Sunday, December 26, 2010

merry christmas

So if you like posts with pictures, this one might not whet your appetite. But the main purpose of this blog is for me to journey our lives so that we might look back and see where God has taken us.

Christmas 2010 looked like this.

I had no idea what to expect, the first Christmas since Blake died, and although it's my favorite time of the year, and it's been a wonderful season, part of my heart was very, very sad.

It's our family tradition that Blake and I always spent Christmas Eve with my dad. Every year, he takes us out to a fancy dinner, then we go back to his house to open gifts, drink coffee, listen to music, and hang out. I was so thankful that my dad wanted to continue our tradition this year, and it turned out to be a very special evening.

It wasn't free of tears.
And it was full of bittersweet memories.
But it was a really sweet evening, just the four of us.

And our dogs, Daisy and Bode! :)

It made me realize how very thankful I am for my relationship with him. And how far it's come over the years....

My Dad and Marlow gave Adam and I some little gifts and then blessed us generously with two big ones.

Well, one big one and one really really big one.

We got the jogging stroller we'd been wanting for when Luke gets here and I can start running again. (Oh, yea!)

And I'd rather not share much about our really, really big gift right now. It may be another story for another post. It was an overwhelmingly generous gift. And we are so grateful.

My husband is like a little kid. And on Christmas morning he was so excited that he couldn't sleep past about 5:30. So he got up, lit the fire, and read while I slept a little longer. When I finally got my sleepy head into the family room, we sat on the couch and opened gifts from each other.

It was a really fun morning, and we laughed so much! Good for my soul!

Adam got Luke "Elf on the Shelf," for his first unofficial Christmas. I read to him while Adam listened. It was wonderful.

We got dressed and headed to my mom's house, where we were supposed to have Christmas breakfast with her and some friends, Gregg & Jolyn.

Gregg and Jolyn have two daughters but they were both out of the country for Christmas. In the spirit of missing someone, we were all going to eat breakfast together.

Okay at this point I have to rewind a little bit. When Adam and I run (or walk, as it often goes these days, for me), our route often takes us through a pretty big park not too far from our house. The path goes through the park and then leads to other paths, where we can run almost anywhere.

A few days ago, when Daisy and I were walking through the park, I noticed a man sitting on a bench that really caught my attention. Although he looked fairly clean and groomed, it was apparent to me that he was homeless. He had a large suitcase, a bedroll, an umbrella, and a backpack. I passed him and couldn't get the image out of my head.

Was he living in the woods?

Deep, dense, thick woods surround this area where we walk, and I just had a feeling he had spent the night there.

Later on my walk, I actually saw him again. He was walking down the path pulling his suitcase, carrying his backpack. Again, I thought it odd, and very sad.

I told Adam about the man that day.

On Christmas Eve, when we were on our way to my dad's house, all dressed up for dinner, we saw the man.

I said, Adam, that's him. He was walking down the street with his suitcase and backpack.

Oddly enough, he came up in conversation later that night, and I described him to Sam and Marlow. Marlow had seen him, too, walking down the street. We were all troubled that this man was spending Christmas Eve alone, outside, in the cold, without anyone.

Don't get me wrong. I know there are tons of homeless people in this world. We actually spent some time getting to know a group of homeless people last year as part of a homeless ministry with some friends. And I know that most of them still sleep on the corner where we used to bring them dinner. But a homeless man in The Woodlands is a rare sight, and I guess for this reason, he really caught my attention.

Okay. Back to Christmas morning. On our way to my mom's house.

We were sitting at an intersection. Red light. We were the only car around. No one else. The homeless man crossed the street right in front of us.

To make a long story a bit longer, we ended up picking up Kevin and taking him to my mom's house for Christmas breakfast. She had no warning. We just got out of the car with one extra and Adam said, Vickie, this is our friend Kevin.

I've never seen a person eat so much. Or drink so much coffee in one sitting.

Overall, Kevin was pleasant, odd, and interesting. I had mixed feelings about the morning. To be honest, I wanted everyone to go away except Adam and my mom. And I wanted my brother to be sitting next to me, drinking coffee and eating all my mom's food and opening presents.

To be completely cliche, I guess God had other plans. There we were, six of us, kind of a misfit crowd, on Christmas morning.

All missing something.

Later, we dropped Kevin off at the place where he wanted to go, and spent the rest of the day with our families.

We had a big lunch with Adam's parents and one of his sisters, who is also pregnant. We talked about babies and how next Christmas will be so different than this one.

In fact, all of next year will be quite different, I believe. And my heart is excited about that.

Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

it's the week before christmas

These days seem to be flying by. Seems like just yesterday I was crossing that line into the blessed second trimester, and now I'm in my third trimester with less than twelve weeks 'til due date. My pregnancy has been comfortable and smooth, thank goodness, and I'm so thankful for the little one inside of me.

Had a doctor's appointment last week and everything looked great. Belly size, weight gain, blood pressure, and pee all looked good. And I passed my glucose tolerance test! Yea!

Luke moves around all the time! It is so much fun! You can actually see him roll around inside my stomach, and when he gets the hiccups my belly sort of twitches rhythmically. It's so cool!

Last night, I went to sleep with him kicking and this morning I woke up to his punches. I absolutely love feeling him move around in there. What a miraculous thing, this little child!

At just over twenty eight weeks, it is obvious to the world that I have something growing inside ... and it's been fun to finally have a real belly!

Daisy insisted on posing in this picture with me. :) And you can see that his nursery is progressing nicely. No real decor yet but all the basics are taken care of!

In other news, I'm all finished with my grad school coursework. This means no more tests, no more papers, no more big presentations. I'm done! All that's left is clinical hours, which I'm still hoping to finish before March. If I can accomplish this task, I'll be ready to graduate in May!

This Christmas season has been filled with mixed emotions. I find myself crying at the smallest, strangest things. Call it hormones or grief or anticipation or a mixture of all three ... I think about my brother all the time and the next week will be so difficult without him.

The last time I saw Blake was Christmas Day 2009. I am so thankful for that memory, and the time that we spent together.... I wish he were here this year, to celebrate Christmas with our family, and to know the nephew that's kicking me in the ribs right now. ;)

What joy, what joy for those whose hope is in the name of the Lord. What peace, what peace for those whose confidence is Him alone...

Friday, November 26, 2010

happy, happy thanksgiving

This year, I am thankful for one long table, set for twenty ...

... for the husband who helped set the table, and prepare our Thanksgiving turkeys ... he is the most amazing and hardest working person I've ever known ... I'm so thankful that he loves me ...

... I am thankful to be surrounded by my family ... for silliness and laughter and delicious food ...

... for children to love (they watched Pinnocchio on our bed while we cooked dinner!)

... and for the fact that my mom, my dad, and my dad's wife spent Thanksgiving in the same house, for the first time, ever ...

... I'm thankful for healing, for love, for restoration and peace, for the power of prayer and joy of the season.

Friday, November 12, 2010

baby boy has a name ...

Sweet boy, we have decided to call you Luke. We have loved the name since before we got married and have always imagined our first little boy as Luke. It is so much fun to call you by name and see it written out ... (even while you're still in my tummy, at 23 weeks!)

... to dream of what you will look like, sound like, smell like and feel like our in arms. We can't wait to meet you, sweet boy. Our sweet little Luke!

In other news, we continue to work on the nursery and we're getting so excited about the holidays. My pregnancy is going great and I'm loving feeling our little man move around inside of me. His kicks and punches are getting stronger every week and I think I will miss them when he's not in there anymore. Adam can feel him (and see him!) move around, too, and it's been a joy to share that with him.

Monday, November 1, 2010

i love my paw paw

Got to celebrate the fiftieth wedding anniversary of some sweet friends of my grandfather's. Happy anniversary, Jack & Phyllis! What a beautiful example of love, friendship, and dedication. It was a really neat event and we had so much fun.

I really enjoyed seeing my Paw-Paw, who is so excited about his first great grandchild ... He introduced my belly to everyone!

And now for a full body shot to show off my 21 week belly. We haven't been so good at documenting the growth, but I am growing!

Friday, October 15, 2010

oh boy!

Dr. Strong only had the ultrasound machine on my belly for about five seconds when he said, do you want to know the gender? Uh, yea!

He moved the pointer to a little speck between the legs and typed, B-O-Y. It's official, for sure, no doubts, a little man!

And although he was eager to show us his boy parts, little man peanut was not so eager to show us his face! He's all curled up in a ball in there, legs up in his chest, ankles crossed, chin down, just growing away! But it was so neat to see his inner workings, and so far, everything looks great!

We celebrated by going out to dinner and then telling our parents the big news. Everyone is just as excited as we are and can't wait to start shopping!

It was very surreal to see peanut inside me. I have not felt him move yet so it was totally crazy to see an entire little person on the screen and know that he is dependent on my body for all his needs.

Oh, I hope he is just like his daddy!

Monday, October 11, 2010

new life

The thought of new life, especially in such a season of turmoil, is exhilarating. What a merciful, loving God. What a precious gift.

We are so excited about this little one, it's hard to stop smiling sometimes. It's been a wonderful few months, acting in every way like first time expecting parents.

We're calling the baby peanut for now, which seems to suit it just fine.

We've told our family, our friends, and just about anyone else who would listen. We've talked about names, made a few trips to Babies R Us, planned a nursery, read books, taken pictures of my growing belly, celebrated, prayed, researched, and shopped. What a sweet, sweet time in our marriage and family.

I had a very typical first trimester, with some morning sickness, exhaustion, and cravings.

Adam teased me in the beginning because he caught me eating Cheez-Its for breakfast. For about two weeks, they were just about the only thing I could manage to keep down. I even ate them in the bathtub one time. There is nothing better for a nauseated pregnant woman than a warm bath, Norah Roberts, and Cheez-Itz. All at the same time.

He told all the guys at work that he was going to have to buy stock in Cheez-It. I've been teased ever since. And even though I still like the little orange crackers, my diet is much more balanced. I'm eating a variety of nutritious foods and no longer throwing any of them up. :)

We've had several ultrasounds along the way, and I will never get tired of seeing that little one in my belly. Such life, such a miracle. I am so in love.

The big ultrasound is this Friday. We will be able to see all the organs up close, which I'm anxiously anticipating! And we'll get to see what's between our little peanut's legs!

Here's a few shots of my growing belly!

Not yet really showing at 8 weeks. The nursery is a work in progress behind me. Adam installed the fancy trim and beadboard just after we found out that we were expecting.

Ah yes, growing already at 16 weeks here! This will be the last time I post pictures of bare skin on the internet.

I've popped out even more since then .... at almost 19 weeks I'm really, really starting to look like there's something in there!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

happy birthday, blaker man!

Today, little brother, you would have been 24 years old. I wish you could have been with us in person as we ate sushi in your honor. I miss you like crazy. Happy birthday.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

so proud

Adam and my Dad did the Ten for Texas today and did great! I'm so proud of them both! Although I am still running some (and walking!), peanut and I opted out of the 10-miler this year. We cheered them on instead!

Congratulations, babe!

Friday, October 8, 2010

two pink lines

I found out I was pregnant on July 3. It was one of the coolest days of my life.

I had a feeling that there was a little something going on and had even told my friend Kathryn that I thought I might be pregnant the Sunday before ...

Well, Wednesday came along, and nothing to prove me otherwise.

Then Thursday, then Friday, then Saturday. And I finally gave in to the crazy urge to buy a few tests. I made a trip to Walgreens and brought the box home. Adam was out of town.

I peed, and there they were: the two pink lines.

Even though I had had a feeling, SHOCK is the most accurate word to describe how I felt.

I knelt by my bed, EPT stick in hand, and prayed. Thank you, God, for this.

I drank a bunch of iced tea and took a second test about two hours later. Again, two pink lines.
I cried. Jumped up and down. Prayed again. And then I called my friend Kathryn to tell her the news.

I had to tell someone! My husband was out of town, not due back until late that night!

Kat and I made a trip to Target, where she bought me this:

And where we picked up a box of digital pregnancy tests. I took another one in the bathroom of Target, just to make sure that two different brands, um, agreed on my situation.

And where I bought Adam a little welcome home present. And when he got home from Colorado around midnight that night, this is how he found out:

Thursday, October 7, 2010

my own understanding

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.

My mantra, for today.

It is my understanding that fails. I cannot trust it at all.

I'm back to blogging and don't really know where to begin. I thought about abandoning the whole idea after such a long absence, but there are so many things happening these days - some wonderful, some difficult - that I want to record, remember, contemplate, and share. So, I think I'll come back.

I have not blogged since the loss of my brother. He died on January 21, 2010.

I sat down several times to write and always discarded my work for one reason: the words felt so dull. It was as if they were not alive enough, good enough, rich enough, true enough, to describe what was happening. So I quit trying. I wrote letters to Blake instead and somehow that was more comforting and carried less pressure.

I could probably write a book about the things I've been through since losing my brother to suicide. If you've ever been there, you know what I mean. To be completely cliche, it's a roller coaster of emotions. Different trials every day. I won't try to catch-up here, or backtrack to explain every valley and mountain since that night.

The truest theme through all this is explained in one simple question.

Who, then, is my God?

Because He is not who I thought He was. Now before you Bible Beaters get all Sunday School on me, have hope. Don't judge. I'm not saying that I don't believe. I'm not saying I don't worship. I'm not saying I don't love. But the person I thought God was, the image I had in my soul of the One I loved before ... that image is gone. So how to believe now? How to worship now? How to laugh and love and move on now? My world was upside down. Maybe it still is. And I've come to the conclusion over the last eight months, two weeks, and three days that it's okay to be here. It's simply, where I am.

And even more important, it's making me stronger. I no longer believe in a god of good fortune, a santa clause in the sky, one who makes all things happy. No.

There is a God. Yes, my friends, there is a God! But He lets horrible things happen and I don't know why. He does not make sense to me, that's for damn sure.

He also creates beauty from ashes, and all good things. He is creating new life inside of me, physically and spiritually, and this blows me away as well.

In fact, it's the dichotomy that perplexes me the most. If I give God credit for all things - if all things are His - under His dominion, His control, His rule - then one God, the same God, a God who never changes and never fails, allowed my brother to die and gave me a baby.

Total defeat. Indescribable joy. Just one God.

Do you remember after hurricane Ike, when no one had power? We were powerless for 15 days at our house. Even though it was September, and the temperatures had been in the triple digits for weeks, we had beautiful, cool weather in those few days after the storm. Everyone stayed outside because the days were so pretty and we had now electricity. I heard people all over saying, "thank the Lord for this beautiful weather, what a gift!" I was talking to a friend about this and she said, "if we're going to thank the Lord for the beautiful weather, we have to also thank him for the hurricane."

It is these things that I ponder. In my celebration and in my grief.

I know that I have to declare His goodness, even in total despair.

Believe that He is righteous, even when I want to change the past.

Know that He is present, even when I feel alone.

Trust Him, even when I don't understand.

If this means that I worship through tears and pray through anger, so be it.

I look at my dad and shake my head, saying, I don't know, I can't explain it, but I believe, and I will walk in the truth that He is good.

More to come. It feels good to be back.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Technically, this story isn't mine to tell. It was told by Pastor Larry, and I didn't even hear it from him ... I heard it from someone else. I may not even have all the details just right. But the punchline ... just a few words ... they've been ringing in my ears since I heard them.

A pastor from Uganda, Pastor Richard, came to The Woodlands to visit PL. Old friends, I believe. It had been a very cold week here, below freezing for several days in a row. Plants and pipes were draped with sheets to prevent damage. PL took Pastor Richard out to lunch after church on Sunday and on the way home Pastor Richard stared out the truck window.

"It's amazing," he said. "Even your plants have blankets."

Jesus, open our eyes.
Beyond this place,
our jobs, our schools, our streets, our sickness.
Beyond our friends, our own families,
Fox news, local radio.
Beyond our town
our state
our country.
Across oceans
to places we can't image.
Give us a passion.
A prayer.
A love for the nations.
Make us care, sweet Jesus.
Our plants have blankets.

I'm sure there are many trustworthy organizations through which to donate money to a Haiti relief fund. But here's one that I know, personally, has a love for the nations.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

sweet sweet friend

Just got home from a little road trip. In three days, I saw three (four?) small Texas towns and had a blast! I went to Graham for Meredith's baby shower, then to Kerrville to stay with Kathryn. Together, we drove to San Antonio one day and Fredericksburg another day to have some girl time! I lost track of the number of thrift stores we hit, but I picked up several little treasures for the house and searched the clearance rack for "professional attire" for this coming semester. We also shopped for baby clothes... for Kathryn and Mike's baby Kate! :) In fact, aunt Jen bought Kate a giraffe print onesie! With a PINK giraffe on the front! So precious. We went to the movies and splurged on buttered popcorn and Cokes. We cooked a yummy dinner and drank lots of coffee. There was lots of time in the car, tons of great conversation, and we laughed until our cheeks hurt!

I am so thankful for you, sweet Kathryn, and nearly fifteen years of friendship!
Junior high.
Hot rollers. Bangs. Ribbons.
Horseback riding. Red Barn.
I swear, no matter what L & M said, those Breyer horses never, ever moved their heads!
Road trip to Wyoming.
Do you remember when the microwave fell on my head?
High school. Homecoming.
New student orientation. Underwood. Phi Lamb. 8:00 a.m. freshman biology. Football.
Apartment. Roommates. Shakie's.
Falling in love.
Engagements. Weddings.
Who knew we inherited our mother's decorating senses... and that we'd love landscaping.
And now, your precious baby girl.
I cannot wait to meet her!

You are so precious to me. I am so thankful for a confidant, a friend, a sister. I love our talks about Jesus, husbands, sins and freedom, fear, clothes, plants, plans, people. Thanks for having me to Kerrville this weekend. I will see you in February!