Thursday, August 27, 2009

Green pastures

"The Lord is like a shepherd to me.
A shepherd takes care of his sheep.
The Lord takes care of me.
He give me everything I need.
He gives me nice places to rest and good water to drink.
He helps me to be strong.
He helps me do the right things.
Even when something sad happens, I am not afraid.
I know the Lord will be with me.
The Lord makes me strong when I face my enemies.
He honors me.
He gives me more than I need.
I know God will love me all my life.
And I will live with Him forever."

There's your easy button, folks. This came from The International Children's Story Bible by Word Publishing. The boys have gotten quite a collection of Bibles going and love to hand me a different one each day to pull from. Each scripture has an illustration from a child from somewhere on the globe. It's adorable. I opened this version today and my hands went to this page. Exactly what I needed to hear and in these simple words. No green pastures or still waters, but a nice place to rest & water to drink. That's about all this spent mind and heart can accept so my God knows exactly what to offer. How grateful am I to have Him and to have two children to hand me exactly what I need when I need it?! Thank you God for my immeasurable gifts now and always.

"With everything you know about Heaven

would you want them back?" ~ Tony Dungee  

Yes, in a selfish heartbeat I would.  But then I think about how awesome Heaven is and no, sweet baby, enjoy Heaven, I'll be there one day.  We'll all be there together for eternity.  This life here is short, so short compared to where you are.

I wish I could write with something witty or fun or happy since I know my last post wasn't.  Of  course there have been some fun times here, I have two amazing kids.  But I am heavily burdened by recent news and I've learned that by getting it out (unfortunately to you who read this) I am eased somewhat by that burden.

My sister called me yesterday afternoon, you know the first day of school I was dreading, to give me some awful news.  I knew it was bad when I realized my sister, Candi, was calling me in the middle of the first day of school.  At first I thought, is it our other sister, our parents, her husband or children?  No, her best friend, Lindsay's four month old son, Ayden, died in his sleep while at daycare.  Lindsay and her husband, Jeremy, are both teachers so they were having their first day of school, too.  I know they will never have a first day of school again without remembering this one.  They got a call from the sitter that Ayden wouldn't wake up, she had called 911 and they couldn't help him.  FOUR months old.  Here's where you say I can't imagine and honestly I can't.  I can't imagine having my sons for four months, four years, forever and losing them.  I had Harris for 9 months, sent him to Heaven and haven't been the same person since.  Yet I cannot imagine completely what Lindsay and Jeremy are going through.  My sister asked for advice, what to say.  I said not to say anything.  You wouldn't believe some of the things people will say thinking they mean well not realizing how hurtful they are.  Hugs and simply being there, talking about him are the greatest gifts.  I've only met them once, just before Lindsay had Ayden.  We were at my niece's 3rd birthday party, she was so ready and excited to have him.  She is such a sweet person.  

My sister is absolutely crushed.  I cry out to God in pain, "How often does one person have to suffer?  And why so much at once?"  My sister is so strong, so amazing, so loving, so giving and one of the greatest people I know.  That's why I'm asking God why she's having to suffer and be in death's face so much.  One of the things I vividly remember from Harris' death (thankfully I'm very forgetful so some things I've forgotten other things I remember as if they happen yesterday) is the faces of our family and friends when they came to visit.  Candi's is one of those faces that will not escape my memory.  The heartache she suffered for me, my loss and her loss of a nephew, too, was unbearable and clearly visible in her beautiful eyes.  She drove so quickly from Henderson to Burlington and hardly ever left my side.  There were so many things she did for me.  So many things I cannot even tell you about because I wasn't even aware of them.  She took note of every person who visited, everything they brought, wrote thank you notes, handled just about every detail of the funeral-all while grieving.  On the day of his funeral she fixed my hair for me, it was one of those things I simply couldn't do for myself.  She took great care of me when I couldn't take care of myself.  She wasn't alone in caring for me, there were countless others and hordes praying for us.  But right now, Candi has been through so much.  Two months ago today Ma Tuck went to heaven followed by Mr. Tucker's brother the next week.  Then Candi's big old cat.  Please pray for Lindsay and Jeremy.  Please pray for my sister Candi as she takes care of her friend.  

I serve a big, mighty, awesome God.  He promises to never leave us, nor forsake us.  He reminds us to not be afraid for He is with us.  He gives us eternal HOPE.  I hold onto Him during these times, I cry out to Him in anger and frustration-He can handle it.  I praise Him still for my gifts from God, for the thousands of blessings He pours out on my life.  I hold onto the HOPE that can only come from HIM.  

He offered that reminder of His promises and His hope for my life today when I got a text from Sarah (aka Fafa) Apel.  She was our Angel Nurse when Harris was born.  She took such great care of us.  She even came to his funeral.  We became great friends.  When Nathan & Brady were born she was such a big part of their births and has been a part of their lives ever since.  Her text this morning "We're in labor!  Will text back when he makes his grand entrance!!" at 9:44 am.  I started praying.  Then I realized I was still mad at God.  You know how when you're mad at someone you don't want to ask them for something?  That's how I was.  I told God that.  That I needed to talk to Him about Fafa & baby Will but I was a still upset about Ayden.  I know He's upset about Ayden, too, but sometimes the one-sided conversations with God are difficult.  I asked Nathan to pray for Fafa and baby Will.  It was the sweetest thing in the world.  I got a picture text at 2:33pm with a sweet Will being held by his beautiful mommy.  God is good, guys.  God offers hope.  God is good all the time.  I pray Fafa and Josh are resting peacefully with baby Will tonight.



I pray Lindsay and Jeremy are finding comfort in their Father's hands and in the loving arms of those closest to them.  

Thanks for letting me share my heart's burdens.  Thank you for praying for these people-Lindsay, Jeremy, Candi, Josh, Sarah and baby Will.  May God be with each of you and may you hold your gfGs a little tighter.

gfG=gifts from God, mine are Nathan, Brady and Jim

Here's a video from the Celebration for baby Ayden-have your tissues and someone to hug handy:

Friday, August 21, 2009

Should be

preparing to send our first son to kindergarten this year.  A few years ago I knew this year was coming and mentally prepared myself for it.  Then I "forgot."  Harris' 5th birthday rolled around and like each birthday it's the most painful day of my life.  Every year, January 14-excruciatingly painful.  No matter how hard I try to not let it be.  Each year I say it's so hard because he would be doing this, should be doing this.  This year, in a few days, he would be going to kindergarten.  It nailed me about two weeks ago in Petsmart.  It's one of those things that will grab you by the throat and won't let go.  It's not as if a day goes by I don't think of Harris, it's just many days I envision him in Heaven with God and so many of our other loved ones that I know he's in a much much better place so I don't get slammed so hard.  I ran into the teacher who graciously took my classroom when I had Nathan.  If you haven't seen Nathan or don't know him, he's larger than life.  And I mean that in several ways.  But for this reference I mean, taller than your average four year old.  Liz said, "So, you're heading to kindergarten this fall?"  BAM!  Each time I get nailed by the reminder I can honestly feel the light in my eyes dimming.  I'm sure others can't see it, but I feel myself shutting down.  Liz probably thought I was blowing her off or being rude or just an idiot, but I simply said in rapid speed, "No, Nathan's heading to preschool at SMC.  We're very excited, he can't wait.  I've got to go.  Great running into you.  You look fabulous.  Have a great year." Then I came home and was pretty much useless for the rest of the day.  

Jim's learned in five and a half years (gulp) that I'm having a Harris moment/day/week/month and I need space/love/cuddling/chocolate/not to cook/to bake, whatever it takes to get me through it.  However most of the time neither of us knows how to get me through it other than time, the love of each other, our precious boys here on earth and tons of praying.  We normally wait until the boys are asleep to talk about.  The boys know all about their special angel.  Nathan knows that chances are if Mommy's sad it's because she's missing Harris.  He's so great about giving me the pep talk: "Mommy, Harris is with God, I know you miss him, I miss him, too.  But he's having a good time with God and we'll see him one day.  I love you, Mommy."  Followed by lots of love.  Brady's version: "Mommy, why are you crying?"  Then attacking me in some form!  But we avoid talking about him when I've been nailed because we don't want them to feel any more oppressed about it.  I can remember that feeling as a child-the entire month of December was awful at my house and we try so very hard to not do that in January for the boys.  

Anyway, on this night, we get in bed and Jim asks me how I'm doing.  I lose it.  I tell him we are supposed to be getting ready for school, buying gobs and gobs of school supplies (I cannot wait for this, I LOVE new school supplies-I think that's one of the reasons I became a teacher), new clothes, meeting the teacher, and preparing to send our first child to school.  This is where Jim and I truly speak pink and blue.  That was a message Bob did in the fall-men speak blue, women speak pink; finding violet is so hard sometimes!  Maybe it's not even pink and blue, maybe it's just me.  He doesn't think about what all could have been, he doesn't allow himself to.  Meanwhile I'm running into people or reading facebook posts about people sending their kids to kindergarten and becoming a mess right before their eyes.  Part of me is insanely jealous of Jim's ability to do what he does with his emotions, however, there's something in me that's not willing to let the "should be" go.  Since Harris and Nathan are only 11 months apart I can easily know that the class before Nathan's would be his class, those kids have their license, so should he, those kids are going to prom, so should he. 

Our first son should be going to kindergarten Tuesday, instead he's dancing with angels.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

mine, Mine, MINE

Finding Nemo made those words cutely popular in 2003.  My family and I jokingly say them when one of us gets a case of the gimmies.  However, this week I do not want to share.  I have pinkeye for the first time in my life.  It's painful and annoying and oh so bothersome.  I've had some eye problems before.  I had a Chalazion in the 4th grade that had to be surgically removed (not fun, mom passed out watching it!).  I've had a few styes.  I wear contacts, I consider myself almost blind without some sort of eyewear.  Don't ask me to see anything without light, darkness and I are not friends. I'm not afraid of it, I just cannot see!  Eye problems don't bother me.  However, as my sister said, "Those are some mighty big eyes to be pink."  Gotta love her!

I do not want to share my germiness with my family so I'm screaming MINE, MINE, MINE to my boys to keep my germs to myself.  I'm keeping them at arms length to avoid contact at all costs knowing how wildly contagious this mess is.  Nathan's got it perfectly under control, even drawing pictures of me with one eye stuck closed and the other open.  Brady, on the other hand, still wants to cuddle and be kissed and loved on.  It's only been a full two days, but my arms ache with longing to hold and cuddle my gifts from God.  It's one thing to be away on a trip or be pestered to pieces and need a break.  It's another to be in the same room and want to hold them or for them to want to hold me and know that doing so could jeopardize their health.  

Last night we were supposed to join Jim's link group on a trip to a Greensboro Grasshoppers game.  Nathan was so excited about going until I told him we wouldn't be going because I didn't want to give my germs to all the people there.  That was one heartbroken little guy.  We've promised him we'll go next week (let's hope no one else gets this)!  If anyone wants to join us, we've been gifted lots of free lawn seats, so let us know.  

Today I was supposed to go to a retirement luncheon for a dear lady at work.  I sadly had to decline to avoid getting anyone else sick.  Yes, I'm pouty about missing out on all these fun things!

BUT, I remember a facebook post from a friend just last week who was feeling under the weather.  She said, "not feeling very well! However, when I don't feel good....I just think about all those people around me that are having much serious health issuses and suddenly my problem is sooo small. Thank you Lord for overall good health! I am so thankful!"  What a beautiful reminder of all I do have to be thankful for.  Oddly enough Saturday night I was sitting at church during announcements thinking of this sore throat I've had for a few days and started thanking God for keeping me healthy.  Our entire family has been blessed with good health the past few years, very few colds and now just this.  That's pretty good considering we've got two little people and I work with lots of youth! Preschool's coming, I know! :) Like my friend's post I was thinking about others who suffer regularly with pain or serious medical conditions.  I thought of this family, http://www.littlepapiandpunkin.blogspot.com/.  Sweet Julia is fighting for her life, battling ugly cancer.  We went to Westover with this family.  Their son Carter was born a few weeks before Harris.  Mom Amber is a super mom, really, one of those moms you wonder if she ever sleeps because she's able to do so much.  She runs circles around me and always has, I'll admit to being wickedly jealous of her.  And now her sweet Julia is being attacked by cancer and here I am whining about pinkeye.  If you have some extra time, read about Julia-read a bit of the before cancer to see how their life was (how super mom Amber was then and still is now!) and how the ugliness of cancer has changed their life.  But read carefully to see how GOD has held them carefully in the palm of His hand and never let them go.  He will never leave you nor forsake you.  This family knew that before and is a testiment to that now.  Check out that beautiful new beach picture, too.  Julia used to have these adorable curls, now, well, you'll see.

Friday, August 14, 2009

WE

That's our new series title for Crossings.  I cannot wait to begin my third year with the most amazing group of students and volunteers.  Something almost magical happens when you walk into Reformation Hall that changes you, well, at least me.  My heart is opened to God's calling and I want to be more like Him, I want to serve Him and I get to do that every Sunday night.  I'm so blessed that I get to be a part of something so incredibly awesome and call it work!  

I don't think I'm giving too much away for Crossings folks with this post because you know Jarm and the team will make it so awesome that what I have to say will be a vague memory by September 13th!!!  But that's not what this post is about.  

The series, WE.  Conjures up lots of things with two little letters, doesn't it.  When I first opened up the series I thought about when Jim and I became a WE.  The real WE, not the dating WE or the engaged WE, but the November 17th WE.  The Shea giggling down the aisle, Jim losing his breath, most magical day of our lives WE.  The day two became WE-one.  That WE led into the next WE thought where we've carried each other through some of the most difficult times a WE should have to carry.  Jim's sweet dad went to Heaven the April after we became WE.  After waking up from surgery and hearing our doctor tell us about Harris I looked up at Jim and said WE're still together.  Three years ago Jim's mother died suddenly of a heart attack.  My grandmother passed just this April.  WE have carried each other through those heart breaking times.  Then there are those other times where WE've thrown each other up in the air with excitement and celebration-December 7 and November 21 to be exact!  Our wonderful, prayed for and cherished gifts from God completed our WE.  Our WE has grown and WE are so thankfully blessed.  I have so much, yet I sometimes feel like I'm missing something.  I have God, yet I sometimes feel like I'm missing out on something.

WE.  I am so busy caught up in the ME that I so often forget the WE of other relationships outside of my immediate WE.  Are you following me here?  I am guilty of being self-centered, especially when it comes to my family to the point where I've neglected some really great friends and neglected to make new friends.  This has left me in a sad state that I didn't truly realize until I came across this new series.  I get so wrapped up in what Nathan and Brady are doing or need to do (or what I'm supposed to be doing ) that I can't remember what's going on in your life or your childrens' lives.  Shame on me, I want to be a more caring person.  If you're one of my friends, I apologize for that now.  

This also means that when I have a need (normally just your typical womanly emotional need, nothing drastic, just something a good milkshake or chocolate chip cookie would handle) I don't let others know it since I haven't fully invested time in them I shouldn't allow them to invest time in me.  So I "suffer" alone, actually I make Jim and the boys suffer with me.  That's not healthy for anyone!  God created more than one person, you remember He gave Eve to Adam, so that he wouldn't be lonely or bored or get in trouble-well, I'm not sure that was part of the plan-hope not!  Anyway, those other people God created are for us to have in our lives not just in times of need, but all the time.  Since reviewing the new series I've tried to make a more conscious effort of contacting people or getting in touch with them, but I'm afraid of failing them or letting them down.  That's always one of my fears of anything I do.  I've had the same best friend (outside of Jim) for going on thirteen years (some of you are barely thirteen!!!)  She knows me too well, but she lives too far away!  We'll always be best friends because she knows me too well!  

If you're one of my local friends, please bare with me as I'm trying hard to be a better WE.  I want you in my life, I care about you, I'm thankful God has placed you in my life and let's please try to stay in touch on a regular basis (of course that does normally mean I've either got a monkey or two in tow or may not be able to hear you on the phone!).  If you're a long distance or veteran friend, I'm so thankful God placed you in my life when He did.  He has perfect timing for everything, to mold us and shape us into who we are today.  To my bestest, thank you for always loving me, no matter what-you model God's love beautifully.  Jim, thanks for sharing the WE with me, I wouldn't want to share it with anyone else- I love you toe mush!

If you're reading my blog for the first time, thanks for reading.  I'll try to update more regularly.  It's kinda when the mood strikes, when the laundry's caught up and the creativity's flowing enough to make this interesting enough to read!