Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Empty Room

This was posted on a blog (that I can no longer find) by another mom. I hope it pricks your heart, even if you have not experienced this same loss:

“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.” --Matthew 18: 12-14

There are “holes” in our family, something that a general observer would not see right away. It takes an extra moment to realize that all of the baby pictures on our wall are not only of our daughter. There needs to be a closer look taken, to notice the golden image of a kneeling boy that is nestled in amongst the lights and the garland on our Christmas tree each year. This year, we have the bittersweet experience of buying another special ornament, this time for our little Ezra.

If there is anything that this experience has taught me, it is the poignant cry of the empty room. In our little fold, there is a small bleating that is missing. There is still a bedroom that sits vacant, almost as though it has been holding it’s breath, waiting for the joyful arrival of it’s occupant. This sighing is probably the simple echo of our own hearts, as we try to digest the reality of no longer having Ezra here.

I am sure that people mean well when they say, “at least you have your daughter”, but they simply do not understand. I love my little girl so much, so very much. Yet, she is her own person, and can never fill the hole in my heart, where I mourn our baby. Finally, I began to understand the importance of Matthew 18:12-14, to truly see how much that God longs after every lost sheep. While the child within my home is precious to me, my heart weeps over the absence of the little lamb that I cannot hold. In our house, there is an empty room. I wonder if our heavenly Father doesn’t feel much the same way about His own great house.

In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. –John 14:2
Again and again, my mind runs back to the parable of the prodigal son. Knowing how much I long after my children, it brings the story so much life. I can see how a man of stature could throw aside all pride, not caring about how he looks to the world, running down the road to take his son in his arms. Now I understand more about the importance and the haste in sharing the gospel. For as much as I long to spend eternity in heaven, and to have my children there beside me… how much more so much God, who designed and created every facet of our beings? While flipping through the tv channels, I came across the movie, “Ray”. In one scene, Ray is a young boy who is outside playing with his little brother, George. In a terrible accident, George falls into a wash tub and drowns while Ray watches, too stunned to move. As their mother rocks and cries over her dead son, she looks up and asks Ray, “Why didn’t you do something? Why didn’t you call me?” Why didn’t you do something. One child stands and watches another lose their life, and is too overcome by fear to move. It’s tragic and terrible, and yet I know that it is happening every day. I have been that child, standing and watching. I know that many of my other brothers and sisters have done the same thing, paralyzed by the fear of what other people will think of us. Now, having an empty room myself, my own heart grieves for what our Father must feel to see us stand by the side, and not do anything to help His children who are drowning. No wonder why He calls us again and again to speak His Word, and to be His hands out in this world. We are surrounded by dying children.

Glory Baby

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going…But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”--John 14:1-4; 26-27

With so many people in urgent need of prayers right now, I hesitate to ask for them for our family. Not because God's too busy, but because I don't want to push anyone else off your personal prayer list. But I'm asking anyway...we are entering the one-year anniversary of the worst week of our lives. I apologize to all the "laborers" of the world, but Labor Day will always only be about Ruby for me. That Friday was the last day I was sure I felt her kick. Saturday was a blur, at home getting things done around the house. Then at church Sunday morning, I spent all of class and worship wondering what was wrong. We drove to BG as soon as church was over and I spent the next 36 hours trying to will little Ruby to wake up and kick, and slowly coming to grips with the reality I did not want to face. Back to Nashville Monday (Labor Day) evening, then on to Vanderbilt to confirm the awful news. Our Ruby Anne was gone. 24 weeks growing strong...and then nothing. She was born into our arms on Wednesday, September 6, 2006, at 4:33 pm. One pound, 12 inches, dark hair, tiny fingernails. We spent 6 precious hours cuddling the tent that would have been her. Sunday, September 10, we buried our daughter.
It feels just as real today as it did then. We've healed a lot in the year since she died, but this week the pain is all flooding back. Jared was so strong in protecting me and our family, through prayer, from Satan's attempts to use that time to divide us. We grew so much as a couple and as a family in the months following, in great part because of his constant prayer for us, especially for the weeks (months?) I could not put together a coherent thought, much less a prayer. Please pray that God will continue to protect us from Satan's attacks on us and division in our family. Pray that He will draw us close and that we (I) will not push Him away as I grieve all over again.
"Glory Baby, You slipped away as fast as we could say baby, baby,
You were growing, what happened, Dear? You disappeared on us baby, baby
Heaven will hold you before we do,
Heaven will keep you safe
until we're home with you, until we're home with you

We miss you everyday, miss you in every way
But we know there's a day when we will hold you, we will hold you
And you'll kiss our tears away, when we're home to stay
We can't wait for the day when we will see you, we will see you
So, baby, let sweet Jesus hold you, til Mom and Dad can hold you
You'll just have heaven before we do,
You'll just have heaven before we do…

Sweet little baby, it's hard to understand it 'cause we're hurting,
we are hurting...But there is healing
and we know we're stronger people through the growing
and in knowing...All things work together for our good
And God works His purposes just like He said He would,
just like He said He would

But we miss you everyday, miss you in every way
But we know there's a day when we will hold you, we will hold you
And you'll kiss our tears away, when we're home to stay
We can't wait for the day when we will see you, we will see you
So, baby, let sweet Jesus hold you, til Mom and Dad can hold you
You'll just have heaven before we do
Yes, you'll just have heaven before we do…

And I can't imagine Heaven's lullabies and what they must sound like
But I will rest in knowing Heaven is your home and it's all you'll ever know
Baby, it’s all you'll ever know, all you’ll ever know…

We miss you everyday, miss you in every way
But we know there's a day when we will hold you, we will hold you
And you'll kiss our tears away, when we're home to stay
I can't wait for the day when we will see you, we will see you
So, baby, let sweet Jesus hold you, til Mom and Dad can hold you
You'll just have heaven before we do
Yes, you'll just have heaven before we do,
You’ll just have heaven before we do..."
--"Glory Baby" by Watermark

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Jared's "New" Ride

After almost 10 years of driving a now 14 year old (been wrecked for 8 years!) car ('93 Civic), Daddy's got a "new" ride! It's a 2001 Acura Integra GS-R sedan (a stick, of course). After searching locally, he finally found this one in Pennsylvania! He flew to Philadelphia, test drove and bought the car, and drove it home. It was a good deal and in great shape. And we learned that there ARE still some honest and kind strangers left in this world. We're very excited for him! Though Noah was hoping for a pencil from "Pennsyl"vania, he and Maddy were glad to ride to school Monday in an unwrecked car. And Maddy was thrilled to report, "I could like, seriously, see the sky from IN that car" (whoa, dude, it's a moonroof!). Congrats, JL!

Prayers for baby Bennett

I'd like to ask all of you to pray for baby Bennett Mitchell Speck. He is the grandson of a family we go to church with at Brentwood Hills (Steve & Cilla Speck). He's a week old and fighting for his life at Georgetown NICU in Washington, DC. You can find updates for him at, including instructions for a Prayer Pager to let his parents know he's been prayed for, which I think is an awesome idea. We could all use one of those!! I know personally how the prayers of others LITERALLY sustained Jared and I when we lost Ruby. I can't imagine the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual exhaustion of having your own child in NICU on a heart-lung machine fighting for his life. Thank you for praying for this family.

White house visit

For those who don't know, my maiden name is White, so my parents' house (actually a log cabin) is referred to in our family as "The White house". On Sundays as we were leaving church, we kids would ask if we could go somewhere to eat and Dad would say, "Yeah, how 'bout the White house!" Groan. Now the White house is about my favorite place to eat, although Jared will tell you I still LOVE to eat out (anywhere except McDonalds).

The rock at the White house is one of the main attractions. Noah's even giving us a little presidential wave! It's hard to tell from the pictures, but there are 127 trees (just a guesstimate) on this 1+ acre lot. When I was a kid, it was awfully important that the sticks be picked up off the ground before Dad could mow. Now that there are no kids living there, it's somehow not all that important :-) Jared's found the same to be true at his parents' house about the apples in their yard being picked up...absolute necessity when HE lived at home, but once he moved out, suddenly not a big deal at all. Anyway, Mom told the kids she'd pay them a penny a stick for what they picked up (MY kids get paid, I did not, just for the record). Maddy picked up 175. Noah picked up about 16 and spent the rest of the time complaining that there were just too many sticks and he's always the one who has to pick up sticks. Jack picked up one stick and then used it to find bugs. That "experiment" pretty much sums up the Smalling children. I could SO write a birth order book!

Heat Relief

Jared and the kids washed the old Civic just before the draught/heat wave began. You can see our grass was still somewhat green. Noah brought in the Super Soaker and kicked things up a notch!

JACK: Need I say more?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

"Standard School Attire" begins!

On Monday, we walked (from the parking lot next to the school) Noah to his first day of Kindergarten and Madeline to 2nd grade. Noah has the same teacher Mads had, which they are both excited about. Madeline has enjoyed walking Noah to his class this week. I thought things couldn't be better, until I went to pick them up this afternoon and they were both inside in the office!! It's only Noah's 4th day of school! Turns out they had been "playing" and Noah ended up with a skinned elbow and Madeline a skinned knee. They weren't in trouble, they just went in to get bandaids. But, seriously??!! I guess I never actually told them specifically not to wrestle in the parking lot, but who knew I needed to????!!!!

Morning Dropoff & Afternoon Pickup

Jack Attack

So this happened before I started this blog, but I have to include it for those of you who have not seen it. My sweet little Jack climbed up onto the counter in the kitchen and decided to use the closed gallon of paint I had there (preparing to paint the dining room) as a step to reach gum on top of the fridge. I think you can tell what happened next. Fortunately, everything except the floor itself cleaned up...and we were planning to replace the floor anyway, so it wasn't the end of the world. And yes, all the paint came off him in the shower. Only Jack...

Beech Bend & Land Between the Lakes

This past weekend, Jared, the kids and I spent a day at Beech Bend. Since Jared and I hadn't been since we were kids, it was fun to see how it had changed (and how it hadn't!). The next day we joined Jared's parents at Land Between the Lakes to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary. We learned many things...
*Madeline DEFINITELY needs sunscreen at the water park (we already knew that but it was definitely confirmed!). The boys thought it was cool that she had a pirate "X marks the spot" on her back--Arr! She's currently on day 7 of the Great Burn of '08 and shedding skin like a snake. Her teacher sent a note home yesterday asking us to send aloe for her because she was "distracted and unable to finish her classwork". Yep, mom of the year is OUT for me! Little does Mrs. Cassidy know that "distracted and unable to finish her classwork" probably has less to do with the sunburn and more to do with my precious Chatty Matty :-)

*Jack (third child that he is) can nap ANYWHERE, including the lounge next to the Beech Bend pool! Jared did some complicated towel-tenting (supported by a hot, but patient Daddy) to make this happen, but he slept like a 2 1/2 year old! Notice the floaties and swim clothes are still on...what a champ!

*We have exactly 10 years, 7 months, and 1 day to teach this boy to drive! The bumper cars were proof that he is NOT ready. It was funny to watch as he spun and spun. He just couldn't grasp the concept that if you turn the wheel ALL the way one direction, you will continue turning in that direction. "Forward" was not one of his strong-suits. But he's the cutest bumper car driver I've seen in a long time! Good thing he's cute! :-)

*The kids CAN agree!! They all agreed the Log Ride was the BEST ride ever!

*Madeline & Noah inherited the chillin' gene from the White side of the family.
We do love to relax!

*Jack can spot a bathtub a mile away. He LOVES the tub!! Almost as much as he loves getting dirty enough to NEED to get in the tub...

*Memaw makes everything better! Poor Maddy, her mean ol' Mommy made her mad (who thought naming her "Mad"eline was a good idea?! Oh yeah, that was me), but Memaw makes it all okay.

*Even in 1850, Noah's pants would have been too big! We went to the 1850 Homeplace farm and the kids really enjoyed the dressup part. Although the Superman shirt isn't very authentic :-)

*Best thing I learned: Madeline can WORK!! Even in 100 degree heat! She got to "help" turn a chair leg on the lathe. But look at that concentration! Now, if we can just get her THAT interested in 2nd grade classwork!