Sunday, December 5, 2010

Psalm 10:17

With such a heavy heart I begin this post.
In the title of this blog, I decided to reinforce God's promise from Psalm 10:17: "You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry"
    I remember being blissfully ignorant of the ups and downs of life when I was younger and hearing about the Holiday "blues." I wondered (briefly, without much deep thinking about it) why Thanksgiving/Christmas are a sad time for a lot of people. To say I now understand about those "blues" now is such a ridiculous understatement. I am grateful God has healed me to this point, however, almost two years after the accident, that I can proclaim with such joy in my heart that I am happy. I can have such light-hearted moments now with family and friends that it blows me away at how far I've come, only with God's help, from the darkest days of my life. Yes, for the rest of my days on earth I will miss Thomas and some days will continue to be harder than others, but I have such hope for the future, and faith in God's promise for my children's happiness that I can hold on to it with both hands and praise God.
   Yet, with the news of another young husband and father in our community being taken away to heaven in the prime of life this past Thursday, I feel like I'm reliving some parts of those dark days. I'm "going" back there on purpose though, because I know first hand how much Tara Newby helped me through the hardest of times and I want to do the same for Stacy Waller. I'm not sure yet what God has in store with how I can help or what she needs, but I'm keeping my ears and heart open to find out. I do not personally know Stacy, but through Facebook I saw that we have several mutual friends who I consider very close friends. She has three children ages 4 and younger.
   Since the two year "anniversary"(there's not a good word for it) is approaching for our family and Kimberly's one year mark of Hannah entering heaven being this week, she and I had already been doing lots of reflecting on the past. With Stacy's story coming to me this Thursday as well, I just have to rely on what I've learned to move through the days right now. Even when it doesn't feel like God is with us, we've already made the decision to believe God and choose to believe He is with us. I choose you, God. Your love endures forever, no matter what happens.
  I rarely have writer's block when God leads me to post on my blog, and it's not that I have a block, but I just can't get past the pain right now as I write this. For the Waller family, for the Crumby family, the Culp family and for all of us learning to live with terrible loss.
  Yet, life keeps going. I know it amazed me when I realized the world didn't stop when my husband died. And now I'm on the other side, Stacy's world has crumbled and I continue with my life: going to church, eating lunch, making plans for tomorrow...and I almost feel guilt. I don't know what that is called, ironic? blessed?
Ironic because I have been there and now I am here? Or blessed that life doesn't stop and one day life will go on for her as well?? So many emotions...
 Thank you, God, that I don't have to figure it all out. We are not called to be omniscient! We can keep it simple as possible and realize the nitty-gritty: Life is full of joy and sadness and everything in between and You have given us a relatively short time here on earth to persevere through it until we all meet our end. I'm so thankful you gave us the bible as a roadmap through life and as an example of how to live to get there.
A friend told me about this song shortly after the accident and I've posted the lyrics before. This October I noticed Caroline singing along to this in church while we all sang together and when we got home I tried to capture it on video.
I am pursuing faith like a child as Caroline does...Lord, you'll never let go.
 "You'll Never Let Go" by Matt Redman (Click for his version)
Whom then shall I fear?
Whom then shall I fear?
Oh no, You never let go
Through the calm and through the storm
Oh no, You never let go
In every high and every low
Oh no, You never let go
Lord, You never let go of me
And I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on
A glorious light beyond all compare
And there will be an end to these troubles
But until that day comes
We'll live to know You here on the earth
  • Please be specifically praying for Stacy and Kimberly and their families this week. I get chills when I remember vividly how I felt your prayers during the hardest of times.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Thankful for my blog readers! (Plus a Giveaway!)

I'm so thankful this holiday season, it's hard to know where to start! I'm taking time to dedicate this post to my faithful blog readers!! Your comments and prayers over the last two years has been more help to me than you might realize. At times when I wasn't sure how to vent or express my feelings, my blog and the comments from readers were there to lift me up each time. The comments from the last post have encouraged me and made me come to realize even more that God can use any situation, no matter how terrible, to bring people closer to Him. What's amazing is that being "closer to Him" and giving Him the glory means we get to reap benefits such as a life filled with contentment, happiness and most importantly: Meaning! Our lives mean something! Even though we talk all the time about how short our time on Earth is, we are sowing values and love that continue in our children for generations. Our bible study, Breaking Free, has us think back through our family lines to determine who laid the foundation for where (and who) we are today. I'm blessed to have several family members contribute to my path to finding a real relationship with God, but when I think as far back as I can, I only remember one Great Grandmother since the others had passed on before I was old enough to remember, but I know someone must have put the love of the Lord in her heart and I pray thanks to God for whoever those "ancestors" were. In just a few short generations our names may be forgotten, but our legacies live on. I'm determined to instill the same values in my children so that God will be praised in our family long past the day I enter heaven!
Since the accident I have felt guilt because I haven't thanked every single person for what he or she has done for me.e I understand it's a silly guilt (I'm working on giving it to God, I promise!) However, a friend of a friend (Thanks, Misty and K.C.!) contacted me about a giveaway I could do on my blog! My first thought was, HOW FUN! My second thought was: Here's a very tiny way I can say "THANK YOU" to my fellow (local) bloggers! (So sorry for my out-of-town blog friends. Maybe I can come up with something for you all soon!) I've never done anything like this before, so I hope I don't mess it up!...
This coming Friday and Saturday there is a very special boutique show happening at the Springdale Arkansas Holiday Inn Convention Center. It's special because it's a shopping experience where all of the 130 merchants are moms with small businesses! The show is free on Saturday the 20th from 9am to 6pm, but I think the real fun will be Friday, November 19th from 5:00pm-9:00pm at the "Girls Night Out" Preview Shopping Event which will have live Christmas music, door prizes, candy buffet and shopping! It costs $10.00 a ticket at the door, but for a lucky reader of my blog it will be free for you and a friend! I have two tickets to give away to the event. I'm really excited about going and if a reader wins whom I haven't met yet, maybe we can meet there! Just leave a comment on this post! Make an additional comment on this post if you link me in your own blog and you'll have two chances to win! The deadline is this Wednesday at noon and I'll either mail them or hand deliver them to you! If your blog ID doesn't have an email address linked to it, come back here to see if you've won! Good luck!
PS One of the merchants is Lanning Photography and Amber Lanning is an amazing woman and a gifted photographer (see pic below she took of me and my seweet baby T!)

CONGRATULATIONS, ERIN! I used a random number generator and she won the tickets! I'm excited to meet you!
I wish I had tickets for everyone! If you buy online the tickets are discounted to $8 a piece. The Saturday event is free!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

God is Love

I've started and stopped this post in my mind at least one hundred times. (I don't exaggerate unless I tell you I am so that you'll believe me when I state numbers.)
Someone mentioned to me they had noticed I hadn't updated my blog in a while. It's because I know I cannot post again until I post this one...

I'd like to ask everyone to say a prayer right now to have an open heart and mind as you read my thoughts in this post.
God has blessed me immensely over the last months. I mentioned in my last couple of posts how the process of healing will go on forever, but God has allowed me to be joyful again. I got to the point that I honestly told God, "Okay, you and me, God. We're going to raise these children to be amazing adults and I have complete faith that I can do this alone (with You.)" I truly believed this and felt the bondage of fear for my sweet children's future fade away. I felt the fear of being a single mom fade away. I felt the sharp edge of the pain I felt for what their dad was missing as our children grew before my eyes, dull to a manageable sadness that had a more pronounced happiness as I understood more and more that Thomas is not sad. He is complete in heaven, where we all will be one day.
"And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died." 1 Thessalonians 4:13 - 14
The overwhelming emotion that came with the release of fear and apprehension was love and joy. I had several books with titles describing Joy after Mourning, joy comes in the morning, and every other combination, but I didn't understand how I could ever feel joy when I was in the throes of grief. Yet, the bible proved itself to me again. It is true--a surrendering of our worries and fears to God leaves us with a security in Him. I'm so glad I now have relieved my friends, family, co-workers and even my children the responsibility of my "secure-ness". It's not their job to make or keep me happy. (You all can thank me later ;-) )
"Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return. They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness." Isaiah 51:11 
  So, I come to the next chapter of my life.
I have thrown myself into the author Angela Thomas' (My Single Mom Life) philosophy of becoming the most amazing moms we can be with God as the leader of our lives. I'm involved with three ongoing bible studies and each one has taught me an incredible amount about how and why God works in our lives and what matters most in this life. 

"So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold -- though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world." 1 Peter 1:6 - 7
I was content and ready to live my single mom life with God helping me raise my sweet kids.  We were going to be not just "ok," we were going to be amazing! I also felt after going through GriefShare counseling for two semesters and hearing them talk about dating after being widowed that maybe in 20 years or so I'd think about dating.
So along came Tyler King.
The strange thing is...he's sort of always been around.
He ran in a circle of friends in our same christian campus group (Razorbacks for Christ) that was just different enough from my own that our circles only seldom intersected. Thomas and I definitely knew and respected Tyler from seeing him teach and attend our church for years, but we did not know each other.
Early this summer our paths crossed a few times when our small groups from church intersected.
There really is not another way to say it, but after hanging out several times with our mutual friends I woke up one morning and I felt like God had literally flipped a switch in my heart and a rush of emotions came over me for him!
I was shocked and excited and nervous. I kept it completely to myself for a couple of weeks because I wanted to make sure these were real feelings and that they were really specifically for Tyler and not just the thought of dating or something else going on. Finally, I decided I needed outside perspective and confided in my sister. I waited until I was driving us somewhere together so I didn't have to look her in
the eyes. (I just knew she would tell me in an unintentionally patronizing way, "Oh it is too soon...just be patient...he's a great guy but..." But oh no, she did nothing of the sort.
I started it with just "what do you think about Tyler and I together?" she sat
quietly for a few seconds and then with tears in her eyes said "Bonnie, this
will sound crazy, but God told me a long time ago that you and Tyler would be
together and it would be great."
(Before I go any further, please realize we aren't usually the get a "burning bush" sign from God kind of people...)
I about had to pull the car over.
I asked her to explain and she said that she was so distraught for me and my
kids that she took it to God and He comforted her with that thought. That Tyler
and I would be together.
I prayed hard about it and I knew I needed to talk to Tyler about what God was telling me.
Basically, we both told each other that same night that we felt God telling us that we are
supposed to be together.

Even the movies could not make this stuff up.

God knew I did not want to date. He knew how important my family and friends are to me and they would protect me at all costs. God specifically sent Tyler to me. Everyone that knows me, knows Tyler (very well! Yet, I did not know Tyler before this summer!) My family and friends are thrilled because they know us. They have seen Tyler's day to day life of character, warmth and caring. They know I am seeking God at all costs and determined to raise Caroline and Thomas to be happy, godly children. They are seeing the work of God at work.
It's amazing and it's God.

I am more surprised than anyone at the timing, but I trust God and His plan whole-heartedly. I was worried for a while what people might think, but God has taught me some wonderful messages of the utmost importance:
  • No opinion matters, except God's. I answer only to Him.
  • God knows what I, Caroline and Thomas need.
  • No one has any place judging a person's decisions who is seeking God's will...And no one can ever "walk in someone's shoes." Even though I have met some amazing young widowed mommas, not one of us can completely understand each others' journey.
  • God is Love. He gave us an amazing gift: the ability to love!
Thomas and I truly loved each other and had a great marriage. I'm blessed to know what a great marriage is because of him. I remember thinking when we knew we wanted a second child, "How can I love another child as I love sweet Caroline?" God's abundant love for his people is mirrored by how we have the ability to love each other. And when Baby T came along...I did not replace the love I had for my first child, or try to take some of the love from her to give to him, my capacity to love GREW. Wow. God is gracious.
Over and over through our dating and marriage Thomas would say "I only want for you to be happy." It is imprinted on my heart forever.
And I can say I am truly happy again. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8

Tyler and I are committed to keeping God at the center of our relationship and
we are so thankful for what He has done in our lives.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Light Your Candles!

Our Single Moms' Ministry at my church has been amazing. What a courageous, beautiful group of women God put together! Each doing their best, with God's help, to be the best single moms they can be. God is good. (By the way, please be praying as we start our fall semester Sept 14th!)

The book we just finished My Single Mom Life by Angela Thomas (a MUST read for any single mom in any situation) talks about not waiting for a special occasion or until you feel "worthy" to light your candles, or use the best dishes, or invite friends over for dinner. Our children will miss out if we wait!

This also parallels her advice that we don't have years to devote to "bettering" ourselves. If we wait years until we arrive at some contrived place to start being a great mom, our kids will be all grown up! We have to be amazing moms NOW!
This includes inviting friends and playmates for our kids over to what if our house is a wreck or we don't have a huge home-cooked meal. No one will notice! There will be enough to go around, just make it work!
I also believe this applies to starting or continuing traditions. It's sad how I went through a time when I didn't know if a family of three like ours was complete enough to start new traditions or that it might be too painful to continue traditions we already had.  Blessedly, I came through that phase pretty quickly.
Caroline and I decided it would be fun to always have chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast on our birthdays, starting with Thomas's!
My new, wonderful friend Shannon reminded us of this "don't wait for life to begin" idea when she gave her example of how she shared a dinner with her daughter's playmate at the spur of the moment. Do you think the girls remember what they ate or what the place settings looked like? NO! They will remember a warm, fun time sharing life!
After hearing her talk about how she is not just thinking about this advice, she's living it; I wanted to do the same. I wanted to light our candles! And use those serving dishes usually reserved for "special" occasions! My children are special and they deserve it!
Later that same week I told Caroline we were going to have candles at dinner and she ran around the room so excited and telling Thomas all about it, it was adorable. I got everything ready, our cantaloupe, ravioli and sauce (from Bertoli's, I think, I know I didn't make it from scratch--i'm admitting it. Who cares!?) and put it in our fancy serving bowls and then went to find candles.
And then I couldn't find any. Not one!
I wasn't going to let this stop us. I remembered what Shannon said, she said she didn't have candles in nice matching holders, she just used the ones from around the house. Scented, or unscented, in a jar or on a plate--it doesn't matter!
So the only candles I had were a few in a drawer meant for a birthday cake. WHO CARES!? Caroline and Thomas sure didn't! We lit them and ate a meal that would normally be forgotten, but now has been made a memory!
Now, go and light your own candles! :-)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

My Baby is ONE!!!!

Yes, I chose blue for the icing. Yes, it came out of his cute Thomas the Train onesie from the Harmons! Happy Birthday, Thomas!
Thomas Alexander Culp turned one on Tuesday! Can you believe it!? We had a fun Thomas the Train themed birthday party for him on Saturday at our house. It was so great to have all of our closest friends and family in attendance.
Of course, it is an extra hard time of the year as well. His daddy would have been 31 the same day his son turned 1. It really makes the day special, though, since he can share it with his dad.
And with the start of the school year and the memories it brings back...
A year ago on the 17th everyone eagerly awaited news on this sweet baby's arrival. It seemed to bring a lot of hope and joy for the future for not only our family, but also for Springdale's school district. They started this year without Mr. Culp, but I have been overwhelmed with the kind, encouraging emails and Facebook messages from his students. A lot of them are starting college this coming week and their thoughts are on their teacher who inspired them to work hard and pursue academic excellence! Thank you, Har-Ber students!

My personal "Mom of the Year" story #258:
So about a month ago Thomas and I were playing and I noticed he started to climb (for the first time, in my defense) onto the treadmill. Most moms would probably think, Oh that's not safe and calmly remove the child and place him or her in a safe area to play. Oh,no, not me. I think, "I've got to get a picture of his first climb!"
Notice the blurry face due to gravity pulling him swiftly backwards??
The aftermath (and proof that he does cry, but not very often!!):
The bump on his head:Here's the smiling boy we all know and love a few minutes later (I promise!)
I couldn't afford another bump though, so in order to make dinner I moved my new climber into his cage, umm I mean, pack and play!
New things:
Baby T is standing on his own without support for about 3 seconds at a time.
He still laughs all of the time. Well, unless he's really tired and then he just whines! Such a good baby!!
He says, "Mmmm" for "more" and says "mama." He shakes his head "no." He makes funny babbling sounds like "girda-girda-girda"
He loves to feed himself and he likes to eat whatever Caroline and I are having! He ate all of our leftover poppy seed chicken yesterday.
He can climb stairs really well.
He loves to play catch with himself. He'll throw a ball or toy and then crawl fast after it and then throw it again.
He gets really excited and squeals when you "chase" him.
Caroline says, "I love my little brudder!" and squeezes him too tightly in hugs.
I kiss him approx 9000 times a day.
He only uses a paci when he's sleeping. (Thank you!!!!)
He places peek-a-boo at me through the slats in his crib when I go to get him up from sleeping and he laughs hysterically.
I turned his car seat around on his 1st birthday (I'm a stickler for safety rules! Although he was 20 lbs several months ago!)I cried a little about this. Seeing both my sweet kiddos faces in the rear view mirror. There aren't enough words...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Dash

Yes, sadly I have neglected my blog once again. I have been busy enjoying the summer and at times I feel like we are busier than during the school year...but as I type that I'm thinking that maybe life is just busy year-round.

I know the following pictures are heart wrenching, but I feel it is important to share them.

My father-in-law, with the family's input, has placed the monument (I really dislike the other word for it now that I've been through this) at the cemetery. It was a long process because we all wanted it to be special, and so he went to great lengths to ensure that.
I am going to retell what Thomas did on Caroline's bathroom wall a week before the accident since it is so significant to the monument.
It was December 30th 2008, I believe, when I went to a "game night" at my good friend Laura's house. Thomas gave Caroline a bath that night before putting her to bed. When I went into her bathroom the next day, this is what I saw:
For those of you who have not had biology class in a few years (or never understood it the first time, like me) this is the Kreb cycle. Thomas was teaching our not quite 2 year old daughter the innerworkings of the cells in our bodies. (He was also practicing drawing if from memory to teach it to his AP Biology class.)
This drawing of the cycle shows how our cells use oxygen to give us LIFE. Thomas took his job teaching high school students very seriously, and he very well probably thought Caroline could handle this science since she is a very advanced little girl ;-)
So, of course, those of you who know me well, know that I do not scour the bathroom walls on a weekly (or monthly...) basis. Thank goodness. Less than a week later the accident occurred.
I was in such a daze for a while so I really don't know or remember how Thomas's family saw the bathroom wall, but they for sure knew the significance (they are all doctors.)
Thomas's older brother has since presented a couple of lectures to Thomas's former students at Har-ber High in their biology classes using Mr. Culp's drawing as the focal point of the lesson. It was a tribute lecture that involved life lessons as well as the importance of understanding biology and why Mr. Culp had a passion for education.
Thomas knew the importance of living life to the fullest. He knew also how life is fueled.
So this leads me to the pictures of the monument.
The front includes lots of words to describe Thomas: son, father, husband, biker, musician for example. It also includes the Spanish and Marshallese words for "friend" because he had such a passion for his ESL Biology class students.
(there isn't an image on the background, the picture turned out like that because of reflections):And the back includes the picture from our bathroom wall. I love that it is in his own handwriting. It also has his signature in the lower right hand corner:
I remember as a teenager hearing that poem about how our entire life is what happens in the little "dash" between the dates of your birth and death. It made an impact on me then. And I think about those dashes when I visit cemeteries. I would wonder how the person spent his or her dash and I would wonder if anyone was still alive that remembered or loved the person.
I think my father in law did an amazing job on the monument. I know anyone passing by it would be able to tell how some of Thomas's dash was spent and how much he is loved.
What's even better than that, though, is because of the kind of person he was, he made lasting impressions on everyone he met and the impact he had on his students and Caroline (and Baby T with my help) will affect the future forever.

From the "dash" poem:
"What matters is how we live and love And how we spend our dash."

I would like to add that it also matters how we are going to spend our time after the final date.

Psalm 90:12 Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

How I let go

Just for fun picture: cousins Thomas and Sarah getting their money's worth at white water!

A very good friend sent me an email after reading my post "Allowing God to Work" (see below the cousin camp post) and asked how I actually let God take control. I am not an expert at all, but I enjoy being honest and trying to share what I have learned.
I don't have the time or energy to revise my reply to my friend and I gained permission to copy and paste what I wrote here on my blog.
So I'm copying it here in all its glory (sarcasm intended.) (And I did take out names and added the picture from google/
The question asked: How did you give it (the stuff I was stubborn about trying to control) to God?
My answer:
Oh goodness. It is a long, continual process. I am glad you asked. I'll try to include it in my next post. Basically I was being stubborn and a little bitter about a few issues. I knew I was holding back from God when I prayed and when I felt bitterness toward Him about my sweet kids not having a dad. (I know they have their Father in God but I still got upset when I felt they were missing out). I also felt guilt at times for feeling happy.
I finally got to a point where I decded to pray and be honest with God about those issues (he knew anyway but He wants us to be honest and forthright with Him) So I started letting other Christian friends that I trusted know about my feelings on those issues and God gave them the right words to say to encourage and pray for me. The issues started being "fixed" before my eyes and I recognized them as answered prayers. That helped build more trust for me to let go a little more each day of the bitterness. I allowed God to really heal my heart and let the guilt go. (guilt really can eat you alive-from the inside out.) the happiness kept growing and I finally could pray completely honestly with Him and tell Him I trust His will and I won't fight against it anymore (listen to that song on my blog) and then He showed me that if I am honest He can heal faster and also all my friends stepped up a notch without me asking and helped me a lot with house and yard
work and spending time really loving my kids and I could tell God was showing me "You let go and let me work". So I have.
I am not saying it is a completed process. I have to continually (on harder days it is hourly!) pray to God to keep taking these "issues" because as a human I naturally start grabbing them back and second guessing. So I just tell Him "Here you go again, sorry I took this (fill in the blank) issue back again."

I talked to a friend about this recently and one of the amazing things about this is that all God needs is mustard seed size faith! (and mustard seeds are tiny!!) we just have to be prepared to open our hearts and trust God with the things in our life that we want to control and He can work amazing things out...even exceed our dreams for what we think we want. He is our Father and He wants better than the best for us. We just have to listen to His words in His bible and with our tiny seed of faith, believe Him, tell Him through prayer we trust and believe and then get the heck out of his way!
I hope this was coherent. I just woke up. We can talk more soon. Love you.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Cousin Camp 2010 Part One

Aunt Jen and Uncle Mark graciously, or recklessly depending on how you see it, opened their home and acreage up to their nieces and nephews this week. We are all having a blast! High points: "Blokus-ing" Bahpah (see pic above), our own pony rides whenever we want, a humongous blow up water slide that is suitable for humans and canines apparently (see pic below), horses to feed, Oklahoma City Zoo homemade ice cream, cookouts, margaritas and we still have two whole days left! The low points: being stung on my back by a wasp and being pooped on by the Lorikeets at the zoo. Looks like the good is outweighing the bad so far (although that wasp sting really hurt; I keep saying my mantra, "it's all part of the fun, it's all part of the fun..."

(Her daddy would stick his tongue out like this when he was working hard like she is here.)

Yes it rained off and on while at the zoo but any of you who visit zoos in the summer with children know what sweet relief it was!

Here are the awesome shirts Grandma Tracy had made for us all. The design was taken from a drawing that one of Thomas's students did for him several years ago. It reads "I rule the world...because I am a Culp." His students loved and knew him well.

Count for the record: seven adults, six children, eight dogs, fourteen horses, one pony.
And a partridge in a pear tree.

And yes baby T and Sarah are here although they don't seem to make it into my pictures very often! (Thomas on the tram through the zoo.)

Hope our other two cousins can make it next year to Cousin Camp 2011 (If jen and mark invite us back after this crazy, fun adventure!)
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Allowing God to Work

Let me start off by saying a few months ago I finally surrendered everything in myself to God. I told Him, do with me what You will and I will listen.
As soon as I did that, a happiness and contentment followed that I have never known in my life before.
I clearly remember jumping on our trampoline with Caroline while Thomas sat in his exersaucer a few feet away thinking I have not felt this kind of freedom and contentment before. It was a blessing from God. I knew that I had God's power behind me to raise two amazing, extraordinary children without a husband. God had already shown me how well I was taken care of from my friends and family and that I was OK! I was content. and happy. and ready to do it for the next twenty years or forever if that what was best for my kids.
I have wanted to write a post about my new happiness for a while but that mean-not-from-God- guilt for being as happy as I was would creep in. I felt like some people might judge me for my happiness and wonder why I could be so happy after losing an amazing husband and father to my child(ren). (My breath still gets sucked out of me when I think about how Thomas did not meet his son on this side of heaven...)

My last round through Griefshare at the Fellowship church was what helped me turn a corner. A wonderful, strong Christian woman who was a two-time widow explained how the pain and memories are in technicolor in the first year or so and then the pain becomes less vibrant as in black and white. I remember thinking that may be true for you but not for me.
I doubted her when she said that back in January, but by March I started understanding what she meant. (Remember my post "Spring is Coming"?) Spring came and with it God opened my eyes to how he can make so much good come from terrible things. I had kept holding onto the feeling that I did not want good to come from Thomas' death. How in the world can good come from this??
I finally decided to turn that over to God and He has exceeded my expectations of how good can come and not only it can come, but it should come! We are all heading to a fate like Thomas'. Sure, it may come in a different way and his came in unfair and wrong way in that he was so young and full of amazing promise Hopefully most of us will be able to live out long, full lives. But we are all going to end the way he did, facing God and living eternally elsewhere. Blessedly for Thomas it is heaven and I will do everything in my power to get everyone I know, and some people I do not know, there as well.
God brought the Single Moms' Ministry idea to me and another fellow single mom who I did not even know yet. She also is surrendered to God and happiness is apparent in her words and actions. Those ladies are amazing women letting God direct our paths.
God also sends people to me telling me how they receive encouragement from my blog and my life. Praise God.
Trials will most certainly come in everyone's lives. I just want to let everyone know how much more bearable these are when you have a relationship with God. Even an added bonus is a relationship with a church family. My church has reached out and taken care of us in so many ways that it brings tears to my eyes thinking about it. Your church is a built-in support system that you need during your walk through the valleys, and yet they are there to celebrate with you when you are on the mountain top as well!

I keep this blog so that my kids will be able to read it and see the journey that life is. I can tell them all about the struggles we faced in the early years of their lives, but for them to be able to read it as it unfolds on this blog,I believe, will teach them that at times life is unfair, VERY unfair, hard, and full of times to make choices, yet when you have a real, thriving relationship with God, He directs your path and will exceed your wishes, hopes, and dreams and bring beauty from ashes.
He promises it in His bible, and by the way, God, thank you for already showing me that you mean what you say.

Some lyrics from one of my theme songs from Brandon Heath, "Trust You."

It's never easy changing direction
It's so unnatural to loosen up my grip
Are you growing weary, of all my good intentions
'Cause I know that you don't work that way

I'm not gonna fight You anymore
I'm not gonna try to lock the door
You took Your life and gave me Yours
There's no reason why
I shouldn't trust You with mine

Some days this weight upon my shoulder
Is my shame I know I should know better
'Cause you say that I must now surrender
There's no other way

Not gonna fight you anymore (not gonna fight you anymore)
I'm not gonna try to lock the door (I needed life You gave me Yours)
You took my life and gave me Yours
There's no good reason why, I shouldn't trust You.

Ps Thomas has two teeth and is crawling!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sweet Memories

Caroline having muddy fun with two of the four cousins we are visiting!

An eight hour drive to Texas with me and my sweet kiddos! We honestly had a great drive down and the only time I got frustrated with Caroline was when she told me to turn my music down because she said it was too loud!
I did not even tell her about the borrowed (thank you Mauree!) DVD player until we were six hours into the drive! Cinderella got us through Dallas easily! The garmin was an enormous help (Thanks, Kim!) I told Kim I wished the lady who tells me when to turn would give positive reinforcement after I follow her direction! "in 1.5 miles turn left...great turn, Bonnie! Keep it up, you are almost there!"
the only other annoying event was when my rear view mirror decided to fall off as I adjusted it. Yes, you heard me right. It stinking fell right off the windshield as I was driving. It's not like I have a clunker either, it's a 2007. I managed to make it stay on as we went through Dallas. Funny how you take things for granted unless you really need them! (I am blaming it on the Texas heat. It is so hot!)
Anyway, Caroline and I played the association game for a really long time (I am thinking about fire. She says, that makes me think of camping. I say, that makes me think of s'mores...etc) We laughed a lot about the funny things we came up with. We also sang the "tomorrow" song from Annie and "doe a deer" from sound of music at least twenty times each. Not exaggerating.
Thomas tried to sing and talk with us, but he mainly slept.
Speaking of Thomas! He was a little fussy one day last week-and he is virtully Never fussy. Several people said he is probably teething and each time I would politely say yeah, right-Caroline was 16 months (Can you believe it?!) before her first tooth came in! I remember googling about baby teeth never coming in and of course there is some very rare disorder where people never have teeth grow in!! Thankfully hers all came in! Better late than never! L O N G story short, lo and behold I felt a sharp tiny tooth coming in on his bottom gum! At nine months!!
He also had some real food besides baby food this week. Like his momma, he loves guacamole! He also had beans at the Cyclone Corral Barbecue place! For dessert I let him taste our peach cobbler.
Here is a picture of sweet Thomas so proud of himself after swiping my spoon when I looked away for two seconds!

More on our trip coming soon!

Saturday, May 29, 2010


Caroline enjoying watermelon during our trip to Texas. Since we've been home a few days she will randomly say 'texas is hot!' I totally agree sweet Caroline!
I have grown a lot in the last couple of months. I have finally decided to come to terms with my new normal and I have surrendered even more to God so that He can work more freely. (Who knew there was so much I was hanging onto and trying to "work out" myself?!)
I am not saying I am completely healed, I just realized I am okay with letting "good" come from the tragedy. I know it must sound strange to hear that I did not want good to come from it. But I was just so hurt that I could not imagine good coming from our horrendous tragedy.
I guess the first surrendering moment I want to record is how God talked me into starting a single moms' ministry. I don't like to use friends' names on my blog without permission so I will do my best to make this as clear as possible.
I have known for a long time that helping others in a similar situation as mine is heart wrenching and yet helps me heal as well. As I finished my second round of griefshare last month, I had the overwhelming desire to share what I had learned with other moms. God opened the door and made it very clear to me.
I was told about the awesome book "my single mom life" by Angela Thomas from a friend who told me the story of how a girl she knew in high school contacted her out of the blue and brought her the book on a stormy night several months ago. Flash forward a few months and I am told by two unrelated friends about a newly single mom of four children. I went to meet her and we immediately hit it off. She also felt God calling her to a moms ministry. She already knew of the book I wanted to use and we made plans for it. That same night I befriended her on facebook and saw we had a mutual friend. The same friend who originally told me about the book. I connected the dots and realized that my new friend with four children was the same woman who dropped the book off on the stormy night to my other friend! So she was the reason I read the book! God has shown me in more ways than this one example that He is in control of the plan. He just needs willing people to carry it out!
We have had one official meeting and it went great. It was a total monsoon right when it was supposed to start but I told God as I was driving in the downpour that He was in control of this ministry and if no one comes that night then it would be His fault and not mine. We still had five moms come and wonderful, selfless matt and meagan babysit all of the kiddos! Immediately after the meeting the rain stopped and there was the most amazing complete double rainbow over our church building. He was telling me that He keeps His promises no matter our circumstances. Here are a few pics of it from my phone.

Letting God have complete control of my life is an amazing, liberating way to live. But it is a continual process. Some days I am better at letting Him have it than others but I strive to talk with Him each day and I just straight up tell Him when it is difficult and I ask Him for help. He has not let me down yet. I completely depend on Him.

Jeremiah 29:11 I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. 12"When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I'll listen. 13-14"When you come looking for me, you'll find me. "Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I'll make sure you won't be disappointed..."

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, May 16, 2010

One month since my last post...What?!

Caroline and some friends at sweet Rosemary's Moms' Club meeting. They wore PJs and listened to Rob Button's fun music to help raise money for American Childhood Cancer Organization.

I hope to update tonight, but it may be after midnight so I wanted to post something before it has been officially over a month since my last real post!

VERY short summary of the last month:
We are doing well.
God is teaching me a lot, but the growing pains hurt sometimes!

I can't wait to sort through it all and put it down into a cohesive, coherent blog post. (But if I wait for that to happen, it may NEVER happen!) :-)

So I will leave this post with some verses I am focusing on:

Be still, and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

...My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness... 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

My grace is enough; it's all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:9 (Message)

Yes, he'll banish death forever. And God will wipe the tears from every face. Isaiah 25:8

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thomas Culp's Tale

See our local TV news' (KNWA) video segment on Har-Ber High School's construction project of an outdoor classroom the students are building in Mr. Culp's memory. These Har-Ber students are amazing. It makes me so happy to be able to show Caroline his students and have recorded what they say about him so we can watch it for years to come. We DVR'd this and watched three times (the third time because Caroline requested.)
Click on the link below-you'll have to watch a really short ad (I kind of wish it could have been an ad for anything else but what it is, oh well.) Then after the ad you have to push the little "play" button again to get it to go!
Click here: Thomas Culp's Tale

Friday, April 16, 2010

Miracle Moments

Easter Egg Hunt 2010: What blessings (my friends and the babies!) All of these babies were delivered by Dr. Birch!
Thanks for taking these pics, Meagan!

Wow, it has been a while since I've updated my blog. I have written a few posts in my mind, but I either haven't had the time to type it out or once I "wrote" them in my brain I didn't feel the need to vent it on here :-)
My sister made me an awesome CD of Christian songs that I'm listening to right now. Third Day's King of Glory is playing right now as I type this and it is distracting because I just want to sing along and praise Jesus for the amazing things He's doing in my life. (Listen to it below!)

I feel like God is stretching and "growing" me daily. In the last week alone I have learned so much in my bible studies and GriefShare group that I'm not even sure I can condense it into one post...but I'm going to try!
In our ladies bible study on Thursday night we studied the lies women believe about emotions. Just because we feel something does not mean that it is true. "We may feel unloved, but that does not mean we are unloved, we may feel alone, but that does not mean we are alone...The Truth is, God is good, whether I feel like He is or not...we must remember that "feeling good" is not the ultimate objective in the Christian's life..." (DeMoss pgs194 and 210)

Wow: How well do I know the above to be true! I've said it myself in earlier posts-we are not told that when we become Christians we will live suffering-free lives and all will be well--actually we are told that we will suffer.
I believe it is our response and reactions to the trials in life that shows our God and those around us our true beliefs and character. We can't just talk the talk, we have to walk the walk.
Sweet Thomas-He is a perfect baby in every way.

In the last two weeks of our GriefShare group I have learned:
"we may be thinking that the absence of pain is a sign of healing. Real healing is characterized by the presence of both joy and pain."
I still struggle at times with feeling guilty for being happy. In this GriefShare session we talked about how pain and joy coexist and that grief can actually expand your ability to feel joy...eventually.
I love this from my notes, "If you believe He is good during the "good" times, He is good during the bad." "In a fallen world, pain is a part of life. When it comes, express your confidence in God's ability to use your suffering for good, by being joyful about your inevitable character development."
Some days I can say amen to this "inevitable character development", and yet some days I am upset about this development because it came from such a horrendous event--that probably doesn't make sense, but that's how I feel.....I am working on this though!

We also had a wonderful conversation about how we get to have "glimpses of Heaven" in what GriefShare calls "miracle moments." First of all I was amazed to hear that the majority of people going through grief have also experienced these "moments" as I have. I have felt that maybe I was reading too much into these moments, but now I feel like I have confirmation that they are from God (as I thought they were!) I think most of you out there have had these experiences, but maybe not considered the source.My adorable nephew, Jett. How I love you!!

Non-christians and skeptics would call them coincidences. I've heard somewhere that coincidences are when God wants to be remain anonymous and actually the day after this GriefShare discussion my friend Shelly's mom ran into me and brought this topic up herself! She says, "It's not odd, it's God!" I love that. SO it's not odd that she ran into me the day after our miracle moment discussion at Griefshare, it was God showing his control and love for me and my life.
I also know some people may get hung up on the word "miracle," don't let it! I'm not talking about miracles like when Jesus turned water into wine (although He, of course, still has the power to do this today!) I'm talking about the miracle moments like God giving me a sister who loves me with such an unconditional love that it feels my eyes with tears. And another miracle moment when Caroline told me back in late November that daddy had told her that Hannah was in heaven with him when Caroline was just two years old and had no background knowledge of Hannah's serious situation.
Sweet Caroline is growing up: Just this week "Step-pool" turned to "stepstool" at least you still say "Slipslop" for flipflop! :-)

Another miracle moment for me was the terrible day of the funeral when I absolutely could not will my muscles to lift myself out of bed and I said a short prayer and--there is no other way to describe it--God lifted me out of that bed and made my feet walk to the car. I did not move myself-I am certain. It was Him.
I am unable to list every miracle moment that I have had in the past year and a half--it would take hours! Lots of the moments come as an email or phone call at the exact moment I need it. Or a prayer that is answered so obviously, for example--I have been wanting to learn more about the bible to be able to teach my children and the PERFECT study is presented. It has taken about a month to go from Genesis 1:1 to chapter 20, but that is a perfect pace for me and my limited knowledge!

On a smaller miracle scale, but just as mighty of a miracle is what I see in my children. Caroline's love for God and caring heart is growing before my very eyes and baby Thomas' sweet constant smiles bring me glimpses of heaven on a daily basis. Thank you, God.
"Heaven is real, and everyone on earth has the choice to go there. Nothing on earth compares with heaven...A person in heaven wouldn't even want to come back here. While I wait for my turn to be with You in heaven, help me to live purposefully and be devoted to doing your work." (Griefshare Session 13)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Spring Mission Project 2010: Our House!!

(My computer says it doesn't have enough memory for my pictures from my camera! Argh! Thanks to Janice for letting me borrow some pics from her blog! Janice, thank you for working so hard for me--This picture below is how everyone will remember you! Did you ever take a break??)

There are not enough words to thank those who helped and/or prayed us through this past weekend! Side note: I was about to say on this post how I wished the English language had a lot more words for "thank you" like how the Eskimos have tons of words for "snow," but to be accurate about the number I googled "number of Inuit words for snow" and found that this is actually an urban legend! (Play NBC's "The More You Know" music in your head right now)

My wonderful sister and amazing friend, Dori, planned a service project for anyone who wanted to help me at my house last weekend. I needed help fixing some things around the house and also several rooms had a gray-ish paint and we needed to put some "spring" cheer into our house. I wasn't even able to count (someone said around 30) how many people came, my eyes are filled with tears right now as I think about all of those people who out of the goodness of their hearts gave up their ENTIRE Saturday to work for me, my sweet kids and to glorify God.

I truly believe that Northwest Arkansas has more selfless, caring people than anywhere else in the state. (I did not complete a scientific survey on it, but I am really good at observing.)

Autumn had the great idea to let people write bible verses on the walls before we painted them. I LOVE knowing that these verses are forever on our walls under the new paint and, of course, etched in our hearts.
What amazing people I have surrounding us.
I have to admit I was a little worried that it was going to be left up to me to climb the ladders and finish the trim once the crazy March blizzard hit. It dumped 13 inches of snow! But it could not keep Dori, Clint, Becky, Travis, Tyler and Nellie from coming back the next day to finish up! I need not every worry. I have amazing friends who are examples of what Christians should be to each other. LOVE YOU GUYS! Now that the bulk of the painting was finished, Tara H. has spent several days helping me organize my house. She truly has a gift! At one point I pulled out everything out of my bathroom cabinets and about gave up and shoved it all back in, but she did not miss a beat by showing me how to tackle the job! I have joked in the past that I have .05% hoarder in me, but I can say that I am now a recovering hoarder. I feel that I have been cured! I can now say I completely understand the value of a label gun and numerous plastic tubs. It was extremely difficult to come across some items from Thomas and I's past as we progressed through the miniature archaeological dig of our twelve years of dating and marriage together. I have kept every thing of Thomas's because I want Caroline and Baby T to use it all to get to know their daddy. I enjoyed seeing his handwriting on burnt CDs of music and thought how neat it will be to listen to it with the kids as they get older and "share" that with their dad...
Enough about that part of it for now... I can say that more laughs were had than cry fests this week. Dori, Nellie, Becky and I had a ton of fun taking snow pictures in our "Spring is here" t-shirts Becky made for the weekend. How ironic that it would snow 13 inches on the first day of spring--or is it coincidental? Thomas and I used to talk about how people wrongly use the "ironic" term. Now I can't remember how to use it. I hope to get help w/ my computer and have before and after shots of my house on my next post. Stay Tuned!

Things I don't want to forget from this month: Caroline listening to the "God of Wonders" song says, "This song makes me cry. Sometimes people cry when they are happy."

Caroline kissing her daddy's picture.

Baby Thomas ALWAYS smiling. Always.

Baby T lifting his tummy off the ground in the crawl postition! (Not close to crawling yet, 22 lbs is a lot to get moving!)

Bare arms and snow angels. (I laughed so hard I cried about how we look like "Flat Stanlies" in this picture. The snow was so deep, our bodies were even with the top of it!)
Caroline seeing her trampoline for the first time. She is speechless!

Becky and I watching and listening to Caroline on the baby monitor go into Thomas's room to rub his head, kiss him and tell him "I love you" without her knowing.

Cutie Caroline at Sara and Aiden's Gymnastic Joe's Bday party

Caroline, Aly and Thomas at the Walton Arts Center. All the way there Caroline kept saying, "I'm so excited!"
(She's eating fruit snacks provided by Robyn--Thanks, Rob!)

Last, but not least...Becky's birthday dinner with the family tonight. We are so blessed.