Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Many of you didn't get to see this slideshow we made for Anna's memorial service. I share it with some hesitation, as it is very personal. I may not leave it here on the blog for long. 

The second song used is one God gave us through a friend. I recorded it in sickness and emotional strain just a few days before the service. Looking back, I don't know how I got any sound to come out at all. 

The photos... the feelings... the memories... my voice... it's all so raw. 

I just watched it. It's hard to believe it's really our story. 

But I share because I want to continue to celebrate Anna's life. The miracles, the joys, the ways God is carrying us and changing lives. Watch if you are willing, and praise God with us for His presence with us, for His promise of hope and joy - even amidst the pain of this world. 

Thank you for your continued love & support. 

I love you, Anna Joy Peppley!!!!!!!!!!!
Forever and always...

[Video removed for privacy.]

(PLEASE respect our privacy and honor Anna's life by not saving or sharing this video or any portions of it.)

Songs used:
"Audrey's Gift" written by Michael W. Smith, from It's a Wonderful Christmas
"Little One (For Anna Joy)" written by Kathy Kerber, also titled "Safe In His Hands"
"Cathedrals" written by Mark Schultz, from Renaissance

Some photos taken by volunteer photographers from the organization Soulumination.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Even Now

Nothing like a holiday to awaken emotions. Good, bad, ugly, beautiful... they're all here in me. 

Somehow I am overflowing with thanks today. It's Thanksgiving; we're sometimes forced to   list our blessings or speak them aloud. 

Amazingly, I don't have to be forced. Oh, I have reasons to be angry and questioning. And I do express those feelings, believe me. Those are real and necessary in the healing process. 

I am full of sadness over my loss of little beauty, Anna Joy. But a genuine thankfulness has risen up in me as I reflect on all the blessings of my journey through her story. Like God prepped my heart and mind while I was sleeping last night.

This morning Matt told me to peek out our bedroom windows revealing the pink sunrise, bright over frosted rooftops. Like it was quietly asking, "Will you continue to hope?" It's a new day.

Not long after that sight, my precious beautiful son practically jumped through our bedroom doorway, announcing his welcome to the day. Enthusiasm beaming on his sleepy, but happy look.  

God has blessed me abundantly, and I feel that fullness has brimmed and spilled over. I want to share these blessings with others. I want to shout the goodness of God - YES, even now, in presence of severe pain. 

I am grateful for being drawn so close to Him that my every breath depends on His faithfulness. His grace saves me day after day.

* * *

There is no adequate way of expressing our thanks to all of you who have walked this journey with us this past year. Matt and I would like to send out two small words that carry huge meaning and sincerity for us. 


They sometimes seem trivial and familiar. Please believe them, though. They come from our hearts wrapped in authenticity and humility. 

We have often discussed how blessed we have been through the support we've received. Truly, we have been carried by God through YOU. Your prayers, your cards, your encouragement, your empathy, your hugs, your gifts...

We had these announcements printed this past spring and did our best to send out to those we could. There was no way we could have sent a tangible one to most of you... thousands of you who have cared and prayed. 

So here is one for you. Imagine it was sent to your mailbox, hand-addressed. 

There is always something for which to be thankful.

We celebrate that gift today. The gift of gratitude. The ABILITY to be thankful. 

Even this... Even now?

Days of questioning. Weeks of heartache. Months of sickness. Year of hell meeting heaven. 

Yes. Especially now.

I choose to look toward heaven. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Random Update/Prayer Requests

November 19. She's been gone 11 months. I really, really miss her. I was just looking through photos and watching a few videos. 

She was so beautiful. 

I miss everything... her warmth, her smell, her movements, her hold on my finger... Ahhhhh... this hurts.

I wish I had more time with her on her birthday before surgery. I wish I could have kissed her cheeks more. I wish I could have cuddled her. 


I have been sick since the beginning of September. I think my body might be having a hard time fighting because of the stress of grieving. And... we moved toward the end of September. And... I started working one day a week. Please pray for strength and rest so I can get better. We're entering a really difficult time, and I would like to experience it as healthy as possible. Matt and Isaac have been sick, too. They seem to be mostly healthful presently; I'm hoping they stay strong. 

Isaac is such a blessing. He gets me up and going in the mornings. He makes me laugh. He cuddles with me. If I sniff, he asks if I'm crying and if I need a tissue. He asks me to sing to him every night. We talk about Anna and what happened, that she died and is in heaven. I am a little concerned about his grief. I don't know what his heart is experiencing, but I know he understands that Daddy & Mommy are sad and stressed, not always strong or patient. He's been quite sad when we leave him with someone or in a class. He has been very attached to his lovey-blankie-thing. I know these things could be just that he's 2 1/2, but I wonder about other adjustment and stress issues. I don't know how much to let go and how much to discipline. That's tough in a "normal" parenting atmosphere, but throw in 11 months of grief and loss, plus moving into a new home a month and a half ago...  I'm praying for wisdom for what he needs. 

We have decided to have a birthday party for Anna. We're not certain what it will look like yet, but we want it to be a time of remembrance, celebrating her life, sharing memories and praises, and encouraging each other. I'm both nervous and excited about it. 

We also want to do something honoring and intentional on December 19. Sometimes I feel I'm about to suffocate from the weight of the pain. But I also feel privileged to honor such a beautiful life. 

I need balance of motivation to get stuff ready, but not pressure myself to do more than I can handle. Our counselor advised us to be sure we do what WE need to do through this time. That's not easy because I don't know what I need most of the time. I want to focus on honoring my daughter, not just planning events. So I guess pray for clarity of desires, clear communication between Matt & I, and enough energy to pull it off... whatever is essential and necessary for our healing process.

Here are a few photos of Isaac & I enjoying nature in the rain a couple weeks ago.

(I truly am blessed. And so thankful. 
He won't always want to hold my hand. So I savor now...)

Sincere thanks for your continued support.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Keep Shining

A couple days ago I found some magazines that we purchased last year before we went to Seattle to await Anna Joy's arrival. It was the end of November, so there are a couple of Christmas themed ones. I just picked one up a few moments ago to look at while I ate lunch. I didn't get as far as opening the first page. This is what I noticed in the bottom corner...

That is the very day we let Anna go from this earth and freely soar to Jesus' arms. It brings tears just to see the date. And the wording hurts my heart. "Display until..." then it's on with the next season, the next publication, the next fads. 

Part of me died when Anna Joy left us that day. I miss her terribly and can hardly stand the ache in my broken heart some moments. (Like now...)

Unlike this magazine, I won't ever stop displaying my beautiful daughter and my love for her. She was and will continue to be a bright star that points others to HOPE and JOY and PURPOSE. I won't let her be replaced or put away. I won't ever "move on" from the days I shared with her here. With God's help and support of others, I will move forward bit by bit. But never away from. 

Anna Joy will be displayed forever... even if only in her mama's heart and tears. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Still here...

There is so much happening that I don't know where to start most days, so I haven't been writing here. I write in my journals quite often, and talk to God almost constantly. But it's hard to start a new blog post most days. 

I'm still here. We are holding on, day by day... moment by moment.

October was especially difficult for me in my grief journey. I had some wrestling matches with God. Lots of questions and hurt and anger to process. And surrender... again. 

We're half way into November already, and I don't feel ready for it. We're approaching the one-year mark of Anna's birth, her 11 days with us, and letting her go. You can't plan for these things adequately; feelings are unpredictable. The weight of it is pressing in, down, around already.

Time keeps ticking even though I beg it to slow down. But it doesn't obey. So I take another  deep breath and hold on.

It's unbelievable that we're at this point. Most of my days have felt slow motion, so how have we come through nearly a whole year? On one hand, those days with Anna seem so long ago, but on the other hand, I can "be" there in a split second, like I'm living it again. The emotions, sick feeling in my stomach, exhaustion, and strange mix of hope and sorrow sweep over me. 

Please, please keep us in your prayers. We are at a fragile place. We ourselves are fragile. Our brains don't work sometimes. I am in tears at odd moments, and in a different world a lot of the time. 

I hope to write more often, even if the posts are short. We'll see...

Thank you to those who still check, care, and pray.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

"I Knew I Could Trust You"

Our friend, Pastor Dave Ness, blessed us with a visit over dinner last week. He then came to our home and sang the song he wrote for our family titled, "I Knew I Could Trust You." While sitting on our couch, he played his guitar and we all cried through the summary of Anna's story placed sweetly to prose and chords. 

His involvement in our lives through this entire journey has been a blessing. He and his wife, Joy, invited us to stay in their home while we waited for Anna to be born. We ended up staying elsewhere, but saw them several times whether over dinner or at their church, or when Pastor Dave would come check on us at the hospital. Always, with prayer and words of encouragement. 

Pastor Dave & Joy know the pain of losing a baby. They lost triplets. And Dave shared that God gave him the last portion of this song just recently, on their 18th birthday. 

I Knew I Could Trust You 
For Anna Joy’s Family 
Dave Ness 
August 23, 2012 

Unexpected miracle, then unexpected trials, 
Advice to just “start over” and avoid most certain pain.
Instead of starting over, you decided just to love her; 
Instead of giving up, you gave our Anna Joy a name. 
And you asked for prayer 
And the game was on. 

I knew I could trust you. 
I knew I could trust you. 

Faith in me runs deep with you; you knew that I could do it... 
I don’t do odds, just miracles; precisely what you need! 
No matter what the outcome, you knew I’d help you through it, 
Your call for prayer went worldwide and sent thousands to their knees 
For an unborn child 
they’ve never seen. 

I knew I could trust you. 
I knew I could trust you. 

The only chance this baby has takes everything you’ve got, 
And even then the odds are ten percent; 
She doesn’t need one miracle, but several in a row— 
The world is watching carefully 
To see where your prayers go.... 

Your faith has been rewarded! Your little girl is born. 
She’s beautiful! She made it through the night. 
A week has passed; you stare into amazing little eyes 
So this is what your answered prayer looks like! 

The only chance this baby has takes everything you’ve got 
And even now the odds are ten percent; 
She doesn’t need one miracle, but several in a row— 
The world is watching carefully 
To see where your prayers go.... 

Silent teardrops falling on a perfect little face, 
Anointing fading hope from aching eyes. 
The miracles have run out and it’s time to say goodbye; 
A million faith-filled prayers have now become a million "why’s"?

Will you love a baby you will only hold for minutes? 
In only precious hours will she know a lifetime’s love? 
Will you carry hope for her when there’s no more hope in it, 
Then sing her to the angels up above? 

I knew I could trust you. 
I knew I could trust you. 

Will you keep your faith in me when dreams are crushed and shattered, 
When there’s no understanding, only pain and pain and pain? 
Will you keep on holding on to faith and one another?.... 

I knew I could trust you. 
I knew I could trust you. 

“Why, God, why?” (I get that a lot) 
But you’re in the world which now is caught 
Between the perfect worlds that I have made: 
The Garden, where there was no pain, 
And heaven, where my Son will reign; 
You’re still in the world that’s drowning in its sin. 

So take my hand; I’ll lead you through, 
When you can’t walk, I’ll carry you 
Until the day when you’re with her again. 

I know you feel you’ve loved and lost, 
You took the risk and now the cost... 

The sword in your soul, 
The grief you bear, 
You wonder if I even care, 
And if I do, Then, why? 
Then, why? Then, why? 

It takes faith to believe that I can do it; 
It takes more faith to trust me when I don’t. 
Your faith will be rewarded, child, and so will all the others, 
Who kept that faith and keep their joy in hope.

Someday when you’re here with me 
And pain’s a forgotten memory, 
You’ll understand the things you can’t know now– 
Like how it is a God who cares 
Could leave His children standing there 
With empty arms, and not be weak or cruel. 

The answers will come in heaven; 
Healing will come in time; 
But the peace I give is for you, right now. 
Receive it, and know you are mine. 

The answers will come in heaven; 
Wounds become scars, in time 
But the comfort I give is for you, right now. 
Receive it, and know you are mine. 

I want you to know how this story ends. 
I want you to know how this all turns out: 
There’s a place beside my throne– 
You call it “heaven;” I call it “home”– 
When all your earthly chores are done, 
You’ll join me here, to stay. 
And, waiting here, 
Is your child of prayer. 

She’ll launch herself into your arms and never let you go! 
Your road of grief will end at last in joy around my throne, 
You’ll hold your precious Anna Joy forever and a day! 

In the tunnel of grief... 

I’m here. 
I’m right here. 

And I love you. 
I’m proud of you. 
I’m holding you... both. 
And I’ll never let go. 
Never let go, 
I’ll never let go. 

One more thing I want you to know, 
Even though it may not seem it’s true: 
When you’re able again, 
You can trust me, too. 

I knew I could trust you; 
You can trust me, too. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Every Day Surrender

Hi, friends... close, far, and unknown...

August 2012
We are doing pretty well. There are some positive things happening in our life, and although it isn't without challenges, we feel blessed and excited. 

My last post told about our loss of another pregnancy just 6 months after we said goodbye to Anna Joy. It took me to a darker and emptier place in my grief. I am doing much better now. I still have many questions, but am learning that I don't have to find the answers. That is hard to let go of, but I have realized that it's best to focus my energy on getting through the day instead of trying to figure things out. 

A new season is coming. And I don't mean Fall, although I love this time of year. I sense a changing of seasons in our new life without Anna is just up ahead. We are still very sad, still cry many tears, still study her photos, still imagine what it might have been like to have her here with us... always. But God is stirring up some blessings, and I'm starting to taste them. We can feel His presence, and He continues to carry us through this new territory. 

I can get through more days with less stress. I have been able to take care of our home with more motivation instead of being overwhelmed. I look forward to meeting with people and accomplishing tasks. This is such a blessing! After a year of complete sadness and helplessness, it is so refreshing to be able to function like a (more) normal person. Please don't think this means we don't need your prayers and your help. We need both desperately. We are still very tired and never know when our emotions will erupt. 

It's a new life. We've never done this before. And a lot of you haven't been friends to someone in this life before. Please don't be afraid of us. Please talk to us, ask how we're doing, and talk about Anna. The more time that passes, the farther we get from her. Hearing others talk about her or ask how we're doing makes it real and grounds us again.  Life goes on, but we're often stuck and end up watching the rest of  you continue, wondering if we'll ever feel the way we used to. I've heard and read it gets easier, and we're just barely starting to see that happen. But I'm also a little afraid of finding "normal" again, because it means I've let her go. And I'm not quite ready to do that. 

Here is a blog post by a friend of mine who lost her baby girl just a month and a half before we did. She describes it so well. This is where I'm at...

This Juxtaposed Life....

By Laura Finnegan, August 29, 2012 (

Ours is a juxtaposed life. And it's hard to live.

So sad about so very much loss. But on the other hand, blessed with so much.

Three boys, that in my estimation, hang the moon, a husband I've had the privilege

to grow up alongside, and a love for all of them deeper than any ocean. Such blessing.

But right there, right there next to all of that "goodness," is indescribable sadness and

sorrow. The grief of losing our baby girl, our only girl, our sweet daughter Brynna.
What undefinable heartbreak.

How do I live this juxtaposed life? Fitting two unlikely halves together in a feeble attempt 

to make my heart whole. It doesn't really make sense. This situation is nonsensical.

On any given day, it may be the sadness that has the wheel. Taking us for a ride on the 

bumpy, dark, unforgiving, unrelenting road called grief. The next day, we may have a respite
and be able to focus our attention on our living children, our sweet boys, Colton, Aidan and

And we have no choice, no say in the matter. The days, the hours, the minutes, they are what 

they are. We cannot dictate or dissuade the sadness, it just comes. We also cannot stop our 
hearts from yearning for happiness and growing with love. So mixed up is our life.

So we just keep on, continuing to rise each morning attempting to make our way through each

uncertain day. Some nights we fall into bed and lay our weary heads down in prayer that
"tomorrow will be kinder". Other nights we go to sleep with just a sliver of reassurance because 
that day has proven "more doable" than the one before.

At times it's enough to make a person crazy, this juxtaposed life.

I hate not having her.  I love having them.  I am heartbroken.  My heart is healing. 

I am sad.  I have moments of happiness.  I feel weak.  I am becoming stronger.  
I cannot stand.  I am standing.  I can't do this.  I am doing this.

This is a crazy life.

So, here we are. On we go. 

I get nervous about the long winter coming (lots of dark skies, clouds, and rain here in western Washington), but I know now that I'm not alone. God is always with me, and I have many friends around that I need to let into my life. I'm taking another step into another day (and a new season), not knowing anything except God is faithful and He'll carry me through. 

We keep learning to trust. It's not a one-time lesson. Trust is an every day surrender. Trusting God with the unknowns, and trusting our broken hearts with friends... It's scary. I don't want to hurt anymore. Yet, like I've written about before, there is no blessing without risk first. There must be a question asked, a heart offered, a love given, a life surrendered. 

I have to cling to Christ. I must make intentional effort to connect with His Spirit through the Word, worship music, devotional readings, or journaling. I have nothing without Him. If I trust Him to carry me, there is hope. 

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.
Hebrews 6:19a

You are my refuge and my shield; your word is my source of hope.
Psalm 119:114
I love the Lord, for he heard my voice;
    he heard my cry for mercy.
 Because he turned his ear to me,
    I will call on him as long as I live.
 The cords of death entangled me,
    the anguish of the grave came over me;
    I was overcome by distress and sorrow.
 Then I called on the name of the Lord:
    Lord, save me!”
 The Lord is gracious and righteous;
    our God is full of compassion.
 The Lord protects the unwary;
    when I was brought low, he saved me.
 Return to your rest, my soul,
    for the Lord has been good to you.
 For you, Lord, have delivered me from death,
    my eyes from tears,
    my feet from stumbling,
 that I may walk before the Lord
    in the land of the living.

Psalm 116:1-9

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Love Always Hopes

The past month and a half has been unbelievable. 
Nearly unbearable, but we're still going somehow. Just barely.

The word empty has been my choice descriptor the past few weeks. 

Loving someone who isn't living is torture. Loving a baby who didn't even live two weeks is robbery. I'm left with longing that will never be fulfilled. I'm left with a few photo files that will never grow like my other child's does. I'm left with tubs of tiny unworn girly clothes. I'm left with a shattered heart, and the contents have spilled out. 


Tasks that are routine for normal people are overwhelming to me. My thoughts, emotions, prayers, and longings are using up all my physical energy. I have nothing left to give.


On May 21st, I burst into tears after watching the pregnancy test reveal that I was expecting again. The burst was caused by a sudden mix of emotions. Shock that it could happen so soon... Excitement for another little one to join our family... Fear of all that could go wrong... Blessed that God would give us another child... and worry that Anna might be forgotten or that I wouldn't be able to grieve for her appropriately as I carried another child. But mostly, I cried in praise to God because I was so thrilled at the thought of another baby to carry and birth and love and raise. I got out the tubs of clothes that were intended for Anna and looked through, dreaming of another girl. I looked at baby pictures of Isaac, wondering if we'd be blessed with a second boy.

Three weeks later Matt & I attended a memorial service at Seattle Children's Hospital in honor of all the children who have passed away there. I can't even explain the horror I felt as I entered that building again. I wept with such rawness, it hurt so bad. The last time I was there was when we held Anna for the last time and said goodbye... and I had to walk away. She spent her whole life there. Hot tears streamed as we walked the same halls, rode the same elevators, visited the same waiting rooms, and peeked into the ICU. Anna's room. Anna's world. Our memories with Anna. But she wasn't there. 

Two days later, June 8th, we celebrated Anna's 6th-month with my extended family. It felt right to celebrate somehow... to get flowers and balloons and look through the memory boxes. It never completely feels right, because I don't like this outcome. I wish we would have been celebrating with her present. Celebrating her healing or even another successful surgery... But we celebrate her. She happened, she was beautiful, she was worth it. 

A good friend presented me with an amazing gift on that same day. Months earlier she  asked family and friends to create a scrapbook page of what they learned from God, Matt & I, or Anna through this whole journey. She compiled several and put them in an album titled "Thank You, Anna Joy". I sat and cried over every page. Truly priceless. (If you would like to make one, or even just write to us with the same concept, please do! We would love to add to the album.) Here are a few examples. 

My first ultrasound for this new pregnancy was June 14th. I was eight weeks along, and had a huge amount of apprehension and excitement attached to my heart. I couldn't sit still or breathe deeply. I just wanted to get in and get going so I could see my tiny baby bean and his/her strong heartbeat. I couldn't wait to see the heart beating! I just wanted to know that everything was OK this time. 

So many questions have surfaced since Anna Joy's passing. She wasn't healed and I don't understand that. I wondered with this new pregnancy if I should even ask for a healthy baby. I knew God would hear me... but would it make a difference? He already had a plan for this child, and I believe knows what is best for me and my family. But I had such a jumbled mess of thoughts and feelings swirling that I couldn't even really pray for specific things. But I started a journal. A new journal for another child. Just like I have for Isaac and Anna. I spilled my heart to this new baby, and gave her/him to God. I didn't have the strength to analyze whether or not I should ask for a perfectly healthy baby, but I knew I needed to surrender again. And I knew I needed to love. Thus, as scary as it was, I opened my heart to another child. 

Matt & I watched the screens in the ultrasound room as the tech measured this and that. Finally, the gestational sac was front and center. I've had and witnessed so many ultrasounds, I knew something didn't seem right when I saw this sac. I couldn't find the little bean-shaped gray spot that should be inside the black circle. Just black. My concern was confirmed when the tech stopped humming with the radio, and after a few moments left the room saying she needed to talk to my nurse. 

The gestational sac measured six weeks instead of eight. Two possibilities: 1) I was six weeks along instead of eight, or 2) there was no fetus developing.

Excuse me? What is happening right now? THIS CAN'T BE!

Matt & I left in shock, depleted of any little energy we had when we arrived at the appointment. I got in my car and wept. Too much. 


We had to wait a full week for the next ultrasound which would answer our question of whether this was a viable pregnancy or not. It is so weird to have a positive pregnancy test (or two!), all the normal symptoms (nausea, hunger, exhaustion, etc.), and give your heart to a new little person... only to find out that there's a possibility there is no baby growing. 

Two days after that first appointment we participated in The TEARS Foundation Rock & Walk in honor and remembrance of Anna Joy. We had a small group of friends join us, and we walked as team "Wholehearted". Matt & I agree that it was more difficult and emotional than we expected, but it was very worth-while and healing. 

Then it was Father's Day. Poor Matt. Man, the holidays hit hard. Not only did he miss his baby girl, but the absence of his own father was more acute this year. He felt the loss from both ways. 

We made it to the next ultrasound appointment. The hope I carried in with me was dashed soon after the tech started looking. The screen told me the same story. I knew. Empty. No baby. What a numbing experience. Surreal. Unbelievable. Too much.


I couldn't believe I was being told I was going to miscarry. Too much!

On the way to hospital a week and a half ago for a D&C, I was numb. But God was still able to speak to my heart. Matt Redman's song, "Never Once" started playing in my head. I quietly, weakly sang a few phrases as I watched the world zoom by through the car window.

Every step of preparation for the procedure took me further down the path of grief. The raw sadness of the past year blurred thicker as I put on the gown and climbed onto the bed. The emptiness of missing Anna penetrated deeper as the nurse forced the IV into my arm. The realization that I have no answers hit harder as I answered health questions. The love for my husband burned stronger as he held my hand, stroked my hair, and wiped my tears. 

Obviously, I was already struggling as I tried to manage the grieving process... but this has been quite the blow. Like we were just starting to stand up a bit, then got pushed back down. Really, God? Is this a joke? Are you seeing what You're allowing here? HELLO???

I have learned these past few weeks that it's OK to be useless. I am a task-oriented person who finds it natural to accomplish, organize, analyze, etc. How strange it feels to not be able to do anything! I was already so "out of it" the past few months after losing Anna Joy. Now... hm. I got nothin'.

Too tired to sleep. Too sad to try. Too drained to ask "Why?"

Too much.

I'm so glad God can handle things. I guess He doesn't need me to keep things going. :)

He says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28) OK, I can do that. I fully know what that means now. I have had no other choice. Well, I guess I could run away from Him. But that would get me nowhere, and I'd be lost and alone and hopeless. No, I choose to go to Jesus. That's all I have energy to do. Just "be" and let Him hold me. 

A couple months ago a dear friend gave me a heart-shaped charm with Anna's name on it. She told me she saw it and had to get it for me, was reminded that "love always hopes", and that's what we've done. That really touched my spirit, and I haven't stopped thinking about it since.

Love always hopes.


That's why we wanted Anna to get better. That's why we were crushed when she died. That's why I opened my heart to another baby. That's why I felt empty when we got more bad news. We hoped because we loved. 

I wouldn't be feeling this pain if I hadn't loved. 

But if I hadn't, I also would never have...
- felt the joy of putting my whole heart into my beautiful baby daughter
- experienced the exhilaration of delivering her and holding her
- noticed the tinge of pride that wells up when I say her name
- been filled with awe when I study her beauty
- gotten so close to my Lord by pouring my heart out to Him
- grown as deep through loss toward my husband
- cherished my days with my son as much
- worshiped God with such abandon
- met and hugged other mothers of angel babies
- walked through cemeteries with as much respect
- been so inspired to share my faith
- appreciated medical staff and services as personally
- had the humbling task of accepting so much help
- sought the scriptures as fervently
- savored every genuine hug & smile I receive
- looked at people with as much grace
- wanted to defeat evil so badly
- pictured heaven so tangibly
- craved that which is meaningful as deeply
- been as driven to live wholeheartedly

That phrase "love always hopes" (from 1 Corinthians 13 in the Bible) has helped me look up toward the positive through all of the craziness the past few weeks. It has helped me get to a point in my grief journey that isn't all sad. Some days I can look at photos of Anna Joy  and smile at her beauty. I can touch her giraffe blanket and feel comfort that she once touched it. I can read past journal entries and be thankful that God has walked with me through it all.

Hold on to hope. 

Here is the song that carried me into the hospital last week. Please at least read the lyrics  and let the truth sink in. It's even more powerful if you listen to it as well.

Standing on this mountaintop 
Looking just how far we've come 
Knowing that for every step 
You were with us 

Kneeling on this battle ground 
Seeing just how much You've done 
Knowing every victory 
Is Your power in us 

Scars and struggles on the way 
But with joy our hearts can say 
Yes, our hearts can say 

Never once did we ever walk alone 
Never once did You leave us on our own 
You are faithful, God, You are faithful 

Carried by Your constant grace 
Held within Your perfect peace 
Never once, no, we never walk alone 

Every step we are breathing in Your grace 
Evermore we'll be breathing out Your praise 
You are faithful, God, You are faithful 
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

I feel empty in many ways, but I know I'm not truly empty. I have love and hope in there somewhere. I have faith, even if it's small right now. My arms may feel empty and my womb may be empty. But God's love has never filled me so full. God didn't DO this to me. God didn't push me down further while I was already struggling to get up. He's not testing me or seeing how much I can handle, or any other trite answer people think they need to give. It is what it is, and God is still Who He is. He is good and He is love. That's all I'm holding on to right now. No analyzing. Just soaking up all the love I can.

One of the verses I have clung to this past year is Romans 15:13. "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." Now it has a different twist. Feeling empty? May the God of hope FILL YOU.