Friday, December 31, 2010

A Year to Remember

As most others make resolutions for 2011, and plan ways to "ring in the new year," I am not making resolutions, nor am I celebrating 2011.  Now don't get me wrong, I'm grateful to be alive and see another year, but I'm not ready to say a final goodbye to 2010.  Most would think that given this very difficult year, I would be ready to say a big SEE YA!  I'm not ready to say farewell.  This is the last year we had with Ethan.  He was with us the first five months of this year, and we've grieved losing him ever since.  I suppose in a sense, I'm just not ready to move on, and that's okay.  It's only been less than seven months since Ethan passing, and that's still (in my mind) just as if it happened yesterday.  I don't see or believe in any way that switching to a 2011 calendar is going to heal us overnight, or make it any easier.  I'm not a pessimist by nature, and I'm not trying to be pessimistic--but I'm being REALISTIC.  Our reality is that this grief journey is long.  But it's what's necessary, and God understands.  After all, He created us, and He knows us intimately.

I suppose rather than resolutions I have some wishes.  One huge wish is that more people would come to know Christ, and make Him front and center (numero uno) in their lives!  Another wish is that we would all take baby steps as a nation, to be less self-centered and more focused on others and their needs.  Myself included in this--we are such a privileged yet overly entertained, overly materialistic society.  I just wish we could each make some sacrifices to help out others who need a meal, some clothes, love, a home, etc. 

While I do wish you all the very best of blessings and a happy 2011, I urge you all to cling to God's word.  Without Him, I have no clue where my family and I would be in this difficult time.  Are you unsure where to begin?  If you've never read the Bible, it may be difficult to just jump right in and read.  I really encourage you to find a good, Bible-based church.  Perhaps join a Bible study group.  You can also shoot me an email or call...I'd love to chat about God (though I am by no means a theology major, nor do I have all or half the answers), and encourage you along the way.

In memory of Ethan, let us not forget Proverbs 3:5-6, and The Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12). 

Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.  Proverbs 3:5-6

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  Matthew 7:12

**When writing this post, I was thinking of the picture taken of Ethan holding the sign Josh made. :o)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Ethan, Merry Christmas!

Ethan, hug Jesus for us and have the best Christmas ever!  It's not the same without you, but deep down in our hearts we know that you are home...your real home.  Where all believers want to be, long to be, and will be one day when the Lord calls us (of course if we live for You).  Ethan, thank you for being such a true example to us.  A true testimony to what being a Christian is and should be.  Thank you Lord for giving Josh and I such a wonderful son, and Evan a loving brother.  This is a difficult time indeed.  Such a hard year, yet such a joyous year at the same time.  Prior to June 5th life was basically great.  Great memories were made, and shall remain stored forever in our hearts.  For that we are grateful, because there are so many that long to have children that never get that chance.  And yet some have children, but for only hours, then they have to say goodbye.  Thank you Jesus, that Ethan was ours here on earth for over seven years.  Thank you Jesus that you are now taking better care of him than we could ever imagine! 

My heart and thoughts are with those too who have lost a child, and are missing them this Christmas.  The loss of a child really does take a piece of your soul away, but it also can make us stronger and more compassionate people if we will listen to Him and follow His will for our lives.

Merry CHRISTmas!!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Son, You Keep Teaching Mommy

I'm am amazed how Ethan still teaches my family and I (and I'm sure many others who were touched by him) many valuable lessons.  I was sitting here, reviewing a sermon from a couple Sundays ago about: Are You A Practicing Christian?  I was re-reading over some scripture, and realizing that in my 32 years on this earth, I have a long way to go before I am "there."  Ethan WAS "there." 

Ethan had talked about how he couldn't wait to go to heaven.  He has been saying this for over a year before his passing.  I would look at him and think to myself, WHY?  Life is pretty dandy here on earth, and why be in such a rush?  But now I am starting to get it...slowly, but surely.

You see, in the scriptures it reads:  Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.  If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 1John 2:15-16 (KJV)

The wise advice given in 1John is so true.  When we get caught up in all the world offers in the way of materialistic things, and what the world says will make us happy, we have this void.  I've felt it, and I'm sure that many of you out there have too.  It's as though something vital is missing, and no amount of stuff you buy will make that void disappear.  How many of you have gone and bought some particular item that you were so excited to get, and then find yourself either not using it within days/weeks/months, OR you just lose interest in it?  That's because the things of this world will never fill that void.  Only He fills that void!

Here I've been loving this world and all of the materialistic things it offers, while my son who was so young just wanted to go home to heaven and be with his Heavenly Father!  Ethan truly knew what loving God was...I have a long way to go.

I pray that in the busyness of the holiday season, that we will all take time to reflect on what is most important.  It's not the presents, it's not parties, it's not any of that stuff that the world has dictated is important.  It's about loving one another, and thanking the Lord for the gift of Jesus Christ.  It's my hope that this Christmas, if you haven't accepted Christ into your heart and home, that you would consider it.  He has sustained us beyond what anyone could imagine, despite such terrible circumstances.  We would NOT be where we are today with out the hope and love of Christ.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A God Ordained Family Vacation

Approximately this time last year, we were in glorious snow-filled, heavily forested Montecito Sequoia, Kings Canyon National Forest, CA.  You see, being that we are pretty conservative with what we spend (we pretty much don't use credit cards for anything), we only took "vacations" back home for the holidays, or took a couple trips out to San Diego for a long weekend, but that was the extent.  No Disney World, Bahamas, Hawaii, etc.  Josh and I haven't even taken a trip anywhere alone, for crying out loud! LOL  But anyway, we were content with not ever going to any of those places.  We are more nature/outdoorsy type of people, and do not like crowds! 

Anyway, back on track to Sequoia!  One day in August of 2009 I was just pondering the prices of going to Sequoia, because Ethan had a major (and I do mean major) obsession with tress, but specifically Sequoias.  By the way, Evan has followed in his brother's footsteps, and has an obsession for trees too!  But back to Sequoias...they are the biggest tree in the world (not to be mistaken for the Giant Redwood, which is the tallest).  Since we homeschool, I thought that it would be a great opportunity to visit the Sequoias, and have a very fun fieldtrip and life experience!  I looked online and found an awesome deal for a mini family vacation to a resort called Montecito Sequoia.  Since I booked at a down time (early/mid-December is slow there), we got a cabin at the resort  for 5 days and 4 nights, with ALL meals and activities included...for about $500!  Yes, that's correct, ALL meals plus a room, and the meals were out of this world!  It was actually too much food!  We had the best family vacation ever, and what would be the last before Ethan passed away.  When I say God ordained, I mean that from the heart.  God knew that Ethan's time was nearing a close here on earth.  God knew that we needed that last family vacation.  He provided a way!  There's simply no way we would have been able to afford a vacation of that caliber had the resort rates not been so reasonable.  Oh, and the homeschooling...well that afforded us the time to actually go during an off peak time!  God orchestrated everything so beautifully!  And check this out...God provided record snow fall!  It was a ton of fun playing in mounds and mounds of snow, and watching it fall so beautifully from the heavens.  We had a quiet reprieve from technology too.  Our cells phones didn't work up there, there was no T.V., and the internet was down part of the time.

The boys had a blast!  Ethan, being the very cautious boy he was, surprised us by his sudden burst of bravery and rough and toughness!  He would take his sled and FLY down the large hill of snow!  He would do this over and over again!  And of course, Evan had a blast too doing what his big brother did.  :o)

We also visited a grove of Sequoias that were accessible in the winter months.  Among them was the General Grant.  AMAZING!  The Sequoia is also my favorite tree too.  So majestic, breathtaking...

This post is LONG overdue, as I meant to post about our vacation a long time ago.  But now is better than never, and I hope you all enjoy the pictures.  When I reflect back to Sequoia, it is a very good memory that I have of my family, and in particular of my Ethan.  When I think about those large Sequoias, I wonder how anyone could think there isn't a God who made all of these spectacular things.  Trust me, go see the Sequoias and you will be their massiveness and know what I mean about God making such wonderful things for us to enjoy.  And to think that Ethan is enjoying things up in heaven that are way more amazing than Sequoias! 

Merry CHRISTmas!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Trying to Count My Blessings

Today I've been really, really down.  Sad.  Hurting.  Missing Ethan.  Missing San Antonio.  Not wanting to be living where we presently live.  I've been pretty much negative all day. 
  1. Loving Heavenly Father that loves me no matter my flaws, past sins, etc.  The One who held me ever so close the day I lost Ethan, Who kept me strong so I could witness to unbelievers in the midst of my tragedy...the One who holds Ethan in His Glory...where I long to be as well.  Thank you sweet Heavenly Father for being so good to me, my family, my friends, and for taking good care of my Ethan!  Thank you for sending your son, Jesus, to make the ultimate sacrifice.
  2. Jesus dying on the cross so unselfishly.  Had it been me to face the cross, I probably would've backed down and taken the other option.  Jesus is special!  Jesus, God in the flesh who walked the earth, and who lived a beautiful testimony here on earth.  No other lived a blameless or pure life here on earth.  Thank You for your example in which I fall short of daily, sometimes hourly, etc.
  3. Wonderful husband that has stuck with our marriage despite my shortcomings.  Josh has sacrificed throughout the years, and has always put his family first.  Not many men can say that!  Josh, I love you more and more everyday!  Thank you for holding me on those days when I just don't know if I can get out of bed and be "normal."  Thank you for being such a hard worker, for persevering through this hard year and still getting done what needs to get done!
  4. Ethan--Where do I begin?  God gave us Ethan for 7 and a half FULL years!  Ethan changed my life forever the moment he was born.  I wanted to be a better person because I had become a mommy.  I wanted to truly do what was right--live for the Lord.  Slowly but surely, I have given my life to the Lord and have been forever changed!  Along the path, I learned from Ethan what loving others meant, to include others that often are neglected, and that only God matters first and foremost.  Now I'm learning to grieve in a Christ-like manner, and hope to minister to others in their time of due time.  Ethan, you emulated what most don't learn in a long span of life.  You shine the light of Jesus, and now you are with Him.  Mommy loves you always and forever sweet boy. :o)
  5. Evan--Beautiful son, you keep me going each day, especially now that brother is gone.  You encourage Daddy and I.  The Lord speaks through you in so many ways...the amazing things that you say to keep our hearts from breaking too much.  You are loved so much!  One day you will make a beautiful bride so happy when you marry her and love her by showing the love of Christ.
  6. Friends--Many friends over the years, from elementary school on up to middle and high school.  Friends in adulthood met at work, church, etc.  Military friends that come and go (but still keep in touch).  My sweet PWOC sisters!  Wonderful ladies that have been there through the thick and thin.  Thank you!  I wouldn't be as sane as I am without my friends to lean on.
  7. Necessities--Food, clothing, a home, car, love, etc.  I've been blessed to never have gone without any of these things.  Things that many of us take for granted everyday.  Lest we forget that about 95% of the world lives in poverty, and never has a full belly.  Lord, I'm so sorry for my selfishness, my "more, more, more" mentality that I've bought into.  Please take me and make me Yours, not of this world.
  8. USA--A beautiful place I'm proud to be a citizen of, and to live in my whole life!  A place that us Americans don't even begin to grasp how spoiled we comparison to many other countries who are dirt poor.  Not that materialistic things are important, but look at the massive amount of food we have!  We are blessed beyond measure.  Thank you Lord.

Monday, December 6, 2010

When Things Seem Okay...

Then things are NOT okay.  Grief is very cyclical, like the ebbs and flows of an ocean, though it's not beautiful like the ocean.  Today I am so down and sad.  I do not want to clean house, nor much anything else for that matter.  Now that we are back from Texas, it's "back to normal" around here.  Josh is back at work after being off for some time, and it's just Evan and I.  Don't get me wrong, I am so grateful to be a stay at home mommy and be here with Evan all the time.  But today I just want to be in bed and do nothing. 

For most of October and some of November, I was doing pretty well in my grief journey.  Prior to that I was a mess.  Always crying (or it seemed like always), sad, afraid, worried, etc.  But for that short reprieve from grief, I felt great!  I cried little to none.  I thought to myself, hey, maybe I am working through this and the holidays won't be so bad.  WRONG!  I'm learning that grief is very cyclical, and that it just takes time, prayer, and leaning on the Lord to make it through. 

I don't want to hear:  Have a Holly Jolly Christmas, or any other sappy happy Christmas song for that matter!  I want my son back.  I want life as it was prior to June 5th.  I don't want to celebrate Christmas.  But I know that in all fairness to Evan, we need to continue with the season, and put up a tree.  But I also know that we truly need to celebrate Christmas for what it is:  CHRIST!  Gifts, Christmas parties, holiday shopping, etc. is NOT what it's all about.  The world can try to take Christ out of Christmas, but we are sure going to do out best to keep it all about Him. 

Thank you Ethan for showing us all what is most important!  I'm just so sorry that you aren't here with us, but then again, you are in the ultimate place, the final destination that those who believe want to be--Heaven!  Mommy loves you and misses you so much. :o)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Orange Balloons

Our visit back home to Texas was bittersweet. Sweet because we saw family and friends, because we visited Ethan's grave for the first time since the headstone was placed, and because we were long overdue for a visit back home. Bitter (actually, more like heartbreaking/sad/draining), because we had to spend our first Thanksgiving and Ethan's Eighth Birthday without him here on earth with us.

Thanksgiving was overall very nice. It was spent in Cuero, TX with Josh's grandparents, plus some of my family and some of Josh's family. I'm truly thankful to the Lord that we have such a nice family, and that we were blessed to have plenty of food. But it just wasn't the same, and the be quite honest, I dreaded going anywhere and being around people. Grief set in again...and it's not going away anytime soon. No, I'm not being a pessimist, but I'm being realistic. The holidays are truly agonizing without Ethan. His birthday was just this past Monday, November 29th. Thankfully, we were in Texas, per my husband's request. I'm grateful that Josh was insistent on being at Ethan's grave on his birthday. To be quite honest, I hope we are able to (financially and time-wise) be at his grave every year on every birthday, Lord-willing. We spent an hour or two at his grave, and celebrated with gourmet cupcakes (that were melting in the glorious 80 degree weather!), decorated around his headstone, and released 7 orange balloons. Orange was Ethan's favorite color, and we purchased 8 orange balloons, but one of them popped right before we released them. To me it was significant that one balloon popped, because we had 7 very full years with Ethan. It was a reminder that we should have had 8 years with him, and shouldn't have been at his grave celebrating but instead should have had him with us. But it was also a reminder that those 7 years were meaningful, were significant, and life isn't measured by our years but by how meaningful and full we lived those years. Ethan lived his 7 years here on earth more full and meaningful than some adults do in their entire lives. Ethan had figured out the most significant reason for life: Loving the Lord and loving others.

Anyway, back to Ethan's was a beautiful day! It simply couldn't have been a more beautiful day! I felt Ethan all around, and he certainly was smiling down on us through the sunbeams that emerged from the clouds. Had we been in Washington, it would have been cold, dreary, and miserable. The Lord truly blessed us on that special day, and He knew we needed to be in Texas.

Unfortunately, I didn't want to return to Washington. I'm pretty sure that none of us wanted to return back here. I really thought this was home, but it doesn't feel like home. You know, the really comfortable feeling you get once you get settled and such. Yes, we've only been here a short time, but Texas truly feels like home. I must trust in the Lord, and lean NOT on my own understanding. The Lord knows where we belong. But the's tough.