Thursday, April 26, 2012

I'm Back

I’m back!!!! But oh, the misery I’ve endured!!!  My last week was pretty rotten.  Last Wednesday I woke up with a gigantic bump between my eyes and my left eye swollen shut and red. (They tell me it is some sort of insect bite that I had some sort of reaction to). Oh how ugly!!!!  I rushed to the doctor’s office and she prescribed some wretched antibiotic which I ended up being allergic to.  I spent the next 5 days erupting like a volcano into the toilet from my deepest crevices. Just when I didn’t think I could appear any uglier, Thursday morning I woke up to both eyes swollen shut, my entire face was red and disfigured and I had the most incredible pressure headache.  Actually, “pressure headache” does not adequately describe the pain.  Picture eating ice cream too quickly and getting a “brain freeze.”  Yep, I had a brain freeze headache for 5 days straight.  If that wasn’t enough, I had a fever, chills, body aches and felt very weak.   

 PLUS!!  Since I couldn’t see, I could not even read or write all that time either. What could be worse than 5 days off work and I can't even read or write?!!  All I had to do was think about how sorry for myself I was.  I thought about how much I miss my sweet Brandon and what a bum deal it is that he’s gone.  By the way, a little side note: I’ve learned that it is really a bad idea when you are very sad and grieving to ever retreat anywhere alone.  It is a very unsafe place to be because the devil really has a hay day with people who are grieving if they are all alone. He really likes your conditions to be dark, lonely and desperate and then he kicks you around and makes you feel even worse than you were before.  It really can lead to depression if you are not careful.  Just trust me on this one.  Don’t be alone.  “Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing (I Peter 3:8,9).”

Anyway, my parents were awesome.  They let me call or text them and complain about my misery.  Mom brought me goodies and dad drove the girls home from school and also drove me to the Urgent Care.  My hubby was awesome as well.  He took good care of the girlies and brought me whatever food I felt like even though he knew I’d  more than likely throw it up (which I did).  The girlies, one by one and in their own way, were such an encouragement. 

I have said it before if you want the cold, hard truth about something then ask Katie what she thinks.  If you really want to feel good about yourself, ask Kylie what she thinks.  And if you want some sort of mixture between the cold, hard truth and to feel good about yourself, (depending on her mood), ask Haley!  So, when asked “how do I look?” here are the answers accordingly in no specific order:

Katie: Well, your big red bump definitely looks better than it used to yesterday.  Are you feeling better by the way?  I am REALLY sick of staying in aftercare.  I’m ready for you to drive me again. (I’m glad I’m feeling better so I can drive you around too, Sweetie.)

Kylie: Oh, Mommy, you look SO beautiful.  I have missed your wonderful smile.  How are you feeling?  Can I make you some hot chocolate? Can I do anything else for you?  Here, I folded all the towels for you while you were sleeping.  (You’re officially my favorite child….Do not EVER change!!)

Haley: Boy, Mommy, I have really missed you.  I am so glad you are feeling better.  You could never look ugly, not even with that big red bump on your forehead.  (Thanks, Baby Girl.  I’m so glad I don’t look UGLY with my big GIANT RED! bump). 

So, there you have it.  I’m so thankful for everyone who sent text messages and for those who prayed for my recovery.  I’m not at 100% by any stretch yet.  But like Katie said, “At least I look (and feel) better than I used to yesterday!” 

Monday, April 16, 2012

I'm Glad You're Awkward

Everyone acts differently around people who are grieving.  Some people are ignoring me altogether.  They do not know how to handle the emotions they are feeling.  They are uncomfortable around someone who may or may not cry at any given moment.  Some people have no idea what to say, how to say it or when to say it.  So they have completely vanished.  I imagine not knowing what to do or to say to someone is a horrible feeling.  I’m sorry you are feeling this way.

Other people overdo and say and do all the wrong things.  I had one person say, “Well, at least you have 3 other children that are still living.”  Another person said, “It’s hard to make sense of all this.  Maybe God took Brandon from you because you loved him too much.”  Finally, someone said “What a shame all that money you spent to adopt him and then he just died 8 months later.”  In all these cases these people genuinely loved me.  They just didn’t know what to say and I’m sure whatever it was they meant to say was really precious. 

It’s okay.  Really.  As odd as it sounds, I’m glad you are all so awkward.  People are so awkward because this kind of tragedy is so rare.  If it were common for children to die, everyone would know exactly how to act and what to say.  That would mean all of you would know this pain I feel and I don’t want anyone to experience this pain.  It is truly a horrible feeling and it is one I will never forget. 

 The majority of people have been very encouraging.  It has truly meant a lot.  However, those who have done ALL the right things and said ALL the right things, for the most part, are those people who have suffered some kind of loss or tragedy themselves.   They know what I need because they have needed.  I hope one day that I will comfort and encourage someone who is hurting.  I know in the past I have probably fit into the category of saying and doing all the wrong things to those who were hurting.

Anyway, I wrote all this to say that I am thankful for ALL of you.  I am thankful you care enough to be awkward.  I’m thankful for the support and for the prayers.  Thanks mostly for being YOU.  YOU make me smile. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012


All four of our children are so unique in personality.  As a general rule, Kylie and Haley are more alike than Katie and Brandon, while Katie and Brandon were more similar to one another than Kylie and Haley.  One example is in their reactions.  If you look at these pictures below you can see what I mean.  They are reacting to Tim and I kissing.  This is how they react EVERY TIME Tim and I kiss.  It makes Tim and I laugh.  Admittedly, Tim and I used to purposefully kiss at the dinner table just to gross Katie and Brandon out for the simple reason that it was fun to torture them and we enjoyed the giggles of Kylie and Haley.

One of the things that I have learned over the last almost 11 weeks is that I cannot choose my circumstances.  I didn't choose to be born into a middle class family in America, or to be a petite female with brown hair and eyes.  I didn't get to choose having 3 biological daughters.  I didn't get to choose when or how my son died.  Likewise, I can't choose to bring my son back.  I didn't get to choose whether he had an autopsy.  I didn't get to choose the results.  I didn't get to choose the expenses that resulted from his death.  I can't choose to take away the pain my daughters feel.  I can't choose what people say to me or how they treat me throughout my life. 

The only thing that I get to choose is my REACTIONS to my circumstances. 

The Bible says, "Choose you this day who you will serve" (Joshua 24:15). Do I want to serve God in this circumstance or do I want to serve myself by wallowing in my own misery? 

The Bible also says, "In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us" (Titus 2:7-8).  My reactions have a profound impact on others---my children are watching, my friends are watching, people I don't even know are watching and they are studying how we are REACTING to tragic circumstances. 

I have found in this horrible circumstance, that coping with pain comes so much easier if I choose to rejoice, rather than mope. Philippians 4 says, "Rejoice in the Lord always; and I again I say, Rejoice."  There is ALWAYS something to praise God for, even on the days when I feel the only thing I can praise Him for is getting out of bed that day.

Finally, when I choose to serve Him, God gives me joy and peace. A few verses later in the passage of Philippians 4 it says, "rejoice" then "the peace of God, which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."  This idea PROVES to my heart that God's word is true. The Bible is not just some book that humans wrote for the fun of it.  It is a Supernatural book that has not changed at all since it was written.  Yet the book always is true and it always applies to life, no matter who the reader is, what the culture they are from is like, or what generation the reader is living in.  It's hard work, I stumble and fall OFTEN in my reactions, but I rejoice in the fact that I get to choose my reactions and I am so thankful for the guidance I can glean from God's Word.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Dear Anonymous Commenter

I’ve tossed around the idea of shutting down this blog since I’ve begun receiving hurtful anonymous comments.  I usually don’t mind comments without a name, but I’d rather know who is speaking to me.  Usually those who post anonymously simply do not know how to sign their name.  Others will write an anonymous comment because it’s easier than typing an email address and so forth, but they will sign their name at the end of whatever it is that they wrote.  Either way, I enjoy hearing from people and for the most part it encourages me.

Here is one anonymous comment (minus the curse words).

“Why didn’t you drive the (omit word) kid to the (omit word) ER? He was (omit word) dying and your sitting around praying and singing Kum By Yah.  You are a stupid (omit word, omit word) (insert synonym) girl.  You are a unfit mother and his death was (omit word) senseless.”

Dear Anonymous Commenter who left the above comment,

I’d like to respond first to the “unfit” portion of this comment.  By law I could be considered unfit if I have been abusive, if I am addicted to drugs, if I have a mental disturbance, if I fail to visit the child, if I fail to provide support in any way, if I am incarcerated or if I have failed to provide proper care for my child.  None of the above applies to me.  I’ve properly cared for children for over 20 years.  I’ve been thrown up on, peed on, drooled on, sneezed on more times than I can remember.  The night Brandon was throwing up I slept with him for at least 6 hours because he felt safe with me there.  I wiped throw up off of his face, out of his ears, and cleaned anything that his throw up landed on.  I washed his pajamas and bedding.  I brought him clear liquids and saltine crackers.  I scratched his back and stroked his hair because he loved it when I did that.  It helped him fall asleep.  I turned on his Russian Pixar Animated movies to try to cheer him up.  I did all of this things to care for my son, because I love him deeply. 

Next, why didn’t I take him to the ER? I think this is a valid question.  Brandon’s only symptoms were vomiting, stomach ache and head ache.  Any mother in the middle of winter would assume their child had the flu, especially if their child specifically said “I'm sick. I have the flu.”  Brandon had no fever.  His vomiting was not even frequent or violent (with the exception of his final projectile just before his death).  He only threw up maybe 7 times in over 20 hours.  He never told us he fell or was injured.  He wasn’t doubled over in pain.  I felt the right side of his abdomen and he allowed me to do so without ever saying “ouch” or “that hurts.”  So as far as rushing a child with the flu to the ER, I’ve been there and done that before.  Each time the doctors run thousands of dollars in tests simply to send us home with a diagnosis of “something viral” and the instructions to fill the child with clear liquids until the vomiting ceases.  Another reason is Brandon was fearful of doctors.  He had some pretty scary situations in Ukraine where he felt harmed by doctors.  I tried not to take him to doctors any more than was absolutely necessary.  Also, I will go out on a limb and say that the ER doctors and staff would appreciate it if the 5 million people affected monthly with the common flu would kindly stay home.  They prefer to leave room in the ER for those individuals who are critically sick or injured.

 Third, I did not sing, but I definitely prayed.  I prayed that God would comfort my son and help him to sleep.  When he was lying unconscious and I was awaiting the paramedics to arrive I prayed for healing.  God chose to heal my son in a way you probably don’t understand.  The Bible describes the death of a believer as “overcoming the world.”  My son, right now is forever healed of any sickness or injury.  He is very much alive!  I would love for you, Anonymous Commenter, to experience salvation in Christ.  May your eyes be opened to the Truth of the Cross!  To you his death is senseless, but to those of us in Christ we know that both Brandon’s life and death had a purpose in God’s eternal story.

I’m must confess that this comment initially hurt me to my very core at a very vulnerable time in my life.  I'm sure any grieving mother would understand how a note such as this could hurt so bad I felt paralyzed for many moments after reading it.  However, it has taught me how to love as Christ loved.  I gained a deeper understanding  and perspective of death outside of Christ.  The Bible says if the only hope we have is in this life here on earth, we humans are “most miserable” (I Cor. 15:19).  I am SO thankful to God that Brandon’s life didn’t end when we put him in the ground.  I’m thankful for the hope of living eternally with my son and my Creator God. I’m going to continue blogging, by the way.  And I’m going to continue praying for you, Anonymous Commenter, until I die or I receive word from you in my comments that you have placed your faith in Christ. 

When The Path Is Daunting

My path has been a little daunting lately.  It seems nothing is every truly easy.  I've really been struggling with my emotions and "holding it all together."  I have a hard time holding my own self together much less trying to comfort the girls when they are upset along with handling all my normal duties to family and society.  Most of the time I just long to retreat alone to the mountains without any trace of human beings needing anything from me.  A song by Kutless has really encouraged me these last few days.  You can google "Carry Me To The Cross" by Kutless and listen to it for yourself.  It's really beautiful. I've posted the words to it below.  I'm learning that He is carrying me all the way.   I'm not "holding it all together" alone.  Actually, God is holding it together for me nd He's carrying me as well.  I can find rest and peace in that. 

When the path is daunting
And every step exhausting
I'm not alone
I'm not alone, no, no
I feel you draw me closer
All these burdens on my shoulder
I'm not alone, I'm not alone
You pull me me from this place

You carry me every day
You carry me all all the way
You carry me to the
You carry me to the cross

How your love has moved me, yeah
To the foot of all your glory
I'm not alone, I'm not alone
I'm not alone

You carry me every day
You carry me all all the way
You carry me to the
You carry me to the cross

All of these cities you have built
And every cathedral you have filled
To all of creation you gave life with your hands
And with those hands you comfort me
You lift me up from my knees
And carry me
You carry me

You carry me every day
You carry me all all the way
You carry me to the
You carry me to the cross
The cross
You carry me to the
You carry me to the cross

Thursday, April 5, 2012

How Did We Survive?

Here’s a story that circulates often on Facebook.  It’s called “How Did We Survive?”  What is written below is basically how I lived and how Tim lived as children.  I’ve always been the chill mom that allows my kids to be kids.  I’ve always let them climb wherever they wanted, walk barefoot all through the neighborhood (or anywhere outside for that matter), climb any tree because that’s what God made them for, eat berries out the woods without washing them first, ride their bikes in the streets, build forts with whatever they can find and I even allow them to use knives and carve weapons (SEE PICTURES BELOW)..….Actually, more accurately I should say, that is how I WAS…until letting my “boy be a boy” caused a freak accident where he didn’t “survive.” I’m trying not to be cynical, but it sure is hard. Anyway, here is part of the excerpt:

“Looking back, it's hard to believe that we have lived as long as we have. As children we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags. Riding in the back of a pickup truck on a warm day was always a special treat. We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors, or cabinets, and when we rode our bikes we had no helmets. We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle. We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then rode down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times we learned to solve the problem.  We built forts out of branches and pieces of plywood, made trails, and fought over who got to be the Lone Ranger. We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on. No one was able to reach us all day. We played dodge ball and sometimes the ball would really hurt. We played with toy guns, cowboys and Indians, army, cops and robbers, and used our fingers to simulate guns when the toy ones or the BB gun was not available.
We played king of the hill on piles of gravel left on vacant construction sites and when we got hurt, mom pulled out the over the counter medicine and then we got butt-whooped. Now it's a trip to the emergency room, followed by a 10-day dose of a $49 bottle of antibiotics and then mom calls the attorney to sue the contractor for leaving a horribly vicious pile of gravel where it was such a threat.  How did we survive?”

After school yesterday Kylie took a huge spill on her bike.  She tripped over Katie’s roller blades.  (Her sister pulled out in front of her unexpectedly and didn’t leave enough time to brake). Blood was everywhere.  I assessed her body, checked for any abdominal injuries, and nearly rushed her to the ER even though there were none.  Honestly, it almost put me over the edge.  I hardly slept until it was almost morning.  I checked on her every few hours.   Praise God for Scripture like Psalm 4:8, “In peace I will lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.”  I am sure it will just take time for my nerves to settle. 

Psalm 127:3 reminds me that our children are a heritage (gift) from the Lord. What I must realize is that our children are not our own any way.  We are simply stewards of them.  When our girls were babies we dedicated them back to the Lord.  We acknowledged before our Pastor and church family that it is our responsibility to cherish, nourish, and nurture our children. We do this by teaching, training, correcting, admonishing, disciplining, praying and demonstrating this in every area of our lives. All this we do from a heart that is filled with love for our children and a desire to see them fulfill their potential and serve God with their lives.

Being a steward of our children is not an easy job, but ensuring that they use their imaginations as they play and exercise their bodies is something Tim and I believe our kids need to grow up as healthy, well-rounded kids.  It is just something that requires a whole lot of prayer and faith.  To answer the question, "How Did We Survive?" I believe it is because our God is Sovereign!!  Does not He see my ways and count my every step? (Job 31:4) Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:13) For a man’s ways are in full view of the LORD, and He examines all his paths. (Proverbs 5:21)
Climbing on the roots of trees
Bow and Arrow that Brandon carved while he was living

Never a dull moment with these kids around....See? They can fly!


Bare foot in the woods

Bare foot and beautiful


He climbed up there to see if he could see fish he could catch

Might as well be monkies, they climb trees enough

Brandon and Katie tied a rope to the wagon to give Bella a ride

Bella wishes they weren't creative children..she hated the ride

Wiped out on the neighbor's high speed motor scooter
Katie and Brandon in their fort they built...Brandon's eating an TYPICAL of him.  He loved his apples!