Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Highlights

I've surprised myself with my lack of blogging during this visit with Jeff's mom. The days have flown by...she's been here almost two weeks...and tomorrow she flies back to California. So much has been packed into these days together; but even though we've been busy, I fully expected to post on a fairly consistent basis. After all, if I could write regularly in the immediate aftermath of Tobin's birth, why couldn't I do it now?

Last night, I finally realized that one of the reasons I've been absent from blogging is that, as an introvert, I lose energy from being with people. This time has been so full of people contact that by the end of the day, I feel like I have nothing left to give and am completely unable to pour anything out, even if they're simply black and white characters on a computer screen. I only want to crawl into a cave, be it my bed or some totally mindless activity. I'm not complaining...obviously, it's been wonderful to have all this people contact and I wouldn't have it any other way...but my realization last night did help me understand what had been a puzzling issue for me: why didn't I want to blog? Not that I feel obligated in any way to blog, but I usually enjoy it so much that when, suddenly, I didn't even want to do it, it was perplexing to me.

In any case, here I am again, ready to record the bits and pieces of this and that which make up this grand thing we call life.

I guess, to start, I'll mention some of the fun things we've been doing during Jeff's mom's visit...

~ today, we spent the morning at our Children's Museum, then met Jeff for lunch at the Indian Cafe downtown...later this afternoon, we'll go to Josiah's SVCC class...Jeff has his Perspectives class at the seminary tonight, so we won't see him until late...but my mom and Jeff's mom are planning to go this evening, after a light supper of cannellini bean and Italian sausage soup, to the Mennonite Relief Center (I'm not sure what the real name is) just over the hill from us to help with the apple drying project that they're doing there...the goal is 500 bushels of apples to be cut and dried, then shipped all over the world to wherever they're needed to feed the hungry

~ yesterday, we took Josiah to the swimming pool in the morning to be tested and registered for swimming lessons, which start next week...after that, we went to the farm store to get some chicken food and dog food...then we stopped by the barbershop to see Jeff, just for fun...after we got home, I cleaned off half of our side porch while Josiah and David ran around outside and Jeff's mom worked in our front flowerbed: weeding, digging out some lilies of the valley that I want to move to another place, and planting some pansies that she bought for us from our neighbor's wagon at the end of their lane...those same neighbors came over for supper last evening, and Jeff's mom got to experience food and conversation with real horse-and-buggy Mennonites :)
~ Grandma Fisher got lots of "help"...what are you doing, David? planting a ski pole? :)

~ I love pansies' cheerful faces!

~ on Sunday, we participated in our church service in the morning, followed by a meal together in Shady Oak, then a business meeting for the members...I was glad to leave Jeff at the meeting to represent us, then come home with the boys and Grandma Fisher for a nap :)...that evening, Jeff took everyone but me to the park, and I stayed home alone--really alone, for the first time in a long time--a time of refreshment for me (and Jeff brought home Kline's chocolate ice cream for me, so I was doubly spoiled!)

~ Saturday was a rainy day, but we did make a stop at Walmart before going on to Josiah's soccer game...his team didn't do as well as they had done previously, and Josiah said afterwards that he was "disappointed" (his exact word)...so disappointed, in fact, that as soon as the game was over, he came and hugged me around the neck and fought back tears, swallowing them enough to go back on the field to do the "good game" ritual at the end...that evening, we, along with my parents, went to Golden Corral for dinner, and what a feast!...then we all--and this is very exciting--went to Home Depot and made a major purchase of--are you ready?--a toilet...the previous one was, according to my dad, probably the original one; and the house is 36 years old...the toilet leaked; and Jeff had tried several times to fix it but with no success...the leaky sound of the toilet really bothered Jeff and actually kept him awake at night--something that practically nothing else ever does--so it was obviously time to take action...it cracked me up to have Jeff and I, our three sons, and the three grandparents all standing around in Home Depot pondering the merits of various toilets...we finally reached a decision, and Jeff installed the new one that very night...and then he slept well :)

So much more to write, but I need to awake sleeping boys, then soon head out the door to Josiah's choir class. It is a start, however, and hopefully will help me break out of this blogging slump.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


...to be safely home again.

...to be settling into familiar routines and places.

...to have this picture from our fun photo shoot with Lisa.
...to be married to a man brave enough and talented enough (and crazy enough?) to drive all around New York City. I have this little tradition, when something particularly admirable about Jeff is mentioned, of saying, "That's why I married him!" which is true in part, but not fully, because, of course, many thousands of his good qualities combined to convince me to marry him. But it's a fun, silly habit; and I'll continue it here by saying, after seeing Jeff's ability to stay calm, cool, and collected as he drove through the unbelievable pot of stress that is NYC...that's why I married him. ;)

Saturday, September 20, 2008


I've been neglecting my blog recently which actually makes me a little sad since I feel like life--especially the details of Jeff's mom's visit with us--is slipping through my fingers and I'm not being successful at capturing it...but what also makes me a little sad is that I'm neglecting the other blogs that I love to visit for the inspiration found and the friendships cultivated there. I miss knowing what's happening with my blog buddies in Arizona...and Australia...and California...and even here in Virginia. I've been sporadically popping in to various blogs, but my Google Reader is absolutely lit up with numerous entries I haven't gotten to--not because of a lack of eagerness, but simply a lack of time.

Things won't be different in the near future, since tomorrow afternoon we're off to the great North: Pennsylvania and New York. I'm looking forward to a family photo shoot with Lisa, some time with my brother and his family, and at least a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty; but I'm sure unseen adventures lie in wait for us, and I welcome them.

When things settle down, I will also welcome more time in Blogland. :)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Happy Anniversary, Dear House!

On this day three years ago, we joyfully traveled from North Carolina to Virginia, which was the last leg of our journey from California to Virginia...however, the journey actually started when we left Israel and proceeded to California by way of England. That was a long trip. September 19, 2005, found us excitedly driving up route 81, the home stretch; and, boy, did that feel good! We had to stop at the state line to get a picture of Jeff and Josiah at the welcome sign...
...and then we traveled on to my parents' house--OUR house--and enthusiastically began our life here.

It's been an incredible three years. Happy anniversary, dear house--our home sweet home.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Adventure Begins

Jeff's mom flew in from California yesterday to spend two weeks with us, and there is always a lot of excitement in the air around here as we anticipate her arrival! The beginning of her time with us took an unexpected twist, however, when we got in an elevator to return to the parking lot after meeting her in the airport...and promptly got stuck.

Ever been stuck in an elevator? None of us had been. Josiah, being his typical dramatic self, fell to the ground and cried out with loud groans for God to deliver us. Jeff entertained us with the story of a guy stuck for three days in an elevator and wondered aloud what a person in that situation would do when he had to go to the bathroom...which made David and Josiah laugh. Grandma Fisher got a chance to hold Tobin and get acquainted with her newest grandchild--her 9th. I pulled a book out of the handy-dandy diaper bag and started reading it to the boys; it happened to be about firefighters which was highly appropriate since the airport firefighters were on their way to rescue us. We estimate that we were stuck for 20 minutes or so--not too big of a deal--and what made it fairly easy was that it was a rather large elevator, there was no one else on it besides us so it wasn't very crowded, and even more significantly, none of us had to go to the bathroom. :)

Here Jeff, Josiah, and David pose with some of the guys who rescued us: our newest heroes!

As they say, "All's well that ends well," and we're grateful that this story ended just fine!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Savoring the Sweetness

I am well aware that I'm in the season of life when my boys--even my oldest--are fairly quick to make their emotions known and have not yet learned to hide their feelings behind masks.  Besides crying spells and temper tantrums, the more delightful aspect of this stage is that affection is generously poured out on me by my children...and I soak it in, reveling in the sweetness.  

As Josiah grows, I know this phase will come to an end; and his love will be expressed in different ways--more subtle, less public.  Even now, I try to respect his emerging young manhood by being careful to follow his lead with how much public affection he wants from me--sometimes substituting a high-five for a hug or an "You did a great job!" for an "I love you so much!"  For example, when Josiah scored a goal in his soccer game on Saturday, it was a moment of high jubilation since it was the first time ever that he's scored a goal in a game.  I really wanted to run out on the field and pick him up to hug him tightly and cover him with kisses.  But I didn't.  :)

Recently, however, several things have happened to remind me that he hasn't outgrown open affection yet...and I'm so glad!  For example, on the first day of our homeschool co-op this year, I introduced him to his teacher, but couldn't linger until he got started with his class activities because I needed to get to the classroom where I was teaching.  I knew Josiah was feeling a little nervous, but I tried not to make a big deal out of it all.  I was pleasantly surprised when Josiah threw his arms around my neck and even gave me a kiss before I walked away.  And, by the way, he did great in his class; and after last week (our second week of co-op) was telling me all about his "best buddies" in his class.  :)

Yesterday at the waterpark, I was reminded of all of this when Josiah repeatedly reached out for my hand and held it as we walked along.  I love to hold his hand!  But it's one of those things in which I wait for his lead, not wanting to be a "smother mother."  Inwardly, I glowed each time he slipped his little hand in mine, then walked on, proudly thinking, "This is my son, and he loves me!"  

Yet another incident of sweet-as-honey affection...  During lunch today, I was feeding Tobin some baby food while Josiah and David were eating.  I had turned on a Hebrew music CD that Jeff had brought back from his Nazareth trip this past July, and the boys wanted to know what language it was and what the words meant.  The phrase that happened to be playing was "Aht tamid yafah" (Hebrew, of course, is written with a different alphabet, so that is simply a rough transliteration of the phrase); and I told them that it means, "You're always beautiful."  We went on to talk about how, when you love someone, they are beautiful to you...even if they're hot and sweaty, tired, dirty, whatever.  I sometimes slip little gems of wisdom and advice into small talk with them to prepare them for when they have wives someday :) so I gave them the example of how, every morning before he leaves for work, Jeff comes to me while I'm still sleeping, gives me a kiss, and whispers something like, "Goodbye, Beautiful," or "I love you, Princess," which I appreciate so much and if I happen to sleep through it, I feel a little disappointed when I wake up. I told Josiah and David that even with my bedhead and morning breath, Daddy still calls me beautiful...and isn't that amazing?  Josiah oh-so-sweetly said, "Maybe you're more beautiful than you realize!"

Ah...sweetness...  :)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Simple Sunday - Waterpark

~ thankful for the fun-packed Mommy/Josiah date this afternoon at Massanutten Waterpark...incredible!!!...as we reluctantly left the waterpark, I teased Josiah by asking, "Is it next year yet? Are you 7 yet?"...I can hardly wait until we go back...maybe mommy/son dates should be monthly, not yearly ;)
~ the Keep Your Blog Honest Resolution of 2008 requires me to reveal that this picture is from Jeff and Josiah's trip with our church to the waterpark at the beginning of the summer, not from today...but the slide looks the same, and the boy looks almost the same :)

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Post I've Been Trying to Write

I want to finish the story of Josiah's drowning incident, but I'm not sure how.

I must have started this post a hundred times in my head.  But for some reason, all I can do is squeeze out bits and pieces of what I'm trying to communicate; and even what I do get out sounds strange to me--not sufficient to capture what really happened and what I'm really thinking and feeling.

I suppose I'll start where I left off...  I'm sure this will be disjointed and rough, but something written down is better than nothing, and I feel strongly that I want a record of this in the coming years.

After Jeff pulled Josiah out of the pool, they were sitting on a bench together; and I was sitting with them.  Michele Mumaw came over and talked with me to make sure that Josiah was OK, and I was so grateful for that.  I'm jumping ahead in the story; but throughout the course of the following week, I exchanged several very encouraging emails with her, and last Sunday, we talked about the incident again when I saw her before our church service.  I didn't realize this until she told me on Sunday, but Michele happened to look up from the magazine she was reading in the pool area and see Josiah struggling.  Just as she was going to yell for help or do something about the situation, she saw Jeff moving to save him.  I was incredibly relieved to hear this because perhaps the most haunting thing in the aftermath was the question, "What if I had not come back to the fence when I did?  Would no one have seen him until it was too late?"  Now I know the answer to that.  To my great relief, Michele saw him.

And so, apparently, did the lifeguard.  The day of the incident, we had had absolutely no contact with the lifeguard.  Although he was literally sitting right above where Josiah was in the pool and had a clear line of vision to Josiah, he didn't jump in the pool to save Josiah or even come over to us afterwards to make sure everyone was OK.  We assumed that he simply didn't see Josiah and was completely oblivious to what had just happened.  To his credit, we realized that it could have just looked like a child swimming face-down.  He didn't know that Josiah doesn't know how to swim.  He didn't recognize, as we did in the space of a single heartbeat, that Josiah was in distress.  Perhaps if more time had gone by, he would have realized that Josiah was in danger and would have jumped in to save him.  But all those thoughts raced through our heads after we left the pool.  In fact, on the way home, Jeff and I talked about how we wished that we had spoken to the lifeguard to at least let him know that an incident had occurred and to encourage him to stay vigilant in his job.  I do remember Jeff saying that it was probably a good thing he hadn't talked to the lifeguard because he wouldn't have been able to say anything nice to him!  But I thought I could have...and should have...said something.

The next day, I emailed Janet Blosser, director of children's ministries at our church, to let her know about the event so she could let the camp know what had happened.  Most of all, I really wanted to make sure the lifeguards were reminded of the seriousness of their task.  I'm sure watching a pool day after day can get quite boring, but being in a daze could have tragic consequences.  Janet was grateful that I told her and assured me that she would communicate with the camp about it which she did, and yesterday I got an email from her saying that the lifeguard had indeed been aware of the situation and had reported it to the director, just as he was supposed to do.  So, not only was Michele aware of the danger in which Josiah found himself that day, the lifeguard was, too.  I've been able to breathe big sighs of relief, knowing that all along, God had people in place to watch out for Josiah; and even if I had stopped walking back to the pool that day to--oh, I don't know, get a rock out of my sandal--Josiah would still have been rescued.

I hope I'm not giving the impression that I'm blaming the lifeguard or somehow trying to avoid the responsibility that is ours as parents.  Not at all!!!  I can't stress enough how huge the burden of responsibility and--yes--guilt has been as I've come to grips with what almost happened.  As far as this area goes, I've especially realized that the responsibility we entrusted to the girls watching Josiah was much too big of a load for their shoulders.  I actually feel bad that we put them in that position, and for their sakes as well as ours, I'm relieved (that word, of course, hardly does justice to my true feelings) that everything ended well.  I would hate for the burden of guilt to be carried by them, especially at their young ages.

In thinking about all of this during the past week and a half, this example has come to my mind: if I asked David to carry Tobin around the house, and he dropped him, I could not be upset with David because I should never have asked him to carry his little brother in the first place!  The load was simply too great for him to bear.  The same is true of Josiah's care in a pool (which is different than his care on a playground); it was just too big of a load for the girls' shoulders.

Back to the story...  As we were walking out of the pool area, Don Martin spoke briefly with us; but I don't really think we talked to anyone else (if we did, I can't remember it at all!).  We got to the van, helped the boys quickly change out of their wet clothes, then had no trouble deciding that Jeff would squeeze himself into the back seat between David's car seat and Josiah's booster for the ride home.  Neither Jeff nor I wanted Josiah to be left alone for even a second.  We still watched him with eagle eyes to make sure he was really OK, and we both were worried about the possibility of dry drowning (which we didn't know anything about until we read the news earlier this summer about Johnny Jackson).  Even though we knew Josiah was so tired, we didn't want him to fall asleep for fear he'd never wake up.

Joy Showalter had not brought Tobin back yet (not surprisingly, because we thought we would be spending more time at the pool) so we couldn't leave, of course; but it wasn't long until we saw her hurrying towards us with him sleeping like an angel.  Someone had seen us gathering our stuff to leave and had then seen her with Tobin and told her it was time to head back, so that all worked out OK.  

Josiah was very, very sober...extremely downcast...I don't think I've ever seen him like that or even close.  He didn't talk a whole lot, but it was obvious that he was shaken to the core by what had just happened.  

David, bless his heart, kept asking where Josiah was hurt.  "Was it his head?"  David wanted to make sure that Josiah got kisses on the hurt spot and was confused when we told him that Josiah got hurt kind of on the inside and we couldn't really kiss away the pain.

Jeff and I talked some on the way home, but there was some silence as well.  Honestly, we were still struggling to even comprehend what had just happened.  The shock was enormous.  It wasn't as if Josiah had disobeyed and wandered off into a place he shouldn't have been.  It wasn't like he had sneaked into a pool that was closed.  There were plenty of people around, including lifeguards, so why didn't someone see him struggling (obviously, this was before we knew that he had been seen by others)?  The sun was bright, the air was warm, people were happy.  Tragedies aren't supposed to happen on such a day, right?

I cried some on the way home and had to drive the beautiful, winding, country roads half-blinded by tears--but I was also extremely conscious of danger and extra cautious in my driving.  Several things stand out to me from that time and the hours after that.  First, the intensity of the "NO!" that raged within me.  Though it didn't escape my lips, a primitive, raw, angry defiance rose up in me and joined with the cry of thousands of other parents throughout history who have been faced with their child's death.  I could not accept what was happening.  Second, the thoughts of just give me these five minutes back. Let me change the outcome.  Let me be with Josiah in that pool.  Please, somebody, turn back the clock.  It's just a few minutes, after all.  How could the events of such a short amount of time so completely change everything?  Give me this time back.  Let me change it.

Reading back over that paragraph, I realize that it falls so pitifully short of what I'd really like to convey.  How can I express it?  I sit and ponder...I don't know how to do it.  Maybe those parents who have found themselves in similar situations can identify with it.

It seems to me that it's a different kind of pain than that experienced when loved ones are sick or deal with some kind of prolonged suffering before death.  I'm not at all suggesting that the shock of a sudden death is worse than the pain of a long illness, but I do think they're different.  That feeling of trying to turn back time, realizing that so much could be lost in such a short amount of time, that seemingly small decisions could have a much bigger impact than imagined, that a bit of carelessness could result in a death, that sense of "let me do it over"--all that was incredibly strong.

There was no peace in my heart, and that sounds like such a "duh!" thing to write; but later, I thought, "Davene, you think about heaven so much; and you pray regularly about it with your children.  And more than anything in life, you want to someday be in heaven with all your family.  Nothing is dearer to you than that.  If Josiah had died, he would have gone to heaven.  Why wasn't there at least an acceptance of that, even a joy that he was safely home with God, that he was finally able to give God a big bear hug like he's talked about, that he was walking and talking face to face with his heavenly Father?  Why couldn't you have rejoiced, even a little tiny bit, in that thought?"

All I can say is that there was no rejoicing in that thought.  None.  I fought against the thought of Josiah's death with all I had in me.  

I'm sure, in time, that acceptance would have come.  I'm sure my faith would have sustained me.  I'm sure I could even have come to rejoice in Josiah's safe arrival in heaven, his true home.

However, in those moments, I could not.  Not at all.  Even though Josiah was safely riding home with us in the back of our minivan with his daddy checking on him constantly to make sure he was still breathing, the size and intensity of that NO that was screaming around inside me was almost the biggest thing I could feel.  Almost, strangely enough, bigger than relief.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Little Bit of This, a Little Bit of That

You know how sometimes when you look at something all the time, you don't really see it? That's apparently what I was doing to my blog because it wasn't until very recently that I suddenly woke up to the fact that the family picture in my sidebar was completely out-of-date.  With no Tobin in it, the picture was no good.  The only problem: we didn't have a family picture that had all five of us in.  You'd think, with the vast quantities of pictures we've taken during the past almost 8 months of Tobin's life, there would be a good family picture in there somewhere.  But alas, there wasn't.  The only thing to do was to herd everyone outside one evening after supper to plop on the grass in the front yard, then hand the camera to my dad and tell him to take a bunch of pictures in hopes of getting a decent one out of the batch.  Taking pictures with three little ones is not always the easiest thing in the world, but I like this one and am glad to use it to replace the old outdated pic!


Remember the plan to have a very special mother/son time with Josiah yesterday?  Unfortunately, after much hype and anticipation, we arrived at the waterpark to find it...closed.  Yep, closed.  What a bummer.  I didn't think to check if it was open every day of the week this month.  Because Jeff and Josiah had gone a few months ago with our church group on a Wednesday, I didn't even consider the possibility of us not getting in.

Plan B involved renting a movie and bringing it home to watch as a family...still fun and not the usual course of events on a Wednesday afternoon, but not exactly as good as the waterpark.  ;)  Fortunately, Plan B also involves Josiah and I returning to the waterpark on Sunday afternoon; and I just happen to know that, barring unforeseen circumstances, it will indeed be open that day!

Yesterday after the excitement of Jeff being off work and running errands with David and Tobin while Josiah and I were off on our date (or non-date, as it turned out) and watching a movie after we returned, etc., David was having quiet time upstairs.  I could hear him playing happily with various things, and then everything got quiet.  This was the scene I found: David asleep in the hall in Tobin's bouncy seat.  :)


Everyone remembers what happened 7 years ago today; and although I didn't know anyone personally who was killed in the tragedy, I remember the collective shock and grief we as a nation felt.  I think most of us could clearly describe where exactly we were when we heard about the 9/11 attacks.  It's just one of those landmark events that divides time in a nation's history and remains permanently in the consciousness of the people.

But in my own life, another event on September 11 has even greater meaning.  Eleven years ago today, my grandfather died.  His name was Otis Winters; and he died at the age of 89 after dealing with Alzheimer's Disease for many, many years.  He was a tiller of the soil on his farm in a tiny mountain valley in Pennsylvania; and he had such a kind, gentle nature.  Someday I'd like to write more about him and my grandmother and my cherished memories of time spent with them; but for now, all I can say is that I'm proud to be his granddaughter, and I still miss him.  I'm looking forward to seeing him in heaven--with no hunched back (a left-over from when his back was broken in a farming accident) and with a clear mind--in a more glorious state than I can even imagine.  Someday, Granddad, someday...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


...has his first (for this semester) choir class with the Shenandoah Valley Children's Choir this afternoon. Lots of anticipation around here about that.

...will be my date tomorrow for our annual (except we skipped last year) mother/son outing. When he was 3 years old, and again when he was 4, we went to a Wiggles concert for our special date. Now that he's older, his activity of choice is going to the indoor waterpark at Massanutten Resort. Lots and lots of anticipation around here about that!! Josiah has been there once...I've never gone...but we're both really excited--my excitement is mostly for the chance to just spend time with and focus on him, without other little ones competing for my attention.

...started soccer this past weekend, and is the oldest player on his team.
~ one thing I've noticed recently about Josiah is that when he's in a new setting in which he doesn't quite feel comfortable, he puts his hands on his hips like in the above pose...I love studying him...I love knowing his habits and mannerisms and as many of his thoughts as he chooses to share with me
~ during their game, the other team only had 4 players instead of the usual 6, so Josiah agreed to play on the other team to even things out--hence, the blue jersey
~ as he enjoyed a snack afterwards, I noticed how the name tag on his shirt identifies him, but how the curve of his ear and the texture of his hair identifies him even more distinctly to me!~ hey! how did this picture get in here? this is supposed to be about Josiah! oh, well, this was Tobin during Josiah's soccer game...I couldn't resist including this sweet face...I would have included a picture of David as well, but the only one I took of him was blurry since he was in motion most of the time we were there!

...made me laugh out loud yesterday when we were reading from The Children's Bible during school, and we flipped open to this page. Upon seeing the picture, Josiah incredulously asked, "Why did Moses get arrested???" Through my laughter, I had to explain that he wasn't being arrested but his arms were being supported by Aaron and Hur so that the Israelites would win the battle against the Amalekites. The innocence and lack of preconceived ideas that children bring to the Bible is constantly refreshing--and occasionally hilarious.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Simple Sunday - Josiah

How could I not choose to feature Josiah for this week's Simple Sunday??? :)

~ so, so, SO thankful for my precious son Josiah!...and for God's hand of protection upon him, even when my arms are too short to reach him ~
If you have a Simple Sunday moment to share, feel free to link up below. I always enjoy reading what others are particularly grateful for; and if a photo accompanies it, that's even better. :)

Friday, September 5, 2008

Wise Words from FlyLady, Grateful Words from Me

I've mentioned before how grateful I am for FlyLady, but recently I was impressed with her for much more than her system of keeping a home. In an email a few days ago, she wrote this:

The internet for men is a place to retrieve information. For women it has become a community.

Is that true or what? Of course, there are certainly times when women use the internet to retrieve information; and men use it for the community aspect of it. But in general, I find her statement to be extremely accurate and helpful for understanding blogging as the modern town well/quilting bee/gathering place for women.

I say all of that to say this: THANK YOU! From the bottom of my heart, thank you for all the kind words shared with us during this week of recovery from Sunday's fright. Thank you for understanding...thank you for not blaming...thank you for praying...thank you for leaving comments, emailing, calling, etc...thank you for sharing your stories of similar incidents...thank you for reminding me that I'm not alone, even in this unchosen part of life's journey.

During the course of this week as we've been out and about, I've happened to see a few friends and acquaintances at various places; and with each one, I've had the sensation of "you don't really know me at this moment because you don't know that I came face to face with Josiah's death on Sunday." In those circumstances however, I haven't felt free to tell them what happened because usually, Josiah has been standing right there with me and I don't want him to have to hear the story repeated endlessly. But in the back of my mind, I've felt like the people who read this blog are truly the ones who know the real me.

Thanks for knowing the real me, and still liking me enough to take the time to read my words. Thanks for being a safe community for me. Thanks for lifting me up when I felt so down this week.

I'm endlessly grateful.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


...despite the mental gymnastics that I go through at least once a day (usually right before I go to sleep at night) to convince myself that everything's OK and to remind myself of God's fundamental goodness and power that can't be taken away from Him, life does go on.

~ Peach jam gets made.
~ Homemade salsa gets canned (by Jeff on his day off).
~ Plastic firemen hats get temporarily discarded by little boys on the kitchen bench.
~ Weight gets recorded (147 pounds this morning...I'm basically holding steady, but am obviously going to have to be more serious about this if I'm going to lose those last 7 pounds to reach my goal).

~ A Tree Is Nice gets read by Josiah.

~ Four new chickens get added to our flock (these are actually supposed to lay eggs, something our other hen hasn't managed to accomplish yet).

~ Toys get chewed by Tobin.

~ Laundry gets hung out on the line.

~ The little metal characters from Cars get raced around the room by David.

~ Friends meet at a coffee shop--without kids (thanks, Amy!).

~ The song, "Be Thou Near to Me" by Selah (at the top of my playlist to the left), runs repeatedly through my head and is a source of great comfort.

~ And an award is given, this one from Mamajil to me (my first blog award!)--a bright spot in this "stretching" week!
I thoroughly enjoy reading Mamajil's blog. As a mother of ten children, she always has lots of stories to tell and pictures to share. Most of all, her positive attitude, abundant patience, and overflowing love are a joy to witness!

Here are the rules of this award (did you know awards come with rules?)... :)
1. The winner can put the logo on their blog.
2. Link the person you received your award from.
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4. Put links of those blogs on yours.
5. Leave a message on the blogs you’ve nominated.

My nominations:

These women truly inspire me by sharing pieces of their lives...and they all take some pretty incredible photographs, too!

I'm going to stop at three, not because there aren't more blogs that I would be glad to give the award to, but because I'm dragging and have more things to do before I fall into bed tonight.

The last thing I want to include are some snippets of conversation from the boys recently. This is the stuff that I would never in a million years remember, if not for this blog.

Last night, since I was out with my friend Amy, I wasn't here to see the clean-up process after supper; but I knew my mother was certainly involved. Today when Josiah and I were talking about what they did last night, I asked if Grandma had stayed late; and he answered, "About 9:00."

"Grandma's such a good..." I started to say, when Josiah cut me off and said, "helper!" Exactly.

Then Josiah asked, "Do you know why she stayed so late?"

"Why?" I replied.

"There was no man or woman to push her down the hill!" was his explanation. The mental picture of a "man or woman" pushing her down the hill to her house made me laugh, although really, I try to do that with my words sometimes when I convince her that she's done quite enough and should go home and go to bed. :)

Another recent Grandma-inspired conversation happened between David and I. He had gone to the bathroom, and then loudly sang out his customary, "Wipe me!" When I entered the bathroom to do the honors, he said forcefully, "I want Grandma to wipe me!" When I asked him why, he answered in the most dramatic voice he could muster up, "Because I wwwuuuvvv her!" Oh, yes, my boy, you may love her; but that doesn't mean she has to wipe you. ;)

One more from David...I have a shirt that, for some reason, always reminds David of his Aunt Lori; and whenever I wear it, he always comments on that fact. On this particular day, we continued talking about the various members of their family; and then David asked, "What's Aunt Lori's grow-up boy?"

"Uncle David?" I replied.

"Ah, yes, Uncle David!" he said.

As if he could ever forget the uncle who shares his name... ;)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

For Memory's Sake

The horror of Sunday's scare is receding ever-so-slowly from the forefront of my mind. Most of the time, I'm OK...as I see Josiah go about the business of being a boy, as I watch him run and play and talk and laugh, as we do school together and feed the animals together and read Charlotte's Web together...I think repeatedly, "He's fine. He's here. Everything turned out OK. You can relax now." But that's easier said than done, especially at random moments when the "what ifs" surge forward and crowd out other happier thoughts.

One of the things that sort of just makes me shake my head at myself is how affected I've been by all of this, despite the happy ending. I mean, for goodness' sake, Josiah didn't drown. He's alive. He's not even sick. Everything really is OK. And it wasn't as if we waited in agony for hours, not knowing what the outcome would be. It all happened so fast--in fact, so quickly that almost as soon as I knew there was a problem, Jeff had fixed it. But in those seconds, I was changed...and my recovery isn't complete.

I want to write down the details so that, when Josiah asks in years to come, "Will you tell me about the time I almost drowned?" I'll be able to share this with him. I look forward to actually encouraging him with this as he is reminded that God saved him when he could have died--and saved him for a purpose.

I don't know how far I'll get with this tonight, but here we go...

After the service and baptisms at Highland Retreat on Sunday, we shared a potluck meal with the church; and after the boys (Josiah and David) had eaten, we let them go down to play in the creek with some of their friends while we finished our food. Ironically enough, Jeff and I talked during that time about how much more freedom we allowed Josiah here than we ever did in Israel. When we lived there, Josiah was much younger, of course, so obviously didn't have the same level of freedom that he does now; but even so, we stuck out like a sore thumb because of our hyper-vigilant parenting. Maybe because the language and culture were so different, we never got to the point of relaxing with him when in a public place like so many of our friends there did with their children. And Israel is actually a very "safe" place, as far as street crime goes. It's truly much safer than many parts of the USA, except for terrorism. But as far as parents letting their children "wander," a lot more of that goes on there than we were comfortable with for Josiah.

Anyway, Jeff and I were discussing this, and observing that we had changed, from strict to lenient. Little did we know that that very afternoon, we would realize the danger of too much freedom...and would see the need to change again.

After some time, the boys came back from the creek and asked to go to the pool. We told them that they couldn't go without us, even though some of the other children/youth were going, so we started packing up our stuff to move in that direction. We decided that Jeff would go ahead with Josiah and David; and I would finish gathering our things, put them in the minivan, then drive down to the pool area with Tobin to meet the others. Jeff, Josiah, and David left for the pool; and I took my time getting ready to go. I stopped to chat with several people, I let Joy Showalter carry Tobin and asked her to meet me at the pool, then I slowly drove down to the pool area, being conscious of the children who were biking there and sensing the danger that they could be in from the vehicle traffic.

Meanwhile, Jeff and the boys were in the big pool together; and they discovered that Josiah could stand up and touch the bottom in the shallow end. After a while, they decided to go to the kiddie pool where it was more fun for David and where the water was warmer. At some point, one or more of the older girls asked if they could take Josiah back over to the bigger pool; and Jeff agreed.

When I got to the pool, if I remember correctly (and these details do feel hazy), I walked over to the fence and had Tobin in my arms since Joy had given him back to me. Apparently, she then asked if I would like her to keep him longer and even walk him around in his stroller (since we weren't leaving for home immediately) so we went back to the minivan and I got the stroller out of the back and set it up. We put Tobin in it and had to adjust the back of the seat since he normally sits in the carseat placed into the stroller, but this time was just sitting in the stroller. He still looked a little funny, hunched over a bit; but I didn't mess with it anymore and simply let Joy and Alyssa Eby walk back to a cabin and push Tobin along (who was extremely tired and easily fell asleep in it, which was great).

This is the part where we clearly see God working. This is where we know the angels must have been pushing me along. This is where I lose my breath and my heart races each time I think about it. This is where a big "what if" comes into play.

If I had spent more time adjusting Tobin in the stroller...if I had talked longer with Joy and Alyssa...if I had taken the time to get something out of the minivan...if I had stopped to chat with anyone else, etc...what would have happened?

At this point, I walked back over to the fence, right outside the kiddie pool. Jeff was sitting there with his feet in the water, taking care of David who was splashing around happily and playing with the other kids. I started my mental head count (which must be second nature for moms); and apparently I asked something like, "Where is Josiah?" or "Who is taking care of Josiah?" Then I saw him, and I think in the first second, I saw his face above water...but in the next instant, I knew he was in distress. I exclaimed incredulously, "Can he reach the bottom of the pool?" knowing the answer already (he had drifted from the shallow end into the area where the pool begins to gradually get deeper). I felt absolute terror take possession of me. Jeff meanwhile hurled himself through space, ran into an obstacle at the gate of the kiddie pool as someone was trying to close it, thought he would have to jump across the fence, half-yelled "let me through, let me through" or something like that, finally got out, rushed to the big pool, jumped in, and grabbed Josiah. Somewhere along the way, he knocked a water polo goal into the pool; and someone else must have retrieved that because that was the last we thought of it. Jeff carried Josiah out of the pool, and took him to a bench where they sat and Jeff held Josiah on his lap with a towel around him. Josiah was crying, and I was unutterably glad to hear it. Six years ago, I rejoiced to hear his first cry as a newborn; but this time, his cry brought even more relief to me. Josiah was saying, "I'm going to die, I'm going to die," and we sought to reassure him that he was indeed safe--safe in his daddy's arms. After he calmed down, Jeff offered to go into the pool with him since we didn't want him to develop a deep fear of the water--the whole get-back-on-the-horse-that-just-bucked-you-off thing--but Josiah said wearily that he just wanted to go home. He didn't want to talk to his friends or say goodbye or anything: just go home.

Enough for now...more tomorrow?

Monday, September 1, 2008

All I Can Think About

Yesterday was a day full of happy moments--from our church having a service at a local camp, followed by baptisms in the river and a meal together, to a reunion here in our home last evening of most of the group who traveled to Nazareth this past July with Jeff (and an overnight stay of two of the team members from Pennsylvania).

Smack dab in the middle of it all, however, was the most terrifying moment of my life.

Josiah almost drowned.

I can hardly write about it. The events and emotions are still so vivid in my mind, and the processing of it and coming to grips with it is only partially done. For now, all I can say is that it involved the pool at the campground, a couple of girls that we trusted to take care of him who got distracted after a while, a lifeguard who apparently wasn't paying attention, miraculous timing of God bringing me to the fence of the pool and alerting me to Josiah's situation, and Jeff jumping in the pool to rescue him. For memory's sake, I want to fill in the details later, but I can't write more about it now.

I can't write...but I can think. And all day yesterday after the incident, and all night during my broken sleep, and all day today...any moment that isn't filled with something else demanding my attention becomes an instant replay of seeing him in the water. My thoughts go crazy, and I have to very consciously work at reeling them back to reality and the awareness of God's presence and power. The fear and pain are inexpressibly deep.

Last night, as Jeff and I lay in bed and talked (and talked and talked) about this and many other things, he reminded me of a verse from the story of the Prodigal Son. In Luke 15:24, the father says, "This son of mine was dead and is alive again." That's exactly how we feel: not that Josiah was literally dead, but so easily could have been.

I will never stop thanking God for giving us our son again. Never...never...