Saturday, February 28, 2009

jewels for Cora.

There are so many people that love Jess and Joel and are still hurting for them as they figure out how to live their lives without Cora. My friend Amanda is one of those people. This is from her blog...

I know that nothing I can do will take their pain away. There are people EVERYWHERE doing things for Cora, for Joel and Jess. Almost as if we're all fighting to get her back.
It's hard to explain the emotions and reasons for why we're doing what we're doing....I told her that it may just be the love we have for them. I also told her that when there are no words.....we just act. Because there ARE no words. There is nothing we can say to take their pain away. And we all know that.
So we act. Because that's what we can do.
So because there are no words......we're acting. The Lord has laid it on my heart to use my Premier Jewelry Business for Cora. I helped the Boy Scouts with fundraising a few years ago. I was very happy to do that. Nothing else has come along since then....for me to use my business in this way.

This time it's personal. It's close to home. And this is what I have to give. I knew I couldn't do it alone. So I have some awesome girls helping me with all of it, and more and more girls getting on board each day! The night is about FAR more than jewelry. There will be jewelry, there will be a fashion show with the jewelry and some spring fashion tips....and a chance to buy jewelry, to raise money for Joel and Jess. But there will be more. We want to honor Cora. We want to share her story and allow people to leave a different person than they came. I keep reminding myself that this night will be in God's hands. Big or small....we WILL be able to give to Joel and Jess and we WILL honor and remember Cora on her SPECIAL DAY!

March 5th is the day that Cora would have been celebrating her first birthday. We know this will be a very hard day for Joel and Jess. We know this will be a sensitive day all around. But after getting the blessing from Jess and her mom, we decided that we wanted to bring people together this night. Rather than being busy with our normal, routine lives...we wanted to make this night about Cora. We are asking everyone to continue to pass the invitation to all of their friends and family, and then on and on. We know people everywhere have been praying for our friends. We want them to be able to do something, to come to this event, and be there to help honor Cora and do something impactful for Joel and Jess. If you are viewing this right now, and you are close are invited, whether you got this invitation by email or not. You can leave a comment for me and I can send you an invitation that you can email onto your friends and family as well.

What better way to remember a little princess....than with JEWELS!

Thank you, Amanda for all the work that you are putting into this special night! Jess is so lucky to have you as a friend. And I feel the same way! :)

I know this will be an emotional night. I just finished my first draft of "Cora's story" that I will be sharing that night. I was teary and crying off and on while writing it. Reading it will be hard. But I am so excited to spend this evening, Cora's birthday, surrounded by friends and friends of friends, all who have been touched by Cora's story and the amazing faith of Joel and Jess. They won't be there with us that night, but they will be comforted by the fact that there will be so many people, gathered together, remembering and celebrating the life of their little girl.


We need to hang this sign by the elliptical.

Friday, February 20, 2009

100 questions.

1. Do you sleep with your closet doors open or closed? mine are always open... Corey's are always closed.

2. Do you take the shampoos and conditioner bottles from hotels? sometimes.

3. Are you afraid to fly? no.

4. Have you ever stolen a street sign before? no.

5. Do you like to use post-it notes? yes, but I prefer lists to short notes.

6. Do you cut out coupons but then never use them? I used to... now I've given up on coupons.

7. Would you rather be attacked by a big bear or a swarm of a bees? If I have to pick one, I guess I'd say bees.

8. Do you have freckles? just a couple

9. Do you always smile for pictures? usually.

10. What is your biggest pet peeve? lying.

11. Do you ever count your steps when you walk? no, but I count stairs. Our house has a stretch of 12, then 3. My parents have 3, then 1, then 12, then 3.

12. Have you ever peed in the woods? not for quite a few years.

13. Do you prefer the beach or mountains? beach

14. Do you ever dance even if there's no music playing? Yep

15. Do you chew your pens and pencils? sometimes

16. Favorite reality TV show? I don't really watch any. Sometimes "American Idol."

17. What size is your bed? Queen

18. What is your Song of the week? "Blessed be Your Name"

19. Is it okay for guys to wear pink? Yes, but my guy wouldn't do it.

20. Do you still watch cartoons? Every day. We snuggle and watch "Martha Speaks" from 6:45-7:00 while the kids wake up. Then 10 minutes of "Curious George" while they get dressed. Then 30 minutes of "Max & Ruby" when we get home in the evening... more snuggling on the couch.

21. What's your least favorite movie? I thought "I Know What You Did Last Summer" was really stupid. People getting killed in broad daylight and bodies drug all over the place, but no one seems to notice.

22. Where would you bury hidden treasure if you had some? In the bank. :)

23. What do you drink with dinner? Milk, almost always. With pizza, I have Sprite (I can't do caffiene in the evening) or pancakes... then I have orange juice. Otherwise it's milk. (Unless I'm at someone else's house... I only drink milk at my house or my parents house. It's the only milk I trust to not have been left sitting on the counter too long. That freaks me out.)

24. What do you dip a chicken nugget in? BBQ sauce.

25. What is your favorite food? cheese

26. What movies could you watch over and over and still love? Lots... Corey always says, "How can you watch this over and over?!"

27. Last person you kissed/kissed you? the kids. (Corey's out of town)

28. Were you ever a boy/girl scout? just a Brownie, I don't think I made it to Girl Scouts.

29. Would you ever strip or pose nude in a magazine? Uh... no.

30. When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone on paper? Last week... thank you note. I'm big on thank you notes.

31. Can you change the oil on a car? I used to be able to... thanks to Auto Info with Kelly, Ryan and Rob. :)

32. Ever gotten a speeding ticket? twice. Both when I was in high school.

33. Ran out of gas? no... but Patti and I almost did once... coming back to Emporia after we surprised Meagan at Baker.

34. Favorite kind of sandwich? I don't know if it's my favorite, but I eat a pb & j almost every day at school.

35 Best thing to eat for breakfast? Bagel with cream cheese... lots of cream cheese. (But I usually have a granola bar, pb crackers or a piece of string cheese)

36. What is your usual bedtime? between 11 pm and midnight

37. Are you lazy? I can be

38. When you were a kid, what did you dress up as for Halloween? Batwoman, a cat (Lawson's costume this year), a Pilgrim, a Munchee-chee, scarecrow...

39. What is your astrological sign? Aries

40. How many languages can you speak? just English

41. Do you have any magazine subscriptions? Family Fun, Parents, Better Homes & Gardens

42..Which are better legos or lincoln logs? Legos

43. Are you stubborn? I can be

44. Who is better...Leno or Letterman? Letterman... he was hilarious with Joquain Phoenix!

45. Ever watch soap operas? "Days of Our Lives" in college.

46. Afraid of heights? no

47. Sing in the car? sometimes.

48. Sing in the shower? no.

49. Dance in the car? only for the kids

50. Ever used a gun? nope

51. Had picture taken by photographer? Yes

52. Do you think musicals are cheesy? Not usually

53. Is Christmas stressful? It can be.

54. Ever eat a pierogi? Never heard of it...

55. Favorite type of fruit pie? cherry... Corey's homemade cherry pie.

56. Occupations you wanted to be when you were a kid? Teacher

57. Do you believe in ghosts? maybe

58. Ever have a Deja-vu feeling? Yes

58. Ever have a Deja-vu feeling? Yes

59. Take a vitamin daily? yes

60. Wear slippers? almost always

61. Wear a bath robe? no

62. What do you wear to bed? t-shirt

63. First concert? DC Talk, I think. Two guys from my high school were dancing with them.

64. Wal-Mart, Target or Kmart? Target would be my choice, but Wal-Mart is here in town.

65. Nike or Adidas? Adidas

66.Cheetos Or Fritos? Cheetos

67. Peanuts or Sunflower seeds? Peanuts

68. Ever heard of the group Tres Bien? No.

69. Ever taken dance lessons? No

70. Is there a profession you picture your significant other doing? He could totally be in radio or tv broadcasting... that voice... if you know him, you know what I mean.

71. Can you curl your tongue? yes

72. Ever won a spelling bee? No... I can't spell out loud. I have to see it written.

73. Have you ever cried because you were so happy? yes

74. Own any record albums? No, but my parents have some great ones! "Annie" soundtrack, Kenny Rogers, Raffi...

75. Own a record player? No

76. Regularly burn incense? Never have.

77. Ever been in love? I am now!

78. Who would you like to see in concert? "Casting Crowns," Steven Curtis Chapman, or Chris Tomlin.

79. What was the last concert you saw? I was going to say Styx and REO Speedwagon, but then remembered... it was The Wiggles.

80.Hot tea or cold tea? cold

81.Tea or coffee? hot chocolate

82. Sugar cookies or snickerdoodles? sugar cookies... my Aunt Aletha's sugar cookies, to be exact.

83.Can you swim well? I'm okay... I don't think I'll be drowning any time soon.

84. Can you hold your breath without plugging your nose? yes

85. Are you patient? Usually. Sadly, my patience gets used up at school sometimes and I have very little left for Corey and the kids... working on that.

86. DJ or band, at a wedding? We had a DJ, now I might say band, though.

87.Ever won a contest? Maybe? It wasn't a big one, apparently, though.

88. Ever have plastic surgery? no

89. Which are better black or green olives? I like 'em both.

90.Can you knit or crochet? No

91. Best room for a fireplace? Family room.

92. Do you want to get married? I am already married

93. If married, how long have you been married? 10 1/2 years.

94. Who was your HS crush? There were a couple...

95. Do you cry and throw a fit until you get your own way? not usually

96. Do you have kids? Sophie and Lawson

97. Do you want kids? Obviously.

98. What's your favorite color? blue

99. Do you miss anyone right now? Corey

100. Did you watch Next Great American Band on FOX? nope

If you're reading my answers... let's see yours now! :)


Monday, February 16, 2009

10 days.

Lawson used to come and crawl in bed with us in the middle of the night.
He would come in our room, crawl in between us, snuggle in and go right to sleep.
He would stay for an hour or so, then ask to go back to his own bed.
Not that big of a deal... kind of sweet... but a little crowded.

A couple weeks ago, I made him this little sticker chart.
10 days of staying in his own bed, and we would have a family movie night.
10 days is exactly how long it took him to fill up his chart.
Little rat.

This sticker chart is taking a little bit longer to fill up, though...

my girl.

Directions: Look at the foods below. Circle the foods that are good to eat every day. Put an X on the foods that you should eat less often.

Look closely at the chocolate...

Like mother, like daughter.
That's my girl.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Cora's life has touched thousands of people.
Complete strangers have joined together to help raise money for "Cora's Playground."
Click on this cute pink button to see all the fun things being sold in her memory.


It's wonderful and it's amazing, but it has kept me awake at night lately...

Back in November, I read about this on another blog.
I read that 4500 children die every day due to water related diseases.
I read that 144 billion dollars would provide safe, clean water to the world.
And I read that Americans spend approximately 450 billion dollars each year at Christmas.

So I gave to Water For Christmas and I watched with amazement how a few stay at home moms in Iowa were able to raise $59,000 to provide clean water in Liberia. It was a good cause... a very good cause. But it wasn't personal. It didn't keep me up at night.

Cora's death was personal for me.
I know her mom and dad.
I know her Grandma and Grandpa.
I had held her.
I had been at the hospital and heard how encouraged they were that she was doing better.
It was personal for me.

Many of the people who read about Cora's journey were strangers. Strangers from all over the world. Strangers who read about this little girl... this sweet baby that they have never seen or held or touched... and her story became personal for them. Thousands of people wanted to see her healed. To see her healthy. To see her little life be saved. I know that if money could have cured her, thousands of people would have given whatever they could... just to save this little girl. I would have emptied our entire savings account, without a second thought... if I thought it could save this little girl.

But what about this little girl?

$20 could save this little girl's life.
$20 would provide her with clean, safe drinking water... for 20 years.
$5000 would allow her entire village to stop getting their water from here...

and get it from here, instead.

Thousands of people were devastated by Cora's death.
I was devastated by Cora's death.
Losing one little girl has rocked many of us to our core.
Why doesn't the thought of losing 4500 children every day do the same?
Why did their stories not affect me the same way that Cora's story affected total strangers?

(all photos from charity: water)

Water for Christmas was supposed to end on December 31st.
But for the moms who organized it, the moms who let it become personal for them, the moms who couldn't bear the thought of 4500 children dying every day, it couldn't end.

So 300 voices was created.

I look at the comments... thousands of comments left on Jess and Joel's blog. Even the comments left on my own blog... many from people I don't know. $20 can provide clean drinking water for 20 years. $20 can save a life. We are seeing what can happen when a few people decide to come together and make a difference. A few people... each doing just a little bit... and Cora's beautiful playground will be the result. One person alone couldn't do it. But a few people, coming together, deciding something is important... can make a difference.

So give to "Cora's Playground." Help make this playground be a lasting reminder to the memory of this sweet little girl. Help make this playground be a place her mom and dad can look at and smile, knowing that their precious baby changed the lives of so many.

And if you feel like doing more... doing another small thing, a small thing that when it is joined with other small things, ends up doing big things... donate here. No amount of money could make Cora healthy. No amount of money could have saved her life. But it could save lives in Africa. Joel and Jess have no connection to charity: water, Water for Christmas, or 300 voices. They are not endorsing it or promoting it. This is just me.

Just me, still trying to make sense of all of this. Just me, sharing my thought process and the connection that I made as I lay awake in bed the other night. The connection that if Cora could become personal for strangers across the world, then this should become personal for me. The connection that, as a mother, as a Christian, I should be devestated by the death of any baby. Especially one that is preventable. And the connection that if there is something I can do about it... even just a small thing... then I have to do it.

So I will sign up for 300 voices and I will give $20 each month in honor of Cora. And maybe, just maybe, I will see more lives changed, more lives saved, because of this baby girl.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

blessed be your name.

"My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."
Psalm 139:15-16

Cora's memorial service was amazing. Completely heartwrenching... but amazing. I've heard several describe it as very God-honoring. It was. Truly.

This verse was printed on the back of the program:

"The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away;
blessed be the name of the LORD." Job 1:21

I pointed at it, and through my tears, said to my friend, "This just about kills me."

To read that verse. To think about Jess and Joel's unwavering faith. To know that despite all they have been through... despite the fact that we were there that day to say good-bye to their baby girl... they could still say "blessed be the name of the LORD."

Our pastor read letters that all of Cora's family members had written to her. In one letter, she was referred to as "a little missionary." Her uncle wrote that in the past 3 weeks, Cora changed the lives of more people than he will ever be able to. And she has. The number of comments on their blog has been overwhelming. Comments like this:

"...I don't see any good in this. But, I want you to know, that I am a questioner, a skeptic, when it comes to faith. My life is so good, with healthy children, and a healthy marriage and I cannot have faith like you. I wish I could, and I want to learn from you. If you can still have faith, after the worst thing possible to happen to parents happened to you, I really do believe God's hand is upon you. Please continue with your blog to inspire people like myself, who need these hard, hard lessons to open my eyes. Thank you for sharing Cora with the world, so I could have the chance to learn more about Jesus. I will never forget about your special baby."

Pastor Dave also shared a story about a recent conversation he had had with Joel and Jess. Joel is a farmer. Jess quit teaching to stay home with Cora. They live in the country, miles away from any other houses. There were times they would go a few days without seeing anyone but each other. They wondered about their "isolated life" and questioned how God could use them to influence others.

God knew that Cora could influence the lives of others. God knew that Cora could change the lives of complete strangers. God knew the plans He had for Cora and He knew that Joel and Jess were the parents He needed to entrust her to for that short time. Parents who would love her more than anything. Parents who would trust in Him and trust in His plan, even though it would never have been their plan. Parents who would share their story with the world and share Christ's Love in every blog entry that they made. Parents who could endure the worst thing possible and still be able to say blessed be the name of the LORD.

Every blessing You pour out, I'll turn back to praise.
And when the darkness closes in Lord, still I will say,
Blessed be the name of the Lord,
Blessed be Your name.
Blessed be the name of the Lord,
Blessed be Your glorious name.

You give and take away.
You give and take away.
My heart will choose to say,
Lord blessed be Your name.

I love this song. I've always loved this song.
But I cried all through it.
I will always think of Cora when I hear this song.
I will always think of Joel and Jess.
And I will always admire the fact that they could walk this road and still choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

more tears.

Apparently, I hadn't cried quite enough for today.
I just read this quote that someone left on Jess and Joel's blog...

"Dear Lord, I would have loved to have held my baby on my lap and told her about You, but since I didn't get the chance, would You please hold her on Your lap and tell her about me?"

answered prayer.

I'm trying hard to understand Cora's death.
Trying hard to wrap my mind around it.
Knowing that good will come of it... there will be many people touched, and hopefully some people saved, because of her short life and her parent's faith.

But wouldn't people have been touched by her story of survival?
Her story of how she beat the odds? A story of how our great and powerful God was able to heal her, despite what medical science said.

I read this on a friend's blog...

We prayed for the cancer to be gone. And now it is. She is now perfect. Being held by our GREAT AND WONDERFUL GOD. God did not answer our prayers for Cora like we wanted Him to, but He did answer our prayer to take away Cora's pain.

God is a good God. I keep telling myself that over and over even though it is sometimes so painful to say.

I don't understand.
I may never understand.
But I know that God is good.

I know that He had a plan for little Cora's life. I know that it hurt Him to take her away from her mommy and daddy. I know that He is hurting for Joel and Jess and all of their friends and family who are so devestated right now.

I also know that Joel and Jess will have a greater understanding of Our Father's Love than I will ever know. The pain that they are feeling right now... the unbelievable heartache of losing their only child... is the same heartache that God experienced when He sent His Son to die for us. He sent Him to Earth, knowing the pain and suffering He would endure. Yet He still sent Him... His Son.

How great is His love for us... that He would willingly go through the pain that Joel and Jess are enduring... so that we could live eternally with Him.

cora and jesus.

Cora went to be with Jesus this morning.

My heart is breaking for this sweet family.
I have so many questions.
I don't understand.
Please pray for Joel and Jess.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

bible verse.

I don't think I should let Corey help Lawson with his Cubbies verses anymore.
He practiced with him before I got home.
When I had Lawson repeat it for me he said,

"Love your neighbor as your wife."

Sunday, February 1, 2009

new stuff.

None of it's "new," but all of it is new to us...

We bought this before Christmas and it finally made it's way to our garage loft.
Since it was about 6* most of last week, and the loft can be a little chilly, it's still waiting to be used.

We made a trip to my cousin's house to get this gift...

and came home with this...

and this...

and these...

and these! (Thanks, Pam!)