Friday, June 29, 2007

The Star Thrower
by Loren Eiseley
1907 - 1977

Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?"

The young man paused, looked up, and replied "Throwing starfish into the ocean."

"I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" asked the somewhat startled wise man.

To this, the young man replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die."

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, "I made a difference to that one!"

Thursday, June 28, 2007

All is Well

Death is nothing at all,
I have only slipped into the next room
I am I and you are you
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Call me by my old familiar name,
Speak to me in the easy way which you always used
Put no difference in your tone,
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household world that it always was,
Let it be spoken without effect, without the trace of shadow on it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It it the same as it ever was, there is unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near,
Just around the corner.
All is well.

Henry Scott Holland
Canon of St Paul 's Cathedral
"Make New Friends, But Keep The Old"

When I was young, I attended church camp. I remember learning that old camp song:

Make new friends, but keep the old;
One is silver, and the other's gold.

Over the past couple of weeks, I've been thinking a lot about a good friend of mine, also named Amy. We grew up together. We've known each other since we were five years old. We lived on the same block, with one apartment building in between our houses. One of our major goals in life when we were children was to accomplish the world record for dandelion chains. We spent days making one that went from one end of the block all the way to the other. However, we eventually grew tired. It was a long dandelion chain, but we were pretty convinced that the world record must go at least all the way around the block. We never called the folks at Guinness.
Oh, and that camp song? We used to sing it in a round, and every other song we could possibly somehow make a round out of, endlessly.

As we grew up, both of our families moved to different houses in town, but we stayed close. We were both on the speech team and acted in reader's theatre and contest play productions. We both played the bells in band. We continued to share a close friendship all through high school.

After graduation, we moved to different cities. We kept in touch via phone calls and visits. I was in her wedding, and she was in mine. Even when she moved very far away, to Hilton Head, we continued to keep in touch and stay close friends. Eventually, she moved back to the area, and our friendship was easier to maintain.

Over the last five years, we somehow grew out-of-touch. Not intentionally. It was just one of those things, where you are going through a lot in your life, and then one day you suddenly wake up and think . . .oh, my gosh! Years have gone by, and I haven't even spoken to this person! I was reminded of Amy because my brother, who is a teacher, met her daughter at his school . . .and she just graduated from 8th grade. I remember her being a little girl! I remember going to Amy's house when her third daughter had just been born. I realized the other day I wasn't even sure how many children she had, and how old they were. I realized how much had changed for me since we'd last talked . . .I'd been through a divorce, gotten remarried, changed professions, moved several times, had two children. What had she gone through? Did she still live in the same place? Would she still want to be my friend? Would we have anything to talk about? The questions went on and on . . .

I found what I thought was her phone number under her husband's name on the Internet. I called several times over the course of a week, and each time got the same strange response. I would ask if Amy was there, and the man would say "no." Hmmm . . .ok? I would say, "Do you know where I can contact her?" "No." *click*

So finally I gave up. I felt weird continuing to call this guy, who wouldn't really tell me if I even had the right number. I thought . . .well, at least I tried. Maybe we'll run into each other sometime.

A few days later, I went back to the daycare where I used to work to pick up some of my things that they'd boxed up for me. My boss said, "I had the greatest talk with Amy the other day!" (She, too, attended our school). What? "You called her?" I asked. "Yes! She's doing really well!" Wow! So Jennifer had Amy's number. Great! I asked her to email it to me, promptly went back home, checked my email, found the number, and called it.

It was the right number, but no one was home. I left a message--my husband teased me for sounding so nervous. I was nervous! I didn't know if she'd even want to call me back!

A few hours passed, and she didn't call, so I tried again. This time, she answered. Literally, within minutes, we were laughing and chatting away. Amy realized halfway through our 90 minute conversation that we were acting just like we did when we were teenagers. We decided to get together tomorrow night and hang out.

No matter how much time goes by, true friends are always true friends, and no matter how much changes in our lives, these things remain the same. Sure, we'd both been through various diverse experiences, which we openly shared with one another. But the heart of our friendship and care for one another remained the same.

I'm really looking forward to seeing her again.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Headstone

I've been talking a lot to Jim about the whole criticism incident of the last few days. As you can see, I erased the blogs in question, simply because they were wallowing and self-indulgent. I freely admit this, and I'm not ashamed of my feelings. Everyone feels worthless and a failure every so often. It's okay to go through and experience all of those emotions. However, it's not worth it to me to get criticized for such feelings by people hiding behind the mask of anonymity. I have a feeling the comment was written by someone who knows me, and I think I know who it was. I can't say it didn't hurt me . . .but then I'm not supposed to express hurt, am I? That means I'm "lashing out." :) Anyway, the person was right in a few things. I am depressed, and I do need help (although, if they really cared about helping me, they were certainly insensitive about expressing that). However, if my "husband, parents, and family" are there for me, why shouldn't I lean on them? I would help them . . .in fact, I'd do anything for them, and they know it. If they don't want to help me, then I don't expect it. Perhaps the comments were written by a family member who felt guilty because they thought there was some sort of perceived expectation there? I don't know. I really hope not, because that would break my heart. I thought I knew everyone who read this blog, and wasn't aware that anyone was a "lurker" here. Nonetheless, I don't expect anything from anyone, but I welcome people's comfort and advice when it is freely given, and I appreciate my husband, parents, and family for all they have done to be there for me. I just hope the comments weren't written by someone in my family who resents the help I've needed. As far as counseling, I am looking into that possibility. However, I think it is very healthy that I am able to write about my feelings. To me, it is the same as counseling (and I've spent years in counseling, so I say this with knowledge and experience). I am able to purge those feelings rather than let them sit inside my mind, festering away. It is healthier for me to get out the hurts I feel, whether they are valid to others or not. It was actually counseling that taught me the journaling technique, and taught me to be honest at all times about my feelings. Aside from all of this . . .no one can "fix me." Not my family, not a counselor. I can learn to go on, try to move forward, and I can get better, but unless someone can bring my children back, they can't "fix it." So no, I can't find a way to "fix myself," nor can anyone else do it for me. I never criticized anyone else, never "lashed out" at anyone, and I don't deserve to be accused of that, even if everything else was true. Long winded, sorry. I just hate the idea that now I must censor my own blog to avoid being hurt by my anonymous friend again. From now on, I would hope that this person would have the courage to speak to me honestly and openly . . .they say no one is being honest with me, but neither are they, because they are afraid to talk to me. I am more than willing to discuss these things, but not when I don't even know who I'm talking to.

Ok . . . the end! Now the news!

The apartment hunting was . . .well, rather fruitless. The apartment in Roanoke was about the size of our living room. Then I spent 4 hours driving around Eureka, to find only one apartment, rented by a rather creepy man, furnished with furniture from 1952. It was hideous and tiny. And expensive. So . . .we keep looking!

We got home to a pleasant surprise. The boys' headstone was up! We usually drive through the cemetery every day, and hadn't had a chance to yet (it was about 3:30). My mom came upstairs to let us know that she'd driven through and it was there.

So we finished up eating our lunch and took the camera up to the cemetery. We were both very pleased with the results. The stone is beautiful. It's very small, which to us is perfect, because they were such tiny baby boys. It's simple, and it's elegant, and it really is a wonderful memorial to their little lives. It was a rainy and gray afternoon, but we took some pictures so you could see.

Monday, June 25, 2007

A Good Night

All things considered, it's been a good night.

First of all, I do want to address a few things regarding my blog. This has been my cleansing tool. It's been a way for me to say all the things I want to say about my boys. I clearly can't walk around all day long saying them, so I write them here. I have always been a writer, in that it is the most spiritual, most effective way for me to deal with my emotions. If someone reading my blogs felt that I was miserable 24/7, they would be wrong, and perhaps it is because I have given the wrong impression, or not been clear about my motives.
I have a lot of "normalcy" in my life. I read books, I take walks, I go swimming . . .I watch tv and movies, I hang out with family and friends. I smile a lot. I have fun. If I haven't focused on those things in the blog, it's because I have primarily used this space as a way to deal with the "other" emotions . . .the ones that need expressing, but can't always find the proper place and time. I never meant to convey my life as a completely bleak existence. I have seriously considered writing a book, and perhaps it is time to start. I have found myself, in the past, apologizing for writing about my grief. People encouraged me to continue doing it, so I did. And I genuinely mean it when I say I have tried to help others. I haven't tried to be an inspirational wellspring, or a counselor, but I have tried to be honest. It's not easy to expose your heart, but I did so because the last thing I wanted to hear were fake niceties after losing the boys. I figured others might feel the same way, and just want to read honest emotions. After losing Brian, I discovered several other womens' blogs that were raw and emotional, and those were the ones that helped me the most. I still feel some of what I've written has been helpful, because people have told me so. They help me as well, by being honest about their grief and not pretending or using cliches, like "time heals all wounds," or "every cloud has a silver lining." I don't pretend to be a self-help guru or any such thing. I don't think I'm better than anyone else. I just tell the truth about my experience, and that's the best I can do. Helping myself heal and trying to help others aren't mutually exclusive . . .I have written as an emotional healing journey just as much as I have done so to reach out to others, and to be reached out to.
It has only been 2 1/2 months since Sawyer died, and I am still processing everything . . .and I have used this little corner of the web to do it. I never intended to bring anyone down, hurt anyone, lash out at anyone, or be "angry" or hateful toward anyone. Those were the furthest things from my mind. I do sincerely apologize if anyone has taken offense to anything I've written. They haven't been directed towards anyone who reads this blog, and I have tried to point that out repeatedly, but maybe it always needs reminding. I appreciate all the people who would even take the time to read my thoughts, let alone respond to them. So thank you all, and I really will try to write about the good times more often as well.

So . . .about my night. I got a message from the manager at CVS in Washington. He wants to interview me. I am excited--it's the one place I applied that I thought would actually be quite fun! They have good wages and benefits as well. That's always a plus. So . . .wish me luck!

Also, I am going to look at an apartment while Jim is at his class tomorrow morning. It sounds promising. It's tiny, but very affordable, which is what we're looking for at the moment.

The reason we've decided to rent (not buy) is that we had a long talk the other night about our goals for life. We want to start living again, feeling better, doing things that will help us to make progress. One of the main things we have dreamed of for a long time now is moving to the Northwest . . .either Washington or Oregon. So we decided to work our butts off for the next year and save as much as we possibly can, then move! We are really serious about planning this and trying to make it happen within the next year or so. We're very excited about it--we're already looking up places we might be interested in, staring at pictures and maps, looking up average temperatures, etc. :)

So . . .again, wish us luck with everything. Hopefully within the next 2 weeks we'll have new jobs and be in a new place! That will be a start!
Beyond that, I have been walking for exercise, trying to eat better, taking care of my skin, and swimming/tanning a lot. I decided after those posts that I am responsible for my self-image, and I am the one who will have to change it, so I have begun a daily routine. We'll see how long it lasts. ;)

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Well . . .I'm feeling a bit better today. I decided to post a survey from Myspace, because it was fun and I found it interesting.


What is your favorite genre of music?

I don't like pop or mainstream

Name your favorite band(s)
Beatles, Nirvana, Eels, Smiths, Violent Femmes, Indigo Girls, and recently The Pogues

Name your favorite solo artist(s)
Badly Drawn Boy, Regina Spektor, Amiee Mann, Sinead O'Connor

What is your favorite album?
Sergeant Pepper's

What is your favorite album cover?
Sergeant Pepper's

Name your favorite song(s)there's WAYYY too many . . .I'll just name a few . . .

"Sampson" by Regina Spektor
"Imagine" by John Lennon
"Blackbird," "Real Love," "Strawberry Fields," "Good Night," and "Here Comes the Sun" by the Beatles
"Son of a Gun" by Nirvana
"Waiting for the Bus," "Gone Daddy Gone" and "Blister in the Sun" by Violent Femmes
"Veronica" and "Alison" by Elvis Costello
"For the Stars" by Elvis Costello and Anne Sofie Von Otter
"Wise Up" and "Save Me" by Amie Mann
"You Were Right," "Born in the UK," and "Donna and Butzon" by BDB
"Cemetery Gates," "The Boy With The Thorn in His Side," "Sing Me To Sleep," and "There is a Light that Never Goes Out" by The Smiths
"Airplane," "Closer to Fine," "Galileo," and "Kid Fears" by Indigo Girls
"1000 Oceans" by Tori Amos
"Adia" by Sarah McLachlan
"Stretched on Your Grave," "Black Boys on Mopeds" and "Three Babies" by Sinead O'Connor
"Sombody" by Depeche Mode
"Living in Oblivion" by Anything Box
"Only You" by Yaz
"Hymn to Her" and "Brass in Pocket" by The Pretenders
"It's Over and Done With" by The Proclaimers
"Wuthering Heights" by Kate Bush
"Me and Bobby McGee" and "Ball and Chain" by Janis Joplin
"Tiger in the Night" by Katie Melua
"Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher" by Jackie Wilson
"Tapestry" by Carole King
"Lay Down" by Melanie
"Can't Stand Me Now" by The Libertines

. . .that's probably enough for now, eh?

Favorite CD you own
guess . . .S.Pepper's . . .and also Have You Fed the Fish Lately and Soviet Kitch

Favorite lyrics
"Grey would be the color if I had a heart" from Something I Can Never Have by 9 Inch Nails

Favorite vocalist
John Lennon

Favorite rapper
Beastie Boys

The bad stuff

What's your least favorite genre of music?
1. country
2. rap
3. jazz

Who's your least favorite band?
oh, good lord. I could list hundreds. I'll just say, for now, Winger. HAHAHAHAHA Why did I think of Winger???

Who's your least favorite solo artist?
KT Tunstall and Eminem

If you could shoot any "artist" or "band", who would it be?

Least favorite song
Oops, I Did It Again

Most annoying song
That "Barbie Girl" song

Most repetitive song
"I Trusted You" by Andy Kaufmann . . .look it up on youtube, it's freaking HILARIOUS

Last song to be stuck in your head
Sherry Baby by Frankie Valli (my Grandma's name is Sherrilyn and I always sing that about her)

Did this survey just get that song stuck in your head again?

Worst band that used to be good?

A good band that used to suck?
don't know any

Your musical background

What was the first music you remember listening to?
The Who and Mamas and the Papas, which I still love both of. Also church music.

What type of music do your parents listen to?
Read above.

Do you play any musical instruments, or sing? If so, elaborate.
play piano and sing

Do you plan to / have you gone to college for music?
I minored in theatre and music and had a music scholarship.

Who are your musical inspirations?
John Lennon and Mozart

Who was your first favorite band or artist?
Carole King

Do you know much about musical theory? If not, would you like to?
I'm a champion in it. No, for real. 2 years running I won the IHSA State Music Theory competition.

If you take lessons, do you like your teacher(s)?
I used to like my teacher when I took lessons. I especially loved my college professor.

How many different music teachers do you have, or have you had?
four, at least . . .1 piano teacher for grade school, 1 in junior high-high school, 1 in college, and a voice teacher in college.

This or that

Classical or jazz?

Rock or Rap?

Funk or Blues?
blues! I love Blues!

Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin?
Pink Floyd

Bob Marley or Michael Franti?
Bob Marley

Coldplay or Radiohead?
Coldplay . . .Radiohead is so pretentious, it gets old.

John Mayer or Jack Johnson?

Eminem or 50 Cent?

Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera?

Backstreet Boys or N'SYNC?

The Beatles or the Rolling Stones?
The Beatles, duh . . .but the Rolling Stones are cool in their own right.

Beethoven or Mozart?
Mozart, but also like Beethoven

Duke Ellington or Count Basie?
Count Basie

Electric or acoustic?

Mandolin or ukulele?


Why do you like music?
Because I'm alive. It's that simple. Without music, there is no life.

When you're angry, what type of music do you listen to?
angry music. Doesn't it make sense?

Has music ever made you cry? When?
All the time!

Has music ever made you laugh? When?
sometimes . . .They Might Be Giants make me laugh, and a lot of music makes me laugh because of memories associated with it.

Do you like local music?
not particularly. When I was in high school, local bands were the "cool" thing because Seattle Grunge was popular, and so bands from Peoria and Pekin thought they could be the next big local talents . . .they all sucked, frankly, and I never got into it. If they were that great, they wouldn't be playing around here.

What is the best show you have ever been to?
Violent Femmes

Have you ever played in any shows?
If by "show" you mean "church," then yes. HAHA

If so, what type of music was it?
Praise and Worship

Do you enjoy being on stage?

Do you like to sing, even if you don't consider yourself a singer?

If you could just chill with any musician, who would it be?
Badly Drawn Boy (Damon Gough)

What instrument that you don't play now would you like to learn next?
I'm trying to learn violin (been trying for awhile now)

Monday, June 18, 2007

Johnny Cash wrote these lyrics for his wife, June Carter Cash. I found a recording of it, purely by chance, after finding out my grandmother had passed away. Very strangely, the recording I found was sung by June herself, and her voice sounds very much like my grandma's, down to the accent. It's eerie listening to it. I thought I would post the lyrics here, as they very much spoke to me, as if my grandma herself was singing it to me.

Meet Me In Heaven
Johnny Cash

We saw houses falling from the sky
Where the mountains lean down to the sand
We saw blackbirds circling 'round an old castle keep
And I stood on the cliff and held your hand

We walked troubles brooding wind swept hills
And we loved and we laughed the pain away
At the end of the journey, when our last song is sung
Will you meet me in Heaven someday

Can't be sure of how's it's going to be
When we walk into the light across the bar
But I'll know you and you'll know me
Out there beyond the stars

We've seen the secret things revealed by God
And we heard what the angels had to say
Should you go first, or if you follow me
Will you meet me in Heaven someday
Helen M. Brown

11/13/1924 - 6/17/2007

PEKIN ~ Helen M. Brown, 82, of 1520 El Camino Drive, passed away at 8:15 a.m. Sunday, June 17, 2007 at the Pekin Hospital emergency room. She was formerly of 805 Mary Street in Pekin.

Born November 13, 1924 in Pekin to Robert and Minnie (Klockenga) Zimmerman, she married Marvin L. Brown, Sr. on December 21, 1945 in Pekin. He died May 31, 1973 in Pekin. She was also preceded in death by her parents, one brother (Robert I. Zimmerman), and two infant great-grandsons (Brian Rennie and Sawyer Rennie).

Surviving are three sons, Marvin L. (Judy) Brown, Jr. and Larry A. (Kim) Brown, both of Pekin, and Ronald K. (Kathy) Brown of Tremont; eight grandchildren, Jill Brown, Keith (Ashleigh) Brown, Derek Brown, and Sarah Brown, all of Pekin, Michael (Gretchen) Brown of Washington, Amy (Jim) Rennie and Joel (Sarah) Brown, both of Tremont, and Mark (Marsha) Brown of Eureka; and two great-granddaughters, Savannah Brown and Kyleigh Brown.

Helen was a 1942 graduate of Pekin Community High School.

She was a member of Calvary Baptist Church in Pekin, where she was a member of the ladies auxiliary and ladies missionary society. She served as the church secretary for many years.

Her funeral will be at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, June 20, 2007 at Calvary Baptist Church in Pekin. The Rev. Michael McLeod will officiate. Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Preston-Hanley Funeral Home, Pekin Chapel and also 30 minutes before the funeral Wednesday at the church. Burial will be in Glendale Memorial Gardens in Pekin.

Memorial contributions may be made to Calvary Baptist Church, 921 Caroline Street, Pekin, IL 61554.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

God, Grandma, and The Mickey Mouse Lunch Box: Part II

Nearly 20 years ago, I wrote an essay about my Grandma Brown called "God, Grandma, and The Mickey Mouse Lunch Box." She was a church secretary, and our house was right next to the church she worked at. I would wait impatiently for my mom to pack me a lunch, grab my Mickey Mouse lunchbox, and head over to the church every morning to hang out with Grandma. She would always bring her lunch too, and we'd eat together, sitting out on the church steps, talking. My Grandma was quite the storyteller, and sometimes you had to be careful, because she would spin a few yarns along with the true stories . . .it was always hard to distinguish, though, because she always sucked me right in! There was one true story she told me that always stuck with me--the story of Jesus. She told me all about His life, His ministry, and His sacrifice. My Grandma was the truest example of Christ on this earth I have ever known, and I'll always be grateful for her witness to me. She was the kindest, sweetest, gentlest woman, and she showed me someone I would like to become.

Today is a bittersweet Father's Day. My Grandma Brown, my dad's mom, passed away at 8:15 this morning. It's bitter for all the obvious reasons . . .we are saying goodbye to someone we loved with all our hearts, and it's particularly hard on this holiday for my father and his brothers. It's sweet because, as some of you know, she had Alzheimer's Disease. For years now, she has been very depressed, confused, and many times, aggressive and mean. This is not my Grandma, it's the disease which has taken hold of her mind and left her without her memories. It had gotten so bad that last Monday, when my mom and dad went to visit her, she had no idea who they were (which was usual) . . .and when my dad went to kiss her goodbye, she actually got scared. To her, there was a rather large, strange man trying to kiss her, and she didn't understand why! Alzheimer's took her a long time ago, and at last, she has peace.

She also has a husband, a brother, several relatives, and my two children, her great-grandsons waiting for her. She never knew my boys in life, but will recognize them in Heaven, call them by name, and they will come running over to her. I know they will spend many happy hours together, and she will tell them some stories about their mom when she was little. Maybe she'll even tell them about the Mickey Mouse lunch box, and all those hours we shared, eating peanut butter sandwiches and canned peaches on the steps of the church. I'd like to think that she will.

I really miss my Grandma. I've missed her for a long time. She didn't get to be part of my marriage, or either of my son's births. She was too confused and disoriented to remember her own children, let alone understand the addition of new family members. I want her to know peace and happiness, after a very long battle on this earth. I want her to go back to being the woman she really is, the woman I looked up to and wanted to be like. I am sad for me, but I'm happy for her, because finally, she can rest.

Elvis Costello wrote a song for his grandmother, who also suffered from Alzheimer's. The song has always been one of my favorites, and grew to take on new meaning after my Grandma became ill. I listen to it often and think of her, and so today I am posting the lyrics in memory of her.

I love you so much, Grandma Helen. Take care of Sawyer and Brian for me, ok? Tell them how much I love them, and I'll see you all soon.


Is it all in that pretty little head of yours?
What goes on in that place in the dark?
Well I used to know a girl and I could have sworn
that her name was Veronica

Well she used to have a carefree mind of her own
and a delicate look in her eye
These days I'm afraid she's not even sure if her
name is Veronica

Do you suppose that waiting, hands on eyes,
Veronica has gone to hide?
and all the time she laughs at those who shout
her name and steal her clothes.
Veronica, Veronica, Veronica

Did the days drag by? Did the favours wane?
Did he roam down the town all the while?
As you wake from your dream, with a wolf at
the door, reaching out for Veronica

Well it was all of sixty-five years ago
When the world was the street where she lived
And a young man sailed on a ship in the sea
With a picture of Veronica

On the "Empress of India"
And as she closed her eyes upon the world and
picked apart a plate of last week's news
She spoke his name out loud again

Do you suppose that waiting, hands on eyes,
Veronica has gone to hide?
and all the time she laughs at those who shout
her name and steal her clothes.
Veronica, Veronica, Veronica

Veronica sits in her favorite chair
As they come with a regular pill
And they call her a name that they never get right
While telling her that she must sit still

But she always had a carefree mind of her own
with a devilish look in her eye
saying you can call me anything you like
but my name is Veronica

Do you suppose that waiting, hands on eyes,
Veronica has gone to hide?
and all the time she laughs at those who shout
her name and steal her clothes.
Veronica, Veronica, Veronica

Monday, June 11, 2007

My Miracle

Oh, my . . .I feel like last night and on into this evening, I hit an all-time low, even for me. I've dealt with a lot of pain, anxiety, and depression in my life, but this was rock bottom.
I could describe all of my feelings, but I have done so before. It's really nothing new. I just miss my boys.

I ended up in the pool, floating around on my back, watching the stars.

There is a poem that meant a lot to Jim and I when we lost Brian, and then again after Sawyer's death. Here is the part we love:

from "First Lesson"
by Philip Booth
As you float now, where I held you
and let go, remember when fear
cramps your heart what I told you:
lie gently and wide to the light-year
stars, lie back, and the sea will hold you.

As I drifted around in the pool, I thought about this poem. I remembered whispering to Sawyer that he had fought long enough and hard enough, and there was no shame in resting. I told him it was okay to close his eyes and let go, and he did. I told him the words of this poem, from my heart to his.

Now, as I drift in that pool, I imagine it must be much what it was like for my boys when they died. At least that's what I'd like to think. Just them drifting silently, closer and closer, until they were able to reach out and touch those stars . . .and then being picked up by angels and taken to Heaven.

Tonight I have been sad again. I might go swimming and watch the stars, and think of my boys. I just went outside with my dog. I looked up and began to talk to Sawyer and Brian, and as I was telling them how much I loved them, a shooting star streaked across the sky.

Some people might say it was just a coincidence, a scientific phenomena, easy to explain, but to me, it was a miracle . . .my boys, calling back to me from their home in the skies.

And it was enough for me.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Portrait of an INFP

I was excited at how accurate a personality test I took turned out, so I went to find out more about my personality type, which I thought I would share here. Anyone who knows me personally will see HOW MUCH this is me!! :)

Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiving

The Idealist

As an INFP, your primary mode of living is focused internally, where you deal with things according to how you feel about them, or how they fit into your personal value system. Your secondary mode is external, where you take things in primarily via your intuition.

INFPs, more than other iNtuitive Feeling types, are focused on making the world a better place for people. Their primary goal is to find out their meaning in life. What is their purpose? How can they best serve humanity in their lives? They are idealists and perfectionists, who drive themselves hard in their quest for achieving the goals they have identified for themselves

INFPs are highly intuitive about people. They rely heavily on their intuitions to guide them, and use their discoveries to constantly search for value in life. They are on a continuous mission to find the truth and meaning underlying things. Every encounter and every piece of knowledge gained gets sifted through the INFP's value system, and is evaluated to see if it has any potential to help the INFP define or refine their own path in life. The goal at the end of the path is always the same - the INFP is driven to help people and make the world a better place.

Generally thoughtful and considerate, INFPs are good listeners and put people at ease. Although they may be reserved in expressing emotion, they have a very deep well of caring and are genuinely interested in understanding people. This sincerity is sensed by others, making the INFP a valued friend and confidante. An INFP can be quite warm with people he or she knows well.

INFPs do not like conflict, and go to great lengths to avoid it. If they must face it, they will always approach it from the perspective of their feelings. In conflict situations, INFPs place little importance on who is right and who is wrong. They focus on the way that the conflict makes them feel, and indeed don't really care whether or not they're right. They don't want to feel badly. This trait sometimes makes them appear irrational and illogical in conflict situations. On the other hand, INFPs make very good mediators, and are typically good at solving other people's conflicts, because they intuitively understand people's perspectives and feelings, and genuinely want to help them.

INFPs are flexible and laid-back, until one of their values is violated. In the face of their value system being threatened, INFPs can become aggressive defenders, fighting passionately for their cause. When an INFP has adopted a project or job which they're interested in, it usually becomes a "cause" for them. Although they are not detail-oriented individuals, they will cover every possible detail with determination and vigor when working for their "cause".

When it comes to the mundane details of life maintenance, INFPs are typically completely unaware of such things. They might go for long periods without noticing a stain on the carpet, but carefully and meticulously brush a speck of dust off of their project booklet.

INFPs do not like to deal with hard facts and logic. Their focus on their feelings and the Human Condition makes it difficult for them to deal with impersonal judgment. They don't understand or believe in the validity of impersonal judgment, which makes them naturally rather ineffective at using it. Most INFPs will avoid impersonal analysis, although some have developed this ability and are able to be quite logical. Under stress, it's not uncommon for INFPs to mis-use hard logic in the heat of anger, throwing out fact after (often inaccurate) fact in an emotional outburst.

INFPs have very high standards and are perfectionists. Consequently, they are usually hard on themselves, and don't give themselves enough credit. INFPs may have problems working on a project in a group, because their standards are likely to be higher than other members' of the group. In group situations, they may have a "control" problem. The INFP needs to work on balancing their high ideals with the requirements of every day living. Without resolving this conflict, they will never be happy with themselves, and they may become confused and paralyzed about what to do with their lives.

INFPs are usually talented writers. They may be awkward and uncomfortable with expressing themselves verbally, but have a wonderful ability to define and express what they're feeling on paper. INFPs also appear frequently in social service professions, such as counselling or teaching. They are at their best in situations where they're working towards the public good, and in which they don't need to use hard logic.

INFPs who function in their well-developed sides can accomplish great and wonderful things, which they will rarely give themselves credit for. Some of the great, humanistic catalysts in the world have been INFPs.

INFP Relationships
INFPs present a calm, pleasant face to the world. They appear to be tranquil and peaceful to others, with simple desires. In fact, the INFP internally feels his or her life intensely. In the relationship arena, this causes them to have a very deep capacity for love and caring which is not frequently found with such intensity in the other types. The INFP does not devote their intense feelings towards just anyone, and are relatively reserved about expressing their inner-most feelings. They reserve their deepest love and caring for a select few who are closest to them. INFPs are generally laid-back, supportive and nurturing in their close relationships. With Introverted Feeling dominating their personality, they're very sensitive and in-tune with people's feelings, and feel genuine concern and caring for others. Slow to trust others and cautious in the beginning of a relationship, an INFP will be fiercely loyal once they are committed. With their strong inner core of values, they are intense individuals who value depth and authenticity in their relationships, and hold those who understand and accept the INFP's perspectives in especially high regard. INFPs are usually adaptable and congenial, unless one of their ruling principles has been violated, in which case they stop adapting and become staunch defenders of their values. They will be uncharacteristically harsh and rigid in such a situation.

INFP Strengths
Most INFPs will exhibit the following strengths with regards to relationship issues:
Warmly concerned and caring towards others
Sensitive and perceptive about what others are feeling
Loyal and committed - they want lifelong relationships
Deep capacity for love and caring
Driven to meet other's needs
Strive for "win-win" situations
Nurturing, supportive and encouraging
Likely to recognize and appreciate other's need for space
Able to express themselves well
Flexible and diverse

INFP Weaknesses
Most INFPs will exhibit the following weaknesses with regards to relationship issues:
May tend to be shy and reserved
Don't like to have their "space" invaded
Extreme dislike of conflict
Extreme dislike of criticism
Strong need to receive praise and positive affirmation
May react very emotionally to stressful situations
Have difficulty leaving a bad relationship
Have difficulty scolding or punishing others
Tend to be reserved about expressing their feelings
Perfectionistic tendencies may cause them to not give themselves enough credit
Tendency to blame themselves for problems, and hold everything on their own shoulders

INFPs as Parents
"You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth...Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable." -- Kahlil Gibran
INFPs are "natural" parents. They accept and enjoy the parental role, seeing it as the natural extension of their value systems. They make use of the parental role for developing and defining their values further, and consider it their task to pass their values on to their children. They take their role quite seriously. Warm, affirming, and flexible, the INFP generally makes a gentle and easy-going parent in many respects.

INFPs do not like conflict situations, and will keep themselves flexible and diverse to promote a positive, conflict-free environment in their home. The INFP is not naturally prone to dole out punishment or discipline, and so is likely to adapt to their mate's disciplinary policy, or to rely on their mates to administer discipline with the children. In the absence of a mating parent, the INFP will need to make a conscious effort of creating a structure for their children to live within.
Although the INFP dislikes punishing others, they hold strong values and will not tolerate the violation of a strongly-held belief. If they feel that their child has truly committed a wrong, the INFP parent will not have a problem administering discipline. They will directly confront the child, stubbornly digging in their heels and demanding recourse.

The INFP parent is likely to value their children as individuals, and to give them room for growth. They will let the children have their own voice and place in the family.

Extremely loving and devoted parents, INFPs will fiercely protect and support their children. If there is an issue involving "taking sides", you can bet the INFP will always be loyal to their children.

INFPs are usually remembered by their children as loving, patient, devoted, and flexible parents.

INFPs as Friends
INFPs are warm and caring individuals who highly value authenticity and depth in their personal relationships. They are usually quite perceptive about other people's feelings and motives, and are consequently able to get along with all sorts of different people. However, the INFP will keep their true selves reserved from others except for a select few, with whom they will form close and lasting friendships. With their high ideals, they are likely to be drawn to other iNtuitive Feelers for their closer friendships.

With their strong need for harmony and dislike of conflict, INFPs may feel threatened by people with strong Judging and Thinking preferences. Although they're likely to be able to work well professionally with such individuals, they may have difficulty accepting or appreciating them on a personal level. They generally feel a kinship and affinity with other Feeling types.

INFPs will be valued by their confidantes as genuine, altruistic, deep, caring, original individuals.

Possible Career Paths for the INFP:
Counselors / Social Workers
Teachers / Professors
Clergy / Religious Workers

Sunday, June 03, 2007


A friend of my husband's from work, Elizabeth Danner, is pregnant for the first time and expecting a little girl. She didn't think she would ever be able to conceive, due to ovarian problems, and was very, very happy to find that she was pregnant.

Today, my husband found out she was taken to the hospital and has had placental abruption. At this time, we do not know the degree of the tear, or how severe it is. However, any time there is placental abruption, both fetal and maternal death are a risk, as well as fetal distress, brain damage, and lack of nutrition.

She is only 20 weeks along and has been put on complete bedrest. She also doesn't have great insurance, so the financial strain of not working and having to be monitored all the time will be very hard. Those of you who have had babies in the NICU know that the cost is phenomenal, so let's hope and pray that this baby can make it full term with no health issues!

Please pray for Elizabeth! We want her little girl to be born healthy and for both of them to survive this!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

The Brave Little Soul
by John Alessi

Not too long ago in Heaven there was a little soul who took wonder in observing the world. He especially enjoyed the love he saw there and often expressed this joy with God. One day however the little soul was sad, for on this day he saw suffering in the world. He approached God and sadly asked, "Why do bad things happen; why is there suffering in the world?"

God paused for a moment and replied, "Little soul, do not be sad, for the suffering you see, unlocks the love in people's hearts." The little soul was confused. "What do you mean," he asked." God replied, "Have you not noticed the goodness and love that is the offspring of that suffering? Look at how people come together, drop their differences and show their love and compassion for those who suffer. All their other motivations disappear and they become motivated by love alone."

The little soul began to understand and listened attentively as God continued, "The suffering soul unlocks the love in people's hearts much like the sun and the rain unlock the flower within the seed. I created everyone with endless love in their heart, but unfortunately most people keep it locked up and hardly share it with anyone. They are afraid to let their love shine freely, because they are afraid of being hurt. But a suffering soul unlocks that love. I tell you this - it is the greatest miracle of all. Many souls have bravely chosen to go into the world and suffer - to unlock this love – to create this miracle - for the good of all humanity."

Just then the little soul got a wonderful idea and could hardly contain himself. With his wings fluttering, bouncing up and down, the little soul excitedly replied, "I am brave; let me go! I would like to go into the world and suffer so that I can unlock the goodness and love in people's hearts! I want to create that miracle!"

God smiled and said, "You are a brave soul I know, and thus I will grant your request. But even though you are very brave you will not be able to do this alone. I have known since the beginning of time that you would ask for this and so I have carefully selected many souls to care for you on your journey. Those souls will help you create your miracle; however they will also share in your suffering. Two of these souls are most special and will care for you, help you and suffer along with you, far beyond the others. They have already chosen a name for you."

God and the brave little soul shared a smile, and then embraced. In parting, God said, "Do not forget little soul that I will be with you always. Although you have agreed to bear the pain, you will do so through my strength. And if the time should come when you feel that you have suffered enough, just say the word, think the thought, and I will bring you home."

Thus at that moment the brave little soul was born into the world, and through his suffering and God's strength, he unlocked the goodness and love in people's hearts. For so many people dropped their differences and came together to show their love. Priorities became properly aligned. People gave from their hearts. Those that were always too busy found time. Many began new spiritual journeys – some regained lost faith – many came back to God. Parents hugged their children tighter. Friends and family grew closer. Old friends got together and new friendships were made. Distant family reunited, and every family spent more time together. Everyone prayed. Peace and love reigned. Lives changed forever. It was good. The world was a better place. The miracle had happened. God was pleased.
The Butterfly Child
by Ila Rae White

(edited by Paula Thompson)

East of the rising sun, beyond a small mountain village, grows a rare bewitched lilac bush. Only once every fifty years does it produce its deep purple blossoms. These blossoms attract beautiful, enchanted butterflies.
Now it happened that there lived in the nearby village a couple who, as yet, had no children of their own. Once crisp morning when the snow crunched with every step, the husband came home early from searching in the forest for medicinal herbs. Tucked under his great coat was a butterfly cocoon of a size and color he had never seen.
"I've brought you a present," he said to his wife. "I found this on a bush, in a part of the forest that I'd never searched before."

"How beautiful," said the wife, "and so unusual. With some tender care, the butterfly inside may live. I'll take it to the warmest corner of the house." So she put the cocoon in a doll's basket and set it near the stone fireplace where the coals glowed day and night.

Early the next morning, when she went to make breakfast, she gave a loud cry. There in the basket, where she'd put the cocoon, lay a baby girl with lilac eyes and hair like liquid gold. She was wrapped in a covering as soft and weightless as spun silk.

The husband cam running when he heard his wife cry out, and he gasped when he say the baby.

"It's a dryad!" the wife exclaimed. "Dryads remain in their cocoon on bewitched lilac bushes until someone with a great emptiness finds one. Then the dryad becomes a child. But if that child ever again touches the bewitched bush, it will change into a butterfly forever. I heard of this when I was a child, but thought it was only a story."

The husband thought for a moment, then said, "This dryad will remain a girl, for we'll never allow her into the forest."

"Her name will be Idalia," the wife said, "for truly she came from a butterfly."

The wife became a homekeeper though she still left some blooming bushes uncovered for the butterflies. The husband became a farmer, though he still roamed the countryside for medicinal plants. He told the villagers that the herbs that grew in the corners of their fields were useful, but they shook their heads and didn't believe him.

Idalia grew from a baby to a child, too big for her cradle. She grew from a child to a young girl. She was kind and gentle, and had a loving nature. She picked wild flowers for her mother and learned of the healing plants from her father. Though she begged him with longing, he never took her into the forest.

"Great danger waits for you there," he told her. " You must not go into the forest."

One bone-chilling day, when Idalia had been a girl through sixteen winters, her mother was cooking a big pot of lentil soup over the fire. As she swung the bubbling soup out from the hearth, she suddenly lost her footing. With a great shriek, she fell into the blazing fire, and though her husband and Idalia pulled her out instantly, she was horribly burned.

Her husband carried her to their bed while Idalia gathered the salves and lotions her father had made. Soon the pots and jars were empty, and the husband sent Idalia to the people of the village for some of the medicinal plants he'd seen growing in their fields.

She ran to the nearest neighbor and pleaded for some of the herbs.

"Those weeds?" said the neighbor. "We fed them to the goats."

Idalia ran from farm to farm, crying out "Please, some herbs for my mother's terrible burn."

"We turn them with the plow," one said.

"They made good thatch for the roof," said another.

Idalia knew her mother would surely die without more salve, but the fields were empty. She would have to go into the forest that had been forbidden her.

Her heart pounded and her breath came in quick gasps as she ran deeper and deeper into the woods. Finally she found the plants she sought, but there in the midst of them was a bush she did not know. Because it grew among the medicinal herbs, she thought it might have healing powers. She pulled off some leaves and bundled them with those she had already gathered.

When she returned, she didn't tell her father where she had found the herbs. He quickly made a poultice to heal his wife's burns and soothe her terrible pain.

Idalia began to feel strangely tired. She lay on her bed, intending to rest only a little while, and fell into a mysterious sleep.

When morning came, the wife woke to find the husband asleep at her side. She smiled at him and gently touched his hand. "you and Idalia saved me," she whispered. "Where is she?"

"Idalia," the husband called, but there was no answer. He searched the small house. When he came to her bedroom and opened the door, he found a beautiful butterfly against the window. Its lilac wings were outlined and veined with the color of liquid gold. Then he knew where the herbs had been gathered. Slowly he opened the window and set the butterfly free.

He returned to the bedroom where his wife lay resting. "She's gone," he said softly. There was a great sadness in his voice. "The herbs she brought for you came from the forest."

All that day the wife cried into her pillow, and tears filled the husband's eyes as he worked their fields. They were childless again, but where before there had been great emptiness, now there was a memory of laughter and love.

The wife remains a homekeeper, and she still leaves some blooming bushes uncovered for the butterflies. The husband remains a farmer, and he still roams the countryside to find medicinal plants. And each winter, when the world is covered with snow and there isn't a flower to be found, a beautiful lilac butterfly flutters at the windows of the small cabin where once lived a girl named Idalia.