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February 28, 2011

Listening and praying...

1/20/11

One thing I've noticed is that I often write of songs and sermons. I find myself always listening and waiting for God to speak to me, and He does through both of these things.

I use these words to fill empty time with the prevention of letting my thoughts wander back to our dark day of loss. So often, after a huge trauma, I think that it is easy to let emotions overtake you. I know I have struggled with this. I have fought off panic attacks and I have found myself weeping uncontrollably, but yet I have to stop and say, Your still God and You know.

When the pain is too much to take, God can help me.

Yet I know, that when I start to feel this way, I need to do something to keep my mind busy.

For a while I was searching for something to do just that. That is when I decided to start this blog to fill my time. I notice that it has helped me so much to read more, write more, and listen more.

I spend much of my time in Church and reading my Bible and I'm thankful for the comforting words that God provides me with day after day. They are such a comfort to me and they help me to stay strong and face the day.

After you lose a child, it's very challenging to go through days in the normal way you used to. I struggle with many difficult visions and memories that break my heart. Sometimes, these things are hard to shake after what I've been through in losing Maddie. I'm constantly praying that God can take the bad memories, and leave the good. And everyday, He does.

There are many times throughout the day, that something I encounter will trigger a memory. When this happens is when I really struggle, and I have to find something to keep my mind busy.

So on this day, as I was struggling, God really spoke to me.

Again... =)

Rick had preached the week prior on Job and he continued on with the sermon on this night.

I didn't mention it last week, but there was something that happened with Job, right before God blessed him back double of what he had before.

For we know that Job never did challenge God. He was a good and faithful servant. Although, Job did have to get himself to a certain place in his life. Once he did this, it was then when God blessed him.

So, what was it that Job did to get there?

Well, He prayed.

And he didn't just pray for whatever.... He prayed specifically for something...

He prayed for his friends!

Job 42:10 And the Lord turned the capitivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends, also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.

Job had to get the the place where He was in prayer. Not only did he just pray, he prayed for something, someone in specific. He prayed for his friends.

I know I find myself in prayer somedays just rambling on about this or about that. I know God knows my heart, but I have learned to be better about my prayers. I need to be going to the Lord with certain things in mind, and completly pray for those things knowing God will hear them, and if it's His will, answer them.

Job did just that, he went to prayer on behalf of his friends.

Wow, I'm learning so much from this man.

How to deal with trials and temptations.
How to overcome terrible heartache and loss.
How to continue to walk with God in the midst of grief and despair.

And now, How to pray.

So as my days turn into nights and I'm still struggling, what do I do?

I pray.

I pray for my friends.

What a simple lesson is being learned here at the end of the book of Job. I am so very thankful for the power of prayer. I'm thankful for a Father who is willing to listen to my prayers.

I'm thankful for when my nights seem long and hard, I can keep my mind occupied in the fervency of prayer for my sweet friends. There are many, and I will continue to pray for them the rest of my life.

For I KNOW, that it is the power of prayer that is getting me through. And can I just say to those of you have have been praying for me,

Thank you!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart. For I know it is you who are lifting my name up to our Heavenly father and He is carrying me through.Night after night, Rick and I go to the Lord in prayer. Some nights, we even fall asleep praying for our sweet friends. It helps us to know that we are going to God on our friends behalf, and it helps us to keep our minds busy as we slip off into sleep. What a blessing.

I want blessings on my life, like Job. I want to be counted faithful to the Lord like Job. I want to be a witness of true character and strength like Job, and I'm asking God to help me with this daily.

I'm so thankful that when I feel at my lowest point, God can lift me up as I lift up others.

Oh the power of prayer for our friends. May I continue to keep my mind busy and contained through a faithful prayer life in this very thing.

Luke 11:1 ...Lord, teach us to pray...

February 25, 2011

The butterfly story...

2/19/11

I received this sweet message from my friend Andrea, and I wanted to share it with all of you as my post today.... =)

"It's saturday morning on the 19th of Feb. and I just wanted to let you know I prayed for you and your family today. You are in our prayers often, and are very loved. I have a poem that I love because it reminds me that some of our most painful struggles, are God's way of making us beautiful. You and Rick are a real example of this your lives are so much more beautiful because of Maddie." Andrea


Butterfly Story
A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours, as it struggled to force it's body through that little hole.

Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could, and it could go no farther.

So the man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had swollen body and small shriveled wings.

The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time.

Neither happened!

In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.

What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny oppening, were God's way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into the wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved it's freedom from the cocoon.

My sweet friend, Andrea said, "Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If God allowed us to go through our life without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be strong as what we could have been. And we would never fly."


Isn't that amazing? It pretty much sums up exactly how I've been feeling.

God has such a plan for our lives, all the way down to the little butterfly.

I know so often I want to rush things and hurry things along. I want things to be a certain way, and by a certain time. The fact of the matter is, everything takes time, and if we WAIT on Him, God's timing will be perfect. =)

For this little butterfly would now have to go through life and not really be able to live it as fully as God intended, but it did still go on living.

We don't know why certain "trials" come into our lives. I like to come up with reasons why and learn lessons from them, but only God knows for sure. He knows the end of the story.

So, we can take the challenges that God puts before us and get through them in His time.

Or, we like the impatient man, can rush through to what we think "should be" robbing ourselves of extra blessings down the line.

My heart still hurts everyday for my sweet girl, and I would be lying if I told you I was back to 100%.

I'm not. Not even close.

I miss her so, all day, everyday. Even last night I found myself really struggling, missing Maddie, and aching to hold her.

I've accepted that this is now a part of my life, and I'm just "waiting" on the Lord to show me what's next.

So, as you walk through trials and temptations, just know like that little butterfly, something more beautiful will come if we allow God to use us.

God wants our lives to be full of beauty and grace. He wants us to enjoy life.

I'm learning that God is making my life more beautiful because of how I'm walking through this journey with Him. I'm so thankful for that.

Just know that in His time, if you wait on Him, God will help you to be able to spread your wings and fly. And you too, can add such beauty to this world just like the beautiful butterflies. =)


Romans 10:15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

February 24, 2011

My Maddie Grace and her crowns...

2/16/11

I woke up today to a phone call. "Babe, I accidentally took your keys with me to work today."

Ugh... Not a good start to the day. Considering that my spare set was also with my Hubby at work. I had no groceries in the fridge, and I just can't stand the thought of feeling stranded...

Yet, Rick encouraged me to still have a good day, and he worked out rides for Noah to go to school, and for me to take Eli to speech.

I spent the morning "grumpy." I just hated when my morning's started off bad. Maybe I was more mad I couldn't go get my Sugar free vanilla iced coffee from McDonald's, that I was totally craving. Either way, it didn't matter.

11:00 rolled around and we were off to speech. My sweet friend Angel came to pick Eli and I up to drive us. We jumped in her truck and we went.

Since Angel was with me, I sent Eli back to therapy alone with just the teacher. (praying he would behave for her :)

I had a moment to sit there and breathe. Considering past "speech" experiences with everything that had happened, I was actually grateful to have a friend sitting there with me.

We started talking and you won't guess what happened next...

She started talking about my sweet Maddie Grace. She told me how much Maddie had changed her life and what she meant to her.

What a relief! Someone wanted to talk to me about my Madeline. I know I find it often here, but in other settings not many people bring her up. In other places not behind a computer, but in the real world, it's a soft subject.

I listened.

She said. "I know your heart is broken and I know you are missing her so much. I just want you to know that as time goes on, it will get a little easier. Over time, your heart won't feel quite so heavy. You'll be able to breathe a little better. Some days I still wake up with such a heavy heart, but the truth is, losing my Mom has changed me, and I don't want to forget that. So I'm okay with waking up with a hurting heart, because it reminds me of my Mom and why I hurt."

She went on to tell me about her sweet Mother, and the namesake for her precious daughter, Beverly(who is one of my SS girls). She talked about what a wonderful Christian woman her Mother was, and how much she and everyone else adored her. For her mom had passed away while she was expecting her daughter, and her other daughter was still very small. She told me that she never imagined to have lost her Mom at such a young age, but, God had shared some precious things with her.

She went on to share them with me.

She said "My mom passed away on January the 11th."

Stunned I listened,

"The day of Maddie's funeral I had a hard time, but I convinced myself I was going to do this for my Mom and for Maddie."

I couldn't believe that it was 1/11. Maddie Grace's original due date, and the day of her funeral. I would've never known that was her Mom's day too. I continued to listen.

She said "My Mom passed away at the age of 52. I couldn't understand why she had to go so young, and I knew that she could have done so much more with her life. I remembered in God's word where it talks of a life being 70 years. I wrestled thinking, yes, 70 years is a long life. My mom was gone in 52, and she could've done so much more in a longer lifetime... It was then that God showed me, "Angel, she accomplished what she needed too in 52 years, so be glad that she fulfilled her purpose quickly, for she got done early."

She then told me that even though she missed her Mom and would've loved to have had her longer, she got done early. She had fulfilled God's purpose in her life, and it was her time to go home.

Then she went on to tell me this....

"And Natalie... Maddie fulfilled her life's purpose in 2 days."

(Chills)

"She accomplished a lifetime of work in just 2 short days, and YOU should be so proud of her for that." =)

Wow!

I sat there in awe as she continued to talk, thanking God she was there with me. Thanking God that Rick "accidentally" took my keys to work with him that day.

She went on...

"And I can't help but tell you something else. Your precious daughter already has crowns to throw at Jesus' feet."

I sat there puzzled...

"For at Maddie's funeral, 2 souls were saved. And because of just those 2 souls, your Maddie already has soulwinning crowns in Heaven, and one day she will cast those at the feet of Jesus."

(More chills)

By this point I was really crying. What a thought!

My sweet little princess has already done a great work for the Lord. For she has crowns to show for her little life, and one day she WILL throw those crowns at the feet of Jesus.

How precious is that? How good is God?

So precious. So good.

She went on to encourage me and tell me things that helped her get through hard nights and long days, following such heartache and loss.

Then she shared one more thing...

Angel told me that as she was helping to prepare the reception of Maddie's funeral, God laid the song on her heart, "His eye is on the sparrow."


She placed this little bird on my reception table, along with this sweet card.


Angel and her sweet husband also bought this beautiful framed hymn for us, and had it placed at the funeral among the flowers. On the back of the frame she typed the sweetest note. At the bottom of the note read the words, "Though we may never understand God's plan, I pray you find comfort in knowing, God is watching over you."



She had NO idea that God had given me "bird" signs all throughout my pregnancy.

Coincidence, again?!?

Isn't it neat how God works and speaks to the heart of our friends as well. =)

"His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me!"

I was clinging onto her words, so thankful for the things God had given her to share with me that day.

In that moment, I felt so blessed. I was blessed by my daughter, and blessed with this sweet friend. I felt so encouraged by how Angel was helping me in that moment, on that day.

It made me want to do the same for so many others.

Ultimately, that is why I'm writing this blog. I'm writing for my heart to heal, yes... But, also to share my experiences and the advice I've been given, to help so many others.

Oh may this not fall on deaf ears. May people see that sometimes sharing an experience from a loss or heartache, can be such an encouragement to someone else who is going through a trial.

You never know who you can touch if you are just willing to reach out.

I praise the Lord for my friend "Angel" that day. =) God knew I needed her friendship and her words.

May God use MY words in a great way as well. For we all are hurting, for different reasons. If we could come together and encourage each other, wouldn't this world be so much easier to live in?

I think so. =)

Much love and grace for you and your broken heart.

~Natalie Ross
2/16/11

February 23, 2011

The follow up...

2/15/11

I woke up this morning with a lump in my throat. Today was a day I have been dreading for a while, because today was my postpartum appointment. It has only been 5 weeks, but this was the day I was scheduled to go in.

I was a mess.

All morning long I kept thinking about walking into that office without my baby. What would I say? How would I react? How would everyone else react to me?

I didn't want to go. I wanted to crawl back in bed and pretend like none of this was happening, and this day didn't exist.

I remembered the other times I had this appointment after I had the boys. I brought them with me and showed them off. They were showered with so much attention and love. For there is nothing sweeter than a brand new baby. I couldn't help but want to have that same experience this time around.

Unfortunately, I couldn't.

I dropped the boys off to Annette and headed over to meet Rick. Thank goodness he was coming with me, there was no way I could've gone alone.

As I pulled into the hospital, I was already crying.

I was flooded with so many emotions and memories...

I remembered walking (no wadling) in the day I was admitted, with my pink suitcase and Maddie's tutu in my hand. Rick and I were excited about what was to come.

My eyes wandered up to the floor where we were when our little girl came into our lives. So many sweet memories, including my "perfect" day I spent with her as visitors came to see us on January the 7th.

Then I thought of the night we were dismissed, and we loaded Madeline's carseat into the van and we headed home with our girl. I had no idea that night what was in store for our lives. I was just happy to be going home with my new baby girl.

What memories...

I loved this hospital, it reminded me of Maddie. Now I had to enter it without her and this was very hard for me to do.

I pulled to a stop, and before I got out of the van, Rick was already walking towards me. I could tell he was dreading this visit too.

He took my hand and led me toward the entrance. My eyes caught the statue of the little girl holding the bird up to the sky. (sigh) A statue that meant so much to me and gave me such comfort before, visit after visit.

Now, I looked at it completly different. Yes my little birdie was okay and this still brought me peace, but she just wasn't with me and this made me so sad.

We went in the doors and made our way over to the office. The moment I walked through the door my eyes filled with tears. I could barely see the sign in sheet to write my name. Ugh.

Rick told the receptionist we were going to wait in the hallway until it was time. I love that man, he always knows what's best for me.

I walked out and gasped for breath as he caught me. I told him I couldn't do it. I couldn't go in there, it was too fresh, to much.

Before I even got it out, the nurse was coming out to get us.

That was the longest walk down the hallway, and I felt like everyone was looking right at me. The nurse caught eyes with me and I started fighting back more tears. I could tell in her eyes she knew. I was a little sad that I didn't get my favorite nurse that day, and I was wondering if she was there or not.

I would always get so excited when I would walk in and see her, but I just figured she was off that day.

The other nurse led us into the room and checked my weight and blood pressure. I have to say, it makes seeing your weight a little easier when you
actually have the baby in your presence. I just have the baby weight and it's a bummer. After she left the room, I looked over at Rick. I didn't have to say a word, it was written all over my face and it was also on his.

I was a mess and he could tell.

Month after month, I came here. Smiling and anticipating, I came to check on my sweet baby. It was here that I heard her heartbeat. It was here that I heard "it's a girl." I hated being there and I was missing her.

Just then, there was a knock at the door. It opened and in walked (my) nurse. She was there that day! This sweet nurse had been there and walked through my entire pregnancy with me, along with my previous misscariage. She always made me smile and encouraged me that my weight gain was "ok", and the baby looked and sounded great. We had many conversations about our boys and being Mom's. I just adore her, she's the best.

She wrapped her arms around me and just held me. We both sobbed and she told me how sorry she was. She didn't even have to tell me, I could feel it and it meant the world to me. She told me about the day my Doctor told her the news and how she couldn't believe it. I still couldn't either. I thanked her for her card and for thinking of me. It was so sad that Maddie's loss had reached even her. She was loved by so many.

She knew how excited I was about my "girl" and I could tell she was heartbroken for me. It meant the world that she went so out of the way to show me she cared. What an amazing lady, and I have had the priveledge to have her as my nurse. It's people like her that don't just do their job, but go above and beyond to make people feel good. She did that day.

After that my sweet Doctor came in.

If you are around me often, you know how much I adore my Doctor and talk of him. We have been through a lot together. He was there through Elijah's pregnancy and delivery. He was there through my miscarriage and he had done my D&C. He performed my Laprascopy procedure, and of course, he delivered Madeline.

You know you have an amazing Doctor when you look forward to going to see them. Even though the circumstances were so sad this time, I felt a relief knowing that I could see him and talk with him.

He asked how Rick and I were doing and went on to comfort us in so many ways.

He talked about Madeline's delivery and how beautiful she was. He told me how all the nurses loved having me as a patient, and how they said I was sweet. He told Rick that everyone around there "loved" me and I brightened everyone's days with my smile. =) He mentioned he didn't like seeing me sad now. He said I'm his happiest patient!(I totally believe this too, because I love being pregnant!) He reminded Rick and I to stick together and stay close through this hard time. We mentioned to him our faith and that God was helping us through this, and he told us he was proud of us. It was precious.

He went on and encouraged us to heal however we feel is best. If we wanted to have another or more babies, we could. He told me that I do beautifully in pregnancy and delivery. =) This encouraged me.

He asked if there was anything he could do to help us and I told him that he already had done so much. Rick gave him a picture of Madeline to keep as a reminder of our sweet girl. He was so sweet and understanding of everything we said. I actually found myself smiling after talking to him.

I walked away from that appointment very encouraged.

A day that I had been dreading, turned out to be a blessing. It was like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders and it was such a relief. Rick and I left the hospital feeling so much better. I was so glad that God gave me such a good appointment, and I was thanking Him for such an amazing nurse and Doctor.

I don't think they will ever know how much they encouraged me that day.

As we walked to the parking lot, Rick held my hand and told me he was taking the rest of the day off. He wanted to take me to lunch. I just love him!

On our way to Cracker Barrel, I heard a song come on the radio and these were the words...

Love ~ will ~ hold us together
Make us a shelter
to weather the storm

And I'll, be, my brothers keeper
So the whole world will know
That we're not alone

This is the first, day of the rest of your life
This is the first, day of the rest of your life
'Cause even in the dark you can still see the light
It's gonna be alright, its'gonna be alright

Love, will, hold us together
Make us a shelter
to weather the storm

How fitting?
It was like love was holding us together, and it was the beginning of the first day of the rest of our lives. We made it. We've completed all of the difficult tasks that I have been dreading. We made it through the funeral, the first month mark, the first holiday and now our appointment. Of course there will be many other difficult tasks in grieving our baby girl, but we have made it so far.

Rick and I decided that day, we were ready for whatever road God was going to take us down next. He has lead us along so far, and we have trusted in Him through it all. I'm so thankful for God's love, and I'm so thankful for Rick's love. I'm one lucky girl. =)

We sat down at the table and just talked and shared our hearts with each other while we ate. We were wondering what God had in store for us. We were wondering how many more lives Maddie would touch with this ministry she has given us. We were smiling and we were excited. Finally, we felt like we were seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Yes, we still miss our girl, but it was like finally we knew we were going to be okay. Yes, we will still have breakdowns and "hard" days, but God will help us through.

I know I've said this time and time again, but I have to go to God everyday for strength and grace to get through. And guess what? Day after day he helps me and I'm so thankful for that.

I'm so thankful for such an amazing God! I'm thankful for a wonderful husband, nurses and doctors who are helping me travel down this road. I'm so thankful for family and friends in this wonderful life I'm living.

And even though I miss her more than words can express, I'm so thankful for Maddie Grace and for the grace she has taught me in this life. God's grace is sufficient, always and forever. I'm so thankful for His grace.

2 Corinthians 12:9 And he said uto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

As we drove home that afternoon, Rick handed me a little keepsake he had picked up for me in the gift shop.

It read,

Our nest is blessed!


God truly has blessed our little nest.

February 22, 2011

The heart of it all...

2/14/11


Well, it finally came, another first I would have to get through without my sweet Maddie Grace. This time is was my first holiday without her.

If you know me, you know how big holiday's are to me. I've always loved going all out for our boys, and making many special memories for them.
My Mom always had a way of doing this for my brother and I, and it has carried on as one of my traditions. I love the detail of the "little things" in life and I enjoy doing them.

I'm the Mom who buys the "first" everything from the onsie's, to the bibs, and even the socks. =) I take pictures like it's going out of style and I cherish every minute. I love all the milestones in my sweet babies lives. I wish so much I could go through each and every one of these milestones with Maddie.

Today was Valentines Day.

It is a holiday that I love and look so forward to. What's not to love? Lots of red and pink, hearts and love, yummy treats and kisses. I have always loved this sweet day and I was really excited about it being Maddie Grace's "first" holiday with us.

So, as the day came and she wasn't here, I felt a little down inside. I woke up trying to put on my brave face and smile. Never letting on to anyone that my heart was completely broken and I was falling apart inside.

I took Noah to school and dropped off cupcakes and cookies. I spent the day there watching him smile and laugh with all his classmates. All the kids were full of sugar, and loving every minute of their Valentine Party.

Noah was thrilled that his valentine box won first place. Elijah was just excited to see Noah and his classmates, as I snapped pictures for the yearbook.

I couldn't help but finding myself feeling sad, even though on the outside I was smiling for my boys.

I sat and listened as the high school class presented poems and I snapped more pictures. One of the poems talked of a "sparrow" and of course I was tearing up. I was really missing my little birdie girl.

After I left the party, I ran to get the boys a special Valentine balloon. I always give them special treats each year, and having had a busy weekend, I hadn't had time to pick up any. So, I ran to get them one to have for after school.

I stood in the store with two balloons in my hand, everything in me was trying not to break down. I had a moment of "it's not fair" as I stood there with only 2. I wanted to buy one for Maddie. I wanted her to be a part of this holiday that I had looked so forward to having with her.

I wanted to put her in the Valentine tutu and "Daddy's little Valentine" onesie that was in her drawer waiting for her. I wanted to put a big bow on her head and snap a million pictures for her scrapbook. I wanted to see my boys kissing her all day long. I wanted to kiss her too.

I was so broken on the inside. This is not how it was "supposed" to be... I was having a hard time.

I grabbed another balloon and made my way to the checkout with tears in my eyes. The cashier caught eyes with me and made small talk. I held back my emotions and pretended to be a happy girl with not a care in the world. Inside I was aching.

I left the store and headed to the cemetery with my little red heart balloon. This was my second visit.

I know it seems silly, and Maddie is in Heaven having no thought of my Valentine's day breakdown, but for some reason it helped. I walked over to her little grave and stuck the little red balloon in the ground. She had her balloon too.

I cried for a little while and sat there missing her. My arms are still aching so much to hold her everyday. Oh what I would give to kiss her sweet cheeks and snuggle her again on my chest. Oh what I would do to have her back in my arms and in my life forever. I know this can't be, so in the meantime I will just miss her.

I tell my husband numerous times everday "I just miss her."

Im not mad or angry. I just miss her, everyday, so much. For there is no cure for a broken heart, only prayer and time.

Everyday, I pray for God's strength and healing, and He does provide. I ask for His grace and He gives me much but in my heart I still hurt. In my heart, I still ache. In my heart, I still weep because I miss my little girl.

I made my way back home feeling a little better. I grabbed the mail on my way inside and saw a box laying by my front door. I noticed the name on the box. Julie, a sweet friend from college had sent me a package. I opened the box and found this adorable little bear. How fitting and perfect for me that day. What a sweet reminder of my sweet girl.


God knew I need a little pick me up. A little reminder that my sweet girl would always be in my heart no matter how many days passed without her.

Once again, God found a way to cheer me up and send another little (hug) my way. My litte girl was remembered by not just me on this sweet day, but many others too, including Julie. I read in the card that she had debated sending this to me. I'm sure glad she did. This thrilled my heart and I was able to smile.

A little while later, I presented my little boys with their balloons and treats and they were completely thrilled. Oh the simple things in childhood, only if everyday we could find the joy in such sweet simple things. I spent the rest of my day with my little loves cherishing them and loving on them, still thinking of my little girl.

As my husband came home that night, he knew. He could tell this was one of my "hard" days. He let me cry, he listened to me talk about her, and he reminded me how much he missed her too. He helped to make my holiday without her a little easier. Oh I am so thankful for him and his love.

I am thankful for my little boys who love me like there is no tomorrow.
If I could remember to do the same, all day, everyday.

So what is the heart of it all? My heart may be broken but I know this...

My God gave me His Son in such love and compassion.

The heart of it all is this...

My Jesus willingly gave His life out of his great love.

For what greater gift of love is there than this?

For my heart may be completely broken and overwhelmed. I may miss my girl so much, but I know she is with God. And because of his love, I will see her again. For there is no love, like the love of God. It is the ultimate love story in this life.

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that he gave his only beggotten son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish but have everlasting life.

Thank you Lord for your love.

I Samuel 16:7b For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward apearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.

Thank you Lord for knowing my heart. Thank you Lord for your comfort.

February 20, 2011

That's my Dad....And that's my Mom.

2/13/11

It has been just over a month since the funeral. I still can't believe how slowly time seems to be going by. I guess when you spend your days missing someone, time can seem to go by slower.

It was Sunday and I woke up with a heavy heart. I knew that a day at Church would definately cheer me up and so I pressed forward.

When I got to Church and was heading up to my Sunday School class I noticed all of the visitors. The busses have been full week after week and we have had so many visitors stopping by the Church. It was so encouraging to see our entire auditorium completely full Sunday after Sunday. You can't help but smile seeing that, no mater how heavy your heart may be.

God has been doing an amazing work in our Church. It seems like a revival has broken out and I can't help but feel like Maddie has been a part of that.

You see, our whole Church lost her too. They miss her too. I'm so thankful for such an amazing Church family who is taking our hands, and walking through this valley with us. We have been so fortunate to have so many wonderful people in our lives.

If you don't attend Church, you should find one. It's like having another family who is there for you all the time. It really is a wonderful thing.

So, as I headed upstairs, encouraged on this Sunday morning, I had no idea what God had in store for me.

Once I sat down and saw the girl's filing in, I sat in awe. My class was packed, and along with my regulars, I had 7 visitors that day.

I opened my Bible and began to teach a lesson on facing giants in our lives. I taught on David and Goliath and wow did the Lord work. I noticed the intent eyes and ears as I taught and couldn't help but take advantage of all the wonderful things that the Lord was giving me.

At the end of the lesson, I began to give the plan of Salvation, never expecting that every little girl in their "knows" God and is saved. Many girls raised their hands that they knew for sure, but there was one who looked confused and unsure.

After I dismissed class, I asked her to stay behind for a moment so I could talk to her more. Two of the other girls asked to stay too. I spent the next 20 minutes talking to them and helping them to better understand the Lord and his son Jesus Christ. The one girl, who at the beginning didn't even know if she believed in God, by the end not only believed but was ready to trust Him!!! Praise God.

I led all three girl's to the Lord and with smiles on their faces and tears in their eyes, the came to know the Lord. What a blessing!

They all hugged me and loved on me afterward and thaked me for showing them in the Bible that they too could know for sure they would go to Heaven. And for showing them how to recieve Jesus in their hearts.

I'm so thankful that God used me this day. I'm so thankful that even in my deepest valley, God can still work. I'm so thakful that 3 more people are headed to Heaven today. And I'm thankful that they will get to meet my sweet Maddie Grace that I talked to them about.

If that couldn't cheer me up, I don't know what would. Maybe it sounds strange, but Rick and I have both stated that leading a soul to Christ makes us feel closer to Maddie. It's like we can feel connected to her knowing someone else will one day be where she is. I'm so thankful for Heaven.

As my day went on, and I was rejoicing, I was still struggling. I think that Satan looks for any window of opportunity to get in and discourage me. I was starting to really miss Maddie and by the time lunch was over, I was in tears.

I cried all the way home and asked Rick if it would ever get easier. For my heart is still so full of sorrow and pain. He began to remind me of what had happened just earlier that morning and how God was working in our lives. He spent all Sunday afternoon holding me and loving on me. I'm so blessed to have him.

As we headed back to Church that night I was ready to hear him preach. Even though he runs his sermons by me and usually asks how they sound, it's like he amazes me every time he stands behind that pulpit. My hubby has got some "preach" in Him! =) If you have never heard him, you should. He's amazing and God has really blessed him with this ability and opportunity.

So, that night he got up and began to preach on Job.
As many of you know the story, Job was considered by God a faithful servant, a perfect(mature) and upright man; One who feared God and fled from evil. He was a man who had much, 10 children, much livestock, and a great household. The Bible says in Job 1:3b so this man was the greatest of all men of the east.

Satan(as he will) tried to get to Job. He questioned what would happen if the hedge(God's protective hand) was removed from around him. He said that Job would curse God. Knowing the heart of His servant, God knew better. He knew Job would not turn his back on Him. He knew his servant.

As I watched my husband stand and preach from this book of Job, listening to loss after loss that this man endured. I found myself rejoicing. Job overcame. He did not give in. He lost everything that he had, but he still trusted in and loved the Lord

And many of you have said it, but it finally sunk in to me.

God finds me worthy.

Praise God, he finds me worthy. He is trusting me with this trial in my life because He knows I can make it through.

And even though day after day, I have to beg Him to help me. He does.

Rick said that night "This cross that my wife and I have to bear is ours. No one can bear it for us. And though some days it may be hard, God has counted us worthy to bear it."

Wow. What an honor. What a God.

And as he continued to preach and speak of the wonderful story of Job, I found myself saying once again, "I can do this!" "I can get through."

Then, what he said next, really pulled at my heart strings.

He said "This weekend has been amazing. We have seen 6 souls come to know the Lord and I'm so thankful to have been a part of that."

"I can't help but think that yesterday as I led a lady to the Lord that my little girl looked down from Heaven and said...

"that's my Dad"

and then this morning as three teenage girls accepted Christ, she looked down again and said...

"and that's my Mom".

(CHILLS)

What a thought. In that moment, I wanted my girl to be proud. I want her legacy to live on. For as the angels were rejoicing of the Salvation's in Heaven, she was there. She heard the cheering and the rejoicing. She was there and she was a witness.

I hope she is proud of me. I'm sure proud of her. I hope I can continue the rest of my days to remember that there is a higher calling and that it is to Heaven. I can't wait to go there when the Lord see's fit. I can't wait to see all those who will be coming with me. I sure hope that you are going too. And if there is any way I can encourage you to make sure you know your going, I will.

Please message me or email me if you would like to know more about getting saved. I always have time to share the Gospel. Please don't wait, for as you know, we aren't confident in tomorrow. Life can be so short. Maddie proved that to me.

And so, as I go through my days I will continue to do my best to stay strong and to know that God has counted me worthy.

I don't know why, but He has.

It has been said to me that this trial can make me "better" or it can make me "bitter." Oh I want to be better. I want to like Job, live for the Lord all my days, and at the end of my life I hope that God will consider me a faithful servant.

Day by day may I point people to Him. And though I will fall and I will fail, may I get up again and press forward. May my wonderful Saviour be proud of me. May my sweet girl continue to say about her parents "That's my Dad, and that's my Mom."

I love that. I love her. Thank you Lord for your blesings on me!

Job 42:12 So the Lord blessed the later end of Job more than the beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand oxen, and a thousand she asses.
13 He has also had seven sons and three daughters.

God is good!

February 18, 2011

Children are an heritage...

2/12/11

Today I woke up encouraged.

Saturday's have become a difficult day for me for many reasons, but I'm trying to make them as positive as I possibly can for my husband and my boys.

We have had a Saturday tradition for a while now, and have kept with it. We take our boys to a local restaurant every Saturday morning for brunch. It's been a fun family time now for many months. Sometimes we go alone. Sometimes friends and family come, but we always go. It's a little chaotic at times in between 20 trips to the bathroom and eyesight bigger than appetite trips to the buffet; but we love it. It is a time on the weekend where we can sit down and just "enjoy" our boys.

I've talked so much about my sweet Maddie Grace in these posts, but today I want to talk a little bit about my other two loves, My boys.

Noah Riley

Isn't he the sweetest little guy?
Noah is 5 years old and in Kindergarten this year. He absolutely loves school. He is very smart and is already reading! He loves life and he loves his cousins, all 8 of them. =) He loves his Mimi and Papa and Grandma and Papa and enjoys spending the night with them and getting spoiled rotten. He loves reading books and playing the Wii, computer and his DS. He is very sensitive and has the sweetest, softest heart. He's a Momma's boy when I'm around, but as soon as Daddy walks in the door he is all about his dad. He wants to look, act and be just like Rick. It melts my heart. He loves his little brother but hates it when he is mean or steals his toys. =) He accepted Christ as his Saviour on the night of Easter in 2010. He can quote the entire Christian alphabet and has such a great memory for scripture. He loves doing devotions and reading Bible stories.
We are so proud of Him!

Elijah Braden

Isn't he a cutie pie?
Well, my little Eli is the complete opposite of Noah. He just turned 3 in December, although he looks like he's 4 or 5. He's very tall. He is a little loud, rambunctious and ornery as can be. He has such a joy for life. He loves his Mommy like no other and is completley a Mama's boy. =) He has a very short attention span, but he loves to play games and sing songs. He loves to eat candy and many times I find him sneaking it out of our "snack cabinet." He adores his big brother and wants to do everything just like him! He enjoys anything physical like running, jumping, tackling, etc. He loves sports and I'm pretty sure he will be very good at them. He is left handed and seems not to let it prevent him from doing anything. He is very smart and has a great vocabulary. Sometimes we just don't know what he's saying due to his speech delay, but he's making so much improvement! He spends his days by my side playing, singing and laughing. He is such a sweet joy.

So, as you can see. We are blessed, so very blessed to have such precious little boys. I think so often how different my life would be without them. They are my life. They are my job. =) And I wouldn't want to be doing anything else but be their Mommy.




I also wanted to share some pics of my pregnancy with Maddie and the boys...


The boys sure did love their little sister. =)




So, as I continue to miss my sweet Maddie so very much, and wonder how different my days would be if she were here along with my boys; I still have my sweet Noah and Eli who love me like there is no tomorrow. I have my sweet boys who trust in me to take care of them.

What a job.

So often I think I have taken "raising children" so lightly. And until I went through this heartache of losing a child, I know I did.

Everything I say, everywhere I go, everything I do, affects them. They are like little sponges who soak up exactly what they see. They are me and they are Rick.
So, I guess what I am realizing is how much I must improve in so many ways. For one day I will be in Heaven and they will be left with just memories and examples from my life.

We all want the best for our children. I think sometimes I may go a "little" overboard. I guess this is evident when it takes my kids 2 hours to open their presents on birthdays and Christmas morning. =)

Okay, yes I admit it.

I do definately go overboard, but I am quickly realizing that the presents don't last near as long as the memories we create. For they will outgrow the clothes and the toys, but they will always remember the words I say, how I act and what I do.

Oh Lord, help me. Help me to be a wonderful mother. Help me to raise good strong boys who love you and serve you. Help them to see a mother who prays and trusts you. Help me.

And Lord, remind me never to take them for granted, never expect too much and to always cherish every moment with them, for I know how quickly they can be gone.

Just a few days ago, a sweet lady wrote these words on a post for my blog.
She said "just reading all your sweet blogs and my heart is just aching ...even though I only met you once (I think) what a wonderful blessing you are!!! No man could have a more wonderful wife and no children could have a more beautiful mother then you....they will rise up and call you Blessed."

What a sweet compliment. It got me thinking about this verse.
Proverbs 31:28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.

It made me sort of recharge and say okay, My Maddie is gone and I can grieve, but I need to be strong for my boys. At the end of my life, I hope that they can call me blessed. I want this to be true. I want to be a wonderful wife and mother and I need help, because I fail so many times on my own.

I have been praying. I have been reading God's word. I have been trying my absolute best to be more patient, but I feel I have been struggling to do so, because I have been lacking is sleep.

I am still having such a hard time at night and I'm not getting the rest that I need. As a result, I am tired and weak throughout the day; and if you know my son Eli, you know that it takes bundles of energy to keep up with him and his fast pace.

So, as my Saturday continued, and I was beginning to grow weary, I was blessed with another little (hug) from God.

We went home after the fun day at our family brunch, and a wonderful soulwinning experience.(one person got saved by the way) I then got on my computer and received the sweetest encouragement.

A sweet friend of mine, Chrissy, had sent me an inbox with this verse.

Psalm 127:2 It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth beloved sleep.

I read that verse and it comforted me. Since I struggle at night and haven't slept much since I lost Madeline, I've been searching for verses on rest and sleep. I've been praying for the Lord to help me sleep and let the nightmares stop. I took the time to read this verse and the devotional that went along with it. It encouraged me so much in that I need to make time for this beloved sleep. My heart is broken, yes. I feel like part of me is missing, yes, and some days the sorrow makes it hard to breathe.

But... I still have a job to do. I have to rest because everyday when I wake up, I GET to be a mom to the sweetest two little boys this world has to offer.

So, why did I share this verse here today??? If you read the next few verses following this in Psalms 127 you will find this...

Lo, Children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.

Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies at the gate. Psalm 127 3-5

(CHILLS)

So this verse on sleep that Chrissy sent me, led me to these verses on children.

Did you see God in that? I did. =)

Oh my, what a job I have to do. My children are an heritage of the LORD! Do you realize how powerful that is? He gave them to me as his reward. Wow!

Yes, they have our last name Ross, but they are God's children. They are of His heritage. I have given these babies to Him and He is trusting me with his sweet chldren. He is allowing me to raise them and teach them.

Oh may I teach them that they are God's children. May I teach them to love, honor and praise the Heavenly Father all their days. May I teach in the good times and in the bad, to praise God and thank Him for His goodness.

It would be easy for me to fall apart and tell them that God took Maddie, but that would be a lie. For God gave Maddie. Maddie was His to give and when He chose to call her home, He knew what He was doing. Through the words I write now, I know what He is doing.

He is using the precious life of my sweet girl to reach people; to bring lives to Christ. For even at her funeral, people came to know the Lord. I'm so thankful for this.

My daughter is a soulwinner. My daughter is a missionary. Oh Lord may I be. May I teach my boys to be. May I live a life to please you. May I be a wonderful loving mother that at the end of my life, your heritage, my heritage; can rise up and call me blessed.

Thank you Lord for this priveledge of being a mother, may I never again take it lightly. May I remember that these little fruits of my womb are SUCH a reward!

Psalm 127:3 Lo, Children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.


Such Love...
I loved every single minute of expecting sweet Maddie Grace =)

February 17, 2011

Have Faith in God...

2/10/11

Isn't it precious how when you start to doubt, when you start to fall, God allows something happen to lift you up and get you back on track?

I have chills tonight as I read all of your inboxes and messages of compassion and love. And though I may have had one person not sure of what to say this week, so many others have given me the perfect words of encouragement. I needed that. Thank you.

I have been so very blessed to have so many amazing people in my life. Every single day, I am encouraged, and loved by all of you. Thank you again.

On this day, something was weighing heavy on my mind. And as I read and searched and prayed, God kept allowing the same thought to come back into my memory. It was the answer to the question that so many had asked. How are you getting through this?

It was something I had heard my sweet husband preach about just a few days earlier. It was something that I knew, but struggled to allow happen in my life. It was something so simple, yet so difficult for me to do sometimes.

It is simply... Have Faith.

Mark 11:23 And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.

How am I getting through this? I have faith in God.

Sometimes I think the things that would seem to be the easiest thing we can do, becomes one that we are not sure exactly how to. Maybe something we don't want to do because of self will or pride.

One thing I have learned through loosing sweet Maddie Grace is this, I have let go of every ounce of pride that I had left. No more pride. No more "me."

Now, I have decided to let it be All GOD. All the time.

Before all this, I felt like I was in control. I had a life exactly the way I had planned it. I was married. I had two sons and a daughter on the way.

My life was perfect. I was complete. These were the words Rick and I both said numerous time the day Maddie was born and the day after. Our world was perfect.

Perfect.

My facebook status on 1/7/11 was Had a perfect day holding my girl and watching the snow fall. I'm in awe of God's goodness.

We couldn't have asked God for anything more...

I always thought there was a certain "perfect" way things needed to be. How could I think I never needed to ask God for more. I need to ask God for everything in my life.

Now that I look back I regret saying that. My husband and I have come to learn that we should NEVER again put a limit on the Lord. We will never again say something in such confindence, knowing that it is completely not in our hands. We will from now on say "what do you want Lord?" "What is you will Lord?"

We will have faith.

What is faith?

Faith is the confident belief or trust in the truth (Bible) or trustworthiness of a person (Jesus), concept or thing (Salvation). =)

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

Do you hope? I do. Do you have faith? I do.

So many days, I have continued to walk through this life with my plan. A big plan of how my life should be. How big my family will be and by a certain time. What kind of house I should live in and how it should be furnished. How much money we should have and what kind of vacations we take. I was planning way in advace and believing in myself to get things done. I knew what I wanted, and I thought I knew how to get it. I was wrong.

The fact of the matter is... It doesn't really matter I want. God has a plan. He has had a plan all along, and though it may not be what I thought it should be, it is His perfect way and will.

I surrendered my will to His so long ago, but my self will has always held on for a little in control. I have learned I have NO control. Only God.

My life verse for years has been.

Delight thyself also in the Lord, and He shall give the the desires of thine heart. Psalm 37:4

So, for years I have thought. This is my desire Lord, can I have it? I'm happy in you Lord, can I have it? I have prayed for it, and many times it has been answered.

Maddie Grace was one of those desires.

The truth of the matter is. I can be happy in the Lord and delight in Him and He will give me many of the things my heart desires.
What I really needed to be doing was searching Him more and making His desires mine, instead of trying to make my desires be His.

I was praying all wrong.

Am I saying that I think the Lord called Maddie home because it wasn't His desire for her to live a life here with me?

No.

I believe God had this plan for her life all along. She was created with a purpose in mind. Would I have loved at any moment on that dark Saturday morning for the Lord to have put breath and life back into my tiny girl?

Yes.

And I truly believe He could have. At any moment He could have, and I could be claiming the miracle that took place with my sweet girl the day she stopped breathing, but that wasn't His will. As much as it hurts me, it just wasn't.

Someone said to me the day after we lost her and it kills me to even type this, "Why did God even give her to you if He was going to just take her back."

Well... I desired a daughter and God gave me one. He just had different plans for her life than I did.

She was brought to this earth to change my life and so many others. She was created to draw me closer to my husband and the Lord. She has given us love and taught us compassion. She has helped make our house a home. She has taught me how to soulwin and be a better Christian. She has brought out the "best" in us in so many ways. She has done countless things with her beautiful 2 days of life than I could of in a lifetime. She has drawn me to the Lord.

And so what am I saying here today?

Have faith.

Have faith in God that He knows best and will give you what you need.
Have faith in God that His plan for your life is much greater than anything you can plan out yourself.
Have faith in God that when you are brought to your knees in a trial, that He will lift you up and help you to keep going.

Have faith!

We may not see God face to face, but we can feel Him. I do, everyday of my life. I feel Him and He lets me see glimpses of Him too.

I see Him through the Bible and in prayer.
I see Him in this beautiful world He has created for me to live in.
He talks to me through His word and different situations in my life.
He shows up and gives me those "hugs" of His as He sends a little bird my way.
When certain things "just so happen". I know that's Him.
He was present when I heard "His eye is on the sparrow."
I could see Him in that snowglobe.
He was holding my hand as I opened the pink bracelet.
He sat with me as I listened to the story about the quilt.

He knows. He cares. He is there.

So, when I'm standing in the middle of this forest of trials, and I don't know which way is right. I can't see anything except tall trees and burdens hovering over me, I take a step forward and tell myself "have faith" and another step "have faith" and another step "have faith."

You can not go the wrong way if you are walking with the Lord. He will lead you exactly where you need to go and if you let Him; He'll carry you.

I'm so very thankful that I have the Lord. He has shown himself to me in ways I didn't even know I could see Him. I can see Him in the darkness when all hope of the light seems lost. I can still see Him. I know He held me up that morning at the hospital as I said goodbye to my Maddie Grace, and He has every day since. He's there...

And I know that because of my faith.


Mark 11:23 And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.

Romans 1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
~ Lord may I be able to say this at the end of my Life.

February 16, 2011

When you say nothing at all...

2/9/11

These words take on a whole new meaning to me now.

For just seven and a half years ago, these words were part of a song played at our wedding reception. "You say it best, when you say nothing at all." In other words, our love didn't need to be spoken of. It was a look. It was feeling.

Today, when others say nothing at all, I crumble a little more inside. A little more of me fades away.

I recently read in a devotional book of another mother who has suffered a similar loss as mine. She said this, "You add to my pain when you choose to ignore it." What words, what truth to me.

For so many do not know what to say, but please, say something. When you know someone who is going through such pain or sorrow. Say something. This is a lesson that I have been learning, unaware of pain I may have been causing in the life of others. Unaware of what "silence" can really do to a soul.

Thank you for being here with me, reading these words. You are saying that you care. You are saying that you love me and hurt for me. Thank you. It is because of so many of you that I have the courage to press on especially when I go through something like this...

I had a terrible experience today. Not quite as heart wrenching as my post about the dentist, but a close second.

For the last 6 months, I have taken my sweet son (Elijah Braden) to speech class. He experienced severe hearing loss before the age of two and has had a hard time pronouncing his consonants. So, every Wednesday from 11-12:00, we go to speech therapy.

And for the last 6 months of my pregnancy, Maddie Grace came along, kicking and hiccupping, she came.

Elijah's therapist has been wonderful with him. She takes her time to help him and he has made so much improvement, but on this day; I felt like she overlooked us. I felt as if she ignored our lives, our sorrow, and our pain.

She didn't say one word to me about losing Maddie. She didn't ask how our family was doing and I felt that she was quite short with Eli and his "not quite there" attention that day. I had to explain to her that he too, had been through a lot. This was something she should of known. Our whole family was hurting, suffering. Our whole family has been affected.

We haven't just lost a baby. We have lost a family member. She was a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter, a niece. She had a life. She had weight in this world.

So, as I sat there and listened to her practice K sounds with my little boy, I thought "I would never just say nothing, I would say something, anything, whatever."

Nothing was said.

I remember tearing up as I watched her with him. Again, I wanted to cry out. "Don't you know? Don't you get it? She's gone. The baby that has come with me week after week. My belly that we discussed. Her name that you knew. Her? She's not here, do you know that? Her room is empty and she will never spend one night around the dinner table with us. She's not here. She's not here..." But instead, I sat there silent, biting my lip and holding back tears, smiling at Eli as he finally got his k sound.

As I left that day and the words "Good to see you back" were uttered to me. I was in shock, that was it? It hurt so very much that nothing was said. I walked to my car and bawled. Would I be able to do this? Could I go on? I still have a swollen belly that reminds me everyday that she was here. Yet, I felt the whole world was moving forward and I wasn't ready to.

Maybe I overreacted. Maybe I shouldn't have been upset, but I was.

Maybe she didn't know what to say, and that's why she said nothing, I don't know. I was crushed.

One thing I have learned through this is I will never forget. I feel so bad for those mother's who have gone through this before me with whom I did not continue to talk about their sweet children and babies. The children that took part of their hearts when they left. Those sweet babies that made a difference in this world. I will never again forget to speak their names.

So, please make me cry. Mention her name. Tell me what she means to you, but please. Please. Don't forget my sweet girl. Maybe in time, I won't need it as much, but for now, right now, I need to hear of my sweet Madeline Grace. I need to talk of my sweet Madeline Grace. I only have 2 days to last me a lifetime. I will do my best to live life praising and loving the One who gave her to me. But remind me. Help me, I need you.

So, if you don't know what to say to someone who's hurting, that's okay. Sometimes there are no words but just an "I'm praying for you." That is more than enough.

For those of you who have taken the time. To those of you who have read, and written and prayed. To those of you who have mentioned her name and what she has meant to you. And there have been many...

Thank you.

From the bottom of my heart. Thank you for saying something. You will never know how it has helped my heart and soul to heal.

Thank you.

And thank you to my Lord who I know remembers the pain and the hole in my heart. The God who lifts me up and helps me to press on, everday. The same Lord who gave me His child in exchange for the payment of my sins. I am so grateful for this. Thank you, Lord for knowing my heart and saving me from my sins. Thank you Lord for your Son and thank you Lord, for my daughter.




Isaiah 53:3-5 He was despised and rejected of men; acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him: he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he hath borne our grief's, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken smitten of God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

February 15, 2011

Not walking alone...

2/6/11 continued

Later that day I asked Rick to take me to the cemetery. Cemetery; a word I never imagined to be coupled along with the words containing my daughter's name. It was a word I did not like and place I did not want to go, but I had to.

After Church, my sweet husband drove me to the place where my sweet Maddie Grace was buried. A place where I know she is not, but her body is. A place that for the last month, I have been dreading walking through.

Since it was her one month birthday, I felt like it was time.

And so we went.

As we drove through the gates, my heart broke all over again. The last time I came through here, I couldn't find her grave. I didn't know where it was. Part of me was relieved as I left that day, not having visited. The other part of me felt like I let her down, because I didn't know where to go.

So, as we continued through the gates, I wept. Rick had been before and knew the exact location. It was inevitable, I had to do this, it was time.

As he drove around the curve, I found myself looking through tear filled eyes at all the others who have gone on before her. So many graves. So many hearts.

I found myself crying uncontrollably as Rick pulled to a stop. This was it.

I waited in the van as he walked around to get me. And like the day we left the hospital without her, I thought he might have to carry me out... I was weak.

My precious Husband took my hand and led me toward her grave. Oh how my heart broke. We took about 40 steps and we were there. It didn't seem real.

I looked down and I saw the angel. The vase was filled with flowers, dead from time and the cold. This killed me. Just another reminder that she was gone. I remember telling Rick, "I thought the angel was bigger, are you sure this is hers?" It was like I wanted him to tell me, no. Of course this isn't hers. She isn't here.

It was real. She was gone. The words "Madeline Grace Ross" confirmed it.

As if the empty room wasn't a daily reminder. The unfilled baby book was not enough to remember, that her story wouldn't go on in those pages. As if the closet full of clothes and unused diapers was not enough of a reminder, that she really was no longer here. My mind was spinning.

This was it.

I looked down and saw the picture laying beside the angel. This was from my Mom, I could tell. There was another angel there, also from my Mom. She missed her too and I could see she had visited often. This broke my heart.

I fell into Rick's chest and he pulled me closer. We wept as we held each other standing over the place where my little girl was buried. I could see the fresh dirt underneath a blanket of snow. The hurt was still so very fresh on our hearts as well. I was weak.

My eyes wandered to the other little graves surrounding hers. All the others who had traveled this road before us. And though this is a road I would never want anyone to have to travel down.

We were not walking alone.

I could feel all the hearts of Mommy's and Daddy's that were broken too. They knew this pain too. I was praying that they had comfort from the Lord as well. How do you go through something like this without God? Without hope?

I bent down and placed the stone bird beside the angel. I noticed that the stone angel was holding a bird in it's hands. I had forgotten seeing this. How apropriate for my birdie girl.

I laid my hand on the snow and I told Maddie I loved her.

One month, wow.

It was a long 4 weeks of crying and praying myself to sleep.
A long 4 weeks of kissing the cheeks of only her picture.
A long 4 weeks of walking by a beautiful, perfect, empty crib.

I cried out.

Rick lifted me from the snowy ground and held me up.

So many hopes and dreams were wrapped up in her. I couldn't believe that she was really gone.

I've had so many accepting moments now that my sweet love was no longer here. I knew that this visit would finish the list of the first's according to her death. After the funeral, this was my next big step. I had taken it.

Thank the Lord I know where she is. She is in the beauty of Heaven enjoying the Lord. She closed her eyes in this world and opened them to see Jesus. To feel Jesus. What a thought. What a blessing.

How does anyone go to a place like this without hope. I couldn't stand the thought if that was truly the end of sweet Maddie's life. No more.

I know that she is more alive now than she ever was on January the 6th. She is in her heavenly home with the Savior. This same Savior who has given me grace and has saved my soul, so I can one day go and meet Him and be reunited with my girl. I'm so thankful for this promise.

So, as Rick and I began to leave that day, with teary eyes, we still could rejoice. For Madeline is not here, she is in Heaven. This is just a place to go and remember. And also a place to remind me that death is real.

Oh if I can be a better winner of souls, so they can go to Heaven too. So we can rejoice in hope and faith, and have the joy of Heaven waiting for us, along with Maddie Grace.

We are not walking alone on this road. The Lord is carrying us, everyday of our lives he is holding our hands and walking with us. And one day, we will enter the gates of Heaven! We will meet with our Lord and with our precious little girl; Oh how I wait for that day!



Psalm 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shaddow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Isaiah 53:4a Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows:

February 13, 2011

One month since Maddie...

2/6/11

Today it has been one month since Maddie Grace was born. I never imagined that I would be celebrating a one month birthday with Maddie not here, but in Heaven. I still can't believe that one of the most joyous precious days of my life turned out in this outcome. But I do know this.

I love her.

With every part of my being, I love her. I would have given the world to her and if given the chance, I would've given my life in exchange for keeping hers. She is my heart and my soul.

I miss her.

On January the 6th when she came into this world, my life changed. I became a mother to the most beautiful baby girl this world could hold. She has made me so much of a better person and she has taught me so much more about love and life than I knew existed.

When I first set eyes on her that evening, I melted. What a precious gift. Holding her and snuggling her are still fresh in my mind. Her beautiful eyes looking up at me is a vision that will never leave me. I was her Mommy and she knew. She was my Maddie and she always will be. I will talk of her the rest of my life. I will share of her grace and how though her life God has given me His.


I will remember watching my sweet Husband fall in love again with this child we created. I will remember how much she looked like him. Some days, I find myself staring at him as I picture her face. She loved him.


I will remember the way that her 2 older brothers were in awe of her beauty. I will remember how they both just looked at her. I will remember how Eli said "She looks like me" and he was right. I get to see her everyday when I look at him. I will remember how she had Noah's dimpled chin. The same chin I kissed over and over. I will remember how he calmed her. What a sweet moment.


We won't forget sweet Maddie. For how could we?

She was desired.

She was created.

She was delivered.

She was us.


And she was and still is loved.

I think of the joy that entered our lives the moment she was born. And for 39 precious hours, she gave us pure joy and perfect love.

I will never forget cuddling my sweet girl on my chest and feeling her snuggle her sweet face to mine. I will remember listening to her breathe and feeling her sweet breath against my skin. I will remember brushing her hair and watching her be so content. I will remember watching her smack her lips together while looking for food. I will remember feeding her and how loud she cried when I wasn't. I will remember kissing her sweet cheeks over and over again.


I will never forget.

When the Lord called her home we were heartbroken and still are, but we remember. I remember kissing her goodbye for the last time knowing that my life was forever changed, never to be the same. I remember walking out of the hospital empty handed, feeling so helpless.

I also remember the grace God has given me and continues to give me as I now walk a road of grief and sorrow. A road that no one wants to walk down. A road that has left me heartbroken and full of sadness, but still, God is good.

For my God remembers me during this time and He knows exactly how to comfort me. He gives me peace. He gave me her. How can I say He's not a good God? He gave me Maddie.

Maddie's sweetness consumes me on a daily basis. I can't help but think how much God must love us to have given us such a precious little girl.

Then my mind wanders to how much more He loved us to have given us His Son. There is no love like the love of God. John 3:16

So on this 6th day of February, I remember.

I will remember sweet Madeline Grace Ross who entered this world on January the 6th with a job to do. To bring more love than any family could ever imagine and to bring the grace of God to our lives.



Happy one month Maddie Grace. You are loved and you are missed. <3


Psalms 71:3-7 For thou art my hope, O Lord GOD: thou art my trust from my youth.
By thee have I been holden up from the womb: thou art he that took me out of my mother's bowels: my praise shall be continually of thee.
I am as a wonder unto many; but thou art my strong refuge.

February 11, 2011

The birdcage and the quilt...

2/5/11

Isn't it amazing how God knows the perfect time to send someone by to encourage you? I have been feeling blessed by this so many times since Madeline passed away.

For example, just the other day I was telling Rick that I wanted to pick up something to take to Madeline's grave site. I wasn't sure where to find something like this and he told me, "Don't worry, we'll find something." Not even 5 minutes later a sweet lady (Conie) showed up at my door with the most precious stone bird with the word grace written on it. It was perfect. Was it a coincidence again? I don't think so. =)


Isn't she precious?

God knows.

I have had so many moments like that. I've received beautiful "pink" bracelets in memory of Maddie. I've been given bird pictures, plates and frames. These are all such sweet reminders that my girl was here and continues on in so many hearts. I'm so blessed by each of these things.

On this particular day, God sent Rachel.

She is a sweet friend of mine from college and one of the sweetest souls you'll find. She came by the house because she had something for me. Little did she know that she brought by so much more than just a gift.

My beautiful birdcage


Don't you love it? I searched and searched for one of these to go in Madeline's nursery. I couldn't find one. I love that she found me one to remember my precious birdie girl.

As we sat and spoke about my sweet Maddie's life, I was encouraged. She listened as I cried and she shared such sweet words about the beauty of her memorial service. We talked about how I'm getting through this and God's grace through it all. We looked at pictures and shared our hearts with each other. Then she told me something I'll never forget...

She said, "My dad once said that this life is like a quilt."

"When a child sits on the floor watching their mother stitch a quilt, all they can see from their view on the ground is random strings, knots and various threads.

It looks messy and purposeless. But when the child sits on their mother's lap and views the quilt from the mothers perspective, above it has a beautiful pattern.

Every color, every stitch, every string has a place and is so pretty when woven together."

What a thought... Then she continued.

"Just like us here on earth, all we see are the strings and knots, but in heaven when we see from God's perspective, then we will see the pattern of His will and understand His purpose. Until then we have to trust the one weaving our lives and rest assured in the end, the Lord is making something more beautiful than we could have ever imagined."

(CHILLS)

What a thought. None of this makes sense to me. I don't know why I only got to enjoy less than two days with my precious girl. I don't understand why she was taken so quickly after she was given to me.

However, God does... And His will is perfect.

For He is looking down at that perfect pattern he has laid out for our lives. We can't see anything but the strings and knots and threads. But God sees his work in progress and at the end of our lives, when our quilt is completed, it is exactly how God designed it to be.

I love that.

I want God to use my life in a great way. I want my quilt to be beautiful. And though I may not understand why my pattern is turning out how it is at the moment; I'm so glad that Maddie Grace was a part of this beautiful life. She has added to my quilt. She has added the perfect touch to my life in so many ways. And I'm pretty sure, she has added to so many of yours. =)

Lord, thank you for giving sweet Rachel's dad these words of wisdom that she has passed along to me. What a blessing!

I Timothy 1:16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a Pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.

February 10, 2011

And then there is you...

2/2/11

When I opened my eyes this morning I knew it was going to be a tough day. Memories of the morning we lost Maddie Grace flooded my mind. I don't know exactly what it was to remind me, but I was struggling in the darkness. The room felt strangely similar to that very same morning we lost her. I was having a hard time being in there surrounded by very fresh heart wrenching memories.

I found myself weeping uncontrollably and feeling so much pain in my heart that I couldn't breathe. Another day had gone by without her here and I was missing her with every ounce of my body and soul. My aching arms wanted to hold her as they do every day. I was truly missing my girl.

Rick was still home that morning due to a huge ice storm that came in the night before. The house was so quiet and still I cold almost hear my heart beating. You see I search in the silence, for a comfort and for the Lord. I know He is always there, I just have to remember to go Him, when the silence overwhelms me and doubts fill my mind. I go to Him.

I woke Rick with my hysterical crying and prayers and without saying a word. He knew. He held me as I cried and reminded me that "he missed her too." This made me cry harder even though it was exactly what I wanted to hear...

After a good while of weeping, I found myself with enough strength to pull myself up, even though I could have laid in that bed all day long. I didn't have much energy that day, maybe as a result of another sleepless night. I'm not sure. I just knew I needed to get up for my family.

Sometimes I think for me that just having a good cry helps me. It doesn't take away the pain but somehow it lets my heart release just a little bit of the weight that I've carried since I've lost my sweet baby girl.

If you've lost a child, you know the pain I'm talking about. It's a heavy burden that sits on your chest making it so hard to breathe sometimes. It's a pain that is unexplainable and unbearable. My heart just hurts, everyday, it hurts. Everyday I cry and everyday, I miss her.

So as I pushed forward that day, the Lord knew I was struggling. He knew exactly what I needed.

Rick didn't go in that day, surprisingly, his business still did not have any power and he was able to stay home with me. I couldn't believe it... God knew I needed him.

We went to pick Noah up from school later that day and we had received some news. A man by the name of Danny was in the hospital and Rick's Dad was going to go see him. He had just had heart surgery and wasn't doing very well. As Rick explained this to me I told him "you have to go!"

You see, Danny was one of the 2 people who had gotten saved at Maddie Grace's funeral. He had been faithful to Church since and was really growing in the Lord. He went in for a Dr. visit and then all of the sudden he ended up in the hospital having open heart surgery. The doctors said that for being a 43 year old man, he had the heart of a 73 year old. They even thought at one point they were going to lose him.

So, we drove to the hospital as we prayed for Danny. I couldn't help but think of Maddie. I couldn't help but thank the Lord that because of her short beautiful life and death, Danny had gotten saved. No matter what happened to him, he was on his way Heaven. What a thought.

Danny was there for us when we were going through our valley at the funeral. Now it was our turn to go and be there for him and his precious family, as they were walking through a valley themselves.

I stayed in the van with the boys while Rick and his Dad visited him. He was still not awake and so they prayed with the family. Danny has 2 twin boys that we pick up on the bus route and who attend our Christian School. I thought of them as I thought of their Dad and how much they needed him.

I couldn't help but beg the Lord for his will to be done with Danny but I was truly hoping he would pull through this for his boys. So far he has. Please pray for a full recovery for him.

We drove home from the hospital praising God and listening to some wonderful music. I knew since it was Wednesday, Church was coming that evening. I look so forward to the mid week services, it's like fuel to keep on going the rest of the week.

As we neared our house we noticed that the ice had taken down many branches from our neighbor's tree. They were laying all over the yard and in the driveway and Rick and I both were noticing the damage. Then I looked up and saw such a sad sight. Sweet Mrs. Mary was out in the yard with her hands over her face. She looked as if she was crying and I told Rick we should check on her. It turns out that she was stuck in her yard and was afraid to move with fear of falling on the ice. She was trying to move the branches from her driveway so she could get her car out that evening to go to Church. What a lady (she goes to our Church too by the ways :)

Rick ran to help her and led her inside and put a blanket around her to warm her up. She had apparently been stuck out there for quite a while. She was so very thankful for us finding her. Rick then shoveled her driveway and put ice down so she wouldn't slip on the sidewalk. I was so proud of my husband and I couldn't help but smile and think how we had been able to help others on this day.

When Rick turned to the car he told me the saddest thing. He told me that after he got her inside. She pointed to a picture of her deceased husband and said "I never had to worry about these things when he was still here."

So sad.

It made me think.

Oh how thankful I am for the people in my life who are there to help me when I need it the most. Especially now as I walk through the darkest longest valley that my feet have ever tread through.

The support system I have behind me is like a great and mighty army. We are all in this for the same reason. We are all pressing toward the same goal. And one day, we will get the victory.

I was reminded of the amazing Husband and Children the Lord has given me. I was reminded of the wonderful parents that Rick and I both have. We are blessed with brothers and sisters who would do anything for us to help us through this pain. I'm thankful for friends and Church family who love me so very much.

And then there is you.

All of you who have been reading, hurting, crying and praying along with me through this journey.

This I do not take lightly. I cherish each and every one of you. And though I may not know you all by name and have never seen your face. I know you are here for me and I love you for that.

We all have a story to tell, I may be the one in this place doing the speaking, but you have spoke volumes to me. Your words of comfort, your comments, your emails, your letters, I have read them all and they have comforted me.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart for being here with me and walking down this road with me. I know my days seem dark, but I am walking toward the light a little more each day. And the light of the Lord is shining through the darkness to help me as I continue on.

So, in those moments when you are feeling alone and heartbroken, just know that so many people are hurting too. We all have a story. We all have a song. And if you choose Him, we can all have the Lord.

It's okay to cry and to hurt. At the end of the day, God is holding your heart and helping you journey on.

I'm so thankful that on this day God let my husband and I be a help to others. I'm so glad that we were able to comfort those who are hurting too. I'm so thankful for each of you.

Please read on as God continues to heal my heart and helps me to have a story to tell. Please pray with me that my daughter's life will continue to touch others lives here on this earth. She may no longer be here to tell her story, but I will tell it for her.


Thank you, Natalie

Lamentations 3:40-41 Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord. Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the Heavens.