Thank You!!!

Thank You!!!

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I just want to take a minute and thank everyone who has supported me on this book project this year!

To those of you who have purchased a copy, THANK YOU!

To those of you who listened to God and sent money so that the words and pictures could become a book, THANK YOU!

To those of you who read and offered feedback, THANK YOU!

To those store owners who are carrying the book, THANK YOU!

To those of you who have donated books to local radio stations, hospitals and funeral homes, THANK YOU!

This time last year, I was not sure how this would all pan out…or if it would ever come to fruition.  Honestly, I could only see one step at a time.  The big picture overwhelmed me!

I am excited to see what God will do with this book in 2017.  And what other plans He has for our lives.

I wrote this book because God laid it on my heart.  I hope it will bless others who have an infant loss.  God directed each step of the way and confirmed those steps in amazing ways.  I don’t know what His plans are for this book or for me in 2017, but I am thankful to know Him.  And I trust Him.  More than ever!

” And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:17

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I Love This Week…

I Love This Week…

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This has to be one of my favorite weeks of the year…the week between Christmas and New Years.

It is almost as if we have celebrated God’s greatest gift to us…Jesus.  Not just the baby Jesus, but Jesus in His entirety and the life we can have because of Him and then a week later, we get a new year.  This week is a time to reflect on God’s gift to us and on how we are going to live for Him.

I love setting a new schedule, re-vamping our homeschool curriculum and planning for our next year.  I usually try to have a word for the year.  In the past, I have had words like, “Intentional” and “Better is Peace…” I have a word in mind for this coming year…but I have not solidified the word as mine yet.  I will share it once I know it for myself:)

Today, I made my 2017 master calendar.  I got the idea from a homeschool writer years ago and I just love filling in all the dates each year.  It helps me to know my year…like which days of the week everyone’s birthdays will fall on and I start to think about what we could do during thsi or that month.

I do love to plan.  But I have also learned (and am learning) to be flexible in those plans.

I hope that you have had a Merry Christmas and that you are looking forward to the New Year.  I hope that you are marveling in the Creator who made you and sent Jesus so that you could always have a relationship with Him…

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  Jeremiah 29:11

Christmas, Cookies and Carols

Christmas, Cookies and Carols

(Sorry for the sideways picture…WordPress and I just could not work together on this one…)

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Like I said earlier this holiday season, my favorite part of Christmas is the Christmas plays – not the baking.

And in full disclosure, I have to tell you that I thought I had found a fool-proof sugar cookie recipe this year.  I decided to make it this year for our neighbors when we went caroling.  The only problem was that when I went to gather the ingredients, I realized that I was out of vegetable oil…

But I was not out of olive oil and in my book an oil is an oil is an oil.

So I made these fool-proof sugar cookies with two sticks of butter and one cup of vegetable oil, except I used olive oil.

Those of you who can bake are already laughing, but I really thought my oil substitution would make no difference.

Of course, when they came out of the oven, I sampled a cookie or ten and they had a little different taste than I had remembered, but I figured it was all good.  They looked the same.

However, when my husband came home and tried one, he gave me a cordial response…these are, um, edible.

But when I started to package them up to take with us caroling, he interrupted my efforts with a hearty “Don’t give those to the neighbors!”

They were that bad.

I threw over 50 cookies in the trash.

Not to be deterred.  I tried again a few days later with the correct ingredients and I am happy to report that the recipe is indeed fool-proof, if the fool doesn’t try to substitute ingredients.  (ha!)

In other Christmasy news, the kids did a great job this holiday season!  They shared at Hebron Colony on Christmas Eve and then did a little play for our families later that evening.  Their dramatic abilities just get better and better each year.  I am so thankful to get to do Christmas dramas with them.

And I am thankful when my baking is edible.  As are all the folks in my family!

Merry (Two Days After) Christmas!

I Done Went There

I Done Went There

I have thought and thought how to tell you this…and this title kept coming to mind.

I know it is grammatically incorrect.

I know the title is painful to read…but it just makes me laugh and smile and see the brighter side of things…now that I am on this side of things.  Let me explain where I went recently.

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(Ha!  It wasn’t anywhere like this.)

Almost two weeks ago my middle daughter began complaining of neck pain.  I felt of her neck after more complaints than normal and felt that her lymph nodes were swollen behind one ear.  Dustin wasn’t available that night, so I googled swollen lymph nodes and was relieved to understand that this was a good sign…a sign of the body fighting off some sickness.

So I put on my game face and started giving more fluids than normal and other natural remedies for sicknesses.

Her neck pain got worse so I took her to see my ex-roommate, now Physician’s Assistant, friend. (God bless her especially after all the text message exchanges we had last week!)   She administered a strep test (which was negative) and said the lymph nodes were doing their job and we just needed to give it time.

Oh, time…I love you so much.

By Thursday night, these nodes were still super swollen (and painful) and a low grade fever began.  I am typically not “that parent” who runs to the pediatricians office, but this was day four of my daughter being in constant pain and now she had a fever, I honestly thought maybe we had a negative on the strep test and we could get an antibiotic and all would be well in the world.

Hallelujah and Amen.

And Dustin even offered to take her to the Pediatrician’s office…so bless his heart, he went and sat among all the sick people and all their germs and their germs’ germs.

And he held our little gal’s hand while she had another strep test and a blood test for mono.  He gives the girls strength in situations that involve needles.  I just tend to be extremely quiet and sweaty which does not yield any assistance from Mommy when needles are around.  I just can’t.

I am sweating now just thinking of the needles.

Anyway, all tests were negative and again we were told there are SO MANY viruses that look like mono and act like it…give it a few more days.

So long story short…we ended up having 72+ hours of me administering ibuprofen or tylenol every three hours around the clock to keep her temperature between 101 and 102 (with medicine).  She could not eat ANYTHING for almost that entire time because of her swollen throat (you almost could not see her hangy down thing in the back of her throat…the uvula?).

And one steroid shot on Wednesday afternoon, made the world a better place.  By Thursday morning, we had no fever and our appetite began to come back.
And today when she requested Bojangles for lunch, I did not think twice about its fat or grease content.  If she wanted to eat it, I would oblige.

But here’s where I went.  Until we had this steroid shot, I would look at her suffering, unable to turn her neck, crying from the pain in her throat, trying to sleep but burning with fever and think, “Oh God, please don’t take another child from me!  I cannot lose another child.  I just can’t.”

That’s where I went.

I remembered those feelings of handing my deceased child to the doctors.  Of never seeing a chest rise and fall again.   Of coming home empty-handed and staring out the window in stunned thoughtlessness.

And I let fear take me over.

And I was scared.  Scared for her life and scared for mine without her.

I realize that I was tired and I had never experienced such sickness for myself or any of our children before this.  And I know that some people pull out the “OVERREACTING” card on me.

But to me, it is real.  Loss is a real thing.  And I can relive it very easily even ten years later.

It happens when I hear of someone else losing a baby or a child.  I am so overwhelmed with sadness and brokenhearted that I can hardly function.

And evidently it happens when I am faced with extreme sickness in my own family.  Sigh.

Just for the record, I have learned that when I recognize myself “going there”with my thoughts, I try to take them captive.  Using Philippians 4:8, I can ask myself, “What is true?”  (In this case, my daughter was sick, doctors were not concerned and she would more than likely make a full recovery – even google told me so!)  “What is right?”  And so forth and so on.  ( This is wonderful advice I got from Elizabeth George’s book, Loving God with All Your Mind.)  

Then I try to find verses to cling to in the current situation.

I hope by sharing this, you too, will realize when your mind starts taking you “there.”  Be careful of “What if” thinking and to focus on what is true…and trust the One who is carrying you each step of the way.  And praise Him even in life’s storms.

” Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8

“Oh, save your people and bless your heritage!
    Be their shepherd and carry them forever.” Psalm 28:9

 

You Can Donate Books!!!

You Can Donate Books!!!

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Many of you have contacted me and said that while you don’t need a copy of this book, you would love to help get these books into the hands of grieving families who have experienced an infant or baby loss.

And I am excited to say that we can do that!

The way to donate books is:  You can purchase a book through me (use my PayPal link and in the comments box, let me know where you would like the books to be sent and how you would like the dedication to be made on the inside bookplate).

Here is the book plate I put in the front of the books that went to WMIT, 106.9 The Light Radio Station:

img_1849Books have also been donated to the Wilkes Regional Medical Center.  Here are the book plates I used for them:

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These bookplates are a simple way to let the receiver of this book know that this book does not hold the opinions of the hospital staff and that they are not trying to force any religion on anyone.  The books is simply a gift to a grieving family.

This is a great opportunity for many reasons.  Since my books are “potentially offensive,” it is a great opportunity for us to put a Christian resource in the hands of grieving parents at an important crossroads in their lives.  I would never force my Christian beliefs on anyone, but I do pray that through my life and my words others will be drawn to the Lord and will understand how much He loves them.

So after much prayer and encouragement from different people (thank you guys for spurring me on…I can get a little too content in my bubble), I have gotten permission to donate these books to the following locations:

WMIT, 106.9 The Light (A local Christian radio station that houses certain books to be mailed to listeners who call in with prayer requests.  I Have a Brother books can be available to listeners who have had an infant/baby loss and are calling in with a prayer request after such.)

Brenner’s Children’s Hospital, Winston-Salem, NC – This is the hospital where Daniel was for two days and where he died.  I cannot say enough good things about this hospital and I am so thankful that we can minister there.  (Hopefully these books will be mailed later this week!)

Wilkes Regional Medical Center – This is a local hospital where I have a contact in the birthing center.  They have received a few books already.

If you would like to donate your books to another location, please let me know where (if you have a contact there, that would be fabulous), and I will be more than happy to work that out!  Just send me a message.  (I have a contact at Levine Children’s Hospital and hope to work that out soon.)

Thank you to everyone who has already donated books – I am so grateful for your support and pray that God will use this book to draw grieving families closer to Himself.

“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith…Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess for he who promised is faithful.”  Hebrews 10:22a,23

Pictured Above:  (L to R)  Troy Norton and Tricia Kelly of the Morning Show, Carol Davis, afternoon host, Director of Programming and Promotions and Jon Wood, afternoon host/Music Director showing the books they received to be given to a grieving family.

Thank you to Carol Davis for getting this picture for me!

“Potentially Offensive”

“Potentially Offensive”

I need to let you in on a little secret I was told back in the summer:  My books are potentially offensive.

I have never been told I was offensive before, but now I understand why.

And I am okay with being offensive.

We live in a world where the Christian message of hope is being stifled.  We are told to be politically correct and be careful not to offend ANYONE!

Here’s the thing:  I would never shove my Christian beliefs down someone’s throat.  Honestly, it is a push for me to be completely open and candid on this blog.  But I hope that my sharing will help someone else and if I can help someone else through my journey and point them to Jesus, then I will share.

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So when I shared my book with one hospital, I was written a sweet note saying that my book was nice, but it was my personal story and it could be potentially offensive to other people and therefore, they would not be able to purchase any copies of it.

And that is just fine.

However, I also know that when I had my last two babies (and probably my first two, if I could remember that far back….but MOMMY BRAIN), they asked me if I had any religious affiliation that I would like for them to know about.  I even had to tell what Christian denomination I identified with.  (So in my mind, I thought, “Couldn’t you look at their chart and see if they “identify with” Christian beliefs and only give the books to those people?)

So the Lord has helped me to see (through many different people), that there is another way that we can share the message of hope with parents who experience an infant/baby loss.  I am going to share more about that tomorrow.

For today, let’s just all commit to be bold for the Lord.  Our enemy the devil is prowling around searching for someone to destroy…let it not be us.  Let us be firm in our hope, Jesus Christ.

“Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”  1 Peter 5:8-9

How Are Book Sales?

How Are Book Sales?

img_1827I have been asked the question, “How are book sales?” many times recently by inquiring acquaintances trying to start a conversation.  This question always makes me giggle because I never wrote this book so that I could have book sales.  Let me explain myself:

When I sat down to write I Have a Brother – My Brother is in Heaven, my only goal was to have it available to families who experience an infant or baby loss.  To be a “hug” to them.  That they might not feel all alone on their journey as I felt all alone.

I wrote this on the last page of the book:

“My prayer is that this book has felt like a “hug” from me to you.  That is an odd statement coming from, the non-huggy type.  Let me explain my sentiment…

When Daniel died, I felt all alone.  Even in a room full of people, I felt alone.  

Other grieving moms have affirmed feeling alone after their losses.  We try to process what happened to us yet try to function normally.  

Grief is hard work.  It can take everything in you.  There were times when I could not sleep and other times when I did not want to wake.  I cried more tears than I thought my tear ducts could produce.  My body ached.  My emotions ran deep.  The hurt I felt was so great.  

And it is okay to let the hurt hurt. ” 

I wrote more, but you get the gist of it.

My hope and prayer has always been that my words whether on this blog or in the book, would encourage other families.  Yes, grief is hard (life is hard), but God is good.  God has never left you and we must trust Him in the midst of the unknowing, the undesirable, and the hard.

So how are the books selling?  Well, I am selling a few on Amazon and a few locally.  The thing about these books is that they are not something that anyone wants to read.  No one wants to talk about death, especially not the death of a child.

But for those of us who have experienced such, we NEED to talk about it.  We need to be free to discuss our loss with its crazy emotions and its great difficulties.

So the book sales are going fine.  I have sold roughly 200 books.  I don’t have a lot of time to promote my book, but this last week, God gave me a few extra hours in which I was able to make some contacts and I think we will have access to donate books in the near future.  But more on that later this week!

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart, and wait for the Lord.”  Psalm 27:14