Friday, August 8, 2014

Sad

My oldest nephew was hit by a truck and killed a week ago.

He was 17.

6 people were given another chance at this life because of his donated organs.

There is so much to say but I can't speak or really think clearly enough to share all the flooding memories that are running through my heart and mind...and then I am scared that I don't have enough memories.

My oldest son and Justin were very close.  Each time I see Ethan break down, I hold him and cry for the helplessness I feel.  There is nothing more than prayer and begging God to make the pain stop right now.

Although it brings comfort that we know Justin is in Heaven (what a timely last post!), the heart God gave each of us is feeling a pain that is indescribable.

Tomorrow we lay Justin to rest.  May he rest in God's peace.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Heaven is Real

Not because the Bible says so...although I trust in its validity.
Not because my Mom says so.
Not because my priest or neighbor or friend says so.

I have been there.  I saw it with my own eyes, felt it with my heart and all of my being.  And I am not scared of death...because I know where I am going.  It's not a fictional place and it doesn't require 'faith' on my part any longer--I saw and I believe.

I was eight months pregnant with my first baby, Ethan.  The pregnancy had been smooth and uneventful, but the emotional toll of being an unwed, pregnant, soon-to-be mother was a weight that was both crushing and shameful.

It was around this time that I remembered a 'deal' I had made with God when I was 13;  "If you let me live long enough to be a Mom, I will be ready to come live in Heaven with you.  Just PLEASE let me have a baby first!"

The memory of the deal sprang out of nowhere, but added a terrifying "what if He follows through on it?!" emotion to my unstable hormones.

I realized that I had failed to add in that I also wanted to be here to raise my children...and I was horrified to think that after hearing my baby's first cry, God might make good on our agreement.

It was Easter morning, 1998, and I had prepared myself for church and headed off with my family.  I was looking forward to the turkey dinner to follow the services...but was not looking forward to the curious stares and judgement-filled eye rolls of some members.  My family formed a protective cocoon around me in the pew (we had begun to sit near the back, away from most stares), and sang our hearts out in celebration of Christ's Resurrection.

It was during one of these songs that I felt some cramping, so I sat down.  I sat through two more songs, wondering if maybe these were 'practice' contractions, and hoping I wasn't going to throw up on the church floor.

My father sat down beside me after the last song and asked, "Sarah, are you okay?"  I must have been showing signs of being ill.  I tried to reply, "No, not at all." 

My father later told me that I had said, "I'm fine."

My vision began to turn black on the periphery at first, then closed off completely as it neared the center of my sight.  I found myself in darkness...but not for long.  There was a bright light in the darkness, and I was moving towards it.  It got bigger and brighter as I approached, then burst open as I crossed a threshold.

There was a crowd of people welcoming me...I knew each one of them, but I can't tell you who they are.  They loved me, and I them.  Their faces shone so bright, it was difficult to see features.  There were flowers and meadows.  I remember feeling at peace--no worries--full of joy.  There was no more cramping, no more pain, no more shame.  I did not think of anyone 'left behind'....I wasn't worried about my unborn child...I was home. 

I have more memories about how it 'felt' there, than actual details of what I saw.

Then there was something pulling me backwards.  I heard a voice say I was not going to stay...it was the worst, most heart-wrenching feeling I have ever felt.  I fought to stay there...it was terrifying coming back....almost as if being ripped apart from within.

I awoke, very confused, upset, angry....to a smell of strong B.O.  One of the parishioners had lent his sports jacket to prop my head up while I was unconscious.  I didn't immediately remember any of the details of where I had been, but the feeling of peace was still a whisper of a memory on my skin.  My fear of death was no more.

I don't look forward to the dying process, but I am not scared of the journey to come.  Heaven is real...I wish I could describe it well enough for those who are desparate to believe, but can't. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Happiest Birthday, princess Savannah!

Seven years in Heaven...it seems so long for your friends and family left here on earth! 

As you play hop-scotch on the clouds, and sing in the angel choir, we remember how much we are missing out on because you are not here.  Your surroundings are joyful and jubilant -- how I wish your Mother could see you soaring and laughing!

Send some angel kisses down from Heaven to remind your family of the love and hope you live each day.

Happy 7th Birthday, Savannah.

Monday, March 17, 2014

What is the 'right' way to parent?



There are many wrong ways to parent, and each of us seems to be an expert in how others are screwing up.  But, have you ever thought about what they might be doing right?

We all agree that no one is perfect, but that doesn't stop us from expecting perfection from others.  Whether it be our husbands (or wives), our children's teachers, our neighbors, etc.  We can point out all the 'wrongs' they are doing by how it affects us...and spend very little time finding the 'rights'.

When it comes to parenting, I have been guilty of thoughts (and sometimes spoken words) about other parents and what I deem a mistake in their technique.  Why do I care about how anyone else raises their children?  Because in some small way, it makes me feel less guilty about my own short-comings.  If I can find a 'bigger' problem with YOUR style, then my mistakes don't seem quite so severe.

And therein lies the root of the issues in society.  We are skilled at deflection, when God wants us to grow.  We spend so much time speaking about the awful actions of other people, believing that somehow we have nothing in our lives to work on ourselves.  We miss so many opportunities to support one another through rough times because we somehow believe people have created these situations themselves, and deserve the mess they find themselves in.

For every 'wrong' step a parent takes, there are many 'right' things they are doing that need to be praised and built up.  A kind word, a compassionate smile, a knowing nod of the head for a parent dealing with a tantrum-ing child in a store.  It can be the start of a better day for someone trying their best.

Don't be part of society's problem....be a part of the solution.  Love one another.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Special Needs child

I hate this label.

Every child is special needs, some needs are just more obvious than others.

I have never pitied the mother of a chid with special needs.  How can you pity someone who has such a fierce love and protection, an armour of strength, and a confidence beyond what I could hope to acheive?

No, pity is not the right emotion to have.  Awe, respect, amazement, envy?  Not envy of the struggles (although that's likely what provided that solid strength I see), rather envy of the inpenetrable exterior that faces so many negative and hurtful comments and assumptions every day. 

I know the exterior doesn't truly reflect the pain that resides in the heart...but to go home each day and repair the damage so you can face another day--that is truly a heroic routine.

Each of these Moms spend time wondering if there's a way to make others understand that their child IS capable, they are NOT the sum total of their limitations.  Maybe it's the tone of voice they used, is that why the teacher seems defensive about the advice given?  If I just had one more chance to explain things (darn, why did the emotions show up that last time?), maybe you would 'get' it then?

Listing all the deficits, the 'problems'--just to prove you are aware of them--doesn't allow for the time to show all the amazing accomplishments that also need to be on that list.

I don't want you to know all the struggles, I want you to know all the successes...what makes our little warriors thrive.  The moment you start believing I am looking for pity is the moment you gave up on my child.

Monday, March 3, 2014

A Change is a-coming

A whole year since my last post.  Strangely, not much has changed, and yet so much is different!

God has taken me down some interesting paths this year, and the direction is becoming a little less foggy, although still not clear.  Maybe I have decided to trust in His guidance, and spend less time arguing with Him about the wisdom of His message...or maybe I'm just too darn tired to fight?

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."  Matt 11:28

Rest.  Yes, I have been given rest, but not in the form of sleep.  My mother had a saying, "A change is as good as a rest."  Although I would prefer more sleep, the changes have indeed felt restful!

The first 'change' came as an invitation to help teach new immigrants the English language.  Our Church began a new ministry to reach out to the many newcomers to our land, and help them to communicate better, in hopes they would feel more at home.

I hesitated to accept this position, as I had no formal training as a teacher, nor did I feel I could offer the mental space needed to be a support to strangers.  Little did I know, but the Lord had already prepared me for such a time as this! 

I found that each lesson brought back memories of my time in the Czech Republic, where I was the stranger in a foreign land.  Each kind word or deed, helped me through a very isolating time.  The people who showed patience and love, and helped me form their words, made my experience one to cherish.

I began to connect with my students, and we became fast friends.  Each of them has a unique story, and such a beautiful heart.  Where I thought I didn't have the mental energy to support, they filled that  void with laughter and warmth.

The second 'change' came when I attended the Annual General Meeting for my girls' French school.  There was very low parent turnout, and even less willing volunteers to lead the PAC group.  God had given me a dream the night before, in which I volunteered to lead.  It was absurd to even contemplate, as I do not speak French fluently enough to lead such a committee!

Alas, God had other plans, and it was as though my arm was lifted by a power beyond my intentions....and I was applauded into my new role--most likely due to the relief of those not in my shoes, haha!  I have received so much support in my role, and have grown in my use of the French language.

Throwing myself into roles where I am uncomfortable has given me a new perspective, and has humbled me to ask for help from others.  Although I enjoy the interactions and new friends, I am terrified and plagued by anxiety before each meeting.  I hope those feelings will dissipate with each month. 

That's it for now.  Hopefully it won't take another year to update *tee hee*  God Bless!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Smile

2013 will be a good year.

I don't anticipate that there won't be bumps and obstacles to overcome this year, yet there's a relief that we won't have to repeat any of the challenges that met us in 2012. 

I am thankful that while the Lord pruned us, He gave us strength to grow through pain.  I am full of praise and in awe of our great and merciful God.

Alec is back in school.  Public school.  This is necessary for his healing--as well as ours.  Just when you think you have worked through an area of hurt, another 'trigger' rears its ugly head, and we have to learn to reset our hearts and minds in order to have success.  We have been blessed to find a school with truly compassionate teachers, and an administration that wants to see us all succeed.  What a difference it makes to have a 'team'...I didn't realize how alone I was at the last school until I saw how wonderfully supportive the staff at the new school is. 

Today is Annlise's 11th birthday.  I have no clue how she got to this age so quickly!  She is such a happy, bubbly, friendly young lady....with a heart made for loving!  We presented her with a gift before school:  a hamster cage.  She was so delighted, and shreeked with joy.  We will be going sometime this week for her to adopt her furry little creature, and pick out the toys for the cage.

Thank you Lord for your Love.