We will always remember Ellie for her love for others, her creativity, sensitivity, and delight in life! Ellie's light has spread far and wide... may it continue to shine in our hearts.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Memorable Thanksgiving

Thank you for all of the kind comments regarding my last post. We ended up having a very nice Thanksgiving. I think that the buildup to it was worse than the actual day. We had a very low key kind of day. We talked to family on the phone and later went down to the other house to eat dinner with all of the family who are in the area. All in all it was a lovely day.

And, as promised, we did make new memories. Here is the proof!

Last week we went out to a hunting camp where John's uncles, Dick and Richard, had been hunting. John and Ethan climbed up into Rich's tree stand.


John and Ethan also burned a small pile of yard debris together. It was such a nice week to be together. John had an extra day off of work and Ethan had two days off of school.


One of the things I'm the most thankful for this year!


Ethan took a Thanksgiving craft up to Ellie's stone on Thanksgiving Day. (Do you recognize this, Oma? He really enjoyed making those turkeys. Thank you so much.)


When we visited Ellie's stone on the way to Mike and Reni's for Thanksgiving dinner, Ethan wanted to bring two stuffed animals. The gray and white one is his, and the brown and white dog was Ellie's. I thought it was so sweet how he made sure to include Ellie in every way he knew how. It was my idea to leave something on Ellie's stone, but Ethan took it from there. He choreographed a whole photo shoot. All three of us had to have our pictures taken at the stone, individually and in pairs, and finally all three of us. This is only a portion of the pictures that Ethan made us take! :-)





Wednesday, November 26, 2008


The older I get, the more this holiday means to me. I've been pondering it of late...

The truth is, I am thankful. There are a good many things that I feel thankful for: a husband who loves me, a lively and adorable little son, nine happy years with Ellie, and more family and friends than one woman could ever deserve. There are also things that I don't feel thankful for in my heart, but I choose to give thanks for anyway. The "give" part is, after all, a verb. And so I give thanks to God for my heartaches in life. The losses of my dad and my daughter. The uncertainty of the future, both physically and financially. While this thankfulness does not come from a lighthearted, happy place, it does bring with it a deep and abiding peace. A peace that says that I have a God who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. A God who is good. A God who has promised that someday He will wipe every tear from our eyes.

The other truth is, I am sad. The closer the "holiday season" comes, and the colder the weather gets, the more I am bombarded by memories of Ellie. The memories are coming faster and clearer than ever before. Emotionally speaking, I like to put things in a box up on a high shelf. The kind of shelf that you have to climb onto a ladder to reach. When I am good and ready to, I will climb that ladder, take down the box and carefully look through the memories that it contains. Honestly, I have a number of such boxes. Some are covered in cobwebs from lying undisturbed for too many years. But there is this stubborn little box that keeps falling off the top shelf and hitting me in the head. Precious memories are scattered around the floor, demanding attention as I frantically try to stuff them back into the box.

Today I've decided not to put those memories back in the box. Today I will savor them and cry over them. Tomorrow I will make new ones, but today I look back and choose to feel the sadness and the joy. And I will choose to give thanks through the tears.

The song "Wintersong" by Sarah McLachlan fits John's and my mood today as we reminisce. (Click on Pop-out player)



Thanksgiving, 2007






Other highlights from around this time last year:








"My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior" Luke 1:46-47

Ellie's last Thanksgiving

Monday, November 24, 2008

House photos

Thank you for your patience. I now have photos for you! :-)

Our new living room:


John's desk is behind that divider on the right side of the picture.


John's little area:


My new vanity area, because a girl's gotta have a place to make the magic happen... (you remember, our only sink is in the kitchen and it only has a small round pull out mirror behind the curtain)



I decided to put all of my unfinished (and some un-started) pictures on the wall because it was a huge wall, and storage space is lacking. I figure that this might give me some incentive to keep working on projects.


The TV will be across from the sofa, next to the front door, but the entertainment center is not put together yet - so no picture.

Ethan's bedroom:

His bed is sitting where my desk used to be, and the dresser is where our TV used to be.


This is where my collage used to hang. The blank canvas will have a large picture of Ethan and Ellie on it. I've already ordered the photo, but it hasn't arrived yet.


This is Ethan's little art/homework station. He loves it. My dad made that rocking chair when I was born, and I rocked Ellie in it when we brought her home from the hospital. I am so happy to have it in Ethan's room.


We decided to keep the dining table in Ethan's room because he can spare the room.


This was the best overall picture of the room I could get. Ethan has his little chairs and tables in the middle of the room, but when not in use, they sit under the window.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Beautiful changes

We are deep in the throes of rearranging the house! It is quite the project. But already we are THRILLED with how it's turning out. When Ethan got home from school on Monday, we excitedly told him that he was going to get a huge new bedroom. He was devastated. I guess I should have known better, but I didn't. The idea of change was too much for him to handle. He wanted to cling to his tiny little closet of a bedroom. Poor little guy. I don't know why I blanked out, but I knew that both of my kids always did better when I would just totally surprise them with the finished room instead of telling them that change was coming. They both loved a brand new space to explore, but they couldn't handle the idea of it ahead of time. Unfortunately, this is not a one day sort of project. We managed to put Ethan's bed up as quickly as possible on Monday, and then Ethan spent all of yesterday with Loretta and Reni while we completely set up his new room. He came in last night to find that he now has a palace for a bedroom. It is the largest bedroom he's ever had - including one he shared with Ellie another lifetime ago. He LOVED it! I kept all of the pictures on the wall that we had in that room as our living room, except the collage. I'm going to replace that one with another big canvas with a large picture of Ethan and Ellie together.

John and I now have our bed in Ethan's old room. It's a king sized bed, and it fits exactly wall to wall, with only enough room to stand at the foot of the bed. Having a video of me changing the sheets could land me on America's Funniest Home Videos. (And should anyone surprise me with this, they would have to die. Consider yourself warned. Yes, Reni, I'm talking to you.) To make matters worse, I bought these king sized fuzzy blankets to use as sheets in the winter months, but they aren't fitted. Last night, John was standing at the foot of the bed watching me wrangle the stupid blanket around the mattress while standing on the mattress. And he laughed! He's lucky that he has lived to tell about it. I was NOT amused!

Our new living room is already turning out gorgeous. It's just perfect for us. We are still working on it, as Ethan's room kind of took up our focus yesterday. Although Reni and Loretta did come over to help us move the couch. Oh yes, we had to do the whole deal. Move the fridge, clear off the counter, and wiggle the monstrous beast into the kitchen and then back into the original room that we moved it out of some months ago. John managed the whole thing like an engineer. (Remember, last time we did it without him by sheer force - doorjambs be hanged.) The first thing he said was "La and Reni, take that side. I'll take Sarah on mine." I'm telling you, in that moment, I had flashbacks to being picked last in PE. The fact that both of John's aunts are stronger than me is not a surprise. But that it's common knowledge... ouch. :-) It's o.k. I did my job of keeping John from gouging his back on the edge of the counter top quite nicely. (Of course this was before he laughed at me last night.) We now have a gigantic sofa in the middle of our new living room. And if I ever decide to move the house around again, I will be attacked by an angry mob.

John and I are having a blast! We have seen very little of each other over the past month, so we are just having a great time working together. Despite what I just told you earlier, we actually do work well with each other. We have very similar ideas in general, and our different perspectives - his more practical concerns, and my more aesthetic ones - generally merge quite nicely. We are creating a beautiful, comfortable, and functional space together. And truly, the experience is as wonderful as the outcome.

I promise to give you pictures as soon as possible!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Quick Update

Hello again. I just wanted to let you know that John still has a job! We are so thankful.

I survived my final two Bible Studies. I was not as emotional as the first time, but still cried quite a bit. By the end, my nose was beet red and raw and I was exhausted for a whole day and a half. But I would have to say that it was worth it. I think perhaps it was good for me to have some good hard cries. But more importantly, it sounds like some people were encouraged by hearing of the things God has taught me in my life, through the struggles I've had.

I don't have much else to add. I mainly wanted to check in and let you know that we are alive and well. John is looking forward to having four days off, and Ethan and I are looking forward to spending some good time with him. We've been going in separate directions for over three weeks now. Once we settle in and have some down time, I have a new project. I am planning to rearrange the whole house. Yes, I know that I am crazy. We have clearly established that already. But having lived in this house for a while, we have discovered that we could make it work a little better for us if we swap some rooms around. The only rooms that will get by unscathed will be the kitchen and bathroom. This is the short version: We will put our bed in what is now Ethan's room. We will make what is now our bedroom into the living room/dining room/office. Ethan will get to have what is now our living room/dining room for his bedroom. And what is now John's little office, will become a storage closet. So there you have it. Total chaos and upheaval. And eventual beauty and harmony. I am so excited!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Quick Hello...

I'm sorry I haven't blogged much recently. I just wanted to post and let you know that John made it home safely. He had a good trip, but is exhausted. Tomorrow starts his three days of work, so he's got to hit the ground running! His company just laid off a bunch of workers, but John hasn't been called about it, so we're hoping no news is good news. He will find out tomorrow I guess.

I was asked to share my testimony today at a Bible Study I've been going to. The teacher of that study also teaches two times on Fridays to different groups of women, so she's asked me to share at those tomorrow as well. I much prefer writing to speaking, but I felt like God has given me a story to share, so I'm doing it. Typically I get extremely nervous, but this time I did not get nearly so anxious. I think I've finally reached the point in life where such things just don't matter as much. There are too many other important things in life that outweigh the fear of what other people think. So I have approached this exercise fairly pragmatically. I carefully came up with an outline and have been thinking and praying for weeks about what God would have me share. Despite my uncharacteristic calmness, I knew that I would not be able to speak with great eloquence or proficiency. I just figured that it could be termed a success if I managed to get the point across.

There was one factor that I did not consider. Hormones. Please pardon my indelicacy in referring to such things in mixed company, but this is a very real fact of life that has a deep impact on my normally easy going and unemotional self. In this case, a sudden and unwelcome attack of PMS sent all logic and planning screaming from the room. Seriously. There was nothing I could do about it, so I went in to the Bible study armed with boxes of tissues and loads of chocolate. And I unleashed it all on a room full of unsuspecting women. It was not pretty. I cried almost from the moment I started speaking until I ended. And I don't mean dab-at-the-eyes now and then crying. I mean nose-blowing, makeup-running, gut-wrenching crying. And that was just me. Those poor women spent so much time wiping their own eyes that I don't think they managed to choke down much of the chocolate. And guess what? I get to do it all over again tomorrow. Twice. Heaven help us all! Do you think it's possible that I discharged enough emotion today that I won't be able to cry tomorrow? (Don't answer that.)

Tonight I feel like a wet noodle that has been repeated flung around the room and slapped against the wall. My eyes burn and my head is thinking about hurting. But it's too tired to put in the energy it would take to work up a good headache. John is sound asleep on the couch. And Ethan is running in and out of the room like a toy that has been wound up good and tight. We are just waiting for him to run out of steam so that we can all go to bed. I'm thinking I can start getting Ethan ready for bed in about 18 minutes (not that I'm counting).

I hope you all have a good night. There are several people out there that I owe emails to. You know who you are. I will respond eventually. Maybe even tomorrow if I'm not in a coma.

Sleep well. Lots of love,

Monday, November 10, 2008

Speaking of the Dead

Hi! Thanks for praying for John's trip. He made it safely to Florida and is spending a few days there with family and friends. He flies home on Thursday. Ethan and I are definitely ready to have John home!

Ethan has seemed to level out some. At the end of one particularly long and difficult day, he was happily playing with me in the living room. He kind of randomly threw this statement out: "When I was in the bathroom, I thanked God." (I'm beginning to think that his time in the bathroom is the only time in Ethan's life when he's still enough to think.) I asked him what he thanked God for, and Ethan said "For dying on the cross." Ahhhh, music to my ears.

Yesterday, Reni and Mike had some people from church over to the house. I had been telling some of Ellie's story to a lady, so I pulled out pictures to show her. Ethan and another boy walked up at just that moment and Ethan grabbed one of the pictures. All afternoon, Ethan had been saying that he was shy and wouldn't even respond when people said "hi" to him. But he took the picture and showed it to the boy and boldly said "This is my sister, Ellie. She died. She had a bad sick called, um, um, cancer!" And then he looked to me for the nod that said he got it right. I am so proud of that boy! His straight shooting is a delight to my heart. I never want any of us to shy away from talking about Ellie, or even speaking plainly of her death. It is the speaking that continues to give her life to us. To lose that would be another kind of death. One that I just couldn't bear.

Thank you all for your love and encouragement. Thank you for keeping Ellie's memory alive with us!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The State of my House

I have been pondering something over the past few days or so. I've been just really struck with the realization that it's time for some housecleaning in my life. There are piles of bad habits and old destructive patterns (of thinking and behavior) littering the floors and sin lurking in dark corners... I guess I'm just tired of it all and ready to see where God wants to take me. On the way home from taking Ethan to school this morning, a song came on that I've heard countless times before. But today I heard it with fresh ears. Ready ears. Hopeful ears.

The song is "Whatever You're Doing (Something Heavenly)" by Sanctus Real.

Here are the lyrics, and below that I have the song on my playlist...

It's time for healing time to move on
It's time to fix what's been broken too long
Time make right what has been wrong
It's time to find my way to where I belong
There's a wave that's crashing over me
All I can do is surrender

Whatever you're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos somehow there's peace
It's hard to surrender to what I can't see
but I'm giving in to something heavenly

Time for a milestone
Time to begin again
Revaluate who I really am
Am I doing everything to follow your will
or just climbing aimlessly over these hills
So show me what it is you want from me
I give everything I surrender...


Time to face up
Clean this old house
Time to breathe in and let everything out
That I've wanted to say for so many years
Time to to release all my held back tears

Whatever you're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos but I believe
You're up to something bigger than me
Larger than life something heavenly

Whatever you're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos but now I can see
This something bigger than me
Larger than life something heavenly
Something heavenly

It's time to face up
Clean this old house
Time breathe in and let everything out

Sanctus Real

Click on "Pop out player"



Monday, November 03, 2008

Checking in...

Hello again. I've had a busy few days getting back into the swing of things.

John just left this morning to drive his truck to Florida. We really need to sell the truck, and full sized trucks just aren't selling out here. The streets are lined with trucks for sale at prices that are appallingly low. It is actually more cost effective for John to drive to Florida, leave the truck for his dad to sell, and fly home. So that's the plan. The state of the economy in recent months has made things difficult on the company that John works for, so they are requiring everyone to take some time off in order to keep from laying people off. The timing was perfect for John to be able to make this trip. It seems that all of the pieces are falling together. As I type, John is probably getting into South Dakota.

If you are praying for us these days, the top of my requests is safety for John. And it would be wonderful if God would provide a buyer for the truck. Also, Ethan could use some prayer. This was a pretty quick turn around from me being gone, to now John taking a trip, and Ethan isn't very happy. I think he's mostly made peace with it, but Ethan really wishes that he could have gone along. He is definitely his daddy's shadow. Tonight when I was folding laundry, I kind of absentmindedly held one of John's shirts up to my face and smelled it. Ethan walked in at just that moment and his little face lit up like a Christmas tree. He immediately snatched the shirt and held it close. I put it on him, and Ethan was so proud that a little bit of his jeans peaked out from under the hem of the shirt. He said "look, it almost fits me!" I'd say that was about 3 or 4 hours ago, and as I am sitting here, Ethan is sleeping in that shirt. The sight of Ethan in his daddy's shirt warmed my heart all the way down to my toes for more reasons than the obvious. I don't think I ever blogged about it, but Ellie was obsessed with wearing John's shirts. John started having to bring an extra to the hospital when he was coming back and forth from home because Ellie would literally steal the shirt off of his back. He would take off the one that he'd been wearing all day, and Ellie would put it on and sleep in it. After John left for the night, Ellie would grab a big handful of the shirt and hold it to her nose to breathe in her daddy's scent. I honestly can't remember if Ethan knew about any of that. I think it's just something they both instinctively did. (Says the woman who apparently has a compulsive shirt-sniffing habit of her own... perhaps these apples have not fallen far from their tree?)

Another big prayer request that I have for you is the family of a little boy named Brody. Brody died of NB early this morning at the age of 8. Thank you in advance for praying for comfort for this sweet family. They need all of the prayers that they can get for the upcoming weeks and months...

That's all I have for tonight. Love to you all!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Ethan is Aang!

Ethan dressed up as Aang, from Avatar the Last Airbender, today at school. He was so cute!

Here's Ethan and Elly. She was Dorothy from The Wizzard of Oz. (Notice Ethan's cool "staff" which is also a glider, and "Momo" the flying lemur.)


Where Elly is, Ethan is sure to be found! The kindergarteners walked around to each of the class rooms to show their costumes. Most of Ethan's class had to ask who he was, but the older kids knew. Ethan said that one kid said "You rock, dude" to him as Ethan passed his desk. There was a third grader who shaved his head to be Aang, and that boy was mighty impressed to see Ethan.




For those of you who know nothing about Avatar, I've included a video from YouTube so that you can see who Ethan was trying to be.

Here is my "nutshell" explanation of the show:
The show is about a group of kids who are trying to save the world. They are able to "bend" the elements - Earth, Water, Fire and Air. People are only able to bend one particular element, but Aang, who was born an air bender, learns how to bend them all. I picked this particular video because it highlights the sweet friendship that Katara and Aang have throughout all of the Avatar shows. While Aang has the potential to be the most powerful being ever, he has much to learn and must face terrible anguish on his journey. Katara's unconditional love is what keeps him going. Katara's love reminds me of the verse that talks about there being no fear in love because perfect love casts out fear. (That is one of my all time favorite verses in the Bible. Can you imagine what it would look like if our love for one another fit that description?) Ellie really liked Katara (a water bender, who also has a special talent for healing). But I found it of particular interest that Ellie said that if she could choose, she would be a fire bender. John and Ethan said the same. I, on the other hand, chose water. Go figure.

Thank you for humoring me here. This is just a show that is special to us because all four of us enjoyed watching it. It brings back some pretty wonderful memories of Ellie, and is something that we can still share with Ethan.

Keep Holding On - Kataang