Tuesday, September 29, 2009

1,000 Gifts

It is not Monday. Aren't I a clever gal? My mom always says I am a day late and a dollar short! I wandered onto a lovely blog that the Lord has been ministering to me through the writer's simple, true, and lovely words. And music. And photos. The writer has a practice of giving thanks to the Giver for the gifts in her life. On Mondays, she and the rest of her "Gratitude Community" post their additions to an ongoing list of things they are thankful for. Even though I am a day late, I am hooked!
I know this blog is in my brother's memory, I know I am supposed to be telling his stories; remembering his life. That was my original vision. But I find myself spilling over with things to say about how his death has moved me. His death has made me more thankful. And so I stole this gal's great idea, or joined her bandwagon, or jumped on board--whatever you want to call it.
At the bottom of this site, you will find a link that articulates the mission behind her community. Read her words, hear her heart. Feel free to scroll down to my list of One Thousand Gifts--I started my list today. It was so easy because I am so blessed. I found it hard to stop once I got rolling! I caught myself thinking that I wanted to add THIS or THAT to my list. It made me smile. Thank you, stranger friend, for sharing with me a wonderful way to memorialize my grateful heart. And thanks be to God for His indescribable Gift.
38. just called to see how you are" phone calls from my daddy
37. spending afternoons with my mom
36. having so many things to be thankful for! this is addicting!
35. reading my oldest's writing assignments--how did she learn that?
34. good friends and unexpected care packages--I LOVE MAIL! thanks didi :)
33. birthday party planning
32. kind neighbors-when we bought this home, we had no idea it came with such amazing amenities!
31. belting out "In Christ Alone" with my children this morning
30. planning weddings-just do it aunty!
29. spot-eyed puppies--Cooper is so cute!
28. sitting on the front porch and watching kids skate on the first cool day in weeks
27. big 'ole brown eyes and blonde hair
26. singing "Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep" with my 2 y/o at naptime
25. haircuts-it is always so nice when someone else blowdries your hair
24. cuddling on the couch and reading aloud from a yummy book
23. meeting kindred spirits in unexpected places--Ann here in cyberspace!
22. little girls who tell me that if i list 25 gifts a day, i will reach 1,000 in 40 days--so thankful to have a math mind reading over my shoulder
21. fresh baked bread for breakfast
20. a hint of Fall in the air
19. grieving with Hope--missing Bryan but knowing he is safe in Jesus' arms and FREE at last
18. best friends-Meredith and secret stories
17. His Spirit, my source of comfort, counsel and power
16. Hope
15. food in our bellies and in our pantries--it is right to be grateful when there is so much hunger in the world
14. employment-so mundane but a gift nevertheless--maybe i should say Provision?
13. new mercies every morning
12. supportive parents who are daily a part of my life
11. precious Peter--a late addition
10.TWINS! Samuel and Aidan
9. middle child-Kate Marie
8. firstborn-Reilly Lee
7. my husband, additional proof that God gives good gifts to His kids
6. Undeserved Mercy, Unmerited Grace (did I say that already?)
5. Relentless Pursuit, Wooing my Faithless Heart
4. His Perfect Word
3. Being Chosen
2. Grace Alone
1. Christ

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Peter and his best Buddy(the one he was having this overheard conversation with!)

Bryan's death is not my first waking thought these mornings. Reliving that terrible moment when my Daddy woke me up at 4am to tell me my brother died--I don't panic anymore when the memory crashes over me like a huge wave. I have learned to cope with the cacophony of chaos that moment creates in my mind. It still unsettles me, disturbs me, makes me feel like I am living in the Twilight Zone. How can I get up, make breakfast, brush my teeth, read on the couch with my kids like all the other days of my life? And Bryan isn't a part of my life anymore. It is surreal.

I haven't forgotten my brother--his life's impact on mine, his death's impact on mine. The days immediately following his death were bittersweet. I felt like the veil had been lifted and I could see certain things more clearly: what my faith was made of, Who it is made of, how tender and precious my time with my children is, how much I need my Mom and Dad, how much I love my husband, how fleeting our lives are, how nothing is really guaranteed. So much in my life was more REAL in the days following December 14, 2008. A bittersweet gift during a tragic time.

I just reread all that gobbledygook. I am not making any sense. It has been 9 months and 13 days since my brother died. I had to look on the blog for the exact amount of time that has passed since he has. I don't know anymore, off the top of my head. But I haven't forgotten. I never will. Just because I don't think of him in my first waking moment. Just because I am not mentally tallying the days anymore. Just because I don't weep everyday with my Mom when she visits. Just because there are no new stories to tell, no new memories made, no more moments shared with one of my favorite people doesn't mean that I have forgotten. Or that time has healed all my wounds or that life has moved on or that I have accepted all this pain as what is best. I haven't. Pithy cliches and trite truths don't move me.

I am not sure what DOES move me. I sometimes feel numb and immovable. Inertia, a heaviness in my heart, a burdened, oppressive "thing" weighs on me. I think it is grief. It doesn't go away when I want it to, when I think it is "about time". It is just there, hanging out with all the mundane, sundry, necessary things in my life--laundry, grocery shopping, dentist appointments. Right there with the joy and the laughter that my days still hold--there are so many smiles with so many beautiful children. Mingled with the new trials and challenges I am facing in life--pruning and fire. Bryan is gone from this life of mine. Nothing will make that empty place go away. Nothing can fill it.

Then I am driving with Peter sitting behind me chattering away with his best buddy. I have to strain my ears to eavesdrop and hear his tiny, sweet two-year old voice. I am always so fascinated to listen or observe my children when they don't know I am:

"Do you know who Uncle Bryan is?"

Peter queried. His friend didn't know.

"Well, he is not here. He is at Heaven."

Thoughtful pause from his friend.

His friends response, "My mom's mom is in Heaven too."

Peter's exclamation of wonder and awe, " They are at Heaven together."

I have not forgotten Bryan. And evidently, neither has my sweet baby boy. Who knew that he understood, in his innocent, child-like way what has been happening in and around him these last nine months? He just observed and listened and came up with his own conclusions. I made no efforts to explain things to my little Peter. "He is too young to understand", I told myself. He won't remember all this anyway. And yet he got it, spot on. All by his little self.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Aunt Emmy, Aunt Kathy and Uncle Keith at Family Night watching WIPEOUT!
Gotta have good eats!
Peter and Daddy watching WIPEOUT!
What concerned parent lets their 2yo watch such savagery?


We don't have cable in our home. We don't watch TV. I won't qualify our decision here. If you've seen the TV Guide lately, you know there is not much on that an entire family can watch without sullying their selves. But there are exceptions to every rule :)

This spring my parents asked us (cajoled, begged, bribed with banana splits) to stay late one Wednesday Family Night to watch a show that had been giving them stitches in their sides for months. We agreed. I'm not one to turn down free dessert.

The show is called WIPEOUT. You would think since I am so protective of the little eyes and ears in my charge that this show would be wholesome, edifying, family-friendly. You'd think wrong. WIPEOUT is brutal, heartless, violent, inappropriate, and...HILARIOUS. Shameless people compete against each other is these obstacle courses created by sadists. For Fifty Thousand Bucks. Or maybe it is for their 15 seconds of fame? I have no idea.

Each week I am shocked by who makes the cut at their casting calls. Very unlikely characters appear on the screen to face the Big Balls, the Punching Wall, the Raging Bucking Bull or the Final Obstacle course that includes thousands of gallons of ice cold Gatorade and human catapulting and other daring, tortuous hurdles to accomplish before they can cha-ching! their winnings. They don't ever show ambulances or stretchers but you just KNOW that people are getting hurt. What are these crazy contestants THINKING--subjecting their bodies to that agony?

My parents started watching it in honor of Bryan. The guy loved to laugh and I guess he had called my mom and told her to tune in one night. Or maybe it was the Japanese Game Show one? Who knows? But now my family makes the weekly trek to grandma and grandpa's house to watch humans being really foolish. This is NOT extreme sports, it is insanity! I would like to conclude that we have teachable moments and explain the finer points of protecting our health, caring for our bodies, respecting our reputations. But none of that is going on during these Wednesday nights. We are just laughing, switching channels during commercials, and eating bananas splits. Cheers Brother!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Nose Hairs

I know, I know today is a day "set aside to honor the American worker". It's true--on Labor Day we should be resting. Enjoying a day of laying around doing a lot of nothing. But Bob had work that couldn't wait. His nose hairs needed a good clippin'.
Since we started dating when I was in High School, nose hair clipping wasn't really a part of our relationship. I have been with this man since BEFORE he had chest hair. He shaved once a week when I fell in love with that mug. Two armpit hairs--tops! So dealing with unwanted hair is a recent development in our marriage of 16 years. This morning Bob charged up his nifty Norleco clippers and got to work on those objectionable, unseemly hairs that cause embarrassment to High School teachers standing over student desks each day. I watched. He is in his boxers when he performs this task so I enjoyed the show.
The whole thing just makes me laugh. Hysterically. You see, my BROTHER BRYAN bought Bob the handy-dandy Norelco clipper set with twenty-nine attachments. How many undesirable hairs do men HAVE to merit that many specific attachments?Anyway, Bryan was thrilled with his purchase one Christmas and since I wrapped all his gifts, I knew in advance what Bob would be receiving this particular yuletide offering. To say that I was skeptical of this gift's merit is an understatement. I could not even imagine why anyone would get excited about nose hair clippers. Oh how little I really understand about my other half! Or my brother!
Bob was thrilled with his gift. Elated. Couldn't wait for his inaugural first run. And guess who was right next to him, standing at the mirror in his shorts, waiting patiently for his turn to clip, clip, clip those unseemly hairs? My brother. It is a mental picture that will make my sides hurt and my eyes crinkle to my dying day. Bob and Bryan, with that medieval torture device whirling up their noses. Laughing and screaming. Their eyes watering from the humor and the pain. Evidently clippin' nose hairs hurt--even if you do have an expensive modern gadget
I wanted to include a picture of my man with that swirling dervish up his nose this morning but Bob flatly refused. I tried to persuade him, by pointing out that my favorite blogger continually post pictures of her man. And I just know HE loves it. The malboro man and his hiney. But mine just told me to get out of his face with my camera. So you'll have to close your eyes and join me in the mental picture, and enjoy a good laugh on Labor Day. If its not too much work. I didn't even have to use my imagination since the image in indelibly etched on my mind. Thanks for a good chuckle bro.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Sloppy BKs?

This post will likely provide way too much information, TMI as my girls like to interject with a blush when I have embarrassed them again by rattling on with my big mouth. It will reveal telling details about the kinda girl I truly am. Even if I do like to pretend like I've got it going on. TMI, free of charge tonight: I made Sloppy Joes for dinner. What does that tell? I know and you know it is the weekend and I should be reserving these kinda meals for hurried weeknights when I am racing back and forth from ballet or Costco or wherever in dreadful Temecula traffic. But I am lame and not very good at meal planning or cooking or homemaking or ...so we had a cheesy meal on a night when I should have been grilling steak, baking potatoes and making cookies from scratch. But since I never do that--weekend nights or otherwise-- we had Sloppy Joes for dinner. Before you boo or berate me, let me state for the record that my man is easygoing and not inclined to complain about what I put on his plate. Or bowl. I have been know to plop the cereal box on the table and say, "have at it!". So much for being a domestic goddess. That leads me to this funny little tidbit about my brother. And this blog is about my brother after all.
Bryan went shopping one Wednesday night in preparation for our monthly and/or weekly family nights. The nights when he commandeered my kitchen or my mom's. And made a mess. I mean a meal. One This night he was hankering for a joe, a Sloppy Joe. He headed to the market and returned with big country hamburger buns, frozen french fries just waiting to be broiled, and three big 'ole cans of Mamwich. For those of you who have class and taste, let me explain. It is the stuff that makes joes sloppy. Some tomato, sugary, saucy stuff.
Bryan opened up those cans and slopped them into the pan ready and roaring to heat up some grub for his hungry clan. The only problem was: Mamwich doesn't include the meat. Everyone knows you have to add you own browned ground beef. Everyone except my 30-something single brother. Ha! Ha! Thanks for the laugh bro. I needed it tonight. And even though I may still be a class-one dork, I made sure my Sloppy Joes had meat!

WARNING! Tissues Required-Video Slideshow of Bryan's Life-Sorry the music was muted!