Sunday, July 30, 2006

Always be ready to give a response...

My faith has taught me from the time I was a young girl to always be ready to give a response for the things that you believe. I don't remember many instances while I was growing up that I actually had to defend or explain my faith. It was a part of who I was, and most of my friends believed the same things I did, so it wasn't a big deal to me to be outspoken about my beliefs.
I rarely questioned things that I read or heard, in church or in college; it just made sense to me and it seemed really clear. I knew what was "right" and I knew what was "wrong", and I tried to do good and not do wrong. I knew that God loved me and that because I believed in Him I was going to go to Heaven. My faith was a deep part of me- but it was almost always easy. Easy meaning, I didn't question it that often. I just knew and believed.
As I sat and watched a video of one of Teagan's memorial services last night, I realized that my "easy faith" was being tested more than it had ever been tested before. But, as difficult as the death of Teagan was to me and my family, it didn't shake my faith. I realized that I was "lucky" to have had this faith all along in my life, for when my troubles came, it was something that seemed to come naturally.
I spoke of this faith at both of the services we had to celebrate and remember the life of Teagan. I wanted everyone to know that I would be okay in life, even in the face of a devastating life change. I wanted everyone to know that I was going to put all my trust in God and just sit back and see what He could make of it.
It was much more clear to me as I watched the video of myself and my family, five years earlier. It actually hurt me to see myself and be reminded of the depth of my pain, physical and emotional at that time. I was clearly hurting...but I had my faith. And I see now, that it was more than enough to get me through that time in my life.
I'm also reminded of what mattered most to me in those days shortly after Teagan died...I wanted to go through life and notice the details. I spoke about that at her services too. About how we seem to go through our days and miss a lot of the "important" things- because we're not really looking, or because we're caught up in so many things. I was so thankful that I had savored my time with Teagan, even though I had no idea it would be cut short. I talked about how instead of watching tv, we sat outside and watched the ladybugs crawl around, and we watched the trees and noticed them changing colors from day to day. Teagan even commented to me on the day we saw the yellowish-green leaves dotted with red that "God must have gotten new paints last night!"...she was so excited. =) I think too many times we miss the things that matter most. You can never say "I love you" too many times. You can never take back an afternoon of just looking at the world around you and enjoying the wonder of creation- so full of colors, beauty, diversity, sounds, smells, and textures... from the orange-colored peels of carrots, to the rat-a-tat-tat of a woodpecker on a tree. From the sound of a cool wave crashing on the sand, to the taste of creamy whipped cream on your tongue. We miss so much not because we're not exposed to it, but because we take it for granted and we fill our life with so many things. Cell phones and timers, car horns and screaming kids. I understand that they are a part of life. I just want to remind myself to take time for the "really important" details of life.
No wonder Teagan had such joy and happiness in life. She soaked in all the little details, and tried not to miss a thing. Even if it meant staying up very late to wait for a kiss from her Daddy. I'm sure he doesn't regret that she lived for the details of life. He's got sweet memories of those kisses to bring to mind whenever life gets a little overwhelming. And we've got more kisses to give and to get from all our other kids- that we never take for granted. It's the littlest details that matter the most.
And in case Teagan gets wireless internet connection in Heaven and she's googled and found my Nitty.Gritty. blog, I just want to say, "Guess what? You're still the love of my heart."

Saturday, July 29, 2006

That day...

Here is a picture of the Old Depot restaurant as it looked when Chip and I pulled up to it on Sunday, July 29th, 2001. It was a small building- about 100 years old. Our family sat together at the first table, just inside the front door.
Teagan and Brock were sharing an order of Chocolate Chip Pancakes, and all was well in our life for a few brief moments into our brunch. The sun was shining and the day couldn't hardly have been more ordinary and perfect.
In fact, earlier that morning as I got Teagan dressed for church, I spun her around after tying her hair back in a ribbon, and I looked at her and said, "Teagan, you look more beautiful than I ever remember you looking before." I pulled her close for a tight hug and she said to me with a big grin on her face, "I know, Mommy." She was wearing the dress and ribbon in her hair that you see in this post.
I can't help but think about how much I wish I could change the events of this day. And yet, I live with no regrets. I know that Teagan knew she was loved as much as any person can be. I know that we had no way of knowing that something so terrible would come our way just by going out for Sunday brunch. I know that God could have changed the outcome of what happened to all of us there that day. I also realize things could have been much worse, and I am lucky that none of the rest of us injured were paralyzed or burned or any other number of horrible things happened. It was bad enough.
Yet, here I am five years later telling you that on most days you wouldn't have a clue that any of this actually happened in my life or the lives of my family members. We have recovered to the point where we live life with blessing and joy and lots of ordinary moments strung between. We have had our faith tested, and deepened. Life has given us unspeakable challenges, and somedays we still face them head on. Without God, I don't know how our family would look today. I thank Him for his healing in our hearts and lives, and the way that He has helped us move through the tough times. I am thankful that there is a Heaven and that Teagan is there waiting for a grand reunion with all of us someday.
Yes. Today marks another year of living, loving, learning, and pressing on to that day. I'm now 5 years closer to seeing Teagan again!

Events of this day...

These photos are courtesy of the Gaylord Herald Times. I do not know who to give credit to for taking these actual pictures. I'm sure it must have been difficult to stand back and snap these photos given the chaos and adrenaline flowing around through each and every person on the scene of this tragedy. I post these to give you a real sense of the events that have shaped my posts much of this past month. And now you can see for yourself just how much we've been through...and how far we've come- relying on the strength, comfort, hope and peace that can only be found in Christ.

Friday, July 28, 2006

A couple of dittys for you...

This is my Nitty.Gritty., so these songs really are for me, but I'm sharing. Nice of me, huh? Yesterday I sat at my computer thinking I should just skip posting. I just wasn't sure what to say and I feel like I repeat myself all the time. My hubby even says that I do. Remember? He's a skeptic when it comes to all of you good people checking in here, two and three times a day. Today, that makes two of us. I'm not sure how this stuff actually hits you and impacts you the way many of you are commenting and emailing me the past few days, but I've decided I should start believing you. That you really DO hug your kids tighter, or not yell at them for splashing all over the floor during bathtime. Maybe you do appreciate the little things in life, like sipping your Coconut latte a bit more slowly, or reading a Bible verse that finally makes sense after years of reading it over and over.
My thoughts have been really varied this week, as I've said, lots of remembering, re-living, and hoping that I'll never forget a thing. I know that's not possible as memories fade, but by pulling out memoribilia, it helps to jog those memories for me.
That's what these two songs are for. Remembering. My sister, Steph,(as well as others) had the tough role of listening to me ramble on for hours when she met me at the hospital just hours after all my family had been admitted to intensive care. We knew Teagan wasn't going to survive her injuries, and we made arrangements to have her organs donated. My head was spinning with all the decisions that had to be made, with the questions I had about what had happened, and wondering how I would actually survive this horror. It was overwhelming at times. I still get nightmares when I think about some of the events of those hours and weeks. It was gut-wrenching on many levels.
However, in the middle of my confusion and pain and sometimes not even speaking clearly, both my sister, and a close friend, Andy, were able to take some of what I was rambling on about and put it down on paper into beautiful poems. They blew me away. They touched my soul. They even turned them into songs that were sung at Teagan's memorial services. I still can't believe I actually sang a duet with my sister for Teagan. For me it wasn't about hitting all the right notes; I just wanted to share the words and a part of Teagan with everyone I could at that time.
As for Andy's song- well, let's just say he has a gift. He can do this kind of thing with his eyes shut. Actually, he does it best with his eyes shut, I'm sure. What I hope to always remember is that at the pit of my life, my friends and family were there for me (us), in ways that touched me deeply forever. I simply can't thank them enough for their thoughts and prayers and their love in the darkest moments of my life. There were lots of them. More than the hospital personnel wished at times. More than we were allowed to have in ICU- but they made exceptions for us.
I remember clearly, wanting to somehow tell Teagan that I wasn't ever going to let her life ever fade completely. I think I prayed that somehow her life would touch other people in ways I may never know. While we weren't able to donate her major vital organs, two people received the gift of sight from the corneas of her eyes, and one person got her heart valves. I have no idea who they are...but I know that they got a special gift, and I'm so glad we could share it with them.
So, as I continue to remember and reflect and repeat myself, I am posting the words to the songs that summed it up for me at that time in my life...and brought tears to my eyes in a good way when I desperately needed them. Even without hearing the music, I hope you'll be touched as well.
Teagan's Songs...
"Our Angel"
When you were born your Daddy said that you would wow the boys,
You changed our lives forever, and filled our hearts with joy.
Your smile lit up the universe, Your eyes shone like the stars,
We'll miss you every moment, but we rejoice and know you are...
In Heaven, surrounded by the loving arms of Jesus.
Delighted, astounded by the beauty of it all.
The angels sing their celebration chorus; An angel has arrived.
Teagan, you can spread your wings and fly.
{v2} You spent your days spreading sunshine, never had a care.
You sang and played, you ran and giggled, liked ribbons in your hair.
You stopped to smell the flowers and chased the butterflies,
Enjoying God's creation, with wonder in your eyes.
Now you're in Heaven... {chorus}
{v3} You stayed up late to give your Daddy, a special kiss goodnight.
And Mommy felt your adoration when you hugged her tight.
You loved to be big sister, and granddaughter and friend.
Although it seems a sad goodbye, we know it's not the end.
'Cause you're in Heaven...{chorus}
And every day that you were with us, Was a precious gift from Jesus,
Our angel here on earth for just a while.
We'll think of you in Heaven and we'll smile. {chorus}
This one is by Andy...a friend for life (Andrena too!)
"God Sent to us an Angel"
God sent to us an angel, just four short years ago.
How long she would be shared with us is what we didn't know.
He gave her boundless energy, so full of love and cheer.
So many days she lit our world with smiles, ear to ear.
We think of times spent in the yard, Her running to and fro,
Just days before her Savior called this precious angel home.
We hope to dwell on memories, how this angel blessed our lives.
With the way she smiled, the way she laughed, the blueness of her eyes.
We'll fondly think of nightly prayers and be glad we were a part,
Of the time she asked her God, to come into her heart.
We know she rests with God today, and oh, what joy that brings!
Yes, God sent to us an angel, we just never saw her wings.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

A couple of pics that I love of Teagan...

The truth is I love all the pictures I have of Teagan. But here are a couple I had on my desktop. Enjoy.

Sometimes I'm glad...

Sometimes I'm glad that I didn't know what awaited me in just a few days- 5 years ago. I know there are different schools of thought out there on this matter, especially if you've been through it personally. You know, the issue of if you'd want to know how much time you or a loved has left here on earth, or if you'd like to go or lose someone suddenly. I go back and forth, there is good and bad to both situations.
But, as much as I wish I had known so that I could have hugged Teagan with all my might and kissed her so that I etched the feeling of my lips against her soft cheek, I think most of the time I am glad that I didn't know what my future held for us. I think it would have knocked the life right out of me and disillusioned me for the last few days we had together. Days that didn't hold anything truly out of the ordinary- but now I look back on and realize that they were the most special days of my whole life. They are vivid in my mind and the fact that they were lived simply makes me so happy.
Teagan bounced around in the backyard, played with Brock and Wyndham, and just did the stuff she liked to do. She followed me around and asked me several times, "How many days am I?". I remember thinking that was a strange question for a four year old. I dodged her question a couple of times, and on the third time I told her, "Teagan, you're a lot of days old...and you've got a lot of days left." I told her that she was at least 1,500 days old; that seemed like a big number to her, and she dropped the question at that.
I remember the night before she died we had Chinese take-out. She turned down her fortune cookie for the first time in her life- ever. I couldn't believe she didn't want a cookie. She said, "Give my fortune to Brock." I don't put much thought into fortunes from local Chinese take-out shops, but this one read something like, "You will live long and prosper." Yep. Teagan gave that fortune to Brock. Instead, I made her one of her favorite snacks, tapioca pudding. She liked it warm with a little milk to stir on top. She didn't eat it all, so we put her bowl in the fridge for the next day. She never finished that pudding. I remember coming home after a week at Hurley Hospital so that I could get treatment for an infection. My mom started cleaning out some of the things in the fridge. She pulled out a small bowl and asked, "what was this?". "Teagan was saving her tapioca for later." We both broke down and cried. Over a bowl of shriveled pudding.
I knew then that I was in for a long road of heartache, as my reality sunk in one little bit at a time.
Yes, sometimes I'm glad that I had no clue what awaited me. I would have missed out on the simple goodness of the time we shared those last few days. I had no worries or fears to cloud the time I now consider the greatest days of my life. I would challenge all of you to try to live your life in that way this weekend. Simply, and without worrying what your future holds. Enjoy your days as they come. See the beauty in the little things, like kids playing, a song that sparks a memory played on the radio, or call a friend to say hello. Treasures don't have to cost a lot in life to be valuable. Knowing that Teagan was happy, secure and loved up to the very last minute of her life brings a warmth to my heart and gives me peace in this time of remembering her life. I may not have deserved to be her Mom those 4 and a half years, but I loved every last minute of having her in my life.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Final birthday pics, I promise.

Bella said it was her best birthday ever. It was mostly about Hello Kitty and whipped cream and just plain having fun. I hope you can all see the Joy I have gotten back in my life. Not just from Bella...but from my whole family and then some. I should probably take tomorrow off from pictures and blogging. {Maybe I should think about scrapping again.} Goodness knows I've got plenty of pics to choose from.

"Being 4"

Pictures of the birthday girl and sisters...just doing their thing. And in case any of you are keeping track, I've now posted 201 times at Nitty.Gritty. I think it can officially be declared an addiction if you've viewed them all. =)

A bit more about Isabella...

Almost as soon as I could begin processing all that happened to my family after Teagan died and the reality of our situation began to sink in, I started to pray. I prayed ferverently; sometimes I asked God to wake me up in the morning and give me back the life I once knew, before all the bad stuff happened. Sometimes I prayed for Him to give me Teagan back. When I realized that my reality wasn't going to change the way I wanted it too, I started to pray for something simple. I didn't pray for understanding or for my pain to go away, or for the world to make sense to me again. Nope. I simply started praying for joy. I asked God to give me joy in my life again. I had no idea what it was going to look like, or how it was even possibe- I just left that up to Him and trusted that He could make it happen.
If you knew the extent of my injuries (muscle, leg tissue and nerve damage, plus traumatic stress syndrome) and Chip's injuries (8 fractured ribs, injured spleen, 3 chest tubes, 80 stitches to his face, pneumonia and other bumps and bruises), you would question, as I did, how it was even possible for us to get pregnant at that time in our lives. That's how I knew God was in control. It was the last thing we were thinking about in our lives, and totally unexpected when we found out. I joked that we were the last people on earth that needed a baby in our lives. I joked that if we were to attempt adoption we would be denied in a heartbeat. We had "issues" that didn't exactly qualify us as the best persons to take on the responsibility of a newborn.
I guess I should have thought through what I was praying for. To top it off, when I saw the doctor, we were told our expected due date was the day Teagan had died- one year earlier. It gave Chip and I chills when we heard that date. I remember feeling overwhelmed. In the span of one year, I would experience the death of one daughter, and the birth of another. It was very surreal, and I was a bundle of emotions- as you would expect. Ups and downs are common in pregnant women...throw in my emotional/physical and mental state, and it's a wonder that Isabella arrived into this world perfectly.
Well, not exactly perfectly, as we had some last minute trauma in the delivery room. When I was nearing the end of my labor, there was suddenly no heartbeat found. It was scary and nerve-wracking, mostly for the doctor and Chip. They knew I would be a mess if I were to have more tragedy in my life at that time. Anyway, Isabella came into this world with a little bit of drama and the realization to me that even after all I had been through, I wasn't given a free "get-out-trouble" card the rest of my life. It was a reminder, once again, to appreciate my life every minute of everyday. Nothing is guaranteed to us beyond this moment in time.
I treasure everyday with Bella. She certainly has brought joy to my life, even when I felt like I didn't deserve it or even want it at that point in time. Isabella was the bright spot in our lives as we approached that first anniversary of our tragedy. I couldn't help but think that maybe she and Teagan got to be friends before God sent her into our lives. It just seemed to me there was a connection between these two sisters- even though they wouldn't grow up together. We named Bella, Isabella Teagan, so that she would always know that Teagan was a part of her life too.
Here are some more pictures of Bella totally enjoying her day. Not really anything extraordinary, just making faces with her sisters, dressing up and playing in her new Hello Kitty castle tent, and not being scolded for jumping on the bed. Life is good when you're four. At least it should be!

Bella is four today...

Bella had a "pre-birthday" party with our family in Minnesota last month. Basically we needed a good excuse to have cake. =) Being a girl and turning four was all the excuse we needed. Thanks to Grandma Karen, Bella was all smiles for this Barbie cake. Although apparantly we sang too loud for her liking.
Today, we have more partying planned. I can tell you it involves "Hello Kitty" and most likely more cake. How'd I get so lucky to have another 4 year old in my life? This is the fourth time it has happened to me...and it never gets old. Happy Birthday, Isabella!!

Monday, July 24, 2006

What I was thinking today...

You didn't think I would just post a bunch of pictures and not write anything, did you? (That question is for those of you who stop by here more than once a day.) =)

Yesterday we hit the beach. It'll probably be the one whole day that Chip takes off of work for the entire summer. But for the afternoon anyway, we enjoyed no work and all play. If you can consider keeping an eye on 4 youngesters at the beach "no work".

It was a good time as it kept my mind off the fact that we're coming up on July 29th. I definitely notice mood swings and crabby attitude on my part as the annivesary draws nearer. Fortunately I have learned over the past few years to expect this, so I can manage myself a little better. Like taking the whole family (thanks to an invite from Chip's boss and family) to the beach. Lest you think I sit around and mope all the time, I have these pictures to prove otherwise.

I did get a bit of a sunburn (so did Chip- and no, he didn't have his hat on like that all day long or he would have had a funny sunburn to show off), and then had tired kids all day, so I struggled with attitude today. Then, as if they somehow knew...I opened my email to 3 notes from friends who talked about how encouraging and inspiring my blog is to them, and that they are thinking of me this week. I guess that's what really good friends are for! {Special hellos out to Marlene, Tammy, and've got the best timing, and I'll try to drop you personal notes back.}

Next up, more photos I'm sure, as we have Bella's birthday to celebrate. She'll be four tomorrow. Teagan said when she turned four that she wanted to be four forever. Then she got her wish. Now, it's hard to believe that Isabella is turning four, because she seems so young to me. I feel like I'm just getting to know her and her personality the way I should. It makes me realize how young Teagan really was when she died. Because she was my oldest, she seemed so grown up and mature to me. Only now do I know I was so wrong...and sometimes that makes me miss her more.

In the meantime, before I hook up with her in Heaven again someday, I plan on making the most of our family time down here- like celebrating birthdays, and occasionally going to the beach!

Lake Michigan...perfect day at the beach.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Life lesson for 50 cents.

Last Saturday we had a garage sale at my house. I know, I know. Some of you die-hard Nitty. Gritty readers are sitting at your computers thinking, "Oh my goodness! I would LOVE to go to Nitty.Gritty's garage sale. I'll bet she has some really great Nitty.Gritty. junk". Maybe I could do an online sale next time. I've got enough stuff for at least another sale or two.
It was kind of a fun thing to have a garage sale at my house. I rarely stop at them myself- simply because I have 4 kids in tow and it's not worth the effort of unstrapping and restrapping them in their carseats. Besides, I already have enough stuff.
My mom and sister and niece, Aly were a big help with pulling this whole thing together. At one point when things were beginning to wind down, a family of four pulled up and started looking through our things. There were two young girls and a Mom and Dad. The older sister (I'm guessing she was about 8) picked up a small stuffed tiger and said she wanted to buy it. Her mom said she could as long as she used her money. So, she dug into her purse and found a couple of quarters. By that time, the younger sister (I'd say she was 4 or 5) held up a stuffed white poodle dog and said that's the one she wanted. She started snuggling it against her cheek and talking all cute to it. You know how kids get all gushy with cute toys. Her mom turned to her and said no, you're not getting it. The little girls lip started to quiver and her whole face changed.
Then she started asking really nicely..."Please, Mommy. This one is the only one I want. I don't have a white puppy like this...please Mommy." At that point, the sister turned around and said, "I'm getting this tiger with my own money."
Her mom agreed. Yep. She's using her own money, I guess she'll get one, but you can't.
Aly and I are looking back and forth at them and then each other. We thought the younger sister was gonna lose it. Instead, she walked back to the pile of toys and set the puppy down gently. Then she said softly that's the one she really wanted. If she had her own money. That's the only one she wanted.
The older sister walked over to us and handed us her quarters. She was obviously showing off her new tiger as she walked down the driveway back to the car. The little sister was crushed. I quietly said to the mom as she walked out that we had a box of free items down at the end of the driveway if the younger sister wanted to take a peek. Of course, nothing in the box was what she wanted , so they all got back into the car to leave.
As they pulled away from our sale, Aly and I started talking about what we had seen. I said, I'm gonna have to blog about this. Aly said, "You're gonna blog about some people at your garage sale?" We both agreed that the younger sister was doing everything she could to hold back her tears in front of us. She wasn't getting whiny or throwing a tantrum- she simply looked hurt. I said to Aly, "I don't get it."
Maybe I didn't get the whole story, but it doesn't seem like that little girl was doing anything wrong. She just wanted a stuffed puppy for 50 cents. I said to Aly, "That Mom just made her daughter sad for 50 cents. I'll bet she's gonna fuss and mope about that toy all day long. Do you realize that for two quarters, that Mom could have totally made her little girl's day? Maybe even a couple of days, or a whole week. I don't know how long, but she seemed like she would have gushed about that toy for awhile anyway. At least long enough to get her 50 cents worth. Instead, she probably gets to listen to her daughter whine and cry or pout the rest of the ride home, and probably into the evening...til it's making her a little bit crazy and she finally yells ot threatens her daughter to knock it off or she's gonna get grounded or something."
Yep. I knew I had to blog about it. Because similar things come up in all of our lives where we have control over how a situation or emotion plays itself out depending on how we choose to respond to it. Sometimes it's over something really insignificant- like a 50-cent stuffed toy. It determined a young girl's happiness (or lack of it) for a day or more. I wish I had just given the toy to the girl that day. I could have made her day and it would have cost me nothing at all. I regret that now- but I just couldn't read the Mom very well. I suppose the worst thing that could have happened is that I would have offended her a bit and she probably would have complained about me to her husband as they drove away.
Anyway, for 50 cents that didn't get spent that day, I got a real-life lesson for all of us to remember from time to time. If we put ourselves in someone else's shoes for a moment and think about how are actions might affect them, maybe it would change our behavior at times. I'm sure there are people we don't always treat the kindest, or think of them first, or even feel like loving at times, and yet our actions can create goodness and self-esteem and love in others. In our families of course, but it could be neighbors, friends or even strangers.
I wish I had known the woman who killed Teagan {and Peggy} before she did what she did. I wish I could have told her that her life had worth and mattered to God. I wonder if she would have thought about her actions if she knew someone actually cared about them. I know I can't change a thing about it at this point in my life.
But for 50 cents, maybe we all can make a difference from time to time in someone else's life. I guess there were a few good Nitty.Gritty. deals at my garage sale afterall.

Friday, July 21, 2006


I told you that I worked at Good Company. I also found my old TGI Friday's uniform last week when I was going through stuff for our garage sale. I put it on and my niece, Aly, was impressed that I haven't changed much in size or craziness since those waitressing days. Those were my "glory days" I guess. My focus has changed ALOT since that time in my life. I sure don't miss having to work for tips either!

Changing your focus

I can't tell you the last time I sat down and grabbed the remote and watched a full program. In fact, I had to scan through the channels last week to find out which one was HGTV for my mom when she was here last week. I do know that 20 is Nickelodeon, 6 is PBS, 50 is Cartoon Network and 66 is the Disney Channel. Oh yeah. For hubby, 25 is ESPN and 95 is FOX News. There you go. We do have tvs in our house, we have DVD players and we still have 2 VCRs. So I am not telling you that you can't have tv in your house. But, I am telling you that I hardly watch a thing on it.
Even after being a Media Communications major in college, I have strayed from my television/video roots. For all you Minnesota fans, I even interned with Steve Edelmann & Sharon Anderson at KSTP's Good Company Show. Remember that one? It was the "Today Show" for Minneapolis/St.Paul. I studied tv and sort of hoped to get into it somehow. Then we ended up as guests on the Oprah Show. Our particular show aired 4 or 5 times. However, I admit, that even as a former guest on her show, I can't tell you when I've watched her program. It's been a very long time.
I'm sure I have a very valid reason. You know- a Nitty.Gritty. point to my story. As in, "I'm telling you all this because...". But, I'm not exactly sure when it happened. It's sort of been evolving and I'm realizing my reasons for not watching TV or movies has changed the past year or so. Some of you understand that when you have a husband or kids that you just sort of give up control of the remote and the channels that you click too. Just to keep peace in your home.
That is certainly a big part of it for me. But, still, I find myself turned off mostly by the constant barrage of messages that are sent directly or indirectly- through the shows themselves, and definitely through the advertising within them. If you watch tv at all, you must know what I'm referring to. Even a lot of music out there today tells us the same stuff.
The kinds of messages that tell me that I'm not good enough just the way I am. That I need something that I don't already have. Or that someone, somewhere has something bigger or better than me and it begins to create this discontent inside me- just by watching images on a screen or listening to certain songs. It might be the unrealistic body images of men and women- the size 0 and 1 types or the cars that gleam down the winding road at a savings of $2000 cash back, or the toilet bowl cleaner that does the work for me, or even facial cream that can diminish lines overnight. I'm telling you, these people and products are amazing, but they just don't do it for me.
It started happening to me the weeks I spent at Hurley Hospital waiting for myself and my family members to recover so that we could go back home. Each day there felt like an eternity to me. I had a million things running through my mind at any given moment and was dealing with post-traumatic stress syndrome (which I never believed in until I actually had it myself!) and would find that turning the tv on made my stomach churn. Even the shows I had been following and enjoying up until that time suddenly seemed meaningless and trivial. They didn't matter in my life one bit. It made no difference to me that Ross and Rachel were getting back together. Or that the stock market was looking up or that Oprah was interviewing Brad Pitt. I couldn't have cared less about any of it. It was strange. Even Al Roker's weather report made my stomach hurt. Nothing mattered at that point in time except for me praying that the people I loved most in life would live. I just wanted my life back.
It went on like that for about 6 weeks. (We came home from the hospital after 3 weeks.) And then one morning Chip called me to come downstairs to see something unbelievable happening on tv. I was still using a wheelchair or crutches to get around, so I made him tell me why exactly I should come and see the tv. He said, "You have to see this. One of the Twin Towers in NYC is on fire." I made my way down the stairs, and just like most of you, I sat glued to my tv the rest of that day. 9/11. I cried when the towers began to fall. It was like I was watching a bigger version of what I had just lived through six weeks earlier. I was still having nightmares every night because of the sound and smell of the building I was inside when it was crashed into by a car. It was so small-scale in comparison- but yet I knew exactly what some of these people on tv were feeling. And I knew exactly what they would be feeling for weeks afterwards.
These two events happening in my life changed my focus. They made me so keenly aware of the false messages that bombard our lives every single day. They made me realize that what matters in life is not what kind of car I drive or what kind of shampoo I use, but that I get one shot at it- and that I never know when that "one shot" is going to be over.
I can't say that I do it right everyday. I mean, I'm still human. I still have feelings and emotions and kids that can change those feelings and emotions with their own good or bad attitudes, and I still have hair that doesn't always cooperate no matter how much product in scrunch in it on certain days. I even turn up the radio and sing out the lyrics from songs like, Jack & Diane. But, my focus has changed. I try not to let that kind of stuff occupy more time from my life than it should. I sometimes have to remind myself after particularly trying days, that it doesn't really matter, as long as I keep my eyes and mind focused. I think you are all aware of my focus by now.
It's not on getting a bigger house. Or a fatter paycheck. Or earning the attention of someone I admire from afar. It's not about the 10 pounds I could stand to lose or the iPod I should think about getting.
It's about what I do each day that will matter for the rest of eternity. It's about me wanting my kids so badly to love God with all their heart, mind and soul, so that they can spend eternity in Heaven too. It's about me wanting to tell as many other people what I have learned in my life. That is that there are a lot of people and things telling you the wrong messages everday. Whether it be the music you listen to, the programs you watch, or the kinds of people you surround yourself with each day. Do they make you better? Do you get inspired after listening or watching them...or do they create a longing inside you for something more? Do you realize that if today were the last day you had with your closest loved ones that a lot of the things in your life just wouldn't matter anymore? I do. I realize it everyday, and it has changed my focus in life forever.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Reason to celebrate...again.

You know if I had a picture of my mom in a two-piece, I'd post it here today. I know there are some out there, but not in my possession. Regardless, she deserves being celebrated today, on her 50-something birthday.
I enjoyed spending time with her and my families back in Minnesota last month, and she was here at our home last week for a few days. It is always a treat to have Mom around. The kids love her sense of humor, her silly games, her cooking, and the way she just makes you feel happy- just by being around her.
I created some controversy here awhile back when I posted about her being my biggest fan...but truly she is. I'm proud of the fact that she is proud of me. A big part of me is who I am today, because of the way she has helped mold and shape me. If I actually were to run for President, I think I would choose my Mom as my running mate. We have different views on little issues once in awhile, but we compliment one another and bring out the best in each other. I wish she lived next door to me. I mean that.
If I could describe her to you, I would have to say she is a sort of easy-going Martha Stewart on a budget...but she's never done jail-time. =)
Here's wishing my Mom a very Happy Birthday. I'm sure we'd be helping you polish off Turtle Cake with real-whipped cream if we were with you. Love you and miss you. And next year, I'll try to get my hands on a better photo to post. Maybe one of you dressed as an elf or clown or something. =)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

I'm not always right.

I loved the fact that so many of you regulars were quick to post on the day I asked you to support my guess that you were out there and in so doing you would prove Chip wrong. Thanks again, but in all honesty, I must admit that I'm not always right. In saying that, I admit that Chip sometimes is. It's true. He also thinks that I'm not always totally open with you and that you don't always get the whole Nitty.Gritty. truth.
He's right about that as well, but only to a certain point. Normally, on any given day, I draw the line and spare you the ugly details about body functions and other catastrophes that go on around here. Generally I am not proud of the fact that they occur, and normally they are not the highlights of my day, nor do I ponder them for any length of time. They are just a part of life in my home, and so I kind of skip over that kind of stuff.
For example, remember that Turtle Cake I showed you? Well, the truth is that as I whipped the cream and prepared to stack the layers, one of my children took her diaper off and proceeded to step in it at the same time. Chip's boss and owners of his club and their family were here for dinner, waiting for their dessert. This is what was going on while I made cake. I was summoned to the other room and found a naked girl with dirty feet standing next to her diaper on her Pottery Barn Kids butterfly rug.
Nice timing.
Nice that I was making Turtle Cake and now instead of adding a couple of teaspoons of Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla to my cream, I am cleaning a wiggling, dirty girl.
So, I clean the girl; Chip takes the rug out to the garage...{where I got to scrub it the next day!}
I didn't stress out about this whole thing. In fact, I was probably very "breezy" about it in real life. I'm used to this sort of thing. I live my life knowing that everyday we all are part of a broken world- in one way or another. The cake story is a really simple illustration of the brokeness that each of us faces, but my point is that it touches everyone of us in one way or another.
It might be a broken relationship. Or an illness or some sort of disease- one we were genetically predisposed to, or that simply came from nowhere. It may be a messed up self-image or doubt we carry around. It may be the pain of abuse of any kind. It may be any number of things. I just know that our world, since nearly the beginning of time, when Adam and Eve sinned, affects everyone in someway with brokeness.
Some of you are probably wondering why I am reminding you of something so awful in your life. Well, here's my Nitty.Gritty. thoughts on brokeness.
On the Sunday morning of our tragic incident, Chip and I were sitting in church with our family. I really enjoyed church, and have many friends there to this day. Yet, on that morning something struck me as we sang the words of a worship song called, "Holiness". One of the verses goes like this, "Brokeness, brokeness is what I long for. Brokeness is what I need. Brokeness, brokeness is what You want from me." I remember singing the words and then thinking, "This is crazy. Nobody here in this church wants brokeness. That's not what we want." I remember looking around and even "hand-picking" people who were singing this song and thinking to myself, "That person is totally mouthing the words...there's no way that s/he wants brokeness in their life."
Imagine my thoughts only hours later, as I lay strapped to a backboard in the local ER, where my family members were being airlifted away, bruised, broken and in critical condition. I was utterly helpless and in disbelief.
And do you know what? I was at total peace inside. I wasn't crying hysterically, but I was beginning to ache all over and I was scared when I allowed myself to imagine what might happen to everyone. Still, I was filled with peace. It was at that moment that I realized that brokeness is exactly what we all need in this life. When I realized that my nightmare was actually happening and nothing I could do or say would change the outcome of our circumstance, I was broken at the core of my being and I had no one to turn to but God. I found that in the most horrific moments of my life, when I was shattered to pieces, physically, emotionally and mentally, that God was there and He was all I needed.
I can't explain it in words, but I felt it in my heart and that is what has allowed me to live in spite of the grief and heartache, the doubts and disappointments, and the utter unfairness of it all. It's not that I have it all together. You know by now I will never claim that I do. Instead, I have learned to live with the reality of the brokeness of myself and the world we live in. I simply trust that God has it all figured out and He simply has allowed me to become whole in Him.
I hope you find ways to let God be the one to fix any broken pieces in your life too. He can and He will when you recognize your brokeness and you ask Him to make it right in life. That is one thing I KNOW I am right about. Always.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Now I'm a Nitty.Gritty. ball of nerves...,

Thanks to all those comments for Chip yesterday. I think you all proved us both wrong. I thought there were like 22 of you out there. Now I'm a wreck thinking I could be telling 75 people a bunch of baloney everyday! Yikes! At least now I know I have a good start for when I rally for votes for President in 2008. I should start designing my 'Nitty.Gritty. for President' buttons and bumper stickers now.
I apologize to all you die-hards that I posted so late today, but our power was out for the past 18 hours. I have learned that my family and I would not have made very good Hurricane Katrina victims. We were starting to lose it by mid-afternoon today. You'd think it would be fun to step back in time to when life was simpler without all the electronic gadgets we have around the house. Instead, I was getting crabby because I couldn't cook anything in my kitchen, I couldn't vacuum or do laundry, and to top it off I couldn't blog, because the battery was dead on the computer. It was beginning to get ugly around here- attitudes were starting to show, and we were getting hot and crabby without our air-conditioning.
Just in time, though, our electricity came on this evening, and life is back to normal. I never thought I'd be so happy to throw clothes in the wash machine and load the dishwasher, but it felt good tonight.
I don't know that Chip's had a chance to read all his comments. I've scrolled through them, and I have to admit, I was surprised quite a bit...and even happier that most of you read and never comment. If I had 70 comments everyday, I'd never get a thing done around here! But, thank you for all the affirmation, and even some over-the-top compliments. I'm probably not nearly as wonderful in real-life as I am on my blog. Never-the-less, I think some of you would still vote for me as President. =)

SHE"S gonna just LOVE this!

Happy Birthday, Jacque. I can't believe that people used to mistake the two of us for twins while we were growing up. You've always beat me in the looks department, but thankfully we've never competed in anything for looks, so it's worked out just fine. I wish we still had a chance to hang out and talk way into the night like we did as little girls growing up. I'm sure I've never steered you wrong with all my older sister advice...ever! I reminded myself of some of the funny memories we shared, including when we were the "church ladies" on the bus with a load of spitball-throwing juveniles, working at Panino's together, shopping- every once in awhile!, Burger Buddies, Friday's Thin Onion-rings and Pie-In-The-Sky, me PMS-ing while vacationing in Florida (remember Chip doing Aunt Jamima??!!), and of course, all the times you've had a big hug and a shoulder to cry on. I said it last month on Steph's birthday...I got more than lucky to have you in my life- not only as my best friend, but my sister as well. I'm sure you're spazzing that I posted this picture, but it just means I love you so much that I don't mind making you crazy, even on your birthday. Hope it's been a great one. Oh, and don't worry. Only about 75 anonymous individuals looked at this today. =) Love ya lots!!! ~Jody

Monday, July 17, 2006

Pics for the previous post...

Stretching ourselves.

Thanks to an early morning phonecall (Dan!), I am blogging again. Really, it wasn't that early, and sometimes I forget how much I love the quiet in my house before the kids all awake and life starts happening in my house. I feel much more centered after some time with God, my thoughts and focusing on my tasks for the day. Including this!
I think it's funny that some of you have checked back here the last couple of days and have actually "missed me". You don't even know me, and yet a part of you cares about what I do and say. I do it too. I've been away from the computer a bit more than usual and now I'm looking forward to catching up on some of my usual reads. Chip says, "people aren't clicking on your blog wondering where you are or what you're doing". I say, "Yes they are...they're my regulars". So, if you're a "regular Nitty.Gritty. reader", tell Chip "hi" in my comments today and he can see for himself that I'm right and he's wrong on this one. =) He thinks I simply have an inflated ego. I'd like to dispell that myth here today.
I ended up not get too many pictures while my sister, nephew and Mom were here, because we decided to throw together a last minute garage sale. How's that for a fun vacation?! They did most of the work and I made a couple hundred dollars cash, and got rid of some things that have taken up space for a few years. We actually had a good time doing the sale, and the kids had a blast playing with all the toys and kid stuff that we set out on display. I don't think any of them even missed not going to the beach. I've got a good 50 cent gargage sale lesson that I plan on putting into words here in a day or two, and I'll probably make a scrap page of it too. Don't let me forget.
The pictures posted today don't really go together when you look at them, but one is the visual for stretching your mind, and the other for stretching your waistline. One we can never do enough of, and the other it seems we overdo more often than we should. I made that cake last night when we had some friends over for ribs. Chip's the master of fine ribs, I must say. He may not totally get blogging, but he makes up for it with his culinary skills. I love this cake...simple and delicious. The biggest problem with this cake is that you can eat two pieces of it in one sitting. It's that good. Sometimes it's called "Turtle Cake" and in other circles it's referred to as "Better-than-sex cake". Since that last title is actually a debatable topic, I'll just leave it at that. I don't want to cause any unnecessary controversy here. But it is really good!
The other picture is of Wyndham just before she headed out to therapy the other morning. She was signing "train", because she was getting ready to go on a field trip to a train. I just thought she looked so grown up and I realized how much of what she is learning each day is something I must learn too. She is doing very well with sign language, although we still aren't giving up on her speaking at some point in her life. She makes lots of different sounds, she can say a few words- very occasionally when she is prompted, and she expresses herself in lots of ways that we understand. Still, we are working with her at home and in therapy to learn sign language and she does wonderful with it. In fact, I am getting behind in all the words she can sign and understand. I am a busy mom, as you know, and learning a new language can be a challenge even when a person has the desire, interest and good reason to learn it.
I was thinking about all the things I have had to learn or force myself to do since Wyndham received her closed-head injury. I never dreamed I'd give her a shot every night. I never dreamed I'd learn so much about brain functions and medicine. I never dreamed I have to learn sign language and use it in my life everyday. If I had dreamed my future five years ago, I'm certain I would have laughed or been overwhelmed. I would have fought it every step of the way. Instead, I look back and can't believe all that has transpired. We've all come a long way, and although it's been rough at times, it's been managable. Without really realizing it somedays, we were stretching ourselves and growing and learning together.
What is something you have dreamed about or want so badly in your future? Does it seem totally ridiculous to you when you imagine it coming true? Do other people support you or laugh at you when you share your ideas with them about your far-fetched dreams? Have you put some of your crazy ideas on hold because they seem too crazy for you? If so, I challenge you to take one tiny, bitty step toward your silly dream. And then another one after that. Just see what happens for a little while. A little bit of reaching and stretching every single day will bring you closer to your goal, and it's likely you'll hardly feel the effects of your efforts along the way.
I believe that more of us need to stretch ourselves more than we do. Maybe not with praline chocolate cake so much, but in other really beneficial areas of our lives. I just might start waking up a little earlier each day for starters. On my own- not from an unexpected phonecall. =)

Friday, July 14, 2006

I hear ya...

Thanks again for so many neat stories and emails. I read all my mail, and most of them I shared with my mom and sister who are visiting from MN for a few days too. Your messages have been touching and encouraging. And some of you need to give yourselves more credit with how you write and put your thoughts into words. I enjoyed very much getting your notes, and pardon me if I don't respond to you, but I have good intentions- so you still might get a Nitty.Gritty. reply.
Other than that, the plans for the next couple of days is for us to create some good, laid-back summer memories with Grandma Genie, my sister and her kids. I'm sure real whipped cream will be a part of those memories at some point, and probably lots of laughter and simply enjoying being together. Maybe a few pictures to come too. =)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

a little bit off-beat...

Those people who know me well can tell you that I have a different sense of humor and outlook on life at times. One of my good friends in college used to call me "Crazy Jody".... and she was the one wearing striped red & green Dr. Seuss tights to class! I was the one hanging out with her though, so I guess I was a little crazy. Things make me laugh that would make others cry. I've always been good at trying to see things from a different angle.
One of my favorite mottos is "Why be ordinary when you can be extraordinary?!" I live by that when I can, when I remember, or when things in life are too normal that something in me says, "do something to shake things up a bit". So I do things like bake cakes for George W. Bush's birthday, or I crank music at the dinner table and me and the kids sing into our spatulas at the top of our lungs. Good, different, funny stuff that makes life a little more interesting along the way.
Sometimes it's tough for me to strike a balance between living life and dreaming about eternity. I get caught up in my thoughts that sometimes I wish my days had more minutes in them. Or I wish I didn't have to spend time thinking about what to buy for dinner, than what to make for dinner, then preparing dinner, then eating dinner, then cleaning up after dinner, and knowing I will do it all again each night of the week.
Do you follow me on this at all? My thoughts of Heaven and God's plans and our lives connecting with others consume me at times. I usually do my best thinking in the quiet of the late night or early morning. Today, after reading so many emails from some of you, I was again reminded that I am on the right path. It still has bumps and turns that I may or may not know about, but I know I am headed in the right direction. It got me thinking about you. I know I am no special person, no matter how different or crazy I may try to be at times, and yet God has made Himself known to me and given me a faith which I can't always explain, but I know it is real. It makes me feel a little bit guilty- like I have something really great in life, but I don't deserve at all. That's exactly what God's grace and mercy is though! We get something so wonderful in this life...and secure a spot in Heaven for all eternity, by accepting the gift of salvation from God- that we have done nothing to earn or deserve on our own. Faith, grace, mercy. They blow me away, and define my life simultaneously.
Several of you have emailed me about how my life experiences have made you seek faith, or made you finally believe what you sort of felt all along. I realized that my story of tragedy did the same thing for me several years ago. One of the news articles even had a quote about Chip and I saying, "Rather than reject their faith, their incident has confirmed their beliefs". That's so true! I have never felt closer to God than when I had no rhyme or reason to care that He even existed in my life. While Teagan lay in the hospital hooked up on life support, I can't explain it, but God was there. He has given me a real peace and filled my heart with hope since the minute my life took a major turn. He has been with me (I include Chip and the rest of my family) through it all. I don't deserve His comfort and blessings in life, but I accept them, and I keep asking Him for ways to share these blessings with others.
Yesterday, your comments and emails confirmed to me again, that this has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with God. It makes me wonder, what does God want to do in your life. Surely He doesn't just have plans for me. I know I'm not THAT special. =) Are you seeking Him and looking toward eternity? Are you struggling with something- maybe you have been for years- that just doesn't make sense, no matter how much advice or different things you try in life to make it right? Are you mad at God and blaming Him for your problems?
Maybe your issue is exactly the thing God is using to get your attention. Maybe through your struggle God is wanting you to turn to Him and rely on Him, even if it's scary and painful and even if He seems too far away or you feel too small to Him.
One of the best pictures I imagine of Heaven {which will turn into a scrap page at some point} is one in which I see Teagan surrounded by a crowd of people. So many people that I can't get to her as close as I would like to be. As I make my way near her and push through the people (saying "excuse me" all along the way, because even though my heart is pounding and I haven't touched Teagan in decades, I'm still being polite- I mean, I am in Heaven), I see Teagan beaming and when I get close enough to hear her she says, "Guess what?" (Teagan loved little guessing games.) She repeats herself, "Guess what, Mom. These people are all standing here because of you. These people are here because of what happened to us and how you responded to it!" I get choked up just thinking about it. That maybe it's true. Maybe I will get to spend all eternity with friends of mine and people like you because you simply watched how I lived and God spoke to your heart through me. It's a little bit off-beat... a little bit twisted. But it's thoughts such as those that bring smiles to my face; they lift my heart, and even keep me from making balanced dinners for my family sometimes. =) So, if what I have to say today makes any sense to you at all, thank God for the way He is speaking to you today.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

"T" cake and scrap layout from Beth...

I couldn't get this uploaded last night. Probably it was a sign I should have been in bed sleeping instead of trying to upload pictures at 1 am. Oh well. Live and learn, right?! =) {Click on the pic for a larger view- in case you didn't know that already.}

Nitty.Gritty. invitation for you~

First of all, I have to admit that when I re-read my blog posts somedays I realize the depth of my words even more than when I type them out. It's sort of strange, but true. For the record, I don't always talk the way I write. I mean really, I can't recall the last time I said the word "sought" in real life (have you used it in a sentence lately?!), but it totally fit what I had to say a couple of days ago. Just had to note that for the record.
Next, I'm serious when I talk about all the thinking and reflecting going on in my head these days. I think it's partly because of some of you too. You see, besides the comments left each day on this blog, I get several emails each week from readers like you. Old and new, rarely have I ever met any of you, nor will we likely meet in the future. But blogging creates a certain connection. Even as a communication graduate, I'm not sure what to call this relationship, but it's definitely real.
Beth, emailed me a digital scrap layout that she said was inspired by my blog and Teagan. I love it when someone feels led for whatever reason, to share with me their story of how my life has touched theirs. This particular layout (using Rhonna Farrer's Tattoo "something" kit) made me stop and think. I realized how important it is for all of us to be sharing our stories with one another as we walk through life. We gain insight and meaning and purpose when we share the important parts of us with others.
There are so many of you who have left nice comments and sometimes you send a picture or two, or tell me about a product that you bought that made you think of me or my story. You know who you've walked up to the barista at your local Starbuck's and as you say, "non-fat, coconut latte, venti, extra hot, please", you can't help but think of Nitty.Gritty. Right?!
So, here's my latest quirky challenge for you. Drop me an email- or leave me a comment, on a specific thing you do or say differently in your life because of me and my blog. It doesn't have to be life-changing, but it can be. If you can take a picture of an item, or scrap a layout with some journaling, I will post it here. On Nitty.Gritty.
My hubby's gonna think I'm looking for people to gush about me or get emails that will make all the love you have for me go to my head. This happens to be one of the times in his life he is wrong. =) {Love ya, Chip!} I just think it's a neat thing to see how one person's life can affect another- especially when it's a good thing. So, if you're up to it, I'd love to hear from you.
To get you started, I'll share a couple of ideas. One blogger (Stephanie T...what a sweet lady and we've never met) left comments on occasion, and on the day we marked Teagan's birthday, she happened to be having a party for her own son. She had candles on the cake that spelled out "Happy Birthday", and she took a picture and told me that when she lit the "T", she did it in memory of Teagan. And it just so happened it was the one purple candle in the bunch. Yep...that was Teagan's favorite color. Her email warmed my heart and made me smile that day.
Finally, some of you know that Andy W. and I share a unique friendship. We could sit and sing with him playing his guitar and the two of us harmonizing old hymns for probably a whole afternoon and never tire of it. Besides that, he and his wife have been there for Chip and I since he saw us at the Gaylord ER the day of our incident. Actually, they've been with us in the ER or watching our kids when one of us has been in the ER more times than they care to have been - dear people- and yet they're still our friends. That's how great of friends they are!
Anyway, back to my point. Back in February, I wrote a limerick on this blog and asked everyone to have fun writing their own. I personally emailed Andy and asked him to write a limerick- he's so great at poems and stories, oh, yeah, he writes songs too. Instead of a limerick, he wrote an ode to me. I just seems fitting for me to post it now. I hope he still means every word of it. But really, it's not me. It's been about God and me relying on Him since I was just a kid. But I still think this is a sweet poem. Now, if I could just get Chip to write me something. (hint...hint.)









Monday, July 10, 2006

Going home...

As I continue to move through this month of July, I am amazed at how much my life, my thoughts and my memories are still affected by Teagan and the events of July 29th, 2001. It became even clearer and more pronounced as Chip and I revisited Gaylord and some of the sights and friends in our life from that very day and time. We went back to Gaylord and Johannesburg to enjoy a wedding and have a good time, and yet I was struck by how strongly I felt Teagan's presence and God's peace all over again. I am not one to outwardly express my deep inner emotions, but I was keenly aware of them and they touched me in a powerful way the last couple of days.
Instead of shedding tears and expressing myself in person, here I am pouring those feelings out in word. Maybe they won't even make sense. Maybe they won't mean anything to you- but I believe that tears are like that sometimes. They don't always fall at the appropriate moment, or even make sense at times. They are simply an extension of what's in our hearts.
I am beginning to realize that life may not be as random as I think it is somedays. When I wrote about being at the particular place where our paths crossed with that of unbelievable circumstance on July 29th, 2001, I never believed that was "random". I don't believe God "put" us in that place either, but I do believe He "allowed" those events to occur- for whatever reason, I don't quite know. I believe that He is able to make sense out of what happened- maybe not in my lifetime and I may not understand fully- but I trust that He can make something beautiful out of something ugly, hurtful and painful- if I allow Him to do so. It's not easy or simple to do- to hand Him your hurt and brokeness. But I am finding that it's true.
As we drove around various spots in town and I saw some of the very places where I experienced the greatest pain and heartache of my life, I was filled with peace and warmth. I sometimes expect the worst in life- which is one of the things that drives my husband nuts about me- but that's just how I am. He says I'm negative at times- I say I'm realistic. We didn't intend to turn back time and revisit old memories, but I couldn't stop my mind from playing some of them out. We drove out to the wedding reception on Saturday night, on the very road we drove out to the restaurant where Teagan was killed. We stopped there and talked with the family that owns the Old Depot- who have loved and supported all of us the past several years. They deserved the best and we wish them continued success with their business. We still love them, their meals, and of course, Karen's pies.
We sat in the auditorium for the wedding and for Sunday church service, the very place where we had a celebration service for the life of Teagan and a time of reflection and closure for our family on her death. I have sat in those seats probably a hundred times since the day of Teagan's memorial service, but this weekend, going back, felt so different. The memories were so vivid. Like I said, I could almost "feel" her at times. It was a good feeling. It made her "real" to me all over again. Not that I had forgotten her, but that her memory and her life still matter and impact me and probably more people than I realize at times.
As I sat in that place yesterday, reliving memories, feeling close to Teagan and sensing God's presence, I sort of glimpsed the future and my thoughts turned to Heaven. I've said it here before, I think about Heaven more then the average person probably does. I recommend the book, Heaven, Your Real Home by Joni Erickson Tada, for some depth and insight on this subject. I believe that what some people see in me is simply the reflection of joy that I get when my thoughts are so focused on the hereafter. When I'm at "my best", it is simply my mind looking ahead to what awaits me in the future. It makes my heart race and something good wells up inside me and makes all the pain and hurt of daily living pale in comparison to the glory of Heaven.
So, I sat there in church and it brought a smile to my face. I closed my eyes and imagined Teagan smiling down from Heaven. I felt her spirit and realized once again, that she's really not that far away from me. That she's in the very place where my heart longs to be!
I sat there thinking of another family, who longs to be in the place where I sat. The Cerak family is working tirelessly and with great hope and anticpation to bring their daughter, Whitney back home with them. I couldn't help but pray for them and hurt with them and this longing in their heart to be back home in Gaylord. I understand that ache- as I felt it for many hours and days while me and my family recovered at Hurley Hospital in Flint, nearly five years ago. Some of the days spent there felt like an eternity. I've learned firsthand how overwhelming it can be to sit in hospitals and rehab centers- even though those places are doing so much good for the persons in need of thier care- they can zap the life out of the people who are watching and waiting for the day they can return home. It is no easy task to wait for and watch healing take place.
I sat in "their seats" yesterday. I realized that I was "home"- where they long to be. I imagined the welcome and joy they will feel on their return. I imagined the peace they will feel in their hearts. It was another glimpse of Heaven for me.
My heart is overflowing with the peace and contentment I feel right now. Going back to the place where the biggest hurt touched my life thus far, made me realize that I'm on my way "home". It's really not that far away, and when I get there, it will make the heartache of my journey worth every tear I've shed and every ache my heart has held through the years. I look forward and can't wait for the day, when I'm truly home! That thought is what carries me through my hardships and gives me reason to rejoice in life- even when it isn't fair or easy somedays. I know that Heaven will be worth it. I know Teagan is cheering me homeward, and God is carrying me through. I am learning that the events of my life- the ones that probably aren't so random afterall- are stepping stones for me on my way home.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Old friends...renewed relationships.

I have missed some of my "old" Gaylord friends more than I've realized the past year and a half. Chip and I were able to get away for the night back to our former stomping grounds up north. We went to a friend's wedding and enjoyed our short visit back home. Some things have changed, others have stayed the same. It was a fun 36 hours or so.
Remember back in January when Chip and I got away for a short weekend to Iowa- without the kids? (See January 16th archives if you really want to remember.)I posted about how we realized that we still like each other and we really are good friends and can still carry on a conversation and laugh with one another and just be. When you have busy schedules and 4 small kids you can forget about the way life is as 2 people.
Throw in a good message given by Pastor Jim at the wedding ceremony, and you can't help but feel like you renew your own love in your relationship. So, to everyone that we got to see and hug and catch up with and laugh with and reminisce about old times with this weekend, thanks. Your friendships are missed more than you know!
Congrats Rachel, David and all their families. You guys looked great!! [Hope you don't mind your pics here. =)]

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The $1.oo cake that made a memory.

Two posts per day-

Can you tell that I haven't been scrapping lately? I've got more time in my day because of that, and therefore I've been taking more pictures and posting twice a day.
I had to add this one...
I was mixing up some cake batter, with plans to let the kids blow out candles "Just because". I've learned that you don't need a good reason to have a good time. Did you know that you can buy cake mixes for sometimes under a dollar...and in my case I got free frosting with a coupon too. Throw in a few eggs, a splash of Crisco, 1 1/4 cups of water, and Voila! Major points with the kids in the cool parenting department, and a memorable moment made for years to come all for about $1.oo. Not bad.
So, as the beaters were humming, I started thinking about what to pretend celebrate, when it dawned on me that it was an important person's birthday today. Any guesses? You'll know him when I say his name- but don't necessarily celebrate his birthday each year. I happen to have a kid who loves history and stuff about America, so we did celebrate his birthday last year too. Give up?
It's President George W. Bush's birthday today. I don't know why I remembered this little known fact, but it was good timing, so I went along with it. I can't tell you a whole lot about what's happening in our nation's current events, and I could use some brushing up on our foreign affairs and policies (I figure I'll do this as I get closer to age 35 when I'm eligible to run for president...I'll expect a few of your votes too!), but I've always been taught to respect those in authority, and I think someone like the US President has certainly earned my respect. I don't know that we'll ever meet, but my kids enjoyed celebrating his birthday nonetheless. And me? I realized it's been awhile since I've written the word BUTTERCREAM on my nitty.gritty. blog. I forget that I don't need an excuse to do that either! So, here's to celebrating the president's birthday and enjoying calories straight from my favorite flavor of icing- Buttercream. Yum!