Catching up

I'm so behind and there is so much to share. We have had a flurry of activity around here and it's been a lot of fun and a reminder of all that we have to be thankful for.

This year we hosted thanksgiving at our house for close to 20 people...for 4 days! It was all week getting ready, cooking, baking, cleaning, setting things up. I thoroughly enjoyed it and we had a wonderful Thanksgiving together with our family.

I just today uploaded photos from the past few weeks. The below one I took on the day Addie turned 11 months, on November 18. Anyone who knows me, knows I'm terrible with dates, but it was right around the time she turned 11 months that she seemed so big to me. And I definitely marked November 18. Not just a little baby anymore.

Hopefully in the coming days, I'll share more of the past few weeks and Thanksgiving.



A note

I meant to share this note I received awhile ago and totally forgot. I came across it today again. A dear friend sent it on November 2 to us. It made me freshly grateful for the body of believers that we joined to, who have stood by our sides and supported us over these past two years.

Thank you, Cara, for sharing your heart with us!

Dear Dave and Heather,

I had so hoped to come by your house today and get this to you as a "real letter," but it appears that is just not going to work. Please forgive the impersonal feel of an email, and know that this is nonetheless heartfelt for being digital!

Below is a copy of a journal entry I wrote a few days after Alivia’s memorial service. I hope and trust that it’s the Spirit who prompted me to share it with you today. I hope and trust He will use it to strengthen your hearts in some small way.
Alivia’s short life continues to bless me so deeply. I hope this journal entry will give you a glimpse into just one way that God has used her to magnify my awe and love for Him and my gratefulness for His Church.

Monday, 10 November 2008

“So then, you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you are also being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:19-22

The truth of this passage struck me on Saturday at Alivia’s memorial service. As I sat in the back of the room, in the sound booth with my husband, I could see all of the dear saints gathered in that room. The Castros’ extended family on both sides, Eric and Lisa Simmons, the Stogsdill family, Erik and Jerusha, Michelle and Jon, Shawn and Dienny, Jon and Jenni, Christy and Shawn Sullivan, Jon Ward, the Hydoskis, the Kauflins, the Ricuccis, Steve Whitacre, Julie Purswell, Debbie Partlow and her mom, Kay, Josh Harris, Kenneth and Valori Maresco, C.J. and Carolyn, Mike and Janelle, the Dabbs, Solomon and Eva, the Lees, the Bangs, Mike and Sarah, Brandon and Annie, and so many, many others.

I sat there, remembering. I thought about being in care group with Dave when I first came to the church, about assisting him in care group a year or two later. I thought about sitting across from him in a greasy spoon on Redland Road and asking him how his courtship with Heather was going, seeing the grin spread across his face. I thought about sitting with Heather and Sohee in the Flower Hill Starbucks when we were all in care group together, talking about Dave and Heather’s marriage, and my brand new courtship.

I thought about Dave and Heather growing up at Covenant Life and the people in that room who knew them as children. I looked at the people around me and wondered what memories were running through their minds—the points where their lives had intersected with Dave and Heather’s lives, the bonds that drew them to come and grieve with the Castros on that day.

There was something so holy and mysterious about mourning together there. Through all of my tears, I could almost see the people as a temple, stones instead of bodies, as the Holy Spirit ministered among us. That day, in those very moments, the building was underway. God was using this terrible, awful thing, this thing that none of us ever could have foreseen or desired. He was shaping us, joining us together, making us worthy to be a dwelling for Him. Amidst all of our heavy hearts, He was there, taking separate and individual lives and binding us together with a mortar mixed of faith and sorrow.

I don’t know if Dave and Heather were able to think or feel much at all that day, but I pray that they were aware of the church gathered there behind them. A Christ-ransomed Bride, Someone—something solid and steady and real at their backs as God draws them forward, toward Him, in glory.

We are still here, at your backs--following you, supporting you as you continue to bless the One who gives and takes away. Thank you for trusting Him to lead you, even through the valley of the shadow of death. Your example gives me faith and courage.

We are praying for you--more comfort, more joy, more peace, more provision. More of Jesus!


Our little strawberry

Yesterday I put a little red onesie outfit on Addie. As soon as Mckenna saw her she said, "Oh mom, she looks like a little strawberry." She could not wait to complete the outfit and kept asking me all morning if she could make Addie a little hat (my artsy girl!). As soon as she had a break in school this is what she did. And, yes, Mckenna even took the picture (with a little editing help from mom)! Here was our little strawberry for the day...






Thank You!

I honestly did not know what to expect this year, in the way of how hard September 26 and November 2 would be. September 26 came and went and I got through it fine. The weeks after were hard. So many memories of having Alivia. Going to pick apples, then pumpkins and a few trips to our favorite orchard are all activities I did with her, so those trips this year were again bittersweet. Last year the pumpkin patch was in a different field, but this year it was back again in the field it was 2 years ago. As I walked along the rows, I thought about the day I carried Alivia in my baby carrier in search of pumpkins with my other big girls.

I had no expectations for this past Tuesday, November 2. I never really know how to answer the question, "what are you thinking for that day?" which my wonderful family is always faithful to ask. So, I'm grateful for my sister who makes the plans for me. She came over with lunch, and while the kids were eating threw a crock-pot dinner in. Later my mom came over as well, taking a half day of work to be with us.

There was one thing I knew I wanted to do, and that was bring my girls to the cemetery. We've been talking about it with them, particularly Mckenna, and where we put Alivia's body. She was anxious to see the place and remember her there.

Later that evening, we shared a meal with my family. At the end of the day, I reflected on it's events and thanked the Lord for how he orchestrated every moment. I could not have imagined a more perfect day!

However, theres more to this year's story. I honestly did not expect many to's just one day out of the whole year and everyone is busy. I know that I have such a hard time keeping track of what month it is, let alone what day! So to receive so many emails this week meant more than I can communicate. Not only that, but a number of people brought over flowers and stopped by. Then yesterday, we were coming home from an errand and I realized I had not checked the mail all week. The mailbox was stuffed full. I pulled into the driveway, and shuffling through it, I noticed there were quite a few cards. As I began opening them, I quickly found myself in tears. Card after card from dear friends, expressing their heart for us--that they were remembering Alivia and desired to contribute toward Alivia's headstone. We had tightened our belts and were waiting on that purchase. I was completely blown away and overwhelmed by the generosity of everyone who had given.

So, it will take me some time to try effectively thank each person. I have not even gotten through the emails. So, I just wanted to write a post, saying thanks to all our friends and family who overwhelmed us with their kindness and effectively communicated the Father's love to us this week. From the emails, to the cards, to the flowers, and the monetary gifts....Words just are so inadequate, but you all make grace so much more amazing to us. We continue to be so grateful for each of you and the way the Lord has used you in our lives in such a meaningful way.


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