Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Strange Good

This is a post I wrote but never posted back in August.

My heart is heavy tonight.

I put on my most comfortable socks and I climbed in bed with A LOT on my mind and even more on my heart.

Last week a family on base (Camp Pendleton) lost their 13 year old daughter in a house fire. The tragedy has really rattled the entire community. Today I had a chance to sit with the grieving mother over a cup of tea. I didn't do or say much. Mostly I just listened.

And cried.

I saw so much of my own grief and pain in her. Her words made so much sense to me as she described the thousands of feelings that seemed to ebb and flow in her heart and mind. I remembered feeling just like she does- hurt, confused, exhausted, checked out, scared, angry, and sad. And my heart hurt for her.

And it hurt for my girls too. And for every mother anywhere who ever lost a child at any age under any circumstances. I just don't get it. And it breaks my heart.

I wanted so badly to take her pain away. I wanted to rewind time and change what happened. I wanted to say something profound or offer a special gem of wisdom that would make it all ok. And I didn't like the feeling of helplessness that lingered in my chest as I sat, frozen, listening, hurting, and understanding.

My own heart is still so tender even after three years. And it wrecks me to see that same pain in someone else because I know how horrible it truly is.

I drove home talking to God the entire way. I will admit I did not give Him much opportunity to speak as I did all of the talking, but I did ask some very important questions:

1) HOW MUCH LONGER? A lifetime seems so long God when my children are missing. Please sustain my broken heart until that day finally comes.

2) WHY ME, WHY ANYONE? Although I was honored to share my tea and the ministry of comfort it represents, I couldn't help but feel gypped a bit. It does not feel like a fair trade to me. And I still hurt about that. All the good that has come through the short and valuable life of my Aubrey and Ellie does not add up to the good of them.

It ended here. I guess I never posted it because I never finished it. Yet the final thought is the thought that has been heavy on my heart of late: All the good does not, and will not ever, add up to the good of them. At least that is the way I feel about it.

Recently a wonderful opportunity came my way. My company Teamotions has been given a special opportunity to extend comfort and healing through tea to our troops. Working along side The Wounded Warrior Semper Fi Fund, we created three new teas to support the emotional well-being of our troops and their families. As the wife of a Marine myself, I have a heart for our troops and their families as I have experienced many of these emotional challenges first hand. Long periods of separation, the demands of military life, and the realities of war take an emotional toll. These three new teas will help ease the emotional burden on our troops and their families and help comfort them as they serve our country and protect our freedom. A portion of the profits from the tea sales will support the Wounded Warrior Semper Fi Fund to help provide injured service members with the medical care and technology they need to recover from injuries sustained in combat.

We are so honored to be able to support such a worthy cause and work along side an organization doing so much good. It is a privilege to reach out to our military with tea to offer them much needed comfort and emotional support. Sometimes I am amazed at the opportunities that have come our way and the lives being touched through Teamotions. It is all so very good.

But when I sit alone and think about all this so very good stuff it still stings a little. It is SO good, but it isn't as good as them. It is my privilege to carry a torch for my little girls who came and went too soon and I have found so much healing in building a meaningful legacy for them through Teamotions. Yet, all this good has come at quite a cost to me and I can't lie and say that if I was ever given the opportunity I wouldn't trade it all for them in a heartbeat.

Despite the hurt in my heart I do feel amazingly grateful though. I see God working and moving and healing and touching lives, all because Aubrey and Ellie lived and died. I see the miracle in that. I honestly don't know what else to call it. It is truly a miracle.

Speaking of miracles...Teamotions is hoping for one! We are currently seeking to raise funds for the creation of the three labels for these new tea blends to support the emotional well-being of our troops and their families. You can donate to our campaign or learn more about it on Kickstarter.com. Please tell all your friends and family about it as the more people who know the more likely funding will be met. We are also pre-selling the first of the three tea blends. It is called Courage and it is a caffeine free Plum Spice Rooibos blend with Eleuthero Root to help prevent emotional, mental, and physical burnout during prolonged periods of stress. Pre-orders can be made on our website and each order helps get our tea to our troops and their families as quickly as possible!

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and are able to find comfort in the hope we have in Jesus and the celebration of His birth this Christmas. Without His birth there could not have been His death and resurrection of which made possible the most good that could ever be. He paid the ultimate cost for what is the ultimate good, and He did it for us. For that I am eternally grateful.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Revisible

Driving in the car to school one morning last week my son Dustin asked me if I know what God looks like. I explained to him that we can see God in His creation and see God working in our life, but that we can't actually see Him, at least not until heaven.

"Cool," he said, "God's here, we just can't see him. He's invisible!"

I had to smile as my five-year-old managed to simplify something that always seemed so complex to me.

Then he asked, "What about Jesus? Do you know what he looked like?" So I explained that Jesus became a baby that grew to be a man so he looked human like us, probably darker skin and hair and brown eyes...but Jesus lived before me so I never actually saw him face to face, but when we get to heaven...

Dustin cut me off.

"Don't tell me mom. I know what you are going to say. When we get to heaven Jesus will be revisible."

Revisible?

"Yes. You are exactly right, " I said, "Exactly right."

I dropped Dustin at school and returned home to put my little Colton down for a nap, but I couldn't get the word revisible out of my mind.

There are some invisible things in our lives. Faith is based on those invisible things. Faith is believing in what we have not seen. And yet so much is visible. God's provision, miracles, blessings, creation, God's Word, His grace and mercy...it is all right there in front of my face.

But even more amazing than the seen or unseen is this third category I have never really given much thought to until now are the things we did see once but can't see right now but will see again- THE REVISIBLE THINGS.

Jesus was visible. Not just his character or his glory, but him, in flesh and blood, was seen, heard and felt. Aubrey and Ellie were visible. I saw them with my own eyes just as Mary saw Jesus sleeping in the manger. Tiny, squirmy, and helpless.

And it is only a matter of time until the once seen will be re-seen. They-Jesus and my girls-will become revisible.

What else will be made revisible I wonder? And will I see it before heaven?

I have mentioned before in previous posts that I am undergoing a transformation of sorts. And I'm looking hard for what has disappeared to reappear. I want to find the things that have been lost. I want to uncover the things burried under the sands of chaos and compromise. I want to see clearly what has been muddled and marred.

Someday my girls will be revisible to me. The picture I have of them in my mind will be replaced with the perfection they are in heaven. And Jesus himself will meet me there as well and I know I will instantly recognize him even though I have technically never seen him with my own eyes.

In the meantime I have quite the journey ahead of me. I look forward to what I get to see...again.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Forever Reign

We attended a new church this Sunday. Our current church is amazing in many ways and it isn't like we have a problem with it...it is just that pretty much since we started attending there something has been missing for me. I thought that maybe it was just the season of life I was in. I have very young children and live 35 minutes away from it so serving and getting involved was almost impossible. I have done my best, but even after 5 years I have yet to find my place there. We have talked about finding a new church from time to time, but never quite pulled the trigger on it. We thought maybe we just needed to try harder and give it more time.

When Aubrey and Ellie died I longed for a sense of community like never before and even though loving hearts from church showed up on our doorstep with food and prayers, I still felt nameless and faceless on Sunday morning. And with so much going on in my heart these days I asked my husband if we could try out a church closer to home.

So this Sunday we did!

It sounds strange to "try out" a church. But it is the reality. Not everyone fits everywhere. Finding a church to belong to is much different than finding a church to attend. I am realizing that I NEED a church community. It isn't juts something I like or want. It is a core need rooted deep in my being. In many ways I am lost without one.

I desire to contribute to what God is doing. I desire to be a part of something much bigger than myself. I desire to serve. But even more so, I desire to know others and be known. I don't do nameless and faceless very well. I desire relationships and community and all the stuff that takes people from scientific homo-sapiens to living unique souls.

For me church is all about relationships. Forming them, growing them, growing in them. Christ is the most important relationship of all, but we need each other too. And the Word makes it clear that fellowship is essential to our walk with Christ. Not just for accountability either, but because we are relational beings. We need each other. We need the body of Christ!

I know I do.

So anyway, off we went to a new church. AND I LOVED IT.

For starters the people were friendly and down to earth. They made us feel welcome and comfortable. Honestly I have never been to a more friendly church. It is a big church so we needed some help finding the nursery and Kindergarten class and some nice man just took it upon himself to show us the way literally walking us to each building himself. Then after the service one of the pastors heard we were new and had young children and invited us to a young married/young families type small group. I was thrilled. Just to be sought out made me feel like a little sheep being gathered back into the fold. I felt instant acceptance. And it felt good.

Yet, that was not the highlight of the day! It gets even better.

I think God knew we were coming and met me there. Actually, I know God knew, and He prepared something special just for me. It was seriously for my heart. A gift. A boost. A reminder of some things I have forgotten.

During worship we sung a song I had never heard before. It was the perfect song at the perfect time. Almost instantly I was in tears. I was so busy crying during the song that I didn't get the name of it and my husband had to email the worship pastor to get the title. But the worship pastor emailed back and now that I know what song it was so I HAVE TO share it with you.

Before I post the lyrics and a link to the song I have to warn you-this one is a crier! Tears and snot-the whole nine yards. I was a basket case. I have not cried like that since my daughters died. Truly, the lyrics spoke straight to my heart and I broke. It was painful and transforming all at the same time.

If my heart had a song this would be it.

Forever Reign by Hillsong

You are good, You are good
When there's nothing good in me
You are love, You are love
On display for all to see
You are light, You are light
When the darkness closes in
You are hope, You are hope
You have covered all my sin

You are peace, You are peace
When my fear is crippling
You are true, You are true
Even in my wandering
You are joy, You are joy
You're the reason that I sing
You are life, You are life,
In You death has lost it's sting

Oh, I'm running to your arms,
I'm running to your arms
The riches of your love
Will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace
Light of the world forever reign

You are more, You are more
Than my words will ever say
You are Lord, You are Lord
All creation will proclaim
You are here, You are here
In your presence I'm made whole
You are God, You are God
Of all else I'm letting go

Oh, I'm running to your arms
I'm running to your arms
The riches of your love
Will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace
Light of the world forever reign

My heart will sing
no other name
Jesus, Jesus


Oh, I'm running to your arms
I'm running to your arms
The riches of your love
Will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace
Light of the world forever reign

Here is a link to hear the song if you want to hear it.

I hope it touches your heart like it did mine. I don't know yet if this church is for us every Sunday, but I do know it was for me last Sunday. Exactly, especially, perfectly for me.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Come Near

I have been wanting to post for a while now (I apologize-a month without so much as a hello is a long time), but every time I jumped over here to write I either couldn't get the words right or was interrupted (my Colton is walking now-let the fun begin!)

The last few weeks have been tough for many reasons, some I can talk about and some I cannot. Not everything is appropriate to share here. However, I would like to ask for prayer. God knows what I need so just lift me up. I cannot express how thankful I am in advance for you- all of you. You have been such faithful friends in Christ.

A few weeks ago a Marine family living in base housing on Camp Pendelton lost their home, every possession they had, and their 13 year old daughter, in a house fire. Words cannot explain the devastation this family is experiencing. The entire community has been traumatized. I spent almost three hours one afternoon last week (just listening mostly) to a grief-stricken and heart-broken mom. I took some tea to her, but mostly I just wanted her to know that she is not alone.

I felt so alone when girls died.

Being with her, although a privilege as I have never even met this woman before and she trusted me enough to let me into her life even if for an afternoon, during the most painful time she has ever experienced, stirred up so much of my own grief- grief I thought I had dealt with but discovered was just lying dormant in the hidden places of my heart. I saw so much of my pain in her. The things she said, how she said them, even some of the questions she asked, sounded like me talking three years ago.

I recognized her brokenness and it hurt my heart.

I drove home after meeting with her so heavy hearted. I cried in the car, not only for her, but for myself and every other mother who has lost a child. I was surprised at how quickly my compassion turned to raw pain. I think there are some feelings that can never be forgotten and the moment it hit me that my babies were gone is one of them. I wish that feeling on no one.

Since that afternoon I have poured myself back into trying to find the magic cure for pain. There has to be something God, something to say or do, something to make it easier, something to help... There isn't one just so you know. No pill or potion. Not even time.

Only Jesus.

And He holds us and heals us in ways that we can't always see or feel. Sometimes He just sits with us and lets us find rest in Him. He tends to us perfectly, just as we need individually, doing a complete work, not rushing to just end the pain, but working carefully and with love to supernaturally heal our ruined hearts for our good and His glory.

We don't always feel it. We often don't understand it. But we do have to choose it.

I had to ask God to come near to me again as I drove home that day. To show himself to me close enough to touch. To talk to me by whispering in my ear. To hold me even when I feel unworthy and to call my name when I am too weary to lift my eyes to heaven.

I want my tears to fall right on to God's lap. I want to be that close. It has been a while since I have been that close.

I will leave you with a quote from Max Lucado that fits perfectly here from his book God Came Near.

"Has it been a while since you have seen Him? If your prayers seem stale, it probably has. If your faith seems to be trembling, perhaps your vision of him has blurred. If you can't find power to face your problems, perhaps it is time to face Him."

I know its time for me.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Take Back

Ok, I know I posted a few days ago that I was taking a break, that I needed to put posting aside for a while. But then it magically disappeared leaving all of you, no doubt, confused.

I even confused myself.

Let me explain...

I am in the process of a complete life restructuring. The first place I am starting is inside my own heart and out from there. It is going to take my full attention so at first I thought that blogging was going to have to be set aside for a while. But after I thought about it a bit I realized that my blog is my heart. My heart for my girls. My heart for God. My heart for other grieving moms and hurting souls.

My blog is a part of me. A good part of me. I just couldn't bare to set it aside.

However, I am not going to be able to post as often. Maybe twice a month. But when I do post I plan to make it count so I hope you'll continue to read it.

So, sorry for the take back. Next time I'll think a bit longer before I speak, um, post.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Lofty Goal

I mentioned in a post a few weeks ago that I am into lofty goals.

It is true. I am.

I like to set goals for myself that just might be over my head. I like to attempt things that I might not be able to do. I don't like to fail. I actually hate to fail. But success only feels good when the risk of failure is real.

Maybe it is the risk that thrills the most? I think for me it just might be. Not the kind of risk that might involve death or permanent injury, but the kind that makes you face real doubt, real fear, and real challenge-and overcome!

I also love tangible measurable accomplishments. I love to earn things that cannot be taken away. And I love the process as much as the end result.

So, I have set another lofty goal for myself. It is actually the continuation of a previous lofty goal that I didn't succeed at...yet.

TOUGH MUDDER TAKE TWO.

When: Feb 23rd, 2012
Where: Vail Lake, Temecula, CA
Why: Because I have to finish what I started.

Yes, I am going back for more. Willingly at that. I decided that I HAVE to slay this beast or it will nag at me for the rest of my life.

Of course I am nervous. Don't forget I have tried once before and didn't make it. Talk about facing doubt and fear! But I refuse to be intimidated. I am not looking forward to the cold (as that seems to be my Achilles heal) but I am going to train harder, wear more clothes, and fuel better. Simply put, I will be tougher this time around.

So, anyone out there want to join my team? Let me know, we can do this together. Also, follow along on my other blog The Perseverance Project and I will keep you posted with my progress. I'll post my workouts and training tips and anything else I think is important.

I look forward to earning my orange headband.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Broken Vases

Sometimes it is amazing how a handful of seemingly unrelated things all come together and profoundly impact my life. What appears at first as chaos and happenstance...as disappointment and disarray...or sometimes even an accident...is actually encouragement in the purest form.

I met an amazing woman recently. I have not met her personally, but I have met her heart and her wisdom via email more than once now. Her name is Karen and she is Joel's mom (read her story at www.rainbowsearthquakes.blogspot.com). Joel passed away just this year and despite her grief and pain she has managed to encourage me in a powerful way. I have cried many tears in awe of how someone with such a recent loss could encourage someone else like me. Shouldn't it be the other way around? Quite frankly, her words have changed my life and I am thankful for them, however they came to me.

Recently I had some issues with some vases. My sister bought a beautiful vase for me as a gift for the anniversary of Ellie's death. And it was beautiful. And touchingly thoughtful. I fell in love with it instantly. But not a few hours after she gave it to me it was accidentally broken. My sister did her best to glue it together, but in the end it fell apart despite her best efforts. So, bless her heart, she bought me two more. One to replace Ellie's and the other for Aubrey. However, only one survived. Despite how careful she tried to be, one broke. When I unwrapped the tissue paper there it sat, in two pieces.

I did my best to stay calm, but what I really wanted to do what throw that vase across the room. I felt as though everything in my life was in pieces.

I was feeling discouraged to say the least. And then Karen sent me this message...

"All I can say is that I very much felt that I was sent by God to give you some word of encouragement. Encouragement is such an interesting word, isn't it? Not "make it better." Not "cure your sadness." Blow on the embers of your courage, until the fire is bright. Because that is what we can do for each other. Give each other the courage to keep burning. And maybe I am a broken vase? Maybe God has been sending you broken vases all along. This is what I felt when I read about your heartbreaking broken vases. God was sending me to send His love. But if you open the package, you might only see a broken vase. Because now there are broken places in me. I am a broken vase, but sent with love. Maybe you have a ministry to broken vases? I don't know... just what I thought when I read about that discouraging twice broken vase..."

Oh I can't even describe how her words shone like light on the blind spots of my perspective.

We are all broken vases. We start out so perfect and lovely, full of promise, yet we are all so fragile. It is only a matter of time until we get broken. Life and circumstances trample us into bits and pieces. Now just parts we wonder how will we ever be whole again?

But what we don't always see, at least not right away, is that we can't really be used until we are broken. The pieces allow us to be remolded, they allow our shape to change, so that we can be used for something greater than what we ever thought we were intended for. The breaking process hurts no doubt. And the cracks are like scars, they never go away.

But purpose is never without problems.

Perfect vases are beautiful, sure.

But broken vases are purposeful.

I kept the broken vase. I see it differently today than I did when it got broken. I see myself in it now and I see the message that came with it. It reminds me of the bigger picture I often forget. Sometimes the pain is so overwhelming I can't feel the pieces being glued back together. I get so consumed with the brokenness I don't even realize I've been made whole again.

And I now love that vase. It means more to me broken than it ever did whole.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Funeral Anniversary

Three years ago today was the funeral.

I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I would ever attend a funeral for my own child.

Three years later I can still smell the mist from the ocean and feel the breeze on my skin. I remember feeling confused. The casket just seemed too small to fit both my girls. It was like I forgot just how tiny they were.

I just sort of phased out that day. I held their memory book and told the same story over and over to anyone who would listen. I stood at their grave side knowing that life as I knew it was over. I didn't want to leave but I knew I couldn't stay.

Somehow life has gone forward. And I did leave. Just like I left the hospital the day they each died. I was good at making myself leave, but only in body. My heart stayed for quite a while, first lingering in the halls of the NICU and eventually to the edge of their little plot. All this time my heart has been just waiting for them, missing them. It honestly wasn't until my most recent visit to the cemetery that I realized I had left my heart there for all this time.

I don't know how to move forward without them. At least not as a whole person. That is my new goal this year though; to recollect all the pieces of myself and learn how to be whole again.

As whole as I can be all things considered. It is a lofty goal. But you know me, I'm into lofty goals.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Visit

We went to the cemetery Thursday as a family to remember our girls. It was a beautiful day and it felt surreal to watch my two boys play on the grass around the headstone of their twin sisters. It felt like a day at the park almost or a picnic, something other than visiting the children that we lost and miss so much.

Part of me felt suspended in a dream or movie trying to wrap my brain around a family visit to a cemetery. It was something I never imagined or ever wanted, yet there we were. I had tears and smiles though. For a minute it felt like we were all together.

This is my life. As much as I try to distance myself from the heaviness of it, it is my life. I am that mom and we are that family. I am doing my best to accept it, trust God in it, and move forward. I often feel I keep one foot in it as I get some sort of comfort from dwelling in it. But it weighs me down. I'd like to shed this burden as I'm beyond exhausted. I'd like to feel free again to simply live on. I don't want to be defined by this anymore. Shaped by it certainly, but not defined.

These are the things there is no manual for. No map. No guide. I will find my way out. It has been a lot of trial and error so far and I predict it will continue to be. I will find a way to use this to make me stronger. I will discover the good that is hiding in it and not measure it to what I lost. It simply can't compare.

I only pray that I don't waste such heartache but make it count for the good of others and trust that my pain will end...eventually.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Goodbye Aubrey

Three years ago today I had to let my Aubrey go.

Six days after we said goodbye to her sister we had to say goodbye to her. I had two worst days of my life in the same week. It changed me.

My little Aubrey was such a fighter. I remember how she liked to keep her hands above her head when she slept and how she would kick and pull at her tubes. My favorite memory of her though is how she opened her eyes a few days before she died. She had these beautiful smokey gray eyes and when I talked to her she would look straight at me. I remember how she closed her eyes for the last time while we whispered in her ear how much we love her and how much we will miss her. And then she was gone.

Today we will visit the grave site of my sweet girls to honor their memories and just check on things. I don't particularly enjoy visiting the cemetery as I know that they are not there, but I do like to check on things there just to make sure they are being respected and honored even after death. They are my babies after all and I feel compelled to look after them.

I miss you sweet baby. I miss you so much. Mommy loves you.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Meantime

The meantime is a concept I have wrestled with since the moment my girls were born. In the days they were with us they were very sick and things were so touch and go I practically held my breath for 13 days straight. We were always waiting for something to happen. We waited for test results, scans, assessments from experts, and any sign of change, good or bad. We just stood next to their incubators WAITING.

I hated the waiting. Not because I am impatient but because I wanted to DO something. It made me crazy just standing around waiting. No one could tell me what to do in the meantime.

When my girls died it felt like my whole life turned into the meantime...and I am still (three years later) figuring out what to do in the meantime.

Things have not been easy lately, and by things I mean life. I feel very lost. My faith has taken some hits and I am struggling to make sense of them. I would have once thought myself too grounded to ever experience a crisis of faith, but I am telling you folks, I am having one. I feel attacked from all sides and I am not sure how much longer I can last.

I picked up one of John Eldredge's books (I found it just sitting in a pile of books in my dad's office) called Waking the Dead. The title jumped out at me because in many ways I feel dead inside and I'd like to be awoken to life again. I randomly opened it and began reading from somewhere in the middle and found the following passage. It is the perfect description of how I feel.

"...dazed and confused...we have no idea who we really are, why we're here, what's happened to us or why. Has God abandoned us?
Did we not pray enough? Is this just something we accept as "part of life," suck it up, even though it breaks our hearts? After a while, the accumulation of event after event that we do not like and do not understand erodes our confidence that we are part of something grand and good, and reduces us to a survivalist mind-set. I know, I know...we've been told that we matter to God. And part of us partly believes it. But life has a way of chipping away at that conviction, undermining our settled belief that he means us well. I mean, if that's true, then why didn't he ______? Fill in the blank. Heal your mom. Save your marriage. Get you married. Help out more. Either (a) we're blowing it, or (b) God is holding out on us. Or some combination of both, which is where most people land. Think about it. Isn't this where you land, with all the things that haven't gone the way you'd hoped and wanted? Isn't it some version of "I'm blowing it" in that it's your fault, you could have done better, you could have been braver or wiser or more beautiful or something? Or "God is holding out on me," in that you know he could come through, but he hasn't come through. And what are you to make of that? What is really going on here? Good grief--life is brutal. Day after day it hammers us, till we lose sight of what God intends toward us, and we haven't the foggiest idea why the things that are happening to us are happening to us. The days of our lives have have a way of casting a rather long shadow over our hearts when it comes to God's intentions toward us in particular."

This is SO me right now. A very long shadow has been cast over my heart as I wrestle with this strange meantime. What do I do with the time between now and...when it all finally makes sense to me. Will that time come in this life or only in the next? Will it ever come? Will I ever be able to trust God's intentions for me or am I too jaded to even want to? How do I ever awaken my heart again to an abundant life after my daughters' deaths? How can I ever feel fully alive when parts of my heart died when my girls died? I can't seem to get past these questions.

And it seem that with each day my frustration only increases. My sister bought these beautiful little vases for my girls to honor their memories this week and gave them to me with flowers inside. I set one of the vases on a little table she has in her living room and unfortunately (and totally by accident) it got broken. It was my fault for leaving it where it could be so easily bumped by young children but I still felt terrible. I looked at the little broken vase and saw my own heart--in pieces. My sister could tell I was upset and she graciously bought another one and gave it to me today. When I unwrapped it, IT WAS BROKEN! I can't explain how I felt. I thought seriously God, can I just have one thing that isn't in pieces?

I gave it back to my sister and told her to return it as they shouldn't break that easily. I offered to buy another one in case the store would not exchange it. I didn't want my sister to know how much it bothered me since it wasn't her fault at all. But inside I wanted to throw the little vase across the room and be done with it. It made me so angry.

I am not sure how to navigate this valley I am in. I hesitate to ask God because I feel resentful. It will make me very angry if God answers these prayers but not my prayers to save my babies. This prayer seems so unimportant in comparison to that one. I am not sure what to make of it.

I don't have much more to say. I feel like I am not keeping a very clear train of thought. I am going to finish that book though and see if it might not be able to shed some light on these very real struggles I am having.

Hopefully it will be a good way to fill a little bit of the meantime.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Goodbye Ellie

Three years ago today Ellie left us for Heaven.

I remember it like it was yesterday. I can see the room we were in and the nice young doctor who waited patiently outside the door with his stethoscope to tell us when she was gone. He spoke so quietly and I could see he was sad for us. I remember studying her little face so that I wouldn't forget her and I kept her wrapped up so she wouldn't get cold. She just laid there in our hands, perfectly quiet and still, and so very tiny. And when the end came it was like the oxygen had been sucked out of the room. I felt frozen, unable to even breathe, as I realized she was gone forever. I held her a bit longer anyway as I could not bare the idea of handing her over to strangers. When I finally let her go I asked to please keep her warm and don't hurt her and I walked away.

I felt something in me die when she did. I am still fighting to awaken that part of me again. But I feel that as long as I am without her it won't-can't-happen. Without her something very important will always be missing inside me.

I long for the day when I see you again sweet girl. I miss you so.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Happy Birthday Sweet Girls

Today is Aubrey and Ellie's birthday. Three years ago they were born. I can't wrap my brain around it actually. Sometimes it feels like it was just yesterday and sometimes it seems almost like it never happened.

It is a little confusing to trying to figure out how to celebrate their birthday. I pondered making cupcakes for them or lighting a candle, but for some reason I decided to keep the celebration in my heart this year.

I have spent the day remembering things; their little faces, how they smelled, their skinny little chicken legs. Sometimes I worry that I am forgetting details. Time has made some of the memories fuzzy. But most memories are as vivid as the moment they occurred. I know those memories will never leave me, not as long as I live.

This morning I put on the necklace my sister Rebecca gave me with their initials on it and I find myself rubbing the little charms between my thumb and first finger for comfort. My mind seems to be only on them today.

I called my dad to make sure that some flowers were put on their headstone since I am not close enough to do it myself. Of course, my dad was one step ahead of me. He sent me a picture of their birthday bouquet and looking at it made me both happy and very sad at the same time. I have yet to get used to seeing my girls' names in stone.

I don't know what else to say. I miss my girls and I miss the life we would have had together. Today especially.

Happy Birthday my sweet darlings. Mommy loves you.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Mud Run at Camp Pendleton

So, me and my gals ran in the annual Mud Run at Camp Pendleton on Saturday. It was a 10K with obstacles and yes, you guessed it, MUD. Lots and lots of mud. But it was A BLAST. Compared to the Tough Mudder it was cake. The weather was perfect, the people friendly, and the course was tons of fun. It felt so good to get out and run. We pushed ourselves, ran the entire time, conquered all the hills, and got covered in mud. I will definitely do this race again!

On a personal note it was especially wonderful for me because it restored some of the confidence I lost after not finishing the Tough Mudder. It also put into perspective just how tough the Tough Mudder really was. If I can offer any advice to those of you considering conquering a Tough Mudder it would be this: get a few "easier" races under your belt first. Do some mud runs and warrior dashes and things of that nature before you take on a Tough Mudder. It will only boost your confidence and increase your chances of success.

Here is a picture for you! I can't say enough about how proud I am of my girls! They killed it. I was so impressed by them and honored to call them my friends.

Laurie, me, Melissa, and Kasey post Mud Run

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Tough Mudder After Thoughts

The Perseverance Project Post:

If any of you follow my blog Waiting for Morning you have probably read by now that I didn't finish the Tough Mudder.

To make a long story short the cold and wet became too much for me and I called it a day at mile 5.5. A few hours under warm blankets and some dry clothes made me good as new except for my wounded pride.

It really bothers me that I didn't finish.

It has been a few weeks now and I've spent a lot of time mulling this over in my mind. The whole point of this blog, of my life, is to persevere...so you can imagine that this isn't sitting well with me. But at the same time, there is something to be said about taking on something that could very well be too much. Only pursuing what we are certain to succeed at doesn't build character. It is the risk involved, the very real potential of failure, that makes succeeding-persevering-a triumph. Nothing is accomplished in playing it safe...

Which is all well and good when, despite the odds, the goal is met. Then you can have a party and pat yourself on the back and feel super good about all the hard work you put in because, well, it all paid off.

But what about when it doesn't? What about FAILURE?

I don't like FAILURE. Mostly I don't like it because I don't like the feeling that accompanies it. Failure feels like the moment just before you throw up, that really sick feeling accompanied by complete panic-you know exactly what I mean. But unlike being sick, failure lingers. It sticks with you. Well, it sticks with me.

The fact of the matter is, I did not meet my goal. I set out to finish the Tough Mudder and I didn't. That disappoints me. But...

Lets keep it in perspective. The Tough Mudder was a HUGE goal for me. From the beginning I worried it was over my head. And although I trained very hard for it, I knew it wasn't hard enough. Life prevented me from being where I knew I needed to be. And that happens sometimes. I am not one of those in shape even when I'm out of shape type of people. Being a mom and wife and running my tea company took its toll on me. I did my best with the time I had, but at the end of the day my limited time was NOT enough. Unfortunately this is real life and that is what happens in real life-we are not always as ready as we need to be.

These are not excuses though, just facts. I didn't succeed at the Tough Mudder YET-but the experience was not lost on me. I learned TONS about myself. I learned that I like belly crawling though mud and gravel. I learned that, through will power alone, I can submerge myself in ice cold water. I also learned that I know when enough is enough. I know my limits and I know when to call it a day. Sometimes it is better to live to fight another day.

The single benefit of failure is that I will use the experience to succeed at my next Tough Mudder. Yes-I am not finished. I said that I would finish the entire thing and I will. I wasn't successful two weeks ago but that doesn't mean I just throw my hands up. It means that I get even MORE ready and I try AGAIN until I succeed.

Because that is what perseverance is-never giving up.

Failure is only failure if we let it stop us. Failure becomes power if we let it motivate us.
And trust me. I am feeling pretty motivated right now.

Here is my last thought...as I climbed up the mountain in Snow Valley two weeks ago surrounded by other Tough Mudders along side my wonderful teammates (and friends) I thought about my girls. I was cold (ridiculously cold) and wet and really starting to doubt my ability to make it to the end. Mentally I was struggling as much as I was struggling physically. I felt overwhelmed-the altitude, the cold, the wet, the incline, the distance-it all seemed beyond my capabilities. But so did losing my girls three years ago. Grief is a tough mountain to climb too. I never thought I'd survive it.

Yet here I am.

The Tough Mudder was TOUGH. Super tough. But hands down, grief was (is) tougher. And I had to be carried down the mountain of grief more than once before I finally made it to the top. I broke down countless time convinced I just couldn't go another step. But I refused to give up. I had failures. I had set backs. I faced things I didn't even know I'd be facing-things I wasn't ready for. But I didn't let it stop me. I let the failure teach me how to succeed the next time around and I tried as many times as I need to...

I'll be stronger the next time I step on that mountain, any mountain.

So I guess it wasn't as much of a failure as it was a set back. And in the scheme of things, it was a privilege to be "set back"- I am stronger for it.

I'll keep you posted on my next Tough Mudder adventure. I will earn that orange head band soon enough.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Tough Mudder Results

Kasey, Jacqueline, me and Melissa Pre-mudder

It has been a week since Tough Mudder So Cal. I had to let the dust settle before I posted about it because well...

I didn't cross the finish line.

Four hours, ten obstacles, and 5.5 miles up the mountain the cold became too much for me. The combination of 45 degree water and wind sent be back down the mountain hypothermic and exhausted. After a few hours under warm blankets I was as good as new-well almost- except for a few bumps and scrapes and a bit of a bruised ego.

The rest of my team made it (Kasey, Melissa, and Jacqueline-best teammates ever). They pushed through the cold, the wet, and the hours of literal mountain climbing to earn their orange headbands. And trust me, they did earn them.

The day wasn't all bad though. There were definite highlights. I found out that I actually enjoy belly-crawling through water, mud and gravel and I did better than I thought I'd do on the monkey bars. Kasey gets the monkey bar award of the day though. We watched her dominate until some random girl popped up out of the water below and knocked her off three bars before the end. We couldn't believe it! She was so close. For me though, the best moments of the whole day was our amazing display of teamwork as we carried a very heavy, very large log up and back down a very steep hill. It was a good moment for us.

I also learned a lot about myself. I learned that failure isn't always failure. I took a huge giant step outside of my comfort zone to even attempt a Tough Mudder. I think it is important to try things that we might not succeed at. If we only do what we know we can do then we won't grow or be strengthened. And for me, this chapter is not closed. I will try again. I'm not done. I won't be satisfied until I cross the finish line and get that orange headband too.

I will however learn from my mistakes. I will dress better, fuel better, and be in better cardiovascular condition. Isn't that life though. Sometimes we find ourselves in situations we thought we were ready for only to discover we weren't. But that doesn't mean we just throw in the towel. It means that we have to get more ready, try harder, and, no matter how may tries it takes, finish.

I'll keep you posted on my next Tough Mudder adventure. I am thinking NorCal in September or Texas in October. In the meantime here are a few pictures of the day.

Jacqueline


Kasey


Me and Melissa


Melissa, Jacqueline, T-Rex, me, and Kasey Post-Mudder

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Choosing to be Chosen

I woke up more slowly this morning than usual. I stared at the ceiling listening to the baby on the monitor. I needed to get up, but I just didn't want to.

Since Mother's Day I've felt a heaviness in my heart. It, like much of my life, is a bittersweet experience, stirring up both joy and sorrow with in me. The sorrow seems to have lingered though. This morning I felt it especially.

I forced myself out of bed. Once I got the kids fed I made myself a cup of tea and here I sit, the heaviness still in my heart and my computer in my lap, trying to put how I'm feeling into words.

Where to begin?

I still have moments when I look in the mirror and I don't recognize who is staring back at me. I often can't believe that this is my life. Sometimes it seems too much to accept, too much to truly wrap my head around. To further complicate things, the more time goes by the more the blessings of my life become entangled with the disappointments, so much so that I can't seem to separate the two. Without the pain I would not know God as I do now and I would not have all the accompanying blessings, but it all seems to have come at the highest possible cost, a cost I am still resentful of at times. It is something I simply do not understand.

I don't like feeling this way though. I know that every single moment of my life, everything that has happened, filtered through God's hands first. It was all purposefully allowed. It was chosen for me. I was chosen for it.

The hard part is choosing to be chosen.

God has chosen each one of us. He has allowed our lives to be what they are and has woven his perfect plan throughout every part of them. Like Joseph in the pit and Job on a heap of ashes, we all cry out. We want to know why? Why my babies? Why my family? Why my life? Why me?

But also like Joseph in the pit and Job on the ashes, we cannot see God's big picture. All we can do is trust, trust that God has allowed this pain to bring about a purpose that could never be accomplished without it.

God may or may not bring us out of our pit, but He will join us in it, and He will certainly be glorified through it.

Choosing to be chosen doesn't mean choosing the circumstances, it means choosing Him despite the circumstances. It means choosing to trust and choosing to obey.

I didn't choose what happened to my girls. In many respects, I didn't choose this life, it was chosen for me.

But everyday I strive to choose the Chooser.

I choose Him. I choose His will. And I choose His purpose.

I choose to be chosen.

Do you?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Audience Participation!

I need help. And I think you all (my wonderful amazing readers) are just the people to help me.

My sister and I have decided to add God's Word to our tea labels. We are moving away from the generic emotional well-being aspect of the tea and putting a greater emphasis on the comfort and healing it offers. The tea comforts, the herbs nourish, and God's Truth heals.

I have been searching through the entire Bible to find the scriptures I think correspond with each tea best, but I am having trouble deciding.

So, I though I'd ask you. Which scriptures come to mind when you read the tea names?

Our six teas are:
1)Achieve Clarity
2)Discover Joy
3)Seek Peace
4)Have Hope
5)Enjoy Rest
6)Find Strength

I'd appreciate your input. You can visit our Teamotions website if you'd like to read more about each tea. If you think you have the perfect scripture, leave it in a comment. I can't wait to see which you pick!

Friday, April 29, 2011

A Little Gift for YOU!

Just in time for Mother's Day...get 10% off your Teamotions order by using coupon code AubreyEllie. Tell your friends about it. It is for EVERYONE! Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

And the winners are...

I have the winners for the Teamotions Mother's Day Give-Away (produced by a random number generator).

The five winners of the 50% off coupons are:

Heather said... My mom is definitely deserving of anything that can bring her rest and peace. She's a hard worker. Less than 2 years from retirement but is still the first to arrive and last to leave work each day. She also does so much for me and for my girls. I've been in remission from cancer for 3 years but it's taken a toll. Because of that she is very much a mom and grandma to them. I am so blessed to have my mom.

Gorby family blog said... I would love to win tea for my sweet mother. She's the BEST! She's is such a dedicated mother to six children and just as much a dedicated grandmother to her 11 grandchildren. She's amazing and I don't know what we'd do without her!

Natasha said... My mom LOVES tea and so do I! She is the most amazing mom- after losing our son she stepped in and keep us on our feet until we could do it on our own. She's done this my whole life- always there for us through any storm. She definitely deserves a cup of your lovely tea!!!

C.C. Almon said... I knew nothing about your teas before I visited your website and I am so impressed at the thought behind your line of teas. Love the way you are honoring and remembering your precious little ones.

Jenna said... My mom has always been there for me and even though we don't have the same views on everything, she's always prayed for me and been there when I needed her most.I also liked your facebook fan page! You are such a blessing, Jenna

And the Grand Prize Winner of two FREE tins of tea of their choice is...

All My Monkeys said... My mom is a tea lover, and taught me to love tea. She is constantly giving, and loving, and a great encourager (a trait I hope to learn from her). She has weathered many family storms in the last 15 yrs, and now is the time for her to concentrate on herself, and find her own health and healing. This tea would be something she would truly appreciate. And i wouldn't mind some myself.

Please email me at Rachel@teamotionstea.com to claim your prize (tea or coupon)! Put GIVE-AWAY WINNER in the subject line. I look forward to hearing from you!

And since the rest of you blessed us by telling us how wonderful your mothers are and sharing your stories with us, we want to bless you back. Go to our website www.teamotionstea.com and type in AubreyEllie to receive 10% off your order until May 31st!

Thank you for participating and we hope you LOVE your tea.

Give-Away Ends Today!



This is your last chance to enter the Teamotions Mother's Day Give-Away. I will pick a winner at noon today, PST. Don't forget to tell your friends and share the love! I also have a special surprise for EVERY SINGLE entry so stay tuned! It might be your lucky day!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter

If you are looking for the Teamotions Mother's Day Give-Away-click here!

This morning my son woke me up by standing quietly in our bedroom doorway whispering "The Easter Bunny came! The Easter Bunny came!" I told him to bring his basket up to me and we would look inside to see what he got. I watched him skip downstairs and reappear with a basket filled with gifts.

Easter is an important day around our house. We don't view it as just a holiday, but as the most important event the world has ever known. I do some of the traditional holiday things; Easter baskets and dying eggs. I don't think a little chocolate ever hurt, well, anything. But we make sure that none of those things overshadow what Easter is really about...

Jesus did what he said he would do and rose again! He lives! And that means everything.

This year inside my son's Easter basket were two very important gifts; his first Bible (he is reading now and not even in Kindergarten brag brag) and a beautifully illustrated Bible story book called The Jesus Story. It puts the stories of the Bible, old testament and new, into words that children can understand while showing them how Jesus is woven throughout them all.

You should have seen my son's face! He lit up when he saw his Bible, name on it in silver and everything, and said "My own Bible? So I can learn more about God? I love it. Its my very own Bible." Yes, at times he sounds as if he was scripted, but that is the kind of kid he is. He has never hidden a single one of his thoughts or feelings from us. And I like him that way. I am working hard as a parent to preserve that tender, expressive, and honest part of him.

When he saw the Jesus story book he wanted me to read it immediately. We went straight to the Easter story and read from the Crucifixion to Pentecost. I could feel Dustin breathing in my ear laying as close to me as humanly possible asking me to read more each time I got to the end of one of the little stories. If he had his way we would have read the entire book.

I feel that way with God sometimes. I look at the story of my life straining to see Jesus woven throughout. Sometimes I do see Him, and, sadly, sometimes I don't. Not that He wasn't there, but I missed Him somehow. At times I have been so blind. I have desperately latched on to my Heavenly Father, breathing in His ear to reveal to me more of my story, most importantly, how my story ends.

Since my girls died I have struggled with living out my story without knowing how it ends. My faith has been weary. I want to know how all these pieces, the broken and shattered parts of my heart, will ever be put back together again to create the ultimate good ending that suffering and trials are supposed to produce. All the good things seem lacking in comparison to twhat it has cost me.

As I write this two empty Easter baskets sit next to each other on the table. I made them myself. I painted them and wrapped them in silk ribbon. They are quite beautiful. I couldn't figure out what to put in them this year. I love to remember my girls but it also hurts to fill up Christmas stockings and Easter baskets with things they will never get only to un-fill them later and cry over all that death has stolen from me. I left them empty this time, but it didn't lessen the tears.

Empty isn't always bad though. Empty Easter baskets remind me of Jesus' empty tomb. Without the emptiness of the grave I would have no hope, no power, no life, no joy, and no comfort. Nor would my sweet babies. Easter mean their grave is also empty. Their souls have been taken to heaven by Jesus, who died and rose again on this day to save us, all of us, from death.

My girls are not with me today, but I have the hope of the Resurrection to comfort me. I will see them again. My pain is not over yet. The transformation God has begun in me is not finished. My questions will remain as will the empty seats at my table and the empty places in my heart. My girls will never come back to me. Yet I will be patient and faithful because, although I don't know all the pages of my story yet, I do know how it ends. My girls cannot come to me, but one day I will go to them.

And Easter is what makes that possible.

When my days are up I will be reunited with my Savior. I will finally see him face to face and if I can utter any words in His presence I hope they will be thank you...Thank you for Easter.

Then I will turn around and my girls will be there.

Happy Easter! May the emptiness of Jesus' tomb fill you with hope! HE IS RISEN!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Mother's Day Give-Away!

Today is your lucky day!

I am giving away 5 Teamotions 50% off coupons for Mother's Day as well as one lucky winner will receive two tins of tea of their choice (one for them and one for mom)!

Many of you have never heard of Teamotions, but it is time you did! Teamotions is the legacy of
my daughters Aubrey and Ellie who sadly left this earth to be with Jesus in July 2008. Their short lives changed my life forever. I'd like to share their legacy with you. Read how Teamotions came to be here.

Teamotions teas are simply my way of comforting others just as I was comforted during the saddest time of my life. I wish I could be there, with you, to offer a hug and a listening ear. However, it is impossible for me to be with everyone everywhere, but I can offer tea. And not just any tea, special tea. Tea created with compassion and blended with amazing herbs called adaptogens that nurture and support our physical and emotional well-being. God has given us many things to help comfort and heal us, I believe tea is one of them.

Teamotions makes a wonderful gift for anyone anytime, but especially for mom on Mother's Day for many reasons. All moms need some TLC and appreciating them just one day a year is not enough. A gift of Teamotions shows your love and appreciation with every cup, over and over, day after day. Teamotions teas also make a thoughtful gift for the mother you know who has lost a child, baby or pregnancy and needs extra sensitivity on Mother's Day. I know first hand how difficult Mother's Day can be after loss and a cup of tea sure soothed my aching heart.

Who can you bless with Teamotions this Mother's Day?

Here is how to enter:

You can enter by leaving a comment on this post and telling me how much your mother deserves Teamotions for Mother's day. Also, you can like our Teamotions facebook page and leave a comment that you did so. You can enter yet another time by visiting our Teamotions website and leaving a comment about something you learned on the site that you didn't know before.

The winners will be picked at random on Wednesday 4/27. You will be notified via a post on this blog announcing the winners and you can claim your prize via email.

Good Luck!!!!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Down Deep

I had the privilege of spending my weekend at a women's retreat put on by my amazing church at the Calvery Chappel Conference Center in Murrieta Hot Springs. I cannot even explain to you how much I had been looking forward to this weekend and it did not disappoint. In all honesty, it was probably the best retreat I have ever been to (and I have been to a lot). I was encouraged, equipped, uplifted, changed, challenged, and touched. But more importantly that all of that (because I have been to many retreats that moved me and stirred the emotions of my faith) I was redirected. This weekend was a turning point in my faith and my life. I didn't so much feel the shift as I recognized it with my knower, that part of me that doesn't ebb and flow with the changing tide of my emotions but the part of me that I can rely on to identify truth when I see it. God met me at the steps of my soul and reset my course, pointing me away from everything else and back toward Him. Our speaker, Jill Briscoe, was amazing. She spoke on what she called life lessons. She shared with us what God has taught her in all her years in the ministry and as a missionary and the lessons were profound. They were too many to mention now, but they will be the topics of my blog posts for the next few months (yes I said months) so stay tuned if you want to hear stories and scripture that will change your life. In the meantime, you can check out Jill Briscoe's website and be blessed. She has written a ton of books and also has articles, audio lessons, pod casts, and all kinds of life changing things on there. I will be doing a give-away of one of her books (which book is a surprise) in the coming weeks so stay tuned. I KNOW it will bless your life beyond measure. I also had the privilege of meeting Sarah Macintosh who sings like an angel. She led us in worship right into the throne room of God. She has a new album out and another in the works. I will also be doing a give-away of her CD soon because, well, it is just that good. Again, check back or you might miss it! Until then, I want to leave you with a little taste of what I experienced this weekend. It is a poem and a prayer from a book written by Jill Briscoe called Faith Dancing. I have become enamored with this whole concept of dancing faith. As a baby-lost momma I have grown accustomed to a weary faith. A faith that struggles and strives and collapses in exhaustion from all the hurting, trying, and coping. The healing moments exist, but they are fleeting. The heaviness always seems to creep back onto my shoulders. I try to fight it off, but at the end of the day I climb in bed and I still HURT. It feels like the last three years have been nothing but pain management and I'm spent. I can barely walk let alone dance... But I'd like my faith to dance again. I'd like to enjoy the rest that only comes when Jesus is near. I'd like to trade my tired faith for a renewed faith, for a faith that doesn't just trudge along but dances. There is work to be done for me. Before my faith can dance I must let God in, way in, down deep. I think this concept is extra difficult for someone like me who has experienced such pain. I know how deep pain can go and those crevices and pits are not easy to reach. Of course I know God can get to those places, but I am not sure I want Him to. I don't now how much it is going to hurt to clean out what are still tender, open wounds. But as Jill Briscoe said, "There is absolutely no way I can do the work I've committed to do on the outside of me unless God is doing the work He committed to do on the inside of me." But He can't get in unless I let Him. "I simply need to give him permission to be who He is, as deep down as He wishes to go." Only then will my faith learn to dance.

Down In My Life

by Jill Briscoe


Down in my life where it’s restless and wild,

Down in my life where the adult’s a child,

Down in my fears and worries and care

Suddenly Jesus is there.

Touching my heart strings He sings me a song,

Quiets the child till she’s steady and strong,

Banishes worries – just smiles them away

Turning my night into day.


Down in my life where the troubles run deep,

Down in my life when I can’t get to sleep,

Down in my life when life isn’t fair,

Suddenly Jesus is there.

Rebuking the turmoil; He sends it away,

Gives peace in the panic and helps me to pray,

Turns sorrow to praising, surprises my pain,

And bids me to face life again.


Down in my life where I’m lonely and old,

Deep in my heart when my spirit is cold,

Down in my life when I don’t know what’s best

Suddenly Jesus gives rest.

“Gift doesn’t age” He remarks with a smile,

“I’ll set your soul dancing and make life worthwhile,

I’ll guide you in righteousness: wisdom’s delight:

And nerve your faint heart for the fight.”


He stands in my shadows and the light on His face

Reflects all His love and His mercy and grace

Right down in my life where nobody goes:

Deep in “this” heart the Lord knows.

Down in my life where it’s restless and wild,

Down in my life where the adult’s a child,

Down in my soul I’m acutely aware

Suddenly Jesus is there!"


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Making Strides

Today my son Dustin told me that he counted all the people in our family. He pointed to me and to Colton and to himself and added in dad of course and then pointed to heaven twice and said "five and six." He smiled sweetly as I rubbed his head and told him how much it means to me that he remembers his sisters and counts them. I love that he takes his big brother roll so seriously. He has always been an old soul.

I spent the rest of the day missing my girls but in a different way than usual. No tears, no depression, no questions...I just let myself feel the void. I listened to the silence made my two missing little girls and looked around at the mess that wasn't there. The Aubrey and Ellie shaped hole in my heart is permanent, but I'm getting more used to it. Not that I like it, but I accept it. It is just part of me now.

I am making strides.

I wish you could all meet my little Colton. At 8 months old he already has five teeth! He is crawling all over (has been for a while now) and loves to eat blueberries. His latest totally adorable habit is this little wave he does. I think he has discovered his hands and is impressed with how he can make them rotate at the wrist. He holds both of them up and waves countless times a day with this darling look on his face. He is in awe as am I. In awe of my amazing baby and all the cute things he does. And amazingly I feel that awe most of the time without wondering what cute things Aubrey and Ellie would have done that I will never see. Instead of sadness I smile.

I am making strides.

The past two weeks have been rough for me. I got sick. And I mean SICK. I got this sore throat cough and congestion thing that latched on to me and wouldn't let go. I was even sick on my birthday. I HATE being sick, and not just because it is miserable, but because I always blame myself for getting sick. I just know it is my own fault for not taking care of myself like I should or eating too much processed food or not getting enough sleep (I blame Colt for that!) and I just know that my body is trying to tell me something, trying to send me a message, if only I could figure out what that message is. I took herbs and Vitamin C and wrapped a hot pack around my neck with essential oils all in a attempt to heal myself. I was determined to beat it . But I didn't. It kicked my butt for 11 days straight. 11 DAYS STRAIGHT! I was miserable without question, but this time I forgave myself for getting sick. I let myself off the hook for not being indestructible. I also didn't let my disaster of a house make me feel like failure as a wife and mother. Being sick and house keeping are fundamentally opposed and I let it all be ok.

I am making strides. (And I feel much better now...I am back to training for the Tough Mudder)

Blessed. Content. Healthy.

I would have never thought it possible.

Yet it is.

"...with God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26

Sunday, March 13, 2011

My 30s

So today is my birthday. I turned 31. To be honest I don't really mind. Once you pass 30 the years get easier to swallow. It really isn't that bad being in my 30s anyway. It isn't bad at all.

When I was young and used to think about being in my 30s it felt SO far away. I would cruise around in my blue 81 El Camino feeling a lifetime from 30. I was sure that by the time I was 30 I'd be settled and secure. Settled meant married with kids and secure meant finally at peace with myself, not because I finally accepted my imperfections but because by the time I was 30 I had fixed them all.

I executed my genius plan of getting settled by marrying a Marine and moving 6 times in the first three and a half years of marriage and enduring two deployments (with more to come). And that inner security I was planning to cultivate, well it turns out that for every flaw I thought I had at 16 I really have two more, and this time they are actually real flaws. At 16 I wanted smaller thighs, now I want more integrity, discipline, selflessness, and conviction.

Now that I am in my 30s I laugh at myself at 16. My expectations bordered on crazy and turned out to be impossible. Here I sit at 31, no where close to over the hill. but more like suspended somewhere on the uphill slope holding on for dear life. I still have a ways to climb before I'm in the clear, if there even is a such thing.

So does that mean I am behind or that did I have it wrong from the start?

I am pretty sure I had it wrong from the start. One benefit of hindsight right?

I have a completely different perspective now. What I thought was up to me to accomplish with my own power and will, the life that I was going to carve out for myself, the person I was going to become, was never really within my ability in the first place. I over estimated myself and underestimated God. The life I had planned was much easier. But the one I have now is so much richer.

After 31 years I have not learned better life management skills or become more organized. I have not discovered tricks to successful living, mastered running my own life or being my own person.

What I have learned is how to let go.

I have learned to surrender my life, my dreams, my hopes and my plans to THE ONE who knows how to give me the life I need, the life that will make me less like the person I wanted to be at 16 and more like the person I want to be now, the person I need to be-more like Christ.

I can't say that I always enjoyed the process and I still have a lot of questions, but I value the fruit. I am hungrier now than I ever have been to be the woman God wants me to be so that I can live the life He wants me to live.

I don't want to do it all and have it all anymore. I only want to do and have what really matters. I don't want to be settled and secure. Self-sufficiency is overrated. I want to get better at letting God run my life, at surrendering, and at trusting. And if that means my life falls short of my expectations at 16, I am ok with that. What did I really know at 16 anyway? What do any of us know?

I will leave you with what has become my favorite Bible verse. I included two different translations. It really puts things in perspective.

2 Cor 6:3-10
3 We try to live in such a way that no one will be hindered from finding the Lord by the way we act, and so no one can find fault with our ministry. 4 In everything we do we try to show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. 5 We have been beaten, been put in jail, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. 6 We have proved ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, our sincere love, and the power of the Holy Spirit. 7 We have faithfully preached the truth. God's power has been working in us. We have righteousness as our weapon, both to attack and to defend ourselves. 8 We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. 9 We are well known, but we are treated as unknown. We live close to death, but here we are, still alive. We have been beaten within an inch of our lives. 10 Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything. NLT

2 Cor 6:3-10
3 We put no stumbling block in anyone's path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. 4 Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5 in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; 6 in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; 7 in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; 8 through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; 9 known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything. NIV

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Teamotions Launch Week Specials!!!



To honor the launch of our website we are offering not just a day, but a WEEK of specials. Check back here or go to our facebook page every day this week for that day's special.

Today's Special is (drum role please!)....

Place an order on our website and be automatically entered into a drawing to have your order doubled for free! Enjoy the extra tea yourself or give it to a friend.

Happy tea drinking friends!

Milestone Day!

Today is a special day. A milestone. A milestone in my healing and a milestone in my company Teamotions.

Today we launched our Teamotions website: www.teamotionstea.com.

Two and a half years ago I sat in a folding chair facing a tiny casket with my two babies inside it. I remember feeling so disoriented. It didn't feel real to me. The sun was out and a breeze was blowing inland. I could smell the ocean on the wind. I just sat there with their pictures in my hands frozen, staring, not thinking, not feeling. I didn't want to move. I was waiting to wake up from a really bad dream.

Eventually I did stand and walk away. I left my babies behind because I had to. But I made them a promise that I have kept and will continue to keep until the day I die.

I will never let them be forgotten.

Teamotions is their legacy. It is their mark on the world. Through Teamotions I can share their story with the world.

My girls only lived for a handful of days. With the exception of my closest family, a few friends, and some doctors, no one even met them. But the length of their lives does not reflect their value or impact. They matter to me and through Teamotions they matter to the world. It is my honor to honor them this way.

Let me know what you think of our website. I am quite proud of it. I know my girls would be proud of me.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

New Perseverance Project

Check out http://www.theperseveranceproject.blogspot.com/ for my latest perseverance project. It's the craziest one yet!

Family Photos









Teamotions Sale!!!!

Our website will launch at the end of this month (finally!!!) but in the meantime we have tins of tea with OLD labels on them ON SALE. Now is the time to stock up. Same great tea, just a different label.

Get 10% off 1-2 tins or 15% off 3 or more tins. Sachets and loose available. Supplies Limited. Find Strength Sold Out!

Leave your email in the comments of this post and I will email more information and an order form.

Thank you for supporting Teamotions!!!

www.teamotionstea.com
www.teamotions.blogspot.com
www.facebook.com/teamotions

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Little Fish

My mother gave my son Dustin a little blue fish as a gift sometime last year. It is one of those beta fighting fish. Although it is beautiful, it lives a very solitary life. If you put other fish in the bowl, it will kill them immediately, so all alone it stays.

It lives in a glass vase on my kitchen windowsill right above the sink. When I wash dishes I stare at it, and I wash dishes often so I stare at it a lot.

To be honest, I find its solitary existence depressing. I feel bad for it swimming around in such a small space with no friends or relationships. Surely even fish get lonely right? I wonder if it is sad or bored every time I look at it. Does it long for a different life? Does it ever wonder if it was meant for more than this fish bowl existence?

It began to bother me so much that I brought my burden for this little fish to the Lord.

"Lord, you care for all the creatures of the land and sea. You created each one with a purpose. What is the purpose of this little fish?"

Weeks went by.

I just stared at the little fish day after day wondering.


And then I figured it out. Or rather, God told me. The little fish was not lonely or bored, it knew something and lived by it. Something I know but forget too easily.

GOD IS ENOUGH.

Maybe its purpose was to remind me of that? I don't know. But it isn't the first time God used a fish.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

De-Funked

Well, I am not completely defunked yet, but I am on my way.

The comments and emails I received were SO helpful. Thank you, all of you. Thank you for encouraging me, advising me, supporting me, and pointing me again toward Christ. I was really touched.

As I read your comments and mulled them over in my mind I had a long conversation with God. A much needed conversation that I have had parts of here and there, but I've never quite spit it all out...

Lord, what does it matter if I am near or far from you, if I pray or not, if I seek your way for my life or go off on my own...my prayers don't seem to carry any weight nor my love for you count for much. At the end of the day, you are God and I am just me and what you have planned for me is what you have planned for me, so honestly, tell me, what does it really matter?

This question has been swirling in my mind since the moment my Ellie died. And when my Aubrey died a week later my suspicions were confirmed. It seems to me that God does what God does despite the fact that I prayed with all my being for my daughters to live. And when they did not, the only conclusion I could come to was that it was all already decided and what I wanted didn't matter.

Everyday since it has been hard for me to pray because I feel...I'm not even sure the right word...defeated/blocked/shut-down perhaps. My feelings are hurt to say the least. I find myself expressing gratitude and honor for God out of fear. If He thinks me ungrateful He might allow more suffering, more loss, and more pain in my life. And I can't ask for anything not only because I think my requests will not be considered but also because I greatly resent when lesser significant prayers are answered but the most important prayers of my life to save my babies went unanswered.

It is a fierce inner struggle. No wonder I am so exhausted all the time!

And this is where it gets even more complicated. I have been a Christian a long time. I have loved, I mean LOVED, Jesus since I was a young girl and willingly devoted my life to serving Him. I have studied his Word for almost two decades and I know what it says.

Despite how I feel I do know the Truth.

The truth is that God is near to the hurting and he answers prayer. He heard my cries and he hears them still. He is compassionate, patient, and kind. He choose me, rescued me, and rejoices over me in singing (Zephaniah 3:17).

And God did not ignore my prayers. He heard every word, every single one.

So how do I cross over? How do I get from how I feel-betrayed, disappointed, and resistant-to what I know-a loving God who wants to shoulder the burden for me if I would allow Him to? A God who did not take my girls but saved my girls and restored their tiny broken bodies to what He always intended for them; LIFE ABUNDANTLY. After all, it is His Will that none would perish. How it must break His heart to see babies suffer so.

It think the real issue is allowing myself to become vulnerable again, to trust and love Him again after this season of distance and resistance. Before my girls died I was a do what you want with me God kind of girl. Now just the thought of giving God the reigns again scares me to death. On one hand I feel like God let me down, but on the other hand I honestly doubt I could do a better job with my life on my own. The thought of trusting God again is easier to consider when I evaluate the alternative. Although it hurts, I see that God made the better choice, the best choice, to restore my girls despite the pain it has caused me. He knew it was what I really wanted, in the deepest part of my mother's heart, I wanted them to be whole and well and I was willing to pay any price for it. He knew my heart and He honored my prayers, my secret prayers that even I didn't want to admit I prayed.

In order to cross over I have to re-learn who my God is. I have to learn to see clearly through the pain and trust the truth again. It is time to dive deep into His Word and rediscover who He has always been...as He has not changed, I am the one who has changed.

This journey is a long road. MUCH longer than I ever imagined it would be. When I choose healing I had no idea the depth of the transformation that would really be taking place in me. I've hit some pretty big hurdles along the way but I refuse to give up. I don't want to miss out on what God has for me. I don't want all this pain to be for nothing.

...let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:4 NIV

 
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