Monday, March 29, 2010

Dear Jacob

Dear Jacob,
Thank you for going to the Easter Cantata with us last night--even though we didn't give you a choice.  Your poor mom just needs to be  reminded again and again that Jesus has the power over death.   I need the hope of the resurrection.  I cannot live without the power of the cross and knowing that because Jesus lives, your sister lives too.  I NEED Easter.  So thank you for dragging yourself away from your homework so that I could get the encouragement I so desperately need.

Friday, March 26, 2010

A soggy day

Today was Audra's field trip.  We went to St. John's  Church and watched a reenactment of Patrick Henry's famous "Give me liberty or give me death" speech.  We were supposed to have a picnic afterwards, but it was raining so that part was cancelled.  What I found interesting/amusing about the trip was the bus driver.  Before we even left the school he was drilling the kids on where they were going and what happened there.  I have never heard a school bus driver give a history lesson.  Also before we left, we were strongly admonished to "NOT WRITE ON THE BUS WINDOWS OR YOU WILL HAVE TO WASH ALL OF THE WINDOWS INSIDE AND OUT .  (Remember it was raining so the windows were foggy.)  Then, on our way to the church, the driver proceeded to point out various Richmond landmarks.  Unfortunately, I couldn't see anything because of the foggy windows and I wasn't about to wipe the window off because I didn't want to WASH ALL THE WINDOWS INSIDE AND OUT.
The church and graveyard (including the graves of Thomas Jefferson's teacher and Edgar Allen Poe's mother) were fascinating.  I kept shouting "Here, here!" during Patrick Henry's speech against the tyranny of British government.  I'm pretty sure I enjoyed it even more than Audra did.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A rose by any other name...

I love spring.  I love the promise and hope of new life.  This year I am loving watching our yard come to  life.  Because we moved in during the winter, we have no idea what we have (except for giant pine and sweet gum trees).  Last week I discovered a beautiful bush on the side of the house with pink roses all over it.  Audra and I were so excited to have roses.  She picked a few and put them in a vase.  A couple of days later I was talking to a lady down the street.  She had rosebushes too, but hers weren't pretty like mine.  Hers were pruned.  There was not one leaf or bud--just sticks.  I thought maybe I should prune my rosebush like she did so I started asking her questions.   After we talked for a while she said, "Honey, I don't think you have roses.  What you are describing does not sound like roses.  I've walked by your house and I've never seen roses."  Well, I THOUGHT I had roses.  She followed me  back to our house to see my "rose" bush.  She took one look and said, "Honey, those are camellias.  You don't have to do anything to them.  Just leave them alone.  They don't have any scent and they don't have any thorns.  You know, roses always have thorns."
Did you know that?  Did you know that to have a beautiful rose, you also have to have  thorns?  Camellias and roses  are both beautiful flowers, but only one has thorns and only one has a fragrance.  Only one has to suffer through the pruning process to achieve its beauty.
Are you a camellia or a rose?  Have you suffered?  Does your life have thorns?  Learn to embrace those thorns because with  them comes great beauty and a life-giving fragrance.  Accept the pruning of the divine gardener.  He has lots of camellias, but he desires fragrant roses.

15 For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.  16 To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?   (2 Corinthians 2:15-16)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Same old message

Jacob loves music so yesterday I played a song for him that I used to like in high school.  This song really helped me get through some difficult days.  I used to listen to it over and over and over (when I wasn't listening to Olivia Newton John or Michael Jackson that is).

Got a ticket coming home,
Wish the officer had known
What a day today has been.
Then I stumbled through the door,
Dropping junk mail on the floor.
When will this day end?

But then your letter caught my eye,
Brought the hope in me to life,
'Cause you know me very well,
And I bet you wrote me
Just to tell me,

In a little while,
We'll be with the Father;
Can't you see Him smile?
In a little while,
We'll be home forever,
In a while....
We're just here to learn to love Him;
We'll be home in just a little while.

Boy, that letter hit the spot--
Made me think of all I've got,
And all that waits for me.
Guess I've known it all day long;
Wonder where my thoughts went wrong.
When will my heart believe?

Waking half way through the night,
Reaching toward the lamp for light,
Picking up the Word I find;
Here's another letter
To remind me.

In a little while,
We'll be with the Father;
Can't you see Him smile?
In a little while,
We'll be home forever,
In a while....
We're just here to learn to love Him;
We'll be home in just a little while.

Days like these are just a test of our will.
Will we walk or will we fall?
Well, I can almost see the top of the hill,
And I believe it's worth it all.

In a little while,
We'll be with the Father;
Can't you see Him smile?
In a little while,
We'll be home forever,
In a while....
We're just here to learn to love Him;
We'll be home in just a little while.
(Amy Grant, In a Little While) 
 Do you see the message?  The words that got me through a broken heart in high school are the same words that helped me walk through the deepest valleys of grief... in a little while we'll be with the Father... and home forever.
So whatever your day brings-- a speeding ticket, a national healthcare plan (yikes!), a broken heart, loneliness, or even the death of a loved one, be encouraged.  You'll be home soon.  Keep going.  Don't quit.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Hitting the road

If you have been following our story you know that we are big supporters of Ally's House in OKC.  They helped us with mortgage payments, school supplies, birthday cakes, parties, bicycles, etc. while Anna was sick.  They even helped with the expenses of her funeral.  They are a great organization that supports Oklahoma families who have kids with cancer.
Well.... there is another organization similar to Ally's House in our new city.  It's called ASK.  Audra and I have been attending their bereavement support group on Thursday nights.  Their big fund raiser is a 5K walk/run next month.  Our whole family has joined our Pine Run neighborhood team.  The race just happens to be 2 days before my birthday SO if you were wondering what you were going to get me and you don't want to worry about mailing a package, you can make a pledge to benefit ASK in Anna's memory.  Here's the link to the race information.
Click on "Support a Participant" and then click on one of our names.    The donation options start with $25, but you can click on "other".  A $5 donation would be great.  (Remember how much money we raised for Anna's Room at the hospital with $10 donations.)
I am so thankful that we can still do things to honor Anna and help other people--even in Virginia.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Got Complaints?

I started reading my one year Bible in January so lately I have been spending a lot of time among those complaining Israelites.  Oh, it's easy for me to condemn them.  After all they had God right there with them in a cloud and in a pillar of fire, and he parted the Red Sea, and he fed them bread from Heaven--what did they have to grumble about?  But they DID... over and over and over again.   Not only did the people complain, but the leaders complained as well.  A man named Korah led 250 leaders to challenge Moses and his brother Aaron.  All of us are holy.  The Lord is with us too.  Why then do you set yourselves above the Lord's assembly?  Basically he was saying, "Who made you the boss?"
While I've never said those words I can relate to the FEELINGS behind them.  Maybe Korah didn't like the spot he had been assigned in the camp.  Maybe he didn't like the way Moses got to go in the taberancle and he didn't.  Maybe he didn't like the songs that Miriam sang.  Maybe he thought the drums were too loud.   Maybe he didn't like the color of the carpet.  Maybe he didn't like the Sunday School curriculum....  (Hey, wait a minute are we still talking about Korah and his friends, or me and my friends?)
  And Moses responds...
Now listen, (Marlo)!  Isn't it enough...that God has separated you from the rest of the community and brought you near himself to do (his) work... and to minister to (the community)?... but now you are trying (to control the church) too... It is against the Lord... Who is (_______) that you should grumble against (him/her)?  
(A very loose paraphrase of Numbers 16:8-11)

What that says to me is, "I (God) have given you a job to do.  I have called you and have taught you.  Isn't that enough?  Why do you think you have to control everything that goes on?  I did not appoint you as judge over the worship music, or the curriculum, or the color of the carpet, or what time Awanas meets.  When you grumble it is against me.  You are not doing any good.  You need to do what I ask you to do and let other people do what I ask them to do.  I will be the judge, not you."

Try it.  It's actually very freeing to remind yourself, "God did not put me in charge of this."

Friday, March 12, 2010


Last night Audra and I went to our grief group and found out that her small group leader also lives in our neighborhood.  She made a point to tell me afterward that nothing Audra or I say would be repeated to any of the neighbors.  (She doesn't know I'm pretty much an open book.)  I told her that she didn't have to give them any details, but that if she could just tell everyone how great we are, that would be fine.

Do you remember on the first day of his new school when someone told Will that he was one of the two weirdest boys in the class?  His new friend is the other weird boy.  (Will said, "We kind of match.") Yesterday was his friend's birthday and his mom told him he could invite one friend over after school.  He chose Will!  Yea for new friends!

CU in DC
Jacob is headed to WASHINGTON DC for a Christian youth conference this afternoon.  Yea for youth trips!  I think it is SO cool that we live close enough to drive to DC.

Thank you Lord for neighbors, for friends, for youth groups, and for holding our hand and leading us on.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


While I was waiting for Audra and Will after school yesterday I was standing next to some of the moms from Will's baseball team.  They were talking about a 5k run that one of them was in charge of.  After a while they noticed my blank expression and explained, "It's a run we do every year to benefit a local charity.  Our Pine Run neighborhood has a team."
After listening to them a little longer I asked, "Did you say that the charity is ASK?"
"Yes.  It's an organization that helps families who have a child with cancer."
I said,  "I know what it is." Then I added very softly so that only the mom right next to me heard, "We go there once a week." (They host the support group Audra and I go to.)
She looked at me, "You go there?"
"Yes.  I had a daughter die of cancer."
"Oh, you must know Amy then.  She lives in our neighborhood and she works for ASK.  Her son is a cancer survivor."
"No.  I haven't met her."
(I didn't know anyone in our new neighborhood had a child with cancer.  I didn't know that our neighborhood had a team that supports an organization that helps cancer families.  I didn't know I would find a place like Ally's House here in Richmond.)
"Would you like to be a part of the race?"
"Yes. I would."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

First Dora

Even  two years after Anna's death I am still experiencing "firsts".  This week it was my first Dora.  I was called to help out in a class for 2 and 3 year olds and when I got there they were watching Dora.  Anna was 2 years and 9 months old when she got sick--the same age (and size) as the kids I was working with and just like them, she LOVED Dora.  We watched a lot of Dora in the hospital.  Then, thanks to our friends the Buchanans who actually KNOW her, Dora came to Anna's 4th birthday party.  Sitting with those little kids and listening to them call out the answers to Dora's questions brought back memories... and tears.  I was afraid that I would be sad the whole day, but after the Dora video was over, I was fine and able to enjoy the rest of the day.
I still haven't watched Arthur, Clifford, or Dragon Tales.  I haven't even watched old home videos.  I guess those "firsts" will come later.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I've Been Chosen

I've been chosen to go on a field trip!  Evidently they have more parents volunteer than they can use because when you sign the permission slips there is a place where you can check if you "want to be considered as a chaperone".  I have checked it before, but never made the cut.  This time however, Audra's teacher decided that instead of drawing a name out of a hat, she was going to choose me because we are new to the school.  She instructed the class, "Now, be sure to tell your parents why I chose Audra's mom."   So later this month I get to visit St. John's Church where Patrick Henry gave his famous "Give me liberty or give me death" speech.  (You can't do that in Oklahoma.)  I'm still hoping to join Will's class when they visit Monticello in April.   I won't be as new then... but at least I can be considered!

Monday, March 8, 2010

We can only imagine...

Several months ago I put the link to Mercy Me's "I Can Only Imagine" video on Anna's website.  It's a song about Heaven and the video features well-known people holding pictures of their loved ones who have died.    Richard heard that Mercy Me was asking for "regular" people to send in their own pictures that they could use during their live concerts.  These pictures will scroll across the big screen while they sing "I Can Only Imagine" at the Rock and Worship Roadshow.  Yesterday Jacob's friend took our picture.  Richard kept saying "Don't smile! and then, "Okay, smile a little"... which may explain our expressions.
So if you attend the concert in OKC, be sure to look for us and if you have a similar photo of your family, you can send it to

Saturday, March 6, 2010


Can you imagine changing schools during the last half of 5th grade?  It's not an easy thing we asked Audra to do.  There have been some tears, but overall she is doing great.  Yesterday I walked to the school to pick her up (I LOVE having a school that we can walk to) and saw the music teacher in the office.  She told me that Audra was one of four students chosen from her school to be in the All-County Chorus.  Woo hoo!  What an honor.  Then we were walking out with one of her classmates and she invited Audra to come to her house to play.  Yea!  It's the first time since we left Oklahoma that Audra has gotten to do something like that.  Two blessings in one day--our cup runneth over.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Got Bread?

On Monday I was listening to a sermon about when Jesus changed water into wine.  The verse the speaker said was the most important in that story was John 2:5 when Mary said to the servants, "Whatever he tells you to do, do it."  Wow!  That verse was for me too.  "Whatever he tells you to do, do it."
Do I want to see God at work?  Do I want to glorify God with my time?  Do I want to have a part in a miracle?  Then all I have to do is whatever he tells me to do!
My first response to hearing that was FEAR.  I wanted to put my fingers in my ears and say, "Na, na, na, I can't hear you God!"  Or I wanted to turn on the TV or busy myself so that I can't hear his voice.  Then I thought about it.  The times when I have obeyed him in the past it has brought joy and peace (even if it was something hard).  So I took my fingers out of my ears, wrote the verse on the plate in my entryway, and said "Okay, what do you want me to do?  I know I need to do things like take care of my home, spend time with my kids, and love my husband.  Those are 'givens'.  What ELSE do you want me to do Lord?"
The answer came last night.  While the guys had a night out, Audra and I had some mother/daughter time.... at grief group.  She was not excited about going, but I promised her that she would get to do art there.  We went and met  other families who have lost a child to cancer.  I enjoy being around other families who have been through what we've been through.  There is comfort just in knowing that you are not the only one.   But I was sad that there was no mention of God (other than the meditation time when we were encouraged to pray to God, the universe, or "whatever".)  You've read my  journal and you know the comfort and the strength and the HOPE that I have received because of Jesus and because of what he suffered and the promise that this is not all there is.  I can't imagine grieving without HOPE, but people do.  And other people try to make you feel better by saying nice things and thinking nice thoughts and doing art projects, but to me it's like clinging to a spider web for support.  It's nice, but it doesn't help very much.  So last night I went to bed sad for those who were grieving without hope.  During the night, God woke me up several times and brought to my mind the words "You give them something to eat."  When I got up, I looked up the context of that verse.  It's from the 14th chapter of Matthew.
When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd.  So he began teaching them many things....  
His disciples told him to send the people away so that they could get something to eat.
But he answered, "You give them something to eat."
Of course the disciples couldn't do that on their own, but they brought what they had to Jesus and he blessed it and fed 5,000.

In John 21:17 Jesus tells Peter, "Do you love me?  Feed my sheep."
In John 6:35 Jesus says , "I am the bread of life.  He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty."

Lord help me give these people something to eat.  May they taste and see that you are good (Psalm 34:8).

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

How hard can it be?

Today I got a call from the woman in charge of the lunchroom volunteers.   She was kind enough to give me some "inside" information as I prepare to take my place as a "lunch buddy".

1.  "There are no knives in the lunchroom.  If someone insists they need a knife, you can give them two spoons and tell them to do their best."
2.  "Stay away on waffle day.  There are no knives so they can't cut their waffles and they can't open the syrup packages by themselves so you will be busy the WHOLE time."