  Spring comes late in Colorado, and while many places are in full bloom, we are just barely beginning to green up.  I have been watching for buds on my two trees in the front yard...and they finally appeared!

And today, April 23rd, we woke up to a snow storm!  Pickle has a snow day and Bubba had a snow delay.  I think some popcorn and a movie are in order this afternoon!

And here are my buds today...

Also unexpected this week is that my in-laws visit has been dominated by a rough week for my husband's back. {boo} It is so frustrating and discouraging for him.  He spent a good portion of this week upstairs in our bed while I hung out downstairs with his folks.  Poor guy.  We saw two doctors this week and got no real answers other than the go-ahead to try whatever alternative treatments we want to, and a prescription to try physical therapy again.   We keep praying and asking God to help us find the answer.  I am happy to say that yesterday was a better day, and he was able to go to work.

Whether a snowstorm, back pain, or whatever else comes along, the unexpected keeps us on our toes.  And on our knees.  Nothing catches God by surprise.  I take great comfort in that...

Speaking of being on our toes, we have Pickle's dance recital this weekend.  Here she is at rehearsal last weekend--ready to perform with her worship dance class.

I think she looks lovely.  And that is not a surprise to me at all.  {smile}

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

the tan chair

tuesdays unwrapped at cats

Not long after we moved into our house in 1998, we bought a "chair and a half" for our family room.  It has affectionately been called "the tan chair" ever since.  It is one of my favorite places in our home.  I read there.  I watch TV perched sideways in the tan chair.  I have curled up for a nap in it's arms.  But by far the best part of the tan chair is that there is room for more than one if you get cozy.  It is the perfect place to read with a child (even an almost-as-big-as-you child).  Hubby and I sit together there comfortably close.  It's Bubba's favorite place to snuggle with me.

We took this picture this weekend at Pickle's birthday celebration.  It's the tan chair holding my cute sister Kerry, her baby bump, me, Bubba, and Patch the pup.  My three year old nephew was also sitting with us moments before the picture was taken.  Now that's togetherness!

That is what my tan chair represents to me most of all--togetherness.

In the spirit of celebrating the small, everyday gifts with emily at chatting at the sky, I am celebrating cozy togetherness in the tan chair.

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Friday, April 16, 2010

have you seen this flick?

It's the weekend.  Maybe you need a good chick-flick to relax with.  Have you seen my-favorite-movie-that-nobody-seems-to-know???

Crossing Delancey.  From 1988.  Seriously.

Hubby and I love this movie!  Perhaps it's because it's from the year we started dating.  Perhaps it's the big dose of New York City Jewish culture. (I grew up in New York, and hubby's mom spent her young years as a jewish girl in NYC.)  It might be because the Pickle Man is one of our favorite characters ever...he has some great romantic lines. It might be the hysterical matchmaker and her indigestion.  We love the endearing and funny Bubbie (grandma).  It could be the quirky soundtrack.  It definitely has to do with the sweet storyline.  It's probably all of the above and more.

For the record, I don't think it has anything to do with Amy Irving's hair.  Her hair in this movie is everything I don't want my curly locks to look like.  Just sayin.

Hubby and I can quote (just about) the whole thing--yet find most people have missed this one.

Maybe we are weird--but it's an all-time favorite over here.  Check it out and let me know what you think!

For other favorites, head over to The Other Mama for Friday Favorites!

it's a parentsy day

Catching up with the Company Girls today.

Today is a parentsy day.  We are so thankful to have both sets of our parents healthy and a big part of our lives.  They are both VERY supportive of us through all the good and the ugly we face. Here they all are last November at Bubba's Grandparent's Day at school.

On the left are my parents, who are celebrating their 44th anniversary today!  Can you believe they went to high school prom together?  Yup, they were high school sweethearts--he was the football player and she was the cheerleader.  Kind of sounds like the plot of a Nicholas Sparks novel or Taylor Swift song, huh?  They started out marriage with nothing but love...and here they are 44 years later.  What a gift to have my parents love each other my whole life.  God is faithful.

On the right are hubby's parents--arriving today for a visit from Florida!  They will be here for Pickle's birthday tomorrow and her dance recital next weekend.  We are thankful they are willing to come and join in our busy lives--it must feel like they jump on a treadmill already in motion, run to keep up for a while, and then fling off of it just in time to stay sane!  They are a blessing.

So today is a parentsy day.  Hooray!

In other news:

Pickle turns 14 tomorrow {smile}, and she has been sick all week {boo}.  Don't know if it's migraines or what...but she had nausea for a few days and now killer headaches on and off for a few days.  Last time she had similar symptoms it was a sinus infection--so I think I'll try to get her into the doctor today.

Hubby's back is doing alright, but he is weary on all fronts.  I'm praying diligently for God to refresh him.

I'm so thankful for my bro-in-law Jeff and friend John--who came over last night and helped us get our Christmas boxes (yes, you read that right, CHRISTMAS boxes) out of our guest room in the basement up into the attic above the second floor.  We finally accepted that hubby's back was not going to allow him to do it, and we need that room!  So thankful to have people in our life we feel we can ask for help.

God has me in a season of trusting, trusting, trusting.  Not trying to fix, control or figure out.  Just trust, listen, love and surrender.  Can't go wrong with that, right?

I'm off to ready a guest room (and as much of the rest of the house I can) and call the doctor for my sick almost-14-year-old.  Happy Friday, everyone!

Monday, April 12, 2010

sometimes we can't see...

Sometimes what we can see with our eyes is not the whole truth.  In fact, it usually isn't.  We are so used to basing truth on what we have proof of, what we can take in with our senses.

Sometimes it looks like nothing is going to change, nothing is happening.  We get discouraged.  We can feel stuck.

But our human eyes can't see the whole Story.  God is weaving solutions, changing situations and growing us under the surface.

And then one day, we see it.  And we realize we never should have doubted God's work, just because it hadn't sprouted into our awareness yet.

Spring, which comes slowly in Colorado, reminds me of God's work beyond what we can see--and I'm thanking God for that gift today.

For more tuesday gifts unwrapped, visit chatting at the sky.

tuesdays unwrapped at cats

spinning questions


Today, too many questions are spinning through my mind...I can hardly reign them in.  So much thinking, my brain hurts.  Do you ever feel like that?

Some of my questions today (in no order whatsoever):

*  why didn't I notice that my "1000 gifts" notebook had left my bedside for a whole week?
*  why did I completely forget about listing my gifts each night?
*  will I be able to recruit all of the key people I need for VBS?  can I turn back time and do that yesterday?
*  will Bubba be able to shake off the teasing he got at soccer practice tonight?
*  should I be concerned that my daughter is reciting, word-for-word, the willy wonka movie?
*  will I ever catch up on laundry?
*  do I really like the purple nailpolish on my toes?
*  what theme should the children's area at church have?
*  will an all-natural or gluten-free diet help with the depression members of my family struggle with?
*  how will we survive without convenience foods if we change diets?  (yikes!)
*  how can we help Bubba easily make a revolutionary war scene diorama?
*  what should I get Pickle for her birthday?  when do I have time to shop?
*  will anyone notice I didn't do my 1000 gifts post today?

Any questions spinning through your mind today??  Feel free to share.  We can take a deep breath together and rest in the fact that we don't need to have all the answers right now...

Friday, April 9, 2010

my portion and my cup

Boy, the Fridays come quickly...and it's time for my weekly catch-up with the company girls.

Last Friday had me hurrying around on Good Friday, and this Friday finds me slowed way down--which also makes it a good Friday. {smile}  Not that I don't have a list of to dos--cause I do.  But I have hardly anything on the schedule and I can do everything at my own pace.

The week gone by was taxing due to watching my poor hubby suffer from back pain that sucked his breath away.  Easter was really, really bad for him.  Boo.  He has some degenerating disks in his back (apparently his back is quite a bit older that he is for some reason...) and the pain comes and goes.  When it comes and keeps coming, a pain shot is in order.  He had one on Monday morning.  We got quite discouraged when it didn't help that day, or the next (and my discouragement came through on my post Tuesday), but on Wednesday he was feeling a lot better.  We have been praying like crazy and still are...cause the doc says there is no cure, and this is his life now.  Double-triple-boo.

I finally feel like I've recovered from the Easter community event I led at church (it seemed to take a long while!) and am now feeling the energy to move forward and even dream a little at work.  Whew.  Needed to get back to this place in my head.

I read a good book this past week that was very encouraging.  I even posted a review of My Bangs Look Good and Other Lies I Tell Myself --a first for me.

We finished our Bible Study this week on the book of Esther (Beth Moore's study, have you done it??).  It was a really good study--all about the way God turns things around in our life, about destiny, about His providence, about Big-G-Good for sure.  After yesterday's closing study, I am reflecting once again on a favorite verse from the Psalms:

Seeing the circumstances that come into my life, the wonderful ones as well as the hard ones, as an assignment from God is a good perspective for me to focus on.  There are parts of my life I wish I could change, and I can get discouraged.  But they are my portion, my God-given assignment--and He has made me secure in the midst of it all.  I get to grab the handle of that cup with peace.

Beth Moore said this towards the end of the study, and I want to encourage you with it:

"No matter what life--or Satan Himself--hands us, the favor God has on His children cause that "lot" to tumble out on the table in such a way that, instead of destruction, the child will discover her portion turned into destiny one trusting step at a time.  When all is said and done, she will see that the portion God assigned her was good."  

Now, go embrace your assignment today one trusting step at a time.  I will too.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

My Bangs Look Good...

I've enjoyed reading Susanna Aughtmon's blog, confessions of a tired supergirl for a while now.  When I heard of her new book, "My Bangs Look Good & Other Lies I Tell Myself,  I knew I wanted to read it.  I mean, the title itself is enough of a reason, don't you think?  (For the record, if I had bangs it would be a big honkin' lie to tell myself they looked good.  Just sayin'.)

Susanna writes with honesty, humor and a conversational style that makes me feel like we are friends chatting over a cup of coffee (or in my case, diet coke).   Don't be fooled though, her casual style doesn't mean her message is not transformational.

In My Bangs Look Good..., Susanna helps make us aware of the lies we unintentionally buy into as tired supergirls (I bet you are one, too).  When I first glanced over the table of contents and read the lies addressed, like  "God is disappointed in me", "God caused my problems", and "I can love people at my convenience, I must admit I thought--good ones, but I don't struggle with those.  Then I started reading.  And guess what?  As Susanna was transparent with the ways these lies impact her life, I saw myself.  Because the Liar presents those lies as half-truths and sneaks them past my filter into the depths of my heart.  Stinkin' Liar.

The best part of Susanna's short chapters is that she counters each of these lies with the Truth from scripture.  And as the Truth sinks in--there is freedom and peace and joy.  Thank God we have Truth to combat the lies!

One of the first ways God spoke to me as I read My Bangs... was a heightened awareness that the Liar is lying to me all the time.  God quickly pointed out some things I was believing about a situation in my life that were not true.  I countered by journaling all that is True about the situation.  It stopped the Liar in his tracks.  Thanks, Susanna!

I read the book quickly--it's an easy, enjoyable read.  However, if you ask me (which I realize you didn't) I'd suggest you read each chapter slowly, one-at-a-time, and ask God to show you where you might have bought into the tales of the Liar.  And then let the Truth sink in.  Deep.  I think I may go back and do just that.

Happy reading, bloggies!

My Bangs Look Good and Other Lies I Tell Myself is available now at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.  Includes questions for individual or group study.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

finding the gift today

It's Tuesday.  On Tuesdays I unwrap an everyday gift along with Emily at chatting at the sky.

Lately life has been a push.  Lots of busyness going on.  My energy has been low.  My husband's back pain has been oppressive--we all hate seeing him in so much pain, and we miss having the "normal him" around.  I've been doing more taxiing of everyone, since he is unable.  I'm very behind on laundry.  Forgot to check Bubba's school papers and his teacher had to send second notices on several things, and some homework was late.  ugh.  Never was able to find Pickle a new shirt to wear to her band contest today--so she is off in one that is fairly uncomfortable.  And she had to dry it herself.  And I'm thinking grocery shopping would be a good idea... I could go on and on.

(As I am writing this my hubby has come through the door, home from his attempt to brave the pain and go to work.  He never made it there.  He is so discouraged.  We were hopeful the pain shot he got yesterday was going to help by now.  poop.)

Where is the gift to unwrap today?  

All that comes to my mind is Philippians 4:13:  "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."  This is a verse that is familiar to me, to many.  I'm (can I say this?) almost bored with it--it sounds like a pat answer I rattle off to myself.  Yet, I have relied on it's promise when facing big challenges.  And it's been proven true.  Strength that could only come from God has amazed me during very dark days.

But God has been reminding me lately that the same promise applies to the everyday challenges as well.  His strength allows me to go on in the midst of the everyday--the laundry, the tasks, the insensitive words, the tired, the little challenges, the wondering when things will change.

Through Christ, I can be both parents while my hubby is struggling.  Through Christ, I can serve him in his pain.  Through Christ, I can feed my family.  Through Christ, I can peel myself off the couch at night after homework and clean up.  Through Christ I can face each day with enough strength to look beyond myself and my family and to give at my job and to others.  Through Christ.

I don't have a major mountain to climb today, just lots and lots of little hills.  And through Christ I will have the strength.  That is my gift today.  I'm leaning hard on Him. In the little things too.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Thankful Monday.

holy experience

I am continuing to work my way to documenting 1000 gifts and sharing some of them with you on Mondays.

253.  12 baptisms.  We had the joy of celebrating baptism with 12 kids and adults at our church on Palm Sunday.  I get to teach the baptism class, and hear their stories, and it brings me great joy when I see them taking this step in their faith.  My favorite part of all the testimonies was when one little guy (pictured below) said he is "tight with God" and that "every time he prays his relationship with God gets bigger and bigger".  Music to this Children's Ministries Director's ears.

255. Laughing 'til you cry.  That's what my mom and sisters do when we get together.  When my sister Kim visited last weekend there was much laughing and several times it turned to the inevitable tears.  Cracks me up.  I'd post a picture, but it's not pretty.

265.  Hearing from God.  He has been talking to me, encouraging me, in the midst of some discouragement.  I am always amazed when He uses a Bible Study curriculum or book written for many and says something directly to my individual heart.  Isn't God cool?

269.  It's a GIRL!!! (no, I'm not pregnant--yikes!).  My sister Kerry (who you may remember lost her sweet Sadie a year ago) just found out that the child she is carrying is a little girl!  We are ecstatic that it's a she and that she looks great.  Can't wait to hold her.

270.  Good Friday service...taking time to focus on the work Jesus did on the Cross.  My hubby and three other guys from small group sang a beautiful song from Isaiah 53.  I was so proud of them...they sounded awesome.  We all confessed our sin by writing on red slips of paper that we all took turns nailing to cross as we went to communion.  The sound of the nails echoed through the room...over and over again.  And the cross ended up covered in red...

277.  Coloring eggs with my kids and my 3 year old nephew who was trying it for the first time.  He loved it, and it was fun to have the little guy with us so we could see it all through his eyes.

What are you thanking God for this week?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?  
1 Corinthians 15:55

Rejoicing in Jesus' victory over death!
Have a blessed Easter!

Friday, April 2, 2010

I found them!

I found them!  They aren't always as easy to find as they used to be.  I'm talking about Brach's Classic Jelly Beans (BCJBs).  BCJBs are the only real Easter jelly beans, bloggies.  Their classic colors and flavors are the taste of Easter.  They were always in our Easter baskets as kids...I could smell them in the house when I woke up on Easter morning!  Do you know that fruity, sugary smell?  And just when you thought your Easter candy was could always find a few more hidden in the plastic easter grass...yes, the childhood beginnings of my fruity candy fondness.

You can keep your starburst jbs, your jolly rancher jbs, your sour jbs, and all other sorts of counterfeit beans.  They just aren't the real deal.  I've tried them...and they just don't cut it.  And don't grab a Brach's package too quickly or you might grab the spiced beans--those look the same and then they taste like clove or something.  Blech.

It's straight up BCJBs for me.  (although I do enjoy a jelly belly when it's not Easter...)

But I can't always find those elusive BCJBs.  Walmart and Target and various grocery stores load up on the specialty beans...and there is nary a Brach's bag to be found!  If I was looking for gummy spongebob crabby patties I would have been in luck today, by the way.  yuck!

But today, on the non-seasonal candy aisle, on the bottom shelf, I spotted a Brach's box.  Be still my heart!  I approached cautiously, trying not to get my hopes up.  I saw speckled Brach's--nope.  Bags of all black Brach's--nope.  Dig, dig, dig...and on the bottom, lo and behold were three bags of BCJBs!!!  I snatched them up.

Yes, it's going to be a good Easter...

And by the way, lest you think I'm headed to hell for writing about jelly beans on Good Friday...I assure you that I have reflected, attended service, and now am about to watch the Passion of the Christ.  What Jesus did for me is SO overwhelming.  That's why it will be Sunday before I can imagine eating the BCJBs.  What a celebration that will be!  :0)

I wish I didn't have to hurry...

photo: Brian Peterson

It's Good Friday.  

The busyness of the last few weeks have left me feeling a little depleted.  I usually bounce back from a busy season with the fervor of someone free from the weight of responsibility--excited for time to pursue other things.  I've been dragging though...  Is this age?  Could getting older slow the bounce-back process? Ohno!  Maybe it's just that there have been things to deal with this week too.  My hubby's back pain has been unmanageable again (poor guy) and I've done a few days of both of our shares of running around.  There has been some emotional stuff for me to carry as well (nothing big, just wearying).  

So.  Today has arrived.  Good Friday.  Two days before Easter.  I've done nothing to prepare for Easter.  There are baskets to fill, outfits to figure out, eggs to boil and color.  I wish my house was properly decorated (somehow I never got to that this year).  I love to celebrate Jesus' resurrection and the new life He gives us with gusto.  It's a big day.

So I need to hurry--so much to do!  However, in all of my plans to hurry, there is a part of me that wants to, NEEDS to, reflect on Christ's work on the cross.  I reflected some on the Garden the other day--cause it is particularly meaningful for me.  Today is a day to reflect on the cross.  I planned to do this to the kids' hands this morning...but Pickle left for school before I remembered.  (I'm gonna do it when she comes home though--and Bubba is off so I can still do it with him this morning).

I read an excerpt from the Ragman on my friend's blog this morning...I highly encourage you to pop over there and a take a few reflective moments to read it.

What is going through my mind are these words from a song, 

"Behold the man upon the cross 
My sin upon His shoulder
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished" 

by Stuart Townsend--you can find lyrics to the whole song here.

I need to hurry today.  I haven't yet, but I'm about to.  That's just life.  So I pray that these words continue to echo through my mind as I go about preparing for the celebration of Easter.  That they stay with me until our Good Friday service tonight.  I don't want to give in to the temptation to fast forward to Easter...I want to bask in the price paid for me.  Good Friday is the ultimate example of Big-G-Good.

I am linking up with the Company Girls today...and wish you all a very Blessed Easter!

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