What I Want Them To Know.

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     As a very young girl my struggle with self-esteem began. My parents separated when I was very young and at times my sister and I were but mere pawns in a game of “who could hurt who more” between them.  It wasn’t long after that I was shifted back and forth between the foster care system and my home before being permanently placed.

   My understanding of love was warped. I didn’t know exactly what it meant to be loved. To be really loved. I wasn’t raised being told that I was good or that I was even worthy of it. Worthy of anything for that matter. In fact most times I was told the total opposite. At the age of thirteen I stood in a brightly lighted office building while my mom spoke the words “take her. I cant do this anymore.” 

   That summer I was placed for good and that fall I started grade eight. I struggled with forming relationships, I struggled with trust. I wanted so desperately to feel like I was a part of the crowd. To be worthy of being the same as everyone else, but as we all know Middle and High School can be some of the most cruelest of places to be.

   I lived in a Foster Home, my bottom was not covered by jeans with the Silver label on the pocket, and my body circumference was a lot larger than I would have liked.  My feet were resting in <insert gasp now> no name Crocs because I couldn’t afford to have the real ones. ( They were all the craze during that time okay?) All that seems like silliness now, but to the fourteen year old broken and “unworthy” me it was just another sign that because of who I was and the circumstances I was in, that I would never be as good as everyone else. 

   At 16 my bigger than I would like body circumference became even larger as I now walked the hallways of my school not just “croc-less” but pregnant. 

   At the young age of seventeen I birthed a tiny eight pound, ten fingered, chubby cheeked miracle and I was absolutely terrified. I will never forget the days, and months, and even years that followed, where my own feelings of “unworthiness” took away from allowing my self to see Gods greatness for the very thing that it was.

   See I sat in the very church seats I still sit in each Sunday today and asked God why in the world he would give her to me. A child myself unable to love her the way she needed.  That she deserved more than a high school student Mom, and an Sobeys working Dad. That more than anything I didn’t want her to become me. 

Then I truly met God.

Not in one particular big bang of a moment.

But in the ordinary moments when he chooses to reveal extraordinary blessings.

A God who began to ask me just why I was unworthy of love, of happiness, and of being someone other than a statistic I had labelled myself of.

 My eight pound, ten fingered, chubby cheeked miracle is now almost twelve years old. She is a year and half away from the very age I stood in the lighted office building and allowed my mothers issues and illnesses to define my own worth. Its been an age I’ve wondered that if I was gone tomorrow,  that if the love my own daughter knows from me was suddenly stripped away…. Would she continue to know the most important love of all?

That although my entire identity as a mother has been to express my love and my children’s worthiness to me… have I done enough to allow them out of my mother knows best bubble  to see His?

I continued on to have three other precious girls after her.

My biggest and greatest prayer for them is not that I get everything right but that I am able to prepare them for when I disappoint them, that I am able to continue to raise them up and lead them to the very One who won’t. 

I want them to not only know they are loved by her father and I, but by a God so much bigger than anything they could imagine. 

I want them to know that their worth is far greater than a label on a clothing or a wink from a prepubescent teenage boy.

I want them to know that they live in a world where they will be judged by the way they look, by the partners they choose, by the people they help, by the people they don’t, by the way the speak, by the way they live, by their parenting, by the cleanliness of their homes, by their newest car, by whether they have the highest paying job. 

I want them to know there will be times when society will tell them they should when they shouldn’t and not to when they should. 

I want them to know they will mess up sometimes. Most likely over and over again.

I want them to not strive to be anyone but their amazingly beautiful sometimes-messy selves.

Because the truth is whether sixteen or twenty eight we are all a hot mess loved by an amazing  self-less God. 

….and so will they be too.

Because of that God….. in the here and now, and long after I am gone they will be forever be loved.

They will never be alone.

They will be given opportunities to rise up above struggles.

They will be welcomed back with opened arms when they are led a stray.

I want them to know that above all, that although this world is extremely warped…. Gods love for them isn’t anything but crystal clear.

Because it is Him that shows us extraordinary worthiness in our seemingly ordinary lives.

and I want ever so desperately for them to know just that.

 

 

 

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What I Wish I Could Tell Them…………

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I’ll never forget the moments when I found out that my children had died. In an instant the only world I had ever known was completely shattered. It immediately became dark…..as if I had been thrown ever so deeply in a hole that I couldn’t see a way out. My heart stopped beating….or at least it felt like it. It somehow kept going enough to keep my body alive, but everything else had disappeared with the words “we couldn’t save her.”

Over the past couple of weeks I have watched gracefully broken and incredibly brave Moms say goodbye to the most treasured pieces of themselves.

Three and a half years have gone by since my loss…. three and a half heart-breakingly, breath-takingly, painful and beautiful all at the same time years have passed since the moment I sat in their very shoes.

And I wish I could tell them…..

I wish I could tell them that the minute the news of their precious babies deaths hit my ears, that as a Mama who has been there… I immediately felt their pain, their desperateness, and the newly formed holes in their hearts. That I thought of them constantly, prayed for them greatly, and felt the need to want to protect “one of our own”  from the heartaches ahead.

I wish I could tell them that they are so incredibly loved.  Not only by so many that they do not even know,  but also by a God who does.

I wish I could tell them that God, the very one I doubted to exist…the one that I screamed at and questioned over and over again, the God that chose to not breathe life back into my baby girl… revealed Himself in my pain in ways I could never have imagined.

I wish I could tell them that clinging to the very God and the hope that comes with him was the only thing that gave me strength even when friends and family didn’t understand.

I wish I could tell them that they’ve showed incredible strength. That although they feel numb, weak, and barely alive….that I have watched them in awe as they have battled on through.

I wish I could tell them that this immense pain that they are feeling, the pain that consumes every inch of their entire being will fade, not today, and certainly not tomorrow but as the moments , days, and “firsts without” go by…. the rawness of it all will soften and that waking up each day will get easier.

I wish I could tell them that the guilt can consume every single inch of you if you let it. That no matter the loss, or no matter the cause, we as mothers have the incredible urge to blame ourselves. That the most freeing thing I had ever been told was that it wasn’t my fault. That it isn’t their fault, but that horrible awful and incomprehensible things happen to good people.

I wish I could tell them that they’ll one day receive the answer. The answer to the question we all want to know. The whys…the why me. Except they won’t. That as infuriating, and frustrating, and painful that it is…… healing won’t come from the answer anyways.

I wish I could tell them that their precious children will never be forgotten. That although one of the biggest fears for us Mamas is that as time passes and our childrens names get spoken less and less, that not a day goes by that they wont think of them and whisper their sweet names from their lips.

I wish I could tell them that it is true. That a piece of their heart will forever be missing. That they’ll miss their precious children terribly, that they will at times desperately want nothing more but a chance to have a moment with them …but that each moment they keep going is one moment closer to seeing them again.

I wish I could tell them that their grieving hearts does not come with an expiry date. That they will be told that they should be beginning to heal, that as others lives begin to return to “normal” so should their own. That they will question and be questioned on the soul crushing grief that seems to be never ending. That their grief has no limits….because neither did their love.

I wish I could tell them that life does go on. That its the hardest part. That people vanish, that activities resume. That although this world has not stopped spinning, I know theirs did and has completely changed its orbit. That their lives will never be the same but eventually they will be able to start again.

I wish I could tell them that they will laugh again someday. Not the one they will force out of themselves to mask the silence in the days and weeks to come, but a real laugh that reminds them that joy does still exist in this unfathomable world.

Most importantly, I wish I could tell them that there is HOPE. That although there is absolutely no way that they are able to comprehend or even imagine that there is anything outside of this pain in this very moment….. that this Mama…the one who sat in the very same seats at the front of the very same church and said goodbye to my own little girl, the one who doubted the same God, the one who couldn’t see it myself…. has experienced a hope, a joy, and a healing that I never thought would be possible again in this lifetime.

I wish I could tell them that its the beginning of a life long, some times painful, other times beautiful, life altering journey that only they will be able to understand as the days, months, and years go by.

In their own grief.

Immersed in love.

Surround by Hope.

In His time.

A time when their heart begins to truly beat life again, when there is but a glimmer of light in the seemingly forever darkness, and when their hopelessness is restored to hope-filled once again. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

To The Mama Who Can’t See It….

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To the Mama anxiously awaiting bedtime.

To the Mama walking over graham cracker crumbs on her newly washed floors.

To the Mama whose after-the-supper-dishes fill her just empty sink.

To the Mama who just yelled when she could talk graciously no more.

To the Mama whose seemingly never empty laundry basket is overflowing.

To the Mama who hands, mouth and mind is tierd.

To the Mama who will stay up when everyone is asleep to get a head start on tomorrow.

To the Mama who will wake up and do it all over again.

To the Mama who wonders if this is how it will always be or if they are even making a diffence anyways.

…..it wont.

…..and you are.

You are not alone.

There’s so many of us here with you.

Someday these messy faced, sleep resisting, repeatative why questioners will be grown. Someday Your house will stay clean, your laundry will be your own, and your sleep will be restored.

Someday this time will be no longer.

Until then we embrace the messiness of it all.  We find the joy in the sometimes not so joyous moments. We take in the beauty in the fingerprints on our windows and muddy footprints on the floor. We answer their whys over and over again as their face lights up with excitement each time……. and we mess up over and over again in the process.

Because we are their Mamas…

Beautiful, coffee drinking, question answering, sleep deprived beings who was created by God to do just so.

You’re making a difference you know..

….in their life.

And in the future you will look back at this not so distant past and remember not only the hard work but these messy moments in this beautiful time.

Those messy moments that helped shape the amazing mother you are.

You are enough.

You’ll see.

Love,

A waist -deep- in- the-mess  Mama, whose right where you are.

 

……Because it all Leads Back To Hope.

” I will praise the one whos chosen me to carry YOU.” ~Selah

 

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Dear Sweet Mama,

      It’s almost Christmas and I can feel your heart tugging in a million different directions. I can feel it because mine to, is doing the same.

     December has a way of bringing out the hustle and bustle, the financial struggles, and the family stresses….and with it comes the emotions of it all. You feel them a little stronger and harder as family is placed at the forefront and it reminds you over and over again of the  someone who’s missing.

      Every year I prepare for the emotions…the reminders….the memories. As I dig out the Santa bags with children’s names whom will never be filled. As I hang stockings for five when there should be seven, and the Christmas pictures that will never be complete.

      I feel your confusion as you wonder how to sign that Christmas card or gift tag. I know your desire to write your precious child’s name down with the rest of your family’s, but your weariness of making someone else feel uncomfortable.

      I know because no matter the time. Whether your first Christmas or your twenty-fifth, that child will never be forgotten. I know because a piece of your heart is eternally missing where they implanted themselves the moment you laid eyes on them or found out they were coming.

   Last night I was wrapping presents with tear filled eyes. I was stressing about cookies that still needed to be decorated, the strained relationships that I did not have the ability to fix, and the list that seemed to be getting bigger instead of smaller.

   I was hurting, I was missing my “what should have beens” and longing for my “what could have beens.” As the emotions began to build I felt myself getting angrier and the feelings of hopelessness set in when in what seemed like an instant I was reminded of the most simplest, yet most complex point of it all.

Jesus is HOPE.

Christmas is where HOPE began.

…..and that very HOPE remains constant.

   So as we go into the coming week. When we are consumed with the pain, emotions, and memories of our empty arms and broken hearts be reminded of such HOPE.

    Be reminded of a tiny precious baby who was also born to a proud, faithful, loving mother whom held her baby with no clue that he would die years later. A mother whom God loved yet had bigger plans that she could not see. A mother who watched hopelessly as her son took his last breath.

….and most importantly that beautiful baby who was born to die.

A baby who gave us the HOPE of seeing our sweet little ones again.

The same God who chose us to carry our precious children.

So in the business, and the emotions of this week,

Be still. Remember. HOPE.

 

Merry Christmas Mama,

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To The Mama Who Feels Like She’s Failing…….

  ” The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” ~Isaiah 58:11

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      Last night as I was driving in to head to bible study I would like to be able to say that I was feeling good…but truth was that an hour before had been a total nightmare.

     See, My girls were also going to the church for a end of season pajama party for their youth group, but when the time came to get ready to go….what seemed like a quick easy thing turned in to total chaos in the matter of seconds. My toddler was screaming because nothing felt right on her body, my oldest was annoyed that she was going to be late and honestly I cant blame her…I felt the exact same way.

     I threatened to leave her…..you know…the empty threat that your never going to do and I don’t know why we do it because it never works anyways. My quiet calm voice grew louder and louder until everyone was screaming, frustrated, and exhausted from the battle of coats and boots.

    We all made it in the car with not a minute to spare. But that Mama, the one with Casting Crowns blaring in the background. The one heading to bible study. The one with their kids dressed in matching pajamas in the backseat….the one who looked like she had it all together…did not. In fact she felt like a total failure.

How many times have we all felt that exact same way?

How many times have we entered somewhere with a smile on our face and self doubt in our hearts? How many times have we hidden who we are or mistakes we’ve made just so that can measure up to the Mom besides us?

How many times have we handed over the power to judge us to the wrong being?

Truth is, the last couple months , ten years….I’ve been struggling.

      Since the moment that a tiny eight pound, beautiful, slippery body was placed on my chest I immediately entered in to the world of Motherhood. In to a whole new world where self doubt, comparison, and the ability to mess up lingered around every corner.

     A world where the beauty and excitement  of new life was so very evident but the hidden pressures and inadequacy’s surround your every being as each day passed and the realization of just how big, just how important the job…..this whole Mom thing….. was going to be.

     As the world has advanced I’m not so convinced that we have. While we’ve pushed for acceptance of differences those very things have given us even more oppourtunities to fail ourselves. The world has seemed to emphasize our differences, and has even given us labels. Labels where Soccer Mom, Granola Mom, and Helicopter Mom suddenly are something we put in an order of better than….on a scale between the mom we want to be and the mom we don’t. Glorifying some more than others. Oblivious to the fact that not only are we individuals….not only has God made each one of us uniquely, but that every Mom  we have labeled from the moment we laid eyes on them are not just that.

    I have spent seasons yearning to be “that” mom. The mom that has it all together. The mom whos home you visit without cheerios on the floor and last nights super dishes in the sink.

I have spent years missing out on the blessings that was given to me because I was spending so much more time trying to be someone else.

I tried so desperately at times to fill material needs instead of spiritual ones.

I doubted my choices, because they were not yours.

I downplayed by abilities and strengths because they were not the same as others.

I’ve let Facebook hide the truths behind the pictures.

I have kept my eyes focused on becoming “mother-like” and not “God-like.”

I have spent years putting woman on pedestals for doing the exact same thing that all of us are doing…..

….raising our children to the very best of our abilities.

See, we may all parent differently but we all have the same goal.

We all love our children deeply and want what’s best for them.

….and I am learning(Sometimes the hard way) that God’s best and my best may be two different things and that if that is the case then I am going to fail at mine every single time.

    So to the Mama who feels like she’s failing…I’m here with you, fighting the same battle. Sitting hopelessly on the kitchen floor, feeling discouraged as I walk across my living room and cheerios crunch between my toes, and as I walk away from what seems like a fun family event only to have crying children and a doubting heart.

No one says it was going to be easy, but we can stop being so hard on ourselves….on each other.

You are not a failure.

You are a mother.

A beautiful and blessed being of God’s that sometimes needs a reminder that not only are you raising warriors, but that you already have a Warrior leading you through every battle you face.

We got this.

….and hey, when we don’t. He does.

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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.