#ThankfulThursday

Well, I have not been overly successful in my endeavor to share a weekly post of gratitude — but it’s not for a lack of it. Rather, some weeks I’ve just found myself too busy living in the gratitude to stop and write about it. Not a bad problem to have. 

This time last week, we were just getting settled into our Airbnb for a long weekend in Vegas. For Kade’s 40th birthday (back in August) I surprised him with 8 tickets to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. #BucketList y’all.

So…what I’m thankful for this week is the world’s best friends and family who took the time (and spent the money) to come to Vegas with us and celebrate four decades of this guy being awesome. You guys are cooler than a ride on the New York-New York roller coaster at night. And that is seriously cool. 

Grief Share Week 13 – Community in Christ

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

We did not have a funeral for Emmy, so on the one year anniversary of her passing we had a small family ceremony. It. Was. Perfect. We placed a memorial bench on the farm Inscribed with a portion of Psalm 139, planted a tree in her memory and started the tradition of a balloon release where we write messages on balloons to send to her in heaven.

We’ve reached the end of GriefShare. I’ve spent 13 weeks looking back all so I can look forward again. To rise up, we have to dig in. Even when it hurts.

In the book of Isaiah, God promises “beauty for ashes” and over the last 3 months, that’s exactly what I’ve seen. I have watched God transform a room full of broken, hurting, even angry women into a beautiful testament of His grace and love.

We’ve learned new ways to think, new ways to cope and new ways to move forward in the wake of immense grief. We’ve learned that while our personal stories of loss are unique, they do not have to be isolating. We’ve learned that we are not alone.

Each week, we’ve carried each other through hard conversations and difficult realities. We’ve passed the tissues when the well of tears threatened to break the dam. And we’ve laughed — freely — knowing there was no judgement or preconception or implication linked to that laugh. A community of broken humans came together as strangers, and left as sisters in Christ.

And friends, isn’t that exactly what Jesus calls us to do?

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” – Galatians 6:2

I am grateful for each of the women who was brave enough to walk through the door and take a seat at the table. I am grateful for the loss and heartache that wove the fabric of our lives together. And I am grateful, so grateful that Christ redeems the brokenhearted.

Thank you to each of you who have walked through this experience with me. Today — hug your babies, hug your husbands, hug your mamas and daddies. Because we never know how many hugs we have left with the people we love.

Want to find a GriefShare group near you? Click HERE!

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#ThankfulThursday

You might (or might not) have noticed I missed last week’s #ThankfulThursday post. And that, incidentally, is the very thing I am thankful for this week — an electronically unplugged  holiday. Where being a little more disconnected from the world allowed a little more space for connection with the people around me.

No internet (i.e., no work), erratic cell service (i.e., no mobile apps) and in fact, we became so disconnected that we even forgot to take pictures the entire four days we were together.

That’s a lie…we took one.

And Lexi wasn’t even in it because she was napping. (Also, she spent the entirety of Thanksgiving day in her PJs. #momwin or #momfail …I’ll let you decide.)

So, yeah. Totally, completely thankful.

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Grief Share Week 12 – So, What about Heaven?

Our GriefShare topic this week was something I have struggled with probably more than anything since Emmy died — and it may come as a surprise to many what it is.

Heaven.

Yes, I have struggled with heaven.

Not the overall concept or whether or not it is “real” (I 100% believe that it is). But rather, the details (or lack there of) that I can really hold on to as a mourning mama.

While there is scripture “Re” the likes of Heaven, we are offered surprisingly little concerning the specifics. And I’m not just talking the aesthetics and atmosphere — what it looks like, feels like, sounds like. But more so what life is like there.

Here are some of the questions that have tumbled around in my head and heart the past two-and-a-half years…maybe you can relate?

  • How do I know my baby is in heaven? This may sound ridiculous, but guys. There is no scripture that says “when babies die they go to heaven.” There is no text, no spoken word from God, no solid proof. I do believe my baby is with Jesus. But you can’t blame me for wanting a little assurance.
  • Can she hear/see/feel me from heaven? Does she know she is missed every day? Does she know the words I pray for my own heart, for her sister, for her daddy? Does she hear me when I tell God how much I miss and love her? Can she comprehend how much I ache for her, even though I know she’s in a better place? Does she know???
  • What will she look like when I get to see her again? What age will she be? Will she know me? Will I be able to hold her, kiss her face, look into her eyes and for the first time know their color? One of the things I long despreately to know is what my girl would look like. I hope one day to look on her beautiful face and know.
  • Does she really watch over her sister? Yes, we say that she does. We tell others and ourselves that Lexi has the best guardian angel. But is that really how it works?

I could honestly go on and on with the things I have wondered about my baby in heaven. And I assume I am not alone in my curiosity.

At first I wanted to sit here and proclaim with conviction that God does not owe me any answers (and he doesn’t). But in reality, He has already given me every answer I need. Note: I didn’t say every answer I want — rather every answer I need.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” – Hebrews 11:1

Is that not all I need to know?

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Grief Share Week 11 – Superficial to Sacrificial

This week in GriefShare, we dug further into the things we learn and experience through the grieving process — how it affects our identity, our relationships, and learning to accept that our grief may be “imperfect.”

I did have struggles, and in turn growth, in all of these areas. Did how I see and identify myself change? Yes, definitely. Did my relationships with loved ones change? In certain ways, they did. Did the way I interact with other humans change? I hope, for the better.

But for me, one relationship in particular was profoundly altered — my relationship with God. Through my grief, my faith went from being superficial to sacrificial.

From the very first moment the doctors told us there was something “wrong” with one of our babies, God was at work.

Through the course of an extremely difficult pregnancy with countless tests, scans and potential diagnoses — He was teaching me to trust.

Through the doubt, fear and uncertainty — He was teaching me to believe.

And through it all — He was teaching me to depend fully on Him.

Not on myself. Not on the doctors. Not on medicine. On Him alone.

And I can honestly say that by the time we got to lay our eyes on those sweet baby girls for the first time, He had prepared my heart and soul for His plan.

That does not mean it was easy. It does not mean I didn’t wish for a different outcome or feel my heart literally shattering inside of my chest. But I trusted — I believed — I depended fully on His grace.

I do not think God took our baby to teach a lesson or to prove a point. I do not believe that is the kind of God I serve. I do believe He had a greater calling for my life than I was fulfilling. I do believe He saw my superficial faith and knew there was more in me. I do believe he called me to be a bereaved mother, and through that transform from superficial to sacrificial. It might not have been the only way…but it is the way He chose.

There are still some days I do not want to be this person. More than once I have asked, “Why me?” But when I am truly honest with myself, I know that my life, my love and my faith are stronger through my loss.

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