Monday, October 26, 2009

Weekend Update: Part 1

We returned from our Respite Retreat late Sunday evening. I have not even begun to fully process my thoughts from the weekend. But one thing I know is that I miss everyone already!

We were joined by 11 other couples. Throughout the first night and following morning, we shared our stories. This was an incredibly emotional time. The stories were all unique but equally horrendous. And while this sounds pretty depressing, I must say that it was a deep, bonding experience.

Everyone was so open this weekend, allowing themselves to be vulnerable and honest. Because we all were familiar with the earth-shattering pain and loss, no question was off-limits, and there was no time or need for shallow conversation.

There was something very comfortable about being with a group of people who really understood. They knew the numbing pain. They remembered the deep groans. They experienced an irreplaceable loss. They were haunted with unanswered questions and sad memories. There was no need to apologize for an awkward moment, or to try to filter my words and thoughts. We could just be real. It was refreshing.

I was sad today. I was sad for myself and missed my Robbie. And I was sad for my new friends. I was sad that some of them were returning to quiet houses. I was sad that they have many hard and difficult days in front of them.

I'm very thankful for this weekend and for the wonderful people we met. Two and a half years ago, I would never have believed that it was possible to be at this place I find myself today. This has only come by submitting to the Lord as my Creator and the Ruler of the universe, and allowing Him to carry me on this road.

I don't like it. I don't understand it. I would not have chosen it. But I will trust Him.

My heart will choose to say, "Lord, Blessed be Your Name!"

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Long Story Short

Where are we headed this weekend? I'll try to make this long story short.

A few weeks after Robbie went to heaven, my sweet friend April gave me a book. It had been recommended by one of her friends who lost a child years earlier.

This book, written by Nancy Guthrie, told her story of losing 2 children and examined the life and suffering of Job. It was perfect. I desperately wanted to find someone who had been in my shoes and survived! Nancy helped me gain perspective during those early, critical hours. I began her 1 year devotional book on Hope. When the book was finished, I could hardly believe I had survived one whole year.

I began to read more of her articles and books. I emailed her several times, and she kindly responded with sincere encouragment.

Earlier this year, my sister Carrianna called from college to tell me some sad news. Her friend, James, had a young niece who had just been diagnosed with cancer. James was working in China but decided to fly back to the States to be with his family. We helped my sister fly to Kansas to see James, and while she was there, sweet Cora went to heaven. I mentioned it here. Because Carrianna had a similar experience saying goodbye to Robbie, she was able to cry with and encourage this family.

I wrote to Cora's mom, Jess, and sent her Nancy's book and devotional guide. I prayed it would minister to and encourage her as it had done for me.

Over the past 2 years, many people have asked me for advice on things to say/not to say or ways to help a grieving family. To be honest, the only advice I can give is that it must all be about Jesus! That's it! There is no comfort other than the reminder that Jesus is our Hope and the Ultimate Healer of our pain. That is why these books were such a comfort to me. Their focus was always Jesus -- encouraging me to keep an eternal perspective and to be excited because of the Hope my Jesus gives me.

So, long story short... What does all of this have to do with this weekend?

This summer, I received an invitation from Nancy to a Respite Retreat. Nancy and her husband are hosting 12 couples who are on similar journeys of surviving the loss of a child. It is held in Tennessee at a 13-bedroom lodge. Very intimate setting. Somewhat scary!

And guess who else will be joining us.....? Sweet Cora's parents! I got the invitation the same day I received an email from Jess and just had to pass it along. What a small world.

We'll be dropping the kids off at my parents tomorrow and then heading to the retreat. If you think of it, say a special prayer for the couples who will be coming together to share about a very difficult and personal subject. Pray that we learn more about the Lord and His masterful plan for our lives. Pray that we can encourage one another on this lifelong journey. (Oh yeah. And pray that Caleb will take a bottle!)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Raising a Southern Belle

I am a southern girl. No complaints. No excuses. If you listen to me talk, there's no doubt that I was born and bred in the South.

My mother was raised in the Deep South -- south Alabama -- and comes from a long lineage of southern belles! Now, I do not mean "high society" southern belles. I'm referring to a heritage of good manners, proper etiquette, and hospitality.

We were always taught to be courteous and polite -- have nice telephone manners, proper table etiquette, and a hospitable spirit. From the cradle, we knew how to set a table, place our napkins in our laps, ask to be excused before leaving the table, and, of course, address adults as mam or sir.

With Eveley, I am trying to teach her the importance of having good manners. I allow her to set the table and show her where each utensil should go. I am reminding her to say "Yes sir" or "Yes mam" and please and thank you.

But I don't think I was prepared for the instruction that would be necessary on this one important issue...

the bathroom

As a new mom, no one told me that I should then begin thinking about what we would call "it".

Using "proper" terms was something my mother always had an opinion about.

We were not supposed to say stink. Instead, it simply smells bad.
We should not say puke or barf or snot or boogers. Rather, the correct term was germs.

We still laugh about this.

And while we had some rather peculiar terms for bodily functions, we never said pee or pp. It sounded much more ladylike to say tinkle or tt. (Not sure why a t is more dignified than a p. But it must be written in the Southern Belle Handbook somewhere.)

Well, I was not prepared to call "it" anything in particular. I didn't even realize that we were at that stage yet. Until one Sunday afternoon.

Our church had a potluck dinner after the morning service. We were all gathered around the tables preparing to say a blessing when beautiful Miss Eveley - in her Sunday dress and bouncy curls - sauntered in front of the group and grabbed my leg.

"Mama," she said loudly. "I have a DOO DOO!"

A what??

She repeated it. Louder.

Land's sake! A doo doo? That was not one of the terms being considered. And you had to hear how she said it. She emphasized the words very dramatically, taking several seconds to say each one.

I took her into the bathroom. "It is not a doo doo, Eveley," I told her. "It is a ... a... it is a ... stinker."

There. That sounded better.

"No, mama. There is a doo doo in there," she insisted.

Oh boy. Well, we are still trying to figure out what to call "it". There are some really heinous possibilities. (And because my southern belle mother reads this blog, I am not allowed to repeat them.) But I'll let you know when we settle on something dignified.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

You Go Girl!

Well, it's official! My sister is getting married. Yippee!!

Meet my soon-to-be brother in law, Oscar.

Kate and Oscar met through church in Houston. If she gushes about the engagement on her blog, I'll let you know.

Can't write more.

Got to go.

Time's a ticking.

Many details to plan.

Game on!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

3 C's


My sweet Eveley Joy. She is growing up so quickly. I think my friend April summed it up when she said, "The days seem long but the years seem short!"

I can't get enough of these curls. I put in the medium-sized rollers on Saturday night and she woke up on Sunday looking like Shirley Temple. Yes, I am fully bracing myself for her first self-administered haircut, but in the meantime, I am really enjoying these lovely locks!

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Now for the CUPCAKES.

I had to make several batches of cupcakes on Monday for a ladies' dessert party. Eveley was a great helper. My friend Bridget sent this adorable chef outfit to Eveley last year, and she loves it! She kept asking me where my hat was.

She licked the beaters and bowls.

And attempted to crack an didn't work out so well.

We had a great time, and only a few cupcakes were harmed in the process.

And finally.... guess who is CRAWLING.

Mr. Caleb started crawling last week and is all over the place. He's trying so hard to stand or pull up. I know that will come soon. We're entering new territory!

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Friday, October 2, 2009

Uh Oh...

I mentioned that I would be heading to a women's conference this past weekend sans kids. It was only for one night. But what I failed to mention was that this was my first night away from Caleb and I am still a nursing mommy.

Don't let those sweet, blue eyes fool you!

In my typical optimistic thought process, I assumed he would take a bottle when he got hungry. He wouldn't miss me too much, and I would miss him too much either.

It wasn't until I woke up Saturday morning that I realized I had made a major error in judgment.

Caleb is almost 10 months old. He still nurses about 4 or 5 times a day, but he also eats A LOT of baby food. He has taken bottles before - breast milk and juice. And this past month, he took 3 bottles of formula without any prodding. So, I just expected him to drink when he was thirsty.

My poor mother. She ended up feeding him breast milk and apple juice with a spoon. He just refused to take the bottle. He would literally throw it across the room and scream in disgust.

Enough about him. I was in so much pain on Saturday. We were in a gigantic coliseum with 10,000 other women -- great music, awesome speakers, tons of fun. But all I could think about was how much time was left until I literally exploded.

Out of all the 10,000 women in the coliseum, I saw one baby. One. And she was sitting 2 rows in front of me. She was barely a month old and her SMART nursing mommy decided to bring her to the conference. I tried not to look at her. But at one point, I leaned over to my girlfriends and asked: "Do you think it would be weird if I asked that mommy if I could nurse her baby?" I was serious.

Anyway, around 8:00 I finally made it home to Caleb (he's really all I cared about at this point). I was so glad to see him. And he was very glad to see me too. He made up for lost time and went to bed with a full tummy. He slept very soundly. And so did I!

But here is the dilemma. I am leaving again in 3 weeks! My husband and I are going to a conference together (more on that later) and we must leave the kiddies for a few nights. But Caleb is still mad at me. He refuses the bottle from me or anyone else. It doesn't matter if it has juice, formula, or breast milk in it. He puts up a very good fight. I've tried other bottles and even soft sippy cups. He's not fooled.

Oh well. He's got 20 days to learn!