Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Retail Therapy Exists.

I've heard the term "retail therapy" before but never paid it much mind. Now, however, I see it does exist.

Greg and I are not spenders, typically. We are savers. We don't buy something unless we have the money for it. We saved and saved while living in Grand Forks so when we moved we could buy a house (and even having a mortgage is tough for us... knowing we will owe money for many years). Our saver-mindedness came in handy when my job was cut and we had to live off one income. We had saved so we knew we'd be okay... and even when I never got a job, we learned to be better, smarter shoppers and be grateful for Greg's job that provides income and a way for him to go to grad school full-time.

That to say, I do like to shop. I definitely spend way more than Greg, but I would still classify myself as a saver. Greg takes saving to a whole different level, however. I mean he got out of college WITH money - who does that?! Greg hates to spend money except for where it counts (special occasions, tipping, etc). I love that about him (okay, I have learned to love that about him!). He especially hates to spend money on himself and if you ask him what he wanted he would say nothing. Lame, huh? I can always name a looong want list!

All that to say, we've changed a bit since Maelee died. I stopped caring about how much stuff cost. I had this new mentality that came from out of nowhere... a sort of "who cares, life's too short, just buy it" attitude. I went out shopping for the first time in May. I came home with new tennis shoes, decorations, frames, clothes, gifts galore... I just bought whatever. It felt good for awhile. It helped somehow.

And surprisingly Greg was the same way. He bought me great gifts for my birthday. He let me buy him shoes and Twins gear. He almost spent $225 to have someone capture DV video for us (I stopped that one). He let me buy lots of gifts. Our weed wacker broke last week... so we ordered a new one. We barely even researched it! We always research and mull over most purchases we make.

One thing Greg did say he wanted (if you made him tell you something) was an electric guitar. That's been the only thing on his wish list for 5+ years. I knew when I married him that I was marrying a drummer... but I didn't know I was going to marry a guitarist too! He's quite good and wanted an electric guitar and amp and foot peddle... the works. Back in March I told him when we sold our old car he should use the money to buy it all (once the baby was here and we made sure that was wise). Well, with everything that happened I even more so pushed Greg to buy it, knowing it would make him very happy.

So we had a friend sell the car for us (good-bye Tracer, you were good to us) and last week I clicked "buy" online (knowing Greg would never actually do it) and today it all showed up! I have one very happy husband among a pile of boxes in the living room causing the floor to vibrate as I type this. (Yes, the head phones were back-ordered so I get to enjoy all the "music" he's making as he figures out the settings). Seriously though, I'm so glad Greg finally is getting what he actually wants (not like the past birthdays of opening socks and khakis and polo shirts).

I recognize that we can't keep just buying stuff or we will go broke and run out of space in our house. I recognize that it's just a very temporary high during our grief. I recognize that the good feelings we get when buying stuff is not going to make anything really better. I recognize that we will go back to being savers and this too shall pass.

So if you find yourself in the midst of tragedy and your credit card is smoking from use, I guess I will encourage you by saying it's normal.

-Heather

Monday, June 28, 2010

No Bubble Here.

Many people are wondering how we do seeing kids, babies, pregnant people... here's how I feel (warning, I am being blatantly honest here):

It's very, very hard to see newborn babies. There is a lady in our support group that vowed she was never going to hold another baby until it was hers. I don't know if I'll be that severe, but for now, I know I can't handle seeing newborns for very long. A few weeks ago I glimpsed the head of a baby girl who was just a few days old at Kohls and I lost it a bit in the dressing room.

Any babies that were born around the time that Maelee was due are hard for us to see. It's just too raw and hard for us not to compare our emptiness. This, I assume, will get better with time. Though I have a feeling that even when our niece graduates high school and gets married both Greg and I will think "Maelee should be doing that..."

We do pretty good with kids. Especially ones we know (I guess that makes it easier). Random little girls can still cause a stab of pain. When I see outfits that we have for Maelee on another little girl, it's hard. I have yet to be out in public and see a cute little red-headed girl... I'm sure that will be painful when it happens.

We also do pretty good with pregnant bellies. Though the other day Greg said he saw someone the same build as me who had a big preggo belly and it was really hard for him.

It's often hard for me to talk about babies/kids (the topics moms talk about) because I feel like I have nothing to contribute, no similar experiences, no common bond. I feel like the junior high kid left out from the cool kids circle. And I don't want to be the Debby Downer in the conversation either, where people have to tip-toe around the grief-stricken lady.

It's also hard to see people mistreating children. That's just plain frustrating.

So that's what I can tell you. It's nothing that I can have a formula for or a pie chart of triggers. It is grief... it's going to be hard. Granted, it helps to have some idea what has been super painful for us so we can avoid 'til the pain isn't as intense. As much as I'd like to shield us from that pain, it's not going to happen.

Life is going on around us and we can't live in a bubble. Please don't worry about offending us, we'll step away, walk away if we can't handle it. We are glad for the life God's given around us... yet I know that my grief sort of clouds that gladness at times. I guess that's the selfishness of grief, revealing it's ugly head. My grief is not a ticket to become ugly (that is southern-speak for rude/unkind/nasty).

Thank you, friends and family, for loving us, loving me, through this when I'm probably not being as friendly, kind, loving, giving or helpful as I should be.

Ah grace. Sweet, unmerited grace.

-Heather

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Last Weekend's Getaway.

We want to thank all our Kasowski siblings for an amazing weekend away. It was a hard milestone-filled weekend and it was sweet for them to think of sending us away for it. Thank you Matt, Jill, Chris, Amy and Andrew for blessing us with the fanciest place either of us have ever stayed.


We were supposed to leave at 2:30pm on Friday but Greg came home and crashed at 1:00pm. He was feeling crappy for a few days prior... and it sort of hit him then. He slept while I packed. I was not having a good birthday. I had to kill a cockroach. It was hot. I was hungry. I was selfish. Greg was sick. Blah. We got on the road and I had to drive (I never drive anymore... I usually get to sleep in the passenger seat). Then we got a little lost. Basically, I was not having a great day.

But then we arrived to our destination at Three Pines View, in the mountains of SC. The place is beautiful. It's only been open a year and it's fancy. We figure it had to cost 4 million or so... they did not cut any corners building the place. It's a sweet B & B-like place owned by a nice older couple... who came out to greet us and carry in our luggage. That's when my birthday finally turned around.The siblings had them make us dinner. It was delicious... the meals we had were definitely some of the best we've ever had. One breakfast included orange-pineapple juice in martini glasses, fresh fruit (some from their garden), crisp bacon, fluffy veggie omelets, wonderfully unique fried-ish pancakes with walnuts and pure maple syrup... I know, right?! Sidenote: Mr. Hayes is a great chef so I had him try our chippers so he could make the northern delicacy someday.

Sweet view!

The place is designed very well. And the bed! Oh it was pure comfort. Every piece of furniture in the place was top of the line. I never wanted to get up once I sat down. Sweet luxury.

We had a twirly staircase in our place!

We didn't do a whole lot during the weekend since Greg was sick. We lounged, absorbed the views of God's creation, watched some World Cup, flipped channels, read, took photographs, thought about Maelee, processed some grief.

But we did get out and see some beautiful waterfalls:

You could drive under this one (Greg decided to take a shower).

Why couldn't Columbia be in the mountains!!

Greg got a little wet from the waterfall shower...
and I really should have photoshopped the dude in the red out of the background.

Very peaceful.

Every sweet thing we experience these days isn't quite as sweet. Like its tarnished. I don't know if it will always be that way or not. Will waterfalls and flowers and sunsets ever look as they should? I await heaven... for I hope that there, indeed, they will be even better. Regardless, I recognize the blessing we had by getting this weekend getaway and a chance for relaxation. It was needed and appreciated.


-Heather

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Go Twins.

I have the best hubsband ever.

Greg and I are Minnesota Twins fans. They built a new stadium this year and we really wanted to go to a game... but when we were up north last month they were on the road. But Greg has graciously allowed me to go up to MN to join his family for a few games AND be there for Ali's forth birthday in July. What a great guy! He can't go because he doesn't have enough time off at work. So he'll be stuck working while I get to have 9 days of fun.

Get ready Dad K and Gram and Gramps and the rest of the crew... I'm coming to cheer them on with you (and represent for the Dale K clan).

And get ready Ali... Auntie Heather is coming to sing you happy birthday in person and help decorate your new room!

Target Field... outside!

I find that I must have things on the calendar to look forward to. I've always been that way... on the plane coming home from vacation, I'm already planning the next vacation. But now, more than before, I really need to have something to get excited about. So last weekends getaway, going to TN over the 4th, to MN mid-July... I need that.

So we made it through a few more milestones without Maelee... I'll post more about our sweet weekend getaway gift as soon as I get the motivation to upload those photos.

Thanks for the comments on our beautiful daughter. We're glad to share her with you. She was wonderfully made.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

What a Great Daddy.

Since Greg posted a photo with Maelee and me, I'm going to post one to honor him today, on Father's Day. Greg was a wonderful daddy while Maelee was in my belly: talking to her, playing her songs, feeding me good food, etc. I am humbled by the love he has for her and how he misses her. He will always be Maelee's daddy.

-Heather

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Happy Birthday Heather


In honor of Heather's birthday, we're posting a picture of mommy with Maelee. Heather turns 28 tomorrow (Friday). She would probably say she's aged more than she's wanted the past 72 days.

-Greg

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

It Happened.

I was very wary about this happening, hoping it wouldn't but it did. I didn't think I'd ever have to correct someone. I thought I wouldn't ever have to say the words. I figured hey, everyone that knew I was pregnant knows that Maelee died. I won't have to explain. I was wrong.

The post man came to the door today with our mail and packages. He said to me as I answered the door "Congratulations on your baby!"

I was in a moment of shock when I heard it. After a pause I was able to say, "Actually, our baby died."

Poor guy. I'm sure he felt horrible. He's a really nice guy. He's seen me very pregnant, now I'm obviously not. And he's probably seen all the many, oh way too many, parenting magazines and formula coupons and diaper samples sent to me. So he made the conclusion. Sadly the wrong conclusion.

He apologized. Said he was sorry a few times. Even asked how far along I was when she died.

I answered. I nodded. I closed the door. And lost it. I can replay the whole thing in my head over and over again. I just can't believe I have to say those words. I don't want to believe it.

I hope you never, ever have to say those words.

-Heather

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Boot Camp.

I went to a work-out boot camp today. I've never really been in shape... though I've had many valiant attempts including:

  1. Junior High track team. Yes, I, who can't run and absolutely hates running, was in track for a year. Purely because all the cool kids were and I was always one to jump on any bandwagon. I ran the 800. I puked every time I ran it in full.
  2. High School aerobics class with Mrs. Slagle: a total joke, I rarely broke a sweat even with Richard Simmons and his short shorts and abundant chest hair motivating us from the 26-inch screen in the middle of the gym.
  3. Williston High School girls golf team. There is no fitness in high school girls golf.
  4. Fitness for Life class in college where the only thing I learned was that I was out of shape and what DOMS are (delayed onset muscle soreness, thankyouverymuch).
  5. Wellness Center at UND. I went to an ab class. Once. Oh the pain!
  6. Curves our first year of marriage: I always felt really athletic and in-shape compared to all the old ladies who came to gossip...but I wasn't.
  7. Free gym at CIU. I would go for a few days every once in awhile and rock the elliptical machine but the motivation would wane and then I wouldn't see the place for months... then not wanting to go on campus once my job was cut and be the walking awkward.
  8. Pregnancy aerobics. I did a 20-minute workout most days starting in December. I did some yoga-type stuff as well to work on my flexibility thinking it would help me in labor. This is the most consistent I've ever been in making fitness a part of my daily living because I had the baby as motivation.
I am not an in-shape, loves to get up at 6am and run a few miles type of person. I don't like working out and sweating and feeling the burn. But since Maelee died and I'm still carrying around weight and no baby... I knew I needed to do something or it would just make me more depressed. And I'd really like to be able to fit in my pants! It's so depressing looking at the big stack of pants, capris and jeans and not be able to even squeeze into them.

And I am married to Mr. In-Shape who works out nearly every day. Greg runs a few miles and lifts weights and probably has negative body fat. I don't resent him one bit but I would like to be a wife that enjoys doing sporty-like activities with her husband. And I don't want to become the tall, skinny man and short, plump wife duo (though sometimes that's such a cute combo).

So today my dear friend, Heather (H1), and I went to get our baby weight off and get back in shape. Heather lost her beautiful twin girls, Emily and Molly, at full term last January. We've only been friends for a short time but we obviously have more than we'd like to in common... and she's been a great encouragement to me. It's nice to have someone else that's been in your shoes. And Heather and Marc don't have other kiddos (yet) and Heather doesn't have a job either... so alas, we can go work out in the middle of the afternoon. And I give her all the credit for forcing me to do this with her :)

It's going to be an expensive, tiring, painful, annoying, humbling 8-weeks of boot camp. (Okay, I made it sound like I was actually going to boot camp instead of two or three times a week for one hour). But hopefully that (along with at-home cardio) will help me become healthy and get back into the ideal/normal range of my BMI. At least I hope so... otherwise the fact that I can barely walk right now is all for nothing!

-Heather

Heat.

If you can't take the heat... get out of South Carolina.

There is a HEAT ADVISORY right now. Yes, it's dangerously hot. Like a heat index of 111 or something crazy like that. According to the National Weather Service:

"A HEAT ADVISORY MEANS THE COMBINATION OF HOT TEMPERATURES AND HIGH HUMIDITIES WILL CREATE A SITUATION IN WHICH HEAT ILLNESSES MAY OCCUR. DRINK PLENTY OF FLUIDS... STAY IN AN AIR-CONDITIONED ROOM... STAY OUT OF THE SUN... AND CHECK UP ON RELATIVES AND NEIGHBORS."

Basically, hole yourself up inside and say good-bye to any plans for green grass.

It's only the middle of June and the start-sweating-as-soon-as-you-step-out-the-door heat is already here. This is August weather folks!

I can't believe we moved to a city with the slogan "famously hot." Granted, North Dakota in January is completely miserable, too...proving the grass is not always greener on the other side.

I just hope the air conditioner doesn't go out. If it does, I guarantee that combined with the grief will cause a meltdown (no pun intended).

-Heather

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Ali and Lilli.

Last weekend in ND, I had my camera out to take photos of the girls and Lilli was NOT happy about it (see above). I think because she wanted to play with Ali uninterrupted, without Auntie Heather and her big camera. Ali, on the other hand, was just being a ham. I probably took 100 photos in five minutes of her funny faces.

We love our nieces dearly. Sometimes my heart aches as I think about how it's supposed to be Ali, Lilli and Maelee... the red-headed three musketeers. Obviously she would have been quite a bit younger and probably called "little dummy" but still, she would have just adored all her cousins.

Click on Ali's face below to link to an online Picasa album of more Ali and Lilli photos. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Big Belly.

I miss my big belly. I know that sounds weird especially considering all the negativity in the world about stretch marks, the pregnant waddle, not being able to see your feet, etc. But I miss being pregnant. Even with all the not-so-fun symptoms that went with it.

I miss looking down and getting excited for baby. I miss talking to Maelee, telling her about what was going on, sharing our feelings about her arrival, singing Jesus Loves Me. I miss our companionship. Our deep bond.

I miss my excitement when I'd feel her move... how it would cause me to grab Greg and make him see her moving, put his hand on my belly and feel her kicks with me. I miss taking video of my belly moving around and around as Maelee did some acrobatic moves.

I miss the way people would look at me, the comments they would make, the joy I was able to share with them. I miss being able to say "it's a girl" and we don't know what we are naming her yet.

I miss spilling stuff and staining all my pregnancy shirts. I miss the shock of thinking these pants look way too big but finding them fit. I miss finding good deals on pregnancy clothes that made my big belly look even cuter.

I miss the thrill of knowing we were about to embark on this crazy journey of parenthood. I miss having Greg take photos on the porch of my belly every week. I miss how Greg would look at me and my belly, with love and anticipation and dreams in his eyes.

I miss feeling so blessed, so amazed that I got to be a mom, so humbled at what was happening in my belly. I miss the feeling of impatience, of wondering when she would arrive, of having her on the outside.

I miss the smell of the lotion I put on my belly every day. I miss wondering if my belly button could get any weirder. I miss hugging people and having my belly get in the way.

I miss having my big belly, a symbol of life and promise. But I mostly miss knowing that my baby was alive and well.

-Heather

Week of Birthdays.

June 10 - Amber (my sister)
June 11 - John (our nephew, Matt and Jill's boy)
June 13 - Mary (Greg's mom)
June 15 - Andrew (brother-in-law, married Greg's sister Amy)
June 17 - Jill (sister-in-law, married Greg's brother Matt)
June 18 - Me
June 19 - Kelly (my sister's husband's sister; not in our immediate family but we'll claim her anyway:)

Happy Birthday Family!

If you have a birthday on the 12th, 14th or 16th, we have those dates open to join our family.

-Heather

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Maelee's Day Recap.

For those of you not able to join us for Maelee's Day, we want to give a summary of the service. Greg would be better at a summary, I'm too darn wordy, but here goes:

The Buffalo cemetery is beautiful. Picturesque farmland adjacent, the quaint town of Buffalo with its water tower off in the distance, big sturdy trees surrounding the wire fenced-in cemetery... but the best is the peonies planted near almost every other gravestone. We were there just as they started to bloom. Story has it that the cemetery was started by a family that lost their son in a train accident. They planted a peony next to his grave. Then as the cemetery grew, they kept transplanting those peonies. Every peony in the cemetery to this day comes from that original plant.

Greg's brother John who died from an accident at 21 months is buried right next to Maelee. He has a sweet pink peony next to his grave. You can see all the different peonies beginning to blossom in the background.

Buffalo was quite warm on the 29th. It felt more like South Carolina but without the humidity. I started sweating early on, before the service started. I went over with my sister to the shade of the trees nearby to cool off. As people started arriving, I wanted to greet them but when I stepped out into the sunny area, I just started sweating more. My sister wisely said I could just let the people come to me. Smart.

So instead of meeting around Maelee's gravestone, we met mostly in the shade nearby. It turned out to be a perfect spot.


Andrew, Greg's brother-in-law, took video of the service for our family that couldn't be there. A few days later I realized that people were probably wondering why the heck we took video of our daughter's memorial service... that's a little odd. We haven't even watched our wedding video!

There wasn't a sound system so we made sure to have a program ready with all the songs and Scriptures printed out. My brother-in-law, Jeff, passed out the program as people came. Greg designed it so sweetly, for Maelee.


Welcome and Prayer / Dale and Mary Kasowski

Grandpa K invited everyone to the community center after and opened us up with a sweet prayer. Grandma K welcomed everyone, thanking all who came for joining us in our house of mourning (Ecclesiastes 7:2-4).

2 Samuel 12:15-23 / Chris Kasowski

Leave it to Greg to find some obscure verse in the OT to use... but this Scripture is key to knowing Maelee is in heaven. As I understand it, David's son died shortly after birth. I won't put all these verses here but you should go and read them. The last verse states:
"But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”
David knew that he would someday go to his son (in heaven) and see him again. David, who wrote many of the psalms and was one "after God's own heart," knew his child was in heaven and he'd join him there someday.

How Great Thou Art / Josh Hoeckle

Greg was in a band named Crimson for 4+ years. The lead singer, Josh, is a dear friend and he led the two hymns we sang. It took a bit for everyone to get in sync but it was beautiful.
O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the works Thy hands have made.
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee:
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

When through the woods and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees;
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze:

And when I think that God, His Son not sparing,
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin:

When Christ shall come with shouts of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow in humble adoration,
And there proclaim, my God, how great Thou art!
[There was a train that came by here so we waited for it to pass before going on - ah sweet Buffalo and its trains.]

John 12:23-26 | Kernels of Wheat / Matt Kasowski

Jill, Matt's wife, sent me a few ideas for how we could make Maelee's Day more memorable and meaningful. I'm so glad that even though her and the kids couldn't be there, she was able to be a part of the service by giving us so many thoughtful ideas. She mentioned these verses:
"And Jesus answered them, 'The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.'"
Jill stated "You could point out that Maelee's life, by God's sovereignty, will produce fruit for his glory.... The seed of Maelee's life, and soul, is eternal and will bear fruit eternally." Matt talked about this and that the Lord has caused us to see our need for Him through Maelee's death. We passed around a bowl of wheat for those gathered to take a few kernels. My uncle Dale brought the wheat from his farm in northwest ND.

As Greg began to play, we passed a vase around for people to put in their wheat. We have a keepsake to look to now, when we need a reminder that Maelee's death will bear fruit.

Long / Greg Kasowski

Greg has written Maelee five songs now. What a great daddy! This one will bring tears...
The crib is open, there’s no stink
Everything's dolled up in pink
There's tons of diapers, the drawers are full
All was ready except your soul

An empty car seat and no high chair
A rounded box, a lock of hair
Frowning puppets, cast hands and feet
The nurse has said, “There’s no heartbeat.”

A lonely car ride, a sad, sad song
No Maelee here is just so wrong
Return the toys, take back the gifts
Punch the floor, pound your fists

Oh, how we long to have you here
From the newborn cries to the college years
Oh, how we long to see you smile
From the first two steps to escort down the aisle

It won’t be a long, long time till
we see you again, till we see you in heaven
1 Peter 1:3-9 / Amber Lippert
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls."

We cling to the promise in Christ during our very grievous trial of Maelee's death. My sister made it through reading this Scripture without breaking down. Good job, Am.

Maelee / Greg Kasowski
Maelee’s Name / Lloyd and Sherry Tysse


While Greg sang, we had my favorite part of the service. My mom and I the day before picked out 18 rocks from Great-Grandma K's yard. We wrote each letter of "Maelee Linn Kasowski" on the rocks to spell out her name. I then assigned each rock to someone special to us, to walk over to her gravestone and place the rock. Grandpa and Grammy T had the first rock, Maelee's "M," and one-by-one her name was spelled out.

Since we don't have her gravestone near us, to mark her life and death, we brought these rocks back to SC with us.

Greg ended up playing two of his songs during this part. Maelee (adorable) and Pink (lyrics are written on this post from 5/6/10).
Maelee

I know you heard me when you were in the womb
Cause when I’d come home, she said you’d move
I see you running wild like your blazing red hair
No worries in life, and too innocent to care

Maelee, my heart breaks when I think of
Maelee, I think you would’ve liked my
Singing, even though I sometimes sing off key

Take you on a drive then stop and let you run
But with your fair skin, you gotta stay out of the sun
We could eat some cereal, yeah, three big bowls
But you don’t like my kind, so we’ll stick with Cheerios

From the time you cry to the day you cleave
I would be there, I would never leave
We would’ve had some really fun times
Joking around while I break out my rhymes

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 / Amy Brown
"But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words."

Dear Amy read these verses that reminded us of the hope we have.

My Hope Is Built / Josh Hoeckle
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.
Closing Prayer and Benediction/ Matt Kasowski

Beautiful. "We'll have to wait to know Maelee. "

"May the Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father who loves you and by His grace gives you eternal encouragement and hope, comfort and strengthen your heart at every good deed and word. May the Lord of peace give you peace continually and in every circumstance. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and forever. Amen."

Goodbye / Alex Greene

I asked my cousin Alex to play this song a few days before Maelee's Day. He didn't know it but learned it for us and did a remarkable job. Greg and I walked over to Maelee's grave as he played and had some moments with just us that were precious.

The song is by Plankeye and you can listen to it via YouTube here.

Goodbye, goodbye
Walk away it's time to say goodbye

We then had a sort of "receiving line" next to Maelee's grave. We didn't even have a receiving line at our wedding, so I thought that was a bit amusing. But each hug, handshake, comment was received with love. I was especially grateful to Aunt Carrie for her sweet song she sang to us during her hug. We really do have wonderful family and friends in our lives.


Greg and I stayed there for awhile, soaking it all in, while everyone headed to the community center. Once there, Bill Crosby prayed for our meal and everyone ate (we did not have a lack of good food, that's for sure). We had a table with many of the special things we have of Maelees and have been given... I'll post those someday.

Thanks to all who joined us and for those who read my long summary! I'll never get to post about Maelee's birthday parties or graduations or wedding celebration so I appreciate getting to think on each detail of her memorial service.

-Heather

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Heaven.

On our flight to Columbia, I was in the window seat (best seat for a short, avoids-bathrooms-on-planes person). We were headed into some sweet clouds, ones below and above our plane. I saw a lady in front of us grab her point-and-shoot and I thought maybe I should grab my camera as well. What started out as just a few photos of some sweet clouds turned into 60+ photos of an amazing display of colors and clouds while the sun set. [See below for some sweet shots that I did not edit one bit.]

At one point during the small window of time we were able to witness this beauty, I turned to Greg and said "Maelee is in a way better place than that." It's true. Nothing on earth can compare to the beauty and wonder that is heaven. And we can't even imagine...

Many people picture heaven as some fluffy place in the clouds with everyone standing around in white robes. I think that's a false perception (brought on by too many Family Circus comics). I often think of heaven when I see clouds but I have completely readjusted my idea of clouds being all that heaven is.

[Warning - I may offend you here] Another misconception prevalent today is that when babies (or people in general) die, they become angels. There is no biblical basis for that. I do not get peace out of thinking that Maelee has wings and is floating around me. She is in heaven, her soul, her being is there. She's completely whole. She's doing whatever people in heaven do (including worshiping Jesus and bringing glory to their Creator... but not being bored with singing hymns all day). Angels are created, finite beings, some are messengers or warriors but they are not humans who have died.

Sorry if I offended you, especially if you have had a loved one die and get peace from thinking they are your angel... but I even asked our counselor (first session this morning) about it and she confirmed that indeed, it is not biblical to think people become angels upon death. I was hoping Matt Chandler or John Piper or someone would have a sermon about angels to share here but I couldn't find one.

I know Maelee is in heaven. She's not an angel and that's okay. I cannot begin to fathom all that heaven is (and I only read one chapter in Alcorn's book "Heaven" so I can't even state his thoughts here) but I believe heaven exists. I cling to this even in my darkest moments of doubt, those times when understanding fails me, a void fills me and my practical mind can't explain it away.

"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." C.S. Lewis






-Heather

Monday, June 7, 2010

Back in SC.

We made it back to SC last night. I have no idea how we are going to get into some sort of daily routine but I suppose it will happen. Right now it's 12:44 and I am still in my PJ's. I did pay a hospital bill and update Maelee's name book, so at least I have done something productive.

We'll have many posts this week including a summary of Maelee's service (which was beautiful). I'm a little overwhelmed at all the photos I want to post of...

Maelee's Day service
Greg and men of the family digging the hole
Our family planting Maelee's Tree in Great G&G Kasowski's yard
Greg and I saying good-bye to Maelee's grave on Saturday
Brother John's peony (bloomed right next to his grave)
Our nieces, Ali and Lilli, becoming fast friends

So I guess I'll just post one of each of these for now, with more to come later. Thanks so much for caring about us and about Maelee.






Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Blessing of Family and Friends.


Thanks to all who joined us for Maelee's Day on Saturday. It was a beautiful day here in Buffalo. We were exhausted at the end of the day but loved seeing so many family members and good friends. Everyone together. It was great. And hard... oh how we would have loved to be introducing our daughter to our family instead of showing them her gravestone.

My skills at small talk were pretty pathetic that day. I remember once sitting with my friend Mary and completely zoning out. But the great thing about good friends and family is that we don't have to explain, we can just be us, be our grieving selves, bring our elephant into the room.

The service was so wonderful, so sweet for our daughter. We'll post more about it later when we get back to SC and our high speed internet... and we'll post more great photos taken by Kimberly and my cousin Aric (thanks to you both).

-Heather