There is always more on my heart than words can say, but I find journaling my thoughts or prayers a great exercise & makes a record to view of memories & our history - I invite you to join me if you can relate to authentic life.

Friday, April 27, 2012

A Beautiful Graduate

Our daughter graduates from TC Beauty College this week! Allyson is ready to be done and move on to the next phase of education (maybe at Cornerstone!) and using her cosmetology training in a job. We are so excited with her! We are proud of her accomplishments because she is extremely creative and talented, and she aced her final exams. PLUS, her facial and scalp massages are amazing! But, that's only a small part of why we are so blessed to call her our daughter.

Ally has spent the last couple of years taking her education at a slower pace so that she could work at the same time, because she knew her family would need her help. She sacrificed getting her own car, her time and many of her own desires. We did not ask her to do this, and frankly, we never wanted to be in the position of a job loss and needing the kids to pitch in out of necessity (rather than just for the sake of learning responsibility). Since our desire (like all parents!) is to help our kids get a great start in life, it's been hard to see her educational and financial beginnings become such a struggle. It wasn't easy on her end either. She may have chosen this route, but it didn't mean it was simple to help carry the burdens.

Nevertheless, she stuck to her convictions.

When it was embarrassing to answer questions about being done with school, because she knew people may have opinions about the length of time it was taking, she chose to give her embarrassment to God.
When it was frustrating to miss school because our cars weren't working and there was no way to get there (especially because it wasn't just a couple of times), she dealt with it. (A little venting may occur, but then a submission to God's control :))
When we would gather the family to pray about certain bills, she was quick to offer anything she had to help.
When her Uncle died, she saved her money to give to his family. How she managed that on top of everything else on a part time job, I don't know, but she is dedicated, and God has blessed that. She also was so afraid her cousins would not have a Christmas, she asked that anything we may be able to do for each other, go to them, even though she had needs, too.
When she got discouraged and knew she wasn't doing her best, we would talk and pray and she would always determine that, no matter how frequent and frustrating life's disturbances were, she was going to do her responsibilities well.
When she thought it may be better to just quit school altogether and work because of our income situation, she chose to stick it out and trust God for our needs.

Being at TC during the time Joel died brought about some witnessing opportunities that may explain one reason God has allowed this slower process. She had some people coming to her and saying that they were watching her and that they were affected by how her family was handling all the events that had been going on. They asked her about her faith in God. What a privilege  it is to have her life story speak to someone else.

So, this is an exciting day, because Allyson has accomplished much more than a college certificate, and we are so proud of her!

Ally, these verses are for you:
3 John 1:4, I have not greater joy than to hear that my children walk in the truth.
    (Checking Out for the Last Time)

Jer. 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
We love you!                                (On the Way to New Beginnings)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Why do we write on facebook walls or go to grave sites to talk to our loved ones that are dead? We know they are unable to receive our words, but we still have this urge to try...

I remember my mom crying out to God after my brother Philip died, wishing she could talk to Phil again. Our family had just moved to Florida from Illinois 4 weeks previously, and Phil, who was 16, went spear fishing with our cousin Jimmy. He got sick very quickly after that, and went in to a coma. It was determined that bacteria from the pond got in his system and he died from encephalitis. My parents did not have a chance to really say good bye to him.

My mom told me that when she was crying out to God all the things she wished she could tell Phillip, she heard or sensed God say she could tell him herself.
She said that moment was unlike any she has ever had before or since, but she felt an unexplained opening to talk to Philip. So, she did. She told him she loved  him and told him how he had been a wonderful gift from God to her and my dad. I am awed that God loves his children so much, and cares so much for a mother's heart, that He would provide that moment for her.  It makes me think of Luke 7:13 where Jesus’ heart was filled with compassion for the widow who lost her son and He said, ‘Don’t weep!’.  He then raised that boy up. Such love that He has for those that grieve! (How he must have grieved for His own mother who had to watch Him suffer.)

God knows the loss we are experiencing and that we need the closure of connecting with that loved one again. Learning to live life differently due to a loss takes time and the way we cope with that can look different from person to person, but it’s normal to want to talk to your loved one and I think that is ok.

Maybe God even gives our loved ones a glimpse of the things we want to share J

Joel, remember how the changing of the seasons brings about new waves of grief? Well, we are having an early spring this year, and as wonderful as that is, it's bringing thoughts and feelings I don't want. I've never had a spring without you here, and now that is something to get used to. We have to have an open house this spring for Alan who will have to do without another uncle there. It just stinks, and every other time we would feel like that, you were here to grieve with us. I know you fought hard to stay with us and I am proud of your tenacity and strength of the past year, but I don't like that you had to leave us. God is continually drawing us closer to Him, though, and I hope you have the ability to know that everyone is coping in healthy ways and relying on God. I wish you were here to help with's hard to have basically lost him at the same time as you, and very hard to see mom have to care for his needs so much, without the benefit of his gratefulness, personality or friendship anymore. I do hope, though, that he is reunited with you boys soon, so he is not tormented by this dementia for long. I wish I knew exactly what heaven is like for you, Steve, Mark, Phil, Jonathon, Jeremiah, and Aunt Vicki, Uncle Art, Aunt Dorothy, Uncle Wally....are you guys having heavenly volleyball games? Football games? Rook tournaments? Is there a lot of joking and laughing like our earthly reunions? Does Mark have a baby in his arms at all times? Do you talk about your amazing kids to each other and how strong your wives are? What was it like to meet your second son? Do you share with Mark's mom all about our kids that she never had a chance to know? Remember talking about Isaac, Mark's and my nephew on his side? I know for a fact that you would want to be playing basketball with him, since you both love the game. I wonder if the coach in you would surface. :)   I wonder if he's showing you how to skate. Isn't he an amazing kids?! I know Heaven is much different than just an upgraded earth, but I hope all the incredible experience of it is shared with these loved ones. Even more than that, I cannot begin to imagine being in God's presence and the joy you all felt when rescued from your earthly bodies. You would probably say my imaginings are so amateur and, my questions limitless. Does God explain why all of you were taken so early in life or do you just immediately understand His plans? Or, do you even know yet?Have you met Job and Stephen? And, do you even know that they are the first 2 men of the Bible I want to meet and can you tell them for me that their stories have made a difference in my life? I wonder about a lot of things when it comes to saints and heaven, but I mostly just miss you all. Somehow, this new season is going to be about beautiful things and moving forward and hope.....I just wish it didn't have to feel so lonely, too. I wish you could hear me say 'I love you', but I know you know. Your Sister, Rachie-pooh  (I found out that this well used nickname was what you used in your phone contacts for me - I really should find George from the 2nd grade and thank him for my lifelong nickname :) )