Saturday, December 31, 2005


December 31st?!?!?! Sheesh, where have I been? I almost couldn't remember my password to login to this thing. Pretty sad. Is it possible I missed a whole month somehow? Where did I put it? It's not under the bed. Maybe it's in the back room with all of the junk we threw in there to make room for the Christmas decorations.

Now that I think about it, I seem to have misplaced 2005. Where did it go? Let's see if I can jog my memory to answer my own question.

This year, I've been...
Changing diapers.
Missing sleep.
Folding laundry
Five feet deep.

Washing dishes.
Paying bills.
Brushing up my
money juggling skills.

At work:
Phoning, faxing, emailing, then
At home:
Phoning, faxing and emailing again.

But in the midst of it all...the stuff that really matters.

Savoring smiles.
Tickling toes.

Singing along with
Baby videos.

Pushing swings.
Reading books.
Trying to capture
each of his looks.

Feeling and knowing
and having a ball.

Crying and laughing
and loving it all.

I enter 2006 with two beautiful guys by my side and an amazing little girl watching from above.
Happy New Year family.

Sunday, November 27, 2005


NOTE: I just found this post that I had written on Thanksgiving weekend and for some reason, only saved as a draft. After reading it now, almost a month later, I'm convinced I was meant to revisit it and be taken by surprise. And I was.

So here I am, late on a Sunday night at the end of a wonderful weekend of Thanksgiving. As usual, the holiday reminds me again that giving thanks should be done on a perennial basis. Especially after the fullness of this short year. I never got around to posting about October, but then there really aren't enough words to express what it was like to lay the groundwork for the future of the Fund, brick by brick. And I can't possibly paint an accurate picture of my heart as a mother watching her son mark his first year. What I can say is that I am thankful...for each and every experience in my life. The sum of these parts is where I am today, exactly where I am supposed to be.

Listening to the radio this morning, I heard an angry man, asking the question I've heard asked countless times before. There have been books written about it. We've all asked it ourselves at one time or another. "Why do bad things happen?" But this man was so unwilling to hear any answer. His anger stood in the way of really being able to explore the question. And as he busied himself with arguing and continuous questioning, I realized that maybe he didn't really want an answer. He just wanted someone to listen. He didn't want to still be feeling the pain of whatever had caused him to ask this question in the first place.

I can certainly understand not liking the feeling of pain. Who does? But where, or more importantly, WHO would we be without it? Take away the heartache and tragedy you have experienced in your life, but don't forget to take the lessons learned, the growth achieved, the inspirations that came with that hurt. It's a fine balance, but that's how it works, all or nothing.

Jon and I have said it to each other many times before. What wouldn't we give to have Elena back? To see her turning 3 years old, chasing butterflies, running into the house with skinned knees. But to have her here would be to have never known Isaiah, to have never discovered all those other precious families in the shadows, to have never learned all that she taught me in her special way. I'm thankful that God is in control, I just couldn't bear to make decisions like that.

Yes, I'm thankful. I can't imagine being anything else.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


To bring forth life and watch it pass away,
To see hope spread wide from one so small,
To learn the many sizes and shapes of love,
This is the blessing of being chosen.

To be held up when all strength is gone,
To have stillness amidst the noise,
To understand the joys of sorrow,
This is the blessing of being chosen.

To hold new life and watch it grow,

To see a dream fulfilled each new day,
To love beyond all that is known,
This is the blessing of being chosen.

To be part of the great but love the simple,
To reach outside and be touched within,
To look for the giver before the gift,
This is the blessing of being chosen.
Happy Birthday, baby boy. You and your sister fill me up to overflowing. I'm so thankful I've been chosen.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Godspeed, Little Man

Here we are, in the midst of all the preparations for October 15th. This is such a huge day for The Shining Light Fund, as we join with others in the community to outwardly show support for families and honor their babies. We've been crazy with preparations (hence my blog absence)...advertising, setting the program, phone calls, you name it. And then last night I hear the news about another dumpster baby, a little baby boy left in a little white box to die. And he did.

It's really not uncommon to hear about babies literally being thrown away in Los Angeles. In fact I think the term "dumpster baby" was coined here, though those two words were never meant to go together. But we're hearing an awful lot about this baby because authorities actually found his mother - Holly Ashcraft, a student at USC. She had hidden her pregnancy from everyone. And she thought she could hide the baby, too. But an anonymous homeless man collecting cans found the baby, called the police, and started a series of events that led to Holly's arrest and charge with murder.

There's so much to take in from this story. My heart breaks for this baby boy who struggled to live, giving up his last breath inside that box. I am enraged by Holly's actions and her complete disregard for life - not even a foreign life, a life that came from within herself. And I feel an almost eager anticipation at seeing what will come from this. How will the public react to a woman being charged with murder in this circumstance?

It's so hard for me to reconcile that this woman could have gone in for an abortion just weeks ago, and everything would be fine. But because she killed her baby by leaving him to die now, she's a murderer. Can these two things really exist simultaneously in one "civilized" society? Apparently so.

I just want people to decide. Make up your mind. If you really believe that a fetus is not a baby, what is it? And when does it become a baby? And if it's a baby, is it a person? And if it's a person, how do you put a value on his life? And how can you guarantee me that you have all the right answers to these questions?

I'm so tired of people talking out of both sides of their mouth and making the rules about life according to convenience. That's not the way it is. The sky is blue. Life is life. You can't change that.

I must add that I am not a completely heartless person. I've thought a lot about what Holly must have felt during her pregnancy. I don't know her at all, but from what's been reported on the news, she was suspended from USC for academic problems and she kept the baby a secret. I would guess that she was acting on 100% fear. Her parents wouldn't understand, a baby would complicate her education and career goals, she was in a really frightening place. But to say that what she did was justified by her circumstances is to say that her life was more valuable than her baby's, and I'm in no position to make that call.

For now I rest in the knowledge that Baby Ashcraft is safe in the most loving place and in the most loving hands imaginable. His life means something. If not to his mother or anyone else, at least to me. I know he was created for a purpose and I may never know what that is. But I don't have to.

Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Singin' in the Rain

Most people get depressed when it rains, especially in SoCal. But I have to say that when I woke to showers this morning, complete with thunder and lightning, I couldn't have been more pleased. Each of the four seasons has its own beauty to offer, but autumn just brings me the most joy. The air cools down, the house warms up and things seem a bit more peaceful.

I can remember being a kid and itching for summer vacation. It was hot everyday and I would spend weeks at a time at my grandparents' house, swimming in their backyard pool. And with no homework and no place to be, summer seemed to last forever. But, appropriately enough, as the seasons of my life have changed, I've grown to love the passing of summer into fall. It's definitely not the rain I love (just ask anyone else with naturally curly hair). It's more of a cozy, curling up in your favorite chair kind of feeling.

Summer is sunny yellows, ocean splashes and plump fruit juicy-ness. Winter is icy blues and frosty smiles. Spring is fresh greens, new growth and rebirth. To me, fall is the start of it all...warm reds and crunchy browns, being welcomed inside to spicy aromas, friendly tricks and back-to-school treats. After seeking adventure and excitement in the summer sun, fall lets you get back to your roots.

Jon and I got married on the first day of fall, September 22nd, 2000. Perhaps that's why I experience fall as a beginning and not an end. Two days from now will mark the 5th anniversary of the day we began this amazing journey together. The foundations of our love go back much further, but that first autumn day marks the beginning of our true union and commitment to family and future.

This year I find myself giddy with thoughts of taking Isaiah to the pumpkin patch and watching him (inevitably toddling) around the Thanksgiving table. We'll celebrate his first birthday this fall and marvel at the amazing grace and goodness that created him and chose us to be his parents.

Snuggle up, everybody. It's just around the corner.

Thanks for listening.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Hope Floats

It may look as though I've been ignoring Hurricane Katrina and its devastation. I haven't written about it, and I really haven't talked much about it either. Mainly I think I'm still processing my feelings. It's impossible to ignore something this huge. It's impossible not to stop and think "What if that were me?" "What if I were separated from my husband?" "What if it was my child that died?" That's a lot to take in. My words of sympathy and concern really can't compare to the images of destruction that we've all seen over the past two weeks. But for what it's worth, I do care, I am saddened and I pray for the thousands of people who will start their lives all over again.

And then tonight, my family and I settled in to watch the inevitable celebrity benefit concert. I'm thankful that they do their part (as they should) and I know they will raise some much needed funding to help those in need. But as I watched, I couldn't help questioning the message. Something just didn't match up. I wondered how am I supposed to explain this type of thing to my son as he gets older?

"You see, Isaiah, it's not okay to have the name of God engraved on any public buildings. It's against the law to talk to Him when you're in school. You really don't have any right to talk openly about your belief in God because somehow just the mere mention of that belief infringes on the rights of others to not believe. In fact, it's best if you just cut God out of every aspect of your life completely. Until, of course, something bad happens. When there's tragedy or disaster, that's when you should call on God and expect Him to be there. Even after you've ignored Him and cursed His name every step of the way, you should expect His prompt attention to your need."

I can't count the number of times I've heard people say that they don't go to church and they can't stand Christianity because of the hypocrisy. But who's the real hypocrite here? If we treated anyone else in our lives with the disdain and anger that we point at God, we wouldn't dare expect them to turn around and help us. Why is it different with God?

What I want my son to know about God is what the bible teaches. He is love. He is forgiveness. There is nothing that can ever separate us from Him except our own choice. He wants what's best for us and He's willing to give it as long as we're willing to let go of what we think is best for ourselves. It's really quite simple.

In the midst of all the news reports about how slowly our country responded to the victims of the hurricane, there are plenty of unreported stories about neighbors helping neighbors and people sacrificing of themselves to help their fellow man. These are the stories of hope. These are examples of people who recognize grace in their lives. These are the stories that exemplify God's love by sharing it. And because hope, grace and love are things that, by nature, point to God, these are the stories you'll never hear.

Thankfully, I don't have to teach my child according to the media. Because I know God through a personal relationship, I can tell my son about all that He's done in my life. I can say with confidence that He was there in New Orleans when the hurricane hit, and He's still there now. Those who know Him know that faith and hope cannot be drowned, even in the tallest of hurricane waters. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Thanks for listening.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Life on a Stick

When I was little my mom used to take me to the pier pretty often. Not that we lived close to the beach, just close enough that the pier was one of those "What do you want to do today?" destinations. We'd walk all the way from one end to the other, stopping along the way to look at every trinket in the window. If I looked over the edge, I could see tiny surfers like dots in the water. It felt pretty close to magic to be walking right above where the waves were crashing.

Saturday afternoon I took my first trip to the pier as a parent, with my son. As Jon and I walked along pushing Isaiah in his stroller, I felt like everything had shrunk, like there wasn't much here to see. Cheese on a stick was just about the most magical thing I could find. That is, until I looked at Isaiah's face. His eyes were wide around as he tried to take in every image. I paused to think about what this must be like for him, all the colors, the voices, the music and the aroma of tasty treats. Suddenly, the magic was back.

I know why God said we should "become like little children" (Matthew 18:3). Kids are impressed by the smallest of things. They pay attention to details. They're not cynical, like adults. Children immediately recognize the beauty that is everywhere. Just sticking your tongue out to feel the wind is enough to spark wonder and amazement. The colors on the spinning kites create an entire rainbow fantasy world. Everything's bigger than life because everything's bigger than you, and it's exciting.

It's really easy to lose that excitement when you're stuck on the freeway or waiting in line at the market or on hold with customer service. But I bet if you just take a look around, wherever you are, in a quick second you can find something that will lift you out of the mundane. Like a spider on the ceiling or shivering leaves on a tree. And if you just can't escape that jaded trap, go buy yourself an ice cream cone. Make it two scoops, two different flavors. Say yes to whipped cream and a cherry. Let it drip just a little down your thumb. Forget the napkin, wipe your face with your hand. Savor every drop.

When you take that last crunchy bite, I dare you not so smile.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Balance, Part II

Funny how God always knows when you need to hear from Him. While I've been struggling to figure out how to juggle my responsibilities at home, at work and with The Shining Light Fund, He's been preparing to speak to me and show me that He's there, He's listening and He's waiting for me to release it all.

Yesterday we spent the day at the original First Born Chapel, the place where the spiritual heritage of my husband's family was born. Jon comes from a family of ministers and it all began with Granpa Fillon at a small white church in Torrance. When the congregation outgrew that building, they moved to the church in Lomita that we attend today, where I met Jon and where we were married.

I found myself listening to stories about the old church with a huge smile on my face. It was a joy to watch everyone experiencing the warmth of remembrance. It also brought back to mind the vivid memories that I have of my own grandmother, ever on her knees in prayer on behalf of her family. This is the foundation upon which I was raised and I can now pass on to my son.

Then this morning, as we entered our church for morning service, I was handed a bulletin, just as I am every week. Sometimes I read it all the way through, other times I look just for the scripture reference for that week. Today I opened it up to read the following:

Anxious soul, God is saying to you today, "Be still and know that I am God." And there's a reason He's saying it. Your activity, when born out of anxiety, actually prevents Him from showing Himself strong on your behalf. That doesn't mean you're to be passive or lazy; it just means you're to do whatever He leads you to do without running ahead of Him in the energy of the flesh. It also means you're to submit to Him first, then slow down and wait. In other words, make sure you have a sense of peace to go along with the ideas He's given you. Ask Him to reveal to you His will in the matter, then "be still" and acknowledge that He's God, He's in charge, He knows what He's doing. Learn to trust Him without always demanding to know what He's going to do, when He's going to do it and how He's going to carry it out.

Until you really embrace that God is the vine and you are a branch, you'll keep trying to do things that only God can do - like blessing yourself, promoting your own ministry, solving your own problems and answering your own prayers. Or worse, you'll try to cover up for Him because you think He's not doing it fast enough or in the way it should be done. Give it up! Try less and trust more. Jesus said, "I am the vine and you are the branches." All you have to do is stay connected.

It's not up to me to be the glue that holds all the pieces together. I just need to play my role. And when bad things happen, which they will, it's not the end of everything. If I fall or if I fail, I have only to stand up again and take the next step with some added wisdom. And that's not so bad. That just makes me a person, and if I'm not mistaken, that's exactly what I was meant to be.

Thanks for listening.

Friday, August 19, 2005


I'm having a hard time finding it lately. Sorta relates back to my post about time. Too much to do and no matter how much I work, I feel like nothing gets done. It feels yucky and sad and while everyone else thinks I'm doing a fantastic job, the thing that really matters is what I think. And that's not so fantastic.

Right around here would be the place where I start the uplifting and enlightening part of the program. That program has been interrupted for the moment. Nothing major, just feeling blah. I need some focused prayer time and I need to learn to encourage myself. Don't get me wrong, I love encouragement from outside sources as much as you do, but it doesn't mean anything if I don't believe it myself.

The house is quiet. Time for bed. Time to reconnect.

Thanks for listening.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Do Me a Favor

I was in the market with Isaiah the other day, checking out the Level 3 Gerber foods (yes, he's chewing already) when I experienced what seems to be a common occurence in many supermarkets. It's happened to me countless times before and, Lord knows, it will happen to me many more times in the future. But I still can't figure it out.

My husband will laugh when reading this because he knows it has been my biggest pet peeve for many, many years. I even remember hating going to the market with my mom when I was a kid, and I think it could be directly related. It's not like the shopping carts require super-human strength to push. And it's not like touching the edges of the store shelves will cause electric shock. So why, I ask, is it so difficult for people to pull their carts over to the right when they are:
1) browsing through items on the shelf?
2) having a casual conversation with a friend they just ran into?
3) drooling on their shirt while staring into space?

I relate grocery shopping to driving. There is a reason why we have road regulations that keep us driving on the right side. Hard as it may be to believe, there are OTHER PEOPLE on the road and I'm guessing that those people need to get somewhere, just like you do. Not to mention that it prevents head on collisions from occuring all the live-long day. You don't get to just weave all over the road, stopping in the middle for no reason. The same should be true in the grocery store.

The best part is that when faced with this situation, after saying excuse me and smiling doesn't work, I may elect to move the other person's cart just enough for me to squeeze by. And it never fails, they look at me like I am the piece of 10 day old gum they found on the bottom of their shoe. Shame on me for wanting to actually want to complete my own shopping.

I realize this may seem petty. But life is short and I really don't want to spend most of it trapped behind your cart while you choose between your two favorite brands of long-grain rice.

It just hit me that we need milk. I think I'll head to the drive-thru dairy.

Thanks for listening.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


Two days ago, I picked up the phone and heard the grief-stricken voice of someone very close to me say, "Carrie, I'm losing my baby." Suddenly everything around me grew dim and I fell to my knees in tears. After hearing those words, it's really hard to hear anything else. We talked for some time, holding each other through phone lines and wondering how we had arrived at this place. At that moment, it was not certain yet, there were still blood tests to be done the following day. As of yesterday, the news was not good.

I've heard from literally thousands of women, all over the world, in very similar situations. Routine ultrasound, baby is measuring small, no heartbeat. They experience temporary physical pain and, most times, lifelong emotional scars. After hearing this story so many times, one would think I'd get used to it, but it never gets any easier to hear.

It is especially difficult in this case because the Mom is one of my dearest friends and, after I married Jon, she became my cousin. She is the avenue that led me to my home church where I met my husband and dedicated my son. When Elena died, she crocheted two tiny blankets for her - one that I keep at home with all of Elena's things and the other that was laid over her tiny body when she was buried. And she has since become a valuable part of The Shining Light Fund, entering all of the orders that we receive for mother's bracelets. She has always been a compassionate soul, an encourager.

Now, she needs my encouragement. Even though I have gone through a loss myself, it's still hard to know what to do or say. I mean, I know all the things NOT to say. My mind is moving so fast and I just blurt out all the things that come into my head..."Can I go with you to the doctor?" "Do you want me to come over?" "Call me anytime." These are really all just excess words to say, "I'm helpless." "I'm sorry." "I love you."

I know that everyone will be okay. But today, I'm sad. And that's okay, too.

Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


Most people think that love just happens. Quick and easy, like in the movies. "Oops, we're in love!" But really, love takes work. Not the kind of work that is tiresome and tedious. It's the kind of work that's fulfilling and builds your confidence. Those same people think that the work is done to change or adjust something about the other person, but it should be work that you do to yourself. The way I see it, you're constantly learning and this learning is applied to your relationship to make you better equipped as a true friend and partner.

I have to say that yes, I know all of this from my own experience. I'm fortunate enough to have a partership with my husband that is based on a foundation of faith and love. I never expected to find this. My extended family has its fair share of divorce and separation so maybe I thought it couldn't happen. But it did. I find myself connected, physically, emotionally and spiritually, to a wonderful man who is still my best friend, who still makes me laugh until the tears come and who works equally as hard as I do toward our marriage. It's not just acceptance of who I am - he truly appreciates and encourages who I am, the whole package. From what I've seen, that's pretty rare and I thank God everyday for allowing me to know this kind of love.

Happy Birthday, Jon. You are my treasure.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Something Out of Nothing

We've all been there. You're in line somewhere at a store or something and you happen to be right behind the person who feels the need to cause a scene. And it only happens when you're in a hurry to get someplace. So you wait, like a good little consumer, and you look off to the left and right, pretending not to notice what's going on. The scene gets longer and louder and you're left wondering, "Is it really worth all this commotion?"

I'm in line at a drive-thru today and the woman in front of me is placing her order at the speaker. She ordered one Chicago Dog with just onions and peppers and another Chicago Dog with chili. Sounded pretty normal. Here's where it started to get interesting:

Woman in green minivan: "I have a coupon."
Employee at window: "What is the coupon for?"
Woman in green minivan: "It says I get a free order of french fries with any Chili Dog."
Employee at window: "So you want two Chicago Dogs and one Chili Dog?"
Woman in green minivan: "No, I only want two hotdogs."
Employee at window: "So you want one Chicago Dog and one Chili Dog?"
Woman in green minivan (clearly irritated): "No, I said I want one Chicago Dog with onions and peppers and one Chicago Dog with chili."
Employee at window (pretty confused): "But your coupon is for a Chili Dog, so do you want a Chili Dog?"

The plot thickens.

Woman in green minivan (just plain mad): "I ordered a Chicago Dog with chili on it, so that makes it a chili dog."
Employee at window: "Ma'am, a Chicago Dog is different from a Chili dog. You ordered a Chicago Dog, but your coupon is for a Chili Dog. Would you like me to add a Chili Dog to your order so you can use the coupon?"
Woman in green minivan: "NO! I ONLY WANT TWO HOTDOGS! I want one of the Chicago Dogs with chili on it, so that's a Chili Dog."

At this point I'm thinking, we could be here 'til dinner time. And then I'm thinking, does this woman even understand what she's saying? I mean, if her Chicago Dog/Chili Dog concept worked in other aspects of life, we could all go out and manipulate anything that we don't want into something else that we do. Sort of like The Matrix...what you're seeing in front of you isn't what it appears to be at all. What sense does that make? If it walks like a Chili Dog and talks like a Chili Dog...

Sometimes it just fascinates me that people have the energy to create unnecessary chaos. I don't know about you, but my life throws me enough curveballs that I don't need to add to the excitement. Especially over a coupon that's gonna save me less than a buck. It goes back to my thought about contentment. But I think some people don't want to be content. They thrive on the drama. Maybe it breaks up the monotony. I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

I'm not sure what finally ended up in the woman's bag when her green minivan sped off, but I'm pretty sure after all that ruckus, whatever it was didn't taste very good.

Thanks for listening.


One year ago today, it seemed like any other day. I was about 20 weeks along in my pregnancy with Isaiah, feeling pretty good and looking forward to seeing the doctor (moreso, the ultrasound) for a checkup. Things had been going well so far and I was anxious to get another look at the little one that was jumping around inside me. But this would be no normal checkup. By 7:00pm, I was laying in the freezing surgery prep room at the hospital, Jon holding my hand, both of us praying that this baby would be ok. Please, God, keep this baby safe.

That was the first day I really felt that we might lose this baby, too. I remembered all of the e-mails I've received from women who have lost two, three, four or more babies. I didn't want to think that that could be me. I didn't want to live that pain all over again. Please, God, keep this baby safe.

The surgery went fine, no problems. I spent the next three months laying on my back, feet up on two big pillows, fighting against gravity. Anything we could do to keep this baby inside was fine by me. I was literally nesting, giving the baby a chance to grow. Please, God, keep this baby safe.

After surgery, months of bedrest, a few scary trips to the hospital, delivery 8 weeks early and a month spent in NICU, we had Isaiah at home. He was small but very strong. He had made it, our little astronaut. Thank you, God, for this amazing gift.
Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Joy from the Sorrow

If you are looking for evidence of a miracle on this earth, point your gaze toward Arlington, Virginia. There, little Susan Anne Catherine Torres was born yesterday weighing 1 pound 13 ounces. Her mother, Susan Torres, suffers from cancer. She has had no brain function and has been on life support since May. Yet, her weak and fragile body allowed her baby daughter to grow and develop for three months. And while the family grieves because the elder Susan probably won't live very much longer, they also rejoice because Baby Susan is doing well and will hopefully live a long and full life. Beauty from ashes. Life from no life.

My heart was most touched by Baby Susan's father Jason, who quit his job to stay near his wife and baby and slept in a recliner chair in their hospital room. It's my guess that Jason knows, as many of us do, that his parenting began far before his baby girl was born. And where else could he be...this is his family. How bittersweet to be there to share in the first precious moments of his daughter's life and the last precious moments of his wife's.

If you can find a quiet moment in your day today, say a prayer for the Torres family. I know I will.

Thanks for listening.

Monday, August 01, 2005


On this day, three years ago, she came. So unexpectedly, she came. There was little time to prepare. We waited and we cried. And we prayed that maybe she wouldn't come because we knew she'd have to leave very quickly. We never expected her to come so soon. But she did.

After she came, everything was different. Sometimes the days seemed longer. Most times it felt like something was missing. But in the emptiness she had left us a small light. It shone for us and guided us through each day. We never expected that she would share her light with others. But she did.

Now, three years later, everything is different. The days go by so fast. Most times life feels so full because her light has filled us up to overflowing. Others, from far away, have seen her light and they pass it on to still others. The light grows and gets brighter. And even though she's not here, she sees it from where she is and she smiles. We never expected her to touch so many lives. To bring hope to so many hearts. But she did.

Happy Birthday Elena, my baby girl. And thank you for who you were, for who you are, for who you'll always be. You forever have my love, admiration and gratitude.


Monday, July 25, 2005

Holding on to History

We took a walking tour of our city yesterday, Historic Downtown Torrance. It was hosted by the Historical Society and offered some very interesting little known facts about the place where my husband and I were both born and raised. We started off by browsing through the museum, which houses plenty of black and white photos of the open area where we now live. There are also many nostalgic artifacts, like the old high school band uniforms and some of the original railroad spikes.

It wasn't until later in the evening when it struck me how common it is for our cities and towns to hang onto historical items. Most cities do have some type of historical society or preservation group. It seems that many people, including myself, really value being able to look back at what life was like and see where we've come from. They feel it is important to have a physical tie to a past time and place.

I think that what we're doing with The Shining Light Fund is very similar to this concept. We are offering people a chance to have something that represents a member of the family and their place in history. It's not representing a place but rather, a life. How strange that there are so many who don't value the origin of that life as much as they value the origin of their hometown.

Much like each original high school, church and town hall have a strong impact on the development of a city, each life, long or short, helps shape and mold the lives of their loved ones and our world is changed because of it.

Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Missing Out

Last evening, as the sun went down, I was pushing Isaiah in his new tree swing, which he can't get enough of these days. I laughed out loud as he laughed out loud, and I thought to myself, these are the things that matter. These are the times we'll both remember. This is the foundation of our relationship.

And then I thought about Elena. These are the things she and I don't have the opportunity to share. I often imagine how she would interact with her brother. I long to see her watching over him as he sleeps or chasing him around the house in his walker or helping mommy push him in the stroller. I know that she would love her little brother and he would adore his big sister.

Losing a child is not just a loss of life - it's also a loss of moments, even the small and simple ones. And it's not just missing your baby as an infant. It's missing your toddler, your school-aged child, your high-schooler, your child as an adult and a parent. From my own experience and the experiences that many have shared with me, that's what's most hurtful when people don't acknowledge the life and existence of your child. People think that you can "get over" missing out on the diapering and bathing, but really there's a person missing from your family. That feeling doesn't go away.

As much as Elena has taught me about loss and compassion, Isaiah constantly teaches me about fullness of life. I can see the miracle in him every single day and it's exciting to watch the miracle unfold before me. I miss Elena, but in a strange way I feel fortunate to have experienced life and loss as a parent. Knowing the pain as well as the joy gives me a stronger sense of who I am as a mother and an immeasurable gratitude for the chance to really know a love that is beyond human understanding.

Thanks for listening.

Saturday, July 16, 2005


Jon rearranged the whole living room today. Moved the furniture, ran wires under the house, the whole enchilada. I started out the morning feeling annoyed that we would have a mess of a house all weekend, but by the end of the day, I was totally in love with our new living room. It's both stylish and more functional than any other configuration we've had in 5 years...and it's all our own old stuff.

Relaxing in the living room this evening, I began to think about how easy it is to become discontented. With our cars, our jobs, our relationships...anything. We get into a routine and suddenly everything seems so drab. I think that's why a lot of people find themselves fighting addictions of all kinds - there's a constant need for something new and exciting, and a fear of getting bored. But sometimes, if you just shift your perspective a bit, you can begin to be more thankful for what you already have.

There are days when I feel so overwhelmed with all the work that needs to be done for the Fund. Between fundraising, supervising the volunteer program, processing requests, it can be a lot to handle. But in the midst of it all, I'll get an e-mail from a mom whose world has just come crashing down around her after losing her child. Suddenly everything else seems so small.

Thanks for listening.

Thursday, July 14, 2005


I have this whole list of things I would do if I had more of it. But it seems all I do is look at that list and wonder where it all went. Everybody seems to need a moment of it (usually more). Occasionally, when I find a couple free minutes of it, I'll see something on TV about a great new product that can save me lots of it. But isn't my potential savings all used up on the minutes that I sat and watched that dumb commercial?

Other people seem to have lots of it, so much that they can't find enough things to fill it up. So did my share get mistakenly handed out to them? Sometimes I wish you could buy it, like adding minutes to your phone. Pay-as-you-go. But I wouldn't be able to afford enough of it, so that's really no help either.

And then I realize that even if I did have more of it, it would never be enough. Something new and unexpected always pops up and takes it, and then I'm back to where I started. So I've come to accept that whatever we're given is just the right amount.

Now, where did I put that list...

For Hannah

Several days ago, I received a request on behalf of a mom who was due to deliver her baby this month. This woman, her husband and family had known for some time that their child had anencephaly and would not survive long after birth. Yesterday, I received the update that baby Hannah was born at 10:05am and was still alive, though struggling to breath, at 3:00pm. The update said that Hannah's parents and grandparents from both sides were there, spending their last precious hours with her.

Right after reading this message, I found myself looking at the clock and picturing in my minds eye this family lovingly surrounding their beautiful baby girl. It took me right back to the day that I found myself in the position of Hannah's mother, holding my own little girl and trying to stretch every minute into an hour. We knew that when the sun rose on another day, Elena would be gone and there wouldn't be another opportunity to spend time with our daughter.

Throughout the day I was busy. I had brought some bookkeeping work home with me and Isaiah was feisty as ever (he doesn't seem to want to nap much these days). But I kept thinking about Hannah. She won't ever crawl, walk or run. She won't get to taste a pickle, chase a butterfly, make a Christmas card to hang on the fridge. There won't be photos with a blue backdrop from each passing schoolyear. But she was here, she touched hearts, she changed lives.

God bless you, little Hannah.

Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

I've been meaning to... this for quite some time. It seems that I frequently hear a story or read something that really pokes at me in some way. I can be reading an article online, listening to the news (I say listening because I'm usually answering e-mails with the TV on) or just talking to a friend and some piece of information will hit me and challenge me to think, maybe even change my perspective. Most of the time it will relate somehow to all that we have going on with The Shining Light Fund. I've been slowly realizing over the past few months that it could be good for me to process through these thoughts.

God has led me to this really interesting place in my life. Every day, I receive at least one e-mail message from a mom or a dad who has lost baby. It's sometimes overwhelming to be on the receiving end of all that sadness and pain. But at the same time, I've been chosen (I know it was not random) to be a part of something that just might ease a little of that pain, and that gives me unbelievable joy. I believe that feeling tremendous sadness and joy at the same time is a very special part of the human experience. I never want to take my role in that experience lightly.

I'm anticipating this will be my sounding board. I may SHOUT about something that angers me or just pose all kinds of rhetorical questions when I'm confused. And of course, I'll share all the good news - despite what you read and hear everyday, I know there is always good news. So this will be a way to document my journey on this amazing road.

Remember, these are just my thoughts, my opinions. I don't claim to be an expert at anything. If you do choose to come along for the ride, these thoughts are just meant to spark new thoughts in you, and maybe even help in some way. The most important thing is that we keep reaching out to each other, keep passing the light that we have inside.

Thanks for listening.