Saturday, December 24, 2011

Sing and Rejoice!

Sing and rejoice. A Child is born!

Last year, we had a very, very white Christmas.  This year.....brown.  It really does not matter.  Our family is together, we are healthy and well, we have food on the table, cars to drive, a good job, beautiful children and grandchildren.....and Jesus was born JUST FOR ME!!!  Wishing all of you the most wonderful Christmas and blessings in the new year!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Life in Vivid Color

 I found a wonderful visual picture of what my brain is doing-----somewhat looks like exploding in vivid color!!!

I want to paint on leaves......

 I want to spend time and enjoy my grandbabies!

I really want to stop and smell the flowers.

 I want to make this....oh, wait!! I did!

 I also made this "pear" book!!!!

 I want to make pictures out of tiny pictures!
 I want to paint on stones!

 I want to paint on old book pages!

 I want to make these keychains!
 I want to make a book like this!

I want to make a bowl like this-I tried but my fingers got tired!
I want to take pictures of everything.  I want to enjoy my daughter's senior year and hold on to each memory of her at home.  I want to scrapbook.  I want to exercise.  I want to do things for others.  I want to sing in the choir and sing in a musical.  I want to do a good job of teaching.  I want all the students to behave.  I want to be on time.  I want to give.  I want to help.  
I want to........the list never stops!
I really, really want to get my life organized, but as soon as I begin, I get distracted by all the color and the creation and stuff! I begin the day with a list, but sometimes the list gets longer as the day that how it is supposed to go?  Other days, I simply lose my list in my piles!  
I guess I really just want to accept this, and I want others to read my sign and realize....
"I'm not messy, I'm creative"!
 I want more than anything to enjoy the Christmas season and remember the reason for it.  I was able to play Mary in a skit and it was wonderful!  What a joy!

At this busy time of year, I need to remember, "I can not do everything, but I can do something"!
Take it one day at a time, do what you can do and remember~The REASON FOR THE SEASON!  Amazing!!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Happy Birthday Mom

As I was driving to school today, I heard it... THE song!! It was played as hundreds of friends, neighbors and family members stood in honor of our little bitty mama. She was tiny, but she held so much of the world in her hands. She was always there for me. She always loved me. She always supported me. She always lifted me up. "I Can Only Imagine" fills my car as images of that day surround me, well up inside me. All of these people standing in honor of one little lady who carried so much weight on her shoulders. 9 children at 30 years of age, without the support of her parents, without much money or food or supplies or time....but, oh, the love!!! It was her final celebration, our time to say not "goodbye", but "see you later", and we said it with words and songs and remembrances and honor.

Today would mark her birthday. I have been thinking "Happy Birthday Mom" all day. I have been telling my students about her. I have been remembering her. I have been honoring her. I have been wondering if birthdays are marked or remembered or celebrated in heaven. She had her 73rd birthday with us here. She was born in 1931, so today, she would have been 80. Today, we honor and celebrate her. There have been days I did not believe I could go on without her. There have been days I did not know how to trudge through this life without her love and her support, but here I am, still trudging, and now I am able to say, yes, I wish she were here, but how fortunate we were to have her as our mom and to have her for as long as we did. Cancer is so unfair. It takes the good ones. It takes the healthy ones. It takes the loved ones. It takes the needed ones.

Pastor Don had a message just for ME on Sunday. He talked about reading through his Dad's bible and his Mom's bible and reading the notes they left in the margins. He wondered if his Dad and his Mom knew that someday, their children would read these words and KNOW that they are true. After all, if his Dad and his Mom said it, it HAS to be true. He likened that to the words written in the Bible itself. If those words were written by our heavenly father....and we know that to be true, after all, if our heavenly father said it, it HAS to be true!

Our parents leave so much behind with their words and their actions, and they live on forever with us on this earth. I find snippets of information and words and things from my parents and I hold on to each of them. I have scrapbooked just about everything I can get my hands on. I believe it is my way of holding on to them....of keeping them close.

Today, parents, love your children, teach them, tell them things, keep them close. One day, they will call upon these words and these memories to keep you close forever!

Giving thanks for a wonderful mother and the promise of her eternal home in Glory. Psalm 16:9–11~ Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence,with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Celebrating mama today. "I Can Only Imagine" what you are experiencing today! Save a place for me! Thank you for your words, your teaching, your love and your life. I love you forever!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Happy Birthday Ninja Boys

I am not quite sure exactly what a Ninja is, but my grandsons sure were cute in their Halloween costumes.  I spent quite a few hours in class this weekend, trying to learn a few things about Photoshop.  Saturday happened to be the boys' birthday, and I was in class so, naturally, my subject matter was them!!  I was able to crop out the tractor and the field and "place them" in a more Ninja like setting.   I had a great deal of fun in the process and I love the results.  The boys and their little sister Braylyn were overnight guests at Grandma's house Saturday night, and we had a wonderful time celebrating their lives!  I am so blessed to have them so near and to have them such an amazing part of my life! Amazing!!!


Sunday, October 16, 2011

In Love with a Boy

Giving thanks and choosing joy is quite easy when everything goes exactly as planned.

Baby boy Childress was prayed for and planned for and due on October 8.

Bentley David Childress was born exactly on October 8!

His mama was so tiny, it was hard to imagine a full size baby could be hiding in there, but he was born, all 6 lbs. 15 oz. of him and he is perfect!

Giving thanks for our 4th grandchild.

Thank you Tyler and Christi for giving him the gift of life and for giving him for me to love!

You know I do love my grandbabies!

Bentley spent most of his first day here "praying"!


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sufficient Grace

Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. – Psalm 126: 2-5

How does one cope with the loss of not one child, but THREE?...Sufficient Grace

How does one wait and prepare for identical twin girls, only to have to say goodbye before she properly said hello?...Sufficient Grace

How does one prepare for a son, deemed "incompatable with life", carry him for the next four months, praying fervently for a miracle, to be able to spend only 6 hours with him? God did not work the kind of miracle that she had asked for, but she was able to see other miracles in that day. He was born. He was beautiful. He was perfect, and then Kelly, with her sufficient grace, was able to praise God for their time together and she called herself "blessed among women that day, blessed among Mothers" as she was chosen to sing to this beautiful baby as he left her arms and went into the arms of Jesus. Sufficient Grace. Amazing!!!

My friend Kelly, she has "Sufficient Grace". The following exerpt is taken from HER blog at .

"In the autumn the leaves change colors. Often though it is so gradual, so subtle that we don’t realize it fully until one day the trees are orange, yellow, red and brown instead of green. In the same way as winter approaches, the leaves fall from the trees. One day, we notice that the leaves are gone. We know they must have been falling for some time, but it was so subtle and gradual that we hardly noticed until one day when they were all gone and the land was stark and bare. When spring comes, everything brings forth new life. What once was dead is alive again. And one day it happens. You wake up and the leaves have returned once more- green and shiny and new. You can’t point to a time when they began to bloom, exactly. You may have seen a bud or two. But it seems that it is sudden. Suddenly, the leaves have returned.

In reality it was happening all the time, subtle, gradual, unseen, changing and restoring life. That is the best illustration I have heard of the way the Holy Spirit works in us to heal and restore. How subtly God works in us to change and heal us until one day what once was, is no more. One day, we were no longer struggling. We have overcome what once held us captive, be it bitterness, pain, grief, or sin. God had been healing us all along, working while we struggled.

Where once there was sin, now there is forgiveness.

Where sorrow once lived, now joy dwells.

Where once there was death, now there is life.

Once the trees were barren. Now they spring forth green leaves and beautiful, life-giving fruit.

I don’t know exactly when or how He took the tattered ashes of our broken hearts and made them into something beautiful, but one day the pain was gone. (We still have tender moments when our memories take us back, and we may shed some tears. We will never forget!) In reality, though, it wasn’t one day. It had been happening all along. God had been using every tear, every moment of brokenness to make beauty from ashes, to turn our shame into a crown of glory, to heal our pain and restore us- turning even our deepest sorrow into our most exuberant joy.

We share our story with you because of the scripture in 2 Corinthians 1: 3 & 4 – Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received.

We feel blessed that we have been comforted through our loss by a loving God, and we would like to offer that same comfort to you. That is how our ministry began. My friend,Tracy lost her baby, Kelly on March 12, 2003. While searching for a memory book for her, I discovered that there were no memory books that allowed the mom to adequately honor the life of a precious baby…something lasting and beautiful that said a loved and wanted child was here. That’s how the Dreams of You Memory Book was born. Parts of the above story are written in the Dreams of You Book as well as places for grieving parents to journal there own journey of loss, hope and healing, record the dreams they had for baby, footprints, handprints, other memories and details of babies life, write letters to baby…in addition, the book is filled with inspirational poems and scripture reminding us of the hope of heaven.

We began Sufficient Grace Ministries – the legacy of Faith, Grace, Thomas and Tracy’s little Kelly – in 2004. Today, hundreds of lives have been touched because of the brief little lives of our little ones. They were here…they mattered…and God used them to fulfill a beautiful purpose…to offer comfort and hope to those whose hearts are broken."

For all the precious children whose footprints are forever ingrained in our hearts – We still dream our dreams of you… until we meet again.

My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in your weakness. – 2 Corinthians 12:9

Kelly's mom, Kathy Rutter began making these "comfort bears" in 2005 to provide something to hold to ease the ache of empty arms. My mama sewed too, you know. She created each one by hand with a "grandmother's love and prayers"..... I am a grandma too, you know.

Kelly's mom went home in heaven in October 2006 after a valiant battle with cancer. My mama went home to heaven after a valiant battle with cancer too, you know.

I fell in love with this beautiful bow and the heart on his chest that says "Comfort Bear" and bears the Sufficient Grace logo of one tiny footprint.

I wrote to Kelly. I told her about Cassie and about Tryston John. Cassie had to say goodbye to her son before she could properly say hello. A large box arrived at my home recently....I opened it and there......inside......was a Comfort Bear, a "Dreams of You" journal, a book, "I'll Hold You in Heaven". I gasped, I cried, I laughed, I celebrated! Kelly and her Sufficient Grace is REAL! She is not some strange blogster from Ohio who only talks a good talk, she Walks the Walk!!! She cares about a little mama in Rock Valley, Ia, and she cares about me!

Cassie can read, remember, journal, share, cry, and hold her Comfort Bear until the ache becomes a bit less. Tryston WAS, and he MATTERED. Sufficient Grace Ministries – the legacy of Faith, Grace, Thomas and little Kelly ...."They were here…they mattered…and God used them to fulfill a beautiful purpose…to offer comfort and hope to those whose hearts are broken."

I love you Kelly. I love what you do and for all the mamas out there that you help. You are leaving such a legacy of love and strength and support. Thanking God for his "sufficient grace"!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Laughing AT MYSELF!

Today is the day.....I am so excited. I have been going through the process for 9 months. In all actuality, it began 35 years ago with an abcessed front tooth, a root canal, an ill fitting crown which did not match as well as it could have, and I knocked into it every time I bit into something. 25 years ago, that very tooth was knocked out when I was accidentally hit in the mouth. 25 years of bridges worked quite well, but have taken their fair share of abuse. When the bridges no longer worked, I chose dental implants.

I had two more front teeth removed for Christmas last year. The song, "All I want for Christmas is my 2 front teeth" took on a whole new meaning for me last year! Since then, I have been pulled, cut, sewn, iced, medicated, scanned, drilled, grafted, implanted, prepped, AND shot MANY TIMES. I now own several titanium rods, AND have even had my papilla lasered!!! Who knew????

At the beginning, I hid my mouth, I tried not to smile so much, and had a hard time eating in front of anyone. As I got more used to this whole process, I began to not only laugh WITH myself, but to laugh AT myself. I believe all of my students have seen my videos, and they have been passed around to some of the teachers as well. My next plan to to post it on YouTube so my students from last year can have a laugh on me as a break from their college studies. I thought I may as well embrace it and enjoy the journey!!! Some of my senior art students thought it would be very funny if I would go into a store, without my teeth and ask an employee, "Could you tell me where the cereal isle is?" The S sound evidently was quite hysterical!!! I learned to make movies on Photo Booth and had a great time making fun of my situation. I have seen the videos over and over and over and can still laugh when I see them! Tara, thank you for always making me laugh! Love you! I will let you know when I have them posted to You Tube! You will most likely NOT want to miss seeing it!

Today I had 5 new shiny porcelain front teeth forever seated in place. I can no longer take out my teeth and cause uproarious laughter to come from all corners of my classroom. I have never been so excited to pick, to floss, to brush, to thanks for my team today, all the doctors, nurses, AND all of my cheerleaders. For those of you who know me and see me often...can you imagine me now....talking more, laughing more, and singing more? Amazing!!!

In all things, give thanks! Who knew that included TEETH?
Thank you Dr. Lewison and Dr. Schulte for giving me back my smile!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Happy Birthday Tyler

 In 1986, we welcomed Tyler David to our family.  Mom continued to be outnumbered... Boys, boys boys....but each one added great joy !

Happy Birthday to our second born, Tyler.  You are so full of life and ideas and enthusiasm! I hope your day is filled with wonder and joy and that your year ahead offers even more happiness.
You will soon understand the love of a parent as you welcome your own son into the world.

 Brandon first, Marissa nestled safely in the center, and Tyler on the outside.....Looking at the picture below, I would guess that things never change. 

  The love of family...God's Greatest Gift!

I am giving thanks for YOU today Tyler, and for our family. I have been so blessed!  Love you Forever!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I Will Carry You

Honored and humbled. I had the opportunity to photograph a beautiful baby boy.

I have these gifts I have been told....I can make, I can draw, I can paint, I can create, I can sing, I can take pictures...but this is a first for me. Something or someone told me, "take your camera along. (I did) You might need it. (I did) You might have the opportunity to use it tonight." (I did)

I asked as gently as I could if that would be something I could do to help this grieving family. They said, "oh, yes, please do", so I did. Honored....Humbled.....

But this photo session was unlike any other in my life ....

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the Kingdom of Heaven." ~Matthew 19:14

A stuffed animal here and there, a soft blue blanket, a blue toy, a gift from Grandma for her little grandbaby boy. I am a Grandma too, you know...

Tryston John, so very beautiful and so very loved... It was written on his little folder: "Even though Tryston was so little, he touched so many lives, with his dashing good looks (thanks to dad), the unconditional love he has from his bigger sisters, and from the kicks, punches, hugs, kisses, and the last raspberry blown on mommy's belly.

Triston, in the short time God blessed you to us, mommy and daddy will cherish those moments for the rest of our lives, until the good Lord brings us to you. Even though your sisters were already picking on you, they loved you from the first time they felt you kick. We love you forever..."

"I Will Carry You" ~Selah

There were photographs i wanted to take
Things i wanted to show you
Sing sweet lullabies wipe your teary eyes
Who could love you like this? People say that i am brave but i`m not
Truth is i`m barely hanging on
But there`s a greater story
Written long before me
Because he loves you like this

So i will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All my life
And i will praise the one who`s chosen me
To carry you

Such a short time
Such a long road
All this madness
But i know
That the silence
Has brought me to his voice
And he says

I`ve shown her photographs of time beginning
Walked her through the parted seas
Angel lullabies no more teary eyes
Who could love her like this?

I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All your life
And i will praise the one who`s chosen me
To carry you

No one knows why things like this happen.
No one can guess.
No one can understand.
We can only trust.
We can only wait until that day, our glorious day, when all the pain, all the tears, all the cries will be a thing of the past, and time will be no more.

Tryston John, loved so very, very much but too beautiful for this earth.

Pray with me for Cassie and Lance and Ady and Carsyn and Marissa and Grandma Lisa and all the other friends and relatives who had to say goodbye to this perfectly beautiful little boy far too soon.

Tryston will not walk side by side with his family.

Tryston will not walk hand in hand with his sisters and his parents.

But forever, for always, Tryston will be forever in their hearts.