Wednesday, March 30, 2016

I'm Here and All Is Well

I know it's been a while... I thought maybe to post this on facebook but changed my mind and decided to add it to the blog.   I have to add a favorite picture of Cayla too... :)

It's 2:30pm and I'm supposed to be sleeping for work tonight, but I can't.  I thought I'd wash up some dishes and was listening to the same CD I mentioned earlier in the blog in July 2013. In that blog post, I was talking about the song "God's Been Good".  I haven't been able to sing it because of the line that says, "...And though I've had my share of hard times, I wouldn't change them if I could."  I thought I was getting to a place where I could sing that, trusting God for everything, the good and bad.  Apparently I'm not there yet.  Sigh... Deep breath.  Pouring my heart out to God and lots of tears are very cleansing.  I couldn't stop though which is odd.  I haven't had that happen in quite some time. 

Then my thoughts took a turn as I continued to cry. I started feeling like all this with Cayla was some kind of punishment for sin in my life (a thought directly from Satan) and started going through my life confessing sin and crying.  That feeling of how much I've disappointed God and why I even should keep trying at such a hopeless cause was overwhelming me. Why does God put up with me?  I'm such a mess in so many ways.  All I could think was that God is probably pretty fed up with me.

Once again, the CD kept playing and the other song I love on this cd was playing, "Even in the Valley".  It was at the 2nd verse and I started listening to words that jumped out and spoke to my heart.                                

          The road of life has led you to a valley of defeat.
              You wonder if the Father has heard your desperate plea,
          But there is hope in the rugged place where tears of sorrow dwell.
              Can't you hear him gently whispering,
                                ''I'm here, and all is well.''
              Even in the valley God is good.
              Even in the valley He is faithful and true.
              He carries His children through like He said He would,
              Even in the valley God is good.

So then the tears came all over again, but good tears.  "...for His mercy endureth forever." came to mind from every verse in Psalm 136.  He does forgive.  He does cleanse.  He does love unconditionally.  He does care about my struggles.  He does know my heart more than I do.  He does love ME.   After being saved for over 40 years, that thought still overwhelms me.  I COULD hear Him gently whispering, "I'm here, and all is well."  I felt His arm around me, and His love pour over me.  Can't explain any more than that.  It's just an incredible feeling. 

Thank you Father for Your unwavering, incomprehensible love to me a sinner who loves You and believes You and Your Word completely.   

Friday, December 19, 2014

My Grandma's Bible

So last night Lowell handed me an old Bible that he had found.  It was printed in 1941 and falling apart a bit.  As soon as I saw all the little notes and clippings in it, I knew it was my Grandma Brook's Bible. The first section it opened up to had about 10 little papers there.

There's a newspaper clipping from April 22, 1926:

 "Life's Golden Rule"
If only thoughtless people would take a little heed
and think about their neighbors, their troubles and their need.
It never just occurs to them that in their selfish way,
Maybe they've dimmed the sunlight and darkened someone's day.

If only busy people would linger for a while
and stop to do a kindly act then pass on with a smile.
The world would be a warmer place if only now and then,
We all would stay to think a bit about our fellow men.

There's a Christmas letter from Marge and Chester from 1988.

There's a card with John 11:25-26 on it that you have to look from the side angle with the paper almost flat and rotate it 4 times to see the whole verse come to life.  :)  See picture below.

Then there is a little newspaper clipping of Jimmy's obituary.  It doesn't look like the whole thing, but I'm not sure.  This caught my eye, because no one ever really talked about little Jimmy.  We all knew he was our uncle who died as a child, but Grandma and Grandpa never said much about him, especially Grandpa.  Actually my mom never said much about him either. I have to share this though:

BROOKS - In loving memory of our dear wee son Jimmy
who passed away May 31, 1945 age 3 years 9 months.
Two little hands are resting,
A loving heart is still,
A little son we loved is waiting
For us just over the hill. 
-Sadly missed by Mummie, Daddy and sister Mary.
BROOKS - In loving memory of my dear nephew Jimmie Filson Brooks
who passed away May 31, 1945.
Gone from us but leaving memories
Death can never take away.
Memories that will always linger
While upon this earth we stay.

Then there is a poem typed out on a leaflet.
Thine and Mine

I closely held within my arms
A jewel rare;
Never had one so rich and pure
Engaged my care;
'Twas my own, my precious jewel,
God gave it me;
'Twas mine, who else could care for it,
So tenderly?

But the Master came one day
My gem to take;
I cannot let it go, I cried,
My heart would break:
Nay, but the Master comes for it, 
To bear above
To deck His royal diadem,
He comes in love.

But, Master, it is my treasure,
My jewel rare,
I'll safely guard and keep it pure,
And very fair;
If thou keep'st my gem, He said,
It may be lost;
The threshold of My home, no thief
Has ever crossed.

And where the heart's rich treasure is,
The heart will be;
Thy jewel will be safe above,
Gone before thee.
The Master said these words and gazed
With pitying look,
While in the early hush of morn
My gem He took

Close to my heart that morn I held,
Tears falling fast,
An empty casket - the bright gem
Was safe at last.
Yes, Master, thou may'st keep my own,
For it is Thine;
Safe in the house not made with hands,
'Tis Thine and Mine.

My grandma wrote at the top, From Aunt Maria, June 1945.  This poem is true and comforting to think that these little ones are in Heaven with God, but the whole idea of God taking my child for a jewel on His crown or to protect them from the hurts and evil of this world, just doesn't seem quite right.  That makes God look kind of selfish to me.  From my perspective as a parent who's lost a child, that's not what I want to hear.  Maybe my grandparents weren't comforted as they mourned the loss of their child.  They had 4 children and my mom was the only one to live to be an adult.  Even then my grandmother nursed my mom to her death in 1994 with cancer.  She outlived all 4 of her children.  I don't think she ever really accepted Jimmy's death and literally mourned him her whole life, as well as the daughter that died within her womb at 7 months along where she was told she had to wait and have the baby naturally when the time came and carried the dead baby, I don't remember, maybe another month or something crazy like that before she gave birth. The only time I heard about this story was when I was 7 months pregnant with Samuel...  I told her that's not the kind of story I wanted to hear at that time.  :)  Loved my grandma to death!

 I can't say for certain what caused them all to never talk about Jimmy or her other lost babies, but I too, mourn my daughter's death, but I am also rejoicing in her life!  I know God had a purpose for Cayla Joy's life.  It wasn't in vain.  God grew us all.  Grew our faith, our prayer life and even brought people to know Jesus as their Savior.  :)  Every little life that dies, whether we see the purpose of their death or not, has a purpose.  We can become stronger and not even realize it.

I still do trust God no matter what the reason for Cayla's or little Jimmy's death may be.  I found this poem quite the thought provoker last night as I read it.  It's good, and it could be comforting I suppose.  :)  I just thought it was kind of neat to find things in her Bible from the 1940's about the loss of a child and about little Jimmy.  My mom was 5 yrs old when he was born and 8 1/2 when he died.  I know my mom's life changed.  She said she grew up kind of lonely and even though she knew her parents loved her, they never said the words.  It was that experience in her life that made her determined that if God ever allowed her to get married and have children, that they would hear those words daily and not just know they were loved.  All of us 4 children benefited from Jimmy's death, sad to say.  That whole experience helped to make my mom who she was, which was pretty awesome.  :)

There was also a bookmark with Psalm 23 on it:
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures;
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.
Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil.
For Thou are with me.
Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
Thou anointest my head with oil;
My cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Now that's comforting!  :)

She had a bookmark I made her when I was in junior high  (kind of has that look about it...) out of construction paper.  :)

There's 3 unused hankies.  One from Ireland from Dr and Mrs Beggs, her pastor and great friends.  One has a sticker saying it's made in Switzerland, and the last one has pretty purple flowers.

Wow.  There's another hand-written poem that's hard to read but it has a line that says something about grief being selfish.  I don't know.  How you handled grief in the 40's was obviously a little different than what we do now.  No tears.  Be strong.  = Not good.  I feel bad for them not being truly free to express their grief.  It makes me even more thankful for all my friends and blog friends who've prayed for us through Cayla's life and death.  

I still cry at times and will in the future.  I also feel like it was all a dream.  Same things I've said before.  I'm just blessed to live in a day and time where I'm free to grieve.  We are all different.  It's all good.  I know I'll see Cayla again.  God is good all the time - Even when bad things happen.  He doesn't change.  He never will.  There is evil and sin on this earth, but that doesn't define who God is.  He has not only been holding my hand these past 3 years, but has been carrying me through it all.  :)  

I have enjoyed going through this Bible and all my grandma's little treasures in it.  So many more, but this is enough.  I was just touched to find something in this Bible about the child my grandma lost, little Jimmy.  Sixty-nine years later, this wee little uncle of mine, comes up to be remembered again a couple of years after Cayla died.  I feel a bond with my grandma I hadn't thought about before, after reading these little snippets from her life.  God is so good. 

I broke down and took some pics.  :)

There's an old Christmas card on the bottom left as well.
Does anyone remember the verse card in the bottom right that I was referring to?
It looks like a pattern straight on, but you have to hold it at an angle to read it.  :)
Anyways. The hankies, the poems, the bookmarks,
and there's probably 5 times this little pile of papers and things that were in her Bible.  :) 

The little paper in the middle is the obituary for wee Jimmy.
You can click on the pics to make them larger.

Thanks for reminiscing with me tonight!  I'll have to find a good picture of me and my grandma to add to this.  It would take me a while to dig and find them and I already accidentally clicked "Publish" a while ago when I wasn't even half done instead of "Preview".  So some of you might have only read part of this. Maybe I'll add another picture sometime later.  :)  May God bless all of you!  

Sunday, June 22, 2014

God gave me a huge blessing today of all days!

Two years ago today, Cayla Joy died and saw Jesus face to face.  I didn't plan on writing today, didn't really plan to do much today.  Then God steps in and does something completely unexpected and wonderful.  Well this quote sums up my morning today from 3 am till 8 am and then the story to follow. :)

I don't want to use your names, but for you two guys in this story, I hope you let me know when you've read this.  You asked if I'm still writing in my blog, and yes I am today because of you.  So much to say about those 5 hours this morning.  I don't look for things to write about, but there are things that God puts in my life that I can't help but write about.

I haven't woke up in the middle of the night for quite a long time.  Last night I woke up at 3 am.  Saw my clock, sat up, and thought I guess I'll go to the bathroom. No sooner am I in the bathroom downstairs when I hear talking.  I thought maybe Samuel left something running, but soon realized it was coming from outside.  So I pulled the window down and there's a Rondevous facing me across the parking lot.  There's an agitated girl and 2 guys outside the vehicle.  I listened for a moment and asked if everything was okay.  The 2 guys walked over and said her tire blew and their phones weren't charged, etc. and they needed some help.  I asked if they had a spare, they went and asked her while I went upstairs to tell Lowell there were some people outside.  They came back over and said there was no spare tire, but her boyfriend in Conneaut (at least 30+ minutes from here) had a car with 2 other flats that they could use a tire from.  So, being that I'm the outgoing and awake one, we decided Samuel would drive me, this girl, her 20 month old and her friend to Conneaut to get this tire and her boyfriend and drop off the baby and friend.  We get there and he is trying to find a jack.  Cutting through some details, we were there awhile, while he worked hard to get the tire off his car.  We loaded up the tire, her and her boyfriend and headed home.  Found out on the ride home that she didn't know where to look for the spare and that she hadn't looked under the car.  I just had to laugh at the way this morning was progressing.  It only got "worse".  

Sooooo, when we got home, she realized she left her keys to the car at her house we were just at.   I laughed out loud as I gave her my phone and asked her to call friends that could help her.  I didn't care if it was 4 in the morning.  She wasn't having great success.  I kept making comments about everyone and everything that was happening, making everyone laugh throughout the morning.  

Meanwhile, her boyfriend was diligently trying to get this flat tire off her car.  It was long hard work. At one point he flipped the bar up into his face, just under his eye and gouged it a bit.  Then he was standing on the bar to loosen a lug nut when he slipped and his feet pounded hard into the concrete.  Well he was wearing shoes he wore this week while roofing.  There were 2 roofing nails stuck in the bottom of his shoes that pierced his foot and started bleeding when he landed.  He cut his fingers, pinched them, you name it.  It was almost humorous to watch.  He had a fairly good attitude about it all.   

So he finally brought the tire over we had picked up, and guess what? You're right!  It didn't fit. I laughed again.  There was actually a spare tire under her car, yet they couldn't get it off.  I went in and grabbed my Kindle Fire, pulled up the internet and googled, How to remove the spare tire from a Rondevous.  We found the latch inside the vehicle, but it still wouldn't release the tire. The three guys worked on getting that tire out from under there for quite some time.  I'm still making comments, sitting on the ground with them talking to them all, keeping the mood light.  At different times throughout the morning I mentioned how I don't get up in the night, but did tonight.  One of them said that yeah, this was all meant to be.  So I agreed and said God directs our paths and this was no accident to Him.  They agreed too.  

She had tried to call her parents in Ashtabula, but was basically unsuccessful at that until around 6:30 am or so.  She was yelled at even at 28 yrs old with 5 children.  Rightly so in some ways, but her parents who actually don't live far from us, decided they would first go back out to Conneaut to get her keys and check on the grandchildren and then head back here to Bible Baptist Church. 

It was going to be yet another hour or more.  I sat out there and continued to talk with them.  The sun came up in a beautiful sunrise.  At one point, her boyfriend said that this is NOT how he had planned to spend his morning.  I thought about it and said, "You know, this isn't how I thought I'd be spending my morning either.  Today is the 2nd anniversary of the day my daughter died."  They all looked at me.  I told them a little about Cayla Joy and all the things that God had done through her little life.  They were all listening closely and saying how sorry they were for me.  I appreciated that.  I had a chance to tell them about how God has worked in my life and many others too.  Her boyfriend, I could tell, didn't really want to listen to me talk about God, so he tried to get me flustered when I was talking about the Bible being the one book that is absolute truth.  He asked me how I know that with all the different Bibles out there?  I wasn't going to go down that path and get distracted from the message that needed to be shared, so I said that growing up I had a New American Standard Bible, yet now I have a King James Bible.  I told him, "You know what?  They all tell the story of Jesus and how he came to the earth to take our punishment for us on the cross so we could go to heaven when we die."  It was actually a perfect way to lead into the gospel story.  He eventually got up and walked around the parking lot.  But I still got to share the precious story of Jesus with the other 3 there.  The phone rang, distractions came up, but I was able to continue telling them what Jesus did for us and how much He loves us.  

It was quiet for a while, and the one guy who lives in the Harbor here in Ashtabula, asked if I could take him home.  I said sure.  So he and his friend got in the car and I drove slowly as he asked questions and talked about God.  He asked for the name of my blog I mentioned and said he'd really like to read it.  He'd not met someone that would do what I did for strangers this morning (aka middle of the night) and said something was different.  I told him it's just God and His love in me.  As he got out, he asked again for my blog.  I wrote it on the back of a receipt for him.  He thanked me for everything and said he really wanted to read it.  

So then the other guy came and sat up front with me for the ride home.  He then started in with his questions about God and His laws.  I knew he was struggling with homosexual feelings and told him the big picture is that when God created this world, it was perfect.  Absolutely perfect.  Part of that perfect world was one man and one woman.  It's how God intended it to be.  Once sin came into that world, it's been changing what God made perfectly that first day.  He said, "But this is how I was born."  I told him, "You're absolutely right!  I was too."  We are all born with sin, and we all struggle with some more than others.  Many people struggle with sexual sins, but that doesn't make that or any sin right.  He kept searching and asking questions.  I took my time driving and we had a great talk all the way home.  He asked me when we were getting out of the car if he could have my blog address too.  I said sure, went in the house to write it down for him and gave him it and my phone number.  He's searching.  It won't be easy, but I will be praying for them both.  Such nice guys.

While I was driving him home, her parents had come, looked at the tire, got some kind of very noisy saw and sawed off the rusted, corroded bolt to release the spare tire.  He then had left for home to fill it up with air.  We got back after he'd already left.  I told them that since they were finally being taken care of, that I needed to go get ready for church.  She gave me a big hug and thanked me for everything, and when I went to say goodbye to the young man, he put his arms out wide and gave me a huge bear hug, even though he was a little shorter than I am.  It was just such an amazing feeling!  I will keep praying for each of them.  God has a plan for their lives.

I know I didn't need to post all the details I did, even though I still left so much out.  I was just overwhelmed that this happened on this day.  The quote on the top, 

"God's plans for your life far exceed the circumstances of your day," 

fit my morning. I'm already sleep deprived, but I wouldn't have traded those 5 hours of sleep for anything else.  God allowed me to be able to use our precious Cayla Joy's story to open up a conversation about God with 4 people I'd just met.  Once I said that she died 2 years ago from today, and I wasn't a bitter, angry mess, they wanted to listen.  I pray they saw Jesus this morning. 

You know, I've had a great day.  How could I weep when I got to see and be a part, first-hand of God continuing to use Cayla's testimony and life!  I just can't explain it, other than God is so Good!  It's now 11pm.  I'm yawning my head off, but I just had to share.  Pray with me that these 4 wonderful people will someday come to know Jesus personally and spend eternity in heaven!  Nothing is by chance.  This was a God-orchestrated morning!  :)  It may seem like a bad morning and start to my day, but not when God's in the middle of it.   Had to share!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Charis' Quilt

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; 
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; 
A time to kill and a time to heal; 
a time to break down and a time to build up; 
A time to weep and a time to laugh; 
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together; 
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; 
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love and a time to hate;
a time of war and a time of peace."
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Well, this must have been the time to sew.  ;o)  ...and a time to heal.
The Quilt...

My brother Jim and Marla had their 8th precious child in December.  She's absolutely beautiful and definitely a Halbach since she looks so much like all the others.  We haven't been able to meet her yet, but last December I just wanted so, so badly to do something special for my new, sweet niece.  I didn't want to buy her an outfit or blanket.  I just put it off not sure what to do.  Well, I've also been fighting the temptation to join Pinterest, until a friend posted a bubble quilt from Pinterest.  I had to join to see it, so I broke down and joined.  I'm never on there anyways, so I don't know what I was worried about.  One look at this quilt and I knew this was what I was looking for.  I had to make this.  I could analyze it and say that it was something I couldn't do for Cayla and wanted or needed to make for my niece.  I don't know.  It could be, because I do think it was a very healing project for me.  I'm not good with thinking into things like that too much.  All I knew at the time is that I was making this quilt.  I've never made a blanket or a regular quilt, don't really sew at all, yet felt like I could do this with her tutorial, so I did.  Sometimes I don't think we realize what we can do if we just put our mind to it.
One of the 90 squares getting ready to be sewed to a smaller white square underneath.
Setting up the final design before sewing them together.
Thanks to Mary Ekholm bringing me her walker foot which made everything so much easier to sew.
I could have never sewed so many layers together without it.
I didn't even know I needed it until she asked if I had one.
My little slits in the back of each square so I could stuff them,
then hand sew every single one back up......
The unstuffed 4" squares in  9 x 10 rows all together laying on the green minky background material.
The beginning of my ruffle.
All the middle bubbles are stuffed and my ruffle is finally starting to look right.
  For all the trouble the ruffle gave me, it was well worth it in the end!
Ruffle is pinned and ready to be sewed on.
Ruffle is on!  Now to somehow attach the soft, stretchy backing. 
The backing is that super soft minky material with the bumps on it.
The soft, mint green made it so nice.

It turned out better than I imagined although it has plenty of
"Aunt Linda made this" reminders all over it.
Rolled, tied up with purple ribbon, and ready to be hand-delivered by my dad
who swung by Ohio just to pick it up on his trip home to VA from Ontario.
Thanks Dad!

I bought fabric, scissors, stuffing stuff, material for a ruffle and all!  I got it in January when JoAnn Fabrics was having huge sales.  My yard and 1/4 of the minky material for the back was 65% off @ $15/yard.  Yay!  I got everything on sale and spent actually very little, less than $30, compared to what these were selling for on the internet... $160-$200.  I felt so good and jumped head-first into doing something I had no idea how to do.  It was wonderful.  I loved cutting, designing, and actually using my sewing machine my grandmother got me 20 years ago.   Every stitch by machine and by hand was all done by myself.  I just worked through it with all the kinks and issues.  If I needed a break, I walked away from it for a few days or a week.  I think after pulling my ruffle out about 4 or 5 times before getting it the exact way I wanted it to look, I took a good week or so off.  That ruffle took me more time than the 90 squares I had to sew together and stuff.  It still was just fun.  I loved doing it.

Something about the quilt has helped me in a way to let go.  I had finished everything except about 6 inches that still needed to be sewn up by hand when I went in for my interview with Seeley Medical and started working.   I let it sit for about 2 weeks before I finished those last stitches the night before my dad stopped in to pick it up and hand-deliver it for me.  I knew my quilt was done, I was ready to take that step forward, admit that getting a job is what God wanted, and let go of my desire to have another child.  It all sounds so simple, but it was pretty momentous inside of me.  The whole timing and God working things out for my job is another post, for another day in the near future.   I did just want to share my quilt though here on Cayla's blog.

I also want to say thank you to Lowell and Samuel for letting me have the dining room table for 2 months as my sewing table...  Love them.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Build-A-Bear Birthday

Yesterday would have been her 2nd birthday.  I had no idea what to do for it.  I asked Lowell, and he said he had an idea.  He thought it would be nice to go to Build-A-Bear that night and make a bear.  It's always been a joke with us.  Samuel was past the age to get one by the time they came out with them, but we've always teased him when we'd walk by one that we could go build him a bear!  Wouldn't that be fun!?  He'd look at us with that look of... come on mom and dad, cut it out.  So when pregnant with Cayla, we were all excited when we passed BAB in the mall, saying that now we can go with Cayla!  Well that was never to be.

So Lowell thought we should maybe do something that we might have done on her 2nd birthday had she lived.  What came to mind?  Yes, BAB.  :o)  When he suggested it, I thought to myself that that's perfect.  How does he think of these things?  I was drawing a blank.  He's just very thoughtful at times. It was nice.  It gave me something to look forward to for her birthday other than the fact that she wasn't here.  It was perfect really.  We asked his family if they wanted to come, and Grandma, Hannah and Sheylyn were able to come which made it nice too.  It was like our own little party for Cayla Joy.  :o)  I am very thankful to God for the family he's given me.  I am blessed.  We all went to Denny's afterwards for dinner which was a good time of laughter and fellowship.  :o)  Even the ride there and back was fun with Lowell and Samuel cracking jokes with the girls giving it right back to them, Samuel's Yogi Bear impressions, all with all 4 girls crammed in the back seat. Good times! 

I have to add one other thing that happened last night too.  As we left BAB, I saw a bench up ahead, and went to sit down and put our little bear together.  It was actually the bench for the train ride which I didn't realize at the time.  As I was trying to get the tags off our purchases, a girl maybe in her 20's who was obviously disabled, peeked around the corner at me as she was waiting for the train with her friend.  I don't think she could even speak, but it was like she was trying to say something to me.  I don't think she looked at anyone else.  She stared at me and then came and sat down next to me.  She reached over and looped her arm in mine and then took my hand and weaved her fingers into mine.  She sat there with me for a little while until the train came and she had to go.  As we talked about this later, Hannah said how sweet it was that she did that.  The more I think about it, it's almost like she sensed that I was hurting inside and just wanted to comfort me in the only way she knew how.  No inhibitions.  Nothing held back.  It was actually pretty sweet.  I love things like this.  People are amazing. I think sometimes people like this have more intuition or can tune into it more than the rest of us and see and feel more than we give them credit for. This sweet girl blessed me last night, and I thank God for that extra, unexpected blessing.  

Some pics from last night.  I've started two other blog entries over that last weeks, but have not had the time or the emotional energy to finish them.  They will be coming soon I hope.  :o)  Thanks for all the love, notes and prayers for our family this week!  Love you all!  God is good ALL the time!

Heading into Build-A-Bear in Mentor
My nieces Hannah and Sheylyn
Lowell choosing things to find in her heart.  It was cute.
You know, we went through most of the little things to do.
It was just fun and sweet.
By the end of our time here, I was in tears, but not till the end.  :o)
Lowell has a little sound chip that went in her paw that giggles when pushed.
It's was sweet how you could personalize some things.
I got to step on the pedal to make the stuffing flow.
It's very cute how it's all set up.
The lady let all 6 of us choose a little heart to put inside Cayla's bear.
It was sweet thinking about Cayla and her half of heart.
We made up for the difference last night.  ;o)
She's sewing her up. 
Sheylyn and Lowell having fun giving her a "bath".
Her little dress we chose.  So many choices.  It was kind of fun.
I've struggled at times walking by children's clothes in a store
and seeing little dresses that I'd love to buy for Cayla and not being able to.
So doing a little "clothes shopping" for a little dress was precious for me.
Her little head band with a flower at Lowell's suggestion.
Group picture as we were leaving.  I was trying to stop the tears...
Sweet time.  Precious little reminder of Cayla to pass on someday.
We ended up with a bow, dress and shoes.  Couldn't resist.
Such a cute little bear.  Loved the swirled fur on it.
Cayla's portrait by my long-time friend Maria, her blanket from Lowell's work,
and her little Cayla Joy bear.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Moments That Take Our Breath Away

Happy New Year!  It's a new year and for some reason I feel compelled to write.  Not sure what about yet, but I've never been lacking for words before.  :)  I do keep thinking about the fact that it was 2 long years ago that I was pregnant.  The whole time of Cayla as part of our lives seems to be getting so, so distant.  I don't particularly like that thought.  I have an 8x10 of her sitting next to Grandma Brooks' pink chair in "my corner" where I go to sit and relax, read or spend time with God.  I actually haven't been noticing the picture for a while, but last night on New Year's Eve, I just sat and stared at it and kept telling myself, as if willing myself to never forget, that I have a daughter.  Not sure which tense to use there.  I still have a daughter even though she's in heaven, so I guess I'll stick with that one.  I have a daughter.  It's hard to grasp really, because I don't feel like it at times.  I feel since I've had to keep moving on with life, that I forget sometimes that yes, I have a daughter.  I feel the need to keep writing this to help solidify it in my brain.  My life with her was so short and so surreal.  Well, I did have a daughter and that's that.

I picked the picture up and just took in everything about her.  This may be weird, but oh well... I gave her a kiss on her cheek, on her head, on her little mouth even though her fingers were in the way and just put my cheek next to hers and tried to remember what it felt like to do this.  It's a hard thing when you feel like you can't remember.  I do remember her cheek against mine, but there's a lot I feel that I'm forgetting.  Aye, yie, yie.  So yes, some tears fell, but it was okay...  I needed to grab a tissue and wash the picture off anyways.  ;)  It's nice and shiny and clean now - even the frame.  Wish I could say the same for the rest of the corner.  So I had to snap a picture.
A quick pic of my messy corner with my little bright spot in the picture!
That's also one of her blankets across the back.
I had been talking to Lowell about Cayla later on in the kitchen.  We stood there and reminisced a while.  Then he pointed to a little plaque sitting above the sink that my mother-in-law and niece Sheylyn gave us for Christmas.  It says, "Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."  He read it out loud, looked me in the eye and said, "When Cayla died, that was a moment that took my breath away."  During the 8 months we had her and the  months afterwards, there were actually many moments that I held my breath and didn't know what to say.  Hard to imagine, I know, but nonetheless true.  I had read the plaque and only thought of it for the good times, but Lowell reminded me that yes, this applies to her death as well.  But not even just for us.  I know there were many people I knew and some I didn't that went through the whole thing with us and felt all the "moments that took our breath away" with us.  Last night as I thought about this little phrase, I once again realized that Cayla's little life touched many people with her "moments".  Not just her death, but her time in vitro, her birth, her time at Cleveland Clinic, her time at home, her death, her funeral, her impact after her death too.  She gave us all very many of "the moments that take our breath away."

Thanks Mom and Sheylyn.
As I sit here January 1st, thinking about all this again, I just want to say thank you again for all who went through our journey with us.  God has done great things.  I look forward to see what 2014 holds for our family.  Pray with me for God to show me and provide the exact job He has for me.  I'm ready to be back full-time working if that's what God has for me now.  We just have a few kinks to work out logistically with one car and 3 of us working.  God will work it out and has the right job waiting for me.  Just pray that I listen.  :)  Thanks for your love and support these last 2 years.

Happy New Year from the Sowry's!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Her Monument's Up and Christine Wyrtzen's music

Cayla's first time outside before we got in the car for our big ride home!
We were both leaving Cleveland Clinic for the first time in a month.  
Recently, as I've been doing dishes or baking, I've been singing along with Christine Wyrtzen's CD that I've loved since Junior High.  She came to Barcroft Bible Church sometime around 1982 or '83 and accompanied herself on the piano as she sang songs that even then moved my heart.  I remember begging my dad to buy her record for me.  Yes, it was during the transition time between records and cassette tapes... woah.  I loved that record and learned and sang all the songs right along with her.  The record was titled, "For Those Who Hurt".

I remember when I was 15, I went to a week of summer camp at McLean Bible Church. All was well in my world when I left, only to come home that Friday to Mrs. Genter (my mom's best friend) waiting to pick me up at church because my mom was in surgery for, I believe, a double mastectomy.  The details are still somewhat sketchy for me. The cancer went from the size of a pea to the size of an orange in a matter of a day or so.  This was a hard time for all of us.  I don't recall how my older brothers or sister were handling this, but one thing I remember is this record.  I played it even more.  I cried through the songs.  God brought it into my life to have at a point when I'd really need it. That record was a lifeline for me.  The songs "Carry Me", "Doves and Butterflies", and "My Father" were my favorite ones.  I even sang "A Woman's Prayer" from this record to Lowell at our wedding.

Well, I had my cassette player and went off to college 2 years later leaving my records behind.  Over the years as the internet grew, I would try to look her up but never could find her, until about a year ago, not long after Cayla died.  I found her website, Daughters of Promise and wrote her an email how wonderful it was to find her online and to tell her how much her music meant to me during one of the hardest times of my life.  How I will never forget the impression she made on me as a teenager going through a very difficult time.  I also told her about our precious Cayla Joy, her life and death.  I also said I've tried to see if my dad could find that record buried away in boxes, but to no avail.  Was this music still available on CD somewhere?

Well, she wrote me back that yes, she has turned that record into CD's and that she wanted to send it to me absolutely free.  I cried.  I'm getting good at that...  She promptly sent it with a nice note.  I wish she had some of these songs on an accompaniment CD to sing to.  I think she said she has sheet music for some of them, but I haven't been able to order those.  Maybe someday.

Soooo, for this past year or so, I've been reliving these same songs that helped me almost 30 years ago.  :o)  Isn't that amazing how God allowed me to find that music just when it would mean the most to me again?   I've found myself listening to them over and over until this summer when I misplaced the CD.  A couple of weeks ago, I found it and started playing it everyday again in the kitchen.

It was 2 weeks ago on Monday, Oct. 21st that I was singing away when I realized it was my dad's birthday.  Then instantly I recalled that 2 years ago on his birthday, I found out that life-changing news that I was pregnant again for the first time in 16 years.  The music playing, my thoughts running away...  I had my hands in soapy water in the sink and just bent down with my head on the sink and cried.  I couldn't breathe and had to stand up.  All the emotions came back again, and I cried out to God.  I can't help wondering what it would have been like having her here.  I'm fine here typing tonight, but at the time I just relived those 8 months of ups and downs and had a good cry.  As I was trying to pull myself together standing there, I started listening quietly to the music as it played.  These are the words that she was singing from this CD.  I love how God orchestrates everything even down to the timing of the words I needed to hear at that moment.

"Oh what a wonderful, wonderful rest
Trusting completely in Jesus I'm blessed.
Sweetly he comforts and shields from alarms,
holding me close in His mighty arms.

Pressing my tear stained cheeks to His own,
Hushing my grief with His sweet, gentle tone.
Touching my heart with His healing balm,
Holding me still in His mighty arms.

Troubles may rage, sin's surges may beat,
Never can they reach my sheltered retreat. 
I'm free from all danger, free from all dread,
I'm resting quite safe in His mighty arms."
an excerpt from the song, "Hiding in His Arms"

I just listened and thanked God for Cayla, for the message in the music, for Samuel, for Lowell, for everything that kept popping up in my heart.  Tears are very cleansing.  I was able to just continue washing dishes and sing along with her again.  Thank you Christine Wyrtzen for your testimony of God's power to me.  If I had more time, I'd write out the words to all the songs on this CD.  I tried to find "Carry Me" on youtube, but nothing that was worth posting.  I tried to download the CD onto my computer and copy it here, but that didn't work either.  You can hear some of her songs on you tube, or go to her website and order one.  :o)  It's my favorite CD, I guess since it holds so much meaning to me. You can download the songs from iTunes here: or at least hear clips of them.

Throughout the rest of that week, I thought about the fact that Cayla would have turned a year and a half.  Oh, and plus my mother-in-law told me that it looked like they were marking her grave and getting ready to lay the cement foundation.  So of course, for the next three mornings, I took Samuel to work, took Lowell to work and then went to the cemetery to see if any more had been done.  Well, it hadn't, so I made myself stop going down until I heard more.  Here's a picture Jodi, Lowell's cousin took when she set it up for us. 

We took off to Virginia on a little "We need to get away" trip to my brother Jim and Marla's house in Berryville, VA that Friday the 24th to Tuesday.  Saw my dad too.  We laid low and just kind of got rejuvenated.  Don't we all need that sometimes?  Although I felt bad dropping in on them with Marla being pregnant with her 8th child and due in less than 6 weeks.  But they insisted and told us to come.  I wanted to go to Lorena Roop's funeral since we were in VA, but it didn't work out.  Sorry Kristi. 

Being completely honest, which is hard to do with some topics, it was a little bit hard to see Marla pregnant with her little girl due the beginning of December.  I really am happy for them.  I'm just throwing it out there, because I've had a few struggles with the whole thing.  Marla's been so good about being sensitive to me, to all of us.  It's hard for her I'm sure too.  I've beat myself up by going down the path of... she's a better mother and her little girl will have a house full of siblings to grow up with, while Cayla would end up being raised almost like an only child too.  She has 8 children, why couldn't we even just have a second one... Blah, blah, blah.  I could go on with more thoughts that plagued me, but you get the idea.  I've been able to squash those thoughts pretty quickly, but they resurfaced off and on while there.  

God's given me verses from the Bible that have just quieted some of these thoughts.  Even in Acts 17:24-25, 28, it reassured me that the one and only, perfect God is completely in control of life and breath and even death.  He had a plan for Cayla and numbered her days.  I do trust him.  Miss her, but trust Him.

"God that made the world and all things therein, 
seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, 
dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 
Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed anything, 
seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;  
For in Him we live, and move, and have our being;"

I guess I just needed to be reassured that God is trustworthy in what happens in my life.  The good, the bad, it all works together to make me who I am.  I am thrilled for Jim and Marla and at the same time understand that God gave Cayla life and breath, but allowed her to only live 60 days and in the process was able to point people to Him.  :o)  I do like that.  It just helps me to write it out.  Nothing major, but there nonetheless.  

Well, it's late, but I'll close with yesterday, Monday, November 4th.  I'm finally being forced to change my closets and drawers around from summer to winter clothes.  I was pulling out plastic tubs trying to find things.  Well, I pulled out a tub of Cayla's things that I hadn't touched since the day after she died when my mother-in-law, Wendy Hollon, and Erin Brown packed up everything for me and helped me sort what to get rid of and what to keep.  I had no idea what I'd kept or given away.  I thought I'd given away the first little outfit I bought her when I found out I was pregnant.  I thought I'd given away her little socks she wore that looked like a ballet shoe on her non-casted foot.  I thought I'd given away the little navy and white striped dress with the strawberries on it that she wore.  Well, I opened this tub and all of that was in there, plus a sleeper from Grandma and Grampa Joe and the little outfit from Kari Birchler, and some other knitted things and gifts.  Well, as soon as I saw her little dress and socks, I lost it.  I bawled as I held up the few, little clothes she actually did get to wear.  I buried my face in her blanket that she laid on all the time, and I cried.  I know I sound like a weak mess of a person who's always weeping and crying, but tears are so healing.  And outside of the times I mention in the blog, I'm a normal, as normal as I can be, functioning, wife and mom.  At least I think so.  I haven't asked Lowell and Samuel.  Maybe we'll just keep moving on here...

In the midst of the tears, my heart's cry to God was for another baby, but only if it was His perfect will.  God knows my heart.  The last thing I want is a baby at almost 44 years old if it's not God's will for me.  He knows my heart and knows how much I truly meant every word.  If it's His will that I have no more children, then I asked Him to help ease the desire and maybe give me a job or some direction.  I've really not pursued a job like I need to.  I'm trying to change that.  I don't know how it would work with three, full-time people working in this house with one car.  It's in His hands.  I'm in no hurry.  :o)  

Well, I'm going to change around a few things in Cayla's little box on her shelf.  The socks are definitely going in and I'm going to trade out the onesie for the matching rose outfit and shoes.  

I'm ready for bed.  This post has been a while in coming.  I've tried to write for over 2 weeks now, but tonight was finally the night.  I'm feeling blessed tonight.  God's been good!  Love to all!  

Friday, September 6, 2013

Music with Gordon Mote

I've not felt great this week physically, hormonaly  and have been close to tears many times.  I've been grumpy and feeling like I'm on the edge of that pit called depression, but just looking in.

Last night I went with Tina Siesel to hear Gordon Mote, the blind, really amazing piano player from the Gaithers.  He started out with a song I haven't heard since youth group in the 80's, "Give Them All to Jesus".  The words and music just took me back, and as I listened to the words, a few tears started falling.  "Wrap up all the shattered dreams of your life, and at the feet of Jesus lay them down."

He went on to some praise songs about Jesus, but it was too late.  Something was triggered in me, and my thoughts went down the path to the day of Cayla's funeral.  I guess because I was sitting with Tina that my mind went to afterwards when everyone was coming up to hug us and say goodbye to Cayla.  I was going through the motions and talking, hugging, some tears, listening to words of comfort  But when Tina stepped up, who's been there through so much for me and all of us during this whole time, I burst into tears and started weeping as I held her.  I couldn't stop.  I think someone had to come put a hand on me to keep me going.  Here I am remembering this last night, and in the middle of a wonderfully happy song, I started crying again.

Then my mind went to Sheena Wood after the funeral with a similar reaction when I saw her in the line with little Gideon strapped on the front of her.  Her words of comfort and just seeing Gideon for the first time at about a month old, was just precious.  I just wanted to take him and hold him so I grabbed both of them and openly wept.  This, is what was going through my mind while Gordon Mote was only on his 3rd song or so.

Then as I'm trying to get my focus back on the music, he starts sharing a story of a family that lost their child and proceeds to sing a song I assume he wrote about this family, and how their faith was helping those around them almost more than what people felt they were doing for them.  We can still have joy no matter what happens because of Jesus.  The song was about all that.  Yes, you know I really lost it and was doing everything in my power not to just openly weep.  Tina looked at me as I got a tissue out of my purse and gave me a hug.  The setting, the music... the Lord sending healing music.  I really was blessed and greatly encouraged by that song right along with the tears.

I don't know if there was a song in between or not, but shortly after that song, he sang, "Through It All".  If you know the words...  It was just another reminder of how great God is and that through it all I have learned about a life-changing faith and trust in Jesus Christ.  I'll find the words and post them at the bottom.  So, I sang along with him as I just lifted my face to heaven with the tears still flowing.  What a release!  The Lord knew I needed to be there and have wonderful music soothe my soul and remind me how awesome God is!  I appreciated his words after the song about what each of our "it's" are in "Through IT All".  We all have been through different things and God will be everything we need if we are willing to trust Him with our lives.  So uplifting!

After sharing from Gordon, some laughter and pictures of his family, he sang some songs and then came to one that started off sounding just like my friend Tina's life.  It was as if he knew we were coming and picked out songs about us...  ;o)  Okay maybe he didn't, but God did.  She cried through the blessings and reminders in that song.  Let's just say that everything about last night was just what this momma needed.  God is good like that.  Isn't He?

Afterwards, I got to see so many friends from our store that I hadn't seen in at least 2 years.  Saw friends from church, and then I shook Gordon's hand and was able to just simply tell him thank you for being a blessing to me tonight.  We got a group picture with Tina and my dear friend Ann Sutch who lent us all the big baby items for Cayla like the crib, bassinet and all that.

Just had to share my blessing last night.  I went down memory lane, cried, smiled, cried some more and was reminded of God's greatness in the good and the bad times.  :o)

Did I mention he plays the piano incredibly???  Oh, yes I did.  ;o)  He has a powerful, great voice as well.

Music is one of those things that within a moments notice can move me to tears.  I love to go to hear good, godly music that lifts me up.  I have few memories from childhood (to which I have learned I can credit the whole Celiac Disease to... topic for another time)  ;o)  but, I can remember times when our choir would sing songs at Barcroft Bible Church that would move me to tears even as a child.  I remember that feeling of my throat tightening and the tears starting on many occasions with solos or groups too.  I remember specifically crying at a Missionary Conference while the music was playing wondering what kind of mission field God would send me to.  I am thankful for the gift of music God has given us and how it can lift our spirits when other things can't.

Thankful to be able to go last night.  What a blessing!  Had to share.  Here's the words to "Through It All".

I've had many tears and sorrow, I've had questions for tomorrow,
There's been times I didn't know right from wrong.
But in every situation, God gave me blessed consolation
That my trials come to only make me strong.

Through it all, through it all, 
I've learned to trust in Jesus.  I've learned to trust in God.
Through it all, through it all,
I've learned to depend upon His Word.

I've been to lots of places.  I've seen a lot of faces.
There's been times I felt so all alone.
But in my lonely hours, yes, those precious lonely hours,
Jesus let me know that I was His own.

I thank God for the mountains, and I thank Him for the valleys.
I thank Him for the storms He brought me through.
For if I'd never had a problem, I wouldn't know that He could solve them.
I'd never know what faith in God could do.

Through it all, through it all, 
I've learned to trust in Jesus.  I've learned to trust in God.
Through it all, through it all,
I've learned to depend upon His Word.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Cayla's Little Joshie Doll

I've been thinking so much this past week and now that I sit here on the blog, I can't think of any of it...  Listening to a song about the greatness of God.  I'm a little distracted, but don't want to turn it off.  I like the many radio choices on iTunes.  There's something for every mood.

There's so much going on inside me.  I don't honestly know how to put it in words, but that's never seemed to stop me from trying before...  I've been wondering why I'm not really trying very hard to get a job.  Lowell's been trying to push me, albeit gently, but still pushing me to try harder.  This is the time people are hiring and I'm sitting back hiding.  So, I wasn't really trying to figure my actions out, but I had a meltdown last week which explained a lot to me.  Samuel could have probably done without the drama, but he graciously listened.  Part of me is realizing I'm at a point where I'm going to go back to work full-time, Lord-willing.  The only way that would happen is if I'm "done" raising my children.  Well, I'm done.  School's over for us.  Samuel will turn 18 in a month.  Cayla's in heaven.  In my tears and exasperation I felt the finality of it.  There is a little part of me that still feels like I shouldn't be at this crossroads, but I am. I truly have accepted Cayla's death and trust God's working through the good and the bad.  I guess that doesn't mean my emotions won't keep popping up here and there. These thoughts hit me earlier.

I went to Job and Family Services, at least I think that's what it's called, last Wednesday.  She gave me so much help and tips, I can hardly remember it all.  A possible job opportunity came up and I'll know by Wednesday, August 28th if I got the job or not.  I'm not worried either way because it's wonderful to trust Jesus to help me find the right job for me.

SOOO, I have to say... Sheena Wood and Jill Haskins have done a very special thing for me.  Jill had a little boy, Joshua, born in August of 2010.  He had the same congenital heart defect as Cayla did.  He lived about the same amount of time too, but he never got to leave the hospital.  Different circumstances, but still sweet little heart babies.  Jill has very transparently shared her very painful story with me and encouraged me as I went through the death of Cayla and guilt and grief.

In honor of her Joshie, she, being extremely talented, has started making Joshie Dolls.  The link to this page on Facebook is  You've go to check out the pictures of theses precious children and their dolls.  She sews each child's scars on to be identical to it's owner.  She places a little heart in the chest before she sows them back up.  It's just so sweet to see the children get their special Joshie Doll that's just like them.  I love scrolling through the pictures and seeing their before and after "surgery" pictures.  Those that help her and Jill herself do this all voluntarily.  They don't make money off of them.  The cost is reflective of the cost it takes to make them.  I thought that since Cayla has died, I don't need one, but they sure are fun to look at!

Well, Sheena Wood, who introduced me to Jill, and Jill got in on this together and made a Joshie Doll for us.  She even was able to use a foot that wouldn't go straight to copy Cayla's club foot.  :o)  She's so sweet.  When Sheena brought the doll by last week, under the auspice of bringing me some Chex Puppy Chow, I couldn't help myself and started crying when I realized what was in the bag.  I feel so blessed.  Such a sweet little Cayla/Joshie Doll!  Check out their page and pass it on to anyone who has a child with a Congenital Heart Defect.

So, Jill, a huge thanks to you for your talent and heart.  Sheena, a huge thanks to you for your love for people and making them know they're special.  You both are very special people, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Thank you!  She's precious!