31. wrapping up 31 days of hope.

This is it – the last day of October.  It’s time to wrap up this series of 31 Days of Hope.  Here’s my recap on the past 31 days.

 

 

I started off talking about why hope and expectations that were just off and wrong.  Then I shared a lesson in hope from my 2 year old that sticks with me every day.  I talked about noticing hope around me more than ever before and celebrated our sweet baby Gaby 5 months out from his birth.  We had fun moments and really sad moments during this month.

 

I shared wise words from a friend and wrote these words that I would need to remember just a few days later:

 

Because maybe hope isn’t about not having any big waves knock you down, but instead, is about surrendering to the big waves, trusting that God will use it for His glory.  Trusting that He has us in his hands.  Having faith that what we hope for will one day come to be.  And sitting securely in His embrace while the water washes over us.

I had surgery on the 10th – a cholecystectomy.  I was full of hope that it would improve my health.  And so far so good!  I’m able to eat again for the first time in a long time.  Then a few days later I talked about how it can be hard to see hope and feel hopeful sometimes.  How it takes an act of stillness on our part to look beyond what is right in front of us.  Then the next morning I got a call that my grandmother had had an aneurysm – a massive stroke – and that she was going to die.  Talk about not feeling very hopeful.  I was eating my own words as we struggled with the shock of it and the grief of losing our beloved Granny.  And after that all of the planned posts I had for the month kind of fell apart and I started just winging it.  I’m sure you could tell.  It also meant that 2 days I posted late on the next day because I.just.couldn’t.do.it.all.

 

 

Then on the 15th I was blown away by all of you and filled up with hope!  I was blessed beyond measure with candles being lit to remember our baby.  Man I love you all!  If you missed that check out this post and this post where I talk about why and then this post where I share many of the pictures of candles lit that night.  Awesome awesome stuff.

 

ourfamily.jpg

 

 

 

I was pretty much ready to wrap the month up after that, but we still had the back half of the month to go.  This is where my posts were struggling a bit.  But a few highs include talking about being a student of hope [and sharing this precious picture].

 

jackgabriel.jpg

 

 

 

Having extended family visit Gabriel’s grave with us.  Such a touching and special thing for this mama who doesn’t get to pass a baby around for them to meet and cuddle.

familyatgrave.jpg

 

 

 

And a hopeful tribute to my beautiful Granny, a woman who inspired me and many others so much.

Grannypuppy.jpg

 

 

 

One of the cool things from this month is that I’ve seen hope playing out right in front of me.  Losing Granny was shocking and devastating.  But watching my Grandfather and my family in the past two and a half weeks has been pretty special.  More and more he talks about how wonderful it is that she isn’t going to have to suffer.  And while it’s hard to lose her, everyone knows it was gracious that God allowed her to die like that.  In a place she loves, surrounded by those she loves, and without suffering.  How could you say that if you didn’t have hope?

 

 

My heart has been so impacted this month.  I’m thankful for this time to focus on a topic.  Thankful for the Nester’s challenge.  It has stretched me and taught me a few things for sure.  I walk away from October remembering that hope is essential.  Always.  I have also learned that I am very much a student — even when I think I have been run through the mill on a topic, there is always more to learn.

 

 

Hope is a gift. 

 

 

Thanks for reading and walking through this month with me.  So thankful for your encouragement and love as I continue to learn more about myself.  Now, on to November!

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30. when memorials give hope.

This is it – we are wrapping up October, wrapping up the 31 Days series.  I could actually write on this topic for awhile longer, but I will be ready to take a break from thinking about one thing.  It sure has been good for my brain and my heart though to focus on hope for a month.  But I will talk more about that tomorrow when I recap this month. 

 

Today I wanted to share a sweet memorial.  My parents’ neighbors placed this in my parents’ backyard as a memorial for Gabriel and my Granny. 

 

memorial planter

 

 

It was such a kind act, a sweet gesture of hope.  Because now when I’m at my parents’ and I look in their backyard I will remember my sweet baby and my loving grandmother.  I’m thankful for this that reminds me of them – for the hope that they are in Heaven, for the freedom to remember and smile, and for the joy that I have from being blessed with them in my life. 

 

One thing I’ve realized by writing through this month of hope is that I want to be hope-giving to others.  We have had so many people giving us gifts that give life, that give hope.  And I hope that one day I am able to do that, too. 

28. waves of light celebration, love, + support.

Y’all are awesome!  Awesome awesome awesome.  I cannot even say enough how blown away I was on October 15thfor pregnancy and infant loss awareness day.  I said we would be lighting a candle in memory of our Gabriel and for others who have lost babies and asked you to do the same if you felt so inclined.  I couldn’t believe how awesome it was to see all of the pictures!  Man, I lit up knowing so many people were thinking about Gabriel and us.

 

I don’t have pictures to share of my baby beyond ultrasound pictures and the precious ones we took on his day of life.  I don’t get to Instagram or Facebook or tweet pictures of what he’s doing and how he’s growing.  I don’t get to share pictures of how Jack is with a baby brother and how the boys play together.  I don’t get to rock him as he is awake at night, or has an upset tummy, or just can’t quite figure out the routine of this life yet.  And I’ve come to terms with that.  This is our lot, and for this we are grateful.  But there will always be things I miss.

 

So to be able to use social media to bring encouragement to me and mamas like me is a powerful thing.  It was pretty special to have a few hours one night where feeds were blowing up with candles and loving words that helped us remember our babies who we don’t get to lay eyes on daily.

 

It was such a reminder to me of the role we play in each other’s lives of bringing encouragement.  Words are so powerful – and actions, too – and we can bring life to dark and hopeless situations.  So thank you for doing that for me.  Thank you for reading this blog, thinking about our little family, lighting a candle, and taking a picture to send to us.  Your effort, and mostly your heart, are beyond appreciated.  I have thanked God for each and every one of you.

 

So my intention was to publish this post on the next morning, the 16th, but Tuesday was a rough post-op day for me after having my gall bladder removed 5 days earlier.  By Tuesday evening I was in some serious pain and had to take some medicine, so I didn’t get to see many of the pictures until the next morning.  It’s taken me awhile to respond and get the pictures together.  But I wanted to share them all here.

 

 

Thanks for the love dear friends!  For you I am so grateful!

 

Tiffany Gleason Alice Erickson Amy Ross Becca Edwards Cretia Goodin Deb Macklin Elizabeth Neutens Emily Larson Gordy and Sue Holly Young Honoring Rebecca and Gabriel 10 1013 Katelyn Liles Laryessa Worthington Lindsay Maureen Prentiss and Family Molly Morgan Mom, Dad, and Grandfather Nate Lawless our family Rosalie Hadley Sheri Super Sophia Davidson Stephanie Joyce

Casey Aldredge

 

 

I couldn’t figure out how to save the pictures from Instagram.  So if you put a picture only on Ig and it’s not too much of a hassle, could you send it to me?  I really want to get them all together.

 

There were many people who lit candles but didn’t get pictures or who wanted to light candles but weren’t somewhere where they could do that.  So for those people, thank you for thinking of us and letting me know!

 

We had people lighting candles all over this country!  Tennessee and Maryland, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Texas, and Maine just to name some of the states.

 

[I tried to gather all of the pictures but if I missed yours please forgive me and let me know!]

 

So much love to you all!

25. a thankful heart is a hopeful heart.

Thanks for the sweet words about my Granny after my tribute post yesterday.  She was such an amazing woman – it’s weird how life just moves on at a normal speed after we lose a loved one, isn’t it? 

 

Something that I have talked about before is thankfulness.  Last November Jack and I made a thankful tree.  We will be doing that again this year.  This summer and early fall I spent a lot of time thinking about thankfulness.  Maybe that will be my 31 Days topic next year. 

 

Something I have gathered from reading Ann Voskamp’s work is that a thankful heart doesn’t have room for the ugly stuff.  A heart that is in the practice of thankfulness, doesn’t have the time or desire to worry, stress, be fearful, or preoccupied with things that are not good.  A thankful heart is a heart of hope.  Hope in things beyond our own worries and matters at hand.  Hope in the blessings of this life.  Hope in the future. 

 

I have thought about that a lot, but that doesn’t mean I’ve done it a lot.  I had intentions of starting a new thanks journal many times this year but have yet to do it.  I know that being thankful helps keep my mind on track.  It is something I need to do.  It is far too easy for me to overlook the blessings in my life every day if I’m not recounting them.  So here are the things I’m thankful for today. 

 

1.  Getting to spend time with family today. 

2.  A clean house. 

3.  Feeling so much better physically. 

4.  Cold weather! 

5.  Soup on a cold day. 

6.  A little boy feeling better after a hard asthma week. 

7.  I know it’s petty, but my DVR.  Love getting to watch my favorite shows. 

8.  Heat in our house when it is cold outside. 

9.  Pumpkins, mums, and fall decorations everywhere. 

10.  New boots! 

 

Slatted-Thankfulness-Sign

via 

 

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 
1 Thessalonians 5:18 

24. a hopeful tribute.

As I have shared, my grandmother passed away on Tuesday, October 15th.  We miss her greatly and mourn her loss.  I am heartbroken for my grandfather and pray often for him.  This weekend we celebrated our Granny – remembering her precious life and all who she was.  There were 3 things to people kept saying over and over and I heard dozens of times from people coming through the line at the visitation. 

 

1.  She was always smiling, always happy. 

2.  She always thought of others, asked about others, and did things for others. 

3.  She was fun! 

 

 

Those are things that I will always remember about my Granny.  And here are some more of my thoughts about a wonderful woman: 

 

I always thought it was so cool that her initials were GGG.  Who else has that?  I learned how to be creative from her.  I learned how to make a beautiful home from her.  I learned to love and appreciate antiques from her.  I learned how to wrap presents pretty from her.  And I learned how to write beautifully from her.  Sometimes I catch a glimpse of my handwriting and think it looks like Granny’s and that makes me so happy. 

 

My Granny was an avid reader, an intelligent woman who kept up with the news and current events, studying the Bible, and who also watched shows like the Bachelor and picked her favorites.  I used to watch Grey’s Anatomy with her – back before it got way too bad for both of us.  Granny read every single post I ever put on this blog.  She was one of my biggest fans and cheerleaders.  My Granny made the best food.  Her cooking was something else!  She always knew I would eat a lot when she was cooking.  She taught me how to make the best chocolate sauce and the best chocolate pie anyone has ever had. 

 

Granny cooking 

 

 

 

She was adamant that she would be called Grandmother.  She did not want to be a granny.  She wasn’t old and certainly didn’t fit the description, was what she told us when we were little kids.  So the more she insisted we call her Grandmother, the more it made us want to call her Granny.  So we called her Granny, and it stuck.  And she grew to love it.  That’s the kind of woman she was. 

 

 

She loved her husband of nearly 63 years so much.  Their marriage was a wonderful example to all of us.  Always taking care of each other. 

 

G and G 

 

 

Granny love 

 

G and G again 

 

Granny loves Grandfather   

 

 

Granny santa 

 

 

 

 

She loved her family so much. 

 

Granny, lk, b

 

 

Granny and girls 

 

 

granny and lindsay 

 

 

Granny and us wedding 

 

 

Granny dad me 

 

 

Granny G, lk 

 

 

Granny Christmas time   

 

 

Granny and tommy 

 

 

Granny and Jack 

 

 

 

My Granny LOVED my kids fiercely.  Fiercely.  She loved Jack so much.  She found great joy in that little guy.  She was always lovin’ on him and playing with him.  He loved her too.  Every time we drove past their neighborhood, which is on the way to our house, he would ask to stop and see Gigi [what he called his Granny and Grandfather].  Granny also loved our Gabriel.  She was so sad to learn of his diagnosis, she was so sad to not get another great grandbaby to hold, and so sad for us.  She prayed for us a lot.  She sang Jesus Loves You to baby Gabriel every single night while I was pregnant.  And after he was born.  She came to his burial even though she had just had a knee replacement surgery.  She wasn’t going to miss it.  She loved watching Jack’s every move.  Finding him adorable even when he did something mischievous. 

 

Since we moved back to Knoxville, I’ve gotten to spend a lot of time with Granny and Grandfather.  Jack and I would stop by and see them during the week, and we all loved the time together.  Granny was always focused on that boy.  Always having cookies and crackers for him.  Keeping his high chair ready for a meal.  Granny was the best “Happy Birthday” singer.  It’s not going to be the same without her there to sing.  She always sang above the rest of us, and I think we all just loved it. 

 

Granny birthday   

 

 

Granny did the most fun things.  For the past two years she had a “Back to school spaghetti supper” for us.  She hung a banner and gave my brother and sister who were going back to school giant Hershey’s bars. 

 

Granny's back to school supper  

 

 

I will always remember Granny as being active.  We joined their gym last year, so she wanted us to work out together.  She and Grandfather did so many things – they did everything.  They traveled the world.  Looking through many of their pictures last week was so fun to see all of the places they’ve been and the friends they have everywhere.  They’re those people everyone loves. 

 

granny playing 

 

 

 

So now we grieve.  We miss her, and life is harder without her.  But I do know that she would want us to live joyfully and make the most of our lives.  And we find hope in that we will see her again one day.  We have hope that she is in Heaven with our Father now.  That she is with Jesus.  That she has met and is holding our Gabriel.  We have hope in things greater than this life, and in One bigger than us. 

 

                Granny puppy

23. a star.

dark

 

 

“Hope itself is like a star- not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity, and only to be discovered in the night of adversity.” 

Charles Spurgeon 

22. a day late and a dollar short.

So I missed a day.  It was bound to happen eventually, and truthfully I’m too tired to really even be bothered by it.  I posted what I was writing for day 21 today. It’s been a wild month and I’m learning even more that I cannot be in control. 

 

I am very behind on all things blog, email, and social media.  But my house sure is shiny thanks to my mother-in-law helping me get it into shape.  I always feel better when I have a clean house. 

 

This will be short because it is after 11 and my 2 year old is still awake [ohh, steroids].  But I just wanted to share a quick message of hope. 

 

On Sunday we celebrated my grandmother’s life.  It was beautiful and fitting and lovely, just like her.  She was buried in the same cemetery where our Gabriel is buried.  After the burial a whole bunch of family [including cousins of my Dad’s who I’d never met] came up to Gabriel’s grave.  It warmed my heart so much as I looked around and took it all in.  So many people gathered there at our baby’s grave – remembering him, supporting us.  Such a picture of hope. 

 

family at grave

 

I don’t know that I will ever know why these things have happened – why we lost our baby, why I’ve been sick, why I have a lifelong disease, why my Grandfather has to suffer.  But none of those things were ever guaranteed to me anyway.  And more than that I know that there’s a greater purpose.  I know that God will redeem this heartache, this suffering, and turn it into something beautiful.  Hope.