My Mother’s Ring (Updated to add my new wedding ring and some better pics!)

Tim bought my first mother’s ring for me the Christmas after we said goodbye to our only daughters, Faith and Grace. I wanted a piece of jewelry that signified all my children: Timothy and our girls…a January and two Novembers.
Less than two years later, I walked into the jewelry store beside my friend, Ginny. The lady behind the counter was a girl that we went to school with. She knew we had lost our baby girls, and responded with joy that I was there to add another stone to my ring. Assuming that our house was filled with joy, not grief. Assuming that a baby had come to fill my empty arms, she smiled and said,
“Congratulations.”
I couldn’t speak. I shook my head no, and turned as the tears spilled from my eyes, running from the store. Ginny stayed and told her about our Thomas, who was born in July and lived on this earth for six hours. We would need a ruby added to my ring. The girl’s faced turned pale and she apologized profusely.
Now there were four.
I never thought there would be a fifth stone to add.
But, years later…
an unexpected miracle brought me back to the jewelry store.
It was time to add a May stone for the miracle that stayed and filled our house with his zest for life…sweet baby James.
This time, my friend no longer worked at the store and the people behind the counter said they couldn’t add a stone to my ring. It was bent a little and thin from being worn. I began to tell them the story. I didn’t expect tears that day, but the tears came when they said all they could do was offer me another ring…one that cost more than twice as much as the one I had.
So, for several years, there was no ring complete with the birthstones of my children.
Then, finally on a special occasion I can’t remember, Tim and I replaced the ring on a shopping trip. Only, I lost it a few months later before a golf event.
More years passed…and I lamented over the ring that wasn’t.
My mother went home to heaven, joining her grandbabies and leaving her mother’s ring to her only daughter.
I have been considering for the past four years putting my babies’ birthstones on my mom’s mother’s ring. But, there always seems to be another expense or more pressing need.
Recently, though, my engagement ring broke and I needed some other work done at the jeweler. So, I chose a local store called the Diamond and Gold Outlet. You can bring them your old, broken, used gold pieces you don’t want and they will count the value toward your purchase. So, I had them put the stones representing my five children: (two on earth, three in heaven) on my mother’s mother’s ring, making it my own.
Not only does the ring represent my children, but also my mother.
I feel so blessed to have this precious, perfect gift on my finger representing those most dear to me.
And, an added blessing: The total cost with all the work I was getting done, including a new wedding ring,  was going to be $273.
With my gold jewelry trade-in, it only cost me: $18 !!!
I tried to take a picture, but my camera is not great and the flash lit up the ring too much. So, it’s hard to see what it looks like. The important thing is that it’s on my finger, complete with five precious stones, representing five precious lives. I love it…and I’m so grateful.

My Wedding Ring

O.K….so a couple people have asked me about my wedding ring. I had a small diamond solitaire on  a thin gold band that Tim gave me when he was just seventeen (the current age of our son…YIKES!). It was modest, but special because he gave it to me. I tend to wear more silver jewelry (or white gold), but I didn’t give a lot of thought to ever changing the rings. They were the ones he gave me when we were married, and I don’t require a lot of fanciness. Besides, a big old ring would just get in my way!

But when my engagement ring broke recently, I gave some thought to my mother’s white gold engagement ring that she had left to me when she passed. I thought if I was going to have to invest in fixing my ring anyway, maybe I would just wear her ring, and get a white gold band to match. I’m a sentimental gal, so I wasn’t sure how I felt about wearing a wedding set that wasn’t from Tim. But, after talking to him, I felt better. It’s just stuff, after all. A ring doesn’t make a marriage…that’s for sure! And, he was happy for me to have something pretty and new. I chose a white gold wedding band, and the jeweler put a finish on it to match mom’s engagement ring.

What did I do with the diamond Tim had given me when he asked me to marry him?

Well the same jeweler who gave me such a great deal is creating a necklace using a heart pendant from one of my mother’s necklaces and putting my engagement diamond in the middle of it. That way, it will always be close to my heart. =) I’ll show a picture when it’s finished. And, I still have my little gold band that Tim placed on my finger seventeen years ago. I will wear it with my mom’s set from time to time. I’m not much for following the rules. Mixing gold and silver…that’s just how I roll! =)

Both pieces are very special to me…and they encompass all of the people on this earth (and some in heaven) that mean the most to me: Tim, my children, and my mother.
What precious, simple gifts. They are just right. Like my mother, I’d much rather have something that’s precious to me than something fancy and expensive.
Treasures in heaven are the ones that matter most, but I’m sure grateful for these sweet reminders on earth as well.

Speechless

I opened an email from Maryline containing this picture…
Breathless, speechless, in tears, and in awe…
Of the woman across the ocean who created such beauty from my heart, with her hands…
Overwhelmed with the swelling of the ache of my heart…
The ache for little girls in pretty dresses with long brown hair, dancing free…
And, overwhelmed with the love of a God who would guide the very hands of a beautiful woman across the ocean, sending me a picture from heaven…the picture that has lived in my heart all these years.
A picture I now see with my eyes…
The promise that one day…I will see them in person, join them in heaven’s meadow dance, let the music of my laughter join with theirs.
There are no words to express what this gift means to our family.
Thank you, Maryline. God bless you.
And, thank you to the God who always sees…

Running in Heaven’s Meadows, Our Anniversary, and Some Reminders

When I think of my baby girls in heaven, I have always imagined them at about the 5-8 age range, with long brown hair falling in waves down their backs and ribbons weaving through their curls. In my mind, they are running through meadows, hands clasped, giggling and swinging on swings hanging from trees, full of life and joy. Complete.
It has been that way, since the day we said good-bye to Faith and Grace. That is the image in my mind. I picture Thomas sometimes as a baby and sometimes as a young boy, but more often as a baby. But, for Faith and Grace, it has always been the meadow.
Running free, hair flowing.
Maybe because they are my girls, daughters of my heart, born of my womb. And, I long for freedom…long to taste it’s sweetness and dance in the breeze. Maybe, because I love to inhale the scent of summer with the sun shining on my face. I long to be in that place of perfect freedom, the light of Jesus shining on my face, basking in the glory of heaven’s meadows. And, my sweet daughters are there, along with two of the most influential women in my life, my mother and Dinah.
I don’t know if you know Maryline. But, she is amazing. The above picture is one she drew of my girls with hands clasped, hair blowing free, standing in the meadow. So beautiful. I am so grateful for this precious gift.

—————-

Today is our 17th wedding anniversary. Walking through life with this man has been one of the greatest gifts I’ve experienced. Even greater has been to watch him come to know the Lord, and grow into not only a wonderful husband and father, but a man of God…humble and strong. The unfolding of his faith will always be one of my favorite miracles. If anyone wonders if God still performs miracles, I have a house full of them. They all play guitar and golf and make messes, and make me laugh, and they proclaim the name of Jesus…each in their own unique manly, boyish, simple way. A way that often astounds and humbles me….a way very different than the way I proclaim His name…but a way full of truth and beauty…a way that would make the common man stop and listen…and believe…an easy way that just fits into life. While we are far from perfect, and our marriage has been riddled with many storms, Tim is a man, easy to honor…training young men to be the same. And, he is a man who values friendship and family, strong and rugged…but soft-hearted and sentimental at the same time. Life with him is a precious gift, and I thank God everyday for this marriage that He has rescued and restored with more beauty than I could have ever imagined. Beauty born from much ugly. My favorite kind…for that is the stuff of miracles.

We celebrated last night at one of our favorite restaurants (because they give you heavenly bread…and an unlimited supply of it!), Texas Roadhouse.

And… on a completely unrelated note…

Today, James and I are going to see the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid and we are super-psyched! I have learned to love books that get my boys reading. Meet them where they are…that’s what this veteran mom says! (I think Dinah would like that saying, don’t you?)
—————————–

Made to Crave

O.K….just wanted to give everyone a quick reminder that we are starting the Made to Crave Study this Monday. Get your books and read the Intro and Chapter One…and please be ready to discuss and encourage one another in the comments and Blog Frog. I think it will be really important to share and be accountable to each other as we seek to lay down some of the stuff we’ve been holding on to and learn to go to God for comfort instead. So far, I am loving what this book is saying…and really looking forward to reading with you! It’s not too late to join in. If you are someone who goes to food…or anything…instead of going to God to satisfy your cravings, this study could be a real encouragement to you.

—————————-

Sufficient Grace Online Auction

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but our way-awesome friend and SGM board member, Holly Haas, is having an online auction to benefit Sufficient Grace. Items are being added to the list daily as people have been stepping up to donate for the auction. If you would like to join in with a donation, it’s not too late. Also, help us spread the word. We would love to see many people attend to place bids and join in the fun! You can get a cute item…and support a wonderful cause! You can find more information about the auction taking place on April 6-8  here…and view items on the Caring for Carleigh facebook page, where bids can be placed on those days. Holly has a goal to raise more than $1,000 for Sufficient Grace. Will you help us? Please pray for her efforts and join in if you’re able!

Fourteen…My Sweet Girls…

It has been fourteen years since I held you both…one in each arm…with your daddy on one side of me, and your Grandma Kathy nearby. Fourteen years since I sang Amazing Grace while gazing through tears at your sweet little faces, a silent snow falling outside the window.

Dark eyes like your daddy and brothers…

God honored my request that all of my babies would have their daddy’s beautiful brown eyes…

Tiny little noses, just like daddy and brothers…

A little hint of mommy around your tiny mouths…

There would have been two of everything…

Sweet Faith, you may have added piano music to our melody with your long, slender fingers.

And dear Grace, I imagine you would have belted out words of praise beside your mama. For some reason, in my mind, I picture that your feisty spirit would ensure that your voice would always be heard.

But, those are my dreams.

Who knows if that’s the way it would be at all. If there is one thing I’ve learned about being a mother for the past sixteen years, it’s that children are their own people, not put on this earth to fulfill our dreams. They each have their own purpose, their own free will, their own heart’s desires, their own dreams to fulfill. I always worried if I would know how to parent a daughter…much less two little girls. For some reason, the Lord has seen fit to surround me with boy world. I love boy world, and appreciate all the gifts that go with it…well most of them. But, I long for my little girls, who wouldn’t be so little anymore.

Maybe you would have pink golf clubs right along side mine. Maybe you would take the stage and play the part. Maybe you would sing a song of worship, or write heart-stopping prose. I wonder how you would have changed the world if you were here. Then I remember, how much you already have done to make a difference in this world. Two tiny girls, who never took a breath on this earth. I wonder…do you know how many people know your names? Do you know how many grieving hearts have found comfort because you lived?

Most likely we would argue over time limits in the one bathroom in our tiny house, the length of your skirts, the angst over all things teenage-girl. I can only dream of what a mother’s heart still longs for…but I know in reality, life would be imperfect.

Still,  I long for you both. I long for my mama-heart dreams…and for the reality of imperfection. I long to hold you. Although if you are like your older brother, you’d have none of that by this time.

Happy Fourteenth Birthday, my beautiful girls. We love you. We miss you. We are grateful for every gift your lives have given to us…and for every dream that still fills our hearts for you. Hug your Grandma and Thomas and tell them we love them.

Keep dancing your beautiful dance. I’ll keep trying to stumble through mine. One day, I’ll be dancing with you.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God…
Ephesians 2:8

Guess the Mystery Blogger and Win – Women of Faith Tote Giveaway

The Women of Faith conference was amazing! I took extensive notes and cannot wait to share all about it. But, I need to hang out with my people. I thought I’d give you a little teaser…just a couple pics and a little guessing game.

Becki and I were so excited as we were getting ready to leave on our little adventure Friday morning…

After meeting with four hospitals in the Columbus area, having a lovely conversation with Claire at Mount Carmel West, and leaving brochures and Dreams of You Memory Books with each, we met up with Holly and her sweet cousin Amber to eat some heavenly cheesecake at….

(Cue Hallelujah Chorus…)

Yes..yes, we did take pictures of our cheesecake…such bloggers!

We loved this cool telephone booth in the middle of Easton..

.

It was a little windy, though…

O.K….I know that you’re wondering about Women of Faith, and many are wanting to know about Mary Beth and Stephen Curtis Chapman. I took extensive notes and can’t wait to share them with you. It was amazing and just such a privilege to be there the first time she shared her journey on the Women of Faith stage. I promise to blog about all of it, soon.

But, first a little guessing game with a prize for the winner!!!

If you would like to win this adorable tote….

…filled with these goodies from the Women of Faith conference…

Then guess the mystery blogger who met us on Saturday to attend the Women of Faith conference…

(Those of you who were there and know the answer are not allowed to participate…and you know who you are!)

Leave your guess in the comments below….first to guess correctly wins the tote full of encouraging goodies!

Beauty in the Fall

Because there IS beauty in the fall

Because their names are written into the story of our lives…

Because we see their names in every reflection of beauty on this earth…

Because their names are etched in our hearts forever…

Because their names were written in the Book of Life…

Thank you, Holly, my beautiful friend…one whose compassion and beauty shines through both in the falling and the dancing…thank you for writing their names…

Birthday Girls

Thirteen years ago today, on the first snowfall of the year, two precious souls made their brief appearance on this earth. Two little girls, my only daughters, filled my arms for but a moment on that snowy November afternoon. Sometimes I think about what it might be like if they were here. I would have three teenagers filling our little house. Oh my! There would be a plethora of accessories the likes of which I have never known as the mama of boys. We would definitely not survive with only one bathroom as we do now!

There would be dances and dresses, giggling and soul-searching heart-to-hearts. As the mother of teenagers, I know it wouldn’t always be smooth-sailing, and we would have so much to pray for protection from in this world of ours. But, on certain days, I notice what’s missing in this land of boy world in which I live, this land that I dearly love.

I may look like a boy mama through and through. I may not know how to do little-girl hair. I may shout at football games and know whether a player sliding into home is safe or out during the baseball game. I may even express strong opinions about it if my son is playing. I may know how to get grass stains out of a white uniform way better than I could fasten a hair pretty or dress a Barbie. My purse may be filled with golf balls, tees, hot wheels cars and transformers. You may not see any evidence when you look at me, but I am still the mother of daughters. They just weren’t here long enough for me to learn how to do all of those girly things.

But…

They are waiting for me. And, we will have all of eternity for hair pretties and tea parties…soul-searching heart-to-hearts and deep belly giggles. We will do it all in a place where daddy will not have to worry about protecting his baby girls from harm, and I won’t have to stay awake at night praying that they will always walk with the Lord. They have walked with the Lord from the first moment of their lives. The have literally walked with Him on streets of gold. They walk with Him, even now…as I wait and dream my dreams of their long, brown wavy hair filled with pink ribbons. (I’m sure ribbons stay perfectly in heaven, and perhaps I will even have the expertise to fasten them just right…or maybe someone with the gift of “hair pretties” can help us out! Even better, hopefully we will have no need of hair pretties in heaven! =)

I recorded a little song (not sure the title or author of this song…just one that I’ve heard for years, and speaks of the longing for heaven – the longing to sit before His throne). I wanted to share it on Faith’s and Grace’s birthday, but the sound quality is, of course, below par (since it’s just on my little digital camera). Someday, we will get the recording studio built and I will be able to share better quality recordings, but for now…this was on my heart. It isn’t meant to show any singing expertise (obviously)…just a mama singing to her baby girls and a daughter singing to her Father.

I miss you, sweet girls. I love you and wish you a happy, happy heavenly birthday.