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March 31, 2011

Planting and watering... Maddie's minsitry continues...

3/28/11 (continued)

This afternoon in my devotions I was reading out of 1 Corinthians. I read chapter 2 and 3, and it was in chapter three, that something spoke to me.

I read verse 6 which is as follows.

I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.

Then I read on...

1Cr 3:7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.

9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.

10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.

11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

I love this passage of scripture and I love what it means.

I LOVE how God works.

As I was struggling on this day and searching out the heart of God, this was the passage He lead me too.

When I first read it, I thought, I really have a job to do.

I want to plant, I want to help water. I want to see God give the increase. This is what I live for. I want to be a part of the ministry of the Lord. And as the verses go on and talk about how we are laborers together with God, I got encouraged. I'm working with and for the Lord.

He is doing a great work, and I'm helping. I love the thought of that.

It only takes one person to plant the seed.
It takes one person to lay the foundation.

And from that, something beautiful can grow.
Something beautiful can start building up.

I got encouraged as I read, but it was what happened later in the day that really got to me.

I received a message from a sweet friend of Rick and mine. She wrote to me and told me some really amazing news. (It's wonderful how God gives you exactly what you need when you need it. =)

Her sweet husband and her came to Maddie Grace's funeral back on 1/11. She said that since, God has really been working and convicting her husbands heart. Yesterday,(Sunday morning) she said that her Husband went to the altar and got saved. He got SAVED! =)

These were some of the words she typed me, and I just had to share...

"God laid it on my heart to share this with you as one more precious soul will be able to see Maddie once again in Heaven. Praise the Lord!! I truly believe that your sweet baby girl played a huge part in him (her husband) coming to know the Lord. I believe that God used that night to plant the first seed and has been working in my Husband's life ever since."

(CHILLS)

My daughter... the missionary.... And the gardener... =)

Isn't it amazing that she used the words, "plant the first seed."

Wow, I can see God's hand in that! I was just reading about it from His Word earlier on this day.

He is so good!

I'm in tears as I type.

I know that Maddie's little life will continue to work like this.

I know that Maddie's ministry will continue for years to come. God has such a great plan. Heaven is gaining more soul's for eternity. We have such a job to do.

I will just keep on planting and watering, and telling Maddie's story.

And we will watch as God gives the increase... What a beautiful work.

Praise the Lord!!!

March 30, 2011

God is faithful...

3/28/11(Monday)

I woke up this morning feeling pretty sad, and I am doing my best to have a positive attitude today.

Some mornings I just don't feel happy. I guess that's okay. I know I have so much to be thankful for, and I am, but I really just miss Maddie.

I walked by her room again this morning, and for the first time, I pulled her door almost closed. I guess for a while, I felt like I was trying to shut her out if I closed the door, but I'm realizing as more time goes by the sadder I get seeing it empty. I just wish she could have enjoyed it. =(


We put her little bassinet in there after she passed away, and everytime I walk by and see it with her little blanket drapped over the side, I want to cry. I want to walk in there and pick her up out of there, and rock her and kiss her. I just feel like it's a constant reminder and it breaks my heart.

So, as I pulled the door (almost) closed, I thought, Okay Lord, I need you.

He then reminded of the message I heard preached on Sunday, God is faithful.

God is faithful.

As I sat in the service Sunday morning with my sweet Husband and family, knowing that we all still have broken hearts, I was thankful.

I'm thankful for the Bible and for the words that my Pastor preached.

God is faithful.

When my heart is overwhelmed and I don't feel like I can possibly go on another day, God is faithful. He loves me, He sent His Son for me. He saved me.

There have most definately been times in my life that I have been let down. There have been times I have definitely been dissapointed and hurt. But one thing I know for sure is this...

What God says He will do, He will.
The promises He gives, He will fulfill.
God is faithful.

When I struggle and fail, and I do so often. I know that God is still faithful. So often, I am reminded to cling to the One who can carry me through.

Rick and I have truly seen God's faithful hand everyday since January the 8th. He has taken care of us and given us strength every single day. We are still moving forward, every day. He has felt our pain in the night, and sent comfort to us. He has held us up during the day and given us the strength to go on. He has loved us as we hurt and He has hurt with us.
I truly believe that.

I have been asked a few times since Madeline passed away, why I wasn't mad at God for taking my daughter. I told them the same thing I said at Maddie's funeral that night. He allowed me to have her and love her. He blessed me with carrying her through my pregnancy. He let me feel complete love for 2 days. How can I be mad about that?

We prayed for her and asked God for her, and He gave her to us. Then when we found out we were expecting, we gave Her back to Him. I do not regret that. I never will.

I believe that the children we are given is at the mercy of God. And if He decides to give us more, which we are praying He does, we will be grateful. He knows. He is faithful.

For that, we will be forever grateful. I will never question the hand of God. He knows all things.

I can't see all the reasons now. I don't know why Maddie needed to go to Heaven in less than two days of life here, but God does. And as I've stated before, she served her life's purpose in that short amount of time.

I honestly am in awe so often of the way that her little life has touched people. It has been so amazing.

I still receive letters and messages, every day. I am so thankful that her little life will be remembered and used for many years to come. I'm so proud of her.

God has been faithful.

He has helped Rick and I to move forward, never forgetting, always remembering, but using this trial for the good.

Our goal is to be faithful to the Lord, the way He has been to us.

I fail so often to be what I need to be, and I feel like since I've been going through this trial, it's much easier to fail. And I could say, well, I have an excuse because of the pain and heartache I've endured.

But, I feel like right now, God can really use me more. He's using Maddie's story to do so...

I want Him to get the glory while I am going through this hard time.


If the glory goes anywhere but to Him, it's going to the wrong place. I know this.

One thing the Pastor mentioned that really resonated with me was this.

Our jobs expect us to be faithful.

Our spouses expect us to be faithful.

Everything that we do in this life, we should do fully and to the best of our ability with faithfulness.

God wants us to be faithful too.

God wants us to be faithful to Him and this is what I'm striving to do.

So, as He is so faithful to me, my prayer is that I can be faithful to Him. He is God, and He is good.

1 Corinthians 1:9
(9) God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
Sweet Maddie Grace on 1/7/11

March 29, 2011

Being a blessing...

3/26/11

Well, we seemed to have recovered from being sick for the most part. It was a LONG week of sickness, and I'm so very thankful that everyone is finally feeling better.

We stayed in Friday night to give the boys time to recuperate. They were still both running fevers, so it was nice enjoying family time, and snuggling them on the couch.

My boys are so snuggly when they are sick, and are definitely Mama's boys. I'm not complaining about this at all. I love it.

After we put them to bed, I was struggling and was really missing Madeline.

My mind won't let me forget those moments I had pictured for so many months. I always do feel like someone is constantly missing, and she is.
I just wish she could have been home with us that night, making sweet memories with us on the couch.

So, as I pondered these things, I was having a hard time.

I was a little bummed too, because I was supposed to have gone to a Ladies retreat with my sweet friend Jenny that day. Since the boys and I weren't feeling well, I couldn't go.

I knew that it would have been good for me to hear the speakers and their stories, so I was a upset that I couldn't make it. I hadn't really been out of the house all week and was really looking forward to going, and being encouraged.

On her way home, Jenny called me to check on me and tell me how it went.
I went upstairs to talk to her, and I completely broke down. I was telling her how much I was missing Maddie and how I just wanted to hold her again. I was sobbing on the phone.

Jenny completely understood, she loved Maddie too and being the Mommy of two little girls, it really hits close to home for her.

Jenny and I have been friends since freshman year of college. We were in each others weddings and have been there when each other's babies were born.
She was by my side at each of my boy's births, and she was with me when Maddie Grace was born. She took the video of everyone giving "well wishes" and caught some amazing footage of my sweet girl in her first moments of life. I'm so happy that she took that video and that I have it to cherish.

Mine and Jenny's husbands are best friends too, and we have so many wonderful memories of the four of us. (and if you count her girls and my boys, the 8 of us :)

Nick has been such a blessing and rock for Rick in the last 2 1/2 months, and we honestly feel so blessed to have good friends like them in our lives. They are the best.

After letting me cry, Jenny encouraged me.

She was telling me about some of the things the speaker was saying that night. She told me about all the trials she had been through in her life.

She met her husband in bible college, and after two years he cheated on her. They restored their relationship and after 10 years of marriage, they were unsuccessful getting pregnant. They looked into adoption at this point and were going to adopt a child, but the birth mom changed her mind after the baby was born. Then they finally adopted a set of twins, born at 27 weeks old. They were 2 lbs each. Three weeks after the little boy was born, he had to have heart surgery.

So, as you can see, she had quite a story.

Then, Jenny said that she said this.... (and I'm paraphrasing here) When we are able to take the focus off of ourselves, and pour our lives into someone else, and mentor that person; then we can be a blessing.

We, in return are the ones who are blessed, and this will lessen our own hurt, and the problems we are going through...

Wow! What great advice from a lady who had been through so much. Her words were so encouraging, and so true.

I know that whenever I'm out and about and busy with someone else, I'm not constantly thinking about my pain and sorrow. Especially on Sundays, when I'm busy teaching my girls and pouring everything God has given me into them, I'm happy. I feel blessed.

I've decided to try to make this a goal in my weekly routine. I'm going to try to just pour myself in others, including (you) who are reading here now.

I want to be a blessing, and in return, I know I will feel blessed.

There is no greater place to put an investment, than into someone else's life. Especially into the eternity of someone else's life. I want to point people towards the Lord and towards Heaven. I have so much waiting for me there. I want others to know that they have the same.

If I can spend my days trying to encourage and uplift someone else, then I'm sure I will feel good in return. I always feel good when I'm doing something for someone else.

I mean, yes, I could totally throw myself a pretty good pity party ever day, and many of you would probably come to it for me. =)

But, I don't want to live my life like that. Maddie Grace is happy, and I want to be too.

So, today my prayer is that the Lord will make me a blessing in the lives' of others. I want God to use me to bless someone else's life, and I hope that He will.


Genesis 12:2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:

Jenny, Maddie and I at my Baby Shower

Waiting for Maddie Grace to arrive

Little Miss Maddie Grace. I wish I had a picture of Jenny holding her.



Make me a Blessing

Make me a blessing, make me a blessing;
Out of my life may Jesus shine.
Make me a blessing, O Saviour I pray,
Make me a blessing to someone today.
Tell the sweet story of Christ and His love,
Tell of His pow'r to forgive;
Others will trust Him if only you prove
True every moment you live.


Make me a blessing, make me a blessing;
Out of my life may Jesus shine.
Make me a blessing, O Saviour I pray,
Make me a blessing to someone today.
Give as 'twas given to you in your need,
Love as the Master loved you;
Be to the helpless a helper indeed,
Unto your mission be true.

Make me a blessing, make me a blessing;
Out of my life may Jesus shine.

March 28, 2011

I thought of you...

Maddie Grace, you'll always be in my heart.

I thought of you...

I thought of you with love today, but that is nothing new.

I thought about you yesterday, and days before that too.

I think of you in silence, I often speak your name.

All I have are memories and a picture in a frame.

Your memory is a keepsake, with which I'll never part.

God has you in His keeping, I have you in my heart.


~ New post tomorrow. Sorry, I've been taking care of sick babies and a sick self. We are finally starting to feel better.

March 25, 2011

Finding strength for the battle...

3/23/11

The last two days have been a complete roller coaster ride for my family and I, and to be honest, I've had a hard time coming up with something "positive" to get on here and say today.

I guess this week I have reached my low once again, and I'm trying my best to pull myself back up.

From phone calls concerning my hospital bills from Maddie's delivery, and phone calls closing up on Madeline's files. To emails from Baby center and baby junk mail coming to the house everyday, I've become a bit of a mess this week.

I haven't been able to escape it. I can't forget at all what I've been through. I have to go through this pain, day in and day out. It's right there in front of me constantly.

I've gone to the Lord for sustenance, and He's provided. But I still hurt so very much.

Then as my family all got sick this week, including me, I've had a set back. I feel like the sickness along with the other things I've mentioned are starting to wear on me. I feel weak and exhausted and I was beginning to feel at my breaking point, and so was Rick.

It was in that moment, in the dark with tears in our eyes, that we realized just how weak we really are. In that moment we realized just how humanly physically exhausted we really are.

It's been 10 weeks of putting on our brave face for our boys.
10 weeks of trying to fit back into the life we used to live.
10 weeks of being a family of 4 again.
10 weeks since we held and kissed our sweet baby girl.

It's been 10 weeks too long.

Everyday I feel like she's slipping farther and farther away from me. And she is...

Yet, everyday, I'm moving closer to being with her again.

It's hard. Oh so very hard.

No one can prepare their heart for this kind of pain. There are not words to describe it. Just pure agony day in and day out.

But...

I am so thankful for the Lord, because day in and day out I continue to run to Him and cling to Him.

He knows my prayers before I pray them. He knows my heart before I pour it out. He knows how many tears I cry. He knows my pain and He knows my sorrows.

He loves me.

At my weakest, sickest , most awful vulnerable state. He loves me.

He calms my heart when questions arise and he sends his sweet peace down to me. He puts His arms around me and whispers "It's okay, I'm here."

And He is.

Oh I don't know what Rick and I would do without the Lord. He is our Rock and our Salvation, our shelter from the storm, our song in the night. He is our Comforter.

I'm so very thankful that He is.

As I type here now, I am trembling from pain and exhaustion, and yet there is still such a sweet presence with me. I know the Lord is nigh. He walks with me everyday. He has never left me since my sweet Baby girl left my arms for His. She went to Him.

What a comfort that brings to my grieving heart. What a reminder of God's goodness in the midst of darkness and pain. She is with Him.

I may be weak and I am, but my Lord is my strength.

I am reminded of my husband's message that he preached on Sunday night, as he quoted the following scripture.

Matthew 26:41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

This same passage of scripture that Rick preached from is the same one that has been on our hearts this week.
For the spirit is willing...
But our flesh is weak....

We know what we need to do to stay strong. It's what we have been doing. We read our Bibles, go to Church, witness to the Lost, love our boys. This is how we heal.

Our spirit is willing. We know what to do. We know how to survive in this new life we are living, and we have even had days of pure happiness and joy since.

But, since our flesh is weak, every little reason why and reminder can get us down. We can start to feel defeated, and when we get to this place, that is when Satan tries to get in and get the victory...

It's not going to happen. There is too much good coming out of this.
And as my Mom Vicky just told me "We've just got to get our boxing gloves on, and fight a little harder," that's what I'm going to do.

I'm going to fight harder.
Pray harder.

My flesh might be weak, but the spirit of God in me can win any battle.

I'm going to win!

So, as I'm feeling a little defeated on this day, will you pray with me?
I could really use your prayers. I need strength for this battle.
The battle that has become my life.
The battle for happiness in the midst of sorrow.
The battle of setting an example for my precious boys.
The battle of love and life and the right now.

Oh Lord, please give me the strength for this battle in my life that I need to overcome. I give all the glory, honor and praise to You.

Psalm 73:26
My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.


March 24, 2011

The storms of life...

3/21/11

My sweet friend Kelsey sent me this quote and I wanted to share it with all of you.

"You may never learn to enjoy the storm, but you can learn to enjoy God's presence IN the storm."

How true is that?

I think so often about the storms of life and especially now that I'm walking through one myself. There have been times that I looked up and felt like on the outside I look and maybe seem completely normal, but on the inside I'm still in the middle of the storm.

There is never a moment of the day that Madeline is not on my heart and mind. She is constantly in my thoughts. Yet, I am trying so hard to come through this storm, with strength from the Lord.

I am still hurting, 10 weeks later. My heart is still broken. I still cry every day. But, I am not alone. So many people are hurting too. So many people are in the the eye of the storm.

Many of you have written me and told me your stories. I'm so thankful that as I write here and share my stories with you, you are writing and sharing yours with me. It means so much. Feel free to write me, I love to read your hearts.

It is evident that so many people are hurting, not just me. I have learned this and I am praying for so many of you.

What is it in your life?

Have you lost a child or are you struggling to have one?

Are you going through a divorce?

Is a loved one sick?

Did an adoption fall through?

Do you suffer from chronic pain?

Are you struggling to make ends meet?

Are you unsure of your future?


There are so many struggles. The list goes on and on.

And as I am getting older, there seems to be so many more storms entering the lives of the ones I love. There seem to be more in my life. And honestly, they seem to be all over the world.

It's in those moments, that I'm thankful that I know the One who can bring me thorough the storm. And I CAN enjoy His presence while I'm there.

As I listen to the rain hitting the window right now, I'm thankful that I'm safe and inside. The elements are not able to touch me because I'm under shelter.

God is our shelter from the storm. He is our hiding place.

I was listening to a CD that Heidi had made for me and I heard this song on there that really touched me. The chorus goes...

God sees the storm from the other side
He knows the lessons learned
And just beyond the clouds He sees clear skies
He speaks peace to the raging storm
When peace cannot be found
He already sees the rainbow when we see only clouds

And when the storms of life come crashing in and trouble me
I can feel God's arms around me and He whispers
Let it be, Let it be.
My prayer is that a beautiful rainbow is forming thorugh this trial in my life.

We don't always understand why we are going through these storms and we will never enjoy these storms. But, once we get through them, we can look back and remember we did make it through.

So, while your going through it, just trust in the Lord and enjoy His presence in the storm. He is holding you...... and me.

Psalm 46
1God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

2Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

3Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

March 22, 2011

Mommy, I miss Maddie...

3/15/11

Today Noah told me he missed Maddie.

Then he asked me to play "I will carry you."

This broke my heart. My sweet little boy misses his sister and there is nothing I can do about it. He looked so forward to her arrival and couldn't wait to "take care" of her and be my big helper. I think he was almost as excited about her coming as I was. And now he just misses her.

He brings her name up a few times a week, but this time he really showed emotion. As I turned the song on for him, I asked him why he wanted to hear it. I watched him as his little eyes filled up with tears and he said "I just miss her, Mommy."

I looked at him, his sweet little innocent sad face. Those little freckles sprinkled across his nose and those long eyelashes. He is filled with such pure innocence, yet he feels such heartache too.

I thought back to the day of Madeline's funeral. It was a day that I never expected to come as long as I lived. No parent ever expects to burry a child. I remember even in the midst of all of my grief how worried I was about my boys. I didn't know how much they understood or what they would remember. I didn't really even know what to say to them, except the truth; Maddie is in Heaven. I didn't know how much this would affect them.

Today, I realized just how much it did.

My sweet little Noah is sad, because he misses his baby sister. The little sister we talked about for months before she was born. The one that he helped me prepare for and was excited for.

I hate that even he is hurting. My heart broke all over again as I watched him today. There is nothing worse than seeing your child in pain and knowing that you can't take it away and make it better.

We sat and listened to the words together and I cried.

So I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All my life
And I will praise the one who`s chosen me
To carry you...

I told Noah that I was happy that he was thinking of Maddie and it's good to talk about her when we miss her. I want him to always know she is a part of this family. I want my boys to grow up knowing that she was here, and just how much we all loved her. I hope they will always hold her in their hearts too.

I kissed his sweet little cheek and we listened some more.

I wonder if he relates this song so much to her because he heard it at her funeral. I wonder if he's heard me listen to it and seen me cry.

I wonder.

You never know just how much will affect a child. On this day, I realized just how much it affected Noah. He missed Maddie too.

If there was a make it all better button I could push, I would. No mother wants to see her child hurting. I just hate that my sweet little boy was feeling like this on this day.

Oh how different things would be if none of this had ever happened and she was here, growing up with two big brothers. It's a picture of perfection in my mind. A picture I painted over and over in my thoughts.
And yet, it was never enjoyed.

How can I comfort his heart when he says, "Mommy, I miss Maddie?" I wish I had the perfect answer. I wish I knew how to make it all better, but I don't. So, I point him to the One who does. I tell him more about God and we talk about how wonderful Heaven will be when we get there one day. I'm so thankful for this. I'm thankful that my boys are growing up in Church and learning about the One who has has our Maddie Grace with Him. This gives us all comfort.

I'm so thankful for the promise of Heaven. I say that all the time, I know, but I am. I can't imagine the thought of never seeing my daughter again. I know that I will because I believe the Word of God.

My little boy is watching us. He is looking up to his Mommy and Daddy and that is convicting to me. I want him to see the strength God has given. I don't want to fall apart, and let my son see that Mommy is defeated. I think it's okay for him to see us sad, knowing we miss Maddie Grace, but it's so important that we stay strong for our boys. They need us.

I have such a job to do with my children. I have to comfort them, love them, and teach them. That means in the good and the bad, I have to show them the way.

Later that day I found Maddie's pacifier on Noah's dresser. He had been looking at it that day. I walked by Maddie's room and saw her little dolls and blankets had been moved. The boys had put them in the crib and covered them with blankets. This broke my heart. I wish I could take away their pain.

Please pray that Rick and I will continue to teach and train our boys in the right way. In the times that I don't know what to say, please pray that the words will come.

Even in sorrow, I still have such a job to do. My prayer is that I can teach my boys the ways of Lord. They are growing up and I want them to love the Lord and know that He is good.

One day, Noah and Elijah will be the parents of children of their own. I hope when they tell their children about their little sister, they can say that their Mommy and Daddy stayed strong and trusted God. I also pray that when times get tough in their lives, they will go to God as well, knowing that He will take care of them.

Thank you Lord for giving me this job to do. I do not take it lightly and my prayer is that I will raise these babies up in you. Thank you for giving them to me.

Psalm 78:4-7
That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children:
That they might set their hope in God and not forget the works of God but keep his commandments.

March 21, 2011

I have been blessed...

3/14/11

This was a really special day for us.

Since Rick had been busy working at the Church all weekend, he decided to take Monday off to spend with the boys and I.

I was so thankful for this.

My sweet husband is the hardest working man I have ever seen. He is amazing.

He works 2 full time jobs to provide for our family, and this enables me to stay home with the boys. They have never had to go to childcare or daycare, but have been with Mommy since they were born.

It has been such a sacrifice for Rick to work so much, but we are so lucky that he does. I have been able to spend every precious moment of my boys lives with them. I didn't even realize at first, just how lucky I was.

Before Maddie went to Heaven, I think I took this opportunity for granted. Now, I am so grateful for this and I try to remind myself just how hard Rick works for us everyday, to give me this opportunity. I don't want to miss a moment. I love being a Mom and I'm thankful for how good Rick is to me and our children. We are blessed.

So, since he took the day off, we decided to take the boys out to my Grandparent's farm and let them try out their new Christmas gift; their four wheeler. It was all the boys had talked about since Christmas when they opened it, and they were just waiting for good weather so they could go ride.

So, as soon as Noah got off school we were off on our adventure.

We headed to the farm to spend this "first" with Noah and Eli.
Of course, as Mama I worry, but I'm am happy to say that this particular four wheeler has a remote control where we can sound an alarm or shut it off if they start going to fast.

Phew, whoever thought of that was genius. =)

So we bundled the boys up and got their helmets on them. Well, actually they are Rick's old motorcycle helmets and they were huge on the boys. (See funny pictures below :)
We really need to get them some of their own. lol

Elijah Braden(age 3) and the "huge" helmet
Noah Riley (age 5) I can't believe how big he looks. =(
Rick teaching the boys how to ride...
Noah and Eli having fun!

The boys were loving it! They were flying all over the yard and out in the field. They were going through the mud and just laughing and smiling. They were happy and they were just being boys. It melted my heart.

I was so happy to see Noah and Elijah just loving life.

They didn't have a care in the world.

No heartache.

No pain.

It was just them on that four wheeler, headed out into an open field.
I was watching Rick chase after them and laughing with them as they were having so much fun. It really touched me.

I got to thinking as I watched them.

I remember standing there the day we bought them that four wheeler.
I was 8 months pregnant with Madeline and I was so anxious for her arrival.
I thought about how the boys would be going out to ride their four wheeler, and Maddie and I would be sitting somewhere watching them.

I was excited because Rick would now have his "boy stuff" and Maddie and I would be doing our "girlie" things.

Not that I don't have some tomboy in me, I totally do. I grew up riding four wheelers and I could fly. Usually, I was the one throwing people off. Haha. I loved it.

But, I always could picture these sweet little girlie moments with me and Maddie. I was looking forward to tea parties. I wanted to have Disney Princess Marathons. I couldn't wait to get our first pedicures together. I was looking forward to putting her in gymnastics and cheerleading.

I wanted to watch her love life. I was looking so forward to hearing her first laugh. There were so many moments I couldn't wait to experience with her.

And here, I sat watching my boys without her. My heart sunk.

I won't be enjoying those moments down here with sweet Maddie Grace.

I took a walk and just cried. I cried out to God and I talked to Him and and I talked to Maddie. I missed her so much in that moment.

I wish she could have been there in my arms watching her big brothers fly by us.

I wish I could've seen her Daddy walk by and kiss her on the head as he went on chasing the boys. I wish we could've had a little "girlie" chat while we were watching. There are so many things I wish.

But, in that moment of wishing and wanting, I realized something.

I looked at my boys and Rick enjoying such a special moment, and I decided instead of sulking and wishing away that moment, to just enjoy it too.

I ran after the boys and laughed with them. I took a video of their "first time" riding together. I watched them as they threw mud all over the place. I watched as they were so happy and full of life.

And it was in that moment, I could see Maddie.

She was there with us. She was in Eli's bright eyes and cute lips. She was there in Noah's long face and dimpled chin. She was in Ricks dark hair and gorgeous face.

She's us. All of us. And she was there.

I'm so thankful for this.

I can still see her beautiful eyes looking at us all, and I know that she loved us. And I know that she knows, we loved her.

I thanked God that day. I didn't complain about the things I don't have, but focused on the things that I do.

I thanked God for my sweet Husband who took a day off to spend with his family and make precious memories.

I thanked Him for my sweet little boys who are so full of life and love, and who love me like there is no tomorrow.

I thanked Him for the short but precious moments I shared with Maddie on that thursday and friday in January.

You know it's funny, my heart hurts so very badly everyday, and yet,
I still feel so blessed. I really still have so very much to be thankful for!

God has blessed me beyond all measure.

I truly do not deserve all the wonderful things He has given me, but I'm sure thankful He has.

"I have been blessed, God's been so good to me.

Precious are his thoughts of you and me.

No way I could count them, there's not enough time.

So I'll just thank Him for being so kind.

God has been good, so good. I have been blessed!"
My Maddie Grace~ 2 hours old. She was miss personality already. =)

March 18, 2011

Just Trust...

3/13/11

Today was a Sunday. I love Sundays. I truly look so forward to them and I just wait to see what God has in store, to carry me through the upcoming week.

This week He had a lot.

Can I just encourage you that if you don't attend Church or have a Church home, you should find one. My Church is my other family, and some days I don't know what I would do without them. Especially when I'm going through a hard time in my life, like now.

So as I headed to Church this Sunday morning, I was feeling pretty good. It had been a nice encouraging weekend. I taught my class and made my way downstairs, eager to hear what my Pastor was going to preach on that day.

Just before the service, the sweetest thing happened.

Our Deacon walked to the pulpit and started to make an announcement.
He started telling the Church that our family (Rick's sister's Annette and Becky along with their husbands, and Rick's Mom and Dad) wanted to do something to honor our Madeline. So, they ordered new hymn books with a dedication to Maddie on the front of them.

Wow! What an honor!

He presented one of these precious hymnals to Rick and I in front of the congregation, and made mention of our sweet girl.

Rick and I were both in tears(of course) but it was so special for us.

I don't think there could be a more special way to honor our precious little girl. Rick and I were so encouraged and with this wonderful blessing.

Rick and I thought she would be musical and maybe a singer because of all the "bird" signs God gave me in my pregnancy.(that and the fact that Rick and Annette are amazing singers :)They would never admit it, but they are both so good!

Anyway, we will never know, but I am sure that her beautiful voice is ringing all over Heaven. Oh, I can't wait until the day that I can hear her sing.

Down here, she will be remembered as we sing unto God the hymns that were written for His praise.

I love the idea of that. =)

Here's a picture of the new Hymn book.

It says "In honor of Madeline Grace Ross"

I LOVE IT! Thank you Annette, Adam, Becky, Joel, Mom and Dad.
Rick and I will be forever grateful that you have done this for us.


So... After I pulled myself together, I was ready to see how else God was going to speak to me that morning.

My Pastor preached about David out of Psalms 143, and of course it was EXACTLY what I needed to hear. =)

His message was on "How to get the Victory."

Some of the things he mentioned, I just had to share with all of you because they helped me so much...

The verse starts out with David asking God... Psalms 1: Hear my prayer, O Lord, give ear to my supplications: in thy faithfulness answer me, and in thy righteousness..


That is my prayer too. I love this chapter. I listened as he read..


[2] And enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.

[3] For the enemy hath persecuted my soul; he hath smitten my life down to the ground; he hath made me to dwell in darkness, as those that have been long dead.


This next verse really resonated with me.


[4] Therefore is my spirit overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is desolate.

[5] I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands.

[6] I stretch forth my hands unto thee: my soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land. Selah.


And I also pray this so often...


[7] Hear me speedily, O LORD: my spirit faileth: hide not thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit.

[8] Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.


I want to know this Lord, teach me the way I should walk.

[9] Deliver me, O LORD, from mine enemies: I flee unto thee to hide me.


This is also my prayer.

[10] Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.

[11] Quicken me, O LORD, for thy name's sake: for thy righteousness' sake bring my soul out of trouble.

[12] And of thy mercy cut off mine enemies, and destroy all them that afflict my soul: for I am thy servant.


What a passage! What beautiful words.

I know I don't usually share a whole passage of scripture, but this one is just too wonderful to leave any verses out.

I love the prayers that David prayed.

I love how human he was.

I love that He kept going back to God, over and over again.

I love that he asked for direction.

I love that he asked for help.

I love that he said "I AM" thy servant.

I feel like everything that was written here is so much of how I feel so often. As my Pastor went over all these different things, I was learning just how to get the victory.

He was showing us in the scripture, what David used to help him. And in doing so, it helped me tremendously.

One thing he said that really stuck with me was this...
"When you learn to trust God, you can be victorious!"

What a statement! It is something I know, yet have failed to do so often.

Just Trust!

Trust God in everything.

He is trusting me enough to go through this, so I need to trust Him to carry me.

No, it's not easy, but it's much easier if I'm trusting in the only One who can get me through.

Yet, so many days, I try to blame myself. I try to carry myself, just to bring me to the place where I have to go back to God.

I was learning once again, to trust.

Just Trust.

God has a great plan for my life, I know. And some days when people ask me how I'm getting through, there is only ever one answer.

It's all God, all the time.

I just have to trust in Him that He loves me, and He has a perfect plan for me. I already know this is true.

I know that may be hard to read, but it's true. Of course my plan wouldn't have been to let go of my daughter, but, His plan is best.

I wonder sometimes if I was spared from something worse down the road. I just don't know. Sometimes God's ways are just past finding out. Believe me, I've tried. I have had so many questions, but now I've learned that I won't get the answers, until Heaven.

I don't want to live a defeated life, I want to be victorious.

I'm so glad that on this Sunday, my Pastor showed me how to.

Through the life of David, I'm learning just how to be victorious, and just how much I need to trust in God.

What a blessing.

God really worked in my heart through this passage of scripture. I hope He worked in yours too.

I'm so thankful for Church and the Bible. They are such an encouragement and a comfort in my life.

God is good.

Always, God is good. I'm so thankful that I have my trust in Him.

And I hope that you do too. =)

March 17, 2011

Just a normal day...

3/12/11

This was by far my best Saturday since Maddie Grace passed away.

I woke up to the sun shining and the birds chirping. I couldn't help but think of Maddie and smile. I know that God was letting her sing to me through those little birdie's outside my window. It was the most beautiful and sweetest sound.

I miss hearing her noises and I would give anything to hear her cry, but hearing the birds chirp gives me such peace and comfort. They remind me so much of my sweet birdie girl.

Since we lost Maddie Grace on a Saturday morning, I really struggle with Saturday's. This was the first one that I woke up feeling okay, and that I was going to be alright. I spent the morning doing normal things...The boys were helping me clean up the house after breakfast, and we were having fun being together.

Rick was up at the Church working on our new sound system, so it was just the boys and I for the day.

I had music playing as we spent the morning hanging out at the house. My Mom had called and asked me to go to lunch and I was excited to spend some time with her.

We decided to go to lunch at Cracker Barrel. It was nice sitting and chatting with my Mom and enjoying time with her and the boys.

My sweet Mom misses Maddie so much too. My heart breaks when I see her talk of her and cry about just how much she misses her. Madeline was her first granddaughter that she lookes so forward to. So sad. I know that my Mom would have loved every second of having Maddie around, I don't think she would have ever left my house. =) She most definitely had her so spoiled before she even arrived. Then at the hospital, she showered her with more gifts and love. It was precious. Here is a picture of the three of us, it's one of my faves...

After lunch we were browsing through the gift shop and looking at all the birdie decor. I have a lot of it, but we were picking up a few more things. I've been redecorating my kitchen with birds, birdhouses and bird cages. It's turning out really cute.

One thing I love is having things that remind me of Madeline all over the house. That way, I feel like she is always remembered in everything. I love to see the things that people have given me and sent me. I'm so lucky to have such wonderful people in my life.

After I had a nice time with my Mom at lunch and we did a little shopping, we headed back to meet up with Rick.

We had planned a double date night with some friends from our Church, Keith and Whitney. I was really looking forward to spending some time with my husband and our friends, and I was hoping our evening with them would keep me cheered up.

We decided to go to Soho (a yummy Japanese Steakhouse). I highly recommend it by the way. =) lol

While we were waiting, we slipped over to do some more shopping at Pier 1. If you haven't noticed by now, I like to shop. =) I'm just now wanting to do it again, I've had a hard time shopping since Maddie Grace passed away. I just didn't have the desire to do something I loved so much, without her. I had dreamed of the two of us taking girlie shopping trips together. That, and seeing such sweet little girl things everywhere, just made it hard for me to go out. But as I'm healing, this is getting much easier.

One thing about Rick and I that you may not know yet is this; we are very silly and random, and we love to have a good time. So while we were in Pier 1 waiting for our reservation, we decided to see who could find the most random object in the store.

Rick found a rooster with strange dangling legs. Keith found a HUGE vase looking thing. I found a metal dog/sheep animal, and Whitney found a glass head that looked like an upside down jar. She totally won! It was the most random thing I've ever seen. They really have some strange things in that store, and I wish I had pictures of our little scavenger hunt. It was hilarious!

Before we left, Whitney had snuck off and picked up some special things for me, and of course they were birds. She's always finding little ways to be such a blessing to me.

Is it just me or are birds totally in everywhere? I feel like every time I turn around, I see things with birds on them and I don't ever remember seeing them so much. Maybe I just wasn't looking for them. Wow- bunny trail.

Anyway =)

Whitney takes every opportunity to honor my girl and I love her for it. She wears a necklace in honor of Maddie with her name and birth date on it. She talks to me about my girl and always makes me smile. She is always going so out of her way to make me feel so loved, and it encourages me so very much.

I was so glad to be out to dinner with them that night. I was so thankful to be out treating two precious people who have helped Rick and I in ways they never could imagine. We love them.

I see a lot of myself in her when I was that age. Her desire to serve God and love others, and the drive that her and Keith have to be used in the Ministry for the Lord. I see great things for the two of them and I'm honored to be a part of their lives. It makes me so happy to see some of our teens now growing up and making such a mark in this world. God is using them in a great way.

So as we sat at dinner that night, enjoying a meal and chatting, I couldn't help but smile. It felt normal. Yes, my heart still is completely broken, but I felt like a piece of me was starting to come back.

I remember giggling and laughing and just enjoying myself. So often, I feel so guilty if I do either of these things, but that night, it felt good. I felt happy.

As we drove home and talked about the things we had been through and Keith and Whitney just listened, I thought "Okay, Lord, Your allowing it to get easier, a little at a time; I'm feeling better and starting to heal."

It was just a normal day. I loved seeing the sun shining, spending time with my boys, eating lunch with my Mom, and having dinner with sweet friends.

Slowly, but surely things are starting to look up. Rick and I are finding the "new normal" we've talked about trying to find since Maddie Grace went to Heaven. I know there will most definitely still be "hard" days and I'm okay with that.

My arms are still empty and I ache for my little girl, but God is helping me to find my stride in learning to enjoy my days again. I'm feeling like I have my feet back on the ground and I'm learning how to find my way. Thank the Lord.

I'm so very thankful that on this Saturday, I felt good. I had a smile on my face and my Husband was by my side with a smile on his. I know this is what Maddie Grace would want. She's happy, and I know she wants us to be; we just miss her.

We went to bed that night encouraged.

My prayer is that my days will continue to get easier just like this one. Thank you God for such a good "normal" day!

March 16, 2011

The mustard seed...

3/9/11

Today was a hard day.

It was pouring down outside and I couldn't do anything but cry along with the rain. I read my Bible and cried. I read my devotional book and cried. I listened to music and yep you guessed it. I cried.

I was an emotional mess and couldn't really seem to snap out of it.

I read through the blog I had posted on this day(I'm still about a week behind) and I tried my best to follow my own advice, but I was lacking.

I wasn't feeling well and I even considered if I should just stay home from Church that evening, but I couldn't. I really don't like to miss Church, so I pressed forward and got the family ready.

I sat there and listened to the preaching and challenges given and I felt better, but it was what happened after Church that really helped me.

I went to walk out and my sweet friend Angel and her daughter Beverly stopped me. Remember me talking about them before? Maddie and her Crowns?

Anyway, Beverly held out a little gift to me, as Angel told me that God had laid it on Bevie's heart to get this for me.

Before I even opened it, I had a feeling that I knew what was inside that cute pink package.

Just the Sunday before, as I taught Beverly and the other girls in my class, I had mentioned the beautiful necklace that she was wearing. It was her Grandmother's(the one she was named after)and it was a precious reminder of her faith in God.

So as I peeked into the bag, I found another necklace. It was mustard seed inside of a teardrop hanging on a delicate little chain, and this one was was for me.

How perfect.

I looked up at Bevie and Angel with tears in my eyes and thanked them. I held them and thanked them. I told them how much this necklace meant to me, and I was honored that they got me one. We stood there crying as I admitted that this particular day had been a hard one, but in this moment I was feeling encouraged. I was missing Maddie so much, but I was feeling blessed.

For I had just taught my precious Sunday School girls about how they can be an encouragement at their young ages, and here one of them was doing just that. She was encouraging and uplifting the one who teaches her week after week.

What a blessing.

As I looked down at the necklace again, tears streaming down my cheeks, I read the words...

Mustard seed of Faith
...nothing shall be impossible.

I was reminded from this sweet 12 year old girl on this Wednesday evening, a very important lesson.

It is simply...

Nothing is impossible.

With God, all things are possible.

I can do this. With God, I can do this. I walked away that evening, having made it through another day. The tears had dried, and a smile emerged.

I am so thankful for this little reminder that I can wear around my neck.

I am not defeated.

Thank you God, for being a God of possibilities!


Matthew 17:20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.


Luke 1:37
For with God nothing shall be impossible.

Luke 18:27
And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.

Matthew 19:26
But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

Mark 10:27
And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.

Hebrews 11:6
But without faith it is 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.


Thank you Lord for your servants. Thank you Lord for your Word!

March 15, 2011

Putting the pieces back together...

3/8/11

Today I woke up to a challenge.

Well, I guess just living my life fully seems to be a challenge to me anymore, considering that part of my whole is always missing. But, this morning after I returned to the house from taking Noah to school, something happened.

I had openend up the coat closet and put away my coat, and as I shut the door, I heard a loud crash. I looked to my left and saw my beautiful wall art laying on the ground. It was a beautiful sign that my sweet friend Natalie had given me shortly after Madeline passed away, and it was something I cherished.

Now, it was laying on the tile entry way, in so many pieces.

I let out a "very" frustrated sigh and picked them up. I didn't want to throw them away because I truly adored this gift and it meant a lot to me.
So, I set the pieces on the counter and went on with my day, frustrated and discouraged.

I kept noticing as I would walk by occasionally doing my daily chores that it was still laying there, in all those pieces. It was bothering me.

So, I started to piece them back together.

At first, I figured it was a lost cause. I mean, who would want to look at something on the wall that had been broken and was covered with cracks,and that's when it dawned on me. When the cracks get in is when the light is shown.

As I puzzled the pieces together I noticed something. Out of the two words on the sign, one of the words was still completely whole. It was the word grace.

Grace.

A word that has such depth with me.

The word that is my daughter's middle name.

The word that has carried me through the last 2 months.

The word that reminds me of my salvation.

Grace.

The title of this very blog I am writing on right now.

I love this word. I loved that sign.

And as I stood in my kitchen putting the pieces back together, I was learning a lesson.

Again...

God's grace is always sufficient. His sweet sweet Amazing Grace.

My life may be a mess, and most days it most definately feels like one. But, God gives me grace. He gives me strength. He puts the pieces of my life back together every single day and makes me whole again.

So sometimes when our life feels like this...


God can reach down and do this....


Amazing.

Grace.


Thank you Lord for your grace and for the reminder that sometimes when we feel like all hope is lost, You're there to make us whole with you love.

Grace, grace. God's grace. Grace that is greater than all our sin.

This is my favorite hymn. It always has been, for so many years.

1. Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary's mount outpoured,
there where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.

Refrain:
Grace, grace, God's grace,
grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
grace, grace, God's grace,
grace that is greater than all our sin!

2. Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold,
threaten the soul with infinite loss;
grace that is greater, yes, grace untold,
points to the refuge, the mighty cross.
(Refrain)

3. Dark is the stain that we cannot hide.
What can avail to wash it away?
Look! There is flowing a crimson tide,
brighter than snow you may be today.
(Refrain)

4. Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
freely bestowed on all who believe!
You that are longing to see his face,
will you this moment his grace receive?
(Refrain)

Thank you God for your grace, and thank you Lord for my Maddie Grace.

March 14, 2011

Filling me up...

3/7/11

Today I found myself in Maddie's room.

I was touching and looking at all her things. I was holding the blanket that I bundled her up in the night before she passed away. I was smelling her "pink" shampoo that they used on her gorgeous hair at the hospital. I was running my fingers over the bassinet that she slept in just the one night. I was looking through the headbands and bows that she never had a chance to wear. Just remembering...

It just seems so sad that her beautiful room was never used, never enjoyed. Everything is still brand new and exactly where it was the day I left for the hospital. This breaks my heart over and over again.

I had so many visions of me rocking her in her chair. I pictured laying her in her crib and playing her mobile for her. I wanted to watch her sleep and dream.

I was looking forward to so many things that just never came to be. There were so many things I wanted to experience with her in there, and here it sits empty...

Maddie Grace's Room~






Isn't it beautiful? I loved every second of preparing her precious bedroom.

I love to go in there and think of her, and I cry so much when I think she never got to enjoy being here. That is when I have to remind myself, that she is in a much better place than this little room. She is in Heaven.

But, as I looked through her drawers and her closet, I was missing her. I was wondering, hoping and praying, so unsure of what my future holds. So in love with my sweet girl, who is no longer here with me.

My heart was heavy as I wept for her, and longed for her.

I stayed in prayer with the Lord the whole time I was in there. I was asking Him for strength and sustenance. I asked Him to kiss my sweet Maddie's cheeks and asked Him to tell her that I love her.

I'm so thankful that I know the One who is with my girl. I'm so thankful that I can talk to God and ask Him to tell her things for me. I'm so thankful for the promise of Heaven.

I know I think of Heaven everyday now, a place I never used to think of much at all. I wonder what she's doing up there. I wonder what she looks like now. So many questions, and so much silence.

Yet, I know one day I will understand all things, and so I keep on going.

As I was struggling on this day, I could tell Rick was struggling too. Maybe because yesterday she would have been 2 months old, maybe because He just aches to hold her too; I'm not sure. I just know that I hate that his his heart is broken right along with mine.

Some days I wish I could just bear all the pain of her not being here. She has touched so many hearts through her departure, especially Rick's. I can't help but think of how great he would have been with her, and how the love in her eyes for him would have continued to grow. She loved him.

The other day, Rick and I were talking about what it would have been like raising her. We wondered what she would have looked like now, what she would have been doing, and what we would have loved to do with her. So sad.

We were also wondering if we would ever have the opportunity to raise another little girl. We surely would love that opportunity, and we hope the Lord gives us one. If for no other reason, I just want it for Rick. My heart is broken for him.

I stayed in prayer all day as I waited for my boys to get up from nap, and I found myself holding onto them tight. I was letting them lay in my lap, and I was just brushing my fingers through their sweet hair. I was feeling their soft warm skin as I kissed on them for a while. There is nothing I enjoy more than snuggling them, even more so now. I love my babies.

Sometimes I find myself just looking at them, trying to take it all in, fearful of a future that is not in my hands.

I know everything is in the Lords hands and I'm thankful for that, but I fear the worst sometimes as a result of the grief I've endured. I just have to keep remembering that God's ways are always best, and I will make it through whatever He gives me in this life.

But, I'm going to be honest, some days it's just plain hard.

Never have I woke up one day since Maddie Grace went to Heaven, and had an easy day. The pain, the fear, the memories, they stay with me, everyday, it's a part of my life.

So, everyday, I go to God's word and I go to prayer.

I know God hears me and I know He loves me. I just have to constantly remember to make Him such a huge part of my life.

Madeline has taught me to have a better relationship with the Lord. Since she is no longer physically here with me in this life, I go to the one she is with. I talk to Him. I read of Him. I fill the time I would have spent "with her" now with Him.

I know I would've loved every second with her here with me, and since she can't be, I know that I need to fill those moments of emptiness with the only One who can fill me up. And He does.

I talk of God's grace and peace so often in these posts, but the truth of the matter is, that is the only thing that sustains me. He is helping me to keep going, day after day.

I don't know what the cure for emptiness is. I search and pray. I ask for God to fill me and He does.

Yet some days I still feel empty.

I know the reason why is because Madeline is missing from my life. Sometimes, I get completely overwhelmed thinking of facing the rest of my life without her. It's in those moments that I don't look at the BIG picture, but I just look at the today, the right now.

I am reminded of the song that asks for a filling,

"Fill my cup Lord, I lift it up, Lord!
Come and quench this thirsting of my soul;
Bread of heaven, Feed me till I want no more--
Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole!"

Everyday, I have to lift my cup up to the Lord. I have to ask him to fill it up and help me through the day. I have to ask Him to help me not get so overwhelmed when it starts to run dry, but remind myself to just lift it up again. He is sustaining my soul and making me whole.

Everyday, when I walk by my sweet girl's room and see it empty, I'll lift my cup again and ask God for more strength.

Everyday, when I see my husband's heart broken right along with mine, I'll lift it again and ask the Lord to fill us up.

And Everyday He will.

March 11, 2011

Her quilt is finished...

I love the way God works. At the times I'm not even thinking about it, He shows up in another way, with encouragement and love. He never ceases to amaze me. I'm so blessed by His love.

While I was still visiting in Knoxville, I had a unexpected visit from my sweet friend Edythe. She said she felt like she needed to come by and share some things with me, and wow did she ever.

Ever since Maddie Grace passed away, she has been inboxing me with sweet words of encouragment and hope. Madeline has touched her life in a great way and I'm so honored and proud of this!

She shared with me that she endures severe back pain every day of her life, and for the last 10 years of her life, she has really struggled with the pain and limitations it has caused. Then she shared that our story has impacted her so very deeply and changed her for the better. She said that God has used Maddie to free her from some personal bondage and He has strengthened her thourgh Maddie's testimony. She also told me that she will thank Maddie one day when she gets to Heaven, for helping her to be a better Christian and a better mother. (Tears) Isn't that sweet?

I stood there listening to all the precious things she had to say, and then she handed me a package. I held the box wondering what was inside, for I knew she said that she had this for a while, and was so glad to finally give it to me. I opened this sweetly wrapped gift and found tucked neatly inside the sweetest most wonderful thing.

It was a quilt, all wrapped up, and tied onto it was a little card with a birdie on the front.

The words inside read...

"In honor of Madeline Grace Ross, whose "quilt is finished" and whose "race is won," But whose memory will never be forgotten."

(CHILLS) What sweet words.

I looked at the quilt and saw the sweet birds and the words "Welcome Home" along the bottom.

I stood there crying and holding onto this sweet girl, who my little Madeline's life had touched in such a great way. What a blessing!

At that moment, I found myself in awe of the generosity and kindness of others, and I thought of the words "when one has a heartache, we all shed a tear." So true.

I stood there listening to Edythe tell me the numerous ways that sweet Maddie Grace has touched her life. I listened to the similarities in our lives and I saw Edythe's adorable belly, holding inside her sweet little girl that was due any day. I thought of her precious little boys at home who are exactly the same ages as mine.

I thought of how much she has to look forward to, and I cried as she told me about the pain she suffers through on a daily basis. The kind of pain that makes it hard to go on living some days. Wow, can I relate to that.

Sometimes life is just so hard.

But, then again, life is sweet.

I wonder often if I would go so out of my way for someone. I wonder if I would be one to send something, write something, or say something to someone else who is walking down a difficult road. I wonder if I would have had the compassion that I have been shown by so many others.

But really, it doesn't matter now.
Because I have learned how to.
Through Edythe, through my family and friends, and by all of you reading this now, I have learned to. I have learned to love others with such compassion and grace.

I'm so much more aware of peoples feelings, heartaches and trials now. When a prayer request is given, I pray. I really truly pray. I now know just how great of work a prayer can do.
I see how much prayer has done for me.

So, as Edythe left that night, and I read her letter and the card again. I thought, she's right.

Maddie's quilt is finished and her race is won. She truly completed her life's work in just those two short days. I was glad to be reminded of this again.

Her little quilt is completed and it is beautiful. I will never know all the lives she has reached through this beautiful work of her life, until I reach Heaven.

However, God is still working on my quilt, one stitch at a time, He's still working. I'm so thankful for this.

I want many more of the patterns and the stitches that are added to my quilt to be because of her. I want to keep sharing her story and talking of God's grace as long as I live. I feel like it is one of my life's purposes.

And so today, I have "Maddies quilt" hanging in my living room so I can be inspired and reminded to keep pushing on. I still have so much work to do here on this earth. The pain of missing Madeline does become great. Some days I still cry all day long. But, I am still pressing on, letting the Lord work in my life so I can make her proud. And one day, I will enter Heaven when my race is finished and hopefully I will hear the Lord say "Well done, my good and faithful servant." Please continue to help me Lord, as I struggle everday.

And to Maddie,

Oh my sweet Maddie Grace, may I continue to make you proud of me as I go through this life without you. May my quilt turn out as beautiful as yours. I miss you so much my heart hurts constantly, but I know I will see you again some day. I love you. ~Mommy





Hebrews 12
1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.


2 Timothy 4:7

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.

Lord this is my prayer for my life.

March 9, 2011

When the cracks get in...

Tiffany shared this quote with me and I wanted to share it with you.

Ring the bells that still can ring,
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything,
That's how the light gets in.

I love that. When she told it to me that day, I knew I had to write it down and talk about it here. It's so true and it really resonated in my heart.

Sometimes cracks can cover our lives, and what we wanted to be our perfect idea of life seems to fade away. But, it's in those moments that God can really use us to our fullest potential.

I have some confessions to share here today. =)

I'm a bit of a perfectionist with certain things in my life.

I know, it probably seems hard to believe. And to be honest, I had just recently become this way.

I get a little over the top about how my boys are dressed, and can't stand it when Eli insists on wearing his green rain boots with every single outfit.

It bothers me when they get one little stain on their clothes, and I constantly carry wipes for their faces, and hair gel for when their hair gets out of place.

I become a "crazy" person when I'm planning their birthday parties, because I think every single detail has to be "just right."

And when it comes to my house, I love everything to be exactly in it's place, and I get overwhelmed when one thing gets disrupted.

Yeah, pretty bad right?

But in my defense I have to say, that I most definitely have started to change my ways.

Now, I don't mind if things get a little more out of place.
It doesn't bother me as much to see toys laying around the house,
because I know that I still have the sweet children who love and adore those toys. And one day soon, I will miss seeing them beneath my feet.

I don't mind as much if the boys hair gets messy, for I love the busyness of childhood that messes it up. If they stain a shirt now, I try to smile. For I know that I can go home, and try to get that stain out.

I'm different.

The reason why is because I've realized that the things I really thought were important in life, really don't matter at all.

Now I soak up every moment with the things in life, that are precious and everlasting, and those things are the precious people in my life.

So what if we eat on paper plates sometimes? I'd rather spend time with my boys than and hour in the kitchen washing dishes.

So what if I need to sweep my floors 3 times a day?
I'm just glad I have sweet children who are here, giving me messes to clean up.

So as I think of these things, I think of that quote.

Before Madeline passed away, I don't think I truly was living life to the fullest. I didn't truly ring the bells that still could ring. I was always worried about a "perfect" offering, instead of just giving my best.

I was holding back. I was looking at life all wrong.

Do I want my children to remember me yelling at them for muddy footprints on the floor? Or do I want them to remember Mommy laughing and playing with them in the sweet moments of their childhood?

Oh Lord help me, for this is something I have failed at so often in my days here.

Just being there.

Soaking up the precious moments of life and just being there...

I remember back to the day I delivered Maddie Grace. My doctor stopped me in the middle of all the excitement of the delivery, and in the moments shortly after. He reminded me to look around; to look at the faces of everyone there and really take in the moment. What wonderful advice.

I remember watching Rick as he held and adored our precious new little girl. I remember the faces of our sweet parents as they welcomed their adorable new granddaughter. I can still see the faces of Maddie's sweet Aunts, who planned on spoiling her rotten in the coming days.

I just sat there, and watched.

I remember the smiles and adoring eyes. I remember the laughter and comparisons of who she looked like. I remember her, and the newness of her perfect newborn skin and how she just kept smacking those little lips together.

I remember it all, because I was truly there, cherishing every precious second.

Oh I'm thankful for those memories. They are so vivid in my mind, and I'm so glad that my doctor reminded me in the middle of that moment, to just stop and take it in.

So what am I saying here today as I ramble on and on? =)

Well, I'm saying this.

It's okay when the cracks get in.

Life isn't perfect and it never will be. We can't write the story differently, as hard as we may try.

There are going to be cracks that come into our lives. There will be holes and ripples and tears. There will be moments of "that's not how it's supposed to be." And that's okay.

Because when the cracks get into our lives, then is when the light gets through, and the joys of life are truly revealed.

Through Maddie going to Heaven, I've learned this and everyday, I'm reminded over again.

I find myself constantly repeating these very words,

"Natalie, its not up to you."

I'm not in control, but the Lord is.

And yes, this life may try to break me down when the cracks get in, but it's in those moments, that the Lord is revealing even more to me.

He is showing me another life who was touched because of my daughter.

He is helping my family to grow more in strength and love.

He continues to show the revived hearts in the life of our Church members.

He is allowing us to see more souls come to Him.

And, He is pulling me closer and closer to Him.

Her sweet life was not in vain.

And yes we are enduring the cracks in our lives created from her passing, but look at the light that is coming in.

I can't help but see the beauty that is shining all around me, because of her beautiful life.

And so for now as I struggle, and am convicted to follow the very words I've written here today. I most definitely will,

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget my perfect offering.

Embrace the cracks in everything
and watch the light come in.

What a reminder of just living in the moment and trusting the Lord with all things in my life.

Lord, please use this life of mine for your glory, and help me to embrace the heartaches I am enduring, so others can be touched by You.

March 8, 2011

From the heart of my friends...

2/27/11

Since I was spending time with my precious friends, I didn't really have an opportunity to sit down and write a post for today.

Although, while I was with my sweet girls, it made me realize just how much they miss Maddie Grace too. I'm so blessed that they took out time of their busy lives, and time away from their precious families, to travel across the U.S. to spend time with me.

Throughout the week I realized just how much they felt like they lost Maddie too. They were so very touched by her sweet little life.
So, I decided to ask each of them to type something up to share here with you.

I want you to see into their hearts as well, so you can understand me and my story even better. Everything they said was so sweet, and their words encouraged and blessed me in a great way. I hope they bless you today too!

Enjoy... =)


I'll never forget a few days after precious Maddie Grace passed away Nat sent me a text that said this of her sweet daughter, "she's such a little blessing".

This brought tears to my eyes as I thought of my sweet friend who most obviously was heartbroken and aching for her daughter, but coupled with that was the strength and faith to realize that Maddie's short life had accomplished GREAT things.

I am sure that throughout Nat's life she will continue to hear stories lives that Maddie's story touched. She personally made me truly realize the importance and the power of prayer.

This week I had the honor of seeing the power of prayer at work in her mommy's life. You see this tiny baby girl also brought four old friend together for a "reunion". I watched her sweet mommy cry about losing her and laugh about the cute things she did. I saw the twinkle in Nat's eyes as she spoke of her and the precious memeories she has of her Maddie Grace.

Is Nat still hurting? Of course she is, but she's also stronger than I ever imagined possible. So even though we won't understand fully why this sweet "birdie girl" had to fly away until we see her again. This I know for sure, "she's such a little blessing".

~Tiffany

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Witness of His Grace

This past week I had the joy & privilege of seeing my dear sweet friend, Natalie, for a few days. When she asked us if we'd write a few words from our heart, I sat & thought..."Lord, what did I witness here this weekend?"

Besides a room of my dearest friends full of laughs, tears, and sharing memories & burdens...a thought resonated loudly in my heart. I witnessed it as Nat & I drove from Cinci to Knoxville and she shared with me the painfull details of the day Maddie was safely carried to Heaven, in the arms of Jesus. Through her tears I could sense His presence, as she described His sustaining grace in those moments and days to come. Not only was I a witness of this amazing grace in my own life the day I was born again as a 14 year old girl, but esspecially seeing & speaking to Natalie in person...I witnessed it again. Over and over...His love, His power, O' His sweet grace sweeping over her heavy heart, her weary eyes, but her strong loving smile.

Natalie, you have been & will forever be one of my dearest most precious friends. Although my mind may not be able to imagine just how painful this is, my heart is hurting for you. My heart has cried out to the Lord to shower your famlily with His Grace...to use this trial to be a blessing...and is some way bring about something very beautiful from the ashes.

I stand as a witness, and I think He has already in the short time done these things. What a beautiful sound is her sweet name. What amazing glory to the King of Kings we've seen as souls have been saved, your family drawn closer together, & closer to the Lord. Thank you for sharing sweet Maddie with so many of us. I will never forget seeing her video of the day she was born, I will never forget her sweet little face, I will never forget her name...and I'm so thankful to be a witness of His Grace.
Love you sweet friend,

~Heidi

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear Readers,

If you have been following Natalie's blog from the beginning, then you've had a chance by now to get a glimpse into the heart of a grieving mother.

Everything she has shared, has been personal and real. I can tell you from experience, that her journey will be long, and her pain will run deep for many years to come. But, I can also tell you, that if she continues to lean on the Lord and find strength in Him, then she's going to be ok. He's healing her heart one prayer at a time. There are times when she might feel as though she's taking one step forward and two steps back, but over the coming weeks and months, that will happen less often. And slowly, she'll gain ground in this healing process. Thank you for allowing her to share her heart here with you. Thank you to each of you who have posted such sweet and encouraging comments. Please keep it up, as this is someone I cherish dearly. The light in her eyes has been momentarily dimmed by pain and sadness, but with God's grace and help, and your prayers, it will return.

I'd like to talk to Maddie for a little bit. My heart is so full of things to say to her. So, if you don't mind, I'll just do that here...

Dear Maddie Grace,
What's it like up there? What does an angel look like? What does my little Belle look like now? My heart can only imagine the beauty that surrounds you at this very moment! I'd give anything for just a tiny glimpse into Heaven. I'd stand outside the pearly gates, and peek through for just a moment if I could see you and Belle and our sweet Saviour.

Unfortunately, I'm not able to do that. It's probably a good thing too, because if I did, I know I wouldn't want to come back down here. I also know I'd never again wish for you or Belle to come back here either.

Oh Maddie, your mommy misses you so much! Her arms still ache for your precious little body to be wrapped inside them. She longs to feel your soft dark hair snuggled on her cheek just once more. She misses your soft little breath on her skin, and feeling your hand wrap around her finger. Her heart is broken. She is reminded every day of her little girl, and how you're not here. Do you know how much you were wanted? You were prayed for and loved so very much! I prayed for you, even before you were created. I knew how much your parents wanted a little girl. I never knew what a special little girl they would get! Do you know how special you are? Your little life has accomplished more than most people accomplish in a full lifetime on this earth. You have touched thousands of hearts and lives. All because of Jesus. He created you. He gave you to your parents. and then, He took you Home. His plan is perfect. I know in my heart, that He didn't make a mistake. You came into our lives for 2 days, but you'll stay in our hearts forever.

You must be so proud of your parents right now. Their heartache, has brought honor and glory to the Lord. In their weakest moments, His strength has been made perfect.

I wish I could tell you right now, that your mommy is perfectly fine and happy without a care in the world. But, that would be a lie. She is hurting. I want you to know, that I'm going to do my best to keep an eye on her for you. I'll make sure she makes it through this. Because of you, she is, and always will be, a mother of a little girl. So many times people have said (myself included) that we have "lost" our daughters. But you know what Maddie? I don't think I like that sentence very much. Because when something is "lost", that means we can't find it, or we don't know where it is. But we know exactly where our little girls are! You girls are in Heaven! Probably sitting at the feet of Jesus, or running through your mansions and giving the angels a hard time. :)

I wish so much that I would've had the chance to meet you before you went to Heaven. I wanted to see your beautiful blue eyes in person. The eyes of your mama that I have been jealous of since I first met her! I never knew eyes could be that color! Like a bright turquoise ocean! I guess now I'll just have to wait a little bit. But that's ok. I know a lifetime of waiting will be all worth it in a moment. I know for some reason, it was best for you to be in His hands. I'm not sorry for you, for not getting to experience anything on this earth. I'm just sorry for your mommy, because she won't get to experience you doing those things on this earth. We all miss you Madeline Grace. You are one beautiful and special little girl. I can't wait to meet you! But, for now, I'll just say, "See you later."

Love,
"Auntie" Kels




Because of you sweet baby girl...



We were all brought together again!
Spring 2011

March 7, 2011

Remembering how to fly...

1/25/11

I've heard it said... "Friends are the angels who lift us to our feet, when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly."

I love this little quote. It reminds me of my sweet friends, and the encouragement they have been to me through this all. One thing I know for sure, I'm blessed beyond measure with such sweet friendships in this life.

I think of all the people I have known throughout my childhood to the present. I have so many precious people who have walked with me in this life. There is nothing like a friend who is there with you to walk through the good and the bad, the happy times and the sad.

Since the passing of my little Maddie Grace, all of my friends have been writing, calling and praying for me. I have received hundreds of cards and even more emails and inboxes. I'm so blessed by the words of each of you, and I can't express my gratitude for your kind words of encouragement. It has not gone unnoticed and it never will as long as I live.

So, on this Saturday, I was looking forward to a sweet reunion with some of my most precious friends.

About 10 years ago, when I left for Crown College,(scared and unsure) I found myself among a group of the best friends any girl could ask for.

I remember really asking God to bless me with some new sweet friends. After I got saved in high school at the age of 16, I lost many of my friends. I found it odd at first that they no longer wanted to hang out with me, but now I know it was because of my lifestyle change. I became a Christian and started going to Church. I no longer fit into the same mold as them, but the truth is, I didn't even want to fit into that mold anyway.

God changed me.

Now I look back and realize that if they were "truly" my friends, they would have loved and accepted the GOOD change in my life. Oh how we learn over the years...

When God saved me, he gave me a new life and a fresh start. I didn't want to waste a second of that away on silly things in high school. I was looking at the bigger picture and toward the future.

So, as I approached college, I wanted to make some new friends. I wanted friends who loved God and wanted to do right. I wanted friends who would lift me up and make me want to be a better person, not tear me down.

And boy, Did the Lord bless me.

I remember the day I stepped onto campus, I looked around and I felt SO very out of place. I thought every girl there was probably a Pastor's daughter or missionary's kid.

I was wrong.

Some of the girls there were just like me. There were many other girls who had just gotten saved as a teenager. There were other girls who didn't grow up in Church, but they were there, and ready for God to do something great in their lives... So was I.

That was the day I met three of my sweet friends. There are so many, but for today I want to mention, Kelsey, Tiffany and Heidi; 3 girls with hearts of gold who love the Lord.

I remember all my days and nights at College with them, cherishing their friendship. We made so many memories driving all around Knoxville in my fun blue Mustang. My mind wanders to sitting by the piano, as Heidi played and sang and we danced around being silly. I remember always asking Kelsey to play her violin and we sat and listened and sang together. Such sweet memories.

I have so many fun thoughts of us going out to dinner and our blondie bonding and cokes at Applebee's. I remember all those fun "go home" weekends when they came home with me because they were too far from their own houses. My parents would spoil us rotten and we just had so much fun together.

We have been in each others weddings, and now are walking through motherhood together. We have been through ups and downs, but have still remained the best of friends, almost 10 years later.

Oh, how thankful I am for these girls.

And on this day, I was so excited... Because I was going to see them.

Rick had recommended I make a trip down to Tennessee and spend some time with the girls while he was away. Since he would be in England, he wanted me to have someone to stay with me wile he was away.

Heidi was going to come in from North Dakota and meet me and then we would drive on to Tennessee. Tiffany would fly in from Texas and Kelsey would pick her up. Then the four of us planned to spend 4 days together in Knoxville at Kelsey's house.

The dates were convenient for everyone, and I was so thankful that it was working out so perfectly. I knew that my 3 best friends would cheer me up, as I was still grieving my little girl.

So as I was packing up, I was excited. I couldn't wait to reconnect with my 3 sweet friends from college who I met all those years ago. The girls who have stood my my side all this time.

I couldn't help but think that my sweet Maddie Grace was bringing us back together for this precious reunion. She has really had a way of helping people connect, that little girl of mine. =)

You see, since Tiffany and Heidi live so far away, they were not able to make it to Madeline's funeral, but they both wanted to get together with me and talk about my sweet girl. They wanted to learn all about her and they wanted to take time with me to remember her. I love them for that.

I think when you go through such a hard time, you just want your best friends around to cry with and laugh with. I truly believe it helps in the healing process.

So as Heidi picked me up that day and we drove to Tennessee, I couldn't have been happier. Finally, we would all be together again after all these years.

As we drove, Heidi and I laughed and cried (with the occasional disruption from my boys in the backseat) we chatted about love and life. We talked of what God had been doing in our lives and we talked of the impact my sweet Maddie Grace had made on us. We listened to good Godly music and wept to the words. It was so good to catch up. It felt like nothing had ever changed. She is such a blessing to me.

When we pulled in Kelsey's driveway, she had not returned yet from picking up Tiffany. We chatted with Tim, Kelsey's husband and thanked him for letting us have our "reunion" there... It takes a brave guy to house us crazy girls! Oh and my kiddos! =)

I was watching all of our boys run in the yard and burn off some energy, and I found myself feeling so blessed. What a joy that I can get away with such amazing girls and get my mind off things for a little while.

Once Tiffany and Kelsey pulled in the driveway, I was thrilled. Heidi and I ran out there like little school girls. We all four grabbed each other and held on tight.

So many, memories, so many years.

So much Love...

It was in that moment that I went back to my college campus thanking God for answering my prayer for sweet new friends. Little did I know, that they would be the kind that last for a lifetime.

I was able to pour my heart out to them about my sweet Maddie Grace, and they listened and cried with me. They felt for me and they still do.

I found myself alone with Kelsey for a moment thanking her for being such and encouragement to me and for all her helpful thoughts and words.

You see, Kelsey lost her sweet little girl Belle at 38 weeks pregnant. She was the first to be a Mom out of all of us, and when God called her little girl home, we were all so heartbroken. I remember the grace and strength God gave Kelsey in dealing with this tragedy and I remember thinking how strong she was. I could see God all over her and Tim's life. He was there holding them up at Belle's funeral, and He has been there ever since.

They displayed such courage through that time and I wanted her to know that I noticed it, and it touched me. Even more so now that I was going through a similar heartache. I also told her that I was sorry. I was so sorry that I stopped talking about her sweet daughter. Her sweet girl who I held, who looked just like her beautiful Mama. The little girl that we all looked SO forward to at her Baby Shower and leading up to her birth. I guess, since I wasn't a mother yet, and didn't truly understand the joy of being a parent, I just didn't know what to say. And as I have written before, I believe that it hurts worse to say nothing at all.

I'll never forget standing in her kitchen crying and holding each other, two best friends, two broken hearts. Still, we were thankful for our little girls. For we know they are together, and we WILL see them again one day. What a thought.

You never know what road you will walk down in life. Kelsey walked it before me and now she is helping me to walk down it too, along with Heidi and Tiffany.

We all now know what it means to be a mother, what it means to have a child. They bring joy and love that we didn't even know existed. These are the friends I had been missing all along. I'm so thankful God gave them to me. I was so glad I was there with them, sharing my heart.

The rest of our evening was spent catching up over cheese quesadilla's, coke and candy. =) There is nothing like these moments with best friends.

So as I found myself that night in Tennessee with three of the sweetest friends any girl could ask for, I found myself blessed.

So very blessed.

And I can't help but think that they will help me to find my wings again. And as the Lord is, they are helping to bear me up,

So I can REMEMBER how to fly.

What a blessing you find in your friends. I'm so very thankful for mine!


Fall 2001