Saturday, February 25, 2012

Seriously? Pregnant again?

Before you panic, I am not pregnant. As I read a girlfriend's blog tonight about how she had shared the "This too shall pass" wisdom with a young mom friend of hers earlier this week, memories flooded my mind. I sat there reading, nodding along, remembering so many things from my last pregnancy that I had to write down. Surely there is another young mom out there who has Googled closely spaced children or pregnancies less than a year apart or Irish twins (I have no idea why they're called that!) looking for someone who's "been there, done that". I hope that she finds this post & laughs along. Maybe she will find some strength & courage in what she reads.

See, I always thought that couples who have babies 2 years apart (or closer) were INSANE. Why on earth would you intentionally have another baby when you haven't got the last one potty trained yet? Why would you want to have 2 cribs set up (if you don't have twins)? Why would you intentionally plan them so close that you have to buy 2 of everything? We planned Savannah & Samuel's age space and it made so much sense to us. Why would anyone else do anything else? They were crazy!

Like so many other things in life, God chose to give me a healthy dose of humility in this area when He gave me two babies VERY close together! Not only are they less than 2 years apart, they are less than 1 year apart. Samuel & Sarah are only ten and a half months apart, to the day. Yes, I am serious.

Now, before you ask, let's get something out of the way.

No I wasn't breastfeeding & expecting that to work as my birth control.
Yes, we do know what causes this.
No, we don't have a TV in our bedroom.
Yes, we know exactly when I got pregnant.
No, it wasn't planned.
No, we're not Mormon or Catholic.

Trust me...I heard all the smarty pants questions while I was waddling around, obviously pregnant, carrying my infant son & holding the hand of my preschooler. I have answers for all of those questions. While I'm at it, I should speak up for all the women out there who have children close in age. Please, for the love of all that's holy & good in this world, stop asking those kinds of questions. Unless you are actually asking a complete stranger for details about their sex life, she really doesn't need your questions about her "condition". She is well aware of the facts. (But, trust me, if you do get snotty & push her long enough, she may very well give you more detailed information than you bargained for because she's sick of your nosiness. Just ask the lady who gasped, blushed & ran for her car in the grocery store parking lot after our little discussion about how I got pregnant again so quickly. Sometimes the pregnancy hormones give you nerves of steel!)

Truth be told, when I found out I was pregnant (June 29, 2000), I was terrified. Savannah was 3. Samuel was 3 MONTHS old. And I was pregnant. Again. I remember thinking "No, that can't be right. I just had a baby. I'm sure my hormones are just "off" & giving me a false positive on this test. I'll take another test later." Over the course of the next few days, I had to convince myself. I took something like ten pregnancy tests before I finally decided it was really happening. I was really pregnant. That denial wore off quickly. As I sat in the bathroom floor holding my tiny infant son's bottle in his mouth while throwing up into the toilet repeatedly, reality most definitely creeped in. There was no denying it. Telling all our friends & relatives was hard. Calling the obstetrician to cancel my upcoming birth control appointment was embareassing, especially when I had to then tell the receptionist it was because I needed to schedule a pregnancy appointment. Hearing all those gasps of shock followed by comments that were thinly veiling the horror in their voices was just grand. (sarcasm!) But once the news got out, things were a little easier.

Over the course of the months that followed, I fretted about buying 2 high chairs, 2 bouncy seats, 2 sets of bottles, doubling the formula, buying 2 different sizes of diapers, 2 cribs, another carseat, 2 of everything! And of course once we found out that it was another girl, I really panicked. I had NO baby girl clothes left. When we had Samuel, I got rid of all Savannah's stuff because I didn't have room to store it. And the idea of decorating the nursery AGAIN, for the opposite gender, overwhelmed me.

Aside from the expenses involved, I couldn't imagine HOW I would cope with two babies so close in age. I hardly slept with the two I had, what would I do with three? Would I ever have time to take a shower, eat a full meal, spend some quiet time with my husband, cook, clean my house, get the mail from the mailbox, take out the trash (and so on)? I sought wisdom from other moms who had kids close in age. I found message boards & email groups for women who had several pregnancies close together. I needed someone to tell me "You will get through this!" Fortunately, I got lots of great advice and helpful ideas. And you know what? I did survive.

This picture was taken on the day Sarah was born. (She's tucked down in those blankets. If you look closely you can see the side of her face peeking out between Savannah and I.) This was the 'first day of the rest of my life'.

Sure, things were hard. I don't remember much of 2001. It's still a blur. I rarely slept. Most of my showers were days apart, often when my mom came by the house to give me a break (God bless you, mom!!!). Larry had to work several jobs and was in college at the time as well, so I didn't see him much.

Grocery shopping was tricky in those early months because it had to be planned out so well. If I realized I was low on milk at 8 am, I had to think through all the various naps & feeding times to figure out when there would be a break in the day that I could pile all 3 kids into their carseats & go to the store. I usually got there by 4-5 pm.

I remember wearing flip flops, sweat pants & stretchy Tshirts with my greasy ponytail and feeling like I actually looked "OK" out in public. Truth be told, I was just exhausted & trying to survive. It was fortunate for the people I ran into that I was even able to stand upright & speak in complete sentences. I look back now & laugh. I'm so glad that the people of walmart website didn't exist yet. I would've surely been on it.

I remember changing the baby's clothes (and mine) 10 times a day because she had reflux (all three of my kids were pukers....but Sarah was definitely a prize winner in that department). I remember changing the liner thing for the Diaper Genie about 3 times after Sarah was born. With 2 babies in diapers, that Genie never had a chance to keep up. The little plastic-wrapped diaper sausages could trail from the front yard to the back when I changed out that thing! It never really contained the stink so we gave up on it & resorted to changing the trash more often to get the smell out of the house. I remember setting out 13 bottles on the counter every night & making 2 batches of formula for the next day (Samuel & Sarah were on 2 different kinds so they had two different styles of bottles). I remember trying to pack the house by myself for a move when Sarah was 5 weeks old. Fortunately my mom came to help. Larry was out of town on a work trip the week that we had to pack the house. (I only pondered his murder once.) I remember dozing off on the couch at 7:30 in the morning while the kids watched Dora the Explorer. I remember being completely frustrated and exhausted by 9:00 am, and wondering how I would get through the whole day. I remember sweeping the kitchen floor 4 or 5 times a day to get all the dropped chicken nuggets and bread crusts off the floor so that my little toddler vacuums wouldn't eat it! I remember praying that someone would stop by the house. Anyone would do, really. A salesman, a bill collector, the UPS man, Jehovah's Witness missionaries --- anyone I could talk to & feel like a grown up with for just 5 minutes! (or anyone who would watch my kids & let me pee in peace!) I remember sorting laundry into poop stains, baby food stains, formula stains, wet sheets, and then everything else. I remember the training potty getting dumped by baby sister, several times. Once over her head. Sigh. I remember collapsing into bed at night.

But you know what else I remember?

I remember pictures of two babies playing together wearing only diapers. I remember baby language that only a sibling could understand. I remember naptimes and bubble bath 'beards'. I remember brothers & sisters who held a bottle to show me how "big" they could be. I remember enjoying the Spring breeze from the front yard where toddlers & preschoolers dug in the sandbox. I remember the sweet old ladies who would approach my disheveled looking self in the aisles of Winn Dixie to pat me on the arm and tell me that my babies were beautiful. I remember standing in the frozen aisle one day when a little grandpa stopped me to pronounce a blessing over me & my kids before he casually walked away. I remember grandmothers who told me to enjoy these years because it passes so quickly. I remember walking my oldest into school on her first day of Kindergarten & thinking "Wow. This happened too fast." And then I cried all the way home from the school.

And I've pretty much felt that way every day since. It happens way too fast.

Sure, I haven't forgotten the exhaustion and the frustration and the grueling hard work of being a young mom to three children who were all born within 4 1/2 years. Sure, I remember dealing with some minor depression & feeling like the walls were closing in on me as I lived in a blur of bottles & pacifiers & diapers. But I realize now how very quickly it all went by.

As the saying goes, "The days are long but the years are short." No mother of little ones wants to hear you say how quickly the years will pass because she is desperately trying to survive this very minute. She's just hoping to get by 'til bedtime. She's trying not to burst into tears when Junior grabs the jar of jelly off the grocery shelf & drops it into a shattering, sticky mess on the floor. She's really just trying to survive.

But it's all true. All those things the grandmas at the park tell you, all the things your girlfriends say. Don't blink. It goes by so fast.

Yes, God surprised us with Sarah. I was much too arrogant to plan two children so close in age. But ya know what? It was worth all the pain & fear & frustration & sleepless nights. If I could plan it now, I'd do it all exactly the same.

Do me a favor. The next time you see a young mom with several children close in age, (or better yet, a young mom with several kids close in age AND SHE'S PREGNANT!) keep your snide comments & questions to yourself. Instead, approach her. Offer to carry something for her. Pat her on the back (don't worry if your hand gets stuck in a glob of jelly or baby food). Tell her that she's beautiful (even if she's wearing sweat pants & flip flops.) Compliment her children's behavior (even if they are swinging from the chandeliers.) Ask if you can say a quick prayer for her & her children. Talk to her about the cost of tea, the blue sky, which frozen pizza she thinks is best, just about anything that makes her feel like something more than a milk machine & butt wiper! Offer to babysit while she takes a bubble bath. Offer to cook supper for her. Give her a flower & pronounce her the best mother in the world.

But please don't ask her "Don't you know what causes this?" She might just say YES -- and then proceed to give you a biology lesson. With a smile.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Random Thoughts with Liz

It's time for another edition of Random Thoughts with Liz. This is one of those posts that doesn't particularly have any direction. It's just the random spewing of my mind onto the screen. Enjoy the goofiness that is my world!

*We have an annual "Leaf Party" that the kids moan & whine about (umm, I mean they look forward to it & cheer with great glee when we mention it! LOL!!!). It is the day that we all go out, as a family, and spend a few hours raking up the enormous amount of leaves our yard has accumulated over the Fall & early Winter. We live on a street with large mature trees, and lots of 'em, so our yard is very thick with leaves by the time Leaf Party day arrives. Tomorrow is the big day this year! A few days ago we mentioned it and our very witty 11 year old daughter said, "Well, I guess I need to go break my ankle so I can get out of this." and then she kept walking. She cracks me up! You just never know what's going to come out of her mouth.

*I am reminded every Sunday why we chose the church we attend. Savannah told me recently that she feels like she's learned more about the Bible in the past few years than she has learned in her whole life. Part of that, I'm sure, is just due to her age & her hunger for learning about life, about God, about everything. But I suspect it also has a lot to do with the people who teach our kids. They don't just teach to fill a slot on Sundays. They have a passion for the kids they work with & the Word. It's awe-inspiring just to listen to them talk in the parking lot, much less in the classroom. I'm so grateful for every one of them!

The worship service is awesome every week. The teaching is strong. The pastors are available & friendly & kind. I know that describes every really cool church in North America & if you've found that place too, high five! But if you're local & haven't found the right place, contact me! I'd love for you to visit our church. It really is a 2nd home for me!

*The lady who teaches in the classroom where I work has been out on medical leave. The school hired a long-term sub to fill her spot until she returns. As it turns out, that long-term sub is an old friend of the family. She went to the same church I did when I was a kid. She is closer to my mom's age than mine, but it has been such a great joy to work alongside her every day. She is on a trip right now, so we have another sub to fill her spot. A sub for the sub! ha ha!

Today, the sub asked me a question I've heard a lot over the years. I thought some of you might have wondered, too, so I'm going to answer it here.

She asked, "Why didn't you get your teacher's certificate? You are good at this!"

To be honest, when I went to college I wasn't planning to be a teacher. {That love didn't arise in my life for another decade!} When I was in college, I thought I wanted to own & run a day care center, so my focus was an Early Childhood degree. The school I attended didn't offer an Early Childhood degree program, though. I was told that it fell under the Homemaking Department, and that's what I should get a degree in. I had no desire for a Homemaking Degree, though. My faculty adviser didn't see things eye to eye with me, so I switched my major to "undecided" to get out from under her 'ruling'. She wasn't helpful at all & made me feel like dirt every time I talked with her. I figured that we would move elsewhere later on & I could switch colleges & finally get to work on my actual degree. I just took basics that semester, as I had the summer prior. After subbing at a day care in the town where I attended school, I talked myself out of wanting to own & run one. It was a pretty yucky center & they scared me out of wanting to do that for life! At the time, running a day care was the ONLY thing I had considered career-wise so when that didn't work out, I just quit college altogether. I had no idea what I was working toward & felt like I was wasting my time (and my parent's money.) I thought I would take a few semesters off, work & save up some money and then go back when I figured out what I wanted to do. That was at the end of the Fall '94 semester. I worked for all of '95 & most of '96 before having our first baby. And the rest is history. I never made it back to college & never finished.

Over the years, it has crossed my mind a time or two. Sort of like the way Larry has considered getting orthodontic work done when all of our kids are done with their braces. It sounds like something I might (or might not) do later on in life, but there is no particular plan or goal in mind for that just yet.

What I know is that IF I did, I would get my teaching degree. At this point in my life, we can't afford for me to quit working & go to school full time and I really don't want to do just 1 class per semester like some working adults because it would take me about 20 years to finish! ha ha! (Remember, I only have about 16 hrs of college at this point, so it would take a lonnnngggg time!!) So we'll see what happens in the future. I suspect this falls into the same category as so many other things. You know, the "what I'll do when I'm rich" category. ha ha!

So there ya go. That's why I never finished school & probably never will. But if you would like to hire me & pay me piles of cash to teach your preschool program, I'm your girl. 'Til then, I'll stick with what I've got. I like it too & the hours & benefits are great!

*I never, ever dreamed that I would enjoying the rush of a good workout. I mean, let's be clear on some things.

I don't like getting hot. I don't like to sweat. I am a big girl so there are no "cute" workout clothes available for me. (I wear cut-off sweat pants & a big Bass Pro Shoppe Tshirt of Larry's when I go to the YMCA.) I don't run. There is too much of me that bounces & jiggles to run. I didn't do athletics & basketball & track & volleyball in junior high & high school & never understood the girls who were into that. It just seemed a little crazy to me to WANT to go run in circles around a gravel track when you could be indoors in the air conditioned rooms talking to friends or reading a book. I've never enjoyed sports (other than watching the ones my kids play!) I usually have no idea what's going on & who's winning at the high school football games we faithfully attend every Friday night in the Fall (to hear our daughter play in the band). And I am also about the least competitive person IN THE WORLD. So, me? Enjoying exercise? That's laughable.

But somehow, even with all that in mind, I am enjoying the rush AFTER I work out these days. Today I did 35 minutes on a bike. I rode 7.9 miles (but shhh...I'm calling that 8 miles to anyone who wasn't there & didn't see the picture I posted on facebook!) I really wanted to quit at the 10 minute mark, but I didn't. I pushed through & made it to the 28 minute mark before losing my steam again. At that point, I added another few minutes to the timer & closed my magazine I was reading & really focused on pedaling hard & fast. And I did it! I had cheerleaders texting me some motivation (I asked for it on facebook---gotta love being able to text in a status update requesting as much). When I'm done I am always glad I did it. And so I plug along.

The scale's at a stand-still again. But I haven't been eating enough fruit & veggies and haven't been drinking enough water lately. I'm positive that's why the scale's sitting still. At least I'm not gaining, right?

Last week I realized that a shirt I put on fit GREATLY different than it had when I bought it a couple years ago. Either I've lost inches or my taste in how clothes fit has changed drastically....and I don't think that's it. Little victories!

*I'll leave you with one last little tidbit. Warning: it's gross.

It's official. I am disgusting. Today before work, I was hunting for a hand towel to wipe my mouth after brushing my teeth. I saw a pile of Larry's clothes (taken off before the shower & tossed in the floor.... that's where they go right?) next to the cabinet & reached down to grab the hand towel from the pile. I wiped my mouth before realizing that it wasn't a towel. I will leave it to your imagination which article of his dirty clothing it was. :::shudder::: Don't worry. I promptly washed my lips with bleach.

So....what have you been up to?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Giving Honor Where Honor is Due

A couple of days ago, I posted to Facebook about how I'd played my husband some motivational music while he got ready for work. As he pulled on his bullet proof vest & gun belt and strapped on his handcuffs & flashlight, I serenaded him (well, youtube did anyway!) with Salt N Pepa's "What a Man", the theme song to the TV show COPS and Bonnie Tyler's 80s hit "I Need a Hero". Larry left the house grinning, feeling loved & pumped up to do his job. One of my friends commented about my song choices. I told her that I had to give honor where honor is due.

You see, over the years, my sweetie has held lots of jobs. Ultimately every one of them has been a service to others. I swear this man must be made of something pretty special. When we met in 1992, he was in college. He was a volunteer firefighter on the weekends while attending school to get his Criminal Justice degree & his Paramedic certification. He had a dream of one day attending seminary to become a preacher as well. Over the course of the last 20 years, he has spent a lot of time in the back of an ambulance, driving a patrol car and perfecting his skills as an investigator. In 2005, he graduated from seminary & was hired by a local church where he served for 4 1/2 years as a pastor. He's been back in the law enforcement field for the past couple of years. One day when the kids are grown & moved out, we may go back into full time ministry, but until then, we are just taking things one day at a time, serving where God has placed us for this season of life.

Sometimes I look at my husband & just sigh. He is amazing! People don't really understand what goes on in the life of a giver like him. There isn't a moment of the day when he isn't focused on someone else. Whether he is at home helping with one of the kids, lending a hand with our son's Scout group, investigating a case at work, or praying with someone over the phone, he is perpetually finding a way to serve.

So yes, I played him a few songs to build him up on the way out the door as he headed in to work. But it's the least I could do for this man who I am so very proud of. When you are lucky enough to be married to a guy like this, you've gotta give honor where honor is due!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

3rd week of February 2012

Whew...what a week!

On Monday, we got some wild & crazy news that shook us up a little bit. I can't go into details here, but it's been our minds a lot this week. (Don't worry---no one is sick, losing their job, having an affair, etc., just have to keep it confidential.) It has been a big topic of conversation around the house this week, between Larry & I.

On Tuesday, Sarah's class had their Valentine's Day party. Since I am the room mom, I was there to have fun with the kids. They had a cookie decorating party. Lots of icing & sprinkles piled high on their sugar cookies! Many giggles & lots of sheepish grins from 10-11 year old boys & girls as they opened their valentines and pondered the mystery of boyfriends & girlfriends when they still want to believe that the opposite sex has cooties. I was half way through the day before it hit me. This would be my final elementary Valentine's Day party. Time to really turn on the focus & take off the blinders, mama. Soak it up & enjoy it. Hard to believe this season of my life is almost over. This summer, Sarah will join the older two in our church's youth group. Good grief. I swear, folks, don't blink. It goes by too fast.

And if I wasn't already feeling enough mama-sap, Sarah turned 11 on Wednesday. Eleven! She took cupcakes to school (which she cooked & iced completely by herself) to share with her class. She's so grown up! This sweet girl blows me away every day. She is so mature & independent, but I love that she still snuggles with me on the couch when we're watching TV and finds comfort in laying on my side of my bed some nights when she just wants to lay down for a few minutes before bedtime---and she nearly always dozes off in those few minutes. And I love, love, love that she still has a pink blankie she won't travel without. It sleeps with her every night in her bed. She's right on the brink of those crazy adolescent years. I can hardly believe that in 2 years, I will have three teenagers at the same time. Good golly, wasn't I just reading "What to Expect When You're Expecting" & researching the Bradley method? (Yes folks, I am one of those crazy natural birth mamas.) Wasn't I just potty training and tying shoes and walking Kindergarteners in for the first day? Geez...maybe I ought to start filling out nursing home applications. After all, I'm gonna blink & it'll be time for me to head there! Soak up the present, folks. Life speeds by at warp speed.

Last night, Sarah's longtime best friend came & spent the night. I had planned to take the girls to Chuck E. Cheese for pizza & games, but then Savannah offered something else to do afterward! She had a gift card to Bath & Body Works that she had a small balance on. (and some cash to go with it) She wanted to take both girls to the mall & visit that store to buy them something! What a sweet big sister!! (I swear, I've got the best girls in the world! And Samuel's pretty sweet, too!!) When we left B&BW, we went to Claire's where Sarah & her buddy picked out a Best Friends necklace that we bought. They are each wearing 1/2 of the necklace now. I remember buying those necklaces with my BFFs when I was a little girl. What sweet memories! We grabbed some Dippin' Dots ice cream on the way out of the mall & headed home. The girls got out their Littlest Pet Shoppe animals & played until about 10:30 last night when I told them it was time to head to bed. They layed down to watch a movie & both crashed before midnight.

Yesterday afternoon, Larry & Samuel left on a Scout camping trip. It rained all night last night & most of the day today. At 7:40am this morning, I got the following text from Larry:

Wet. Tent leaked. Poncho is torn. Sam left his at home. Scouting is fun!

Ha ha!!! Poor guy. I'm sure this is a camping trip he won't soon forget --- especially since he plans to sleep in his truck tonight (to stay dry). {Note: I just texted with him. Both he & Samuel are in the truck tonight. Samuel's tent was fine, but he just wanted to be with his Dad. Sure made my heart melt to hear that. I love that kid!}

What a week it's been.

As a sweet little ending to our wild & crazy week, we received an anonymous gift certificate in the mail today that we can use for a date night next week! I love how God reveals His gentle, tender, loving nature through the people in our lives. Thank you, friend, whomever you are. What a blessing!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Just keepin' it real folks...

I don't think these 2 pictures need a caption or any sort of explanation. Every mom reading this will understand this "before" & "after" scene. This is my house. I took both pictures this morning.

Now....don't you feel better?

I know I do.

Friday, February 10, 2012

And then, 24 hours later....

If you haven't read the previous post, this one may be hard to follow.

24 hours after Lisa died, our world was turned upside down all over again. I had not yet come to terms with the idea that Lisa was really gone, but had a little peace knowing that she was in Heaven and not hurting anymore. I had every intention of making the drive to the town where Lisa lived for her funeral services, but that never happened. You see, Lisa died on a Thursday afternoon at about 4:30. At 9:30 the following morning, my brother-in-law and his wife had a wreck. Sweet Kelly did not survive. By 2:00 that afternoon, Larry & I were signing papers for the hospital to release her body to the funeral home, identifying her under a white sheet and facing some of the most grown up, surreal, shocking moments of our lives. It is the only time I've ever been the responsible adult signing that kind of paperwork after a death. I hope it is a very, very long time before I have to be that responsible adult again. We went through the motions and did what had to be done, but I felt a little robotic in doing it. It didn't occur to me until later that I was emotionless, just simply stating the facts of what was going on as we were asked, nodding my head and signing whatever was put before me. I couldn't cope with more tears & sadness that day. Plus, Larry needed me there to support him and I think that's all I could do...just function, just focus on getting him home. And as it turned out, we had little understanding of just how big a turn of events was about to happen.

It ended up working out that Kelly's & Lisa's funerals were scheduled for the same day, actually during the same hour of the day. Since family comes first, I had to forego Lisa's funeral. I'm sure she would've understood.

Losing Lisa broke my heart into a million pieces. She was my sweet girlfriend. Losing Kelly was difficult as well, because she was my sister-in-law. Though we weren't as close as Lisa & I, she was family. It was most tragic because it meant that five children lost their mothers in that short span of 24 hours. My heart could not have held one more ounce of grief in those early days after their deaths.

Fortunately, God cheered me & diverted my attention by giving me the opportunity to love & to give & to serve. You see, God had opened our hearts to adoption a few years before, but we had not yet completed the paperwork to begin the process with the State. We know now that God had different plans for us. He just had us get the paperwork started to stall us. He knew the exact children He would place in our home. He knew the plans He had for us. Plans for hope & a a future. Eight days after Kelly went to Jesus, A&K moved in with us. Our dream was to raise them. Our hope was to love them, to walk them through this season of horrifying grief---losing their parents both at once. And we did. For 13 months, they were my babies. For just over a year, they were snuggled and hugged and embraced and nursed and counseled and held.

But God had another plan in store that included another home for them. While it broke me into a thousand ugly, painful, broken pieces to have to let them go, if I could do it all over again, I would. I would love to have been able to skip over all the grief & pain that led up to adopting (or fostering...whatever it was that we did!) and I would love to skip all the sorrow & anguish that came with ending it, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

You see, it was what we were called to do. And like so many other callings on our lives, they're not always easy. The paths we must walk are covered in jagged rocks and broken tree limbs that have fallen during our storms. But God doesn't ask us to only take the smooth paths. And He never allows us to walk those hard paths alone. So while we may have to put on steel toed boots & do a lot of hard work to lift those limbs out of the way as we walk, we journey on. With Him. Because He calls us to.

Those 2 days in February 2006 were two of the worst of my life. But for the two women who were lost on those days, I will remember them every year. Lisa & Kelly, you will never be forgotten.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Gone, but never forgotten!

Six years ago tomorrow, on February 9, 2006, Lisa passed away.

Lisa was a very good friend, one of my very best friends at the time she died. She had leukemia. Twice. And twice she beat leukemia. But as is the case with most leukemia patients unfortunately, you don't ever really beat leukemia. It goes into remission sometimes, but survival is practically unheard of. Lisa had survived it, but her body was so brutally wounded from years of heavy duty medicines, chemo, bone marrow transplants and maintenance drugs that it just finally 'gave out'. I don't think anyone saw it coming. I know I didn't. At about 4:30 that afternoon, Lisa crashed on the ER table and they weren't able to revive her.

I remember standing at my kitchen sink & hearing the news. I slid down the front of the cabinets & sat on the floor with the phone still in my hand and sobbed. I couldn't believe she was really gone.

I felt like I walked around in a fog for the next 24 hours (before the next crisis struck...more about that in a later post). I sobbed until I was physically in pain that night. I drove to the grocery store out of routine & habit, but I may as well have been drugged. I don't think I brought home any semblance of normal groceries. I had to pull over twice to throw up on the drive to and from the store.

I had to put it out of my mind & "move on" the next day because of that other crisis I mentioned, but Lisa's death haunted me for over a year. It took that long for me to have time to mourn her death, to really focus on it and feel the pain and see the hole Lisa's death left in my heart. It took at least that long for me to work through all the stages of grief. Sure, I had lost relatives before, but they were old people I had expected to lose -- usually after a lengthy illness. I had known of plenty people who passed away. But with Lisa, it was different.

She was my age. (technically, she was younger than me by a few months!)
She was my very close girlfriend.
She had 3 young children roughly the same ages as my own.
She had 2 girls & 1 boy, just like me.
She was a busy wife & mama.
She just wanted to get healthy & watch her kids grow up.
She was me in so many ways.

In essence, losing Lisa was the first time I ever really experienced deep grief over the death of someone I knew. I had been sad when my grandparents died, but with Lisa, it was much more personal. I think it was the first time that it was really crystal clear that death could happen to anyone at any time.

It still haunts me today that Lisa had JUST SAID to me a couple of weeks before she died that her biggest fear was dying & leaving her kids motherless. She didn't want to leave her husband wife-less, but she was more aware of how it felt to be mother-less. Her own mom had died. She didn't want that for her kids.

Eight days before she died, she reached out to a fellow leukemia patient's family whom she had gotten to know online & sent them a card when they lost their beloved wife/mother. (That precious husband shared her card with me when I emailed to let him know that Lisa passed away.)

Just a few days before she died, she asked another friend & I for scriptures to encourage her because she was feeling sad & depressed at the loss of this lady who had been her friend---sort of her sister in the leukemia battle. Seeing her die had left her feeling discouraged about her own fight to health.

Lisa died doing all the things she loved --- seeking God for strength & comfort, being a wife to Jerry, being a mom to Lori, Hayley & Aaron, being a friend to so many! I am 100% positive that when she died Lisa went to Heaven. I am anxious to get there one day & hug her and spend eternity dancing on the streets of gold with her. I know she is far happier where she is now than she ever was here on earth, but it doesn't change the absence in our lives.

Lisa, you will never, ever be forgotten. It was my very great privilege to know you in this life. You changed me and inspired me more than you will ever know. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your life. Until we meet again, friend..........

Monday, February 6, 2012

Book Review: I am Second

I recently agreed to read & review I am Second for booksneeze, a blogger book review program through Thomas Nelson publishers. (Click the link in my right sidebar to learn more about it.)

In reading this book, I was inspired by the many testimonies of famous people. The book tells the stories of athletes, rock stars, reality TV show participants, actors & actresses and other people who I had not previously heard of. The idea behind the I Am Second program was to involve well known people in an evangelistic tool of sorts. Unless you've been living under a rock, I'm sure you've seen the commercials, billboards, youtube videos, etc.

The stories told of lives changed by God, turning away from drugs & alcohol and addictions of other kinds. Each story involves the "turning point" for that person where they realized that God had to come first and they had to put themself in 2nd place.

If you enjoy reading biographies & testimonies like I do, you will really enjoy this book! Also, at the end of each person's story, there are web links to visit for other stories with a similar "feel". I am looking forward to watching each of these videos!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Book Review: Inconceivable

I'm a total book addict, always looking for the next book to read. I find myself browsing the biography section of all the time. Biographies are my favorite kind of book! I usually find one that really strikes me, hunt for the cheapest of their used copies & buy it. I usually re-sell all my books on after I read them. (Well, not ALL my books, but a number of them do exit the house via!)

A few weeks ago, I found this one.

Inconceivable is the story of Sean & Carolyn Savage. You may have heard about them in the news in the past few years. When I mentioned reading the book to a few friends, several of them said they'd heard of them. I had not. Or at least I don't remember hearing their story in the news.

Their story is a roller coaster. After years of infertility troubles & numerous miscarriages, they attempt InVitro Fertilization. After one successful pregnancy & birth, they decided to transfer a few more of their frozen embryos and returned to the fertility clinic, anxious to get pregnant again! After taking a pregnancy test to confirm that Carolyn is pregnant, they get the devastating news that the clinic made a horrible mistake. Carolyn is pregnant with someone else's child!

Sean & Carolyn struggle emotionally & physically through 7 1/2 months of a pregnancy that takes them from the heights of joy to the depths of depression, ultimately giving birth to a healthy baby boy who they hand over to the genetic parents minutes after the birth. What a gift! What a trial to live through! What amazing people! Their story is emotional, inspiring and simply wonderful! I highly recommend this book.

I realized, after reading a little information about the news that surrounded their case when it occured, that the other couple (the baby's actual parents) have also written a book telling their side of the story. It is called 'Misconception'. You better believe it's on the way from Amazon now! I found a copy for .01!!! Gotta love cheap, used books!

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Worship Junkie Speaks....

I jokingly referred to myself as a "worship junkie" a while back. I think it fits. Give me a worship service ANY DAY, ANY TIME. I love the music part of the service where I can soak up a special part of my relationship with Jesus that nothing else in life seems to nurture in quite the same way. Reading the word & spending time in prayer & Bible study is awesome, too, but worship/music reaches a different part of me that nothing else does.

Last Sunday at church, we did a song during the worship service that has resonated with me ever since. It wasn't the first time we have done this song, but it was the first time I really 'heard' one of the lines.

That line says something like "Every step, we're breathing in your grace. Every step, we're breathing out your praise."

Seriously, it knocked my socks off. It was one of those moments when I feverishly grabbed my purse, retrieved a pen & scribbled that line on the back of my bulletin. I COULD NOT let those words go unwritten. I needed to write them so that I'd remember them later. Sometimes it's that way with a particular quote or Scripture during the sermon. But that day, it was that line. I wanted it drilled into my mind, so I wrote it. The concept of breathing in grace with every step and in turn breathing out praise --- gratitude for that grace! --- oh my soul.

The chorus of this song leaves me with my hands in the air, eyes closed & a most thankful attitude of praise for a God I can never, ever repay no matter how long I spend praising Him. But when I 'heard' the line about breathing in grace & then in turn breathing our praise, well.... wow. I was shaken & moved.

I realize that it may just be me who was so affected by the lyrics. Often what we hear in a time of worship are the lyrics that our souls need most. The words that quench the deepest part of our need for God. For whatever reason this week, it was those words that nourished me. I hope you enjoy the song, too. God bless!

This video was taken during the service I was in. You can't see me & my kids because we're off the screen to the right.