12 May, 2015

Highway Clean up

This new chapter in life is bleak in many ways.  We miss our girl.  Life continues.
We work to honor her,  afterall she wants us to be happy.

24 April, 2015


 It is hard to believe it has been nearly a year since my baby departed this life.   Some of you already know that last May was not the first time I lost Lizzy.  At this difficult time of year I am reflecting on the life of my sweet Lizzy.

I had looked for her… waited for her.  There was some cosmic connection between our spirits.  I knew she was coming even before she was born.  I knew she be in Minnesota.
A birth mom connected with us.  I can only imagine the difficulty of that situation.  Trying to decide what is best for her child, trusting someone else enough to love, to truly and deeply love her child.   I thank God for the birth mothers in my life.  Each one of them made an incredible sacrifice to give life to the beautiful children that I mother.  I am the benefactor of their months of sacrifice, pain of birth, their labor of love. 

We nervously drove down to the cities to meet Lizzy and her mother.  I held her. I held her for the first time.  And I loved her.  Her birth mom made her decision and signed the papers.  Thrilled beyond words we took Lizzy home. 
But…   In the State of Minnesota birth parents have 2 weeks to revoke their decision.  2 weeks to change their mind.

The pain of returning Lizzy to her birth mom, was…. Well, It was all I could handle.  Then, trying to explain to 3 year old Ruby Catherine why her baby sister was going away.  How do you do that?  It just isn’t something that you can google for helpful tips or read a book about.

I stayed in contact with birth mom. I sent blankets, formula, toys and love.  Weeks later to my surprise she contacted me again and said she is going to place Lizzy for adoption.  Her mind was made up.  This was the right thing to do, she said.

My heart skipped a beat.  I don’t trust easily any more, but with so much at stake and not being in any position of control I had to trust.  And hope and pray.
Once again our crib was filled with a warm bundle of love.  We were a family complete.  I went about nesting, loving, mothering.  The innate joys of being a woman.  Yet, still in the back of my mind was the count down 2 weeks until the paper work is complete and cannot be changed.

It was a Wednesday evening when I received the dreaded phone call.  I was at home with Lizzy.  I saw the name of the adoption worker on my phone screen.  NO.  No.  NOOO!
Again Lizzy was returned to her birth mother.  The following months were excruciating.  I did not keep contact with birth mother.  It was beyond my strength.  

I felt so alone.  No one really knew what had happened or what I was going through.  Her empty crib stood cold.  And I wondered is she crying for me?  Pain in my chest.  Does she think I abandoned her? 
There was nothing I could do.   I prayed.  I still felt that cosmic connection.

Christmas 2012.  Lizzy nearly 7 months old. We brought her home to stay.  Paperwork complete.  No going back.
Lizzy brought a peace to our home to our family that is indescribable.  Her personality, joy, dancing, Oh her dancing!!   And most of all her peace.  Peace profound. 
Just 3 weeks before her 2nd birthday is when it happened.  Unfathomable.  Totally unexpected.  A parents worst nightmare. 

Saturday morning about 8am.  I went into the girls bedroom to wake up sweet Lizzy.  The room was filled with her peace.  10-thousand angels were with me holding me up.  I heard a soft whisper  “she is okay.  Things will be okay.”  I peeked over her crib and gazed down at her peaceful body cuddled up to her blanket.  
She had gone home.  Her real home.  The real home for us all.
I don’t know why God planned it this way… but I do know:      That God has a plan. 

Love is all that really matters.

09 January, 2015

09 January 2015

My dog’s name is Honey, and let me tell you what… she is a honey.  Seriously a good dog.  Exactly one year ago today I took Honey to the Vet in Red Lake Falls for her annual Rabies vaccination,  in order to keep her inoculated I had to take her in again before one year was up.  
Today, January 9, 2015 I got on the road to RLF with Ruby Catherine and Honey in the back seat.  It didn’t hit me until we were all loaded in the car. The January sun was shining brightly and reflecting off the bright white snow just like it was one year ago today.
Was it the brightness blinding me or the tears welling up in my eyes?  The absence of my little girl is a pain that I can’t find words to describe. 
I re-lived every detail of the experience we had one year ago today.  I never would have guessed that Lizzy had just a few months left to live.  She was dancing in her car seat, she knew how to move.  We listened to one of her favorite songs Honey, Honey, by Abba from the Mama Mia sound track.  The girls loved that Honey (the dog) was in the car with us as we sang “her song”.

I miss you baby girl.  Mama loves you.

Ruby Catherine asked Santa Clause to bring her 3 things.  A baby, diapers, and wipes.  On Christmas morning she promptly let us know that her new baby doll is named Madison Elizabeth just like her baby sister.  She takes her doll EVERYWHERE, feeds her, reads her stories and changes her diapers.
As I walked into the veterinarian clinic, Honey, Ruby Catherine, and dolly Elizabeth were all with me.

06 January, 2015

A Simple ring- and Peace Profound

In April 2013, I lost my wedding ring.  It had been my grandmothers wedding ring- and she passed it to Eric (now my husband) just before we were engaged.  There were many repairs and a new stones needed.  Eric had the ring fixed up and sparkling like new when he proposed at Bridal Veil Falls in April 2001. 
To others my ring might not be something special, but to me it was magnificent.  It symbolized very important people and meaning in my life.
My grandmother, who I call SGA, Sweet Grandma Ardy.  I remember helping her wash dishes as a young girl.  The warm soapy water, seeing the silvery sparkle of her ring and listening as she whistled as she worked.

My husband, best friend, life partner.  Eric Castle.   I love that he cared  enough to listen and know how special that ring was to me, that he took the time to drive to Idaho and get it, have it  fixed up for me- all with out me knowing.  What a symbol of love.

About a month before I lost my treasured ring I was preparing for a 12 day river trip down the Colorado through the Grand Canyon.  I had a dream just before my trip.  

 I dreamt I saw my ring slowly sinking in the green glacial waters of the Colorado.  Bubbles, silt and icy green waters all around as it settled through the rough water. I still see the powerful visual image from this poignant dream.  Yet, most significantly in this dream was the deep felt emotion.  

Interestingly enough, the emotion was an overwhelming  peace.  It was the feeling that everything is okay.  Even if my treasured ring is gone, I have the most important part of the ring with me already, a kind loving partner with whom I can share life and beyond.  For that I am so grateful.  It gave me a chance to reflect on the symbolism of the ring. Love. Commitment. Those are two things that I still had- even if my ring was at the bottom of the Colorado.

But alas, it was just a dream.  I still had the ring on my finger.  The Grand Canyon trip went off with out a hitch- I loved spending time with my family, Bret, Brandon & Hanna on the river.  On my way back to Minnesota I stayed with my parents in Idaho.  My hands were very dry after nearly two weeks on the River.  I took my ring off to put on lotion and walked away.  I never saw the ring again. I had a theory that Ruby Catherine flushed it- because I turned the house upside down looking for it. It was gone.  

Of course I remembered the dream.  And again I was at peace.  It is not the heirloom jewelry that mattered.   Its people, experiences, love, compassion that matter.  I loaded up my two precious girls in the car,  Elizabeth and Ruby Catherine and we drove back home across the country to Crookston, Minnesota.  

Much has happened in the space of the nearly 2 years in between then and now.  Including the greatest loss of my life.  My sweet Elizabeth passed away unexpectedly in her sleep just 3 weeks before her 2nd birthday in May 2014.  Losing a child is something no parent should have to face. Pain profound.  I miss her so much it hurts.  I long to cuddle her little body and kiss her cheeks- I want to read her stories and teach her big vocabulary words and then proudly smile when she uses the new words.

This holiday season has been a challenge, painful, yet peaceful.  Christmas morning I just wanted to hold little Elizabeth on my lap as the magic unfolded under the Christmas tree.  All season I have had the strong urge to give Lizzy a gift.  In her short life she gave me so much.  

As the kids were playing with their new treasures I noticed a little note near the stockings, a clue. I like to send Eric on quests all over the house for his birthday/Fathers's Day/Christmas gifts.  I guess it is my turn for an adventure running around the house with Eric and kids on the trail behind me.

Clue #1 read: On this Christmas quest be sure to do your best.  This gift is sure to bring a cascade of memories.

Cascade- water falling- I ran to the shower and found the next clue.

 #2 On your journey to find this gift you won't need hiking boots, but you did at one point.  I ran to my hiking boots and found the next clue.

#3 This gift is given on bended knee, much like Vajrasana (a yoga pose).    My yoga mat!

#4 By accepting this gift you acknowledge I made the cut (I ran to the kitchen knives drawer)-

#5 Up north on the tundra, that was not quite frozen yet, we made the pact in an edifice adorned with Forget-Me-Nots. (I ran to Eric's watercolor painting of the Anchorage, AK Temple where we were married, his wedding gift to me).

#6 With the vows, gifts were given, these bowls would not be enough to fill our love. The Alaskan wood bowls from Andy!  And inside the bowls was a little ring box.

No!  It couldn't be.   No, I thought. No. 

But it was!  I opened the box to find my wedding ring. I slid it back on to my finger after nearly two years of its absence.  I think I was as excited to see it as I was that evening back in 2001 at Bridal Veil Falls when Eric proposed.  

Things are  a lot different now.  A lot.  But I still love Eric and enjoy sharing my life with him. I have 3 beautiful children- one who is on the other side of the veil guiding me and bringing peace to my heart.

My Christmas gift to Lizzy is the gift of kindness & compassion.  To be given through kind acts, service, compassionate caring toward people.

But I need help.  I need help giving kindness, service, compassion.  I want it to spread and grow.  So, I am asking friends, colleagues, neighbors, loved ones and strangers alike to help me.  You.  I am asking you!  Help me spread Lizzy's gift.  Lizzy's most consequential gift to me is the profound peace she continues to bring to my heart.

Let Lizzy's Peace enter your heart.  Please write to me about a kind act you did or someone did for you.  Spread Lizzy's Peace.


08 December, 2014

Editorial: Life, Death and Chickens

  Death is part of life.  As profoundly painful as the circumstances sometimes are, death is part of life on earth.     

    I really appreciated Don Christie’s article in the Crookston Times last month on grief - dealing with loss. I have come to know death and grief intimately this year.   

    Death is real, and it is something we will all experience.    

    Elizabeth was a healthy growing, and vibrant little spirit.  Nearly 2 years old, she was bright eyed, yet had a peace about her that was soothing.      

    A few months before she died she came down with a common cold.  Ruby Catherine, my 4 year old asked me…”Is Lizzy going to die?”   

    We had had a chicken die months before.  We had a little family funeral and buried her in the flower bed in the back yard.  This was Ruby Catherine’s only experience with death.  I didn’t think much about my answer, I simply rattled off - “Oh no honey, Lizzy is not going to die - people aren’t like chickens.”    

    How wrong I was.   

    The week before Elizabeth died we hatched 19 beautiful fluffy baby chicks.  The kids loved watching them hatch, holding them, hearing them peep. Every little sign of life was magical, these eggs had transformed into living birds


    There were, however, 6 or so eggs that simply did not hatch. After giving them a couple extra days in the incubator it was apparent that they were not going to make it.  So, I put on my latex gloves and we had a science lesson. The kids gathered around and I opened each egg.  We noted the growth and development stage in which each bird stopped developing.  We examined their wings, feet and beaks.   

    And then we did something really special.  We talked about heaven.  We talked about what the little chicks might be doing in heaven. We discussed what we think heaven is like.  I saw my 4 year old and 8 year old wrap their head around life and death.  I saw them begin to understand spirit.  It was a beautiful moment.   

    Little did I know that in one week my baby girl would also be in heaven.  It was so unexpected.  Friday evening she was dancing to the music of her daddy’s banjo.  Saturday morning I went to wake her up and she was gone.  Just like the baby chicks.  No life in her tiny body.   

Her spirit lives on. This I know.  She continues to bring peace to me when I need it most.   
    That dreadful Saturday back in May - police and investigators were all over the house, my kids were frightened and confused.  My husband and I in shock, not really knowing what to do.  Ruby Catherine came up to me and wrapped her arms around my leg, looked up into my eyes and said. “Mom, it’s okay, Lizzy is in heaven with the baby chicks.”   

    I fell to my knees in tears.  Wrapped my arms around Ruby Catherine.  She was profoundly correct.  We find peace in our belief that Lizzy is in a state of peace.  She is often near us, and brings us the gifts we need.  Peace, Love, forgiveness, kindness.  And even as we celebrate her gifts, we grieve.  What an immense loss.   

    I thank God for the tender mercy of the life and death lesson with our baby chicks that helped my sweet little children to better comprehend the difficult experience that lay ahead.      I didn't share the experience with anyone for months after Lizzy died.  Unknowingly a sweet friend from church Rachel, who lost her baby son a few years ago made a donation to Heifer International for baby chicks in Lizzy's name. Lizzy lives on in many ways.
    As painful as it is, death is part of life.  We will all expire.   I believe families are forever  and I am so grateful for the Good News, we will be together again. 
This is the last picture taken of Lizzy.  We were getting ready for church.
Elias had put his vest over the top of his suit coat.  I was trying not to laugh, but I wanted to capture the moment.  

11 July, 2014

Memorial- Madison Elizabeth Castle- Thank You PHS Class of 1994

My graduating class Pocatello High 1994 put funds together to
buy this park bench and memorial in honor of our Lizzy.

You're teaching us to honor our dreams,
Your light within burns with hope.
Reminding us that Jesus redeems,
It is only through Him we can cope.

My girls-   Whitney, me, Natalie, Teresa, Kristen  20 year class reunion-  Missing Sarah, Melissa, Molly  Love you guys!

07 July, 2014

Ruby Catherine in Idaho

Ruby Catherine shows off her new tattoo-  so proud.

Ruby Catherine in her princess dress from Grammy-  Getting ready to meet Elsa next week.

30 June, 2014

Family Fun in Utah

Eric helping Annika take her fish off the hook.   Ashton holding his newly caught fish. 01 July 2014

Elias,  8 years  Ashton 6 years, Annika 7 years-  Fishing in the Uintas. 01 July 2014
Done fishing, now its time to swim.  Lincoln, Elias, Landon, Colter 01 July 2014
 Family night hike to This is the Place in SLC- 30 June 2014

 Grandma Wendy reads the kids Not Even Once Club. 30 June 2014

Cousins and Grandparents  30 June 2014
Lincoln, Landon and Lalo- Board gaming.  

Kembree and Ruby Catherine with their new face paint 28 June Cedar Hills Days
Happy 4th of July from Ruby Catherine! 

Elias had a nice visit with Alex-  and another visit with Annika and Ashton.  

27 May, 2014

Sad Isn't Bad

Today we read the book "Sad Isn't Bad".   We miss our little Lizzy.
We are learning to live with a missing piece in our hearts.
Ruby Catherine is a rock star.  

I took out Nette's weave- and we celebrated a moment during Mustache May.

RuCat and Lalo hanging out on the couch.

24 May, 2014

Happy Birthday Elizabeth! We miss you~


We had a party at Castle Park in honor of our Elizabeth

Eric and his friends played music-  One of Lizzy's favorite things.

18 May, 2014


Madison Elizabeth Castle

I had  looked for you, waited for you.
I just didn’t know this was your part
A huge role you are playing baby girl
Although your time on stage was short

I found you Elizabeth, 
My wise Oak Tree
Now, with your help,
I am finding me.

You are helping me find my missing parts 
and making me complete
Showing me the best things of life
honoring what’s most sweet

Living life with No Regrets
Making the most of each day
Elizabeth is printed on my heart
And there you always will stay.

Reminding me to live in the moment
To soak up the light when it shines
To brave the darkness, allow the hurt
This little little light of mine~

You’re teaching me to honor my dreams
Your light within burns with hope
Reminding me that Jesus redeems
It is only through Him we can cope

To make the most of what we have
To honor each moment we’re given
You bring out the best in our family
You are Peace, Love and Forgiveness

With the ones I have now, I will treasure my time 
Your memories I will keep alive
Knowing one day, there will be no more pain,
When Jesus will finally arrive.

When living seems too painful 
Will you bring me the gifts that I need?
After the rain comes the Son
To Him we are blessed to concede.

Jesus Lives. 
My baby does too.
With me for just a short while,
You came and brought your gentle peace.
Your gift makes all the pain worthwhile.

I know now, the question I wondered…
Is it better to have loved and lost?
Absolutely yes Elizabeth!
You are worth the cost.

Sweet Dreams my child.
My little girl.
You are in my heart to stay.
We’ll be together again, this I know.
For God has planned it this way.

Love, Mama

~Heidi Lamb Castle

13 May, 2014

Thanksgiving Point~ Utah, Fun with Cousins

This girl loves pony's and purses.   So, she is pretty happy at this moment.  

Culvers Ice Cream

12 May, 2014

Idaho- Grandpa and Grammy

Riding around the farm with Grandpa.

Hiking in the mountains behind Uncle Bret's house.
Picking wild flowers for Lizzy and Mom.  (Mother's day was yesterday)

03 May, 2014

Heart Shattered

Shock, fear, deep raw pain is in my heart today.
Sweet baby Elizabeth died in her sleep last night.

I can't believe it is real.  My baby is gone.

Heaven help me.  Please send Angels.


01 April, 2014

April in Northern Minnesota

We got nearly 2 new feet of Snow April 1st.   

29 March, 2014

Officially a Cub Scout

The big 8 year old!  Elias is such a good boy.
  He is smart. He is a kind, sensitive soul.  I thank God for him everyday.
I love you with all my heart Elias Jay Lamb Castle.

He had a lot of fun at the pinewood derby.  His car was super fast.
He took 4th place overall out of both wards.

22 March, 2014

Amish Road Trip-

Heidi, Ruby Catherine, Elizabeth and Grammy Lamby 
visited a number of Amish homes on our trip in 
Mississippi, Florida, Missouri, Kentucky and Georgia.   
It was a great experience.  
Who knew there were Amish communities in all these states?

Randolph, Mississippi-  
The only Amish settlement in the deep south. 
(sans the Sarasota, FL Amish community, but is Florida really in the South?)

Ruby Catherine and Elizabeth had fun with the Amish children- 
sand boxes, swings, and lots of warm outside time!

Logs from the Amish sawmill.

Handmade Amish rugs

Handmade Amish Rolling pins.

We visited 4 different Amish farms in Mississippi.

The Mississippi Amish settlement we visited are considered Old order Swartzentruber the most conservative of the Amish.  They are noted for their restricted use of technology, lack of SMV triangle emblems on buggies, and particularly plain lifestyle.  As is common for Swartzentruber Amish, those in the Randolph community permit only metal rims on buggies, and do not allow propane or gas lights.  They don't like pictures taken of their faces or to be identifiable in photos, but they did allow me to photograph things in their hose and on the farm.

The kind family we stayed with provided us with a delicious breakfast.
Scratch made biscuits, jams, eggs, home made cereals, farm fresh jersey milk-
A vegetarians delight!

Think these type of Milk cans are out of date?
In Clark Missouri- the Amish utilize them daily.

Death is part of life on the farm.
Ruby-Catherine stopped to pray for this fallen bird.
We have funerals for our small flock of chickens when one dies too.   
Ruby-Cat has a heart of gold- she honors life.  

Spring plowing in Missouri. 

 Ruby Catherine slept by Momma every night on our trip.  :)

The girls liked this swing so much -
Grammy is going to have Grandpa Cory build one for their house in Idaho. 

Ruby-Catherine, Amy and Elizabeth in Clark, Missouri.

This Amish store in Randolph, Mississippi made and sold Amish hats.