B & D

B & D

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We have this little friend who I will call “B.”  He comes and hangs out with us two days a week or so.  He has since he was eight months old.  Now he will tell you he is a BIG boy at his four years of age.

And this little guy is awesome!  His favorite thing to do as of late is to help me with everything.

A few days ago “everything” include dusting with sock puppets and wrapping birthday presents and making sure the gift had lots of tissue “hair.”  (Isn’t that what everyone calls the extra tissue paper we feel obligated to put atop each gift bag?  If it has a name and you know it, let me know in the comments below.)

So in our cleaning with sock puppets (mine ate more dust than his), he came across a round box.  And being the fabulous little gent that he is, he asked if he could open the box before he removed the lid.

I gave him permission and watched him open Daniel’s box. It was given to us at the hospital when Daniel died.  In it I have put things that remind me of him over the years.

Blue knitted caps that were given to us.

Blue and white stones used in a flower arrangement at his funeral.

An ultrasound picture.

B was thoroughly confused when I told him that the ultrasound was a picture of my baby Daniel in my belly.

Lets be completely honest:  ultrasound pictures are not the clearest.  I remember thinking one of my children looked like a primitive dinosaur at one ultrasound…

Anyway, I could tell that B was a little confused and he always desires to understand everything in the world around him.

So I offered to show him Daniel’s baby book.  B absorbed every picture into his brain as I explained that Daniels’s body could not survive here on earth and he had to go to heaven to be healed.  And I reminded him that we would see Daniel in heaven one day!

But B kept looking at the ultrasound pictures asking if this was an eye and that a foot.

Then he looked at me with all the honesty of a little fellow trying to figure out this great big world around him and said, “When I was a baby, I was in….” and he looked like he could not find the words to articulate what he wanted to say.  He looked at me a few minutes longer and I realized he could not remember her name.  I said his birth mother’s name out loud.

He said, “Yes, I grew in her tummy.”

And I realized that there are two little boys in my life who live apart from their birth moms.

Daniel lives in heaven with Jesus.  And B lives with his aunt who is all he has ever known as a mother.

And in both cases it is good.  God’s plans don’t always make sense to us here on earth but we can trust that He is always at work and we are never alone on our journey.

I praise the Lord for providing shelter and protection to my little buddies B & D!

The Lord is the strength of his people;
    he is the saving refuge of his anointed.
 Oh, save your people and bless your heritage!
    Be their shepherd and carry them forever.” Psalm 28:8-9

 

Our Day

Our Day

Today I found a new mission in life.  I had never even thought this would be on my radar, but alas, today I needed drugs and I had to travel far and wide to find them.

Yesterday, I woke up with my left eye a little irritated.  I got ready like normal and even put in my contact lenses, but soon discovered that my eye needed a break.  So I took them out and opted for my new glasses.  I thought I would just rest my eye for a day or two and all would be well.

This morning I looked at my eye and realized it was really red.   While it did not have a thick mucus like I had had at a younger age when I had the dreaded pink eye, it was not normal.  I read online and found that if you have a bacterial infection in your eye, it could clear itself up, but it could also cause permanent eye damage.

No, thank you!

I also read online some home remedies for pink eye or a bacterial infection.  Let me just amuse you with these.  If anyone has tried any of these, please let me know how it felt to do this home remedy and if it helped.  But I’ll be honest, as soon as I read these, my eye was hurting more than it had before.  Just read what the internet will tell you to try at home!:

HOME REMEDY #1:  Mix apple cider vinegar with distilled water and squeeze a soaked cotton ball on your eye.  

No way, Jose!  Not me.  I believe in all things with Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar…but only on my skin or in my tummy.  Lo siento, amigo.  

HOME REMEDY #2:  Mix baking soda with distilled water and apply to the eyelids.  

No, sir!  I will not be trying that at home!  

HOME REMEDY # 3:  Mix milk and honey and create an eye rinse.  

Really?!!??  Do I need raw milk or organic milk?  Should it be pasteurized?  Homogenized?  Will my eye stick together?  Do I follow-up this treatment with a warm water rinse?  

HOME REMEDY #4:  Brew a cup of chamomile tea and remove the tea bag.  Let cool and then apply to the eye.

I would be more willing to try this.  It seems almost like a normal idea 🙂  

HOME REMEDY #5:  Dilute fresh lemon juice with cold water and use as a rinse.  

If lemon juice on a cut hurts as much as it does, what would that feel like in my irritated eye?  Who wrote this list of home remedies?  Did they try them out?  

As you can tell, my internet research was not helpful.  If anything, I realized that if my eye had any bacteria in it, I could have some potential long-lasting effects so I called my eye doctor this morning and was so thankful that they had an appointment this morning!  I was praising the Lord all the way there!  (Sorry/not sorry for the comic…it made me laugh!)

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After he did all of his looking at my eye, the doctor determined that I had a bacterial infection and he would treat it with prescription eye drops.  His assistant verified our pharmacy and we headed there.

Upon arrival, I noticed a missed call from our pharmacy so I listened to the message only to find out that they did not have the drops in stock but could get them in a day or so.

Hmmm.

Then I pulled up to the drive-thru window to discuss my options with the pharmaceutical assistant.   She looked on the computer and said that they had at the drops at their other branch about thirty minutes away.

Here is where I will just confess my laziness:  there were four other (Maybe more) pharmacies within walking distance of our regular pharmacy, but because my insurance is on file with them and I don’t mind a little drive (and actually had another errand near the far away pharmacy), I just opted to go to the other same-brand pharmacy.  The assistant said she would transfer my prescription and call to make sure they had it ready for me.

How delightful, I thought!

When I arrived at the other pharmacy, the staff there looked at me like I had a third eyeball and quickly let me know that they did not have the eye drops in stock.  What?!?  How had that happened!?!  But this pharmacy offered to call all the other pharmacies in the county and see if anyone had them.

They did not.

So we tried one more pharmacy back in Boone and alas, they had them.  The only problem was that I had four children in tow who I had taken to Boone and then up to Ashe county and I was not about to make them ride back to Boone to get these drops.  I would just have to wait until Dustin was heading home for him to pick them up.

And he did.  Not only that, when he got home with them, he opened them and has been administering my eye drops so that I don’t have to try to navigate the eye drops in the eye without touching the eye scenario.  He knows me well.

But as I was thinking about all of this, I realized something.  I think we all are searching for something.  Running from place to place to find what we think we need.  Today I needed medication for my eye and I went all around the High Country to make sure I had what I needed.

But how often do we go out of our way and all around the town to get what we think we need.  Acceptance by a certain group.  Approval by that one person.  Love (in whatever love language you speak).

I am thankful that I got these eye drops today – my eye is feeling better already after two treatments!  But I hope that instead of running after personal gain all my days, I run after Jesus and seek Him because I need Him.  Every Hour.  Every Day.

Nothing else can fill the void left when we do not pursue Him.  I want to run after Him every day of my life and encourage you to seek Him and find Him!

But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.”  Deuteronomy 4:29

(And if you see me in the next two weeks, just remind me how nice my glasses look since that is all I can wear until my follow-up appointment!  Thanks!)

Our VBS week

Our VBS week

IMG_2756Last week we had planned to participate in a local VBS.  Ruthie and I were to be crew leader and helper since she is officially too old for attending VBS (cue the tears).

Earlier in June, Ruthie and I attended two training meetings, got our matching crew leader t-shirts, and began praying for the crew that would be assigned to us.

Monday morning we met the seven sweetest children who were in our crew!  Ruthie manned the clipboard taking attendance and giving out name tags as I met each child.

We learned the new VBS songs complete with movements and we had the greatest Monday!  Ruthie and I went home praying for our crew and looking forward to the next few days.

Then Monday afternoon, Ruthie laid down on the couch and almost fell asleep. When she woke up, I knew something was not right.  Feeling her forehead, I began to realize that our week’s plans might be changing.

By Friday afternoon, she was feeling back to normal, but VBS ended on Thursday evening.  Ruthie missed the last three days of it!

Thankfully, the VBS directors had volunteers ready to be substitute crew leaders in case a crew leader had to miss unexpectedly.  VBS went on without us, much to our dismay.

But on the second day of being home, Ruthie looked at me and asked me, “Why would God allow me to miss this?  Why would He allow me to get sick when all I wanted to do is help these little children understand how much Jesus loves them?”

That is a hard question to answer.

Why would God want us to miss an opportunity to share God’s love?

I held Ruthie close as the tears streamed down her face.

I explained to her that sometimes God allows things that we don’t think are best, but we have to trust that He is at work even when we do not understand what is happening.

There are several situations in my life like that right now.  Maybe you can relate – you cannot understand what God is doing or why a situation is as it is.  But we can take our frustrations and our desire for wisdom and understanding to Him and ask Him to fill our cups.  And He will.

Maybe not as quickly as we would like.  But He is always there working and our job is to acknowledge Him and to trust Him…that is what faith is, right?

This week I have asked for wisdom and understanding in the midst of situations I cannot explain.  I may not understand (or like what is going on), but I know God is with me and He will make my path straight.

For that I am eternally grateful!

“Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and he will make your paths straight.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

 

 

Remembering By Doing

Remembering By Doing

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Each year when the birthday of a baby in heaven occurs, many parents do special things to remember their loved one.  I have a friend who donates books to our local library that are age appropriate for the age her daughter would have been.  One friend has a walk to remember her daughter on that day.  Many friends aren’t sure how to remember their child and instead, remember with sadness that day when their baby was born.

I’ll be honest – it has been one of the hardest things for me to do.  For many years, I did not look forward to the month of January and its remembrances for me.

Some years we have had a special family dinner with our extended families, but I have always struggled with this:  do we have a birthday cake?  If so, who blows out the candle?  When the girls were younger they wanted to celebrate Daniel’s birthday just like they would celebrate their own, but the cake was a bit too much for me.

One year we had a time of sharing what we were thankful for.  Then we sang hymns together…out of hymn books.  How cool does that make us that we have more than one hymnal in our home?  Ha!  If we could do that every year, it would make my heart so happy!  It is so true that a thankful/grateful heart gives joy and life to our spirits.

“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”  Proverbs 17:22

Some years, I have gotten a letter in the mail that a family member had donated money in Daniel’s memory – and that just blessed me so much!  They didn’t forget his birthday!!!

The thing I have learned over the years is that I will never forget my son’s birthday, but how will I remember him on that day?  For me, I like to do something on his birthday because I am grateful to God for his life, no matter how short it was.

So I am going to share another opportunity that you can keep in the back (or front) of you mind:  you could donate an “I Have a Brother – My Brother is in Heaven” book (or books) in memory of your baby in heaven for your child’s birthday/Christmas, or give these books in memory of a friend’s baby who is in heaven.  They can be donated to a local NICU, funeral home, Christian Radio Station (ours will send books to folks who call in with prayer requests),  or OB/GYN offices.

Here is why I want to share this opportunity:

Because the purpose of “I Have a Brother” is to encourage grieving families with the hope that can only come from Jesus Christ, my book is considered controversial and politically incorrect.  While every hospital, funeral home, etc., that I have talked with has said they would love to carry this book and that its message is encouraging, none of these venues can purchase the book because of its controversial/religious message.

However, all of these locations have also said they would love to have copies of this book on hand to give to clients/patients who indicate that they are Christians.

Here’s the catch:  the only way to have these books on hand is to have them donated.

When a family loses a baby or infant, I have seen that they either turn towards the Lord or away from Him regardless of what their relationship with Him before their loss.  If we can help turn families toward the Lord and to see the hope of heaven, I pray that they will avoid much more heartache by distancing themselves from their Heavenly Father.

If you would like to donate books, check out the “Donate A Book” page and fill out the form at the bottom of the page.   Then we can communicate by e-mail to make all the arrangements to get some of these books to a place where they can be shared with other families experience a baby loss.

And if you know a family who has experienced a loss, let them know that you remember their child’s birthday.  It will mean more than you could ever know.

Even if you don’t choose to donate a book, I do hope that you will choose to remember those babies in heaven somehow on their birthday.  Put a flower on his/her grave.  Have a special dinner.  Give money to a local organization in their memory.    But never forget what the Lord has done in your life and how He has been faithful to you in the midst of your loss.

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;
my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.”  Psalm 28:7

 

 

 

Table for Five, please

Table for Five, please

IMG_1718I have had a revelation.  And I will be honest and say that I cannot believe myself.

Before I share my revelation, I must first tell you that early in our marriage I realized something, our house cannot have lots of big furniture.  We must have smaller functional pieces.

And in my newlywed naivety, I purchased furniture without any measuring or thinking of how it would fit in our home.

And in my defense, it did not look so big in the store.

So when we found a table on Craigslist a few years ago, I was excited because we could fit five chairs around it without using the leaf to make it longer.  So we have had a nice little round table with five chairs around it for as long as we can remember.  When we have guests, I can get at least three more chairs (uncomfortably) around the little table.  But in the back of my mind, I know there is the leaf downstairs if I need to make the table longer and more rectangular.

So last fall, I knew we were having a Worship Team meeting at our house and decided to make the round table a rectangle.  No big deal.

And the rectangle worked beautifully for our meeting and the next morning the girls and I enjoyed the extra room as we worked on one of our favorite Christmas projects, homemade Christmas calendars.

I thought how nice it was to have this extra room on the table and wondered why I have not kept the table this size more often.

Then it came time for dinner.  And as I set the table, I realized why I don’t like to have it so large all the time:  Because of the empty sixth chair, the rectangular table shape reminds me of our loss.

And I laughed at myself for even thinking such a silly thought.  But here I will confess that I don’t like having an empty chair.

It is silly and yet completely normal for me to have thoughts about what might have been.  To think about what could have been.  But I have to keep myself in check…

“What is true?  Think about these things.”

It is true that I have three lovely little ladies and a wonderful husband and we all love the Lord and seek to serve Him daily.

That is what is true.

“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.”  Ephesians 4:8

 

Howdy, Hello and How Do You Do?

Howdy, Hello and How Do You Do?

My goodness…has it really been almost five months since I last posted?  I cannot believe that I let this much time pass without a post at all.  Life has been full, but honestly, I have struggled with determining the direction of this blog.  I am still working through all of that, but for now, let’s just reconnect.

Since my last blog post, we celebrated the tenth anniversary of the day our son was born and the day he died.  TEN YEARS!

I remember wondering when we had just lost him if I would still hurt ten years later.  Would it still matter that our son had not joined our family here on earth?  Would I still cry about his short life?

The answer to these questions has been yes.  And no.  Let me explain.

Yes, it still hurts that our son is not part of our earthly family.  Yes, I still cry at times when I think about his short life.  Yes, I do still wonder what it would be like to have a little fellow amongst our little ladies.

And at the same time, these thoughts are no longer my focal point as they seemed to be for so many years.

In Granger Westberg’s book, “Good Grief”, he says that one of the last stages of grief is being able to accept your loss and to move forward.  While there have been times when I know I took two steps forward and fifty steps backwards, I feel like I am moving forward these days.  I have accepted the fact that we have a son in heaven and I am able to live my life.

I am thankful for the last ten years as I have grown so much through our son’s short life (and many other life events).  And while I look forward to seeing him in heaven, I know that I have a life to live here on the earth.  I want to live the life God has given me with all its ups and downs and to be a light for Him while I have breath.

If you have not read Westberg’s book, “Good Grief,”  I highly recommend it for so many reasons.  I re-read it a few weeks ago (you can read it in less than two hours) and it will be so helpful to you at whatever stage in life you are.  Because as Granger says, “Grief is a natural part of human experience.  We face minor grief almost daily in some situation or another.”

Grief is not just about death.  Grief is a part of daily life.  I will write more about my grief journey and how this book helped me soon…but for now, know that I muddled around in my grief journey for a long time not knowing where I was or if this was normal.  I am thankful for Westberg’s brief book that has helped me to understand where I was and that it was normal.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 1 Corinthians 1:3-4

 

 

Feel the Rain

Feel the Rain

I am so thankful that the Lord has not given up on me over the years.  He keeps refining me and taking me through situations I would never have asked for or wanted to experience…oh, but the Lord has plans for good!

One day in the middle of a lengthy wet spell, we were all getting a little stir crazy, some more than others in our home.  So when the rain let up a bit and someone asked to go outside, I said, “Yes!”

I figured a little wetness would not hurt…it could be a prelude to a real shower upon re-entrance to our dry abode!

When I looked outside, this is what I saw:

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I watched.   Stunned.  What was this child of mine doing?  Dressed in a pink and blue beret, a cute skirt, the smelliest sparkly Toms any child has ever worn and a beautiful wool coat with faux fur collar, just three sizes too small.

I just watched…wondering if I should make her come inside, but she was enjoying her time outdoors so much.  And honestly, I could tell she needed this freedom from our own four walls.

I snuck outside to get a picture of her in the rain, walking around with her hands held out, just happy as a clam.  So I joined her in the great (wet) outdoors, took her picture (unbeknownst to her) and asked her, “Lee, what are you doing?”

“I am feeling the rain.”

And such is life with her – she feels the rain in every situation.  When life is sad, her eyes fill with tears. When life is funny, she rolls with laughter.  When she sees an injustice, she burns with anger.  When she sees a need, she does her best to meet it.  When someone is sad, she gives them warm hugs.  She is not afraid to feel every emotion and to love every person she meets.

Before the Lord gave me Lee, I would steer clear of all these emotions and feelings…

God gave me Lee because He knew I needed her.  I needed to learn to feel the rain.  To live my life to the fullest and to enjoy every minute of it…whether rain or shine.

And I have learned to thank the Lord for both.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts, See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”  Psalm 139:23-24