Thursday, December 24, 2009

Hold On

Christmas is supposed to be a happy time, but it's not always.  I have friends who are celebrating without their loved ones for the first time.  I have friends who may be celebrating their last Christmas with their child.  I have a friend whose father passed away last night so she will be flying in Christmas Day to help her mom plan a funeral.  I am praying for a pastor who was arrested last week and is still being detained while his family waits at home.  I have friends who are separated from their husbands.  Maybe Christmas is hard for you too.  Maybe you need to be reminded of the hope that we have because of Christmas.

"I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.
My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning." (Psalm 130:5-6)

I read words in Revelation this week that filled me with hope and encouraged me to keep pressing on...
"Only hold on to what you have until I come." (Rev 2:25)
"See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.  I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name...(Rev. 3:8)
"I am coming soon.  Hold on to what you have..." (v.11)

As I join the throngs in their Christmas buying frenzy, I aknowledge that I cannot hold on to anything I own.  I cannot even hold on to the people I love.  The ONLY thing I can hold on to is the truth that I believe.  I put my hope in His word and I press on to the open door before me THAT NO ONE CAN SHUT!
Hold on.
He is coming soon.
Come quickly Lord Jesus.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

We made it!

It took us 26 hours on the road, but we made it to Kansas.  We passed MANY abandoned snow covered cars along the way.  It made us glad we waited until Sunday to leave.  Today we finally celebrated our anniversary with a lunch date and a movie.  (We saw "Blind Side" and thought it was great.)  Afterwards, we had our traditional Christmas Eve-Eve candlelight Chinese dinner with the whole family.  Now we are wrapping presents and getting ready for another snowstorm tomorrow.  Hopefully we will still be able to make our way to OKC in a few days to see Richard's folks (and all of our OKC friends!)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Snowed In

We were supposed to leave for Wichita this morning, but instead we are COVERED in snow--at least 12 inches so far.  The kids are really enjoying the winter whiteness.  We borrowed a shovel from our neighbor, but I don't think it will be enough to get us out from under all this.   I am thankful for electricity, a warm fire, and that we are not stuck on the side of the road somewhere.  I am sorry that I loaned our sleds to the people who are keeping the hamster and I am sorry that I let my pantry get depleted because we were supposed to be traveling.  Nevertheless, my goal is to enjoy today and not worry about tomorrow.  Richard says we'll get there when we get there!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Ambushed by grief

Today is our anniversary.  Today I got a root canal.  Today we are snowed in and can't leave for Kansas tomorrow as planned.  Today I was busy.  Today I wasn't planning to grieve.
Then why did the pain of the shots in my mouth cause my heart to ache and the tears to flow?  I think sometimes physical pain gives us license to release emotions we keep inside.  Yes, the shots hurt, but that's not why I was crying.  I was crying because whenever I hurt, I remember Anna's pain and it breaks my heart...again.  The doctor offered me a kleenex and kept asking if I was okay.  I couldn't speak, so I just nodded my head.  By the time it was over, I had stopped crying (who can cry for two hours?!)  It was just a reminder that grief is still my companion when I stop to remember how things used to be.

There is a story in Ezra that illustrates this dichotomy of joy and grief.  It takes place after the Israelites returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple that had been destroyed.
"But many of the older priests...who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this (new) temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy.  No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping"  (Ezra 3.12-13)
We are rebuilding our lives, but there are times we weep as we remember our former life.  Having my blood pressure taken, giving blood, sitting behind a woman at church who is holding her daughter, are all things that trigger memories and cause me pain.  But "Though the fig tree does not blossom and there be no grapes upon the vine.  Though the olive tree shall cast its fruit and the fields shall yield no grain, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice IN THE LORD, I will be joyful IN GOD my Savior."  (Hab. 3.17-18)

Response to comments

Marianne is right.  This is a very typical house for this area.  In fact it's hard to find anything except two-story colonials around here.  Lucky for us, we like two-story colonials!  It's not the promised land as Tasha suggested, but we will enjoy it while we journey towards our eternal home:-)
Darla, you and Bill are welcome anytime--except Christmas.  Hopefully we will be on our way to Kansas tomorrow if we don't get snowed in.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Happy Anniversary and Merry Christmas!

We have the keys!  The kids and I went over there after school and ended up playing hide-and-seek.  (What else can you do in an empty house?)  We now have a new rule:  No hiding in the refrigerator!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Giving Tree

Here are a few photos of The Giving Tree at Chesapeake.  A big thank you to everyone who donated items for the Ronald McDonald Family Room and the art therapy program at the clinic.

Here's what Rita had to say,

"We have had so many donations so far and I can’t wait to see the end result. 
In addition to our Giving Tree, we have wrapped everything in yellow and included a wall with facts and ways to help. Upon entering our building you will see photos of some other children with information on their lives and diseases.
We also included two huge banners of donation item wish lists. It is my hope that everyone coming in the building will take time to read these stories.
I have Anna’s story and pictures on the actual Christmas Tree with all of the art supplies and other items.  
 Thank you from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to honor Anna and your family. I can never seem to find the right words to describe how your story has changed my life and the lives of so many others.
I hope this Giving Tree will give back to you and your family a small portion of what you have given to so many others.  Thank you for sharing your life with us."

LOVELY!  Thank YOU!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

And a partridge in a pear tree...

This week we have two school concerts, an open house, an office luncheon, a car that needs servicing, a trip to the DMV for new tags, Christmas shopping, school projects, a house closing, an anniversary, packing for a two week trip, and a root canal.  We also have the student of the month (Audra), a new best friend (for Jacob), and a child who put his faith in Jesus and made him the boss of his life (Will).  So it has been a hectic week, a painful week, a stressful week, and a life-changing week.  I'll take it.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

An Early Christmas Present

Besides a very expensive temporary crown in my mouth,  I received a priceless gift today in the form of an email.

Hi Marlo,
I hope all is well for you. I have a question for you. For Christmas, Chesapeake has each floor decorate a Christmas tree with the option of entering it into a contest.
I had the idea of doing a tree to raise awareness on childhood cancer. We are going to decorate the tree in yellow ribbon (so that people start to recognize yellow like they do pink) and put photos of children with information on their stories and illnesses as well. We will also hang art supplies on the tree and wrap gifts in yellow ribbon such as books and detergent for the Ronald McDonald house underneath the tree.
I would be honored if I could hang a photo of beautiful Anna Jane on the tree as she and your family are what inspired me to become more involved in the fight against childhood cancer. All items will be donated to OU Children’s Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House  in Anna’s name if that is alright with you.
May God bless you and your family during this Christmas season.

Isn't that great!  Thank you Rita and thank you Chesapeake.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Silent Night.....Fire!

Last night we attended the "Jazz Nativity" at a local church.  It was a lovely evening benefitting the Lottie Moon offering (see previous post) with decorations, coffee,  Italian ice-cream, and candles.   The music was outstanding and the atmosphere was refined...until Audra went to the bathroom.  Apparently she set her napkin too close to the candle because after she was gone I looked up and there were flames.  I didn't really know how to put out open flames with my bare hands.  I wasn't sure if it would work, but I grabbed a program and started slapping the fire.  This got the attention of the people next to us AND put out the fire.  Next, Richard casually scooped up the ashes and put them in the trash can.  There was nothing we could do about the hole in the tablecloth.  After I apologized to the visitors who were sitting at our table, they said "Are you kidding?  This table is HOT!"

All I Want For Christmas

Well, there are a lot of things I want for the new house, but what I'm getting is a new crown--and not the jeweled kind--the kind that goes on your tooth after it breaks while you are eating cookie dough.  When I told Will how much crowns cost, he said, "Man, we could have bought a flat-screened TV!"  I guess I am being selfish because no one else but me cares if I have half a tooth:-)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Let's all help Lottie

Check out this new video promoting Lottie Moon.  I have NEVER heard her referred to as a "missionary hottie of biblical proportions" before.  Whatever you call her, she has always been one of my heroes.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


We did something TOTALLY different this year for Thanksgiving.  (Okay, it wasn't "totally" different.  We still ate turkey.)  We invited ourselves to our friends' house near Washington DC.  (It was Will's idea.)  They moved from Oklahoma the month before we did so they are struggling with the same things we are as "transplants".  We drove up there Thursday morning. The most exciting part of the drive was crossing the Potomac River.  Well, the sign said that's what we were doing, but it was so foggy we couldn't see the water.  When we arrived we enjoyed a feast, then later in the afternoon we took a drive through Annapolis and crossed the Bay Bridge (over 4 miles long).  Of course it gets dark early so while we were on the bridge Will said, "So what are we doing?"  I told him that we were over water, but once again we couldn't see it!

 Audra, Tara, Ben, and Will "feasting"

Josh and Jacob Jammin'
The next day we drove into DC.  Will had asked to see the Lincoln Memorial.  We headed that way, but took a wrong turn and wound up at Arlington National Cemetery.  They had parking so we decided we might as well see it since we were there.  We saw John, Robert, and Ted Kennedy's graves as well as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  It was an impressive place, and very respectful.

Next we found our way to the Lincoln Memorial and Will counted the steps and then told me what kind of columns they used.  While we were there, I thought of my friend Darla whose husband proposed to her at Lincoln's feet.

On our way back to the car we happened upon the Korean War Memorial which was also very impressive.  Right after I took this picture it started pouring down rain and got so windy that it BROKE our umbrella.

We saw the White House from a distance as we made our way down Constitution Avenue towards the Smithsonian.  It took us a LONG time to find a parking garage and then the Museum of Natural History was FULL of people.  I guess we weren't the only ones with the day off.    After an hour at the museum, we were exhausted and made our way back to our car and back to Richmond.  I was very proud that we had actually driven to DC and found all those places.  Next time we plan to park outside the city and take the metro in.  It will probably cost the same as the garage, but will eliminate the stress of driving in the DC traffic.

It was a MUCH better weekend than last year.  Black Friday will always have a different meaning for me than the rest of the world, but this year doing something totally different kept me from reliving Anna's last hours like I had done before.  I have much to be thankful for, but I have to choose to be grateful.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Secret to Survival

I knew Monday would be a hard day.  I was dreading the emotions  I would face going back to the house one last time, visiting the cemetery, and helping with the blood drive.  How did I get through it?
That morning I paraphrased 1 Peter 1:1-13 and wrote it on the palm of my hand.  It was right there all day as a reminder to maintain an eternal perspective.

"We have a living hope in Jesus Christ
and an inheritance in Heaven that can never perish.
  Therefore, set your hope fully on what is to come.
There is great joy ahead
even though now for a little while you have had to suffer grief."

That is how I survived Monday and how I survive every day when I want to crawl back in bed and give up.  I press on.
And so should you.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Two Years

Five years is too little
We let her go
We had no sudden healing
To think that providence
Would take a child from her mother
While she prays, is appalling
Who told us we'd be rescued
What has changed and
Why should we be saved from nightmares
We're asking why this happens to us
Who have died to live, it's unfair

This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was when everything fell
We'd be held

This hand is bitterness
We want to taste it
Let the hatred numb our sorrows
The wise hand opens slowly
To lilies of the valley and tomorrow

This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was when everything fell
We'd be held

If hope is born of suffering
If this is only the beginning
Can we not wait, for one hour
Watching for our savior?

This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was when everything fell
We'd be held

We are held

("Held",  by Natalie Grant--with a couple of changes by me)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Blood Drive Pics

Here are a few pictures of all the fun you can have at a blood drive.  Thank you again to everyone who came.

Nicolle putting up signs.

Kay and Sittie decorating the sign-in table.  (K is giving me "the look" for some reason.)

Teri, Me, K, and Jennifer making Anna ornaments

"Hugs and Kisses from the Salamy Family"

Autographed football, pink roses, butterflies, and books for the hospital

Sittie's beautiful hospitality table

It was Teri's first time to donate and she had to have both arms poked.  Notice Austin in the background--this was before they had to elevate his feet!

This is Nicolle laughing at Austin.  (He was fine!)

Stacy left her 5 boys at home and came to "relax" and give blood.
 Anna's nursery teacher Ms Mary worked the sign in table for the second year in a row.
 Ms MaryAnn and Papa Tom stopped by to say hi.
 Lance "The Man"  gave double red cells and his beautiful wife Shawna  took me to Sonic happy hour.  Thanks Shawna!

Pastor Ben couldn't decide which t-shirt to take, so he took one of each!

Butterfly face painting by Susi

Emily hates needles but did it for Anna.

Spencer, who saw the sign while driving by and stopped in to donate, won the autographed football.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Anna Salamy Memorial Blood Drive

Just a reminder that Anna's blood drive is tomorrow at Northwest Baptist Church in Oklahoma City from 2-7pm.  I am looking forward to seeing everyone there.  If you can't donate, you can bring a book or a snack food item to donate to the Ronald McDonald Family Room at OU Children's Hospital.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A thankful heart

Yesterday Will's journal topic at school was, "Name a place that you are thankful for."  Will told me about his friend Katie who said that she was thankful for China because that is where she was born.  I asked him what he wrote.  (Thinking of course that he was going to say "Oklahoma".)  His answer,  "I said Dominoes."  Dominoes Pizza?  You are thankful for Dominoes Pizza?  "Yep.  It's good."

Today's journal topic was "Things you are not thankful for."  Will's answer to that was "broccoli and bleu cheese."

Today I am thankful for the 12 men outside who are cleaning up the leaves in our yard and parking area.  Leaf removal is a HUGE deal when you live in a forest.  The city actually has machines that clean the leaves off the streets.  The trees are beautiful, but they are a MESS.

Don't forget Anna's Blood Drive on Monday from 2-7pm.  If you can't donate blood, you can donate a book or snack for the Ronald McDonald Family Room or you can donate your time as a volunteer.  Hope to see you there!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Don't faint

Today in the mail we got the final bill for Anna's grave marker which was installed last week. Ugh!  Ordering and installing grave markers is NOT something I should have to do.  But I do.
The next thing I opened was a package from my friend Marianne.  I haven't seen her in 10 years, and we've never exchanged gifts, but for some reason she just happened to make me a cute little clip board with butterflies on it and it just happened to come today.  It has this verse on it,
"...but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." (Isaiah 40:31)
And so I will renew my hope.  I will keep walking.    I will be strong in the Lord.  I will not faint.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Quote from Will (who is no Charles Spurgeon)

Yesterday Will decided to wear his pajamas until dinner.  When he went to bed I told him, "Don't put those clothes in the dirty-clothes."  He asked, "Why?"  I explained that he had only worn them  for a couple of hours.  He said, "But I got them OUT of the dirty-clothes."

Happy Birthday

Happy birthday to my favorite husband.  You have a strength and wisdom you cannot see, but I am thankful I get to live with you and lean on you when times are hard.  I look forward to pressing on together to the future God has in store for us!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Quote from Charles Spurgeon

Believer, if your inheritance be a lowly one you should be satisfied with your earthly portion; for you may rest assured that it is the fittest for you. Unerring wisdom ordained your lot, and selected for you the safest and best condition. A ship of large tonnage is to be brought up the river; now, in one part of the stream there is a sandbank; should some one ask, “Why does the captain steer through the deep part of the channel and deviate so much from a straight line?” His answer would be, “Because I should not get my vessel into harbour at all if I did not keep to the deep channel.” So, it may be, you would run aground and suffer shipwreck, if your divine Captain did not steer you into the depths of affliction where waves of trouble follow each other in quick succession. Some plants die if they have too much sunshine. It may be that you are planted where you get but little, you are put there by the loving Husbandman, because only in that situation will you bring forth fruit unto perfection. Remember this, had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there. You are placed by God in the most suitable circumstances, and if you had the choosing of your lot, you would soon cry, “Lord, choose my inheritance for me, for by my self-will I am pierced through with many sorrows.” Be content with such things as you have, since the Lord has ordered all things for your good. Take up your own daily cross; it is the burden best suited for your shoulder, and will prove most effective to make you perfect in every good word and work to the glory of God. Down busy self, and proud impatience, it is not for you to choose, but for the Lord of Love!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ho Ho Ho

Richard's birthday is Sunday.  A few days ago he made up a bday/Christmas "wish list" and gave it to me to send to our parents.  At dinner I casually mentioned that I added a few things to his list.  Richard  looked at me and Jacob said, "You didn't add socks did you?"  I paused, then said, "Well, he needed some white ones."  They all burst out laughing.  "MOM, socks are not gifts!"  Can I help it if I have received socks and underwear every year for Christmas my whole life and so to me they are perfectly acceptable gifts?  My family knows me too well and for that, they are ALL going to get socks for Christmas!!!!

All Richard REALLY wants for his birthday is for our house in OKC to close so that it doesn't keep us from buying the house here.  Hopefully all the paperwork will get where it needs to be....SOON!

Try, try again

At Audra's old school she loved being the star of the show.  She loved to act and sing on stage and the music teacher gave her plenty of opportunities.  Recently she tried out for a solo in the 5th grade Veteran's Day program.  (She has a beautiful voice and I would say that even if I wasn't her mother.)  She didn't get it.  So the next week, she raised her hand indicating that she would like a speaking part.  She didn't get it.  BUT on Friday she came home and told me that her teacher had chosen what she thought were the four best Veteran's Day essays.  She read them in front of the class without revealing the authors and then the class voted on which one they thought was the best.  They chose Audra's!  So she gets to read her essay at the assembly this afternoon.  I am so proud of her.  I am mostly proud that she doesn't give up and she keeps trying.  You go girl!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Restore unto me

Yes, I am excited about the house.  Yes, I am enjoying the fall colors.  Yes, I have much to be thankful for.  Yet, this time of year is hard.  It was hard in OKC and it's still hard in VA.  Call it "seasonal affective disorder," "post traumatic stress," or whatever else you want, it's still hard.  I have to work to keep the tears from spilling out.  They are so near the surface.  The smallest bump makes them overflow.
So this is my prayer and my song today--for me and for anyone else who struggles with overflowing tears...

Cast me not away from Your presence, O Lord
And take not Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore unto me the joy of My salvation
And renew a right spirit within me.

(Lyrics from "Create in me a clean heart", taken from Ps. 51:11-12)

Friday, November 6, 2009

The time has come

"The time has come, the day has arrived.  Let not the buyer rejoice nor the seller grieve..."  (Ez. 7.12)
I read those words and wrote them in my journal on Tuesday.  That was the day we were expecting a FedEx package with the closing papers for our house in OKC.  Little did I know that at the same time our realtor was sending those papers on Monday, a family in Richmond was  putting their house on the market and preparing to move to Chicago.  I have checked the MLS updates at least twice a day since July so I saw pictures of the house the first day it was posted on Monday.  I loved it!  I emailed my realtor and told him that we wanted to see it, but that the kids were out of school the next day, I had parent/teacher conferences,  and we were having to get our closing papers notarized and sent back to OKC.  On Wednesday I was scheduled to work so I asked him to set something up for Thursday after my class.  On Tuesday, the realtor called and said that the house already had TWO "strong" offers and the agent felt sure that one of them would be accepted that night.  I was frustrated and angry, but finally accepted God's sovereignty in the whole situation.  Then, yesterday afternoon I got a call from my realtor telling me that BOTH offers had fallen through and we could go see the house if we wanted to.  I got the kids and we picked Richard up at work and went to the house at 4pm.  At 5:30 we were still there and another agent came in with her clients.  Yikes!  We went home and  finished writing up/signing the contract at 11pm.  Our realtor delivered it this morning and at 4:30 this afternoon he called and said, "Congratulations!"  Whew!  Everything is contingent upon our OKC house closing this week, so hopefully that will all go as planned.
We are exhausted, but feel great about the house and are thankful to God for his blessing.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Cheer Up

Oh my, I sounded down in that last post didn't I?  That's what I get for writing in a quiet house.  I'm not having that problem at the moment.  Right now I am "cracking my whip" to try to get Jacob to do some of the 5 days of homework that he missed.  I don't think he realizes the magnitude of the situation...then again maybe he has the right perspective and I am blowing the whole thing out of proportion.  We also have a new friend spending the weekend with us while his parents are out of town so I've got to supervise his homework, project, and violin practicing as well.
Tonight we are headed to the nursing home across the street for trunk or treat, then to the pumpkin festival tomorrow morning, then our new friend's ball game, then a fall festival tomorrow night.  You see, my life is FULL of all sorts of things.  (And I'm scheduled to work three days next week!)

Still here

Jacob and I are still home.  I am THANKFUL that he is getting better and his fever is gone this morning, but  I am feeling sick to my stomach that I had to back out of my commitment to work TWICE this week.  I HATE disappointing people and not doing what I said I would do.  When Anna was sick, I  stopped saying I would do anything.  I made no promises.  I made no plans.  I didn't sign up for ANYTHING.  It was an adjustment, but it was good.  Now I am back to doing things and I am taken by surprise when something happens to interrupt my plans.  I don't mind changing my plans, but since I am by nature a people pleaser, it really bothers me to inconvenience someone else.  Ugh!

Don't join the club
I was reading a blog last night written by a woman whose baby died of SIDS.  She describes the "club" of which we are members.  As you have read my story, you know that my life is full of laughter, new experiences, encouragement, love, and joy.  It is also full of the things she describes.  A new friend asked me the other day, "What does it feel like now?  Does it hurt everyday?"  I told her,  "No, it doesn't hurt everyday, but when the pain comes, it hurts just as much as it did the first day."  I know that the pain will come and go throughout my lifetime.  I can choose to live with it or to die with it.

We only fit into one club right now.....the club NO parent ever wants to be in. But, by reasons beyond our control, we are now in the Bereaved Parents club, and I hate it every day. I imagine Club sign-ups....all the lists of clubs and the lines waiting to be signed. All the sheets are filled up, except one - no one wants to be in that club. So, members are chosen at random, without being asked, and that's how we've ended up here, in this club. This is a club of brokenness, tears, suffering, pain, isolation, loneliness, anger, bitterness, and longing. When you're in this club, you have no choice. You've entered into a lifetime membership.....

This is just hard. I didn't ask to be here. I didn't ask to be a member of this club. But, I'm here...and I'm trying to do as well as I possibly can with it.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Back to work....NOT

Today was supposed to be my first day of work, but Jacob didn't think it was fair that his brother and sister got to miss school and he didn't, so he decided to spike a fever and stay home.  Richard took him to the clinic last night to get tested for the flu and he was one of the very few who did NOT test positive.  The doctor says it's just a virus.  Jacob still feels pretty crummy no matter what you call it.   I am scheduled to work again on Friday.  Hopefully it won't be my turn to sick then!
Taking care of sick kids turns my thoughts towards Anna.  When I think of how she suffered, I can't stand it.  So I try not to think about it.  The second anniversary of her death is a month away and I try not to think about that either.  I'm hoping Thanksgiving won't be quite as bad as last year.  I can't escape the memories, but I can replace them with better ones.

Morning glory...

I went for a walk this morning while Jacob was still asleep and this is what I saw...

I am red/green color blind, but even I can see this.  I wonder what new colors will be in Heaven?  I can't even imagine!

They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and I will meditate on your wonderful works.
Psalm 145:5

He continues to lead me beside still waters and restore my soul.

You will show me the path of life,
      granting me the joy of your presence
      and the pleasures of living with you forever.

Psalm 16:11

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Eye Candy

 Today while we were driving around doing errands, Audra asked me why I was taking pictures.  I said, "Because I'm from Oklahoma, that's why!"  It is BEAUTIFUL here!   Growing up in the midwest,  I had seen a red tree, a yellow tree, an orange tree, but I never saw them all together and HUGE.  I still haven't managed to capture the beauty on film, but I will give you a taste of what we are seeing here.

This one isn't that great, but since I risked life and limb taking it while making a left turn I thought I should include it.

Down the street.

This beauty is in the parking lot of the assisted living center around the corner.

In the Sam's parking lot.

This is the playground at the park across the street.  Notice the leaf falling in midair!  The white dots are raindrops.

Jacob playing--this was before we were caught in a deluge and got soaking wet.

Trying to stay dry under the trees.  It was only 4 o'clock in the afternoon, but the storm made it dark.

Will striking a pose.

Audra trying to get her rain bonnet off before I take the picture!
Is she being attacked by a snake?????

God's beautiful world.

Goodwill hunting.

One of our errands today was to find halloween costumes.  It's one of my least favorite things to do.  Oh, I don't mind visiting the neighbors and getting candy, but I hate the costume process.  I suggested that we check Goodwill to see if they had anything.  When we walked in, Audra said, "Well, you see the problem is that I don't know what I want to be."  I told her that you don't go to Goodwill knowing what you want to be.  You go in to see what you can be.
Well JACKPOT!  She found a pair of crutches for $8 so now she is going to wrap herself in bandages and go as  someone with a broken leg, arm, head....whatever.  It's perfect because she and Will have ALWAYS wanted crutches so it's not just a costume, it's a toy too!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Mark your calendars...

One month from today is the second annual Anna Salamy Memorial Blood Drive.  It will be held at at Northwest Baptist Church in Oklahoma City from 2 to 7pm.  Come join the fun of giving blood!  Last year the OBI  folks were caught off-guard by the large number of donors.  This year we are having it in the gym so there will be more beds and people can get in and out faster.   I was afraid I would have to cancel the drive when we moved, but I have a WONDERFUL group of friends who have stepped in and taken over.  I just reserved my plane ticket last night so that I can fly in for the event.  Yea!  (Thanks to my friend Shelley who help fund the ticket by buying my refrigerator :-)   Please mark the date on your calendar and tell your friends.  See you there!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Deja vu

Audra was sick last week and today Will has a fever.  I took him to a "quick" clinic where we waited two hours with a roomful of sick people.  There were NO empty chairs, but plenty of face masks and hand sanitizer.  Will was miserable.  He tested negative for strep and flu, but the doctor recommended treating him for both.  Either way, we will be spending the rest of the week at home.  I'm supposed to start my substitute teaching job on Monday so hopefully everyone will be well--or else they will have to find a sub for the sub!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Apples of Gold

"A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver."  (Prov. 25:11)
How beautiful it is to speak the right words at the right time.
Lord, let my conversation always be full of grace. May I build up and encourage and not tear down.  Help me be brave enough to be real.  May I love enough to speak the truth and then listen.  Let my speech bring honor to you.

Worm Cakes

Audra has been home sick for three days, but tonight she will have been fever free for 24 hours--just in time for the school carnival.  The kids can't wait because they are going to have a REAL cake walk.  I took my cake in this morning and set it among the other beautifully decorated cakes.  I went for the 3rd grade boys popular vote and made a cake covered with dirt (cookie crumbs) and gummy worms.  I hope it's not the last one chosen!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Just in time

Yesterday I arranged access to our stuff in storage.  I found out that it involves more than just getting a key to the garage.  Our things are packed into 10 large wooden crates.  They had to bring the crates to the warehouse and then wrench the ends off so that I could see inside.  I tried not to think about my piano and china jammed inside.  Of course my "access" was limited to what was near the edge unless I wanted to unload everything and put it back.  But just in time for the cool weather that rolled in today, I found the boys' flannel sheets, our gloves and hats,  and Richard's sweaters. I also found a box of games, my small crock pot and other treasures.  In one of the boxes of winter things I found an 8x10  photo of our whitewater rafting  trip six years ago, my fancy white beaded handbag, and a little almond guy on a pedestal that says "I'm nuts about my grandpa."  (Will picked it out at the school Christmas store for Richard--before he could read!)  I grabbed our stockings and a couple of boxes of Christmas lights, but left the other decorations.  I told the man who was helping me, "If we are still in the condo at Christmas there is no way my husband will let me buy anymore lights."  (Last year I went a little crazy at the after Christmas sales and of course I wanted to bring ALL the lights to Virginia.)   As he was loading the snowboards and sleds into the car, my helper said, "Ummm...are you expecting it to snow?"  Evidently, contrary to popular belief in Oklahoma, it doesn't snow much in Richmond in spite of it being what we would call, "back east".  I said, "Well, if it does snow, I want to be prepared!"  I never did find the box with most of my winter clothes including my boots.  I guess we will have to buy a house soon, or I will have to get new boots.  In order for the kids to finish out the year at their current schools, we have to stay in the district until February 1.  So unless we find a house in this neighborhood, we will be "camping out" at the condo for a few more months.  That's okay by me.  I have everything I need....except boots.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Things I wish weren't in storage....

I wish I had the leaf for my table and a couple more chairs so our guests wouldn't have to bring their own.  I wish I had my flannel sheets because it's getting colder.  I wish I had my sweaters and boots.  I wish we had the box with Will's toys.  I wish the kids had their scooters.  I wish we had our gloves and scarves.  I wish we had our games.  I wish I had more pictures of Anna.

Things I wonder why I packed to come to the condo...

I wonder why I have the antique clock that doesn't work.  I wonder why I have my bread maker that I haven't used in years or the electric can opener that has to be attached to the cabinet.  I wonder why I thought I would need the pillows for the couch that we sold or the lampshade for the lamp that is in storage.  I wonder why I have my Cyprus cookbook, but not the one with my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe in it.

I am content with what I have.....just wishing and wondering.  
Pray that we will find a house in our neighborhood AND in our price range so that the kids won't have to change schools.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I've Arrived

Today I went to Walmart to pick up Jacob's new glasses.  (He hasn't worn glasses in three years, but apparently they do science experiments in the schools here that will blind you if you are wearing contacts.  So he HAD to have glasses.  I didn't want to invest a lot of money in something he would only wear for three hours a week so I got them at Walmart for $47.  That's right people, $47 for a complete pair.)  ANYWAY...... I was at Walmart and someone called me by name!!!!!!  I ran into someone I knew at Walmart!!!!!
It felt good :-)

Jacob's new glasses!  (I guess it's "hip to be square".)

Back to School

A couple of weeks ago I had lunch with a lady and told her about my interests and we discussed what I might like to be when I grew up.  She suggested that I take a class in Pastoral Care to see if I might want to be a counselor.  I called the school she recommended and they invited me to visit the first class so that I could see if it was something I would be interested in.  So, I went last Thursday and enjoyed the class, but told them that I wouldn't be able to afford the tuition this year.  The director called the next day and offered me a scholarship and a grant from an anonymous benefactor that would cover two-thirds of the cost.
So today I went back to school.

Lovely Libraries

I love the libraries here.  Besides being modern and having a cool way to return and check out books and besides having a huge selection of biographies and besides having helpful librarians who actually come up to you and ask if they can help you find something--they are full of grace.  At our old library we would get a letter saying that our books were overdue and that we owed a fine.  By the time we got the letter it was too late.  We had to pay.  At our new library they send a "friendly reminder" email telling you that your books are due in a few days AND they have a "grace day".  If you are only one day late, they don't charge a fine.  WOW!  I want to be more like the Virginia library with "friendly reminders" and "grace days", and less like the library that waits for you to mess up and then punishes you.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Well, we signed the papers on our house in Oklahoma this morning so now we are "under contract".  I don't feel happy or even relieved.  I just feel like it's something we had to do.  I don't even feel like buying another house just yet.  I guess I still have some "letting go" to do.  I am trying to be thankful for a buyer in this slow housing market.   I am trying to be glad that we didn't have to sell it for less than we paid for it.  I am trying to remember what brought us here to Virginia and who it is I'm following.

You changed my world
When You came to me.
You drove a passion,
In my soul down deep,
Lord, to follow You in everything.

I don't want to go somewhere
If I know that You're not there,
'Cause I know that me without You is a lie.
And I don't want to walk that road,
Be a million miles from home,
Cause my heart needs to be where You are.
So I don't want to go.

So come whatever,
I'll stick with You.
I'll walk You'll lead me,
Call me crazy or a fool,
For forever I promise You...

That I don't want to go somewhere
If I know that You're not there,
'Cause I know that me without You is a lie.
And I don't want to walk that road,
Be a million miles from home,
Cause my heart needs to be where You are.
So I don't want to go
Without Your touch,
Without Your love
Filling me like an ocean.
For Your grace is enough,
Enough for me.

If You're not there.
Filling me, loving me.
I don't want to go
There without you.

(I Don't Want to Go, Avalon)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Will has two buddies at school.  The three of them like to sit together at lunch and play together at recess.  They have so much in common that it took about four days for him to figure out that one of his new buddies was a girl.   But I guess it just doesn't matter.  Today after school we were walking around the track as part of the "Jog/Walk Club" that meets on Tuesdays.  (There are about 80 kids who walk and keep track of their miles.)  Will was walking with his friend.  She was telling him about a video game.  When I caught up to them, Will was excited to tell me, "He said (blah blah), then he said (blah blah).......and he said I could (blah blah)."  I pulled him aside and whispered, "Um, Will, 'he' is a 'she'".
 "Oh yeah" he said, "I forgot."

Monday, October 5, 2009


We had an offer on our house Saturday and now we are playing the back-and-forth counter offer game--trying to find a number that makes everyone happy.  Well, at least a little less unhappy.  We think our house is worth MUCH more than the "market" says it is.  To us it is priceless.  And there's the problem.  I thought I would be happy to sell the house and instead, the last two nights, I have been crying before I go to sleep.  It's just so sad to think of someone else living there.  I feel like I'm losing another part of Anna, but really it's a part of myself since I have SO many memories of all of our kids there.  Even the bathtub that needs to be replaced--I used to bathe three kids at a time in there!  The yard--the perfect place for all of our parties, picnics, and play.  The fireplace--so cozy with our little ones in their footie pajamas gathered round roasting marshmallows.  The kitchen--loved those family dinners with all six of us around the table.  Sigh.  Moving is hard.  Moving on is harder.
Last night I asked the kids where they felt most at home.  Two of them said "here".  They didn't mean Richmond.  They didn't mean they love this condo.  They meant here with our family.  So this is home for now.  No home on this earth is forever.  We will make memories here and when we finally sell our house, we will move again and make memories somewhere else.  I have to keep reminding myself to look forward, not back.  As the name of the blog reminds me, PRESS ON!

I am having a hard time finding a house here.  Part of the problem is that I can't find anyplace with a backyard as nice as the one we are enjoying in this rental unit.  This is the view from our deck.

When you step out our back door there is a path that leads to the creek.

He leads me beside still waters.  He restores my soul.
(Ps. 23:2-3)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Before a word is on my tongue...

"Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord." (Ps. 139:4)
I've been going to a Mom's in Touch group since school started.  It's a group of women who meet together to pray for their kids and their schools.  I told them about Jacob, Audra, and Will, but I never mentioned Anna.  They might have wondered why I was so tearful the first day.  It was because I was afraid I couldn't pull myself together enough to pray for my prayer partner's daughter... Anna.   But I didn't say anything.  I didn't mention it last week either.
But this week it came up---and spilled out.
Why today?
Because today there is a former MIT group member dying of cancer.  Because today there is group member whose husband has a (hopefully) benign brain tumor.  Because today, we all needed to be reminded that God is still in control and that this life is not all there is.  Because, AFTER I shared, the MIT leader told me that she was going to visit a woman today who had lost her son to cancer a few months ago.  She didn't know what to say to her, but God had impressed upon her heart that she needed to reach out to her.  I wrote down Anna's website, my email address and told her to tell this woman that I was going to go to a bereavement group next week for the first time and that she was welcome to go with me.
Do you see HIM in the details and the timing?  Do you see how He "works all things together"?
He knows.  He sees. He cares!

A Sweet Reunion

Nineteen years ago I was teaching school in Kenya.  One of my students was a 5th grader named Kara.  We spent a lot of time together in school and out of school.  Last night I saw Kara at the concert I went to.  She is now married with three kids and living in South Asia.  Nineteen years ago, I was 12 years older than Kara.  But now that she is a grown woman with kids, it seems like we are the same age ---amazing how that happens!

Thursday, October 1, 2009


I told you yesterday that I spoke with a volunteer.  She was not aware of all of the programs that the group offered.  I emailed the chaplain when I got home and found that they have a bereavement group starting TONIGHT.  I can't go  because I am going to a book dedication/worship time with Travis Cottrell that I am very excited about,  BUT I will go next Thursday.   Thanks Shelley for connecting me to other grieving parents, and please come back to my house.  The bathrooms are clean now!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Are you kidding me?

I have a new friend that I met 20 years ago.  I was reading the Baylor Line a few months ago and  saw that a girl from my graduating class had recently moved to Richmond.  I had a vague recollection of a tall girl with curly hair, so I emailed her and told her we were moving her way.  She had no idea who I was, but was nice enough to welcome me into her circle of friends when I arrived.  Today she invited me to attend a fancy Junior League-type market that was benefitting  kids with cancer.  Before she came to pick me up, I made sure that the pillows were on the couch; I picked up the shoes by the door; I put the breakfast dishes in the dishwasher; I even swept the back porch.  When she walked in, the first thing she asked was, "Can I use your bathroom?"  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  My choices were to let her go upstairs and see my messy bed, or let her use the kids bathroom.  I chose to let her think my kids were slobs instead of letting her think I was a slob.  Next time I want to impress someone I will not forget to wipe down the bathroom!

We enjoyed "just looking" at all of the jewelry, bags, clothes and fancy dog collars at the Ivy Market.  On the way out I stopped and asked about the organization that was benefitting from the fund raiser.  It's a group that works to "improve the lives of children battling cancer."  They told me about all of their activities and it sounded a lot like Ally's House.  Then I asked the volunteer, "Do you have any services for the families of the children who die?"  The woman stared back at me with a blank look on her face, "Uh, no.  I don't know of anything..."  I wanted to say, "Some of them do die you know."

Monday, September 28, 2009

Raccoons and Bun-gee Cords

We have raccoons.  No, they are not pets, but apparently we are feeding them.  Two nights ago I heard them so I sent Richard out to investigate.  The lid was off one of the trash cans.  When he went to put it back on, there were two raccoons staring back at him from the bottom of the can.  They didn't scamper off and Richard didn't want to trap them in the can so he just left them there.  The next day we moved all of the trash to one can and put a bun-gee cord over the top to hold the lid on.  This morning the empty can was still covered, but the other lid was laying in the grass with the bun-gee cord right next to it.  I guess  bun-gee cords are no match for little raccoon hands and to tell you the truth,  I've always wanted a pet raccoon.


I have reached the "I quit my job 13 years ago when I started having kids and now my kids are in school  so what do I do?" stage of life.  I have two degrees, but I have been feeling NOT SMART and NOT ABLE to do anything "important" or "professional".  This all came to a head Friday night when I burned the pizza.  I know burned pizza had NOTHING to do with how I was feeling, but it sent me over the edge and all sorts of emotions came spilling out--including grief which is always lurking beneath the surface.  (Yuck!--and surprise for Richard!)
THE NEXT MORNING during my quiet time I was reading in Isaiah chapter 49....

3"You are my servant... in whom I will display my splendor."
4"But I said, 'I have labored to no purpose; I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing...
(But God, my resume isn't  impressive in the eyes of the world.  My experiences don't qualify me to do anything.  What was it all for?  What have you prepared me to do?)
"Yet what is due me is in the Lord's hand, and my reward is with my God."

Then God asked me the question,
"Is it too small a thing for you to be my servant?"

"Why... labor on what does not satisfy?  Listen to me... and your soul  will delight in the richest of fare.  For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways... As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts."  (Is. 55:2)

No Lord, it is not too small a thing for me to be your servant.  Speak for your servant is listening.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Happy Birthday Will

Last night I was sad as I kissed my eight-year-old goodnight and realized that I would never have another eight-year-old.  It's hard when your kids grow up!
But today was a day to celebrate being nine.  Will got up early to make the most of his day.  He opened his nine presents and his cards at breakfast.  Then we had fun Skyping our friends and family in Oklahoma.  (Video conferencing on the computer for those of you who have never tried it.  It's great and it's FREE.)  The best quote was from Will's buddy Nate who asked, "Is it Saturday there?"
At ten o'clock his new VA friend arrived for four hours of fun.  We took them to the park then came back home for spaghetti and more play.  Tonight we went to see "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs".  We liked the movie, but it would have been just as good without paying extra for the 3D showing.  I'm pretty sure Will had a good day.  He has decided that now that he is nine, he is too old for a booster seat.  I reluctantly agreed, but I will miss having a car seat in my car.

Will likes cookies better than cake and ice-cream better than anything

Making ice-cream sundaes