Monthly Archives: November 2008

Give Thanks

…And now let the weak say I am strong
Let the poor say I am rich…
because of what the Lord has done for us

Give thanks…

I am blessed to have a new(ish) friend whom God added to my life shortly after Jenna died. He had connected us shortly before, but when Jenna went to heaven this sweet girl read my blog, cried for me, interceded for me, and ‘stalked me’ (her own words 😉 ) until I finally gave in and went to visit her one day…and left her house with the feeling that four hours of conversation with a good friend was not enough. I could have chatted with her at that pool deck for another four hours, easily.  This precious lady has become one of my biggest cheerleaders and staunchest friends, and I am so grateful to God for her.  

I was thinking about her today, praying for her and thanking God for her, and my heart was moved by the goodness of God towards me. I have so many special people in my life. Instead of thanking him for things this Thanksgiving, I want to thank him for these precious ones.

They are:

The precious friends that the Lord has blessed me with here in the US, who walk with me as I try to navigate life without Jenna, who encourage me, who give me hugs and a listening ear, who call me on the 17th of every month, who read my blog even though they know me and see me at church. I assume they all read my blog because they love me and want to keep up with where I am at, or because they miss Jenna and want to remember her too. That means a lot to me.

My friends in South Africa, who have known me for ‘yonks’ and who were there for us at the drop of a hat when they learned the news about Jenna. There’s nothing like old friendships that fit like a glove, and I am so thankful that they are all still in my life even though we left South Africa 9 years ago already. To my Stoney-boney friend: I miss you and your once-in-a-while emails (we are so slack, hey?) always make my day.  

My family in South Africa and here in the States. Thank you for never once saying a word of blame. Thank you for being the sweet and precious and generous people that you all are. Sometimes it pains me to think that losing Jenna was such a terrible loss and shock to you as well. I wish it were different. May Jesus comfort you all, as he comforts me.

My blog readers. There are few things that give me so much support as the ability to vent my thoughts here on this little corner on the web, only to find your sweet and encouraging comments cheering me on. Thank you, to all of you  for reading this and praying for me even though this blog is not always the most light-hearted blog out there. To all the mommies who walk this road with me, thanks for the hugs and the understanding.

My church. I am grateful for a pastor who has a true shepherd’s heart and for people who are united in their love for Jesus and each other. It is a rare thing, and I don’t take it for granted. You all are my family here in the USA, and I love you for it.

The people at my job. Thank you for providing me with a place where I can pour out my heart and my energy and feel like I am accomplishing something. The friendship and support I find at the school is a blessing. To my students – you are the best and you make my life soooooo interesting! 🙂

My hubby and the boys. I can say with absolute conviction that my hubby is one in a billion. I’d search a long time to find someone with the same integrity, the same kind and generous spirit, and the same down-to-earth humility. He’s smart and has dreamy eyes to boot. And he loves me – what more can I ask for? The boys make me laugh, they warm my heart, they are precious treasures, each with their own flavor and unique traits that make me love them so. 

 Jenna. I do so feel the gap she left in our lives, especially now with the holidays approaching. But my life would have lacked something if she had never shared those 3 and a half years with us. She added so much spark to our lives, and awakened a side of me that I never knew was there. If it weren’t for her, my girly side would probably still be slumbering. I’d probably never wear pink. My life would be poorer, less colorful, dull. I love you my girly-girl!

My good, kind and tender God, who has never left my side or let go of my hand. He is there when I call, and my heart can trust him implicitly. I have much to praise him for.

The faucet

Ever done something stupid? Not once or twice, but four times in a row?

If intelligence is measured by the ability to learn from your mistakes, I must be seriously in trouble.

We have a kitchen faucet that has recently been getting a little rusty where it is supposed to swivel from side to side. I sometimes rotate it to loosen the rust build-up and make it easier to move, but on Saturday I must have worked the thing a bit too hard. The whole end part of the faucet broke off into my hand, leaving an exposed pipe that pointed away from the sink horisontally rather than down into it.

You can picture it, can’t you? I would be full of good intentions to rinse a dish, or wash my hands, but my innocent interaction with the faucet would be met with a straight-as-an-arrow shot of water right into the solar plexus. In the middle of winter. Not once, girls, but FOUR TIMES. I think that stinky faucet was taking revenge on me for causing it’s sad demise.

My teenager laughed at me the first two times, until it happened to him. Then I laughed at him.

My sweet, practical hubby thought of something that would never have occurred to me. He went into the broken faucet and took out the snake-like thingy that you spray your veggies with and now that thingy is sweetly pointing down into my sink, so that when I turn the faucet on the water will not spray me anymore. On the weekend we will go to Home depot and get us a nicer faucet to install in place of this vengeful old one. (It was a cheap Walmart brand that lasted for less than two years).

Until then, I am just grateful. Grateful that the hubby has a brain when I don’t. I was standing at that sink today, filling a pot with water and it occured to me that if he hadn’t doctored the thing I would have had to change my sweater today. Perhaps four times or more. 😉

A glimpse into Sumi’s brain

First warning: picture-heavy post. Second warning: ramble ahead. I feel like writing, but have no particular thing in mind. Wanna follow along as I splash my thoughts out on the page like a random piece of abstract art that has no structure? (It’s gotta be art when it is as ‘blurby’ as this might end up being.) 

I saw the first house decked out in Christmas lights last night. It happens to be the house that was decorated first last year too and I remember oohing and aahing over it with Jenna. It was the first Christmas that she was really verbal and it was so fun experiencing the season with her in all of its facets. I started tearing up in the car as I drove by that cheerfully lit up house on the way to Publix, but I was grimly amused at myself for squelching the tears quickly so that I wouldn’t walk into the store with a red nose and watery eyes. Since when did I care about that?

I still get a bit weepy at Walmart from time to time and I really don’t care about the sideways glances. It’s OK. I am OK. Just missing a little sweetie pie, that’s all.

We went to the zoo with some friends this morning – another first for me. The last time the boys had a field trip to the zoo I didn’t feel up to going – and sent them with a friend. I walked the same pathways today and marvelled at the thought that there was a time that Jenna’s little feet walked them with us, her eyes scrutinized the same flower patch, trying to find the bees that frequented them, she had lain on her tummy in that same spot to look though the window at the otters playing in the water. How could she have been so present then and so absent now?

I had a little conversation with the klipspringer (literally translated from the Afrikaans as “rock jumper”) that Jenna liked so much the last time we were there. I told him how much Jenna had enjoyed him, and I thanked him for making my little girls’ life a fraction richer.

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At the playground, the first thing I did was go down the slide for Jenna. I had the middle boy go down the slide on Jenna’s side at the same time. Bittersweet. I only wish I had thought about taking our picture today too.

There’s always this gap, you know? I am out there with good friends, and I am really having a beautifully fun day, but in the back of my mind, something is missing. I cannot enjoy watching Jenna as she explores the zoo anymore. I do tell myself she is not missing the zoo, and I know she is not. One tends to think that because a child’s life is cut short they miss out on so much, but honestly I don’t believe that. I believe that the God who made this world so diverse and so abundantly beautiful and so full of rich experiences has made heaven to be the same way – if not more so.

I think we have seen only a tiny glimpse of one of God’s facets in this world he has created, and it will take an eternity to find out all about him and about everything that flows from his hand. Jenna is enjoying that right now – and not missing this world. We just miss her.

img_3638I took a few nice photos today. It is fun comparing the “now” photos to the “then” photos to see how much the boys have grown. It was fun to photograph David, who is a year younger than Jenna. Toddlers are great to take pictures of because they still get engrossed enough in their surroundings not to pose every time the camera points at them. I miss taking Jenna’s picture. It was something I enjoyed doing so much.

 

 

Here’s some of my two younger boys: (The oldest one stayed home. The zoo is boring, mom, no matter who you go with. Sigh – teenagers!)

My blonde-haired, blue eyed youngest:

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Blondie at the lorikeets: img_3682

 

My…um…never-a-dull-moment middle son:

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Help! He’s climbing up my arm!

 img_3684                                                         He’s going to bite my ear! (Like the last time)

img_3685                                                            Or perhaps not.

img_3686                                                        Look, ma, I have a bird on my shoulder!

Oh…and just so that I can make this post even more random, let me thow in a cute picture of the muffin that I came across as I searched for the zoo pictures. This was taken at my in-laws’ house, not at the zoo. It is just a sweet picture of Jenna and I feel like sharing:

hanlies-disk-1-0492                                                        She’s showing off a watch my father-in-law brought her from Germany.

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Check out that sweet smile. 🙂 So many of Jenna’s pictures show her with a bruise on her forehead. She was fearless – always doing what her brothers were doing. She had the “battle scars” to prove it, poor thing.

OK so maybe this post is close to, but not quite up to “random abstract art” status. Random – absolutely. Abstract – not quite. Art? Not even close. If you stuck it out this far, thanks for taking a trip in my brain. I hope you didn’t get lost in the wide open spaces in there. 🙂

…Oh…just noticed. Here’s a final bit of randomness. This was my 200th post. Well, technically my 198th, since Holland wrote the previous post, and hubby wrote one to me on our anniversary on July 2007. But the stats counter says 200, so we will stick to that. How can we celebrate?

9 months

It has been 9 months, and tonight I am just missing her. That is all.

Taken on November 17, 2007:

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Joseph and Jenna

Our friends Holland and Sarah told us something sweet recently that I wanted to blog about until I got a brainwave: I’d let Holland tell it to you all in his own words. I made Holland a guest contributor on the site just so he could come in and share:

 

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Jenna was born just a few months after Joseph, so they have always existed in each others worlds. When it was time to go to church, Joseph would ask, “Is Jenna gonna be there?” They were together so often that a couple of the older kids from our church made up their own role play game, Joseph and Jenna.

It was the Wednesday before Halloween, I had picked Joseph up from Pre-K and Sarah (my wife) and Emma (our new baby) were along for the trip, just to get out of the house.  Joseph just piped up, “We should go to the funeral place.”

“The what?” I asked.

“The funeral place. You know dad, the place where Jenna… where we… uhh..” He trailed off. He understands that Jenna is in Heaven but also knows we visit the cemetery when we are thinking of her. He was having a hard time reconciling in his mind what to call that.

“You mean to the cemetery?”

“Yeah.”

Tears began to well up in Sarah’s eyes, She looked at me, I nodded. “Sure we can go”, she said

I reached my hand to the back seat and he grasped it like he often does and we drove the short distance to the cemetery. As we drove the winding path to Jenna’s grave we discussed the usual. Joseph talks about how she was his best friend, how they had the best times together and how he will play with her in heaven. Once he said that he was sure Jesus had the best toys.

scan0013As we had walked up the small green hill with other graves on our left, the grass covered downward slope on our right and the tall oak right in front of us, Joseph thoughtfully said, “This is my favorite place.”

 Sarah said: “Hello Jenna-girl. I miss you”, as she knelt down to brush the dust off of Jenna’s picture and set the mini flower pots upright.

 “I miss you Jenna,” Joseph sighed. We all cried for a minute. Joseph sniffed, wiped a tear, smiled and ran down the larger hill. Emma continued to cry… She was hungry. 

“I bet you can’t catch me dad!” Joseph was on top of another small hill, yelling across the divide. I ran down the hill toward him as he let out a gleeful squeal, and tackled him. This is what we do when we remember Jenna. We play.

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“Did you bring the frisbees dad?”

“Not this time”, I said, as I hoisted his upside down body into the air. ” I’ll have to remember next time.”

“I’ll remind you.” He really forgets he’s four.

“O.K.”

“I want to whistle with a blade of grass like you, Dad”

So we walked to the tree line at the edge of the cemetery where the grass grows long and each selected our blades. That activity lasted about as long as it took for him to remember that he couldn’t do it. So we moved on.

“Dad. We didn’t bring any flowers!” he said as we were walking the tree line at the edge of the cemetery. “We could take these”, he observed as he pointed to some little wild flowers in the undergrowth. He stooped and picked several of them. “We can take some to Mama too.” Once the flowers were securely in his hands he took off running. “I’ll race ya!” called his little voice, as he sprinted back down while his little hands crushed the even littler flowers.

“We picked you some flowers!” he said proudly as he opened his hand revealing a couple flowers that no longer had petals. “And some for Jenna too.” His faced scrunched up seeing that he had lost some of his cargo. Sarah chimed in, “That’s O.K. honey, we’ll put them all here,” as she pointed to a tiny flowerpot. Joseph and I gently inserted the flowers and were off to play again. We jumped, ran, balanced, and tumbled. This is how Joseph visits Jenna.

 Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

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Joseph knows Jenna is in heaven. At the same time he really wishes she was still here. Somehow in the midst of this duality he has figured out how to keep her as a part of his world. He has figured out a way to be as close to her as he can and do what they would have done together.

Keep playing Joseph.

Tom

This is Tom:
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Tom was born under my bed in the spring of 2006. We had a cold snap that evening and I woke up in the middle of the night to hear the kittens miaowing pitifully. They were chilled, which is really dangerous for kittens. 

Foggy with sleep, I stumbled downstairs to organise a hot waterbottle for the babies. Except I couldn’t find one, so I used a microwaveable soft toy instead. I placed the little stuffed bear with its warmed-up tummy under the bed and arranged the kittens around it. Afraid of disturbing the hubby and Jenna (who was about 20 months old at the time), I crawled back in the bed and fell asleep.

I awoke early the next morning to find all the kittens dead, except for one lone fuzzy black one that was curled up underneath Jenna’s stuffed toy – Tom.

Tom is a strange kitty. We sometimes joke and say he is stupid. (I come to his rescue and say that he was the only kitten that was smart enough to stay where it was warm.) I don’t think the boys will ever forget the time Tom saw his reflection in the mirror next to my son’s bunk bed and decided to visit the kitty on the other side. He jumped straight into the mirror and tumbled down all the way to the ground, exiting the room in a mad rush as soon as he found his feet.

We also called him stupid for always being so…well…so calmly tolerant of Jenna’s ‘loving’ attention. We thought that no self-respecting, intelligent cat would put up with what Tom endured in Jenna’s hands. As a two-year old, her ‘lovin’ was often far from gentle. But I don’t think Tom ever realised that life could be any different than what it was. He had no siblings, and Jenna was his company. They were inseperable.  

He would always curl up next to her when she watched ‘Little Bear’ downstairs, much like he curls up next to me still, when I watch tv these days. Before he became too big for her to carry around, he allowed her to cart him around everywhere. When he became too heavy and I would have to lift him onto the bed for her, he would immediately settle down and let her put a blanket over him and fuss over him. He even lay patiently while she practised her scissor-handling skills on him one day, emerging from the experience with a lopsided make-over that included chopped-off whiskers, and funky patterns along his tummy and tail.

Tom and Jenna hanging out together:

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He still likes to ‘hang out ‘ with Jenna sometimes:

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I was sitting here at my computer earlier when my feet connected with something furry and warm underneath the desk. As I sank down on the carpet next to him and stroked his purring body, I felt such gratefulness for this silly, fat, exasperating, darling cat. Thank you Tom, that you loved Jenna so much. Thank you that I can always hug you and picture Jenna hugging you too. Thank you for making my girly’s life, and mine, sweeter.

I posted this before, but it seems appropriate to post what Jenna had to say about Tom. This was recorded by her cousin on the farm in South Africa, so excuse the poor sound quality: record003