Tuesday, November 24, 2009

We've Got Cows!

There are few of you that just know me that will find the validity of this story to be somewhat in question. But, then there are those of you that "know me, know me" and realize that something of this nature would only happen to me.

Monday, November 23, 2009. I've just dropped the girls off at my parents house in South Oklahoma City. My mom watches them on Monday's while Daren and I continue to seek marital counseling in Edmond, which again is North of Oklahoma City.

I'm heading North, minding my own business...decompressing from the hectic morning of getting out the door. Oh wait. It's noon. Did it really take all morning? Well, it felt like it anyway. On to the story.

I'm minding my own business,cruising along in the far left lane (that's where I choose to travel due to the tendency that people seem to lolly gag in any other lane and I am a mom on a mission with little time in my schedule for anyone under the speed limit at all.) In the far right lane there is a truck pulling a cattle trailer. (not a semi, just a regular truck) I notice out of the side of my vision, that something is moving. I look over that way and the trailer attached to the truck is swaying back and forth behind the truck in a crazy way. So, cautiously with my hands at 10 and 2, I watch to see what in the world is going on. Then, out pops a cow. (not a full grown cow, but not a calf, probably about a teenager in cow years ~ Whatever that is) He's not entirely out. Just his front paws, I mean legs and his head. I can see him trying to kick his feet that are still in the trailor.

I, who am about 6 car lengths behind the truck at least, and three lanes over start to try yelling at the dude that his cow is about to "hit the road", literally. As if the guy is going to hear me. I see the guy start to hit his breaks, but Bessie has already successfully removed herself from the moving vehicle and has now, really hit the road.

See, there are some things too strange and crazy that only happen to Kristi. There are a handful of people that will shake there heads while reading this and not question at all that this happened. Melissa, Shawna, Debe, Peggy, Mary, Ruby, Barbara. I just always happen upon the most odd situations.

Now, instead of going to therapy for coping skills in marriage, I was dealing with Bessie and why she decided to jump. That, I will never know. And, that is okay with me. So, I share this moment of silence for Bessie....

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Sweet Memory

Click here to view these pictures larger

Thank You Jan!

I have another mother in law. I don't know why I haven't talked much about her. She is the quiet strength of the other side of Daren's family.

She has strength, beauty, and a loving heart. I was going through the twins keep sake box tonight and found an email that she sent to me in October 2007. It flooded my eyes with tears. I have now placed it on the door in my room here at Melissa's. I want to share with you a part that she wrote. Her loving words warmed my heart as if she was standing here holding me. I love you Jan. I love Clay (Daren's Dad) and Julie too. (Daren's sister).

Here is a small preview in the days that preceeded this event...You can always count on us for an amazing story of God's faithfulness!!

The phone rang and it was Daren's co-worker and dear friend Lee. His first words were "Kristi, Daren is in the ambulance. He is fine, but he has had a head injury". I feel to the floor as horrid thoughts of terror captured my mind and everything became dark. My emotions drove me to sobs. He went on to to say that a metal post "digger" he was using fell on his head and he passed out and that there was a cut on his head and blood. Lee is an amazing friend of ours and his kind patience with me as I cried and screamed and literally fell apart. I was struck with a thought that I might lose the man that I love. How would I raise our babies alone ~ he is such a huge partner in parenting!!

Since my mom was with me, I called Daren's Dad Clay and step mom Jan. Concern struck both of them to the degree that it did me. See, Daren's brother Robbie died in a car accident some years ago. I know their fear was that they were about to walk down that same road again and that thought can paralyze you.

Jan's email in the days following reads as follows: (thank you Jan)

So it's time for a grandma Cole story. I don't know if you ever met her but if you did, it was towards the end so you didn't get the full effect, but she was one of the strongest women that ever lived. she was extremely honest, forthright, and spoke her mind about things. Nobody or nothing could bet the best of her. She plowed through life with practicality and great spirit. She endured the depression, loss of employment, nursing parents and relatives through final illnesses, loss of a spouse and still had a vital spirit. She was a career woman when it wasn't the thing to do, she never expected to marry and married late in life when it was fashionable and became first time mother at the tender age of 44. She worked hard her entire life -even mowing her own lawn at age 90 in spite of our fussing at her. I'm telling you this because you'll be a Grandma Cole too someday. And tough times like you've faced and are facing will become a part of the family legend. I've been quite sure that it's been your tenacious spirit that got the girls here safely (Jan is the ONLY one who has said that and I hold it in my heart forever~Thank you Jan). And we'll look forward to their first birthday, their first day of school, their first loose tooth and their first prom dress! Kory will become pretty protective of them as he gets older. (Although I'm sure he will complain plenty along the way) I plan to be there when all three graduate college and move out into the world on their own. And we'll talk about what sacrifices you and Daren made to ensure their safe arrival and their bumpy beginning. And be grateful that those days are behind us. Your children will draw strength from those stories for times when they are struggling. And your strength today will inspire their strength int he future. It really does work that way! So hand in there! We're behind you all the way. You're doing a great job handling all that life has thrown at you.don't ever hesitate to call-I may act like a flake on the phone but I'll be listening with my ears and my heart.


I can't believe that after two years, I found this in their box. There were several others in their from her that flowed with great love and encouragement. Jan, I promised you a few years back, that I wouldn't put our children through a divorce. I remember the email but I can't find it. I know you were concerned because a child that you knew was going through that in his life and you saw the pain he lived and didn't want your grandchildren to go through that. I am not giving up. I am fighting for The Cole family ~ there is a great legacy to leave behind, but that legacy contains stories of the five of us and the three of you and Gayle as well.

Jan, you speak of Grandma Cole's great strength. I agree she endured great suffering and resistance. You though, I believe in my heart you are the strongest in our family and your legacy will always be the one of endurance through pain, loss, and very hard times. You not only are an amazing mother, you are an amazing woman whose strength I will always draw from. Thank you Jan for who you are in my life. I love you all so much ~

~ "Be Still" ~ STORYSIDE:B ~

"Be Still". I am sooooo not good at being still. My friend Shawna says that she has seen me sit for more than 30 minutes ONE time in our 15 year friendship. Melissa, my best friend, almost has to force me to sit still.

Especially right now. Being still doesn't seem to be "productive" ... it doesn't seem to materialize anything into being. For example ~ getting our family back together under one roof. My friend on Facebook, David, brought something to my attention today (thank you David) that I do need to keep into perspective. Daren is in his "cave" right now. Men and women think and respond differently. Daren and I are no different. Daren is the silent one and I am the talker. (I know, hard to believe...ha ha...but true).

So today, my prayer is that I find peace and time to "Be Still" and know that God is near. To trust in Him during this season of unrest. And I pray that the skills we are learning in counseling will be easy to tap into when things get a little tense. The breathing skill is NOT easy to learn and apply naturally at the old age of 37. I want to teach my kids to breathe when things they get stressed so that it's not such an effort for them to regulate their thoughts and return to a calm state.

In His Grip~

Monday, November 16, 2009

An Update On Our Journey ~ Cole "Style"

Ah!! Another long Monday. A good Monday, but long. Monday's are our counseling in Edmond (about 45 minutes from Norman). I go at 1:00 by myself. Daren meets me there at 4:00 where we are watching a DVD series called "Beyond Consequences" (www.beyondconsequences.com) for an hour. It's a great teaching tool for parents, BUT what is even greater is that the principles you learn about people in general encourage you to view relationships so different, and in my opinion, a better way. Anyway, I love it! Then we have counseling as a couple from 5:00 - 6:00. So, I'm running 100 mph from sunrise to sunset, which I do gladly for the sake of our marriage.

The days do get long though. I enjoy the break between my appointment and when Daren meets me there. It gives me a chance to find a quiet place/or park to "chew" on what she has shared with me. And then shift my thinking towards "us". Kathy is amazing!! She is patient and compassionate and loves us like I can't explain. Her office is such a safe place where sifting through emotions feels comfortable, where at other times in other offices, it didn't.

Right now I am working on some difficult things to process, but easy at the same time. It takes a conscience effort on my part to "re-wire" the thinking in my brain. God has been so faithful though and has blessed me with strength I didn't know I had to truly accomplish this through Him. None of us "like" to find the negative things about us, but being open to them to better your life and that of your family and marriage, makes it "do-able" and exciting at the same time. And sooooooo worth it!! I feel so sorry for those that are stuck in life, miserable & angry in everything and with everyone. I was there for soooo long and am just now stepping out to see the world in a new light.

THE STRESS MODEL (http://www.postinstitute.com/)

I have to share this "stress model" that we have been learning about over the past few weeks. It's amazingly simple that we make it difficult. (that might not make sense ~ I'm trying to say that we tend to think that in order for something to change or work, it has to accompany some difficult procedure or process)

* This simple formula is routinely applied to the most complex cases and situations for new insight and understanding*

~The Stress Model contends: All behavior arises from stress, and between the behavior and stress lie our two primary emotions ~ Love and Fear. It is through understanding our own emotional experience and that of others that we can calm the stress, which will result in diminishing the behavior.

~Only LOVING FEELINGS AND BEHAVIORS WILL ARISE FROM THE EMOTION OF LOVE; such as joy, happiness, reciprocity, empathy, conscience, morality, responsibility, and the ability to deeply understand the experience of others.

~Only FEAR-BASED FEELINGS AND BEHAVIORS WILL ARISE FROM THE EMOTION OF FEAR; such are anger, terror, rage, and aggression. We MUST understand that at the deepest core of these strong feelings, it is the PRESENCE OF FEAR that is driving the behavior RATHER THAN THE ANGER.

~Our PERCEPTION OF ANGER in others creates a FEAR REACTION within us which rapidly transforms to anger. When this occurs we are UNABLE TO TRULY SEE THE FEAR EXPERIENCE IN ANOTHER!

With that being said, Daren and I have learned that our behavior or actions are dictating at all times the love or fear based emotion that has transpired as a result of stress. None of us can totally avoid stress. It's a part of our daily lives. But, stress, we have learned, doesn't have to be a bad thing. It's what you "do" with the stress that matters the most.

There are people in our lives right now who seem to thrive on stress, fear, and the negative behavior that results in that. It makes you look at them in a different light. Stress when not regulated leads to dysregulation. It changes our perspective ~ It clouds your thinking, keeps you from relationship, you live in a state of anger. That's a terrible place to find ourselves, but, when openly and honestly we face the fact that "dysregulated" is where we are, there are ways to move back to a regulated state (the calm in your heart that is within your window of tolerance~it's different for all of us)

He goes on to say that there are three things you can do when you find yourself with scattered irrational thoughts, anger, resentment, hurt, and others alike. It's so simple!

1) Just knowing that you are currently dysregulated makes you mindful. Awareness of it.

2) Breathe! 4-7-8 method; Inhale for 4 seconds through your nose, hold it for 7 seconds, and exhale through your mouth for 8 seconds. Do this three times and you will begin to "feel" the shift back into "a more clear thinking".

3) Ask yourself "Honestly, why am I so stressed" (what is causing it, what is this really about) Putting it into perspective in the large scheme of life. If it's something that really stresses you and you can't regulate yourself with prayer and repetition to God, then seek Godly counsel. There is so much help out there and so many resources to draw from.

God longs that none of His children live in fear. Perfect love cast out fear. That which is not love, is fear.

So, as I rap this "post" up, I just want to say that this life is a journey. There will always be days that are less than perfect and people in our lives that are less than perfect, but I've found it's in the reaction to those days and people that can dictate so much of our lives when allowed.

I am thankful for all the love, prayers, and support that our friends and family has shown us. It's that hedge of protection that you have prayed over us that has kept the enemy from winning and to me, there is no "thank you" suitable to express in words. It's more than appreciated. The Scriptures, the FB notes, the emails, text messages, and phone calls...priceless and appreciated deeply!!

So, here we are. On our journey. Fighting for what is right and what is truth.

In His Grip~

THE PICTURE BELOW IS REAL LIFE...But, if it was perfect...what else would we strive for that really matters????

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Call to Anguish ~ David Wilkerson

Another Sunday...

Today was rather slow. Though my mind could not seem to stop and enjoy the quiet. I seem to struggle with that...what to do with the silence right now. Silence seems so final. Like a question mark at the end of a sentence.

Since our family is "dispersed" right now... nothing really "feels right". I know in my heart that I am doing all that I can and that I need to continue to step out in faith and trust God's control and timing and that He will always be with me... even when no one else is. Thank You Lord for that gracious gift and please help me to tune into You more.

I haven't heard from Daren or Gayle since my last post. I didn't really think I would. For "some reason" it seems as if they believe if they don't acknowledge my posts or phone calls or emails that I will just stop trying. Sorry, wrong. I will continue to pursue and endure. I'm stronger than I think they realize and have battled back from many a valley and though this one is deeper, I will press on and climb out WITH MY FAMILY...ALL FIVE OF US....

God brought me to a scripture that I've heard hundreds of times before, but now, in my life, it's reality is both chilling and reassuring.


He also states this exact same principle in Matthew 12:25 AND Luke 11:17

For me, that is enough to know that reunion of our family is of the utmost importance as we seek God.

I am a woman, who has a heart. That heart has feelings and they have been hurt. They have been trampled on and run over again and again and again. But what I hope people see is that ~ God always brings me back to my feet... I will stand!

Our life might seem like a trip to the zoo... but I wouldn't trade one precious moment for anything less.
In His Grip!!!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Lifetime of Love

Precious. Life is so precious. How often do we look at just "life" and how blessed we are by those around us. Family. Friends. Precious. Each person bearing his or her own indelible mark on your heart.

The hard part about life at times, is that we don't get to chose the number of days that a loved one or friend is present and pouring into us in some way or another. What would you change if you knew today was your last day? What would you say if you knew you would never hold your child again? What would you feel if your spouse was taken ~ leaving you to raise the children? Why does it some times take such a great loss for us to put life into perspective. To make us hold on a little tighter when we hug. To speak with more love to those who are part of our daily family life. To tell someone you love them or that you are sorry.

Somewhere in life we forget and can take advantage of the presence of others in our lives. I know for certain that my brother and his precious wife valued (and still do) every day they have as a couple and as a family. They take time for each other and love each other. They trust each other and lean together when problems arise and not apart. They are an amazing family full of strength and love. There is no doubt about that!!

I think that is why trying to figure out why God allowed them to feel the loss of a child at such a young age baffles my mind. They are "good" people. No, they are GREAT people. Everything has changed in their lives. There is an empty spot that nothing will ever be able to take the place of. Holiday's ~ Family Gathering's ~ Birthday's. They will never be the same.

From this tragedy that has etched its memory forever in the lives of our family, my prayer is that Daren and I can some how put the past behind us and move forward. It's been far too long that we have been apart. I don't know how else to say it or what else to do. Daren, we need to be together raising our children and making memories with them. We need to be a family. In my heart that family is you myself, and our children (as well as more extended reletives who chose to positively pour into and help build our marriage)

God did not bring Daren and I back together after all these years....to bless us with three miracles....and see us divorce. That is not what God had intended and I think that Daren and I have both been far too much in the way of what God's will is and lived life off of our emotions.

I love my husband. I love our children. I love our extended families as well. I don't want another day to pass where we can't be together. This has gotten out of hand and if we don't stand up for our marriage and trust in God, the devil will have his victory, again.

Daren, you always have said that "the written word is the most rude form of communication". Since I don't get a chance to speak words & share my hearts desire with you, I have to write. That's what I do. You know the heart in which I write is not a heart of cruel nature or selfish ambition... this is written in deep abiding love and with a heart that bleeds for us to be a family under one roof at any cost.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

So Many Have Asked ~ Major's Legacy

Major Hezekiah Rhodes

It seems through all of the new technology these days, I have been honored to reconnect with so many of my friends that I have made throughout the years. So, to "make sense" and share the background to the story told in bits and pieces through post on my Facebook page, I wanted to share the legacy that my nephew left upon returning to the arms of God. A legacy that will last forever

On my Facebook page, the last few days have been filled with posts and memories of my nephew (My brother, David, and his wife, Darcy) and the tragic loss that they faced a year ago. A pain that still is present today.

My nephew, Major Hezekiah Rhodes, was called home back into the arms of God at the tender age of 15 months old. Major was born 16 days prior too our twins. Major was also born many weeks early and spent most of those weeks in the NICU in Salt Lake City where David is doing his orthopedic residency.

Darcy and I would talk on the phone and share our milestones and set backs, ounces gained and those lost, how they were feeding, how they were sleeping, and lots of prayers for each other through the trails that being in the NICU with your child carries.

Major came home as did our girls. The first year of their lives we talked constantly. Major, like "Little M", was a little slower in some developmental areas ~ but all in all, the three of them continued to grow and grow & were healthy happy little precious lives. Life became normal. Busy for all of us, but normal.

On Sunday, November 2, 2008~ Dave and Darcy got ready for church as they always do. (Marin who was 6 at the time, Somer who was 4, and Lillian who was 2 at the time, and Major, 15 months old.) Dave was working his first Sunday in the nursery at the church. His residency program at the University of Utah Health Science Center kept him busy many weekends. They have an amazing church and a are a part of a small group that would meet weekly out various homes. These preci0us people were their family away from home...and I mean precious people!! The faith and relationship with God that they have had as a family has always inspired me to grow more intimately with God....for many years I spent walking in the wilderness looking for that "one thing" that would make me feel whole...I found that One thing...and that was a personal and true relationship with God.

As David was standing at the door to the nursery and handing over another child to a parent, he looked down and noticed that Major was not breathing. Major was at his feet. Emergency life saving techniques instantly went into action. A number of other surgeons and medical staff that were in the church at the time were called into the nursery. It became apparent that Major had choked on two wooden screws. These great physicians that came to help did everything they could possibly do to dislodge the screws but were unable. They had called 911 the moment that it happened and 30 minutes later the ambulance arrived. They were able to dislodge one of the screws and establish an airway. By this time over 30 minutes had passed since any oxygen had been in Major's precious body.

The ambulance arrived at the Children's Hospital there in Salt Lake City. After a multitude of testing, millions of prayers.... they were notified that Major had no function in his brain. My wonderful brother and his wife had to make the choice that none of us as parents would ever want to make. They decided to allow him back in to the arms of the One who had given Major to them. The hospital staff was, from what I have been told, amazing and compassionate. The allowed Dave and Darcy to spend the night in bed with Major.They placed him in a bed so that they could cuddle with him in his last hours. My mom said that Dave and Darcy stayed up all night singing sweet songs of God and His love. They got to hold Major until the transplant team arrived at 4:00 in the morning on the 3rd.

His organs were given to those who needed them to stay alive. What a gift Dave and Darcy gave these families who would have been facing the same pain that they were walking through by the gift of his organs.

If you or your child are not an organ donor, I plead with you to take measures and steps to allow this.

It has been one year. One year since our family has been shaken to the core. One year full of questions that have seemed to go unanswered with only a silence that is at times deafening. One year full of tears and pain that goes beyond any words that I, as a writer, can find to accurately share every emotion that they have felt. My heart still bleeds with pain for them. It will for a lifetime.

I remember at Major's funeral, they had an open time where people could come up and share their thoughts of love or words of Scripture that God had placed on their hearts. I stood and read a poem that I had written in the first few days that followed this tragedy. Then, my brother... my brother did something that I will never in all my life forget. As the words of those who attended came to an end. My brother, with one hand gently placed on that precious little white casket and the other hand stretched up towards heaven shared with everyone the goodness of God. What faith!! What courage it took to be able to stand and share with those who were hurting with them. I can't even begin to share the admiration I still have for being able to do that. Which one of us could say that if ever faced with a similar tragedy would be able to do that?? I know at that time, I couldn't. Even today as my relationship with God has grown, I don't know that I could. His faith has always been an encouragement to me...so has Darcy's. She is an amazing woman of God. An example of a wonderful wife, the patience and love of a mother. I adore them and miss them dearly!!!
Major in the arms of his mommy!

Daddy and Major ~ A Father's Love is Priceless!
Darcy and Major ~ She truly is the worlds most wonderful mommy!!

I know that Major is in the presence of God. I know that he will never know the pain of this world or know the burden of a broken heart. I know that eternal life in heaven is far greater than the world that we live in here. But I believe in all of our hearts, we each wish in some way that he was still here. 15 months wasn't long enough to lavish the love we all have for him.

My brother and his wife are amazing parents. Darcy was 12 weeks along with "Rhodes baby #5" at the time and this past April, gave birth to precious Noelle. She is adorable in every sense of the word. Then on October 31th her sister in law gave birth to a beautiful girl Nora. Two new lives in one long year, but I believe in my heart that these lives are part of the balm of healing from God. Though they, or anyone, could never take Major's place, I am thankful for each of these pink bundles of love and live that God has given both of these families.

Miss Noelle Josephine

There is much more to this story, and I will share a few links to "The J-Crew Blog" that Kathy (Darcy's sister in law) authors. You'll be touched to join her blog as well as a "follower". You will also see a link in the sidebar of my blog where you can sign up for email notifications as post are made. If you have trouble signing up, send me an email at: lovedbyhisgrace@gmail.com along with a picture and your email and I will sign you up.

I thank each of you for your prayers for Dave and Darcy and their girls as well as for the "J-Crew" and their new blessing of Nora. We are humbled at the love and prayers we have continued to receive and thank you for those yet to come in the future! I pray that God will bless each of you exceedingly and abundantly and if you have any questions about having your own personal relationship with Jesus, please don't hesitate to ask.



In His Grip ~ Through His Grace & Mercy