A Room Transformed

Since our wedding day, almost three years ago now, I have been gradually working on making our little house a home. Transforming the white walled, white linoleumed mobile home has had it's challenges, including that of being unsure how much to put into it, knowing it is not a permanent home for us. 

All that said, paint is something I can do, and have done, despite the time consuming challenge of colouring these types of walls. Despite the remaining white flooring, painting has made a huge difference, and with some throw rugs here and there, has turned it into something very homey feeling. 

Last weekend Joel had to leave for three days for some work related training, and I took the opportunity to tackle a long desired project. Leana's room. It's been the only major room I haven't done anything with yet, and had become that catch-all place for every thing that didn't really have a good home. To even call it Leana's room was a stretch. The only thing in there belonging to her was her crib! Her changing table and hang up clothes were in our bedroom, and her dresser clothes in the guest room. It badly needing changing. 

So, armed with a couple paintbrushes, two colours of paint, and a hefty dose of motivation, I dove headfirst into the project. 

First, a few before pictures. 

From this angle, you would never even guess my almost two-year-old sleeps here! Looks like a sewing room...

And there's her poor little bed, stuffed in the corner, under that towering mountain of craft and sewing supplies. (Don't worry, the shelves are very sturdy and stable.)

And finally, the bookcase that had nowhere else to go, and the closet stuffed with more sewing supplies, bedding, and all the misc household stuff that has no better home. ;-)

I was too busy painting and running after a little girl to take any "in-progress" pictures, but here are the almost final results. I'd still like to put a quote on the wall above Leana's crib, and hang some curtains and pictures, but it will be a bit yet until that gets accomplished. 

Tada! Her changing table is now in an acceptable position, with all the necessary bum-changing equipment above and close at hand. 

A few little Hudson memos are tucked in as well. 

The "totally-doesn't-match" rocking chair outfitted with Leana's crib quilt. :-) We can't be quite perfect now, can we. ;-) I love the contrast of her white bed against the chocolate brown and pink walls, though. 

And finally, her own dresser, in her own room, with her very own clothes. No longer am I running to three separate rooms in the house to accomplish her morning routine of waking up and getting changed and dressed.

The before seen bookcase is now in our room which is now completely devoid of Leana's things. There should be no logical reason now why she has to hang out in our room, getting into everything that she's not supposed to. :-)

So, there's a peek into my last weekend. I've had sadly little time to write much lately.... Oh, Summer, with all it's outside glory and busyness! :-)

From My Bookshelf - Summer 2014

Sometimes the reading urge strikes me at the oddest times. Like now. It's the middle of Summer, and the absolute busiest time of year for all of us. Food preservation is in full swing, Joel's away quite a bit more with seasonal job commitments, and the weekends are packed full of visitors, family reunions, camping trips, and church functions. Somehow, I find myself with the largest stack of books EVER, and the least amount of time to read. :-) Despite my wish to share ALL of them with you now, I'll give you a peek at what I'm slowly working on this Summer.

The Gift of Pain - Phillip Yancey

This is one of those books where every page brings a delightful surprise in it's writing style. It's not the devotional I anticipated from the cover, but rather the biography of Paul Brand - a skilled surgeon who dedicated his life to working with lepers in India.

The book starts off with the story of a four-year-old girl who had a rare disease which made her completely insensible to pain. Sound like a dream come true? Not really. The author describes the multitudes of problems related to this with several examples, one of them being a sprained ankle. Because there is no system in place to warn the body of the injury, protection is not offered to the damaged member.  This simple injury then turns into dislocated and permanently damaged ligaments and tissues.

Leprosy patients are another in this category that live in a world of painlessness, and the result is devastating. Phillip Yancy draws examples from Dr. Brand's 50-years of medical work to prove that pain indeed is a gift. A gift nobody wants, but nevertheless a gift. The applications to life are endless...

Jesus Calling - Sarah Young

My sister-in-law sent this to me shortly after we lost Hudson, and it has been a comfort and blessing more than just a few times.

Inspired by the book "God Calling," the author set out to spend a portion of time each day, simply listening to what God would say to her, and writing it down in that form. What came forth was a beautiful set of letters, inspired by Scripture, straight from the heart of God.

The July 21st reading was a good reminder for me in this busy season of life.

"Rest in My presence when you need refreshment. Resting is not necessarily idleness, as people often perceive it. When you relax in my Company, you are demonstrating trust in me. Trust is a rich word, laden with meaning and direction for your life. I want you to lean on, trust, and be confident in me. When you lean on Me for support, I delight in your trusting confidence.

Many people turn away from Me when they are exhausted. They associate Me with duty and diligence, so they try to hide from My Presence when they need a break from work. How this saddens Me! As I spoke through My prophet Isaiah: In returning to Me and resting in me you shall be saved; in quietness and trust shall be your strength."

Proverbs 3:5 (Amp); Isaiah 30:15 (Amp)

Legend of the Celtic Stone

And finally, the book I pick up when I need some lighter reading. Light, as in the sense of fiction, not necessarily in depth and quality. :-)

My favorite style of fiction is the historical variety, and through it I find myself putting many pieces together of what should have been interesting in school but simply was not. Michael Phillips is a master at that, despite the fact that his stories are the farthest thing from fast moving. They contain a lot of historical detail that could prove tedious to some people, or, like myself, be the goldmine of knowledge that I find so intriguing.

I have just started this book, so I can't give it a thorough review, but Michael Phillips is an author I trust and can therefore recommend. His moral standards are high, his writing style engaging and adept, and his history well researched. This particular almost 600-page volume on the history of Scotland was nearly ten years in the writing.

There is a small peek at some of the volumes I've been perusing lately. More will be added, I'm sure, and I plan on sharing future gems with you as well. Happy reading!

Random Thoughts on Grief and Expectations

The culture into which I married has a wonderful tradition. It's called 3:00 coffee break. It's that time of day when life slows down, you lay aside your projects for a short amount of time, and you revel in a period of rest. It's that time of day when you might expect visitors, or drop in on friends of your own. It's a tradition that has it's roots in community and sharing, and one that I've really grown to appreciate.

Lately, as my daughter has transitioned into afternoon naps vs. morning ones, I generally find 3:00 a quiet time in our house. As every mother I'm sure has battled with over the ages, the every-present question during those moments of quiet is whether to tackle housework, take a nap, or have some me-time. Today it's the latter. I'm savouring a cup of the invigorating brew that gives me daily delight, and indulging in a York mint patty - courtesy of a care package mailed to me by a dear friend. 

I'm feeling drawn here, not because I come with a lot of thoughts sorted out, but because I haven't taken enough time lately to sit, think and write, and yes, admittedly cry. To just be, and let God be Who He wants to be in my life.

Recently a few friends have asked me how I was doing and I have struggled to put into words what life has felt like lately. I've struggled to even put into sensible thought the complexity of this road we've been asked to travel. So, once again, I find myself wandering to paper and pen. It's how confusion is sorted out for me. It's how I find myself "thinking" the most clearly.

One thing I've realized is that emotional pain is a strange beast. It attacks when you least expect and want it, and hides unseen when you finally feel ready to face it. It's something you can temporarily run away from, but never with very satisfactory results. 

To be quite honest, there have been many times these past two-and-a-half months when I've wanted to run away. To keep myself so busy that I don't have time to think. To avoid each and every situation where I could face a baby, an expecting mother, or the tiniest reminder of the child that I have lost. To pack away the pictures, to not open the cards, to not write, to not talk. In essence, to isolate myself from reality itself, closing myself into a small world of my own making where pain does not exist.

It's possible for a season. I've seen it. You've seen it. Movies portray it. For the temporary relief it may bring, we all know that the end result is not very pretty.

In choosing and learning to face this pain head on, I've had to deal with a lot of confusing, and oftentimes conflicting feelings. I'm realizing that grief defies your expectations. It is not a neat little package that you can open when you choose, and close when the circumstances are not suitable to probe into it's painful depths. It's messy, it's involved, and it's demanding.

In thinking on this subject, I've realized that I have had many un-voiced and un-thought-through expectations in life. These inevitably came through books, Hollywood, culture, media, and through observing the experiences of others. Some of them came from unknown sources, but somehow became deeply influential in how I viewed myself, others, and life. It's the strength of those that surprise me the most when they surface through circumstances beyond my control, and the ones I have to battle the hardest to bring them under the truth of God's word. 

Grief has been like that. It touched me in small ways growing up, but was never the lasting throb that demanded attention day after day after long day. It never required me to give it much thought because it was something I watched others go through, not myself. I admittedly didn't understand it, yet somehow still had ideas of what it looked like and how it was supposed to be handled. 

It's taken walking through it now to show me how much of a mystery it really is. It's contradictions are many, and never cease, and I don't know if I will ever fully understand how it works. 

Recently I came across some writings by another mom of a stillborn that helped me sort out some of this confusion. She was so accurate in describing many of these emotions.

"When a tragic death occurs there’s a reaction that is supposed to follow it. We’ve all seen the movies, you’re supposed to burst into tears, wailing and screaming... You’re supposed to lose control having slipped immediately into madness; they would have to sedate you to subdue your hysteria. Right?"
"Grief isn't like the movies."
"Grief is an enigma. You’re prepared for the sadness and the breakdowns. You’re expecting the heartache and the devastation. What you aren’t prepared for is how you’re left feeling when you didn’t have the reactions you thought you would. When you didn’t cry when you thought you should."
"Once I began to know my grief I started to understand that it’s as predictable and consistent as a train-wreck."

In learning to walk through this, I'm having to trust God in a completely different way. I'm having to learn to accept and trust that the person He has made me to be is OK. To acknowledge that He made me a human being with emotions. To accept that the pain, the fears, the questions, the ups, the downs and the confusing conflict of everything is all right, and that they are part of this journey. To let those expectations of myself go.... 

Though the hard days are still tough, and the easier days confusing, little by little I'm find a freedom in letting God be God, and me be me. I'm learning that there's no right or wrong way to grieve, and that I need to ignore my own preconceived ideas of who I should be, and the perceived expectations I think that others have of who I should be and how I should act. 

It's a journey that overwhelms me if I try to look too far ahead, so by God's grace, I walk step by step, embracing each moment as it comes.... It's going to be a very long road, perhaps spanning a lifetime, but it's just the moment I'm in right now that God has promised strength for.

Contrary to how it may sound on here sometimes, there are many happy times amidst the trying ones. As soon as time allows, I'll be digging out my camera again, sorting pictures, and sharing some of those. :-) Till then.... 

Tiny Hands, Little Feet, Precious Memories

I just wanted to take a moment, and express public thanks to "Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep." This is an organization that provides free, and prompt professional photography sessions to parents facing the bereavement of an infant. I had no clue such an organization existed until someone I didn't even know e-mailed me, explaining the process of getting in touch with them. I will be forever grateful to that person. 

As you can see, these beautiful images will be treasured for the rest of our lives, and are the most precious things in our possession in regards to our son. I would encourage anyone with photography skills, especially those leaning towards infants to consider volunteering their skills. You will have the amazing experience of being able to bless and interact with those facing a devastating time, and give them something they will cherish for the rest of their lives. 

The sensitivity and care of our photographer, and the beautiful gift she presented us with is something I will never forget...

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