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Years ago, when I started this blog, it was on a journey to find joy- a place I longed to be, and found in the most unexpected place….at the feet of learning to be thankful for my blessings.
So, here I am…struggling to find joy, at times. I feel weepy, and sad, and I miss my mama.
I realized today, I really needed to note all the things in which I have to be thankful…even those things which seem to painful to recall, but really are God’s provision for my family and myself.
Tonight, I’m writing these things…I’m sure I’ll think of others, but off the top of my head, here are the things for which I’m thankful:
1. When I found I was pregnant with Jackson, just four months after Darby’s birth, I was shocked and a little nervous to have two babies so close in age. Looking back, I realize if these two babies had been spaced like my others, I would have been pregnant, or with a newborn now. With the Lord’s planning, Jackson was old enough for me to leave with someone so I could be with my mom through her treatments, and even now, as we are wrapping up so many details of her life.
2. Along those lines, I have suffered horribly with mastitis while nursing every baby since Emma. Knowing that mama milk is best for babies, I’ve still tried to nurse but it’s been difficult. After having Jackson, I just assumed this would be a problem, especially since I was with my mom so much…even until late into the night while she had surgeries or treatments.
The first blessing I had was that on the days when I had been away, Jackson would wake up during the night to nurse. This meant I never suffered from having too little milk to feed him. It seemed like the Lord just woke him and then when my milk was back to normal, he would be back to sleeping through the night.
In addition, I haven’t had one episode of mastitis. Not one. The Lord is good.
3. At the beginning of this year, Paul has been covered in work. While this meant we didn’t see him very much (I think less than 5 days in one of the first few months of the year), it also meant that we had the additional money to cover the new expenses we have faced.
4. His working also meant that while I was missing him, I was able to spend a *lot* of time with my mother. I’ll admit, my heart has grumbled a bit over seeing him so little….looking back, I just see this as one more way the Lord was providing for me and I just didn’t see. I was able to devote undivided attention to her.
5. After all of Paul’s work, the night of her passing, Paul happened to be home. I just don’t know how I would have managed if he had been gone.
6. The night of her death, my neighbor (who is a nurse), was home to start CPR and be with us. She worked so hard- I will forever be grateful to her. She had worked the night before and slept most of the day. She was awake and rested when she came to help our family that night.
7. Courtney’s new friend, Daniel, happened to have some open time in this first part of the month and was able to be here to help us with music for the funeral and in these first days as we had to get back on our feet.
8. Knowing that we have some tax issues, I started trying to work though paperwork and realized we were missing a document we needed. I went to her home and began to look. I opened a box, picked up a stack of paper and there was the one document I needed! Praise God!!
9. Courtney enjoys baking bread. Mama was on a diet, but would be off on the days she had to go to the hospital. She very much enjoyed Courtney’s bread. Courtney decided to bake that week and it worked perfectly (she had been having some trouble with the recipe). It made for a special touch for dinner and now a good memory for Courtney. She had also made her favorite breakfast the week before.
10. The morning of her death, Mama had asked me to make her an egg sandwich. I have no idea why, but I decided to make it perfect. I wasn’t happy with the first egg so I cooked a second. We toasted bread. Jessa cooked bacon to a crispy perfection just like Mama liked. Joshua went to buy her a pink grapefruit.
She was so funny…after that egg sandwich, she said it was the most perfect egg sandwich she had ever eaten. She went on and on. I was so thankful…I truly believe God was whispering to my heart.
11. For whatever reason, Joshua got off work two weeks ago tonight and told me he wanted to help and asked where. I told him he could go and clean the bathroom which is where things happened later that night…I was so glad it was so clean since they were working on her there in the floor. It seems like such a small thing, but to my hurting heart it’s not.
12. As hard as it was for my family for her to have passed here, I’m SO. VERY. THANKFUL. she was in my home and not lingering in pain. I had started to brace myself for a battle with this horrible disease. I had already been told it would take her life. They had already said there just wasn’t much they could do for her. The Lord was, I believe, merciful to not allow her to suffer. It’s so hard to be without her, but it would be impossible to bear if I had to watch her linger in pain.
As it stands, Paul held her in his arms until she was almost gone. We were with her until the end. She didn’t have the pain that could have been.
13. The first many nights of this experience were filled with tears and sleepless nights. I would cry myself to sleep only to wake up, realize it was all real and not the bad dream I had hoped, and begin to cry again. Hours and hours and hours. I would manage to pull myself together the next morning and face the day with so little sleep and a broken heart. The Lord sustained me….I managed to carry on for my mama, and my family (with some help *smile*).
14. When this first started a friend mentioned that we might make sure all of our paperwork was in order (for Mama, Paul and I). I’m so glad we pushed through with those preparations. When this all happened, I only had to go straight to this folder to find our necessary papers. It has been much easier not having to think through all of those details.
15. At one point, I was having issues with some things with my mama’s benefits through her work. I was so tired and was trying to focus more on her physical health. I did tell Paul one night that I thought I might have to visit her work to figure out what was going on…he stopped and prayed with me that night. The next day, one of her closest friends emailed to check on her. I was able to share that we were having trouble in this area and by the next day, I had numerous calls to figure out the issue. Within days, the whole thing had been worked out and not only were those details handled, they shouldered more of the responsibility of speaking with her doctors….what a relief to my mind! What a relief to my mom!
16. The end of last year found me praying for my mom. I believe the Lord was preparing my heart to hear the news after Mama’s February surgery.
17. A week before her passing, Joshua came and told me he wasn’t sure why, but he had a feeling that something big was happening. It was a burden he carried that week. We prayed for him. The morning after she passed, he came and told me that he no longer was feeling such a burden…maybe the Lord had been having him pray, or preparing his heart?
18. When Mom first came to stay with us, I decided to plant hanging flower baskets along the front porch. I told the children I wanted everything she saw to be just perfect. A couple of days before she passed, I was in her room and she said, “Look at those flowers. Aren’t they just perfect?”. I realized she would lay in bed and look at those flowers each day when she took her nap.
19. A couple of nights before she passed, she was particularly tired. Courtney asked if she could play her some soft music on the piano….my mom loved to hear her play. I know it was special to my mom and it will be a special memory for Courtney.
20. We were blessed to find Mama’s Bible tucked under her bed sheets opened to Isaiah 53- the chapter we’ve been memorizing as a family. She had been reading and memorizing along with us- it was a blessing to me.
21. My Mama loved the thrift store!! When she died, I ran by to find some things I needed for my boys for the funeral. She had originally asked for a single piece of lace to be across her casket. I don’t know why I thought of it, but I decided to go and look to see if they had one…as if it was placed there for me, there was one perfect, new piece of lace. I bought it, brought it home, washed and ironed it- she would have loved it!
To make this even better, last night, Courtney received a call from the local thrift store. The last time we were there, Mom entered a drawing for a gift basket. They were calling to tell her she had won! Courtney had to tell them she was deceased. They want our family to have it anyway…I guess tomorrow, we’ll be making a trip to the store. I hope Mama is smiling….I know she must be!
22. She spent her last days crocheting. She made teapot covers, coasters, and toys for my children. My children have special momentos from her that they watched her make during her last days.
All the little blessings I can’t mention specifically…cards (wow, the cards that we have received these past months), mails, phone calls, child care, flowers, food (you know how we southern women love to cook!), hugs, etc. , I feel my words could never fully quantify how much they have all meant. It seemed that when I needed encouragement…the Lord sent exactly what I needed.
These months have all seemed like a blur…almost surreal, but what remains constant is that GOD IS FAITHFUL.
I am thankful for my mama.
I am thankful for my family.
I am thankful for God’s mercy.
I am thankful for God’s provision.
I am thankful for the very best friends.
I am thankful the sun will come up in the morning, and the Lord willing, I will walk the path He has set before my feet.
When I finally fall asleep at night, I dream of my mom….she just looks at me.
I wake up feeling so sorry that she’s gone- but knowing she is in a better place, not sick, and not hurting. I miss her.
This afternoon, I fell asleep for the nap I’m long overdue for– I’m just so tired.
I dreamed I was at a graduation with Courtney. She had walked off some place, and I was on the front row listening to the speaker.
Courtney ran up to whisper in my ear that she saw my dad there.
I have wanted to sit and pour out my heart to him…and about so many things, but most especially, about how much I miss Mama.
As I look over to see where he is, he’s gone. I run out the building, frantically looking for him…beginning to weep, but he’s gone. He’s just gone.
I hate this. I hate this. I hate this.
I want to blink and be back in January- long before cancer had touched my family.
I know the Lord has a plan, and I know He knows I hurt right now.
My mind thinks on things like knowing my babies have no grandmother. Doesn’t every child need to know the love of a sweet grandma?
My babies are missing her, too. Yesterday, Meredith came to me to say she missed Grandmommy. She would sit for long lengths of time just talking about anything and everything. I come into the family room often to find her or one of my other littles sitting in Mama’s chair.
I am left to figure out how to pick up pieces and I just don’t know how.
I’m not sure my body has ever felt so weary.
I lay in bed for long lengths of time thinking over the past months, and especially over the last week and I want to be sick.
It’s the most odd feeling to think of this year. January seemed like a fresh year…who would know five months later we would be changed forever. It’s almost too much to understand.
Two days ago, I stood by my mama’s body, shaking hands, weeping, and hearing one person after another tell me how much they loved her.
These past months seem like a blur. On Monday, I was supposed to have attended a Cancer support group meeting with her. Sunday, being Mother’s Day, was supposed to be a happy day of celebration with my family. This coming Monday was a scheduled CAT scan to track the disease in her body.
Our weeks have been hard to describe to the outside world. My mom, growing weaker and weaker, had a hard time showering, much less doing anything else. We made her meals and washed her clothes. When she first arrived, she would fold clothes for us. She read lots of books to my littles, worked to teach Emma to crochet (she taught her to write her name and whistle when she broke her legs a few years back), and fell in love with Pinterest.
It was an adjustment to make (having someone here all the time), but mostly, I loved having her here. I enjoyed chatting with her through the day while I went about my work. We would watch the littles playing in the backyard. She taught Jackson to wave good-bye. I would laugh and ask her if she was tired of the chaos that is so natural to our family…just a part of life in a home with lots of littles. She often told me she loved the noise…she said it was happy noise and it made her days joyful and pass faster than if she were at home alone.
Today, I’m waking tearful. I wake up many times during the night thinking I’m hearing her cane coming toward the restroom. When the phone rings, I automatically think, “it’s Grandmommy”. I’m shaken to see her handwriting on the papers she had in her room.
I miss my mama.
Many folks have commented on what a great daughter I am because I allowed her to come stay, and because we took care of her. What I would like all of you to know is that my mama was VERY independent. She would always have tried to take care of herself in her own home before coming here. She GAVE us a gift by coming here and allowing us to care for her and to have these many months of day-to-day time with her.
I am left with many, many memories of her.
I went to visit with my grandmother a couple of days after she passed. I think I needed to touch her, and to hear her voice. I just needed to be near her. The Lord blessed me so- my grandmother knew who I was and remembered what had happened. She was a comfort and a blessing to me.
My mom would be so touched by the love so many of you have shown. I think she always worried about me and my family above herself.
While cancer may have defined how she died, it DID NOT define how she lived. She was a beautiful, wonderful mama. I loved her very much.
I sent this to a family member this morning:
“We can’t look back. We must move forward. While the Lord’s plans for her life were made complete, His plans for us are not.
That’s hard because while I feel like curling up in a ball and sobbing, I have littles that need me to smile at them today. I have meals that need to be cooked, clothes that need to be washed, a husband to encourage, friends to thank, and I have to remember to be thankful, because THIS IS THE DAY THE LORD HAS MADE. I will find a way to rejoice and be glad because we are told to “count it all joy when we face trials of many kinds”…..
Sharing my hurting heart but knowing the Lord that put the world in place is my comfort and my strength,
Just a note- we ARE NOT having our community fellowship in May. I think there is just too much grief, and too much happening right now. I’m thankful that many of you probably already know this and have been so understanding. It seems like too long since I’ve been able to sit and fellowship with you.
We ARE planning for June- I am looking forward to visiting then.
We’ll post a reminder a little closer to time.
We would love to have you! Message me for details.
Please pray for our family.
My precious mama has passed on to her eternal home.
I’m not sure why, this picture just made me think spring.
This little one just makes my heart smile.
He still loves to cook!
I would love to help foster this love of cooking with some classes.
I’ve looked for children’s classes in my area. In the past, I’ve found a few but they seemed “dumbed down”– not classes where he could really learn some new skills.
Thou art the Lord who slept upon the pillow;
Thou art the Lord who soothed the furious sea,
What matter beating wind and tossing billow
If only we are in the boat with Thee!
Hold us in quiet through the age-long minute
While Thou art silent, and the wind is shrill:
Can the boat sink while Thou, dear Lord, art in it?
Can the heart faint that waiteth on Thy will?
Finding joy in the midst of a storm is never easy. Like all other times in life, finding joy means remembering to be thankful.
So, at a time when I’m needing to find joy, here is what I’m giving thanks for in my life….
I AM thankful to be part of this season of life with my mom. In spite of all she is experiencing, this is NOT what defines her life. It is a blessing to walk this path with her, sometimes holding her hand, always loving her, always appreciating her endurance, mercy, and love for others. This is the season God has given, I will “count it all joy”.
I am thankful for the cool, magnificent rain this morning. I find myself lingering at the windows just a little longer, taking in the deep breath of air that spring is providing. It’s a glorious, cloudy day. I am in love.
I am thankful for friends who are walking alongside right now…praying, writing, calling, doing everything they know to do to help our family. My heart swells when I think of any one of you. I am undeserving. I love all of you.
I am thankful for fuzzy socks. My Mama laughed a little bit ago, (which is unusual this first week following her chemo treatment), when she saw my black and red striped socks. (…May I add, I think I remember her buying them for me.) They, along with a cup of warm, creamy cocoa (made by my sweet daughters), in the morning, make me feel like all is right with the world- at least until I reach the bottom of the cup.
I am thankful for a new week.
“One thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus”
– Phil 3:13-14
I’m trying to take one miraculous day at a time. I want to make the most of every moment, and every hour.
I think this season will leave me changed forever…..and that’s not a bad thing. I think I will be more dependent on my Father, more compassionate of the hurting, and more forgiving of the lost.
I’m walking forward and not looking back.
I’m here Lord. I’m waiting, and I’m thankful.