Just the other day I went out to wait for my kids to get off the bus. I slipped on my muck boots and rain gear as the clouds opened up to unleash a downpour on my departure to the bus stop. I fought the rain trying to remain dry and enclosed in my rain get up as I first set out to fetch eggs, pick strawberries and some tomatoes for dinner.
I headed toward the drive way to await the girls arrival home and noticed a clearing in the clouds. It was raining but admits the downpour was light brightly shining through as the clouds began to open up.
I took off my hood amazed at the sheer beauty of the moment and no longer hid but allowed the water to engulf my face. It felt refreshing and delightful as I let the droplets trickle down my face.
It reminded me of an earlier event that happened this summer. I had set out to head somewhere and looked toward my garden. It had rained the previous day and prior everything had look dried up, brittle and barely hanging on. After the rain it looked like my garden had a major revival. It was like a magic growing potion had been poured in the soil. We all know that’s really not the case (my little homestead is organic, Yo), but I was amazed at the beauty, vibrance of color and growth that happened with just one rainfall.
Our Souls go through periods of drought and God’s living water has the ability to bring revival to our weary Souls.
The last three and a half years I feel like I have been dying of thirst. Digging through a pit that often hasn’t made sense. Asking God to quench my thirst and to heal my broken heart. What I had to realize is that healing takes time. Healing begins with simply sitting with God and receiving his love.
“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” John 7: 37-38
I climbed into my car that day in early June and thought! Is this it, God did you bring me through the pit, muck and mire? I must of arrived on the other side of grief. Did you revive me?
You see, I got pretty comfortable in the pit. Grief is all my body has known now for sometime and to be quite honest I didn’t want to let go. Letting go of my daughters death simply would bring about much more change and our life’s dreams have already been drastically altered, shattered and I simply couldn’t deal with any more change. The last year has been a power struggle of handing over my daughter completely to God and then taking her back.
“I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie! You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; non can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell them, yet they are more than can be told. ” Psalm 40:1-5
I was holding myself in the bondage of grief. Held hostage unable to grow and my roots stunted and the plant stagnant. I needed rain, lots of rain and only the fertilizer that God can provide. His promises endure forever and only he could water me from the fountain of life to bring back life.
The water came and it seemed like for awhile I was in a mud pit. Slipping back and forth and trying to let go and conquer. Barely hanging on God threw me a rope one afternoon during my prayer time and led me to:
Isaiah 54:2 “Enlarge the place of your tent; stretch out the curtains of your dwellings spare not; lengthen your cords and strengthen your pegs.”
It had been time for awhile. To let go. To move to the next chapter. I had to sit in grief, feel it all, and process through.
What God has shown me is that he can rise anything from the dead. Just like he bore on all the pain, sin and suffering of every single soul. He see’s us in our pain and if we allow him in those places and sit with him he turns our mourning into joy.
Jesus rose up off the cross and it’s a beautiful representation of how he rises us up out of the toughest situations. Out of the pit, he waters our souls, and he puts a new song into our mouths.
As I’ve waited patiently I’ve witness the beauty that comes from ashes as my weary soul marvels at Gods Work.
It is time to be bold and give away what God has blessed me with through the purpose and remebrance of Angelina’s life. While we still miss her and the void will never leave until we are reunited. God has strengthen our cords and secured our steps as we move into this next season.
I am so thankful as hard as these years have been for the rock of my salvation. Our family is excited for this next season! A season of redemption, revival and a season in which adoption has been written into our story.
God has planted the seed and began writing our next chapter. Im so excited to share with you how Angelina’s life continues to be etched on our lives and how her mighty purpose gets revealed more and more each day.
We are praying for the baby God blesses us with!
One night a week we pack in the car and head to gymnastics. The smell of feet looms as we enter the gymnastics center, we usually scramble to get our kids to class and find a seat. Dennis, Amelia and I settled into a seat and couldn’t help to watch a little 18 month old baby play in the corner with her parents. She had blonde hair and blue eyes. As I glanced over at Dennis we both knew what the other was thinking without saying a word, he was watching her too. Amelia was coloring her picture and looked up.
“Mommy.” Amelia called for me. I answered yes, “I really miss my sister Angelina.” I replied, “ I really miss her too Amelia.”
I stopped hugged her and moved onto getting her ready to head to her class.
This whole post circled in my mind……
(I feel like I have a lot to share today and please let me tell you I am no grief expert. That what I have found is that everyone processes and is affected by grief differently. That you should never compare one loss to another because all are considered such huge losses no matter what the circumstances. Dennis and I keep our family life very private. What I share with you here in this space is how I have seen God actively move in my family’s life. God has called me to share, it’s uncomfortable and most importantly my hope is that our story can bring you some comfort and offer you a ray of light if you are feeling that you are in the dark).
Today Angelina would be three. Three years old. It’s such a fun age. Reflecting back to my two older girls….. It’s an age where you can laugh and giggle for no reason, the kids don’t just waddle around like they do when they first start walking they run, they get into everything, and I MEAN EVERYTHING! They learn how to pick out clothes and dress themselves. Dinner is fun because they finally can hold little silly conversations. Oh how I loved tea parties, letting my girls help me bake, and they started to show interest in digging around in the garden. I would take the girls to the track at three and they would run with me while I did intervals. Daddy time was always the best moment of the day. The pitter patter on the hard wood floors as Dennis arrived home. Squeals of excitement as the girls would hear his truck and come running directly at him as he came through the door.
I wish she was here. I miss her just like Amelia. I wish I had a cake and three tiny candles to blow out with Angelina today.
When I look back over these last three years and the past two and a half years since Angelina has been gone. I come to this place of knowing during year one, I was completely numb. Year two, I started to bring myself to a place where I knew I needed healing and during the last six months I have really just wanted to find joy again.
Grief sucks. Loss sucks. I prayed this prayer this morning. “God I really miss my daughter, help me have a joyful heart. Help me in spite of the everyday sorrow I feel to find joy amidst the pain of her absence in our family.
Grief changes you. I really can’t explain it but it does. The things that once were really important are no longer that important. Grief teaches you to come alongside of other people without any judgement, to show compassion in ways you never might think you could, and it has just taught us to love the way Jesus loves.
Last year, I typed this post and I felt like God was saying for me to bloom where I had been planted. It seemed really silly to me. How in the world could I live life among grief when I just wanted to curl up in a ball and never leave my bedroom.
You see we allow grief to be this uncomfortable thing. We run from others experiencing loss because we might not have the perfect words or never experienced what they have. Grief has taught us while we might have not experienced tough situations others may have experienced we still can listen and be a source of support.
To our family this is a part of our reality. It’s not uncomfortable because we live a life that involves a tragic loss and absence in our family every single day. Not only do we have to process grief in order to heal. We have to be present for our children while they try to process and make sense of the loss of their sister.
The thought of the future over the last three years has been foggy. To dream and hope after the loss of our child has seemed like the last thought on our mind. Trying to pick up the pieces and try to put them back together is at times very painful.
When you move through healing you are trying to figure out a new reality. Things will never be what they once were and we have accepted that.
If you ask us what we might be doing three or six months from now. Maybe we will tell you something different each time you ask. We are simply still processing. We are waiting on God’s perfect timing. For the first time ever we have learned how to be in a season of simply receiving God’s love.
Romans 5:2-5: “through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us”. (Translation: NKJV)
You see every part of our lives has been turned upside down and as we learn how to live right side up again it gives our lives an eternal perspective. The eternal is what we are preparing for and while we learn to live more for the hope of heaven and being reunited with our daughter we begin to worry less about the carnal here on earth.
As we try to have joy again I keep seeing this phrase: “Look-Up.”
“My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning I will direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.” Psalm 5:3
A little gift from Angelina from the heavens. She’s telling us to look up for our help and strength. It’s certain when we look down we are missing out on life and that she would want us to keep our head up. When you have hit the bottom, been through tragedy and the toughest parts of life what is there left to do but, look up.
I have taken this two word term to the heart. My friends this life is but a vapor. So, stop wasting it on the things that simply don’t matter. I’m going to say this again. Let’s stop wasting our life on moment’s that don’t matter.
“ Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your Life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” -James 4:14 (Translation NKJV)
Angelina has taught us how to cling to Jesus and to make our moments count. This is still hard to do on those rocky days grief throws our way but we are trying with all our might.
On Angelina’s Third birthday we are going to make our moments count. Even the ones that involve tears because tears are the truest sign of the love we hold for our loved ones that have gone to soon.
Over this last year I finally realized that when a flower comes to bloom it looks up toward the sun. God is the light that shines ever so bright in the darkness and it’s his light that helps us bloom. When we try with all our might to love the way he loves us we give off a sweet smelling aroma wherever we go.
“In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life. But those on the way to destruction treat us more like the stench from a rotting corpse”. -2 Corinthians 2:14 (Translation: The Message)
As we learn to receive his love and we are able to love like him it enables us to be Jesus to those who desperately need him.
We are going to live with an eternal perspective, Angelina, and in honor of you try our best to make our moment’s count.
I recently came across this quote. So don’t be discouraged. Never Give up. Bloom where your planted. What you do has eternal significance in God’s eyes. -DHR
As I slip off my fuzzy slippers and crawl into bed the moment my head hits the pillow the quietness of the night starts to surround me as my eyes remain wide open.
It’s then that my mind starts to spin like the wheels on a car. With what could have been and what is now.
I think of life while I was pregnant with Angelina, her birth, her beautiful 6 months here with us, her passing and life now.
None of this is what I planned. In my mind I had this plan for our life. I am such a routine person and all these things I had planned. This simple perfect life. This doesn’t seem to line up with my expectation of what was supposed to be my family’s life.
Then in the quietness I lay in bed as the crickets sound like a symphony outside my bedroom window and I think to myself.
This isn’t what I planned, but I wouldn’t change it for a second. It’s not what could have been but so much more. I wouldn’t trade this life God has mapped out for me for our life.
The hard and messy is when we learn to cling and turn to God the most in life.
As I rise because I just have to get these words down on paper because I can’t stop thinking and also because I made homemade double chocolate brownies and didn’t workout today (I never can sleep if I don’t workout). I quietly walk up the stairs to Angelina’s room.
The door it always had a creak and still does. I try to open it just right not to wake the girls who are sleeping. I grab a blanket etched in blue and yellow given to me by a dear friend and slip into my desk chair in my new office.
It’s been about six weeks since we unbolted the baby crib and took the mattress out. It was such a sad day. The place where I rocked all my baby girls. The place where I snuggled them and gave them the nurturing love that a mother gives her child.
Now I sit here clicking away on keyboard in that very same place. With Angelina’s and my other daughters memories sitting all around my desk.
It was hard to make this move in my grieving process but there is truly and never would be the right time to take these tiny steps. You just muster up the strength and do it.
It felt right and I feel so safe and comforted in this tiny nursery, forever Angelina’s room as the girls still call it.
As I sit here in the darkness and stillness of the night I keep having this recurring memory to a visit from my Aunt and Uncle back to when we had been home close to three weeks with Angelina and they stopped to visit. It was after Christmas and a few days before Angelina went into Acute respiratory failure and I rushed her to the hospital.
We were visiting and my Uncle looked at me and said: “ what is normal anyway.” We laughed because he is just a fun-loving guy and he brought a lot of truth to a situation in which we were trying to figure out how to care and do life with Angelina at home.
It’s seems like just when we found a new normal, how to care for Angelina and helped her thrive and accepted we would be faced with the challenge that she could be chronically ill that things again changed and we would be finding ourselves facing a new challenge of life without Angelina.
It seemed like so many people said I would find this new normal and that life will never be the same without her and I think of a brief memory from Angelina’s calling hours, I don’t recall much except my back hurt from hugging people and one women a distant relative told me I’ll never get over this.
I have been waiting for my new normal over the last year. It hasn’t made it’s grand entrance, I’m still trying to make sense of this and yes you are probably right lady, I’ll never get over this.
However in the last passing few months. I have come to this conclusion that normal is a word that I would like to toss out of the dictionary at this point and that healing and redemption could take it’s place.
I am ready to heal and yes I will never get over this because how does any mother who looses a baby she carried in her womb, birthed, nurtured, loved and gave her all to really get over moving through life with empty restless arms.
My arms ache, they ache for my sweet baby, every single day.
Healing not normal is what I am ready for. This last year has been an up and down cycle of highs and lows. As year two begins there is no new normal, it’s truly about meeting grief where I’m at on any given day at any given time.
It’s about embracing this season instead of searching for this normal. It’s about finally unleashing bottled up grief and after a year and a half crying with close friends and family. It’s not about making sense of this situation because I will never understand Why, God took my child away but realizing that through proper healing and restoration that he will continue to use Angelina’s life and story to impact lives every single day.
This summer as corny as this sounds and you can make fun of me for all that matter. I feel like as I wager with God and ask him Why, What, Where do you want me. WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO WITH THIS.
He says, Michelle bloom. Trust me, be still, heal, and bloom right where I have planted you.
If you know me I love flowers, you can find me barefoot in the garden on most afternoons in the summer and I haven’t gardened much in the last two years. I have no energy to can this year which breaks my heart.
But the girls and I planted tiny little flowers and they have flourished and bloomed with little attention and hardly any rain.
When I look at them, I keep hearing God Say : Bloom. Just like these flowers you barely watered there were brittle, weak, and I grew them. Let me water your soul and bring strength to your brittle bones and joy to your heart again.
When I look at my girls I see Angelina, as I tie Ava’s hair in a pony tail the back of her neck looks exactly the same as Angelina’s and Amelia’s abnormally long tongue hangs out while she concentrates as she colors and I chuckle inside. Angelina is here, she is all around us and this is always going to be hard and it’s ok if I never get over this but I can learn how to live with the pain. I am ready to experience joy and the simple things God blesses us with each day to bring beauty to this tough life again.
I am ready to begin to heal. With that still comes the grieving, depression, extremely hard days and I think Mary Beth Chapman says it best in her book: Choosing to See:
“Even in this free fall of pain, I’ve landed on a solid foundation and my faith has held…..on most days. I have learned That God is good….always. Hope is real. I have found even in the awful pain of tears and grief so intense you think it will kill you that my family and I can do hard. We’ll never get over our loss, but wer’re getting through it. And so I have prayed that our journey through the shadows of loss might be of some help to those who have experienced similar pain.”
Today I decided I am ready to bloom right here in the mist of my grief, and my prayer is for those who are struggling with life’s hardships that you to can bloom right where God has planted you.
God he keeps reminding me of his almighty power. He has the ability to heal me if I allow him to and to completely surrender the unbearable to him. A mothers love has kept me from that surrender, it has kept me from wanting to let go. My stubborn heart has shown how deep that love flows for our children and over the last month God has shown me that in surrender I will find healing and peace. That I can turn the pain into sweet memories. That God’s purpose is greater than my pain. That my continual hope is in heaven when I will see God and be reunited with Angelina again.
For those who walk the road of miscarriage, infant and child-loss October 15 is a day to bring awareness, for the 1 in 4 women affected by pregnancy and infant loss, this post is dedicated to all of the sweet babies and children who left this earth entirely to soon. Sweet friends as my knee’s hit the floor often and I cry out to God to take this my heart is breaking with you. Continue to look up. When your strength fails you God will carry you.