The lucky winner from the giveaway is #17, Allyson. You can contact Lynn directly to pick out your two cute sets of notecards. Thanks, everyone, for participating.
Merry Christmas, and have fun shopping. Has anyone out there already finished? I started mine last weekend, but I still have quite a few more left to buy.
In fact, I think I might have to buy some of those notecards...
Thursday, December 3, 2009
The lucky winner from the giveaway is #17, Allyson. You can contact Lynn directly to pick out your two cute sets of notecards. Thanks, everyone, for participating.
Posted by Allen and Gillian at 9:50 PM
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
This is another 48 hour giveaway! If you didn't win last time, here is your chance to win some more beautiful stationery. My sister is generously giving away 2 sets of darling notecards (of your choice) from Hen & Barley Press (one for you and one for a Christmas present to a lucky loved one). These cards are so reasonably priced and make great gifts for teachers or babysitters or anyone, really. They also ship very quickly.
Here is what you could win:
I just love these!! There are many more gorgeous designs on the website. To enter the drawing just visit here, then come back and leave a comment saying your favorite design. On Thursday evening I will pick a winner from everyone who left a comment. The lucky winner will get to pick two sets of notecards. If you don't win and decide you want to order these as Christmas presents, you have until December 14 to receive them in time for Christmas.
Posted by Allen and Gillian at 7:36 PM
Sunday, November 29, 2009
I am loving having two kids in the house again. Now that there is another child along with Holly I have found myself several times wondering, "Where's Joseph?" We will just be in the living room and I will have this strong feeling that he is back there napping. Sometimes it still doesn't feel real that he is not with us anymore.
The other day we were eating at Moe's and Holly saw a family with three children. She said, "They have FIVE people in their family!" Then she looked at us and said, "We have four, and one in heaven." Then she took a bite of food, and reconsidered. "We have five people in our family." I thought it was really sweet that she was thinking about Joseph, and I have to agree with her. We do have five. I have learned to not always share this with strangers, but I'm glad Holly still considers him part of our family because he was such a huge part of her life since the day she was born.
I am looking forward to seeing the relationship that is forged between Holly and June. Holly continues to be very protective of June and very helpful (i.e., pulling out ALL the burp cloths and getting me 10 diapers at a time). She also will bring me water and bring me the boppy when it's time for June to eat. What service! I can tell she is adjusting to not having my attention all the time, but I think overall she has handled the transition very well. I hope and pray that she and June will be close friends as they grow up together.
Posted by Allen and Gillian at 9:10 PM
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Death has a way of bringing life into focus. This morning I was thinking how I used to say, "I'm such a boring Christian. I never used to be a drug-addict living on the streets and Jesus saved me from a life of crime." Nothing dramatic. Jesus just quietly revealed himself to me through my sister, and I just found Him beautiful and believable. It was more the "I wanted what I saw she had" thing. I saw how her life changed dramatically one semester at college and it was just evident it was a supernatural thing.
Anyway, now I feel like maybe my story is a bit more dramatic. I guess not many people say they had to say goodbye to their 4 yr. old son due to a brain tumor, but they still believe in God. And not only that, but that they are more convinced of God's goodness and faithfulness because of it. Please don't misunderstand me; I do have feelings of abandonment by God, unfairness at what Joseph had to endure, etc., but this whole journey has proved God to me more than a hundred sermons could. Because if I could have walked away from God I definitely would have. But I couldn't and I can't. It is just not in my power. Losing Joseph made me realize that my security in God is not based on me; it's completely based on him--His faithfulness, His pursuing, His providing. The only thing I offered God for a long time is sadness, complaints, my own sin and pleas for mercy. But He hasn't let me go.
I read the book "A Severe Mercy" not too long ago. It is just a wonderful picture of a loving marriage, but at the end he has some great conversations with C.S. Lewis on grief and loss.
"It is remarkable (I have experienced it), that sense that the dead person is. And also, I have felt, is active: can sometimes do more for you now than before--as if God gave them, as a kind of birthday present on arrival, some great blessing to the beloved they have left behind."
I thought it was so neat to think of God passing on a blessing to those left behind. For me, the gift has not been a sense of Joseph's presence or being, but I do feel a deep contentment even amidst missing Joseph. I feel like his gift to me is the desire/ability to appreciate each day, no matter how mundane or draining it might be. I look back at days that I wished away and just don't ever want to repeat that mistake. They may have been exhausting days, but they were the days of Joseph's life.
My pace of life is a lot slower now. I will sit and smell June's hair and cuddle with her for a little longer, remembering how quickly these days go by. This is going to sound crazy, but I'm even a little sad that she will stop waking up in the middle of the night soon. I remember going in to Joseph when he would wake up at night while he was on steroids and it wasn't fun to be woken up, but I was so grateful he was alive and was not sure how many more nights we would have to cuddle and "hold handies" together. I used to get so annoyed when either of the kids would wake up at night, and while it isn't my favorite thing to do, I couldn't believe that at one point that was my biggest complaint. How blessed I was!
Even though I have experienced every parent's worst fear, I am grateful for the change in perspective I gained from it. I don't think I ever truly grasped how blessed I was to have children. I feel like God has given me a deep gratitude and contentment being a mom, something I didn't have when I first began this journey. That is the gift I feel Joseph left behind for me, and I'm thankful for it.
Posted by Allen and Gillian at 10:01 AM
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Here are some more great pictures taken by our official photographer who was given as a gift by our friend Lesli. I was so grateful because I love to take pictures but knew I would want to be soaking up the morning and talking to people, not worrying about taking the photos. Thank you, Lesli! And the wonderful photographer is Amber Beckham who captured the whole event fabulously.
Thank you again to everyone who came out and everyone who supported the first Joe P. Rally Run!
Posted by Allen and Gillian at 6:09 PM
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Posted by Allen and Gillian at 8:52 PM
Friday, October 16, 2009
Two weeks until the first annual Joe P. Rally Run!! I am so excited to visit Nashville and to participate in this race. The jury's still out on whether or not I will be able to run. I'm not hurt or anything, just out of shape! I will definitely be either walking or running or Allen will carry me. :) Or maybe someone can push both of us in our double jogger.
Dick's Sporting Goods has generously offered a $50 gift card to the person with the best costume. So, come decked out in your best costume and maybe you'll win! I have a great idea for one, so I'll have to see if I can get it ready in time (in all my free time with a newborn- ha ha).
Also, to ensure you get a t-shirt (and in the correct size) please register by Monday!! The t-shirts will be ordered on Monday so after that you may not get the exact size you would like.
Oh, and the website is www.joeprallyrun.com. You can sign up right there on the website.
Thank you to everyone who has signed up or donated! Happy Fall, and hope to see you all soon!!
Posted by Allen and Gillian at 10:05 PM
Saturday, September 19, 2009
September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Last year I totally missed it. I wanted to let you know about a couple of ways you can show support:
Chili's restaurants are donating 100% (yes, all of them!) of their profits to St. Jude's on September 28th. Kids can even decorate their own pepper to put on the wall to show their support.
You may also participate by running in/supporting Joe P's rally run, which will take place on Halloween in Nashville. Go here to sign up. Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of you who have donated or signed up. We are already at 30% of our goal of $25,000!! The Peabody clan will be there. I'm hoping to at least walk fast. :)
On the homefront, we are adjusting well to life with our new bundle of joy. June is such a sweet baby and Holly is being the sweetest and most caring big sister ever. She is so proud of "her baby." We have had lots of help from grandmas which has made the last couple of weeks so much easier. Thanks, Nana and Mimi, for your tireless helpfulness and love.
Hope to see you all at Chili's or in Nashville on Oct. 31st!
Posted by Allen and Gillian at 9:29 AM
Thursday, September 10, 2009
On Monday morning (Labor Day!!) we welcomed Maggie June to our family. She arrived at 5:09 a.m. and weighed in at 10 lb. 4 oz. and was 21 in. long. Our very sweet friend and neighbor, Abby, got a call from us at 2:15 a.m. and she rushed over to stay with Holly so we could go to the hospital. It was hilarious because Abby had told me, "Please call me if you go into labor, even if it's at 2:37 a.m." When Allen and I got into the car the time was 2:37 a.m. She was close!
So we arrived at the hospital and June was born 2 hours later. It was obviously a very quick labor, but everything went very smoothly and she is a healthy, sweet, adorable little baby. Holly is completely over the moon about being a big sister and is doing great in her adjustment to having a new baby in the house. She is very protective, too. Today I told her we had to take June to the doctor so they could check her weight and give her a shot. She almost started crying and said, "Don't let them give her a shot! I'm mad at the doctor!"
Here are a few pictures of our girl. We thank God for this new blessing. She is such a sweet baby.
Posted by Allen and Gillian at 10:10 AM
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
We are so thankful that God gave us four years to nurture this precious boy, and that all of his days were written in His book before one of them came to be. We are sad we don't get to hold him and celebrate with him on his birthday but we know his day will be full of joy and gladness as he dances before the Father's throne.
Looking back over the last two years it is hard to imagine getting through them without the unbelievable support, love and prayers of our family and friends. We want to thank all of you who have loved us, prayed for us, and basically upheld us as we walked through an unbearably difficult time. It is hard to express the gratitude we have for all of you who have cared for us so deeply. Thank you.
In memory of Joseph's life I have put together a slideshow, along with some original songs by Allen. Over this last year a huge part of Allen's healing has been writing and recording these songs with his friend, John. I know I'm not biased but they are some of the most heartbreaking yet beautiful songs you will ever hear. These two are the only ones ready right now, but we hope to share more of them soon. And please forgive the length of this slideshow. It was just too hard to make it any shorter.
Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Posted by Allen and Gillian at 8:23 PM
Monday, July 20, 2009
I received a birthday invitation to your little buddy's 5th birthday the other day. It was then that it hit me: we are a month away from your 5th birthday. And also about a month from the day we said goodbye to you. The time goes by but the heartache remains the same.
Sweet Joseph, I miss you every day. Every day I ache to see you, touch your sweet face, hear your loud, boisterous voice and laugh. No-one can ever replace the special, beautiful little boy you were to us. When you were little I used to marvel at the depth I would see in your eyes. It seemed they were older than your tender age. You seemed to understand, get things, before you should have. And you proved it with your advanced humor. You could make jokes that adults found funny. But you also proved it with your kind heart and eagerness to love and live life fully.
I loved your mischievous spirit. You always laughed the hardest and had the best gleam in your eye when you thought you or someone else was getting into mischief. You would flap your arms up and down and squeal with delight when you were younger. Then as you got older you would smile excitedly and shrug your shoulders and share the mischief with your partner in crime. You would say things like "Let's not tell Daddy we had another brownie!" or "Let's not tell Mommy I got to stay up late." It was always so fun to share a mischievous secret.
You, with your child-like passion and love for life, grew me up as a person and as a mother. You taught me to get over my selfishness, my need for order, my need for control. I realize now that the most important thing is to appreciate and love fully the ones you treasure. Having a house that's in order will not go in the photo albums. I used to get so stressed about how messy our house got, but now I wish for the mess...the cars and trains all over the place, evidence of a happy child playing.
Anyway, dear Joseph, how I wish we could have a party for you to enjoy. I would love to see you playing with your friends, tearing into presents, and gobbling up your cake. But I know you are celebrating in heaven and your joy and life are complete. We will treasure the days and years we had with you and I will be forever thankful for the lessons I learned from my sweet boy.
Posted by Allen and Gillian at 1:28 PM
Sunday, July 5, 2009
Joseph's 5K now has a website! You can register to run or just donate to the cause right there on the website. We are hoping to raise $25,000 to fund more research for childhood cancer. I think we can do it! This is the website:
Thank you so much to Matt P. and Rally foundation for working so hard to get this up and running. It will be in Nashville on October 31st. It is not intentionally on Halloween--that is just the date that worked for Centennial Park.
I'm sorry I have been so long in updating! We have settled back into Atlanta and are enjoying our new home. I had a lot of fear/anxiety about coming back and being away from family and Allen starting back into a crazy schedule but so far God has made the transition relatively easy for us. We have a great community of friends here so Holly and I have been enjoying reconnecting with friends and their kids and she and I have been exploring our new area of town, finding the library and pools and such. We just joined our neighborhood pool (which we didn't even know about when we moved in!), so I can see that being a great source of entertainment for the rest of the summer. We also had a nice couple of weeks before Allen started back at work. For Father's Day he was lucky enough to get princess Yahtzee, a game he has been begging for for months :). Holly likes to play this game approximately 5.3 million times a day. Isn't this guy a trooper? He even participates in tea parties.
Allen had a couple of weeks of orientation but officially started back at Emory on Wednesday. He had completed 6 months of his intern year, so they gave him credit for that. This was the hospital where we took Joseph initially so there have been moments that have been very emotional for him. I cannot imagine even stepping foot inside that hospital without just breaking down, so I am so proud of him for entering back into this despite all the obstacles. It is not humanly possible to get through this, as I know he will be confronted with children that remind him of Joseph or have similar illnesses, but (as trite as this sounds) with Christ all things are possible. And somehow in our very weakest state, He is glorified most.
The baby is growing steadily and I'm wondering (again) if my belly could possibly grow any more. I know it can but when I look at it I just don't see how it's possible. I have about 2 more months until my due date, but who knows when this baby will make her appearance? Joseph was 10 days late and Holly was 5 days late, but I'm really hoping this one won't wait that long! She is moving around a ton, and often I will think something has hit my belly but it's just her kicking me, letting me know she liked her lunch. :) Here is an updated picture:
I am so thankful for this new little life inside me and hope it will help in this continual healing process. Having Holly to care for and snuggle with and entertain has been vital for me this last year. I just cannot imagine losing a child and then just having an empty house--no-one to wake me up in the morning or need playdates or activities, etc. . I don't even want to imagine what state I would be in if that were the case.
I had a doctor's appointment today and everything looked great. The doctor even let me have another ultrasound--just because. She was measuring great and she estimated the baby weighed about 3.5 pounds. It is amazing to me that she will most likely gain another 5 or so pounds in the next few weeks.
I hope you all are enjoying the summer and getting to enjoy pools and beaches and cookouts and all that fun summer stuff. Hope to see you October 31st!
Posted by Allen and Gillian at 1:12 PM
Monday, June 1, 2009
I've never experienced life to be perfect, nor have I expected it to be so. I am usually not surprised if things go wrong. I don't feel offended. It's just the order of the universe. I do believe God is good and is in control, but somehow this world has gone very wrong. The fact that there is genocide in Africa, a booming sex trade in Europe, and millions of orphans worldwide testifies to this fact. Clearly, I am not the only person who has to deal with the effects of sin and death. So I usually feel like I can deal with my small share of difficulties.
However, losing Joseph has changed me in so many ways I almost feel like I've emerged from this a new person. I really and truly don't expect that everyone I'm close to will be alive tomorrow. Death has come so close to home that it seems like a very real possibility that anyone I love could be taken from me at any time. I look at newscasters or sportscasters and see their smiling faces and wonder, "Do you know how short life is? You are reporting on someone dying as if it couldn't happen to you or won't happen to us and yet your life could be taken from you this next minute." I just feel like world is carrying on in some kind of charade, pretending like we live forever and death is this horrible end that only comes to the very unfortunate or very old. But we all die. Every single one of us. No exceptions (unless God returns before we die, of course). Okay so that's the one exception. :)
But we don't live like we know we are going to die. We go about life, collecting toys and things and money, and chase after bigger houses, nicer cars, better jobs, as if all that will guarantee us some kind of permanence. How did we buy into this?
We were invited over to a couple's house the other night--the Scotts. They have lost two beautiful small children to a rare neurological disease that slowly robs its victims of the ability to talk, hear, move, function, yet it spares their brain in that they are aware of what is going on in their little bodies. They felt trapped in a once healthy body and their parents were powerless to stop their deterioration. What kind of hell on earth would that be?
Yet they invited us into their home, cooked us dinner, allowed us to see their children's rooms and pictures, and generally opened their hearts to us. I felt like we were walking on sacred ground. They had moved into this beautiful farm house with a barn to provide a better environment for their children and I felt so special they were willing to share it with us. But more than that, we instantly entered into a level of talking that I think is unusual for a first meeting. We talked about suffering, anger, pain, God, our counselors, our feelings, how we cope with our individual pain, etc. It was beautiful to enter into a real conversation about real things and not pretend like our lives were perfect. Sure, they are angry, confused, raging at God, raging at other people. But that doesn't scare me anymore. Before all this happened with Joseph, I would have been really sympathetic, but not very tolerant of people irate at God. I would have thought it irreverent. Now I see it as a natural honest response, and one that God can handle. And God has shown me the depths of feelings I can experience so when I see those in other people now it doesn't offend me or scare me like it used to. I really felt so blessed that they would share a window into their souls with us.
They are faced with the sobering fact that this world is not it. Their children are now in another place, and as much as we live in this world, our hearts are tied up in another. But the other side of feeling like death is close at hand is feeling like heaven is close at hand. I think so much about heaven now, talk about it almost every day with Holly, and probably view it as a much more real place than I used to. Holly will still say things like, "I like playing with Joe P. the best. But, he's in heaven." Or, "I do have a brother, but he's at heaven." We will often speculate about what he's doing, what he's playing with, if he's watching us and laughing, etc. The Bible says in Hebrews that we are surrounded by a "great cloud of witnesses" who are there cheering us on in the "race marked out for us." I believe that to be true, and I like to imagine Joseph very near, watching, laughing, encouraging, much more present than we can actually see.
I also feel like in worshiping now, the realness of God's presence is so overwhelming I can't help but cry. Every single time I go to church I have a really hard time not weeping openly. I don't completely understand why this is, but I think part of it is that I connect Joseph with Jesus now, so when I am singing to God I can picture Joseph there too, joining in the chorus, and the reality of that is so joyful but then sad that I am just overcome with emotion.
One day all things will be made right. One day things will be perfect. I am confident of that. But for now we live in the in-between, caught in a world of pain and sadness and gross imperfection, yet strangely connected to God and heaven and often catching glimpses of that beauty. It is a tough place to live in--yet the promise of perfection keeps me from losing all hope. One day I will see Joseph's smile again, sing with him, play with him and just enjoy being in God's presence. And there will be no sickness or sin or death. That hope doesn't make the pain of missing him go away, but it does keep me from drowning in it.
Posted by Allen and Gillian at 10:07 PM
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Every day at 1:00 I think of Joseph. It's his naptime. From the time he was about 18 months that has been when his little body turned in for a mid-day rest. Any earlier and he just wasn't ready but if I left it much past then he would start to melt down. I am still trained to think I have something to do at one o'clock every day. Holly is a little more flexible and can make it even until about 3 some days, but usually it is closer to 2:00. But in my head I still think I need to be home at 1:00.
It is things like this that happen every day that make this grieving thing so hard. I really do feel like I'm doing much better, but it's when I randomly feel like announcing that it's Joseph's naptime to our friends at lunch that I wonder if I will ever be normal again. I have so many secret memories and associations that can be triggered at any time, and they can trigger so many different emotions in me. Sometimes I just want to laugh but other times I want to cry.
A few weeks ago we were at the library with some friends and their children. Holly and I came out to the courtyard early before the story time was over and there was another little boy playing by the fountain. I don't see many little boys who look like Joseph but this one reminded me of him so much. He had the exact same sandy hair that was unusually thick for a child. He even was dressed similarly to the way I dressed Joseph. And he had that boisterous personality that we all know and love. Holly just stood and watched him for a while and within a few minutes they were chasing each other and playing. At one point she came over to me and he just came over and smiled to try to win her back. It was so sweet. But I had this crazy thought, "I wonder if I could just watch him for a day...would his mom let me, I wonder?"
Our friends came out shortly after this but I felt like I was just done for the day. I couldn't muster up the strength to have a normal conversation and I know I probably acted a little like a zombie. I was just so overcome by memories and the longing to see my Joseph play with Holly. And I couldn't help just watching him to see if he really acted like Joseph.
My friends may not have noticed, or if they did they weren't bothered, but I am bothered that I can so easily be "not present" when I'm around friends. I have always enjoyed get-togethers and parties and being social, but when I can so easily drift into this world they can't understand it just makes it hard. I feel like I'm the outsider, even though no-one is making me feel this way.
About a month ago I started seeing a counselor to talk about everything and work through some of my feelings. It has been so very helpful and I wish I had done it sooner. At the last meeting she asked me what my goal was--where I'd like to be in a few months. I had a really hard time answering her because on the one hand I don't want to stay in that overwhelming sadness but I don't want to move on and forget Joseph and just pretend like he was never part of our family. So, my answer was that I wanted to be somewhere in the middle--able to live and move forward with hope but to always bring him with us wherever we went. I want Holly and this new baby to know him and see pictures of him and know that he will always be part of our family. The hard part about that is that it will inevitably bring sadness, as we will then have to acknowledge he is no longer with us and that we will be separated from him until heaven. It is hard to even say I want to move forward because it feels like the more we do the farther we move away from him and the time he was with us. But she did encourage me that moving forward is not betraying him, as I had inwardly believed.
I am writing all this because I thought today how many people carry burdens like this all their lives. Maybe it is the memory of abuse or neglect, a deep loss, a struggle with infertility and/or miscarriages, chronic illness, or a painful marriage. And each day they have to struggle against the temptation to be bitter, to just "check out" or give up, or to stay isolated for fear of being abnormal. I guess I realized there is pain all around me and I am not the only one. But thankfully we do have hope. We can bring our burdens to God without trying to minimize them or ignore them and he promises rest. He recognizes that we are weary and burdened (Matt. 11:28) and he offers some relief. He doesn't say, "Cheer up and get on with it," but "Come to me." He will do the changing.
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
Posted by Allen and Gillian at 9:12 AM
Monday, April 20, 2009
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
Posted by Allen and Gillian at 11:07 AM
Saturday, April 11, 2009
We wish you all a very happy Easter tomorrow. Yesterday I took Holly to the Resurrection Trail at church and tried to help her understand that Easter is, in fact, about something much bigger and cooler than easter eggs and candy. It was really well done and it made me cherish Christ's sacrifice so much more as I pondered what it meant in real life for us and for Joseph. I think she really understood that Jesus was killed but when I told her that God made him alive again, her face lit up and she was so happy, b/c I also told her that it meant one day she and I and Daddy and Joseph could all be alive together again in heaven (she was quick to add Kellogg to our family). I was so glad we went, though, because sometimes I need things explained to me in kid-terms to make it real in my heart. At the end of the trail all these children dressed as angels were exclaiming, "He is risen!" and it was such a beautiful glimpse of heaven to me and made me feel like we were close to Joseph. We really can only imagine the beauty but I know it has to be staggering. This Easter I am so thankful for the miracle of the resurrection and the sacrifice of Jesus that allows us to have confidence in our eternity.
Posted by Allen and Gillian at 8:54 AM