Friday, December 31, 2010


We have been praying and praying for it.  Since we drilled wheat in September almost no moisture has come.  The fields have been dry, the dust blowing.  We got an inch or so the beginning of December but not enough to make a difference.  Until now.  The last day of the year, the first real snow of the winter.  Thank you Lord!!!


Monday, December 27, 2010


"How did you cope with a loss and a birth at the same time".  This question was asked by a beautiful woman named Rachel who's writing has carried me over the last year.  She writes of the most inspiring things...  Her blog is called Waiting for Morning.  My friend Brooke told me to visit her blog a long time ago and read this post about a lemon tree.  I cannot count how many times I have thought to myself, I have been cut but my roots are growing deeper.  I will push through this.  I can do this.  The lemon tree has given me so much strength and I am grateful she wrote it.  And if you're reading this, thank you Brooke.

At any rate, it turns out that Rachel reads my blog and she left a comment and asked "How did you cope with a loss and a birth at the same time".  It is the first time that anyone has asked me this.  I cannot believe it is the first time anyone has ever asked.  And yet I wonder, how can the whole world not think it?  Sarah was born, less than 24 hours later God came and whispered in Marie's ear and she got up and followed Him Home.  Who does that happen to?  Who has to deal with that?  And the truth is, I don't really know how I cope.  I don't fit in anymore among the mother's who have never lost a child, but even among those who have I cannot help but feel that I am somehow different.  Just because of how it happened, how God twined my daughters together, how His plan fell into place.

There are moments.  Real.  Honest.  Horrible.  Moments when the pain is so intense that my chest seems split in two and I scream in a voice that scares me because it is too much and to terrible to comprehend.  The baby, the beautiful little brown haired girl that I carried inside me, the princess that I could not get enough of, the hand I held constantly for two years, five months and twenty five days... she is gone.  And on Christmas morning I screamed in a cemetery.  I clung to Luke's fleece jacket and screeched in a voice that is not my own because sometimes it hurts that much.

Then I took a deep breath.  I wiped the tears on the back of my hand, I wrapped my scarf tighter, fluffed my hair, blew a kiss to Heaven and told that little girl I love her, and I got back in the car with the other two and held it together.

How do you cope with loss and birth at the same time?  To have one arrive and barely have celebrated it and have your heart ripped out at the others leaving is surreal.  I did not put Sarah down for weeks.  Rarely did I let her out of my arms.  I held her like a lifeline.  I rocked and crooned and cried and held on to that tiny baby with everything I had.  And Josie... she was so lost.  And who could tell her no to anything after her sister had just gone.  She developed a huge attitude and I was having to deal with her, and worry about her, and try to keep it together enough that she would be okay.  And Luke was so lost and my heart hurt so much for him because Marie was his.  His baby.  And his baby was gone.

I don't know how we made it through that.  Still make it through that, because we still have to.  Every day we still have to make it through.  I dreaded being asked how old Sarah was, because answering meant telling them just how long it had been since Marie was gone.  I am so grateful now because I can just say "Sarah is one".  I don't have to tell them it's been almost 16 months...

My body was so confused for a long time.  The pain of recovering from Sarah's birth was sharper, the cramps crueler.  My legs ached, my back hurt, my womb felt like it was being pierced by a knife.  I think my ability to handle the normal pain of recovering from childbirth was just not there.  I was not able to move through the pain as well.  I would look in the mirror and despite having Sarah in my arms I couldn't comprehend that I was not still pregnant.  The grief of loosing Marie took so much energy to process I never really came to grips with the fact that I had just had a baby.  It took me a long time, and Sarah was probably eight months old before I really absorbed that I was not pregnant anymore and in passing I was no longer shocked to see my profile. Sarah was probably eight months before I really began to rejoice in that tiny little white-blond haired girl.  The easy baby with an easy smile.  It is horrible to say that it took me that long to really celebrate her.  Oh, I loved her so much from her first breath but my heart was too broken to celebrate much of anything for a very long time.  Praise God for her health, yes.  Thank God for her being there because I knew she was saving me, yes.  Coo, kiss, cuddle, sing to, play with, oh yes.  But really celebrate with joy in my heart?  A long time coming.

How do you say hello to one and goodbye to another?  For twenty minuets our three girls were together in one room on earth, then Luke took the big girls home and they have not been together since.  I dislike very much being a family of four here.  I dislike very much when people point out the large age difference between the two children they see.  Six and one?  What a space!  I want to scream at them, I have a three year old!  But how can they know? 

I have gotten much better at just letting things go.  I tell people about Marie only if they seem worthy of knowing about my special little girl.  The one who was "made for so much more than all of this".

How do you cope?  Tonight it is after ten pm and Josie cried when I prayed with her at bedtime because we saw Tangled and in that movie the King and Queen lost their Princess and we have lost our Princess too...  And she cried because she has a whole life to live before she goes to Heaven and she is not very happy about being away from her sister for such a long time.  She is more than I little jealous that Luke and I do not have as many years left.  How do you cope?

I don't think we do.  I think that God carries me when the pain from my broken heart is too much and my legs are too weak.  I feel Jesus near when I am shaken and yet need the strength from somewhere to pretend that I am not.  When it is all too much I know the shade from the shadow of His wings and I hide there (Psalm 57:1).  Our faith has become more of a desperate thing, so much simpler though, and so much deeper.  I cling to the Word in a way I never did before.

I have no idea how I got from August, 2009 to where I am now; teetering on the edge of 2011.  How am I the mother of an almost seven year old and a feisty one year old?  How can my beloved brown haired girl have spent two Christmas' in Heaven rejoicing among the angels?  Life is a funny thing.  It has taken turns that I did not expect, and somehow I have made it through what I once believed would kill me.

I am blessed by a deeper appreciation for so much.  For the miracle of my children, for the scent of their hair and their being here to hug.  I am so taken with my husband.  The man I was made by God for.  His strength and his quiet determination.  His annoying desire to tease me when I am sad until I get either angry or smile.  His being there for me in ways I had no idea that a man ever could, and for the father I have been blessed to see him become.

I don't know how we make it through the troubles...  I have been carried, sheltered, held.  I am blessed to have seen God at work in my life and to have felt His hand on me.  I love Jesus so much more than I could have imagined... and I believe Him when He says:

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Does it answer the question, How did you cope with a loss and a birth at the same time?  I don't know.  I don't have an answer I suppose because I don't think I coped.  Somehow we just made it through, and every day we make it through another day.  I hope that I am like the lemon tree because my roots are deeper and I feel stronger.  My branches are beginning to stretch skyward again... and someday, just maybe I will bear fruit.  And just like the birth and the loss, just like a lemon,  I know that the fruit will be bittersweet.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I have wanted to post pictures but haven't gotten them off my camera.  The last week has just been a whirlwind!  Saturday was Josie's dance recital.  She has only been doing tap/ballet/tumbling for two months so it was a simple little thing to showcase what they had learned so far.  She was great!  You can tell that she just loves dancing... 

I was taken by surprise though, sitting in the audience watching the class below Josie's dance.  They are three and four years old... and sitting among the other mothers of three year olds as they watched their little girls dance I just cried.  I have a three year old too... And I wish so much that I could have seen Marie dance there with the rest of them.  I wish I could have seen her smile and twirl in a Christmas dress with little black tap shoes on her feet...  That wasn't what she was meant for though.  She was meant for different things and God's plan did not include her staying here long.  I miss her though, and I wish I could have seen her dance.

Sunday night was our church program.  In our church children start attending Sunday school when they are three.  They participate in the Christmas program for the first time, saying their tiny little lines.  This year they held stars...  I was very busy sitting with the kindergarten class.  All boys.  Busy, chatty, wonderful boys.  Josie sat behind me with the first grade girls.  She sang her heart out and said her line perfectly.  I was so proud of her.  Still, it weighs on my heart.  There in the nursery pew, there could have been a little girl there with brown curls and a Christmas dress.  And I try not too let myself think of it but I wish I could have seen her in a Christmas pageant.  It just wasn't the plan...

So I try not to let my mind make wishes.  I try so hard to be grateful for what we did have with Marie, how much God blessed us in having her.  How blessed we are to still have Josie and Sarah and to see them grow.  It's just hard sometimes not to see what could have been.  The heart wants what the heart wants...  I cannot wait to grab her up in Heaven and hug her...  As much as I wish to see her in a sparkly little gown, to paint those tiny fingernails red the truth is Marie was different...

"You're beautiful...
You are made for so much more than all of this
You're beautiful...
You are treasured, you are sacred, you are His"

We wish all of you who read here a very merry Christmas.  May each and every one of you have a very blessed holiday!


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Favorite picture...

My favorite picture of 2010...  I think it is this one:

Just her... sitting there on 30 year old concrete...  In the sun and wind and the grass green.  Her daydreams that remind me of young.  The things I knew before I knew things.  The watching of ants, the tickle of the tall grass, the whisper of summer winds.  Her hair matching the golden wheat, long blond, soft as gold.  Sun-kissed skin, plastic beads dancing on her wrist.  This is my blessing, my child...  The feel of sun on her back in a quiet moment of reflection...  As it has been a year of reflection, a thinking time, a healing time.  God's love on us like sun's heat on cotton shirts...  Summer day heat, hope, home...

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Monday in December...

We had a good weekend.  Saturday we were around the house, Josie and I made some fudge.  I spent some time working on a few projects I wanted to finish.  Luke and Sarah have been fighting a cold so they rested, took it easy.  After how busy November was I am enjoying these slower days.  Yesterday was really nice so we got outside and went for a nice walk at the fishing pond.  I got a couple of really good shots of the girls and Cooper had a good time running.

We have the house decorated for Christmas, and I am so grateful to have a lift in my heart this season.  Last year Christmas was pretty tough...  December's have been hard for the last few years.

In December, 2007 we got the confirmation that Marie had Leigh's Disease.  It was overwhelming...  Looking back now Luke and I were talking about how little she was.  Only nine months old and tiny.  I remember the drive home from Denver sitting in the back of the car with her.  Talking about what we would do now...
Marie 3 years ago today...

Marie had some very rough days.  When we turned her care fully over to God, along with our wonderful Dr J and the brilliant neurologist Dr M she stabilized.  She thrived then and in God's hands, without the meddling of so many physicians we got to see her smile and enjoy her very, very good months before she was called home.

Some days it is still very hard to believe that she's gone.  So hard to believe that Marie has been in Heaven for over a year...  In so many ways I feel like I just kissed her goodnight a moment ago.

December's have been hard, but there is so much to celebrate too... It feels good to be able to find some joy this season.  I was so very lost last year.


Monday, December 06, 2010

Chocolate Pudding Cake...

Yesterday I chatted briefly with my friend Clarissa about a cake that I make often.  It's become one of those desserts that has a lot of memories and emotions tied to it for us.

The original recipe was typed on a typewriter sometime after Luke's Grandmother and Grandfather were married in the early 40's.  It was so weathered and used that when she made me a copy not long after Luke and I were married it didn't copy well and my recipe has her hand typing with smudges from the years.

I have made this cake for birthdays (it is one of my Father-In-Laws favorites).  I have made this cake on snowy days (it is at it's best eaten warm).  Josie and I have made it together.  I have made it alone in a huge hurry to have something on hand for this or that occasion.  One of the last times I made it was for the second birthday of Princess Marie.  She adored chocolate, and her Great-Grandma's Chocolate Pudding Cake was perfect for her. 

This cake recipe is something special, made again and again by at least three generations of women in my husbands family.  It has stood through 70 plus years of changing tastes, and really, I've never found anything quite like it.

Chocolate Pudding Cake

1 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 C granulated sugar
2 tbsp cocoa
1/2 C milk (or water, or orange juice, or 1 egg plus enough water to make half cup)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp shortening, melted
1/2 C walnut meats (optional)
     3/4 C brown sugar
     1/4 C cocoa
     1 3/4 C very hot water

Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and cocoa.  Add 1/2 C milk/water, vanilla, and shortening; mix until smooth (will be very thick).  Add nut meats.  Pour into greased 8 inch square pan.  Mix brown sugar and cocoa, sprinkle over cake batter.  Pour hot water over entire batter.  Bake in moderate oven (350) for 40-45 minuets (cake will not be "set" when fully cooked).

This recipe gives you a cake on top, and a creamy chocolate "pudding" below.


Friday, December 03, 2010

Fingerprint Friday...

I am finally getting around to participating in Fingerprint Friday again, a little event that I love.  It is so cool to visit the different blogs and see God working in peoples lives...

To learn how to participate in Fingerprint Friday please go here.

"I can see the fingerprints of God
When I look at you
I can see the fingerprints of God
And I know its true
You're a masterpiece
That all creation quietly applauds
And you're covered with the fingerprints of God"

 That really says it all doesn't it?   Is my Josephine a special soul or what?