Tuesday, November 17, 2015


** disclaimer- I used our new iPad keyboard tonight and noticed later that there were multiple typos. So sorry**

There have been a number of instances in Nick and I's marriage where I had to step back and go, "woooow" (for good and for bad haha)
There have been monumental moments in our life together that stick out to me because of how he either rose to the occasion or just didn't compromise. I can think of early on when there were some job changes that required him having 2 jobs to make the money he was making at 1 job, so he worked 12 hour plus days. There was a time 6 years ago when he decided to quit smoking and we ended up buying a house that year. There was a time when he became a dad. He kept asking if I was ok if he went with ava to the NICU because he knew he needed to be with her, but was making sure I was ok during it all as well. 
Then, there was Noah. 

I'll never forget sitting in the room with him when the dr at Texas Tech had to tell us the diagnosis that Noah had. We had only just found out we were pregnant and that we were having a son. Then, to top it off, we were having a son with major medical issues, ones that were not always survivable. 

He. Was. My. Rock.
He drove me home and for the next 24 hours he let me be and feel all I needed to. He let me yell, cry, question, cry some more, lay in the fetal position in bed, cry some more, question God, blame myself(he did fight me on that), be upset, be scared and be numb. He allowed me to grieve from day 1. The entire journey we walked with Noah was one that forced us to dig DEEP into our marriage commitment.

 Our pastor and friend, Robbie Ashlock preached this last weekend on a very necessary subject. When the bottom falls out of life and you are at a point where you trust God and get a grip. There was a moment when he was describing a time in his and his wife's marriage during the  illness and then death of her father and he said, "during all the drives back and forth from OKC, through all praying for him and going through it all we were solidifying our commitment to Christ as a couple." OK, I probably messed that up a lot, but out of the entire sermon I was stopped in my tracks by that statement. During the times the bottom falls out, we must, in our marriage especially, solidify our commitment with our spouse and Christ. We verbally confirm our faith in Christ, reminding each other when the other is at a low point that God has got us in his hands and in his plan. 
That is what I remember most about Ft. Worth and Nick. Nick never waivered in his faith. I'm sure there were monents when he was home alone, being a single father to Ava, doing all the nightly baths and bedtime routine, making sure Ava had someone to care for her during the day, him working daily at his regular job so we could pay the bills, traveling every weekend to see me and Noah. Oh, I'm sure there were nights when he questioned and struggled with the Lord over the whys and what nexts.. but when he was with me, he was strong, always honest and real, but strong. Every surgery, every procedure, every update, every teary phone call from me, every random text during the day, he was fully invested in being my support system. He sacraficed time with his son, to provide for the family as a whole and to take care of the other child we have. He was limited on the amount of time he could spend in Ft Worth and yet he made every second of each trip count for both Noah and I. He was fully present for all of us during that time. Even the day Noah died, he was strong as I could have imagined him to be for us. He was raw and undone at the thought of losing our son, but he was strong, courageos and firmly gripped to the rope as well as to me as we watched the bottom fall out of our life that day. He walked me through my nerves as I was so scared that Noah would die in my arms. He assured me that it would be ok and that I was strong enough to endure it. He held Noah first, in the operating room the day he was born and mommy would hold him as he went to heaven. He let us stay as long as I needed once our nurse got Noah cleaned and dressed. Yet, he knew we couldn't linger forever or it would just get harder and harder to leave at all. He held me as I crumpled to the ground once I had to hand noah over. He walked me to the Ronald McDonald House room, he held me til I fell asleep, he drove us home to Amarillo that next day, all while maintaining an honest emotion, but in so much mighty strength. I know that Noah got so much of his mighty strength and peace from his daddy. 

I write all of this, one because I am very pregnant with our 3rd child and I am very reflective right now and two, because Nick continues to grow into the role of husband and father every year and every season. We both grow. We have both adjusted to life and dealth with the roller coaster that grief brings a family. We have learned to grow with each other through our ups and downs since he died. Nick continued to show his strength when I couldn't function. The days I was so low and he would let me be low. The days I was super hyper to keep myself occupied, he would go along with it and do whatever random project or thing I needed haha. There were times when I was an absolute pain to be around and he would wait it out. I could go on and on of all the things I remember about Nick's journey, but you get the point. 
We aren't perfect by any means. Nick and I have our general and usual arguments and disagreements, we aren't perfect parents and frustrate each other at times. We have our personal faults and we have our issues we still deal with on a regular basis. 

Life happens and we go through terribly hard times for reasons that sometimes we don't understand. I know at the time I wasn't thinking, "our son is so sick, but it will all be ok because it will make Nick a better husband and father". Ya know? We were going through so much darkness and hardship, but we didn't know all the growth that would come from it until AFTER, it all happened. You could be stuck in a huge rut spiritually, but if I told you that in a matter of months, you would look back and see that you were really growing?

I have found that I have grown, myself, over the years. I am thankful for the ways I have learned to repsond to situations, not just react. I am realizing that not all things are so serious or hard, but that things will always work out and trusting isn't easy, but worrying isn't trusting. I have allowed the grief road to shape me in ways I didn't know I needed change in. I am more aware, more intentional, less stressed and more focused. I still struggle with age old things, because I am very human haha, but I am not obsessed with how people think of me or if I'm pleasing everyone all the time. I struggle with it, but I'm learning to let it go. I've learned that people expect things of me that I can't nor will I ever measure up to and I have to give myself grace to not always please people. 

Grief can either keep you in a hole or it can push you to new heights. 
I look back and see how incredibly blessed I am to be married to the caliber of man I am married to. I am grateful for the grace and mercy given to me as I have walked this journey. 
I look ahead and in 33 days we will have a new little girl in our family. Right now she is still this "idea" almost. I have dreamed of this coming season since Noah died. I remember having this little girl's name picked out not long after we burried Noah.  God is faithful. He is able. He sees the whole picture and walks us through the refining fires. 
The choice to grow is a daily one. The choice to quit asking why is a hard one. The choice to move forward and become the best you, you can be, is something you'll never regret. 


Thursday, July 16, 2015

I Don't Want To Give My Kids The World

At 11,000 ft above sea level, one can "see" everything better. Nick, Ava and I took the ski lift up to the very top of the mountain at Angel Fire last weekend. We got off the lift and proceeded to walk about a 1/2 mile to a small private lake, called Summit Lake. It was quaint. We got there, (after walking uphill at such a high elevation) and sat on the "shore". It was like all of a sudden, life stopped, but in a good way. There was no place to be, no schedule, no noise. Nick and Ava decided to go "exploring" so I stayed behind and my pregnant self sat there in some shade and just let life be still for a minute. I'm so terrible about letting life stop for a minute. In the capacity that we work, serve and participate, I just don't. It's not good to let life continue constantly without ever stopping to just be. The reality is that, between our jobs, trying to maintain as many nights a week at home together, worship ministry, Kairos ministry, etc... being still for longer than an hour or so at a time, in a place not our home can be nearly impossible. I am thankful for the time we had, even if it was just a day away, to get some fresh air, be together and to not have lots of things to do. Even the car ride was nice because we could have uninterrupted conversation and laughing together.

I'm not sure when I started thinking that a busy life was a full life. I know that when we got home from Ft. Worth I got really busy to fill in some of the gaps I felt I were made when I was away from home and "normal life" for almost 6 months. I realized later that I was trying to "feel better" by being busy and that wasn't healthy or the right answer. I have always enjoyed simple things, but I have also had this struggle to always have a plan of action, something to do, somewhere to be and lately I've just sickened myself with how much ministry(not just one certain church, but as a whole in our life), get-to-gethers, ("fellowship" as we call it), running errands, service projects, fundraisers, ball games, extra curricular events, etc. It just all piles and piles and suddenly a year has gone by and we haven't even taken the time to breathe, let alone, listen to our children, spend time with our spouse or truly enjoy some quiet.

I'm not saying we should stop going to church (trust me, that's the last thing I'm saying). I am not saying we should stop serving (by any means), the times our family serves together are precious and they are full of learning, gospel and they lay a foundation for our children that is undeniably secure. Yet, we do fill our weeks with so many things that I have been reluctant to even have Ava signed up for anything "extra" without being very careful about how much time it will take to commit her to that activity. We have had to say no to some fun events and some "fellowship".

It says in 1 Timothy about leading a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified; this is good and pleasing in the sight of God our Savior who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 
Seems to me that if we weren't so busy with "stuff", but we were leading a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified that we would be pleasing to the Lord and through that lifestyle (that people would and will question incessantly) we could bring people to the Lord. THAT IS CONVICTING.
Right now, is our family life showing the peace of Christ or are we showing the world, well, the world? The Christian life is not one without stress or conflict, hard times or struggle, by any means. Yet, how much of our life are we willingly letting become overwhelming and stressful at the cost of our children's childhoods, our sanity and ultimately the time we HAVE with our families.
I've just felt so convicted and since God has been pouring into me to try to write weekly on issues I am learning, wanting to discuss, share with you, this was what I have been struggling with this whole week.

Why are we so busy? What can we do about it? How can we live the peaceful and simple life God is asking us to
(I didn't say boring, unadventurous, bland)? He doesn't want us to be boring, but he wants us to have PEACE. When did you go to bed and not lay there going through lists in your mind about what all is going on the next day? When will we decide to quit overcommitting our children to things that are so temporary? When will we decide that serving, ministry and fellowship are all GOOD things but they don't have to dominate our schedule? I know I don't actually understand this right? I only have a 4 yr old that isn't even in an extra curricular activity yet. I know, I just don't understand. Do I? Here is the thing. I want to create a plan and a foundation for our home while my kids are little so that we won't have to re-learn or back track later into some new lifestyle that doesn't make sense after years of pushing the envelope. I want to challenge Nick and myself to be picky about what we commit to, what our children commit to and how much we extend ourselves. Church will always be a priority to our family, 1 other ministry outside of church will be high on the list, 1 activity at a time for our children is totally acceptable and seeing how they get interested in things such as music, etc. We will evaluate as they grow. Deciding to say no to an event or a get-together is ok and also planning to attend and being a part of those things are healthy and awesome for our family.

My heart: may we not lose sight of the goal of the family by being a busy group of people who happen to live together. Nick and I have 18 years to mold, shape and develop our children into adults who will then go out and be the followers of Christ and model citizens God has asked us to raise them as. Will lots of activities and mindless busy-ness make that happen? I don't think so. I think intentional involvement in Biblical learning, growing with other Christians, serving the least of these, being intentional about teaching our children the value of hard work, service, sacrificial giving, etc. are all the goal. I don't want Ava to know 3 instruments, take voice lessons, play basketball, golf for fun and be in every club at school just so she'll go off to college and then me "be shocked" that she doesn't find a church home, leaves her faith all together and begins to make foolish choices because she is FREE. Lord help me if I spend the next 14 years making her busy and not feeding her spirit.

God, may we cherish our children and may we feed their souls, nurture their minds, teach them your ways, give them grace all while disciplining according to your word and truth SO THAT they can be vessels for your love and gospel WHEREVER they go.

I want to give the world to Ava (I thought). No, I want to GIVE HER JESUS. I want to give her a life that IS FULL of HIS WORD, HIS LOVE, HIS SPIRIT, HIS WAYS. I want her to love Jesus and love her life with him, not resent the church, her parents or feel like she can escape when she is out from under us.

Let us slow down the pace. Let us take TIME to teach. May we enjoy the quiet sometimes. May we make the efforts to get out of our 8-5 routine and show our children God's world, let's give our kids the opportunity to serve, minister, sacrifice and grow through sharing GOd's love and his gospel everywhere we find ourselves.

Be convicted (alongside me) but be encouraged that FRUIT will come from our efforts and we will never regret making the hard decisions.


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Answering Honestly

"Momma?", she asked. "Will we get to bring our new baby home?"

... Mustering up the faith and confidence to tell her to not worry, but obviously not knowing the true answer to that, I said, "oh I believe we will, sweetie. We have been praying for this baby, you have been praying for this baby and we trust that God is going to let us bring him/her home and enjoy him/her forever and ever. No matter what, we will just trust him with this new baby."

I didn't lie. I just can't lie to my daughter. We have been open and clear with her about death and why Bubby isn't here with us, where he is and how we can be with him some day. She has been so sweet to ask questions and process the answers. We have obviously been careful and sensitive to her, but we have not lied. So, when she asked me if we would be taking home our new baby, I could not just out of the blue tell her, "YES of course!". Do I truly know that yet? Of course I don't.

That is part of the journey that I have been on since finding out I was pregnant in March. I don't truly know that this baby will be perfectly healthy, come home, live a great life, etc etc. That's the gamble. I don't even know that for my 4 year old. It was made known to me again last week, though the death of a young man in our church, that at 28 life can be finished on earth. There are no guarantees when it comes to our life, except that it will end.

Pregnancy after child loss has had its ups and downs, just as any pregnancy. I definitely get asked the  questions...
"so, are you considered high risk this time?"
"what are the odds that you could have another with a heart defect again?"

Well, I'm not considered high risk because at this time there is nothing to be at high risk about. I am doing well in my pregnancy. Vitals and all labs have been perfect and so each dr appointment we evaluate and go from there. We will have 1 thing done that a "usual" pregnancy wouldn't and that is an extra fetal echo done on the heart in Ft. Worth, so that we can be sure about this baby's heart/function/ etc. Our gender/organ sonogram is at the end of this month and so we will be checking for 4 chambers during that sono as well as finding out if we are having a boy or girl. Ava is certain she is getting a sister. :) We'll see.

So, how do we approach the hard questions and the hard conversations with our littles when it comes to loss and how do we also keep ourselves from over stressing, worrying and trying to control things we can't? How can we really put our faith and trust into action in our daily life?

Some of the things I have learned about this in light of experiencing the death of a child are this:

-it will be ok. (it really will. Noah dying was terrible and you know what? Our family is ok, we are thriving in our new season, we always miss him, but we are ok. Noah is ok. Life is ok.)

-pray. (I find that if I pray first, instead of over thinking, talking to someone else, or try to figure out every detail, I approach the entire situation more clearly and with more strength) That seems like common sense, but really think about how we react to situations and generally we do not pray first.

-think simply. (Do not try to figure out every detail at one time. What can you take care of or answer immediately? What can you ask for help with? What can be set aside? All of these things can work you through the problem at a simple pace instead of overthinking, stressing and in the end, not even asking God for help)

-seek Godly counsel. (there are so many resources for every hard situation and you can generally find them easily. I suggest your church pastor/pastor's wife, Life Group/Community Group leader, and there are some amazing parenting/loss/grief counselors, groups and support online as well.

I suppose I could have told Ava, "yes we are certainly bringing home this baby and all will be perfect!" I could have told her, "I'm not sure Ava, God sure didn't come through on that with Bubby did he?" I could have easily just avoided the subject at all. I truly believe that if we take the time, every time, to honestly, simply and appropriately discuss hard things with our kids, we will grow our bonds deeper, their faith will plunge into deeper places and create roots of foundational faith that will not shake later in life. We create a trust that they know we aren't joking around, messing with their minds or giving them the easy answer to shut them up.

When Ava has hard questions I want to find the best way to be Biblically true, honest and yet sensitive to her age, feelings and emotions. In the same way, when I come to hard times/questions, I want to approach God with honesty, willingness to listen, seeking the truth in His word, and then acceptance that he is wise, he is good and he knows. We cannot be the models of faith to our children if we are not truly putting our faith into action. We must be mindful of how we respond, not react, to life situations. (trust me, this is a work in progress here for me)

I hope you're encouraged to be honest and gentle with your kids as issues come up. I also hope that no matter what you've gone through or are going through now, you can truly trust the Lord. We can talk about God all day long, but our kids will remember what they SEE us doing WITH our faith.

Noah's mommy (and Ava and #3)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


Maybe you saw my husband's post yesterday.
A drawing for ALL 3 of my babies ;) 

I have been hesitant to post anything about our "news", but Nick knew just how to do it and did it so well. :) This is why we make a good team. He doesn't need many words to get across his point, but I do.
See, with that one picture comes many emotions and memories, many people that need to be thanked and so much thanksgiving, humbling and gratitude.

Ava was our emergency c-section, crazy experience of a first child. I am thankful she is here, healthy and growing so beautifully. She could have had a worse experience, had complications more than respiratory help, etc. But, she is well. We are thankful. She is our joy and our laughter. She has taught us so much and we are so thankful for her.

Noah, well, just read this entire blog's worth of posts and you'll know why he is our special middle child. His legacy is beyond what I will ever know. I tend to be wrecked by the power of his story, his little life, his testimony, his journey, his purpose. My son will always be my hero. I'm thankful for ALL we learned and ALL we gained by having him in our life.

#3- he or she is my little buddy that I am savoring. I think that is why I was hesitant to share him/her with the world just yet, because I didn't get this early pregnancy time with Noah and it is all a blur with Ava. She was our first, things were crazy and amazing, new and somewhat scary. Noah we did not find out about our pregnancy until later into the pregnancy and so I missed out on the beginning. This little one growing inside of me is my little person, in which I'm savoring every second of carrying. I am exhausted. All. The. Time. It's perfectly ok too.

I cannot say that I ever thought I would mother 3 children. I just figured we would have 2. When Noah was born I knew we would not be able to really try again, knowing we had a lifetime of craziness ahead with a heart baby. Maybe God would have shown me otherwise, but in my heart, I was set on 2 and that would be a blessing. When Noah died, I wasn't sure if we would have another one even still. Having another baby wasn't going to fix the fact that I had to give my baby back so soon. Another baby was not the answer to my grief and sadness. I kept my heart open though and as Nick and I walked through grief together we often talked about the time and season when we would be ready to take a chance.

Healing is an interesting thing. Healing leaves scars. I have a killer scar from my c-sections. My emergency experience made way for me to have a vertical scar. It is scary looking. Some may say I have a front butt... I know, bad mental picture. It is not pretty. It hurt both times. It took time to heal. Once it was stapled, once it was nicely stitched and glued. I can't go a single day without seeing it, thinking about it or sometimes wishing it wasn't there... but in reality, it has made me who I am today. That scar is a battle wound, a reminder that GOD IS FAITHFUL. He heals, he restores, he GIVES GOOD GIFTS THROUGH HARD CIRCUMSTANCES. Interestingly enough, that scar will be opened again. I see this journey ahead of me as I help to bring a new life into the world, that the emotional and spiritual scars will reopen during this season too and it will hurt, it will be uncomfortable, but it will be a reminder, it will teach me and it will assure me that GOD IS FAITHFUL and that HE GIVES GOOD GIFTS.

Healing doesn't create a perfect world after hardship, it doesn't make it all better or fix it to exactly how it was before. My scar has "healed" twice. There is an aftermath to the healing. It isn't pretty, it isn't how it was before the surgeries, it is even going to be opened again and have to re-heal. Does that even make sense? Our healing goes through seasons as well and sometimes things are reopened. Sometimes healing looks ugly. Healing isn't easy. Healing takes time. Healing takes effort on our part though, to do what is necessary to get there. If I did not take care of myself during the healing times post surgery, I could have complications.

What complications are you dealing with because you won't take care of yourself in the healing process??? We must allow healing to take place or infection can take hold, unnecessary pain can be added to the mix. How are you hindering your healing? Healing takes time and we all know that, but it can cease to happen if we don't let it. 

So, in this new season I am humbled. I'm not sure why God allowed me to have another shot at motherhood. I'm not sure if I'll ever be ready again for long nights and all the firsts. But, I know he knows. I know I was never ready to have a child with a heart defect. I was never in my life ready to hold my baby while he died. But, God knew. He knows what we need and why. He especially knows when.
I'm grateful and humbled by all the well wishes, prayers and excited hearts that are joining us on this next journey. I am thrilled to think about all the amazing relationships and friendship we have at this time in our life who will make such a mark on our family and new addition's life. Our new little one is going to be born into a family who now knows more than ever how precious life is, how special and fragile it is. He or she will be born into a family who is humbled, simplified, and intentional. He or she will be born into a family of believers who already love, pray for and cherish him/her. My cup overflows with gratitude for the gift of life this is.

There are hard parts to this though. What ifs can creep up. I'm praying through them and asking God with all that I am that this child is perfect and healthy. What an amazing thing to be able to hold my child they day they are born, even minutes after they are born?? What does that look like? How does that work? Will we take this child home? Will we get to watch him or her grow and develop like we have Ava? God knows. He always has. He has a plan. He has a purpose. Right now, my only job is to carry, love and pray for this little life. I can handle that. I don't have to plan out a thing, know the outcome or worry about it either way. I can savor, enjoy and hold onto every day I get this little one to myself.

Again, I cannot tell you how humbled and grateful we are to each of you for your words of encouragement, love, excitement, prayers and joy! You all have walked with us through the darkest moments of our life and now we get to walk through some joyous times! What answers to prayer are taking place even in this time!
Thank you is never (has never been) enough, but we do. We thank you and love you all.

December is going to be an exciting month for the W's.

I'll update you all as we travel this journey.

Ava, Noah and #3's mommy

Habakuk 3:17-19
Though the fig tree should not blossom,
    nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
    and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
    and there be no herd in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
    I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
19 God, the Lord, is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the deer's;
    he makes me tread on my high places.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

It's ok to celebrate Mother's Day...

Ava and Mommy
It's ok to enjoy Mother's Day. If you enjoy it and celebrate it and relish in the good things in your life outside of the death of your child, it is OK. It is ok to look at your other children with wonder and amazement, with thanksgiving and gratitude and it not offend the one who is no longer here. You can be mother to ALL of your children. You can celebrate being a mom if you only carried your baby for 6 weeks before he/she was called to heaven. You could have lost your child later on in their life, but you were left on this earth without them. You could have had a few months or years with your little and life will never be the same. Yet, you can still LIVE, LOVE and REJOICE.

The first mother's day after Noah died I was fragile. It had only been a little over 2 months since he passed and I was still in the trenches of grief. I so longed to hold him still and have him in our life. (I still do, don't get me wrong) That time in my grief journey was tender, raw and it was VERY hard for me to be around other children, other mothers and other people in general. I was very immature in many ways and I would compare, question and argue with God over why certain people got to raise their babies
Noah and Mommy
and I didn't. How did I get chosen to be the one who lost a child? What I have found out through it all, is that more often than I realized, someone has said goodbye to a child sooner than they wished. I try to not say lost so often, because in my reality, I know he is not lost. It is certainly a loss though. So many people in this world have walked through infant loss, child loss, miscarriage... I was not the only mom who was dealing with or had ever dealt with death in this way. It was humbling to realize that the world didn't revolve around my loss, my grief, my hurt. I was expecting people to understand or try to when they had no idea. I would never wish it upon anyone, but I wanted them to understand how privileged they were and blessed they were to have their children living. I was so ungracious. I had to realize that it wasn't my job to make sure the world doesn't take their children for granted as I rubbed in their face that my son was gone. It just wasn't how God was asking me to walk through my grief. I came to that conclusion and it was hard to swallow.
My mom, sister and PawPaw(We miss our Mimi very much) 

 I left family events early that Mother's day 2013. I hid from the crowd of family so I could hide my tears. I didn't want to be a burden, but I just couldn't handle watching everyone enjoy their kids while I missed mine so desperately. No one mentioned him and part of me wished someone would have, but in that same moment, I didn't need a reminder. Grief can be so up and down, so emotionally tormenting that you don't know what you really want, other than to see, hold and raise that child. I'll never understand why I was chosen to be a mom to a heart baby who finished his race at 5 months old. I wasn't meant to understand it. I do know that major events, friends and family gatherings, baby dedications at church, etc were all hard places to be. I am blessed to be surrounded by gracious friends and family who loved me through my hard times, but also reminded me of God's plan and goodness. Find ways to prepare yourself or take yourself out of those equations just to give yourself some peace, but at the same time, each time you take risks and make it a point to grow through hard experiences you gain wisdom and power. Just make sure you have some support!

It is ok to take time to grieve. We all know that the pain will never actually go away. There are times I will still find a piece of Noah's life, our journey and I'll just sit and weep. There are times when I will come across a picture of him in one of the staff's office or even walking in my own hallway at home and his eyes meet mine. There are days when trying to relive our experience is the closest I feel to him. Sometimes being in the middle of worship at church is when I feel closest. Wherever you are in your grief, it is ok to be there. It is ok to struggle with holidays and big events.

What I am learning in my season right now is that it is ok to REJOICE and ENJOY life again as well. I'm not offending or forgetting Noah's life because I am enjoying and relishing in the life we are in now.

I have not lost my mother. I do not understand what it is like to lose a mother. I am thankful I do not know what it is like, but I am very close to a number of women who have and I can say that I see you and I know it is hard to celebrate mother's day when yours is not here. I know it is difficult to watch your own children grow without her here. It must hurt to go through life changes and big new seasons and want to call her on the phone and tell her all about it only to be reminded that she won't pick up. There is something special about mothers and daughters and this message is still for you.

ENJOY MOTHER'S DAY! Celebrate your mother in any way you feel would be best! Maybe you go get a pedicure and just remember her as you relax and take that moment.  Maybe you take flowers to her graveside or just buy yourself a bouquet of flowers in her memory. Put them on your table and enjoy them!

You can celebrate your child in the same way, those of you who have laid to rest, a little one. Take your other children to Chuck E Cheese or the zoo and just talk about and celebrate the little life you miss so much. Buy some balloons and release them to heaven. Make cookies and take them to someone or just sit and enjoy them all together. I truly believe that the last thing to do on Mother's Day is to not do anything at all.

If I can encourage you in any way in this, please email me. There is a link on the top of the blog page. You can message me and I can try to share and encourage you. Give yourself space to have a hard time, but also give yourself permission to enjoy this day, celebrate with joy and live in thanksgiving for all the blessings in the past and present that God has given us!

MaMaw and Sharon (my grandmother in law and mother in law)
Have peace, moms and daughters. Mothers of those who have gone before, I am so sorry you have to go through another year of missing him or her. I wish that none of us had to go through this, but find empowerment, encouragement and joy again by celebrating you as you celebrate them. Pamper yourself a bit, indulge your self some, give yourself some space and ability to enjoy something because you have endured. Honor your child by honoring yourself. It may sound selfish, but I've found that sometimes it is healing. Daughters, enjoy Mother's Day for your mom. Celebrate her, her life, her legacy, her beauty by doing something in honor of her, maybe for yourself, maybe for others, for your family... You're all loved, seen and recognized in this holiday weekend. You are not far from my thoughts. You are close to my heart. If I can support you in some way, please let me know.
Before she was a momma, but she's one of my favorites! 

If you do something in honor of your child or your mother this weekend, share it with me! I would love to see what y'all come up with!

Happy Mother's Day,
Noah's AND Ava's Mommy

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

New Seasonings

     Ava and I were driving across town after school and we were talking about getting her a little pool for the backyard. She was excited and asked "is it still Spring?". I told her yes it was and that we are so glad too! :) She then said, "then after Spring there will be a new seasoning!!" hehe. I giggled and told her she was right. A new season comes after Spring.
I have always loved the visual that new seasons bring to my mind. I love how in reality I am always ready for a new season.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven; 
Ecclesiastes 3:1

God created the seasons that our world experiences throughout the year. The beautiful part about seasons is that not every place in the world experiences the same seasons at the same time. It is Spring here in Texas, but in Australia, Spring won't be starting until September. We are so used to thinking inside  of our own context/little box that we forget the world isn't the same in every place. Seasons create different environments in which things do not thrive and in which things do thrive. Spring, here in the panhandle, is always fun for me as we go from a very bland color palate to a much brighter and vibrant green, blue sky, pops of yellow (thank you dandelions). Spring is such a time that feels so alive and fresh. Winter, for instance, is always a time that I feel like hibernating, being tucked away and recluse like just like the underground seeds/dormant plant life. The cold wind, bare trees and desolate flower beds are somewhat depressing. Yet, all that time inside with people we love, yummy food and rich holidays full of life lessons and a time to reflect and focus make for an awesome season. Life sort of stands still and it is not really the time to plant and watch things grow. I deeply enjoy fall. Fall is refreshing in its own way because after finally burning to a crisp all summer, endless yard work, mowing, late nights, dirty kids, sweat and high electric bills, a coolness in the air begins to calm us and prepare us to get back into a routine. The Fall season brings with it many opportunities to fellowship, be with family, a fresh school year begins, etc. Fall, in my little world, looks different in my home, on my porch, the smells in the kitchen change and the hoodies come out. But, Fall would  not be as awesome if Summer didn't come before. We love Summer. There were 2 summers in the last few years in which I was very pregnant and it was not so fun. Worth it, but not so much a fun time I suppose. Summer is fun with a little kiddo. Swimming, sprinklers, picnics, park trips in the evenings, the sun is out longer, sidewalk chalk, nature walks and sandbox time. We love that our new house has a private backyard with a play set, trampoline and sandbox where Ava can have her own little world to play in. Blessed indeed. Summer brings about BBQs, friend time, family trips, birthdays and anniversaries in our world. Summer is full of late nights, snow cone runs and grilling. 
Each season is so specific in how it affects our home/schedule/moods/activities. Each season is particular and needed. Without the one before we would not appreciate the one coming up, nearly as much. The world needs each season. Our own worlds need each season. 

So it goes in the "seasons of life". Our seasons of life are just as important as the seasons we experience in nature. Our seasons of life come at different times for different people. They are necessary for some at certain times and necessary for others at other times. I may be in a Winter season in my life while someone else is experiencing all the freedom of Summer. When we compare each other and our different seasons of life we shortchange ourselves and create an attitude or an assumption that the "Grass is greener on the other side" but in reality the grass is greener on that other side because it is Spring in their season and Winter in yours. BE WHERE YOU ARE, for THE TIME GOD WANTS YOU TO BE. Remember a few years back with Spring turned into Summer around the end of March and never went back? We had Summer from March 30-Septemeber 1st ish.... It was like we got robbed of the cooler mornings and evenings that April brings, the rain showers and morning dew we so love about that season. We didn't have a choice, but the effects of having a season creep in too soon or one prolonged out can be harsh not  only on crops, yards and flower beds, but when we experience things "out of order" we feel like, it can be a harsh reality. 

"Since his days are determined, The number of his months is with You; And his limits You have set so that he cannot pass." Job 14:5

God is right on time and has every season planned out and timed the way he wants. Our days are determined and numbered rightly and when we try to shorten or lengthen the seasons he has placed us in we do not trust him. We get ourselves into trouble when we take our seasons in life into our own hands. Relationships fail, jobs end, friendships break because we cannot be submitted under God's plan and his perfect security. Uh oh, Submit. Ya, I wrote that. Submission is a nasty word to so many people, but in the context of God, his plan, his will, his way and his hands... submission means obedience. Be obedient in the season God has you in and he will always make the seasons change right on time. 
I've never seen an oak tree uproot, move south and then come back after winter. IT STAYS ROOTED AND PLANTED even and especially during the winter months, only to blossom in its proper time. It doesn't run for cover or escape the harsh reality. It endures, submitted under the creator's authority for such a time. The tree isn't naive or immature by staying planted during the winter. We don't make fun of, criticize or mock the tree for staying put during the cold months. We certainly are glad they are there when spring and summer hit and they provide the shade we desperately want/need. Be rooted and planted for the time he wants you to be so that when the next season comes you are ready to produce new life, fruit and shade for others. 

When Ava said, "new seasoning" it got me thinking. New seasons are full of new flavors. I love grilled veggies, snow cones and homemade ice-cream in the summer. I can't wait for pumpkin bread and spiced cider in the fall. Winter screams hot coffee, potato soup and beans/cornbread. Spring means salads and deviled eggs... right? I know our tastes our different, but that is what makes each of our seasons so special. We are able to season them and enjoy each new place in life by seasoning them with ourselves. Not all people make potato soup the same way. AND IT IS OK! We all do not drink the same apple cider, like the same coffee drinks or even want to look a a pumpkin haha! I could do pumpkin crafts and pumpkin flavored things all day during the fall and some people can't even think of pumpkins without falling apart. :) God has created us so perfectly in his image, but with characteristics and special quirks that make us so awesome. Each of our seasons are different for so many reasons, but they are all UNIQUE AND SPECIAL for many reasons. We can make a difficult season a sweet one. I think back to our time in Ft. Worth and it was a bitter season for sure, yet, there were parts of that season that are and will forever be SWEET. Relationships we gained, friends we grew to love, opportunities given us, adventures gone on...it was hard, but we still had good times within it. The season of grief was deeply painful and sometimes lonely, but we found ways to season it and savor it. Trips to Ft. Worth, heart parties and Ronald McDonald House volunteering, coke tab collecting and lots of resting. The season we are in now, coming out of a very "easy going" time the last 9 months or so has now turned into a growing season. This time is stretching us and causing some pain, but it is still good because we are aware of things we weren't before, freed up from some bondage that we did not know we were in, we're breathing fresher air simply because the direction of the winds has changed and even when it is  a bitter wind, cold and piercing, it is different and it creates changes. Be mindful of God's provision and steadfast ways in the middle of your seasons. 

Bloom where you are planted. 

My times are in Your hand 
Psalm 31:15a 

Our seasons, our times, our waiting periods, dark times, valleys and mountains are all in his hand. The timing in which each of these things occur has been known and decided by our Father since time began. The desert season is necessary so that the time of thriving and lush living may be appreciated and savored. (grief vs rejoicing) The busy season is necessary so that the slower time is soaked up. (school vs summer) Don't rush God. Don't linger when God has asked you to move. Don't move when God has asked you to stay put. Be thankful for the things God is doing in your life, when he is doing them, for the reasons He is doing them. 


Happy Seasonings!! 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Some Days...

There are days in this life that just hurt. Some days are just hard and there is no more pretending that you are ok, faking that you aren't affected negatively by the things going on around you and you break. You finally let down the guard and let yourself feel the emotions that come with being human, sharing time/space/life events/etc and then experiencing lots of change. Some days highlight loss. When I experienced Noah's death, the first thing I did was "be ok"... truthfully. I was "fine". Things were going to be "ok" and I didn't need to deal with it, I already had, so I thought. I got busy with all sorts of things and made sure I wasn't a big emotional wreck in front of people. It lasted awhile and then I finally got tired. I was tired of pretending that I was ok. I was tired of telling myself I had to be strong. I finally began to honestly approach my emotions, feelings and grief.
I've found myself in a similar situation as of late and I realize I can do 1 of 2 things. I can do it myself or I can surrender it.

Both of those choices are not easy. There isn't a way to bail. Running isn't an option. I don't get the luxury of quitting. The options are  do it myself (and fail I'm sure) or surrender it.

Surrender means that I don't get control, I don't get a say and I sure as heck don't get a heads up for any other things coming my way. I don't get a memo that tells me all the things that will happen and how to handle them. I don't get to follow a crowd into a fun and easy season. I get to stay where I'm at, trust, seek and remain steadfast to the call which God has on me.

Grief teaches lessons that carry over into other seasons of life. If I could encourage you to do anything through your grieving time... learn. Be taught. Take notes. Experience and then draw from it later.

This too shall pass. Life moves on. Time lends perspective and room for God to work. I will trust God's character even if I do not understand his ways.
There is no room for arguing with God here, wondering why, or searching for an answer. The answer is surrender. The answer is always grace and the utmost answer is Yes to God and No to myself, humanity and the ever changing behavior of people around us.
Be faithful to Christ. Be gracious to the people who need it most. Trust Him.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Oh February...

There is nothing I could say now that I have not already said. There is a sad feeling in my heart that I have nothing new to share, nothing profound or wise to give those who decide to read this. I know
that I could try really hard to come up with something or I can just be honest and say that maybe this is the end of this particular outlet. What is it that God wants me to do with the on-going journey he has me on after child loss? Maybe I am to continue sharing insight and lessons, maybe I am to just be quiet for awhile?

There are many small lessons, scriptures that stick out to me, instances that need to be shared and I want to share those. I also don't want to be flippant or a babbler. I don't want to waste my time or others.

 The few days leading up to the 2nd "anniversary" of Noah's death have been full, good, rich and blessed. They have had some tears, they have had lots of laughs. There has been rich fellowship, the Word preached boldly, I've been challenged in my faith and refreshed to look ahead and not feel bogged down. I had some deeply rich time with my best friend last week, it was life giving and so wonderful! Last night was full of an awesome word by a local pastor, worship with our worship team together, without having to lead... just a time of focus and soaking in the Spirit. It was nice. This weekend brings lots of emotions, yes. It is hard for me not to replay things in my mind. I push play in my mind and then I get to the place where he takes his last breath in my arms and I push pause. Thinking maybe I won't have to experience that again if I don't let my mind go there, but then it plays anyway and I feel my breath stop. My heart begins to beat irregular for a minute and I let the response come. Sometimes it is stuff-your-face-into-the-pillow crying... sometimes there is a tear or two that falls and then I have to pull it together and keep working or cooking dinner or whatever the task may be at the time. There are times when I need a few extra minutes in the shower or I have to excuse myself to the restroom at a gathering or event. If I'm quiet (which is rare, I know, ha. ha.) then I probably have Noah on my mind. He quiets me and at the same time he pushes me to not stay silent about the truth and the ways God has continued to show himself to me.

Grief is a dance. It is letting God lead, following along, stepping on his toes because I don't know how the dance goes, but I know the one I'm dancing with. We lock eyes and there is peace and joy, I look away or begin to realize the unknown steps make me a mess... I begin to back away. He pulls me back in. It is the constant ebb and flow kind of experience. I think that is how lots of things in life can be. Trusting him through a season, like grief or financial hardship, job troubles, kid problems, marital issues.... We must keep dancing, keep trusting him and mainly keep following him. We tend to want to take the lead and we all know that none of us know this life-dance thing enough to do that. We screw it up every time.

Not knowing what to do next in the journey of grief is a neat place to be. There is a freedom and an adventure about it that is exciting. We will see how God wants to continue to use our testimony for his fame. We will always be available to share, to love on and to bring hope.
The future is a neat thing. The clean canvas, open doors, unknown and  adventure are scary but they are invigorating.
Bless those of you who are so faithful to love us, support us, pray for us even now and who have walked this road with us. You're ever at the forefront of our hearts and minds. We are thankful and we bless you and ask God to bless you beyond your wildest imaginations. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

We stopped in Decatur on the way home the day after Noah died. It was odd to stop there, but we did
and we decided we weren't in a rush. We ate in the Subway.. at a table, on a Saturday... and took a deep breath. Nick and I looked at each other before we started eating our sandwiches and just asked each other and the Lord... "did that just happen????" Did all of that really happen? Somedays we still feel the same way. Did that actually happen? Did we survive? Did we trust you through it really? Did we come out of the darkest 5 months damaged and hurt but alive? We had. Now, 2 years later, we settle in for the evening and sometimes ask the same thing. What just happened? Did we just live the last 2 years and become better versions of ourselves, sell an old house and buy a new one, watch our daughter grow into a precious and silly pre-schooler, dive deeper into ministry and focused life, did we just come out of dark grief and pain and walk into a new normal, a new joy and a new fresh space in life? We have.

Time is a funny thing. It doesn't heal. It doesn't even really change anything, itself. Time gives perspective.  Perspective gives us room to let go, be free and experience God's workings.

Happy 2 years, Noah James! I know you've had the best 2 years of all of us! :)

Blessings to you all,

Thursday, January 8, 2015

In The Beginning

It starts in January actually. Our Noah story. Many of you have heard it, but we had a pregnancy "scare" in January of 2012, being that we had a "NO" test result. Well, come to find out in May of 2012, it wasn't a NO, it was a YES and it was a boy and he had a CHD. (congenital heart defect).
 I remember feeling GUILTY and so burdended that I could have known I was pregnant sooner, if I had taken another test or two. I remember that January day... my friend Lauren and I were on our new year's workout routine and so we had a stroller with Ava, a long walk and a long talk. I was freaking out over having a 7 month old and barely getting by financially and wondering why in the world God would give us another (when we were preventing, blah blah blah)... this wasn't in MY PLAN. Another baby was scary, out of order and just not what we were wanting at the time. I remember texting her that night that we got the no on the test and we went about our daily lives. The turmoil in my mind and heart during the few days I thought I might be pregnant were so absolutely disobedient, looking back. I was just like the toddler who didn't get the candy they begged for. I was begging God not to be pregnant, I wasn't ready, we weren't prepared, etc... When I got the no test, I just knew God has heard my prayer, had a plan and all was well again. Wrong. Seeing as I was pregnant after all,

I realized I could have had 4 more months with my  Noah if I had trusted God from the 

I sit here almost 2 years after he died and realize that I do not get any days with my child ever again. (thank God eternity is coming) I do not get any days back. I look at Ava and understand that I do not get a re-do, I do not get baby time back, toddler time back and I will even look at preschool with the mentality that I do not get these crazy days back.

Do I dare trust him today? What if I had taken another test or 2, put my trust in my Father in Heaven and said, "ok Lord, I trust you with this, even though it is scary" What if I had given myself room to have a slight freak out, but then stood in faith, in solid ground of his grace and said, "you've got this". I would have been aware of 20 weeks more time with my son.

Looking back and regretting is not what God is asking me or you to do with our lives. I do believe that he is asking us to LEARN. What can we learn from the adventures, hard seasons, long seasons, questioning times in our life? When we look back at the beginning of our various journeys and see our "freak outs" our "pity parties" our "what the heck are you doing God" moments... do you think we can step back and prepare ourselves to not make the same disobedient mistakes? I'm not saying we don't question the Father because we can ask him and we can be honest with him in our questioning, but I am saying that I hope we learn through it all that he KNOWS, he SEES and he is FAITHFUL!!

Trusting from the beginning isn't as hard as it sounds, because you may be in the middle of a huge season. It may seem like it is too late for you to fully trust him in a situation, but the beauty of it is that the beginning is now. When Noah died it was the beginning of the rest of my life without my son on this earth, but EVERY DAY is the beginning of that journey and every day I have to choose to trust him with that or not. Ava started preschool in August, but every week is a new week, every day is a new day to trust the Lord with her education, her growth and social development. I have to trust him at the beginning of every season, no matter what. Grace makes it possible for me to not waste the times when I am weak in the faith, struggle to see the truth and question God on every level.

Today is the beginning. This moment is the beginning. Look back and learn from the experiences God has guided you through. May you not look upon the past as a waste or useless, but as teaching material to shape you and your faith, today into something bigger and better than you thought could be. Trust Him.

He is Faithful. He is good. He is with you. He is gracious.

He. Is. God.

Trust him from the beginning. Every day.

Love and New Year's blessings,
Noah's mommy