Friday, March 30, 2012

True enough.

Spring Break has arrived.

To celebrate, Thursday after school we headed to Grand Rapids with the kids. Josh wanted to pick up a few athletic shirts, so we all went along for the ride.

We decided the next stop was dinner at the airport viewing area. Josh and I have been loyal Smashburger fans since we ate there almost every day this past summer.

Walking in to pick up our food, I immediately spotted Richard, the general manager. We got to know him quite well--he always asked about Tessa and the boys, how we were doing, how much longer until we could take her home.

He smiled and looked at me quizzically. I could tell he recognized who I was, but was having trouble placing me.

Refreshing his memory, we engaged in a little back and forth about how Tessa and the boys are doing.

After checking me out and handing me the shopping bag full of burger and fries, he said to me "You know, I kind of recognized you, but you just look a lot less tired."

True enough, Mr. Richard.

There is lightness and joy filling my days, and I will forever be thankful (as well as more rested).

“Joy is the serious business of Heaven.” ~ C. S. Lewis

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


A few years ago, I was talking to a friend whose dad runs a fairly large and established photography studio in this area.

I remember her saying that the invention of DSLR cameras was the birth of a million people wanting to be professional photographers.

I am not one of them:-)

But I must admit, I really like it as a hobby.

Setting up different backdrops, finding fun props, editing pictures once they are taken--all of it is fun to me.

And in true VanderPloeg fashion, a hobby isn't a hobby unless it is an obsession!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Where I am at.

There once was a little girl who played a complicated piece on her violin for a large audience.

The movement was sad and sweet and played with eerie precision, especially for someone so young.

As she finished and the applause thundered through the concert hall, a man in the audience leaned over to his wife and said, “Imagine how much more beautifully she’ll play once she’s had her heart broken.”

I read this story a long time ago, and it stayed with me.

Fact is, I don't like pain.

I don't seek it out or ask the Lord for trials.

Someone told me they specifically prayed that the Lord would allow them to take a portion of our burden.

I found that so beautiful; I could cry just thinking about the sacrifice.

My mom and I were re-hashing her birth today, as we often do. I love turning over key moments and lingering there for a while.

I can remember so much about that day- her first little cry that I waited so long to hear, the resident saying "She is opening her eyes and kicking, Jamie", Josh spelling out her name for the nurse to put on her name card, them tipping her face toward mine and seeing her scrunched up little nose all ticked off that she was born too soon.

Heaven on earth, folks.

Collectively, I felt our community exhale a sigh of relief.

She was here. She could breathe. She would live.

But everything about that pregnancy had been so awful, I had difficulty relaxing.

I felt like, at any minute, the other shoe was going to drop.

Talking to other moms that have been through a very difficult experience, I think the "Ok, I went through this once, Lord, but please don't ask me to do it again" thought is pretty common.

Someone recently asked me if I ever think back to what was happening last year at this time.

I replied that yes, unfortunately, I have the memory of an elephant.

I remember too much-things like laying awake until 3 am, rubbing my belly and talking to a baby I was suffocating. Sitting on the crinkly paper at the OB/GYN as he took every last morsel of hope away. Watching the kids circle through the revolving hospital door, wondering if I was going to leave with her memories in a box.

If there is anything I really struggle with lately, it is fear.

As exciting as it is to think about taking Tessa out and about, there is a huge part of me that is afraid. Like if I can keep her in this little bubble of our house, somehow she will be protected from harm.

I see my faulty logic. My head knows that God has her life under control and doesn't need my help. I was reading through my "I Still Have Hope" blog book the other night and someone had written that God doesn't all the sudden peek over the balcony and go "Holy cow! How did that happen?"

Fear is sneaky, though. It hits at the strangest of times, when I am least prepared for it.

Please don't misunderstand- God has been so incredibly faithful to us. We were carried through the valley. Prayed for, loved on. I can boldly testify that He is good. Before her life, I was proficient at pretending everything was fine. Vulnerability was difficult and I can see the beautiful music that was played through sharing months of sorrow.

The witnessing that would have never taken place without Tessa's story.

But try as I might, I cannot forget the pain and easily push aside the fear that comes with it.

I wish I could wrap this up neat and tidy.

I really do.

These are my wanderings as March creeps into April, when one year ago our world fell apart.

I read this verse today and it seemed so perfect:

He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD. Psalm 112:7

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Friends in Lower places

I often find myself reflecting back on last year at this time.

Maybe it is because Spring is around the corner, her baptism date is set; perhaps it is the little pink Easter dress that arrived in my mailbox that I ached for last year, or the fact that we might actually take Tessa in public soon.

Exciting events I wasn't sure would ever happen.

This past weekend, to celebrate Cara's incredible weight loss (100 lbs!), we went for pedicures.

A few months ago, this same group met up at Cascade Roadhouse for a rousing night of karaoke fun.

Aside from my age disqualification, it is fair to say that I will not be auditioning for American Idol anytime soon.

Josh is an extremely talented musician...I barely feel confident singing next to someone in church. I may or may not lip sync as the pastor strolls by.

Our second group o' girls song was "Friends in Lower Places" by Garth Brooks.

I have always seen it as the bawdy bar song where drunk, happy people link shoulders and sway to the beat, reveling in the low places they are inhabiting.

Strictly referencing the title, this picture represents my friends in lower places.

....and I ain't talking about the establishment.

A friend is one who knows you and loves you just the same.
Elbert Hubbard

Without a doubt, they love me even when life isn't pretty.

When I don't have it all together.

They held my hand through the worst time of my life, and value me the same.

I {heart} these girls, and am so thankful God brought us together four years ago in the baby boom of 2008.

Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Wonderful Weekend

Josh heard the weather report calling for 11 inches up North, so we wanted to get as far as we could get before the snow fell Friday afternoon.

As we approached Cadillac, it started to get slushy. Viewing a car flipped upside down in the ditch slowed our pace to 30 miles an hour.

It was a {turtle} race to arrive, and we finished second (kudos, Dielemans!). Texting on the way up reminded me of the good old days of CB radios during our caravan mission trips to Canada.

Verdict: 19 kids + 10 adults = one of my favorite GWL trips ever.

Pictures don't do it true fashion, I didn't haul out my camera until the last day. I am missing half our group!

The news said there was 10 more inches after this photo was taken.

The GWL crew singing Happy Birthday to Chelle.

Tessa stayed in the room, but had to get into the action in her bathing suit for a photo.

Happy to be in a different surrounding, I am sure!

Spent lots of time in the lazy river

These two are quite funny together.

Spraying I said....horrible photographer that I only got half the picture. UGH!

A great time was had by all.

Apparently, GWL is exhausting.......

This is one of Tessa's favorite toys. I am pretty sure she missed it because she has never been this excited before for playtime!

As Kayden said a tearful goodbye to the room (four times), we promised him we would be back for his birthday in October. It's not going to be the same without the slew of kids to entertain each other, though!

So thankful for these friends and a wonderful weekend of fun!