Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The Promise of a Rainbow

It's been a little over 6 months since I wrote the hardest blog I've ever had to pen.

Six months of wondering. Six months of wishing. Six months of triggers I never imagined I'd deal with. 

How many pregnancies have you had? And then the follow-up question...How many children do you have? I have two if you must know...two whole children. Only, one isn't in my arms like she should be. One is waiting on her mama and daddy to join her. 

I should be able to buy the cute Thanksgiving outfit I found. But I can't. 

The triggers occur without warning. Sometimes I can breathe through them and get by with just a tear or two escaping like I did Saturday as I gazed longingly at the "Mommy's Little Turkey" outfit I should be able to put on my little girl at Thanksgiving. Sometimes they come fast and hard and almost choke the life out of me like the questionnaire a few weeks ago that asked me those dreaded how many pregnancies and how many living children questions. Those hurt. And I sat in my empty classroom sobbing as I answered them. 

Even through the pain and the emotional roller coast that grief has been, I always knew that God had given us a promise and that promise would come in His timing. 

On August 19th, my 31st birthday, just over 4 months after we said goodbye to our sweet Zivah, two faint lines appeared on another pregnancy test. Joy should have consumed me, right? Wrong. I was terrified. I wanted to be pregnant. I wanted this. So why was I so consumed with worry and fear? Granted some of that fear was caused by some physical issues that corrected themselves after the first week but I took about five home pregnancy tests and two blood tests to check my hCg levels. After about a week, I calmed down and the Lord gave me a sweet peace but it wasn't until I saw our little rainbow's heart beating on the sonogram screen at 8 weeks that I truly felt myself breathe again. 

This pregnancy is so different. I am cherishing every moment because, well...you know. 
I've been utterly exhausted this go around and am silently hoping that isn't a sign of things to come (insert smiley emoji here). Actually, the truth is, I will take every late night feeding, every inconsolable cry, every dirty diaper with the upmost gratitude because I know what it's like to not have it when you're supposed to. I should be rocking our almost 2 month old right now but instead I'm writing about her and her little sister or brother. 

I know God has an incredible plan for this child and I can't wait to see how it all unfolds. I'm so grateful for His grace and His peace. It is that peace that has gotten us through. 

Thank you all for being there for us...for praying for us and continuing to pray for us. This journey has not been easy but I can honestly say now that I am grateful for it because I would not be who I am now if it had not been for the tragedy that occurred in our lives on April 11th. 

I can't wait to introduce our sweet rainbow to the world in May. In our lives, April showers are bringing May flowers...and rainbows. :)


 Mom bought a cake to celebrate our rainbow. 

One of our announcement pics. We announced publicly on Zivah's original due date.
One of my sweet friends made our shirts.

Rainbow's first picture


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Friday, July 13, 2018

#RelationshipGoals

The more I talk to and observe married couples and families, the more convinced I am that the enemy is running rampant, doing whatever he can to destroy those relationships through financial disagreements, medical diagnoses, lack of community, or insert issue here. And I am having none of it. It makes me downright angry. My husband, J, and I have had so many conversations about marriage over the last 10 years. We don't consider ourselves marriage experts by any stretch of the imagination but we have been happily married for 10.5 years and have been through the valley this year and come out closer than ever, so we feel that it gives us a tiny bit of experience and a small right to talk about it. 

We've been told by many people in our lives that we are not the norm - our relationship is different than a good majority of the population. In the last 10 years, I remember one fight. In our first year of marriage. That's not to say that there haven't been disagreements but I couldn't tell you what any of those were about because they blow over quickly and are forgotten. 

In our first year of marriage, we got into it about something. What, I don't even remember. It was the first time we had a real taste of how we both handled conflict. I'm fight. He's flight. He would rather remove himself from the situation so he doesn't spew things out of his mouth in anger that he can't take back and I would rather hash it out right then and there and get it over with. So during this particular event, he left. He got in his truck and he left. And I was left fuming. I sat, fidgeting. I paced the floor. I don't remember if I tried calling him or texting him while he was gone but that's beside the point. I made the decision (without thinking of the repercussions) to not be home when he came back. If he could leave, I could too. That will teach him, I thought. Oh, sweet, innocent, stupid 20 year old me.  I called a friend who still lived on campus (because I was a baby when I got married and was still in college) and picked her up for some coffee. We headed to Starbucks and hung out for a while. Something kept telling me that leaving was probably not the best solution (that Holy Spirit can really question your decisions) and I finally decided we needed to go. 

That's when God's holy sense of humor comes into play. I can look back and laugh now but at the moment, I remember wanting to punch something. We got in my car and...nothing. It wouldn't turn over. My battery was dead. Right there in the Starbucks parking lot. We didn't have emojis back then but I would definitely use the one with hand over the face to describe that moment. Naturally, I had to call my husband to come rescue us. I don't remember if my friend got another ride back or if she rode with us. My husband got there, put his battery in my car I think to get it started and then took it out and put it back in his. We drove to the nearest auto shop to get a new battery. I can't even recall how things were solved but I know apologies were most likely made and a discussion was surely had about how we handle those situations differently and what we needed from each other during those times. He needs to be left alone (good, just don't ever leave again) and I need the opportunity to talk about it. So the compromise is we talk about it after he's had some time to cool off and can hold a conversation calmly. The good news is we haven't had to employ those except for a handful of times in the last 10 years. 

He asked me last night if I could give only one piece of advice for having a healthy marriage/relationship, what would it be? 
JUST ONE? Dear people, if you know me at all, you know that I am a lover of words and I will use many of them to explain just about anything so no, my sweets, I cannot give just one piece of advice. I can maybe narrow it down to my top 5. These are not heavily researched or surveyed. These are my own, our own - what's worked for us. This is what helps us be able to wake up and smile in the morning ten years later because we get to do this life together. This is what helps us disagree whole-heartedly with others who have been married longer who say marriage ruined their life. This is what helps us say with absolutely certainty "until death do us part." 

1. Jesus - I know that's so cliche. But I would be remiss not to give Him credit for this marriage and this life. As we have grown closer to the Lord, we have grown closer to each other. You can't have one growing closer and one stepping away because inevitably, you as a couple will grow apart. As scripture says that "the two shall become one," we operate together as a team in that oneness. We very specifically asked for the verses in Ephesians to be read aloud at our wedding. The bible has some very specific things to say about how wives and husbands are to love each other. Now there are certainly men who take the submission scripture to hold over their wives' heads demanding respect and obedience. That is not what this scripture tells us. It tell us that husbands are to love their wives JUST AS Christ loved the church. That means you need to be a spiritual leader, husbands. You lead your wife as Christ leads you. You do not go rogue and try to lead on your own. That will spell disaster and no, you will not earn the respect you need from your wife. Wives, it can be difficult to submit, especially if you have an issue with control. All humans, no matter who you are, want their own way. It's just how we are. We are naturally selfish beings. But when you can put aside what you want and follow your husband knowing that he will have to give an account for where he leads your family, things will work out. If he makes a decision without consulting you, I understand that can be upsetting. But if his decision doesn't cause financial suffering or isn't going to make much difference in the grand scheme of things in the next few months, kindly get over it. In any case - Christ first, always. 

2. Expectations - We have seen this so many times. Unmet expectations are the number one cause for disappointment and discontentment in my opinion. I'm pretty sure I made it somewhat clear to J that I was not going to be his mother. If I didn't want to cook and he wanted to eat, he could cook it himself. He has two hands and can do his own laundry. I'm not the best housewife so if it's dirty to you, clean it. That sounds harsh just typing it but it's the basic truth. The thing is, my husband has the mindset that if he doesn't feel like doing it, he's not going to expect me to do it either. Praise the Jesus for that. Let me say that louder for the men in the back -  IF YOU DON'T WANT TO DO IT, DON'T EXPECT YOUR WIFE TO DO IT! Now the same holds true for women. If you don't want to do it, don't expect your man to either. Case in point: he doesn't like doing laundry and if he doesn't feel like doing his own laundry, he is not going to expect me to do his laundry either. And yes, the man does his own laundry. Praise the detergent gods! I've done it on occasion just to show I love him but he's steadily done his own for 10.5 years. All the praise hands!

The other area I see this issue is in the area of physical expectations. News flash: the man or woman you married will most likely not look the same in ten or twenty years and if they do, they might need to share their secret with the rest of the world. Guys, when your wife has children, things migrate and shift and move. It is not fair but it is life. Her body will not look the same as it did on your wedding night. Get over it. She grew humans inside of her! What have you done? Burped the alphabet? I'm sure there are many of you that have since stuffed some of your six-pack into a cooler so calm yourselves. The only expectations I tried to go into marriage with was that he would love me fiercely and would fight for us if need be. Those expectations have been met every day for 10.5 years. 

3. Humility - Selfishness has no room in a marriage (or any relationship for that matter). It will eat away at that relationship from the inside out and leave devastation in its wake. I've heard it said that marriage should be 50/50 or a give and take. Um, no. I rebuke that philosophy. Marriage is 100/100...you each giving your all. And it's a give/give. My husband and I are constantly thinking of what will make the other one happy and how we can show love. I'll be honest...he's so much better at that than I am. With this humility comes a removing of the thought process that your way is the way it should be. This humility means that you discuss major decisions together taking each other's thoughts and feelings into consideration and reaching a decision together. Sometimes compromise is needed, friends. 

For a good portion of our marriage, he has been the stay at home parent while I worked. I never ONCE put myself above him just because I made the money. He was keeping our offspring alive so, hello. We both mutually understood the importance of what the other one did and neither job was worth more than the other. I never made him feel less than because he wasn't working outside the home (at least not that I'm aware of). 

Also...people...APOLOGIZE. Listen, you will not spontaneously combust if the words, "I'm sorry. I was wrong," come out of your blessed mouth. I promise. Sometimes my hubby teases me because I apologize for everything and then he says something about my multitudinous apologies and I apologize for apologizing, so there's that. But if you are wrong, admit it. And sometimes, we have to apologize first. It won't kill you. 

4. Communication - This is so key to a happy marriage. You have to talk. And I don't mean, "Hey how was your day?" I mean real talk. Not yelling. Not talking AT each other. But truly talking (and listening - shut your mouth and open your ears, friends). J and I regularly discuss our desires, hopes for the future, shortcomings, dreams, etc. We know we aren't perfect and we discuss ways to be better. Sometimes those conversations are hard. You have to share hard truths but they are worth it. Guys, your wife is not "one of the guys" and you can't talk to her like one. We don't operate like a guy nor do we think like one. What takes a guy 5 minutes to get over might take us 5 days (or weeks). Be patient with us. Ladies, guys operate out of a brain full of compartments and nothing is connected to the other. For us, the burned dinner is attached to the car problems which is attached to the fact we were late to work and the dog threw up. To our husbands, we are crying over burnt dinner and are certifiably crazy. Just order a pizza! Geez! 

Understand that we think and operate differently. Care about each other's opinions. Find ways to foster and cultivate each other's passions and dreams. Be an encourager and your spouse's biggest cheerleader. Learn how to communicate. You cannot attack each other verbally. And for the love, please do not argue/fight in front of your kids. That is more damaging than you might believe. Men, are you treating your wife and speaking to her the way you want your son to treat his wife or the way you want your daughter's future husband to treat her? Women, same question goes for you. Are you uplifting your husband the way you want your son's wife to? I have to ask myself if my son married someone like me, would I be okay with that. Some days that answer is YES! And other days that answer looks more like hiding in a closet crying convinced you're screwing up your child(ren) for life. It happens. But you are the first example of what a godly marriage should be and you set up what your children should expect out of marriage - and it shouldn't be bickering, name calling, constant irritation, or silence. 

5. Unity - This is a huge one. J and I are a team. We are not bad cop, good cop. Many times we are both bad cop. Or sarcastic cop. That one's fun. We display a unified front in front of the man child. He is none the wiser if one of us disagrees with how the other handled a situation. We talk about it behind closed doors so that our sweet cherub of a child has no idea that his father did not appreciate my hulk smash moment over making said child put his blessed clothes away. And most of the time all it takes to signal to the other one that we are not in agreement is a calm, "Honey." That's it. There's a certain, "Calm down you crazy lunatic" attached to the word "honey" when uttered a certain way in the midst of  a parental Armageddon moment.  We are not going to agree on every single solitary thing. That is okay. You have permission to disagree. You do not have permission to turn that disagreement into a shouting match in front of your kids (see above section on communication). 

Defend each other. Nothing is more detrimental to a woman's inner security than a man who will not defend her in front of others - namely, other family members. And ladies, defend your man (this obviously does not apply to abusive/unfaithful situations - there is no defense there). I have been in so many situations with other women where I've listened to them complain and grumble about their husbands. I've never fallen into that. I've also made sure to maintain his dignity even in his absence. This is so important. 

***
A few other thoughts: thank each other for what you contribute to the marriage and home. Thank whoever brings home the dough and pays the bills for working hard to keep you financially secure. Thank whoever keeps tiny humans alive during the day for doing the hard work of raising children all day every day without end. Thank each other when things are done around the house. Thanks for cleaning the house, honey. Thanks for taking out the garbage, dear. Thanks for cooking a delicious meal or taking us out for one. Gratitude and appreciation go a long way too. Learn each other's love language and then speak it. I'm still working on this one. Husbands, hold your wives when they cry and simply tell them you love them and everything will be okay. We don't always need you to fix everything and sometimes things can't be fixed. Wives, acknowledge your husband. They want to know that they have what it takes. Show them that they do (that tidbit brought you by my other half). Laugh. Don't take yourself so seriously. I think half of the issues we have could dissolve with a good dose of laughter. It is the antidote for so many things. Be silly together. Bring on the laughter.

***

I make no guarantee that following these tips will mean you have a kick-butt marriage and are happy happy joy joy 100% of the time. Duh. We're human. There is no such thing as a perfect marriage because we are all flawed human beings. Can I get an AMEN? But, these are five categories that we make work for us. If both individuals in a marriage can work on being humble, Jesus-loving people who communicate effectively, let go of expectations, and maintain a unified front, then that marriage (I believe) can thrive. Now, if only one individual in the marriage is willing to put in the work, then all you can do is pray and keep the hope that eventually the Lord will open his/her heart and redeem all those broken pieces. 

I could write so much more and I know all relationships are different and you may have a whole arsenal of things that have worked for you, many that you may have learned the hard way. Anyhow, thanks for reading my two-cents. I hope ten years from now, you can still kiss in front of the kids and make them say, "Ewww." That is #relationshipgoals.

Much love.

Almost two years later and he still makes the same face!




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Friday, June 29, 2018

Chasing A Dream


Since I was a little girl I've told stories. Before I could read, I would look at the pictures in a book and make up my own story. Throughout elementary, I wrote story after story. I entered a story contest or two and when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer was most often "an author." I continued to give that answer through middle school and I'm not quite sure when my answer changed. I know my writing became less creative and more educational and informative - the very writing I loathed. At some point I probably blamed writing in school for sucking away my creativity like a vacuum. The truth was: I just quit writing for pleasure. 

I took a Creative Writing class in college that I loved and wrote a few other things but writing just wasn't the same for me. I also didn't read much. As a younger child, my nose was always in a book. I can guarantee you that there is a direct correlation between how much someone reads and their ability to write creatively. When I'm reading more, it charges my creative battery and I am able to write. 

For years, certain people have told me the same thing over and over again: WRITE THE BOOK. What book you ask? It doesn't matter. They've just wanted me to pursue this dream that has been buried inside me for most of my life. I've started many books; but somewhere along the way, I lose momentum. I'm no longer invested in the characters or the story line and so, many of my books sit unfinished. 

Except now...

I finished reading a fiction book by one of my favorite authors a few weeks ago and it was like a spark ignited inside me. The idea for a story was born inside. I started by writing down a few notes - the backstory of my main characters and their names. And then I just started writing. And I kept writing. And I kept writing. And now, only about three weeks in, I am halfway to a novel. HALFWAY, I said. You guys, this is insane! I have never been this far into writing a book before. And my head is still so full of ideas. I was worried I wouldn't have enough ideas to get the length I needed but I think now, I'm going to go well over. In order to have a manuscript that can be considered novel length by publishers, you have to have at least 50,000 words which is roughly 200 pages. I am on page 100, friends. PAGE. ONE. HUNDRED. And...OVER 30,000 WORDS!!

I can't even believe I've gotten this far. The feeling I get when I proclaim I will finish this time is unlike anything I've felt before. Excitement mixed with a little bit of fear. But I'm 30 years old (almost 31...shhhh), and it's about dang time I chase this dream I've had for so long. It's scary y'all. I won't lie. I know when I finish this thing and I'm ready to attempt the publishing, I  will be terrified to send it off. And I also know that it will likely take upwards of a thousand rejections before I get that one YES! 

My overall goal is to have the first draft completed before the end of my summer. Then I will spend the next several months carefully revising and editing each individual chapter by hand. I would love to have a finished manuscript by December. I'm praying I can stay the course and chase this dream until it becomes a reality. I don't want to give up this time. I want to show my kids that fulfilling their dreams is possible. But those dreams won't come without hard work and dedication. And they might make you downright uncomfortable at times.

What makes you come alive? What do you have buried deep in your heart that you've shared with others or maybe kept a secret? What's your passion? What have you been afraid to pursue because of possible failure or just simply fear? Find that dream. Then chase it down like a dog chasing bacon with legs. 

In the middle of Chapter 13...









Sunday, June 17, 2018

But I'm Not...

It's been over two months now. I can say that the raw pain has dissipated. I no longer feel as if my heart has been ripped from my chest. I no longer desire to scream into a pillow each night. I no longer wake up hoping it was all a dream just to see the evidence that it wasn't. I've accepted that this is our reality. I don't like it. I wish for a different reality, but I accept it. I also know that I needed this season in my life. I wish it had a different outcome. But I know for my growth, for my refinement, for my faith...I had to go through this season.

Most of the time I'm okay. 

But I have more time to think and stew when I'm not working and if I don't keep myself busy, I will be stuck inside my own head and I promise you that there are times that is the last place I want to be. 

A couple weeks ago I sat in what would have been her room. I held the first outfit I bought her, the "Little Sister" jammies, and I sat on the floor and cried. 

A week or so ago, I sat at the kitchen table after eating my breakfast scrolling through Facebook when I came across a video a friend had posted of her daughter twirling around in a new dress. I lost it. It's things like that that toss me on my emotional roller coaster. I won't get to see Zivah twirl in a new dress. I won't get to see her wear pearls for the first time or try on high heels that are too big for her. I won't get to watch her step on her daddy's feet while he dances with her around the living room. These are the things I miss - the things I will never get to do. 

As I'm writing this, we're in Hartselle, Alabama visiting my mom and my grandparents in a place I love. However it is not lost on me that I should be six months pregnant right now and whining about carrying a child in this heat. But I'm not. I should be making summer memories with my only child for the last time because it would be his last summer as such. But I'm not. Memories are being made but not with the same intentions. I should be getting her nursery together, spending time on the little details. But I'm not. I should be organizing all the clothes I received into her closet by size. But I'm not. I  should be scheduling maternity pictures and planning for maternity leave. But I'm not.

Today, while mom and I were at Wal-Mart, I was walking through the baby section. Several baby girl outfits were on clearance and I stopped to look for my dear friend who is having a baby girl in August. I picked up an adorable outfit and brought mom through later to look. The emotion hit again and I broke down right there in the baby section of Wal-Mart. I'm supposed to be shopping for my little girl too. But I'm not. My mom held me and then guided me out. It still hurts. Not the same raw hurt it was in the beginning but more of a dull ache that flares up every now and then. You always feel it. Sometimes you just feel it stronger than others. 

I could stay angry at the outcome. But I'm not. I could wallow in my grief until it overwhelms every fiber of my being. But I'm not. I could be bitter toward those who get to have their healthy babies. But I'm not. I could shut out the people that mean anything to me because of pain. But I'm not. I could play the victim of grief instead of claiming victory in Jesus. But I'm not. 

I know Jesus has me. He has us. What I will do is live this life to the fullest. I will make my sweet Zivah proud of her mommy. Today, I will celebrate her daddy because he is the best one I know and has been my rock. Today and each day after that, I will choose joy. That, I will do...


Scripture I colored and something I remind myself of constantly. 

Sweet pillow a friend gifted me on Mother's Day.

P.S. Always feel free to share. Pregnancy loss is not something people talk about much. But I want to talk about it. If sharing might help someone else in their loss, please do so with my full permission, friends. 

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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Embracing the Season

Almost two weeks ago I was privileged to attend our church's first annual women's conference: GLOW. I went not knowing what to expect and came away fully impacted.

The speaker from the second day (Jenny Slenk) spoke about the seasons of life we go grow through and the disappointment that often comes with certain seasons. She talked about the idea that those disappointments come from our expectations not being met and how we need to shift our expectations we have of ourselves and others to expectations of God. We need to first raise our expectations of God (He doesn't fit in a neat little box y'all), we need to expect the unexpected next (oh how well I know this), and finally we need to do the unexpected for God (whatever that looks like in your season). 

We took a close look at Esther - one of my all time favorite women of the Bible. We examined her season as queen and the one that God would use to save the Jews in that time. One of the most poignant moments of Esther in my opinion is when Mordecai asks her, "Who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" So in applying that to our own lives...what if God has placed you in your season for a certain purpose? As Jenny stated so eloquently, "What if your circumstance is so you can put God on display?"

Wow. Focus on that, will you? What if your circumstance is so you can put God on display? This resonated with me, friends. It resonated deep. Sometimes we are thrown into an unknown season with circumstances we did not expect and that we certainly do not like. The Bible never says we have to LIKE our circumstances. But we should step back and ask the Lord, "How do You want to use me in this season?" I can tell you all about learning to expect the unexpected and embrace the season I'm in. It's not always easy. It requires faith, trust, and a whole lot of prayer. But I am learning to embrace where He has me in this moment. 

Dictionary.com states the definition of embrace is "to take or receive gladly or eagerly; accept willingly." I can't say that I necessarily receive this season gladly but I think I can accept it willingly. I know that in entering a season of grief and learning to talk about the loss of our little girl that I am able (with God) to open the doors to others' grief and show them that it's okay to talk about it. In all honesty, I entered this season with closed fists and did not want to accept where the Lord had led us. But here I am with open hands and an open heart asking Abba what He has for us in this season with these circumstances. We can serve God in the places that are unknown to us because we can rest assured that He knows. He knows and He has it in His hands and is using it for a purpose greater than we can imagine. Expect God to do great and  mighty things in your season. 

Embrace it. Who knows if you are where you are so you can put God on display?

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Love this graphic. It speaks to exactly what I am writing about. 

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Saturday, May 12, 2018

Four Weeks of Lessons

Four weeks. 

It's been four weeks since we said hello and goodbye to our little girl in the same breath.

It's been four weeks of questions. Four weeks of whys. Four weeks of trying to get up each morning and put on a smile.

Four weeks.

On the one hand I'm surprised it's already been four weeks. But on the other hand, I feel like it has been the longest four weeks of my life. I feel like I've run an emotional marathon...and I'm still running. 

I've learned some valuable lessons during this marathon though.

I've learned that talking about this, talking about her, helps. I don't understand why miscarriage and pregnancy and infant loss have been such taboo subjects. It needs to be talked about. People need to know that it happens. It's not rare. And you're not alone. If I've learned anything from this journey, it's that I'm not alone. There is a tribe of women that have walked this path before me and a tribe of them that will come after me. I don't know why. I may never know why Jesus needed our baby girl before we got a chance to know her. 

I've learned that when I stop and think of all the things I don't get to experience with her, it tears me apart. I don't get to watch her learn her first words or take her first steps. I don't get to paint her nails or learn to do her hair. I don't get to wear matching outfits with her or sing songs of praise with her. I don't get to go dress shopping for her first dance or celebrate her achievements. I hate it. It hurts. But then I have to switch gears and remind myself that she never has to feel pain. She will never experience a broken heart. She will never hear ugly words spewed at her or fear the unknown. She will never worry or be sad or be lonely. And when I remember these things, for a moment, it makes it a little better. 

I've learned not to sweat the small stuff. I've always tried to roll with the punches (sometimes better than others) but this has really taught me not to worry about the things I can't change. If it's something I can change, then I can try to do something about it. But if I can't, I just try to change my attitude. I'm not perfect in this area by any means, but I'm trying. With the Lord's help, I'm trying.

I've learned the value of our tribe. The people we surround ourselves with are of vital importance. Our tribe is a lot larger than I thought it was. My work tribe, my Jesus tribe, my family tribe...all important. I still am blown away by the people that loved on us and donated time or food or money or garden items. I feel so unworthy to have been surrounded by so much love but yet I know God placed them there so I could stand on the shoulders of the saints in His strength. 

I've learned to be more intentional. The people that supported us? They were intentional. I've wanted to be more intentional but always felt like I fell short. I suppose one has to be intentional about being intentional. I want to be more intentional with my spoken words (still a work in progress), more intentional with my time, more intentional with sharing how I feel about the people I love, more intentional about doing what I love, and more intentional about my time with Jesus. 

I've learned that grief is a process. There are stages. And you can be in one stage one day and another stage the next and then you can repeat stages over again...sometimes multiple times a day. The cycle of grief has slowed down from where it was 4 weeks ago, but it's still there, taking us back and forth periodically. I'm not sure that cycle ever truly ends. 

I've learned a lot. And tomorrow, I will learn how to celebrate Mother's Day as the mommy of an angel. And I will cry because Zivah is not here and I am. I will smile because my precious boy will tell me Happy Mother's Day and kiss my cheek and give me what he made at school and beg to eat the cake he decorated for me. I will cry again because my first Mother's Day as a mother of two was not supposed to look like this. I am supposed to be cuddling an 8 month old bouncing baby girl next Mother's Day...not missing her and longing for her tomorrow. 

For all moms: moms of angels, moms of one, moms of many, moms of none (yet)...Happy Mother's Day. May the peace that passes all understanding wash over all of us tomorrow. 

Zivah's lamb that we took to the hospital with us. Her TayTay (grandma) bought it for her.

The painting I bought for my husband's birthday. It depicts how he sees her and our Jesus.

Big brother standing in front of his little sister's memory garden. 




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Thursday, April 26, 2018

The After

It's been 15 days...

Our lives are now split into two parts.

Before and After

We now abide in the after. The after is full of questions and wondering. The after is full of tears at unannounced moments and finding joy where we can. The after is full of emotions that swing like a pendulum and minds that go crazy with the whys or what ifs. The after is different. We are different. 

There are weak moments. Moments when I want to kneel on the floor of the shower with tears streaming down my face and scream "Why?" at my Maker and hers. But asking why won't bring her back or make me miss this child I never got to know any less. Talk about a strange feeling. Missing a child you never held or kissed like you would miss a limb if it was suddenly cut off. This after I live in is a place where a piece of me is missing but that piece is whole and perfect dancing with her Savior. 

I know there is a purpose in this. We both do. We know we did not go through this pain to keep it to ourselves. I want to talk about it. I need to talk about it. I will talk about it. I won't apologize if it makes someone uncomfortable, because this is our story to share and in that sharing, we can heal...and maybe help bring healing to others. 

Healing...

Who would have guessed that my healing would come in the form of a garden and getting myself dirty to plant flowers - doing yard work that I would otherwise loathe. But Zivah's Garden, our garden to honor the memory of our baby girl, is just that - healing. Every time I look at it, sit in it, add something to it, or try to clean up the leaves, I feel the pieces of my heart being put back together. It is full of contributions from people that have loved on us incredibly the last 2 weeks - people that would have loved Zivah immensely. 

What also heals is finding the purpose in Zivah's short life inside me. I look for it. I crave it. Today, I received a sweet message from someone saying I was an inspiration and encouragement and that my faith during this time helped lead her back to where she needed to be. I cried as I read these words that I found almost hard to believe. How could my broken self be an inspiration to anyone? Sometimes I feel like I'm barely holding it together...but I guess that's the point. I'm not holding me together. My Heavenly Father is. Just as He is holding our sweet Zivah in His arms, He is holding us together and giving us His strength to walk this journey. 

I wrote a poem last night that my husband said I should share. He's usually right so here it is. 

Sometimes...Always

Sometimes when I say I'm okay, I mean it
Sometimes when I say I'm good, it's true
But most of the time when you ask me
I tell a lie just to get through

Sometimes I make it without crying
Sometimes I give a genuine smile
But if you're asking me to be my old self
You'll probably be waiting a while

Sometimes I can joke and laugh
Sometimes I think of her and grin
But when I think of what I don't get to do
It can send me into a wild tailspin

Sometimes the grief takes a backseat
Sometimes it doesn't hold on
But then there are the times it chokes me
And tries to bury me until I'm gone

Sometimes I give in and let it
Sometimes I try to fight back
But then I remember my Father
That He has everything that I lack

Sometimes I feel at my weakest
Sometimes the darkness tries to drown
But He's always my light in the darkness
He's always my strength when I'm down

Always He knows my name
Always He holds my heart
No matter the valleys I walk through
He's held my hand from the start


First flower being planted

Beautiful hibiscus bloom

Zivah's Garden stone with Psalm 91:4 verse

Zivah's Garden sign

Full view - my happy place





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