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


  1. Hi Alissa and Matt, Thank you for sharing so much of yourselves and your grief. As someone who has also lost a child (although very different ages and reasons) I find I can identify with so much of what you write. It is healing to hear how someone else has struggled with grief, and to an extent has found healing and glimmers of hope. God bless you and your precious family, Kim H

  2. Great to read your words again! God is faithful- He is doing something new in you and that is a blessing! Love you bunches. Still praying for all of you.

  3. Wow - powerful words from two very strong women. Thanks for sharing, Alissa, and please thank your friend for allowing us to read her words as well. I think of you often and pray that each day brings you balance, that you are feeling both peace and hopefulness during the (many) times you are thinking of sweet Anna Joy. Love you guys. ~Rae

  4. Oh, you are blessing SO many through the sharing of your words (and your friend's works) and the revealing of your beautiful hearts, so closely held in His. If my heart aches like this for you, I really cannot imagine how yours and Matt's must feel, but neither can I imagine a more amazing example of how to go and grow through something like this in a way that glorifies God and draws us all closer to Him as you continue to do. You are all - and very much including Anna! - are loved, remembered, and most definitely prayed for. God's grace and peace be yours, Linda

  5. Hi Alissa! So wonderful to hear your heartfelt words again, and also that of your friend! Like your friend Linda said above, Anna Joy is part of my life also. Moving on does not mean letting her go. She is not attached to one moment in time which recedes in the distance. She is attached to God, in His presence, just as we all seek to be through Jesus. It is we who draw closer to her into our future of eternity in the presence of God. My fear is the opposite of being close to grief. I worry that I will push too hard or too close to that grief and burden you further. I am very aware we are three short months away from the first anniversary of celebrating Anna Joy's birth and grieving her death. I want to hear more from you and Matt about how your life looked to you one year ago at this time. I want to travel with you through that time as you look back on it. I we will draw together again for the one year anniversary of her birth, and of her death, and of her life in the presence of God.

  6. You are beautiful in your surrender, because in that you reflect the Beautiful One as He surrendered his life for us. Dear Alissa, as you live out this loss and this new life without your precious daughter, you fulfill 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 I'll write it here. I used to know it by heart. I need to let it be written on my heart again. Thank you for letting us see you. ♥ Kathy K

    Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (NIV)

  7. I still pray for you and your family daily. You are such an inspiration to me.

  8. Praying for you, and remembering nine months ago, today. Peace to you.

  9. Alissa, I'm so happy for you that you, Matt and Isaac are finding new joys and challenges to look forward to. There will never ever be a moment when you won't remember Anna and that is good. Getting 'back to normal' just means a new normal for you . . . not a normal that forgets Anna. As someone who had to find a new normal years ago after severe depression and darkness, it does get better but only when you let it. Remembering Anna and loving Anna doesn't have to be done in darkness or in sadness. Love to all 3 of you . . . it's been so good to see you enthusiasm and good cheer at the store, too!

  10. I love that there is strength found in the Word of God; You are my refuge and my shield; your word is my source of hope.
    Psalm 119:114

    Thinking of you.

  11. love this song -wanted to share, as it has been a great comfort to our family during hard times. You guys are an amazing family even in the midst of heartache. Amber

    1. Thank you, Amber. I love that song, too. I shared it in my previous post.

  12. You are such an inspiration. I know you don't know me, but we knew of your story long ago from a friend. I made an outfit for your sweet Anna. I prayed and prayed as I stitched her name. Everything about Anna's life has touched me in unimaginable ways. I don't know how you stay so strong. I recently lost my baby at 10 weeks gestational age and was devastated. I keep trying to tell myself that there is a reason and search for answers constantly. You really hit home when you mentioned you want to be asked about Anna. I feel the same. I lived with a little one that I loved for 10 weeks and now, everyone seems to have forgotten. They avoid asking how I am doing out of fear of upsetting me I am sure. I just want to let you know I have not forgotten you or Anna. I think about her almost all the time. Your strength amazes me.