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.