Thursday, April 27, 2017

National Volunteer Week

Wow!  It's been busy around here!  In a good way, though.  It helps me to stay busy.

A few weeks ago, The Right Path had a rough volunteer week with HALF of our volunteers out with illness.  We even called in all of our back up volunteers and few of THOSE had emergencies! 😳  Whew!  That was some fancy footwork but, praise the Lord, we did not have to cancel even one class!

This week we actually had to cancel classes because all of US are sick!  Ugh.  I really don't like to do that.  I don't like being sick, either...

I've been thinking a lot about volunteer work lately.  There are so many wonderful organizations that exist for the sole purpose of helping others.  Great causes that depend on volunteers to keep ministering to those in need.  And, really, aren't we all in need at some point in our lives?

A friend asked me last week if they should force their teen to volunteer somewhere.  That's a tough question.  My answer might surprise you.  I said no.

You heard correctly.  NO.  Because I don't really think forced volunteer work helps anyone.  But also because I think giving of yourself, pouring your heart into someone else, focusing on someone's needs other than your own, serving someone with no expectation for any return...these are learned behaviors.  We've all heard the saying, "Values are caught, not taught."  Well, I think that's true on many levels.  Including volunteering.

So here are my suggestions for parents who have a child that is struggling with selfishness:

1)  Don't expect your teen to do what you're not doing.  

We're all busy.  I get it.  Really.  There are a million reasons that prevent us from volunteering our time for someone else.  But all those reasons can quickly become excuses if we aren't careful.  When we are constantly telling our children to do something that we can't find time for, we are really sending the message to our children that it really isn't that important.

2)  Don't project your ideas and goals into their volunteer work.

Just because you love an organization doesn't mean they will love the organization.  That's okay.  Abby has been volunteering her time, training horses for a rescue facility, for the past 2 years.  It's not my thing, or Michael's, but we all schedule our time around it.  This year Sherrod joined her in the task.  Although it isn't always easy, it's good for them to do what they love.

3)  Give yourself grace AND make a plan.

You work full-time.  Kids are in school.  Baseball practice always runs late.  You fall into bed exhausted each night.  I get it.  Maybe this isn't your season for full-time volunteering.  That's okay.  Almost every organization has something a one-time volunteer can do.  Just make a plan to fit something into your schedule.

4)  Get the whole family involved.

Sit down with your family, discuss your desires, and set a goal.  In the beginning, maybe it will be to volunteer as a group somewhere once a year.  Soup kitchen on Thanksgiving.  Benefit car wash.  Mow an elderly neighbor's yard.  When you all get together and start looking at the needs around you, you'll find something that jumps out at you.

5)  Be an advocate.

Help the organization you like by getting the word out.  It's super easy to do thinks like: share a post on FB, retweet a message, forward an email.  You might have a great idea for a fundraiser (something every nonprofit is in need of) that you can share.


The bottom line is, get involved any way you can.  And it will be much easier to raise children who are willing and ready to get involved.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Time to Breathe

Who am I kidding?  I'm not leaving any time to breathe...

I'm staying incredibly busy, not even allowing time for adequate sleep.  Not that I was getting that anyway.  But it seems a little more harried than usual.
ICE CREAM FOR BREAKFAST
Maybe that's because in the last 2 weeks we've celebrated William's 10th birthday, completed our first ever William's Walk Memorial Trail Ride, which was a blast...held our literacy days at the ranch...MOVED...continued daily therapeutic riding classes, daily family events, such as service dog training/lessons, rescue horse training/lessons, doctor appointments for T1D and pulled muscles, AND dealt with some weird family illness on top of it all.  In fact, I was up holding my baby all night last night, which prevented me from getting on the computer at the crack of dawn this week.  But I am thankful to be able to hold him through his misery.  πŸ˜

Michael and I have both failed to properly acknowledge parental birthdays this month, we have failed to be on our church prayer call 2 weeks in a row, I've double booked 2 appointments, been late for countless others, and forgot one altogether.  I've become the person who busily fills each and every moment of my day, often borrowing moments from another day.

But even with all of the busy craziness going on, I don't forget.  I can't get away from the fact that I miss my little boy.  No amount of busy, no amount of time-filling brings relief from the grief.  In fact, the more time that passes, the more "real" it becomes to me, the harder it seems to get.

In the midst of all the busy, I still have the work of grief.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Oh My Soul

My dear friend and sister in loss, Melanie, who writes over at The Life I Didn't Choose, shared this song yesterday.  When I heard it, I simply thought, "Yes!"  This song rings so true.

This is why I continue to write on William's blog. It's why I pour out my deepest, darkest thoughts and feelings. 

So often, I hear Christians, well-meaning and loving, comparing how others grieve or proclaiming one grief to be "godly" while tsk-tsking another.  I wanted other grieving Christians to know they are not alone.

They are not wrong for grieving.

It doesn't make them "less" Christian.

It means they loved deeply.  They still love deeply.

Finishing the race well doesn't mean we never doubt or question or wonder or get angry or weary.  It simply means that through all of that, we continue to seek Him, praise Him, follow Him.  It means that when we have doubts, we cry out, "Lord, I believe...help Thou my unbelief."

Scripture is full of hurting, grieving people.  I love the examples given to us.  They weren't perfect people with perfect responses.  I think of Job, blameless and righteous, and the trials he faced and how much he grieved.  I think of David and the Psalms, which are full of his grief and crying out.

Grief is a heavy load to carry.

This is the valley.

Let Him show you how you can lay this down.

You are not alone.


Thursday, April 6, 2017

Moving Day

This week... Oh, this week.  There's...just...so...much.  Saturday marks 10 years ago that I walked the floor around my grandfather's pool table, waiting for my blessing to come.  And he did, ever so sweetly, in the bedroom I loved as a child.  So many happy memories.  My grandfather tried to stay awake for William's birth, but couldn't.  He certainly enjoyed him the next day, though.  And every day after.  I'm so very grateful that William was born in his home.  An incredible blessing for 3 generations.

And now this new home.  The day has arrived.  We have moved.  I spent my first night in a house that William never lived in.  I have such an odd mixture of emotions.

I have been torn about leaving our house...the place where William loved, laughed, crawled, ate, slept, worked, played, and lived.  But I have also looked forward to moving to the place that he loved so dearly (more because of the Kirklands than because of the houseπŸ’–), the place he so looked forward to and planned out his bedroom...the place where his worn out body is laid to rest.

I do not remember how this letter came to me but it touches me to the core.  It was posted on a blog titled, Mommy is a Widow.  Even though it is written to her husband, the sentiment is so very, very similar that I could not write a better letter myself.  I thought it fitting to post her entire letter here today:

Dear Husband,
Today is moving day. Last night was the last night I will ever spend sleeping in the same house that I once shared with you. Now I must take this packed house and start a new life in a new place. A life without you in a place that isn’t yours. This isn’t a day of celebration, nor is it a day to grieve. This is a day for both simultaneously. I do not celebrate moving into a new life without you; but rather, I acknowledge that this is the first major step in accepting that you are not coming home. I know it seems that I should have accepted this by now, but how do you accept the unacceptable truth that the one you can’t live without is gone.
This house stopped feeling like home after you died, but in this place I still hold onto this hope that you will be coming home. That there has been an impossible mistake and you aren’t really gone, or maybe this is all a dream and I just need to wake up. Leaving feels like giving up hope and I don’t want to go. Every time I tried to pack up this house it broke me. I have spent more time sobbing on the floor than accomplishing anything useful. So I asked for help and found it in the most amazing place. Your coworkers packed this entire house. There were so many of them. They came with a plan and didn’t ask anything of me. I think if I had sat on the couch sobbing the whole time they would have just worked around me. They were wonderful and exactly what I needed. I am still speechless from everything they’ve done for us (I know… me… speechless!). But as soon as they finished, I broke down into tears because I realized that the time is here for me to take my first step away from you. You have already left, I know that, but it is so hard for me to have to be the one to take this next step into this new life without you.
They tell me you will always be with me, that you are still here in my heart. And I know that. But it’s not enough. And moving from this house does feel a little like leaving you, even though I know you will be no more gone than you already are. But on the nights that I really need you, I will no longer be able to close my eyes and imagine that you are there in that space the way you once were. I will not be able to close my eyes and go back to the moments that I don’t want to let go of, and just be in them with you. I won’t be able to stand in the places you once held me and imagine that you are right here, that you are holding me like you once did. I still have my days where I just hope and pray that I will hear you come up those stairs. The closer we get to this move the more I have been wishing for you to just undo this and come home. We can just fix this and go back to the way it always was, the way it is supposed to be. But I will never go back to the person I was before, and we will never be able to go back to how it was.
Today I am moving out of our house and into a house that you never called home. The strength that it takes to move today is a strength I am not sure I have, but I know that even if I’m not strong enough to move this mountain, it will be moved today. I have learned something that you learned years ago before I met you, and something you continued to face through the years that we walked together into battles with your health. You don’t know how strong you are until being strong is no longer a choice. You were strong. And I am admitting now that I never realized the strength it took for you to face what you have faced every single day when you were sick. Every day you ached, every day you hurt, every day you watched everyone else go through “normal” while you were stuck with sick. And every day you got up and kept going as if you didn’t feel the hell that I know you felt some days. So I am following your example. I am doing what you did, or at least trying to. You have given me so much strength, and you have given me my reason to stay strong and power through this. You have given me reason to heal, not just survive. I don’t want to survive this. I want to heal. I hope in time I can find the same grace that you had when you watched everyone else go through normal while you were living through the unfair, the broken, the harder than “normal”.
So today I am moving. Today I am taking this first step away from the life we lived together. Today I will survive this, tomorrow I will break from this, and the next day I will start to heal from this. I miss you every single day. I love you with every piece of me that is still here. You will always be in my life, you will always be my family. You will always be my love.
Love,
Me

Thursday, March 30, 2017

What to Say

I seriously did not think I would ever do this, but here it is:

What to say to someone who is grieving the loss of their child.

I could probably list a thousand things NOT to say.  Things like:

God needed another angel in heaven.
It hurts God more than it hurts you.
We're so selfish to wish our loved ones back here.
At least you have other children.
It's time to move on.

I know.  It's almost comical.

Except it's not.

What is it about human nature that makes us say things even we don't believe to try to make someone feel better?

I feel like I want to poke out my eardrums sometimes. Especially with the angel comment.  I know William seemed angelic on earth.  He was super sweet.  And kind.  And generous.  Yes.  I remember. But he's not an angel.  He's a saint.  But I also know we don't need to get into a big, drawn out, theological debate when you are just trying to take a moment to be kind.  And honestly, the only thing I have the energy for is a blank stare.

So here it is.  If you're in a situation where you need a one-liner, here is my big, long list of what to say to someone who is grieving the loss of their child.

1) I'm so sorry for your loss.
2) I'm so sorry for your loss.
3) I'm so sorry for your loss.
4)...

You get the idea.  If you feel the need to embellish, you can add, "I cannot imagine," in there.  Because you can't.  No loss you've experienced is the same.  Even my friends who have experienced child loss do not have my same journey.  Sure, there are similarities, but the experience is unique.  It's so unique and personal that, even though Michael and I lost the same child, our grief is different.  It's why it's so lonely.  No matter how much you love and support one another, there's a certain amount of this road that no one can travel with you.  You have to do it alone.  (Well, with Christ, but no other person here on earth.)

Now, if you're in a situation where you actually want to devote time to a griever and you know them well, by all means share a story of their loved one or tell them you are thinking of their loved one, too.

One of my happiest moments in the last few weeks was when a friend called up just to say hi.  After some small talk about the business of life and all that is coming up she said, "I heard a harmonica the other day and it made me think of William and how much he loved to play his.  And I remembered his great big smile after he would blow on it.  So I prayed right then that God would give you an extra measure of grace to face the coming month."

Wow.  Now THAT is a gift.  No pressure for me to say how I'm doing or respond in any way.  No cookie-cutter one-liner that I might have heard 5 other times that day.  It was heartfelt and sincere.  She not only told me exactly how she had been praying for me, but she also shared a memory she had of William, giving me permission to talk about him freely while letting me know he's not forgotten.

So, there you have it.  There is no one-liner that will help magically bring relief to someone who is grieving, so stay away from them, in general.  If you love a griever, it takes time, compassion, grace, and perhaps forgiveness to help bring healing.  And even then, they won't be the same.

Remember, a broken vase might be repaired with super glue.  It might still be beautiful or useful.  It might hold flowers as it did before.  It might even be able to hold water again.  But the crack will always be there.  It might be more visible to some than to others, but it will always be there.



Saturday, March 25, 2017

T-Shirts: BE MIGHTY and Trainer's Challenge

Here's the scoop on the Trainer's Challenge t-shirts for Abby and Sherrod:
Shirts are $25 each.  Proceeds will support both girls and help care for their horses while they are here.  Deadline to order is April 15.  Here's what they look like:

Please contact Abby via text, email, or FB if you'd like to order.  NOT ME.  There's enough swirling around in my head...😜

Also, it's time to order BE MIGHTY shirts again.  As always, these shirts are a free gift from our family.  If you'd like one, please let me know by April 8 (William's birthday).  If you need my email, it's joshalyn@rightpathridingacademy.org.  We will also have a few BE MIGHTY shirts on hand to give away at the trail ride.

Wow!  Lots of t-shirt ordering going on around here.  We just ordered the shirts for the very first WILLIAM'S WALK MEMORIAL TRAIL RIDE.  I look forward to seeing how they turn out.

We are also in the process of ordering shirts for WILLIAM'S WALK at The Right Path.  Deadline is also April 15.

So, if you think about it, say a little prayer for my sanity... 😘

Thursday, March 23, 2017

How Are You?

What a question.

I have 2 options when asked this question.

Option One:  I can put on the show.  Put the wall up.  Smile and give the obligatory, "I'm fine."  Then get out of Dodge.

Option Two:  I can break down, sobbing, and talk about how I feel like such a failure and a fraud.  How it's so hard to hear people tell me how strong I am or how great I'm doing or how much they admire how I've held fast while I just want to scream, "It's all an illusion.  I'm none of those things.  I'm just good at pretending."  I can lament the fact that I am controlled by fear in everything I do now.  There's no area of my life it doesn't touch.  I could tell about how grief has changed me.  How I feel it to my very core.  It's nearly impossible to live with it.  It's more impossible to live without it.

I usually opt for number one.

People expect me to be joyful.  They expect that the hope that lives within me is enough to extinguish the grief.

But it's not.

"Sorrow is knowledge; those that know the most must mourn the deepest." Lord Byron

The grief remains.  Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for the hope.  I cling to it.  But I'm still living this life without my little boy.  I will miss him as long as God gives me breath.  Every moment of every day.  He is a part of me.  That's how God made me.  So I carry the sorrow, just as I carry the love.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Roller Coaster

This week has been very emotional.  I've had extreme highs and extreme lows.

Sarah and I got a new wish child on Friday.  We took a road trip (almost to Missouri) to visit him on Saturday.  Oh, my!  He's a cutie!

On Sunday Vixey died.  Boy, that was tough.  So many memories there.  She was such a sweet little dog.




I turned around on Monday and had a great day!  We took Velvet to The Children's Hospital at OU Medical Center to visit children during their chemo treatments.  Wow!  Was that ever fun!  There were several children that we visited that made the whole trip worth the effort, even if they had been the only one we visited!  One girl, in particular, really struck my heart.  We had already visited a group out in what they call the pod.  They asked if we would mind coming around to individual children in their own rooms.  Of course we didn't!  As we're walking around the corner, a mom is hanging out in the doorway of her child's room, while daughter is sitting, watching TV.  Mom says, "Oh, hey, you have a visitor.  You will NEVER guess who's here."  Daughter, who looks really pale and tired, says, "Oh, Mom, I really don't want to see anyone.  I don't feel..."  Mid-sentence she sees Velvet.  I wish I could have gotten a picture of the look on her face.  She was so happy and excited.  She loved on Velvet for quite awhile and just thought she was wonderful!  Even after we left, as we were visiting other children, I would look over at her cubicle periodically and see her contentedly playing with her stuffed pony that we left for her.  Just made my day!

It was also fun to see all the doctors and nurses make all over Velvet!  We'll definitely have to do that again!

I've spent the rest of the week doing things around the house.  We picked up a bull for Sherrod's cow (borrowed).  Hopefully, he will do his job.  I've been busily preparing for William's Memorial Trail Ride, which is really just in a few weeks.  It is something I absolutely LOVE doing but it is so draining, emotionally, as well.  I have been trying to work out details on a fabulous gift that I want to give away at the ride.  It will be incredible, if I can pull it off.

I really messed up on William's monument.  Long story, short, I applied the wrong kind of wax.  It's been a nightmare.  We didn't know what it was going to do to the patina or if we could even get it off.  I thought it might have to be sandblasted.  Ugh.

Several of us spent several hours scrubbing on it yesterday.  I think it's going to be okay.  We got the face, ears, arms, hands, and front of the shirt completely clean.  The hair is going to take a good, long while, but we lost daylight yesterday.  Some of us are going to go at it again today.  That's incredibly emotional for me, as well.  I just wish he were here.  I wish there were still things I could do to take care of him.  I miss him every moment.

I had a friend tell me the 2nd year would be harder.  In the first year, people understand your tears.  They accept them.  They are still thinking of him.  He's still a part of their lives, too.  But in the 2nd year, the tears begin to make others uncomfortable.  His existence becomes reduced to a memory and his death becomes merely a date on a calendar.  They were able to rip that page off, but it's very much a part of who I am everyday.

I can't say that I am thriving but I am surviving.  Every day.  For now that will have to do.  Some days are harder than others, for no explainable reason.  I still have a hard time with sleep.

One thing has been very helpful to me this year.  In December, I did this thing on FB.  I'm not even sure how I worded it, but the basic idea was that I wanted people who would want prayer.  I ended up with 3 people each month of 2017 that I've committed to pray for everyday.  It's been so helpful.  It's given me a purpose to focus on other's needs when I begin to feel like I'm drowning in my own.  I'm so thankful for those who decided to participate.  It means so much to me.  Thank you!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Joining in the Fight

I have a difficult time dealing with the world around me at times.  It's an odd feeling for me because it's new.  I can't engage in the fight as I used to.  It overwhelms me.

I used to be so zealous.  Everything mattered and I could see a reason to stand up and fight against undesirable things.  Now it's all I can do to stand up on my own two feet and step forward.

There have been so many things going on around me that once I would have jumped in and done my part.  Politics, current issues, government overstep, vaccine mandates, GMOs, etc, etc, etc.  At one time I could have taken a setback and bounced back to fight harder.  Now I just feel defeated.

I look at the erosion of freedoms in our country and I just want to retreat.  Withdraw.  It's discouraging that so many people are gladly accepting and encouraging loss of freedom for their own personal agendas.  I must summon the courage and desire to fight on.  For the sake of those who come after me...

I miss him so desperately.  I miss who I used to be.  I miss the naivety of a life with unmarred joy.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Random

I'm not sleeping again. I don't know why. I was doing pretty good there for awhile.

I find that I enjoy talking to complete strangers, the people who I can pretend with. They don't know that my world has crashed and I can pretend that it hasn't, just for a moment. 


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Even If

This morning (well, actually Wednesday morning) the little children were playing a guessing game to see who knows me best.  They took turns, seeing who could remember the most about me...where I was born, when I was born, where I've lived, my favorite things.

When they got to my favorite hymn, I realized with surprise that it's been 16 months since they've heard me sing my long favorite hymn, "It Is Well."  It's odd because it IS well with my soul, but I still cannot bring myself to sing that song.

It's been awhile since I've posted a song, but this one...this one is perfect.  I needed to post it.

I do know He's able.  I know He can save through the fire.  And when He doesn't, all I can do, all I know, is to trust Him.

Lyrics:
They say sometimes you win some,
Sometimes you lose some
And right now, right now I'm losing bad
I've stood on this stage, night after night
Reminding the broken, it'll be alright
But right now, oh right now I just can't
It's easy to sing
When there's nothing to bring me down
But what will I say
When I'm held to the flame
Like I am right now
I know You're able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don't
My hope is You alone

They say it only takes a little faith
To move a mountain
Well good thing
A little faith is all I have right now
But God, when You choose
To leave mountains unmovable
Give me the strength to be able to sing
It is well with my soul
I know You're able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don't
My hope is You alone
I know the sorrow and I know the hurt
Would all go away if You'd just say the word
But even if You don't
My hope is You alone

You've been faithful, You've been good
All of my days
Jesus, I will cling to You
Come what may
'Cause I know You're able
I know You can
I know You're able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don't
My hope is You alone
I know the sorrow, I know the hurt
Would all go away if You'd just say the word
But even if You don't
My hope is You alone
My hope is You alone

It is well with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

Thursday, February 16, 2017

I Sing You to Me

There's a line that has been playing in my mind.  It's from the movie, Australia.  The main character has fallen in love with a little boy whom she has taken into her heart as her son, but because of bitter circumstances and war, he is being torn from her arms.  She promises him that she will find him, no matter what.  He tells her, "I sing you to me," just like he did when they first found each other.  And he does.  At the height of despair, when all seems lost, she hears his beautiful song and they are reunited.

That is exactly how I feel.  My heart is waiting, always listening for his song...and His song, singing me home.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Flying Kites


What do you do when the winter weather is 76° and incredibly windy?  Take the science lesson outside, of course, and go fly kites! Lift, thrust, weight, and drag is learned much better outside!

We had a great time this week, screaming and running and watching the kites go.
It was so sweet to just enjoy the children and watch them have fun and chase the kites...watch them share and take turns...listen to their sweet voices encouraging one another, helping each other.
I thought of how much William would have loved this.  I imagined him, sitting in his wheelchair, holding onto the kite.  I imagined his siblings, pushing him along as they ran after the kites.  I imagined his laughter, his easy-going patience while he waited his turn.  I imagined his joy from feeling the kite he wouldn't have been able to see, tug and jerk in his hands...his laughter at hearing the other children laugh.

The day was wonderful and hard, all at the same time.  I enjoy my children so very much.  Even through the pain of missing the one.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Abby and Sherrod

Many of you already know about Blaze's Tribute Equine Rescue and the wonderful work they are doing over there.  Every year they do a "Trainer's Challenge" competition where about 18 different horse trainers each pick a horse and take it home for 120 days to work with it, then come together for the competition to show what it can do.  At the end of the competition, the horse is up for adoption, pending approval by Blaze's.  It's a great way for a great horse to find a forever home.  The horse has 4 months worth of professional training ($2800+ value), plus farrier, worming, vaccinations, chiropractor, feed, etc. and the starting bid at auction is only $800!  It's such a great deal!

Last year, Abby won the Youth Division with Prancer, a young mare she absolutely fell in love with.  Prancer was a gem.  She helped Abby so much and they truly became a beautiful team.  Of course, Abby is competing again this year with a beautiful guy named Hooey.

She says that Prancer taught her confidence while Hooey is teaching her patience.  LOL!  He's a great horse, too...just a different personality. πŸ˜ƒ

Sherrod is also entering this year with Sassafras, a sweet little mare.

The girls have formed team t-shirts.  They would have liked to have each had their own, but I told them I couldn't wear 2 shirts to the competition and I wasn't going to wear one over the other.  Neither did I have a desire to go change shirts while keeping up with all the children!  Ugh!  So they came up with this...

If you would like to help support the girls and their challenge horses, you can order a shirt for $25.  This will help care for both horses while they are here.  Please text Abby your order no later than April 15.  If you don't have her number, you can email me and I'll forward it.  Joshalyn@rightpathridingacademy.org

We appreciate your support! 😘

Saturday, February 4, 2017

A Special Treat

I just had to video them singing...so cute!  A couple of days ago, they recorded my favorite verse of their January song:


This morning, they did the whole song:
Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus


Now they're working on He Will Hold Me Fast. πŸ’–

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Hurts Aside...

I've made a decision...

Next week I'm taking William's Cough Assist machine into his doctor's office to donate it to someone who could use it.

I will not cry (in the office)...

I will not say a word about office compassion...

I will not tell him what I think...

I will not tell him what I feel...

I will not remind him that my little boy loved him and thought he was wonderful...

I will not.

I will only think of this little face and how he saw the best in everyone.
















I will think of Mr. N, running hither-thither-and-yon, trying to find that machine after William came off of life support and needed it so badly.

I will think of the countless other friends who have so selflessly sacrificed for William and for the rest of us...who have loved us with their whole hearts.

And I will think of some mother out there, fighting for her baby's life, thankful for technology and the gift of one more day...


Thursday, January 26, 2017

To Keep or Not to Keep

I have never been a sentimental person.  At times it has frustrated my husband over the years, especially because he is very sentimental.  He keeps every little thing.  He has all kinds of momentos from high school through now, from jackets and yearbooks to ticket stubs and name tags from conferences.  Ugh.  I toss it all.  I have literally nothing from my school years except a very few pictures.  No jackets.  No horse show ribbons.  No ticket stubs.  No play bills.  No yearbooks.  No cheerleading or pom uniforms.  No plaques.  No trophies.  I just didn't keep them.  They were not important to me.  On the rare occasion that the children have gone through his things, it's been fun, but even then I did not regret not keeping my things.

And, if I'm being completely honest, it's caused me more than a little frustration when I have to move the mountains of paper, stuff, and junk, yet again, that seem useless to me.  I've thrown away more than one conference name tag and consoled myself that no one is the wiser.  πŸ˜¬

But it's different now.  When I look around at William's things, I'm torn.  I wish I had taken more pictures, more video, but I don't know what to do with the other things.  I feel a great sense of guilt that some things could be used by someone else, but they sit here, doing no one any good.  Yet, I can't seem to let them go.

Of course, some things we passed on pretty quickly.  Like his cochlear processors and Roger kit.  They were such a blessing to him, I just knew someone else had to benefit from those.  And he would have wanted to bless someone with those.  Well, actually, he would have given anyone anything if they needed or even wanted it.  I did keep one processor, though.  I know it's silly.  I have absolutely zero use for it and it makes me feel a little guilty.  But when I open my drawer and see it there, it brings me comfort somehow.

Most of his toys were shared by the other children so they are largely still being used, but I am keenly aware of him as they outgrow them and move on to things more age appropriate.  Some of the things that were expressly his or really loved by him I either put in my drawer, one of the children kept out special, or they remain untouched.  I don't think anyone has ridden in the police car since he left us.  Maybe I have not made enough of an effort to let them know it's okay or maybe it's hard for them, too.

On Sydnee's birthday, the weather was so nice we had the patio door open.  Wallace was looking outside and started crying, out of the blue.  He cried most of the night and was just not himself.  When I asked him what was wrong, he said that when he sees the stars he remembers William and how much William loved to look up at the stars.  We would lie on the trampoline or the hood of the car and just look up and I would describe the sky to him.  I'm not sure how much of it he saw, but I think he could tell there was something there.  He always said it was beautiful.

I don't think the trampoline has been put back up since he passed either.  In some ways, I feel like he just left.  Like yesterday.  How can I be expected to get back to "normal" life already?  But then I look and I realize it's been 15 months.  FIFTEEN MONTHS.  Fifteen months that I have not held that precious boy in my arms or sang him to sleep at night.  Fifteen months since I stopped living, too.  I type this and I think, how can 15 months have gone by without my children enjoying the trampoline?  How can I have let FIFTEEN MONTHS go by without taking them swimming or horseback riding or running around with the police car?

I am just now starting to do some of the things that I used to do.  Just recently have I stepped back into the role of overseer of my home and even that is not as full-fledged as I once was.  I know I'll get there.  But sometimes it feels like with every step forward I leave him behind a little.

So I find myself clinging to his things.  Like...

...his green backpack that he carted all his therapy tools in.  The other day, I found myself so frustrated, I dared not speak when Knox left it outside.  It's now been confiscated and put up in my room.

...his Cough Assist machine, which was so useful to him and SO hard to get ahold of.  I know it could benefit some child and I should donate it.  I want to donate it.  I just haven't been able to bring myself to step into his doctor's office.

...his wrist weights that I made for him to try to help his tremors.

...his soccer socks.  Oh, how he loved those socks!  I bought them to go under his orthotics to protect his legs, but he loved them and insisted on wearing them all the time, even to bed.  I remember striking a deal with him once that if the temperature was over 98° (or something like that), he would not wear his socks.  In the summer, he would get up in the morning with his big grin and say, hopefully, "Mommy, I think it's less than 98° today."  Now I have several pair of soccer socks that sit in my drawer, untouched.

...his medical records and x-rays.  Seriously, what to do with those?  It just doesn't feel right to toss them but it also doesn't feel right to hang onto them for nothing.  Literally, boxes of paper.

...his wheelchair.  We donated his orthotics and PT equipment, but I kept his wheelchair.  I don't know why.  It's not like I'm going to use it.  I know it could benefit someone but I can't seem to let it go.

My heart hurts as Wallace outgrows the clothes that William wore only briefly.

My heart hurts when I walk through a store and see a toy that he would have loved - like an ambulance, police car, or fire truck with lights, sounds, and sirens.

My heart hurts when I buy gifts for the children, like for Thanksgiving and New Year's.  I just could not bring myself to not buy something for him.  I know that's weird but I just couldn't leave him out.  But, of course, it makes no sense to buy him something, either.  So I did what felt right.  I bought gifts that he would like and gave them away.

Maybe someday I will know what to keep and what to give away.

Maybe someday I will not feel like moving forward leaves him behind.

Maybe someday I will not feel guilty for hanging on to his things.

Maybe someday I will not feel guilty for giving his things away.

Maybe someday I will learn to navigate this new life with grace and ease...

But today is not that day.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Stand Up

It strikes me how difficult it is to raise little children along with adult children.  For all of these years I have been engaged in teaching to the littles and I sometimes feel like I'm repeating the same few years of life over and over.

But it's good, too.  To always be viewing life through the eyes of a child.  Sometimes it is the simple things that bring us the most comfort, joy, and peace.

Our family likes to memorize a different hymn every month.  January's hymn is, "Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus."  While several of us knew it already, many of the littles didn't so it was chosen.  I have loved going over it again!  So often I find that the best verses are the ones regularly left out.  My favorite verse of this hymn is verse 4:

Stand up, stand up for Jesus,
The strife will not be long;
This day the noise of battle,
The next the victor's song.
To him that overcometh
A crown of life shall be;
He with the King of Glory
Shall reign eternally.

Amen.

I love singing this everyday!  I find it difficult to get through this verse without tears because it is so full of truth and promise.

This earthly struggle will not last.  Though it seems long, it is but for a moment.  We fight today, as we must continue to do, until the victory is reached and we are with the King of Glory for eternity.

Not only does it remind me that my striving will not last, it also reminds me of the glorious fact that my little boy has overcome.  I look forward to seeing him in his splendor...

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Happy 18th Birthday, Sydnee!

Another adult in the home... How does it happen so quickly?  Yes, the days are long but the years truly are short, indeed!  All the more reminder of why we must be diligent to redeem the time!

Sydnee is so much like her father, always laughing, always joking, always the life of the party!  She was pleased and surprised by her minion cake!

And her new Douglas Bond book... ALWAYS a hit around here!

Sometimes things get a little crazy around here!  It looks like they were playing a game of "Who is the craziest?"

Is it you?

It must be you...

Or maybe you...
When you think it's someone else...

But it's really you...

Fun times!  Love this crazy family!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Life of Job

"Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?" Job 2:10

I love Job.

I have found much comfort in the book of Job over the last couple of months.  I've immersed myself in it.  I'm reading it aloud to the children at night (they picked itπŸ˜€), along with a couple of commentaries and a children's book on Job.  It's been interesting, educational, and uplifting, all at the same time.  I love how interested they are in Job's life and the questions they are asking.

I think one thing that some Christians forget is that grief, though different for Christians, is still very real.  Of course, we grieve with hope and that makes it bearable.  Hope, because Jesus defeated death and all Christians will one day be reunited because of Him.
But we still have the sorrow of being without the one we love.  We still hit milestones without them.  We realize that life here is different than eternal life and how we knew them might be different.  William will never be the little boy sitting in my lap and hugging me again.  That part of his life, and mine, is gone forever and it is hard to let go of.

I've learned a lot over the past 452 days.  My faith has grown.  So has my sorrow.

There was a time I lived in what I call a "naive" faith.  Not that my faith wasn't real.  It was very real. But I had an easy life.  A comfortable life.  I enjoyed the world, perhaps too much.

I now understand what it is to truly long for eternity.  This world is not my home and I am glad of it.  My eternal perspective has become more acute.

I think so often we see people who are continuing life, continuing routine, participating in daily activities and we forget that they're hurting.  It is possible for me to go about my daily business without one person seeing the grief, but it's still there.  Church, home life, school, ministry...it's all still happening but there is not a single moment in any day when my heart doesn't ache with longing to hold my sweet William again.

That's part of why I continue the blog.  I wanted a place to be real.  Sometimes Christians look to others for comfort only to find judgment or condemnation about how we should be responding.  I get that people do not understand, nor would I want them to.  I try to show grace, though admittedly sometimes it's easier than others.  But I also don't want to hurt those who are grieving even more than they already hurt.  When others see me living "normally," I do not wish to give the false impression that the sorrow is gone.  That the pain is not there.  Or even that I am strong enough to bear it.

My love for the Lord has grown through this process of grief, not because of me but because of Him.  I realize I have fewer answers than before, but my faith might be even greater.  He has grown it.  He IS growing it.  There are so many things I don't know, but I hold to the things I DO know.

I know He's good.

I know He loves me.

I know He loves William.

I know William is with Him, in more fullness than I could imagine.

I know He can handle my questions and my sorrows.

I know He will never leave me, nor forsake me.

I know He will see me through whatever path He calls me to walk on this earth, until He brings me home.

And I know that one day He will turn the ashes to beauty. 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The First Week

Well, I made it.  

I actually made it through 2016.  

Without him.  
Only God knows how.  Or why.

I miss his face.  His hugs.  His voice.  His smile.  I miss everything that was William.

New Year's is a big holiday for our family.  It's an occasion of reflecting back on what we did with the time God gave us during the past year: did we redeem the time or was it wasted?  It's also an occasion to give thanks for that time, that wonderful gift that God gives each of us.  And it's an occasion to look forward, to make plans, to think about what we will do with this great gift as God continues to give it. 

I have to admit, much of the time God gave me last year was wasted.

This turn of the year was more difficult for me than the last one.  The turn from 2015 to 2016 was such a fog, but this year I was more acutely aware of how life has changed, never to be what it once was.

I did have a good time with the family during all the hustle and bustle, but I also spent a good deal of the day in tears.  I have been on the verge of tears ever since.

Saying I miss him almost makes me angry.  It isn't sufficient.  It's interesting how words lose their meaning.  I tire of the words "miss" and "grief" because they are so inadequate.  To continue to say I miss him, while entirely true, seems to minimize the actuality of life.

Grief is brutally painful.  Losing a child is not something that can be fixed.  It doesn't go away.  I know I must somehow learn to carry it.  I think I am beginning to learn.  Not to be rid of the pain, but to work through it anyway.

To accept.

We rang in another year without his beautiful face.

I am a year farther away from the last time I held him in my arms.

Someone survived...I just have to get to know her.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Ringing In the New Year 2017

Wow! It doesn't feel like 2017 should be here already! 2016 held so many memories for our family: Abby won the trainer's challenge, Selah was baptized, we went on 2 family trips (Ohio & North Carolina), I went to DC, we all turned a year older, and we celebrated the 1-year anniversary of William flying home to heaven. This first year has been very difficult. We continue to miss him and are grateful for the memories we have and for the new ones we created together.

So...how do the Ockers ring in the new year? With lots of family fun!

Mommy and Daddy got everyone a gift that had something they needed, something they wanted, something to help them grow spiritually, and something fun.


I LOVE the shirts the boys got!

Mommy and Daddy also got group gifts for everyone!


The boys love the spy kit they got and have already wired the kitchen several times! :)



I can't exactly remember what was going on here. Let's just say that Sydnee and I bring laughter to the party! :)



Sarah, you are officially crazy :)
Maybe it had something to do with how excited I was about our group gift...
The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings DVDs!

Our family started a new tradition last year called Ornery Ockers Odditorium. Everyone secretly buys a gift and wraps it. Everyone draws a number with #1 going first. #1 picks a gift to open. #2 can then decide to steal #1's gift or open a new one, and on the game goes until all of the gifts are opened.  The younger children draw names.





We have traditional food/drink that we do every year and this year Abby also made some delicious caramel lava cakes!


Mommy got these fun glasses for the little kids



My sweet, adorable brothers in their new matching pajamas!

Happy New Year, everyone!

posted by Sarah