Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Real Hope For Haiti

I am grateful for some cyber friends in blog world who have made me aware of the incredible needs in a country not far from our own--Haiti. Their stories from their recent mission trip have inspired Eric and I to want to do something (see this post, this post and this post). This week, they are dedicating their blogs to Haiti and the needs of a specific rescue center there that houses and takes care of children who are ill from malnourishment, who are left because their parents cannot provide for them, etc. This rescue center is called Real Hope for Haiti (RHFH). Prior to reading their blogs over the past year, I had absolutely no clue how poor and in need the Haitians are. A country that is right off of our border. There is extreme need--please check out the blogs of Aaron Ivey, Jamie Ivey, and Steven Bush this week, as they write about some ordinary people doing some extraordinary things in God's love. I also challenge you to read and reflect on these Words as you read their entries.

Matthew 25:32-46
“Before him will be gathered all nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come , you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me and I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. Then the righteous will answer him, saying Lord when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and gave you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you? And the king will answer them, Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers you did it to me. Then he will say to those on his left, depart from me you cursed into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you have me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me. Then they also will answer saying, Lord when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you? Then he will answer them, saying, Truly I say to you as you did not do it to me. And these will go away to enternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

My Journey Through Loss

The last three months we have been operating in 'survival mode'. Everything has been kind of a blur. We have just been literally getting through each day as it comes the very best we can. My life was forever changed on February 17, 2008. In my mind, whenever I am discussing something from the past, my mind mentally asks 'was that before or after Feb. 17?' Because that date forever changed me and how I view life. That was the day my mom breathed her last breath here on earth. That was the date that I understood the heartache of losing someone you love. That was the date that my heart ached and I wondered if it would ever stop. Up to that point in life, I had a more carefree, light hearted outlook on life. I knew others who had lost loved ones. I cried over tragedies and losses that others had and were experiencing. I thought I understood loss. But now I realize that I didn't understand it at all. Loss can only be understood by actually experiencing it. As Beth Moore would say, 'you can't learn about this in the classroom, you can only experience it by taking a field trip'. What a field trip I have been on since that dismal day in February. And it's a field trip I would never have chosen. I feel like I'm part of an exclusive club now--the club of people who have lost a parent. It is a club I don't want to be a member of, but that I have no control over. Now when I talk with a friend who has lost a parent, they immediately give me that look that says 'I totally know what you are going through'. And I know that they know and it is comforting. They are a part of the exclusive club too.

The few days leading up to my mom's funeral was uncharted waters for my siblings and me. We had to make decisions we had never had to make before. We had to walk through the 'casket' room at the funeral home and pick out a casket. I remember walking through this room feeling numb, like I was in a dream. Just two days prior I had been in Nashville celebrating my oldest son's birthday. And now I was picking out a casket. Decision after decision we had to make... What kind of casket? What color casket? What and who to include in the obituary? Do we have visitation? What time do we do visitation? When do we have the funeral? What kind of monument? Where in the cemetary? What do we have written on the monument? Before Feb. 17, my opinion on all of these decisions to make would have been: 'you know, none of these things really matter, the color of a casket, what a monument says, etc. etc.' That was before. That was before I became a member of 'the club'. Now, it became extremely important, our sole mission. We wanted every little detail to reflect who my mother had been to us and make her funeral, her last 'hoorah', a total celebration of her. I learned that all of these details matter a great deal to those who have lost someone they love.

I remember walking into my mom's house for the first time after she had died. Seeing her shoes sitting beside the chair she always sat in. Sitting by her chair was an unopened coke--her drink of choice. The shoes--that is what dug a knife into my stomach--seeing the shoes. I don't know why, but I could hardly stand seeing them sitting there.

I remember walking into the viewing room at the funeral home for the first time. That was another first that I would give anything to not have to experience.

I remember standing at the top of the hill in the cemetary with my siblings, discussing which plot to choose. I remember the bone chilling wind ripping through us, making us shiver uncontrollably--or maybe we were just shivering uncontrollably and the wind was helping it along.

I remember not feeling like nor being able to eat for two days straight.

The funeral was exactly everything she would have wanted it to be. There was 'Elvis' music playing softly in the background. There were pictures of all of her children and grandchildren everywhere, her pride and joy. Flowers filled and overflowed the room. My mom loved flowers--that would have made her happy. Reverend Shaw, whom my mom had always been fond of, did my mothers service. He quoted several scriptures, including Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace."

This verse is especially meaningful to me. It is the verse I chose to have read at our wedding. It is the exact verse my mother-in-law had quoted to me the day after my mom died. It was the verse the Reverend chose to read at my mom's funeral. I love how God does that. It is His way of showing He is present--His pep talk of encouragement when you're just about to call it quits.

Reverend Shaw also read 'Lord of the Dance' and quoted other scriptures regarding 'dancing', as my mother owned a dance studio and it was her sole passion aside from raising her five kids. All five of us children stood up and took turns reading a tribute we had written to our mom and a poem my brother had chosen. I remember reading over 'our tribute' earlier that morning, thinking that I wished it had some real examples of what life had been like growing up with my mom. But God had it all under control. To our surprise, a women who had babysat us for several years stood up and talked for five minutes about all of those funny, quirky things that captured life with our crazy brood. Again, it was amazing to me, how God made the funeral fit together like a glove. Reverend Shaw, who my mother had not been in contact with for several years, made the service represent exactly who my mom was. And then bringing in what we had to say along with our babysitter...well, all I can say is 'it was a God thing' through and through. Truly. There are moments in life when you feel God's presence so tangibly that you can almost touch Him. Her funeral was one of those moments. Strangely, and again, I know only God can do this, I felt joyful that day. The Bible says in Nehemiah 8:10: 'The joy of the Lord is my strength'. I can attest to that. He somehow brings you joy in the dimmest of circumstances.

That celebratory 'high' lasted only through that day...and then came some of the hardest weeks. I had to go home and do my life. I had to be a wife, take care of five kids, homeschool, take kids to practices, cook, clean...and when Eric traveled I had to do it all on my own. Everyone was counting on me and I didn't feel like being counted on. Those couple of weeks after the funeral were just ones of complete sadness. And I really questioned my faith in God. Why did He do this and why did He let it happen the way He had? I just literally felt like quitting; throwing in the towel on my faith. Why? Why? Why? So many questions. And no answers. Believe me. I really let God know how I felt! And I believe God wants us to do that. He knows how we are feeling anyway, so why not get brutally honest? He wants us to be brutally honest with Him so He can meet us right where we are. He, again, made himself so tangible to me right when I was about to say 'forget it'...He continued to whisper to me 'The joy of the Lord is your strength', over and over again. Moment by moment He got me through this time. It wasn't easy. It was messy. Let's just say I didn't win any parenting awards during this time! I guess you could say many things in my life had to take a backseat so that I could walk through this grief.

After these couple of weeks of intense sadness and faith questioning, my emotions turned a 180. I became mad--mad at just about everyone. Mad at my husband. Mad at my children. Mad at friends who didn't call me. Mad at friends who called me but didn't say the right things. Honestly, there were a few people I was so mad at that I wanted to punch them in the face (thankfully, I didn't :) ). This anger came out of nowhere and it surprised me. I mean, I know I can get mad, but not that mad! Once again, God guided me through it. He kept showing me over and over: the joy of the Lord is your strength...the joy of the Lord is your strength.

A month after my mom died, my brothers, sister and I began the process of going through and cleaning out her house...a process we are still going through. This has definitely been hard. But, surprisingly to me, it has also been therapeutic and some of the most memorable times with my siblings. My mom kept EVERYTHING. Every report card, every craft, every school project and paper. Now, I am not an advocate for keeping everything your children make, BUT I will have to say it has made me rethink my 'clutterless' mentality. I enjoyed finding the twenty seven poems I wrote in third grade. And the letter I wrote to Captain and Tenille in first grade which included a first grade picture taped to it...(obviously, my mom never sent it--so that's why they never wrote back:) ) Looking at old pictures, talking and laughing about memories with my brothers and sister was some of my most treasured time spent with them. I feel like it created a tighter bond between us all. We laughed and laughed at some of the things we came across. You know those things that only your family can laugh at because only they 'get it'...

I have experienced the Body of Christ in a way I have never experienced before. The outpour of love from people has been nothing short of supernatural. I have received hundreds of sympathy cards (at the beginning, these cards got me through the day), offers to watch my children, weeks of meals, house cleaning....and I have received sweet little momentos--a cross with a bible verse, a beautiful flower arrangement for my kitchen table, a tree to plant in memory of my mom, a bonsai plant along with several other plants, starbucks 'just because'... it has been incredible. A close friend told me that this is how God is tangibly pouring His love out on you--through the body of Christ. I sure have felt loved.

It is true, I am finding: time does heal. I am starting to feel a normalcy slip back into my life these days. The emptiness is still there but it is not as vast as it once was. Sometimes I feel its sting more than other times. My daughter's piano recital that I couldn't share with my mom. Ouch. When I ran in the mini--there was no one to call that would be proud of me. Ouch. My brother's wedding day. .. Mother's Day. Double, double ouch...When I am driving somewhere and I start to call her on the phone and then realize I can't...He continues to show me at new heights that I CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens me...and apart from Him, I can do Nothing. I can honestly say that the Lord has been my All in All; He has carried me through every single part of this journey.

"My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He ALONE is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken....Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge!" Psalm 62:1-2, 8

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Maria Sue Chapman

Please be lifting the Chapman family up in prayer. They lost their youngest daughter, Maria, yesterday. She had just turned five years old ten days prior. She was accidentally struck by a vehicle being driven by her older brother as he was backing out of their driveway. This family is absolutely precious. Their obedience to follow the Lord's calling to adopt three children has been an inspiration to so many people. Not only have they followed God's calling to adopt, they have also helped countless others adopt through their foundation Shenanoah's Hope .

You can express your condolences to the Chapman's at this blog .

Our Kindergarten Graduate!

I Saw What I Saw

A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine who is adopting showed me this video. It is one that makes me think about life outside of my 'own little world'.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Mother/Daughter Look Alike

My sister in law and niece look more alike than any mother and daughter I know. And this is such a great picture I just had to post it! :)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tribute to my Mom

My mother passed away on Feb. 17, 2007 of this year. She was the picture of sacrifice. She never, ever did anything for herself. She sacrificed her personal time, her money, her whole life really, for us. She was one of the most giving persons I know. She raised five children all by herself and somehow kept her sanity--well, maybe partly kept her sanity :) . She always had time to talk on the phone, watch her grandkids, listen to our 'funny' stories. She had an off-the-wall sense of humor. She had a beautiful smile and fun laugh. She didn't have a materialistic bone in her body. Now, don't get me wrong. She wasn't perfect. There were times she made me mad. But one thing is for sure, she was ALWAYS there for us. And she loved us more than her own life. Over the past few months, I have learned so much from thinking back over her life. I have gotten a small human 'glimpse' of Jesus and his sacrifice for me in the sacrificial life my mom lived for my siblings and me. Jesus died for me so that I could live; my mom died to her own 'life' so that I could have the life I now have.
Mother's Day was really hard. I was on the verge of tears or in tears most of the day. The pain of her passing is still so very fresh. At first, right after she died, every day was hard. Then, it seemed like there were 'some' days out of the week that were hard. In recent weeks my 'hard days' have turned into 'hard moments'. Now I have 'moments' and I never ever know what is going to set off a 'moment'. Mother's Day was hard, yet because of Jeff and Reagan's wedding being the day before, it took the sting out of it just a little. It hit me today that God purposely planned for them to be married the day before Mother's Day. Because it is just another picture of how she wanted the focus on us and not on her. If their wedding hadn't been on Saturday, we would have all been sad and focused on our loss this weekend. Instead, we were able to all be together and celebrate the 'birth' of a marriage, a new addition to our family. The focus was on family, togetherness, memories, some tears, yet much laughter too. It was exactly the way she would have wanted it. Again, her sacrificial self lives on in this past weekend.
I guess the weekend was two-fold: God's gift of happiness in new 'beginnings' amidst our sorrow and the best Mother's Day present that my mom could ever have, even though she is not physically here to witness it: Her youngest son getting married!


Monday, May 12, 2008

Congrats Jeff and Reagan!

My brother, Jeff, married Reagan on Saturday May 10, 2008. They couldn't have picked a more beautiful day; it was sunny yet high 60's/low 70' humidity...perfect!
Here is a recap of the day:
Reagan and all us bridesmaids met at 10:30 AM to get our hair done. It is always so much fun to have your hair done before a big event, and especially fun to do it with those you will be with!
Sophie got her hair done, too.

The Wedding began at 3:30--boy, that time got her quickly! The service was absolutely beautiful, yet simple. Not frilly, yet elegant. It was perfect. It was so 'Reagan' and I loved it because of that. It was also extremely moving and emotional with my mother having died so recently. We all felt her absence. She would have loved everything about it. Partially because she was so happy and excited about them getting married and partially because Reagan and my mom are a lot alike and she would have loved the ceremony. I think that is what drew Jeff to Reagan from the beginning--that she is so similar to my mom in so many ways. While my mom wasn't their physically she was definitely there in spirit. Reagan's niece, Kylie, and Reagan and Jeff's daughter, Mindy, were flower girls. Shane, our nephew, was the ring bearer.

Maid of honor, Dana, and sweet Mindy Moo:(our family posing for a quick pic:)
Brian, my brother, was the best man and Amanda, Reagan's sister was the matron of honor. Both of them had very sweet, memorable yet also hysterically funny speeches at the reception!

People traveled near and far. We were blessed and surprised by these attendees:
Bobby drove up from Florida
Tracy flew in from Texas
Dad and Dee flew in from California.
Check out that white tux (Retro is back!)

After the 'food fight',
everyone cut a rug to popular hits such as 'Chicken Dance' , 'Rocky Top', 'YMCA'.

...and DJ 'Jim' kept things cooking :) !
It was a FUN, Fuquayish kind of night...


You're going to fit right in :)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


We had a party for Meme on Sunday afternoon to celebrate '62'. Happy Birthday! We love you so much!


Today was Crazy Hair Day at school. Check it out:

This boy doesn't need crazy hair to be crazy!
Three year old 'thinks' he's smiling:
Here's to a snot-filled smile!

Monday, May 5, 2008


Meet the Fab Four. The dynamic team of Eric, Mike, Trey and Adam. They ran the Flying Pig Marathon yesterday in Cinncinati, Ohio! Yea! What a foursome! While they live in different cities (two live in henderson, KY, one in Nashville, TN and one in Louisville, KY), they 'trained together' by keeping up with each other's training strategy and doing their 'long weekend runs' together when they could.

Myself, my sister in law Kelle (Adam's wife) and Kelle's sister Whitney (Trey's wife) along with four of our kids wound our way through Cincy to mile 10, mile 20 and the Finish to cheer for them. The Fab Four stayed together almost the entire race, spurring one another on. They finally began breaking away from each other around mile 21 or 22 and finished as follows: Adam - 3:40:13; Mike - 3:41:06; Trey - 3:41:45; Eric - 3:42:17. Wow. That's just about all I can say. Wow.
I am so inspired and impressed with each of them for different reasons. Adam, because he always finds a way to dig down deep inside of himself and finish strong. He has a ferocious drive and determination. I'm pretty sure I've never seen him have a 'bad' race. He is intensely focused and is able to keep the others 'on task'. Way to go, Adam! Mike is SO impressive because this is his very first marathon! His first 'mini' was just a year ago and now he's cranking out 26.2 like it's nothing. On top of all that, his wife was unable to come because she began having some pre labor contractions. (She is pregnant with #3). Still, even without his 'backbone' of support, he was able to stay focused and crank out an incredible marathon. Mike, you are a bulldozer! Now Trey is one of those runners whom I'm pretty sure always has a smile on his face, even when it's painful. He puts his heart into it. He runs because he loves it and his love for it is contagious. He keeps it fun for himself and those around him. Thanks for making it joyful, Trey! Eric finished with his best personal time ever! He never ceases to amaze me. He is the most disciplined, consistent, rock solid day in, day out person I know. Seeing these qualities displayed tangibly through the marathon was, well, it was something--I just don't think I can put pen to paper to describe you, and so, so proud of you!
Now, Kelle, Whit, myself, along with our kids had quite the adventure. Maneuvering in and out of side streets, up and down hills in the big, white machine (our 12 passenger van) was no small feat. We withstood bone chilling morning temps as well as many interesting sights to withhold such as these:

Cheering on runners was so, so fun!!! It was fulfilling to encourage people who are trying to accomplish a big goal.

The Fab Four just might have to make a comeback in the future. Why don't you make it a yearly thing? I vote for NYC or DC next time. Here's to a great weekend of sweat, grit and accomplishment! It was so inspiring, I think you've convinced me to make the crossover from mere 'spectator' to 'competitor'; at least once, anyway! I'll have to find a different group to train with though. There is no way I could hang with the Fab Four!