31 days of hope.

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This has been a year of hope for us.

 

A year that started with us expecting to add another child to our family.  A year that quickly turned to us hoping for the best and getting the worst.

 

A year where we hoped for life, for survival, for a heartbeat, for minutes, hours, and days together.

 

A year of hope that God is who He says He is and that He’s got this – all of this life.  A year of hope that He will bring healing.

 

A year of learning what hope is and what it is to have hope.

 

 

Will you join me for 31 days as I continue to learn about hope?  As my eyes are opened, my mind is slowed, and my heart is secured in the hope that comes from the Lord.

 

 

Day 1:  why hope?  because our second son died 

Day 2:  hope endures 

Day 3:  the sun coming out and a 2 year old

Day 4:  celebrity talking hope 

Day 5:  5 months since Gabriel’s birth 

Day 6:  …for we put our hope in You

Day 7:  hope and joy

Day 8:  waves part 2. more about grief and hope 

Day 9:  show you remember.  light a candle

Day 10:  in every season.  surgery day

Day 11:  small hopes + an update 

Day 12:  short definitions

Day 13:  the stars in the sky

Day 14:  hard to see hope 

Day 15:  waves of light

Day 16:  squeaking by

Day 17:  for the weak

Day 18:  still here

Day 19:  student of hope

Day 20:  a hope and a future

Day 21:  remembered

Day 22:  a day late + a dollar short

Day 23:  a star

Day 24:  a hopeful tribute

Day 25:  a thankful heart is a hopeful heart 

Day 26:  sports 

Day 27:  sunday encouragement

Day 28:  waves of light celebration, love, + support

Day 29:  links to hope

Day 30:  memorials of hope

Day 31:  a recap of all of this 

 

 

 

 

 

Joining up with the Nester for 31 Days of writing through the month of October.  My first post will go up on the 1st – tomorrow morning.  Here we go!

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quiet september loud october.

September was a quieter month for me on the blog.  I felt short on words and I didn’t know what to share, even though there’s been plenty I could have said.  It’s been a month of a lot of fatigue, so I spent more time resting and less time stressing over blog posts and other things.  But now October is upon us [how can that be??] and it’s time to be a little more structured and a little more disciplined.

 

So in line with that I have decided to participate in the Nester’s 31 Days.  For several years she has had 31 Days in October where she writes on one topic for every day of the month.  I have loved reading her posts and topics in the past, and this year felt like it might be a good time for me to jump in.  So for the month of October I will be writing for 31 Days with the topic of 31 Days of Hope.

 

I will be back tonight with the first post in the series, as she’s kicking it off an evening early.  I hope you will follow along with me this month and see where 31 Days of Hope will lead us.  I have no expectations, really not much planned for it, but am anticipating it being a time of great learning and revelation for me.  Thanks for reading along!

waves.

I started going to see a counselor back in the summer.  I realized I needed help processing things.  I was getting easily stressed, easily overwhelmed, and was becoming increasingly anxious.  I ended up back at my incredible OB’s office even after I’d had my last 6 week appointment.  I was stressed and I didn’t have another doctor, they were everything to me, and I knew they would help me.  So I went and saw my nurse practitioner who I count my friend and my sweet OB.  I told them I would start going to counseling.  And I did. 

 

My pastor and his wife pointed me to a woman on staff at our church who was very helpful to me.  I saw her several times and was greatly encouraged by her.  Here is my version of something she told me to explain grief: 

  • You’re standing in the ocean looking out onto the beach.  And little waves come up and pass you by.  They might bobble you a little but for the most part you get through them okay.  Then all of the sudden, out of nowhere you get completely knocked down by a huge wave, and you never saw it coming.  You stay down for a little while, have a really hard time getting up, and struggle to stay on your feet and face the waves that come in after that. 

 

And I am learning how true this is.  There are many times where I thought we were through the worst of it and wouldn’t have any more really hard times.  But then I get knocked down by a big wave and remember that we are still in the grieving process. 

 

For those who are also grieving and newer in the journey than us, I want to encourage you that it is better now.  It’s not as constant and as heavy as it was earlier on.  We still have hard days or weeks but we have also noticed that they are more spaced out than they were.  I can talk freely about Gabriel now without tearing up like I did earlier on.  I can process things and handle more in my day to day life than I could in May and June and July.  But when the hard days come, they are hard and I’m reminded of just how different grieving is than anything else I’ve been through in life.  The hard days make it all so real and remind us of what we miss and how much we love our Baby Gaby. 

 

This summer we sang this song at church a lot.  And I always found it so very true to our life this year.  It hits home hard.  “Your grace abounds in deepest waters.  Your Sovereign hand will be my guide” We have learned that to be so true this year.  I’ve never experienced grace like I have this year.  Have never experienced hope like I have this year. 

 

 

I hope you will find great encouragement in it, too. 

 

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it came it came.

It came!  It came!  Gabriel’s marker arrived!  We have been waiting since May for his marker.  We ordered it the week after the burial, approved the layout and design in July, and have been waiting for it to arrive ever since.  It was supposed to take 6-8 weeks, but in typical fashion for us, it did not go smoothly.  However, Monday I got the call from the woman at the cemetery who we’ve been working with that it was in.  I love that it came in on the first day of fall!  We will always get to remember that, and it was really special to celebrate the new season by getting his marker set. 

 

I was so excited that I declared the rest of the day would be a very special day.  So I changed our plans, and instead made it an afternoon and evening of fun!  Jack and I went to pick out a couple of pumpkins to get excited for fall.  He got to pick it out and carry it around the store, too.  And it even made it home in one piece.  Then I fixed a frozen pizza and we ate it outside, having an impromptu picnic to celebrate.  Then we headed over to the cemetery to see his stone. 

 

I had thought that it might be hard to see, that it might somehow make it feel more final.  But it didn’t.  It already feels pretty final, so that didn’t make it more so.  In fact, I actually felt better seeing it.  It felt really good to see his name there marking his spot.  It looked beautiful to see his name written out – our declaration that this is our child who was here, was valued, was loved, and now he is in Heaven.  Very important to us.  So we were happy to get to celebrate that. 

 

The bad news is that the marker is crooked.  It’s like looking at a picture hanging on the wall crooked.  I noticed it right away.  I’m a person who notices things like that.  They are going to fix it for us.  And actually the granite was cut poorly as well, so he is going to get a new slab of granite as well.  It was frustrating, but the woman there seems to be on it to get it fixed and really there’s no point getting all worked up over it – it doesn’t change anything.  Here are the pictures of it.  And once he gets his new marker I will share the “perfect” pictures. 

 

We had a great evening remembering our sweet Gabriel.  Jack helped us in celebrating his baby brother by placing new flowers in Gabriel’s new marker vase.  I picked out these calla lilies because they are the same flowers that were in our wedding.  I picked out 4 to represent each one of us in our family, and Jack picked up on that as he handed a flower out to Tommy and me before he put them in the vase.  Special, sweet memories from Monday. 

 

 

 

 

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short on words.

I have been short on words for the blog lately.  I’ve sat down to write multiple times and just come up with nothing.  My mind has been preoccupied with several things lately, and I found myself knee-deep in them with little room to think of other things or other people.  I don’t like being in that place – although it has happened a lot this year.  Thankfully, this week I’m a little bit clearer in my mind. 

 

I have plenty of things to share and sure enough a lot is happening at home, at work, with Jack, with Tommy, and with me.  But I feel quiet.  My family and friends around me a lot may disagree 🙂  but feeling quieter lately. 

 

I realized the other day that this is the first year of my life where I am not looking forward to fall.  Fall is one of my favorite times of year.  And usually I am so ready for summer to be over that I start getting ready for fall as soon as reasonably possible.  I wear jeans and boots, put up fall decorations, start wearing sweaters, and get geared up for all of the fun there is in the fall – hay rides, raking leaves, bonfires, pumpkin spice everything, pumpkin muffins, the mountains, the colors, etc.  This year I haven’t thought about fall at all.  In fact, I was even caught off guard by days recently that felt like fall.  In my mind I was thinking that it couldn’t possibly be fall yet.  That’s when I realized that I wasn’t even looking forward to fall this year. 

 

I think it’s because this whole year I have focused on the summer.  I never made it passed the summer in my mind.  With my due date of May 26th, and May being our special month I had built that month up, and then tried to prepare myself as best as possible for what would come next – be it a baby at home with us for a little while or no baby to bring home.  I was so thankful that we made it to May with Gabriel.  That was a gift.  Then he was born, then he died, then we came home from the hospital and life continued on.  We did summer.  We did summer, and life, as best as we could – the best way we knew how or could muster having lost a child.  It wasn’t the best summer.  It wasn’t a great summer.  And in fact, we didn’t even get to do the things we wanted to do, the things we thought we would do, because of my health problems.  We had to shift our plans and our thinking yet again.  But we survived.  We made it through the summer, and now we’re on the other side and I have no clue what we’re doing. 

 

I never planned for fall in my head.  I never got further than the summer.  I never made any plans of what we’d do or how we’d get through the fall or the winter or the spring.  And now the seasons are changing, and it seems to just reaffirm that Gabriel isn’t here with us and life continues to just move on.  We don’t get to do fall with him.  And quite frankly, I have no clue how to do my favorite season with a broken heart. 

 

It also feels as if the season of Gabriel will come to a close if we move on into fall.  And I think that is the biggest reason that I am fighting fall.  This whole year has been about Gabriel.  I had him at the beginning of the summer, and summer was our time to remember him, celebrate him, and mourn our loss of him.  Now we are faced with the challenge of moving on yet again and finding ways to honor him in every season.  I certainly will accept that challenge, but my heart is having a hard time letting go.  Letting go of the hot days and warm nights that were spent crying out.  Letting go of the days of the sun beating down on us as we stood on his grave at the cemetery.  Letting go of the ever-present sunshine that seemed to bring cheer to the gloomiest days of our lives.  Letting go of the freedom of summer that allowed us to be a little more relaxed and to freely mourn.  And now we must usher in the days of fall.  The cooler, crisper, lovely days that signal a change in season for the weather and for our lives.  We’ve mourned the death of our son for more than a third of a year now.  Grief is a funny thing, the way it is, and we continue to learn more the more we walk in it.  The changing of the seasons brings on more grief in itself, but I can’t help but believe that God designed it that way for a reason.  So we continue on, and this year I reluctantly accept that fall is coming, if not already here. 

 

 

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I finally took my summer wreath off my door yesterday, and replaced it with a fall decoration.  It took me awhile, and is my first step forward in accepting fall. 

4 months.

Thursday marked 4 months since Gabriel was born and died.  Tommy and I both feel like it’s been much longer than that.  Maybe that’s because today marks 8 months since we learned that our baby was very sick.  We were loved on — Thursday I got a sweet text in the morning from my friend who was at the beach, we got some love from our moms, our friends who were having a baby that very day had left something on his grave, and a sweet message from my sister all reminded us of our Baby G.  And I got to spend the day with Tommy, as we had some appointments that required his presence. 

 

I wish I could say it was a good day.  But in all honesty it wasn’t.  It was a really hard day.  In general, the days feel less heavy recently than they used to.  They pass with relative normalcy, for the most part.  Of course if taking your 2 year old to the cemetery on a frequent basis is normal.  But generally, that 3 month mark was “magic” in a sense.  The super sadness lifted and life continued to move on, and we started to move on with it, and that became ok.  But Thursday was a very hard day.  I figured I was due for a bad one since I’d had so many good ones recently.  And that’s ok.  Or so I tell myself.  I know it is, but spending a bunch of time crying in front of multiple people hurts my pride.  And I battle my pride, a lot.  So Thursday ended up being one of those days where I was reminded that I’m not as awesome as I think I am.  That I am very needy.  That I am very broken.  That I don’t heal myself.  That I have many issues that need addressing.  That I need a Savior. 

 

 

Gabriel sand

Picture and sweet reminder sent from my sweet friend at the beach. 

 

 

Spending some extra time remembering our precious little one in Heaven. 

boomsday, labor day, and weekend fun.

There’s not much better than a long weekend.  Especially when a long weekend kicks off Staycation 2013.  Tommy wasn’t able to get off work when we went to the beach earlier in the summer, so he’s taking a couple of days off this week for some fun and rest.  We started Friday night off with Calhoun’s.  So good!  And then Jack had a blast playing with all the little girls who live on our street.  They’re like little mamas to him – which is working out really well for everyone, I think.  🙂 

 

Saturday was the first football game of the season.  It’s so fun that it’s exciting again!  We have a new coach and things are looking up this season.  A 45-0 victory was a good start to the season.  And a game with no penalties pretty impressive.  We enjoyed watching the game.  Even Jack was into it! 

 

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Sunday morning we visited the cemetery after church.  Some of the leaves are starting to change colors there.  The seasons are getting ready to change. 

 

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Sunday was Boomsday.  For those who don’t live in Knoxville, Boomsday is the largest Labor Day fireworks show in the nation.  It’s huge and impressive and one of my favorite Knoxville events ever.  I have such fond memories of Boomsday.  My dad used to work at the hospital that was right on the river where they shoot off the fireworks.  So we would go there to watch and have the best view.  They would have games and food and then we’d spread out blankets and watch the fireworks.  It also used to be on Labor Day, so we’d get to stay out really late on a school night.  Over time, they changed it to Sunday night before Labor Day, and I’ve watched Boomsday from a lot of locations.  In my hospital room at Children’s as a kid, from the top of my dorm as a college student, from the top of parking garages, and down by the river with the crowds of Knoxville.  Another part of why I love Boomsday so much is that Tommy and I met at Boomsday 8 years ago.  Yesterday was our 9th Boomsday together! 

 

We actually didn’t go yesterday, which was disappointing.  But since I have become heat intolerant this summer, and it was 89 degrees yesterday, it just didn’t seem like the best idea.  And even more so, Jack has had a cold and cough for the past several days, and second hand smoke is a big irritant for his reactive airway disease, so we thought the cough + smoke might not be good for him.  But we did let him stay up and watch it on TV and he was so very excited to watch fireworks on TV. 

 

 boomsday

And he wanted to take a picture of them.  On the TV.  In the dark. 

 

 

 

Today we are enjoying an extra weekend day and going to my parents’ for a cookout and some home made ice cream. 

 

 

Happy Labor Day!!