Now for the BIG news!!

The Mayo's are having a.......................

BOY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yep. It was confirmed today. And it is definitely a boy. And all looks good and healthy. I will not lie, a part of me was hoping for a girl. But, I am so glad that Carter will have a little brother to play with and grow up with. And there is no denying that little boys LOVE their mommas. We are thankful that all looks good and healthy.

Here are some pics!

Vegas, baby and turning 40

Well, I have heard you only turn 40 once so I figured I would do it big. So, I went to Vegas with two girlfriends and had a great time. I wasn't really planning on being 17 weeks pregnant when I went, but with two miscarriages in the past year, it just kind of happened that way.

We had a great time. We saw Bette Midler, one of the Cirque Du Soliel shows and we walked, and walked and walked and walked. And could have walked more. Five days was just not enough time to see everything. But the hotels are amazing, they are all set up on a theme, and you could spend days in some of them beofre you see everything.

Paris Las Vegas was my FAVORITE. I really cannot wait for Greg and I to head to Europe some day. I know one day it will happen and I can't wait. Anyway, the Paris in Las Vegas have replicas of many of the famous sites in the real Paris.

New York, New York was probably my second favorite. The funny thing is, I knew these would be my favorites before I even went to Vegas.

We ate a lot of good food (and french pastry). Laughed a lot, and well, just had an overall great time.

The highlight of the trip though had to be the day of my actual birthday. We had decided to spend the morning relaxing (much needed since this was our fourth day in Vegas). My friend, Nellie comes out of the bedroom with a wrapped gift and card. I started to scold her cause I thought she and Tracy had gotten me a gift when I had told them specifically not to.

Nellie informed me that it was not from them. I was confused (it was in the morning). So when she handed me the card and gift I saw the writing on the card and knew it was from Greg. I started to cry because I did not expect this at all. I had told Greg, also, not to get me anything. Vegas was enough.

So, I am crying, blaming it on the hormones, and I open the gift and it is a beautiful necklace in the shape of a heart with a mother and child at the top. The bottom part of the heart has emeralds and diamonds in it. It was very simple, yet gorgeous. It was so sweet. We took pictures of the moment and sent them to Greg via cell phone but since I did have morning hair and no make-up, I will not be posting the pictures.

So, all in all it was a great birthday.

My friend's Nellie and Tracy also had a little surprise for me on the Friday before the trip. We were all set to go get mani's and pedi's for the trip and my friend Marsha, who lives in Georgia, surprised me by joining us, along with my friend Heather. We had a blast and I was soooooo surprised.

Then, after Vegas, I had scheduled a birthday party at La Paz Mexican restaurant. It was a small, laid back event, but it was nice to close out the week with a party and cake, of course.

So all in all, I have no complaints about turning 40. I am pregnant, I have a great family and a wonderful husband and little boy. I am extremely blessed.

Well. its a......................................

BIG TEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!! I haven't had my big Ultrasound yet so we don't know what the little babe is yet! HA HA HA HA.

Sorry, I just had to do it.

A dear gal came up to me last night and told me I needed to update my blog. First, she came up and asked if we were having a girl. Someone apparently had told her the Mayo's were having a girl. We were quite confused and she couldn't remember who had told her that information.

I told her I hoped she was prophesying cause I would love to have a girl. But, I would love to have a boy, too. I kind of go both ways. I really just want a healthy baby.

I did have my monthly doctor's appointment today. Everything is going well. Heard a nice strong heartbeat and we have scheduled the big Ultrasound for Tuesday, December 2nd! You will definitely be getting an update that day with pictures!!! I leave Thursday, December 4th for Minnesota with my mom and sister to go to the Mall of America. I am sure there will be some big purchases going on that weekend for baby.

The doctor did move my due date up. I think she moved it up too much but I am okay with it. I am now due in April on April 22nd. I was originally due May 1st.

Other than that all things are well. I leave in three days to celebrate the big 4-0 in Las Vegas with some friends.

I would update you on that trip but then I would have to kill you cause what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. LOL!

Guess It's time to update....

We have big news to share. Of course, I think everyone knows it already but in case you don't...

Baby at 10 weeks (sorry it's a little blurry)

Greg and I are EXPECTING!!!!!!!!!!!! Baby is due May 1, 2009 and I am officially out of the first trimester.

We are very excited. I was very guarded the first trimester so it still doesn't seem real to me. Even though I have had three Ultrasounds and have heard the heartbeat on the doppler. I am still cautious and a little anxious but I really don't know when that will subside. I was the same was with Carter. I am sure as I grow and feel the baby moving around it will feel more real, like it is really going to happen this time.

People keep asking me if I am excited, and other very common questions. I am excited to a certain extent but still feel very cautious. When people talk openly about the baby I get a little nervous like we are going to jinx it. Like all the "what ifs" keep coming to mind. I am definitely guarded. I guess it is to be expected. I just don't want the other shoe to drop.

But there are many happy days ahead. I am not sick anymore although I still get tired very easily. And I am sure in a few weeks I will "pop" and all of this will seem more real. Until then, I will just keep listening to that heartbeat and keep repeating to myself. "this is real". this is real"!

Here is Carter in his "I'm Going to be a BIG BROTHER" shirt.

It's been a rough week!

Carter fell last week while Greg was holding him and fell onto some hardwood flooring at my inlaws. Carter decided to use Greg's chest as leverage with his feet to wiggle out of Greg's arms. It was a horrible thing to see. It happened so fast and there he was.

I really don't want to go over the whole ordeal again. We have had to tell so many people (most of them doctors) what happened.

We thought Carter just had a broken collar bone until Saturday morning when we felt this soft spot on his head. We rushed him to the pediatrician, all the while, Carter was clueless that anything was wrong. The Ped said we could wait until Monday to go to Outpatient Xray at Vandy Children's Hospital. He said he could possibly have a skull fracture.

I really didn't worry about it too much over the weekend. It has been 4 days since his accident and he was acting completely normal for a busy, active two year old. So, I was very, very surprised when the xray turned into a CT scan and then we were told that Carter had a epidural hemorrhage in his brain, albeit small (that really doesn't make much difference to a mom to hear, that there is blood in your child's brain, but it is "small").

We were then escorted the the ER to be seen by a Neurosurgeon. He would review the CT scan and then tell us the plan. It was horrible, horrible. I was calling everybody. The tears were flowing, the "what ifs" were gaining grown in my brain. Then, I just became kind of numb. I think I had about as much as I could stand.

The long story short though, is that Carter is fine. I don't want to rehash all the details, again. But the Neurosurgeon said that what the CT scan showed was that the bleed was consistent with the fall. It was not new blood. We have to go back in 4 weeks for another xray to make sure his cracked skull is healing. My baby has a cracked skull. sniff sniff

It is interesting going into an ER (we have been in 2 different ones the past week) with a child that has an injury, or a trauma caused by a fall. They have to do their job and part of their job is to look for inconsistencies in the parent's stories. You know why? Because some parents beat there kids.

So, as a parent in an ER, we are all on level playing ground. Those doctors don't know me or my husband or how this patient really got hurt...until all the evidence is in.

We got the third degree at Vandy. Just because we were coming in 5 days after an accident with what could have been a new bleed or a new injury. Seemed a little suspicious I guess until they got all their information. But, I knew we were "under suspicion" when they ordered a full body xray of Carter. Yep, every single part of his body had to be xrayed.

Now, I have been a social worker in an ER so when the attending left and then someone from xray came in and then when I asked what was being xrayed and they told me, a head to toe xray, I knew. They were gathering information to make sure our baby didn't have other injuries, or old injuries. Old injuries that have not been treated will invariably prove signs of abuse.

So, I had a little too much information in my noggin to know what they were doing. Greg even knew after the attending left because he said, "that guy was asking a lot of weird questions". And he was.

But, you know, what I told Greg was they are doing their job, and thank goodness they do. Cause there are parents out there that abuse their kids. And they look just like us. They are rich, poor, prominent or from the projects. Abuse knows no socio-economic status. It does put a person on edge, especially coming from the background in social work and working in an ER in the past. Until we were "cleared", it just added one more piece of stress to the puzzle. But, I knew, as I told others on the phone, we haven't done anything wrong and that will show itself. And it did.

So, they were doing their job. Gathering data. And thankfully, like we knew it would, the evidence showed that Carter's head injury was consistent with the fall.

In fast, that is the exact words the resident used when he discharged us. "The head injury is consistent with the fall."

I don't know why I felt the need to write about this aspect of this whole ordeal except to get it off my chest. I am sure everyone that goes into the ER is innocent until proven otherwise, when it comes to kid's injuries. And I never felt blamed or was accused of anything. But I knew what they were looking for and it still bugged me. Even though it is part of their job. And thank goodness they do it.

So now, Carter just wears his sling in public, mostly at school, to remind him and his playmates that he has a "boo boo". He is on ibuprofen 2-3 times a day and he is going around like there is nothing wrong. His soft spot is getting smaller every day and his bruises on his chest are almost gone. It's amazing how little ones recover.

Now, if I could just recover from the whole ordeal, life would be good. And it will. I just need a few quiet days. Nearly impossible with a busy 2 year old!!

Our exciting adventure to East Tennessee....

That sounds like an oxymoron cause East Tennessee is not that exciting, especially when you have lived there most of your life, which I did before I moved to Nashville in 1998. The exciting part was getting out of Nashville. We almost turned around and came home, but we stuck through and ended up in Knoxville around 7:30 EST, we left home (the first time) at 1:15 CST! Yep.

First off, that morning I talked to my friend Lisa, who we would be staying with that night before we headed off to our cabin. Well, she said on the news that Nashville was supposedly running out of gas. I told her that a couple of stations had been out most of the week but other stations had plenty and we shouldn't have a problem. Little did I know that there actually was a shortage. We had no idea until we kept attempting to buy gas...and there was none, or there were really, really long lines.

But let me back up. The first time we left home was around 1:15. We got on Briley Pkwy and I realized that I left all the paperwork at home that we would need to check in. We had won this trip and it had some requirements so I thought, just to be safe, we better go back and get it in case it was required.

So we did. This was the second time we passed a gas station by our house that had a small line for buying gas. We passed it again going out after we had picked up our paperwork. We over-confidently felt that it was ridiculous that all these people were in line to buy gas. Surely, further out in the city it would not be this way. So, we opted not to stop and buy gas there to fill out tank up for the trip. BIG MISTAKE. But hindsight is 20/20.

So, we decided to try Lebanon Rd....same problem. Then Donelson Pike....same problem and still those pesky lines. Again, being confident that there was gas somewhere without a line we
tredged on.

We got to Mt. Juliet and our "low gas" light was still on. We decided that the Lebanon exit, past Mt. Juliet for those of you that don't live here, would be he best place to buy gas. We passed the Mt. Juliet exit only to be stopped by traffic. I mean a dead stop. It was not moving and some people were backing back up on the exit ramp to get back on Mt. Juliet Rd. We decided we should do that too and go Hwy 70 over to 109 and bypass whatever was going on. It was a good decision too, and I will tell you why a little later.

So, we passed a Kroger (with a long line) but at this point we had no choice but to stop cause we had no gas in our car. Remember, we are traveling with a 2 year old, stuck in a car seat. We had already been in the car about an hour and a half. But he really did great overall. After an hour of sitting in line, I got out of the car to use the restroom and to go buy some snacks. When I came back, there were still two cars ahead of ours so I took Carter out of the car to walk around a bit. About 20 minutes later Greg pulls up at the Kroger store filled up with gas.

Whew, what a relief. We just thought this was crazy.

So, we get on Hwy 70. It is now 3:45. Yep. Over 2 hours into our trip and we have barely left the Davidson County line. I called my friend Lisa and told her what was going on. She was shocked (so were we). We told her we would call her once we got back on the interstate and at that point, we didn't know when that would be exactly.

So then we moved on to the next obstacle, which was figuring out what was going on on the interstate. Greg called the traffic info line a couple of times and finally got information that there had been a wreck on mile marker something or other. We had no clue where that was but we got on Hwy 109 and was praying we had passed the wreck.

And we did. Just barely, and it was a good thing because traffic was completely stopped on I-40 E out of Nashville. They had closed the interstate. We would have been stuck in traffic for hours and if we had waited to buy gas in Lebanon, we would have run out of gas on the interstate. Luckily, we have AAA, but heck, how would they have gotten to us????

The rest of our trip was uneventful (thank goodness!) and it ended up taking us 5 hours to get to Knoxville, which should have just taken just less than three. Whew!!!

I will post pictures later. Oh, and we filled up on gas in Lebanon on the way home cause we knew the "gas shortage" was still going on.

Crazy that Nashville is the ONLY city that this is happening too????????? So now we are hoping people stop topping off their tanks every time they see a gas station open with gas. If everyone would just chill out this mini "crisis" will be over.
Toddler Property Laws
If I like it, it's mine!
If it's in my hand, it's mine!
If I had it a little while ago, it's mine!
If it's mine, it must never appear to be yours in any way!
If I am doing or building something, all the pieces are mine!
If it looks just like mine, it's mine!
If I think it is mine, it's mine!
So, this is what is going on at our house ALL THE TIME!!! I think we hear the word, "MINE!" 50 times A DAY. That is no exaggeration. If Carter picks it up, it is his. Even if it's my cell phone or wallet, etc. It really doesn't matter what it is, if Carter has it, it's his.
If we need to take a toy away from Carter, he refuses because "it's mine!".
So, we are in major discipline mode. I have to say it is quite embarrasing when he flails on the floor in public when he refuses to do something. But, I figure there is not a mom and dad who has not had to go through this. We will just be glad when this stage is OVER and we can have our sweet baby boy back. We see glimpses of him. Yesterday after his nap he was a dreamboat.
But to tell you how much we put Carter in a "break" (or time out) whatever you want to call it, Carter came up to Greg last night and pointed to his goofy figurine which he had stood up on an exercise ball that I have. Carter informed Greg that Goofy was in time-out....because he had made a mess, he explained.
Yeah, we had a pretty good laugh about that one!

Carter's big boy bed...

Here are some pictures of Carter with his new bed. It is actually his crib that is converted into a toddler bed. The first three are of the bed and him getting used to it. The fourth picture is of him actually asleep in his bed for the first time.

Sniff. Sniff! He's not so little anymore!!

The Bible No Go Me!

Right now I am listen to Carter in his room singing to himself. It is simply adorable and I have to get it on video.

He is singing Jesus Loves Me. When he gets to the part that says, "the Bible tells me so". He says, "the Bible no go me".

Carter is a late talker and he is doing great now in the talking department but sometimes he substitutes words or phrases for ones that he knows and can pronounce rather than the ones that he can't. Like "tells me so". He obviously has a block there and now he says, "no go me" EVERY TIME. He also does it in a part of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star...'no go me' comes up again.

It is even more adorable when he is trying to carry on a conversation with you (which I am working hard at every day teaching him how to talk and share things with me). He will start his sentence out with the right words, the middle gets lost somewhere, then he gets back on track at the end and he always ends the sentence with a "mommy" or "daddy" at the end.

The even funnier thing is that most of the time we know exactly what he is trying to tell us. I generally interpret to the rest of the world when they ask him a question.

Another funny thing is that Carter will not say his name. People come up to him all the time and ask him what his name is and he acts like he has no clue. Whenever he sees a little boy, including himself in a picture he calls him "Jacob", cause Jacob is his best bud. When I ask Carter what his name is he says, " Jacob". It has gotten to the point where he thinks it is funny. He knows he isn't Jacob but he see's how it gets to me so he just laughs and says, Jacob!

Here is how the conversation went the other night.

Me: Carter, what is your name?
Carter: Jacob (it actually sounds like Teecob)
Me: No, Carter, what is your name?
Carter: Jacob
(we both start laughing, I admit, I am encouraging him)
Me: No, Carter, who are you? What is your name? Your name? (as I point to his chest)
Carter: Jacob
Me: (sigh) Ok, Carter, can you say 'Car'
Carter: Cawrs
Me: Good!!!! No can you say Ter
Carter: Tewr
Me: Great!!! Now say, Car Ter
Carter: (pause) Jacob! (with eruption of laughter!!)

I admit I start laughing too. This kid is too smart for his own good!

Beautiful poem I found...

I found this poem online. Supposedly, it was written by a husband whose wife was suffering from infertility. I think this can apply to many aspects of the Christians life so I wanted to share it.
WAIT Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried.
Quietly, patiently, lovingly, He replied.
I pleaded, and I wept for a clue to my fate,
And the Master so gently said, "Child you must wait."
"Wait? You say wait"? my indignant reply,
"Lord, I need some answers, I need to know why.
Is your hand shortened? Or have you not heard?
By faith I have asked, and I'm claiming your word.
My future, and all to which I can relate,
Hangs in the balance, and you tell me to wait?
I'm needing a 'yes', a go ahead sign,
Or even a 'no', to which I can resign.
And Lord, you have promised that if we believe,
We need but to ask, and we shall receive.
And Lord, I have been asking, and this is my cry,
I'm weary of asking, I need a reply!
Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate
As my Master replied again, "You must wait."
So I slumped in my chair; defeated and taut
And grumbled to God; "So I'm waiting, for what?"
He seemed then to kneel and His eyes met with mine
And he tenderly said, "I could give you a sign.
I could shake the heavens, darken the sun,
Raise the dead, cause the mountains to run.
"All you see I could give, and pleased you would be.
You would have what you want, but you wouldn't know me.
You'd not know the depth of my love for each saint:
You'd not know the power that I give to the faint.
"You'd not learn to see through clouds of despair;
You'd not learn to trust, just by knowing I'm there.
You'd not know the joy of resting in me,
When darkness and silence was all you could see.
"You would never experience that fullness of love,
As the peace of my spirit descends like a dove.
You would know that I give, and I save, for a start,
But you'd not know the depth of the beat of my heart.
"The glow of my comfort late in the night;
The faith that I give when you walk without sight;
The depth that's beyond getting just what you ask
From an infinite God who makes what you have last.
"And you never would know, should your pain quickly flee,
What it means that 'My grace is sufficient for thee.'
Yes, your dreams for that loved one overnight could come true,
But the loss! if you lost what I'm doing in you.
"So be silent, my child, and in time you will see
That the greatest of gifts is to get to know Me.
And though often may answers seem terribly late
My most precious answer of still......wait."

My big boy is growing up.

Yes, and I am tearing up about it.

Greg and I are starting to transition Carter to a big boy bed. He can climb out of his crib now, so that kind of constitutes change. We also have lots of potty training books and DVD's. Carter talks about the potty incessantly. He takes his diaper off when he has too much pee in it...and sometimes he takes it off when he poo's. Yeah, those are great moments of discovering your naked child talking about the potty and poop laying all over the floor...good times. But, that just means he is getting ready to be potty trained. Another milestone. Another change.

Speaking of change, I don't like it.

We are moving Carter to a new mothers-day-out program. We do this very hesitantly but it was necessary as I have a meeting I go to every Wednesday afternoon and I have been paying a sitter to watch Carter so I can go. So, we needed a Mothers-day-out program that meets on Wednesday.

I didn't realize how hard this would be. His old program is at our church and we know all the people there. It is great and very familiar to us. This new place, which is also a church, is new. I don't know anyone there and it is a little scary. It is change.

Another part of change is leaving friends. Carter has a little friend Jacob. He asks for him. He loves playing with him and they always have a good time. It is exhausting watching them play together. What a bundle of energy. It gives you a clue what twin boys would be like. Whew!!!!

So anyway, it breaks my heart that Carter is leaving his first little buddy, who also goes to our old MDO program. I have never felt my heart break over something like that.

Then it got me thinking. All the hurdles that Carter is going to face. The disappointments. The trails. I am going to have to let him go through them. There are some parents who scoop their children up to save them from pain, but you are not really doing a service to them when you do that. How painful is it going to be when Carter feels his first rejection? His first betrayal? What if he struggles in school, or in a particular subject?

Who cares about his first broken bone or which college he gets into? What about unrequited love? Or the cruel remarks of stupid junior high kids, which we all know are the cruelest kids in the world.

I will be there for him through all of that but he is the one who is going to have to learn to persevere, otherwise, he will learn nothing.

But the pain a mom and dad feels when their child is going through some of the things mentioned above must be SO hard and difficult. I am not looking forward to those moments. I am having a hard enough time with him "losing" his little buddy at two and a half!!! Yikes!

But they will be teaching moments. And learning moments. And he will grow. He will learn and turn into this wonderful grown up person because of it. And, I will have had a small (OK, big) part in that. But the Lord will receive ALL the glory because if I am any kind of accomplished parent it is due to the love and the grace of God, who found favor on me and believed in my abilities enough to bless me with this gift. The gift of motherhood. He knows that we can do it, through HIM.

So, for that, it is worth it. It is worth opening your heart up more than you ever imagined, even more than the love of a spouse (it's just different, you know).

The expression is true, a mother really knows what it is like to wear her heart forever on her sleeve. So true.

My poor husband...

Saturday is usually the day that I try to "make" breakfast, which usually includes bacon. It is highly unusual for Greg to get real, pork bacon. Since his father has heart disease and high cholesterol and Greg's cholesterol is slightly elevated, about the only time he gets real bacon is if we are at Cracker Barrel. My husband LOVES bacon. Especially when it is cooked the right way, very crisp, but not burned.

Anyway, this past Saturday we were all up and about and Greg goes to the fridge and pulls out something and has this look on his face. It is the look of a happy child who has just found extra candy under the couch. Or an adult who finds $5.00 in their pocket when they didn't know it was there.

Most of you know my husband. He hides his excitement well, at least to you. Since I live with him I see the real Greg. He does get excited. He can be goofy. He's funny and just an all around great guy to be around. In my humble opinion.

Well, the look on his face was priceless. He was almost giddy. He was excited beyond any excitement I had seen in a while. He was almost doing a little dance in front of the refrigerator.

Imagine my surprise when I see that all that excitement is for bacon. Greg pulled out real bacon. I didn't realize it until I looked at his face and then to the package. I thought it was the new turkey bacon pack I had just bought. Not so....

Unfortunately, Greg's glee was short lived. The real bacon was old. Greg's smile deflated quickly. We looked at the date, it said something about September. Greg got excited again. He was tossing it around in his head, I could tell...."is it worth the risk of food poisoning to get "real" bacon?????" It was discolored, kind of a mucky brown and not nice and pink like bacon should be.

I said, "I will make it for you if you want me to, but there is a fresh pack of turkey bacon in the fridge."

Greg thinks a minute. It is cured meat....maybe it's not bad.....

Sigh. No he concedes that the real bacon is too old. He will have turkey bacon. He is sad.

He opens the freezer door and is looking all through it.

I say, "What are you looking for?"

Greg: "waffles" (You can tell I am a homemade breakfast maker, huh?)

I pause, "Um, we don't have any waffles, sorry".

Greg: (sigh) "That's okay".

He just didn't get a break Saturday! I guess I have one to make up to him, huh? Maybe some homemade blueberry pancakes with REAL bacon this can't hurt his cholesterol that much, right?

Oswald Chambers never ceases to amaze me

I think I have mentioned on her before that I read Oswald Chambers every morning. Most of the time it gets me started on my bible study. Sometimes, with a busy two year old, that is as far as I get, breathing a prayer as I go.

Well, today, July 16th, was another perfect example of how I can read My Utmost for His Highest every day and still get something deep out of it. And not only deep, but relevant. Relevant to me, what people around me are going through. A word I can share with a friend.

So, here it is. This is ALLLLL Oswald...

" much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!" (Matthew 7:11)
Jesus is laying down the rules of conduct in this passage for those people who have His Spirit. He urges us to keep our minds filled with the concept of God's control over everything, which means that a disciple must maintain an attitude of perfect trust and an eagerness to ask and to seek.
Fill your mind with the though that God is there. And once your mind is truly filled with that thought, when you experience difficulties it will be as easy as breathing for you to remember, "My heavenly Father knows all about this!" This will be no effort at all, but will be a natural thing for you when difficulties and uncertainties arise. Before you formed this concept of divine control so powerfully in your mind, you used to go from person to person seeking help, but now you go to God about it. Jesus is laying down the rules of conduct for those people who have His Spirit, and it works on the following principle: God is my Father, He loves me, and I will never thing of anything that He will forget, so why should I worry?
Jesus said there are times when God cannot lift the darkness from you, but you should trust Him. At times God will appear like an unkind friend, but He is not; He will appear like an unnatural father, but He is not; He will appear like an unjust judge, but He is not. Keep the thought that the mind of God is behind all things strong and growing. Not even the smallest detail of life happens unless God's will is behind it. Therefore, you can rest in perfect confidence in Him. Prayer is not only asking , but it is an attitude of the mind which produces the atmosphere in which asking is perfectly natural. "Ask, and it will be given to you..." (7:7)

She's gone...

Below are a few pictures of my friend Roxanne, whom I am remembering today. Today is the one year anniversary of her death.

A picture of Rox and I with our friend, Jessica, at my wedding in 2003

A picture of Roxanne with my son, Carter in July of 2006

A picture of Rox and I with our friend, Lisa, who lives in East Tennessee

Ah, a picture of Rox with our friend, Mark, in 2006

Finally, a picture of the ole Bible study gang in East Tennessee in July of 06. We had a "reunion" of sorts, and boy, are we glad that we did. Here we are playing charades. We always had bible study and then played charades...good times!!!

I'll never forget those words. She's gone.

It was one year ago today that I sat in my in-laws neighborhood and heard those words. I had been chatting with my sister on the way to get Carter from Greg's parents after volunteering at Vacation Bible school for the second day. My husband Greg kept beeping in while I was on the phone, very unusual for him to do that, but I just kept chatting away. I didn't really give it a second thought. Also, my friend Lisa, in Knoxville, had called too and was beeping in, how strange, I thought. Finally, I told my sister I needed to go because Greg kept beeping in. If only I could have savored that moment a little while longer. It was innocent. There was no shock or grief to come. No tears. I was having a happy little conversation with my sister and all the sudden my world shattered.

I finally called Greg and he told me about the message that Krista, Roxanne's cousin, had left on our machine at home. That Roxanne had passed away. WHAT??????????? I didn't believe it, didn't want to believe it. I just sat on the side of the road in shock. Luckily I had not retrieved Carter yet and he stayed at the inlaws a bit longer.

When I called the number I can't remember who I talked to first, Krista, I think. She gave me details. It was very sudden and unexpected. Then Alice, Rox's mom, got on the phone.

Me: "Alice???????" I wish you could have heard the sound of my voice. In an incredulous tone, I was asking if it was real all by just saying, "Alice?????"

Alice: "She's gone, Susan. She's gone"

I learned that Roxanne had been found in her apartment, sitting up, in bed. I won't go into the details but she had sleep apnea and had not been wearing her machine that helped her keep breathing at night. They feel she just stopped breathing. But, they were doing an autopsy to make sure that it was nothing else. After the autopsy and study of all her meds she had in her room, it was found that she just stopped breathing and died.

Roxanne had been through a lot the past few years. But her life was on an upswing. She had lost some weight. She had finally accepted her disabilities, or was getting there anyway. She had chronic, sometime severe, pain from IBS and Fibromyalgia. She had overcome an addiction to painkillers but, still had to take them sometimes to ease the pain. We were all very proud of her. She had found a new church home and was really excited about her church.

I was able to talk to her about two weeks before he death and she spoke clearly and upbeat. She was so excited about her parent's upcoming wedding anniversary party that she was planning. She sounded like the "old" Rox. The one that sometimes rarely made an appearance. It had been a long time since I had heard from the "old" Rox. I am glad we got to have that conversation before she died and not like some of the others that we have had. Where she was depressed, drugged, and not the Roxanne I knew and loved. No, this Roxanne was THE Roxanne I knew and loved and it was so good to hear her voice.

And everyone close to her had pretty much the same thing to say. Things were on an upswing. What a shock this was. She had never been happier. I found out at the receiving of friends that there were rumors that Roxanne had killed herself and that is why she had a closed casket. This was very far from the truth, however, I think there was a time in her life when we would not have been shocked if she had taken her life. She battled depression, like I said before, and there were some very, very low points the past few years. In fact, when I heard that she had died, the first thing that came to my mind was, "did she kill herself??" Again, the autopsy found nothing that would point to suicide.

Well, I was able to see Roxanne in a private viewing before we laid her to rest. Her parents were not happy about her appearance, THAT is why they did not want an open casket. They wanted everyone to remember the Roxie that they loved. Not the one in the casket. Roxanne simply stopped breathing. She wasn't wearing her machine for her sleep apnea. Period. She did not look like herself in that casket. But, I am so glad that I was able to say goodbye in person.

All day today and the past few days I have been thinking about July 10, 2007. I have been thinking about her funeral and her life. I have had several dreams about Roxanne the past few weeks. It isn't unusual. And today, I am remembering happy times. Roxanne's laugh. Our trips together. The time we were roommates (not a good thing). We go way back. Wow.

I don't guess I will ever get used to the idea that she is gone. I just have to come face to face with it every now and then. Then I go on, like it hasn't really happened, until, abruptly and uninvited, it crosses my mind, reminding me that it is in fact true.

She is gone. And I won't see her again on this side of heaven. But, I do "see" her everyday. In some shape or form. She is here. She is gone, but never forgotten.

Love you, Rox and I miss you a lot!!!!

Okay, some pictures at least...right

Me and Roxie's parents

Roxie's grave

I brought a UT emblem to put on her grave. I am going to order her a flag like the rest that are placed there.

Me and Carter

Carter and Daddy

More to come later of our whole trip.

We are finally home...

Well, we have been home since Wednesday but I am still too pooped to write about all of our experiences.

All I know is that it is very exhausted traveling to another country by car and plane with a two year old and we won't be doing that again anytime soon! WHEW! I think Greg and I need a weekend away to recover from our 8 day vacation!

Everything went well. In the next few days I will share my experiences with Rox's parents and visiting her grave. I will also have to share about my embarrasing moment with the airport security guard on the way home. It is embarrasing because I made an idiot of myself. But I claim exhaustion and grief catching up with me to blame. I flew off the handle. Period. I am thankful for grace because it is truly humbling.

Anyway, more later. We are home, enjoying the weekend and still trying to recoup!

Quick Update

We made it to Canada. Talk about a LONG day!

We flew to New Hampshire then drove through Maine (beautiful drive) to Fredericton, New Brunswick to stay with some of Rox's family.

Carter did GREAT the whole trip. He did great on the plane, he did great on the car. However, he got sick the night before with a runny nose and cough. He barely ate or drank anything yesterday. So, we were really hoping it would be a small cold that would pass in a few days.

Well, we got to Mark and Krista's and pulled into the driveway and BAM! Carter threw up. He has NEVER, EVER thrown up from sickness before. Ever. Needless to say, we were alarmed. He was very upset (and not to mention stinky...ewww!)and got mommy all stinky too, but that is okay, I'd say I was long overdue for throw-up given that Carter is almost 2 1/2.

Anyway, after the drama of throw-up we settled in. I had given Carter some medicine in the car. He ate some crackers and took some apple juice to bed.

We were exhausted! Carter slept for a while then started coughing. And coughed, and coughed and coughed. I gave him more medicine. Didn't help. I picked him up and rocked him with juice, and finally, that did it. We had about 3 good hours of sleep and the coughing started again.

In my mind, and I know this is awful, but in my mind I thought "this must be what hell would be like". We were absolutely exhausted, eyes heavy and bodies sore from long travel. It kept going around and around in my head how we were going to function the next day. We are supposed to spend the day with Roxanne's parents.

I started praying like I have never prayed before. Give me wisdom, Lord. Heal his cough, Lord. Please.

I got up and gave him a different kind of medicine and finally, it stopped, for another four hours. He finally woke up at His normal time of 8:00 AM, which is 10:00 AM here. Bright eyed and bushy tailed, as they say. Sheesh, to have that energy.

So, we feel somewhat human. Will probably feel better after a shower.

Just wanted to let everyone know of our adventure. We are going to Wal-Mart today and get supplies for more peaceful sleep tonight...and we may put Carter out on the back porch just in case.....JUST KIDDING!!!!!!!!

Today is the day.

The Lord has been gracious and good to me this past week. Working through grief and seeing beyond my grief. Everyone is going through something. I have a friend whose mom is most likely dying of cancer. Our church has been in turmoil for over a year. It is tiring and exhausting. I think and pray for the staff who is affected everyday. Former staff people are also affected. The pain is far reaching. I have friends that suffer from infertility. People strugging to make ends meet. These are not uncommon to man. There is always going to be something.

Everyone is going through something. My prayer is that I, personally, and everyone else, look beyond what they are going through and learn to abide in Christ. That is what He is teaching me this week. Because I can be assured that once this is over, there is going to be something else. But He is faithful. He is sovereign. He covers all. He is mighty and mighty to save.

Oswald Chambers speaks to me. If you have ever picked up "My Utmost for His Highest" and read some of the devotionals that were compiled from this man's messages years ago you probably had one of two reactions.

One, this guy is over my head. Two, wow, this guy is over my head but I want to dig deeper.

I favor the latter. I ALWAYS get something out of O.C.

Christmas 2005 I gave Greg "My Utmost" in his stocking. I knew I wanted to read it too. Pretty soon I was snagging O.C. after Greg got through with it in the morning. Then somehow, the book ended up on my bible. Now, I just need to go get Greg another copy. I read it almost every day. It challenges me. It makes me think. It convicts me. It makes me dig. Sometimes with a two year old that is all I have time for, however, more often than not, O.C. simply gets me going, gets me focused and thinking on the things of God before I move on to a deeper study.

And yes, even after reading it every day for over two years, I still get more out of it.

So, the other day, in the middle of all this grief in my heart, I read a devotional that really spoke to me. Basically, it reminded me that I am not the only person going through pain. There are a lot of others going through pain too. And that God is big enough to cover all of us.

All we have to do is abide in Him. All I have to do is come to Him.

God woke me up an hour earlier than I needed to because I have wanted to share this with everyone for over a week. I needed to hear it again today before we leave on the trip.

Listen to this excerpt. It really says it all.

Where sin and sorrow stops, and the song of the saint starts. Do I really want to get there? I can right now. The questions that truly matter in life are remarkably few, and they are all answered by these words--"Come to Me." Our Lord's words are not, "Do this or don't do that," but--Come to Me."

...The attitude necessary for you to come to Him is one where your will has made the determination to let go of everything and deliberately commit it all to Him

"...and I will give you rest"--that is, "I will sustain you, causing you to stand firm." He is not saying, "I will put you to bed, hold your hand, and sing you to sleep." But, in essence, He is saying, "I will get you out of bed--out of your listlessness and exhaustion, and your condition of being half dead while you are still alive. I will penetrate you with the spirit of life, and you will be sustained by perfection of vital activity." Yet we become so weak and pitiful and talk about "suffering" the will of the Lord. Where is the majestic vitality and the power of the Son of God in that?
Excerpted from My Utmost for His Highest, June 11th. Scripture: Matthew 11:28

That is really all I need. And you too. I hope you take advantage of it today. I know I sure am!

Oh, Canada!!

It has become increasingly clear that this trip to Canada is having more of an effect on me than I had imagined.

Next Tuesday, Greg, Carter and I will head to Canada for much needed R & R. We will visit with Roxanne's family, staying with them for three nights, then head to Prince Edward Island, of Anne of Green Gables fame. It is actually the 100th anniversary of Lucy Maude Montgomery writing those books so there will be a lot of celebrating going on. I still remember watching Anne of Green Gables for the first time when I was a teenager. I am very excited. And, basically, I haven't told Greg anything about Anne of Green Gables. He will just have to sit through it once we get there. I will try and skip the more "girly" parts of the trip. I won't make him have high tea with me at one of the mansions made famous in the books. All the men reading this breathe a huge sigh of relief for Greg.

But the closer we get to leaving for this trip the more emotional I become. The more I think of Roxanne and how sad I was to lose her. And I cry. Part of me wishes that I could just suck it up and move on. I am not the type to wallow in my self-pity. I don't want to have a pity party, I want to move on. But grief does not move along in a timeline. It likes to stop, reflect, heal, then move forward again, like a compass, leading and directing you where it wishes you would go. And you have no other means but to follow. It is commandeering the ride. The tears will come, you have the choice of whether allowing them to come at their discretion, or stuffing them deep inside only to allow anger and bitterness, fear and despair to increase and swallow you whole.

I guess more and more I allow myself to cry. I don't like it, especially when I am in public. But there is no shame in tears. It means there is healing going on. You are remembering something and it has touched a part of your soul enough to burst outside of your body in the form of a tear, and it slides the slippery path down your face. It is welcome. Or it should be. But most of the time it is just inconvenient and embarrassing.

I remember a time when tears did not come to me that often. I would stuff everything deep down inside where it was safe and sound. Or so I thought. But at the most inopportune times, I would have a meltdown, much like my two year old. And man, those are embarrassing. And most times they happen in front of people. People you know and really don't want to think that you are a psycho. Or, they would happen in front of the bank teller, who you would attempt to avoid at every subsequent trip to the bank. Talk about uncomfortable!

No, I have learned that tears are welcome. So when they come I try to keep an open mind and just sit with the grief. It is happening more and more these days. I am wishing more and more my emotional reserves could be full and overflowing, but things keep happening that syphon out all my reserve.

I am hoping that while this trip will be emotionally draining, there will also be lots of joy and laughter, maybe even a little closure. Some weeping I am sure will be expected. But a lot of fun times too. New family memories to bring home of Canada instead of the last time that I was there.

Yeah, I am sure it will good once we get there. I can't wait for Greg to meet Roxanne's cousin and her family. She is just great. And having him there while we go to Rox's grave will be wonderful, to have someone to lean on and be supportive. And I can't wait to introduce Carter to Granny and Grampy Thorne. I hope he brings much, much joy to them the few days we are there, as much joy and blessing he brings to us.

Yes, I know it will be a good trip. I am feeling better already!

Roxie's Grave

Greg, Carter and I are headed to Canada two weeks from today. If fact, two weeks from right now we will be in Canada. I am really excited to go to Canada for a fun trip, rather than the last trip I took there, which was for my friend, Roxanne's, funeral, in July 2007.

We are going to see Roxanne's parents, affectionately known as Granny and Grampy Thorne. They are very excited to meet Carter. We are also staying with Roxanne's first cousin, Krista, who was very much like a sister to Roxanne. I got to know Krista very well in a very short time period last year when I stayed with her and her family during Roxanne's funeral. They are awesome people and I am really looking forward to the trip. I am looking forward to Greg meeting them also.

I just got an email from Roxanne's mom and she asked me to bring a small Tennessee flag to Canada with me so that she can put it on Roxie's grave along with the Canadian flag. You see, Tennessee was also "home" to Rox for many years.

When I read over the email and came to the part that said 'Roxie's grave' I got that thought again, that thought that Roxanne is not really gone. How can she be gone? It just seems like yesterday that I was talking to her and heard her infectious laugh. Just today I went to the group on facebook that was created immediately after her death and was looking at her picture, thinking, wow, I really miss her. And I see her every time I open the refrigerator because, there again, is a picture of her with me on my wedding day.

It makes me sad that Roxanne is never going to have a wedding day. I won't get to be the Matron of Honor at her wedding. She will never get to have a baby. We won't ever be able to discuss the trials of motherhood together. How to juggle marriage and family. The sleepless nights, the worry and doubts.

But I believe Roxanne has a very special job now. And besides that special job, she is walking arm in arm with Jesus. She is his bride. And I believe she is a mother.

I believe Roxanne is being a mommy to my three angels in heaven. Angels that were with me just a short time, but they are mine and still with me. I can't be with them, but they can be with her. And she is finally becoming the mother she always wanted to be. And she is taking care of my babies in heaven.

I don't know how theologically sound this is. I do know that even if we don't have these bodies in heaven, we will know our loved ones. I will know my babies. I don't know what shape or form the will be in but they are there. They had a soul. They all had a heartbeat. And I know that I will know Roxanne. And I like to think that she has the very special job of taking care of my little ones in heaven.

And even though I miss her here on earth there is no one I would rather have looking over my babes than her. I know they are in the best of hands.

So, now I need to find a small Tennessee flag.....hmmmm. I have a very important job to do and I don't want to disappoint Mum Thorne. This is a very special job indeed. It is the least that I can do given the job Jesus has given Roxanne.

Parenting Is Heart Work Seminar

Thursday May 1 and May 8th I held a two part parenting seminar at my home church, Two Rivers Baptist. I was very excited (and nervous) to have the privilege to hold my first seminar there.

All in all, things went well, not perfectly by any means, but well.

God has been teaching me so much through this process and I am SO excited to be headed in a direction with Him and not know where I am going. I don't understand why He wants to use me but I am glad that He loves me and wants me to share in what He is doing here on earth. What an awesome privilege.

And about peace. Wow, there is nothing like walking smack dab in the middle of God's plan for you.

Life is good.

Is it perfect?

Is it pain free or trial free?

Absolutely not. But, man, it is good....because God is good.

More on the parenting seminar to come along with information on how to have me at your church, mom's group or small group setting!!

Our wonderful five year anniversary

We spent our five year anniversary at White Stone Inn in Paint Rock, Tennessee. It was a wonderful place to relax but the time was too short. I can't wait to go back there again soon.

This is the entrance into the Inn

The gazebo

This is the "barn" where we stayed

Us at our anniversary dinner at the INN

Greg's wonderful anniversary gift to me.

I don't really understand...

Why some people are allowed to have kids when they have no business having kids. And it seems that they have no issues getting pregnant, staying pregnant, yet don't appreciate the wonderful gift they have been given.

I won't ever understand but I know there is a reason and a lesson to be learned. I guess I will just keep searching on that one...

My Trek through Nature

Whether I wanted it or not!

Week before last the weather was turning beautiful. So, I took to walking in Shelby Park, which is about 2 miles from our house in beautiful East Nashville.

Monday, I went with Carter and he had a great time. Now, I have been working out quite a bit on the ellipitcal machine at the Y so the 1.25 mile walk seemed like nothing.

Thursday, I decided to go on my own. While at the park on Monday I viewed a map of the park (big mistake) and saw that when I came to the fork on the greenway, I could go 1.25 miles or 1.75 miles. Thursday, I decided to live dangerously. I decided to trek the 1/75 miles.

Well, things were going great until I hit the 2 mile marker. Thats right, I was supposed to loop around the park in 1.75 miles, according to that map. I was anywhere but near where I had started.

So, instead of turning around, knowing I was going to have to walk 4 miles total I decided to forge ahead, thinking, somehow, there would be a way out.

Well, another half mile up the road it became clear that I was in a dilemma. Not only was I 2+ miles away from where I started, I had finished off my 20 oz bottle of water that I had, thankfully, brought with me. Then it hit! I had the urgent desire to PEE. And it was BAD.

Now, for those of you who know me. I am not a nature person. I don't go camping. I like make-up and running water. I don't sleep in a tent. Get the picture.

So the thought of having to pee outside, in public, really didn't appeal to me. But, I really didn't have a choice, if you know what I mean. It was going to come out one way or another and I really didn't want to pee in my pants. So, off I went to find a trail. It would have been great if someone had been there to video tape me walking with my legs half way crossed praying that I would find the trail before I pee'd all over everything! I found a trail that I had passed not to long ago, so I hurriedly looked both ways to make sure no one else was on this road. I found the trail just in time. It was very well hidden from the road, it was next to a creek. It was totally isolated, (I think, I hope, I pray!!!). I won't go into the details of the "drop", but lets just say I did my business and hit the road.

After my "nature drop", I had a clearer mind and it became apparent that I just needed to turn around and go back the way that I came. But, I was still wondering if this road would take me back to where I started, somehow. I stopped and asked a nice gentleman that if I stayed on the path that I was on where would it lead. He told me I would end up at Opry Mills mall.

No thank you, please. Sigh.

So, I turned around and headed back.

All in all I walked about 5 .5 miles, at least. I was never so glad to see the new nature center. Then my car. Whew.

I came home and drank a bunch of water, stretched out and took some advil. The next day I was not nearly as sore as I thought I would be and I was really quite proud of myself.

Of course, I haven't been back to the park yet. I'm still fearful they are going to arrest me for indecent exposure in a nature setting or defaming public property. Who knows.

Had to share these!!!

It is time to share a few Carter pictures.

The first set is of him enjoying one of his favorite desserts. Carter does not want anyone feeding him anymore, and the best way to get him to learn to eat with a spoon is to just give him a bowlful of food and let him go at it. And that he did as you will see in these pictures...

Of course, as you can see, he prefers using his fingers!!!

Carter got a new haircut and I had to show it off. This should do him for most of the summer. No buzz cut this year, probably never again! I like him with hair.

Finally, these are the best!

This morning I was busy getting ready while Greg had run an errand. Carter was in the living room watching a video and playing. I thought to myself, Wow, Carter is being sooo good this morning. I come in to find him with the air vent removed and his repeating, "ball??" over and over. Yes, he had thrown a ball down the airvent. I spent the next 5 minutes trying to explain to him that the ball went bye bye. So, I put the vent cover back on and told him not to take it off. We have done this SEVERAL times, he is obsessed with taking the air vent cover off. So, I go downstairs to get something and come back up and start sorting through some clothes. I hear a strange sound and look in the living room and found this!

Yes, apparently, Carter was going to go after his ball. He climbed down into the air vent. Sigh. For a minute he was stuck, then I was able to get him out. He then got a spanking to remind him that taking the vent cover off and climbing into the vent is a BIG NO NO!!!!! Then I gave him a great big hug and told him I loved him and held onto him for dear life!!!

Eggs....and not the Easter kind

We had a guest speaker at church today. It was a really good message. God spoke some thing to me today. And they really made me smile.

First, though, I'll share the things that didn't make me smile. God pounding me over the head over and over that in His time we will have another baby and that, while I can take things into my own hands, there will always going to be consequences in doing so. Also, though, God is a God of mercy (thank you, Jesus) and no matter what I have done in the past or how much I fail in the future, God knows exactly every move that I am going to make and He loves me anyway.

Now, onto the smile....

The pastor was speaking out of Genesis 16. The story is of Abram, Sarah and Hagaar. You know the story. Abram is promised to be the father of all nations, Sarah can't have children and they end up taking matters into their own hands, and Ishmael is born. I think we can all say we see the consequences today (in the Middle East) for their decisions. The Sarah, at age 90, and in women's terms....way past the normal time frame to get pregnant.......gets pregnant by the Lord's hand. In other words, her eggs were fried, dried, and dusty and God transformed them to sunny side up, once again.

This is the part that made me smile. I was sitting in the service and it dawned on me.

If God can take Sarah's 90 year old eggs and produce offspring, then surely He is capable of taking my 39 year old eggs and making them PERFECT, too. Oh, and don't forget about Greg's contributions. I wouldn't want to leave him out, you know how he hates missing out on attention. Ha ha. Love ya, honey!

So, I smiled and I quit worrying about it, for a minute, at least. I have seen everything!

Imagine my shock and surprise at today's Oprah show.

Apparently, there was a woman, who "became" a man and now he(she) is pregnant.

I have to ask, why is it that I, what I would call a good, Christian person, in a loving marriage with a "real" man, has three miscarriages and this couple can do this? That is just a little anger coming out. Kind of like, why do people who can't afford or want children seem to have them and then abuse them? Another thing that makes me angry, but I digress from this amazing story.

This couple came on national television and told People magazine their "story". He "became" a man but kept his reproductive organs and he says that he doesn't view wanting to have a baby as a male or female thing, he just knew he wanted to do it. All they want us to think is that this is completely normal. Read the transcript (or listen to the show) and you will see the undertones of tolerance.

The bottom line is, this is not really a man. He was created a woman and has all the female reproductive organs. They had a sperm donor. It is really not all that unusual. He just looks like a "man" and has had testosterone and surgeries to complete the "process".

I know some may think I am not being "tolerant" but the message being preached on this show is extremely scary to me to think that our world is coming to this and that it is being accepted and I am considered intolerant because I view it as wrong.

Okay, rant over. My mouth, however, is still wide open. It is an amazing story

Love them like Jesus

This is a title of a song from the Christian group Casting Crowns. I LOVE it. I actually love this whole album but this song and Praise You in this Storm if just perfect for what we have been going through lately. So, I listen to this CD a lot.

People get uncomfortable around people who have experienced a loss. Whether a person has lost a loved one or had a miscarriage people tend to not know what to do or say. We really make it more difficult than it actually is and there are many reasons why people respond or don't respond.

For me, I build walls rather than extend an arm. When my second miscarriage happened I made it clear to the few people who knew that I was a private person and I did not want, in essence, to be bothered. And guess what? People left me alone. And because of this wall no one every brought up the fact that I had experienced a miscarriage. I did get some encouraging emails letting me know I was being prayed for but I felt irritated after a while that no one asked me how I was doing or extended a hand and said to my face, "I am still praying for you". One casual friend did ask me how I was and I thanked her for acknowledging that I had had a loss. But really, was it their fault they were not extending condolences? No, it had been mine. Because I had chosen to build a wall.

This miscarriage I have told a lot of people, some because I had to, others because I just want to share it. I want prayer. I want people to know so they can be praying for us and our family. But still most people don't acknowledge me or the fact that I have had a loss.

Sometimes people who have experienced a loss have to take the initiative to let people know what they can do for them or to clear the air and let people know it is okay to talk about.

Maureen Rank wrote in her book, Free to Greive, a book about grieving over miscarriage and stillbirth, a personal story regarding having to step up and speak when a roomful of people in her hospital room did not know what to say. She writes,

"As these young men and women stood awkwardly beside my bed, I knew the ball was in my court. They had taken the initiative to reach out to me, even though their caring had shoved them into unfamiliar and uncomfortable territory. I knew they wanted to do the right thing, but weren't sure what the right thing was."

Maureen continues to write that she began to talk and to share and open up. the visited ended with mutual giving and receiving.

I haven't done the best job initiating responses from friends and acquaintences. But, I am trying to do better.

I know most people don't know what to say. It is possible that they are afraid of the response they will get...tears, anger or maybe more information than they wanted to know. It is very understandable.

I guess what I am saying in this post is, if you know someone who has experienced a loss, whatever kind of loss it is, just love them like Jesus. Just like the song states, you don't need to know all the right words or to know all of the answers to life's questions. We don't expect you to.

Here are the lyrics to this great song.

Love them Like Jesus
The love of her life is drifting away
They're losing the fight for another day
The life that she's known is falling apart
A fatherless home, a child's broken heart

You're holding her hand, you're straining for words
You're trying to make sense of it all
She's desperate for home, darkness clouding her view
She is looking to you

Love them like Jesus, carry her to HIm
His yoke is easy, His burden is light
You don't need the answers to all of life's questions
Just know that He loves her and stay by her side
Love her like Jesus

The gifts lie in wait, in a room painted blue
Little blessing from Heaven would be there soon
Hope fades in the night, blue skies turn to gray
As the little one slips away

You're holding her hand, you're straining for words
You're trying to make sense of it all
they're desperate for hope, darkness clouding their view
They're looking to you

Love them like Jesus, carry her to HIm
His yoke is easy, His burden is light
You don't need the answers to all of life's questions
Just know that He loves her and stay by her side
Love her like Jesus

Muddling through Grief

Greg and I have had our share of grief this past year.

Last July I lost one of my best friends very suddenly and way, way too early. I really miss her and her death was really hard on me. It still is.

Then, we got pregnant, right after she died. I thought, "this is wonderful". There is death and then there is life. The Lord is blessing me with this light from heaven. It was very healing. Of course, we don't go into pregnancy naively anymore since our first pregnancy in 2005 ended in miscarriage. But, nonetheless, I was feeling very hopeful.

We kept it to ourselves, just like we did when I was pregnant with Carter. We were going to wait until after the first trimester to share our news with everyone.

Unfortunately, that pregnancy ended in miscarriage seven weeks into it. We were, of course, devastated. I was numb more than anything because losing Roxanne and then the hope that you thought had come from the Lord as a gift from above is taken too, it just seems really unfair. And, in reality, it is.

Other than a few people at church that had to know due to commitments, we still didn't tell any family. Why burden them? They were devastated when we had a miscarriage in 2005.

Somehow, we muddled through. I really didn't start greiving for either loss until the fall. Then the tears came and I was able to process the loss. And there is always hope. Hope that there will be a next pregnancy and the focus turns to hope instead of loss.

So, we were very ecstatic when we got another positive pregnancy test in January. Again, we didn't tell a soul. I was doing okay. I had my bloodwork done and all my numbers were just great. Breath a big sigh of relief.

We went in for our 8 week ultrasound because my doctor does those early. I was very nervous and unsettled about the whole thing. In my quiet time, instead of hearing the promises of God, I heard and read about comfort and trust. That thursday morning, I awoke with the hymn Be Thou My Vision in my head. I had no idea why and didn't really give it a thought until after we came home from learning that our little one had stopped developing at five weeks. Then the song held a special meaning. A message from God about trust in the storm. Really giving everything over to Him and allowing Him to direct your paths.

I have to admit that this time around I was angry. And I was angry at God. And you know what. He was big enough to take it. I want to write and indepth post about the misconception that we, as Christians, should just push our feelings under the rug when bad things happen. God knows we are going to be angry, hurt, and confused. At the time, we may not turn to Him immediately, but He is there. He never leaves us or forsakes us. And He is big enough for our questions. We can shout them to the rooftops. He can take it.

I guess it is what you do with your anger, eventually, that really matters. You can say, "my God is a good God and I trust Him" and really not mean it, or say those things because you are a Christian, and that is what you are supposed to say, and then go and stuff everything and it will come out in other ways. Bitterness, anger, depression. Or we can sort through our anger and our grief and eventually come to the Truth that Is.

And that is that God is our Help. He is our provider. He IS. He is our all in all. He is our vision and our comfort.

Once I got past the anger, I tried to focus on what I knew was true about God. I kept reflecting that I did not know why this loss had happened, again, but I did know God. I knew Him. So I needed to focus on Him.

Verses like Jeremiah 29:11 and Psalm 139: 17-18 came to mind.

And of course, this one:

No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; He'll never let you be pushed past your limit; He'll always be there to help you come through it. I Cor. 10:13 from The Message

In time, the peace comes again. The truth always wins. I am not sorry for the process that it took to get me there. And God understands. He carried me through it all. He was there all the time.

And, I will praise You in this storm.

Can you really get something for nothing?

Well, I feel the answer to that question is not really. There is always a cost. Sometimes that cost is a little, sometimes a lot.

Greg and I recently went to a home show here in Nashville. Since we are going to be building a new home within the next year we thought we would go to get some ideas. I was less impressed with the event, but that may have something to do with my being a girl and not really caring about many of the booths that were there. I wanted to see displays, etc. And all I got a lot of contractors, stone sellers, and one lasik surgeon. Yeah, I don't know why a lasik surgeon was at a home show.

One thing that I thoroughly enjoyed throughout the show was the freebies. Free samples of lemonade, coffee and even kettle corn. Free pens, bags, brochures. All kinds of lovely stuff.

And don't let me forget the sign ups. Free trips were being given away, free siding, romantic dinners and you can believe I put our name in each and every one of those.

We had won a free trip when I went to a bridal fair when we were engaged, and even though it was free, it cost us 2 hours watching a cooking presentation along with an attempt at getting us to buy the cookware. We were strong and got our free goodies and ran. And we enjoyed the free trip on our one year anniversary.

So, I was not surprised when, the week after the home show, my cell phone was ringing. Mostly people were following up on what stone we wanted to buy and when were we planning on remodeling our home, etc. But I was quite pleased when the KIS Country Club called us and told us we won a free three day, two night stay along with $25.00 in free Chick fil A food.

My first question though, was, what do we have to do?

Easy. We just had to sit through a presentation of the KIS Indoor Country Club at Opry Mills. There was no pressure to buy anything and they were really just trying to get their name known throughout the community, yada, yada, yada. Also, if we came in this week (which was last week) we had the opportunity to win a free Caribbean cruise if we got a hole in one.

So, last Friday night we head to the KIS location in Opry Mills. We always wondered what that place was and now we have more information about it than we will ever care to have.

I don't particularly enjoy sales people. In fact, I can be rather rude to them. Especially the harder the sale, the harder I get on the sales person. So, I tried to keep my attitude in check reminding myself that Greg and I were getting a free get away.

So, we get through the introductions and basic information. Then we get to try for the hole in one. Greg tries. Misses. He gives me a couple of pointers and an extra swing and on the third and final try, guess what? I got it! I got a hole in one.

One free cruise to the Bahamas coming up!!

We were very pumped and went through the rest of the presentation as best as we could. We really just wanted our free stuff.

When it got down to the selling point, the guy just didn't want to give. We had discussions, he asked questions, we tried our best to answer them. He even called a more experienced seller over and he did his best to move us over to his side. All in all, they were very nice and the pressure we felt was minimal. They just really wanted to sell us a membership. The meeting went long. We were very hungry and in need of a break.

We finally said we were going to have to go get something to eat to think about it. According to them, we had to make a decision that night in order to get additional bonuses that they do not normally give (yeah, right).

Well, Greg and I briefly discussed it over dinner. The guy had slashed the prices and thrown in a free travel club, which was temporarily tempting. But, once our blood sugar returned to normal we knew what our answer would be....


Now, we had to go back and face the music. We practiced what we were going to say, we did a little huddle, we gave ourselves a boost and told ourselves, "we can do this! We can say NO!".

So, we walk in, practicing our speech, and ask for Nick, the guy who was helping us. Nick was no where to be found. Hmmm.. Nick had left the building. Oh, okay.

So, Trent asked us what he could help us with. We told him we needed to pick up our free gifts. He knew I had shot a hole in one so he gave us our cruise too.

We were out of there in less that 5 minutes. Woo hoo. Free and clear and we didn't even have to give them our spiel!

So, to sum up our Friday night, we won a free trip, with an additional bonus trip, along with a Caribbean cruise. We sat through a very boring presentation and had to say no, ALOT!

Was it free? Not really. Our time is valuable.

Was it worth it?

Oh, yeah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Super Tuesday

Well, today is voting day. The day you get to vote in the presidential election primary. Yep. Don't worry, I am not going to give a big speech on the importance of taking advantage of the freedom we have in voting (especially for women, cause we didn't always have the right). I won't bore you with political dialogue cause I am just really not into that. I am a voter and I think it is important but political science was just not my favorite class.

No, political science and debates are not my thing. My husband and I did vote in the primary today. There wasn't another soul in the church where we are sent to vote based on where we live. That is called a district. That I know.

We must have hit the district during a lull. Lucky for me cause I got confused after I cast my vote for my candidate then the thing popped up and asked me to vote for delegates. Now, see, if you are a republican, you will know exactly what I am talking about. If you voted as a democrat, you didn't get to vote for all those delegates.

(And techinically, I am not republican, politically, I am a democrat but, due to having values and morals, I am unable to vote democratic in National elections.)

Anyway, the nice elderly people were able to kind of explain what the delegates were and the whole electoral vote thing. See, I told you, it really isn't my thing. I get test anxiety every time I have to vote. I think it has something about being enclosed in a small space. Of course this year there was no curtain to shield me from anyone and everyone could see the confused look on my face. Luckily, I was able to raise my hand and ask a question.

But, my post today has very little to do with my voting experience.

What was so interesting today was what happened after I voted. See, if you go vote you get this little sticker. A bragging right. The sticker says, "I voted".

I proudly wore mine all day. Even though Carter wanted it after I picked him up from Weekday school. But I wore it all day. People would ask if I voted.

Well, why else would I be wearing the sticker if I hadn't voted?

But best of all was what happened at the mall. We went out to eat and went to Opry Mills after dinner. I was parusing a shoe store while Greg checked out really expensive speakers at the Bose store.

When I walked in to the store the sales lady did the obligatory hello. She decided to start up a conversation based on my sticker on my shirt. Here it goes.

"Oh, did you vote today?"


"Yeah, I've seen lots of those stickers today (pause, then with much sincerity)....Did they have it at the Convention Center?"

This lady has my full attention. In a split second in my mind I am saying to myself, WHAT??????"

So I asked her.

"What? Did they have what at the convention center?" (Maybe she meant a big political rally...)

"You know, the voting?"


"Um, no, the voting takes place in your district." I am really trying not to stare incredulously at this woman

The saleslady is appearing to feel uncomfortable. It seems she is trying to discuss something she obviously knows nothing about. But how can that be? I know about voting and districts and I am not politically inclined. The woman is an adult at least in her thirties. Obviously, a bit on the airhead side, but she has nice hair. And it is blonde.

"Oh.....yeah. Well, I have just seen so many people today with these stickers and I just think it is so cool. You know, it must be one of the big days to vote."

" um (staring incredulously now because it is the ONLY day to vote. There is no OTHER day. This is it, Super Tuesday. Does this woman own a television? Watch the news??????) Um, Yeah, it IS the voting day" I finally spit out.

"oh, I just think it is so cool. I've seen those stickers all day. People went out and voted and then came and shopped!" (woman laughs uncomfortably and leaves very quickly.)

I just stand there and stare. And then I start to chuckle.

When I have conversations with people like that I feel so smart!

What makes a good mom?

Something has been bugging me since Christmas and it was brought to my attention today, so here I go, getting it off my chest.

My son is in a Mother's Day Out program called Weekday school. It is great, for many reasons, but the most important reason is that it gives me time away from my child and to myself, which I think is very healthy and needed. Not every mom feels that way and that is fine. For me personally, Weekday school is my salvation. 1o hours is not enough time, roughly 5 hours each Tuesday and Thursday, but it is enough.

One of the things that I have been dealing with is mom guilt. I am the sole person responsible for this. No one is making me feel guilty. It is something I do to myself.

It started this Christmas at Weekday school. Of course I brought Carter's teacher's gifts for caring for my son, it was the least that I could do. They do a great job and they love my son. Enough said.

Well, the mother guilt started creeping in when Carter's teacher mentioned they were having a Christmas party and inviting me to attend. She actually called me at home because she forgot to mention it the last time he was at school. I go, do I not go. I really, truly did not want to go. I had five hours to get a lot of stuff done. I didn't have to bring anything to the party, she just wanted me to know that they were having it.

Thursday rolls around and she mentions, again that they were having the party that day. Well, I told her sheepishly, that if I got everything done in time I would try to come join the party. Inside I was thinking they are having this party at 11:30, smack dab in the middle of the day and it would kill any chance of me getting anything accomplished. And again, so you don't think I am being critical of Weekday school (which I am adamantly NOT!!) the timing of the part made sense because it was before lunch and nap time.

Well, I didn't go. I felt a little twinge of guilt, but really was fine with it. Until I picked up Carter from school. Apparently, some of the other mom's and grandmother's brought gifts to ALL the kids in the class. I let out a sigh. Did Carter bring any presents for anyone......Nope. Except for his teacher.

I left thinking, you know they really need to pass out Weekday school etiquette.

Whenever there is a party thou shalt bring gifts to know, something like that.

I am a person that needs things spelled out to her. Just let me know the expectation and I can get it done.

Well, fortunately, not all the mom's brought gifts. So, I felt a little vindicated. Whew. You know, this is a mother's day out program. It is supposed to be bringing me LESS stress. Not all this stuff I have to be thinking of ahead of time.

Well, fast forward to last week. It was Carter's birthday. Did I bake cupcakes and bring them to weekday school, like some of the other moms, so Carter could have a party? No. Did I know that was the norm. NOOOOOO....

So, again, the mother guilt was laid upon me. Did I need to feel guilty. NO. But it is hard when other kid's mom's bring stuff in and you are the mom that doesn't.

Carter's teacher told me she baked some cookies for Carter and was it okay for them to have them. Of course, it was fine. (guilt, guilt, guilt)

So, just when I am getting over that mother lode, I get hit with it again today.

Apparently, Valentines Day is coming up. Carter's teacher and another teacher started talking about Valentines Day when a grandmother brought something in for the party.

Party? What party.

Carter's teacher: "Oh, we're going to have a Valentines party."

My sigh must have been overheard around the world.

Carter's teacher: "ohoohh...we'll have the kids bring in Valentines".

Me: "Okay, is that really necessary? He's two, he isn't going to remember this is Valentines Day, it's too much".

(oops, did I really say that? I was being really nice but inside I was thinking all this is going to do is add something else to my list of things to do, which is why I have my child in Weekday school so that I have time to do the things I need to do and all this is doing is adding to that never ending list......)

The other grandmother piped up and said that is why she brought the Valentine straws in today. She's done, she did her task, etc. Well, I said I could bring in play-doh, as we had a lot left over from Carter's party.

There, that isn't so bad.

Well, then the poor teacher said she would buy the Valentines herself.

Guilt, guilt guilt.....

Me: No, you don't have to do that. Just let me know what I need to bring to the party.

Finally she said the party was really for her. She enjoys it so much that she loves putting them together.

Then they started talking about Easter. Carter's teacher looks at me and says, "Are we getting to far ahead of you, Susan?"


So, then I have to start thinking about what kind of mom am I?

I didn't get married till I was 34 and I had Carter at 37. The dream of getting married and actually having kids was kind of in the back of my mind. I had time to be pretty independent. I even kept working for a while after Carter was born. I work now, I just don't get paid for it. I wear a lot of hats. Guilt is a hat I would rather not have to wear and worry about. So, I am not like a lot of mom's that dreamed of doing all this stuff with their kids. And does that really make a great mom, bringing cup cakes to a party?

No. Some mom's never get the opportunity to do those things for their kids and maybe they want to. Maybe they are single and have to work and miss out on all the parties at school, never being able to be the class mom.

Me, when Carter gets in school, REAL school, of course I want to bring cup cakes for his birthday party and we will fill out Valentines before his Valentine Elementary school when he knows what Valentines day is.

To me, being a great mom is meeting my child's need (and wants, sometimes). Nurturing him, tickling him, spending time playing with him. Loving him.

I think if I asked anyone if they thought my kid was loved and well-rounded, nice to be around and happy I think I would hear a resounding YES!!!!!!!

Now, I think part of the credit should go to temperament. I had little to do with that. But this child is loved and nurtured.

He is considered a blessing.

And just because I don't want to make cup cakes and take them to his weekday school program when he is oblivious that it is even his birthday, doesn't make me a bad mom.

It makes me a mom who is prioritizing what she has to do in a day and what is really important and what really matters. Carter had two birthday parties. One was really big. He didn't miss out on celebrating his birthday.

Maybe one day I will be able to deal with the guilt. But I somehow think there are going to be other things to feel guilty about, just in different circumstances.

I just need to accept the fact that I am not perfect, won't be the perfect mom, and to just love my child and focus on him and not worry about what other people think.

Because that is the bottom line. I am worried about how other people perceive me, that is really what I feel bad about. Not meeting everyone elses expectation of what a mom should look like.

Okay. I feel better now.