Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Oh my.
Note to self and kids when wondering why there was a four month gap in the blog. I was super busy kissing their sweet cheeks, playing in the floor with them, trying to savor the moments of their childhoods that seem to be slipping away fast! As I said in my last post, I knew Kindergarten would be a huge transition for me, and it was. I had to re-prioritize life and be sure to be "on" and engaged when I take Caroline to school and when I pick her up. I am super blessed to be able to work in her classroom quite a bit, but I am not with her ALL day like before. Yes, we considered homeschool, but so far this is where God has us. It has been a blessing and the conversations Caroline and I have about her day are precious to me. Thomas and I have bonded in new ways and his language and speech are exploding. (Maybe it helps to not have to talk over Caroline? : ) ) He calls her Cawoline. I don't want to forget that.

Thomas turned 3 in August. We welcomed my precious, beautiful niece Sadie Grace to the world on Sept 5th! Her big brother, Jett is 3 1/2 and Caroline's about to be 6. And time marches on...

I will be able to rest easier years from now knowing that I knew I did my absolute best to cherish our times together. I could inhale these children if it were possible! My how my heart bursts for them. Thomas has been singing at the top of his lungs "JESUS, WAMB of GOD! WORTHY IS YOWR NAME!" in his bed at night. Loudly enough for his sister to respond with her version of "Here I am to worship, here I am to bow down, here I am to say that your my God." (Here baby lisp is about all but gone!)

The other day I stopped in the kitchen and felt an overwhelming sense to pray, not unusual,  and I said "Let's pray" Caroline says "Why?" and Thomas yells "JESUS!" and runs near me. For a split second I felt like that was the prayer that needed to be said, until I look at Thomas and he's in the pantry pointing up at the cheez-its. Yes, he yelled, "CHEEZ-ITS" not JESUS. I laughed so hard that all three of us ended up laughing in the floor.
 And...we are moving. In two days. Just a few miles away, but in some ways it feels so much further.
I read this post on Beth Moore's blog a few months back and it hit sooooo very close to home. So close, in fact, I can't even read it again right now.
In a nutshell, so many memories are made in a house, good times and bad, it's like leaving a friend who stood with you through it all. And this house was our dream house, for Thomas and I. After he went onto heaven, the house became a gathering place for our friends even more so than it was before. It was hard for me to get out alone with two tiny kids (No matter what anyone says, single moms/dads have THE hardest job in the world. Period.) So my church and friends and family came to us. Everyone surrounded us with love and help in this house. Praying, singing, crying and laughing.
We held bible study here with my precious GFN (Girls Fellowship Night) girls every Thursday night, always enjoying the gravel circle drive that could usually hold all our cars, but on some blessed nights we'd have to play Tetris to get them all to fit.

Friends and even people I didn't know spent time leaving their love on the walls with bible verses underneath new paint.

(Thanks, Janice for capturing these sweet photos that mean even more to me now!)
My brother in law surprised a two year old Caroline with a trampoline and a sodded yard to play on after we had taken a trip. Taking trips with grandparents up through our backyard woods to visit the coolest bee tree and playing on the boulders.
Caroline learned to brush her own hair here just a week ago. Thomas learned to brush his teeth here. (Why am I listing those random things instead of the thousand other things? I don't know...it's the little things sometimes.)
As I go through the archaeological dig of closets and drawers I stumble upon pictures Caroline drew years ago, three bottles of onion powder (really? I don't even use the stuff!) and the books! Holy toledo, we have a lot of books! They tell a story all their own, books on marriage, on NASA, on literacy, on pregnancy, on miscarriage, on grief, tons of workbooks from past bible study topics, along with Harry Potter and Fancy Nancy and Brown Bear Brown Bear. Thomas' favorites right now are Goodnight, Gorilla and Curious George and the Firefighters. Caroline and I just finished the first in the "Caroline Years" series chronicling Laura Ingalls Wilder's mom, Caroline, growing up in the 1800s.

What a find that has been. God is good. Caroline Quiner is 5 and a half, has a little brother named Thomas (among other siblings) and her dad has gone on to heaven. (It even says it that way in the book.) It reminds me of when my dad read to us the Little House books when Becky and I were little.

That's all we can do, cherish the little moments...Caroline fixing her glasses after I always put them on her wrong, Thomas messing up his own hair as I try to sweep his blond bangs out of his eyes, and make some memories worth passing on...telling knock, knock jokes in the car (Thomas only knows one he says in one fast breath, Knock knock, impatient cow, MOO!!), taking time to read Curious George (for the 1000th time and Thomas loving to say the part about "big black boots"), making a giant mess baking cookies, praying morning noon and night (and in between.)
Silver Dollar City Dec 2012
Those are the things that get passed on, no matter what the house looks like you are living in, as my sister reminded me this morning, it's the people that make a house a home, not the wood and windows.
Prayers are appreciated as we move into the next chapter of our lives in a beautiful new home where we will continue with traditions and start new ones. One thing ALWAYS stays the same, and that's God's presence and love. Thank you, God!!

First new house family memory: Eating our first meal, of pizza, while putting up the Christmas tree in the new house before it was finished (We...um, I, couldn't wait any longer.) Thomas kept asking "Is it Christmas time?!" I can't imagine a better time for a new start than during the time we celebrate Jesus' birth. He is so faithful. I always say I know there isn't a quota for the bad stuff that happens in life, but focusing hard on the cross and the good times goes a long way when times get hard. This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Oh August. Sigh.

I'm a bundle of energy and nerves. Wound up tightly ready to spring.
I feel ___________. Fill in the blank yourself. Whatever you choose will be right.
Good ol' August.

It's any teacher's real New Year. Full of resolutions and anticipation.
But I've never been on this side of it. Sure, I've patted and consoled many moms with tear filled eyes as they leave their babies, sometimes for the first time, in my care for 8 hours a day, around 180 days a year. But now it's my turn to be consoled and the transition left to me. I get to be the one to experience my child's first day of school. I get to be the one to experience meeting a whole slew of parents and children who will make up a new community for Caroline and our family. Will there be someone she "clicks" with? Will I be friends with the clicking student's family? What will our new schedule be like? How will baby T and I arrange our days without sister?
Happy, sad, crazy, mixed up tears. (from me, not her--she's pumped, backpack packed, outfit chosen for the first day....hmmm that makes me think, what should I wear?! Does it matter?! Probably not.)

Oh, yes, and it's August.
Thomas turns 3 years old on the 17th. The day his daddy in heaven would be 33. Numbers and dates are a funny thing for me. For a lot of people, I've learned. I refuse to ever let go of my dazed in amazement feeling of God's plan to turn the 17th into a gift for baby T. He can always share that with his dad even if he didn't get to physically share any other days. In the bible there are several numbers that are reoccurring and might be seen as significant. I'm not trying to start a debate about biblical numerology, I just believe God can use anything in creation to "speak" to us. So for us, the 17th is bittersweet and so is the 5th. For anyone who has grieved a love one, the date of the month you lose a loved one marks the passage of time, just like the birthdate. Thomas went to heaven on a 5th of the month, and Tyler and I were married on the 5th of a month. If it was any "normal" wedding we might have moved the date, but as weather/traveling to Florida/timing would have it; it fell on the 5th. I truly appreciate how God can use any decision we make to His glory, if we let Him. I can now see the 5th as a reason to celebrate in addition to any other mixed emotions that come on that date. As I related in a previous post, (Yes, I'm quoting myself now. Weird.)
  "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!"

I rarely re-read my blog entries, but that one is so special to me. Especially as Tyler and I celebrated our one year anniversary yesterday, I can still say it is all so TRUE. We are happier and more in love each day that passes by.

God is amazing and what He does is beyond our comprehension. We just have to step out on faith at times, praying the whole way, and let Him do His thing! HE is love!
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8
So back to my "numbers" thing.  
Those of you who have followed our journey know that scrabble/words with friends is special to us. It got us "talking" back in the day...
For our first date anniversary I found the coolest coasters that look like scrabble tiles to give him. I thought we could use them as decoration somehow. As I was talking with God, I felt like I should add up the numbers on the LOVE tiles. I knew before I even looked that it would equal 7. (7 in the bible could be seen as "completeness," and what's more complete than God who is love!)  God knows all of our little quirks that make us us.  I love that He knew that would make me smile. So when I pulled the tiles out for Tyler to see, I could explain that our love is possible because God first loved us :-) It was the perfect way for us to reminisce about God's hand in our journey and how we must persevere putting God first in our marriage. Whenever I feel doubt or fear over the future creep in, about the first day of kindergarten or whether or not our house will sell (Oh, yes--we are also moving, not far...what else can we add to August!!?) He gently reminds me that He is the ONLY constant in our lives. Let the world go crazy around us, but HE is stable and strong. Our strength comes from Him alone!
 ps I promise I'm not a weirdo about numbers, I just think God is cool, how He works and knows us so well and the "language" each of us speaks!

Thursday, June 14, 2012


When will this season of refinement for me end, dear Lord? (Not rhetorical, I'm asking Him out loud and for the blogosphere citizens to pray on my behalf!)

I finished the study of James and "BAM," God let me practice what I learned. In no particular order:
  • Slow to speak, slow to anger, quick to listen. (James 1:19)
(By the way, hover your mouse over the verses I list, I learned how to make it pop up! Super cool.)
  • Pray and read His word daily. Without fail. (1 Thes 5:17)
  • Focus on my boulders and planks in my eyes. (Mat 5:7)
 I mentioned in the last post (with some foresight, unfortunately) that I will write another post about this time of refinement I'm in. I am no longer naive in some areas of life I was before. One area is that I know refinement is a continual process that will only cease when I get to dance with Jesus. However, I have also learned that there are times of "fire" that is more focused to the point of burning me up (Isa 48:10) although I know He won't let that happen--and times where the blessings/peace feel like a summer rain. (Jer 31:25)


So why is this post titled "Perspective?" Because my sweet little Caroline got glasses last week! She has a mild discrepancy in her vision when comparing the "numbers" of both eyes. (I know very little about the world of vision. Ask me about allergies or emergent literacy, and I'll talk your ear off.)
This sweet girl was a bit nervous, but excited about getting her glasses. She loves to ask me how many days it is until something. So for ordering her glasses it was going to be 5 days. Each day she would reconfigure and say "Now tonight, I go to bed, wake up, go to bed, wake up" etc as she counted her days as waking and sleeping until the "5th" day arrived.
I've heard about how when people get glasses they are immediately awed by seeing the single leaves on the trees and noticing words on signs they never knew were there etc. I waited for that reaction...instead she kept saying it felt like she was "going up a big hill" when she walked. I tried to point out things and say "does that look different? or do you see that?" and she might nod, unenthusiastically and then say "sure does, look like a big hill..."

We are into our third week with them and today she said "I've gotten so used to them, I didn't even know I had them on!"

I completely felt the same way with Jesus. In the beginning (not my baptism, but when I really started learning about having a relationship with Him) I felt like what I needed to do to be truly free felt like a hard walk up a big hill--really? I need to pray a lot? Read my bible? That's work! I thought. Then as I dived into my first bible study I realized that it was my perspective that was wrong! It was a lie I felt like was truth. It wasn't work, doing the praying and studying was liberating and exciting! I finally felt the freedom in Christ all my "free" friends raved about.
I had gotten so used to our relationship, that I felt I was in control. I thought I knew what He wanted. I found myself feeling and speaking as if I had all the answers. I didn't even know I had Him "on."

Guess what God does when you think you have the answers...He allows you to realize you don't.

Proverbs 11:2
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

 He allowed several situations to occur within the same general time frame to teach me hard and fast that yes, He wants me to be an encourager and spread His message, but that only HE knows what people need and only HE saves. Not my words or even prayers...but by HIS saving grace and power.
  I was trying to give quick answers to help solve problems, but He gave me a grand, amazing change in PERSPECTIVE that I will never forget.

 I have to CHOOSE every morning (and maybe multiple times during the day) to seek His wisdom in order to keep a peaceful mind and loving attitude. It's not a one time choice to be made, I appreciate that our God loves us so much that He does not treat us as pawns. He wants us to freely choose Him. And guess what?? Each time I CHOOSE Him over my own desire, I end up being blessed in ways I couldn't have even imagined for myself. Yes, every time!

Every person's journey to peace and an abundant life requires steps unique to him or her. And only God knows what that entails. Even if I think I know what is happening and an "answer" that I'd love to share--it's because I assumed. Assuming to know what the other person is going through, or assuming I knew what was best for me or assuming (fill in the blank!), but assuming is not Truth. It makes me think of that old saying "If you assume, it makes a you-know-what out of you and me. (google it if you don't know it. I don't want Caroline reading it on my blog :-))
No one can assume to know what someone else is thinking or going through--we are all way to quick to try and filter people's actions and words through our own experiences, which are never the same.
So, I've learned my lesson! (I have asked God to not let me have to learn it again, one time is enough for this pain!) It is wise to be slow to speak, pray first, and at God's prompting proceed with advice, or otherwise just encourage and pray for people; don't let my own subjective truth become the first thing out of my mouth, let HIS Truth be told! And that Truth is all word for word in the bible. Yes, that's the book for me.

I am being careful and meticulous now about removing the planks in my eyes, thank goodness for the Great Physician who hears our call for help and delivers. Psalm 57:2
ps Thanks for the Henry Eye Clinic, too!

"Don't fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don't act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.
 But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action."

James 1:22-25 (message)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


No, I'm not discussing disciplining this sweet, innocent, never in trouble little boy...ha.
(ps Thank you, Sarah, for teaching him how to make a "kind" face!)
 However, I'm the one receiving the disciplining. One of the last bible study videos brought up the idea of trying to enjoy the process of refining. Well, this past month or so has tested my limits of enjoying refinement.
I know I'm usually an optimist. (I prefer optimistic realist.)
 I remember my mother in law telling me a few years ago that I was "sure squeezing the last bit of lemonade out of a lemon" when trying to look on the positive side of a bad situation. I also know my positive outlook on life can get annoying to the more central realists, or glass half empty people. Oh well. If the worst people can say about me is that I'm annoyingly positive, well then so be it. (I also know that's probably not the worst people could say about me...but I digress.)
But what happens when my full glass gets smashed to the floor and what if all of the lemons are gone? What then?
It's a paradigm shift. And that's what's happening to me.
I'm seeing the world in a new way.
I admit, I like to be challenged. It helps me see different perspectives, it stretches me (however painful it may be.) But this last month has thrown me for a loop. It reminds me of the first real earthquake I felt last year. As much as I like to talk about God being the only constant, the only unchanging, reliable factor in our lives--I kind of thought the ground I walked on was pretty constant, until the earth moved under my feet (and not in the Carole King kind of way.)
Hmm, so after the earth moved literally under my feet, do I still know that God is good? Do I still know all of my hope is in the promises He professes? Yes.
Here I am a year later from that real earthquake, sitting in a metaphorical one. Do I still know God is good? Do I still believe with all my heart that "He knows the plans to prosper us, not to harm us?" Yes.
The difference between now and then is me. I've become more grounded in prayer and scripture reading than ever before which has taken my walk with Jesus to a new level. It's simply amazing how I can feel every week or so, "I sure didn't know anything last week, I'm just beginning to understand!" and I keep feeling that way week after week, month after month. I love it. God knows we need to feel purposeful. He provides that by an unquenchable desire to know Him more. The more we seek Him, the more abundantly we live while on earth.
 I've had my eyes opened to how God prioritizes family and peace in the bible, not living a frantic, say 'yes' to every opportunity to serve no matter how "good" the intentions. He has disciplined me to see the season of life I am in now, to find a peaceful balance by discerning where I'm needed and where I THINK I'm needed. This is taking a lot of prayer and restructuring of my thinking. He's in the middle of teaching me, so I hope to have more posts on this journey. I started reading "Boundaries" by Cloud and Townsend. It was recommended to me by two separate dear friends within a week of each other. (Not a coincidence.) Just read chapter one while getting my hair cut today (multi-tasking at its best) and somehow was able to hold back the tears. It's the book for me, right now.
 I love that I have given up thinking things are coincidences and TRULY believe that every single thing happens for a reason. When I started living that way, it became a LOT easier to roll with the punches. Instead of being annoyed to the point of seeing red when I pick the slowest possible checkout line at the grocery store, I decide to say a prayer and look around to see where God might use me among the packages of gum and magazines. I say a kind word to the lady juggling three kids in the cart behind me or help unload someone else's groceries. I remember how it felt to be helped in that way, such a small gesture is just enough change from the "usual" that it may set a person's whole day in a different, positive direction. I know because I've been the one helped.  And it felt like there is some hope left. And there is.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (gotta love the message version):
 16-18So we're not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There's far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can't see now will last forever.

This song has brought me a lot of comfort over the last couple of years. I hadn't heard it in a while and God brought it back to me when I needed it this week. I hope you are blessed by it as well. Praying so hard.

I have unanswered prayers
I have trouble I wish wasn't there
And I have asked a thousand ways
That You would take my pain away
When my world is shaking
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave Your hands
"Your Hands" by JJ Heller

Monday, April 16, 2012


A big group of my friends and I just got back from a Living Proof Live event in Kansas City. Last year we went to the one in Little Rock and I wrote about it, so I'm hoping to gather my thoughts together and write about this trip...soon. ("Soon" on my blog is a relative term, I'm sure you realize.) I have about ten minutes before going to pick up the sweet kiddos at Mother's Day Out at our church. I usually take a LOT longer than ten minutes to write a post, so this is an experiment to see if I can do this quickly.

Part of the group stayed an extra night and returned home yesterday. My mind is working on all we learned and the ton of questions I have from the experience when we decide as a family to go eat out at Jason's Deli. It's quite a new experience for Tyler and I to feel it's fun to take the kids out to dinner, but we are pretty much there. Hallelujah. (Anyone with a 2 1/2 year old boy knows what I mean by this.) It was a good dinner and I was happy that Thomas ate well and even Caroline ate some tomatoes and croutons from my salad along with her organic hot dog. Okay, it wasn't organic, but Jason's Deli tries hard to be healthy so I threw that in there for their sake.

We were on our way home when she said her tongue was itchy. (FYI: Caroline is allergic to tree nuts-cashews, almonds etc.)
Alarms go off in my head, because the last time she said she was itchy it turned out to be a severe allergic reaction. We get home about ten minutes later and she is having a reaction. Her whole body is turning red and small hives are appearing. My insides start to panic, but I remember what her allergist said--Benadryl is good, but if her breathing changes go for the Epi pen. Dang--what to do?? Tyler and I bribed her to take a dose of benadryl (she hates the taste) and then put her in the bathtub to help with her itchiness, I'm still wondering if I should jab her leg with the pen...She gets out and throws up a lot. During her second bath she starts to appear and act more "normal" so I think that's when I started breathing again. I watch her like a hawk for a couple of hours and finally put her into bed late last night. She's tired, but happy at her school today.

Why tell all that on the blog? I'm not sure. I think it's because God is telling me to be vigilant.

Vigilant in protecting the kids to the best of my ability, vigilant in prayer for them and my family, vigilant in seeking God in every moment and action.

I'm sure for some people, I was one of them not that long ago, it seems strange or tiresome to relate every single thing that happens in life back to God, but it isn't strange for me anymore. I have completely realigned my thinking and prayer life to recognize every moment is part of God's plan. And His plan is to prosper us. Not necessarily monetarily or giving us all we think we want, but to refine us into the people He wants us to be.

I'm still struggling to persevere, to not grow weary, to use God's strength and not my own. Please pray for me and all of the others in your life needing encouragement today. (By the way, that's everyone in case you are wondering who needs encouragement...)

Love you all.
ps I went back to Jason's Deli today and saw that there were slivered almonds pretty close to the croutons so someone may have used the tongs for both. No more salad bars for this family. Pps I still love Jason's Deli and thank them for teaching me to be more vigilant in the fight/awareness of food allergens.

Friday, March 23, 2012


I haven't had writer's block. Quite the opposite. I've written no less than 10 posts in my head over the last month. But I came down with something worse (maybe?)

Hello. My name is Bonnie and I have writer's insecurity.
Of course this is a pic of Thomas, but it represents how I felt. (And when I look at this picture it makes me laugh so hard.)
 When did this happen? Why has this happened? WHAT'S MY FLIPPING DEAL?
These are the questions I've asked myself over the last couple of months. I'm really not sure when it started exactly.
I do know that it's been pronounced, to the point I started sweating thinking about blogging, for around three months.
I have learned quite a bit in the last few years of working through bible studies, with my coolest-group-of-girls ever, and I have learned to Go To God when something like this flares up. I knew He wanted me to work on something, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it until the last couple of weeks. I was caring WAY too much about what people thought. I've always prided (interesting word choice, you will soon learn) on not caring too much about what people thought about me. I guess I got a little to big for my britches about it and God decided to show me a place in me that had always been there, but not readily apparent, or maybe it grew from some other experience I've had.  Who knows? Who cares? It was here. And it was ugly.
The Problem:
I started worrying about what my blog is about.

And I blame Twitter. Dang you, Twitter! It started so innocently, I only followed people I love or admire: my sister in law Lauren, my friend Julie, Angie Smith, Beth Moore, then Ann Vosskamp, Jon Acuff, Holley Gerth...etc. And I love following them, they post inspiring, Christ-centered, sometimes funny, sometimes serious short comments that make me think about life in new ways.
But a funny thing happened, the more I read their tweets or blog posts, the more I compared myself to them. I felt like anything I had to write about had already been done, and WAY more polished and better.
So I had a private pity party with God about it. I knew He wanted to refine me in this area of insecurity. And you know what has helped me enough to come out of the closet and share it today?


Surprising? You really wanted me to say God tweeted it to me, admit it.
Seriously, the more I prayed, the clearer the answer became. (imagine that, prayer working?) I am still in the middle of working through it, but I do see why he allowed me to feel this way.  He just wanted me to be honest. On the blog, in my conversations, in my life. Just be honest! If I feel like posting about what cute thing Caroline said, or something that should give me the Mom of the Year Award (like realizing I forgot Thomas's shoes as we got to a park 45 minutes away--true story!), or something deep that I'm struggling through and learning in bible study--just write it up. He helped me see that why I write isn't for me, yes, it is an outlet and I do enjoy it, but it is for Caroline and Thomas.(anyone else gaining something from it is just gravy!) I may not be around for their entire lives, Lord willing. I may or may not meet grandchildren...but all that matters, all that is worth sharing and passing down to generation to generation is what I so mercifully have learned and brings me to tears just realizing how blessed I am to have come to realize that
God loves us so very much and that a RELATIONSHIP with Him, not just believing IN Him, but believing His promises, will give you a life so much more rich and full of joy than we ever thought possible. We actually get glimpses of heaven while on our hard journey through life. We don't just have to get through life (although some days are still get-through-it for me), we can ENJOY it, and every so often get a taste of what is waiting for us when our time has come.
View from my front porch yesterday, Humongo double rainbow so bright it looked impossible. God's promises are real.

He made me realize through this trial that I DO care about writing (I thought about quitting completely as an answer!) and it's my way of passing knowledge down to my kiddos. And God DOES have a plan for me (although I have to be okay with not knowing what it is at times.)
AND competing in Christ is not okay! We are all saved when we believe in Jesus, there isn't a blog post I or anyone else will write where God will say, "Hmmm, now that post deserves her radiant flooring in her mansion!"

I can honestly say, I am excited to be back writing...now, if I can just find the time to write 10 posts in a month...I guess I'll address the guilt of not writing next month. :-)

Okay, so I did get an email. But I know God told her to send it!
I was coming close to realizing a lot of this, and the final push to get over myself was an email sent by a former student yesterday. I hadn't heard from her in about a year and she took the time to email and say that my ramblings (my word not her's) on my blog meant a lot to her this year.
As I type that I hope you know with all of my being that I gave God all the glory, and I write it here just to show that God knows WHAT we need WHEN we need it. It was the final push I needed to smile at God and know He did it on purpose right then.

Words are powerful. Use your words to encourage someone, just as my student did for me yesterday, just as all of you reading this blog have done for me over the years, and as so many other writers/authors do for me every day.
I can say, since we are being honest, that I wasn't sure I'd live through the tragedy of losing Thomas. I think for a short time I was that person that the bible warns against, "you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope." 1 Thes 4:13 But I can say HONESTLY, I will not ever be that person again. I have hope.

I can't say it any better than Beth Moore's sister's prayer. Her sister posted about coming out of alcoholism and homelessness into sobriety and reclaiming a relationship with God:
“Oh thank You, oh thank You, God, for not letting me die before I got this, before I got You, this sweet relationship, this rollercoaster of a ride, this ebb and flow of faith, trust and sheer awe that leaves me begging for MORE.  I wouldn’t have wanted to miss this.  It would have been such a shame to have missed this.  Thank You for saving me so that I could experience this … experience You.  You are the Love of my life.  You are the Great Love of my life.  And I am Yours.”

 Amen, sister.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Life is Beautiful...and hard.

"Isn't it beautiful?" says Caroline as she looks at the Ozark mountains out her window as we roll down the interstate.

Caroline is 5 years old. How did this happen?! And to add to my shock of leaving preschool times behind I tried to add her Lilypie age ticker to the top of the webpage and they don't even make them for kids over the age of 4! Wow. She is growing up.

Every word I type I am dutifully, carefully choosing. I am hyper-aware that dear Hannah's life on Earth ended at age 4 as her heavenly life began.

The end of January continued to be as trying as the beginning. The month ended with my 33 birthday and Tyler's 90 year old grandmother passing away. To attend the funeral we drove down to another world, yes...south Arkansas. All joking aside, I didn't realize how pretty and peaceful it is there. Thomas' mom is from the same area as Tyler's grandmother so it was a very reflective time for all of us as I laid eyes on the place where these remarkable women spent considerable time. Listening to the eulogies from Tyler's family it all struck home, yet again, how no matter how old you are when it's your time to go, your life is guaranteed full of trials and joys. MaHolly, as the family called her, became a widow at the age of 37 with 6 children to raise. Talk about difficult times. Her children grew up to have her strength and also face trials and joys of their own. Two of her own children went on to heaven before she did. One of those being Tyler's mother.
The day of MaHolly's visitation also coincided with Caroline's 5th birthday. After what our family has been through, birthdays and holidays hold much more weight than they did before 2009. So having these two events on the same day was...interesting. I feel I know Tyler even better now that I've seen the house he and his siblings played in when visiting their grandmother and also by meeting extended family, hearing many stories that had not been retold in quite a while. Then 2 weeks later was Hannah's 7th birthday, she spent it in heaven.
Caroline with the blocks her grandpa and daddy made her for her 1st birthday. Such a blessing for her to have the only birthday gift her dad got to give her, and they were made with his own hands.
 I've grown to not dread birthdays as I did the previous years now that this is the fourth birthday of Caroline's that her daddy Thomas has celebrated in heaven, but they are significant. And they should be! Every year, every day is a gift and it should be celebrated.

C and Aly
Caroline's work from bible class: Jesus saves WHEN we doubt. Because we all do doubt. Just like Peter.
My mom told me she read this in an article Sarah Palin wrote about Trig, her son with down syndrome, "Trig is almost 4 years old now, and every morning when he wakes up, he pulls himself up, rubs the sleep out of his eyes, looks around, and then starts applauding! He welcomes each day with thunderous applause and laughter. He looks around at creation and claps as if to say, “OK, world, what do you have for me today?”
I want to be more like that. It seems the last few weeks instead of waking up welcoming each day, I wonder what trial it will hold. This isn't how I'm supposed to live life to the fullest as Thomas' life motto was. I'm well aware of it and I have every confidence that I will bounce back with a vengeance and persevere, but it takes vigilance. Vigilantly reading the bible, vigilantly praying and vigilantly giving God the worries or doubt that creeps in. The paradox is that it sounds like a lot of work, but in all actuality it causes me to be FREE. He takes on my burdens and His yoke is light.
 I just wish I could be like this 100% of the time, but alas, we weren't meant to be perfect here and I am for sure not. He uses our imperfections to teach us, to draw us closer to Him because He wants to have a relationship with us, not be a magician for us.

An electrifying day. Unicorn is always in tow with Caroline.
God knows me better than I know myself (so many times when I type something like that, I feel like I hear all of you and myself saying "Duh! We know!" but I have to keep reminding myself.)
He knew as my ladies church group AND Thursday night bible study girls began our new study of the book of James that He would be teaching me that I have big areas to gain wisdom in.

 He KNEW I couldn't handle learning all I am suppose to in one horrible month, He knew that it takes each of us a lifetime to learn lessons, He's slowly revealing them to us in a way that He knows will make us more powerful for Him. He will not break us past the point where we won't fulfill our purposes. He's got us in His hands the whole time, whether it feels like it or not. Feelings are deceiving, His promises are not.

As I had tears streaming down my face in the car, even before hearing Caroline remark on how beautiful our surroundings are, I realized right then why for over a month she has been singing over and over and over a certain song. She asks me to sing it multiple times a day, she asks me to play it on my iPhone and in the car. She sings it herself. "You are my strength when I am weak, You are the treasure that I seek, You are my all in all."

(Caroline singing "All in All" a week ago, while Thomas knocks over a lamp as accompaniment.)

Hello, Bonnie. This is God. I've been telling you every day multiple times a day through my amazing, sweet, sensitive, daughter of God, Caroline that: "You are not strong, I am strong and that's all that you need. I am your all in all. Quit trying to be strong and when you are weak--which you are,all the time--I am YOUR STRENGTH.Quit giving yourself credit for being strong, It's me and I will never cease to be your strength." (Since we have a close relationship, He can tell me harsh things and I know it's for my own good :-) )
Daddy Thomas at age 5
Caroline age 5

I have such a thick skull. Thank you, God for opening my ears. I've been praying to see you for about a month (and you have shown yourself in many ways), but I haven't been praying to hear you. I get it now.

 Yes, Caroline, yes it is beautiful. Life is beautiful. Even when circumstances are not. Even when we feel down or beat up by life, the reality is Life is Beautiful because God gave it all breath. He knew the trials we would face and He planned a life preserver for us in Jesus Christ. Thank you, God! Tomorrow morning I may wake up and clap for having another day here to spend with family and friends.

James 1:2-8
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. 
Joy: Mimi, C, and Poppy

P.S. It took me a month to memorize these verses, maybe now that I've blogged about them I can memorize the next 8 this month!

Joy. (Thomas and cousin Tate)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Three Years

How can it have been three years since that terrible day?
Becky and I have talked lately about how our minds(sin?) try to take us back to re-living the entire nightmarish day. I didn't realize other people go through that struggle as well (it's not something anyone wants to really talk about, you know?) I cannot see any good at all in walking through those memories so we both have found it very effective to just say "Stop!" (out loud if need be) and start praying and reciting scripture. Maybe no one else has this problem, but I thought I'd let others who do know what works for us. It re-focuses me, I can break free from that day and move on to the happy memories or being grateful for where we are now.

Reflecting on the last three years, I cannot believe all that has happened. I joke (although it is all too true) that according to the life stress test we take in Intro to Psychology, I should be in a mental hospital or worse...but somehow I have managed to make it. And not just make it, but thrive. Thanks be to God from whom all blessings flow.

Tyler and I have been organizing our house which feels so great and yet, the timing is a little off with the high emotions of this week and stumbling onto tons of old pictures and memorabilia.
Then as I think about it, I don't think the timing is off at all. I'm tired of waving things off as coincidence when of course God is in control and knows what I need at all times. (Why is this so hard to remember?!)
He decided to give me several gifts this week of times when He was transparent; such a rare gift it seems: As I was flipping through pictures of high school trips with Thomas, early college years and then our wedding pics, right when I thought I'd slip into the pit of despair, the next picture was of Hannah Grace at one year old. How in the world did that picture end up in that pile of pictures I will never know this side of heaven, but I don't have to know how. I know why. God was yelling at me "Bonnie--Don't go to that sadness pit, they (thomas and hannah) are fine! You and all that are still living are the ones dealing with the pain! Not them. EVERYONE will suffer loss of a loved one, Be still child and know that I am GOD, I am with you!"
I immediately felt a peace that shoved out the darkness which was threatening to overtake me. Thank you God for this miracle moment.
It's the way He works, through moments big and small. Thank you, God, that I can recognize you in ways I never did before we began our REAL relationship 12 years ago.

I read on Tara Newby's blog recently that 10 out of 10 people die. It's a fact. (She didn't cite her sources, but I find them to be true...) Why do some die too early or in certain ways, we don't understand, but as I said before, we don't need to understand. I'm trusting the bible and it says that God knows, and we just need to grieve like we have hope.
"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." 1 Thessalonians 4:13

As God continues to answer your prayers this week, I just had another miracle moment of my own. I found in another box of keepsakes, the bible that was given to Thomas from our Razorbacks for Christ campus minister when he graduated from college. In that so familiar, Thomas scrawl handwriting, I found a card he had left in his bible

 Thomas wrote "1 Thess 4:1 How to live your life Sept 8 2002"
The verse God brought to my mind today (see above) was from the same chapter as the verse Thomas referred to on this card. Awesomeness.

 Looking it up, 4:1 reads (this is the Message version, it sounds like Thomas):
"One final word, friends. We ask you—urge is more like it—that you keep on doing what we told you to do to please God, not in a dogged religious plod, but in a living, spirited dance. You know the guidelines we laid out for you from the Master Jesus. God wants you to live a pure life."

Here's the link to the whole section which speaks to me in so many ways tonight. 

As I think about what I've learned in my bible studies this past year, God is telling me to listen (read His words,) believe, and LIVE!

Proverbs 4:20-22 (msg)
"Dear friend, listen well to my words;
   tune your ears to my voice.
Keep my message in plain view at all times.
   Concentrate! Learn it by heart!
Those who discover these words live, really live;
   body and soul, they're bursting with health."

I want to live, really live--so all of you help me stay accountable to concentrating on God's word.
Happy 2012--make it count!
Love, Bonnie

(a BIG) PS: (it wouldn't be a post from me with several parentheses and a "PS" at the end, would it?)
I debated on whether or not to post this picture again, and then the answer was given to me.
As "mom of the year 2012", I let Thomas play with my iphone. As I was going through pictures to post on this blog, I came across one I strangely hadn't noticed. Thomas had taken pictures of himself at some point this week! I'll let you see why I decided to post them (both are completely unedited.)

Link to original post about this awesome pic