Sunday, July 10, 2016

Good Mom

Before I lost Gracia, I was a good Mom. I went through the alphabet with Keilah. Each week we went to the library and picked out books that started with whatever letter we were studying. I had a coordinating craft for every day of the week. I even had snacks prepared that began with that letter. I proudly displayed each adorable project that she completed in her play room. I have an accordion file full of her work. Maybe this is why she loves art so much. Even at the age of 6, you can find her hidden away in her bedroom surrounded by piles of scraps of paper and crayon shavings.  She talks about what inspires her and explains each drawing and creation with care.

I remember driving down the highway and trying not to cry. Those days it seemed that my eyes would well up with tears unannounced and definitely uninvited. I would hold them until they blurred my vision and I had no choice but to let them fall. Day after day, trying not to cry.  At my postpartum appointment after I delivered Gracia, I confided in my doctor. I thought I was doing alright until she asked "6 months ago would you talk to Keilah as you drove?" The answer was "Yes." That answer got me a prescription for an anti-depressant. I was embarrassed to fill it. And when it came time to take that tiny blue pill each day I wondered if it would make the tears go away and help me to be a good Mom again. After a few days I threw out the bottle.

Three and a half years later and I'm still waiting to be a good Mom.

Friday night I listened to Hillary Scott's 'Thy will be done' and read her story on why she wrote that song. She suffered a miscarriage last Fall. In the article she said that she is a different parent now than she was before.

And then it clicked for me.

I am a good Mom. I am just different than I was before. Enduring a miscarriage and stillbirth changed how I parent.

The Lord was so kind to show me that I am the Mom that He wants me to be. I asked Keilah if she wanted to play soccer this fall and she said no. She said she wanted to do Awana.  I was disappointed because she has natural ability and I enjoy watching her play, but I couldn't argue with her answer. "Learning the word of God is much more important than soccer."

I think I'll let the guilt roll off my back and keep parenting the way I have been, because eternity doesn't care if my child has an alligator A and green G in her accordion file or memories of letter P pickles for snacks. All those things will fade and wither, but the word of the Lord will stand forever (Isaiah 40:8)

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Can I keep her, Daddy?

Today is Gracia's due date, four years ago March 31st fell on Easter. When Easter rolls around I think of Gracia often. I remember the anxiety I felt as we stopped for gas after brunch and the thought crossed my mind that we could just go home and avoid the cemetery. Maybe that would help me to hurt less. But what stands out to me more than anything, was that my womb was empty and so is the tomb. Because of Christ's death and resurrection, I am able to "get" through this. He has conquered the grave and I get to meet my sweet daughter one day in Heaven.

Last fall I noticed that Keilah was thinking of Gracia often and wondering what it would have been like to have a little sister. Grief comes in waves...even when there are years wedge between and even when grief isn't voiced, grief is still there. I started to pray. I asked God that if He saw it fit, then I would like a baby sister for Keilah. I had hoped he didn't hear my prayer because my son was only a year old at the time and having two babies seemed like a responsibility I couldn't handle. Soon after I whispered that prayer, I was pregnant.

My pregnancy was full of joyful wonder. My due date was March 17th. Almost four years to the date (14 days apart) from Gracia's due date. We chose not to find out the gender even though we "knew" it was a girl. When I lost Gracia I thought my baby bearing days were over. Never in a million years did I think that God would gift me with another child. I guess giving me two babies in four years was one way to prove that He is bigger than my imagination. And I am so glad that He is.

Neriah is a sweet sweet baby. She brings me so much peace. I thought having three kids would bring out my flaws and stress me out, but having her has changed me. I thought this baby girl was for Keilah, I had no idea how much I needed her. I wanted a baby girl as much as Keilah but I shoved that dream down and didn't allow myself to yearn for that.

Sometimes fear creeps in. Because of my ministry, Lullaby of Hope, I know all the horror stories of failed pregnancies and infant loss. Even though Neriah was born healthy and we made it through pregnancy, I fear she could die in infancy. One night as Steve held Neriah and we were adoring our precious baby girl I said to him "Well, do you think we can keep her Daddy?" And as soon as the words tumbled from my mouth I realized my question was to my Heavenly Father.

That is where faith reigns. And where the tug between the present and eternal
pulsate. This is where I want to be. In a vulnerable place where my need for God is unavoidable.

Sunday, December 6, 2015


As Gracia's anniversary approached this year, I felt like the only one who remembered her. And for a second, I thought it would be easier for me to not remember too.

Women are a special breed. We are tender, we are emotional and we are brave. I was brave because I opened a wound that was closed three years ago. I went through Gracia's memory box and I read each and every card I was given. I studied her pictures. I counted her toes and put my wedding ring around her tiny ankle on her foot mold. I cried. I remembered what I wore the day we buried our daughter. What we ate. How I felt. I hummed the songs we sang.

I want to share my favorite memories surrounding Gracia's death.

My sister, Meredith, stepped in and took Keilah anytime I needed her to. And she wrote down things that Keilah said or did that she knew I would want to know about. She brought me a little lamb that we buried with Gracia. She wrote Ecclesiastes 11:5 on my belly the day I went in to deliver Gracia and she hosted a reception for us at her home after Gracia's funeral. I love you Mimi.

My Papi built Gracia's "treasure box" (her tiny casket). He used the metric system because she was his spanish grace. He used a jewelry box clasp to keep it closed. My Mom lined it with white satin and pearl trim. It was perfect.

Keilah was so little. She was 3 years old and had chubby cheeks and whispy fine hair. She said things that were wise beyond her years.  God used her to help me heal.

Because of Gracia's death, I started Lullaby of Hope. A ministry for women who are journeying through infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss. For three years, my team and I have been making baskets for these women. Her one death has allowed me to step into many women's lives when they are broken and to speak hope over them and point them to Jesus.

My sweet Gracia, I hope you hear the song that I sing to you and that you will sing it back to me.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Choosing the chosen

Lately I have been having contractors come and give me quotes for my decaying driveway, walkway and steps. As well as other exterior house work. When they leave, they thank me.

I had a friend re-upholster my daughter's old car seat and turn it into something more suitable for my son. She thanked me for using her.

Last night, I celebrated 2 years with my Lullaby of Hope ministry team. I got to spoil them by hosting a formal dinner party. My friend, who's a chef, made the most delicious meal. Fancy food that this tongue rarely gets to taste. She spent many hours prepping the food and she did all this asking for nothing in return. And she thanked me for choosing her.

All these thank you's from people who are helping me out has left me confused.
Why are they thanking me when I needed something and they are meeting that need. They are helping me, I'm not helping them.

But then I got to thinking. It's just like Christ choosing us, drawing us near and loving us unconditionally and we are left full of thanks and gratitude to Him. Why? Because He chose us.

" For you are a people holy to the Lord your God, The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His treasured possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set His love you and chose you, but because the Lord loves you an is keeping the oath He swore to your fathers. The Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and has redeemed you."

Deuteronomy 7:6-8

We were created for a reason. We live and breathe the busyness of this world along with the aches and joys of this world for a purpose. God has gifted each of us with a passion and with a talent. No matter how much you've down played your gift, if used properly can have a great impact. And when we are in our groove and know we are doing something with excellency, we soar!

It begins with choosing then we move into the next phase of being called chosen. Doesn't that just give you goose bumps? Chosen. You. are. chosen. You were hand selected. The other's fell short. But you....Oh you are the best. What you have to offer is far superior than any other.

I believe we all want to be chosen. Because being chosen means that you are loved. And that you are, very loved by your Creator.

"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you."

John 15:16

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The song

At Gracia's funeral, December 13, 2012, we had Steve's brother, Ben, play guitar and sing worship songs. Ben buried his wife and daughter just two months before. His boldness to proclaim God's goodness through music was medicine to my soul. His life after death gave me hope.

He sang his late wife's favorite song "Jesus Savior Pilot me" and the song we requested,  "How He loves".

If you are a church goer, you know how common it is to sing "How He loves" by David Crowder Band. I typically start off the song with courage and then it gets to the lyrics "I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory" and each time I lose it. I let the people around me sing, their voices raise to the Heavenly realm and I say the words quietly as a thankful pray.

Two years ago, I prayed that my afflictions would be eclipsed by glory. And they have. That song is a reminder to me of what God has done AND is continuing to do for me.

"In all their affliction, He too was afflicted and the angel of His presence SAVED them; in His love and in His pity He REDEEMED them; He lifted them up and carried them ALL THE DAYS of old"
Isaiah 63:9


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

my Healer

The thing with a death is that you don't have just one day you remember. It's many days. Each has it's own significance. Two years ago today, I met my daughter Gracia. I got to study her toes and discover that she has the same piggies as her older sister, Keilah.  And they share a nose. I memorized the lines of her lips. They were perfect. She had curly brown hair. My other children are blond and even though my husband has brown hair now, he didn't when he was a child. So I claim Gracia's brunette curls as mine :)


I want people to know that I'm not sad, I'm only just reflecting. It's a good place to be in to be able to look back on a painful time and not be depressed. God has healed me 100%. It was a choice to turn to Him and call upon Him as my Healer. My story is proof that He can do the same for you. I am no special than you. I am chosen, just as you are chosen. You are His child, just as I am. He wants to heal you just as He has healed me. Now being healed doesn't mean that I don't let tears drop, because my tears make me human. To me, it means what was once a dark place now has light. My gaping wound is now a scar, a beauty mark. My daughter's death refined me and my Savior's death has given us both new life. Sorrow is just temporary, eternity with Christ is my anchor.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Surviving the Sword

Today marks Gracia's 2 year anniversary. I was pretty worried how I would feel today and I have to say I'm a little surprised how stable I am. I've thought to myself that it must be because it's been two years, but then I remembered that time doesn't heal. God does.

I was able to go through Gracia's memory box with very little tears. It's hard to explain but I'm thankful she's in Heaven, she was a very sick baby girl. I read my journal and one excerpt that stuck out to me was how I could feel Gracia dying. Her movements became less and less. As she filled with fluid my belly swelled. Carrying her straight to Heaven was a gift.

I've talked with Keilah about Gracia many times. Her name is common in our household. I reminded Keilah of a dream she had while she stayed with Aunt Mimi, when I was in the hospital delivering Gracia. Mimi wrote down that sleeping Keilah said "hold my hand Gracia" then a moment later said "please". Then I noticed a tear falling down Keilah's cheek so I grabbed her for a hug and she let out the deepest cry. It's as if she held on to those tears for two years. I have never heard weeping like that before. I prayed for her as I held her. I didn't try to get her to stop her crying. I understand what it's like to just let the tears come. Once she calmed down she said they were happy tears, but she misses Gracia.

We went to the store and we each picked a flower for Gracia's grave. Daddy and Keilah picked purple flowers and Simon chose an orange daisy and I chose some sparkly Christmas flowers. This was Simon's first time visiting Gracia's grave.

When Gracia's death pierced my soul, I wondered how I would survive but I found grace in the wilderness. He is enough for me.

"The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness"
Jeremiah 31:2