Monday, May 31, 2010

Signs of Spring

I thought I'd share some of the beauty that is right outside our front door.
Some of my flower pots. I enjoy planting flowers. It is very calming to me, and I love to sit outside and enjoy them while I read and watch the kids play.
I found these planters at a little local place called Pat Catans, which is a lot like Michaels or Hobby Lobby.
Lily of the Valley adorns the side of our little house. It is so delicate and beautiful.
A cardinal I spotted outside our picture window one morning. We have a bird feeder in the tree he is perched in. It's nice to watch the robins, blue birds, cardinals and finches who visit our feeder in the morning.
For two years we have had a mother bird come to make her nest and lay her eggs on our front door. Hugh and I pick up the children everyday to check on the eggs and see if they've hatched. It was just as exciting for me as it was for Trey and Anna Grace.
Just hatched, and waiting for breakfast. Aren't they sweet?!
Growing stronger....ready to leave the nest.
Four sweet faces. -I'm going to miss our little house and all the memories we've made here. Thank you Lord for giving us such precious moments! Happy Spring!

Memorial Day

I hope we will all take time this Memorial Day to pause and observe what this day is really all about. It's not just for bar-b-ques and get togethers although that is part of long held traditions that mark this day. It is to honor those who have given their lives to preserve our liberty and freedom. And thank God for these men and women, because they have one of the hardest jobs in the world. I stand in awe of you, because I could never do what you do. Thank you to all the families of these wonderful men and women whom serve our country, because you too sacrifice so much for each and everyone of us.

A tradition observed on Memorial Day since it's conception is the decorating of the graves of our fallen soldiers. In fact it was first called Decoration Day before the name was officially changed to Memorial Day.

I have never visited a cemetary on Memorial day, or decorated a grave. I would like to take my children to visit my daddy's grave in a few years when they are a little older, and the significance would have more meaning to them.

One of the traditions of Memorial day I was surprised to learn about is wearing a red poppy flower. I think that is a lovely tradition that needs to be brought back. It was a tradition started by Moina Michael and inspired by the following:

In Flanders Fields
John McCrae, 1915.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

In 1915, inspired by the poem “ In Flanders Fields,” Moina Michael replied with her own poem:

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.

So very moving, if you let it in. I hope we will. And I hope we will pause to take a few moments to remember, and be thankful. ~Blessings.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Medical School Part 3: Beauty in the Suffering

As I've said before the Lord has taught me many things along this journey. He has used many situations to grow me and deepen my faith. Some are more painful than others. Losing daddy and then momma two years later was one of the hardest times in my life.

I have written and re written this post several times now, and it just seemed too depressing. I don't want to go down a dark road of woe is me. That's not the point. And I don't feel that way. I mean was it hard. Is it still hard at times? Absolutely. I still struggle with moments where I miss them terribly. But, am I going to let it paralyze me with grief and steal my joy in the Lord. No. That is not what either of them would have wanted, and if I am going to honor the life they lived and what they instilled in me, then I must chose to allow the Lord to show me the beauty in the suffering.

My dad had a quadruple bi-pass surgery in 1986, and it changed our lives. He spent the remaining years of his life very focused on his health. He walked 2 to 3 miles everyday without fail, and he watched his diet very carefully. If it didn't fly or swim we didn't eat. I seriously had only had steak twice in my life before I met my husband Hugh. It was always veggies with either chicken or fish. He took vitamins everyday and was very into researching homeopathic or alternative medicines to improve his life and health. It was a shock to me when he passed away suddenly of a heart attack in 2004. It was two days before Thanksgiving. I remember talking to him on the phone that Monday. He had had a bad cold for a little over two weeks, and he just didn't sound good. He and momma were supposed to come up to Kansas City to spend Thanksgiving with us, but he didn't feel up to the trip. I was so disappointed because I hadn't seen him or momma since the summer. So, I talked to Hugh and we decided that we would make the trip down. That night, I received a frantic phone call from momma saying he was rushed to the hospital and they were saying he had had a heart attack. It turned out to be more congestive heart failure brought on by the cold that had turned into pneumonia, but a heart attack none the less. I remember packing my black dress and shoes and some how knowing in my heart that it was his time and the Lord was going to take him. I didn't want to say it out loud though, like some how it might come true if I said it. We drove all night straight through trying to get there in time. One of my very best friends mom went to stay with my mom at the hospital and kept us updated until my mother in law could get there to be with her. We got the call about half way through the night that he had passed. Hugh was on the phone and pulled over to the side of the road, and I started crying because I knew. We finally got home at 7:15 the next morning.

Momma was in shock. Hugh and his mom helped me make all the arrangements. We had a small memorial at the funeral home in Indianola. My dear friend Marci shared a song at the memorial, and daddy's friend, Wayne Smith gave the message. My best friend Peige also wrote a special poem to share. It was so touching and comforting to have them all near at that time. We then had daddy's body flown to Colorado for the funeral and military burial at Ft. Logan National Cemetery. It was cold and windy that day, and everything seemed so still and quiet. Hugh was one of the pallbearers. Momma had asked me to sing daddy's favorite hymn How Great Thou Art for the service. I remember how beautiful the service was. I had the most peaceful moment as a flock of white birds took flight and the bugler played Taps. It was perfect. I know that may sound strange, but it was as if God had orchestrated the most beautiful moment in the midst of all the sorrow that surrounded us. It was so beautiful, and I know it would have made daddy smile.

Two years passed and my momma had remarried an old sweetheart from her high school days, and moved out to Arizona. She flew up here on January 30, 2006 and was planning to stay for my birthday on February 2nd, and through the birth of my first child, my son Trey. The next morning, I didn't have to be in to work until ten, so I spent the morning with momma. As soon as Hugh went to work I had her come and get in bed with me and we sat there and talked for a couple hours. It's funny how you don't notice things at the time, but you look back on them later and it almost takes your breath away. I remember telling momma that I thought the Lord was giving Trey to me early as a comfort, because He was going to take Hugh. I know that sounds bizarre, but let me explain. We had been taking, let's say precautions, because we weren't planing on trying to start our family for another year or so until after Hugh graduated medical school. So, we were surprised when we found out we were going to have a baby. We were pleasantly surprised and happy about his arrival once the shock wore off. Then we found out that Hugh was going to have to have brain surgery to repair or replace his shunt. Hugh developed Hydrocephalus shortly after his birth and has had a shunt practically his whole life. When I told momma that I was afraid that the Lord was giving me Trey early because He might take Hugh, she just sat there and held my hand and listened. Which seems odd to me now. Whenever Hugh and I faced any type of set back, momma was always the first to reassure me by saying, "Oh, honey the Lord always takes care of you and Hugh. He has his hand over you and Hugh and he keeps blessing you over and over. He is going to continue to bless you and take care of you." -But, not that morning. Looking back on it now, I think she knew. I think she knew it was going to be her, but she didn't want to tell me. Instead we talked about losing grandma and daddy and the pact we'd made a few years earlier that if anything happened to one of us, some how, some way we'd let the other know that we were OK. We'd give some kind of sign to let the other know we were still with them and we were OK. She passed away a few hours later. Hugh found her, started CPR and called an ambulance, but it was already too late. We found out later she passed from an aortic dissection.

Two days later on my birthday I believe the Lord allowed her to keep our promise. By that time our little house was filled. There were already seven of us here with more family on the way. And then we heard one of our phones beeping. Everyone scattered to find their cell phone, and we realized it was momma's. Then my phone started beeping very erratically. It was almost as if they were talking back and forth to one another or having a conversation. None of us thought much of it until Hugh walked over and took the batteries out and a few minutes later they kept beeping back and forth to one another. Then we all got chills. My aunt Cathy said, "I think it's a sign. I think she is trying to let you know she's OK Tiff." I had to smile thinking about our pact. She was still with me. She is always with me. I carry her always in my heart.

The Lord is so gracious in His love for us. After all the comfort and peace He brought me during these times of sorrow, He went a step further and also gave me joy. One year later on my momma's birthday, my daughter was born. It is so fitting that this blessing was wrapped in His healing love.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Nine Years of Wedded Bliss!

1995 One of our first dates. This was taken at my sorority's Fall Fling.

1998 Our first trip to Denver. Hugh met my great grandmother and got her blessing to marry me.

2001 The night of our rehearsal dinner.

2001 Our Wedding Day.

Our Honeymoon.

2006 Becoming Parents. Six days before our son was born.
2006 Graduation from medical school.

2008 My Birthday.
Our Anniversary.
We have had nine wonderful years of marriage. I am so blessed. Hugh brought home yellow roses the night of our anniversary. He had to work, but we went out to dinner last night. He said he has BIG plans for our anniversary next year. We'll be celebrating our first big mile stone, ten years of marriage. I'm already excited. I love surprises. He's really good at them too, so I can't wait to see what he has in store. I love you sweet heart!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Read to me Wednesday

I realize I'm a little late in sharing, but we've been very busy here lately with getting packed up and ready to move next month. I've also been attending a new Bible study on Thursday mornings, and I've had four singing engagements in the past few weeks. The Lord is so gracious. So, I've been a busy lady as of late.

We are still taking our weekly trip to the library on Fridays, and here is one of the treasures that we have found. It is just a simple straight forward counting book, but the illustrations are so captivating. Kim Parker, the book's author and illustrator is also a very well know textile designer. In this, her first children's book, she shares with us her love of color, art and nature. Each of the creatures in the story are hidden among the flowers in the garden. It's approach is that of a creative little game of hide and seek, and you learn your numbers along the way.

We have really enjoyed this book and so I wanted to recommend it for your summer reading! Have fun! For other reading suggestions for your little ones visit our host Sarah Denley. ~Blessings!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day! I hope everyone is having a wonderful day surrounded by family. Hugh is working today, so it was just the children and I. Hugh brought me roses last night after he got off of work, and he and the children awoke me this morning with hugs and kisses and cake. Yes cake, and very yummy cake I might add. I had a piece with a cup of tea earlier.

As, I was getting ready for church I received four voice messages and text from my wonderful friends and family wishing me a Happy Mother's Day. I have the most thoughtful family and friends. Today is so bitter sweet for me. I am so thankful for the blessing of my children. They really are my sweetest dreams come true. And I am thankful for every moment I had with my mama. She meant so much to me and a part of my heart went with her when she passed. I just can't help but wish she were here. It's hard. I've had the most tender moments today with my own sweet children, and yet there were also moments I could hardly breathe I missed mama so much.

A picture of us many years ago.
I wonder if this was taken on Mother's Day, or Easter, or if it was just some Sunday morning before church. I don't know because I can't ask her or daddy now that they're gone. This is a picture from one of the boxes that my aunt Cathy was able to salvaged when Sonny was throwing out, giving away, or selling all of my parents things. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you can read it all here. I haven't been able to go through the two boxes of papers and pictures until just recently. I tried when aunt Cathy first sent them to me, but I had a full blown panic attack. It was bad. So, I put them to the side to look at later when I felt ready. I've been able to look through a couple of times lately, and the first time I was ok and the second time not so much. I don't want it to be so hard. I don't want to keep avoiding it, because I don't want to forget her, or daddy. Grief is a very weird process. It can make you feel crazy sometimes. I can enjoy talking about her and looking through pictures, and other times someone can talk about their own mom and I have to swallow to keep from choking on the lump in my throat. I just love her and I miss her.

She was so beautiful. This isn't me, by the way. This is her at the dance recital of one of the girls from her daycare. I love her smile in this one.

I sang in church today. I'm starting to feel more comfortable with it again. I sang A Mother's Prayer from Celine Dion's album Miracle with Anne Geddes.I love this album. It's a wonderful gift for new or expecting mothers. After church, I took the children out to eat for lunch and Trey told me he wanted to give me a gift. I told him minding his manners in church and being on his best behavior today was the best gift. He told me no he wanted to give me a gift. Anna Grace shouted, " A baby brother!" Side note: (she has decided that we are having a baby brother and has been telling people she wants one.) HA Ha ha ha! Trey said, "No sis, you can't give mama a baby brother. I'm not sure what that is all about, but I thought it was cute.

We are enjoying a very nice afternoon here at home now. I hope y'all are enjoying a beautiful day as well. Blessings from above!