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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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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!

Baby is obviously a Siebert/Eagles baby!

I came to a conclusion today.  Baby Eagles is just proving that he is indeed, without a shadow of a doubt, a Siebert/Eagles baby.

Now, before you all go freaking out over the fact that I said “he,” NO, we don’t know that he’s a HE, but I much prefer calling it a “he” than an ambiguous, generic “it” that makes it seem like this pregnancy is just a 35 week episode of sickness causes by an abnormal growth in my abdomen!  Besides, it’s somehow been easier all the way along to use the pronoun “he” than “she” — it just comes more naturally and I don’t have to mentally force my brain to change the automatic “he” to “she” before it comes out.  And like someone else said, why waste brain cells fighting pronouns before we know which side we’re fighting on?! (http://inashoe.com/2008/04/its-a-boy-maybe/) Besides…God used the masculine pronoun “he” all throughout the Bible to refer to both genders.  So I figure I’m in good company!

ANYWAY…back to the point.  Sieberts seem to have enormous trouble being on time.  Eagles also seem to have this same difficulty.  So obviously, our baby is just proving that he is an authentic Eagles/Siebert baby!

I’m a strange mix of patience and impatience right now.

Back in mid-December, the Dr. told us Baby might be coming early because he was VERY quiet for several days, and sometimes that is an indication that it is preparing for birth.  So, I looked forward to an early baby — but at the same time hoped it wouldn’t come till Jerry’s play was over.  Then I really hoped it would come early — but first we had to move.  I wanted it to come early, but then I wanted a few days to unpack after moving in.  I would’ve loved for it to arrive over the Christmas holidays, but life was crazy and insane with all the celebrating and company.  Then Christmas was over and everyone went home and I really wanted the baby to come before its due date, but at the same time, I hoped for a few more days to “nest,” put my house back in order, and spend a bit more “just us” time with Jerry.”  Then I hoped for another day or two to finish a blanket I was making for the baby.

Now…the play is over.  We are moved.  Christmas is over.  The baby’s room is ready.  The blanket is ready.  Jerry & I have most thoroughly enjoyed several blissful days of “us” time.  I feel refreshed.  Settled in.  There is nothing looming on the horizon that I must push myself to prepare for.  Nothing to hurry and finish.  The last weeks have been such a panicked rush of frantically trying to get everything done and pushing myself to my limits, and now, suddenly, it is all over.  I don’t need to anymore.  I am ready.  I have meals in the freezer.  The house is unpacked enough to live.  I’m caught up on laundry.  There is bread in the freezer.  But there’s no baby!

It’s so strange not to be pushing ahead to the next thing.  I’m not bored — I doubt that will EVER happen!  But I feel strangely … bored!  aimless.  I think I may not know how to function without that adrenaline coursing through my body!  So I putter through my day .. making applesauce … an extra batch of bread … putting things away here and there … but there’s no panic.  No rush.  Just puttering.  Jerry & I went for a walk when he got home from work yesterday, and enjoyed the new countryside.  He fixed the dryer vent, and I puttered away at the dishes and building his lunch for the next day.  We played a leisurely game before heading to bed.  It’s so strange to slow down!  Since possession date life has been absolutely CRAZY with fixing the house and packing and getting ready to move and for Christmas and company and the baby and now it’s suddenly not and … it’s strange.  I almost don’t know what to do with myself!

Nevertheless, it’s LOVELY to slow down.  To have time to breath.  To sit in my rocker beside the Christmas tree and just watch the snow falling outside in our park.  We saw 3 moose in our back-up spot the other day.  Just chillin’ out, enjoying themselves!  We are thrilled beyond belief to have our own place out in the country now.  It is balm for the soul.  I didn’t realize how much I missed living in the country until now.  It’s so peaceful.

So here we are … enjoying the quietness … God’s winter creation … and waiting for our baby.  Anxious for it to arrive so we can bring it home to our castle.  Missing it, strangely, as we cuddle on the couch in front of our tree in the evening.  How can you miss someone you’ve never met before?  I don’t know.  But our “twosome” is suddenly feeling lonesome.  We are missing our “third.”  So we are eagerly awaiting its arrival.  But enjoying this calm interlude also.

My roommate’s parents

Random thought from when I was on Facebook this afternoon and my roommate’s mom popped up on the facebook chat.  Well, actually, I was signed in but wasn’t actually there, and by the time I got back she was gone.  So we didn’t actually talk 😦

But it reminded me how thankful I am for the people God put in my life to look after me while I was in the east.  My roommate’s parents took me under their wing and spoiled me rotten and loved me and treated me like their own.  They even flew allllll the way across Canada, just to come to my wedding!  They were so helpful, coming early to help, and being around to catch all the little details that fell through the cracks  (it’s so nice to have people around who just put on a wedding 3 weeks before!), and be our last-minute emergency help (“AHHH!!!  This needs to get to the church NOW!”)

I miss them.  I wish there weren’t so much CANADA between AB and PEI!  I’m looking forward to our next visit east, and hopefully being able to pop over to the island to see them.  I miss them.  And I’m thankful for them 🙂

My roommate's parents

My roommate's parents

My roommate's wedding, 3 weeks before ours

My roommate's wedding, 3 weeks before ours

“Better is one day in Your courts…”

I’ve always found it interesting how music that I listen to over and over gets to the point where I don’t even really hear or think about the words anymore a lot of times.  And yet those words are there, deeply ingrained, and pop into my mind at exactly the right time when I need them.

I remember when I first got the news last summer that Grandpa had passed away.  Jerry and I were traveling to meet up with his family someplace a couple hours from KWT when Dad called to let me know that Grandpa had passed away that afternoon.  Jerry pulled over to the side of the road and I was crying uncontrollably, caught in the “earthly” sorrow.  Suddenly a line from “Rock of Ages” popped into my head, bringing comfort and perspective — Grandpa wasn’t just GONE.  Rather, he was gone TO somewhere — to heaven, and he was with the Lord.  Knowing that didn’t take the pain away, of course, but it did bring some measure of comfort.

Timothy and I went to the city today for Larry’s funeral.  Timothy had been playing music on the way in, and I was enjoying it, though not really listening to it when suddenly the words jumped out at me — “Better is one day in Your courts, better is one day in Your house, better is one day in Your courts, than thousands elsewhere…” I suddenly realized how true that was right then, that moment.  We were going inside for a funeral.  We would mourn Larry’s death, and there would be  a lot of memories and tears, but for Mr. Jaycox, one day up there in heaven with his Lord is better than thousands more here on earth that we foolishly wish him back for.

Death.  Such a painful, heartbreaking thing.  Yet such a joyous occasion, for someone to finally be freed from pain and suffering here on earth and be gloriously FREE, the way God made us to be….  Ahh, the opposites in life, and how to reconcile them!

KWT family and adopted grandparents

When we moved to KWT many many moons ago, we moved away from both sets of grandparents, as well as one set of cousins we were very close to.  This was difficult — more so for Mom & Dad than us kids, I think, because we were so young we didn’t really know what was going on.  But God gave us new family — our KWT family.

On one side of our trailer, our neighbors were the Lorentzens.  Mrs. Lorentzen would make us the best bran muffins in the WORLD.  We’d play with their amazing toys when we went to visit (they had trucks and cars and trains and mannies galore, and we LOVED playing with them!).  Mr. Lorentzen kept us entertained (unknowingly, I’m sure!) during mealtimes by rearranging his numerous vehicles in their yard, right in front of our dining room window.  Their son Jonathan would entertain us with his crazy antics, like setting up a lawn chair and umbrella on their deck facing our dining room window and then settle in with a pair of binoculars to watch US!

I’m afraid we are the cause of quite a few of Mrs. Lorentzen’s grey hairs — probably mainly from the time when she was babysitting us and we decided to go catch mice (bare-handed — like, no tools or traps or anything — just our hands in our mittens) in the field and bring them back in a 5 gallon pail to show her our latest accomplishment.  She told us in NO uncertain terms that we were NOT to let those mice free ANYWHERE near her trailer!  And I’m also afraid we were the cause of quite a few of Mr. Lorentzen’s grey hairs!  I recall another time when they were looking after us and he came to check on us in our playhouse.  We were happily burning our woodstove and cooking all sorts of concoctions on it, and were in the process of melting down wax to make our own candle factory.  He was quite afraid we were going to burn ourselves down, along with their place, and the rest of campus, I think!  They had the patience of saints…

Then on the other side were Mr. & Mrs. Jaycox.  He was the campus maintenance man, and would give us rides in the bucket of the back hoe when he went rock-picking.  He would patiently melt down a milk jug lid and patch our plastic sled about 10 times per winter when it would crack and break.  He took us for wagon rides with his horses, and let us watch as he trained their newest colt, Star.  It was in their yard that we were introduced to chickens being butchered also.  I will never forget the terror of being chased around by a chicken that DID NOT HAVE A HEAD ANYMORE!!!!  (don’t worry — I wasn’t damaged forever!  Just baffled and terrified by the fact that an animal WITHOUT A HEAD knew where I was and could still chase me! [or so it seemed!])  My favorite memories of Mrs. Jaycox were of her inviting us over after Prayer Meeting (or Sunday Evening Services ?) for popcorn.  She made the best popcorn ever, because she put lots of butter on, and LOTS of salt!  I loved licking my finger and cleaning the salt and butter out of my bowl after the popcorn was gone….mmmmmm!

So even though we were far from our family and relatives, God gave us another family to fill the void, and we had two more sets of grandparents to look after us and love us.

When Jerry & I moved here last fall, I found out that the Jaycox’s lived just an hour from us.  I wanted to go visit, but in the busyness of life, it just kept being put off.  Yesterday, though, when I had to make a trip in to the city I finally went to see them.  Mr. Jaycox was in the hospital, recovering from a hip surgery.  We visited a bit, reminisced (it had been over 10 years since I’ve seen them, I think), and then I had to go to my next appointment.  But it was so good to see them.

Today I got an email from the mission, saying he passed away in his sleep last night.  Ouch.

I’ve cried a lot this afternoon.  It feels like part of my childhood is suddenly missing.  Something irreplaceable has been taken away.  One of my adopted grandparents is gone, and it hurts.  But I am so thankful I got to see him yesterday.  I’m thankful for their part in my life.  And I’m thankful for the time they (both Lorentzens and Jaycox’s) took to love us and care for us.  I’m thankful that God gave us more family at KWT.  And I am thankful that someday I will see Mr. Jaycox again.

 

More unpacking

I’ve been unpacking again today.  This time the easiest boxes to reach were clothes and knick-knacks and treasures and keepsakes and things from my room.  I have them spread out on our bedroom floor right now but am not quite sure where to go from here.  What do I do with them now?

I’m married now, and apparently grown up. One of the MDP kids (not a Steele kid!) gave me this feathered orange/blue/purple cotton-ball thingy (I think it’s a flying insect … I think … maybe … you never know!) that is suspended on fishing line.  It has hung off the shelf in my room ever since — a rather odd addition to my burgundy and pink room, but I was quite happy to look at it and smile every now and then.  But now — where do I put such a thing in my grown-up house?!  The house my husband has to live in too?!

I have golfballs, porcelain dolls, halos, pictures, random rocks, souvenirs from my well-traveled cousin’s trips, neckties, candles, ceramic kittens and bears, … hmmm … my room was quite the conglomeration I guess, eh?!  I don’t know if that’s even a word, but Spell Check hasn’t thrown a fit yet, so we’re all good!

I’m not so sure what to do with this growing up thing.  Suddenly my most treasured sentimental ceramic kittens and bears no longer seem to have a place in my new home, though they still have a place in my heart.  Do I pack them away in a box? (like any good Siebert would do!)  Put them out and have a crazily-decorated house?!  Pack them away for my kids?

Oh, the questions of life!