George's Guardian's of Grace Projects
Stocking project is now in full force collecting donations. We have a list of the items we can use. You can also choose to sponsor a stocking in memory or honor of someone else. We will include a paragraph or two in the cards we place in the stockings to let the recipient know about the person that means so much to you. Our paypal account is posted on this page and ready to take donations. Email us for a list of items needed or with any questions or information you would like included on a sponsored stocking/donation.
Friday, July 8, 2011
I am reading a new christian book series. Just a few chapters in and I have tons of new thoughts and things that I felt spoke to my soul. Having lost George has made me seek answers from God or just find his comfort in life any way I can. Never before did I make time for reading but now I am trying to do it once a day. When things finally settle down here and we are finally moved in I have plans to work on a family bible study and individual one for myself. For now I am going to continue to read books that have a christian basis to them.
This book is taking the Lord's prayer or the Our Father line by line and giving you an insight into them and the meaning behind them or how they really apply to life. One of the sections is about praise. I found it interesting that God needs praise also. Never did I ever think about that. I mean I always thank him for the blessings in my life but never thought to give him that pat on the back and say good job! Not to say that God needs that kind of praise but I just thought worship itself was enough. My mom would always say God is good when something good happened and I really thought she was crazy.
I think of my kids and how each of them I try to praise for the simplest things and how they each seek it. Joshua especially is the one who asks if you are proud of him for just throwing something in the trash...he always seems to need reassurance. I then think of myself and how great it feels if someone tells me that I am doing a good job or that they find some comfort in all that I do. It gives some sort of validity to all that has happened and also makes you feel as if you are doing something right. I know so many who always doubt themselves and it is pretty much everyone I know. Never did I think that God would feel the need for the sort of praise that we all need too.
The other day I spoke to my best friend. She is going through a very tough part of her life right now. I could hear the insecurity in her voice and she didn't even have to tell me. She felt so very lost in her life. I remember being there myself once my first husband went to prison and I was left alone with my son having to figure out life. It was so hard and I was so lost with no one to guide me. Little did I know at that moment, it was part of God's plan and he was guiding me even though here on Earth those around me really had no clue. I was seeking reassurance from those around me but could not get it and just had no idea where to go but that was when God was playing a huge part of it all and calling me to his fold.
As I sat there talking to my friend I felt so deeply for her knowing how very lost she was in the world and was looking for that unconditional love. I've learned how to show that to others after all I have been through in my own life. Had I not been through what I have been through I never would have been able to be this compassionate and know when someone needs reassuring words or just a hug with no words spoken. In my conversation with her I told her how much I love her and how much I felt her pain since I have been in that dark place. I told her what a good person she was and to not ever doubt that no matter what anyone says. Above all, she deserves happiness and love.
She is still in the beginning part of her walk with God. Years ago she would deny faith all together, now she says she is open to it. I was dumbfounded with that statement because I know where she was before. That was such a huge step for her to just admit that, and I was so happy for her. I know that God has called her name, it is now just up to her to listen and follow his voice in the darkness. It has always been odd to me how God uses others to bring us each to him even if the people he uses don't even know it. The book also touches on this and how we are all his instruments and he is using us all every day to bring back his lost sheep. I don't know what has been changing my friend's faith but I cannot tell you how happy I am for her because I know the difference she will find in her life once she chooses to have God as her father. He is the one person who doesn't let you down. You may not understand anything but you know in your heart that it will all work out one way or another and eventually you will see the reason.
Here I am kind of getting off subject but I can't tell you how my heart just sang to hear her just say she was "open to it". I was going to say how she in fact felt relief after praise and really needed that praise to know that she was not completely lost with all she was enduring. Gabrielle, at only 7 months old also seeks praise. I can clap my hands and praise her and even when tears are rolling down her chubby little cheeks, you can see a smile wash all of that away.
So often we cry to God or just come to him in time of need. We will even find ourselves making deals with him. Save my son and I will go to church every Sunday and give away all my possessions. Take my pain away and I will do whatever you want from me, even serve the homeless and give them the shirt off of my back. In all of that, we forget to thank God for the blessings. Often times we get so wrapped up in our suffering and pain. I am one who is guilty of this and I am sure everyone else is too. In our pain and suffering it is hard to see past it and acknowledge the good and praise God for those things.
In all my pain, I have been blessed enough to see the good even if I didn't tell God about it and thank him for the blessings. George died but Gabrielle was born. We have lost our home but we have gained a larger family(we added my parents) and they are able to give the kids things to help them grow up in a better manner and memories that they will cherish the rest of their lives. I got divorced after my house was raided by the FBI and I learned personal strength and found the most wonderful man in the world. I was overweight and felt worthless and yet I found compassion for others in a different manner. All of life's obstacles come with a blessing in them even if we cannot see them. For that reason alone God should be praised.
I never would ever understand when my grandmother would raise her hands to the heavens and say "Praise the Lord" for the tiniest thing in the world. I would just brush it off as my grandmother being the person she was without realizing there was a point in her life when she was cursing God. You could walk in the door with dinner for her or just do something nice and she would always say "praise the lord" Now I have a different understanding of that and how it needs to play a bigger part of my life and something that I want to teach my own children. For all of my own personal life blessings..."Praise the Lord"
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Normal is having tears waiting behind every smile when you realize someone important is missing from all the important events in your family’s life.
Normal is feeling like you can't sit another minute without getting up and screaming because you just don't like to sit through anything.
Normal is not sleeping very well because a thousand what if's & why didn't I's go through your head constantly.
Normal is reliving that day continuously through your eyes and mind, holding your head to make it go away.
Normal is having the TV on the minute I walk into the house to have noise, because the silence is deafening.
Normal is every happy event in my life always being backed up with sadness lurking close behind, because of the hole in my heart.
Normal is telling the story of your child's death as if it were an everyday, commonplace activity, and then seeing the horror in someone's eyes at how awful it sounds. And yet realizing it has become a part of my "normal".
Normal is having some people afraid to mention my Son. (daughter)
Normal is making sure that others remember him. (her)
Normal is weeks, months after the initial shock, the grieving gets worse, not better.
Normal is not listening to people compare anything in their life to this loss, unless they too have lost a child. NOTHING, even if your child is in the remotest part of the earth away from you - it doesn't compare. Losing a parent is horrible, but having to bury your own child is unnatural.
Normal is taking pills, and trying not to cry all day, because I know my mental health depends on it.
Normal is realizing I do cry everyday.
Normal is disliking jokes about death or funerals, bodies being referred to as cadavers, when you know they were once someone's loved one.
Normal is being impatient with everything and everyone.
Normal is sitting at the computer crying, sharing how you feel with chat buddies who have also lost a child.
Normal is feeling a common bond with friends on the computer in England, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and all over the USA, but yet never having met any of them face to face.
Normal is a new friendship with another grieving mother, talking and crying together over our children and our new “normal”.
Normal is not listening to people make excuses for God. "God may have done this because..." I know that my Son(daughter) is in heaven, but hearing people trying to think up excuses as to why he (she) was taken from this earth is not appreciated and makes absolutely no sense to this mother.
Normal is being too tired to care if you paid the bills, cleaned the house, did laundry or if there is any food.
Normal is asking God why he took your child's life instead of yours and asking if there even is a God?
Normal is knowing I will never get over this loss, in a day, or a million years.
And last of all, Normal is hiding all the things that have become "normal" to feel, so that everyone around you will think that you are "normal".
I have not updated recently, not because I have not wanted to but just because I was just way to exhausted emotionally and physically. We have been working hard on my parents house and getting it ready for us to move in. So many days I would just go home and cry due to the run down feelings that came at the end of the day by the emotions and physical stress that I was under. There was no way I could find it in myself to even write here even though I knew how much it helps to let go of it all on this blog.
Saturday we took a break from the life we lead and all our responsibilities even though part of it was reluctantly. Hugh and I had both wanted to stay and work on the basement so we could get further along. The kids however were excited to spend some time with us and also to head down to visit my uncle in South Carolina. They drove down with my mom and Hugh and I followed with Richard and Gabrielle, the whole way the two of us talked about how we kind of didn't want to go but went more for the boys at that point. My uncle had also been one of those pushy people where religion was concerned and in general it had always been a it is my way or the highway attitude he had with things. Little did we know on our way down that there was a bigger plan at work and our attitudes on everything would be changed by just a few days in South Carolina.
We pulled in late that night but were greeted by two excited boys who had driven their grandparents crazy on the drive down asking if they were there yet. We unpacked and found our way to the rooms we were staying. The house was just beautiful and really what we as a family needed in terms of space and it was apparent the minute we walked in the doors...it also made us realize how tight things are going to be at my parents but also how smart it was to finish the basement because there was no way we would have made it here leaving the house the way it currently is. His house is not huge but it isn't small and it sits on 3 acres of land. That being said we all made our ways to bed that night.
The next day started our walk of peace and we were not even aware of it at the time. Breakfast started off and the kids were bugging to go into the pool the minute they woke up, he has an in ground pool. We said sure, and just checked with my uncle to see if it was ok. He had always seemed up tight but was really not, his wife was just a little on edge which we found out this trip and he had to kind of be like that. The two of them are separated now and that is one of the reasons he is down there in SC. I came to find that he is very much like me, an open book. We both recognize our success and failure along with our strengths and weaknesses but are not afraid to share them with the world no matter what they are. It is the here I am, take me as I am and if you don't like it you don't have to associate yourself with me. Even when others would not even mention their problems, we wear ours on our sleeves, not to get sympathy or want anyone to fix them but just rather to be "real" and not feel like we are hiding behind it all. We don't want others to fix it but rather just accept us and be an open ear. Some people run the other way from us or they embrace us due to our attitude towards these things.
All that being said I think both my uncle and I walked away realizing that we didn't know each other in the capacity that we did before. We talked about all sorts of things and found peace through these conversations that led us to find out that we were more alike than not. In all the conversations we found the other was willing to listen with an open ear without passing judgement and yet not feel guilty for not being able to fix the other person's issues. He also found himself wrapped in the love of my children just like we do too. They too learned a lot from him and found that he meant business and also could love them at the same time.
I talk about all of the basic stuff but all of those things lead to this unbelievable feeling of peace that we all felt. It washed over all of us that were there, including my parents. The feeling was so strong that none of us wanted to leave and my mother would have never come back to NJ if it was actually possible and that is saying a lot since that is not part of who she is...she fights change until she can fight it no longer and her desperate grasps at keeping things the same fails. This entire trip changed us all, the house and the feelings were as if we belonged there. It of course isn't our house so we really can't do that exactly but it truly makes us consider finding a way to move down that way to find the peace that we have found and now do not want to let go. Hugh and I had tried to find that here in NJ but the one thing we came up with that would help us achieve that(looking to rent a larger house on a farm) fell through and was not possible and was actually quite disappointing and just kind of added to our feelings of despair.
We have always put our trust in God but with each new obstacle, our feeling of being lost just got so much greater that right before we left, we were really in a dark place, both Hugh and I. This trip changed us both is such a great manner that it is really sad now just being back and knowing that that feeling is gone too. For the very first time since George died I felt whole again and felt his presence in all we did down there. Hugh felt the same way and I was so happy for him since I know what a relief it was for me and it had to be that way for him since he too carries the weight of the world on his shoulders. He was so laid back that he was not on the kids case and was able to actually be the man I had married. The joy we had both lost a long time ago came back...it is the type of joy that has no strings attached. It is the type of joy where there is spark in your smile, it is a smile that we owned before George died but lost the moment that he was pronounced dead.
I've always said how I feel as if part of me was missing but this was not the case when we were there. We had asked my uncle the cost for him to live there and he said it was 1100 plus utilities which is just amazing to us since our mortgage is almost twice that and we have a smaller house and much less land. The prospect of only having to pay that was such a foreign thing to us and thinking about it made us jealous that we carried this huge burden here that could be gone with the cost of a mortgage like that. I know for Hugh it would mean the world and he would have the huge weight lifted from his shoulders, the one that he carries knowing he has to provide for our family. I think that is why he was so at peace and relaxed the whole time we were there. My heart just sang for him and myself knowing what was taken from his shoulders these few days.
The kids had a blast being kids, something they have not been able to do in quite some time. We did not take computers with us or anything like was electronic...all of us but Hugh. My dad did watch television while we were there but it was so odd that if felt as if we were all suppose to be there doing just what we were doing. Most of the time I cooked but it was not a chore since I love to cook and always have but could not get past the fact I had to preform CPR on my kitchen counter and every time after it brought me so much pain to just look at our counter. I could also see the kids from the kitchen where I was cooking so they were not forced to stay inside while I was cooking like they are when we are here at home. We went looking around the area and you could see this was God's creation...there was so much beauty in it all...nothing like the busy hustle and bustle of NJ. We have been on vacation before and I surely have thought it was beautiful but nothing like this. For me I also always need a vacation from my vacation but this was not the case at all this time around.
We did not want to return home...as each mile brought us closer to NJ, it brought back all that we had felt before we left. I was so relaxed that for the first time since Gabrielle was born, I did not check on her when she was sleeping to make sure she is alive!!! The anxiety I fight every single day from my post traumatic stress disorder was gone and for Richard it was the same. The two of us did not once have a flashback or anything that typically haunts us. It was just as if George was there and his little spirit was in all that we were doing...he wasn't missing out on anything in life and there was no sadness in any of our hearts longing for him to be with us. We could just be happy knowing we would see him again in heaven some day and be happy about that. I don't know if I am explaining it correctly but I know that the only thing I can use to express it is peace and God's grace.
Being home has brought back all that we need to do and first thing this morning Hugh was off to work and the kids are back to being confined and my heart is back to feeling heavy again. In some way it was like a tease...it was like a ha ha you have to go home and live the life you did before and be sad again. It makes it so hard to sit here now, knowing that feeling actually exists for us all. The feeling was so great that even my uncle said he actually felt as if we belonged in that house and it was odd for him in a way since he felt like it was where we all belonged. Of course he told us we were always welcome but it is his home and not ours so the reality of that is just all too real. Also, knowing that our credit is shot, we know that even getting a house down that way is impossible so it is just one of those empty feelings now along with a heavy heart that I carry as it feels even bigger now. Right now I need to find a way to get that feeling back again for us all but here...I now know it is possible when, before I felt that it was impossible. Right now Richard is still down there enjoying it and he too said that he did not want to come home and missed nothing here. My heart breaks for him, knowing that his reality is going to come back once he is back here having to live this hell all over again.
I know God didn't put this in our lives for no reason, now it is just finding out what that was for and how to get there again. This is again where I have to rely on my faith and know he has a greater plan. With each new obstacle I have told God that I am not understanding it all and not really happy with how it is all going but that I do still trust in him. I've even yelled at him, cried at him, and just been so lost even though I know deep inside that it is all part of his plan and that I have to give it to him in order for him to handle it. It is kind of like me handing my children over to hospital staff for a surgery. I know I can't fix it myself and that I have to trust these people that I really don't know other than by their credentials and the few seconds of introduction and surgery description. They tell me they will care for my children and I have to trust that even though inside I am a wreck the whole time. I know they know what they are doing but that doesn't stop me from worrying at all.
Please keep us all in your prayers and also thank God for the blessing of peace in our hearts that we were all able to find. Even if we never get that back again, I know that it was such a blessing to be able to have that gift for only a few days. Here is to putting it all in his hands and thanking him for the total peace he has blessed us with even if it was only for a small time.
Video Tributes/Celebration of Life Footage
Here is a link to a video tribute that was made by Richard's dad in memory of George. Get out your tissues!
We Finally have footage from the service up and running:
It is in 4 sections running about 17 mins each. If you were unable to attend, you can now see what you missed. We were so blessed to have everyone there with us in person and in spirit!