Monday, September 5, 2011

Just Maybe...

This post, as well as several others have been floating around in my head for some time now, and this one in particular needs to be released! We have been sooo busy lately.  Not the usual busy, but a different kind of busy.  The reason for our new found busy - ness will have to wait for another day... another post. (This time I will try not to let 6 months pass between posts :) This is a story that needs to be told - a story of God's gifts.

The setting: A family reunion weekend in my hometown.  A weekend filled with hugs and laughs, questions and stories, and just a special time to spend with aunts, uncles, nephews, siblings, parents, and other relatives. 

The time: Archer turned one the wednesday before, August 3rd, but we weren't able to celebrate his birthday yet, with a cake and candles and the hoopla that is so fun with a first birthday.  We had hoped we would find time over the weekend with family, but we also had a big family picture, and we didn't know if it would all work out.

The characters --- aka - the people: My family. I have three sisters and one brother.  We are all married with 2, 3, 4, and 4 children. Paige is my littlest sister and she is only 14 - needless to say she is not married or with child, but she is the coolest aunt any of the 11 nephews could ask for, and a pretty sweet aunt for the two nieces in the group. She is also a pretty special sister, and she closes the age gap between parents, siblings, nephews and nieces better than anyone --- playing with the youngest and keeping up adult conversations with the oldest.  Such a fun dynamic for any family to have. My mom married my stepdad after my dad passed away when we were all younger.  With all of the sorrow and confusion of losing a parent, I am not sure that his transition into our family was an easy one, but I have thanked God many times for the gift this man has been in my life.

The place:  My family's farm... really a big house in the middle of farmland, much of which is farmed by my brother and stepdad.  A beautiful spot with a view to the East that is usually breathtaking, but especially so in the summer with the fields full of life --- waves of grain, there is a reason it is called "the heart of the country."

The realization: I miss her more when we are with our whole family.  When all are accounted for - each with his or her respective family.  It is at these times that I miss Amelia the most.  It is as if I am aware of her absence in a different way. I don't know why really.  I mean, I am used to our family now. The three boys, P and I. It is familiar.  We miss Amelia... we always will.  But it feels normal. Sad but true, it feels normal.  I am used to it. 
As we were each lining our families up for photos, and placing people and moving this one over a smidge - you sit, no - stand here, scoot a little further in..... smile everyone - look here --- CHEESE! 

The clouds: As soon as we headed back towards the house these clouds are building... and building... and pretty soon it is a massive wall cloud that everyone is ooohing and aaahing at.  I have never seen anything quite like it.

The party: So the pictures ended and we all head back into the house for cake and ice cream. We will have time for Archer's birthday cake and singing after all, and we are also going to sing happy birthday to a couple others who recently had birthdays as well.  But first --- to Archer.  I mean, it is his FIRST birthday, and he was also borderline sleepy because it was nearing his bedtime. So on with the party

The backstory: So we called Archer our rainbow baby, and you can read about why from this post, when I first introduced him to you on this blog -  When I think about Archer, my heart swells.  Each and every day I feel blessed to call him my son.  I love all of my children, that goes without saying, but the past year with him has been precious.  He has the sweetest demeanor - so content.  And at the same time a ham.  What a precious gift - a precious rainbow baby, now filling our lives with so much joy.

The answered prayer: After the birthday song is done, and the candles were blown out (by Owen before Archer grabbed the flame) Archer is diving into his cake, and we are passing out cake and ice cream bowls. Someone looks to the East out the wall of windows at my parents' house and there in the sky, where the dark clouds had been was not one rainbow, but TWO.  Arcing over the horizon in majestic form, I tried to not let the tears fall.  I tried to smile - because how can you not smile when you see a cake covered face of your baby, and frosting smushed between every finger, and him grinning from ear to ear.  Slowly, I look around to see faces caught off guard, some tear filled eyes, and more love in one room, so much so that my heart hurts. My mom says, "I prayed that God would send us a sign of Amelia today, during our pictures". She is missed not just by P and I when we are all together - the whole family.  God answered her prayer, and His timing is perfect in all ways at ALL times.  And if you could have seen those rainbows, you would agree with me that God is a bit of a show-off. Oh how He loves us.

Pictures hardly do justice to the naked eye view of things, but you can see the span of the rainbow in the top photo, and you can catch a glimpse of the larger second rainbow on the picture below. Thank you Jason and Cindi for the photos :)

The gift:  This is the part of the post that has kept swirling in my head, and swirling and swirling.... and I'm just not exactly how to write it.  I tried to tell my friend Jane about it the other day, and she "got it" because good friends do even if it doesn't make any sense when you say it, and even if you can't talk right because you are crying.  Thanks, Jane.  You see, the gift of a child in most peoples' minds starts from the very beginning. When you find out they exist, even before you know when they will arrive, before you know if they are a boy or a girl, your mind starts thinking about him or her.  You imagine diapers and blankets, and giggles and cries.  You think of all the things you can teach him or show her, the talks you will have, the memories you will make.  The gift of a child is all the joys that you will have when raising them.  The funny things that are said, and the cute faces that are made.

The gift of Amelia was harder to understand.  It took awhile to see that even her short life was a gift to us.  As short as it was we were blessed to have known her, to have prayed for her as her heart beat within me, and to have felt her kick, and to have seen her move and roll on the ultrasound screen.  All things that we would never have wished away.  Better to have had her for a short time than not at all.  To most people we are a family of all things boy, but we know there is a sweet little girl who holds a very special place in our family.  A touch of beauty that we were only able to hold for a little while - born sleeping in our arms, living in heaven this glorious day. 

It is so impossible to explain, but just maybe, her gift to us is unfolding... little bits at a time.  A quiet moment that P and I have in a bustling room filled with wedding goers and joyous hugs and smiles, and we miss her.  Our eyes wet as tears dare to fall and our throats burn. And we share a closeness, a moment that I can't love him anymore than I do at that moment, and just maybe that is another gift to us from the One who made her.  Just maybe she was never meant to jump and play in our home, but to bring us closer to eachother, to help us love our boys better.
I stand in my mom's living room and I peer at the double rainbow outside in all its beauty and think, just maybe... this was the gift we were meant to recieve.  Tears roll down my cheeks, and I think --- this is a gift.  We dreamed of the gift of giggles in the hall and squeals at dinnertime.  Of curly pigtails and dresses and sparkly shoes. Those gifts are truly gifts - we are sure, but we are also sure that Amelia has allowed us to recieve gifts a plenty if we would only wait for them, and realize them. A gift to sisters and a mom who live states away from eachother, and yet we share tears and hugs at the sight of a rainbow-filled sky.  Our differences melt away with hugs and smiles as heaven is brought close. As we share a sorrow, we receive a gift of closeness.

I think about heaven more.
I think about what our lives mean here on earth more.
I think about what God wants of me this day - for His kingdom's purpose.
I talk about her and I mention God and heaven to people I may have been afraid to before.

Just maybe the gift of a child is sometimes not what you dream of at all. Just maybe the sickness or death of your loved one is not what you feel is the best plan for your life or his or hers. 
Sometimes life is not anything close to what we imagined it would be. I am still learning about our Creator and His love for us.

I will always be thankful for the gift of Amelia, the gift that is still unfolding in our lives.

The bottom line, I trust the Gift-Giver.  The Giver of all things. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

I put it on a shelf.

Sometimes I throw them in a drawer, stack them (neatly) under my bed or on a shelf, occasionally I put them in a tote, or slide them in a closet.  They are things I started, but have not finished. Some are books, others are crafts, most are papers or bills that need to be shredded or filed away... This inability to finish things is quite menacing. There are things that I do complete. Usually because I have to, or I really want to or need to.  I am a happier person when I can see my counter tops free of dishes and papers.  This is why I will finish cleaning the kitchen, or at least to the point where I can see the majority of the counter space.  However, my habit or personality trait which causes me to leave things undone is not desirable.  Because, the fact of the matter is, I eventually have to finish the "project" whatever it may be.  And... it is ALWAYS more difficult to finish it later than to just be done with it near the time it started.  The hiding of things, or putting it up or away for a short time alleviates the stress of having it sit right in front of you, and allows a temporary break from the project.  Some people put projects up, to revisit them later, because that is what you have to do sometimes. Some things can not be finished in one sitting. 

My problem arises more because that which I put up, to do more of later, almost never gets done later. It gets done... sometimes never.  I have some new thing which comes and fills my time.  As a mom, often times it is something I didn't plan for the day, but is nonetheless worthy of my time.  Those things like cleaning up messes, sitting down for an impromptu "rocket star" concert, or looking for a boot that has gone missing, and that sort of thing.  Usually I put one thing away to get to something more fun, and less taxing.  This is why there is an unorganized stack of papers laying on top of the filing box, and an array of papers squeezed in between the wall and the shredder in the closet, and I have little problem saying, "I'll get to you later".  I will get to it later... when I can't stand it anymore, when the sight of it I can take no longer, or when it is time to do taxes, or when I can't find an important paper, which needs to be found.  Whatever the reason, I do eventually have to deal with the "put away" thing.

I know that grief is ongoing work.  I knew this early on.  It was so huge in my life, I had to deal with it.  It would be like if the mound of dishes on my counter ---- I HAVE to deal with them, or I can't function.  But now it is smaller. I don't trip over it everyday like I used to, I can look around it, or put it on a shelf.... for a while.  I always know it is there, but sometimes I want to get to the more fun things.  I (usually) have the choice now, almost two years later, whether I will get the tote of pictures and mementos out... whether I will pull up her pictures on my computer, and gaze at her sweet red hair.  Most of the time, out of necessity I do other things.  I hold Archer's rolly polly legs in my hands, and I pull the smell of his peach fuzz hair into my nostrils and breathe deep.  I hug Ev and wonder how he got so big, and how he knows that the planet closest to the sun is really, really hot. I run my fingers through O's hair, and wonder when he stopped twisting it. I can't remember the last time I have seen him do that... has he grown out of that? already?   Sigh...

I think about the first months after we lost Amelia, and how my arms were so very empty, and all I could do to get by was to pull her pictures out and look at the flowers and plants that were given to us, and fight back hot tears when I thought of all the hopes I had for her in our family, as our daughter, as the boys' sister.  I think of how I planned on nursing her, holding her, rocking her, playing with her, filling my days with...... her.  I still swallow a lump sometimes when I see a little girl about her age, and wonder.  But now, I can put it on a shelf for a little while, and I can choose not to go there in my mind, or to get the pictures off the shelf. But sometimes it falls on my head, and I curse at it, wondering why it fell out of nowhere when I wasn't planning on getting it out.  Sometimes I can just remember that it is there, that she is gone, and that she is in a glorious place, with her heavenly father, the King... and she has no tears of pain or sadness.  I remember what almost always dried my tears, even in the earliest days after losing her.  I think of Christ. I think of His sacrifice, and my cross seems much more bearable.  If not for Jesus's sacrifice and His love for me, I wouldn't have the peace I have now.  The peace that comes knowing she is waiting for me, the peace knowing I am forgiven, and I have a day to look forward to. A day and a place where everything is as it should be.  Praying that His peace comforts you in your trials, and that His sacrifice changes you. 

And some days I have to look at her pictures, and savor the sweetness of having her in our arms.  I have to go there, to that place of missing her like crazy... again, and I have to live with the sadness and the joy all together - pell mell.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

These Women on Wednesdays

Sometimes a good practice for your marriage has something to do with other women, and your spouse isn't even there.... Just a filling of your spirit, a refreshing of you.

For several months now, I have been going to a Bible study on wednesday mornings.  With three littles, a head full of busy and nothing, at the same time, a house full of laundry and dishes (mostly dirty), a car full of cracker bits and milk splatters... it is good to fill your heart with what really matters so that you can let that which is both life giving and spiritually enriching overflow into this life of mine... and into the lives of those so very dear to me. I try and find quiet time here and there to feed my soul, and refresh. It is sooo very hard it seems, although maybe that is just an excuse sadly.  And on this wednesday morning, with no school... again (snowday # 2) and with no Bible study, these women have found a way to fellowship without being face to face. Oh how they bless me.  This is my practice. This is what helps to fill my cup, this is what helps me to be a better wife to my dear husband.

Normally with food and smiling faces we meet, but today I turn to their encouraging e-mails, the verses that have touched them this week, and as I open my inbox, feeling a little drained, the Word is powerful, and those verses encourage me.  So fitting, the verses today are focused on how God wants us to be better wives to our husbands, His sons, and in turn love those littles better who spend every waking minute with us.

All because of a string of wednesday mornings spent with some of God's girls.  I feel God encouraging me through them.

And I can better love my partner, my beloved, the way God intended me to.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Because everything is from Him

I'm linking up on this Monday of multitudes, because every gift is from God, and I don't thank Him near enough.

This is the start of the list for me...
        and it's about time....

1. Jesus.  He is really the only thing - person - savior - everything, that could be number one on my list...

      ------ and everything comes from Him...

2. chunky baby legs.

3. boys playing with knights... filling my house with miniature battles.

4. sweet baby cheeks - specifically --- these baby cheeks.

5. a picked up house.

My goal is a hundred things I am thankful for - and then a thousand - and in the words of a famous disney character around here, "to infinity and beyond" - will be the list of things I am thankful for.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I'm still here

A new year, a new start?...  I can't believe it has been so long since I have done a blog post.  Things are going well. Archer is growing so fast, and the older boys are full of energy and also full of vinegar, as my grandpa would say.  Very soon I am planning on re-vamping my blog in a way. I want to be able to have things be a bit more transparent, and open. I know that many of my readers know me personally, and even if you don't, and even if you happened upon my blog after skipping through five others, I still want to personalize things more. I know you may be thinking - more personal? You just shared your innermost feelings in previous posts with anyone who has internet?! I know, I know, but I am wanting to have a record sort of, about things going on in our lives, including videos, fun things we talk about, and I don't want to have to go through and check - "did I forget to take their real name out?"  A silly thing, a little thing maybe, but it will be fun to properly introduce you to my kiddos, and give the bloggy place a new feel and look too.

So ---- looking forward to being on here a little more regularly, and in a little bit of a new way.

Hope your new year is full of fresh starts and good things.  Each day can be a new start... even if it's not technically January 1st - have to remind myself of that tonight, as I haven't worked out in a couple days. Have to convince myself not to "throw in the the towel" yet :-)

And a picture - of boys in their pajamas (aka underwear) - just for fun.

Friday, December 3, 2010

I can't go to bed...

Do you ever have those nights where you just can't go to bed?  It's like I have gotten my second wind, and finished what I wanted to, but just can't get into bed... So I have been going through all the blogs I follow, and even peering into new ones.  It really is ridiculous, because I know I only have about 4 more hours before a baby will want to eat. I mean, he has already been sleeping for four hours... 

Usually this is not my dilemma. Normally I fall into bed and manage to be sound asleep in seconds, literally.

And when it is late, and the music is playing, I find myself enjoying the rare moment of being alone.  I am smitten with our Christmas tree.  The one that the boys so dutifully helped trim this evening.  Ev saying, "I'm tired of hanging things..."  Only to get a quick reply from Dad, "I get sick of it at the end too."  And then followed by, "Ev, you need to get that on the tree.  You're going to bend it if you lay on it like that.  One - Two" 

* silent chuckles as I think about it *

I love it.  I just look at our tree and am filled with thankfulness for the four little hands that hung the ornaments, a daddy who helped unwrap and hand out the ornaments, a warm living room for it to sit in... And most of all for a savior, came down to earth as a tiny babe, born in an unsuspecting place, to save us all, to save - me, a sinner. I am thankful to celebrate this most mysterious and glorious event.  The event that changed the world, but more importantly the event, the God that still changes hearts, mine included.

With a grateful heart, a quiet house, and a cat still sleeping in the exact same spot as the above photo :)

Friday, November 12, 2010

a hop! and a scotch? make two boys in motion

Admittedly, these were taken a while ago - look at the last pic, and you will know it was a while ago by the baby bump, but I wanted to link up to "Boys in Motion" over at Erin's blog today. 

Please excuse the fact that they are only wearing t-shirts. That is all I will say about that.

Who says boys can't have a little fun playing hop-scotch!?

It starts with the chalk!

Gotta love the shadow!