Thursday, January 28, 2010

Cousins . . .

Here are my youngest little boy - Ryan (age 3 1/2) and his "baby" cousin, William (age 1 1/2) when we found them cozy in a little tub - sitting together watching T.V. at Aunt Kristi and Uncle Chris' home! How cute are these two??? Ryan enjoys so much having someone younger than him to lead around and play with - since he has always been the Baby around here! It will be fun to look at this when they are both in college!!!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

After a Respite, I am Back to Welcome 2010!

A candle that my parents lit on Christmas Eve in Sherry's memory

After more than a year of dedicated blogging about my sweet family's life, I have taken a respite to reflect on the hardest experience I have ever had to face - the suicide of my little Sister on October 24th of this past year. Both Thanksgiving and Christmas came and went, and I struggled through both of them - just grieving for all that we have lost.

I've spent a lot of time talking with my husband and a couple of very close friends (one of whom helps families deal with grieving all the time through her profession, and another whose husband's sister took her own life in 2004) - trying to make sense of something that will never make "sense". I've spent a lot of time trying to help my parents get through this tradgedy - knowing that no matter what I do, I can't take this horrible hurt away from them. I've spent a lot of time reflecting on my own life, and thanking God for all the blessings I have been given. I've hugged my children tight, and I've been angry with God, my Sister and the world in general - - - that this could ever happen to someone I love SO very much! I've visited with my pastors, with a really good counselor, and I've read books on losing a loved one to suicide. I've searched in God's word for understanding and peace. And over the Christmas holidays, I was able to spend a lot of time with my sister's three children - pouring out all this love on them - and knowing that I would do ANYTHING in the world to bring their Mommy back to them - and us!

New Year's Day every year marks new beginnings, new opportunities, a fresh start and a clean slate. Although I will never be "over" this loss and knowing that I have a long way to go in working through my grief, I am happy that 2010 is here and have vowed to come back to blogging - something that brings me such joy!
So - THANK YOU for all of you who have prayed for me and our family, who have taken my kids to play, who have called, texted and emailed me - often just when I needed it most, who brought me meals every day from November 1st until we left town for Thanksgiving, and who have just "been there" through this time. I love you all dearly and appreciate how people have such individual gifts - that together can make such a difference in our lives - especially when we are hurting!
Happy New Year!!!
A beautiful ornament that my best friend gave me - in memory of Sherry!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Remembering My Sister Sherry - Part Two

As I continue to reflect on my sweet sister's last year or two of life, I came across some more pictures that I would like to share:

Sherry and Rick on vacation - they always loved going down
to the Texas Gulf Coast.

What a beautiful and sweet family - This was two years ago when Sherry and Rick renewed their Wedding Vows. Their children were "over the moon" that their Mom and Dad had made it through some rough times and still loved each other so much!

One of the last pictures that Rick took of Sherry
(in the past couple of weeks) - We just LOVE this picture of her!

The last photo of Sherry with her oldest son, Taylor (age 15)
- in the past couple of weeks

Last picture of Sherry with her younger son, Paul (age 10)

Sherry cuddling with her little girl, Chloe (age 8) in the last week or two before she died. They had just given their dog, Princess, a bath.

That is the best fishing posture I have ever seen!

On vacation with Chloe and Paul

On vacation with son, Paul, and her husband, Rick. (She looks so happy and content here - and she loved her family fiercely!)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Remembering Sherry Ann Rudisell Gonzalez - August 28, 1970 to October 24, 2009

I have experienced the profound sorrow of losing my precious little sister, Sherry, to suicide this past week. There truly are no adequate words to describe how I have felt these past 7 days since we found out that she had left this world to go on to be with her Heavenly Father. At times, the grief is truly suffocating - it feels as if the burden is too heavy to bear. As I searched through some of my digital pictures, I found some beautiful reminders of the happy times that we have had - even in the past few years with Sherry. Although she fought a long and courageous battle with depression, the nature of her disease was cyclical, so there were many very happy memories that we shared. Here are just a few:

Sherry and I on the Disney Cruise - a gift from my Parents celebrating their 40th Wedding Anniversary in 2004! It was truly the most wonderful vacation any of us has ever had!

Sherry was a great - actually a monumental - LOVER of all things DISNEY - but especially Disney World! This is her last trip there - Summer of 2008 (pictured with my daughter, Ashley, her children - Chloe, Taylor and Paul) and our Mom.

More Disney World fun in Summer, 2008!

Sherry and our Mom at Disney World in Summer, 2008!

The whole family - including my Dad - posing with Cinderella after their special lunch in Cinderella's Castle at Disney World, Summer, 2008

Sherry and our Mom at Disney World, Summer of 2008

Sherry and her daughter, Chloe at Disney World in Summer, 2008. Note Sherry's signature Minnie Mouse ears! She always said she loved to go to Disney to relive her childhood! (We grew up in Florida)

In front of Cinderella's Castle - Disney World, Summer of 2008

New Year's Eve, 2005 - After Sherry, her husband, Rick, and Steve and I went out to a wonderful dinner in Dallas!

Cuddling with my sweet Baby Jack - Christmas, 2004

Easter at my Parent's Home - 2007

Father's Day Lunch at Saltgrass Steakhouse with our Dad - 2007

Father's Day Lunch, 2007 - Sherry and I with her oldest son, Taylor

Sherry and her husband Rick, with my youngest baby, Ryan - January,2007 (She was so excited to get a day-pass from her Rehabilitation Center to have a family lunch together)

Sherry's lasting legacy - her three beautiful children:
Paul, Chloe and Taylor

Fun times with Sherry less than a year ago - Thanksgiving week, 2008. I was playing like the "Paparrazi" with my new camera!
She just laughed and laughed!

Celebrating Chloe's 8th Birthday, November, 2008 -
at American Girl Doll Place in Dallas

More Chloe's Birthday Party at American Girl Doll Place - November, 2008 - We had a WONDERFUL time together!

This is the way I like to remember my sweet Sister - smiling and enjoying her family! Although that smile masked periods of grave depression and deep sadness, we will always remember her laugh, her fun spirit, her outspokeness, her passionate love, her commitment to her children and the always special place she will hold in our hearts forever!
We will miss you, Sherry -
but you will NEVER, EVER be forgotten.
Our world is a better place for having you in it!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Be "Christ" to Others - Sr. High Mission Trip '09

Well - it's hard to believe but this Summer marks the 5th Mission Trip that our sweet daughter, Ashley, has gone on with our church, and she had an amazing experience this year! The kids went to New Orleans to help the continued cleanup and rebuilding from Hurricane Katrina . . . 4 years ago!!! There were some logistical difficulties and challenges on the trip, but the kids came away very grateful for how blessed their lives are and a new appreciation for the difficult circumstances that many fellow Americans live in! Here are some pictures of Ashley's trip:

Ashley and 3 of her best friends in the whole world: Liza, Becky and Addie

Our silly girl on the 10 hour bus ride!

Enjoying music - thank heavens for her IPOD!

4 year later - so much of New Orleans was still in complete disrepair!!!

This year the kids had to work in some VERY difficult conditions!

Ashley has become an EXPERT "Sheetrocker" - according to many adults on the trip! Her skills honed over the past 5 years have become in high demand!

Look at her focus!!!

Ashley and her "roommates" on "Tye Dye Scrubs" Wednesday!!!

The Work Team at Ashley's worksite!

The kids also got to relax a little after their long days of work!!!

Fun in the "French Quarter"!

Enjoying Beignets at Cafe Dumond!! - YUM!!!

She seems to be having a little too much fun with those Beignets!
Overall, we are so grateful that Ashley had such a great experience! And we are all VERY happy to have her back home with our family!!! Here's what she put as her Facebook Status upon her return to Texas:
"Home from mission trip. It opened my eyes to the way people live, the hardships people face on a daily basis, and how very blessed I am. I have a whole new perspective on life after this trip. It has a permanent place in my heart, and I will never forget everything I have witnessed and everything I have learned. The Lord our God is good!"
That would make any parent proud!!!
. . . just another day in the life . . .

Sunday, June 14, 2009

What a PUP!!!!

Oh - how I ADORE our Golden Retriever, Wall-E!!!! We adopted him at the end of February, and in 3 1/2 short months, he has WON OVER OUR HEARTS!!!! This little guy is just the BEST dog for our family and we thoroughly enjoy every day with him! He is happy, calm, patient, loving, loyal - and can even put up with little Ryan (our VERY rambuctious 3 year old!)

Running and playing with Mommy in the back yard!!!

"Exploring" in the grass

What a handsome boy!!!

"Okay, Mom - - - you wore me out tonight!!!"

We feel that God really blessed us by bringing Wall-E into our lives! He was adopted from Dallas-Ft. Worth Metro Golden Retreiver Rescue ( and they really got us the perfect fit! He is a TRUE member of our family!!!
. . . just another day in the life . . .