Monday, November 24, 2008

Not Me Monday

This Week-
I did not catch my 8 month old boy making his way toward the dog food and stealthily putting a few pieces in his mouth...
Even worse than that I did not about lose it when I walked into the front room to find said 8 month old sitting next to some puppy poo, of which I was completely unaware of under the dining room table. I will leave the rest up to your imagination!
I did not drive around aimlessly in the car after putting my 5 year old on the bus because it was too cold and I was too lazy to get the two younger ones out of the car and into their respective beds... it was nap time anyway!
I'm sure I'll add more as I think of them. Or maybe I'll just save them for next week. I don't want to risk getting some sort of trophy for "world's worst mother."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Missing

  Missing Brinley is always there. It will always be a part of me, I'm told that won't change. What causes me to miss her does change from week to week. I can't narrow down what it has been these past few weeks... maybe the weather changing, maybe the holidays quickly approaching. Part of me does get worked up over the idea that she won't be here our family's favorite time of year. But then there is this other part of me that is so pragmatic. If I can bear losing my child, birthing my son, Haley's birthday, my birthday and anniversary all in the same month, I can get through any other day- even Christmas. What I am not looking forward to are all of the family dynamics that don't subside during the death of a child much less the holidays. Pray for me that I am able to extend grace to people that I don't want to extend grace to!
  So what else is new? We have taken Haley back to her grief support group. She is doing as well as a five year old can be expected I guess. We were experiencing her needing time to grieve and it would come up at places like church service. During worship songs I would look over and see her crying. She says that she remembers and misses Brinley most during the music. How excruciating it is to watch my child hurt, but at the same time what a blessing that she remembers Brinley best in that moment of worship.
  Corinne is growing and reminding us so much of her big sister. Sometimes she acts so much like her that it is hard for me to remember Brinley as Brinley and to distinguish Corinne as a different person with her own unique personality. Corinne is at an age that Brinley will forever be in our hearts. There are new things that she is doing that are so very endearing to her father and me. We spent so much time talking about the presidential election in our home that she can even say Barack Obama. Although it sounds more like, "Bawka Bawka." Watching her two year old personality unfold has caused some heartache but so much more joy.
  Nathaniel is a boy after my own heart. I have to admit that I was so angry with God for His timing when he was born. Angry that I didn't have that happy newborn time that I felt that I was entitled to. I know that he was a part of God's plan to keep our family moving forward. Apparently another part of that plan was to keep us busy and preoccupied with him as the kid has been very mobile since six months!
  I have also been feeling this pressing need to honor Brinley's memory in some way. We have always had a heart for adoption and more and more the idea just seems so fitting. In a way I think that God made room in our family for a child who needs a home. My husband and I are embarking on the path to adoption. I can't tell you how excited I am that we are on the same page about this.
  So that is where my family is right now. We are still hurting but living more in light of eternity. The economy is a bust and it seems to me like as a nation we are morally corrupt but I'm not scared. The end goal is at the forefront of my mind... it is so clear and I can hardly wait for the spectacular finish. In the missing of my girl I can't wait for heaven to come!
  On a side note, I just wanted to thank the few of you who do read this blog for the encouraging comments. I am so thankful for the prayers that you lift up on our behalf.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A God Who Attends To Me

I just spent most of the last hour crying out in the stillness of my house. It is rare for me to have this quiet time in the morning but obviously God knew that I needed it this morning. There are just these days where I feel like nothing has changed, no good has come out of Brinley's loss. I question and fight, "Do I want this change? Do I want to be refined?" Thank you very much God, but NO!
I read voraciously the stories of people who have suffered great loss and come through it changed and somehow better than before. I guess that part of me just longs to skip over the hard parts and get to the part where I am somehow better than before.
Psalm 66:10-12
"For You, O God, have tested us;
You have refined us as silver is refined.
You brought us into the net.
You have caused men to ride over our heads;
We went through fire and through water;
But you brought us out to rich fullfillment."

There it was right in God's word for me this morning. He is testing me and I am promised that I will be refined and brought to rich fulfillment in the end. I will get there I guess it just feels so very far away and out of reach. Sometimes I feel like a part of me started this blog so that I could encourage others that they can get there. How naive I was because truly I just need that encouragement myself.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

When Seasons Change

The leaves are turning here Brinley, our first Fall without you. We are taking family pictures next week in these lovely colors and you will not be in them. I feel like God just spoke to me in this moment that the colors will be lovely in the pictures and they will serve as a reminder for us of you. I have been hoping that the trees will be beautiful. Now I have my confirmation. Looking back I can see how God has been faithful in those confirmations to me. Nathaniel was a boy just like he told me. The Spring was beautiful to remind me of the beauty in your life and that I would have beauty in my life even after your death too. And now I feel like I have been promised beautiful Autumn colors to grace our family pictures to remember that your life goes on Brinley. I miss you girl. I love you and as much as I wish you were here I know that God is using this to prepare our family for eternity just like He promised me shortly after your death.
On a different note God has been revealing to me lately that as bad as I think my circumstances might be at any given time there are still others with fresher pain, with harder trials, and some who don't even rely on the Lord to be on their side when the bottom falls out.
If you haven't found this blog:
I hope that you will check it out. They have been heavy on my heart lately.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Would I Change?

I was looking over old photos this weekend and found a collection which I like to call, "A Photo-journalistic View of Brinley's Life." Pictures taken courtesy of her big sister Haley. Haley somehow figured out how to work our camera and snapped these shots instead of alerting me to the fact that her sister was coloring. It seems that along the way she has learned to take better pictures than I do.
At any rate, after coloring all over her face, Brinley stood proudly for a photo shoot such as in this picture...

Then in a flash her modeling career took a turn for the worse as I quickly became involved and shut down the production entirely...

First of all, I would like to say that I am certain that these photos are doctored in some way. I would never harp on my kids when it is obvious that I was being inattentive! You can even see that the tv is on in the background and it doesn't look like children's programming... but let's get back to the main issue here and that is the rule in our house that we color on paper not on ourselves!
Secondly, I would like to share that when Brinley first died and I was finally able to look at our pictures again I was heartbroken that I had yelled at her EVER much less to have it captured in snapshots. I think that that is the adversary's way of making me feel like a bad Mommy. Does he ever get to you in that way? He makes me feel just plain awful over the things that I would chose to do differently now that she is gone.
BUT here is where I see Jesus stepping in for me in a mighty way! I can look at these pictures now and smile at my girl remembering that she put such passion into everything that she did. O.k. maybe that is just a nicer way of saying that she was bull headed, but boy does it make me proud to be her Momma. I can look at these pictures and say that I gave her a beautiful little life while she was here... because we loved her to pieces and, yes, we even disciplined her too. Everything that we did made her who she was and I wouldn't have wanted her any other way.
Would I change the way that I was her Mom looking back... maybe, but I am choosing to focus on now. Those pictures spur me on to have more patience with my other babies. They remind me to enjoy the "messiness" of life instead of getting all worked up when things are not perfect. And they invite me to focus on how Jesus is working in my life rather than on my circumstances.

Not Me Monday!

I did not just sit on the couch watching my children dance to an exercise workout program on t.v. that just wouldn't be me!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

6 Months

I don't understand how some days I am so much stronger than others. The 13th of the month is quickly approaching and it will have been 6 months since I last heard her sweet voice. My husband and I both notice that images of her are slowly fading and we are left with the most vivid memories being those that were caught on videotape. I can't close my eyes and hear her voice as well. I have to turn on the video to refresh my mind and hear her call for her mama. I am thankful that at least we have that. My husband relayed that someone who claims to be a "video editing expert" once quipped, "Who would want to watch unedited video of their children?" Maybe just those that have lost someone dear. We could sit and soak up hours of her on the screen grateful that we didn't edit out a laugh or a whine or the way she would twirl in dress-up clothes. Yet a strange part of me hates the videos and the cedar chest in my room full of her clothes and favorite items. I hate them because it is all I have left of my baby girl.
So some days I wake and all day long she is on my mind and I think of how lovely it must be for her in heaven. I think of how I can't wait to be there with her. I think about how I can live my life to please the Lord just so that I will hold her in my arms again. Some days I think on these things. And some days I can only think of how I miss her so.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Little Bit of Learning

I have always been one of those people who spend a good deal of time looking forward to the future, anticipating what will happen with my family... how my kids will grow, what vacations we will take, what kind of a house we would raise our family in. It wouldn't be far-fetched to say that I would often remark, "Won't it be nice when..." I look back now and think that maybe it was a little bit of a control issue. I truly liked to have everything planned out. I must have driven my husband nearly insane with revisiting our five and ten year plans over and over again. Sometimes I am surprised that he puts up with me, but I'm extremely thankful too!
So one of the hardest things through all of this has been getting a grip on not being in control at all. Completely recognizing that I am no where near in control of life's circumstances has changed me in more ways than one. I won't lie and say that this is the only reason that I tend to shy away from thinking about the future now. Of course I miss Brinley and a huge part of me has had a difficult time finding anything to look forward to after her death. I struggle daily with anticipating a joy filled life and yet knowing that she will no longer be a part of it. However... and here is the good part... I am realizing that the less I long for, or worry over, or try to envision what the future holds for me the more content I am in the moment. I am so thankful that I can sit with my children and love the time that we are sharing together in such a different way than I did before.
Enough of the heavy stuff... my family is going camping this weekend for Labor Day. I am beginning to wonder how we managed tent camping with three wee ones so many times last year. I did miss going this year but I didn't miss someone waking me because they had peed their sleeping bag as I had just dozed off to sleep. And of course it never fails with another one screaming halfway through the night because they aren't sure where they are. It always gives my heart a workout because I am certain that the high pitched alarm indicates that there is an animal of some sort that has made its way into our tent. For some odd reason it is awkward to face the rest of the campers the next morning when your children were the sole reason that the entire campground didn't get any rest! This year we have flashlights and I have explained that they are to be used to check out where they are if they wake in the middle of the night. And as my five-year-old so boldly describes, "So we don't freak out!" Yes this year we don't want anyone to "freak out."
Truth be told I am just grateful to get a chance to hang out with some friends and be away from the routine for a few days. Let's hope that I can enjoy "being in the moment" with my family this weekend... especially when I have to take a little one to pee in a portable toilet in the middle of the night!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Sweet Day

Today I had a wonderful glimpse of hope for my family's future. Just fyi during the grieving process it is almost impossible to think that one day you will look forward to anything ever again. Somehow the world becomes this bland place and you feel completely apathetic about everything... from what to have for dinner to who the next president will be. So when God leaves an impression on your heart and gives you something to look forward to once again you just cling to it. I have been praying that the Lord will give me a heart for adoption once again. After Brinley died and I delivered Nathaniel six days later, I can remember telling my good friend in the hospital room that Brinley made space for another child in our family. I was convinced that it would be the child that my husband and I always had intentions of adopting.
It didn't take long for me to feel completely apathetic about this life long dream. How could I expect anything more out of myself having just lost my love? I have been crushed feeling like things that were always so important to me meant so little. Today as I was driving my family home from an outing I just felt the Lord pressing me to think about what I might like for the future of my family. It didn't take long for me to discern that He was telling me not to fret so much, that He would light the fire again somewhere along the road of healing, and that adding to our family by way of adoption would be such a wonderful tribute to my sweet Brinley. So tonight I am just clinging to what He has promised me for the future and that one day I will be excited about it again.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

From Letters to Brin

My baby girl,
We are 5 months along in this journey of grief, in this journey of trying to make peace with the loss of you. I will say that through all of this knowing Jesus doesn’t make it easier but it does make it easier. I can feel that the pain is less intense for now. I can will myself (by the grace of God) to have a better day if only to make things better for Daddy and better for your sisters and brother. I try so hard to be a good Mom to them Brinley. I don’t ever want them to forget about you but I also don’t want them to say that I was never a good Mom for them because I lost you.
Brinley, your death has taught me that I know so little about the God that I serve. There is much that my human mind can’t fathom or even wrap my brain around. But loosing you has also taught me that what I do know about Him, I know well. I know that He has been faithful to our family. I know that He has provided for us and has a path for us and a purpose set before us. I know that no matter what that way may hold for us He is there with us and He is walking right along side of us. I am holding on that He has a reason for everything that He allows to happen.
I was telling someone just the other day that I have always identified with Moses’ Mother on some level and felt such compassion for her when your sister and I would read the part of the story where she obeys God and puts her tiny baby in a basket and lets go of him. Haley and I always did cry together over that even before you were gone. She has such a tender little heart. In that moment I can remember explaining to her that first Moses’ Mommy had to obey Him, even though it was so hard to do, but that after she obeyed God gave Moses back to her. I believe with all of my heart that God said to me, “You see, Brinley is in My hands now. Your job is to obey Me, I have faith in your faith, and when you do obey me I will give Brinley back to you just like I gave Moses back to his Mommy.”
I can do that Brinley, I can obey Him and follow Him not even because, but ESPECIALLY because if I do I know that one day you will be given back to me. Of all the things that I have learned this is the one thing that helps me most to keep my focus on Jesus. Sometimes I fall into bed at night and the only prayer that I can muster up is, “Lord thank you for getting me through this day. Thank you that it is over and that I am one day closer to heaven. Please let that day come quickly…that day where my entire family will be whole and completely healed.
I miss you my sweet, sweet girl. There isn’t a day, hardly a minute when I don’t look at your sisters and brother and see you in their face or their actions or laughter and play. Our newest struggle has been that we don’t know what you would be doing now. Would you be stepping up getting ready to be the big sister as Haley prepares for school in the Fall? Would we have gotten you a haircut by now? Would you be leading Corinne or following Haley around as they play? Would you like your new room? Would you be trying to carry Nathaniel around to comfort him when he cries? What would your personality look like in our family that is so very different now without you? Sometimes it is even hard to envision where you would fit in all of this. It is during those times that I close my eyes and try to remind myself that I cannot picture you here but I can try to picture you happy and healthy and perfect in the presence of the Lord.
I hope that you are proud of your Mama. For a long while I couldn’t write in any of our baby books because I knew that I wouldn’t get the chance to write in yours again. I struggled with guilt over not keeping up with them. Daddy tried to reassure me that my other babies would understand. It took almost everything in me just to pull them out and begin but I did with tears streaming down my face the entire time. Nathaniel had just gone to the Dr. so I was comparing everyone’s four months weights and I realized that I have one more comparison between you and Corinne (the two year check-up) before she will pass your age by. I don’t want for us to change Brinley. I don’t want for us to be people that you wouldn’t even recognize but it seems to be working out that way. I can’t freeze time and just skip to the end to be with you. At the same time it is just so painful that we are making all of these new memories that we don’t share with you. On some level I feel like I still haven’t figured out how to keep your memory alive while accepting that you won’t have a place in our new memories.
Will you be there Brinley when I put Haley on the bus for the first time? I wish I could know for sure. Do you get to see the same things that we marvel at as Corinne and Nathaniel grow like weeds? Do you get a chance to see your sisters and brother open up the gifts that I leave for them at the curb on special days? I let them think that they are sent from you. Do you see their faces light up when they see a gift from you? One day I am confident that I will know but until then I am hoping… Love, Mama

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Ok so I haven't had much time to get on here and write. My family is gearing up for a big move. We are buying a house that we have had our eye on for two years now. My heart and head are always playing catch up these days. I know that God has moved in a big way to provide this house for us but I would give it all back to have my sweet Brinley here with us. I am mustering up all that I can to be excited for this move but it is a struggle. I am constantly thinking about how much Brinley would have loved this adventure, sharing a new room with her two sisters, exploring in the woods behind the new house... I know that she would have wanted this for us, but I don't want it without her. I find myself feeling like I am somehow benefiting from her death and it turns my stomach because I would live in a tent just to have her by my side.
I'm reading an awesome book by Beth Moore called, "Get Out of That Pit." In the last chapter she describes that we should make no mistake that people are fighting daily to stay out of their pit and making a choice to rely on God instead. I just finished telling my husband last night that it was daunting and even scary to think that I would be fighting this battle for the rest of my life not to be in a pit. Choosing to wake up every morning and trust that God was going to get me through and not wallowing in my situation. Believe me I'd rather be wallowing sometimes! And then my good friend Rachael sent me an e-mail this morning telling me that she was searching God's word for His promises to her and she found Lamentations 3:22 "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning, great is Your faithfulness." And then she said that she claimed it for herself and was praying over it for my family too. How amazing when God's word speaks! It was just what I needed to know that in my struggle God's mercy will be new every morning. I don't have to be afraid to make the choice to stay away from the pit because He is there to help me keep clear from it. I covet your prayers over my fight to stay out of that pit!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Day Interrupted

We are moving. I am supposed to pack, take care of the kids, clean house. I'm not sure how to keep up because I'm not sure of where I should even begin. Daily tasks just seems so daunting. I put a load in the wash this morning and everything stood still when I saw an item of her clothing on top of the washing machine. I was going to have a baby the weekend after she died so like a good housewife I cleaned and washed everything. I did every piece of laundry the day before she died. I have nothing that smells like her. I just want to have one item that feels like her or smells like her. Her clothes are still in her drawers and hanging in the closet. Her last Christmas dress. Her "special panties" that we still wore in case of a nap time accident.
Most of her things are still right as they should be... but she isn't. And I'm supposed to pack them away.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

My Beginning

My husband has been encouraging me to tell our "story" in a blog spot. I have debated over whether sharing my simple thoughts would be of any help to anyone else or even myself for that matter. I can't help but be encouraged by all of the other faith-filled women that I have come across. So if my words and self-reflections let one person know that they are not alone... then I guess that it will be worth it for me.
My life has been by some people's standards much too easy. I grew up in a Christian home, went to college, married the man of my dreams, and began my family. I was blessed with three beautiful girls and was even able to stay home to care for them. I was also 6 days away from delivering our first baby boy. We were a busy little family. One thing that I will say about my husband and myself is that we truly enjoy our children. There is nothing that we would rather be doing then hanging out with each other. My life was perfect. I remember stopping once in a great while and taking inventory of everything that I was given in my life. It was then that I would quietly remark to God, "This is too perfect, too easy, too wonderful... something will eventually have to go wrong." And as I look at those words that I have just written I feel like it sounds horrid. Please don't mistake me for a complete pessimist, but I have never felt completely invincible in a sense.
On March 13th of this year, something did go terribly wrong. It was the first nice day of the year in our area. Although, my neighbors described me as a person who would take her kids out on any given day if it was remotely nice out. It was not unusual for us to be out even if it was not particularly nice. We were out bundled tightly in the snow, in raincoats in the rain, or even all four of us crammed into a baby pool if it was muggy and hot. But this day was beautiful. My girls were begging to go out front to play and ride bikes. After getting all three ready which is a task in itself, we headed out. We couldn't have been out more than 5 minutes when my second daughter Brinley who was weeks shy of turning three decided to ride her bike out into the street and sit right in front of our driveway. Living on a cul-de-sac off of a cul-de-sac I was not immediately full of panic. Although it was not unusual for my girls to ask to ride in the street while I watched it was unusual that Brinley went on without asking. As I opened my mouth to get on her for not asking in a typical motherly fashion. I saw the pick-up truck, that I had thought was parked and empty, begin to back up down the street.
Even as I am writing now I question what I did during those few seconds before the truck hit her. Do I remember screaming for the driver to stop? Did I begin running down the driveway immediately to save my girl? Did I completely freeze and think from my view that the driver would possibly miss her? What if I had only done this or that? It causes a lot of turmoil within me that I can't remember it clearly enough to pardon myself. But in the last few months (along with many kind words from others) I have come to the realization that if I truly believe that my God is soveriegn then there isn't room for the "what ifs" in my life. If my Lord is soveriegn and in control of everything then it doesn't matter what I did or did not do. He was in control. And although this is not erasing the pain of losing my baby girl it brings me some peace. Can I tell you how thankful I am today that even though I don't have the ability to pardon myself in this horrible situation there is One that I can look to who pardons me daily?
When I ran to Brinley in the street that morning I placed my hands on her and pleaded for healing. I did not know at the the time that her complete healing would be in heaven. My sweet girl was life-flighted to the hospital. As her father and I raced to get to her side I can remember telling a neighbor that I would not be okay if something happened to her. And yet, as we were driving I was silently singing the doxology in my head:
"Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
Praise God all creatures hear me low.
Praise Him all ye heavenly hosts,
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost."
When I look back I am amazed at how appropriate that song was. At the time I thought that it was the only song that I could remember or even bring to mind. It was the first hymn that my Father taught me to memorize as a child. I firmly believe that God put that song on my heart that day for a reason. In the very midst of what felt like my perfect life was crashing down around me, I was praising God for the blessing that Brinley had been in my life!
Now that I have taken the time to begin I am excited to share more of what I will learn on this life's journey with you. Please pray for me that I can focus on the promises that God has made to me and each of you. Pray that I can keep my eyes on Jesus.