Thursday, December 30, 2010

Hallelujah Moment

i am tired,
but before i sleep i want to share....
the details of the day my granny went to heaven.

but let me start first a few hours before today,
yesterday afternoon....

granny had only had the strength to ask for water about 3 times throughout the day...
and by the time 5 o'clock came, she was in a deep sleep,
not opening her eyes, not talking,
just breathing.

at 5PM, unexpectedly, everyone left the hospital,
but God ordained for me a time with her,
just me and my granny.

alone with her, i thought, what do i do?
sing. so sing i did, voice and all.
i prayed she would hear the voice of an angel
and it would have had to be a supernatural intervention,
because i ain't no angel-voiced lady.

i sang
"It is Well"
"I'll Fly Away"
"How Great Thou Art"
"Great is Thy Faithfulness"
"There's a Sweet, Sweet Spirit in this Place"
"Jesus, I Adore You"
and then i sang them again.

sometimes i couldn't remember the words,
so i looked them up on my iphone.
sometimes i could barely make it through the song,
but i kept singing in a broken voice.

did she hear me?
i don't know but when i sang"It is Well" one time,
I could see her lips moving in such a way that I think she was singing along with me.
i am almost sure of it.

i read scriptures to her...
i knew that Psalms 91 and Psalms 23 were two of her favorites,
so I read her those,
along with a few others sprinkled in.

i laid my face next to hers,
i got close to her and hugged her,
my tears fell upon her cheeks.

she didn't arise
or open her eyes
or talk to me,
but when i left i felt that i had just experienced
3 of the most precious hours on earth that i have ever had.

so this morning,
i thought, goodness,
do i go right back up to the hospital?
after all, we had been told that 4-7 days was a realistic time frame for granny,
but something drew me there,
and by 8:30am, i sat there with mom.

granny's breathing was shallow and she looked pretty awful,
but these were expected changes.
around 10:30, mom said we should start thinking about granny's funeral.
so i got out my laptop and started typing some ideas for the service.

Mom said, "let's put a title on it called 'It's a Hallelujah Moment.'"
It was an idea given to her by a friend who had lost her son years before.

I typed that phrase at the top of my page and
something changed in the air.

mom and I both looked up at granny
and realized that her breathing had stopped.

i went over to her and touched her chest.
i felt her neck for a heartbeat.
she was warm.
but her heart beat no longer on this earth.

i didn't plan it friends,
but out of me sprang
a song,
one i hadn't thought of the night before...

"Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye Heavenly Host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

i looked up; i thought she might be looking at me from there,
i smiled through the tears at Granny and her Hallelujah Moment.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


During these days, God hasn't left me without a touch of humor and thankfulness.

In the craziness of the week, it occurred to me that on December 27th, we had the annual family get together with my dad's family.

And then I realized it was at my house.

So I scurried around like a rat on crack trying to make all the preparations for what turned out to be a 40 person 4 hour holiday party at my house!

The day after Christmas, Tom and I cleaned like Merry Maids, out with the old, in with the new, literally trying to make room for everyone.

The next night, I made the big shopping trip for the event, a mini-marathon. I ran to and fro all over that Super-Duper WalMart and home and back to SDWM when I realized I had left a sack of dairy products there. That took an extra hour.

When I finally got back, I made the brilliant decision to store several things in our oven, because I wanted the counters to be clean and frankly, the pantry was busting at the seams. I stacked up the Fritos and Chex Mix and Water Crackers and can of icing and red styrofoam plates, count em, 60 of em! Oh yes, and a bag of M and Ms.

On about my business I went and later that evening I walked in to find Kami making cupcakes, except they didn't smell like cupcakes at all, just some toxic, liquid styrofoam billowing from my oven. For the record, she did mention to me that she would be making cupcakes. It just didn't register.

I opened the oven like SuperWoman and began knocking things out of the oven as quickly as Superwomanly possible. I quite thought something may be alight; maybe I reasoned I would put the fire out that way?

There was no fire, just smoke, thick polymeric smoke (not sure what that means, but it sounds like what I smelled), melted M and M's, roasted frito and charred icing.....and I didn't even cry.

I just laughed and thank God that I caught the mishap before it became a true disaster.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

Well, honestly, it's hard to think about my favorite things right now, when I have a hole in my heart the size of a pot of Granny's brown beans.

But as I watched granny lie there in her hospital bed today, with one foot on earth and one in heaven, I realized that she still has some favorite things. She is in a dream-like state, talking in words and phrases that obviously represent some things dear to her heart.

Here are a few of Granny's favorite things:

*Her dear dog Fred - at one point, we got to laughing that he must be more important to her than anyone, because she kept telling us to "let him in" or "let him out!"

*Cooking - she constantly talked about what she should get us or cook for us - "If you'll stay awhile, I'll put something on the stove for you" or "let's go cook something up!"

*Her family - almost everytime she opened her mouth, the name of one of her loved ones would pop out, like a Valentine. "Rex" "Judy" "Fred" One special moment was when she talked about my cousin's son Kyler... she went on for awhile about what a special little boy he is. If you could just have heard her say his name "Ky-ler" then you would know how she feels about him.

*Opening up her house for company - She always wanted to know who was coming through her door, whether a real or dreamed up person, she wanted to welcome them, whomever it was.

*God - As I prayed for her aloud she murmured lovingly "God" and "It is well."

Surprisingly, I didn't hear her say anything about sewing, but I still think she'll be sewing us quilts up in heaven. Maybe, though, God will have her in his kitchen. Probably so.

So in honor of Granny, here are a few of my favorite things about this Christmas:
Drinking hot chocolate and singing Christmas carols around a fire at Big Cedar Lodge.

The elf tuck in at Big Cedar Lodge. "Candy" the elf came for a bedtime story and gave out a stocking to each kiddo.
We had a Christamas tree in our cabin at Big Cedar. I love Christmas trees. And the smell of the pine that has been fresh and fragrant in our house this December.

The last moments we were able to spend with Granny over Christmas were priceless.
Ahhh, making Gingerbread houses is always such a treat.
We play Dirty Santa each Christmas Eve. The adults play a round and so do the kids. Here are the kids acting all nicey nice after they have stolen each others gifts several times.
Christmas morning excitment is still electric. Here is Luke with his Skateboarding Nutcracker that was sitting on top of his brand new skateboard.
Ellie got at least one thing off her list: a bow and arrow. She was thrilled.

Tom is gone for a lot of special occassions, but he is ALWAYS home on Christmas morning. That is one of my favorite things.

Getting together with family I only see once a year. This year's gathering was at our house!

Here are the "hat girls" Ellie and Aunt Billy

Cousins hanging out in the cul-de-sac!
When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I'm feeling bad,
I simply remember my favorite things
and then I don't feel so bad....

Thursday, December 23, 2010

What a Difference a Day Makes

We never really can lose hope, can we?

Granny was born in Hope, Idaho by a lake called Ponderay. Ida Pondarae probably seemed like a perfect fit to granny's parents, but we always joke that her parents should have used the town as their namesake instead of the lake and the state. Hope just fits her, and has all her life.

Today is no different. Granny inspired hope in us yesterday as we all converged in her tiny hospital room. The news went out that Granny wanted to sing and within a few minutes there gathered no less than 20 family members. We stood around her bed and sang every Christmas Carol we could think of. She sang with us as well she could and in moments of joy, she raised her unbroken right arm to the sky. And then everyone grew silent as granny herself weakly, yet unabashedly, sang "How Great Thou Art."

As usual, Granny gave to each one of in that room yesterday. She just can't stop giving.

She even gave to her doctor, who said she was amazed by Granny's strength.
What is to come? We really don't know, but we all have great hope and faith in God's perfect timing in her life.

Singing with Granny, making Gingerbread houses with family and a win by the Golden Eagles just really kind of made everything better yesterday.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Rundown

12:01 AM ~ Cleaning up vomit is never a great way to start the day. ohhh nooo. especially when you are supposed to be "getting away" at Big Cedar Lodge. (Kim and I decided to take a little three day trip to break up the time with our husbands out of town til Christmas Eve.) The fun continued until 3AM as Luke coughed, sneezed, had a nightmare I was unable to wake him up from, ran a fever, threw up more, and yodeled. Yes, he yodeled in his sleep. That did give me a little smile. At 3AM, he calmed down enough to allow us to sleep, if fitfully. I started the day exhausted already.
7:45 AM ~ Waking up to the reality of the day was tough for me. I felt like I had a Lifetime movie playing in my head as I watched scenes of my Granny through all stages of my life. I saw Granny reach for the Hostess cupcakes on top of her refrigerator to give me as a five year old having a slumber party at her house. I saw her pulling potatoes and carrots from her garden she and my grandpa planted on our farm. I listened to her teaching me to quilt. I saw her smile a thousand times. All these are memories to treasure, but today they just hurt.
8:00 AM ~ Messages start coming in. Texts, phone calls (one from Louisiana!), Facebook
messages, emails, blog comments. I thanked God for digital communication today. All communication treasured, all helping me move forward. ThAnK yOu!!!
9:30 AM ~ Packed the car alone. Felt lonely for Tom and my mom and sister as I got everything together on a blustery morning in Missouri. I try not to complain how much I miss my husband, because you just kind of have to steel yourself to that, but there is a hole in my heart that can't be patched until he comes back to us.

10AM ~ I had nothing but time as I drove back home from Big Cedar, listening to Luke cough like a crazy man and think about my granny. Headache. At least there was no vomit. Just a whole lot of phlegm and snot and coughing. Did I mention the coughing? And Did I mention how good my kids were in the car? I think the personal 10 inch TV's had something to do with that, but still.

3PM ~ Finally, after what seemed an eternity of driving, I saw my granny at the hospital. I thought she would be unresponsive, but I found that she was no less amazing than any other time I've been around her lately. Though she obviously is growing painfully weaker with each moment, she greeted each grandchild with pure delight from her bed. Her left arm is broken, but with her right she reached up to touch each one's face, ending the conversation with a slurred "I looooovvvvveee youuuuuuuu." Her resolve to show love is stunning.

4:30PM ~ Picked up Wilson from the vet. Who doesn't feel a little better at the sight of a dog who thinks you are the best person ever.
5:30 PM ~ Brought my cousin's kids to the house so she could spend more time at the hospital with granny. She lives out of town and I know that it's been hard on her to be far away during this time. Yes, I wanted to be there tonight with everyone, but I'm really glad that Heather got a few more precious moments with our inspiration.

6:00 PM ~ Picked up burgers for all 5 kids. Luke hasn't eaten much today, but requested coleslaw. Just the smell of it makes me sick, but for Lukey I guess it's a healing food. Cause he ate all of it. And weirdly, he's better now.7:30 PM ~ Opened a slew a Christmas cards, just love em, each and everyone. Mine are being mailed tomorrow, really they are coming to a mailbox near you.

7:45 PM ~ Gasped when I saw a preview for this show on Nick Teen. Really? I. had. no. idea. TV off. Out comes the board games.
8:40 PM ~ Listened to my beloved Golden Eagles lose their game by a couple points. Ugh. Never a good way to end the day. Ever. I feel for my hubby, my bro-in-law, and the players. And the coaches wives. Ouch.
9:30 PM ~ Made a new ending to the day by reading Christmas books with the kids. They each picked out one. Though I could barely keep my eyes focused on the words, the kids settled into it and we even sang through "The Little Drummer Boy" together. I like this ending better.
11:42 PM ~ Not sure where that 2 hours and 12 minutes went, but that is the rundown. I am feeling run down but lifted up. I am reminded of Max Lucado's book Everyday Deserves a Chance. He points out the verse "This is the day that the Lord has made" refers to all days, not just the ones we liked. Sick days, sad days, losing days, and dying days. They are all still days that He has made, and I worship Him for it.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

She Will Rise....

For the last couple of weeks, Granny has been holding onto this world by a few stray threads, and soon the magnificent beauty of the quilt of heaven will be upon her.

Though it cuts our hearts to shreds thinking of not having our inspiration here with us on earth anymore,we know the truth, that she has had her eyes set upon the kingdom of God for days, months and years. She has anticipated living in His presence more than anyone I know.

Ellie couldn't understand how we can go on without Granny, and I tried to communicate what I know as sure as I know that Granny's eyes are blue like mine. I explained that we go on WITH her. The Bible assures us that the faith of a believer is poured out into future generations, so that faith is surely surging into Ellie's little life as I type. And Kami and Luke and Hallie and Lauren and Maggie and dozens of others. Granny is very much with us yet will be preparing many, many heavenly quilts for us in heaven.

As tears pour from my eyes, I ask you to please pray for Granny's last days. Hospice care is necessary now, as we have been told 3-5 days is the timeline. Granny is certainly one to defy expectations, but in my mind she is thinking this: "Only 3-5 days til I get to see Jesus!"

I have been listening to a big dose of Chris Tomlin lately. The kids and I sing our lungs out to "I Will Follow," but the song that has moved me, particularly the last couple of weeks is "I Will Rise." It isn't a song Granny knows, but the lyrics fit her so well. I am sharing them below as well as a link to the song in case you've never heard it.

There's a peace I've come to know
Though my heart and flesh may fail
There's an anchor for my soul
I can say "It is well"

Jesus has overcome
And the grave is overwhelmed
The victory is won
He is risen from the dead

[Chorus:] And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles' wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise I will rise

There's a day that's drawing near
When this darkness breaks to light
And the shadows disappear
And my faith shall be my eyes

Jesus has overcome
And the grave is overwhelmed
The victory is won
He is risen from the dead

[Chorus:] And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles' wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise I will rise

And I hear the voice of many angels sing, "
Worthy is the Lamb"
And I hear the cry of every longing heart,
"Worthy is the Lamb" [x2]

[Chorus:] And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles' wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise I will rise

She Will Rise.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

You GOTTA go

I have heard about the Christmas Train at Dry Gulch, USA for years. Why in the world have I never been?

Because my husband is a basketball coach and is primarily unavailable this time of year.

Oh yeah, that's right.

This year, however, I didn't let that minor detail stop me. I found a day and time that looked good enough and let T know that we are going to the Christmas Train this year. Come rain or shine, pain or line, we were GOING. And go we did last night. Check HERE for details. It was SUPER. Honestly, words can't describe it... we loved every minute of it, and of course, our favorite part was the train and the poweful telling of the story of Jesus from birth to resurrection. Also loved the carousel rides, the wagon ride with the retelling of "Twas the Night Before Christmas." Take my word for it. You gotta go.

You won't be disappointed.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Awww.... poor girl....

not fun to be sick this time of year.
104.8 fever, ick!
What a sicko!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Our Babe in Toyland

Ellie's 5th performance at the Spotlight is the musical Babes in Toyland, directed by Bruce Webb. Although it has nearly killed us (the rehearsals were absolutely time-sucking little monsters at a time of the year when time is sooo important), the play has turned out to be adorable (I say through clenched teeth). I did finally get to see the whole show and here are some favorite scenes.... (I really did enjoy the performance, it almost made it all worth it!!) Ellie pre-show in her Jill costume (as in Jack and Jill)

Ellie as a townsperson in the opening scene...
Introduction of Fairy Tale characters on stage....
Jack and Jill went up the hill...
Ellie in the classroom scene...
Ellie as an elf in Toyland (center)....
Ahhh, all is well in Toyland. Contrary Mary gets to marry her true love, Allen....
Ellie's friends came to watch!

And Brooke won the cookie they give away at intermission.

Ok. Take note. It WAS worth it. To see Ellie doing something she loves, in an environment where she thrives, TOTALLY worth it.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Giving it Up

As I make little ant tracks on this earth,

I create a concept of what my life should be like,
how God should work things out for me.

And when the river of my life encounters rapids and roaring waters,
and other events that frankly rail against all common sense,
it's easy for me to be taken aback: God why have you allowed this?

But I'm giving it up. I think it's in my best interest.

The God who made the ants and rivers and every layer of this richly detailed universe
is the God who does what He pleases. Yes, He is loving and gracious and kind.
And He sustains me daily. I can't possibly understand all his kindnesses toward me.

But, lest I forget, He is God. He Does as he Pleases.

Take Mary. I'm positive she was completely shocked and confused about the developments in her life. Not only did she embarrassingly turn up pregnant before she was married, she had to ride a donkey while very pregnant and give birth to a baby in a stable. It makes no sense. But I really believe she had given it up: "I am the Lord's servant... May it be to me as you have said." ~Luke 1:37

She could have kicked, she could've screamed. Instead she gave it up.

I notice this same response with many of God's chosen people:

When faced with talking to the king and risking her own life, Esther surrendered: "If I perish, I perish." She held on Loosely but Didn't Let Go.

When responding to Nebuchadnezzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego hotly retorted: "If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” They definitely gave it up. I love those guys.

Take Jonah, however. We're studying him at church right now and being reminded how he held on to Jonah's will. He didn't feel like taking the trip to Nineveh and he really despised the Ninevites, so "Jonah ran away from the Lord." As we know, things got worse for Jonah. What really gets me about Jonah was that after he had finally obeyed God, he held on to his own bitter will. He waited outside the city of Ninevah, hoping to see calamity fall upon it. But when it didn't he was "greatly displeased and became angry [with God]." Jonah's final words of the book are "It would be better for me to die than to live." How sad. Give it up, dude. How different the book of Jonah could have been.

It sure is easy to see the err of Jonah's ways, but the irony is that I live my own life like Jonah. Questioning the things that happen in my life. Such as, I prayed to be a missionary (in college I really did surrender my life to mission work), but I'm living a very secular life married to a basketball coach. Huh? That makes no sense Lord. And as far as basketball goes, I would think it's in God's perfect and pleasing will that the ORU basketball team, who holds up the banner of Jesus, would win each and every basketball game we play!!! Ha. Not even close. It doesn't make sense. There are also numerous unbloggable things about my life that just don't make sense. And in the lives of many, many of my Christian friends.

I haven't dared to mention the number of those who loved God in the Bible and beyond who died awful deaths because of their profession of faith in Christ. Now that just does not jive with my idea of what God would do. Yeah, I'm having a hard time getting that, and in my human mind, maybe it's not possible to understand.

But with God's help I'm giving it up. God is God. He does as He pleases.

I think this attitude will be strengthened by a three keys:
*An understanding of my place, God is God; I am put here on earth as his humble servant, doing whatever it is he asks.
*An yearning for my real home, earth is temporary, heaven is forever.
*A belief in God's love enormous for me, and how in the end God's plan is perfect, even if that doesn't mean perfect as we understand it.

I can't think of a better thing to give God for Christmas than my stubborn will which wants my own way. I want to give him my heart that says, "I trust You, I love You and I submit to You, even when things don't make sense."