Saturday, December 27, 2008

Letter To 2008

Dear 2008,
You have just a few days of life left in you and I thought that before you go, I might pause and reflect on your impact on me. Time has a way of marching on with or without our permission, and I've been making an attempt to try to make the most of my days and hours and minutes. Well,.. I try.
Most of the time.
Some of the time.
I try.

The things that this year has brought into my life have not been as earth-shattering as other events I've experienced in other years. Death, divorce and disease has kept it's distance from those that I am most tightly bound to. Praise be to God.

In fact, if I had to characterize this year, it would be one of healing. For me anyway. As a nurse, I know that healthy healing occurs from the inside out. I know that the deepest wounds take longer to heal and will often leave a lifetime of pain, handicap, scars or a combination of all three. I suppose that's where I find myself.
Pain of Jae's absence will haunt me until I breathe may last breath here. Missing daddy is mixed with the joy of knowing he is healthy again.
Am I? Yes. In my head. People just really can not fathom where my thoughts go. Sometimes I can't either.
Yet,...I am confident that I am healing.

My mother and father-in-laws home burned in August. The tragedy became a crisis of belief which created no real options other than for them to move here with us. In retrospect,. the story has God's redemption all over it. He gave beauty for ashes. Literally.
I love it when He does that.

My study of the Scripture took a new path this year. I should say, it took me to a new and unexpected level. Studying a book a month,...with just me, the Bible and my gargantuan brown Matthew Henry commentary has provided me with just the right mix of structure and flexibility.

This year was not as painful as it has been in the past. I think one reason was because we decided to include Jae Lynn in the gift exchange. Whoever drew her name would give something in her honor or memory. Whichever name we drew for her would receive something in her honor. Aundra made several newborn baby hats which will be given to Bethany Christian Services in Jae's memory. Aundra also bought some "chicks" from Heifer International. Jae Lynn would have chosen chicks over every other animal!
The gift which we gave in Jae's name was a scrapbook which attempted to describe Jae to Emma, her 2 yr old cousin. This scrapbook covered everything from Jae's music, to her quirky personality traits, her love of animals, to her toenail collection and ended with a message to Emma that Jae and her will one day meet "in person" in Heaven.
On that day, they will need no introductions.
The only thing I would change about all of this, is that next year, I will do something similar for daddy.

2008, your imprint on all inhabitants of this earth will live on for eternity.
Some moments were forgettable and I certainly made my share of those during this year.
And some moments were of eternal consequence.
I find myself wishing I'd made more.

So 2008,...I will not miss you. Instead, I will anticipate 2009 with the good feeling of starting over.
New Beginnings are biblical.
Fresh starts.
Blank pages.
New resolutions.
New mercies for me as well as every other person alive.
A New Year filled with choices for each moment.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas To Me

One of the best gifts I am receiving this Christmas is a new look to my blog! Ralph does not understand my desire to blog,..but as usual, he throws his support behind everything I do! He encouraged me to shop around online, find a designer and he would pay!

I've been wanting (for a long time) some ways to communicate Jae's story as well as the information about the "3 Cheerleaders" projects and events. All of my pages/links will be "under construction" for awhile.

A big Arkansas THANK-YOU to Becky at "The Cutest Blog on the Block!" Girl, You rock!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Inventory

Christmas shopping:
I am hopelessly behind.

Decorating? Me? Our fake pre-lit tree has one strand at the bottom that blinks furiously. None of us can make it stop.

Christmas Baking:
I'm all out of Marshmallows and Rice Krispies. Therefore, I can not bake.

Christmas song that has captured my attention:
The ditty that Shannon has on her blog.

The coolest Christmas tradition I've ever heard about:
My co-worker Daniel says that all the women in his family make these tightly sewn/woven cloth balls that are about the size of a softball. They soak them in kerosene for about 2 months. Right before opening presents, all members of the family go outside, fish these cloth balls out of the kerosene, set them on fire and throw them across the yard to each other. They play catch with these fire balls until the balls burn completely up. Daniel says that no one has ever gotten burned and even the young children play.
Daniel often lies to me, however, this is so bizarre that I don't think he could make it up.

I'm currently studying:
The 7 letters to the 7 churches in the 2nd-3rd chapters of Revelation. I've been reminded that God designed His church (our churches!) for our present day culture. He has no intention of abandoning us because we don't do all things right. He can do great things through us if our hearts are right. Although He sees the church as a corporate body, He also sees each individuals heart.
What an encouragement! God's fairness and righteousness is such a comfort.
By the way, I received several interesting emails (and a few blog comments! ) about the commentator who thought the Apostle John did not write Revelation. Just so you know,...I put him back on the shelf for a while. He was wearing me out.

I am stressed about:
not much. Maybe the mass mail out for "The 3 Cheerleaders" end of the year letter.
4000 letters is a lot of letters to stuff, stamp, lick and label. It takes a lot of people's effort to get it out of my head and into the post office, but by gum, it's almost a done deal.
(Are you on our mailing list?)

I'm pondering:
My resolutions for next year.

I am looking forward to:
Christmas. For the first time in 5 years. The feeling is tenuous, but it's there.
Today, as I wrote the angels' words from Luke 2 on our bulletin board at work, I nearly wept at the "...good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you (to me!) this day, a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord..."

A Savior for me.
That's good tidings indeed.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Here's the video shown at the 2008 National Youth Workers Convention at Sacramento, Pittsburgh and Nashville.
May God continue to use Jae's story to bring Glory to Him and encourage others.

A Messy Christmas

Saturday, December 13, 2008


As I have said before,..I try to do an in-depth study of one book each month. Maybe not the best way to go through the Bible,..some people go thru it in one year. But this book-a-month way has been wonderful for me. In fact,..I'm going to do it again next year.
Hey,.. I have an idea:
I'll post the books for each month,..and your New Year's resolution can be to do it with me!


(Why, thank-you Becky for planning everybody's life)

This month's study is supposed to be Acts. Not very Christmasy, but I did Luke last month so I am all saturated in the story of the season.
Abby, for some reason, has become interested in Revelation. She has always enjoyed scary stories and someone mentioned to her that there were monsters (i.e. creatures) in the book of Revelation.
So, curious of interesting biblical wonders, she has looked up all the passages of monsters/creatures.
Her next step of biblical study has been to interrogate me about the purpose and meaning of them all.

Now, do I know the purpose and meaning of the symbolism of a single one of them?
I do not.

So this month, I am scrapping Acts (sorry Dr. Luke) to delve headfirst into Revelation.
How exciting.

I went out and bought a commentary of Revelation to assist me in learning about this fantastic, apocalyptic book.
The first thing it said was that John was not the author.
This guy takes issue with The Revelation of John on the Isle of Patmos.
Good grief.
Haven't even began the book and I'm in the middle of doctrinal controversy.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Exposed Wires

My friend Kay (who is now a griever herself after losing her mom unexpectedly) read my last post and told me "Man Becky! You showed everybody all your wires with that post".
I quickly reminded her that she was the one who told me to make this writing real or shut the blog down.
I didn't mean to show my wires.
I don't want this to be a place where you are watching (reading) a train wreck, know,..where it's so ugly but you just can't look away? There are lots of times when I write something and then wish I had not been so transparent.

Here's where I am today:
My life is full to the brim with God's blessings. On my worst day,..whether I say so or not,....I am confident that God is charge of everything and any pain we experience here will be forgotten in the glory of God's presence and His dwelling place.
In fact,..anyone who knows me knows that most of my healing has come through that very idea.

Christmas is such a gift to those of us who love and follow Christ.

3rd verse of
Hark, The Herald Angels Sing

Hail the Heaven born Prince of Peace
Hail the Son of Righteousness
Light and life to all He brings
Risen with healing in His wings
(now here's my favorite part)
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the newborn King!"

3rd verses are scarce in a Baptist church. Somehow,..they always get skipped. However,..I'm going to protest (protest I tell ya!) if our church skips that verse this Christmas.
It's pivotal to the entire song. The song writers, ole Charles and Felix, would be outraged to see how we lop off the main point of their message.

By the way,...when the piano player protests a song, can be noticeable!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Something Is Missing

Last night was the Bereaved Parents annual candlelight remembrance of our children. A mom (or dad) can not come out of a gathering like that with her emotions intact. Mine were pretty much in tatters.
I tend to look all fine on the outside,...but my insides are not always in such good shape. It's not that I always try to hide things. I have no intention to masquerade, it's just the way I am.

I worked today, chatted with patients, answered phone calls, did my usual job.
But something was very different today.
Something is wrong.
Something is missing.

I woke up feeling that way.
Clocked in, wondering if today was the day. (for what?)
All day I checked my cell for missed calls and I anticipated every phone call at work was for me.
Wished I was home.

Lots of ideas about lots of things, but no energy to do more than "think" of them.
I am feeling powerless and and disconnected from my responsibilities.

Today I spoke with the kind woman who "cared" for Jae at the funeral home. This sweet lady cried today as she recalled crying over her small body that day.

My boss asked me today to apply for a job which would increase my work load by about 1100%. The absurdity of the request was only exceeded by my consideration of doing what he asked. Apply for a job which I don't give a hoot about?
Who does things like that?

Sunday, Ralph was up in the attic looking for something and decided to bring down all our Christmas decorations. He knows I've not been into those since before losing Jae, but men don't always think of those things. Had myself a quiet little freak out moment when they slid down the attic ladder, but I tried not to show it. (Casey was holding her breath, I could tell)
The decorations have sat in the hallway ever since. Unopened. We are walking all around them.
He has offered to put them back up. But I'm not sure,....
Why do I make this a big deal?
What's the rules for something like this?

I know there are families of four all over the place. It's good for them. But it just isn't satisfactory for us. Ralph, Casey, Abby and I enjoy each other immensely, but the Ralph Russell family is a family of 5.
We will always wonder "What if Jae were here,.."
Always wishing things were different.

Tonight I drove home slow. In the rain. Radio silent. Brow all furrowed up.
Thinking of Jae.
Her presence.
Her absence.
Our life as it used to be and as it is now.
Her life as it used to be and wondering what it is now.

Something is missing all right.