Lessons At The Kitchen Sink.

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Hey you.

Mama.

The one standing at the sink washing the never ending dishes while staring blankly out the window.

The Mama in your own world for just a moment while peices of your family runs around your home.

I know what you’re thinking.

It’s funny isn’t it?

Maybe funny isn’t the word.

But isn’t it crazy how life just goes on?

How in a sometimes feels- like- yesterday, yet in another feels- so- distant time…. that your tummy contained a life that is no longer.

It’s little moments like these ones that remind you of  the missing feet running around and the absent giggles around the dinner table.

How did we get here?

From that dreary hospital chair to the kitchen sink .

Because there was a time we could barely stand.

Because there was a time where the pain was so immensely present that just existing was difficult.

Because there was a time where our other children’s laughter was not seen as a blessing, but as a breathtakingly painful reminder of the childs we would never hear.

Because there was a time when I placed my once alive but now lifeless baby in my husband’s arms to hand over to the coroner.

Because there was a time  I thought life was over for me too.

But it wasnt.

……And minutes turned in to hours and hours in to days.

…. And days in to weeks and weeks in to months.

…And then months into years.

YEARS.

And one day you wake up, and can thank the ever present never left your side God. The One who you battled with in the kitchen one stormy morning while your daughter laid breathless on the floor.

The One whom ultimately had the ability to “save the day” …..

……but didn’t.

And you look back at that not so distant time where you could not see any point in living any longer. That time when your other children was not even enough of a motive for you to live through this pain.

Then you remember the moments He showed up time and time again.

The moments where he put just a glimmer of light in the seemingly never ending darkness and just the smallest bit of joy in the forever feeling pain.

And you realize that although he may not have saved that day, He did save your life.

Then one day years from now you’ve emerged from the middle of the storm and you’re staring out your kitchen window….and not only are you remembering that precious child that once was, but you are thinking about the life thereafter you’d never thought you’d have.

The life you couldn’t even see in the midst.

A life that has had so many moments of pain and family shaken hard times. But a life of healing, of blessings, and of change.

But back then we couldn’t see it.

….And that’s okay.

We wouldn’t have believed it if we could.

Because back then all we could see was death and pain and the unfairness of this world we live in.

Back then all that we could see was the pink cold hospital chair where we last held our precious baby.

Until one day we didn’t.

I never would have thought that this journey would bave been and continues to be, even more than I could have ever imagined.

That I could feel so abudantly blessed and loved in a life that has contained so much pain and death.

But I am.

And He continues to be.

Our grief doesn’t stop.

But neither does our God.

And because of Him, today we can stand and be thankful for the veiw.

And for tomorrow we are filled with hope.

I don’t know how we got here.

But I am so very thankful we are.

Thankful that while our tough tierd hands  were created for cradling sweet babies and washing these very dishes….that His…

His were made for healing.

 

Sarah

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When He CAN…..But He Doesn’t.


“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. – Romans 8:28 “

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I remember the breath-takingly surreal moment I found myself desperately waiting in the small room in back of the Outpatient Department. The nurse in me was anticipating the moment the emotionally and physically drained doctor would come in and tell me that my baby girl was gone. After all, it had been too long. Far past the appropriate amount of time we give someone in a code. A code? My baby was being resuscitated in this very moment? How in the world did we get from  a nursing, smiling, sleepy baby… to this?

But the Mama in me…..the God believing part of me begged Him to save her, pleaded with Him to show my church family in the waiting room…. that He was bigger than all of this. That if only He would perform this miracle, He would enable the physicians, the nurses, the staff involved to see just how mighty He was.

I tried to reason with Him in my final moments before the words of my new reality would be spoken. In my last desperate attempt I told Him that He could use this moment to change lives. That He could perform a miracle that would be talked about throughout this community….one that would ultimately lead people to Him.

Then moments later It happened.

…..and as the physician entered I immediately began to scream no. No to what he was going to say. No to God because this was not in the plan. No because this was not happening, not my life, not my story. I refused it to be. The doctor did manage to say the words. That all attempts of resuscitation had been unsuccessful. But I had already knew that part. I knew that part when twenty minutes had gone by and there were still no more signs of life than when she had left my home. I knew that when one of my co workers who had checked in gave me the look to get prepared for what was next.

My faith had never been in the science.

My faith has been in God, but with the stipulation that He was going to go along with my plan. The miracle. The saving her part. The breathing life back in to my breathless  baby ending.

Yet there we were. Small baby girl in my arms, proof of the attempts to save her still stuck in to her body. A white fleece hospital blanket and tear filled kisses that could not cover up the fact that time was causing her to become colder and colder.

Surrounded my friends and family and questions and whys?

Encapsulated by a God bigger than it all.

He could have saved her.

He could have changed the outcome of my story that early July morning.

He could have performed a miracle,

……but He didn’t.

Or so I thought.

Audrey’s survival wasn’t my story changer.

Her death was.

As painful as it was, it was our family’s survival that became the miracle.

The never ending prayers for healing from our amazing church family, My pastors gracious ability to love like Jesus, and every single day thereafter He gave me to go on.

The community watched as we wept, trusted, and healed. They became enveloped in our story…..in Gods strength and watched closely and questionably as He carried us through.

Audrey’s death ultimately led people to God.

All things I begged Him for that morning.

All outcomes I prayed would come from my baby girls life.

Assumingly unanswered prayers; answered.

His way…..not mine.

Still a miracle….just one that took longer to see.

He’s here. In all of it. Working behind the scenes. Healing,transforming, preparing, saving, carrying…..

Writing your story.

A story that may be unlike anything you would have written.

…..but with an ending that is ever so beautiful.

Because ultimately its not the miracle we really want……….it is the God that makes it all possible.

 

 

 

To The Woman With The Footprint Tattoo…..

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I seen you standing there.

Close enough to watch your children,

…..but far enough away from the rest of the world.

You were grumpy…..distant.

    I sat on the bench while our children’s attentions turned from the playhouse, to the swings, to the sandbox.

     I may have been the first to judge……to wonder what could have been so wrong for you to be present, but not be really there. How you could give such sharp remarks to your children so publicly, or how you could not care that all eyes were on you as you shouted across the playground.

   I was jealous in some ways. That you could be so real. I felt like I could sense there was something…….

Then I seen it.

   You turned around for just a moment and there on your back, a little to the left…were two teeny tiny footprints and two dates.

    Two dates that did indeed signify a birth, but it was the second that caused my stomach to scrunch up tightly in my body. The date that your precious little one took their last breath. The year of 2016.

…and I got it.

You weren’t here yet.

You couldn’t be.

I knew.

Because I had a hidden mark on my inner wrist that said the same thing.

Because I had been there only a couple years prior.

   I knew you didn’t want to be there….neither had I. That inside it killed you to place your completely broken self right in the middle of a populated play area where you struggled between feelings of guilt and whether anyone knew you were even broken at all.

    I got that your quick snaps were not of anger, but of survival. That it was easier to yell then as to physically move your body. That just being there was exhausting enough when your newly emerged in grief self could barely find the strength to get out of bed each morning.

   I knew that you missed your sweet baby. That as you watched your girls play in the sandbox your thoughts were reminding you that there should have been another hand with a shovel….that as you watched my baby eating tiny handfuls of sand you envied me because you wanted yours…that as you tried so hard to take a picture that in your mind it was and would always now be incomplete because someone was missing.

    Truth was, you were branded by death long before that tattoo. I could tell from your movements…from the “dead” look in your eyes. You were branded the moment your precious baby took their last breath on this earth. So was I.

   All we ever exchanged was a half smile while we rounded up our sandy children from the swings and slides.

But I knew you.

   I wish I could have told you I had been there. That I was still there just a little further ahead on the road. I didn’t need to know your name to know that your heart was broken in to more pieces than you could ever imagine. That your entire world had been shaken to the core. I didn’t need to have a  conversation with you to understand that you were in the middle of a storm that seems like it will never end.

……because it doesn’t.

Not really.

It gets “easier”, it fades and clears off at times…..but its always there lurking ready to show its self at the most random of moments.

You are going to get it through it.

If you can just hold on, next year you may just be sitting next to me on that bench.

   Able to smile at those precious life savers of yours playing next to you….maybe even to help build a sandcastle. Maybe even ready to speak to the Mama next to you.

   Until then I will remember you…..remember the brief encounter that placed my feet back on to the ground and allowed me to feel those raw, first year feelings.

Until then….you will remain in my prayers.

   You and those small set of footprints that changed this Mamas heart more than you will ever know.

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A Broken Kind Of Beautiful.

“God wastes nothing and he heals two broken hearts with one story – the reader and the writer.” – Ann Voskamp

   The last four months have been so hard. Disappointing in some ways as I watched myself take step by step back from the things that I had clung so tightly to for the first year after Audreys death. My writing, my reading, my time with God..all lifesavers…..all of it began to feel so distant as the anniversary of Audreys death passed and the true brutality of the situation revealed itself.

 Broken.

 That small six letter, yet complex word was what I would use to describe me. The numbness was gone. Every ounce of it had weathered and worn away. Ashers advancing milestones left me face to face with the ones my precious Audrey didn’t get to meet….would never get to meet. My now empty womb reminded me that it was all over.That Asher was here…that Audrey was gone. Each month after her death age left me fully exposed to the harshness and rawness of all of my emotions that I had never fully dealt with but had just hid away. I began to pull away.

  Maybe because I felt the world was tired of hearing it…..

  Maybe because I felt that I should be better…..healed in some way…

  A diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and anxitey left me feeling defeated…embarrassed. I felt like a failure. Like a hypocrite. Like everything I had found…and then tried to share had been a lie. How could I say that I trusted God, yet spend every single day fearing him….fearing life…..fearing death, and everything in between. All of a sudden It became easier….safer… to accept what I had lost, then to hope for anything that may not be. 

  I battled back and forth with this for months, until last night I was standing at my kitchen island. Tired from a day of unexpected appointments and wrestling children. By this time of the day I had a headache, I was cranky, and my sweet but nagging nine year old was not helping with either of those things.

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  Supper was in the oven, and I managed to muster up the last bit of oomph I had to make a quick dessert of baked apples for my family. Five apples….five apples was all I had left, and as I began coring them one by one I thought this would be a good “cooking lesson” and special moment I could spend with my persistently bored oldest. She began to stir the ingredients for the center of our apples in our mixing bowl when I did it. When I broke the fifth and final apple completely in half.

 On a normal day this would have seemed like nothing….but on this day…..on this yucky, cranky, wishing it was over day I was completely annoyed. Being there were no more apples to replace it with I began to brainstorm all the ways I could somehow fix it. Abi watched silently as I played with the apple like a puzzle, trying to toothpick it back together just as it had been before. Desperate to save this broken useless piece of fruit because it was either the broken apple or none at all.  

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 When nothing worked I simply stood the apple in the pan and pressed it back together. It stood there. Cracks barely visible. The apple appeared to be as the rest….that was until I began to pour the brown sugar into each one of their centers causing the broken one to collapse.

  There it was. I sighed as I stared at the damaged messy apple lying there in pieces amongst all the other whole ones. I was out of time. My husband was now home, my children were hungry. There was no fixing it. Even if I managed to stick it back together once again it was never going to be as it was before. 

 That is when Abigail tapped me on my shoulder and spoke these words; ” Mom, that’s okay. I’ll eat the broken one. You know…that broken one could be the best one to eat because all the good stuff will be on the outside too.”

 Tears filled my eyes as I got it.

 She was right.

  In that moment my Abigail thought she was talking to me about apples, but she was really teaching me about my life….about myself.

  Audreys death has left me feeling exactly like a broken apple. Damaged, irreparable, and unusable. I too have wasted so much precious time trying to convince myself and the world around me that I could eventually stick myself back together in to the person I was before. To enable me to become whole again. 

  But just maybe I have been striving for the wrong thing. 

   You see, what if I am not broken? What if I don’t need to be restored back to my preexisting self? What if I am damaged, but in a way that allows me to be used differently….or better than I had been before?

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   My life has been an ooey gooey sticky mess. Life circumstances has oozed its way through all of my cracks….sometimes leaving such a disaster that it has been obvious to the world around me……….but it has also been a beautiful one. 

  Because of it I am more humble.

I am more grateful.

I am more sweeter. 

Our weakness, mistakes, and struggles are what helps us relate to others…to reach others. It strips us of our pride, and our better than you attitudes. 

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Maybe I have had no choice but to face the heat of the boiling water and the messiness of this crazy beautiful life.

…….but maybe that same stickiness has covered me…changed me into a sweeter better me. A me that emphasizes and feels others pain. A me that appreciates the gift of time and cherished memories.

A me that loves a God who doesn’t make broken….but heals it.

A me that is an grateful, blessed, and unbroken kind of beautiful. 

  Isn’t that our purpose anyways?

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When You Don’t Know How You Got Here.

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    Have you ever set out to drive somewhere only to realize that you have arrived at your destination but have no idea how you got there in the first place?

I have.

   In fact, there were many times after working a night shift as a nurse that I would get in to my car exhausted and wishing that I had someone to take the wheel for me. Being alone I would shift my car into drive only to find myself waking up hours later in my bed with no recollection of how I had gotten there.

   Life after Audreys death was exactly like that. Day in and day out of complete and utter exhausting, gut-wrenching, heart breaking grief. Grief that prohibited me from focusing on what I was doing, or where I was going. Knowing my girls had ate supper but not remembering preparing it. Feeling my hair wet but having no memory of taking a shower. Waking up in the morning with the most nauseated pit in my stomach and severe crushing pain in my heart and going to bed the exact same way as I had awaken, with no recollection of the day passed.

   Guilt haunted me and fear surrounded me. I was stressed. My marriage was strained. I became scared of my every breathe being my last……my childrens every breath being their last. My nights were spent continually walking in to rooms and checking for breath sounds or a rising chest……looking for anything that would signify that my childrens precious bodies still contained life and that would provide even the slightest bit of ease to my anxious mind.

   Life became a world where a cough wasn’t just a cough, and a bug bite wasn’t just a bug bite. Every living and non living thing for that matter became a possible life changing threat. The ” live every day as your last “mantra consumed me to the point that even my children became exhausted as I tried so desperately to fill my days until over flowing at the brim so to not feel how empty I truly was.

   Through that I became as an expurgated book. I held nothing back. I left nothing in. After all there was no way to hide my brokenness anyways. I was broken from the inside out. From the top of my head to the tips of my toes. I could manage to patch the cracks for awhile but my grief…..my frantic longing to have my sweet baby girl back in my arms always ended up busting at the seams. I deeply missed her. I still do…..

    I will forever remember the immediate days following Audreys death and the heavy feelings of the unexpected that haunted my thoughts. The thoughts of how bad the pain was going to be when it finally set it that she was never ever coming back or the worry that my life was never going to be anything more than a deep, dark pit of grief.

   A year ago, I was scared. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to smile again…..like really smile. Not just the half moon shape I forced my lips to make when people asked me how I was…but one that I truly would feel deep within. I remember feeling like there was no way that I would never feel any better than I did in those early and raw grief stricken moments. It seemed impossible that I would ever get to a place where the good days out weighed the bad and the smiles out numbered the tears.

   The first year was a complete blur full of expected emotions, unexpected emotions, tears, screams, first holidays without, and a strong desire for a better life than I had before. A yearning for a fulfillment that I had been missing in the first place.

   My life has changed drastically in the past seventeen months……and although I feel at times that I have no idea how I have gotten here……how I have made it this far… every single day is bringing me closer to who I am, and to the truth than the last

   So as I sat down tonight in the quietness of my home….feeling drained from an ever persistent toddler, and the second batch of pickles I not so wisely chose to start in the chaos of it all. Missing my Audrey as her precious picture hung in front of me. Wondering if this is really my life and questioning how I even got here in the first place.

   I realized that this…..all of this, is exactly how I got here. The good, the bad, and the down right ugly. Every single raw emotion, salty tear, and blood curdling scream is a part of my story, but its not the only part.

I am still here.

I survived.

I am now living in the time that I never thought was possible to reach.

   I have had a faith and hope restored more than I could have ever imagined, and I am being used in ways I never would have known. Although I admit my nights are still filled with breath checks and my marriage still has its moments,  I am right where I need to be, stronger and with an appreciation for the fragility of life.

   So tonight I am thankful…..not because I have lost my beautiful precious baby girl, but thankful that with him I am weathering this storm. I am thankful that I am at a place I never thought I would be. A place where I can really smile, laugh, and find joy in the midst and truly feel it. Grateful that I am beginning to once again live a life worth living, and that when those bad days come I have someone driving with me. Someone filling a seat that was meant for him all along.

Someone willing to take the wheel…… so that I can begin to appreciate the drive.

…and that……

That is exactly how I have gotten here.

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What I Want Them To Know……..

Start children off on the way they should go,
    and even when they are old they will not turn from it. – Proverbs 22:6   11960112_10154143320265110_2618242373285066123_n (2)

My children are now growing up in a world where they will no longer know what it is like to be picked last, or maybe even not at all for a team. A world where a passing grade will be handed to them regardless of whether they are ready to advance to the next level or not.  A world that is continually finding new ways to remove the one who created it in the first place. A world that in some ways will have the power to prevent our children from shining to their full potential because the drive for them to work hard for what they want is no longer there. 

  As a mom this scares me.

I want my children to make mistakes, to fail sometimes, and to fall down and scrape their knees. Not because I want them to feel pain, but because I want them to learn from them, to problem solve, to have a drive to succeed, and to get back up and try again. I want them to need Jesus, to seek him when they need help. I want them to learn these things now so that when their backpacks are exchanged for brief cases they are not confused as to why they were not picked and given that promotion. I want them to be ready for the world that they will soon have to navigate, and work their way through. A life where you only get out of it… what you put in.

I want them to know that they won’t always make the team. That sometimes there will be someone who plays better than them. That sometimes they can practice, practice, practice, but it doesn’t always make perfect….but that no matter what they are always on my team, and I on theirs.

I want them to know that they do not need acceptance from others. That in this life they may be called dumb, not good enough, annoying, and weird at times….that those names will hurt them and cause them to question themselves, but that the one who loves them most in this world….that the one that created them in his image thought they were perfect enough to die for. 

I want them to realize that people will hurt and disappoint them in this world. That I will hurt and disappoint them. I want them to not look for or depend on human perfection because there is no such thing, but to instead rely on a God that is.

With that comes the fact that you cannot please everyone. That the choices they make for their life or family may be best for them although others may disagree. That I may disagree. I want them to know that my path and dreams for their life are just that…mine. That I may sometimes unintentionally push my own on to them.  I want them to be confident and strong enough in their selves and in their faith to stand up for what they believe in. To stay focused on God-pleasing instead of people-pleasing.

I want them to guard their hearts. I want them to choose their spouse wisely. To choose quality over quantity. I want them to learn that sometimes the most beautiful of people may not come in the prettiest of packages. That the wrapping paper doesn’t matter as it gets tattered and thrown away…but that what is on the inside of that gift is what we treasure. I want them to choose a man with a caring heart over a muscly bod. A love for God, over a love for money, and a love for them, over lust. 

  I want them to wait for marriage. Not because I want them to miss out on ” normal high school experiences or college life.” Not because I want them to be made fun of or ” teach them to summit to a man”, but because I want them to know that their worth is not defined by their bodies. That they themselves are enough.  That sex is not something you give away to win someone over, but is a gift you give to the one who has won you. I want them to know that sex before marriage can lead to pain and comparison to other partners. That you can not get that first time back. That I am not just “preaching” it, but that I have lived it. 

 I want them to know that marriage is not the fairy tale that they watch continually in their Disney movies. That it is like a roller coaster full of excitement, fear, and butterflies. That sometimes there will be hills so steep that you just make it to the top. I want them to know that their spouse will drive them crazy. That they will argue, make up, and argue again. That there will be times in their lives where they may love them, but not like them. That there will be moments that they question if their partner is really the one…if it is worth it. That like anything their ride will sometimes need repairs…to try and fix it, but that if they choose to get off I will be there to help them put their feet back on solid ground. 

I want them to know that in this life they will fail….but that failing leads to determination to try again. Sometimes with a better outcome then they would have had before. That they will experience pain. Pain they cause themselves, and pain that they don’t deserve.That things will happen that will shake them to their inner core and will be beyond all understanding, but that through pain comes knowledge, growth, and strength that they would never have had otherwise. 

I want to share with them my mistakes and my own failures. Not because I want to “give them ideas”, but because I am not embarrassed by them. That they are mistakes and they do not define who I am, and will not define who they are. That they have a chance to make better choices. I want them to know that I have messed up….that I am not perfect and I do not expect them to be. 

 I want them to know how much they are loved and cherished. That the moment their tiny slippery bodies were placed on my chest that was it. That in that moment I became theirs. That I am their biggest advocate for their needs. That I would do anything to protect them from this world but I cannot. That all I can do is be there to help them up, to comfort them, and to guide them until I am no longer here to do so. That no matter how old they get I will forever brush their hair out of their face, and hold them tightly. I want them to know that this parenting thing is hard. That I am trying my very best, and sometimes I may unintentionally make the wrong decisions in their lives. That I will sometimes not know the answers or not have the ones they want to hear. 

 Most importantly I want them to know a God that does have the answers. I want them to know him not because they feel pressured to, but because they desire to. I want them to learn to pray when they need guidance, to lean in to him when they are pain, and to praise him not only through the good……but through the storms. I want them to experience a love far greater than my own. A love that they could never imagine. A love that will remain present and constant in their lives long after I am gone.

   

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