Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Thankfulness Part 2

I've had a lot of fun continuing my list of things I'm grateful for and that make me joyful. 
Here are a few more.....

12. Watching Addy dream and sleep.
13. The aroma of coffee.
14. Random acts of kindness.
15. Smiling at a stranger.
16. Crisp cool air of Fall.
17. The hill at Evie's gravesite where I find solitude.
18. Quiet moments in prayer.
19. A message or worship song that moves my heart at church.
20. Long holiday weekends.
21. A softened heart after an argument.
22. An inspiring quote.
23. Moments of clarity and peace.
24. Reminders of what Christ did for me on the cross.
25. Finding ways to love people even when they hurt me. 
26. Accomplishing a goal.
27. The gospels.
28. Giving a gift.
29. My Mom's gift of listening.
30. Childhood memories.
31. Evening strolls with Danny, Addy and the doggies.
32. The Christmas mountain trip after we lost Evie where we found a renewed spirit.
33. Mom's scrambled egg sandwiches.
34. Date nights with Danny.
35. The smell of Christmas trees. 
36. Slowing down to relax.
37. Laughing at the silliest things when I'm with my sister. 
38. Celebrating Birthdays.
39. Piling in the car for a road trip to my hometown in NC with the whole family.
40. Celebrating Weddings.
41. Singing in the car.
42. My sister's encouraging words of wisdom.
43. Cozy Sundays.
44. A friend asking me to spend time with them.
45. Mom's home cooking.
46. When God moves my heart to do something when I don't want to do it. 
47. The noise of laughter and happiness at family gatherings.
48. A relaxing bubble bath.
49. Helping someone in need.
50. An exhilarating run.
51. A phone call from Danny. 
52. A familiar smell that takes you into the past. 
53. The laughter and innocence of my nephews, Will and Jack. 
54. Celebrating new life.

Monday, August 29, 2011


     "God gives gifts and I give thanks and I unwrap the gift given: joy." 
Ann Voskamp

     It's bittersweet that little Addy is growing up.  I’m looking forward to experiencing things with her as she grows, but at the same time, I want her to stay this age.  I wish I could slow it all down and embrace every single minute with her. It is going by so fast that I feel like I’m missing precious time!
     I love to watch her do things for the very first time. Little things that I take for granted everyday. She takes the world in with her amazing eyes with such wonder, delight and joy!  I love witnessing her experience her surroundings. She has taught me a thing or two about finding joy and gratitude in my life.  
     I'm reading a book called "One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp.  It is a book about finding joy wherever you are in life.  I’ve only got through three chapters, but it's pretty amazing so far. I love to see the author list her most precious gifts and moments that she recognizes as God sent. It is a list that makes her feel joyful, thankful and happy.  She describes it as wanting to "learn how to be grateful and happy, whether hands full or hands empty." She has inspired me to come up with my own list.  Maybe I haven’t lost complete sight of what I’m thankful for, but I certainly don’t voice it enough. She has encouraged me to "pick up a pen and start writing" down things that make me joyful. And, making this a daily habit.  I think you should come up with your list too. 
     My list starts with my sweet baby girl and amazing husband….

1.  My day starting out with a big smile from Addy (nothing else matters in these moments!).
2. The sweet moments laying in bed with her just "talking".

3. Addy learning things for the very first time. 
4. Being able to be home with her during her first few weeks of life. 

5.  Addy reminding me of the love Christ has for me. 
6. God choosing me to be her Mom. 

7. The way that Danny loves, protects and cares for us. 
8. Danny rubbing my hair or back at night.
9. The way he listens to me when I'm hurting.
10. The way he makes me laugh.
11. His amazing barbecue.

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Father and Mother's Love

     This is something that I wrote for Evie's year anniversary on February 12, 2010. Our friends and family gathered around us at Evie's gravesite to remember our children and to hold our hand as we grieved the losses. We are so grateful for them surrounding us with love. This was also before we were blessed with our sweet Addy: 

     Today is a very bittersweet day. It is not only a day that has changed our lives forever, but it is a day of remembrance. We are here to remember two beautiful children lost. Two angels that have helped us see life in a different way. We barely knew Evie and Luke for they left us way too soon. But, their short little lives have brought us to a beautiful place through suffering. Through this experience, we have realized we need a Savior. In our darkest moments, we have fallen down on our knees and prayed to God to take away the pain. Begging him to bring her back and asking him why he has forsaken us. Our prayers are different today. Our faith has grown and our hearts have opened up to the wonderful love and grace of God. We are now able to see our blessings and praise God for what he has done not only in our suffering, but for the transformation of our hearts. We have gone through a roller coaster ride of emotions from being shocked, to feeling guilt, to acceptance, to utter sadness, to anger, back to doubt, feelings of envy, to feeling a sense of peace, back to anger and that brings us to today. I am not sure if not going through this experience would have brought us to where we are now. There is a feeling of relief from all of the emotions we have experienced. We are finally working the loss into our lives and the bad days are few and far between. We are at peace with the circumstances that have brought so much grief. We actually feel happy and are amazed with how great we feel. This has been a process; a long journey that we would not have chosen, but have accepted as best we know how. Our road has been full of twists and turns, but we truly believe that this road has led us to our salvation, to our Savior, Jesus Christ.
     I remember walking on egg shells for the first 16 weeks of the pregnancy with Evie. This was the gestation age that we lost our first baby, Luke William in 2007. My prayers were much different then. I prayed that God would get the baby here safely. This is all I seemed to care about and where my heart was. I loved Evie more than God. I never thought to pray that if the pregnancy failed that He would take care of me, hold me and that I would find Him through it all. Our relationship was on such a different level at this point. After this period, I started to relax and enjoy the pregnancy. My dependency on Christ became less and less because things were going great. And, little did we know that we would lose her two weeks before she was due. It was such a slap in the face. Our dreams were shattered. We put so much love into finishing the nursery and it would never be used in the way it was intended to be used. We couldn’t believe it and it was so unfair. Our worst nightmare came true and we felt so incredibly helpless. 
     I remember the first time I prayed out loud in front of someone. It was in the hospital when I was holding little Evie. As I was playing with her sweet little toes, I remember begging God to help me get through this. It was utter sadness that I can’t explain and it is only when you experience this type of loss that you will understand the hurt and confusion we felt. This is when I truly knew I was in need of a Savior and that I would not be able to do this by myself. I wanted an explanation from my Savior, a reason as to what I could have possibly done to deserve this fate. I questioned why he would take us this far to take her away. I even questioned his love for me. We felt so desperate and betrayed. There were so many questions and no answers, just silence. 
     The first wave of anger that I experienced was when Evie was delivered. I remember the pull of her being released. I do not think I will ever forget this moment. I was so indescribably hurt and just could not understand why this was happening. She was a part of me for 9 months and then it was over. I can’t explain to you in words how empty I felt. I questioned God asking him, “What did I do to deserve this? What is wrong with my body? Lord, where are you in all of this?  How will I worship and trust you after this? How am I going to survive this pain? 
     Well, here we are in this place…we survived with Christ. The guilt, the anger, the confusion are gone and the questions are smaller. We are hopeful and have been saved. Our marriage is stronger than ever. We have taken this circumstance that has been given to us as an opportunity to grow our relationship with the Lord. We are leaning on our Savior, the only one that could have brought us out of this darkness.  
     We have found God in a way that we did not even think was possible. We depend on Him for everything. He has brought us into His precious light and He is making our paths straight. We know that Christ rescues us from the storm and pulls us out of treacherous waters. We lift our eyes to him and know that He is God. We know that He loves us. We know that He knows the plans He has for us, plans to proper us and not to harm us, plans to give us hope and a future. We know to call upon Him and pray and He will listen to us. We will seek Him and find Him when we seek Him with all of our hearts.We are going to try our very best not to worry about what the future holds and just trust him. We are not going to put our hope on him giving us a healthy baby. We are going to trust that if and when the next storm hits, we will be held.

Friday, August 5, 2011


“When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.”

As a little girl, I loved the song “Pass the Dutchie".  I know, you laugh, but I
adored this song. The reggae beat and kids singing made me happy. I didn’t have a care in the world. I was happy just dancing and laughing.  Sometimes I would dance by myself, but other times my Daddy would spin me around. I was so innocent that I didn’t know what the song meant (I think it is about passing a joint, right?).  Anyway, back to the point. It didn’t matter what the words were about, it was just a fun song.  Heck, I’ll admit, I still love the song.  
As I reflect on this unforgettable memory of childhood, I am also reminded of the song “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz.   It has a similar fun, upbeat and happy tune. Danny and I were going to introduce this song to Evie in hopes that it would make her feel the same way I did as a little girl: happy and carefree. We heard it during the pregnancy and envisioned our “family to be” dancing around together.  After losing Evie we would randomly hear this song. It didn’t matter where we were, tears would flow down both of our cheeks instantaneously. Those were sad moments, but they also served as bonding experiences for Danny and me.  We were the only ones on the planet that knew the impact this ordinary song had on us. We were sharing the same hurt, the same heartbreaking sadness of losing her. When we were alone, we would embrace one another and talk about the pain and how much we desperately missed her. It would usually end in us praying together; asking God for healing.
I haven’t heard that song in a while… until the other day.  Upon hearing it, that all too familiar ache for Evie resurfaced and I was instantly shoved back into the painful past.   The song instantly brought me back to the beginning memories of when we lost her (crazy how a song can bring you back to a time in your life).  Although my wounds are healed, there was a powerful hurt in my heart; it made me realize that I still longed for her.  I would love for her to be here with us celebrating her new baby sister. This nostalgic memory led me to the truth that we may not be able to dance together now, but according to Christ, we will one day.  
Scripture tells us that God promises Heaven to those that believe. Jesus says:  “Don’t be troubled. You trust God, now trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s home, and I am going to prepare a place for you. If this were not so, I would tell you plainly. When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know where I am going and how to get there” John 14: 1-4.  This scripture gives me much needed hope. Not only will I see the ones that I have lost, but I will also be with Him… forever. I know to some of you, this seems pretty far-fetched and mystical. Trust me, I know where you’re coming from. I have had my fair share of doubt in the past but this is what I believe in, this is what keeps me going.
It also makes me thankful for where Evie is and that she is with Him.  She will never experience the pain and suffering of this world.  She is constantly dancing with her Father who loves her unconditionally.  I’ll be honest; I haven’t always had this positive outlook on Evie being in Heaven. I have certainly been selfish and wanted her here with me.  At times I still long for her and I’m not sure this will ever go away completely. However, it makes it easier knowing she is in the best place she could ever be.
I can’t wait to tell Addy all about her big sister and brother.  I want Addy to know all about where they are.  I want her to have the same hope of wanting to be with Jesus in Heaven along with her family one day. I especially can’t wait to sing and dance with Addy.  As we do life together here on earth, we will remember sweet Evie and where she is.  We will celebrate the life that God has given us now, the precious moments that we are experiencing together as a family. We will embrace this life until we move on to the next. We will try our best to remember what God taught us through Evie and how valuable life is. I thank Him for these reflections and the many ways He moves my heart.  I thank Him for His promises and for the next life to come.  

Thursday, August 4, 2011

There Once was a Man....

“Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?"
Job 2:10

I am apart of a support group for mothers that have suffered losses through stillbirth, miscarriage, infertility and failed adoption. My heart literally breaks hearing each story and how they have had to suffer through all of the emotions that go along with this type of loss. We all can easily relate to each other’s stories. These women are full of hope and strength. They are also very humble, genuine and they welcome me into the group with open arms. Some of them are still trying to get pregnant while a few of them have healthy and happy babies in their arms. I think of other people in the world that have to suffer unimaginable things. It brings me to the question, “Lord, why do some of us have to go through challenging circumstances and others do not?”
There were several moments in my grief I would question God’s love for me.  At the time, I found it difficult to understand why others were blessed with children while I was left with the desire to be a mother and empty arms.  By no means am I saying that I am not happy for people that have their children safely in their arms. I would not wish this type of loss on anyone. However, at times, I would wonder what I had done to deserve this sadness and loss.
This brings a story to mind about a man named Job.  For those who don’t know, Job was a man that was considered “blameless” in the eyes of God.  In other words, Job was probably a better person than anybody you or I know.  What happened to this “good man”, however, was not so good.  In a very short period of time, Job lost all ten of his children, his health and his wealth. As if that wasn’t enough, his wife left him.  The introduction in my Bible describes the book of Job as “an exploration of righteous people who not only are not rewarded, but who actively suffer, through no fault of their own.” This is quite a traumatic journey that Job has to go through to answer his most pressing questions on loss and God’s judgment. It also helped him find a love and dependence for God that he never realized he had. In the end, Job came to the most basic of conclusions; God is the creator of the universe.  What gave Job the right to question His motives or plan. God is God and He will use whatever He can to teach us something about ourselves. Job had to lose his whole family, his wealth, suffer from physical ailments and had to deal with a not so encouraging circle of friends to get to these truths. They preached the message of how God punishes the wicked and rewards the good.  Even his wife was discouraging. She advised him to curse God and be done with Him. She wondered why he was still being true to God after all of this suffering.  But Job knew better and his reply is something I try to embrace everyday; "You're talking like an empty-headed fool. We take the good days from God—why not also the bad days" (Job 2:10)?
Job was a righteous person. He treated everyone with love and respect. He was also obedient to God. He is described as a God fearing man. This is not the kind of fear with think of, but a respect, adoration and an awe that Job had for God. He wasn’t afraid of Him, but He knew God was an all-powerful, all knowing being. Job put God before anything else. He most definitely had his priorities in line. Job loved God and God Job.  But let’s be honest, would any of us still love God if He took away everything we owned and loved?  Job’s trial, although extremely difficult to fathom, eventually revealed that his love for God should be unconditional.  It should not be based on what God has or hasn’t done for him today.
My Bible asks the question, “if goodness is always rewarded, how can it be known whether anyone is ever good out of love for God, rather than out of a desire for a reward?”  Most of us subscribe to the “prosperity gospel”.  As long as we are doing good works by going to church, saying our prayers, giving to the poor, etc., we will have a right standing with God and will be blessed with many rewards. All of our dreams will come true, right? Not in Job’s case. He felt this in the beginning, but his experience helped him see life through a different lens.
Job went through a whirlwind of emotions, many questions and several doubts. He wondered what he had done to deserve all of this and at times was in complete disbelief of what had transpired. He even cried out to God to take his suffering away, but God was silent. But as Job suffered through his circumstances, he continued to search for God’s wisdom. Eventually, Job began to open his heart to the fact that God was present and loved him, even in his suffering and disbelief.  This fresh perspective helped Job gain a new outlook on suffering, perseverance and patience.  Perhaps Job, “Mr. Blameless”, realized that “good deeds” weren’t enough.  Perhaps it became obvious to him that we can never be good enough.  Although Jesus wasn’t in the picture yet, Job’s story makes it that much easier for me to understand and appreciate what Jesus did for me on the cross.  He bridged the gap between us, and our heavenly father.
This story encourages me to embrace the fact that God knows what I need better than I do. I don’t want to be fearful throughout life waiting for this so-called storm that I have put in the back of my mind. I can be confident in knowing that I do not have to understand God’s motives, but trust that He is strengthening, maturing and growing my faith with any circumstance He gives me.