Monday, September 10, 2018

Kathleen R. Olson: The Last Day I Saw My Son

Kathleen R. Olson: The Last Day I Saw My Son: Alex, Elisa, and Evan McComb, Mississippi January 19, 2016 marked the 20th anniversary of our little boy's death. At times, i...

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

5 Simple Joys

Is school out where you are? I home school our youngest son and I called it this week. We are officially done for the school year!

I did a post like this a couple of years back. I love reading other people's lists like this. I'm a pretty simple person and enjoy simple things. (Not that I wouldn't like to hop on a plane and travel to Italy - I would!) But I'm happy with ordinary life, too.

So here in no particular order are five things that I consider simple joys in life.

1. Watching Kathie Lee and Hoda on the Today show. I hardly ever had a chance to sit down and watch it in years past because of the time it came on in the morning. That is a busy time for me. But now that we can DVR shows, I tape it and watch it in the early evening. I love their friendship. I basically just watch the first 15 minutes and kind of fast forward through the rest though:)

2. Morning coffee! Our Keurig seems to be biting the dust, so I've been making coffee the old fashioned way. I'm breaking out in a cold sweat most mornings waiting for the coffee pot to fill. Did it always take that long?! I love my morning cup of coffee. It's one of the simple joys of life. My mornings are pretty much the same each day. I'm up very early, have my coffee, read my Bible, watch Joyce Meyer, and catch up on all my blogs.

3. The Middle.  We have been watching this television show for the past 9 years! I'll have to admit that the last 3-4 seasons haven't been as funny to watch. But if you've never seen it at all, the first four seasons were well written and acted. I'm afraid I can relate to Frankie a little too well as a mom, but I especially was a clone for Sue when I was in junior high.

4. Ina Garten's Chocolate Ganache Cake. This is one of the richest, most decadent chocolate cakes I've ever tasted. It is linked below.


5. Prince Harry and Meghan's wedding.  My daughter and I got up at 4 a.m. to watch the ceremony and we loved every moment. I had done the same back in 1981 to watch  Diana and Prince Charles marry, and again in 2011 for Kate Middleton and Prince William's wedding. I loved them all!
I especially loved how Prince Charles walked Meghan down the aisle. It was a beautiful moment.
I've prayed for William and Harry for many years now. I really have! Maybe that is why their marriages were so magical to me.

Meghan and Harry on the way to their reception

Do any of these resonate with you? I'd love to hear some of your simple joys. Have a beautiful June!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Pretty Palettes

I love working with colors and putting things together that look nice. It's kind of  fun to spend 30 minutes now and then playing around with outfits and jewelry.

Navy always looks classic and elegant. Burgundy is a fun accessory to add even if  you're not a fan of this particular shade.

The jewelry is from Baublebar, Kendra Scott, and Nickel and Suede. The clothing, shoes, and purses are from Nordstrom.

navy earrings - Baublebar
white necklace - Kendra Scott
white earrings -Baublebar
clothing, shoes, purse - Nordstrom

burgundy leather earrings - Nickel and Suede
Burgundy tassel - Baublebar
Burgundy and gold earrings - Kendra Scott
Burgundy necklace - Kendra Scott
Clothing and purse - Nordstrom

Thanks for stopping by! Let me know which is your favorite!

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Monday, April 2, 2018

If Your Dreams Have Shattered

"We don't care if it's a boy or a girl, as long as its healthy."

When soon to be parents say these words, my heart stops a little.

I know what they mean, of course. I probably uttered those words myself once upon a time. I'm sure I did.

But what if they aren't healthy?

No one wishes for that ending. No one hopes for that ending. But sometimes, the unexpected happens. Then what do you do?

When I was pregnant with twins, I was the most shocked pregnant woman you would ever wish to meet. There were no twins on my side or my husband's. We already had a beautiful little boy, healthy and happy. Suddenly, I was pregnant and so sick again with severe morning sickness. Then at a routine ultrasound, we learned that I was having twins. I came home in a dazed state. Was it really possible? Would we actually have two babies? I was thrilled at the prospect.

I've written before that during the months following, I dreamed of how it would be. I would have a little girl and boy. They would wear matching sailor suits of blue and white. Why sailor suits? I have no idea. Maybe I thought this is what twin siblings were supposed to wear. But in my mind's eye, I saw them toddling down a sidewalk, holding hands. Their backs were to me as they walked on a beautiful sunlit day.

But it wasn't to be.

The twins were unexpectedly born 2 1/2 months early. Their lungs could not function yet on their own. The next few weeks were a blur of caring for my little boy at home and going to the hospital to see our twins in the NICU.

It was a happy day when two months later, they were able to come home at last. Finally, I thought, we could begin our happily ever after.

A few months went by and I began to notice that they were not progressing as I thought they should be. There seemed to be developmental delays. My daughter, especially, seemed very stiff when I tried to cuddle her. They both cried almost all day long. They were not sitting up on their own. I talked with their pediatrician who assumed the delays were due to their premature birth. But I couldn't shake the feeling that something was wrong.

Some time later, a neurologist did an MRI and the results came back - cerebral palsy. The brain damage looked severe. She could not tell us if they would ever walk or even talk.

Then one of our twins, Alex, began having episodes where he would suddenly stop breathing. The first time it happened, I was giving him a small bottle of apple juice. He was drinking when he coughed and turned a dusky blue and became limp in my arms. I felt like I was moving in slow motion. An ambulance came and he was taken to the ER. We hoped that this was just an isolated incident, but in fact, this would happen again and again. He was diagnosed with an additional diagnosis of tracheomalacia which meant that his trachea would suddenly collapse, making it impossible to breathe.

My world suddenly became very small. I wanted to enjoy their childhood and enjoy our days. But fear and exhaustion were constant companions. Every single day was filled with fear. A day could start out normally, but end up back in an emergency room. There were times that he almost died, but somehow would pull through. I think it was hard for other people to understand what our daily life had become. It sometimes seemed we were living hour by hour. There just isn't a way to convey the stress that we were under.

I wondered where God was. I was so very tired. There seemed to be no end to the circumstances we were now in. I stood in hospital rooms and looked out the window. I craved ordinary days doing ordinary things. I wanted to be standing in my home doing the dishes and watching my children playing with no threat of illness or death.

One evening when we were all home, there was a knock at our door. A young couple, who also worked at the same ministry, stood on our porch. They came to tell us that they were pregnant and were having twins. I managed to congratulate them. I must have said all the regular things that are said at these times. But as soon as they left and the door clicked shut behind them, I had a conversation with God. "Are You serious? Am I supposed to watch someone else have twins - normal twins that have no health problems? Their twins will be able to walk and run and do all the things my children cannot do. Please, God, it's too much." I was happy for this couple. I would not wish health problems on anyone's children. But now, I not only felt that God had abandoned me, I felt he was giving my dreams to someone else. Why? I didn't know. I couldn't make sense of anything.

Over time as I tried to give my shattered dreams to God, He was able to bring some sort of peace to my heart. But it was a process - a very slow going process.I would take three steps forward, then five steps back.

Are you facing a crisis in your life right now? Maybe our situations are different, but on some level, I understand. Are there dreams you have that have been shattered into a million pieces? I'm so sorry. I wish I could put it all back together for you. I wish I could just make it better. But I can, in some small way, say to you that God has not forgotten you. He can put your heart back together. You may be standing in the ashes of all your hopes, but somehow, God can bring beauty out of it all. I can say it and know it's true, because this is what He has done for me.

It certainly didn't happen overnight. And honestly, at times, I still struggle. I was at a baby shower recently and when I got back in my car, I sat and cried. Grief will sneak up on you like that. I still wonder what might have been. I can't imagine how different life could have been had our twins been born healthy.

And yet, despite all the trauma, despair, and agony of soul, God has shown His kindness to me a million times over. He has been a very real friend to me and walked with me through the darkest valleys. I think you only get to know someone, really know someone, when you go through a crisis together. Jesus and I have walked and talked and cried together. He has let me know countless times that He was there. Sometimes I was aware of this during a hard time, sometimes not. Oftentimes we aren't truly aware that He was indeed there until time has passed.

That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

I've thought of this verse many times over the years. There is fellowship of his sufferings each time we go through the pain of not understanding why. But more and more, I want to know Him, really know Him. I was praying today and telling Him how I wished He had never had to suffer all the things that were done to Him. I wish He could have avoided it all. But I know that His answer would be, "You were worth it all." A few years ago, I would never have replied with that answer, at least in regards to myself. But now I know it's true.

This life is truly so short. We will probably never have all the answers to our whys. But maybe there is something more He wants to accomplish. Maybe He just wants you. You are better than a thousand sunrises and sunsets to Him. He is really interested in you. You matter to Him. Your life is significant. You can trust Him when there seems to be no answers.

Monday, January 8, 2018

God Gets Your Question Marks

I have a funny way of thinking a lot of times, I guess. Since I am a teacher, I will read something and will think about it from a teacher point of view.

This morning, I was thinking about ideas for practicing punctuation for a 10 year old. As I sat and thought about it, I felt  God suddenly and quite unexpectedly speak to my heart. Who would've thought? It didn't exactly seem like a God moment.

I felt like God said, "I'm interested in punctuation." It certainly wasn't what I was expecting God to say. I barely care about punctuation. Well, I do really. But why would God? It wouldn't seem to make the cut in the book Things God Cares About. 

But God definitely does have an interest in punctuation when it comes to our lives, if you think about it.

A lot of times I feel like there is a big question mark over my head in regards to my daughter's health and our little boy. (Our daughter has cerebral palsy and our son has a rare genetic disorder.)

There's always been a, "Why God?" in regards to Elisa and now, Nathaniel. I think I will always have the question, "Why? Just why?" 

I don't know. I may never know. I know that God sees that giant question mark in my heart. He isn't uncaring or distant. He sees and knows. He just hasn't answered in the way I would like. But I always (at least I try) to counteract that "Why" with the words, "I trust You. I know You. You are kind and good. I don't understand at all. But I know this about You. I can trust You." 

I think I can say that God and I are close friends.  I've said before that walking this dark and uncertain road with Him has caused me to draw close to Him. I'm afraid a lot of the times, but He walks very close with me always. Sometimes I've plopped down on the side of the road and said,"I'm stopping here. You go on without me." But He always waits until I sigh and get back up again. Where else would I go? And who else could I possibly walk with?

Sometimes we put a period where there shouldn't be one at all. We may think a chapter in our lives is done and finished. But God may not want a period there. 

period is a full stop. It marks the end of a sentence. It marks the end of an idea or a thought. It marks the end of an action.
Maybe it isn't time to place a period. God may have other ideas for you. You just don't know it yet. 

Instead of a period, perhaps there should just be a comma. A comma indicates a pause.  Maybe some time just needs to pass - time brings clarity and healing. I'd like to tell you that the pause won't be for long, but I couldn't promise you that. But I can say that where there is a pause, there is hope.

But when God thinks about you, whoever you are reading this right now, He definitely thinks of you with an exclamation mark. An exclamation mark signifies intensity of emotion. God doesn't think of you and think nothing. He takes great delight in you. The way you think, the way you look, the way you are an infinite joy and delight to Him, whether you think so or not. Maybe you think that God could never love you. Ask Him to show you the truth of how much He cares. The Bible says that God demonstrated His love for us, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. But I think you can also ask God to show you how He feels about YOU. You are definitely an exclamation mark.

This was a strange train of thought, I guess.  If you think about it, God is interested in all kinds of things that we may not even think about. He loves science. He created our bodies, the planets, He hung the stars in the sky and calls them by name. The winds and the seas obey Him. Why wouldn't He have an interest in punctuation? :)

Punctuation in writing shows the intent of the author. In writing, you are not privy to the inflection of the speaker's voice or their body language. You have to use the punctuation as the guideline as to what the meaning of the words are.

 If someone forgets punctuation in their writing, it can change the entire meaning of what is being said.

Importance of a comma

We can look at our situations, but easily misinterpret the Divine intent behind it. We can look at circumstances and misunderstand what God is doing. Without punctuation, our writing is merely words that can be interpreted numerous ways. When you trust the heart of the Writer,  you can trust that His intent towards you is only good (and we know He doesn't mean to eat grandpa!)

Class, let's review:)

1. Don't put a period in too hastily. It may not be the end just yet. Allow God the final say in the matter.
2. A comma means a pause. Maybe God has you on the pause mode right now, but it won't last forever.
3. God can handle your question marks. He may answer your, "Why?" either directly or indirectly. But He also may remain silent on the matter. It's very possible.
4. You are definitely an exclamation mark to the One who loves you the most.

Hopefully, you will never look at an exclamation mark in the same way again!
Have a beautiful August, friend!

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