Thursday, August 23, 2012

8-23-12 Ten Years -

"One more day. One more time. One more sunset, maybe I'd be satisfied. 
But then again, I know what it would do - leave me wishing still for one more day with you." 
~ Diamond Rio ~

Today it has been 10 years since my Grandmother entered her Heavenly Home.

That's hard to believe, really!! It seems not that long ago ... and yet ... the memories fade. I think that's one of the hardest things about losing people you love - your memories aren't as sharp, as vivid. You can't smell them as well, or imagine their arms around you as easily. You can't feel their hands in yours for prayer, and you forget the little things they did that seemed so trivial then. You can't see the shine in their eyes as well, and you can't remember how hard they laughed when it's been 10 years without them.

10 years ago, I kissed her forehead and said goodbye. Less than an hour later, she went to be with Jesus. It was one of the hardest moments in my life, and although I was determined to be strong, I still remember hearing the news, and feeling a part of my heart break, fall quiet. It hasn't filled up, and I don't think it ever will until I see her again in Heaven. That part of me is waiting in Heaven, and honestly, I just can't wait to feel her hold me again. It was one of the best feelings in the world. That same feeling goes for my Grandfather, who died 10 months later.

I miss her more than I realize, and I long to see her now more than I did 10 years ago.
I think the simplest way to explain it is this way - Missing her seems normal now, but not easy.

And because even now, 10 years later, it breaks my heart to think of those last few days, and saying goodbye, and remembering it all, it is too much to try to write about that. It really is. Maybe one day it will come pouring out of me, but for now - it is too much. It is forever burned into my memory the sadness, the tears, the ache. Not that there was not joy in the letting go, and knowing she is well, but that wasn't the day she died, that was other days. So I chose the sweetness of finding old photos and scanning them into the computer, and remembering how much she loved us. That was something I could write.

November 1990 - I was 2.5, Kimberly was 4. 

November 1990 at the Atlanta Zoo ~ I just love this one. 

February 1991 - Daddy's birthday. I was 4 months from being 3. :)

With Mommy - December 29, 1993 Stone Mountain, GA at the gristmill

With Daddy. I remember it was super cold that day ... 

May 1994 - I was 1 month short of 6, and Kimberly was 7.5 Our house in Florida.

Looking at these old pictures made me "ooh" and "awww" and, quite honestly, made me think we were so adorable. Hahaha. ;) We were happy and joyful, and the world spun in beautiful days of azalea springs, and lovely long cicada summer nights, and then whirled into the most spectacular and crisp Autumns and Thanksgiving days in Atlanta with the extended family, and then into Florida's candlelight services or Ohio Christmases, where sledding and snowballing awaited us.

It was a beautiful, wonderful childhood, and I know how blessed I am for it. How I love and treasure those memories.

We saw Grandma and Grandpa about twice or three times a year, and their visits here meant an extra car in the driveway, extra snuggles and book readings at night, it meant fun outings and adventures. It meant Fresca soda in the garage fridge and hidden peppermints in the glove compartment of Grandpa's car. It meant cards signed in Grandma's hand, and it meant showing her our dollies. It meant extra special time at church when my friends would come over to see them, and it meant extra special doggie treats for Princess that we never bought. hahah. It meant sitting in the front yard, knowing they were coming any minute, and running to that car to get the best hugs ever and yell their arrival.

They were active and involved in our lives, and were as perfect as a granddaughter thought they could be. :)

November 1994. Thanksgiving at their house on Club Drive. Grandpa and Grandma. I love the hug she is giving Grandpa, leaning onto his shoulder, a quiet joy in her eyes, the unexpected snapshot. 

Grandma with her roses. I've only known a few people who can grow roses like she can, and that's on one hand. :) Her roses were abundant, overflowing, heavy with sweetness and scent. She was an amazing gardener, and a gracious Southern woman. The kind I dream about being. 1994 at the house on Wedgewood Chase.

May 1998 - Being in Georgia in May meant fishing at the lake....where we would cast out our lines in utter joy, and catch fish, and proudly show them off to Grandma who would say "Well, that's a fine one!", even if it was less than a foot long. :) She would sit and read in the shade while Grandpa usually had to figure out what my enthusiastic line was snagged on, and Kimberly was unloading her line into Daddy's hands and the catch line. These are the memories that made me love fishing like I do. I still remember Daddy slicing and gutting up that one catch of his, out of a batch we caught and we ate it for dinner. I could not have felt more "Provider of the Meal" than that night. hahaha.

Still, memories of her like this picture here - calm, patient, completely enjoying the time with us .... I don't remember us ever being in any rush, or hurry to "catch fish" or "call it a day". It was special time together.

May 30th, 1998 - Kim was 11.5, and I was almost 10. 

October 1998. Looking so beautiful and dressed up for church like she always did. 

It is too much. Too much to write!! If I wrote a book, it would not be enough for my memories, for my love, for my longing to see them again .... I miss them when Autumn starts, I miss them when I smell gardenias and camellias, I miss them when I hear their 40's music that I know they loved dancing to, I miss them when my friends have pictures recently with their grandparents, and I miss being with them for Thanksgiving and Christmas and all the holidays in between. It is lonely without them.

It is hard to think it has been 10 years. Even harder? That in 4 years, I will have missed them in as much time as I knew them. Hard that memories slip, and dreams about them seem real, when they aren't. Hard that my Daddy misses them, and my Momma misses them, and that most of my friends now didn't know them. Except Paulina. They adored Paulina. :)

But it makes me sad, you know? They would have loved Emily and Lauren and Becs .... I think they would have loved looking at my pictures, or coming down and seeing "just one more launch" with us. I would have loved to have more "adult talks" with them than I did, talk about how they loved the Lord, talk about the "old days" more. Hear how they fell in love in their own words.

I would love to introduce them to people now. People I love and care about, and talk to them about anything. My day, my life, my dreams .... anything. Just to hear their voices again.

Missing them is a part of me. It is there in much of my life, because they are not here. Missing them is sweet and it is sad. It is joyful and laughter filled, and it hurts and brings tears. Missing them puts my heart in that verse "He has put eternity in their hearts".

Such a big part of my heart is in Heaven.

November 28, 1997. The walk. 

I want to end this post with this picture. I really cannot look at it without tearing up. I just tried again. haha. ;) It is my Grandfather (left) and my Grandma (right) going on a walk together as evening was nearing. They often took walks together, going around their neighborhood.

Because Jesus lives, they also have lived since the day they left this world. Because of Christ, I will see them again soon in Heaven, and we will dwell forever in our new Home. But this is how I picture them for now. Walking around Heaven, marveling at the beautiful colors and the lovely air. Hand in hand, without canes or hurting joints or coughing. Truly, Christ-likeness is full wellness to us.

It is a beautiful picture. It brings me joy.

Last year, I blogged just this short picture, and I almost just re-posted that, because it sums it up so well - 9 years. I want to end with a few of those lines, because it is straight from my heart, and I want to thank you for reading. If you have lost a grandparent or someone you love and miss, then know my condolences as you live life without their touch. Thank you for reading, always, you touch my heart.

As Paulina said "Anniversaries are hard.". They are. This one has been. But He is here, too. He is here, and He is never leaving. He will be here through all the years, all the questions and tears. 

One day it won't seem like such a long time to wait to see them again.
 One day we will SEE He was worth it ALL.

"Remembering all you are to me overwhelms my heart. 
I miss you. Everything about you, and being with you. I miss all of you. 
Love you, love you, love you." 
~ Jean Marie ~

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end." ~ Ecclesiastes 3:11

Monday, August 20, 2012

Georgia's Baby Shower -

On August 11th, many of us had a sweet reprieve from sorrows by going to a baby shower for dear baby Georgia Rose Brower. We kept saying to many grieving families "Wow, we really need to see each other for a joyful event. We need to have a party. We need to see each other for a better reason!!", and Georgia's shower was very much that. There were emotion-filled hugs as I saw people I haven't seen for a long while, and some hard explanations of my summer, but overall - joy pervaded our time.

Joy because Georgia Rose is coming, and celebrating a new life is always a precious thing. We are just so excited for Ben and Emily that we can barely stand it. I say "we" because that's everyone's sentiments that know them! Here are the few pictures I took. I mostly just enjoyed being there with everyone, and not snapping pictures of everything, but Lauren took some amazing ones, and they will probably be up on her blog soon. :) Enjoy!

Decorations we helped hang up (I mostly hyperventilated about it being in the right spot, so Becs helped me decide where to put them). They were adorable Winnie the Pooh decorations. :)

Pooh Bear

Emily looked like she had a wonderful time opening gifts, and holy cow. Baby clothes are so adorable!!!! Jamie sat right next to her and faithfully wrote down every gift for Emily. She was incredibly dutiful and wonderful. haha. Jamie is a hysterical and sweet friend of Emily's, they've been friends since they were about 2, apparently. :)

This gift bag was from the Fosters, with an adorable green dress and sweater at the bottom.

Winnie the Pooh baby balloons. 

Jenna's little sister - Jessa. She was talking to Momma Case about something. :)

Dearest Bethany sitting next to me. :) She will be an Aunt to Georgia! :) 

Dearest baby David was passed around to many loving arms. :) He is so sweet, I love him. 

Opening many gifts. :) 

The balloons were addicting to take pictures of. haha. 

Brittany and Mrs. Brower - enjoying it all. :) 

Jamie and Britt. 

Haha. Daniel was one of the only little guys there....but he didn't seem to mind. :) 

Tricia holding her beautiful son, David, and Bethany talking to her. 

Sweetness. Mother and daughter. 

Provvy with a mouthful of tapioca pudding. :) 

Beri eating a tea sandwich made by the Hope ladies. :) Looking serious for a rare moment. 

Beautiful Momma of the Momma-to-be-Emily. :) 

Em sharing a laugh with Jamie. 

All joy ... despite being sick!! 

34weeks. I love her bracelet in this one. :) 

Cradling Georgia. 


The amazing cake made by a dear friend of Emily's! And they matched. :) 

So ladylike......smiles.....TRAIN MOUSE! hahahhaa. Love her. 


Laughter and fellowship .... 

Talking about baby...

and Emily's reaction to the gift I'd been saving for months ... it was worth not telling her. haha. It is a Janie & Jack swimsuit with a swim cap that Georgia can wear next year. :) I ADORED IT, and I told her she was going to "happy die" when she saw it. haha. I'm glad she loved it too. :)

I love you so much, Emily, Ben and Georgia Rose!! Thank you so much for inviting us to celebrate the sweet gift of her with you all at the shower. It was a very sweet time, and we can't wait to meet her!!
May the Lord bless many with the joy and coming of Georgia Rose.

Love always,
~ Jean Marie ~

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Thankful Sick List -

I'm sick. 

Not fun, but totally worth every second of going to Georgia's baby shower. There was no way I was missing it....and we all had a lovely time, complete with dissolving into hysterical laughter at the end with one of Emily's best friends....over completely nothing. This happens a lot with Emily's friends.
Pretty much the same thing happened at Tricia's wedding shower with Tricia's sister-in-law's sister-in-law. :)

So last night I had a terrible night; feverish, with so many aches and pains that I literally was crying in my sleep, and kept jolting awake. I decided enough was enough, and got up and did some baby shower picture editing. :) Last night and today, sub-consciously in my prayers, I thanked the Lord for things. Just...random things. And then it finally hit me that I was unconsciously making a thankful list.

So I decided to write it out and share it with you all. :) Some of them may seem strange until you look back at the year I've had, and it will make more sense to you.

While I am sick, I am thankful that ...  

1. I am not always sick. I am not continually physically ill, or have a chronic illness.

2. I don't have cancer.

3. I have a family that loves me, and cares for me.

4. I have beautiful music to listen to in the night, when I can't sleep and my heart aches.

5. Hot tea makes me feel better.

(My favorite mug from my heart-sister Laurie, it has Lamentations 3:22-23 on it)

6. God loves me so much that He shows me visually and tangibly daily of His heart of love for me.

7. Sunsets that remind me that this is not my Home, and it is far, far better than I could dream.

8. Being sick increases my compassion for those who are chronically ill or daily suffer in pain.

9. Increased compassion leads to increased prayer for people I know who are suffering.

10. There is never-ending grace flowing from the Throne of Mercy for us because of Christ.

11. "He will never leave us nor forsake us." Ever. Ever ever ever. (Deut. 31:6) 

12. Hawaii'an Dobro music on vinyl still cheers me up, no matter how sick I am.

13. There are some people that I love very much that will never be sick; because they live in Heaven.

14. It is more important for me to draw near to God than to be well instantly or sleep at night.

15. He is Who He says He is, not who we try to understand Him to be.

16. My puppy loves me and snuggles and naps with me, and kisses my tears away.

Lucy Mae today at almost 22 months old. 

17. Laughter from friends comes unexpectedly, easy, and freely these days.

18. Home is where the Lord is.

19. This is not the flu, and that I don't have vertigo. SO thankful.

20. Many very sweet friends are praying for my short span of ill health. Thank you!!!

21. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." (Hebrews 13:8)

Because this is true, our hearts can be calm in the knowledge that ....
because Christ has been faithful, He will continue to be faithful and will always be faithful.
because Christ has been with us, He will continue to be with us, and will always be with us.
because Christ has been good, He will continue to be good, and will always be good.
because Christ has redeemed us, He will never abandon us, He will never forsake us, He will never leave us. 
because Christ has overcome the grave, we will live with Him forever in our Eternal Home.

Because He is the same yesterday, today and forever ....
He loved us when Avery was well, He loved us when Avery was sick, and He loves us as Avery lives with Him. Because Christ is forever, and we are His, we will live forever. Avery already is forever.

Being sick just brings it all up to the front. No hiding behind what could be.
He is Who He says He is. And I will praise Who He is until I die. Who He is changes everything.

Much much love to you all....
Lamentations 3:22-24
~ Jean Marie ~ 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

2 months of Questions -

Photos taken the day Avery went to Heaven. Left was at early dawn, right was at sunset in the evening.

2 months ago today, Avery went to Heaven. 2 months of grief over the huge loss of him. 
2 months of these questions. 2 months of the Lord proving His mercies and faithfulness - 
every single hour of every single day. Every single breath, taken in the hope of Jesus. 
Every single tear, caught and saved in His jars. Every ache known, every hard moment and every wound seen.
Every question followed with a simple "I trust You." - I cannot do anything but trust Him.  
2 months will soon be more than 2 months, soon it will be 2 years, and then 20, and then on...
until the day that I join Avery in Heaven, and I will SEE the glory of the Lord. 
I am counting down the days.
 He has set eternity in my heart, and I long to be with Him more than anything I could ever want beside. 
I love and miss you so much, Avery.
~ Jemmie ~ 

"Questions" by Steven Curtis Chapman 

"Who are You, God? 
'Cause You are turning out to be so much different than I imagined. 

And where are you, God? 
'Cause I am finding life to be so much harder than I had planned. 

You know that I'm afraid to ask these questions, 
but You know they are there. 

And if You know my heart the way that I believe You do;
You know that I believe in You. 
But still I have these questions.... 

Like how could You, God? 
How could You be so good and strong, and make a world that can be so painful? 

And where were you, God? 
I know You had to be right there, I know You never turned Your head. 

You know that I'm confused by all this mystery. 
You know I get afraid. 
But if You know my heart as completely as I trust You do; 
oh, You know that I am trusting You! 

So is it true? 
That for every tear I cry, You cry a thousand more, as You weep with those who weep. 

And are You, 
just holding Yourself back from crushing all the pain and evil in this world,
for reasons we just can't understand for now. 

But isn't there a day of redemption coming ... ohhhh. Ohhhh. 
Redemption is coming!!! 
Ohhhh. Ohhhh.

Quickly Lord, come quickly, 
Lord, quickly. 
Ohhhh. Ohhhh.

So who am I, God? 
That You would raise me from the dust, 
and breathe Your life and Your love into me. 

You know that I believe."