Friday, November 27, 2009

My List

My List

Let me tell you about it.

It is a list of all the things I am thankful for.

I actually started this list three and a half years ago when my son was just a baby.

My son, for the first year of life at least, NEVER slept. Seriously. It was a rough time. I was beside myself with exhaustion and frustration. Adjusting to motherhood is tough enough and throw in being married to a Marine Corps Pilot on a deployment cycle and it basically brought me to the brink.

Those were hard months. I would sit in the rocking chair in my son's nursery at two in the morning in tears as I rocked, patted or nursed him to sleep for the fourth, fifth, and sometimes eighth time.

Yes, eight times.

Trust me when I say that MY SON JUST WOULDN'T SLEEP.

One night as I sat alone with my son in my arms, exhausted and desperate, instead of just crying, I cried out to the Lord.

I need help Lord. I love my baby but I'm SO TIRED. I need relief. Help my son sleep, He needs it and I need it. What am I doing wrong? I never thought it would be this hard. And I'm so exhausted I don't even know what to do or how to do it. What should I do Lord? What should I do?

No, my son didn't instantly sleep through the night at that point. It was months and months before the sleeping issues were worked out. That was not the miracle I got that day.

In the dark quiet a thought came to my mind (put there by the Lord without question) to make a list of all the things I am thankful for and read it when I was feeling low to shift my focus. God, in his wisdom, wanted to change my heart, not my circumstances. I was dwelling on the difficult things so much that I was forgetting about all the blessings my life was full of.

So I did. I made a list the next day and read it often, even in the middle of the night, and have been doing it ever since.

My first list looked something like this:
  1. The living written word of God, the Bible.
  2. My beautiful and healthy little boy
  3. My husband and his provision for our family though the privilege and honor of serving our country.
  4. My husband's safe return home from Iraq.
  5. Our health
  6. Living near the ocean
  7. The invention of the digital video recorder.
  8. Fresh produce from the farmer's market
  9. Green jasmine tea (basically sanity in a cup) and
  10. Having a two car household

It wasn't an exhaustive list. There is so much to be thankful for when you really sit down and think about it. From the most lighthearted things to the most important, God's blessings are truly too many to count. But at the time, these ten things got me through that season of my life...not the actual things...but how focusing on these things (and the One who provided them) redirected my heart.

In the years since, my list has changed and grown and shrunk and grown again.

Last Thanksgiving was the first without my girls. And I can't lie, it was painful to be thankful that day. I felt that all the things I had to be thankful for all added together did not out weigh the pain of the one thing I was NOT thankful for.

My girls were not with me.

It has been a long journey for me learning how to maintain a spirit of gratitude in the midst of true pain. The sleepless nights of the first year of my son's life pale in comparison to the grief I have endured since the deaths of my daughters.

As it turns out, a ten point list would not do the trick this time. Nor would a thousand point list.

This year my list has but one point.

Not that I am only thankful for one thing, but all that I am thankful for falls under this single point.

I AM NOT ALONE.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Enjoy your holiday.

Deuteronomy 31:8 The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Half Marathon Pictures

Let me just say in advance I am sorry that I don't have more pictures. I know I know...what was I thinking right? These are all from the end of the race. I admit, I am HORRIBLE at remembering to take pictures so thank goodness Tim (Melissa's hubby) remembered his camera. I was also hoping that the official race photographers would have some of me running in the race since last year they took several, but when I checked the data base this year they have not been postede yet. So, when those are available I will add them. For now, this is all I have.

Just crossed the finish line!
Sportin' my medal with my husband Kirk.

Me and Melissa. This was her first half marathon and she
did amazingly. Thank you Missy for sticking it out with me.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Good Question

***UPDATE***
I feel compelled to amend this post a bit. I have receive a number of touching comments and emails that have nudged me to share just a bit more of my heart on this matter.

For those of you who are wondering, it has not been easy for me to say YES to God in this regard. Not at all. As a matter of fact, I have to say yes daily, sometimes hourly, as my grief undermines my trust over and over. It is a daily battle I fight, a choice I continually have to make, to let what I KNOW override what I FEEL as I walk this long, slow journey of healing and restoration.

And I still have moments I honestly can't say it. All I can do I ask God to carry me there again, to the place where I once said yes, to cast yet another stone of remembrance for the grace I have in my Savior who still holds me despite my hurt and anger. He sits so patiently with me while I wrestle my unbelief serving me living water whenever I wearily request it.

And it is these moments of intimacy, these glimpses of my Heavenly Father's heart, when I accept that HE IS ENOUGH. I don't even have to say it, HE JUST KNOWS, as I rest awhile in the same loving arms that hold my girls, that hold all of us, if we just let Him.

For those of you who are not there yet. Don't lose heart. Just this morning I wasn't there again. But I'm back now and so you shall be if you let God finish the work He has begun in your heart and in your life.

It is never a mistake to trust God. Easier said than done I know, but it is the truth. It is NEVER a mistake to trust God. Be strong fellow sojourners. Have faith. You'll get there.

Original Post Follows

********************************************************************************

I know I promised pictures from the half marathon, but I don't have them yet. As soon as I do I PROMISE I will post them.

In the meantime I wanted to share something with you.

Those of you who follow my blog regularly probably saw that last week I added a blog button on the top left corner that says "Praying For Lydia." If you click on it to meet Lydia and read her story you'll be blessed I promise. Maybe you will even join me in praying?

Jen (Lydia's wonderful mommy and a friend of mine) is a fantastic writer and photographer. She truly writes from the heart and I have learned so much from her about how to trust God through pain and uncertainty. You would think that I would have something to teach her since my tragedy came first. That my experience would put me ahead of her so to speak. But it is not so. Her post Before Lydia touched me more than any other so far.

I love how God never stops weaving our good and His glory into the tapestry of our lives. What God is speaking to Jen is really what he is speaking to all of us, reminding us of who He is and what He wants to be in our lives. But He can't force himself into our hearts. We must invite him in and allow him to be everything to us. He has to ask the hard questions and wait for our answer.

If I say NO forever, am I enough for you?

I have spent the last year and a half declining to answer. I wanted to use my silence to buy time, waiting to see what God did before I made my decision. Truthfully I was afraid what saying yes would mean for me. Would making God enough mean losing what I loved so dearly? Even now it hurts to think back on all the "no's" God said to me while I prayed for a miracle for my girls, while I prayed for their very lives.

God, please stop my labor.

No.

God, please spare my babies from all the complications of premature birth.

No.

God, please let Ellie live.

No.

God, please let Aubrey live.

No.

And not just no for now or no for a while but no FOREVER.

If I say NO forever, am I enough for you?

I heard this question repeatedly in my own mind the days Aubrey and Ellie were alive. Every time I looked at my sweet girls' faces this question echoed in my soul.

But I could not answer.

As I sat and stared at their tiny casket the day of their funeral I remember hearing it again but differently this time.

Am I enough for you?

God had said no to me. If was no longer in the question.

I still could not answer.

Pain makes everything confusing. Those days were so hard for me and I would be lying if I said God felt like enough.

NOTHING felt like enough.

But God only felt insufficient because of who I am, not because of who He is. Who God is does not depend on how I feel about Him. He remains enough, even in my darkest moments. Even when the answer is no forever. His love is perfect. His ways are always good. It is God's nature, the very essence of who He is, to care and provide for us all that we need if we allow him to. And He is willing and able to do it IN EVERY WAY.

You just have to answer the question Yes.

When nothing feels like enough...

HE IS!

Are you ready to answer yet?

I am.

Finally.

Better now than never.

I'm a little scared.

But completely sincere.

YES Lord, you are enough for me.

I have made you and I will carry you;I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isa 46:4

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Drum Roll Please.....

I have completed the half marathon!

And let me say, it was an honor. It could not have been a more beautiful day. I wore my t-shirt proudly and ran my heart out.

My official time is 2:11:10.

Better than last year most certainly and faster than my goal time of 2:15:00.

I will post pictures soon as well as the names of all the babies I ran for. I am just too tuckered out right now.

Thank you EVERYONE for your prayers and support. I heard all your comments in my head throughout the race and was honored to wear your child's name on my shirt.

I know Aubrey and Ellie would be proud of me.

Heck, I am proud of me.

I think I ran well today.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Pre-Race Jitters

The Half Marathon is tomorrow and I definitely have the pre-race jitters.

I love them and hate them at the same time.

I love them because they remind me of league final basketball games, packing to leave for college, and the night before my wedding. Those are the jitters that mean something wonderful is about to happen. Something exciting or amazing.

I hate them because they also remind me of sitting in the dentist chair, watching my husband leave on deployment to Iraq (twice), and being told by a doctor that he has something very important to tell us. Those are the jitters that mean something terrible is about to happen. Something scary or sad.

Yet good jitters, bad jitters, or no jitters...

Life keeps happening.

Games won (and lost), college finished, wedding vows said, cavities found (and fixed), deployments over (for now), and races started and...

some never finished. Not in this life anyway.

Tomorrow I will run and I hope that I run well. But even after 13.1 miles my race will not be over.

Its just beginning.

I guess that is why I have the jitters. It is going to be a really long race.

But these are the good jitters. Something wonderful is going to happen. Something exciting and amazing. This might just turn out to be the best race ever.

And the half marathon?

I'll let you know how that goes too.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Aubrey's Name

I don't know if I have mentioned this before, but I have always known that if I ever had a daughter I would name her Aubrey. When I was very young I fell in love with that name. When I met my husband one of the first things I did was ask him what he thought of the name. It was one of my secret husband requirements. I just had to have that name.

I first heard it in a song by a band called Bread. Bread was a very popular band in the 70s and since my dad loved 70s music I grew up listening to Bread a lot. They remain one of my favorite bands today, mostly because their music brings back endless memories of my happy childhood. But also because they have a song called Aubrey, the very inspiration behind the name of my first born daughter.

I wanted to post the lyrics here so that everyone could see what inspired Aubrey's name. As I read through them though they made me very sad. The song is strangely descriptive and hit a little too close to home.

Honestly, it made me cry.

Let me know if you read the similarities too.

Aubrey by Bread

And Aubrey was her name,
A not so very ordinary girl or name.

But who's to blame?
For a love that wouldn't bloom
For the hearts that never played in tune.
Like a lovely melody that everyone can sing,
Take away the words that rhyme it doesn't mean a thing.

And Aubrey was her name.
We tripped the light and danced together to the moon,
But there was June.

No it never came around.
If it did it never made a sound,
Maybe I was absent or was listening to fast,
Catching all the words,
but then the meaning going past,

But God I miss the girl,
And I'd go a thousand times around the world just to be
Closer to her than to me.

And Aubrey was her name,
I never knew her, but I loved her just the same,
I loved her name.

Wish that I had found the way
And the reasons that would make her stay.

I have learned to lead a life apart from all the rest.
If I can't have the one I want,
I'll do without the best.

But how I miss the girl
And I'd go a million times around the world just to say
She had been mine for a day.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Another Song

No, not another Jars of Clay song. This is something new.

Below are the lyrics of a song I heard on Christian radio this week.

These are the very words of my heart. I could never articulate them on my own, but I absolutely recognized them when I heard them.

His Hands by JJ Heller

I have unanswered prayers
I have trouble I wish wasn't there
And I have asked a thousand ways
That You would take my pain away
That You would take my pain away

I am trying to understand
How to walk this weary land
Make straight the paths that crooked lie
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine

When my world is shaking
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave Your hands

When You walked upon the Earth
You healed the broken, lost, and hurt
I know You hate to see me cry
One day You will set all things right
Yeah, one day You will set all things right

When my world is shaking
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave Your hands
Your hands

Your hands that shape the world
Are holding me, they hold me still
Your hands that shape the world
Are holding me, they hold me still

When my world is shaking
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave You when...

When my world is shaking
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave...I never leave Your hands

"The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you..."
Deuteronomy 31:8

Thursday, November 5, 2009

NEW POST ON RUNNING THE RACE

The Half Marathon is only 10 days away!
***T-SHIRT UPDATE***
If you want to order one of the t-shirts I designed for the half marathon you can buy one directly from the t-shirt printing company by clicking on the link below and clicking CHECKOUT and following the prompts.
 
Design by Small Bird Studios | All Rights Reserved