Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Daily Battle

Thank you for all your kind cards/thoughts/prayers for me during Thanksgiving and leading up to Christmas. Yes, it was and will be hard without Alaina but I think I've realized it can't be any HARDER than just our daily life. The empty seat at the table and in the car, the missing laughter and chatter of another little girl, the missing name on a card that says Dear Billy, Hope, Holden, Elley and Mary Helen, the little girl that's not in the pictures....all the daily things.

Thanksgiving was really good. We had a great time in Indiana with my brother and sister-in-law. The biggest thing I expected to be hard was the memory of Alaina in their house. The day we got there, when I had a minute alone upstairs I just tried to take a deep breath and look around and remember her in certain spots she loved. I smiled when I pictured her on the horse and playing with the barbie house. The lump in my throat was there but I was fighting to see her laughing and full of life in my memory. I'm always fighting. Fighting to keep going and not withdraw, fighting to keep my joy, fighting with the enemy with what he seeks to "steal, kill and destroy."

How is this battle fought? Daily, by confessing by utter and complete dependence on Jesus...saying His name out loud and praying for grace in the moment. That's the simple answer.

Remembering is great at times and awful at times. I love the house I grew up in. I can vividly remember riding through the yard in the golf cart and playing fast food "drive through" at my bedroom window and bank drive through with my Dad's big calculator, pulling friends around on a piece of carpet tied to the back of the golf cart, going far back into the woods to where I couldn't see the house anymore, putting on shows in my closet and busting the glitter baton in my bedroom as I pretended to spank a student in my "class." And now I get to watch my children play the same things I did and it's so special. They LOVE going there. I haven't been back since Alaina died. I just haven't been ready to face it, but I want to. I WILL go there.... but now I have some memories there that will cause me to "fight" when I go. Fight to remember all the great days Alaina had of her favorite places to be. This is one of my biggest daily battles. The flashbacks, the morning I found her and the events that followed that day. I remember watching my Dad carry Mary Helen around while the paramedics were with Alaina, where I was when my Dad came out and said she was gone, where I sat when I called Billy and had to tell him over the phone that Alaina had died, the policeman's faces, the day my world was changed. But the day that God was holding me and never leaving and the day I knew he was now the holder of my oldest daughter. So, by God's grace I will not lose this battle. I know the ending already and it gives me hope to press on.

I'm missing Chicago these past few days. When we were coming home from Indiana I wanted to turn towards Illinois on the interstate. It's snowing there and I so miss that! I miss our church and friends but I think the biggest thing is I miss what we had there. That's where I "hear" Alaina's voice. I want to go back to that place of no pain like this present pain. I think back on our hardest days there and would take them anyday over losing her. If I have hard days with one of the kids now and we're in the middle of a meltdown I think "I wish I was doing this with Alaina." I wish she was the one being disciplined. I wish she was HERE! I think about our last year with her and how precious it was. She was so strong-willed at times. I remember one night when our small group was together in Illinois we were sharing prayer requests and I asked for prayer as I was parenting her. "Sometimes I wonder what she's thinking as she's laying in bed each night. Does she even feel loved by us or does she just feel like we're "on her" all the time....just always correcting and disciplining." We remained consistent with her and I(we) just tried my best to balance discipline and grace and assure her every night how much I loved her. If you've been reading this blog from the beginning you probably remember reading about my hard day with her at the children's museum in Indiana....I think it was one of my first few posts. The day I cried in the bathroom stall because I was so frustrated with her. Well, it was so neat to see her grow and mature from there. She really turned some corners the last year. Instead of her response being "no!" it started to be "ok, Mama! or ok Daddy!" Instead of doing the opposite of what we said she began to obey quickly and I was SO thankful. Looking back I remember her becoming extremely affectionate even the last few weeks of her life. She would initiate the hug or the kiss or the "Mama...I love you." I get mad when I can't clearly "hear" that sweet voice in my head. I get it mixed up with Elley's voice now.

So we got a Christmas tree today and I picked up her stocking and held it. I was dreading that. Her ornaments are on the tree...she is part of this family and so deeply loved.

Romans 8:32 "He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all- how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?

This post is picture overload. There's the slide show and then our family pictures that we had done a few days ago.

Here's the link to the family pictures...we made it through and even smiled in the process! :) That's what you do when you're trying to fight the battle.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


It pains me to post without pictures. Why am I weird like that? I think I just realized why I need there to be pictures. ok, the pictures represent something. It's that I want you to "see" that we're going to be ok. I want you to see us smiling and "living" life even though our days are SO hard without her. This all came full circle for me this past weekend. Billy and I were driving to Troy's homecomimg and I said "So you're good for our pictures on Monday, right?" To which he replies "No, I can't do it." "You're kidding, right?" "No, I really can't, I had something come up with work that I have to do, I just got the email last night."

I could feel the lump in my throat. Now let me set the scene for you a little better. Some dear friends we've made here in Cullman offered to pay for us to have our first family picture whenever we were ready. I decided now was the time and we could hopefully use one for our Christmas card. Some of you may be thinking it's too hard for us to even do a card this year, but honestly, the thought of NOT doing one is even sadder to me. So I've realized that this year's card symbolizes so much more than just our picture. It's a symbol of hope for me. It means that we're going to "live" in the midst of this hurt and these tears. It's taking the next step on this journey. It's letting our friends and family see that we can smile and we're going to make it!!!!!! To see that we still believe in God's goodness. Does that make sense?

So all that to say, I had our outfits picked, the photographer scheduled to come to our house, etc. and Billy says he can't do it. He says (before realizing how important this is to me) "It's just a picture, we can reschedule." So after my anger boils on the inside for a while I say through my tears...."It's NOT just a picture...not this year!!!" We had a great talk about it and after listening to me he completely understood. So you can be sad when you see our picture but I also pray it will be a symbol of hope when you look at it.... and that it will remind you to pray. You know how the new year is always exciting...fresh starts, new goals, etc. I think of 2009 and I feel weary at the thought of moving forward without Lew. But God will give grace for those days too. Again, it goes back to surrender and trust.

Maybe the next post will be just one big slide show of pictures. We've been camping, done Halloween(even Billy and I dressed up this year) and went to Troy's Homecoming this past weekend. All very fun. It was good to laugh.

Or, maybe the next post will just be for you to listen to my playlist of songs. Sometimes I'm amazed at how the words seem to say EXACTLY how I feel. So if you ever wonder how I'm doing, just listen to the words.

Oh, one more thing. Last night I was reading back through cards that people have sent and came across these notes and it made me smile.....

"We can only say that our lives were blessed and enriched by knowing that sweet little sunbeam, Alaina. She of the bold spirit and cheerful countenance....of the extra-large hairbows and southern-style dresses...of the curious eyes and quick smile."..... I couldn't have described her any better than this!

"Time moves for everyone around you- but likely not for you. And I reckon that your broken hearts are hurting more now than even a week ago. God is faithful. When you are in the "I can't do this, God" desolate pit, Jesus will be there. My prayer for you will continue to be that God's grace flowing not just over you, but into the fissures of your broken hearts- will be a comforting reality."

God is answering your prayers! He gives us grace daily to keep walking, to keep pressing on.

Until next time(WITH PICTURES)
Hope :)