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I'm a mother of 3 who started blogging as a way to share our many adventures and to expand beyond the everyday "mommy world". While there IS so much more to us mommies than the title, there is very little that doesn't in some way or another lead us back to or influence our children...if anything. So, I hope you enjoy following our family's randomness, because as all moms know- you can never anticipate what tomorrow will bring! Thanks for visiting and have a blessed day! :)

Friday, August 31, 2012

Savoring with Sara

With tear-filled eyes, my words fail me but yet I feel compelled to write.  I just finished watching Sara's funeral service by webcast.  What a beautiful tribute to a remarkable woman.  If you haven't seen her youtube clip yet, it is well worth 14 minutes of your time.  She has impacted countless lives by her love for God and her determination to serve Him.  I'm definitely one of them.

For those who haven't heard, Sara passed away in the early morning hours of August 28th.  So many of us prayed, begged, and pleaded with God to keep her here among us.  Not only for our sakes, but for the sake of her family, her husband, and especially...her children.  Two very handsome and adorable little boys.  They will probably miss her most of all.

I've mentioned before how I knew Sara.  We shared some of the same friends and so our paths would cross on occasions when we were both invited to a party, or game night, or fill-in-the-blank.  I remember her as mostly quiet, perhaps a little shy, but always, always kind.  I, on the other hand, had a tendency to talk too much and to speak without weighing my words first.  I think I had a pretty good head on my shoulders in college, but there was definitely a big dose of crazy mixed in, and I'm not talking about the "wacky, zany, so fun-to-be-around" kind of crazy (although I had a sizable dose of that too, at times).  What I'm referring to now was more like the "whoa, what is wrong with that chick?" kind of crazy.  That side of me tended to come out when I least expected it...well, honestly I never expected it.  (Who does?)  Looking back at Sara though, she always seemed emotionally stable and grounded...comfortable in her own skin.

She didn't fear death, only leaving her family behind.  And even then she knew that they would be taken care of in her absence by family and friends.  Still, mothers are unique individuals and not simply replaced.  Please continue to pray for her boys and her husband as they adjust to this new way of life.

I've learned so much from Sara.  She taught me the importance of savoring each day and each moment.  She showed me, through her battle with cancer and her untimely death, the brevity of life and how none of us are promised tomorrow.  In fact, even as I wrote this my daughter came to me wanting tickles, hugs, and kisses.  I stop now to savor those precious opportunities.  I'm still learning this new habit but I catch myself more and more often weighing everything in light of eternity.  I try to seek God's guidance on when to speak and when to keep silent, not always living up to that challenge but always being challenged by the living.

I feel a special connection to Sara even though we weren't very close.  We were in the same season of life together, the same age raising young kids, both the oldest of 3 children, both having one brother and one sister.  Also, she lost Anna and then received her cancer diagnosis a little more than a year after my brother passed away during a time when I was still fighting my way out of that valley...and her trek was just beginning.  She shares a birthday month with Matt, my brother.  She learned of her cancer on her birthday.  I learned of her cancer only a few days before my brother's would-be 30th birthday.  Sara left this earth on August 28th.  My brother left this earth in August, too.  His birthday falls on the 28th.  These dates may not be significant to anyone else but me.  I've always had a thing with numbers so the irony does not escape me.  The lessons I take away from this "coincidence" are:
  1. Bad things happen to good people.  None of us are immune. 
  2. We are not alone in our struggles.  We need each other.
  3. God speaks to us in a variety of ways to comfort and encourage us (if only we will pay attention).
  4. None of us know how many days we have on this earth and 
  5. God is always present and He cares, regardless of what our circumstances may otherwise suggest.
I'm thankful for Sara and the life that she lived.  I'm thankful that she chose to share her story instead of keeping it hidden.  I'm thankful for her inspiration and will carry that with me for days, weeks, and even years to come.  Thank you, Sara, for teaching us to savor and pointing us to the Savior.  See you in heaven.  Oh!  And tell Matt I love him and look forward to seeing him again! :)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Prayers for Hannah

I can't imagine what it would be like to live without hands and feet.  We so often take our health for granted until it is threatened.  Even something as small as stubbing your pinky toe makes one so aware of that tiny, little toe.  Just think of all the things you do every day that require the use of your hands and feet...typing, baking, cooking, writing, holding, tying, opening, closing, brushing, squeezing, even giving a simple "high-five"...and we haven't even gotten to feet yet.  Imagine what it would be like to NOT be able to do these things.  Now imagine that you're a mom going through this.  Imagine you're a nurse.  Imagine how life-changing this loss would be.  Imagine what it means for your husband and kids as well.

This is what Hannah and her family are facing now.  I first learned of Hannah's illness through my friend, Emily, when she requested that I, along with other blogging friends, take a moment to spread the word and ask for prayers.  So, I'm calling all prayer warriors out there!  Hannah is still in the hospital but currently in stable condition.  Praise God!  Won't you please take a moment to say a prayer and then visit Hannah's facebook page and leave the family a note of encouragement?  As a mom, it's hard to imagine how I would handle all the necessary changes to be made in order for our family to function.  Please pray for Hannah's continued healing both physically, emotionally, and financially.  This will definitely be an ongoing journey for the Rinehart family and if they are anything like me, every morsel of encouragement and support would bring a tiny ray of sunshine to their soul.  Won't you please pray with us on Hannah's behalf?  Thank you.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Mind Over Major

I haven't made a "major" grocery run since July 31st, nearly a month ago.  ("Major" meaning- large and planned with price comps and coupons at the ready.)  For some of you that's not so strange.  Perhaps you typically shop once a month and buy everything you'll need in that one trip, minus an outing or two for extra milk and bread.  Maybe you just don't use coupons.  (Who are you crazy people?! ;))

Anyway, for us this is very unusual.  So far this month, we have only spent $115.83 on groceries.  That's enough to impress me, but consider that that amount also includes a trip to McDonald's and another to Taco Bell and I'd say we're doing pretty good.  Naturally, my frugal-minded husband is pleased with this news.  "See?  I told you we could go longer without another grocery run."  Yes, hon.  Truly, you are the superior gender.  I'm not worthy! (Sometimes a goodhearted "ribbing" doesn't translate well to type, so let me be clear.  This is all playful fun and not to be taken too seriously. :))

Of course, my fellow "couponing" friends know that this could spell disaster later.  After all, I will eventually have to buy groceries and giving up 3 to 4 weeks of items at their lowest price could mean forking over more later and experiencing sticker shock at the register.  Not exactly the goal.  I really don't like the phrase, "You have to spend money to make money," either but in instances like this (as long as you're smart about it and don't go "off-the-charts") it is true.  Spending a little on items now that you'll use later puts more money in your pocket rather than waiting to purchase later when it's not on sale.  (Assuming that it is something you typically use.)  Sometimes you get lucky and even find actual "money-makers" in the store, maybe in the form of rebates, or maybe simply the result of a sale price combined with double or high value coupons.  Everyone loves easy money, right?

Thankfully, I shop at a grocery store that price-matches and many of the grocers in our area carry different sale items at different times, which means my 3 to 4 week respite may not spell disaster for us after all, if I play my cards right.  I have learned a very valuable lesson in all of this, though:
  1. I can get creative in the kitchen and still produce an enjoyable meal.
  2. There is more food in our pantry than I originally thought and most importantly,

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Prayers for Sara

Sara has incredible faith.  She has been through so much and my heart just breaks for her and her family.  They need a miracle.  They truly need a miracle.  I ask that you join me and countless others as we pray without ceasing for Sara's miracle.  (Links to her caringbridge site and personal website can also be found there for more details of her tough battle with cancer and how she's handled each step of her journey.)  Sara gave birth to her precious baby daughter, Anna, shortly before receiving her diagnosis.  Unfortunately, Anna arrived stillborn.  That alone is devastating enough; but to find out only 4 weeks later (by accident) that she had stage 4 colon cancer that had already metastasized to her liver?  How does anyone bear it?  I think Sara would probably say, "Only by the grace of God."  Her faith is truly amazing and such an inspiration.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Three Years Ago Today

Three years ago today, my brother was still alive.  Three years ago today, my brother died.  It doesn't seem like that long ago.  Three years ago today, my family's world turned completely upside down in more ways than one.  I've been thinking about writing a book about our (primarily my) journey.  In honor of Matt's angel-versary, I thought I'd share a small portion with you today.  Warning: it's a dark post and this is only the beginning of the story.  There is hope to come and much of the story has yet to happen, much less be written.  Perhaps some of you have lost a loved one to suicide and can relate.  I hope this helps you, not hurts you.  It's a complicated pain like no other I've ever experienced.  I wouldn't wish it upon my worst enemy...and that's the honest truth.

"He's not ok"

I still remember it like it was yesterday.  As I sat in the library blogging about nothing of importance, the librarian approached me, asked my name and told me to call my husband and that it was an emergency.  I walked to the pay phone, worried about what constituted an emergency, yet kept my cool considering I had our only vehicle and perhaps he was just stranded and needed to get somewhere fast.  I was about to dial collect when Justin walked through the door.  I started to say, “Hey, I just got your message.  What’s going on?” but before I’d uttered two words, he was talking over me and walking right past me into the library.
“Where are your things?”
He made it to my work station before I did and quickly shut my laptop and stuffed it into the bag, not even bothering to turn it off first.  I mistook his distress for anger.  “What did I do?  Why is he so angry?” I thought. 
“What’s wrong?  What’s going on?” is all I could say. 
“I’ll tell you outside.  Not in here.”
We walked out the door and that’s when I spotted my uncle Kenny standing in the parking lot waiting for us.  A wave of panic hit me and I immediately thought of our kids.  “Did something happen to them?  Are they ok?  Oh, God, what has happened?  Please, please let them be ok.”  I stopped abruptly and demanded that Justin tell me what was going on. 
“Justin, what is it?  Why is Kenny here?  You’re scaring me!”  I rarely, if ever, use his first name to address him.
His expression softened, and I could see such sadness in his eyes, like he knew what he was about to say would crush me and he couldn’t bear to see it happen.  He was right. 
Squaring my shoulders with his and looking directly into my eyes he said, “Your mom called.  Your brother tried to kill himself.” 
I don’t even know how to describe the feeling that came over me...but I'll try.  Relief that the kids were ok, immediate guilt for thinking that, shock at what I’d just heard, and the inability to comprehend any of it.  Then something in me broke.  Devastation took over.  I lost control and it literally felt like someone (or something) else took over my body.  I watched myself wailing from somewhere up above and was powerless to silence it.  My legs gave out from under me and I fell to my knees. 
I know everyone inside the library must have heard me and I was thankful that my loving husband had the forethought not to tell me inside.  We sat there on the sidewalk, Justin holding me, as I continued to wail, cry, and panic.  Fear gripped my very heart.  A lady walked past us with a look of concern on her face.  She could tell something was terribly wrong, but that stopping to ask might be considered insensitive or intrusive so she continued on her way, careful not to stare.  Such a small thing, but her compassion is remembered.  I think Justin noticed her too and decided it was time to try to get me to the car. 
So sweetly he asked, “Do you think you can stand up?  Do you think you can walk?” 
He helped me up and, in addition to the heavy laptop case, carried most of my weight as I tried to put one foot in front of the other.  It wasn’t until we were standing next to the car that I processed exactly what Justin had said. 
“Wait!  He tried to kill himself, or he did kill himself?”  Maybe this wasn’t as bad as I thought.  Maybe Matt would be ok. 
With a look expressing a wish to tell me what I wanted to hear, he replied, “All I know is what your mom told me.  That’s all she said.” 
Kenny said nothing.  I suppose I knew then; I just didn’t want to believe it.  If Matt were alive, he would know and he would have told me that he was in the hospital somewhere or something to give me even the slightest bit of hope or comfort.
Justin took the keys from me, helped me into the car, and drove to my grandparents’ house.  Kenny followed.  Shaking, trembling, rocking back and forth in the seat and completely unable to keep still, I pleaded with God the entire way, “Oh, God.  Please let him be ok.  Let him be alive.  Please!  Maybe he’s in a coma, maybe he’s badly hurt but please, please, please!  Say he’s still alive!”  As we neared Nana and Papaw’s house, Justin cautioned me to wait for him before I got out of the car, apparently concerned that I may pass out if I got up too fast.  I didn’t listen, though.  As soon as the car stopped I darted out and ran towards the door.  I ran through the breakfast room, into the kitchen and peered at my grandfather who was standing in the den. 
“Is he ok?!” I asked with a desperation that surprised even me. 
With deep sadness Papaw replied, “No, honey.  He’s not ok.”
And there ended the denial; he was gone.  There was no “Well, he’s in critical condition right now” or “I don’t know, honey, we just have to get to the hospital as quickly as possible and find out” or “Your mom will call as soon as she knows something.”  The translation of my grandfather’s “He’s not ok” was “He is dead.”  How did this happen?  Even three years later it still makes no sense to me.  He can’t be gone.  That’s just not possible…But somehow…It is.  At some point amid a flood of tears, a silence fell and quickly broke with my simple, but impossible wish. “I want my brother back.”

 "God's loyal love couldn't have run out,
   his merciful love couldn't have dried up.
They're created new every morning.
   How great your faithfulness!
I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over).
   He's all I've got left."
Lamentations 3:22-24
The Message

God has remained faithful and ever-present with us on this journey and I hope to have the opportunity to share some of those instances with you in time.  He is, and has been, our help in times of trouble.  His faithfulness endures forever.  He is, and has been, our calm among the storm.  His faithfulness endures forever.  We will take heart, for He has overcome the world and nothing is impossible with Him!  His faithfulness endures forever.  Trouble will come, but joy comes in the morning!  His faithfulness endures forever. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this.  May you be encouraged and blessed today.