Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"I will give you a new heart"

It is Tuesday.  The day I have dreaded for months came and went, the day after came and went.  I survived.  I am alright.  Things are going to be alright.

Missing Marie is a constant, she is never far from my thoughts and her absence is something that I am learning to live with.  I do not like it but I have accepted it.  And I have Josie and Sarah and they need me.  I am going to be here awhile longer yet.  I want to feel better.

So this morning I started.  I started exercising in a way that I have not for over a year and a half.  Today I left the house with Sarah in the stroller and the dog at my side with the intent to make my body work.  We lead pretty active lives, almost every evening is a walk or a bike ride but this was different.  This was doing something for myself that I just have not had the energy to do until now.  Because grief is exhausting.  The too tired to think, ache in your bones kind of exhausting.  I feel that less now.

So we set out, you can sort of feel autumn in the air in the mornings now.  Summer is changing.  About halfway through my brisk walk I looked down and saw the writing on my t-shirt.  My t-shirt that Josie decorated for me using sharpie markers and is covered with polka dots and squiggles.  The text reads:

" I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you".  Ezekiel 36:26

I think that sort of sums up where I am now.  My heart was shattered into a tiny little pieces.  My spirit was broken.  And then something happened.  When my heart split the pieces were held in His hands.  When my spirit broke He held me up.  I have not been alone.  I have been carried, and cared for, and loved just as my daughter is in Heaven.  

Right after Marie was called home a friend turned Luke and I toward Psalm 34:18.
"The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."  That is where we were then... this is where we are now.   " I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you".  We have come through... and there it is in His word.  I am so humbled by this, filled with joy by this.  I need to sing praises for this.

I can feel my heart beating stronger.  Not the heart I used to have but a heart filled with love in a new way. Filled with a commitment to the Lord in a new way.  My heart is a more sypmathetic heart, more tender in a way.  My spirit has changed too.  I am becoming a new person.  

There is the shadow of who I was, and in many ways I am the same.  Just older, less daring, more careful, more thoughful, more appriciative.  I try to be more patient, slower to jump to conclusions.  I try to think outside myself, to ask God how to serve Him instead of charging ahead.

I have come through the valley, but in reality I know there are many cloudy days in my future. 

For today it was enough to walk in the sunshine with a good dog beside me, a baby happy in the stroller and the knowlege that He will give me a new heart to heal the one that is broken.  He will put a new spirit in me, to serve, to praise, to love.  Today came with the knowlege that everything is going to be okay... even though it really, really hurts sometimes He's taking care of me, He'll carry me through.  And I'm good with that.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

For Marie...

Oh, Little Mama...  Today I don't have words.  I have an ache in my heart and tears in my eyes and a determination to celebrate your life.  I am trying not to allow myself to feel sorrow or despair today.  Today Rie Rie is all about freedom.  And how much God loves you.  And how you are healed and perfect now in Heaven, and you must be a sight to see and I want to praise Him for that. 

Today the words of your hymn were in my head when I woke up, and they say it better than I can now.  I can feel it though...  How many times did we sing this song Mama, and we sang it at your service too... because your eyes would light up when you heard the words.

Oh how He loves you Marie, Oh how He loves us and gives us peace in the midst of pain.  Oh how He loves you and me....

Oh How He Loves You and Me
          Oh, how He loves you and me, 
          Oh, how He loves you and me. 
          He gave His life, what more could He give; 
          Oh, how He loves you, 
          Oh, how He loves me, 
          Oh, how He loves you and me.
          Jesus to Calv'ry did go, 
          His love for mankind to show. 
          What He did there brought hope from despair. 
          Oh, how He loves you, 
          Oh, how He loves me, 
          Oh how He loves you and me.   
          Oh, how He loves you and me, 
          Oh, how He loves you and me. 
          He gave His life, what more could He give; 
          Oh, how He loves you, 
          Oh, how He loves me, 
          Oh, how He loves you and me.

We love you Princess Marie...

Friday, August 27, 2010

Happy birthday Sarah Kate...

Dear Sarah, today is your very first birthday.  It is hard to believe it has been a year since you were born.  Our lives have changed so much.  Daddy and I have changed so much.  Through it all dear Sarah you have been a source of joy. 

We celebrated the day you were born, but it was clouded with worry.  I am so sorry Sarah that the celebration was short lived.  I do not understand God's timing but I know exactly what He was thinking when He sent us you.  He knew how much we would need you.

Your story and Marie's are wound together so tight.  You were with her for twenty sweet minuets, she was amazed by you.  Her eyes were so wide and she touched your face...  She knew just who you were.  The little sister, the one who had kicked her for the last five months.  She just could not stop looking at you.

Josie was so proud of you.  The baby, a sister!  She held you and her face light up.  For the weeks and months after that she terrified me in her insisting on carrying you around.  She decided that she would take care of you and the little mother in her that I never knew existed appeared.  Josie worries about you so, protects you, comforts you.  She appreciates you in a way most big sisters do not.  Even when she is mad at you there is something there, this affection for you that is so deep.

It is one year later and we have so much to be joyful for.  You are healthy, your life is an answered prayer.  You thrive, you grow.  You have seized the world with two strong hands and are exploring all that you can.  You scream, walk, laugh, fight.  You are a snuggle in the mornings and a sleepy sigh at nighttime and your every accomplishment a celebration.

Last night I was praying, asking God to help me make it through this day and the day after.  Something amazing happened.  As  I prayed my sorrow, my worry, and my fear were all transformed into joy, peace, and a feeling of being so blessed.  After your Daddy, you and your sisters have been my greatest gift and I am the most blessed mother to have you.  God placed that feeling upon my heart in such a strong way last night Sarah.  Even in the darkest hours you have been a glow of light.  Your need for me has kept me moving forward when I wanted to stop and cry.  God showed me last night how there is so much to rejoice in, how much there is to be happy for.  This world is not our Home, and I want you to always remember that.  The things of this world are going to fall away and we will all be together in eternity.  Until then we are to love and take care of one another.  Hold tight to Jesus sweet girl.  With Him there is hope, and life, and He will carry you. 

It is amazing to me the little girl you are becoming.  From the blue of your eyes to the shocking blond of your hair you are amazing.  You are gentle and defiant all at the same time.  Aggressive but caring, the only one to love baby dolls.  You are cautious but once you are certain its safe you rush ahead at top speed.  You still refuse to eat vegetables.  I cannot believe you are walking already.  You are a  whirlwind and a source of calm all at the same time and you make my days happy.

Sarah Kate, you truly are my sunshine.  Daddy and I love you so very much!  Happy first birthday little girl, God is so good!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

This day...

This day last year was the last day I spent with Little Mama.  We went to the clinic, to the drug store for antibiotics and I got her a new book.  It was a pop up of The Princess and the Pea.  We snuggled in the recliner all afternoon.  We had pizza for dinner and Marie had cottage cheese and peach ice cream...  She enjoyed dessert.

I was on edge, worried about Mama and excited to be induced and meet the baby the next day.  So fearful about leaving her.

It was our last full day together...  This is the very last photo I took of our Princess...

A warm shower, lavender lotion, a snuggle but sleep wouldn't come.  She couldn't settle down.  I spent the night at the foot of the cross.  Early morning found me crying, how could I possibly leave her to go to the hospital?  I was praying harder than I had ever prayed.  In the past God would grant Marie sleep on hard  nights within moments of my prayer.  That night we were in the valley.  I felt so alone, as though He could not hear me.

Morning came and we had to leave to the hospital, inductions start early.  I sobbed, I told her to be good.  It hurt to leave her... 

Princess Marie, Queen of the Universe.  Happy in paradise... we are missing you so much right now.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Too much...

Sometimes it's too much.  Today I took Sarah to the family practice here in town.  She has not been sleeping, I can't put her down.  She cries if I get too far away.  She is tugging at her ears.  She has a double ear infection.  It hurts.

Nearly one year ago to the day I took Marie to the family practice.  She hadn't been sleeping.  She was unhappy, I couldn't put her down.  She had an ear infection.  I left that day feeling relieved, an ear infection was something we could fix.  Antibiotics and ear drops for pain would make it better.  I had no idea that I was about to have to let her go.

Today I walked out the door and onto the sidewalk with Sarah in my arms.  It is a walk I took with Marie several times.  I strapped Sarah into the car, her seat is Marie's old seat, it is in the same place it has always been.  Sarah sits where Marie used to sit.  I took my cell phone out of my purse and called Daddy, "She has an ear infection" I said.  The world echoed back at me.  I could feel the air vibrate, it was like spinning back in time in that dizzy seasick way you get when you are too high up and very afraid.

I did not know I was about to have to let her go.  Only I knew something...  I had the echos of God's voice in my head that week.  I knew somehow that we wouldn't have all three.

I cannot wrap my mind around being apart for a year.  I cannot conceive that I have survived.  Rie Rie isn't here anymore and I cannot be sad for her.  Life feels completely foreign still.  That my life has gone on when I once believed that there was no way I could exist without that child.  And I don't, not the way I did before.  I don't know what to say, how to feel, how to act, what to do.  I had no idea that anything could hurt this bad.  A broken heart is the worst ache.

Josie really misses her sister.  Sarah doesn't feel good.  My arms ache for Marie and the curve of her smile, the glow of her skin, the silk of her hair.  Just her, wonderful her.  The baby she was, the girl she became...  My heart sometimes aches for all she would have become that we don't get to see.  My husband has this look about his eyes that he didn't have before and I wish I could erase it.  I wish I could make his eyes smile again...

Sometimes it's all too much and it comes crashing down.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18 NIV

When it hurts this bad there is hope and I must remember to continue to praise God, for it is through Him and the life of Jesus Christ our Savior that I will see my baby again... there are simply different arms holding her right now.

Jesus said:
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33 NIV

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fingerprint Friday...

See Beki to for info and to join.

This is my Fingerprint today.  Marie one year ago at the big Nebraska county fair...  Pure joy.  Tonight we are taking Sarah and Josie... it was our last big thing we did with Marie... Missing her so much, praising God for her healing, grateful for the time we had and all the experiences we got to share.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

First grade...

This morning I cried into my coffee cup after waving goodbye to a too tall little girl in a blue skirt and pink Snoopy t-shirt climbing into her Daddy's pickup.

The baby on my hip felt out of place somehow.  I shut the door and the world literally spun with memories of the first day of school last year... the baby was in my belly, and my beautiful toddler was in my arms.

I kept busy all morning, sweeping, mopping, scrubbing.  My house sparkles... my heart hurts.

Sarah doesn't seem to mind Josie being gone at all.  Marie was heartsick all day looking for her big sister everywhere...

Luke came home for lunch and I was grumpy...  I feel a little bad about that...

I am looking forward to picking Josie up from school, swooping her in my arms, smelling that kid smell in her hair and taking the picture I missed snapping this morning...
Today aches with Marie's absence... I can almost hear her voice echoing in the empty rooms and the too quiet spaces.  Her face is so clear in my mind... she is quite busy I'm sure, bossing people around in Heaven.

I miss Josie too, she is so amazing.  It is very difficult to share her with the world...  but share I will because she brings sunshine wherever she goes...

I posted this last year and wanted to share it again...

I Trust You'll Treat Her Well
Author: Victor Buono
Dear World:
I bequeath to you today one little girl...in a crispy dress...with two brown eyes...and a happy laugh that ripples all day long.. and a flash of light brown hair that bounces in the sun when she runs.
I trust you'll treat her well.

She's slipping out of the backyard of my heart this morning...and skipping off down the street to her first day of school. And never again will she be completely mine.
Prim and proud she'll wave her young and independent hand this morning and say "Goodbye" and walk with little lady steps to the schoolhouse.

Now she'll learn to stand in lines...and wait by the alphabet for her name to be called. She'll learn to tune her ears for the sounds of school-bells...and deadlines...and she'll learn to giggle...and gossip...and look at the ceiling in a disinterested way when the little boy 'cross the aisle sticks out his tongue at her. And now she'll learn to be jealous. And now she'll learn how it is to feel hurt inside. And now she'll learn how not to cry.

No longer will she have time to sit on the front porch on a summer day and watch an ant scurry across the crack in the sidewalk. Nor will she have time to pop out of bed with the dawn and kiss lilac blooms in the morning dew. No, now she'll worry about those important things...like grades and which dress to wear and whose best friends is whose. And the magic of books and learning will replace the magic of her blocks and dolls. And now she'll find new heroes.

For five full years now I've been her sage and Santa Claus and pal and playmate and mother and friend. Now she'll learn to share her worship with her teachers ...which is only right. But no longer will I be the smartest woman in the whole world. Today when that school bell rings for the first time...she'll learn what it means to be a member of the group...with all its privileges and its disadvantages too.

She'll learn in time that proper young ladies do not laugh out loud...or kiss dogs...or keep frogs in pickle jars in bedrooms...or even watch ants scurry across cracks in sidewalks in the summer.
Today she'll learn for the first time that all who smile at her are not her friends. And I'll stand on the front porch and watch her start out on the long, lonely journey to becoming a woman.
So, world, I bequeath to you today one little girl...in a crispy dress...with two brown eyes...and a flash of light brown hair that bounces in the sunlight when she runs.

I trust you'll treat her well.

What I wanted most for my daughter was that she be able to soar confidently in her own sky, whatever that may be.
-- Helen Claes

Monday, August 16, 2010

Monday, Monday...

Monday, Monday... you came too soon.  Still, it's lovely outside.  We've been swinging, riding tricycles, doing chalk, playing with the dog...

The first gladiolas bloomed...

All day long I keep hearing "Blessed assurance, Jesus is Mine!  O what a foretaste of glory divine!"...  it is a beautiful hymn to have stuck in my head...

The tomatoes are turning...

I am blessed to have their company...

The grapes are getting their color too...

Butterflies dance...

Little miss Sarah took her first steps Friday and is so very brave come Monday...

Marie's angel is sleeping beneath the flowers...

And we are getting ready for school on Thursday... 


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Getting away...

Our trip away was lovely.  It was so nice to be out of town, to see some things, to show Sarah lots of things she'd never seen before.  Josie loved running around and exploring.  I got to go to Starbucks.

We had fun.  But in a bittersweet way.  I think it may be the time of year... memories of last summer are still so fresh in our minds.  It is impossible not to say or think "at this time last year we..." because these were our last days of Marie.  Only we didn't know it.

Last summer we ran away to the aquarium, we stayed at my mother in laws house up on the front range.  She wasn't home so we had a lovely picnic dinner on her back deck, Marie ate an entire chocolate whipped yoplait yogurt, and then she had chocolate cake.  We went shopping the next day, in the toy store Marie got so excited about a giant ball filled with glitter that swirled around.  Of course we bought it for her... we had gelato.  It was the last trip we took with Marie... 

This last weekend we ran away to Denver.  We stayed at a hotel.  The zoo was lovely, it was hot though.  Marie would have loved it, but she would have struggled with the heat.  The museum was also nice, it was a lot to see though.  A lot of going.  Marie would have disliked that, she would have really not been happy with the crowds...  It is so strange, we think of her now and say "She would have loved this".  Then I remember.  She wouldn't have loved it really.  She liked it quiet and cool, calm...  She would have struggled with her little body.  I worried all the time that she would want to do things her body wasn't able.  Marie was just like any two year old, only her body wasn't.  I didn't want her to feel it's limitations...  She didn't feel good.  A lot.  I miss her so much but God is helping me see, she is happier in Heaven.

What we have here pales in comparison to the city Marie spends her time in.  To the food she eats there, the sweet sounds she hears.  We can't even comprehend how wonderful it is.  She is having the best time.  We just hurt here without her.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. Psalms 46:4 NIV

These were our last days of Marie and it is on my mind constantly.  It is as though she should be here... not as though a year has passed but as if she's only been gone a moment.  And with that Little Mama a moment away is too long.

My soul is weary with sorrow...  Psalms 119:28 NIV

 Still, we are blessed in the hope we have.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  Hebrews 11:1 NIV

We were so lucky to have her.  The joy of having Marie means enduring the sorrow of being without her, and it is worth it.  I was reading an article on grieving, they said that when you have a child that's life is shorter you have to endure grief.  But you shouldn't shun the grief because it is just a part of your life with that child.  My grief is part of being Marie's mother.  When I look at it that way I am pushed to embrace the grief, just as I embraced the joy of being with her.  I do not want to get away from that grief.  It is part of life with Marie.  My sweet, sweet, bittersweet Marie.  And my Father tells me there is something to be learned from grief. 

For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.  Ecclesiastes 1:18

Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart.  Ecclesiastes 7:3 NIV

I know this month is going to be hard.  The cracks in my heart and the ache in my stomach tell me how wrong this is to be without my perfect little princess.  Still, I delight in the world to come.  This is not my home.  The simple truth is just that Marie went home before me.  Can we really be sad for her, there in paradise?  No.  It is a selfish sorrow.  We weep for ourselves, here on earth without her.  I have things to do here, and my Lord wants me to know joy here.  Marie would want me to know joy here.  That is why it was good for us to get away, to love on each other.  To enjoy special time together before we have to sow wheat and harvest corn.  A precious break, a pause in time before the world sweeps us up again.  

And our weekend was filled with love.  I can feel love surrounding us.  Marie was love.  That was the biggest lesson I think.  She exhuded love, she radiated joy.  She was a lesson in how love can break barriers, sever bonds.  God saved her with love, He saved us with love.  And love will carry us... all the way home.

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.  1 John 4:16 NIV 

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:8 NIV

  ...God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." Hebrews 13:5 NIV
Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our LORD Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.  Jude 1:21 NIV

"When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight."  Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet


Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Pictures of me...

I spend my time behind the camera.  I am the picture taker, the saver of memories.  I see things in a way different from Luke and I'm better suited for the job.  There are not many pictures of me.  A few weeks ago I read a post by Beki and it really got me thinking.  There  should be more photos of me.  When my children are grown they will be a memory...  if God decides that I'm leaving early too, they will need them.  My pictures of Marie, Josie and Sarah are my most treasured earthly possession.  They would treasure photos of me in the same way I think.

Someday perhaps a forty year old Josie will look back and see a laugh line, a crooked smile, a look, and see a bit of herself in me.  One day I know Sarah will look back and see me with her big sister Marie.  In those photos she will see how I love her, how Marie mattered.  What our relationship was.  That Marie liked holding my hair too... and in those similarities she will feel a connection to the sister she didn't' get to know like Josie did.

I am going to try to be in more pictures now... because this is our story.  I need to be part of it, not just recording it. 

March 2009... how Marie and I snuggled before bed every. single. night.
The aquarium, and my girl in her beloved sling.  My smile amazes me...  I was so full of joy that day.
The day my heart broke.  August 28, 2009
March 2010
July 2010
When I see me, my smile is different now.  I wonder if when they look back one day my girls will notice too?


Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Too fast...

Time has been flying by so incredibly quickly lately.  I feel like I am constantly running, not able to catch up.  School is starting soon, Sarah is turning one soon... Soon Rie will have been gone for far longer than I want to accept and the feeling makes me sick to my stomach.

In the last year I have learned one thing.  I cannot stop time.  Apparently my super hero powers only do so much.  I have limitations.

We are going to get out of town this week, a few quick days away before I have to give Josie back to the rest of the world.  It will be good for us to get away, to be together as a family.  At the same time, scary.  I'm still not good at leaving home.  I am used to being here, I have been here, for the last few years this house was my world and I didn't' venture far away very often.  I get anxious at leaving but know it will be good to push myself...

Tonight is Josie's gymnastics recital.  Last year we sat with Rie and cheered for her.  Marie wore Daddy's ball cap and made us laugh with her silly grin.  She thought the applause was for her. 

Tonight we'll sit with Sarah, Sarah will also think the applause is all for her.  Tonight I will miss holding Marie in my arms just like I do about every five minuets... but I'll love seeing Josie perform.  Josie is a shining star and I am going to watch her glow.