Friday, November 30, 2007

I told you it would be random. =)

I don't remember where I saw that fruitcake image, but it was the front of a Christmas card at some cute online shop. When I find the link I will post it here. {Yay! I found it...right here.} Next, see that Little Professor calculator? I always thought they were so cool and never had one of my own. I think you can probably find them on ebay. But I haven't been over there looking for's just a guess. I just found it nostalgic and I love that I can remember playing with it at my friend's house. I should have asked for one of my own. Why didn't I do that when I was young and had a chance? I don't know. Which makes me think of the time my sister was 'interviewed' about her Christmas list when she was in first grade and the responses were posted in our local paper. It said, "Jacque wants a pretzel pencil for Christmas...and she DOES believe in Santa Claus". {Hi Jacque! Love you.}We all get a good laugh about that memory. My mom still has the newspaper clipping somewhere. See? Christmas makes me goofy. I just love this time of year and all the stuff that crosses my mind. From nativity plays I've been a part of to the first Christmas tree Chip and I bought and decorated when we were married (an expensive Frasier Fir!...Chip insisted!!) and even recently the little tinsel trees that I have started 'collecting' the past two years. =) {Chip doesn't know it's a 'collection' yet.}
It's such a beautiful, special time of year- no matter how tight the budget may be, or how much stress you may have as a result of over-committing to parties and concerts and I even recall how Christmas turned out to be amazing though our family was torn and hurting from our daughter's death and our wounds were fresh in Dec. 2001.
I am learning to be reflective, to look back and enjoy the memories and laughter and innocence that life holds for kids at Christmas. I am learning to slow down and appreciate the present moment and to modify my expectations in order to enjoy the 'now' {although I still need some work on that's an ongoing process for me to live in and appreciate and/or modify the present}. I hope to savor now so that in the future I can look back on it and love these memories and give them as 'gifts' to my kids someday.
You're wondering where the picture of that bed fits into all of this, aren't you?! It's one that caught my eye today when I clicked on the link to Graham & Green. I couldn't even get this bed if I wanted to because it's in the UK and I am in the US. Still, a girl can dream, can't she? If I didn't have a budget and I had a wad of euros in my wallet, I'd be ordering one of these for myself. And then Ava would get my current bed. I told you that I would share random favorites of mine. This is my favorite bed at this moment. Maybe I am just tired...and ready for a good dream. =)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

My favorite things and another cute line...

I turned on a Christmas cd during dinner and when one of Ava's favorite songs came on (Come on Ring Those Bells) she said, "My heart is dancing from this song!". Tell me, what's your favorite Christmas song? Mine is Silver Bells.
The above image is the one I have saved as my desktop background right now. I just think it is simple and festive. You can find it here. There are others available too. I'm just sharing my favorite.
I've decided to share some of my "favorite things" from now til Christmas. They will be random. They will most likely be inexpensive...I am a tightwad when it comes to money. So feel free to share some of your random favorite things with me the next few weeks as well. Especially if they are a good deal. =)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

So I don't forget this...

I am blogging about it. Brock and Bella both have rooms downstairs at our house. They go to bed about the same time each night and it's a race upstairs in the morning with those two. They are like clockwork.
Well, a few days ago Bella came bounding into our bedroom and said, "Guess what? I just had a bad dream...I got Brock's dream! It was the wrong one!" You should have seen the scowl on her face...and it only deepened as Chip and I both burst into laughter. It was so funny.
I think she must think there is a 'dream fairy' or someone that goes around and 'loads dreams' into your head at night...much like a dvd or Gameboy game. She was so serious about the dream mix-up that when Brock woke up, it was the first thing she announced to him. That she had gotten "his dream"...and I think she fully expected he was going to tell her what he had dreamed up in the night- that would have been more to her liking.
As for yesterday, it turns out I had one of my worst hair days in a long time, the wind was fierce and cold as I headed back to the classroom, and I couldn't get all the lights to light up on our prelit Christmas tree...but it still ended up being a 'great day'. I had my moods- ups and downs. But it ended sweet with my kids and I snuggled on the couch watching 'A Charlie Brown Christmas'. You know, I don't watch much tv...but I applaud ABC for still airing this Christmas special as is- Scripture references and all. I'm sure they get their fair share of 'it's politically incorrect' email/calls, and yet they run it each year.
I love when people are willing to stand by what they believe. No matter what others say.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Love this!

I love that people start sharing Christmas inspiration from all sorts of places, in many shapes and sizes. I spotted this over at one of my favorite blogs "How About Orange", who spotted it elsewhere on the net and the links are there if you want to follow them to the source.
I just have to say that I LOVE the feeling of a "good mood" after a fews day of funk. Today is my day. For whatever reason my heart is full and happy. It's funny how for no special reason I can get that 'burst of energy', and it feels extra good compared to sometimes.
It's like the appreciation you have for your health after a bout of something awful. Nothing feels better than a 'normal day' after having spent time in a hospital or in bed or heaving over the... okay. I think I am making it clear enough with that.
I hope nothing zaps my good disposition today. Or for awhile if I can get it to last that long. =) But no matter. I am loving 'it' right now!
Here's to celebrating the everyday 'good moments' in life. I hope a few cross your path today too.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

That nose...

I had no intention of blogging today until moments ago. Now I cannot not blog, lest I forget. This is 'my baby', Ava. She is 3 and a half years old, but she is the youngest of my children, so she is my baby. Her birthday falls just 4 days before Teagan's birthday and so I find myself more and more 'comparing her' and recalling memories of Teagan the closer Ava gets to turning 4. Like this week, I was remembering what I did with Teagan on her last Thanksgiving and how grown up she seemed to me at that time. I find it strange that Ava {and Bella} have never known their older sister, and yet they sometimes tell stories 'about her' as if she were still around on earth today. It is a strange thing at times, and yet I consider it a blessing- there mere fact that we had Teagan in our lives was a blessing. The fact that she 'still is a part of our lives' is a gift.
The point of this post is for me- for remembering. Many of you are mom's yourselves and so you will probably relate to this or at least understand a bit if you're a parent. I went to tuck Ava in a bit more cozy as she was tossing and turning and whimpering in her sleep. I got up from the computer and as I tucked her in and patted her back to sleep I was overcome with how much love I have for her and how much more beautiful she seemed to me as she lay sleeping. Her nose and lips just seemed so perfect to me and well, truly there is nothing more sweet than a sleeping baby. Especially when it is your own.
I recalled the number of times I lay next to Teagan and how I loved to tuck her hair back from her face and I remember how many times I struggled to get her to sleep as a new baby...thinking I would die of exhaustion...but as soon as she was asleep I would want to hold her longer and just stare at her because I was mesmerized at her beauty and the fact that she was mine. I couldn't even grasp it at times how I got so lucky to have such a perfect baby girl.
I have felt the same for all of my kids- I have marveled at their features and thanked God for sending them into my life. I have wondered what I have done in life to deserve such gifts, and recognized that I will fall short and fail them all at times...they deserve perfection and yet God has chosen to send them to Chip and me. It's humbling.
Tonight as I stared at Ava sleeping awhile longer and listened to the rhythms of her breath, it made me stop and wonder all over again. I deserve nothing good in life, and yet I have thought about a long list of gifts in my life that I have to be thankful for this week. I have a life that is abundant and full. I don't stop often enough to take it all in.
I am making this post a reminder to myself to stop and take it all in. Every little feature. Every little breath. Life comes with no guarantees. I am thankful for so much, for memories that remind me of all that I have had, of all that surrounds me this moment. And I hope I will slow down and take it all in as it comes. Life is precious and priceless. And sometimes I forget to take such notice.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

How we celebrated Thanksgiving 2007...

We took all the kids for a little roadtrip to Detroit area where we had dinner on Wednesday night at an Italian restaurant and then had a room reserved for swimming and sleeping at a hotel. We had an early morning wake-up call to get us all up and going in order to get our seats in the grandstand seating for America's Thanksgiving Day Parade downtown Detroit.
It was very much a non-traditional Thanksgiving for our family...but so far in the lives of our children I can't say that we've been home with family enough eating a big turkey dinner for them to realize what they were missing. I always loved dinner with my family (lots of extended family!) and eating a big meal and having football on tv in the background as we enjoyed each others' company all the years I was growing up. But now that we have a family and we live several hundred miles from our loved ones it has meant we've had to do things differently.
So this year we decided to change things up and do something that would create a great family memory for the kids to look back on at the same time we enjoyed just being together. Us. Our family. The hotel and swimming went really well. We basically had a whole hotel to ourselves- the place we stayed at normally caters to a corporate clientele, so it was very quiet on Thanksgiving Day weekend for them. It worked to our advantage and we had a good time of swimming and nobody infringed on our 'space'.
The parade itself was lots of fun and very entertaining in person. The weather proved to be cold...but we expected that and had lots of layered clothes, handwarmers and blankets to keep our minds off the temperature. Our seats were in the tv section of the parade route, so we had extra entertainment from the participants as well as getting to see some of the prelude acts and laughing at the television interns that had to wave signs like "Clap", "Smile" and "Cheer". The candy and necklaces were thrown our way on several occasions as well. Everyone was at their best just in front of was great! From Uncle Sam to giant flowers, clowns and stars, to Elmo and Captain Underpants, the balloon characters were a favorite of all our kids. Brock loved the Star Wars procession the best...he thought Darth Vader was so cool in real life. We took a picture of the Red Hat's Society girls to show Grandma Karen =), and we couldn't help but love the Christmas music and decorated instruments that most of the bands were playing. We sat for 3 hours watching all the entrants and not once did any of the kids fight or cry or have problems with the cold. It was nothing short of amazing {for our family anyway!}. The best pictures and moments were most certainly at the very end as the bells of Santa's sleigh could be heard in the distance and the crowd started to rise to their feet. Ava was looking so intently for the first peek of Rudolph- as she knew Santa wouldn't be far behind. She started calling his name as soon as she saw the reindeer (you can see in the last few photos here) and Wyndham was waving and 'calling' to him too in her little jibber-jabber talk. It was so fun to end on such a great note. But then the worst came as we all FROZE ourselves walking back to the car...that post-parade let-down came and with it the realization of hunger, tired and cold set in.
The best part though, [for me], was when we had to stop right away for gas and to look for a restaurant open where we could get a meal. Thanksgiving Day is not the best day to be out looking for a meal- almost every place was closed. Poor Chip had to finally admit that we couldn't find a nice sit-down restaurant and so we ended up eating cheesburgers and Happy Meals as a family at the nearest McDonalds. The saving grace was this happened to be one of the 'nicest' McDonalds we have been in- they were trying to be a 'coffee shop'/McCafe type of chain, and I was glad that it felt 'high end'. It made Chip and I feel a little less 'guilty' about bucking Thanksgiving Day traditions and doing what we had done. We did buy the kids little Pumpkin Pies for their dessert, and then Chip and I grabbed a couple of holiday Caribou Coffees (Mmmm!) for our ride home. It was really a sweet day when it was all said and done. We had lots to reflect on and to be thankful for.
The worst part was there were no leftovers. Seriously. I have never craved a warm bun/turkey sandwich like I did that evening and the following day. Tonight I made up for it a bit and cooked a roast turket tenderloin, complete with mashed potatoes, stuffing and pumpkin pie. It wasn't nearly as good as Mom's or Grandma's, but it has curbed the turkey sandwich craving for a bit. I am so glad that we had a couple of days together as a family, spending quality time together and making memories that will probably be talked about over Thanksgiving dinner for years to come!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Day~

Here's wishing all of my family and friends a Happy Thanksgiving. I miss you all and want you to know you were in my thoughts and on my list of people I am thankful for in life. I hope you had a day and a long list of things to be grateful for as well. Special thoughts and prayers to my cousin Justin and his wife, as he is away serving our country and she is here at home...this would be their first Thanksgiving as a married couple. I hope you were able to talk together...and I thank you both for the sacrifices you are making for others' freedoms.
To anyone else with loved ones serving in our armed forces or in other arenas, I say thank you too. To all of my Nitty.Gritty. blog readers and your families, I pray for blessings in your lives, abundant and full, that you might share with others whose lives you touch. Whether these blessings are seen or unseen, may you be grateful. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Living, learning and thankfulness...

Today I am thankful for many things. Simple things...yet truly wonderful and life-changing things. For me, some of them are: electric blankets and wireless internet. I have said it before, but I am am eternally grateful that I was not a frontier/pioneer woman who had to live without such modern comforts as electric heat and washing machines and microwave ovens. I would not have been a great Pilgrim, I'm afraid. My husband would totally agree. He has thanked his lucky stars that we aren't living in the 1700 or 1800's and having to hitch a team to a wagon to travel anywhere. I have grown more and more respectful of all that people endured in the years before I was born. It's seems fitting to be grateful and appreciative of the simple things I enjoy and take for granted way too often in this busy lifestyle we have all come to know as 'normal'. It wasn't always this way...and today I am thankful for 'modern luxuries'.
I also am deeply grateful for the ways we have all grown as a family the past few years- in ways we never expected we would have to, but they make us 'better' people as a result. I am thinking of all the things we have learned because of Wyndham's permanent injuries. We have all learned some sign language (Ava is signing 'I love you' in her picture)- some of us have learned more than others, but still, I am thankful that we all have the opportunity to learn to communicate with Wyndham. I think it is something everyone should do, if given the chance. There are more and more special needs kids and adults in this world, and what I see is that the more the 'regular people' learn how to communicate with those who have language issues, the easier it is for them {those who are challenged} to function well with the rest of us. I have seen how Wyndham's issues not only challenge her, but they make us all more patient and aware and sensitive and empathetic to her and to others. That is a wonderful thing- a blessing in disguise, you might say.
In addition to learning and embracing challenges, I am thankful for schools and education which opens doors and opportunities for a whole lifetime. I am so pleased to have my kids in a learning environment in which the teachers and administrators and parents are so involved and truly care about people and about their potential. It is something I think is taken for granted when you have it so well...we have it well and I just want to "publicly" thank the people who are working with my kids. Thanks to all those who work in education and take their roles in others' lives seriously. I think it can be routine and mundane...but it is so important and often makes a world of difference in the lives of children forever. It affects their future and futures to come. I am thankful for learning.
Lastly for today (and everyday) I am thankful for expressions of love. Especially within our family. I know everybody is different when it comes to how much 'love they show', but I really believe that there is no such thing as 'being too loving'. I love that my kids feel comfortable and it comes natural for them to "blow kisses" and to say I love you and sign I love you and that they get real-life hugs and kisses everyday just warms my heart. Sometimes I 'smother them' because I feel like I am making up for the kisses I wish I could give Teagan or the realization that one never knows how many chances you have to lavish love on those closest to you. I took it for granted, and at times I thought I was even savoring the moments and loving the best I could, but I have learned that there is always room for 'more love'. There are days I wish I could turn back the clock and go back in time and give Teagan a million more hugs and tell her I love you a million more times. Maybe I learned the hard way...and don't think for a second that Teagan didn't get her share of love, because she did! It's just that I know time is short, and I am glad I learned the lesson early in my kids' lives and now I shower them with love. Not just at bedtime...but anytime.
It really is a wonderful thing to pause for a few moments and realize the number of things we all have to be thankful for in life. No matter who we are or where we are. There are blessings when we choose to 'see them'. I just may have to do weekly gratitude posts here. Feel free to leave a short list of the things you can think of to be thankful for today and leave them in the comments. I thank you in advance. =)

Monday, November 19, 2007

A week of thanks.

That top picture is "me with Kayla Aimee's hair on" courtesy of Sarah Bowen...who is hand's down, my favorite scrapbook inspiration person. The second photo was taken by one of my SIS fashionista friends during a time of relaxation and fun this past July while some of us were at CHA.
The point of these photos and post are two part. One- I love the pictures and I still can't believe my mouth smiles that big at times. Two- this week is Thanksgiving here in the U.S. and I've decided to list random things I am thankful for each day this week. It is good to "give thanks". I think we can get wrapped up in the holidays so much that we actually lose sight of the purpose of them. Thaknsgiving is not about turkey and pumpkin pie~ although most of us associate them with it...but rather thanksgiving is an action. We give thanks or reflect on the things in our lives that we have to be thankful for- something I try to do everyday throughout the year- but especially now as we have a national holiday celebrating this opportunity to do so.
Today, Monday, November 19, I am thankful for the friendships- deep and meaningful- that I have developed as a result of scrapbooking. A year ago, I didn't know most of the people I now 'chat with' and leave messages of encouragement and ask for prayers and advice from, nearly everyday. What a blessing God has given to me- not only the opportunity to grow and create and share my work- but also for the community, the bonds, the connections that have blossomed as a result. I have met almost all of the Fashionistas- and I love each in their own way. Such a diverse and talented and genuine group of women. I have met and made many new friends closer to home at the Michigan crops too. It has been refreshing to just be able to 'be me' create together, to have fun, to share life and ideas and inspiration. And it's humbling to me to be able to give thanks...humbling that God has blessed me with friendships and scrap product. For that I give thanks.
I also am thankful for things that fill me spiritually. There is such a lack of 'spiritual food' in the mainstream world these days. It's rare to find it in the media, in conversations, in the 'everyday places' we go and things we see. I am more and more aware that the spiritual part of me needs to be filled- daily. Most days I need spiritual food throughout the day. I am learning to soak it up through not only my daily Scripture reading, but also through music and through online resources, and through books. It's a matter of making it a priority, but I am thankful and grateful for the ways my heart and mind can be 'filled' with goodness, truth, exercises and reminders- that stretch me and grow me spiritually. I love that I can listen to messages of truth while I cook dinner or scrapbook- via internet or radio. I love that I can climb into bed and read straight from God's word about what God desires from me, for me, and how to become more like Him.
I am grateful that I have my needs met and that I have Someone to pour out my praise and gratitude to- recognizing that without God I am nothing. Thanksgiving is just around the corner. I have much to appreciate and to see remember that it ALL comes from God is a lesson in humility and it makes my heart want to pour out praise and celebrate even moreso. From the littlest thing to the greatest gift I've been given and continue to receive. I am humbled and grateful to the core of me for God's grace.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Christmas dresses...

This color combo is my new favorite for the Christmas season that is just around the corner. I'm just wondering if I should call it 'espresso and red' or 'chocolate brown and cherry'. Either way I like it...very much. =)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The silver lining...

There is always a silver lining to every not-so-perfect event/thing in life, at least from my perspective. Sometimes it's a matter of many years or reflection until we can find that lining, but I believe in every hardship/heartache or just the I-wish-things-were-different moments, that we can always see something good in them. It's a challenge, I'll admit I've had my share, but still, I hold firm to my belief of silver linings.
Today I had a silver lining moment. A couple of my kids missed school due to sickness, and it's not my favorite thing in life to have sick kids laying around the house. Even for the rest of us who feel well, it takes a little bit out of us. All of our appetites slow down, the schedules have to be rearranged for work/therapy drop off/pickups, that sort of hassle. Little stuff...but still, it involves a little extra energy and effort. Not to mention the added demands of sick little kids asking for things like "carry me over there" or just the tears shed over their aching bodies.
That silver lining moment of sick kids for me happened halfway through helping Brock with his schoolwork. He was feeling well enough to sit at the table and work on his math/vocabulary and reading. What I realized as I sat for an hour helping him through his work was how happy I am that my kids have great teachers and a wonderful school to go to each day...and I am thrilled with my decision not to homeschool! =)
That one hour of schoolwork affirmed to me- very clearly- that sending my kids off to school is not only the best thing for them, but for me as well.
I am hoping that they will all feel better by tomorrow a.m. Not only is it Friday {pizza day...they get Dominoes pizza at lunch}, but it's also the kindergarten Fall Festival party. Goodness knows we don't want anyone to miss that! I think it would be tough for me to find a silver lining from my 5 and 6 year old's perspectives for missing something that fun! Wish us all luck. =)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The past week or so...

There hasn't been much excitement in and around our place- other than the ususal that just comes from having a housefull of kids. We had a short break from school for parent-teacher conferences. I took a short break from blogging at the same time.
I will admit that I tend to get a heavy heart at times, worrying and concerning myself with the burdens of other peoples' lives to the point where it starts to impose on the life I have at hand. It's a constant juggle for me- a permanent tension in my heart. The compassion and concern I have for the needs and heartache of others tugs so strongly on my heart. I do a lot of praying, and lately I find myself asking God, "what do you want me to do?". Sometimes there are no easy answers. That's where I've found myself lately. I have picked up some books and done some reading, and some scrapping and just taken time to be thoughtful and reflective.
But I also have tried to just 'take time'. Here are some of my favorite thoughts/moments from the past few weeks...1) Just watching and loving my kids at play. Nothing is so carefree as a kid jumping on a bed (supervised closely, I might add!). 2) Surprise icecream dots and red velvet cupcake tea parties. 3) Face-to-face time with daddy...ALL fun and games- as usual. =) 4) Sharing stories at bedtime- especially chapter books with Brock. We're halfway through Where the Red Fern Grows right now... 5) Listening to Bella count to 109. I didn't even know she could make it past 30 until she started her countdown while she splashed in the tub last night. 6) Being FULLY present in these ordinary moments and recognizing their simplicity- yet profund touch they have on my life. And hopefully will have on my family as well.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Understanding God's ways

There is a verse in the Bible which says, "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:9) It's one of the very basic beliefs I hold about God- that He is above all, and no matter how much I learn and grow in my faith- I will never have all the answers or be able to make sense out of everything that happens in life- good and bad. Simply put- God is above all and He operates on a whole different level than we do as human beings.
I write this today because I have been praying for a lot of people in life that just need answers to some of the big questions in their lives. Some of you have emailed me and I often get asked the questions about how Chip and I can have such positive outlooks in life after living through such horror and hurt.
Well, the truth is, first of all, that we have had bad days. We still have them on occasion, and we still have to choose to focus on the good in life in order to not be consumed by the hurt and the memories that still are a real part of our lives. It's a choice- everyday.
However, we firmly believe in God and therein lies the key to our faith. Our faith tells us that we will see Teagan in Heaven again someday. Our faith tells us that we can trust in God- that He does/allows things in life that may look like 'bad stuff', but in the end, He can use it for good. Our faith tells us that God loves us with an all-consuming love...and that He wants what's 'best' for us. That verse in Isaiah is key here- because it allows for us to 'accept the bad' and move through it holding on to a Hope that tells us that whatever has happened or is happening or may happen in the future- is something that God will somehow use for good in the end.
Our faith doesn't tell us that life will be easy or that it will even make sense along the way. Our faith doesn't tell us that we have to 'love the bad stuff' that happens to us- we simply choose to accept it and trust, by faith, that God will be there with us in the midst of it. He suffers and hurts when we go through trials and pain in life. He is the source of comfort and Hope and that is why I am able to look at life with a heart of gratitude.
Not becuase I'm in denial of what has gone wrong, but rather I am filled with hope and peace that God is continually at work to make it right.
I post all of that to lead into a really amazing story- which I believe shows such a beautiful example of how God is at work- in our world- in our lives all the time. Some of you may remember the Coble family from California, who back in May of this year experienced a tragedy which resulted in the death of all three of their children- Emma, Kyle and Kate. I cannot tell you how many people were moved by their suffering and grief. Hundreds of people were praying for them and couldn't imagine how they would go on in life after the sudden deaths of all their kids. I asked for my readers to pray too. I never have stopped thinking about them and praying- as I understand on a small scale the pain and ache their hearts have felt. I have thought about them on days like the last day of school and the start of another year this fall. I wondered how they would celebrate the 4th of July or how they got through Halloween. Sometimes when my kids splashed in their pool and had popsicles dripping down their chins I would whisper a prayer for Lori and Chris and all that they were missing without their kids physically with them each day. My heart has ached for them, with them and I have prayed feverently for their lives to be touched by God in a very real way. I have prayed for their marriage to be sustained through their heartache and for the pieces of their lives to be put back together in a new way, rather than torn apart even more.
That's why I share this link with you. It has touched my heart and many of their closest friends and family, I'm sure, to see that God is with them and has never left their side. They are expecting three new babies this coming spring, and I'm sure in the midst of this joy, they are still shaking their heads wondering why things have happened and are playing out in their lives the way that they are. Still, I can't help but think that if they keep trusting God and keep leaning on Him, that they may not fully have all the answers to their big questions, but that God will guide them and show them beauty and grace in ways they never even imagined.
That's what faith is. Believing that God is the way- surrendaring your everything to Him- trusting fully that His way is best; His ways are higher. He has nothing but good intentions for us when our hearts are placed fully in His hands.
That is when one can fully experience peace, hope, assurance and Joy- even in suffering at times. I hope that some of you will feel led to pray for the Cobles as they continue to grieve, to wonder, to question and to look forward to the hope of new life. My prayer is that God will fill their hearts to overflowing and that His hand will be obvious to them and others through it all.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Rockin' and rollin'...

Crying over laundry one day. Scrapping 'my rock stars' the next. That's how I roll. =) If you want to see the page, click on my gallery post here.
There is something so amazing about living in the moment and savoring the simple, the ordinary as it happens each day. The good, the all has a place in life. The more we recognize that and embrace it- the good AND the bad, the more we have a chance to grow from it, learn from it, and recognize it as beauty. Even when it doesn't look or feel like it.
That's what I am learning. I'm no superhero...I'm no spiritual giant. I'm just an ordinary person, trying to give God my problems as they come, and in doing, I get back more than I deserve. That is one of the reasons I blog and share my faith so openly. I want everyone to know it's available to them and it can change their life, heal their hurts, mend their brokeness and offer peace and Hope in abundance. That is a beautiful thing. Sharing this reality with people who need to hear it is one of my favorite things in life. I thank God that He has given me ways to share myself- through this blog, through scrapping, and in lots of other ways too. I am blessed.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

"Folding the whites"

Somedays it hits me more than others that Teagan is really gone. I pulled out some pictures this weekend- looking for pictures to scrap. Coming across some of the ones of me and Teagan just seems so unreal to me. The fact that I never wanted kids- ever! Then I had Teagan and I did a 180...I couldn't imagine anything I'd rather do than be a mom. Especially to Teagan. She was such a fun-loving little girl. She had unstoppable energy and was full of hugs and kisses- no matter the time of day. I look at these pictures and it makes me wish I could just scoop her up and give her some love- the fact that I had nearly four and a half years to do that at any moment of any day was a gift. I loved it- but I realize now I didn't take nearly enough advantage of that gift when I had it in my life.
One of the hardest things I had to do in the days and weeks following her death was fold the laundry. I couldn't even breathe sometimes when I pulled the whites out of the drier because I was overwhelmed with not having her days-of-the-week underwear in the loads, and also because it was one of the things we did together. I would dump the warm clothes out on the bed and she would help me sort and fold...or jump in the pile- especially towels- when they were hot and fresh.
Not having those moments to share with her just socked me in the stomach. I would end up sobbing uncontrollably wondering how I would ever go on in life- when something as simple as folding clothes brought me to my knees.
Flash forward to today- and I ended up with tears in my eyes as I folded the laundry again. This time I was still folding fresh clean days-of the week underwear and seeing little butterflies with the word 'Tuesday' all over them just hit me in a new way. It's been a long, hard and winding journey, but I found myself unable to breathe- not out of grief, but instead I recognize that God has given me a gift. A real life gift of beauty out of ashes- of simple joy out of deep pain- of finding reason to hope and live again, where once I felt only despair.
I still wish more than anything, that I could wrap my arms around Teagan and rub noses and pinky promise to love her forever...just like I used to do each day. And there is always a part of me that clings to the memories of the 'life we used to have'. But the gift of new life, new Hope and new Joy is one that floods my soul in the most ordinary moments of my life now. A gift so amazing, that I can't help but thank God for showing up in my life and I find myself folding my hands and saying 'thank you' in the middle of a pile of laundry. Today and everyday, I am grateful that God sustains me and even showers my life with beauty and gifts. In the most humbling moments sometimes. My prayer is for others to be open to His amazing grace- at any turn, in any circumstance you may find yourself. For those who need encouragement for the journey today, may you be blessed with His mercy and beauty- as you need it- today.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Post-Halloween pics...

I received my November Collection called "Autumn Bliss" from SIStv this past week and scrapped one of Bella's pictures from Halloween. {You can see the full page here.} I'm not that into Halloween other than having a few pumpkins outside the front door, and of course, the dressing up and getting candy with the neighbor kids and their families. I was proud of the fact that I let my kids pick their own costumes this year- even if I wasn't totally into their choices.
Ava was a butterfly, Bella changed her mind at the last minute from Cinderella to a 'Princess Pirate' and Brock did his own thing with a cape, some fangs, some make-up and an axe. Wyndham had the choice of being a butterfly or a princess or a clown...but in the end she just bundled up and signed 'thank you' at each door she visited. It was a fun night for all the kids, and I am pleased with the way they have been pacing themselves with their candy. They haven't had to be scolded about their full pumpkins even once! That's a sure sign of maturity, huh?!
So there you kiddos and their costume fun. Now that Halloween is over I can start getting my mind geared up for Christmas. I have a feeling it will sneak up on me this year. My classes and busy family schedule just seem to get the best of me somedays. My goal is to get cards made and a gingerbread village baked and decorated around Thanksgiving time. Lofty goals, but lots of fun involved in them too. Happy Autumn!