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.