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Three Years

blog-clipThey had three years of days, these two sweet little cousins.  Three years more of growing, of prayers for Baby Cousin’s hole in her heart.  Of singing songs, and making silly faces, and hospital visits, and lots of NO visits and staying home and keeping our little kid sick germs to ourselves.  Three more years of celebrating birthdays and miracles, and buying presents at Christmas, and drawing pictures for each other.  Of taking Janessa’s picture to school for show ‘n’ tell and telling her friends about her miracle cousin.  Of dancing so Janessa could watch, and ringing her chimes, and hunting through every store in VV and half the ones in GP, looking for the exactly right kind of rattle that Janessa could hold and play with.

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Three years is done now.

We are left with Janessa’s toy car, forgotten at our house.  With Ballet Bear, passed on down to Elianna.  With empty hollow hearts and oh, so very many tears.  Janessa was just here.  Elianna was just dancing for her, just days ago, in our living room.  And then — gone.

She’s lighting up Heaven now with that bright smile.  No more oxygen.  No more sickness, no more pain.  Little legs that are strong and now SHE can do the running and jumping and twirling and dancing.  Instead of praying at bedtime and asking God to make Janessa strong and healthy, Elianna thanks Him that He is taking care of her now and that she is safe with Jesus.

And she is.

Janessa Zofeya — “God sees, and is merciful”   In her life, this was true.  And in her death, it is still true.

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#38 — a lost little boy is safe

Well,  I wrote a post,  and then promptly lost it,  and typing on my phone is a bit of a painful process,  so I’ll just sum it up and leave this link and two screen shots of Jerry’s Facebook post that tells the story better than I can:

#38 — I am SO thankful this little 6 yr old boy is safe and back at home.   #39 — I’m thankful Jerry & Laine & Julianne got to have a part in the exciting story.  #40 — I’m thankful for how God answered prayer and led them right to this 6 yr old “needle in the haystack” (acres and acres of bush were being searched and miles of back roads all around his home area).  #41 — I’m thankful for my own little prayer that was answered, that God would stop the rain before to got to New Fish Creek.  (It was raining so hard on my way home from work at 8:20 that I could hardly see where to turn off the road.   Yet a few miles north of us,  the rain did not start until they had found the boy and gotten him safely into a vehicle. 

I can’t imagine what his family felt as they searched for him all day.  #42 —  I’m so glad he didn’t spend the night outside, because the story could have been much different.   #43 — I’m thankful for safety for Jerry,  Laine,  & Julie as they searched in the dark in the bush with no gun!

http://www.edmontonjournal.com/touch/story.html?id=10250116

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Thanksgiving with the cousins

The biggest thing I’m thankful for tonight is the blessing of cousins.  My oldest cousin & her husband are up visiting with their new baby this weekend.  We talked till 1 AM last night, barely pausing for breath between topics it seemed!  Today we had Thanksgiving dinner at my aunt & uncle’s.  It felt so RIGHT and familiar to be crowded around their long table with the cousins, laughing and talking.  This is how it’s been for as long as I can remember.

Only this time, as we looked down the table, things were a bit different, my oldest cousin noted.  All of us had an “other” present.  Some couples married with kids, some newlyweds, some we’re-just-checking-this-out,-don’t-tease-us-too-much couples…  Nobody fought over sitting side by side on the bench with “their” closest-in-age cousin.  Sitting next to a girl is SO much better now, apparently!

All of us girls had contributed something to the meal.  Instead of the kitchen being filled with just our moms, we were all in there too, putting the finishing touches on our food.  Gone are the days of playing Dutch Blitz in the living room till our parents called us for the meal – now we work too!

Instead of our moms jumping up to tend to kids, it’s now us jumping for our own children!  It was so much fun to see Elianna doting over her new little cousin – petting his head, lying down beside him on the floor to look at him, and opening his presents for him.  She’s been dethroned and everyone sits around the living room watching HIM now, but she doesn’t care – she’s just as enthralled!

Years ago, as we’d gather to see our “African” cousins off at the airport, they’d hand over winter jackets to younger cousins, and we’d speculate about how OLD we’d all be when they came back for their next furlough.  As we looked ahead at the teenage years, it seemed like 16 was SO far away.  I mean, Joanna was already pretty much grown up at 12!  Sixteen was hard to imagine!  Now here we are, almost all of us in our 20’s, mostly grown and gone from our original homes, some of us with kids of our own.  Rarely do we ALL get to see each other at the same time.  With marriages and moving and Bible Schools on opposite ends of the country or across the ocean, and with one cousin sailing the ocean….it’s tough to get everyone together!

But that’s ok.  We don’t ALL have to be together to have a good time.  Even when there’s just some – we still have a great time.  We miss the far-away cousins, as always, but they’ll be back, and then we’ll see them and maybe someone else will be off on some other adventure by then.  We have wonderful memories of Christmases and camp-outs when everyone was there, and they will always be special and treasured.  But right now, that’s rather impossible, so we’ll enjoy what we do have – part of our cousin group together, having a great time as always.  When Ocean cousin comes back to visit next year we’ll see her and enjoy her.  If by some crazy chance EVERYONE manages to be at the same place at the same time – well, Uncle Gerald’s going to need to build another “porch” and buy another looooong table to fit everyone!

Another thing was different today, and this one made my heart smile — all the inlaws, and maybe-will-become-inlaws around the table.  They all fit in so well.  Our cousin group is doubling, and it’s super-cool!  It’s neat to see my husband hit it off with Joanna’s husband – they’re both easterners, so they have a lot in common!  Every time I see another cousin’s husband, I smile as I see him becoming more and more relaxed with the family.  Another cousin-in-law just seems like she’s always been there, already.  It would be strange to NOT have her bustling around the kitchen!

I’m so thankful for my cousins, and this special bond we all have.  We’ve shared so much of our lives together, even the far-away “African” cousins.  Sleepovers, games, building Lego creations, emailing across the ocean (that was back in the day when writing an email was a BIG DEAL and it was pretty awesome that we could just go to our neighbor’s house and type in a letter and it would get to our cousins That Same Day and didn’t have to go in the mail for a month!) joint birthday parties, camp-outs, sharing dreams, having fun, learning things from the “older wiser” trio of cousins, dissecting life, figuring out growing up….  I love how that bond is still so strong.  No matter that we haven’t seen my oldest cousin for over 2 years – we can still stay up till 1 am catching up, sharing, and learning from each other!

We are family — cousins — but we are also friends — the best of friends.  These cousins of mine – I’ll never be able to even come close to fully explaining how precious they are to me and how blessed I am to have them in my life!

Reflections…and the perfect end to 2011!

The house is quiet…Elianna is napping, and so is hubby.  I’m feeling quiet and contemplative.  Thoughts of “at this time last year” come frequently.  It’s been a crazy full year!

Elianna started off our year by being late.  VERY late!  Last Christmas I was super-pregnant, puking, close to the end of my rope, and NOT enjoying it!  I remember sitting on the couch with Jerry in the light of our tree one evening after Christmas, crying because it felt so much like someone was missing.  “Two” no longer felt complete.  It was time to be Three and I was soooo ready!  This year, I sat on the couch with Jerry in the light of our Christmas tree and cried again.  This time because I was so happy to be holding our beloved baby girl on my lap.  I felt complete, and so content and at peace.  Our little family of three had a WONDERFUL Christmas together!  Christmas is suddenly extra special when you see it through the wonder of a child’s eyes again.  The lights, the tree, the wrapped presents…  I love to watch Elianna and see her taking it all in and thinking and trying to figure it all out.  Everything is still so new.

We started out this year in a new house, trying to unpack and settle in and get things organized and fixed up.  Now, I have a light over my kitchen table that makes the room feel warm and cozy.  I have light covers in the bathroom which make my choice of a bright teal/green/blue color a little less shocking.  (slightly.  But not a whole lot.  But I still like it a lot!)  Elianna has covers on the electrical outlets in her room (that’s a GOOD thing!)  Jerry brought me home a pantry the other day, so the stacks of pails and tubs down the hallway are tucked away on shelves, and I even had extra space to unpack some of my china so we could set the table beautifully for our Christmas meal!  Jerry put up a laundry shelf for me so I would actually be able to see the top of my washer and dryer again if I would just take 5 solid minutes to clean them off!)  We still have an addition that looks like a tornado went through it, and paper trim on some walls in the kitchen, but you can’t do everything in one year, can you!?

We started last year with Jerry limping around gingerly, trying not to further injure his knee.  He had a CT scan in June, surgery in August, and after 6 weeks time off was back to work again in September, doing harvest for my uncle.  He tramped all over in the bush during hunting season, and is threatening to play hockey again in the New Year!  We are grateful that he didn’t have to wait till next year for surgery, and that his knee is fine and he can live an active normal life again.

We started off the year with a wrinkled up baby whose hands and feet looked like she was 80 instead of 8 minutes old and 2 weeks late.  Now she’s crawling, getting into everything, laughing, eating solid foods, and starting to walk and talk.  She said “grandma” during our Christmas in SK, and completely melted Grandma’s heart, I think!  She says mama and dada regularly and sometimes even graces the dog with a word.  We’re thankful she said mama and dada before she said “Measha”!  She is such a joy.  Her smiles and laughs brighten our days and lift our spirits and melt our hearts and we are unbelievably thankful for her.  God knew exactly what we needed — a little girl to be our ray of sunshine!

Jerry is ending this year with a new job — still an electrical apprentice, but getting much more hands on experience.  I was very concerned about him switching jobs, because he had a FANTASTIC boss.  But, God has once again provided another absolutely FANTASTIC boss!  Jerry’s surgery, time off, and harvest work was an excellent transition to this new job, and we are thankful for God’s hand in events.

We started off this year dogless and catless.  Then we were just dogless.  So we got a free dog from ½ hr away…and totaled our car when going to pick it up!  God provided another vehicle for us at the price we needed, and insurance came through enough to cover our costs and we were thankful.  And now had a cat AND a dog.  Then we were catless for a while, because the dog terrified the cat, so we gave the cat away.  Then we got two more cats who knew what a dog was, so now we have 2 cats, and sometimes 2 or 3 dogs, depending on whether the stray dogs are hanging around!

We ended 2010 by coming home early after the New Years’ Eve service because I was sick of the “WHAT?!  You’re STILL pregnant!?” and “Hey, have the baby on MY birthday, Jan ___!” and “Have you tried _____ to get the baby to come?!” comments.  We tried going out for supper for my birthday, but it was a royal failure because every place in our quiet little town was closed – other than A&W, and that’s not a very romantic spot for a New Years’/Birthday supper!  This year my husband took me out for lunch (much better plan!), we went to the Pastor’s house this evening for an impressive show of fireworks, visited for a while after, and then I came home to put Elianna to bed.  She ended my year perfectly by falling asleep in my arms in the light of the Christmas tree.  My unrockable-to-sleep baby.  The one who hasn’t been rocked to sleep since May.  The one who HAS to go scream in her crib before giving in to sleep.  My non-cuddly baby.

The baby I longed for as 2010 ended was the baby sleeping in my arms as 2011 ended.  Perfect!

Thankful…

I’m thankful for the wonderful visits we had on our eastern trip.  I tend to be more of a introvert than an extrovert, but I think I don’t realize how much I DO need people, and now much I miss my eastern friends from school.  Our fellowship with them was sweet.  So much so that my heart is still warmed when I think of those visits.

Walking along the ocean in PEI, visiting.

Catching up with Deanna and hearing her plans for the future and seeing her parents, who filled a hole in my heart while I lived in the east.

Going out for Chinese food and laughing our heads off with the crazy bunch of friends in NS — Dyson & Hope, & McTom & his wife — also known in real life as Ricky & Emily, and Mike & Laura.  Rick & Em were delighted to welcome their twin boys into the world just a few days ago!

Visiting staff members up at school…as well as some former staff members that walked with me & encouraged me through a very painful journey in my 2nd year…

Learning from some married students that I used to babysit for.  I couldn’t believe how fast their babies had grown up.  My word!  Where did time go?  Am I really THAT old?!  Our visit with them was EXACTLY what God knew we needed that day.  They were able to give us very wise advice on things we were dealing with, and laugh about it and let us know that we definitely were not alone in this!  Then on the way home we stopped to visit another married student friend of Jerry’s from freshman year.  I got to meet his family for the first time.

God got us home in spite of a gas light that came on a loooong ways from home!  I’m thankful we didn’t have to wake up my brother and beg him to come bring us gas!

I’m thankful that the flight home worked out well.

I’m thankful Jerry’s knee has healed with no complications, and the Dr. says the surgery was a success! I’m thankful God provided for us during that time when Jerry wasn’t able to work.  Partially through Dave Ramsey, actually.  Much as we hate to admit it, and grumble that he completely ruined our lives, it WAS because of what we learned in the Ramsey class that Jerry was able to take 6 weeks off work!

I’m thankful for a new job for him — one that will take him in the direction he wants to go.

I’m thankful that the harvest is off and it was fun to celebrate another safe harvest and grain IN the bins with my relatives and the harvest crew.

I’m thankful to be able to tag along with my hunting husband some days.  It’s nice not to be puking my guts out every morning…and afternoon…and evening!

God has blessed us, and we are thankful.

Summer Update, Part II

A highlight of the trip was introducing Elianna to 2 sets of great-grandparents.  This child has THREE sets of great-grandparents.  Isn’t that crazy?  I was certainly never that lucky!  We took 4-generation shots, and marveled at how she can look so much like her great-grandpa.

Finally, it was time for the event that we flew east for — Kimberly got married!!!

The happy couple

The happy couple

Kimberly (formerly known as Sanderly, on my blog) married her airplane pilot in September, and they had a beautiful wedding, with just enough excitement thrown in to make it perfect!.  The best man came about 2 hairs away from fainting (thanks to the heat of the day), and kept us all on the edge of our seats for the remainder of the wedding!  Elianna did amazingly well, considering she made it through the day with one proper nap and 1 cat-nap in the car!  The newlyweds sneaked away during the closing prayer, much to everyone’s surprise!  (I overheard one elderly lady exclaiming, “When I was young, *I* was taught to keep my eye closed during prayer!”  I take it she wasn’t in favor of sneaking away from your wedding with your eyes open….)  We spent the evening folding tulle and tulle and more tulle and then some more tulle.

Our flight home was a few days later, and was MUCH better than our flight TO the east.  We were blessed with 3 seats to ourselves on both flights, which helped a certain grouchy little girl be slightly happier.  She’s a bit like her mommy…she needs her space!  I had been worrying about our Toronto layover because it was so short and I was afraid that because of the time, baby, and Jerry’s injured knee, we might miss our next flight.  Well, even though our plane arrived at the time our next plane was supposed to depart, they held it for us, AND our luggage, AND it was just the next gate over.  Thank-You, God! I could’ve kissed the ground when we landed in Edmonton.  It’s good to go away and visit family and friends, but still, “Home” has never been a sweeter word!

The week of coming home was filled with doctor appointments for Jerry and his knee, shots for Elianna, and then I came down with the worst flu of my LIFE.  No, I’m not pregnant.  (We talked about that in the Swagbucks/blogging failure post, remember?)

The Dr. sentenced Jerry to 2 weeks of light work before he could go back to his normal job, so he hopped on a tractor for my uncle.  That turned into 7 weeks or harvest work, and he never did go back to his normal job, actually.  Yesterday he started a new job, with a new electrician.  His old boss was heading into oilfield/mechanical work, not electrical, so it was time to move on.

So….thus ends our summer!