Thursday, June 21, 2007

No better place to be...

...than wrapped in the arms of the one in whom you feel loved and secure. I had to pick and choose from all the pictures I have in which Bella and Chip are sharing hugs, rubbing noses and sharing their love. The ones posted her are a snippet of all the hugs these two have shared in just under 5 years. =)
I think I've shared this story here before, but it's one that I don't mind repeating. After Teagan died and life just held heartache and brokenness for Chip and me, I prayed and cried every single day that God would give us Teagan back, or turn back time and have life happen differently for us on the day of July 29, 2001. There was such a void in our lives without Teagan's laughter and singing and excitement around our house. But I think what I craved most were her tight hugs and her unconditional love. She especially poured it on thick for Chip, but it was evident and felt to all of us who were privileged to have shared time with her in life. Her hugs were tight, her love was innocent and sincere.
Although we never planned on having kids after our tragedy, God had other ideas for us. In fact, we would lose Teagan and have Isabella all within a year's time. When Isabella was born, my heart was still aching with grief from Teagan's death, and with the daily challenges and hurts we were living with and beginning to realize their lasting impacts from day to day. I know I had concerns at how I'd be as a mother at this point in time, and with all the issues and 'scars' Chip and me and Brock and Wyndham had. We weren't exactly the perfect choice to welcome a newborn into our lives...yet it happened. I thank God for the way He chooses to work at times- even when those plans don't make sense to me in the least. Including the death of one little girl and the birth of another.
I would never claim that Teagan could be replaced in our hearts and lives, nor would I ever suggest that Bella or Ava or anyone else is her replacement. But I do know that God heard my cries and although He didn't give us Teagan back, He has filled our hearts with peace and comfort and has given us the gifts of Bella and Ava- and their presence has given us reason for much joy in life.
As you can see from these pictures, Isabella has a lot of love and laughter to share. She has a lot of spunk and energy and somehow got the same ability to give the tightest hugs around the neck- much the same way that Teagan did. It's no surprise to me that she was awarded the character quality of 'loving' at preschool earlier this year. It's no surprise to me that she dotes on Chip the way she does. She is all about wearing her heart on her sleeve, and making sure that she never misses an opportunity to give or get hugs and love.
These pictures and my thoughts this week have cemented in my heart and mind just how much a Daddy's love matters to their kids. And how much it hurts when it's not given or received. When I was in jr. high I kept a small notebook for myself, and just recently I read through its pages. Some of my thoughts made me laugh- to read them now. But one of the things I had written resonated with me; it was a list of "Things to remember should I ever have kids". Among the things on that list was the statement, "Never stop showing your love to them- even if they act like they don't want it in their life".
I am happy that the love and hugs and affection come easily and are obvious in our kids' lives right now. I know that I was fortunate to have love expressed to me all the time when I was a kid. But I am also aware that time can change and hormones and puberty happen and that love sometimes is hard to do- even among those you love most. I know that Chip is making a point to model his love and share his time and attention with all of our kids...and even though they're young, I know it is rubbing off on them and shaping their image and self-worth. I hope that together, we will be an example, not of perfection and ease of parenting, but of people who love and care and seek to be a haven of safety and unconditional love. The world is full of places for kids to find hurt and to not feel as though they are 'good enough' or worth time and affection. I hope that Chip and I can offer something different...I hope our kids grow up to feel that truly, there is no better place to be than surrounded by love and security.
For now, I continue to take notes on how to constantly be a better person and parent. And I hope that, along with Chip, our kids and people around us will know that loving others isn't always easy...but it is always enough- and it always has deep, lasting rewards. For everyone touched by love.


Cara said...

thanks for these sweet posts about chip and your kiddos! priceless.

i am loving that you kept a little journal in middle school with notes to yourself as an adult! funny! recently, i scoured my mom's basement looking for an old ratty turqoise spiral notebook i kept in high school - i was specifically interested in finding my "14 Day John Countdown" . . . this was the plan i devised as the summer between my freshman and sophomore year was coming to a close and i was scrambling to devise a plan to start dating a boy from my summer swim league before we went back to our individual schools in the fall and didn't see each other anymore!
i do know that we went on a few dates (a movie and a few school dances) but i would LOVE to see how my 14 year old mind planned it all out and made it happen! :)

have a great day jody!

Cara said...

btw - i have a fun RAK on my blog today . . .

patterns of ink said...

Ah, Summertime! Great pix and post.

I wanted to share a prayer request. You’ve perhaps read in a post or two that I have a brother Dave [2 years older]. He lives in a small historic district of registered centennial homes north of Detroit. He is an excellent videographer/ filmmaker both privately and commercially. He is shooting our daughter's wedding next week. He also made two films to show: one at the wedding and one at the reception. Anyway, he called Tuesday to say they were done and ready to put in the mail.
Then he then went a few blocks away to a friend's house. Within the hour, his son called. He was asleep in his upstairs bedroom and woke up choking in smoke. The house was burning. He climbed down from his upstairs balcony. Smoke billowing from all windows. Fire on all three floors.
[The fire started in a junction box in the basement and climbed up the clothes chute.] Dave came home and 4 fire trucks soon joined him. He called back while they were busting out windows and hosing down his house. They'll be out of the house for 4 months. Basically, everything is either burned, melted, or smoke damaged. Amazingly, a fireman pulled much of his editing suite out to the lawn. In the pile was his cameras, hard drives, computers, and over 400 baby-thru-dating pictures of my daughter and her fiancĂ©. The house was full of antiques on both floors. Most can be salvaged. Insurance is taking good care of them. He insists on still shooting the wedding. They’re spirits are very good considering what these past two days have held.
It's too soon to post this at POI, but I wanted to tell some folks about it. Thank God they're all Okay, but please pray for them as they sort through this sad debris.

DixieC said...

Jody, I have been a LONG time lurker on your blog. I read it every day. You are so good at putting your thoughts into words and this little series of each child with their dad is the best. You are such an inspiration to me, to do better to be a better stronger person. WOW!

Keep up everything you are doing. See you over at SIStv!

Melody in MN said...

Dear Jody & Chip, your kids are so blessed to have such loving parents. May God grant you continued peace and joy in your home!

Anonymous said...

So sweet! As I was reading your post, I thought about my youngest son. He's 4 and recently developed this notion that he can't fall asleep lying down b/c he'll throw up. So he falls asleep with me holding him in the recliner (reading blogs, like right now!). Then I take him upstairs and put him in bed. Most nights, as I pick him up, his little arms wrap tightly around my neck in the sweetest pure hug - even though he's asleep, it warms me right through. Pure hugs melt your heart every time, don't they?

Michelle said...

Jody I'm so enjoying visiting your blog every single day this week. I look forward to the pictures that you share and your observations and stories. Thanks for sharing!

Adrienne said...

I vividly recall a time when I was in jr. high and my mom was dropping me off for school one morning. We were a hugging/kissing family, but this particular morning I said, "Mom, let's just hug and skip the kiss..." How I must have broken her heart! I don't remember how long I was in this phase because I do remember always hugging my parents, but I'm glad to be over it now. I don't mind being a 35 year old woman kissing my mom in public and I most certainly don't mind smooching on my 'almost' 5 year old daughter. As we both know, life's too short to stifle the love! Em's told me that she doesn't want to get married because she only wants to kiss Jason and me forever...ahhh, so pure! She also wants to live with us forever, even if she does get married, but that's another story.

Enjoy your beautiful Michigan summer! I miss that place!

vickey Weiss said...

Hi - I just came across your blog after seeing one of your comments on Sheye's site. I'm from Stillwater, MN :)

I am just overwhelmed at what your family has gone through. Your strength and love is such an inspiration. I am going to hug my three children tighter that ever in the morning.

Hugs to you-