Thursday, March 28, 2013

Death and My Children

Yesterday as I was taking Nate and Zoe to the doctor for a check-up, ahead of us I saw American flags lining the side of the road.  I wondered what they could be for.  As we drew nearer, I saw that it was a funeral home.  I choked back tears and prayed for the family.  I was so proud and impressed that they would honor someone like that.

Nathanael asked what the flags were for.  I explained that it was a funeral for someone probably in the military.  We talked a bit about what that meant.  He then said, "Charlotte didn't have flags."  I chuckled to myself in the moment and told him because Charlotte wasn't in the military.

Later last night I was thinking about the scene from earlier in the day and once again was reminded by the fact that my children and some of them still very young have experienced death.  They know it too well now.  They know what a funeral home is.  I didn't have to explain that part to Nate earlier.  He just knew.  It seems in my opinion too much for a young child to have to know about.

I am reminded about another conversation a few weeks ago with Tristan.  He started asking questions about how funeral processions could run red lights.  It intrigued him how we were able to go right through the red lights as we followed the car carrying Charlotte to the cemetery.  We talked about all the details in that.  At that time, I again was struck by how my children know too much of death...all the details involved.

We have been reinforcing Heaven with our children a lot through all this talk of funeral homes, cemeteries, and death.  We have hope because we have Jesus.  Charlotte is safe with Jesus in Heaven. Even Zoe who is three knows this.  She very often says, "My baby sister dead.  She's in Heaven with Jesus."  Even though I feel my kids have experienced more of death than they should at their young ages, I desire them to know that they have a God who loves them tremendously and that they can have hope in Him.  I am praying that the experience of them losing their sister will draw them closer to Jesus.  I desire that more than what they know about funeral homes, processions or cemeteries, they would know the hope they can have in Jesus Christ, who paid the penalty for their sins and that they can one day spend eternity with Him (and their sister, Charlotte) in Heaven.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Kids Say

Last night as I was putting the girls to bed, we were talking about Charlotte.

Leah said that Charlotte was probably really beautiful and that when God looked at her He was amazed at what He had made.  She then said this was probably why He took her right to Heaven to be with Him...because she was so beautiful.  

I told the girls that Charlotte was beautiful and this was probably true, but we still miss her.

Friday, March 8, 2013

One Month

It's been one month to the day since we lost Charlotte.  I knew all week that Friday would be four weeks, but I didn't know the date.  Steve and I sat down last night to work on this month's budget.  I pulled out the calendar as I usually do.  I said in tears, "its been four weeks." Steve replied, "its been one month."  I glanced at the date on the calendar.  Tomorrow is the eighth.  A shudder went down my spine.  I wasn't prepared to see the number on the calendar.

Sometimes it seems like this past month has flown by and at other times it feels like it has crawled.  Still other times and most of the time, it feels like this whole month has been a dream.  I remember sitting in the doctors office when we couldn't find Charlotte's heartbeat and the world all around me became fuzzy.  The dream began.  As Steve and I cried together, we wondered out loud, "how does this happen?  Why?"  Things like this don't happen to people like us.  We are just normal people, striving to please God and raise our family.  This is the kind of thing that happens to other people, but not to us.  I kept wondering when I would wake up from this dream, no, this nightmare.  Now we were faced with this intense hurt and loss and we had to figure out how to live again.

Over the past month, the hurt has lessened, but it still remains.  It creeps up on me at unusual times and places. It hits me when I see certain friends or when friends ask how I am doing.  I am so grateful for the friends who dare to "enter the danger" to reach out to me, for the ones who ask the hard questions, for the ones who remember Charlotte with me and let me know they miss her too, for the friends who text me and tell me they are still praying for me, for the friends who ask what she looked like and what color her hair was.  In asking all these things, they have no idea how I will respond.  For that matter, I don't know how I will respond either.  They are willing to be there and be open to the fact that they very well may see me fall apart and they still ask.  Without the support that I have had this past month I don't know how I would have gotten through the roughest days.

I am blessed beyond belief.  Who am I that my King would love me so much as to pour out His love and faithfulness into my life the past month?  That He would be so close to me and His presence so evident that I can feel Him carrying me?  Who am I that His body, the church, my brothers and sisters, would love me so much as to "enter the danger" and to meet specific need such as meals, laundry and groceries?


I know that as times goes on and as the hurt still remains my God will continue to be faithful, because that is who He is and He doesn't change.

Thursday, March 7, 2013


I'm struggling today on what mourning looks like for me.  Each and every day is so full of activity, noise, and urgent needs to be met.  I find myself sad today in the fact that I desire to mourn the loss of my baby girl, but cannot find the time or the place.  Quite frankly I just want everyone to leave me alone so I can cry and remember.

I desire to sit in quiet and think about Charlotte.  I want to remember how her dark brown hair looked almost curly.  It has me wondering if she would have had her big sister, Zoe's, curly hair.  I want to remember how it felt to hold her as close to my chest as I possibly could.

I think about how we prepared for her arrival.  How her dad and I went to JoAnn's to pick out fabric to make her a blanket with.  I remember as we checked out the cashier, on seeing my bump and our fabric choices, said, "you must be having a girl."  We were so proud.  We both smiled hugely and answered, "yes!"  I remembered working on her blanket at my sister's house in Michigan over Christmas break.  I'm not the best sewer yet and I became frustrated easily.  I saw the flaws all over the blanket, but I was proud I made it for her.  I remember thinking and possibly even saying, "It's not perfect but she will know her momma loves her."  After Charlotte was born, we wrapped her in that very same blanket as we held her close for those very short hours.  The reality was very real as even her snuggly blanket and my arms couldn't make her warm.  A few days later, I took that same blanket to the funeral home for them to wrap Charlotte in for her burial.  In my head I was thinking, "to keep her warm."  All the while  knowing she isn't in her body.  She is safe in the arms of Jesus, but it was in my motherly instincts to do all I knew how to care for her and protect her.

I wonder every day if the flurry of activity in my house is helping my hurt heal faster or if it is making me push the hurt deep down inside of me.  I want to do this whole mourning thing right.  I desire good to come from it.  I know and trust that God has a plan through all of it.  But tonight, I just want to cry.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Sickness in Large Families

As most of you can guess, having sickness in a large family looks a bit different than it does when you have just a couple of kids.  It tends to last a lot longer and show itself differently depending on the child.  It is a very trying time and the sickness no matter what it is keeps getting passed from person to person.  Some moments and days I cry in discouragement and at other moments I laugh because all of this is so ridiculous.

Right now we have the stomach flu going through the children.  This isn't your normal stomach bug either.  It is long lasting with each of the children and its been making the youngest ones miserable.  You know, lay on the couch moaning, groaning and whining, miserable?  The kind of sickness that makes you cry because you can't take away their pain and discomfort.  Today we are on day ten of this flu.  As of this morning, five of the kids have had some sort of it.  It is hitting the youngest ones the hardest.  Nate has had it since Saturday and he is still moaning and groaning.

All I can do to survive this is every morning as I wake up I cry out to God, "Help me today!"  I remind myself many times throughout the day that "His Grace is sufficient for me...His power is made perfect in my weakness."  Man, am I weak right now.  That is perfect because that is when He steps in to work, if I let Him.

Two scriptures I have been leaning on today are:

"Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because he always lives to intercede for them." Hebrews 7:25
"Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.  Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart."  Psalm 37:3&4
Today the desires of my heart are wellness for my family and protection for me and Steve so we don't get it.  I am so thankful to have Jesus interceding for me.  I get so exhausted I don't even know what to pray or how to pray.  I looked back in my blog archives from a couple of years ago and found two other posts on sickness in large families if you are interested.  Go here and here.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Fear Creeps In

I actually should title this "When Satan Tries To Creep In."  My life is a spiritual battlefield.  I have grown so close to the Lord in the past few weeks as He has carried me through losing Charlotte.  I have spent more time in the Word and have been praying continually throughout the day.  Recently, I have known Jesus as my protector, my shield, my refuge, my strength, my comfort and my peace.  Today I was reminded that as I grow more and more in love with my Jesus, Satan wants to destroy that.  He wants to distract me.  He wants me to fear.  He wants me to question my trust in God.  Knowing from past experiences he knows just how to trick me and that is fear.
"Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." 1 Peter 5:8
As I mentioned in the last post, Zoe is sick with a stomach bug.  When I finally got in the shower today,  Satan began his attack.  I began to worry.  You know the "what ifs"?  What if...she gets sicker?, ...I lose her too?  This is when I quickly realized the attack.  Often in the past I would have kept on going right along as the fears and worry consumed me.  Praise the Lord!  He is good!  This time I recognized it early and began to fight back.

This came instantly to mind.  When Jesus was tempted in the desert by Satan, the weapon He used against Satan schemes was the Word of God, the Bible.  Jesus replied to Satan three different times, "It is written..."  If Jesus used the Word against Satan then I would too.  I began telling myself some of the promises that He has given me through His Word.  Promises that have been meaningful to me lately.  

"For I know the plans I have for you", declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."  Jeremiah 29:11
So do not fear, for I am with you.  Do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10  
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.  Proverbs 3:5&6 
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust."  Psalm 91:1 
I am so thankful for God's Word.  I am thankful that through it He gives me everything I need.  I am thankful that the Word is living and active (Hebrews 4:12).  I am thankful that the Word is true (Psalm 33:4).  I am thankful that the Word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path (Psalm 119:105).

Since I began this blog a few days ago, another one of my kids has gotten the stomach bug too, my dish washer has broken, I had to go into the ER to have an ultrasound for a possible blood clot in my leg (thankfully, it wasn't a clot).  Everyday is a battlefield.  Satan is working hard at destroying me and making me doubt my God, but He will not steal my joy or my worship of My Creator, My King!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Back to Reality

I know I've stated in other blogs that I am trying to figure out how to live this new life we are now living since losing Charlotte.  Our lives will never be the same as they were before and nor do I want them to be.  Each day I have the choice on how I will live the day and if I choose to bring honor to God in my choices.

Well, this week reality hit.   I am still a mom to seven living children.  And my life with those kids moves on.  Zoe is sick.  She has the nasty intestinal flu, as the nurse put it.  Today, we are on day three.  This mommy is tired.  I do admit that I LOVE the snuggles that come with my little girl being sick.  I am hugging her extra close this time.  Remember how I stated I have a choice in my actions?  I am cherishing time with my youngest, praying with and for her and trying to not be consumed with the other things that "need" to get done around the house.  I could easily, and I have to fight it with the Lord as my strength, get discouraged with the whining, vomiting, lack of sleeping, and the other yucky things that come with the flu.  But over all of that I want my little Zoe to know that her mommy loves her and that her mommy is willing to spend the day just sitting and holding her.  What a perfect example of how I've seen my Jesus holding me these last few weeks.  He just keeps loving me and carrying me, even in my yuckiest.  He never grows weary of loving me.

I am once again reminded how blessed we are right now.  We have so much help and support from friends and family.  We are still getting meals from our church body.  Because others have been bringing us our dinner, I have had more time to sit and hold my sick little girl.   We are also blessed with a neighbor/friend from church who is continuing to come get our laundry, take it home with her to wash, dry and fold it.  If I had to do my own regular laundry right now, the laundry would be getting piled up with the "sick" laundry that needs to get washed.

Today, I am still in awe of my great God.  He knew Zoe would be sick this week and he knew what I would need to get through it.  He has poured out His grace so graciously on me lately.  I am so grateful for His hand and the way He works and cares about everything in my life.  Lord, continue to help me to trust you and heal my little girl.