Monday, October 27, 2008

Bake Sale

We have a location for our bake sale!! It will be in Westhaven neighborhood in Franklin on election day, Tuesday November 4th. We will be there from 10-2 and possibly at 5:00 again if we still have goodies. Holly and I had fun shopping in Michaels for some fun boxes and baggies for goodies (and we might have left with some candy corn and birthday candles that weren't necessarily on the list). Holly has been slightly fixated on her birthday, which is still several months away, and we have daily conversations on what the theme will be and what we will eat, etc. So, the birthday candles were for her birthday cake that I won't be making until, oh, February. And come to think of it, I think we also have princess plates that we bought in August, also for her birthday.

We have been having a nice few weeks with lots of visitors. Our friends Margaret and Matthew and Sarah came in for a visit from Atlanta; cousin Will was here, then Deacon; then this last weekend all my family came in town to celebrate my Dad's sixtieth birthday. As Sam put it, we are all thankful for sixty years of Billy Taaffe. I think Joseph inherited my Dad's passion for life and love of people, two things that made Joseph so special. We love you, Daddo!

We have been doing okay...this month last year is etched in my memory because it was the month before everything starting falling apart. I can still remember taking the kids to a pumpkin farm with the Slotkins, our playgroup Halloween party, the nursing home to trick or treat, and just enjoying the fall weather. We have some great pictures and great memories, but it makes this season bittersweet. I guess this is the first "holiday" we will have without him, the first of several in the next few months.

The first time we took Joseph trick-or-treating (he had just turned 2), we started out walking through a neighborhood in a little parade with lots of other children and parents. When the parade finished he thought that was it. But when we starting going up to doors and getting candy, his face had that blissfully shocked look and he could not believe people were just giving him candy. He started racing from door to door. It is the fastest we had ever seen him move. At first, he thought he had to eat each piece as he received it, but we finally got him to put it in his pumpkin and save it for later. The next day, he woke up and wanted to do it again that night. He didn't understand why we couldn't just do this every day. I had fun imagining all of us dressing up and walking around saying "trick or treat!" on a random night in November. I think people might have had pity on us and given us some leftover candy, right?

So, we are still missing him and thinking about him a lot. Last week I was having a really hard week and I realized how powerless I am to make myself feel better or even do the things that usually make me feel better (spending time with God, reading, etc.). I started thinking about how God wants us to come to Him as we are, with all of our pain and hurts, not as we think we ought to be. That is my biggest struggle. I really want to come to God and say "Look, aren't you proud of me?" But I have been feeling so un-proud of myself and just down in the dumps that I really can't do that anyway. So, I am trying to invite God into my pain and painful thoughts. If I start to go down a road that I know will end in me sobbing, I just ask God to redeem this sobbing. To take my tears and somehow make them beautiful or healing. I know that sorrow is not wrong, but I have a feeling that if God is not redeeming it it can easily become bitterness or resentfulness, which I really don't want. It even helps in thinking about some of the more painful times, like in the hospital after surgeries and thinking about times when Joseph just wasn't feeling well. I have been asking God to travel back with me in those thoughts and not let them become a source of guilt or depression. So, if you think of it, please join me in praying that.

I hope you all are getting to enjoy some of this fall weather. There is something so cheerful about a pumpkin. We have two big pumpkins on our front porch and every time I drive up and see them I just smile (thanks, Nana!). Happy Fall, everyone. Drink lots of cocoa and don't forget to come by our bake sale for some yummy desserts next Tuesday.


Kate Etue said...

There's an old cheesy Christian CD I listen to whenever I'm struggling, and it has this great line: "I pray your memories will not drag you down, not be anchors but treasures of the love that you've found."

suzanne morris said...

Oh dear sweet Gillian,
I have been thinking of you and Allen so much lately..anticipating how difficult Halloween might be since it is such a kid-centered holiday with so many memories....(Peababy in a pod, pumpkins, super heroes). And of course it is closely followed by Thanksgiving, the last holiday before all this started. I am just thinking of you and praying for you during what can't help but be a very difficult time. Praying God's presence will be palpable and you'll be surrounded by friends and family who love you and Allen and Holly and Joseph.

Praying for Cros said...

will pray for you !!!! thank you for giving back by the bake is amazing how you become changed through this "fraternity" that none of us wanted to join! DanceBlue is what UK students do to raise money for the peds hem/onc clinic here & it is amazing...i already started to tell people about it & it is in March! I wish there were more "things" in Lexington to raise awareness of Childhood Cancer. Maybe there are & I just need to find them...or start them! Know that you are covered in prayer by so many...thank you for sharing your are loved...

Kelli said...


Since I cannot attend the sale in person, would you let me honor Joseph by donating from afar? I'll eat a few cookies here and pretend they came from you, ok? LO

Email me, so we will work out the details :)

Thanks so much!

Brea said...

Dear Gillian-

It's neat to read this and to realize that we have been praying for you just as you have described - that you could somehow welcome God into your lowest moments and that He will be redeeming your pain; we will continue to pray for that. Your memories of Joseph and Halloween make me smile. He was such a special child, so ready to enjoy every new experience.


tiffany said...

Thanks for sharing, Gillian-
continuing to pray for you.

jody (atlanta) said...

Love hearing from you Gillian. I have been thinking lots about how November is creeping up on us and how this past year holds so many memories and tough times for you all.

This time last year it seemed like our kids were hanging out at each other houses lots which I loved. Joseph asking permission (always polite) to make a mess with Abigail in her room and then proceeding to pull out literally every stuffed animal, pillow, blankie, puzzle, lego, toy, etc and then laying on floor amoung them and LAUGHING (I miss that laugh) is burned in my brain always. I will give those kids credit - they were great MESS MAKERS! It was such a great late summer/fall with enjoying parks without the bugs.

Fall is such a great time of year with all the Holidays and being with loved ones so I know going to be hard on you. Please know I am always praying and sending love. I so appreciate you posting.

Joseph did LOVE Halloween....I remember them being in Matthew's red wagon years ago....miss him lots! He was so loving and giving Abigail turns...such a gentle soul.

I am glad you, Holly and Allen having some fun times with family and friends. We hope to visit soon.


Lizzi said...

I completely agree that there is something really cheerful about a pumpkin, and Fall has always been my favorite season. I pray that God will redeem your sadness and will allow this beautiful time of year to bring you joy instead!

Lots of love,

Nana said...

Sometimes in the midst of my tears I find myself laughing at something goofy Joe P. used to do.When I drive up Sneed Road I usually cry but it is always interrupted by laughing because everytime I picked up Joe P. for a day or a night at Nana's and Grandad's an Alligator or a crocodile would jump out of the little Harpeth River(Joe P. called it "the pond")and chase our car down Sneed Road occasionally the Crocs and the Alligators would just jump onto the back of the car and nearly get us but Joe P. would fend them off and save Nana-Bear one more time.Even though Joe P. was saving me I think he and Holly were the ones who were scared and really believed they would get us.Then Joe P. would turn to the back and tell us "Its ok. Nana they're gone ...phew was I relieved.The sadness and the joy are intertwined.I'm sure all the memories are flooding your minds and I will pray for what you asked specifically."He tends His flock like a shepard;He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart;he gently leads those that have young.Isaiah40:11 love from Nana

Anonymous said...

Thank you for continuing your blog. I find such beauty in your words, and think that you are helping many people who are not able to express themselves as eloquently as you have as they travel through the depths of grief. From one mother to another, I will pray for you...

Shannon and John said...

Love this..."I started thinking about how God wants us to come to Him as we are, with all of our pain and hurts, not as we think we ought to be. That is my biggest struggle. I really want to come to God and say "Look, aren't you proud of me?"

I realized as I read your words that I too often do that. I struggle with truly being honest with our Lord. I don't want to disappoint Him. Thanks for shedding light on a struggle of mine. I think of you guys often and pray for you always. Shannon

Renee said...

Sweet Gillian,

When you began this blog, it was a great way for the Plunder Girls to know how to pray for your family as well as for our beloved Pauline and Billy. But after a while it became a journey of the soul for so many of us who were watching, reading and praying.

The way your heart sees the world is beautiful, and equally beautiful is way you express what you see. In an odd way, you are like a very old innocent and pure in the way you walk and see, contrasted with a wisdom that must have been put in your soul by God it is so rich and deep.

Isn't it a mystery that God gave us hearts that could be broken? He could have made us indifferent, but chose to equip us with hearts that can be crushed by the memory of a small child's hand on our face.

Of all the characteristics of God to which we, peace, joy...we do not have to aspire to a broken heart. We don't have to seek to have our heart crushed. We don't ask God to shatter our hearts daily. So sometimes I wonder if the capacity to have a broken heart is a characteristic we share with God completely and naturally...just by being 'made in His image'. That sorrow is somehow, and in some way, like C.S. Lewis' wardrobe passage into Narnia...where we mysteriously and suddenly get to see God's country through this connection of 'alike-ness.'

Maybe this view of things is much the same as a child trying to explain getting Halloween candy at a stranger's door...but it has been a pondering spot of mine...trying to reason why God made us with hearts that are breakable.

And this is going to sound completely crazy, but I pray that you will rest in the sorrow of your broken heart...that every time the back of that wardrobe becomes the woods of Narnia you will rest and allow your heart to beat in exact unison with God's.

Thank you so much for continuing to share with us...I know there are thousands like me who have learned so much from your journey.

Renee Yarbrough

Jean Joiner said...

I keep thinking about this time last year too and remembering how much fun we all had at the playgroup Halloween party at Emily's house. I'll be praying for you and particulary what you asked for.

Anonymous said...

Too cute about the birthday candles... I was thinking, wait, Holly's birthday is in Feb.

I'll keep praying that God would be with you especially this autumn and that you will find little pumpkin-like joys each day to lift your spirits. And even when you are feeling blue, that God would be at work then too.
-Laura R.

Randi said...

Still praying and thinking of your family,

Sarah-Jane said...

not only is your blog my best friend, but all your comments on here are also my best friends. Thanks Rene. I loved your post.
Hope Halloween can be fun and that Holly will enjoy all the candy and the door to door (I guess cottonwood will have to provide that.....or Lexington, if you like).
I love you sister.
thanks for writing.

Tina said...

Love your writing and love your honesty. I especially related to when you said 'you went to God as if you wanted him to be proud of you ... yet you were not proud of yourself.' Sounds like a woman who has humbled herself under the mighty hand of God and who is seeking to be loved deeply. {{{Hugs}}} and Thank you again!

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to let you know I appreciate hearing how you are doing on your blog. We pray for you a lot and think of you and of Joseph often.
Maija and the Gayeds

Abbie said...

I smiled when I read about the shock Jospeh had during his first Halloween experience....we watched the same shock on out children's faces. They just couldn't believe that they got to go from door to door and get candy from each house!

I think I heard a funny routine from Seinfeld once about that very thing: being swept away by the fun of dressing up and getting candy.

KellyR said...

I am holding all of you in my prayers. I am consistently amazed at your ability to put such strong emotions into words. Thanks for still sharing with all of us in bloggerland. You encourage me more than I can say.

Margaret said...

I've been sharing those same fall memories from last year with you. I remember pulling them around B-haven trying to pry candy out of their hands. Of course, you can't blame them- I mean, seriously, what is the point of getting it if you aren't going to eat it??
It is a tough time. I want to remind you that you should be proud of yourselves because you are getting up every day, taking wonderful care of Holly, getting out of the house and making a life that honors JoeP every day.
I still cry a lot over JoeP and for you and Holly and Allen. I get mad and sad and bitter and then remember something funny and laugh and then get really p-o'd....
I pray for you for all the things you asked for and also for that other thing we talked about in the car on the way home from dinner.

I'm running a race on Sat that benefits Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. I have run it since it's first year in 2003, never knowing how close to my heart it would be. The first year it was started by a family who had just lost their son at 1 to a tumor. It is called Williams Run. They had a board up in his memory and I just cried. Every year I feel so emotional about this run- even receiving the flyer in the mail would make me tear up and vow to run it. This year I noticed that they invite you to bring a picture of someone in your life touched by it. I will be posting a picture of Joseph and Matthew together with a note on the board. I want you to know that Joseph will continue touching and inspiring others. In this run, even more than others (it is my favorite time to pray), I will be praying for you all. I plan to set a PR Sat in this race bc I know that I will feel Joseph's strength for this special run thru my prayers.
I love you! Margaret

Christy said...

I love that you are aware enough to invite God into your pain. It seems when I'm hurting most, I just want to hang on to it and show God how much whatever He's allowed to happen has injured me. He might forget, otherwise. It's not as helpful as it might seem at first.

I'll be thinking and praying for you as I go clean my horrid kitchen.

Lynn T said...

I love what you wrote and can totally picture Joseph racing from door to door. I laughed reading how he wanted to wake up and trick or treat again. I really laughed imagining you all trick or treating in November. I am praying for your requests. Thanks for sharing so honestly. I love you so much.

sumi said...

Gillain, I just wanted to send you a big HUG from a mommy who knows...I will be praying for you.

I had to smile at this sentence in your previous post: I have this crazy urge to tell random people that I have a son and he died and I'm not just a normal person having a normal day.

I have soooo felt that same urge!

Anyway, may Jesus hold you close as you walk this crazy up-and-down road. He's faithful that way.

maggie said...

wow, i might have to stop by!!!oh by the way how is aidan doing? i try checking his blog and it won't let me.(i am in mama taffe's d-group)
maggie spiegel

Chloe said...

it may seem that life has no meaning without joseph, and i can empathise with the desire to tell people that you are not just going about your normal business. grief is surreal, and very hard to reconcile with the fact that life goes on. you want time to stand still or reverse. i am glad you are keeping up your blog. i watched an amazing film yesterday, called i've loved you so long, about a mothers love for her son, who died young from an illness. it may not exactly be the time for you to watch something like this, but the film is amazing, both devastating and cathartic. you are still in my mind and thoughts all the time, and even though you feel the blog is not the relief it used to be, it probably helps more than you know. big kisses to Billy, i had no idea it was his birthday!! take care. love you loads. clo xx

Sarah-Jane said...

Hope the sale goes great today!!