Sunday, May 31, 2009

Memorial Day Prayer Request Update

Just a few days ago I asked you to pray for Joe Gray. He is a member of the armed services who was critically injured in an explosion while working on a tank here in the states. He spent 18 months in the middle east and was finally home with his family and then this horrific accident happened. You might remember that his wife Christina used to work with my mom (my mom is going to be her substitute for the rest of the school year) and she is two months pregnant and has a little boy Christian's age. Please continue to pray for Joe. His situation is very grave. Christina has set up a Caringbridge site to keep family and friends updated on Joe's condition! You can click HERE to get there! If you have a second please just visit the site. I know it would be encouraging to the family to see lots of hits on Joe's caringbridge site and if you already have a Caringbridge account set up then leave them a comment (it only takes a minute to set up an account)! I think it would be so encouraging to see comments from all over the country from people who are praying for Joe! Joe has serviced our country with honor, now it's our turn to uphold him in prayer!

Home Sweet Home

Gracious me, where do I even begin! We're home. We got home late last night and I've spent the day grocery shopping, doing laundry, unpacking and I got a little bit of mowing done and I still have hours to go before I sleep :)

I guess I should start with all the stories from our trip out to Illinois. I guess if I have a story that means it didn't go so smoothly. Ha! That's an understatement. We were supposed to leave to go to my parents house on Tuesday evening around 6pm. Ryan ended up working late and we finally pulled out of the driveway at 9:00pm. No problem, the kids will sleep - right? WRONG! Everyone was wide awake when we pulled in the driveway at 11pm. So Ryan started to unload the car and we quickly realized that a suitcase was missing. And it was the suitcase with Ryan's suit in it - pretty important, not something you can just go buy at Walmart. So after some discussing Ryan got back in the car and drove home. My mom took McKenna and I to the airport in the morning and Ryan met us there after only getting about 4 hours of sleep. So we checked in and almost had to leave McKenna behind. I'm not kidding. I completely forgot that you have to present proof of age if the child is under two and you're not buying a seat. I didn't have her shot records or birth certificate with me. Slight panic set in and I thought I was going to have to call my mom to come back and get her and I would have been a mess, but then I miraculously produced a receipt from the pediatricians office that included McKenna's D.O.B on it. Whew...that was a close one. And here's McKenna hanging out in the airport with Daddy, clearly looking like a one year old and not a two year old, but try telling that to a ticket agent. From that point on it was smooth sailing all the way to St. Louis. McKenna even got her own seat because the plane wasn't full. She didn't sleep a wink, but she was a good girl.

McKenna ate a lot of snacks and played a lot of patty cake...
And she played with absolutely everything in my purse and in the seat pocket in front of us. Of course she was not really interested in any of the toys I brought for her.
Once we got to St. Louis we still had a two hour drive and were quite dismayed when we realized that we forgot (ahem...I know, I know...we just didn't have our act together on this trip) the DVD player for the car. So it made the trip into Illinois a little more unpleasant, but we finally made it.
McKenna was thrilled to see her cousin Gracey and it was so sweet that there was no warm-up time with Gracey. She knew exactly who we were and jumped right into my arms for a big hug when I saw her. We went out to dinner after the visitation and she wanted to ride in our car! She is such a cutie and so full of life!
I debated big time about whether or not to take this picture or really any pictures at all. You know me, I usually take a picture of even the most mundane things, but this trip was different. I even considered not bringing my camera at all, but now I'm glad I did. There are definitely some things that I want to remember and this picture represents one of them. The visitation on Wednesday evening was by far the hardest part of all of this for me. But is was also incredible. There was a line stretching outside the building and wrapping down around the sidewalk for over two hours. Hundreds of people came. That definitely says something about the life Olivia lived, but it also speaks volumes about her mom and dad. They are both so greatly loved and respected by so many people. Zac is the principal of the local high school and I couldn't help but cry when I saw so many high school students waiting in line to pay their respects. The funeral home was absolutely packed full of people who loved this little girl and her family. My dear little McKenna was with us and she was not in a cooperative mood. She wasn't screaming but she was definitely fussing which was very frustrating for me. The funeral home attendant very graciously pointed me down the hall and into a room with a few toys for McKenna to play with and so that's where I sat for quite a while just praying and asking the Lord to please be merciful and pour out his peace and grace on all those present. I probably would have kept myself together a lot more if I had been out in line with everyone else, but I sat in the quiet of that room and did what I had been doing for months and prayed.
And I just have to show you this...My sister-in-law, Lindsey was going to take care of the flower arrangement for our family. I mentioned that Olivia loved Barney and that maybe we should do purple flowers or maybe the florist could put a stuffed Barney in the arrangement. Well, Lindsey pulled out all the stops and she cut out a Barney out of foam. She took it to a florist in Canton, who took it to a florist in Macomb and ta daaaa....look how cute it is. So fun, so fitting. Just perfect for our sweet Olivia!

We got to spend some time at Zac and Julie's house on Thursday evening. They must have been exhausted, but we loved having that time with them and the rest of their family. Jack (he's finishing up first grade) was adorable with McKenna. It was getting late and he was sitting on the couch playing his DS and he said "McKenna do you want to come watch me play this game?" I figured she would probably try to push the buttons and mess up his game, but I sat her up on the couch anyway.
She sat there and looked at him and watched him play his game for the longest time. It was so sweet. And then I got to watch Jack play his game and he told me all kinds of pointers that I should pass onto Emma. I don't even think he knows who Emma is, but as soon as I mentioned that she has a DS he started telling me all kinds of things to tell her. Brooklyn was also so sweet with McKenna. She followed her around and pulled her in the wagon and got out toys for her. It made my heart hurt because both Jack and Brooklyn were incredibly sweet and kind to McKenna and I'm sure that's just how they were with Olivia. Zac and Julie are raising some amazing kids!!

The burial was on Friday and it was a gorgeous day. Just perfect. The cemetery was sunny and quiet. It's a beautiful place, surrounded by corn fields with nothing but chirping birds to keep you company. It was beautiful!
Then it was time for us to head back to St. Louis to catch our flights. Ryan was going to fly to Connecticut for work and McKenna and I were going to fly back to Baltimore to stay with my parents until Ryan came home. Ryan's flight was on time and my flight was a different story.

I ended up chasing after this girl for over three hours in a very crowded airport with lots of frustrated people. Bad weather in Baltimore delayed our flight for quite a while, but McKenna's shoes kept everyone entertained. Aunt Lindsey bought McKenna a pair of weesqueaks. The soles are soft and have a squeaker in the heel and everytime you step it makes a squeak. McKenna thought they were hysterical and she stomped and ran all over the place. She kept everyone entertained and I must have gotten over 30 comments about how cute they were. I actually had to take them of her to look inside to get the name for one woman who just had to have them for her granddaughter. We finally made it onto the plane and I was able to get McKenna her own seat again. Unfortunately, I picked the wrong seat mate for us. Our friend, we'll just call her "Miss. I Have Distain for Children" was already seated when I asked her if the other two seats next to her were taken. I could immediately tell by the look on her face that I had just asked the wrong person, but I was holding up the line of everyone else waiting to get on the plane, so I just went for it. "Miss. I Have Distain for Children" was amazing. She actually held her ear that was closest to me for almost the entire flight (which was over two hours). I'll admit, "this little piggy" and "patty cake" are not my favorites either, but it was a lot better than having McKenna scream and I was NOT singing them loudly. I was singing them in my best whisper voice. And "Miss. I Have Distain for Children" has some fabulous ignorning techniques. She was not the least bit interested in helping me juggle the snacks and drinks the flight attended passed to me when my tray table wasn't down yet. I know she was worried that I was going to dump a drink on her but she didn't even look up or make any move to help the situation. So in the end we parted ways without her ever uttering a word. I thanked her for sitting with us and for putting up with all the playing I was doing, but she never acknowledged my presence. And I know I shouldn't let stuff like that bother me, but it made me feel sad. Not for me, for her. We finally made it home to my parent's house around 11:30pm. Thankfully McKenna was sound asleep and I crashed shortly after that!

Ryan's flight into Hartford, Connecticut was not without a little drama. Ryan flies a lot and has NEVER had this happen before. They were cleared for a landing and the wheels of the plane actually touched down on the ground and the pilot immediately began to accelerate and then he took off again. They spent the next 30 minutes in the air with a very jittery cabin full of people and the captain was not giving anyone any information. When they landed for the second time the pilot told everyone that a utility vehicle was crossing the runway at the exact moment they were landing. If he had not taken off again they would have most definitely crashed into the vehicle. It was a foggy night and the vehicle must have gotten onto the wrong runway. Ryan's not sure if he believes that story or not. It's also highly likely that the pilot could have over shot the runway and realized that he didn't have enough room to stop so he took off again. Either way, I give God all the praise for keeping Ryan safe and for giving him peace about the whole situation.

And that's it! Gracious that was long! Is anyone still here?

Oh wait, I'm not done yet!

Thank you Devon for mowing our grass. And thanks to Lisa for getting our mail. And thanks to Amy for spiffing our house up when we found out there was going to be a showing. Thanks Grandmom and PopPop for giving Christian so many wonderful memories at your house. Thanks Lindsey for taking care of the flower and babysitting arrangements. And a very special thanks to Heidi and Mandy for helping me make Olivia's ribbons.

And for those of you who have asked, Julie is planning on keeping up their blog, so stop worrying :) They have some great things happening in their lives that are definitely blog worthy. I can't wait to read all about their move to their new house, their trip to Disney and Brooklyn's upcoming birthday, etc! So keep checking in with them and keep praying for them. I know they feel blessed by all of you dear friends out there in cyberspace praying for them and encouraging them!

Now I'm done! Well, not really. I have a few more things I want to post, but I'll wrap this entry up!

Friday, May 29, 2009

A quick post...

Well, since Zac and Julie's blog had over 1000 hits on it yesterday and mine had over 100 (that's a lot for me and my little blog) I figured that means you all are looking for a little update. Thank you so much for covering everyone in prayer yesterday. It was a good day, well as good as a funeral day can go. Hard and very long for Olivia's family. But I think they were very blessed by the huge turn out at the funeral and the visitation the night before was incredible. This family is so loved. It is seriously amazing. I don't know exactly who was taking care of all the kids in the PICU yesterday because a whole row in the church was filled up by Olivia's nurses. So sweet.

I keep thinking about how hard these days are for Olivia's family, but truly the difficult days are the ones that are ahead. When all the visitors have gone home and the meals stop coming and real life has to start again. We need to pray that God's grace will cover them as they find their "new normal." I don't know how I could do it and I'm sure you're thinking the same thing.

I will be back on Eastern Standard Time by bedtime tonight. I miss my boy, but he's been great. I'm flying home by myself with McKenna so I'm a little nervous about that. Ryan has to fly to Connecticut for work, so we're parting ways at the airport. I'll update again when I'm actually home, which won't be until Sunday!

Until then, I'll leave you with this verse that was read at the funeral yesterday! Thank you Jesus for the HOPE we have in you!!!

Job 19:25
I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

We made it!

This blog post comes to you from middle-of- no-where Illinois :) Okay, so we're not really in the middle of nowhere it just feels like that after driving here from St. Louis. It took us about two hours, maybe a little more and that's because we were on a two lane road, with a 45mph speed limit (and these people obey speed limits around here even if it is flat and there are no other cars in sight...I guess I could learn a few things), in the middle of a bunch of farms. It's was a beautiful drive, Ryan let me drive over the Mississippi (okay so actually he was on his blackberry the whole time so I had to drive). The flight was umm...okay. I didn't panic or anything. McKenna was a great distraction and got her own seat even though we didn't pay for it! Thank you Jesus for that one! And thanks for praying me through my silly fear.

McKenna's napping right now and is sounding all congested for the first time in two months. I didn't bring the nebulizer or humidifier or any of that stuff with me, so we just need to pray that her stuffy little head gets better quick!!

And now to the real reason for this post. The hard part is ahead of us. Tonight is the visitation for Olivia. Please pray that God will send his ministering angels to heal and comfort the broken hearted tonight. Let's bring these names before our heavenly father tonight; Zac, Julie, Jack, Brooklyn, Rod, Sue, Tom and Connie.

You guys are the best!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Memorial Day Prayer Request

Hey Guys....It's prayer request time again. I thought this one was especially appropriate considering yesterday was Memorial Day. Many of you know that my mom used to be a teacher and when I was in college I would subsitute at her school. That's when I met one of my mom's dear co-workers named Christina. Christina is my age and has a little boy Christian's age and right now she is expecting their second child. Late last week Christina's husband was injured in an explosion while working on a tank on an army base in Maryland. One person was killed in the explosion and her husband was seriously injured. The news today is not good. There is bleeding in his lungs from the blast and the situation is very dire. Please pray for Christina and her husband Joe. Pray for healing for Joe. For the safety of their unborn child. And pray for their little boy, Austin.

You know what I've been thinking and praying a lot lately...."Lord come quickly." All this grief and the heartache of this world make me long for Heaven. I wish I could just pack up my family and everyone that I love and hop on a train to Heaven. I long to be with Jesus where there is no more pain or suffering! Being homesick for Heaven is a good thing!

Lord Come Quickly!

Ahh - Yes! Another attempt at a photo shoot!

One day last week we were heading to the park so I dressed all the little kids in orange as a way to keep track of them. They looked so cute, so I decided to try and take a group picture.
You know how that usually turns out!
This is the best one of the bunch. Maybe I could just crop Christian out of it :)
Our biggest problem was McKenna's new found mobility. That girl would not sit down! They all look thrilled don't they!
And then there was the fact that Nathan was absolutely filthy (look at his face) from the mulch at the park.
And McKenna did NOT want to be held. Christian's not pictured because he was too busy playing with his caterpillar that he found.

Then there were the fake smiles...
And the fact that everyone was way more interested in the caterpillars than in a picture...

So here's Christian with his bucket of caterpillars. And that wraps up this attempt at a photo shoot!

Happy Birthday Grandmom!

Grandmom came to visit last week. She is always greeted by the entire gang at her car. She never makes it undetected to the front door. The kids are always sitting by the window waiting for her to arrive (what you can't see in this picture is McKenna making her way across the yard to see Grandmom too).
Everyone was soooo excited that it was going to be Grandmom's birthday while she was visiting! You can see what a to-do we make out of birthdays. Grandmom even got an Elmo table cloth! I know she was impressed!

Emma and Abby picked out "fancy" clothes to wear to Grandmom's party! It was a surprise (sort-of) party!

McKenna loved helping Grandmom with her presents.

PopPop gave Grandmom a digital camera. No more rolls of film for her! Grandmom stayed for three days and got lots of use out of her new camera taking pictures of some of her favorite little people!

Happy Birthday Grandmom, although this is a little belated! We loved having you visit!

The Screen Slayer

Remember when the boys got these cute sets of armor for Christmas?

I'll admit, I was a little worried about having two three year olds in my house with swords. But it's really been fine.

For almost six months there have been no incidents. No injuries and no rules have been created to tame the swords. We've just had two knights busy saving Princess Abby or Princess McKenna and it's been great.

Until now! Can you tell what this is a picture of? It's a huge hole in the screen in Christian's window. Apparently he decided to slay the screen. And of course this screen has very strange measurements so you can't just go to Lowe's and buy another one. You can order one for an outrageous amount of money or you can fix it yourself. I have no idea how to "re-screen" a screen, but I now am the proud owner of a roll of screen, some fancy little tool you use to push the screen down in the crack around the edge and some black "piping" stuff (that's not really what it's called) that will hold the screen in place. That man at Lowes made it look so easy, but now I'm having doubts, so I'm going to procrastinate and put that project off until next week. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Continuing Blog Issues

I'm so glad that some of you can read my blog using Internet Explorer, but I still can't read it using that browser. Is anyone out there still having a problem? I still have a few blogs that I can't read because I get an "abort" message. I also felt like it was taking a long time for my blog to load, so I just deleted a bunch of stuff off the side bars in the hopes of speeding things up. I hope it helps!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Thank You

You guys are amazing! Thank you so much for all your emails, texts, calls and especially for all the sweet comments you've been leaving on Zac and Julie's blog. Thanks for worrying about all of us. We are so sad and 'yes' I did end up with a migraine yesterday because I cried so much. And I did go to the drug store just to buy nose spray because my nose was so stopped up, but we felt much better after Ryan got a chance to talk to Zac last night. They are doing well, all things considered. They are amazing and so strong. I know God's grace is covering them. My specific prayer for them right now is that they will finish the race with perseverance. They have a lot of living yet to do and they have two other children who need them more than ever right now. So I have two verses that I'm praying for Zac and Julie:

2 Corinthians 4:18 "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. "

Hebrews12:1-3 "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

Lord Jesus,
I bring Zac and Julie before you and ask you to help them to fix their eyes on what is unseen. Comfort their hearts by reminding them that this pain and grief is temporary and that you have an amazing eternity planned for them and all of their children. Help them to run this race, called life, with perseverance. Help them to fix their eyes on you so that they will not grow weary and lose heart. I know they're weary and tired. Strengthen them by the power of your Holy Spirit. Give them a peace that passes all understanding. May they tangibly know that you are with them and that you will never leave them or forsake them in the days, weeks and months ahead. And thank you for Olivia and the amazing life she lived. Thank you for taking care of her until she's with her mommy and daddy again.
In Jesus name, Amen.

Ryan and I and McKenna will be heading out to Illinois on Wednesday morning. Christian is going to stay with my parents while we're gone (it's cheaper that way and he'll have a blast and probably won't miss us at all). I'm a very nervous flyer and hate the thought of three and not four of us getting on a plane, but this is a great exercise in FAITH for me. Just in case you didn't catch that I'll mention again that I HATE FLYING! ((deep breath)) It'll be fine!! Ha! Yes, It'll be fine.

This blog world is amazing. I know that so many of you are grieving with us. I know that Olivia was dear to so many of you and I know that many of you prayed for her for months. I know you felt close to her even though you hadn't met her. That's the beauty of blogging. It's united so much prayer and support for Olivia. I know you loved her too! And all I can say is thankyou. The Bible says that we are to bear one another's burdens and you guys are definitely doing that. I am humbled!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Olivia is with Jesus

Please pray!

Sweet Olivia

Dear Olivia,
I wish I could sit with you right now and hold your hand and tell you how greatly loved you are here on this earth. I wish there was some way I could even put into words how you've changed me. You've made me a better mommy. You've strengthened my faith and I have a much closer relationship with Jesus because of you. I wish I could whisper to you about your heavenly father. He loves you so much and he wants you to be able to run and jump and sing. He's been preparing a special place for you and I know with all my heart that He is going to take good care of you! His promises NEVER FAIL!
Love you always,