Tag: others

help them help others

They are geared.

They have practiced.

They are ready.

And a little weird ;)

The St. Jude’s trike-a-thon takes place at our babies’ school this week.

My mama heart has melted for St. Jude’s since the day we brought Miranda home from the hospital. I was holding her on the couch when one of their commercials came on, the one that says, give thanks for the healthy kids in your life. Well Lord knows, I do. We had a few struggles with KK’s breathing during her first two years that allowed me to feel every fear of the what if. We have many friends whose children suffer from health problems that require surgery, therapy, daily injections or medication, constant therapy, frequent hospital stays. Recently, a dear 7 year old in our extended family (my sister-in-law’s cousin) began treatment for brain cancer. I don’t know how these precious kids and their families do it, but I know that as a part of the sisterhood of mamas (and compassionate people, regardless of their parental status), when I have a chance to help, I sure will!

It is so little, when the need is so great, but thanks to some of you, KK and Randa have reached double their goals of $100 each. Can you help us raise more? Any amount of money helps. And all your prayers, even if you don’t know who you are praying for, are heard.

To donate via Miranda’s ride, click here.
To donate via Kaity’s ride, click here.

Lord, we thank You for the healthy children in our lives, and we thank You for the ones who need a special touch. May we learn from their strength, may we do all we can to protect and assist and love on them. May they have grace for each day and be it by doctor’s hands or divine intervention, may they be healed. AMEN.

recording love

One of the hardest parts of moving has been leaving behind the little ones in our lives.

(not our little ones, of course).

(though some of these feel like ours)~

(taken by Julie, and even though Henry and George don’t live in IL, we miss them!)

We have been blessed throughout the years to become aunties and uncles, by blood or by name, to a group of lovely kiddos. I also have the treasured role as godmama to Mr. Zachary (who was born 4 months to the day before our Randa,

and of course, the friends of my children hold a special place in our hearts. I absolutely love that through the beauty of Facebook, photo messages, and even old-fashioned email, the girls and I still get to grow up with them.

But when it comes to my nephew and niece, the role is particularly sacred. My nephew Andrew is now 12, no longer victim to my ludicrous nicknames (Prince Pooh, for example) or my over-the-top gifts (a new wardrobe with a side of chocolate and stuffed animals, for example. I’ve learned so much about gift giving since having my own kids). We’ve moved on to having a great conversational relationship, one that involves Andrew teaching us new games and me picking my jaw up off the floor at how much he reminds me of my brother.
But our niece ChloeBug was born only months before we moved away, so I of course worry that she is going to forget who we are. I’m grateful that before we moved, we were able to capture moments like this

and that the girls and I were able to return to Chicagoland for her first birthday.

When it comes to gift-giving, I not only want to be superfluous (pink things. frilly things. completely impractical things), I want to be intentional, sending something that is meaningful and also symbolic of our relationship with our niece and our hopes for her.

So for our first Christmas away from sweet ChloBug, this seems to be the perfect choice:
This is easy-to-use, customizable recorded storybook is one of several offered by Dayspring, and God’s Christmas Promise is a beautifully worded and illustrated telling of the miracle of Christmas.

Though we will not be gathered together on Christmas Eve to eat too much, marvel at the cuteness, and give thanks for the Heaven-sent gift of Jesus, Chlobug will have a package to open. She will hear my voice (and if I can swing it, that of her uncle and cousins, too), and be reminded of a sacred promise, and know that she loved beyond words.

Visit Dayspring for more on these recordable storybooks.
Thanks to (in)courage for the opportunity to review this product.

a big life

In the last few years, my life has gotten much bigger than I ever expected.

I’ve gotten to travel to other countries. I had babies. I’ve met people whose music I’ve listened to since I was a child. I’ve traveled on a tour bus with my family, supporting my husband’s music. I’ve moved from the Midwest to the beach. I’ve had ‘famous’ people become my friends, or at least, texting buddies. And the way my current job seems to be going, that piece of my life is going to keep growing.

I don’t get it. I guess i used to dream of a big life…lots of kids, a few best-selling novels and an Oscar for Best Screenplay, a co-starring role with Patrick Swayze (in a GOOD remake of Dirty Dancing, of course). I never thought I’d actually have one. And you know, as my life has ‘grown,’ so has my perspective. Having a friend who won a Grammy isn’t any different from having a friend who hasn’t won a Grammy. And having been to South America or the Beverly Hills Polo Lounge doesn’t make my life bigger than anyone else’s.

Let me tell you about a woman I don’t know. I mean, I know her, through blogging. I wanted to meet her, but she lives in Iowa, so I should have tried to when I lived in Illinois. Her name is Sara. I discovered her blog a year ago in August. I remember the actual night, because it was the night before Rod and I left for Colombia, on a journey that made our lives bigger, and it was also the night I wrote a guest submission for incourage.me, which was accepted, making my writing reach bigger.

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Sara was a regular contributor for incourage, and she was around my age, and she was homebound to the extreme because of a rare, complicated, excruciating, debilitating disease that fused her spine, weakened her lungs, destroyed her immunities, and made her allergic to even the outside air.

She has been confined go her house for much of her adult life.

And yet, her life? Is bigger than I can ever imagine mine being.

I’ve always wondered throughout my time of knowing Sara ‘how it would all go down.’ Last year, her dad died very unexpectedly, and she couldn’t be at his funeral, and I wondered how much more she could take. Turns out, it was a lot. She lived a life driven by the words CHOOSE JOY. She had none of the things most of us take for granted. She couldn’t leave her house. She couldn’t have frequent contact with people. She couldn’t eat real pizza. And she couldn’t live a single day without crippling pain. Yet, to read her words, you’d think she was Queen of the world. She exuded joy, wisdom, and hope.

Yesterday, hospice was called to her home. The irony of her last days is that she can finally be physically surrounded by love without the worry of human contact making her sicker.

The truth is that from the inside of her little condo, she has lived a bigger life than most of us can dream of living.

Without ever having laid eyes on her in person, put my arms around her, heard her laugh, or cuddled her dog Riley, I am mourning the loss of a friend today, and the loss of a light, the mind this discouraged world needs badly.

And where it has left me, and many in my bloggy-Internet-family, is blessed, heartbroken, blessed, sad, blessed, hopeful, overwhelmed with love and admiration for Sara, who chose joy.

I hope when I get HOME someday, I can watch a replay of her entry through the pearly gates. I bet her Dad is waiting. I bet she dances. I bet we all will now have another angel watching out for us, helping us to remember to choose JOY.

Know her story: Sara / Gitzen Girl

Recommended reading

I love blogs, I do. I also love magazines. I read as many of each as I can cram into my life, and I am often caught recommending, explaining, reacting to some story that I have read or tidbit that touched me.

I love stories. And I don’t have all the time I wish to write them right now, but there are thousands running through my head.

I am pretty sure I also have adult-onset ADHD.

Anyway, on Saturday morning, lounging in my bed while the littles were at my parents’ house, a friend of mine posted a link to a blog. Another one. And it was another Mommy story, which are in droves around me yet so hard to resist.

So, I read it.

And… I can’t get it out of my head.

(Sidenote: It was written by Compassion blogger Ann Voskamp, which I just discovered. Yay!)

(Also, thanks Tammy!)

I also cannot say it better than this writer did. So here is the link: What Mother Must Sacrifice

And meanwhile, I will only say that I have accepted the challenge of the words, whether they were meant as such for me or not. There are so many things to do, desires and dreams to chase, minutes to steal for this and that. But at the end of each day, I hope I can say I gave my little ones my first, my best, my softest ~ not my frustrations, not my leftovers. And in that, I pray they are always getting what they need.

More to come..

What does love mean?

Miranda is big with the tough questions lately. Last week we were looking at picture of Grandpa Capriotti holding me the month he died – I happened to be 7 months old. She was asking me where he was now.

So I tried to explain heaven.

Then we had Easter, and since last week was way beyond nutters, even for our family, the best I could muster was a few egg hunts and some Easter books from the library (and having a BFF who colored eggs for us…Aunt Jen! rocks!). One of them was a bit more graphic than what I would have chosen for a 3 year old, but she wanted it. Which led to to the question – Why did they hang him on a cross?

So I told her: because He let them, because He loves us.

This morning, in the midst of my putting away dishes-toasting Eggos-folding clothes, she asked another doozy: What does love mean?

Seriously. Verbatim. What does love mean?

I answered her quickly, as the toddlers are not one with patience (nor our their parents). I told her that pat things: it means you enjoy someone, want to be with them, want them to be happy.

But the truth is, sometimes I spend more time thinking about what love does not mean…how it doesn’t mean forsaking or betraying people who have been there for you, it doesn’t mean talking smack about people who have been kind to you, it doesn’t mean turning your back when things get complicated or challenging or disaggreeable.

All day yesterday, I was reflecting on what love means, even though I didn’t see it that way.

See, yesterday, I wore purple for a little girl I never knew. In fact, I didn’t even know she existed until she had already left this world.

Yesterday, Maddie Spohr‘s parents and the baby sister who also never met her commemorated the one year mark since Maddie passed away.

Maddie was 17 months old. Can you even imagine?

Yesterday, I cried, I sent blog comments and tweets. A few weeks ago, I sent off a neighborhood donation to March of Dimes in her name. Yesterday I said prayers and tried to put myself in their shoes so I could have as much compassion as possible.

And today I see, that though I may never meet Heather, Mike, and baby Annie, I love them.

Love means a kindredness that we often poo-poo in our busy-Blackberry-lives. I never want to get that way.

Love means taking time to feel, even if it seems silly or insignificant.

Love means being inconvenienced, sharing your toys/food/spotlight/time,

Love means doing the hard things.

Love means finding the smiles in the midst of chaos.

Love, sometimes, means letting go, but most times, I think, it means hanging on with all your might…

…but it also means focusing on what you have, instead of what is missing –

because love, real love, exists whether it is returned.