Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Drum Roll....Officially Tales of Eight Kids!!

 

Words cannot easily describe the wonderful weekend we had at the marriage of my son and his beautiful bride. From my parents and Tiffany and Brad arriving last Wednesday, the great "family" times we enjoyed, setting up for the rehearsal dinner and then watching the pieces fall into place for a fun time that evening, getting ready for the big day, arriving early to help with a few details, to each event of the wedding, Nathan and Lydia's wedding was a pure delight to my soul. I think seeing so many family members and having my children and both of my parents all together at the wedding was my biggest joy. 

I'll post some pics below, but before I do, I wanted to give a huge shout-out to the Flegal family. Mr. and Mrs. Flegal both worked so hard to make Lydia's dreams come true, and I believe they succeeded! They were the perfect host and hostess to a gorgeous wedding and spectacular reception. There were only a few times when I cried. The first was when Nathan saw his bride in her gown for the first time and filled with tears as he continued to watch her walk towards him with tears streaming down his face. That made me cry. 

Another was when Mr. Flegal chose to by-pass the traditional answer to "Who gives this woman away?"'s Her mother and I, when he turned around, faced the guests, and began..."I'm the father..." Yes, he was the father. Todd was not there, and I suddenly missed Nathan's father. That made me cry. 

He continued to talk about how he knew Nathan many years (reminding everyone that he and Nathan were friends before Lydia and Nathan were!), watched him grow up, and was giving Lydia away to him without any hesitations. That made me cry.                                                                                       

                                                                            

The tears ceased for several hours and were replaced with plenty of smiles and laughter. Then it was time for Nathan to dance with his mom (me). We danced to This Is How You Walk On, and we talked the entire time. I told him how proud I was of him. I told him the wedding was beautiful and his bride was elegant and beautiful as well. He told me he had put Dad's pin on his vest, and when he had asked the photographer to get a picture, she suggested he move it more visible...to his jacket's lapel under his boutonniere. "Look," he said after I asked if he had moved the pin. So I did. That made me cry.

Even before Covid-19 was ever heard of, Lydia wanted an outdoor wedding. Thornbury Farm was the chosen venue, months before Covid-19 restrictions were placed, so things worked perfectly and the setting was breathtaking. Here's some pictures...

                            


 


Saturday, October 10, 2020

Pumpkins

 Every year since Todd and I were married, we would go early October to pick out pumpkins. As the children got older, we would let them each pick out a pumpkin. The tradition continues...


This time we decided to put all the pumpkins together by our front door. We also added two small pumpkins for the twins and one a little larger for Benny, bringing our grand total to fourteen this year! The gang's all here! Yes, Daddy's and the baby's are on the front step too! Happy fall!

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Soon To Be Tales of EIGHT Kids!

 That's right! My son is getting married in just a few short weeks to his sweet fiance, Lydia! We are thrilled for them and so excited to gain a new "kid" to our family.


So I noticed it's been a whole year since I've added anything to the blog. Life has gotten quite busy watching little ones this past year. We are blessed to watch my great nephew, Benny, while Dad and Mom are working! He has been such a joy and blessing for us.

We are also privileged to watch twin identical boys this past year! Peter and  Noah have given us a lot of smiles and enjoyment too. My girls like to confuse me and switch them around, and they have been successful more than once!


I can tell you, I've had my hands full, but full of great things and big blessings!


My heart is full, especially with our first visit since Christmas (because of Covid restrictions) from Tiffany and Brad. It was so good to have all of the kids here on the Fourth of July!

So, my introduction of another name change to my blog got sort of got side-tracked with how full my days have been watching little ones, but nonetheless, look out for a new name change soon! Tales of Eight Kids is coming in the very near future!

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Fourteen Years (4 months late in posting)

Yesterday, May 6, 2019, marked fourteen years since Todd went to heaven. That may sound like a long time to many of you, and some may even think, "Oh, she has surely gotten over the pain and is no longer grieving after all those years." But I wanted to write tonight to let all who read this that no one ever "gets over it" or stops grieving. Ever.

The reason for this is because Todd is always present in some way, whether it be in memories, in pictures on the walls, in my children's faces and mannerisms, his empty place in bed or at the dining table, movies or television shows that we watched together and now watch together without him, mail addressed to him that still comes, phone calls asking for him (yes, I still get those), forms asking for my marital status, making decisions by myself, doing chores that were once his (I really hate scrubbing the tub!), taking the van and car to get inspections and repairs, signing permission slips as a single parent, sitting in church without him with couples all around, making his favorite meals knowing he won't be eating it, and so many, many more. See, we live with him still present in these things every single day. There has never been a day that passed since he went to heaven those 14 years ago that he hasn't been in my thoughts.

Every night I ask God to somehow make it possible that Todd knows we still love him and miss him, and often to let him know that we are doing well. Especially after major milestones in the kids lives: Please, Father, let Todd know Toby was on the Honor Roll again with all A's! Please, Father, let Todd know that Winter has become an awesome writer and has the same gift of singing like he has! Please, Father, let Todd know Tiffany fell in love and got married! Please, Father, let Todd know that Katrina has become an incredible young lady who loves You and seeks to serve You in everything! Please, Father, let Todd know that Nathan bought his own house! Please, Father, let Todd know that Abe has been doing a great job at his workplace and how very proud he would be of Abe's work ethic, never missing days or goofing off.  ....and on and on it goes. Every night.

I just wanted people to know that even though it's been fourteen years, we still miss Todd/Daddy, and always will. And it still hurts...especially on these kinds of days. There are still nights where I cry myself to sleep, or cry when I think no one is looking when the loneliness consumes me.

Grief remains. And the pain can be around any corner or any bend, but always with change or milestones.

This broken heart will only be whole again in heaven, and this is my hope! This is how I keep going. One day there will be no more tears and no more grief. Until then, we keep going. One day at a time.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Day By Day...

..and with each passing moment!  ...strength I find, to meet my trials here.

I often recall that Thursday morning, the day before my dear husband passed, standing next to his bed and watching him struggle to breathe. A great man of God and his sweet wife were visiting with us. With tears streaming down my face, I confessed to him that I didn't think I could take any more. He wisely asked, "Can you just make it to the end of today?" This was in the morning, and I began to shake all over and sobbed, "No."
He quietly said, "How about making it to dinner time? Do you think you can do that?"
"No."
"Just make it to lunch. Do you think you can make it to lunch?"
"No."
"OK. That's fine," he said softly and gently. "Let's try to focus on the next hour. Can you try to make it through this next hour?"
I looked at Todd, heard his raspy breath, saw him laying there so still, knowing he was in pain, then put my head down and cried, "I can't make it another hour, Pastor. I just can't."
"Alright, then. Let's do this by the second. By the moment. You've just made it through three of them. Now keep going. Breathe." And then he prayed. He prayed for me, for Todd, for the children, each by name, and then for me again. That was more than a few moments! I had made it. I still needed to focus on those moments through the day, but eventually it got to be minutes. Then I was able to move to hours. And you know, baby steps: a few hours strung together, eventually days, weeks, and now, once in a while, a whole month.

I can't tell you how many times I think of the words to that hymn, Day By Day. Through all of these 13 years and 9 months, God has always been here. He has never left me. He has been so faithful. And He gives me the strength for each moment and yes, each day!

A few months ago I came to that point again of thinking I couldn't go on. Through this past summer, my health was not great. Among other problems, the dermatologist found a basal cell skin cancer mole on the side of my nose and another group of irregular cells higher, but near to the other mole. Since my daughter was to be married in August, we decided to have the basal cell removed in early September, which we did and all went well.
For that other group of "build-up of irregular plasma cells," I was told it was not cancerous, but that I needed to see a specialist: a hematologist/oncologist. That sounded cancerous to me! Once there the specialist explained I had "Extramedullary plasmacytoma," which basically is cancer, but not like normal cancer. He did his best to explain this to me, but also said it could be a sign of other plasmacytomas in other places in my body, like my bones or bloodstream. In other words, this could be a sign of leukemia or another kind of cancer in my body. I have to be honest, and say these words did not phase me very much. I have been longing for heaven for 13 years! However, telling the kids would be difficult. That's when I became concerned....for them. One was married in the summer, and another moved to his own home,  but that still leaves 4 kids at home, with our youngest being only 15.

Well, we all began taking each day as it came. Day By Day....again. Over the next few weeks were a series of tests: first there was the bone marrow biopsy, which thankfully was normal. Then there was the PETscan, which again, thankfully was normal. Then they did a CTscan and set me up to do radiation in order to get rid of the apparent single plasmacytoma on the side of my nose. Day By Day...sometimes Moment by Moment.

Radiation treatment involves 5 days a week for 5 weeks. Day By Day. Each morning they need to numb my right eyeball and slide a lead shield over it to protect it from the radiation. Moment by Moment. Then they place a mesh mask over my face and head. Moment by Moment. Then they make sure I can breathe, tell me to stay still, and leave the room. Moment by Moment. Then I hear the humming noise and, although my eyes are taped closed, can "see" the light. Moment by Moment. When it's all done, they come back in the room and remove the face mask and lead shield, and place a patch over my eye. I can't drive for 20-30 minutes, so I need to sit in the waiting room until I am able to drive. Day By Day.




Admitingly, it's not easy to pass these signs every day, but it has allowed me to see a whole different world. A privileged world. A world of men and women who struggle every day, yet who smile and are willing to share their story to a stranger. After the first day, they are no longer strangers. They are comrades. They are fighters. I pray I am able to help them in their fight, and share some Light in their weary days.
 
Currently I am midway through my 4th week of radiation! Side effects are minimal, but beginning to cause conflicts with work.

I was so excited and thrilled to be blessed with one of the best jobs I have ever had! I now work as a tutor for Brandywine Academic Services, and the owner is a believer in Jesus Christ! It is such a blessing to work for someone who I know is praying for me and who wants to run her business as a mission to honor the Lord. I have been really enjoying working with each new student God has allowed me to tutor!

And despite the itchy, sore, red eye, bright red spot on the side of my face, and fatigue setting in, God has provided the strength needed for each tutoring session! Day By Day. There have been some days where I just don't feel like I can make it, and in those days, God miraculously changes the schedule to provide the rest needed. Every. Time. !!!  Day By Day.

Through all of this, I have been enlightened to things I don't believe I ever would have been, had it not been for the trials. First, it's a lot easier (at least for me) going through the trial myself, than watching a loved one go through the trial. Second, the closer I am in walking Day By Day and Moment by Moment to an Almighty God, the more I am able to see Him at work in the details, and that's amazing! Just amazing!

My prognosis is good for now. They will be checking my blood every 6 months to be sure no other plasmacytomas show up anyplace else.

Trials are tough. But walking Day By Day and Moment by Moment, can strengthen your faith and allow you to rejoice in your Amazing Father like nothing else can.

I know I have copied these words on this blog before, but they are always a blessing to me, and I pray to you as well!

Day by day and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father's wise bestowment,
I've no cause for worry or for fear.
He whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best--
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Ev'ry day the Lord Himself is near me
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear, and cheer me,
He whose name is Counselor and Pow'r.
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
"As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,"
This the pledge to me He made.

Help me then in eve'ry tribulation
So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith's sweet consolation
Offered me within Thy holy Word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
E'er to take, as from a father's hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
Till I reach the promised land.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Another Christmas...Come and Gone

Christmas was a little different this year. It's been "different" for 13 years now since Todd left us for his eternal home in heaven, but this Christmas season had it's very good moments and it's difficult days as well. I think it's been the most different and difficult since those early years after Todd died. Our family is growing and moving, so the tight-nit closeness of just "us," left to survive with only each other, wasn't felt this year. And I suppose that is a good thing. I suppose, in reality, this is a very good thing for our family, as we are no longer feeling that "survival" mode, getting through the hard times alone, but now the family is putting those things behind and learning to cope and grow as individuals.

Our youngest is fifteen now. She barely remembers Daddy, as she was only two years old that first Christmas without him. Of course she doesn't remember any Christmas with Daddy, so this Christmas was one similar to all others for her. And that is good.

Our 24 year old daughter got married in the summer, so I know this Christmas was very special for her: the first spent with her new husband! And that is good.

Our 27 year old son bought a home in the summer and had moved there just two weeks before Christmas. So I know this Christmas was filled with new excitement for him as well! And that is good.

Our 19 and 26 year old daughters and 29 year old son are doing well in college and jobs and have been quite successful in both academics and careers. They are all maturing into adulthood and settling nicely with their grown-up lives, so this Christmas, for them, was happy and well. And that is good.

For me, this was a big time of adjustment, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I know, especially around this time of year, I need to be thinking truth and constantly repeating God's Word, His promises, and Truth over and over in my head or I would spin into a downward spiral that would leave me in a pit of depression and self pity. I know this, because I've been there many, many times through the years! But I was determined this year to not end up in my room alone, crying for hours. I wanted to be a part, so I leaned heavy on my good God to get me through.

One thing that I was so excited about was making snowmen packages for all the kids (including a spouse and girlfriend)!
 They seemed to really enjoy them, and Katrina even added yellow tissue paper to her younger sister's, Tiffany's, snowman and explained our dog must have peed on hers!


 The kids also surprised me with my own snowman they had made for me, too!



 Christmas Eve, when everyone went to bed, I placed hats on all the snowmen for an added surprise on Christmas morning! I had a lot of fun with this and everyone seemed to really enjoy this new twist to our Christmas routine.



Even our dog enjoyed the festivities! 

Admittedly, there were tears as I cried myself to sleep on several nights, longing to share my heart with Todd and have him experience all of the joy and heartaches of raising these children into adulthood, but God was there with me. He is here with me now and will be with me in the coming days! I am so grateful that I can share everything with Him. He understands. He loves me. And He cares. I am resting in these truths through this Christmas season, and I am so, so very thankful for our good, loving, and caring God! May you experience the same in your life, not only this Christmas, but every Christmas God allows us to be here with our families!


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

New Job. New Revelations. And Farewell to an Old Aunt.

Ok, so I began working for an online tutoring company to help students with the writing of their papers, most of which are college students. The students submit their papers, and I "review" their work, always commenting on the reasons why I suggest they make certain corrections. It's tedious. Each comment must be carefully worded, so that I do not edit or otherwise make changes myself to their papers. It is their work; I only can make suggestions.

I've noticed two things while reviewing college papers. One, there is generally a major lack of understanding English grammar and applying such knowledge to writing academic papers in today's college classes. Two, there is also generally a major lack of knowledge of the truth and moral integrity in today's college students; many papers are filled with doubt, immorality, and a sense of feeling lost.

I don't consider myself "old," despite the many comments from my children; however, I am realizing that the older I get, the farther away the youth are getting from Biblical truth and moral integrity (and seemingly, the farther away from an intellectual academic standard). Growing up, I was not perfect in any sense of that word, nor was I gifted intellectually. However, I was taught and given examples of moral integrity and a striving for excellence in my schoolwork that is far above what students are exhibiting today.

My aunt went to heaven yesterday. She lived a long life, and I will cherish the memories I have of her while I was growing up. You could definitely title her, "old school." By that I mean she had high standards for living and loved the Lord her God. She was "proper." I remember several lectures while growing up and even in my early married years. "Wendy, you ought to know it isn't proper to..." or with that smirk and lifted eyebrows, "Wendy, you know better!" There was one particular instance when she stopped playing a game with us because she refused to play with a cheater, one who did not strictly heed to the rules during play. It was on principle. She would not participate in such a game. I tried to explain we were only joking around, but it didn't matter. It was cheating. (Note: I was the cheater.  We were playing Pictionary and I got desperate and wrote the word after trying so hard to draw the word for Todd to guess. We won that round. But my aunt moved to the living room and would not finish the game with the rest of us, leaving my uncle to fend for himself.)

So what is my point exactly? I'm not sure. I was just thinking about my aunt while working at my new job today. I miss her. I miss the "old school." I miss the days where Biblical truth and moral integrity abided with the majority. May God help the older generations to stand for truth and to strive for excellence and to be good examples for the youth.


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Trusting God

When I realized my webpage about Winter Hope was soon to be coming down, I decided to take screen shots of the entire site. I found the following pages on Trusting God very encouraging, and hope you find encouragement as well.

"I just keep trusting my Lord..."







Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Making Dinner

Ever have a meltdown? When you just want to give up because the pain and hurt and brokenness feels too much to handle anymore? And you just want to give up? And quit? This happened to me last night while I was making dinner.

While preparing I began a head count, as I always do, and realized there would only be three kids eating that night. Tiffany, of course, is now married. Nathan works late and I never know if he'll be home for dinner, but lately he's been stopping by his new house and doesn't get in until late, so he eats leftovers or whatever he can find in the cupboards. Abe had texted me telling me he wasn't going to make it for dinner because he needed to stay late for work. That left the three remaining girls. I looked at the dining room table and thought we might as well eat in the kitchen. Todd had always loved eating at the dining room table, so for several years after he passed, I hated eating out there. It left this big gap at the end of the table where he always sat, and I just didn't like staring at the empty seat. So we began eating in the kitchen; there was still an empty chair, but it was somehow more manageable for me. Until I discovered the kids liked eating in the dining room because it reminded them of Daddy and there was more room, etc., so I decided to start eating out there again. Eventually I got used to it and eating in the dining room once again became the norm. But tonight we would eat in the kitchen.

I tried to cook less food as I could feel that knot in my throat and tears forming in the corner of my eyes. I knew it was inevitable, but it all happened so fast. From eight, to seven, and now to four. I began to open a can and my can opener stopped working. It was the portable kind...the one Todd bought me because we didn't have the counter space for the normal kind when we lived in the condo. Over the years, I came to love my can opener. It was unique. No one could use it correctly except Todd and I, and now only I could master it. But right now, it wouldn't turn. I unplugged it and started working on it. I wanted to call out for Todd and ask him to fix it. It's been over 13 years since I called him to help me fix anything, but that's the first thing that came into my head. I missed him. I always seem to be missing him, even 13 years later and especially when things change and I feel I need him. I tried to open the can again. Nothing. I couldn't ask Nathan or ask Abe; they were both at work. "Why?" I asked out loud. I may have been asking God. This wasn't fair. This was my cherished can opener and now it wasn't working. How was I going to open the can? Dinner was ruined. Why even bother? The girls can eat cereal. I wasn't hungry. No one cares anyway. Leaning against the counter in utter dismay, I wanted to walk away, crawl under the covers, and quit. Making dinner wasn't worth it. Just living wasn't worth it without Todd and the kids. I asked God directly this time, "Why? What lesson do you want me to learn from a broken can opener and ruined dinner with no one to cook for anyway? What do you want me to do right now? I'm lost and hurting and don't want to go on. I just can't take anymore. I've been missing Todd for too long now. Every. Day. For over thirteen years! I can't do this parenting thing by myself anymore. I want heaven. I'm done."

I looked at the can opener on the counter. I looked at the unopened can. I decided to try one more time before throwing the can opener in the trash and going to bed. Guess what? It worked! It started right up and did it's normally perfect opening job! I began to cry. No, weep. Alone in the kitchen I suddenly realized that God heard my prayer, my call for help, and saw my hurting heart. He was right there with me! Todd may not have been there, but God my Father most certainly and obviously was!  And then I started thanking Him.

"Thank you, my precious God and Father! It was something so small, yet You fixed it for me! Thank you for this can opener. Thank you for the incredible gift of a man who bought me this can opener. Thank you for all those years we had together and how wonderful he was to me. Thank you for my kids. Thank you for Brad. Thank you that Tiffany found a godly man she could spend the rest of her life with! Thank you for Abe and his job and his hard work. Thank you for Nathan and for his new house. Thank you for Katrina and the job she has and for all of her help around the house. Thank you for Winter and for allowing her to be here with us, healthy, after so many medical issues and life-threatening concerns through the years! Thank you for Toby and her sweet personality, contagious smile, and love for life and care for others. Thank you for my kitchen and for my dining room! Thank you for the many, many blessings you have given to me! Oh, thank you, my Heavenly Father, for loving me and taking such good care of me. And forgive me for those crazy, unchecked thoughts, that seemed to go out of control just a moment ago."

Then I noticed this on my window sill. I'm certain it was my Father's gentle reminder.
I know, I know....what is it? It's supposed to be a thought tree. A couple of years ago I went on a ladies retreat where we made these silly crafts. I'm not a craft person, and I did not enjoy trying to complete the craft, especially when everyone around me was doing a fabulous job. Yes, I know. I wish I had a picture of how it is supposed to look, but the idea was to make a craft that would remind us of the lesson...watch our thoughts. Make good thought roads or tree branches. Stop the wrong thinking, and begin making and creating thoughts that would lead to other good thoughts so that it will become a pathway in our brain. Because, let's face it, typically our thoughts keep going wrong until we totally defeat ourselves, like I almost did while making dinner last night. It's so easy to do.

I remember a book my Mom made me read when I was a teenager called Telling Yourself the Truth. It basically had the same principles, and it all boils down to Philippians 4:8 which says: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."  

Keep a check on your thoughts today! Make good thought roads, and keep telling yourself the truth of God's Word: Father God loves you. Father God will never leave you. Father God wants the very best for you. Father God is so very faithful and so very good. 

May God help us to watch our thoughts. Do not allow them to run out of control and into wrong thinking! Think the truth! ...and be thankful. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Tales of Seven Kids!

It's official!  Time for a name change for my blog!  My daughter got married this weekend, and although I don't have any official pictures yet, I did manage to get a few. But first, look at the thoughtful gift my daughter and her new husband gave me...
                                                   ...a new charm!  Todd had gotten me a necklace with the charms of each of our kids birthstones.  Now I have seven...they added the one in the middle, next to Tiffany's.  They are in age order: Abe, Nathan, Katrina Joy, BRAD, Tiffany Grace, Winter Hope, the baby in heaven angel, and Toby Faith!

The wedding was beautiful, and all of my kids did such a wonderful job helping and making this wedding run smoothly.  From the days before setting up, through the rehearsal, the morning of the big day, the wedding ceremony, and the reception, my kids were my heroes!  They each stepped up and made me proud!

  
   Of course we missed Daddy very much, but God's grace was abounding and His love was felt so very much, that there was more joy than sadness this day.  Tiffany went down the aisle solo with one of Todd's favorite songs, Edelwiess.  It was beautiful!
 







So, welcome to my seventh kid, Brad! I am so thankful that he loves the Lord and wants to serve Him.  I am blessed beyond words. Thanking God for my newest addition tonight, and anxious to share more tales of my seven kids!