Monday, August 29, 2011

Beautiful Distraction

This is a difficult school year for us.  It would have been Austin's Senior year and he would've graduated next May.  For parents who've lost a child, life is full of "what could've beens" and missed memories.  Milestone moments are the toughest though.  Throughout the school season, each special occassion we see others and Austin's friends celebrating, is a reminder of our loss.  The pain from losing him is magnified and our hearts are torn apart yet again. 

However, even though the pain can sometimes seem unbearable, God always has a way of pulling us through.  Just as in those first few weeks of our loss, He washes peace over us when we need it most.  At times, I feel He even sends other trials and troubles, or allows them to come at least, to take our mind off the heartache awhile. 

For the past couple years, I've seen it mostly in the form of physical ailments.  And while in the moment of suffering from a shingles outbreak, bronchitis, or a random new allergy to poison sumac, it's not something I'd request; looking back I see how it helped distract my focus.  Or, perhaps it's the chaotic burden of multiple appliances breaking down at once or other household emergencies.  The past month the health of others, including Tim, has certainly required the majority of my attention. 

In the midst of the troubles though has been one very beautiful distraction.  Since the first of August, we have had my niece, Tina, in our home.  It was sudden and unexpected, certainly not something we were emotionally prepared for but somehow it's fallen together quite well.  She's a special child, full of curiousity and wit, and has added extra doses of laughter and love to our family.

Though I've gradually changed around Austin's room the past year or so, it has been a slow process and something that has been difficult for us to complete.  Tina coming to us, and the knowledge she may be with us for quite some time, has pushed us at completing this...with a purpose.  While there have been many tears packing our beloved son's things away, I have done it with the gentle whisper of him in my ear.  Austin has loving prodded me through all of this, urging me to help her because he knows we can.  And even on days when I doubt my abilities, it just takes a hug from Tina, or her soft smile, to remind me again.

In a year that we could so easily have spiraled back down into the fog of depression, letting each milestone and special day missed pull us deeper, we have been given the gift of purpose.  We have been blessed with the opportunity to help care for another child in need, who gives us new focus, strength, and love.  She's helping heal our family without even knowing it.  And I couldn't be more grateful.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Outdoor Living

It's no secret that the favorite room in my house is really outside my house, on the deck.  If the weather cooperates, I spend at least a little time out here every day.  Whether it's the calm peace of watching the world come awake with my coffee in the morning, or a simple alfresco dinner with the family in the evening, I love being out in my backyard retreat. In fact, I'm blogging now from the deck in my new favorite spot, the comfy couch. 

We bought our former patio set the same year Tim built the deck, and even though it served us well for five years, it was time to put it to rest.  I've had my eye on patio couches for some time and was overJOYed to find a complete "conversation set" that includes a couch, coffee table, chairs and a table setting for four, on summer clearance I might add.  The find couldn't have come at a better time, as aside from the wonderful weather we'll be seeing for weeks, the set could make its debut for our deck party last night.

Mom's birthday is in July, but instead of a trinket to collect dust, I gave her IOUs for "moments & memories" that she could cash in whenever she wanted.  While it didn't take a second for her turn in the sushi card, she's held for several weeks on the movie date.  A random text from her days ago mentioned "Cobwboys & Aliens", a film that just happened to be playing at the Drive In this weekend.  That seemed like the perfect time to tag on dinner on the deck; and one of the best outdoor meals I know of, especially with a crowd, is a low country boil. 

I hit the Farmers Market early yesterday (another summer favorite) to load up on fresh corn and new potatoes.  Even though it took a drive to another county for the seafood, I knew it'd be worth it come time for dinner.  With the help of Mom, my little sis, Noah and my two nieces, we made an assembly time to put the boil together, all while seated at the comfy new conversation set.  Once finished, we tossed the massive basket of vegetables, shrimp, sausage and crab across the table.  Gathered all together, elbows rubbing, chins dripping with butter, with sprinkles of laughter and chatter, it was the perfect family meal.

We then loaded up three kids, two trucks, half dozen blankets, a cooler, and chairs to finish off the fabulous evening under the stars, taking in two movies at the Drive In.  Even though stuffed from our feast, none of us could pass on the tubs of popcorn, candy, and other goodies that we'd share from chair to chair throughout the shows.  I had a wonderful time, but it was made complete with the giant, lengthy hug Mom gave me at the end.  No words needed, I know she loved the evening.  ....It was a pretty super summer Saturday...completely enjoyed outdoors!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Shake It, Girl!

For the past couple weeks, I've started back going to a Zumba exercise class, offered at a local church.  I did it a few years ago and forgot how much I missed it, even though my aching body disagrees!  This week, in the midst of our chaos, and even not feeling well myself, (thanks to the back-to-school bug), I still drug myself there.  Dancing and sweating provided a much needed release from the stresses of the week, not to mention that I surprisingly felt better afterwards.

In this month of bad luck, I did have a fortunate streak when I won a contest on a friend's blog (check her out) and received a pack of DVDs and exercise plan.  It's called "Walk at Home with Lesley Sansone" and I'm excited to lace up my new Shape-Ups and try it out this weekend.  I'm noticing a theme here and I promise I'm not sponsored to mention any of these products today! 

Truly, my whole point of this post is how important it is to "make time for ME" (and by ME, I mean YOU too!).  As a mom/wife/daughter/employee/friend, it's often easy for the true you to get lost in the mix.  I know I'm very guilty of always putting me last.  If I'm shopping for clothes, I buy for others first.  When I'm plating dinner, I serve myself last.  If there's something I want to do (read, exercise, relax, etc), I tell myself it can happen AFTER I get laundry, cleaning, and other household needs done.  And that's just not the right, or healthiest, attitude to have. 

As women, we need to choose us first sometimes.  Think about the safety drill on airplanes with the oxygen masks and the warning they always give to help yourself first.  Because, without oxygen, you can't help someone else.  "Choosing You" is the same mentality.  Without giving to yourself and investing in you, little by little you have less and less to give others.  I know it's a hard pill to swallow for us wanna-be-superwomen.  It's an adjustment for me, I admit.  One that I have tried many times and failed miserably at ,but like every good woman, you can't keep me down.  I'm gonna dust myself off, and shake it...for ME.  (that's a Zumba-pun for those of you who've never tried it)

What's one thing you can do for yourself today?  This weekend?  Make a goal to put "Me first" just once this coming week.  Try it, I promise you'll like it...and you're family will be the better for it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Ever feel like the saying, "when it rains it pours" is an understatement?  That just about sums up my life lately.  I don't know why but it seems that bad news and events seem to like hanging around each other.  And, for whatever reason, they've chosen to visit many in my family this month! 

At this point, I almost expect the phone to ring, telling me of another illness, problem, or prayer needed.  In the past month, both in and out of my immediate family, every single person, on both my mother and father's, side has had health concerns or other issues.  In our own home, Tim's suffering from debilitating back pain from a recent wreck we were in.  While the wreck seemed so minor at the time, it was Tim's second in a month (neither his fault), and has caused a world of trouble for him.  Not one to lie around, being off work and on bed rest is just about unbearable for him, not to mention the pain.

My Grandmother suffered from a few falls, and with her declining vision, has had to stop driving.  This has been such a change for her, as she's one of the busiest most active 80-something-year-olds I know.  This, in addition to just recently losing her sister, has made it a difficult few weeks.  To add to her heartache, her only daughter was placed in the hospital this week and doctor's are uncertain exactly what is wrong.  With my Aunt's history of cancer and heart problems though, we're all prayerfully concerned.

My Dad's health has had ups and downs the past couple of years but he's had a rough summer.  My Mom fell last week, landing hard on her chin and knees.  She already has pain and mobility issues so this hasn't helped her.  Added to it, is concern for her husband, my step dad.  Since his stroke last year, his health has also declined and the past week he's been feeling ill. 

Each of my siblings are facing difficulties as well, many of which involve more personal information than I'm willing to share in a post.  My youngest niece is facing concerning health issues in that she's only three and having problems with her leg that doctors and even specialists are puzzled over.  To see her little body limping in pain just breaks my heart and I pray we find answers soon.  And my oldest sister, who has made some poor choices in her life, just recently lost custody of her three children.  Now all three are living in different homes and we've welcomed the youngest daughter into ours.

As someone who is sometimes overly dramatic, I promise there is no embellishment in this laundry list of family crises.  In fact, I've shared lightly because so much of it doesn't involve me.  That's probably what makes all of this harder - because I have to watch everyone hurting, knowing I can't just easily go in and fix any of it.  So what's one to do when those they love are in need of something I can't provide?  How do you face each day with a positive outlook when things look so dreary and uncertain? 
While I don't have all the answers, and can't explain the why of many things, I trust God with my troubles.  Even without explanations, I know He can provide us with peace in times of chaos.  And while I would never wish for my family to be in pain, I know that in times of need we draw closer to God, at least I do.  I appreciate the closeness that trying times bring me to Him.  Just as flowers need rain, the downpours of life refresh our spirit after we've come through them.  And, without the valleys, we don't appreciate the mountains near as much.

Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.  -Romans 8:18

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

PB Delight

What do peanut butter, corn syrup, and butter have in common?  They cure what ails you!  Or, at least they sooth my soul (and Noah's too).  More than anything for me, they take me back to my childhood sitting at the table with my Grandma Coons.  I love how family recipes connect you to generations, memories and emotions.

When combined, these three ingredients create a luxurious spread to be enjoyed on a slice of soft, white bread.  As kids we just called it Grandma's dessert; somewhere along the line it became known as "peanut butter delight", but whatever the name it is ooey gooey comfort on a plate!

Sunday evening our entire household was on a downward spiral.  At first, I'd hoped it was just disappointment of the ending of a fun weekend.  But Tim's back had grown increasingly worse (more on that in another post) and Noah had sniffles throughout the day.  By the time the sun was down, so were both of them.  I never like to see my guys in pain and knowing they feel bad saddens me, especially when I can't fix it.

After dinner, I decided to concoct this yummy treat, knowing it would at least bring some comfort to Noah.  Placing Tim in the hot tub for some therapy, I headed for the kitchen.  As soon as I began assembling the recipe, my nerves began to calm.  It was as if thirty years faded and all my worries melted when I stirred the butter and peanut butter together.  Drizzling in the corn syrup and blending to just the right consistency, I could picture my Grandma doing the same. 

With Tim dried off and wrapped up on the couch and Noah snuggled beside me, we enjoyed the treat together.  Smiling, he rested his head on my shoulder, remembering the times I'd made this before.  I loved knowing he has happy memories on this sweet delight, just as I did as a child.  In fact, I don't guess you ever really outgrow them since just preparing it brought back warm childhood moments for me. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Staycation Getaway

Sometimes you just need to get away, even if it's just mentally.  While we weren't able to physically take a "real" vacation, our family needed a break from reality.  By 4:00 on Friday afternoon, I made the decision we were going on a staycation...STAT!

There's been some major events the past few weeks, lots of changes in our household, as well as some personnel drama for Tim at the fire department.  All the unexpected stressors resulted in us deciding to disconnect and reconnect!

Though Tim's always "on call" being Chief of a fire department, he surprised me and left his radio and cell phone at home as we left out Friday evening.  Of course, even that didn't work, as we ended up driving up on a wreck so we had a bit of delay for dinner!  By the time the patient was wheeled into the ambulance though, he was back in the truck and we were on our way.

We surprised the kids with a night on the town, complete with plates of never-ending pasta, mini golf and go cart races, and a late night ice cream run.  Yesterday we loaded up the boat, complete with picnic goodies, and spent the entire afternoon on the river.  We floated, swam, ate, splashed, tubed, ate some more and enjoyed the sunshine.  Actually we soaked up the sun to it's last ray, arriving home at dark.  Showered up and snuggled in, we ended with a Harry Potter movie marathon until our eyes would cooperate no longer.

Today's been a mixture of being lazy and completing errands we neglected the rest of the weekend in preparation for the coming week.   And I may keep the lazy, vacation state of mind and order take-out for Sunday dinner.  While it's not always easy to shut out worldly distractions, obligations, phone calls, and stress, sometimes it's just something that's necessary.  Just like with vacation, you can't stay gone forever, but it sure is nice for a break once in awhile!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ahhhh, Summertime

These cooler days have reminded me how quickly summer is fading.  Although fall doesn't officially begin until nearly the end of September, the "unofficial" last weekend of summer is just two weeks away!  This looming deadline has me daydreaming of all the last bits of summer fun I can squeeze out. 

It's a happy balance, as even though I will miss summertime, I'm eagerly anxious for fall and all it has to offer! But before I start planning uses for the pumpkins snaking under my deck and pulling out comfy sweatshirts, I want to enjoy every moment summer still has to offer. 

A few of my hopes to fit in these last few sunshiny weeks are...

We still haven't visited a few water holes that were on my list this year, as the weather hasn't cooperated with my weekends.  I need to dip my toes in the cool liquid,
glide across it while pulling Noah on his tube, and catch a mess of fish or two
 just a few more times.

While I won't "wimp out" and use a camper (because that's just not how it's meant to be done), I am picky about when and where I camp.  The temperature needs to be just right and a shower facility within walking distance is an added perk.  Hopefully, we'll get to celebrate the last long weekend at one of our favorite spots, enjoying the smell of a campfire, sleeping under the stars and making family memories.

Ice Cream
My homemade ice cream recipe has been calling to me all season.  I need to feel that luxurious and creamy mixture on my tongue!  And although I am adventurous with flavors while ordering or shopping for ice cream, at home I keep it simple. 
Perfectly perfect vanilla.  Mmmmmm!

And a few more, which really need no explanation.  Some of which we've already enjoyed this season but sneaking in a few more sure won't hurt my feelings!

Movie night at the Drive-In
Low country boil on the deck
Savoring every last tomato summer has to offer
Chasing Lightning Bugs
Going Barefoot
Flip Flops!
Freshly Cut Grass
Warmth hugs from the summer sun
Family Cookouts
Island Burgers
Road trips with the top down and the music up
Alfresco Dining

Please don't go so quickly, sweet summertime!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Joy in Surrender

We visited a new church Sunday but it was filled with old memories.  It was reminiscent of the church I grew up in, with my Grandpa in the pulpit.  From the casual-down-to-earth nature, to the birthday song, to announcing attendance numbers, so many moments reminded me of another time.

What was very much in the present though was the message.  It was about surrendering to God - even when it doesn't make sense, even when we don't agree or understand, and even when we're scared.

While there are still things in my life I may forever question, trusting in God and surrendering to Him, is what has always pulled me through.  Through the big and the little trials of life, giving it to God is how I've managed..functioned...and keep on going.  That's faith, I guess.  I actually just looked up the definition to see if surrender was listed among them.  While not in the exact words, it said, "Faith - a belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God's will."

We may not ever know in this life why we face struggles, uncertainty, pain or loss, but I do believe there is a greater purpose behind it all.  I know leaning on God has got me through each day - and brought me closer to him.  While many in my extended family are going through many of these same obstacles now, I trust in Him to provide, to bring us peace, and to carry us through when we need it. 

"My ability to handle life's storms rests upon my ability to give them to God!"

Friday, August 12, 2011

My SuperStar!

Last week, while at a night meeting, I received a dozen calls from Noah in a row.  Worried, I texted to see what he needed. 

"Can you please call this number and get me an audition?" he typed back.

I returned a note, letting him know that I could not and that he'd need to talk to his dad, who happened to be in the same room with him.  Two hours later, on my way home, I called him to get more details.

With a word-a-second explanation, he began spatting off something he heard on the radio and how he REALLY wanted to audition for a commercial.  I apologized for not being there and told him we'd look into to it the next day.  When I got home, he had his audition time.  On his own, he called the company and set it.  Initiative!

On Saturday, we drove to Evansville, not just for his audition, but to finish our school shopping.  He was excited the entire day, which to my advantage made trying on clothes with him a breeze (note to self for the future!).  After a quick swing through McDonalds for an outfit change, we were Audition Bound.

With nervous jitters, he eagerly made his way to the desk and signed in, handing them his head shot that I luckily had taken just days before (perk of mom doing photography!)

We waited in line for what seemed like an eternity.  As the line grew shorter to the audition table, I could visually see his jitters. 

I looked at him and whispered, "Pinky toe!"  

This, of course, gained me a weird look from him, as well as a few others within hearing distance.  Puzzled, he questioned me with his expression and I repeated the sentence.  I then explained that he needed to visualize all the nerves being shoved into his pinky toe, as that was all the room he had for them.  He chuckled and made his way to the table for his big chance.  Though still nervous, he did a good job and the man commented on the passion he could feel from Noah.  He said if they wanted him for a call back, we'd hear that night. 

Out of over 700 kids, he was among the 10% they called back.  While extremely proud of him, not just for making the call back, but for having the confidence to try something new and taking the initiative to do it, we opted not to return the next day.  After researching the company, the "return on investment" wasn't enough for the bucket of cash they expected up front so we passed.

Disappointed but understanding, he decided it just wasn't meant to be, but the "pinky toe" he dipped into the world of theatre was enough to give him the acting bug. We decided to explore other opportunities, closer (and cheaper) to home.

The next day I noticed on Facebook that a local magazine was having a photo contest of kids with their pet.  How perfect!  I quickly uploaded by the deadline and waited for the voting to open.  Now, I'll annoyingly remind my friends a half dozen times a day to click on the site and vote for my boy.  (hint, hint!!)

Noah's excited about the opportunity to be (in his words) "in a real life magazine!"  In the meantime, my competitive edge is stalking the contenders, setting alarms to vote myself and eagerly awaiting the results.

If you'd like to join me in the effort, click the "hint, hint" link above or.....go here:

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Trust in Timing

I've had writer's block the past few days, which is highly unusual for me.  It's not for lack of topic, it's for not knowing how to edit it.  As a writer who normally bares her soul, when my topic involves others, I find myself tiptoeing through the story. 

This past weekend was eventful, unexpected, chaotic and stressful at times, emotional, and yet it was lined with peeks of peace and joy.  I can't and don't really want to go into the details of what has happened but if you're a praying reader, my extended family could certainly use them.  As a result of the events, some major changes have taken place within our house.

Through it all I've been reminded of trusting in God's timing.   And I've seen the evidence of what happens when you do.  While I can't share yet what has happened and how God set things in motion even before it did; I can share another story in our life that demonstrates his timing and how he provides, often when we don't even realize it.

From Austin's blog:
For Granted

Over the past few days, I've been going through Austin's writings from school. I'm still looking for that essay he was writing about me but the story he wrote about our wreck touched my heart as well.

The story of our wreck is a long essay so I'll just capture some of the lines that touched me most.

"When we arrived there my heart was smashing into my chest. My mammaw and I walked over to the front desk to see where my parents were. The woman told us they were in ICU. (this means Intensive Care Unit) I wasn't sure what to expect, but my heart dropped all the way to the floor when I walked past the curtain. The strongest woman I had ever met was bandaged and broken."
(this is my mantra now on days I think I can't make it another step!)

"She was so surprised to see me. She had a broken finger, nose and knee but was smiling and said, "I love you and am very happy to see you." Then we went to see my dad and he informed us he had 3 blood clots. He reassured me that he would be okay and I agreed. The visiting hours were over and as I walked out of the hospital I sighed with relief because I knew my parents were going to be okay. As we left that day and got in the car, I thought of how they nearly died in a motorcycle wreck and realized how I took them for granted all the time. I know if they had died, my life would never have been the same again.
That is why I never take them for granted anymore."

I've always believed that things happened for a reason. I never doubted that our wreck was a stop sign in life for us. It forced us to slow down and re-prioritize things, to rediscover each other and our boys. It made us closer as a couple, as parents, and as a family. It gave us an opportunity to take a vacation of lifetime and I will never regret the money spent on that Disney cruise - especially now. But it also made our children realize not to take life for granted or those you love, and it made an impression on Austin, even at his young age.

At the time, I was thankful for the "stop sign" and looked forward to the long future I would have with my children. God saved Tim and me and I never once felt I was at a risk of losing a child. I now know that those three years were even more of a gift because we truly used them to the fullest. Each moment, each memory, was a present from God because it would be the last three years we would have with Austin. And the trials we faced through that wreck, certainly strengthened our marriage. We need that strength and foundation now more than ever. I look back over our life and every tragedy has a reason. Right now it is hard to see the purpose from Austin's passing through our tear soaked eyes but I know in time we will. We do, without hesitation, know how precious life is and to not only be thankful for every moment but to use it to its fullest. We will never take each day or each other for granted.

"The cross we bear is a bridge for the dip in the road you can't see but God can."

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

All By Myself

Note *This was written last week, while home alone. Being the chicken little I am, (in addition to just believing it's not smart to publicize some things), I held posting it. :)

To my knowledge, last night was the first time I've slept alone in my house since we moved here nearly ten years ago.  Tim was in Louisville on a business trip and Noah spent the night with my Aunt Becky.  It was strange, different and I'm pretty sure I didn't like it, at least not overall. 

While it was nice to have the night free for whatever I wanted to do, I found myself really missing my guys.  The house was too quiet, even though the dogs tried to keep me company.  I put them both in bed with me (real treat for them) and fell asleep with the tv on.  I'm also sure it was the first time I've slept in our bed without Tim, unless you count the midnight fires he's been dispatched to.  Needless to say, I didn't sleep well. ...Kind of a sad night.

I'm sure by this point you're scrolling back to the top, wondering if you stumbled on the wrong blog.  Where's the JOY, huh!?  Well, amidst the few times I let myself get pouty, that's exactly what I asked.  I reminded myself to be thankful in the moment, to find happiness, and maybe even search itout, for sometimes that's just what you have to do.

So, what joy did I find in my time by myself?  To name a few....

 Being on "Me" Time - no rush to do or get anything ready for anyone else
Lazily and thoroughly catching up on my DVRd shows
Going to bed when I was ready (even though I kept the tv on!)
Having whatever I wanted for dinner and not
feeling a bit guilty for take-out Chinese
Singing "All By Myself" as loudly as I wanted
while wandering through the house
Getting up and out of the house at the crack of down (ok, so maybe that's not joyful) BUT, seeing an amazing sunrise and being
at work early to get lots accomplished was!

And the best part of being home alone because my family is away.....
reconnecting when we're all back home! 

Maybe I'm clingy, maybe I just love them TOO much (if that's possible), but I'm always happiest and most content when we're home, safe and together. 
What's great is that we all feel that way.  Noah and Tim both commented on how much they missed our family and just being together.
I love that about us.

I see so many families who are strangers living under the same roof.  They do activities more individually than together.  They make excuses for time away for a night out with friends.  While I enjoy time out with others, including overnight girl trips, it never compares to the cozy comfort of snuggling with my family in our house. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

To Grandma's House We Go...

Noah will be spending the next few days with my Grandma and family (aka Aunt Becky).  They've been wanting him to stay all summer and the days just got away from us.  As this is his last official week off, we decided it was now or never!

Last night while we were packing, I remembered the many trips made to Grandma's as a child.  My visits were much more frequent than just a few days in the summer though.  I spent just about every other weekend and a large chunk of my summers there, alternating with both sets of my grandparents.  Looking back, I know what a blessing it was to have all four grandparents in my life, throughout my childhood, and to have them so involved in upbringing.  I was fortunate to be raised by a village of family!

Noah and I fell asleep last night reliving some of my fond memories and continued the conversation on the way to dropping him off this morning.  Since Grandma Coons is my last living grandparent, and who Noah is staying with, I'll focus on her and some of my favorite memories for this post...

The Couch
My Grandma has had the same couch for 30 years.  No joke.  The funny thing is, it gets better and more comfortable with age, yet looks as nice as it did when she first bought it.  (actually she's somehow managed to have many of her original appliances too...things just aren't made the way they used to be!) 
Anyway, I love sleeping on that couch, whether it be for a nap or at night.  Growing up, we were offered multiple choices - from the upstairs loft, to bunk beds in the spare bedroom, to even sleeping alongside Grandma.  My favorite was the couch, because it was cozy to me.  Grandma had a special way of tucking in a sheet around the cushions and then sandwiching you between before placing her afghan, from the back of the couch, over you.  (yawn!)  Such sweet, sweet memories! 
Noah shares in my enthusiasm for this couch as on his last visit
(just a day trip),
he spent 90% of the time on it...asleep!

I don't really remember how or why this tradition started, but growing up we were told an invisible 6 foot rabbit lived upstairs, named Harvey.  Harvey was always watching us, and while a friendly rabbit, he would come downstairs to correct any inappropriate behavior. 
He was mostly used to get us to eat our food. 
Well, actually to get my little sister to eat; I've never had an appetite problem!  More than anything he was waiting to snatch up our vegetables, unless we scarfed them down first.  Through the years poor Harvey remained in the loft, never truly getting to come down and join us at the table, but he sure helped several generations eat their veggies!

Chinese Checkers
My Grandma is a pro at Chinese Checkers. 
I have many fond memories gathered at the table with her, playing this game. 
She's taught us all well but must've never revealed all her secrets. 
Maybe she invented the game, I don't know. 
I just know she can't be beaten. 

Perhaps my favorite and most treasured memories include the many prayers said by and with my Grandma.  In fact, it is through her example that I learned to pray and have both a love and need for it.  At Grandma's house, you pray at every meal, in the evening during devotion, and before bed...and any other time deemed necessary!  She truly "trained us in the way we should go," teaching simple verses based on our age.  Grandma took me from "Now I lay me" to the honored task of saying grace at family gatherings,
even though two pastors shared the room. 
Her faith and love for God has always shone through in everything she does. 
It is who she is and one of things I love most about her. 
Laced in prayer...My Grandma.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Life Anew

We planted a memorial tree in our yard on Austin's first birthday in Heaven, July 8, 2009.  He would've been 15 that year.  I don't remember what type it was but I specifically picked it because it bloomed in July. 

The tree is planted directly in front of Austin's bedroom window and each time we are outside, no matter the season, it reminds us of him.  That first year we babied it, caring for the tree in hopes that it would grow and bloom in time for his next birthday. 

Last summer, our family gathered in the backyard, on what would've been Austin's 16th birthday.  The tree had grown several feet and was in full, glorious bloom.  Bursting with red leaves and tiny white flowers, it was beautiful and gave each of us such a lovely connection to Austin.

I've since moved my office into his old bedroom.  It's where I write most of my posts for the blog, as being in his room draws even more inspiration for me.  This past February, I was mesmerized by the beauty of the tree covered with ice crystals in the snow.  Light danced across the branches, glistening like tiny diamonds, and watching the tree filled me with peace. 

This spring I was disheartened when I realized new buds were not appearing as usual.  The tree was still dry and brown, and no sign of green peeked through to show new life.  I kept willing it, encouraging the tree to bloom, but it did not.  By July, I tearfully commented to Tim that I didn't think it would bloom for his birthday.  We discussed what we should do, cut it down and plant something new...or hope for the best. 

The week of his birthday, we discovered a special surprise.  Growing off the dead tree was a sprout of new life.  A new tree was growing off the old one.  It began to shoot up so quickly, it was leaning to the side for lack of space from the dead branches.  I wish I had taken a photo before Tim cut the dead away.  It was such a visible example of two lives, one finished and one new.  If you look close, you can see a piece of the old tree, which we were not able to cut away for fear of killing the new growth.

"Behold, I make all things new." - Revelations 21:5

While we weren't given the brilliant display as last summer, the tree presented us with a beautiful gift for his birthday.  As this tree was planted in his memory, seeing the new life form directly from the dying branches was so touching to us.  It was a perfect example of the new life our sweet boy now has in Heaven.  Now, whenever we are outside, or I look out upon it from my desk at his window, I'm reminded of the promise of new life we all have in Christ. 
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."
- 2 Corinthians 5:17
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