a year in review.

I’ve seen everyone doing Instagram summaries of their year.  There are blog posts out there on every blog wrapping up the year.  I had planned to skip that one this year.  But this was a very important year for our family – one we won’t ever forget.  So my 2013 summary isn’t going to look as happy and glowy as many of them out there – but it’s real and it’s ours and it’s the year that changed us, shaped us, and taught us all about life, love, and God.  So here we go!

January

Started the year out excited to add a new baby to our family.  January 7th our lives changed forever when we found out Gabriel was sick.

After looking at our baby’s DNA, we were informed a couple of weeks later on a snow day that he did, indeed, have Trisomy 18.

We started walking this hard walk that has become our life – choosing to love, hope, and celebrate his life EVERY SINGLE MOMENT of it!

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Jack [and Gabriel’s] first snow!

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Videos of our sweet boy.

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Spending lots of time praying, trusting, listening.

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A snowy, dark drive home from another bad doctor’s appointment.

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I’m sorry and I love you pie from my sweet Granny.

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Perinatal cardiologist appointment.

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February

We celebrated our baby’s first Valentine’s Day.

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And Tommy got to work on Gabriel’s nursery – making it a perfect room for him.  It turned out beautifully when he was done!

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March

We continued living our days learning to walk in trust and to celebrate every single day of Gabriel’s life.

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We had a photo shoot gifted to us by our friend and photographer, Erin Rodgers, so that we could always have pictures of our time with Gabriel.

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April

We celebrated Tommy’s birthday!

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Tommy’s sister took some pictures for us  before our sweet G was born.

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Last family photo before Gabriel was born.

May – Our big month!

May 5th – Gabriel’s born alive!!

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Gabriel lived for 2 hours and is now in Heaven with our Father.
We had the sweetest graveside service to bury our baby boy.

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I had my first Mother’s Day as a mom to 2 one week after Gabriel was born.

Anni-Jack-a-birthday week came and we celebrated our anniversary, Jack’s 2nd birthday, and my birthday.

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June — 

We celebrated Father’s Day

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Celebrated Gabriel  Pictures 910

Celebrated Granny’s 82nd birthday  Pictures 969

And lived life with a lot of help from family and friends.  pictures 1489

July

I wore a heart monitor trying to find answers to health problems.

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One of our nightly readings of “We Were Gonna Have A Baby But We Had An Angel Instead”

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pictures 2275  Beach trip 2013 with my family

August

Beauty from ashes

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A picnic lunch with Granny.  A beautiful, sunny day with some of my favorite companions.  And our last special moment with Granny.

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September

Jack starts preschool!

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I got diagnosed with an autoimmune disease.

Tommy and I snuck in some fun time.

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Football game with friends.

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October

Gabriel’s marker came in.

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I wrote about hope for 31 days throughout October.

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fall pics

October was a busy and hard month.  I had surgery – a cholecystectomy.  Then several days later, my Granny died very suddenly and unexpectedly.  After her burial, a whole bunch of family came to our Gabriel’s grave.

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pictures 2432 Matching baseball players.

November  —

Erin Rodgers took our fall family pictures for us.  A sweet reminder of this season of our lives.

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December

Christmas as a family of 4, with only 3 of us here.  We celebrated the hope that is Christmas.

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And just a few of the many blessings from others…

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And plenty of fun and two year old business…

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This was our worst yet richest year.  It has been so hard, but we have been so blessed.  Although we wouldn’t have asked for the bad in this year, God has certainly used it in our lives.  We have clung to hope this year, and hope continues to be given to us.  We have hope that we will see our son again one day.  We are so thankful for all of you.  Thank you for reading.  Thank you for loving us.  Thank you for prayers, for support, for cards, and gifts.  For everything.  I don’t say it nearly enough.  But we have been so immensely blessed this year, and when I look back over our year, I see hard, but behind it I see so much love.  Thank you for loving us and carrying us through such a rough year.  We love you all!

Happy New Year to you!

 

See last years wrap up here.

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that’s a wrap.

I am so excited for this day, you guys.  So excited!  You might, understandably, be wondering what is so special about this day.  Well, today is the LAST DAY OF 2013!!  I am pretty excited to see this day arrive.  If you know us or have been reading this blog for awhile, it’s no secret that this has been a hard year.  In fact, the worst year of my life. 

 

Don’t get me wrong — there have been some precious and dear moments and things about this year.  Parts of this year I treasure deep in my heart and will always cling to.  This year will always be monumental for me.  Holding a huge place in our family as the year of Gabriel.  And I treasure that so.very.much.  But I can’t cling to what has happened and what is reality.  We are at peace with Gabriel in Heaven and clinging to this year won’t do anything to change our lives.  So it is with a crazy waving hand and arm that I wave goodbye to 2013! 

 

I have great hope for what is to come in 2014.  My expectations are high and my dreams are growing again.  After such a bad year in 2013, we are ready and very expectant about the year that is to come.  So, out with the old and in with the new! 

 

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christmas 2013.

For Christmas this year we had a sick kid.  We thought he had RSV because he was exposed to it, but his test for it was negative.  So he had another bad virus.  It made me nervous because it did cause him to have a harder time breathing.  But steroids helped, and he healed up.  He wasn’t his usual happy self for Christmas – by any means – but we still had a good day.

 

We went to Christmas Eve service on Tuesday.  Mom was kind enough to keep Jack so that Tommy and I could go.  After the service we went back to mom and dads to eat our traditional Christmas Eve meal.

 

On Christmas morning we hit the ground running, starting at Tommy’s parents’.  After that we went to my parents’ house and had Christmas dinner there.  It was a sweet time.

 

From our time with T’s family…

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Tommy’s sister, Molly, and her fiance, Drew, are getting married very soon!

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It’s Christmas!

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From our time with my family…

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And a couple from home…

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A sick kid snuggling up with his daddy.

 

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And when he felt better, he was my awesome helper.

 

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

i wish Christmas was over.

So here’s this crazy thing:  I wish Christmas was over. 

 

There, I said it.  Call me crazy.  Write it off.  Label me emotional.  Or… maybe, just maybe you feel the same way? 

 

You see, never in my life have I felt this way before.  Ever.  I love Christmas.  Love it up and down.  Love celebrating Jesus’ birth.  Love the joy that comes with Christmas.  Love the hope.  Love all aspects of Christmas and the holiday season.  I love the trees, the lights, the shopping, the wrapping, the movies, the baking, the cooking, the sweets, the salty, the cards – oh the cards, probably my favorite part of “Christmas things”.  I love the picking out of the perfect card.  I love getting them in from others.  I love waiting for mine to arrive.  I love addressing them and praying for each family, each person I send them to.  To me, it’s worth the work.  I display the cards I get all over my living room.  I leave them up through January, at least. 

But I noticed something was wrong this week.  I have spent over a week working on my cards.  It’s been ok, but it really stressed me out this year.  And I found myself feeling differently than before towards it all.  So yesterday morning I texted this to my friend, Julie, who’s baby died in August: 

Moment of truth:  can Christmas be over yet? 

 

I thought I’d be ostracized from society for thinking such things.  Thought I’d be banned from the church.  That it might mean I don’t appreciate Jesus and His love for me.  But then I realized those things were crazy.  And let’s just be honest.  It’s just hard this year.  And it’s not just hard for me.  I know it’s hard for a lot of you, too.  I know it’s hard for Julie and her family.  I know it’s hard for my Grandfather who is spending his first Christmas without his wife after 63 years of Christmases with her.  I know it’s hard for the 3 different families I saw at the cemetery today burying loved ones.  I know it’s hard for my friend who has struggled with infertility for years.  I know it’s hard for the families who have nothing.  I know it’s hard for the families who have everything but feel empty.  I know it’s hard for the family estranged from loved ones.  I know it’s hard for people who lost a loved one a year ago or twenty years ago. 

 

This year I learned that Christmas isn’t always merry.  And in years past I judged and labeled people as grinches or as missing the true meaning of Christmas.  I get, and so appreciate and need, the true meaning of Christmas, but that doesn’t mean this one isn’t hard.  And the beautiful thing about that is that God knows that.  He knows how this time of year can be extra hard, and I believe He’s extra tender. 

 

So in all of this, I want to share that I get it now.  I get how it can be hard.  And I’m thankful my heart is more sensitive to it now.  I also wanted to share how I feel because after talking with several people who also told me they felt this way, I suspect that many of you might, too.  And I want you to know that you aren’t alone.  So know this Christmas, even if it’s hard for you, especially if it’s hard for you, that you aren’t alone.  And we’ll get through it. 

 

 

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a sweet day.

My Grandfather wanted to buy wreaths to put on Granny’s and Gabriel’s graves before Christmas.  So on the Friday before Christmas we went to do just that.  My aunt and cousin were in town, so they came along and helped pick out and got the beautiful greenery for the graves.  We picked out something beautiful and then we took it to Lisa Foster Floral where Lisa and her team [including my sister] added gorgeous ribbon bows to make them really special and beautiful.  Then we went to the cemetery.  It was a sweet morning, and I’m so glad Grandfather asked me to do this with him. 

 

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when the holidays are hard.

Yesterday I had the privilege of sharing about when the holidays are hard over on the Knoxville Moms Blog. 

 

The Holiday season is in full swing, and I’m having mixed feelings.  Part of me is excited, like I usually am this time of year.  But a larger part of me is a little resistant to the coming of this big season.

This is my first Holiday season since our deep loss.  This time last year we were expecting our second child, and I had great visions of what this Christmas would look like with two little ones.  But in May, our second son died, and now we have to learn how to celebrate this special time of year while our hearts are still broken

 

grief and the holidays

 

 

Check out the rest of the post over on the Knoxville Moms Blog site. 

 

Thanks for the love, friends! 

you are not broken.

Jack falls asleep listening to music every night.  But last week the last song on the CD quit playing correctly, so it just started skipping and making bad noises.  This became problematic because it wouldn’t just turn off anymore, and we had to go in Jack’s room to turn it off – which would sometimes wake him.  So on the advice of my friend, Tommy ordered a sound machine.  We should have just done that from the beginning.  Oh well.  The sound machine came, and we set it up telling him how special it was and that is was just for him, and he hated it.  He screamed in terror.  So now we are trying to convince him that it’s great.  If Tommy puts him down, he just puts the sound machine on, but Jack knows he has me at nap time.  I need him to nap, so I will do what it takes.  Yesterday afternoon I did his music and the sound machine, and he wanted that again last night.  So I turned Jack’s music on after his repeated requests wore me down.

 

After it started playing, he said “it’s not broken”.  I told him he was right, that it wasn’t completely broken.  Then he said, “I’m not broken.” I told him he was right, that he wasn’t broken.  Then he said, “You’re not broken, mommy.”  

 

Man, how does my 2 year old keep teaching me things?  I told him that he was right, that I wasn’t broken.  Then I paused and said, “even though it feels like it sometimes”.

But wow, he was right.  I am not broken.  And today, I want to share that with you, too.  If you’re feeling that way, I hope Jack’s words strike you deeply like they did me.  I hope you will find comfort in knowing that no matter what is hard in your life right now – kids who won’t sleep, kids who fight, a draining job, a draining home life, a messy house, an illness, grief, loss, death, fighting, people letting you down, hurt, no job – whatever it is that’s making you feel broken… know that you are not.  God is in the business of healing, and He makes us whole.  Because of Him, we are not broken.

 

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And tomorrow when you wake up and life feels just as hard or your day gets worse, remember my sweet boy’s words in the most innocent of voices, “you are not broken”.  And cling to that truth.  And keep pushing forward.

 

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wedding weekend.

We had a fun weekend!  One of Tommy’s closest friends got married on Saturday, so we had so much fun celebrating them this weekend.  They got married at this beautiful place in Loudon, Tennessee.  It was gorgeous – especially decorated for Christmas.  Lights everywhere, greenery, and so much charm.  I loved all of the details that Steph chose.  I am a huge fan of her style.  I wish I had taken more pictures this weekend but have just a few to share.  And please excuse my grainy and terrible pictures.  My phone is crawling to the finish line as I wait for my upgrade. 

 

 Rehearsal dinner beautiful

 

 

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If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve already seen this picture and the next one.  I was sitting at the rehearsal and felt something weird in my sweater pocket.  I reached in and pulled this out.  It’s like they follow me.  My friend who was sitting next to me said one time she was sitting somewhere and reached in her jacket pockets and pulled out her kids’ socks.  Which sounded super weird until… 

 

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At dinner I pulled Jack’s socks out of my coat pocket.  Reminders of my life and toddlerhood everywhere 🙂 

 

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Wedding with my love

My date made for a pretty handsome groomsman.  He also caught the groomsman in front of him who passed out twice.  I didn’t even see it happen, but people were telling me about it afterwards saying he made a great catch.  He says anyone would have done it.  The guy seemed to be fine afterwards, thankfully, and the wedding wasn’t disrupted at all. 

 

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I had such a good time with my handsome date.  I forgot my coat, so I got to sport his for the last part of the evening. 

 

 

It was a beautiful wedding and a sweet, fun, and tiring weekend!  Josh and Steph, we love y’all so much!  Congratulations!!  We couldn’t be happier for you, and cannot wait to hang out when you get back.