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,
S

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 
BEGINNING. 

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

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

9.24.12

9.24.12

everytime I called up to the unit to check on Noah if I was in my room or away for a little while, I would have to give them his DOB as like a "password". I said it all the time. When I would consent for a procedure or whatever, they would ask for it. I mean, if I didn't already know it because he was my child, it was forever engrained because of the 5 months of saying it.

Today is 9.24.14 and he's not here, I don't have to check on him, and I'm sad today. I am trying to allow the Lord to bring me joy and I am so thankful for all the love poured out by friends and family over us today. I am very thankful, but honestly, I'm sad. I'm just ruined by the tangible longing to celebrate him, his LIFE and its hard when he's dead. My momma heart just wants to scoop him up and tickle him all over, kiss his face until he can't stand it and have birthday party to remember for all time... I don't need a pep talk about how he is in a better place, he's rejoicing with the angels, he's having the best birthday party in heaven. I know all of that.  I rejoice in that, but right now, this morning, right around the time he was born, I just want him. I want him, his smell, his smile, his cheeks, his warmth.


A very special friend of mine wrote me the other day and in the message was the following:
"But I truly believe your ultimate momma accomplishment was being the comforter and caretaker of a little life that needed you. You did it with grace. You did it with passion and energy and smarts. It is completed. Your reward will come, but take comfort in knowing there is a portion of your motherhood experience that you rocked! The journey is over for mothering Noah, and even thought that brings tears and pain, it also brings a sense of peace.Rest in the fact that the Lord sustained you as you loved Noah. He sustained you to feel that deeply and equipped you to walk that road.  Although the mothering is finished, the mother is not. You will never stop being Noah's mommy and he will never stop being your son. The physical act of comforting is no longer needed, but the mark that left on you is there. It will always be there. You will always feel so deeply about your son. The part of you that is Noah's mommy does not go away because he passed away. Some days you might need to curl up as Noah's mommy and just let the feelings flood you. Let the pain sting and the aches overcome you. Always always be weary under the protection of the lord, but be weary none the less. You can't go through a journey like Noah's and someday wake up completely "over it." You are ruined, sweet momma. You will forever be Noah's mommy and that will forever bring a flood of emotion, good and bad. I know you consider it an honor. But be reminded that the pain of Noah's death also means the joy of his life. It means we got to meet him. We got to smile with him. We got to touch him. It wasn't long enough, but it was. I am so thankful for his little life and I will never forget him! Love you!"


Wrecked. To have someone in my life that would pour that kind of encouragement into me. They nailed it on the head. That paragraph is how I want to remember Noah's 2nd birthday. Each time we come to his birthday or his day of death, I know God will have me at a new place, learning a new thing and reflecting in a different way. 

Noah being born, means he lived. He was mine for a short time, I will celebrate that. He helped move people closer to the Father, I will celebrate that. He made me better and still does, I will celebrate that. While it thunderstorms I will consider it the overflow of the heavenly party. As cheesy as it sounds and however much my flesh wants to fight it and wallow in my own pity party... I will thank the Lord. 

I want to thank each of you who have been so sweet to text, Facebook message or post to us. Your love and thoughtfulness makes us so thankful and happy. We cannot imagine doing life without y'all and your support.

Thanks and love!
Noah's mommy

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Our Miracle Didn't Come...

Noah would have been 2 this month. He died though. See, when you look at it from a pretty narrow point of view, his miracle didn't come. Our prayers didn't work. He died. His miracle for a healed heart did not happen.
I hate to say that there are days when I struggle with this to the point of tears. I was scrolling through some heart images today trying to prepare for going to Ft Worth by getting cards made for the goody bags. I came across a logo that said, "Noah's Mighty Heart". It was very well designed and so I clicked it of course. It was obviously a website/blog to update people on a baby named Noah, who has HLHS. I read a little bit. I emailed the mom and just told her that we had a Noah who had HLHS and that my prayers were with them in their journey. I then saw the most recent post, that I hadn't read. It was called Miraculous Healing. I read and weeped. You can probably assume from the title what happened for them. They went to a prayer service at their church, were prayed over and then the next dr appt they had, the sonogram went normal until the Dr looked and said, "the left ventricle looks really good. are you sure you have the HLHS diagnosis?" This dr was not their normal dr, so he wasn't sure if there was a mistake or something.

I couldn't handle it anymore. I closed the browser and just sat there. Tears streaming down my face, I tried to hold them back, but I was jealous, I immediately wondered what we did wrong to not get that miracle. We knew going into every sonogram that we could look on that screen and see a healed heart. We never did. We never did see Noah have a healed heart. Until the day he died.

I suppose I have every right to be upset and jealous. I can whine and throw my tantrum I suppose. I just feel so convicted that even though we didn't get that 1 miracle. I can tell you that in my Noah's life, he experienced more than 1. You can read through the previous posts about what all God did in Noah's short life. He could have died during his first surgery, he could have died during the cardiac arrest he went through, he could have died during pacemaker surgery, he could have died during the Glen surgery, he finally did die, but God gave us time with him on multiple occasions where it seemed bleak. I cannot deny the fact that Noah got miracles. Just, not the one we wanted...

I want to curl up in bed and weep for awhile. I miss my boy. He died. He didn't get a healed heart, I didn't get to hold him the day he was born, blah blah, same old story. I know.

I have been convicted recently of giving God my leftovers by having quiet time at night. So, this morning I got up a bit early and had some time in the word and journal. I came to a scripture I have loved. I found it and loved it during the time I was weeping daily, for my son, in the hospital and after he died. It was a nice piece to my morning quiet time, but I didn't realize God was giving me the strength, before the heart break was coming this morning.

You have kept count of my tossings;[a]
    put my tears in your bottle.
    Are they not in your book?
Psalm 56:8

See, God had my heart in his hands and prepared me for the hard time this morning reading that good news of someone I don't even know.... He puts each of my tears in his bottle. There are times when the pain still stings so much I just don't want to function. Yet, he sees me, he knows me and if I will continue to trust that, He will see me through every hard moment. Why did we not get our miracle healing in the womb? Why did we not see his goodness before 5 months of struggle, fight and heartbreak? Why do I not get to see my son grow and develop.... I am trusting that it was not a lack of faith that didn't get Noah his miracle healing, because God himself hand picked my Noah to live the life he did, the way he did, for a mightier purpose than I will ever know. 

I'm not sure where you're struggling today, but maybe you need to hear that he holds every tear, he has counted them and he knows. He loves you. He has this. 

you can read more about this here...HIS BOTTLE OF TEARS
love and tears,
Noah's mommy

Thursday, July 17, 2014

#simplify14

We move into a new house today.  We have had quite the adventure the last 2 months with this and so we are just truly blessed to be getting this close to the finish line.
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;
Shaina

Monday, July 14, 2014