Friday, October 31, 2008

Please Be Praying

I wanted to get all of you prayer warriors on board!!

A very dear family to us has a child in Boston having surgery (as I type) to remove an AVM in his brain. This is the same diagnosis that Claire had; however, Jonathan's AVM is in the frontal portion of his brain and is operable!! Please check out the Caring Bridge Website and be praying for Jonathan, his parents, sister, family, medical and surgical staff!

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Blessings!! Angela

Monday, October 27, 2008

"The Days Are Long but The Years Are Short"

It is so amazing to me how quickly time passes by! A couple of years ago, I kind of adopted the phrase "the days are long but the years are short" and have tried to remember it when I am exhausted and think that I cannot deal with one more request from my children. Prayerfully, I will look back on this season of my life and realize that I made the most of those long days and relished the simple things along the way!

We have had a couple of amazing weeks! Jeff, Abbigayle and I spent last weekend together going through the Passport2Purity curriculum! It was incredible!!!! Let me challenge anyone who has a middle school aged child in their home to work through this program with them!! Jeff and I have been preparing for this weekend for probably 6 years or so!! And let me just say it was well worth the anticipation and preparation!! The premise for the weekend was to spend focused time with Abbigayle praying with her and for her and preparing her as she enters into life as a teenager. We worked through 5 separate challenges, studies and object lessons, all of them dealing with different challenges that teenagers face! Abbigayle has a great head on her shoulders and it was refreshing for all of us to spend time together! We are really excited about what God will do in her life over the next few years!

Saturday night we went to the Steven Curtis Chapman and Michael W. Smith concert in Spartanburg! WOW!!! It was fantastic!! We enjoyed their music and listened to SCC talk about some of the difficult times their family is facing right now! We could relate so easily to his heart and lyrics to his songs! They began the concert with "How Great Is Our God" and ended it with "How Great Is Our God!" (What does that tell you about Our God?)

For no particular reason, last week was an especially sad and difficult week for us! Jeff and I have rarely been away from our children for more than a day or two and it has now been over three months since we held Claire in our arms for the last time! The reality that Claire is not coming back is sinking in for all of us and there have been a lot of tears! It is so evident that the seasons are changing and as I type this there are snow flurries whirling around outside! Tough to imagine the next couple of months without Claire Bear to enjoy them with!

Jeremiah 29:11 continues to be a scripture verse that is frequently brought to our attention! We have heard, read and seen this scripture placed in front of us many times since July 17th. Lord, I don't have a clue what your plan is for our lives nor do I understand how we will prosper from Claire's death, but I do believe that your word is true and I do believe that we have hope and peace in knowing that your plan is so much greater than our plan and our future will be so much richer because of our trust in you!

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Monday, October 13, 2008

"No, Really, How are you doing?"

We probably hear that question several times a day! So, I thought I would attempt to tell you all how we are doing!

We are OK! Life is really difficult!! The reality of life without Claire is settling in more and more each day and that is not getting easier! We miss her so much!! Really everyday is so hard and some days are more difficult than others!

Jeff and I are attending a Grief Share group and it is fantastic!!! It is a 13 week video series and support group for people who have had a recent death of a loved one! We highly recommend it!! ( Our group has met 4 times now and we always come away feeling loved on, understood and ready for the next group!! Jeff and I work together on the weekly discussion questions and use that as our devotions. It has been great to work on this together!! I feel so blessed that Jeff and I openly and honestly talk about our thoughts and feelings!

Abbigayle is doing well! I read somewhere that it may take a while for "surviving" siblings to get back into the groove at school, but Abbigayle and Caroline both have jumped right back in and are doing great!! I think some of that has to do with our tight community! They both have fabulous teachers and staff who are loving on them when we are not with them ~ Thank You Greenlee and Harris!!! Abbigayle has her last football game this evening and she has really enjoyed cheering!! That has been a great experience for her and we are very thankful for the diversion!! Go Blue Devils!! Our church family continues to wrap their arms around us and Abbigayle enjoys being a part of the youth group!! Abbigayle really appreciates the comments on her blog entries and checks her e-mails everyday, so feel free to send her an e-mail to lift her spirits! She doesn't talk as much as the other girls, but, this past Sunday our devotion focused around emotions/feelings and she said her primary emotion is confusion! She also said when people ask "how are you doing?" that question just doesn't matter anymore! Abbie now has a room to herself and hibernates in there to maintain her privacy (remember being 12)! Abbigayle does much better when she has one on one time with Jeff and I or when we spend time together as a family, we are taking her away this weekend to work through the Passport 2 Purity curriculum and we have a surprise for Saturday night that she will love!! (shhh!! keep it a secret!!) She is really wanting to spend time with our extended family, also, and with the holidays quickly approaching I'm glad she will have several opportunities to be with them!! Abbigayle is a great girl and I am so humbled to be her mother, she has insights far beyond her years!

Sweet Caroline!! She seems to be doing great also! She loves school and has a new story to share everyday! She has been to the cemetery several times in the last couple of weeks and that has seemed to be very comforting to her! She talks about Claire a lot!! And regularly gets quiet and will just say "I'm missing her!" Caroline is particularly working hard at reading, bicycling and piano, she will often say "Claire's with me!" Caroline loves clogging and is so thankful to have Tommy as her partner!

And Sarah! Jeff and I do not know what we would do without Sarah, right now!! She has turned in to the "court jester" and tries to get a laugh out of us all, whenever she can!! Several times a day, Sarah will hug me and say, "I miss Clarie Bear!" How much she understands, I don't know, but I do know she is helping to keep the rest of us going!!

So, "Really, how are we doing?" I don't know! I know that I don't let a day go by that I don't hug and kiss my girls and husband as often as I can, I do know that I cherish every moment with my friends and family, I do know that my heart breaks continually as my desire is to have Claire back with us, but I also know that Jeremiah 29:11 is so true "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

I know the rest of the world is continuing on their paths and for this season we are traveling along our own path and one day, maybe one day, we will have an indescribable joy in our hearts again, at least I believe that we will; "I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy." John 16:20-22

So keep us in your thoughts and prayers, that is truly sustaining us! Blessings!! Angela

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Are Those Ray Bans You're Wearing?

For really cheap entertainment, Jeff and I used to go to the mall and get a couple of cookies and milk (or coffee) and watch people! We would watch as people passed by and decide what their "story" was! When we are out, alone, we will say to each other "so what's their story?" and then we will make up some elaborate story about the lives of strangers based on their interactions with the other people they're with.

I have wondered several times over the past two months, "what do people think our story is?" By the way we interact with each other, would they ever know that we have recently buried one of our precious daughters. Or that it takes just about all the energy we can muster to get out of bed in the morning and even more energy to say "goodbye" to each other, when Jeff leaves for work. Would they ever know that only through prayer, encouragement from others and love for each other we can keep on each day? Would they ever imagine that our faith in God has sustained us through some of the darkest moments of our lives? Would they know that we are the parents of 4 beautiful daughters and not just 3?

Years ago, we were in Pigeon Forge and saw some friends (who shall remain totally anonymous)! We saw an interaction that was really out of character for who we knew they were and still know them to be. I have wondered many (I'd rather say a few, but, OK several) times, since that day, if I loose my patience with Jeff or the girls and we are out in public, who just saw that? What kind of witness was that, to my spouse, children or others around me?

I think my take home message is this: you never really know what someone else is going through, especially if you don't know them on a personal level. Even then, we may not truly understand or appreciate what others around are dealing with inside of their spirit. You know the saying "you cannot truly understand until you have walked a mile in another man's moccasins." Well, I have decided you can never truly understand what anyone else is going through because God wired us all so differently that our emotions, experiences and spirit direct us in different paths. As close as Jeff and I are, we truly do NOT know what the other is dealing with. We are each grieving on different levels for Claire.

So again, my take home message, be patient with one another, including those in your home, those in your workplace, those in your communities and those strangers that you will meet today (you know the salesclerk, the waiter or the bank teller) for you do not know what they are dealing with inside of their soul!

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way. Romans 14:13 (NIV)