This blog is simply the story about my little life
with my sweet family that the Lord has blessed me with
and the day in, day out things that we do.
It basically is my online diary/photo album of our life.
I'm glad you're here!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

The last thing I remember it was Thanksgiving....

The last thing I remember, it was Thanksgiving. I can't believe that it's the end of April now. So much has happened since Thanksgiving, but it's almost like time stood still in my mind and we are still back at the end of November.
I feel like I've been through a whirlwind. Life was good and going along at a busy, yet predictable pace. We had a simple yet lovely Thanksgiving with my parents at their assisted living facility. I'm so thankful that we had this gathering. I'm so thankful to have memories of eating, talking and laughing with them, as it was the last happy family gathering I would have with my parents. We hugged and kissed and said our good-byes. 
That weekend I decorated the whole house for Christmas except for the tree. 
I'm so thankful that I got it all done and even packed away all of the storage boxes. 
I went to work that Monday, November 28th and received a call that my Mamma was very, very ill and expected to die. Time seemed to have stopped at that moment.
My beautiful mamma died Saturday, December 3, 2016 (click here to read the story).

Sometimes when life throws a curve ball (or two) I feel like I can't handle it, but I don't even know why I allow myself to think like that because the hard truth is, there is no choice about it. We all have to go through difficult times. I am writing this post to encourage others with life's difficulties and also to remind myself that, no I can't handle it on my own, but God can! God gave me strength. He held me up. His Word comforted me. He surrounded me with amazing people to help hold me up in prayer as well as support me in other ways. I am truly thankful and never want to forget God's blessings.

These are some of the things that happened since that somber day.
My mother passed away on a Saturday afternoon. I was with my father and siblings and returned home that evening about 7:00pm. My husband ordered pizza for dinner and he was so delicate, loving, supportive and kind to me. The next morning I did not feel up to going to church, but Eric and I read the Bible and prayed together.

I was so worried about my Daddy. I had to see him, so my husband and I drove out to see Daddy to check on him. He was so very heartbroken. He just lost his other beautiful half. But the good news is that he was eating and the aids that work there told us he slept good. I'm so thankful for the sweet girls who work at his home, they love him and are almost like daughter's to him, so while it was very difficult to leave him, I knew he was in good hands. Also, the other residents have become family to him and there's always so much life and activity there.

After we left Daddy, we swung into a Christmas tree lot and bought our tree. I was so thankful that I had the house decorated before Mamma started to pass, it would have been so stressful if I hadn't even started or if I was right in the middle with boxes everywhere.
Weeks prior we had planned to have a big family dinner on Sunday night with a double birthday celebration for Grayson and Rachelle. The kids all contacted us wondering if I was still up for it and I decided that that's exactly what I needed, to have my loving family around me. I had all the groceries to make chicken and rice and the cake, so that morning, before we visited Daddy, I busied myself in the kitchen cooking and baking. This was a lovely evening, my kids are all so loving and supportive and seeing my precious grandson was just what the doctor ordered!

I am so thankful for the bereavement benefits my job offers, they gave me four paid days off. I didn't have to work the whole week, which was such a blessing. The next couple of days I pretty much just prayed, thought, cried and rested.
On Wednesday I watched Ridley and we stopped in to see my father. Ridley got him to smile, but he was definitely sad. I am so worried about my sweet Daddy.
When we got home Ridley helped me decorate the tree.
My niece, Victoria, got married the following Saturday, December 10th. They held the reception in their barn, so on Wednesday night I drove to my sister's house (Kathi) and spent the night and helped them decorate the barn. This was a very big job and it was so very cold (26 degrees) but it was so much fun too! We got lots done.  It was great therapy for Kathi and I to work side by side and talk so much about our dear mother as we helped prepare the festivities. On Saturday, Eric and I picked up Daddy and drove him up to the wedding. It was good for him to be there to see his granddaughter get married and see all the immediate and extended family. He had a nice time. My other sister, Kelli, and her husband took Daddy home after the reception.
The next morning Eric and I went to church where they had the Christmas pageant. It was darling. It was so good to be in church. So many people were kind and loving to me. I was feeling very down and kept weeping. On top of all of my sadness regarding my mother, I was also so, so very heartbroken over the loss of another relationship. It was almost too much for me to bear. My heart was very, very heavy.
I was feeling so sad that afternoon, pondering many thoughts about life and what does it all mean, but when I went out side to get some firewood, I saw this beautiful huge rainbow reminding me of God's promises. He is in control.
I went back to work on Tuesday and was greeted with such love by co-workers. I didn't concentrate that well, but I got my work done and the day flew by. I was really, really emotionally exhausted.
I was supposed to be watching Ridley the next morning, but a huge ice storm was coming in and all the schools in our area were canceled the next morning, so Brittany didn't have to work and would be staying home with Ridley. Right then, our youngest son, Hayden, called and said he unexpectedly had to get all four wisdom teeth pulled and the dentist squeezed him in Wednesday morning. He spent the night with us and Eric took him down to his appointment.
Meanwhile, I noticed that my beloved kitty, MacGyver, was acting very sick. I made him an appointment for the vet that afternoon and it was just the worst news I could get, he had feline leukemia and was dying. The only option was to put him to sleep. I just lost it. I started bawling. Why??? I've had so much loss and now my wonderful kitty. I kissed him and told him good-bye. My drive home without him was just the worst. My heart was truly broken.
When I got home, Hayden was asleep on the couch recovering from his oral surgery and our electricity was out. While the freezing rain was so beautiful, it caused havoc to our whole county. We lost power before I took the kitty to the vet and it never came back on. It was really scary because it was dark out and we kept hearing cracking of limbs and trees going down. We went out with a huge flashlight to look, but it was very dangerous with branches falling everywhere so we went in. We will see the damage in the morning.
Thankfully my husband bought a generator last fall and boy were we glad we had it. He had it going out on the back patio and hooked up an extension cord so we had a few lamps on and were able to make coffee and listen to the radio. We found out that thousands of people in our whole state lost power.
At dawn we went out to assess the damage and it looked like a war zone.
We were devastated by the loss of trees and limbs.
One of our trees out by our pond fell and landed in the middle of the road. My husband cut it into smaller chunks with his chainsaw and our neighbor helped him get it off the road.
We had so much damage to our property and lost 9 panels of fencing.
So on top of not having power, having all the damage to our property and living with subfreezing weather, I had concerns about my third son, Grayson. A few weeks prior he received a real blessing regarding his job. He applied for and received a promotion to the lineman program at the utility company. He started the new position on December 5th and now just a few days into his new job he was thrown into helping the crew with getting the city's power back on during one of the state's worst ice storms.

He worked 72 hours straight through the first three days of the storm. While he was not actually working directly on the power lines, he was doing very dangerous work with downed power lines and dangerous trees and limbs resting on power lines. I was so worried because he was so new at the job, but also that he was working non-stop and I was worried about him getting so fatigued. Not to mention he was working in terrible conditions with the freezing rain still coming down.
Meanwhile, Eric and I started cleaning up our property. There were branches everywhere, it was a huge mess.
Happier times at our Christmas party in 2013.
I was getting very anxious because we were planning to have a big Christmas party with all of our friends on Saturday the 17th. We had done this for about 10 years, but took the last two years off, so we were really looking forward to it and actually all of our friends were looking forward to it too.  I felt like it would really boost my mood to have our house filled with friends and laughter. But sadly, by Friday at 5:00 we still had no power and had to cancel the party. This along with everything else that had happened put me into a downward spiral of sadness, depression and yes, a little bit of self pity.
Every day was the same, wake up in hopes of the power being on, the realization it's not on, being freezing cold out and not feeling like doing one thing, but heading out and picking up limbs. I was getting down, but thankfully, God sent us some angels.
Our pastor, Brent, and his son, Caleb, came over and helped us for several hours cleaning up our property.
Then our friends, Kevin and Angie came over. Kevin helped Eric outside and she visited with me and cheered me up. She brought a big crock pot full of hot chili and all the fixings and we asked them to stay and eat dinner with us.
We found out that both Cameron and Megan and Grayson and Rachelle's property had lots of damage as well. We paid it forward and went to their homes and helped clean up their places.
Here's Eric and Cameron on Cameron's roof removing a branch that poked a hole in their roof. Praise the Lord it didn't go through into their bedroom!
Grayson was still working crazy hours and had no time at all to deal with the damage to their property. Thankfully though, by Saturday electrical crews from other counties came to help and Grayson's crew was able to go on 16 hour shifts from 6:00 am until 10:00 at night. I was still worried about him, but at least he was able to get home and sleep in his own bed. I thought the kids were wise and Rachelle would take him to work and pick him up at night to avoid him falling asleep at the wheel on the long drive home.

Anyway, Eric, Rachelle and I worked several hours and made a lot of progress cleaning up their place.
Rachelle was so sweet and invited us to stay for dinner. We still didn't have power, but Grayson and Rachelle did (they only live one mile from us, so it was kind of strange, but we were grateful!). It was so nice to be in a warm house with lights on! Eric watched the news and I did my fingernails.
I went to work on Monday and we still did not have power. I forgot to mention that because we don't have power, our well doesn't work, so we have no water.  I drove to Grayson and Rachelle's to take my shower and get ready for work. I was so thankful that I had a place to shower, but it was wearing on me. I was so tired of living like this with insulation in our sliding glass window and the power cords everywhere. It also makes me realize how spoiled we are with all of our modern conveniences of electricity and running water! I am also so thankful that we have the generator. We are truly blessed, but I'm just getting fatigued from all of it.
I was tidying the house and saw what I thought was a chunk of wood laying next to the stove. I grabbed it to throw it in the wood box and screamed in pain. It was actually a piece of a brick that had broken from inside the wood stove. My husband had just found it in the stove and pulled it out and laid it there minutes before. He said it was actually a glowing red when he took it out of the stove. He felt horrible that I grabbed it and I ended up getting 3rd degree burns on my fingertips.
Also, my tennis elbow had flared up to the point that I was almost in tears. On the pain scale, it was a 10. The pain was throbbing up into my shoulder. Since I went off sugar a year ago I have not had to have any steroid shots, but because I did all that heavy lifting with cleaning up the branches for several hours every day for several days in a row, I re-injured it something awful. I made an appointment to get another shot, but couldn't get in until the middle of January. I used ointments and braces and ibuprofen to get me through until then.
Meanwhile, Hayden sent me this picture and he said that his mouth is not healing right and his left cheek hurts terribly and is extremely swollen. I was so worried that he had an infection and it's so close to his brain. Oh my gosh, why is all this stuff happening? I don't know if I can take much more!

I was relieved that later that day when he called the dentist the dentist asked to see him and they got him on antibiotics.
Tuesday morning we woke up to still having no power. This makes 7 days with no electricity or water. I went to work and I was really getting down. I put a post on Facebook asking people to please pray and send me scriptures of encouragement. So many people sent me scriptures and words of encouragement. I felt their prayers! My heart was lifted. This scripture really ministered to me. Finally, that afternoon, I got the call that our power was back on!! Praise the Lord!!!
It was evening on December 20th, could we save Christmas? We had so much clean up to do and we still needed to do our Christmas shopping! I also needed to get my grocery shopping done too. I was thankful because I had a few days off and we got everything done. I even had time to make my mamma's wonderful fudge. This was really meaningful to me because Mamma made it every year and gave it to our teachers when we were little and later in life her and Daddy delivered it to their neighbors and the widows at church. I found this list of the baking she had planned to do one Christmas and it made me really sad. I know that this will be a difficult season as I mourn her.
Before all the craziness hit, I had taken everything off the walls in our powder room planning on redecorating it for the holidays. We were planning on having a big gathering on Christmas day with my Daddy, my sister and her family and our family and I wanted the powder room to look decent. I was happy that I had energy and time to do a little craft. It felt really good too to tap into my creative side, it's real therapy for me!
Eric and I went power shopping on December 23rd and got everything on our lists. We went out to dinner and had a fun nightcap when we got home.
Christmas eve day I enjoyed my tradition of wrapping gifts while watching a Christmas movie. That afternoon we went to Ridley's Christmas performance at church, which was ADORABLE! Later we had our traditional Christmas Eve dinner of french dip sandwiches with Hayden and Eric's dad.
Then we followed tradition of watching A Christmas Story and eating lemon cheesecake.
Christmas morning was quiet but special with my hubby and son. You can still see a little swelling in Hayden's face, but I am so thankful that he's so much better!
Later the family came over for a big feast. I was so happy that my Daddy was able to join us! I also was so happy that Grayson  was with us too; he was done working his crazy hours and God protected him during that time.
Christmas was over and we rang in the new year. I'm ready for a new start....
...but there's a few more difficult times waiting around the corner such as a snow storm and another huge loss.

For now though, I'm thankful for everything God brought us through. I'm thankful that He has comforted me through the loss of my beautiful mother. No matter what life brings, God is with me.

"Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; He will neither fail you nor abandon you." Deuteronomy 31:8

Monday, April 17, 2017

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust...

A week ago we said our final good-byes to our parents. My mother passed away in December and we held her memorial in January. My father died in February and we held his memorial last Sunday, April 9th at 2:00. That same morning at 11:00 my sisters and I and our families spread their ashes up at the location of an old mill town called Wendling where my father grew up (sadly the town no longer exists).
These first few photos are from a wonderful trip we had with them last September (2016). My husband and I and our children took my parents up to Wendling to have a picnic and let my father see the remains of his childhood home one more time. Here he is looking around at the trees and mountains that seem to just call to him.
My father loved being up there again and here he is looking into the old Mill Creek where he once played. I am so thankful that we did this because sadly within three months my mother passed away and two months later my father passed.
 Here's a picture of Daddy in the 1970s up near the old covered bridge at Wendling.

At the time of my mother's death we discussed spreading her ashes with my father. She was cremated and we asked him if he would like to go with us up to Wendling to spread her ashes or we could wait until he passed and we could spread their ashes together. He said he wanted to wait until they could be together. We promised Daddy that we would do this and it worked out so great to do it the morning of his memorial.

Wendling was such a very special place to my father and he visited up there many times over his life. He often took us kids when we were little and then when our children were little. This place was special to my mother as well as she came up here with my Daddy when they were dating to have dinner with his family once a week and then of course they came up here often times after they were married.
My son, Hayden, bought my father's old truck, and he carried their ashes up to Wendling. They had one more drive to the country in that old truck.....
...and drove through that old covered bridge one more time.
We weren't quite sure of the exact location to spread their ashes and finally decided on spreading them in the old Mill Creek. We originally had a box of ashes for each of them and I was thinking of all the things that could possibly go wrong as we were spreading them if we had two separate containers. I called the mortuary and asked if they could mix their ashes for us and I was so pleased that they said they could. This relieved a lot of worries for us.
 These waters are very special to our family.
 My brother-in-law, Ralph, read a poem and prayer.
My two sisters and I spread the ashes together. Our brother was unable to attend.
 We opened the box and set them free. Our husbands and children and even my grandson were there to witness the event and to show love and support.
 I picked these hyacinths from our yard and gave one to each person there.
 After we spread the ashes we each said a little something and threw the flowers in the water.
 Needless to say, it was very emotional.
 Even my precious grandson threw a flower. He loved his Great Grandpa Leonard and Great Grammie Shirley.
 It was very somber to see the flowers floating in the ash stained water.
 It was beautiful.
 After we all threw our flowers we sang Amazing Grace.
 It was a very special time. Very meaningful.
Mackenzie at the water's edge.
Grayson, Harrison and Hayden are looking down at the creek as Mackenzie is climbing up and carrying Ridley. Their grandparents meant a lot to them and now this place will become very meningful to them as well. After our little ceremony we all came back up to the truck and had a picnic.
God blessed us with such a pretty morning! Two days prior we had a huge wind/rain storm come through our area with 50 mile an hour winds! We are so thankful that it was not only pleasant, but the sun came out too!
 We set Daddy and Mamma's picture on the table.
 We brought yummy foods to eat, many are some of my Daddy's favorite things he brought to picnics like Vienna Sausages, Lorna Doone cookies, Ritz crackers, Cheez-It's and grapes.
 We also ate crispy bean burritos from Taco Time. Our parents ate there when they were dating, and as we were growing up we had Taco Time almost every single Saturday night. We all love crispy bean burritos, so I bought 21 of them the day before and my husband warmed them in the oven that morning.  He then wrapped them in foil and a towel and placed them in a cooler, which kept them hot! We had a toast to Daddy and Mommy with our burritos and took a selfie! I love our family!
My sisters and our husbands posed on the Mill Creek bridge with a photo of Mom and Dad.
 Now here's many of my parents grandchildren on the bridge. What a blessing!!!
 We had to wrap it up and head to the church. We had such a lovely family time.
 I feel like we gave our parents a wonderful send off.
They were married 60+ years and had a beautiful love story. They both accepted Christ and loved, served and trusted Him their whole lives, so we know that their spirits are in heaven and their bodies are just shells now, but it seems so fitting that their ashes are mixed together and their final resting place is in this very special place.
Their spirits are together forever in heaven and their earthly remains are together forever in the waters of  the old Mill Creek!

"Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it." Ecclesiastes 12:7
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