Let me start by saying we have been to Haiti many, many times...good times and bad times, peaceful and turbulent times. We know riots, we know when to drive, we know when to avoid. None of this is new. We have been through every situation in our heads a million times. Lacey has known different safety procedures since she was 2. We use our best judgement and go for it!
Zane was scheduled to go to Haiti. He wanted to cancel after my spider bite was getting worse instead of better. I was torn, but I knew it was really important that one of us get to Haiti and check on things. With my pushing he went on his trip.
Monday he called and wanted me to look up news on Haiti and if there was anything about riots. Clotide had heard that a little distance outside Port-au-Prince was a bad riot and tap taps were being turned away. I couldn't find anything, not a surprise. Zane started asking around. He found missionaries in that area taking about it, but not much detail. One had me a little shook because they were told not to bring "blans" (whites) to that area or through there.
Zane debated what to do, leave then or stay. You see this in not uncommon and could last only an hour. He was also fighting daylight and knew he would be hitting that area and Port-au-Prince after dark, which would be just as dangerous if not worse. After talking to a preacher in the area and thinking it was a one day demonstration, Zane decided it was best to stay put and leave Tuesday morning as planned.
Before leaving, a phone call was made again to the man in the area, everything was good...no problem. Zane goes on his happy way. He woke me up by sending me a picture of one of my favorite spots, turquoise sea and bright, bright blue sky. Knowing that he was trying to make me jealous, I messaged back and told him lovingly he was a JERK!
About 20 minutes later, as I was walking out the door to go to work, I get a message from Zane, "Call me NOW"! I knew something wasn't right, but still not what I expected. I tried calling our Haitian phone several times and could not get through. I finally called Zane's US phone. I could hear people yelling and he was shouting at someone and I could hear panic in his voice. Panic set in for me. I said a quick prayer and a peaceful panic came over me. I knew I had to hold it together and do what I could to keep Zane rational.
The area that was good 2 hours earlier was now once again taken over by riot right as Zane entered the town and was exploding all around him . Cars were set on fire all around. He couldn't turn around because everything was burning that way. He couldn't speed ahead because there was an angry mob in front of him. His first thought was the comment about do not bring "whites" to the area.
Two men started hitting the car and trying to get Zane off the main road. He followed them because he really had no choice. They told him they would help him get out. They were about halfway through when the men were told the other end of the town (there's only one main road that goes through these towns) was on fire and closed. Zane found himself stuck and feared these men had set him up to be robbed. People had started to throw bottles and then rocks at him. This is the point where I called him. I had a terrible, helpless feeling. I called my dad and told him to pray, he in turn sent out an email to pray. I sent out a few messages and then asked my facebook friends to pray. Then I called Sainsurin. He immediately called Zane.
Sainsurin talked to the two men that were with Zane. One was an off duty police officer and the other a translator. Sainsurin told Zane what they were trying to do and that they seemed trustworthy. Zane felt a little better.
Then gun fire started going off all around him. He saw the police marching on the road above, guns aimed and shooting. He saw bodies falling.
It was easy for me to say we have been in situations like this before, Zane was going to be ok. I wasn't there in the middle of it all. I was trusting God was hearing all the prayers being lifted up.
After a couple of hours, the road was clear and the two men helped Zane get out of town. I know God had to send those two men to help Zane. They watched over him & kept him safe.
As he drove on to the main road and could breathe again for the first time in a couple hours and could reflect on what had just happened, he passed by two bullet ridden bodies left on the side of the road. He drove away relieved but also heartbroken. He knew it wasn't over for the people of that town. He saw the police going into each house looking for people!
Prayer works! God hears us! I wish I would remember that more as I tend to panic and fix things myself rather than turn it over to God!
At least that is how it feels! The last 6 months have been crazy, painful, lost...
As you can see my last post was on August 23. I feel as if my world stopped that day, yet feel it has been crammed full of ... blech!
I've had plenty of time to think, to blog, to read, yet I feel like I've stared at walls for months!
On August 23, we drove to Springfield to pick up Lacey for her birthday! We drove to Branson for dinner at Joe's Crab Shack, then rushed back to Springfield. Lacey had a meeting and we were supposed to pick up our new grand kitty! We were late and plans had to change. We were going to stay at Lacey's apartment until after her meeting and to pick up the itten. Zane went downtown to get something and I attempted to go down the stairs by myself! That didn't work out so well!!! I can't tell you what happened, it doesn't matter the result was me falling down the stairs! I fall into the landing wall, busted my glasses, my face and my arms, my legs were twisted and my back hurt. Zane was under the steps at the time and came rushing up. Not realizing that I was really hurt, we got me up and started down the other flight of stairs. Only I couldn't really stand. I was immediately nauseated when I stood. Zane encouraged me to keep going, after all I was probably only sore and had a twisted ankle.
We picked Lacey up from her meeting and went to pick up the kitten. I was hurting, every inch of me! I couldn't move. Zane bought medicine, sprayed my ankle and bank with pain relief. I could feel it swelling and throbbing. But then there was our new little kitten, Luna. She was a big cry baby, that offered some distraction but it also brought an annoyance that I wasn't sure I wanted for the hour drive home. As soon as we dropped Lacey off and started home, Luna stopped crying and curled up under my neck. She purred loudly and has stayed there ever since! Luna is my constant companion.
When we arrived home, I knew I was in for it. My ankle was huge. It took us 20-30 minutes to get me in the house. The next morning was worse. I had x-rays, my ankle was broken! Surgery was the only option because the tendons were stretched and needed to be screwed down. After surgery I was ABSOLUTELY NO weight bearing for 8 weeks. I had a knee scooter and I moved from bed to recliner each day. If absolutely necessary I would leave the house. That was a chore so I didn't leave very often.
After healing, I went in for my final check up, still having a lot of pain and trouble walking. Upon a closer look, the doctor discovered one of my screws was unscrewing itself. It had to come out! Right then, in his office, without anesthesia! NOT FUN! back to bed to tel that heat!
I recover from that and start working on strengthening my ankle only to come down with the worst sinus infection in my life. Back to bed...
I was better for about 2 weeks, when I felt a weird spot on my back. It grew bigger, became hotter and painful. Back to the Doctor. This time it's a spider bite. Back to bed... My back has been cut open in two places in order to drain. There is a gauze rope in between the two openings that has to be moved twice a day. That's where I'm at today. At least it is getting better, in the beginning it was only spreading and getting worse!
I have cried, been at peace, screamed, fru,strated, and had a few complete melt downs, but I've also learned and have grown.
1. I thought about Lacey and her broken ankle and how she was on her own. My respect grew for her tremendously. I am in awe of how she took her limitations and pushed forward and never once did she complain.
2. My husband can be a saint. Not always, but I know the last few months have worn on him too. I'm not sure what I would have done without him!
3. I will always be my parents child no matter how old I am. And my appreciation for them grows daily.
4. It's ok to ask for help! It's not my favorite thing but some times it is the only thing we can do!
5. God some times send us people or pets at just the moment we need them most. Luna is one spoiled kitty and doesn't like for me to be away from her for very long! She watches out for me and makes sure no one is hurting her mama. Not to mention other friendships that have grown stronger thru all this.
6. God is always in control! At times that is very easy to lose sight of, especially when things are looking down and not going the way you think they should!
7. After months of feeling horrible, I'm finally, in the last two days, gaining back energy and strength and with a new problem, my ankle is hurting less!!! I feel like I am breathing again!
What? How did that happen? I blinked and here we are!
I feel like I have been sappy 100 times over and there is nothing left to say! I know that you know how much I love you. I'm not sure you will fully understand until you have your own child.
There is a part of me that would give anything to go back to the day you were born and do it all over again. Oh the memories! I would happily watch another million dance steps, buy a gazillion bobby pins, pulling your hair out...I mean up in buns, Polly pockets, Build a Bears still in boxes, Bedtime songs, Broadway tunes, definitely 500 more Junie B Jones, Watching softball games, making fun of Diddy, going on random car rides just so we can sing Alabama as loud as possible, and so much more. I might even sit through 1 track meet, but that's pushing it!! hahaha
I have loved being your mom through everything, including track meets! You are the best part of me and my biggest joy!
The part that I do not say enough is how excited I am to be your mom during this time in your life! It's different and I think we are both are learning how to do this adult thing. But seeing you going after the things you want, learning your thoughts and dreams, and passions makes me so happy! Some times it is hard for me to let you go, but that's only because I don't want to miss a second of your life. You really are to blame for that!!! My little cling on!!! Now you know how I felt when you had to touch me every second of your life!
Words cannot describe how I feel when I see you in Haiti! My heart nearly explodes. Your joy, compassion, bubbliness, love quadruples when you land in Haiti. Your eyes sparkle even more. I love it!
I love where you are going and all the new things in your life! I can already tell you are set up for some great adventures!! I am so proud of you!
So yes, I would go back and it it all over again, but I'm also content being your parent at this stage.
I love you infinity and beyond, forever and ever.
Working in Haiti can be draining, sad, frustrating, time consuming, never ending problems! Working in Haiti also means a never ending supply of love, smiles, and blessings!
A couple of nights ago was a negative Haiti night. It was full of frustration, miscommunication, struggles and second guessing. It was a "throw your hands up, I'm done" night.
To top off the night, as I was trying to go to sleep, Zane comes back to the bedroom and says, "you've got to see this!" I heard the sarcasm in his voice and told him to go away I was done for the night. He turns on the tv show "Nightline". The first thing I hear is the reporter saying orphanages are fake and need to be closed! My blood started to simmer. Negative thoughts swirled in my head. The second guessing coming on more strongly.
The show was about Nepal, but there have been other shows on the same situation in Haiti. I know fake orphanages happens world wide. It is a money maker for some. It makes it difficult for those of us that have legitimate, legal homes! There's even a call by some to shut down all orphanages.
This makes me sad! I wish there were no need for orphanages. I would rather the kids be with family. I understand trying to reinforce and empower families so they can keep their children, I want to see this too.
As I continued to listen to Nightline, I felt defeated. Questions of the future crept into my mind. Then Christy popped into my mind, then Samah, then Dobbins, Catrin, Mycharlie, all of our kids. Where would they be if the Jesus Loves Me Home was not open. I've thought about that a lot the last couple of days.
About a year ago I decided to put up pictures of my kids. They surround my desk. I sat looking at each face today. I cannot imagine my life without them. I cannot imagine not being there to help them.
1. Taicha: Where would she be? She was thrown into a trash heap, left to die at 2 weeks old. She had a cleft palate and no one wanted her. Today she is a happy, vibrant little girl.
2. Christy: Where would she be? At 11 months old, she was found on the streets, by herself. Police said her mother was crazy and brought Christy to us. The police said she lived all her short life on the streets and had to rely on kindness of strangers for help. When she came to us she could barely sit up, but she knew how to stick her tiny hand out to ask for food! She was malnourished, full of bugs and parasites! I have a picture of Christy like this, swollen, sick and hand reached out. Right next to it is a picture of Christy today: smile ear to ear, healthy, loving, giggly girl.
3. Junior: Junior's mom and dad could not feed him. He was starving. I have no idea where he would be today, he might not even be alive. Instead, he is driven, hard working, educated, a servant, has a HUGE heart, and wants to make Haiti a better place.
4. Samantha: Samah's mom has been sick all of Samah's life. She is so sick she has to go in the hospital for months at a time. Samah comes and stays with us. Where would she be if we weren't there? Samantha's mom is not getting better and came to say goodbye. Yes! Samah would prefer to be with her mom, she cries for her mom. I want Samah to be with her mom! My heart breaks for this girl. But I am happy that she has somewhere to call home and she knows people love her!
Every one of our kids have similar stories. Please don't judge a good place because of the bad places!
It has been a long day! We had to be at the Port-au-Prince airport at 6am. My day started out by getting sick. Standing in a long line breaking out in cold sweats and feeling as if I was going to pass out is not ideal! While we were in the immigration line, Lacey followed suite and became sick too. We think we drank bad water, but whatever the reason, being sick during travel is not fun and makes the long day even longer. We are finally on our last flight. We are all anxious to be home. We are bored with airplanes and a little agitated to be on this last flight. With nothing else to do, I pull out my tablet and look at pictures from our trip. Laughter, tears and full hearts…
Looking at the pictures calms me, the smiles in the pictures make me smile! The pictures make me happy! Seeing the happy faces of these children we love brings me joy! They bring happy tears but also sad tears because I miss my kids so much! Looking thru the pictures I can hear Christy’s infectious laugh! I see Dobbins trying to hide his missing front teeth while giggling! I hear Junior’s deep voice! I laugh as I see Samantha and her ever changing facial expressions and actions. I even hear Yumeka’s constant whining! Laughter, tears and full hearts…
We started our trip by receiving a very generous donation with the request to make this the best Christmas the children have had. We also took advantage of a one-time reprieve on luggage limitations! Lacey and I had fun shopping, not sure Zane had as much fun! One store was crazy busy and we grabbed what we needed and headed out. Pretty sure the other store thought we were crazy with our cart full of nerf guns, Barbie dolls, transformers, Legos, necklaces, bracelets, baby dolls, and more! Every time we saw something we could buy, the more excited we became! We bought everything picturing how happy the kids would be! Laughter, tears and full hearts…
Because of health and scheduling conflicts, I had not been to Haiti in 2 years. I was eager to see my babies and my second home again. We had delays and did not arrive in Port-au-Prince until 10pm. It was nice at first because we were able to rush thru the airport. The airport workers were tired and a little cranky. I understood, I was too! The lady who checked our bag tags was ready to be home and looked as if she wanted to hurt us for being so late. She had probably been there all day and we were the last flight and 3 hours late. I don’t know what made me say it, because I was only thinking of getting to a hotel and going to sleep, I smiled and told her Happy New Year. She looked and smiled ear to ear, told me thank you and patted me on the back. While we were going thru the last line to leave the airport, I turned to ask Zane something and saw this lady still turned towards us and smiling! I’m not sure why that made her so happy, but it made me smile! Because we were so late, there was not a lot of people at the airport and the city was strangely quiet, weird but peaceful. One baggage handler came over to us and asked if we remembered him. He then told us he has seen Lacey grow from a baby to a young lady. Sitting and waiting for our car was a moment of reflection and years passing before my eyes. Laughter, tears, and full hearts…
After 2 years I was anxious and excited to see the kids. The smiles and laughter as we arrive, they are just as excited to see and hug us! Oh it is so good to see them, to hear them and to hug them! Mama Clotide came rushing over and started crying. Because of my leg injury, she did not think I could walk or would ever be back to Haiti. She clapped every time I took a step. Prospere kept hugging me. To have their support and love filled me with joy! Laughter, tears, and full hearts…
New Year’s Day is a day of celebration and independence in Haiti. They eat Soup Joumou all day. On the way to the home we passed by President Martelly and his motorcade. Gonaives is the birthplace of Haiti’s independence, almost every year the President comes there to give his New Year’s speech. Inside that motorcade was a special policeman who serves on the Presidential Police Force. His name is Berthony and he grew up at the Jesus Loves Me Home. We are so proud of him! We went to the home and watched the kids eat their soup and had a small bowl ourselves. The kids were all excited to show Lacey what was left of their Christmas cow, the head and legs, Lacey wasn’t so excited! Ha-ha Playing with the children, hugs upon hugs, teasing, laughing…make for a good day! We finished up our day by filling bags full of toys! It took over 2 hours! Laughter, tears, and full hearts…
I’m not sure what January 2 is called in Haiti, if it even has a name. To my understanding it is continuing the independence celebration with a big feast! Clotide prepared more beef and goat, along with rice and plantain and a slaw. Instead of Pepsis this year, the kids wanted something accurately called, “Candy Juice”! You know the popsicles you buy in the plastic tube and have to freeze? That’s pretty much what Candy Juice is, only in a 16-24oz bottle!! Clotide brought us a plateful of food. Zane has never had Clotide’s cooking, he now declares her the best chef in Haiti! The kids had decorated the dining area with streamers and balloons! We sang Christmas songs! I always laugh when they sing “dashing thru the snow”! 1. Because most of them have no clue what snow is. 2. Francius Joseph (one of our original orphans) is there and for as long as I can remember has sung out loudly “dashing thru the sand” since he knows sand and not snow! Lacey started handing out gifts! The kids wait until everyone has their gifts before they open! At first it was quiet and everyone waiting patiently, the more bags handed out the louder it became and I spied several not able to help themselves and peeking in their bags. Smiles grew and chattering louder! I looked over to the older boys, they didn’t care if they received anything or not, they were watching the little kids with joy! Finally, all the little ones had their bags, chaos erupted, laughter ensued, happy chatter all over with the kids looking at their toys and looking to see what everyone else had received. They all took off to play. Lacey gave out gifts to the older kids and for the first time in a long time, Prospere and Clotide. Clotide and Prospere had tears in their eyes and gratitude in their hearts! There were so many hugs and kisses that day. One child or another would come running in to show us what they had received or to ask us for help. The nerf guns were the hit of the year! I do think the older boys are a little jealous over those! We stayed until dark, because we did not want the day to end. Laughter, tears, and full hearts…
Samantha (pronounced Sam-ah-tah) has been with us off and on since she was 18 months old. Her mother has an illness, something with the liver, she becomes very ill and cannot take care of Sama. Sama will live with us and go back to her Mom when she feels better. Sama was a mean toddler, she hit, bit, screamed. She grew into a funny preschooler. She is so funny, but has an attitude. She is almost 8 now. Really there is no way to describe our Sama! We love her! Sama loves us, she loves Prospere & Clotide, she loves her friends at the Jesus Loves Me Home, but of course she would rather be with her Mama. The first of November Sama’s mom came to see her. Sama was ready to go home, but that is not why her Mom came to see her. Her Mom came to tell her goodbye, she was not getting better this time and she did not have long to live. Poor Samantha! Clotide said Sama cried every day for a month! Oh how my heart broke for this child! When we arrived that first day I could tell Sama was more subdued, but she still wanted to play. She quickly warmed up and almost back to her normal self. She had attached herself to Zane! Samantha does not reject hugs, but doesn’t initiate them either, she’s not a snuggler. Thirty minutes after we gave out gifts and things were quietening down, Sama came over to me and laid her head on my chest and then she hugged me as tight as she could! She caught me off guard and I looked down at her as she was looking up at me. My heart melted and broke at the same time. Sama had tears in her eyes and could barely speak. In a hushed voice, in English, she said “Thank You”. She squeezed my hand, said thank you again, gave me another hug, then ran off. The look on her face at that moment told a story of uncertainty but also one of love and things would be ok. Zane came over a minute later and said, “Oh Samantha”! He proceeded to tell me that Sama had come over to him and the same story. Then Lacey came over saying the same thing. Our sweet, ornery Samantha had made our Christmas complete! Laughter, tears and full hearts…
Christy, the baby the police found on the streets and brought to us, is a mess! Oh that girl! She had my heart when she was brought to us, but now I am in complete love with that child! Zane already told me that I could not steal his baby! When we got out of the car, Christy went to Zane. She gave me a sideways glance and sized me up. She started giggling and climbed on me. From that moment, she was stolen! I became her playground! She would climb all over me and most of the time would get herself perched up around my neck. She would grab my face, laugh, and then kiss me. She did this over and over and over. She would talk away to me. She was telling me all kinds of stories! We bought whistles and she jabbed hers right in my mouth. Good thing I’m not as concerned with germs; her whistle was full of her spit that went right in my mouth! She loved Zane and Lacey too! Christy is a very smart 2 years old! I’m so thankful for this, with her history she could very well have a lot of problems! Not only would she repeat what we said in English, she understood what she was saying. She prays adult like prayers. She wore me out! One day after many hours of Christy climbing on me, I looked over at Mama Clotide, my respect for her grew 10 fold. Christy loves “mimis” (cats in Kreyol), we brought her a stuffed cat. When Zane gave it to her, she hugged and kissed it for 10 minutes! She came to show me and made me kiss her mimi. She looked at me and said “I love you Mama Lori”! Laughter, tears and full hearts…
Clotide went to the market to buy kitchen supplies and clothes. When Jetro pulled the truck in, the kids started clapping and chattering and running to help. They were as excited for these things as they were their toys! They helped Clotide unload and were excited to see everything she had bought. They all went back to playing. Clotide had bought peas while at market. Prospere brought them out to ??shuck??. Although the kids were playing, they saw him doing this and ran to help. They were not asked to help, they did this on their own and they were happy to be helping! Prospere was talking to them and telling them stories as they were helping. Laughter, tears, and full hearts…
We met new friends on this trip: Bradley, Ronel & Joseph! We, including Junior and Jetro, all had dinner one night. Despite a language barrier, we had a great time and had a lot of laughs. We learned so much about each one. Laughter, tears and full hearts…
On the personal side, it was so good to share this trip as a family! With Lacey away at college, we do not get a lot of one on one time anymore, so spending this time together was really nice. At one point I looked up to seeing her struggling to carry 3 babies and laughing the whole time. Another time I saw her snuggling a sleeping Aniece! I still see her rough housing with the boys and making the girls feel so special by painting their nails and telling them constantly that them were pretty. My heart grew as her love, compassion, caring, and maturity grew and shined even brighter. One favorite moment was when she was sitting with the older boys, her friends since birth! They had borrowed the nerf guns and were trying to shoot a bottle off the table, so Lacey grabbed a gun. Bradley, Jetro’s best friend, shook his head and told her she couldn’t hit it because she was a GIRL! Oh the look she gave me! That mischievous, determined, “uh-oh someone is in trouble” look came out. She let Bradley shoot and miss several times, she aimed and knocked it off on first try! That’s my girl! Bradley was grinning ear to ear, buried his head, and then humbly congratulated her! This was Zane’s first time to celebrate with the kids during their holidays. To see him relax and enjoy the time was great! He didn’t have to rush around and take care of a million things, also a new experience for him. He was able to help the kids open their gifts and to play with them. We really did not want to leave! We had a great trip and will cherish this Christmas with our kids for a very long time. Laughter, tears, and full hearts…
Christmas memories of happy years gone by
They come back to me and keep me warm inside
Still those Christmas memories make me cry
Christmas memories of happy years gone by
They come back to me and keep me warm inside
Good ole Christmas Memories
Oh, they mean so much to me
Oh, Those Christmas memories, make me cry...
~Alabama - "Christmas Memories"
Lacey and I cannot cook, bake, or basically do anything from Thanksgiving to Christmas without blaring Alabama's 2 Christmas albums. We have the two CDs so memorized that we even know the skips on the CDs. We don't even have to have the music with us, we can break out into any given song on either CD. I'm not sure Zane would admit it, but he can sing the songs too and will come into dance with us! Sure! We have probably two dozen other Christmas CDs, but they are low on our list and we couldn't celebrate without our favorite Alabama songs! It takes me back to my childhood of dancing around the house with my mom to her favorite Christmas music.
I admit I'm kind of a scrooge when it comes to decorating for Christmas. It almost feels like moving! We have to carry in ALL those boxes full of decorations. They sit all over the house until they are unpacked. It takes hours and some times days. I have to rely on Lacey and Zane and their schedules to put stuff up.
But then I open up each box and the memories come flooding out and warm my heart.
I carefully unwrap a clear glass blown ornament. Inside is Joseph and pregnant Mary traveling on a donkey. Zane and I bought that ornament during our second Christmas. We saved up our money to go to Silver Dollar City. While there we went in the Christmas shop. We found this beautiful ornament but knew, for us, it would be more than our budget could handle at the moment. We decided to splurge. I'm so happy we did! To look at that ornament and remember our early years is cherished.
I pull out a mouse looking in a mirrored moon given to me by my brother, Tom or ceramic mouse made by a neighbor down the street while we lived in Chattanooga. These are in recognition of my childhood nickname "mouse" and bring back cherished memories.
Lacey pulls out a linen type bag that holds a hut made out of coconuts and hand carved and painted stone people and animals... Our nativity from Haiti. It always feels like those parts of our hearts which we have left in our far away home have come back for a time.
The blocks hand made by my sister in law that spell out Merry Christmas. For the last 2-3 years the "Y" has been lost and we've settled on "merr christmas" and laugh. Almost disappointed that we found the "Y" this year!
I pull out handmade crafts from Lacey's early years. The picture above is a wreath made by Lacey. I sit there and trace her precious 4 year old hands and miss that age. Lacey comes over and places her 21 year old hands on top to compare... where have the years gone? This was her first homemade gift to give me. She was so excited and could barely wait for me to unwrap it. There's the reindeer made with her 6 year old hand. The sock snowman made when she was 7. So many precious, cherished memories!
Our tree is loaded with my favorite clear blown glass ornaments and icicles. There are ornaments that Zane has bought with care and some that are his favorite things. There are glittery ballerinas and snowbabies dancing all over our tree for Lacey. We have twinkling lights on the inside of the tree and solid lights on the outside and I'm kind of mesmerized by it. But that is not the only reason I love staring at the tree. I also love looking at it to see the precious memories that some of these ornaments bring to me.
So, yes, I'm happy to drag out ALL those Christmas decorations and fill my heart with Christmas memories!
I hope you have Christmas memories to cherish and warm your heart!
"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me".
How many times have you said that? I'm sure I said this aloud and in my head on quite a few occasions!
Do you still believe this? I don't! That's sad really! I wished I still believed that. I was an adult when I realized words hurt and probably they hurt most of all. It was a hard, sad, hurtful lesson to learn and to work thru.
We never want to see our children hurt. This past week someone close to Lacey said some very harsh, hurtful things to her. That's Lacey's story to tell, but I can say it killed me. It hurt to see her so hurt and wounded.
Zane and I shed tears, we wanted to cause harm, we hurt, we were angry, we prayed. We went to see Lacey several days to check on her. We talked and text a lot. I knew she was down and having a difficult time and that made her being separated from us even worse. We also knew that we needed to let her learn and grow and work thru this on her own too. See? I am sort of learning this parenting an adult thing!
Late Saturday night she decided she wanted to come home. I am so happy she did. She was able to talk without distractions. She was able to go to church at her home church, with her church family that she has been with since birth.
Words can hurt! Words can also love and heal!
That morning she said she was fine but her eyes deceived her! There were 4-5 people at church who knew what happened. She was shown so much love and encouragement by them.
Yesterday, I watched her eyes, which had no shine because of hurtful words, regain their sparkle by words of love. I watched her transform back to herself.
We all make our own choice on the words we say to others. Some times emotions take over and we say mean things. Some times we mean well, but say something offensive or hurtful at the moment. We need to train ourselves to say nice words, loving words, encouraging words no matter how we are feeling!
Proverbs 12:18 “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
Have you ever had a non life threatening, life flash before you moments? I did last night.
Lacey was home for Labor Day weekend. It was the first time in a month she has been home. Everything was right in my world! Then she left again!
I was sulky and shed a few tears. I took my iPod to bed with me and turned on music instead of the TV to fall asleep.
The second song to come on was "Baby Mine". This was a song that I have sung to Lacey her whole life. In that instance 21 years of Lacey cuddling up in bed, holding her hands and singing her to sleep flashed before my eyes. I saw and felt her hands through each stage of life!
The tears poured! I thought about how "Baby Mine, don't you cry" had different meanings over the years. I thought of how much she has grown and matured over the years. It mad me sad but oh so happy too.
I thanked God for giving me the flashbacks, the live memories.
Lacey recently celebrated her 21st birthday. I can see a lot of changes in her, almost instantly from that day! She's matured. I miss the newborn, the baby, the toddler, the tween, and even the teen, but I also love this new stage we are in and seeing Lacey grow and blossom warms my heart!
The Sunday before Father's Day, our minister Truman, preached on the mountains and valleys of our life. He used Psalms 23 as the scripture.
I put Truman's sermons in powerpoint. I read the sermon and thought it was a good sermon. I ran video that day so I skimmed it again as we were practicing. When Truman preached it, he did a wonderful job and really made me think. Our family was about halfway up the mountain, We were comfortable. Life could improve, we could be doing better. It wasn't until later that afternoon the sermon really hit home and because of circumstances we were sent on the fast track down into that deep, dark valley!
Remember rolling down hills as kids? It was a lot of fun! This time rolling down that mountain was not fun at all. The valley is a scaring place! The valley causes doubts, arguments, darkness, all of the negative adjectives you can think.
I've been in the valley, several times! I really did not want to be there again! This valley could have been avoided, but still we were there.
I had plenty to whine about and for good reason. But I had been through worse. I'd like to think I was learning trust and faith. I kind of think I failed most days in that department.
Maybe God felt one or more of us needed some refining. Maybe we needed to see sitting on the side of the mountain was not good enough or that it was a short, quick fall to the valley. Maybe we needed to be reminded that there are blessings while in the valley or that probably while we are in the valley is the time we should be praising God the most!
We are coming out of the valley and at the foot of the mountain again. Of course that climb up is one step forward and two steps back!
Some blessings I found while deep in the valley:
1. The bond between Lacey and myself. We went for a ride to try to breathe and find fresh air. We ended up in Bentonville Arkansas doing stuff we wouldn't normally do and actually having fun doing it.
2. My parents are the best. I already knew this but it was nice to be reminded.
3. I found things in my life that needs work.
4. My leg is healing. The infection is gone. The pain is getting better.
5. Lacey has a good head on her shoulders. She has watched and learned. She's had several curve balls and she has hit them out of the park. She has survived and continued to grow and get stronger! She has good friends. She is doing her best in school because she wants to make a difference. She's chosen this cute guy named Austin to be her boyfriend and we adore him. They are really good for each other!
6. Something as simple as getting away and going to a farmer's market can help put a relationship back on track!
Have you ever had a casual conversation, someone venting to you, or a simple memory come up that started as a spark of anger and spread like wildfire? To the point you are wanting to explode?
Earlier this evening this happened to me! I was cleaning out the bottom of our pantry. This is a source of tension anyway because Zane does not like putting the plastic bowls that you put leftovers in back together so they easily stack. I was getting testy.
I then received a phone call from someone wanting to vent. What was done to this person made me mad, but it also sparked within past hurt and anger. That spark slowly burned throughout my body. Well it only felt that way, in reality the anger spread like wildfire and on into an inferno!
I've been sitting here thinking and stewing on this for almost 3 hours! I've tried talking myself out of the fire. It's not really helping. Memories that I thought I had squashed are very much alive! It makes me really sad and my heart hurts! I want to yell and rant and scream and cry and yes hitting something sounds pleasant!
Two significant thoughts have crossed my mind in the last half hour:
1. Why am I wrestling with this? Why haven't I turned this over to God? Why am I continuing my misery?
2. Wouldn't it be nice if JOY spread as quickly? It seems as if joy does spread quickly but it is short lived. Do we sit around and "stew" in joys in our life? I would much rather be filled with joy than anger.
A bobby pin! I've been staring at this bobby pin all day! I haven't touched it. It has stayed right where Lacey left it. One thing that finally hit me was that I hadn't grumbled about the bobby pin either.
Now that you think I'm crazy... the bobby pin is a thing of the past, a flashback of grumbling, and flood of memories. The bobby pin makes me smile!
When Lacey was younger and in dance, softball, track and running, bobby pins were in a constant in our house. It seemed as if we bought a hundred pack every other day. We were always picking them up: the couch, the floor, beds, trays, counters, drains, washing machine, dryer... Simple bobby pins were an annoyance.
Today seeing a bobby pin laying on my tray meant Lacey was home! More importantly she went to a dance class last night. Her face was lit up when she came home last night. She was excited to show me things she had learned. That bobby pin had been holding back the hair of my beautiful girl while she was once again doing something she loved.
Somehow, today that annoying bobby pin became something precious.
Take a minute to look at an annoyance in your life in a different light!
Lacey came home for Christmas break sick with overgrown allergies! Let me back up Lacey came home for Thanksgiving really sick with overgrown allergies. We took her to urgent care the day before Thanksgiving. They gave her prescriptions and sent her on her way. A lot of good that did! In the meantime my allergies went crazy. We go from sneeze to dying animal in 60 seconds. We were coughing so much we were (still are) blacking out.
We eventually gave up the fight and headed to the doctor. The nurse put us in the same room since we are family and have the same symptoms. According to Zane that was a mistake. He said that when we first went in the room...little did he know.
Lacey laughs at everything. When she laughs, I laugh. I'm not sure what triggered the laughter inside our little room, but it was funny! At least Lacey and I thought it was! Zane on the other hand .didn't find us very funny! He was a whole lot irritated and trying to leave the room because he was annoyed and embarrassed. The only thing... the more irritated he became the funnier we thought it was and the more we laughed. We were crying! In his final huff of exasperation, he looked at me, pointed at the doubled over laughing/crying/hacking Lacey and said, "This is all your fault, you know!?" This only caused more laughter and Zane retreated to the corner knowing there was no way he could win!
Yes! It is my fault, but I'm not sorry! I love that Lacey has a sense of humor...even the times when she shouldn't laugh! I'm happy that I I taught her to laugh at herself and that life can be fun and not everything has to be so serious! I can even laugh, at least giggle, when she is laughing at me! I'll take full blame for teaching her to laugh! I mean who wouldn't laugh when you have something like this around? (see picture)
I really do!
I know some of you will question why I am saying that. Some will laugh because you know Zane and I so well. Some will be happy to hear I actually do love him!
He is a smart alec. He is cynical. He's probably the reason I came up with "going to stab someone in the eye"! He can drive Lacey and I to the point of screaming. He's had his ups and downs, good and bad. .
Most important, he has a heart of gold. He does have a lot of compassion. Today, he took time out of his day to help someone. It wasn't anything urgent or life threatening. But Zane made this person feel important and cared for. Zane didn't complain or grumble, he had fun. This is not the first time and it will not be the last.
He's always good to my nieces and nephews. There's always jokes and lots of laughter. We all give Zane as much as he gives out. The same for the kids (& adults) in Haiti or wherever he goes!
This has been a rough year for me health wise and Zane has waited on me constantly, mostly without grumbling. He has fretted over me and Lacey. He has done his best to keep me stress free. I may want to stab him in the eye (haha) and days that he knows he has pushed me to my limit, but I wouldn't trade him.
I am thankful for him and his big, giving, caring heart.
Lacey had a 9am doctor's appointment. We had to pick Lacey up at her sorority house and we were taking her car to her. We were thinking traffic and Lacey being late. This caused us to have to leave Joplin at 6:45am.
I am NOT a morning person. If it is dark out, you should still be asleep! There was actually a person out running at that time of the morning! They must be crazy!! Add to that Sophie (our cat) has decided she needs my undivided attention at 3:30am every morning. My eyes have been bothering me a lot lately, making driving even worse. I knew it was going to be tough driving Lacey's car. I was following Zane and he was worried about me so he was driving slow. I was grumpy and grumbling to him and to myself. The final straw was 20 miles away from Springfield I realized I had left something at home! Late last night I decided to be a good Mama and made Lacey lemon bars. That was my final grumble...I was past grumbling and went right into frustrated and mad. About this time God smacked me and told me to shut up and look at HIS beauty! It was an awesome experience! I spent the rest of the drive thinking back over the entire sunrise. Zane called me to tell me to look at how pretty the sky was but I kind of ignored him because I was cranky with him! I'm thankful God allowed me to rewind my brain to see it all over again.
When we pulled out of the driveway it was pitch black. Me, with my bad eyes, could barely even see the trash can at the end of the drive. A few short minutes later when we reached the interstate, the sky had turned a deep violet and the clouds an indigo. Every few minutes the sky became a lighter shade of violet. At one point the sky was a light violet and the clouds had turned bright pink- edging into a coral. The sky and clouds were several colors after that. . I took the above picture right after God told me to quit grumbling and be still!
It wasn't the prettiest sunrise I've ever watched, but it caught my attention and brought me to my knees. Watching God's handiwork, the bright painted sky, is much better than grumbling! Coming to Him to rest in His peace is better than grumbling. It changed my whole outlook for the day. Take a minute out of your day to stop grumbling, look for God's beauty, change your outlook for the day!
Isn't it great when God gives us new beginnings? If you are like me, not always! Aren't we supposed to use times like that to stretch our faith and grow? Most of the time I get caught up in the worry and worst case scenario and drive myself crazy rather than[relying on my faith.
A couple of weeks ago Zane had to break the news to me that he had lost his job. I know he didn't want to tell me because I was already stressed out. I was already feeling like I was neck deep in muck...our bills, living, Lacey's school bill, Lacey's broken ankle, the bills for the broken ankle, work and everyone there needing money, etc. The last thing Zane wanted to do was heap more on me because he knew I was ready to snap.
I had good days and bad days. I would panic and then calm down. I have to say, I probably should have told Zane this, there were times when I felt relief. It felt some sort of good and right that he was no longer at that job. Sounds weird right? There was a calm about it. Instead of hanging on to those emotions and relying on my faith and seeing what good could come of this, I allowed the muck to overcome me. I allowed the dark and the panic to take over. I feel like I missed a great opportunity. I feel like I let myself down, I feel like I let down Zane. Most important, I feel like I let God down.
I guess this is all easy for me to say, because Zane has a new job now. He is doing what he loves and wants to do. I'm so happy for him! It is a new beginning for him, for us, for a lot of things. I'm excited about this new beginning.
If God gives you new beginnings, especially when you are not looking for them, try to remember to stay out of the muck and stretch your faith!
Well legally Lacey was an adult at 18, but today she is 20! I no longer have a teenager!
I'm not sure how to feel about that. I mean it was yesterday that I was 20. I'm still 20...or feel it mentally anyway! There are times when it really does feel like I should still be making weekend plans with my friends. When did I grow up? I can't believe I have a 20 year old!
One of my most vivid memories is feeding Lacey and rocking her in the middle of the night. She was so little and snugly. This is a memory that I can see and feel and smell and hear! Our rocker was by the window and I could see the street corner and the light shone in on us. Lacey would look up at me and coo and smile. She would stretch and coo some more. I'm sure there were nights I was exhausted, but I do not remember any. I enjoyed our night feedings. It was Lacey and I, it was a special time. She couldn't talk but I knew what she was trying to say. It was a special bond and it was our time. There were times when those times were forever and she would never grow out of babyhood! 20 years old seemed an infinity away. It didn't even seem possible. That was also my time to really pray over the sweet baby in my arms. Special, special times!
My beautiful baby did grow! She's always had a sweet, bubbly, giving disposition. Add in sarcasm, independence, leadership, giggles, stubbornness and so much more and you have Lacey!
When her dance teacher, Ms Karen, died and we were preparing for her memorial recital, Karen's daughter, Nicole, wanted the girls to have one adjective that described them in a whole and a word that Ms Karen would use. This would be printed on their shirts. Lacey was having a hard time coming up with her word. Nicole would say "That's not quite enough to describe you." .Lacey was throwing out words and at the same time Nicole's eyes grew big and at the same time they said "JOY" and Nicole started jumping and dancing around saying, "Yes! Yes! That's it! Joy! That is Lacey!" Lacey has been paid a lot of compliments but I think for my heart that was the best! Lacey has been pure joy for 20 years!
I'm so thankful God was confident in me to give me this special gift. He entrusted me to raise her for Him!
Lacey wasn't supposed to be home for her birthday. She is a member of the Alpha Delta Pi Sorority and it is recruitment this weekend. I was really dreading her birthday and not celebrating with her or even talk to her!
Lacey took matters in her own hands! She had called on Sunday and asked if we could come see her on Monday. We did! We had a nice early supper and visit. We drove home and literally walking in the door when she called and said she had broken her ankle and friends were taking her to the hospital. One of the things I have feared was coming true, she was hurt and I was not there. She ended up with surgery on Tuesday morning and three screws in her ankle. The Doctor told her if she was going to break something, she should go all the way like she did. She came home with us, so we get to have her on her birthday.
Lacey Anyssa Darnell, I love you infinity and beyond! Happiest of Happy Birthdays!
A blah title but I couldn't come up with something better for this week full of emotions.
Sunday- Move In Day! Lacey went back to college. I probably do not need to say anything more! I tried really hard to be good! Lacey and I went to lunch and then sat in the car for at least 15 minutes afraid to say anything because we both knew we were going to cry. Last year Lacey was eager to start her new adventure, this year she was ready and excited but she knew what leaving home meant this time around. We were choking back words and tears and really couldn't look at each other. We gave in and teared up. We both had big tears rolling down our cheeks. I know she's ok and happy and where she needs to be, studying what she wants to do (for now), she has exciting goals, I can't be sad about any of that, but I miss my girl so much. My heart is incomplete without her around! I'm used to her sitting 2 feet away from me and making me laugh pretty much non stop!
Monday- It was really hard to get back in the swing of things. The house felt quiet and empty. I was waiting on Zane to get home from work when my phone dinged with a notice saying Robin Williams had died. Now I'm not the big celebrity type, but Robin Williams career spanned from my childhood on. Mork & Mindy was one of my favorite shows. I was sad to learn of his passing. The news started reporting suicide. A lot of people were very quick to share their opinions, to judge, to say things that some have no clue what they were talking about. I hope those people never have to learn about suicide first hand. It was a punch and a kick, leaving me mad and wanting to fight, sad and wanting to scream!
Tuesday- My dad had surgery! It was the first time I've been in the temporary Mercy Hospital. They have done a great job and everyone was so friendly and helpful. We were worried about him having had pnuemonia this winter and having anesthesia now. The surgery waiting area is in a long hallway. Although it's in the open there are plenty of chairs and other seating. Zane and saw my dad and then went out there to sit. We tried to get in a quiet corner because Mom was nervous. Here comes a family of 3 very loud, very obnoxious adults. There were lots of chairs around. But no they sat right around Zane and I. I mean in the next seat and right in front and on the bench. The one on the bench was talking on her phone, very loud, to a small child. That meant a million small sentences over and over for at least 20 minutes. My nerves were on edge and mom came out and handled it for about 1 minute. We moved to another smaller section of chairs. We only had 5 chairs in our section. As soon as we moved, she hung up the phone and they left! About 2 hours later Zane left for work and they had called mom back to recovery. They waiting area No sooner had she left than these 3 obnoxious people came back and sat themselves in my section. They were even more in my space and louder! Just when I was ready to grab our things and move down the hall, mom came out and we went to lunch! My annoyance level was HIGH! Oh yeah! My dad came out of surgery and anesthesia with flying colors! So I was annoyed, relieved and thankful!
Wednesday- There wasn't much on Wednesday except my youth group kids. It never fails when I'm feeling down and not amounting to anything, my kids seem to cheer me up and make me laugh!
Thursday- I Hate being the bad guy. I really do! I had to deliver bad news to one of our older boys in Haiti. We did not hold up to his promise if we helped him go to college. He flubbed it off and has acted very ungrateful. He did not have nice things to say. I know this is his fault and tough love needs to be used, but it's hard. Thursday night left me hurt, discouraged and frustrated.
Friday-Tonight I sit here reflecting on the week and all the mixed emotions. It's been quiet. Lacey has been swamped with sorority stuff. I have gone from constant chatter to 3-4 texts a day. Zane has been at work every night. I think it's a night to unwind, to not think of anything. I thank my God for keeping me sane, for loving me and having a plan for my life.
This summer has flown by. We have to move Lacey back to Springfield and into her sorority house this Sunday. She hasn't packed anything! A tiny part of delusional self hopes that means she's decided to stay home and hasn't told us! In reality I know it's going to happen and I just have accept it no matter how hard I try not to think.
I look back on the summer, we've spent a lot of time together. I'm thankful for the time. It's mostly been sitting in our living room! With my injured leg, her 9 month sleep deprivation, and all 4 wisdom teeth cut out, we haven't been out of the house a whole lot together.
I've loved it! I really have...but she has wrecked my living room. One day she was gone with a friend and it took me all day to clean the living room. She has decided the last week or two is craft time. Now I have paints, brushes, canvases, bowls, beads, glitter all over. I was really irritated until tonight.
Lacey is gone with friends to Branson for the day. Zane is at work all day and tonight. It's quiet in the house. I sat down in my recliner with my laptop. I looked over at the mess. I started to grumble. I looked on the end table and there lays Lacey's purse. Awww! Evidence that she is still home...she's not gone. YET!
I decided I better get busy doing something to take my mind off Sunday before I start feeling very sad! I start working on the web site. There's nothing on tv so I pull up my Itunes and start playing music. I'm working and jamming, forgetting everything else. Not one but two stupid songs play back to back.
The first was "You're Going To Miss This". That song is automatic, involuntary crying song. I have a love/hate relationship with the song! All work has ceased and I look over at Lacey's purse, then at her mess. I am going to miss this! I'm going to miss Lacey sitting 2 feet away from me!
If that wasn't bad enough, "There Goes My Life" played next. I'm both happy and sad she's not here to witness my tears. Happy and sad for the same reason, she would be laughing at me! I don't understand how she can hurt my feelings yet make me laugh uncontrollably at the same time.
Next week is going to be really quiet. I think that first week is the hardest to get thru!
Stupid songs... I was doing good. Stupid songs...
It was a bright, sunny Sunday afternoon in October 2001. Usually I would be picking up around the house for Bible Study, but we had some sort of fellowship going on at the church that night. It was a lazy day. Zane was in Cuba. My parents were in Seattle. I remember standing with Lacey by the dining room table when the phone rang.
My dad, with THAT tone in his voice, was on the other end. He was struggling trying to find the right words...saying any words at all. My mind started racing and I was trying to imagine what had happened. My first thought was Zane had been arrested. I moved into the laundry room more out of nervousness than anything else. What I heard was nothing I had imagined and hit me hard. "It's your brother...Tom has died!"
I don't remember a lot of the next few minutes. My dad was talking, I had dropped to the floor, he was asking if I was ok, I was speechless and my head was spinning. "What?" "No!" "What happened?" "I talked to him several times that week."
Suicide! There I said it! It is extremely difficult to talk about! No one knows how to talk about suicide, not in giving sympathy and not being the family. People want to know what was wrong? where the family went wrong? what was so terrible to end your own life?
Before Tom, I'm not sure what my thoughts were about suicide. I'm sure I had a few opinions. But like a lot of my opinions after life lessons, I've learned to be a lot less judgmental (or snap judgements) about some things (and a lot more about attitudes) and see things from another point of view.
I often hear suicide is selfish! It is! A family is left grieving and feeling immense guilt for years. There have been so many times I've yelled at Tom. There have been things/times he should have been here. There have been times in my life that I needed him!
But being selfish is not what they are thinking. They are so deep and dark and filled with pain that they do not see the hurt they are leaving. It is really sad for them and for those their death hits hard.
Tonight, I heard "it's so hard to say goodbye" by Boyz II Men. We used that song in Tom's service. It hit me hard. Tears immediately formed and were rolling down my face before I even knew what was happening. It still hurts!
I miss my big brother! He was my hero and protector! He was 8 years older than me but we weathered a lot of family circumstances together. Although he could be mean to me, no one had better ever be mean to me. He fought for me. He stood up for me I miss him every day!
Sometimes life becomes crazy. Stressful things take over and overwhelm us. They cloud over our thoughts and perception of the good things in life. It is like a kudzu vine, growing rapidly, hard to cut out and get rid of, and taking over. It may not even be stress, it can be the day to day things that consume all our thoughts. So much so that we miss out on the little things. We often don't see them or so consumed that we ignore the little things that bring us joy and laughter.
This summer, this year actually, I have felt bogged down with injuries, work, finances,unpacking Lacey from school, packing her back up, not wanting her to go back to school, etc. I've been thinking so much about sending her back to school and away again that I have missed a lot of little moments.
I was reminded of this Monday night. Milford Christian Church, Milford, Mo has the Jesus Loves Me Home as their VBS mission this week. Milford is an hour away. Lacey spoke Monday night, so I rode up with her.
The minute we started driving, we started laughing. I mean the type of laughing where you have tears in your eyes and your stomach muscles hurt. We were away from everything and really not a care in the world. It came to the point that everything was funny, no one really understands our humor anyway. We laugh at things that really are not funny to normal people. AND Lacey was making fun of me half the time, but you know what? I had the best day.
I love my girl! I love the young woman she has become. I love her confidence and her compassion. I love that she is passionate about things that mean so much to her. I love (well maybe...some times) that she throws my own advice back at me. Or that she tells me to stop whining or to "chill out" and enjoy life. I love that she is crazy and off the wall. Most of all I love her laughter and her ability to make that laughter become contagious and spread, and that she very easily laughs at herself and does not take life so seriously.
We all need to set aside a day to take a chill pill and add a little (ok a lot) laughter in our lives. God has blessed us with so many things that we take for granted: sunsets, rainbows, a misplaced flower, a turtle crossing the road, a baby's smile, time spent with family, funny shaped clouds in the sky... there are so many things we miss.
Stop what you are doing for 15 minutes, look around, enjoy life and have the BEST day!
Now that Lacey is off at college, I find myself with way too much time to think. For me, thinking leads to worrying and worrying leads to worst case scenario. So I thought maybe blogging and putting some of my thoughts down might help myself. You never know, at some point I might come up with a clever thought or idea in the process!