Tuesday, February 19, 2013

He's Not My "Ex"

Twice recently (once today, actually!) I have had people refer to Michael as my ex or my ex-husband. I know they just misspoke, but the connotation of those terms rubs me the wrong way. My understanding is that an "ex" spouse is one from whom you are divorced.

I am not divorced.

I am widowed.

Michael is my late husband.

I know there are far more divorced people than widowed people and so referring to "exes" is far more common, but I don't think I'm out of line for taking the slightest offense to that term being used to describe my Honey. Our separation was not by choice - we did not choose to end our marriage.

If Michael was anywhere on this planet, nothing would keep me from him. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Michaela @ Twenty-one Months

I've been provoking Michaela by practicing with my new camera. Sometimes she really doesn't appreciate having the camera pointed at her - thus the top photo. Other times, she'll ham it up for me.

This month has gotten off to a rough start for us. We've both been sick with upper respiratory infections. Our sleep has been off, and Michaela hasn't had much of an appetite. We are looking forward to spring and better health.

At twenty-one months, Michaela wears 2T or 24 months sized clothing. Her current shoe size is a 6 or 6.5, and she's in a size 4 diaper. 

The most amazing thing about this age is the language development. She tries out new words all the time, and she's stringing more phrases and short sentences together. It won't be long before we're having real conversations.

Before bedtime every night we read "Goodnight Moon". It's such a sweet time to cuddle and conclude our day. In the morning she wants to read the book to me, and she does a great job. She's got a terrific memory. I realized that what she's doing are classic pre-reading skills - things I remember doing with my first graders. She's doing a "picture walk" and telling the story as she sees it. Very exciting for her teacher mama to witness!

Twenty-one months. Bittersweet for her mama, but just perfect for her.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

I Can't Wait to Get to Heaven

I am just a little less than three weeks from the date of Michael's Home-going. It will be three years on March 7th. My mom's dear friend, Carolynn, is marking two years today since her beloved Bob went Home, and another friend just marked what would have been his son's twentieth birthday this past week. All of us are grieving our loved ones, but we do so with the assurance that in time, perhaps very soon, we will see them again in Heaven.

I grew up listening to the music of Keith Green. I remember having the opportunity to go with my youth group to see a concert of his, but for some reason (that I can't remember) I didn't go. Not too long after that he went Home. I have always regretted not going to that concert, but I will be seeking out Keith when I get Home to thank him for ministering to me with his music throughout my life.

This morning, his widow, Melody, posted this quote on Keith's Facebook page. It's the introduction to one of my favorite songs of his:
“You know, I look around at the world and I see all the beauty that God made. I see the forest and the trees and all the things... And it says in the Bible that He made them is six days and I don't know if they're a literal six days or not, scientists would say no, some theologians would say yes. But I know that Jesus Christ has been preparing a home for me and for some of you, for two thousand years -- and if the world only took six days and that home two thousand years -- Hey man, this is like living in a garbage can compared to what's going on up there.”  
Yes, it's a garbage can, but one day the Lord will make all things new. Maranatha!


Friday, February 15, 2013

One Word 2013 - February

As I attempt to write this post tonight, I am once again sitting in bed next to my congested and clingy baby punkin. She will not rest unless I am here with her. Consequently, the dishes are undone, her bag for tomorrow is unpacked, the trash is overflowing, and many other things will go undone tonight. So, presently I am trusting the Lord to heal my sweet girl and restore her to good health so that our nighttime routine can return to normal, and I can have a little time to myself in the evenings once again (and the chores can get done).

I have found my circumstances in the last couple of weeks to be challenging in some ways, and I've really had to remind myself to trust the Lord. And, just when I start to falter in my trust, He blesses me. He is so good. He is so faithful. My needs and concerns matter to Him. I just need to rest in that.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
{Philippians 4:6-7}

Trust = Peace 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Michaela's Valentines

Angela, and her sweeties Peter and Favour, sent Michaela Valentines and stickers today! What a wonderful surprise to come home to. Michaela made quick work of the stickers by putting them all over her shirt and her pants. Thank you, sweet friends, not just for today's mail, but for your friendship and for your prayers. God bless you!

A Week of Love - With Love

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Well, I had hoped to blog tonight, but Michaela is still sick. Poor baby! Maybe tomorrow night...

From our home to yours, warm wishes for a Valentine's Day filled with lots of love!


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Week of Love - Love Is

Image from Blackberry Cottage HD on Etsy

Somewhere along the line, I think it was in a youth group way back when, I heard someone say that love isn't a feeling. At the time, I really couldn't get my head around that. Of course it was a feeling! I felt love for my family, my pets, and something like love for that cute guy in my government class. Come on!
It took me a long time to understand what that speaker was saying back then. Love is a verb. It's something we do. Some of the ways world defines love are as physical attraction, or family ties, or friendship, or a passion for someone or something. And those things can be a part of loving relationships. But I think real love transcends those things. Because sometime personal relationships aren't easy. Real people are hard to love.
In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul the Apostle identifies love's characteristics. It's known as the "Love Chapter" in Christian circles, and many people have it read at their weddings. I was going to take the time to comment on the verses, but I've got a sick baby girl tonight who needs her mama to cuddle with her instead. So, just read it for yourself and consider what love is and is not...

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.

Love is beautiful!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Week of Love - Loving Michaela to the Lord

How many times have you heard a parent lovingly say that all they really want for their children is to be happy? Like all the time, right? I think that's probably how most parents measure whether or not they are a good and loving parent. Do they have happy, well-adjusted kids. Understandable, but...

That's not my greatest wish for Michaela.

Yes, of course, I want her to be happy.

But more than that, I want her to be holy.

I've learned in the school of hard knocks (and how did a nice girl like me end up in that school, anyway?!) that circumstances have an awful lot to do with whether or not I feel happy. I have had just a few truly happy, carefree days in the last four years. The not-so-happy ones have outweighed the happy ones. However, I have a deep joy that transcends happy or unhappy circumstances, and that joy is found in my relationship with Jesus.

In Him I have assurance of my salvation and eternal life. (John 5:24)

In Him I have peace that passes understanding. (Philippians 4:7)

In Him I have every spiritual blessing. (Ephesians 1:3)

In Him I have an inheritance. (Ephesians 1:14)

In Him I have His Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:12)

And so much more!

For me to only focus on helping Michaela to thrive in school, have a lot of friends, participate in extracurricular activities, and be attractive is just not enough. Because all of those things are temporary, and I want her to live her life for eternal things. Things that will last forever.

I am one of the most inexperienced parents on the planet, but I do have more experience with life than many parents of very young children (thanks to my advanced maternal age). And my experiences have taught me that these are the things my daughter needs to learn from me. 

Train a child up in the way he (or she!) should go
And when he (or she!) is old he (or she!) will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)

Because I love her so, I am committed to:

Teaching her as much as I can about Jesus.

Reading and studying the Bible together.

Praying together about everything.

Singing His praises together in the car and at home.

Attending church together.

Providing her with a Christian education.

Modeling a biblical worldview for her.

And whatever else the Lord leads me to do.

Of course I will encourage her to develop her God-given talents and abilities, and I will point out opportunities for her/us to use them to serve the Lord as well.

In John 10:10 Jesus said that He came to give us life, and that it would be an abundant life. That's exactly what I want for Michaela.


Monday, February 11, 2013

A Week of Love - True Love

Ah, Valentine's Day... My students love it. They can't wait to pass out their drugstore Valentines to one another, and get high on sugar. But once beyond the elementary school social scene, most people are ambivalent to Valentine's Day. I think Valentine's has become a Hallmark holiday - an opportunity for retailers to sell their stuff. For many people, it's a low point on the calendar, and a glaring reminder of the true love they believe is lacking in their life.

But true love has nothing to do with cards, flowers, candy, or a romantic get-away.

True love left His heavenly home and humbled Himself to become one of us.

True love healed the sick and raised the dead.

True love spoke the truth in love.

True love gave Himself on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins - and yours.

True love overcame the grave and rose again.

True love lives forever and will return one day.

True love will wipe every tear from my eyes and make all things new

True love is found at the foot of the Cross.

The world substitutes true love with things, and sometimes with people. Things break. People can break our hearts, or die (true story...).

Jesus is my true love, but I don't always love Him in return the way I should. My love for Him is distracted by my earthly desires and responsibilities. This week I'm going to attempt to write about love from a biblical perspective, and focus my heart on my true love.


Friday, February 8, 2013

My Funny Girl

Michaela is very vivacious, and she has a great sense of humor.

You can see she likes to have fun!

Two things she's doing lately just crack me up. First, she's cuh-razy about Thomas (the Train). Nick Jr. has become kind of lame these days (with the exception of Dora and the Fresh Beats), so we've spent more time watching Sprout. They have these little segments where homemade birthday cards are featured for little viewers with birthdays that day. Many of the cards have the characters on the Sprout shows on them. When a card comes up with Thomas on it, Michaela yells "Thomas!" and then she tears up rather dramatically. It reminds me of those old news clips where teenage girls went hysterical for the Beatles or Elvis. She's practically inconsolable. I can't help but laugh, and I think that offends her. Oh, well...

The other thing that makes me laugh is that Michaela won't let me brush her teeth unless she gets a timeout first. Every time I take her into the bathroom to brush, she turns her head and won't open her mouth. So then I ask her if she needs a timeout, and she will enthusiastically say yes. I sit her down in the hallway for one minute (she seems very happy while this is happening - no tears), and then I tell her she needs to be cooperative while I brush her teeth. She says okay or sorry, and then we go in and brush without any more trouble. Happens every time! I actually plan on it now.

It is a pleasure to see her personality developing more and more. She is such a happy and sweet-natured toddler, and I'm a blessed momma.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

When Nothing More Could Be Done

It was this Thursday three years ago that Dr. Kabinivar told us there was nothing more that could be done for Michael, and it was time to transition to hospice care. I know we all saw it coming, but hearing our trusted physician articulate that was really devastating. Our mothers were with us in that small examination room. Michael was in a wheelchair and on oxygen 24/7. He wanted to pray and led us in the Lord's Prayer. I think I asked him some stupid questions about what he'd want for a memorial service. That's me. Always got to be thinking ahead and making plans. I just cringe thinking about that now.

What followed after that was coordinating all the hospice services, and the onslaught of family visitors rushing to see him at least one more time. I think we both just wanted to be alone, but that was not an option. It was Valentine's Day weekend. There was some strife between his sister-in-law and me. I was upset because she was not respecting our wishes for short visits. I cried angry tears and felt powerless in my own home. Michael was frustrated, too, but he was so weak and tired. I burdened him with my anger and frustration. I was past the point of being able to filter my feelings very well, and I was used to being so open with him.

We had help every day from that point on. Hospice visits. Family. But fewer and fewer friends per Michael's choice. His friend Arlette (pictured below) was an exception. She is a massage therapist, and she gave him a massage each week. He loved that. He needed that.

I can hardly believe that it's been three years already. So much has changed, but it seems like he was just here in some ways. Now our living room is cluttered with Michaela's toys instead of Michael's medical equipment. I am focused on living instead of dying, and that is a blessing.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Mama's New Toy!

I have been wanting a new camera since Michaela started walking. The cameras I have are well over five years old (probably about eight years old, actually), and they just don't work fast enough to take pictures of a busy toddler. When Michaela was littler and immobile for the most part, those cameras and my iPhone were adequate, and I do have some beautiful pictures of her from those early months.

Anyway, this camera came into my life because my friend, John of John Norling Photography, had recently purchased this camera and used it on a trip with his lovely wife, Sakura, to San Francisco. He posted the pictures he took of their trip on Facebook, and they were just great - all of his stuff is great. He has taken pictures of Michael and me, and of Michaela and me, and he just did my niece's wedding. So, yesterday morning he posted that he was selling the camera for a song, and I jumped at the chance to make it mine. I know nothing about photography, but I've got this incredibly beautiful subject and it would be a shame to let her childhood pass by without taking more photos.

John brought it by the house, and gave me a crash course on how to use it. I'm sure I will be picking his brain as I get more familiar with what it can do. Today, I hope to get some time to practice using it.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Currently {February}

Listening: to Chuck Swindoll on my drive to work. His series right now is called The Grace Awakening, and I'm loving the scriptures and anecdotes he shares to illustrate the Lord's incredible grace. The apostle Paul wrote, "I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus." (1 Timothy 1:12-14) Good stuff. If He would do it for Paul, He will do it for me and you.

Loving: the flannel jammies I got on clearance at Target after Christmas. Why haven't I had flannel pajamas in so long? They are so comfy! I'm also loving my "fake" Uggs.
My feet have been so cold lately. Not anymore. One last "love" for my cold feet has also got to be my Keysocks. They are a great way to wear socks with flats and wedges or pumps when the weather is cool. Just had to share the "love" with you.
Thinking: a lot about my new friend, Mark. But, that's all I'm going to say for now. ;)

winter to finish doing its thing. At least the days are getting noticeably longer already, and sometimes the temperature creeps up into the 70s.

to start my taxes. Fun times...

Music: not much time for listening to music, but when I do it's mostly praise and worship.