Tuesday, December 29, 2009

3 Days Left

I smile as I write that. Mom would be saying and thinking the same thing....WHEW! This year is almost over! HALLELUJAH! I am sitting down to my computer without a list of to-do's a mile long for the first time in months.

I simply cannot wait for a New Year! I am fully aware that each day brings its own troubles, but there is something so peace-giving to think of starting fresh.

The boys are healthy, dad is safe and healthy and Nate and I are looking forward to a year of intentional time spent together, with our kids, our family and on living out each day in the way that God would have us use our talents. A high order? Absolutely. One worth striving for though.

May God bless us with a fabulous new 2010.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

All Snug In Their Beds

It is Christmas Eve. I can hear my dads voice as he tells the boy's bedtime stories to go to sleep. I can see by the light of the Christmas tree, I can smell the cookies that are sitting on the plate for Santa. I can feel the cold from the front door where the carrots are placed for the reindeer. I can picture the wonder on Carder's face, but...

I miss the long talks with mom, the fright in her eyes as we make too much noise filling the stockings, the sheer delight in the last minute trip for the toy just announced as most important, the roll of the eyes as I say the boys have too much. I miss EVERY part of her tonight.

Her spirit truly is here. We went to lunch with Grandma and Popsie today, and on the way out the boys asked for a gumball, with a HUGE smile we dug for quarters, and Kaden said, "In honor of Gaga."

Christmas will never be the same. Yet, it is our job to make the new memories ones that she would be proud of. Dad and I tear up, exchange glances and know what the other one is feeling, but it is a choice to have a good Christmas, and WE ARE. Off to be Santa!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Lots of Icing

Wow, I miss mom.

I have been preparing myself for the holidays, preparing for the pain of change, yet yesterday in the middle of the mall, I thought I was going to stop breathing. I'm going along having a normal day, actually smiling and enjoying the bustle of everyone in the Christmas mood, and then I got hungry. That is not unusual, and so I headed to the cookie shop.

It was there. As I looked at the cookies, that I could so easily picture mom, and hear her saying, "Oh, look at the one with all of the icing Rachelle. Don't pick that one, I want it." I thought I was going to have a mental breakdown at the Mrs. Fields right in the middle of Louis Joliet Mall. I bravely walked up to the girl at the counter with tears streaming down my face so hard that it was slippery where I was standing, and I said, "I'll have the one with all of that extra icing." She looked at me as if the guys in the white jackets might be right behind me. I just smiled.

Tears still coming, I found a bench took my diet coke and cookie and ate every bite thinking about all of the wonderful times mom and I spent in malls shopping laughing and people watching.

It's the little moments like that. The times that no one else would even think twice. The things that when you love someone so deeply it is more about the time shared than the events or words spoken. This first Christmas is going to be harder than any of us could have imagined, but she would kick my butt from here to heaven if I let it be anything besides wonderful for my boys.

So with her grit and spirit, I am off to deck the halls and make it a great day.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Wonderful Dad

So, most of the time when I am posting, I am talking about something that mom taught me. Or my grief, struggle and search for joy. Well the same is trud today as well....Mom always taught me that I was so lucky to have the Dad I have!

Nate and I just returned from Maui after 7 days. Dad had taken the boys on Thanksgiving down to his parents. The boys shot guns with their cousins, played tackle football, rode on 4-wheelers and had a good 'ole Carder good time.

He then brought them back home to Channahon (4 hour trip), showered them, tucked them in and took them to our church on Sunday. He proceeded to wash their muddy clothes, lay out their school clothes and prepare them for a great week.

During the week my dad cleaned out our garage, cleaned out my refrigerator, cleaned my house so deeply that it probably feels naked, baked warm cookies for the boys each day, fixed meals each night, sewed Carder's blanket and did a WONDERFUL job spoiling the boys.

I cannot imagine any other man, grandfather or dad that is so able to be hunter, fisherman, handyman, seamstress, cook and baker. As lucky as my dad was to have my mom, I think mom was even luckier.

I came back a refreshed me. Dad knew that his babygirl needed a break. Only a parent can have a love that deep. So deep that when he is hurting the worst, he still serves and helps his daughter to help her heart heal.

God's love is like that. I AM SO FORTUNATE for the parents that I have. Often times, people feel bad for me in the absence of siblings. God more than made up for whatever I may have missed by granting me two of the best parents any gal could ask for.

He is now making the 4 hour trek back to Southern Illinois, before he starts out for the 13 hour drive to South Carolina tomorrow. I love you Daddy!

Friday, November 20, 2009

My Dear Jamie

When I say, BEST FRIEND, who comes to your mind? If you are like me, you run through life and think of the many, many best friends you are surrounded by. Someone that I work for once said, "Oh that's your other 5th best friend." I have so many wonderful women in my life whose friendship I adore and treasure.

However, if I say, "CHILDOOD BEST FRIEND," I bet only one name pops into your mind. My childhood best friend, high school partner in crime, and maid of honor in my wedding was Jamie. She was the person that first caused milk to come out of my nose because I laughed so hard. She is the person that cried with me over my first broken heart, the person that sang off-key with me in my first car that had no radio, she was my friend when my mom first had cancer, she was my childhood best friend, and she is still the smartest person I have encountered on this earth.

When mom passed away this year she wrote pages of memories about her time at our house with mom. When important life events happen, we always reconnect and say we need to see more of each other, and then life moves forward and we lose touch again.

Well, today I am heading back to our hometown to be there as she buries her son, Jake. He was only able to grace this earth for a few short days. Why is it that life has to be so damn hard? Why is it that hurt cannot be spared from anyone? I don't know the answers to those questions, but I do know that if it were not for friendship this world would be a lonely horrible place.

I ask anyone reading this blog to say a prayer for my sweet, sweet friend. She and her husband Tim are going to need extraordinary strength that can only come from the Lord to make it through these next few weeks, holidays, years and life.

I ached to see, hug and comfort my friend. I wish more than anything she could be spared from this grief. As another great friend of mine says, friendship helps multiply the love and divides the grief. I hope that is in someway true.

If I have learned anything through the many sorrows I have witnessed in my adult life, it is that we are never promised tomorrow. We must embrace the day, love those in our path, and live each day to glorify our Lord and Savior because everything else just doesn't matter.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A New Reason To Smile

It's a BOY.

Twice today I received that news. My cousin, Shannon is going to have a boy. From what I understand his name will be Colin. HOW EXCITING! He is looking healthy and active, and Shannon told me via text that he was very active. He will be here in April, and our family needs a little added smile.

My one wish is that Mom could have been around to tell Aunt Vicki, "I told you so." Even Vicki was a little shocked by how crazy my parents became about their grandchildren. No two people have ever morphed into crazy loons like my parents morphed when I gave birth. However, I think when Shannon's little Colin arrives, we will see several people go insanely crazy with pampering and spoiling.

Second, I heard that Lindy gave birth to healthy Chase Ryan. My eyes filled with tears as I praised God for a wonderful delivery. My heart lept for joy as I cannot begin to imagine the incredible emotion that surrounded their family today. (One year ago, Lindy was on her honeymoon when she heard the news that she had lost her sister, niece[age 1] and nephew[age 3] to car accident -- they were hit by a drunk driver)

Life goes on. It is a hard reality. Yet, it also makes you treasure and choose more wisely. Today I am so grateful for the joy that is available if we just open up enough to enjoy it.

I cannot wait to meet Colin. I will have to take my mom's role in spoiling. Hmmmm, hard task, I think not!




Saturday, November 14, 2009

Advent Calendar

Today was a fun day. It started with Nate buying a circular saw and helping the boys build a make-shift fort for their nerf gun wars. It continued with both boys playing outside all afternoon since it was an unseasonably beautiful day, and in the meantime Nate squeezed in one of the last rounds of golf of the year.

After working, I decided it would probably be the best day to get a lot of Christmas decorating done. Carder helped me unpack many of the knick-knacks, wreaths, lights and garland. As I placed mom's picture with some sentimental items around it, Carder said, "You can't put that there, where will we put our thing with all the drawers and prizes?"

He was referring to our advent calendar. Every year, mom lovingly fills the boxes with toys, money, etc. Also each year at Thanksgiving she delivers it quietly to me without the boys knowing. As I looked at those sweet little eyes, my eyes filled with tears.

There are just so many things that I took for granted. So many memories that I cherish and yet to think of creating new memories without her causes unbelievable anguish. It will be a new type of Christmas. Each day as the boys open those drawers it will remind me of her smile.

My promise to mom was that I would live a great life. Some of the last words that I whispered to her, "I will be happy, I promise." As we enter the Holiday season my promise seems very hard to keep, and yet it is that very promise that causes me to embrace each day, memory and new tradition with joy.



Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Weekend Of Fun


Carder, Seth, Kaden, Ella, Drew, Riley and Whittaker!
Whew! What a GREAT group of kids, and fun for our
Ferguson Thanksgiving!

Cousins Carder and Ella are excited for Whittaker's dedication!

Kaden and Seth....hmmm...Who is the bigger boy?

Ferguson Family Bingo.....Drew WINS!

Grandpa Charlie and Drew

Grandma Missy and Whittaker

It was definitely a fun-filled, relaxing weekend. The kids have us hopping, and they are sweet, sweet, sweet. Puzzles, bingo, soccer, s'mores, turkey, church, chili, sunshine................LIFE IS FULL OF BLESSINGS!







Monday, November 9, 2009

Shocking Wave

Today is one of those shocking wave days. Living life, working, talking, texting--Then it hits. That shocking wave of grief that comes like a mountain crashing on your chest. It isn't a choice whether or not to feel it. The choice comes in how you handle the wave.

I could hold my breath and wait for it to pass. Pretend that the wave was a rarity that won't occur again in regular intervals.

I could try to ignore it and continue on like life is normal. Of course that would be like being in the ocean and opening my mouth and refusing to swim as the wave hit. Ignoring a wave of grief could just as easily kill my spirit.

Sometimes in grief, just when you think you have a handle on somethings, a big wave comes through. Today I REALLY miss mom. I want to talk to her about everything. I want to discuss my business, my marriage, my kids, my turkey dinner, my LIFE. I wish we could just have one more really long talk. She was my core of strength, and my very best friend.

Instead, I have to learn to tread water as this wave comes. It does not mean I do not experience joy or stop living. But it does mean, that I have to take the time to remember, cry and grieve. I have learned to embrace the shocking waves, because another is coming as sure as the sun rises in the east.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Holiday of Gratefulness

I love November. Thanksgiving is absolutely my favorite holiday all year long. I love it because it is about thanking God for our many blessings. It is a time to gather with family to reconnect and laugh and love.

I have so much to be thankful for, and so many reasons to celebrate this wonderful life.

It will be hard on our hearts this year. I am cooking a turkey for Nate's family this weekend. So many times I have wanted to call mom in the last few days just so that she could laugh at me trying to cook. I am determined to enjoy this holiday as that is what she would desire for me. Her love and her life is to precious to be the constant reason for tears.

As I prepare for our first guests of the season to arrive tonight I am really making every effort to be "in the mood" for celebrating life. Just like the title of this blog, "Choosing To Live A Great Life," every situation is a choice. I can choose to be sad and have difficult holidays, or I can choose to celebrate the blessings that are here and now. I'm not blind to the fact that there will be piercing memories and shocking waves of grief, but it is my choice to make those the rare moments rather than the entirity of the holiday.

So, with that, I am off to put away groceries, turn on the music and wait for my nieces, nephews and wonderful family to arrive.

Life is not fair, but God is SOOOOOOOO Good!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Character

Someone that I really respect says, "Character is the ability to persist with a decision long after the emotion that helped you make that decisions is gone."

My rendition of that is, "Character is not determined in the upswing."

Sometimes life can be hard. Sometimes it is easier to look at all that is wrong with the world rather than what is right. It can often seem like there are few joys to experience, enjoy and share.

The reality is that just like beauty, joy is in the eye of the beholder. Just watch a toddler. Joy is never more than a moment away. New sights, new discoveries, the smile of a loved one, the promise of candy, everything brings a new source of joy.

As I enter the holiday season, I hope I can focus on the joys it will bring rather than the sorrow and longing for mom. I hope I can see the world through her eyes as she walks along the streets of gold and waits for us to arrive. I hope that I never think joy comes from external circumstances.

Character is a funny thing. You think you have it, and then life shoots you an unexpected blow. Reality is that character is actually defined and displayed in the face of adversity. If you cannot show it there, it doesn't really exist.

I think my character needs to be formed. Maybe that is what I hear mom whispering in my ear, "This is the grit I've been telling you about for years, honey."

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A New Season

I love fall. This year, however, fall seems to bring a new season into our family in many different ways.

Every change of season brings about a new beginning. Some love spring and summer, and some even love winter. I personally love fall, and yet others see it as an end to the good part of the year. Seasons remind me of the trials we face in life. And no matter what life may hand you, it is not the circumstance that defines your happiness, it is how you decide to think and feel and react to the circumstance that defines not only your contentment but also your character.

I am learning to stop and enjoy the true joys life has to offer. Lunch with an old friend, laughter that makes your side hurt, little boys laughing, my dad's smile, running into old friends. I believe that a life with purpose is one that makes others better.

That was why my mom was so great. She made others around her better. As I enter into the thankful season, I am really going to try to work on living a life of gratitude and joy. Because honestly, what better thing does this life offer us than joy?

We just returned from a weekend at a hotel so that Kaden could swim. His smile told it all. The joy of a 9 year old swimming for the first time in 4 months. The sound of his laugh and the sight of his glowing face as he plunged in over and over is one that will be with me for a long time.

It is a true reminder that the greatest things in life are free. Really and truly they are.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Wizards

My youngest son Carder is so much like mom. Nate claims he is a mini-me, but in truth he is a mini-mom. They have the same hilarious way about them. They share the same temper, but they also share a fierce loyalty and sweetness with those they are close to.

On Saturday night, Kaden went to a sleepover with a friend and Carder and I went on a date since his dad was down with the flu. As we were eating, Carder said to me: (paraphrase)

When I grow up I don't want to be a superhero. Superheros have to wear funny costumes and work a lot. They have to save people and go in burning buildings. No, when I grow up I want to be a wizard. They can cast spells and get whatever they want. Mom, you know what my first spell is going to be?

"No, Carder, what is your first spell going to be (thinking invisible or candy machine)"

I'm going to make a tube from Heaven to here so Gaga can come and visit us. Because I know you say she is happy but I think she would be happier if she could talk to me and I could tell her my jokes.

"I can't wait for you to become a wizard, Carder." To that he smiled and said,

Oh mom, you know there is no such thing as wizards. We just really miss Gaga don't we?

Out of the mouths of babes. Sometimes it is easier to plan and believe in fantasy than to deal in reality. I saw pictures today on facebook of dear, dear family friends. Friends that mom and dad knew in high school. As I looked at the picture of their daughter's wedding, I could just hear what she would be saying.

People say that time heals. True. Time allows you to learn to cope, learn to find joy, learn to move forward. The word heal though seems to final like it is an end destination. I would say time removes the ugliness from the loss. Just like a cut or incision, your skin never truly heals, but because of God's incredible design through bleeding, forming a scab and new skin growing, the ugliness of that damage goes away.

My heart has been damaged, and I still cry what my friend calls, "the ugly cry" quite often. I can envision times to come that the ugliness will dissipate and be filled with a scar on my heart that I gladly share with a smile. In the meantime, thinking of mom and sharing her here brings me joy and relief.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Shopping

Yesterday was just a beautiful day in Chicagoland area. My appointments for work cancelled and I decided that it was a perfect day to go shopping. I headed off for an outdoor shopping mall in Aurora.

As I walked around, everything reminded me of my mom. Some of our happiest memories came when we would spend the day laughing, eating and buying. Actually, we spent most of our time looking and agreeing that we didn't really need it.

When I first walked into the center, there was a big sign that announced "Talbots Coming Soon." I thought, "Oh I need to call mom." Funny, I don't think that thought process will ever end. Then later, as I was walking I saw a Chicos, and tears flooded my eyes. The last time I was in a Chicos mom and I were buying clothes for her trip to Europe.

I love that I have no regrets. I absolutely adored my relationship with my mom. I wouldn't have changed it. It fulfilled us both in very different ways. Rather than spending my time wondering why it had to be short or why life had to be unfair, I have found myself spending more time being so so thankful that Norma Carder was my mom.

So many people are not given the blessing of having a person like her anywhere or anytime in their life. I got to have her as my MOM! There is so much I daily do to better my life that came from what she taught me.

Today is another BEAUTIFUL day, and I intend to laugh and enjoy in honor of how great she was. I'm sure she's laughing and enjoying and brightening someone's day in heaven.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Grit Steeped in Feeling

Recently, someone coined this phrase about my mom.

"Grit steeped in feeling."

I have that type of resolve going on in me right now. I am excited to proclain that I am excited about something. I haven't felt that emotion in a very long time. I have pushed to find joy. I have perservered to find purpose. I have stretched to see logic in a crazy mixed up world, but never did I even dare think about feeling excited again.

When you are in the midst of dark grief its like all previous life was a fantasy. When you experience loss that strikes you to your core you start to look for a new life, a new way to live and think and love, because you know that the old life, old thinking and old relationships will never be the same.

That is all true. So, my excitement about a new adventure has surprised me and given me hope for enjoyment of this coming year.

Of course, following in mom's path this excitement is found in my business. With my new outlook on life, fortunately, I now don't come down on myself for this. I don't feel guilt or judgement. I just realize it is the way God wired me and the way mom raised me. I like it. No, actually, I love it.

I am dedicated to be one of the top 14 businesses in my company this next year. I found out today that it will be harder than I could ever imagine, yet I am capable. It will be a stretch. It will cause me to grow in many facets, and stating in writing that I WILL MAKE MY COMPANY'S PRESIDENT'S CLUB causes me to shutter and think, "But what if I fail?"

Well, if I fail, I will fail trying not hiding. If I fail, I will fail living not dying. If I fail, I will fail forward not backwards. If I fail I will fail with the help of those I love and not without it. If I fail, I will fail for short-term not long term.

But guess what..... I WILL NOT FAIL. I will be on President's Club. I will wear my mom's crazy Clark loafers that she wore to her first and only awards banquet for my company. I will wear them when I'm worried. I will wear them when I'm confident. I will wear them when I win.

I AM EXCITED!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Mom, The Business Woman

Today I read a wonderful tribute to my mom today. Her boss sent me an email containing his contribution to her journals. During my mom's celebration service we had journals all over the tables for people to write memories so that my boys could have great memories of my mom.

Greg gave me several pages of heart today. One of my favorite parts of my mother was her business sense. Her tenacity to work and achieve. I feel that on a daily, hourly, minute-by-minute basis. However, there are other parts of my life I feel too. Daughter, wife, granddaughter, mother, friend, woman. I know my mom felt all those roles. There is a smile that crosses my face though when I think of her work ethic, her joy in the struggle.

I have always loved my work. Whether is was Steak n' Shake, teaching, or running my business, I have always taken pride in doing a good job. I get this from my mom. While there may be times that I live out of balance, while there may be times that I work too hard, I feel good today knowing she would understand, agree and even smile at that part of me.

I love all that my mom created in me. My life is full because of her, not empty.

I will fulfill my promise to her....My life will be great and full and happy.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Enjoying the Moments

Sometimes in life it is hard to say, "I had a great day."

So, I am learning rather to look for moments. I had a LOT of great moments today. My grandma is in the hospital, and I am worried about her. But one really great thing happened while I was visiting today. I told her that she needed to eat, and I told her I was going to check up on her, and she said, "I'm not scared of you."

I laughed. I laughed really hard. That was a great comment. Of course, she isn't scared of me. I would hope not. She changed my diapers, took me to Disney World, taught me to use the right fork, and shared many treasured stories of my mom's upbringing with me.

Another great moment came when Popsie and I went to lunch. We shared stories, shared a great meal and glass of wine together. We also walked out to the garden and learned that we neither one know what a "good thump" on a watermelon means. For real, what does it mean when people say, "you know it's ripe by how it sounds when you thump it?" Well, Popsie and I figured it out when we cut it open and it was red inside. We both laughed.

I had a lot of great moments today. I learned of new life living inside of some people I love. I shared laughter and anticipation with them.

Each day brings trouble, stress and worry. However, I am learning that it is enjoying the moments that begins to bring relief from the grief and joy and love back to life. I miss mom. I miss the moments, but I am learning to live and love the way that she did.

Off to enjoy more moments.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Making The Best Of a Really Bad Situation!

Last year, my company announced the annual meeting would be held in Orlando! FANTASTIC! Mom and Dad have a timeshare there. Mom and Dad were so excited to be in charge of the boys while I attended meetings and Nate lounged by the pools and played a little golf.

April 2009, mom passes away, and we really consider canceling the family trip. However, we decide it will be great for all of us to get away.
June of 2009, Kaden falls through the ceiling and ends up with casts on his left-hand side of his body. We decide he will be much better by then and still keep the trip on the books.
August of 2009, we learn that Kaden still cannot put ANY pressure on his leg, so we will be wheelchair bound in Disney.

THE TRIP! While there were many obstacles to overcome it was a delightful trip for all. Kaden was such a trooper. Nate was a SUPERHERO dad, and Carder couldn't have been more understanding and polite. Dad was glad to be with his boys and continued to spoil them as only GaGa knew how.






Sometimes life throws curveballs and other times it seems that you are continually being hit by the pitch, yet there is always the choice for peace and enjoyment. I'm not saying this wasn't one of the hardest weeks of my life in many ways. It totally was. However, I know that I am blessed to be surrounded by people that choose to see the silver lining in every storm cloud. Praise God for my amazing family. We learned a lot from mom in that way and I hope we can continue to live the way that she taught us to live.






Friday, August 7, 2009

Peeking Through The Gray

During the past few days I feel like I am peeking through the gray of grief. Grief to me feels like a GIANT cloud. I know there is land, I know there is sunshine, I know there is beauty, but I just see gray.

After some much needed time alone with God, I think I feel myself peeking through the gray every once in awhile. I still feel myself being overwhelmed by little things that didn't use to cause me a second moment's thought. Yet, I have days that are productive and even purposeful.

The title of this blog keeps me honest. It really is a choice to have a great life. I am choosing to live my days on purpose and with great character. Part of great character I believe is to know and admit your weaknesses and be honest with yourself and those around you.

For any of my family, you already know this, but my greatest weakness is communication. I am so day-to-day focused, task-oriented that relationships and communication are a weakness. It's not a lack of love or interest, it is just a weakness. I am going to work on being better with this. I think I'm going to have to make lists...LOL.

Anyway, today mom has been on my mind a lot. I got my hair done, and she would just love it. I can just hear her say, "Well I'm sure its pretty but not as pretty as me." Oh how I miss her. We got some GREAT news in our family today. She would be thrilled. I'm sure she new before we did, but nevertheless it would have been great to talk to her about it.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Missing Her In The Good Times

Today has been a wonderful day. I felt like myself today. I was able to multi-task. I enjoyed a GREAT day at church. I worked on things from my computer while the kids practiced guitar and played the wii. I organized a sleepover and had a training call while feeding crazed neighbor kids pizza. I like to multi-task. I like to feel like my day has been productive.

Then as I settle down to get ready to jump in my bath tub, I think "I'd love to tell mom today was a good day." The boys are so happy, smiling and loving God. Carder called Papaw today and his first question was, "So, how was your church today?"

I am so proud of them. I just want to share the goodness with her too. There are not many people besides your mom that you can brag about your children to. So while I felt great today, as I am typing tears are just rolling down my cheeks.

Will the ache ever lessen? Funny, in a weird sort of way I hope that it doesn't. Yet in another way, I really need to have more days that I can function in a normal way. How does life ever even out? Or does it?

Living in such a way that there are no regrets means living it to the fullest. Now, my fullest means tears are normal...I guess that is the new normal everyone keeps talking about.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom!

Mom would have been 57 today. We would have talked. We would have talked about our month-ends and about how having birthdays at the end of the month is no fun with our jobs. Then, we would have giggled and said that we secretly like it that way. Dad would have been planning to take mom out, and mom would have been scurrying to get things done at work so she could be ready. I would have told her that she is the best mom anyone could wish for and she would have said, "I know honey, you are lucky to have me," and then we would both just giggle.

I don't feel like she's been gone for four months, and yet I long to just talk to her. I miss her so much that my bones hurt. My sweet, sweet grandma called this morning, and just simply said, "We will get through it today." I can't even begin to imagine her pain or Popsie's. As much as I yearn for mom I cannot imagine losing my child.

57 reasons why I think my mom was THE BOMB!

1. When she would get really tickled, she would simulate holding her nose like she could somehow hold the tears of laughter in by doing that.
2. She was always using fake tanners and turning her eyebrows orange, and then she would say, "Well at least I don't need an eyebrow pencil."
3. She was my best friend.
4. She had great style yet insisted on comfy shoes---like naturalizers and clarks.
5. She could laugh at herself.
6. She read The Scripture everyday.
7. She'd always say "That's my gift" when talking about her temper or other weaknesess, because we always were in search of ours since singing and playing the piano were definitely in our makeup.
8. When she loved, it was unconditional.
9. She would buy way to much clutter, and then call me to tell me, "I just bought another thing you're gonna hate."
10. She supported me in EVERY aspect of my life without judgement.
11. When referring to Carder's temper tantrums she would say, "You just don't understand how mad we get, and if you did you wouldn't punish him."
12. She would often say, "God love him." or "God love you." in the most affectionate way.
13. Daily she prayed for my family's protection by God.
14. For years she thought Robert Redford was the hottest thing walking.
15. She would affectionately talk about Daddy and say, "Oh honey he is just sweetest, prickly guy ever." What she meant was, Dad has his own way of doing things, but a SUPER Great heart.
16. She loved Diana Ross.
17. She taught me a long bath can cure almost any ailment.
18. Chocolate and sweets were her diet.
19. She drank bitter red wine and called my wine syrup.
20. She had grit.
21. She knew how to be a great friend even when others didn't know how to be it for her.
22. She cursed out many, many fast food drive thrus after pulling away to find the wrong order.
23. She never complained.
24. She would say about Kaden, "He is going to do Great things, Rachelle."
25. She didn't like crowds.
26. She didn't like to be looked at, so when she got her new "bug" she got so embarrassed because everyone kept looking at her that she drove dad's vehicle.
27. She called her parents everyday.
28. She would always laugh and say, "You can have XYZ when I die, but now that doesn't mean you should tell them to pull the plug if I sneeze."
29. She was clumsy.
30. She didn't mind if people didn't like her.
31. She was drawn to intelligent people, and stretched herself to grow.
32. During chemotherapy when she was 35 and I was 14, She was so sick, but wanted to go places. So, I would drive her around and it was "our secret."
33. She loved daisies.
34. After Christmas she would buy tons and tons of JUNK, then the next year bring it all to me and tell me I could give it away. I would say, "Why don't you give it" and she would say, "My friends are classier than yours." We would just laugh and laugh.
35. She loved RED.
36. No obstacle was ever too big in her mind. NONE.
37. After her brain injury from the car accident, she would take IQ tests to make sure she was still smart.
38. Everytime we would get ready together, in my teens or even the last week of March, she would say, "Keep working, you are almost as pretty as me."
39. She flew overnight and changed planes twice just to spend an evening with me for my business last year. Little did we know it would be our one and only time to share that part of my life together.
40. She was hilarious.
41. She learned to text just so we could talk more.
42. She was completely fair and honest.
43. She was a runner.
44. Even though I was her only child, she never thought or expected me to be perfect or to be her life. She gave me what she had so I could live mine.
45. She was the ultimate GaGa.
46. She learned to cook and bake when I got pregnant because, "All grandma's have to learn to cook."
47. She learned to Scuba Dive.
48. We always wanted to go to the Holy Land together.
49. She was the ultimate worrier. After Grandma Bertha died, she became the world's best worrier.
50. She was a prayer warrior. She prayed all of the time all day long.
51. She would often say, "My Father will take care of that for you." She was speaking of her Heavenly Father.
52. She loved polkadots
53. She taught me that laughter is the best part of every marriage.
54. She loved Gatlinburg but hated country music.
55. She was adventurous.
56. She was great at balancing all life brought her.
57. She loved me, and she was and is my hero.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Moving Forward In BABY Steps

Aaah, the smile of one cast being removed. While it wasn't the day or good news we were expecting, we are all relieved for Kaden that his wrist has healed and is showing to be in perfect working order.

Then, there is the leg. The good news: the bone is still straight. He didn't experience great pain at the removal of the cast. The bad news: he had to have the whole leg cast put back on. The bone regrowth was minimal.

We put on great faces, smiled and ate lunch as a family. However, inside I am just so angry. I am so ready to be done with all of this. I don't understand why my little peanut has to always be the worst case scenario. 1% chance of surgery, that was him. 1% of pain after surgery that was him. Most probable to have bone regrowth and be in a smaller cast today, guess what? Yep, didn't quite meet the norm. I just hate it for him.

I hate it for all of us. It is wearing on us as a family. It is wearing on my business, Nate's passion, Carder's patience. And poor Kaden, he is so tired of this.

Ok, enough for the whining. The way I should be looking at this is that we will be healed. He will run and play again next spring.

What I wouldn't give to just have one more happy day with mom. With all of this knowledge, all of these trials, I would go back and live it up. What a lesson to be learned. Live a GREAT life every moment you have the chance, and don't let ANY silly circumstance cheat you of a minute of true happiness.

Praise be to God for his goodness. Please join me in prayer for bone regrowth to be amazing in Kaden's leg.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Great Living is Such a Choice

Friday night dark clouds gathered, the temperature dropped incredibly, and, yet we loaded our vehicle with sandwiches, snacks and sweet tea and headed for Cellular Field. It was FIREWORKS night, and Kaden was so excited. Never mind that we couldn't sit down close, never mind that he had to be wheeled in and sit uncomfortably for hours, never mind that when he had to use the bathroom as a nine year old his dad had to help him! Kaden was GRATEFUL, KIND AND FULL OF SWEETNESS!

That was completely his choice. He could have said, "Never Mind" when we brought up the idea. He could have complained of the long travel in traffic, the bad seats, the uncomfortable seat or the bad weather, but instead he CHOSE to enjoy the evening.

Because of his decision, it will probably go down as one of our favorite nights as a family. I know it will always be one of favorite Sox games. Yes, they won. He even got to see a grand slam. But more than the game, it was just his attitude and the spirit of our family that I will remember.

I still struggle on a daily basis to choose greatness. At mom's service I was struck by how many people thought of her as a GREAT woman and a GREAT friend and a GREAT leader, yet I know in the day to day grind she didn't feel that great. It really isn't a monumental accomplishment or goal achieved that causes greatness. It is the daily decision to be the better person, take the higher road and love more deeply.

I find that lately my nerves are just shot. I'm on edge. I know part of that is grief, but ALL of it is a choice. Kaden has taught me so much with his attitude, and I only hope to live a life with some degree of joy that he exudes.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Crazy Driven OR Driven Crazy

Of all places I heard this statement on a commercial on the Disney Channel today.

I am crazy driven about my business. I love my business. I love what I do. I love feeling the emotions of accomplishment. I love having something that says "Rachelle" instead of "mom" "wife" or worse yet "pastor's wife."

I am crazy driven about being a mom. I love hearing my boys say, "You are the best mom in the whole world," or the unprovoked, "I love you, mom." My boys are my world, and I cannot imagine a day not filled with their sweetness.

I am crazy driven about being a good wife. I love Nate. I love working hard at helping him accomplish his dreams, and I love knowing I am being the helpmate God designed.

I am crazy driven about being a good daughter. I love pleasing my parents. I always have. There is nothing more precious in the world than to see them smile in true admiration of respecting something I have done.

I am driven crazy by trying to juggle grief, caring for my child and the expectations I put on myself as I try to wear the hats of friend, biz owner, mom, wife and daughter.

A lot of people think I need to slow down in my business. However, the funny thing is that is where I feel the best. I know mom always felt that way too. I recently had some things happen in my business that made me feel like a failure, and I know mom would have had the right words. In fact, I just pulled out an email from mom today. In it she said,

"I'm struggling here. These past few weeks have been an onslaught of workload, change and responsibility. I have a new boss, new plant manager and utter chaos surrounding me. Just this past Sunday, the sermon really spoke to me and I realized the root cause of the problem is my lack of faith. This week has been better. I ask the Father each morning to help me turn to Him for EVERY issue - big or small. And, I ask Him to let me see Him and I do (when I look)."

I miss mom. I really miss her. She loved to work. She loved her family. She loved her friends and she really loved God and trusted him. She never judged me for loving to work, because she realized religion, rules and stereotypes don't have any place in our lives, only faith. When I had a bad day I could call her, and she really, really understood. I feel like my life source is gone, and I don't know how to pull myself through the crazy days anymore.

It used to be that when I had been driven crazy, I'd call mom. Now, it seems I just go crazy. Uggghhh...

Monday, July 6, 2009

Blooming!


Daisies have been a special flower for me for years and years. As a little girl going through my mom's hope chest there were all kinds of them that were pressed and crumbling.
Mom would get out the wedding album and the GREAT BIG Family Bible and show me the flowers from the day she had married Dad.
Later in life, daisies gained a new meaning to me because they are also July's flower. Oddly enough my mother's birthday is in July. However, a special little boy named Devin was also born in July, and as a group of loving friends and prayer warriors, we would meet daily to pray for him daily, we posted a large daisy on the door of the classroom where we prayed, and above the daisy it said, "Flower Power."
My sweet, sweet husband gives me a present on the first day of every month. On July 1st he gave me daisies to plant in the backyard. He was not aware of the significance of the month, but he did know that daisies were my moms favorite.
Today as I walked out on my patio, I smiled as I watered the daisies in full bloom. I think about mom and Devin in heaven, and I know they are in full bloom enjoying greatness we cannot fathom. It doesn't take away any of the hurt, sadness or longing, but it does give me strength to complete another day.
I look forward to the day that it is not so difficult to just focus. I look forward to really enjoying a day again. Not too long before mom died, she said she enjoyed seeing the sparkle in my eye again. She recognized I had found true happiness and satisfaction in my business, children and life. I ache to feel that again, I ache to be the daughter she raised me to be.
I know it will come for me, and now I'm just resting in the peace of knowing she is in full bloom.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

So, It's Been Awhile

The last two and half weeks have been anything but normal. I struggle still every hour of every day missing mom. I miss her advice. I miss her constant presence. I miss her humor when life just sucks. I just miss her. I had a really bad event occur in my business this month, and I can just hear her say, "Well honey, if it is going to happen to someone, it is going to happen to you."

I could complain, I could describe the stress or trials, but really why? Here is the important piece: Kaden is ok. His leg will heal, and our family will be just fine. What is money? Really, it means nothing at the end of the day.

Thanks to all of our wonderful friends and family. Really, how could we get through day by day without them. We had friends from our church build a ramp so we can wheel Kaden out the front door. We had others bring movies, cards, flowers, games and just about anything you could ask for. We had people praying all over the country for Kaden as he entered surgery.

If there is anything that mom taught me it was, "Life is not fair! But God is Good." He is.

As the 4th of July dawns every year, I think of sweet Devin Cole. He only graced this earth 23 months, and yet his courageous parents and grandparents live a life that honors who he was. I'm sure Devin looks down from heaven with pride, and I can only hope to live that type of life for mom as well.

May God truly bless anyone that is reading this that is struggling to find the purpose of living in joy. I pray that you will find the strength to live a GREAT life no matter your circumstance.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sometimes It Just Gets Harder

Trying to run a business, raise happy healthy kids, be a supportive wife, minister to those in need, offer a hand of friendship, be a supportive wife, grieve and share with dad, and grieve myself seemed like more than I could handle. Well, they always say don't be too proud to ask for help. So that is what I did. I went to see a grief counselor a few weeks ago. It really helped.

Then, last night, it just got harder. Kaden and Carder were playing in the storage area of the new church office when they kicked their ball into the loft area. Kaden went in search of the ball, and noticed it actually landed on the opposite side where there were just little white tiles. He took a couple of steps towards the ball and fell 10 feet through the false ceiling.


At that point, I received a phone call during my business presentation. I could hear my son screaming in the background, hear Nate's calm yet very scared voice, and off I went to the ER driving 90 miles an hour. The whole way there I just wanted to talk to mom.

An hour later we looked at Xrays showing us a broken wrist and broken tibia bone. Kaden was in extreme pain even with vicadin and ibuprofen. I laid beside him as he cried, and thought, " All I want to do is call mom."



Today, we were able to get the casts and we got the prognosis that it will 4-5 weeks for the wrist and 8-10 weeks for the leg. Kaden was SUPER brave, and we are glad the pain has subsided for the most part.
Sometimes it seems, life just gets harder. It also all seems so fragile. Tonight I'm just full of fear, hurt and incredible pain all over again. I miss mom so much. Dad is on his way tomorrow. I know it is time to "get tough" but all I want to do is hide in my house and pretend I'm in a bubble.
Yet, for mom.....I WILL NOT! I will laugh, enjoy and live, and someday it won't be an incredibly difficult choice to just get dressed. And still in all of this, I praise God. He is not measured in my heart by the conditions of this world, rather I know his sacrifice gives me hope of a place and a life much better than this.










Saturday, June 13, 2009

Remembering and Creating At The Same Time


I don't think this picture does it justice. What the Carder family commonly refers to as "Sugar Cookies" is not what the average american expects. These German shortbread cookies take buttermilk, shortening, butter, 4 c of flour and lots of love.
Dad spent time with Grandma Carder last week learning the special tricks that mom had spent a day learning as well. Today, Dad and I felt like we accomplished the world's greatest feat when Carder took a bite of our sugar cookies and said, "Just like Gaga's!"
Dad leaves for South Carolina tomorrow. I know this is part of the process, but I just wish he was already living back in Illinois. He wants to be here as bad as we wish he was. There is healing going on, and I see that there is so much to enjoy in life. He is making progress on finding the perfect residence, and we are making plans for weeks to come. However, the distance seems to make the grieving worse at this point. I'm sure it is just in our minds, but I'm sure gonna miss him.
Regardless, sometimes the overwhelming sadness hits when you least expect it. Mom filled so many roles in my life that I just still can't believe that she is gone. I received an award for business this month and the first thing I wanted to do was call her. I think of the accomplishments that I have in life, and they just aren't the same without her smile and praise. It's funny. I didn't realize until she was gone just how much I did in efforts to please her and share with her.
Nevertheless, God is good, and hope is knowing through Christ our time apart is so, so short.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

God Loves Me and Likes Me!

If you have loved someone, truly loved them, then you understand that statement. There are times that I love people but I sure don't like them at the moment. People that we love can sure disappoint us. They can make us so angry we want to scream, cry, spit or swear.

Mom would always say it isn't important if everyone likes you. It is important that the Father likes you.

What she meant is that God ALWAYS loves us. His grace is ALWAYS sufficient and that is not based on my actions, but there are times that we disappoint God, when he would "not like us " even though he loved us for the moment.

So when I look at whether people like me or not, I have to be honest and say, it always bothers me when they don't. However, it bothers me more if God would be disappointed in me if I changed my action.

For instance, sometimes doing the right thing for a friend may upset the friend. It may make them dislike me in the moment, or even for a long time. However, if I feel my action glorifies God and may bring others closer to Him, then my action must always be for his affection not that of my peers.

This is especially hard in business. Sometimes making the moral decision means losing money. It may mean putting off a promotion or actions may even be considered "mean" when dealing with moral vs. money decisions.

Mom was so wise. She would always tell me. There is absolutely NO WAY to make everyone like you. The important thing is that God likes you.

So I am encouraged that today I may not have made money. I may not have made new friends, but I know God liked me today, and that makes today a better day.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Everything I Do!

In everything I do, I am reminded of mom. That is so good and so bad at the same time.

Because the church office has now moved to an off-our-home-site location, we have some new found room in our basement. In hopes to busy myself with a project, I have focused on turning the larger room into a game room for the boys. As we were putting DVD's away tonight, I realized almost every movie was a gift for the boys from mom. I realized there would be no more. It's as if Kaden realized it at the same moment. He said, "I miss Gaga." That cut my heart in a way I just can't express.

Carder came to cuddle me as I cried early this afternoon and his blanket has rips and holes that mom would always fix with him when she came. It is just such a realization every minute of everyday that she was a HUGE part of who I am, and now I am left with a hole I just don't know how to repair.

I just miss mom. I am so glad she was a part of every part, but now I just don't know how to put the pieces back together. I guess this is what you call a bad day. Some are better, some are harder, some are just bad. Tomorrow is a hope of better.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Gotta Love The Teen Years!

You know, to me, there is no more torturous time in life than middle school and high school. You are trying to figure out who you are, while at the same time being surrounded by others that are doing the same thing. So many people from so many different faiths, families and economic conditions all thrown together and told....be friends, grow up and be happy.

Whatever! It was during these years that I think mom's influence really marked me. She would tell me over and over again that popularity usually meant insecurity. I would shrug my shoulders and roll my eyes, but as life pressed on I realized what she meant. If everyone thinks you are great, and everyone is from different places in life, then you must be a different person with everyone.

Jesus on the other hand was true to what he knew. Some loved him, some dismissed him, some ignored him and others hated him. However, in every circumstance he was the same.

It's funny. The time we spent in the garage talking for hours (Dad wouldn't let her smoke in the house so we would sit in the garage and have our mother-daughter chats), has molded the very fiber of who I am and even how I am trying to grieve. It was through her wisdom I started deciding to care less about what others thought of me and more and more about what God thought of me.

In fact, I remember in High School when boys wouldn't want to date me, I would think, "Hmmm, they don't know what they're missing." It may sound arrogant? Maybe, but actually more like a great sense of knowing who I was and where I was going and how I could love. That's not to say I didn't do my fair share of crushing and crying like the typical teenager.

That confidence stuck with me though and grew from all of those talks with mom. I listened to her talk of how some liked her and some didn't but that she just did the best each day she knew how to do and let God take care of the rest.

My mom was not perfect....LOL...not at all. In my eyes she was pretty darn close, but others may have seen her flaws more vividly. What I know for sure is that she was the same to each and every person she came into contact with on this earth. That security gave me a confidence to live a happy life of my choosing. For that, I am forever grateful. Love you mom.

Monday, May 25, 2009

True Beauty

My mom could spot true beauty from a mile away. Sometimes it seemed she had xray vision into the hearts of others. She would often say, "Isn't she gorgeous," or "Isn't he handsome?" And I would think, "NO." Then she would follow her comment with an act of kindness that she had seen that person commit, or she would talk of their hardships in life and that they always wore a smile anyway.

Mom's eyes were always on the lookout for true beauty.In fact, just this past weekend I was reminded of a saying she would use in reference to L'erin. "She is so beautiful, and it just happens that she looks that way on the outside as well."

Mom was beautiful. She exuded beauty. Her confidence mixed with humbleness truly is a rarity in this day and age. She could laugh at herself, laugh at others and yet love in a bigger, better way than most. So many people said that mom became prettier as she aged. Most of those people were commenting on her outward appearance. However, the older she became the more she looked for the beauty in others. That is what I believe enhanced her beauty each and every day.

I only hope to be half of the woman my mother was. It is so hard now that she is gone to want to be better. It is hard to want to be more. It is so hard to just live. All I ache for is for her to say "I love you" one more time, or for her to say "I'm proud of you" one more time. She was more than my mother, she was my mentor. She was my friend. She was my rock.

She was true beauty.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Make The Most Of The Joys In Life!


I simply cannot put into words the emotions that have flooded the past few days. L'erin is married! L'erin is a doctor! Adam is just amazing, and their wedding truly reflected their love, their hearts and their love for Christ. I could not be more honored to be a part of such an amazing weekend.

Okay, so you really feel old when the kids you babysat for are amazing adults. Alex and L'erin are truly fantastic people that make this earth a better, warmer place to live.

The day could have only been better if mom could have been with us. She was one of L'erin's biggest fans, and I could just hear her saying, "Look Rachelle, isn't she beautiful?" And mom wouldn't have been talking about her outward appearance. I also know that she would have called her "Dr. Harmon" as many times as she could before she became "Dr. Garner."


Nate and I laughed as L'erin and Adam read their vows to one another. I leaned over and said, "Honey, our vows suck!" It may be time to renew them. LOL Regardless of what we said to one another 12 years ago, it must have worked, because we are truly more in love today than we were then. Life has a way of making you see what really matters.

As you see in the picture above, L'erin and Adam placed a bouquet of white daisies with a red ribbon on an empty chair to remember mom. The day was a really difficult day as we know she would have been the life of the party, shoulder to lean on, and happy face for one and all.

At the reception, they played a game of remembering each couple's song. After the game, Alex played, "We've Only Just Begun" which was mom and dad's song. Daddy and I danced, cried and hugged. It didn't seem out of place or inappropriate because we were people who loved her and missed her presence as much as us. It is true, this journey without mom has only just begun for Daddy and I. Each day seems to begin and end but the travel doesn't seem any less difficult.


The blessing that we have is the love we share, the memories we own, and the ability to truly embrace the joys that come. L'erin's wedding is a joy that we have enjoyed making the most of!

















Monday, May 18, 2009

I'm so rich!

So as a little kid I remember saying to my mom, "I wish we were rich." Mom would smile that great big smile everytime and say, "I keep telling you, honey, we are the richest people on earth. Our whole family loves each other."

Over the years, I still constantly thought about how to change my life monetarily. As a teacher and preacher that didn't seem to be part of the plan. Then as I began my own business it was like something inside of my became alive again. My entrepreneurial mind was inherited from both mom and dad, and mom was a huge encouragement and help to me in my business. She said that over the past few years she saw the sparkle come back into my eyes that I had as a young girl, and she loved that I loved to work.

However, the bigger truth to the sparkle was that I liked who I was because I felt like I could use this business to help someone I loved achieve their dream. There is no greater posession than when you share genuine Christ-centered love with people. Since mom's death, her words have never been more true.

I feel guilty because I am surrounded by so many people that genuinely love me. I am truly one of the richest women on earth. I know that I am not my bubbly, fun-loving, call-you-back friend to most of you right now. But please know, your messages, posts, calls and texts make the hardest of moments easier to handle.

Much love to all of you

Thursday, May 14, 2009

For Real No Nagging!

No husband appreciates a naggy wife. Mom taught me this lesson as a very young girl and kept teaching me as we both aged. As mom always did, it was more the way she lived her life that taught me things than the words she actually used.

The Doorknob

In our house in Oblong (before the remodeling after I went to college), we had a door that lead from our kitchen to our garage. We kept the garbage can right outside of that door. Unfortunately, the doorknob was well-worn and would turn and turn and turn before it would catch the latch and actually open the door. This was a problem when you were clearing the table and your hands were full. Mom asked dad to fix it. Of course as life does, time passed and the doorknob was not fixed. Mom never asked dad again. There was the occasional sigh or groan, but NO NAGGING.

Finally, one night as we were clearing the table mom went to turn the doorknob, and it didn't catch. As she turned and turned, she dropped the food and plates in her hand. As frustrated as she was she did not yell or nag, she simply got a hacksaw from the garage and went to work on the doorknob in the only way she knew how.

French Toast

This is a story I have heard my dad tell many times and often in mom's presence. One morning, in the early days of their marriage, my mom fixed french toast for my dad. He had eaten one serving, and mom asked if he liked it and wanted more? As he was finishing his last bite of the first serving, my dad said, "It's good, not quite like my mom's but it's alright." My mom sweetly came over and picked up his plate and walked back into the kitchen where the remaining french toast sat in the skillet. At that point, my mom took the last piece of french toast and threw it outside over the hill, skillet, plate and all. As of April 2009 when mom took her last breath she had never fixed french toast for dad again. Of course, she had never brought it up again either. Everytime the story was told, it was dad laughing and telling of learning a valuable lesson about what to say and what not to say to mom.

Marriage

During one of those early marital fights that all honeymooners experience, I called my mom. I just knew she would be on my side, afterall, I am her baby girl. I literally cannot recall what we were fighting about, but I just knew Nate was really really wrong. So, I called mom telling her about how upset I was, and how stupid I thought Nate was, and how should I handle all of this? Mom's response, "Well honey, what did you expect?" I was so shocked by her response I didn't know what to say. Then she said something that has helped me to put it all in perspective. "Rachelle, we are married to the two best men on the planet, but they are still men. Unless you want to be a lesbian, this is what marriage is!"

That was that. That was her advice. She didn't have to say it, but I knew what she meant. Stop complaining, grow up and deal with it. That is what mom did all of her life. And she was SO happy. Everyone always commented on how happy mom was. She was constantly smiling, constantly seeing the good side, constantly enjoying life.

Husbands don't appreciate naggy wives, and people don't appreciate naggy people. That is why mom was so appreciated. She never demanded things from others. She just looked for ways to serve others and for ways to solve her own problems.

I love you mom! Thanks for all that you taught me!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Norma Carder was an amazing woman, friend and business mind, BUT she was an even more fabulous mother. She taught me so many things. Here is a list of 10 simple truths mom taught me. This sounds cliche but she really did teach me everyone of these things, and over the next few days I'm going to blog about them because she was honestly one the wisest women on earth.

1. No husband appreciates a naggy wife.
2. Being rich means that you have a lot of people that love you.
3. Beauty comes from seeing how beautiful other people can be.
4. Popularity is often a sign of insecurity.
5. Not everyone is going to like you, what is important is that God likes you and you like you.
6. Chocolate fixes almost everything.
7. Jealousy is the ugliest thing on the earth.
8. A mom's love is unconditional.
9. GRIT is a necessity and complaining is not an option.
10. Life's not fair, but God is good.

Happy Mother's Day MOM! I miss you like crazy!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Carder's Goal!

Miracles do happen! Carder had a shot on goal at his soccer game today, and he MADE IT. Two years of soccer and our first goal. He shocked himself, and then turned and pumped his fists in the air to make sure I was watching. Unfortunately, Nate was across the field at Kaden's game, so the rest of the family had to hear Carder's long drawn out rendition of the play.

This is where joy meets grief. I walked across the field at half time to congratulate Carder and switch spots with Nate. As I kissed Carder, he said, "That was cool wasn't it?" I said yes, and pulled my phone out to tell mom. It was then I remembered I couldn't call her.

I know she saw the goal. I just wish we could have talked about it. Tomorrow is Mother's Day. I am choosing to just spend the day loving on my little ones and writing in my new journal all of the memories I can recall with my time with mom.

I made a promise to mom. I promised her that I would be happy. I promised her that I would live a GREAT life, and I will!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Feeling Incredibly Blessed

Yesterday was a GREAT day. I still had a hard time with missing mom, and I hate the fact that I can't call her, but God reminded me yesterday that He carries me in the palm of his hand.

Nate and I visited the new church offices yesterday morning. The whole area was painted by volunteers in one night. The office space is such a gift from God and a wonderful act of love by my husband and the church family. The space is perfect, and it will allow our church to break through some space issue barriers, but it will also allow me to have a private space to grieve. After 4 years, my home will become just a home to our family come Friday. I am so excited.

Yesterday was also a testament to great people. I was so excited to talk to Dad and know that all of the guys were going out to his shop. They were joining him in friendship and food and being there with him in person when I cannot. Throughout the day I talked to, text and heard via email from so many people that genuinely care about my life, my grief and my well-being. God truly knows how to minister to our spirit if we will just allow ourselves to accept help and allow ourselves to be used by Him when He calls. Dad and I are constantly humbled by the love we feel and need from each of those great people everyday.

My night ended with one of my dearest friends. We held hands as we looked at her little angel sleeping and wept together. We both knew we were crying tears of incredible joy, deep sorrow and a feeling that only real friends can share without putting words to it.

To say that I am blessed is an understatement. I have an incredible hole in my heart that will never be filled. However, my life is such a gift, and I just have to daily remember to treasure the joy. Mom would want nothing more than to know I laugh, dance and smile often.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Relapse of Grief

So I guess anxiety can mask itself in a variety of ways. I thought my month of reflection, prayer and healing had brought me to a place of "normalcy". I returned to work May 1 and I thought that I caught the flu at the same time. I rested on Friday and Saturday, went to church on Sunday, and felt good Monday morning. As I prepared for a presentation Monday afternoon and worked on many many emails my temperature seemed to rise and stomach issues flared. Thus it continues as I try to re-enter the real world.

UGH! This is so stupid. Life must go on, and my body needs to cooperate. I'm going to get real sleep tonight, and I'm hopeful that will help. Lying in bed watching Oprah is not an option. It is not me. It was definitely not mom, and it is not my choice.

So if you are reading this please pray for me to get the strength I desire to live my GREAT life that is such a gift. If you are my dear loved one or friend that has been calling me in the past few days, please know I am ok, but just trying to figure out how to function in a normal way with huge suit of armor the world calls grief. It seems the phone is my hardest place. Why? No Idea.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

How Do You Keep Your Faith?

Mom. Mother. Mama. Mommy. Best Friend. Mentor. Sister. Pastor. Counselor. These are just titles. Each of the titles cannot describe the extent of the love mom and I shared. That is the problem with trying to describe in words the feelings of the heart. Today I am going to try to describe my faith. Again, mere words cannot possibly express the feeling in my heart.

So many times in recent weeks people have asked me the same question in different ways. "How do you keep your faith?" My answer is quite simple. My faith is not a choice; it is who I am. It is like asking, "How do you remember to breathe?"

Am I frustrated that mom had to get leukemia after enduring all of the hardships in her life? Yes, but I am grateful she was my mother. Am I frustrated that innocent children suffer from awful illnesses? Yes, but I am grateful for the gift of life. Am I absolutely baffled by miracles that occur sometimes but not always to powerful prayer warriors? Yes, but I am grateful for a God that has a listening ear.

You see, to me, the lack of a healing response by God for an innocent child, great person, or dear loved one seems harsh, unloving and cold in the veiw of this life. But in the view of heaven, it is the only response that makes sense from a loving God. I wonder how the angels feel when God actually takes action to use his healing power and leave his loved one on the earth even though they have been stricken by an illness or fateful event? The angels are there in glory ready to welcome their loved one home, and suddenly they must watch this person endure greater hardships for longer. Can you imagine their response?

Logically I can see this, but my heart still aches and wonders 'why not one more miracle to keep her here a little while longer?' Even in this hurt, even when I think about terrible injustices, I do not question whether God is good. I only question the plan. I only question the basis by which He decides when and where to use his healing touch. The lack of constant miracles everytime a devoted prayer warrior prays does not keep me from believing in the power of prayer. In fact, if there would never be a miraculous event then I would feel desperate in this world because hope would be non-existent. I cannot imagine that type of world.

Yet, I understand how people get to a place where they believe God does not listen. I do not judge that, nor do I know how to help. When thousands pray for the life of an innocent child or unbearable events occur, it is only normal to question the Giver of Life as to why? However, I believe strongly that life and God are not the same. God is great, loving and everlasting. Life is hard, testing and temporary.

So as to the question, "How do I keep my faith?" Again, without my soul, who am I? I am nothing without it. I watched my mom leave this earth. I sat with her in her last days, and if there is anything I am sure of it is the fact that our soul is what makes us who we are. As soon as her soul left, her shell, her body looked nothing like my mom, best friend and mentor. It is not life that is real, it is our spirit.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Month End, New Beginning

Since owning my own business, month end has become a 'tad' stressful to say the least. Mom loved working in manufacturing and month end was always crazy for her too. We would talk every month end. She wanted the inventory to go down, down, and down. I wanted sales up up and up. We would talk, text and email. On March 30th, we shared our last month end together on this earth. She was unable to respond at that point, but I talked with her just the same. Her coworkers came and told me to tell her to get well because the inventory was not looking good.

Over the many, many month-ends mom would often say, "What do you think God is trying to teach you through this?" Because in my business, it seemed there was a barrier I could not break through. Then in only mom's loving humor she would say, "Hurry up and learn it already I'm tired of this stress."

"Mom, I think I've learned the lesson. I think I had that barrier and that stress and all of that to work through because it just brought us closer in another part of our relationship. In the past 2-3 years I was able to learn from you as a business woman. Had I not struggled and toiled I may not have turned to you and leaned on you so much. God's infinite wisdom still astounds me."

Amazingly, now that mom is gone, thanks to wonderful self-sacrificing people, my last two month ends have been free from stress and remarkable growth months. The barrier I could not break has been broken, but not by my effort. Hopefully, I can be half of the woman that my mom was. She was selfless, funny, loving, ornery, faith-filled and beautiful. I have learned and pray I will never forget that the blessings of life are the relationships I enjoy during the trials and accomplishments of living.

Mayday marks a beautiful day of beginnings. So mom, "I think I've finally learned it. I am choosing to live a GREAT life today because of you."

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Carder's Birth

April 30, 2002 was a day to remember! I had asked mom if she wanted to be in the delivery room, and she said she wasn't sure. She just couldn't handle the thought of me being in pain. She finally agreed to come after I had the pain meds.
Around lunchtime a dear friend of mine came to visit on her lunch hour. Mom, Nate, Kelly and I sat and laughed and told stories. As soon as Kelly had to leave to go back to work, my mom ran to the restroom and I told the nurse my hips were really aching. She checked me to find the baby's head was crowning. I'm not sure what the nurse said as she went back into the hall, but my mom heard her, and came back into the room absolutely frantic.
Right behind mom was the doctor and three pushes later Carder Seth entered the world. Mom just kept saying "Thank You, Thank You, this is so neat. Thank You for letting me be here." From that moment, Carder and mom shared a really special bond.

It was years later before we realized they shared the same temper. Carder would get mad, cross his arms and slam doors, and mom's reaction was hilarious. She would say, "You just don't understand how mad we get."
Carder is seven and mom is in heaven. Sounds like a kid's rhyme. But no matter how short the time, I am so grateful mom was able to experience Carder's life. They were truly two peas in a pod!





Carder during one of his fits at Gaga's house.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Immobilized For No Reason

It is really odd how grief works. I am still me. I still think funny thoughts. I still love my friends and family. I still dislike some people. I still get annoyed by bad drivers. Yet, there is a part of me that is incredibly different. I will be as normal as normal can be, and then something so small just immobilizes me.

For instance, today I have a lot of things on my to-do-list, but I went to the gym and returned a business call while I was on the treadmill. We set a tentative meeting, and now I feel like I want to run and hide on an island instead of going to that meeting. That is SO SO crazy. This person did not know my mother. This person and I have not met, and the meeting would be super easy, yet that phone call has flooded me with emotions of grief and fear. I can just hear mom saying, "Suck it up and get some of that grit I keep talking about."

I can go for a few hours of normalcy and then sometimes I even feel guilty. Like why am I not crying. That is so stupid. I know she wouldn't want me to cry. I know God gives me the strength and wants me to live a GREAT life, but it seems like I should have a grief reflective of the love I have and had for her. As I write this, I know how crazy it must sound, but there is a sense of guilt that comes with having a better day. I know it is not a correct emotion, but it is there all the same.

Living a GREAT Life is such a minute by minute choice. As I enter back into the real world, I hope to truly be a better person everyday. I just got a text message from someone I love. My dear friend is a DOCTOR! Mom would have been emailing and texting me today to share the good news. I can hear her saying, "She did it, I knew she would."

I am thankful for all that mom taught me and continues to teach me through those she touched while she was here. I'm off to push through another day.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Rainy Days

We are on day 100 of rain in northern Illinois. Not really, but it sure feels like it. Funny, I am normally a rain lover but this is becoming a little bit much even for my standards. If I wanted to experience this much rain I would have moved to Seattle.

What I mean is, I normally love rainy days. God's incredible plan to water the earth has always been a source of peace that his plan is always sufficient and creative. I also have a very vivid memory of mom and dad and I at our house in Oblong in the spring. We had been mushroom hunting and it started pouring down and instead of rushing for cover, mom started laughing and jumping in puddles saying, "We're in the mushrooms, we're in the mushrooms."

Tonight, we had a food distribution night for the church. To be honest, I just didn't want to go. However, I find that if I push myself to do things then I actually feel so much better. As always, serving is the best medicine for any situation. Of course, it started to rain and we had to wrap up shop early, but again God is good, and we were able to disperse the majority of the food. Plus, we made it home before the big downpour began.

God's blessings are as plentiful as the raindrops in a thunderstorm, I think it just comes down to whether we count the blessings we receive or whether we choose to look at the puddles instead of the rainbows.

I catch myself looking at puddles more lately, but in my heart I know that God is so good, mom is so happy, and I am so blessed and rainbows are just around the corner.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

You Never Have To Do Something For The First Time, TWICE!



Wow, Carder had a FANTASTIC time at his party. With crazy dark clouds all around us, we managed to have just one little rain shower during the whole party. Great friends of mine helped make the Pokemon theme come to life, and he thought is was, "The best party ever!"

We cleaned up, ate a fantastic dinner of grilled cheese sandwiches, and then took to bed for an early night. However, at 3, the birthday boy woke to horrible chills and a very high fever. Poor little guy! Papaw took off for Walmart in search of pain reliever, and since he was up and awake, he hit the road for South Carolina.

He should be reaching home within a few hours, and we have chilled on the couches hoping the fever will pass. Nate had a great day at church and a leadership meeting with some exciting things coming to our church future in the upcoming weeks.

With all of life swirling in a positive direction, I still ache for mom horribly. She always encouraged me with, "You never have to do something for the first time twice. And it is always easier the second, third, etc." She first told me that when I got my first teaching job. I was nervous about every part of it. She would tell me to just take it one thing at a time and remember that after I did, I'd never have to experience that first-time anxiety again.

Well, we've made it through our first Easter without mom and our first birthday party. I don't know that easier will be the word for the second, third and many more to come, but I do think mom was wise in saying that there is an anxiety that comes with the firsts that time heals and conquers with the events that follow. At least that is my hope and prayer.

Much love to those that loved mom and continue to love and support our family.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Preparation

Someone that is close to me has noticed that I have a need for "preparedness." Meaning, I am always thinking about what is going to happen and mentally and physically preparing for the future so that I can do my best.

I have noticed that when I can't predict what may happen, I seem to shut down. I think that is what happens during grieving. Because I can't imagine my life without mom, I tend to shut down. However, when I just think about the next day, I do much better.

I know for a fact that I will be in Heaven with mom. I know this because of Jesus. I have thought a lot about Heaven over the last few weeks. I want to be prepared for Heaven. I want to know that I have lived the best life possible here, so that in Heaven I am thrilled with what I have done here.

Nate bought me the book, "90 Minutes in Heaven" after I had heard about it from a friend. After reading it, I have such a peace thinking about mom's peace of mind. As long as I focus on preparing for Heaven each day I seem to find a little peace too.

Speaking of preparation, Dad is in the garage right now doing his nitty gritty cleaning for Carder's party tomorrow. We are so excited for him. I'm off to make my list of last minute items.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Good Time Away

Nate and I had a great night away. We ate some great food, watched some great entertainment, and I SLEPT for hours and hours. Wow, that felt so good.

We came back to a clean house and clean laundry. Dad is a Super Dad. Baking cookies for the kids just like Gaga did, and taking care of the house much, much better than I ever do. We are going to have dinner tonight, and relax after a great afternoon of playing outside. Papaw and Carder went to Kaden's soccer practice, and this time together is so great for all of us.

I feel the best today that I have so far. Sleep is an incredible healer to my soul... at least for a few hours anyway.

As I look to our near future, I see some things happening that could truly help me feel like I have some room to heal and become that greater woman that mom would be proud of. As I look around, I am truly amazed by the wonderful people that surround me. Everyday, I am humbled by the kind acts of friends, acquaintences and family.

Thank you for the constant prayers, constant encouraging words, constant phone calls, texts and emails. Even when I may seem miles away, I read, hear and feel the love in every message and it sustains me in a way I cannot convey.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Home Rain Home

Dad and I traveled ALL day yesterday IN THE RAIN. Yes, we made it from Summerville, SC to Channahon, IL in record time 13 1/2 hours, but we were in the rain for 12 hours of the trip. Whew, we were so glad to get here, and then guess what we woke up to....yes, you guessed it -- RAIN!

Dark clouds and cold weather, yet we still feel better when we are together, and the boys make us smile and remember the great parts of life. We hurried back to Illinois, so we wouldn't miss Carder's big night. Tonight was his 1st grade music program. No offense meant, but when did music become "non-fun?" Carder was thrilled and proud to stand behind a xylophone and never strike it. There were no songs, and the idea was definitely not entertainment. I think I need to go back to school to better appreciate the arts. Our focus is definitely Carder this week with the big birthday approaching.

Anyway, Dad and I made big headway on our thank you notes today, and hopefully tomorrow we will make it closer to the end. Our grief is now just becoming a part of our life. The question is, "How do you choose to live in light of this new part of life?" Somedays I am better than others. Somedays are terrible. We are praying for better days to come.

I am just taking each day at a time. I look forward to knowing better how to plan for the future. I really wish I could just take care of Dad, Grandma and Popsie, the boys, Nate and work and somehow take everyone's grief and carry it myself. I feel a responsibility to help those I love and that love mom, and yet I know that there is ABSOLUTELY nothing I can do.

It's funny, I have so many people constantly saying, "What can I do for you?" I have truly GREAT, FANTASTIC friends and family that are reaching out, and I feel guilty because I am not the 'normal Rachelle' with them. I can't find that gal. I know how they feel, because I feel that way too, I miss being me. I miss real laughter, real joy, real living. "Bring mom back just like she was, without Leukemia, perfectly healthy!" that is what I want to scream. That is the only way I know how to get Rachelle back. Yet, I know that isn't an option, so there is nothing else that can be done for me, or for any of my family.

Nate and I are going away tomorrow night. I think it will be great for all of us. Dad will have the boys to himself. Nate and I will have a chance to talk alone for the first time since I left for SC when mom was sick, and I can cry without anyone else in my house or space. Please pray for all of us that this is a useful, healing time and that the boys are feeling secure in their routine. I worry for them too. Ugghh, I know I have to find a "new" normal, but it seems very far away from normal right now.

As I reread this, it sounds like whining, and I can just see my mom rolling her eyes. Being tough, and getting "GRIT," as mom says, is harder than it sounds, but I am determined to be a better wife, better mother, better daughter, better granddaughter, better friend and better person on the other side of this grief.

I just pray that the other side of grief is a real destination because right now it seems as real as a unicorn.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Dad and I just got back from the flea market. On the way home, a man called, "Yak-Yak" telephoned Dad. He needed his weed-eater fixed. We stopped by and after just a few minutes we were back on our way. Dad and I discussed this wonderful little old man. He comes into the coffee shop on a rare occasion only when someone can come and take care of his wife. His wife has alzeheimer's.

Today we are reminded that the way that mom left the earth is a blessing. It is a blessing to her. Not our blessing, but her blessing indeed. Yes, we miss her. Yes, we cry, we ache, we hurt like we have never hurt before, but in reality her blessing came by not having time to worry for us at her loss.

If you knew mom, you knew that her heart was always about those she loved. She worried about how her life affected others more than how her life affected her.

Today, after the visit to "Yak-Yak," we talked about that we would never have wanted her to suffer an illness where she thought someone would have to take care of her. That would have crushed her spirit. Praise be to God, Our Father, for knowing her well, loving her intensely and blessing her completely.

Dad and I will somehow pull it together, and live a life of greatness that will cause God to smile (and of course, mom too)!

Friday, April 17, 2009

At Peace With Dad

Well, I'm sitting here in South Carolina in a sweatshirt. Evidently I brought the cold weather with me. Dad and I are so sad. Yet, together, we just feel better. It seems that when I am with someone that really knew mom, it feels better.

This morning I went to the coffee shop with Dad. We had a hoot of a time. Those old men are just hilarious, and kind. They think I look like I'm 27, so I might have to visit the coffee shop a lot more often. Hee Hee.

Dad and I are talking about the future, talking about the past, and just enjoying the present together. I am so fortunate to have the Dad I have. We are hoping to mark some of our things off of our to-do list today. We have dinner with Barbara and Steve tonight. Barbara was mom's boss and great friend at Cummins. I am looking forward to the stories they share tonight.

May God continue to bless our healing hearts with thoughts and memories of one of the greatest women to walk the earth.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Survival

Survival is the theme of the day. I survived an hour long bus trip with really loud third graders. I survived a day of the Field Museum, and NO TEARS! YAY MOM! Kaden is such a wonderful son, and I offered prayers of praise all day as I watched him in wonder. I have so much to be thankful for.

Nate needs your prayers too. He is such a wonderful husband and father, and he is a wonderful pastor too. He is taking me to the airport tomorrow and will be "single" dad yet again for an undetermined amount of days. He has never complained. In fact, he just says, go be with your dad...stay as long as you need. While I know he means it, I also recognize single parenting isn't the easiest. So please offer some special prayers up for his survival over the next few days.

Everyone grieves differently. Survival is a good goal to aim for when you are in the depths of deep grieving. I recognize that there is more to living than surviving, but sometimes there is a great sense of accomplishment in the mere survival of another day.

Surving grief would be easier with a Grieving Button. I just wish I had a 30 second button for yucky life stuff like we do on our new remote. You hit it and it fast forwards through a whole commercial with just one push of a button. Commercials are the necessary evils of GREAT TV. I think the grieving process is a necessary evil of a GREAT LIFE. When someone has lived a GREAT LIFE, you have to honor it with grieving. When you desire to live a GREAT LIFE after someone you love has gone to heaven you have to get through the grieving stage. God is so good, I just wish he could give us a Grieving Button. Push it, your done. You remember your loved one with smiles, laughter and deep love, but you are able to LIVE really LIVE as an honor to who they were to you.

Well, since we didn't get the button, Dad and I are going to do this together the long, hard way. Anyway, I'm off to SC tomorrow and I'm looking forward to it. Please pray for safe travel, and for healthy, happy boys in Illinois!