Just Keep Walking

5 tree trail trailhead sign

There is a trail in Vermont called the 5 Trees Trail that I enjoy. It is really hard to find, and rarely is it on trail maps of the area. When you do find it, it appears to be nothing special: you drive through a neighborhood, park in someone’s hay field, and you question if you are in the right place. It is a basic trail through the woods and a first time hiker might think… what is so special about this trail? It’s nothing much, a few boardwalks over boggy parts, some steeper climbs, some twists and turns, but not too many people on it and nothing outstanding in the hiking of it. I always say, keep on walking, just wait…

I have been deep in prayer for a family we knowwho has been walking through the valley of the shadow of death for several weeks now. The time is near when their small daughter will meet Jesus face to face, and when all that they have been living for during the last 5 ½ years is ending. She has been a very sick child many times in her short life. Many times have they walked through this valley, but this time it seems different, death is closer, Heaven seems near.

The path they are on is not easy. Each day, they hold their breaths and wait. Will it be today? Is this the last? Maybe tomorrow. But it will come. Some days it seems like the worst has passed and she will keep plugging, others they wonder will she make it to tomorrow. The fear and uncertainty that accompanies this time is hard to imagine, even for myself who has spent my own time in the valley of the shadow of death.

And the psalmist’s prayer in Psalm 23 is where I find my heart for them.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of Death…

I will fear no evil, for God is with me.


The thought I am struck with is that we are all in the valley somewhere. Something is bringing us down. We are bogged in busy, bogged in work, stuck in a trauma of some kind. We are head down, pushing forward. Some days its okay and the path is smooth and simple. Some days, the stress of the climb is nearly too much to bear.

But my encouragement to them, and to those of you in the valley, is just what I say to my fellow hikers on the 5 Trees Trail. Keep walking. Just wait. It gets better. It will be worth the climb.


On this trail, there are a few miles of walking a narrow path of gentle & not so gentle inclines, including some steep sections that are rocky and rooted. Climb up for awhile and down again, only to go up some more. Kind of like the path of life in times of trouble.


If we go back one verse from the valley of the shadow of Death we see that…

He (the LORD) guides me in the paths of righteousness

For His name’s sake…

GOD is leading us on this path, on HIS path. We are led on the path through the valleys as well as the one near the green pastures, and the one beside quiet waters… for His sake, for HIS glory! We are not alone in the valleys of life. He is still leading us, guiding us, restoring us, giving us rest.

For my friends, the path they are choosing is the path of Faith. Faith in the goodness of God. Faith in the truth of the Scriptures. Faith in the place called Heaven. Faith in a Savior who will hold them up when all they want to do is fall down. Faith in a leading, guiding, loving Father who will show them the way when they can hardly take another step. Faith that His way is the right way, and that the time spent in the shadowy valley is not a place to be afraid, but rather a place to fully put our trust in Him.

On the 5 Trees Trail, after an hour or so of ups and downs in the dark and quiet woods, suddenly you come out of the woods into what looks like someone’s backyard. You question, did we miss a turn? Are we in the right place? Do we walk through their yard? The signs point you on, so the brave continue.

After walking through their yard on a neatly clipped path… You see a bench, and then you see the view that goes for miles. Overlooking the whole of Burlington, Lake Champlain and the upper Champlain Valley area. On a clear day, you can see the Adirondacks of New York, and up into the Champlain Islands. It really is breathtaking. It was worth the ups and downs, the questions, the doubts. The bigger picture is amazing.


While we are in the valleys of our lives, or in the darkness of the woods, stumbling along day to day, we just can’t see the bigger picture God is painting in our times of trouble. We are so stuck in the valley, in the pit, in the act of choosing where to place each simple little step, that the end, the peak, is not something we often stop to contemplate.

But the END is what matters. The bigger picture IS what matters. The little steps we take in faith, one by one by one, get us to the mountaintop, and to that gorgeous picture He creates with each of our small steps of faith.


Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord

And to the house of the God of Jacob,

That He may teach us about His ways,

And that we may walk in His paths.

Micah 4:2


At any point on the hike, we are free to turn around. But if we turn around or go off track we don’t get to see the glorious view from the top. All we see is more of the rocky path, or we get caught on the brambles hiding in the shadows of the valley. If you are in a valley, the valley of the shadow of death, or the valley of fear, or the valley of anxiety over what’s next, do not be afraid. Christ is with you. He tells us that again and again in His Word. His Words is comfort to us, a light to our path, if we only allow him to lead.


Questions of “are we on the right path?” come up frequently when hiking and in life. But just keep walking through the woods, through the fields, through someone’s backyard, and the payoff will be well worth the effort. In the times of unknowing, just trust that something greater than we can imagine is yet to come.

The glorious picture is painted from on high, where He will take us after our time in the valley is done. Only from the mountain top we can see the view, and we can only get to the top by walking the ways of God.






It’s been 10 years….

Cuddling in BedIt’s been 10 long years of mornings since I discovered Cayden, our firstborn son, dead in his bed at 4 ½ years old. 10 years of tears. 10 years of missing him daily. 10 birthdays, 10 Christmases, 10 Easters, 10 Halloweens, 10 years of life he was not able to live. 10 years I was not able to be his mom. And I loved being Cayden’s mom.

IMG_1238He would be 14 ½ now. That is hard to fathom. I wonder so often what he would be like, what our lives would be like. And interesting enough, it is never very different than what it was then. That is how it works with holoprosencephaly. The kids don’t really have a chance to grow up. Their broken brains and broken bodies betray them, not allowing them a chance to do the things most other kids get to do.

Cayden was a bit different though, on the mild side of the HPE spectrum, and he was making excellent progress. He was getting better at using his speech-to-talk device. He was beginning to add weight from better chewing and swallowing, so he could eat more real, calorie-full food. He was starting to figure out how to race around in his power chair. Cayden was getting stronger in mind and body, and we were excited and encouraged at his almost daily improvements.

I perhaps have been quieter on the blog lately, and in general about Cayden, as people might suppose, as his memory fades. But that is not the case. Actually, I probably talk about him more than ever, as his siblings inquire more and are able to hear more and more of his story. I have an outlet for my broken heart and it is into my other kids. Which is just who needs to hear about him most, I think.

Cayden Power Chair 8:6:07

We all still miss him daily and often discuss what and how our lives would be impacted by his 14 year-old boy self still being here. Would we be able to have the other kids in activities like they are now? Or would our days circle around Cayden’s therapies and programming? Would we still be homeschooling? Would we still be able to be active in the things they like? Maybe, maybe not. But we would have other things we like and enjoy that C could do: a bike ride/power chair ride on the greenway instead of a mountain bike trail, running a 5K with Cayden in a running chair, riding the elevator instead of taking the stairs as we go on our homeschool field trips.

Happy Cayden

Things would certainly be different, but I think that at the core, our family dynamic would still be the same, if Cayden was still alive with us, rather than only here in memory. We often comment that he is with us, in his ever-present butterflies, that follow us around. We make efforts to remember him, and think of what he would like about an outing, or event, or just the chatter at the dinner table, to share him and his glow, and his special wing flap, with his siblings.


I want to get real a minute, for the grieving moms out there, for the HPE moms out there who are so, so scared of the aftermath of death. We miss him, certainly, but the horrible, gut wrenching, never-ending pain can and does fade over time, as it has for us, when faith takes over.


But the guilt, and the what-ifs are always there, if you allow them to be, and if you allow the devil to find a crack in your faith. It is a struggle. It is a HARD struggle. He finds your guilt, your what-ifs and makes it seem as if you could have changed the past, just by one simple act. Just doing XYZ, would make things oh-so-different. Just getting a trach. Just having a night nurse. Just dealing with the beeping of the apnea monitors constantly going off.


I have to force myself to remember that those what-ifs, those choices made, were made in great prayer and great consideration at the time. They were the right choice at the time, and no devil on my shoulder whispering in my ear for years, makes them the wrong choice. Perhaps things would have had a different outcome, but we don’t know that the different outcome would not lead to the same finality of death. It’s in God’s time to call us home, after all.


The thing I think about the most, as time has passed and the most soft spot, the most guilty spot, I have is, “Why did I not even THINK to perform CPR on him?”


I have beaten and battered myself up on this. The devil has laughed and laughed and laughed as I struggle with this. He keeps me down as I think about this, replay that day in my head. He brings it up when I miss him the most, when I’m at peace about Cayden’s passing, or when I’m just sitting around.


But my answer, then and now, was this. “WHY?”

What was there to gain?

In my heart, in that instant of discovery, I knew Cayden was gone.

In my heart, in that instant of discovery, I knew Cayden was better off.

In my heart, in that instant of discovery, I knew it was not what I needed to do.


But the years slowly go by, and I still question myself on this.


My response, then and now, is “WHY NOT?”

The why not lies in Faith.

The why not lies in truth, knowing Cayden is in Heaven.

The why not lies in knowing that Cayden was perfectly healed.

The why not lies in knowing that this was to be his destiny from before he was born. it was just a matter of when.

The why not lies in finally knowing the answer to when.


Cayden had a very broken body. His brain was malformed, in my womb, at the earliest stages of pregnancy, due to a genetic translocation. It was not my fault, nor Joey’s, but a design of his Creator. Not only was his brain malformed, but so were his eyes, his ears, his arms, his toes, his digestive system, and what proved fatal, his airway. In other posts, I share all his specific issues, but we knew Cayden was the owner of a perfectly normal soul in a broken, mixed-up body. We knew Cayden was most likely destined to die young, the doctors said he wouldn’t even make it hours past birth if he made it that far, and we were blessed to parent him for 4 1/2 years.

DSCF1307Cayden was the sweetest, most gentle, most happy kid, for having such a non-responsive body. He loved his mama (for food), loved his daddy (for sleep), loved his sister (for giggles), loved his pets (for soft fur), loved his church (for music). He tried so hard to improve and grow and make progress. He wanted to walk, he wanted to eat, he wanted to talk. And he was working his way towards that. Big, big strides were made in January 2007. We were happy. We were so excited for the future, for better days for Cayden.


So when, in that instant of discovery, I found him lifeless, I knew it was the wrong thing to do, to revive him.


To revive anyone after being without oxygen for a period of time, can cause life-long struggles with brain damage. To revive Cayden, who already had a malfunctioning, partial brain… what would that mean for him?

Regression of all the things he was learning, more frustration, more anger?

Regression of his spirit, trapped even more, in an even more broken body?

Any damage to his fragile brain could have taken away even the most basic skills he was learning, and perhaps truly make him the vegetable the doctors said he would be.


I couldn’t do that to Cayden.

In my mama’s heart, in that instant of discovery, I knew.

I knew Cayden my lame child, was dancing with Jesus.

I knew Cayden my mute child, was praising the Lord.

I knew Cayden my wheelchair bound child, had run right up that path to Heaven.

I knew Cayden my broken child, had been fully healed.

I knew God had answered Cayden’s prayer, and our prayers, and the prayers of many faithful prayer warriors.


God called his name, and Cayden ran.




One more thing…. God has an angel that whispers on my shoulder too. At times of grief, it tells me where to find hope. One such verse I have been given is Psalm 21, for 2/1, the date of Cayden being called home. I’m not sure if I have shared it or not before, but it brings me great comfort from Cayden in times of pain. Sunday, I found it again, and again, it brings me peace. I simply replace the references and pronouns to “the King,” to Cayden.

Psalm 21: 1-6

O Lord, in Your strength Cayden will be glad,

And in Your salvation how greatly Cayden will rejoice!

You have given Cayden his heart’s desire,

And You have not withheld the request of Cayden’s lips. 

For You meet Cayden with the blessings of good things;

You set a crown of fine gold on Cayden’s head. 

Cayden asked life of You,

You gave it to him, 

Length of days forever and ever. 

Cayden’s glory is great through Your salvation,

Splendor and majesty You place upon Cayden. 

For You make Cayden most blessed forever;

You make Cayden joyful with gladness in Your presence. 



And Sunday at worship, we sang Glorious Day by Passion . In moments like this, I hear Cayden reminding me that he is ok, and he is in the presence of God.

I was buried beneath my shame
Who could carry that kind of weight
It was my tomb
Till I met You
I was breathing, but not alive
All my failures I tried to hide
It was my tomb
Till I met You
You called my name
And I ran out of that grave
Out of the darkness
Into Your glorious day
You called my name
And I ran out of that grave
Out of the darkness
Into Your glorious day
Now Your mercy has saved my soul
Now Your freedom is all I know
The old made new
Jesus, when I met You
You called my name
And I ran out of that grave
Out of the darkness
Into Your glorious day
You called my name
And I ran out of that grave
Out of the darkness
Into Your glorious day
I needed rescue
My sin was heavy
But chains break at the weight of Your glory
I needed shelter
I was an orphan
But You call me a citizen of heaven
When I was broken
You were my healing
Your love is the air that I’m breathing
I have a future
My eyes are open
You called my name
And I ran out of that grave
Out of the darkness
Into Your glorious day
You called my name
And I ran out of that grave
Out of the darkness
Into Your glorious day
Songwriters: Sean Curran / Jason Ingram / Jonathan Smith / Kristian Stanfill
Glorious Day (Radio Version) lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Capitol Christian Music Group

Look Straight Ahead

It’s been a bit of a rough week. We finished our second back to school week (after a long week & even some Saturday school), with more complaints and lectures than I would like for week 2. We haven’t settled into our schedule for this year yet, and its a rough transition from playing all day at the lake to sitting around doing spelling and math!

View East from Camp Skyland

Our Summertime Lakeside view

Week one went ok, but week two, ugh! Let’s just say I have high hopes for weeks 3 & 4! I’m looking forward to trying again, getting in the rhythm, and resetting after the bumpy week we just finished.

I am working hard at placing God in the forefront of our school. Beginning our day with Bible study time and stories has helped. We all start with some God time (and Mom gets a little mom time), and we just seem to start with a better frame of mind.

Honestly, we/I missed Bible time on Thursday because we decided to do a homeschool day at the local heritage museum somewhat last minute. Our day began a bit earlier than usual, and since we were in a rush, I didn’t take time to sit with God. Then I didn’t on Friday, or Saturday.

It makes a difference, y’all! 

I have felt a bit out of sorts. A bit lost. A bit unsure of where I was headed & why.

Now, to be fair it’s been a bit of a rough week emotionally. Friends of ours are watching their son fight through the last phase of an aggressive cancer. As a mom who has lost and grieves a child, my heart hurts. Hurts for them, for their other son, for their friends, for their son’s many many online followers. I hurt for their future, short term and long.

And this week, I’ve been led to read through Job, of all books. (Revisiting the themes of: Our days and months are determined, All life is in His hands, How do we even begin to ask for healing, and How does He destroy someone He has created?)  I’ve been a bit of an emotional mess, trying to maintain normalcy. That might have something to do with our rocky school week, I suppose. I guess maybe I need to have some grace days for mommy’s moods. Add in a few ‘Give myself a break and just feel’ days.

Cayden & Mom, Mother's Day 2005I just so miss my child, and hate for any other family to have to endure that burden. It weighs on my soul. This child is about the same age that Cayden would be if he were still with us. But this child was happy, healthy, normal… until the rare form of cancer attached itself to his neck. His parents have been fighting hard to keep his life more or less normal, to fight the good fight, but sometimes, God has other plans. Not that the end has been written for us to see yet, but it unfortunately seems that the cancer is winning.

From my perspective, I see that they have been blessed with time to share with their son. Time to say a long goodbye. Time to make and do a bucket list. Time to enjoy him one more day. Time that we were not given. It’s a two-sided sword, sudden vs. drawn-out ends.

At C's Balloon release, Miss Jackie shares the meaning of the Heaven Pillow

At C’s Balloon release, Miss Jackie shares the meaning of the Heaven Pillow

We were saved the choices, the mess, the seeing our child get sicker; we were given instead a sudden and unexpected end. No chance to say goodbye. No chance for a bucket list. No holding his hand at the end. Just an end.

Yes, read the bitterness in my voice. It plain out sucks. No one wants to outlive their child. To miss them day-to-day, everyday. I feel for them and their journey. It won’t be easy or smooth, that I know.

Still, I have chosen, in these past 8 years, in the day-to-day of missing my son, to make a  perspective change, and to look straight ahead. To look ahead to our Heavenly reunion, one that will last for an eternity. I hope to have a few more years before I get to that golden city, but that short wait will be nothing compared to the blessing of an eternity to spend with Cayden and our other children who are waiting there for us.

Straight Path in the woodsLooking straight ahead means keeping God’s words in the midst of my heart, for they are life to those who find them and health to all their body. (Prov. 4: 21-22).

Life and health I need, because grief can overwhelm. I know I still have a job to do here. I’m in the process of figuring it out what exactly it is, but the one thing I know is that I need to keep His Word in the forefront of my days, and in the midst of my heart.

Proverbs 4: 25 – 27 says,

Let your eyes look directly ahead

And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. 

Watch the path of your feet

And all your ways will be established;

Do not turn to the right nor to the left; 

Turn your foot from evil. 

Following the path

Looking straight ahead keeps us on the path God has established for us. To watch the path, to follow His ways, we can’t make a wrong turn.

He tells us in Proverbs 3:21-23 that if we

Keep sound wisdom & discretion, 

They will be life to your soul

And adornment to your neck. 

Then you will walk in your way securely

And your foot will not stumble. 

When you lie down, you will not be afraid;

When you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. 

I’m writing this at 1:20 in the morning. I was not able to have sweet sleep tonight, and felt a pull to come and open my Bible, since I hadn’t this morning. This post is the result. When I’m walking in the way, my feet stay on the path of their own, His own, I should say, and I have a serenity I can’t explain. When I step off the path, I have rocky days, I stumble, I fall, I can’t sleep.

Keep the path. Look ahead, straight ahead. Eternity is not that far away. Make each day count, because you never know when will be the last day you have with someone you love. Make each day count for eternity’s sake.

Keep your eyes lifted to Him, straight ahead, to His heart.




As I wrote this post, my iTunes  was playing in the background. Somehow it was left on from when the kids were watching apple tv this afternoon. I couldn’t figure out how to turn it off, so I just left it playing. As I was typing Proverbs 4:25-27, this song began to play… Amy Grant, Straight Ahead

Straight ahead, I can see your light

Straight ahead, through the dark

Straight ahead, there’s no left or right

Straight ahead, to Your heart. 

Straight ahead. 

I think this is something God wants me to say!



Back to Nature, Back to God

My kids have been at nature camps all week. When I was planning this week in April I thought it would be a great time to get SO. MUCH. STUFF. DONE! A week of a quiet house with no kids! However, I didn’t take into account the travel time, the short day for my little one & how if I left & went home, that left me only 2 chunks of 2 hours each day. Really not much time to accomplish much of anything besides an empty gas tank.

Cowan's FordAs a result, I decided to have my own nature camp! I stay at the park, walk a while, sit in a quiet spot with my Bible & enjoy studying with the sounds of nature as my background music. Right now I’m hearing birds, wind in the trees, crickets (& some distant traffic & airplane noise to round it out). My to-do list really isn’t getting any shorter, but this time spent in nature has been a much needed repite from the hustle of my never-ending list of daily household and homeschool chores.

My mini nature camp has given me some much needed time to reassess my priorities & remember what I’m trying to do and why. To remember for whom I run ragged & what needs to be done to rebalance my life, renew my heart & refresh my reasons for being.

I’ve been spending some quality time in my Bible, wading through some things as I’ve been studying. I’ll eventually share what I’ve been learning with you, after I process it and focus it a bit more. But the main thing I’ve learned, or perhaps re-discovered, or maybe been reminded of, is simply to put God first. Not just first in my life… no idols, no one above Him… but more importantly to NOT make excuses, to NOT just give Him the leftovers at the end of the day by a quick sleepy nighttime prayer, or a short pre-packaged devotion.

Just as we are robbing God if we choose not to bring the tithe to the storehouse, we are robbing God when we place Him after everything else on our schedule. We are robbing Him of our time, and robbing ourselves of time spent with the Creator! What a waste!

We need to give Him the morning glory, the first fruits of our days, then do our chores or schooling or whatever else comes next.

Psalm 119:97-104 reminds us:

O how I love Your law!

It is my meditation all the day.

Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies,

For they are ever mine.

I have more insight than all my teachers,

For Your testimonies are my meditation.

I understand more than the aged,

Because I have observed Your precepts.

I have restrained my feet from every evil way,

That I may keep Your word

I have not turned aside from Your ordinances,

For You Yourself have taught me.

How sweet are Your words to my taste!

Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

From Your precepts I get understanding;

Therefore I hate every false way.


By giving God the morning time, the open Bible at breakfast, we are actually giving ourselves a gift. It puts His word, His law, His commandments in our hearts where we can ponder it all day. How can we meditate on His word all day if we only open our Bibles in the evening? How can we truly understand it if we only think of it for a few minutes before we fall asleep?

If we only pray before a meal, we aren’t praying continuously. If we only read when we have a few spare quiet moments, we aren’t meditating, we aren’t gaining wisdom or insight or understanding that comes from thinking the Word throughout the day.

I have been motivated, inspired, and filled with a new hope and a new joy these days as I have fed myself God’s honey each morning. I’ve found a new direction that I truly believe is His plan for my future. I am full of anticipation and excitement as I start along this path, knowing it is where He wants me to go.


I hope you will join me as I eagerly take the next step,





Cayden’s New Life… 28 Days of Cayden, Day 28

Wow! We made it to Cayden’s birthday, with only a little stress. This normally chaotic and stressful time, was definitely eased by this journey of sharing. I hope I have blessed you with my stories, and helped you to see that ANY life is worth living no matter how short, or how challenged, or how trying.

DSCF1777Without Cayden, I would be a different person. Not sure I know quite how, but I am sure my life would have taken a different turn. Like I shared in yesterday’s post, if he had been born ‘normal’ I might be a working mom, running from place to place, trying to juggle the activities and sports of 3 kids, while I did theatre design work on the side. If he had just died in utero, I might have been changed, but differently than I was by getting the blessing of spending 4 ½ years with Cayden. If he had not died, and still was with us, my life would still be changed, but perhaps not as much as I might imagine. It’s hard to tell.

I try not to think about the ‘What-if’s?’ too often as they can bring despair and unbridled grief. Last night, I had the ‘Why-me?’s along with the ‘What-if?’s and it isn’t a pretty place to be. It’s tearful and heart wrenching, that act of looking backward, and doesn’t really help my soul. So instead, I look forward, as we are commanded by the Lord in Isaiah 43: 18-19: “Forget the former things; do not dwell in the past. See, I am doing  a new thing!”

So I am continuing to walk along this new path that God has set before me, doing my best to follow his lead. Some days I get off into the brambles, and I pay for it with some spiritual ‘poison ivy’ that I might have avoided if only I had been obedient. I strive to use God’s Positioning System for my life, allowing Him to have the stress of leadership, while I am His compliant servant. It is a challenge for me to be compliant, that’s true, but I’m working on it.

So this is our ending place, for now. I need to close the memory banks & photo books, to allow my heart to heal again. It’s been a month of raw emotion, of remembering the pain, the stress and the joy. There is much more to say, but that can wait for another time.

I want to close my series with a poem I wrote many years ago, when the wounds were still raw, and the pain was almost too much to bear. I wrote it for Skylar, to try to ease her pain, and to explain to her why it was okay that Cayden was gone. Ideally, this will someday become a children’s book, perhaps with my own illustrations, but until then, I feel that I am healed enough to share it with the small world of readers I have here on my blog. No eyes but my own have seen this until now.

Enjoy, and know I appreciate your prayers, your praise is humbly accepted but unnecessary, as I know I am doing His work, by sharing Cayden with you.




Cayden’s New Life

Skylar asks me, “Mommy, why did Cayden have to die?”

I answer, “I don’t know, dear, only God knows really why.

I know only He knows how our lives are going to change,

But it’s Cayden’s life that’s different now, in so many ways.

Here on earth, our Cayden, he couldn’t do a lot.

He couldn’t hear, he couldn’t walk, and he couldn’t really talk.

Cayden spent his days mostly strapped into a chair,

Waiting for us to push him so he could move from here to there.

But now, up there in Heaven, Cayden gets to run and play!

His legs work great and he can sing & dance the day away!

Here on Earth, our Cayden, he couldn’t really eat,

He needed all his food pureed into a mushy meat.

Now he’s tasting Heaven’s food, (I bet it’s oh-so-good!)

Everything is wonderful and he can chew it too!

When he was young, your brother, he saw things pretty bad,

The sunlight hurt his eyes if he forgot to wear a hat.

Now he sees the crystal city and streets of gold — so bright!

There is no sun in Heaven, because Jesus is the Light!

Cayden was born deaf, you know, he couldn’t hear a thing,

But now, in Heaven, he is always hearing angels sing.

Cayden couldn’t speak well, only said a few small words.

He needed a computer to make his thoughts be heard.

In Heaven, Cayden’s voice, I’m sure, rises high above the rest,

Singing praise to Jesus Christ the King in total happiness.

On Earth, your brother Cayden often had a lot of pain.

We did a lot to help him but he often cried in vain.

In Heaven, Cayden cries no more and he feels no more pain.

He never has to die again, or face any more strain.

I know you miss your big brother, we all miss him too.

I miss his smile, his giggle and his sloppy kisses –ew!

Now Cayden is with Jesus, and his body is brand new!

He finally gets to do the things he never got to do:

He gets to sing, he gets to dance — in freedom and in praise

And we will get to see him soon and forever spend our days,

With Cayden and with Jesus, our Holy Savior, Christ,

If only we believe in Him and ask Him in our lives.

Then we can go to Heaven too — for all eternity,

And we can live forever there — a happy family.”

By Shira Arnold

C. 2008

The Boulder… or is it Barbed Wire?

So I’ve been quiet lately on the blog. I know its not new, I haven’t really gotten in the groove of finding a good time during my week to write, or to exercise, or to have alone time with God.

WorryIt seems I haven’t really gotten into a groove on anything yet in this homeschooling world.

I’m feeling a little defeated here lately. Well, more than a little.

To be quite honest, I’m feeling crushed in more ways than one.

My feelings are hurt, my heart hurts, my soul hurts.

I know that homeschooling is the correct path for our family. I know that without a doubt. I didn’t ask or expect that it be easy, that was never part of the deal. But I didn’t expect it to be so soul crushing, so often.

D told me today, that he just wasn’t one of those kids who do school. HUH? I didn’t (and don’t) know how to react to that. I have always been the kind of person who loves learning, reading, and trying new skills. Why my kids wouldn’t feel the same confuses and baffles me.

But although the sentiment baffled me, it didn’t surprise me. We have been struggling to do any school type things. He doesn’t want to do worksheets. He doesn’t want to write. He doesn’t want to put the work in to learn how to read.

It’s been frustrating because he is so smart that he can (and does) learn so easily, but to hear this from Devin, hurts my heart. It tells me that what I am doing with him for school isn’t right.

I feel like I have been pouring my time out into planning, researching, scheduling, etc. and nothing seems to really be working. All my kids want to do is play: dolls, house, kitchen, games. You name it, they’ll play it! But they won’t play those things if it’s school, if it’s planned or scripted. I just can’t seem to find the special motivating words to get them to do their actual work.

I’m on the who-knows-how-many schedule revision and hope it will work, that is, if I can get anyone else to pay attention to it. I plan and plan and plan and still, 3 days into the week we are so far behind it frustrates me so much!

Why?!!! What am I doing wrong? I know I want this process to be fun. I want it to be more than sitting at a desk all day. I want it to be learning as we go and on the go. But getting to that, to where I am ok with that, to where I can find a program that jives with that, is very frustrating and heart wrenching and soul crushing.

Perhaps (certainly actually) it is the work of the enemy, trying again to get me to waste time and be frustrated, so I give in, so I quit altogether. He attacks what is good and right. So I guess I should be flattered with the attack.

But it’s hard to keep waging that war day in day out.

Today in my not-often-enough prayer time, I found this passage that spoke loudly to me.

Isaiah 8:11

God spoke strongly to me, grabbed me with both hands and warned me not to go along with the people. He said:

 “Don’t be like this people

     always afraid somebody is plotting against them.

Don’t fear what they fear.

     Don’t take on their worries.

If you’re going to worry,

     worry about The Holy. Fear God-of-the-Angel-Armies.

The Holy can be either a Hiding Place

     or a Boulder blocking your way.

The Rock standing in the willful way

     of both houses of Israel.

A barbed-wire Fence preventing trespass

     to the citizens of Jerusalem.

Many of them are going to run into that Rock

     and get their bones broken,

Get tangled up in that barbed wire

     and not get free of it.”

Boulder ReedyCreek 13Wow.

Maybe that doesn’t speak strongly to you, but when it began and immediately ‘God spoke strongly,’  I sat up and listened.

I think my need for a set curriculum and a checklist is my boulder standing in the way of our success. It is the barbed wire that I am tangled up in; it is breaking my spirit if not my bones.

I need (and my kids need) routine. We also need a bit of freedom. We really need freedom within the routine, to play, to be free, to be kids. And I need the freedom from the checklist of what schoolwork still needs to be done today.

The Rock of the Curriculum Giant, is firmly in the middle of our path. It is blocking the way of our school success, and I suppose I need to move it aside. It is hard for me to even admit that I need to set it aside. That it isn’t working, but it’s not.

It’s hurting our relationships. It’s hurting our friendships. Its hurting our daily lives. It’s damaging our family.

But is the need to set it aside, just a smoke screen for Satan to get his hands on my planning mind again? To get me to once again, start over with the plan? To waste more time on trying to figure it out?

I don’t know the answer… I don’t know the next step. But I trust in Him and His plan for our family, I just need to find it!

Wait with me and see how I can free myself (with God’s help) from this particular barbed wire so we can continue down God’s Path.


Remnants of a life…

So I haven’t posted lately as I actually HAVE been painting! I have finished the work in the kitchen, as well as a long-delayed glazing project in the dining room which we use as the office. All the trim in these areas has a fresh coat of bright white paint too & it looks lovely (if I do say so myself!).

I have also begun the painting and organizing of the school room. It is about half finished so far (2 walls complete). But I am having a bit of difficulty with the other two. Yes, I need to run to the hardware store and pick up another gallon of my favorite ‘Crumb Cookie’ cream to do the base coat. Yes, I need to move the big 6’x6′ cube unit to do behind it (or maybe not!)  But it is one last little bit that is getting to me.

I really need to remove the last few things that made this room, Cayden’s room. Only his race car clock and balance ball holder remain, (along with some random VBS art projects). The clock no longer works, (it never did work well), and it doesn’t match the new colors. The balls just are huge and need to go in the garage. They are dusty and somewhat sad, but I just can’t quite bring myself to take them down.

These two things are the last bits of what made this room Cayden’s. This room was a huge reason why we bought THIS house. It is actually a ‘formal living room’ space, but it is on the side of the house by our bedroom. It was a major deciding factor (along with one story, wood floors, and flat driveway) that we needed to care for C. We needed a room close to us so we could get to him quickly at night. He would awaken and need re-positioning several times a night because he physically couldn’t roll himself over. He would cry out, we would trudge in, roll him over, and then he would snooze happily on his other side. It was a bit of a drudgery to be sure, but what I wouldn’t give to still be doing that!

It is a hard balance to find, the life of the grieving mom. I miss my son terribly, and hold onto the little bits that remind me of him. As time passes, I am able to make changes, but as each little thing goes away, it seems to send him further into the recesses of my memory. And THAT is sad! I don’t ever want to forget him, even the slightest bit!

So, you may ask, why bother to remove the non-working clock? Just leave it as for sentimental reasons. And I have, for 5 years. But I know NOW is the time to make the effort and put it away.

My heart tells me this verse, when I get too weary or find myself wallowing in grief brought about by change…

Isaiah 43:18-19
This is what the LORD says–
“Forget the former things; 
     do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!…
     Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? 
I am making a way in the desert 
     and streams in the wasteland.”

He is doing a new thing for me! He is making a new path for me, for our family, a path with streams in the desert. He is healing my grieving desert soul with Living Water! Each time I feel parched, I need to remember to just take a long drink of His refreshing Word!

I know that Our new thing, is the path leading to homeschooling. This last year, I felt like our path was like walking at dusk, or maybe the time right before the dawn. Not totally dark, but not fully in the light either.  Just feeling my way thru the twisty-turny path of the school year. This year, I can fell already, will be brighter, better planned, and more easy to navigate. I pray it will be more lie the sunrise, full of great excitement and colorful days.

The re-purposing of Cayden’s room is part of that new path. Even it’s name is changing. Since we moved in, this room was just “Cayden’s room.” Even after he died, and it became my craft and scrap room, it was still “Cayden’s room.” Now, as we talk, it is slowly becoming, more and more often “The School Room,” rather than “Cayden’s room.” And that makes me sad. Another way C is fading away…

But God’s word in Isaiah lifts me up. It tells me that I should not dwell on what WAS, instead to look at our life NOW and our NEW path, with understanding of the new things HE is creating for US.

He is the creator of all good things, so this too, is destined to be good. I have faith in his purpose for me, if only I follow his path, which this week, is a bit in the desert but a desert where there is a refreshing stream, if only I stop and drink it in.


Cayden's room window Cayden room back wall

This is Cayden’s room as it was when he passed away.

school room School room back wall

These are the school room at the beginning of my re-organizing/redecorating project (what a mess!) I’ll post an after picture of the school room when we are complete! Look for it!

Sideshow Distractions

So I ask you to bear with me as I stumble my way through the growth pains of being a beginning blogger. I am trying to figure out my look, my site, my font, my pictures! Trying to figure out how often to blog, when to find time to do it, what to write about… and on and on! 

One thing I am NOT trying to figure out is my reason for blogging. I feel that I have been purposed to share my mis-steps as well as my secure steps. As they come. I have been feeling that my fear, or insecurity, or caution, whatever you might call it, for this blog is really coming from the wrong side of the gully. The side I certainly don’t want to end up on. The gully I don’t want to fall into. I have learned that when faced with great opposition, I must fight through because the harder the fight, the greater the reward. 
The view for the newly chosen header is from a spot in the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains. It was a short but steep hike up the hill. A hike full of 6 whiny, hungry children under the age of 7. A hike that should have leisurely taken about 20 minutes, but after water breaks, snack breaks, potty breaks, and sitting on the ground with not-moving toddler breaks, it must have been closer to an hour. Then, when we were almost at the top, the kids were more captivated by climbing a cool rock formation in the woods than the view. 
But kids, we said, “Just wait! Come over here and see the view! What a sight to see!”
Eventually we got most of them to look over the edge, to give us a quick “Wow!” before they went back to the rocks. They were not impressed or particularly interested in the view. They were just too tired and too young to realize that the end goal was the view at the top, not the rocks. They didn’t care. They just wanted to go back down and find some chicken nuggets. 
I was frustrated, and a bit perturbed. I wanted to go a bit further and see some more cool views, some interesting trees, and find the items on our nature scavenger hunt. I wanted to enjoy the gorgeous day. But once whininess began (x6), it was a rolling snowball that led us all straight back down the hill to try to find some peace! 
I wonder if that is how God sees us sometimes. Really we shouldn’t wonder, but KNOW that God sees us like those whiny toddlers. We might be SO close to reaching the goal, the great reveal of ALL He has planned for us. 
“It’s within your reach, just a few more steps!,” He says. 
But instead of pushing aside the branches and really SEEING the view, we are distracted by climbing the nearby rocks. Rocks are cool, rocks are rewarding, but rocks are NOT what HE had intended for our lives! HE intended for us to find the endless vista, along with joy in His beautiful creation, and the pride of reaching the summit. Instead, we are satisfied with what we have accomplished on our own, lacking the desire and the faith needed to take those few extra oh-so-important steps to reach the amazing things HE has planned for us!
How CAN we stay straight and true, keeping our eyes on His path and reaching the summit HE has intended for us, rather than the less lofty goals we set for ourselves? By endlessly pursuing and searching within His guidebook, our GPS for life, the WORD of GOD himself; by reading the Bible daily and taking directions from Him.
Proverbs 4:25-27 (MSG) says it like this: 
     Keep your eyes straight ahead,
           ignore all sideshow distractions. 
     Watch your step, 
          and the road will stretch out smooth before you.
     Look neither right nor left;
          leave evil in the dust. 
Don’t find yourself climbing on the rocks and missing the vista. Don’t look left or right. Don’t stop too many times for water, or potty or playing-in-the-dirt breaks. Those are opportunities for evil to entice us to dally, to make us forget the goal of the summit. 
I want to find my way to the top along a smooth path, and that means getting rid of distractions and keeping my eyes straight ahead. Moving directly towards HIM. I am certain that the vista He is planning for me is much more than I can imagine. Your vista is amazing too, so take that first step, in faith. 

Fighting the Battle

the battle is not ours

Well, well, well. I suppose I need to eat my words from the other day, but yesterday was a pretty good day of homeschooling! (I did not have time last night to post, but forgive me, I was in a state of bliss and wanted to enjoy it!)

We actually finished school by 11 am! Yes, you read that correctly! We were done BEFORE lunch! It is only about the 2nd time since we started homeschooling last fall that we have actually had a pre-lunch finish time. Amazing. Why? You ask. What was different? You ask. How DID you do it?  You ask.

Let me tell you! It was not my fabulous motivational skills. It was not any fancy medication. It was merely a small bribe of going to spend the afternoon with Grammy and Papa, but ONLY if she finished her work before Grammy came (intending to get the younger child). Then, ONLY if Grammy said it was okay, could she switch, and have the one-on-one playdate reserved for her little brother.

What motivation! She worked, she sat, she read, she did her math in 10 minutes! Wow! It is amazing what she can accomplish in a short time if she is motivated and willing. A few distractible moments were quickly stifled by the warning… “No Grammy if you don’t finish!”  She got thru the whole day’s guide in less than 2 1/2 hours (except for her independent reading).  I was impressed! She brought her reading to Grammy’s and they read about Christopher Columbus together, giving me a bit of a break!  It was a nice and peaceful afternoon with the little one alone!

I must say, after my last ranting (see: The Ugly Homeschool), I spent some quality time with the Lord in prayer.  I have been praying Psalm 6 over our homeschooling, and will continue to do so until these growing pains are lessened! I do believe it is helping, today was a much smoother day as well, though not as smooth and easy as yesterday, we did get a lot done, and even had time for art! Yay! (I’ll talk more about the ins and outs of the days and our curriculum on the other pages).

I’d like to share Psalm 6, in the Message version, with those of you who need some encouragement in your homeschooling day. This really spoke directly to the heart of my soul last week, so perhaps it will help you as well.

Psalm 6


Please, God, no more yelling,

     no more trips to the woodshed.

Treat me nice for a change;

      I’m so starved for affection.


Can’t you see I’m black-and-blue,

     beat up badly in bones and soul?

God, how long will it take

     for you to let up?


Break in, God, and break up this fight;

     if you love me at all, get me out of here.

I’m no good to you dead, am I?

     I can’t sing in your choir if I’m buried in some tomb!


I’m tired of all thisso tired.

     My bed
 has been floating forty days and nights

On the flood of my tears.

     My mattress is soaked, soggy with tears.

The sockets of my eyes are black holes;

      nearly blind, I squint and grope.


Get out of here, you Devil’s crew:

     at last God has heard my sobs.

My requests have all been granted,

     my prayers are answered.


Cowards, my enemies disappear.

     Disgraced, they turn tail and run.

Wow! When I found this, it was as if I had written it.  Isn’t it amazing when God speaks so directly to our hearts?  I was feeling so black-and-blue, so beat up by this process, so tired of the fighting!  Reading this I saw clearly that the fight was not between myself and my daughter, but between the Devil’s crew and God’s Angel Armies.

I truly believe that the enemy does all he can to squelch our desire to homeschool (at least he does to me) by giving excuses, making extreme challenges, creating paperwork nightmares, and forging discord in general.  I suppose we are an easy target for him, working to spread the Word into the hearts of our children, talking about God daily and purposefully, making it clear to the world that we are following His path.


That’s right — you don’t go off on your own; 

     You walk straight along the road He set. Psalm 119: 3

I just need to remember DAILY that I am NOT on my own, I am walking on HIS road, that HE set in place for US!  And I know full well from my hiking & geocaching experiences that going off the path can lead to disaster (and a nasty case of poison ivy!).

So after finding Psalm 6, I spent some quality time praying it over and over. Then, I added my new favorite song into my devotions, Whom Shall I Fear? [God of Angel Armies], by Chris Tomlin.

A snippet of those lyrics…

Whom shall I fear? 

You crushed the Enemy 

Underneath my feet

You are my sword and shield 

No troubles linger still

Whom shall I fear?


I know who goes before me, 

I know who stands behind.

The God-of-Angel-Armies is always by my side.

The One who reigns forever,

He is a friend of mine.

The God-of-Angel-Armies is always by my side.


And NOTHING formed against me shall stand

You hold the whole world in your hands.

I’m holding on to your promises.

You are faithful, You are faithful… 

I just need to remember to stay centered on the road He has set before me. To feel the presence of the One who goes before me, and the One who stands behind. The One who is my Sword and my Shield. The One who reigns forever, who is a friend of mine. He wants us to thrive, and I must believe that we are succeeding, otherwise the Devil and his crew wouldn’t be fighting so hard to overtake us.  I choose to battle them, NO wait! I claim the knowledge that the One God and His Angel Armies, will battle FOR me. He is faithful, and NOTHING formed against me shall stand!


That is overwhelming to imagine, the unseen realms fighting over our little-bitty, brand-new homeschool.  I feel immensely loved and treasured to know it matters that much to God, and to the Devil, that they BATTLE over us.

I pray that you also will find this to be the case for your homeschool and life, because He battles for you as much as He does for us! You can pray the words of Psalm 6 and find hope: 


“Get out of here, you Devil’s crew:

     at last God has heard my sobs.

My requests have all been granted

     my prayers are answered.

Cowards, my enemies disappear.

     Disgraced, they turn tail and run.”


I pray that this knowledge will bring you the undeniable sense of hope and peace it brings me!

God and His Angel Armies fight for YOU!


We Did It!

trust leaf

Well, after a day filled with computer chaos, we are officially a homeschool! It was obvious from the start this morning that this was NOT what the enemy was wanting, and he was going out of his way to make it difficult for me to fill out my application online.

Our main computer crashed, perhaps for good yesterday, and so I am working on an ancient eMac the kids use… old, out of date, shaky, but better than the ‘will not even turn on right now’ desktop. But it is so old, I cannot print from it, so I am scrambling to find a way to print and fax the required documents. I searched a good part of Saturday to find my diplomas, and this morning could not find Joey’s again! Then I find them and can’t copy them… I am out of ink! Finally getting them copied, e-mailing the link to my dad to print, running to his house, to Joey’s work to fax, then having fax issues… what a mess! But it went through, we got our official school number (along with a do not delete this e-mail you will not get another!… but I can’t print it…agh!) so we are official!

But, let me rewind a bit… Besides the paperwork proving you have at least a high school diploma, another major step in setting up a homeschool is picking a name… what exciting pressure! But you cannot change it, once chosen, you are stuck with it til you close your homeschool or your kids graduate!

I wanted to be sure the name was right, so I have been spending some time in The Word, looking for His direction on what we should call ourselves. I began by following the advice of a recently purchased plaque showing Proverbs 3:5-6:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He shall direct your path.”

So my reading this past weekend has centered on the word PATH and I was a bit awed at how many times the Bible uses the word, usually to say “God will direct our path,” “God will make our paths straight,” or “The way of the fool is a crooked path.” I felt that as we have chosen this somewhat winding and perhaps challenging path for our lives that it is truly HIS directions which we are following.

The other word I have been led to is WAY. “He will direct our ways” seems to be about as frequent as “He will direct our paths”… contemplating on the different nuances of meaning led me to a reference to Jeremiah 6:16:

“This is what the LORD says:
          “Stand at the crossroads and look:
               ask for the ancient paths,
               ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
               and you will find rest for your souls.”

This was the exact verse God had shown me months ago when in prayer over whether or not to homeschool! How amazing is our God! When we forget, He doesn’t. He reminds us loud and clear.

Going back and forth between Good way, Good path, God’s way, God’s Path, Nature’s Way, I was struggling. I almost settled on Nature’s Way Academy, not saying out loud but instead whispering quietly that God is nature and we are following his way… But while Googling some of these options, I was unsettled. Many of these names were associated with holistic healing, vitamins, or other things.

Even after all the readings on God directing my path, I was still wavering on whether or not to check the box that said we are choosing to do this for religious reasons, almost settling on not (and hearing the enemy giggle with joy). But reading my Prov. 3:6 plaque again “In ALL your ways acknowledge HIM”, He made it clear that I must let our light shine, rather than hide it under a bushel. Our homeschool needs to acknowledge Him in both choosing to be a religious based school, and in the naming of the school.

A little more Googling and the name was clearly shown to me: God’s Path School: GPS. We as a family love to Geocache, (following nature trails using our GPS to find small treasures.) It just seemed to fit perfectly. Then God’s Path School became GPS became God’s Positioning System… I love it! Because that is what we are truly doing… following God’s Positioning System to lead us on the path He has laid out for our lives to find His Eternal Treasures! And what IS God’s Positioning System? The BIBLE, of course!

So out loud I say the words of Psalm 119:35:

“Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight.”

Welcome to Our GPS Blog, where I hope we (and you) will find rest for your souls! May our homeschool be blessed, our path clear, and our hearts joyful, as in ALL our ways we acknowledge His Word as our true GPS while we store up our treasures in Heaven.


(originally written 7/30/2012)