On sorrow

The end is often closer than we realize. Sometimes it is unexpected. Sometimes we are waiting for the inevitable. We can be thankful for the small things. Holding a child for the first and last time. Relief that the suffering is over. Ushering in the end with a peace that surpasses understanding. Knowing that the Father's arms are waiting on the other side.

The hardest part is for all the others left behind.


A celebration of life

This weekend, I was able to share in such a special celebration of life. I am blessed to have a group of friends with whom I am celebrating 20 years of friendship, life, heartache, and joy. On Thursday, Rachel gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl. Miriam and I were able to share in Eve's homecoming this weekend. I am so grateful for the opportunity to have shared with these girls kindergarten, the ugly middle school years, high school graduation, all three of our weddings, and now the birth of a child. Holding Eve for the first time made me so grateful that, despite our different personalities and faults, these girls have loved and supported me. As I watched Rachel as she held Eve (which wasn't much, between me, Miriam, and Hugh passing her around!), I understood what it looks like to see the bond between a mother and her child. It was amazing to be able to rejoice with Rachel in her new bundle of joy!

Yet, my heart continues to be burdened for little Samuel. I find myself checking Bryan and Kathryn's blog hourly to see if there are any updates. While I rejoice with those who are rejoicing, I find myself mourning with those who are mourning. Bryan blogged last week that he is continually praying that their family would be on our hearts, and I am reminded of that every time Samuel comes to mind. One family who is rejoicing and celebrating their new life, and one family is handing their sweet baby to Jesus. Yet we can celebrate both lives, for each has such a special purpose, though we may be unable to see it right now. The Lord is the giver of joy, peace, sorrow, comfort. I struggled this weekend trying to reconcile my joy and my sorrow. As I held Eve, my heart ached for Kathryn, who hasn't held her child in four weeks.

As I think about life and death, I am drawn once again to one of Mattie's poems. It is amazing to read the thoughts of a child, especially on such a difficult subject. His poem may seem lighthearted, but to me, it's a picture of a child facing the reality of death with courage and hope.

Heavenly Greeting
Dear God,
For a long time,
I have wondered about
How you will meet me
When I die and come to
Live with You in Heaven.
I know you reach out
Your hand to welcome
Your people into Your home,
But I never knew if You
Reached out Your right hand,
Or if You
Reached out Your left hand.
But now I don't have to
Wonder about that anymore.
I asked my mommy and
She told me that You
Reach out both of Your hands,
And welcome us with
A great big giant hug.
I can't wait for my hug, God.
Thank you,
And Amen.

What a sweet picture to see our Savior reaching out His arms for His children. I pray for an earthly miracle for Samuel. But I am so thankful for the eternal miracle that one day he...I...you...will be welcomed into the Savior's arms with a great big giant hug.

Let us be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.


Samuel and Mattie

My heart has been burdened for a little boy I've never met. His name is Samuel, and he's a miracle. His parents were teachers at my high school, and have two adorable, healthy little boys. And then, there's Samuel. Not only is he a miracle, but he's a medical mystery. The doctors are having trouble diagnosing and treating his conditions. I keep up with Samuel's progress through Bryan and Kathryn's blog, and each day, I'm hoping to read good news. Some days are good, and some days aren't. What amazes me most is the strength that Brian and Kathryn have shown through the whole ordeal. It is a strength that surpasses understanding. They have a unique compassion and yearning not only for the healing of their own son, but for the other children in ICU.

As I read about Samuel, I am reminded about another little miracle. His name was Mattie Stepanek. Mattie is another little boy I never met, but he is one of my heroes. He was born with an aggressive type of muscular dystrophy, as were his siblings. He coped with watching his brothers and sisters succumb to the disease by writing poems, or Heartsongs, as he calls them. Mattie's book, Journey Through Heartsongs, has become a source of comfort and encouragement. Despite having lost two siblings to the same disease that he was dying from, Mattie choose to look at his glass half-full, "because if you live life feeling like your glass is half empty, well, it might as well be empty all the way."

Mattie was very real about the pain he experienced. He never denied it, but he also didn't let it dictate how he would live. His life was full of hospitals and tests and doctors and disease. But it didn't beat him. As I read Mattie's writings, it reminds me of the strength Bryan and Kathryn show every day. My heart aches for them as they are navigating life with a sick child. But sweet Samuel is fighting. The doctors are fighting. Bryan and Kathryn are fighting. And we are fighting with them every day. I haven't seen Bryan and Kathryn in years, but little Samuel is in my heartsongs and prayers every day.

Mattie was just eight years old when he wrote the opening poem of his book. When I read it, I think of Samuel, and the miracle of his journey so far. I encourage you to join Samuel on his journey by praying for his healing.

Prayer for a Journey

Thank you, God,
Not just for life,
But for our journey through life.
Life is a miracle,
And a journey through life
Is full of so many more miracles
If we travel with our Heartsongs.
Thank you, God,
For blessing me with the
Gift of Heartsongs,
So that I can enjoy my miracles.

For Bryan, Kathryn, and Samuel...may you find strength and comfort for each day, knowing that you have a multitude praying for your little miracle.


Don't stop believing...

Pandora has become my new music obsession. I type in "Footloose", click a few thumbs ups, and BAM! I have a station full of 80's classics. Have you ever had "that song," the one you hear on the radio and it evokes that special memory or feeling? Now, it all fairness, I actually have a rotating jukebox of "those songs," but the current song of emotion-evoking is "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey. One of my all time favorites. Also, it's in like 63 movies from the 80's. But whatever. They hit the chorus and I can't help but belt out those last lines! (What are street light people, anyways?) Most recently though, this song makes me excited for the GLEE premiere on Sept. 9th!!! (You'd think I was getting paid to promote this thing!) I must be releasing my inner show choir girl. But seriously, I'm admitting that I'm slightly obsessed. And I'm sure I'll need some good laughs this semester.

Check out the cast singing my favorite song of all time...

I'm here to audition for the role of kicker!


My 18th First Day of School

Charlie: Babe...you've gotta get up at 5:30! Why are you Facebooking?!?
Me: I'm not Facebooking. I'm blogging. A blogger can't go on vacation.

So technically, I'm not on vacation, but I did promise a first day of school blog. It's actually my (and I had to use my fingers to make sure I got it right) 18th first day of school. Since I'm in school for 9 consecutive semesters, I feel that it's safe to say that this is my last first day of school. I was planning on posting a first day pic from back in the day and then one from today, but in my rush to get out the door this morning, I neglected to document the momentous occasion. Plus, now I get to spare myself the embarrassment of digging out one of those old pictures!

Charlie: Lauren, it's 10:30.

So, in case you were wondering, nothing particularly exciting happened today. I spent the morning studying in the library (can you believe they give assignments before you've even started class?!?) and then had my anatomy lab. Dissection doesn't begin until Friday, so we reviewed bones of the lower extremities.

No drama until the ride home. Someone was robbed at the Five Points station and the police took off pseudo-running after him. And you know that guy from the Mad TV skit in the movie theater? The "the back a your head look ridikulus...can I have your number? Can I have your number?" Yeah, Darrell sat two rows back. And was drunk. I changed trains.

Tomorrow is get-mostly-naked-with-people-you-just-met day in functional anatomy. I'll let you know how that goes. :-) No pictures though!

Charlie: LAUREN!!! (Gotta go!!!)


Good intentions

The road to hell is paved with good intentions...

I "intended" to do a much better job blogging than I have actually done. In my head, I have written a post about the end of our trip to move Caroline up to Indiana, and a very witty and funny post about the bears we literally ran into on our hiking trip. But alas, I got distracted. Caroline moved into Briscoe Dorm at IU.

Of course, Briscoe triggered "Bristow", as in Bristow, Sydney. Arriving home, I find that Caroline has left seasons 1 and 2 on her desk (McKay wouldn't take them because the boxes are in Chinese!). What does a good sister do? Steal them, of course! Charlie and I are now racing through season one. TV shows on DVD's are glorious for two reasons. 1) No commercials. Just a 2 second blackout and we're picking up where we left off. 2) We don't have to wait a week while Sydney is falling down a hole on Mt. Anacongua to see what happens (BTW...her leg catches the bottom rung of the ladder and she miraculously climbs back up to save Dixon.) In fact, there have been several nights where Charlie tells me that we have time for "one more episode!" Music to my ears!

However, Alias too must go on a hiatus. I had my first day of orientation for PT school today, where they threatened my life if I show up late for class or don't pay my tuition on time. And, as a welcome to grad school, the profs have graciously posted our assignments that are due on the first day. So tonight, instead of Alias, I will be watching instructional videos on human anatomy dissection...which, honestly, is quite cool. I would hate to leave everyone else out, so if you want to join me, you can watch them here. However, the faint of heart can always check out Alias at blockbuster...


On the road again

I'm blogging from a hotel room in Indiana...not as exciting as blogging from Tahiti or Bora Bora, but it will have to do for now. Caroline is starting her master's program at the University of Indiana after swearing that she would NEVER go back to school. Isn't it always like that? So I decided to document our latest sisterly adventure...

Saying goodbye to Jake...

Starburst sandwich...

Briscoe Hall. Alias anyone?

She's super!

Check out my facebook album for lots more pictures. And congrats Jeanine! My fav from the beginning. Mark your calendars for September 9th...SYTYCD and GLEE!!! :-)


Who knew it could be that easy?!?

Thanks to Becca for recommending The Cutest Blog on the Block! Now my blog is far from boring! You can check out Becca's blog here. For quick and easy blog background, visit TCBOTB.

Two blogs in one day. I'm setting a record here!

Sheer bliss...

Sheer bliss...that's what I felt Monday morning. Why, you ask?

Yesterday marked the return of teachers all around metro Atlanta. Unless of course, you teach in Cherokee or Henry counties, which started school today. Or Gwinnett or Cobb, which mandated two furlough days to make up for the budget crisis. We become creatures of habit, so it was quite different not showing up at school for a week of pre-planning activities.

There were parts of teaching that I honestly loved...the thrill on a child's face when something "clicks," the hugs in the morning, arriving to school feeling exhausted and having a little girl say, "You look beautiful today, Mrs. Haws!" I loved my co-workers and the camaraderie we shared. But there was plenty to make me come home and cry at the end of the day...county politics, uncooperative parents, trying to figure out how to be a fair disciplinarian, not having enough resources for the kids, and spending my time in crowd control rather than teaching.

I am grateful for the time I spent teaching. It was the hardest task I've ever undertaken, and I know that I'm stronger for having been challenged and stretched. But no amount of growth is worth the stress that teaching put on me personally and my marriage. Not everyone has the same experience that I did, but the emotional drain was at times absolutely unbearable. Needless to say, the amount of relief I felt when I was done was refreshing. Charlie said it best: "I have my wife back."

Now, don't get me wrong...I'm about to embark on an even more difficult challenge in PT school. It's not going to be easy. In fact, they compare it to the first three years of med school. But to me, it's different. I have worked extremely hard this past year to even get into school, taking classes at night and all summer. I worked three jobs last summer to get in all my observation hours. I sacrificed weekend activities to complete homework and lesson plans. I feel like I have ownership of my education. And that makes all the difference.

So to all my teacher friends, whom I dare not list by name, lest I leave someone out...happy Tuesday! You are one day closer to the weekend!