Prayers for his “One day Wife”

In the last week, my 4 year old has made a few comments about his “one day wife.” He wanted to know if he would marry his sister and I found it surpringly difficult to explain that while yes- one day she will be a bride, she will not be yours. “So she will be a mommy and I’ll be a daddy but we won’t even live in the same house!??”

😲😭The horror.

He’s FOUR and over the dissapointing convo. Currently he’s playing dinosaurs with his side kick and I hear both laughter and rawrs. I’m listening to them but my mind has drifted to our convo and his heart. And her.

Sweet girl who I do not yet know. I pray you will understand the significance of your role as his wife. You will be closer to my son and my heart literally beating and walking outside of my chest will belong to you for safekeeping. I am working and fine tuning him now to be the man you will need to lead your family. Don’t hold your breath for perfection- he’s got two imperfect coaches. Though hopefully he will be a reflection of his father. Faith builder, truth seeker and undeniably loyal.

I will stand behind you as if you were my own. And in this very moment I will rally your causes to heaven.

I hope you’re being raised by a family who loves you unconditionally and instills kindness into your heart.

I pray you are slow to anger and quick to forgive with a soft heart and a gentle spirit.

I pray your spirit is fed daily. And if it’s not, you receive Christ’s love and protection from those around you until you are lead into a relationship with Jesus for yourself.

I pray as you grow you’r reminded of your worth.

I pray you have a handful of the best girlfriends! An army of people to defend and love YOU through difficult days and you recognize the value in that love and loyalty and friendship.

I pray you loves my son unconditionally & together you both still love God more.

I pray Jesus prepares me to love you as my own and instill in me the characteristics you need.

And I pray we develop a friendship too.

I pray Emme loves you like her own sister and yall are able to share in your own laughter and love and friendship.

And Luka,

I pray you find an easy love. A love you don’t have to question. I pray the hardest days will be met with gentleness + forgiveness a million times over. And you give that in return. I hope I see you climb all the mountains and face every challenge. I pray for a full life covered in grace. And always {ALWAYS} the truth burried so deep in your vessel no one can destroy your spirit. I pray you find it in you to build others and never destroy. To share Jesus and know He is always with you.

Tums & Tears

Current status: lying in bed while all my favorite people sleep safely under mounds of blankets. My thoughts are at war with my tired body. Anyways- I’m actually not this person. I’m usually the first to hit the hay. Tonight I’m up with tums and tears. And thoughts on thoughts on thoughts.

Today my OB appointment was scheduled to verify a completed miscarriage. I expected to hear this was a closed chapter and I could pick up the pieces and restore my spirit in a new season. But it’s not over. I hate this.

Losing my baby was traumatic. It was awful. . In this very moment I can feel the violent departure… Why don’t we share this- The ugly part? The PAINFUL part. Why aren’t we connecting in our grief? Physically, it’s HELL. And the worst part? We labor in loss. I pushed and gave birth to an angel baby in the hall bathroom. Alone. And in a teary panic I reached my hands into the toilet to bring my baby into eye sight even though I had no clue what I was looking at. It’s a bloody mess. It steals your breath and in that very moment you know. Permanently separated, until Jesus calls you home, from a very real part of you.

Emotionally it’s damaging. We question ourselves. What did I do wrong? I never missed a prenatal vitamin…or had more than 2 cups of coffee.. I drank more water than I ever wanted- Why did my body fail me? The doctors reassure you without prompt that this is normal + it’s not your fault, and on and on. And everyone is different.

For me, there’s an entirely other element. Losing my baby resurfaced the trauma of losing Justin. I bet every loss for all of my days will bring me back to the moment I lost him.

It’s difficult to make sense of it all. How to grasp even an inkling of understanding in the mess. I don’t question God. I do, however, wish I could see all my broken pieces, pieced together for His glory.

My doctor said my HCG levels aren’t decreasing the way she would like. (The irony) Every pregnancy test still reads positive. I have two weeks to prove a pregnancy test is negative before we dive into the possibility of Trophoblastic Disease. Which let me say now, I’m certain I don’t have. I’m sure a pregnancy test will appear negative within the next 13 days. But that’s beside the point.

I WANT TO SCREAM. THIS ISN’T FAIR! I want my brother. I want my baby. I now want (irony x 2) A negative pregnancy test.

There’s a beautiful song by Natalie Grant that speaks to God being God before our destruction. And that while it’s in our nature to take the reigns on life… He has us!!! He is the same today as he was yesterday. No matter what storm we are facing today, the waves and wind still know his name!!!! The truth is the truth regardless of our current status. Feelings and circumstances change- but God is the same today, yesterday and forever. And for me, appreciating this truth minimizes my pain. Because I know God is working. I believe my pain can be used for Jesus. Faith in God changes my focus from why to who!! Jesus!!! GIVE ME JESUS.

“Just a whisper of your voice can tame the sea So who am I to try to take the lead Still I run ahead and think I’m strong enough
When you’re the one who made me from the dust

When did I forget that you’ve always been the king of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world
How could I make you so small
When you’re the one who holds it all
When did I forget that you’ve always been the king of the world

Oh, you set it all in motion
Every single moment
You brought it all to me
And you’re holding on to me.”

Bruises & Blooms

I want to make a point to share the details through my blog. The ugly that isn’t talked about, The goodness that we see in the middle of the ashes but we don’t always share and FEELINGS. Because clearly I have enough of those to host a hallmark.

I was on the phone yesterday with my best friend feeling overly exhausted from the 24 hours of events, loopy from the meds and blabbering what must have evolved into nonsense at some point and to her saving grace, the doorbell rang.

A lady handed me the most beautiful bouquet of flowers. I had no idea who they were from.

But the card-

“I Love you so much for everything.
I LOVE YOU MOMMY,
Love Arlo”

oh JESUS! Hold my aching heart!!! I’m running through the people who knew our angel baby’s name? Who did we tell? I called my mom to thank her, not her ..I had just gotten off the phone with Nana, it wasn’t her. I texted my husband. He called me.

My tough, tender, thoughtful partner in this life (who by nature is sturdy and always our strength) was crushed. This man is absolute gold. Yesterday, he was a man who wore a strong face. But, privately he wept and wrote a letter to his wife from his son in heaven as a symbol of love and LIFE. and I will tell you this, no flower from this man could ever be more sacred to me. these blooms sitting on my table will be hung to dry and pressed into my bible.

To tell you I don’t ache is a lie. But I AM managing with a rally of prayer and support. My husband’s heart is so beautiful. His spirit is in cahoots with Jesus. And he keeps reminding me to TRUST. And I DO.

Please- if you’re reading this through loss of your own, hear this one thing: God is present. God can take the heaviest portion of your burden. Don’t walk through this valley alone. This has been my greatest lesson. I cannot tell you the peace I have FELT!!!!! Which learning this will be another post entirely.

I know life wounds us. It’s meant to. We see beauty, like blooms and feel the ache of old bruises in loss.

But our God is so GOOD. Our trials change us. They mold us and form us into different versions of ourselves. And all for HIS glory.

Ending (I promise) with James 1: 2-5 :

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it GROW, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”

Hills and Valleys pt2

If you haven’t read PART 1, GO NOW.

Only four days ago I was clutching the sides of my chair with an anxious heart and praising God. Singin’ “What a Beautiful Name It Is” O U T L O U D inside Women and Children’s Hospital like it was my day job. Two days prior to this very moment aditional bloodwork was requested. I won’t lie, fear crept in. But I just knew God was restoring and fortifying.

Instead of begging God, I told him my heart- I warred for my baby to LIVE! To GROW!

LIVE BABY! STRENGTHEN HEART! GROW!

And all in Jesus name. I told God I trusted His plan. Really trusted him. And that if He takes my baby, my faith wouldn’t shatter this time. And then, AND THEN- I surrendered. I worshiped. I FELT PEACE. <— and I can promise this sort of peace only comes from the Father.

The doctor called me back and told me to expect a miscarriage. I wagered he was wrong. I just knew God was making a way for a miracle.. And truthfully, in my heart of hearts, I believed I would see this doctor in 6 months and SHOW him how BIG my God is.

I don’t understand, and I don’t know why…but God decided to take. LOSS in any form hurts. It bleeds us! It changes us. And sometimes His plans don’t make sense. After Justin, I learned real brokenness. AND BECAUSE OF JUSTIN, I have learned how to be utterly destroyed and rise above Satan’s lies.

Last night around 5:30, in the hall bathroom I went into labor, alone and scared. But my baby opened his eyes for the very first time and saw JESUS. It was a painful night in a thousand different ways for me. But for baby, it was indescribably perfect.

And the absolute shining light in this valley is knowing my child who EXISTED, who I love, who I miss already, will never experience the pain of this world. Only JOY.

And NOW, a part of me rests in another world, seperated by an invisible distance yet tied eternally with love, just like my brother.. And I KNOW my brother is already loving him; Holding him until I can.

A sweet friend of mine facing this same storm reminded me of this verse In 2 Samuel where David is told he will lose his son. And David weeps and fasts for a week warring for his child’s life. When the child passes, David stands and cleans himself and eats. The servants ask why he eats now?

And David responds

22 David said, “While the baby was still alive, I fasted, and I cried. I thought, ‘Who knows? Maybe the Lord will feel sorry for me and let the baby live.’ 23 But now that the baby is dead, why should I fast? I can’t bring him back to life. Someday I will go to him, but he cannot come back to me.”

And I kept reading it and praising God “Someday I will go to him”

And that is where my hope rests. I know when I get to heaven I’ll open my eyes and see Jesus. And right behind Jesus will be two guys I have loved more than myself their entire lives.

My sweet baby boy,

I love you. I DID WAR FOR YOU. I WANTED YOU, here with me and your daddy and brother and sister. But God has bigger plans for you in heaven, And his plans are perfect.

It won’t be very long, and I’ll be holding you in my arms,

All the days of my life I love you,

Mommy

Hills and Valleys

Something I haven’t shared- Mostly because I was waiting for the “right” time; a safe time. . . We’re pregnant. & Baby3: your mere existence brings unspeakable joy. When the discovery of your precious life forming inside my belly occurred, my first thought was of something my brother said the night before he died. At dinner with my aunt and uncle, he told them he was sure I would have more children. (Something I likely would’ve argued). But, he was certain of it. And He was right.

The due date of the sweet life I hold inside shares the anniversary week of my brothers death. THIS ISN’T A COUNCIDENCE. GOD IS DOING SOMETHING. I know this. It’s exactly two years later. To be honest when the nurse told me my due date, I failed to connect the dots. Weeks later, lying in bed, I stumbled upon Isaiah 66:9 “I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born.” And it hit me. Like a train.

I know that SHOULD feel promising and hopeful. But in the moment it felt eerily like a game of chess. Even lightning shooting through my body would have felt less traumatic. Because I couldnt wager one life for another. You’ll take My brother? But give me a son?

But that’s TOTALLY missing the point. And that is not what God’s saying.

The name Isaiah actually translates into salvation or GENEROUS. And I’ve thought about it…I have a beautiful family. God has been MORE than generous throughout this life. I have two amazing healthy kids yet here I am with the Lord’s generosity growing inside my womb. He is giving me joy where I have pain! The valley my brother left will always exist. I WILL ALWAYS SEE IT. I will always feel it. But God chose to place a mountain beside the valley. He chose to fortify my joy and my hope.

I know I heard God when he told me this child was mine. And I believe whole heartedly it is a boy. Right now I’m scared. I want to war for my baby’s life and also prepare my spirit if God takes him away. The baby’s heart rate is low. I’m bleeding and my hcg levels aren’t strong. Saturday morning I’ll return to the hospital to revaluate and continue more bloodwork. I hope and pray that Saturday night I can write of God’s miracles.

So on repeat, I’ll be chanting this. hills & valleys

Healing Words & What NOT to Say

Words are so very powerful. They build and destroy. And when destruction comes, there are always well intentioned people to offer “support” and unwanted advice. And sometimes, all we really need is quiet; stillness. A chance to soak in the devastation and just have someone sit – with us – in the fire.

No one knows what to say to a grieving friend who just lost someone to suicide. There are no perfect words when someone is standing in the ruin. For starters, “I’m sorry” is acceptable. I couldn’t tell you how many well intentioned friends shot unintentional bullets.

The first thing to remember: a suicide survivor never needs a reminder of who’s decision this was. It is NEVER news. Our anger, misplaced or not, is part of the grief. The journey will be so different for everyone, but I can assure you- There will never be the right moment to remind them that “this was her choice”.  We know. We always know….we are learning to live with that. Survivors live every second of their days wondering WHY. Angry at circumstances that lead their loved ones to this choice. Often times buried in guilt for not being able to save them. So please, resist your reminder. Sometimes, it is better to say nothing.

Resist the summation of WHY this happened. I don’t need your answers. I am still making waves of this myself.

For CHRIST SAKE, please stop saying “She should focus on her other children” or “Live with the ones who are living” “You still have family HERE, on earth”. Those are dangerous words. OF COURSE, Losing one child does not take away from the gift of 3 children. But losing one child is enough to feel the flame of hell. And until you have stood in the flames and laid in the ashes, could you possibly resonate with the intensity of the grief? The answer is NO. Lost love is unable to be measured. Only felt. Shut up and let them feel it. It’s their journey to cross, not yours.

“Time heals all wounds”. But does it? The truth is, no, it doesn’t “heal”. Loss is not an illness. Surviving suicide is more like a life sentence. We may grow use to our circumstance, but we will never recover from the pain and the hollowness of baring this world without them. They belonged to us, and us to them. No passage of time will ever change that.

SAY THEIR NAME. OUT LOUD! Speak about them with positive stories and keep their memory alive. They way they laughed or loved.. funny stories and characteristics and just all of it. IT DOES HELP to talk about them. Good memories, only the good memories.

Allow GENEROUS Latitude. Grief is foreign… there is no map of when and where things get easier. Again a well intentioned friend shared a meme on my Facebook eluding for me to shorten the grief experience. Essentially it felt thoughtless, though I know that the sender was also a survivor (years into the journey) and wanting to help me through my pain. but I think the real lesson here was to remember that ALL grief is different. What helps one survivor years into the journey is probably not in tune with the needs of someone walking out of the flames, smoke still in the air.

Meals were great and appreciated. And cards and texts that required no answer were helpful. THE most important thing, and what I think GOD for, are the ears that heard and continue to listen. The friends and family who genuinely heard the cries and reciprocated with cries of their own and hugs. Give all the hugs.

BE PATIENT. Be flexible, grief tends to be a roller coaster. BE present. Be careful with your words. And always, always be kind.

But Take Heart, John 16:33

It’s been awhile since I shared my heart. It is no longer filled with anger. I’m no longer bound by hatred. The intensity of my emotions seem to have softened and the storm challenging my peace exists in smaller proportion since the initial devastation.

I can look back now and see that God gave me something I actually could not handle. (alone that is). Alone, I am nothing. In him, there is strength and refuge. HE managed the storm and provided a small but sturdy raft while I lay devastated, shook to the core, lifeless.

oh the raft.

Time and time again JESUS waded the waves and slowed the growth of the dark clouds and all on my behalf . And I see it clearly now. (Even though I did not then) Christ is moving for US. He is making a way when there is no way. When the earth crumbles beneath our feet and hope is a foreign concept….when anger billows through the blood and our ears are deaf to his word….HE is PATIENT for our return, He is DEVELOPING our inner strength and according to HIS PURPOSE, The Lord is refining us. OUR PAIN, OUR RUIN . . . will ALL be used for his GLORY.

LET GOD BE GOD.

When I fought the demons of guilt, I took on my brothers decision as if it were my own. I reread every word between us searching for the missing piece. I felt SURE I missed something. He was telling me the whole time, in his own way, and I just didn’t give him the words he needed. HE CRIED OUT. HE NEEDED ME. This world was too heavy a load. I should have lifted his burden.

when I battled planted seeds of abandonment, I questioned how a GOOD God would allow this to happen. I wanted to KNOW WHERE WERE YOU GOD!? How did you not intervene…Why did you allow your child to break so horribly? Where is the Glory?? A child is now without her father… a family dwells in ruin and ashes. Friends are broken…You can do anything Lord, but you played a silent role. WHY!?

When the days of anger tore apart my peace, wedged itself between my marriage, became a road block at work, with friends, in my writing. . When I couldn’t see the sky without rage crushing over my spirit because I COULD NOT scream any louder. And I didn’t feel heard anyways. I physically felt the strain in my vocal cords. I decorated my home with holes through the walls from furniture thrown. I shattered glass to see it break.

And when my body went limp from complete exhaustion, still Jesus was there. I remember sitting at a red light while it changed 3 times unable to move my foot from the break peddle. I watched car after car drive past at a 4 way stop, and I never moved. I saw people move their mouths though I never heard a word. I drank bottles of wine and felt nothing. I cried myself to sleep wondering the purpose of life.

This world is heavy isn’t it? I know my pain isn’t isolated. Every human on this earth will walk through their own fire. During this journey- through the guilt, abandonment, anger and exhaustion… (the entire time I questioned GOD)…. I did not pray, but I wrote as if I were pleading with my soul to continue hope. to BELIEVE in His truth. Because, Please also hear this: instinctively I ALWAYS felt sure of MORE.

THE GRIEF FOG JUST CHALLENGED MY ABILITY TO SEE.

Because of that buried truth inside my heart, I searched. I searched for answers like I never have. I needed a hope of seeing my brother again. but this time WHOLE. HAPPY. FULFILLED. ETERNAL. And that’s exactly what I believe heaven is. This need was more present, more REAL than any physical need I had.

During the first year, when the fog was so heavy I began to doubt, I found spiritual support in a variety of places. He pursued me through my Uncle Mike. He pursued me through my rock of a husband, my nana and my sweet, sweet friends. He sent me unexpected laughter, prayer and truth. He sent me WISDOM and GRACE. My husband and my uncle poured so much scripture into my vessel that I began to feel the warmth of the sun. Did you just read that? I mean it. IN A LITERAL SENSE… I was driving home one day, my arm was growing warm, and I FELT it. It dawned on me…The sun provided warmth I had forgotten about. I looked out through my window…and the sky was BLUE! The clouds were WHITE. It was as if I had just opened my eyes for the first time. IT WAS MAGNIFICENT. When did God paint the sky?

And so i guess I’m saying, There was no single moment. But a thousand moments. Moments like I just described where I look back and say, OH. That was YOU. Those verses from my Uncle, That was YOU. Those nights of screams and anger where Lance never left my side, That was YOU. When I told my husband I didn’t know Christ anymore, and he returned everyday with prayers and examples of God UNTIL he could see the change for himself…YOU. And it was YOU who made me feel the sun and SEE the sky. In all of the darkness, You never left. And it is for this very reason why John 16:33 is my fight song.

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.

War with the Storm

Well. We just experienced our first residential tropical storm along the coast. It rained for weeks. When Tropical Storm Cindy arrived, we turned up Disney and made snacks. We played the tickle bug game while we hunkered down in the cozy pallets and mountains of pillows. There were rounds of laughter and huge messes scattered across the floor. We made tents and we pretended to find hidden treasures to help us survive.

All the fun in the world, but little man saw through the windows and he heard the wind in a way he never had before. His eyes grew big and for a few moments, I knew it genuinely scared him.

We talked about the power of storms. The fear of its’ destruction.

And then we talked about God.

I need for my children to hear it from me. I need them to know without a shadow of a doubt where our peace comes. Our circumstances change. Life is this web of good and bad and lots of grey. We get tangled and stuck when our focus shifts.  Even when we tread the path of destruction, we dare not lose sight. Don’t lose sight. I want to reiterate this message all the days of their lives.

Focus on the Lord. FOCUS. That’s it. . Let him battle, you need only be still. He loves you. It matters not where you are nor where you’ve been. It does NOT matter what you’ve done.           Surrender. It. All. And then breathe.

Currently, the winds have calmed and the rain is holding back. The sun is out for the first time in weeks! Much of the ground is flooded, but I took a lesson in rejoicing in the stillness of the storm and the warmth the sun shares through the (window) pane. This day is a pretty fair representation of my heart on the grief journey. I opened a couple of windows so the kids could feel the warmth and hope for what the day may hold. And since we don’t know tomorrow, here is to being thankful for today.

Memorial Daze

IMG_1109Two weeks ago: ((Memorial Day Weekend)) We were in the car headed to another sunny day filled with giggles and splashes in the shallow waves of the gulf. Lance was driving, the kids were sleeping, and I was thumbing through loads of happy mommies posting to instagram when a song came on the radio that scorched my heart.

As I fell into that familar daze, I felt a strong hand stretch across my lap to hold my own.

The song wasn’t sappy. It wasn’t sad…honestly it had nothing to do with the actual song. Though, a new memory that was triggered because of it. I remember blaring it from my car with the windows down as I dragged Justin and Caitlin to the pool. That small memory took me back to another kind of happiness. A feeling of summer and freedom. But mostly, the feeling of fullness that I didn’t even recognize until it was gone. Life before grief. I missed everything that was.. and our sweet Lord- he has provided for my heart! He gifts me with family and friends that support me and guide me through the storm. Even still, theres a sting for everything that will never be. And I had a reminder of the life we shared… And truly all I want is to relive one of those days. .

Being from Alabama, I could remember a life spent WAITING for summer trips to these beaches. It’s our place. FAR from my husbands’, but he takes the kids and I nearly every week. He’s a good one. Living here and soaking up this salty air has been a beautiful bandaid for such a deep wound. The wound wont fade, and though my core bleeds, I pray these memories never do either.

Sweet Mercy

IMG_0733Our calls (into Gods’ divine plan) may look so different. But what a beautiful reminder that our valley’s are still working for our good. That even in the middle of heart ache, he is refining us. And all for our GOOD. Ahh, my heart! While I don’t understand the pain my little brother endured- And I wish and I prayed for divine intervention; I cried to the Father, to save him! I pleaded on my hands and knees for his life.
But you know what, that wasn’t fair. My love for my family is selfish. My brother got so much more than this life had to offer. So even though my heart aches deeper than I’ve ever known. . . You never failed us. You didn’t fail him. Maybe Justin needed only the sweet recovery you could offer, Lord.
Sweet Mercy. I choose you God. I choose your love and your goodness to continue refilling this void. And friends I believe when we all gather together in heaven, every one of us will be restored whole. Whew! Immeasurable HOPE blooming here.

%d bloggers like this: