Wednesday, September 03, 2014

In ten years...

Engagement Photo
Our wedding was supposed to take place on the afternoon of September 4th, 2004, but God had other plans.  Thanks to Hurricane Francis, we had to bump it up to the evening of September 3rd.. and I still have to stop and think about what the correct real date actually is for our wedding. Still. No lie, I was thinking I was going to write this for *tomorrow*. Hurricane Jeanne crashed our make-up reception 3 weeks later..but that's another entry for another day.  

A lot has happened in our lives in 10 years.  One decision you make changes the entire path of your life.  And this is not "Sliding Doors" so there is no way to know what life would have been like "If..."  But here are some of the high & low points that I could recall with my failing mommy brain.

In ten years..
We've spent approximately 140 days at Walt Disney World. Truth.  I love it there and he humors me.  We've visited family in Chicago and Ohio, honeymooned in North Carolina and shortly paused in the states in between.  We were supposed to [finally] go to NYC for our 10th but without mom, childcare is a hurdle. Maybe someday I'll get to "Be a Part of it".  

In ten years..
We took over my teenage home, moved when we bought our own house, changed jobs, lost jobs, liked & hated new jobs, and finally settled into positions we love; John a commercial electrician at a company in Orlando that contracts with Disney and me, a SAHM with a little papercrafting on the side.

In ten years..
I lost one baby at 11 weeks, had a knocked-out emergency C-section with my first delivered child, fought & won for a VBAC on #2 despite great interventions and 2 inductions, and delivered #3 drug-free naturally. Of the 3 different ways for my babies to enter the world, I vote for #3.  Only the Lord knows if more are to come though.
In ten years..
I laughed at homeschooling, pondered homeschooling, and SOLD OUT to homeschooling.  Funny how a few years can change your perspective on things.  When God calls you to it, He'll help you get through it.

In ten years..
I've buried a childhood dog, got bit in the face by a dog we were going to adopt [obviously didn't], fought cancer & lost with another, lost a 6 year old poodle way too soon, years later adopted another that only sleeps, and inherited my moms dog that seems to be outliving everyone.  Clearly, I'm a dog person.  

In ten years..
Found, Met & Connected, for the first time, with my half sister and step sister that will only be called "Sisters" going forward.  I went from being an only child to a full whole other family in a matter of 3 years thanks to Facebook.

In ten years..
John's lost both of his maternal grandparents. I lost my grandmother 4 years ago and my mom this year.  Life changed completely for all of us and nothing will ever be the same.  

In ten years..
We've made friends, drifted from friends, had friends traveling on the path with you and those that are driving down another road but you still love them, old friends renewed, new friends that feel like old ones, cried & laughed with friends only God could pick for you, and miss friendships that peacefully parted ways in the ebb & flow of life.  

In ten years..

We've had good times, bad times, devastating moments, and times of laughter & fun, been betrayed & loved, disappointed & elated.  This is life as humans. There is no perfect man, woman, or marriage on this earth, any expectation of that is delusional.   But the splendor is found in adversity, in fighting for your marriage & family, in giving and receiving grace, in realizing that He will bring "beauty from your ashes" and it's only in the Refiner's fire that your true shine will be revealed.  There is merit in sticking with it when you *think* it would be easier to walk out, in realizing that God is not finished with me anymore than He is finished with any of us, in knowing that in the hard times we've walk, we are closer to God and each other. 
God picked you for me, John Dearie, so I'm counting on Him as he reveals each & every step ahead.  The verse on our wedding invitation has proven to be so true in our walk, " “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts". Isaiah 55:8-9NLT  
It has not always been easy, as nothing of real value usually is, but I know at the end of my life, I will say "It was worth it".
Happy 10th Anniversary!

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

What I have learned as a child losing her mom ~My Cautionary Tale

It's been 6 months since I lost my mom.  As we have worked through things, thoughts & lists have formed in my head that I think might benefit others.  Please humor me with these random thoughts and, just maybe, let me be your cautionary tale.
One of the times she was leaving the hospital..

To the children: 
  • You aren't taking enough pictures of you with your parents and your kids with their grandparents.  I bet you have an album of food pics but very few with your mom.  At least, I made this mistake.  She was sick that last year she lived with us so we didn't take a lot of pictures with her.  She was at events and immersed in our daily life but I only took a few shots.  Thought we would go get pictures when she looked and felt better. Only we didn't know it was her last year and that Abigale's birthday would be the last event she's be at..  Don't miss it in your family.  You never know when the last time together is the really the last time.
Last picture [mom on left] taken at Abigale's birthday with her helping them make snow globes.  I didn't even get a "Bday girl & Grandma" pic.  Don't miss it like I did.
  • Please take videos.  I took a small amount with my grandma & kids but I thought there was more time and didn't with my mom & kids.  Abigale out of nowhere the other day said "I can't remember Grandma's voice.  What did it sound like?"  Talk about stabbing your heart and trying to drive and not sob.  Shoot, I missed that opportunity.  Please take a video of them together, maybe reading a book, normal life, something.  Now.  While you're at it, maybe take some video footage of you with them or speaking to them.  Seriously, you never know..
  • The holidays aren't just about you.  There I said it.  I didn't want her buying them so many gifts, and sure, it would have been nice if she had got that, but instead of making it awkward, maybe I should have rolled with instead of trying to control the holiday so much.  Add some extra grace and deal with it instead of getting your way.  You'll have regrets on how you handled it later, if you don't.. ask me.
  • Don't rely on your parents so much.  That sounds opposite to what I have been saying about bringing them in closer.  But I have had to completely relearn how to parent my kids.  That sounds ridiculous but in the almost 7 years Jesse has been here, my mom [or John] pretty much have always went places with me. I didn't go to Target, a grocery store or an amusement park alone with all 3 of my kids.  Mom was either right along side me or kept one or 2 of them at home when she wasn't up to walking.  I always had an extra hand and took that for granted at times. The kids had to learn how to function without an extra adult and so did I.  She & I both knew how much I relied on her but her absence intensified that reality.  Diversify your date night options, too.  I miss those.  They are very few and far between now since she was mostly the only one that ever watched them [and would always watch them at the drop of a hat].   
    October 3, 2013 Last pic before the surgery she would have the next week that would lead to her eventual passing.. She loved to go places with the kids & I.
To parents:
  • Let's talk about your wishes.  It's awkward and depressing but guess what, it happens to everyone.  How about having a book that says "This is what I want done when I die".  Directions would have been great.  In the midst of grief, the people left behind have to make a hundred decisions in a few days.  How about you tell me now your favorite song, Bible verse, thoughts on clothes, caskets, & burial plans.  If you could have a plan for the latter in advance, it would help everyone.  Let's face it.  Everyone will die. Be a part of your last celebration.
  • Have a will.  It doesn't matter what you think will happen, it's extra trouble and money, even if there is no one to contest it.  Lawyers, probate courts, personal representative paperwork, estates, ugh.. the legalities I wasn't ready to know the details about, I am now knee deep inside because my mom "meant" to get a will completed.  And please make sure when you create it, the will is clear, fair and completed in the right state.  Update it as often as needed, when things [or people] change.  Previously, I've seen money/inheritances rip a family apart first hand.  You think it won't happen in your family but money can bring out some wicked stuff in people you would never imagine.  
  • I know you love your stuff, your collections, your supplies.  But you can't take it with you..and guess what, someone else has to clean it up when you are gone.  I really wish my mom would have marked or verbalized what her real favorites were, what had an actual value if not sentimental, the story about this plate or handkerchief or nativity, what was really important to her.  What she wanted to make sure was passed on and not just donated or sold.  As I went through her wall of boxes of fabric [yes, wall!], I kept thinking how she laughed at the phrase "She who dies with the most fabric, wins".  Nope, no winning, someone else has to figure out what to do with that collection.  In my case, I donated 30 garbage bags of fabric to the "Stitches of Love" ministry at our church that make items for the local nursing homes & hospital.    Noble cause, but it was still hard to give away her immense treasures.  I've spent 7 weeks, 3 days a week, all day, trying to go through 40 years of memories.  I'm about a quarter done.  :(  Maybe scale that collection down because others might not be so gentle with it like I have been this summer.  Pretty much everyone has told me to get a dumpster or an estate auctioneer and "let it go".  Though I choose not to go those options, that will possibly happen to your stuff.
"..a time to keep and a time to throw away." Ecclesiastes 3:6b

I know more things will come to me as we continue the journey of life & loss.  For those that are a part of this awful "club", what are some things you have had to learn after losing a parent?  
Thanks for stopping by and reading.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Johnathan's Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Choo Choo Express Birthday #DisneySide

How can this little guy be 2 years old already.

I was picked to host a "DisneySide Home Celebrations" party.  
Show Your Disney Side
What they didn't know is that pretty much every birthday is Disney themed in our little Dearieland! 
I was shipped an amazing piece of luggage, random supplies that had something to do with Disney running & ESPN sports [??], HP cards for printing, Hanes Tshirts to decorate, and Mickey Mouse plates, cups, & Party decorations.  
Since we were having it at a park and it was for a 2 year old, I opted to use only the latter items but passed the other items on to loving homes [except that sweet rolling luggage..that baby is mine!]. 
One of Johnathan's first clear words outside of family names was "Choo Choo". 4+ years ago, Jesse's first grouping of words was Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Choo Choo Express.  
So it was a natural theme for the party this year.
Created using the software of MyDigitalStudio from Stampin UP.
So all that being said, here is what we did for Johnathan's 2nd birthday.
Using the balloons they sent and the Mickey dangles, I did a ribbon balloon banner of sorts from one pole to another at the park.  Made us easy to find and was a large but inexpensive impact.  The balloons were strung on using the tiny little rubber bands for hair.

Train PB & J sandwiches {Could have been Mickey heads easily, too, but I wanted to bring out the Choo Choo Express side of this party.}

Veggies, pasta salad, mini subs, & potato chips we brought back from a factory in Ohio during a side trip into Amish country while we there for the funeral.

We covered all the tables we would use in plastic table covers from the dollar tree. When you are sharing a pavilion at a park, I think it is good to mark your space so your guests know where to sit.  Plus it's cleaner, right?!
We always bring additional tables for the food.  The "cake" table, featuring the actual Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Choo Choo Express train.  Both my boys are quite train crazy...  
I also made the 3 ingredient Peanut Butter cookies as alternative treat.  Both older ones are allergic to dairy & wheat, so no cupcakes for them, but they want some fun food, too!

These are Death By Oreo cupcakes with the mini Oreos turned to look like ears.  :)

Make a Wish!
The kids like to dress for the theme of their party and since this was trains, Jesse & Johnathan dressed like train conductors with Abigale in her Minnie wear.
 The next day we went to the Magic Kingdom to continue to celebrate Johnathan's birthday weekend.  Often the children dress up when visiting Walt Disney World so Johnathan & Jesse again wore their costumes.  Besides a pirate or prince, there isn't much for boys to pick from, Disney.. 
Besides, Jesse's career plans have him eventually working on the Magic Kingdom trains or at least that is what he has stuck with for the last 3 years!
 Abigale took the princess route.
{I think she was trying to give me a "Princess~like stare".  haha

Had to meet some princesses while we were here, of course!  
Love it!
 Hopefully Johnathan had a fun & memorable birthday weekend and everyone had a great time playing & celebrating their own #DisneySide!
Thanks for looking~

Beyond Pinterest, there are some amazing party ideas at these websites, too.
Also just discovered a unique Disney sponsored parenting connection site called that you might want to check out!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

My Mother's Funeral and Celebration of Life

Not something you ever want to write, "My Mother's Funeral..".  Still feel so unreal.  I am fine, then all of the sudden a wave of emotion will hit me.  The reality that she is really gone.  Because she was in the hospital so much, sometimes my brain shuts off and I think she is just in there.  Then I realize.."oh, no, she is not coming back."  Surreal.  When we lost my grandmother, we had the same feelings because she spent summers in Ohio.  Still hard to grasp it's not even been 3 weeks.  

Again, I am sharing these details because I want to keep a fresh journal of the events surrounding the loss of my mother for myself and my children. But so many friends have walked this road with us and perhaps someone might need help in their own journey of loss.  So forgive my ramblings where they happen.

My mother, Donna, died on Sunday, February 2, 2014.  After arranging the preparations to have her body transferred to Ohio for the funeral and burial, we left on Wednesday at midnight and drove straight through with all the kids.  My Aunt Ann was kind enough to host this noisy brood.  It was the kids' first time seeing snow and they had a ball, despite the freezing temperatures and situation.
FYI: The pitter-patter of little feet sound like a herd of elephants in a house with a basement.
The funeral was held in Barberton at Cox Funeral home.  My mom's cousin, Pastor Jerry Butcher, brought the message.  We played "The Old Rugged Cross" performed by Alan Jackson and "Precious Lord, Take My Hand" preformed by mom's favorite, Elvis, before Jerry spoke.  Since he grew up with her, he shared special personal memories of her life.  He shared of her love to cook & bake, especially her "fold over cookies" she was famous for in the family.  He encouraged everyone to bake a batch of cookies and share them with someone to honor and remember her.  Such a sweet touch to pass on her passion for giving to others.  We closed the funeral service with the song she left this earth hearing, "I'll Fly Away" by Jars of Clay.
 She was buried next to her father and we had a short chapel service at the cemetery since it was too cold to go to the graveside.  A meal was served at Pastor Jerry's church, Crossroads Community in Doylestown.
As you probably know, I am a digital & papercrafter.  I had to use my gifts in this area..I just couldn't use the ones from the funeral home.  Here is her program.  

That evening we drove back to Florida, once again straight through but with the weather, it took 25 hours.  
Thursday, February 13, 2014, we held her Celebration of Life service at First Baptist Church at the Mall in Lakeland, Florida.  Pastor Darrin Brown officiated the service bringign a clear message of the Gospel, with his wife, Kristi, singing "Precious Lord, Take My Hand" in the beginning and once again closing with a resounding send off of "I'll Fly Away".  
Darrin married us, was my boss when I worked at the church, and is a very dear friend to our family.  He was also there when mom went to be with the Lord.  He encouraged John & I to share from our hearts at the service.  I was apprehensive on what to say and if I could even speak.  But God gave me the strength to speak about her and our life together.  
So for those that couldn't be there, those that care, and for my children, it's long but this is what I read:
My mother was born Donna Gale Parsons in Akron, Ohio.  She was blessed to grow up in a very loving family, with her mom & dad and 3 younger brothers.  My grandmother was the oldest of her 6 brothers & sisters. My mother was the first niece and very close to all her aunts & uncles. She was married for a short time, had me & divorced by the time I was 3 months old.  So it was always just her & I.  The sacrifices she made to stand up for my safety and become a single mother shows me how strong & brave she was, especially in that era.  I will never fully know how much she protected me from, by doing this.  
She taught me the most important thing, about God.  From an early age, she said I might not know an earthly father, but I always had God the Father.  He made me, He loved me and wanted to be with me forever. And because of that, there was never a lacking or yearning in my life in that area.
  My grandmother was a widow when I came along so we lived with her most of my childhood.  This gave me a great appreciation for the stories of the older generations.  I think my love of vintage & retro comes from looking at all the pictures of them as young people then being a part of our large family gatherings really connected me to my great aunts & uncles.  Our house was often party central since my grandmother was the matriarch of the family.  So I learned from an early age how to throw a large gathering.  How to make people feel special at an event, that details mattered.  So later on when I worked here at the church, she was always at my right hand helping at the YoungMarried events.  She  was usually in the kitchen filling platters or cutting the desserts. When the kids birthday parties came along, she was right there to help me with the details.  She had such a big heart and wanted to make everyone feel special.
My mother loved to cook & bake and I am blessed to have picked up her love for all of that.  She & grandma cooked just about everything from scratch.  We laugh that I didn't have Chef Boyardee until a family friend gave it to me when I was 12.  She loved to make cookies and candies the most I think.  I joke that I grew up in Willy Wonka's house because my mom made chocolate candy creations for every holiday and sold them to area offices and through friends. From an early age, I was filling the colored chocolate little bunnies into the candy molds. In fact one year, she raised enough on easter candy, that we came here to Lakeland on vacation in 1986.  She loved it so much and knew this was where we were supposed to live.  2 years later she took a leap of faith and we moved here.
She loved to sew, whether making bridesmaids dresses, children's clothing, quilts or repairs.  She loved to collect material, buttons & details for that next potential project.  She could alter & make her own patterns, take ideas from one dress & merge them with another, & figure out how things were created just by looking at them. In her notepads, I have found sketch after sketch of dresses she saw & wanted to recreate for Abigale.  She used her creative gift to bless others whenever she could, too.  She found great joy in giving baby blankets to friends & coworkers.  I fully know any creative gifts I have, grew from her love of doing them and teaching me from an early age.
My mother was a beautician and her beauty parlor was in our basement.  She was a single working mom but still always around since she was at home.  When she moved here to Florida, she worked in retail as a cashier, head cashier , or the offices at PharMor & Home Depot.  She retired in 2004 because of her health.  Her work ethic was such an example to me, and others, I think.  The Bible says "Do all things to best of your ability as if working for God not man".  So whether she was teasing a bouffant hairdo, counting money, customer service, or some menial task; whatever the job you were given was to be completed well.  Even in personal life, she cared about the details, whether that meant bows on packages or ironing clothes. I  would like to think I carried that "best of my ability" theme into the places I worked and I am trying to instill that character into my kids.  
As a single mom, she focused most of her attention on me.  She loved to be a part of the things I loved to do!  So whether that was dancing or cheerleading as a kid, chasing the New Kids with me as a teen, helping make food for our singles' Soular Cafe each week, helping me with Stampin' Up classes I was teaching, or being a part of church events I was involved with, she was always right there with me.  My friends were her friends. My passions were hers.
Her greatest joy started about 6 years ago in Jesse, Abigale & Johnathan.  She was born to be a grandmother.  When we were pushing along fast, she walked slow with them.  She loved to do puzzles with them, to color & craft with them, loved to read to them, to take them out on dates; she'd spend an hour with them just looking at her little buttons collection & answering their questions on where each one came from. She just loved to spend moments with them.  My goal is to keep her memory alive for all them.  
My mother was my cheerleader, my best friend, my advocate & bodyguard, my lifelong #1 fan, my right hand beside me in everything. She loved me with her whole heart even when I didn't deserve it.  We drove each other nuts sometimes as all mothers & daughters can do but I knew she'd kill tigers for me. Through it all, I couldn't imagine her not being a part of every experience.  I am a better mother & person because of her.  My hope is that I can honor her in life through continuing to serve others like she did. 
I can find joy in the fact that I have the blessed assurance that I will see her again.  I can clearly see that God has had his hand on us through these last few months, that he was protecting us and preparing us, even when we didn't realize it.  And I know He is continuing to hold us up.  A few verses that I am clinging to are: 
Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
Psalm 34:18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 
I can't imagine going through all of this without Him and the friends that are His hands & feet in our lives.  Thank you all so much.

So as we continue on this journey of loss, please keep us all in your prayers.  I know there will be rough days ahead as we continue to process our grief.  We pray that God's providence & glory will shine in our healing and response.  
And you just might hear me humming..."One Day at a Time, sweet Jesus, that's all I'm asking from You"..

 Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

My Mother and Our Journey This Last Year

This is my mother, Donna.  This is our journey over this last year.  A lot of people ask what happened, what led to this since she was only 67.  I know my kids will ask so I am posting this here while I still recall the details.  It's long but you are invited to read & share in our story.

She had heart issues for the last 10 years.  In the winter/spring of 2013, heart & lung problems flared up along with a broken foot, making her have to move in with us since she needed help getting around, food, on oxygen, etc.  Normally, she lived alone in her own home and was fairly independent.  During the summer, she was fine but never moved back to her home, both for comfort of not being alone and lack of motivation probably.  She was active and even on October 3rd, went with the kids & I to the Florida Aquarium.  This would be the last healthy picture we would take together.

October 7th, 2013, she had a surgery to repair 3 hernias, a gallbladder removal and to repair & separate her intestines that had become twisted & entwined together with scar tissue, possibly from a previous bout of diverticulitis and/or the surgery she had for it about 6 years ago.  In that process, there was a "leak" or fistula, meaning there was an opening somewhere in the intestines that wasn't sealed in the surgical process.  She was put on "TPN" which was food/nutrients in IV fluid form, and not allowed to eat or drink. She also had drainage bags on both sides in hopes that the leak would heal itself.  She did not leave the hospital in 3 days like they had predicted.  Instead, she was in there for 2 months and 2 days straight along with a few other week long stays because of infections and pulling out the drainage on accident.  It was over 3 months of time in the hospital within a 4 month span.
Finally, we were beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel for her being able to eat again & "be normal".  On Monday, January 27, 2014, they removed the pic line, which meant she was officially off TPN and they had been weaning her back on normal food, starting with liquids over the previous week.  Bless her heart, she was so excited.  She had charted on the calender when she would be able to eat chicken, when she could eat beef, etc.  She & her friends were already making plans on which restaurants they were going to visit.  It had been a long 4 months without food & liquids, as you can imagine, including Thanksgiving & Christmas, so she was ready.  
Unfortunately, Tuesday, a swell came up on her side, that I can only describe as looking like a long balloon under her skin.  Her stomach starting hurting, too.  By Wednesday morning, she was not only in great pain, but the swell now looked black & bruised. We went to the ER and, of course, she was admitted. We said goodbye that night and surgery was scheduled for Thursday afternoon.  She was in so much pain Thursday, they kept her basically sedated but she did kind of respond when I kissed her goodbye.  After the surgery, the surgeon kept saying it was very serious, that she could only do part 1 of possibly 3-4 more surgeries, wasn't sure if her body could take the stress, etc.  But the problem with going in & out of the hospital so much is you kind of stop taking it seriously.  "I know this is bad but she was bad before and came out of it & pulled through".. so I wasn't fully grasping the severity of the situation. 
She was stable on Friday but on Saturday in the afternoon we got the call that you never want to hear.  My mom had coded and they were doing CPR on her, "please come quickly".  As I drove, I texted friend after friend "please pray". I thanked God for technology, to live in a time where I could reach that many people so quickly and know they would be holding me up in prayer.  I was singing "Blessed Be the Name".. this song has proven to be a life song for me through our losses and times of trials. "He gives and takes away, still I will choose to say, Lord, Blessed be Your Name".  Did I believe that? Yes.
When I arrived at the hospital, they had revived her and she was stable but they were saying the next 48 hours would be telling.  She was still intubated & sedated from the surgery so she was not responsive.  My mother in law was there and tried to get me to speak to her.  I just didn't know what to say as I looked at her in that state.  Finally as I was going to leave, I said "I love you, mommy" which isn't a term I had called her in quite a long time but it just naturally came out.
We decided to leave the kids with my mother in law in case they called again and left the hospital for the night.  All night my phone beeped with sweet messages & notifications from friends but the phone never rang. 
On Sunday, February 2nd, I decided to go to the hospital instead of church, even though they hadn't called, thinking she must have had a better night.  John went to pick up the kids. When I arrived, they frantically told me they had called & left messages, and that she had coded 2 other times.  Oddly, I didn't get the voicemails until that evening.  I quickly, and kind-of in shock, texted John that he needed to come now.  He turned around and dropped the kids back off and came up.  
Shortly after he arrived, she began to code again and we stood there while they preformed CPR on her and medically tried to bring her back again.  All I could hear in my head was "This. is. it.".  Whether that was God giving me a gentle awareness of the true reality happening here or it was just me, it was on repeat in my head.  John was praying, I was singing, and somehow saying "It's okay."  After they revived her again, both doctors came over to explain that her organs were shutting down, that her heart was dying, each time they revived her was actually getting worse for her body, they could continue to pound on her and repeat this process...or I could let her heart do what it wanted to do and let her die.  What a decision to put on someone...but I knew she didn't want to I had to sign the "Do Not Resuscitate" papers.  
Soon, the pastor who had married us and such a dear friend arrived, along with John's brother, who is also a pastor.  We surrounded her bed and prayed.  I stood next to her and whispered thank yous and I love yous.  I sang "I'll Fly Away" into her ear and told her it was okay, she could go, she would always be remembered and loved.  As I said a last goodbye and continued singing that favorite hymn, one tear fell from her... and she was gone.  Now I will never know this side of heaven if that was her response in all of this, but I will choose to think that she could hear me and that was a little gift from God to know she did.  
If there is a good way to lose someone, this was a precious way to be a part of that departure.  To leave here hearing praise and arrive in Heaven hearing praise, in one blink.  What a welcome she must have received from all the loved ones that have gone before her.  And someday, I know & fully believe, I have the blessed assurance I will see her again. 

She held my hand and whispered sweetness into my ear as I came into this world.  And I was able to hold her hand and whisper love to her as she left and entered into Heaven.  What a gift. 

"so you will not grieve like those who have no hope." 1 Thessalonians 4:13b
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit. — Psalm 34:18

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

October Dress Project ~ And so it begins

Hello!  I always like to start my posts like I am beginning a conversation.  Between some friends.  So here we go..

I have watched numerous friends be a part of the October Dress Project over the last 3+ years.  I have had an excuse each year not to participate, lame though the excuse might have been.  I loved watching them update their Facebook pages and blogs with the experiment results.  I really do look at this like an experiment.  
What can you do with what you have?
Understanding how much you really do already possess.
Learning new things...Humbling. Gratefulness. Introspection.  
And I suppose I was kind of envious of their adventure but not quite enough to sacrifice my vanity enough to join in their adventure.
Enter 2013.  Last week, I casually browsed the dresses at Ross.  I found two that could fit the bill.  I had my 3 year old daughter with me and went to try them on in the dressing room.  As I sat in front of the mirror, I examined them and me in them and did what a lot of women do.. I started to pick it a part..and to pick me a part in my head.  And then I stopped.  I looked at A who was confused why I didn't love both beautiful dresses.  And I realized that she sees me a whole lot different than I was {critically} seeing myself.  She might have just given me a glimpse of the loving way Jesus sees us.  He sees us as beautiful, regardless of our outer appearance and what we buy to cover up what ever "flaws" we think we possess.  He made us in His image and I am pretty sure I grew up knowing that  "God don't make no junk"!  
..And then I didn't buy it.  I was still not sure I could do it, I be creative enough, cute enough, if it was flattering enough, and then I had 2 field trips, and our numerous trips to Disney in the Florida heat...enter the lame excuses.  
So I wrestled a little with it, maybe with God, maybe with obedience?  And then I started bargaining, maybe "fleecing".. Well, if the dress was still there, then that was the direction, the clear sign, I was supposed to be a part of #odp13.  And a day later, I walked into the store, and it was exactly where I left it the afternoon before.  Still on the hanger in the same way I had hung it, in a very busy store during some "dress event".  So there you go.  I had my clear answer.
So not sure I can live up to the creativity of my friends, but I have a feeling that is not really the point, now is it?
Day one. Photo by J Dearie, 5.

Thanks for reading!  If you want to follow me on instagram, I will be taking a picture everyday hopefully, with a weekly wrap up here.
Or maybe join's not too late!  

Monday, July 22, 2013

Homeschooling comparison to Public School

Something to think about and too good not to share!
..Especially glad to see some of the statistics of students of parents that were NOT teachers are in the 88th percentile & even those that spent less than $600 on their educational materials were in the 86th percentile! ;)  
Homeschool Domination
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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Hi, friends, both near & far, IRL and net only!

My friends have been in the process of adopting 2 little boys from Uganda and finally have their court date.  They need to raise money for the flight so our mutual friend, Jennifer at Family Musings, is hosting a virtual "shower" to raise the funds for these last minute needs.
Please check it out and give if you can.
Everyone can pray so please do that as well that the court dates stick and it is a smooth process.  Please also pray for thier 2 homegrown littles as they wait here in the States for their parents & new siblings to come back!
Such a precious family and story! Please read the story here.