Sunday, May 30, 2010

When words are not enough...


Tony and me at my wedding reception.  He greeted my guests as my "cousin Bubba"

Confession:  I want to be a hero.. I want to be the person that has all the right things to say at all the right times.. I want to be able to write my little post and it somehow be so amazing that everyone turns from it with a smile on their face to go on with their lives to live happily ever after...I want to write something that inspires people to live stronger and be better.   I have that post sitting in my drafts... It's title: "Someday I Hope You Get the Chance to Live Like You're Never Dying".. But we all know it's not that simple.  It's supposed to be a play on words.. I want to tell you what an inspiring life that Tony lived.  One where he never pitied himself.  One where he embraced each day like it was his last while all along never believing that day would ever come.  One that made doctors shake their heads in disbelief.  One that made everyone want to embrace the God that he loves that gave him a hope we could not understand.  A life that made parents hold their children tighter and husbands love their wives stronger.. I want to tell you about my Aunt and Uncle's strength.  A strength that helped Tony fight way longer than anyone thought possible.  A strength that enabled them to let go when it was time for Tony to move on to a new phase in life.  And a wisdom that allowed them to pull in or give him a push when needed.  I want to tell you about their love.. The kind that actually loves people into being better.. The kind that didn't result in just one child embracing life but three children that embraced life and embraced the kind of love that is so unreserved that it opens a person up to a pain that is almost too much to bear.  And, I want to tell you how they embraced three more children as their children found their loves... .  I want to tell you about the beautiful child that was given to he and his wife, through a series of unlikely events, too coincidental  to be coincidence.  I want to tell you about the way he loved that boy.  I want you to know that Tony was not special because of his disease.   He was special in spite of it.    And, while all of these things are completely and totally without a doubt true, they are anemic.  They only give you a glimpse of a picture that can not be described.  The problem with the human language is that I find myself trying to explain such abnormal, extraordinary things with such normal, ordinary words. 

I walked out of the visitation on Wed. night
and saw this rainbow right over the funeral home and
made a mad dash for my camera. 
Chloe said it was "Tony's rainbow". 
PS: It had not been raining..

The truth about me is... I'm angry..  I could tell you what an awesome service it was and how it tied everything together with a neat little bow and how we all went away with a warm and fuzzy feeling in our hearts.  But that would be a lie.. And leave it up to me to say all the things we're not supposed to say.. The service: beautiful? yes. Honoring? absolutely!  Was God there? I have no doubt.. But, while I wanted to thank God for the beautiful life that Tony lived,  the selfish part of my heart was screaming, I hate this.  I am angry..  I know what you're thinking.. I'm the preacher's wife.  I should never have doubts.  Especially not about God.. And you know what?  That makes me even more angry.  And here's some news that shouldn't be new.  God already knows.. It's not like I could hide it from him anyway.. But just to make sure He knew, I told him.  I'm angry that my family is hurting and that there's nothing that I can do.  I am angry that we didn't get our miracle the way we wanted it.  That I had it all worked out in my mind, the people that needed their faith strengthened by seeing a miracle (myself included).  And as He so often does, God said to me, "Dana, I don't need your help".  And, that makes me angry again.. I'm angry because, though we all want to say that time heals all wounds, I know that it doesn't.  While time may teach us how to live with the wound, it will never completely heal it.  And I'm even angry at the suggestion that it should.. I'm angry at myself for being selfish.  For not just being okay with letting him go and being healed.  I'm angry that I'm scared.  That people will be right.  That everything will be okay.  Because I'm not okay with just okay.  I'm angry that faith has been confused with acceptance.  That faith has been portrayed as believing without ever doubting..  I'm angry that I know that this won't be the last time I feel this kind of pain.  Or worse, I'm afraid that I will give into my fears and guard my heart so that I will never have to feel it again.  And I'm sorry.  I'm sorry that this is left open.  Because I just can't bare to close it. 

And just in case there's someone else out there that has those same fears.. Just in case there is someone else other than me that has had the ridiculously stupid thought that they'll try to keep themselves from everything that is good about life so that they can save themselves some pain, I'll share a quote that I found as I was desperately searching for words of comfort:

"Do you want me to tell you something really subversive? Love is everything it’s cracked up to be. That’s why people are so cynical about it. It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more."

—Erica Jong

And so here I am again, raw and open.. Because I can never keep up a show of being something  I am not.  I have no doubt that we will come out of this deep abyss even stronger..  That the prayers and support of those we love will pull us out.  And I know that through our screams we will continue to hear God whisper,  "I am here".  We will soon laugh about the good times and marvel at the miracles that came from Tony's story.    But, for now, the abyss is deep and it is dark and I am weak and only time can teach us a new way of living..  So please give us grace as we learn to make peace with our new pain..  

From the dove release at Tony's funeral.
It has to be the grace of God that allowed
me to catch this shot.  Once I was asked to do it,
I got so nervous and was shaking so badly at the thought
of only having one chance, I just knew that everything
 would come out blurry. 

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Back to the Basics-- A Recession Style Summer

Though none of us would have ever chosen the hardship our country has gone through these past few years, there is a trend that I've seen develop, because of the recession, that I love. All over the country, being frugal has become a trendy thing. Just do a search for "frugal moms" or "coupon mom" and the lists are endless. I guess my love of this trend is a little self serving because we've always sort of lived a little "recession style," since we've always been a one income family. I think I just like the fact that the way we live has become "the thing to do".

Since my mother was also a "recession style" mother, and I have only fond memories of my childhood (aside from that one rusty nail), I hope to one day hear my girls say things like, "remember when we were kids and mom and dad were broke because mom was a stay at home mom and we..... that was the best night EVER!!"

We had one of those evenings the other night. We loaded the girls up and went to a park with a walking trail. We walked along the trail, skillfully scouting out blackberry bushes and had a wonderful time picking out the most scrumptious berries and competing to see who could find the largest, most juicy, blackberry.

As cheesey as it sounds, I fell a little bit deeper in love with Adam because of his dedication to finding a blackberry the size that would impress us girls, and his dedication to our adventure that kept him from moving ahead to the next bush, until he had reached his absolute furthest, getting that very last blackberry each time. And, the squeals that came from the girls when we found the "motherload" of blackberries are still lingering in my mind, fondly, but quite literally. When we got back in the car, Emma exclaimed, "THIS WAS THE BEST FAMILY NIGHT EVER!!!". To which Adam said, "Man we've wasted a lot of money". I came home and made a scrumptious blackberry cobbler (if I do say so myself.)

I'll share that super easy recipe at the end off this post. Believe me, if it can work for me, it can work for anyone!

You know, we went some places and bought some things when I was a kid, that now as an adult, I know my parents must have saved for, for years. But, I can't recall what they were. I do have some wonderful memories though. I remember playing for hours in a playhouse that my dad refurbished when the neighbors were tossing it out. I remember picnics at the park with my mother. I remember dancing around the livingroom in my mother's arms to the sound of Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton singing "Islands in the Stream". I remember holding the pieces of wood as my dad built a deck around the above ground pool that my grandparents handed down to us. I fondly remember the "work truck" that my dad had, which gave me a peek at the pavement underneath and backfired every time he shifted gears. I remember the tiny little cakes that my mom made for the birthday parties we had for my dolls. And, it's those memories that give me a lump in my throat and make my heart swell with love and appreciation for my parents.

And so, I've made it my mission to make more of those free, "best family moments" with our girls. I hope one day to hear my kids say things like, "remember how we used to play hide n' go seek in the dark on summer nights" or "remember that summer when we built that fort in the livingroom floor and we all slept in it" or "remember how mom used to go buy treats from the Dollar Tree and hide them in our sandbox for us to have a treasure hunt". It is my hope, that this recession style summer will bring lots of truly priceless memories for our family.

Mom's Easy Cobbler.

1 cup self rising flour

1 cup butter, melted

1 cup sugar

1 cup milk.

Sweeten berries, mix above ingredients together in a bowl. Pour mixture in a greased baking dish. Pour berries in the middle of dish being careful not to let them reach the edges. Bake at 350 degrees until the top is slightly brown.

There you go! Easy as... well, cobbler!

And speaking of sand boxes. You'll find a wonderful post called, "Back to the Sandbox" over atjanetlansbury. Thank you Janet for the inspiration!



Wednesday, May 19, 2010

"The Natalie Series" by: Dandi Daley Mackall

Recently, I expressed to our Zondervan blogger review contact, that I would love to find a good beginner reader chapter series for Emma.  It wasn't long before I recieved two of The Nat Series by Dandi Daley Mackall.

Emma has become quite the little first grade reader and can breeze through a storybook in no time.  But though she's reading very well, some of the larger children's novels seemed to be too overwhelming in size for her to get the courage to dive right into.

When I pulled the Natalie books out of the box from Zondervan, Emma quickly grabbed, Natalie and the One of a Kind Wonderful Day!

 and took off to her room..  It wasn't long before she was reporting to me about the omelet that Natalie was trying to make and how she spilled sugar all over the floor (we'll leave that one for them to straighten out at cooking camp this summer).  The books have adorable illustrations every few pages of a fun loving little girl named Natalie.  And with the short chapters and illustrations every so often, they work as perfect introductions to chapter books.

 I knew Emma had become a fan of the books but I became a fan when Emma brought me a little report that she wrote about the second book she read: "Natalie Really Very Much Wants to Be a Star". 

You can read the report that Emma wrote over on her blog, "Hope for The People"!  I think Emma's report is the most convincing proof we have of the newfound treasure we've found in "The Nat Series" And if I do so say myself, I found her report quite adorable..

We look forward to finishing off our Nat Collection this summer! You can browse one of the Natalie books here: 



Tuesday, May 18, 2010


This is my perspective from my little corner of the world.  I want to make clear that I do not think that this story is about me.  There are a group of people over in Birmingham Alabama that have tremendous strength and faith that I only hope of one day obtaining and, I  know that I will, because of the example that they have displayed for me..  Please also know, that a lot of this is what I've concluded from information coming from here and there.  I have read countless medical journals and even e-mailed back and forth with several pulmonary doctors but still have only understood half of what I've been given.    But, I keep being asked about what's going on and I keep waiting on a complete story to tell.. A story of healing one way or another.  But, for whatever reason, Tony keeps hanging on.. And it makes me believe that for some reason that I don't understand, the importance is in the fight.

I have written about Tony before.  He was born with Cystic Fibrosis and had a Lung Transplant in July 2009.  You can read previous posts that explain those situations in more detail HERE.  Around Thanksgiving, he went into the hospital with an infection.. He had many treatments going in and out of the hospital and a few surgeries, one even removing the part of the lung with the infection.  When they removed a part of the lung, they thought they had taken care of the infection..   He went back in for a check up a few weeks ago and found out that the bacteria was growing back.  We have since learned that the bacteria is
burkholderia gladioli.  Until somewhere between 1996-1998, this bacteria was only thought to exist in plants.  They have since learned that it is a common bacteria in adult CF patients.. Apparently, there are different bacterias common in CF patients at different ages.  This particular bacteria typically lies dormant in the airways and sometimes is able to take hold after a lung transplant because the patient is immuno suppressed. 

I think it's  been a week now since I got the first call.   It was either Monday or Tuesday.  The days are all blurred together.   My mother called quite hysterical saying that it didn't look like Tony was going to make it.  The doctors had said that they were stumped.  They were calling other transplant centers to ask for suggestions but they had tried everything they knew to try.  The antibiotic was killing the bacteria in the culture, but not in his body.  They spoke with some doctors in the pulmonary department at the University of North Carolina and began a new treatment.  On Wed., they made the decision to put Tony on a ventilator so that he could rest and give the new treatment the chance to work.  The family was called in several times because his stats had began to drop and then they would rebound again. 

Through this all, I've been torn with what to pray.. It has been a rollercoaster of hope and doubt, fear and bravery, sadness and yes even some happiness.  But, mostly bittersweetnesses.  We all believe in an afterlife better than we could ever dream of.   We know that if anyone has lived a life worthy of God's presence, it would be Tony.  We know that through Tony, God has sent us two precious angels (his wife and son) that will help carry on his name.   Yet still, I can't give up hope until his heart stops beating.  And then, it would only be a new hope..

My cousin Tracy and I talked for a long time yesterday and she told me about a prayer that she had seen someone else write about him. It went something like this: Our faith longs for your will and knows that your will is best but our hearts pray for healing. We felt like that adequately expressed our thoughts and it has become my prayer as well.

I hadn't slept for more than a couple of hours for days (this is nothing compared to what the family that is there with him has gone through) but, I knew that if he does go (I just can't bring myself to say "when" he does go), I couldn't drive over there on that little amount of sleep. Plus, my family here all had a cold a couple of weeks ago and mine is still lingering in my chest.   I don't think I'm getting over it because I haven't had any rest. So, I took something and went to bed at 8:00p.m. and woke at 5:00 a.m.  There is so much more to say but my heart cannot find the words to express my feelings.  My family covets your prayers and thanks you for the love and support we've felt from all over the nation. 
You can read Tony's wife's caringbridge journal entries that give the latest updates HERE.  What a miracle she is!  Our family is so blessed that she chose us to be hers..

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Where Have I Been?

It's become a common question these days when referring to my blogging participation.    I was looking back over my blog at this time last year and I am wondering if being scarce this time of year is simply becoming a spring trend.  Just as when it did last year, Spring rolled around and I started doing a mental inventory of my to-do list and realized I only had a few weeks to do all the things I had planned on doing before Emma got out for summer vacation.  So, I've turned my spring cleaning switch to high and have desperately been pushing against the clock to finish up various projects that have been lingering so that I can  I can turn my attention fully on Summer fun when school gets out.

But, it's not exactly accurate to say that I haven't spent much time in the blogosphere lately and I think it's time I let the cat out of the bag.  Back in February, my friend Holly asked me if I was interested in working on a joint effort "mom blog".  In my desperation to find something to contribute that matters to the world, I readily agreed.  Holly and I had a ball e-mailing back and forth, sharing ideas and dreaming about something that could be created that would help mom's with everyday struggles.  We created a pretty spiffy looking website (if I do say so myself) and then found ourselves losing momentum.  We committed to not losing sight of our purpose of the mom blog (encouragement to ourselves and to other moms) and we asked the question: What is it that we could use most as mom's of small children? We came to the conclusion that having any type of ongoing spiritual conversations with other women had become virtually impossible and that it was a struggle to stay spiritually strong without that kind of support. 

We both agreed that using the new blog in some way, for mom's to have discussions with both women in our same stage of life as well as women in a different place in life, with a different perspective, would be the ideal situation for our new blog.  However, we were really struggling to meet the needs of our family and give this new project the time it would need to really get it off the ground.  We finally came to the conclusion that the new blog would have to be put on the back burner as a dream to be fulfilled at a later point and time.  And, just a couple of days after we made the decision to set our blog dream aside, I got an e-mail from a contact at Zondervan Publishing informing me of an opportunity that she had for me to host book discussions with various authors in an online format.   I forwarded the e-mail from Zondervan to Holly with the subject line, "Is God Speaking"? Holly replied thinking that indeed He was and so, was born, "The Mom-tage".  We are so excited about this opportunity and would love for you to join us! 

Please check out this new blog and read the latest post concerning the book discussions.  We'd love for you to grab our button and share it with your friends!  Zondervan is including some great giveaways to go along with the launch of our new endeavor.  So, please accept this as your official invitation to join, "The Momtage". 

You can grab a button for your own site by copying the code below the button. 

Again, I stress that this blog is not just for those that have small children.  That just happens to be our current stage of life.  But the only criteria is to have the desire to grow with and encourage each other!


We hope to see you in The Mom-tage chat rooms Soon!



Saturday, May 08, 2010

Happy Mother's Day! A Tribute to My Mother

This is actually a repost from last year.  But last year, it was two weeks late.  So I guess this kind of makes it early... Or a year late..  No matter, it's still true this year.

 Adam has to be at church an hour and a half earlier than me because they are having a book discussion before church. Since we don't have classes in the morning, I take full advantage of my extra time at home since there would be no book discussing if my kids were there. Typically, the girls play nicely just until Adam leaves and soon after he makes his departure, the chaos begins.  I have a long held hunch that they spend their time while daddy is at home, quietly plotting how to push mom over the edge once dad leaves.  After a morning of harldy being seen,  Adam walks out the door,  and they appear right under my feet.

Anyway, I being the flip flop kind of girl that I am,  just love the fact that I can find a pair of flip flops with a little bit of a heal on them and some beads on the straps and call them dress shoes. So, on this particular day (Mother's Day), I put on my "dressy" flip flops and noticed that my toe nail polish was chipped on the ends. In my normal Sunday single mother rush, I ran into the bathroom and grabbed the nail polish and touched up the ends of my toes. Declaring it a decent job unless someone looks closely, I moved on to the mirror for makeup. About that time, Chloe, stepped on my toe.. My freshly painted toenail!

In typical, Sunday morning rush fashion, I felt the irritation rising inside me.   But, I repressed the irritation, in honor of the day, feeling the need to be a sweet, patient, mother, therefore earning the honor. And, I began to think about a particular Mother's Day with my mother....

 I was about seven years old. I had only a few dollars that I am assuming that I got from her in the first place. So I went to Family Dollar with my dad and I bought my mom the most beautiful I had ever seen- three dollar-Pepto Bismal pink- plastic set of beads. Both necklace and bracelet. (Nice job of guiding that one dad).

Now I'm pretty crafty at handling this type of situations with my children. My solution would be something of this sort: "Oh wow, these are the most beautiful beads that I have ever seen. I don't have a dress to match this color of pink but I have the perfect pajamas! So tomorrow night, we are going to have a candlelit mother daughter pajama dinner! And I am going to make all of our favorite foods and then we are going to talk about all things that we love about each other and I am going to wear these beautiful beads". Now, I have no doubt that this would work with Emma and she would think I was the coolest mother in the world for it.

But heres the thing... Twenty four years later (yes I did count on my fingers), I remember the dress that my mother pulled out of the closet saying that it would go perfectly with those beads. That dress was not pink. It was more of a rose color and it did not match those horrible beads.. And I remember how she ooohed and ahhed as she had me clasp that necklace around her neck. And when we got to church and I realized that all the other mothers had corsages and I hadn't gotten my mother one. My mother told me not to brag because the other mothers only got a flower and not beautiful beads that they could wear over and over again. And I sat there next to my mother not yet fully understanding why she was truly the best mother in world but, feeling confident that I was definitely the best daughter in the world. And you know what? When I called her this year on Sunday morning to wish her a Happy Mother's Day, and mentioned the beads, she told me that she still had them and she still thought they were beautiful. And when I really think about it,  I know that those sort of situations were probably, the most influential situations of my life. No matter how bad I fumble, my mom is always there, cheering me on, thinking I'm great. And I know that I will always have that security.

And so, there were all of those thoughts over a simple smudge in toenail polish. And inspired by my mother, I reached down and fluffed Chloe's hair and took a step in the direction of being the kind of mother mine was and wore my smudge to church.  And it was a wonderful day!



Thursday, May 06, 2010

Anti-Minivan Moms Look Up

This is dedicated to all of my mom friends who are still under the illusion that they're too cool for a minivan :).  Thanks Mandy!  I needed a laugh.