Friday, December 31, 2010

Reflect, Resolve, Rejoice, Receive

This year...Wow, it is just hours from being over.  Where, oh where does time go.  Sometimes I think we spend half of our lives wishing it away.  Waiting for tomorrow...hoping it brings better things. Longing for this day or that day to be over.  Waiting for the weekend or vacation or holidays. So much so that we sometimes miss time as it swoops in and flies right on by.
Well, I for one wish that this time machine we are traveling in at warp speed had a brake on it so that it would just slow down.  I do not know that I am ready for 2011 and all that it will hold.  It shatters my soul to think that I have not held my son in over ten months. It really does encourage me to think that as each day passes, I am one day closer to holding him again.
It is mind boggling to think that in five days I will be 37 years less than two months we will celebrate Eli's one year in a little over three months I will be holding a new baby...different six months my hubbie and I will celebrate 14 years of marriage and 15 years of knowing and loving (it was pretty much love at first sight!) just over eight months my oldest baby will be 10 years old.
As utterly crazy as it might sound,  2010 brought with it many, many blessings to couple with the heartaches.  I got to be a part of and hold a miracle. I will always look on Eli's birthday and home going with a particular fondness that is beyond comprehension.  I have been given a new and completely different outlook on life and others.  I got to know the generosity and kind spirit of people and made many new friends. My second child made a personal decision to accept Christ into his heart.  I learned a great many lessons this past year that I will carry with me in my life to come. 
But most and greatest of all I leaned more about mercy, grace, and love from a very patient God in this last year than in all of my 36 others combined.  I developed a comfortable enough relationship with God that I was able to go to him in my darkest of hours and brightest of hours.  I might not have been able to verbalize to him every time, but He knew my silence for what it was...a shattered heart.  I rejoice in the Lord and praise him for giving and taking away and folks...I have no idea how that is possible except through Him. 

2011, who knows what it will hold...We just have to trust that God will give us our just portions...whatever that may be.  I pray with all of my heart that He will allow me to deliver my fifth child health and keep my others healthy as well. He hears our prayers you know?  I do not make resolutions for the new year.  I think that is kind of pointless, truth be told.  I do reflect on the previous year and try to change things that are within my control, things that I know I can do better. I know I will be carrying a heaviness into 2011 with me that I think I will never be rid of.  You know what though,  I think we all will to a certain degree.  We all have our crosses to bear in a sense. 
Let me just be candid with you for a moment.  I do have one wish for 2011 that I wish for beyond any other.  I wish with all of my heart and soul for anyone who reads this blog that does not have a personal relationship with God to come to know Him.  When I get to Heaven, whether it be before the Lord comes to take us home or when He comes, I want to one day see ALL of your faces and embrace each and everyone of you as brothers and sisters in Christ. Salvation or acceptance of God is a gift He offers us.  It does not cost anything.  If our lives meant so much to God that He could allow His Son to suffer and die on a cross for us, then how could we deny Him our life and love? It is as simple as earnestly saying to God, "Lord, I want to be saved by Your grace and mercy and be a new person in you.  I want you to live in my heart and make me more like you. I open my heart and life for you to do as you please." That's it.  That's all it requires.  There is nothing else we can do to get to Heaven.  We just have to accept Him and when we do, He will do the rest. 
I can promise you this...If God had not been available to me this last year, I would be in despair.  I am not in despair. I have hope...My family has hope.  We do not grieve as those without hope.  My hope is in Jesus Christ.  Where is yours?
Make 2011 the best year yet and allow God to have His way in all that we do.  Pray without ceasing and please know that I love each and every one of you and wish you the best.
Happy New Year!

Much love,

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tragedy and Triumph

Christmas is a time when we remember Jesus who was born in a manger and died on the cross. It is a time when we come together as families and celebrate this special occasion. Today, I am feeling very reflective. The last week in this small town I live in has been filled with so much tragedy and triumph.

One week ago yesterday, a student whom I taught three years ago was tragically killed in an accident on the way to school. She along with her two cousins were traveling on icy roads and were involved in an accident. Two of the three were killed and it really has this town reeling. Brooke was the student I taught and she was such a delightful young lady, although, I'm not sure she would like me saying that. Brooke was a no nonsense kinda girl.  I thought she was great! She certainly did not take anything off of anyone and wouldn't allow people to mess with others either. She was just the kind of girl I would have wanted on my side when I was younger. She will be greatly missed. She is greatly missed.

Today, I found out that a student I taught last year has been very sick.  He had some sort of virus that attacked his heart and damaged it beyond repair. Can you guess what Spencer and his family were praying to receive for Christmas.  You got it, a heart.  Spencer got his heart today! He received a transplant that saved his life. It makes me sad to think that some one's family is dealing with a loss in order for Spencer to get his new heart, but I am so very glad Spencer got his heart. Spencer was in my sixth period last year and I really liked him.  He was quiet (for the most part) and just a good kid. I had no idea he had been sick until someone told me yesterday that a heart had been found for him. What a wonderful Christmas his family will have this year!!

It seems like so many are faced with challenges this Christmas. Sometimes I feel like going to sleep and waking up when it is all over and other times I feel hopeful that we will have a good Christmas. My emotions are so mixed up this year.  Last year, we had Eli, even though we knew he wouldn't be staying long. This year he is not here. It has been a very tough year and as it comes to a close, I am hesitant to see it end.  I know that is crazy.  It just feels like I am moving away from him each and every day. The end of the year brings a sense of finality with it.
As you hustle around this Christmas please remember to pray for Brooke's family and her cousin's family as well. Also please remember Spencer and his family.  Please pray that his recovery is easy and without problems.

It is my prayer that each of you have a Merry Christmas!
Much love,

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Favorite

If I had to choose a favorite part of the bible, it would most definitely be the birth of Jesus. The Christmas story is so beautiful but filled with drama and heartache. Mary, a mere child, was given the honor of carrying and giving birth to Jesus. Even at such a tender age, Mary knew what an honor and how much heartache this would be.  Mary praised God for giving her this gift. I would imagine that Mary quickly became an outcast in society, at least among those that thought "Yea, right immaculate conception..." Could you imagine a young teenage girl telling you that she was pregnant having never known a man? We would not be quick to believe something like that. I'll tell ya, Herod was sure scared of this little baby. He sent his "people" looking for Jesus.  It was his intention to kill this baby that came as the Messiah. Yep, he actually ordered all of the babies two and under in Bethlehem killed. What he didn't know is well...Joseph and Mary had God directing their path. An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph with a message to get Jesus to Egypt and stay there until Herod was dead. Joseph did as he was instructed and Jesus was kept safe. He was kept safe as a child, but as an adult He was crucified.  It was all part of the plan and Mary knew this. She knew her son was not meant to live on earth, physically that is, but for a short time. She knew He would suffer and die.  She was not bitter.  She embraced the honor bestowed upon her.
Quite frankly, Mary is my hero. There is so much to glean from this teenager turned mother, mother of Jesus that is. Grace, determination, endurance...these are just a few character traits that come to mind. I wish for just a fraction of Mary's grace.  She could have chosen to be bitter about her situation. She could have chosen to say, "Why did you choose me for this God?" She didn't and God knew she wouldn't. That is why He chose her. Mary was determined to protect Jesus as a child. She was determined to raise him just as God instructed her to. God knew she would.  That is why He chose her. God knew that Mary had the stamina to endure the hardships and ridicule she would face being the mother of Jesus.  He wouldn't have chosen her otherwise. I look forward to meeting this special lady one day. I do not know what I will say to her, but I know the words will come when I get to heaven.

I'll leave you tonight with a few pictures. I decided to spend part of our homeschool days last week working on a project.  We made a block Nativity.  It was lots of fun and the kiddos really got excited about finishing their work so we could get busy working on it each day. I got the idea from The Pioneer Woman's homeschool blog. It was lots of fun for everyone. I'm also posting a picture of the Christmas stockings I made for my kiddos. I was really excited about how they turned out. Each of my five children have a stocking. I never thought that I would be hanging five stockings for my children and I certainly never thought I would not get to fill one...

Much love,

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

For him...

I saw the cutest little boy Christmas outfits and wanted to buy one...
I wanted to make a blue minky dot blanket to wrap him in...
Would he be scared of sitting on Santa's knee...
What would we tell Santa he wanted from him...

Instead of buying a Christmas outfit, we bought ornaments.
Instead of making him a blanket, I made him a stocking to hang and remember him by.
Instead of sitting on Santa's knee, he gets to sit on the knee of Jesus... He's not at all scared.
Instead of Christmas goodies under the tree, he has his own tree and all of his goodies are memorial items.

Sometimes it's just not enough...
I miss him...

The name of the song in the slide show is "Hug Him Once for Me".  It was written and sung by the friend of a friend who also lost a son. The singers name is Erica McClure.

Merry Christmas to ALL!

Much love,

Monday, December 6, 2010

He's Able

Can God be removed from society?  This is a post that has been on my mind and heart for a while.  I taught in a public school setting for twelve years.  For the twelve years I was teaching, people would warn me...don't pray out loud...don't refer to God in your teaching...don't let them know you are a follower of Christ. Preachers stand in the pulpit and preach about how God is being taken out of this country. Older people lament about how it is so different than it was when they growing up and to tell you the truth, there are some differences.  There are people who would like to remove God from this life.  I am not foolish enough the think otherwise. I do, however, have a different perspective about this than others. I think there are a lot of people, preachers included, who do not realize what a omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent God we serve. I think as long as there are followers of Christ who are willing to be a vessel, He will always be where He is needed.
This is where this blog post gets tough for me. I have been back and forth about writing this blog and how to write it. I had decide not to write it but here I am...

When storms arise in a believers life, who do they typically turn to?  Without hesitation, I answer God, their pastor, church, family, and friends. I fully believe that God uses others to help us when we are walking through these storms. Sometimes, He uses people you would least expect and chooses not to use those we most expect. If I have one source of bitterness through our journey with Eli, it would be with  the preacher at the church we attend.  I have attended this church since I was young and the pastor who was once there, never failed to shepherd his flock.  I feel like that is part of the calling of a minister to those in need. With a different pastor now it is not the same.  Like I said, this is my one and only sources of bitterness and I have allowed it to fester somewhat.  Let me just say that there is a distinct difference in a pastor and a church.  My church family is amazing.  The people in the church I attend are kind, giving, supportive, and so, so very the epitome of Christ likeness. The Lord has used my church family in an amazing way. Several of them came and just sat with Jamie and me at the hospital, came to our house, brought food, lent and ear or an encouraging word, offered advice, brought groceries...the list just goes on and on.  From the beginning, my "pastor"  was absent and unavailable for my family. Sure, he did his duty and left and cake on our front porch along with a phone message to let us know it was there. Then, he did attempt to visit with us at about 7:30 one evening, but I had my jammies on and stayed in my bedroom.  The visit lasted about 5 minutes. And folks....that's pretty much it.  The night Eli was born and died, he showed up at the hospital at around 9:00 or so and stayed (across the room) for about 15 very awkward and quiet minutes, said a literal three sentence and very insincere prayer, and left. The week after Eli died he and his family visited our house once again briefly to deliver food (which I am thankful for) and visit for another few minutes. I never once felt shepherded by this man and I'm pretty sure I can speak for Jamie that he did not either.

Here is where this post gets easier.  Despite the lack of "pastoring" my family received during this time God provided in other places and ways. My uncle David, who is a pastor in another town, ministered to us and was there.  He held Eli and loved him.  It did not matter that it was just the body of a baby who was gone. He guided us through a process we were unfamiliar and uncomfortable with. He traveled from well over and hour and a half away and was there for us. He is who we chose to deliver the sermon and lead Eli's service.  I am so thankful for him. My cousin Beverly...she has been there every step of the way. She did all of the music for Eli's service. She is still there... My family has been amazing, both on my side and Jamie's. There have just been so many people that God has used to minister to us.

Perhaps the most unusual group that God gave us was my work.  I have blogged before about the prayer warriors that I worked with. These people, this group of people are what gives me peace that God will never be removed from public school or any other public place where He wants to be. Folks, I worked at a public school, the one place where people say that God has been removed, and these people, this place, ministered to me more than my own pastor. God has the power to use ALL sorts of people and places to do His work.
All of these people were not fundamental, independent Baptist, like the church I attend. We are not all the same gender, race, or political party.  The common thread we share is that we are followers of Christ. God took that common thread and wove a fabric that was tightly knit. I think if we allow Him to do this in any situation He will. It is just a matter of trusting that He will.  I never once doubted that God would provide for our needs spiritually after Eli's diagnosis and death. When I think about the people that I worked with, it really does not surprise me that He chose to use them.  You know, not only did He use the people I was currently working with, He also used people I had taught with at my previous school.

God is huge! He can and will be where He wants to be. Trust and have faith that the God we serve is able!

Much love,

Friday, December 3, 2010

90 Percent Chance of a storm...

This week marks a year in the beginning of one of the darkest periods of my life. Tuesday was one year ago that we found out our son had Potter's Syndrome. This past week has been tough for us. Thursday marked a year from the date a doctor looked at us and said, "There is still time to terminate this pregnancy." I am so thankful that was never an option for Jamie and I. I am so thankful for the thirty-two weeks we were given with Eli. Yes, it was difficult carrying a baby that I knew was going to die, but in many ways it was the most special thing I have ever done. You know, Jamie and I never once thought about releasing Eli from the womb before God was ready for him to be. God had placed him there and that was good enough for us. I think back to that conversation with the specialist that suggested we terminate.  That was an immediate and automatic response for him after he performed our ultrasound. He told us that our son had a less than 10% chance of surviving outside of my womb. He looked at those odds and said, "There is a 90% chance that this baby will die anyway so why carry him?"  I looked at those odds and said, "God can and will if He chooses.  How could I deny Him the chance to show us a miracle?" Even if that doctor had told us that Eli had a zero percent chance of surviving, we would have chosen to carry him.  We were able to make memories with Eli that are priceless.  We were able to enjoy the little things that I took for granted in other pregnancies. Honestly, I think had we chosen to terminate, our grief would be much greater than it is. I do not know if we would ever have had the peace that we do now. The memories of those days after Eli was diagnosed is still so fresh.  For those of you have been following Eli's story, you know how special storms are to us and well...Tuesday, it stormed! It was so fitting. 

Missing my boy so much tonight...
Much love,