Saturday, April 25, 2009

Cake Wrecks



I just had to post about this website, Cake Wrecks in case you've missed it. You have to check it out if you need a good laugh. I came across it a while ago and I always go to it when I need a really good laugh. It is one of those things that I know will certainly bring tears to my eyes and probably stomach cramps from laughing.  I've been laughing a lot tonight.  The Easter ones are funny, the Easter Egg one that was brought to you by the letters. . .

The writer of this blog is such a hoot, I wish I was that funny. Some of these cakes are so awful, honestly, who would pay for them? My all time favorite is this one that says, well, just check it out:






Here's what Jen says on her blog about her cake:
"...And underneath that, write 'We will miss you'. Got it?"

Oh yeah, they got it. 


This just does me in.  I can imagine the phone call, writing it all down and someone putting this on the cake.  It cracks me up every time.  Jim will look over at me and just shake his head.  At first he wondered why tears were flowing down my cheeks, my belly was jiggling and the chair was shaking.  He still doesn't quite get why this site makes me laugh so much, but it just does.  I must confess that I'm almost afraid to make my boys' cakes now. Although my sister reassures me that Cake Wrecks is about PROFESSIONAL cake decorators so I have nothing to worry about.  Still, how do these people consider themselves professional?  Does working at the bakery at Walmart make one a professional cake decorator?  Hmm, a new job calling?  

So, if you're a bit bored or down and in need of a good laugh and can appreciate some unusual humor, head on over to http://cakewrecks.blogspot.com/ and enjoy!

Friday, April 24, 2009

GeeGee's Funeral

We traveled to Orangeburg, SC Tuesday night for my Grandmother's  (or GeeGee as the boys call her) funeral.  When I was little and my parents said we were going to Orangeburg I would envision an orange city.  I don't know how old I was when I realized this wasn't going to happen, but I was quite devastated.  For what I can remember, my Grandmother has always lived in Columbia, SC. But my mom was born and raised in Orangeburg. GeeGee didn't move away until she remarried.  

Anyway, in telling the boys we were going to Orangeburg, I could almost see Nathan's brain envisioning the same orange town I had envisioned as a child.  Should I go ahead and burst his bubble or let him dream up a really cool place? Well, the realist in me told him on the way that Orangeburg is like any other town and I don't know why it's named Orange-burg.  It used to have orange patrol cars, but they are even gone now.  Perhaps a better mother would have researched the history of the town's name, but I was running on empty by this point so I just went with the facts.  He was okay with it.  

We were blessed to get to the big O town just as my parents were heading back to my uncle's in Columbia for the day so we had dinner with them. My mom is hurting but knows that GeeGee is so much better off now.  It's always so much harder for those of us left behind.  We're so selfish that we want our loved ones here.  It's not a bad selfishness, it's just a simple fact of who we are as humans.  It never gets easier-you want to pick up the phone to check in on them or as my mom said today to ask about a recipe from long ago.  Jim wants to ask his dad about sports things and I want to talk to his mom about HSP and how she handled her son having it.  Those are things that make losing someone hard.  My mom pretty much collapsed in my arms when we got there and I just held her as she told story after story and showed pictures of GeeGee and of my grandfather who's been gone  almost 45 years.  Oddly enough, there's a bit of a resemblance there-my sisters like to tease me that I don't look like any ONE of our relatives, I'm a great melting pot of all of them.  

After dinner we stayed at a great, brand new (less than a month open) Best Western.  Sounds great, huh?  Enter Brady's allergies to new carpet (coughing all night even with allergy meds), Nathan grinds his teeth in his sleep and Jim snores and my anxiety over seeing family = no sleep for me. After breakfast the boys along with Candi's family decide to take a swim in the indoor pool.  Now, when I say indoor, most of you think heated, right? Well, one toe in said NO! My brother in law (whom I adore) said before the one toe entered, "Oh, the water feels great."  I'm guessing he was talking about the texture and not the temperature!!!  If you'll remember my boys jumped in the Atlantic in March, do you think a cold pool stopped them? Nope, but Candi, Tate and I were sidelined.  Then I voted for warm baths and getting ready.

My mom told me something today that was one of the sweetest things she's said.  My uncle asked why she was heading to the funeral so early Wednesday morning.  She said she wasn't going there, she was coming to the hotel to be with her grandchildren because she knew they would put her in a good mood and make her laugh.  Well, if that isn't an answer to our prayers I don't know what is.  We prayed for something of this level, that she would see what her grandchildren should mean to her and I think she did.  I need to focus on that more if she brings it up again.

At the funeral home, Nathan went in to see GeeGee in the casket.  He reached right in, held her hands and rubbed her face.  He even flattened her hair!!!!  Now, my Grandmother has always used about a can of Aqua Net a day so it was amazing to even see her hair move.  I guess they figured she wouldn't need that much in a casket.  So there I was having to primp her hair back up like they had it.  But the tender touch he had for her was priceless.  Then he grabbed Brady and showed her to him.  Then Brady grabbed Sarah.  It was quite a procession of great grandchildren for GeeGee.  At the end of the service we all walked by her to tell her goodbye.  Nathan held my mom's hand and was a great help to her.  Brady looked at her and said, "Goodbye GeeGee, I love you." And blew her a kiss.  We were the last ones in line.  

At the gravesite, a few words were said before someone sang Amazing Grace.  Nathan's been singing that for a long time now.  He knows it all, he doesn't stop at the first stanza.  When he hears it there's no stopping him. I whispered in his ear that it was okay if he wanted to sing.  So he did, all of it.  The entire front row turned around to listen to him.  I feel bad for the person actually singing it.  There were a few extra tears because a four year old was singing Amazing Grace.  I love that Nathan loves that song and holds it in his heart.  For a few months I had to sing it to him every night before bed.  But it's been about six months since I've done that and he was able to "belt" it out!  I'm proud of him for singing it for GeeGee.  

Mom said today that Grandma thought none of us, including her children, grandchildren and greats could ever do wrong.  I don't know if I believe that because I remember having some conversations with her when her mind was very strong about some things.  But whether we could do no wrong or whether she loved us are two different things.  I know she loved us with a fullness I don't think I ever understood.  I think that distance is a terrible thing for family members and people you love.  I think, no, I know I would have loved to have had the chance to have had a grandmother in the sense many people do.  I know she wanted more from us than we gave her and for that I am deeply sorry.  I don't know how much people get to hear when they're in heaven, but I pray she knows how sorry I am for that. For being in my own world and not doing more to be part of hers.  I pray that as much as I want this to be used for my mom I want it to be used for me and my relationships with others.  

We started a new series the day GeeGee died called One Month to Live. A few days before the series I challenged my volunteers to live the dash. You know, the time on your tombstone between your birthday and your going home date.  Ironic that I would be talking about it the very afternoon my Grandmother got called home.  Needless to say my lesson was not inspiring like planned, in fact it was quite a flop.  If nothing else, maybe it got the point across that we really need to live the dash.  That time matters, it's all we've got.  Our son, Harris doesn't even have a dash, just one date to mark his life.  So, are you living your dash?  Are you making your dash count?  Is there something you need to change in your life to make your dash a little deeper, stronger, more meaningful?  Does your dash bring glory to God?  I'm not being harsh on you, these are questions I'm asking myself as I try to fully live the dash.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Greatest Gift

Every night Nathan and I do a Mother and Sons devotional while Jim and Brady do a Father and Sons' one.  It's been our practice for, well, as long as I can remember.  It's got to be my favorite time of the day with Nathan. He's curled up in my lap, tonight all cuddly and sweet smelling after his bath and beyond precious.  Tonight's lesson was Peter's healing the paralytic in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Simply beautiful to read and believe.  If we're brave enough, we can ask God for anything!  He will answer, it may not be the answer we're looking for, but He WILL answer!  

After each lesson I am given questions to ask Nathan.  The first question tonight was "What was the greatest gift you have ever received?"  I'm expecting his answer to be his bike, his leapster, his camera.  Something material or maybe even his brother. But he doesn't even blink an eye or take a breath.  He says, "Jesus."  I become speechless and tearful.  I hold him tighter and don't let go, these are the moments I live for, these are the moments I treasure and praise my God for!

I've made countless mistakes in my life, I've messed up more times than I can count. I've done dumb, thoughtless things.  I've said things that can never be taken back, unintentionally hurt people.  Yes, I've done things that I wish I could take back.  But I serve an awesome God who offers love and grace to me.  He constantly shows me that love and grace through the beautiful gifts of my children.  Jim and I try to impart a love for God in the boys, but in the end, it must all come from their hearts' desires.  It feels like Nathan's heart has been captured.  I pray he allows God to always hold on and never let go.  I pray Nathan never lets go of God's heart for him.  

Right now Brady knows that God loves him the most.  Just ask him who loves him most and he'll tell you God!  You know how hard that is as a parent? To admit that someone else loves your child more than you? Hard, but God does love him more than I ever could.  Never thought it was possible.  But I am second after Him!!! :)

We're heading to Orangeburg, SC tomorrow for my grandmother's funeral, she passed away yesterday afternoon.  Please pray for my family.  I am hopeful God will use this as a time of healing for my family.  

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

EASTER

I  totally didn't get a chance to mention Easter here.   I told you I get so overwhelmed in the empathy stuff.

As we were heading to church we were discussing the HUGE emphasis the world puts on Christmas.  And I truly dislike it.  I mean, if it were all focused on the birth of Jesus, then yeah, let's celebrate.  But, sorry, folks-Santa is not Christmas for me. Same thinking for Easter, what's the deal with the bunny?  I have NEVER understood that.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE bunnies. They're cute and cuddly. I had one for an indoor pet for a while.  I love decorative bunnies that can be left out year round (no pastels).  I acquired that love from Donna Wester.  I adore her bunnies.  Anyway, I think I need to do some research into the whole bunny thing.  

EASTER is about a risen Christ who died an excruciating death for my sins.  His Father (mine, too) offered him as a living sacrifice so that I could live, so that my sins could be forgiven.  So that I could have a relationship with Him.  I don't see a bunny in there.  I see pain and suffering so I can be free.  Free and filled with hope, love and grace.  Oh, beautiful sweet grace!

I don't see the world putting a bigger emphasis on the birth of Jesus or his death. I do see our family putting a bigger emphasis on it.  We made Resurrection Cookies again this year.  It was our best year yet and I have hope that each year will get better as the boys understand more and more.  Nathan got a very good understanding this year when he tasted the vinegar.  He didn't want to at first, but then said, "If Jesus can do it, then so can I."  All I could hear in my head were the lyrics, "I want to be more like Him because he wants to be more like me."  How badly do I want to be more like Jesus so my children will be more like Him and want to serve Him?  I pray to be a mom worthy of my boys...

Easter-no bunny.  A cross, a vividly painful reminder of a beautiful sacrifice for my sins.  What's your Easter?

Holy Empathy!

So when I got my awesome amazing job at St. Mark's the first thing Jarm asked me to do (actually before I knew I even had the job) was to take this strength's finder's test.  Whoa, me, a test?  I totally FREAK when I hear the word test.  I mean, FREAK!  DMV be warned, I am amazed I have a license because I seriously get so freaked out about having to take a test.  Anyway, imagine how freaked out I was about a test for a potential job.  I take the test freakishly and end up with my results.  One of my strengths/curses is empathy.  Webster defines empathy as "the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner ; also : the capacity for this."  Yep, I passed that test.  This explains why my heart aches for people so much and hopefully explains why I can so easily tear up about events or situations.  

Right now, my parents are in SC with my grandmother.  Some of you know that my family defines dysfunctional in all caps, look for our picture in your dictionary.  Probably one of the reasons I put my boys on top of just about everything in my life (after God and Jim).  I don't want them writing about having a dysfunctional family in their blog in a few years! :) Here's where my heartwrenching empathy enters today.  I can most likely count on my extremities the number of times I remember having seen my grandmother in my 31 years of living.  In the past two years she's been living in an assisted living home.  We received a call two years ago that she had been given three months to live due to liver disease.  We all went down there to essentially say our goodbyes.  That was two years ago.  I made a conscious effort to call my grandmother every Wednesday on my way home from work.  When you don't have a relationship with someone, that's challenging. We would talk about the weather, the boys and how she was feeling.  After about a year of calling, she either stopped answering or was asleep or just not there.  I'll shamefully admit that I stopped calling weekly.  What was the point in trying to establish a relationship after 30 years?  Now here we are to today when I got the call from my mom that Grandma was in a coma and to not get worked up about it until she got down there and figured everything out.  Alrighty then.  So I waited until Daddy called me tonight.  She's out of the coma, but is unresponsive and is making sounds constantly.  She's now in Hospice care at a Hospice Hospital.  My mom got on the phone and she is heartbroken.  My mom and I have not had a great relationship for the past few months, but for some reason I am the daughter she reached out to today.  Does she know about my empathy curse?  She just stabbed it.  I can hear the pain in my mom's voice and it just about kills me to not jump in the car and drive to SC to be with her despite the lack of relationship I have with my mom or my grandmother.  My heart aches for my dad who is there trying to support my mom in her suffering while I bombard him with questions about my grandmother's care he can't answer.  I want to fix everything for everyone and I can't and my heart physically hurts.  I hurt because I long for a relationship with my grandmother like other people have and I long for relationship with my mom and a relationship for my boys to have with her.  I pray that God will use this hurt for good.  That He will allow my sisters and me to be courageous enough to speak up and ask for a better relationship, if not for us, for our children.  I know God uses our hurts for His good.  

My empathy is overwhelming at times and right now it has taken over.  It's even hard to pray when this happens and that's exactly what I should be doing!  There are so many of my friends and family who are hurting right now.  I'll ask if you're reading this to please pray for these people:

Sarah Browder-my grandmother, may God take her home soon to help her find peace
Frances Tucker-amazing grandmother to my niece and nephew courageously battling cancer again
Julia Scavo-sweet girl with Wilms tumor just beginning chemo
Jim Russell-cancer is shrinking (met his wife through SPF!)
Caroline Brower-pneumonia after lots of other infections
John Clark-grandmother passed away
Andy Lamb-MRI scheduled for tomorrow for back pain, PTL he returned safely from mission trip overseas

My list could go on, but these are situations that are happening right now.  I think I'll keep prayer requests on here.  It always helps to know you're praying, too!

On a much lighter note-Brady is changing his name to "SOUP."  If you ask him something and he doesn't know the answer or he wants to be silly his response is soup.  So in the spirit of silliness, I asked him if he wanted to change his name to Soup and he said yes.  That little bugger is the funniest thing, if you're in need of a laugh, stop by.  You're guaranteed one with him.  He's also renamed his knees "freckles."  This is all my fault because he has the cutest freckles on his knees that I always ask him what they are and he says freckles so cutely.  I guess he thought I was calling his knees freckles.  He's got adorable freckles that spring up on his nose, too!  What a cutie!  We've got some work to do with that!! :)  

I was brought to tears last week by a shoe box.  I got to work last Monday and found a shoe box from an amazing couple on my desk.  Inside were a pair of cleats for Nathan.  I had told her Nathan's soccer story and she is so awesome (you wouldn't believe how awesome this couple is, really, unbelievably awesome) she bought him cleats.  I don't know why we didn't-ignorance, doubt, cheapskates?  I don't know, but if anyone had been at my house when I came home from work to go to Nathan's soccer game Monday night you would have bought him cleats (or clunks as he first called them), too.  My child is precious to me.  Here's his story that prompted the gift of cleats:

Coming home from Nathan's third soccer game Nathan asked us if he could get some of those shoes like some of the other kids were wearing.  Hmm, what a blow.  We knew it was coming at some point.  Nathan and Brady and Jim have Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (http://sp-foundation.org/).  This makes moving from their hips down a bit different from the rest of us.  In talking with his physical therapist, we decided this season (his first) we would keep his AFOs (leg braces) on and wear his normal shoes that go with them.  I have to tell you that when he was sitting on the bench for some of the first game, one of his teammates looked at his AFOs and said, "I need some shinguards like those."  Cool!  Of course, they're only four!  Four year old soccer is a bunch of kids running after the ball maybe towards the net, maybe not.  Nathan was smiling the entire time he was on the field, even though he was often way behind his teammates or on the ground.  It was fun to watch.  Back to his question.  

Me: "Well, Nathan, you only have a few more games left.  How about next season we get you some?"
N: "I think I wouldn't fall as much if I had them, the other kids don't fall as much."
OUCH!  Yep, folks, my heart split in two.  I am so thankful to have been in the front seat where he wasn't watching me!  
Jim: "Cleats are hard to run in buddy, even I have a hard time in them.  Next season okay, then it won't be as hard because you'll be older and you won't fall as much."
Hmm, not the answer I would have gone after, but okay.  It appeased him.  

Next game, Saturday morning, I'm dressing him.  
N: "Mom, do you think we have time before the game to go to the store to get some of those other shoes?  You know, the ones like the other kids?"
Me: "Honestly buddy, you know we are almost never on time for anything and today is picture day.  So no,  we don't have time."
N: "Okay."
Knife inserted into heart and twisted just a bit more.

Then Monday I get to work to find a box with brand new cleats in his size that fit perfectly with his AFOs, a rare feat, trust me!!  That in itself is next to impossible.  I am so blessed and my child was so happy.  He was practically floating on the field.  Did he fall any more or any less?  Just about the same.  Did it matter?  No, it was priceless for him to feel normal.  Why didn't we think to do that?  When did he start growing up and realizing these things?  It will be way too soon that he'll start realizing he doesn't walk like others and he doesn't run as fast and that the ground meets his face more than others.  I want to keep his innocence as long as I can.  But I know I can't.  THAT breaks my heart.  Yet I know his heart and I know who God is making him to be and I'm so thankful for that.  I also know that we are blessed with two incredible little men God has loaned to us for a while.  I only pray He guides me along the way, it's been awesome so far!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Where to start?

When starting a blog, where do you start?  With what happened today or with what got you where you are, why you're even blogging?  I'll start there and we'll see where that leads me.  

I thought I would blog about my personal journey this year to develop the fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faith, self-control.  This is only done by spending more time with our Father, it's the work of the Holy Spirit in us.  As much as my family will appreciate the benefits of this, you guys may not enjoy reading about it as much!

So my next journey is about my struggles with my weight and self image and my current attempt at weight loss.  Our recent series with our students has been titled "Scarred."  We asked our students to share how they've been scarred and I was too ashamed/embarrassed/afraid to share mine, so why not now?!  Growing up I was always bigger than my older sisters.  This was nice at first because it had its advantages, but then my parents would make comments about my weight.  Even saying I could be so much prettier if I just lost some of that weight and making beeping noises when I backed up.  This doesn't help anyone.  I also dated someone who was harsh on me about my weight and what I ate.  He was very cruel about every bit of food I put in my mouth.  This kind of abuse caused me to feel worse about myself.  So my self image has been brutally scarred.  Even marrying an incredible man who could care less what the scale says has not healed those scars.  So after having three amazing children in three years, my body is under attack-by me!  I'm determined to treat my body as the sanctuary God made it to be.  He loves this body He created and wants me to love it to.  So my goals are to lose weight in a healthy way and love my body along the way.  Just writing this has been helpful in healing that scar.  Thanks!

But my main reason for starting a blog is to share about the most amazing gifts I have received, Nathan and Brady.  I am constantly humbled that God would trust me to care for His children for a while.  I feel so inadequate and incapable and when I do, I pray for His guidance and praise Him for putting some truly incredible people in my life to help me along this journey of motherhood.  

Five years ago Jim and I were a broken couple.  We were struggling to find hope.  We knew it was out there and we had the promise of it from our Father, but sometimes, it's so hard to know it.   
Lamentations 3:21-25 says "and therefore I have hope. Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him."  The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him to the one who seeks Him."  

He is good, so good because it was five years ago that I was writing letters letting our friends know we were going to be expecting another miracle in December.  Our hearts were still broken after Harris died.  Part of our hearts will always be missing, but God gave us hope.  He gave us Nathan and Brady and I cannot imagine what life was like before them and I never want to know a day without them.

They are amazing children.  They are what this blog will be about-with the exception of living my life for God and being Jim's wife, they are what my life is about.  Not my struggles, I'm a pretty boring person.  But my children, my gifts from God who are truly inspiring.  Don't get me wrong, you'll catch a glimpse of my life and the joy I get from being their mom and from doing what I get paid to do (hate calling it work because I LOVE it).  

Well, l think this is a good place to start.  If you're reading this and I don't post again soon, let me know about it!!!  :)