Monday, March 6, 2017

Celebrating Quinn's Life, Year 5

We sang a song at church by Elevation worship a few weeks ago called "Resurrecting" that has really been on repeat in my head ever since. I keep coming back to the powerful lyric, "The resurrected king, is resurrecting me." I think the reason that I liked it so much is because it really resonates with me this year. There was a time in life not too long ago when I felt as if I were in the wilderness. I was in a dark place,the desert of life if you will. These 40 days of Lenton season has really made me appreciate the 40 years that the Israelites were in the desert and the 40 days that Jesus was in the wilderness. But I feel like God has slowly brought be out of that season and ushered me into a new season. A season of coming alive again. He is resurrecting this life that I thought I had lost and putting a new song in my heart. I love this perspective by Cynthia Occelli when she says, "For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn't understand growth, it would look like complete destruction." Well, my shell broke, you all read my insides coming out as I poured out my heart and soul on these pages, and my life felt like complete destruction, and yet I can finally feel new growth, I can feel my life breaking through that dark soil into the light and it is miraculous. Something that only someone who has been there would know. What a beautiful picture in this Easter season of my resurrected king, resurrecting this life that seemed impossible of restoration.

You see the root of this Easter story is that Christ didn't stay dead. For a very long time I believed that trusting God, meant trusting that nothing bad was going to happen. If I trust Him with my child it means I trust that He will keep him/her safe. When my child has something happen to them, then that trust is dashed. But I am beginning to see that I am trusting the wrong thing. The Easter story is revealing to me that one of the greatest miracles in the Bible is the resurrection of Christ and the same God who rose Christ from the depths of despair is the same God we serve. Our trust should not be in this life being perfect, our trust should be that no matter how dark life gets that we serve a God of resurrection. "Joys are always on their way to us," writes Amy Carmichael. "They are always traveling to us through the darkness of the night. There is never a night when they are not coming."

March 12th is this Sunday and if you knew where I was at 4 years ago on this date and could see the healing that has taken place in those 4 years you would say it is miraculous. You would join me in agreeance that the resurrected king is resurrected me. In years past, doing random acts of kindness on Quinn's birthday were as much to get me through the day as they were to celebrate Quinn's life. Tim and I were talking the other day and we both agreed that this year the random acts of kindness will simply be to honor her and her life, we don't need them to get through this day anymore. You will never hear me say that I don't wish we were really celebrating Quinn's birthday with our blonde haired,  blue eyed, 5 year old, you will never hear me say that what happened was ok, but if you listen close enough to the beating of my heart you will hear that it is well with my soul and I have come to peace with my life. And that faint peace flowing through my veins is a miracle that resonates with the Easter story. I tell you this because I don't know where you are at in life or what this life has in store for you, but I can personally tell you that I serve a Christ who didn't stay in the grave and will continue to, "raise you from the ashes of defeat."

I say all of this to catch you up as to where we are in year five. We still would be more than honored for you to join us again this year in celebrating Quinn's life and keeping her memory alive through random acts of kindness. Whether we are in a dark place or a place of celebration, it still continues to humble us as a family to hear that Quinn's life is not forgotten and that because she lived people were blessed. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you. You will never know how much your acts big and small mean to us as a family.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Celebrate Quinncidence Year 4

This coming Saturday, March 12th, Quinn would have been 4. I cannot wrap my mind around what our house would look like now with Cale having a 4 year old big sister running around. It really breaks my heart for what he is missing out on without her here.  Life is different now with a new life filling this home, more different than with past blog posts and God is continuing to heal our hearts. Every time I looked at Cale for the first 6 months, I saw Quinn. They have the same wise eyes. Cale will never replace Quinn, we will never forget her. She will always be talked about and celebrated. I don't know what March 12th will look like 10 years from now, but I know we will always celebrate her life on this date by blessing others. I truly believe that when the weight of grief becomes more than you can bear, pouring into others is the means by which God restores. This year will you join us in celebrating her life? Every year I have been so overwhelmed by the outpouring of love. You will never know what it does to this Mama's heart to know that people's lives are blessed because Quinn lived, that she continues to have an impact and that she is not forgotten. I know it will look different this year as it is on a Saturday because most of you won't be at work and the world you can impact might look different, but it also brings about new opportunities to bless. I want to leave you with this short Mother Teresa quote as an inspiration for your acts:
"I'm not sure exactly what heaven will be be like, but I do know that when we die and it comes time for God to judge us, He will NOT ask, 'How many good things have you done in your life?' Rather, he will ask, 'How much LOVE did you put into what you did?"
I don't know what you will decide to do on Saturday. But I do ask that it is filled with Love. Thank you.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

A letter to my son on his baptism...

Dear Cale,
I sit here on the eve of your baptism and write you this letter knowing full well you could never fully understand the depths of these words right now, but my hope is that someday you will look back on this note and treasure it.

Today carries a heavy weight, you see, your sister, whom you will never know, passed away the night before her own baptism. Ever since, baptisms have been so hard for your mommy and daddy. For years since her death we have begged, pleaded, and wrestled with God asking Him for another chance, another blessing, never fully knowing if our prayers would be answered. Those were the darkest of days where the very things I am about to pronounce in front of the church for you were questioned. I questioned God's love for me, whether her was good, and even His existence.

Jerry Sittser once said, "The quickest way for anyone to reach the sun and light of day is not to run west chasing after the setting sun, but to head east, plunging into the darkness until one comes to the sunrise." So I did. I plunged into my darkness of grief and questioning. Those were the hardest of days, but after 3 years, I feel like my journey has finally brought me to the point at which that metaphorical sun is rising again. The things I learned through it all are my prayer for you today, the day I dedicate you to the LORD. So here is my prayer over you and your spiritual life:

I pray you will walk by faith and not by sight. Cale, there will be a day when God doesn't seem good to you and you will question everything you believed and my heartfelt prayer is that you will wake up the next day, put your feet to the floor and make the decision to trust His promises, because this world deceives us into believing that God is only good when we have favorable circumstances. But the problem with that viewpoint is that YOU are the only factor in that equation. It is when you come to the end of your self that you realize that you are not God, so how could you possibly know what is good and best for your life? I truly believe that when we don't understand, when our heart is breaking, when we don't feel loved by God, when God doesn't seem good, and yet, we rise and make a CHOICE to still praise the LORD for His goodness, we have the power to shake the very gates of Hell. It is then that you have risen above circumstance, the temporary, and rely more on the depth of your soul- Faith. And if you make that choice each day or moment, when you are questioning, soon it isn't a choice, but a way of life, a way of truly living. When you choose God, in the choosing, you learn that He has already chosen you and has been drawing you near to Him.

That is my prayer for you today. Your dad and I vow to instill those promises in you so when the floods of life come, you will have your feet on a firm foundation. I love you with all my heart and I am so proud of you, my miracle, my son.

Love, 
Mom







Thursday, June 11, 2015

Our new miracle

Welcome to this world Cale Joseph. Born this morning at 10:03 at a whopping 9lbs 5oz. Cale means"faithful and devoted". We want to look into the face of this miracle everyday and remember God's faithfulness but our prayer is that this precious boy would also grow into a faithful man. Joseph means "God will add/ increase." The story of Joseph has been so meaningful to us over the last couple of years. His is a story of restoration and we never want to forget how God is restoring us through this addition to our family. 




Sunday, May 31, 2015

A letter to me as a Future Mother

Dear Alison,
Remember in high school when they made you write a letter to the future you 15, 20, 30 years down the road? This is that same concept, but to you 3, 6, 9 weeks down the road when you are again the mother of a newborn. This time with different insight, but also different worries. You are in a unique position of having been an active mother and knowing what comes along with it, but also losing a child and knowing what being without means. We are such fickle beings so there are some thing I want you to remember...

1. There will be sleepless nights and I know more than anyone how much you love your sleep. You will be frustrated and want nothing more than sleep,.. but remember. Remember that it is your Creator's breath within your child's lungs crying for you. Remember how wrong it felt to NOT wake up at night after Quinn. Remember bargaining with yourself how you would wake up all the time, every night for the rest of your life just to be with her. Remember to cherish this time in the wee hours with your little miracle and not wish the time away.

2. Your days of a tidy house won't be the same. Babies come with a lot of big, cumbersome equipment. Things that are hard to hide. And even though you never got to experience this with Quinn, there will be days ahead when just when you think you have everything picked up, it will seem he has it all out again. I know more than anyone how much you love a clean house...but remember. Remember the pain of putting all those cumbersome baby things in storage. How empty the house felt without those things that are the constant reminder of life within the walls of your house. Toys out equals a child playing in your home- don't ever forget the miracle of that.

3. Over the years you have become more introverted. You like your quiet alone time riding in a silent car once in awhile and having time to read and reflect. That will be harder to come by in the coming years... but remember. Remember how loud the silence was after losing Quinn, how the silence screamed of something missing. Never forget that the sound of your child's voice is the most beautiful sound on Earth.

4. This is your second child and let's face it, your body will never be the same... but remember. Remember the years you prayed and cried and begged for God to fill your womb. Remember looking down in the shower at your flat stomach and not feeling the sense of accomplishment but feeling a state of barrenness. Every time you look at your body that doesn't look the same, remember that you aren't the same. Look at those "flaws" as a reminder of God's faithfulness.

5. It is not just about you anymore. You can't be as selfish, you can't just leave to get supplies or shop whenever you want. Going out on the weekends will be more challenging and that was and will be a hard adjustment for you... but remember. Remember when you lost Quinn and doing all of those things felt wrong. This is exactly what you prayed for and this miracle is worth every big and little sacrifice you will have to make.

Alison, I know this is hard. I know you will worry a lot more than you did with Quinn. She died in your arms and every Dr. you have talked to has told you there's not a thing you could have done about it. God has our days numbered, He knew Quinn's number and He knows the number of days of this little miracle in your arms now. And no matter how you try to control your child's well-being, his life is in God's hands. Remember when you listened to that interview with the oldest woman in the world and she was asked what is her secret to a long life and she answered, "Don't you know? It's nothing I did, God already has our days numbered." From the oldest human in the world, to the tiniest human in your arms, God is in control. This will be a daily struggle, but make a choice each day you put your feet to the floor to trust Him, to open your hand to what He has to give. I know trusting God looks different than it did before. Trusting that nothing bad will happen is trusting in your own will, but trust that no matter what happens He is already on the other side of it working everything together for the good of those who love Him. And remember to find joy. I know being guarded is your defense mechanism, trying to save yourself from the heartache again, but that is a lie of the enemy. Truth is, you will be heartbroken no matter how guarded you are, so choose each day to open your heart to this child, savor every moment, see the miracle of each experience and in those actions you will be honoring God's faithfulness and in turn truly living.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Quinn's 3rd Birthday

Another year has gone by as we find ourselves in March, once again. So much has happened since last March. I feel like God has answered a lot of prayers. I cannot begin to tell you how much he has healed my broken-heart and how far we have come. I remember wanting to connect with someone in my situation right after the loss of Quinn so I would pour over blogs of people who had lost children and they were three to five years post losing a child and still sounded in as deep of place as I was. Now for many that might be a comfort as you near those years and find that you are not alone, but for me it was terrifying. I needed to grieve the loss of my daughter, but I also wanted hope. I wanted to know it got better, that the gaping open wound would heal. I knew I would forever have a scar, but I just wanted to know that there would be healing. Hindsight can sometimes be a beautiful thing, because I can look back over the last 2 1/2 years and see how God was day by day salving my wounds. Most days I felt he had taken me to the wilderness and left me there alone, but I now see he was taking me to a quiet place of steady healing.
So as the calendar turned over to March this year, I have found my reaction is not as heart- wrenching. I still have days where I miss Quinn more than normal, it still takes my breath away to see her picture up promoting kindness, it is still hard on me to hear people say her name more often. But I know that it is good. People don't talk about Quinn as much, we don't talk about Quinn as much. And I know that is part of healing. I don't want to forget her. I remember crying that first year when her face wasn't as vivid in my memory as it once was. I need to talk about Quinn, I need people to remember her. So as hard as this month is, I have come to a place where it is well. The wound is still there and it still hurts, but I know now that it is healing.
A week from today Quinn would have been three. THREE! I can't wrap my mind around that. She is still a precious 5 month old in my mind. In years past we have done random acts of kindness to honor her, to continue to let her light shine in this world. We will continue to do that this year. We will celebrate QUINNcidence. We will take this hope that is rising like a shoot out of a stump and share it with our world.  I have come to believe that nothing is coincidence, that every random thing is a blessing, a lesson. And I want to celebrate the beauty of MY precious blessing, Quinn, with the blessing of coincidence. We have been so honored and humbled by the thousands of people who have chosen to join us in this endeavor and would like to extend the invitation again. Please join us on Thursday March 12th in Celebrating QUINNcidence through random acts of kindness. This week, in preparing for Thursday, I encourage you to really listen to people and reflect on their needs.
The last two weeks I have been reflecting on Lent and what it means to give something up or fast from something. This verse really struck me:

Isaiah 58:6  "Is this not the fast which I choose: To loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free? Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; When you see the naked to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?"

Kendal Haug & Will Walker state in "Journey to the Cross. Readings and Devotions for Lent.":
"As long as I'm looking to get my needs met, I will never get my needs met. But when I begin to meet the needs of others- when I begin to live for them instead of for myself- I find that God graciously takes care of my needs in the process. The grace of God turns us into servants. Instead of demanding that we be served, we joyfully lay down our rights and seek to serve God and others."

I will be reflecting on these statements this week and I invite you to do the same. I want my daughter to change the world, but I pray the Lord will change your heart and mine to turn us in to a people who "joyfully lay down our rights and seek to serve God and others."

Monday, December 22, 2014

Waiting in Hope

More this year than ever, I have come to understand the Christmas story in a different light. It is not simply a story of a baby born in a stable in some far off land, but about a deeper meaning. The nation of Israel had gone through glorious victories and the agony of suffering. But through it all, underlying every high and low is a sense of waiting, waiting for a savior to come and fulfill all the prophesies of their forefathers, to save them from unfair earthly rulers and be their ultimate king and ruler. It sheds a whole new light to some of the Christmas carols I grew up with. Take "Oh Come, Oh Come, Emanuel" for example, the lyrics drip with their sense of waiting: "Oh come, Oh come, Emanuel, and ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lonely exile here until the son of God appear. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emanuel (God with us)..." So the entire theme of the Christmas story is a grand fulfillment of hope after years of mourning and waiting. In fact the word advent in Latin means, "coming" or "waiting".

Isaiah 11:1 declares, "A shoot will come from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit." Ann Voskamp, author of One Thousand Gifts, states in her advent series, "The mattering part is never what isn't. What matters isn't about what dream has been cut down or what part of your heart has been cut out. The tender, mattering part is you have a hope, a tender branch that will shoot up into a crown of thorns, a rugged cross... Out of the stump of that fallen tree in your life, watered with living waters that come from the depths of his grace, a twig sprouted and that twig will be the subject that defeats your sin."

Proverbs 13:12 claims, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is the tree of life."
Jesus is that longing fulfilled who became that tree of life out of a stump.

Tim and I know what it is like to have hope deferred, we know what it feels like to have that metaphorical tree of all our hopes and dreams cut down, we know what it is to cry out for Jesus to come, what it feels like to be captive to something. But for the first time in a long time I can tell you there is a shoot coming out of that stump. Out of our waiting a hope has been fulfilled. I want to share with you that I am 14 weeks pregnant (due June 19th). We have heard the heartbeat a few times and as of right now, everything is healthy. Thank you. Thank you for your prayers, thank you for your tears, thank you for hoping for us when we had lost our hope. This doesn't mean we still don't covet your prayers. Being pregnant comes with worries of its own worries of tomorrow, worries of the future. Please continue to pray, pray for a healthy pregnancy, a healthy baby, a spirit of peace and especially a spirit of joy. Our whole family is so grateful but we all are lacking joy. It is like a part of us is holding back, waiting for the other shoe to drop. But a longing has been fulfilled and I feel like every breath I take whispers "thank you". Thank you, Jesus for the Christmas story, reminding us that you fulfill our hope after years of mourning and waiting.