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Posted on Jan 1, 2018 in Down Syndrome, Odds and Ends | 0 comments

Goodbye, 2017!

Goodbye, 2017!

We interrupt our regularly scheduled program to bring you a New Year’s update… 

New Year’s Eve, 2017

We rolled into our own driveway at 1:47am on New Year’s Eve. We weren’t out partying. We were traveling home from a nice visit with my family in South Carolina. It was FREEZING COLD – so cold that after scraping a bit of snow off the van, I couldn’t warm up for hours. My face hurt and by the time we got home, my feet were stinging from the cold and the car thermometer registered -1 degree Fahrenheit. I don’t want to know what the wind chill was.

Our five-year old, Eliana, had only fallen asleep in the last few minutes. She was so excited about flying in the plane, getting her own cup of apple juice and a cookie, and waiting for the fasten-seat-belt-sign to turn off, that she bounced all over her daddy for most of the flight. Exhausted when we got off the plane, she insisted on “playing” on the little play set outside the gate for a minute. At that hour, her version of playing meant that she sat on the teeter totter and rubbed her eyes. Ha! I figured she would sleep in the next morning because her little eyes were brightly shining at me at 2am when I covered her up in bed, but oh no. That child was up at 7am, ready to go.

Our three-year old, Charlie, quietly walked through the airport at my side, obediently holding onto the stroller. He ate his snack, studied the information about the airplane we were on, and then curled up in a little ball and fell fast asleep on my lap. His only tears came when we woke him up to walk out of the plane and he realized he hadn’t had his apple juice. We remedied the situation by purchasing the highway-robbery priced apple juice in the vending machine outside the gate and letting him drink it pure, straight from the bottle. He then quietly got in his car seat, fell asleep, and barely opened his eyes when we transferred him to his bed.

Redmond, sweet baby Redmond, traveled like a champ, fussing only during takeoff and landing when his ears hurt, and for a moment when we stopped the car on the way home for a potty break. Because the plane wasn’t full, we were able to bring his car seat on the plane and give him his own seat. But the plane was only four seats across, so that meant one of the kids had to sit alone. They weren’t having it either. So during takeoff, they sat together in front of me and Redmond, across the aisle from Rick.

As soon as we got in the air, I hooked Redmond up to his feeding tube, laid him fast asleep in his car seat, and unbuckled my seat belt (shhhh….) to sit in the next row beside Charlie. Eliana bounced over to sit by her daddy. I had to laugh a little at myself, leaving Redmond “alone” in the seat behind me. I’m totally the mother of a third child. I would NEVER have done that with Eliana. Of course, I probably couldn’t have done that with Eliana. Redmond didn’t mind a bit. When we started descending and my ears popped, Redmond fussed a bit. I laid Charlie’s sleeping head in my seat without a peep from him, moved back to sit by Redmond, and held him during landing. He quickly fell back to sleep once his ears felt better, and we carried on.

Redmond, the super-baby, slept in until 9:45am. Ahhh… The older two sat on the couch on top of their sleeping daddy, and I slept in. Once we were all awake, it was a flurry of unpacking, playing with new toys, feeding the baby and ourselves, and putting them all back down again for early naps.

I have a few moments of quiet now to think about the year that is ending.

2017: a year etched into the walls of my heart and mind. I have never experienced so many wild emotions and events in one year.

The first time I was able to hold Redmond. All those tubes and contraptions terrified me, but at least he was in my arms.

It was a year of sickness – the end of my pregnancy, the c-section, and horrible staph infection; Redmond’s 46 days in the hospital and multiple bouts with Rhino-Entero Virus; Rick’s head injury and some scary days where we were uncertain if his brain was okay, and lastly multiple colds/coughs/infections in the older kids.

It was a year of some miraculous healing and some slow and steady plodding away at health. I healed nicely from the c-section, slowly from the staph infection, and gleefully danced through the holidays eating without a thought for gestational diabetes or hyperemesis gravidarium. (I also had to buy some new clothes to accommodate all the glee. :-/ Hopefully I’ll be able to give them away pretty quickly.) Rick’s brain is actually just fine (whew) and his wound is nearly healed after 14 staples.

Redmond has miraculously recovered from pulmonary hypertension, multiple holes in his heart (no surgery needed), and a host of other health concerns. He no longer needs supplemental oxygen, and I’m starting to wean him off the feeding tube. Tears of gratitude stream down my face as I type those words, remembering that just this morning he took 75 cc’s (2.5 ounces) of milk, oatmeal, and fruit at one meal, then chowed down on Puffs an hour later! Feeding issues have been a major challenge, one we have plodded through, but he is making wonderful progress. In spite of ECMO and a huge list of medical interventions required to save his life, he is thriving and happy.

In September, with his feeding tube and oxygen tube (which never stayed in his nose.)

Fear and repeated, intentional, difficult actions to look past our circumstances and choose to trust in God marked the first half of 2017. I made a choice to sing praise to God when my heart was breaking apart. (One of my favorites is It Is Well – Kristne DeMarco & Bethel Music.) I cried out to my friends and family for help, begging them to pray when I could not. I clung to my husband for support and strength. And I sobbed as I saw my beautiful older children struggling through my sickness and separation from them, cared for by others in the best possible way I can imagine, reaching out for a mother who couldn’t attend to them. The first half of 2017 was crushing, humbling, and excruciating. Any illusions I had that my life was under my control were ground into dust and blown away. I could control NOTHING, so I clung to the Lord with a fierceness that probably only comes during times like these.

Surprises of joy and bursts of love marked the second half of 2017. God fulfilled His promises to me. Where sickness and fear had tried to break in and steal, God caused health and peace to rush in and soothe. The praises I sang were no longer a sacrifice, but expressed pure and true gratitude and love. The shock and loneliness I had felt left as I recognized the strength of the arms that had reached out to protect, cocoon, and lift me and our entire family up out of the quicksand that tried to suck us in. We received more than we ever could have imagined – emotional support, financial support, prayer support, helping hands, and so much more.

Eliana helping me return to healthy cooking in November. I closely supervised this knife business.

Our older children made it through the stunned separation from us with grace, thanks to my husband’s parents who stopped everything to become surrogate parents. Our part-time babysitter literally moved into our home to help them, planned meals, bought groceries, managed schedules, and kept everything going. I’m pretty sure they didn’t miss one day of school, library, gymnastics, or Sunday school. I don’t even know everything they did, what they sacrificed in terms of time with their own friends and family, to keep mine from falling apart.

Through the crushing, humbling, excruciating first half of the year, I learned that I had a web of support and love surrounding me that I could never have imagined. I learned how to ask for help and be a grateful receiver. Our church stepped in to provide spiritual and emotional support, prayers, meals, and even came over to clean up our landscaping, finish a painting project, and wash windows! My mom’s group has brought over more freezer meals than I can count, prayed for us, visited us in the hospital with gifts, coffee, and hugs. The women in my Bible study have listened to the deepest places in my heart and offered prayer, support, and love. They’ve connected me with resources I desperately needed. Our neighbors kept things running on the farm, doing acts of service we may never fully comprehend. My in-laws’ church provided meals for them while they were the primary caregivers for our children. My parents fasted and prayed, visited often, listened for hours as I shared my concerns, and made numerous sacrifices to support us.

My sister dropped everything, got on a plane with about two hours notice, and flew to my side during the worst of the crisis. She was my brain while I muddled through pain medication and shock, asking intelligent questions, filtering the information for me to understand, and doing the first research into Down syndrome for me. Rick’s sister and brother-in-law got us out of the NICU for a delicious meal, helped give his parents a break in childcare, and kept communication flowing with his family. I could write pages upon pages of all the support and blessings we received. I’ll end with one last thing – the shock of unexpected, often anonymous, quiet and thoughtful financial gifts from the community at large. We were so stunned by them, thinking they were unnecessary, and finding out later that others knew far more than we did about these things. (Even with good health insurance and state and national programs to assist, the cost of caring for a medically fragile child is astounding.)

I learned that the very thing that I thought would cause my life to become lonely and socially awkward has become the exact opposite. I have made many beautiful friends through this time of shock and adjustment. I have discovered a whole new world in the Down syndrome and special needs community – a place where parents just open their hearts and give one another grace and support.

At first Rick and I thought we’d skip the support groups and just live our lives with Redmond as usual. But then I received the phone number for a local woman who started a group for families of young children with Ds. I tentatively contacted her and have since met around 15 other families in our situation. They introduced me to a larger group called the Down Syndrome Diagnosis Network, also aimed at families with young children. I signed up for an online group for mothers of children born in the first half of 2017. Within that group is another I joined for mothers of children with feeding tubes. Through these groups, I’ve been given tools to help Redmond have the best life possible. Our little group has over 270 members from all over the US and several other countries, and I look forward to someday meeting every single one of them in person.

In 2017, I spent more hours than I’d like to think about sitting in our recliner in the living room, feeding my baby. During that time, I was able to bond with him in the way I wasn’t at first able to do. We had no skin-to-skin time. I didn’t get to admire his beautiful face and nurse him in the hours after he was born. But after he came home from the NICU, I did spend hour upon hour feeding him, looking into his dark eyes, admiring his soft cheeks, kissing his little toes, and whispering prayers over him. He made his own skin-to-skin time, nuzzling his face deep into my neck, staying there for hours at a time. What a thrill it is now to hear him calling, “Mom, mom, mom…” How my heart nearly bursts when he holds his hands up to me and says, “Mama!”

As low as my heart fell this year, it has risen to the heights too. Redmond is so loving and sweet. The way Eliana and Charlie adore him is an answer to prayer. Instead of expressing anger for how long we were away from them, they have expressed only joy that we’re all home together. I think that when a person faces such intense fear of loss, heightened emotions result when things start to look up.

2017 for me was a wild rollercoaster. At the end of this year, I find myself enjoying the calm and breathing it in. I’m looking forward to 2018, hopeful that it will be a less eventful year. I’m praying for a chance to focus again on being awesome, rather than just surviving. I’m looking forward to the day Eliana starts kindergarten, the day Charlie starts preschool, the day Redmond sits up for the first time, takes his first steps, and meets other milestones. I’m looking forward to turning my attention back on our marriage, maybe even spending a few nights away. I’m full of hope and much too aware that problems will come. I’m also confident that God will provide a way through any trial that may come, just as He’s been doing all this time.

Christmas 2017

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Posted on Jan 13, 2016 in Odds and Ends | 1 comment

BE AWESOME

BE AWESOME

12240927_10207933194148508_8120287088457606718_oOur fourth anniversary (12/30) and New Year’s came and went this year with little fanfare from us at all. My beautiful Aunt Linda passed away on the day after Christmas, so we went to Iowa to be with extended family and remember her together. We had just gotten home from spending Christmas with my family in Virginia. Our kids were full of love (and new toys) from Grammy, Grandpa, aunts, uncles, and cousins. We quickly did some laundry, took down the live Christmas tree, got a travel DVD player so we the kids didn’t lose their minds during another road trip, and hit the road again.

After the visitation and funeral, spending time with more aunts, uncles, and cousins, we spent a few hours in the Amish community nearby. We found a quiet little restaurant that surprised us. It smelled delicious and looked like it had some personality, so we ventured inside with the kids. We were met at the door by a small, Italian woman who greeted us warmly and asked if we had reservations. Hmmm… Definitely NOT Amish. Despite our lack of reservations, she ushered us into a small room where the only other customer was an elderly widower who was settling his bill. There was a room adjacent to it where I heard a live classical guitarist playing and saw sharply dressed adults clinking wine glasses. The tables were set with heavy white linens and dark wood and scrumptious decor surrounded us. There was no kid’s menu.

Hot Chocolate CompressedI laughed nervously at how times have changed. Once I would’ve been seated in the other room with my lively and attractive friends, enjoying sparkling conversation and trying not to think about the bill. That night, I was grateful to be in the “other” dining room and desperately hoped my kids didn’t melt down during the meal. They were surprisingly well-behaved and we enjoyed a beautiful dinner together. Eliana talked us into getting her hot chocolate, and we splurged and shared a slice of chocolate cake for dessert. We decided our New Year’s celebration was that meal on January 2nd.

We got home on the 3rd, dragged our tired kids and heavy suitcases into the house, and breathed a big sigh of relief. Having been with the kids 24/7, even sleeping in the same bed for the last several days (one adult/one child per bed), I was ready for a break. They missed their grandparents, so the next morning they jitterbugged off to Grandma’s to play. I took a long, luxurious shower (we won’t talk about the shower in the only motel room we could find at the last minute over a holiday). I unpacked, did laundry, and finally took a few minutes to breathe. I opened the computer and began to write, thinking about the new year and what resolutions I needed to make.

Chase me, Charlie!

Chase me, Charlie!

2015 was a decent year for me. My kids became old enough to play together and learned how to do many things for themselves; I started thinking about life beyond pregnancy and diapers. I lost 20 pounds and kept it off (whew!). It wasn’t as much as I wanted to lose, but at least it was something! I was a good wife, leaning into love even when I was hurt or afraid, nurturing our relationship for the long haul instead of allowing momentary issues to derail us (most of the time).

I had my own garden and enjoyed learning what to do with all the great things that I grew. I became a more confident cook. I became a more competent mother. I got to do some really fun things, including visiting my friends in Tennessee, North and South Carolina, and Virginia. Amy Summer 2015I love concerts and was finally able to go to a few again. I was a great friend to a few people who needed great friends. I spent a lot of time and energy doing volunteer ministry in my local church and thinking/praying about returning to church work in a formal capacity. (And wondering if I’d lost my mind…) I even preached several times. I took Eliana to gymnastics and story time, went to a mom’s group, and participated in a weekly bible study.

It was a good year. There were some disappointments too, some rejection and frustration, but they did not overwhelm me. Rather, they cleared up some questions I’ve had these last few years and gave me the clarity I’ve needed. They caused our family to re-evaluate some of our relationships and open ourselves up to change.

So what’s the next step? What do I need to think about in 2016? I’m done with the tired old resolutions I’ve tried time and time again. I need something fresh and fun. The thought popped into my mind and developed quickly, bringing a big smile to my face.

I decided that my new year’s resolution is to BE AWESOME.

Yup. Be awesome.

I’ve been doing fine in so-so land, but it’s time for a change. I’ve had an aversion to awesome because it’s never awesome enough for SOMEONE. So why even try to be awesome when you’re ALWAYS letting someone down? Might as well relax a little and not get everyone’s expectations up too high.

But not this year.

The problem with keeping everyone’s expectations low is that I’m not meeting my own expectations. I’m disappointed in myself. At 40 years old, that’s a hard thing to admit to yourself. I’m tired of disappointing myself. There’ve been times in my life when I’ve been pretty awesome. I’ve worked hard to achieve my goals and accomplished a lot, but every time I’ve somehow fallen short. I didn’t get the job, or I the relationship I was reaching for didn’t work out, or the person I really wanted to impress didn’t notice.

But here’s the deal: I FELT AWESOME. I felt accomplished and beautiful or loveable and fun. I felt free and happy. But when the acknowledgement I expected from others didn’t come (or they had the audacity to let me know I hadn’t done enough), I stopped trying. I stopped being awesome and let someone else’s standard define my life. I rebelliously declared that if my accomplishments weren’t awesome enough, I’d prove just how good I’d been by giving up on awesomeness altogether and being my version of mediocre. Yes, I’m the queen of shooting myself in the foot to spite my face. I’m not proud of this acknowledgement at all.

For example, (before Rick) a guy who I’d been interested in said to me, “You’ve lost a lot of weight. Great job. Keep it up!” Seriously? Keep it up? He might as well have just said, “But you’re not thin enough for me yet.”  Hindsight-Kimberly wishes I would’ve said, “You noticed?! Why don’t you join me? Want to work out with me this week? Exchange food diaries for accountability? We can lose these last 20 pounds together!” But real time-Kimberly allowed this exchange (and a few others like it) to give me permission to give up in frustration because awesome is never awesome enough. Sigh…So this year my resolution is to figure out what makes ME feel awesome and do that. If it doesn’t make me feel awesome, I’m taking it off my list. Rather than writing about what’s off my list, I’m going to focus on what’s on my awesome list.

Experience has taught me that I feel awesome when I read my Bible and write about it regularly. I aim for 5 days a week and when I’m even partially successful, my entire outlook on life changes. I have self-discipline, gratitude, and patience. It puts a lens of Christ in front of my eye and keeps me from falling into self-pity, pride, and fear. It isn’t a formula for a perfect life, but it’s a good start to a better attitude and peace with God. Let’s be clear here: I’m not reading/writing for 2 hours a day. I’m a mom. Realistically, it’s a great thing if I can squeeze in 20 minutes, three times a week.

Experience has taught me that I feel awesome when I write. To me, writing is a lot like aggressive exercise. I’m able to get my feelings out in a healthy way. Often I have no idea how I feel about something, what’s weighing on my heart, until I start punching a heavy bag or put my fingers to a keyboard. The opposite effect for me is stuffing my feelings through bingeing on food, television, novels, excessive sleep, and gossip. Lovely qualities, really… Ugh. How I’m capable of making friends without these outlets in place astounds me.

I feel awesome when I give my best to my kids. It feels great when I  take time to chase my kids around the house, yelling “I’m going to get you!” and laughing as we all dissolve into a pile of tickles and kisses on the floor. I feel awesome when I play hide and go seek with my daughter, repeatedly trying to teach her not to hide in the same spot I just did the time before. Whether it’s taking a few minutes to put together puzzles, read books, cook together, or throw their increasingly heavier bodies up in the air a few times each day – a few minutes of concentrated focus on them makes all the difference.

I feel awesome when I have time to talk with a friend.  There’s something about sharing our frustrations or ideas, trying to solve each other’s problems, laughing at each other’s stories, and at times praying together that refreshes my soul. We can learn so much from listening to one another.

Experience has taught me that I feel awesome when I exercise. Even if little change is seen in my body, I feel awesome when I exercise. When I exercise aggressively – punching, kicking, throwing – getting my pent up aggression OUT of my body in a healthy way, I feel strong and powerful. Now, if I could only remember that when the time comes to actually exercise, that’d be even more awesome…

Experience has taught me that I feel awesome when I don’t fill up my brain and time with too much television. I can pick a few fun shows to watch when I want to relax a little, but I feel much better about myself when I’m reading good books, creating something wonderful, or talking to a friend. I’ve cut way back on the amount I watch, cut out many of the guilty pleasures I allowed myself with less-than-stellar content, but I still tend to veg out in front of the TV far too much for my own awesomeness meter.

Experience has taught me that I feel awesome when I’m mindful about food. When I take time to plan meals, write down what I eat, and consider how my health is affected by what I put into my body, everything seems better. When I care for my body through preventative health care, it makes a huge difference in my energy level, outlook on life, reaction to those around me, ability to sleep, and ability to move. When I get lazy and forget to do these basic things, I feel terrible. My body aches, I can’t sleep, I have heartburn, I snap at people and get my feelings hurt easily. AWESOME Kimberly is well-fed, well-cared for Kimberly. It isn’t about impressing anyone else, being thin enough or pretty enough or any other “enough.” It’s just about feeling good and being able to live the life I want to live.

I’m looking forward to discovering other things that make me feel awesome this year. I’m planning to do all I can to keep my focus on awesomeness and not let the opinions of others get me off track. I’m going to seek out people who are also trying to be awesome and encourage them.

Also high on my list of awesome activities is to get back to blogging. One thing I discovered about myself in 2015, is that preaching and teaching helps me feel alive. I feel like the amazing things God is teaching me personally are multiplied when I’m able to share those lessons with others through writing and speaking. Blogging is another avenue for that.

In closing, I should point out that it’s January 13th and I’m just now publishing my New Year’s resolution blog. My GOAL is to be awesome. My reality may not be all that awesome. But if I can move closer to awesome this year, it’ll be better than the year before. Now, I just need to figure out when I’m actually going to exercise this week, because so far this year it’s only happened twice…

I’d love to know what your resolutions are for this year. How are you going to be awesome?

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Posted on Jun 14, 2011 in Before Marriage Blog, Just Goofing Around | 22 comments

A Farmer’s Wife?

A Farmer’s Wife?

It’s been shocking to many, many people (including ME) that I am marrying a farmer and moving to the rural midwest to live in the land of cornfields and barns.  I’ve been asked how I can leave the bustling, fabulous city of Nashville for country life.  Won’t I miss Starbucks?

I don’t mind answering these questions because I had to answer them for myself first.  I had to come to terms with what’s really important to me before I could even consider seriously dating Rick.  I had decided that I was done with casual dating and I could tell he was serious, so I did some soul-searching early on in our relationship.  Just how important is Nashville to me?

I love Nashville.  I love the American southeast.  I have a special place in my heart for magnolia trees, rolling hills, thick green trees, and that sweet, southern drawl.  I enjoy mild winters and how very nice everything is.  If I need to purchase something, I have so many choices that I’d never be patient enough to look at all my options before making a decision.  I live right next door to one of the wealthiest towns in the entire country.  Right down the road from my house are streets lined with mansions.  It is a lovely place to live.  But no amount of loveliness can make up for loneliness.

I have lived a good life.  God has blessed me with good friends.  I’ve really enjoyed city life.  It’s been no big deal to go to NFL games and cheer the Titans on, scream “Fang Fingers!” at hockey games, go to a major concert and see the performer the next day at a pancake restaurant.  I’ve eaten in the fanciest restaurants, traveled the country and stayed in the nicest hotels, and filled my life with good things.  But in all of that, I went home alone every night.  I felt the ache of empty arms when I saw a mother rocking her sleeping baby.  I chafed at never having a home of my own to settle into and decorate and organize just right.

To me, the reality of having my prayers answered for a loving husband, a home of my own, and the hope of children is worth giving up a weekly visit to Chipotle or seeing a celebrity at church.  Not to mention that the idea of wide, open spaces and the safety of country living is very appealing!  I’ve had all the big living I need.  I’m ready to settle down and be a wife and mother.  And writer.  And maybe do a little teaching and speaking on the side…  🙂

I grew up in the area I’ll be moving back to.  Vivid childhood memories of running free, totally unafraid, and feeling connected to the ground beneath my feet draw me back.  I was the wild child who did all I could to get my four-wheeler (ATV) completely air-born, who caught slimy tadpoles in the pond, and whose heart was broken when my willow tree got cut down.  During a recent trip to visit Rick, I sat quietly on a large rock and listened to the sounds around me. let the little ants crawl up my arm.  I felt like I was twelve again – carefree, happy, and at peace.  I’m blessed to still have relationships with people I knew when I lived there, including my grandfather and cousins.

Will I be the typical farmer’s wife, canning peaches and running a tractor?  Well, probably not.  But I don’t think I’d mind learning how to can my own food and avoid the preservatives and unknown ingredients I’ve been eating in food that comes from who-knows-where.  Driving a tractor, though, is something I plan to leave all in Rick’s capable, calloused hands.

By the way, even though the community is rural, there’s a good-sized city within 40 minutes of his house and a grocery store just a few miles from his front door.  The man who acted as my adopted grandfather when I was a little girl (before my grandparents moved there) has a coffee shop just two miles away.  And there’s a mall within 30 minutes of the farm.  See, friends?  I’m going to be okay.  And I even hear they’re building a Starbucks a couple miles down the turnpike.  Oh yeah…

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Posted on Jun 11, 2011 in Before Marriage Blog, Odds and Ends | 5 comments

Maurice Carter

Maurice Carter

 I think the first time I saw Maurice, he was singing with the choir at church.  Then I worked with him on staff at the church.  When I started on staff, he was the Single’s/Young Adults Pastor.  I’d originally come to Nashville because of music, but upon arriving I discovered that when EVERYONE sings, only the ones with the best connections (due to talent or some other factor) get to sing on stage.  Maurice opened up the stage for me to sing in the single’s ministry.  It was an intimate group, and I cherished it.

Maurice and I started making a habit of stopping by each other’s offices from time to time to chat.  He was the one who encouraged me not to stop blogging when I faced some resistance in it.  He encouraged me to do all I could with writing.  He could sense the presence of God, tap into that power, and encourage me in a way that touched my heart deeply.  Apparently, I’m not the only one he ministered to.

He was also an amazing musician.  He had another life when he wasn’t ministering to me and others around the church.  He was a back-up singer for Wynonna Judd and The Judds.  He wrote songs, mentored others in music, and helped lead worship at our church.  His talent was remarkable, but he didn’t treat anyone else like they weren’t important because of it.  He rubbed elbows with some of the most famous people on earth and he never let on that he was kind of a big deal. 

My last conversation with Maurice was unfinished.  He was at church on the Sunday night after I got engaged.  Rick was with me, and with Maurice’s travel schedule and Rick’s infrequent visits to the church (he lives out of town), they hadn’t had a chance to meet yet.  I introduced them and Maurice immediately began getting to know Rick.  Sensing that I wasn’t necessary to the conversation, I allowed them to talk and I moved on to speak to some other friends.  When they finished, Maurice told me that I had a good man.  He wanted to talk to me more about our plans and the changes coming in our lives, but he was heading to Japan for a mission trip the next day and that conversation would have to wait until he got back.  I was looking forward to the next time I ran into him at Starbucks or after a service at church so we could talk more.

Exactly two weeks after that conversation, I received word that Maurice had died of a heart attack.  He was 43 years old.  I had just started driving home from my fiancé’s house and had a long drive ahead.  Through tears, I attempted to make the right turns and find my way back on unfamiliar roads.  No surprise:  I got a little lost.  I pulled over and called Rick, tearfully explaining that I needed his help to figure out where I was, and that I was extra upset because my friend had died.  Rick got me on the right road again and I made it back to Nashville in a fog of grief.

This week has been hard.  We’re having a service to honor Maurice on Sunday at church.  I look around me and see the faces of so many that loved him, felt his friendship, and are aching from loss.  He is in heaven with Jesus, but we are left with a hole in our hearts and in our community.  Will I always think of Maurice when I see a bright yellow SUV?  Will I always wonder what he’s laughing about when I hear loud laughter in the halls of the church?  Will I always look for him when I walk into Starbucks?  These are the questions I have, and my friendship with him was nothing compared with many who were much closer.  My heart aches for his precious family, including two little nephews who adored him.

In the middle of all that, I’m trying to plan a wedding.  My friend is gone, but I need to pick out a wedding cake design.  Our church has lost a pastor, but I need to find a rehearsal dinner location.  My friends are grieving, but I need to get their addresses for my guest list.  My mind is a jumble of joy and grief right now.  Do the trivial things like the color of my bridesmaid’s dresses even matter?  Death puts a new perspective on everything.  My dreams at night are a tangled web of a wedding service mixed with a funeral service.

And this must be the way many of us feel.  We have children to raise, jobs to do, events to organize, and yet we bear the grief of missing our friend.  It feels like the world should stop, but it doesn’t.  Even his family must make plans and move forward while they stumble in grief.

We loved Maurice.  We are happy for him that he is with the Lord.  We are sad for ourselves.

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Posted on Jun 1, 2011 in Odds and Ends | 4 comments

Budget

Budget

As anyone whose ever planned a wedding before knows, these events are shockingly EXPENSIVE.  The average cost for a wedding today in the USA is just over $20,000.  Yikes!  The daughter of a pastor and a minister myself, these numbers are very intimidating.  There is just no way we could be fiscally responsible and still spend that much money.  And if we chose to spend that much money, what in the world would we do with it all?  My sweet fiance has offered to help out a bit, but he has major expenses to prepare for himself:  honeymoon, new home, furnishings, and eventually, children.  At this time, I don’t have a job lined up there, so he may be supporting us both for a while.  It doesn’t feel right to expect him to make major contributions to it as he prepares for all the other aspects of married life.

My parent’s have been generous with me.  They are handling the lion’s share of the expense, and I am incredibly thankful that I was raised by gracious givers.  As we go to the bank this morning to set up a wedding account, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the wise way they have managed their money over the years.  The legacy they leave me is a great blessing.  With all that gratitude also comes the realization that we cannot afford to spend $1200 on a cake, $5000 on a photographer, $2000 on a wedding dress, and $3000 on a discount videographer.  (All actual, fairly normal amounts to spend.)

I’m a person who has spent my life building relationships.  I love having friends, being a good friend, and networking all the people I know together so they can be blessed.  As I consider my wedding day, it’s hard for me to imagine who I can exclude from that wonderful celebration and meaningful sacrament as we pledge our lives to one another.  Which relationship is less important than the other?  (BIG sigh.)  I keep hearing that I need to cut, cut, cut the guest list and I react strongly against that idea.  I love my family (all 125 of them).  I love my friends.  I want Rick to have his precious family around him (all 150 of them)!

The solution I’ve decided upon is to trust those friends and family who I have spent my life celebrating.  I will have the extremely talented folks I know provide the entertainment, create delicious food, make beautiful pictures, arrange stunning flowers, and manage all the details that we can possibly work together on.  And I’ll be delighted to tap into Rick’s amazing network of friends and family as well.  They are a very talented bunch!  Then I can take our limited budget and use it for materials and supplies.  I am praying that with this philosophy, we will have a beautiful wedding that’s a community affair and brings blessings to many as they are able to display their gifts and talents.

I’m not the kind of person who wants every single person I’ve ever met at my wedding.  I want those who I’ve built relationships with over the years to be there, to celebrate with us.  Rick would probably gladly to go Vegas or get married with our parents and siblings around us.  On this issue, I’m thankful that he has told me the wedding is mine to plan and he’ll do whatever he can to help.  He’s a good, smart man!  Even with all the help from family and friends, we still won’t be able to have an unlimited guest list.  But I’m thankful that we’ll be able to invite many of those who have meant so much to us over the years.

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Posted on May 30, 2011 in Before Marriage Blog, Just Goofing Around | 7 comments

Details, Details, Details

Details, Details, Details

I’m visiting my parents in Maginia today.  No, that’s not a typo.  “Maginia” is the way my adorable 3-year old niece pronounces Virginia.  I’m not writing about her today, but I thought I’d share that little tidbit.  She was here this weekend and I thoroughly enjoyed her.

My sweet little niece, prego sister, and my mom took me wedding dress shopping on Saturday.  I didn’t have any plans to buy a dress in Maginia, thinking I’d have to order one and get the alterations done there and it would be a little difficult since I live in Nashville.  However, in the second shop we went into, they were having a big sale.  If a customer found a dress on the rack that fit and was the right color for them, they could walk out with it in hand for an extra-good price.  I happened to be that customer this time.  I found a dress that makes me feel like a princess, in the right color, in the right size, for 1/3 of what I had been willing to spend.  When I walked out in that dress, the best niece in the world pranced toward me, hugged me, and declared that I looked “fabulous.”  WooHOO!  A Kleinfeld bride I am not.  Off the rack works for me.  I’ll have a friend in Nashville do the very minor alterations that are needed.  I leave Maginia, dress in hand.

My wedding dress? Wouldn't you like to know!

We also chose and contacted our bridal party, picked out our invitations, settled on wedding colors (winter white; metallic gold and silver), and secured a photographer.  All this done without quite having nailed down the date yet.  I sure hope it works out like I’m hoping!

We have so much more we need to do.  It’s amazing to realize how much goes into planning a wedding.  And a honeymoon.  And finding a place to live/moving.  And furnishing a new home.  Holy moly.

One last detail I’m considering…  What will I do with my blog when my name changes?  “Kimberly Wenger’s Blog” won’t really work any longer.  I’d love to hear your ideas and imput.

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