Monday, December 31, 2007

A beautiful bouquet

The arrangement above was given to us by our church family at Red Rocks Church the day of Noah's service on January 15th. It was such a gorgeous mix of flowers, arranged in a square metal box. From each side of the arrangement, the flowers looked like an entirely different bouquet. It was beautiful, that is why I took pictures of it.

Translate to today...I have been swimming in pools of cardboard boxes and bubble wrap in our new home. We camped here last Thursday night after pulling into town from a long drive on I-70 in white out conditions. Our PODS came the next day and we've been unloading and organizing ever since. I was unpacking a kitchen box. Nothing in it reminded me specifically of Noah, but I thought about how unpacking these boxes reminds me of opening gifts (especially because my mom packed the majority of them!)

Anyway, I had a revelation of different kinds of gifts. I was looking at Emily, thanking God that she truly is a gift to us. Thanking God that children are a gift from Him and then it occurred to me. Obviously I already know that Noah was a gift to us. But I realized, he was more like a beautiful floral arrangement. Unlike silk flowers, fresh, magnificent ones that God created only last a little while plucked from their source of life. Noah was a fragrant bouquet. God delivered him into our lives. We cherished him, were grateful for him, and displayed him in our lives for all to see and also enjoy. But like every fresh flower, he faded...

I have no regrets. I did not waste a moment with Noah. All 7 months and 2 days were savored. I can honestly, thankfully, and humbly say that. Thank you, Lord, for blessing me with the most magnificent flower. Even though he is not physically with me, his fragrance and the delight of having had him in my's my treasure, Lord. Thank You for such a gift. Why You chose us, we will one day know, but in the meantime, I'm just glad You did...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

This one's dedicated to Noah...

(Pretend you are up late, listening to Delilah. Have that voice in your head as you read the next sentence...)

There's a daddy, mommy and big sister sending out some sweet love to Noah in Heaven. They miss you like crazy, sweet boy. Enjoy the wonderful celebration up There with the One who makes Christmas possible for the rest of us. This one's for Noah, brought to you especially from Bono, The Edge, Larry and Adam. Enjoy!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Things I want to remember...

Downtown living
Tubing with friends
My kid likes attention, but not corporate attention...
I didn't realize her mouth could open so wide. She's pretending to be afraid of the octopus car wash.

Yesterday at church they played a video of answers children gave to questions asked. When asked what Emily was going to give God for Christmas, she said, "My heart."

Then, after church, I was telling Jason how much I love Em's heart and her sensitivity, emphasizing her thoughtfulness. He told me that one night while I was bawling in Noah's empty room, Emily had suggested they paint a box the colors of Noah's room so I could 'take his room with me'.

For the most part, at the end of each day, Jason and I ask Em what her favorite part of the day was. Today in the car, without even asking, she said, "Mom, my favorite part of today was helping decorate for the Joy House Christmas party." She was our little assistant today, helping to set up for a party for battered women and their children.

Also at church on Sunday, my friend Jill, our pastor's wife, came up and said, "I have a small gift for you but it has a funny story." She handed me a bag with a V*enus razor and a sweet smelling candle. She said, "The other day Emily told me that a really good present for her mom would be a smelly candle and a new razor because the cleaning lady at the loft took hers."

While waiting for the elevator, Emily said, "Mom, look at this brick. It is unusual." There was one green brick among hundreds. That is a four syllable word. (See post on reading *smiley face*)

Man, I love her!

Read is a verb

(This is random and opinionated. Just thought I'd give a fair warning...)

I was watching the presidential debates while I was working out the other day. I have tried to tune in as much as possible lately. Yeah, I decided this round that I'd like to be an educated American citizen and vote for the candidate that overall represents my values, not just the leader of my party. No. No one expresses or holds every conviction I do...they are not...ME. And, I'm not currently running for president, so...Anyway, this is not the point of my post.

The question was posed by the mediator that sounded somewhat like this: "U.S. High School students ranked behind 16 other countries in education last year. Why do you think this is happening in our country and as president, what will you do about it?"

Is the answer not obvious to EVERYONE?! I know this will come off opinionated, and that's fine. Am I right? Partially. Do I think I am better than the next guy? No. Am I smarter because I know the answer? Isn't that the point of the mediator's question? The ANSWER is: Many American parents are lazy and do not read to their children while they are young. It's easier to buy them toys, lots and lots of freaking toys, let them stare at the television until their brain cells resemble a pile of mush, plop them in front of computers for hours on end while they get their botox injections and read crap magazines, and then let other people babysit them for extensive amounts of time, ie. babysitters, grandparents, day cares, school teachers, counselors, thinking that they will do the educating.

No, T.V. is not the devil. Computers are not the devil. Daycare is not the devil. Public school is not the devil. Grandparents are not the devil. Botox isn't the devil, except for the fact that animal serum laced with a bacteria is willingly injected into a person's body parts is beyond me...tangent, sorry. Anyway, wasting time can definitely be the devil and buying into the lie that WE as parents are more important than our kids ALL OF THE TIME is a lie. Yes, you need time to yourself, but NOT ALL THE TIME EVERYDAY...why did you have kids?

Some people should not have kids. I am not talking about 'underprivileged' people or overpopulation or stereotypical first cousin jokes. I am talking about people that have kids to simply let their name live on in history or people that just do it because it's the reasonable next step. "Oh, maybe we should have kids since we're getting old."

KIDS ROCK. Kids take quality time and QUANTITY time. Have kids because you treasure LIFE. Have kids because you love God with a holy fear and desire to raise children that make an impact on earth. Have kids because you have so much stinking love in your heart you can't keep it all inside, you just have to share it! But, DO NOT HAVE KIDS TO MAKE YOU LOOK GOOD, because, if you do that but you don't READ TO THEM, you won't look good and you will be doing your kids a disservice...God is the greatest gift you can offer a child. Reading equips them to study more about God and fall deeper in love with Him through His word.

Learning how to read is not an economical issue. Libraries are free. Schools and teachers are only a small portion of the education equation. They are partial 'facilitators' for the hunger for learning that should be birthed at home. Parents who rely on their child's teacher to do all the teaching will always be disappointed, expecting more and more from their child, blaming the system, enrolling their children in more and more programs to 'make' them smarter. The reality is, if we as parents would make reading to our children a priority early on, EVERYDAY, for as much time as we possibly can (we often do one hour-yes, I have 'more' time because I stay at home and home school, but even the busiest parent can make time...finding it will never happen), our children will be better equipped for high school and college and real life.

I worked at a college for 5 years where I had a lot of interaction with students on a social level in the residence halls. Many of the students were well equipped for the intensity of the heightened level of studying necessary for success in college. Some were not. Some were not even equipped with conflict resolution skills when there was roommate drama. Drama.

Our kids are sponges. They watch and listen to us disagree with our spouses. They observe if we honor one another when we disagree or if we get nasty and morph into psycho meanies that lash out in anger. They learn how to disagree from us and they learn how to reconcile, or at least agree to disagree, from us. They watch to see the way we eat and view food. They listen to if we talk negatively about our weight or appearance, and follow suit. They listen to the way we talk to and about other people. They see if we want them to pray and read their Bibles, and if we show them that example or not. They learn what to value from watching us. Just as they are sponges for all that they see, it is true of what they hear. Children are blank tapes. Are our children, the little humans God entrusted to us, (His children really), our 'on loan' most valuable possessions, learning ALL of their life skills and aspirations from digital 'M*ickey Mouse' or Mama, or 'D*ra' or Daddy? We are responsible to make valuable recordings in their lives. So, yes, read! READ. But, also use discernment and wisdom as to what you read. Just because a book is in print or on a 'Best' list, does not mean it is worth your time or theirs. Heck, that's another lesson...teaching them what kind of books are worth their time will teach them to value time, something that one day they will need to read to their children.

By the time January 12th rolled around earlier this year, Noah had heard the whole New Testament, all the Psalms, all of Proverbs, all of Genesis, many other random passages and several other children's books that his big sis enjoys. She even 'read' to him, having learned the books from hearing them repeatedly.

Not one of the candidates brought up the topic of reading to their children...they all got 'political' and started blaming it on the system, on the other 'party', on freedom of choice, blah, blah, blah. We are faced with the freedom to read or not to read, that is our freedom.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Locks for Love

In one month it will be one year. One month, one year.

Anyway, I mentioned it a long time ago, but now it's quite official. On January 12th, 8 of my local girlfriends and I will be donating our hair to 'Locks for Love', in Noah's memory. No, Noah never needed a wig, obviously, but from living at the hospital for ever 5 months, I am thankful that my eyes were opened to the needs of other children and their families. And, if you want to get technical, hair isn't a need. Yes, we were designed with hair follicles, but many people live without hair everyday. Yes, I realize that food, water and shelter are real needs for children throughout the earth, but donating my hair to a kid that is sick and has lost their hair for whatever reason is an easy thing to do, and let me tell you, my hair needs a serious cutting! There will always be a 'better' or 'bigger' way to fill a need somewhere, but I pray that does not stop people from being generous givers. No, I can't donate a ship or airplane to a ministry that takes food and medical supplies to starving and sick people but I can give food or medical supplies, or 10 inches of hair. You get the point.

Anyway, the owner of a local salon will be donating the cost of our haircuts to a charity of our choice, we'll simply be tipping the stylists. I don't know if you have been saving your hair for a rainy day or feel moved to get a radical new look, but if you happen to have 10 extra inches of hair hanging around, would you and your friends be willing to book out your local salon on January 12th in Noah's memory and any other child that you want to honor? It would be so cool for 'Locks for Love' to have loads of ponytails filling their mailbox that following week! If you, on your own, or you and a few girlfriends (or guy friends...there are some seriously long locks on some guys out there!) are able to do this in your own town, will you please email me and let me know?

Also, please take your camera along for lots of pictures and then email them to me. I'll post them with locations, and your names if you want, along with our pictures on Noah's blog in January.

I donated my hair probably 4 and a half years ago for this, but I'm pretty sure this haircut will go down in my personal history as the most memorable and rewarding. Haircuts aren't just haircuts anymore.

Man, I miss that boy! Every minute, every day.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

For the most part, have you ever noticed that when people go on shooting sprees they have agendas, even when they then decide to take their own life? They may never leave a note, but I'd say hatred is a pretty evident cause.

My heart has been extremely heavy all day in regards to the two separate shootings that took place here in CO. It's all very close to home, and I'm not talking proximity only. We have been supporters of many a YWAMer over the last 14 years. We have had family and friends go through their training and share in their outreach all over the world. We love their ministry and love what God is doing because of their obedience. My sweet friend goes to that bases' worship service sometimes. As far as New Life goes, we have old friends that we love very much on staff there. We went to college with many of the staffers there. We've prayed for them during their pastoral change of guard and will continue to pray for them during this tragedy. This was just days after I learned that my friend and her two little ones had left the Omaha mall 30 minutes prior to the other maniac's shooting spree. She's moving within miles of New Life church in a few weeks...

Jason and Em and I were praying a lot for the different situations today...that the shooters would be brought to justice (only one is still living and on the loose, I believe), that God would convict their hearts (and if they have friends who knew of their intentions, that they would turn them in...), that healing and comfort would come to all the families, friends, and colleagues involved in each scenario, and that especially for the staff and students of YWAM, worldwide, that their hearts would be strengthened to share the gospel all the more, despite the devil's attempts to discourage.

I think the devil is nervous about me crazy (it's okay, you wouldn't be the first) but it doesn't seem like the devil goes on shooting sprees within 'Christendom' in churches or other para-church organizations that don't really have firm foundations. The pastor that preaches nice fluffy sermons that stroke egos, lack Truth and don't convict their hearers of sin and righteousness should feel relieved if they never have any sort of trouble within the walls of their congregations. I'm not saying that if you don't have problems, your church is dead to the Truth, but an old pastor of mine used to say if he were demon possessed, he'd go to a church where they didn't believe in demons and where they certainly didn't cast them out...Let's face it, Jesus has always ticked people off.

When horrible things like this happen, as strange as this may sound, (perhaps it's because I am a middle kid, a peace maker, an optimist) knowing the fruit of the lives of the people I know in both YWAM and New Life, I can't help but think that their love for God and pursuit of His will really pisses the devil off in a big way. Sorry for the french but really, the ones I know are not fluffy Christians that just claim the name for fire insurance purposes...

No, I can assure you it does not make the grief any easier! I pray for the peace of God to comfort the hearts of all those left to grieve their loved ones and live with an ever-present hole in their hearts. I pray for hope to replace despair. I pray for people to surround them in prayer and in tangible ways. I also pray that just like people still live in New York City, Londoners still ride buses, and students still attend Columbine High School, (and countless other scenarios) that people of all ages will sign up all the more for YWAM bases at any of their 1,100 bases and that people wouldn't be afraid to go to church. One thing many Americans do well is live in fear, crippled by worse case scenarios. What if? Bad things happen. What if you know that but trust God regardless? 100% guarantee: What satan intends for evil, God WILL turn around for His glory! Take that, you sick twisted devil.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Grief counseling, week 9

This is the picture that was up on the board at counseling for the last 9 weeks.
Jason highlighted this picture in the book he showed last night because it's one of his favorites of Em. She was ecstatic to be a big sister...

Well, last night was our final group counseling session. It was a schizophrenic combination of emotions for me. I walked in excited to see all the other parents that I have grown to love. I looked at the board where the faces of all our children and their names have been on display for 9 weeks and felt sadness and hope. Then, after we sat down and learned the evening agenda, the task of sharing a nugget from our child's memorial service, then walking up to the board to remove our child's picture, take a rose for remembrance and light a candle, I felt as nauseous and grieved as the first night we learned every one's stories. Grieved because each parent was taking down a picture of their child and nauseous because in the Spring, a new group of pictures will grace that board...

I love the other parents in that room. I loved what they shared of their children and am humbled by the transparency that took place in that room each week. Life is constant change. I know this. We all know too well that life does continue on, but for each of us we live a new normal. Whatever the heck that is...normal.

As Jason eloquently put it last night, "I feel like I'm in Junior High borrowing my friend's homework assignment and trying to pass it off as my own..." With the move last week, even though we kept our folders out, we totally spaced our homework assignment. Jason actually hadn't gone the Monday before Thanksgiving because he was in Kansas City for work and I skipped out a half hour early because I went to join him and see friends for a couple of days. I collected all the paperwork that week but we just never looked at it. We walked into group last night and there were lots of yummy treats to share. Yeah, that was on the assignment...And then, people had 'Show and Tell' tokens from their child's memorial service to share with everyone. The funny thing was when we were getting out of the car I glanced in the back seat and saw the photo album Jason had made for me for Mother's Day. I thought to myself, "I'm supposed to bring that in." I didn't. After we learned the agenda of the evening, Jason leaned over and said, "That photo album is like the video we made for Noah's service. Should I run out and get it?" He did. Jason shared how the book was like the video we made for Noah's service. I shared about the dove release and how we gave out music CD's with Noah's picture on them. Other parents brought their memorial service programs, pictures that were on display during their service, a Cinderella princess crown, a teddy bear 'in lieu of flowers', books, a plaster hand print and footprint.

Looking back on it 10 months later, 'preparing' for a memorial service for your child is nothing you expect to do when you say, 'Honey, let's have a baby!' It's surreal and nauseously business like but necessary. I know that in time, I will finally make a program for Noah's service that was held almost a year ago. Just because I didn't do it then doesn't mean it's too late...

Well, the REASON the photo book was in the back seat of the car was because it was my 'Show and Tell' last Saturday. You see, I had lunch with an old friend, someone I've known for over a year now, that I just met face to face. We still haven't determined the degrees of separation but this wonderful girl named Kelly Vasami (, who was from PA or DE at the time, who now resides in NY, had contacted me the week of January 12th. She was so moved by Noah's life that she wanted fly out and be our final photographer to help us capture our last moments with Noah. At first I thought, "Wow! That's kind of far to come for a shoot!" But I could hear how much she had fallen for Noah in her voice so I didn't want to take that from her. She got to the airport that morning and they had just closed the gate. She told me that she cried and beat herself up about it for some time. I'm convinced all things work together for the good of those who love God...As I sat eating some of my favorite Mexican food across from this new 'old friend', I was grateful for the few hour lay over she had 10 months later, using the same ticket from January, because we were actually able to talk and hang out. That would not have happened in January, and I likely would not have remembered it...I know that is a selfish thought because she would have been blessed in meeting Noah, I have no doubt. For some reason, it all worked out as it did. I told her about our experience with the photographer who did do the shoot and as I think about that, God had her there for a reason, too. I remember her saying she usually 'holds it together for these things', so as she bawled, she apologized to us. She didn't 'know' what came over her. Anyway, as a result of the whole experience in January, Kelly signed up with 'Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep' out East. NEW YORK, you have a wonderful GIFT, a priceless resource if any of you are ever in need of such services!

Anyway, I showed her the photo book, left it in the car, and it came through for us, the Junior High slackers who didn't do their homework assignments!

Tomorrow I'll share about two beautiful gifts we received from other parents...