Saturday, April 27, 2013


I was blessed to attend the Chris Tomlin - Louie Giglio - Kari Jobe worship concert in Seattle last Saturday. Still singing the songs, still feeling the Spirit, still smiling at all God spoke to me and healed in me. Some of it celebratory, some of it tough truths. This one had me weeping...

"In Your everlasting arms all the pieces of my life..."
My life feels like it's in pieces - more so the past couple of years. I'm not THAT old, but I can look back and see the "pieces" of my life so far... some amazing, some horrible. What a comforting thought that they're all held in God's loving, everlasting arms.

"Whatever comes my way, I will trust You..."
Whatever? Honestly, that's not easy to say for me. Only in God's strength can I say that because I know He's carried me this far... and He won't let me go. Ever.

The past few weeks have thrown me into a new twist in my grief process. I was thrown when I heard my grief counselor, our counselor, our counselor-turned-friend passed away on April 1st. What a blow! This was the sweet woman who listened to our story, Anna's story, and encouraged us and prayed with us. She gave us Godly insight into ourselves and our marriage as we worked through our grief. She cried with us and laughed with us. She was possibly our only objective outlet, and man, I really miss her. I wasn't done talking with her. Not only do I miss her, and grieve my loss of her counsel and friendship in my life, but it feels strange to wonder where all our conversations went. (???) Does that make sense to anybody else? All I shared with her - all those meetings Matt & I sat with her and cried over our frustrations and feelings - all those words...

I know somehow they're not gone. They remain in my heart and mind (and some in my journal). And the basis of what Mary Gayle taught us was Truth, so I know that is eternal. But knowing SHE IS GONE from this earth... that takes my Anna-girl loss a little more out of reach... I don't like that feeling. But I'm already finding more peace day by day as I process and God has begun to show me healing graces within these stories.

At the concert I mentioned above, God showed me that as I was worshiping Him, Anna Joy and Mary Gayle were, too. Right then! It wasn't a here and there type of thing, but a here and NOW - together thing!! I saw them so joyful and complete and fulfilled, and that brought a bit more healing to my broken spirit. 

Oh, that I could stay more eternal-minded! Even after all I've experienced, I struggle with staying there. 

God, help me. I want to say, "whatever comes my way, I will trust You". 
Your arms are everlasting. And I'm SO thankful you can handle with care all the pieces of my life... from beginning to the end.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Insteads

Familiar thoughts:
  • I long to hold my sweet baby girl.
  • I want to see Isaac play with her.
  • I want to watch Matt rock her to sleep and make her laugh.
  • I wanted to get portraits of my kids together.
  • I long to buy her clothes and dress her - oh, she'd be so cute! I pretty much tear up every single time I walk by baby girl clothes in stores.
  • I want to see her interact with her cousins. 
  • I ache to witness my parents loving on her as she grows.
But, no. 
My time with her will be sometime in the distant future. Our forever future!

So, instead...
  • I touch her giraffe that has blood stains and rock her pink bear unfulfilled.
  • Isaac asks to see her photo in my locket, and carries her stuffed animals around.
  • Matt struggles to get through workdays, and we both look to God for help through feeling 'stuck'.
  • I study now year-old photos, and cherish the few we have of all four of us together.
  • I avoid looking at the few unworn outfits we have, and feel my heart break again.
  • I observe my son interact with cousins, and wonder how Anna's story might improve theirs.
  • My parents go on day by day... loving the grandkids who are still here with a love that has deepened because of Anna Joy.
Never enough here, but that is ever reminding me of there...

Waiting, aching with HOPE...

2 Corinthians 4:18
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Anna's 1st Birthday Recap

(I wrote this first portion sometime end of November or early December 2012... not long before her birthday.)


I bought pink and purple decorations today. When I first entered the store, I was focused on getting the task completed. Then shock hit as I stood lost among aisles of party supplies... 

She's. not. here. 

There won't be photos taken of her in a party hat or eating her first cupcake. There won't be gift wrap torn by little hands. 

Would her hair still be dark and wavy? Would she be long and skinny like Isaac or more rounded like my side of the family? Would she be walking yet?

I cannot believe a year has passed. A year really isn't that long (seems shorter as I get older), but the phrase of "a year" puts time in a box and doesn't make sense to me right now. 

So for today, I look forward and upward in hope. This week and this month aren't going to be easy. No sir. I nearly suffocate some moments as I think about what we were experiencing a year ago. I need to remember that we're not living those days again. We're in a new year, a new season. Live for today. 

What a blessing to have the opportunity to celebrate Anna's birthday and life with my family and friends who have been so supportive through it all. 

This Saturday, December 8th, 2012, Anna Joy would turn one year old. I have been trying to think of all the ways she was blessed instead of being super overwhelmed by all of the time I didn't get to share with her.

(This portion was written the end of January 2013...)

Matt & I anticipated her 1st birthday with both fear and excitement. I dreaded everything about the day - the memories, the emotions, the unknowns of how it would go. I had no idea what would happen or how I would do. We planned her party for the afternoon, but I knew I would need time by myself before all that happened. 

That morning, I intentionally watched the clock. As her birth time approached, I escaped to my room. I hid in the corner on the floor between my nightstand and the hope chest with her giraffe and bear on my chest and stomach. I lit a candle, took out my pen and journal, and bawled as I wrote whatever came... and watched the time. When I saw 9:36 appear, I lost it. The combination of memories and emotions that flooded me is still indescribable. It was the same grief, but a new version I hadn't experienced previously. 

Here's my journal entry from those agonizing minutes huddled in a dreadful sight of tears and pain on the floor:

"It's your first birthday, sweet girl. I weep for all I'm missing about you. A year ago I was pushing you out. God was intervening for us in powerful ways - ways I will never fully understand or be aware of. But I think back and am amazed...
      ... you're almost here...
I was laboring so hard, pulling strength from Father God, being held by Friend Jesus Christ, and comforted by the Holy Spirit.
      I was so motivated to see you. Yes, I had fears, but God was so close - so many people were praying. You are such a blessed girl.
      I will never forget the first time I saw you. I was so thrilled to finally see you and meet you face to face.

{9:36am}      Happy Birthday
                           Anna Joy!

You are my daughter!
      You are such a blessing, a gift I don't deserve to call mine. I will always marvel at your beauty.
      Do you get a birthday party in heaven? Are you like a 1-year-old there?
So much of me wishes you were here. There's so much I didn't get to do with you.
      But I'm truly happy for you, that you don't have to deal with this world. I can only try to imagine what wonders you get to experience. I know you get to dance with Jesus and sit on Father God's lap, wrapped in His loving, everlasting arms.
      Rest there, sweetheart.
Show me what you see, what you hear, what you feel.
      You have changed my life, Anna. I praise God for you and will forever rejoice over you.
      I can't believe it's been a year. Nothing really makes sense anymore.
      We celebrate you today, thanking our Lord for YOU and all the blessings that have come to us because of you."

After that horrible but healing remembrance, I slowly unfolded from the heap, fixed my make-up and went back downstairs to continue setting up for my baby's first birthday party. The first one of many that we have to face without her present. 

We decorated, friends & family gathered, we shared. It was a very comforting, healing day overall. We were again overwhelmed at the support we have not only locally, but from distant friends. 

A friend from church offered to pick up flowers for the party even though she couldn't attend. I pictured just a couple bunches for one arrangement, maybe two if there was enough. This is what she brought me! I was so touched. Another friend came over to help arrange. We had these, plus a few more arrangements people brought. Surrounded by pink gentleness & beauty.

Anna's birthday card from my dad

One of my scrapbook pages. It says,
"I will never forget this sight, this kiss, this joy"

One of her keepsake boxes
On the front door
From another friend: 11 pink and 1 white. So thoughtful!

Even though a year has gone by since we welcomed our Anna Joy into this world and into our arms, it doesn't take much to move us back to that very moment. 

When I was younger, I thought a year was a long time. But I'm learning I can't put labels on what time should feel like or look like anymore.  It can't be true that a whole year has passed! On the other hand, the past year felt so incredibly long some days. 

I may have all that mixed up inside me, but I also have been covered in a sweet grace that I can't help but fall into. I have no doubt we've been protected from so much. I think God has covered our eyes at times so we haven't seen things we weren't ready for, or steered our feet so we'd walk in a brightly lit path - without our knowing. 

The way our Heavenly Father faithfully & gently carries us through has continued to amaze us. Not that we think He would ever drop us, but His care is so very constant, personal, and obvious. 

I may feel that not much makes sense sometimes, but when all I know is that Jesus is with me, and He won't leave me or fail me... nothing else matters. It's what makes this unspeakable heartache survivable. 

I'm holding on, and I'm celebrating through the tears.