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 message...it 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.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Christmas Cards

Just thinking about this sweet little face today.  (The picture is my sister loving on her nephew.  She loves him so much!)

We snuggled next to the first fire in our fireplace lastnight.  It makes me sad to know we won't ever be doing that with Holden.  I feel like part of my family is missing here on earth.  I know what Holden is experiencing does not even compare to a cozy fire, but I just feel so incomplete without him. 

Christmas is coming up, which means Christmas cards will also be arriving.  Each year I ban Chet from checking the mail in December, and rush to my mailbox like a small child, as soon as I get home.  It's my favorite thing about the season.  I love, love, love receiving and reading cards, especially Christmas cards.  This year was supposed to be the best.  I had dreamed of and designed the "perfect" card for about 9 months.  I had bought all three of our outfits for pictures back in the beginning of August, as soon as stores put out fall/winter clothes.

I had really thought about not sending out a Christmas card this year.  In fact, up until last night, Chet and I thought we wouldn't.  Good thing I have an amazingly talented and caring friend, Jaci, who designs beautiful cards.  I am happy to say that with her sweet abilities, Jaci has made us a card we will be sending out.  She has given me a little joy already in this holiday season.  Thank you, Jaci!  

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

Monday, November 15, 2010

Joyful Weekend

Thank you everyone for praying for JOY in my life.  I had a joyful weekend with my twin, nephew Cohen, sister-in-law and some of my very closest friends.  We had a Holiday Open House in Lubbock, hosted by Valerie and Lindsey.  I am constantly reminded of how blessed I am to have the best support system in the world.   

My sister-in-law Carrie, holding Charys' son Cohen.  (We are all really close!)
 Charys and Cohen with me before they had to leave Sunday. 
 This little man is all joy!


I woke up this morning and read this, from Mary Beth's blog.  It is so encouraging:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hannah's Hope

I received the book Hannah's Hope from a sweet friend who lost her beautiful little girl a few years ago.  I have really been encouraged by Hannah and the huge amount of faith she had.  Today I saw this on another blog:
Pray over your children while they are sleeping. With a heart like Hannah, give them over to God.

I have a new insight on parenting.  Children are God's greatest gifts to us as parents, to care for and raise for Him.  Being a good steward over our money or possessions is not even a comparison for being good stewards over our children.

I hope to be a mom who puts the most effort into caring for my children's hearts.  In the end, it won't matter if they are pretty, handsome, cute, gifted, academic, geniuses, athletic, get the most trophies, have in-style clothes, tall, short...anything.  Those things are all nice, but so temporal. 
It will only matter if they love Jesus.

Mother's Arms

There is nothing I want in my arms more than my baby boy.  But because I will have to wait for a while for that to happen, I am OVERJOYED by getting to see God's precious childrens' smiles.  These kids are simply beautiful.  (The verse is supposed to be Matthew 19:13, instead of Matthew 19:3.  They are chiseling the 1 into the well.  But it might make you chuckle to read the differences in the two verses!)

My hands will always feel the need to mother my son.  I don't ever wake up without that thought.  But joy does come in the morning.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Above what we ask or think

My heart hasn't felt this much happiness in about three months.  I am almost wordless (shock!) about what to even say!!

Yesterday, a new friend of mine (I met her at Renae's baby shower this summer) Kara, called and said she wanted to surprise me with something.  We decided to meet up today after I got off work.  (Side note: she brought her precious cutie pie, Jax, who is just three days older than Holden! Such a perfect, easy-going little guy!) =)

Well, I am really just inadequately going to have to describe the gift J.D. and Kara gave us.  In Kara's hands were two framed photographs.  I saw them and knew exactly what they were!....A water well in Holden's honor, was built in Uganda.  It provides CLEAN, HEALTHY water to 2000 people from 8 villages.  Chet and I are SO passionate about clean water, and we absolutely know this was completely in the hands of our Almighty God!

Kara's husband works with a lady, Ramon, who helps build the wells in Uganda.  Ramon had just prayed to the Lord to lead her to either continue building wells or do something else to serve Him, the day Kara and J.D. decided to do this, as she had just run out of funds to build more wells.  That very afternoon, she received Kara's email about building one!!!  Two prayers were answered that day.  Holden's life has such an eternal purpose.  I am praying for those precious Ugandans.  I know this will change their lives.

Here's in iPhone photo of the picture frame.  Aren't these children beautiful?!  I'm shaking uncontrollably writing this.  My heart is so happy and filled with such joy.

I know my words are really jumbled and crazy, but I type what I feel.  PRAISE OUR PERFECT, WONDERFUL SAVIOR!!!  Kara and J.D., you are servants for the King.  Your work is for the Lord and I KNOW the impact is eternal.  We love you so very, very much.  I think you epitomize these verses from Philippians 2:1-4:
 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

I think clean water is such a picture of our salvation.  I hope this clean water is a way for these precious Ugandans to feel Christ's love for them, through His servants.  I pray it will lead them to Living Water.  I got chills when I thought about this verse tonight:

For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’ Revelation 7:17

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

November's Thoughts

Many of my facebook friends have done the "November Thankfulness Challenge" (or whatever it's called), where each day this month they list something they are thankful for.  I almost jumped on that bandwagon until I realized it would be very difficult to choose just 30 things I am really thankful for this month.  I know I'd end up leaving out some of what I am most grateful for.

November has always been one of my favorite months. I love how I am reminded daily of all I am so blessed with.  When I turned the calendar to November last Monday, I saw that I had written "Holden's first Thanksgiving", decorated with pumpkins and a cornucopia.  Today I am so reminded of how blessed I am, even though I miss one of the greatest blessings ever given to me. 

It all started on July 18, 1983 when [and I have no idea why I was chosen to be so blessed by this] I was born in the United States of America.  That in and of itself is a bit overwhelming, and almost unfair in my mind.  Billions of people are born in countries where disease, filth, starvation and oppression are rampant.  Billions of people are born in countries where the Word of God is illegal, they know nothing about the freeing power of Salvation, have no hope of redemption and eternal life and are immersed in sorrow, hate, pain and false religion.  Why was I chosen to be born in the U.S.?  I don't know.  I don't deserve it.  Even on my very worst days, I know that simply being born in the U.S. has made my "very bad day" pale in comparison to what billions go through each and every day. 

I have had unlimited access to the Bible every day of my life; the one thing that people all over the world die for, just to possess and read.  Have I taken that for granted?  Yes.  Nearly every day.

Not for one day have I ever starved or drank a single sip of muddy, fecal/bacteria-filled water.  Not once have I ever had to endure freezing or sweltering temperatures, without knowing I could easily be relieved by just walking into my home.  Not once have I not been able to turn on a faucet without warm, clean, flowing water to bathe in.  The water I bathe with, rinse my mouth out with, flush the toiilet with, and water my plants with is cleaner than what most people on this planet will ever see.  I wash my hands about 20 times per day, using more soap and clean water than most people use in their lifetime.  As I am typing this, I reach for my bottle of purified spring water to quench my thirst. 

Most of all though, I was given the redeeming love of my Saviour, Jesus Christ as a child.  I have been forgiven, loved and pursued ever since July 18, 1983.  His mercy has overflowed on me for 27 years.  His love has covered and embraced me for 27 years.  He has pursued my whole heart, never giving up, for 27 years.  He has never, ever forsaken me, even when I forsook Him.   He has not grown weary of forgiving me, every day, for about 10,000 days.  He has healed me.  Restored me.  Blessed me more than I can ask or think.  He has prepared a place for me, for all eternity.  He is the only One who will ever love me perfectly, without fail, regardless of how much I will never deserve it.  He yearns to have all of me.  All of imperfect me.  When I think about how much I love my husband, son, siblings, friends, family, etc., I just think of how much my love does not even compare.  Unconditional love...love without limits...never a day in my life have I not been loved like this. 

I stopped typing for a minute and envisioned being born on July 18, 1983 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (or anywhere else in the world for that matter). How different would my life be.

It is hard to list what I am most grateful for, but I think I should write out a list nearly every single week, 52 weeks a year, just to put my life into perspective.  So today I will type some of the things I am thankful for.  It always makes me smile to realize how blessed I am.

*Chet: I really cannot imagine where I would be without Chet.  He has been my leader and strength, a source of comfort that I cannot ever be grateful for enough.  I'm so blessed to be married to a Christian man who loves and adores me every day.  I would not want anyone else to be my chidren's Daddy.  He is handsome, funny, passionate, provides for our home, puts up with any moods I may have, irons (yes, ladies, he irons), has not once complained about any food I have cooked, dreams and plans with me, informs me of any music or football stats I may have missed (haha), etc.  There are too many great qualities to this man I call my husband to list! ;) 

*Holden: My life and heart have never been touched by a person in the way my little Holden has changed me.  I am eternally grateful to get the privilege of being his Mommy.  Next month will be a year from when we found out we were pregnant.  This past year has given me so much love, I simply cannot ever be the same.

*Charys: My sister and I have been best of friends, in such an intense "twin way" all our lives.  She is a beautiful person inside and out, who I love more than I can type.  I just wish I had some of her talents, she so selfishly stole in the womb. ha!

*Joel: My brother is one of the strongest Christian men I have ever known.  He has a humble heart to serve the Lord with his whole life...and he does happen to make me laugh every single time I talk to him.

*Charys and Joel's families:  My nephews are pure joy and being an Auntie is awesome!  I am also thankful for the sweet in-laws I have because of my siblings. :)

*Shuffields:  Who else steps in to become family to a person, gaining nothing in return?  This family is more of a blessing than any parents I have ever known.  I hope to be 1/10th of the Christian example to any future Erwin children, as the Shuffields are to me.

*Family in Christ: There's not enough that can be said about my friends in Christ.  I just don't even know where to begin.  I know why the body of Christ is mentioned so often in the Scripture.  It is a gift from the Lord, and I believe completely necessary as Christians.  My family in Christ has been such a source of strength and comfort, especially these last few months. 

*Prayer: I serve the one true God.  The God who always listens to my desires, hopes, dreams, plans, heartaches, pain, sorrow.  He gives me joy that no one else can.  He restores my heart each and every day, and never tires of our conversations.

*My animals: I know they might seem trivial on this list, but they are not trivial to me.  I love animals and I know God must love them as well, since He created them.  Henri, Luke and Rusty can make me smile no matter what. :o)  I am very outspoken about animal love and care (just had to add that hehe).

*Health: How blessed I am to have a very healthy, "whole" body.  As a friend Jennifer said, "I'm thankful I can walk on my own two feet, scratch an itch, sing, smell the fresh air, hear my loved ones' voices and feel the breeze blowing my hair."

*My job: I am one of the few blessed people who can say that I truly love what I do.  I rarely get up and think, "I don't want to go to work today".  I have an amazing boss and coworker who are both friends as well.  We laugh, talk and enjoy working together.  I love working with my high school students and learn something new each day.

*Seasons: I know each season of life has its purpose, and makes us stronger.  I am grateful for the lessons I gain through life's seasons. (I also like the four "spring, summer, autumn and winter" seasons too!) ;)

I am also grateful for a myriad of more trivial things, which if I typed them out it might constitute the longest blog post I would ever write.  I noticed when I start thinking about all I am thankful for, it is easier to live for the eternal.

Rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Colossians 2:7

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, Hebrews 12:28

Praise the LORD! Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Pslam 106:1

Sunday, November 7, 2010

It's all for Thee

Sometimes writing on a public blog can be very humbling. :)  

I re-read my last post, and realized how incredibly selfish and ungrateful it was.  Sorry friends.  Ugh.  But since I have a "don't edit and don't delete" policy, because I want to be able to be honest with myself on this journey, I am not going to delete.  I did happen to hear the song "Take My Life" playing on my playlist while I was reading the post though.  Talk about putting things into perspective: 

Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee
Take my moments and my days
Let them flow in ceaseless praise
Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love
Take my feet and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee

Take my voice and let me sing always, only, for my King
Take my lips and let them be filled with messages from Thee
Take my silver and my gold, not a mite would I withhold
Take my intellect and use every power as You choose

Here am I
All of me
Take my life
It's all for Thee

Take my will and make it Thine, it shall be no longer mine
Take my heart, it is Thine own, it shall be Thy royal throne
Take my love, my Lord, I pour at your feet its treasure store
Take myself and I will be ever, only, all for Thee

Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee

10 weeks

10 weeks seems like a short amount of time for how much we have missed Holden.  It feels like this can't be so.  I even re-counted on my calendar to make sure I was right about ten weeks.

This weekend was so busy, I am just now sitting down at a computer.  I have many loads of laundry awaiting me [some days I wonder if it would be easier to load it all up and take it to a laundromat to get it all done at once...nothing like airing my dirty laundry across the internet. ha!] and about 20 emails to write, but I just needed to be uplifted by some of my sweet friends' blogs.  I love that I am totally surrounded by amazing, faithful, precious friends and 'blog friends'.

I started blogging at the beginning of my pregnancy, to provide Holden with a journal of his life; writing has now turned into therapy for me.  Even more, I have been uplifted by other friends in this "blogging world".  I am truly grateful the internet exists, to connect people in this way.

Our friends, Blair, Adam, Brittney, Jessica and Mike spent the weekend with us to watch the Tech/Mizzou game.  Each year since we graduated, we try to get together during football season to catch up and watch a Tech game.  We had planned to watch a game this late in the season, a few months ago, since Holden would be "old enough" for someone to watch him for a couple of hours while we went to the game.  (Or, if the weather was nice enough, he would have gone with us.)  It's little things like this that are constant reminders of how much we had been so excited for the change in our lives Holden would have made.

We had a great weekend with our sweet friends though, so that was a blessing.  Before the game we were able to see Brooke and Eric and their two {{precious}} cutie pies, Gunner and Charli.  Tech also played their best game of the season, which made the day very nice. :)

I have to admit that I have really struggled with joy lately.  It feels "odd" when I am having a good time with friends.  Although I am genuinely enjoying myself and love being surrounded with my sweet, happy friends (I don't want people thinking I am depressed and incapable of happiness), I miss Holden so much .... it's like I can't enjoy the time to the fullest.  A part of me is missing, and I cannot ever get that out of my mind.

When I pray for joy, I usually end up in tears.  Maybe that is not right, but it's the ugly truth.  I don't understand God's plans and choices for me, to the extent that I should yet, so it is difficult to ask Him for joy.  My feeble human heart feels that I would have full joy if Holden was here, so to ask God to restore the joy in our lives is like asking for Holden back.  Many times recently, I have come across the saying, "You can only experience joy to the extent you have experienced pain."  I disagree with it.  Maybe I won't always disagree with it; I hope not. Trust me, I know how weak and selfish I am being.  I know Holden's life has blessed Chet and me (and others), exactly the way it is, but I just want my baby back.  Even if that means I am selfish.  Even if it means I have to honestly admit that all the "good" that has come from Holden's life is not good enough for me, yet.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.  James 1:2-4 

I patiently (and impatiently) pray that my heart will 'count it all joy one day', and that I will see my life as 'perfect and complete, lacking nothing'.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Wild Olive Tees!

Jaci and Rebecca, two awesome girlfriends, gave me a gift certificate to Wild Olive about a month or so ago.  I bought two of their t-shirts, and they are now my favorite t-shirts ever.  They are so soft, comfy and have great messages. 

Well right now Wild Olive is giving away a Women of Faith trip and tshirts!  Check it out at:

I have never been to a Women of Faith conference, and it has always been a dream of mine!  I'm going next year, even if I don't win it. :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Yesterday was the first day I have watched Holden's video in a couple weeks.  I try to start it, and then just can't finish.  I am so "over" crying if I can help it.  It is too exhausting; I know that is probably a bad attitude...but I am.  Crying just hurts.  But then again, not crying hurts too.  I'm glad I watched it, even if it was through tears.  He is such a sweet little boy.  

This afternoon was rough.  No particular reason why.  It just was lots of small reasons.  It is hard to be happy all the time...when you miss your baby so much.

I have a list swirling around in my mind that is my "new normal" after sending Holden up to Jesus.  Two months ago, this list did not exist: 

1.  Roller coaster of emotions every day.
2.  Becoming slightly obsessed with blogs and google.  It is a strange comfort to read stories from other mommies who know how this feels.  Their strength strengthen me.  I had never been one for spending hours on the computer, but I guess it's like a "club" of mommies who had to say goodbye to soon, that I am now a part of.  Being around so many "regular" parents can make me feel a little alone and confused.  It is healing to see the joy and hope in other couples' stories, who have walked this path before.
3.  Realizing I am going to be perpetually behind on thank you cards.  I never would've imagined being 'that girl'.  I'm her.
4.  Leaning on my husband like I never thought I would.  Sad to admit, but I am a very independent person.  I didn't know I would have to let Chet hold me while I just cried for hours on end.  Good thing he doesn't mind a wet shoulder, ghoulish mascara running down my face and a bright red Rudolph nose.  That is true love.
5.  Buying Wal-Mart and United out of Kleenex boxes (true story in regards to United...they were running low I guess).  I should get some kind of discount on them.
6.  Time eluding me.  Sometimes I feel like we met Holden yesterday.  Sometimes I feel like it's been 10 years ago.
7.  A newfound love of writing.  That is self-explanatory I suppose.
8.  A newfound love of music.  Speaks to my soul in an all-new way.  Silence is not something I handle well.
9.  An intense feeling of wanting to tell every parent I know to love their babies...even more.  More than even that.  To tell them to take more time out to enjoy their babies.  Take more pictures.  Read more stories together.  Stress less over everything.
10.  My heart being changed every day.  This is challenging, but good.
11.  Food not tasting near as good as it once was.  I don't know why, but I am really struggling with this.  I was always a foodie, but now I just eat to eat.  (The only thing I have found to be really tasty is the zucchini soup at Bama's in Colorado City.  I am sad I didn't freeze zucchini this summer to make my own!  Okay that was a rabbit trail.) 
12.  Understanding that I will never be able to understand Jesus' grace, peace, love and mercy to the depths that He surrounds me in them. 
13.   Realizing it is easier to say and quote faith, than walk faith.  Much easier.
14.  My heart filling with joy when I hear the name Holden Newell.  Maybe that is the way all parents are when they hear their childrens' names.  It's just something about his name that speaks to my mommy heart.
15.  Having to let my heart be open and raw. 
16.  Becoming more honest with myself.
17.  Not sleeping well.
18.  Loving to be around babies with their pure innocence and sweetness, but aching so much when I do.  It's odd.  I want to be around them, but my heart breaks at the same time.  I think I am strange to enjoy being around babies.  They are just such perfect examples of God's love, joy and happiness to us; I can't stay away from them, even if it hurts.
19.  Thinking every moment about what Holden would be doing right now.  When I read about my other friends' babies, I wonder if Holden would be experiencing the same things.        

This list really isn't complete, but I thought I would just start it, since it is consuming my life about now.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Christmas already

Picture borrowed from Chelsea Jacobs' blog.  Enslaved children on Lake Volta (circa 2010).

I think this post might be uncool to post, but it's on my heart.  So here goes....
First off, I was trying to find some cute Halloween plates/napkins/etc. on Saturday (day before Halloween...I know that was my initial problem), and found NOTHING.  All the stores were putting out Christmas stuff.  If you have been to Target or Hobby Lobby in the last two months (some of my favorite places), you know what I mean!  Now that isn't what annoyed me.  I love Christmas a lot more than Halloween, and I am glad that store owners seem to like Christmas too.

What bothered me was this:  Each year I get more and more disgusted with the artificialness and commercialism of Christmas.  I mean, everyone rushing around to buy gifts for people they feel obligated to buy for, and a lot of times don't even like.  I was very disappointed to see the Christmas stuff already out, because that just means it's time for intense materialism to sweep through the United States.  I've also noticed the increase in credit card commercials and offers in my mail.  I read something about credit card debt around Christmas; shocking and sad. 

I sat in our living room yesterday and just stared at what we have.  It's really easy for me to do the normal "compare myself to our friends" mental mind game.  But yesterday, I just realized how much we have.  How spoiled we are.  In fact, it's downright ridiculous.  I looked over at our pantry.  I have a few cans of food that probably are expired. (Very sad, I know.  I am just being brutally honest here.)  It takes years for canned goods to expire, and because of how much we have, I think two of our canned foods are near expiration. 

Guilty gulp.

Then I read my Bible.  It says this:
"Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’  “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”  When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.  Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.  Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

Now I am not saying we are selling all we have and going away.  I just think that the average American mindset at Christmas is appalling.  I think if we just spent one day in the shoes of 90% of people on this earth, we would not be buying ourselves gifts at Christmas.  (BTW---I doubt I could handle one day of living in another person's world...I would probably "give up" after an hour of what 90% of this world is forced to endure daily!) 
Few people know this, but I actually didn't celebrate Christmas, growing up [strange family].  I am grateful to celebrate it now, but it has given me an "outsiders" view on the holiday.  I laugh when I read tens of emails each holiday season about how "disturbing" it is that business owners require their employees to say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas".  Yet aren't [we] the same people forwarding those emails the ones who don't keep much with the "Christ" part in Christmas either?  At least businesses are being honest.  :o)   
I love Christmas.  I love what it really stands for: sharing Christ's love.  I love all things red, green, sparkly, cozy and happy; clearly it's a good holiday.  I just don't love what we Americans have made it stand for.  So here's to a little more Thanksgiving...and a lot less Christmas right now.  I hope I see a turkey at Wal-Mart today.

I know these holidays will be especially bittersweet for us.  But I hope we can make them about sharing some of the love Christ has given us.