I read a blog post about 40 Simple Pleasures in Life recently. That got me to thinking about the things that give me so much joy in my daily life. I didn't tackle 40, but chose to do 20 instead. So, here they are in no particular order.
1. Reading blogs/vlogs. I have about 10 that I read daily and they just make me smile. Most of the blogs I read are written by thirtysomething moms with young children. A couple of examples are www.kellyskornerblog.com and www.mixandmatchmama.com .
I have a couple of vlogs that I really like, too.
2. Clean sheets at night
3. Rainy days
4. Sunsets. Occasionally, we've driven to a lake near our home and watched the sun setting over the water. I love that!
5. A Starbucks frappuccino - non fat white chocolate, hold the whipped cream.
6. Reading - It seems I don't always have time to read a book anymore, but when I do, I'm so happy. I read The Blue Castle by Lucy Maude Montgomery a few months back. It was such a sweet, old fashioned story.
I've also read Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist a couple of times. Some books just speak to your soul.
7. Sunday dinner. Everyone is home to eat together and I really like that:)
8. Mexican food.
9. Sephora (I could wander around in there for a long time.)
10. Pottery Barn (I could wander around an even longer time in here. If you need me during the fall months, I'm most likely in there.)
11. Home Goods (Any place that specializes in things for the home is a favorite for me.)
12.I love watching my little boy describe great sport moments to me. He's so into it. I have heard all about Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, George Foreman, Evander Holyfield, and also every NFL player you can think of.
13. Going to TJ Maxx with my daughter, Caitlin.
14. Watching a good movie. I watched Guarding Tess (Nicholas Cage and Shirley Maclaine) recently. I had never seen it before and really loved the story. I happened to see a version that blocked the curse words, so just beware that there is some language.)
15. Taking walks with my husband or one of the kids
16. Cooking a southern meal - fried okra, corn on the cob, and ham, for example.
17. Cleaning house. I just love a clean house. If you do a little at a time, it can stay clean.
18. Snapchat. I like it so much better than Facebook.
19. Re-watching a movie or television show that makes me laugh out loud. On some days, you need a little pick me up. Two that come to mind are I Love Lucy and the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Even if I've seen it before, I'll still laugh like it's the first time I've ever seen it.
20. Costco. I don't know why exactly, but I love walking around Costco or Sam's Club!
That's my 20 things for July 2016. What are your favorite, simple things that you enjoy?
Linking up to: www.momfessionals.com
Friday, June 17, 2016
Happy Friday! I'm linking up with www.kellyskornerblog.com for her Every Day Real Life Home Tours.
We don't use our dining room daily. We do use it when we have guests over, but it is especially on display at the holidays.
When we built this home, I remember walking through the dining room while it was still in the bare bones stage. As I walked through, I could "hear" the voices of my kids and their cousins running through the room and saying, "Hi, Aunt Kathy! or Mom!" It made me smile thinking of all the family holiday dinners we would have in that room. We've now lived in this beautiful house for nine years, so we have had many Thanksgiving and Christmas meals there.
This is our dining room from last Christmas.
|Youth Progressive Dinner December 2015|
|Our daughter's graduation party|
|From my instagram November 2014|
I love this room and look forward to having family over each year. It means a lot to me that I'm helping to create wonderful memories for my children and their cousins each holiday season.
Linking to: www.kellyskornerblog.com
Thursday, May 26, 2016
I hope you're having a great week! We finished up our school year today and I"m feeling pretty happy about that. This fall, I will have an 11th grader and a 5th grader! I started this homeschool journey about 20 years ago and although I have had four graduate, I still have a ways to go. What in the world will I do with my time when my 10 year old graduates? I have no idea.
I'm joining Mel, Shay, and Sheaffer for What's Up Wednesday (although mine is on Thursday!) . I read these girls every day and just love them.
Here's a few things that are happening right now in our household:)
1. What We're Eating - I've been trying to eat more healthy foods this month. As long as I have vegetables on hand, it hasn't really been a problem. I especially love stir frying some zucchini in olive oil with a little Parmesan cheese. It's so good!
|Photo from www.food.com|
2. What I've Been Reminiscing About. My youngest son, Nathaniel, and I have been talking about our love of holidays today. He told me his favorite time is Thanksgiving and watching Grandma set out her pies. He also likes to see his cousins come over that day.
3. What I've Been Loving My daughter and I have been taking walks around the block each evening. It's so nice to finally have nice weather to enjoy that time together.
4. What We've Been Up To Basically, we've just been busy finishing up school.
5. What I've Been Dreading Our oldest daughter has cerebral palsy. She had hip surgery five years ago and hasn't had to have a surgery since. But now it looks as if she will have to have jaw surgery and it will be quite a recovery process. I've woken up at night dreading this procedure.
6. What I'm Excited About I'm excited to not have to do school for the summer! Besides that, we don't have any trips planned at this time. I would love to go to New York, but I would always like to go to New York:) We'll have to save for a couple of years before we can go back.
Okay...I did think of a small thing I'm excited about. I've just discovered Sephora! I've only ever bought drugstore makeup, but hey, that place is amazing! What do you like to buy there?
7. What I'm Watching/Reading I've been watching reruns of Fixer Upper and Downton Abbey. I love those two shows, but do wish I had another choice. Any suggestions?
I've been reading this...
If you are interested in writing, I highly recommend this book.
|The Man Who Knew Infinity|
It was an interesting, true story. Dev Patel is one of my favorite actors, so I would pretty much like anything he was in. It also stars Jeremy Irons.
8. What I'm Listening To My little boy and I listen to the radio on our way to appointments. Have you heard that song that (I think) is called 7 Years? Goodness, it makes me choke up. The other song that I've been loving (and crying over) is from For King and Country called Priceless. I think I've cried puddles over that song.
|For King and Country|
9. What I'm Wearing I need to go shopping because I honestly can't figure out what I wore last summer! I did buy these pretty shoes, though.
10. What I'm Looking Forward To/ What I'm Doing on the Weekend Memorial Day is coming up on Monday. I think we will be grilling and making ice cream.
11. What's New? My niece's wedding is tomorrow night. It's hard to believe that time has passed so quickly! I remember when she was just a little thing running through our house. That will be a special time of celebration with her.
I hope your week has been a good one. It's hard to believe that June is so near. Of course, when June arrives, I always think the same thing....Christmas is only 6 months away! ha
Sending lots of love to each one of you!!
Linking up to: shullfamily.blogspot.com
Sunday, April 17, 2016
|Photo Courtesy Pinterest|
It's easy for others to give us advice. It may even be great advice. But unless they have been through some hard times themselves, words can often seem hollow, can't they? I like to listen to people who have passed through deep waters.
I've mentioned before that we had twins born with cerebral palsy. One of our twins, Alex, passed away at the age of four. His twin sister, Elisa, is now 24 years old. She is having a crisis with her faith. She appreciates sincere people and their prayers, but essentially she has told us, "Enough is enough. I have to accept this condition that I have and not have people pray for me anymore." I do understand what she is saying. I don't fault her at all. It would be easy for me to say something like, "Oh, you shouldn't feel that way." But I don't live in her body and don't have to deal with the realities of her daily condition. At least, not in the way she has to.
It's hard for me as her mom. I've prayed for her countless times and will continue to do so. I know that God is bigger than cerebral palsy. I know also that sometimes people aren't healed, for whatever the reason. I don't want to live in an agitated state with God. I know how kind He is. I have to leave my questions with Him. I can trust Him, even in my darkest moments.
We also have a ten year old son who was diagnosed at the age of two with a rare, genetic disorder. At the time of this writing, he is the only one in the state of Iowa with this condition. There are a whole host of issues that are present with this diagnosis. There is also the possibility that his condition could worsen.
So, I've found myself at times bargaining with God. I'll say things like, "I'd like You to heal both of my children,but if I had to choose one, I would have to say Nathaniel. Elisa's condition won't worsen as much as his could, so please heal Nathaniel."
It's funny how I would think that God would require me to choose. I guess after all these years of not seeing Elisa get better, I feel the need to strike a bargain. I can imagine God saying back to me, "Do you really think I would force you to make a choice? Do you think I'm like that?"
No, I don't really believe God is forcing me to make a choice, but it can seem that way sometimes.
I've went round and round with this situation in my mind. Oftentimes, I am busy with school or things at home. I will just have fleeting thoughts about the whole situation. At other times, I'm filled with such sadness.
Sometimes, when I'm walking down the stairs in our home, I'll say, regarding Elisa, as my foot touches step one, "If for some reason healing is not in her future, for whatever the reason, could You just heal her hip?" When my foot touches step two.... "Could You heal her feet?", then on step three..."Could You maybe heal her hands?" God must often wonder about how stingy I seem to think He could be.
His love and compassion are limitless. I'm bound by what I see or don't see so much of the time. If I don't see it, then it must not be happening. If I do see something, then, "Whew, what a relief. I thought You might have forgotten me." Sometimes the pathway is so smooth and beautiful. I can rest and take in all the sights around me. But other times, the road is so rocky. I have to carefully watch my steps. I fall down and cry and wonder if God is near.
My walk with God reminds me so much of one of my favorite books, Hinds Feet on High Places. The main character, Much Afraid, has told the Chief Shepherd (Jesus) that she will follow Him anywhere, no matter the cost. But she is disheartened at His choice of Guides to accompany her on the journey - Sorrow and Suffering. She shrinks away from them at first, but the path is so hard that she ends up reaching for their hands. As time goes on, she finds that not only has she changed, but her name has changed as well. Her two Guides have also been transformed and at last, she has reached the High Places.
No one ever said our journey would be without a cost.
As moms, we begin a journey with our children. At first we are their provider and protector. We kiss and hug away all the hurts. We wipe noses, read books together, take walks, and watch countless episodes of Sponge Bob.
But then, it begins to change.
Now, I'm not sure what my job is anymore. Sometimes I don't know what to do either. I can't make these situations, like Elisa's, better at all.
I can only speak the truth of who God is to them and to myself.
Even when I look up at the sky and wonder, too, if God is really there, if He really hears me, if He is aware of me and my children.
Yes, He is there. Yes, He really cares. Even when I am unaware of Him, He is beside me. Everyday He gives me strength to accomplish all the tasks I have to do in regards to their care. Sometimes at the end of the day, I'm even a little surprised at all I have done that day. But it isn't me at all. I know that all the credit goes to God and His loving care over me.
You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. (Psalm 56:8)
All the tears I have are remembered by and will continue to be remembered by God. The things that cause us to cry are noted by God and collected by God. My tears and your tears are precious to Him. Maybe He pulls out the bottle one day and remembers those tished mes with us. Maybe He shows us how He was present when we cried. I don't know. But I know that everything He does has a purpose for our good.
Whatever you may be facing today, you aren't alone. I pray today that God will show you how He is there with you. Maybe this is the darkest and loneliest time you have ever faced. Maybe you are wondering if God is even there and if He is there, does He really care about me? He really is there and He really does care about you and everything that has to do with you.
Part of the reason that I am writing down these thoughts is for the sake of remembrance. One day, if Elisa were healed, I will reread these lines and remember.
Whether Elisa is healed or isn't doesn't lessen the importance of who she is in our home. It's not that I won't be happy unless she is healed. It's just that I believe that God is a God of healing. It is part of His name and part of His character. The Bible is full of instances where Jesus had compassion on people who could not walk and healed them. I don't hold a magic ball or have some inside track of God's plan. But I do believe in and won't change my mind about His kindness.
And so, maybe, one day I will read these words again, but the circumstances will have changed in an incredible way.
Until then, I believe God is who He says He is. I believe He is aware of me and my tears. I believe He knows what He's doing. I believe He is walking with me and daily giving me strength and grace. I believe He loves me far beyond what I am aware of at this moment in time.
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
Two of my favorite decor colors are red and black. I have black chairs in my kitchen and antique white cabinets. I love that combination. I have black lampshades in our living room with a few touches of red here and there.
I was watching Fixer Upper, one of my favorite shows on HGTV, a few weeks ago. Jo had found some beautiful red pendant lights while antiquing. I loved the finished look!
|Joanna Gaines finds the pendant lights at Round Top, Texas|
|magnoliamarket.com Fixer Upper HGTV|
This room is from Season 2 entitled, "The Tire Swing House"
|Different angle from Season 2, "The Tire Swing House".|
|Fixer Upper HGTV - Season 2 "The Tire Swing House"|
|Red doors are my favorite, too!|
|magnoliamarket.com Fixer Upper HGTV from Season 2, "The Tire Swing House".|
Red and black complement each other so well. Do you like using certain colors in your home?
On the blog, www.theinspiredroom.net, she offers the following advice on decorating. (/theinspiredroom.net/2009/06/09/the-best-decorating-advice-ever/)
“Every room could use a touch of black.”
This article also has some great advice.
Joanna Gaines tips for your home: https://magnoliamarket.com/simple-and-clean-in-2015/
Linking up to:
Friday, March 11, 2016
Hi! My name is Kathy and I'm a wife and mom to six kids. I'm linking up with one of my favorite blogs, Kelly's Korner, today with my introduction. As it says on my sidebar, I'm a pastor's wife, but I don't have a perfect life. Not by a long shot:) But it is a joy filled, grace filled life. Life doesn't have to be perfect in order to be happy.
Our six kids range in ages from 25 all the way down to age 10! I wrote about our last little surprise here. He was born when I was 42 years old and oh, the joy he has brought to our home! Don't worry if you find yourself in your forties and you are unexpectedly pregnant. It will be okay and it will be wonderful!
|Our youngest a few years ago:)|
I met my husband at a Bible college in Louisiana. He was a Teen Challenge graduate and later, we lived and worked at a Teen Challenge ministry in Iowa for fourteen years, where he was the director of the men's program. In 2002, he became the lead pastor at a church in a nearby city. He has been the pastor for the last fourteen years and loves his job so much.
Back to our family, our oldest daughter has CP. Her twin brother passed away at the age of four. I wrote about that day recently here.
A little about me...I love reading blogs, and most of my favorites are from young moms. I remember the days when all my kids were young. Believe me when I say that some of your best memories are being made today, even though you are so tired and you wonder if you are doing a good job. You are! I write a little about those days here with a post called "Advice to Young Moms". You are doing a phenomenal job!
I love all things to do with New York City.
I remember reading an article where a mom wrote that she had begun being interested in NYC while watching Sesame Street with her little ones. I remember thinking that my interest had been piqued then, too. I really don't know for sure when my love for that great city began. But I've been blessed to have gone twice now. Our first visit was two years ago for our 25th wedding anniversary. I wrote about that magical visit here. If you love the movie "You've Got Mail" with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan too, then you will want to read that post:) I hope I get to visit NYC again soon.
I love the season of fall. To me, it's the most magical and special time of year! You can read a little about my love of fall here.
I love lipsticks. Isn't that funny? But a lipstick in my shopping cart makes me happy. Maybe because I'm so pale and you can hardly see me until I have lipstick on?
I do fashion posts now and then, which is funny really, because for years I owned about one shirt. Well, that may be a slight exaggeration, but not much. Thank goodness I found blogs like Kelly's and also this one. www.pinteresttoldmeto.blogspot.com. Shaeffer's blog is about the most fun blog you'll ever read. Here she is below.
One of my fashion posts is here.
I love holidays, too! My favorite of all is Thanksgiving with Christmas right behind that.
|Photo Courtesy - Nell Hill|
|Two years ago at Christmas (our home)|
|Our living room this past Christmas:)|
I love movies. My favorite movie is Father of the Bride with Steve Martin. My favorite drama is the movie Slumdog Millionaire. I'm going to write about that movie soon. It really changed my life. Can a movie really do that? It can when God is involved:)
That's a little bit about me. I would have to say that I'm only an occasional blogger. But I would love to hear from you, especially all the young moms out there. I have a soft spot in my heart for all of you. Much love to each one of you!
Linking up with
Monday, February 15, 2016
|Alex, Elisa, and Evan|
January 19, 2016 marked the 20th anniversary of our little boy's death. At times, it seems like a recent event. It also seems a lifetime ago.
It is strange to think that Alex never got to meet our last 3 children. Caitlin was born about a year after his death. Noah was born 3 years later, and our last little guy was born 9 years later. They have heard of him many times and seen his photos, of course, so they feel like they know him. But it is strange to think that they never actually met.
In a previous post (here), I shared about our son, Alex, and his health problems. Throughout his young life, he would take numerous trips by ambulance and even helicopter to the hospital. He had a long history of developing croup which would often quickly escalate to not being able to breathe. Besides cerebral palsy, he had another condition called tracheaomalacia which leads to tracheal collapse especially when increased airflow is needed. He had since underwent surgery to help with this condition. The surgeon felt the procedure had been a success. We had 9 months of no breathing emergencies and felt that maybe we were finally in the clear.
There had been one particular time before this surgery when we had almost lost Alex. After losing consciousness, he had been admitted to Blank Children's Hospital and rushed to Pediatric Intensive Care. He was having an especially hard time recovering from pneumonia. It was touch and go for Alex for a few days. At one point, he seemed to simply give up. It was clear the pediatric team did not know if he would make it through the day.
A few months later, we were at my mom and dad's home in Mississippi and he saw a photo of my aunt Loretta. He told my mom, "I've seen that lady." My mom told him that he couldn't have as she had passed away from Lou Gehrig's disease a year before. He replied, "I saw her at the hospital when I was very sick. Jesus was there with her and she had on a white, shiny robe and she smiled and said, "Hallelujah (or Glory to God - I can't remember which he said). We were amazed at this as he had not said anything about seeing her before. Seeing her photo seemed to have triggered that memory for him. We hadn't realized how close to death he had come.
January 18, 1996, was a cold and snowy day. The temperatures were projected to plummet that day and despite the previous 9 months of relative calm, I eyed Alex warily. When there was a drastic drop in temperature, he would often experience severe respiratory problems. (That night, the temperature did indeed drop by double digits.)
My mother-in-law happened to be there for a visit. I would be forever grateful that she had been there that day. Her presence allowed me a little more freedom to have fun with the kids. We all sat at the table and did some finger painting. Sometime that morning, I had to give Alex a little swat on his bottom for something he had said or done. I can't remember why exactly. But he scooted hastily down the hallway after that swat and crawled right out of his pants:)
Later that day, I remember being very annoyed at myself about my lack of preparation for supper. My brother-in-law, Chris, stopped over for awhile prompting us to do something a little unusual. He had brought his guitar and sang some worship songs. Looking back, that time together was a gift from God.
I wish I could say we did that all the time, but we didn't. It was an unusual event. Life was often so rigid during those years. Relaxing was almost unheard of. There was always a worry about Alex. A day could be so seemingly ordinary and then in the next instant, we could be standing in an emergency room watching a doctor intubating Alex.
I am thankful that night was different. After Chris sang some worship songs, we got the kids ready for bed. Dave remembers that Alex was sitting on his lap when he suddenly turned towards him and said, "I love you, Dad." Dave would later say that it struck him as unusual. It wasn't out of character for Alex to be affectionate, but it stood out to Dave because he had said it with such intensity.
A few days prior to this, Dave and I had been gone a couple of nights for a staff retreat with the ministry my husband worked with. When I got home and walked in the door, Alex looked at me and suddenly started to sob. I sat him in my lap while he cried uncontrollably for a few minutes. That, too, was unusual. I've looked back on that night and often wondered if somehow he knew that he wouldn't be with us long.
I also remember just prior to Alex's passing, I had been cleaning the house and suddenly felt the voice of the Lord say to me, "The house can wait. Go and play with the kids." I put my cleaning things down and went into the living room and played. I'm so thankful that God interrupted my plans that day.
Early on the morning of January 19, 1996, I woke up to the dreaded sound of Alex loudly struggling to breathe. It was pitch black outside. I don't think either Dave nor I ever really went into a deep sleep at any time during those years with Alex. I feel like I was always a little awake during the night, just in case he ran into some sort of difficulty with his breathing.
When I heard his gasps, I stumbled into his room and picked him up, calling out to Dave at the same time. Dave quickly began rescue breathing as I called 911. They had been to our home before and had mistakenly went into the Teen Challenge building which we lived behind. I remember telling them to please come around to the back of the building. I didn't want there to be any waste of time. There were deep snow drifts everywhere and I hoped they could make it to us quickly.
Everything seemed to be moving slowly, almost as if you are seeing events pass by your eyes in a detached sort of way. I pulled clothes on over my pajamas and put on shoes. I remember Alex was wearing his blue pajamas. Dave was working on him frantically and saying his name. Alex didn't seem to be responding. I could see the flashing ambulance lights through the window. We met the men on the sidewalk and they quickly placed Alex into the ambulance. I climbed into the front seat of the ambulance as Dave prepared to follow in the van. In some ways, I felt relief now. I had seen this happen many times before. We would stay in the hospital for several days until Alex had again recovered. I didn't know that this night would be different.
Somewhere around the Altoona exit, we pulled over and were met by a second ambulance. I remember a voice of the ER doctor over the intercom talking about administering epinephrine. The ambulance started again. I kept looking back to see Alex, but there were several people around him and I couldn't see him. I prayed and watched the road. It was deserted due to the weather and the icy conditions. We were nearing the hospital when I looked back again. Someone moved and I was suddenly able to see Alex. A man was over him doing chest compressions. His heart had never stopped before. I began to be filled with dread. I got out of the ambulance as they rushed past me with Alex into another room. I know I was walking, I know I was answering questions, I know I handed them an insurance card, but yet it was like I was watching myself do all these things. A chaplain came into the waiting room and began talking to me. I remember feeling slightly annoyed, to be honest. I didn't want to talk with her at that moment. I wanted to listen and hear what was going on. I could hear a lot of activity. I felt very alone and prayed as I waited for Dave to arrive. I knew that he would have to drive very slowly due to the weather conditions.
I asked the chaplain to please go and see what was happening. She did and came back to say that it didn't look good. I felt like I was swallowing a lot of air. My mind didn't seem to be able to register what she was saying. Dave came into the room. I don't really remember what we said to each other, if anything at all. I saw the men from the ambulance walk past our door. They didn't make eye contact. Their shoulders were slumped over. I stood up and walked out the door. I walked towards the room where I heard voices. I think Dave was with me as the doctor met us in the hallway. He put his hands out and said, "I'm so sorry. There is nothing more we can do."
I turned slightly and could see Alex on a gurney. I walked to his side and looked down upon his face. I remember that I gently closed his eyes.It is painful to write that detail, but that is something that I remember clearly doing. Even though I knew I was in a hospital room, I still felt as if I were watching someone else. I asked Dave if I were dreaming. I was clearly in shock.
A kind nurse told me that if I sat down, she would place him in my lap. Disconnecting the tubes, they placed his little body in my arms. He was warm and looked as if here were sleeping. I looked at his face and felt the weight of his body. The reality of it hadn't quite sunk in. Dave would later say that I asked him numerous times if we were dreaming.
In the midst of our grief and shock, I suddenly had a very keen awareness of what was happening in another place. In my mind, I could clearly see Alex standing in front of the gate of heaven with throngs of people watching him.It is important for you to know, Alex had never walked. Although he was more mobile that his twin sister Elisa, he too was bound to a wheelchair. In my quick vision, it was very quiet until he began to walk inside. Then the people began to cheer like you would hear in a large football stadium full of people. All of this happened so quickly and so quietly within my spirit. It was God showing me a little of what Alex was experiencing. He had closed his eyes in this life. Maybe he had seen me or Dave for just a moment. But when he opened them again, he was with Jesus. He was able to walk now and run. He no longer needed his wheelchair. There were no more limitations.
This vision was God's way of reaching down to me in that terrible moment in time, helping soften the pain as I held our son. In fact, I now understand that shock during grief is itself a gift to buffer the pain.
I can remember turning to Dave and asking, "Is this really happening? Is this real?" The surrealness of that moment can't be described. Just an hour before we had been in our beds. I had talked to Alex just a few short hours before that. I had kissed him goodnight and sang a little song with him. He had asked me the same question that he had asked me many times before, "Mom, what are we having for breakfast?" It didn't compute that I wouldn't see him again. It didn't make sense that he wouldn't be sitting in the kitchen having oatmeal for breakfast. How had this so suddenly happened?
I sat with Alex in my lap for quite a long time. It was dark when we arrived, but now daylight had come. The time came to give him to the nurse. A few moments later, our friend and boss from Teen Challenge, Warren Hunsberger, came into the room and brought hope as he prayed with us there. It seemed to bring clarity. The fogginess was still there, but his voice and words carried authority and were what we needed at that time.
We walked into the bright sunshine and got back into the van. We drove through that dazzling sunlight back to Colfax. I knew that our lives had been altered forever, yet as we passed other people, their lives were the same. They were driving to work or home. But we were going home to a different life.
In the next few days, we had to meet with the funeral home director, plan his funeral, his burial, what clothes he would wear. I hated every moment of that experience.
When all of this was behind us, when the funeral and burial were over, there remained no true normalcy. Everything was sort of the same, but not really.
We still had all of Elisa's (Alex's twin sister who also had cerebral palsy) needs to tend to. That was hard for me. I loved her, but wanted a break from the constant care so that I could grieve. But her care wasn't something that we could just stop doing. I also had her big brother Evan, who was just about to turn five and her little brother, Tyler, who was just three years old. I remember that he came into Alex's bedroom where I was sitting and said to me, "Mommy, you sad? I sad, too." That is a precious memory of him trying to help.
Over the next few days and even months, I stood in front of his closet and stared at his clothes. I smelled his clothes which comforted me. We don't often think about it, but everyone does have a scent that we recognize and that scent was a blessing. We left his shoes at the front door and never moved them that first year. It was almost as if he was still with us as long as his shoes were there.
Twenty years later, it sometimes feels as if we have lived two lives. One life as a family with Alex, and a whole other life and family without him.
When Caitlin was little, she was watching home movies with us of Alex. We later found her crying on her bed. Even though she had never met him, she missed him. She recognized the loss we had suffered in our family. She has a brother she has yet to meet and feels the loss in a very real way because he is a part of our story.
So, what do you do when one of your children is just suddenly gone?
All of the questions, pain, hurts have had to be left in the hands of the One I can trust. His kindness towards me has convinced me of His character. I don't understand His whole plan. Not now. But one day, I will.
In some ways, I feel like after that time, I took whatever hope I had and placed it on a shelf in a closet and slid it towards the back. From time to time, I will open the door and happen to see it. It is covered with dust now and I might even think about taking it out. But it seems best to leave it where it is.
It isn't the hope of heaven that I've left on the shelf. It's the shattered pieces of a hope that wasn't realized. All the hopes I had when I was carrying the twins...all the hopes I had for them to be well. It's so painful. After all this time, I still think there is a part of me that is unhealed.
Why did our twins have cerebral palsy? Why was Alex born only to die at the age of four? Why couldn't we have experienced normal, healthy twins? What would their lives have been like? What has been the point of it all? Why has there been so much pain and suffering?
I just don't know the answer to all those questions. It is like something I heard an older missionary say one day in chapel during Bible school. Their son had died years before and he had looked up into the sky with all the questions and pain, knowing God could have spared their son. He stood before all the students that day in chapel and looked up to heaven and cried "I don't know why God allowed my son to die; it's a mystery...but I'm not going to hell over a mystery." That is the bottom line. I may not understand, but I refuse to be bitter with God.
I love day to day life. I love ordinary days. But I also love celebrations to look forward to. It's probably why I love holidays so much.
One day I will walk into a place that I've never been or seen before. I will stand and try to take in all the beautiful sights before me. I will hear a familiar voice and turn to see his face. I will hear him say, "Mom!" again. It is a certainty. All of the pain will be gone as I'm reunited never to be separated again. It will be the ultimate celebration.
I've written my recollections of those last days to the best of my memory. I don't have a neat, tidy way of wrapping up the story. I guess it is still being written.
If you have suffered the loss of a child or any deep loss, I grieve with you. God can heal our deepest hurts. He longs for you to call to Him. He will answer you and He will come to you in the pain you are in right now.
"He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds." Psalms 147:3
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