Thursday, January 27, 2011

One Year: Celebrating Josiah

Today marks one year since Curt and I met, held, and had to give our youngest child back to the Lord. Happy 1st Birthday to our Josiah!

Recently I was asked if I ever think of Josiah in Heaven...if I envision him growing and developing while there, or do I think he stays a newborn baby. Interesting. I have never given thought to that, and I don't think there's a clear answer. But regardless of what he might be like, I know he's healed, healthy, and having the most awesome birthday party today.

I sit back now, though, and just wonder how the heck a year - an entire 365 days - seemed to fly by right before my eyes. The past year has been full of tears, conversations, get-aways, birthdays, anniversaries, projects, get-togethers, holidays...but this day one year ago is still so vivid and clear to me, just as if it were yesterday. (And if you know me well and know my inability to remember things from my childhood or from even just last week, that's saying a lot.) I hope and pray that January 27, 2010 remains a clear memory!

This past year has also had lots of questions for God, as well as growth. The first few months after Josiah's birth and death were full of tears, anxiety, anger, faith issues...all that, I believe, are a normal part of this whole grief process that we all, at some point, will experience. Even though I feel like I haven't given the proper amount of time to self-reflection, I still have learned a lot about myself, how I cope, how I handle stress. Some of it is preeety ugly, and God has shown me ways in which I need to change, both outward and inward. It's His way of molding and shaping, right?

I have also learned a whole lot about how God wants us to love Him and to love others. (Note: I think it no coincidence that our church small group started reading and studying the book "Crazy Love" [by Francis Chan] the same month that Josiah died.) Since last January, we have been cared for by SO many people: church friends and others in our church who we didn't know very well, our families (both immediate and extended), our wonderful small group (they are practically family to us), neighbors who hadn't known us very long, friends from childhood and friends from college, even strangers. Meals, cards, phone calls, thoughts and prayers...the ways that people showed their love and support is innumerable. It has truly been amazing to see the love that has been poured out to us, and "thank you" was and is never enough to show our gratitude!

THIS is exactly what we are called to do: to care for and love on others, no matter who they are, no matter where they live, no matter what they do or have done, no matter how much you do or do not know them. I'm trying so hard to cultivate and grow this desire in me to love as Jesus did in all areas of my life, as hard as it seems. I've learned many things over the past year through Josiah's life and death, (as my friend Kara put it, probably more than I would have learned through his life!), and if God just wants to use me to 1) share Josiah's story and bring encouragement, and 2) care for the hurting around me, then so be it. Oh, these life lessons!

I still think about Josiah multiple times each day and miss him a whole heck of a lot. It's hard not to think about what he would be doing if he were here. Walking or still learning how? Saying things? Getting wrestled and pounced on by his big brother? Getting shoved into a princess dress-up dress by his big sister? Having his food stolen by the dog? Probably. We.miss.him.terribly. Can't ever say that enough. Today we are shedding tears, holding close his memory, celebrating his first awesome year in Heaven, and continuing to learn and grow through the heartache.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Monthly Game Review - Hasbro's Ratuki

From day one, my husband and I loved to play board games. I don't know if it's the competition or just the time spent together, but even now I get excited when we plan to play a board game after the kiddos are in bed. Our favorites over the years included Ticket to Ride, Settlers of Catan, Blokus...

And as the kids arrived we have tried to instill the love of game-playing in them. Lately we enjoy Memory (one of my favorites as a child!) and Operation (but with missing pieces...I'm preeetty sure our youngest ate them) with our five year old, and The Fishing Game with our two year old. Oh, the joy of kicking back, letting the To-Do list go, and just playing!

The Hasbro company encourages just that with their Family Game Nights - time set aside for you and your family to play together, learn, laugh, and love.

The wonderful people at Hasbro sent me one of their newest card games to review - Ratuki - which also happens to be the game of the month for January. Here is a little description sent by Hasbro:

"With Ratuki, families will enjoy card-slamming fun as they race to complete runs of five with numbered cards represented by Roman numerals, numbers and dice. Players will feel a rush of excitement as they try to be the first to slam down their cards and collect the most cards in the group."

We have yet to play this game with a group, but Hubby and I have played Ratuki numerous times in the past month and continue to love it! It's very easy to learn, doesn't have a lot of rules, and is a fast-paced game (one that I tend to win...but don't let Hubby know that I told you). ;o) Check it out for yourself by clicking here!

While you're at it, plan your own Family Game Night during these cold winter months. I think it helps bring the warmer weather back much quicker! ;o)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Dining Room Makeover

I promised this was coming, and here it is...finally!

For about a year, we have been stuck in the "talking phase" of a dining room/living room wall makeover. You know that's all "talk" and no action. While deep down I do love organization and know the benefits of mulling things over before just jumping in, on the surface I get severely annoyed by "all talk and no action". If we are talking about it and have somewhat of a game plan in our heads, then let's just do the project and get it over quick as possible! :o) It's probably not the best mentality to have.


We talked...we drew on the wall to get ideas...we consulted with good friends on how much/where/arch or no arch/window or no window. And finally, one night in October, Hubby walked out to his work truck, grabbed a tool, calmly entered the dining room...and attacked the wall. Of course, I jumped out of my seat, stopped the insanity, insisted on some sort of dust management, and then let Hubby go on his merry way of destruction.

Here is our dining room before...

...and the living room wall before (they are back-to-back)...

Dining room side of the wall down...

And we are through!

Of course, we had some child labor during the destruction and clean up process. ;o)

Studded out and ready for drywall...

...And drywalled! We decided to drywall the entire dining room instead of battling with wallpaper removal. We had enough of that "fun" when we did the living room and didn't want to deal with that process again.

And here she is, walls painted, flooring in, cleaned up...

The view from the living room...

In the corner of the dining room we had a cabinet that we painted green several years ago. I wanted it cream this time, so here's her transformation:

of this would have happened if I didn't have a Hubby that knew what he was doing...and if we didn't have a terrific neighbor who knows how to drywall rounded corners! :o)

So, there you have it! I'm done with big projects for now, but I'm sure some little ones will come along in the near future, so keep watching! ;o)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Once upon a time in a faraway land... old friend named Amanda gave a certain little girl named Danae a bee-utiful doll named Cinderella. Straight from Disney World, the Holy Land of princesses.

Cinderella spent many a night being snuggled by Danae, many a day being carried by Danae, and many a car trip tucked next to Danae.

Until one day not long ago, Danae (later claiming it was an attempt to scare her mama) threw Cinderella to the top of a tall torchiere lamp...while the lamp was on and standing next to her family's almost dead and dry Christmas tree.

Danae's Mama, not knowing what was going on, smelled a plastic burning type of smell and assumed it was coming from the Christmas tree or something the lovely children put in the outlets. I This woman ran from one end of the room to the other, trying to figure out where the ever-growing smell was coming from and questioning the children at the same time...who kept replying with "I don't know."

Finally, after a few minutes, Danae stated, "I didn't do anything Mama! Cinderella's just sitting in the lamp."

Danae's Mama didn't even think to look up. But upon hearing this statement, she quickly grabbed the lamp, yanked out good 'ol Cindy, opened the front door, and stuck the tall lamp out in the cold. Many a car must have driven by on this family's busy road and wondered what a smoking lamp was doing on the front porch, but Danae's Mama didn't have time to think of such things until days later.

Poor Danae's Mama! All that day she was sick just thinking about this event. What if even a few more minutes went by before she realized something was wrong? What if the Christmas tree had caught on fire? That day was filled with hugs, lectures, and "What if..." thoughts.

And Poor Cinderella...she never saw it coming.