Friday, July 31, 2009

It's been a wild ride!

Today is my final day as a Fashionista (design team member) with SIStv. I have so many things I could say or post about my experience there- it's been a really wonderful 2+ years. Some of my best friends were made as a result of this opportunity in my life. Some of my best smiles were shared and one was even captured here. {Love that photo, Sarah and your hair is awesome, KA!} =)
Some of my most meaningful conversations have been typed on the message boards, shared late into the night around Diane's table and shivering under blankets in Tennesee. I shopped at Anthropologie for the first time with some of my fashionista friends. I sang kareoke with many of them and announced my pregnancy with Crew to them before almost anyone else. We have lots of inside jokes and yet we have cried for one another too. I have enjoyed the creative inspiration of each of them in different ways and the entire SIS gallery consistently amazes me. One can browse the gallery any time of the day and also share your own creations with others around the world. I will continue to keep my portfolio here and hope to add to it as I find spare time to scrap and play and create handmade things.
I had no idea what to expect when JJ asked me to be on her team and SIStv made it's debut in the online world. It has been so much more than I ever imagined and I continue to wish nothing but good things for her, her family and her endeavors. I'm honored that I was a small part of it since it's launch and am grateful forever for how SIS has enhanced my life. If any of what I have typed her today resonates with you, then likely you have been a part of SIS and I'm thankful for you being a part of such a great place. Online and in my heart- SIS is a part of my life. That will never change.
Thanks, Jeanette and Fashionista friends for taking me on such a wild ride! I will treasure my memories of this time in my life always. I look forward to still seeing you- just without my little red star by my name. Love to all of you from this Fashionista at heart! xoxo

This is just a snippet of my Fashionista profile...I thought I'd share it with those of you who have never seen it and after today would miss it.
A little bit about me:
My style is...
sorta clean?
But still fun and fresh. It's driven in part by my background in graphic design, my love of mixing patterns and color, and most importantly, I want my pages/projects to be meaningful- first to me, then my family and sometimes others understand me too! I love to try out new things...I think almost anything can translate into scrapbooking if you can get it on a page. For me, meaningful & fun are essential to scrapbooking...thus my style is ever-changing!
My best scrapping is done when...
I feel there is an important message to be shared, or when the picture "doesn't tell the whole story". I'm learning that it's alright to scrap exactly what's on my heart and mind...even if I don't have a picture to match that.

I am passionate about...
the choices we have in our lives everyday. We can't control everything that happens to us, but we do get to choose how to respond. I am passionate about "fat calories" too...if I'm gonna eat dessert, it's gotta be good and worth the calories!

(I love REAL Buttercream.)
My biggest pie in the sky dream is...
getting all my kids potty-trained BEFORE my husband has to start wearing diapers in his old age. =) Oh...and maybe writing a 'real book' someday. Oh more is getting a pedicure at somepoint in life...I can't believe I've never had one yet! {I can't believe I had this posted on the website for over 2 years! I hope Chip doesn't mind!!}
Guilty Pleasure...
eating after 8:00 pm...especially if it's a calorie-laden, rich Carrot Cake or Chocolate Bread Pudding with Spiced Whipped Cream. Non-food guilty-pleasure is a hot, long bubble bath with no kids in sight!
I'm inspired by...
the laughter of my kids, color, handmade things, simpler times, the fact that I still love and have fun with my husband-{sometimes more fun than when we were dating even}, the thought of Heaven!
This is me in a nutshell...
I have lived through personal tragedy, but out of that have realized just how precious my ordinary life truly is. I try to see the best in all people and that makes this world more beautiful and spreads joy. I love to learn and make mistakes and laugh through it all. I live a simple life, in many respects, but through my actions and attitude, I hope I am making this world a better place, one day at a time. My motto is:
"Sometimes you have to create your own joy!"

It really works.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hoax or not...

Thank you for your thoughts, prayers and encouragement to me and my family this week. You are all very much appreciated. With that said though, I do have to share a few more thoughts on my heart as we mark another annivesary since Teagan's death. It's about faith.
I remarked in my previous post that if there were nothing more to this life beyond what we can see here, for people like our family and most everybody in this life who suffers pain and loss, life would be nothing but a cruel hoax. Without the hope of a 'hereafter', living would be moment to moment agony- yielding anger and bitterness and despair.
Believe me, I've been in the midst of some of that stuff and it's ugly and hurts to be there. But it does come to dare I say all of us at some point in time. It comes packaged differently, but still hits us regardless of who or where we are. Click on any of the sidebar links on this blog to see how it is hitting some others in life right now...from cancer to the edge of death. It comes in all shapes and sizes!
I've had a lot of time to think about my faith, to question my faith, to wonder if it's "for real" or not. You may wonder the same thing. You may question if faith even matters. I have come to believe that it does matter and it is for real. There is more to this life than that which can see or touch.
But let's just say that there isn't anything beyond this realm in which we live. Would I still cling to this 'idea' of faith? I say with all my being, "yes". Do you want to know why? Thanks for asking! =) I think believing in something bigger than that which we can see allows us to live in spite of our circumstances. For Chip and me, having a faith that Teagan is in Heaven and believing in the hope of seeing her again someday was one of the biggest driving forces in allowing us to move beyond our grief. Our faith in God has given us a foundation on which to rebuild the brokeness of our hearts and lives. It not only offers us peace and hope in a time of overwhelming uncertainty and anxiety, but it gave us the ability to do even more than that and extend forgiveness against a horrific injustice. It has also given us the grace to want to live with joy and happiness again despite our pain and grief.
I truly believe in God and His promise and hope of eternity. Not just because it says so in the Bible, but because I have felt it in my own heart and been filled with a sense of peace at the most unpeaceful of times in life. I used to think that having a deep-rooted faith meant I would follow a list of do's and don'ts as spelled out in the Bible. I now believe that having a deep-rooted faith is so much more than that. It allows us to live above and beyond what life sends our way. It gives us peace in the storms, rest when we're weary, strength when we're weak, and Hope when all is desperate. It is amazing and real.
So even if it were a hoax and someone made up the idea of Heaven just to have something 'nice' to look forward to, well, I am happy to believe it that anyway. Because it has changed my life. I believe it's real with all my heart though. And, if you ask me, that makes all the difference in the world.
I wouldn't blog if it weren't for my faith. I wouldn't take pictures of my family smiling at the carnival as they're about to share an elephant ear. I wouldn't want the woman who killed Teagan and Peggy to get out of jail in two years and have the chance to rebuild and live a beautiful life. I truly can't imagine where I would be if I didn't have faith.
The fact of the matter is, I don't really like to even think about that. It's not a pretty picture to imagine life without hope and mercy and grace. Thankfully, because of who God is and his redemption I never have to think about it and I never will. As much as I love a good joke, I'm so glad He is a God of love rather than a God of hoaxes. I'm so glad I have real reason to smile, seek Joy and have Hope. No matter what comes my way!
Edited to include:
Okay. I was just thinking about some recent family activites and how my life truly is so full and blessed. It never ceases to amaze me how much God has healed us and continues to from day to day, year after year. I have so much to be grateful for. I have countless reasons to sing His praises.
Which is what we did for a few short moments in church this past Sunday. The worship leader invited anyone who felt led to finish this sentence: "God is great because ______________."
It was a really wonderful and powerful thing to listen to random reasons why God is great. And no one deserves our praise and thanks more than He! SO, my thoughts just now were to do that here on the blog. Why not?! God has been SO faithful and good to me, and I know He has done things in your lives and people around you too! I think it would be amazing and such a tribute to God if we were to list or share short stories in the comments here telling why God is so great. I'll even start. You don't even have to log in or leave your name. Feel free to come back as often as you like and share more reasons and brag on God! I can't wait to read through all the ways God is showing up and in turn give Him praise and honor for being good to us.
SO, tell me, how would you fill in the blank: "God is great because..."

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A mother remembers. {Long, detailed post}

"Because of you I have laughed my loudest, cried my hardest and searched the deepest part of me. I have realized my weaknesses and discovered new strengths. I have shared my soul with others.
Because of you I have learned to live in the moment and appreciate the present. I have learned to be quiet and reflect on the past. I have gained new insights and sought new purpose in life. I have learned when to hold on and learned to let go. I have learned to embrace what I cannot see and I have deepened my faith in the future.
Because of you I am more grateful, more humble, more sensitive and more forgiving. I am more open, more joyful, more confident and more hopeful. Although you only physically touched me for four short years, your spirit still inspires me each and everyday.
Dear Teagan~ My life is enriched beyond measure...because of you."

That's the journaling for the layout pictured here today. March 18, 1997 she was placed in my arms as she took her first breaths. My heart and life were forever changed from that moment on. I found new purpose in my life. Teagan made my heart want to burst and my selfishness suddenly was put in its place when she entered my world.
I never dreamed there would come a day less than four and a half years later when my heart and life would forever change because of her again. July 29, 2001, I woke her up and brushed the hair back from her neck as she slowly opened her eyes. There was cold air rushing into her room from an open window, so I tucked the blanket up under her chin and kissed her. She looked up at me with her amazing blue eyes and smiled and said, "I love you, Mommy". I wanted to crawl in next to her for a long morning snuggle, but that was not to be. Chip was ushering at early church that day, so I instead told Teagan to warm up for a quick minute and then it would be time to get ready for church.
She was so agreeable that morning. It wasn't like her to be so easy-going... especially when wakened early. But that morning was different. I didn't know it then, but I do now. Even when I pulled her dress over her head and then brushed her hair, she was just being so sweet. I tied a ribbon in her hair and then pulled her close to me and held her hands in mine and said, "Teagan, you look more beautiful than I've ever seen you look!". She smiled and said, "I know".
And then we were off to church. Chip, me, Teagan, Brock and Wyndham. After church Chip asked if we wanted to go to brunch. He suggested The Old Depot restaurant. We'd never been there before, but he said he heard they had the best pie around. Who was I to argue with the idea of a great piece of pie?!
We headed the opposite direction we normally took and had hardly driven a mile or two and Brock started acting up in the car. We shrugged it off, but by the time we got to the restaurant we had scolded him a couple of times and Chip even commented, "If you don't settle down I'm going to turn the car around and go home". I turned to Chip and said, "Teagan's being an angel...this brunch is going to go fine".
Moments later we were seated at our table and a nice family meal was underway. Teagan sat at the end of the table because when we walked in she said, "I want to sit by everyone". Wyndham was strapped into her infant carseat and for some unknown reason that day I kept the straps buckled.
Teagan ordered chocolate chip pancakes served with a side of peanut butter. She was sipping creamer of a glass coffee mug and talking with Chip as our meals were served. A moment or two into our meals I was suddenly thrust into the air and heard crashing and banging and I began to scream Chip's name. It seemed as though debris was coming at me for several minutes and then suddenly there was a loud 'bang' and I felt my body slump to the floor. I jumped to my feet in an instant and there was dust clouding the air, but I could see Teagan just a step or two to my left and she was lying down where her chair should have been. I scooped her up- even though I know you're never supposed to move an injured person. I couldn't help myself. I turned and carried her out a gaping hole in the wall and walk several paces before laying her down on the ground. Her head was bleeding severely from the back. As I placed her down I noticed her lips were turning gray and her skin looked pale. But she looked beautiful besides that. She had no scrapes or marks in those moments. I was surrounded by people within seconds. Someone began to do CPR on her as I stood up and ran back through the hole in the front wall. I saw a car. A woman sat inside looking straight ahead. I started yelling Chip's name again. I couldn't see Brock or Wyndham or Chip. I could feel my heart starting to pound at that point.
I turned and walked quickly back outside and stood over Teagan's body. I told the strangers around me that the rest of my family was missing inside. I leaned down and held Teagan's hand again. It felt cold and I remember saying over and over, "Oh God. Oh God. Oh God. Help."
I back into the building at least 3 or four Italicmore times. Each time feeling more deperate than the time before. On my final time I bent down to peer beneath the car and all I saw were man's legs in khaki pants. Chip had on tan pants when we went to church that morning, so I just knew it was him. I was about to run to the front of the car when a man grabbed me and started pulling me back yelling, "We're going to flip the have to get out." He let go of me and I started toward the front of the restaurant and noticed the woman in the car then unbuckled her seatbelt, picked up her purse and she got out.
I walked over to Teagan again and said to her, "You can go if you have to Sweetie"...just like I'd seen in the movies. Someone offered me a chair to sit on next to her at just that time and as I sat down I noticed my back was throbbing and my feet felt like they were on fire. I looked down but saw nothing wrong. My injuries were all internal. I was bleeding inside, and also had a huge cut on my heel, but there was so much dirt and debris inside of it that I didn't even notice I was bleeding.
I heard crying. Someone was bringing Brock to me. He had dirt all over his eyes- I held him on my lap and asked someone if I could use their cellphone to make some calls. I called my parents. They weren't home. I called my sister. She thought it was some kind of joke. Chip's parents weren't home either. But his sister answered. She thought it was a prank call too. But there was a strange urgency in my voice that both of them found ways to get in touch with our families.
Chip came walking out of the hole in the front wall/door and I heard him calling my name. My back was to him as I sat on the chair holding Brock. I turned and thought I was imagining the whole scene. His head was gashed open across his forehead and cheek. Blood dripped down his face and his tie was flung over his shoulder. "Chip", I said quietly. "Chip...Teagan doesn't look good. She's not going to make it." Then someone had Chip sit down in a chair. Next someone was carrying Wyndham's carseat to me and she began to wimper. Her eyes were shut, but I heard her crying. I looked over my shoulder as Teagan continued to receive CPR and I knew then and there that there was no hope for her.
I had no idea what the extent of the rest of our injuries were at that point, but I was feeling an odd sense of calm that God was in control. Just a few moments earlier I thought I had lost all my family. Now I sat there feeling the early stinging pain of muscle/tissue and nerve damage, but none of that mattered. I felt relief that my family had a chance.

Today, July 29, 2009, eight years later those moments are still so vivid in my mind. I type through tears, head pounding and heart racing. I will never forget that unspeakable scene; the unimaginable situation that thrust my life in a whole new direction. I write all this for feels right to put it down somewhere. Eight years feels like the blink of an eye. I can still "feel" how Teagan felt in my arms when I carried her out of the building that day. I can still "hear" the sound of the 'whoosh...BANG' as the car first crashed through the wall and then fell to the ground. I still think of how there was no warning- we were eating a meal with never a thought of danger and there weren't even any windows so nobody even saw the car coming. I still remember the icy stare of the woman who drove the car as she sat just a few feet away from me watching the horror of the traumatic scene behind me.
I remember the ambulance ride. It felt like it took hours to get to the hospital. I was one of the last injured to leave the scene and I couldn't stop wondering what I was going to do when they finally let me see Teagan.
That wouldn't happen for hours. She was airlifted downstate and I continued to be treated at our local hospital for lacerations and x-rays. They brought my bed (I was on a backboard) next to Brock's and told me that both he and Wyndham would be airlifted to Hurley as well. When I was finally stitched up I was placed in a wheelchair and brought into Chip's ER area. We just looked at each other. I don't think I had any words to say. Even as one who is always too wordy. My eyes filled with tears and Chip mustered some half-smile as his own face was being stitched, and he said, "It's going to be okay". A doctor came in a few moments later and said he had received an update on Teagan's condition. "As a father of two kids myself", he said, "I'm not going to lie to you. It doesn't look good". I think both Chip and I knew what he meant.
It meant our hearts and lives were changed again.
Because of her.
Our little blond-haired, blue eyed, rambunctious, smart, funny, adorable, always ready with something funny to say, or a hug or kiss to give you, was gone. She was hooked up to life support for the next 24 hours or so and we found ourselves talking to people about donating her organs and we were surrounded by many family members the last time I held her hand and pinky promised to love her forever. One would think that would be the worst moment for any mother to endure. Yet I write here- even 8 years later- recalling the sense of peace and calm I had in my heart. My head felt like it would burst, but my heart never felt more assured that everything would be okay.
I cannot begin to tell you exactly what faith is. I write about it alot here on my blog. What I can tell you is that my faith in God never felt more real and more 'right' than it did in those couple of traumatic days in the ER with all my family clinging to life. If there is nothing more to life than just "this"...this living that we all do, well then, for me and my family, life is just a cruel hoax.
Beyond what the Bible says, and I believe it is true and can be trusted, I 'know' in my heart that there is a God and there is a Heaven (and a hell) and one day-because of the death of Christ on the cross and my belief in the forgiveness of my sins because of his death- I will be reunited with Teagan again. One day all the pain and suffering I have lived through forgotten and all the tears I have shed will be wiped away. One day God will redeem the brokeness of my heart and Chip's heart and countless others and we will rejoice and be whole once again.
My faith through this tragedy, has been nothing but strengthened from day to day. I have asked tough questions and cried and shouted and wished things were different and I've wanted Teagan back along with "the way things were". But I can honestly say through all the years of missing her I have never doubted that God loves her, me, us and others and He can even use this ugly situation for His purpose in life. He can bring beauty out of our brokeness. He has carried us through our darkest hours. One day I look forward to falling on my knees at His feet and saying, "Thank you".

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Party recap.

Bella's party was a lot of fun for all of us on Saturday. We even managed to get a family photo. That makes two already this summer! =) The cupcakes were a hit with everyone. It seems that chocolate, chocolate peanut butter cup is a universal favorite among kids of all ages. We rounded out the party with pizza, gift opening and an outdoor movie on the deck. Bella chose "Wall*e" so the boys wouldn't mind watching alongside of her and her friends. Seven is a fun age.
We did learn one important thing from this party and that is if you make chocolate cupcakes in cute patterned liners, you don't end up seeing the cute patterns after they bake. We're going to see what happens when you make white, yellow or pink cupcakes next. Cupcakes bring happiness no matter what the day. In fact, I think we're making cupcakes again tomorrow. Because remembering Teagan is a really good excuse for cupcakes.
Thanks for thinking of our family at this time of year. Some of you have already sent thoughts our way as we mark another annivesary of our family's tragedy. It's a tough reminder and yet we always seem to find a way to make the day special and even light-hearted most years.
I plan to post some thoughts later today or tomorrow. You know I've got something to say. =)In the meantime, please be praying for a couple of little guys who need major medical miracles... both Jaymun and baby Stellan would love to be healed! I'm sure their parents would all love some rest for their worried hearts too. I've been praying and will keep on praying and trust that God is good.
All the time.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Bella's birthday.

It's just after midnight and we're finally putting our feet up after celebrating Isabella's 7th birthday today. She requested a stack of pancakes, "three high with a square butter on the top andItalic syrup dripping down the sides". She wanted to know if that was possible or if it only happened on tv or on packages. I assured her she could have them if she wanted them. What a simple request, yet she was very impressed, although she couldn't eat them all. Brock wanted a similar stack and stated, "I should have asked for those pancakes on my birthday!". Ava wanted her pancake in the shape of an "A" and Wyndham got a "W".
Luckily for me I like making pancakes and playing with food. I think pancake batter fonts is one of my favorite foods to make. =)
Obviously it's getting late, but I just had to note the pancake conversations as well as this remark from Bella when I first saw her today. I hugged her and wished her a Happy Birthday. Then I said, "Are you excited to be 7 now?" to which she replied, "Well, I don't really feel different yet; 7 feels pretty much the same as 6".
It was a great birthday. I took too many photos according to Chip. I'm sure you'll see some of them soon enough. As for Chip, well, he had a good day too. He ran his first 5k and beat his goal for his overall time. I've been very proud of his disicpline with weight loss, exercise and healthy choices when it comes to food for a few months now. He skipped the pancakes. But I think he had a cupcake tonight. As I hoped he would. Birthdays are some of the best days to eat cupcakes. Especially when you're celebrating turning 7.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Why I rarely blog anymore...

Crew is really this animated. He chews on anything and everything. He laughs and crawls away during diaper changes. He pulls on hair and yanks glasses off our noses. He stands next to the furniture and tries to reach phones and remotes and laptop computers. He takes only 2 half hour naps- one at around 10:30 am and another between 5 and 7 pm. Sometimes he skips that late afternoon nap. Which is why I rarely blog these days.
The other kids in the family keep me hopping almost as much as Crew does- they are just as animated. Sometimes even more animated than him. Which is why I rarely blog these days. To think I am considering getting a Boxer puppy on top of everyone and everything. I may never blog again! =)
If you have any reasons to talk me into or out of getting a Boxer pup, please feel free to leave your comments here. My mom appreciated all her birthday wishes earlier this week. Thanks to all of you who not only wished her happiness, but made her feel young with all remarks about her looks. Yes, she does look young for her age. She acts less than 60 too. =)
I was moved by many of you commenting on me when it was her birthday! Thanks for those remarks as well. Really though, if you could see inside our lives and home each day you would not necessarily find me as inspiring as you think I am. Somedays the dishes pile up in the sink and they're still there when Chip gets home from work at 10 pm. I also have never blogged about the times when my kids are so loud or driving me crazy at the dinner table that I tell them to go outside and yell for at least 2 minutes. When they are done I let them come back inside... they are usually laughing by then and finish the meal more calmly. But by then my neighbors think we're nuts. I've never blogged about the memory foam mattress we had for 10 days or so and the "drama" that came with that purchase. So, to anyone that finds me inspiring- thank you. I'm truly grateful that you can find anything worthwhile in my stories- it's humbling and yet affirming for me to at least try to blog when I get the opportunity. I hope you know that we're all just a really average, normal family that occasionally has some unique circumstances to go through, and in the ordinary and the challenging moments we see God work in extraordinary ways, and that's what keeps us going each and every day.
Maybe getting a puppy isn't such a good idea afterall. But I think it might make for some good blog stories. Or at the very least some more cute pictures around here!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Just passing along the good news...

Tomorrow morning- between 4 am and 10:30 am (or until pastries run out) Starbuck's is offering free pastries with the purchase of a beverage. Sounds like a nice way to jumpstart the day, if you ask me! Although I guarantee you I won't be headed to my nearest Starbuck's anytime before 7 am. =)
In bigger news...
Happy Birthday to my MOM!!
Feel free to leave her a birthday wish here today. She's turning the big 6-0, but you didn't all hear it from me! In honor of her being the youngest 60 year old person I know, and also for the fact that I wouldn't be here and you wouldn't read this blog if it weren't for her, I'd like for 60 of you to leave her a birthday wish in the comments. She claims she's my biggest fan and she is an avid reader of this blog even though she won't turn on a computer herself. =) I happen to find that endearing, Mom. Among a million other things I love about you. Like your zucchini bread recipe- which I made today while I was thinking of you.
I wish you a whole lot of love, Joy and happiness in your life.
From me and all the Nitty.Gritty. Family.... Happy Birthday today!
We love you so much!

Saturday, July 18, 2009


We're thinking birthdays around our house. Today I'd like to send a blog birthday wish to my younger sister. Happy birthday, Jacque! Monday my Mom has a birthday...a big one. She's turning 29 at heart. =) Then next Saturday Bella is turning 7. I haven't been crafty or scrapping anything lately, but I did make her some special invitations to bring to our neighbors/friends. You can see them by clicking here. We're choosing the movie and are down to "Wall-e" or "Horton Hears a Who". It should be a fun party.
We're also in discussion as to what sort of cake/cupcakes to make for the occasion. The photo above is a fun rainbow cake I found online here. A few of my friends have made the recipe and from what I hear and see it works great!
So my survey for today is this: what's your favorite kids movie and/or cupcake flavor?
Do tell. =)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Distorted view- part 2

I recently posted some thoughts I had on what I referred to as having a distorted view. I am visiting this topic again with some further thoughts/insights and sort of 'talking outloud' here. I welcome your thoughts and comments as well. I think dialogue is half the fun of blogging. So feel free to join me when you're done reading this.
The pictures you see here are all of Crew with the exception of the top photo. That one is Teagan at around 7 months and I just share that alongside these photos because I think it's fun to compare features between babies. She and Crew are definitely related! I think they have a few similar personality traits too. They are both a bit feisty, lovable and so full of happiness. I am blessed for sure, to be the mom of them and all their siblings in between. =)
The pictures of Crew outside were taken a day ago and I am just amazed at how grown up he seems all of a sudden since his top 2 teeth have come in. He's losing that baby look so fast! Then there are the pictures of him at the gate. He is trying so hard to figure out how to get past it and head to the downstairs and play alongside of the rest of the kids. He does get to go down and play for short periods of time when I'm supervising him, but there are way too many 'trouble toys' for him to get into if left on his own, that it's not safe for him to be there. But in his mind, he doesn't care about the dangers. He just wants to get down there and play! Oh how he hangs on that gate and even does a little dance sometimes with the excitement he builds just thinking about playing beyond those stairs!
What you can't see is that just around the corner from the gate are piles and piles of toys that are totally safe and available to him whenever he wants to crawl over to them and get his hands on them. There are books and balls and stacking things and rattles and toy phones and chewy things and jiggy things and a whole lot more. But he's focused and persistent at times to just sit or stand at the gate and forego the fun he could be having just because he wants something past those wooden bars.
Herein lies the lesson of having a distorted view. How often in my life I see that I am just like Crew standing at the 'gate' and I even shake the bars and throw little fits sometimes wanting something I can't have. It's been true in my past and I'm sure it will happen again sometime. It's so easy to get 'hung up' on something we want- maybe it's even something really good- like a mate or a baby or a big job promotion or a new house or a spot on a scrap design team or any number of things. Have you ever found yourself disappointed or let down or feeling frustrated that life isn't going your way despite all the measures you are taking to make your dream happen? We ALL do it. We get our hearts set on something and for some of us, we get so caught up in the pursuit of that one thing that we let all the other 'good things' that surround us go unnoticed just around the corner simply because we want 'what's beyond the gate'.
We even lose things we hold dear because we are trying so hard to get that one thing. I know in my own life I have had selfish ambitions and have followed my own heart rather than waiting on God's time for what I truly need in life. He always knows best what I need and what I can handle, just as I know Crew isn't ready to take on a flight of stairs or play with some toys with tiny pieces. Crew thinks I'm just punishing him or denying him fun and good things. But the fact is that I am actually protecting him and giving him "freedom" by putting up a gate and setting clear boundaries.
That's what God does in our lives too. He puts roadblocks and 'gates' in our lives from time to time until we learn and/or grow into the person He is molding us to be. Sometimes it seems like He is punishing us by not giving us what we want, when in fact, He is likely trying to prepare us for what is yet to come. Does that make sense?
Here's another example. Crew would be happy if I gave him a hot dog in a bun when his siblings get one at their meal, but could he handle it as this stage in his life? No! He would likely choke and put himself in great danger. But it looks to him like something he wants and the other kids like it, so to him it is confusing. I was thinking about how often things in life seem confusing to me. Things seem unfair or unjust or simply 'messed up' according to the way I think things should go or be. But in all likelihood, from God's perspective there is a good reason for the way things are playing out around us and maybe they are even for a good purpose. I am learning that I need to quit standing and banging on a gate when stuff comes up that doesn't make sense in my heart and mind. At those times I need to trust that just as I know what's best for Crew and all my kids, God knows what's best for me. He has my greatest interests at heart and wants nothing more than to prepare me and shape me for what is yet to come. I can get hung up and miss out on the fun laying all around me, or I can surrender myself and trust Him in all things.
Let me tell you, walking away from life's "gates" is where I find the most freedom and joy. I can mope around and wish things were different or let go and live in the moment. It's not always easy though. The issues in our lives are so "big" compared to the toys and fun awaiting Crew downstairs. But the principle is the same. There is goodness all around us. We can live and grow and I do know that God swings open those gates and blesses us so often too. One day soon Crew will be crawling up and down those stairs and he will be ready to tackle a whole new set of challenges. I hope that like him I am ready to take on new challenges and set my heart and mind on things besides closed gates. I want to be ready and willing to do whatever it is that God puts on my heart for His glory and purpose. I never want to lose sight of the fact that God knows what's best and He is faithful to us when we wait on Him. I just wish growing up wasn't so hard sometimes. =)

Friday, July 10, 2009

It's all about Grace.

As so many of you know the month of July is one that brings back vivid memories and marks another year of living in light of the tragedy that struck our family in 2001. It's been a long road and continues to be a journey of ongoing healing, changes, reflection and Hope.
I do a lot of thinking and soul-seeking on any given day, but it is more heightened at this time of the year than any other. The memories are so ingrained in my mind; what I saw and felt and experienced will never go away and yet time has changed the pain I felt and will forever feel. I would be remiss to say that my grief has gone away. Even after these many years. It's still there, but what I have noticed and am so keenly aware is that the grief I carry in my heart has been softened and soaked in God's love and the Hope I have of His plan and it {my grief} now turns my thoughts more often to Grace rather than the hurt of my memories and loss.
I want to you to know that my story- our story- is not unique or amazing in any way. I do share openly and try to be very transparent as the journey has unfolded these past several years, but that doesn't make it incredible. What I do hope is that our response to death and suffering either changes you and your perspective to loss, or that it cements your faith in God in a way that only God can use suffering.
I came across another 'story' this week. It's profound in the measure of suffering and pain as well, but this story so closely echoes what I try to put into words here and in my own life. I invite you to listen or check out the link to order a book if you so choose. There are three parts to the story, but if you have time to listen to only one, I would recommend part 3 of 3. I know so many people wonder where God is in the midst of heartache and loss. I know people sometimes think Chip and I have some super-strength and great fauth. It's so not true. What we have is available to every single person and it is the one thing we hope everyone can "see" when they peer into our story- and that is this, God's grace is enough. God is bigger than grief. God is greater than our hurts. God can bring Joy from pain and He can, does and always will.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Our Day-cation

We packed in a lot of fun, food and smiles from Monday to Tuesday as we had a nice getaway to our friends' cabin. There was fishing, boating, swimming, kayaking, sand castle building, toasted marshmallows/s'mores, Jone's soda and homemade icecream, laughter, late night bedtime and more all in a matter of 24 hours.
That's my kind of vacation. Short and sweet!

Friday, July 03, 2009

Happy 4th of July weekend!

You can find lots of festive 4th of July recipes (like the cupcakes pictured above) at the Martha Stewart website. I happen to love anything with whipped cream and fresh berries. I hope you all have a safe and happy weekend celebrating our country, freedom and reflecting on those who have served and those who continue to serve us in order to ensure our safety and freedom. It's definitely something worth celebrating! Happy Fourth of July!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

9 months and counting...

As much as I try to be in the moment and savor the here and now, it still seems to fly by so quickly! Crew is 9 months already and growing and learning everyday. Is anyone else, besides ne, amazed at how fast that first year in particular whizzes by?! These are just some of the snapshots of a day in the life of Crew right now. {You can click on the top storyboard to enlarge the text if you like.} He's one of the happiest, laid-back yet intense babies I know. He has an occasional fussy moment and I took the liberty of snapping a picture of one of those too, because even when he's mad we all think he's still lovable and cute. =)
His top two teeth are coming in this week and he also learned to clap- both spontaneously and on command. He can walk along the edges of furniture and he still loves that boingy doorstop in the bathroom. He continues to add fun to our days and we never tire of his smiles and sparkling eyes. We're just trying to figure out how 9 months has gone by so quickly!