Thursday, July 17, 2014
See, every year I pick a word that I feel like God is going to use to teach me and be my theme. Last year, 2013, was Deeper. My how that was truth. Our son died, 1.5 months after choosing that word. God dropped me deeper than I ever have into the ocean of dependence and grace. I'm certain that last year was the deepest year of my life in every way. This year he gave me the word Simplify. I felt that with the new year there was so much to simplify in terms of normal routine, clean out the house that had been neglected in all the chaos of '12/'13 and really simplify our family schedule, our eating, habits, plans, etc. I knew that God would clean house in many ways.
I always love looking at for sale houses online and have wanted to move for awhile now and I just felt like we weren't at a place financially, emotionally, etc. I gave it to the Lord though and one day Nick and I saw a house we liked and just asked the Lord to show us the direction and timing for selling ours and trying to buy that one. Little did we know that 2 or so houses later we would finally find the one, but it took that initial house to get us to jump down that cliff of unknown. We put our house on the market on May 6th and we had a contract on it on May 8th. That went through fine and on June 12 we closed. In that month we had to paint the entire house, get a window fixed and do a couple of other things, like pack up almost 5 years and 2 kids worth of stuff. ALL of our stuff went into a trailer, a storage unit and a little bit of space in my mother in law's garage. (we moved into her house) and we have lived here for the last month and week. We have been blessed by this and have been able to do things like a trip to Galveston and some other things because of the money saving ability. We are thankful. So in the middle of this we were trying to find us a house and we found another one, since the initial one was no longer available. We found a house on a street that was perfect, great school, nice neighborhood, close to everything we do and the right price. Well, things got nuts from there. So many repairs were going to have to be made, but we were in love. We found ways to figure it out and we almost had a deal. Then, we found some more major repairs and had to break up with her. It was no fun. We really thought we would live there for many years and we loved the layout and everything, but we knew it was not the one for us. So, we let it go, in faith, knowing that God would have a better place for us. Boy did he. This would mean we would be without our own home for an extra (almost month). We had to just trust and then start looking again and we realized that he truly could give us more than what we imagined, if we would let him. We quit trying to make work what we thought was best and let him do it. We will be able to move into a home we love, one that gives us more space, and also is coming with some things we didn't even think about until it happened. We are blessed, (I still trust and claim that we have always been blessed, even the day Noah died we were blessed...end soap box) and this season in our life feels so refreshing because we have been in a couple of years of deep struggle, pain and hurt. This refreshment feels so good, it is so undeserved but it is welcomed and I am so thankful.
Why am I telling you all of this? It doesn't really have anything to do with Noah, our journey with him or grief. It doesn't seem to really have anything to do with hospital life, heart moms, or how to cope after child loss. But, it has everything to do with it. I've realized over the last few months of house craziness that as long as I have Christ ALL will work out. When we let God handle our grief and our pain, he brings about healing in His way and His way is always best. I didn't understand why I never got to bring my baby boy home. I struggled with going into a nursery/kid room that was ready for a little girl and a baby boy to share and it never happened. I had made places in our cabinets for medicine, we had our carpets pulled up and floors redone so we could eliminate some of the "stuff" that could make it harder for Noah to breathe etc. We were ready to have him home and he never came home. As Nick prayed over our home as we left it in June, he thanked God for the home it had been for us, since we bought it, for how many holidays and special times we had there, but he also thanked God for letting us leave it, for we never got to bring our baby boy there and we were reminded of that daily. God knows what we need. Since moving out of that home, I have felt a refreshment and a sense of healing I hadn't had yet. Even just living with family for now, it has given me a month and a half to breathe after leaving that special place. Now, I am super ready to move into a home that is just for us, maybe more children at some point, but for now, this home starts fresh, with memories of Noah strung about, but without the hole. I feel more complete and sure of things now than I have since he died. Time doesn't heal but it allows us to feel all we need to feel, to grow and change, to breathe and relax. Time gives us space. It doesn't make it hurt any less on any given Tuesday while driving and all of a sudden something sparks your memory. It does make the big picture more evident and in that, it brings comfort and perspective.
So many things to look forward to in this home. I'm excited that God has allowed us the opportunity to begin fresh here. I see many DNows, life groups, girl nights, birthday parties, sleepovers, bible studies, BBQ's, youth parties, playdates and family time there. I see relaxing, resting, laughing, and enjoying life together with my husband and daughter. I see bringing home a new baby that God might give us someday. I see so many possibilities I never could see in our old home.
Maybe you're in some grief or a season of dryness right now and you need some perspective change. I'm not saying buying a new home will fix it. I certainly do not advise
making some life change in the middle of it all. I'm saying to prayerfully ask God what changes HE CAN MAKE in you and in your life. Maybe it is a new haircut, a new pair of shoes, a new Bible study book, a new Bible or journal, a new place to go for walks or maybe take a road trip. Many things have helped me keep perspective and have assisted to change my outlook on my life in the last 2 years by keeping things refreshed. Get out of your rut. Let God pour in some sunshine. It would be a dishonor to your loved one to live selfishly in over drawn out emotional prison. Let God bring freedom, release and grace every day. This does not discount the life of your child or your close one. This is healing. This is new life. The pain and memories will always be there, they come up in waves and you let them come and go. The daily life has to come back though and in that, let God make it wonderful! Let him bless you without feeling guilty. Let him take care of you without you holding yourself back. Be healed. Be loved. Be free.
I am finally coming to some conclusions about grief and how lonely it can be sometimes. One of the things I feel very convicted about is that I would get so sad or frustrated when people started to "move on" often seeming like they had "forgotten" about Noah...I would try so hard to make people remember. Posting a picture a new blog post, forced out. I would just try and try to make people remember and that is not healthy. I have the freedom as his mother and as a person, to share with others about Noah when I choose, but to somehow be let down by something people aren't doing to me or on purpose.... selfish. It's time to move forward and onward in life, not forgetting, but living. simply living. If #simplify14 means anything to me, it means living simply, but it also means, simply living. I don't have to strive so hard to make life ok or better, simply living life, with my lovies is enough!
Living Simply- healthier, less cluttered, more organized and more intentional- YES!
Simply Living- taking each day at at time, soaking up every moment with my daughter and husband, playing in the rain, going to the park, stopping to relax, to soak in the mundane and boring sometimes, to enjoy, to thrive, to just live. ABSOLUTELY.
#simplify14 just continues to teach me and make me better! :)
Be blessed, be simple;
Monday, June 30, 2014
Silence is hard for me. (Yes, Nick, I admit it. Mom and Dad, yes I know. Sorry I'm not sorry for the years of constant chatter haha!) Silence just is not my gift, it makes me awkward and uncomfortable. I want to pipe in, say something, fill the space and save the day. ha! This silence I am in the middle of is not one that I can pipe up in the middle of and really make it any less awkward. I have hit this place where people know (and lots of people don't know) that Noah lived and died. God and I don't have much to say on it anymore, I'm dealing less with the why and settling into the answers God has given me and am learning to surrender to them. This quietness is humbling. It's not about us anymore (it never was in terms of us ever choosing that this would happen), but things automatically become focal and all attention is drawn to your family/child because people are genuinely interested and want to pray and support, but also people are nosey. No one asks anymore and that IS OK. No one needs to. That is a place that I have prayed for, yet now that it is here, it can be lonely. I say this, not to draw attention to us, but to reach out to the ones who are dealing with this as well. I know that just because life is normal again for the world, it is not and will never be all the way normal for you. I understand that and know that our new normal will always have it's sting. Just know that someone understands this weird place and is going through it with you. Learn to reach out. I am trying to learn that. I cannot be self reliant when it comes to this grief thing and neither can you. Be encouraged and know that just because it seems as though people have forgotten and life has returned to normal, your loved one (especially children) are never truly forgotten and we as parents will never know the extent of how their lives and stories are reaching people. I'm certain that he is talked about and thought of more than I will ever actually know. I rest in that when the silence gets unbearable. Press on!
Thursday, May 22, 2014
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Safe from wrath and make me pure
Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law's demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless, look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Saviour, or I die.
While I draw this fleeting breath,
When mine eyes shall close in death,
When I rise to worlds unknown,
See Thee on Thy judgement throne,Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.
Monday, May 5, 2014
If you are grieving, give yourself space to calm yourself and collect yourself when things seem to jumble up into a big ball. Whether you face a big family function, an event with lots of people who don't understand or just an evening alone where you don't have to hide and then everything comes up and out.... let it happen. Quit trying to be ok. I'm learning to not be so hard on myself with this and to just let the grief come and go as it needs to. I also urge you to be honest with your spouse or close friend, family, etc so they know it is the grief that is spurring on moments of anger, sadness, fear, anxiety, and whatever other emotions you seem to deal with at the time.
There isn't a right or wrong way to get through it. Just a moment at a time. The best way to get through it, in my opinion, is with Christ, His word, and those people He places in your life that don't push you.
So, with that said. I have thought about some of the ways I have dealt with my grief, in this second year since he died. (that is just crazy that is has already been over a year)
2. Church- if you are a believer, you must be involved and committed to the body of Christ. It is not always easy. I will tell you that there have been times, while at church, that I have broken down, but in my church, I haven't ever felt out of place or weird. I have always been loved on and supported.
(if you need a place like this, let me know and I will get you connected here at Family Life) Whether it is during baby dedication day, just seeing sweet little baby boys in our church, babies in general, whatever, if I am hurting, I have support. I can go by the office anytime for prayer, to talk, or to just visit. Also, serving others, even in your own grieving time, helps. It really does. It gets your focus off of your grief and your hurt and turns your attention to others and what you can do for them.
3. Small Group- this goes along with church, but if you do not have a small group/life group/home group or Sunday school class or group of women you can meet with regularly, find one. This helps in so many ways. You can be connected to people, who may not understand your grief, but they have life events that have happened, they have a love for you, for coming around you in prayer, etc and can support you. This is important even if you haven't gone through grief, just life can be hard and you need support in a small group environment.
4. Outreach- find ways to remember your loved one, by serving in their name, staying connected to things they loved or were involved in, and giving back in honor of them. We still love to go to Cook Children's Medical Center and take treats to the Cardiac ICU. We love to give to Ronald McDonald House in Noah's memory and we love to reach out and tell Noah's story here on our blog and on our FB page, A Momma's Heart, so that heart families can feel connected and that someone understands where they are at, somehow.
5. Fun- find ways to have fun. Do not feel guilty for having fun either. You must find ways to spend time with family and friends. I have found that nail painting night with the girls is refreshing, relaxing and I even have moments to share my heart if needed, with women that love me and don't mind if I'm having a hard day. Family fun nights are always nice. A movie night, time at the park, doing a craft, working in the yard, whatever you can find to do, do it and soak up the moments.
6. Crying- Do it. Let it out. Don't bottle it in or stifle your pain. Let them flow, freely. The only way to keep growing in your faith, through the pain, to let out the struggle and to feel unburdened is to let the tears come. My Dad taught me that tears are words from the Holy Spirit - (In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. Romans 8:26)
7. Dream- Don't feel like just because your child died that you cannot ever have a good life again. I am learning that I must keep dreaming, setting goals and pushing myself to better things, BECAUSE of my child and his life. If I just sat around sad and mopey about my life all the time, I would be doing such an dishonor to my son and his life. He fought every day for his life and he was an amazing little yet mighty warrior. Why wouldn't I fight every day of my life for greatness, for betterment and for what God wants for me and my family. Christ calls us to do our best, plus some. I do not want to muddle through life, complaining and thinking that nothing will ever change or I will be in some suffering hole for the rest of my earthly days. Make the most of each day and when the hard days come, try to find the blessings, but rest in the fact that each new day starts with new mercies.
8. Holidays- Make new traditions, keep old ones. Mother's Day is approaching and I can't help but think about all the mothers who are still grieving the loss of their child. Last year, a friend of ours, who was in the middle of an adoption process wrote in her blog of this subject and it was beautiful. Holidays can be burdensome and tough, but I am trying to work, this week, on how I am going to approach it. Everyone will be posting their Mother's Day pictures of their own mothers, of their children giving them breakfast in bed, flowers they got, cards and treats. In all of this, I can't help but scream in my spirit that I DON'T GET TO HAVE ALL OF MY CHILDREN HERE WITH ME. IT'S NOT FAIR. But, if I can deal with that early this week, with the Lord and prepare myself for some of that emotion and hardship, I can approach this Mother's Day with grace and be thankful that I have TWO children. Whether or not one is here or not doesn't make me any less of his mother. So I will go on and on about both of my children, as much as I possibly can, forever! Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthdays, anniversaries.... THEY GIVE YOU REASON TO CELEBRATE, BAKE THINGS, PLAN A PARTY, USE SPRINKLES, BUY A NEW OUTFIT, SURPRISE SOMEONE, GIVE SOMEONE HURTING A SPECIAL GIFT OR JUST A HUG. Use holidays to make much of your life! I plan to make this Mother's Day a happy one, for SO many reasons.
9. Spousal support- Grief and child loss can reek havoc on a marriage if you let it. Nick and I are still in the middle of dealing with lots of different aspects of grief and "moving on" after child loss. So much of the grief does come from my side of our marriage, at least in the most obvious ways such as emotions, struggle with guilt, deep pains to hold my son, questioning myself in all the decisions we had to make. So much of my grief is personal to the point that I question if I was punished for something in my life, with having to lose a child. So much of grief is dealing with all of that and to have a spouse that is so supportive in those times is vital. On the other hand, I have had to apologize and tell Nick that I had not realized how mean I had gotten, how snippy and rude I had been. We have to be aware of ourselves in our grief, so that we do not push away the people we need the most. I have learned to recognize Nick's needs more as well, when I am aware of how I am dealing with my grief at the time. I won't speak for Nick, in detail, but I know that so much of his grieving was happening during Noah's life. He could not be with Noah all the time like I was, he was still working full time, being a single dad to Ava at home, traveling every weekend, etc. He dealt with so much while Noah was alive, that when he died, Nick automatically felt some relief because he knew Noah was healed and whole, I could come back home and be a part of our family again, Ava had her mommy back home and Nick had wholeness again. That doesn't mean he doesn't grieve the loss of our son, his son. It just means that we grieve differently. I have recognized that and it has helped me to not question his strength or lack of emotion. Learn to communicate your needs and your struggles so your spouse can help you and know where you are at.
10. Gratitude- Be thankful. Even in the midst of the darkest days of your grieving, find SOMETHING to be thankful for. Find something that you are grateful for and focus your heart. There are times when I get so jealous of families who have alive, healthy and whole babies, especially little boys. I immediately have to focus my heart and be thankful that my son no longer suffers, his eternity is secure and I will get to be with him again. I have to remember how much Noah did in his short life to inspire and make great the name of God. I have to remember how much Noah has and continues to do for myself and others. He inspires, encourages, convicts and brings joy. Still. Find the things in your life that bless it and thank God for them! Ava, my sunshine and right hand girl .I thank God for her and her endless joy, laughter and brightness. God knew to give her to me first so I would have a constant joy, precious hugs, kisses and sweet words of encouragement. I am thankful for my husband who provides for us, makes me laugh, keeps me grounded and never ceases to love our little girl. I'm thankful for family and their endless support and love. I'm thankful for friends and their gracious hearts and kind spirits when I am down and hurting. I am thankful for our church who constantly teaches us to worship and be thankful, to press into Him and to share Him with others. They love us and our son. I am so thankful for all of these things. How can I stay sad all the time with so much to be thankful for? So, stay focused on gratitude.
I pray that you find some of this to be helpful. I am certain that God continues to teach me so I can share with you. If we can help you get through a rough patch, let us know. You can contact us through the blog. If we can share our entire story with you, your small group or church, we would love to share our son and our story so that Christ can be lifted high. Let us know how we can minister to you in anyway.
Thursday, April 10, 2014
Monday, March 10, 2014
I watched my 2 and a half year old daughter struggle and then conquer her frustration and fear of that ladder, but she didn't just decide she would do it, she didn't even really do it by herself. Her daddy suggested and pushed her to try, he guarded her back, stretched out his hand to her when she needed that last grab before both feet were safely on the platform. She then exclaimed that she did it and was so happy. Her daddy agreed, "Alright! Yes you did! Way to go, I'm so proud!". He didn't correct her and say, "actually dear, I convinced you to get on it at all, then helped you half way up and there at the end, you would have fallen if I hadn't of grabbed your hand". He didn't need to. He knows his job as her Daddy and he does it without reminding Ava of the details in which he did everything. His job is to teach Ava, extend his hand when needed, have her back in protection and then praise her when she accomplishes a goal, conquers a fear or simply completes a task. He is to bless her by celebrating her accomplishments and remind her that she is able, capable and less afraid than she might think.
I relate to my daughter. So many times in my life, I know I have doubted myself, screamed "God I cannot do this! I cannot make it through. I can't do what you're asking me to" if I had listened closer, I might have heard him saying, "Shaina, you're ALREADY DOING IT". It is a lesson I have learned on different levels as life has gone by. I sat in bed last night and went through the journal(s) I kept while being in the hospital with Noah. There were lots of times when I would pray, "God I cannot keep doing this, I can't continue, I don't know how to be, how to pray, how to trust" as I read those things last night, I realized, He was whispering to me, "you will, you are being exactly who I need you to be for your family, you're praying right now, just by seeking me you're trusting me." I know that in the middle of the storms in life, we tend to doubt, question and wonder where God is. We sometimes frantically think he has left us all together and somehow we think we've earned the right to "tell God how it is". Perhaps though, maybe God is right there, right behind us, guarding our back, guiding us up the blue twisty ladder, watching us grow as we do the hard thing he has asked us to do, all to extend his hand at the proper time and then celebrate with us when we reach the top, smiling at us and blessing us with his affirmation and love.
I guess I just feel as though there are days where I feel like I say, "God, I can't do this. I can't climb this ladder. I can't keep trudging through the hard nights, the hurt my heart feels when I imagine a life we won't ever have with our son. I can't keep going through the years wondering how things would be, all the while, my other baby is not so much a baby anymore and is growing up in stature and character. Is time passing me by Lord, so quickly that I can't even think straight? Lord, I cannot keep smiling when I really want to cry. I can't keep taking steps away from the last time I held him. It only gets further away. ....after awhile I remember and I hear him saying, "you are doing this. As you are getting further from the last time you held that boy, you are getting closer to the time when you won't ever have to let him go again and in that place there won't be a tear shed. You are smiling in my joy and it's ok to cry through the nights, as much as you need."
So, maybe you find yourself on the blue twisty ladder today. You're screaming, "GOD I CAN'T DO THIS", you're climbing the ladder of suffering through illness, you're climbing the blue twisty ladder of grief, you can't breathe today because you miss them so much, you're head is spinning from all the chores, kids' activities, mouths to feed, things to get done, you'r weary of being home with your children day in and day out, you are wondering when you'll get a breath of fresh air and he is whispering in your ear, "you're already doing it, I'm right here."
It is never that we are to do it on our own as he stands by and watches us struggle, just throwing out a suggestion here and there. No, he is right there, his breath upon the back of your neck, his hand guiding you, but not pushing you. He is your encourager, your guide, your safety net, your Daddy. He will push us into things we would never ever ever choose for ourself, guide us through, celebrate when we come through it and then let us enjoy ourselves on the things we do choose and enjoy the most. Did Ava have to be convinced to climb up that ladder again? Not really. She looked at it and saw what she did, not what she thought she couldn't anymore. So, be encouraged, friend. He didn't leave you, he hasn't left you and he will never fail you. If anything, he is letting you grow, working out your fears and struggles, with his quiet help, because He is wanting you to learn that He didn't mess up on you, He has and will always equip you where you're at, but you have to trust Him in it all. Keep climbing, dear one. The top will come sooner than you think. Then you will look back at the blue twisty ladder and laugh. "YA! I did it!"and all the while, God will be smiling and celebrating with you.
Remember, you didn't do it all. You didn't even choose that ladder. He chose you. He guided you. He brought you to a place where you could be proud of yourself, excited and full of joy. You climbed the ladder, you conquered your fear, but you were never ever on your own. Give him the honor, give him your celebration and your praise. He is a GOOD daddy.
Just don't jump off because you quit. Don't bail. Don't give up. The celebration to come at the top will be worth all the steps it takes to get there.
The next time you face a blue twisty ladder, it might still be intimidating, but you'll know what you're made of and who has your back.