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Friday, December 24, 2010

Getting My Bake On

Here's what I've been cooking baking up today:

No-bake Chocolate Cookies
Almond Puffs
Spritz Cookies
Almond Bark Pretzels
Cutout Cookies

Yummies to share with our friends tomorrow.

Almond Puffs

This is a yummy Dutch recipe that my mom made when we were growing up. If only it wasn't almond extract and had actual almond paste. Yumm-O!

Almond Puffs

pastries
1/2 cup butter
1 cup water
1 cup flour
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp almond extract

frosting
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp milk
1 tbsp butter
3/4 to 1 tbsp almond extract

Boil butter and water. Remove from heat and add flour. Beat until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time. Beat after each egg. Add almond extract. Drop by teaspoonful (no larger or they won't get done in the center) on a cookie sheet or greased mini muffin tins. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Cool completely, then frost.

These freeze well and thaw quickly. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Where in the Blog are You?

I'm still here. I'm having a hard time writing lately. I think it's because after Elihu's death and because the whole process of grieving and making it out on the other side with a better perspective has been exhausting and a lot of hard work. It's hard to look at the day-to-day things and feel that they are significant after the loss of a child. But it's the day-to-day things that make life worth living.

I can say that my heart is heavy this Christmas. I'm trying to be positive and not dwell on the should'ves or could'ves but rest my heart in Jesus' birth and the joy my family brings me. I don't want to carry my heavy heart around ignoring the joy that my boys bring me. I want to be joyful in the little everyday things they do - whether they are positive or not-so positive. ;)

So instead of trying to think of stuff to write at the end of this year, I'm focusing on 2011 - a fresh new start. I want to begin 2011 with a gratitude journal. I bought a little pocket-type calendar and this year I will be writing in it everyday something that I am thankful for or something encouraging and positive. I thought a calendar would be better than a regular notebook because it might keep me on task better. There's a little spot for each day and I plan on filling it with all the good things going on in my life and in the lives around me. I would love to also keep track of my Bible reading. I read something almost everyday but I don't often journal about it or write about it so I thought if I'm not going to journal it at least I should record what I've been reading and put some kind of description down so I will remember if it was something that touched my heart.

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas. We sure will. But my heart is really looking forward to the freshness of 2011 and the hope that it brings. Love to you all!! Merry Christmas!!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thanking Him for Elihu

This week will be hard.

I should be packing up the many things it takes to bring a baby to visit family for the first time. I should be finding that carseat cover that kept my other two boys warm during the winter months. I should be folding clothes and getting a little suitcase ready for a 4-hour drive to our home town. I should be counting diapers, wipes, burp cloths, etc. But I'm not. And it's hard.

It will be hard celebrating Thanksgiving with Elihu being in heaven. I'm thankful for my salvation. I'm thankful for my growth through the last 6 months. I'm thankful for God's gift of His Son. I'm thankful for God's will being revealed in my life. I'm thankful for my two living boys. I'm thankful for my loving husband. I'm thankful for our warm home. I'm thankful for our van that doesn't have payments. I'm thankful for Elihu. But he's not here and that's what's hard. It will be hard to be around all the babies this Thanksgiving without my baby.

It will not only be uncomfortable and emotional for me, but I'm sure it will be uncomfortable and maybe even emotional for others too. I will see my three nieces together for the first time without their little baby boy cousin. I will see my niece who had a due date close to Elihu's for the first time. I will be amid all the joy that Thanksgiving and family coming together brings. But my heart will be heavy in that joy. There's a piece missing. And my greatest fear as that others won't notice. That they won't think about Elihu even once. That he's gone and it's over. That's it.

But it's not over for me. He's a part of our family and I just want people to remember him. And even say his name and tell me that they've thought of him or how this is a hard time for Jonathan and I. I pray for people to be sensitive to my emotions. I'm an emotional and sensitive person anyway, and I have a feeling that I won't be able to control those feelings all the time.

I want to be thankful. I want to be joyful. I want to rejoice with those who are rejoicing. I want to enjoy time with family and friends. But I want to be able to express my grief over Elihu's absence. I think that Nichelle's post Tick...tick...tick...Time to Be "Over It" expresses some of my thoughts. I just pray that people give me grace to process our first Thanksgiving without Elihu without feeling like I need to be "over it."

Friday, November 19, 2010

What Day is It?

That's a question I find myself asking a lot since we returned home from Florida. We were there for several days with the youth pastors and their wives from the nation's Evangelical Free Church - Rebound. And it was a much needed trip. I had time to process through some stuff about Elihu, my husband was refreshed from ministry, he also learned a lot during the first part of the trip (Momentum), we reconnected through the speaker at Rebound, I enjoyed some wonderful girl time, we had our 2nd annual TimTam Party, and we enjoyed the warm Florida sun, beaches and the swimming pool. It was wonderful.

And now we're back to reality. ;) And I keep forgetting what day it is. I think i will finally be back to "normal" after Sunday and I start a new week.

And while we're asking questions..."What time is it?" I don't know why this hour time change has made such a huge difference but it has. It's dark earlier which makes me tired earlier and my boys crabby earlier. We really struggled at home with them after they were at Grandma's house but I think we figured out it's the time change more than anything. Last night and tonight we fed them at 4:30p (which to their little bodies is more like 5:30p) and they went to bed by 5:45p and were asleep by 6:30p. Crazy!! We hardly know what to do with ourselves. Tonight we started a movie at 7p and were done with it before 9p. Now, I'm getting ready for bed. ;) That hour makes a big difference.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Heaven Party - with pictures

On October 8th, we had a wonderful time celebrating Elihu's Homecoming. We were really blessed by nice weather, wonderful friends, and a worshipful spirit. We are thankful for our little Elihu Siloam and feel so blessed by God to know that he is in heaven.

More Than a Name: Elihu Siloam
Planning
Planning: Music
Planning: Cake
Planning: Balloons


Thank you so much for your prayers during that hard week and for your prayers on a very difficult day. There were tears of sadness and of joy. We spent a wonderful morning taking family pictures and our photographer stayed to take pictures of our service. Here are some moments from the day.
  

 
 
 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

On My Own: Maintenance

So what do I do now that I've completed my 9-week challenge at Goals in Motion and will not be continuing with their maintenance program?


1. Walk everyday - That's easy right now because the weather is nice. I'm sure it will get more difficult to want to walk when it's cold and snowy. But for right now it's beautiful and the boys and I are enjoying the outdoors.
2. Do a workout video 5-6 days a week - The ones that we own are Jillian Michaels 30-Day Shred, The Biggest Loser Workout, The Biggest Loser Last Chance Workout, Jillian Michaels No More Trouble Zones.
3. Eat - This is probably the hardest for me. I get too busy and forget to eat and then in the evening I'm hungry. So I need to remind myself to eat breakfast and a snack in the morning. Otherwise I pass on the opportunity to boost my metabolism right away in the morning. I want to fuel my body so it can burn. ;)
4. Protein 5-6 times a day - This was a struggle during the challenge because I like variety and feel like I'm always eating the same things. My favorite ways to get extra protein throughout the day: protein shakes, protein bars, cottage cheese, almonds, peanut butter, eggs, chicken.
5. No carbs after 3-4p - Again, this was a challenge during the challenge but I found myself feeling better during the early morning workout if I ate some protein in the evening. Although, popcorn or dry cereal would be my first choice for an evening snack. And not having carbs at dinner has been an adjustment for my family. More salads less bread, rice and mashed potatoes. We still eat those things, just earlier in the day.

I've lost about 5 pounds since the end of my challenge but I don't know if it's fat or muscle that I've lost. I'm afraid that it's muscle. It's harder to stay motivated on my own. I really liked the class environment and working out to a video at home is hard to keep up. But I'm trying and doing pretty well. Hopefully I will get to my goal weight (140lbs) and maybe less. ;)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Goals In Motion: Finale

My 9-week "boot camp" at Goals In Motion is over! And I have to say that I'm disappointed that it's over. I thought I would be relieved. ;)

I was getting very discouraged because I wasn't seeing the scale move. I felt disappointment every time I got on the scale...1 lb here, 1 lb there. It was hard to know that I wasn't "losing weight." I kept telling myself that muscle weighs more than fat, but as a woman I wanted to see that scale move.

I did feel strong, though. I loved the resistance training more than the kickboxing (cardio was never my thing). And I was getting good at it. I loved starting a new "level" and thinking I was never going to be able to do something...squat with 50 lbs, do a full pike on a balance ball, wall-sit with 20lb on my lap (and have it be more than tolerable). I had great coaches who nudged me to try more weight or change colors of bands or even use two bands. They were so supportive and not pushy at all, just very encouraging. It was fun.

Don't get me wrong, kickboxing was fun too. My goal was to be able to kick a bag over and I did it! And it was awesome!! I liked feeling like I knew what I was doing (although there's still one kick that I'm not very good at) and hitting that bag did feel good most days. And it was fun to see what the different instructors would do. It was different every time and I really enjoyed that. I also noticed that in my last 3 weeks my thoughts during my workout changed. I was no longer focusing on remembering to breath, how much time is left, that I feel sick, I might throw-up, that I can't catch my breath, that this weight is heavy, how much time is left, I can't get my leg up that high to kick, I'm tired, and how much time was left. I was instead thinking of what to make for dinner, when was the last time I got my hair colored, where did I put that library book, wonder if I can stop by Wal-Mart and run errands before heading home, what was on my Wal-Mart list, why are people here already, is it 5:45 already? My brain was no longer just trying to keep my body working it was actually thinking. ;) It's just a little sign that my body was working hard and I wasn't having to use my brain power to keep it going.

Alright, here are my stats:

Body Weight
initial: 167
final: 155.8 (today I'm at 150.2)

Body Comp
initial: 32.9%
final: 30.2%

Sit Ups (full)
initial: 10
final: 32

Push Ups (modified)
initial: 30
final: 56

Sit and Reach
initial: 17in
final: 21.75

Mile Run
initial: 13:51 minutes
final: 11:55 minutes (which is better than high school)

Before I reveal my pictures, I wanted to tell you that I got third place for overall body change! So even though I didn't see the scale change much, my body changed. I would never have guessed that I would get third place and wish I would've kicked it harder the last few weeks and maybe I would've gotten first. :) I just never thought that I would even place. There were people in my challenge who lost 26 pounds and decreased their body fat by 6% so I didn't think that I would win anything. I was very shocked to hear them call my name. Ok, here they are:


Where I see the most change is probably my face, chin and neck. Also, I don't have as much fat under my right armpit. And my legs look smoother. The belly is another difference. There's actual muscle showing and less/no love handles.



Obviously the belly has changed and I didn't see it when I looked in the mirror but I can really see it in the pictures. I have ab muscles, granted it's no 6-pack but I don't have to look too far to see muscle instead of a belly. Again, my legs are smoother and I have only 1 chin and a neck. Someone said my chest looked perkier, but I think smaller would be more accurate. Why do women lose weight there first?



This is probably my favorite pose. I know I will never have a dancer's body (long, lean) because I know that I'm more of a muscular build. And I love seeing how smooth the back of my legs are. Yay!! Also my shoulders are more toned and you don't see any back fat. My bottom is smaller and my shorts are no longer skin tight.

It was a great 9-weeks. We're planning on saving some of our (hopefully) tax return money so that next year I can join a maintenance challenge (FYI: they do have payment plans if you want to continue after your initial nine weeks). Goals in Motion is a lot of fun. The staff is so encouraging and I can't say enough positives about the workouts themselves. They're great and they're a lot of fun. I have to say that Jeff was probably my favorite instructor because he would usually choose classic rock to work out to. Makes it more fun when you can sing along. Thanks to all of you who supported and encouraged me (Wendi, Karen, April, Kim). You made this process a lot of fun!! Thanks!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Planning: Balloons (Part 4)

(You can start reading the series here: Planning (Part 1), Planning: Picking the Music (Part 2), Planning: Cake (Part 3).)

Ok, now that I've been Debbie Downer all week I thought I'd talk about the balloons as my final post on planning the memorial service/heaven party for our son, Elihu Siloam.

I knew I wanted balloons to be released and was inspired by Denise to do just that. And we will make that (along with the cake) a yearly celebration for our son Elihu. But this time I wanted it to be especially meaningful. I wanted to play a song while we let our balloons float into the sky and I had heard the song Fly by Celine Dion when I was in high school and fell in love with it. I just never thought that it would have so much meaning for me.

We got multicolored balloons and everyone (even the littles) held on to the string of that balloon until they were prompted to let them fly as a gift to our son in Heaven. I listened to the words of the song holding on to my balloon and I didn't want to let go. I even heard myself say "I don't want to let go. This is so hard." But I knew I had to let go. And what hurt was the reality of the symbolism of letting that balloon go - letting my son go. Really letting him go. I was brought out of my grief by laughs and shouts of joy as the littles yelled excitedly as the balloons disappeared into the bright blue sky. "There goes your balloon." "Oh look, there's my balloon." "They are flying so high." It was really sweet and innocent. I'm letting my son go and I'm hearing them rejoice. It was a bittersweet moment. Something that I will always carry with me. Letting my son go. Really doing it. Finally releasing him back into God's hands. My Elihu.

Fly
Celine Dion

Fly, fly little wing
Fly beyond imagining
The softest cloud, the whitest dove
Upon the wind of heaven's love
Past the planets and the stars
Leave this lonely world of ours
Escape the sorrow and the pain
And fly again

Fly, fly precious one
Your endless journey has begun
Take your gentle happiness
Far too beautiful for this
Cross over to the other shore
There is peace forevermore
But hold this mem'ry bittersweet
Until we meet

Fly, fly do not fear
Don't waste a breath, don't shed a tear
Your heart is pure, your soul is free
Be on your way, don't wait for me
Above the universe you'll climb
On beyond the hands of time
The moon will rise, the sun will set
But I won't forget

Fly, fly little wing
Fly where only angels sing
Fly away, the time is right
Go now, find the light







Thursday, October 14, 2010

Planning: Cake (Part 3)

(You can start reading this series here: Planning (Part 1) and Planning: Picking the Music (Part 2).)

We wanted Elihu's memorial service to be a celebration of his Homecoming and of our hope that some day we will be celebrated as we return Home to Jesus' arms. So we wanted cake and balloons. That's what really signifies a celebration at our house. We have cake and balloons at every birthday party and I knew that I wanted the same for Elihu's Homecoming party. And that's what we did. But as with most things dealing with our loss it was not easy.

I took the boys along with me to the grocery store to pick out a cake. I didn't want to call and order one because I didn't want to have to spell his name and have them ask me questions. So we went to the bakery and saw all the pre-made cakes. I like white cake and white frosting and there were only a few of those left. I looked around for cupcakes because then I wouldn't have to talk to anyone but there were no cupcakes. Which I thought was really stupid.

My oldest wanted me to pick a cake that was very colorful and had plastic balloons poking out the top. But it looked too happy. It kinda made me sick. I stared at those cakes for a long time while many wonderful helpful staff asked me if I needed help and I kept telling them that I was just looking. Meanwhile my 2 and 4 year-old were growing restless in the shopping cart. I finally picked up a cake with white frosting and green trim. Then I had to wait to ask to put Elihu's name on it. She asked me what I wanted written on the cake and I was thinking "Baby of Mine - Elihu Siloam." But I couldn't bring myself to say the words out loud. I just said "Elihu" and then spelled it several times so she got it right. My heart was aching as she handed me this plain cake with only his name on it written in bright green. I was weeping inside as I put the cake in my cart and headed to the checkout. I couldn't say the words "Baby of Mine" because it would be too real. To be picking out a cake for my dead son. I couldn't bear it so I kept those words hidden in my heart.

I thought the cake was too plain and wanted the cake to have a little bit of joy so I thought "sprinkles!" We went to the baking aisle and the selection of sprinkles was minimal so we went down the block to our local hobby store. Inside the boys and I wandered to the baking aisle/birthday party aisle/party aisle. And I stared at those sprinkles for at least 25 minutes. My boys were so well-behaved and I am so grateful for that. Because, if any of you know them, they are not lacking in the energy department. I meandered through the party aisles multiple times looking for the "right" sprinkles for my cake. But I didn't find the "your baby died" party aisle. There were no angel sprinkles. There were plenty of baby bottles, and pacifiers, and pink and blue sprinkles. There were happy birthday sprinkles and birthday toppings. More sprinkles and party favors for a pirate party, a luau, a princess party, a boy ball party... But nothing that says "my baby died and I am terrible grieved." I cried and cried and my boys kept giving me their helpful suggestions of what to put on Elihu's cake. I think the older one knew why I was crying. He was so sweet with his suggestions like he just wanted to help make mom feel better.

I finally picked out a generic bottle of colored dots and went to the check-out counter. The check out girl was so slow as I stood there with my bottle of sprinkles and a tear-stained, red, puffy face. I just wanted to get out of there! But it was as if time stopped as that girl checked out over $150 worth-of brick-brack for a middle-aged woman. I was irritated. I was mad. I was frustrated. I was embarrassed. But mostly I was sad. So sad because this was reality. It was becoming very real that we were to have a Heaven celebration for a child that I had never met. It was too real. Too real to be standing in that line with tears streaming down my face crying over a bottle of sprinkles. Crying over my dead, faceless son.

I got home with my boys. They helped me pick out all the pink and purple sprinkles from my bottle (and I let them eat them they ate them) as I topped Elihu's cake with yellow, green, blue, and orange sprinkles. And it looked like a happy little cake. Almost too happy. But at the same time too plain. No personality because I will never know his personality. I wondered to myself "What he would pick for his birthday cake? Will it always be a plain-too-happy-not-enough-personality cake?" We put the cake in the fridge and I cried as I shut the door knowing the fridge was cold and dark. Elihu's cake in my fridge surrounded by half-empty milk jugs, containers of leftovers, sippy-cups of juice, bottles of ketchup - all small symbols of our life. And there sat Elihu's lonely cake.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Planning: Picking the Music (Part 2)

Read Planning (Part 1) here.

Picking out music was one of the hardest things to do in planning a memorial service for our son. Worship with music is something that is dear to my heart. It's one of my favorite ways to express my relationship with God and to thank Him for who He is and what He's done. Normally I really enjoy pondering the words of worship music but this was really hard on my heart. And considering that my husband was super busy with youth ministry and seminary classes I knew it would be my responsibility. In the end, after a hard afternoon and evening reading lyrics and listening to music, my husband helped me pick the final songs.

I knew that I wanted this time to be a hopeful time. A time of celebration of our Elihu's short life, his Homecoming, and our faith that we would join him one day in heaven. But I also wanted it to be thoughtful and a time of reflection. Those are some hard things to combine but we really prayed over it and these are the songs we chose:


How Can I Keep From Singing 
Chris Tomlin

There is an endless song
Echoes in my soul
I hear the music ring

And though the storms may come
I am holding on
To the rock I cling

Chorus:
How can I keep from singing Your praise
How can I ever say enough
How amazing is Your love
How can I keep from shouting Your name
I know I am loved by the King
And it makes my heart want to sing

I will lift my eyes
In the darkest night
For I know my Savior lives

And I will walk with You
Knowing You'll see me through
And sing the songs You give
(Chorus)

I can sing in the troubled times
Sing when I win
I can sing when I lose my step
And fall down again
I can sing 'cause You pick me up
Sing 'cause You're there
I can sing 'cause You hear me, Lord
When I call to You in prayer
I can sing with my last breath
Sing for I know
That I'll sing with the angels
And the saints around the throne
(Chorus)



This song had a lot of meaning for me and my husband. It's hard to sing through the troubled times, when we lose our steps. Thankfully the Spirit prays on our behalf when we have no words to express our hurt, our pain, our joy, our sorrow, our hopefulness, our faith when we are grieving and going through times of depression. But deep down inside I knew that even through all the tears, crying out, anger that God was with me. I wasn't losing my faith through my grief I was losing my child. And today I can say out loud the words of this song and really mean them even though tears accompany the words.





Call to Me
Seeds of Courage

Chorus:
Call to me and I will answer you
Call to me and I will answer you
And tell you great and unsearchable things
And tell you great and unsearchable things
you do not know
Call to me
(repeat 3x)

Shout it out now, hallelujah
Shout it out now, hallelujah
Shout it out now, hallelujah
Shout it out now, hallelujah
Sha-la-la-la-la-la-la-la
(Chorus)



I am thankful for the promises in Jeremiah 33:3. That He hears us and will answers us. And thankfully He did that for me especially concerning our son's name. It was a blessing to have God speak so directly to me. (The music and lyrics from the Seeds CD collections are priceless. They are designed to instill Biblical seeds in your children's hearts as they memorize Scripture to music. Kinda cool.)




What a Day That Will Be
Bart Millard

There is coming a day when no heartaches shall come,
No more clouds in the sky, no more tears to dim the eye;
All is peace forevermore on that happy golden shore,
What a day, glorious day that will be!

Chorus:
What a day that will be when my Jesus I shall see,
And I look upon His face the One who saved me by His grace;
When He takes me by the hand and leads me thro' the promised Land,
What a day, glorious day that will be!

There'll be no sorrow there no more burdens to bear,
No more sickness, no more pain, no more parting over there;
And forever I will be with the One who died for me,
What a day, glorious day that will be.
(Chorus)

When the trump begins to sound we will then be Heaven bound
We'll meet Jesus in the sky in the twinkling of an eye;
When He takes me by the hand and leads me thro' the promised Land,
What a day, glorious day that will be!
(Chorus)

I knew I wanted at least one hymn. I studied the words of several hymns and enjoyed looking up Scripture and really pondering the words of each song. I picked What a Day That Will Be because it spoke so hopefully of our Homecoming in heaven. I feel so blessed to know that our heartaches will be no more, our tears will be no more that one day we will be heaven bound and we will embrace our son. It was hard to find the right music for this song. The words and promises of this song were very important to me but so was the mood of our celebration. Most of the recordings I heard were very funeralesque and I did not want to go that route. I wanted the music to be representative of the joyful promises of the song and I found Bart Millard's Hymned Again CD online and my husband already had the CD in his office. It was perfect. We had the words and the tempo that we thought best got our message across.



Our God Is a Great Big God
Vineyard Records

Chorus:
Our God is a great big God,
Our God is a great big God,
And He holds us in His hands.

He's higher than a skyscraper,
He's deeper than a submarine.
He's wider than the universe,
And beyond my wildest dreams.
He's known me and He's loved me
Since before the world began;
How wonderful to be a part of God's amazing plan.
(Chorus)
 
This is a favorite song of our boys and I love the lines "He's known me and He's loved me since before the world began; How wonderful to be a part of God's amazing plan." It's a blessing to sing the promises that come from God's Word even when they are hard to understand. (We received this song on a CD mix from a friend. Vineyard Records Great Big God series has some great music that my boys really enjoy - and I don't find annoying :) - and I'm sure your children will too.)


There were many other songs that I would have enjoyed singing and playing at Elihu's heaven party/memorial service but I am so glad that these are the ones we chose. I do have a file, however, of all the songs that I studied in preparation for the service. I printed them out and put them in a special box with our son's keepsakes.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

More Than a Name: Elihu Siloam


We started calling our baby 'bud' after an email from my husband's Gramma. 
That's why I put the flower and buds on the program.


On October 8, 2010 we had a Heaven Party/memorial service for our third son, Elihu Siloam. The image above was the program I made for the service. Tomorrow I will talk about the music we chose but first I wanted to share with you God's Gift of a Name because it was truly a blessing. Straight-talk from my Creator. From Elihu's Creator.

Here's what my husband and I shared that morning:


Service Notes for Elihu Siloam
October 8, 2010

(worship song: How Can I Keep from Singing Your Praise)
Welcome (by my husband):
We want to thank you so much for joining us today at the park as we honor our little boy with a memorial service. Later we will release balloons and watch them drift into the sky hoping with a childlike faith that someday we will arrive Home to embrace our son (and brother). As we release them we will delight in Elihu (yep, that’s his name) and in God’s mysterious ways. We look back at Elihu’s short life and hope forward until that magnificent day when we all finally make it Home.

C.S. Lewis says, "I am a soul, I have a body." Oh, how wonderful God's mysterious ways! I marvel at the REALITY that when my body reaches its finish line here, my soul will not. My end will really be my beginning! Just like Elihu’s.

(prayer for the service)


God's Gift of a Name (from me):
A few weeks ago I got on the computer to look at baby names because I really wanted our son to have a name. When my husband asked me what I was doing I was embarrassed and said, “nothing.” I was afraid that he would think I was being dumb for wanting to name a child we had never seen. I wanted our son’s name to have true meaning. We got Asher’s name from Deuteronomy 33 and really loved how God blessed Asher in the Bible. And in Numbers 25 Phineas also received a blessing from God that we loved. So I wanted this little boy to have a name with special meaning. Although I found some really cool meanings the names were a little too different. Until I found:

אֶלִיהוּא ‘Elihu’    *Hebrew – “my God is Yahweh”

I knew that was his name. And I definitely got that confirmation the next night in bed. I told my husband earlier that evening that I wanted to name our son Elihu and told him the meaning of the name. He told me that he liked it and didn’t think it was stupid that I wanted him to have a name. As I was getting into bed that evening I grabbed my library book, Disappointment with God by Philip Yancey. I wasn’t ready to really read the book but I thought I’d open it to a chapter and start reading to get an idea of what to expect. And I opened it to Chapter 25 and Mr. Yancey called Elihu a brash young man who ridicules Job’s desire for a visit from God.
“Do you think God cares about a puny creature like you? Do you imagine that the Almighty God, the Maker of the Universe, will deign to visit earth and meet with you in person? Does he owe you some kind of explanation? Get serious, Job!” Then a storm draws near and a Voice like no other booms out. God himself has arrived on the scene and has come to reply to Job’s accusations of unfairness.

God’s “reply” [to Job’s questions], in fact, consists of more questions than answers. He doesn’t address their debate on the problem with pain, he plunges instead into a magnificent verbal tour of the natural world. He seems to guide Job through a private gallery of his favorite works, his own creation.

In his book Wishful Thinking, Fredrick Buechner sums up God’s speech. “God doesn’t explain. He explodes. He asks Job who he thinks he is anyway…God doesn’t reveal his grand design. He reveals himself.” The message behind the splendid poetry boils down to this: Until you know a little more about running the physical universe, Job, don’t tell me how to run the moral universe.

“Why are you treating me so unfairly, God?” Job has whined throughout the book. “Put yourself in my place.”

“NO!!!” God thunders in reply. “You put yourself in my place! Until you can offer lessons on how to make the sun come up each day, or where to scatter lightning bolts, or how to design a hippopotamus, don’t judge how I run the world. Just shut up and listen.” (pg 212-213)

I was shocked. I wasn’t expecting to hear so directly from God. The fact that I had picked that specific name and my husband agreed and then I read the opening to the chapter was amazing. A small miracle. I really felt like God was speaking to me. That He had brought the name Elihu to my mind and heart and then prepared to tell me His Truths.

Last weekend at an Anne Graham-Lotz conference (AGL) she asked us “How do you know you are hearing God’s Voice?” And this is what she said:

1. God’s Voice is Biblical – After reading the opening to Chapter 25 in Disappointment with God I was prompted to go to my Bible to find out who this Elihu was and what he had to say to Job.

In Job 32:1-9 Elihu talks about how wisdom doesn’t come from age it comes from the spirit in a man and Elihu has held his tongue long enough. He wanted to speak Truth to Job and his friends about the power and sovereignty of God.

2. God’s Voice is Powerful – First God used Elihu’s words in Job to chastise me. I pictured my little Elihu (a young boy) talking to me – “Mom, why are you questioning God? The God who loves you? The God who loves me? Who created me? Who knew me before one of my days came to be?” God humbled me with His words. How could I question God’s love for me and His love for my child?

Job 33:12-13 tells me that God is greater than I am; why do I complain to Him?

And in Job 34:10, 12 I am told that it is unthinkable to assume that God would do wrong, that the Almighty would pervert justice.

Job 34:26-Job 37 goes on to show God’s mighty power through a storm and proclaim His glory through His creation.

3. God’s Voice is Personal – Then God used Elihu’s words to Job to comfort me. Job 33:4 says “The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” So even though our little boy did not breathe the air of this earth, it was the breath of the Almighty that gave him life. God did care about my baby boy. God gave Elihu his short little life. He is loved. He’s in heaven basking in God’s glory. He was fearfully and wonderfully made – and now I really know that full well. I needed God to be direct with me and He was gracious enough to do that. Even though I know the words of Psalm 139 it wasn’t specific enough for me. But in God’s mercy He gave. me. specific. He heard the cries of my heart. And although my questions weren’t answered I was at peace. I have humbly come to accept His love and grace through this trial.



And now for Elihu’s middle name…

I had been questioning God: Why did this happen? What’s Your plan? What did I do wrong? Am I being punished? But I was reminded this past weekend at AGL that God doesn’t work that way. Jesus talks about this in John 9:1-3
1As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"

3"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”
This is not about me (as are most things). And I now know that God sent us this child so that His work and glory might be displayed in his little life, in my life, in Jonathan’s life, in the lives of our sons.

Then Jesus spit in the dirt and rubbed the mud on the blind man’s eyes and had him wash in the pool of Siloam and he was healed – he could see. And I too was blind and God used this experience to open my eyes. My big lesson: to know that a relationship with Jesus is personal. That he cares for me specifically, not generally.

So that’s why we are giving Elihu the middle name of Siloam (one who has been sent) because I truly believe that God sent Elihu to open my eyes – to humble me before God, to cause me to bend to His will, and ultimately to cast my anxiety on Him because He really does care for me and He cares for my Elihu Siloam.


(prayer of thanks for Elihu Siloam)

(start song Fly; hand out balloons; release balloons)

(worship songs: Call to Me; What a Day That Will Be; Great Big God)


I planned on having my husband read Psalm 139 but after we released the balloons we just listened to worship music and danced around with our kids watching the balloons drift into the sky. Then we gathered for cake. To celebrate Elihu's Homecoming in heaven.

That's how we celebrated little Elihu's life. We asked a former student, now professional photographer, to come and take family pictures prior to the service and to stick around to take pictures during and after our service and Heaven party so my husband would be able to be truly present in the moment instead of focusing on pictures (which he has a tendency to do). ;) We haven't seen all the pictures yet but we are so thankful that Matt could come and take pictures of this special day for us. (I plan on posting some of them as I am able - our photographer is now working on a cruise for 5 months so we'll see how long it takes.) ;)


PS. Thank you to Denise who helped me find the words to begin such a meaningful service for our son and who's encouragement made this celebration possible.
PPS. I never did read Disappointment with God. ;)

Here's more on the Planning (Part 1) of our service.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Planning (Part 1)

October 8, 2010 was to be the due date for our third child - another little boy. But that's not what God had planned for us.

My husband and I didn't want the day to go by without stopping to recognize that this was the day we were to have our third son. We knew we wanted to spend some time together as a family but were unsure as to inviting others into this intimate time. I know that my heart heals as I open it to the love and support of friends and family but it does not come naturally. I need to listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in my life and not my own desires or fears. So we invited a few special friends to spend the morning with us.

Hi Everyone ~

This Friday would have been our due date. But God had different plans. Instead of celebrating the birth of a baby we want to look back and hope forward. Look back at the short life of our son and hope forward to the day we will finally embrace him in heaven.

So we are having a party. ;) And you are invited to join us on Friday, October 8 at 10am out at the park. We will have a short ceremony for our son to talk about how we decided on what to name him, sing praises to our God, and send some balloons up to our son in heaven. And there will be cake. ;)

You are all special people in our lives and we want to share this day with you.
Love ~
Jonathan and Jessica


I knew it was going to be difficult but it was time for me to plan for my son's memorial service (heaven party) even though we had never met him.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Random

Does anyone have any tips to get red fingernail polish out of carpet? I'd appreciate any suggestions: do's or don'ts. Thanks!

Monday, October 4, 2010

More from Molly

I've had tabs up from Molly Piper's blog for a long time. But I haven't been able to blog about them so I'm just going to list them here and then see if I feel like blogging about them later. I would encourage you to read them as they have been some kind of comfort to me. And I wanted to get them in my archives for future reference. Thanks and enjoy the links.

Brokenhearted Love: Give It, Live It.

I Hope? Who, Me?

Why I Didn't Blog My Pregnancy: Time Was Slipping Away

Why I Didn't Blog My Pregnancy: Fear

We used to be happy people...I even have proof.

Do you want to die this Mother's Day?

What does grief look like at 17 months?

Remembering Our One-Year-Old

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Book Review: About What Was Lost

About What Was Lost is a book edited by Jessica Berger Gross. This book is a compilation of stories from 20 women who have dealt with miscarriage including the editor. Some of these women are "notable" writers such as Pam Huston, Joyce Maynard, Caroline Leavitt, Susanna Sonnenberg, and Juilanna Baggott, among others. But I didn't know any of the authors.

This was a hard book to read. I did finish it but admit to skimming a lot at the end. I don't believe that any of the authors are believers and most of them have very liberal viewpoints. But they lost babies just like I lost my baby so I tried to take that into consideration when reading the book. Some of their thoughts rang true to my grief-process:

Caroline Leavitt
But the yearning, the grief, never totally goes away. It's there under the daily happiness, the joy of a husband and another child. I marked off that baby's birthday every year. I grieve for that little soul. And sometimes I apologize to it, not because I believe I'm responsible, but because it never got to live. It never go the chance to be a real person. We never got to really know each other. It wasn't just the death of a baby, it was the death of hope, "The thing with feathers," as Emily Dickinson said, and it - and I - never had a chance to soar.
I think this hit home for me because, like with most losses, I won't forget. It will never really go away although there will be more and more days that I won't think about it - it will never go away. I do feel like my baby never got to be a real person and I feel that way more about other people's view not my own. It wasn't real to other people so was it really real? And I did lose hope. Honestly, I am scared to hope. But I've been blessed with a gift of clarity from God (I will talk about that closer to the due date of our baby) that has put peace back in my heart.


Susanna Sonnenberg
Miscarriage was the shadow to a brightly lit subject. People didn't like to talk about shadows. They liked to talk about hope, and the unraveled pregnancy had no language, wasn't suitable for discussion.
When I lost my baby, I did feel like I was living in the shadows. In the shadows of mothers who were still pregnant. Who had life inside of them. I felt as though people didn't want me to talk about it because I was casting a deep dark scary shadow over their brightest light. And so I didn't. I isolated myself because I didn't want to be that shadow. And that isolation caused my days to grow so dark.
I felt dismal with isolation. An acquaintance approached me and said she'd heard from a friend. She said, "I'm so sorry. We've all been there." We. Our world, our important world of unnameable injuries. She and I had never had much to say to each other, except for prickly social frivolities, but now she seemed essential, a compatriot. I let her hug me. In the years after that day, if I saw her crossing a street or waiting ahead of me in a line, it was like getting a glimpse of a favorite teacher or aunt.
Through that horrible isolation women who have gone through a loss like this before me were really the only ones that could comfort me. They were the only ones who knew the grief that I was experiencing. They were the only ones who's words really meant anything and the only words that could offer any hope or comfort. Some of these women were strangers and some were just acquaintances and they had all carried a weight of grief. And that comradery really helped me in my darkest times. Just knowing that I really wasn't alone. And then there's Esther, a dear sister in Christ. She lost her baby the same time that I lost mine and we were both due a week apart. I would never have known Esther if we didn't lose our babies. I feel like God gave her to me as His light. We've been able to be brutally honest with our feelings, with our loss, with our weaknesses and our strengths. We've been so blessed to have each other through this awful time. I thank God for her every day. God shows His goodness in such strange ways.


Emily Bazelon and Dahlia Lithwick:
"My Own Private Elba," I called it, as I lay in bed after my D&C, wondering why I was being doubly punished: first by the death of this first baby we already loved so desperately, and then by all the friends and realatives working so hard to erase all traces of it. I think I agree with you that one needn't "got through it to get it." But I also suspect that, with a handful of shining exceptions, the people who best knew how to be with us through all the had endured it.
I, too, had my exceptions - women who haven't gone through a miscarriage but have given me so much love and support.

First there is Rachel (her acts of support and compassion have been so unexpected). A new mother herself with a new little boy. She has been so loving and supportive during these long months of grief. She has written me emails just to say she is praying or thinking of me. She sent a card with a gift card to a restaurant and told us she knew the due date was coming up and that we deserved a night out. This young mother who is basking in the joy of her son has been so wonderful and supportive to me - and I never saw it coming. She hasn't offered any platitudes or Bible verses that were supposed to make me feel better. She offered prayers and let me know that she didn't forget.

Then there's Kristin. She has been so loving and kind to me through her own pregnancy. I think it helps that we've known each other for a long time and that I know she has the most empathetic, compassionate heart. But she's been able to creep into the shadows and offer a little of her light to me in my darkest times. And I am so grateful for that bravery as it's hard to go into the shadows (that scary minefield) for your friend.

(There were a handful of other women that have supported me when they have not experienced this type of loss and I am grateful for them all. Rachel and Kristin have just been in my mind a lot lately.)

And then there are the people who have disappointed me. They have been through the loss of an unborn child but haven't been open enough to realize that we all handle loss differently. That we can't compare loss stories - who's is the worst? who is hurting most? who has been the most unfortunate? We can only share our stories and offer love and hope to each other. Encouragement and honesty. No comparing allowed.



There were plenty of times I could relate to the women in the book. But something that I wasn't expecting was how many of them had had abortions prior to their miscarriage. I have to say it was enlightening and haunting at the same time.

It was interesting to hear how many of them were still grieving their aborted babies. That some of them were pressured into abortion by their husbands. That some of them didn't realize the grief from their abortion until their miscarriage and then they grieved two little souls. And in the process these self-called feminist pro-choice women had some things to consider:
Pro-choice women have trained themselves to think that life begins at viability; when we miscarry, we're disturbed to find ourselves mourning a child rather than a mass of developing cells. Feminists are generally much more comfortable celebrating happy outcomes than they are grieving for a lost fetus, for fear of acknowledging its personhood.(Emily Brazelon)
I found this to be an very interesting point. That we grieve our children not a mass of cells or even a fetus. We grieve a child - the hopes and dreams of who they might become. As Dahlia Lithwick states it [historically women don't talk about miscarriage whether they are pro-choice or pro-life]. It's a lonely road and it's important for us to open that door and share (without judgment) so that we can be healed. So that God can use us to breath hope into another through Jesus Christ.

This book was very interesting and I related to a lot of what the women talked about when it came to the loss of their child. But it was hard to hear about all the abortions that they had. It was really hard after losing a "planned" pregnancy to hear of women just giving that gift away, of ending their pregnancies when I so desperately wanted mine. I don't know that I would recommend this book but it was an interesting read. It made me want to write a book like this except from a Christian perspective. To compile our stories so that other believing women would not feel alone through their grief. Just something to think about.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Healing Heart

As some of you remember from my birthday post, I have set some goals for my 30th (which is actually my 31st) year of life. I want to do some things that I've never done and a fitness boot camp was one of them...notice I said WAS.

That's right! I've finished my 9-week challenge and I've seen some amazing results -which will be revealed later this week. But that's not why I'm writing this post.

I started the Fitness Boot Camp for several reasons:

1. I've never done it before and it's on my list.
2. I wanted to be in better shape.
3. I needed a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

After losing our baby I went through a period of pretty rough depression. I have two young boys that I needed to care for daily, and I did that. I got up in the morning and I cared for them. But I did that while I was in my pajamas all day. I did that while crying at the drop of a hat. I did that with an open wound. I did that while questioning God's reason for my loss and wondering if it was my fault. I did it with guilt over my responsibility (if there was any) in losing my baby. I cared for my boys with all the strength that I had - which wasn't much. I'm so thankful that I have a wonderful husband who supported me through all of this (by cooking, cleaning, showing me grace, loving me in such a special way). And it's hard to admit that the days were so dark.

A few weeks before my birthday my husband asked me if I'd like to join a fitness boot camp. He'd heard me talk about my birthday list and wanted to encourage me in that. I told him that I needed to think about it. Then I talked to some friends at church that had done Goals In Motion. I gave them lots of excuses of why I wouldn't be able to join the 9-week challenge but I think I was just scared.

It had been a long time since I had really done something for myself. As mothers we are so used to sacrificing our time, our schedules, our comfort, our sleep, our bodies, our minds, our hearts to our children and not take time for ourselves. I felt guilty for the cost of the program and didn't think that I was worth that. We had money saved up and my husband wanted to give this to me as a gift. So I accepted the challenge and knew that the cost of the program alone would keep me feeling guilty motivated enough to keep going.

I'd say the hardest parts of the program were getting up at 4:30a to be at the gym by 5a, eating enough throughout the day, and not eating carbs after 3p. And I can't say that I was very disciplined with my eating. I was really strict at the beginning and got a little more relaxed at the end - which isn't a good idea.

I started seeing results and noticed my clothes fitting looser and that I was losing my double chin and gaining a neck. ;) I was happy with the changes but thought I would feel better. I thought that seeing my body change would make me happy. I thought it would make me feel good again, but I wasn't and it didn't.

I was still sad. Still mourning. Still questioning. My body may have started to look better, but my heart was still bleeding and I was still nursing an open painful wound. All the kick-boxing and beating that bag was not helping my heart like I thought it would. All the weight-lifting and doing things that I never thought I'd be able to do was exciting and encouraging but it wasn't healing.

I think that it's important to realize that making yourself get out of bed, that working out regularly, that smiling and holding your tongue, are all ways to survive grief and make it through a whole, albeit changed, person. But that's not what was healing to me. Being on my blog talking about my loss, humbling myself enough to ask for prayer, reaching out to friends and family to tell them where my heart is at. Being real with people and sharing my thoughts and feelings was what I found to be healing to me. And it's not easy.

I learned quickly whom I could trust. I learned that some people are better listeners and some are better talkers. I learned that you will get burned in the process and not everyone is understanding. I learned that the people who had gone through this type of loss (even if they were strangers) were the only ones who really understood, who really had advice and stories that I wanted to hear, who I could really listen to talk about God's promises and God's love. I couldn't stand to hear someone compare my baby's death to the death of a grandparent or an elderly parent. I couldn't stand to hear people quote Scripture about God's plans and His promises for His children. So in the process of healing there is a fine line - learning how to guard my heart but not isolate myself. But when I wasn't talking about my loss, when I wasn't asking for prayer that's when my heart and mind took it's deepest dive into the valley.

All this is to say that I did survive fitness boot camp and it was a great encouragement (and success) but it's not the thing that healed my heart. Being with the people of God and humbling myself enough to talk about my loss and ask for prayer is what is healing my heart.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Prayer Request

I'm asking you to be praying for a dear friend who just found out today that her baby died inutero. She was 12 weeks along and really needs prayer right now. I hated to hear the hurt in her voice as we talked over the phone this afternoon. I wish she didn't have to go through this hurt. And pray that I can be as supportive as she needs me to be. I'm still grieving my loss and I want to love her like she needs to be loved right now. Please pray that God can use these awful experiences to draw us closer to Him and each other. Thanks.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Dealing with Depression

It took me a long time to admit that I was depressed. And maybe I still am. I'm still grieving the loss of our baby, and again, as the due date approaches it will get increasingly difficult.

I'm not really angry anymore although I do have spouts of anger. It's not a constant. And I'm not really feeling jealousy like I was when I saw pregnant and new moms. Although sometimes it still hurts.

I'm just sad. A sadness that exhausts my body. Exhausts my mind. I think I've been holding a lot in because I want to look good on the outside. I want to look like I have it together and that I'm not hurting so much inside. The pain isn't fresh anymore but the wound is still open. The emotions aren't such a shock. They've just become a part of me. And that's sad in itself.


Here's an article on dealing with the emotions after a miscarriage (or losing an unborn baby):

From Women's Health Resource
The greatest contributor to emotional reaction is that a woman looks at the early pregnancy as part of herself and when it is lost, there is an emptiness, searching and incompleteness feeling because the fetus is not viewed as a separate being. Also, the connection to the fetus is much stronger for the woman than for her partner and there is a great difference in the intensity of the grieving process between the mother and father. A woman becomes isolated because of this and often has no emotional support for her feelings. Even the usual social rituals of a death notice, a funeral, and friends offering sympathy are absent because very few people usually know of the event. This prevents accepting the reality of the loss. If there was any ambivalence about the pregnancy in the first place guilt becomes a major component of the grieving process.

Workers is this field have identified four tasks to be accomplished to work through the grieving process in a psychologically constructive way. The general time it takes is as much as 12-18 months after the loss.

  1. Accept the reality of the loss -- if the miscarriage takes place before friends and family know of the pregnancy, sharing the loss with others may help or even some sort of commemorative steps either public or private. If the pregnancy loss is further along, a burial ceremony or even just holding the fetus can help.
  2. Allow experiencing the pain of grief -- if the grieving process is suppressed, it is more likely to result in psychological reactions. The woman needs to consciously grieve for lost dreams. This process will wax and wane but should not be suppressed by drugs, alcohol or even the rapid attempt to become pregnant again so as to relieve the pain more quickly.
  3. Adjust to the new situation without the lost child -- a woman must change her perception that part of herself is lost. She needs to resume her role and self-identity at least as it was prior to becoming pregnant.
  4. Reinvest emotional energy in new relationships -- a woman recovers and benefits from building new ties and nourishing the relationships already present.

This resonated with me a lot. And the first paragraph is a good explanation of what I've been feeling: empty, lost, incomplete, isolated. And I think I still need to deal with #2 - allowing myself to experience the pain of grief. I think I've been holding a lot in. To protect my sons, my marriage, my witness. And I find myself becoming too comfortable with the pain and it's too hard to let it go. Also, I haven't changed my perception that a part of me was lost (#3) because I really feel like it was.


This article deals more with the postpartum depression part of what I've been dealing with:

From CopingTogether.info
While all women experience physical changes in their bodies after a pregnancy ends affecting her mood, a woman who has lost a baby through miscarriage faces another risk factor for serious postpartum depression. Not only must a woman endure the physical and psychological stresses that occur due to hormone changes, but they do so without any of the rewards that come with bringing their baby home. A woman may not have the support of her partner who is grieving as well. There are no excited visitors to greet a baby and give congratulations, and certainly no baby to hold and care for. She is trying to cope with not only her postpartum changes, but with the loss of their baby as well.

I had postpartum depression after both of my boys. So I'm familiar with the feelings that come from that kind of depression. But this time it was different. I was sad about my baby's death. I was sad that my body still thought I was pregnant when the baby was dead inside me. I didn't realize that along with the regular grief-cycle I was experiencing postpartum depression except that I didn't have that little baby to pull me out of it like I had in the past. When my boys were about 4 months old I started to really come out of it. And it's been a little over 4 months since we lost the baby, but it's harder to come out of it when there's not the joy of a little person loving you, making you smile, growing, and becoming a part of your family.


Another great article on God's mercy as we deal with loss:

From All About Life Challenges
Then, I read in the New Testament, Hebrews 12:15, "See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled"(NASB). Somehow, God spoke to my heart with this. I realized I wasn't experiencing the grace of God because I was holding on to my bitterness. I was causing problems in my marriage by keeping this bitterness as if it were a treasure. I was driving away friends on a daily basis. That day, with many tears, I knelt in my apartment and told God I was sorry for not trusting Him and asked Him to please reveal to me the purpose of my loss.

It would be nice to be able to say that immediately I felt great and that I understood perfectly everything I wanted to know. Not so, but I did feel better. Over time, I came to understand how one person's sorrow can be helpful to both that person and to others. Another part of the New Testament, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God."

I pray that I will be able to find an outlet for my emotions. That I will be able to kneel before God and give him my hurt. I pray that I will be able to trust Him and hope for another child - without fear. I pray that He would reveal to me the purpose of this loss. And I pray that I would not become bitter but instead that God would use my trouble to comfort those who may deal with the loss of their unborn child. That I may be the comfort of God to someone else.


If you want more information on identifying your emotions and what to do with them after a miscarriage here's an a great article from Epigee.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Avoiding Pain May Mean Missing Out On Joy

This past weekend my husband took our two boys to visit his family for the extended weekend. I decided not to go.

There are many reasons that I could give you: time to myself, a mini-vacation, I've never done this before, time to get school stuff done, time to get church stuff done, time to relax, time to clean our house, etc.

But the main reason I didn't go is I wanted to avoid pain.

I love my husband's family. They are so wonderful and we get along really well. I love my sisters-in-law and they were my friends before they were my sisters. That's why it's so hard that two of them had babies this spring within weeks of each other. And the other one is due the same week that I was due.

This was to be the "year of the babies" and now it isn't. Well, it is for everyone else, just not for us. I wanted to avoid the pain that would come when seeing two nursing moms and a mom that is due in 4 weeks - the same week I was due. I wanted to avoid making everyone feel awkward about me being there. I wanted to avoid being Debbie Downer because I know I would've cried. I wanted to avoid them asking me about it. But I would've been upset if they didn't. I wanted to avoid all the painful emotions that come when you feel disappointed, and when you feel like a disappointment. When you feel like you're missing something that everyone else has. I don't really think it's jealousy because I'm not angry. I'm just sad. Sad that I am not celebrating a new little life in my life and sad that it's so difficult to celebrate for other people.

So, I avoided the emotional exhaustion that would've come from the trip.

But I also missed out on the joy.

I called my husband on Saturday evening to find out how the boys were doing, how the fantasy football party went, if the girls missed me not being there and I was put on "hold" while they prayed before dinner. I could hear my brother-in-law's prayer. I could hear the children talking during prayer (and this time all I could do was smile). I could hear the littles praying before devouring their hot dogs. I could hear everyone visiting and the chaos of mealtime. And I was missing it. I was missing the joy of being together with my husband's family. I was missing out on the joy and support. I was missing out on love. And for that, I'm regretful.

I am glad that I've had time to rest. I'm glad that I've had time to relax. I'm glad that I got to take a 6-hour nap and not feel guilty. I'm glad that I got a bunch of school stuff done. I'm glad that I'm not going to be physically and emotionally exhausted. But I'm sad. Because I avoided that pain and missed out on the joy of being with family that loves me and accepts me. And maybe that's good for me to know. So I won't avoid it the next time the opportunity comes, although it will be hard when it does come. Amid the pain there will be joy.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Poking Fun

I thought this blog post was hilarious!! Really enjoyed the wit of the graphic designer when dealing with the urgency of his secretary's lost cat. And because I don't really care for cats. Enjoy!!



**FYI - *I do not promote any other material on this blog as I have not viewed anything but this witty banter. Thanks.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Grammarian

I wouldn't say I'm an official grammarian, but I do like to diagram sentences, or did in high school. ;) Anyway, I found this article really interesting as I find myself correcting people in my head. Even though I still get confused by the rules/definitions/pronunciations. Here are some that hit home:

further - metaphorical distance or time
farther - physical distance
*I've been wondering about this lately.

supposably - conceivably
supposedly - "it's assumed"
*I hear people mis-speak this a lot. I don't really think they know that they're getting it wrong. Just like singing the wrong words to a song.

who - a subject
whom - an object
*That's always a favorite even though I rarely use them appropriately.

I always enjoy a little grammar knowledge. Nerd alert!!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

School Days - Books n' Things

I have to admit that I have way too many resources. I was planning on using a little of this and a little of that. Then my cousin gave me the PreK Horizons curriculum that she received free to review as a preschool teacher. That was when I became completely overwhelmed. And like a first-time homeschool mom I have overbought, and have made myself a little nuts. ;)

It's hard for me to plan because I'm not sure when my internet resources will be publishing their lessons (weekly, monthly, ??) so that puts a damper on my planning - and if you know me at all, you know how much I like to plan. I'm sure this list will change as the weeks go on, but here's where I'm starting.

Devotions from ABC Jesus Loves Me - I've taken this from the 4yr curriculum of ABC Jesus Loves Me. It's based on character traits from the Bible and includes suggestions from many different children's Bibles, songs, other books, and activities/crafts. I really liked how you can tell the same story every day from a different version of the Bible. I think it helps my boys to remember the stories better. It's nice to finally use all the children's bibles that we've purchased or received as gifts. Here are the children's Bibles & books we're using:

Big Thoughts for Little People







The Big Picture Story Bible







The Rhyme Bible Storybook







The New Bible In Pictures for Little Eyes







Jesus Storybook Bible







Pray through our family prayer book - This has been a great resource to me, specifically and it's nice to pass it on to my kids. It's kind of like a scrapbook that has pictures of our family, our extended family, friends, and missionaries we support. It makes it easier for my boys to pray for them when they can see their faces. We also include any letters that we get from our missionaries so we can be specific in our prayers for them. This is a great resource from Legacy Prayer Journals.

Calendar craft/activities from Preschool Calendar. This book is full of seasonal ideas, fine/gross motor activities, worksheets (must make your own copies), social studies units, community themes, bulletin board examples, etc.




Bible memory verses based on the letter we're working on for the week are taken from My ABC Bible Verses. We'll use the book in random order of the letters that we're working on.




I received the PreK Horizons set from my cousin who was reviewing pre-k homeschooling resources and she gave me the whole pile. Kind of fun even though it's a little late for planning. I'd like to be using as much out of this book as I can since I didn't have to pay for it. It has 36 weeks of lessons and I'm planning on 36 weeks of school so that works out nicely. I'm not sure about the timing with my other resources (Raising Rock Stars Preschool and Handwriting Without Tears) but I want to use what I've got. Mostly I'm planning on using math, social studies, science as my main subjects from these books. The Bible studies are different than what I'm wanting right now and I have some great reading/phonics, and writing resources that we'll be using.

Handwriting Without Tears will obviously be our handwriting curriculum. I ordered the PreK teacher's manual and workbook "Get Set for School". I also bought the wood pieces for capital letters and the laminated cards to go with them. If I could do it all over again, I wouldn't have bought the cards laminated and just laminate them myself - but I ordered them before I owned my laminator. There's a learning curve to all of this. ;)

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons will be our "learning-to-read" resource. I'm excited about this because it was recommended to me by so many homeschooling parents. It seems weird like most of the curriculum that I'm using because it doesn't go in alphabetical order. Just seems so un-school-like to me.


And then the last thing is Raising Rock Stars Preschool. If I had it to do all over again (and could get some of my money back) I would stick to one thing and this would probably be it. Although there is no real math - besides learning numbers which my four-year-old already knows - it's a great program for letters, vocab, writing, and reading. It's also based on Christian principles and has some great Biblical themes. The PreK Horizons is a lot busier, but if you wanted something simple I think this would be the best choice. Most of her stuff is free online but if you want to become a member and receive all the free stuff and a lot more she charges a one-time fee of $10. Sounds pretty reasonable considering all the time and money spent on other curriculum.

Anyway, that's my curriculum review. I'm sure I'll be using less of this and more of that. And another exciting thing we're using are file folder games and preschool activity bags. But more on that later. Hope this gives you an idea of how crazy I am. ;)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Hard Days Ahead

Today I would be at 34 weeks and 3 days - the same gestational age I was when I had my firstborn.

I've actually been doing a lot better emotionally. My hormones have stabilized, my postpartum depression is almost gone (had it with both boys and started feeling better when they were about 4 months old), and I've been getting better at guarding my heart around expectant and new moms. Even though it's still hard at times.

I've also been extremely busy with homeschooling - prep and day to day learning alongside my boys, and getting our house ready to sell - hopefully someone will buy it soon!! (We would like to move to another home in our town for ministry reasons.) So, honestly I haven't had a lot of time to think about it - which is ok. I think that's the process we all go through when we've grieved a loss, there is a time when we think of it constantly and everything around us is a reminder of who we lost. And then you reach the point where you're not thinking about it all the time and then you realize "Wow, I haven't thought about that in a while. I feel kind of bad." But with the due date quickly approaching more and more thoughts about the baby will be flooding my brain.

Like today - I would be at the same gestational age when I had my firstborn. I reminded my husband of that on our date last week. And then it hit him - we'd have another baby today - three kids - a family of five. All the excitement and anticipation would be here and we'd be rejoicing over another life - another arrow in our quiver.

So, if you see me around the next few weeks you can just ask me how I'm doing and if you can, pray that God will grant me peace and hope over the next few weeks. That would be wonderful. Thanks.