Thursday, October 28, 2010

October 2: From Asheville, NC to Winston-Salem, NC


Well, we made it to my sister Mary's home this evening in one piece, and after two nights in two hotels/B&B's, it's nice to be in a home again. Before we got here, we sure had fun at the Biltmore "House" and "garden." Yeah, that's the understatement of the year. Prior to hitting the Biltmore, we enjoyed a wonderful home-cooked meal for breakfast at The Sweet Biscuit Inn. After breakfast, the owner, Robert, took Ali on a little expedition in the front yard looking for 'critters.' Her uncle Mike the herpetologist would have been proud! They were plastic critters, but I taught Ali the difference between poisonous and non-poisonous snakes, and we determined the difference between snapping turtles and sea turtles. Good fun!

Once it was time to leave the beautiful Sweet Biscuit Inn, we headed for the Biltmore Estate, which was just a short jaunt from our B&B. Thanks again to the nurses Kendra and others who are running for Bella, Daylon, Jonah, and Tripp on Saturday in Asheville for putting us up! That was so nice!

Anyway, as soon as we drove into the grounds, I could tell it was going to be magical. The place was simply B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L. I am super mad because I have a slide show with no less than 41 pictures I took and edited, and I can't figure out how to get the code on this page. Grr..... First I tried downloading smilebox, and it wouldn't install on my mac for some reason. Then, I downloaded Slideroll Gallery AV, no dice, and finally I downloaded Visual Slide Show. My three options are to publish to a local folder on my computer, publish to a FTP server, or insert to a HTML page. GREAT! I thought, except they mean an HTML page inside an html editor on my computer, which I don't use, thanks to google's blogspot online editor. FOILED! It's now after 2 am and I am just beat and frustrated.

Someone tell me what is a free slideshow viewer I can use with blogspot? I don't want the slideshow in the sidebar, I want to insert it like a photo or video write in the blog entry. Thanks!

The Biltmore was wonderful. The gardens captivated me. I have really fallen in love with:

1) photography, and
2) simple things

My brain lacks the ability currently to grasp complex things. I find beauty in simplicity these days. The sky, a tree, grass, falling leaves, flowers. Not a day goes by that I don't stop and marvel at one of these things. It reminds me of God's promise to Noah when He sends Noah a rainbow. I feel like all these objects in nature are like that rainbow. They are God's messages saying, "Hey, I know you are hurting, so I sent beauty to surround you wherever you go. All you have to do is look for it."

It's that second sentence where a lot of people get tripped up I think. Folks, the beauty IS all around you RIGHT NOW, it simply requires effort on YOUR part to look for it. It is not handed to you. You can walk down the street looking at your feet or the concrete and never notice the sky. You can put on your ipod and miss the sound of wind chimes singing to the whim of the breeze. You can dart home from work every day as fast as you can and miss the beauty of a tree-lined side road that is simply glowing from falling leaves.

At one point, I crossed simply the most beautiful set of wind chimes while we were in the garden store. They were nicknamed, "The Stratavarious of Chimes," and they were simply hypnotic. I couldn't stop playing with them; they sounded more like quartz toning bowls than wind chimes. They were also GIGANTIC. Amazing, soothing, deep, rich tones emanated from this chime. It was like the sound of heaven for me. I could hear Bella in the hum of the harmonious tones vibrating gently into my very soul. It made me really sad, and I needed to sit down and grieve for a little bit, but the pain had a beautiful, almost exquisite quality to it.

I was healing.

Just a little.

I'll take it.

Can't wait to meet all y'all who are comin' to the shindig at Bolton Park in Winston-Salem tomorrow. I am too tired to continue. Remind me tomorrow to tell you more about Mary's awesome family, okay?

God night.

P.S. Important info regarding memorials... start times have changed everywhere except here in NC:

TX: 5 pm on Tuesday Nov. 2 ???
AZ: 5 pm on Friday Nov. 5 (hopefully) at The Franciscan Renewal Center ("The Casa")
CA: 2pm on Sunday Nov. 14 at Chapman University Wallace Chapel

Please make a note of it! We are STILL working on locations for TX and AZ, please be patient! It will hopefully be in the north Dallas area in TX and in Paradise Valley in AZ. Thank you for your understanding!

P.P.S. I almost forgot! I will be selling and signing copies of "Bella's Blessings: a Humble Story of Providence" tomorrow at the NC gathering. Books are $20 in person, so take this opportunity to pick one up for you, and one up for a friend for Christmas!

I never get tired of looking at those eyes, do you?


  1. Nope! Her eyes are what got me! Ya know Tim, I think one of the reasons Bella captivated my heart so fully is that in so many of her pictures, she is looking directly into the lens of the camera. It feels like she is look at me! Like she recognizes me! I think that is amazing in itself. Do you know how hard it is to get a baby to look your way for a picture for more than a second, much less straight at the carmera? I've spent countless hours, doing everything I can think of to get my youngest of six months to look at the camera. I swear the minute I pull that camera out, he will purposely look away! Bella definitely knew she had a purpose, and bravo to you and Ang for being perceptive enough to know that your part was to be her "mouthpiece". I would never have known about EB otherwise! Man, I miss that little girl!

    Wishing you peace and healing in your travels!

    Elk Grove, CA

  2. Tim, i still come here every single day. It´s teh first site i oppen after i sit down on my office in the morning. And yes beauty is all around us,but most of us, simply is not looking...we are always worried about everything and we fail to have perception of the realy important things, moments, persons...

    I wish you all the best for your trip and peace for your hearts.

    And those eyes.... their are not eyes...they are a beautifull soul looking at us and teaching us a life them..

    Hugs and Kisses for everyone.

    Sandra Coelho - Portugal

  3. I dont think anyone could eva get tired of those beautiful eyes they are so, so beautiful. I now know what Ang was talking about when Bella pulls her bottom lip in that in itself is to cute for words. I miss Bella so very, very much and I think of your family everyday. Just a quick question how is Ang and Ali handeling and coping with everything?

    God bless and lots of love.

  4. Hi Tim: Just wanted to let you know that I still come everyday to check on you guys and see where you all are now. You guys should really use your sister as an excuse to some visit us here in Spain :) I have used to put slideshow on my blog, it was super easy as I am bacically blog illiterate. I will say that it was about a year ago when I did it and don´t know if it still works but just checked the one that I put up and it is still there so I am assuming it still works. Enjoy the beauty around you.

    Jeni, Madrid

  5. Tim and Ang, our prayers are with you every night and when we go to the Temple every week your names are on the prayer roll, so you have a lot coming your way. My mom and I have followed Bella's path closely since I found out about your site (before MN)and feel that we bonded with her so much although I never met her. I think we moved to Utah before you had her. But I was able to meet Ang and Ali a few times at Chapman. I'm glad that you're still posting because we are concerned about all of your physical/emotional/spiritual welfare.
    When you lose someone close its hard not to want to pull within and close off to everyone being so immersed with the grief. But then you have family to think about and, unfortunately, life has to be lived and plans need to be made. So on the opposite spectrum, its easy to "BE STRONG" and push down the feelings that try to overwhelm you. I'm so glad to see that you're acknowledging the feelings as they come and see the beauty around you and let it help to heal you.
    I know its no quick and easy process because there are times when, all of a sudden, something triggers a deep memory/feeling of Bella. And you have to let it out so it won't consume you. There is beauty in the world and Heavenly Father will put you in places/situations to be healed by this beauty and peace.
    I thank you for posting pictures of Bella. You see her deep soul though those wonderful eyes.
    May you feel Father's peace within and around you as you continue your journey here. Bella's close that I'm sure of.
    We cry and rejoice with you.
    Love, Cathy P and Mom

  6. Well, had a very vivid dream last night. We (the Ringgolds and me) were at a park and there were a bunch of bees. Tim was getting ready to say something profound about the bees when my alarm went off.

    In my thoughts, as always :-)

  7. Good morning, sweet family, and welcome to W-S! We're so glad you're here to spend some time with us.

    Thanks for the reminder about finding joy and contentment in simple things. And thanks for that shining face of your precious evoking, for sure!

    Enjoy spending time with your sister and her family...yet another simple joy. I can't wait to meet and hug you guys tonight.

    With affection,

    A friend in (W-S) NC

  8. Bella was so sweet! I'm one of those that "never really knew her until she was in the ICU." I really have been enjoying the older photos of Bella. What a sweet little princess!

    I also wanted to tell you that I like the close-up of Bella's urn. It is BEAUTIFUL. I mean, that's kindof a strange thing to say, but it really is just so perfect and lovely.

    I'm enjoying your cross-country trek. The Biscuit Inn looks really neat! I hope you continue to have a nice time. Have a nice get-together tonight!

    -Susan in Pgh

  9. Hi Tim: Just checking in to see how the trip has been going so far. It sounds like you guys are really enjoying this time to just be a family and enjoy each other.
    So sorry I can't be there today to meet y'all. Please give Jonah a big hug and kiss for me and tell Patrice and Matt that I said hello. I just love my little EB family and I wish I could meet you all. Love you guys.
    Take care and have fun today in the park. Love and Peace Love Leah's Nana

    p.s. I never will get tired of looking at beautiful Bella's amazing eyes.

  10. I know how you must feel soooo blessed to be with your sister and family! By reading your blog everyday, I feel like I am reunited with your sister! Please don't forget to share about her family...I never get enough and being in NJ I never get to see Mary! Your family has blessed me and become my morning prayer time, so thank you for sharing and with us! Enjoy the time with family...Donna in NJ

  11. Ok. With smilebox, You should've been given a code for using with blogger. When you are in a new post, click the tab that says edit HTML.......paste the entire code there. Then click on the other tab ( I don't remember what it says). You should see your slideshow and be able to continue (so get this. I went to do a new post. Created it. Posted it.....and then realized, my computer still had me signed in with YOUR account, from when I was doing stuff with your flickr photos for Bella's books). Oh my gosh, I had totally hacked your blog with a (darling ) post about Jack! I've never deleted anything so quickly! !
    Bella has always been an old soul to me...those eyes spoke louder than most words. I love seeing the old pictures on here. She is truly wonderful.

  12. WOW - LOVE, LOVE, LOVE today's picture of Sweet Miss Bella!

    Have a great day today at the gathering - so wish I lived closer!
    Tina in NJ

  13. I would be lying if I said that these eyes tell me nothing ... tell me a lot ... is amazing how Bella's eyes can read my soul.

    Tim, I lost my mother last year, was not easy ... is not easy to face another day and know that I will not talk to her on the phone during the day ... as well as Bella's eyes the eyes of my mother read my soul ...

    Every day there is something that reminds me of my mother ... but the urge to cry is huge, but at the same time something to calm me down, it's strange but true.

    As has been said here, if I ever come to Spain to say ... Portugal's neighbor Spain ;-) and would be glad to know you and give you that hug.

    I wish you a safe journey ... God be with you and Bella.

    Sweet kisses for all of you.
    Sandra from Portugal

  14. I love those pictures of Bella, although I must admit that everytime I see a new one I get that pain in my chest and start to tear up... I guess I'm grieving too? Love those eyes, keep them coming!

    I hope today is wonderful for you guys... I can't wait to hear about it and would love to see some slideshows when you figure them out! Will you be posting the memorial on youtube at all?

    Miss you guys! Give Ali and Ang a big hug from me!

    Amanda Schauer (Bryce and Corynn too)

  15. Never get tired of seeing those peepers! So glad you are able to "stop and smell the roses" on your trip! Grant and I are big nature lovers and I love what you wrote about noticing the beauty all around you... it really is there. For example driving on the freeway to work this mornnig, Grant and I were simply in awe of the amazing sun rise. It was pink and fire orange and soooo gorgeous! I thanked God for allowing me to notice such beauty...even in the wee hours of the morning. Praying for continued strength and safe travels.
    Loving you guys from home,
    The Vanderbooms
    P.S. Are you going to do some type of survey to see how many peeps are planning on coming to the CA memorial? I have a slew of friends and family who would love to be there!

  16. I was thinking of you last night as I was making supper. Hoping you all were getting a home cooked meal now and again...wishing you were near so you could share ours. Then you talked of homecooked breakfast and I smiled. :)

    I read your fb update...the one about Bellas Blessings. I want the book. Have for some time. I will get the book. But I just cant read it now. At least I dont think I can.

    I love looking into Bellas eyes. I love just looking at her beautiful face. You have to put the picture of Ang holding Bella with Bellas leg up. I loved that picture when I was doing the scrapbook. Loved it more when Ang said it was one of her favorites. Loved it even more when I got the full story. I love so many of Bellas pictures but this is at the top of ones with her and mommy.

    Wish I could be there today...odd I know since I already met you but I feel like I am missing out on something. Trust me I will be there in spirit.

    Sending my love to all and sweet kisses and bunches of hugs to Ali.

    Denise WI

  17. Tim, I have followed your blog for several months. My heart goes out to your family after the loss of your dear Bella. What a beautiful girl that has touched so many hearts. I wanted to let you know that I use slide shows all the time on blogger. This is what I use.

    It is very easy to use and you get the code that you place in the Edit HTML tab of your blog post.

    Good Luck and God Bless your family.

    Sherri Jeakins
    Bloomington, IL

  18. My feverish kid is sitting with me, so all I can say right now is YAY, you changed the Phoenix time and now I can likely attend! :) And I hope you sell signed copies of the book in AZ too. :) Beautiful photos as always!

    Cara in Tucson

  19. Thanks once again, for sharing your heart with us. You are an amazing family. Love the pics you are sharing of Bella!!!!

    Michelle in KCMO

  20. heaveno!

    feeling so lucky to have had my own personal ringgold time this morning! i feel like i've known y'all forever!! ali is even cuter than i imagined she would be...a real princess :)

    i know y'all are still grieving your sweet bella, but was glad to see in person that you "keep moving" and are living life.

    so excited to say...see y'all in a little while!"

    god bless y'all
    w-s, nc

    p.s. glad you got to experience the sugar cake...just don't tell a certain niece of yours ;-)

  21. Sad about the time change in AZ. Not sure I can make it, but the location (The Casa) looks amazing!

    Love the picture of Bella!

  22. It is KILLING.ME that I am not driving over to NC right now for your meet up.
    I spoke to someone over at smilebox because I could not get it on my mac either... they said there is just a problem with macs and smilebox. period. Looks like someone else gave you a good lead though.

    Hope your meet up with the Williams is amazing. Beautiful picture of your sweet angel. Love her so much.


  23. Personally, I think it's really tacky to turn a memorial event into a book signing/promotion event. Your book is advertised on your blog. Those who wish to purchase it, will.

  24. Bella is gorgeous! Each photo you post for us is just so wonderful. I like being able to see how she looked before she got swollen and unrecognizable after the BMT. I started reading your blog after she was already puffy and looking so different. It's almost like looking at a different child now.

    Those windchimes sound lovely. I hope you decided to purchase them for yourself. This might sound funny, but I am glad to read that you grieved for a moment after hearing the windchimes. I was a bit taken aback when you wrote on an earlier post that you were past the grieving and had moved on already. That just about shocked me, because I lost my son just over four years ago, and not a day goes by that I don't grieve or cry for him. I don't mean I cry all day long, but thoughts of him still bring me to tears and memories of him tug at my heart all day long. It's just not that easy for me to move on like it is for you.

  25. "Personally, I think it's really tacky to turn a memorial event into a book signing/promotion event. Your book is advertised on your blog. Those who wish to purchase it, will. "

    Okay, we're certainly all entitled to our own opinions. I read what Tim wrote and never got the impression he's turning this Bella/EB gathering into a book signing. What I heard him say is the lucky people that are there will have the opportunity to have him sign their copy if they want. Then I wondered if it would maybe I would ask if it would be possible to get a signed copy eventhough I can't be there today due to location.

    Sorry, couldn't help but comment. I've really been inspired to find the silver lining in everything and I saw one there...couldn't keep my mouth shut.

    Enjoy yourselves tonight!

  26. Heaveno! Sorry for not checking in yesterday - it was a wild one at Team A's house!! :)

    I'm really looking forward to seeing you all at the Dallas gathering (and am glad it's looking like North Dallas as it will be easier to get there from McKinney!) And you're right, I'm a little worried about what to say. Actually, more worried that I'll just end up bawling like a baby. But that's a good thing, right?

    Enjoy NC and your gathering with sweet Jonah!!


  27. I'm not certain about the slideshow, perhaps you could make a gif of the pics and post that or create a movie of the pics and then embed with youtube? Haven't tried it myself though so just some ideas.
    et more sleep! Take it from me, I've been doing years of research into sleep deprivation (problem is I'm too tired to concentrate on the results)jk.

    When you get home take it slow, baby steps, there will be rebuilding to do.

  28. I have been following your blog for almost 1 year and I amazed of how much Bella's life has me changed into a different person. She was such a sweet heart. I would love to buy your book, but I don't live in the USA I am from Mexico. I'm praying for your family..

    "Difficult moments, seek God. Quiet moments, worship God. Painful moments trust God. Every moment, thank God."

  29. Another Beautiful picture of Bella!! I just can't get enough of looking at her. And yes, those eyes are absolutely gorgeous. I love blue eyes. My eyes are brown with a bit of green in them. My husband has the most beautiful green eyes and my children both have dark brown eyes. I like my eyes now that I am older but, when I was a kid I always wanted blue eyes...

    I look forward to seeing the pictures of the Biltmore. I bet it was just gorgeous. I got a chance to see the Hearst Castle last May. It was on Mother's Day actually. My mom, dad, sister Megan,daughter Malorie, and I traveled down the Oregon and California coasts after we picked up my sister to move her from Oregon back to California to live with my parents after being diagnosed with Brain Cancer. It was an awesome trip. We got to see so much of the beautiful Pacific Coast and I got to spend a lot of quality time with my sister. Megan and I lived together for 5 years before I got married and she moved to Oregon. She lived there for about 2 1/2 years before moving back. So, it was nice to be together again and "get on eachothers nerves" LOL Anyways, the Hearst Castle is absolutely beautiful and it's HUGE!! So much to see. We took 3 tours and didn't see it all. I have so many wonderful pictures too.

    I hope you bought that wind chime that made you think of and feel Bella. Then every time you hear the chime it will remind you of Bella and bring you a little piece of heaven. I am glad you were able to take that moment and grieve.

    I'm glad to see you have a date, time, and place for the CA memorial. I am really looking forward to attending. I wanted to know though, are kids allowed? Just wondering if I need to find a sitter. Lots of Prayers for your continued safe travel.

    Lots of Love,
    Amber, Craig, Malorie(2 1/2), and Liam(10 mos.)
    The McLaughlin Family
    Moreno Valley, CA

  30. Hi Tim nmd Angelique.

    As I said before. I am thinking, thinking, thinking about you all and what a stupendous family you are. I thought I'll write in the morning but then I decided to tell you what I am thinking. I think this trip you are taking is a wonderful idea. It creates a buffer between MN and Orange. By the time you get home, it will really look good to you and to sleep in your own beds. What a beautiful season you are traveling in. Yes, you are just another family to those you pass. When Ali gets in school next year, this moment couldn't take place. I remember lots of things from when I was 4 years old and she will too. It is important to have many experiences and to see many places as children grow up. It enriches them. You guys look so cute tooling along in the mini van. Enjoy each moment that you are creating. Love, Greenie

  31. I look forward to seeing you guys soon. Remember we are just down the road from FRC, if that's where you will be. I have something for you. Loving Bella, loving you,
    Wendy Burkhard

  32. Thinking of you all tonight. My mom was really debating on driving from Raleigh to WS tonight; however, the roads are still new territory to her and she wasn't sure if she'd drive home afterward or to stay somewhere? She is coming back to CA on the 11th and will be attending on the 14th. I have this exciting feeling that tonight is/has gone great! Can't wait to hear all about it.
    Nicole B & fam

  33. Hi Tim, I just noticed that one of our blog family is unable to buy Bella's book, cuz she is from Mexico. I would be willing to send her a can we make that happen? Happy to help spread Bella's love any way I can, blessings!

    Donna Yazbek

  34. Hi Tim,

    Noticed there's a person that needs a book shipped to Mexico, I work for FedEx and I can send the book to her. Hope u guys are doing well, can't wait to meet you guys in Dallas!!!! You continue in my prayers.