Project Check List

Last week’s Make it Monday was a list of projects I want to finish before the end of March.  Let’s check in and see how much I got done this week.

(Please excuse the photos of finished projects… I’ve been sick and didn’t have a chance to take anything but some fuzzy phone photos of the finished projects)

1.  Hand Lettering 

Haven’t finished this project but that’s my main goal for this week since it’s my friend’s birthday week!  Everything else is set for the gift, so I’m excited to give it to her!!  🙂

2. The Chalkboard

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Nope, haven’t finished this one yet either.  😉 But we DO know the verse for this month so there’s that.

3. Hand Quilting

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I worked a lot on the hand quilting this week. It was relaxing to do while sitting and nursing my cold.

M's quilt

I also finished piecing the front of the second quilt and basted it. I’m all set to machine quilt this beauty this week and mail it off! (Oy vey, the photo… o_O)  I added a lot more blues to this one and LOVE the butterfly fabric I used for the back. It’s almost as though she’s getting two different quilts, but the colors still go together nicely.

4. The Bunnies

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Are done and off to be loved and played with by two very special little girls! 🙂

I made up the pattern for the dress on the fly and am loving the little fabric dress vs the knitted ones I usually do.  But I do miss the wee little knit sweaters so I’ll have to knit up a few of those to go with the dresses.

5. The Wreath

Is finished and hung on the door to cheer me up on days of April Showers. But I forgot to snap a pic, so you’ll get one later.  🙂

Bonus:  I also sewed up a bunch of flannel receiving blankets.  I’m absolutely in love with this coral chevron fabric. ❤

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It’s spring break for my kids this week and then my nephew will be with us for his spring break the following week, so I anticipate my productivity declining greatly in the next few weeks… 😉

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March Works in Progress

I have the problem of being interested in waaaaay too many creative endeavors.  It can get expensive quickly and I’m always working on a dozen things so nothing gets finished up.

I have a number of works in progress that need to be finished by the end of the month, most of which use a different creative process- all of which are requiring some form of learning curve.

Here’s the list of things that MUST be done by the end of March…

1. Present for a sweet friend

For this one I’m learning how to hand letter different things.  I’ve never had good handwriting and this has been a challenge. But a lot of fun. My go-to for learning this has been YouTube tutorials like this one by MadeByMarzipan.  The SakuraColorProductions channel also had a lot of great tips. This isn’t an art form I’ll probably ever excel at, but it’s fun to learn and I do use the skills a little for our bible verse chalk board.

2. Speaking of the Chalk Board…

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Every month our church has the children and adults learn the same scripture passage.  I like to put portions of it up on the chalkboard in our dining room.  Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten around to updating it recently so I’m excited to add part of Psalm 119 to it this month.

Forever, O Lord, you word is firmly fixed in the heavens

3. Hand Quilting

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I’m working on a quilt for one of my dearest friends.  This particular one I am hand quilting for the first time and I’ve fallen in love with it.  Hand quilting will definitely be a life long craft.  I LOVE it.  I liked the fabrics so much that I got some more, with a few extra ones to add more blue, to make a quilt (NOT hand quilted due to time constraints) for a friend whose baby is due in March.  I probably won’t finish the hand quilting one, but will definitely hope to mail the other one by the end of the month.

4. The bunnies…

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Still finishing up the clothes for the bunnies from last week’s Make it Monday, but I’m nearly done.  I am taking dinner to the family on Friday and hope to have the bunnies wrapped and ready for the girls then.

5. A Springtime Wreath

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I love to decorate my house, which means always having a seasonal wreath on the door.  The only season I didn’t have something for was spring, so I’m in the process of making a yarn-wrapped wreath with burlap flowers. It’s easy and fun… and mindless so I can do it when I’m exhausted.

That’s what’s on the docket for this week’s Make It Monday… a long line of projects to finish up!  🙂

 What projects do you have lurking in the basket, waiting to be finished?

First Make It Monday

On Mondays I share a glimpse of what I’m working on in my project basket…

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Lately I’ve been working on little knit bunnies.  A friend just had her fourth baby under five so I’m making little bunnies for the sisters to have as they adapt to baby brother’s arrival.  The pattern is an older one from Barbara Prime at Fuzzy Mitten. I think it is called ‘Easter Bunny’ but this is the closest pattern I could find on Ravelry.

It’s a fairly simple pattern.  The hardest part for me was embroidering on the faces.The little brown one was my first and a wee bit lopsided, but maybe this bunny will just have a fun, quirky smile?? 🙂  Definitely a pattern I will knit repeatedly.  Easy to carry along in my purse because I can just take enough yarn to make one or two pieces at a time.

I’ll probably sew little dresses and then knit wee little sweaters for the bunnies to wear.

Autumn Favorites- FFF

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Each Friday Susanne hosts Friday Fave Five, a chance to share blessings and favorite things from our weeks.

1. Fall Decorations

I may have mentioned how much I love Fall

happy fall yallI’m so. excited. to have my house over-flowing with oranges and yellows and reds!

Fall Flowers

2. Friends (and their kids)

We’ve been so blessed by the community the Lord has provided for us on the East Coast!  Wonderful friends I’ve hardly known a year who have kindly weathered with us some of the most challenging circumstances we’ve been through. I love the special times I get to have with my friends, as well as their kids!  I got to babysit multiple times this week and I treasure the moments with each child. And my friend, The Frugal Girl, has 3 daughters that come and spend the night pretty often with the Princess. We have such a blast together- we cook, knit, craft and laugh a lot. One of her daughters has painted me some beautiful water color paintings. She brought me this gorgeous one today:

S's Painting

3. Faithful Love

This year we celebrated nine years of marriage and he still writes me love notes on the mirror.  Today’s sweet words were courtesy of Shakespeare:

 All days are nights to see till I see thee,
And nights bright days when dreams do show thee me.

4. Fall Food

I love the way my house smells in Autumn!  Spices and baking.

On the menu today is mahi mahi in ginger curry sauce, butternut squash soup, brussel sprouts, and cooked cinnamon apples for dessert.  I came inside from picking the kids up from school and the house smelled a-maz-ing.  (Hubs had gotten home early and stayed back to manage the baking vegetables.)

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Lest you get a false impression- we do not eat like this every night. We may or may not have eaten cereal for dinner the last two nights because of ballet.

5. Finished Projects

I promised a peek at what’s on my knitting needles these days… I’m excited to say ‘not much’ because I’ve actually been finishing projects!  Whoo-hoo!  Binding off is a minor miracle for perfectionists. ; )

Presenting, the Sunshine Blanket:

Sunshine Blanket

Based on this blanket from The Purl Bee, I ripped out this particular blanket 4 or 5 times because I just. couldn’t. get. proportions. right. You’d think it would be easy since it’s straight garter stitch, but the yarn kept stretching as the blanket grew so I had to adapt accordingly. But now that it’s done, I’m so glad I re-knit it so many times- because it’s perfect (if I do say so myself)!  I’ll be snapping some better pictures with my friend and photographer over at B Claire and posting a pattern in October.

These are, of course, Pickles patterns. I heart Pickles.  The Chevron blanket is the same pattern my mum used for the Princess’ blanket and I just took it and standardized colors because I’m physically incapable of randomly knitted colors. The Enkel Vest is one of my all-time favorite Pickles patterns and I have knit it in nearly every size!

H's Chevron Blanket

H's Vest

These are all for my friend’s new baby girl!  I have a few minor details to finish on some presents for the big brothers (a star to crochet for the Dallas Cowboys scarf etc) and as soon as those are finished everything will be packed up and sent across the pond to England. I can’t wait to see pictures of sweet little H in her Enkel Vest!

Have a wonderful weekend and enjoy all the pumpkins & apples & spices!

Autumn, Anniversaries, and Book Piles

Happy First Day of Autumn!

I love this season so much, I got married on the first day of Fall nine years ago.

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My mother-in-love sent us the sweetest anniversary gift- matching Mr and Mrs mugs with “I found the one my heart loves” written on the inside.  I’ve definitely already used them and I love them!  Perfect for the ceramic year. 
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Of course, when Hubby unwrapped his, he exclaimed, “And Judas went out and hung himself! What kind of mug is this?”  I just love his quirky, hysterically funny sense of humor. It’s strange and sometimes dry, sometimes goofy… and it fits me perfectly. ❤

I have way too many piles of books around my house… and have passed the habit on to my son!  Every room in the house has at least one, sometimes more, pile of books that someone is actively reading at the moment.

What’s in my current reading pile:

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Deadly Companions: how microbes shaped our history – Hubby got me this for Mother’s Day (he totally gets me ❤ ).  I’m about half way through- it’s interesting. Certainly not the best journalistic take on bio-cultural systems and disease that I’ve read, but very interesting still. From this genre, I would be more likely to recommend The Great Influenza by John M Barry or The American Plague by Molly Caldwell Crosby.

Wounded Warrior, Wounded Home: Hope and Healing for Families Living with PTSD and TBI – Only a third of the way through this one.  It hits close to home and I need frequent breaks to process.  If you or someone close to you cares for a loved one with PTSD or TBI (or both), I highly recommend it.

On Intelligence: how a new understanding of the brain will lead to the creation of truly intelligent machines – Whoa, that’s insanely long sub-title.  This was a Christmas gift from my big brother, Dr P.  I’m about 2/3 of the way through this book and have found it very fascinating.  Hawkin’s premise is that the industry’s lack of success to develop true artificial intelligence is rooted primarily in its failure to define intelligence properly. He then lays out a theory of intelligence based on neuro feedback loops, etc.  It’s a bit techy at times, but definitely still accessible to the lay person (i.e. ME ).

To Repair the World – I haven’t actually started reading this one yet.  It’s next up.

Reimagining Global Health – Fantastic book.  As with all Paul Farmer books, I highly recommend it.  This particular book is geared toward people in the public health sector and reads more like a text or compilation of articles.  For a more all-around or non-technical look at healthy systems, disease and poverty, I’d recommend one of his other books, such as Infections and Inequalities or Pathologies of Power. Pulitzer Prize winning author, Tracy Kidder, also wrote a fascinating biography about Paul Farmer called Mountains Beyond Mountains.

Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God – my bible study is reading this and I’m really enjoying it.  I love all Tim Keller books, though.

I’m also listening to Til We Have Faces by CS Lewis and Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell on audio book.  I listen to Til We Have Faces while I paint or knit and Hubby & I listen to Outliers in the evenings after the kids are in bed.  I definitely have enjoyed and would recommend all of the Malcolm Gladwell books I’ve read thus far!

I need to work on finishing up some of these books so I can start the next ones! 🙂  I am really enjoying audio books right now because I can work on other things as I listen. Today I’ll be having a finishing party- weaving in all the ends for quite a few finished projects and hopefully finishing up Til We Have Faces.  Tomorrow I’ll give you a peek at what’s on my needles these days.

Friday Fave Five: Skating through the month

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Susanne at Living to Tell the Story hosts us each week to share 5 of the favorite parts of our week.

1. 3 Day Refresh.

I love BeachBody programs and this one didn’t disappoint.  I lost 3 pounds but more importantly it jump-started me on healthy eating habits that I’d grown lax on over the past few months.  I’m not gonna lie, I was crazy hungry the last night, but overall the rest of the the time wasn’t bad at all. Though Sunday night was hard- mostly because I ice skated for 2 hours and shoveled snow for 30 minutes on the 3rd day of 900 calories a day- overall I did not feel deprived of food because you’re consuming something every few hours.  I’ll definitely be doing it again when I plateau and need something to zap my metabolism to attention.

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But once in awhile I did think of this and giggle.

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2. The Princess is loving school.  This is a huge blessing.  I knew she would but still worried about it since she was so adamantly opposed to the idea at first.  And her new teacher is great. We had an unsavory experience with SoCal public schools, but I’ve been beyond impressed with the educators at her school so far.

3.  An ice skating birthday party with the Princess.  It was fun to get an afternoon out, just us. And we had a great time ice skating with her friends.

We liked to think of ourselves as this…

ice skating yes giphy

But in reality were more like this…

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We had so much fun I didn’t get a single picture!  🙂

4. Hubs was supposed to be out of town all week and ended up only having to be away Monday & Tuesday.  Though we do fine on our own when we must, life is always better with him around.  I never sleep well when he’s away so it’s comforting to have him home.  Excuse me while I go swoon.  😉

dalmatians giphy

5. Finishing projects.  I was able to finish 3 projects this week!  I hate weaving in ends and blocking and such, so I have to plan in times to finish up all the projects I’m working on.  I also cast on a fun new secret project and was able to problem solve a way to smooth out some edges that were pretty gnarly at the color switch.  They’re still not perfect, but a lot better, and I’ll keep experimenting to see if I can make it even smoother.  🙂

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And bonus, I got to go on a little reading date with this sweet boy.  He’s started reading chapter books and I’m having such a tough time finding age-appropriate books (he just turned 5 at the beginning of the month).  We’re doing Nate the Great and Encyclopedia Brown but any recommendations would be greatly appreciated!  He’s also in love with TinTin books. ❤

reading date

Friday Fave Five: Freezing

 

 

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Welcome to Susanne’s Friday Fave Five where we share five blessings from our week.

With The Princess’ first week back in school being riddled with snow days and late starts, I did not get the commenting and blogging done that I wanted but small progress is progress- I did get my house cleaned and lots of snuggles in.  My goal is to actually get around and comment on every body’s posts this week.  🙂

1.  My first blessing is surviving our first serious cold streak here.  Yikes.

IMG_3326 The first time we went out in “real snow”, Little Warrior got snow in his mittens so his hands got too cold and he screamed bloody murder (he does that, sometimes…) for an hour after coming inside, despite going straight in to a warm bath & sitting by the fire with hot cocoa.  But, after getting some new, water proof mittens to wear OVER the wool mittens, he’s gotten the hang of being out in the cold and loves it.

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They’ve mastered the art of sledding down the hill behind our house. 🙂

2.  Finishing & mailing a bunch of knitting and sewing projects, including this ginormous one. Whew.

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3.  Music.  More specifically, a sound system that plays it with amazing clarity and range.  Hubby wanted to use his Christmas money for a sound system on our main living floor, but I said, “Honey, we really don’t need it. I just play music on my laptop.”  Words I have since eaten with a slice of humble pie because I use the sound system all. the. time.  I seriously can’t hear Barber’s Adagio enough on it.

And Foo Fighters and Nirvana are pretty great on it too.

 

4.  Totally materialistic- but my next fave is pressies.   I got a few amazon cards and used them to buy a few books I’ve been wanting to read before starting grad school and then a bunch of birthday presents for folks. Then I used the money I would have spent on birthday presents to get a new purse.  I’ve been majorly crushing on this Marc Jacobs one, but no way I’m paying that much so I trolled eBay until finding this more affordable, used gem.  I’m in love.  And getting rid of all my other purses makes it sort of simplifying, right?

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And my awesome, leak proof Contigo coffee mug broke so my sister ordered me this gorgeous coffee mug that I’ve also been crushing on.  Squee.

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5.  Time with this little nut. I haven’t had much time to myself yet because of how schedules have been working out with snow days, but I’ve definitely had more time with this little guy and he’s a different kid with big sister being in school. Back to his old, sweet self. We are both such introverts that we can happily do our own things without talking while sitting in the same room. He loves to play with the Princess and can’t wait for her to get home, but she’s so extroverted and talkative, I think it just wore him out to be around it 24 -7.

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This Dino-ologist kit has entertained him for. hours. and. hours.  Even now, he’s sitting next to me meticulously brushing away plaster.  Oh my heart.

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When I was a kid I used to do my school work by the fire so my Mom named our homeschool “Fireside Academy”.  Little Warrior decided to continue on the tradition.  🙂

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He’s also obsessed with this carved angel and takes it around everywhere.  He cracks me up.

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That’s been my week of surviving the first winter storm.  We’re expecting more snow next week. Yay.  Where did you find JOY in the little (and big) things this week?

Friday Fave Fives: First of 2015

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Every week a lovely group of bloggers gather to celebrate our ‘Faves’ of the week.  It’s an exercise in gratitude and seeing the blessings in our days.  Susanne at Living to Tell the Story graciously hosts each week.  In case you missed it, I really need reasons to find JOY in my life these days!

1. My sister and nephew came for Christmas.  We all ended up sick so we stayed in all week and it was actually just what we needed.  A week of downtime while the cousins played and the adults drank copious amounts of coffee & tea.

cousins christmas 2015

2. FaceTime and Skype.  Staying connected with our families made the distance feel not quite so dismal. Though we missed talking with my older brother and his family. Hopefully, soon.  🙂

3. Hubby is home for the whole week!  It’s been amazing. After working 80 hours a week with almost no leave for 3 years, we are LOVING this new job.  Plus, he’s got a ton of leave saved up that he needs to burn.  🙂

4.  A surprise visit from a childhood friend of Hubby’s who is a Marine now. We just love opening up our home, and it’s fun to carry on in my parents’ tradition of giving a place of rest to young Marines in need of space from barracks life. He’s a great guy and it was fun to connect after years of keeping up via Facebook.

5. Lots and lots of knitting.  I actually made my thumb split & bleed at one point from knitting so much to try to finish a project before Christmas (I failed, but I’m mailing it off tomorrow).

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This is the Cabled Cradle Spread from Pickles but on bigger needles, with bigger yarn, and knit much longer.  I’ll post more details once the recipient gets it.  🙂

Bonus: Figuring out how to use Giphy in my blog posts:

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Because who doesn’t need more Kirk and Spock in their lives??

Happy New Year!  May the Lord bless you and keep you in 2015.

Catching Up- FFF

Each Friday Susanne hosts Friday’s Fave Five where we share 5 blessings from our weeks.

FFF fall flowers

I missed last week because we had company.  My sister and nephew were out for a long weekend, which is, of course, my first fave!

1. A Lovely Visit.  The cousins love to be together.

We visited a pumpkin patch one day

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went apple picking another (sadly, I forgot to take any pictures because we were having so much fun) and visited Starbucks and parks daily.

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Fort Smallwood has a little beach where the kids like to toss pebbles and wade in the water after running around at the park for a bit.

Relaxing and fun.

2. Speaking of Cousins, we have a new one!  Our little PAL was born last week and everyone is just SO excited. We haven’t been able to see her yet so I stole my mum‘s picture of this precious little one.  🙂

little PAL

3.  Domesticity.  We’ve been home a few days this week so I’ve gotten a lot done.  We’re caught up on the school we got behind on while family visited and I’ve cooked and baked up to wazoo. Remember how we went apple picking? Well… we may have gotten a bit carried away because we ended up with 27 pounds! So I made apple pie, tons of apple sauce, and while I was baking I figured I should make some honey whole wheat bread to go with the huge vat of minestrone soup I made.

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After sampling, I’ve concluded: 1) I make darn good pie 2) I have to change my pie recipe because.. 3) Produce on the East Coast is not nearly as flavorful as the West Coast

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The Princess LOVES helping in the kitchen 🙂

4.  Knitting.  The weather is turning colder and my knitting is constantly with me.  Hats, fingerless gloves, vests- all being knit in abundance as I use up my stash.

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Enkel Vest by Pickles

My sister decided to sneak a picture of me knitting at the pumpkin patch.  Apparently, normal people don’t do this??  😉

knitting pumpkin patch

Also, apparently I’m the only person who thinks it’s cold!  Everyone else was in short sleeves and my kids and I were bundled up in boots and sweaters.

5. Health & Fitness. A year ago I was overweight and miserable physically, emotionally, spiritually.  I’d gained nearly 40 pounds due to multiple failed fertility treatments and I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.  So I vowed that 2014 would be a healthy year for my family.  I still have a long way to go but I’m healthier and stronger each month, thanks mostly to my Beach Body programs (21 Day Fix and P90x3 for now.. I really want to try TurboFire and Les Mills Combat sometime soon, though!) and eating Paleo (and apple pie, of course)  I love Beach Body- it’s a fantastic company with solid products.

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Left was August 2013, though I looked like this until January of 2014.  The right is a few weeks ago.  I still have a ways to go before I feel like myself again, but bit by bit I’m getting back into shape and I love it! Except today because I’m SO. SORE.  Curse you, super burpees.  😉

It’s a beautiful, sunny day so we’re finishing up school early and heading out to enjoy a hike!

Infant Loss Rememberance Day 2014

October is Pregnancy and Infancy Loss Awareness Month and October 15th is Pregnancy and Infancy Loss Remembrance Day.   At 7pm we lit our candles in remembrance of little ones that went to heaven too soon.

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This article sums up so well all the thoughts and feelings I’ve come to know deeply, even though I’m not quiet about our journey and struggles with infertility and loss.  I wear my story around my neck nearly every day.  A sweet friend of mine sells Origami Owl jewelry.  You can pick different charms to put in your ‘living locket’.  Mine represents my family.   A birthstone for each child and a heart birthstone for my husband.  A crown because the Lord reigns in our home. And wings to remember our little one I miscarried.  On the kids’ adoption day, I added a dangle that says “forever” to represent that we are a forever family.   I wear my heart plainly for all to see.  But so many women (and men, men hurt too and get forgotten all too often) bear the burden of loss in silence.

O2 Love Locket

I share openly of my own personal pain but I know my grief is small compared to friends who have delivered their babies stillborn or watched their children fight and lose to cancer or deal with the shock of a drowning.  So much sadness. Such deep grief.  My heart breaks for these friends. I’ll never know or understand the depth of their sorrow.  But I weep for them.

I pray as you sit quietly at baby showers.  I pour my heart out to the Lord on those painful anniversaries that you try to steel your heart for each year.  I see you wince at the careless words, meant kindly, that cut a searing line straight to your broken heart.  I had but a portion of your grief and it overwhelmed me.  Where can we find comfort in all this sorrow?

infant loss awareness month

(I’ve really appreciated the missional motherhood blogs over the last few months. They have a little bit for everyone and range in topics from nurturing a young child’s heart to blessing your family as an empty nester. They had a good one on infertility too.)

Our only comfort is found in Christ.  Through all the sorrow… through all the emptiness and pain… the Lord is our rock and our shield, our joy in mourning.    Please know the only way to find joy again is in life with Christ. Life abundant and everlasting.  He bore all for us because he loves us.

He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.  Isaiah 53:3-5

He bore our grief that we may find joy and life in Him.

As I lit my candle last night, I lit it for my sweet one in heaven.  But I also lit it for you who grieve silently. Who have never shared the story of your sorrow.  Know you aren’t alone and you don’t have to bear the burden in isolation.

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On a lighter note (and because knitting IS my therapy)…  I’m an Enkel Vest knitting machine right now.  I’m trying to use up my bits of stash yarn and this darling vest pattern is great for using up the little balls wound up here and there- plus it’s adorable.

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