Saturday, February 7, 2009

My heart is heavy

I know you've seen this picture here before but it's one of my favorite. The same photographer that took Elley and Mary Helen's pictures back in October lightened this up for me and thought they turned out beautiful..... that sweet, peaceful face. This was one of the last pictures I took of Laina(yes, I meant to leave off the A since that's what Elley calls her) and on this day it was a stress free photo session. We were in Florida with my mother in law and Holden, Lew and Elley were all running around outside by this lake so I grabbed my camera and started snapping. I never told them to look at the camera or smile because it never fails...that always seems to create stress. I just let them "be." I can't say anymore right now, it's just almost unbearable at the moment.

Well, one last thing. To all my faithful commenters, I want to say Thank You! I continued this blog after Laina died because I truly wanted to let you in on this journey. The past few years God has really been teaching me the value of being "real" and authentic (same thing :) This is one of the things I value MOST in others and so I have prayed that God would make it true of my life. So, although it's not about your comments, they really do encourage me. You know what, it's not really even what you say it's just that you take the time to say anything at all...even if it's just "I'm praying" or "I'm remembering Alaina today." What I'm trying to say is that it's very meaningful when you feel like your pain is acknowledged....that it's not forgotten. If I continued to pour my heart out to you and you never responded, well, that would be like me pouring my heart out to Billy and him just staring at me. Does that make sense? So just know that I always value what you say and it means the world to me that you are remembering my family and my Laina.



50 comments:

Amy said...

I will be praying for you tonight specifically that God would lift the "extra" heavy burden your feeling. I am so thankful that you have continued sharing this journey with us!!!

Debra Carl said...

Hope,

I have NOT faithfully written BUT I have been faithfully checking your blog and reading it and thinking about you and your family. You are not forgotten! I'll be praying for your heart as you continue to walk forward.

Matt, Carrie and Lucy Allen said...

sweet hope,
i am so glad you continue to write. i do think about ya'll so much and as a mother, i know your pain has to be unbearable and heavy. i cannot imagine. but i am so encouraged by you and the things you share with us and how God is working in your life. i am praying for you.
love,
carrie

Emily said...

My eyes couldn't help but tear up when I saw that beautiful photo of Alaina. My thought was, you have a picture of her in Heaven. Wearing that pretty white dress, beautiful sunshine, the blue of the water and the green of the grass. Happy, content and enjoying God's creation.
Please know I am not saying this to add to your heavy heart yet I couldn't help but think you were given a glimpse of your daughter in Heaven. Know I am struggling to just type this with all my tears yet I want to thank you again for being "real" and honest. You continue to bless me with your example and words. Thank you!

grace corliss said...

This is my first response here because I have the privilege of seeing you several times a week. I hope you already know what a blessing you have been in my life. Sadly, we never got to know sweet Alaina but we are getting to know her through your memories and that is a treasure! I so wish I could tickle her tummy like I tickle Ellie or Mary Helen. We love your blog and your family and we are so grateful that you lovingly share this difficult journey with us! You are in our prayers always!

Jimmy Thompson said...

Hope,
This is your Dad. I love you very much. As you know, I've never left a comment on your blog. This is just to confirm that many times during every day of the last seven months, and five days, I've felt that my heart would was going to beat out of my chest when thinking of you, and the loss of Lania. My heart has been broken by her absence, and its been broken for you. "They" say men want to "fix" things, and knowing this is something I cannot fix for you( not to mention for myself) has been the greatest challenge of my life. Therefore, I pray for you as never before, because I believe God is the only One who is able, and He will walk with you (and all of us) through this most painful time. I also love the picture of Lania. See you Sunday.

Love,
Paw

Joy said...

Still reading even though I rarely comment. We have not forgotten Alaina, although we never met her. You are often in our thoughts and prayers. Your pain is not forgotten and neither is your precious daughter. That photo of her is beautiful... Thank you for your authenticity. It's wonderful that when we are weak, He is strong. You are being made perfect in your weakest time. God is getting the glory from your willingness to share your heart.

Robyn said...

I have you on my blog list, but honestly sometimes can't check yours because the pain is too great. I am so sorry for your family but and praising God for the strength he has given you. I have tears everytime I read. I will pray for you. Thanks for sharing-

I just couldn't bear to see those pics in October without Alaina, my eyes were seeing her in every pic looking over the other girls shoulders. I guess she will always be looking over them from heaven.

The Hannahs said...

Oh, Hope...you have such a precious heart. My thoughts and prayers are with you daily and will always be. I love you dearly, old friend.
Love,
Rachel

Aimee said...

Hope,

I am loving you and praying for your heart now.

Laina will never be forgotten.

Lori Ellen said...

She's beautiful...and so are you. You WILL get through this.

I love you!
Lori

Anonymous said...

Laina was a special little girl. She will always be remembered. Our thoughts and prayers to you, Billy, Holden, Elley and Mary H.

Love,
Karen and Rob
(Yorkville, IL)

Katie said...

I do not know you Hope, but I discovered your blog through a friend's right after Alaina's passing. Your daughter met her Savior on the day my oldest turned four so I was especially touched by your story. I've been following your journey and am moved today to comment because I know that it must make a huge difference to you to know how many people have been touched by your testimony. You have an amazing grace about you and I will continue as I have for many months to lift your family up in my prayers.

The McNeill Family said...

Billy and Hope,
Just a note to say we are still praying for you. I know this journey will not end for you this side of Heaven, but we hold to the fact that He is faithful. Thank you for sharing Laina with all of us in this way. Just knowing her through you has blessed our lives in more ways than you know.
Ken and Jenny

Anonymous said...

Dear Hope,

We have never met and probabley never will someone shared your story with me and I have been coming to this blog almost dailey and when you go days with out blogging Im like where is she. I would just love to spend the day with you and your children and I wish there was something I could do for you. Im amazed how touched I am every time I read your blog. I pray you can keep the good fight of faith. Thanks again for being real.

Mirinda said...

Hope, I have never commented but have been reading ever since you lost Alaina. A friend of ours (actually, we go to church with a few folks you know!) told us about your situation and I drop by everyday to see if you've posted. My family continues to pray for you and your family. I am always encouraged by the faith and strength you have.

Kim said...

I am praying for you RIGHT NOW.I am grieving over your pain Right Now.I am lifting you up RIGHT NOW.

I am loving you so much RIGHT NOW,

April Brown said...

Hope...I AM praying for you!!! You and Billy and your sweet children are not forgotten... neither is your pain. I cannot imagine your grief. I long for the day when our Heavenly Father will make sense of this all but until then please know you all are loved and being prayed for my friend!

Jean said...

Hope,

Your "realness" and vulnerability really touches my heart. Thank you for continually opening yourself up to all of us. You are always on my heart. What an absolutely beautiful picture of Alaina.
Love,
Jean

Anonymous said...

Hey Hope,
Okay, no more excuses for not commenting... at least not from me:)I love you my precious friend and I am lifting you up to our Father daily. I was just thinking of Alaina today. Abigail had a friend over after church and they got out the dress-ups and as I zipped up a princess costume I thought of her.I love that picture of her, we keep the same picture from the funeral service on the side of the frig so it's what I see first every morning as I get breakfast for the kids. Thank you for having the courage to be "real". It was so great to see you just a few short weeks ago.I miss you my friend; "For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear, I will help you." Isaiah 41:13
Missing you and praying for you,
Nancy

JJMERKEL said...

Hope, I am still praying for you and Billy (and the kids of course). I think of you often.

We love you all!

Anonymous said...

From someone who hasn't met you (officially), but a sister in Christ just the same, I want you to know that I have been praying for you. Your beautiful daughter will never be forgotten. She will always live on through those who were blessed enough to know her in this life. Her past was here on earth, but her NOW and her FOREVER is spent in the arms of a Father and Savior whose love is perfect and complete. I can just picture her on the day that she greets you in heaven. The joy and excitement she will have to share! But for now, I know you are in an unimaginable amount of pain missing her. When I finish writing, I am going to stop and pray for you at this very moment. Thank you for being real. Thank you for sharing your beautiful "Laina" with the rest of us.

Brandi Barnes Parten said...

Hope, you have truly been a blessing to so many people! Each time I think of you, I believe it is the Lord telling me to pray for you, so please know that you are being prayed for. I love you

Elijah's Mom said...

I think of you and your family often. I pray for you whenever I think of you. I wish I could have met your sweet girl. That picture makes my heart smile.

Anonymous said...

Hope,
I am another one of those who have never met you. In fact, I don't remember quite who sent the link to your blog to me when I first checked it. But, I have been reading it for several months now, and pray for you and your family. You are such an encouragement to me. Your walk shows me how you are relying on God to get you through this, and He is. Thank you for sharing your journey. You have touched so many people that you don't even know. Thank you Hope.
Chris

Anonymous said...

Hope-

I am also one who has not met you, but consider you a sister in Christ. I was sent here by Greg L. -I went to churh with Billy back in O. P. He seems to still be the same great guy I knew back then:> Hope, You have touched my life with your faithfulness. I, as a mother, have cried and prayed for your family(I have a 10yr old, a 8yr old, and a 5 yr old). As your sister in christ, I have lifted you up to our Father. You inspire me in My walk with Christ. In Christ Alone. Thank you for sharing You.

Heather Carr Barnes

Tut said...

Hope--
I continue to stay up to date with your blog and am always amazed at your strength, "realness," and overwhelming faith. Thank you for all you've shared with us. Keep sharing. We are listening. It's been a while since we've hung out but I still call you friend. love-

tut

Lindsey said...

i really can't tell you how much i think about you and can't begin to even imagine what your days are like. i love to "hear" from you and know how to pray for you and billy and the rest of your family. we love you guys and without a doubt have not forgotten you. that is the most beautiful picture of alaina.

Shea said...

I was struck my this passage yesterday during Sunday school. It just "hit home" for me and my thoughts turned to you. As a matter of fact I made a note in my Bible and it says "For Hope A."

2 Corinithians 3:12-18 reads..."Therefore, since we have such a HOPE, we are very BOLD. We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in CHRIST is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is FREEDOM. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing GLORY, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."

Thank you for lifting the veil from your heart and not hiding your heart; by letting us in and my sharing your pain you bring us HOPE for you. And we love you for that and grieve with you because of it. Only in Christ and because of Him will you get through this. But know that you have many prayer warriors thinking of you still every single day. Much love! What a beautiful girl Alaina was and is. She will never be forgotten.

Anonymous said...

Love to you, Hope. I am praying. I love how that picture shows Alaina as you described that day with her--I can almost feel it. Thanks for the beautiful reminder. The size of the ache in your heart testifies to the weightiness of your love for Alaina--it is real, and endless and true. I'm asking Jesus to hold you in His arms and that right now you will feel that weightiness of His love for you. He understands you in a way that no one on this earth can. Katie A.

Anonymous said...

You are in my thoughts and in my prayers! Everytime I read a passage that includes the word hope, I think of you and your family... You stated in an earlier blog that this was the year of HOPE... I also pray that this is the year for peace.. I love you and your family, Hope and am so inspired by your faith...

Love
Paige Kahlbau Thomasson

Michael and Jennifer Werneth said...

hope,
i love what shea said: you DO reflect the lord's glory with your unveiled face and open heart. just so you know, i often don't know how to talk about laina because i didn't get to know her like i wish i had. but i always remember her, and i always wish that she were with us when we're together. love you.

Danny and Jennifer White said...

Love you all Hope and will continue to pray.

Kristin said...

That picture is so beautiful...

We love you.

Anonymous said...

Hi Hope, this is Vicky Spratt, Kathy Porter's daughter, and I just felt like I wanted to let you know that we (the Parkview family) have thought about you and prayed for you often since Alaina passed away. My mom, who is not a big internet person, and as you know can relate to how you are feeling, talks about your family all the time. She said to tell Holden that she misses him. You are such an inspiration to me as sometimes I lose the "joy" that I should have with my children and I don't appreciate them. Your blog always brings me back to being thankful for my children instead of feeling overwhelmed and annoyed. Anyway, just know that there are many people out here hoping for the best for your family.

Kayla (Liechty) Paulk said...

Hello, Hope. I read your blog every so often, and I remember you and Billy in prayer much more frequently. I can see how God is moving and working in your life even through this hardship - isn't that just like Him? We love you very much.

Jason and Kayla (Liechty, Greg's sister) Paulk

Friends and Family said...

I love the highlighted picture of Alaina. Just beautiful. Always thinking of you. Thank you for sharing your intimate thoughts with us. You truly have a gift to express those thoughts. You're amazing!

Much love,
Deidre C Bankston

jules said...

Billy and Hope,
I don't know that you will remember me...I was a student at USA and got involved in Campus Outreach through a precious sorority sister and diligent prayers...well anyway, long story short, you guys have blessed my life in ways that you do not know...you see i wasn't a Christian when i first started going to the "Edge" but i vividly remember several talks that Billy gave at the campus and at several conferences...on top of that, i would remember watching you guys and seeing such unconditional love and everlasting hope in you guys. so, i prayed to receieve Christ one year at a New Years Conference. It is the most pivotal and most amazing thing that has ever happened...and I can truly say that it is because of people like you guys who planted the seed in my heart. So, thank you from the bottom of my heart...i could never repay you for your faithfulness to the Lord.
So, in saying all of this, i wanted to be diligent and faithful to you guys and let you know that somehow i stumbled upon your blog...which we all no is no mistake...God makes no mistakes. And, I have been praying for you guys and your family constantly. So, know that I am eternally grateful for you guys...and I am so sorry for you loss but that your daughter was beautiful and is laughing and dancing with Jesus. I will continually pray for you...
love you both,
Julia Everett

Shea said...

Thinking of you this Valentines Day. I know you must be missing sweet Alaina today, like every other day. Much love to the Atchisons!

Anonymous said...

hope, i just wanted to say that you are incredible, that your family is beautiful, including your special angel Laina, and your faith in God is an inspiration to so many people. God is the God of the mountains and the valleys. You are triumphant in Him each day you get out of bed and acknowledge Him and turn that day over to Him. "What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins AND GRIEFS TO BEAR."
We love you and are praying for you.
Melynda

Jimmy Cowan said...

Hope, just letting you know that I am up late tonight, so I stopped a moment to check in on you guys. I am lifting you up tonight and asking that God specifically return laughter to your family, hope to your hearts, and peace to your minds. You are all still in my thoughts and prayers.
Mrs. Cowan

Jan in Gilbertown said...

Hope,
I don't know you personally, but you are such an inspiration to me. When I feel that I just can't go any further for what ever reason, I go to your blog and read your latest post. You have shown what a person can do in any situation when God is there. O, God is always there, but we just don't acknowledge Him all the time. I just don't know how people get up in the morning without the help of God in every way. Just know that you have helped many, many people through many things by sharing your great loss and how God has helped you and is continuing to help you daily.

Jan

Sarah said...

It was great to see you laugh last week. I know when a group gets together, you can probably "push" things out of your mind for a moment. Then I read your sweet dad's comment. I love you guys and continue to pray for all of you. When I look at Hartsel I wonder if Lew was like her in a lot of ways. I will continue to pray...we'll be in touch. I love you girl. Stay warm camping:)

Kristin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kristin said...

Still here, Hope... Still checking on you and loving you. I've been thinking of you and will pray especially hard for you today.

Again, this picture of Alaina is absolutely beautiful. I clicked on it to enlarge it, and just took her in for a minute. Those little freckles are so sweet...

Hope everyone is doing well. And I hope you've been able to get out in this gorgeous weather together.

Love you.

Kristin said...

P.S. I still can't get over how much Elley and Laura Beth look alike. :) I think it's the nose,smile, face shape, and hair... When you get a chance, peek at her recent pictures on my blog.

ann said...

HOPE and prayers are being lifted for you today.

"I lift my eyes toward the mountains, where will my help come from. My help will come from the Lord, maker of heaven and earth." Psalm 121:1-2

Praying that as you look to the mountains ahead of you on this journey you will continually be reminded of where your help will come from.

I love you. Ann

Shelley said...

God really does put you on my heart often. And I do pray. Even this morning I was thinking about you guys. People really do love your authenticity. It is raw and real. People can feel what you feel as you share. I think that is what keeps us praying. Keep sharing.

Michael and Jennifer Werneth said...

i so enjoy time with you and billy and want you to know that i think that ya'll are great parents. you fully enjoy your children and i love that. i know that alaina was so well loved! i put a new song on the top of my playlist that i thought you and billy might enjoy! i continue to pray daily for you both.

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