Tuesday, April 29, 2014

the loud reminder

Our little Coconut is now a little over 2 years old. Rambunctious, funny, vibrant, and LOUD...

He did this the other day (kinda loud video alert) :

video


I IMMEDIATELY connected it to this (louder video than the previous one):

video


The connection was more sweet than bitter... for which I am thankful.

We rejoice in the brown haired, asian eyed, big noggin bundle of personality and joy that is Ian!

But as each month draws us closer to Ian's 3rd birthday, I know we will think more and more about his similarities and differences to Christian at 3 years old.

Each passing stage and milestone is a crazy mixed up reminder of the blonde boy that graced our home and forever impressed our hearts... the gift of remembering fondly and the pain of saying goodbye to those moments all over again.

Grief is complicated like that.


Monday, August 26, 2013

5 years

"We wept when we were born though all around us smiled;
so shall we smile when we die when all around us weep."
-Charles Spurgeon

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The number on the calendar today marks 5 years... half a decade!... 60 months!... since I last held my cheeky, blonde, funny, giggly, stinkerpot little boy.

"Now life will be a little less sweet, death a little less bitter."
-Thomas Shepherd after the death of his wife (1700s)

When I wonder if Christian is forgotten, God reminds me of how our family and friends still remember... But most of all, how He still remembers.

On my down days, He sends encouragement directly through His Word, or through a phone call, radio song, sermon at church, email from a stranger, hug from a friend.  Today is manageable so far because I was blessed with being heard yesterday.  How can those that never knew the old me and my little Christian be so loving and compassionate and kind?  To listen to my stories of him from so many years ago and to weep with me as if that dreadful day had just happened yesterday? Truly God's gift of sisters in Christ!

And then there are these guys. Oh these guys!  Our added joy, God's gift to us... The ones that remind us that life is still in front of us. I pray fervently that this hard place in the story of their lives will not be wasted.  It pains me to see them cry. Their young man arms wrapping around me when they see the look I get in my eyes. I think I know them so well... and sometimes forget how well they know their mama too.

And Ian. Oh my, our beautiful mess! His grin full of mischief and chin jutted slightly out like his big brother Christian used to do. He looks like mini Austin but acts so much like Christian-- full of busy and charm and temper and the trouble that should make you mad but you just can't help but laugh at him instead.

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"Life is bigger than loss because God is bigger than loss.
They bear witness to the truth that pain and death do not have the final word; God does.
-Jerry Sittser, A Grace Disguised

My soul has been stretched.

The overwhelming pain of loss has given me an incredible joy in the every day.  How such joy and sorrow can live side by side and yet intermingle is beyond my understanding. And yet there it is. Sure there are still frustrations and annoyances and the ever present missing, but these are evidence of life and living!  Ordinary is extraordinary.  

For you mama's dealing with the knee high bunch (or even the taller than you teen bunch!), hug your little ones a little more. It's okay to get frustrated and deal with messes and tantrums and noise. Love your kids... and when you lose it, ask for forgiveness and press on. It is evidence of life!  Carseats and crumbs, puking and potty training, giggles and hugs, songs and slides... Yes it is hard and exhausting being the mama. But God chose YOU to be mom to your child... What a high calling! Do not be weary in your well doing... It will be worth it.

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God has never left me. 

His grace has been immeasurable. 

Though this journey seems impossible at times, IT IS STILL WELL WITH MY SOUL.

May I never forget.

To God be all glory.

"I did not go through pain and come out the other side;
instead, I lived in it and found within that pain the grace to survive and eventually grow.
I did not get over the loss of my loved ones;
rather, I absorbed the loss into my life, like soil receives decaying matter,
until it became a part of who I am."
-Jerry Sittser, A Grace Disguised

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Dear Christian,

It has been 5 years since the day you met Jesus. Are you celebrating this day? Do you pray for us as we still mourn you?

Ian is starting to say more words... He says mama the most-- almost nonstop! Sometimes when he means Noah, we think he is asking for a banana. I wonder if he would say your name like you used to? 

"I Chis-chun!"

Not a day goes by that we don't think of you and miss you. I watch the few video clips of you that I have and I smile to remember your voice and laughter.  Ian is almost big enough to start playing with the trains and tracks that you loved so much. I wonder if he will love them as much as you did.

We have two of our family pictures on the refrigerator. Daddy and I are always sure to tell Ian your name and how you are his big brother. One day our family will be complete and we will all be together again... Daddy, Mommy, Austin, Noah, Christian and Ian. I can't wait for that day!

Remember how you used to bring me yard flowers or hold my hand and ask "I make you happy mommy?"  Well, my little wonderboy, even though we are apart right now, you make me happy. Very happy!

I love you!
Mommy


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But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep,
that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again,
even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord,
that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord
shall not prevent them which are asleep.

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout,
with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God:
and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds,
to meet the Lord in the air:
and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

-I Thessalonians 4:13-18

Sunday, May 12, 2013

almost made it through mother's day

I almost made it through Mother's Day 2013 without crying.

It started while I was grabbing a few things at the grocery store tonight after church.  Out of the blue, my chest started to tighten and that familiar swell of sorrow threatened to rise up.

Nope, not tonight. 
Not here. 
I'm not in the mood to deal with this right now. 
Wait until I get home, wait until after the kids are in bed, just wait!

So I pushed it down and tried to think about whether I should buy that cut of meat that was packaged yesterday instead of today... what pasta shapes the boys might prefer... Ahhh... shapes...

The night before Christian died, I let him choose which shape of pretzels we should get at the grocery store. He decided on the small pretzel sticks, squealing with delight and holding the bag all the way home. The next morning, he begged to eat pretzels for breakfast!

{I'm glad I said yes.}

When he was still missing, us not knowing he was already in the arms of Jesus, I looked down at my feet and saw the broken pretzel sticks that had fallen from his hands that very morning.

*sigh*

Push the image away, change the channel in my brain, and leave the store quickly.

But after the kids are in bed, I can't hold it back.

*SIGH*

David mutes the TV and asks what is wrong.

It's nothing.

That's an awfully big sigh for it to be nothing...

And he's right.

I cry.
He holds me.

I need to sit in the grief moment and take it in. Holding onto it is the only way to release it.

And when the moment's tears are spent, we go back to what we were doing, all too familiar with this routine of unexpected tears.

Psalm 103 keeps going through my head... and I am thankful for the calm that it brings to my heart...

Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.

Prayer in verse, prayer in song, running through my head as I drift off to sleep...
Thank you, dear God, for your Word... always timely, always relevant, always near to my broken heart.



Sunday, January 20, 2013

God knew 9 years ago...

I have been looking for a particular picture for over one and half years.

I found it tonight!!!

When we first moved to Guam almost 2 years ago, I was sad we had this grand new adventure and no Christian to share it with. It wasn't a large outward boohoo, but one of those small things in a deep corner of my heart.

It wasn't long before God reminded me of a whirlwind two day stay in Guam back in 2004...

Ritidian Beach... Only ONE picture... and it's of me... pregnant with Christian!



I can honestly say that ALL of my boys have been to Guam!

Thank you God for knowing 9 years ago that I needed this gift today.


Haven of Hope Retreat for grieving moms

Registration is now open for our third annual Haven of Hope Retreat! The Retreat will once again be held in Round Top, Texas, which is approximately 2 hours from Houston, 1.5 hours from Austin, and really close to Brenham. :)  Retreat dates are March 8-10, 2013.

Would you please help spread the word?  

The registration link is at: www.haven-of-hope.com/retreat
You may share the flyer link and/or print it out HERE.

Haven of Hope Retreat

We are just a group of Christian moms on this grief journey trying to encourage one another in the Lord and share the HOPE that we have only through Jesus Christ.

It's not a weekend of only tears (though they are a plenty), but a place of safety and understanding... We talk, laugh, eat, pray, sing, craft and share our hurts, hearts, and children with one another.  Casual and Christ-centered with the Bible as our guide.

Please pray. Not only for us as we prepare the practical details, but for the moms that God already knows will be attending. It does take great courage to share this deep grief with strangers (although it doesn't take long to become fast friends). We are honored that these moms are willing to share their children with us.

To God be the glory.


Monday, December 24, 2012

heavy



There is a heaviness that has been sitting on my heart this week. It is a physical weight that makes it a little difficult to breathe, slows my steps, and makes me want to climb into bed for a month. We have been so busy trying to get back into the routine of life and school and sleep schedules, I hardly noticed it at first.  But with each passing day, each day closer to Christmas, it becomes heavier.... tugging, threatening to pull me down, down, down...

I hate that Christian isn't here with us to see the "missmus wights" or to help pick out a color for his room... that he's not here to fight over who gets to wear the Santa hat and pass out gifts... I don't even know if he would be like Noah and prefer chocolate ice cream or vanilla like Austin prefers... Would he be reading fiction books like Austin or nonfiction like Noah or simply prefer no books at all?

I want to scream but I'm too tired. Perhaps weary is the better word...

I sit down at the piano to plunk out a few Christmas songs. As I flip through the hymn book, the pages open to two songs.

The Cross Is Not Greater


"The cross that He gave me may be heavy,
But it ne'er outweighs His grace;
The storm that I feared may surround me,
But it ne'er excludes His face.

The thorns in my path are not sharper
Than composed His crown for me;
The cup that I drink not more bitter
Than He drank in Gethsemane.

The light of His love shineth brighter,
As it falls on paths of woe;
The toil of my work groweth lighter,
As I stoop to raise the low.

His will I have joy in fulfilling,
As I'm walking in His sight;
My all to the blood I am bringing,
It alone can keep me right.

The cross is not greater than His grace,
The storm cannot hide His blessed face;
I am satisfied to know
That with Jesus here below,
I can conquer every foe."

-Ballington Booth

I struggle at times with that last stanza: "I am satisfied to know, That with Jesus here below, I can conquer every foe."  

I do believe that through Christ, we can conquer anything (Philippians 4:13).  It is the satisfied part that wavers from time to time.  

When I am rested and in His Word and "strong", I think "Yes, I can do this. I can run this race and be happy and joyful and content. I know I will see Christian again! Life is good! God is good!"

When I am tired and stressed and too busy with the things of this world to be consistent in prayer and reading God's Word, that is when my burden is TOO HEAVY to bear.  When holidays and special occasions mark the passing of time, the happy memories of Christmas long ago come rushing back, the sweet mixing with the bitter... and I cry...

How much longer must we wait, Lord, for your return?!

The words of the other song jump from the page.  This is a familiar song


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The Christian's Good-Night

Sleep on, beloved, sleep, and take thy rest; 
Lay down thy head upon thy Savior's breast; 
We love thee well, but Jesus loves thee best--
Good-night! Good-night! Good-night!

Calm is thy slumber as an infant's sleep;
But thou shalt wake no more to toil and weep:
Thine is a perfect rest, secure and deep--
Good-night! Good-night! Good-night!

Until eternal glory lights the skies,
Until the dead in Jesus shall arise,
And He shall come, but not in lowly guise--
Good-night! Good-night! Good-night!

Only "Good-night", beloved-- not "Farewell!"
A little while, and all His saints shall dwell
In hallowed union indivisible--
Good-night! Good-night! Good-night!

Until we meet again before His throne,
Clothed in spotless robe He gives His own,
Until we know even as we are known--
Good-night! Good-night! Good-night!


I don't cry for Christian-- he is in that perfect rest and will never have to suffer the hurts of this world like we do. I cry for us. Christian's greatest gain was our greatest loss. It is in this loss that I give thanks for the promise and HOPE we gained when Jesus came in lowly guise all those years ago. Jesus Christ was born to us... He is the only reason we can say Good-night rather than Farewell!

As you prepare to celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ, would you please take time to pray for the families that have said Good-night?  No matter how little or much time has passed, the missing and hurt is amplified during the holiday season. Your prayers make a tremendous difference in keeping together that which the devil seeks to destroy!

I choose joy.  Even in the hard moments.

To God be the glory.



Saturday, November 10, 2012

i can't choose

I put Ian in his bed and walked outside for a second, telling the boys "Keep an eye on Christian for me. I'll be back in a second."

They both stopped.

"You called him Christian. You mean Ian, right?"

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I wonder how long I'll be doing that? It brings back those first weeks of his absence... accidentally calling Noah or Austin his name, just like I did when he was here.

Although it brings about a moment of awkwardness, making that mistake again isn't all bad.

It throws me back to a time where it hasn't been THIS LONG since Christian left us. It somehow makes me feel a tad closer to the time that he was last with us... closer to hearing his voice, smiling at his laughter and mischief, feeling his sweet sweaty head lying on my shoulder... feeling his cheek beneath my lips... I remember barely hanging on to the edge of my bed because Christian would sneak into our room at midnight and climb smack dab in between David and me.

I can't believe it has been over 4 YEARS since Christian passed away. 
I can't believe he would be turning 8 years old on Monday.

When we went back to our house in Texas earlier this summer, I did not expect to be so emotional when I walked through the back door of our house and into our old familiar world. I looked at Ian cradled in my arms... our new son that will not meet his big brother this side of Heaven... the son that might not even be here had Christian not passed away in the first place.

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Right before we left Guam for Texas, David had a dream...

God told him that things could be the way they were. 
Our family together with three boys, Christian the baby of them all...
Our family never touched by true sorrow... Not in pieces, but whole.
We could have Christian! Here!
...But then we wouldn't have Ian.

Or we could have Ian...
and He would keep Christian.

God said to CHOOSE.

Then David woke up.

I am so thankful that God doesn't ask us to choose! How could we ever choose?! 
We could not! Not ever!

Even when we wish He would answer our prayers just as we ask them, I am thankful that we can trust Him to look at the big picture and love us enough to sometimes say no... and when we hurt with this saying of no, He holds us close and reminds us that He is faithful and sure.

Choosing joy (or fighting for joy) in the midst of sorrow is one thing, but choosing our yesterday, today and forever?  I dare not.

God thundereth marvellously with his voice;
great things doeth he, which we cannot comprehend.
-Job 37:5

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Although this journey is hard, I get the best of both worlds. Christian AND Ian.

And all because of Jesus.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Teenager!



How can something that started off so small...


[Is it my imagination or do y'all also see a resemblance to Ian?]


...turn into a taller-than-mom young man?


[These pictures were taken back in March. He looks even older now! 
I have a feeling I'm going to be making that same statement for the next 10 years... okay, 30.]


On the birthday agenda:
-breakfast of bacon and eggs
-scuba diving with daddy
-lunch!
-mint chocolate chip ice cream birthday cake from marble slab
-dinner at his favorite Korean restaurant where he can chow down on bulgogi

Hmmm... 4 out of 5 things on that list deal with food.  Imagine that.

HAPPY 13th BIRTHDAY, AUSTIN!!!




Monday, August 6, 2012

2012-2013 Homeschool Curriculum




It's time for the 4th annual "Not" Back-to-School Blog Hop!

This week is all about curriculum. *swoon*

Hello, my name is Marsha and I am a curriculum junkie.

With all the new! and amazing! and fun! products that come out every year, no wonder it is hard to choose or stick with the same program each year. Even when I have chosen and purchased and planned, there is no guarantee that two weeks into the program we will decide that I was overly ambitious in the planning stage (hello, Mapping the World by Heart from last year... not!).

It will be interesting to see how our daily schedule plays out with Ian in the mix.

He is a pretty happy and easy going baby 99% of the time.
But sometimes that 1% is a doozy! :-)



AUSTIN - 13 years old, Grade 7/8

Math:
Teaching Textbooks Math 7

History:
All American History Volume 1: The Explorers to the Jacksonians

Science:
*Science Fusion Life Science: Cells and Heredity, The Diversity of Living Things, The Human Body

Language Arts:
Wordly Wise 3000 Level 7 and Level 8
The Giggly Guide to Grammar
The Paragraph Book 2: Writing the Paragraph that Tells a Story
Daily Language Review Grade 8

Foreign Language:
**Rosetta Stone Latin Level 2

Other:
Type to Learn 4: Agents of Information
Guitar
Swimming
Scuba Diving




NOAH - 11 years old, Grade 6

Math:
Math U See Epsilon
Teaching Textbooks Math 7

History:
All American History Volume 1: The Explorers to the Jacksonians

Science:
*Science Fusion Life Science: Cells and Heredity, The Diversity of Living Things, The Human Body

Language Arts:
Wordly Wise 3000 Level 6
The Giggly Guide to Grammar
The Paragraph Book 2: Writing the Paragraph that Tells a Story
Daily Language Review Grade 6

Foreign Language:
**Rosetta Stone Latin Level 2

Other:
Type to Learn 4: Agents of Information
Guitar
Swimming
Soccer


* Just so y'all know, the science was discounted through Homeschool Buyer's Co-op. Membership is free and I have purchased programs and curriculum for 30-60% off retail price.

** I HIGHLY recommend Rosetta Stone. If you buy it through My Father's World, you will get their Daily Lessons Plans for Level 1 for free. If you can swing it financially, buy Levels 1 & 2 together as you will kick yourself later for having to pay for Level 2 by itself. It's a much better deal together.


To see what everyone else is doing this year or to join in the fun, visit the iHomeschool Network HERE.

Not Back to School Blog Hop

PS I can't leave y'all with a crying Ian!



Ahhh... that's better.






Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Summer


Temps reached 110 today. It feels like summer and smells like summer and a part of me wants to run away from this place and the memories of that August night.

Then I remember the long summer days that were filled with water balloons and rocket sprinklers and digging for gold and I realize that summer is not all bad.





Can you please pray for me?  I am feeling emotional and a little on edge tonight.

I also covet your prayers for the Haven of Hope Retreat this coming Friday through Sunday.  Please pray for God to prepare the hearts of those attending and to encourage the hearts of those that are leading. It truly is a privilege to serve the Lord and my fellow sisters in Christ. I am excited to see God's hand this weekend!

To God be the glory.





The will of God will never take you...
where the grace of God cannot keep you, where the arms of God cannot support you, where the riches of God cannot supply your needs, where the power of God cannot endow you.

The will of God will never take you...
where the Spirit of God cannot work through you, where the wisdom of God cannot teach you, where the army of God cannot protect you, where the hands of God cannot mold you.

The will of God will never take you...
where the love of God cannot enfold you, where the mercies of God cannot sustain you, where the peace of God cannot calm your fears, where the authority of God cannot overrule for you.

The will of God will never take you...
where the comfort of God cannot dry your tears, where the Word of God cannot feed you, where the miracles of God cannot be done for you, where the omnipresence of God cannot find you.

– Author Unknown