Friday, June 23, 2017

A Reading List on Grief, for kids and adults

You know we are into books big-time over here. I use books to teach lots of new ideas to my kids. It is what works for us and helps lead into all kinds of conversations. And of course I am always learning, exposing myself to new ideas, and holding everything I read up to Truth.

Here are some books that have been helpful to me over the past several months:

by Nancy Guthrie:
One Year Book of Hope
Holding on to Hope
Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow
Nancy and her husband, David, buried two babies who lived for about six months. They know this road that we are walking with our David, and Nancy's words often express exactly what is in my heart and mind. She has written several other books on grief and I'd recommend them all. We had a chance to hear her speak a few weeks ago and I think she is one of the most gifted speakers I've ever heard. Clearly, God gave her this message to share. She reminded us that God always loves us, there is nothing so broken that He cannot redeem it, He is powerful enough to take even horrible things and use them for good, and this life is not all there is. How incredibly grateful we are for those truths.

A Grief Observed, by C.S. Lewis. Lewis's journals after the death of his wife. Powerful to see one of the greatest Christian teachers wrestle with grief.

When God Doesn’t Fix It, by Laura Story. Singer/songwriter/worship leader who is living with brokenness but clinging to our Lord and praising Him through it all. Her song "Blessings" came on my playlist just as I was starting to push with David. You can't write a song like that without living through hard things.

Hope Heals, by Jay and Katherine Wolf. Precious young couple walking with Jesus through Katherine's stroke and recovery. A beautiful love story about holding to the hope that only comes from the Anchor we have for our soul.

Heaven, by Randy Alcorn. I've talked about this book before. A great book for taking away fears and misconceptions about heaven and focusing instead on perfect truth.

by Ann Voskamp:
One Thousand Gifts
The Broken Way
Love, love, love Ann's books. How do you live with your one broken heart? Read and find out.

For the kids, here are some of our favorites. We have read and talked A LOT about heaven and how thankful we are that David is there. We talk about how have an eternal soul, part of us that lives forever. For those who believe in Jesus, eternal life starts now.
Someday Heaven, questions and answers for kids about heaven
God Gave Us Heaven, a sweet storybook about a little cub learning about heaven
Tell Me About Heaven, a book for older children by Randy Alcorn (see above)
Someone I Love Died, a reassuring book about death, funerals, and eternal life that gives kids space to draw and journal, too

These are some storybooks we have enjoyed in which death plays a part. I would read these and God Gave Us Heaven to your kids, one at a time over several months, to introduce the idea of death if it is something your kids have not yet encountered. They are gentle and reassuring.
The Goodbye Boat
Blow Me a Kiss, Miss Lilly
Grandpa's Soup
Badger's Parting Gifts
My Grandson Lew

Don't be afraid: Jesus is coming. And He loves you, in the words of our favorite Jesus Storybook Bible, "with a never stopping, never giving up, un-breaking, always and forever love."

Romans 8:38-39
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Thank You

The Gent and I wrote lots and lots of heartfelt thank you notes this weekend. We had tried to keep a list of thoughtful gifts and meals and donations and help with our children and so many other things . . . but I know we have forgotten some. If that was you, I'm sorry! We appreciate the love our friends and family have showered over us these past several months. Thank you for all your cards, texts, phone calls, emails, and all the other ways you have helped and encouraged and prayed. We love you and words really can't express our thankfulness for you!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Precious Photos

Here are some precious photos of David that our sweet photographer from Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep took for us. I will have many more photos to post as time passes, but I wanted to start with these. Hope you enjoy these pictures of our beloved David.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

ReMoved

I have a lot of pictures to sort through and post and I'll get to those soon. Lately I keep thinking of this video, though, and I wanted to share it today. Foster care is messy and broken and there may not be a happily ever after. But the children and families you touch through it are all made in God's image and they are infinitely valuable. Jesus said whatever you do for the least of these, you do for Me. The impact you can have on a child and their hurting family may never be seen in this life, but to paraphrase C.S. Lewis, you've never met just a person, but an eternal soul.

Link to the ReMoved film is here.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

To the Beach

While the Gent was off work we spent a few days at the beach. It was a fun and restorative family time. Thankful for a friend providing us with a place to stay!

walking to the beach
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so thankful all my kiddos love the sand and sea
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Mama and the little girls
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sandcastles with Daddy
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Annie built about a thousand of them, and decorated them with shells we picked up on our walks
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still refusing to swim
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Jacob and Daddy did a lot of fishing.
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wave-jumping
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Sophie danced in and out of the waves and was all around adorable
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Nora went from "I don't like those, they're scary" about the waves to running in and out of them squealing with glee!
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tried to get a picture of all the kids before we went out for lunch
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oh hey, we were there, too
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And my favorite two pictures from this trip, Sophie and Nora playing together. They call each other "my best buddy."
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Friday, June 2, 2017

One Month

Trite but true…it is hard to believe it has been one month since we held our beloved David in our arms. It seems a lifetime ago, and yet just yesterday. Some days it is hard to believe it happened at all. Maybe it was all a bittersweet dream, that little life I carried for 9+ months, the baby boy we loved, knowing we would never get to keep him in this temporal world. But it was real. David is real and precious and held and known and loved--by me, his mama always--and by all our dear family and by our Father now.

My heart aches for heaven. How it will be when I see David again, I don’t know. I wonder sometimes, will I see David the way I see my children now? For example, when I look at Annie I see her as the tiny baby who taught me to be a mother, and the hesitant toddler, and the stubborn preschooler, and the determined little girl she is now. Maybe when I see David again, it will be something like that? I don’t really need to know. The promise that I will see David again is enough. If our Lord has given us such beauties and wonders and pleasures in this earthly life, and they are only poor imitations of the true thing, the real thing, the perfect thing—what wonders must await us in the abundant life of heaven.

Everyone keeps asking us how we are doing. I don’t really know how to answer that. Usually I just say we are okay. And we are. We are alive, we are well-fed, we have many happy moments each day. We have buried our baby, our hearts hurt, our arms are empty. In the last month, we’ve had a plumber out five times to fix a clogged drain (I think we finally found the right fix). He worked on the shower drain while the Gent and I sat in the living room with our pastor and planned David’s funeral. The dryer died and we had to buy a new one. The exterminator has been handling a mouse problem in our kitchen. EEEEEEEWW. We have exciting plans for building our new house. We sleep through the night because there is no newborn to wake us up. That’s how we are. The grief is not debilitating, our children need us, we have work to do. In some ways we have been grieving since almost the beginning of David’s pregnancy. His diagnosis in the early weeks when we were still very worried about a miscarriage tempered our expectations all along. But it still hurts and it is still hard and his loss is very real and it will always be there.

Our children are stairsteps, all about two years apart. Nora is two and a half and there is no baby after her in our family pictures. David will always be the missing stairstep, his presence hovering around the edges of the family pictures. Unknowing strangers say hurtful things, saying my family is full or where’s the next one or some other seemingly innocuous remark. I want to tell them there is another little boy, but he’s not here, I didn’t get the chance to mother him fully. My family is not full and I have more energy to spare and more love to give but he’s not here.

Some days I wish we still wore mourning clothes and I didn’t have to keep biting my tongue or giving explanations that just making everyone sad. I don’t want to have to tell the checkout lady at the grocery store that I’m not pregnant, I’m postpartum but I don’t have a baby to show for it. I don’t want to have to make the dental hygienist feel awkward because she assumed I was expecting when Jacob told her he had a baby brother but there was no baby with us that she could see. Thank goodness I should be cleared to exercise next week and I can get back in shape. I feel pressured to do it quickly, so I can avoid these conversations. But I’ll never forget I had a baby, that I carried him and birthed him and loved him. That he changed my heart as all of my children have done in some way or another.

I was out shopping recently and I found this two-inch square cube. It sits on my desk now. These words are etched on it: “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. Psalm 107:1.” And He is. So I give thanks.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Sophie turns FOUR!

My sweet Sophie Beth turned four yesterday. We celebrated in the usual family style--breakfast, presents from Mama and Daddy, play with new presents, out to lunch at the restaurant of her choice (Chick fil a, where we were joined by Honey, Poppa, and Nana), and a birthday treat at dinner. In between she received phone calls and cards and even a balloon delivery from NeNe, Uncle Mike, and cousin Mac. Happy birthday, Sophie!

This has been such a fun year with you. You loved your first year of ballet and doing "easy school" (as you call preschool) with Mama. You want to be one of the big kids but you also love to play with Nora. You have a sweet relationship with each of your siblings and I love to watch you all interact together. You are still shy sometimes, and are my most cautious child--but that doesn't mean much in our family of crazy kiddos. ;) You can be fearless, too. Whenever I hear the phrase "she may be small but she is fierce" I think of you! I love you, precious daughter of mine!

A tradition in our family: birthday breakfast (usually made by Daddy), served on the special plate!
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Annie wanted to buy her a present with her own money. She settled on a Frozen sticker book, which Sophie adores.
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her present from Mama and Daddy: a princess doll castle (and books, of course!)
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petit fours
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and this is the look you get when you ask for a smile
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