10 months.

Yesterday I posted a recipe, and I accidentally posted it before I was finished writing it.  So if you read it shortly after I posted it, you may want to go back and take another look.  I left out the nutrition information the first time around.  So I had to make some edits.  You can look at yesterday’s post or just click here to check it out.

 

Wow, it’s been a long week, and it’s only Wednesday!  Come on weekend.  I had a doctor’s appointment yesterday and have another one today.  Tommy was traveling Monday and Tuesday for the 3rd week in a row.  And I’ve eaten way too much ice cream this week.  Whew.  Need a fresh start.  Maybe I will do a “fresh start Thursday” this week.  Anyone else need a fresh start this week?

 

 

Today is a sweet day and a harder day.  It’s a sweet day to remember our precious baby G, as it has been 10 months since he was born.  It’s hard to believe that he would be creeping up on 1 year if he were here.  It feels like only yesterday he was born.  Time is funny like that.  Yesterday I was deeply missing my baby boy.  While the really hard moments are fewer and farther between now, there are still times where my heart hurts so bad that it physically hurts.  It’s a reminder of my need for God every day, every moment.  At those times I have to remember to just keep breathing.  And thankfully, it passes.  And it passes quicker these days.  Grief lightens, but it’s always present.

So on this day, we remember where we were 10 months ago.  We remember meeting our sweet Gabriel.  We remembering celebrating him and life.  We thank God for the time we got to spend with G.  And we continue to miss our G.  We continue to grieve.  Thank you for loving him with us.

 

Gabriel 10 months

Sweet flowers with Gabriel’s initials on them were delivered on my doorstep this morning along with a giant Coke, and apple slices for Jack from my sweet friend, Becca.

standing on holy ground.

This week is beautiful here in East Tennessee.  Beyond beautiful.  We’re talking 60 degrees, even 70 yesterday.  I went by the cemetery today before I picked Jack up from preschool.  It was a perfect day to go.  The warm weather, mixed with sunshine and partly cloudy skies, with an incredibly strong and present breeze made for an amazing visit.

 

I like to drive through the cemetery with my windows down.  I open the sunroof and roll the windows down, and usually turn my music up really loud.  I’m pretty sure I would have found that inappropriate before – and I do try to be respectful if other people are around and turn down the music – but for me, that’s just part of how I do it.  There is something about feeling the fresh air in the cemetery and listening loudly to music praising God and exclaiming His truths that makes it part of how I grieve – how I handle visiting the cemetery as much as I do.

 

Today was a perfect day to make that drive.  As I drove in and around and up the hill to Babyland, where our sweet G is buried, I took in the beauty of the day and the anticipation of this visit.  I visit a lot, so it’s not like it’s a big deal for me to go.  But today something seemed a little different.  Because I was short on time I left the car running and just hopped out quickly.  My current very favorite song for our lives was playing and was at the perfect point.  I could hear the music as I felt the incredible presence of the wind around me.  And as I stood with my feet over where my baby’s body is buried, my eyes closed, and my hands out, I sang along to this song.  To this exclamation of truth.  And proclaimed it in our hearts and in our lives.  And as I stood there soaking in this incredible moment, feeling the intense presence of God in the strong gusts of wind, I became very aware that I was standing on holy ground.  This plot that belongs to us.  This patch of dirt.  This marker that marks where our son’s earthly body lay to rest.  All of those things I had known of this place became the background to the very holy ground I was standing on.

 

I was suddenly reminded of the Holiness of our God.  Of His power.  Of His presence.  And how He is God over all – the big and the little.  As big as life and death.  And as little as growing the grass around this grave plot.  I was blessed with a holy encounter with our Father today.  One that commanded reverance.  One that reminded me of His power and His presence.  One that I am thankful the Lord allowed me to be a part of.  And one that brought my mama heart deep comfort in knowing that my baby is intimately known by our Creator, just as I am.

 

this hope is an anchor for my soul

 

The song is Anchor by Hillsong.  And it is unbelievable.

the difference between snow and rain.

Last year was the rainiest year Knoxville has seen since the 1800s.  It rained all the time.  I talked about rain a lot, because it rained for more than a week straight after we found out Gabriel had T18.  It would rain on most of the days I had OB appointments.  Rain was a constant in our lives, and it represented how I felt really well.  2013 was a rainy year both physically and symbolically for us. 

 

Now we sit here in the year 2014.  It is a new year.  We continue to grieve for our sweet G.  We miss him.  I wish he was here – Jack would love having a brother to play with.  There are many moments where I think that Gabriel should be here with us.  But the truth of the matter is that he isn’t.  And while it is impossibly hard, we are not defeated because we have hope.  We are anchored in hope.  We trust that we will one day be reunited with our sweet G.  That we will know him well then.  And we trust that he is presently with our Father – being cradled and loved lavishly – so much more than we could ever do or imagine.  And knowing those things, thinking about those things reminds me of snow. 

 

There is nothing more pure, more new, more fresh than snow.  Watching the snow fall, watching it build and lay is a blessing for us.  To watch it fall from the sky and create beauty that is rarely seen on earth, is a special gift for us here.  Waking up in the morning to a fresh snow fall – one that is undisturbed and entirely peaceful is such a reminder to me that God makes all things new.  So with these recent snowfalls we have had, I am reminded of this about our Father.  And I am even more deeply stirred to think about how He has made our Gabriel new.  He has made him pure as snow.  And one day, He will do the same for us. 

 

It’s only fitting that this winter we have seen much more snow than usual for Knoxville.  While this time last year, all we got was rain, this year we seem to be sitting under snow.  A visual example of where we are in our lives.  In a season of awe appreciating God’s graciousness, His blessing, and His healing and new creation of our son who was so sick on this earth. 

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a broken heart.

One year ago, with Valentine’s Day looming and the worst news of our life a few weeks behind us, all I could focus on was the heart.  People were decorating with hearts all around, living this normal life, and all I could think of was that my baby had a broken heart – literally.  This child growing inside of me had a heart that was a terrible kind of broken – one that couldn’t be fixed.  And it was every where.  And it was always on my mind. 

 

This year looks different.  I see hearts all around this year and I remember our sweet baby G.  And I also see hope.  Our sweet G has a healed heart now.  He has been made whole and he no longer has a broken heart.  This year I even find myself putting up hearts, wanting to celebrate this day.  It’s amazing the difference when you don’t have a broken heart anymore.  And while my heart might just always be a little bit broken because I lost a child, I can also see the hope that comes with healing.  The hope that comes when you’ve celebrated hard days, held on tight, and are maybe just a little bit better for it.  The hope that comes when you see some more joy alongside the pain.  The hope that sits on each little construction paper heart – because you know each one of those represents something greater – love. 

 

As I reflect on a lot of heart issues of my own this week, I am reminded of my brokenness, my broken heart, but also just how much I have been healed.  Thankful for a week of reminders and the blessing of seeing healing in our lives. 

 

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9 months.

Nine months ago we met our sweet baby G face to face and loved on him while he was here with us.  And then 9 months ago we held him back out to the Lord.  G’s view is amazing now, and he is no longer sick.  Praise be to God. 

 

Gaby 9 months

 

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And thank you to my sweet friend, Becca, who made this banner for me to celebrate our baby boy. 

8 months.

It’s hard to believe it’s been 8 months since we met our sweet little baby G.

8 months

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.  For I am the
Lord you God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Isaiah 43:2-3 

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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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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angels we have heard on high.

I went by the cemetery to see Gabriel’s grave and put Christmas flowers there last week.  After I put his flowers out, I went down to the other side of the cemetery to put Christmas flowers on my Granny’s grave.  They are buried in the same, large cemetery.  Gabriel’s grave is in the back of the cemetery, up on a hill in a small patch called Babyland.  My Granny’s grave is down near the front on a nice, large flat patch that is the Veteran’s section.

As I finished pushing those flowers in the ground at her freshly buried spot, I stepped back and looked around.  All I could think was what happened??  I stood there looking out over this very different patch in the very same cemetery where my son is buried.  And all I could think was what happened??

angels we have heard on high

This whole year we’ve been living it, and when you’re knee deep in it, you don’t really get to ask that.  But when you step back and realize, wait a minute, my child is in Heaven, the how did we get here?  and what happened? come to mind.  What happened to get us here?  What happened to us?  How is that this time last year life was totally normal and this year it’s crushing?  What happened?

 

Then I got in the car and the song that immediately came on was Angels We Have Heard On High.  I was hit hard.  It was a pretty cool moment.  And I immediately thought of my angel and felt comforted.  So no matter what happened, or how we got to this point, it doesn’t really matter.  What does matter is that we have an angel, and we have hope.  So no matter what happened, we have hope.

 

 

Angels We Have Heard on High

Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o’er the plains
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains

Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be
Which inspire your heavenly song?

Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

Come to Bethlehem and see
Christ Whose birth the angels sing
Come, adore on bended knee
Christ the Lord, the newborn King

Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

See Him in a manger laid,
Whom the choirs of angels praise;
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid,
While our hearts in love we raise.

Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!