The world of Disney that is…I am thinking that maybe…just maybe it is as exhausting as actually travelling around the whole world…just a thought.
We couldn’t have had such a nice trip without the generosity of many. We were also greatly blessed by God to have such amazing memories…things just worked in our favor. We didn’t deserve any of it, we didn’t need any of it, but it was a wonderful wonderful time!
A few tips for any potential Disney goers…
I am surrounded (literally) by the hundreds (um…1000+) photos that we printed. Shutterfly’s free unlimited 4×6 prints was a lifesaver! Looking through them is a bit mind blowing. A year of crazy planning, a week of insane walking/riding/sweating has been over now for a couple weeks. Life has resumed to normal, but the memories in mind and photo will be a vivid part our family conversations for years to come.
The moment is now. Don’t let it pass you. Everywhere around me I see family, friends, loved ones and strangers…all people getting hit hard by “life.” These may just be the birthing pains that are the mere beginning of the end of the world to come. Or they could be more. Why take the chance? No matter what, we know this life is not forever. Now is the time to have that conversation you have been putting off, ask for forgiveness, give forgiveness, pass on memories, pass on legacies and most importantly have a one on one conversation with your Lord and Savior. Ask Him to guide you, lead you, forgive you. Ask Him to live in your heart. Give yourself to Him for eternity.
Yesterday night I couldn’t sleep…it is funny how our bodies react to things. I think about Joshua every single day, but whether I want to or not, the emotions come flowing out this time of year. My mind spins, my memories overwhelm me. I don’t think this is a bad thing…I want to remember, even if it is painful. Anyway, since I was awake with a racing mind, I finally got out of bed and I blogged at 4:30 yesterday morning about Satan attacking people around Christmas. Wouldn’t you know, about 12 hours later, he struck again.
My heart and prayers are with my aunt, my cousins and my whole family as we mourn the loss of my uncle who passed away yesterday with a great suddenness. My aunt has a confident peace and hope that her husband is now with his Lord and Savior. That is the only comfort for someone who suffers a great loss. It doesn’t make the pain go away, it doesn’t mean there are no hard times, but there is a huge relief knowing that the one you lost is eternally at rest and made new.
My sweet cousin after just hearing the news late last night was the first one this morning who remembered Joshua with us. It is an honor that people still take the time to remember him.
There are lots of trials and struggles in our world each day…here and across the world. God is still and always BIGGER and he will overcome!
I love Christmas! Obviously first and foremost I love Christmas because of what it is. Christmas is nothing less than the birth of my Lord and Savior. Without His perfect and precious birth, we would be nothing. Without His life begun, He could not have laid down His life for my sins and there would be no hope in this world. We are nothing, there is nothing, there would be nothing to have faith in or hope for…without Him we would all be sentenced to eternal death. Not only did He do all of that for me and you, but He has showered me with blessings of life, love, family, food, shelter…and on and on. I also love Christmas because, as you all know by now, I adore being with family and friends. I enjoy gathering around sharing food and fun memories while making new memories. It is a special time filled with traditions.
The enemy does not love Christmas. In fact, He knows that we are saved because of the birth of Jesus Christ. I think that is why there is so much pain at Christmas sometimes. He attacks people at their weakest at a time when they are praising the One who saved them. He attacks and tries to turn their vulnerability into a reason to distrust God. This is when we need God the most! He will not let us falter, He will not let us down, He does walk through every joy and every sorrow with us.
Hanging the ornaments on our Christmas tree each year is bittersweet. There are ornaments that were meant for Joshua. There are ornaments from people that are no longer here…that died too young. There are bitter memories along with sweet ones. My parents just attended a funeral of a great man who was attacked by cancer. His family knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is celebrating Christmas with his Savior this year, but each Christmas will have a scar as they remember the husband, father, brother and friend that they lost. My friend just was served divorce papers this week, a friend who has done nothing but try to save her marriage as her spouse has thrown it away. Another friend is facing her third Christmas without her husband at home. Life is tough and it seems to get harder at the times when we think we should be untouchable. Satan may attack, he may even win a few battles, but we know that the Lord is the ultimate victor. We know the end and He has already won. Don’t lose hope, don’t lose faith, put your trust in the One who is with you each step of the way. Celebrate Christmas and have joy in the Lord!
My children were once super small, helpless, “innocent” blessings. I was never the mom who was sentimental about putting their clothes away or giving them away, because I was always excited for the next stage. There were a few special items/outfits that I packed away instead of giving away. In my sentimental mind, I wanted to hold onto those items. In my practical mind, I didn’t know why. Would my grandkids, someday, wear these clothes, or would they just moved from box to box and house to house? I decided to have their most special clothes made into quilts. I decided it many years before doing it. But I now have all 4 quilts and I adore them!!!!! Yes, 4, we used intended clothing and bedding items for Joshua’s. It is so nice to have sweet memories on display for me to treasure each day.
Michelle, from Willow Creek Studios, is the master behind these precious quilts. I highly recommend her and her talents. You should check out her website.
In the meantime, check out my photos below.
There are moments that strike you when you love people. Moments that tug at your heart, break your heart and bring tears to your eyes. These moments could occur when you love the living, the healthy and whole, the sick, or those who go before you. Each moment is precious. This post is going to be about those moments with my children.
My adopted son…it was such a journey to bring him to our home. There were MANY MANY heartaches along the way…including a little boy who didn’t make it to our home, but whom we still hold in prayer along with his family. I look at my adopted son often while we are on adventures…days at the lake, days at the amusement park, camping…I think of where he could be if not with us. It brings me joy to see him experiencing great things and even the “small things” like cuddling on the couch for movie night. These things he may not have known if God hadn’t brought Him to us. And where would we be without his smile, his laugh and his crazy energy? How richly God has blessed us! We had multitudes of people praying for him and God answered with His perfect plan.
My daughter who we feared would never come…not because she had health issues, but because we had already experienced a loss of a child and my pregnancy with her was a bit stressful. She is all grace…she is sweet and caring and the moments that strike me are when she tells us of how she wants to please Jesus. She approaches His feet with genuine requests and full belief. She came a bit early and the doctors weren’t sure her lungs would be developed when she was born. It makes me chuckle as I recall having those same multitudes pray for her lungs and she was THE LOUDEST baby I have ever heard. 😉
My youngest. We had some scares with him. The doctors were pretty convinced that he would be born with Trisomy or Down’s Syndrome or a heart defect. He had all the warning signs. We prayed and again asked all our family members and friends to pray for a miracle and he was healed…we believe he was healed. Up until the last ultrasound (and there were a lot) the signs were still there for one of those issues and he was born perfectly healthy. Those memories come back to me in a flash when I see him enjoying life, learning, running and laughing. Those memories also flood me when I see others in the same place whose news did not turn out the same as ours.
I think God gave me these moments so I would not take them for granted…and I am afraid I still do at times. But each smile and hug and laugh is precious and bring about more moments and memories.
Finally, my Joshua. Joshua means The Lord is Salvation. We prayed for his name and God gave us that name in a very unique way…it came in the mail. True…very true. Anyway, I am blessed to know that is the name He chose for my baby boy who went on before me. So many moments remind me of him. Of course, just like my other children, I think of him daily. I don’t cry everyday, but there are still days that I cry for him or my heart breaks for him. The typical days that bring a flood of memories include his birthday and holidays. Certain songs will be a trigger as well. Sometimes beautiful days, good family days and happy times trigger a twinge of sadness also, because I wonder what he would be like or how he would add to our family. Yesterday was pregnancy and infant loss awareness day…I pray for all who have lost children for any reason at any age.
Despite the ups and downs, the joys and heartbreaks, and even the times when we fell apart…we are richly blessed. God has given us joy in each of our children. Each and every one is precious and brings special and sacred memories. Sometimes going through the days these memories just hit me and I know I have been blessed and that my Lord and Savior holds these children in the palm of His hand.
The whole family went on a little road trip today and came across a wishing well. The kids were fascinated with the coins at the bottom of the deep well. My youngest came over to me and I picked him up. He said, “I don’t want to ever go in that wishing well.” I agreed thinking he was envisioning the long drop.
He went on to say, “Then people would put me in their piggy banks.”
That was priceless. I went a bit further and asked if he would then be spent for things like toys. This brought up an interesting conversation about what toy his brother would spend him on. I told him if he were in my piggy bank, I would never spend him. I would keep him forever.
He gave me a look that only he can give, a bit of surprise, a lot of happiness, and asked with some amazement, “You would?”
I got a pretty good hug after that.
Welcome to my 200th post! I had taken a little break from the daily blogging to spend some quality time with family and such. But now I am back for my 200th post (plus a couple extras a snuck in right before adding this one). And so that being said here are some things that I have learned since blogging, not because of my blog, but just because God is allowing me to learn and I am blessed by Him!
* God is more than enough! Of course I have known this for awhile, but He continues to remind me gently, and yes boldly sometimes, that He is the center of everything and I only need Him, His approval, His blessings, His gifts.
* Family is everything (after God). Again, something I have known, but as each day passes I cherish more and more the moments with my family…immediate and extended. These are the people that live life with you and the people that share the best memories with you (along with the hardest struggles)… and the people I hope to spend eternity with someday.
* Some of my friends are as close as family and so all that I wrote in the previous paragraph applies.
* Stuff is burdensome. Again, already known, again, each day I realize more and more. I want to instill in my kids right now how silly stuff can be…but they are so young. I loved my family when I was their age, just like they love theirs, but they do love their prize possessions as well. I hope they learn (and really know) earlier than later that their most prized possessions are Our Lord and Savior and the people He put in our lives.
* My body is what it is and if it changes, it doesn’t change what is inside. This is an enormous lesson learned…and still being learned. I am not a big person, but I have my areas of complaint physically. I have gone down and back up 20 pounds in the last 3 years, but I was ok before losing the weight. Now that I am back up, even though I know I am ok, I still struggle with wanting to be less. I am battling the fact that I can eat almost anything I want and stay at the size I am at now, which is not a bad size, but may not be the healthiest choice in the world. OR I can eat a lot less and go down a size, but I would look a little better and be a lot healthier. Being an active person tempts me to want to just stay at my size, so that is my daily struggle. Wow…see you can tell I am still learning, but at the end of the day I know my husband loves me either way, I am pretty healthy either way, and I should be working more on changing the inside of me.
* It is just as hard to change the inside of a person as it is to change the outside and it is SO MUCH more important to focus on the inside. Old habits die hard and are not easy to forego.
* Only the red ICE drinks explode when you open them…the others don’t…why is that? (I had to throw something light in my life lessons rambling…but it is true).
Yesterday we went to the cemetery. We always go on Mother’s Day and Joshua’s birthday, and then as much as we are able throughout the year. We went to the cemetery after visiting our friends who are dealing with fresh grief right now. They are constantly in my thoughts and prayers. My heart breaks for the devastating situation they are going through right now. We have old grief. Old grief is like a covered wound. It is concealed and on the surface okay, but can be ripped open at any time and be flooded with pain. The thing about old grief, though, is that even though pain comes, your tolerance for it builds. The words our friends said were verbatim to words I have said since we lost Joshua…it is interesting how God gives us similar wisdoms to get through trials. “…a new normal.” “…pain won’t go away but will be manageable.” “…it is really real.” “…life shouldn’t keep going when ours is stopping.” The events they are going through this week brought back our events like they happened yesterday. (I am not saying they are the same, not saying the pain or grief is the same, just saying we both grieved for loved ones).
So with their words swimming in my head with my own recollections I was flooded with memories of our loss. I remembered thinking I couldn’t pinpoint which day was the hardest in my life…the day we said goodbye at the hospital…the day we had to choose a headstone and floral arrangement for a baby…or the day when life had to continue and he really couldn’t be with us. I recalled standing at his gravesite after the funeral before he was buried. The men that were to bury him were waiting for us, I knew. They kept their respectful distance, but just knowing they were waiting made my skin crawl a little. I remembered memorizing Joshua’s features in the hospital, because I knew, sadly, that reality and time would make those memories fade, so I studied him and memorized him …not just his pictures. I remembered how my husband stood by my side and held me up through everything. I remembered looking back and being so grateful for the shock so I could get through the week. I think shock is a gift from God. I remembered feeling guilty the first time I smiled after he was gone. In my remembering, I also remembered the rays of light that came through this time too. Multitudes of amazing support from family and friends, God’s unfailing love giving us hope and strength, sweet memories, a way to support others in the future. Joshua’s life has touched many. We celebrate that he is with our Lord and Savior even though we miss him. We try to teach the kids that as well, as we often decorate his spot with balloons and each child takes his/her own toy to leave there…sometimes we even picnic there. Grief is hard, but often produces beauty on the other side.
As Mother’s Day was approaching on the radio and at church I often heard how difficult it would be for some…I already knew that…having friends and family who are not able to have children, knowing others who have lost moms or children…but I was pleased that they were remembered. I found it interesting that those who lost mothers were mentioned and those who couldn’t have children, but not those who lost children(in what I heard). I was not in the least offended…truly…I think it is because it is just not as common…it is just not how we think the world is supposed to work. Thankfully we are not as smart as God and His plan is perfect!
I have always been one to enjoy parties, holidays, birthdays, celebrations. But…this year at various events I realized that all these “fun” days always leave someone feeling sad. Birthdays are hard for the ones who haven’t met goals. Mother’s Day can be hard for moms (or women who want to be moms) and children…Father’s Day can be hard for dads (or men who want to be dads and children). At each holiday someone may be missed or someone could hold regret. I am certainly not boycotting holidays and celebrations, but perhaps being challenged once again to make the most of each person in my life each day. I should celebrate my loved ones everyday! They are not just blessings on their birthdays or holidays…they are blessings the whole year through.