Sunday, March 16, 2014

Celebrate Quinncidence Year 2

Thank you. I don't know what else to say, but that the way friends, family, current & former students, and total strangers honored Quinn was something I will never be able to express my complete gratitude for. I wish I could personally thank each of you and let you know that your acts, big and small, meant so much to us.

Many people have asked us, "How did Wednesday go?" Those of you who have been faithful readers of this blog know that I don't sugarcoat information. Wednesday was amazing, but it was also really tough. The day was different this year. I'm sure every year will be different. Last year, Quinn's birthday was hard, but we were in such a deep spot in our grieving that it wasn't much different than the day before or the day after because every day was extremely hard. This year, after we have had a year more of healing, it was a harder day because we had to go back there... back to the place of deep grief. Because when you lose your child birthdays aren't just a celebration of life, but they also remind you that life is no more, that someone is missing and something is definitely wrong with this picture. It is also hard because, even though I wanted Quinn to be remembered and I made it a public thing, it is also a very personal thing. Seeing and hearing Quinn's name all day was incredible because it told me that she is not forgotten about, but at the same time her name holds such a precious spot in my heart that it also tugged at my heart strings all week when hearing it.

I am such a teacher at heart so I want you to know my objectives in all of this. Why did I want to do random acts of kindness again this year?

1. I don't want Quinn to be forgotten. And I went through many emotions on Wednesday, but one thing I knew for sure is that QUINN WAS NOT FORGOTTEN THAT DAY and you will never know how much that means to me.
2. I had so many prayers and dreams for my child. I remember praying that she would bring joy to everyone who met her. I wanted my daughter to make this earth we live on a better place. I wanted Quinn to affect every life she came in contact with. And although those dreams looked very different in my head when I prayed them. I still want those things. I don't want her life to mean nothing. I wanted you to help someone and I wanted it to ignite something so wonderful in your heart that you wanted to help people more and more. See, I know it is awkward to walk up to a total stranger and bless them. But I also know that is what we are called to do. This life is hard enough to do on our own. We need each other. The personal stories I received that day about how many people were moved to tears because of how powerful their interaction was or how much it changed their life is the greatest gift this mother could get.
3. I pray that others will see Christ in us. I want to be honest and let you know that I am grieving, but I am grieving with a hope. And I pray that you see something different in us, something that drives you to Christ.

 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14:
"Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him."

You can see most of the stories & pictures from the day at: But here are my personal pictures:

A former student of mine is now an elementary school teacher herself and had her 1st grade students make encouraging cards for each student in my first and second period class:
 Here are a few of the acts of kindness students at my school did that day:

 This was the act that moved me the most from the post its:

Lastly, thank you for all the prayers on that day. I felt them. We could not have made it through the day without the prayers. We are still in need of them. For God to heal our hearts and for Him to give us the desire of our hearts. Thank you, we are so humbled by your generosity.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Quinn's 2nd Birthday

We turned the calendar to March yesterday and it's amazing how much weight was in that page we flipped. I knew this would never be easy, but I thought I might be in a different place this year. But it feels just as unfair as it always has. I think of how our life would be different with a two year old running around our house. I try to picture what Quinn would look like and it's all so heartbreaking. I have tried to write a blog all week about Quinn's Birthday and words escape me. I just want to avoid thinking about it, because it hurts too much. But just as I said last year, Quinn's birthday is not about me. It is about Quinn and what she was to me. She deserves more. I have this little light and I would be keeping it to myself. I have said time and time again that I just want my daughter to be known. I just want her life to affect others and if I stay in bed on the day she was born, her life and what she was to me stays in bed for the day and she deserves more than that.

People have asked me if I have any stories to tell about Quinn and it is such a hard question because she was 4 1/2 months old. She wasn't moving around on her own, she wasn't talking, her life consisted mostly of eating, sleeping, and observing the world around her. So I only have a handful of specific memories or stories about Quinn and they are some of my greatest treasures. But one in particular is my favorite. Quinn was 9 days old and she had only been home a few days. I had just fed her in the early morning hours and was rocking her back to sleep. She was a little fussy. So I started singing to her. My dad was up with me and watching tenderly as I sat with my daughter singing her a lullaby. I started singing "Smile" by Nat King Cole. I have no idea why that is what I sang to her but I just kept thinking I want her to know that she might feel like crying, but I just want to see her smile, so I began singing...

Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though its breaking
When there are clouds in the sky, you'll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You'll see the sun come shining through for you

Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear may be ever so near
That's the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what's the use of crying?
You'll find that life is still worthwhile 
If you just smile...

A few lines into the song, the most amazing thing started happening. Quinn started humming along with me. Now, obviously it wasn't to the tune, it was just the same note. But when I stopped singing, she stopped humming and when I started back up she started back up. I looked over at my dad and his eyes were glassed over and he said, "That is amazing, she's trying to sing with you!" I sang the song 3 times and she sang with me 2 times. The third time my dad had found the camera and tried to record it, but it's like she knew she was being recorded and fell asleep the 3rd time through. We never did get it on camera, but I won't forget it never the less. I have probably thought about that memory 250 times since she died. And analyzed every angle of it and I wonder if she wasn't singing it to me. If she knew I would need the words of that song in the coming months. But it has also spoken to me lately with her birthday. It will be my anthem of getting through that day and I will imagine Quinn singing me through it.

I have prayed about it and we have debated over whether we would do our "Celebrate Quinncidence"  a second year and we felt that it really carried us through a really tough day. But I would be doing a disservice if I didn't mention our ultimate source of strength that will really carry us through, Jesus Christ. This was the verse I read yesterday in my quiet time that is my theme verses for the day:

"Share your food with the hungry and bring poor, homeless people into your own homes.
When you see someone who has no clothes, give him yours, and don't refuse to help your own relatives.
Then your light will shine like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. 
Your God will walk before you, and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind.
Then you will call out, and the LORD will answer. 
You will cry out and he will say, 'Here I am'."                                        (Isaiah 58:6-9)

We have decided to do Celebrate Quinncidence again this year. Using the money we would have spent on presents, cake, and decorations for Quinn on others who need it through random acts of kindness. Your acts don't have to be big, you could write a nice note to someone who you appreciate, pay for someone's gas, coffee, or groceries, leave a big tip for a waiter, leave quarters on a vending machine or car wash, put flowers on someone's car, bring donuts to work, etc. I am opening this up my school, Washington High School, as well and will kick it off at the end of the week there, We were so blessed by the friends, family, and strangers who joined us in celebrating Quinn's birthday last year and we would be honored to have you join us in blessing the lives of others on Wednesday March 12th. Here is the link to the post last year: Celebrate Quinncidence .  Sioux Falls Education Association has offered to make a Facebook page where people could post their pictures and acts they did: Thank you SFEA. For those of you not on Facebook, post your acts in the comments below and I will take a few of these pictures and do a blog post with them on Thursday March 13th. And please keep us in your prayers for an abundance of grace this next week and a sense of peace in a time that feels so unfair. Thank you everyone in advance.