Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Tatoo??? - The Club Part 2

Last month, I wrote a little about this "club" to which Bob and I now belong.

The second family who has greatly influenced me during this crazy journey is the Chapman family. When I first heard the tragic news of their daughter Maria's death, my heart broke for them. This sweet and beautiful family found themselves at the beginning of a very long and difficult journey -- a journey which will last a lifetime, I believe.

There were so many eyes focused upon them - wondering how they would react and respond. How would a family whose mission was to serve and glorify the Lord handle this tragedy?

I watched their recent interviews on Good Morning America and Larry King. I found myself almost chuckling at their answers. It was as if someone was reading from my journal. They were so honest in sharing their confusion, their questions, and their heartache. They didn't try to be "Super Christians" but admitted that they do not understand it all. Yet, they are trusting God and believe He is Who He says He is.

I could relate to Mary Beth especially when she spoke of the "good" that may come out of this tragedy. During those first days, she didn't care. I understood.

In the early days after Robbie went to heaven, people continued to speculate about how God would use this. We had hundreds of people at the memorial services in Tennessee and in Virginia and knew of at least one father who had turned to Christ in those early days because of our story. But at that time, it didn't matter to me. At one point, in frustration, I yelled, "I don't care if this sparks a Billy Graham crusade. I just want my Robbie back." Mary Beth made a very similar remark in her interview. As a mother, I was more concerned about the earthly absence of my little boy than a stranger's eternal destiny. That may seem utterly selfish. But it was the truth.

Now, I can say that I love to see how God is using our story for His glory. I hear people share how they are seeking God more, living life with an eternal perspective, changing their priorities, and spending more time with their children. Then there are those who have seen that their "god" could offer them no hope in a similar situation, and they have turned to Christ. That is truly amazing.

At one point in the Chapman's interview, Larry King pointed out that Mary Beth had since gotten a tatoo. It was on her forearm, but I'm not sure exactly what it said. She did not look like a lady who would have a tatoo. But I totally got it! After losing Robbie, I wanted so badly to remember him at all times, in all things. Some dear friends from college sent me a bracelet with Robbie's name on it. I received it on April 18 and immediately put it on. A few hours later, I went into labor and had Eveley Joy. I have rarely taken it off since then.

I used to see big trucks or cars with the odd message on the rear window saying something like "We'll always remember Theresa," or "Never forget Jeff." I probably thought those were weird at the time. But now, I get it! Sometimes I want to yell it at the top of my lungs.

I feel that the Lord gave me the word "Homesick" to help me express these feelings. I miss my Robbie every minute of every day. At the same time, I know he is in the safe and loving arms of Jesus. I can't wait to be reunited with him and, so, I am Homesick. That is what my license place now reads. And, who knows, maybe a tatoo is in my future...! =)

As members of this "club" we all have different stories with various layers. As Emily Chapman said in the interview, a single day can begin with bright and sunny moments and end in depressing darkness. But one thing is for sure. The joyous moments only come by focusing on the Lord - on His great gift to us, His Son, and the truth of His promises. Without Him, this would truly be a tragedy.

Years ago, Steven Curtis Chapman wrote this song "With Hope" after a friend lost a child.

This is not at all how
We thought it was supposed to be
We had so many plans for you
We had so many dreams
And now you've gone away
And left us with the memories of your smile
And nothing we can say
And nothing we can do
Can take away the pain
The pain of losing you, but ...

We can cry with hope
We can say goodbye with hope
'Cause we know our goodbye is not the end, oh no
And we can grieve with hope
'Cause we believe with hope
(There's a place by God's grace)
There's a place where we'll see your face again
We'll see your face again

And never have I known
Anything so hard to understand
And never have I questioned more
The wisdom of God's plan
But through the cloud of tears
I see the Father's smile and say well done
And I imagine you
Where you wanted most to be
Seeing all your dreams come true
'Cause now you're home
And now you're free, and ...

We have this hope as an anchor
'Cause we believe that everything
God promised us is true, so ...

So we can cry with hope
And say goodbye with hope

We wait with hope
And we ache with hope
We hold on with hope
We let go with hope

We have HOPE because:

"I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Romans 8:38-39

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Urge to Purge

I have had the urge to purge for many months. Every time I would open a door or peak around a corner, I could not deny the urge. But I just didn't have the energy to do it! So, what did I do? I called my mom, of course!

It is absolutely amazing how much "stuff" you can accumulate over the years. I packed up my college junk, took it to law school, and continued packing it up and taking it to each new house. It was overwhelming.

We have lived in our house for 4 years. With the upcoming addition of our new little lovebug, we need as much space as possible. So, my mom came to visit and we went closet-by-closet, corner-by-corner, room-by-room and removed the junk and organized the rest. I cannot tell you what a difference it has made. This took us nearly a week, but we accomplished so much!

I feel like I've lost 50 pounds -- which I have not! Walking through the house doesn't seem so overwhelming or gloomy. I feel that everything has a place now. Yippee!

We loaded up the van last night. There was just a little nook for Eveley, and we drove to Goodwill. We unloaded nearly 20 bags and boxes and drove away feeling awesome!

I cannot say thank you enough to my mom!! I have always needed someone else around. In fact, I have told Bob that I married him to squash bugs and play with me! So, to try and attempt a project of this magnitude all by myself would have never been succesful. I needed a friend, an assistant, to motivate and encourage me through it. We worked ourselves silly. I am so tired and sore. But it is a marvelous feeling!

We ended the visit with a stop at IHOP!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Texas Adventures II: Old Friends and a Good Samaritan

While we were in Texas visiting my sister, I was able to arrange a playdate with Kim and the littlest peanut! Kim suggested a fabulous park in the middle of the city. It was perfect, and the girls had a great time. The park had a neat playground with a "big girl" slide. I tried to dissuade Eveley from the slide but she was having none of that. She went straight for it, plopped down, and flew to the bottom.

The park also had a great sprinkler play area. Thank goodness! It was very hot!

It was so nice to be able to see Kim and Kate. We had a delicious lunch and then I got to go tour the Peanuts' new abode. That was tons of fun! I love looking at houses, and this one is simply gorgeous.

On our last evening, we took Eveley to get some yummy ice cream and play outside at a park. Unfortunately, I was too preoccupied with keeping up with her and the stroller that I left my wallet on a park bench. I did not realize this until we were back at Kate's apartment. She raced back to the park, but the wallet was not there. By this time, it was after 9:00 and my flight left the next morning at 10. I had nothing -- no driver's license, no cash, no credit cards, no checkbook. Everything important was in that wallet, including a generous gift card to Cold Stone that a friend had just given me!!

I immediately called Bob to cancel my credit card and checks and then called the airport to see what on earth I was supposed to do. They told me to bring any identifying information that I could and arrive early. I would have to go through extra security measures but was told that I would likely be able to board.

So, I got there early with my identifying information: my bottle of prescribed prenatal vitamins and my badge from the MOPS conference. Literally, that was all I had! I also tried to show off my monogrammed bag, as if that was an identifying piece of information.... Oh well, it couldn't hurt, I thought. They frisked me and Eveley. She was pretty confused with the whole procedure but maintained her calm. We were finally allowed to board and had no other issues getting home. What a relief!

The next day, I got a phone call from a police detective who informed me that some man had turned in my wallet. He went through the list of its contents. I suppressed the desire to ask if the Cold Stone gift card was there. But after he finished, I realized that everything was accounted for! Yippee! It is in the process of being mailed back to me, but I am so thankful for this honest man. I will get his information from the detective and thank him personally.

Hopefully, this will not be my last visit to Texas. But next time, we're driving!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Texas Adventures

As I mentioned, Eveley and I just got back from an 8-day trip to Texas to visit my sister Kate who moved there last year. We had not seen her since Christmas and missed her terribly!

Kate (or, Katie as I know her. She became "Kate" when she went to college!) works in the youth ministry at a large church near the Houston area. She's all grown up! I am six years older than her, but we are very close. I would not have believed we would have ever been good friends when we were growing up. She totally got on my nerves! She was my "designated double-dater" which meant I had to take her along if I wanted to go out with a boy at the age of 16. She said terribly embarassing things and saw me get my "first kiss". She ran straight and told my parents which resulted in a month long grounding for me! I am laughing at all of these stories now, but at the time, they were not funny!

I love Kate (and my other 3 siblings), and she is a perfect aunt.

Robbie called her "Tatie" and Eveley labeled her "Mimi" this week. It's so cute. She still asks for Mimi when she wakes up in the morning.

In another moment of delusion, I flew by myself with Eveley to Kate's college graduation 2 weeks after Eveley was born. Some people never learn...

The last half of this trip was planned to allow me to attend a MOPS Convention in Dallas with some girlfriends.

We had a fabulous time!

Eveley stayed with Kate for 3 days. This was the longest I have ever been apart from her. But Eveley had a terrific time. She enjoyed a pedicure, yummy snacks, and lots of playground time. And, we can't forget, she befriended the dog.

Eveley found this dog in the back of Kate's closet. It was an old gift from an old boyfriend. Kate just knew it would come in handy one day, and it did!

I returned late Saturday night. When Eveley woke up Sunday morning and saw me, she gave the biggest, cutest smile I've ever seen! Then she layed on me for a long time. I missed that little stinker!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

To Fly or Not To Fly

That is a question I should have asked 9 days ago!

Eveley and I just returned from an 8 day trip to Texas. When I was planning this trip, I mistakenly believed that I was Superwoman.

Nothing was too hard for me! So, I could fly with a 17-month-old seated on my lap being 30 weeks pregnant, right?

Well, sadly I have realized that there are a few things too hard for me. This was one of them.

Our trip began last Sunday. Someone (Superwoman) booked us on a flight that didn't leave until 5:30 pm, connected in Atlanta with a 2-hour layover, and then continued with a 2-hour flight to our Texas destination, arriving around 11:00 pm.

We sat on the tarmac in Atlanta for 45 minutes and were seated next to some unfriendly and obviously childless people. Oh, and did I mention my back is broken and my belly is large?

Hmmm... I am journalling all of this information in case I am ever tempted to do this again.

The return trip was much better. On our first flight, we sat next to Santa Claus who worked for Billy Graham (seriously). He was very kind and helpful with Eveley.

On our second flight, the stewardesses felt sorry for me and bumped us up to First Class. Eveley and I had our own seats and it was fabulous. She was still a little stinker but a kind lady handed me a packet of mini-M&Ms. She was one of many angels I encountered on the return trip!!

This little princess.... a stinker??? Surely not!

I must say we had a fabulous trip and made many many memories! I will post about them later. Right now, I am plum tuckered out!!