In Thanksgiving

Just over three months ago I was contacted by a family friend asking if I would be interested in doing a painting for her. The painting was to be based off of a photograph of a woman standing on mountainous terrain with her arms outstretched and her face radiantly lifted up to the heavens. The woman in the photograph was Jaime’s sister, who sadly had taken her last breath just the day before Jaime had written to me. Tammy had lost her 18 month battle with pancreatic cancer at just 54-years-old. I never had the privilege of meeting Tammy here on this earth, but from what I’ve heard and read about her, she is nothing short of extraordinary!


It had been quite a long time since I had done any large scale portrayals of real people, however I immediately agreed to do this for Jaime. If my God-given talent could bring some fraction of peace to her shattered heart — then yes, of course I will do this!

I shopped that weekend for just the right sized canvas and splurged on some durable “real artist” paints and some new fancy brushes. (The little artists in my family don’t always rinse Muthr’s brushes out properly.) And then I set to work.

The large blank canvas sat before me in my quiet, empty house.

“Lord, I thank you for this talent. I pray that you guide each brush stroke, that each dab of paint will bring honor and glory to You and to this beautiful life you created, Tammy — who was on loan to us for only a short time. I pray that the paint on this canvas will bring peace and comfort to Jaime and to the rest of Tammy’s family. Amen.”

I took a deep breath as I dipped brand new bristles into the fresh dollops of paint on my pallet. Large sweeping strokes of blues, grays, and whites, cirrus whispers of pinks and yellows, the sky, an ever changing moment in time.


The rest of the painting would come to life over the course of the next 3 months, usually on quiet uninterrupted afternoons (except for the occasional cat visit) while the kids were in school. I smiled as I contemplated the original photograph. Tammy’s face simply radiated with joy as she looked up to that sky on that day. She was in beautiful Hawaii for the gender reveal of her grand baby due in a few months time, I was later told. There was such hope and promise on that breathtaking horizon. Tammy’s terminal illness hadn’t been diagnosed, yet it had already established itself, silently and cruelly stealing her away from all that she loved and all that loved her… or so it seems from this side of heaven. There were some afternoons that I cried bitterly, especially while painting Tammy. How unfair and fragile this delicate balance of life and death is — and has always been. It’s not until someone we love deeply is torn away from us that we fully comprehend this.

The last two days I spent working on the final touches of this painting were such a gift. Summer would never have to bid its farewell, if I had anything to say about it. The gift of 76 blessed degrees in late November, little butterflies and sweat bees still lingering about… It would have been a tragic lapse of judgement not to drag everything outside onto the back deck. My makeshift outdoor studio overlooked Autumn’s majestic trees dressed in splendid finery of reds, yellows and blazing oranges. Wisps of feathery clouds coiled and whorled above me against the backdrop of God’s cerulean blue hue canvas. I turned on some nostalgic 70s music, and vowed to soak in the last of these perfect weather days, as was forewarned by the forecast. It certainly wasn’t Hawaii, but my rendition of Tammy, with her arms outstretched seemed to revel in the treasured warmth out on the back deck right along with me.


The blustering cold had snuck in during the night shortly after the final strokes of my signature had dried. The painting was finished. I tearfully hoped and prayed that it would bring comfort to Jaime.

And It did. I eagerly brought it to her the next day, just in time for the difficult, bittersweet holidays that loomed off in the short distance. As I presented the painting to Jaime this past Monday, we held each other in a tearful embrace. I had absolutely no idea, but this day, Jaime explained, just so happened to be the anniversary of her mother’s death. There could not have been better timing.


As we endure the empty space in our hearts and around the tables this Thanksgiving and Christmas, let us be reminded of all that is still good, and all that was once “perfect”, and all that WILL BE perfect once again, in the very true sense of the word. Love and blessings to each of you this Thanksgiving.

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“Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (‭Psalm‬ ‭106:1‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

Baby Gavin Reimer

From my desk I took a deep breath and prayed, “Lord, God, let this be a worthy and accurate portrayal of this precious baby boy’s life, and all of the love that surrounded him before and after he was born — the 6 hours he shared his breaths and heartbeats with his beloved family. I pray that there are no complications with the software, hardware or anything else. Please inspire me internally and externally and enable me to make the very most of this limited time. In your name I pray.”

Bitter tears streamed down my face as I organized, spliced, synced and labeled each precious moment captured in photographs. His mama had given me the artistic liberty to tell their story — their story that had just unfolded on that same awful road that had once scarred, bruised and blistered my own feet. How very privileged, yet nervous I was to have been entrusted with such a monumental task. With God’s help, I pressed on.

And at a reasonable hour of the night, it was complete, ready for her to see — without one glitch. I apprehensively sent her the link and watched the video again as I awaited her response. A fresh batch of tears spilled out onto my desk. How lucky he was to have been so intensely and intentionally loved, held close and cherished literally the span of his entire life. How many can lay claim to this? Each slide personalized the reckless, yet confident love his parents and brothers held for him. A love that threatened to mortally wound their hearts – yet they held fast to it anyway. This baby boy was worthy of THAT kind of love. I prayed that this love was accurately represented in this composition of photographs taken by his family and by photographers who themselves were no stranger to grief. 

She soon texted back that she was beyond pleased with what I had created and expressed such fervent gratitude. Tears of relief mingled with the tears of sorrow, “Thank you, God!!!”

With Kirsten’s permission, and with such love in my heart, I present to you The Treasured Moments and Precious Life of Gavin Mark Reimer ~

My Sweet Oma

We walked arm in arm along some transcendental pathway. We laughed, we talked, and there was the love. The love that gripped us to the very core and would never let go. I kept a slower pace, mindful of her injured leg. I commented on how well she seemed to be walking now, and how proud I was of her progress. In her typical style she brushed off the compliment and explained in her thick German accent how she’s not perfect yet – she has some trouble going up hills, but that she’d get there.

And then the dream was over. I turned over in bed to look at the time and to see who had just texted.

“Oma was admitted to the hospital this morning. Her oxygen levels are low and she was very lethargic. Dad is on his way there now. They had called to ask about putting her on a ventilator…” my Mom’s text read.

I sat up in bed, startled by my dream’s contrast with this sudden and unsettling reality. I didn’t know what to say in response. William and the kids were out of town visiting William’s family in Texas. I got ready in the silent house and drove to the hospital because I just didn’t know what else to do. During the 33 minute drive I reflected on the dream. Was that her saying goodbye to me on her way out of here??! No! I pressed the accelerator a little closer to the floor.

So far, there hasn’t been anything Oma couldn’t defeat. Why would this be any different? She had fallen in the shower back in April and had broken her femur. Because of the complicated nature of the break and its close proximity to one of her prosthetic knees – an involved surgery needed to take place. We were all warned of the huge risks involved, mainly concerning her heart. There was a very big chance that she might not have survived that surgery. But she did. She even made it out of the hospital to a rehabilitation facility where she worked so hard to regain her strength so she could get back home. Of course there were a few setbacks along the way, but she hurdled over each one – fighting strong.

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It was impossible for any of us to fully realize the severity of the situation early that morning in the hospital, yet in less than 24 hours she was gone.

We spent that whole day at her bed side. It was discovered later in the morning that she had suffered a stroke at some point in the previous night or early that morning. In all likelihood that is what impaired her ability to communicate with us. While she wasn’t physically able to talk to us, it seemed like she was trying her hardest. There was still a mighty fight in her, but her tired body was not cooperating anymore.

We reassured her that we were there with her, we held her hands, stroked her hair and talked about all the fun times we’d had already. And my sweet Dad… He and my Mom had become Oma’s caretakers over these past few of years. For almost 11 months of those years she had lived with them. However, that day there in the hospital I poignantly witnessed my Dad as Oma’s little boy as he recalled stories about when he was little. “Mama die kaffe is kocht,” he’d tell her in German, his first language. And how she’d obligingly pour a cup of pretend coffee into a pretend cup–the imaginary coffee he had “cooked” on the heat register in his little pewter coffee pot. That instinctual and sacred bond between mother and child – death can never tear that apart. Even though deep in our hearts we realized the end was near, I think we all expected that Oma would pop her eyes open any moment–that we’d again hear her tell us she loves us or suddenly insist that we must be so busy and shouldn’t be “bozzering vis all dis cdrap” (“bothering with all this crap”). She regarded her major, major surgeries and hospital stays as just bothers and inconveniences that must be endured — swatting at gnats. She never EVER wanted to inconvenience anyone.

Her tenacious spirit seemed immortal. For those of us who called her “Oma” or “Mom” there has never been a world in which she didn’t exist. That iconic German accent, her quirky, animated and sometimes blunt personality–she is the leading character in so many memories–emphasis on the word “character”! Sometimes it was just the language / cultural barrier situations that she ended up in that were so hilarious! She came over here from Germany with her husband in 1953 with a toddler and five months pregnant with my Dad. They started off with very little money and not much English either. One story I remember in particular from my Dad is the time Oma went to the beauty parlor maybe back in the sixties. She had been in conversation with the woman styling up her big hair and Oma had apparently shared something astounding with her. The stylist’s response was, “You’ve gotta be shittin’ me, Maria!!” Safe to say that Oma knew what all of those words meant by then, but she had never heard them in that context and was extremely confused. “Vott is dat shuppose to mean??”

The photographs of her sweeping across the dance floor to the tune of some grand waltz with my Opa,

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visits back home to Germany,

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at home with her kids on Stanhope Avenue in their first house,

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in a candid loving moment with her husband, my dear sweet Opa,

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or behind the counter at Koester’s Bakery

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— she always wore that beautiful smile.

Shortly before she broke her leg back in April she had a few more photographs for me to add to the rest of her photos I have been organizing, digitizing and archiving. I asked about this one in particular:

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She shook her head in mock dismay, “Acht! My fdriends tolt me zet dis vas a svimvear pah-tee. Vee vere all schuppose to vear our bazing soots an I vas zee only von. Ohhhh, how vee LAUGHED.” (Her friends invited her to a swimwear party and when she showed up, she was the only one wearing her bathing suit.) Seems that bathing suit debacles run in our family!!!?

Behind her loving, contagious smile and those sparkling eyes was a woman who had witnessed and endured unthinkable circumstances and horrors, especially during WWII in Germany. {We helped her put together her autobiography several years ago: AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MARIA A. KOESTER.} She had every right to be bitter, distrustful and withdrawn — but she chose not to be. I never ever heard her complain or feel sorry for herself. Life didn’t owe her anything. She made the absolute best with what she had and had a blast doing it.

In the day after she passed a great storm had rolled through. We were busy weeding through 88 years of photographs for the slideshow that we would play at her funeral. A strange yellow sky summoned our attention at the window. We were drawn outside and stared up at the peculiar cloud formations cast in an unnatural shade of yellow. We walked barefoot through the wet grass to investigate the bright pink color shining through the trees.

“What is that?”

And then it came into view…

A streak of purple lightening slashed through the sky and across the rainbow taking my breath away. We were awestruck, dumbfounded and overcome with emotion. With each blink the rainbow changed in intensity. I had NEVER seen anything like it in my life — even the clouds — they had a strange blur around edges that gave the illusion that they were out of focus – like a blurry photograph where you can see 2 of the same object. As I took photo after photo my phone began receiving a series of texts. Apparently from where I was standing, I was only seeing a small part of this INCREDIBLE rainbow.

These are from my brother:

And then this one from my friend Tonya:

The one that sent tears spilling down my cheeks – the double rainbow. The two of them, little Nora with her bright and vibrant Oma, playing the harmonica and singing “Hoppe Hoppe, Reiter” or “Klip Klop” together in Eternity. The exquisite timing was absolutely overwhelming. No way I could dismiss or deny these implications.

Maria Koester, my Oma was one beautiful, compassionate, feisty, tender, determined, brave, selfless, mighty, hilarious and extraordinary woman who I am completely and utterly honored to call my Oma. I am eternally grateful for the gift of that one last walk with her, and for that enormous colorful beacon from the heavens, sent to let us know she had arrived safely and that she got her hands on my fat little cherub up there!

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
(Romans 8:18)

The slideshow from Oma’s funeral:

Two Years

We took turns holding her lifeless, precious body all night long until the sun came up. Caressing her soft skin, stroking her precious fuzzy hair, I tried to memorize every single feature of her dear little face, her dimpled little hands, chubby baby fingers, and fat little toes. Occasionally one of us would recall a funny memory and a lilt of laughter would contradict the intense sorrow that tightly encapsulated the room. “How do we walk away from here? How do we just get in our car, shut the doors and drive home with all of our stuff… and no baby,” I wondered, hours in to clutching her body tightly. Somehow she had lost her exquisitely delicious baby scent, perhaps a biological process of dying, “Maybe it left with her soul? Is that what heaven smells like?” My heart ached for that enchanted baby aroma — still does and always will.

Since that morning of intense and crushing sorrow, our lives have continued on — minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, and now year into year. 

For a few days shy of two years, her little grave had been unmarked. For much of that time I was of the mindset that having “nothing” was better than settling for ordinary. We simply could not find anything that was befitting of such a special baby. About a year or so into image searching for “unique headstones” — I found one that I really liked. Indeed unique, it incorporated bronze accents into the granite. I loved that! It wasn’t EXACTLY what I wanted, but clearly who ever created that headstone had the ability to think outside the box. It was truly a work of art. I clicked on the image, ready to resign myself to the fact that they were in Europe or some far off land, as had been all the others I’d liked. Once redirected to their website, I sat staring in disbelief — Louisville, Kentucky!?!?! Really?!?! If you only knew the number of times I was redirected to a foreign website would you understand my astonishment! This is how I found Joy Monuments

And so now, without further ado, we present to you this gorgeous, distinctive, and very meaningful tribute to our beloved Nora:



Deciding on a headstone for your child is probably one of the saddest things a parent could ever have to do. But I will say that it was truly a “joy” to work with Joy Monuments. They were so patient with us as we tried to make up our minds on what it was that we truly wanted. This was nothing that we could have (or wanted to) pick out of a catalog. The portfolio of this monument company’s extraordinary work indicated to us that there wasn’t much that they weren’t capable of. So for many months we brainstormed and traded ideas back and forth until we finally settled on the perfect design, the perfect stone type and color, the perfect fonts, and the perfect accents while needing to take the cemetery regulations into consideration. 


We had to, of course, feature the “3 Little Birds” who showed up time and time again — before, throughout and after Nora’s life. The 3 little birds with their message pure true, as the song goes, “Don’t worry, about a thing. Cuz every little things gonna be alright.” Our pet house sparrow Ava (1997-2007) served as the model for the 3 little birds. They are created out of bronze, sculpted from pictures we provided of Ava. Each bird also represents a number 7, with there being 7 letters in ‘SPARROW’. The three of them together are the ‘777’ treasured days that Nora was here with us.


The headstone wouldn’t be complete without the asymmetrical, perfectly imperfect heart. The top of the heart is formed by a scripty letter E, for ‘Elanora’ (Nora’s full “fancy name”), E for ‘Eternity’, and E for the high-pitched ‘eeeeeeyeee’ noise that used to elicit a big smile from her sweet little face. The rest of the heart blends into the infinity symbol representing our infinite love, God’s infinite love, and the infinite eternity of heaven.

In anticipation for the day when our time is up on this earth we purchased the plots on either side of Nora. Someday my name and William’s name will be placed on the base of the monument with our respective dates, as we are united together in eternity. One bird in flight (Nora) and the other two birds (her Mom & Dad) perched in waiting with their paths to Eternity clearly marked, etched in stone.

Until then, I’ll be perched right here missing her, remembering her, and thinking about her and the June 3rd that she took flight. The grief is still very heavy. There are days when its weight is agonizing, but it is now just a part of me and I’ve accepted that. There is nothing I would do to be rid of it because it is all that I have left of her. It is the evidence of my love.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV)

Merry Christmas!

*tap*tap*tap* Is this thing on?

My natural inclination is to apologize for my lack of regular postings, but I know that most of you who still read this blog understand that it probably doesn’t come so easy anymore. No, I will admit — it doesn’t. Half the time I just don’t have anything to say, the other half of the time I don’t have anything nice to say, so I don’t say anything at all.

In case you missed it, I was featured in an article in the Cincinnati Enquirer! I feel that the author and photographer/videographer did a wonderful job in depicting my story / Nora’s story. They had interviewed me for this almost a year ago, and I figured they decided not to run the story, which was no big deal. I was pleasantly surprised to get a call from  Chrissie Thompson the Friday before it went to print. She called to give me a heads up, and to read the article to me over the phone since she couldn’t send it. Here’s the link:

Abortion: The Most Important Decision of Her Life

Since it is now Christmas Eve, I will publicly unveil this year’s Christmas card while simultaneously wishing each of you a very Merry  Christmas and happy holiday season!

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We’ve got Lady Baby always on our minds and like to imagine her up in heaven doing all sorts of sweet and silly things. If it were to actually snow here, how funny to think of her helping to cut out snow flakes and tossing them down to us. Then of course the implication that Starbucks was trying to cancel Christmas this year by dispensing plain red cups. LOL. Hmm… Wayyyy too many other things to focus attention and energy on. Just LOVE, for the LOVE!

I had some help from Greta this year. This little drawing was part of her Christmas wish list and it made us smile, so we had to share it:

manger scene

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If you usually receive a card from us and you haven’t received one yet, perhaps it will get to you in March. Which leads me to my next segment…

Things I’ve Learned in 2015

Last year’s tree of knowledge blossomed with the acrid aroma of garlic when I unknowingly substituted 3 garlic BULBS for 3 garlic CLOVES. I nearly asphyxiated my family and ruined our kitchen and adjoining rooms in the process, but NOW I KNOW.

And now on to 2015’s lesson(s) …

This year I was curious as to why I hadn’t heard a single feedback on my Christmas card many days after I had sent it out. Was it too over the top? Is it really bad, and no one likes it?? Did it make everyone sad?? At least my MOM would have said something?? Right? 😬

Turns out they weren’t being delivered. How could this be?? Slightly panicked, I began brainstorming on what the problem might be. This is when I stumbled upon a wellspring of information from offbeatbride’s site. Of course at this point, I had already addressed my DARK GRAY envelopes with METALLIC ink, stamped them and dropped them into the abyss of the big blue mail receptacle: 

Nooooooo!!!!

I had gone through such great lengths to get the envelopes ordered on time, the card design completed and sent off to the printer only slightly last minute…

I was all

 

Thanks for this hilarious visual, Melanie!!! 

When I might as well have been all

 about it.

Very slowly but surely, people are receiving them.  *Sigh of relief… * Just might not be before Christmas.

My other big lesson happened on an otherwise fabulous trip to Chicago just before Thanksgiving this year. William and I headed off to the Windy City for a long weekend with a couple of dear friends of ours and no kids. Hotel accommodations were made, restaurant reservations placed well ahead of time, Uber app downloaded and configured, proper attire carefully selected and methodically packed… Except… My bathing suit! … D*mn it! Oh well. I just won’t go swimming. Simple enough.

Fast forward to Saturday when William and I were walking through clods of snow in 19 degrees outside of the art museum trying to figure out the Uber app in real life. In real freezing cold life. Once back to the hotel, nothing sounded better than to immerse myself in the scalding, steaming, bubbly, soothing whirlpool. As swimwear is not exactly in peak season in Chicago at this time, I had 2 options:

1) A $265.00, ugly at best, string bikini that was left over from the summer, now tucked away in the back corner at Bloomingdales.

or

2.) A $7 disposable bathing suit enthusiastically  presented to us by a member of the hotel spa staff:

… “They’re inexpensive enough…”

The first big warning sign that I should have just left well enough alone was the fact that they only had one size left:

“It will be just fine,” she reassured me, “There is a ton of elastic in it. It will fit you!”

“Pleeeeeease???” my frozen feet pleaded.

After a 4 second span of undecided silence, I caved. What the heck… Why not. YOLO!

William handed over $7 in exchange for the “Dipster” package.

The kind young girl showed me around the locker room and gave me instructions on how to use the locker key pads, and then left me to make a complete ass out of myself from this point forward.

I looked around in vain for some sort of changing rooms, or a curtain… SOMETHING. I’m not the type of person who treats a public locker room like my own personal rowdy Las Vegas strip club. That’s fine if that’s your thing and you don’t mind letting it all hang out in front of complete strangers. Just WAY out of my comfort zone, is all I’m sayin. This was my second sign that swimming REALLY wasn’t that big of a deal. Just go back to the hotel room, for the love!!!!! But no. William was already probably waiting for me out in the pool area. I’ll just HURRY UP and change as fast as I can, I thought to myself.

Well, of course, as soon as I’m standing there in nothing but black socks, fumbling with this stupid plastic packaging — like 7 people come barging in. And then some girl starts putting on makeup, and brushing her hair in the mirror directly behind me and totally invading my 700 foot radius I have claimed as personal space based on my current state of clothelessness. My hot red face certainly wasn’t cold anymore!!

I finally got the disposable / reusable contraption on and followed the arrowed signs that read “POOL”. Sure enough, on my way to the pool — there is the neat and tidy row of dressing rooms that everyone else had the courtesy and decency to use. Except me. In my disposable bathing suit. (Oooooh!! Just go back to the room!!!!!!)

Enter pool room and there is my husband reposed and simmering in the whirlpool with a bemused expression on his face. Other people also in the whirlpool are looking at me like:

At the point of no return, I forced an anxiety-ridden smile and exclaimed, “Tah Dah!!!” (jazz hands)

I proceeded to make my way into the disappointingly lukewarm whirlpool. Maybe if I close my eyes really tight they can’t see me…. Aaaaaaarrrrgh!! D*mn it!!!!!!

Finally, enough was enough. I was going to get out and dry off, and go straight back to the room. So I stood up and started up the concrete steps only to discover that this durable, tear resistant Tyvek® from DuPont fabric was the equivalent of trying to lift a garbage bag full of water out of a pool. The entire body of water was now collected in this bathing suit. “Pardon me while I empty my bathing suit back into your whirlpool! You’re welcome, bye!!!”

I grabbed a complimentary robe from the locker room, hurriedly stuffed my clothes into my purse and stoically made my way back to our room where I stood there trying to assess what had just happened…

Wondering why swimming / whirlpooling had been THAT important. There it is, people. The lovely inexpensive / reusable bathing suit, in case you have a hankering to make a complete fool of yourself a second or third time or more! I may have saved $258, but certainly didn’t spare any dignity what so ever. Oh well. It’s hilarious in hind sight — no pun intended.

Merry Christmas! 😂💗💕

In Loving Memory of Nora

This past June my friend Janelle contacted me about setting up a “Give Back” benefit in Nora’s memory. As a Thirty-One consultant she explained her idea of having people sponsor a Thirty-One bag or tote which we would then fill with toiletries / arts and crafts and appropriate miscellanies for parents and children staying at Children’s Hospital. Recalling our own anxious times with Nora in the hospital, I thought this was a great idea. Those extra little somethings can be such gesture of love, especially during times when everything else seems to be upside down. In many instances shampoo, a toothbrush, hair ties, etc. were the last thing that that terrified mama was thinking about when she suddenly found herself holding the tiny hand of her toddler in a hospital bed. For the siblings and/or the patients themselves — a little diversion from the medicines, the shots, X-rays, scans and waiting rooms with some crayons, stickers or a stuffed animal — something. After some deliberation we decided that the donated bags and totes would go to the Ronald McDonald House of Cincinnati. I designed a flyer and put the word out on Nora’s Facebook page. In a few week’s time we had accumulated 26 sponsors for the kids’ totes and 20 sponsors for the parent totes! THANK YOU so very much to each and every one of you who participated! It felt so good to collectively do something in Nora’s memory, especially something that would bless people in what is likely a very scary season of their lives.

With the bags ordered, Janelle set to work collecting the multitude of contents from a variety of sources and then hauled it all over to my house where we set to work assembling it. Of course we had a couple of helpers… for a little bit anyway! Greta’s interest held a little bit longer than Gavin’s, but we got it all done in about an hour’s time!

  
  
We truly appreciate all the offers to help put these together, but we had plenty hands on deck this time around. We are hoping to do this again next year, and depending on the turn out, we might be able to use your help then!

Finally, on August 25th, William, Janelle, the kids and I packed up the bags/totes full of goodies into the car and set off to the Ronald McDonald House of Cincinnati to make our special delivery. Here are some pictures from our visit:
       

It was very sweet to be immediately recognized as “Nora’s family” by a member of the staff who was a blog follower / Nora fan. Although we had spent many nights at Children’s with Nora, we never partook in the opportunity to stay at this beautiful establishment. Each stay at the hospital was so serious, we were afraid to leave Nora’s side. Nor did we want to take up a room when our house is 20 minutes away. Some of the families listed on the visitor’s board had traveled half way around the world to receive care for their children next door at the hospital. Tears of gratitude welled up in my eyes at this reminder of how truly blessed we were to have lived SO close.

We had expected to drop off our donations and head back out, but a volunteer asked us if we’d like to take a tour! We graciously accepted! I’d have to say that if you’re faced with the anxieties of a child in the hospital, RMH does an incredible job of making sure these families are comfortable, inspired, encouraged, fed, nurtured and taken care of. I was truly touched by the presence of hearts everywhere I looked. No doubt this was a place of LOVE.

 Thank you again to everyone who helped make this possible and a big shout out to Janelle who put it all together. We’d love to do it again next year!

_______________________

A few weeks after we dropped the bags and totes off, I had the absolute pleasure of paying a visit to Ronald McDonald House again! This time I went to spend some time with beautiful Ivy and her sweet Mama & Grandmother. They had come in to town from West Virginia for Ivy’s doctor appointments and were staying at RMH! Ivy has trisomy 18 like Nora did, and was one of the first babies – if not THE first baby with trisomy 18 to receive life sustaining heart surgery at Cincinnati Children’s in 2013. She has paved the way for other babies with this condition, proving that surgery for these children is NOT futile. Ivy will be 3 in December!

It is such a blessing to know this family! We can’t wait to see Ivy and Robin again next time they’re in town!
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. (John 15:12 NIV)

 

A Concurrence of Miracles

I bow my head in tearful thanksgiving for the precious lives of Marlee Jo and Runner Cosette. How very blessed each of these little girls were to have been so loved and cherished literally every second of their lives. I pray for continued strength and for the comfort of peace to be upon these families as they embark on this painful journey of loss.

I can’t say for certain, but I imagine that Nornor jumped right out of her baff tub with her fuzzy wispy hair still wet, and ran as fast as she could to greet her sweet little trisomy sisters. When Jesus came into view she sent them off running straight into His arms.

 In Sweet Loving Memory of
Marlee Jo
July 12 – 14, 2015
&
Runner Cosette
July 11 – 15, 2015

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.
(Romans 8:18-19)