Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sneeky Little Grief

I have not posted since Shai's first birthday. It seems things have been quiet in my heart in regards to Shai. A thought still goes through my mind daily but no more tears and only joyful and hopeful thoughts.

A very wise friend who has lost two children once said that grief will come and go probably my whole life and that is okay. It will come quickly and without notice and the best thing to do is mourn the loss and give it back to the Lord. You see grief is the feeling that surrounds loss and mourning is the actual active response to grieving. So when the grief comes I must allow myself the action of crying or working through that emotion.

Since the last few months have been quiet I had all but forgotten my friend called grief. That was until last week. Last week I was introduced to a sweet new family that had three children and one of those precious kiddos happened to be a blonde hair, blue eyed little boy who is the same age that Shai would have been. Looking into his eyes and seeing his curious personality made my heart twinge for a brief moment. I do not know what Shai would have looked like but I know he had blonde hair and this little boy reminded me so much of what Shai would have been like. I went about my night enjoying great conversation and proceeded to get into my car. My heart was a bit heavy and tears welled in  the corners of my eyes. I wanted to say, "get over it Kristin, it has been over a year. There should be no more tears." How very silly! I remembered that grief is a God given emotion and I needed to work through it and take it to my Father. He wanted to hear. He already knew. I told him how much my heart ached in those moments and how much I longed to hold that little boy. It was such a sweet moment with my Father. I have learned that it is in the pain, chaos and confusion of life that He is the closest. His presence is so near and his peace is so overwhelming. He was not telling me to get over it. He was not impatient or quick with me. In that moment I felt like He held me and told me it was okay to hurt. It was OKAY to miss Shai in that moment even though it has been a year and a half since his death. He then reminded me of His goodness, faithfulness, and fullness. He reminded me that this world is not my home and that one day ALL will be made right because of His greatness. He reminded me that He makes absolute beauty among the ashes.

 As I think of Tshion and the grief she will experience I have hope. I have walked through the valley of the shadow of death. I have felt the overwhelming weight this world can bring into your life. I know what great loss is and the hole it brings to your soul. Of course, there are others that have been through much more than I but I still know the sting. Don't we all.  But, I know the truth that fills that very gaping hole. The love that transforms that aching hole into a beautiful work of art. The grace that says, you do not have to put the pieces back together on your own or in a set time frame. The hope that says, "we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purposes." (Romans 8:28) I pray that Tshion comes to know the One that will take the hurt and the hole from her precious heart and make her whole once more. He is the one that will make the ugly, beautiful! He continues to make the ugly in Shai's death beautiful. To Him be the glory and honor forever!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Happy Birthday Shai

Shai Bear,

Happy birthday sweet boy. Wow, has it already been a year. Not that we have forgotten you. You have been impressed on our hearts forever. Every day there is a thought reserved just for you. The pain has gotten easier. In fact most days my heart does not hurt. I think back with joy in remembering your birth and what a beautiful day it was. Holding you in my arms is still seared into my heart and mind. You were and are such a gift. There are days that my heart aches for the place you should have been in our family. It sneaks up on me. I know that is normal and just a reminder that this world is not my permanent home. I look at some of our friends precious children that are about a year old and I think about what milestones you would have accomplished by now, I am sure many! I wonder if you would have had your daddy's blonde ringlets and big smile. Then I remember where you are right now and that brings much peace and comfort. You are with the one who made you. You will never know pain, sorrow, grieving or sin. It can be such a hard place here in this world that is crying out for redemption. It brings comfort knowing you will never experience that but that you are praising our Father in Heaven and playing on the streets of gold. You have many friends with you, I can think of a couple right off my head and I am sure they are wonderful company. I want your birthday to be something to be rejoiced. I want to remember the joy of having you and the faithfulness of God. We are going to make cupcakes, release a butterfly and then do something another family has done. We will deliver a birthday gift to a boy born on your birthday. What a great opportunity to love someone else and get a chance to share about you my precious love. My child, He has been so faithful. He has brought peace among the roughest storm I have ever lived through. He has used your precious life to comfort others, encourage others and draw others to Himself. He has changed me because of your life. I am a better person because of your existence. You are a gift that is indescribable. You are a blessing that I thank God for every day. What a humbling honor it has been that God entrusted me with loving you. I am so proud to be your mommy and I tell of you often. Your legacy has reached all the way to Africa in creating water wells for the people. Your legacy has brought about the financial help to bring home your brother or sister from Ethiopia. Your legacy has made me realize just how much God loves me. I miss you but I will continue to hold to the steadfast hope I have in seeing you again. Oh how my soul longs for that day. As I have said before, God is not done with me here or He would have taken me home already. So, my sweet boy, as much as I long to be with you and see your face I will run this race called life. I will point to Jesus and love others. When it is time, we will meet again. Until that day, I will think of you always and hold you so dear to my heart. You have a piece of heart in Heaven and you always will. You are not forgotten. I love you with all my heart. Dance baby dance! I will dance with you with the time comes. Happy birthday!


Sunday, January 1, 2012

A year ago

As 2011 came to a close and 2012 has begun, I have pondered on the past year, like most. God has done much and accomplished much. A year ago, January 6th to be exact, I sat in a sonogram room while a doctor told us that our son did not fully form a brain or skull. His prognosis would be death shortly after birth, if not before. This was not how I expected 2011 to begin. I stared at the wall in front of me and asked God what was happening. How could I move past this point. Amazingly enough, time moved on and God has shown me time and time again how His faithfulness and grace sustain those who are weak and heavy laden. So, I wanted to praise God for all He did in the past year by giving thanks for those things. A precious family who is on the same journey as we has modeled a thankful heart well. This is how I will choose to remember 2011. Not as a year of despair but a year of seeing God move in ways that I never thought possible. "Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think." God gets my praise for this past year. Without His ever moving presence and closeness, I would not have survived. He lifted me up on wings of eagles and continues to do so, every day.  So here is my thankful list.

1. God entrusted us with something so valuable and precious, our son. What an honor to be entrusted with something so sweet.
2. God blessed us with a kind, caring, compassionate and understanding doctor and sonographer. God used these two people to make His love and presence made known tangibly.
3. A small group that surrounded us with unconditional support, prayer, encouragement, and love during the next 13 weeks we would carry Shai and beyond his birth and death from this world.
4. A church that wrapped their arms around us and made us feel loved and made our son important.
5. I prayed that God would do a miracle. He did! He answered and gave me a peace that passed all understanding. I can not explain it but from the time I gave over our son's life to God and fully entrusted him with it, there was such a deep rooted peace that even in my pain I knew God was there.
6. A fuller understanding of what Christ did on the cross. Without His powerful life and death on the cross, I would have no hope. Christ brings my hope, my joy, my truth, my strength, my everything.
7. The wisdom of women who have walked this road before me and the wisdom of women who have walked this road after me. I am so grateful for how God has used so many of them to comfort, guide and teach me in this last year.
8. I am grateful for every strong kick I felt Shai make. I am grateful that Amelia felt and saw him move. Pete was also able to feel many of the movements.
9. I am grateful for the pictures that a dear friend took of such a precious time. Those pictures link to the memories that I will carry with me forever. I am so grateful for the time she took out to take them.
10. For a husband that was gracious, loving and ever patient with me. He loved me so deeply even though he was hurting so deeply. He held me, cried with me, and spoke truth to me. I am more in love with that man than I was 12 months ago.
11. For Amelia who reminds me every day what a miracle child bearing truly is. She is a miracle. Her very presence reminds me of that. She is loving, smart, funny and I feel so honored to be her mommy. I pray she will know the depths of the love of Christ. I pray she will see what God has done in this season and praise His name one day.
12. I am grateful for God's Word. It truly is living and active! There was no greater soother of my soul than God's word. Don't get me wrong, there were times that I just wanted to turn away and not hear truth. However, God always finds a way to make His word known. Thank goodness!! So in ever so gentle ways and sometimes very powerful ways, He spoke to me through it and has begun to transform my heart. Head knowledge that I have had forever is finally seeping into the deepest parts of my heart. Because of the trials of this past year, my foundation is even stronger and the roots of my faith are growing deeper and deeper.
13. God has not left or forsaken me. He has been so present. God does not change because of my circumstances. He is the same forever and ever. He had remained steadfast. I am so grateful to have an anchor that never moves and never breaks. He is the anchor I can hang on in the worst of storms and know that I am safe.
14. I am grateful for the birth of my son. Shai's birth was precious and beautiful. There was actual joy in the delivery room. Seeing Shai and holding Shai was one of the sweetest things I have done in this life. He was perfectly created by the creator and He was beautiful.
15. I am grateful we had a precious hour to tell our son how much we loved him and that we never regretted our decision to carry him as long as we could. He will forever be our first born son. 
16. I am grateful for our family. Some traveled long and far to see our son be born and to comfort our hearts. They brought so much strength and love.
17. I am so grateful that Shai's life has touched other's . I am so grateful that his little life has been used to draw other's to Christ or to comfort. His life was not in vain and is still making marks for Jesus. What the enemy used to kill, steal and destroy, God has made beautiful.
18. I am grateful that my husband made it through this deployment and came home to us safely.
19. I am grateful for Leigh Kay and her willingness to come live with me and help in a time when I needed the love of a dear friend. A friend that knows me better than most. She was another answer to prayer.
20. I am grateful for Skype!!!!

I could probably go on and on and on. This is how I sum up last year. God is faithful, true, steady and strong. My love for Him is growing deeper. Someone told me that God must think I am strong and that is why He gave us Shai. I think it is opposite. I think we are very weak. I think one of the ways God used to Shai's existence was to reveal that truth. I am weak and so very dependent on the One who gave me breath in the first place. Without Him, I would be in  a dark pit somewhere right now. He has been my strength. My life support. There are days when the pain sneeks in. There are times I don't trust, ask Pete and Leigh. :) I am so far from perfect or strong. Yet, through God's grace and love for me, He brings strength and hope. You don't have to be perfect or strong to come to God. You just have to be weak and humble and know that you are in need of something far greater than yourself. You are in need of a savior and His name is Jesus! So in this coming year, my main resolution is to not try to venture on this road in my own strength or will but to grow deeper in love with Jesus and rely on His strength and gift of grace!! Maybe I will through in a resolution about doing more pilates. :) We shall see...

Happy New Year!!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Six months

Time moves so fast sometimes. I remember someone telling me once that after you left high school that time would speed up to warp speed. They were right. It has been six months since our sweet Shai left our arms and went into the arms of Jesus. God has given such abundant peace. Peace that can not be explained by my strength or knowledge but only by the supernatural power of the One who holds my heart and soul. He has been faithful to meet me at every point. The first few months were a whirlwind of adjustment. Trying to figure out how to manage this thing called life after Shai died and Pete left for Iraq. God met me there as well. He moved and orchestrated the events that allowed Leigh, my dear friend, to move in with us. She has been used by Him in this season so often that there are no words to express my gratitude.

This last month has been a bit difficult. There have been several close friends that have experienced the same loss that we have just walked through. As my heart aches with them my heart has been opened afresh to the emotion of loosing Shai. Little things that did not affect me before have now caused a tear to stream down my face. Looking at Amelia's eyes and wondering if Shai would have had her piercing blue eyes. Would he have been as stubborn and passionate as Amelia and I or would he be developing his daddy's calmer and more quiet temperament. There are days when the cold reality of not having him in my arms slaps me in the face and takes my breath away. I miss my boy. God has met me in my hurt. He has covered me with His love. He reminds my hurting soul again of who He is and how much He loves me. He reminds me that Shai is not forgotten. He reminds me of how precious His life was and continues to be. He reminds me of the beauty that He has already created. He reminds me of hope. He reminds me through powerful words of others of how He gave His Son on a cross to die for my sins and bring hope. He is not a God who does not understand the pain that I feel at times. He knows. He cares. He is powerful. He is healing our hearts day by day. There are more days than not now when the tears do not stream my pillow at night. There is laughter. There truly are new mercies every morning.

I miss Shai. I rest in knowing who God is and the promises He has given me in His word. I am grateful for the hope that I have knowing that I will see my precious son's face again. I will dance with him again. I will sing with him again. I will hold him again. Praise you Lord for your grace and unfailing love.

"Yet those who wait for the LORD
  Will gain new strength;
  They will mount up with wings like eagles,
  They will run and not get tired,
  They will walk and not become weary." Isaiah 40:31

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Raging Rivers and Calm Lakes

I have had the privilege of spending time with my parents and family for the last month, traveling all over the states. Our longest destination has been on Lake Vallecito in Colorado. It is beautiful here and very peaceful. Just what my heart needed in this season. Not to mention, 6 free and loving babysitters.

I was running one day, well let me clarify, I was running up a hill and then panting for about 1/2 a mile. I had some things come up that were again causing the questions of why bad things happen to rise again. Then out of nowhere the road opened up to the most beautiful view I have ever seen. There were four mountains and in the heart was a beautiful, green valley with a river rushing through it. I sat on a rock and God started speaking. As the river was rushing around huge boulders. I also realized that were were slow moving parts that were very calm and then another set of rushing rapids that were caused by a big rock or debris in the middle of the river. I then thought about my previous white water rafting trip that we had taken a few days earlier. As we were going down the river, the guide pointed out what is called a "strainer". He said it was when debris, like sticks, logs, and other items get caught up and create a vortex that traps other debris. It is not a place to be but it is necessary. It keeps the river clean and allows the flow of the river to remain where it needs to remain. At the end of most rivers is a beautiful, clear lake. We are staying at one of those lakes. It is beautiful!! I started wondering what God was trying to tell me by all of these jumbled thoughts about a river. It hit me like a wave, no pun intended. Our lives are like mountain rivers and our outcome as believers is like that beautiful, clear, mountain lake. There are times in this journey when our lives are calm, peaceful and serene. Then there are times when huge boulders and debris, trials, pop up out of nowhere and cause rapids to develop in our lives. These rapids can often times be overwhelming and make us feel as though we are out of control and scared. Those boulders might be financial issues, marital issues, family issues, other issues or in my case and so many other of my friends lives, the death of a child. Shai's death happened and Pete and I felt helpless as the rapids took us and threw us around. We had no control, we could only trust that something bigger was in control. However, Shai's death had begun and continues the process of stripping us of ourselves and refining us into more Christ-like humans. We are being cleansed of ourselves and being replaced by something better. We are learning and trusting that in ALL things it will work together because we love God and are called according to His purposes. There are parts of us that would not be refined and changed without the life of our precious son and his death. Just like the river rafting guide said, the strainers and boulders are there to clean the river and keep it on the path it is intended for. So here we are, Pete and I,  riding the rapids of death and trusting that God will move and work in our lives as well as others. We will probably go through more rapids in our lifetime but the ultimate goal is to be so refined that when we finally get to heaven we will be like that beautiful, clear mountain lake that has been refined and transformed from where it began on top of a cold mountain. Take something meant for evil and turn it into something beautiful. I don't need to know the full answer to why Shai has died, or why other friends of mine are walking the same valley. What I do need to know is that God is God and He has set my feet upon the rock and I will not be shaken. He is with us as the rapids envelope us and He will guide us through them with His strong right arm and bring us into the beautiful, clear lake that we like to call glory! God is good ALL the time!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Weekends? What?

So, it has been two months since our sweet Shai went home to be with the Lord. In that time, Pete left for Iraq at the beginning of May and my precious mother-in-law went back to California at the end of May. So here we are, Amelia and I.  We passed May 29th which was set to be Shai's original due date. I doubt I would have gone to my due date. If the saying is true that the second one comes faster, Shai would have probably been born about three weeks early.

Anyway, that day was hard. I think about him almost every day. Maybe that sounds like I am a bad mommy but I must admit that becoming a 24/7 single parent makes my mind a little foggy at times. There are times when I think of him that I smile and remember the joy that his little life has brought to ours and to so many others. Then there are times, if I am honest, that I mourn my loss yet again. I think about what he should be doing at two months. What would he have looked like? Would Amelia love him? I am sure she would. I am trying to still piece together what the Lord is wanting to reveal to me through this season of life. It has been one of the most confusing and difficult seasons I have ever walked through. I know one thing He has revealed to me is that His strength is truly made perfect in my weakness. I can not explain it but I know He is holding me tight in His grip in the every day ebb and flow of my life. Every morning I wake up He gently reminds me that it is a day with new mercies. Thank goodness! I must admit that I don't always cling to those gentle reminders. Take yesterday for instance. It was the fourth day that Amelia and I had been just her and I since grandma left. She decided that it would be a day that she would wake up about 6:30am instead of 7:00am. Let me tell you, those 30 minutes can make a world of difference. So I rolled out of bed and accidentally knocked my water off the bedside table. At that moment God's gentle reminder was drowned out by my grumbling heart saying " Well isn't this just dandy, what a great day this will be." It then followed with a grumpy toddler that would not break from her sour mood for anything. She was probably feeding off of mommy's sour mood. :) So all day we fussed with one another and the day was just an off day. We both missed daddy like crazy. That afternoon, I was in need of some Starbucks coffee. I always go to a particular one near my house and I must confess I go a lot because they know who I am. I drove up to the window and the girl on the other side must have seen frustration written all over my face because she gently said, well at least it is the weekend. I smiled and drove away but inside I was thinking HAHAHAHA. If you are a military wife, a wife of a husband that works a lot and you might as well be a single mom or a single mom, let me ask you a question. Is there every anything called a weekend???? Weekends are supposed to be about rest, relaxation, family time. Instead in my life, I am constantly supposed to be on. There are no weekends when daddy is gone and I am to be everything that little girl needs. Where is my rest, who do I lean on???

Do nothing without grumbling and complaining but in everything rejoice and give thanks. There are just those days, that just does not come easy. I went home and that night I was talking to God and telling Him that I was failing and I could not do this. I miss my husband, I need him, I miss Shai, I don't know how to work through all of my feelings, how can I be a good mommy to Amelia in this time. What do I do??? How can I make this season of life something of worth, something that glorifies your name and makes this year a year of growth. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me." 2 Cor 12:9

I am weary. How could I not be. If you have ever walked down a difficult road, whatever it may be, our bodies just grow weary and tired through the process. But again, there is hope!! I do have a place to go, where I can be completely honest and open with my feelings and let someone much bigger than I take the burden for me. Who is this much bigger being, Christ. If I want to make this year something great rather than something mediocre, I have to give this tired, weary body and mind back to God and allow him to bring strength, EVERY minute. That way when the strength comes and great things happen. He will get the praise and the glory. I don't want to live every day waiting for the sun to go down just for another day to come. I want to live in the rest and freedom that Christ brings into my life. I want this year to be life changing for my family, not just a year countdown to when we can start living again.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Little Things

I don't know if anyone still looks at this blog but I think I am going to continue writing in it during Pete's deployment. It has been so nice to just write out my thoughts.

It is hard to believe that it has been a month since we laid our sweet Shai to rest in the Veterans Cemetery. I can't believe how time just seems to fly by. It really does remind me how much my life is just a vapor, here for today and gone tomorrow. There are times that we laugh and everything seems so normal and then something happens to remind me of Shai and my heart longs to hold him in my arms. Those are the times I ask God to hold him a little tighter for me. We go out and visit his grave. It somehow brings peace to just have a place to sit and talk to him. His grave is almost covered with grass, when others have yet to sprout one piece. It makes me smile because it reminds me of the life God brings and how He has used Shai's life in great ways.

We are going into the last few days before Pete's deployment. Can I be honest? I am a bit nervous. It was just a short time ago that I said goodbye to my son and now my best friend and love is going into war yet again. Every army wife has a small fear in the back of their mind that their spouse might not come home. It is just a reality that we live with. It is a fear that must be laid at the feet of Jesus time and time again. After loosing Shai, my human nature comes out and I am afraid to loose Pete as well. I have even struggled with dreams of Pete not coming home. Yet again, I must trust the one I love into the hands of God. This seems to be the song of my life lately. Trust. Hope.

Through this journey with Shai, God is showing me that I am in control of nothing. When I try to control the circumstances in my life and try to make my life the way I desire it, I loose control. It is exhausting. The one thing I have learned and continue to learn as I read and trust is that God wants to be in control and He must be in control. I started thinking about the Lord's prayer and one part of that prayer says "Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done." What do those words truly mean? If I am asking him to truly have his Kingdom and His Will come to earth in the here and now, I have to lay down my control and what I think would be best for it. That might mean temporary pain in the here and now, knowing that it will all work for a greater purpose.  True peace comes from when I open my hands, lay out prostrate and tell him that my life is about His Kingdom coming and His will being done. My life is not my own, it was bought at a price. At the moment I tasted that sweet grace on my parched lips, I offered Him my life. It is no longer to be lived for myself but for Him alone. As I think about Shai, I think about that. When we lifted our hands to God and said your will be done, a peace surrounded us that was greater than anything I had ever experienced. We knew that our son was going to live  a short life but we trusted that God's will would be done and we trusted that His will is good. The lives that have been touched by Shai remind me every day of what trusting God and laying down your will for His will can do. I am reading a book by Ann Voskamp called "One Thousand Gifts", it has been a great read and one of the things she says is that " you have to look through the ugly to see the beautiful." Amen! When we trust God in every situation and lay EVERYTHING at His feet and thank Him for the beauty within the ugly we have joy and peace that goes beyond understanding.

All this to say, I don't know what God's will is for Pete. I must choose to focus on the truth and not the lies. I must not go down the bunny trail. The truth is, God does have a good and perfect plan for Pete's life. His will is the one we seek. We trust that God works everything out for those who love him. No matter what the future holds, God is holding our days and we can trust that God is good. God is holding both of our hands.  I will miss him with every breath. He is my companion and I will miss having him beside me for this temporary time. I am honored to serve beside him. I could not feel more grateful to be his wife. Lord, your will be done. We will choose to trust. Please give us the strength when we have none. Show us mercy and remind us of who you are and continue to be.