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.

Permission

For two years the hardest place for me to go in our house is Anna’s closet. It was where she spent a lot of her time – which may sound very strange but it’s almost big enough to be a room on it’s own. It was not only her closet but her office, apartment, Baby Mary’s room and her hang out spot.  I have beautiful memories of both the girls playing house together in this space. Anna would be so thrilled to be “hanging out” with her older sister and Abigail was thrilled to be “playing” with her younger sister.

This space has gone untouched for two years.

I’ve been spending some time thinking about where to put our little one’s clothes. She is sharing a room with her big sister Anna but, after we made that decision, I also decided that the closet would be off limits, that’s Anna’s space. This morning, my nesting instincts in high gear, I found myself at a loss on where to store this littles belongings.

I then heard her faint whisper, “Mom, it’s ok she can use my closet.”

It was so clear that I yelled to Tom that Anna just gave me permission to use her sacred space for her sister. We both cried.

This morning I have been in Anna’s closet longer than I have in the past two years. I cleaned it, reorganized some of her things, put away things I know that she wouldn’t want her sister to get into (yet) and then made some room so that they can share this sacred space.

While cleaning out drawers and looking through half used notebooks I found new treasures which made it so clear to me why today, of all days, Anna whispered in my ear.

Today my daughter, once again, gave me reassurance that Heaven is so close and that both my girls will be very present when their little sister arrives home.

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Drawing in my Bible

There are mornings when it seems I can’t quite make it happen. I’ve got orders to process, emails to write, a dog begging for a walk, a blog post to ponder over or I just simply,  choose not to. I know it should always be my first priority and when I do start my day off in the Word it always helps my hurting heart. It never ceases to amaze me that, when I make the choice to start my day off in prayer and in the Word, the words that I read are exactly what I need to hear.

It’s always as though God is whispering His truth into my soul.

About a month ago I was meandering through Pinterest, just for fun, and came across a pin which lead me to this website ~ Illustrated Faith. This site then lead me down a creative adventure of the world of art journaling in your bible.

I immediately got online, ordered a journaling bible, some water-soluble pastels and pulled out all my watercolors, markers and colored pencils I had stashed in our studio.

I knew that what I had found was the a key to unlocking the creative side of my faith. I love to draw and be creative but often find excuses of why I don’t have time. Being creative is what I did with the girls ~ Tuesday art night, weeks of having the dining room tabled piled high with art supplies, our own art studio equipped with everything you need to create.

I miss my creative partners.

About a week ago my journaling bible was finally delivered. I cleared a space at the end of our dinning room table and set up a little creative space for myself. All my supplies within arms reach and photos, that I usually keep in my bible, out where I can see them.

For the past week I have faithfully spent time sitting, reflecting, reading and listening to His whispers. I then create in my bible what I feel moved to create. Sometimes it’s taking a scripture that really speaks to me and rewriting it in the margin. Sometimes it’s illustrating how the words look and feel in my mind and heart. Sometimes it’s just underlining and highlighting my favorite scriptures. It really has been very organic and has nicely woven my interest of art with my passion for listening to God and reading His Word.

I may still have excuses some mornings of being too busy to make it to this space, but I really feel that being introduced to this method of studying the bible is yet another nudge from Heaven to keep me anchored in the Word.

Following His nudges have never failed me and being creative at our dining room table connects me to my two all-time favorite artists!

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A Gift from Heaven

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I stopped by to deliver a gift to my dear friend Shannon and her lovely family. They have been so supportive this past year and have continued to be present in our lives; through the love and joy and through the tears. Shannon and her family mean the world to us, I’m sure that’s why she was selected to be the messenger.

She seemed nervous at first, not really knowing how to even tell me about the gift she had for me. On the table I could see two flowers made of metallic paper and beads with stems made out of silver pipe cleaners. The flowers were presented in a beautiful yellow vase ~ I thought to myself, it looks like something my girls would make.

Shannon began by telling me she had a vivid dream of my Anna a couple of weeks back. My girl didn’t say anything (she usually doesn’t in my dreams either) but she gave Shannon two handmade flowers.

She went on and told me that when she woke up she knew that she had to do something. She searched and searched and couldn’t find the flowers, like the ones in the dream, anywhere. She laughed as she said she started away from Forest Grove ~ searching the stores she knew had artificial handmade flowers ~ nothing seemed right.

She then came back and went into our local antique shop where she found handmade flowers made from a local community member. They were perfect. She bought just two, like in her dream, and then put them in the vase for presentation. As she shared she laughed because she wasn’t sure about it all and checked with her daughter to make sure she wasn’t doing the wrong thing by giving it to me. Her daughter approved.

I was at a loss for words because I knew what was happening. Anna was giving me a Christmas gift from Heaven.

This beautiful handmade gift is not from my dear friend but rather from my Anna. Shannon’s gift to me was that she listened and was not afraid to be the messenger.  I think Anna knew that Shannon would do just that and in a loving and caring way, that is why she chose her.

Thank you so much Shannon for being Anna’s messenger and for being such an amazing friend. I love you so much!

My girls are celebrating the birth of Jesus today and they are in His presence. I can only imagine the Love and Joy they are feeling on this glorious day.

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Who Am I?

On Sunday I didn’t want to go to church, I didn’t want to be in a play anymore and I definitely didn’t want to get out of bed. It has been harder, days seem longer and the time here on earth is passing slowly ~ at least that’s what it feels like to me.

I sat in counseling yesterday and shared that I felt depressed ~ something I don’t like to admit.

My depression is not of hopelessness though, it’s just an overwhelming sense of longing ~ longing to see their faces in the flesh and not on a computer screen.

On Sunday I sluggishly got out of bed and got ready for church. My heart was very sad.

Pastor Rocky was preaching on a series entitled And He will be Called, where each week Pastor Rudy, and this week Pastor Rocky, examine the scripture Isaiah 9:6 “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” This week Pastor Rocky was going to be looking at Everlasting Father. He opened with stories about his childhood and his relationship with his own father.

Like I said at the beginning, I didn’t want to go to church this week, mainly because I was tired but also because my longing for my girls was surpassing my peace. I’ve been struggling a lot lately trying to figure out who I am now and how I fit into this world. Yes, God blesses us everyday and I see clearly how he is using our suffering for His glory, but even with clearly seeing God’s Glory I still struggle.

I’m a mom and I’m trying to mother my children the best way I know how ~ even now that they are no longer here with me. Mothering my children from this distance is tiring and very hard to do. I miss mothering my children in the way I used to. My heart hurts in ways I would never wish upon anyone…this pain is unimaginable and every day when I wake up and realize within seconds that this life isn’t a dream but my reality I want to go back to sleep. I hate that Anna isn’t going to run down the steps any moment and cuddle with me in bed.

Every morning I wake up asking the question, who am I now?

Pastor Rocky is an amazing story-teller. I’ve enjoyed his sermons time and time again, but on Sunday I just wanted it to be over. I was tired of his stories and really couldn’t find any relevance to my life in what he was saying. I kept thinking about my own story, my own relationship with my earthly father and with my Heavenly Father and how both were solid. I knew that God was my Everlasting Father ~ no need to keep preaching about it.  When was he going to stop talking?

My mind drifted to the last time we went to church as a family, October 20th, 2013, and how I sat nudging Abigail, hoping she was listening to Pastor Rudy preach about filling our gaps with trust ~ it was so relevant to our relationship at the time (pre-teen daughter and mother trying to figure it all out). I sat thinking about how excited Anna was that they finally had the treasure box store on a day she was there. She was loaded with gold coins and able to clean house…she was thrilled that all of her paying attention and remembering to bring her bible each week paid off.

I had no idea that was our last day together.

My eyes filled with tears ~ he was still preaching.

As the time grew near for him to end his sermon he shared the scripture Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Again, how was this relevant? He asked us to replace Jesus Christ with our own names and then asked if that was a true statement for us. Are we the same as we were yesterday and will we be the same in the future?

I felt a nudge and my eyes filled with tears.

I have been trying to define who I am in terms of my ever-changing circumstances through a life that is unpredictable. I am not the same person I was on Oct. 19th, 2013 nor will I be the same person 10 years from now. No matter what my circumstances in life I will always be changing, growing and searching for the answer to the question, who am I?

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

No matter what my circumstance there is only one thing in my life that has and will always be constant and that is Christ. He is my constant and His love for me has not changed since before I was born and will continue for all of eternity.

He is the same as He was when I was running around in diapers and fighting with my brothers, He is the same as He was when I made bad choices in my teenage years, He is the same as He was as I drove across the country to start my life new life Oregon, He is the same as He was on the day I looked into Anna’s eyes for the first time, He is the same as He was one day I met Tom and knew he was the one I was going to spend the rest of my life with, He is the same as He was when He wrapped His arms around me as I watched the unimaginable happen in front of my house, He is still the same as I sit here praying for the right words to represent my thoughts and He will be the same when I arrive in Heaven and am in His presence.

He is the same and is constant and He loves me no matter who I am.

Christ is Love, He is Peace, He is Joy, He is my Strength and my Comforter. He is the Way, the Truth and the Light.

Who am I?  I am a daughter of Christ, my Wonderful Counselor, my Mighty God, my Everlasting Father and my Prince of Peace ~ and that is enough.  THAT IS ENOUGH!!!

My prayer and plan is to trust that fact when I have a hard time finding meaning, or purpose or when the longing for my girls is unbearable. I trust that my Heavenly Father is taking tremendous care of Anna and Abigail in Heaven just like He is taking care of me.

I definitely felt Abigail’s nudge at the end of Pastor Rocky’s sermon ~  I’m filling the gaps with trust in Christ.

As I was finishing up this post a dear friend sent me this on Facebook…it couldn’t be more perfect!

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He tenderly wipes the tears from my eyes every day and I am so grateful to be His.

Love Rocks and Tea Cups

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I was standing in line waiting.  The little boy behind me was so excited and talking non-stop about what ride he was going on next. His mom was asking him questions and prompting him to remember that he was not the only one in his group. “Maybe we should ask your sister what she wants to do next.”

“Elsa and Anna,” his little sister said loudly.

I turned to see the face of this little voice and smiled. Tom and I had just watched Frozen for the first time on Anna and Abigail’s Heaven Day ~ I could totally understand why any little girl would want to meet these two sisters.

The dad, seeing that I was listening and smiling, then asked, “Where is the rest of your family?”

I guess it is safe to assume that when you are at Disneyland you are usually with your family ~ most often little children. I smiled thinking that he saw in me a mother, a wife and someone that, of course, would be sharing this experience with her family.

~

What I had experienced the day before was that I was not alone on my little adventure to Disney. My girls met me there from Heaven. I could not see them or touch them but I could hear them ~ their excitement, their laughter, their bickering over which ride or attraction to see next and their overall awe of a place they had always wanted to go.

I can honestly say that it was truly amazing how they showed up. They guided me through that park and made sure I didn’t miss anything they wanted to do ~ except for the teacups where I had a long conversation (yes, I was that lady who appeared to be talking to herself) with Anna about how I just couldn’t do it and that if I did I would surely get sick. We settled on watching and leaving 20 Love Rocks instead.

That was not the only place I left Love Rocks ~ I brought over 200 and they were all left in the park. My girls loved to play spy and sneak around the house leaving little treasure for me to find. I’m sure I had some Heavenly protection as I placed each Love Rock as I know there was some security guy watching me on surveillance wondering what I was doing.

At the end of my day I sat on Main St. waiting to watch Mickey’s Soundsational Parade. I wanted to make sure I got a good seat, front row and in the shade. I sat there watching as family after family walked by.

My heart began to get heavy, I missed my family.

The parade started and I could hear Anna as clear as day whisper in my ear, “Mama, this is so fun, thank you so much for bringing us!” And then she said the best part, “I love you so much!”

I smiled and watched the best parade I’ve seen in a long time and it didn’t even have candy.

~

“They will be here shortly,” I told the dad and then I shared with his kids what our favorite rides were.

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