Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Year In Review...

I am not certain that I even know where to start, I just know that it has been awhile since I have written and I've got an itch. I suppose it is pretty typical for people to end the year with a summary of events, happenings and such. 
I came across a neat "worksheet" that had some questions and I felt like it helped me to gather my thoughts and really look back at what happened this year and how it has made me who I am in this moment. 

10 greatest things that happened in the past year:
1. I was the mother of two babies, both living and breathing, snuggly and here with me. 
2. I have been awakened to how amazing the people in my life are.
3. I have become more grateful for the small things, the simple life, and every moment I have with my loved ones.
4. My baby boy was healed of heart complications and was ushered into eternity. Not that it was great, but God's healing was provided. That, is great. 
5. I felt like I got more control over some of my out of control habits I have struggled with for years. Slowly but surely. 
6. Seeing my baby girl turn 2 years old.
7. Celebrating 6 years of marriage
8. The many birthdays, anniversaries and births of the year, of family and friends. All such celebrations.
9. Hearing of the many many people who were touched by Noah and his life. 
10. Being a stay at home mom, despite the sacrifice it is on our family. 

I am most proud of these three accomplishments from last year:
1. Not letting go of my faith after Noah died.
2. Seeing my girl learn her ABC's, counting past 10, have such manners, learn to start making decisions, have friends, play, learn about Jesus. Not that they are MY accomplishments, they are Ava's, but I feel so proud to be a part of her life and be her mommy. 
3. Learning to live life after the death of my baby. 

Three great lessons I’ve learned from last year are:
1. God IS God. He IS good. He SEES me. He Knows.
2. Life can change in the matter of a second.
3. Death isn't bad. 

Three personal developments I have made in the past year are:
1.I have learned to dig deeper into myself, to be more honest with myself and the Lord.
2. journal/prayer journaling, after a dry spell during the initial grieving time when Noah died. 
3. Less soda. this. is. HUGE.

If I could do things again last year, I would do these three things differently:
1. I would seek out more support, earlier in the grieving process
2. I would have tried harder to not expect the worse, even when it felt like that is all that ever happened to us.
3. Prayed about things more than I talked about them.

Three things I need to do less of in the next year are:
1. complain
2. stress
3. assume

Three things I need to do more of in the next year are:
1. pray
2. pray
4. dig deeper in the Word
5. simplify 

Three things I need to stop doing completely in the next year are:
1. doubting God's power
2. holding back in my prayers
3. being so judgemental in general

Three reasons I didn’t achieve my goals from this past year are:
1. not sure I had any goals. 
2. my main goals ended up being to just get through each day
3. grieving is a process and each day is a new goal.

Three goals I want to achieve this next year are:
1. simplify my life, our home life and as much as possible. 
2. declutter
3. be purposeful in health

Three reasons why I want to achieve these goals are:
1. to appreciate what really matters
2. to be cleared of clutter so that I can be free to live for the Lord
3. to be healthy for my family

Smartest decision I made last year: This is going to sound odd, but Nick and I had to make the hardest decision of our lives on February 22, 2013. That was to release Noah to the Lord and to allow his body to not be living on machines. This was, the hardest, most gut wrenching and heart breaking decision I have been a part of making, but I know it was the right one. God instilled that in us so deeply. 

Biggest risk I took last year: starting in 2012, we started an adventure we had no idea would turn out the way it did, but we trusted the Lord and set out on the adventure he wanted us on. 

One sentence that sums up this past year:
I will trust God's character, even when I do not understand his ways. 

One year from right now, I want to my ideal day to look like this:
Healthy choices, Christ at the center, family focused, decluttered, less junk, less busy. More creative, ready for another new chapter. The next year is definitely a season of preparation. 

Maybe this next year will be one of even more healing, joy and light heartedness. I know it will also come with its hardships and trials. I do pray that it is a year of redemption, reward and refreshment. I know that I desire simplicity, cleaning out of heart and home, changes in my daily routine and more time for what really matters, not what I think matters or what I think I should be doing for my image or how people perceive me. God is calling me to be focused on the most important things, still, and go even deeper in that calling. 
Have a blessed 2014. 

Thank you is not enough to express my gratitude for all the support and love over this past year. It has FLOWN by. Some days it feels like Noah died yesterday, other days it feels like a lifetime ago. Thank you all for the support and prayers. They are felt. 

be blessed, 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Pondering Mary

I always wanted to be Mary. Well, on Christmas I did. Mimi always had us all gather around for the reading of the Christmas story from Luke and as the story was read, we each would take our figurine from the nativity and place it in the scene. I always wanted to be Mary, but I ended up being a cow or a sheep. Sometimes I would get Mary and I would feel so special. Mary's figurine is feminine, gentle, peaceful and lovely. I felt like I had arrived, if I got handed Mary. I think deep down I have always wanted to be a mother. Mom would have to tell me to stop mothering my sister when we were little. I remember day dreaming about kids, a family, babies, etc. I have, for as long as I can remember, wanted to be a mom. Oddly enough, because kids tend to drive me crazy. haha. Mary tends to get a little too much attention in my book, as far as some denominations and religions go, but the older I have gotten I tend to lean on Mary's testimony and her example of faith and courage more and more.

Mary knew, from day one, that her son would die. When the angel came to her, a sweet teenage girl, and revealed to her God's plan for her, (don't we all wish, sometimes, that we could be told so plainly what God is going to do in the next season of our life) she was told she would give birth to the son of God and that he would be the Messiah. The savior of all the world.
I remember laying in the Dr's office and getting the news that Noah had half a heart, that he would need surgery immediately after birth and that it was a very serious heart defect that some babies don't survive. Absolute fear, trembling, anger and questioning came over my spirit, my entire person was overwhelmed with emotion and fear. The Dr didn't start with "do not be afraid" like Gabriel did. I wish I had that to cushion the blow, but I didn't. I like to think that being told, at 15 or 16, that God was going to make me pregnant, with his divine offspring, that I would react as Mary did, but I know for a fact, that I would not have had such faith, poise and grace as the scripture portrays. (I also like to think that she had at least a mild freak out at some point in the journey. In Luke 1:29 it does say she was troubled. So, I do feel a little encouraged. haha)

I wonder what it was like to raise her boy, knowing he would die the most cruel of deaths, for people who wouldn't deserve to stand where her son would walk, much less have him take their place in punishment of their sin. When Jesus took his first baby steps, did she cry with joy, but at the same time pain? When Jesus began his ministry did she want to hold him back and keep him home, just because she knew what was coming? I suppose she was like any mother, with each milestone she celebrated, but she also cried a little inside. I think about all the hype and craziness of Christmas and for her, "Christmas" was not a party, it wasn't glitz and glam, it wasn't even a holiday or an event. She lived what most of us could never even imagine, she gave birth on a pile of straw, as the livestock watched, ate and pooped a few feet away. She did not have the luxury of pain management. She endured the pains of child birth in every sense and as she "pondered these things in her heart" I do not think she was pondering all the details of the day, the baby shower gifts the Magi brought or the woolly visitors of that day. I think as she pondered, she was thinking of her son who was born to die. What a heavy burden to bear as a mother. That night was filled with a bitter sweetness that only she could understand or explain.  She didn't plan her elf on the shelf or go to 5 different stores for stocking stuffers. She didn't decide between the play carpentry set or the wagon for Jesus. She didn't max out a credit card to be the best mom ever. She simply held her baby and I believe, she soaked up every moment she could, knowing he would live to die.

Christmas is so much more than the hype. We all know that, but what if we responded to the Lord's plans and callings on our life as Mary did? What if we told him, "may it be to me as you have said". What if we gently questioned the Lord, as she did, but when He gives us an answer, we don't argue back or become hardened, but submit our spirit and heart to the Lord for his purpose, knowing it is higher and far better than our own.

Christmas Eve is magical, it is lovely, and there are things about it that make my heart skip a beat. This day has had its ups and downs for me. I think back to last year and remember that I was so torn between spending time with my girl and my baby boy. We were 6 hours from home, most of the family, our church and everything comfortable. I remembered, as I sat in our Christmas Eve service this evening, that Mary was hundreds of miles from home, with no family, (besides her fiance) was a new mom, trying to make a stable comfortable and trusting that God had a plan for them. Mary was so humbled, surrendered and submitted. I pray that I can always strive to be just that. I pray that I can continue to trust that God's plan for my children is perfect and that the hole I have in my heart is not an eternal hole. Because of Mary's baby boy, my baby boy was able to be received into heaven, whole and perfect. Because of Mary's boy, I get to see my baby boy again someday. Because of Mary's faith and trust in the Lord, ALL OF THIS BEGAN. If she hadn't of surrendered herself, her needs, her wants, fears and worries, we perhaps could have never had a reason to celebrate anything.

Thank you Mary for being the example of gentleness, trust, faith and surrender. I am thankful for your story, your mothering, your testimony of faith. I'm inspired to continue to trust the Lord with ALL things. May I never forget that God chooses his faithful for the hardest tasks. He walks alongside, he never leaves and he always comes through.

Merry Christmas to each of you and your families. May the Lord richly bless you and yours. Do not forget that we have a Savior who longs for us, desires us and is jealous for us. Give him yourself, your whole self, this season. Trust him. Love him. Share him.

All for Him,
Noah's momma

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Making Headway Painfully

And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about bthe fourth watch of the night1 he came to them, walking on the sea. cHe meant to pass by them...
Mark 6:48

Our small group discussed Mark 6:45-52 this evening and this verse stood out to me so much. Grief is a journey, we all know that and hear it so often. Life is full of moments where we are going along and things are going wonderfully and there are times in our life where we feel like we are dragging our feet through the mud getting nowhere fast. The disciples had just gotten in the boat after the feeding of the 5,000+, they were worn, moody, tired, weary, hungry(because they were busy serving, not eating) and a little done for. They were frustrated with the fact that Jesus wanted them to get in the boat and get across the sea in the wind and storm. It says, "and he say that they were making headway painfully. I do no think I have ever read that verse and it stick out to me so much, like it did tonight. Since May of 2012 I have felt like it is a constant battle to seek the good in our situation, it is a constant battle to not be jealous of others, a constant battle to keep trusting the Lord, a constant struggle and tiring journey of enduring all God has asked us to go through. I see now that we have been making headway painfully. The storm was rough, the winds were  and yet they were making headway. They weren't stuck in one spot, they weren't drowning, they weren't capsized or washed ashore, they didn't die out in the storm or get lost. They were making headway painfully. I suppose there have been times over the last year or so that I completely felt like throwing in the towel, giving up on Christ and just forget about trust, faith, his goodness. I know that each day, each hard moment, each weeping night, it is painful, but it is progress. I continue to make headway painfully. Jesus was watching them from afar and it says He meant to pass by them. At first that seems insensitive and rude. It makes you wonder if Christ was being super selfish and didn't want to deal with the disciples because of their crappy attitude or if he just needed some alone time or what, but I realized this evening as we all discussed that just like when we as parents, let our children learn through their hardship, their experience, we make them keep trying even when they don't want to, so they will LEARN. It seems like Jesus was doing just that. Making the disciples push through and make headway painfully, for a purpose. Always for a purpose. 

So, maybe you are in the middle of some raging storm, you're wondering what the point of it all is, where is the life preserver, is Jesus even there? He is. Maybe He is passing you by, for the moment, because if you read further you will see that he didn't abandon them when they called out to him. He was there, he calmed the storm, he got them to the other side. He always knows what he is doing and he purposes every part of the journey. The storm you are in, well, if you are trusting him, even when it doesn't make sense, if you are still rowing, not giving up, if you are holding on tight and just can't seem to see the light at the end of the tunnel yet, keep holding on. You are making headway painfully. You are. Remember, it is in the painful headway that gets us to the place where we SEE Christ. It is coming. (As I type this, I am reminding myself that I have to believe this word, I have to actually take in the promise that I am making headway, I am still wondering where the shore is, the light at the end of the tunnel, the reason we are still in the tunnel...) 

Painful headway leads to Christ's storm calming, shore arriving, fear eliminating presence. 

and isn't that all we really need? Is him?

Be blessed, 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Isaiah 9:6

Driving to St. Louis last week... It was dark outside, nick was driving, Ava was watching a movie and I was crying quietly as I scrolled through pictures of my precious boy and the journey we were on this time last year. All I wanted was to be home and now all I want is to be wherever Noah is. C.S. Lewis said it well when he wrote in A Grief Observed,
To kiss those cheeks again, what I wouldn't give.
"No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.

At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is  uninteresting. Yet I want the others to be about me. I dread the moments when the house is empty. If only they would talk to one another and not to me."

It's an odd thing to grieve. It comes and goes. At times I have founds myself speechless and quiet, trying to hold back sobs, while everyone just admires their littles ones and goes on and on about how amazing they are and how blessed they are to watch them grow up. There are days, like recently, where I have had to apologize after for being so blunt as to use the words, "dead kid card" while describing how a certain person in our life never charges us when we use her for her services. I said it as if noah was our ticket to getting "special privledges". Which is totally untrue. We are simply loved and blessed by this particular person and she chooses to love on us by letting us have a price break. I realized it sounded so tacky and I had to apologize and thankfully that person knows I just say things like they are and wasn't meaning to be rude. I just call it like I see it and I have a dead kid. I didn't choose it, I certainly never wanted to be someone who has to go on this journey of child loss, grief and turmoil. I just have to take things a day at a time and try my best to be thankful and praise Him for everything in every situation I find myself in. Sometimes finding the humor is part of that process.

 I've been seeing all these blogs being reposted with titles like, "10 things to do while on the toilet" "18 things I wish I knew when I was 5" "44 things your mom never told you about boiling perfect eggs" it's been driving me crazy. I read a few and some I enjoyed, others not so much. There was one on grief and I agreed with it. I do feel like the more I learn about grief the more I feel like everyone knows what I don't know and is waiting for me to join the grief club and get on with life. Sometimes I feel like people are wondering when I am going to get over it and not talk about it anymore or be ok finally.  I am thankful that Christ doesn't deal with us in lists. Although, I have a slight obsession with them. I just know that The Lord lets me deal with all of this as I need to. He is patient and kind. He doesn't push me or try to make me feel things I don't want. He lets me not want another baby on Monday and by Thursday change my mind. He knows that part of my motherhood feels black and empty. He knows that nothing will ever fill that place that my boy should tangibly be. I kind of wonder some days, if the further we get from Noah's death if I will have anything left to write, but I know God is always teaching me something.

Death is such a hard thing. It effects each person left here on earth, differently. May God comfort and hold each one hurting, today and always.

So, my list for today?

Be intentional
Hug your children
Love them well
Tell your spouse you love them and mean it
Do something for someone just because
Take a minute and slow down.
TPaw & The Mighty Noah
Do what you say you will do
Mean what you say
Start a tradition
Keep a tradition
Give thanks
Let it go
Lay it down
Don't turn back

Isaiah 9:6 is a typical Christmas time verse and I felt it has been so over used, but recently I have realized that it is an absolutely incredible verse for everyone, but especially those hurting and grieving deeply.

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

When I think about the journey we have been on since may of 2012, I think of the depth of pain I have endured on so many levels, the lonely feeling nights, the long days, the months that dragged on and on, the times when I was more than helpless and somehow each of these names of Christ have found me in the place I'm in at the time.

Wonderful Counselor
It was sometime in May of 2012 and we had found out we were pregnant, that we were 20 weeks along and that our son had half a heart and there was no chance of it growing or developing. Surgery was his only hope to live and that would have to be done in another town, closest being 6 hours away from home. I came home from that appointment and wept. and wept and wept and wept. I curled up in the fetal position and wept some more. I could not attend to my daughter, I could not even try to put a smile on my face or pretend it was going to be ok. I just mourned and mourned. Deeply. Imagine your son dying. That was what I was crying about. Even though there was a 80% chance of him living I still cried like he was going to die. It hurt. It cut me deeply, in places of my heart I didn't know were there. I finally fell asleep that night and woke up the next morning determined to get in the Word and find some solace. He led me to two scriptures and there He was my personal Counselor. He counseled me on how to find strength, look ahead, wipe my tears and be strong, in Him for my son on the way and my family. He reminded me that He is in control and that He had a plan. He was and continues to be my Wonderful Counselor. When Noah actually did die, and obviously through all of the ups and downs of his little (really huge) life, he was my daily counselor, encouraging me, listening to me and finding me in my hole, pulling me out and helping me move forward. Still, he helps me get up, helps me be thankful, hears me when I weep, congratulates me when I succeed, rejoices over me with singing when I come to new realizations and holds me when I'm shaking with grief. He will always and forever be my Wonderful Counselor.

Mighty God
There have been moments since May of 2012 that I have felt as if I were the smallest living thing on the face of the earth and certainly God didn't have the time or desire to answer me or to hear my cries. There were 3 times when I watched them take my Noah to the OR for open heart surgery. Three times I sat for hours on end helpless, completely spent by praying continually as they opened his chest, worked on his heart, and stabalized him and close him back up. There were 5 months of constant concern, waiting, hoping, praying, crying. Nights when I wouldn't go to sleep until 3 am only to wake up at 7 am calling and checking on him. There were moments when I wondered how we would ever go on. Afternoons when I wondered how much longer we had with him and if it was the last time I would hold him. There were days when I felt as if my son was the last boy on the list for answered prayers. I felt tiny. I felt unseen. I felt unheard. Mighty God, what a name. Dad coined Noah as "The Mighty Noah". It stuck. Many people called him that. including the staff. When I felt like we were lonely and nothing else could go wrong, Mighty God would come in and make it better. We would have a good day with peace and no crazy. We would have a blessing in a clear echo or a day with no O2 problems, etc. I will even say, the night Noah died, Mighty God came to the rescue. He knew my Noah was  hurting, suffering and not truly living here on earth and he scooped him up and rescued him by taking him home. Mighty God. Truly. He continues to be Mighty God is many ways. He was Mighty God when over 200 people showed up to Noah's celebration fellowship. He was Mighty God when we had blizzard that postponed Noah's service so that I would have no choice but to be snowed in with my husband, daughter, sister and best friend for 2 days. :) :) Mighty God indeed, when I was able to lead my church family in Noah and I's favorite worship song. He is Mighty God when from the back seat I hear Ava talking about her bubby, about Jesus, watching her close her eyes and worship. He truly is a Mighty God, even in our lowest moments.

Everlasting Father
Peaceful as ever
This is kind of a hard one. It is obviously the name which is the most intimate I suppose. Counselor, God, and then Father. When I think of Father I have a very wonderful image and am thankful for my wonderful Father here on earth. He has painted the best picture of Father for me, besides Christ and I can never fully thank him enough. He is human though and so he cannot be an everlasting father. For me, Everlasting Father means that as I couldn't and can't be Noah's tangible and real mommy and take care of him, make it better or fix it, He can and He does. For eternity He will continue to be not only Noah's father, but mine. Nick was the best daddy to Noah he possibly could be, but Christ fathers Noah in only ways that he can. For that I am peaceful and hopeful that through the Everlasting part of Christ, made possible by his death, I will be reunited, perfectly, with Noah. Thank you Everlasting Father, for never giving up, giving in or letting go of us. You are everlasting in all ways and  you never change. Thankful for that hope, strength and peace.

Prince of Peace
Prince of Peace. Well, this one is an interesting one for me. Prince. Not King of Peace. I suppose part of how I imagine this one is that since it is talking about Christ, that the King of Peace sent the son of peace to earth, making him the Prince of Peace. This shows his submissive and obedient heart as the son of God. This proves his willingness to obey the Father, follow the Father, and worship the Father. What does this mean for us? It means for us to experience peace, we must know the prince. We must also follow his example and we will find peace in our obedience, our worship and our knowing the King. What more could we ask for but for peace? We all long for peace, ask for peace, desire peace on earth, in our home, with our kids, our spouse our job. Maybe following the Prince of Peace's example would cause us to have peace in ways we can't even imagine. Part of learning this was during the days that I could not function, when I didn't want to be strong, when I couldn't stand my baby girl and husband being far away, when I can't stand the thought of never holding my baby boy again, I submit to the King and He always always brings me peace. It might not be instant, but if I continue to seek him and ask, he always provides peace. Peace that is not explainable, peace that runs deep. Peace that makes it ok that Noah died. Peace that allows me to trust him with future children. Peace that reminds me that Ava will grow up and it will feel too fast, but to take it a day at a time and soak it all up, not to stress and freak out about it all. The Prince of Peace is Wonderful, Mighty and Everlasting.

Christmas photoshoot with Mimi, Tpaw and nurse Emily
I hope that you had a lovely Thanksgiving and that as we prepare to celebrate Christ's birth, we will all realize that without the birth of Christ and more importantly the death and ressurection of Christ, we would be completely hopeless and lost. May we continually thank Him for His goodness to us all.

Love and Christmas blessings,
Noah's mommy

Friday, November 22, 2013

Grief Has No Manners

What. A. Week.

I'm not sure who all reads this, but as a momma, this week has been kinda rough. Anyone know what I mean? Lots of two year old moments, fridge broke, lots going on, blah blah. This week was also just one heck of a grief week. I'm not sure what that even means, other than EVERYTHING was magnified. Every single emotion, frustration, issue; it was all over analyzed and made everything "more than it actually was". Am I making a big mess of sense here? haha.

I have been at this "life after loss" thing since February and it's not that it is easier, but I am getting used to it and I can predict a bit more about when I am going to break down, what will trigger a cryfest or how I'm going to respond to situations, etc. The last few weeks have been a cycle of sorts and this week was no different. The weekends are always so great and I soak up ALL the time I have with Nick and Ava together, just us. We have family time, art lessons/studio time, church, down time..it is so nice. Monday rolls around and brings with it a broken fridge, a cranky toddler, and anything else that could go wrong, not to mention that some days not having my son alive just plain hurts. So, in turn, that puts me into a tail spin and things that should be easily taken care of and everyday issues become the start of a sort of depression and unless I completely let it all out, it just gets worse. There are days that I just wish I could sit and mope, be alone, in the dark with a bunch of netflix, a box of kleenex and a huge dr pepper. Totally irrational, but I truly just need to let it all go and be upset. I don't have that option, so I have to find ways to let it out and then get on with life. I can't force Ava to never go play with her friends because I am too fragile  to take her to playgroup where there are babies everywhere and so much talk of breast feeding, sleep patterns and the latest milestones. It is too hard to go almost every week, but my daughter loves her friends and wants to play. So I buck up, put on some mascara and a smile and take her. I cannot just hide in my house and never go in public, where life happens and people seem to have it all together.

 I want to sit and mope all day, from time to time and I still have to get up, tend to Ava, do laundry, wash dishes, make dinner,  etc. I don't get a day off from being momma to the child i DO have here. Granted, I get time here and there to be by myself and have a break. I am thankful for that and I soak it up, but grief doesn't cater to "only when I have some downtime by myself". It comes whenever it wants and sometimes it comes at the MOST inconvenient times. Grief comes when I see Ava run over to the mommies with the baby carriers and want to touch the babies and kiss them at playgroup. Grief comes when I see a little boy and wonder what Noah will look like at that age. Grief comes, never fails, after I've done a great job with my eye makeup. ha Grief comes when I get on to Ava for something she knows she shouldn't do and I know she needed discipline for, yet I feel like a terrible mom and that I deserve the death of my son. Grief tends to get irrational and very selfish. Grief isn't polite, it isn't scheduled. I wish I could pencil in grief time into my calendar so I would have it all planned out; alone-check, dark place-check, sweat pants-check, lots of kleenex-check, no babies, kids or other moms around-check. haha. I mean, wouldn't that be perfect. I'm not sure why grief comes and goes the way it does. It is so hard to be going along so well and then all of a sudden the floor gives way and you freefall into a pit that is so terrible, yet so comfortable. I almost want to be in it for awhile, to not rush the pain away, but let it do it work. It is a bittersweet place to be and it is necessary. I think each time I hit one of the deep places of sadness, loneliness, and pain, I shed another layer and feel refreshed.

In the same moment I can grieve that Noah is not here, but be so thankful he isn't here suffering. I can want to hang out with other moms and let Ava play and then as soon as we walk in I want to go away and hide. I can be ready to attack a week of chores, work orders and activities and 2 hours into Monday I can throw in the towel and need to curl up in bed. Grief has a mind of its own, but it doesn't have to control mine. I have realized that I can't pretend it doesn't exist, wish it away or ignore it. I have to let it do its work, pray through, ask for help, and hold on to the promise that God is still good, even when we don't understand Him. Through the hurt and pain, good things sprout up, I have found that I am growing deeper roots, even in the hurt and pain. I am finding more about myself than I have in a long time. I'm learning to be honest with myself, be less hard on myself (slowly), be more purposed and determined. Good things can come from deep grief. Don't try to get through it so quickly. (talking to myself) Just let God guide you through the waves as they come and go. Day at a time.

Any ideas on how to get through the awkward moments around moms, hit me up. haha. I'd love to know how any of the women who have suffered child loss get back into the "social mom" game.

In Him,

Friday, November 15, 2013

"We're going to see Bubby"

Anytime we go to a hospital, which since Noah died, has been about 4 or 5 times, Ava thinks we are going to see her Bubby. We, of course, explain to her that Bubby is still with Jesus in heaven and then proceed to tell her why we are going to the hospital and who we are going to actually see. I think it is sweet that she gets excited to see her Bubby. In her little mind, that is all she knows of her sibling, was the hospital. She doesn't understand getting to take a baby home, or having a sibling to play with, having to share toys(at home), or mommy's attention. She is obsessed with babies right now though. She has a baby doll named Bubby. She loves to get Noah's blanket off my bed and use it for her babies, during her nap, sometimes she gives it to me and says, "Bubby's blanket, he was a sweet sweet baby". etc. She knows all she needs to know for a 2 and a half year old. She is so smart and sensitive. Ava knows when mommy is sad and will crawl up in my lap, hug me and say, "it's ok mommy. I love you. You miss Bubby?" She loves deeply. She is aware. I wonder how this process will look as she gets older, but I hope that she will always look back at each step of her becoming more aware of her Bubby and the impact he had on us all, with pride. I pray that she will always know that she is a huge part of Bubby's story, that she is a huge part of Mommy's healing and that she is the apple of Daddy's eye, the one who can always make us smile, surprise us with her sayings, frustrate us with her (mommy's) attitude. haha. She is our sunshine and as she likes to say, "I'm mommy's sunshine and daddy's moon". :) She brightens up our life and I know God gave us to her first for many reasons. She gives me so much to live for everyday. She pushes me to be better, to extend and teach grace, to love, to laugh, to stop and play, to soak up life. She is such a joy and I'm beyond grateful for her role in our family.
brand new ava
going home

Mommy & Ava's 2 week adventure before Bubby came
 Ava had to grow up so much when this journey started and as I watched her go through the process, as we all did, she just amazed me at every point. I cannot tell you how much she adapted under such crazy circumstances. She started the journey as a baby and has grown into quite the little, sassy, spontanious and goofy little girl. She truly is our, "amazing Ava" as Tpaw coined.
Driving to Ft. Worth to start the journey

Big sister day!

The only way she would get in the big bed with mommy
Ava would not get in my hospital bed with me unless there was a popsicle involved, so I totally bribed her. She did amazing on Bubby's birthday! She was well behaved, she did so great with it all and made mommy so proud.
meeting Bubby for the "second" time
During the entire week I was in the hospital, she was so sweet for her Mimi and Pop and everyone she was around. Her grandma, papaw, etc. She ate great, played well and gave mommy plenty of snuggles and kisses.  I remember wondering how I was going to split myself in two so I could be with both babies. I couldn't be at home, with my newborn and my eldest, doing all the normal things, snuggling, letting her hold him on a pillow, etc. It was hard for me to not be with both of my babies at once. She always

kept me smiling. Through everything, she made it better. I cannot imagine going through it all without her. I am certain that God knew we would need her gorgeous eyes, silly smile, funny laugh and constant energy. God knew I would need her snuggles, kisses and hugs to keep going. I just know that God has huge plans for her in every season of life. She certainly has shown us that from the day she was born.
waiting room fun (always in a waiting room)

RMH breakfast

footy jammies at RMH

Pop & Ava spent lots of time on the slide
I cried every Sunday afternoon that she and Nick and sometimes mom and dad would leave. I just knew she would forget me or come back to ft worth and be scared of me or something. Silly I know, but I truly worried that she would fall behind developmentally as she traveled all the time, had no schedule, was with different people all the time, eating randomly, napping in waiting rooms, etc. As a mom, I was so strung out on not being there and not being with Noah at the same time, but every time, she would just impress me and show me some new thing she learned or wow me beyond my expectations.

brushing her teeth like a big girl

Playing on the Cook's playground
playing with Daddy
Ava loved the playground and the "cove" at the hospital. She would play for hours and it was so nice to have something for her to do during all the downtime when she could not be in Bubby.  I am just still, so thankful for all she learned and experienced during Bubby's life.

Skyping with Mommy 

Mommy & her babies

                                                                                                         Sometimes Ava gets                                                                                                            pushed to the side 
                   when it comes to the story 
                     of Bubby and I felt like it 
                          was time that I showcased 
                            her and her amazing 
                            journey as Big Sister.  
visiting her bubby

Ava's first plane ride

waiting room nap (again)

Bubby's valentine from Sissy

Valentine's Day with Mommy

Snow cones with cousins on Bubby's Memorial Day

First family photo
Last Family photo of 4

More hospital fun
another waiting room nap

 Ava has been and still is Mommy's Sunshine. There are weeks like this one, where I do not want to raise another child. I do not want to have sleepless nights, potty train again, etc. Lord knows what he is doing and what he has planned for us, but I learned from Noah that I must be surrendered to His plan and not count on my own. The frustrating days are deeply frustrating, but the amazing days are more than incredible and remind me that our toughest days are always worth it. Ava has been and will continue to be our sweet girl and we are so thankful that we get to watch her grow, develope and learn. The other day I looked in the mirror in the car and saw her worshiping. She had her eyes closed, hands raised and was moving her head back and forth and singing along to "Forever Reign"... She's smart, she's aware, she is amazing. I realized that without her Bubby and his story, she might not have such a deep knowledge of Jesus as she does. I'm thankful for that.
Meeting Bubby and Nurse Kathy gave her a "magic wand"
Sometimes I miss hospital life. I do. I didn't struggle to realize the worth of my family. It was made aware daily. I didn't forget how precious my friends were, I was always desperate for them. I am thankful for the life lessons we learned, the life we shared and lived, the love we grew and the way we got to watch Ava grow and learn while Bubby was alive.
I'm thankful for nurse Kathy, who informed us and made us aware that Ava could come into the PICU and meet her brother. We didn't realize it until she let us know, because we were used to the NICU rules. Without Kathy, we might not have our first family pics or have the sweet moment of Ava seeing her bubby for the first time. Thankful for the nurses that would always go out of their way to make Ava feel at home and loved on at Cook's.
Bad days come and go, often, but Ava always makes even the worst day bearable with her love and her smile. She is my precious girl and I will forever and always be thankful.

LOVE you Ava! Mommy and Daddy are so thankful for you and your part of our story.

Blessings to all,
Noah's Mommy

The W's

Friday, November 1, 2013

My Favorite Month

I love November. I love Thanksgiving. So many people have their favorite holidays. Usually you find that Christmas and Halloween are up there, followed by 4th of July and maybe even Easter. Thanksgiving has been almost run over by Black Friday, now starting on Thanksgiving evening/afternoon. Seriously? We can't have 1 day out 365 that we aren't focused on buying something, trampling over each other and can't just play a game or be still and watch a movie, maybe visit with family until whenever the shopping fools get up and go do whatever they do. ha. I just have no desire to ever do Black Friday. There IS a reason they call it black, right? Anyway, I just love thanksgiving. We come together, make a bounty of food and enjoy it as well as fellowship with closest family and friends and then rest. We watch football or take naps, sometimes at the same time, play games, catch up with the cousins, lounge in the recliner and read a book, and then go back for seconds and another piece of pumpkin pie. Maybe it seems gluttonous to some, but maybe it is an actual holiday where we aren't focused on GETTING anything. We don't stress and run around trying to find something to get someone with the little budget we have for them or going into debt trying to impress. We aren't disappointed if we only got a scarf and not some expensive gadget or wad of cash. We simply get together, to be together. Hopefully we all find ways to express our thankfulness for what WE ALREADY HAVE, not what WE WANT TO GET.

I have fond memories of thanksgiving. We had so many houses to go to because our families live here that we were always hopping from house to house, but each side has things I vividly remember. My mimi was an absolute wonder in the kitchen. She would make her list, shop, (three different stores, for the best deals) plan ahead by cooking certain things ahead, preparing other things the night before and then had a written schedule with times on it for when certain things went in the oven and when other things came out, when to set the table, what napkins to use and one year she made little place card sail boats out of pecan shells and toothpicks, with little white flag name cards. We used those for years. The family would squeeze at the table and pass around every dish, stuff our faces and visit, laugh and just be together. I know she relished those times and soaked every moment up.
My radiant Mimi (and pumpkin pie)
Mimi knew how to live richly. She made every holiday and every Friday night fried chicken dinner, every Sunday roast lunch, every half a grapefruit breakfast and a whole wheat bagel with coffee in the morning, matter. She just loved life. She rarely complained and Thanksgiving was her crown and glory. :) Christmas was a close second, but I just saw her glow and then an hour or so after the big dinner, she would get a piece of pecan pie, a little dollop of cool whip and savor each bite of that pie like she earned it. and she did.

The Byrd side ALWAYS has cheese grits (homemade by aunt linda), pink fruit salad (by gran), a kids table and a grown up table, cousin time, playing spy at the old house upstairs, group pictures, using the pretty dishes (even as kids we got to use neat dishes), green bean casserole and the pickle tray. I always ended up getting a bread and butter pickle on accident and had to sneak it to the trash. eew. Football naps and reading books are where you will find the Byrd/Goodell & now Weisgerber and Whitfield men after the meal. Most likely you will find all the Byrd girls around the table laughing and remembering old times, catching up each other on current events and just enjoying being together. When we were little, I can remember enjoying and sometimes getting wounded in a battle of spoons. :)

Thanksgiving is a nice long day of comfort all around.

Mimi's recipes in my kitchen. 
I got to where I was old enough to help with Thanksgiving cooking and so I learned to make Mimi's crescent rolls. Staci began making pies when Mimi couldn't quite muster the energy to do it anymore. Mom would make a small turkey and I would make Mimi's dressing. Not stuffing. Dressing. :)  We made things as close to how they were, but they weren't exact. That was ok though. Byrd Thanksgiving is still the same, sometimes with an empty seat, because we are all strung out about the state/country. Times change. This time last year I thought we would be home by Thanksgiving, but we weren't. In a few days, it will be a year since Noah had his 2nd open heart surgery to get his pace maker placed. I just sat in his cubicle knowing we wouldn't make it home for thanksgiving. Crushed you might say. God was working on me. I was feeling selfish and having a pity party that we wouldn't get to be home, around family, with our traditions and usual events. I was frustrated to say the least. I was so weary of the hospital, the lonely weeks, the fast weekends. Our sweet family in Ft Worth, of course, hosted Thanksgiving and we were welcome to be there and were thankful to as well. I wanted to be a part of it and so I thought I would make crescent rolls. I got up early and started the dough, let is rise, etc. It wasn't working out right. It was stiff and just not like it was supposed to be. I was frustrated, again. I gave up. I was going to throw the dough in the trash and send nick to walmart to get Mrs. Baird's brown and serve rolls (which are good by the way), and then go sit and pout the rest of the day about the failed attempt. My dressing turned out good. The rolls were to be my one thing from home that would make the tradition stay alive, since mimi wasn't. The first thanksgiving after Mimi passed away and I just could not go without crescent rolls. (i know, a lot of whining over bread) It was more than the bread though. It was the memories, the traditions, the feeling of abandonment from the Father, that Mimi wasn't here anymore, we were stuck in a town we didn't really know, our son was STILL sick, nothing was right, no one was in the right place, and God didn't seem to care. That was my heart. That was why I went in the bedroom and cried. I just cried and pouted. I showered, got ready to go throw the dough away and then talked to my mom. I remembered that mimi was an improviser. I thought, well, I will do what I can with the dough and see what happens. I rolled out the dough, cut rolls out and put them on a pan. I let them rise a little, as much as they would, and then put them in the oven. They were gone in about 15 minutes, once lunch began. I suppose they weren't too bad. They weren't actually crescent rolls. They were just plain ol rolls. They were a little dense and nothing like mimi's really, except that they were there, the dough wasn't sitting in the trash defeated. So, I was thankful for another Mimi lesson that day and soaked up the rest of the day with family, tried to enjoy taking turns going into Noah's room. (mom and dad stayed up there all day with him, so Ava could have some mommy and daddy time at a home, not the hospital) It was an interesting day, but we also go to spend time with family we never get to, we were made fully aware of how blessed we were, even in the middle of such hardship and hurt. Noah was in recovery mode still, during the weekend, but a few days before we had thanksgiving, I had been able to hold him for the first time, he had been taken off the ventilator for the first time(after 51 days) and he got to meet his uncle keith, see his grandma and mamaw and made some big Thanksgiving memories.  God always gives us something to be thankful for. always.
holding Noah a second time 

So, here we are. One year later. I look into November and remember making a thankful poster for Noah's room, instead of our thankful tree we always do. I remember fighting so hard to keep an attitude of thankfulness and gratitude even when I wanted to cry and whine every day. Somethings never change. I want to sit and cry and whine some days, that Noah isn't even here now. He doesn't get to be passed around at family gatherings, he won't know the taste of mommy's childhood thanksgivings, the joy it brings me to get up and watch the parade while making the dishes we bring to the family gatherings. I just wish that he could be a part of our lives in the tangible ways my heart wants. I know I know, he might not have even been able to be in crowds of family, enjoying life at all, depending on how severe his needs for oxygen were or how he felt on a daily basis, the issue of cold and flu season. I know, he is in a completely better place, in a way that I don't even understand yet. I know. I'm thankful. I don't need to be reminded that he is healed now. :) I know full well.

day before his pacemaker surgery
I'm thankful. November is a time to be thankful. For EVERYTHING, not just the things we like, the good things that make our life complete, but the things in our life that sometimes suck the life out of us. I'm not saying be thankful for things that are wrong, sinful or should be eliminated from our lives. Those things need to be repented of and dealt with. I 'm talking about being thankful for the things that seem inconvenient at the time, the things that are just not how we like them. Be thankful that you drive a 2000 model that runs well and doesn't require car payments, instead of whining about how you wish you had a newer one. Be thankful that your children leave messes, have a dirty room, maybe even drive you crazy, because you get to hug them, love on them, tuck them in at night and have them in your arms. Be thankful because some moms have sons and daughters over seas serving our country and their safety is in danger every minute of every day. Be thankful to have your husband or wife home with you because some people have been left in a position they never thought they would find themselves in this Thanksgiving, alone perhaps. Whether it is distance or severance, people will be lonely this holiday. Someone, somewhere is thinking of a loved one who passed recently or maybe a long time ago. A man or woman is sitting in a prison cell, truly repentful and seeking the Lord and misses his family. Another prisoner might be sitting in the cold concrete room angry at the world and wanting to give up on life at all. The holiday season isn't about YOU. I have come to realize that it isn't about thankful trees, pecan pies or crescent rolls but about a Savior and the life we have available to us because of that Savior. Do what you do, at each holiday, in light of that. Don't focus so much on the traditions and the must haves that we miss out on the could be's and the means for service, thankfulness, and love. (to others, not just ourselves)

one of very few family of 4 pictures. Thankful.

Today, Ava and I will start our thankful tree. I want to instill in her traditions and past times that she can look back on and smile upon or even carry on to her kids someday, but we will be adding some new things this year as well. Noah made us a better family. He MAKES us a better family. He is and forever will be our boy, even if he just made it home quicker than we did. So, we will continue to live thankfully and share our thankful hearts, the reason we can be thankful in such heartache, with others.
Find a way to show your thankfulness besides getting up at midnight on Black Friday and squishing people to buy an xbox or some big tv. Maybe think of something outside the "box" and let gratitude become expressed tangibly. There are plenty of people that need your love. They need your thankfulness to show, so they can catch some of the hope you have.

I know I feel challenged today.

May November continue to be my favorite, not just because of all the yummy traditions and super fun activities, but because in 2012 a little boy reminded me that life isn't about traditions but about the One who made a way. Made a way for Noah to be in heaven. Made a way that I can be there too, someday.

Anyone want to join in? Make November a month to remember, by finding ways to love and serve. (someone other than yourself) I know that focusing on the good will not always make it easier for me during the holidays, serving others doesn't always take the sting of the loss away. Missing Noah is an everyday occurrence, not just a holiday thing, but Mimi reminded me of "making the best of" any situation, even after she went home, and before Noah joined her. So, I WILL  make the BEST of this month, this holiday coming up, the pain I deal with so often, it all becomes a part of the journey and the journey is a good one.

Thanks as always, for riding this road with us, for the support and love we receive from each of you.
Be blessed this thankful season,

Noah's mommy