A Poignant Morning

Saturday, December 22, 2012 18 Comments A+ a-

Thursday brought a text from Mom asking if I was available for dinner on Friday night.  The invitation was extended on behalf of herself and my aunt.  Unfortunately, not everyone could make it that night, so it was switched to a breakfast this morning.  And what a morning it was!

There we sat, Mom, Aunt Debbie, my girl cousins, and most of the sisters, chatting, talking, laughing, and crying over breakfast.  Some of us bleary-eyed from having to get up early and needing coffee, some of us more talkative than normal, all of us missing Grandma Nancy greatly this Christmas season.  Her absence was acutely felt.

After the meal was eaten, Mom and Aunt Debbie handed each of us a small package, wrapped in leftover Christmas paper from Grandma’s house.  “This is Grandma’s last Christmas present to you all,” they said.  “Go ahead and open it, then we’ll explain.”

IMG959788Inside the wrapping paper, in the white box, nestled in the black jewelry case was a gorgeous white-gold cross, with a single diamond in the center.  As we looked from the necklace to our mom and aunt, they explained.

Years ago, Grammie (Grandma Nancy’s mom) had the idea to break up a diamond bracelet and give each of her granddaughters and great-granddaughters a cross necklace.  She even went so far as to design the cross herself.  But time went on and Grammie eventually passed before she could make it a reality.  Grandma wanted to carry out her mother’s wishes too, but never had the means to do so.

Fast forward to this summer and the diagnosis of Grandma’s lung cancer.  One of the last requests she asked of Mom and Aunt Debbie was to make sure this happened. 

Today was the culmination of an idea 15+ years in the making.

I can’t begin to tell you how emotional this morning was for all of us.  To have something that meant such a big deal to Grandma, to know that this was something Grammie had envisioned for us.  I know any of us would gladly give the necklace back if it mean having Grandma here with us, but this is such a sweet, precious reminder of these beautiful women and the influences they had on our life.  And to share the necklace with all of the women in this family means more than I can say.

IMG950608I’m not sure there will be another gift that can top this.  It is the perfect gift, and so fitting that it would come from Grandma, no matter how indirectly.  As my Aunt Debbie said, “Please don’t be sad about this.  I have no doubt Grandma is looking down and smiling, she’d want you to know how much she loved you.”  And I know my aunt is right.  Sigh.  She is so very missed!

Senseless Thoughts

Friday, December 14, 2012 5 Comments A+ a-

This is just me rambling, in no coherent order or rational reasoning.  Senseless thoughts on a senseless act…

  • Does anyone really have the “right” words during a time when a gunman enters an elementary school and kills 20 children, 7 adults, and himself?  I know that I’m a loss for words.
  • As the information got worse, I knew I wanted my kids home with me.  Illogical? Yes. But as a mother, it was my basest, my most primal instinct.
  • So I did.  I turned off the news, drove to the school, and checked Devyn out for the day.  The front office didn’t bat an eyelash, so I don’t think I was the first parent to show up.  I almost bawled when I saw Devyn’s sweet face.  I actually had to hold myself back from grabbing her and not letting go…
  • I also noticed the principal’s red eyes.  It was obvious she’d been crying. I just can’t imagine the weight that lies on her shoulders as every educator’s worst nightmare came true today.
  • We came home, turned on the Christmas music and made dough for Christmas cookies.
  • My sister, Allie, picked up Devyn and Hudson for Elliana’s birthday party (I’m home with sick babies) and when I hugged them goodbye, it was a little longer and a little tighter than necessary.  I just needed to feel their warm, little bodies against mine.
  • Every time I stop to really think about the victims, my heart beats painfully in my chest.  I can’t imagine what the families are going through, now planning funerals instead of making holiday memories.  I think of empty beds and I want to cry.
  • In moments like these, I’m so tempted to homeschool.  No, I can’t create a bubble for my Littles, but you can’t blame me for wanting to try.
  • Not going to lie… on days like today, I hate social media.  It was human nature at its finest. #sarcasmfont
  • This will never, ever make sense to me.  I will never understand what drives a man to gun down innocent, unarmed victims.  And the fact that the majority were kindergarteners makes me that much sicker to my stomach.
  • All day I kept thinking of Hudson and his classmates. Volunteering in his kindergarten classroom twice a month has allowed to me fall in love with each one of those kids.  I just… can’t…
  • Yesterday, intruders set a woman on fire when she answered the door; in China, a man yielding a knife injured 22 children; and this tragedy.  This world is full of monsters, human ones.
  • I was a college freshman when Columbine happened.  It was horrible and I ached on a human level.  Today I ache as a mother.  These are emotions and feelings that are universal when it comes to being a mama.
  • There are no words for a tragedy like this… None.

To the parents, the faculty, to the rescue workers, and the victims, both alive and taken too soon, the world aches and hurts with you.  When the burden is too heavy, we will do our best to stand in the gap for you.  We can’t take away your pain, but we can offer support in whatever way we can.  You will be in our thoughts and prayers in the days, weeks, and months ahead.  We won’t ever forget today; it affected us all.

A Brighter Hope

Monday, December 10, 2012 4 Comments A+ a-

This is the first time that I have been sad during the Christmas season.  Even four years ago, in the midst of the craziness of a niece arriving, my sister getting married, being 8 months pregnant, and my mom getting paralyzed from Guillian Barre, I was not sad.  Stressed, yes.  But I was still able to bask in the glow of the holiday and have it warm through my soul.  But this year its different.  I am… sad and hurting.  I miss Grandma; its just hurts.  And I may be able to smile on the outside, but I feel like its such a fa├žade.

Last week our pastor gave a sermon that I’ve been unable to stop thinking about.  He started by talking about two American stories, Jovan Belcher and Christopher Krumm.  Both stories happened within days of each other, both haunting, tragic, and sad.  Both stories so indicative of the hurt and pain that never becomes more acute than during the holidays.

I think of the pain many face this holiday season.  Of the wife who faces her first Christmas without her husband, who won’t be there to share in the joy and excitement of their little ones.  Of the mother who takes the requisite photo of her children under the tree, and knows that one is missing from the shot because of a premature death.  Of the family who has no income and no idea how they’re going to buy groceries, let alone Christmas gifts.  Of the couple who’s struggling with infertility and yet at every turn, are reminded that there are no stockings to hang or traditions to start.  This world is full of pain and hurt.  Its messy.

And He knew that…  He knew this world was a hopeless and dark place.  The moment sin entered the world through that first bite, the first act of disobedience and pride, the world was a fallen place.  Void of any true light.  He knew this world needed to be saved from itself, it needed a savior.

Enter a baby.  Born to a virgin mother.  In the humblest of places.  Placed in a feeding trough.  Fully God, completely holy, the Great I Am.  Come to save you.  To save me. To offer hope.

I look around, at the faces of the crowds as they sweep by me in the malls and the stores.  I wonder at their stories, what pain or hurt they’re hiding behind their hurried and absent smiles.  I wonder if they’re facing the loss of a loved one or the loss of a job…  I wonder who they wish they were celebrating with this year… I wonder at the circumstances in their lives.  Do they know there’s a brighter hope?  Do they know there’s one who cares and hurts with them?  Who loved them so much that He was willing to sacrifice His own son to offer the world a savior?  And is it not our jobs to shout that glorious news from the rooftops?

I know that Christmas is full of warmth and joy, of family and friends, of baking and caroling, of being together.  But there’s another side, and its one seldom discussed or talked about, one in which there seems to be no hope or happy endings.  But I’m here to tell you there is… and its yours for the taking.  All you have to do is ask…

Praying you come to know the hope in Jesus Christ this Christmas season!  I promise it’s the only hope you’ll ever need.

This is a Keeper

Sunday, December 09, 2012 3 Comments A+ a-

GrandmaAshlynnI managed to capture this moment between Great-Grandma and Ashlynn today at the birthday party.  There’s just something about seeing generations together like this and I will be framing this one for sure.

Christmas Newletter

Friday, December 07, 2012 6 Comments A+ a-

I realize that many would frown on this, the Christmas-type letter via blog.  But at this point, I really just don’t have the energy needed to create, print, address, and send out 100+ Christmas cards.  And as much as I’d love to jump into the Christmas spirit with both feet, unfortunately, that’s just not going to happen this year.  So without further ado, our cyber Christmas letter.

NewsletterTopDearest Family and Friends,

2012 has been a rough year... a very rough year!  And while I'd love to have a redo, or reverse some of the things that have happened, I can attest to the fact that our faith has been strengthened.  And to that end, I can say, ok, it was not for naught.

Devyn Paige – She has had a rough year. Between three of her close girlfriends moving to other states and the loss of GG, she’s been extra sensitive to changes. And with that, we’re trying to be sensitive to her. She was initially struggling with reading in the beginning of 2012, but sometime during the spring, reading finally clicked and we haven’t been able to keep her in books since. She is very much like her mama, always with a nose in a book. I love it! She also joined the school choir this year, and has been going to early morning choir practice every Tuesday with her school friends. She marched in our town’s Christmas parade and has numerous concerts coming up. She continues to be one of the most compassionate and loving girls I know, I’m constantly amazed at her insightfulness. She is such a blessing!

Hudson Jonathan – Oh, the little mister is not so little anymore. He is becoming more aware, by the day, that he is the only boy among a house full of girls. Some days he relishes in the role, other days, he just.wants.a.break. Thankfully a new friend moved to town and he often escapes to his friend, Holden’s house, where boys rule. He played modified tball this summer and absolutely loved it! He rarely needed to use the tee, and especially enjoyed tagging people out at base. He was a tad too enthusiastic about it actually. He also started kindergarten this year and at first, wasn’t too please with it. It was a lot different than preschool and required more work. But I can finally say that he’s now loving it! Our little man is quite bossy and authoritative, a trait that will serve him well some day. But right now, we get the fun job of trying to reign him in. He is a breath of fresh air, such a fun addition to our family.

Reagan Jacqueline – We recently had Rea’s well-child check-up and the doctor told us, “She is definitely a free-spirit!” I laughed. It was the understatement of the year. Reagan is a pistol, no doubt about it. She is our resident nudist, we are absolutely unable to keep on clothes on her. Jon and I often shake our heads in both bewilderment and laughter. When she is not running around naked, you can find her either coloring or building with her blocks. She and Hudson have a love-hate relationship, either the best of friends or worst enemies. She and Ashlynn have grown closer, often disappearing into Reagan’s bedroom for playtime.

Ashlynn Rose – Our baby turned two years old on Saturday and its hard to believe that babyhood has come to an end in our family. But as Ashlynn grows more independent, we’re looking forward to all of the new adventures in store for us. She is still in diapers, but there’s a definite interest in potty training. She refuses to be left behind by her siblings, often believing she’s bigger than she is. I can’t tell you how many times Jon and I have to turn away in the midst of disciplining so she can’t see our smiles and laughter. The girl has the sass of Reagan, with a touch of attitude and extroverted tendencies. She and Reagan are going to be a handfull, of that I’m certain. But as the baby, there couldn’t have been a more perfect fit for this family.

Jon – 2012 has been a long and stressful year for my husband. Between two separate wildfires on his highway and participating in security detail for the president’s visit in October, I’m not surprised he’s ready to shut the book on this year. He has been up to his eyeballs in paperwork for FEMA involving the High Park fire, cleaning up mudslide after mudslide, and worrying about his guys. He was recognized statewide for his team’s work in the fire. To say I’m a proud wife is an understatement. It takes great leadership to have an effective team, and this proves how much work and effort Jon puts into his job. Jon was able to get away a couple of times this year for “boys only” fishing trips, one with his brothers and another with his cousin. I’d say he earned that time away.

Its has been a year of lessons for this wife and mama. In January, for some inexplicable reason, Munchkin Land Designs took off. I was scheduling blog designs about 6-8 weeks out and I found myself floundering under the new workload. It took numerous months of sleeping little, having next to zero patience with Jon and the Littles, and feeling so very overwhelmed before I made some necessary changes to my schedule. It was the best decision I could have made. I was also able to go to a blogging conference in Nashville in February and absolutely loved it! I was able to meet some dear clients, meet some new friends, and hang out with like-minded women who “get” this crazy blogging thing. It was such a blessing. I’m continually thankful for this opportunity to be home with my Littles. It was something I’ve prayed for for over six years, and I don’t take this time for granted at all. It has even allowed me (and with the swapping of sitting services with a friend) to volunteer in Hudson’s and Devyn’s classes at school. So much fun! In May, Jon and I celebrated 10 years of marriage by escaping to Steamboat Springs for a weekend away. It was the perfect celebration, and probably THE highlight of 2012. We’ve had numerous valleys during these ten years, but oh, the mountain tops. It has been an amazing journey, and one I’m so glad to share with my best friend.

In August we said goodbye to Grandma Nancy after a (too) short battle with cancer. I miss her dearly, almost painfully so. This is our first Christmas without her and its proving to be a much harder battle than I anticipated. Her absence is acutely felt during this time of year. But we move forward, if not for our sake, then the sake of the Littles.

In November, my dad was officially diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. A blow in the midst of grieving Grandma. But after meeting with numerous specialists, there seems to be a plan in place and Dad will be having surgery next month. I’m confident he will beat this, and pray for continued grace and strength in the weeks ahead.

Its true, I’ve never wanted to say goodbye to a year as much as I do 2012. But we are so very blessed. Friendships have been rekindled, prayers have been answered, our faith has been strengthened, God has been near, and mercies are new every morning. Yes, 2012 has been tough, and we’re a little battle weary, but I pray that this time hasn’t been for naught. He is good. All the time!

Praying you have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!