Friday, August 9, 2013


I have not written in this blog in a LONG time. I have had many "that would be good for the blog" moments but for one reason or another I didn't write. In a nutshell though, we are doing really well. Girls are growing up too fast, so I am not missing a moment of it!  We are so blessed!  I need to be better at updating not so people know about me, but because Judy and I made a pact that we would carry this blog on to help other young women in similar situations. 
The other night I was emailing a close friend that is helping me with some projects around the house and planning a girls trip.  As I was about to close the email, I started unexpectedly journal the feelings I have felt for the past weeks, but could not quite put them into words. This is what I wrote...with the help of The Holy Spirit.  
"On another note, but kind of on the same, I think I am going through a new phase of all this "grieving" process. They say it is different for everyone and it is so true. In the past 3.5 years I have lived life and carried on my role of whom I became [9 years ago] - wife and mother. It has not been easy to let go of the wife identity. I think it was easier for me to carry on like that (or at times thought I would meet someone and instantly be "wife"again). It has taken me these past 3.5 years for me to be able to let go of that role [and identity].  It recently came to mind that part of the reason it has been so hard is that Mark and I had made 1 and 3 year goals (the January before). [We actually sat down, discussed, dreamt and wrote them down]. 
I have accomplished most of the goals, at least the ones achievable without him. Things I never in my dreams thought I would do without him. Things that hurt so much to not  have him physically next to me and our girls - [yes that "unfathomable" pain.  The amazing part to all this is that not once did I sit down and tell myself I had to achieve these goals... All have been presented to me - almost on a golden platter - all I have asked for is for God's will to be done.  It has been so amazing to see how loving, gentle and generous God has been with me.  And amazing to share all of this with my daughters. 
 What got me through each of those things was my faith of him [Mark] being right next to us. ..allowing us to never feel alone. The girls and I have spoken about him so much and being such an amazing father and man, I am happy that we have had this time together, the 3 of us, so the girls could get to know - through me- who Mark was as a father and husband and how our marriage worked.  It has helped me validate my married years.[ The short almost 6 years I was married were truly wonderful and full of love. His love for our family has given me incredible strength.]
As I plan for this next year, I am realizing we can do new things, visit new places, make new choices and make decisions with confidence because we are ok.  
..... I am feeling somewhat released yet so loved. It is so hard to describe what I have felt. I have realized that my mom had been so right...she would say that I was completely in love with Mark still. [She would tell me that I still had that glow when I talked about him and that I was not ready.]. I told her "of course I was in love, he was my husband and we loved each other very much!" (and in my head I would tell myself "he is"). I have had to let go gradually... Very slowly. It all happened so quickly.  I know now what emotions to let go and what to keep holding on to. I am ok with being a wife in the past and not being one now, because I am doing the best job I can being a mom and I have honored Mark everyday in that way. 

It is time for newness. I am released. I am confident. I am happy. A facelift to the house (keeping it humble though), venturing out, and living my life the way it is now and liking it even more. Thank you God that I have this in my heart. Please preserve it. 


I became a widow on the third day of my thirty-first year.  Widowed at thirty-one and now a single mom to a son who was one year, three months and three days old.  The single mom thing wasn’t new as I had been without a spouse for sixteen months.  Sixteen months he unconsciously fought for his life in a hospital bed before finally being called Home. 

The months after Keith died are a blur, but one day I was finally ready to start thinking about the future.  I whole-heartedly believed that there was a future for me as well as for my son, Brooks, but I didn’t know what that future looked like.  In my mind I knew what I wanted, but I didn’t know if what I wanted existed. 

I remember finally deciding that I needed to move on.  I didn’t know if the Lord had someone else out there for me, but I knew I needed to allow myself to be open to the idea.  I began to think about this possibility and I came up with two options:  I hold out for the perfect man – someone who meets my criteria for husband material as well as father material – or I find someone that I am compatible with to be an excellent father to Brooks. 

The perfect man would be nearly impossible to find.  I wanted someone that had never married before and didn’t have any children.  I was hoping there was someone out there that fit that criteria because he was too busy focusing on his career and never met the right woman rather than having some giant character flaw that kept him single.  I wanted someone who was sharp and funny and kind and generous.  I wanted someone who loved the Lord and loved children.  And since I was making this list of the man who probably didn’t exist, I added one final desire that would knock out 99.9% of the male population – I wanted someone who knew Keith.  I wanted someone who knew the man that I loved with all of my being because then he would truly understand the heartache that I endured for so long and be able to be patient with me as I lived this thing called life. 

The good father would be easier to find.  I knew he was out there.  I was certain I could find someone that I cared for and who would be a good father to Brooks.  I remember wondering if I should just take one for the team.  Should I find someone that I could potentially love, not be in love with, so that Brooks can have a father?  Should I settle for less than what my heart wanted and marry someone so that Brooks can have that male influence from someone other than his grandfathers and uncles?  Or do I hold out for the perfect man who would meet the needs of both husband AND father?

This was a tough decision and I finally realized that I had to let it go.  I released the burden of my future and decided to live in the present, knowing and being satisfied that I might possibly live out my days as a widowed, single mom. 

There was such freedom in releasing this choice; it was no longer my decision to make because I gave it to God.  That’s when I realized that this uncertainty, the uncertainty of my future, wasn’t my burden to bear.  I was trying to get through the day with this stress strapped to my back when Jesus was at my side asking to carry it for me. 

When I finally gave it to Him, when I surrendered my future to the plans He had for me, there was freedom.  There was so much joy and freedom I decided that I needed a vacation.  I had quite a lot of airline miles accumulated from paying hospital bills that I could literally go anywhere in the world.  Around this time I saw something posted on Facebook from an acquaintance, Patrick, who had recently moved to Australia.  Australia.  I could visit Australia.  I talked to a couple of my girlfriends and asked if they wanted to take a trip over there and they said yes.  I reached out to Patrick, who used to live in the same building as I did when I was married to Keith, to see if he could help us plan an itinerary and maybe let us crash at his place for a couple of nights. 

As Patrick and I corresponded about my trip across the world, we fell in love.  We fell hard and we fell fast.  He not only hit all of my criteria, but he surpassed it and I hit all of his.  I knew he was the one for me and I knew the Lord was just waiting for me to put the ball in His court rather than keeping it in my own.  Without Him and His guidance I would have just been spinning my wheels not going anywhere.  I had to release my plans and be satisfied in the present to gain the freedom and blessings that He had planned for me in the future.

And that’s what He wants.  I think it grieves Him to see the chains we place on ourselves.  Why are we limiting and restraining ourselves when we were made to be free?  The sooner we can release things to God the sooner He can put us on the path to His perfect plan for our lives. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Finding Extraordinary Purpose in the Ordinary Days...

Four year olds are exhausting.  Twins are exhausting.  Day in and day out, life is exhausting.  The mornings are exhausting; the afternoons are exhausting; the evenings are exhausting and the nights are exhausting.  There are some days that I am so tired that I wonder what I did all day to become so tired, only to become discouraged when the answer seems to be “nothing.”  Days where it seems nothing of purpose is accomplished.  Days where I’m exhausted from the sheer monotony of having three kids at home.  You know the days…the ones that make you feel like this:

Thankfully, I believe we are out of the “trying to survive” stage.  We entered this stage after the girls were born and we began adjusting to life with two newborns.  One baby can be tough.  Two babies can test your limits.  During this stage I would wake up and just try to make it through the day, only to wake up the next day and do it all again.  I remember a phone conversation Patrick had with his mom and she asked what we were going to do that weekend.  Our answer?  Just try to make it through it. 

Currently we are in the “being alive” stage.  There are good days and there are bad days, but days are no longer survived; they are lived.  I can do more than just bathe both girls.  I can bathe the girls, make lunches, straighten up the house, play with Brooks, cook dinner and maybe even run an errand.  Again, sometimes the daily grind can be discouraging, but at least I am able to make a to-do list that no longer has to have “shower,”  “brush teeth,” or "get dressed" on it.  Luckily, showering, brushing my teeth and getting dressed are pretty much guaranteed in this stage of life.  And with the passing of each day I know I am one step closer to once again being in the “able to thrive” stage. 

Our church back in Australia has a blog entitled Selah Moments and it’s a place where women share perspectives based on the word of the month.  The word for July is “honour” and I wrote the following piece: 

As I contemplated this word, honour, I found myself asking, “What am I doing to honour God?”  Initially my response was a superficial one: I’m trying my best to live a life that is pleasing to Him.  But what does that really mean?  I pressed myself and began to dive into a deeper understanding.

While considering the question of what I’m doing to honour God, the parable of the talents was brought to mind.  Matthew 25:14-30 tells the story of a master who entrusts talents (NIV says bags of gold) to his servants.  Three servants receive five talents, two talents and one talent, respectively.  The servants who received five and two talents both doubled their portions while the servant who received only one talent dug a hole and buried his master’s money.  To the two who doubled their portion, the ones who went out and DID something with what their master gave them, the master said, “Well done, good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.  Come and share your master’s happiness!”  To the one who buried his talent, the one who chose the safe path, the path where nothing was lost nor nothing was gained, the master said, “You wicked, lazy servant…throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness…”

“Talents” in this parable can parallel many things.  As I began to think about what the Lord has entrusted to me, the first thing that came to mind is my family.  How am I honouring my husband?  How am I honouring my children?  Am I an encouragement to them, doubling my portion?  In what areas are my strengths and what areas need strengthening?  Do I choose to honour them on a daily basis because honouring them truly is a choice and making this choice is easier on some days than others?  What am I doing to honour God?  By honouring them I’m honouring Him. 

“Talents” can also take the form of money, as was the case in the parable.  Am I being a good steward with the finances God has provided?  Is tithing a priority?  Am I honouring Him with how we choose to spend our funds?  Because, again, this is a choice and, again, it’s an easier choice on some days than it is on others. 

Finally, “talents” can reflect what God has blessed us each with – particular gifts and talents.  How are we using these gifts?  Are our abilities being put to use or are they simply buried, not accomplishing anything.  In some cases, these talents might have been buried so long that we’ve completely forgotten about them.  God didn’t bless us in areas only to have us choose to do nothing with it.  He wants us to use our talents so that we might bless others, in turn, honouring Him. 

This word, honour, didn’t encourage me.  It didn’t inspire me.  It convicted me.  I want to choose to live a life that gains the response, “Well done, good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.  Come and share your master’s happiness!”  I want to honour God by honouring what He has blessed and entrusted me with – my family, my finances, my talents. 

I wanted to share it here as an encouragement for those stuck in the daily grind.  I started viewing ordinary, everyday tasks as ways to honor God and it has benefited me greatly.  It has given purpose to the days that seem uneventful.  It has allowed me to see those days for what they truly are:  the opportunity to pour into the lives of my children.  Viewing these moments as a chance to honor God by honoring my family has made me a better wife and a better mother.  There is a renewing in my spirit that was absent before I changed my outlook.  The monotony of the previous days has been replaced with a joy and a love that can only be granted by the Lord and for that I am grateful. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


I recently wrote this for our church in Australia and thought I'd share it here as it's been a while since we've updated this blog.  The original post is HERE.

As I rocked one of our twins back to sleep one night a single word was brought to my mind:  cherish.  The word for June.  I reflected on all of the Lord’s provisions in my life and thought about all that I have to cherish, including our most recent double blessing, twin girls.  I stared at them and my heart swelled.  While rocking my sweet baby girls I was overcome by all of the blessings in my life.  The entire world was right and it was not possible for my heart to feel any fuller.  Back and forth we moved as we were surrounded in total peace.  This time is most definitely a cherished time.

I love the time I have where I can experience them one on one, holding them close and soaking up their presence. There is nothing they can do to make me love them any more and there is nothing they can do to make me love them any less.  They have nothing to give and nothing to say; all they can do is just be. 

This is how it should be in our relationship with God, our Father.  Often times I neglect getting into the Word because I don’t have enough time to really dive into it so I don’t do it at all.  I shy away from praying for others because I fear I don’t have the right words to say or I won’t make any sense.  When I do this, I am missing the big picture: it’s not about words on a page or words spoken; it’s about spending time with Him. 

The Lord doesn’t want my time spent with Him to be burdened; He wants it to be cherished time.  In fact, He cherishes it more than I do.  There is nothing I can do to make Him love me any more and there is nothing I can do to make Him love me any less.  As I draw near to Him, He wants to hold me in His arms and surround me in total peace while he renews my mind and soul. 

It’s been several years since I’ve been reminded of this parallel between parents and newborns, God and His children.  However, this parallel isn’t just with newborns; my husband and I see it even as we parent our four-year-old son. 

I love how He uses our every day lives and situations to give us a glimpse as to who He is and what He’s about.  How humbling and truly awesome it is to know the Creator of the universe cherishes His time with us, regardless of our age and the season we’re in.  That He would look at us and desire to soak up our presence is a concept I can barely wrap my mind around.  I John 3:1 says, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!”  And as children of God we have unrestricted access to this cherished time with Him. 

Thursday, January 31, 2013


January 6th marked a year that I've lived in Australia and it's been an INCREDIBLE year.  There have been so many different times over my duration here that I've sat in awe at what the Lord has done for me and for my family.  Anyway, I'm not sure when it first hit me, but somewhere along the line I saw a parallel between my time here in Australia and our time here on Earth. This comparison will be grossly generalized and obviously will not apply to everyone, but hopefully it will be something to think about.

When I moved over a year ago I knew that it was temporary; there has never been a time when I thought we might live here permanently.  Because of that knowledge we have made it a point to do and see things while living on this side of the world because we know we won't have this opportunity again.  Several times we've had conversations with people here and they've said, "You've seen more of Australia than we have and we've lived here our whole lives."  I can think of three different trips off the top of my head that we took only because we knew we were leaving sooner rather than later.  It was a 'now or never' mentality so we did it.  On one of those trips we ended up meeting another American family living here temporarily.  They had been here for four years at that point and were saying how they haven't really done anything while they've lived over here and that they probably wouldn't start until they knew they were moving back.  At that point they would probably cram in whatever they could.  I couldn't wrap my brain around that mentality.  There were all of these things they wanted to do and all of these places they wanted to see, but they weren't doing anything about it.  They had the time and resources but seemed to be okay with cramming in whatever could be crammed once the time came.  It was this conversation that got my wheels turning.

Isn't that mentality so like life?  We get caught up in the day-to-day.  We have a bucket list with all of these phenomenal desires but we don't really do anything about making those desires a reality until we have to, until we know we're almost out of time to do so. 

I don't think our lives are intended to be lived that way.  I think our world is so vast and so beautiful that God wants us to experience it.  I think He created such majesty among us for our enjoyment.  I believe He's given us these gifts to whet our appetites for what's to come because even the most magnificent image we can capture in this life will pale in comparison to what's waiting for us when our time on this earth is up.  And how exciting is that???  The places and things of this world aren't meant to be crammed in at the last minute; they are meant to be savored and enjoyed and truly experienced to get us ready.

Much to our families' dismay, we don't know how much longer we'll be here.  We have already exceeded the original time frame of only being here until September 2012, however I'm fairly confident we'll be back in the US at some point during 2013 - although I really have no idea.  That being said, apart from being so far away from friends and family, we're in a really good spot.  We love being here.  We love where we live.  We love the life we live here.  But we're ready to go home.  Overall, we've lived life to the fullest and we'll continue to do so, but this is not our home and our hearts are being pulled to where we can begin our next chapter.  We are longing for permanence, to establish our family and put down roots.  As we know our time here is drawing to a close, I love that we can look back on our experience here with full hearts.  I love that we're excited to still be here every day, but know we'll be even more excited when it's time to leave to begin the next phase for our family.  And I love that we'll leave with no regrets. 

I'm reminded of the "not of this world" Christian t-shirts.  It's true; as Christians we are not of this world.  However, how do we get excited about the world that awaits us for eternity?  I think the simplest answer is to truly experience the world that was given to us during this interim.  How great would it be to know our time has come and be able to look back with excitement at all we have done and seen knowing that as awesome as the journey has been, the best is yet to come.  The end isn't a time to look back with regret at what you weren't able to accomplish; it's a time to play your life's highlight reel and celebrate knowing that those experiences are just the beginning because our minds can't fathom what's waiting for us.  This world is not our home; it's our temporary dwelling.

I hope that I have many, many more years to come and that I can see my grandchildren as adults.  I hope I can live life to its fullest and be excited to greet each and every day.  I hope I can continue to experience all that God wants me to experience.  And I hope that when my time draws near I can look back on the life that I've lived with a full heart and no regrets.  I want to look at those I love and say, "I love you.  I'll miss you.  I'll see you again soon.  But for now, I'm ready to go Home."   I can't imagine being in a better spot than that. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012


I saw this picture that Mariana put on Facebook the other day:

It was captioned: 
One of the many rainbows we see every day in our home...
they bring such joy!  They are in every room of our
house...we have even seen them in the garage at night... 

We get them too.  It's crazy; they are all over our house at any given time.  The other day Brooks was taking a nap and when he woke up he started laughing and yelled, "Mama!!! Come here!!! Look what was next to me while I was sleeping!!!"

 Not only was it right next to his head...

It was directly above where he was sleeping as well.  :)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

happy mother's day...

Happy Mother's Day to all of the wonderful moms out there and a very special wish of a fantastic day to my mom, Jan, and my mother-in-laws, Marilyn and JaNell.  We are so fortunate to have you in our lives and we love you all very much.

Today was the first time I celebrated a Mother's Day in the traditional "family" sort of way and I received the best present I could have asked for.  Brooks was taking a nap and Patrick and I were sitting around talking.  At one point Patrick looked at Brooks and then told me to look at whatever he was looking at.  He had this grin, Patrick did, and he sort of exhaled like he was reflecting upon something then he just simply said, "I feel like his dad."

I could feel some tears forming because I've witnessed this bond develop and it's a beautiful thing.  We've talked about it a few times and I've wondered when Patrick would fully feel like Brooks is his son.  The love has always been there between them, but viewing a child who is not biologically yours as your own takes time.  Watching as their relationship grows makes my heart swell.  I am one blessed girl.  Happy Mother's Day.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mariana's last blog really struck a chord with me as I am sensitive to the same blows that she experienced.  Life experiences often dictate how we handle certain issues and conversations.  They create our reactions and enable us to empathize with others experiencing what we have gone through.  What are you sensitive to?  For me, it's this:

My husband in a hospital bed.  

Is this anything remotely close to what I have experienced in the past?  No.  Not at all.  But did the picture take the breath out of my chest and make me feel like vomiting when I saw it?  Yes, it did.

Here's the back story:  Patrick went out for a late afternoon surf.  Simultaneously, Brooks and I were at home having a dance party.  In the middle of a dance our phone rings and I assume it's Patrick calling to beep him up if he's forgotten his key.  It's not.  It's someone who saw Patrick down the street and the conversation goes like this:  Him - Is this Judy?  Yeah, hi, I just wanted to let you know that your husband was out surfing and he's had an accident.  He's at the surf club and his foot is cut up but they're taking care of him and he's fine.  I just thought you'd want to know where he is."

My brain shut off when I heard "your husband had an accident..."  Poor Brooks is jumping and dancing around when I shut off the music so I could process the information I had just received.  I focused on the "he's fine" part and we prayed.  We prayed a couple of times and waited for Patrick to come home.  About thirty minutes later our phone rang again.  This time it was the Surf and Rescue guy who told me he was calling because my partner was cut up pretty badly.  He would need stitches and needed to get to the hospital.  Again, all I can think about is vomiting.

Long story short, Patrick had nine stitches in his toes and he's fine.  In fact, he cut the stitches out himself rather than going back to the hospital.  However, the moral of the story is this:  You never know what you might say or do that triggers something in someone else.

Getting those calls triggered something in me.  Seeing that picture triggered something in me.  Watching the concern build in Brooks triggered something in me. 

Throughout the sixteen months of Keith's struggle I tried not to wonder about the dreaded "what ifs?" but I wasn't always successful.  When I was pregnant I grieved and yearned for Brooks to know his father.  In the quiet times when I was alone with Keith I questioned the timing and wondered if it would be better if the accident would have happened a few years down the road.  Maybe if Brooks was four or five and had solid memories of Keith, would it have been better for all of us? 

Brooks saw me when I got the call about Patrick.  He saw me after the call while we waited.  He heard the phone ring a second time and he saw my urgency to get packed up to walk down to the surf club. 

He saw his daddy sitting on the ground with his foot propped up, bandaged on a bench.  He gave him a hug and told him he loved him.  He saw our friend drive up to take Patrick to the ER to get stitched up while we walked back home.  He saw the above picture on Facebook.  He saw that picture and he wouldn't let me remove it from the computer screen.  He stared at it and he touched it.  He asked, "Is Daddy okay?  When will Daddy be home?"  I clicked away from the picture and he cried out.  He said, "Put the picture back; I want to see Daddy." 

He snuggled into me with his arm on the computer and told me that his heart was sad.  He said his heart was sad because Daddy was hurt and couldn't be with us.  His sad heart broke mine.  Fortunately for me I could tell him that Daddy was coming home and that he would see him soon.  Brooks saw him before he went to the hospital so he knew he was okay.  He just wanted to see him on the computer screen to feel like he was with him.  He was already laying down going to sleep when he heard the front door unlock.  His eyes bulged and he ran as fast as he could down the hall to give Patrick a huge hug welcoming him home and ask if his foot was better.

There are various hypothetical situations about how life might have been if Keith's accident happened three years down the road.  I can only imagine how Brooks would have handled it given how he handled Patrick's cut toes.  Looking back I'm thankful God didn't answer my desires of wanting what He didn't give us.  It makes me wonder how many times we pray super specifically for something only to become discouraged when it doesn't come to be as we want it.  We should have the confidence to seek out God's favor in whatever form He deems best without inserting our time frames, locations, etc.  He's the only one who sees the entire picture and we have His assurance that He will work it for our good.

So as an encouragement please know that the prayers we are so desperately seeking out might seem to be unanswered, but in reality might be the best case scenario for our situation at that exact moment.  God is faithful; He will provide.    

Thursday, April 26, 2012

In the ring...

Imagine you are in a boxing ring.  A professional boxer looks at you straight in the face, winds up and you see the glove coming straight for the middle of your face.  You think to way I can dodge this...its going to happen. BOOM! You take a blow. But it doesn’t knock you just takes your breath away for a second and you are back ready for more.
That is a glimpse to the life of someone who has lost a spouse or a parent.
You can feel you are in the ring at any point in time, any place, in any circumstance.  And this boxer can creep in to give you a punch when you least expect it and for sure during the best moments in your life.  It is inevitable.  
Today I ate dinner with the boxer right behind my chair.  It was not only a blow straight in the face, but left and right at my sides too.  And it attacks the best of my teammates - my daughters.  
The boxer struck me the first time when a friendly couple sitting next to us (that turned out to be parents of a student in Anna’s class) asked where Isabella got her blue eyes.  People see her eyes and we here a reminder of Papa and how he is not with us.  My sweet Bella will have to deal with that her whole life (just like I had to deal with “you must look like your dad”).  So I told them what happened because I could tell they saw a potential “couple friends” - and well, I am no longer a couple (blow #2). 
Then we kept on eating dinner the 3 of us, and the waiter came and spoke with us a little and in a very nice but prying way asked why he didn’t see The Mr. with us when we went to the club to eat. Blow #3. So I told him what happened and within 30 minutes I got two of the same reaction...a look of pity, shock awkwardness and sadness.
All meanwhile enjoying a salad and burgers and making sure that Isabella didn’t ruin her pretty dress with ketchup and Anna didn’t fall out of the chair.
Of course, Isabella said in a loud voice...”I miss Papa” and Anna agreed.  And I agreed.
Then, the father of the little girl in Anna’s class took her outside to play because she wanted “daddy time” and the girls heard.  Of course they wanted to join.  Since I had just shared what happened with the mother she stood up and said “Oh I will take them!”
It was nice because she could see what was happening.  But I just felt like the girls were entering their own ring and with out me know.  Something I have to get used too.  They went outside for a little while while I wrapped up dinner and then I met them outside.  They were running and playing. I felt relieved. Like a break in the match and I was getting vaseline (or whatever they put on their face to heal the open gashes) on my face and water.  I knew what would come next...I noticed when I met the couple that they are good parents.  And that the father is a father of 3 little girls and he is in love with them- he is a good dad.  So in the next 15 minutes we were there, I faced Mike Tyson with my arms tied and a smile on my face to let the girls know this is all ok and we are ok. 
The father danced with one of his girls, then carried his 3 month old and sang an entire song to her while holding her tight, and then spoke of teaching the other one golf this summer.  
They looked at him like the most priceless gift ever...and untouchable for them at this point.  I could see Isabella remembered Mark and I could see Anna seeing what a father  is like and wanting one.
Then he said as he grabbed all of them, it was time to go home because his famous NFL draft was tonight...that almost knocked me out.
That used to be our life.  Now 2 years we are with so many blessings around us and making a life of our own. He is what is missing.  We can not escape the pain and it will be with us forever because no matter what you can not replace a human being and the love you have for a spouse or father/mother.
We pray that God hears our prayers for a wonderful man to enter into our family - as Isabella says - a daddy here on earth to love and play with.  I know God has His plan and every time I feel the punch, it somehow fills me with more Faith.  I get beat up in the best of times that I have, but I will not get knocked down.  
Imagine what Jesus felt like during The Passion...
Please read this article so you can be aware of how you can help someone in our situation and when you find out about a loss.  Yes, it is shocking to hear, but try to get over the shock and remember this article.  Please pass it on it can be applied to any age.  Thank you!,0,2535133.story

Don't be shocked when you meet a grieving child

Awkward silence needn't occur upon learning of death of a parent

April 24, 2012

There I'd be, a teenager more or less minding her own business at a school event or a social gathering, when a well-meaning adult would start quizzing me about where I was born, how many brothers and sisters I had, and what my father did.
"My dad was a doctor," I'd say. "He died."
"Oh, I'm so sorry. That's horrible," the adult would say, and then proceed to stare at me as the conversation ground to a halt.
I'd be thinking: "I'm 15. You're the adult here, you brought this up, and now I'm supposed to say something to make you feel better?"
The answer, of course, was yes, and I got pretty good at it, but I never stopped hating the way that conversation made me feel. When I finally found a close friend who had been through the same thing, we bonded instantly over the weirdness of an adult being shocked, just shocked, that some people actually die before old age. (It's awful, yes, but it happens quite a bit, and making bereaved kids feel like freaks of nature doesn't do anyone a whole lot of good.)
My friend and I joked that we should just burst into tears the next time someone pulled the awkward silence stunt. Or maybe we could circulate together at a social event. When someone was beating themselves up for reminding one of us that he or she had lost a parent, the other one could pipe up with, "My father's dead too!" (Cue the uncontrollable sobs, in stereo.)
OK, we were 19 and stupid, but our basic logic, I think, was sound. "You want awkward? We'll give you awkward!"
A lot has changed for the better since the 1970s and '80s, when I was dealing with these issues, including the rise of bereavement centers and age-appropriate support groups, a great step forward for grieving kids. But a new New York Life Foundation/National Alliance for Grieving Children survey of kids at bereavement programs across the U.S., billed as the first study of its kind, suggests that young people are still struggling with less-than-helpful reactions.
Among the study's findings: While kids identified strongly with key statements such as "The death of my loved one is the worst thing that ever happened to me" and "You never stop missing your loved one," when they were asked to choose just one statement that applied to them the most, the largest group of kids (32 percent), chose "People don't have to give me special treatment; I just want to be treated like everyone else."
That's the way I felt, and while the survey doesn't address the awkward silence issue directly, experts say it persists.
"I think it's the norm," said Joe Primo, associate executive director of Good Grief, a children's bereavement center in Morristown, N.J.
"As a society, we really struggle with talking about death. For most Americans, it's hard enough to have that conversation with an adult, and all of a sudden, you throw a kid into the mix, and I don't think adults have a clue where to begin."
Jill Hamilton, 49, of Palm Springs, Calif., noticed the awkward silence problem after her husband, Kelly, died last year. She's raising their children, Lauren, 11, and Brad, 14.
"It would be nice for the person to say, 'What kind of person was he?' or ask something about him, not just (lapse into) dead silence," Jill Hamilton says.
"Awkward silence!" Lauren interjects.
Experts have plenty of advice for what friends and family can do to help a bereaved child (listen, ask what he or she needs, don't tell the child to stop crying), but when it comes to the specific question of the awkward silence, they say there are no easy answers.
Each grieving person is different, says Andy McNiel, executive director of the National Alliance for Grieving Children, and some people complain about silences while others complain about intrusive questions.
"It's almost damned if you do, damned if you don't," McNiel says. "What do you say? I've been working with families for 20 years now and I still will go to funerals and sound like a bumbling idiot. The truth is, there's not always a really good thing to say."
Still, I do think it would help if people educated themselves a little about the topic, starting with the basics: You have every right to be unnerved when you learn a child has lost a parent, but you don't have the right to be shocked. According to a 2009 survey by New York Life with Comfort Zone Camp, 1 in 9 Americans have lost a parent before age 20; 1 in 7 have lost a parent or sibling.
If you can simply go into an introductory conversation with a child knowing that the death of a parent is a real possibility, you can probably spare yourself and others significant discomfort. You can avoid the question of parental occupation entirely, or if you choose to broach it and find out the parent in question is deceased, try a suggestion from Lauren's mother, Jill: Ask a question along the lines of, "What was (the deceased parent) like?"
"As a kid, you're proud of your parent and you love your parent and that gives you a way to talk about them that isn't tied to their death," Jill Hamilton says.
Lauren brightens immediately when she's asked what her dad was like: "He was a jolly man, like Santa Claus. He had a big tummy and a big beard, and he looked like Santa Claus." He even dressed up as Santa Claus one year, she says, and gave out presents to the kids at their church.
I was a cynical teen when I was mourning my dad, and Lauren is a gung-ho fifth-grader. But listening to her, I'm reminded that I, too, could prattle on merrily about my father at times, even with an adult I didn't know well.
I didn't have much to say about death or loss or a specific illness, and awkward silences were pretty much guaranteed when strangers veered off in that direction. But my dad? My funny, thoughtful, crazy-smart dad was my hero, and I could have talked about him all day long.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

a little pity party...

I'm new at this stay-at-home mom thing...and it's tough.  I knew it would be tough going into it, but I keep it the time change that's killing me?  Is it because he's a horrible sleeper?  Is it his new surroundings?  Is it because it's just the two of us for the majority of every day?  Is it because he's so clingy and needy that I can't get anything done?  Is he clingy and needy because we aren't surrounded by as many people as we used to be?  Is it because I had the bright idea to start potty training in the midst of all this newness?  Is it because we had a few rainy days and we were stuck inside instead of being able to go outside?  I don't know...but I do know that lately I've felt that all I do all day is wash the dishes, unload the dishwasher, clean the counters, sweep up crumbs and fold the laundry.  That and run back to the potty each time Brooks thinks he needs to go. 

Yesterday I found myself wondering how I can I live a life of purpose when it seems like I've taken on more of a role of "housekeeper" and "Brooks' playmate" rather than anything else.  He whined and cried and followed me around saying he needed me to carry him.  He said his tummy hurt and his bottom hurt and his leg hurt and his foot hurt.  He wanted to take a nap, but when we got in his bed he wanted to play with his toys.  When we went to his toys he needed to go potty.  When he sat on the potty he realized he didn't need to go afterall.  "Get me juice; I want you; I need a snack..."  This went on all day.  He was dirty from the park and wanted to take a shower...until about three-fourths of the way through it.  Then he decided he didn't like showers and LOST IT screaming about how terrible they are.  As my fuse continued to shorten and I thought I might lose it, I had my moment of clarity.  I realized the answer to my question.  My purpose during this season of my life is to teach him about Jesus through my reactions.  When he deserves it the least is when I must open up my heart the most.  It's not enough to emphasize "please" and "thank you" while teaching him to say, "May I please have a snack" instead of telling me to get him one.  I have to look at him the way the Lord looks at us.  This thought process has been enlightening and humbling and it's made me realize that this is the hardest job I will ever have. 

Lamentations 3:22-23

22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
   for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
   great is your faithfulness.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

more pictures than you'll know what to do with...

a few photos from the last month...

Christmas in Lubbock... 

one of our many "Christmas" mornings...

rehearsal dinner with part of my family...

and the Beasleys...

and my friends...

and my little monkey...

Patrick and his friends...

and my dad...

and his dad and sister...

and my mom, sister and niece...

with one more of my friends...

Captiva Island near Sanibel...

for our getaway...

such a great New Year's Eve...

our last night before being full-time parents...

at the airport before our sixteen-hour flight...

waiting for our bags with his new daddy...

 "who came to our house while we were gone?"...

"are you SERIOUS???  again???"...

more presents from SANTA!!!

another Skype session telling people back home all about it...

and showing them our new view...

 playing bubbles with Daddy as the sun came up...

"I GOT IT!!!"...

 playing at the park right across the street...

don't worry - he brought his bubbles...

first official trip to the beach...

thank you, LORD!!!

we love it here.  :)

And in case this wasn't enough, here is a link for our wedding photos since I don't have any yet.