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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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. 

when you watch the world go by.

There are these moments in life that happen that are the worst.  It’s that feeling that you’re sitting there, looking out the window and the world is going on totally normal outside and you are completely frozen in time.  You feel like you can’t move, you can barely remember to keep breathing in and out.  You can’t understand what’s happening out there – how it’s so normal and looks like the world you used to know, but that world is totally gone for you.

 

This was my life a year and a few weeks ago.  I sat here on my couch, right where I’m typing from, and I watched out my window as the day turned to night and the night to day.  As neighbors came and went and cars drove by.  As there was rain, and sun, and much more rain.  Even as it snowed.  I watched it all happen wondering how on earth it could be so normal out there.  Why didn’t the outside look like how I felt on the inside?  Why was life moving on at normal speed while I was crumbling and wondering how to make it through a day.

 

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It’s weird how we have those moments.  They usually hit us in the midst of tragedy.  When our world has been rocked and what we’ve known has been taken.  My moment was in our greatest tragedy, after learning that our baby had Trisomy 18.  I was shaken to the core.  And life looked different to me from every angle.

 

But the weird thing about these moments is that they make us appreciate life so much more.  They make us enjoy and love the season of living, tremendously.  They make us humble, I believe, as memories of those moments flood back to us without warning.  And we remember that life is a gift, and each day precious, and that we are to appreciate it.

 

Those were the hardest days and the most challenging times, certainly.  And I wouldn’t want to go back to them.  But I do find myself sometimes reaching back to those days.  Those were days of brokenness.  A terrible time, but a time that taught me so much.  A time where I was desperate and just surviving, and I learned how to rely on only God to get through.  Now that a year has passed since we learned of G’s diagnosis, I lead a pretty normal life, and I’ve fallen back into a pattern of relying on myself a lot.  A year ago, I knew I wasn’t strong and I needed God’s strength to carry me through each day.  Now I feel stronger.  I feel like I can do things again.  Like I can manage life ok again.  But in reality, I should be just as desperate for God now as I was one year ago.

 

And as I sat looking out my window, remembering what it felt like one year ago to watch the world go by, I was reminded of all of these things.  Thankful for reminders of my brokenness and my need for a saving, grace-giving God.

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??

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

reminders of hope.

This song is helping put my feet back on the ground today.  These reminders are good for my soul.  I hope these truths remind you that He never lets go.

“In joy and pain, in sun and rain, You’re the same.  You never let go.”

 

 

Loving this song.  [The video, in my opinion, isn’t awesome.  So I just pulled it up and listened to the song while I did other things.  Just a heads up.]

 

 

 

seven months.

Seven months – it sure has gone by fast.  I miss our baby every day. 

 

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December at the cemetery is looking dark and dead.  But there is beauty in the sparkling Christmas flowers.  Tomorrow I’m adding a Christmas wreath to Gabriel’s grave. 

happy thanksgiving.

To all of you who love and support me by coming here and reading this little blog, thank you.  I am so thankful for you.  Without you I would just be a crazy person writing to myself.  This time last year I could have never imagined what the next year would be like for this blog.  I never thought it would reach as many people as it has.  Thank you all for passing my blog along to others, especially those who are hurting, grieving, and losing loved ones.  So very thankful for you, dear friends. 

 

Today is my hardest Thanksgiving.  I miss our Gabriel.  I wish he was here to celebrate his first Thanksgiving.  I wish I wasn’t able to help cook as much because I had my hands full with a special needs baby.  Tommy and I talked about it and today, we wish our story was different.  But even as I say that, deep in my heart I know I love our story and I wouldn’t want to lose all I’ve learned this year and how I’ve grown.  But mostly I wouldn’t change a thing if it meant changing anything about our G. 

 

I know I have much to be thankful for.  And I am thankful for many things.  I am thankful for my family and friends.  I am especially thankful for Jack.  What a blessing it is to have this little guy in our lives – he brings so much joy.  And I’m so very thankful for Gabriel – he changed our lives and changed us forever. 

 

But the truth is that today is a hard day.  And my heart isn’t overflowing with thankfulness.  I know I have much to be thankful for, but my lips aren’t quick to speak of it.  I am more just “doing it” today – going through the day like a usual Thanksgiving, except that it isn’t usual at all.  I miss Gabriel, and all throughout this day I wish he was here.  I also see my Granny everywhere around me.  It’s hard to have Thanksgiving without her.  This year is just different.  And I know so many of you know that feeling, of experiencing Thanksgiving without someone so special to you. 

 

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Today I hope you have a very Happy Thanksgiving!  My prayer for you is that you find a way to be thankful – whether it’s out of an overflowing and thankful heart or whether it’s an act of faith.  I spent some time this morning praying for those having a hard day – for so many different reasons.  And please know that I am saying prayers of thanksgiving for all of you.