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In which there is a blanket…

“To love another person is to see the face of God.” –Victor Hugo

“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” –Proverbs 27:17

“The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are.” –CS Lewis

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I spent a lot of time over the past 8 weeks reflecting on each of these quotes.  I know exactly how many weeks it was because that’s how long it took me to knit a blanket.  It wasn’t just any blanket–it was “the” perfect blanket.  I designed and knit it for a family so special to me that I honestly don’t even know how I am going to write this blog post without crying.  So sit back and wait for it, because this post is going to be a doozy (which spell check tells me isn’t a real word…I call foul).

I have been blessed in my life with the opportunity to travel and live overseas with Marcus’ job.  It has brought us so much closer together as a couple and we’ve come together as a more cohesive family unit. It has also meant that we’ve had the chance to meet people that might not have otherwise crossed our paths.  I think there was a time where I would have called that “coincidence.”  Now, though, I know it was God’s hand in my life.

I know that God put Jody and Rachel and each of their children in my life to fill a void that I didn’t even know existed.  Like I wasn’t complete until I met Marcus and he and I were joined together, I feel like I can also say that we weren’t complete until we met them.  Marcus and Jody are able to work together and play together, each bringing out the best in one another on personal and professional levels.  Rachel and I do the same, each bringing something to the table that the other is lacking.  Like in my marriage, and in theirs, the extrovert and the introvert have paired up as a perfect match.  And so when the four of us are together, it’s more than friendship.  It’s like family.  It’s like home.

It’s not only Jody and Rachel as individuals (though that’s a huge part of it), but it’s also the connection we have felt and shared with them on a religious and spiritual level.  We’ve grown closer to God through our friendship with them.  It has, and they have, changed my life.  I’m prayerful about what will happen to that change when they leave, in stages, over the next several months.

 I am struggling so much with their impending departure.  The curse of living overseas and working with the military is that people don’t stay.  I absolutely despise that part of this experience.

To pass the time, and as part of my Lenten experience, I decided to knit Jody and Rachel a blanket.  They had longingly admired the blanket I was making for Marcus, and I thought that a blanket would be a nice gesture.  I would knit prayerfully and focus on the good, and not the sad.  When I couldn’t find a blanket pattern that I liked after scrolling through patterns on Ravelry, I knew that I should design one myself.

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The “Perfect Match” blanket was born out of love.  Out of necessity.  Out of prayer and peace and loss and happiness.  Every stitch was considered and deliberate.

There are very few projects that I have worked on in my life that I have been sad to finish.  This was one of them.  I cried as I weaved in the loose ends and folded it up.

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I don’t want them to go.

Rachel is my practical, calm, prayerful friend.  She’s the logical one.  Our friendship isn’t ending because they are leaving.  We’ll see each other again.  The internet, Facebook, email, they’ve all made the world smaller and distances relative.  So true.

And still.

I don’t want them to go.

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In which I have an epiphany

Several weeks ago, I had what may be one of the most powerful epiphanies of my life. It came upon me suddenly, but since then, not a day has gone by where I haven’t thought about it. I’m not sure I will ever not think about it again.

I am a worrier. I’ve also attributed this to my depression and anxiety. It has gotten better as I’ve treated those issues, but never entirely gone away. I worry. It’s what I do.

After an all-clear from my father, I took my daughters to see my grandfather for the first time in several months. It was a big deal. Suffering from leukemia, his guest list is strictly monitored and children under 18 had, until now, been forbidden. He was thrilled to see them. I was thrilled to see him see them.

But after I left, I couldn’t stop worrying. Though Jessica’s nose was dry, it had been running earlier. What if she got too close to him? What if he got sick and wasn’t strong enough to fight off the infection? What if…what if…what if…I couldn’t stop worrying.

So I brought the question to my sister. She reassured me and said all the right things.

Still, I worried.

So I asked my aunt. I confessed my worries and fears. She reassured me and said all the right things.

Still, I worried.

I called my husband. I poured my heart out to him. He reassured me and said all the right things.

Still, I worried.

I worried in spite of all those words that people spoke. I kept looking for someone else to take my worries to, convinced that they would be able to say something that would ease my worry. But nothing worked. No one said the right thing.

That’s when it occurred to me. There was only one person that I could bring this…any…worry to and get an answer that would take my worry away. There was only one person that I could speak to that could help me find peace. That person was God.

Those of you who know me know that though I consider myself a Catholic, and raise my children as such, I don’t often wear my religious heart on my sleeve, or think about the world from a spiritual perspective. So this epiphany…this was a very big deal for me.

I prayed. Instead of looking for someone to take my worries to, I took them to the Lord. And for the first time in my life, I felt peace.

It had little to do with His answer, I found. But my peace came from the telling. I turned to Him. I should always turn to Him.

Perhaps there’s something for you in this epiphany.

If nothing else, will you keep my Poppy in your thoughts and prayers? He…I…we…would all appreciate it.

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The Reason for the Season

My daughters attend a Catholic preschool this year, which was a nice transition home from the UK for us, especially this holiday season.  I hate the thought that once the girls are in public school, their religion will be something that is taboo to even mention.

But that’s another blog post, I suspect.

What I want to share are these pictures of my gorgeous daughters at their preschool Christmas concerts–concerts where they could sing about the reason we (along with over 85% of Americans) celebrate Christmas.  Samantha even got to play an angel in her class’ Nativity play (and if I do say so myself, her lines were the best performed of the bunch!).

Rehearsing...

...and performing!

Rehearsing...

...spotting mom and dad in the audience...

...and performing!

I can’t wait to share next year’s Christmas season with our new daughter, too!

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Little Ears

Marcus and I realized yesterday, for the first time, that our five year old has ears.  And that she uses them to listen to us when we don’t think she’s paying us any attention.

My grandfather has been ill recently, and we’ve been making extra trips to visit.  He’s at his home, in a hospital bed set up in the living room.  Though I was nervous about how the girls would do, they’ve done a great job.  They sing him Christmas songs (the other day he sang along and even danced a little!), talk to him and tell him about school, and bring him pictures.  They are quiet when we ask them to be, and our visits have been good ones.  It really lifts his spirits, and I am thankful for these precious memories with my grandfather and my children.

But when we left from our visit yesterday, I was a bit teary-eyed at the thought of my grandfather so sick.  I stood outside the car for a few minutes with Marcus before we got in.

When we got inside, Erica (3) said, “Mommy, are you sad because Granddaddy is sick and is going to die?”

Samantha (5) stepped in, “I just told her that, Mommy.  Is that right?”

I suspect her words were a combination of those little ears that we don’t think are listening and a recent conversation after we watched the movie Up.

Marcus was the one to respond, because her words were so innocent, and so sad, for me.  He is such an amazing father–I’m proud to call him my husband.

In the future, I suppose we’ll be more mindful of those little ears.

In the meantime, if any of you have an extra prayer to spare for my granddaddy, I know he and my family would all appreciate it.

Grandaddy, 2005

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Home

I’ve been back in America for two days. It’s only fair to offer you some deeply reflective post about our time overseas, our feelings about leaving, and our return home.

However, as I’m typing this on my new iPhone and preparing to run out the door for kiki’s bachelorette party, I’ll be brief.

Marcus, the girls, and I were truly blessed by the opportunity to live abroad. We grew as a family, in Christ, and as individuals because of our time overseas and the friends that became our family whole we loved there. There will never be the perfect words to express our love and thanks for that.

We return home, and it is just like coming home. But it’s us who’ve changed, and we know that we will carry the blessings of this experience with us always, ever changed by our time in England and our family there.

Whether you call it God’s will, providence, or karma, we know that this experience was in a bigger plan for our family and our future.

We’re home.

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Easter Weekend

Easter Weekend began on Friday and ran through Monday, with a plethora of activities and events.  Marcus and I couldn’t believe how excited the girls were about Easter this year.

We made it a point to try to explain Easter to the girls in simple terms–we don’t want them to get the impression that the holiday is secular, or about candy.  The conversation was basic–that Jesus died on Good Friday, but not to be sad, because He rose from the dead on Easter Sunday because He is God.  Of course, they wanted to know if Ross’ dog Gus would wake up, too, but I think they were able to understand that Jesus is the only one who could do it.  Miscommunications aside, it truly was a precious conversation to share with my daughters.

We spent Holy Saturday with our friends the Carbols, the Susaks, and the Hammonds for a Mexican Easter feast.  The children dyed Easter Eggs, played together, and we all enjoyed some good food and some good company.

Easter Sunday was a beautiful day here in Yorkshire, and we went to church and then to a church potluck Easter brunch.  The food was delicious and abundant, and the companionship was amazing, too.  The girls participated in their first “real” Easter Egg Hunt, and left with full baskets and full tummies.

Marcus had to head off to work on Easter Monday, but the girls and I had a super day.  We headed to Valley Gardens where we met Auntie Anne and Uncle Phil, Sue, and Bob for a picnic and some frolicking round.  The girls burned off plenty of sugar-induced energy, while the grown-ups knitted, laughed, and watched.  I suspect that a good time was had by all.

So, Easter weekend was a full and blessed one for our family.  It was a special day, and led into many good-byes that we know are coming in the next week.

I know that I have said it before, and that I’ll say it again, but we truly are blessed by the family we have made overseas, and the family we have become because of our time overseas.

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Blessed

Wishing you and yours a happy and blessed Easter season.

“He is risen; he is not here.”
Mark 16:6

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.”
John 11:25-26

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
John 3:16 NIV