Monday, April 23, 2012

It was exactly 3 years ago last Friday, April 20th, that our world swiftly tilted

So last Thursday, April 19th, I paused.

I tried to recollect how I was (who I was?) before April 20th happened. I imagined myself going about my day that was probably nothing far from ordinary. Was I happier? Smile more? Worry less? Calmer? Because that was all before. Before the madness. Before the shatter. Before I ceased to be who I was and started to become who I am now. 

And I think about God, the God of April 19th, and who I thought He was. 

Or more like, who I had made Him out to be.

The God of April 19th looked something like this: He would allow bad things to happen to good people, but not super-terribly-crazy-bad things to happen to anything-above-lukewarm-Christians. Crazy, I know. I probably would not have admitted to believing that, but reaction to circumstance is pretty indicative of what I (and people in general) believe. He was kind and good and somehow it was so much easier to believe because the really ugly-gives-you-goosebumps-nightmares only happened to "other people".

Until they didn't.

And then I was "other people".

And I have come to realize, among many other things over the last three years, that the God of April 19th not only doesn't exist, He never did. I had made for myself a graven image, God as I know Him, instead of the true God that He really is, despite what I want to believe Him to be. And since then, my relationship with Him has become much richer, deeper, and more intimate than I could have ever thought. Suffering takes your heart to places with God that can not be reached in any other way. 

I remember a phrase that I somehow repeated to myself in that ultrasound room when I thought I would die right there of a broken heart: He is still the same...He is still the same...He is still the same. 

And He still is.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Fun & Frugal Hello Kitty Party

It was all about Hello Kitty this past weekend as we celebrated my little girl's 7th birthday. Instead of using the Hello Kitty party supplies available at the store, I decided on a pink, black & white theme with Hello Kitty scattered throughout. It is much cheaper to buy solid colored paper plates (black) and napkins (pink with white polka dots) than to buy the Hello Kitty embellished party ware. We used fabric, sheets, tissue paper flowers, cardstock that we already had on hand to complete the look! For games, we played musical chairs, freeze dance, and pin-the-bow on Hello Kitty. We put on HK tattoos and enjoyed a tasty lunch of finger foods like cheese, sausage and crackers, fruit kabobs, pigs-in-a-blanket, and mini pb&j sandwiches. Everything was designed to be fun, frugal, and well, a little fabulous.

:: Homemade Table Centerpiece - Tablecloth is a flat sheet with a zebra print fabric remnant laid over the top. ::

 :: Hello Kitty Birthday Banner - Created with a Sizzix Big Shot ::

:: Close-up of Hello Kitty on the banner ::

 :: Helium Balloon Bouquets from our local dollar store. I purchased the pink polka dot balloons at a party store & brought them to the dollar store to be filled. ::

:: We played pin the bow on Hello Kitty as a party game. It was great fun! I created this poster using the "grid" method. ::

:: My mantle is ready for the party! ::

:: The birthday girl is ready to party in her HK tshirt and her HK handmade hairbow. ::

:: The birthday girl and her girlfriend who slept over the night before the big party. It's not all the decoration or food or presents, but the special people that make these days extra-special. ::

:: Homemade chocolate cupcakes with pale pink frosting, silver sugar glitter, and candy HK faces. ::

:: HK cake - White cake with fresh sliced strawberries and real whipped cream frosting. ::

:: Make a wish my sweet girl. I hope this day was as wonderful as you are. ::

Friday, December 09, 2011

Do you know?

Do you know?

Do you know, little fuzzy-haired boy, how loved you are by me who shares no DNA?

Do you know, boy with curious eyebrows, how curious I am at what your future holds, wondering if this time will be the last time I see you, begging God to find you and fill you?

Do you know, small child, of the prayers that I have said on your behalf, off-and-on for the last 10 months since we first met, of protection and hope, of miracles for your earthly Mama so that your life might not be so stinkin' hard?

Do you know, energetic little sprite, how tiring it can be to take care of you and thankless too, the pouring in, the kisses, the wrestles, the heart-love, knowing that there will likely be no earthly return on my investment?

Do you know, happy toddler, of all the memories we have made together, of crawling, and walks in the stroller, of screams I could not comfort, of laughing til you grew hoarse, of first steps and haircuts, of photos snapping instants in time, watching you grow?

Do you know, momentary son, how you turn our lives upside-down while you are here, but leave us with hearts gaping when you leave?

Do you know, innocent one, of the loss in this Mama's heart, so big and pervasive that it is a true miracle that I can even do this thing, this loving and letting go?

No, you could not possibly know. And I realize that you might never. But your knowing is not necessary. Your thanks is not needed. I know that He knows, even if you won't. And He is the reason, His beckoning to help little ones and Mamas who don't know about the light yoke.

And I am so glad that you came in time to remind me of this, that all that I do should be for His glory and fame. You give my heart perspective during this season, even if you will never know it.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

A Tale of Two Wreaths

This was last year's DIY wreath.

It so fluffy and white and ruffle-y and best of! Plus, you can display it all winter long since it's not too Christmas-y. 

You only need coffee filters, a foam wreath form, and hot glue. Total cost is less than $10 (with the wreath form being the most expensive part). In 2010, I hung it in front of a big mirror, but this year it got relocated to the front door to make room for....

...this year's DIY wreath.

Go ahead and break into refrains of "Isn't she lovely? Isn't she wonderful?" (I know I am. And I bet you are singing it now too, at least in your head.)

I am so happy with the way this wreath turned out! It's shiny and glittery and a nice diversion from the red & green-ness of the traditional holiday colors.

You'll need shatterproof ornaments and a coat hanger. Can you believe the hanger was the hardest for me to procure? Mine are all the hard plastic kind! I used one full bucket of 26 medium ornaments from Wal-Mart ($4.97), about 10-12 more medium ones from a second bucket ($4.97), and one full tree-shaped package of small Wal-Mart ornaments ($4.97). If you wait to find them on clearance after the holidays, your project will be even cheaper! (I can vouch for the WM kind that the ornaments are fairly sturdily attached to the ornament tops. If you buy another brand, you *might* have to hot glue all the tops to the ornaments so they don't easily come apart. But this is too much work for me so thankfully I didn't have to.)

Any questions? Other favorite DIY wreath ideas?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

It has been exactly two months since my last blog post. It feels like time to break the blog silence. I have felt this way before. From hurting to healing to confusion to creativity....where to start? What to say?

...brought numbness. Disbelief. Thick seemingly impenetrable walls went up around my heart. I couldn't feel. I couldn't pray. I couldn't. Life resumed it's regularly scheduled program and I went through the motions. Loved ones wed, my niece had a birthday, laughter, joy. My body was present, but my heart...well, that's another story.

...brought celebrating. Our anniversary. I should have been...jubilant. Expectant. My husband planned this truly extravagant weekend of things he knew I would love, as a total surprise, complete with pre-arranged childcare! Dinner at the Signature Room. A Mario Tricocci massage. Splendiferous romantic details!! It was a big courageous attempt at moving towards oneness and away from the isolation that has plagued our marriage for so long. Have you been there? Isolated? Maybe you have been there for so long you don't even remember how it was...once upon a time. Things are good, but not excellent. You have settled and compromised and so has he. And then you stay there. But God had already gotten ahold of my husband's heart and had brought him to his knees by the time our anniversary came around. Although I still didn't really have any strong emotions because of all that had transpired the month before, I distinctly noticed something else happening. Those concrete heart-walls began to fracture.

As if one weekend away from the daily grind wasn't fabulous enough, I was treated (and surprised!) again the following weekend. The Husband whisked us off to Milwaukee for a Weekend to Remember conference. I was feeling...cautious & curious about what this weekend would hold for me as a wife and for us as a couple. It was *truly* wonderful. (Fracture...fracture...crumble) It was more like a "working vacation" than anything. The sessions were a good mix of humor and pointedness and heart-felt sharing and conviction. I came home feeling...changed.

brought more changing. Of slowly moving towards. God. People. The Husband. Of seasons getting colder. Of appreciating His brilliant spectrum of yellows, orange, reds and browns. Of caring for a baby who needed a place to stay for a week. Of loving reading again! Books, books, and more books! One in particular that has been particularly excellent is When Life is Hard by James Macdonald. Of walls continuing to come down. Of new habits of love and understanding. Of pruning the good in favor of the excellent. Of renewed creativity.

Quite the roller coaster, huh?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Big Enough

In nearly 48 hours from now, my little brother will be getting married. His bride-to-be is a wonderful young lady, who happens to share my exact first and middle name! I have had the privilege to get to know her over the last several months and will proudly stand beside her {in my guava colored bridesmaids' dress} as she marries the love of her life, my little brother.

I pray that He restores my joy and infuses my heart with happiness before Saturday.

Because life just doesn't stop. My brother will get married. My bestie from high school will wed her man only a few weeks from now. Another BFF is pregnant and is due only 10 days before I was. We shared only one day of joy and giggles over being pregnant together, which I am truly thankful for. She hesitates to share happy news, knowing that my heart is still broken.

But I think I am big enough.

Big enough to know that the world keeps on turning even when we're hurting.

Big enough to love & put other people first and be happy for them, even if I am only smiling on the outside. Because grief and joy do mingle.

Big enough to remember that I will not always feel the way I do today. Time will pass. My heart will heal. I will hope and laugh again. Joy will be restored.

Big enough to believe that He is BIG ENOUGH for all my sorrow, even if my heart forgets it sometimes. He is BIG ENOUGH to handle it all.

And that's the most important big enough of all.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Tiny Blessing

I hesitate.

I hesitate to put fingers to keys, feelings to words, to give heartache a voice. Should pain be kept private? I remember reading once that a loaf of bread will feed only one, but broken, it will feed many. I do believe that allowing our brokenness to be shared can bring healing to other broken hearts, knits us together who have gone through similar trials, gives us courage to continue on the hard road.

I had a tiny blessing. We were expecting our fifth child! I was cautiously excited as this was our first pregnancy since our precious Olivia died. Time passed. Days. Weeks. We told our families. We told our children.

And then lightening struck. Miscarriage.

I had felt immune, I think, as if I had already endured enough horror and trauma with Olivia's diagnosis and death. Like I had used up all my allotted Bad Stuff and had only Good to look forward to. But the Lord gives and the Lord takes away.

Sometimes much quicker than we prefer.

I am awestruck at the faith of my daughter and my future sister-in-law. Praying for miracles! Maybe all hope had not been lost! Not just faith to move a mountain, faith to move an entire mountain range. I am blessed by their belief and pray for Him to increase my faith, as it seems so little in comparison. I realized that when I heard the doctor's words on Sunday, verifying that there is no longer life within, that even I too had been holding onto hope. Maybe my faith is a little bigger than I thought.

There is comfort in knowing that Olivia has been joined by a sibling. Big sister and little living together amidst His glory. A strange sort of comfort which leaves in its ache. That I am mother of five, but parent to three. That I have children (plural)....children whom I will not know on earth. That I have a large family, although it might not appear so to the naked eye. 

And I grope to find Him. I try to convince myself of His continual goodness, even if my earthly eyes struggle to see it. I desperately search for His kind hand at every turn. I can not even begin to understand the "why" and the "what for". Maybe you are there too, friend. Crawling through the valley. Trying to make sense of the seemingly senseless. Hesitating to give feelings their voice.

Know that I am there with you. Hurting. Healing. Hoping?

Praying that we can find Him together,