Faith

Journey to Gratitude: Day 9

One year ago, I said “goodbye” to my mother for the last time. Sometime around 9pm, she finally let go and slipped away into heaven, where she was greeted by my baby girl, Bristol, as well as my Aunt Lynne, my dad, and others who had passed before her. This day is especially bittersweet, because it is also the eve of Bella’s second birthday. So exactly a year before my mom passed, I was preparing to give birth to my baby girls at just 28 weeks into pregnancy. This date is a tough one, as it is now marked with two major events.

So what on earth could I be grateful for on a day like today. Well, as I sat at home today with my head swarming with memories, a beautiful bouquet of flowers showed up at my door. I opened the card to find a sweet message from my work family. So today, I am thankful for such a wonderful job and an awesome, caring team. What a sweet gesture on such an otherwise sad day! It reminded me that I am not alone, and that I have folks who not only care about me, but remembered that this was a special day. I am blessed to be a part of Chick-fil-A Bristol!

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Journey to Gratitude: Day 8

I woke up at 5:45am today with a migraine so bad that I couldn’t go back to sleep. I decided to go ahead and get up, only to see the temp on our outdoor thermometer sitting at 7 degrees. It’s hard to be thankful on a morning like that.

It is days like today that challenge you to find gratitude where you typically take for granted. So today I am thankful for my house and the luxury of heat! So many struggle this time of year to have shelter or pay the power bill. We are very fortunate that we don’t have to struggle for either. My heart goes out to those less fortunate on these frigid winter days (and nights). May I never have to know what that struggle is like.

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Journey to Gratitude: Day 7

Today’s gratitude post might also serve as a “you’re welcome” post.

Today, I am EVER so grateful for this time-saving tip from a friend of mine: use your electric mixer to shred your chicken.

Whaaaaat?! Where has this tip been for the past 10 years?! Though I love eating chicken casserole and chicken enchiladas, I always dreaded cutting and shredding the chicken by hand. Then a girlfriend shared this tip about the mixer during a girls’ weekend about a month ago, and MAN! This is my time-saving tip of the YEAR! In less than 60 seconds, I had shredded chicken ready to go for my casserole. That task used to take me 20 minutes (or more). AH-MAZING!

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Journey to Gratitude: Day 6

Today – for whatever reasons – I’m feeling a little “extra” grateful & appreciative, so I have TWO things for today!

ONE, I am thankful for the sun, who has made very few and very brief appearances in the past month or so. For someone like myself who struggles with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), the sun is a very welcomed sight among the frigid temps and cloudy days of winter.

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TWO, I am thankful for the opportunity to write. I love writing, and have since I was able to string sentences together in about second or third grade. It has always been very therapeutic for me, and I have missed it in the past year that I took a break to focus on work and life in general. Beginning with these daily gratitude posts and now continuing back into business advice with a post today, I am reminded of what a joy it can be. Additionally, I am reminded of the gift that I possess. I don’t say that to be boastful or prideful, but rather an acknowledgement that I have a gift to share with others. I am often reminded of my gift when I do it regularly enough for folks to see it, and I am blessed with feedback of how my writing helped someone. Maybe it was the dose of humor they needed for the day, or maybe I touched their heart in a way that made them feel as though they were not alone in whatever struggle they were enduring. We should all be sharing our unique gifts and talents with others, for why else would the Lord grant us with these gifts? So when I am not writing, I am withholding that gift and not letting it shine. Perhaps one day I will even get back around to completing my book about out little Bristol. 🙂

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Journey to Gratitude: Day 5

As the holiday season has been boxed up once again and “life” begins to return to normal, I am thankful today for a regular schedule. Of course, the given with that then is appreciation for each of us having jobs to go to for steady, solid income, and Bella having a good daycare to go to so that we can both hold jobs. It also means we can return to a healthier menu within our home, and hopefully get active again, so that we can hopefully shed at least some of this extra weight we’ve been carrying around.

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Journey to Gratitude: Day 3

Today I am thankful for date nights.

Blaine and I rarely schedule date nights for ourselves – usually because our schedules are so crazy and we can’t justify spending money “just because”. So when we actually take a date night, it’s a pretty big deal and makes them even more special.

Tonight’s date night was even a surprise, which made it even more magical. Blaine knew that I might have a little trouble with this day, as a year ago on this day my mom had her tragic fall. So he arranged for our sitter to come spend time with Bella so that he and I could go have fun. What a guy! I can only hope that Bella one day finds a partner as good as her dad!

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Journey to Gratitude: Day 2

Today, I am thankful for….leftovers! While I do enjoy cooking to an extent, I do not enjoy doing it daily. Plus, I’m the type of person who feels that, if I’m going to put that much effort into something, I want to be able to enjoy it for a while. So when I cook, I make double or triple batches of things so that we can eat on it for at least two dinners, with possibly enough leftover after that for a lunch or two.

So tonight, I enjoy being able to spend more time with my family because all I have to do is reheat leftovers for dinner. 🙂

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On the menu tonight, homemade beef enchiladas with black beans and corn.

Journey to Gratitude: Day 1

Not much in my life has been easy. In fact, my journey has been so difficult that I thought I had really seen it all and that nothing could knock me down again, because what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Then Dec 2012 happened; I got pre-eclampsia at 25 weeks with my twin girls, and ended up delivering them 3 weeks later. But the knocks kept coming: 9 weeks of a roller coaster I n NICU, loss of Bristol, Blaine’s stepmom was diagnosed with lung cancer, my mom had a tragic fall and subsequently passed, and then Blaine’s stepmom lost her battle with the lung cancer.

My spirit is beaten and bruised, and my soul is beyond sad.

In an effort to heal and move onward again, I have decided to challenge myself to a Journey to Gratitude: 365 Days of Gratitude. When you are faced with so much grief and sorrow, it is easy to get swept up in a downward spiral of negativity. Meanwhile, life is passing you by and you are missing the gems that life has to offer. This journey is my attempt to pull myself out of the sorrow and take note of the good things around me.

Today on Day One, I am ever-so-thankful for my little family. They are my everything. When you have no parents or grandparents left, you cling to those who are still left. I am so blessed to have a supportive husband and partner (who is also an amazing father), a beautiful and smart child who has already beat so many odds in her two short years on earth, and two of the best lap dogs anyone could ask for.

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Not only am I challenging myself to post at least one thing I am thankful for on a daily basis for a year, but I am challenging myself to not post the same thing twice – which will force me to find things that I might not otherwise notice. Here’s to my 2015 Journey to Gratitude!

A Mother’s Memory

To meet me now, you would never know that I have just been through one of the toughest years of my life.  I have a beautiful, healthy 8-month-old daughter, an amazing husband and life partner, a nice house, a great dog, and – as of last week – a great job.  No, to meet me now, you would think I have the perfect life.  And I do…..now.  But just six months ago today, we had to say goodbye to our baby girl.

I may never know why we had to go through all that we did.  Why are there so many babies born to families that don’t want them?  Why are healthy babies born to ladies who smoke or drink – or worse?  Why did my body reject my precious babies when I did everything right?  I don’t know.  I may never know.  But I am thankful that we got to have 9 weeks with our precious baby – enough time to make memories to last a lifetime.  In fact, when choosing the words for her headstone, we wanted to capture that sentiment.  After reading countless phrases, we finally found the perfect one:

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Bristol touched so many people in her short time.  Her story is one that will be remembered and told for years to come.  She was so tough and so brave.  I have no doubt that she would have been sassy and spunky just like her sister.  The Lord surely got “the best” when He called her back home.  This poem gave us great comfort when we were grieving:

God saw you getting tired and a cure was not to be,
So He put His arms around you and whispered, “Come to me”.
With tearful eyes we watched you and saw you pass away,
And although we love you dearly we could not make you stay.
A golden heart stopped beating, hardworking hands at rest,
God broke our hearts to prove to us He only takes the best.
—-Unknown

The other poem that spoke to us during that time:

When God calls little children to dwell with Him above,
We mortals sometimes question the wisdom of His love.
For no heartache compares with the death of one small child,
Who does so much to make our world seem wonderful and mild.
Perhaps God tires of calling the aged to His fold,
So He picks a rosebud before it can grow old.
God knows how much we need them and so He takes but a few,
To make the land of Heaven more beautiful to view.
Believing this is difficult, still somehow we must try.
The saddest word mankind knows will always be “Goodbye”.
So when a child departs, we who are left behind,
Must realize God loves children.
Angels are hard to find.
—-Unknown

Finally, for those unable to make Bristol’s memorial service, I wanted to share the letter I wrote for her:

letter to Bristol

We are so very lucky to have such an amazing angel watching over us!  We miss you, baby girl!