Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Expensive shoes

When I first decided to blog a couple years ago, I said something along the lines of "without children and/or an exciting life, a blog is just plain boring".  So here's a glimpse into my rather uneventful life recently: 

Several Hope Mommies, Tisha Shuffield and I have decided to run a half-marathon together in March.  Probably one of the craziest decisions I have ever decided on; but now I am stuck because I bought really expensive shoes. ;)  (If I pay more than $40 for tennis shoes, then they better get USED!)  I have also decided that I should do a detox program to kick start my 'new healthier self'.  Hopefully all the pain will pay off when I make it across that finish line in March...that is, if they don't kick me off the track first for taking so long.

I have only averaged a couple miles a day so far, but that is a couple miles that my body is not used to.  So it's big for me. :)  I have a long ways to go, but after each run I feel better.  

Today was a super busy day, but I still squeezed in a run.  I need to force myself to be consistent, since so far I still loathe running.  

I'm grateful a college student posted this on my Facebook wall today:

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”  Luke 10:38-42

Sometimes I just need a reminder to realize that "busy" isn't always important. 

OH! And did you know that it costs $100 to sign up for the half-marathon?!  Now I should be in that business...making people pay to suffer. ;)  That "goody bag" better include a spa day, some Advil and maybe a defibrillator.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

4 months, sweet son

Tisha loving Holden

Four months seems so long, yet so short.  Really, I am sure to the rest of the world, it is a long time to still be writing about.  But to me, it feels like yesterday.  

I have yet to go through a single thought without thinking of Holden.  Someone told me this past week that she didn't want to bring up his name, worried that it might remind me about him.  If only she knew that there is not a thing in the world that distracts me from thinking of him.  I still LOVE to hear Holden's name spoken.

Her words made me think of my Heavenly Father.  I haven't once stopped thinking about my son, and I know from talking to my friends who are mommies, that they too never stop thinking of their children.  Yet, His loves for us is far greater than our love for our children.  What an amazing peace it is to think that our Heavenly Father is ALWAYS thinking about us. He "obsesses" over us more than we obsess over our own children.  He knows our every thought, pain and joy.  I know if my child was hurting, I would do absolutely anything and everything to take away that hurt.  I know He knows we are hurting, and He is beautifully healing our hearts.  

This afternoon, I went by my office and took down my 2010 calendar to replace with a 2011 one.  I flipped through it and noticed all the doctor appointments, ultrasound dates, maternity photos date, shower date, my due date and the date I was going to be induced.  It really felt like it was just last week that I was giddy and excited writing, "Head to Lubbock" on August 31's square.  There was a big smiley face after those words.

I wonder if there is a time that I will not be missing my son, a time I will not be counting the months?  Sometimes the thought of not missing him scares me too.  I don't want to remember my son just on August 28th each year.  Or even worse, I don't want "things" to be my only reminder of our firstborn.  Thankfully, I am a long ways off from not missing him, so I suppose those questions are really invalid in my life.  

Chet is gone for work, so we spent today apart.  We were both able to thank the Lord for our son's life, even if we missed being together.  This morning I received a phone call from Dr. Patrick Mutano in Uganda.  It was an amazing thing to be able to transfer funds for the wells on Holden's 4th month birthday.  I had goosebumps the entire time I was at the bank.  Three weeks ago, I would not have believed I would be doing that today.  We thought it a lofty goal to have one well built by January 28th, his 5th month birthday.

I love you beautiful son, more and more each day.  

I am blessed. 

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8:22

His love is astounding.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Paradigm

Our 2010 Christmas card designed by Jaci Johnson (Freely Me Designs)  

So many mixed emotions today.

I will start with our blessings.

I am once again reminded of how Jesus turns our ashes into beauty.  Our goal of nine wells in nine months is being completely fulfilled... and not in nine months either.  Because of some very precious friends, we have the FOURTH well funded, in the initial Holden Uganda project.  When God is for something, nothing can be against it.  He loves the Ugandan people so very much.  Instead of four wells by April 28th, we have four wells by Christmas.  After losing Holden, our most treasured gift, we really did not believe there would be any joy in the holidays.  We received our Christmas miracle, and have so much joy from this gift.  I am anticipating the excitement of getting to build four wells in January!

We were able to spend Christmas Eve and part of this morning with the Shuffields and Ballems in Brady.  This is our nephew Cohen's first Christmas (he was born February 8th), so it was wonderful to see him get excited over bows and wrapping paper (more so than his actual gifts).  It was a blessing to be around our family's love this weekend.  Kayson, Cohen, Garrett and Riley's smiles and hugs are always the best.  :)

On our drive home, I read a blog I've followed for a few years, Edie Wadsworth's blog, Life in Grace.  Her family lost their entire home and all earthly possessions in a tragic fire.  It made me even more grateful for the time we were able to spend with our loved ones this Christmas, rather than fussing about gifts.  One day, nothing we own on earth will matter.

Most of all, we are simply grateful for Jesus this Christmas.  We are unworthy of the grace and love given to us by our Heavenly Father.  He came as a baby 2000 years ago, not to be a cute figurine in our nativity sets, but to grow up on this earth, and take with Him to the cross all the sins of the world.  By that terrible death, He atoned us of our sins and blessed us with the hope of eternal life.

That brings me to the rest of our feelings this Christmas (Chet feels most of how I've felt all day too).  I have to admit that it is not easy to understand His ways.  I woke up, stared at the ceiling of the log cabin we stayed in, and again asked Him why.  I guess what I want is a note to fall from heaven telling me exactly what His plans are.

As these wells are built, we can see a glimpse of His restoration.  We can see the beauty from ashes.  But that doesn't mean we have a baby to love and spend his first Christmas with.  It doesn't mean our arms are full.

On our way back into town, we stopped at the cemetery.  As we drove up to Holden's spot, we noticed an elderly man crying over a grave with pretty light pink flowers.  I just stared at him through my own blurry eyes.  He was alone, sobbing and wiping his eyes and nose with kleenex.  He looked so hurt.  I wanted to run up and hug him, but I don't think my wrecked self would've been much of a comfort to anyone.  As Chet and I held each other, I kept looking over to him.  The cemetery is not where anyone wants to spend Christmas.  I hurt for him, because I know he had different plans for this day too.

Neither one of us could say anything or pray at Holden's spot.  I wanted to talk to the Lord and then tell Holden about the wells.  But all I did was cry.  I know He hears our hearts, so I suppose He told our son how much we love and miss him for us.

I have had a heavy heart today.  I knew we would.  Although everyone who has lost someone knows that they are missed every single moment, it's days like these that we envision such a different day.  

Dear Holden,

Merry Christmas beautiful baby.  Today is your first Christmas.  We have missed you so much.  Our arms ache to hold you, to love you and to care for you.  I know you would be really interested in the lights and colors at Christmas this year.  You would probably be sitting up and reaching for all the shiny ornaments.

We know you are with Jesus today.  He is the entire reason we celebrate this day.  Thinking of your chunky cheeks smiling with Jesus gives me joy today.  We know your Christmas celebration is better than any here on earth, but we still wish we were together.

You were our "Christmas gift" last year when we found out I was carrying you.  You are our Christmas gift and blessing this year as well.

We have a gift to share with you, Holden:  8000 people will have clean water very soon.  We have started a project in your honor to provide the Ugandan people with clean drinking water.  Because of you, 4 wells will be built already!  Your life is meaningful to not just us, your parents, but to people all around the world.  We are so proud of you!

We love you with all of our hearts.  Merry Christmas.

Daddy & Mommy

In Kelly's words today, "His promises are good".  Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Hope Mommy

I am not an angel mommy.  I know that isn't exactly what you were expecting me to say tonight, but I have really struggled with the term "angel baby" and "angel mommy".

Ever since the  day Holden was born, I have tried not to use it.  I remember a few things standing out to me from the day I was sitting in the hospital bed, and one of them is being offended by someone calling my baby an angel.  (A well-meaning friend, of course!)  In fact, if you have read my blog before, you will notice that not until this past week or so did I finally cave in to the term.  I used "heaven babies" and "heaven mommies" because I just feel really uncomfortable with the term "angel baby".

Now I know in this angel mommy community, the term is almost necessary.  It is identifiable and links us.  But since this is my blog, I'd like to get on my soapbox a little.

I don't want to sound all preachy (I really dislike it when I do, sorry), but I have read the Bible, and have never once come across anything that says our babies turn into angels.  In fact, I have read about angels quite a bit.  Let me just tell you, Holden is not one of them.  Angels bring people to their knees in fear.  Angels fight spiritual battles.  Angels have swords.  (I don't think Holden is brandishing a sword at the moment.  Really.  Unless he's playing with his "hope friends" and they are using play swords...but I don't even think that is realistic.)

I referenced some passages on angels at  Let's take a look:

Genesis 19:1-2  The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. “My lords,” he said, “please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning." (Emphasis mine.)  

Numbers 22:23  When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, it turned off the road into a field. (Even the donkey was fearful.)

Judges 13:20  For it came to pass, when the flame went up toward heaven from off the altar, that the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar. And Manoah and his wife looked on it, and fell on their faces to the ground. (Emphasis mine.)

1 Chronicles 21:16, 30  And David lifted up his eyes, and saw the angel of the LORD stand between the earth and the heaven, having a drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders of Israel, who were clothed in sackcloth, fell upon their faces. But David could not go before it to enquire of God: for he was afraid because of the sword of the angel of the LORD.

Psalm 78:49  He unleashed against them his hot anger, his wrath, indignation and hostility— a band of destroying angels. (Emphasis mine.)

Matthew 13:41  The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. (Not exactly sweet fluffy little things...)

Matthew 13:47-50  Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish.  When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away.  This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Again, not so sweet.)

Matthew 28:2  And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.

1 Corinthians 6:3  Do you not know that we will judge angels?

(Those are just a few passages with the mention of angels.  I urge you to look up more of them.  It's an interesting study.  The entire book of Revelation mentions angels quite a bit.  None of them are sweet little chunky dears, with soft white wings and halos.)

Although I am doing something very unusual, and probably about to be unpopular, especially in this community, I am going to refer to myself as a Hope Mommy, and my son as a Hope Baby.  You know why?  Because I have the awesome, glorious, blessed hope of seeing him again one day.  It is what gets me up and going in the morning.  And it's scriptural.  And it's my blog. :)

Holden Newell, my little "Hope Baby", gives me hope.  I pray he gives others hope as well.

Titus 2:13 While we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


We happen to live in the famous town of Snyder.  Well, Snyder might not really be famous, but I do know that Snyder is world-reknown because of RED LETTER ROCK FEST!!  Each year, our little town hosts some of the biggest names in Christian rock.

I am positive that if you live anywhere near Snyder (or in the state of Texas for that matter), you and/or all teens you know, cannot welcome in the New Year a better way.

I'm excited for 2011 and know R.L.R.F. is going to be awesome!  Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Season's greetings

Somehow you never see a Christmas card depicting, "Tis the season for hurt, sadness or pain".  I have received quite a few Christmas cards, and all of them talk about joy, peace and love.  I was one of those people who never really thought about anyone hurting around the holidays.  Years ago I read that Christmas is the number one time for suicides, yet I never really gave it much thought; and I certainly did not do anything about it.

I never reached out to a random hurting stranger at Christmastime.  I did not think about all of the people who were truly in pain on Christmas.  I never thought about someone who isn't even able to drink clean water, an orphan dying from AIDs with no medical care, a neighbor down the street who would do anything to simply buy a few gifts for her kids.  

You know what I was primarily thinking about these last few Christmases??  I mostly thought about my tree, my decorations, Christmas cards, buying gifts, what to cook and bake.  About the fact that I have never hung Christmas lights on my house, and I wished Chet would hang them this year.    

I have looked at a blank blog screen for a couple days.  This whole Christmas/holiday season really hurts too much to even write about.  Anyone who has lost a loved one can tell you how Christmas without them simply sucks.  I know that isn't a nice way to put it, but it's the honest truth.  Tonight I read some fellow angel mommies' blogs.  They are all hurting.  Christmas doesn't quite seem like Christmas.  

I don't need to make this a really long blog about how much Christmas is nothing like what I want it to be.  I suppose that's obvious and I could not even muster all of what I want to say right now.  [If you happened to be a family member of Chet's this weekend, you know how much I was not into Christmas.  (Sorry if any of you Erwins read this...)  This whole season has simply left me in a funk.]

What I do still love about the season is this:  Our Savior loves all of us enough that He willingly came to earth as a baby, to fulfill the most sacred promise of all.  That promise included living as a human and eventually dying a terrible death to save mankind.  He did not have to do this.  He did not have to be born in that stable.  He did not have to be beaten beyond recognition and then hung to slowly die.  BUT HE DID.  

Holden did not have to die.  But he did.  I have been asked many times what I think about a God who had the power to save Holden, but did not.  Just as I do not understand the depth of the love our God has for us, by coming to earth on that terrible tax night...I do not understand this.  I don't think I need to understand it all to know He has a bigger plan.  

I am thankful for a lesson I have learned this Christmas.  There is a bigger world out there than me.  I am hoping that every Christmas, for the rest of my life, I realize how unimportant my stockings are, and how important people are.  There is a really big world out there and I want to share some of the blessings He has given us.  It took this year for me to truly understand that I have never celebrated Christmas.  I have celebrated the holidays, yes, but I have not celebrated Christ-mas.  

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Phoenix pics

Our Santa Fe pics are a bit late, but we have been doing other stuff lately! :)

The first two are the only ones my husband had time to edit and look at himself.  So they are posted first.  Don't tell him I posted all the others, okay? :)

The Bohnett clan, minus only a few members.
 Mikey, Nat & Grace during the hike
 Cohen just chillaxin' at the BBQ on Friday
 Kayson enjoying some of the yummy food
 Sky and Sadie (a few oranges were actual ripe enough to eat, so we enjoyed)
 Sadie ;)  (I simply love this picture)
 Ellie and Kayson playing ball (I think they didn't correspond about which sport they were playing though)
 Pretty Ellie
 Kayson loved the tree!
 Pretty sisters
 Hostess of the weekend, our sweet and beautiful cousin Paula
 Nothing like baby sugars, my adorable nephew and me
 He watched the big kids play, so I guess he wanted to as well
 I don't know what we were looking at, but boy oh boy, all that excitement in our faces... ;) ha
 Gramps and Ned, the two BBQ Masters
 Charys and her littlest cuddling
 It was also Heidi's birthday
 Hike Saturday morning
 The crew who took the hike
 Now Chet took this picture resting while some of the brave ones ascended that thing.  I did and actually lived to tell about it.
 Chet's view of us at the top
 Aunt Nikki and me descending
 Natalie is fearless and such a hiker.  Although I think she was running to get some water! :)
 View of Phoenix
 At the train park.  Kayson loved it!
 Meems and I after the mountain climb
 Cousins Mikey and Cohen
 Yellowy picture of Grandpa and his grand-daughters and great grand-daughters                                                 
 Charys and Ellie opening presents
 What Bohnett reunion would be complete without a little political drama?  Grace opened this book given by relatives who wish to remain anonymous.
 On the drive home (LONG drive home), we stopped at the Meteor Crater in Winslow, AZ.  Proved to be an interesting hole in the ground, but an even better rest stop. :)
 My handsome man with the peaks near Tuscon framed in the background

Thursday, December 16, 2010

No words

...are adequate for the blessings we are given.  We are not even worthy to be a part of this project, Holden Uganda.

For three and a half months I have been gripped by overwhelming emotions, due to the humbling love that has been poured out on us.   We have been continually prayed for, loved, hugged and blessed by all of you.

For three and a half months, we have cried, been confused and been brought to our knees over and over.

Today we have JOY.

Tonight we are again at a loss for words.

We were in Lubbock all afternoon, and when we got home, we realized Holden Uganda already received several donations!  We were completely OVERJOYED that people have jumped in to CHANGE LIVES!!

One of the donations was large enough for us to start a well this month.  THIS month!  That is beyond our wildest imaginations.  I have goosebumps and tears streaming down my face.

We thought we would meet our goal by January 28th.  God knew we would meet our monthly goal this month.  He is bigger than our goals.  He met our goal by December 15th.  His plans are always so much mightier than ours', huh?

Tonight I see a glimpse of Holden's purpose.  I miss him more than ever, but I know his life is meaningful.

Our God is amazing.  We stand in awe of his might, power, love, compassion and majesty.  He loves those Ugandans so very, very much.  They are BEAUTIFUL in His sight.

I can't stop crying.  I am crying because I miss the son I did not get to rock to sleep tonight.  But I am crying because I am blessed to know that people believe in spreading the love of Christ so unselfishly, because of God using our son's life in this way.

I am meeting with Ramon and Kara tomorrow, and we will get this well STARTED!

Well #1 will be in honor of the beautiful daughter of Erin & Blair Cushman, Gwendolyn Hope.  Gwendolyn means "blessed".  I would definitely say that her life is a blessed hope!  Gwenny's well will save 1000 people this year, from a water-related death.  Gwendolyn's 2nd month birthday is on the 18th. I know a well does not take away the hurt, or bring precious Gwenny back; it will provide hope for 2000 people though.

I can't say that anything I will ever do in all my life will save even 1 or 2 people.

'Thank you' is terribly inadequate, but THANK YOU.  Thank you for your prayers.  Thank you for your donations. Thank you for encouraging us and supporting us.  Thank you for spreading the word.  You have loved your "neighbors" as yourself:

Love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no commandment greater than these.  Mark 12:31

We love you!

Who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion.  Psalms 103:4

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Holden Uganda Video

You may want to "pause" my playlist at the bottom of the blog.  That way you can hear this.

God is SO good.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


I have Holden Uganda updates to share! :)  Please visit

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Dangerous Surrender

When I reflect over 2010 in our lives (I do this nearly every single day lately), I am just filled with so many emotions and thoughts, it makes me get writer's block.  It's like a crammed roadway in Austin, where you just can't seem to see your correct exit (speaking from personal experience).  My brain is on overload.

2010 was a blessed year.
A beautiful year.
The hardest year in my 27.
The most life-changing year.

2010 is a year that makes me cry every time I think about.  Not all of the tears are sad tears though.

Usually around this time in December I am journaling about what growth, or lack of growth, the year has held for me.  I don't know if I can even truly journal all of my thoughts about this year.

My boss mentioned yesterday, that we can never plan our lives out, and that nobody has, or can.  I have started to journal on  paper (very personal) about the road the Lord allowed us to travel this year.  I think that I would gladly have traded our road for a non-moving lane in Austin most days.  But if I were to trade what the Lord has given me, to take the easy detour, then I would certainly be missing His amazing blessings in store.  So I decide (well, I suppose I am forced to) keep going straight on this road.

Now I don't believe that our journey is any more difficult than another persons.  It is just difficult for us.  It is not what I was journaling about last year at this time.  I reflected on December 31st of 2009.  We had known about our baby for one day.  At that time I had journaled and prayed about asking the Lord to help us become the best parents possible, to keep our baby safe, to dedicate our child to Him and serve Him more with our lives.  But I did not know the depth of those prayers.  I did not realize how painful it might be to live in His answer, an answer I was not expecting at all.

What I do know is this.  It took me 12 months to see that when we dangerously surrender our lives to Him, He will return more glory to them than we can even imagine.  I am ready for the glory of 2011.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Holden Uganda

It is with EXTREME humility and joy that I get to announce an amazing project some dear friends and us are working on. 

HOLDEN UGANDA is a project to honor our sweet son and make a difference in the lives of thousands of Ugandans.

I will have more information in the next couple of days, but this is something I couldn't go another minute without announcing.  Please be in prayer for this project.  We are asking the Lord for it to be something that will honor Him, and share His unmatchable love with others.

More coming soon!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, 
springs from their heartfelt advice.

Proverbs 27:9

I hope I never take for granted the loving friends I have.  What started out as a tough week has turned much sweeter, thanks to all the friends I have... who I could never repay in kindness.  I did not realize that the holidays would get to me as much as this.  I really feel a bit fake, when I force a smile at times I don't want to smile.  But I really don't want to be someone who is depressed, ungrateful and awful to be around.  Being honest with myself is what I find most healing and really all God wants from me, but I have always disliked being around the Negative Nelly types.  It's a strange line I feel like I am walking.  

I had lunch with a close friend, Audra (Holden's Aunt Pretty), who said something like this: God seems to call up to heaven the very best of people, instead of the bad ones.  He is giving them the biggest blessing of all, eternal joy.  (Okay, so her words were a lot better...but you get the idea.)  We talked about all the amazing people we have known, who are waiting for us in heaven.

That gave me peace.

Then tonight I talked to another dear friend, Kelly, who mentioned that we had both prayed for our sons to be taken care of by the Lord.  We may not have wanted this kind of answer to our prayers, but our sons are in the absolute best care.  There is no better.

That gave me peace.

Yesterday I read an email from a dear long-distance friend, Amy, who wrote about how precious it is that children in Uganda are experiencing joy this Christmas, because they have fresh, clean water to drink from Holden's well.

That gave me peace.

Since I must've been Debbie Downer yesterday, I had several phone calls and texts today from quite a few friends.  What a blessing people are, when they just send a simple text to check on you and brighten your day.  Thank you.  

I am afraid I get so absorbed in my own little bubble, that I ignore all the hurt in so many others' lives; I dwell on me.  Tonight, I have asked the Lord to help me be the kind of friend my friends are.  The kind who will lift others up constantly, regardless of my busy/stressful/bad/good/whatever kind of day.  

There are many instances in the Bible that talk about how fellowship with friends refreshes the soul.  These are a few:

...whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. Proverbs 11:25b

so that I may come to you with joy, by God’s will, and in your company be refreshed. Romans 15:32

For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition. 1 Corinthians 16:18

I am refreshed.

Other goings on in my life, since I am refreshed and out of my self pity: 

My littlest nephew, Cohen, turned 10 months today.  He has been someone who has given me joy, even on the darkest of days.  When he was born, I stared at his beautiful face and thought of how much I loved him.  I was a couple months pregnant at the time, and thought about how Cohen and Baby Erwin would be so close and get to spend their firsts of everything together.  First Thanksgiving, first Christmas, first birthdays.  Although they'll wait awhile to spend Christmases together, I don't think there could've been two better cousins to be born in the same year.  Cohen is the type of baby who smiles all the time.  He smiles running a 105 degree temperature.  He smiles after falling down, or pulling a book on top of his head.  He smiles when his mom and I are crying.  The Lord really gave us this happy baby to bring us joy every day.  He now has 7 teeth to smile with!  I just love his toothy grin! :)  Now if I could only make time slow down a little.  He is growing before our eyes.  Happy 10 months Christopher Cohen!

I have officially unpacked, stocked groceries in our fridge and caught up on laundry.  This was no small feat.  Truly.  Somehow for just two people, we create a lot of work.  I wonder about us some days... 

I was getting bogged down with these tasks, and my sweet husband and I [at the same time] exclaimed that if it weren't for us being so blessed with clothes and food, we wouldn't have these "chores".  So there.  I can't complain.  I am blessed.  

ANDDDDD for some very exciting news: Several very special "angel mommies" and I are all going to meet up in the heart of Texas in February.  I am excited beyond words to meet these women who have changed my life.  Plans are in the works, but I am just praying that our time together will be meaningful and encouraging.  (As I KNOW it will be!)  There is a team putting all of this together for us, and I am extraordinarily grateful for them.

Much love to all of you.  I pray for your lives to be as blessed as you make mine.  

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you. Romans 1:8a

and the pleasantness of a friend 

Monday, December 6, 2010


It is impossible to adequately memorialize your child on a little rectangle of granite.
I am glad his stone is finally installed though.  It has been a long day, but I was able to just sit at his plot for a few minutes during my lunch break and pray.    

Beauty from ashes.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas in Heaven

Oh my goodness! I have so much to say, so much to catch up on. We are driving back to Texas from Phoenix right now. We have been gone more than home this past month, so I will hopefully get a chance to catch up. I've been journaling solely on paper lately, since Internet times are sporadic lately. But I will have many pictures to upload and share soon. Well, hopefully soon.
We will arrive home very late tonight, but first we are stopping in Lubbock on the way back. A very close family friend had a stroke, but his health and life is yet another testament to the Lord's faithfulness, as he has more in store on this earth.

I want to leave you with a gift that was sent to me by my precious friend Nikki.

Christmas in Heaven
I see the countless Christmas trees around the world below,
with tiny lights like heaven's stars reflecting on the snow.

The sight is so spectacular, please wipe away that tear
for I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year

I hear the many Christmas songs that people hold so dear,
but the sounds of music can't compare with the Christmas choir up here.

I have no words to tell you the joy their voices bring,
for it is beyond description to hear the angels sing.

I know how much you miss me, I see the pain inside your heart,
for I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

I can't tell you of the splendor or the peace here in this place.
Can you just imagine Christmas with our Savior face to face?

I'll ask Him to lift your spirit as I tell Him of your love,
so then pray for one another as you lift your eyes above.

Please let your hearts be joyful and let your spirit sing,
for I am spending Christmas in heaven and I'm walking with the King.

Wanda Bencke

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Happy Heart & Leprosy

So tonight I am going to start packing and wrapping gifts with a happy heart.

It's funny...I don't really know why, but my heart feels amazingly light and happy this evening.  Maybe it is because I have heard Holden's name and seen his name on many things today.  My new friend, Mary Beth, ran a half marathon with his name on her shirt (along with her sweet Reese's name and other angel babies).  Now that is love!

Maybe it is the simple fact that I had a lot of beautiful, precious friends over tonight?

For some reason, I have felt a little bit like a leper lately.  I know that is such a strange way to describe it, but I just do.  I am quite positive it is all me making it up in my mind, and not my friends, but I sometimes wonder if I am just too awkward to be around?  Too difficult and negative?  Too sad?  Too odd?  Friends not knowing what to say or how to act?  I don't know?

I don't think I would know what to say or do either.  In fact, I still don't.  When I have talked to other mommies of heaven babies, I just feel at such a loss for words.  So I guess it's mostly me making up the fact that I am a "leper", because of how I feel.

I know this is probably too honest for the internet world, but I almost am afraid of what pregnant friends think.  I feel like such a downer.  I REALLY want them to know I am genuinely happy for them, and that I don't have a plague.

Well, all that said, I am just really happy that so many of my "brave" friends decided to fill my house this evening.  They were all caring, sweet and normal.  They are so real.  So genuine.  So loving and fun.  I appreciated it immensely.  To feel normal; such a weird thing lately.  I crave the feeling every day.  I am grateful for friends who look past the "leprosy".

We head out to Phoenix very bright and early (ok, so maybe before the bright part) in the morning.  I dread and procrastinate packing more than almost anything in my life.  So hopefully I'll get packed in the next couple hours.  ha! ;)

Blessings to everyone.  I love you.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

iPhone pictures of Santa Fe

These are some iPhone photos of our trip to Santa Fe.  Tisha documented the trip much better (of course) with their real camera, and I think Chet took a couple with our camera?  But these are the ones I have for now. :)  I will upload more pics if I get them from Chet.

We took a Segway tour of Santa Fe the first morning.  It was SO much fun!  (Even though all I could think about was Mall Cops when I first thought of wearing a helmet while riding one.)  Chet and I decided we are definitely going to take more Segway tours of cities.  :)

 The Loretta Chapel "Mysterious Staircase".
 Before our Segway tour, Chet and I woke up really early and enjoyed watching the sunrise together.  All the sunrises and sunsets were magnificent.  This iPhone photo just doesn't do the beauty justice.
 First night there.  Nita was checking out the information on the amazing house!
 One of the living areas.
 A bedroom/living room area.
That is only a small taste of the house.  I got overwhelmed by it and forgot to take pictures after the first 30 seconds walking through. :)  There were 6 rooms, so we all had our own room and plenty of space!

Santa Fe truly was a gift.  Thank you so much Shuffield and Fanning families for allowing us the privilege of being your "family".  We love you!

Funk and 3 months

"I have refined you, but not in the way silver is refined.  Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering." ~Isaiah 48:10

For some reason, that verse has been something I have read on numerous occasions this week, all from different books, journals and my own study of Isaiah.  I suppose I was meant to read it, so I thought about it for a while this evening.

I have been in the worst funk I've had in probably a good month or two. I didn't really think I would be affected like this today.  It's been three months since we met and said goodbye to Holden.  At the last two month birthdays I was sad, cried and was upset; but nothing like this kind of funk.

I woke up and cried.  I went to church and held back tears the entire time.  I had a headache by the time I got in the car from trying not to cry.  I got home from church and cried.  Thankfully I made it through a 31 Gifts party this afternoon without crying, even though it was not easy.  I got home from the party and cried some more.  I felt like a bomb ready to explode in tears if anyone said anything to me.  Poor Chet.  Everything overwhelmed me today.  I am sure a lot of it had to do with the holidays finally hitting me, hormones, lack of sleep, house in extreme need of a cleaning, a very busy couple days of work ahead, re-packing needed for our trip to Phoenix on Wednesday morning and other personal stuff.  But all that, combined with the fact that I am really missing my son, who would be cooing, giggling, pulling his feet and hands in his mouth, etc., made for an awful day.

Sundays are usually good for me.  I turn on The Message and get ready for church while praising Jesus.  I always love Sunday School and worshipping at church, and getting to come home to spend time with Chet.  Not today.  Even the children's church message got to me.  (Nothing against the was all me...but John 15:7 was NOT what I wanted to hear.)  It even crossed my mind that I was slightly happy we would be out of town so much this month, to avoid all the Christmas celebrations at church.  Okay, I am really being 100% honest on here.

Today I turned on The Message while I cleaned and took down Thanksgiving decor to put up Christmas decor.  I hate to say this, but I could not praise and worship along with the music.  I don't believe God appreciates a false heart, so I just listened to it for a while before I turned it off.

Chet and I decided against putting up a tree this year, but I still felt like I should put out some Christmas stuff, since I am hosting a party at my house on Tuesday night.  I want the house to at least look a little holiday-ish, so people won't think I have gone into serious depression.  I wondered if I would ever enjoy Christmas decor again.  I used to LOVE putting up a tree, but I cannot tell you how relieved I am that we are NOT putting one up this year.  When I took down the Christmas decor last year, I shut the box in one of the happiest moods of my life, thinking of how awesome it would be that the next time I opened it, we would have a baby to celebrate with, and a new stocking to add to our mantel.  (We found out we were pregnant on December 30th.)

I opened the Christmas tote today in one of the unhappiest moods of my life.  I couldn't stop crying the entire time I set out Christmas stuff.  (Maybe people will think I am rather depressed with the very carefree/hodgepodge Christmas decor I threw together today.)  I don't know if all that was worth it, but I am glad it's done now.  Our life is so different than what I had dreamed it would be right now.  We were supposed to be doing first Christmas pictures with Holden's cousin Cohen.  We were supposed to be picking out Holden's first stocking.

I know it is so ungrateful and selfish to be like this.  I read what I just wrote.  All about me.  I am blessed beyond measure ... and I was crying for myself all day.  :(  So instead of addressing our Christmas cards this evening, I decided I needed to pray and read the Bible before I ended up crying myself to sleep.  Not to mention my poor husband deserved a more pleasant wife.

That is when I once again ran across Isaiah 48:10.  I guess my heart needed to hear it again.  God knows I am a bit of a slow learner.  He knew I needed to read it a few times before letting it sink in.  He is refining my heart.  This suffering, the extremely hot fire of losing a child, is going to produce a beautiful outcome.  We don't understand why He chose to make us go through this fire.  He just did.  And there is a reason.  So I am just going to trust in that promise.

Sweet baby boy,
Your Aunt Pretty sent me a message about you today.  She mentioned all of your precious milestones at three months.  She is such a good auntie and loves you, sweet Holden.  I have been thinking about what you would be doing here on earth in our arms.  But after praying tonight, I was given the beautiful peace of knowing what you are doing here on earth, although not in my arms.  As I dusted, I moved three different pictures.  Two were pictures of your friends in Uganda, who are drinking clean water out of your well.  The last picture was of a little friend of yours in Haiti, who is sleeping on a real mattress tonight.
Although I can never imagine not missing you while I live on earth, I am so grateful for your little life, and the joy it is spreading.  
The more I read about Jesus, the more I am positive He loves being your Heavenly Daddy.  I know He is enjoying your every laugh and smile.  The rest of us will get to hear you giggle in a blink of an eye.
I love you sweet baby boy.

Friday, November 26, 2010


is in control and bigger than our pain.
I am amazed that He can provide joy when we don't think joy is possible.  This week was an example of that.

Sometimes I don't feel like praising Him.  Sometimes I don't feel like thanking Him.  Sometimes I feel like He has betrayed me.  But that is usually when I actually become even closer to Him, through prayer.  He has given me the greatest gift of a child, and is keeping my sweet son in the best possible place, waiting to reunite one day.

Thank you powerful God!

Now this I know: The Lord gives victory to His anointed.  He answers him from His heavenly sanctuary with His victorious power of His right hand.  Psalm 20:6

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Blessed beyond words

We are in Santa Fe and I have so much to say, but I just want to say I am so very blessed! Everyone is watching the Cowboys game, and my phone is finally working a little better, so I had time to check blogs. Wow. Talk about an inspiring group of women I have met through the blog world. These beautiful ladies (blogs to the right of my blog) have absolutely enriched my life more than I can ever say.

Three months ago I thought I'd never know anyone who felt like I did. I felt incredibly lost and alone. But within days, I was contacted by some of the sweetest hearts of God I've ever met. The Lord has allowed us to meet, in His divine way. Now, three months later, these amazing Christian mommies, who have perfect little heaven babies, have been more of an encouragment to me more than I knew possible. I woke up thinking of Holden, of course, but then I thought about all of his sweet little friends who are celebrating together today. They are with their Jesus...the One who gives us all we have to be thankful for. Their mommies have made my life better in so many ways. Thanks for the blessings, Paige, Chelsea, Holly, Erin, Mary Beth, Kelly, Lauren, Sara, Courtney, Katie and many others! Thank you ladies for the gift of your lives and how you are allowing God's perfect plans to make an eternal impact through your precious babies' lives. I'm really grateful you have the gift of writing, too! :) I opened up my blog and was uplifted!!

The Shuffields and Fannings are the kind of family you can only dream of. Chet and I are blessed to call them our family. I will write about the week here when we get home. I'm pushing my luck with this cell service. Who knows what this post looks like from my phone?

On a day I dreaded a few months ago, I can honestly say I feel very blessed, thankful and have joy. Happy Thanksgiving...probably a day we should celebrate every day.

Monday, November 22, 2010

First Thanksgiving

Dear Holden,

This week would have been your first Thanksgiving.  I had anticipated this holiday for nine months.  I knew it would be extra special when we found out we were going to have you in our family.  I was SO thankful for you every single day!

I am still so thankful for you, Holden.  Your daddy and I can't ever say that enough.  You have opened up my heart to receive and give more love than I thought possible.  Through my tears, I have realized that without your life, just as it is, I would not have these things to be thankful for:

Jesus' love and grace in a whole new way.  I know you know Jesus personally right now, but your life has strengthened my faith in a way I never had before. 

Your Daddy.  I always loved your daddy, but I have seen him as a husband and a daddy, and I love him even more because of it.

The work your life is doing on this earth.  2000 people in Uganda are drinking clean water today, sweet baby.  Other families will be shown love during losses of their precious babies, by the Covenant Fund in your honor.  Children near Lake Volta will be able to sleep under mosquito nets.  There are many more beautiful things that have been done because of you, as well.  I pray that your life will continue to leave a legacy.  Your Uncle Joel sent me this verse: "...he being dead yet speaketh. Hebrews 11:4b"  I think you are leaving a legacy, hopefully for the eternal.  I am proud to call you my son.

Being your mommy. Yes, I wish I could hold you like other mommies, but one day I will hold you; and it will be that much more special.
I thank Jesus every day for you. 


Happy Thanksgiving to you all.  My hope and prayer is that you are all surrounded with what you are most thankful for.  This Thanksgiving is the most special, yet most difficult, in my whole life.  Holden is with the One who is the reason we have anything to be thankful for.  He has been in Jesus' presence his entire life.  For this, I am thankful today.

We are traveling to Santa Fe on Tuesday to spend time with the Shuffield family.  Blessings.

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise.  Psalm 100:4

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Nothing is done without a cause

“Nothing is wasted. The good, the bad, the ugly, and the things we think will kill us. God uses it all, and he develops our purpose out of the stuff in our trash. He sifts through it, shows us how to tell it, and then helps others with it. We all meet in our own humanity.” ~Lucy Swindoll
"He pierced my heart with arrows from his quiver. I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:13, 19-23

Thank you!

Thank you for giving me a glimpse of the love Christ has for us.  I hope to share it more and more with my life.  For almost three months I have missed you.  But I am three months closer to seeing you again. 
I love you so much! 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Mold me

"Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause you to hear My words."  Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something at the wheel. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make.   Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying:  "O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?" says the LORD. Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel! 
Jeremiah 18:2-6

I had always figured I had a pretty good sense of the whole "mold me" concept.  After all, I was always taught the Scripture, memorized the Scripture, etc.  It was easy to understand the concept.  Just watch as God 'molded away', right?  He's ultimately in control any ways.

I think it isn't so much sitting back and saying, "Go ahead and mold", as it is giving ourselves completely and wholly over to His hands.  Listening to what He wants in our lives.  Sometimes things in life just really don't fit into what we want for our lives.  I know losing my firstborn child was NOT anywhere near what I had molded for my life.  I just know that it is part of the beautiful vessel Jesus is molding out of our lives.  

I want to live a molded life.  I have a long, long ways to go to becoming the beautiful vessel He is lovingly creating; it'll likely take my entire lifetime.  I am just grateful He is patient enough to take my muddy life and use it to create a pretty vessel.  He has had to re-shape me a lot.  

Adam was made from dust.  God breathed life into dust and created the human population.  I don't want to remain dust.  I want to allow His artwork to masterfully create in me the vessel He is designing; even if that means the design isn't one I would have picked for myself all the time.