Sunday, December 25, 2011

Mama's ramblings

It's Alissa again... finally. The past few days I've been thinking I should post something, but I wasn't sure what to say. And I'm still not sure what I want to share, but thought I'd just start writing and see what comes out.


Anna has been gone for five days. Very soon we'll be past the amount of days she lived. She was only here for eleven days. It seems like it was much longer than that. Maybe because we lived in the unknown for so long before she was born, wondering what was going to happen on her birthday. Then after she was born, every day brought new challenges and hopes of her improving. Until last Monday morning. I knew when I saw her that something was different. Even before the doctor talked to us, she looked like she was struggling. I sensed something was different, and after the heart-breaking conversation with the doctor, I knew it was time to let her go.


But that's not what I want to think about. I want to think about all the precious moments I got with her. Her precious beauty. The blessing her last few hours were with our family. The numerous testimonies of many of you who have told us that her life drew you closer to Jesus. 


The past few days have been kind of a blur. Many tears. But still, many smiles. We're having to talk about things we never imagined we would have to deal with. Like planning a memorial service for our baby. Burial or cremation, flowers or donations, order of service, tributes, etc. 


What am I going to do with all of her precious clothes? How long will I sleep with the giraffe blanket Matt got her that covered her little body all those days? It's already losing her smell. Will I ever be able to take the cradle out of our room? Right now it's full of the little stuffed animals that surrounded her in the hospital, and her name banner Amy made is draped across the front. 


We've been spending a lot of time with my family since we came home Tuesday afternoon. I'm so thankful we all live close to each other right now. And it's a blessing that it's Christmastime. I have been loving being surrounded by all the people I love most. It's bittersweet now, though. All in the same moment I can be filled with the warmth of my family's familiar faces and voices - and then a deep sadness sweeps through me as I realize how much I wanted Anna to be part of it all. I can picture her here with us. I can imagine what it might have been like to have both she and Isaac in the car with us, holding our baby close as she sleeps, or passing her around and staring at her in awe as she makes those funny newborn faces. 


Sometimes I'm overcome with grief and I cry and cry. Other times I am laughing at Isaac. I have mostly been numb with sadness, and just sit and not want to do anything. 


I am choosing to trust God's best. I wanted Anna to get better and bring her home and raise her. I know I will experience many different emotions as I go through the grieving process. But right now, though I'm extremely sad, I can honestly say I am trusting that God knows why Anna was with us for only eleven days. It hurts. It hurts terribly. But I still love Him. I have reason to praise Him. The truth remains that He came. He loves me. He loves Anna. He came for us. That's why I can rejoice in the midst of my sorrow. Jesus is still with me. My daughter's death doesn't change His goodness. I can feel His presence with me - surrounding me - holding me up somehow. There is still reason to live! In one of the songs our choir has sung recently, some of the lyrics say, "Our long-awaited, wonderful Savior has come to deliver us out of the darkness and into this marvelous love that has given us life - new life! Emmanuel has come!"


So, I'm not sure I have a main focus or point in this post. I'm just sharing some thoughts...


It's almost Christmas Day. I should go to bed. 


I can't stop looking at the photos we have of Anna and our time with her. I keep looking, studying, loving, crying, rejoicing...


Here are a few more for you...


Dec. 15th


Dec. 18th - Isn't she beautiful?
Finally in my arms
First time Matt got to hold her
I got to wash her face
Our family


Thank you again for journeying with us. We appreciate your continued prayers, and we can feel them. 


Merry Christmas. 
Love your family. Cherish your spouse, your children, the moments...

47 comments:

  1. Oh, bless your precious, breaking heart. I continue to pray and read your blog. Please give your hubby a hug from "Mother Merry".

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  2. When you & Matt feel up to it,.try taking a look at this website.

    http://www.compassionatefriends.org/home.aspx

    Its the compassionate friends network. For parents who have gone through what you are going through. They have big huge workshops allll over the USA. they orchastrate a world wide candle lighting on december 11th every year to remember children all over.

    Check them out.

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  3. When you & Matt feel up to it,.try taking a look at this website.

    http://www.compassionatefriends.org/home.aspx

    Its the compassionate friends network. For parents who have gone through what you are going through. They have big huge workshops allll over the USA. they orchastrate a world wide candle lighting on december 11th every year to remember children all over.

    Check them out.

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  4. Oh, Alissa....thank you for sharing your thoughts. It's Christmas morning and my family is still sleeping but I am up early, reading the Christmas story and thinking of you and Matt. Just as the Lord knew what He was doing when he chose Mary to be Jesus' mother, God also had a plan when he chose you and Matt to be Anna's parents. He knew your faith, your tender heart, your unwavering dedication.

    Anna's life had a powerful influence on so many other lives this December. I know I too was moved closer to my Lord. Thank you for sharing Anna's life with us all. We love you and we continue to pray for you. Thank you for the sweet reminder to treasure our families this Christmas. I pray your Christmas will be richly blessed today!

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  5. Alissa, so good to hear your heart. thank you for sharing your thoughts. Blessings upon you and your family this Christmas. May the Lord continue to hold you close to His heart. Prayers and tears. Diane

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  6. It is Christmas morning~ I was thinking of you and your family as I have for many weeks. For some reason I felt compelled to share this quote from Taylor Caldwell:

    "I am not alone at all, I thought. I was never alone at all. And that, of course, is the message of Christmas. We are never alone. Not when the night is darkest, the wind coldest, the world seemingly most indifferent. For this is still the time God chooses."

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  8. Like the others have also mentioned, on this Christmas morning I awoke thinking of God and all his goodness and love and the of you, Matt and your family. I can feel that sadness and sorrow you have but also the love. The love between parent and child, wife and husband, mother and daughter, sister and brother, friend and friend. Thank you for your honest, raw, loving and heartbreaking testimony and for sharing Anna Joy and your whole selves with so many. It has a strength and power to mend and heal. Wishing you a Merry Christmas.

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  9. well it looks like people have stopped commenting. i just want to say have a merry christmas with your son issac and im sure anna joy is still around watching all of you on jesus' day

    much love and prayers from the rhodes'

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  10. I too think about you often and am so glad you shared just a bit of what you are going through and feeling. My thoughts tend to stray to you both so often, especially last night. At the Christmas eve service, it was all about hope and that Jesus was our hope back when he was born and even still. I feel blessed to have gotten to know you and little Anna through your blog. I have a stronger hope and faith after seeing what you have and are still going through. Have a very blessed Christmas, surrounded by your loving family! You'll still be on my mind and in my prayers for a long, long time!

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  11. Dear Alissa,
    Thanks for sharing from your heart. I will never forget this Christmas season, the one we shared with Anna Joy, although from many miles away. She will be in my heart and mind always. Love you so much, sweetheart. See you soon.

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  12. Alissa,
    Thank you for sharing with us. I know Anna Joy is rejoicing Jesus' birth with him. I know it isn't the same as her being in your arms, but she is in his.
    I think, what would be a great thing to do with her clothes and her giraffe blanket is to have a quilt made out of them. On those days you need a hug, wrap yourself in her quilt and know that Anna Joy is hugging you. The biggest question I asked myself when my infant son passed, did he know how much I loved him? Did he know how much he changed my life? And I truly believe he knew that I would never be the same ever again for having him in my life and knowing his love that short time. You will never be the same again. Anna Joy's love and life is a gift unlike anything else.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family. I wish and pray for you happiness and fond memories.

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  13. Oh, Alissa. I have prayed for your heart so intensely these last few days. I, like so many others, won't stop lifting you to Him.

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  14. Your faith is beautiful and inspiring to me as I struggle with so many questions myself. One more way Anna Joy has brought Jesus and the glory of God's plan closer to those here on Earth. If in the midst of your sorrow, you can still praise Jesus than how can I be so frustrated with Him. Reading your post makes me take a step back and look at everything from a different perspective. Thank you.

    I hope you had a wonderful Christmas day. May God continue to grant you peace and serenity.

    God Bless,
    Katy

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  15. Dear Alissa,
    I've never met you, but I feel as though I know you. I've been praying for you and always will. You have such a lovely grace about you - such a compassionate mother's heart. Your blog is beautiful, such a priceless tribute to your beloved Anna Joy and an inspiring testament to your faith.

    I'm so sorry for the heartbreak you're suffering. We lost our baby Gabriel 2 years ago January 13, and what comforted me too was holding the blanket he was wrapped in, listening to special music, and studying the few photos we have of him. Such precious treasures. It felt as though I might never be okay again, but like you, God's arms held me and carried me through the hardest parts. Now, I look back and see that the Lord strengthened my faith and there's a part of my heart in heaven, cradled in the arms of Jesus. Such a precious connection to our loving Father.

    My heart breaks for you. I pray that the love of your dear family and friends, paired with God's grace and comfort, will bring you peace and joy to carry you...until the day you hold Anna in your arms again.

    Love & prayers,
    Gretchen

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  16. I picture God saying to Satan, "See, I told you I could trust them to trust me.... " Your faith is what He asks of us all. And He wants you to be inspiration for us all that God really is in the darkest times. We all wonder why He didn't choose to heal her, and but I'm guessing He knew we wouldn't understand. She is now proud of you as well, and I imagine her telling everyone that those saints on the front row, who are thanking the Creator for loving and leading them, are her parents! They are praising the Father through their tears! May we all be as faithful, Matt and Alyssa, and when He calls us to trust!

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  17. Alissa, I just wanted to let you know that i have been and will continue to keep you and your family in prayer. Remember that the ache in your heart is the ache of being hopelessly in love. In love with Anna Joy, and having to be away from her while you finish your time here at your temporary home. It is the same ache we have in our hearts when we think about the sacrafice of our Lord Jesus for us. It is the contrast of that ache to the utter joy we will feel when we are joined in eternal life that makes us realize just how much we are loved by Him. God bless you this Christmas.

    Susan in Shelton, WA

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  18. My heart grieves for your loss...Praying for your precious family.

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  19. Thanks for sharing. The pictures are absolutly precious. I think about you numerous times throughout the day and ask God to comfort you. God Bless

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  20. Thank you so much for taking the time to share what's in your heart. You and your family have continued to come to mind so many times throughout the day and night, and like so many others, I'll be lifting you up in prayer for a long time. Thanks again for sharing, and the pictures of Anna are just beautiful. What a precious little sweetheart.

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  21. Oh I wish I was there to help you threw(Spelling?) this. I read your story on King 5 news website and started to cry. I can't even fathom what it is like to lose such a precious little one. I have a daughter of my own and here I have been worried about all the little things that could go wrong, I never even realized how blessed I was until I read your story.

    Sorry for my ramblings on this, god bless you and your family. I know your little one is looking down saying how much she loves you and Mat and Issac. My prayers are with you. I feel like I lost a part of myself reading your stories. I do get attached easily to things and people. Am so sorry. Keep your faith strong honey.

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  22. Alissa
    Being a mom myself, I know the love you have for your little girl and I can only imagine how difficult it would be to have to grieve the loss of a child. I am so sorry you had to experience it and am praying for your family and you. I hope you all had a Blessed Christmas and pray for peace and comfort as you go through her memorial service coming up in a few days. Know that you are being prayed for and are in my thoughts during this time. I thank your family for Anna as this experience has definitely brought me closer to the Lord and even my family. Take care, sending prayers!

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  23. Alissa, I cried as I read your post. I remember having so many of the feelings you shared after we lost our daughter a year a go next month. I am so thankful that you have faith in Jesus and that He will be there to hold you up during the days when you just don't know how you will get though. I think about your family often and I pray for you whenever I think about you. I love the thought that your sweet Anna, as well as my Emily Faith and all the other babies in heaven will never have any more pain. They are in a wonderful place and they get to spend their days with our wonderful Creator.

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  24. Alissa, while I do not know the ache and numbness of losing my own child, I do know the ache and numbness and tears of losing the person you love most. What sustained me was my faith in God. I admire your ability to share your love for Anna Joy and God with so many people which deepens the richness of Anna Joy's life. Blessings to all of you. Love, Debbie

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  25. You both continue to be in my thoughts and prayers. I think of you daily and your posts and faith have changed my life for the better. You make me want to be a better person. We said a prayer for you at Christmas Dinner and even my 3 year olds tell me 'Baby Anna is with Jesus'. There are so many people praying for you, I pray you feel the arms of Jesus surrounding you.

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  26. Thanks for sharing your heart Alissa! I checked in today wondering if you guys had updated and was surprised to find a few posts. Thanks for letting us all in on your journey to pray alongside your family. You are so right, our circumstances may change through life but they never change who God is. What an awesome testimony for you to be able to say that on here! Still praying for your broken hearts, may you be drawn into His presence!

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  27. Continueing to pray for you all Alissa. I know that you will have so many different emotions and feelings through this all. I don't understand God always, but one thing I have come to believe is that God is a big God and can COMPLETELY handle all of our emotions-grief, anger, joy, confusion. David is the only person who was "a man after God's own heart" and look at the Psalms-it included all of that and more. I am praying that you will go to Him with each emotion and that God will work through that to draw you even closer to Him and draw you to His love.

    -Carrie Hays

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  28. Remembering, and praying God's comfort for a brave, wonderful family.

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  29. Your words are beautiful. Thank you for sharing from your heart. Praying Romans 15:13 for you and Matt.
    ~Melanie Morton

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  30. Hey Alissa!!!
    I've been praying with you since you first told me of the news of sweet Anna. I'm still praying for you now! Even more so. I've wept with you and smiled at the stories of joy and hope as well. I will continue to pray with you along this journey! I'm so sorry that you've had to experience this. I may not know the depth of pain you are feeling, but I'm willing to let you lean on me as you need! I love you! I love the strong husband and spiritual leader you've found in Matt! I've never met him, but I feel as though I know him so well through his touching posts. My whole family is praying for you guys! We are behind you both as well as Isaac! I thank the Lord for the support system that is around you! God Bless.

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  31. Keep writing, keep pouring your heart out, keep crying, letting the tears drops of prayer fall as hard or as soft as they come.....The Father of All knows....and sometimes our words are the only words that can heal a heart that bursts, a heart that aches, a heart that feels so empty....but God made our hearts so we WOULD feel, and that we would have LIFE - ABUNDANTLY...so know that Anna Joy's brought Life ABUNDANTLY to many who may have never (or still never) ever enter or grace the front doors of a church, but they have SEEN and been TOUCHED be the Savior, because of YOUR faithfulness. Ask Chris and Mindy about what has happened to us, some 30 years later....while WE may be surprised, God isn't....for HE created us for the days and hours HE plans...not us, not the doctors, not our family.....We love you and can't wait to meet you face to face...

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  32. I don't know you but I feel like I know a part of you. My mother heart aches for you. I have a 6 month old daughter and I think of you often when I hold her. I use to ask God why even though I knew the answer. I wrote before that I felt that she would be ok and that it would be for His greater glory. I know now that meant in His arms.

    This next part I wanted to share with not just you but with others that might read this. When I read the note that said she had gone to be with Jesus I started to cry asking God "Why did she have to die". His response was "Why did Jesus have to die".

    He die for me. For Me. Without Him I am separated from the love of Christ. The pain I felt and still feel for you when you lost Anna reminds me of that. I cannot even imagine the pain it caused you, but God does. He willingly gave up His only son to die for us. The ultimate pain His suffered. I imagine He must have wept. Every pain we feel He knows. That is why He is called our Comforter.

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  33. So hard to believe that such a beautiful baby like Anna was so sick inside. I have said this before and yet I am going to say it again that I just cannot fathom the deep hurt in your heart! Even though we love the Lord and we know Anna is now safe in His arms this whole situation just seems way too much to try and accept. Only with the Lord's amazing power and His love can we heal. This is very tough and I am glad you are able to be honest about all the emotions that are whirling around inside of you! Healing comes when we can honestly grieve the truth of the journey. So thank you for sharing your most intimate journey with us! May our Lord heal you and strengthen you all!

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  34. Alissa,

    I have been following your posts since the day your beautiful Anna Joy was born. I have been praying for you whenever you come to mind since. It is so evident that God's precious hand is sustaining you and Matt. Your faith is unwavering. What a testimony you have been to those of us who know Jesus and for those who do not. You have opened your heart to all of us. You have been real and transparent. My mama heart has ached, felt physically broken and torn in two for you. I have at times sat in front of the computer for an unknown amount of time and cried uncontrollably for what you have had to walk through. Your precious baby Anna Joy is a beautiful baby girl. Thank you for sharing so many pictures with all of us, allowing us a glimpse into your personal, private moments with your beloved Anna Joy. It has made it so real for me, not just someone I'm praying for that I don't know. I love the pictures of her with her eyes open looking around - so adorable. And the ones of both of you being able to hold her near the end. Her beauty is breath-taking and I mean that. There are no words that can express the depth of sorrow so many of us feel for you and your family. It comforts me to imagine baby Anna Joy in heaven with God, given a new body, singing with the angels and other believers and worshipping her Creator. But it doesn't change the hole she left behind in our lives, in yours.

    Hold onto that little giraffe blanket and sleep with it as long as you need to. It only makes sense to touch and snuggle with something that touched and snuggled your treasured Anna Joy's body. Her cradle has no where else it needs to be right now but where it's at. Grief looks different to all of us. God knows exactly what you need at every moment and as He carries you through this, I don't think He'll mind the physical things you need along the journey. He loves you. He's grieving with you. You are held up in His mighty hands.

    I love you sister in Christ and I thank you for sharing your beautiful Anna Joy with us. My heart has grown because of her.

    May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

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  35. Thank you for sharing you heart! You have a beautiful heart...and some beaetuiful pics of your beautiful family. You are doing all the right things..grieving, crying, laughing, sharing. Let the healing tears fall. I have been praying and reminded of one of my favorite scripture that is appropriate for so many timnes in our lives. Differant parts of Psalms 30. "weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,that my heart may sign to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever." Keep trustring. He will bring you through. Morning will come! You will be clothed with joy! I am still praying. and grieving with you. I miss you guys so much. I Love you friend!! Lynetta

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  36. Your words are very beautiful! And what a treasured moment, being able to wash her perfect little face!

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  37. Continuing to pray for peace to overflow out of you during this sad time. I'm heartbroken for you. God chose you and He also chose Mary. How remarkable to be used to bring more to Jesus, though in such a very difficult way. We will continue covering you in prayer. We love hearing about and seeing Anna. She is beautiful.

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  38. Dear Alissa, Matt & Isaac. My sister, Lois, & my high school classmate, Dennis Caines, attends church with you; and they both shared the story of Anna Joy with me just after she was born. I live in Hawaii, and extended the link of prayers going out for Anna Joy and your family from all over the world. I've loved reading your heartfelt posts...and was amazed at how many people your precious little daughter touched in her short life. Your loss is unimagineable, but I can only picture you & Matt as yet one more miracle in this story. For you to find comfort from your pain, trust in the Lord as you let Anna Joy return to the heavenly Father, and the fact that you still find enough love in your broken hearts to continue to share your journey with so many people, is truly a miracle! God continues to work through your beautiful Anna Joy and you folks in ways that you'll never even know. Thank you for sharing so candidly. Love and blessings to you and your family in the New Year, and may God continue to give you peace and understanding.

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  39. I just found your blog today, through another blog, and I want to thank you for your inspirational story. I can tell how thankful you are for ALL of God's blessings in your life, no matter how or when they came to you. I am praying for your family and friends, that you continue to find the support you need and the strength to see good in each day. Praise God for your little Angel, Anna Joy!

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  40. I found your blog from a friend's link on Facebook and I've been following your story for a little while. I prayed for Anna many times, as the Lord brought her to mind. Thank you for sharing her with us. What a precious life! I'm continuing to lift your family in prayer.

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  41. Still praying for alll of you. I cannot even imagine...

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  42. Still think about you often. Just wanted you to know we are still here, loving and praying for you!

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  43. Matt & Alissa, I am still aching for the two of you and marveling at what God has done through your lives. Chris and I are hoping to come to the service for Anna Joy. Once again, thank you for sharing your precious one with us. She was so beautiful. Continuing to lift your family up in prayer. Heather

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  44. Thank you for sharing your "mama ramblings". The ramblings made perfect sense to me. It is hard to understand why God gives us something so precious and then takes it away. I know that God's plan is perfect in the end, but for me it is sometimes hard to accept the loss. God chose you to be Anna Joy's parents for a reason (though the reason may be a little misty through all the tears). I certainly don’t have any great words of wisdom as to how you should feel or what things you should decide. I think that you just plow forward and God gives you the wisdom to make the right choices. Someday when you get to meet Anna Joy again, she’ll tell you that you’ve done an awesome job and that she is very proud of you!
    Take care ~ Chet, Micah (and Collin from Heaven)

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  45. You two continue to be on my mind and I lift up prayers throughout the day, each day. I pray that God would be near to you during this time you are brokenhearted and that He would heal your hurts. They will never go away on earth, but in the future all your tears and pain will be wiped away. May you still be able to find joy in the gifts you still have and in Isaac, and may the hope of heaven be more real to you daily. Praying for you especially this weekend.

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