Thursday, June 4, 2009

May Day

  Well we made it through Brinley's birthday again. She would be four and somehow I can picture that she would have been begging to ride the bus to school with Haley, learning to ride her bike with no training wheels, roughing her brother Nathaniel up one minute only to mother him the next. All things that I'm missing out on here but hope to catch up on one day in heaven. 
  Her birthday wasn't nearly as hard this year as last. I was super excited to help in planning a graduation party for a friend of mine. When the date was decided Eric took one look at it and mentioned that we couldn't because it was Brinley's birthday. I know that he was trying to protect me from something that had potential to be difficult but I reminded him that we can't let life stop forever even on those special days. As we packed up the kids and some food for the party I was so thankful for the decision that we made. Of course I missed making over her on her special day but spending my energy serving someone else for the day just made it easier. I believe wholeheartedly that God designed us that way. When we glorify Him through serving others, when we dwell less on our own situations, maybe it helps us to be a little less miserable. 
  Please be in prayer for my "blog friend" Kristy. I don't know how to link in my text but her blog is in the list on my sidebar. It is called "Waiting for Happy." This girl has spoken volumes to me in what it means to trust that God is faithful no matter your circumstances. I was thrilled to find out that she named her new baby girl Hope as we have plans to use that as a middle name for our impending arrival. I immediately wrote to her I was so excited to share. We chose that name because the words hope and joy are so tangible to our family now that we have lost a loved one. These words have new meaning to us, and so we continue to choose to search out hope and joy every day here in the meantime.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Brinley's Gift

My husband and I had the opportunity to go to a very special ceremony this last weekend. It was a ceremony for the families of people who had donated organs this past year. I'm not sure I fully understood what the ceremony was all about until we got there and started looking over the program. I had originally thought that the group was just asking for permission to share Brinley's picture in a slideshow. It was so much more than that. The entire program was an effort to let the families know how valued their loved one's gift of organ donation was. There were brief testimonies of some who were organ recipients. One girl was 16 years old and one statement that she made really stuck out. She said that she truly knows what being thankful means. In a world that is so self-focused it is unusual for a teenager to grasp being truly thankful, but she does and I'm so thankful that she shared that with us. It made me feel like Brinley's donations were all worthwhile to someone. 
I wasn't particularly thrilled about attending this event maybe in part because I knew that it would be emotionally draining to some degree. I was however holding it together fairly well until my husband shared something that he had been working through. He said that he was thinking about all of the award ceremonies that we expect to attend for all of the kids that this would be the only one for our girl Brinley. He was right and here I was not even wanting to go. Although it was certainly something that I had never anticipated going to in my lifetime I was so very proud of my girl when we were there. 
I had someone ask me if it was a difficult decision to donate her organs. It is so hard for me to answer that. My thoughts continue to be that Brinley was a gift to us. I have always prayed that if anything my children are a blessing to other people. I don't care if they are popular, gifted, or athletically inclined. I just want for them to be a blessing so I have no choice but to share them with others. So to answer the question, it gives me comfort to know that even in her death Brinley was a blessing to someone else because I shared her.

Monday, March 23, 2009

12 Months

What does this grief look like twelve months out? Well, I guess that there are days where it doesn't looks a whole lot different than when I first started out. Then there are days where as much as I still miss Brinley I feel that God has something in store for me... something beautiful, something lovely, if I just have the strength to walk through this pain.
Our church is studying the book of Ephesians and some of the scripture that our pastor discussed this week really hit home. As Christians we have spiritual powers that many in the church aren't aware of or just don't claim. I have to be honest, many times I find myself putting God in a box. I worry that the pain will get to be intolerable. At what point will I fall apart? When will the facade of healing shatter? More often than not I think that it boils down to me relying on my own strength to plow through this. Paul reveals a mystery to us in Ephesians 3: 14-16 and it has been resting heavily on my heart since yesterday.
"For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in earth and heaven is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be STRENGTHENED with might through His Spirit in the inner man."
It is not my strength that carries me through this and what Christian wouldn't know that truth or at least acknowledge it? I know that God is bigger than me. What I'm not doing is relying on this revealed mystery. I'm not waking every morning praying for His Spirit to strengthen me before I even get out of bed. I don't have to worry whether I am strong enough or if I will be broken forever if I just pray for His strength to fill me.
So Brinley's "Heaven Day" passed us by the 13th of March. Sure enough true to everything I've read the days leading up to it are worse than the actual day. My family did our best to celebrate Brinley's life by sneaking away to the Great Wolf Lodge, a hotel with indoor water park. I made sure that there was a gift and note waiting for each of the kids "from Brinley" on her day. Yes it is difficult to know that my children are receiving a gift only because of her death. Sometimes I feel like it is a desperate attempt to help them remember their sister and love her even still, but I also desire for something sweet to come out of that day too.
When we came home I found a card in our mailbox letting us know that several dear friends had placed flowers and balloons on Brinley's grave for us. It might seem simple but it really meant a lot to us. For one thing, I have not been able to take things down to her grave. I don't decorate for the holidays. Part of me hates the fact that putting flowers on her grave is the only thing that I can do to care for her anymore. So I neglect to do it altogether and then when we arrive to her site I feel guilty that I didn't do anything for her. Having someone drive all the way into the city to do that for me was wonderful. My sweet friend shared with me that when she went down to place the arrangement she sat on the bumper of her car and just bawled. I was so thankful that she shared that with me. It validates every single bit of pain that I have felt this past year. It also made this mama's heart proud that others loved her and miss her too.
I'm sorry if this post seems all over the place. It might help if I were to get on here more but with being pregnant and caring for three small ones I don't seem to find the time. We did go to our 5 month ultrasound. As far as they can tell baby looks good but they also had a hard time getting a picture of all four chambers of the heart. My Dr. reassured me that he thinks that it is fine but that they want to do another ultrasound this next month. I know that I am not exempt from more heartache just because I have lost one child. So until then if you feel so inclined to pray with me for the Spirit to place His strength in me I would really appreciate it.
Also, I am not able to share a great deal about the man who hit Brinley last March, but I do know that he has endured a much harder year than I considered myself to have gone through. I just ask that if you think of me and my family at any point could you include him in your prayers as well? As strange as it may sound I worry over him.
Thanks so much to everyone who let me know that they were praying this last month. Your prayers were truly felt!

Monday, February 23, 2009


March is coming quickly. I'm not sure how we have gotten this far out from that day. It seems like the year has just been a whirlwind and then again like time stands still. I could use prayer over a few things. Please know that from the beginning of this journey there was not one thing that someone could say to us to make us feel an ounce better except for that they were praying for us. 
So here goes: One, that we are able to find joy even though these coming weeks are full of memories of our last days with Brinley. Two, that I am able to think of something to do that honors her memory... even if it is something small. Three, that as the day approaches I am able to plan a sweet time to enjoy my family as they are now, not as I wish we could have been. Also that as I prepare my heart that I don't try to fill myself with a false sense of control. Four, one unspoken concern for the driver who hit Brinley. He has been heavy on my heart these last few weeks.
I'm not sure what March will look like until it is here. So whether or not I'm in a state of denial I just try to focus on today. 

Thursday, January 29, 2009

He Gives and Takes Away- But He Gives!

Payton Corinne- 2 years
Brinley Yvonne- 2 years
My girls adore the older girls at church. It is no wonder since Eric and I used to help with the Jr. High group at church and we spent so much time with them. Haley once proclaimed that when she grows up she wants to be a Jr. High girl. She is five and wishes that she had a cell phone of her own, a facebook page, and wonders aloud if she will have braces one day. It is no surprise to me that we have pictures of my girls emulating some of their favorite Jr. High girls, Abby and Olivia, by snagging their glasses and posing. What did catch me off gaurd was the way that they look next to one another. The first is of my girl Corinne and the second is her sister Brinley. Oh how I have cried over that picture of my girl. It takes me back to such a carefree and happy time. I wanted it all back... the mousy little voice that carried through our house, the friendship that only sisters can provide one another with, one more little head of blonde hair to style before church... I miss it all.
What I see in these two little pictures are both great sorrow and great joy enmeshed. I prayed for many many months that God would give that boisterous two year old back to our family. And through my sadness I can see that this prayer will never be answered to my liking in this lifetime. Yet God does answer prayers. We do not have a two year old Brinley back in our arms, but we do have a lively two year old Corinne whose mannerisms and mousy voice so closely resemble her older sister. She will never replace Brinley but somehow she is taking us back to that place where we are carefree and happy once again.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I'm workin' on it

It has been brought to my attention that I have never even mentioned my own name on my blog! Although I will always be Brinley's mama, I go by another name too. So I finally figured out how to make a signature! Now if only I could get around to figuring out how to make a button! It is on my "to do" list but not imperative as with so many things in my life now.
I was talking to a very dear friend of mine this morning. She spent a lot of time on me in the weeks and months after Brinley died. She listened to my deepest hurts, my anger, my rambling for as long and as often as I needed. In those early days one of my biggest fears was that my grief would be overwhelming to others. Yet she knew how to listen without judgement mostly because she spent time in the same boat that I am in. She lost her sweet girl the same year I welcomed my Brinley into this world. I did not know this girl before my own tragedy although I vaguely remember praying for her when the news of her loss was put on our prayer chain at church. I do remember praying for this sweet family and being so very thankful for mine. Who knew our paths would one day cross? Four different people asked her to contact me and I have a feeling that The Holy Spirit nudged her in my direction too. I'm so thankful that she listened.
When we spoke again this morning I was telling her about a recent book that I have read by Beth Moore, "Get Out of That Pit." This book spoke so much to me after losing Brinley. She directly addresses that sometimes we are just thrown into these deep pits. Not by anything that we have done or not done- just by life and Satan working so hard in this fallen world. She commented that we should make no mistake that the people who are thrown into these pits work daily just to climb out and then stay out. My first response in those early days was, "Hallelujah! There is a light at the end of this dark tunnel, and God will restore me one day. I won't feel this despair forever!" However then I let satan work his way in somehow. Fighting to stay out of this pit? Seems a little daunting that I might have to do that for the rest of my life. What I want to know is: Will this struggle remain? This struggle to climb out of the pit? I am ten months into this grief thing and sometimes it still feels like I am at the bottom of the pit. Other times it feels like I have reached the top but I'm just clinging. I'm ok with this for a time but will it be this difficult forever? Will it always be a struggle to make that choice to stay out of the pit?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Happy New Year?

I didn't write much in December did I? Not much of anything and a whole lot of everything happened this month too. I just can't decide if it was because I was too busy with the season or if I was too busy avoiding really thinking about the season without her. Maybe a little bit of both.
As much as I dreaded Christmas without our girl there was this other part of me that continually searched for joy. My God was faithful to provide! I'm certain that this was a choice. The more I focused on seeing other families celebrate their "normal" Christmases the more I hurt. But the more I focused on what I have been blessed with this December the more joy God placed in my heart! Make no mistake that this choice on what to dwell on is not easy-and sometimes I fail miserably. But I am doing my very best.
"Finally bretheren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-meditate on these things."
- Philippians 4:8
So what's news you ask? (Ann I know that you are going to kill me for not telling you this morning at church!) This month we found out that we are expecting again! I can't express how strange it is to know that this baby would not have been had Brinley lived. I know that there will be a bittersweetness that she will not be here to greet her new brother or sister again. But I also see the blessing in new life, the beauty from ashes, and the joy that my God continues to provide.