Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Missing a little girl....along the road

We're moved in!!! It feels great to be settled a little. Our church family as well as old friends and others have loved us so well. My house is mostly unpacked and thanks to Wendy, Jennifer and Lori most of my pictures are on the walls and my things are in their rightful place. We had fun and laughed a lot during their three night stay. As I laughed, it's like I would think "wait a minute....I'm SO sad." But God's grace allows me to laugh and still be joyful because my hope in Jesus is sure. I look back and am truly convinced that He has carried me.

I never knew that I could physically ache over something....over a loss like this. When Lori, Wendy and Jennifer had some of their kids here the ache was with me as I knew Alaina would LOVE to be running and playing with all her I watched Holden and Elley see their new rooms for the first time and be totally delighted, the ache was there just knowing that Lew would be saying "Mama, it's beautiful!" Unpacking her things....the ache is there. The smells that remind me of her....and the ache is there. Seeing her pictures and just feeling like I can almost reach out and touch her....the ache is there. OH, I hate it!!! Sometimes it just won't leave. It won't just "go away." And once again, it brings me to my knees. See, sometimes it's so hard to even enjoy the joy and laughter of Elley and Holden. On one hand, it's great to see them run and splash at the park today and just love life, but on the other, Billy and I both are seeing in the midst of their playing that a piece of us is missing. Another little girl should be running and giggling. It seems so lonely without her. It wasn't supposed to BE like this!!!! I just want my life to be easy......That's what my flesh screams. But, we live in a fallen, sinful world, and in my spirit I know this is part of God's GOOD plan for us. I pray, well sometimes when I can't even pray, Jesus is interceding for me, for grace to believe the gospel.....this life is not all there is. I can't live for "this life." I just miss her so much it hurts.

Ok, for some comic relief.....I'm taking this suggestion from our new add this story. God had given us such a gift in our knew Dr. He will see our whole family. I'm not sure if he wants me to give his name, so I'll just call him "Awesome Dr." :) Ok, any Cullman people that might read probably know, but oh well, HE told me to share, so I am.

He and his wife go to our church and they're the kind of people you meet for the first time and think to yourself "I want them to be my friend" kind of great. They had us over for dinner this week and we so enjoyed their company. Awesome Dr. has been so great to truly go above and beyond for us and I really don't think He thinks we're weird. His exact words to us were (if we ever have ANY concerns about our children) "You just put it on me any time." And I know he means it. He has also done SO much for us to find out more information about Lew's sickness....more about that later because it's all still in process. We will never forget how he has served us in this unique way. ANYWAY, so I'm in his office today with Mary Helen for her six month checkup (yes, she's really 7 months but we're just now getting around to taking her ). Ok, this part is not really part of the story but it does give some background of my time leading up to the appointment.

First, I don't really know where I'm going because my GPS was not cooperating. I was very frustrated. See, things that would frustrate me under normal circumstances totally frustrate me WAY more these days. I drove around the hospital parking lot SEVERAL times looking for awesome Dr.s office. After about the fourth time, and saying "God, please give me a break here," I finally found it. Of course, Mary Helen had a dirty diaper. I get to the room, waiting for Awesome Dr. to see her and I change her diaper. As I'm washing my hands I had her on my hip with no diaper on and she (tt'd) all over me. The room totally smelled like poop and urine.

In walks Awesome Dr. OK, this is the funny part. I guess maybe my most embarrassing moment.....but I laughed until my stomach hurt. He proceeds to ask me a long string of questions about Mary Helen...."Is she rolling over? Eating cereal/baby food? reaching for objects? sleeping well ? and so on. Then he continues, "Did she have any problems at birth? Was she born at 40 weeks? Did she have a regular birth? " I told him that I had a C-section and she was around 38 and a half weeks....she was my fourth C-section.

THEN, he continues by asking, "Now does Billly have his guns locked up?" And I say "No, I had my tubes tied." OK, he totally meant Billy's actual shot guns and rifles that he hunts with !!!!!!! Do you get what I thought he meant????? ( like male body parts "locked up") I am a total freak aren't I. He pushes back in his chair and is laughing out loud, then I realize what I THOUGHT he meant and I know my face was as red as the wall but I was laughing so hard it hurt....we both were for several minutes. He said " that's the best I've heard in a long time!" He even told the nurses :)

He also said, "I read your blog last night and you need to add this story for some comic relief." I decided he was right. I hope it makes you laugh. This one is going down in history for me.

It's so good to laugh. I get tired of being sad. Just another reminder to me of God's grace in my life....that I can ache from the pain but can also ache in a fun way from laughing so hard.

I'll end with this....a poem from my recent women's bible study "Tapestry"

My life is but a weaving
Between my Lord and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He works so steadily.

Oft' times He weaves in sorrow
And I, in foolish pride,
Forget He sees the upper
And I, the underside.

The dark threads are as needed
In the Weaver's skillful hand,
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.

Not till the loom is silent
And shuttles cease to fly,
Will God unroll the canvas
And explain the reason why.

He IS my Master Weaver and He causes me to trust.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Grace, peace and truth......along the road

Jesus has "carried" me the past few days. The deep sadness is always there but I can laugh and we've said over and over I can grieve with hope. Before Billy and I had any children, actually when I was pregnant with Holden, we made a decision. We prayed that our children wouldn't become the center of our world. We were a family, the two of us, and any children we had would be joining our family, not become the center where everything revolved around them. See, Christ is my hope. My hope and purpose can't be in my children though I love them more than I can explain. This gospel of grace is more precious to me than it has ever been. We'll never fully fathom the depth of God's love for us (in this life) but He does give us a picture.....He explains it in His word.....that God would give his ONLY Son to be the substitute for ALL the yuck in our hearts. Ok, I couldn't do it. There's no way I would. BUT, I'm not GOD!!! The punishment that brought US peace was upon HIM. The conversation Jesus has with God just before the crucifixion....."Can there be another way?" I would've said, Yes!!! We'll get another plan....there can be another way. And Jesus said, "Not my will, but YOUR will be done."

This is how I feel. God, can't there be another way? Is this really your plan? And ONLY by his grace can I say.....not my will (not what Hope wants) but YOUR will be done. I prayed last night......"God, whatever you have for us, let it be.......whatever." Cause me to live this life with an open hand.....not closing my fists and holding tightly to anything. I want to continue to stress this......THIS is what God can do. He is loving yet powerful enough to sustain my frail and weak self and this same strength is yours if you know Him. This same peace is in your heart and life if you're a believer. HE is the strength and the power and the peace and the truth and the grace and the hope. God is! It all points to HIM. Get to know this God that is just as mighty in your life.

So we're figuring out our "new normal." I told Billy last night that I feel like we've had our legs or arms amputated. We can still function, but just have to figure out how to do it without a major part of our body. Things move just looks and feels different no matter what you do. You make a little progress everyday but it's slow and steady. It's a long, hard and painful road to travel, especially without your arms.

I spent Thursday night and Friday at the beach with two of my "heart" friends. It was such a gift just to be with them......just to "be." They left and Billy joined me Friday night. We sat on the beach, taking in all the beauty and calm. It has been very restoring. AND, I've been sleeping better, THANK YOU for praying specifically. God has taken a lot of the fear that the night time brings. I'm sure it will come back around but God is bigger than fear or worry or doubt or you fill in the blank.

So, we are headed to Cullman on Sunday and the moving truck gets there Tuesday. I've already pictured myself with these new women at our church.....they don't know me, I don't know them. I've imagined me saying to them "Ok, I just lost my daughter and need you to be my friend. I'm usually an initiator but I'm not exactly my normal self so you may need to initiate to me. I may be the biggest drain in your life for at least the next year but, so be it." :) Oh, my pride! See, I don't want them to think I'm a crazy woman. What if they never see that I am just laid back and fun? :)

It may be a little while before I can post again since we're moving this week but I'll be back eventually. I'm excited to get moved in and settled.

Take care friends!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Our Lew

Several of you have asked how we got the nickname "Lew." It started as "Laina Lucy" then "Laina Lew" .......then "Lew" :)

These pictures are some of the last ones I took of her....we were in Florida just a few weeks ago.
Thank you for praying friends!!!!!!!!!!!! I need it now more than ever.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Part 2....Hospital stay with Holden

Isaiah 42:16......"I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them."

It's amazing to me that before the foundation of the world God knew this verse would bring encouragement to even me. "I will lead Hope by ways she has not known, I will guide Hope, I will turn darkness into light before Hope. These are the things I will do for Hope; I will not forsake her"

Do you see it? These are the things HE will do. It's not about what I can do. He's the point. He has all the power, He is the strong one. "Because HE lives I can face tomorrow, because HE lives all fear is gone, because I know HE holds the future, life is worth the loving just because HE lives"

I didn't post was just a hard day and I didn't have the energy but His mercies are new every morning. I really hate the night time. When it starts to get dark is usually when fear creeps in and it seems to be the worst part of the day. I Do NOt! want to live in fear. Fear paralyzes. It reminds me of snow skiing a few years ago. I finally was able to learn how because we were in Colorado and I wasn't pregnant :) I thought I was ready to leave the bunny slope and try the first real run. As we got higher and higher I could feel the fear coming. We got off the ski lift and I started down the mountain only to realize I couldn't see over each hump. I felt so out of control, like I was going to ski straight into the trees. I didn't think I could stop myself. So, I just decided to sit down on the mountain and not go any further. I was literally gripped with fear. Billy was awesome (as always :) he tried to gently "coach" me but I would have nothing of it. We started walking down the mountain but you can imagine how that was trying to walk in those awful boots. Ok, I can laugh about it now......the ski patrol had to come and get me and take me down the mountain. And you know what, once I let him have control there was no more fear. I had complete confidence that he could get me safely down the mountain, and riding down on that sled thing was the most fun I had all day.

And so it is with God....Even though the fear seems so great and I feel paralyzed at times, I know that He is Able.....He is able to carry me when I can't possibly keep going, He can bring peace and joy when I wonder if it will ever fully be in my life again....He is able to love me in spite of my sin and selfish heart that is full of yuck....and He is able to take the fear that grips my heart as I think of possibly losing another child like we did this past weekend.

So I'm finally back around to Holden. The pediatric Dr. got there and said they wanted to keep Holden for at least 48 hours to watch him and wait for the blood work to come back. Billy broke down for the first time(at the hospital). I had an upset stomach the entire hospital stay....the worst I've ever had. You know that nervous pit in your stomach that won't go away. And of course on top of that we were/are so emotionally spent. The Dr. decided to not continue trying to do the spinal tap unless Holden got worse during the night. God put me back together enough to be able to go see Holden.(I know it always seems I'm saying I feel the need to be strong in front of Holden but, don't worry, he has seen me cry often. We encourage him to talk about Alaina and to never feel like he is going to upset us by what he says. I just didn't want to make him anymore nervous than he already was in that hospital room!!!) He wanted me to tell The Three Billygoats. He still had tears on his face. We were finally given a room and then the waiting really began. That first night was one of the hardest nights of my life....probably second only to the first night we lost Alaina.

They had Holden hooked to some kind of oxygen monitor that constantly showed numbers going up and down. I stared at that box so much that night. My heart beat faster every time the I V started beeping (and this was all night because it beeped every time Holden bent his arm). I didn't fall asleep until the sun started coming up. Holden's fever got up to 103 something. They were able to get the fever down after some medicine. The Dr. started antibiotics through his I V. He was able to sleep that first night. The next morning he was improving but we were still very afraid. Then, he asked me what I knew he was probably thinking....."Am I gonna die????"

I said, "I don't think so, baby. I think you're going to be just fine." I was begging God, saying over and over, "please don't take him, please don't take him!" Throughout the next day he continued to get better and I was feeling the prayers on our behalf. The second morning the Dr. came to see us again and the tests came back all negative. The Dr. said he laid awake staring at the ceiling that night thinking about whether or not he should give me, Billy MaryH. and Elley an antibiotic.

We don't have much information about Alaina. We do know that she had viral meningitis but most people don't die from this. Many have it and never even know it. She should've been sick for several days. They are testing to see if she had some kind of underlying something we didn't know about......but we weren't even sure it she had viral or bacterial when we were in the hospital with Holden. It was very frustrating because we knew this could help the Dr. know how to treat. BUT AGAIN, God is the ONE who is ultimately in control no matter how much we think we know or how much we DON'T know.

We were able to come home Sunday after the Dr. came to our room and said all the tests were negative and he could see Holden's improvement.

Now we're thankful beyond words for Holden's quick recovery, but also hit once again with the hard and painful reality that we've lost Alaina.

I'll end with a quote I keep in my bible.....

"God is too wise not to know all about us and what
is really best for us to be and to have.
And He is too good not to desire our highest good
and too powerful, desiring not to effect it.
If then what He has appointed for us does not
seem to us the best--or even to be good--
our true course is to remember that He sees further than we do--
and that we shall understand Him in time when His plans
have unfolded themselves. Meanwhile, casting all our care
upon Him since He careth for us."

Henry Parry Liddon

Sunday, July 13, 2008

We're pressing on.....along the road

Before I tell the whole story of the past few days let be just say that Holden is doing great!!!

Now let me back up and fill you in. This past Wednesday Billy took Holden and Clemson(my nephew) to Jackson Mississippi to a fire training conference thing. I know that's not the name of it but you get the point. Billy and I decided it would be good for the three of them to get away and just try to have some fun together. They had a great time, and spent their time hanging out with the Sunbelt team (Billy's work) and learning all about what firefighters do. For those of you that don't know, Billy just took a new job selling fire trucks and fire equipment. They came home Friday and were exhausted. Holden came in a laid on the bed and I could tell how tired he was. He felt warm but I just thought it was because he was asleep in the car and maybe the vent wasn't blowing on him in the back seat. About an hour later, he was still lying around and I thought that was sort of odd considering his usual energy level. I felt his forehead again and he was still just as warm so we took his temp and it was 102. I, of course was concerned and then he said his head hurt. ( bad headache is one of the classic signs of Meningitis) As soon as he said it I felt sick.....physically and emotionally sick (again!) Billy said "let's take him to Meridian right now." So we headed to the ER.
Honestly the car ride was a blur to me but can tell you that I was struggling with God. In my head I'm thinking "No, NO, this is not happening. We just buried Alaina Monday.....God, why is this happening? You KNOW how fragile we are right now....I Can't do this!!! I can't let him go now. Ok, if I say I'm willing to let him go then maybe you won't take him. If I say I can't let him go then you will take him." I couldn't pray, I could barely talk out loud. We called ahead to the ER and they got us in pretty quickly. You could tell that by the time we got to see the Dr. that everyone around new our situation. They were all staring at me. I was outside Holden's room crying because I didn't want to scare him any more than he already was. I know they all thought I was a crazy woman. Ok, I was a shower...hadn't brushed my teeth ALL day (that I can remember)....just looked like I had rolled out of bed. I told the two different Dr.s " We're not freaks, ok. We're not just overprotective parents.....we just lost our daughter last week."
The first Dr. we saw wanted to do a spinal tap as well as other blood work and test his urine. We were told we would be there at least 48 hours. I was wondering how in the world I was going to make it that long without knowing what was wrong. I wasn't in the room while they did the I V and I couldn't be anywhere nearby for the spinal. I knew I would fall apart...well I already was falling apart so I guess they probably would've just admitted ME.
Side note: As I was telling the Pediatric Dr. our whole story/history he listened and made notes and asked questions. Then, when I was done he asked me how Holden was taking it and then suggested that maybe we should get counseling sometime down the road. I wanted to say "Um, what I need right now is for you to hook me up and sedate me!!"
Anyway, as I was sitting in the waiting area I continued to struggle with God. I kept thinking of Job (in the bible) and how God took his whole family. I also thought about a book I'm reading where a woman loses two babies at different times. As I'm agonizing by myself I was reminded of a truth that Jill Hooper shared when she was the speaker at our women's retreat. (Jill, if you ever read this I hope it's ok I shared :) As she struggled with breast cancer she would always read about other women who died from this disease and it caused much fear. One day, she realized "that's not MY story." Her story could look very different....GOD was in control of it. GOD was writing her story. Whether she lived or died, it would be HER story and no one else's. God reminded me of this in those moments. So I started saying out loud..."That's not my story! Job's life is not my story!" I don't have to fear just because this has happened to other people. I was hit with the reality that I already knew in the back of my head....we could loose another child. I can't hold onto them. I have NO control....I must trust(but I don't want to, I CAN'T just by willing myself to) God, I can't even pray, I can't think anymore.....If you take Holden will I still say you are good? Will I be able to say "you give and take away, blessed be your name?" Is this going to be my story?
All I can say is only by His grace would I ever be able to continue saying it. As I think about it happening(losing another) I don't think I could but that's the thing about grace...we can't borrow it for tomorrow. It's for today and God always provides it for tomorrow. We can't fathom how we could possibly keep going. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and LEAN NOT ON YOUR OWN UNDERSTANDING." In my limited understanding I don't see how I could continue to trust....but when I consider who HE IS, I know there's hope no matter what.
Well, I'm exhausted so I can't keep writing tonight.....I'll try and post part two of the story tomorrow.
OH, and I read every one of your comments.....they are very life giving to me, so Thank you!! Thank you for being prayer warriors FOR US!
I'll write about all the (rest) of the details of our hospital stay with Holden........for now, he is doing much better. We are so thankful. That's an understatement. You know the beginning and the end, I just need to finish the middle tomorrow. Does that even make sense? I'm half asleep!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Let me start at the beginning

I am finding it to be very good for me to "journal." My thoughts are racing and my heart is so full of things I want to share. I pray that what comes out is only what God wants shared. I know there's really no such thing as "too good to be true" with God but so many times over the years I've thought this. Then, I would say to God, "This is bad theology the way I'm thinking. It's too good to be true that you sent your son to die for me, a sinner." This fact alone is too wonderful for me to comprehend....and not just this but also that I have a purpose to my life. I'm not just here to live, get married, have children and die. I can know God personally and He can transform my whole world. And the BEST part is that I get to spend eternity with Him where there is no pain, no sadness, no loss. But still, I thought my life was too good. My parents are awesome, I have wonderful friends, I couldn't ask for a better husband, I've been blessed with four children that are all happy and healthy. I've never struggled with believing God is good because He has never allowed anything in my life to cause me to doubt Him, well nothing really "big" anyway. I've mostly had to trust God in the lives of my friends, as I've watched them struggle with really big things. Struggling marriages, loss of a newborn, raising kids(I have struggled along with them on this one,) feeling lonely, depression, etc.
Some of you have already read that I've struggled with fear the past few months. God has been preparing me for this loss. Over and over in my head I would think, "What would I do if I lost Billy or one of the children?" Every time I would go back to trusting a God who has perfect love for me. I didn't really pray, "God, please never let this happen," because I believe God ordains everything! I would always think that God would give me the grace to make it no matter how painful. I can remember in our Chicago house when we put everybody to bed at night I would just want to protect the children. God just let me keep them where they are, safe and content in their beds and nothing can harm them. I knew I wasn't in control even though I wanted to be.
I'm not making this up.....I promise! The night before Alaina died I went to sleep thinking about my life. We had been planning a reunion with some of my college friends and I was saying to God...."When all of us get together, what am I going to share? One has lost a baby, one has lost her Dad as a teenager and gone through infertility, one has gone through a major hurricane and one just buried her brother. What's my struggle to share???? Am I just there to comfort them, having never gone through anything hard compared to them???
The next morning I found my daughter....she was gone. I still have the horrible images in my head. You can pray about that for me. I can still hear my mom screaming in the background. I still feel physically sick just thinking about that morning. On Tuesday Alaina came in my room at around 5:00 am and said "Mama I threw up in my bed." I went in her room and saw that she had but is wasn't much because she had an empty stomach. I gave her a bath and made her a place on the couch to rest. I just thought she had a stomach several she has had before. All the classic symptoms...weak, can't keep anything down, tired. She slept a lot that day but was awake some. I remember vividly that she got up from the recliner to hide from my Dad when he came home. She covered herself with a blanket on the couch and giggled when he found her. At one point she wanted to watch The Wizard of OZ and when I got her settled in the bed she was asleep before the movie even started. I just thought she was really worn out from our crazy schedule on top of being sick. She tried a Popsicle and some juice and water but couldn't keep it down. I decided around 6:00pm not to give her anything else to eat or drink. She slept in the recliner until around 9:00 when I went to bed and put her in the bed with me. She moved and talked in her sleep. I got up around 3:00am and couldn't sleep so I got on the couch and eventually fell asleep. I heard Mary Helen crying the next morning. She was in a pack n play in Alaina's room. I walked in the room and Alaina wasn't on the bed and I had a flash of panic in my head. I looked on the other side of the bed and she had fallen off. I reached down to get her and knew something felt different. She didn't feel right. I won't give anymore details but I will tell you that I immediately started CPR. In my head I kept thinking she was already gone, but maybe I was wrong. Maybe I could save her life. The paramedics got there quickly and they were with her maybe 15 minutes or so. I was outside holding onto my mom and dad (Billy wasn't here.) I prayed for a miracle but could just sense what they would come out and tell us. My dad came out and his words were "No baby, she's gone." Never have I known such intense pain....physical, emotional, mental. It's physically hard to type right now.
What makes it even harder is that we had no time to prepare.....even if we had taken her to the Dr. and they had told us it was Meningitis and there was nothing they could least I would've had a day to think about it. But God is God and I am not. He is the one that makes those decisions. You know all the places your mind goes, though. What if I had only?
So today, this is where God finds me. Desperate, sad, broken, empty, hitting rock bottom. Sobbing as today I look through the pool bag to get Holden some goggles and see Lew's pink goggles. Picturing her learning to swim this summer and how proud she was. Looking up and seeing Holden standing in the door watching me cry with such a pitiful look on his face. Seeing Elley wearing some of Alaina's clothes(they had so many matching things), watching her walk around in Alaina'a sandals. The sting is everywhere. You can't escape it, you can't bury it, it's staring you in the face. You must walk through it. But how?????? It's a one word answer....GOD. It's the gospel of grace. That's why I want to press on. My hope is in him. My hope is in spending eternity with Him. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think people in heaven can see us down here. If they could they would see how sad we are and it would make them sad. And just as the song at the funeral said "then all hurt and pain will cease and we will be with Him forever and in His presence we will live." I would go nuts if I thought for one minute that she was sad, lonely or looking for me. I know my God sees me, though. He is carrying my burden because it's too much for me. The reality is my Lew is better than she has ever been. She is with her heavenly Daddy and has never known such joy! This makes me smile. This brings some joy back to me. This makes me long for heaven. Jesus, Thank You!!! Thank you that you made this possible. Because of this gospel of grace, I will make it!!!!!

Where do I even begin?

I am taking a step of faith by opening up my heart to you in hopes that God will use our journey to draw you to himself. I don't know how God will use it through a sinner like me, but I trust that He will. Well, I know that everyone he uses is a sinner, so I'm no different :) Several of my friends know that I was hesitant to list our blog address for EVERYONE at the funeral. I trust that if you're taking the time to read this that you truly want to know. Obviously my posts will look very different now. Well, some things won't be different, that's the hard part. We'll continue to take lots of pictures, go to the pool, have school things, have play will just all be without her. It's very lonely without her. You'd think with three other children it wouldn't seem so lonely, but it does. I promise to be "real." It's my desire to be real and honest. Give me grace if my thoughts don't make sense and especially my punctuation/wording... all that mess.

Several months ago Billy was struggling with some things at work and I kept saying "This is where the rubber meets the road for us. This is when our faith truly makes a difference in how we live. Do we really believe what we say we believe? Do we believe God ordains EVERYTHING? If we do, then when we go through "hard" things it looks different for us compared to a non-believer."

This is exactly what we're facing now with the loss of our little girl. If not for the hope of the gospel being REAL and TRUE I think, well, I know that I would be completely consumed with sadness. I almost can't even cry anymore, it's almost not real that she's gone. In a lot of ways it's like Alaina and Elley were twins. They did everything together. Elley loves all the things Alaina loved. So we are surrounded with sweet, precious memories, very hard to think about without crying memories. Billy, my Dad and I took Clemson(nephew), Holden and Alaina to a creek today. You know exactly what I was doing the whole time. Yep, I was picturing Alaina with them splashing, laughing and excited. I walked down the dirt road crying, not because I didn't want my Dad or Billy to see me, but because I don't want Elley and Holden to see their mom crying ALL the time. You can pray for this. Of course, they are not as devastated as we are. I know they still probably think Alaina will be coming home in a few weeks...she's just on a little trip. It's so confusing for them. I don't think they realize they will never play with their sister again in this life. How do you process this when you're 2 and 6???? Yet another thing I must trust Jesus about.

I've always been a people pleaser in that I don't want anyone upset with me and I, of course, want them to like me. I hate any kind of conflict. For probably the first time in my life I Don't care what people think. Don't get me wrong, I care as long as it relates to the GOSPEL. Otherwise I feel so FREE. This is something huge in my life......a process God has been working on for the past three years especially. I'm not nearly as concerned with what people think of my kids, how they are "behaving," whether they think I'm a good mother/wife/cook/housekeeper, etc, etc. Losing Alaina will help me be a better mother. I am free to not worry about stupid things, insignificant things like them watching 30 more minutes of TV or obeying the first time EVERY time I tell them to do something.

I ONLY want to be consumed with my Jesus....not with sadness. I long to "live my life for an audience of ONE." (Tammy Murden quote). My security, self worth, EVERYTHING must ultimately come from Him and not anyone or anything else. This road we are traveling now is a constant reminder of my old way of thinking. For so many years, I lived the christian life viewing it like a mountain. You just keep climbing to the top getting higher and higher, becoming a "better" christian until one day you pretty much "arrive." It was such a legalistic way to live. I used to think, "Oh, they're a strong christian, a mature believer, they don't struggle with the things I do, they've mastered things like trusting God and being disciplined." Now, the longer I walk with Him, I see more and more how sinful I truly am. The christian life is a continuous cycle of Repent and believe.....repent and believe the gospel. Over and over again. I must believe the gospel now more than ever before, I do believe it!

I hope you don't look at me. What I mean is that I want you to look at Jesus. I'm telling you, anything I am doing "right" is only from Him. In and of myself I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to keep going. My strength is all by His grace, the funeral was all by His grace, making it through one day is all by His grace. His free grace and love, and mercy, and kindness, and faithfulness and compassion. He is the great "I AM." I picture it as Him saying "I AM....whatever you need. Fill in the blank." Grief is so complex. Society either thinks you're weird if you are sad for a LONG time or you're being fake because you seem "over it" too quickly. I don't think I have to be strong or "hold it together." I feel no pressure. I feel free to just be. I'm not running to Jesus, he's running to me, my high priest is interceding for me when I don't even have the words to pray. He's holding me when I can't "hold on." He's carrying me when I don't want to walk.

ok, all these words are not just for you. It's for me, too. This is the closest thing to a journal I'll probably ever have. To Him alone be the glory!!!!!

Final note: we learned on Monday that Lew (my little nickname forAlaina) had some form of Meningitis. I'll post more details on that later.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Grieving with hope

Sweet friends, (Billy always says don't say "sweet," instead say "kind," because kindness is a fruit of the spirit, but oh well :)

I'm in awe of God. I am amazed at God's people. Never have I been so held up, prayed for, thought for, cared for, loved.....I am utterly humbled that God has equipped my family by his GRACE for such a time as this. I don't even know where to begin as my thoughts/emotions are all over the place. Your words of encouragement and prayers on our behalf are precious to me!! Thank you for walking this road with us, for coming alongside to love and pray and serve. The funeral was perfect, it was everything I wanted it to be. Hopefully, with some help I can post the slide show from the visitation and the little booklet about Alaina that was given out. I also want to get the songs on here that were sung.
"Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty
who was and is and is to come.
With all creation I sing, Praise to the risen king,
You are my everything, and I WILL adore you."
"You give and take away, you give and take away,
my heart WILL CHOOSE to say, Lord blessed be your name"
ok, right now playing on my computer is a song that I love, so I'll end with the chorus-
"Your blood, has washed away my sin, Jesus, Thank you,
the Father's wrath completely satisfied,
Jesus, Thank you,
Once your enemy, now seated at your table,
Jesus, Thank You!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Oh dear friends, I don't even know what to type. I am broken. So, So sad. My little girl is gone and I just want her here. I didn't even want to come in this room because this is where she and I slept the night she was sick. There are memories everywhere. Sweet, precious memories. My heart is so broken. I can't imagine life without her as today was even harder than yesterday. This morning was so quiet with just me, Billy and my parents in the house. After the quiet, just weeping, all four of us. Then quiet again. We know we will make it. Christ will hold us and carry us. It's hard to breathe. I Do believe with all my heart that He is good! It's all for His glory anyway. He is holding onto us even when we don't have the strength to hold onto Him. Thank you for your prayers on our behalf...they are holding us together. We will tell Holden today. He loved his sister so much. Please pray for that time with him. I'll write again later.