Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Surgery, Memories, Blessings

My husband, Bill, had a complete shoulder replacement on December 12.  It was done in a same day surgery center. We were told all about it and how it is so much better for the patient to be in his own home to recover than in the hospital for 2-3 days. We agreed and as Bill has had pain for the last 8-10 years he finally decided to have it done. He has done very well and as each day goes by, he gets stronger and in time will be back to "normal" but hopefully pain free in that shoulder. I was not prepared for what was to come.
It was a struggle for me. I wasn't expecting the memories of Amy's last weeks of life to come flooding back to me. The Surgery Center is just like a mini hospital. When I was called back to sit with Bill after the surgery, the machine was there that Amy had  that constantly monitors the heart,  blood pressure,  and oxygen levels in the blood. It was what we had focused on at that time and prayed that levels would go up, other numbers down. I felt my chest tightening up and it was hard to breathe. The nurse we had was great. She was showing me how to use the leg compressors and I told her I was familiar with them and she asked why and I told her that we lost a daughter last year after a 5 week hospital stay. She was very sympathetic. She helped me get Bill dressed (he was still pretty much out of it) and as we were each putting on a shoe, I automatically straightened out his toes with one hand while I held his heal in my other hand. Why? He certainly didn't have his toes curled. He was very relaxed! It was just an automatic thing with me, because I had done it millions of times with Amy in putting on her shoes. She always curled her toes, and I would have to knead them to straighten them before putting on her shoes. I realized immediately what I was doing and tears sprang to my eyes. I had to get out of there! But Bill wasn't doing well. He wasn't able to stand up yet and so they decided to give him another bag of IV fluid and a little more time. I went to the bathroom and cried and prayed. 
It has been 12 days now and each day is getting easier. The flashbacks of  the home nurse coming and just the little things they do, like laying a paper towel under their bag before they set it down on the sofa would bring tears. Even caring for my husband, bathing and dressing, was difficult. It was the memories not the difficulty of the task. The medicine altered his moods and he would get irritable and then his favorite TV channel (Fox News) was taken off our provider and he really became grouchy! I was not handling this well, when God impressed upon me that He had given me a gift this Christmas. He had given me the opportunity to care for someone again like I cared for Amy, to pour all my love into the needs of another. My attitude changed immediately. Now it is not a burden but a privilege to tend to his needs. 
We were able to go to church on Sunday. Bill never wants to miss a service, but the pain and the meds had him feeling so down.    Emily, Tessa and I were singing in the worship team, Laura was singing a special solo and Tessa had the offertory  so I knew he would enjoy going.  I also knew it would be difficult for me because of the memories, but I was again unprepared for the feelings. Laura sang a beautiful song about looking in the newborn face of the Savior and being a new mother herself, brought on my tears. Tessa played a song next and as she was playing the sun came out and light streamed through the windows and sunbeams filled the sanctuary. For the first time I really felt Amy was with us. It was very hard to sing after that, but the song we were singing was How Great Our Joy.   It was a perfect song that God knew I needed at that time. 

Another thing that was unexpected were all the kind cards and letters from others. We sent out over 100 Christmas cards, as we haven't sent any out for a few years. Some people didn't know about Amy's passing as we only write at Christmas. We knew it was time.  
Yesterday we got an email and also a few letters and cards from those that didn't know of Amy's death. Bill and I both cried  reading the letter from a mom of a Rett girl that I first met when Amy was diagnosed. Her daughter was a teenager and Amy was 4 years old. We have stayed in touch at Christmas ever since. Except for last year. I planned to write her many times but just couldn't do it. 
Here is an excerpt from her letter:
"I was overjoyed with a new picture of your family. I kept searching for Amy and then felt fear, terrified to open the letter. And now I weep, heartbroken for all of you. My (daughter) and I would pray daily for her special friends and their caregivers and not knowing Amy was already in His arms, her lessons taught and journey ended." 

Her earthly journey has ended, but her real journey started a little over 20 months ago.  Amy's lessons continue to teach me each and every day.  In the gift of caring for my husband, I see Amy. In holding my new little grandson, I see Amy.  In the way my children are living their lives, I see Amy. In each shining light on the tree and around the house, I see Amy. Sometimes with tears, but more and more with smiles. 

It has been a hard couple of weeks, but our dear retired pastor (the one who wrote "Amy's Story") summed it all up in the one line he penned at the bottom of his Christmas card to us:
"Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried." Isaiah 53:4a

Doesn't that say it all?  Jesus has taken my grief and my sorrow on Himself. I can truly say:

MERRY CHRISTMAS
 

Here is the Christmas picture we chose for our card this year.



 And here are two photos from Amy's last Christmas with us.
Amy loved candles



























































































Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A Shadow of Sadness--20 months

"The eighth of every month will always hold a shadow of sadness for Tessa and I."  That's what Emily told me this morning as I tearfully told her that I felt like no one remembered Amy yesterday on the 20 month of her passing.
A shadow of sadness. That has been my last few weeks. 

We celebrated Emily's birthday and Thanksgiving on the evening before the big day as it was the only time we could all be together. It had snowed all day. It was beautiful outside, but my heart was still heavy. Another celebration gathered around the dining room table with no Amy. Bill lightened the mood a little as he thanked God for the sacrifice of the turkey's life so we could eat it. Something very unusual for my hunter husband to acknowledge, especially since I purchased the turkey at the grocery store!
 
On Thanksgiving day Laura, Emily and I got all the boxes of Christmas decorations out. Right on top were Amy's little boxes of her Tinkerbell ornaments. I couldn't handle anymore than just putting all the boxes on the dining room table and leaving them there. That was hard enough. So I didn't do anything that day except ignore them as best as I could.

Saturday we all gathered again to get a family Christmas card taken. I had this all planned ahead of time. I decided to add a little humor by wearing winter hats, with Bill and I wearing Christmas hats. I'm glad I decided this early, because the day was extremely hard for me to hold it together and even  just smile. I was screaming inside for Amy to be there.  I'll share the picture we decided to use a few days before Christmas.

I finally made myself decorate.  I just felt the need to GET IT DONE. No joy,  just a necessary thing to do this year. So I  just wanted to get it done and be finished.
Amy's last Christmas with us I had purchased a small artificial tree in the after Christmas sales  to use as a Jesse tree with her in the years to come. A Jesse tree is like an advent calender with an ornament pointing to Christ each day of the month. This is something I had done when the children were little and I had missed doing it the last few years. Now what was I to do? Save it in the  special box of decorations that were Amys that I had decided to set aside to use when the grandkids were older? Then I had an idea. I would make a small memorial tree to Amy. I would put her special Tinkerbell ornaments on it and butterflies. 

A olive wood nativity that I brought home to Amy after my trip to Israel in 2001 sits in front of the tree  beside a picture that Amy made for us as a gift a few years ago.

When I had gone shopping with Tessi  I had purchased a few extra boxes of lights in case I decided to put them on the bushes at the back entrance as we have done in years past. A beautiful tree topper angel also caught my eye. We have always had a star on the top of the tree. Always. For thirty-seven years we have had a star on the top of our Christmas tree. But I was in the mood to change things this year. Tessa mentioned I could put a butterfly where the angel was holding a candle. That sold me on it. We now have a beautiful angel on top of our small tree. 
I say small because, owning a Christmas tree farm and selling trees, we always have a wide floor to ceiling tree. Sometimes I could hardly get Amy's wheelchair by the tree and out the door, it was so large!  This year, I just wanted something small. I also discovered I had thrown out the lights for the tree from the years before.  The lights go on first, so.......I had the boxes of lights I just purchased to use outside. Those would be great!



Amy's beautiful  memorial angel.

Our small Christmas tree.



I also used an extra strand of lights to wrap around Amy's picture. Emily gave me a pretty frame with Amy's picture for my birthday and Tessa gave me the lantern she used in her wedding. I just wrapped a strand of lights around this and it sets it apart and is a special area to me. 


So the Christmas season is upon us, the picture is done, the decorating is done and all of my presents are wrapped and boxed up that I have to mail out to family tomorrow.  Although it was hard for me, I see God's hand in every step of the way.  He provided me with a daughter-in-law who is a photographer and a willing family to look goofy for a Christmas card. He provided me with a unused tree to use as a memorial tree for Amy. He impressed upon me to buy extra lights so I could get my decorating done. He knew I didn't have any left to use and this avoided another trip to the store. God's hand is in every step of our lives, if we only look and see it. 

Yesterday I wasn't looking for Him, I was only sorry for myself. I had to go to the hospital for some routine blood work and I only saw death in that place, I didn't try to see the smiles or the Christmas season joy. I was letting the sadness of the day engulf me. My daughter reminded me this morning that it is only a shadow. Just as this life is only a shadow as CS Lewis has said and written about. I forget sometimes and I don't see it and it doesn't fill me with immediate joy, but........
 He is with me.  He is still writing my story. That is enough. 

Tomorrow we will be going to the school where Amy attended to share in their Christmas party. It will be another hard time, but God has a plan in this also. I spent a few hours making 28 sock snowmen for her class. I think Amy would have loved them!


Sock snowmen for Amy's classmates.  


Then we plan on stopping by the cemetery to decorate her grave. 

Praise God  because of Him I know she is not there but dancing with her Lord. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Amy's Legacy

Legacy
1. a gift of property, especially personal property, as money, by will; a bequest.
2. anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor: the legacy of ancient Rome.


Today is the 19th month anniversary of Amy's leaving us. 
Has it gotten any easier?
In some ways. But I don't think my life will ever be the same; there will always be this sadness that is now a part of my soul. There are still tears, times where I feel like I can't go on. But there are more times of peace, contentment and joy than there are tears. 

Tis the season.....right?
Last year I tried to avoid Christmas. We went away for three weeks. I couldn't abide being here. 
This year we are staying home. We are facing Christmas. We are going to celebrate the best we can. 
It was painful to get out the fall decorations. I can't imagine how painful it will be to get out the Christmas ones! But I'm going to do it. 
Coming home from a shopping trip with my oldest a few days ago, we drove through a little town that always has a huge Christmas tree lit up right alongside the road. It was already lit! I was still weepy from the movie and this was just too much. Amy loved seeing Christmas lights. She loved to see that tree on our yearly shopping trip. Sometime the missing is so intense. I cried buckets.

A few weeks ago I heard the promo for a new song and I finally found it on YouTube. I have enjoyed the music of Mark Shultz since I first heard his song, "He's My Son" in 1998 or 99.  When I saw the promo for this new song I knew it would touch my heart, but not expecting it to so dramatically say what I am going through this year.


A Different Kind of Christmas
by Mark Shultz

Snow is falling Christmas Eve
Lights are coming on up and down the street
The sound of carols fills the air
And people rushing home, families everywhere

Putting candles in the windows
Lights upon the tree
But there's no laughter in this house
Not like there used to be
There's just a million little memories
That remind me you're not here
It's just a different kind of Christmas this year

In the evening fires glow
Dancing underneath the mistletoe
A letter left from Santa Claus
Won't be the same this year in this house because

There's one less place set at the table
One less gift under the tree
And a brand new ache to take their place inside of me
I'm unwrapping all these memories
Fighting back the tears
It's just a different kind of Christmas this year

There's voices in the driveway
Families right outside the door
And we'll try to make this Christmas like the ones we've had before
As we gather round the table, I see joy on every face
And I realize what's still alive is the legacy you made

It's time to put the candles in the windows, the lights upon the tree
It's time to fill this house with laughter like it used to be
Just because you're up in heaven, doesn't mean you're not near
It's just a different kind of Christmas
It's just a different kind of Christmas this year


The last lines shook me to my core.

And I realize what's still alive is the legacy Amy madeIt's time to put the candles in the windows, the lights upon the tree
It's time to fill our home with laughter like it used to be
Just because Amy's up in heaven, doesn't mean she's not near
It's just a different kind of Christmas this year.


But what is Amy's legacy?  She didn't own property, she didn't have anything of worldly value that she left to us. She couldn't speak or write, so there is not even anything in print that was from her hand. What is her legacy?

These are some of the things that Amy left me:

--because of Amy I have the ability to see all forms of disabilities with love and compassion 
--Amy loved with unconditional love.No matter my physical or mental pain, can I love others the way she taught me to love?
--Because of her love for certain things I have the knowledge of every line to Veggie Tales and Disney movies memorized. (I'm trying my best to forget Hannah Montana).

I asked my husband to think on this and gave him a few days. He said that Amy's legacy is the impact she made on other people. 

If Amy made an impact on your life, if she changed you somehow by knowing her, if she left you a legacy............
will you tell me? 
I need to know to be able to DO Christmas this year. 
I need to know that her life meant something to others beside just me.  
Please comment, message me, email me, or the old fashioned way of writing a note. 
I am going to print them out so I can remember, when I hit those low moments, of what Amy's legacy is.

Friday, October 31, 2014

So many deaths or so many gifts?

The last few weeks have been filled with grief.  A dear friend of ours that I have known for over 37 years, passed away unexpectedly. He was a man in some ways a lot like my husband, an avid outdoors man, a hard worker, dedicated to the church, and "keeper of stuff."   Unlike Bill,  he was father to 5, grandfather to many, even a great-grandfather to a few!   Two of his grandsons were in James and Laura's wedding. He and his dear wife made the trip all the way across the country to go to the wedding. At the wedding,  one grandson met Laura's sister and last year they were married. Another trip across the country!  The other grandson works with us in our business.
His funeral was one week ago. This was the first funeral I attended since Amy died. It was hard. Very hard. Especially when one of the songs, sung by some of his children and grands,  was "Amazing Grace, My Chains Are Gone."      Amy's Song.   I could hardly keep my sobs silent. 
He was a Marine, and like my daddy proud of it. They did the military salute at the end and with each gunshot I wondered if the next military funeral I would attend would be my Daddy's funeral.

Last evening I went to the first viewing I have been to since Amy died.  Bill and Emily have been to many viewings in the last 18 months. I did briefly attend one held in our church for a dear elderly lady who loved Amy so much. She was such a jewel, that I had to show my respect to her family.   But I just could not make myself go to a funeral home to a viewing. Last night I did.
Our neighbor, a few houses down the road, has been battling with cancer for about 4 years. A few weeks ago we became aware that she was home to stay as nothing more could be done. Just waiting. I would drive by her house and my heart would break as I knew what the family was going through. To my shame I never got to know her very well. But her sister is the mom of the two young men that were in James and Laura's wedding.  So much grief in this one dear family in such a short time. I felt the need to reach out and tell them how much I cared, but I did not. I only cried. 

To be able to be with someone as they live their final hours of life on this earth is a blessing, but also leaves memories that will never stop from hurting. Because those hours are the final hours of this life as we know it. Those hours are our final memories of our loved one.
All the memories of Amy's last few days, the plans for her funeral, the funeral itself, have been replaying in my mind. The worst part was giving in to the devil whispering in my ear that I never did enough for Amy. Those final hours I could have read to her more, I could have held her more, I could have held her longer once her life was gone, I could have looked at her longer one last time before that lid was shut on the casket. 
I could have.....I could have.........goes on and on and it is only the strength of God that gets me through each of my days. It is only  by His strength that I tell myself...... I did do enough!

It is only His strength that has carried this dear family through the last few weeks and only His strength that will get them through the days ahead. 

As Bill and I were coming home from somewhere a few days ago and pulling into the driveway, I was overwhelmed with the sadness of not having our dog come to greet us anymore. I said out loud to him, "Why has God taken so much away from us?"
My dear wise husband replied, "Why has God given us so many gifts?"

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Eighteen Months

It's been eighteen months.  How my life has changed in a year and a half!
As I mentioned before, I have been doing a Bible study with Emily over the last few months. On September 29th I was finishing up the next to last day of the study and this was the first question: "Subtract 18 months from the present date and write your calculation here: _____.  Between then and now, what kinds of things have come your way? "  
I looked it up and it was March 29th, 2013.  It was Amy's first full day home from the large hospital where she had spent a month.  Home health had come in and I was overwhelmed, but we were all so happy to be home. It was a good day, I wrote in my journal. I still didn't realize that she was so very sick. I had no idea that in a little over a week she would be gone. 
I answered the question with these words:  "My whole life has changed. Amy died and so much of me died with her. Will was just born and so much of life lies ahead of me."

Bill and I got "the call" around 4 a.m. Laura was in labor and at the hospital. I tried to go back to sleep, but knew I would just lay there and fret so I got up and started getting ready to go. Bill soon joined me. I don't know if he was concerned about me driving in the dark by myself over the mountain, or if he truly wanted to be there also. He is the strong silent type and even after 37 years of marriage, I still can't always read him. We sat for about two hours in the waiting room, trying to ignore the infomercials blasting on the tv that we couldn't turn off, dozing off and on, before James came out and told us that William David was here. They kept the name a secret, so I was moved to tears that they chose to name him after his grandpa. We were able to see him for a few minutes and hold him.  I couldn't hold back the tears. I was so relieved that he was ok, that Laura was ok and that all seemed well.
According to the clock on the wall, he wasn't even two hours old yet!

In the days that followed I somehow thought that little Will would change me, make my grief subside. But it intensified instead. His first night home, Laura asked me to put a little gown on him. As I was pulling his arm through, holding on to his little hand, I was hit in the gut with grief. This is how I dressed Amy for 31 years. I held on to each of her hands as I guided them through her sleeves. More tears. 
A day or so later, I was holding Will and I touched his nose with the tip of my finger and kissed him. Again, just as I had with Amy thousands of times. More sadness and tears.  
I caught myself calling him "Munchkin," Amy's pet name. But this time no tears. He is such a little munchkin!

I hauled the fall decorations down from the attic.  I have not decorated for any special holiday for the last 18 months. It was very difficult to see the special decorations that I put in Amy's room. Also the wooden pumpkins that she made one year in school and  the little Mr. and Mrs. Pilgrim that I've put out for the last 25 years or so!  I got up the courage to replace the butterfly welcome flag that has flown on the lamppost since Amy died with one of pumpkins and fall leaves. I visited the cemetery and talked to Amy as I cleaned off the spring flowering butterfly vine from Tess's wedding and replaced it with a fall one of brightly colored leaves.  I told her about Will and how much I missed her. I've said before that it isn't fair that she isn't here to be an aunt.  But I realized that it isn't what Amy is missing, but what I am missing by seeing her face as she reacts to her nephew. It is my pain, not hers. I will keep Amy's memory alive to my grandchildren so they can know what a special person she was and still is, living in our hearts.

Yesterday, I went with Tess to her dr.s appointment. She is 14 weeks along and hasn't been sick much at all. What a blessing that has been for her as she has continued to work full time. I heard the  baby's heartbeat and it sounds strong. We went shopping for maternity clothes and birthday shopping as her daddy and  her husband's birthdays are only a day apart. We had such a great day. As I thanked her I told her that it will take some of the pain away from today. And it has.

A few days ago, I walked down from seeing Will and snapped this picture of our tree.
Fall is my favorite season, winter will be here soon, but I am enjoying the life God has given me right now.


The last verse of Thessalonians is: 
"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all."
Grace. God's Riches At Christ's Expense.
God's Riches.


 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Death and New Life

We've always had a dog. 
One was given to us as a wedding present, before the wedding. So our married life started with a dog in our family. His name was Rusty. He was a long red haired German Dachshund.   We had him for nine years. He was killed when Amy was about 5. 
A few years later, when James was 3 we bought him a Dalmatian for his birthday. He loved Dalmatians and so we coughed up  $75.00 (that was a lot back then) and bought him a pure-bred puppy. We called her Spots. We're not really creative when it comes to names. We tried to breed her but each time it wouldn't work so we gave up. When she was 9 she got pregnant! We never saw the male dog that must have been hanging around our farm, and we were very worried as to what the puppies would look like. In January of 2001, Spots had her puppies. She must have been with a black lab, because that's what all those little balls of fur resembled. As we had no papers, we just put an add in the paper for free puppies when they were older and within a week they were all gone. 
Except the one James decided to keep. She was all black with only tips of white on her tail and her feet. We named her Tipps. That was almost 14 years ago. Last week she joined Amy in heaven. She had been failing for about a year and so she became an inside dog this past winter. And she continued to sleep in the house and come in when it rained or if it was too chilly to be outside. I prayed that she would just die in her sleep.  She slept a lot the past couple of months and many times I would look at her in the morning to see if she was still breathing.  When I came home from my trip with my sisters, I could tell she had lost a lot of weight and didn't have much longer to live. The first thing I did was to hold her and cry and continue to ask the Lord to take her home. Last Wednesday He chose to do that. But not the way I asked. Not the way I wanted, that I thought was best.
It was around 8:30 in the morning, Bill and James were getting the truck ready for work and Tipps was outside soaking up the sun in the driveway. Emily was leaving for work and backed over her. We knew it was bad. We all held her and cried. We had to make the decision to "put her down." In our family that means that one of the men has to shoot the animal that needs "put down." I'm sure many farm families do the same. Even though Tipps was James' dog, she really had become Bill's dog once James went to college and moved to his own home. Then the last year having Tipps sleep in the house right beside Bill's chair, made for an even closer bond. 
James said he would do it.

Why didn't God answer my prayer the way I wanted Him to?  I didn't want one of the men to have to shoot her. I didn't even want us to have to make the decision.  We had to make the decision to let Amy die! Wasn't that enough for all time?   I just wanted God to let Tipps die in her sleep.  Was that too much to ask?  Why didn't He?  I became angry at God and all the grief over Amy's death flooded my soul again for days. 


I came upon this poem in an email  I got from someone.

He Maketh No Mistake
by A.M. Overton

My Father's way may twist and turn,
My heart may throb and ache,
But in my soul I'm glad I know,
He maketh no mistake.

My cherished plans may go astray,
My hopes may fade away,
But still I'll trust my Lord to lead
For He doth know the way.

Tho' night be dark and it may seem
That day will never break;
I'll pin my faith, my all in Him,
He maketh no mistake.

There's so much now I cannot see,
My eyesight's far too dim;
But come what may, I'll simply trust
And leave it all to Him.

For by and by the mist will lift
And plain it all He'll make.
Through all the way, tho' dark to me,
He made not one mistake.


I know that God does not make mistakes. He chose the time and the way for Tipps to die. We did not choose. He did. He knew that Emily was going to back over her. He knew that we would put her down. He knew all of this and He loves us so much. His ways are best.  
 
The next day I was coming in from getting the mail and lamenting over the serious weed situation by my fairy garden in the front. And then my eyes spotted a glimpse of color. What was that? A snapdragon growing  in the tangle of weeds!  I had not planted a snapdragon there.  In fact I had weeded that whole area when I planted my fairy garden and there were no little plants then. 
God gave me a glimpse of joy. Of His power and His love. 
 
 


 
Four days after Tipps died we became grandparents. 
 
William David was born. 
 
A beautiful, new little one to hold and love. 
 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Time is Counting Up

 In June Emily and I started an eight week Bible study for the summer, Children of the Day, and because of her busy schedule we have one week left yet. We might get it done before the calendar officially says summer is over!  As we were sharing in the on-line potion of the study Sunday afternoon, it was mentioned that God created time. In the world's view, time goes. The passing of time,  time quickly slips away, where has the time gone,  it seems like that was just yesterday,  and I'm sure you can come up with many more of those types of sayings. But in God's time or the Bible's time, time comes. It doesn't go. Time is counting up, not down,  to when all will be revealed and we will live in eternity. The time right now is just for a little while.

Since my last posting, I have been very busy! Bible school week was wonderful, we had a record attendance and precious children and teens. But I have realized that it is not my calling in life to work with 20-30 children at one time, especially three times over,  every night for a week! I'm glad I followed God's leading in doing this, many said they loved the art projects and the kids were just adorable, but next year, if I volunteer, it will be to work behind the scenes or maybe in the nursery or kitchen.

On September 1, I left home to travel to my sister's in Ohio. My older sister from Maine had flown in and then we three plus my niece drove to Iowa to spend a week with our parents.  This photo was taken after church Sunday morning.


Although I have a smile on my face, it was not an easy week for me. There had been some conflicts and misunderstandings between one sister and myself  and with my parents advancing in years, there were issues they wanted to discuss.  I can't help but feel that we will all never be together again in this life. And I'm sure all three of us sisters will not be together again until another funeral unites us, as Amy's did. 

On the seventeenth month anniversary of her death I posted on Facebook, "On the 17th month anniversary of Amy's home going I chose to go to our county fair with my sisters and mother. Life does go on, but it will never be the same." 

 The only thing that I remember that is the same about the fair is the entrance.


We did have some fun times.  We all crammed into the free photo booth and looked at the 4H exhibit and ate fair food. Other days we went shopping and out to eat, and to church so we could all worship together.



Nelson Jewelry is where Bill purchased my engagement ring in 1976 and where we purchased our wedding bands in 1977. They are one of the few businesses still in business 37 years later!






The morning of our last day  my daddy and I went to the cemetery and I put a small basket of flowers I had wired together on my sister and  little grandmas grave. 



I found this writing a few weeks ago from Beth Moore.

Life can be painful here. 
Loss is inevitable. 
So let us grieve when we must, but God forbid that we grieve as the  hopeless do. 
In His hands, we find solace.
In His heart, we find rest. 
In His time, we find meaning. 
In His eyes, we are blessed. 
In His strength, we're made mighty. 
In His light, morning breaks. 
In His word, He has promised
In His coming, sleepers wake. 



I will be able to hold my grandson any day now. We are just waiting!  

And in two weeks I am will be doing my walk for Chloe.  

If you would like to help me reach my goal you can donate here:   for Chloe


And more wonderful news----- 

Tessa, who was married last February, is expecting in April  2015.  Her due date is two years to the day that we celebrated Amy's last birthday, just two days before she died.  

Amy is telling us to rejoice! 

God is growing my family. 


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Sixteen Months

Yesterday marked the 16th month that Amy has not been with us here on this earth. I handled the day much better than I have yet. I think it is because I am relying more on God's Words and not so much on my emotions. On the 26th of July I posted this on Facebook.  "Instead of always feeling like my arms are empty and my hands have nothing to hold, I need to remember this instead...........My arms will forever be full, my hands will never be empty, because you were once in them."  

The Lord has been giving me strength as I lean on Him. 
I have been very busy getting all the art supplies ready for Bible School and making samples of each of the crafts. I haven't helped with Bible School since the children were little and I thought I would try this year. It starts tomorrow evening and will keep me busy each night for the next week! 

I also attended a Women of Faith conference in Fairfax, VA a week ago.  http://www.womenoffaith.com/#revival 
I had never been to one before and it was a life changing event for me. They had a wonderful worship band and the second song we sang was Amy's song, "Amazing Grace, My Chains Are Gone" I was able to get through it although there were tears. It helped that my daughter-in-law was right beside me. Her  baby bump reminding me of the new life soon to be with us.  The speakers were great and I was encouraged to be brave, to be bold, and to use the gifts God has given me. I decided I don't want to just exist and keep wandering in the desert. I want to cross over the Jordan and enter the Promised Land and let God lead my life as He wills. He is writing a different story to my life than what I expected Him to, but I want to live in my story; I want to be someone.......someone that my grandchildren will be proud of and look up to. 

God also gave me a precious gift at the conference besides the speakers and the music. During the first evening, I looked down and on the landing was a young lady in a wheelchair. I knew I had to talk to her during the break. I did. She had a huge beautiful smile. She had trouble talking and keeping control of her arms, so I did not know how much she could understand. I gave her a brochure of Amy's story and told her that I was glad she was there and able to enjoy the conference. Of course, I cried some more!
Toward the end of the evening Sheila Walsh sang the hymn, "Amazing Grace," and I just closed my eyes and enjoyed the beauty of her voice and the music. When I opened them, the young lady was gone. I wondered if she was real.  Did others see her? Did she still have Amy's Story?  
The next morning we were running really late and I didn't see her until we had already sat down and there she was! It made me happy and I knew that I would try to interact with her again. So during the break I talked to her. I asked her if she remembered me and if she had someone read Amy's story to her. And then she said very slowly but clearly ."I ........ can ........  read!"  Wow! I asked her if I could give her a hug and she smiled and nodded. I hugged her and told her I missed my Amy. She said, "Amy happy."  I was so touched, almost if God was speaking through her to me.  During the lunch break she had someone with her, a friend and she gave me the young lady's business card. Her name is Angela and she is an advocate for disability rights and an educational presenter. She works in Washington DC in a senator's office.  Her personal motto on her card is, "Sharing the Gifts of Life." I told her that I had a small gift for her. I had just purchased some toddler books for my soon to come grandson and they came with a pink teddy bear that has Women of Faith on it. I asked her if she would like the bear. She gave me another big smile and said, "yesss!"  Her friend said that pink was her favorite color.  She has a website: www.angelaywest.com
She hasn't posted for awhile but you can see her picture. 

She asked her friend to take our picture and we exchanged emails but I haven't heard from her yet, so I emailed her and I hope to hear from her soon. I saw Angela one more time on the last break before the conference ended. I introduced  Laura to her and then asked for another hug. She agreed and as I hugged her she said, "Amy happy...with Jesus." And again a huge smile on her face. She was and is so precious. My gift from God to bless me that special weekend.  Anytime I think of her, I just can't help but smile. 
Amy is with Jesus and she is gloriously happy. I am slowly learning to be happy also. Thank you, my Jesus. 
 Laura only has 6 or 7 more weeks to go!

And today I signed up to do fundraising walk for a little friend of mine who is battling a disease. Something else I have never done before! 
 Chloe
And if you would like to help me reach my goal of $250 you can donate here:
fundraiser for Chloe

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A birthday and a new birth.

On Sunday, I had my 56th birthday. My second birthday without Amy. The family is finally all free from work to celebrate it tonight. This year I have a son-in-law and a grandson soon to be born in less than two months that will be celebrating with us.  

I can't help but hate that Amy is missing this. 

This morning I went to the hospital to get some blood work done in preparation of seeing my doctor next week. I could just feel the dread coming over me as I walked through the doors on this beautiful cool  morning. There was a gentle breeze, the humidity was low and the sun was shining. A perfect summer morning. So why could I not shake this feeling? I don't like getting stuck. I don't like being in a hospital around other sick people and I don't like the feeling of just being a number. But it is more than just that. This is only the second time I have been to the hospital since Amy died.  I avoided looking at the ER waiting area, right next to the waiting area I was at. That was where we sat and had to make the decision not to use any measures at all to save Amy's life or the hospital would not admit her. It was a horrible time. I still didn't think she was going to die. It's still hard to believe that she did. 
I waited and waited, my stomach growling. I didn't leave as soon as I wanted this morning and so I needed some coffee or at least strong tea, but wasn't allowed anything until after the lab work. I finally got it over with but not without pain. I tense up so much, that I think it hurts so much more. I couldn't get out of there quick enough. I almost started crying on the way to the car and then I remembered, we had some young friends who just had a baby and she was still in the hospital with little Caleb! I would start some new memories. I would go see her. 
I did a 360 and headed back inside up to the second floor. I am real good friends with her mother-in-law, and Laura and James are good friends with the young couple. But I felt I knew her well enough to visit. I hope she was okay with me stopping in.  She asked if I would like to hold him. He is so tiny. She swaddled him and he just snuggled right into the crook of my arm. He is so precious. It was so hard not to cry. 

I am so afraid. I am afraid that something will happen to Laura or to the baby. I don't want any more sorrow in my life. 

In my teen years my mama had this verse taped on our bathroom mirror :   2Timothy 1:7  "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."  So I know the fear is not from God, but from the evil one trying to steal my joy. 

In our local department store (aka Wal Mart) I ran into a mother of a special needs adult. She is about 15 years older than I am and I would think her daughter is at least 10 years older than Amy. She is in a home now, because the mom is unable to take care of her needs anymore. She also filled me in on some of the other older mothers whose children are still alive. One has had a heart attack, another passed away, another one is in a bad way with her health. I don't think many of their children are still living with them. She asked me if I was a granny yet and I told her soon. She said that it was a blessing that Amy is in heaven and I don't have to make the decision of where she will live out her years. I nodded my head but inside I was screaming. I know she is right, but I miss my Amy so much. We did not have to make a decision of putting her into a group home or a private home with full-time care. But we did have to make a decision to let her die. Nothing compares to that. Nothing ever will compare to that. 

On my way home, the cemetery drew me to it. It is still such a pretty spot, but I cried and cried. Amy is not here, she is with Jesus.  The next to last verse in the Bible says, "He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus."  Revelation 22:20.
That is how I feel. I can't wait until the Lord returns!

This afternoon I worked up in what I am lovingly calling the Spare Oom. (Spare Room) Emily said it would be cool if it had a wardrobe in it! Narnia fans will know what I am talking about. 
Amy stayed in that room for a few years......but that will be for another posting.  

I need to leave now to celebrate 56 years of my life. I'm so thankful I had Amy for 31 years of it.