The Blaines

The Blaines
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Monday, May 9, 2016

Mother's Day Dirt

Mother's Day...

So not only did I get to celebrate my birthday this weekend, but also Mother's was the perfect weekend!  After a week of rain, the sun started to shine and Richard was off to enjoy the whole thing with me. I got to keep the kids outside all weekend to run off all that energy they had built up sitting inside for a week!  I was spoiled with yummy meals and deserts and beautiful kid decorations.  I think SG was more excited for my birthday then me!  I got to enjoy snuggles with my drooly nephew and watch Richard try to help Noah ride a two wheel bike.  My kids got exhausted and slept in!  I got to be back in my Sunday School class after a few weeks of being away and then serve my church in nursery.  We took off to Richard's mom's house and enjoyed more beautiful weather and family time.  It was a picture perfect weekend if you could envision one.
 All weekend I watched those three kids that call me mom play with one another and holler from time to time, and in the back of my head, I kept thinking, "where would Ellie fit into that?"  I watched monkey get passed between SG and Lulah, and wondered "would Ellie still be carrying monkey around or would she share"....but I kept on pushing those thoughts back into the dark where it came from.  I notice the space between Noah and SG and imagine Ellie's head there..."would she be taller than Noah?" Again I shake it off and just enjoy the sunshine.  

After a while, you can't push it, shake it, or hide it anymore.  The kids are all in bed and there's nothing else to fill your day with and you are faced head on with the reality of the day/weekend.  The reality that there are pictures of 4 kids on my wall...but only 3 in my house.  Its my day to celebrate being a mommy and I cannot hug one of that hurts....and the hurt exploded into a million tears.

I imagine I'm not the only one who had that experience yesterday. I'm not the only woman who smiled all day, but once the sun set, couldn't find her smile anywhere anymore.  

Women who long to be mother's, friends with no children, whose hearts must ache on this day.  Mother's who have lost their children, young and old.  I think of friends who have lost babies in the womb, who have had to explain why they aren't pregnant anymore, and the pain that must cause.  Those whose mother's are no longer here to celebrate with.  I imagine there were lots of "holes" in hearts yesterday that cannot be filled. 

This is where you dig deep. I can't say I went to bed with a sweet and happy spirit last night.  I went to bed with an exhausted soul, who still has complete trust and hope in the future God has planned for me and the promise of eternity in heaven.  I went to bed physically tried from a fun weekend, blessed with an awesome family and a longing in my heart for my Ellie.  I couldn't take my eyes of her picture last night, she's so stinking cute and I imagine what a duo she and SG would be, probably driving me even more crazy then I am right now, and putting their Daddy into a panic because of how beautiful they are!  

In times like this, my only option is to rely on the promises God has given, because every part of my flesh hurts, and relying on my own thinking is getting me no where.

"I believe I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be strong, and may your heart be stout; wait on the Lord." Psalm 27:13-14

"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities nor powers, neither things present nor things to come, neither height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:37-39

"We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose" Romans 8:28

"Let your lives be without love of money, and be content with the things you have. For He has said: 'I will never leave you, nor forsake you.'" Hebrews 13:5

I know I'm not alone, I know that He walks with me and often provides others in my path to help me get to where I need to be. I have to continue to trust that all this my family is going through, all that other families are facing, is producing in us, Hope. 

"Not only that, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us." Romans 5:3-5

"Just remember, every flower that ever bloomed had to go through a whole lot of dirt to get there!" - Barbara Johnson

So this week as I cling to God's word, and put my priorities on Him, I pray for all the others out there who are going through "the dirt".  I pray that they remember God has promised us a future, an eternal life with Him...He just never promised we wouldn't get dirty....or go a little crazy!

Prayers, Praise and Pink

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Ellie's Big Give 2016

When I set out to plan Ellie's Big Give this year, I wanted to go local, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do, but I really wanted to find organizations that glorified God and helped others.  When mom suggested the Pregnancy Centers of Central VA, I knew I had found one!  Helping out an organization that is all about saving the lives of unborn babies and supporting moms with the love of Jesus!  Then while talking in Sunday School one morning with our class, we starting talking about giving to the homeless, and what we could provide them, I joked about making those bags for us to just hand out at Ellie's party too.  I mean we have a big family and all, but I knew there had to be a place that could hand out more than just my Blaine/Renninger crew.  And as God would have it, Richard's mom's church had started a mission in downtown Fredericksburg, I contacted them and they gladly accepted what I wanted to do!

I put it out there that I wanted to collect 50 packages of diapers and have enough stuff to make 100 blessing bags, big numbers, but hey Shine Bright or go home!  Packages starting pouring in from all over! With the sales of our tshirts alone, we raised $580 to buy supplies, people were giving my family members money to help out, it was just amazing to watch God work in the people around us!

The week before Ellie's party, snow storm Jonas blew in, dumping over 2 feet of snow in our town and even more in the areas around us, I just smiled...there's always snow on Ellie's birthday!  This lovely blizzard left me plenty of time to decorate and let my imagination run wild with all my Tinker Bell ideas.

As prepared as I was decoration wise, organizer Carly couldn't quite wrap her brain around how in the world to pack all these bags in an organized manner....I had the man power, just not the brain power! Thank goodness my peoples love me and they put up with all my ideas, and listen when I ramble, and sometimes just tell me what to do. I don't know what I'd do without them!

 (can you tell I got a selfie stick just for the occasion??)

Once we got it all figured out...for the most part, they went to work!

 They loaded up 58 backpacks and then moved on to just filling up ziploc bags with supplies! They were amazing and patient when I couldn't think (math is not my strong area!) And reminded me that God provided all this stuff, so we would figure out a way to get it to the people who needed it!

We also ended up making 30 onesies to donate to the Pregnancy Center as well!

The kids had a blast, even the tiniest of them!

Tinker Bell giggled on top of Ellie's cake and then we lit the night sky for our sweet girl!

It was such a touching evening, and I love what God moved us to do this year!  I loved all the work, all the confusion (yes I'll admit it), all the help and all the encouragement.

(good thing I got that selfie stick...that's a lot of people in my little kitchen!)

With all the extra money that was donated, I was able to order enough back packs and a few other things for us to make 122 blessing bags! As I sat there this weekend surrounded by the rest of ziplocs and socks and deodorant and back packs I was overwhelmed with gratitude.  If Ellie hadn't of entered this world, hadn't of gotten cancer, hadn't of died....none of this could have possibly happened.  If my heart didn't have this massive hole in it, my heart may not have had the passion for helping others. If Ellie's dimples hadn't wrapped so many around her fingers, I wouldn't have the ability to do this much, in Jesus name for others.  All because of cancer, all because God choose to answer my prayer in a different way, all because He loves me (and you too) my life is better.  Yup, crazy lady just said my life is better.  I have gotten to experience the most amazing unconditional love and blessings from so many. I have been given opportunities that have changed me.  I have been able to grow in ways that I don't know if I would have, without the loss of Ellie.
These past two years when we did things, be it walks, or speeches or donations, I have tended to put the memory of Ellie first. If it goes well, her name is heard more, people remember her more, I get to talk about her more.  As I mature in my grief journey (I guess that's what you call it) I've come to a clear realization that its not about Ellie....I've said that before, but I think its finally in my heart...its about Jesus.  If I raise a ton of money, it doesn't bring Ellie back, it gets us recognition, but that will be gone the next day, I hit that realization this past fall, when Princess Strong raised over $10,000 for CureSeach, I was so excited...but it was like I wanted to "win" to get Ellie's name there....the next day, it was over and I felt empty again.  I want my girl to be remembered always, but as we go into the upcoming walk season, I want my Jesus to be glorified more!

Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. Colossians 3:16-17

Thank you again, for being with me on this crazy journey of life.
Prayers, Praise and Pink

Loaded down van with 60 packages of diapers and 30 onesies....amazing!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Hello my name is....procrastination

This upcoming week, is a huge week of St. Jude events for us, one in DC and one in Fredericksburg. Both events are working hard to raise money for Childhood Cancer Research, and as I try to prepare for both events, my mind keeps wandering back to my girl.

Three years ago, I starting blogging again to keep myself sane in a cramped PICU room. Three years ago, cancer become our reality. Three years ago, I learned that I can endure anything with the strength that Jesus gives me. Three years ago, I learned the power of strangers. Three years ago, I was changed.

I look around the house now...Noah doing a school project, SG pretending to take a nap, and Lulah walking around looking for more food and dancing, and it just seems like regular life. You look on the walls you see pictures of four amazing children, on the table you see textbooks of Richard's and of course toys and dog hair everywhere. Again, it looks and actually often feels pretty normal, this is our life and I am content.

But there are these moments...where I think I can feel the hole in my heart, where you cry so hard and when you take a breath, if feels like your stomach touches your back. Where you think....what in the world is going on in my did I get do I keep do I keep it together today for the sake of my kids....and once you get through that moment, you realize the answer to every one of those questions is "God".

Three years ago, I knew St. Jude existed....I think. I mean I'm sure I saw them on TV or heard a radioathon or something. I knew cancer existed, but mostly in older people. I knew kids got sick, but surely there were cures or at least is wasn't my problem. However it quickly became my problem, and its a huge problem for a lot of other families out there. There aren't cures for so many of these kids, however it doesn't really seem to be a priority for anyone, except those families affected by pediatric cancer. Three years ago, I never imagined I would be sharing anything about my family with other people, never imagined God would use my crazy life to try to help other families and to help raise funds for a charity. But there I go, thinking again.

I'm procrastinating two different speeches...well story sharing experiences. I know what I want to say, but sometimes its so hard to put it all in one little speech because I want to share everything about my Ellie, I want to tell every one what the Lord has done and provided and how he has carried us through. I know people aren't concerned with my every little detail, but when I cut things out, I feel like I'm taking away from her or Him. I know it will all come together....I'm just a little distracted by the many memories of this time in our lives.

I mentioned two St. Jude events this week...both brand new to me...and new makes me so nervous! The first is the Gourmet Gala in Washington DC. When this opportunity was first presented to me and I started reading about the 500 people that would be there, Noah told me I just had to do it, he would hold my hand the whole time! I decided to leave it in God's hands, and said only if Richard will come with me, thinking he wouldn't really want to go...he said yes! So we head to DC, Noah will not be there to hold my hand, but he says he will still be proud of me! The second event is a St. Jude Teen Gala in Fredericksburg. Richard and I will once again be getting dressed up and heading to this event, headed up by a group of teenagers with a passion! I get the honor of speaking to them as well, an age group I have never presented to before, but I am excited about! These teens have a goal of $10,000, and are currently only $1400 away from their goal! If you'd like to make a donation or you have a teen that would like to attend, you can visit their event page here for more information. Thanks to a generous donation, any teen can attend for free, if they raise $100 they will be entered into raffles.

Now that I've wasted enough time and I need to start dinner...SG I think is really asleep now, and Lulah hasn't found any food!

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea" Psalm 46:1-2

"I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken." Psalm 16:8

Giving it all to God in this upcoming week
Prayers, Praise and Pink

Monday, January 18, 2016

Giving Big

Ellie's Birthday is fast approaching and we are once again celebrating her by giving back to the community!

The first organization we are supporting is The Pregnancy Centers of Central Virginia by donating newborn diapers, which they provide to new moms. Our goal is 50 packages of newborn diapers.

"The Pregnancy Center is a Christian non-profit organization focused on the needs of women in the Charlottesville, Albemarle, Culpeper, Orange, Greene, Madison, Buckingham, Louisa, Fluvanna and Rappahannock, Virginia Communities. We offer free and confidential pregnancy testing, pregnancy options counseling, limited medical services including ultrasounds, and medically-accurate information on abortion, abortion alternatives, abortion procedures, adoption and parenting in a safe and private environment."

The second organization we are supporting is Courageous Faith Fredericksburg, which is a mission that is currently targeting families that live in motels in the Fredericksburg area and sharing the love of Jesus with them. They often hand out hygiene supplies and food to families in need. As we celebrate Ellie's birthday our family will be putting together blessing bags for them to hand out. My goal is 100 bags, 60 adult bags and 40 kid bags. There is an online registry with the supplies listed that we are requesting  Things have come in from all over and we have finally organized it all and we are getting very excited!

And in a crazy last minute I created a t-shirt to help raise money for any supplies we didn't receive.  The first round of t-shirts raised $580 in 3 days!  Princess Strong people just continue to blow my mind and make me smile!  Due to the quick turn around for the shirts, a few people missed the deadline, so we have reopened the link.  The shirts are $15 each and can ordered up till February 1st.  20 shirts have to be sold in order for these to print, so if for some reason we don't sell 20, you will be refunded your money.  If you are interested, 

We will soon be celebrating in Tinker Bell style and I'm excited to once again honor Ellie's life!  We appreciate all who have donated and continue to support us!

For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’ Deuteronomy 15:11

Prayers, Praise, Pink
~ Carly

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Choose Joy

The day Ellie went home to Jesus, I remember the morning well. I remember the exhaustion we felt after such a long night.  I remember the frustration, wondering why God was dragging this out so long, and the numbness of just life.  I remember the quiet peace of her last breaths and I remember getting on my knees once she was gone and thanking God for the hope of heaven.  I remember all our family getting to our house before the funeral home did.  I remember thinking, if an outsider were watching all this....or if you had told me 5 years ago, this would be a seen in my house, I would have thought you were crazy.  Kids running around the living room, playing with toys, family all around and Ellie's body still here.  Yes, it sounds weird, but it was sweet.  After the funeral home came, I don't remember the rest of the day.  Maybe that's God's way of protecting our hearts, or I was just so tired...who knows.

Last year on December 22nd, I remember waking up and just having my family here, the 5 of us.  I do remember the joy I was filled with.  I know we went to the cemetery, but honestly I don't remember much of that day.  My post from last year, said we felt happy and that we were celebrating Ellie, but I posted at 10 in the morning....I don't know how the rest of the day went.

December 22nd, 2015...Started out like another lazy day together.  No one was moving too fast, still in our pj's, and snuggling.  I was reflecting back on how a few days ago I asked for prayer, when we were struggling.  The days leading up to Ellie's death are filled with lots of tough memories. Tension was high.  After I asked, I received, in a big way.  Smiles came back, we were doing better at understanding each others' attitudes and not taking offense.  We played around with the camera yesterday and took a great family picture (and a lot of bloopers!), and Richard came up with the idea to challenge others to share what gives them strength, using the hash tag #princessstrong.

We weren't moving at the pace I had hoped for, I kept thinking of all the "stuff" that needed to be done. The Christmas lights that still weren't up, the oil that needed to be changed, the laundry that was growing, the presents that needed to be wrapped, crafts that still weren't done yet.  As I found my anxiety rising, I started to find peace in all the #princessstrong posts I began to read.  I was glued to my phone reading about others' strength, honored that some people included my family in where they get strength from.  I loved reading all the praise God was getting...even as I could feel my own joy fading and my heart sinking...God was still giving me strength through all these other people.

We headed to the cemetery to bring Ellie's pink tree and decorate more sadness creeped in, this hot mess, came out all ready to go...and how can you not smile at her crazy self?!?!

 Decorations up, sweet prayers said, crazy kids running up and down the hill, mission accomplished.

As we headed home, I told Richard I don't remember last year being this tough...maybe it was the newborn baby blur...but I just don't remember it.  I went back to last year's blog and realized I posted it at 10 in the morning, so for all I know it could have been just as rough.  The rest of yesterday was filled with many more tears, Ellie's favorite dinner of dino nuggets and mac and cheese on the living room floor. watching Disney videos and mommy heading to bed at 9 because I was just so emotionally drained from the day.  My sweet boys stayed up late in the dark putting up my lights because Richard knew just how much I was missing it.  Yesterday felt empty and full all at the same time, I was so happy we were all together, but absolutely lost in my emotions. its down on "paper" so next year, on December 22nd, when I possibly can't remember how last year's here, the entire day, not just the morning.  (Note to self...Carly Marie, its okay to have a day like this...the next day, December 23rd, will come and you will feel better that you made it through another December 22nd)

I think my December 22nd amnesia is a gift from God.  If all we ever remembered was the sad stuff, life would be unbearable.  If we only ever focused on the negative and what God isn't doing and what's going wrong, there is no joy to be found. That is a conscious choice a person makes each and every day.  I agree there will be moments in life that stink and so much more.  There will be moments you cannot understand and wonder "where is God in this" but I promise you, He can be found, look at the people around you, the house you are in, the food you are eating.

Ellie's diagnosis of cancer was heartbreaking, watching her decline....tore my Mommy heart to shreds...her death, was joyous.  Because just 3 days after her death, a baby boy was born hundreds of years ago.  That baby boy was brought into this world with a purpose, just like my Ellie, just like all of us.  That boy's mommy, Mary, experienced the same heart ache I did.  She watched her son be tortured and die for all us...people she never even knew.  I'm sure as he was hanging on that cross, she wasn't jumping for joy...but 3 days later her beautiful baby boy rose from the dead and I'm sure in that moment, she found her peace, she saw part of God's plan.  You can find joy.

After Ellie's death, this moment was where I saw God's plan...

These little pink bags, painstakingly cut out with little shapes, each with a candle inside, illuminating the church the night of family night.  There were hundreds of bags, maintained by a crew that would be named Ellie's Elves.  The thought and heart that went into this effort from people I knew and from strangers, told me this life is so much more than I ever imagined. God has big plans for our lives!  I choose to see the joy, I choose to see the pink bags shining in the dark.  I choose to let the light God gave me to shine.

Let you light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

Today, I pray you can find joy, no matter what is going on in your life!

Prayers, Praise and Pink

Friday, December 18, 2015

Oh Christmas Card

Did you stress your Christmas card picture this year? Oh how I did!  (I must not have done Christmas cards last year...I guess having a newborn excused all that) It's tricky to pick a picture for a Christmas card when one of your children is no longer alive.  Do I pick a picture with Ellie in it? Of course then its always going to be the same picture or pictures, and it's tough enough to think you will never have another picture of Ellie and if I do an old picture then Lulah wouldn't be in it. Do you pick a new picture that Ellie is not in physically? Then maybe someone is going to be upset, possibly me and feel like I left one of my children out. This argument must have gone on for a day or two and it was exhausting.  I finally had to go with what felt right and push aside every worry or thought about what others might say or think, and I have to say, I'm pretty happy with the outcome.

When I first saw this picture after we did family photos again with Jackie of Jaclyn Rae Photography it took my breath away.  It was perfectly us. It didn't feel uncomfortable at all, it didn't feel empty or that we had left someone out, it felt natural....grumpy Lulah face and all!
This balancing act of life after a child's death, happens all the time for me.  I often find myself trying to decide how to sign our names to a card to not make anyone feel uncomfortable but still honor Ellie's life and include her in our family.  I know I over think it, isn't that what grown ups do best?!?! Noah was Christmas shopping today, and without missing a beat, he put Ellie on his list to shop for and announced he'd go put it at the cemetery for her.  He didn't bother with the "what if it gets wet" or "what do we do with it after Christmas" or "what if SG steals it", he just went with his heart....I love that about little people!
This past week hasn't been pretty around here.  Emotions are at an all time high right now and everyone is feeling it.  As "that day" gets closer we are all well aware, and it's almost like we all need a time out! (thank goodness for Christmas break!)  As much as I love my Time Hop app, there are days it brings a huge flood of tears and pain of the memories of those last few days.  This time two years ago was by far the toughest part of our journey with cancer.  For the first time since she was diagnosed we saw her in pain, of course she wouldn't ever tell us she was in pain...and the only way to help the pain was to give her meds that made her sleepy and out of it.  We watched our spunky and spirited girl slipping away.  This is the part of cancer I do hate, the pain, the absolute helplessness you feel as a parent. Those memories come back and hurt almost as much as the day they happened.  I know these memories serve a purpose beyond tears.  Those memories also serve as a reminder of what God can do in a family.  Those memories remind me of all the people that surrounded my family and prayed and helped and prayed some more.  Those memories remind me of how out of control I felt (which was so stinkin hard for me) yet how I was finally able to let God take control.  I'm reminded of family surrounding us in a living room, just being there.  I'm reminded of the fears I had of Ellie passing away when everyone was at our house, and how good God was to me, to take her home in a sweet quiet moment with just Richard and I.  Trust me, it's through tears I type these memories and with my joyful yet holy heart (a happy heart that still has a big ol hole in it). 

 The hole still hasn't gotten smaller, in fact this year it feels bigger than last.  I don't imagine it will ever get smaller.  I do envision it like this - there's this tiara shaped hole in my heart, things flow through the hole, and take up a lot of space in the hole, but nothing is a perfect fit, and no matter how much space that thing takes up at the moment, its eventually gonna make its way through the hole...and then its empty again.   

My family is aching this week...and I only know about the people in my house.  I'm sure the family outside our doors is hurting too.  I still don't know how to help their grief, which I feel bad about....I can barely contain this household.  I feel like I should be able to listen to them and give them support and love...but I'm if I come off as "fine and cheery" please know it's the happy school counselor in my trying to be strong for every one around me.  I'm pretty sure one day I will get to the place where I can see others cry about our Ellie and help them.  I'm so grateful for that family that totally understands me (or tries to) and never gets mad or takes offense.  They get that some things are just harder for me and they are helping me learn that it doesn't have to make sense to anyone except me.  My point for telling you all this is to ask for a lot of prayers for us.  Specifically that we would give each other some space and leniency.  We'd remember we are all hurting in our own ways.  I ask for prayers of peace as well.

"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 
The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 
For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 
that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. 
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.
 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 
For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?
 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. 
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 
And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will" Romans 8:18-28
We appreciate all the love and prayers.  I know we will get through this week.  I know the 22nd will come and I will feel sad, but I will also feel happiness because of Jesus Christ, whose birthday is just 3 days after the 22nd.  And it's because of Jesus Christ I know that I will see my daughter again. 
We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:3-5
Prayer, Praise, and Pink

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving Skies

If you follow my instagram, you often see the hashtag #lifeofaretailwife.  Richard has worked retail for what feels like a million years, so I am used to loosing my husband to the store around this time.  But this year was the first time he had to be in early on Thanksgiving day.  At first it felt like no big deal...but the more and more it sat in my heart it just felt all wrong.  My husband deserves a meal, my kids deserve time all together, I needed this holiday for him to be here.  So we set out to make our own Thanksgiving....not a huge undertaking...oh except for the fact, I've never cooked a turkey...much less a whole Thanksgiving dinner, with like 2 days prep time.

Noah and I set out on a shopping trip to find decorations and a thanksgiving menu.  Noah was quite upset that all the stores seemed to have forgotten that it was thanksgiving because they didn't have any turkey decor.  I had to remind him most people don't decide to cook a Thanksgiving meal 2 days before, and they probably got all there stuff a while ago!  Thankfully my trusty old Target had almost everything I needed, even some turkey window clings to make Noah happy!

After some flu shots, and a mini meltdown in Food Lion over a chicken and a turkey, and a phone call back to my mom to apologize for my mini meltdown, we were ready! 

I have to be honest, I was like a kid on Christmas this morning, who knew you could get so excited over cooking a bird...or maybe it was just the nerves of was it thawed out or not....remember I just got it yesterday! I think I read my directions a million times, said a prayer (for real, I prayed in the kitchen, for me to continue to remember what today was about, no matter what happened) and put it in the oven.  After loosing Lulah for a minute and having my first panic attack of the day, we got Daddy up and got to begin our family time! (Don't call CPS, she's a quiet crawler and had crawled herself into her room and closed the door.)  I can tell she has much of Ellie's personality, she's sweet, she listens and tries to push buttons, pretty calm and loves to eat!  

We pulled out the fine china, well  anything that's not a paper plate is fine china in this house.  With the help of crafty Noah and SG my coloring fanatic, our kitchen was perfect!

As we were setting the table, Noah ran to make another place card, he placed Ellie 's spot right beside him with a smile on his face.

We had to eat kinda quick, as Richard had to head out the door for work.  The turkey was cooked, the potatoes were ok (Noah says they were his that kid!), the gravy was yummy...who knew some turkeys come with gravy packets in them!! Richard left, and my heart felt so at peace, I knew we had done the right thing.  The plus side of eating early, you have all day to clean up! 

As the sun started to set and the sky turned this amazing shade of pink again, I cried.
It was so pretty, and like Ellie, I can't see it well enough.  There are a million trees in the way that block me from seeing the pink clearly.  To me the trees are like earth...well duh they are part of the earth, but they are what keeps me from seeing her clearly and all her beauty.  I have to look really hard to find her some days and although she's bright and in my heart, its hard to see her and remember her clearly.  She feels so close but so far away, everywhere but untouchable....kinda like the pink sky I am so in love with.
"give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" 1 Thessalonians 5:18
We pray that your Thanksgiving no matter how early or late it was, was enjoyable and filled with love, and maybe even a pink sky!
Prayers, Praise and Pink