Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The End of 2014

What is it about December 31 that seems to bring about a sense of reflection and nostalgia?  We spend it thinking back over the year-- the good and the bad, the memories, the joys and sorrows, the changes.  Bloggers post their most popular posts or do a recap on their year; companies start pulling out the end of year paperwork and getting it ready for the tax man. Retail stores gather the troops and start doing inventory--something I am very sad to miss this year.  (Call me crazy, but I love doing inventory. My last job, inventory didn't take long, but it was so much fun while it lasted.  Plus after I came up with this cool little spreadsheet, I felt all sophisticated about it too.  Please note, I am not the most up to date on technology and spreadsheets and other such things, so this was a big accomplishment for me.)  Anyway, back to December 31.  Then after all this has been done, people get together in the evening to party and toast the New Year in--some with good old sparkling grape juice in crystal goblets, others with much more potent drinks that then leave them incapacitated for a better part of the first day of the New Year.

Then the clock tick tocks it's way past midnight and magically it is January 1 of a brand-new year and there's a shift in the thinking.  Instead of pondering and remembering the past, there is a looking ahead to the future. (I was even listening on Sunday at church-- I at least remember the pondering point and there was a purpose point too and one other one which is eluding me at the moment!!)  But on January 1, people start listing their New Year's resolutions; they start thinking about their goals and ideals and dreams and what they want to accomplish in the New Year.  It feels like a clean slate, a new chance, a make over, if you will. It feels fresh and new and clean and you feel invigorated, energized and ready to make your mark on the world.  Am I making New Year's Resolutions this year?  I guess you will have to come back tomorrow to find out.  I am not promising to post tomorrow--I just might IF I make some New Year's Resolutions or decide to share some of my hopes and dreams and goals for 2015.

Now, what reflecting have I done as I think back over 2014?  In the interest of full disclosure, I can't say that I have done much.  Last night it kind of hit me that tomorrow, now today, was December 31 and the next day would be January 1 and I/we had no plans in place to celebrate.  I had my agenda in my head (yes, even on limited activity I have an agenda, a rather scheduled agenda if I may say so, that I might follow rather loosely as it can get interrupted) and I had no plans to do something special on New Year's day.  I have even been planning to do bookwork on New Year's Day, which now that I think about it, is sounding perfectly awful.  But back to reflecting.....

This year has probably been the hardest year of my life to date.  It started rather viciously with the birth and death of Nicole and in many ways that has defined my life, my year.  However, I think I can say that it has made me a better person.  I like to think it has made me more sympathetic to the fears and griefs of others. I'm certainly not perfect in this; I have an address of an Amish couple who lost their baby a year ago this month and I still have not written to them and honestly, I don't know if I will.  Going through grief does not give you the magical words so that you know what to say to the next person who is grieving.  I can wax "eloquent" at times, yes, but then feel like maybe what I had to say meant nothing to that person because we all grieve differently and different things mean different things to different people.  I know, that was profound wasn't it? But I like to think I have grown through this year, if in no other way than to give people the space they need to grieve as they need to grieve.  Everybody grieves in their own way and there is no right or wrong way-- of that I am convinced.  I suppose we could branch out into the realm of unhealthy, prolonged grieving, but that is a topic I don't want to touch, though I would imagine there are those out there who think I have landed in that category myself. I'm not going there!!!

This year has also had some positives in it.  D has a great job that he mostly likes.  I'm not sure today when it is 10 below zero and possibly windy and he's sitting up on his loader that he's real fond of it, but all in all I think he enjoys it and it has certainly been a blessing to us.  I have been blessed with a few different fun jobs: going to market, working at a bulk food store, doing some bookwork, doing some transcription work.  Those are paying jobs, but then the fun of sewing and scrapbooking and even cooking.  I'm not adding cleaning to the list of fun jobs, but it feels good to me when it is done.

And the most positive thing about this year is that it is December 31 and I am still pregnant.  I'm not going to go into this with much detail, because I just talked about it in my last post, but it is a blessing that I am trying to treasure.

What about you?  What have been your highs and your lows this year of 2014?  What are the best memories? What was your biggest accomplishment?  What big fears have you had to face and did you overcome them?  I would love to hear about them.

And maybe I will be back tomorrow with a few resolutions or goals for 2015.  No promises though.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

I Need to Read More and other Random Thoughts

Okay, I really don't want this blog to turn into a complete book review blog; however, I just applied with two more book review programs.  I don't think the one will accept me, but the other one might.  We will see. I suppose the only way to make this not become a book review blog is to post more often.  Ha Ha!!!  We'll see how that goes as well.

Christmas songs are something I've been thinking about more this year.  I'm very disappointed that I got to help sing so few Christmas songs this year. I think I sang all of one last Sunday in church.  I like Christmas songs. I have played a few on my keyboard.  What are your favorite? And have you really stopped to consider what they say?  My understanding is that some people people don't like Christmas songs because they seem so shallow, but really stop and listen to some of those lyrics.

Even Away in a Manger: "Be near me Lord Jesus. I ask Thee to stay close by me forever and love me I pray..."  Who of us doesn't need to pray that song on a daily basis?

I've already mentioned Star of the East.

"Joy to the World, the Lord is come, let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room." If the Lord hadn't come once, we couldn't be looking for the Second Coming, so there is great joy to remember.  And our hearts need to be prepared, cleaned out and made ready to receive Him as our personal Savior.

I'll stop there, but it has struck me that there really is meaning in Christmas songs. It also convicts me that I need to pay more attention to the songs I sing all year long.

You know the saying,  "My eyes are bigger than my stomach" generally said in reference to putting too much food on your plate at meal time.  In this case, I think it could refer to the recipe book I'm putting together.  I have taken my favorite food blogger and am going through her recipes and printing out everything that looks good or looks like something I would like to try.  I'm not even close to done and already my stack of pages is large and looming.  I've decided that doing this when I am unable to cook is a rather poor decision because EVERYTHING looks good and I am SURE I will make everything and be this wonderful cook and baker and we will have gourmet meals and eat hearty all summer long.  One can hope, right?  But, I have big plans for this cookbook, complete with cut and paste pictures on most recipes.  But it's a challenging job for a somewhat OCD person?  Do you categorize alphabetically each recipe or by kinds of recipes, or how?  And what if a recipe fits under two categories? Then where should I stick it?  My life is full of large problems, you see.

In exciting, thrilling news:  I HAVE MADE IT TO 30 WEEKS!!!  I HAVE MADE IT TO CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!! There's a part of me that is rebellious and now wants to get off my chair and get to work because really my baby has a really good chance of survival now, nothing seems to be happening as I sit in my chair, so why now?  Then D gently reminds me that we really don't want our baby hanging out in NICU for 8 weeks because her mother was stubborn and rebellious and disobedient.  So I sit in my chair and plan what all I'm going to do at 36 weeks.  I am trying to view every day that baby stays tucked inside as a blessing and one less day she would spend struggling for life.  I do hope that she won't decide to get too comfortable and hang out until 41 weeks.

Also, in the next six weeks, I am hoping to get a whole bunch of baby sewing done: blankets, burp cloths, and other fun stuff.  No, I'm not making much in the way of clothes, so everyone can relax.  I do think there are some darling little girl dresses that are cute and homemade, but that's not on the agenda at this point.

Okay, this has been really random and discombobulated.  I think I had better go before I come up with more randomness that makes completely no sense.

The Secret of Pembrooke Park

Product Details

By Julie Klassen

This book was given me by Bethany House for the purpose of reading and writing a review.  All opinions are my own.

It's time to get reading.  I currently have three more books that are waiting to be read and reviewed. One would think with all the down time I'm supposed to have, I would get lots of reading done, but I don't really read that much.  This week I have charted an hour in my schedule every day for reading. We will see how that goes.  Anyway, back to the review:

I first read Julie Klassen on another Bethany House Review book and I really liked her style of writing.  This book was not disappointing.  It had some twists and turns in it that I didn't see coming at all.  Maybe I wasn't observant enough, but I sure didn't catch on to some of the plot until it was laid out before me. That to me is a sign of a good book.  I like books where everything comes out okay in the end, but I don't like to have it figured out in the first chapter. This book certainly didn't do that.

I'm not going in to details of the story, just a very brief overview.  A family loses a lot of money through a bad investment deal and is forced to sell their house in London.  They are offered this Pembrooke Park from an unknown benefactor.  When they arrive to look at the house, the house has the appearance of having been vacated in the middle of activities.  Tea is dried in the tea cups; dust and cobwebs abound.  Also abounding are the rumors about a secret room and a treasure that is supposedly hidden in the house somewhere.  Of course, this creates the intrigue along with the cloaked figure seen at night roaming the house.  I'll stop there.  Too much more info and the story is ruined.

Julie did a good job of keeping her characters straight and portraying their personalities very effectively.  I will be keeping my eye open for more of her books.

In other very brief news: I have reached the 30 week mark and count each day from here on as a blessing.  I made it to Christmas, which has always been my goal.  Now, to 36 weeks and being able to get up off my chair and cook a meal and clean my house and maybe even go on a little walk.  The countdown is on!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Two years minus two days


Kept Forever in My Heart

There are two of these little figurines sitting on our dresser--two little reminders of our heart's greatest treasures.  It's almost two years since we said goodbye to our eldest child-- a child we never had the privilege of meeting, a child we barely got to know, a child we didn't even know how much we loved until he was gone.  I wanted a reminder of this baby, something I could look at and see regularly.  We chose this figurine.

Then, when we said goodbye to our second child, I wanted another figurine in honor of her, but wasn't sure if I wanted to go with the same style or not, but then my friend answered that question for me when she sent me an exact replica of the first Willow Tree and I knew it was right and it is.  Two little figurines sitting one either side of our unity candle on our dresser.  Fitting, I think.  Our two little babies are a part of our family-- they have driven us together.  In sickness and in health, in grief and in joy, our love has grown stronger.  We will always miss our little ones, but I can truly say that we have been made better, stronger, fuller, more sympathetic of those going through similar losses.

And yesterday, when dear little Mya came to our house, I was able to hold her in my arms and hug her and give her a little kiss and I didn't fall apart.  It felt right. It felt good. Yes, I thought about what it would be like to have had two little girls playing on the floor together and fighting or staring or whatever it is 7 month old little girls would do to each other, but I could rejoice in the gift of life. I could find joy in the big eyes that looked up at me and slowly blinked in her own little game. I'll have to be honest, that was a first for me, I think, to be able to enter into the life of another little girl and enjoy it without wanting to just walk away.

And as I look back two years, I miss our first born as well, but God is good and He is faithful and I have no choice but to trust Him.  Healing takes time; it doesn't all happen at once, nor do I think it happens in one continuous line.  It's more like a spiral--a little progress and then coming around the corner where you battle the same losses and the same tears and the same fears, but you get a little higher each time.  There will always be parts of my heart that will belong to my two little angels in heaven, but I think those parts of my heart are enabling the rest of my heart to love in a deeper, fuller and richer way those who are left below.

The thing that pulls the hardest is knowing how to answer the question: Do you have children?  Yes, we have children, but how do you explain that in a 30 second sound byte without the conversation getting awkward? If I say no, I feel terribly guilty for not acknowledging Nicole and if I say we had a stillborn, then I feel guilty for not acknowledging our firstborn, but how do you do all that?  And when, Lord willing, I hold me newborn baby in my arms, what will I tell people?  That she's our oldest?  But she's not.  It's so confusing!!!!!!!! And while for the sake of conversation and awkwardness I make a difference between miscarriage and stillborn, in my mind and in God's sight there is no difference.  They are both children, loved by God and, I like to think, playing at His feet.

So this Christmas season, in the midst of all the busyness, treasure the gift of Life that was made possible by Jesus coming to earth.  There will always be joy overshadowed by sorrow, life in the midst of death, but as the Christmas carol puts it: "Sorrow and grief are lulled by thy light; thou hope of each mortal in death's lonely night."

And someday, by the grace of God, our whole family will be together forever and the struggle to describe our family will be over. What a day that will be!!!!!!!

Monday, December 15, 2014

What would you do?

This post would be much better with pictures, but I didn't think of taking any.  Maybe I'll see what I can snag off the world wide web to better portray my story

A package comes in the mail or better interpreted an overgrown envelope:

2014 Prepaid Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes

At first it's exciting like you might be getting a small gift from someone:

Happy Face Clipart

But then you look closer and you see words that don't inspire a happy face at all.  Instead, they might inspire more of this:

grumpy girl clip art

Because you see words like this on the package:

Household Television Survey.

You debate throwing the envelope away without even opening it, but for some reason you open it.  Then you are going to trash it, but wait something catches your eye:

Nini d'Amour

You reach into the envelope and remove five brand-new crisp one dollar bills:
Nini d'AmourNini d'AmourNini d'Amour

Nini d'AmourNini d'Amour

You smile now:

Big smile pictures

But wait: the company is paying you in advance for doing their survey.  Now what?  A pause, a moment to think and then into the

... Trash Cans 23 Gal. Automatic Stainless Steel Touchless Trash Can® NX

goes the envelope and into the
Small Partner Desk
goes the cash and you wonder to yourself: Is that money really real?  You will find out you guess when you try to cash it in for some

girl drinking McCafe | McDonald’s McCafe White Chocolate Mocha ...

The question is begging to be asked.  How many of you have thrown out white boring survey envelopes in the last month without first opening and checking inside?  I would like to be able to get all those one dollar bills too.  I will look more closely from now on.

PS: There was a small amount of guilt experienced at not doing the survey, but beings we don't even have a TV, it would have been a very boring survey result anyway, so guilt was mostly assuaged.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

It's Beginning to Look Like Christmas

A huge shout out of thanks to Hannah for doing all the hard work.  If you need something fun to do, make those hanging cinnamon ornaments. Not the greatest pics but for better views come visit me.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Well, that was a long day wasn't it?

I don't think I really promised to absolutely every day post something I was thankful for, did I?  If I did, I'm truly sorry, but here in is the beauty.  It's my blog and I reserve the right to make any and all changes to the content that I wish and that includes how frequently I post.

It really is a little pathetic. I quit posting on the day we had a sermon on thankfulness.  How ironic, huh?  To add further to the irony is the fact that I was more than a little crabby and moody the rest of that day as well.  But it's been better since.  I'm starting to go a little stir-crazy and realizing that ten weeks is a really, really, REALLY, REALLY long time, but by God's grace I will make it for as long as I need to.

Am I bored yet?  Getting there, but I still have things I can do.  I have only half met my goal for today on my online transcription job, but truth-be-told, I was getting a little tired of transcribing a focus group for undergarments.  Now, I know my work is to be kept confidential and everything and really I have no intention of squealing about the hours of pointless work I did this afternoon, but really?  People have meetings to discuss undergarments?  I had no idea.  It's a whole other world out there that I know nothing about.

Black Friday?  Black Friday just ain't the same when done sitting in a chair.  I struggled to get enthused, but I do have a few parcels coming even if they are as boring as black ink cartridges. The exciting thing about the black ink cartridges?  I am hoping to put together two cookbooks from my two favorite food bloggers.  Thanks so much Jo for introducing me to both of them.  I'm also getting myself lots of work in the parcels that are coming.  If I can't go shopping for the munchkin, I will sew for the little tyke instead.  Poor D is quite concerned that our baby will be dressed in complete homemade clothes, but I have attempted to reassure him that I am only looking to make blankets, burp clothes, washcloths, changing pads, etc.  I'm not sure I even have it in me to attempt sleepers and onesies when you can buy onesies for a couple of buck on clearance or at a second-hand store. But, the purchasing ability is a little more limited when you can't actually go to said stores and buy the things you need, but I have solicited a little help in that department and of course, there's always the internet, if I can make enough money transcribing about undergarments to pay for it, I guess.  OH BOY!!!

It's actually kind of exciting to be getting excited about this baby.  It's been awhile in coming and I keep waffling between expecting a 9+ pound baby at my due date or expecting it any moment and then spending weeks in a NICU.  Either way, I am realizing that I should start making some provision for the child lest it be born without a mother who even thought to provide it the very basic essentials.  Speaking of essentials, what does one consider essential when raising a baby?  I would like some very honest input.  There are all kinds of ideas out there in cyberspace, but I would like to know what you, my friends and acquaintances think is needful.  Please respond.

Pray the Scriptures When Life Hurts

Product Details

By Kevin Johnson

This book was given me by Bethany House for the purpose of reading and writing a review about it.

I liked this book.  It's a very different style of writing, but I think it works.  Kevin has 10 chapters dealing with anything from loneliness to questions to peace to surrender and ending with hope.  He talks a little about his own journey and places a person can find themselves in, but mostly he takes a Scripture, divides it out into 4 or more sections and has you pray it.  He offers a verse and then gives some open-ended sentences to allow you to tell God what you are really feeling.

For example: II Corinthians 12:8- "Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away."  His open-ended sentences that follow are: "You've said no to....." and "When you say no to my pleading,I feel...."  This allows you to really analyze how you are feeling and talk to God about it.

And there were some positives too, like "I confidently expect..." after reading Psalm 27: 13, 14

Kevin also wrote a Pray the Scriptures Bible.  I would like to take a look at that sometime and see how he put all that together.  Obviously, he didn't write the Bible portion, but he talks about the prayers he wrote for it and the healing it brought him on his own journey out of depression.

Big Trucks Getting the Job Done Together, Illustrated by Sergio De Giorgi

A dozer, a digger, a crane and a dump truck work together to get the job done. Written in rhyme, it reminds me a bit of the book "L...