Happy Easter

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him.”  ~ Romans 15:13

Today I’m really emotional and extremely grateful.

He is Risen and through Him we have eternal life! I am so grateful for the love He shows me minute by minute and the hope He gives me in this broken life. I am extremely grateful for Heaven too!

Have a beautiful and blessed Easter! Happy Easter

 

How many more sleeps?

This post was originally posted in March of 2014 and reposted today because I miss my travel partners.

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“How many more sleeps till Nana’s house?” The question asked hundreds of times in past 7 years.

Anna would always be so excited about our pending trips back to Ohio. She loved visiting Nana and Papa, so much that as a toddler she would announce to the entire plane “We’re in Ohio”, upon landing in Cleveland.

During these many trips across the county we developed some really fun games, learned how to not kick the seat in front of us and found that novel toys and new Wonder Pet videos were the key to a day of traveling. We also had many discussions about what the “little bag” was for. Anna, in her 7 years, never once got sick. For her the barf bag was more of a means to make an awesome hand puppet to entertain her Mama.

In 2011 Abigail, Anna and I made a trip to Ohio for spring break. I knew that it was going to be one of many trips back East that the three of us would take during this time. I promised the girls that we would try to get back every year during the Spring to see family and to go on a little adventure together. They loved that idea. In the Fall we were already planning our March visit to Nana and Papa’s new house.

During that very first trip I knew that Abigail was a little nervous. She had never really flown without her dad before and although she was really comfortable with Anna and I, I knew that she was probably going to get a little home sick. I felt so blessed to have her with us and to introduce her as my daughter. Anna was excited to show her Nana’s house and to introduce her to Isabella.

On the first leg of our trip all was going according to plan until Abigail looked at me, a little green, and said she wasn’t feeling well. I knew this was going to turn from a joyous plan ride to a smelly, yucky, barforama real quick. I can deal with a lot of stuff but one thing I can’t deal with is someone throwing up, not even my own kid. So here I am, in a very confined space about to experience something I knew was going to make me gag. I was hoping she was just imagining that she was sick, you know when kids just feel a little woozy and nothing really happens. This was definitely not the case as she was starting to convulse a bit. I looked at Anna, eyes wide and said, “quick Anna, give me the barf bag.” Anna promptly reached into the pocket in front of her and grabbed the hand puppet, I mean barf bag.

I put it up to Abigail’s face and, as she held it, I rubbed her back saying a little prayer, “please God, don’t let me barf.” Abigail did get sick but I never saw it, everything went into the bag. When she was all done she looked at me and said, “I feel much better.”

Sometimes that’s all it takes.

I was so proud of her that I stuck out my hand and gave her a high-five along with telling her she was a rock star. We all laughed and continued to give the high fives every time we retold the heroic story of how we, all three of us, worked as a team to make sure the barf went in the bag.

I’m smiling as I type, thinking that my girls are giving each other a high-five as I retell the story.

Our first trip back East as a threesome was amazing. My family loved Abigail as their own and the cousins bonded as if they knew each other since day one.  My heart was full each night as Abigail would give my dad a big hug and say, “good night Papa.” I know his heart was full of love too.

We did have some issues with delays on the way back home but ended up in a fancy hotel in Chicago. Every trip since then my girls would pray that we would have delays so we could jump on the beds in Chicago again. Such great memories of our adventures together.

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This week my heart has been heavy. I’ve been struggling to pinpoint the cause, worried that maybe it was due to bringing Linus into our lives to soon. I’ve talked with friends about their spring break plans, I’ve watched the weather change as the sun beams through our windows and sensed the spring fairies presence as I watch the tulips and daffodils starting to take form in the front yard.

This morning the reason for my heavy heart dawned on me.

This week, Anna would be asking over and over, “how many more sleeps Mama till we go to Ohio?” I would be replying in single digits. We would be dusting off the suitcases and I know that both girls would have a pile of their favorite clothes sitting neatly on the floor waiting to be packed. They would ask if I was secretively putting together a goody bag for the plane and secretively I would be.  They would want to sleep in the same room, something they loved to do when something exciting was approaching.

We would all be so excited!

My heart is heavy because I want to hear Anna ask, “how many more sleeps Mama?”

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Photo taken by Anna on a trip to Ohio.

As for bringing Linus into our lives too soon. He is our healer sent from God and I truly know this to be the case. As my heart is heavy, he fills it with Joy. I’ve watch all week how this little guy has brought happiness to those he comes in contact with. Our community, our close friends and especially Anna and Abigail’s friends needed Linus. We needed Linus. He brings a smile to everyone that comes in contact with him and that brings a smile to my face.

I just wish my girls could snuggle with him, he’s a good snuggler and so are my girls.

Crossroads

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Two weeks ago I sat here staring at a blank post, wanting desperately for the time I needed to write. I didn’t want to think about how long my little one would be napping or whether I should be checking things off my to do list. What I wanted more than anything was to connect with my grief and longing in the way I used to. I wanted to sit and wait for the words to come without trying to force the words out because I was pressed for time. My heart felt extremely overwhelmed.

Since the girls went to Heaven I have used this space as a way to connect with our memories as a family, share my heart through my grief and also share how, even in the deepest of suffering, my faith in God has allowed me to have joy. Through this space I have connected with so many people who have broken hearts just like mine, and I have always felt that sharing our story of love, hope and faith is something I should do for the rest of my days. God gives me peace each morning and I feel compelled to share that peace with others.

In the past couple of months I have also been feeling a nudge to share more of myself and my journey as a mom of a little one. Again, I have struggled finding the time to write and figure out how to merge both my present and my past together in words.

Two weeks ago as I sat staring at a blank post I came to a crossroads: do I stop writing in this space and ask God for peace in that decision or ask God to show me what I need to do to continue to write and share our journey, which now includes life with a little one?

I sat and prayed.

Later that same day, not expecting an answer so quickly, I saw a post by a friend of mine. She is a managing editor of a blog that is looking for new contributors.  Portland Moms Blog is a space to foster and support the community by connecting Portland-area moms to information and parenting perspectives unique to the city and region. Basically it is a collection of moms writing about mothering from their own unique and diverse perspectives, all living in the Portland metro area.

I sent a message to my friend asking if she felt it was something I could do. Her response was, “OMG, you SHOULD!!!”

Later that night the fear and anxiety of not being a good enough writer started to take space in my thoughts. I started to question how I would have time as a scheduled contributor when I didn’t have time to write on my own time for my own blog. I started to doubt and let that fear of the unknown make my decision for me.

Then it hit me. This wasn’t my decision at all. I had asked God for guidance and He was giving it to me. I just needed to trust that the door He was opening and be obedient. That is when the peace came and I thought about the mom that is out there suffering in the same way that I suffer. The mom, like me, that couldn’t relate to a mom’s blog because “those moms” still had all their babies. It became so clear to me that our story of grief is not the only story of grief in this area and that in writing in this new space I can give grieving moms a voice.

In trusting Him I know that I will also be able to find the time, find the words and share my story in a way that honors, not only my mothering, but the many other woman that mother through a broken heart as well.

Today I am honored to say that I am now a contributor to the Portland Moms Blog. I have no idea where this new venture will lead me but I do know that it is an answer to prayer.

Last Sunday there was a gathering of the contributors and leadership team of PMB. As I sat amongst these woman I couldn’t help but be grateful for the opportunity to not only meet them but also share stories of mothering with them <3.

Home on Heaven Day

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Three years ago today my girls went home.

I’m sure for them there was some shock and disbelief, going to Heaven wasn’t part of our family plan ~ not yet anyways. When I close my eyes and think about where my girls are now I can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of peace through my deep pain ~ my girls are in the presence of God.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:7

In the moment they entered Heaven I know that God opened up His loving arms and held my girls for a very long time ~ He’s still holding them (and us ❤ ). They were now physically separated from Tom, myself and everyone they love and I know that they were probably worried about all of us. I know that there is protection when little ones go to Heaven, protection from seeing our suffering. Anna and Abigail  I know see the whole picture of their love and joy before them – they have a front row seat to God’s glory playing out.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Romans 8:18

I daydream about Heaven all the time now.

In my daydreams I think about Anna, my little nurturer. Knowing her heart and her love for little ones I have no doubt that one of her responsibilities in Heaven is to hold new babies as they enter. When I close my eyes I can see her beautiful smile as she looks down at these infants, lost too soon to this world, but taken care of by my girl. That is a perfect job for Anna, her own Heavenly childcare. I also know that she has her sights on her little sister, Alice. I’m waiting for the day that Alice shares her secrets from Anna with me.

As for Abigail, well, I can say that she is probably keeping everyone smiling, performing in some way for everyone around her. Abigail also, I’m sure, is keeping her loved ones here very close. She always wanted her family to be happy and “ok.” If you personally know her and think you hear or feel her presence don’t doubt that one bit…I often hear her whispering,  “take care of my dad, Susan.”

Today, on Anna and Abby’s 3rd Heaven Day, will you close your eyes and daydream about Heaven with me and open up your heart to God’s love and joy? Choosing to trust Him with all of my heart the day my girls entered Heaven, not only has given me strength, but also has opened my eyes to a place that is so beautiful and filled with an abundance of love and joy.

This place, Heaven, is where my girls call home.

Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.   Isaiah 40:31 

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I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.  Genesis 9:13

Thank you all so much for your love, prayers and support. Our family is so fortunate to have such an amazing community, near and far, that have chosen to join us in honoring our girls by loving others.

Love and Joy ❤

 

Abby Style

Abs and friendsI remember worrying about them on the night my daughters went to Heaven. I remember asking God to hold them and comfort them. I remember my heart aching for their loss ~ my loss.

I remember wondering if these children would ever be the same after something so tragic invaded their lives. I cried for them because they would wake up and not have my girls to call, to tell secrets to, to talk about life with, to laugh with and to celebrate with all the milestones they had yet to encounter. They were all so little and life was so hard.

When we were in the hospital waiting for Abigail’s organs to be matched a group of her friends came to visit and say goodbye. As we were gathered around her bed I pulled back the covers to show them her mismatched brightly painted toenails ~ I wanted them to know that she was still there beyond the machines that were helping her breath. Through our heartache we all smiled, laughed and told stories about how she loved to sit and paint each nail like a work of art ~ something we now call Abby Style. I remember how my heart felt as I saw each of them trying to make sense of what was happening. I remember wanting to take their pain away. I remember wanting for the nightmare to end and for us all to wake up. I remember holding her toes and being so grateful for her artistic ability.

I am so grateful for the friendships Anna and Abby have ~ as a mom that is one thing I wanted for my children, to have solid friendships and to know what it felt like to love and  be loved by friends. My girls have both and those friendships have truly transcended through the toughest of circumstances.

This weekend two of Abigail’s dearest friends, Savannah and Grace, came over to help me with her quilt square for the Donate Life Threads for Life Quilt. These girls have become involved with Donate Life in honor of their friend and have been helping to share her donation story with their classmates, inspiring them to become a registered donor.

These two girls mean more to me than I think they could ever know. They have made a connection with Tom and I on a level that helps us stay connected with where Abigail would be at this moment in time. This connection is not due to pity or obligation, but rather is one based purely on the love they feel for their friend. When they hug Tom and I we not only feel their arms wrapped tightly around us but we also feel Abigail’s arms.  I have a feeling that they would say the same thing about hugging us…they feel Abigail too.

After doing some sewing they went to their friend’s room, sat on her bed like teenagers do, and reminisced about the good old days when life wasn’t so hard.

The door was shut so I couldn’t hear what was said and that is exactly the way Abigail would have wanted it.

Abigail's friends

Thank you Savannah and Grace for loving Abigail with your whole heart and for loving her parents just the same. She is so lucky to have you both. Love you ❤

 

Heaven Day

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Came out of our house this morning to this ❤

Last night I slept the entire night (which is not normal for me these days) and woke up feeling totally covered in prayer.

Thank you ❤

The anticipation of a day is sometimes the hardest when dates on the calendar have meaning ~ holidays, changing of a season, birthdays and Heaven Day.

Heaven Day ~ a date on the calendar that marks that we are another year closer to our girls.

The past 2 years have flown by…I truly feel like it was just yesterday Abigail was picking out Tom’s clothes for church and Anna and I were making waffles for breakfast. I’m grateful that those memories are still so vivid and that they feel so close.

I was told early on that year 2 was the hardest. We are through year 2 and I can say that it’s all been pretty hard. The longing in my heart for Anna and Abigail will never change and/or ease ~ never. What I can say is that in choosing to love, in choosing to celebrate their lives and take all of the focus off the negative and put it all on how beautiful my girls are (not were), both inside and out, keeps them here with us.

Shortly after they went to Heaven I had a tremendous fear that one day they would just go away. That I would have to say goodbye for good and that I would be expected to move on.  My fear was that someone someday would say, “Susan, it’s time.”

I made a commitment to the girls and to myself  that I would not do that, ever, I promised them that their legacy would be far-reaching and I would do everything I could to hold them tight for as long as we were apart. I am sure that in Heaven, seeing the whole picture, they have no expectations for me. Being their mom, which will never change, I will always take care of them ~ I can’t imagine ever “moving on” from that.

On the morning of Oct. 20, 2013 I was proud of my girls for the young ladies they were becoming. I remember feeling so blessed to have such a beautiful, loving and caring family. I remember daydreaming about what they would do in their lives and who they would become.

This morning, Oct. 20, 2015, I am still proud but in ways I would have never imagined.  Anna and Abigail have shown me what it means to truly love and to do so without expectations. They have been a light and a link to the Hope that we all can have through God.

One day there will be an Oct. 20th when we are all together in Heaven seeing the whole picture and feeling the purest of love and joy there is.

I can’t wait for that day!!!

Thank you all again for your constant love, support and prayers. We truly feel blessed by each and every one of you ❤ heaven day