Tag Archives: Christmas

Miracles at Christmas

I felt like I stood at the edge of a cliff looking out over the next month or so, seeing Christmas and all the wonderful and hard it would be. It was quite overwhelming, facing another year without Lizy. I told myself it should and would be easier, but I couldn’t deny the ache growing in my heart that something would be missing from our Christmas this year, just as it was last year.  Then I felt as though someone gave me a great shove off that precipice and Christmas was rushing up to meet me head on, much faster than I wanted it to.

But a few things happened this year, that made Christmas miraculous. Honestly, I believe Christmas is miraculous every year because for our family it is a time to Celebrate the miracle of Christ, but this year became special in it’s own way.

I would love to say that our Christmas was miraculous because the kids got along and there was less fighting. Or that I held myself together with grace and accomplishment and didn’t get upset or frustrated at all with kids. But, that was not the case. Our kids still fought, and I was a sobbing mess on a number of occasions.

One of the first miracles came early in December. I was working on making gifts when I discovered I needed some key rings to finish them off. I knew we had a bunch somewhere and started to dig through boxes that had been stowed away and almost forgotten. One such box was marked “Mom-Office/kids gifts.” I had forgotten that when we had moved from Oregon, I had packed away the odds and ends the kids had bestowed upon me in a box with some office stuff (mainly old negatives). Curious as to what I would find I opened the box eagerly.

Tears sprung to my eyes as my gaze landed on a miniature stuffed black cat. To any typical observer, this little cat would have looked worn, and maybe a little rag-tag. Some would call it worn out or ratty, others well-loved. To me, it was a special love note from heaven. It had been a cherished treasure of our precious Lizy. To me it was a note from Heaven, telling me that Heavenly Father was ever aware of my aching heart and my needs. It was a special gift from my Lizy at a special time of year. It’s name is *Oreo, and he kept me company through the rest of the month, sitting on my desk, watching over the gifts I made for my family.

I carried the box upstairs and continued to go through it, I found cards and bookmarks she had made for me, and nick-knacks she and her sisters had given me through their early years. My heart swelled and I burst out laughing with love and delight as my gaze fell upon a piece of paper with a lizard sticker on it with the words, in Elizabeth’s writing, “Your pet Lizard (Me)!” I was overwhelmed, not only had I been blessed with little Oreo, but so many wonderful treasures that I hadn’t set eyes on in years.  It felt like special gifts from Lizy all over again, even more cherished the second time.

Our next miracle came in disguise. At first I thought I was providing someone else with  a miracle, but I think it was more for me than for the receiver. I have noticed numerous times when I headed to the fabric store (located in a large shopping center with a Walmart and numerous other stores) a homeless woman standing with a sign in the median in the entrance to the parking lot. A few times I had the thought to give her some food, but I was always stuck in moving traffic and a quick scan of the car never yielded anything of sustenance or warmth. This particular day as I began to pass the woman, I thought, when are you going to quit thinking of helping her, and actually do something about it? Immediately I felt small and I knew that Heavenly Father wanted me to help this woman. No more excuses about not having anything in the car, or being in too much of a hurry to go into the store to get something.

At first I thought I could buy her a hamburger meal or something, but then I felt something more sustaining was needed. I maneuvered our van into the neighboring lane that turned right and pulled back into the parking lot further down. Excitement thrilled inside me as I unloaded the two little boys and started on my shopping trip. I knew it couldn’t be too much, she had to carry it, after all, and I didn’t want it too heavy. Into the cart went some bread, peanut butter and jam, fruits and vegetables, milk, and a special Christmas treat. The boys were excited and happy to make suggestions.

I paid and carted the bags to the car, carrying them by hand across the parking lot to test their heaviness. I condensed the items into as few bags as possible and set them on the passenger seat for easy access.  Knowing that I had been inspired to do this thing, I hopped into the car and pulled into the first left turning lane so I could hand the bags out the window to the woman. My heart thumped and I grinned from ear to ear as I pulled forward.

She wasn’t there.

I frowned, trying to decide what this meant. Perhaps I had been mistaken in my thought this was a prompting. Perhaps I should just take the food home, goodness knows we would make fast use of the groceries. But no, I had the though to try again. Just as I turned left onto the highway, I saw the woman cutting across the parking lot. I drove off, looking for a place to turn around. There wasn’t a place to turn quickly, so it took me a while to get back and into that left turning lane. This time it would work out.

She wasn’t there.

I frowned again, having many of the same thoughts and once more receiving the feeling to try again. So, I made that same left turn, and again saw her crossing the parking lot just as I turned. I drove off to make my turn around. This time though, I was going to drive about the parking lot to see if I could find her, and I wouldn’t get into the left turn only lane.

I got back to the parking lot and began driving around. The longer I drove and looked the more discouraged I became. I wondered if I had imagined the feeling, or if perhaps the food was meant for someone else. I wondered how long I should search, it wasn’t too long before the girls would be coming home from school. I got the distinct impression to look until I found her.

My search turned up nothing. I crossed over the highway and looked in the parking lot of another large store and a fas tfood restaurant, praying all the while. Finally I was sitting back at the light, only on the opposite side of the street. I had a decision to make. To turn and go home or to go straight and look some more. A considerable amount of time had passed and I doubted I would find her. Then, as I waited to pull up to the light, I spotted her on the opposite side of the road. I watched, fascinated as she crossed the first half of the highway. Then I mentally urged her to hurry as the light turned green and cars ahead of me began to go.  I drove as slow as I could and breathed a sigh of relief when the light turned yellow as the car in front of me went through.

I stopped and watched as she crossed the rest of the way to my side of the highway. I rolled down the passenger window and began waving my arms, trying to capture her attention. She glanced my way, and then, as I motioned her towards me, stepped between cars. I pointed to the bags as she looked in my van. “I’ve been looking for you,” I said, “these groceries are for you.”

Her face sprung into an astonished and grateful smile as she uttered thanks. Gathering the bags she hurried out of the street and back to the sidewalk. My heart swelled and my eyes filled as I watched her walk down the sidewalk in my rear-view mirror, bags in hand. And I was immediately grateful for the miracle of being able to bless someone’s life. That experience has blessed me and taught me much, and I am so glad I didn’t give up when I couldn’t find her the first, second, or even the third time.

The next miracle came in the form of generosity from others towards our family. Beautiful, wonderful and special – these people who brought us these wonderful group of miracles will never know how much they blessed our family, in so many more ways than they could ever imagine.

Then came a miracle on Christmas Eve. It was so wonderful and so very hard. We had Christmas dinner and Robert’s elbow wound out being pulled out – a wonderful member of the ward and friend who is a pediatrician took the time to come put it back in so we could avoid the ER on Christmas Eve and we were able to continue with our acting out the Nativity with a happy little boy.

The day and evening finally wound to a close. Santa Daddy had come and bestowed his gifts to the family, the stocking were filled, and the presents placed beneath the tree. Everything was done, except for the cinnamon buns that would raise all night for breakfast the next morning. I quickly put them together while Paul washed up some final dishes from the day. It was late and I was tired. I heated the syrup on high and, turning the stove off, poured it over the cinnamon buns. I went to cover them with plastic, but realized they would rise better on the stove, a warmer spot in the kitchen. I glanced at the stove. It was a mess. I grabbed a clorox cleaning wipe and, forgetting that I had moments ago turned the burner from high heat to off, placed my hand right down on the burner.

Oh, how I howled. The pain was excruciating and I dove for the cold water. Tears streamed down my face and my hand just burned in pain. Paul grabbed some burn cream and we slathered it over my hand. I sat, crying, hoping that it wouldn’t be to bad, hoping to avoid the hospital, and wondering what I would do on Christmas if I couldn’t play the piano for the family or play with the kids. I tearfully asked Paul for a priesthood blessing. By morning the pain had diminished to almost nothing. My hand still ached a little and felt slightly swollen, but there was no sign of a burn other than slightly red skin and two tiny little blisters on the pads of my first and second fingers.

By lunchtime my hand felt totally normal and I was playing the piano without any trouble. What a wonderful miracle for our family. What a wonderful moment to share with the children. It was another love note from Heavenly Father telling me that he cared.

Our final miracle came Christmas night. A marvelous miracle brought to us by so many. We had invited people to join us in filling Lizy’s stocking with acts of service. We gathered on Christmas evening around the tree and emptied out the full stocking and began taking turns reading the wonderful acts of service that not only our family had put in her stocking, but that so many had done and told to us so we could put them in her stocking.  I am sure Lizy was with us, grinning from ear to ear over her Christmas gift. And, not only did it help us all feel closer to Lizy, but it helped us feel closer to our Savior Jesus Christ.

So, our Christmas was full of miracles both big and small. We saw the hand of God in our lives time and time again. I know Heavenly Father is aware of us. He is aware of our struggles and trials, our heart aches and sorrows. He knows exactly what we need. I shudder to think that I could have so easily overlooked some of these miracles. Sometimes they can be hard to see and go unnoticed. Sometimes we can be so caught up in our troubles that we forget to look up and see the light. He is there and He loves us. He will never ever leave us. Sometimes He is easily seen, and sometimes we have to look for Him.

I am in awe of our wonderful miraculous Christmas, and so very, very grateful.

*a long time ago I wrote this post about Lizy and her Oreo – complete with a picture of the little stuffed kitten.

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Filed under Family, Lizy, Miracles

Christmas!!

Well, I pulled off a home made Christmas! Though we had some wonderful contributions from others – so it wasn’t all home made, though my portion was.

Anyway, it was SO much fun, and a ton of work, and a huge success! So, per demand by my non-facebook user friends here are the long awaited for photos (since they involved some of Paul’s presents, I had to wait until after Christmas to post)

Robert made Story stones for his brothers and sisters (he made a set for himself too for after Christmas) and and a picture frame for Dad from when we made the alphabet – it says “LUV”

Gifts from Robert!

One of the highlights (and funnest things for me to make ) Were the Hary Potter wands – our of paper and hot glue! I also made everyone spell books, and I made the kids robes too.

Harry Potter

Every year we do pajamas, this year I had material I had found clearenced earlier in the year, so I made all the kids Lizard pj pants and Lizy shirts! I made Paul and I Lizy shirts too.

Lizard Pajamas

Since we gave the kids the pajamas early – at Thanksgiving – I made Lizy Lizard slippers for the whole family (Dad and I included). Santa Dad brought these to everyone on Christmas Eve.

Lizy Lizard Slippers

I made Paul this Nativity & gave it to him early.

Nativity

Operation Incognito was a huge hit! I made the beards and mustaches and found the fedoras & glasses at the dollar store.

Operation Incognito!

For each of the kids I made a peg people set – I made the peg people out of wood pieces I had laying around. Paul cut blocks for me for backgrounds. I painted (quickly and not very well) a background for each set on one side of the blocks and on the otherside I painted a chalkboard so they can design their own sets.

Peg People

Probably the thing I was most excited about was this Star Wars chess set I made for Paul.

Star Wars Chess Set

Paul decided I should attempt the deathly hallows – so here are the invisible cloak, elder wand, and resurrection stone – inside a snitch that opens and closes. Paul helped me with the snitch. 🙂

The Deathly Hallows

For each of the kids I made a neat art carrying case. It has big pockets for notebooks and such on one side and small slots for crayons, colored pencils, etc. on the other side.

Art Bags

I made Paul this backgammon board – though he made the tray! I didn’t tell him what I was going to do with the tray, I just asked him if he could build me one. Then I painted it and turned it into a backgammon board and gave it to him for Christmas.

Backgammon for Paul!

Home made Bananagrams game! I’m excited to play this with the kiddos.

Bananagrams

Dot made fort kits for the boys, some beautiful jewelry for Em, and a neat picture cube (out of old CD cases) for Paul to store things in on his desk.

Gifts from Dorothy

Emily made the boys stick horses, Dot a jar with “156 reasons why we love you” in it, and a picture cube (like Dot made) for Dad.

Gifts from Em!

Jacob made all the siblings tic tac toe games (and one for himself for after Christmas) and a picture for Dad that says “DAD”

Gifts from Jacob!

James made prayer rocks for the siblings (and one for himself for after Christmas) and a frame for Dad that spelled “FUN”. He also made with Dad, that neat American flag for me! – he drew up the plans on a piece of paper and asked Dad to help him build it. He painted it all himself (with a little help from Dad on the stars). It’s pretty awesome!

Gifts from James

I think I got everything captured here! It was fun and wonderful and full of miracles that I will have to write about here really soon. For now, I need to go celebrate James’ birthday! He’s 6 today!!

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Filed under Getting Crafty

Nativity

So, I had the thought while I was making the peg people for Christmas to do a nativity – but I didn’t think I had enough pieces for it. After some extra encouragement from friends though, I began digging through my box and found a number of pieces I could use – they are pig than my original peg people – which is kinda nice for the nativity. I had a ton of fun and spent every spare moment I had painting on it for the last few days. (When I get excited about something, I have a hard time leaving it alone).

So, here are the pictures of my nativity – technically it’s Paul’s Christmas present – even though he’s seen it throughout the process.

Full Nativity

Full Nativity

 

Joseph, Mary, Jesus, Angel, Cow, & Donkey

Mary, Joseph, Jesus, & Angel

 

Shepherds & sheep

 

Shepherds

Three Wisemen & their camels

3 Wisemen

Full Nativity

 

Full Nativity

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A Perfectly Imperfect Christmas

I woke up Christmas Eve morning, my entire body feeling heavy, like it was difficult to breathe.  My heart felt like it was  broken and trying to pump lead . Some days over the past months are easier than others and that day, it just plain hurt. It had been building over the weekend. The family had been fighting more and I found myself wishing that things could just be easy, for a few minutes if nothing else. In a spot in life where remembering to be happy and to smile can be hard, some days, I just wish for easy. I sat in the bathroom sobbing. All I wanted was to have everything back to how it had been before Lizy died. Sure, life would be far from perfect, but it wouldn’t be impossible.

But, it was Christmas Eve day and dinner had to be made and all the other preparations and I couldn’t let my family down. I struggled through the day. We all did. I think we fought more than we ever had. I cried more than I ever have. Everything felt broken. Nothing seemed to work right. And I caught myself thinking numerous times, “How can we hope to be an eternal family and see Lizy again, if we can’t make it through a few hours without a major fight.” I sobbed, I pounded on my husband’s chest and soaked his shirt with helpless tears and no clue how to fix everything that was broken, because it wasn’t the kind of broken that could be fixed with some duct tape or crazy glue.

I pulled my self together for the fifth or sixth time that day, smeared my tears away and ran a last minute trip to the store, trying to collect myself, knowing that when I got back our adopted grandparents would be there and the festivities would begin. I cried some more in the car and hoped my eyes didn’t look too red. I tried my best to wish the cashier a cheery “Merry Christmas.” I don’t know if I was convincing or not.

Sure enough, as I arrived at the house they were there. I walked in and my heart lightened. It was Christmas Eve. It would be perfect, and even though we couldn’t see her, I knew Lizy would be there.

We ate dinner and acted out the nativity – the kids insisted on Lizy being the angel and we draped the white lab coat (angel costume) around her picture. We made it through, I laughed and had fun – the kids were so cute in their costume and we felt the spirit and Lizy’s presence. Santa came and brought pjs and we tucked the kids into bed.

We spent the next couple hours cleaning up and getting ready for Christmas morning and then, as I stood there and looked at the fully packed stockings and Lizy’s rather lacking one the tears hit again and all the missing came back.

I cried myself to sleep.

I awoke on Christmas in a post-cry haze to the sound of the girls whispering excitedly. The day progressed remarkably smoothe – I was wrapped up in the joy of the children. I didn’t mind the crazyness and the mess. There were a few tense moments,fights and one rather large explosion at one point, but I managed to hold it together some what.

Evening came and we sent the kids off to bed and I stood staring at the fireplace mantel where all the stockings, now empty, hung. All but one. Lizy’s sat on the hearth still waiting to be opened. We brought the kids back down and sat on the floor by the tree. I shook out her stocking and paper after paper tumbled out. Paul and I began to read – our Christmas gifts to Lizy. Most were acts of service or kindness carried out by our family, but some were by others – even a neighbor down the street had dropped some by. We read, and read and read. Often times our voices cracking with emotion.

As we finished, Emily climbed, sobbing, into my lap. “I can’t believe all the service that was done for her.” She choked out. We cried together, all of us – Dot and Dad, Jacob, Em, James, and I. Robert looked on in bewildered 2-year-old innocence. As the tears dried I looked at the family. I knew Lizy was there too. It was perfect – a perfectly imperfect Christmas. And for that one little moment I caught a glimpse of heaven. A glimpse of what it’s all about.

We might fight, we might argue, but we also love. We love deeply and eternally.   Our dear sweet kids have struggled and strived and done hard things – some of the hardest things they may ever have to do. My husband has been my solid rock. My littlest boys have been some of my greatest comfort. Last night as I glanced around at the messy house and the toys and wrappings scattered about all I could remember was the happiness of the day, the gratitude in my heart, and the joy that I had a family and friends who cared so much that they filled Lizy’s stocking with service that took us well over thirty minutes to get through. And that time when I cried, it wasn’t so much tears of sadness and missing Lizy, as it was an overwhelming feeling of gratitude.

I knew Lizy was thrilled and I knew that no matter how hard, how much we fought, how impossible it all felt and seemed, that we would make it through – we’ll have a lot more rough patches to still make it through – but we’ll get there one way or another. I’ll fight for it, our family will fight for it, and we might mess up big in the process, but that’s what this season is all about. A celebration of the birth of the one person who made it all possible – Jesus Christ.  With His help, and only with His help can we do it, – and we will. I know it.

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Filed under Child loss, Family, Lizy, Parenting, Religion

All I want(ed) for Christmas is (was) a Toilet Seat

Ah!

What a lovely Christmas we had!

And birthday too, as James turned 4 two days after. I will write about that later though.

We had our traditional re-enactment of the Christmas Story on Christmas Eve – which turns out more COMEDY than seriousness – but I think they still get the message of the true meaning of Christmas.

See Below:

2011 Christmas Collage 1

First Jacob looks like he’s doing some sort of crazy bizarre thing.

Then Dad is giving him a talking to while James looks like he’s about to pounce on Emily.

Finally they all manage a quick smile.

Then Dad insists that Mom hop in the picture and Jacob spreads his angel wings.

So that is reminiscent of the whole evening – as you can see here:

2011 Christmas Collage 2

I think that the idea of Jacob as the angel was amusing in and of itself as he tends to CAUSE (and get into) the MOST trouble

After we sent them off to bed “Santa” came…

2011 Christmas Collage 3

2011 Christmas Collage 4

Christmas morning dawned with EXCITEMENT and FUN

 

2011 Christmas Collage 5

The boys LOVED the quilts that I managed to throw together in five days

(silly me, thinking that I had plenty of time…)

And Dad loved his presents, apparantly….

2011 Christmas Collage 7

But the FUNNIEST moment of the days was when…

The kids opened up their brand new toilet seat!

2011 Christmas Collage 6

So, the story…

A few days before Christmas the toilet seat in the kids’ bathroom broke. While Paul and I were out Christmas shopping we bought a new one.

That night, as we went through our stash and tallied things up, we pulled the toilet seat from the pile.

“What if,”  my husband suggested, “we give it to the kids for Christmas.”

“Oh, that would be a riot!” I exclaimed.

So we did, and it was.

Though Dot had to ask,

“Is it clean?”

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Filed under Bobert, Children, Dot, Em, Every Day Life, Humor, Jacob, James, Lizy

100 Word Challenge – 50/50

Yay! Another 100 word challenge!

This week is quite unique and fun – it’s a

50/50 challenge.

The theme is

“The Season”

Here’s the idea:

you write 50 words now (the beginning) then go read the others and choose one to finish. When you’ve chosen you write a 50 word ending to their 50 word beginning.

Pretty cool!

Here’s mine….

“Season’s Greetings”

Jenna sighed as the doorbell rang. The last time she’d seen him she was a fifteen-year-old klutz with a crush. The sound of male voices and laughter drew her to the door. She smiled at his stunned expression and didn’t notice the puddle of melted snow on the wood floor.

Well, there you go!

Go HERE to read the others.

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Hippo the Hero

Whew!

Things have been CRAZY busy.

I THOUGHT I had everything ready for Christmas.

Or at least close to ready.

I WAS WRONG!

Paul and I finished up the last of the shopping Friday night and sat down to total everything up.

Turns out, that those quilts I had decided to post pone making until birthdays were CRUCIAL Christmas items.

So, between late Friday night and this afternoon I have been frantically putting together TWO twin-sized quilts and a fleece blanket.

That explains why I missed Monday.

Anyway, I am officially ready now.

YAY!

and looking forward to doing a new 100 word challenge – but that will have to wait until Friday.

So, tonight, Emily and I went to do her Christmas shopping.

Usually the kids make stuff, but I have been SO busy, that I hadn’t had the chance to help them, so we just went to the dollar store.

We walked up and down the aisles trying to find something for Liz and then stopped dead in our tracks.

I pointed at a toy hippo.

“Give her a hippopotamus for Christmas!”

Emily started laughing. I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas is her (Liz’s)  FAVORITE song.

I even found the sheet music to it this year and added it to our sing around the piano pile.

After we checked out we went to the car.

The radio came on and

guess what song they were playing??

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Filed under Children, Em, Every Day Life, Lizy, Music