I LOVE this time of year. The excitement, the hustle and bustle, and I LOVE shopping for people. I love picking out gifts for people and thinking about what they will enjoy. This weekend (tomorrow in fact) Richard and I will leave the kids with my parents and spend the entire day shopping. And because I know how much my sweet husband does not care for shopping, I've overdone it a little on the organizing the day part. I've got a spreadsheet of the stores, what order to go to them in, and what to get at each store. Added to the spreadsheet are the appropriate discount coupons and codes. It's a sickness. I can't help it. Then we'll get to enjoy a nice dinner and night out. I look forward to this every year!
When that phrase comes to mind I think life. New life. 9 months of wonder. Making plans and God creating and molding. 9 months of development for a new tiny being. Excitement, joy, and so very anxious to hold this new person in your arms.
But the phrase 9 months today, means 9 months without the physical presence of a mother, daughter, sister, wife, and friend. 9 months without Jenny.
But this past 9 months HAS been about wonder, development, and molding. Anxious to feel and new found joys. A new life. Mine.
Just one without Jenny.
Well maybe not without, just temporarily postponed.
9 years ago today, God gave me a gift I daily do not deserve. The blessing of being a Mom. It is a gift that encourages me, strengthens me, challenges me, scares me, and blesses me. I could have never guessed how much joy and growth would occur within 9 years of time.
I have many identities but a favorite is being Ashlyn's mom. She is smart, funny, outgoing, kindhearted, generous, empathetic, talented, loving, hardworking, and she is mine.
Sweet Ashlyn, your smile is contagious. Your joy lights a room and I pray that your light never fades. You are a wonderful example to me of happiness and excitement. Your giggle brightens my life and I'm so thankful for all the special smiles we share. Your sensitive heart speaks to me and while I don't have all the answers to all of life's questions, you take my limited knowlege and wisdom in like a sponge and are always searching to understand. I pray that your enthusiasm for learning never slows and that you search the Word and God's heart with the same zeal. I will never be the perfect Mom, but I pray every night that God will cover those mistakes with his Grace and Love. Ashlyn, I will fight for your faith with every breath I take. That you see Jesus in me and know I seek him even in the midst of my mistakes and fumblings. God has given you great gifts. You heart is amazingly kind. I smile when I see you run into church to see your friends and then you stop to hug some of the Elderly in church. You make them smile and I love how you care for them. You take after me with your love for reading. I love that we share that and I love picking out books that I know you'll enjoy. You have an amazing athletic ability. Very few can outrun you and I love to see your concentration when you play any sport. You have a natural talent that surprises any who watch you and I pray you can use that to God's glory. I love to hear your sweet voice sing. I love to watch you sing and dance and I love to hear you sing along with your ipod. You have no idea we are listening but it softens my heart. Thank you for being open with me and confessing things to me that are difficult to say. Please know that you can always come to me and talk. No matter what it is, I will not love you less. While part of me is sad to see this time slipping through my fingers, I can't wait to see the plans God has already made for you. Plans for your future and plans to bring him glory. I love you sweet girl.
What a wonderful day! It was filled with mixed emotions but there was HOPE and it blessed me.
We spent a wonderful day at church and then to my parents. We decided to ditch the traditional ham and my Dad grilled us AWESOME steaks. You can definitely tell it's a holiday when the dessert dishes outnumber the dinner/lunch dishes~
Just a glimpse of what the kids and I worked on for our Easter treats!
Richard and I went away for the weekend. It was a wonderful 2 days filled with rest and relaxation and wonderful down time. I'm so thankful for Richard and the patience and support he has shown.
In truth, I'm not enjoying this season right now. So many things I'm reading and learning. I've learned what "lament" really means. What mourning feels like. And I understand all the traditions that went along with mourning and why. I wouldn't have to explain my sadness if there were an outward symbol of this. My days are filled with sadness, memories, and self/spiritual discovery. A lot of which in myself needed to be priorized and pruned anyway. I'm not pretending happiness with the kids anymore, it's become much more genuine. I can't say I'm ready to dance and say I'm filled with joy, but I do think I'm on my way.
It's been one month. The longest month I've ever known. A month of questioning, crying, waiting, changing, praying, living, and hoping.
It's still hard to believe our Jenny has been transformed. I still can't/won't think of her in death. For to know Jenny and to be in Jenny's presence screamed LIFE. I know that is true right now. Jenny is LIFE. And it helps to think she's been transformed. And that there's a someday. And it may be soon. I can only hope.
Little did I know when Jenny sent me a messsage a couple days before she became ill telling me to get ready and pick the dates for our mini vacation in the summer that it would not come to pass. And that hurts.
A month ago today I sat in a hospital room surrounded by Jenny's loved ones begging for her life. I pleaded for God not to make me mourn for his Glory but to celebrate his choice to let her live. I felt the presence of God as prayers and love were poured over her. I heard the sound of hearts breaking. It is a groan that cannot be spoken, a feeling of suffocation and the sensation of being in a vise. It is the true definition of pain. In that moment I also felt a peace. I understand a peace that defies understanding and yet with it a pain so strong that you cannot breathe.
and I will not forget. I will not forget those moments nor will I forget the reasons for that moment. I do not know the why, but I do know the who.
I have no title for this blog. Nothing seems to capture the memories that flood my mind today.
Ashlyn was born on Malaya's first birthday. They have been the cutest friends since. Jenny actually came to spend some time with me while in labor. I had been given a shot of some relaxing medicine which had an adverse effect. Jenny prayed over my labor and birth and I had the giggles. Which turned into guffaws, tears and all. Jenny got her cute laugh going and I can still hear that laugh when I close my eyes. I pray I never forget that sound.
Ashlyn told me last night as I was praying with her before bed that on Sunday she had gone outside to get in the car for church and the sun was shining. She said she had to look up at the sky and she KNEW Jenny had smiled at her. I do believe she did.
I'm still just so sad. I have so many thoughts, some profound, some not even intelligible. And many, many memories. They just creep up out of nowhere.
I miss that girl like crazy.
I never thought I would ever have to write a "memorial" blog about one of the sweetest people in my life. To try and sum up feelings, conflicting emotions, and a crushed heart is almost impossible to articulate in black and white. Jenny was much more than that. I guess I should start at the beginning...
Richard and I moved to Texas in January of 2000. After visiting churches for a month or so, we walked in to Mesquite. It was home. That immediate feeling of belonging. I sat in on Beverly's Wednesday night classes. I fell in love. Not only with her, but with the God that she loved. She told me that she had a daughter and husband and that she was really trying hard to get them to move to Mesquite. And that if they did, we would be fast friends. Oh, how right she was.
Jenny, David, and Malaya did move to Mesquite. We IMMEDIATELY hit it off. Oh how we could laugh. They had just moved into their first rental in Mesquite (is it sad I still remember the address?) and had us over for dinner. We had fajitas, David's homemade salsa and chips, and her "sin" dessert. We did small talk for a while and asked questions like, "What did you do in college?", What's your favorite restaurant?" and things like that. Until I asked Jenny "Did you ever play sports". David choked, Jenny spit out her sweet tea, and they both laughed until they cried. Oh what a sweet memory.
That's all I can do for now. But I have 10 more years to work through.