September 14, 2012

Sometimes There Are No Words

July 19, 2012

Beginning of a Journey

  I ask you to pray with me over the next few weeks. 
It won't be long before I head out with a group from my church to Northwest Haiti to do some mission work with Northwest Haiti Christian Mission and Help Heal Haiti

I'm going to be honest, I've been so busy this summer I haven't been able to think much about it, but as I started preparing more this week, I realized I'm not as excited as I thought I'd be.

I'm scared

My mind can't help but think of all the worst-case scenarios of what could happen. My perfectionist personality wants to be prepared for every possible scenario. But I don't think I could ever prepare myself for all I will encounter and see. 
And that's scary. 
I know it will be a culture shock to my cushy lifestyle, and truthfully

I'm afraid my heart can't handle all I'm about to 
see and feel.

But as I'm wrapped up in all my own self-centered feelings, I come across these pictures this morning

I can't wait to hug on, play with, pray over & love the sweet faces I'll encounter

 I can't wait to learn about what I lack and they behold from faces like this

When I look at faces like these it becomes more real.
It becomes more exciting. 
All those scary things that I fear become much smaller, and the God I love and serve, and who is the source of all of our hope appears much, much bigger.

"For the Lord your God is living among you. 
He is a mighty Savior. 
He will take delight in you with gladness. 
With his love, he will calm all your fears. 
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs." 
Zephaniah 3:17

Hanging out with Casey today

June 19, 2012

What we've been eating: Homemade Chick-Fil-A Chicken

We don't do much frying for our meals, but when I saw this recipe I HAD to try it. I pinned it as fast as I could. Chick-Fil-A is my favorite place to eat out. I've even told the hubs I would be content with anniversary/birthday/special dinners here :)
When I lived in Kansas City, MO, for a while the only CFA was 45 minutes away in Kansas. My fellow southern friend Kim & I would drive the 45 min about once a week or so to get some. We're devoted :) hehe

My husband had to help with this one, because I don't really do grease in the kitchen. I don't even like to make bacon. It all pops on you, and it hurts! So, since I'm a baby about it, he steps up and does the frying portion for me. Points for the hubs!

Ingredients Needed:
Cooking Oil (Chick-Fil-A uses peanut oil, but I used canola)
1 Egg
1 Cup of Milk
1 Cup of Flour
2 1/2 Tablespoons of Powdered Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Pepper
I Tablespoon of Salt
2 Skinless Boneless Chicken Breast, cut in strips or cubed

I cut the chicken into cubes so it would cook faster, then soaked the pieces in the egg and milk mixture.
Next, I mixed together all the dry ingredients while the chicken sat. When I am dredging something, I like to put my dry batter into a pie plate. It has edges to keep the flour from spilling out, and I like that
it is flat & shallow, which is great for big pieces of whatever you are working with.
After I mixed that together, I dipped the chicken into the flour mixture. I like to double dip so I go from egg/milk to flour, back to egg/milk and back to flour. THEN I put it in the oil.
We don't have a thermometer that reaches 375 degrees, so we checked the oil by putting a few drops of water in the oil. When it sizzles, we know it's hot enough.
On the left side, are the pieces that have been flipped and are almost done, and on the right are the new ones. That way we could better keep track of how long each needed to cook, and you aren't burning or under cooking any pieces.

When the pieces come out of the oil, drain them as best as possible, and then place them on a plate with paper towels (or brown paper bags) underneath to soak up any extra grease.

After you are finished, your fingers will probably look something like this
I don't care what tips are out there, I always end up with hands that look like this when I batter something. I think it's a right of passage for frying :)
And the verdict? They are DELICIOUS! Chick-Fil-A replica? NO. But they are still so tasty. We will definitely make them again. Maybe next time I will splurge for the peanut oil. Maybe that's the difference. I'll keep you updated!

June 14, 2012


I just returned home from meeting a couple girlfriends for coffee. It was just what my soul needed. Life's not been easy lately, and I have been longing for time to just chat, vent, and sort through life- all with women who seek God's voice in their lives daily. I don't know about you, but I need that in my life. When I can't look outside myself and the things going on in my life, it's good to have another perspective. Someone to help bring you back to the truth in God's word and voice. 

When we were talking I mentioned that I was just worn. tired. done worrying and thinking about it all the time. done. discouraged. 

I tend to go into things with a Godly perspective, seeking his voice and direction. And somewhere along the way, I often feel like I'm not getting answers or peace. At least as soon as I want it. Then I get discouraged, worn down, the whole list above.

I go from being in a place of praying without ceasing, knowing that looking to Him is the only way, expectant of what He is going to do and say. 
To a place of I don't know what to pray anymore. I don't know what else to tell you God that I already haven't. You know my heart, I'm out of words. 

My prayers go from passionate, ongoing conversation, listening to Him, telling Him my heart; to, "Hey God. I could pray for the same thing I've been looking for your voice and peace in, but I don't hear you telling me anything, know my heart. You know what I am torn with. Just help okay? Amen." 

But then something small happened. A tiny little glimmer of hope. The kind of hope that doesn't change anything about my situation, but the kind that lifts my heart a little. The kind of hope that helps me see things from a little bit of a different perspective. Hope that helps me not to be so discouraged, worn, and tired. So I feel like there may be an approaching light at the end of the tunnel. 

A song. 
For some reason I switched the radio to the Jesus station. I don't like listening to the Jesus station. Don't get me wrong, I love Jesus more than anything, but the station- not so much. A song came on that I knew from a long time ago, so I started to sing along. 

But before too long, I couldn't sing. My voice was wavering, tears began to fill my eyes. God was speaking to my heart straight through the words of that old song on the annoying radio station. 

"Weary brother, broken daughter, widowed lover you're not alone. 
If you're tired and scared of the madness around you
If you can't find the strength to carry on...

When you call on Jesus, all things are possible...
when you call on Jesus, mountains are gonna fall 
'cause He'll move heaven and earth to come rescue you..."

(I was in a puddle of tears by now)

but it got better...

"When your heart is broken, and you feel discouraged, 
you can just remember that He said, He'll be there."

That was me. weary. broken. discouraged. 

All those things I had just been talking about at the coffee shop. 

I guess I have just been too stubborn, or closed off from Jesus' voice that he had to use that old song on the annoying station to get my attention. 

I'm here Andrea. Just like I've always been. 
Even when you don't think you can feel me or hear me- I'm here. 

I needed that reminder. It came at the perfect time. 

I didn't get an earth shattering word from God. I didn't get all my answers. I didn't really need that. It was just enough to be reminded that He's here, walking this road with me. Feeling my pain and hurt, discouragement and weariness. 

It's good enough for me to know that even when life...happens, and it's not going to be perfect,
that at the very least He's going to walk through it with me every step of the way. Because He loves me. 

And that's true for you too. 

"You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy." Mark 1:11

"I will never fail you. I will never abandon you." Hebrews 13:5

"'For I know the plans I have for you. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,' says the Lord." Jeremiah 29:11-14

That's all I needed to help me get through my day. 

It was just enough

He is just enough


April 14, 2012

Ballard Pinterest Sweepstakes!

I just had to share this sweepstakes from one of my favorite stores...Ballard Designs

Click on the picture to get the full details & entry form, but all you have to do is pin some of their awesome stuff, then fill out the sweepstakes entry form for a chance to win $1,000 in Ballard merch! 
Sounds good to me! 
You can check out some of the things I pinned that I love from Ballard HERE.

March 17, 2012

What does help?

A reader recently responded to my At Least post and asked, okay what does help when someone loses a child? What can I do? 
I've had quite a few people ask me this over the last few years since losing Isaac, so I thought I'd share a few practical things that might bless someone going through this. 

1. Everyone is different, everyone is going to grieve differently too
As soon as Isaac passed, I was soon in search for the right way to grieve. So many people told us that traumatic events like this can tear marriages apart. I was so afraid of that, and knew I had to start "getting better" right away. We were in counseling within weeks of losing him. I wanted someone to say, "do this and things will be better." "Don't do this or you'll mess up your marriage and future children forever." 
There is no formula. 
In fact, looking back on things, I might have waited to see a counselor. I hadn't given myself enough time to just grieve. I was too quick to try to fix things. I wanted to get back to normal. I wanted to stop being sad all the time. I wanted to be able to not fall apart. I wanted to be able to drive around town and not be sad when we drove past his doctor's office, or the funeral home where we dressed him one last time. I wanted to be able to drive past the little league fields and not cry thinking of the life he missed out on. 
But I probably needed that. 
 Sure, after plenty of time you're able to get past those things, but I needed that time to be a mess and not feel like I had to hide it. 

2. Remember Important Dates
 Isaac passed when he was 7.5 months old. For almost the next year I received calls, texts and cards on the 20th (the day he went to heaven) and 30th (his birthday) of each month.  
They meant the world to me. 
 If you think about it, we recognize every month of a child's life until they are almost 2. I was always aware of his "month" birthday, "My baby would have been 9 months old today." "My baby would have been 10 months old today." Especially when someone loses an infant, you don't just remember their birthday each year, you remember their birthday every month

It meant so much to me to see that while it seemed like the world had gone on living... forgetting, that there were people in my life who loved me and hadn't forgotten
It made my heart smile that his memory didn't leave people's minds. It made me feel comforted to know that I wasn't alone. People remembered. And they realized the fact that we lived this loss every moment of every day. 

3. It Takes TIME
Just because weeks, months or even years have passed we still... cry...find it hard to function some days...miss...remember...hurt.  
Give them that time. 
I remember being embarrassed when I would cry in public months after he was gone. 
I feel bad that to this day I still haven't been able to attend some family functions on holidays because it's just too hard. Give grace, be understanding, don't ever make someone feel like they should be "all better already". 

4. Offer to Help
 When planning his funeral, we had so many people offer to take care of certain things to help ease our stress, and to ensure that our baby had a special funeral. 
My mother's friend framed pictures, and made art to be displayed. Another of her friends went to the florist and took care of orders that weren't correct and got them fixed. My sister and dear friends made a scrapbook/sign in book that people could enjoy at the visitation and funeral. My parent's church friends made sure there were snacks at the visitation and food following the funeral. 
Neighbors, family and friends stocked the house not only with meals and snacks, but with toilet paper, and disposable dishes so we didn't have to clean up, or go to the store.
We had a family friend offer to do our taxes that year with just weeks to tax day. We had anonymous donors who paid certain bills every month for a while. Someone even sent us a sizable gift asking us to spend it on a weekend away, just the two of us, time to abide, pray and be together. 
And I can't even count the number of people praying for us and encouraging us daily.
Blown. away.

5. Offer to be an Advocate
Depending on your relationship to the person, there's are some logistics you can help grieving parents take care of. With Isaac's illness, there were numerous doctor visits and hospital stays. That also meant there were mountains of bills and insurance EOB's. In fact, we still get insurance EOB's and the occasional bill and it has been two years! It broke my heart every time I had to call the hospital or insurance company to ask about charges or payments. 

Each time I had to talk about my baby in the past tense. 
Each time I had to recall his birthday, and important information. 
Each time I had to tell them the date he passed. 
Each time was excruciating

If you are a close friend or family member, offer to take care of some of those calls. Many times it's a simple answer on the other end of the call, "Don't worry about paying that bill for $125,000 just yet; we're still waiting to hear back from the insurance company." Oh good, I'm glad I went through all of that for nothing because I was just about to write a check for the full amount. HA!

6. Make a commitment to them somehow
Commit over the next 6 months, or year that you will be there for the family somehow. A week following the death, people are overwhelmed with the love and support from others. Take it a step further, and offer the same love and support when it seems like everyone else has gone back to "normal life". 

Offer child care for date nights or time for the parent to just be alone in the other room. Offer to clean or make a meal once a month. Offer to take care of anything around the house or yard. Those things need to be done, but seem so trivial when you've been through something so tragic. 
Commit to send notes or make calls once a week or once a month.
I thank God everyday for such good friends who still to this day let me know they are there for me, and remember me, my family, and my Isaac.
It was more than a year after Isaac passed when I got a note from one of my dearest friends who told me they hadn't forgotten, and they were committing to pray for me everyday at 3:00. Imagine my peace and comfort when I looked at the clock during the 3:00 hour knowing I was being prayed for.

Isaac has been gone for 2 years this month, and just this week I got an email from a sweet friend who told me they were just looking at a picture of my sweet Isaac and just wanted to let me know they still think about us all the time and lift us up in prayer. 

I still go to friends and family's houses and see my baby's beautiful face on their refrigerators. It takes my breath away, and makes me smile. 

If you can do nothing else, pray and offer to be a listening ear. Don't feel like you have to say anything, fix anything or do anything! Just sit, listen, and let them tell you how they are really doing. 

I don't say all these things to receive recognition myself, or to make anyone feel guilty if they've never thought of these things while helping a friend through grief. 

It has been my prayer that the attention be on Jesus, not myself. 

It has been my prayer that Jesus can use me somehow through this horrific event in my life. 

It is my prayer that you will be able to use what I've felt, and noticed, and learned and be able to bless someone else who may be going through a similar loss. 

Feel free to leave a comment of something you have found comfort in during your time of grief


January 14, 2012

At Least...

The hubs and I have recently joined a care group for parents who have lost their children. God truly had his hand on this whole situation. When we first lost Isaac, I had no desire to be a part of a group like this. I just wanted to get back to "normal", not sit around in a group crying "woe is me". 

Over the last year though, I've been praying for a specific group that could help me on my road of healing. I even thought about starting one myself, but worries, doubts, and an already crazy schedule kept me from moving forward. 

A few months ago, one of the ladies from our church called to tell me about a new group that was starting, and wanted to give my information to the couple who was starting it. 
So we went. And I dragged my husband along. He didn't really want to go, but wanted to go to support me since this was something I wanted to do (isn't he so nice?) :) 
As we drove home that night, we were able to talk about the experience. 
He loved it. 
His exact words were, "We didn't solve anything, but it was just great to be able to sit and talk to people who knew exactly how we felt, and knew exactly what we have been through." Thank you Lord.
I felt the same way, and it was wonderful. I can't describe it any other way. Our group is made of parents from different ages and stages of life, but we share something very similar, and while we wish we didn't share that reason to be there, we are there longing for healing. 

This last week, we had a guest speaker who is a berevement counselor at one of the hospitals in town. She shared something that really spoke to me. Something that I have done a million times, and something I wished more people knew, so I decided to share it with you.

I've had a number of people ask me for advice on how to help a hurting friend who has lost a child. There are certain things I love to share that I found so helpful, but this is one I had never thought of before. They are the words: At least

When someone around us goes through a trial, we want to do something, anything to help. The problem is, we don't always know what to say. We try to make things better, and help them look at the positive in a world that is so filled with the negative. Many times these thoughts leave our lips:

At least they are in a better place
At least they had a full life
At least you had 25 wonderful years with them
At least they went peacfully in their sleep
At least they were young and didn't know what was going on
At least you didn't meet your baby, that would have made it much harder
At least you can have more children

The truth is, that when you are hurting the type of hurt that few will ever understand, it doesn't matter what positive things are said, nothing will make it better. 
And sometimes those things that are said to make us feel better, make us feel worse. (Believe me, I could make a list)

I've done it before myself. Even since we've lost Isaac! It is hard to know what to say, but we want to say something

I've even had these "at least" thoughts myself when I compare myself to others who've lost children. 
But the truth is, pain is pain, and there is no "at least" that lightens the situation. 

When she mentioned this, my mind was flooded with all the times I think I've said, "at least", but also all the times it was said to me, and I wanted to punch people in the face. 

So now, when others ask my opinion from my personal experience, I might include this bit of advice that I have decided to follow myself: At the very least, don't say "At least".