Tag Archive | family

Exchanging gifts

DD bought me one thing I really wanted for Christmas:

However, when I tried them on, I knew they wouldn’t fit after being washed.  So I headed out to return them last week.  While at the store, I bought 2 valances to match the new bedding set dh bought for our room.  As I headed up to the check-out, I saw a watch with LOTS of bling on it.  So I used the $ I got back for the pj pants to buy the watch.  The closest I could find to it online is this:

Only mine was bigger and had rhinestones of every color.  It was a perfect match for one of my tops, as well as my dansko splatter paint shoes.  I wore it to work and by the end of the day, two stones had fallen out.  So after I got off work Friday evening, I headed out to take it back to the store.

My daughter commented that she bought me two really neat items, both of which I had to return.  So for now, she kind of feels like this:

Hopefully, I will find something neat to replace the two items I returned, and then she can feel like this:

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Just call me Scrooge!

So I had to work today.  Once I got home, there was a message on the phone that dh and dd had just headed out to the ER since dd has had a really bad cough that doesn’t seem to be getting any better.  (I tried to get them to come out there while I was still working so I could just leave my dept. and meet them in the ER after my shift.)  Turns out dd has an acute URI (upper respiratory infection).  I thought for sure it was going to be bronchitis.

The only thing I really wanted for Christmas this year after losing my brother was to spend time with family.  The large, extended-family-gathering (aunts, uncles, cousins, and their kids/grandkids), was today after I got off work.  After that, we were planning to meet at Mom and Dad’s for an intimate gathering with just my two siblings and our families.

My younger brother is also sick and skipping the festivities.  I feel really bad for my parents because this is their first Christmas after losing my brother.  I knew it was important to them for all of us to be together.  However, with dd being sick (and likely contagious), we opted to stay home from the festivities.  So this Christmas was a bust for us.  What a bummer!

Once I got home from work and realized they were gone, I tore into the house and took down all of the Christmas decorations.  Everything was down and put away in less than an hour.  And that, my friend, is why I give you permission to call me Scrooge!

Three things for which I am thankful

I have refrained from blogging for several months.  After suddenly losing my brother to a massive heart attack in March, my priorities greatly changed.  As you have likely noticed, blogging was one thing I dropped rather quickly.  As we have watched world events unfold in the last five months, my desire to blog has waned.  Other things seem so much more important……Things such as sending cards to those who are facing trials.  Things like making phone calls to let others know how much I care about them.  Time with family.  Checking in on my parents as they continue to deal with the daily grief of having lost a child.  And the list goes on…..

However, today I felt the need to share three things for which I am very thankful on this holiday weekend.

Most of all, I am thankful for the cross.

In these trying days in which we live, I am reminded daily that God alone is my fortress and my refuge.  If it wasn’t for the cross, I wouldn’t be able to have peace in the midst of the chaos taking place in this world.
I am also thankful for my marriage.
Daily, my hubby and I discuss world events, Bible prophecy, and the reality of our Lord’s imminent return.  We are becoming closer to each other as we watch the world face incredible times of tribulation.  He is truly my best friend and I am so thankful for him.  I cannot imagine facing the issues of the day if I did not have him here beside me.  We find comfort in each other’s embrace in this world of constant chaos.
I am also thankful for the American Flag and what it means.
As I walked into Sunday school this morning, I noticed one of the men had on a shirt with the American Flag.  I sadly expressed my thoughts, “Enjoy wearing that flag while we still have that freedom.”  There were several people standing around at that moment, and none of them blew off my comment.  Rather, they sadly concurred that we are in a time where we do have to wonder how much longer our beautiful flag will be able to fly freely….how much longer we will still be called The United States of America.

Graduation Open House

What a busy, busy week we had last week!  So much preparation for the open house, but it was SO MUCH FUN!  We had a FANTASTIC turnout for the party.  Rachel sure felt special with so many coming to share her special day with her.

We had the party at my parents’ house.  It just happened that their neighborhood was having the annual garage sale the same day as the party.  Just before the party started, I found this at the one garage sale we went to, and it was only a quarter!

We made graduation caps out of mini-Reese cups:

Here is the photo board Rachel put together.  She said felt like she was doing a 4H project, but it was much more fun because she didn’t have to worry about someone judging her work.  By the “then and now,” notice how she went from a Barbie jeep to driving my brother’s Lexus convertible.  LOL!

Here is the banner her dad made for the party:

Here are some shots of the food we made.  That is my mom in the first image.

 

This is Hudson.  His grandma called my mom the morning of the party, apologizing for her call because she knew we were busy.  She said, “He won’t shut up.  He wants to know if there will be cake at the party and he won’t take my word for it!”  Anyway, my mom told her that there would be FOUR kinds of cake there.  When she told him, he said, “Who told you that?”  When she said it was Aunt Pat, he said, “I always liked her.”  What a funny boy!

Abby and Rachel:

Dad photo-bombing Abby and Rachel:

Rachel’s Uncle Dave and cousin Jesse:

Dad, cousin Emily, and Uncle Dave:

Cousin Jesse:

Rachel and her friend Josiah:

Family photo:

After most people had left the party, we noticed my brother Tim lying on the floor next to the food table.  (He was stretching out.)  As soon as Rachel noticed, she went to join him:

We had so much food to clean up because there was still so much left!  Then we got home and Rachel opened the fridge and said, “Mom, you forgot a bag of grapes and the pineapple!”  Oh well — so now we are eating LOTS of fruit!

Running the Race

Running the Race

 

Have you ever had one of those moments where God speaks a word to you and it becomes an epiphany to you that changes your entire outlook? I had one of those moments. Of all things, it happened two minutes before I was to speak at my brother’s memorial service. It was such a powerful insight and has brought much comfort and a sense of peace to us as we mourn Matt’s passing.

 

I was reminded of how my brother was a runner. He ran cross country in high school as well as a few marathons. I remembered the words of Paul in 2 Timothy 4. He had run his race and finished his course. Suddenly, a flash of insight hit me! My brother, who was the runner in the family, was also the first one of our immediate family to finish his earthly race! How fitting that was! Yes, we would still miss him immensely, but what a comfort this realization gave us!

 

As I shared this awesome insight, I carefully watched the expressions on everyone’s faces. It was absolutely beautiful to see the transformation on their mournful faces as they “got it.”

 

I have had an immense sense of peace since that epiphany. Whereas, prior to that moment, I would sob nearly every day, I no longer do that. Yes, I still cry, but not the heart-wrenching sobs of a heart that is breaking. Deep within my spirit, I know Matt is EXACTLY where Matt is supposed to be. That has helped me tremendously.

 

As we are trying to move forward, there are several questions that keep resonating through my head:

 

What kind of race am I running?

 

How do I want to be remembered when my earthly race is over?

 

What kind of changes do I need to make to get my priorities in better order?

One thing that was an immediate change is that when I visit my parents, I no longer leave without giving hugs and saying, “I love you.” That has become incredibly important to me. It is also important to me to check in on them even more than I did previously, for losing a child is something none of us can fully understand unless we’ve gone through that experience ourselves.

 

I’m also giving a lot more hugs to extended family members and friends. The power of touch is huge, and the touch of a hug can help to heal broken hearts.

While I frequently speak of my job and often say, “I love my job,” I don’t want that to be the first thing said of me. Rather, I want to be remembered for loving my God first and foremost, then for loving my family and friends.

 

What kind of race are you running? Do you need to make changes?

© 2014, Stacy R. Miller

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A “sticky” situation

We are currently being invaded by the tiny ants.  I have a home remedy set up to take care of it, but it usually takes a couple of days.

Anyway, I was heading to the bathroom for a much-needed bath after my Turbo Jam workout.  I assigned my prissy 17 year old daughter the task of dicing the chicken breast that I cooked after I got home from work.

I’m in the bathroom, taking off my make-up when I hear, “MOM!  ANT!  Heading toward the chicken!!!”  Interpretation:  “Mom, you better get out here fast because I’m not touching that ant!”  So I ran out and took care of the ant.

Back to the bathroom to start running my bath water.  I hear, “MOM!  Another ant….Ok, never mind, I got it.”  Being how she HATES bugs and refuses to touch them, I had to walk out and see how she got rid of it.  She proudly replied, “I used the sticky note that was on the counter!”  LOL!  Now we have a new use for sticky notes!

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Surrounded by God’s Mercy

Surrounded by God’s Mercy

 

After the initial shock of hearing my brother died of a massive heart attack in March, I knew the Lord had given me a message to share at his memorial service. Having a mission in my pain certainly made those days of such intense grief a bit easier because the message He gave me about his mercy was something I was living out firsthand.

 

You see—my brother died the day before my scheduled weekend off work. After that, I had to get back to work. I didn’t want to use my allowed bereavement days until my parents returned from Arizona (where he lived), and we could plan our memorial service here. (And that didn’t happen for two weeks.)

 

Nearly every morning, I would get up and start getting ready for work. About the time I would be putting on my eye make-up, I would start crying. Eye make-up and tears don’t work well together! I remember crying out every morning, “Lord, I need Your strength and Your mercy. I cannot do this on my own.”

 

I work the switchboard at a local hospital. It is very busy since I answer every call that comes to the switchboard from inside the hospital, outside the hospital, as well as those for the after-hours answering service for over one hundred doctors. It requires a lot of focus, multi-tasking, and people skills. Yet, every day, in spite of the excruciating ache in my heart, I was able to come to work, put on my happy face, and do my job. Granted, I would sob all the way home, but at least I was able to hold myself together while I was on the clock. That was nothing but God’s mercy carrying me. Through this, I felt the prayers of others like never before.

 

After a grueling day at work, having been on the phone all day, I would come home and have to spend the evening on the phone, updating people on what was going on. Not only were we dealing with my brother’s death, but his wife was admitted to the hospital that night. The day after she got out, my mother was in the ER for dehydration. There were several times when I wondered, “Are they going to die too?” I cannot begin to fully exemplify how terribly stressful all of this was to our family. As my dad said, “This has been the worst two weeks of my life!” So to say it was a flurry of activity would be an understatement. Yet, the Lord continued to infuse me with strength.

 

I would do what needed to be done, but then I had to allow myself to release the grief and stresses of the day through tears each evening. If I didn’t, I was a basket case the next day. There is such cleansing and emotional release in letting those tears fall. Through this experience, I have learned that even tears are part of God’s mercy to us because of how much better we can feel after a long cry.

Another was I experienced God’s mercy was in the message of mercy He spoke to me. You see – I used to teach Sunday school every Sunday. That isn’t possible now since I work every other weekend. Yet, teaching God’s word is still a passion in my soul. He gave me a clear, concise message on His mercy to share at the memorial service. He knew this would do two things: 1. Give me a mission in my pain, which would be a comfort to me. 2. Allow me to use the spiritual gift He gave me to comfort and encourage others as we all walked through this valley of grief together.

 

As you face your own struggles in this life, I challenge you to look for God’s mercy and see how He demonstrates it to you in new, unexpected places.

© 2014, Stacy R. Miller

 

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