Wednesday, February 07, 2007

A couple of secrets...

I was about to post a few tips and tricks when I read a recent comment from Robin asking for some of them, so I'll take that as a 'sign' to go ahead with my thoughts. Here is another picture of the girls painting- which Bella and Ava did again today. They LOVE to paint! Why does it always seem the the bigger the mess something creates, the more kids love that activity?! Like splashing in the tub, or finger-painting, or playdough, or decorating anything with frosting and sprinkles, or dumping 812 pieces of Polly Pockets all over the room...or even Star Wars Legos. You see, although I love making things and doing crafts, I'm not totally sold on creating total chaos in the process. That is the part that my kids are teaching me to accept.
If I want to enjoy them being happy, and if I want to watch them grow and learn and experience new things, well then, I am learning and gaining more patience during the process of reaching that desired end.
Sometimes I feel like it's a never-ending process. But then I take a short step back and realize just how far they have come and grown in such a short time. And one look at Bella (yes, for the reader who asked about her striking resemblence to her sister, Teagan, it does take my breath away sometimes) and it hits me how quickly this time passes. Bella is about two months older than Teagan was when she died. I remember distinctly thinking how "grown up" Teagan was as she lay in her hospital bed just before she died. I remember thinking of all the things we had done together and feeling a 'twinge of happiness' at all the memories I had to cling to at that time, and I really thought I had lived so much life with her. (She was my oldest at that time...not quite 4 and a half years old.) Now I look at Brock (turning 8 in just over a week) and Wyndham, who is six, and Bella (4 1/2) and finally Ava (almost 3), and I can't believe how young they seem and how much I dream about all the things we will do as they continue to grow. I am sometimes more saddened as they grow up and we experience things and the reality hits me of what I missed out on with Teagan. Like preschool, and losing teeth, and listening to their vocabulary grow and change. And especially watching their personalities develop and change over time. I will never fully know Teagan- until I meet her in Heaven someday...and that thought makes my heart ache from time to time. Like right now, as I type this. It really hits me that she's gone and life has moved on without her. I feel like I leave another piece of her behind me each night when the day comes to an end. That's a pain and ache I will feel forever, I believe, and for those of you who have lost a loved one- especially a child, you would probably agree with me.
But that's not such a bad thing, because on the other hand I realize that each morning brings me one day closer to that great reunion with her for all eternity! So, one of my secrets of living from day to day, and to answer Robin's question about seeming happy and 'doing it all'...well, I work hard at "staying focused" on what truly matters in my life in the scheme of things. Meaning, when I wake up, I almost always say a prayer of thanks to God for the blessings He has given to me (if I'm having a particularly hard time, I can always thank Him for sparing my life, my husband's, Brock's and Wyndham's in our tragic incident...and then thank Him for the gifts of Bella and Ava) and I ask Him to give me strength to do what I need to do that day...and the ability to do it with joy- if possible. (I ask for joy A LOT! I find that God is answering that prayer more and more as I continue to ask for it and seek it everywhere.)
I also know that I have a unique perspective, since witnessing the death and trauma of Teagan and what my family has endured. That perspective brings a whole new realm to my life. It has allowed me to "give up" a lot of the things that used to take up my time, and I have replaced those things with more important things. For example, I used to worry about money and bills, and Chip and I didn't always see eye to eye on this. But I have learned that money isn't something I want to consume my life. And to be honest with you, the less I worry about it, the less of a problem is has been in our lives. Not that I worried I wouldn't have it, but money used to control a lot of my thoughts and caused stress in my life. Now I have learned things will happen. Money isn't really a big concern to me anymore. I am learning that God will take care of me, and that He wants my money to be His problem- not mine. SO, I have gotten much better about money issues around here. And I have no more stress about it. I gave that over to God. Along with a lot of other things in my life.
Things like being concerned with Wyndham's health. Even today, Chip and I had a doctor appointment with her and her physiatrist (that's her doctor of rehabilitaion/brain injury). We had a consult about what needs to be done with her feet alignment. (She's been wearing ankle orthodics for over a year now.) One of the treatments is putting her legs/feet in a double cast. Now, this thought does not make me happy...and can even bring out the worst side of me- like the whole attitude I get about "just my life"/"as if we need one more trauma to deal with"...that attitude. But you know what? We got a 'wait and see' report today, and as I whispered, "Thank you God for that" in the doctor's office, I realized that a time may come when we deal with big concerns with Wyndham, but I just can't dwell on the "what if's". Life is too short for that, as far as I'm concerned. It takes away from living in the moment to get hung up on things that may or may not happen.
So, I have that perspective too. I basically try to live each day, doing the best I can with what I have, not getting stuck in a pit of despair and looking at life and all the ways it hasn't turned out the way I would have wanted it to...or wishing I could turn back time and have a chance to do things differently. But I seek to put a spin on everything. Sometimes I'm really good at it- after more than five years of doing it now. But even in the very beginning, I know God has given Chip and I the ability to "see the bigger picture" and to find little bits of happiness in what could otherwise break people down. Chip was better at this from the very first moments of our tragedy- he even joked with his friends while in the ER at Otsego Memorial Hospital. Since then, he has made comments like, "We throw a pretty good funeral" (after Teagan's second memorial service...I know. I know. That's sad- but it's sort of true. We had balloons and bubbles and ice cream sundaes and tried to make it "fun" for the friends and family who came to celebrate Teagan's life...we wanted it to reflect how we felt about her, and we imagined that Teagan would be proud of the way we handled ourselves- even in her death.) Chip has also enjoyed telling people his joke about losing 30 pounds while he was in the hospital- he fondly refers to is as "the drive-though diet". Maybe it sounds really morbid and dark, but our sense of humor has been one of the reasons I credit our marriage for staying together through our most difficult hardships in life.
I guess this is getting a lot longer than I had originally thought, but I have so much to say about this topic. It's truly not me, though. That's the most important thing to see when you read Nitty.Gritty. as an outsider and you 'watch my life'. Some of it is the editing. You see a lot of the fun and games here. I just don't think it would be quite as effective if I posted pictures of my laundry and the messes I clean up when my kids get sick (all the time!). You see Gingerbread houses and kids at the beach and smiles and paints and good stuff. =) Which goes back to how I try to live my life. I try to focus on the good stuff and only touch on the 'bad stuff'. Otherwise my life could be overwhelming...and probably to many of you it would be!
Mostly though, it is really God. He gives me more grace and patience and understanding and perspective than I really deserve much of the time. That's the part that I want people to know about me. He's my "secret to how I do it all". Without Him, I truly couldn't. I would have thrown in the towel a long time ago. In fact, it would have taken a lot less tragedy in my life for me to want to give up- and I'd still be living my life worrying about money, or caring what people think of me and how I raise my kids, or thinking about the big house I'd like to have someday, or getting crabby about things like Pop Tart crumbs or why can't Chip and I have more family time together. Lots of stuff. I know. Life was like that for me at one time.
Now I know that I have one opportunity in this lifetime, and even then, I still don't know how much time I truly have. SO, I embrace it. I accept it. I live to make the most of it. I feel terrible about not doing enough with my life sometimes...but God is still working in me and teaching me that He has His own plans and I should just trust Him to work them all out.
In the meantime, I carve out time reading my Bible, so that I can "hear God more clearly". I also spend time in prayer and playing our keyboard singing worship songs and hymns. This keeps me grounded and really helps with any anxiety or stress my life could give me. I try to stay focused on living a life that matters- not for me, from day to day, but for all eternity. I want my kids to know that doing your best- even when it hurts or is really difficult, is still a possibility and that God is at His best- when we are at our worst, I think.
Somedays that means I let my kids paint and make a mess. Other days I blog too much and tell other hurting people that there is One in whom they can put their trust. I guess in the end, I still feel like I fall short most of the time...and I'm sure my kids and hubby and friends and family would tell you that I DO fall short a lot of days. But then I get up the next day and I do it all again. With the hope of doing it better than the day before, and with the reality that there is joy in the doing and in the hoping. And one day, I have the hope of embracing Teagan, and hearing my God and Savior in Heaven say, "You did it!"
That's a little bit about the secrets of my life.
One of the others is that I use Q-tips for the brushes when the kids paint. They make a lot less mess than the brushes...they are cheap and smaller for their little hands. And the kids love the double-tips...two colors at a time! =)


Jenny said...

Jody, you are absolutely right. We all should focus on the positives. Focusing on the negatives doesn't do any good. The glass is either half full or half empty. I always like to see it half full!

I am sending you some warm wishes to help defrost the outside for ya!

Kim said...

I have been reading your blog for some time now and have been blessed by you and your family. I am doing the bible study called "Frazzled Female" by Cindi Wood. I am on the 2nd week and it just so happens to be about having a positive attitude. The memory verse is Proverbs 16:24 that says "Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the sould an dhealing to the bones." The study says that the more time we spend with God (through bible study, prayer & worship) the more positive we will become. It also says that you can't think negatively and expect to act positively. God's word tells us to rejoice in ALL things and that includes our day to day activities. We can draw on the awesome power of God to help us have a positive attitude even when we don't feel like being positive. All we have to do is believe in Him. Anyway, I think I have rambled enough. It is a really good study and doesn't take much time to do.
God Bless you and your family!!!
Kim from KY

Wendy said...

WOW I knew there was a reason I found your blog and marked it, so I could check in on your life. You are a true inspiration to me and why GOD is so important to keep as the center of your life.
God bless You and your family.

Keep on blogging
Wendy Myers

~Lea~ said...

Since I started reading your blog, I tear up but smile at the same time...a lot. Your perspective on life refreshes me. Your faith in God challenges me. And the relationship you have with your husband and kids just makes me smile. Tragic events so often rip people apart...your strength and perseverance inspire me. There is going to be a party in heaven when you and Teagan are united again...I can just feel it.

Thank you for being so open and honest in your blog posts...they really open my eyes everyday, and so often just give me joy. You are an amazing person! HUGS!

Deb said...

Jody - just wanted to say thanks! you continue to inspire me to be better in every aspect of my life. Your faith and honesty are so refreshing. Thank you!!!

Monica said...

I just started reading your blog and I love your perspective on life and your positive attitude in general (it makes me aspire to try harder :) ). I can't imagine going through some of the things your family has had to deal with, but I think you've done an amazing job!

Robin said...

WOW, thanks for answering my questions. Your blog always inspires me to be a better person, wife and mom. LOVE the Q-tips idea!

Julie said...

I have discovered your blog through some of your comments on little Noah Steven's blog. I wanted to share with you that along with Adrienne, you have inspired me in many ways with the recent loss of my daughter, Emma. I've been drawn to checking both of your blogs periodically. I read hers mostly to hear that glorious voice of God that pours out through her on a daily basis and yours, while you are great at giving props to God as well, I enjoy more for your sense of humor!
Everyone grieves differently, but everything you said in your most recent post about how strange it is to find humor in grief reminded me a little of us as well.
It's a work in progress, but thanks to you and Adrienne, I've found a home online to share Emma's beautiful face and story with the world.
Thanks for being an inspiration!

Julie said...

It's me again. I almost forgot! I have a doormat at our front door that reads: "THIS HOUSE WAS CLEAN YESTERDAY, SORRY YOU MISSED IT!"
It has been the best thing as teeny-tiny little pieces of plastic have taken over my house too!

ellen said...

You are amazing. Thanks for sharing so much about your life.

Jamie said...

The death of our children surely does put us in a different frame of mind doesn't it? I told you before, when I emailed you that long rambly email, It's made such a difference in my life, reading your stories, knowing the feelings I have I am not alone. I understand sometimes wondering what that first day would be like or whatnot. I remember when Tyler had been dead longer than alive, that was a moment for me, and getting past the fact that I never saw Hunters eyes open ate at me for years. It's all so hard to get over, but you come through so strong in the end...
Anyway, I'm rambling again, thank you for being an inspiration!!

betsy said...

Drive-through diet? That's hilarious. I love it when you post about your husband, he sounds like a blast. I also love the idea of having balloons and ice cream sundaes to celebrate the life of your little girl.

Btw, your scrapbooking rocks! It also makes me tired b/c I know I don't have the energy that must require.