CS Lewis once said that "grief is like the sky, it covers everything." In recent weeks, our family has found that this is so very true. It seems that there is no right or wrong way to travel this path of grief. I have created this blog in hopes that some day we will be able to look back on our journey and see written proof that our great God never leaves us. God is good all the time.

Celebrating Laynee

You might want to scroll to the bottom of this page and pause the music before playing this video.

Friday, August 27, 2010


Jalayne Grace Holmes was beautiful from the moment she took her first breath.  There was something about her that attracted people.  Of course, most people are drawn to a small child.   Children are beautiful and innocent.  They bring smiles, peace and contentment.  I had 5 small children before Laynee and they, like all children, drew their share of attention. Yet, there was something different in the effect that Laynee had on others.  The fact that she has Down Syndrome, I'm sure, played a role in this.  But still, there was something different.  She had the traits and features of Down's but she was extremely high functioning.  Her therapists and doctors marveled at her development. She could be very naughty at times but she was so real, so pure, so without pretense.  She did not fit the Down Syndrome mold nor the normal child mold.  It is as though she were in a category of her own.  Sometimes people felt the need to chastise us for treating her as if she were more special than our other children. I remember one particular instance and have to laugh as I remember the look of utter disbelief on my children's faces.  What this person failed to see was blatantly obvious to our children and I believe it was Grant who said  "of course she's treated more special, she IS more special."   Jim and I did not love her more than our other children.  We did not cherish her more.  However, we all loved her in a different way.  We loved her in a way that was fiercely protective.  In turn, we learned from her in a way that we have never learned from another.  Laynee was different, Laynee was special. 

As I look back to the last week of her life I am keenly aware that her level of "special" went to an even greater degree in those days.  She went from being special, adorable, precious to "GLOWING."  Days before the accident we were at one of the first cross country meets of the season and Laynee positively oozed with love.  I recall a large group of children standing around her, watching her, captivated by her joy.  There was one little girl, whom Laynee had never seen before, sitting on the grass and Laynee walked up to her and gave her one of her delightful hugs.  A stranger; a total complete stranger, but Laynee loved her.  While at that meet, a mother to one of Jade's teammates stood watching Laynee.  She looked at me with a look of awe and said "Karol, she glows,"   Later in the week, at another cross country meet, another mother, whom I've never met, said to me "she is so beautiful, she just glows." 

On Sunday, the day before the accident, at Giant City State Park, there were several minutes when Laynee and I spent some time alone.  Jim, Grandpa Glueck, and our 4 older children went for a hike that I opted out of.  Grandma Glueck, Moise, Jalayne and I walked around the park near our cars.  I decided to take a walk to some play equipment with Jalayne. Because the terrain would have been difficult for Moise to navigate in his walker, Grandma kept him near the car.  The play equipment had swings, jungle gym and slide with a soft ground cover.  There were several other children, all boys, playing here also.  I noticed two women that were watching Laynee intently.   One of the women was taking pictures of the little boys with a camera that had a large lens.    The woman asked me if she could take some pictures of Laynee, to which I agreed.  She snapped many pictures of Laynee climbing the little steps, going down the slide, playing in the wood chips.  When she was finished she put her hands over her chest and said to me  "that child GLOWS."  That woman has no way of knowing that she shot the last photo of Laynee's life on earth.  She has no idea what a priceless treasure she has in her possession. 

At the time, I didn't think much of the use of the word "glowing" in describing Laynee.  I thought they were simply words to describe the joy that she exuded. Now, in hindsight, I can't help but wonder, was there something more?  Was God preparing her for her quick exit from this earth?  Was she touching people in a heavenly way because her remaining time on earth was so short? Did she, in her childlike innocence know her Jesus in a deeper way than those of us here.   Was my Lord, unbeknownst to me, preparing me for the tragedy that we would soon face?  I cannot know the answers to these questions.  I have no proof that God was doing something big in Laynee, right before our very eyes.  I will never know, this side of heaven, if my little girl's "glowing" was anything more than a despcriptive word for her joyful countenance. However, these words and the precious memories of her last days give me a deep sense of peace.  They are like the soft voice of my Lord saying, "I knew."  He knew what I did not;  that in just a couple of days he was going to have her in heaven with Him.  He knew that she was on the last leg of her race and that she was winning. I believe that he looked down and saw her love, her peace, her trust and joy and he knew.  He knew that our little Laynee Grace was just too perfect for this earth.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Along Comes Bennett

The past several weeks have been filled with much prayer and soul searching as I face the start of a new school year and ultimately a new chapter in my life, a chapter that does not have Laynee's presence written within it's lines.    Life has dealt a hand that has been difficult to play.   For me, the world seems to spin on a different axis than it did just one short year ago.

 I had been contemplating returning to my laboratory career and found that I could return to the medical office that I worked in a few years ago.   While I was definitely interested in this position, I also struggled with feeling somewhat apathetic about it. I am no longer the person that I was before. I think differently. My interests are different. My priorities have been forever altered. Those things that once seemed so important to me are now of little or no value. Things taken for granted or gone unnoticed before are now priceless to me. 

I returned to the lab last week.  I will work all day on Tuesdays and in the near future will likely add Thursdays and possibly Fridays.  I am enjoying being back at work  and am thankful for a career that feels natural and that I am very confident in.  I do have some concern about the fact that, since the accident, I  have dealt with an inability to focus and absentmindedness.  I am hopeful that being back at work and using my mind in this capacity will help me to regain some sharpness of mind. 

In addition to the lab, on Mondays and Wednesdays, I will be providing childcare for a beautiful little boy named Bennett.  This oppurtunity evolved when Bennett's mother, desperate to find child care for her multiply disabled son, was referred to me by my adoption case worker and Moise's speech pathologist in Urbana.  Bennett has a condition known as Charge Syndrome.  He is deaf, blind in one eye, developementally delayed with very low muscle tone, and was born with a Cleft Palette and thus struggles with feeding issues.  The bulk of Bennett's nutrition is given through a G tube in his belly.  This week he underwent surgery to receive bilateral (both ears)  cochlear implants.  Having dealt with all of these challenges, and then some, in either Moise or Jalayne, with the exception of the Cleft Palette, I am very familiar and not the least intimidated by any of these. 

For nearly ten years Jim and I have lived the struggle of finding quality and competent childcare for children with special needs.  It is difficult, at best, to find someone willing and able to take on the extra care that kids like Moise and Bennett require.  My experience is also that when this type of childcare is found, the cost is outrageous.  I wanted very much to be able to help this young couple and selfishly I longed to be able to care for and love Bennett and to receive the benefits that I know will come with him. 

For a time it looked as though I would not be able to work and keep Bennett as they both needed me on the same days.  Jim and I were not in agreement on the direction I should take.  He wanted me to go to work, I wanted to care for Bennett.  We committed the situation up to our Lord and then stepped back to allow him to work.   I cannot help but marvel at how he worked out all the details so beautifully. I will have Bennet on Monday/Wednesday and work Tuesday and maybe Thurs/Fri.

I will not officially begin keeping Bennet until the end of September.  However, I had the oppurtunity to have him just a few hours earlier this week.  He's beautiful.  His smile is infectious.  He is pure and simple and perfectly formed as God wanted him to be.  Instinct tells me that this little man is going to bring healing to my aching arms.  I must admit, though, that in those few hours I experienced a great deal of anxiety over the fact that something could happen to him while he is in my care.  I cannot bear the thought of another child coming to harm under my watch.

I find myself wondering, not for the first time, why it is that God seems to see fit to bring little people like Moise, Jalayne, and now Bennett into my life.  I stand in awe of the way that he orchestrates everything.  He puts people in exactly the right place at exactly the right time in order to accomplish what his people need.  How else could it be that Bennett's mother, a social worker, just happened to work with the social worker that we've known for so long on such an intimate level.  How else could it be that Bennett just happens to be going to Carle Clinic for his hearing needs and that he just happens to have the same speech pathologist as Moise had.  It's not happenstance.  It's GOD.  Bennet needs me and I need Bennett......... God knew it long before any of us did

Isaiah 25:1
O LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name,
for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things,
 things planned long ago.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Back to School

All 5 of my living children got up early this morning, ate breakfast and took a little extra care in getting ready.  There were photographs and much nervous anticipation.  At promtly 8 am, all of them were out the door. Jamee, Grant, Jade and Brock left at 7:30 in Jamee's little car, and Moise climbed up into a bright yellow bus at 8.  Today is the first day of a new school year. 

As I came back into the house after seeing Moise off, I was struck by the eariness of the silence in my home.  The only sound being the hum of the air conditioner and the parakeet who seems to protest the quietness.  I know that I experienced this same silence when the kids returned to school after the accident but I have no memory of that.  I assume that my mind and body were still in a state of shock, running on auto pilot, going through the motions that were required of me, yet not feeling, processing or retaining any of it.  I also assume, though I cannot really recall, that at that time there were many supporters surrounding me.

Today Laynee's abscence was deafening.  The memory of last year's first day of school, just weeks before we were asked to give Laynee back to Jesus, slammed into me like a violent physical assault.  She was radiant, she was beautiful, she was love, joy and hope combined in one stunning package.  She was also sad.  The image of her dismay that her beloved siblings were leaving her is stamped upon my brain.  In her disapproval she plopped down,  in perfect Down Syndrome style, all the while waving and saying "bye bye."  Jade's voice rang in my head saying "bye bye, Layne, love you, you're so pretty, 'kay."  I could see the kids pulling out of the garage wearing mixed expressions of humor and sadness as they observed her dramatic reaction to their leaving.  Above all, I recall  the quick and immediate return of hope filled happiness as we ran to the front door to wave from the window.  Her love spilled over as they passed by and with beaming smile she wrapped her arms around my neck saying "huuug." 

This morning the air was cool outside and we opened the windows.  The smell was that of "back to school" and something else.  The smell of fresh morning air, with the promise of warmer temperatures as the day goes on, combined with the smell of ripe seed corn drying in preparation for harvest will forever remind me of back to school.  This year and, I suspect, for many years to come, it also reminds me of the time of year when Laynee died

  I miss you Layne
  Love you
     You're so pretty, 'kay

My 3 girls on the first day school, last year.  Notice the
look on her face.  That's a little concern that maybe things
aren't quite right.  She had a funny feeling that everyone but
her was getting ready to go "bye bye"

First day of school 2010
Jamee---- a SENIOR


Brock......7th Grade

Moise..... 3rd Grade

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Laynee's Garden

As the anniversary of Laynee's accident draws near, I've had many people ask "what will you do on that day?"  September 7 is the actual day, but it seems that for us, the entire Labor Day weekend is connected to Laynee and to sorrow. I can't help thinking that it will probably always be this way.   All that I really want to do is to be close to home where comfort, safety and familiarity reside. 

We will spend Labor Day weekend planting Laynee's memory garden in the space where our swimming pool once stood.  Jim has been working on adding new stairs, railing and skirting to the deck where the pool and surrounding deck were torn away.  This job has not been an easy one.  Ordinarily, adding something new in or around the house is accompanied by a feeling of excitement, or at the very least, accomplishment.  In this case the new addition to our deck signifies everything that went so terribly wrong on Labor Day 2009.  Every board, every nail, every stroke of the staining brush brings a sense of sorrow.   It is with great sadness that I have watched Jim work on this project.  Though it is the most befitting way to fill this area,  I desperately wish that we were not creating a memory garden for a little girl who should be splashing and laughing in the water that once occupied that spot.

  I know that someday this will be a place that I will cherish but right now the thought of  growing up plants, when I should be growing up a child, is so painful.  I was reminded today of a phone conversation long ago, when my 4 oldest children were all under the age of 5.  As I spoke to my mother that day, I vocalized some stress over the fact that I hadn't had time to get my flowers planted and there were weeds growing.  She said "don't worry so much about that, your children are your garden now."   My heart is struck by the irony that  the ability to "grow" Laynee has been taken from me and I am left once again with growing flowers. 

I really cannot articulate the emotion that this garden stirs inside of me.  All summer I have looked forward to this project.  Now that it is here it feels like another notch in the timeline of grief.  I know that I can never look at Laynee's Garden with only joy but must once again find room for both joy and sadness.  There will always be joy in remembering the life that she lived and sadness in knowing that, according to my plans, she was taken far too soon.

Though it was not intentionally planned this way, the walkways in the garden, when viewed from above, will create a "peace" sign.  Jamee and I stood on the deck as I tried to help her visualize where the walkways will be.  As she began to see my vision she said, "so it will be like a peace sign?"   I had to smile because that is exactly what it will look like:  PEACE......that was Laynee.

We've had several things given to us for the garden.  My friend Jill brought a ornamental grasses, stating that "they stand tall and mighty....and continue to grow each year...just as Laynee continues to grow in the arms of her father." She also brought daisies because "it symbolizes innocence....what better way to describe the life of a precious little girl."  My sisters, Karla and Fern, have contributed a beautiful smoke bush and a rose.  At the time of the accident, the kid's schools and athletic teams gave them several gift cards to landscaping companies which will be used.   There are several flowering bushes, along with some burning bushes that grew beside the pool, which will be moved into the garden.  We have several stones with quotes on them that were sent to her memorial service.  There have been many who have expressed that they would like to contribute plants.  From my own experience, the plants that grow the best, are those that are shared.  That said, my hope is that those who wish to add to Laynee's garden will take starts from their favorite plants within their own flower beds.  Obviously, some plants will have to wait until later in the fall, when they are past blooming and safe for digging but we can get a really good start that weekend. 

Though I am not exactly sure of how I will do this.  My hope is to keep track of what each person contributes and I will place markers next to that plant,  indicating those who were touched by Laynee.  I also hope to make markers with many of the memories that people have shared about what made her so special.  I have pages and pages of quotes from people who felt compelled to share their memories.  Laynee's sweetness will tell it's own story through the words of those who met her.

Many have expressed interest in being a part of planting the garden.  Anyone who wishes to stop by and take part is welcome.  We will begin on the afternoon of Saturday, Sept 4, after Brock runs in his first cross country invitational that morning and take up again on Labor Day.  We would love to see you, whether you knew Laynee a little or a lot.

Today my mom brought a beautiful stone that she picked up over the weekend.  The stone has a pinkish cast and the words inscribed on it read:  
If Love Could Have Saved You
You Would Have Lived Forever

There are no words that could sum it up more perfectly.  Never was a child more loved than Jalayne Grace Holmes.  We would have given our life for her.  When Marty and I worked so hard to save her, we poured every ounce of love we had into her.  We breathed love into her.  Jim, Karla and the children poured their love out in the form of prayers.  We gave everything we had to give..... but it was not enough.  Our love did not save our baby girl, perhaps because we could never love her like her Father in Heaven loves her. 

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Last Year at this Time

The month of August has proven to be a dificult one.  Those days and weeks leading up to the accident are, naturally, the clearest and most beautiful days that we remember of Laynee.  I remember, sometimes with vivid detail, the things that Laynee was doing a year ago. When I look back at the photos taken in the weeks before the accident, they seem as if they were taken only yesterday. 

One year ago we were beginning to see the emergance of a very strong personality in this little lady of ours.  The the constant battle to keep those silly glasses on her face had begun. We were constantly looking for glasses as she was constantly hiding them.  Oh how I have to chuckle to think of how she always knew where they were and how she very delightfully directed us to them. This fact alone is a beautiful testimony to the innocence that she possessed.  To her, leading us to the hidden glasses meant pleasing us, it never registered in her little mind that it also meant having to wear the dreaded things again.   Those who are new to our blog might appreciate this sweet story about her glasses.

 She was beginning to be much more vocal and we were beginning to hear the formation of long awaited words.  One of her favorite words was "bye bye"  and it was always said with an adorable wave with her arm extended, bent at the elbow, palm facing straight down.  When she said "bye bye" her voice was the softest of whispers.   She innocently assumed that any and everyone who came to our house was there for the sole purpose of taking her "bye bye".  At this time last year her love for outdoors was great.  She seemed to hear the door opening no matter where she was in the house and would get very upset if anyone dared to go out without her.  My heart aches as I recall that sometimes Jade would make her escape to the swing without Laynee.  Laynee would then run to the window with giant, but silent, alligator tears with lips turned down.  Jade would see her sadness from her spot on the swing and it got her every time.  She couldn't resist Laynee's silent, mournful expression and without fail, would come in to take her out with her.  The transformation from sad little girl to joyful exuberance was instantaneous when she realized her sister was coming back for her.

On this day last year, the Sunday before school started we had friends over to swim in the lake with us.  When we came inside to enjoy some snacks, Laynee was seated right smack in the center of the table.  She entertained us all with her sweet personality.  My friend, Paula, reminded me today of how much love Laynee had that night and how everyone was enamored with her sweetness.

  As we approach the anniversary of Laynee's death, I am keenly aware that our happy memories of "last year at this time" are numbered.  In just 3 weeks, the memories of  "last year" will change from happiness and joy to sorrow, mourning and debilitating grief.  Never again will I be able to look at a photo of Laynee and say "That was taken 'last year at this time.'"  Time and life have continued.  One day has turned into another.  Our "last year with Laynee" is running out.  As time goes on she feels farther away from us.  The image of her beautiful smile becomes increasingly difficult to pull from the compartments of our minds. 

I wonder how it is that we will manage to make it through another year without her.  Yet, even as I wonder, I know the answer.  We will make it in the same way that we made is through last year, one moment at a time, with the grace of our Lord.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Nothing to say

..............but I miss her desperately

I miss those sweet floppy ears....

....chubby finger
...... precious little toes
.....ever messy hair
I miss it all

Monday, August 9, 2010

Every Day Life

In the 2.5 short years that we were blessed with Laynee's presence in our family, I have very few regrets.  We loved her with all that we had.  We drank in every moment of her sweetness.  Some would say that she was a bit spoiled and that may well be the case; I'm so glad she was.  I did leave her with her babysitters, Kathy and Karen, on a regular, weekly basis.  To regret that would be selfishness, as both Kathy and Karen have shared with me that she served an important purpose in their lives and has made a profound impact on them.  She gave back so much more than anyone could ever give to her. 

It goes without saying that my life's greatest regret is summed up in the last two minutes of her life, the minutes when my attention, and that of everyone here,  was diverted from her.  Otherwise, I have only one other regret about her life and lately it seems to haunt me relentlessly.  It is not an act of commision, but rather, one of omission.   I will forever regret that I did not take enough pictures of every day life with Laynee.  I have many, many pictures of her, yet not enough.   I have photo after photo of her dressed in cute outfits, posing with her sisters, and many of her "firsts" but I failed to capture many of the moments of every day life.  It is those things that she did day after day that I find myself longing for most, and it is of those things that I have no photo to look back on.

As we approach the one year mark, I remember so vividly what she was doing exactly a year ago.  It was about this time that she began to be enthralled with her hee hee's next door.   I have no picture of her and her hee hee's.  She would stand, endlessly, at the fence seperating her and the bawk bawks (chickens), never seeming to tire of watching the gangly, ugly creatures.  She would pick blades of grass, squat down with her backside nearly touching the ground, and feed the blade to the bawk bawks.   I never captured this on camera.  Hours and hours we spent taking her for rides around our property on the golf cart.  There are no pictures of her on the golf cart.  We would stop every time as we passed by her mmmms, just so she could see the cows again.  She was never photographed with the mmmms.  I have no pictures of her running/waddling, as fast as her little legs would take her across the pasture to Aunt Karla and Uncle Marty's.   The image of her carrying a large zucchini or squash from the garden has not been frozen in time.  Her long, sloppy drinks from the water hose are  viewed only from the album of memory.  The image of nightly walks around the lake, holding tight to her daddy's hand can never be shared with others, because it is only preserved in my mind. 

All of these things, so beautiful, so perfectly Laynee, so taken for granted, were priceless photo oppurtunities that I missed.  I suspect that if the story had a different ending, I would have captured all these things with my camera in the next weeks, before the cold weather set in.  I didn't appreciate these moments enough.  I assumed that we would have many more of these experiences.  Never did I imagine that our time with her was about to be cut short.  Forever I will regret this omission.  I will always remember, but never again view the wonder in her eyes as she watched and learned and marveled at the things of every day. 

I have made a point this summer to capture those priceless, every day moments.  Life, grief, sorrow and  pain have taught me that when all is said and done, the little things are what matters most.

Jamee is often found playing the piano, a sound I love to hear
Jade spends many hours swining back and forth on the swing. 
Always the same swing.  Sometimes she sings....loudly ;-)

Grant and Moise have begun a new habit every night after dinner. 
Moise climbs up on Grant's lap during Bible time.  They share a
special bond and it never fails to melt my heart. 

Moise loves riding on the golf cart and someone is always
happy to do the honors of driving him.

Finally, many summer evenings find the Holmes kids spending time
with their cousins and neighbors, Danielle, Corey, and Garrett. 
Our lake provides hours of summer fun. These seven kids share
a very close relationship.  They are neighbors, cousins, friends, and
sometimes they fight like siblings.   They share an unlimited supply
of memories, most of which are made outdoors.  Together they swim,
walk, dance, sing,  hunt, ice skate, bike, sled, and play ball.  They have
shared 9 years of laughter and good times.  Now they share the
memory of one awful evening and the tragedy that claimed our
Laynee Girl from us. 
The girls always find something imaginative to do together.
For those of you who do not know us well, can you tell which ones
are my daughters and who belongs to my sis, Karla.  They are often
called by the other's name and often asked if they are twins. 

The boys have a strong tendency to just jump in
wearing whatever they have on.  I wonder why it is I buy
swimming trunks?
Garrett and Brock
jumping together.  I think
they were shaking hands.  Or was it
high fives?  Something like that.

Enjoying the evening sunset
but always out of the water by dark

A little football toss, with dad being the "arm"
Once again, can you tell who's who?
The one on the left is my Jade, on the right is Karla's, Dani.
Special Cousins, Special Friends, and...... well.......Just Special

Lord Jesus, help me to never take for granted the beautiful moments of every day, because I know now
that sometimes tomorrow never comes.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Special Job For Laynee

I can't pretend to have a full understanding of what takes place in heaven.  I've wondered many times about what it is that those who have gone before us do in heaven.  I believe that they are actively praising our Lord with everything that they do, that every action is one of perpetual worship.  I also believe that the saints in heaven are given jobs and that one of those jobs is to pray for and be near to those on this earth, especially those who were dear to them on earth. 

I talk to Laynee all the time.  I tell her how much I love her, how much I miss her.  On days like today I say things like:  "it's been 11 months since I got to hold you and it seems so long.  I know it hasn't been long at all for you, but for us it's been forever."   I don't get answers but I do talk to her and believe that she hears me.  In addition, I often sing to her.

I have been talking to her very recently about a special job that she is about to get in heaven.  On Sunday, August 9 my 18 year old nephew, Wade Jeffrey Sinn, will be leaving for San Diego where he will begin basic training for the Marine Corps.  He will be there for 13 weeks of training, home for 1 week, and then begin his life as a Marine, wherever that may be.  It is with a myriad of emotion that we send Wade off.  We, our entire family......brothers, parents, aunts, uncles,cousins, grandparents,  are very proud of him for the decision to serve this beautiful country in which we live. We also feel a sense of trepidation that stems from the unknown.   Life in the military can be uncertain these days.  We do not know where he will be in six months, or six months after that and on and on.

As I lay down to go to sleep last night, my heart was heavy for my sister, Wade's mother, Gail.  As mothers, we have the inborn need to care for our children.  We need to be needed by them, to know that they are okay, to be there for them.  As Wade begins his life in the Marines, Gail's role as his mother will change dramatically.  No longer will she have daily contact with him and often she will not even know where he is.   While ultimately, Wade belongs to our Savior, in an earthly sense, he now belongs to the Military.  He will no longer answer to his parents but to those men who are ranked over him.

I find a two fold sense of comfort as Wade leaves and Laynee is given her new job in heaven. There is comfort in knowing that Laynee has such a special job, and there is comfort in knowing that someone so close to Wade will be watching and praying for him. It is unfathomable to think that Laynee, who was so very busy and needed help with everything, is more capable of watching out for Wade now than any of us here can be. While we all will pray for Wade from afar, Laynee well know specifically what he needs at all times.   She will watch him, she will love him in a way that even his parents cannot.  She will also be there to pray over Gail and Jeff as they take up their new role as military parents.

Watch over our Wade sweet Laynee Grace. 
It's a very important job to do.

We Love You, Wade

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Seeking Direction

Summer is winding down.  That back to school aura is beginning to fill the air in our home.   Jade, especially, gets excited for school to begin.  The calendar is packed with appointments that need to be squeezed in before school starts.  The kids are wanting to get in a few more fun summer activities.  Shopping has begun.  Everyone needs new pens, binders, folders and someone usually needs a new calculator or lock.  New jeans, new shoes, new bookbags, sports bags, lunch bags, the list goes on and on.  The girls and Brock are preparing to start running with the cross country team once again, a sure sign that school is coming.  There is an odd sense of excitement and dread:  excitement at seeing all their friends and rehashing the summer's events, and dread at the thought of long lectures and homework filled evenings. 

For me, anticipation of a new school year means seeking direction in where to go from here.  For 11 months I have felt as though I have been wandering in the wilderness.  I've spent the 5 months since the sale of my business as a stay at home mom.  The time spent at home has been much needed and much appreciated.  However, I'm a busy, active person and just being at home, alone, with all 5 kids in school is not healthy for me.  There is, after all, only so much cleaning and cooking that a person can do and I would soon find myself idle.    The question is, which direction do I want my life to take?  More importantly, what would my Lord have me to do as I move forward?

Finding something to do is not a problem.  Life has given me experience in many areas, all of which I enjoy and can see myself doing.  I love my career in the medical laboratory and can be very content in that field, though I would not say that I am passionate about it.  It's a good job, a good source of secondary income, but I learned long ago that it's not my calling.  My experience as small business owner provided me with experience and license in food service and sanitation, while fine tuning my management skills.  I also gained a great deal of confidence in the bookkeeping area.  Moise and Laynee both have provided me with a knowledge and deep understanding of children with disabilities.  Because everything in the special needs area was learned from the school of "hard knocks," they are things that I'll not soon forget. 

In the past few weeks I have made a few phone calls inquiring about possible oppurtunities and that snowballed into even more oppurtunities.  In addition, there were some things that came to me from, seemingly, out of nowhere. Suddenly I have gone from having no idea what I'm going to do, to having so many oppurtunities that I have to pick between them. Therein lies the greatest challenge  I wish that I could do all of the things that have been placed before me, for they all have different, appealing attributes.   Yet, to attempt them all would be foolish and unrealistic.  And so I must choose.

My greatest desire, as I seek to find my way in the aftermath of tragedy, is to be in a place where I can be a servant for my God.  Some of these potential positions have much greater financial benefit than others but I really do not want that to be my focus.  I am not so foolish as to believe, even for one moment, that God needs me for anything.   He does not need me, but he wants me to have a heart willing to serve him in whatever capacity he asks of me.  Part of honoring God is to honor my husband and his wishes.  Jim and I have discussed the options at great length and he has only one request of me, that the direction I take gets me out of the house and around people at least some of the time.  I admit that my home has become a haven for me.  There is safety in familiarity and I could easily get into a rut of not wanting to leave my house or be around others. So, as I seek the Lord's direction, honoring Jim's wish that I get out around people who will edify me, is a top priority.

For now, I am content to sit and seek and listen.  Part of this seeking experience requires waiting to see how things play out.  I am confident that in His time, everything will fall into place and He will place me exactly where He wants me.  This morning I was reminded of Job.  As he faced great adversity, he occasionally lost his way.  He didn't know where to go or what to do.  He cried out in chapter 22 that "I do not find him....I do not see him."  Still, he trusts in Him  Job 22:10  "But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold."  God knows where I am, he knows my sitiuation.  He alone knows my heart and he knows where I can best be used by him.  I know also that   "all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28. 

I pray for his guidance and direction, that whatever I do can be used in some small way to bring glory to his name.  I pray that I might have no vain ambitions but that I might be his servant.  I pray that somehow, he will take the pain and sorrow we have felt and use it to bless another. I pray that Laynee and all the love, joy and peace that she exuded can live on through my own actions.   I was reminded also this morning and pray  that I can remember John 3:30 He must become greater, I must become less.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

She Ought To Be In Pictures

   I have always enjoyed taking pictures and consider myself a photographer wannabe. However, since Laynee died, even something as simple as taking photos has lost the joy and pleasure that it once held for me.   Her abscence is glaringly evident with every photo that I take of my children.

On our recent vacation I was struck time and time again with the reminder that our sweet little girl is not here to pose with the rest of my children. Each time the children gathered together in front of the camera lens I found myself mentally painting Laynee into her rightful place.  I would put her there on Jamee's lap, holding Brock's hand, or perched on Grant's arm. This was especially painful whenever pictures were taken of the girls together.  My third and youngest daughter is missing and will forever be missing and it hurts. 

Moise, of course, was not in the pictures either as he was not on the trip with us.  I've always disliked the fact that on our fun, sightseeing vacations Moise is never in any of the pictures.  Yet my mind knows the reality that Moise could never enjoy the long days of being outdoors, hiking and climbing in the hot sun.   I know also that when we return, Moise will take up his rightful place in the family photos.

 The void where Laynee should be is permanent.  She is not missing from the photos by choice.  She is not home enjoying being spoiled by babysitters, aunts, and grandparents.  She is not going to be with us on our next trip.  She has been taken from us in a way that seems cruel and unfair.  I know that one day we will be with her again, we will see her smiling face.  We will not need photos to preserve the memories.  The fact is, I want her here now.

I've added some pictures of our trip and while the average person probably cannot see it, my eye knows right where Laynee should be in most of these pictures.  Of course, I've added a few, not because Laynee would be in them, but because they are just fun pics.

And .............our sweet Moise on our last family trip