Of the Deep Issues of Life (or not)

How is it that you can arrive home from town with a trunk full of groceries, walk in the house and immediately put something on your grocery list?

Why is it that a Mom just can.not.wait to go to bed, while the kids have to be herded, prodded and pushed there? But as soon as their lights go out, Mom doesn’t go to bed. Instead, she props open her eyelids and stays up much longer then she should. Why?

Why is on nights when you put the kids to bed and then go to bed shortly thereafter, they all stay in bed? And then on nights when you stay up until half past the moon, every other kid and their brother gets up in need of something or other and you have to quickly hide your snack? Every single time!

How can it be so that when the child of the household with the least amount of hair is told to take a shower, he will ask every.single.night. “Do I have to wash my hair?”

Whyyyyy do they always want supper?

And why do I wait until an hour before our evening meal and then go into panic mode over what to make? Where is the structured, organized woman inside me that plans everything to a T? She seems to have gone missing.

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Why are Monday mornings so dreadful? Is it because I didn’t keep up with the housework on Sunday and have a mound of dishes? Or maybe it’s Mt. Laundry down the hall waiting on me? Or maybe it’s a stigma of my brain just saying, “It’s Monday again. Let it be blue!”

Why did the creators of children’s toothpaste choose the color of brightest blue?

Why is it when we study memory verses for school that there is absolutely no retaining memory whatsoever. none. But the next day the teacher texts and says, “Word perfect!” How?

Why is it that after so many years of battling small children during church that when you find yourself sitting with only your 10-year-old at your side, you don’t even know how to concentrate anymore?

Why do I bother cleaning up around here? It takes less than 2.5 seconds after they hit the door for the fur to hit the ceiling and what a mess it is!

How is it that my children were born with such a marvelous knowledge of everything? No matter what advice, direction or command I give them, the reply is always the same, “I KNOW!” (now to ensure the proper understanding of this, one must draw out that last word long on the accent and the octaves rising over the syllables of the O‘s.
“I K-N-O-O-O-W!“ They know everything. It truly is amazing.
But thee most unbelievable part of it is this, 2 minutes after they K-N-O-O-O-W, they don’t know. When you ask them a question as to why they did or did not do a certain thing, the reply is always the same, “ I didn’t K-N-O-O-O-W!”
Tell me, how can this be? They K-N-O-O-O-W, but yet they didn’t K-N-O-O-O-W.

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Why is it that my clutter doesn’t bother me that much at all, but when the kids fill the entire desk with their stuff, I like to lose my mind with it all?

Why is it after I have just swept and mopped the floor that the sudden urge to eat crackers hits them all?

Why can my children not find their library book straight up in their backpack but they can see my candy wrapper at the bottom of the trash bag from 5 days ago?

Why do we wait until the last minute to do the nasty jobs? Why not do them immediately and get it over with?

With the amount of tangled, gross hair I extracted from the innards of my sweeper, someone in this house should be bald!

Does it seem to you that Praise and Worship songwriters these days must wear out their copy and paste method?

Why is everything I love to eat bad for me?

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Why do little people feel the need to snip around on their hair?

Yet the same three-year-old these days, when did she become so grown up? Like sitting and sipping cold coffee and when I go to take the cup she says, “Hey! I’m drinking that!” And when she saw her name in the church bulletin announcing her upcoming birthday and she says, “Hey! We need to get home and get started on my cake!”

How is it that a kid can rip, run, jump, and tear around the house for an hour but when asked to go downstairs and get something from the freezer … my word, they almost pass out from sheer exhaustion. It is as if their Mother had forced them to climb Mt Rushmore without oxygen!

Why do we wait until someone is gone to tell everyone about their strengths? Why don’t we tell them while we still have them with us?

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How is it that I was able to keep this plant alive for almost 5 months?
It loves dry and unattended soil.

And where is my urge to go to the basement and sew costumes for the school play?
MIA.

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Winter Days

News from around the farm…
Well, not really because we have no animals other than our fat cat named Jack, who is always free to a good home since he’s not technically ours but rather the neighbor’s, but I would give him away anyway!  Now wasn’t that a great run on sentence to start out with?! As far as news, I don’t know… January was fairly relaxed and rolled into the next month that has the weirdest spelling. This month has been crazy. All kinds of things happening at the same time. Too many things.

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Monday was butchering day… does that interest any of you? 🙂
I know some people just perish at the thought of butchering, but it really doesn’t bother me. It was something we did every winter when I was a kid so it has good memories.

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Food wise around the farm….

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Madison continues to bake.
Not everything turns out perfect and this was one of those times. 🙂
The macaroons were not growing feet! ??
Don’t ask me.

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This stuff.
Oh, my word. Make it. Eat it.

It’s called Honey Dutch Blend. It’s not my recipe, it comes from my friend Anna and I think it came her way from someone in our big Miller family, never the less, make and eat. If you are a health nut, just skip over this recipe and keep reading. If you appreciate all things sticky, ooey, gooey and good, just turn a blind eye to the ingredients and enjoy it. 🙂

Honey Dutch Blend

1 box Honey Combs – 1 box Rice Chex -1 box Corn Chex – 1 bag of Pretzels
Mix together in a large bowl.

1 c. Honey
1 c. Karo
2 1/4 c. Brown Sugar
4 sticks of Butter
Bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes
Add 1/2 tsp baking soda
Stir and quickly pour over cereal mixture.
Spread on wax paper until dry.

It makes a huge batch and it can be cut in half if you wish.

We also made Mocha Brownie dessert the other night.

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This has got to stop, though!
When there is all this good food in the house I have no self-control. none.
Thankfully, we took this to a family gathering and only had half of it left to tempt me. With a crew like mine, that was only enough for one round of dessert.

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Do your kids like to listen to stories?
Go HERE and listen to the Laura Ingalls Wilder books.
Reagan loves them! I think she was born in the wrong era.

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School Days for the kids…
Our teachers do a great job keeping the winter months exciting. Every week there is one or two days with something happening.

They had “clash day” in January but those pictures make me shudder!
One day was “Missionary Day.” The top activity for that day was when the kids smuggled Bibles into the school and hid them. The teachers spent quite a lot of time searching and declared that next year they will bring in reinforcements because the kids are getting better at it every year.
There is cozy-day, popcorn day, exchanging lunches, snack day and more. One day every family is supposed to bring a gallon of milk… hot chocolate day?

Last week we celebrated 100 days of school. They were supposed to dress like a 100-year-old person. I wasn’t home that morning but they needed very little help! One of them especially loved this day.
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I told Dakota to just wear sweatpants because if I were a 100-year-old, I would sit in my chair all day like that. 🙂
Reagan happily dug through a box of old lady dress up clothes I had for other occasions.
Madison didn’t know what to wear so I told her I would stop at Goodwill. I did, and there it was in all its glory for only $4. I took it up to check out and the two little old ladies working the register picked it up and started exclaiming. I opened my mouth to tell them why I was buying it when one says, “This is just beee-u-tiful!” I quickly closed my mouth without speaking and left grinning.

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Yesterday we spend 3 hours on the tubing slopes with the honor roll kids. It was a lovely, bright and sunny day and the kids quickly warmed up! To say they were hungry for lunch after 3 hours of this was an understatement.

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The princess and I have been busy.
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Her room was always just leftover colors from Dakota and she dreamed of having a pink room. Well, her mother is not a lover of all things pink, but oh well, it shouldn’t be too hard to repaint when she is done with pink.

I did my usual painting thing. Started the day by planning to clean the room. Oh well, may as well paint a coat of pink, ah shoot, while it’s drying we’ll do a little gray. Hey, the pink is dry, let’s give it another coat, and by now I would hate to mess up another day, let’s just finish it all! And so by 4:30 we were done. She says, “I didn’t think we were going to do it all today!” Well, neither did I.

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She was happy, happy, happy that night!

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When you have a birthday and can almost not get to your gift because everyone else wants to see it too.

The princess has a birthday coming up too. She is all concerned about me going to town alone sometime or else she won’t have a gift for her birthday!
Unknown to her it’s already in hiding.

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Psalms 91:1-2
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty… He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God, and I am trusting in Him.

What do we need in a storm?
shelter. rest. refuge. safety.
Where do we find that?
In Jesus.

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Walking With the Grieving

Grief-walking is a very long and lonely road. It is so long, in fact, it really has no end because as long as one lives, they will grieve their losses. As long as one lives, a part of their heart will be missing, holes left by the ones gone before.
While it is long and lonely, without fail Jesus is with us, helping to bear this burden. Sometimes he is a quiet presence you feel inside, other times he is there in a tangible sense in the form of a friend or neighbor.
Being willing to be Jesus to a hurting heart means so much to the one grieving. They see you putting yourself aside and giving time and talents to walk beside them. During my grieving, I was blessed in so many ways through the people around me. I knew without a doubt that they loved me, cared for me and while some had never walked this road, they were willing to step into my pain and be there for me. That is true friendship!

One thing to always remember is everyone is different. God created everyone unique and He loves that about us. Because of this, we will also grieve in our own unique way, each one differently than anyone else. When someone is not grieving as you think they should, just be gentle, give them time, love and encouragement.

This post is a compilation of many, many people’s thoughts and feelings. I had a very good response to my questions. Because everyone is different, there are many different ways listed to help someone. Not everyone will agree with everything listed here, so when you want to do something for someone, take into consideration what they would appreciate. Another thing to note, this list is full of things to do for anyone in need, not just a grieving person. Let’s be Jesus to someone today!

Prayer
“I would like to thank every person who has let me know they are praying for me.”
This cannot be overdone, it just cannot. There is so much power in prayer!
I’m not sure where I would be today if it weren’t for praying people.

Send a card.
This is an excellent idea because mail is always appreciated. Along with the card, write a note, a verse, a poem or something of meaning. Words carry weight!
“During the first year, I had a friend who sent a little something in the mail every month about the time my mom died.”

“I love when people talk to me about my loved one.”
This one was mentioned often. To know that the one you are missing has not been forgotten is so important. Talk about them by name, tell them what you miss or what you remember, or ask a question about them.

Babysitting
It was hard to think with the noise of small children around all the time. To have a few hours of peace and quiet alone was worth so much.

“I had church responsibilities when my loved one died. I wish someone would have offered to take my place teaching Sunday School for the rest of my term.”

Remember the important dates. Birthday. Anniversary. Date of death.
Remember with a word, a card, a text, or anything. Just remember.

Send Flowers
Not just over the time of the death, but flowers are appreciated anytime, like important dates or for no reason but to show you care.

“My loved one lived in a different community and over the time of the hospital stay and then death, we spent a lot of time and money on travel. Days off work are costly, gas is expensive. I wish someone had thought of this and if they were able, would have given towards our expenses in this way. Children are often bored while driving. A care package for them would have been wonderful!”

“A friend came just to sit and listen. She didn’t have words of advice, she just sat and listened to me cry and talk. It meant so much.”
It’s okay if you don’t have words, you don‘t need words. We are all prone to want to think of something to say, to have a beautiful reply for every problem, but the gift of sitting and listening is comfort in itself.

“I have a dear friend who stopped in about every week to chat, have coffee, or lunch or whatever. I never had to worry about how the house looked or what she would think of me. It felt so good to inhale the fresh air she brought with her.”

“When someone lets me share my story over and over, it’s therapy. It hurts, but it’s also healing.”

“Do. Not. Judge. And don’t make assumptions either. If you don’t understand, that’s ok. Likely the grief-walker doesn’t understand themselves or the situation any more than you do. Just love and give grace.”

“I wish people had not judged me for the dumb moves I made when my mind was numb with grief. I wish they would have encouraged me instead.”

“I know I am different than I used to be, I know grief has changed me. I just want people to give me grace and time to find the new me.”

“Don’t compare. I wish people would understand that everyone grieves differently. Just because your sibling died doesn’t mean you know how I feel when my Mom died.”

“After losing our baby at 13 weeks someone told me “Well I guess you just need to think about people who have it worse than you do”. Sure I get that, but when you are in the midst of hard grief, that’s not what you need to hear.”

“My Sunday School teacher didn’t put me on the spot by asking me about my loss in front of the entire class because she knew it would be too much for me.”

“Even if I look like I have it all together and am handling it well, inside I still want to hear that someone cares!”

“As a widow, friends are precious that are willing to stand by and be there when times are tough and you don’t even understand yourself! -see James 1:27-
Have a listening ear and not try to fix.
Words of life and encouragement are worth a lot!
If they have children, especially boys, there are godly men needed to be mentors!
A helping hand and acts of service are huge! Outside work, washing off the vehicle has meant a lot to me!!
Be open to what the Holy Spirit leads you, HE so knows when the need for a phone call, visit or coffee shop time!”

“She put a stack of note cards on my table filled with encouraging Bible verses to read when it was hard to open my Bible.”

Be available.
Let them know that you are available, day or night, no matter what time, for a call or text. Just be there.

“I really appreciated the people that listened to me the first year after our loss. Their listening ears helped me process my grief and shock. I really appreciated the few people who weren’t afraid to help me bear this messy, unpredictable burden of grief. I know my actions and responses hurt them at times, but still, they were gracious.”

“I have never experienced grief to this extent – I’ve had friends who have been thru those hard things. I’ve been putting effort into learning how to be a better friend to someone who is experiencing this. Someone who has faced trauma and sudden death said to the rest of us “We assume that we know how we will grieve when faced with death and we expect everyone else to grieve that way. The truth is that no one knows how they will react or grieve.” This has been very helpful to me when walking alongside a friend. And also being ok with being, uhm, maybe I could say, hurt by the grieving friend. In other words, understanding that they are hurting so badly that sometimes they hurt others unintentionally. So being willing to lay that hurt aside for the sake of the friendship.”

Acts of Service
“So many people brought meals and showed their love and care with food!”

Everyone needs to eat and it is hard to think about cooking at such a time!
Another lady said, “Bringing meals WITHOUT asking. It can be hard to say yes to an offer, but when a meal just shows up or is left in the freezer at church for you, it is such a blessing.”
Or this one, “Someone brought freezer meals in tinfoil pans for me. On days when I couldn’t think to cook, I used them and never had to worry about returning the dishes.”
If you have children, this one is great. “Once a month a lady dropped off a big bowl of cookies for us.”

Do some cleaning for her.
Not everyone is okay with this so if the person you are wanting to bless is home, send a text and ask if it’s okay. There is no end to the cleaning if you have a family and I’m sure there will be something you can do.
*When my brother died I know some ladies came over and cleaned my house while we were gone for the funeral. I am embarrassed to ask who all saw it in its messy state, but I am grateful for their kindness.

Money
Funeral expenses are astounding and even the smallest donation helps.

Ask. If you don’t know, just ask.
“Would you like to go out to eat with us or would you rather I bring a meal to your house?” “Would you like for me to take your children today or stay and clean your flowerbeds?”

“The smallest acts of kindness mean so much! When someone came for the evening and brought a little snack, it was so encouraging. When they dropped off a loaf of fresh bread or came and raked my leaves. Just little things, but they took time out of their busy schedule to be there for me.”

“After our loss, we had a couple people give us groceries/snacks in 31 totes. So thoughtful and I always think of them now when I use the bags. A couple stopped in one random evening with gifts for our children and flowers for my husband and I. We also received care packages in the mail with little gifts for the kids and snacks and candy. We were also blessed by an American Express gift card, restaurant gift card and Starbucks gift card all from the same person with a card stating that we are to use the AE gift card for a getaway. This was given right around the time our baby would have been due to arrive. I found that very thoughtful as so often we had intentions of going away by ourselves but it never happened because of work/money.”

Gift Cards
These can be used at any point in time when they feel up to going out again. They can be cards for the grocery store, shopping or a restaurant.

“Take things like paper plates, toilet paper, napkins, tissues, paper towels etc. to the house of those who just lost a loved one. Someone did that for us and it was a gift.”

“Friends got me out of the house for a few hours one day. They called and said they were coming to get me. We had a good day of shopping and coffee and it gave me something else to think about for a little bit.”

“When asked, “How are you?” I often didn’t know what to say. I did love to hear someone tell me they had been thinking about me this week and prayed!”
“How are you?” is a common question, it’s just one that comes out when we don’t know what else to ask. It is a very hard question to answer in the middle of grief, so don’t be offended if the grief-walker just smiles and says, “Okay” when you know they really aren’t. Most likely they themselves don’t know how they are.
“Be willing then to step out of your comfort zone and reach out to them…….be it a text, card, flowers, meal. Just do something. It doesn’t matter how small it is. It will mean the world. All I wanted was a hug and a tangible reminder that they cared.”

A hug without words
Sometimes just knowing someone cares is huge. You do not have to say anything. Actions speak louder than words many times.

“I loved the people who came through the viewing who just hugged me, cried and said ‘I am praying for you.’ At a time of sudden loss, you can’t remember everyone that came, much less the things they have to say. But that warm hug you will remember.”

“Give the gift of a massage. It is so relaxing once all the stress is over with to go and have a massage. It seems like a small gesture, but one I loved.”

“When someone dies, don‘t forget that their close friends are also grieving deeply.”
Death affects many, not just family. Check in on friends grieving a loss also.

“I wish people would have chosen something to do instead of saying,
“Let me know if you need anything!”
Most people who say this mean it with absolute sincerity, I did when I said it. I really, truly wanted them to let me know what they needed. Since then I have come to realize that often a grieving person is unable to process and think like they normally would, especially in the initial stages of shock. When someone walks up and says, “Let me know if you need anything!” there will almost never be a reply to the request. The griever is simply unable to think of what they need. When they do think of something, they still won’t call you because it just feels so needy.
Next time instead of leaving your question open-ended, be specific.
“Would you like for me to bring supper on Wednesday or Thursday night?”
“Would it be okay for me to stop in at 10 today and clean your windows?”
“I’ll be by in 20 minutes and will clean your bathrooms for you.” and when you clean the bathroom, stock it with toilet paper and etc.
“I’m running to the grocery store. Do you need any staples like bread, milk, or eggs? Or would you have a list ready that I could have?”

“I have walked a different journey of grief by becoming a single mom and sometimes reading posts like this makes me sad! I didn’t lose my husband to death but grieved just like it was a death and people don’t know what to do in situations like this, so they do nothing. In that first year, I would have loved for someone just to bring me a meal, help me with my 5 kids (just to give me a little break since I had that responsibility 24/7) or just to come visit! I did have my family who took turns coming at least once a week for a year and not sure how we would have survived without that! I don’t want to hurt anyone with what I said, but just a reminder that you don’t have to lose a loved one to death to grieve! So if you know someone facing this type of grief now, please reach out to them just like you would if her spouse had died!”

“Grief is the conflicting feeling caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern or behavior.”

Grief is not always through actual death. There are many, many forms of grief that need to be acknowledged with encouragement and support. There is grief like she mentioned above, or infertility, miscarriages, abuse, and many things along that line that feel like an enormous weight on your shoulders. Sometimes a form of grief can be brought on by changes in your life, loss of a relationship or a job, or any number of things that don’t look like a big deal to us if we haven’t walked in those shoes. If you see someone grieving like this, reach out to them even if you don’t understand because you’ve never been there. You can still show them you care through words and actions.

In the end, there is no amount of anything that will take away the pain of loss. The pain always remains, but when there is care, love and genuine concern shown, it is like a ray of sunshine on a dark day. When a friend is willing to stoop low and help carry your burden, the load seems lighter and the path easier knowing you are loved.

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Question: How to Encouraging the Grieving

    There is something I have been thinking about for a number of months and I have finally decided to take a chance and put my question out there for you. It is concerning grief and those walking that long, lonely road.
Grief is a private journey in some ways, there are so many emotions to work through and you and you alone are the only one who can do that for yourself. Then in other ways, there is so much that can be done to help someone bear that burden. So, how do we help, encourage, carry some of their load and walk this road with them?

To those of you who know this walk of grief, I have some questions.

“What were the best things someone has done or is still doing for you on this journey?
What were the kindest words said to you, the ones you still remember?”

It doesn’t matter if your journey started long ago or just recently, think about those portraying Jesus and walking along the side of you. What are some things that have been done for you that have blessed you?

Another question.

What are some things you wish had been done for you over the time of your journey? What were some things you wish someone had said or not said to you?”

Is there something that you longed for someone to pick up on? It may have been a small thing or a large project, but just something you wished a friend would notice and come along side of you and helped? Or something said that hurt deep down inside but you knew your friend had no idea what they were saying?

    To those of you who have not walked this road of grief, but have a close friend or relative walking it, I also have a question for you.

“What have you done, or seen someone do, for a grief-walker in your life that you know has been Jesus to them?”

How have you poured into the lives of the grieving and hurting around you? What was it you did that you know was a nudge from Jesus to help and encourage?

    I want to compile a post of ideas and things that will help friends bear the burden of those walking this long, lonely road. I will list ideas and comments in any particular order with no names attached. I want it to be something you can come back to, look over and pick something to do for a friend who is hurting.

    Write a comment and tell me how you have been blessed or been a blessing in a time of grief. If you wish to remain anonymous, send me a private message on facebook or email me at ericshan26@ymail.com
These ideas will by no means take away the stinging pain of losing a loved one, but in tangible ways, we can be Jesus to someone when it happens.

Share this post or ask your friends and family for their thoughts.

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Kicking January Blues …

… along with other nonsense.

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The month of snow, when there is very little of the white fluff.
I am quite okay with that, though.

We are currently staying home a lot and I am happy with that. That is the one thing I love about winter time. There is a constant stream of projects and jobs to be done around here, most of which I seem to never even start.

But January is whipping my tail and I’m not sure what to do about it. Usually, the sunless days and endless clouds don’t bother me, but this year it is. At the risk of offending a winter lover, I will say that I am thankful for the bits of warmer weather we have been having. The cold and I do not get on well.

Maybe the answer to my problem would be to start listening like my Dad does. At 60 some odd years of age, he is a guru of the mp3 world. He has an iPod and ear buds that are ever present. At first glance, one might think he is a teenager that needs his constant music, but no, he listens to messages from God’s Word. I do the downloading for him and one of us loads the player and he is set for a few weeks. It doesn’t take him long to consume an inordinate amount of sermons.

This just might be the answer to my winter blues … start listening. Eric would probably tell me to start with, “Likewise ye wives, be in subjection” that is downloading as we speak.

On the listening note, if you are a Mom of littles, how do you do it? There is constant noise and needs around here. I’m pretty sure I could never concentrate on what was being said, or wear ear buds for that matter! Because, horrors, what if Mom couldn’t hear the many, many questions being asked of her?

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In other news, we have recently introduced ourselves to a new food item, not that it’s new to anyone else, we had just never made it before. Crepes, we have come to find, are quite delicious.

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Not a new food item, but one that this boy loves.
Madison loves to bake but she sure wishes that her Dad and brother liked to eat something besides plain old, boring, chocolate chip cookies.

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Anyone else out there with a first grader in the house? His teacher is keeping track of how many books they read. Oh, the stress of sounding out all those words just to get one more book on his list.

My big question of the day is this:
Why does listening to a first grader read make you so sleepy and in need of a nap?

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Others in our house have no such problem with sounding out the words and will willingly read all the time. Day or night, whether there are jobs to do or not, in the bathroom, in the kitchen, or hiding in a closet, ever present is their book. If the youngest two take after the oldest two, in a few years we shall have a quiet and peaceful house. (but only after a trip to the library)

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Mom made this for me when I was her size.
It may or may not have taken a hefty bribe to get her to put it on and take a picture.

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If she isn’t plastered to my side, I might want to check around for her.
This day she bathed her cloth baby doll. A little time spent hanging by the wood stove solved the problem.

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This!
“Christ was the home of his thoughts.
Whenever his mind was free from other matters
it would turn to Christ.”

~~~

simply-encourage

Use your words. They are powerful.
Most often you have no idea how much your words are worth to someone.
To know that you care, that you are thinking about them, to know that you took the time to say something or write a note, even the smallest gesture holds worth.

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Use your words!
(even if you are just encouraging a cousin
who has been in the bathroom a really long time)

Be powerful with your words today and that might help kick your winter blues!

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Christmas ’16

Christmas this year bounces around in my brain as having hit every emotion in the playbook. There are sometimes in life that words cannot accurately describe and this is one of them.  So, it shall stay like that for you and continue bouncing around in my brain until I get it figured out.

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The grandkid status at Mom’s hangs heavy in the 3-7 year range and they are often B-O-R-E-D! We talked Madison into playing a game with a few of them.

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Mr. Jaxon was happy to eat instead of play!

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He is at a fun age right now and Dakota got a kick out of playing with him.

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These two goobers, they found my grandma’s old glasses and tried them on.

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Waiting. Maybe patiently, maybe not.

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A new Jeep shirt! We’re all about Jeeps around here.

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We had Katelyn’s name and about the time we started searching for the perfect gift, Sarita told me she had Reagan’s name and she had just bought her a vest. So with Reagan’s help, we “came across” this vest that was almost too wonderful to behold.  We bought it for Katelyn and when it came in the mail, she was just beside herself in love. We were all grinning when we watched her open her own gift to find a matching vest.

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Sometimes people open their mouths and say a lot of things and then get mysterious packages with no name attached. 🙂

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Tristan’s favorite song was “The Old Rugged Cross” and this song came true for him when he exchanged the cross for a crown.

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There were two oddly wrapped boxes with Sarita’s and my names on them. One was heavy and one was light. We had our guessing game going and found out that almost everyone (but us) knew what was in these boxes. In a weak moment, due to some well-asked questions, Nick opened his mouth to tell me but Max shut him off just in time. 🙂

Tys went above and beyond and made both of us something special. A camera for me and a little tricycle for Sarita! He is a welder by trade and it carries over into his hobbies. He turns out some pretty cool things from his imagination.

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The wheels roll, pedals turn and it’s just as cute as can be.

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The lens turns for a little manual focus and the front has a jeep grill and a cross in memory of Tris.

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The chain around the edge comes from a dirt bike and he listed all the other parts and where they came from, but I can’t remember. The flash on top pops up also.

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I don’t know what it’s called, but the round thing inside on the right rolls with a little push. I guess it’s a modern/antique and you use that to wind up your film roll.

Stop in sometime and I’ll let you touch it. 🙂

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I had Tyson’s name and wanted to buy him something in memory of Tris. Anyone who knew Tris knew that Jeeps were his hobby. He often roared around in an old red Willy Jeep, usually loaded with kids. I looked for a little jeep like this everywhere on the www. Everything was either over my price range or not very nice. I was almost ready to give up when this one popped up on eBay at just the right time and price. It felt like God had gifted me with this and in the end, it meant more to me than if I had found it as soon as I started looking.

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Later we all took a splat to the face with a little pie face game.
Well, maybe not quite all of us. 🙂

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We inhaled much good food, had lots of good conversations and all the while dealt with kiddos that kept passing the stomach flu around.
We talked about Tris, retold his favorite stories and missed him so very much!

~~~

My thoughts for 2017 …
“With God’s daily supply of grace, I am able.”

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Our Silent Companion, Grief

Things are different now. We are missing a family member, one has gone before us leaving an empty spot in our home and hearts. Yet, we have gained an extra member, one that we are not so excited about having along side us for the rest of life. Our new family member’s name is Grief.

Grief likes to reside in the corners and at the most unexpected moments, he will tap you on the shoulder to make sure you know he is still around. He is not a friendly sort of fellow and he chooses the least appropriate times to show up. He likes to come along to church and torment you in public. Sometimes it’s the oddest places, when you pass a certain vehicle on the road or when you see an item in the grocery aisle. He is especially bad when you think you are home alone and in his quiet little way he will usually come around. Grief follows our footprints everywhere we go, at home or abroad.

With the changing of seasons, Grief always comes to life. Christmas is just around the corner and you can expect that he will appear for that too. When we pull out the boxes stuffed with decorations and lights, Grief will sneak up behind us and remind us of the one we are missing who loved Christmas so much. Grief digs up the memories of years gone by, reminding us that Christmas will never be the same again.

When the carols start playing, bells begin ringing and a quiet Silent Night is heard, Grief begins to play his own tune in our hearts. He stirs in the soul reminding us of the love of singing and carols. A tear makes its way down our cheek because singing just isn’t the same anymore, the carols have lost their sweet chime.

The names have been exchanged and we are off to do shopping, but sure enough, he sneaks along for the ride. Sometimes we could almost forget that he‘s there, then we glance at our list and wonder, “Why are there not enough names?” And there is Grief, tapping our shoulders to make sure we remember there is nothing to buy them this year, all of our gifts for them have been given.

We cook and we bake and all the while we are thinking about which person likes these desserts and who likes those sweets. Pretty soon Grief starts stirring and our minds go to those special cookies, the ones he loved so well, and the desire to bake anything just disappears.

Members of different families gather and happy chatter fills the room, people calling hello and catching up. We look around and wonder who is missing and suddenly Grief reminds us, it will always be this way, there will always be someone missing.

We call our family together, the children rustle and squirm in their seats. We look around the circle and each one is there, save one empty chair. Grief wails loudly, bringing attention to the spot, the one who is missing, yet forever in our hearts.

This member called Grief is like a needy child, constantly wanting our attention, crying to be heard and acknowledged. At times he hangs out in the background, quietly allowing some peace, but relentlessly he will surface, unable to let much time pass without a reminder. We can refuse to listen to him when he starts calling, or tell him to be quiet, but he will eventually become persistent enough that we have no choice but to acknowledge him.

Grief is now our ever-present companion, always tagging along. Not only is he with us over the Holidays, but we will live with him for the rest of time. Each time the season changes, every birthday and each beautiful fall day, he will be there. With time, we will get used to having him around but we will always carry Grief’s weight. Carrying him is the price of love, all because someone we loved so very much is missing from our life.

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