Friday, August 29, 2008

Swimmin'...Stuart Style

We love to swim with Lee and Kelli and their kids. It usually turns into quite the comical event, and this time was no different. This time, Lee and Eric shrunk back into their teenage competitive brotherly selves. They started doing flips and dives and other wild things that were really fun to watch. I will let those pics speak for themselves! Kelli and I enjoyed getting to actually take pictures since our men were there to help with the kiddos. Good times!

Cousins...and Jack

Lee, Kelli, Sloan, Tia, and Landon came for a long visit! We are so excited to see them. The last time I saw baby Landon was in May, and he has changed soooo much in the span of 3 months! He is a chunk! My favorite new names for him are Hoss...because he looks like his Boss...Kelli's Dad...and Ham Bone. His thighs are fatter than mine, if that is possible!

Anna also joined the girly fun this morning by hanging out with us! She brought Jack...who is 4 months today! The last pic is of him!
We are taking the "cousins" swimming this on that later.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ariel and the Reason I Blog

I was a shy girl. I remember my Dad offering a "penny for my thoughts" when I was in high school. Sharing my heart was never easy. Spoken words never spilled forth with ease and I was often left with way too much on my mind and in my heart. I wasn't the dysfunctional type in crowds, but I definitely kept my thoughts to myself. I don't know why, exactly, but God started a work in me and revealed some things to me in the winter of 2003.

2003 was a difficult year for our family. Eric had started a business that never quite took off and was later without income for a few months. It was a year of being restless at church, not knowing where to serve and not really caring. It was a year where I had some wounds from lack of being "heard" by those around me. Amazingly, God took this difficult year and primarily through John Eldredge's book, "Waking the Dead," He proceeded to do just that.

God showed me tremendous things through this book. All of his books are excellent...pick any of them up and your heart will go through some sort of surgery. No one ever wants to go into heart surgery, but afterwards, when your heart starts to beat the way it was meant to, the pain becomes worth it.

One of the things that Eldredge points out in this particular book is that we all resonate with myths and fairy tales. We all love Biblical characters....especially the ones that seem "really human" and tend to mess up. Eldredge says there are characters that we always resonate with, and this is because they contain some hint or glimpse into our true selves.

I kind of laughed at this concept at first...even if I was an English major and I had spent my whole college career dissecting characters. I mean, who on earth was I to compare myself to? Cinderella? No, I didn't have a wicked stepmother. Rahab? No, I wasn't a prostitute nor did I have the courage to do what she did. And then the Spirit laid it on me so heavy I couldn't believe I had never thought of it. I was Ariel from the Little Mermaid. (Go ahead and laugh, but this is my heart I am sharing!)

We all see Ariel as this happy mermaid who sings happy songs until she is removed from the safe environment of her watery home. Now I know she "sold her right to sing" so she could become human, but hang with me so I can share why I resonate with this character. Ariel was in love with Prince Eric (yes, that is my husband's name!) and she wanted to offer her love. She got in front of those she loved and wanted to love and became mute. The enemy, Ursula, had stripped her of the ability to communicate . My enemy, Satan, has tried to strip me of that ability my whole life. Whether it be for fear of not being listened to, or fear of my heart being exposed and stomped on, or fear of offending someone, I often remained silent. The trade off was that I had nothing in my heart to offer and Satan preyed on that by telling me I was worthless.

I was also at a place in church where I wasn't singing...and that was crippling for me. If I couldn't lead others in worship, then I might as well be mute.

I have lived in fear of not being able to say the right thing when others hurt or are seeking guidance. I have lived in fear of toning down my words for fear of stepping on some one's toes. I have lived in fear of other's knowing what goes on in my little heart that seems so fragile at times.

In December of 2003, at 5:45 a.m., God showed me all of this and started to redeem it. I prayed this prayer...simply reciting Eldredge's words:

"Call me to believe that there is something beautiful and valiant that You have placed deep within me that my husband, my friends, that this world needs. Call me to believe that the effect of my life is goodness and light and life, not darkness and contempt and irritation. May I start offering my heart--start to say NO to the voice of the enemy that calls me to fearfully tone down, edit, control my words and my actions for fear of offending or bringing on rejection and shame. Instead, may I step out and share what I see of my God. May I choose to offer my presence, my heart, and my love, instead of trying endlessly to figure out what else I should offer. May I choose to believe I am loved and safe with my God."

What started 5 years ago is still a work in progress. I am at least mindful of how Satan attacks my thought processes in this area. I have become much more vocal for the Kingdom...even if it is just in writing. So, this is why I blog. There is glory in all of us. I know that sounds proud at first, but if we are created in His image, then it is true. Romans 8:30 says that "Those he justified, he also glorified." Psalm 16:3 says, "As for the saints who are in the land, they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight." Eldredge says our glory is a reflected glory...a grace given to each of us.

Can you see the glory inside? The things that are unique just to you? As Eldredge would say, ask God some questions: "God, who am I"..."What do you think of me?"..."What's my real name?" (He told me my name, but that is between He and I...and no, it isn't Ariel!)

I will end with this last quote..."Most of us are afraid of our guidance, our intuition, our hunches, we try to close our minds to them, thereby increasing our restlessness and losing the benefit of the heavenly warning that would tell us when and how to pray."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Where Are the Good Old Days?

Eric and I were sitting today talking to our loan officer. The discussion meandered to the economy and how banks are handling things to ensure that they aren't hurt. Our friend said that it is much more difficult to get a loan these days. He said that even if people have had a loan before, and were "good for the money," it doesn't guarantee that they will get one in the future. He said something that made me cringe. He said even if you have known a family your entire life, it doesn't matter anymore when it comes to entrusting money to them. A person's good name is no longer of any worth. How sad is that? When people lose the value of their name, banking becomes impersonal.

I just had a flashback to "It's a Wonderful Life" where James Stewart starts handling out his own personal honeymoon money to help his banking customers. Hmmmm, where are the good old days?

I don't mean to sound doomsday-ish, but it makes me so sad to see parts of our heritage and culture just fade away. You know, things like: a person will be good to pay something back, simply because it is in his character to do so.

My Vicarious Vacation

Here are some photos from my vicarious vacation!

\vī-ˈker-ē-əs, və-\

definition: experienced or realized through imaginative or sympathetic participation in the experience of another

It didn't work out for me to go to the beach with my Mom, Mini, and Kirby....but I can still blog about it! Maybe next year will work out! What did I miss the most? The dolphins, the endless amount of time to read, the sand between my toes, being with family, the peel em' and eat em' shrimp, or just listening to the waves??? Hmmm, that is a hard question!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Rejoicing in Heaven!

Tonight, after Eric prayed with Cade and Eli, I kissed them goodnight. Nothing untypical about that. But, the dialog that continued became very special, indeed! Eric left the room, before he realized what was about to transpire. Eli then looked at me and asked me what Daddy meant when he prayed about being born again. I proceeded to tell him about the story of Nicodemus. I then ran to get Eric before he missed something vital. Eric explained further that when we are born again, we become children of God and enter His Home of Heaven when we die. Eli said he wanted to be born again! Eric explained salvation to him in "5 year old terms" and then allowed Eli to repeat the sinner's prayer. Eli was tickled pink and told us he wants to see his KiKi more than anyone else when he gets to Heaven. He also told us he is ready for his new body....but we told him that is a gift when you go to Heaven. Angels were dancing tonight around 8:15...and so was my heart! Thank you, Jesus!!!

Cade recalled his "Story" tonight. He said he was sitting at the kitchen table eating a cereal bar and simply asked Jesus to be his Savior. He is pretty was all his idea and that is the way I remember it, as well. He also told Eli that day that if he didn't ask Jesus to be his Savior, then he wouldn't go to heaven. At the age of 3, Eli could have cared less! But, glory, at the age of 5, he cares now!

Tears are overspilling...nothing new for Snotfest 2008, but this time, it is with great JOY! Thank you, Redeemer, for including Cade and Eli and for redeeming them at early ages. Guard their hearts and keep them from the evil one.

O' Happy Day to My Mommy!!

Happy Birthday to You!
Happy Birthday to You!
Don't shoot me for putting you on my blog...
Happy Birthday to You!

You soooooo cute!!

You are an amazing woman and I am so proud to be your firstborn daughter! Have a happy Monday!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

And...They Are Off! babies are off to 2nd grade and kindergarten. I often think about my memories of those grades and how certain things are still very vivid in my mind. I wonder what will stick out to them and be impressionable enough to remain through the years. Good things, hopefully!
I asked the boys this morning to give me examples of good behavior for their teachers. Eli blurted out with "Burp with my mouth closed!" and Cade said "to portray the fruits of the Spirit." He even knew what those fruits were. Said he learned that last night in church. Cool. Gotta like that.
I pray those kiddos are protected. I pray Eli's teacher instills in him a love of learning and teaches him that some things take patience and effort. I pray Cade is respectful to authority and doesn't come across as a know-it-all. I pray they are kind and loving to everyone in their classes. I pray my one-on-one time with Sam will be precious and fruitful. Thank you, Lord, for the opportunity to send these kids to this school. It is such a blessing to our whole family!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Last "Dog" Days of Summer

The boys start school tomorrow! They are very excited and I must say, so is their Mamma! They have done an excellent job of entertaining themselves and not fighting much this summer. At the beginning of the summer, they were given an incentive: for every 40 books that Cade read to Eli, they would receive a surprise...sometimes big and sometimes little. They tore through the books, I am telling you! We lost track of how many, but I think it was close to 200! Not bad for an almost second grader! They received prizes like going to Playworld, Jump Zone, getting a box of Popsicles, and taking a trip to the Dollar Store. I really liked how this worked out and will definitely do it in the future. Maybe next year, even Eli can read to Cade!
At breakfast this morning, I told the boys that tomorrow was the big day. They met their teachers yesterday at Open House and can't wait to go back. Since Eli is starting Kindergarten this year, I am not is only half day...and I will see him plenty in the afternoon. Yeah! Anyway, Cade informed me that in 3 years, once Sam is in school, I will be all alone. As an 8 year old, he didn't really notice that I didn't want to head down that emotional road, so he continued, "Will you be all right?" It hit me hard. I told him that we could always have another baby, but then he said that once that baby started school, I would be all by myself. Ugh, no arguing with this kid! He then proceeded to tell me that 3 kids were enough and that we would have no need for a girl in our house. Arg. Maybe we can just let God be Sovereign and let Him decide what is best for our family! (And besides, Cade would eat up a little girl; he is so tender
and caring.)
So, today is our last day of "summer!"

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Happy Birthday, Kiley

"This is the Day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24
Thank you, sweet Creator for blessing our family with Kiley. We had 24 years and 6 months with her. Even though the pain is deep, I would most definitely rather have her for a bit than not at all.
I was 6 years old when God ushered Kiley into my parent's presence. I was waiting patiently at my Nana and Grandad's when we finally got the phone call. Her name was Kiley Elisabeth. A sister! A sister to play dolls with, to roam our 5 acres with, to share a bed with, to talk about boys with, to show cows with, to laugh with, to pray with, to do Bible studies with, and to share with. There are so many "withs" that aren't going to let our kids play with each other, to let our husbands go golfing with each other, to simply celebrate the Savior's birth with each other in 2008. Still, I am thankful for the past and longing for the biggest reunion you have ever seen!
I am trying desperately to focus my thoughts today on being grateful for her time with us instead of depressed about her early departure. I am so thankful for hope. How do people function without it? Still, I know this day is going to hit hard for our family. We would love an extra prayer or two!
P. S.---I prayed a special prayer for ya, KiKi...that God would bless you today with something AMAZING!! He is the best gift-giver ever...I can't wait to find out what He does! I know heaven is eternal and time doesn't exist, but I can't help but think that God still celebrates these things! I mean, think about how many festivals He made for the Israelites to participate in. I think our God is a God who takes delight in declaring things "good." Your birth was one of those things!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sharing the Mystery

You are going to laugh at me if we go to the same church. Our preacher sent us out with a commission, and I am going to go about mine via the blog. (Michelle, now is the time that you will wish you were a Blog Queen.) I am not trying to cop-out by not talking to someone in person, but I think I can reach more people out here in cyberspace. (And, tis true that I would rather write than talk!)

Our sermon this morning was on the Mystery that Paul refers to in Ephesians chapter 3. Ken said that in Biblical times, mysteries were things that had been made KNOWN, not the unknown as we think of today. So, the great mystery in chapter 3 is that through the gospel, Gentiles (non Jews) and Jews are full partners as the people of God. Those redeemed by the shed blood of Jesus Christ are heirs together and receive the same promises. This may sound like no big deal to us, but from Paul's perspective, it was huge! (And the more I dwell on it, it IS huge!)

In the Old Testament, we see the Hebrew people as God's chosen people. They are set apart so that other nations will know the Israelites' God as the One True God. When God alone rescues His people time and time again, other nations marvel and many come to believe that Yahweh is the only God. Everything He does is for the glory of His name and for His names' sake. God is faithful to His people even when they are faithless to Him. After all, these people bear His name.

In the New Testament, we see God's plan for the nations. Because of the shed blood of His Son, all can stand on the same ground before God. The mystery is that God basically says it is too little for His grace just to save the Jewish people...He wants the Gentiles, as well. After Jesus declared Himself the Messiah, the Jewish people washed their hands of Him and most rejected him. But, God, once again, did not reject His people. He has turned his attention to the Gentiles, allowing the full number to come in...those that will accept Him. But, soon, God will turn His attention back to the Jewish people and His promise is that they WILL know Jesus as Redeemer...even if it takes the Tribulation to bring that about. (There is also always a Jewish remnant chosen by grace for here and now.) It is my belief that God will turn His attention away from the "bride" and back to the non-believing Jews by removing the Bride from the picture...rapture. But, that is another topic for another day.

So, back to my commission...if you are still reading!! The reality is that God's plan is simple. We believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that he died on the cross so that we might become righteousness...and that's about it...pretty simple, huh? It has nothing to do with good works, but simply asking Jesus to be Lord of our lives, forgive us of our sins, and accepting that His sacrifice is totally sufficient. Romans 10:9 says that if we confess with our mouths that "Jesus is Lord" and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead, then we are saved. Romans 10:13 says that "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." Romans 10:17 says that faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ."

Kiley's birthday is Tuesday. It has been a hard few days for me as I have pondered this. Sometimes I just wish that tears had an "off" valve. I keep thinking that surely they will dry up eventually. My sister would want others to know about her new home...she didn't do anything to deserve it. She simply said, "God has set everything right between him and me!!" It would be the best present ever if she knew you could say the same!

So, back to the mystery. It dumbfounds me that God extended his grace to the Gentiles and now I bear His name, as well. One of the reasons he did this was to show the angelic host His deep wisdom. In the church, the angels are able to see Christ's revelation of grace and the fact that he is totally sufficient!

My prayer is that Christ will dwell in your hearts through faith!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Book Review

I just finished book one of C.S. Lewis's Space Trilogy. I can't decide if I feel smarter or more stupid! The language is incredibly harder than that of his beloved "Chronicles of Narnia." In the first book, "Out of the Silent Planet," Dr. Ransom is kidnapped and taken to another planet. Here, we find other rational created beings that are nothing like humanity, but are exactly as they were meant to be by their Creator. It is a planet where sin has not left its mark. A planet that is not "silent" since the Bent One is not ruling.

It is a deep book. A delicious book. A complicated book. (I think there are a whole lot of philosophical ideas that I didn't really grasp.) A book that makes me long for a world where fear, worry, murder, stealing, greed, and lust do not exist. Lewis, once again, paints an incredibly believable "place" and makes all readers want to jump on the closest spaceship to have a little look for themselves.

Friday, August 15, 2008

What I did today...

I took the boys to Jump Zone this morning. They loved it! This was Sam's first time there and let's just say he didn't want to go home. I got to jump as well....I needed to go inside of each blow up thing to make sure Sam didn't lose his life! Since he is fearless, I am glad I did. One had a rock climbing thing that would have been a nice little tumble if he had slipped. Another was a narrow steep tunnel to climb vertically UP which was pitch black...and then you slide vertically STRAIGHT DOWN. It scared me to death...I don't think Sam was too fond of it, either! Anyway, a fun way to drop some money in a hurry!

This afternoon, I dug through tub after tub of the boys clothes...well, not all of them anyway! I sorted them into piles of things that Eli and Sam could wear this fall and then a huge pile of stuff that I just gave away on freecycle. (Feels good to give....that way I don't get mad at the consignment stores when they don't give me what I think my "precious" (and maybe worn out) stuff is worth.) Now, my laundry room is a mountainous heap of fall/winter clothes waiting to be washed free of the moth ball smell. If only I knew where I was going to HANG UP all of these clothes! Maybe I jumped the gun a bit on the season swap, but sometimes it just feels good to evaluate what your kids are going to need for the next season! Having all boys is not too bad...definitely easy on the clothing budget!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A word of Hope (6 months)

After cleaning my in laws' house today, I got tickled at how that ritual has become my "cry out to God time." I blast my music from my blog and go from deep anguished cries to jumping up and down in worship. Kiley left this world and entered the eternal presence of our sweet Saviour six months ago. As the tears fell, I humbly asked the Lord if the pain would ever end. Besides the pain, there are so many questions that I have. "What was running through her head at the time?" "Did she feel like the loneliest person ever in those moments?" "Why did God allow it?" "Will things get emotionally easier for our family?" I have no answers and have come to the conclusion that I won't. But, these verses gave me great comfort today...they are from the Message version of the 1 Corinthians chapter 13.

"We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!"

"But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love."

I really long for the day when things make sense! What joy it will be to see our Saviour's master plan and how He really DID turn bad into good for His children. In the meantime, I have a commission...and it happens to be the only one that will keep me sane. Trust God, hope in Heaven and God's love towards me, and love others like there is no tomorrow.

I also like how the Message describes the famous "love" and soak it up!

"Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first,"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others.
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies."

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Farmin' Brothers

While in Springdale, we went to the "land of Goshen" where my great grandparent's farm is. Dad is doing a great job keeping everything looking great. I think he baled over 450 bales of hay on one field alone. Thank you for the rain this past spring, Lord! Dad let the boys take turns driving the tractor while placing the bales of hay into the barn. They loved it! Cade and Eli did 3 bales each and Sam did 1.

Afterwards, Dad let them drive the Ranger round and round the barn. He let them pretend they were going to hit trucks and equipment when their steering skills weren't up to par. It was great fun for them. We all hopped into the Ranger to check the cows and horses. Sam tried to hop out once we reached the cows...he wanted to see them up close and personal. We restrained him and told him to stay put.

Those boys love their Sir. Eli decided that he is going to be a farmer so he can have animals and drive a big truck.

Cade is quite the poser for the camera these days. He wanted me to let you know that those are his muscles that you see in the one black and white shot!
I think Sam's favorite thing to do was throw rocks at the hay bales. There is something to be said for "wide open spaces" for little fellas to run around and discover.

Thanks for the special memories, Dad.

Porta Potty 101

We got to go see my Mom, Dad, Amelia, and Kirby for a long weekend. We happened to time it during the Grape Festival and decided to take the kids. It is this festival situated in the heart of Tontitown...minutes from Springdale. It was the 110th year for the festival. If I have my history correct, Italians settled in the town years ago and brought with them their flare for growing grapes, the Catholic church, and food. Oh, the food! Some of you may have even ventured into that town just for the food..."Mary Maestri's, Venetian Inn, and "Mama Z's." The latter is our favorite and once upon a time, we even had a barn cat named after her!

So, Dad got us in the door of our fave place...he might as well own stock in the place...he is quite the regular. I was so excited about the food I could hardly contain my grin. After 2 bowls of salad...who knew the secret ingredient of the dressing was Cottonseed oil??...I was grinning from ear to ear when my homemade spaghetti and meatballs arrived. Now, this is nothing like Prego, Ragu, or Newman's special. We are talking about the real deal here, folks...straight from Mama Zulpo herself! I ordered the "small" plate, knowing that I could (and would) be eating the portions that Eli and Sam left on their plates. MMMM, all I can say is take a road trip! After eating my big, fat roll topped with honey, we were off to the festival!

The boys got the treat of riding some rides...courtesy of Mim and Sir. Mini was quite upset that there wasn't a single one of us that would ride a "big" ride with her. She worked and worked on Cade, but that boy does have brains! Sam begged and begged to ride the "swide"...a huge slide that has big ups and downs in it. Eric rode it with him and I laughed at Sam's expression the whole way down. We asked him if he wanted to go again and he said "Noooooooooooo." He didn't take a lot of time to think about it, either!

I was hoping to enjoy the night by running into some old high school buddies. (Not OLD, mind you...just not new!) I didn't quite get my wish. As we were waiting for the boys to start the first ride, my tummy started a rumble that I knew was going to spell T_R_O_U_B_L_E!!! After daintily walking as fast as possible to the nearest outhouse, I was praying I would not stumble on the huge electrical cords or actually run into someone I knew who just might be a chatterbox.

I found the row of Johnny's on the Spot and started to get scared when all of them had the "male figure" symbol on them. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw some ladies and girls exiting them. At this point, I wouldn't have time to be politically correct in the gender arena.

Praising Jesus that my husband had told me to take my purse into the Grape Festival, I dug out my cute little baby wipes. After praising Jesus that there were quite a few in there, I began the purpose for the trip. After cleaning the lid off...and sitting there for awhile...and later going back for a second trip...I got some ideas about this whole Porta Potty thing! I think I can really boost the sales of these things if someone wants to steal my ideas! (Well, maybe not, some things just get used no matter what!)

Here are my ideas:
1. The tiny holes in the top perimeter just don't cut it. I understand that they can't be too big, but maybe more of them??
2. There really is a need for gender specific porta pottys. I mean, sitting nose to nose with the urinal just isn't fun. (And neither is standing in the spray that missed the urinal.)
3. The need for disinfecting wipes is just plain obvious. You send someone like Barbara in one of those things before she uses it and it will be spotless and germ free.
4. The need for a pump dispenser of antibacterial liquid is a must! I understand a sink is a bit tricky to put inside...but the germ erasing liquid would do nicely.
5. A cute little air freshening dispenser attached to the wall would be a wonderful addition.
6. A spray bottle of Febreeze would be nice when the air freshening dispenser isn't doing the trick.

Well, all that said, my Daddy didn't raise a "princess." I am just saying...if someone wants to turn the porta potty business ideas are free!

PS--There was a MIRROR in each porta potty! What on earth? Who wants to stand in front of a mirror to primp with THAT smell invading your nostrils?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Be Thou Shocked!

It is time for you to come home, Sweet Thang! Momma's gone wild! At least my stylist didn't tell me I had porno hair this time around!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Crafty Crazy

My Mother in law is begging for a new post, but I just don't have much to say! Eric has been AWOL, so I have used some time to catch up on scrapbooking and card making.

The boys got to go swimming yesterday in a "big" pool. I lost track of how many spankings brother #3 received. He is fearless and not listening very well to Mother dearest right now. Those aren't good combinations when surrounded by deep water!

We got to go to some friends' house today for a playday. ALL boys. Kinda crazy...tons of fun! I think I need a girlie beach trip sometime in the future! I continue to laugh at the fact that I have all boys. I am not athletic. I love painted toes and eye makeup. I adore little girls in smocking and lacy socks. Strange. Still, little boys capture my heart to no end!
Happy Wednesday.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

My New Friends

I have felt ridiculously close to Angie Smith and Nicol Sponberg these past months. You know them better as Todd Smith's wife and sister...he sings with Selah. When the music group Selah first started, Todd, Nicol, and another guy made up the trio. So, me saying I feel close to these ladies is like stating that Beth Moore is my best friend. (OK, she really is, she just doesn't know it yet!)

This has been a year of unexpected loss for my new BFF's and me. I know that is why I enjoy their often gives a voice to my grief. Angie lost her baby girl right after it delivered and Nicol lost her baby boy at 8 or 9 weeks. The other day, I was listening to one of my CD's full of "updated" hymns and the "original" Selah group started singing the song "There is a Fountain." I started singing with them at the "Redeeming love has been my theme and shall be til I die." It struck me at that moment that we were now singing that line because it was all we had left to cling to. It was a God-moment and I was just thankful to be singing a song with my brothers and sisters in Christ...singing with those that had the same heart's cry as me.

On Nicol's blog, they posted a poem that someone wrote for them. It really ministered to me.

Please Be Gentle
By Jill B. Englar

Please be gentle with me for I am grieving.
The sea I swim in is a lonely one and the shore seems miles away.
Waves of despair numb my soul as I struggle through each day.
My heart is heavy with sorrow.
I want to shout and scream and repeatedly ask 'why?'
At times, my grief overwhelms me and I weep bitterly, so great is my loss.
Please don’t turn away or tell me to move on with my life.
I must embrace my pain before I can begin to heal.
Companion me through tears and sit with me in loving silence.
Honor where I am in my journey, not where you think I should be.
Listen patiently to my story, I may need to tell it over and over again.
It’s how I begin to grasp the enormity of my loss.
Nurture me through the weeks and months ahead.
Forgive me when I seem distant and inconsolable.
A small flame still burns within my heart,
and shared memories may trigger both laughter and tears.
I need your support and understanding.
There is no right or wrong way to grieve.
I must find my own path.
Please, will you walk beside me?