Sunday, February 28, 2010

For the poetry lovers out there...

I am not a big fan of poetry.  I usually prefer straight talk (just tell me what you mean).  But sometimes you can't express your feelings with "straight" talk.  Sometimes you need to paint a picture with words.  This poem made me cry this morning when I read it.  If you have lost someone you love, you will be able to relate to the feelings expressed.  You may have to read it more than once (reading out-loud helps).

     "How can I go;
How rise, and take the path and know
I have no hand to hold, no face
To meet me on the way at any place!
     I stand
Just where I held his hand;
     I took--
Just here the wind hath shook
His gold curls, and his feet
This far came with me: then let me but repeat,
Just standing where I am,
All that his lips said--sacred as a psalm--
While we were moving on, before I knew
His footsteps would stop him.  So new
The way looks on beyond; if I could stay
If I could but live over day by day
The sweet gone-by; if I could be
Found waiting where he left me--but I see
A step ahead which I must take.
What that my heart should break;
     What that I cry--
Or am too mute to lift on high
A cry for pity--I must go;
Reach out for other hands; know
The bleak places of new hills; be strong:
Carry my burden all along
The uphill road; leave
All our footprints in the path that, in and out, weaves
On together until now; must take
The new step on alone, and make
My eyes lift to the sun, and look
At purple hill, and throbbing brook,
     And make
My hands reach out again to take
Flowers, that will grow against my feet and keep
Reminding me I have no other hands to put them in!
Be the way or level, can it matter now?
If I must leave his footprints does it matter how?
If I must go, walk just the same,
Without his love-lips murmuring my name
     I only know
It cannot matter much the way I go
So that the path leads high,
Leads closer, every day, toward the sky:
Leads, as God will, toward the meeting-place
     Where I shall look upon my loved one's face."

---George Kringle 1886

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Waiting for the man

I'm waiting for the man again today.  Monday it was the toilet-man, yesterday it was the drywall-man, and today it's the microwave-man.  I really liked the toilet-man because he taught me how to change the "seat and spring" in the faucet so that it doesn't drip anymore and because he fixed the toilet that was "phantom flushing."  I hid from the drywall-man because I forgot he was coming and I had already changed into my pajamas (at 7:30pm).  I don't usually do that, but I guess because Audra and Will were getting ready for bed, I thought I would too.  (They had to get ready early so they could watch part of American Idol.)  I think I will like Micro-man, because when he leaves I will be able to thaw out my meat in two minutes instead of two hours.

Since I've been home during the day, I have had the TV turned to the Olympics.  The past few days I have watched curling, curling and more curling.  I'm not convinced that it is a sport, but I have watched enough that I can tell which team is not very good--even with the sound turned down.  I can also appreciate a good double knock-out.  Since some of those women are 45, I figure it's not too late for me.  I can train in my own kitchen to be a "sweeper" or whatever those people are called who sweep the ice in front of the rock.  If you've never watched it, it's pretty funny....unless you are a curler, then it's serious business.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Say no to "food deserts"

Okay, how many of you when you saw that headline yesterday, first thought Michelle Obama was saying no to chocolate cake and apple pie?  Personally, fighting obesity by saying no to "food desserts" makes a lot more sense than "food deserts".  I told my kids that the next time they look in the pantry and say there is nothing to eat, they can complain about the "food desert."

Today I feel like we are in a desert--not a food desert--but a wilderness experience.  This morning the kids were talking about what they want to do when they go back to Oklahoma this summer.  They keep mentioning things that we can only do in Oklahoma.   They also want to go back to the camp we've gone to in Branson the past three years.  They want to go BACK because now is HARD.  I understand.  They miss their friends.  I do too.   I feel like Moses when the Israelites complained that they wanted to go back to Egypt because the food was better and because they didn't like wandering around in the desert.  (Hey, where is that promised land anyway?)  I have to keep leading my "people" through this desert and trust that God is leading me.

Lord, I don't know where all this is going
Or how it all works out
Lead me to peace that is past understanding
A peace beyond all doubt
(Lord I Don't Know, Newsboys) 

Counting my blessings....

Last week I got an email out of the blue from someone inviting me to tea because she wanted to get to know me.  We had a great visit and are having lunch with some other ladies on Friday.  Thank you Lord!

I enrolled Audra in the Christian Youth Theater drama class.  She got the last spot.  Thank you Lord!

We had old friends to dinner Friday night.  I met them when I lived in Africa 20 years ago and hadn't seen them since we visited Kenya 10 years ago.  We had a WONDERFUL time.  I love, love, love having people over.  Thank you Lord!

Jacob has lots of GUY friends.  Two of them spent the night with us Saturday after the Winter Jam concert and then went to church with us.  Thank you Lord!

Jacob now has a regular band practice after school every Friday.  It's at the home of one of the mom's in my Mom's in Touch group, but she and I had nothing to do with our son's getting together.  Her son is in high school so he and Jacob never should have met.  Thank you Lord!

I got a certificate for a massage for Valentine's Day from a blog reader in Texas.  It was so totally unexpected and so very much appreciated.  Thank you Lord!

Lowe's was going to charge us $38 extra (on top of the $99 installation fee) to come out and measure for a microwave when I had already taken the measurements.  So I went to Home Depot and found another microwave for less money AND I used the gift card we got for Christmas.  Thank you Lord!

You know, Richmond may not be the promised land, but it's no desert either...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Plumbers and Parachutes

Today I am waiting for the plumber.  He is supposed to be here between 8am and 1pm so I am home... waiting... checking facebook... monitoring the Olympics... talking to the rabbit... important stuff!  I am should be on the treadmill, but instead I am drinking a cup of green tea and updating the website.  The man on the Today show said that green tea will increase my metabolism and writing makes me feel like I've accomplished something, but I think I will have to face the treadmill sooner or later.

I heard an analogy that I wanted to share with you.  It involves parachutes and salvation.
If you get on an airplane and someone offers you a parachute and says, "If you wear this, it will make your flight better," you might put it on.  But after a while it would start to get uncomfortable.  It would be hard to sit back in your seat.  The people around you without parachutes would start making fun of you.  You would get tired of being different.  So you might take the parachute off and throw it down and say, "This is stupid.  It's not making my trip better at all.  It's making it worse!"
Now supposed you get on an airplane and someone offers you a parachute and says, "At some point during this trip you will have to jump out of the airplane and this parachute will save your life."  You would put it on.  It would be uncomfortable, but you wouldn't take it off.  People might make fun of you, but you wouldn't take it off.  The stewardess might spill hot coffee on you, but you wouldn't blame the parachute and throw it down.  The pain and discomfort you feel during the flight would only make you look forward to getting out of the plane.  You would hang on to your parachute no matter what happened because you are not trusting the parachute to make your flight better, you are trusting the parachute to save your life.
It's the same with Jesus.  If the only reason you are trusting Jesus is because he will make your life better, then when things get uncomfortable or when you are in pain, you will blame him for not delivering what you expected.  And you might reject Him and say "This is stupid.  It's not making my life better at all.  It's making it worse!"  BUT if the reason you trust Jesus is to save you, then you will cling to him when things get uncomfortable; when you stand out as different; when pain and suffering comes.  And all of those things will not make you reject him, but instead they will make you look forward to getting out of the plane.

Buried deep beneath
All our broken dreams
we have this hope:

Out of these ashes... beauty will rise
and we will dance among the ruins
We will see Him with our own eyes
For we know, joy is coming in the morning...
in the morning, beauty will rise

I can hear it in the distance
and it's not too far away.
It's the music and the laughter
of a wedding and a feast.
I can almost feel the hand of God
reaching for my face
to wipe the tears away, and say,
"It's time to make everything new."

This is our hope.
This is the promise.
That it would take our breath away
to see the beauty that's been made
out of the ashes...

Out of these ashes... beauty will rise
and we will dance among the ruins
We will see Him with our own eyes
Out of this darkness... new life will shine
and we'll know the joy is coming in the morning...
in the will rise!

(Stephen Curtis Chapman, Beauty Will Rise)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snowed In.... again....and again...and again....

Today is our sixth snow day this semester.  As you know, Audra and Will changed schools at the semester.  They have only been able to attend TWO days so far.  You will be glad to know that Audra's second day was much better than the first.  We are hoping her third day will be good (and soon).
Here's some photos I took of our life "back east".  Of course we have it MUCH better than some people who have been snowed in for five days so far.  I am NOT complaining.

This is a view of our back yard from the street.  Look at how TALL the trees are.  We are very glad that we have had snow and not ice.

Will snuggled up watching Sponge Bob.

Audra working on her Valentines and Jacob talking on the phone.  

Richard was on his way to work when his boss called and told him he was staying in.  So he came home and used his new coffee maker.  (Thanks Jim :-)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


It's all in how you look at it...
A few months after Anna died we were in a grief group and the leader asked us to write down things that our loved one had given us.  I liked this assignment because it made me think about Anna's gifts to me.  She  left me with pain, grief, and suffering--but that's not all she gave me.  Because of her I have deep friendships,  trust in God, a range of emotions I didn't know existed--highs and lows that I never felt when life was "normal",  a focus on the unseen eternal, greater wisdom, a desire for Heaven, perseverance, and a new hope.
My situation is not unique.  If you are suffering, there is something there besides the pain.  You just have to have the right perspective.

"Let us not forget what the sorrow has done for us while it lasted, and what the night has been, though dark and sad.  It has been a night of grief, yet a night of blessing; a night in which there may have been many things which we could wish forgotten, yet many more which we should wish to be remembered forever... It was then that the Lord drew near, and the world was displaced, and self was smitten, and our will conquered, and faith grew, and hope became brighter, and the things that are unseen were felt to be the real and true:  (Heaven) above was seen by us as our proper home."  (Horatius Bonar)

Someone  who is maintaining the right perspective in the face of death...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

First Day Done!

Well, Audra and Will were finally able to start their new school today (even though the start time was two hours late because of the snow).  I walked them to their classes, met the teachers and then left them with fear and trembling.  When I met the bus this afternoon, Will could not say enough good things about the new school, his new teacher, and his new friends.  He loved everything.  One of the kids told him that he and another boy were "the two weirdest boys in class".  Whereas I might be offended, to Will this was an extreme compliment.  I asked him how they knew he was weird.  He said, "Well, I was quiet the first hour and then they started playing music so I started break dancing.  Then at lunch I sang the Hannah Montana theme song."  Wow, way to go Will!
Audra was not so thrilled with her first day.  She said she didn't talk, much less dance and sing.  I think 5th grade girls are a much harder crowd than 3rd grade boys.  Hopefully she will warm up to them and they will see how sweet she is.  More snow is in the forecast tomorrow so we'll see when/if they have their second day of school.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A word from Maggie Lee's mom

Jinny Henson

I have often reassured myself in the six months since Maggie Lee's death that although I have no idea what I will do without her, I honestly didn't know what to do with her when she first arrived, either. Somehow this gives me room to breathe and by the grace of God, I sense that I will adapt to my new life in some measure as I did before.

Of course, birthing a child and burying a child are two radically different prospects. On the one hand you deliver a bundle of dreams wrapped in possibility oozing potential and conversely, in the other unnatural scenario, you lower those most treasured dreams into the ground...forever. 

It is a disorienting experience and frankly I am shocked to still wake up every morning. "A Broken Heart Still Beats," is the title of a grief book for parents and, alas, mine still does. I remember reading a about a friend's 4-year-old daughter who had cancer two years ago. As I clicked out of the email, I sighed with relief that God had not laid that burden on me because He knew full well that I could never take anything so awful.

And then in a moment, despite the diligent love that you have and the protective eye you naturally cast, a freak accident comes calling and is unaware that your family is supposed to be exempt. As soon as you're told that your child will die, you begin to ratchet down expectations. You see a child in a wheelchair and breathe a hasty,"I'll take it," or one with a contracted little body, but still able to communicate and think,"I would gladly spend my life taking care of her" But, alas, the ultimate bargain isn't yours to make...  

I have learned a few things in my first 6 months of new-born grief. Certainly, many more lessons are to follow as I will contend with this ever-present absence as long as I shall live. I have learned that it is impossible to shake a good friend. Most people are lucky to have one true friend when it is all said and done. I have an embarrassing wealth of amazing friends and family who have shouldered the burden of loss with me. Souls who have sincerely attempted to put themselves in our unenviable shoes, anticipate our needs and keep us supplied with books and Starbucks cards. 

I have learned to treasure every imperfect day and those who remain. Life is hard and will not for the vast majority of us ever turn out in the way we would choose. I guess that's why we're all so cranky. Since Maggie Lee's death, I have tried to suck the marrow out of life even more than I did before; enjoying my family as they they are, not as they should be. We often unwrap the presents of the people around us with a conditional bent of dissatisfaction; we love our children but try to exact better performances from them. We appreciate our parents but our dad dresses funny and mom has a goatee. We are committed to our spouse but he sets the thermostat too low and never remembers how we like our coffee. Losing someone I love has helped me to step back and be grateful for what and whom I have left.

Even though I never was much of a control freak, I now know that even the appearance of control over my circumstances is nothing but a facade. It is with infinite wisdom that the writer of Ecclesiastes compares our earthly existence with a fleeting vapor. I have learned that even if life would've obediently followed my plans, that I would have at some juncture encountered a traumatic blow or two. Time wounds all heels, and many more graphically than mine, just consider Haiti. No purpose is served by pridefully thinking that no ones loss can ever rival mine. If I wear my disaster like a orchid on Mother's Day, it will only serve to frighten people. Every human being will be confronted by unwanted circumstances to which they can accept, or wander down main street in a nightgown like Mary Todd Lincoln. As for myself, I never looked too hot in a nightie.

I have learned that t-shirt fronts serve as great Kleenex if you suddenly get an unexpected gusher. Gut-wrenching grief is sneaky and will typically ambush you at the most inappropriate moments such as the carpool line, Sunday School or the deli counter over cold-cuts. Some times, emotions are brought on by well-intentioned small-talk such as, "How many children do you have?" or, "Is he an only child?" I have found it best to answer the question as my life is now rather than to thrust my emotional baggage on an unsuspecting Wal-Mart Employee. People by and large are unprepared for the flood of toxic emotions a grieving person is capable of producing...

I have learned that although I struggle with God and miss my daughter desperately that I am not prepared to go it alone. I know intrinsically that God is the only path to true healing of which I can conceive. Although there are days that the searing pain wins over me, I have learned that my Heavenly is indeed close to the brokenhearted, and that hope in Christ will sustain me until I see my precious child again. 

(For the full transcript go to


Does anyone know how I can respond to individual comments?  Rita wants to know where I got the table in my entryway.  I don't know how to tell just her, so now you will all know that I got it a few years ago at Penney's.

Audra and Will have another snow day, so MAYBE they will start their new school tomorrow (Thursday).    Thanks for praying for them.  Perhaps they will get so bored, they will be glad to go anywhere--including a new school.

Monday, February 1, 2010

(Trying to)Be anxious about nothing

Since we moved in two weeks ago, Audra and Will have been going to their "old" school.  Now that the semester is over, they will be moving to their new school tomorrow.  Please pray for them to stand firm and trust in God.  Pray that they will "connect" with  friends quickly.  Jacob didn't change districts so he gets to stay where he is.  He  spent the night with two different friends this weekend so he is doing well socially.   Will and Audra miss having close friends to do things like that.  We are still hoping for a friend down the street for each of them.

Congratulations to our friends J and K who delivered their baby boy yesterday.  We wish we could be there to hug on him and on you!