date night

I’m so grateful for my husband. It is so important that we continue to live each day to the fullest. Even when things are hard. Especially when things are hard. It is crazy how much conversation is covered on a date night. We were able to finish sentences, look each other in the eyes, laugh a lot, and shed a few tears for three whole hours. This is important work in the healing. We had a blast!

If you live in Baltimore, Boordy Vineyards has an amazing Saturday night event every weekend in the summer. Worth going!

entering in more fully

I am realizing more and more as I continue to walk through this process of healing, that there was a significant amount of time after James passed that I was in shock and felt strong. The Lord was carrying me through because I wasn’t ready to enter into the reality of what happened fully. I wasn’t ready to allow myself to feel all the emotions that go along with our loss. The Lord allowed me to walk those early days of grief in His strength and I now feel like I am entering the next stage. The stage where the Lord’s strength is still present, but He is asking me to dig deeper.

It’s time. It’s time to keep putting in the work of healing, of going there. I have felt like over the last month, I have allowed myself to really sit with what we just went through. And it’s hard. It takes energy. It takes courage. It takes vulnerability. It takes time. This blog has been a tool for me to be thoughtful of myself and really go to the places in my heart that are deeply wounded.

Today feels like I wish I could fast forward to when it won’t hurt as badly, to when it’s not so raw. I also recognize about myself that I don’t like to live in the raw (I guess no one really does). I would rather this part be over. I would rather just bypass this stage. But I know that I can’t do that. There is something in the process for me that I can’t miss. There is something that is going on within me, for me, and hopefully for others, that I can’t just let pass me by.

I have quoted Lysa Terkeurst already in her book, It’s Not Supposed to be This Way. My sister, Sara, and my sister in love (as we like to say), Jessica, both recommended this book to me. And I am so grateful. She writes, “I want the solid rock on which to stand, but first I have to wait patiently for the Lord to lift me out of the slime and mud and set my feet. That word set in the original Hebrew is qum, which means to arise or take a stand. God has to take me through the process of getting unstuck from what’s been holding me captive before I can take a stand.” I interpret this to say that it is right and good to be in the process. That the only way forward is to work through what is real about how I am doing and feeling right now. She goes on to say, “but soon the process of pain turns into the promise of praise like no other.” I want to believe that this is also true. That the Lord will reveal Himself to me and this pain will not be wasted.

So, I am going to try my best to sit in this place and be OK with it. I am going to allow myself to feel all the things that I am feeling. I know it is an important part of the process. It’s just a really difficult part.

Terkeurst said, “we must not forget His presence in the midst of the process.” I do know and I do feel that the Lord is near. There is hope for today. And I am holding on tight.

“i hold that one”

If you needed to locate Elly while we were at the beach, you most likely found her with a baby in her lap. Any chance she got, she was holding one of her twin cousins, Evelyn and Beverly. She would ask, “I hold that one?” This girl loves her some babies. It was precious. She had so much love to give to them. One afternoon, we were finishing up lunch and we didn’t know where Elly went. We looked all around and then I saw her peeking out of the bedroom where the twins were napping. I opened the door and Elly looked up at me and whispered, “the babies are sleeping!”

This all made my heart explode with joy and at the same time caused a deep sadness. Elly would be such an amazing big sister right now. It almost feels like she was made for it. I don’t know what the Lord may have and I am not saying that she won’t have that opportunity, but it broke my heart for her that she will not be able to hold her little brother, James.

After James passed, we had a few conversations with Daly and Elly. Elly, who is only two and half, seemed so in tune with what was happening. I know there is no way she understood but she was attentive and seemed to say things that brought me great comfort. She would point to my belly often and say “baby all gone, baby in Heaven.” Her sweet little voice and her hopeful words were nourishment to my soul.

I am so grateful that Elly has her twin cousins to love and care for in this precious season of her being so infatuated with babies. Needless to say, we were all doting over these dear ones and it was refreshing for me to be able to love my nieces with a genuine affection for them.

learning comfort and compassion

I am sitting in a car port in Sunset Beach, North Carolina. It is our 36th year coming to this beach with my mom’s side of the family. This year there are thirty of us! It is easily one of our favorite weeks of the year.

Daly and Elly are napping, Josh is asleep beside me in a beach chair, there is a thunderstorm happening, and the breeze is delightful. I can hear the waves crashing and my view is of the ocean and dunes ahead of me. This is glorious.

Yesterday morning we gathered, all thirty of us, and sat around the living room of our ocean front house. Josh and I wanted to have a time to honor James with our family. It was hard, yet beautiful. It was painful to remember and relive it all, yet important. We all had an opportunity to mourn together. Josh shared our story of James’ birth, he read the letter he wrote to James for the service we had for him a week after he was born, he read scripture, and he shared that we desire to trust the Lord through this painful time. I am grateful for our family who listened, shared in our suffering, cried with us, prayed over us, and held us.

I am currently reading, It’s Not Supposed to be This Way, written by Lysa Terkeurst. She wrote these words, “…these seasons of suffering are not for nothing. They will grow you. They will shape you. They will soften you. They will allow you to experience God’s comfort and compassion. But you will find life-giving purpose and meaning when you allow God to take your painful experiences and comfort others. You will be able to share a unique hope because you know exactly what it feels like to be them.”

“Praise be to the God and Father of Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. ” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

I pray that God would use our story, our pain, to teach us to grow in compassion and comfort for others.

We celebrated my Nannie and Paw-Paw’s 90th birthdays.
What a legacy of love they are leaving to each one of us.

i got you

A beer bottle shatters on the ground in front of me and I know immediately that a piece of glass got my toe. SaSa and I went out on the town in Aix en Provence after the rehearsal dinner on a night called Festival of Music. The streets were packed with people for this festival that happened only once a year. We were in awe of the people, the noise, and the excitement of the city.

There was a courtyard off of one of the streets playing dance music. SaSa said, “we have to go dance!” As soon as we got closer, the music stopped. When we realized it must’ve been over (it was 1am!) we walked out of the courtyard into the street to go get a gelato treat. Then, the music came back on! We decided we had to go back and dance a little. As we were approaching, a young man threw a beer bottle on the ground and I knew right away that my toe had been hit. I mean, really?!? SaSa and I walked back into the street and I took my shoe off. My toe was gushing blood. SaSa immediately asked the first couple she saw, “Parlez-vous anglais?” Gratefully, this beautiful, English woman said, “yes!” She was with a French man and the two of them were in immediate, we will help you, mode. They saw my foot and knew we were two American girls in a foreign country who needed help. Alison, the woman, took a picture of my foot and called her nurse friend (who answered at 1am!). Kristoff (yes, that was his real name!) sat beside me and asked if I was OK and held up two fingers and said, “how much?” He also helped SaSa try to contact my parents using his phone.

Alison got off the phone and said that her friend thinks I probably just need to clean it, use butterfly strips, and bandage it up. He didn’t think I would need stitches if the bleeding stopped after holding pressure for 5 minutes. The bleeding definitley had slowed down, so we were now in search of a pharmacy.

Kristoff looked up the closest pharmacy and proceeded to say that we were all going to walk to it together and hope that we could get what we needed. We walked up and the lights were off. However, there was a window where you could call for someone. Kristoff pressed the button and a man came. We can now refer to Kristoff as Prince Kristoff! He communicated with the man all that we needed and proceeded to give him his credit card. SaSa offered twice to pay for it and he said, “no, I have a story to tell you.” Once the transaction was complete, Prince Kristoff handed SaSa that bag and told us how seven and a half years ago he was in America and a mechanic had helped him with his car and did it for free. He told Kristoff to do the same for an American one day in France. We were the lucky Americans, seven and a half years later! This dear couple, Kristoff and Alison, spent at least 45 minutes of their night with us and the fact that Alison spoke English and Kristoff spoke French was such a gift. Incredible! We hugged them and thanked them and they left.

SaSa then began to clean and bandage my wound. It was still bleeding and we had a 25 minute walk back to our Airbnb. As she was putting the antiseptic spray on it, a young boy approached us and said, “problem, problem?!” in his French accent. He saw what we were doing and he pulled his phone out and turned on the flashlight so Sa could see what she was doing. How precious! SaSa’s first question to him was, “do you have a car?” Haha, don’t worry, we didn’t get into a car with him. I’m not even sure if he could drive. Also, the streets were all closed down for the festival, so our option was to walk. I appreciated SaSa’s heart though!

So why am I sharing this? Truly, it was the Lord saying, “I got you.” Over and over and over again. He kept showing up in the sequence of events saying, “I got you.” This is such a reminder to me of God’s perfect ways, perfect timing, and perfect outcomes. Was I annoyed and even a little fearful at first, of course! Did I say, “did that really just happen?” And maybe a few other choice words, yes! However, as quickly as I felt those things, the Lord revealed himself and said, “Look, I got you!”

This time, in this circumstance, God responded and showed himself clearly right away. This isn’t always the case, but I sure am glad it was that night. Or else, I may still be sitting on the side of the road in Aix (clearly exaggerating).

We really needed help. I want this to be a story that helps me to notice, to open my eyes to what the Lord is doing around me all the time. To never lose sight of Him, especially in the midst of a difficult circumstance.

I am grateful that the Lord revealed himself to me again. I am grateful that He is with me. That His ways are better. That He provides and He’s got me. And this is always the truth in whatever the circumstance.

Thank you SaSa, Prince Kristoff, Alison, and teenage boy for showing me the Lord’s goodness and His amazing way of showing up. I just hope I keep my eyes open to see Him. He is always there saying, “I got you!”

I also know that what this situation taught me is truth for my heart in processing and healing after losing Hope and James. I will stand and trust and believe that He has got me. It reminds me of the verse from Exodus 14:13-14, “The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still.”

I bought this mug in Aix en Provence. I’m so glad I did, so I can remember all the things every time I drink out of it.

when the tears flow

Why do the tears flow in the most inopportune times? Why in those times is it when I want to embrace the tears and just let them flow? I just finished watching the movie, “Gifted,” on an airplane en route to France. Yes, I said France. My dad’s cousin’s daughter is getting married in Aix en Provence. My sister lived with their family while spending time in LA and was invited to the wedding with a plue one. Guess who the plus one is? You got it, it’s me. So, here I am, with my sister and mom and dad, headed to the south of France.

The movie, “Gifted”, is about a man who was given custody of his sister’s daughter after his sister committed suicide. Not to spoil the movie, I will just describe the scene that wrecked me. The young girl, now 7, has never met her dad. After she had been greatly saddened by the fact that her dad could’ve come to see her but chose not to, her uncle noticed her pain and took her to a hospital waiting room. There was no explanation for his reason for this and it showed them sitting there for awhile. Then, a man walks into the waiting room in scrubs and announces to a group of family and friends, “it’s a boy!” They celebrated this news with hugs, happy tears, and sounds of joy. It was a beautiful picture that the uncle gave to his niece, explaining to her that this was exactly how her life was celebrated when she was born. The little girl asked to stay and see more of these announcements and celebrations.

And this is the part that started the tears to flow. Oh James, how I wish we could’ve celebrated you in this way. How I wish our announcement of you being born was of hugs, happy tears, and sounds of joy. This was not your story though. Your story is different. Your story is of incredible pain and loss for your mommy, daddy, sisters, and so many people. We were anticipating meeting you, holding you, having a boy around, learning all the boy things, and simply smothering you with kisses. This is not your story though.

My heart, our hearts, are aching. The sadness can be all-consuming. But- I love this word because it is so appropriate in our sadness- But, we have hope! James’ story is different and it is difficult to grasp, but he is experiencing a love like no other, a love that is completely pure, unconditional, and forever. Jesus. Because of Jesus, we have hope. And I will choose Jesus. I know that Jesus is worth following, knowing, and trusting. And I will do just that. Even when it hurts. Even when the tears flow on an airplane in front of so many people. Even when none of it makes sense.

And then, the Lord nudges my sister, who is sitting many rows up, to come and check on me. She sees me and knows me because this is the kind of sister that she is. She asks. She listens. She allows me to weep, even in this inopportune time. People are looking, wondering, and she reminds me that it is OK and holds me. Thank you, Lord, that you see me and that her presence is evident of that. Thank you for the ways that you provide in ways that go above and beyond.

I will choose gratitude. Gratitude for the tears and the raw emotions that go along with our James. Gratitude for a sister who is tender and near and is sad with me. Gratitude for a movie that stirs emotions and allows me to process my own. Gratitude for wine that is free. Gratitude for a husband who sends me to France with incredible excitement and who can’t wait to spend a week with his darling girls. Gratitude for time away. Time to think about Hope and James, who now, I know, are playing together in Heaven. Gratitude for Jesus. Gratitude for Heaven.

And now, to adventure around France. Here we are on our first night with tired, yet excited eyes, after the long journey…

a heart that hurts

Oh, the heartache when I see a tiny baby. My heart quite literally hurts. I try to put on my strong, happy for you, face. I’m most certain the baby’s mommy has no idea what is going on in my head and heart (unless they know me). I also recognize that there are so many stories out there. My story is just one of the many pains that go along with having children or the not having children. It is all such a mystery. I am a mom who is experiencing pure joy in having two healthy baby girls that the Lord has given me to raise, brush hair, read books, and sing songs. While at the same time I am experiencing tremendous sorrow, as He has also taken away two babies who never even took their first breath. The reality is that each one of my babies belongs to the Lord first. They are ALL a GIFT. I know that being a parent requires a posture of surrender, open hands, and release of our children. Oh how difficult that can be, but what great relief at the same time.

I know that the hurt will lessen over time. I know that I will want to hold my friend’s tiny baby one day. I know that it is completely OK that I can’t right now. I know that I love babies and I love that women all over are having healthy babies, including some of my dear friends. I know that there are women who have longed for a baby and weren’t able to conceive. I know that some babies are born with a difficult circumstance that impacts everything about them. I know that tiny babies are everywhere and that it is what makes the world go round. So, I will submit my heart and my hurt to Lord over and over and over again. I will seek healing. I will seek Him. I will trust that in the not understanding and the mystery of it all, I have a Father who sees me and who is so so good.

I woke up one morning while we were at the beach at 5:30 am. The Lord wanted me to see the sunrise over the ocean and remember. He wanted me to remember that He is a big God, who while so big, he is intimately acquainted with me. I am choosing to remember.