Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Special Visitor

 A special visitor showed up on Christmas Eve at Aunt Penny's house. The photos tell the story. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry & Bright

Merry Christmas! I feel like yesterday I was lounging by Mom and Dad's pool, basking in the hot summer sun... and then I blinked. And here we are... Christmas is in 2 days! WOW!

It goes without saying that 2011 has been a year full of challenges. But in those challenges we discovered a strength and peace that can only come from God. Thinking about where we were a year ago, I can honestly say that we are now stronger in our faith, and we look a life through a different lens after enduring so many hardships. We have many blessings and we are thankful for the multitude of ways that God provided for us this year.

Every year I design a Christmas card from scratch. I wish I could send a Christmas card to everyone... but since I can't, please enjoy a digital version found below:


Inside Right:

Today was the last day of school for the year of 2011. At 3:20pm, my 11-day paid vacation began. School resumes in 2012 on Tuesday January 3rd, and until then.... I plan to r-e-l-a-x. And clean. And read. And nap. And scrapbook. And basically catch up on everything that I've let slide over the last 3 months since school began. I stayed up till 1am last night wrapping presents for my students. Every student got a goody-bag with a stuffed animal, stencils, stickers, pencils, and pencil sharpener. I also gave each child a chapter book and a picture book. I only spent about $4 total per child, so I think I made out pretty well! My husband said to me last night, "Your coworkers are going to think you're crazy for buying all of that stuff for your kids." My response to him was, "I don't care! These kids have been my motivation to get up and keep going on gloomy, sad days that I didn't feel like climbing out of bed. So I don't mind spoiling them at all. I love these kids." :) 

We had our holiday party today, too. The kids put finishing touches on picture frames for their parents that we painted, glittered, and decorated with ribbon. I took pictures of the kids to put inside, and the kids wrapped their presents today to give their parents for Christmas. The party started out with a really special moment. I have a child in my class from a single parent home whose mother is in the military. So, the child came to Hagerstown from Virginia Beach to live with his aunt since his mother's position requires her to travel frequently. Long story short, the mother emailed me last week and wanted to know if she could come in during our holiday party and surprise her little boy. Needless to say, I said yes!!! So at 1:00, a uniformed soldier knocked on our classroom door, and a very shocked and excited boy jumped up out of his seat and exclaimed, "Mommy!!!  That's my Mom!" and ran to his mother and jumped into her arms. It was an extremely touching moment, and one that I'm sure I will never, ever forget. After the excitement of the arrival of our guest, the snacks were brought out and I took turns decorating sugar cookies with each of my kiddos. They had a blast. And then... there were the presents. After hours of wrapping 42 books and hand-writing their names on treat bags and tying them all with ribbon, they tore into their gifts on the count of three... and it took less than five seconds for all of that wrapping effort to go out the window :) The best part for me was, not a single student said, "That's it?!" or "I don't want books!" Every single one of them was overjoyed and so appreciative for the little gifts that they received. While I'm excited to have a small vacation from work, I have to admit that I'm going to miss my bunch.

I was on the receiving end of lots of gifts too. I received several cute ornaments, some good-smelly lotiony things, and some things that make you go "Hmmm... what on earth will I do with THAT?!" :) Here's a  look at my loot:
Can you figure out what doesn't belong in this picture - HA! or should I say, "Meow!"

Casey was intrigued by the snowglobe :)

Merry Christmas from Casey the Cat

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Moment of Silence

It's been over a month since I last blogged. While it is true that my life has dramatically changed as I put my teacher face on, and "free time" has become nonexistent since the beginning of school, I have tried several times to start a new entry... and every time, the blinking cursor just seems to mock me and steal my words.

I think the best way to define that gap in time and space is this: A Moment of Silence. Yes, I've been busy. But underneath that busyness lie the feelings of grief and devastation that have been coming to surface more so here lately than I've experienced in a long time... because the dreaded month is here. September. The month that was supposed to be a happy month. The month where I was going to hold my baby for the first time. And as my friends and family begin welcoming their newborn babies into the world, I struggle to find a balance between being happy for them and grieving for Jason and I. It's hard to feel happy without acknowledging my loss at the same time.

Thank God I have my class of 20 seven-year-olds to keep me occupied. This job has truly been a God-sent distraction in my life that I greatly need right now. I've quickly found that the life of a teacher is not that glamorous... it's about working 10 hour days through the week and then spending half of my weekend in my classroom. It's about not watching TV anymore without a red pen in one hand, stickers in the other, and a pile of papers to grade on my lap. It's about going to bed at 8:30pm because I'm THAT exhausted, and because I want to give my students everything that I have to offer... including my energy. It's about spending more than half of my first two paychecks on materials and supplies that I need for my classroom (and a few goodies for my students). It's about perfecting that "five minute face" in the morning and capitalizing on easy up-dos to get me out the door at a decent time in the mornings. ...And all of the time, money, and energy spent on my classroom and my kiddos is 100% completely worth it. I'm exhausted and overwhelmed... and I wouldn't have it any other way.

I hope to post some pictures of my classroom soon. Please keep my family and I in your prayers as we go through each day this month with reminders of  the loss of our angel baby.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

50 Things

50 Things I Love About My Mom

1. The way she loves her family.

2. Her smile.

3. Her laugh.

4. Her eyes. Everyone tells me I have her eyes.

5. Her gentleness.

6. Her uncanny ability to establish peace.

7. Her love for entertaining others - she's quite the hostess!

8. The way we both show up to church wearing the same colors/jewelry.

9. Her strong faith.

10. The way she "flits" from one thing to another... I get my "flitting" ways honest!

11. Her ability to always be prepared. You should see how she packs!

12. The way she quit her job when I was 9 months old to do home daycare so that she could stay home with me.

13. The way she disciplined me as a child.

14. The way she has helped to shape me into the woman I am.

15. Her love for my Daddy.

16. The way she will take Dad a glass of ice cold sweet tea when he's sweating away outside in the heat doing yardwork.

17. Her passionate worship.

18. Her love for the mountains.

19. Her love for the beach.

20. The fact that she's a prayer warrior. She prays for me everyday.

21. The way she cared for Nanny and Pappy as they ended their journey on Earth.

22. Her patience.

23. The way she describes herself as a little girl at heart.

24. The memories that she made with KL and I when we were growing up. Like baking sugar cookies under a leaky roof - LOL.

25. The way she and Daddy were always at every sports game and band performance, cheering my brother and I on from the top of her lungs.

26. Her ability to be a good friend to others.

27. The way she has become stronger through all of the trials she has faced.

28. Her extraordinary ability to feel compassion and mercy for others.

29. The way she still holds me when I need to cry, no matter how 'big' I am.

30. The way she squealed with delight in January with the news of a grandbaby.

31. How she held my hand as I received the worst news any mother could be given.

32. The way she let me grieve and how she grieved with me. There were no fake smiles for the sake of trying to gain normalcy.

33. The way she looks forward to having grandchildren.

34. How she can be trusted with secrets.

35. Her funny baby-talk way of talking to her puppy, BoBo.

36. The way she lights up a room with her smile.

37. The fact that she has to start her day with coffee. Always.

38. Her ability to write.

39. Her intense desire to make others happy.

40. Her ability to cook.

41. How her house smells.

42. The way she listens.

43. Her natural ability to make friends with the elderly.

44. The way she looks for signs from Heaven in nature.

45. Her appreciation for flowers, butterflies, and birds.

46. Her close connection with her siblings.

47. How she encourages others. Self included.

48. The way she offers to bring food when I'm sick.

49. Her goofy sense of humor when we're together.

50. Her ability to be my Mom and best friend at the same time.

I love you, Momma. Happy Birthday!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Jehovah Jireh ~ My Provider!

God never ceases to amaze me. He really doesn't. I had a great job with Washington County last spring, but unfortunately the position ended at the end of the school year and left me wondering how in the world I was going to make financial ends meet until my teacher's salary kicks in on 8/18. (FYI - that's only 21 more days from today!). Well, God has come through. BIG TIME. He provided a part time summer job that paid $25/hour, and even though I didn't get as many hours as I was hoping, I was still able to pay my bills. He also provided some subbing opportunities at summer school - another HUGE blessing, and He showered me with phone calls for photography appointments. I was looking at my bank account today and I just had to turn my smiling face to Heaven and thank the Lord for all that He has provided. I've even managed to squirrel away enough money to go to the beach next week for my annual girls trip that I've taken every summer for the past three years with my Mom, Mother in Law, and Sister in Law. I think it's safe to say that I'm feeling like one of God's favorites right now! He is so good.

Photo taken on 7/20/11

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Case of the Gimmes

I keep checking my watch. The seconds are turning into minutes, the minutes into hours, and the hours into days. My eyes are wide open and actively searching for the signs. But unfortunately, it appears as though "my time" is not exactly "God's time." I guess I have a serious case of the Gimmes. ("Gimme" is slang for "give me.") I know exactly what I want, when I want it, and how I'd like to have it. I keep waiting for my heart's desire to be gently dropped into my lap, wrapped up allll pretty with a big ol' bow... and a big part of me wants to feel discouraged because it's just not happening.

But I know that God isn't necessarily going to answer my prayers when/how I'd like Him to. There are so many things in my life that I prayed for, hoping for God to open the perfect door and allow me to walk in effortlessly, and He either A) just gave me a straight "no" for an answer, or B) answered my prayer much later on and exceeded my expectations far beyond what I could've dreamed.

Like, for instance, all those times I prayed when I was a lovestruck, hormonal teenager crying out to God over a broken heart... wanting him to "fix" the guy I was dating so that our relationship could be perfect and we could live happily ever after. And He didn't. Instead, He helped me get back up off the ground, brushed me off, helped me to grow a little wiser, and sent me walking into my next relationship. Repeat cycle. Five years later, He brought Jason into my life. Six years later, I'm happily married to a godly man in a Christ-centered marriage that could only be better if it were taking place in Heaven. OR, take my job situation for example. Sure, I've been out of high school for almost ten years (gasp!) and surely thought I'd have a "Big Girl Job" (aka full-time teaching position) by now... and God took me through a series of employment opportunities that may not have been ideal for the long-term, but they have shaped me into the teacher that I am and will be this year. God answered my prayer for a job in His timing; when I would be in the best condition to be effective as a teacher.

And now... as I'm anxiously awaiting the next big chapter of our lives, I know that God  is taking us through this process and placing us in various circumstances that will help us to appreciate our blessing when the time is right... and that even though I want what I want so badly that it almost hurts, I know that His plan and timing are going to be so much better than I can even imagine.

So with that said, I'm trying to shake that Case of the Gimmes and focusing my eyes on Him and basking in His glory. And when His time is right, I bet He'll knock my socks off.

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us. - Ephesians 3:20

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Oh, Happy Day!

As my former due date approaches in a little over two months and it becomes increasingly more difficult to stand in the presence of women who are as pregnant as I should've been right now, it's easy to feel down. It's easy to feel sad. Depressed. Jealous, even. But in spite of the glaring reminders, I'm choosing right now at this very minute to focus on what is good and happy in my life right now. Over the past couple of days, I've mentally composed a list of things that I am ever-so-grateful for right now because they cause me to feel happiness. Uplifted. Encouraged.

Friends who keep me from hiding from the world. It's easy to wanna just "hole up" some days and not get out of my pajamas and wallow in my own self-pity... and then I get a text from a friend that says, "Where have you been?! You've dropped off the face of the earth! Call me so we can do something!" My friends are my biggest fans and motivators.

Reunions with "old" friends. I got to have a wonderful lunch yesterday with two of my former coworkers from Laurel Hall. It was awesome to reconnect with one another and reflect on how far we've come in our lives since we saw each other last. So refreshing.

An ah-mazing relationship with my Hubby.  I've been reminded a lot over the past few days about how grateful I am for my husband. We are such a great balance for one another, and we're definitely stronger together than we ever were when we were apart. He still gives me butterflies... Just the other day, I had to stop and get gas before my lunch date that I mentioned up above, and I was kinda in a hurry and not really paying attention to everything going on around me. And then suddenly, something caught the corner of my eye... Right there was my oh-so-sexy husband, grinning at me with that killer smile. He still makes my heart skip a beat. It's true.

German-Chocolate Cake sold by the slice at Martins. Hey, we're being honest here... right? This cake is simply to-die-for. It's always so moist... tons of chocolate icing and chocolate shavings with the richest caramel pecan filling. AND, it's sold by the slice. So technically, I don't have to buy a whole cake. Less cake = less guilt!

Getting to know my camera. My camera has so much "juice" and I know that I haven't even begun to unleash its photo-taking power from within. This summer has been the perfect time to play a few getting-to-know-you games with my camera... playing around with aperture, shutter, color settings, and ISO. I think I might even treat myself to a new lens as a  Happy New Job! gift this fall.

Leading a small group. A few weeks ago, I started working with the youth group at my church. On Friday evenings, I am leading a high-school girls small group. Leading this small group was a little intimidating at first, but it's so neat to get to know these fine young ladies on a deeper level and help them grow in their faith.

So there you have it... a small, but honest list of things in my life right now that make me feel happy. ...And just so you know, I'm smiling right now.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Autour De La Maison

Autour De La Maison, literally translated, means Around the House. I'm going to *try* to post weekly or biweekly with some photographs that provide you with a little window into the Caudill world. Here are several snapshots from around our home over the last week:

One flower box full of the petunias and lobelia plants that I planted last weekend!

The walkway and additional flower beds my Hubby has been working on for me!

Mmmm... Lots of beautiful "Medium-Well" memories are made from this grill.

A view through the palm plants of my bouquet from Melody's wedding (hanging out to dry).

From my perennial flower bed. Love those "fuzzy" heads!

Until next time... XOXOX

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Need to Nurture

Sorry, my friends, for the slightly depressing post last night. It was late... my Hubby fell asleep in the chair next to me... and out of boredom, I logged onto I had an account on there from when I was pregnant earlier this year, and I thought it would be interesting to see how the site has changed over the last few months. When I went through the miscarriage of my baby, I immediately packed away all things "pregnancy" and removed the favorited websites that I had grown accustomed to frequenting for information when I was pregnant. Aside from a weekly email from Similac that I have yet to figure out how to stop receiving, I don't have any glaring reminders of my loss. Over the weekend, I received an email from Similac saying "27 Week Update"... so if I were still pregnant, I'd be right around 27 weeks. I thought, "Hmmm... all I have to do is log onto WhatToExpect and they'll tell me what my baby and body would be experiencing during the 27th week of pregnancy." ...And against my better judgement and will, I logged on. BIG MISTAKE!

A wave of grief washed over me and left me filled to the brim with sorrow. I started thinking about how far along in my pregnancy I would be... what preparations I would be making in light of the upcoming arrival of my baby... how my body would be changing to accommodate the miracle growing inside of me... and I just felt so sad. Right about the time I finished posting last night, my Hubby woke up from his snooze in the chair, must've sensed something was wrong, and he pulled me into a hug. I instantly started to feel a little bit better.

I've been spending some time in my flower beds over the last few days. I have this uncanny urge to grow and nuture something... great place to start, FLOWERS!  My Hubby embarked on a rather ambitious landscaping project this summer for the front of our home... and he's done an AMAZING job putting in several new flowerbeds and a lovely stone walkway. I know it's a little late in the season, but I couldn't resist an awesome deal on some annuals at the local garden shop. While I was out sweating off several pounds of water-weight in the blistering heat on Saturday, I planted two of my flower beds with the petunias and lobelias.

As I was planting, I was channeling my inner "Nanny." Nan loved working in her flower beds. Her yard, with all of its neat colors and blooms, became a dreamy summertime haven that I loved to visit when I was little. She'd let me make a bouquet of some of her flowers when I would stay with her for a week each summer. So many sweet memories of my Nanny and her flower beds... I miss her so much! Mom told me yesterday that lobelia plants were one of Nanny's favorite plants. I wish I had a picture to post on here of my Nanny's flower beds, but sadly I don't have any. All I have to do, though, is close my eyes and let my mind take me right back to the sweet smell of honeysuckles and daphodils... to a place where flowers and birds were considered as friends... and I can see the rainbow of beautiful blooms around the perimeter of the yard, and my Nanny waving from the front porch. I miss you, Nanny.

Monday, July 4, 2011

If Only

I wish I could feel you moving in my belly right now.
I wish your little feet were kicking me in the ribs.
I wish I could stare in utter astonishment at your sonogram pictures for hours on end.
I wish I could hear the "woosh-woosh-woosh" of your heart beat at my bi-weekly doctor's appointments.
I wish your Daddy and I had to argue over what we were going to name you.
I wish I was lucky enough to be sicker than a dog, exhausted to no end, heartburn-ridden, with oh-so-sexy swollen ankles... if only it meant I'd get to hold you in my arms.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Our Baby is Okay

I read a book in the week following my miscarriage called, Heaven is For Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back by Todd Burpo. The little boy in the book, Colton Burpo (Todd Burpo's son) had an emergency appendectomy when he was not even four years old. In the months following his surgery, Colton began to share with his parents about his trip to heaven and back during the surgery. He told his parents that he left his body during the surgery - and authenticated that statement by describing exactly what his parents were doing on the opposite side of the hospital while he was being operated on (something the nurses wouldn't have even known). He talked about visiting heaven and shared with his parents the stories that had been told to him in heaven by people he had never met before in his life (like his great grandfather). His parents were shocked when Colton began describing heaven with such accurate details that matched the Bible thoroughly, even though Colton had yet to learn how to read.

Below is an except from the book where Colton shares about a special little girl that he met while he was in heaven. This passage really touched my heart following my miscarriage, and it still warms a hope in me that one day I'll get to meet my baby that I lost.


"Mommy, I have two sisters," Colton said.

I put down my pen. Sonja didn't. She kept on working.

Colton repeated himself. "Mommy, I have two sisters."

Sonja looked up from her paperwork and shook her head slightly. "No, you have your sister Cassie, and ... do you mean your cousin, Traci?"

"No." Colton clipped off the word adamantly. "I have two sisters. You had a baby die in your tummy, didn't you?"

At that moment, time stopped in the Burpo household and Sonja's eyes grew wide. Just a few seconds before, Colton had been trying unsuccessfully to get his mom to listen to him. Now, even from the kitchen table, I could see that he had her undivided attention.

"Who told you I had a baby die in my tummy?" Sonja said, her tone serious.

"She did, Mommy. She said she died in your tummy."

Then Colton turned and started to walk away. He had said what he had to say and was ready to move on. But after the bomb he'd just dropped, Sonja was just getting started. Before our son could get around the couch, Sonja's voice rang out in an all-hands-on-deck red alert. "COLTON TODD BURPO, you get back here right now!"

Colton spun around and caught my eye. His face said, "What did I do?"

I knew what my wife had to be feeling. Losing that baby was the most painful event of her life. We had explained it to Cassie; she was older. But we hadn't told Colton, judging the topic a bit beyond a four-year-old's capacity to understand. From the table, I watched quietly as emotions rioted across Sonja's face.

A bit nervously, Colton slunk back around the couch and faced his mom again, this time much more warily. "It's okay, Mommy," he said. "She's okay. God adopted her."

Sonja slid off the couch and knelt down in front of Colton so that she could look him in the eyes. "Don't you mean Jesus adopted her?" she said.

"No, Mommy. His Dad did!"

Sonja turned and looked at me. In that moment, she later told me she was trying to stay calm, but she was overwhelmed. Our baby... was - is! - a girl, she thought.

Sonja focused on Colton, and I could hear the effort it took to steady her voice. "So what did she look like?"

"She looked a lot like Cassie," Colton said. "She is just a little bit smaller, and she has dark hair."

Sonja's dark hair.

As I watched, a blend of pain and joy played across my wife's face. Cassie and Colton have my blond hair. She had even jokingly complained to me before, "I carry these kids for nine months and they both come out looking like you!" Now there was a child who looked like her. A daughter. I saw the first hint of moisture glint in my wife's eyes.

Now Colton went on without prompting. "In heaven, this little girl ran up to me, and she wouldn't stop hugging me," he said in a tone that clearly indicated he didn't enjoy all of this hugging from a girl.

"Maybe she was just happy that soemone from her family was there," Sonja offered. "Girls hug. When we're happy, we hug."

Colton didn't seem convinced.

Sonja's eyes lit up and she asked, "What was her name? What was the little girl's name?"

Colton seemed to forget about all the yucky girl hugs for a moment. "She doesn't have a name. You guys didn't name her."

How did he know that?

"You're right, Colton," Sonja said. "We didn't even know she was a she."

Then Colton said something that still rings in my ears: "Yeah, she said she can't wait for you and Daddy to get to heaven."

From the kitchen table, I could see that Sonja was barely holding it together. She gave Colton a kiss and told him he could go play. And when he left the room, tears spilled over her cheeks.

"Our baby is okay," she whispered. "Our baby is okay."

---From Heaven is For Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven & Back

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Feeling is Healing...

Three months and five days.

Sometimes it feels like it's only been days... sometimes it feels like a lifetime ago. The weight of my loss has been extra heavy the last couple of days. I find myself getting choked up when I see a Mommy and her baby... the infamous lump-in-the-throat that you can't swallow away. I glance away, blink back the tears, and try to plaster a smile on my face... knowing that in feeling this pain, I'm healing. I have become an expert escape artist when it comes to my feelings surrounding the miscarriage, but I've let my emotional guard down the last couple of days and just allowed myself to feel. The tears have become therapeutic in a way.

We weren't trying to conceive when we got pregnant in January... but the minute I found out that I was pregnant, I wanted that baby. I couldn't think of anything else. I bought books... picked out a nursery theme... debated with my Hubby about what we would name the baby... we were genuinely excited to become parents. And when I lost the baby, that desire to have one did not go away. In fact, it was only intensified. I feel such a longing in my heart to be a mother... and while the mere idea of becoming pregnant again almost sends me into a panic attack, I can't wait until I can start planning fun ways (at the 12-week mark this time, after a heartbeat is heard) to tell our families that it's finally safe for them to get excited again because a little one is on the way.

A recent study came out that suggested that the best time to conceive after a miscarriage is within the 6 months following the miscarriage. You can read more about the study by clicking here. The study found that the majority of women who became pregnant within 6 months of losing a baby were more likely to have a healthy pregnancy without complications in comparison to women who waited longer than 6 months to conceive. While that statistic gives me hope, it is also a bit daunting. Kinda puts the pressure on to "plant the seed", if you will, before the 6 month mark ticks by. I know that I need to just "Let Go, and Let God"... but the control freak in me is screaming, "Get our your calendar! Mark your fertile days! Get ready... get set... OVULATE!" I guess it'll happen when the time is right... and until then, I'm praying and praying and praying.


Last week was extremely busy for me as I held the honor of being the Matron of Honor to one of my best friends, Melody. It was a stressful week because there was so much to do, but it was fun to take her creative ideas and bring them to life. Her day was absolutely beautiful. A bit of my sanity was lost somewhere between the 4am program making marathon and the hundreds of bows that we tied... but every moment was worth it. Congratulations, Alex & Melody!

Friday, June 10, 2011

How to Give/Receive Help in Times of Loss

When I went through my miscarriage almost three months ago, I realized quickly that there are not a lot of resources out there to help someone deal with all of the thoughts and feelings of grief, guilt, anger, and sadness. The night after my surgery, I remember walking into Borders in a pair of ratty sweat pants and an old tee-shirt with red-rimmed eyes and dark circles underneath those eyes, on a mission to find a book on how to deal with the emotional pain I was experiencing. ...Because that is how I deal with "stuff." I read about it. I learn as much as I can about it. I figure "it" out and make sense of it. Unfortunately, though, miscarriage is one of those frustrating things in life that can't really, truly be figured out (for the most part). As I was crouched down on my knees in the middle of the bookstore looking through books on loss and not finding a single one about miscarriage, it ocurred to me that there probably aren't many books out there on the subject because A) there aren't definitive answers to "why" miscarriage happens - sure, there are risk factors, but the doc can't do a sonogram and determine exactly what caused your pregnancy to end... and B) a lot of the feelings that you do experience through a miscarriage are the same as those that you experience when someone dies - denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. I ended up finding that the best way for me to deal with my feelings was/is through journaling, or blogging. I don't doubt that people have questioned my decision to keep up with the blog, especially when I've shared my deepest thoughts that, quite honestly, make even me feel a little uncomfortable when I go back and re-read some of those dark entries from back in March/April. But it is my hope, as my Aunt Penny reminded me this week, that one day, my experience will help someone else with what they are going through. I hope that others find through sharing my experiences that Christ really is the only hope we have, and He is the only one who can give us the strength and comfort that we need to press on in such despairing times.

Flowers and cards that we received during our time of loss. Such a beautiful display symbolizing the support network of friends and family that God has blessed us with!

Now - since I'm at a place in my grieving that I can look back on my miscarriage and reflect on what happened, I realize that there are a lot of people around me who really just didn't have any idea how to help me or what to say. So, I thought I'd share a few ideas based on my experience of ways that you can help someone going through a miscarriage (or experiencing any other kind of intense grief/loss):
  • Go and visit her at home. Be so kind as to give a little notice before you pull up the driveway, though, so that she can "pull herself together."
  • Ask what her favorite meal is and fix it. Her energy level will not be the greatest after a miscarriage.
  • Offer to help her with some housework. (Goes back to the low energy level).
  • Tell her it's OK to be sad around you. This will help her to be honest with her feelings of grief and will keep her from surpressing those feelings of depression or denying them.
  • When you talk about her loss, don't refer to the baby as "it." Just because the baby wasn't carried to full-term doesn't mean that he/she is devoid of value.
  • Don't avoid her. She needs you to communicate with her. If she wants to talk about the baby, don't change the subject. It hurts more if you don't reach out to her.
  • Pray for her, and tell her exactly, specifically how you are praying. This will help to build her up spiritually.
  • Invite her to go out. Don't assume that she's too weak or too "down" to join you. Chances are, she'd love to join you.
...And to the woman experiencing the miscarriage:

Be honest and specific with people when they ask if they can help you. When your friends and family want to serve you, receive their expressions of love - don't reject them. ...And if people aren't offering help, don't be afraid to ask for it. You'll need it. It won't be easy, believe me. But as you honestly share your heart with others, your life will be enriched, others will be blessed, and you'll be able to process through your loss. And don't forget that you have a Heavenly Father who loves you more than you know, who has a plan and purpose for your life, who "works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."

Until next time... xoxox

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Summer Dreamin'

School's out for the summer! ...And while I had dreams of swimming pools and cute little umbrella drinks dancing in my head, the reality of a jam-packed busy summer is hitting me full force. Between my summer job, the never-ending list of friends/family who want pictures taken, the gathering and preparing of materials for my classroom, working with the youth at church, and deep-cleaning the house, those happy pool-colored visions of summer that I had are fading away. I can't wait until next summer... It will be my first summer where I literally will not have to work, and I'll still get paid (because I opted to have my 10-month salary spread out over 12 months instead). But until next summer, I'll just have to suck-it-up and keep on truckin'.

Overall, I'm doing pretty well these days. It has taken a solid three months for me to get to this place, but I am feeling better. Sure, I still have my moments... but generally speaking, I'm in a much better place now than I was on March 17th. The recent news of my teaching job has done wonders for lifting my spirits. I'm hopeful that when the time and circumstances are right, God will bless us with another baby. Now that the job has been secured and health benefits will kick in on September 1st, believe me I've been thinking about the best time to begin trying to have a baby. Part of me wants to jump right on the baby-makin' train... but another bigger part of me is scared to death of becoming pregnant again. I am fearful of experiencing that tremendous loss again... and I'm not sure if my heart could endure that pain another time. So many girls get pregnant the first time around and enjoy every single minute of their pregnancy because they are naive to the potential darkness that can lurk around the corner. And I'm sad to say that I've been forever stripped of those happy pregnancy feelings because I know for certain that I'll be a nervous wreak the next time I get pregnant. I just pray that God provides me with peace in the next pregnancy... I'll need lots of prayers when the time comes. Until then, though, I'm still trying to take care of my body and be as prepared as I can be to have a healthy pregnancy when the time comes.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

9 Years

The last 9 years of my life have built me, prepared me, and have shaped me for today: May 25, 2011.

Over the last 9 years, I have:

-read thousands of pages in textbooks

-taken out over $60,000 in student loans

-spent endless hours studying

-written paper after paper after paper

-learned a lot about myself as a teacher by working with students with emotional problems

-found a greater appreciation for diversity in a classroom by working with ELL students

-mastered the art of multi-tasking (writing a paper while eating dinner, doing laundry, and talking on the phone)

-quit my teaching job to do an unpaid student teaching experience (which ended up being one of the best decisions of my life)

-ate Cup O' Noodles for lunch for weeks during said student teaching because I was broke from quitting the aforementioned job

-went through a major job interview

-went through another major job interview

-went throught yet another major job interview

...and today, May 25, 2011, I accepted a job offer from Washington County Public Schools as a second grade teacher at Pangborn Elementary School.

I feel like all of my experiences, training, and recent life events have led me to this very moment, at this very school, with this very special group of students that I'm about to share my life with over the next school year.

God is really amazing, isn't He?

I had an interview yesterday at 4pm at Pangborn Elementary. I walked into the interview not even knowing what I was interviewing for... and when they asked what I wanted to teach, I told them:
"I want to teach children."
I do not care what grade level, or whether it's special education or English Language Learners (ELL). I just know that my passion and calling right now in my life is to teach, and I will do it with all of my heart no matter what grade level I'm placed in. Before I walked into the school for the interview, I prayed to God... "Lord, I pray that if this is where I am supposed to be used for Your glory, then let it be so. If there is something else that would be a better fit for me, please open that door of opportunity." I felt like the interview went really well... and in less than 24 hours later, I received a call from Human Resources offering me this teaching opportunity, and through the tears of sheer joy, I gladly accepted the offer.

Pangborn Elementary School in Hagerstown, MD