Life goes on

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Things have calmed down around here now that the rush of Christmas is over. We had a bit of a stressful holiday, with our washing machine flooding our kitchen 3 days before Christmas. And I had some health issues and a change in some family dynamics that left me  feeling drained emotionally. I was so ready to say goodbye to 2014! Yet I know  that I am not  guaranteed a better year.

However, when we open our hands fully to God, surrendering complete control in all areas, He can send rainbows. Storms  do not last forever! Our first rainbow this year came when a couple at Joey’s office offered us the free use of their  timeshare so we can attend Andrew’s basketball tournament.  An almost completely free family vacation!  Our first!  The kids are so  excited. And the timeshare is in Branson. Woohoo! Joey and I both teared up when this man volunteered his condo.

The second rainbow occurred at the dentist office. An unexpected place for a miracle! I was scheduled to have two cavities filled and was really dreading it. My last experience with that was a complete disaster. As I sat in the dentist chair, the Dr. examined my mouth before administering the anesthesia. He found no evidence of the cavities. So he ordered a set  of x-rays to be taken  and they revealed no cavities either. My teeth were perfectly healthy! The Dr. said very rarely they have problems with x-ray films showing false cavities. But I know this was truly God’s handiwork. When we have faith in God, we can expect supernatural rescues  or  supernatural perseverance through trials (Hebrews 11:32-38.) God confirmed to me that I can trust Him to handle anything! Keep on in the faith! So, slowly my hope is building for the coming year.

School dynamics have changed this week with the addition of a new student.

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Jacob has learned to climb the baby gate. And he wants to stay in the room with us almost the whole time. And I thought the school room was messy before!

I had the kids do an art lesson/project this week. As part of art study, I buy famous artist coloring books and big coffee table books of the author’s works. This year, I introduced them to Monet. I photocopied whichever picture they chose from the coloring book and had them study the corresponding piece in the big book. Then, I had them paint in the style of the artist. I bought really tiny brushes so they could imitate the dots Monet used.

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The end result of their paintings didn’t look much different than when they paint with regular brushes. And that probably has more to do with the media of the paint: tempera vs. oils. But, they did come  away with an appreciation for the perseverance needed to create a masterpiece. Their hands got tired of making dots and they said this method would take them forever!

Also, this week I hung a stained glass in my house. My very talented cousin, Katherine, made this for me in honor of Cora.

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She also put it in the frame. Gorgeous!

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I put this in the schoolroom, which was the only living space room that didn’t have a memento of her. I can also stand at my stove in the kitchen and see this hanging up. I no longer cry often about Cora. But the times  I do seem strange to me.

I visited a doctor’s office this week and the nurse mentioned some health issues last July and said,  “I see they were probably related to hormones.” I knew that in my file was information about the stillbirth. Eventually, we  made some friend connections in town and we talked about people  we both knew who had buried their babies. She never mentioned my situation specifically. Perhaps  she was waiting on me to volunteer the story. But, I didn’t. Maybe I should have. On the way home, I started crying about Cora. Grief can be confusing and unexpected!

Well, I’ll end this post with some  snapshots  of Jacob, taken in about 1 minute time span. He has the most expressive face out of  all my children! The apron he’s wearing was mine when I was a little girl.

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Let there be….

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..Jesus!

The son of God was born at night. God sent Light to the darkness. God sent Light to Mary, in what I’m sure was her scariest hour. I can’t imagine how dark that stable must have been. How smelly. How nauseas I would feel going through labor there. How much I would long for my mother or sister to help me through this. And how relieved I would feel when it was over. How exhausted. And how satisfied. This baby is what I staked my whole  reputation on. And He was worth it. This baby I love. This perfect baby. This normal baby who shines into my heart until I don’t notice the odors and dirty surroundings.

Maybe you’re like me and your Christmas season isn’t all holly and jolly. Perhaps this year it’s pretty dark. Are you struggling to find the light, too? I just have to keep reminding myself that Jesus came at night. Came when everything looked black. He came when no one was smiling, when everyone was exhausted, when tensions were high, when He knew he’d be homeless. And that’s Christmas. He came to make me His home. He came to bring Light to me. He is there everyday, in the darkness, waiting for us to focus on Him until His brightness dims everything around us.

I  love this song.  As I listen to it, I keep reminding myself that all is well in what truly matters.

All is well, all is well
 Angels and men rejoice
 For tonight darkness fell
 Into the dawn of love’s light
 Sing A-le, sing Alleluia

All is well, all is well
 Let there be peace on Earth
 Christ has come go and tell
 That He is in the manger
 Sing A-le, sing Alleluia

All is well, all is well
 Lift up your voice and sing
 Born is now Emmanuel
 Born is our Lord and Savior
 Sing Alleluia, sing Alleluia, all is well.

Our baby is 3!

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We’ve been pretty busy since I last posted. Mainly with school and Andrew’s basketball. We also missed a week of school after Thanksgiving because everyone was recovering from a cold virus.

Here are some Christmas pictures I’ve taken:

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The girls and I went downtown to the Old State House.

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Celia sang a small solo in church.

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We celebrated Jacob’s birthday early (something I don’t like to do when they’re young) simply because I want to spread out the time between birthday and Christmas presents.

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He did great this year with opening presents. And he even managed to share his toys without too many tantrums.

Thomas the train cake.

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He didn’t know what to think when everyone sang.

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But he never has a problem eating dessert!

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Field Trip #3: Hi, ho; Hi, ho…

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…it’s off to dig we go! We finished our study of Arkansas history this week and took a trip to Murfreesboro.

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We surveyed the field

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and chose a spot to dig. Or, just really shovel dirt from side to side.

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After two hours of work, this was our haul.

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Buckets full of rocks. The brown and non-expensive kind. And hopefully they came home with great memories and an appreciation for the only public diamond mine in North America!

Capture Your Grief–Day 19. Give

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Tonight I’ll be taking a meal to a friend who had a death in her family this week. It’s something new for me  to do. Now, I’ve taken meals to others before,but it’s always been part of a group effort. Someone organized  a meal rotation and I took part.  But this time, I took initiative. I didn’t wait for a sign up sheet before I gave. For me, this is a big step. I don’t like going out on my own. But I have learned that part of the way we can comfort the grieving is to voluntarily provide for their needs. Don’t wait, just do it.

I didn’t realize that by volunteering to help them, I would be opening myself  to pain. It was through recalling our first  week after Cora’s death that I realized this friend needed some help. I remember the sheer exhaustion of grieving. I remember almost burning myself on a pot of boiling water. I remember how helpless I felt to  control anything and how grateful I was for those meals. My thoughts were consumed with what I needed  to do in the next few moments; I couldn’t plan even hours ahead. Nothing seemed to matter now that my baby was gone.

It was painful to watch them at church this morning. Attending church was difficult for me after both my losses. While the promise of heaven gives us hope, hearing references to heaven just  reminded me that I was here and my baby was there. It was hard.  And this morning I was again aware of all the references we casually make to life, death and heaven. But in the words from one of my favorite songs,”Pain’s the path to blessing.” Because of the  pain I feel, I can bless others. My pain does have a purpose. Cora’s legacy lives on.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

 

Capture Your Grief–Day 18. Gratitude

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Grief is really about focusing on what you don’t have. We cry because we no longer have that person we love with us. And  I think it’s normal and healthy to grieve. But God doesn’t want us to stay in the shadow of grief. The object of our grief shouldn’t become our life’s focus. Since “every good and perfect gift is from above,” today I will focus on the gifts God gives me each day. Some are serious, some not so much. Here’s an incomplete list, in random order.

1. My children

2.  My husband

3. Family living in town

4. Staying home

5. Being able to read

6. Listening to music

7. Coffee maker

8.  Internet access

9. Kid DVDs

10. A camera

11. Indoor plumbing

12. An insulated house

13. Hygiene products

14. Libraries

15. City, State and National Parks

16. Radar

17. Hospitals

18. Christian doctors

19. Soft bed

20. BSF

21. Flowers

22. Freedom to go to church

23. Electricity

24. my Bible

25. Medicines

26. Baby dolls, stuffed animals, and watching my children mother them

27. Owning a piano

28. Variety in weather

29. Changing seasons

30. A car

31. Mercies new every morning