I created this blog when my sweet little girl, Kristen, was diagnosed with cancer, for the third time. After fighting for almost 3 years Kristen was called home to that same God who gave her life. I've contemplated on many occasions rather I should quit this blog or not. Each time I am inspired that I should not. One of my favorite quotes comes from Neal A. Maxwell- "Those who "plow in hope" not only understand the law of the harvest but they also understand what growing seasons are all about. True, those with genuine hope may see their proximate circumstances shaken like a kaleidoscope at times, yet with the "Eye of faith" they still see divine design." Kristen blessed lives and continues to do so. Her light continues to shine. As for me, I continue to "plow in hope" knowing well that Kristen is mine for eternity. Families can be together forever! This I know. Our family continues to live and to love and this is our story...

Monday, November 29, 2010

A mixed bag

This past weekend has been filled with all sorts of holiday stuff.
We went into the mountains to cut down Christmas trees. It was beautiful.
The air was crisp, clean and cold. We then went into a small town for a Christmas parade.
 I felt like I was straight out of the movie "The Christmas Story."






Today was decorating day for the Festival of Trees.
Kamie and I arrived early as we both had a tree to decorate.
The trees ended up being perfect.
Mine had a Pooh Bear theme and Kamie went with an angel theme.
Both trees are dedicated to Kristen.
As I was checking my tree in the volunteer noticed the picture of Kristen.
She asked if she was a family member. The tears came and I could barely answer,
"Yes, she's my daughter."
I walked around the corner and there I saw several of my neighbors
also decorating a tree for Kristen. I just stood there fighting back the tears.
I was overcome with gratitude for their kindness and the beautiful tree they decorated.
Under their tree was also a picture of Kristen.
As I walked around yet another corner I saw a another picture I recognized.
There beneath a small pink and white tree was a picture of two little feet.
The little feet belong to Sienna.
Once again I stood there and could hardly move as I thought about her.

I think we are all doing the same thing...
~ taking the pain and trying to make something positive out of it.
and it's hard.
It seems  that no matter how much I try, I only miss Kristen more.
She consumes my every thought. A friend recently said that she can't even imagine
me without Kristen and her with out me. We were always together side by side.
I am trying to make the best of this holiday season.
I think Laynee's  mom said it best,
"There is a narrow place that allows me to enjoy the celebration with my
living children while my heart aches for my child who is in heaven.
Rejoicing and mourning can walk together."





I hope to have pictures of the third tree up tomorrow.
It's beautiful!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Still Standing...

thanks in a big way  to these little guys. I do believe I made it through my
first Thanksgiving without my girl by my side.
 There were quiet moments and tears shed,
 but I think we all felt the spirit of Thanskgiving as we thought about Kristen
and the wonderful blessing she was and still is in our lives.
Isn't family a wonderful thing?






I have many projects that I am working on as part of "Kristen's Light."
I have been feeling a little overwhelmed as time is quickly getting away from me.
 My projects need to be wrapped up in the next week or two so I can get them all
delivered in time for Christmas.
This coming week is the Festival of Trees, in which I am donating a tree,
 I have also signed up to volunteer for 4 days. I am really looking forward
 to this opportunity to give back to the hospital.
The activity bags and hats will be delivered to the cancer kids in the next week or two.
The Build-a-Bear drop will take place that same week.
I need 24 bears as their are 24 beds in the cancer unit.
I have already had several bears dropped off at my house, and thanks to Black Friday Specials and midnight shopping I was able to get 12 more
last night for only 10 bucks each. Yeah! 
On Sunday, December 12th there is a Worldwide Candle Lighting event
put on by The Compassionate Friend, which is a support group for parents who have lost a child. We chose this to night to honor Kristen and are asking our family and friends to also light a candle in remembrance of her. I have some cards I would like to send out to many of you, however, I have lost the notebook that contains the addresses of all those who sent Kristen a card or a gift. I would love you to e-mail me your address so I can get a card in the mail.  Kristen's e-mail is sheisourangel@gmail.com 
 If you haven't already sent me your address on facebook,
then please send it to me at this email.
Thanks from the bottom of my heart for all or your kind words and support.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

It looks like a busy Thanksgiving weekend is soon upon us. I thought that if I kept myself busy the loneliness wouldn’t be so evident. Now I find myself busy and lonely. Its funny how you can be surrounded by people and still be lonely.

I have been working on Kristen’s corner. I have moved most of her things up to her room and have replaced her desk with a table adorned with her pictures. It is one of those bitter sweet kinda things. When you walk into the family room and see that her desk is missing you feel a  void, then you take a deep breath and see her beautiful pictures and some of her favorite things and soon your heart begins to warm.

I have thought a lot about Thanksgiving and the whole grateful thing.
I can honestly say that even though this might be my toughest Thanksgiving, my plate is still so very full of so many wonderful blessings. This past 2 years there have been so many prayers offered in Kristen’s behalf. Even though we didn’t get the miracle we were hoping for, we received so many blessings. I have relived Kristen’s last month, her last week, her last day, over and over in my head. I can honestly say she was blessed and so were we. Our prayers were heard and they were answered. Our sweet little girl was spared much suffering and pain. I have seen so many of these cancer kids suffer till their very last breath. Not Kristen. And for that I will be forever grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who have supported me these past 2 years.
 I could have never walked this road without you.

Her corner...

A sneak peek of the tree we are decorating for the Festival of Trees.

Monday, November 22, 2010

This is hard

As Thanksgiving is getting closer, I find myself in deep thought wondering, how I might do this. My mind keeps going back to last year. Kristen and I spent Thanksgiving in the hospital. She was upset as she knew well it was Thanksgiving and she wanted to be home. She knew the tradition and she wanted to be part of it. I tried to make it fun for her. She passed out See’s chocolate turkeys to all of the nurses, we made turkey crafts and of course her door was decorated for the occasion. She had a Thanksgiving feast placed before her even though she didn’t feel much like eating.

I was reading my post from last Thanksgiving and this is what I had to say…

"I could really be bummed today, spending Thanksgiving in the hospital with a sick little girl. But I choose not to. It seems the bitter chill of adversity has been chasing me for some time, however, I am quick to realize that I am surrounded by goodness and that I am being cheered on from every side.
 I may not be feasting on Thanksgiving, but I will take time to give thanks.
On this Thanksgiving I could be full of negative emotions, anger, resentment, bitterness. Instead I choose to fill my soul with love, faith and thanksgiving."

I really said that a year ago? I had to read it twice to make sure I read it correctly.
Now this year I would do good to take my own advice from last year and attempt to say the same thing. Only this year it’s hard.
Really hard.
I can do hard things. maybe




Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Littlest Angel in Heaven

The Littlest Angel in Heaven
by Deanna Edwards

The littlest angel in heaven
Loves kittens and cowboys and fun.
Heaven will never be just as it was
Now that his life there's begun.

He'll turn fluffy clouds into snowmen
And swing on the stars up above.
He'll turn golden streets into playgrounds
And fill up God's home with his love.

He'll make dandelions out of sunbeams
And find grassy meadows for playing.
His laughter will ring where the great choirs sing,
But he'll hear me whenever I'm praying.

The littlest angel in heaven
Is one I am longing to see,
For the child that belongs now with Jesus
Is the child that belonged once to me.
Yes, the child that belongs now with Jesus
Is the child that belonged once to me.


This makes me think of my little angel.
I just need to change the cowboys to puppies and it's a perfect fit.



Thursday, November 18, 2010

her light

What do you get when several women gather together,  bring their favorite soup to share, and spend as little as 2 hours working together?

This is what you get…
~24 activity bags all stitched and filled
~a dozen warm hats adorned with organza flowers to warm the bald heads of cute little girls
~several headbands also  adorned with organza flowers
When the ladies from my church heard about the projects I was working on for the Children’s Hospital they asked if they could help. And help they did. What would have taken me several days and many hours to accomplish was finished in just under 2 hours. I am so very thankful for their kindness.

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “It’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness.”
Some days my life can be pretty dark, quiet and empty. The day Kristen left, a piece of my heart went with her, which leaves me with a hole. Some days it can be a very large dark hole that soon feels my world with sadness and darkness. Some days that hole becomes a window, a window to heaven. Soon Kristen’s light is illuminating through that window and my world begins to glow
as it is filled with her light, her goodness,
her smile, her laugh, her courage, her love.
Rather than sitting here in the darkness,
Today I choose to light a candle.

I am feeling her light as I sit here surrounded by gifts ready to be delivered to the hospital that so valiantly cared for her and to her friends who continue to
fight the battle that she once fought.
All of these gifts will be donated in her name
~as her light continues to shine.











Friday, November 12, 2010

My Girl... the Dragonfly

The Dragonfly

Once in a little pond, in the muddy water under the lily pads,
there lived a little water bug in a community of water
bugs. They lived a simple and comfortable life in the pond
with few disturbances and interruptions.

Once in a while, sadness would come to the community when one of
their fellow water bugs would climb the stem of a lily pad and
would never be seen again. They knew when this happened; their
friend was dead, gone forever.

Then, one day, one little water bug felt an irresistible urge
to climb up that stem. However, he was determined that he would
not leave forever. He would come back and tell his friends what
he had found at the top.

When he reached the top and climbed out of the water onto the
surface of the lily pad, he was so tired, and the sun felt so
warm, that he decided he must take a nap. As he slept, his body
changed and when he woke up, he had turned into a beautiful
blue-tailed dragonfly with broad wings and a slender body
designed for flying.

So, fly he did! And, as he soared he saw the beauty of a whole
new world and a far superior way of life to what he had never
known existed.

Then he remembered his water bug friends and how they were thinking
by now he was dead. He wanted to go back to tell them, and
explain to them that he was now more alive than he had ever been
before. His life had been fulfilled rather than ended.

But, his new body would not go down into the water. He could
not get back to tell his friends the good news. Then he
understood that their time would come, when they, too, would
know what he now knew. So, he raised his wings and flew off
into his joyous new life!

~Author Unknown~

I have heard this story many times. Each time I stumble onto it or see a dragonfly
I think of Kristen... I think of her soaring.
Even though Kristen loved the life she had here I can only imagine the life she has now is far more superior.
Many days I feel like a little water bug.
 I often feel like my days are sliding by, pointlessly.
 I miss Kristen, I miss taking care of her, I miss her smile, her laughter,
 everything about her. 
Then I think of her and where she is now,
and I know she is soaring. She doesn't have cancer anymore.

Today I found this dragonfly Christmas ornament and of course I had to have it.
Then I ran into this lamp. I have been looking for the perfect lamp to go in her corner.
I had to have it too. It's perfect!
Lilies and a Dragonfly.

My sweet little water bug left the pond to fly.
Oh how we miss her.





Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cookies

Kristen loved to make cookies. Here is her recipe:
1 large Tupperware bowl
Fill it half full of water
Pour in 1 bottle of vanilla
1 full container of garlic salt
1 full container of cream of tarter
And at least one or two more full containers of special spices
Stir above ingredients with a large wooden spoon
Then ditch out of the kitchen before mom finds you.
What a stinker she was!

Whenever any of us were making cookies or a cake we would always invite Kristen to help us. She was always happy to help. If we didn’t make cookies often enough then
she would proceed to make her own batch.
Even though she loved to make cookies, she hardly ever ate them.
 Once in a while she would take one bite out of
chocolate chip cookie and then she was finished.
She liked cake but with no frosting.
 As for candy, she only wanted to buy it for other people. She never ate it.

I’m not sure if it is this cool weather or what but I actually made cookies today, the first time in many months that I have felt like doing such a thing. Kamie made these a few weeks ago and they were really good. I thought I would give it a try and they are pretty good and easy so I thought I would share the recipe.

M&M Cookies

Cream together
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 cup shortening
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
Add:
2 eggs and mix well
Then stir in
2 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Mix well and then add
¾ Cup M&M’s

Use a cookie scoop and drop on a cookie sheet. Push a few more M&M’s on top of each cookie.
(I actually flatten them down a bit before I cook them.)
Bake at 350 degrees for 9-11 minutes.

Enjoy!

 
Both of these pictures were in 2008. One in November and one in December.





Monday, November 8, 2010

Kristen's light round 2

More Activity Bags!
The sweet ladies from my church are having a humanitarian service project. They have chosen to honor Kristen and help me with some of my projects. Yeah! I could really use the help. We are going to make 24 Christmas activity bags for the children in the hospital. We are also going to make organza flowers that we can sew on hats and headbands for the children in the cancer unit.

Notice the cute spinning lights in the picture? We have been looking everywhere for these and finally found them at Target. These lights were a favorite of Kristen's so we are happy to add them to the bags.

I am glad to have something to focus on.
I knew this time of year would be difficult and I was right. I keep telling myself,
“I can do this. I can do this.”
I sometimes think it would be easier to stay in bed,
then I think of Kristen and I get up.
Thank you to all of you who continue to encourage me.
You have no idea how much it helps.

Kamie just came home with another sack of stuff for the bags.
thanks Kamie!



Friday, November 5, 2010

Another Anniversary

Seems my life is full of these. Only today is not the kind to celebrate. It was a year ago that Kristen relapsed. She had been off chemo for 8 months and seemed to be finally getting her strength back.  After her monthly blood test we got the call from her doctor telling us that there were blasts in her blood. I remember the day like it was yesterday and yet is seems so long ago. So much has happened. My life has changed. Everything is different now. I am at a place I hoped I would never be,
but somehow I knew it was coming.

 I have been working on a few projects this week. Projects I have put off and hoped I would never have to deal with. But dealing with I am. Kristen has always had a corner in our family room. It was her corner. She had a desk set up complete with all her favorite things. A television, VHS player and recorder, a DVD player, scissors, notebooks, her own little coke fridge, markers and paper, did I mention paper? She had a desk chair, but never wanted anything to do with it. She always stood and danced around. Then cancer came and we moved a big somewhat cozy chair in front of her desk. As time  has gone on her little corner has remained almost as she left it. I knew I needed to get her stuff moved up to her room. It has taken me all week and I am still not quite finished. I work for a while then I pick up something and sit and cry before I can go on. Everything is so full of memories. Memories I am so thankful for. This corner is still her corner. It will always be her corner. I am working on putting something there that will pay tribute to her. Whenever any of us pass her corner we will think of her, we'll pause and be reminded how grateful we are to have had her in our lives.
Beneath the sadness and the grieving we can't help but smile
 as we know the quality of her existence here on earth
far exceeds the amount of time she had here.
Kristen taught us so so so many things.

I had the opportunity to meet some other cancer moms for lunch today. These women are an amazing example of strength and perseverance. They talked about ways we can help other cancer moms. They have some great ideas in the works and I am honored to be a part of their efforts. We have all been there and heard  the words, "Your child has cancer." That is when the lights go off and you find yourself standing there in the darkness. Some of us had someone to take our hand and lead the way, others didn't. These women want to make a difference and make sure that there is someone to reach out and to take the next hand. There you go,
 the light our children shining bright.

Kristen's corner

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

thankful

thank-ful
feeling or expressing gratitude; appreciative.

I've been thinking about this a lot as I have been searching for some Thanksgiving decorations to adorn the house with. I can't find any. Where's my turkey? I kept asking. Oh wait, remember the flood?
I soon thought, "who needs a turkey?"
Across the mantle I can display things I am thankful for.
The first thing that came to mind is my family.
I have been blessed with 6 children. 6 children in 12 years.
They are close in age but they are also close. Close to each other.
They are each others best friends and for that I am thankful.I
 Kristen truly loved and adored each one of them and they her.

This is Christmas 1995, Kristen was still receiving
chemotherapy for her second leukemia.
Yes. I always bought the girls matching dresses at Christmas time.


Spring of 1997


What are you thankful for?

Monday, November 1, 2010

The white dress

Kristen never really liked to wear a dress. To her a dress meant that she was going to church. Church was never her favorite place. It’s not really that she had anything against church she just wanted to stay home. Home is definitely where her heart was.
It was almost 2 years ago and I was getting some Christmas shopping done.
 Kristen had finished her second round of chemo as her
 fight with leukemia has recently begun.
She was very sick.
To me, her future was a blur. In my mind I wanted to believe that she could win this fight.
 In my heart I knew she was standing in the middle of a ferocious battlefield.
I always bought Kristen’s clothes at Target. They had the perfect pants for her.
They were the leggin type pants that she could pull off and on easily. She was independent and wanted to dress herself. In the past she had a couple pair of jeans but had a hard time getting the snap done, so long ago I quit buying jeans and only bought the stretch leggings. She loved them and owned every color. I was shopping for pants and noticed a cute but simple white dress. I knew she could use another dress but I also knew she was sick and probably wouldn’t be able to wear it for several months.
Then this awful thought entered my mind.
What if? What if the worst imaginable happened?
I would need a white dress.

I stood there in target and the tears came. How could a mother even think such a thing?
I put the dress back and with tears running down my face I hurried out of the girls section. I wandered through the store like a lost child. The image of the dress kept coming back. It was the perfect dress. It was loose, comfortable and she could easily slip it over her head. After wandering for what seemed like a lifetime I went back to the girls department. I kept telling myself that she would soon be
well enough to go to church and she would need the dress.
 I quickly threw the dress in my cart and got out of there like a bat out of somewhere.

Christmas came, she had just finished round 3. She was weak and pale and she looked just like she had been in a battle. The chemo was wearing her down. But her spirit was shining through and there was still much hope. The white dress was in her pile of gifts and she hardly noticed it.
Months passed and the white dress hung untouched in her closet.
 I didn’t take her to church as there were too many people and too many germs.
 Then the following October my dad passed away.
That was the first time she wore the white dress.
Soon afterward, she relapsed.
The dress again hung in her closet for months.
The following July there was to be a wedding.
Both of her sisters wanted to share their wedding day with her.
Again the white dress was brought out 
 Kristen looked like an angel in her white dress.

13 days later the dress was again needed.
It was July 22nd, two days prior Kristen had passed away.
I washed and ironed the white dress,
found her cute lace socks and headed to the funeral home.
I met her 3 sisters and her sister in law there.
Baby Claire was only 3 days old and she too came with us.
With heavy hearts and tears we did the unthinkable.
We went to the basement and there she was on a table with a sheet.
We did what seemed to be the hardest thing any of us had ever done.
 We dressed her in her white dress and her white lace socks.
We painted her nails in the palest pink and we put a
pale pink bow around her almost bald head.
Then we put a tiny white pearl bracelet around her wrist.
We all stood there, so honored to be in the presence of such a special angel.
 Her body was lifeless and we all knew it no longer housed her spirit, but her spirit was there as we all felt her presence. We all know and have a firm testimony of the fact that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, are taken home to that God who gave them life.
That was very evident that day.
We miss Kristen more than we can say.
We will hold the memories of the white dress in our hearts forever.

Kristen at her grandpa's funeral.



Kristen at her sisters weddings
also wearing the white dress.




The final time she wore her white dress
 because angels wear white.