Sunday, August 14, 2016

Kindergarten here she comes!

Sitting in my bed, snuggled up with her and my mind wanders because I've watched every Tinkerbell movie 326x. 

 My girl starts kindergarten next week. 

It is an incredible feeling to think that my first born is big enough to start doing bigger and better things, things without my constant attention or affection. She'll start a new journey that will last the next 13 years. There will be fun moments and hard moments, tears of happiness and tears of rejection. There will be all sorts of friends, events, assemblies and programs. Homework, projects, tests and quizzes. There will be rough patches and dark seasons as well as incredibly blessed and fruitful seasons. She will make friends and watch some walk away, move away or fall away. She will have wonderful teachers who inspire and frustrating ones who will push her to truly learn for herself. She'll discover who she is as a student, her style of learning and what she excels at. Over the years she will figure out if she enjoys athletics or music or all the above. She will have to learn things that we don't feel are all that necessary, like a big standardized test, but she will learn that there are many things we don't want to do, prepare for or endure but we will always do and try our best at whatever is at hand. She will learn to believe in herself in ways she never thought she would. She will learn more than a test. Trust me. 

She will be a foreign missionary in her home town. 

I say this because the world of school is one that she will enter daily. She will walk into a world of challenge and excitement, but at the same time she is entering a place of uncertainty and even darkness. Our children are never promised an easy life, a perfect life or a life without hardship. We ensure all we can to protect and provide for our kids and I will strive daily to provide all she needs to be safe, healthy, happy and whole. Yet, I understand that I am asking her to walk into a word where she isn't always going to be happy. She won't always leave school feeling whole or excited. And that's OK! It's good for her to learn that life isn't always perfect, easy or on our terms. She will learn that people will hurt you and there are people who are hurt that need grace. She will learn that she needs grace herself. She will begin to see that her world is way bigger than she's ever known before. Questions and curiosities will bubble up and there will be hard conversations, deep discussions and lots of prayers. I hope this bed I'm snuggled in will be the home for lots of these talks and tears and most of all prayers and cuddles. 

So my prayer for my girl is that she will see school as a place to be a friend, love others, learn responsibility, routine, order and most of all; grace. I pray that she extends grace to the girl who comes to school without her lunch and will share hers. I pray that she is the kid who sees others like Jesus does. I pray that she knows she is a light, a friend, a blessing to those around her. I pray that she sees opportunities outside of her comfort zone that show the love of Jesus. I pray that God protect her and place amazing friends and people in her life, but I also pray that Nick and I create a foundation of Godliness that she can rest in and soak up so that she can be a solid oak in a world of orchids. I pray that she knows we are her advocates, her prayer warriors, her safe place and her leaders who will help guide her through these years. I pray that she knows whose she is not just who she is. I pray that she is a light and a source of hope for her classmates, a joy to her teachers and a blessing to those she comes in contact with. I pray that she learns to add and subtract alongside listening and including. I pray she also has discernment to know what is right, what is wrong and what is best. 
I pray that she understands that school isn't just about education, but about how you interact with a hurting and hardened world. May she know how to respond and serve a hurting and broken community. 
She is a missionary, a deliverer of good news. May God go before her and be her strong place and the light to her path. I pray that she enjoys all the new adventures and exciting times ahead! May she learn that this world is full of hardship and ugliness, but that with Jesus she has the cure. With Jesus she has the answer. With Jesus she can be secure in whose she is. She can stand firm in faith and the truth. She can be the one who shows love. She can be the smartest person in her class, but if she doesn't love, than it doesn't matter. May she grow in every way.

Kindergarten is a big step into this mission assignment she has been given. May I support her, uphold her, provide and prepare her at every step for the task at hand. 

I'm blessed to be mothering a future woman of God. For now, I'm just thankful that she will still let me watch Tinkerbell with her. ❤️ 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Tucking Him Away

It's late. Meal prep is done. Kitchen is clean. Girls have been asleep for awhile. Now husband is asleep. It's me and the cat. I don't even really like that cat all that much, but here we are.
I long for alone time, as a mom, wife, working full time, leading worship every other week and I always end up cleaning the whole house, mess around on Facebook, play a game on my phone, work on projects etc, but I rarely just sit, alone, quietly. 
It isn't that I don't "have the time". I just don't make the time. I think for 3 years I have filled the time up because it is easier to stay busy than to really deal with pain. It is easier to fill my schedule with things and over commit myself to ministry than it is to be real with my hurt. It is easier to just mask it all because people need to see that "God is good" and "it is well". 

My child is dead. Why do I have to be okay with that? Why do I continually have to push it down further away in my memory and my soul so that I don't seem weak or annoying or even rude. I do not understand why I chose to jump back into ministry the weekend after my son died. I don't know why. I don't know why nobody tried to stop me. I don't know why I was able to just sign up for all the events and ways to serve in the church and no one noticed a red flag with that. I'll never understand why I continually overbook, over schedule and underwhelm my soul. I don't know why I think that things will fall apart if I'm not there. 
I fee the tug of loyalty and commitment and the tug of the desperation to get alone, find some peace and be honest and real with myself and God. They battle each other so often. It is a gamble to even make known these things for fear of letting people down. When we go through seasons when the grief bubbles up again, I have realized that I have to be aware and I have to be willing.  Willing to be honest with myself, with my husband, with those in my immediate circle, my co-workers and ministry family. I have to refocus, find ways to relax and remind my heart that the whole purpose of ministry is simply so that others may know Christ and make him known. For me, grief/over commitment is the biggest way Satan grabs me and keeps me from thriving.

The purpose of this blog, in the beginning, was to update family and friends of the things going on in our world, then it became a place to update on Noah and then after he died it became an outlet for me through many ups and downs of grieving. I am not certain what it is anymore. I have had a block the last year or so and so just occasionaly do I feel that I have the clarity to really write something that could be read and even understood. The last few weeks, Noah has been pushing his way through my jumbled up busy mind and parked himself there. I have a lump in my throat that I had gotten rid of over the last couple of years. I think with the anniversary of a heart friend's death, the surgery of another heart friend and just a lot of bottled up emotions from the last year I realized I was drowning in some unattended to issues, heart cries, questions even. I guess I was just frustrated and sad that I'm missing out on raising a boy. I knew the day would come when I realized I was missing out on so many adventures. I knew it would come. I also knew that I had to face it and come to the point of accepting the fact that I will be tucking Noah away for the rest of my life. I may not tuck him in at night, but I tuck him away each holiday, each new season of life, each new season of my girls' lives, and I will quietly tuck him away in my momma heart during the times I watch the boys in our life hit a home run or shoot a 3 pointer. I will tuck him away. I will learn to give myself space and time and grace to cry the tears I need to, not shove more cliche sayings down my own throat to make me believe it or feel it or be ok with it. I am learning to grieve inwardly and alone and not rely so much on others around me. I don't need 200 likes on a picture of my son to make me feel better. I need alone time to just sit and miss him and then let my soul linger with the Lord before going about the momma and wife duties that ARE there for me to attend to. Noah has and will ALWAYS keep me focused and accountable. Have I prayed today? Or have I just announced to the world all my "things", all my needs, all my struggles. Have I sat and lingered with him or have I exhausted myself and others with neediness.

Maybe you don't struggle with grieving right now. I feel safe to assume that a lot or most of the people who might stumble across this are dealing with some form of grief. Be it the loss of a loved one, a divorce, a friendship gone sour or another relationship struggle... are we exhausting ourselves trying to make people hear us and our struggles or are we truly trusting and bringing to the Father our deepest longings? Besides bringing him our needs he already knows we have, are we just lingering with him and letting him soothe our souls? Are we truly being honest with God? Or are we just saying "God is good" so we don't have to deal with the fact that maybe we really struggle with that truth.  We ALL HAVE STRUGGLES. WE ALL HAVE THINGS, NEEDS, FRUSTRATIONS... How are we dealing with them, honestly?
Be aware of your emotions, your grief, your needs and really lay it out with the Father. Christian sayings, going to church, being over committed, drowning ourselves in stuff is not the answer. Be honest, get support and just be real and honest with yourself.
I was made aware of so many attitude problems, negative thoughts, struggles with people and frustrations with others that were all stemming from this toxic heart condition of my own.
Actually asking God to "search me and know me" like David writes in Psalms. It is revolutionary to be undone by Him because He puts us back together so beautifully. Scars are special.

I may be tucking Noah away more and more, but I am thankful that He always seems to teach his momma something at the times she needs it the most.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016


"You taught my feet to dance upon disappointment and I, I will worship."

I've learned in the last 3 years grief changes. It no longer defines my daily routine or thinking process. I am no longer constantly consumed with thoughts of the what ifs, whys or hows of the situation. I have a freedom from that and yet I never go a day without thinking of him.

A couple of weeks ago it was one thing after the other. Nick had been sick with the flu, Ana had drainage, Ava and I were fine, but we both are the ones with the most on the schedule and then she got strep/flu. So, overall it has been me, being single mom, while Nick is sick, and we have a ton to do. I am capable of doing it all, but I rarely have to do everything for 2 kids, plus  him, myself as well as work. (shout out to all single moms/dads out there... I am humbled by your constant energy and efforts) Long story short, I took the girls to my parents' house on a Monday afternoon so I could deep clean the house and try to get a handle on germ killing. I found myself out at the cemetery after dropping them off. It was just me, 2 special graves and a Texas sunset (oh and a cold wind)... but it was exactly what my soul needed. I sat there after cleaning up the area of old flowers, trash, etc. I just sat there, I guess like I would have if Noah and I were playing on the floor. I have never been one to talk to those who have died. I just never felt the need or connection in that way. For some reason I just needed to talk to him though. I realized I was no longer grieving the loss of a baby, but of a little boy I'll never know. We have this sweet new baby in our home and even though she will never completely fill a hole that Noah left behind, she has brought so much joy to our home and our hearts. I realized that I was missing out on how he would be bugging his big sister, loving on his little sister, running us all ragged and loving it. I sat there and just breathed in the quiet, telling him how proud of him we would always be and that his big sister doesn't go many days without saying his name, praying that he is happy in heaven or wishing he was here to play with. He is missed, forever loved and cherished.

So, dancing. I'm the last person in the world that you want to see dance or even try to dance. Yep. I cannot do it. The songs like "I hope you dance" "I would have missed the dance" etc are sweet and endearing but never made sense to me. I just don't dance or connect to the word dance. So when the song by Amanda Cook played for the first time, I heard the lyric "You taught my feet to dance upon disappointment and I, I will worship". I was struck so heavily by those words.

Noah's death was a disappointment in my life for a long time. It hurt that I wasn't answered the way I wanted to be. I was struggling to make sense of what life was, then turned into and finally what it would ever become again. So to dance upon disappointment? What does that mean and how does that look in my circumstance? I realized that anytime I donate tabs to the Ronald McDonald house in honor of Noah, I'm dancing. When I lead worship I'm dancing. When I tickle my big girl til she cries laughing so hard, I'm dancing. When we bought our home in 2014 I was dancing. When I got my job at FLC I was dancing. Sometimes dancing for me looks like getting out of bed and facing a hard day. Sometimes dancing upon my disappointment looks like being around moms with baby boys the first few months after we got home. Play dates were terribly hard, but I did it for Ava and I endured, therefore I danced. Dancing is when we make a trip down to Ft Worth, but it is also snuggling up on the couch and watching Ninja Turtles on a Friday night with pizza and cookies. Dancing in my life is not always being happy nor is it a sign of perfection or bliss. Dancing is doing life. Dancing is not letting his death destroy every good thing in my life. It is letting his death enrich my life by doing life better, with more intention, simplifying, saying no sometimes, creating moments of connection instead of disconnection. Dancing upon disappointment.

This past weekend while introducing a new song to our FLC family I was given a clear visual of the bridge that states "I'll hold on to you and you'll hold on to me". It's a beautiful line and I immediately had a picture in my mind. Nick and Ava were dancing at a wedding last weekend and it was so beautiful to see Ava glowing and having a ball with her daddy! Nick was swaying her and looking at her so sweetly as she danced with him. This moment between them reminded me that our relationship with Christ is that way. He is dancing with us and we trust him to not let us fall, he leads us even when we step on his toes and as we dance we are safe, happy and all together wrapped in the moment of just him and us. We know that life is not always happy, safe, fun or sweet like a dance. Happiness isn't guaranteed but, he promises he will lead us and not forsake us, ever.

What's more beautiful than dancing upon disappointment? That the one whom we tend to blame and get upset at during the disappointment is the one who is holding our hands and loving on us during the dance. So, trust Him in your life through your worship. Worshiping isn't just singing. Dancing isn't just for weddings. Dance in the daily details, worship in the toughest moments. Just don't give up. Dance through the adventures and the seasons of life. I promise that if you don't let go of WHO God is and WHAT he has done for you, you will see blessing and even joy again in your life!

 much love,

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Hand Me Downs

We welcomed a new little girl into our world on December 8th, 2015.

I suppose I have been somewhat quiet on the blog in the last 6 months or so. I just have not felt like forcing things that don't have to be said, I guess. I have had many attempts because I have had moments where I just needed to write, but as I would write, I realized it was all a jumbled mess and no one would understand it but me.

None the less, we've had a crazy month, to say the least. We started out with having Ana Rejoice on December 8th at 10:37am. She weighed 8lbs 10oz and was 20.5" long. She had a small emergency start because she inhaled a ton of fluid and had to be suctioned out immediately causing her the need to be in the nicu for almost 2 days. We got her out of there really quick and were able to have a "normal" time with her from there. We dealt with some jaundice (and she still turns carrot like occasionally) and had a 2 day stay in the hospital the week after we go home with her. There were some moments that first night with her under the bilirubin light that I felt so emotional and raw about the entire hospital life we led with Noah. Jaundice is just a simple newborn thing that happened with Ana and our pediatrician was VERY sure to assure me that it was simple and nothing life threatening with her knowing that I just could not handle it very well. ha. I got through those 2 days fine and we got home and got to a normal pace at home.

Everyone that sees Ana generally says that she looks so much like her brother. I love that. Ana does have a lot of her sister's faces and stretches at this point, but overall I agree that she resembles her brother in many ways. I cannot help but smile every time I hear someone say that because that means they remember his face.

As a mom of a child who died, I appreciate deeper than people know that they remember his face enough to say our daughter looks like him. What joy it brings me to have our son talked about, remembered and honored in this way. So, if you think she looks like Noah, thank you. My heart smiles every time I hear it.

I get funny looks sometimes when people ask me her name. Ana Rejoice. "....." It is not a common middle name. I know. It comes from Habakuk, from a verse I held dear while on the journey in Ft. Worth with Noah. Habakuk 3:18

If you read all of Habakuk 3 you will understand that the whole chapter is full of frustration, despair, famine, drought, etc and then it wraps up with that verse. It reminds me that in ALL things we can rejoice and find the joy. In ALL things, and God showed me that even in DEATH, we can find joy and we can rejoice in the GOODNESS of our God. It took a long time after Noah died to really mean that. Yet, God is faithful and I can tell you in full honesty now, that He IS GOOD. He HEALS, He REDEEMS, He MAKES RIGHT, He even makes it OK.

Ana Rejoice has shown us, in tangible form, that he is redeeming our loss. She doesn't replace Noah in any form or fashion, but she is filling a void left by him by simply being her. She is our sweet and precious baby girl and she will always bear part of her Bubby's testimony in her name. She wore his first Christmas jammies and will forever have part of his legacy as her identity handed down as well.


She completes our little family in ways we never imagined and she could never replace our boy. She makes his testimony in our lives so much richer because she is a sweet prize for the dark days. She is worth all the mourning and long nights of crying. She eases the sting of loss. Ava has been many healing things for me over the course of the last 3 years in her own way and now Ana is the same.

I can say that I am a mother to THREE precious children. I am a girl momma and a boy mom. I am proud to be a heart mom and a mother who has experienced loss. These things shape me and make me the wife, mother and person I am today. They shape my worship leading, my walk with Christ, the way I look at and do my job, the way I interact with others, etc. I am thankful for the scar I bear from my 3 babies and I am thankful for how EACH of my children have taught me different life lessons, brought me more sleepless and joyful years of my life and have extended God's grace to me without even knowing it.

Motherhood is hard. Loss is hard. I've realized that in the middle of the night when I'm zombie like and its hard to get up to feed Ana, I just remember the long, dark, lonely nights I didn't get to pick up that sweet boy, feed him, hold him, or play with him. I did not get to have anything that even resembled normal with that baby boy and so anything I get to experience with Ana is healing for me. I've been able to breastfeed her, which is a healing thing from both of my previous baby experiences. I pumped for both, but this time around I am getting this extra special time with Ana. We were able to bring Ana home in a normal amount of time from the hospital. We have been able to just be home and soak up these first few weeks of life with her and it has been so sweet.
Sleepless nights are NOT fun, but they shouldn't be taken for granted.
A fussy and restless baby at 3:30am isn't my first choice, but I've held my child as he entered heaven and I would stay up every night with my fussy girl to get that boy back.
The messy house, crazy hours, tired eyes, soreness from surgery, the huge scar I have.. I would not trade it. I will not take any of it for granted.

If you are aching and hurting from recent loss. Don't give up. Your joy is not lost. Your redemption is coming. He will make it all right. It might not ever make sense, I'm certain it won't, but it won't always cause such long nights, confusion or anger. The healer heals. He is working in your grief. He is making you better, if you let him. He will show you Himself if you watch closely.

Thankful tonight for our Ava Renee', Noah James and Ana Rejoice.