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.

Monday, August 31, 2009


Oh look... Ellie's picture is back! I don't know what that is about, but I'm relieved. :-)

Work is going well. I'm tired, but happy. Life is just so different these days. I hate myself for saying so, but things are falling into a routine. Ugh. I do NOT like that word. I feel like a little bird who just got put in a cage. Thankfully, life in the cage is lovely and happy. You know, it's not so much that I really need to fly... I just like to know that I could if I wanted to! I suppose boundaries are a good thing for me. Sometimes too much freedom goes to my head... if the cage suddenly disappeared I'd nearly kill myself trying to fly in all directions at the same time! And then end up right back on the perch deciding that I really didn't want to go anywhere after all.

I know. It's exhausting being me.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Ellie's photo has disappeared!

I just wanted to let you know that I have no idea why Ellie's picture isn't on the blog anymore. It just disappeared one day... I will try to figure it out. One of these days. :-)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Update on Chad

I'm sorry, I have fallen down on the job of keeping you informed about Chad's health!

Chad found a doctor who specializes in a certain kind of nerve block surgery. This doctor believes the the cause of Chad's pain is long gone, but that the nerves just haven't gotten the message and they keep mis-firing. So on Monday, Chad had surgery to block those nerves from firing. This is the update from Janeene:

"Thank you so much for praying for Chad’s surgery on Monday. The doctor said that everything went really well, but Chad needs to “recover” from the surgery for about 3 weeks before we know if it has been effective in relieving all of his pain. So for the first week, Chad is on bed rest, limited moving around the 2nd week, and we’ll have another doctor’s appointment by the 3rd week. We still appreciate your prayers that the pain will be gone and that we can resume our normal activities and get back to Papua New Guinea quickly.

One other quick one… Chad will be getting one more surgery September 4th, to repair his knee (hopefully his 4th and final surgery this summer!!). We don’t expect this to be anything too major, but he’ll still need a couple weeks to get back on his feet. By the end of all of this, I keep thinking I’m going to have a bionic husband!

Thanks also for praying for me and the boys in the next several weeks—when I am weak, He is strong.


Monday, August 24, 2009

The New Normal

I don't have much time to write tonight, but I did want to let you know that my first day of work was wonderful! When I think of the sheer volume of information to learn, it's pretty overwhelming, but my boss is very understanding of that and has realistic expectations. She is also interested in setting things up for me to learn in the best possible way. One of her first questions to me today was "how do you learn best? By watching? By doing it yourself?" I really appreciated that. I can't say that I actually accomplished anything today, but it was good to get acquainted with where things were, who people were, and what type of work goes on in the office.

I will be able to drop Ethan off at school in the morning and then head to work. Ethan only goes to school in the morning so John's parents will pick him up from school and keep him until John gets home from work. (99% of the time, John will get home before I do.) Ethan doesn't have any school on Fridays, so we are going to try sending him over to his cousins' house to do some homeschool with them. I say "try" because we won't consider it permanent until I'm sure that my sweet friend Kim will not end up in the funny farm after she adds a fourth boy into the mix at her house!

So that's the quick run-down of the "new normal" in the Skees household. I am very sure that my house will suffer dreadfully from lack of attention, and it may be a miracle if laundry ever gets done again... but then I have to admit that it may not be that much different from the old normal! And I get to dust off my pretty shoes and face the daily delima of whether to wear the sparkly ring and new bracelet or my yellow bird necklace. Multiplying dust bunnies just can't compete with that!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Beat Cancer Today

National Childhood Cancer Awareness Day is coming... September 12. Click on the title of this post to go to a site that our friends have set up to sell some "Beat Cancer" T-shirts. The proceeds go towards helping in the fight against childhood cancer, and wearing these shirts on September 12 (or any other day) will help promote awareness of childhood cancer! While you are at this site, please check out the photos of some great little cancer fighters and their families. (Our friends are the Horns - little Eli has been battling Neuroblastoma for a while now...) Even if you are unable to buy a shirt, you could take the time to pray for these children. These families have done a wonderful job of setting up this creative way to raise both money and awareness for cancer.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Iced Mocha with extra whipped cream, anyone?

At long last, my job hunt is over! After a nearly two hour interview this morning, I was offered a job. On Monday I will start work as the personal assistant for a woman who owns and operates a business that counsels young, special needs children. I am very excited about it! The work will be interesting and varied. I will learn the office workings so that I can fill in for others when they are on vacation or the office is extra busy, but my greatest responsibility will be to make my bosses life easier by making phone calls, doing computer work, making copies, filing, getting coffee, running errands... anything and everything. This excites me so much because it will be a good mix of the challenging and the mundane. I will get to wear pretty clothes, interact with people, use a computer, and I will not put up any kind of a fuss when she sends me out on a Starbucks run! :-) I am not making that last part up - she did tell me that I might be asked to go to Starbucks from time to time! Be still my heart.

The best part is that I felt like we had good rapport with one another, because the biggest part of the job will be to maintain a good relationship with her and learn to anticipate her needs. She seems like a wonderful person to work for, and she was quite pleased by the fact that I am calm. She appears to be around my age and has two small children. She fully understands and appreciates all of the extra maneuverings that are necessary in a person's life when children are involved, and allows for flexibility in her employees' schedules to compensate. For example, the one man who works in the office does not have children so he is happy to be there by 7:45 a.m. This allows the others to drop their children off at school before coming in to work. One of the women gets in at 9:00, and I will be able to drop Ethan off at school and make it to work by 8:30. (The drive will take me 30-45 minutes, depending on traffic.) And just when you think this job is too good to be true... there's a cherry on top. She gives 5 WEEKS of vacation time per year. Seriously. I'm very sure that's what she said, and that it wasn't my stressed out interview-brain making that up.

I am just thrilled, but not because I naively think that the job will be perfect and without stress. I fully expect to be overwhelmed at times, and I know that working with people always brings conflict with it. But I am excited because this job is "me" in every sense of the word. It's difficult to describe exactly why... I just know that it is me. And by the way... the office is beautifully decorated. The colors are lovely, it is neat, organized and pleasing in every way. Do you know how much work I can get done when I am not constantly having to mentally re-decorate the place? I so feel like giggling right now.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Come fly with me...

I have been so overwhelmed with getting back to blogging. I want to be here. I'm sure that there's much to say... but I'm just overwhelmed. Where to start? Life has gotten busy and one day sort of blurrs into the next. I began this post with the intention of updating you on Ethan's schooling. And then it turned into something all together different. So the title of this post is kind of confusing. But you will get to the punchline... eventually. :-)

We were able to get Ethan into a very small Christian school that is about five minutes from our home. It's the same school that Ellie attended. Ethan had such a wonderful experience in Kindergarten last year, and while he learned so much, we have decided that he could benefit from another year of Kindergarten before moving on to first grade. If we had stayed in Montana, it would have been more important for Ethan to move up with his class - all kids he had been with the previous year. He would have had some struggles, but they would have given him some extra assistance during the day to try to help him keep up. With the move, it seemed like a good opportunity for a fresh start, as he would not know the kids in his class and they would have no idea that he should have been in first grade. In this Kindergarten, Ethan is the oldest, and is the same size as the other boys in class (last year, while not the youngest, he was the smallest). He really fits in well with the looks and maturity of the other Kindergartners, and we hope that this will allow him to go into first grade with more confidence and the feeling of being ahead of the curve instead of trying to keep up.

Today was Ethan's big day - the first day of school! He was pretty nervous going in, especially when the whole school gathered in one room (very small amount of people in comparison to most schools, but in the eyes of a six year old it was a crowd). Each of the new students was mentioned by name - but not pointed out and asked to stand or anything. Ethan had this look on his face that showed that he was sure there was a spotlight shining directly onto his little head, and when his name was mentioned, Ethan just dropped his head down to his chest in utter embarrassment. After he was safely settled in class with his four classmates, we left. It was so special to look through the window and see Ethan sitting at the same table where Ellie sat in Kindergarten. When we picked Ethan up at 12:15, he was all smiles! Whew... one day down... and lots more to go!

Thank you for continuing to keep up with us. Some days are difficult - there are so many memories of Ellie surrounding us continually, particularly at the school. Still, there are more good days than bad, even though Ellie is never away from our thoughts. It is a difficult thing to describe. In the beginning the grief was so raw. Emotions were always ragged and intense and even violent. But what other people often perceive as a lessening of grief over time is actually a learning to function with the grief. It is something we wear every day as a part of the fabric of who we have become. Ellie's memory - sort of the perfume of who she was - is a part of every breath that we take. In this way, the grief is less volatile, but no less present. The edges of this grief are smoother... softer, perhaps. But always, always there.

I may be a bit biased, but I believe that we have the best friends and family out there. We have been blessed constantly by people who ask us how it feels to be back. They sincerely want to know how this move has affected us. And they speak Ellie's name. Without hesitation. They give voice to the constant ache that lives in our hearts. Our eyes may well up with tears... but then so do theirs. We may smile and laugh over some silly memory... but then so do they. I could give examples too numerous to count... Ethan's teacher showed him a sticker that Ellie placed on a chart in the classroom five-plus years ago that has never been removed. Last night a sweet friend took the time to gently ask how life has been since we moved... and she truly wanted to know. Just today a friend told me that she nearly burst into tears when her daughter's new friend turned out to be exactly Ellie's age - even down to sharing the same birthday! The list could go on and on. I have come to realize that these amazing people have made a choice to wear this grief as well. To take it on as part of themselves. What is extraordinary about this is that they don't have to. It is a choice.

This topic brings to mind this verse: Galatians 6:2 "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." I believe that we have witnessed the playing out of that Scripture in our loss of Ellie. I looked up the word "bear" and found several meanings that spoke volumes: 1. to hold up; support 2. to suffer; endure; undergo 3. to carry in the mind or heart. As I look around me at the people who love us, tears come to my eyes when I realize that they hold us up in practical ways and in prayer, that they suffer under the weight of Ellie's loss, and that they continue to carry her in their minds and hearts. I hope that you know that I am not only talking about those that I see and speak with daily, but all of you who have followed this blog. You have truly borne our burden in every sense of the word.

For years I have been blessed as the recipient of such burden bearing. And then Jared died. My world view took a sudden, radical about-face. I found myself watching the fresh, harsh grief of his wife, siblings and parents... and wondering what to do. This wave of understanding washed over me in the form of lessons learned from all of you. The answer was to bear the burden... put it on, breathe it in, and mingle my own tears with theirs. The sweetest insight of all dawned when I realized that God truly does work things from all angles. We all know of the blessings to be had when your burdens are lifted by your loved ones. But I discovered that God's blessings abound and are poured out with such generous grace on the ones who suffer by choice. I recently copied down words from the ending of one of my favorite TV shows because I was so struck by the truth in them. "When you love someone you open yourself up to suffering... That's the burden. Like wings, they have weight, we feel that weight on our backs, but they are a burden that lifts us. Burdens which allow us to fly."