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January 31, 2011

Home Sweet Home...


We flew home that night very late. I was a little concerned because a huge snow storm had come in and we were nervous of them delaying our plane. We made it on and took off. The plane left on time.

I had a knot in my stomach the whole way home. It's like I knew the inevitable was coming. We were headed back home, back to our house, back to our life. A life that no longer would have Madeline present. A life that was not at all what I thought it would be. The distractions were gone. No more Disney magic. No more vacation. This was it, back to my real life, my new normal. I didn't even know what that was...

As the plane took off, I took a gulp. How would I be able to do this. I didn't want to do this. I didn't want to live a life without my girl. I didn't want to go home and see all her things around the house, completely untouched, never used. It was like I was still in a dream and this whole thing never happened. I just didn't want to face it.

But, I had to.

As we got closer to landing, the ride was bumpy. I remember not even being scared but just thinking to myself, if something were to happen, I'm ready. I'm ready to go see my Lord. I'm ready to hold my girl.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying this because I want to die. I don't. I want to live and love life with my family and enjoy many years to come.

It's just been so fresh on my mind that we DO NOT KNOW when our last breath will be. We DO NOT KNOW if we have a tomorrow.(James 4:14) I never imagined that my precious perfect girl would have left this world just 2 days after entering this world. How could I have? Who would've thought that?

So, what I mean was, if it was the Lord's timing on that plane ride, it just was. I wasn't scared. I know where I am going and I hope that each of you know too. It's a hard thing to understand that we do have "an appointment with death" and to be completely honest I hate that thought. I miss Madeline so very much. I cry for her everyday of my life, but God wanted her and it was her time, as short of a time as she had, it just was. Now I know that and understand.

As we walked off the plane, I was glad. We made it! Through crying babies and little girl screaming "Daddy" the last 10 minutes of the flight, we made it. I've never seen Rick so relieved to step off a plane and I was too. My cheeks were completely stained from crying and Rick was completely overwhelmed with the events leading up to our landing. Finally, almost home.

We gathered our luggage, packed the car and started driving. Rick and his Dad talked of our trip and I sat in the back and watched Noah and Eli fall asleep. They were exhausted from a week of complete joy. I was so thrilled for them.

Once we pulled in at home, Rick carried the boys to their beds and we headed for ours. It was around midnight at this time and we were exhausted. Rick had laid a pile of letters on the bed and we slowly started to read them. Card after card, we cried. At one point I told him maybe doing this before we went to sleep was a bad idea. He reminded me that these cards had not been sent to upset us and make us cry, Rather they were sent to us to let us know how much we were loved. He was right. We are loved. So very loved.

I've never experienced such an outpouring of love like this before. Everyone cared for us, hurt with us and was completely heartbroken too.
We still are receiving letters, every day. I'm so very thankful for that.

So I reached down and picked a card up and began to open it. I couldn't believe what I saw next...

The card had a picture of Maddie Grace looking up at me. It was the one taken right after they placed her in my arms. Her eyes were bright with new life and she was looking right at me.

Oh, I loved that moment. <3 I have taken myself back there so many times.

Madeline's name and birth stats were on the bottom of the card and a little blue bird. I began to read...

"Held only a moment in our arms...But forever in our hearts!"

"Oh it's hard to lose a loved one to the grave,
but we have the blessed hope that Jesus gave.
God's gonna wipe all the tears from our eyes,
when we meet him beyond the skies.
Heaven's sounding sweeter all the time.
Seems like lately it's always on my mind.
Someday I'll leave this world behind,
Heaven's sounding sweeter all the time.

I held the card in my hand and just wept. What a beautiful thought. What a beautiful card. I was so very thankful for Amy sending it, and so thankful that I knew... Rick held me that night and we both cried out to God thanking him that Maddie was home.

She wasn't in our home that we had prepared for her, but instead in her Heavenly home with the Lord... She was home.

Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. Psalm 73:25-26


  1. O Nat, what a beautiful card! My heart hurts with you as I read this. What an amazing verse from Psalms...powerful, beautiful, and so true!

  2. Natalie, I am so glad you liked the card. It was made with much love and tears. I can't even begin to imagine the loss you feel. Heaven IS sounding sweeter all the time!!! <3 you!!!

  3. Thank you Heidi. Love you!

    Amy, the card means the world to me. Love you <3

  4. I love that thought.....Madeline is Home! She's home! She's happy, she's healthy, she's safe, and she's home! I was at the cemetery talking to Belle yesterday, and I told her to give Maddie a hug and a kiss for you. I told her to show Maddie all her favorite spots, and to tell Maddie that I'll make sure her mommy is ok.
    Love you babe!

  5. Natalie, I am touched and so happy that you are letting Christ lead you through this journey..IT IS THE ONLY WAY... My daughter was stillborn at 37 weeks and I know that like your daughter she is home in my saviours arms. My daughter, like yours, could not be in better hands and could not be safer, it is you and I and other moms who go through this that hurt for them but praise God we will see them again...praying for you!

  6. Natalie,
    this past year I finished a long road with my best friend from high school. Walking the trail of Cancer as I watched her 2 year old son fight until he was almost 4 and then fall sound asleep in the arms of Jesus. I miss him so much.
    I miss my friend too. Grief has swept her away and now we don't talk. I talk to her answering maching all the time. wishing I could hug her and tell her it will be okay. The new grief I feel is for her.
    The reason I am saying this is becuase I want you to keep writing. Keep sharing. Keep talking to the savior in the midst of your grief. The grief that hits you like a brick wall.
    Because she stopped. And I am now crying out for God to restore her. I am sitting here weeping becuase I miss her so much. I miss Joshi so much. but when I read your words, I am reminded of how much our Savior loves us. Even when we don't feel loved. Of all the Hope that He has bought with his Blood, even when we feel hopeless. And becuase I see you walking this ugly, broken road, with your feet covered in the gospel of peace, I know that I can keep my eyes on him. I love you sister in Christ.

  7. I was directed to your blog by your friend Heidi's comment on "He Will Carry Me."

    I've read all your beautiful, Christ-honoring posts. My heart goes out to you and your family. I hope this story about The Sparrow at Starbucks gives you some comfort. I don't have a blog but "immichal AT yahoo"


    or..........The song that silenced the cappuccino machine.

    It was chilly in Manhattan but warm inside the Starbucks shop on 51st Street and Broadway, just a skip up from Times Square. Early November weather in New York City holds only the slightest hint of the bitter chill of late December and January, but it's enough to send the masses crowding indoors to vie for available space and warmth. For a musician, it's the most lucrative Starbucks location in the world, I'm told, and consequently, the tips can be substantial if you play your tunes right.

    Apparently, we were striking all the right chords that night, because our basket was almost overflowing. It was a fun, low-pressure gig - I was playing keyboard and singing backup for my friend who also added rhythm with an arsenal of percussion instruments. We mostly did pop songs from the '40s to the '90s with a few original tunes thrown in. During our emotional rendition of the classic, "If You Don't Know Me by Now," I noticed a lady sitting in one of the lounge chairs across from me. She was swaying to the beat and singing along.

    After the tune was over, she approached me. "I apologize for singing along on that song. Did it bother you?" she asked.

    "No," I replied. "We love it when the audience joins in. Would you like to sing up front on the next selection?" To my delight, she accepted my invitation. "You choose," I said. "What are you in the mood to sing?"

    "Well. ... do you know any hymns?" Hymns? This woman didn't know who she was dealing with. I cut my teeth on hymns. Before I was even born, I was going to church. I gave our guest singer a knowing look. "Name one."

    "Oh, I don't know. There are so many good ones. You pick one.."

    "Okay," I replied. "How about 'His Eye is on the Sparrow'?"

    My new friend was silent, her eyes averted. Then she fixed her eyes on mine again and said, "Yeah. Let's do that one." She slowly nodded her head, put down her purse, straightened her jacket and faced the center of the shop. With my two-bar setup, she began to sing,

    "Why should I be discouraged? Why should the shadows come?"

    The audience of coffee drinkers was transfixed. Even the gurgling noises of the cappuccino machine ceased as the employees stopped what they were doing to listen. The song rose to its conclusion.

    (to be continued in a second part due to length.)

  8. "I sing because I'm happy;
    I sing because I'm free.
    For His eye is on the sparrow
    And I know He watches me."

    When the last note was sung, the applause crescendoed to a deafening roar that would have rivaled a sold-out crowd at Carnegie Hall. Embarrassed, the woman tried to shout over the din, "Oh, y'all go back to your coffee! I didn't come in here to do a concert! I just came in here to get a warm drink, just like you!"

    But the ovation continued...I embraced my new friend. "You, my dear, have made my whole year! That was beautiful!"

    "Well, it's funny that you picked that particular hymn," she said.

    "Why is that?"

    "Well . .." she hesitated again, "that was my daughter's favorite song."

    "Really!" I exclaimed.

    "Yes," she said, and then grabbed my hands. By this time, the applause had subsided and it was business as usual. "She was 16. She died of a brain tumor last week."

    I said the first thing that found its way through my stunned silence. "Are you going to be okay?"

    She smiled through tear-filled eyes and squeezed my hands. "I'm gonna be okay. I've just got to keep trusting the Lord and singing his songs, and everything's gonna be just fine." She picked up her bag, gave me her card, and then she was gone.

    Was it just a coincidence that we happened to be singing in that particular coffee shop on that particular November night? Coincidence that this wonderful lady just happened to walk into that particular shop? Coincidence that of all the hymns to choose from, I just happened to pick the very hymn that was the favorite of her daughter, who had died just the week before? I refuse to believe it. God has been arranging encounters in human history since the beginning of time, and it's no stretch for me to imagine that He could reach into a coffee shop in midtown Manhattan and turn an ordinary gig into a revival. It was a great reminder that if we keep trusting Him and singing His songs, everything's gonna be okay.

  9. Michal Ann,
    Thank you so much for sharing this story... WOW!
    You just never know what someone is going through. And what a precious song that she picked. Thank you for your words. And the part about coincidence really got to me. My next post talks a little bit about that. =)