Monday, October 31

:: Happy Halloween! ::

Pop G and Nana P visited us this weekend and we had lots of fun. Parrish's favorite activity? Carving a werewolf pumpkin with Pop G.
He said the "hairy inside" of the pumpkin "looks like brains."
They worked hard and it turned out really cute.
When we got home from our neighborhood Boofest movie in the park, we walked up our sidewalk to see the fruits of their labor. A very cool and spooky werewolf pumpkin!
I was glad to have the distraction of visiting with them to keep my mind off everything. The Halloween activities we did with both Olivia and Parrish last year are nearly impossible for me to do this year. I tried so hard to go to our church truck-or-treat yesterday afternoon, but I couldn't get all the fun things we did with her there last year out of my mind. Those are some of the last pictures we took of her. It's just too much.

Halloween tonight will be hard. I am thankful though that we are in a new, awesome neighborhood with great, supportive friends who we can make new memories with. I don't think there is any way I could have gone trick-or-treating in our old neighborhood tonight. The sights and sounds are all too familiar to bear without her when she walked those steps with us last year.

Last night my devotional was exactly what I needed to read. I opened the book and at the top of the page it said:

"Let us run with patience." Hebrews 12:1 (KJV)

My patience level is stretched to it's maximum capacity with several worries laying heavily on my mind this week. The commentary in the book went on to say "We are called upon to bury our sorrows not in restful inactivity but in active service - in our workplace, while shopping, and during social events - contributing to other people's joy. No other way of burying our sorrow is as difficult as this, for it is truly what is meant by running "with patience." Especially the last few weeks I feel like I have been barely putting one foot in front of the other, wishing that I could just hide and not have to "do" life for just a day. To succumb to the overwhelming sorrow in my heart. I needed to read that "the power to perform your daily tasks with deep sorrow in your spirit is a Christlike thing." I don't feel very Christlike. But even when I feel lost and far away from God - not understanding or liking His plan - He is with me - there is no other explanation for why, even with the hole in my heart and the stresses of this life - I could still be running (not always with patience-but I am trying!)

I want to thank so many of you for reaching out to me this week wondering what you can do to ease the pain of the one year mark of loosing Olivia this Sunday. Truthfully there is nothing you can do - I wish there was. It is a day we will spend quietly with each other, remembering Olivia in some special ways. The ladies of our church are having a redbud tree delivered to us this week in memory of Livy. We plan to plant it in our side yard, in a spot I can see out my kitchen window several times a day. In the spring it will bloom pink and remind us of Olivia's bright light still living in this dark world.

Thank you friends for loving on us in this and many other special ways on a daily basis. We love you all and ask that you pray God's peace and hope over us this week.
I hope you all have fun trick-or-treating tonight!

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Sunday, October 23

:: Make like a Heron & Fly above the Clouds ::

A week and a half ago my grandmother "Glorio" went to UAB for scheduled back surgery and afterward they could not get her blood pressure or oxygen levels stabilized. She spent the day in recovery and the night in ICU where critical care had to be called several times. When I spoke to Grandaddy E the next morning he said that they almost lost her overnight. I wasn't prepared to walk into the ICU that day and see this normally spunky, full-of-life woman who has loved me all my life in the state she was in. She had a breathing tube and monitors and cords everywhere. She couldn't talk, and she was so miserable and in so much pain she wrote on a tablet that she wanted to go and rock Olivia in heaven. I just laid my head on her chest and cried. Cried because on one hand I could not stand the thought of loosing her. On the other, because I would love for Olivia to be rocked in her arms. Arms that I know and trust and love and that I know will love her the way I would have until I can get there myself. That first day was the worst. So many ups and downs-so many questions about her condition. I really cannot believe that as I type this Glorio is back at home recovering. There were times I didn't think she would leave the hospital. In 7 days in the hospital she improved enough to walk briefly with a walker and eat and drink on her own. Her bp issues were due to a very rare interaction with the bp medications she takes at home. She has a long road of recovery in front of her-her body went through so much. But each day I visited the hospital I saw more and more of her return the more and more energy and strength she gained. I know that will continue. She is one tough cookie that gave us one big scare! Please keep her in your prayers. And get well soon, Glory!!
Saturday we had our last soccer game of the season. I'm still not positive whether the kids liked the soccer or the promised playground time afterward best. Parrish wasn't all that interested at the beginning but by the end of the season we saw lots of improvement in interest AND skill in all of the kids on their team.
Of course it helped that Kaden was on the team.
And further helped that "Mr." Gentry and Cannon were the coaches. They spent a lot of time picking kids off the ground, brushing them off, drying their eyes, tying their cleats or lining them up. If not for the whistles they blew I think some kids would still be kicking a soccer ball down Valleydale Road.

I think Parrish liked kicking the ball back in bounds the best. He wasn't all that interested in getting mixed up in the "fray" of the pack to try to get to the ball during the game. Turns out he doesn't like to get knocked down or pushed around (and who does??)
We played aganist his buddy Cade whose Daddy David is a coach of the other team. This picture was taken after David was rubbing in their opposing goal. I can honestly say I don't know who won the game but I can promise you that if you ask David he will tell you the specific final score, all the while giving me a hard time. :)
The team picture minus Luke, Kennedy, and Britton. Go Thunder!!
After the game we headed to the river cabin to meet up with Karl, Nancy, Trotter and Collier. It had been WAY too long since we had seen each other. Busy summers and the pain of going places we always traveled together without our Olivia seemed to keep us apart more than we would have liked over the last several months. We were so glad to have a new place to make many new memories together. They are such precious friends and have endured this tragedy with us every step of the way.
As much as I love this picture, when I look at it I can't help but think that there is someone missing. Olivia would have laughed so hard at these silly boys having fun all weekend. I can imagine her running alongside Collier squealing and trying to be like the big kids.
Parrish and Trotter had the most fun I've seen two boys have outside ever (don't worry-I took this picture and then took their s'more roasting forks turned swords away so no eyes would be lost!) But you've just gotta love their stances. Shortly after I took this picture they both informed us that they want to take karate class. Until then, they were making up their own moves.
Wrestling was another favorite this weekend. They would swing each other around and fall to the ground, all while laughing hysterically and telling us to come and sit in the front row to watch the wrestling match they were proudly putting on. I really thought there was no way that would go on long without someone hurting someone else, but to my surprise, they were the most polite wrestlers I've ever seen. Trotter would throw Parrish to the ground and then say, "Are you ok? Can I help you up?" They played so well and so long. I think they ran the long drive to the cabin back and forth at least 50 times while we were there. Needless to say they slept like rocks and were asking to go to bed early last night.
Last October we took a trip to Highlands together and Collier and Olivia sat and played side-by-side in the cabin. Nancy and I had (I'm sure, unrealistic) dreams of setting them up on a date one day and maybe even planning their wedding. It's such a bitter reminder of all the things we will miss with Olivia - that this is not the way it was supposed to be. Collier won't even remember Olivia, and yet he was supposed to grow up with her.

With the one year anniversary of Olivia going to heaven fast approaching it seems that each day gets harder for me. Her absence is felt more keenly each day, and the permanence of missing her sits like a heavy rock in the pit of my stomach. Looking at these pictures is torture - why can't I just reach inside them and pick her up? I just want to hold her, see her walk, hear her laugh, brush her hair, smell her skin. I just want her to be mine. I don't want to share her with the one who made her. Selfishly, I want her here with me. In my soul I have great HOPE that we will be together again, but that doesn't diminish the hurt we feel now.

I keep this verse printed on a notecard on my dashboard and read it throughout the day:

He will...provide for those who grieve in Zion to bestow on them a crown of beauty for ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.
Isaiah 61:3

I cling to this promise. I long to see the light at the end of our long tunnel. A reason for joy. I'll be honest-our patience often times runs thin. But I know in my heart that these are truths and I just try to hang on.

While we were at the River we went on a boat ride and first noticed a beautiful Blue Heron that we seemed to scare into flight with our noise. Then a little further down river we would see him again. Eventually he was waiting on us back at the cabin perched on a branch at the water's edge. As the sun went down he would appear again, the same this morning and at lunch as we were cooking out. The heron made so many appearances, it prompted me to take this picture.

For fun I thought I would include the picture in this post, and that got me wondering about it's symbolic meaning. So I did some research online and read this:

During medieval times, herons were thought to fly above the clouds to avoid getting rained on. This supposed habit led them to become symbols of the righteous who avoided the storms of this world by placing their hopes and treasures in heaven.

I think God was trying to tell us something. I am thankful for a God who would send us a message in this way, and who would cause me to be still enough and curious enough to realize it.

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Thursday, October 13

:: Halloween Goop! ::

A lot of the fun of this time of year for us is doing fun, kid-friendly and holiday-themed projects. As I was perusing pinterest for free Halloween printables I somehow stumbled across a cute blog with the recipe for "slime", or what Parrish and I call "Goop". Knowing this would be right up his alley, I hatched a plan to make lots of the slimy stuff for his preschool classmate's Halloween happy and yesterday we gave it a whirl.
There are only a few ingredients:
-1 tsp Borax (you can find this in the laundry detergent aisle of your grocery store)
-4 oz (one small container) ELMER'S glue (don't try to cheat like I did and buy the cheap stuff from Wal-Mart...I promise it won't work every time if you do!)
-1 1/2 cup water, divided
-Food coloring in your choice of color (we used neon to make the colors super-scary)

You'll also need two small mixing bowls and two separate spoons.

Here's what you do:

Step 1: Mix together 1 tsp Borax powder with 1 cup of the water and stir until well disolved.
Step 2: In a separate bowl, mix together 4 oz Elmer's school glue (you can use the clear or white, but I think the color is prettier with the white) and 1/2 cup water. Stir until smooth, then add food coloring to desired color. We found that with the cheap glue we had to use blue or purple only-the green and orange for some reason wouldn't turn out, so we finally bought some Elmer's glue and any color would work.
Step 3: Stir the food coloring into the glue and water mixture until well combined.
Step 4: Pour the Borax mixture into the glue mixture and watch the magic while you stir! You'll immediately see it start forming a solid, gooey mass.
Step 5: When you can stretch it with the spoon, gather the blob in your hands and drain the remaining liquid from the bowl.

Step 6: Return the blob to the bowl and let your littles smush, smash, squeeze, and stretch until their heart's content.

Step 7: Store in an air-tight container indefinitely.

We did several batches (I found that I could get two decent portions from one batch) and placed them into small ball jars. I printed some free Halloween stickers from The Twinery here, and stuck them to the jars and then tied them with super scary (and kinda cute) skull & crossbones ribbon. We'll send these in for each of Parrish's classmates at their Halloween party. I think I'll print out the recipe for the goop and send it in as well.

Parrish really, really LOVED this project. I would have loved it a lot more if I had bought Elmer's glue from the beginning and didn't have so many failures! :) Learn from my mistake and start with the good stuff.

Have fun!

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Wednesday, October 5

:: Help Others to Help the Pain ::

Yesterday was a really emotional day for me. Some days are just like that. The minute I open my eyes I want to go back to sleep and forget that this is my life. I want to hide in bed all day and go back to the blissful, unaware state of sleep. Thankfully I don't have a choice but to get up and struggle through the day. Working out helped, but that doesn't mean I wasn't crying while I was doing it! And of course, everywhere I went there were tons of PRECIOUS, PRECIOUS babies which made the gaping hole in my heart tear open even wider. (Note to self, if having a very bad day, don't go to Target-babies are everywhere!)

Then last night as I was lying in bed I started flipping through my devotional book (The One Year Book of HOPE, by Nancy Guthrie) and stumbled across a page with the title, "One Thing to Help the Pain." Desperately needing some salve for my hurting heart I read on and this is the verse she expanded on:

"Don't think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing." Phillipians 2:4

I had been overwhelmed with all we've had to do with the move, Olivia Charles Antiques, the foundation, and prayer pagers for several days, but on Sunday I took a time out and left everything around me in chaos to sit down and mail the pagers to our next recipients. In writing letters to each of them and sitting to pray and think about their different struggles, I felt the peace that comes with putting the menial, unimportant stuff on the back burner to minister to others in the name of Christ. Then a few days later I read that devotional verse and I realized that sometimes the best thing you can do to ease your pain is to love and serve others unselfishly.

So with that in mind, I am posting the names and numbers of the newest prayer pager recipients.
  • 334-705-9216 - Cindy Shafer - she lost her husband Shelby in a boating accident and has three young children
  • 334-705-9217 - Jacob Dubois - a precious 3-year-old boy battling Pre-B Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) - visit his caring bridge site here
  • 334-705-9218 - Donna Brown - mom to one of our dearest friends Karl - was diagnosed with colon cancer recently - she is doing both chemo and radiation now with surgery to follow
  • 334-705-9219 - Lauren Nickles - mom to 2 very young children who is battling a very aggressive and rare form of cancer called Desmoplastic Small Cell Cancer with round blue cells - visit her caring bridge site here
  • 334-705-9220 - Elliot Williams - mom to two precious young children and friend of mine from our days working at Southern Living who is battling ovarian cancer - visit her caring bridge site here
The 800 number to dial and page all of the pagers at once is: 1-800-684-0998, when the voicemail message begins, dial 111# and then hang up.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Phillipians 4:6

Monday, October 3

:: Birthday Boy & Babysitting ::

Cannon turns 34 tomorrow so over the weekend I organized a skeet shoot for him and his buddies at Selwood. Afterward we met at the Prickett's river cabin for football watching and dinner. It was so much fun being at the cabin. CC has been busy decorating it and it is full of charm. Exactly what you'd expect from a cute, little get away in the country. I'm pretty sure our friends would each buy a parcel of the land and build a cottage if Jack would let them.
We had a bonfire sans the chimenia - sorry, CC! Guess that spot in the grass is going to be there permanently. My pyro-maniac husband picked the perfect spot. Next time we're there we're going to at least have to put some rocks around the ring of fire!
Me & the birthday boy!
After dinner the guys put on a pretty spectacular fireworks show courtesy of Grandaddy Jack. He stopped on the way up from Florida and got some AMAZING fireworks. I'm thinking 4th of July at the cabin is going to be lots of fun in the years to come.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the percolator vs. drip pot discussion we all had. It is a family joke that I don't like the percolated coffee the Pricketts make because there are always grounds in the bottom of my cup. Well, wouldn't you just know that all of our friends oooo'd and ahhhh'd over that percolated coffee? So of course I had to tell them about the grounds and Jenn snapped a picture for documentation. Guess it's just a matter of preference, huh? :)
Cannon blew out the candle on his camo cake that Parrish and I made. I love that in this neighborhood you can walk down to Jimbo's grocery store and buy a cake mix, pull out some red and green icing left over from Christmas and voila! an instant bday cake without ever having to leave the hood!
This morning Parrish and I got the distinct pleasure of babysitting Miss Anna Michael. Her mommy (my friend Leslie) had to take her older sister to a tv appearance so we got to take her to MDO. Parrish woke up this morning talking about having her over. He was worried that we didn't have any girl toys-lucky for us, if it was shiny, made noise, or could be chewed on, she was very content! I told Leslie if she knew just how excited we were to have a baby in the house she might not have left her. We would seriously adopt (steal) her in a minute! It was good to have my arms filled with a baby girl. It reminded me of how great Parrish was with Livy and how much he misses having a sister in the house. He has been through so much. I feel like he's been struggling with lots of emotions lately-anger, sadness, jealousy, etc. I don't know if it's just regular 4-year-old stuff or if all the change and trauma in his life over the past year is finally being displayed with some good old-fashioned defiance. I try to be sensitive and remember all that has happened to him over the last year. I remind myself that he is becoming his own little man and struggling with authority and discipline is just a part of that. Please pray for us as we shepherd his little heart. Pray that it won't become hardened. Pray that we can, "train him up in the way he should go; so when he is old, he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6 This is not easy-we are dealing with so many ups and downs on a daily basis that sometimes just to hold ourselves together and survive is all we can do. Only the Lord can give us the strength and patience and endurance we need to run this race set before us. And we are humbly, fully, completely dependant on His mercy and grace.

I've just mailed out 5 (yes, 5!) more pagers. I will blog the individual numbers and prayer needs soon so you can pray and page. Thank you for helping us in this ministry.
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