Comfort and Joy

I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will
give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.
Jeremiah 31:13

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

prayers please...

I know I haven't finished my Memphis trip and I promise I will soon but right now I have something else on my mind.  A great friend of mine from college found out 2 weeks ago that she has a large brain tumor.  She is 28 years old with 2 small children.  Her children are exactly 1 year younger than my 2 and also 21 months apart like my 2.  Katie is a beautiful girl inside and out.  Truly beautiful!  I remember her vividly from college recruitment.  I was recruitment chair and I fell in love with her the first time I saw her.  I knew that no matter what she chose to go as a sorority that we would be friends.  Fast forward 10 years and we are still close.  I am so proud of her, Jeremy (her husband), and her precious family.  They are glorifying the Lord through this trial and are scared but hopeful.  I ask for you to please pray for Katie.  Pray for the decisions that are before them in regards to the diagnosis and what to do.  It is not cancer but it is so big that it must come out.  She is having terrible headaches with some vomiting and eventually it will start to affect her conscience and vision.  The doctors have said that she is too young to not do anything but every option has something scary that goes with it.  I am asking for you to lift them up during this difficult time.

Katie and Jeremy 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

playing catch up

I know, I know...where have I been!  I have had a fun, exhausting, encouraging, tiring 2 weeks.  How does that sound for a blog post?  The trip to Memphis was good but also very hard.  We fit a lot in over 2 weeks.  I mean a lot!  It was so great to see friends and family and catch up in person but it was also hard.  My love language is quality time so I loved getting time with them but it never felt like enough.  I had my kids with me for a lot of the time so the conversations were often interrupted so you left feeling like you only got a tiny glimpse of what was going on in their lives.  It was also encouraging because I feel like right now I belong in Boston.  I miss Memphis..I miss the people in Memphis but I know I am supposed to be here right now.  Supporting my husband, raising my children, experiencing the Northeast and learning more about myself and my family along the way.  We were in Memphis at exactly the 1/2 way point of living in Boston.  6.5 months living in Boston and 6.5 months left.  In one way it felt like we had just left and in others it felt like we have been gone for a while.  David wasn't able to come so 2 weeks away from the one you love and your childrens hero was hard.  There were lots of tears shed over missing him (from all of us).  I heard numerous times when Austin was being disciplined that he missed daddy...I told him I also missed daddy...and Nim...our babysitter. =)  I don't mean to be Debby downer because it really was great to see the ones we love but I am just being real.  Traveling with 2 children 3 and under by yourself is hard.  Living at someone elses house for 2 weeks is hard.  Missing your better half for 2 weeks is hard.  But seeing your best friends is great.  Staying with family that you and your children adore is great.  Seeing your mother and dog is great.  That is why its hard to say the 2 weeks were just wonderful.  They were wonderful...but they were also hard.  We Facetimed with my inlaws last night (who are out of town visiting family) and from seeing me on Facetime they commented that I looked tired.  When people can tell from a video chat that you are tired, you know you look tired.

So, how do you sum up 2 weeks in a blogpost...I don't know but I am going to try.

I spent a few days working at Le Bonheur on a mock video for the Parent Mentor program. I never knew it was so hard to be an actress =). We spent 8 hours over 2 days for six 5 minute videos. I think majority of the do overs were my fault. Hoping they turn out ok. The videos are for training of new parent mentors and for funding for the future.

 After Le Bonheur the first Thursday I headed over to the FedEx House to help with the Forrest Spence Fund dinner. It was so great to be back and see how great Donna is doing with the dinners. So many families are blessed by these dinners. I was super thrilled because a few of my high school girls came to serve as well. I loved serving these families alongside some of my favorite girls. fedex house
That Friday we had a playdate at Mari Elliot's house.  I finally got to meet her beautiful baby girl Carnes.  I didn't take any pictures because I was busy talking and hanging out with friends.  A few other friends dropped by as well.

That afternoon my sister in law and her kids came in town for the weekend.  We were so excited to have them.  I didn't take any pictures during this time either because poor Olivia came down with a terrible stomach bug.  Poor thing was sick all Friday night.  I went running the next morning before the kids were up so I didn't even know she had been sick.  My MIL called and asked if I was coming home soon because they needed reinforcements.  I picked up the kids and we headed to Gibson's Donuts.
Loving our Gibsons donuts!
Saying hello
I was almost positive we were all going to get the stomach bug but praise the lord...we didn't. I still can't believe we dodged that bullet. No one else got the bug. Both of Anne's other 2 had 1 time they got sick but we don't think that was even the bug. I am amazed we all stayed well.

On Monday we headed to the zoo.  My mother in law is the interim director of education at the zoo so we decided to see where she worked and visit the zoo.  We went a lot when we lived in Memphis but I don't think Austin remembers any of it.  He was amazed at everything.  It was like he was seeing the animals for the first time.  It was really fun to watch. Panda IMG_5770 IMG_5772 IMG_5775 IMG_5777 IMG_5778 IMG_5782 IMG_5786 IMG_5788 IMG_5793 IMG_5799 IMG_5801 IMG_5802
On Monday night we met my high school girls at our favorite Mexican restaurant, Las Delicias.  The girls were so good with the boys.  It was like I had 5 full time babysitters.  It was awesome.    IMG_5805 IMG_5807 IMG_5811

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When we were driving home Austin talked to David on the phone and told him everything the girls did with him. It was really cute.

I also got to see my best friend Halley who is pregnant with twins!!!  She didn't want her picture taken because she has been feeling rough.  Poor thing has been put through the ringer with sickness.  IMG_5831
Yes, I did take a picture of her belly. I wanted to see if she's showing yet. I am so excited about these over the moon excited. They are due on my birthday...woo hoo! They will probably come sooner but still really cool that their due date was my birthday. We are going to be sooo close. I truly can't wait to meet these precious 2!
Neely, one of the high school girls wanted her belly in the picture too. IMG_5833
Tuesday and Wednesday we did bible study, more Le Bonheur stuff, lunch with a friend, and Austin had a day at the airport with Dingdad.  On Thursday we had a playdate at Candace's house.  She has 3 precious children all close to the same age as my 2.  Everyone had so much fun.
Playing with friends
This has been a long post and we still have almost a week to go.  I will do the rest of our time on the next post.  Stay tuned...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

lack of posts...

Sorry about the lack of posts.  I post a long, heartfelt post and then just disappear for a week.  Sorry about that.  I have been busy with my little rugrats.  We survived the flight...hallelujah, praise the Lord!  I fly alone quite a bit with my 2 little guys but it still makes me nervous.  There are so many things that could go wrong and they often do. =)  This time it was actually in our favor.  We got to the airport at 7:00 for an 8:30 flight.  We made it through security which is a feat in itself.  I counted the amount of bins I use just for the 3 of us...6...we us 6 bins for myself and 2 small people to get through security.  That is a lot of stuff.

We take our time walking through the airport because we were in no hurry, go to our gate, check in, get our ticket for our curb check, and then walk down to the kids play area since we had an hour until takeoff.  Everything was going smoothly and then I receive a 1-800 phone call.  I pick up and it says Delta has important news and its letting me know  It hangs up before they can tell me the important news.  I stare at my phone trying to figure out what just happened when I then check my email and see a message from Delta.  I immediately open it to find that my flight has been rebooked.  I grab the stroller, start running down the terminal with 2 sad kids because I made them abrubtly leave the play area and run to the check-in desk.  At that moment I hear over the loud speaker my name being called.  I run up to the desk and they tell me that I have been rebooked.  By this time I have Miller in my arms flailing about and Austin asking me 1000 questions.  I look at the woman and tell her there is no way they are rebooking me...does she see me and all that this entails.  She tells me she's sorry and to please move to the rebooking area.   I go with tears in my eyes already defeated when the clerk tells me she is rebooking me on a direct flight to Memphis!!!  We were supposed to have a layover in Atlanta for an hour but because our flight from Boston was delayed we wouldn't make our flight from Atlanta to Memphis so they were booking us direct.  It was music to my ears!

It did require that I hang out in the Boston airport with my 2 munchkins for 3.5 hours but it was so much better than flying 3 hours, getting all our stuff off the plane, waiting for 1 hour in Atlanta, boarding a new flight and flying again for 1 hour.  Even waiting an additional 2 hours in Boston still had us land 20 minutes before our original flight.  We spent A LOT of time at the Boston Airport play area.  I am so thankful for this little area.
Flight delayed for 2 hours. Praise the Lord for an airport play area. Thankful I brought a lot of snacks Waiting on our plane
This next picture makes it look like my flight was a breeze with 2 little boys that sat together and watched movies...that lasted for 5 minutes. It was a great 5 minutes but it was only 5 minutes. The rest of the time was spent entertaining my 18 month old and counting down the minutes until we landed. Watching a movie on the plane
Did you know you can fit an adult and 2 small children in an airplane bathroom? It was tight but we did it...a lot. Austin announced to those sitting close to us that mommy drank Starbucks so she has to pee a lot.  Miller also blessed me with 2 lovely diapers.  Oh the joys of flying with 2 small ones.

We have enjoyed the first few days of being in Memphis and look forward to the rest of our time.  We miss daddy terribly and FaceTime with him often.  He is one loved man and sorely missed by his fan club.  We will continue to enjoy Gibson's donuts, quality time together, and seeing old friends.
Loving our Gibsons donuts! Saying hello
Be back soon with more of our Memphis adventures.

Monday, January 9, 2012

How to love someone who has a lost a child..

My precious friend Ashley just experienced the tragic loss of her cousin and the other day we were talking about how to show her aunt how much she loved her and it got me thinking about how we can help others who have lost a child. If it hadn't been for my experience with Forrest than I would never have done these things. I was that person that either tried to say the "right" thing or didn't say anything at all. Not anymore. I always ask about peoples loved ones because I know how much it means to me. I hope this list can help others know how to love their friends during a difficult time. I wrote it with the intentions that it was for someone who lost a child but I think a lot of it could work for anyone who has a lost a loved one.  I know not everyone grieves the same so this list may not be for everyone but these are some things I have observed over the last 4 years.  Feel free to add something to the comment section if you think it would help others.

Pray for him or her. There is nothing more important than praying for them. Pray for their marriage, pray for their other children, pray for peace, pray for hope, just pray for them.

Write notes, often. Each time I received a handwritten note it meant so much to me. It showed me they still cared, they were taken time to show me they cared, and it brightened my day. David and I would race each other to the mailbox to see what came that day. It was such a joy to receive heartfelt notes from others.

Send emails, FB messages, text messages, call them. Pursue them even though they may not reciprocate for a while. This will show them they are important to you and you are not giving up on them.

Give them time to be silent for a while. I feel like these next two things are going to sound like they are contradicting each other but it takes time to emerge again and for a while all they can do is get out of bed (if they are doing that). Check in on them but don’t pressure them to do anything more than just breathe. Some days its hard to do even that.

Continue to ask them to do things even if they tell you no 15 times in a row. Don’t give up on them. After you have given them some time to be silent then start asking them to do things again. They will feel like they are drowning and knowing that people are still pursuing them will help them to eventually emerge from the dark waters they are in. They will want to eventually join the world so just knowing there are things to go to will help them get back to life.

Organize meals. Meals were brought to us every day at the hospital. Every single night a warm, delicious meal was brought to us. On weekends we even had lunch and dinner brought to us because hospital food is expensive and honestly not the tastiest. This was a huge blessing. I have heard of others having a cooler on the back porch and meals being dropped in it so the family didn’t have to talk to people if they didn’t want to. Meals are something you can’t imagine doing when you are grieving so terribly.

Stock the fridge with easy food to prepare for snacks, breakfast, etc. I had no desire to go to the grocery store and see people so it was so nice when people would do it for me.

Resist the urge to say anything positive. For example, “If he had lived, he would have had a lot of disabilities and that would have been so hard so its probably better that he is in Heaven” or "Well, at least they are in a better place" This is not something you want to hear. You know your loved one is in a better place but honestly; you want them here with you. Be honest. Say things like, “This sucks” “I am so sorry” or even “I don’t’ know what to say but I hurt with you”. Anything is better than trying to say the right thing because honestly there is nothing right to say.

Don’t feel like you have to say something spiritual whenever you see or talk to them. For example, “Lean on the Lord” or quote scripture to them. At least for me I wasn’t just leaning on the Lord, I was falling on him. I knew all the scripture people would write me and I appreciated it but as I said above, just be honest and don’t feel like you have to be spiritual with them.

Don’t ignore what happened and not say something at all. Even 4 years later I love to talk about him. He was my son and such a huge part of me. I love when people bring him up and tell me about the impact he made. I think people are afraid that if they bring it up it will make us sad but we think about him/her all the time and it’s nice to hear others talk about him too. I don’t want people to forget my son.

If they have other children than offer to help with them. Take the sibling out for the day and give them a day that is about them only. The sibling is hurting too so it’s nice to give them something special just for them. It also gives the parents time for themselves where they can openly express their feelings without worrying what the siblings will think.

Offer to help them with housework, yard work, fix the car, any kind of work! One of the best things was when others cleaned my house. I didn’t have the energy to do it but I love having a clean house (who doesn’t) so it was such a blessing. We had many who helped clean our house and do yard work during Forrest’s hospitalization and afterwards. If you live far away than you could even hire a cleaning service to clean the house.

Remember special anniversaries. The child’s birthday and their coming home day. There is nothing more special than knowing others remember him and haven’t forgotten. Sweet friends of mine have done lots of things on his anniversary. Bought a bush that blooms every year in the Fall (around his birthday), sent cupcakes when we lived out of town, sent lots of cards, gave me a massage, etc. Even just a note saying you remember and are praying for them is so appreciated. I am so touched by those that reach out to me on his anniversary days.

Just last week David and I received a letter in the mail with a picture of Forrest's name written in the sand at a beach in Australia. A lady there lost her own child and now writes the names of children who have died too young in the sand. My precious friend Jaime had her write Forrest's name.  This was such a special gift to receive in the mail out of the blue. We love it! Thank you Jaime!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Five for Friday

1.  We are leaving for Memphis in 5 days!!!  I am so excited to see friends and family.  Its been too long since we have been there.  Sad to be leaving David though.  He can't get off work so its just me flying solo with the boys.  Any prayers would be greatly appreciated.

2.  I signed up for a half marathon!  What?!?  I know, crazy.  I said I needed motivation to run through this cold winter up here so there's my motivation.  3 other girlfriends from Boston are running it with me.  Tomorrow we are doing our first long run together.  So thankful to have other girls to keep me accountable to running.  I am also thankful for the beauty I see when I run in Boston...
Charles River Found on my run
3.  I adore my senior girls back home in Memphis.  I miss them so much and wish I wasn't missing their senior year.  I saw this on Pinterest and immediately thought of them (and myself too).  I pray they will always know that God didn't mess up when He created them.  They are perfect just the way they are.

4.  I have a budding artist in my midst.  He received an art easel from his grandparents and loves to paint.  He has made some masterpieces. =) My little artist
5.  Very thankful for the indoor playspace we found at a local mall.  This is going to be a huge blessing this winter.
Driving the car
Happy Friday!  Anything you want to add to the list?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Christmas part 2...

*Lots of pictures mainly for family.  You are warned. =)

Christmas morning started how sweet...eating coffee cake and monkey bread together, David reading the Christmas story out of the Jesus Storybook Bible, getting ready to open gifts when all of a sudden...bam...Miller threw up (a few times).  We have no idea where it came from or what happened...we were so worried that he had the stomach bug but after he got it out of his system, he was fine.  We cleaned him, the floor, and some of the presents up and then started opening gifts.  He had to take off his reindeer pj's because of getting sick on them so thats why his attire is a bright orange shirt with camo pants.  Daddy picked that out.
There were so many gifts. Our sweet boys were so blessed by our wonderful family near and far. They really outdid themselves this year. Austin LOVED every minute of it and really enjoyed opening gifts. He was so precious because he would get so excited after every gift was opened. Miller enjoyed it too. There is nothing more special than seeing Christmas through the eyes of a child.

There were lots of trucks and Thomas the train stuff... IMG_5600 IMG_5611 IMG_5613
a crazy NYC monkey from Uncle TophIMG_5601
some new plates and placemats IMG_5669 IMG_5606
Superhero capes made by mommy
new backpacks for all 3 of my boys IMG_5619 IMG_5617 IMG_5623
a cookbook from our favorite bakery in Boston IMG_5622
lots of new books
new boots for all of us
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lots of musical instruments IMG_5648 IMG_5650 IMG_5651 IMG_5658
Jewelry, gift cards, ornaments, a beautiful frame and a few other things were given as well.  It really was so wonderful.

By the end of the day, we were tuckered out. IMG_5671
All the boys (young and old) took naps while Gigi and I worked on Christmas dinner.

The next day we spent lots of time playing with our new toys.
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Poor Uncle Toph and Gigi were awoken every morning by these 2 little rascals often playing one of their musical instruments.
On the 27th Uncle Toph headed back to NYC. We were so sad to see him and Rico go. The boys LOVED having both of them here. IMG_5691 IMG_5712
After Uncle Toph left mom and I took the boys to the Children's Museum.  It was her first time to go.  She was very impressed with the museum but it was crazy busy.  I guess everyone decided to go since it was Christmas break.  We were ready to leave after only an hour. Green gogglesWorking hard
We also did a little painting with the boys.
and Gigi played horse with them.
David and I enjoyed 2 date nights.  One night we met up with friends at a new BBQ restaurant in town.  It's definitely not Memphis BBQ but it was still good.  One of the chefs from Top Chef opened it.  The second night was New Years Eve.  I made reservations a little late so the only one I could get was 6:00.   This was fine by me because it meant getting a break from dinner, baths, and bedtime routine.  Its nice every once in a while to get a break from that.  We ate dinner and then decided to go to a movie...I know, kinda lame on NYE but David and I loved it.  We love movies but only go if family is in town to watch the boys so it was a treat for us.
Mom left on New Years Day and we were very sad to see her go. It was a wonderful trip with lots of great memories made.