Ways to Create and Keep Memories With Your Baby ~ Before and After Goodbye

DSC_0214

Guest post by Andrea Soergel

                It is a naturally human thing to desire to be remembered.  In our quietest, deepest times of soul-searching, I think most of us would admit that we ponder what we have done that will leave a mark on this world.  What will be left for future generations to know that we existed?  That we were here, and we lived and loved and we meant something.  There are some things we can do to leave that lasting imprint.  First and foremost, if you’re a parent, you can raise children that are made to feel loved and secure.  We do our best to guide them and provide boundaries that will create adults who do THEIR part to have a positive impact.  If we don’t have any living children, we may do some kind of work that has lasting value, be it our actual job or volunteering.  We can all leave a positive impression on our world.

                So, what are we to do when our anticipated and much-loved child dies?  Where is their legacy?  Where is the chance for them to leave their touch on this life?  It lies with us.  The living, who loved them and nurtured them, whether it was only while in the womb, or for brief moments or days beyond.  We can carry their torch.  We can make sure their story doesn’t end with their physical exit from this earth.

                I was in this spot, and truthfully, feel that I will forever be in this spot, as long as the Lord allows me to be here.  Our son, Haven William, was diagnosed with anencephaly (a fatal neural tube defect) at twelve weeks into my pregnancy.  We were blessed with twenty weeks to enjoy with him, cherishing every little kick and hiccup.  He left us quietly at thirty-two weeks and was born still on February 13, 2004.  Our planning for honoring Haven began before his death and subsequent birth.  We have continued to keep him present in several different ways over the last twelve years.  I have also heard of a lot of really cool ways that other people are remembering and honoring their sweet babies, too. 

Before Birth:

                -Capturing your baby’s heartbeat.  One site (mybabysheartbeatbear.com) provides everything you need to record the heartbeat and place it inside a stuffed animal.  This is not the only place out there, of course, but you get the idea.  Doctor’s offices can often provide print outs of the heartbeat as well.  Some people even choose to then have this turned into a tattoo.  Of course, you can always just have the recording to treasure without doing anything fancy with it.

                -Paint your belly.  This one is fun for siblings to be involved with.  There isn’t a lot of prep work or cost involved~just get some paint, bare your belly, and go to town.  Of course, pictures to document are a necessity.  It is also a good chance to talk to your other children about what is happening with their baby brother or sister in a more light-hearted setting.  I also want to emphasize that, while this may be super fun for kids, you can have just as much fun doing this with you and your spouse or partner.

                -Make a belly cast.  This one obviously involves more prep work and cost, but can be a really meaningful remembrance to have.  Some people choose to have the casts painted and then display them in their home.  They are just as lovely unpainted and stand as a testament to the little life you carried.  The popularity of belly casts is growing and you can even buy kits at places like walmart.com and target.com, as well as many other places.

                -Maternity Photos.  This one is self-explanatory, but there are so many lovely ideas out there.  You can choose a place that is particularly meaningful or fun for you and your family and have photos done there or virtually anywhere.  I have seen beautiful portraits done in studios, as well as in the outdoors or their home.  Maternity photos are always meaningful, but even more so for a baby whose life is expected to be brief.  You can use a professional photographer or even just grab a friend and ask them to help out by snapping a few pictures.  You will be glad you did!

                -Celebrating the kicks.  Full disclosure here-this one is my favorite and it doesn’t require much explanation.  We loved having our other children and family feel Haven kicking away.  We enjoyed it immensely and it is something I will never forget.  One suggestion that I wish we had done was to record some of those sweet moments.

The birth day:

                -Photographs and more photographs.  Some people choose to have professional photographers there for the birth of their child and some prefer just to have family or to take the pictures themselves.  You can’t have this day to do over again, so make it what you want it to be.  Whatever direction you choose to go, you will never regret having a LOT of pictures.  Don’t forget the shots of different family members with baby, too.  My dad passed away two years after our son was born and I treasure the photos of him with Haven.

                -Footprints, Handprints, and molds.  You can purchase inexpensive mold kits in many different places.  Usually the hospital staff is very kind about helping you with the molds and prints.  Once you have them you can do different things with them.  We have Haven’s footprints framed on our wall and we also have a stamp that was made from one of his tiny, perfect feet.

*I have to take the opportunity to plug Sufficient Grace Ministries in this area.  The care they give to families and their babies is top-notch and they provide photographers as well as mold kits and supplies for hand and footprints. If you are in the state of Ohio, they will provide trained support doulas and remembrance photographers to walk with you and help capture precious memories of your time with your baby. They can also help perinatal hospice families with birth planning and offer online and teleconference consultations for families and birth professionals worldwide.

Beyond:

                This is the part that can be so daunting.  It can be easy to come up with ideas to honor our babies when we are right in the midst of the situation.  It is always present in our minds and hearts.  But, as time passes, it can take a little more effort to think of ways to keep our baby’s story going.  Of course, it is always right there in OUR hearts and minds.  It doesn’t go away.  There are some creative ways for your precious child’s memory to endure, even beyond the walls of your home.

                -Love letters in the sand.  I cannot take credit for coming up with this idea, but it has really been huge for us.  When our friends or family travel, they write Haven’s name in the sand, take a picture, and send it to us.  Sounds pretty simple, and it is, but I really can’t tell you how much it means to us.  When we first started doing this, about eight years ago, I wrote a post on Facebook asking anyone who was going on vacation that summer if they would write Haven’s name for us.  It has taken off in a way we never would have expected!  We don’t have to ask anymore and people have sent us pictures from all over the world.  At the time of this writing we have Haven’s name on four of the seven continents.  We hope to get all seven eventually! (Sidenote:  Know anyone in Antarctica??)  This is so easy and I think you will find that your friends and family are more than happy to do this for you.

                -Book drive.  When the year arrived that our son would have started kindergarten we felt like doing something a little bigger.  I am a book lover and so it seemed a natural fit that we would do a book drive for our school library.  We have two older children and we sent out letters to their classmates’ families, as well as to our family and friends, asking them if they would consider donating a book to the school library in Haven’s name.  It was very successful and we added over seventy amazing books to our collection.  They had their own special shelf and each book has a label that says, “This book was given in memory of Haven W. Soergel by the loving donation of family and friends.”  We also had friends and family who donated books to our church library, as well.  I know that any public library would also welcome a donation and they are happy to have labels inside with your baby’s name.  In a similar vein, for one of Haven’s birthdays we requested donations of the book A Gift of Time be given to Sufficient Grace Ministries in his name.  SGM puts a label in the book, which they send out to grieving families all over the world.

                -Random acts of kindness.  I really love this idea.  The idea behind this one is to ask people to do a “random act of kindness” in honor of your baby and then report back to you what they did.  This is such a great example of using your pain and loss to put beauty out there in the world.  An example of what this looks like can be found on the Facebook page, “Acts of Kindness for Manny’s Birthday”.  Stacey and her husband lost their son, Manny on August 7th, 8/7.  Their idea is to try to get at least 87 acts of kindness done in Manny’s name on his birthday.  How cool is that?  This could obviously be tweaked in a lot of different ways to make it personal to your child.  It costs you nothing, brightens someone else’s day, and honors your baby’s memory.  It doesn’t get any better than that.

                -Christmas pictures and family pictures.  I love Christmas and I really get into writing a family Christmas letter and planning out our Christmas picture of the kids each year.  One of my favorite parts of the picture is figuring out how we will include Haven.  Sometimes we do it in obvious ways, for example, one year we had the bigger kids holding a picture of Haven.  Sometimes it is more subtle, and we actually have friends and family who look forward to see how we have incorporated our boy each year.  We have positioned the children in front of the tree so that one of Haven’s ornaments is in the picture.  We have a blue bear that represents him in other pictures.  Some families use their Comfort Bear in each family picture or other beloved item to represent their baby. One year our youngest son was wearing a Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Ribbon.  You can get so creative with how you include your little one.

                These ideas are just a little taste of the numerous ways you can memorialize your baby in your life and the lives of your family.  An added benefit of doing any of these activities is opening up the door for others to speak to you about your baby.  In the babyloss community we all know that so many people are afraid to talk to us about our children because they don’t want to upset us or “remind” us.  When our loved ones see us actively including our baby, it gives them permission to do the same.  And ultimately, don’t we all want the chance for our baby’s story to continue and have an impact?

For more ideas and information about creating memories during pregnancy when a baby’s life is expected to be brief, to find in-person or online support, to request resources, or for memorial ideas after birth and goodbye, please visit the links on the Sufficient Grace Ministries below:

SGM Perinatal Hospice Services

Making Memories Before Birth

Birth Planning

Memorial Planning

Ballet Slippers and Silver Bells

My mind has been thick with nostalgia and my heart heavy with the missing as Christmas fills our senses. Flashes of yesteryear…moments captured in time like a snapshot stopping my hurried steps.

I am seven, standing proudly in the black leotard and pink tights my mother worked three jobs to buy, my long, wavy brown hair pulled into a bun. Silver Bells fills the studio with a melody that makes  me close my eyes and really believe it’s Christmas time in the city . I practice my plies as little girls with more grace than I…girls who don’t live in the trailer park…snicker in a group. I look at my mother, standing a little straighter , my tiny pink ballet slippers gliding across the worn wood floors. Ballet was never my thing, but that year, with snow falling in the background, Silver bells filling the air…that year was magic.

Another flash…another year, 1980-something…another moment captured in time. My mother, wearing the long nightgown with the zipper our neighbors gave to her one Christmas morning. They started the tradition of coming over Christmas morning shortly after we moved to the first house my mother owned. The flashes run together in a blur of memories. I can still taste the orange and bag of candy consumed on many a Christmas Eve at the prettiest church in town,laughing with Billy…his mouth full of chocolate. My grandpa laughing an identical laugh in unison with mom , his arm draped around her, eyes wrinkled with joy as he gives her shoulder a gentle squeeze one Christmas Eve.

 

The house lit up like Vegas…different themed trees in every room. Her tree. Her home made ornaments documenting the various themes of each year’s home made Christmas…the macaroni angel, the year of crochet, cross stitch, the year of wooden peg angels, the year we filled my cart with mauve Victorian decor and bought the Mariah Carey Christmas CD at Hills.

Shopping with my mother so many Christmases of my grown up life. Oh how she loved to buy presents for her people. Flash…mom pushing me in a wheel chair so I could shop while on bed rest for Faith and Grace. Flash…the year she bought me a brand new tree as we shopped on a day when we were angry with our husbands. She always spent more on days we weren’t happy with our husbands.

 

Laughing in her kitchen…

Baking with Nicki and her people…making buckeyes for the first time…marveling at the gathering of women. Flash…my own Gerken baking day…with Sarah and a young Timothy and even younger James, covered in flour. This year’s Gerken baking day left my kitchen filled with big kids who are not mine by blood, but certainly mine in my heart.

Cousins filling my grandmother’s house, families young and full of promise…moms wearing 80s attire…big bows around their necks with big hair to match and hips curvy from the birthing. The smell of grandma’s homemade noodles filling the kitchen. Seventies carpet. Gathering around the fireplace, the noise of family…filled with love and security. Life ahead.

 

Santa leaving his big bag of toys on the porch at my other grandma’s house. Sitting on my father’s lap…I’m seven again…wearing my new sweater vest, my hair carefully curled by my mother earlier in the day.

 

Timothy’s first Christmas. His eyes heavy with sleep, wearing his second hand puppy dog pajamas, as I woke him up in the wee hours of the morning…too excited to wait any longer. Tim yawning in the background…wrapped in a red and black blanket……starting our own traditions in the tiny one bedroom apartment we once called home.

Laughing together as I helped decorate her tree on our last Christmas with her. I’m glad I didn’t know about the missing that waited for us…the ache a momma feels for her baby, I knew. But the ache a daughter feels for her mother still lay ahead as we added the decorations to her tree in between giggles.

I can’t go back and conjure each moment into reality…but each memory is part of me, part of today…woven into the tapestry of this life. So, I will fill my tiny home with as many people I love and as much laughter as we can muster, for as many years as the Lord allows.

Because laughing with people I love…this tiny house full…well…that’s my favorite.

 

May you find joy and peace in this Christmas season as we celebrate the amazing gift…that Jesus came for us. May there be quiet moments of reflection, warm memories to fill your heart, and laughter, if you can muster it…laughing with people you love, imperfect and broken though we may be. There is hope.

 

For on this day, in the city of David, a Savior was born. You will find Him wrapped in swaddling clothes and laying in a manger…

P.S. So desperate was I to release the words in the wee hours of this morning, this post was typed entirely on my phone. Impressive…or sad…whichever. But, if you’re a writer, you get it! :) Merry Christmas!

Graduation, Memorial Day…And the First Day of the Rest of My Life

I like to say, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life”. My friend Tracy hates that saying. But, I like it. It’s akin to…”His mercies are new every morning” (See Lamentations 3). A promise I heartily embrace, often needing the grace of a fresh start.

Tuesday, in the aftermath of our oldest son’s graduation celebration and our annual Memorial Day festivities, I sat in my new office (i.e., the patio Tim built just days before the party), soaking in the reality that a new beginning of monumental proportions was upon us. The birds sang, the sun shone down, and I breathed slow and easy. I didn’t feel the usual overwhelming grip as I read through the emails and looked at the upcoming schedule of events to plan, speaking engagements, interviews, and fundraising opportunities. I felt peace. I felt free. Free to serve the Lord and take care of my family’s needs. Gratefulness swept over me. Eucharisteo. Soaking in this moment. This first day of the rest of my life. (For those who may have missed the announcement, I will not be returning to my full-time school job next year, but will be working from home to devote my time to family and serving through SGM.)

I reflected on the weekend.

For months before our oldest son walked down the aisle of the high school gym robed in royal blue, to the tune of Pomp and Circumstance, the emotion poured from my heart and the tears fell freely from my eyes. The idea of this season coming to an end, even as we anticipate the new beginnings in his life, has not been easy to embrace. He has always been here, after all. Our entire marriage. Our entire adult life. Through the losses. Through the celebrations.

I dreaded what I will affectionately refer to as the “building of the shrine” and procrastinated the task until just a couple weeks before graduation day. But, it turns out, as I sat in my living room surrounded with the pictures that told a story of his life….of our lives…I smiled and laughed. Joy bubbled up, and I was able to embrace and celebrate the gifts of our family. Pictures from my own graduation were strewn in the midst. Pictures of my mother young and healthy, and alive. Pictures of  husband Tim, also wearing the blue graduation robe, looking much like his son. The tears didn’t fall until the “shrine” was complete….and his life literally unfolded before me. Eighteen years…years filled with great blessing.

 

Later that week, just a few days before graduation, I was reminded of a sweet classmate of the 2012 class that was killed by a drunk driver in the second grade. Her family would be receiving an honorary diploma, in Cassie’s name, during the ceremony. I looked again at my shrine, and the unfolding of Timothy’s life, and was humbled by my weeping over what was about to change. In that moment, I realized, we had been given all these years to tell his story. I thought of Cassie’s family, who long to be able to shed their tears over the sentimental passing of years filled with memories, instead of the ache of missing, that I also know well. I desired joy and celebration for what we had been given. And, when graduation day came, that’s exactly what filled the day. Joy and celebration. And, pride (the good kind….the kind that knows that God has been faithful when we are faithless, that somehow, despite all our inadequacies as parents, our son is filled with the character and qualities we have prayed for and more….because of His grace.). The only tears during the ceremony for me, were those shed for Cassie and her family.

The party was such busy fun. Friends and family filled our yard and garage. Corn hole was played, food was eaten, laughter rang out. I felt like I was in a blender greeting, thanking, filling, smiling, hugging, and saying goodbye to guests. It was splendid fun. And, joy abounded. We had tents with tables beneath in the yard and tables filling the garage. Children ran around happily, and bellies were filled with delicious food.

 

Have I mentioned how much I love these boys? My Tim and Ian….so proud of them.

And, love these boys, of course.  My Timothy and James….so proud of them. Cute brothers!

 

The next morning, we arose early to attend the Memorial Day services hosted in our tiny town, by the American Legion Post 316 and the Sons of the American Legion. Our band, One Way, was performing a couple songs, and I had the honor of singing the National Anthem and reading some of the names of the Veterans who are no longer with us. We were also blessed to hear the story of a local Vietnam Veteran, Steve Wing. The tears flowed freely as he spoke of his service and the sacrifice of one of his fellow servicemen, his friend. It was a beautiful time to honor those who serve our country.

 

The Saturday before, I did make a trip to the cemetery. A rare trip. Most of you who have been reading here know I don’t visit the cemetery much. I like to think of my babies and mom in heaven. The cemetery is not a comforting place to me. But, I went. It seemed they needed to be included somehow as we celebrated Timothy’s graduation and remembered those who served our country….and those we love who are no longer with us. I decided they needed red, white, and blue flowers. Sometimes I go. Sometimes I don’t. This year, I went. There aren’t any pictures of my time there, though.

As we look ahead to new beginnings and adventures, I hope you’ll continue to join our family and pray for us and for this ministry. God is working in mighty ways. I have much to share about coming events and other blessings that have already occurred. Thank you to all who support us, and stay tuned!

Today is the first day of the rest of your life…and mine. Love to all…

P.S. Thank you to those of you who offered your prayers for my friend Tracy, and her family, as we celebrated the life of her mother, Louise on Thursday. Your prayers were felt, and the Lord’s hand was evident through all the events of the day. It was a beautiful time of remembrance for a very special lady.

Women Gathering in Kitchens

I hate those parties with the catalogs selling something high priced, with the sales person giving her spiel. Abhor baby showers, bridal showers, pretty much any gathering with the word shower and/or any event that may include pastel mints or some cheesy game no one wants to play. Most of the time I avoid the tupperware-type extravaganzas. Unless of course, I’m doing someone a favor. Then I will begrudgingly attend.

Last night, it was the perfect storm for such an occasion. I had an empty house, and a bad case of procrastination with a long to-do list staring me in the face. That’s what drove me to go to my friend Raechel’s Scentsy party. (Actually, I walked…since she lives two doors down.) Yes, I know. Scentsy. Even the name makes me shudder a little. Not to disgust or offend my lovely friends who may take the time to melt wax in really expensive containers to make your house smell pretty. Nothing wrong with that at all, if it’s your thing. Lighting a candle is as high maintenance as I get with the scented stuff. A cheap candle…from WalMart. I don’t have time to worry about more than that, nor money to spend on maintaining the scent level of my home with packages of wax.

Raechel was a lovely hostess, offering us a delicious array of appetizers and fun conversation. I smelled the samples until my nose couldn’t smell anymore. We laughed and enjoyed ourselves. Ok, so it wasn’t half bad for a catalog party! I even bought some car fresheners for the Tims and me. And, some body spray. Sorry…no chance I was buying the melty pot things and bars of wax to melt.

But, after the party…

The women were gathered in the kitchen. Most of the ladies in attendance were Raechel’s family. Mom, sister, aunt,, daughters. For a moment, I stood by the table, watching them laugh and chide one another with a familiar exchange. Bantering back and forth like we do with those we love…the ones we are most comfortable with…the ones who get us. And, there it was…sweeping in unexpectedly, as it always comes. The missing. The longing. I watched Raechel with her mom, an easy exchange between a mother and daughter. What I miss most about my mother is gathering in the kitchen. To laugh, joke, tease, share a tidbit of the days. I miss when I was young and Grandma and Aunt Cheryl would gather with us in Mom’s kitchen. We had the same easy way amongst ourselves. Same banter. Same safe place that only exists with those who truly know you…and get your silly quirks… and love you just the way you are.

I miss gathering with my childhood friend, Nicki, in her Aunt Linda’s kitchen while generations of women baked delectable Christmas goodies. I ache to gather in Dinah’s marvelously eclectic kitchen…to laugh, to pray, to delve further into a morsel of His Word and chew on it a bit, to cry together…to feel at home. I miss gathering in Ginny’s kitchen with a brood of young children climbing all over the denim jumpers we spent our 20s wearing, covered in flour as we baked sugar cookies. And, I miss the bible studies in her dining room, when a blue haired, droopy pants-ed teenager named Amos took care of our brood of young ones so we could discuss passages in Corinthians.

My mother, Aunt Linda, and Dinah no longer walk this Earth. Someone else fills their kitchens. Or maybe they sit empty, echoing silently with the years of laughter and memories that once reverberated off the walls. Ginny, Nicki, and I have our own kitchens. Our own busy lives that prevent most kitchen gathering moments. And, I suppose there will be times when my kitchen serves as a gathering place for women. My favorite times now are those when my house is filled with people I love, and the sounds of laughter as we gather in the kitchen. Gerken Baking Day. Holiday gatherings. The missing I feel for the women who met together once in the kitchen with me, is so intense. No one knows you like your mom…it’s true. Sometimes I feel so desperate to laugh with her in the kitchen, I’ve even dreamed about it. But, perhaps the time has come for me to fill my own kitchen…with whomever I can. I am limited on the women who fill my kitchen. Most of time, if my kitchen is full, it’s filled with boys. That makes me happy too. Listening to their stories…offering a place where someone “gets them”….and loves them just as they are. Maybe someday, those boys will bring wives to my kitchen, and we can gather and laugh and make new memories. Maybe their young ones will climb all over in the flour as we bake. (I can promise you, though, I will not be donning a denim jumper. Ever again.) Maybe it doesn’t have to be just women in the kitchen. Maybe it’s about family. And, not just the family that exists by blood…but those who are family in our hearts.

In the busyness of life, it’s good to stop and remember that the things that make the most lasting impression on our lives and hearts aren’t the elaborate plans we make, or big trips we take, or even the ball games and other activities in which our children participate. It’s the simple gathering as a family in the kitchen. Or where ever. To laugh with the people who see us as we are…and love us anyway. My mother always said, in the simplest of times…when things were going well, or when they fell apart…”We’re making a memory.” She was right. My most precious memories will always be the daily moments we spent, gathering in her kitchen.

A Hodge Podge: Christmas, Updates, and Sharing Your Words

It’s been awhile since we had a good hodge podge post. So here goes…

My in real life friends know that my husband and I just completed the December 2011 Trifecta of Weddings. For the first time in my “wedding singer” career, I had the privilege of performing in three back to back weddings…in December of all months! Tim accompanied with his beautiful guitar music in two of them. The third was my baby brother’s wedding, in which I also helped a bit with the planning and preparing (although his beautiful bride Megan did most of it and pulled it all off beautifully, I must say), and served as matron of honor. The wedding trifecta was followed by Christmas, of course…which brings about it’s own whirlwind of busy. Somehow, there were moments of stillness and beauty in all of it. There also may be some pictures of me “dancing like no one is watching”, which could quite possibly discourage me from ever dancing again once I see them!

James and I took some time to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life”. I had been bothering Tim to watch it with us, and he replied, “We don’t have to watch it. We’re living it.” After watching the movie, I realized that he was right. We are living it, and whether he realizes it or not, I married George Bailey…the kind of guy who lays it all down day after day for those he loves, doing the hard thing, helping others, often setting aside his own dreams and plans. I love my George Bailey.

It was a lovely Christmas, filled with laughter and love and time with family. And…some Just Dance 3 and Zumba! (Have I mentioned I joined a Zumba class…overcoming my fear and aversion to exercising in public?! It’s actually way fun!)

We had to have Gerken Baking Day 2011 early due to all the wedding madness. We made some super cute Gingerbread aprons and also welcomed Timothy’s girlfriend Hannah to the Gerken kitchen for some goodie baking fun. (FYI…I wore my apron to school and the kids loved it! One gave me a hug and said, “Mrs. Gerken, I love your apron. You look like like a giant gingerbread cookie!”)

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had a wonderful time during the SGM Christmas Giveaway Extravaganza 2011. Winners were announced, but we haven’t heard from a few of you. Please email your address and other information so we can ship your items if you haven’t already done so! Speaking of Giveaways, my sweet in-real-life friend, Shannon is hosting a blog giveaway for a total of 12 days. She makes adorable, unique, handmade cards and is giving away one a day, for 12 days. Stop over and leave her a comment. She is as sweet as she is talented, and it would really bless her if you enter her giveaway!

Many of the comments (a record number of comments were left on some posts, by the way!) left on the SGM Christmas Extravaganza giveaway posts tugged at my heart. I loved the thoughts and memories you shared. So, I wanted to include some of your words in this post. As we go through our celebrations of Christmas and look toward a New Year, we realize that many are missing someone they love. I’m so grateful for the best gift of all…our Savior, Jesus, born on that holy night to a peasant girl and her betrothed and laid gently in a manger. So unlikely in the world’s eyes…a king to save us all, in the form of a tiny, helpless baby. He is the God of the unlikely…the One who makes the impossible, possible…the One who chooses the lost and broken…the ignored and forgotten…the failures, the lonely, the grieving hearts. The miracle that He came for me…and for you…never gets old. And, for that reason, even in the missing, we have great hope…because He came.

In response to sharing a time when the Lord carried you:

Gina: i feel that the Lord has carried me through MANY times, but particularly when i lost my son in 1994 at 20 weeks gestation .I am in a different place today, i would like to say stronger and am now helping out on a Facebook page called Angels of the Heart which helps those who have experienced a loss.We remember our angels there as well

Deanna: This is one of my favorite quotes, “Friends are God’s way of taking care of us,” since River’s death people have come into my life that have literally picked me up so many times. I could not keep my head above water alone and God has helped me through friends among many other ways.

Tina: The Lord is carrying me now as I am grieving the loss of my baby girl.

In response to your thoughts on heaven:

Brandie: Just the thought of heaven comforts me because I know I have 4 beautiful daughters to hold when I get there. 2 of them I never got the chance to hold. While I know once I get there I will never want to let them go, I’ll know I will have forever to make up for our lost time.

Julie: My Mamaw is in Heaven and I miss her terribly. I have sappy wonderful memories with her…she was such a fun and amazing woman. She was always willing to go…didn’t matter where we were going, if we called her she’d always say, “sure! I’ll be ready when you get here.” She was always making me laugh and doing for her family. Can’t wait to see her and hug her again!

Karla Sheehan: I would love to be entered for the Heaven is for Real for kids. I read Heaven is for Real and listened to it on audio book. It was such an amazing book! A friend of our family read Heaven is for Real to my mother and father while my mother was on hospice this past year. My mother passed exactly 13 months to the day of my son Brendan. That book created such a beautiful visual for us and my mother of what she would experience with my son and other loved ones once God called her home.

Alison: I daydream about talking to my son, William, in Heaven. I want to know even more about him than what I was able to learn here on Earth. I want to see his eyes open and hear his voice. I want to embrace him so much. I pray that all these things are possible in Heaven.

Jenn: Since my son Noah died, Heaven is a lot more real to me. I find myself wondering what his days are like & longing for the return of Jesus so we can be reunited as a family again. I was thankful for the glimpse of Heaven given through the book Heaven is for Real. SO comforting!!!

Sarita: One of my favorite thoughts about Heaven is that I will finally get to hold & touch Meredith and i will see my loved ones who have gone on. I miss my parents especially at Christmas.

Holly: I look forward to Heaven so much more now that Carleigh is there. I can only imagine what Heaven is really like even with the descriptions the Bible gives us and the stories of people who have been there. My mind can’t wrap around the true glory of it. I just know it’s beyond what we can even imagine but yet I try because I want to know what it’s like for my daughter there. I imagine her and Jordan holding hands and running and playing. Even sitting on Jesus’ lap :)

Stephanie D.: Along with the many family members and friends in Heaven, I have three babies waiting for me. It hurts my brain to even try to imagine all they have seen. I know it is beyond my most beautiful thought of what it could be. I strive to live my life in a way that makes them proud of me. I believe they are always with me and there are no secrets that I can hide from them so a good and faithful life is what I strive for.

Karen: I look forward that there will be no more tears in Heaven!!!

Hopewhat gives me hope about heaven is of course once and for all being with all my children and Christ all at the same time, what an amazing reunion it will be! heaven is more precious to me as each day passes xx

Cecilia: I think the most comforting thing to me about Heaven is that I knew saying goodbye to him here wasn’t forever. Knowing God valued his life and we will be reunited one day.

Tina: I imagine that my dear Nana is taking care of my baby girl in heaven, and it brings me great comfort to know that I will see them both again someday.

Your thoughts about truly loving others…the laying it all down kind of love: 

Stephanie D: As baby lost mommas, we have known the deepest of pain and the purest of love all in the same moment. We are blessed to know that kind of love.

Aupera: Love is precious and should not be taken lightly. In my life with all my losses I have learned that you should always tell the people that you love that you love then every chance you can because you don’t know if it will be your last time with them.

Megan: Love comes into our lives unexpectedly and stays and grows. Like a seed blown on the wind that settles on good soil. Like the love that I have for my son who is in heaven. Love for him was planted the moment I found I was pregnant and although he grows in heaven now, my love for him continues to grow.

Deanna: Through River I learned to love with my whole heart. I learned to love like there is no tomorrow. We know all to well what can happen in the blink of an eye and I do not ever want to be a person who wishes I had loved more. I learned the intensity of love. This is a beautiful thing to be part of, thank you so much. 

Jessica: When my Nana passed away it was easy to see how much everyone truly loved her. I learned what you can go through when you truly love someone. When she passed I believe she chose to do so when she knew my Papa was half asleep (holding her hand) and when my mom has left the room. I believe she didn’t want the two of them to see her take her last breath. My cousin and I were holding her hands and telling her it was okay to go as she took her last breath. Along with losing my three babies it was one of the hardest times in my life but I am glad that love made it possible to be there for her.

Adrianna: I have never known a love like the love I felt for my son. I never understood what it meant to be a parent until I had my son and felt what every mother feels for their child. I never understood wholly the love God has for us until I knew the pain of loosing my only son. I am not a strong enough person to willingly give up my child for anyone else.

Mary: My daughter taught me that love is doing best for her, even when I feel like it might destroy me. That kind of love is real, painful, deep, and sacrificial. It is hard to say you “want” that kind of love, but it is the way Christ loved me. And I never deserved it.

Angie: I experienced the purest, deepest, love, with both of my children. I would have gladly died if it would had saved our daughter and it took me a long time to get over my anger that I was alive when she isn’t. And then our son was born, and every day he heals my heart a little more and brings us so much joy.

Melanie: Since losing my baby girl in July I have learnt that it is so important to cherish true friends. The ones that stand by your side and love you unconditionally, the ones who chose to weather the storm with you no matter how painful it may be for them also. I now know what kind of friend I will be in return to these special people.

Carrie Konig: Love is a powerful weapon! Love is amazing whenever it is extended, but it is particularly powerful when it is love extended, not when it’s easy, but when it is hard. It is love like that which costs you something. But that is the most powerful kind….

Jenn:  Through my sons short life & then death, I learned a lot about selfless love and was able to better understand God’s love for us. Noah also taught me to treasure each & every moment w/our kids & not to take life for granted.

Tina: My Nana was a great example of truly loving others. After my Papo had a stroke and was unable to care for himself, my Nana decided that the nursing home was not adequately meeting his needs. She brought him home and cared for him around the clock for almost a year. All of her wants and needs were second to caring for him. Truly loving others, I think, is something one DOES, not just a feeling. It is sacrificing one’s own desires for the well-being of another.

Cynthia:Like most women who follow your blog, I have learned the greatest lessons of love through the life and loss of our daughter Olivia. Love has been a continual theme throughout this year for me also. We have been called to love others and the only way to become closer to God is to show love. It’s easy to love our husbands and children but showing love to people we would normally reject is not always natural. My prayer has been to learn to show love in everyday life, in and out of my home.

Sarita: I learned my first lessons of love from my parents. They would have done anything for me. I was a late in life baby – mother & daddy had been married for 20 years ( they had a stillborn baby before my brother was born 10 years before me). I was always loved & cherished.

Your Christmas Memories: 

Jennifer Ross: In memory of Isaiah, we lay his little blue stocking along with his brothers, and decorate our Christmas tree with his ornaments first. It really gives us a moment to have a special time for just Isaiah.

Adrianna: Growing up, my mom would buy us a special ornament each year, and when I turned 18 I got to take my ornaments with me to put up on my own tree. Now that I have a son, even if he isn’t here with me on Earth, I will buy him an ornament every year and display it on my tree. As we give him brothers and sisters, they will know their big brother.

Nikki: In memory of Aiden Joshua. I never got to make any memories with him, as I said goodbye before I ever got to say hello, but I do have a memory after he was gone. We released balloons for him, and they disappeared right away. My friend did the same, and they disappeared again, very quickly. So we joke now that he must be very grabby, like his daddy.

Brandie: This year we are going to buy toys for the age my daughters should be & donate them to children in need. My son is looking forward to picking them out. :’)

Maryann: I adore all the ornaments but I especially fell in love with number 1 and number 4.
There is not a day or night that goes by that I don’t think of our beloved angel Erin Lee. For whatever reason God called you home before mommy had a chance to deliver you for all to see.. We find comfort in knowing that we will all see you when we too make our way home. Mommy keeps your little fireman boots on the tree in your memory. They are always the first to go on the tree. I know you will have a wonderful Christmas again this year with our Beloved Father!!

Sarita: My favorite Christmas memories are of growing up in the ’50s & ’60s with my Mother & Daddy & my brother. We cut a cedar tree & holly bows from our land, Mother cooked so many good things and she loved putting apples, oranges, & nuts in our stockings. The times were simpler, we were not well off but didn’t know it! I still have some of my dolls – my favorite is a rubber baby doll given to me by Santa in 1955 when i was 2. Church was a big part of our lives. It was just a small country church, but had a huge impact on my life.

Abi: This will be our first Christmas without our son Corbin. My husband and I decided that we are going to give each of our extended family members a gift in his memory. This year’s gift will be a copy of Wherever You Are, My Love Will Find You. They will be purchased from Kohl’s where part of the proceeds go to a charity to help children’s literacy. I love the message of the book and knowing that my purchase will help children… And I love that my son will still be included in our family celebrations in a tangible way.

Thank you all for making that week so special…and for sharing your hearts so beautifully. Your words brought tears to my eyes many times. You are all beautiful mothers, and I’m grateful to know you.

We are going to be starting a new segment for Walking With You soon on this blog…similar to the original WWY. We are hoping that many of you who are new to loss will be able to take part and find hope and encouragement knowing that you do not walk this path alone. I’ll be posting soon with details.

Memorial Day 2011 ~ Featuring a Video Performance by One Way

This morning, our band, One Way, had the privilege of performing a couple Patriotic songs following today’s Memorial Day Parade, during a special ceremony to honor our veterans. It has long been a tradition in our family to take time to remember those who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom. And, this Memorial Day was no exception.
Here’s a partial sampling of the two songs we performed today:
The Battle Hymn of the Republic
America the Beautiful
The memory ran out on my camera! I had a terrible time uploading these videos…so not sure how the quality is going to turn out. But, here’s a peek at One Way.

                                

I’ve shared before that I don’t spend a lot of time in the cemetery. And, while that’s still true, I did stop there briefly yesterday to leave some red, white, and blue flowers on Faith, Grace, and Thomas’ grave…and my mother’s too. I didn’t want them left out of the Memorial Day festivities this year. Just like we require James and Timothy to honor the veterans by removing their hats and putting their hands over their hearts as the men pass with the flag, the tiny graves of our children brought them honor on this day, as well. It just seemed fitting this year.

Thank you to all who have served this country and fight to protect the freedom we enjoy in this beautiful land. God Bless America!

Riding my Turquoise Bike Past Her House in the Spring…

I love my turquoise bike.
It has what I call a mama bottom seat. You know, a seat made for a mama-sized bottom. Not some tiny uncomfortable contraption.
I had been eyeing it for awhile, looking longingly through the window of our small town hardware store each time I rode by on my hand-me-down ten speed, taken by the way the sun reflected off it’s frosty blue goodness.
It was July, several years ago…the week of my birthday…when Tim handed me the money and told me to go get the bike as a present.
The first place I rode my new bike was to my mother’s house. She smiled and said that she was just about to do the same thing. She knew how I loved to ride my bike, and how much I had wanted the shiny turquoise bike that had been calling to me from the hardware store window. She bought me a pink backpack, instead…to carry my library books when James and I rode our bikes to get books. Her house was always on my bike route. And, we would often stop there to pet her dog Pebbles, get James a drink (he is always thirsty), and grab some tomatoes from the garden. Even after she went home to heaven, her house remained on our route. We would stop and chat with Grandpa, pet Pebble, and get James a drink.
I still ride my bike, sometimes with James chatting away alongside me, and sometimes on my own. And, her house is still on our bike route.
Only now, it isn’t her house anymore, or mine, or the house of my children’s grandmother. Someone else has bought my mother’s house. Her husband remarried and moved away last summer. Someone else will wash the dishes in the sink that I washed so many dishes in, while listening to the oldies with the summer breeze blowing the scent of lilacs in the windows, and the faint whir of mopeds humming in the distance.
The first bike ride we took this year we went around the reservoir lifting our legs as our bike sped down the muddy hill, life blooming all around as spring awakens from its winter sleep.  Her house came into view. And, I stopped, overwhelmed with the nostalgia washing over me. My eyes settled on the deck Tim built, where I sat on the swing, watching the boys swim in the pool that’s no longer there. My throat swelled, and I shook the tears away.
James was with me, and I didn’t want to dwell long on the sad. I didn’t want to ruin the first bike ride of spring. Still, my heart ached with such longing I could barely breathe.
Last week, I started off on my ride, alone, over the creek bridge, muddy waters rushing fast, full of spring rain. I crossed the bumpy railroad tracks that surround my neighborhood and past the Methodist church, rode around the school, past the pool park and around the ball diamond, remembering the summers when all my friend Nicki and I did was ride around town, waiting for something to happen and dreaming our summer dreams.
I crossed Main Street and Ron’s Super Valu, then over more bumpy tracks until I reached her road.
I’ve mentioned before how each season, the missing washes over me anew. Spring is no exception.
But this year, this year is different.
This year, when I ride past her house, the house where I grew up, I cannot stop and get a water and pet Pebbles.
I road by, drinking in the sight, allowing the ache to fully envelope me. My eyes settled where the flag used to fly so proudly, her rock garden that she and Grandpa proudly laid by hand, the pink stencil she painted on the gas tank.
Her lilac bush, not yet blooming.
And, her clothesline…with the clothespins still clipped to the top. She loved to hang the clothes out to dry in the summer breeze, and was quite dedicated, even tromping out in the mud in her snow boots.
That did it. The tears spilled over, and my chest heaved, as I pedalled away from the memories, the hurt, and the missing. Or I tried, but it followed me. It followed me as I rode over the bridge where the wildflowers bloom tall in the summer and past the field still muddy with spring, over the tracks again and around the reservoir hill. Still…I pedalled my turquoise bike, tears streaming, chest heaving.
By the time I rounded the corner of my road and pulled into my stone driveway, the tears were dry.
I rolled the turquoise bike into the garage, hugged my husband, and started supper for my family.
Time marches on, and the missing washes over me anew each season. It probably always will. Even more reason to make memories with those we love. Even more reason to soak in the gift of right now, with a grateful heart. Even more reason to cling to Jesus, and not the fleeting things of this world.
For, no season on this earth lasts forever.
—————————————————
A Blessed Easter to you and yours….love and prayers for those missing someone during this spring season of hope and renewal.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26

The Drive

Giveaway has now closed. Winners have been announced. You may still leave a comment, but it will not count toward the giveaway. Thank you! =)

Tuesday evening, I took a drive.

Not just any drive…the drive.

I’ve been meaning to take that drive for a couple years, considering the idea of soaking in every whisper of the memories from four years ago when I drove that path many times from home to you.

It’s the road that takes me to the place where you took your last breath on this earth. This week, before the anniversary of your passing, boasts all of the beauty of Earth’s splendor…nature’s last hoorah before the dark cold winter…God’s artwork. And in a way, maybe only to me, a send-off celebration…a beautiful goodbye to you. That’s what it felt like when I drove that path over and over again four years ago. The glorious celebration of color, such a contrast to the darkness of death’s sting surrounding you.

I didn’t miss the contrast then. And, I didn’t miss it on Tuesday’s drive.

As I approached the turn, I let my eyes wander to the house that always let me know the turn was approaching. It looked like a peaceful place to live, I thought. I remembered how I noticed it one last time four years ago, the dark night I drove home telling people the news that your battle was over, and you had gone home.

As I made the turn, I felt the weight in my chest and the catch in my breath. I opened the sunroof, so that I could allow every nuance of this drive to soak itself into my senses. I wanted to breathe it all in, deeply. I didn’t fight the memories…the flashes. I let them wash over me, as I gazed at the magnificent beauty before me.

The name of a housing development…The Sanctuary did not go unnoticed. I turned up Jim Croche’s “I’ve Got a Name” and drove on with a smile. Feeling entangled and free all at the same time. Letting the weeping and rejoicing dance their dances over and through me, I lived each memory of laughing with you and crying with you…fighting with you, hurting with you. I smiled as I thought of your spirit…how every time we drive on a hilly road, I accelerate at just the right point so that we can fully experience one of life’s great gifts…the “belly getter” just like you used to. My kids love it as much as I always did. As I parent a teenager, I am acutely aware of all the time I spent fighting the wrong fight for the wrong reasons. And, all the fighting I watched you do most of your life, even in the end. I thought of how you sopped up every inch of joy in every moment life offered you…even making us laugh as your body failed. Your spirit never did.

I looked up through the sunroof as I drove through what could only be described as a tunnel of autumn splendor. The leaves surrounded me forming their own blanket, a sanctuary, if you will. I drove on…to the place where I last heard your voice.

I turned into the driveway and the memories pushed their way into my psyche with such force, they ran into and overlapped each other in their efforts to be remembered. I remembered all at once the day we brought you here…the day I collapsed in exhausted delirium, the day I returned after a rest, and the day I left after four weeks of watching you suffer more than I thought was humanly possible.

I entered the building to use the restroom, walking past two women, who were there to visit a loved one, waiting in this place where people go to die. The door was locked and a hospice nurse approached me to lead me to another restroom. She led me down your hallway, past the chairs where we contemplated decisions, conditions, breathing patterns, and what to eat for dinner. Past your room, where we slept and listened to my brother’s stories and the rhythm of your breathing. The memories coming at such rapid fire speed, I staggered into the bathroom and felt the eruption of emotion…wondering for a moment why I made this drive. I let the emotion come, and made my way outside to the beautiful ponds and the serene path I walked so many times.

I remember walking this path to let out my anger, to cry, to pray, to refuel, to look at something beautiful and alive for a few minutes. I walked it with my kids, walked it while pushing your big hospice bed around the bricks and listening to your snarky humor as you tried to keep my huge sunglasses on your face. I watched James feed the ducks and marvelled at how intertwined beginnings and endings are as life and death weave their way through our days. I remember reading each brick, the names of those who have gone before us…feeling somehow less alone and realizing once more the precious gift of life each of us is given.

As I opened the doors that led to the path of serenity, I heard a group of ladies in the lobby begin to sing what might have been a hymn. The emotions were swarming my senses with such fury, I’m not sure. Suddenly, the doors closed behind me and all I could hear was the sound of the fountains.

Oh, Lord…will you meet me here again? I felt my feet hit the bricks. My eyes scanned the names through the tears. The cool air filling my nostrils and breathing deep into my lungs. I crossed the bridge to a little clearing with a bench. I sat down and soaked it all in for a moment as the peace settled over me like a soothing balm. The fountains sprinkled, the crickets chirped, and I began to read scripture aloud, letting the words join the melody of peace soothing my weary soul. As if the Lord whispered through His comforting words of peace and truth…”I’ve got her, I’ve got you. I am here.” I prayed a little, wept a little, and let the Lord hold me a little in the place where you breathed your last breath on this earth. Then I stopped to read one last brick, leaning down to wipe my hands over the name of a treasured life…a beautiful soul that once walked this earth and now brightens heaven with her exuberance.

As I got into the car to drive home, I saw an ambulance bringing someone in. I sighed with a heavy heart, and left the place where people go to die. On the way home, I talked with my “in real life” Lynette and she mentioned a story someone shared where the hospice wing was referred to as the “birthing rooms”. Perhaps in light of that, it would be better to say it is a place where people go to live…eternally that is.

——————————

If you are new to this site, this post is about my sweet mom who passed away four years ago on October 20th after a very difficult battle with cancer. She was just fifty years old. I miss her dearly…

—————-
Giveaway is closed….winner has been announced!

I know this is a long post…and if you’re still hanging in, I’d love to share today’s giveaway with you. We are offering a free copy of Mary Beth Chapman’s book, Choosing to SEE, to one commenter on this post. Anyone can enter and leave a comment. You do not have to be a grieving parent (as is the focus of the rest of the giveaways this week…which you may also wish to check out!) No matter what we are facing in this life, it is always good to choose to SEE the Lord working through it all.

Blessings…

The Passing of Time and Some Upcoming Events…Yes, it’s a Hodge Podge

October has arrived, and I realize I’ve been a little absent in blog land. Truth be told, I’ve been soaking in every minute of my oldest son’s high school golf season. Yes, in the grand scheme of eternity…not the most spiritual of matters. But, the heart of a mother learns to love what her children love. Their passions become our passions. When something means the world to them, it means the world to us. While it’s certainly important to keep an eternal perspective, it is also a worthy thing to soak in the time we have with our children and let them know how much they matter to us. It isn’t really hard to do. I love watching my children soar with the gifts and abilities that God has given them. And, I know my time following my oldest son on the golf course is growing short, as he just finished the golf season of his junior year. I won’t lie. It is one of my favorite things to do. Watching him swing that club, surrounded by the most splendid display of earth’s beauty. So, forgive me if I seem a little less focused from August to October. I am soaking it in, and time with my children is fleeting.

I marvel at the way time passes. Here we are in the midst of another autumn shrouded in memories. This is the time I usually relive the last moments of my mother’s life, mixed in with the memories of Faith and Grace. It is generally commemorated with sleepless nights, flashbacks, and an agony of missing as my body relives those last weeks…even while my mind resists. This year has been a little different. The flashes are there, as I walk on to the soccer field and remember “the phone call”…and other times that bring the memories back. But, the passing of time is a force of it’s own to be reckoned with. This year, there are so many current good-byes looming that the past good-byes are being pushed aside to make room. They are still there, of course…just shifting. I suppose this life is a string of good-byes…with a few hellos along the way.

My mother’s house is for sale/rent. The house where I…in true teenage diva form… argued with my mom, while getting ready for my first Homecoming and my last. (I will be taking pictures of my son and his girl later today, as he prepares for his next-to-last Homecoming.) Last Sunday, I had to go and get some of Mom’s things out of the house, so that someone else can move in…a trip I’ve been putting off. It is a strange feeling…going through the personal belongings of one that you love, realizing that the things we cling to in this life, really do not matter. We are just passing through, and the only things we can take with us to heaven are the people whose lives we touch by sharing the love of Jesus. I know this may not be a popular or uplifting thought to some. But, it is true. And the tangible knowledge of this truth is really working it’s way into my heart.

While we were there, I tried not to remember all the Christmas mornings we laughed together in the front room, the times I checked my reflection in the full length closet mirror before a date, laughing on the edge of my bed with my best friend Nicki, swimming in the back yard pool back when I could still swim faster than my little brothers, laughing with my own kids in the same pool. My heart aches with the memories. But, as we loaded her items into our truck, I willed my heart to be numb and shook each memory from my mind, even as I felt them squeezing my heart.

I remember the first time I walked through mom’s house alone after she passed. It struck me, all the little touches of “her”. A woman’s house is filled with her touches….she pours her heart into making her home a lovely haven. And, her signature is all over it. I never once walked into her house, since she has gone home to heaven, and didn’t for just a moment expect to see her laying on her beloved couch…followed by the heart breaking disappointment that she wasn’t there, that she would never be there again. And, now…it is likely that I will never walk into that house again. It may seem silly, but sometimes when her house was still there…it was as if a piece of her was still with us. I’m still sorting through the emotion of the idea that someone else will be in my mother’s house…that when we go on a bike ride and check on her lilac bush, it will no longer be her lilac bush. Every rock that she and my grandfather placed in the landscaping around her house…and the mailbox she was so proud of…no longer hers. The driveway where she swung me in the air with joy as I told her I was expecting twins. Someone else’s car will be parked there. Why does it feel like I’m saying goodbye all over again?

And, why do I feel the strong sense that we are just passing through…that the things I treasure (actually there are few earthly “things” that I treasure) will someday, at best be just a faint reminder that I once walked this earth…and at worst a burden of clutter to my children who will wonder what to do with it all…and most likely a little of both? Maybe this is why I’m not inclined to be a collector of things…and now even less so.

O.K….enough of my cleansing melancholy….so sorry to have taken you all there. God is working it all out in my heart…it’s just fresh right now, and working through these matters takes time. The nitty gritty stuff of life is not something we can tie into a neat bow and wrap up in a little blog post.

So…in other news…

For those that are not local, please pray for the upcoming Sufficient Grace events…

And, for those that are local, please consider attending and/or supporting this month’s festivities.

October 5th ~ Speaking at Napoleon Church of the Nazarene Women’s Ministry

I will be sharing our family’s journey of God’s sufficient grace and presenting about Sufficient Grace Ministries at the Napoleon Church of the Nazarene on Tuesday October 5, 2010 at 6:30pm. All ladies are invited. I believe there is a small entry fee (just a few dollars). Come for an evening of encouragement, food, and some fun thrown in, as well!

Fundraiser hosted by the Napoleon Church of the Nazarene Women’s Ministry

The Napoleon Church of the Nazarene is hosting a fundraiser to support the Food Pantry and Sufficient Grace Ministries. On October 15th and 16th, a photographer will be doing children’s photo sessions. The pictures will be antique black and white with a splash of color. Special, fun antique clothing is provided for kids up to age 16. Cost is only $10 and you get a coupon for a free 10 x 13. You may order more pictures, but you are under no obligation to do so. You may sign up with either Kelly Gerken or Teresa Brown by October 9th. Times available are 10am-8:15m both days. List several options when you sign up so that we can find a time that works for you. This sounds like a fun way to get adorable pictures of your children and support two wonderful local ministries. I hope to see you there!

Please email me if you have questions.

I will be announcing some upcoming events to commemorate Pregnancy Loss/Remembrance Month soon. Also, please take a few minutes to encourage and pray for this week’s Walking With You mamas. Thank you so much for those of you who are still reading!

Love to all…

Goodbye Summer…It’s Been a Great Ride

School is underway, which also means that I am back to work. Adjusting to a new schedule and routine is not one of my strengths, I’ll admit. While I most certainly enjoy and appreciate my job working with special needs students at the elementary school, it is hard to let go of the sweet freedom and light-hearted fun of summer. My boys are also lovers of the good times of summer, which leaves the three of us in serious “transition mode”. No more afternoon naps, impromptu swims at Grandmas, running barefoot with the neighbor boy (James…not me!), late morning snacks, reading on a blanket in the yard after an afternoon bike ride to the library….sigh. It’s so hard to say good-bye to three months of Saturdays and the sweetness of summer. Until next year…that is.

So…please bear with me, if it seems like I’m slacking a little right now. A couple more balls have been thrown into our juggling act, and it may take us a little bit to get our balance and rhythm!

Since I’m kind of missing summer, it seems a few summer-reminiscent pictures are in order!

James did an awesome job on his first canoe trip…

The Tims…who definitely had the upper hand in our splash fight!

My friend, Tracy and I in front of The Gerken “Cozy Cabin”…

James with Tracy’s son Aidan thoroughly enjoying the bunk bed…

Not pictured is the infamous go-kart wreck between both Tims and James. They were laughing so hard in the pics, but they are dark and somewhat blurry. So I wasn’t able to share them here. It was such a great time of refreshment and fun for our family, though. Much needed!

A taste of my favorite place…


When I step on to the golf course, I feel the peace and serenity wash over me. The beauty never fails to catch my breath as I stand atop the hill and behold the shades of green, inhaling the fresh air, feeling the breeze caress my cheek…inviting me to stay awhile. I am captivated by the pristine surroundings…drawn in to drink of the splendor as I leave behind the cares of this world for just a little while.

Golf isn’t over, of course…even though the lazy pace of summer has passed for another year. Many afternoons, you can find me here, cheering on the golf team and soaking in the serenity of my favorite place. I am enjoying watching Timothy as high school golf season is well on its way…

————-

We ended the summer with a performance by our band, One Way, at the Corn City Festival last weekend. Unfortunately, it rained…and rained…and rained some more. Other than a few die hard fans (consisting of mostly family and a few good friends…as well as some passerby who huddled under tents and shelter houses to listen…) our crowd was pretty small. We still had a really great time, and it seemed to be a blessing to those who did brave the conditions to come out. I really love the boys from One Way (especially the guitar player…He’s pretty cute!), and I’m so grateful for all the time they put into preparing for our little performances. It’s such a blessing, and also a lot of fun to serve the Lord with these dear friends.

Singing in the rain…



I wish I had some pictures to share of James with his friend, Clayton. They didn’t let the rain slow them down a bit. They took off their shoes and rode the blow up rides, running barefoot in the rain and sliding gleefully down the slides as if they were the only children at a water park! Never mind if it rains on your parade…just let the rain become part of the celebration! They certainly did… =)

O.K….that’s enough summer memories for now…sniff. Just wanted to leave you with a reminder that we are still featuring blogs and stories of grieving moms on Walking With You each Monday. Please take some time on Mondays to encourage and pray for these families. (The post is usually up by late in the day Monday…you know…I’m juggling!)