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April 28, 2011

Bob Evans love story...

4/22/11

I'm sorry I'm so behind. I've had such a busy week with us being out of town. I'll try to catch up soon and post an ultrasound pic. This entry was from last Saturday... Enjoy! =)


Today Rick and I had a pretty good day. He was off because it was Good Friday, and we enjoyed sleeping in and spending the morning with our boys.

Around noon, my parents came and took Noah and Elijah along with their cousin Kaelan, to the Cincinnati Children's museum for the day. They were so excited and they love going down there and playing on all the different exhibits.

Since the boys were gone, Rick decided he was going to take me to lunch and out shopping.
We decided to go eat at Bob Evans here in town.

This certain Bob Evans is very special to me, because it is the one where Rick and I met.
I haven't shared too many details about us "before" babies, so I thought this would be a good time to tell you a little about "us".

Rick and I had just turned 16 when we met. I had gotten a job with one of my best friends at the "new" restaurant in town. You can tell I'm a small town girl, we get excited over a Bob Evans.

So, when I went in for my first day of training, I met a boy named..... Rick.

He had just started working there himself, but somehow, he talked our manager into letting him train me.... and yep, the rest was history.

I thought he was so cute and funny, and we fell in love pretty quickly.
I think we both just knew.

I loved going to work everyday and seeing Rick. He made me smile and laugh, and I loved all the attention he gave me. By the end of the summer, I was head over heals for him. We had a chemistry that was undeniable. It was like what you see on all those sappy love story movies, except our's was real.

As we grew to know each other more and more, I noticed how important Church and God was to him. I didn't go to Church at the time and didn't really understand a lot about religion.

Rick had invited me and another co-worker to Church one Sunday, and I decided maybe I would go. I was always searching for something in my life, but I didn't know exactly what it was.

As I sat under the preaching of his Dad, I was getting very convicted. I didn't know what it meant to be saved. I wasn't sure if I was going to Heaven. All the things his Dad was preaching on... I just didn't have the answer to.

So, after the service Rick pulled me aside and asked me if I would like to know more about getting saved.

I'll never forget sitting on that old swing set behind our Church and listening to him as he shared with me that...
God loved me...(John 3:16) But...
I was a sinner...(Romans 3:23) and because of this...
My sins must be paid for...(Romans 6:23) But...
Christ paid for my sins...(Romans 5:8)and all I had to do was...
Accept Christ as my personal savior...(Romans 10:9-11)

I remember clear as day asking Rick, so if I believe all these things(which I did and do) all I had to do was believe and ask and Christ would save me?) After he answered me yes, I knew what I had to do.

I bowed my head right there as a 16 year old girl who was searching for answers. I confessed to Christ that I was a sinner and asked Him to save me and guess what??? HE DID!!!

I stood up from that swing set a different person. I was changed.

I felt like a million weights had been lifted from my shoulders. I knew that I was going to Heaven 100% without a doubt. WHAT A RELIEF!

It was the best decision I have ever made in my life, because it affects where I spend my eternity.

From that day forward until now, I have such peace in my life.

I'll never stop telling people about the day I got saved. I'm so very thankful that my boyfriend (now Husband :) took the time to tell me how.

So.... Back to us.

After our perfect summer of falling in love, I went on to finish high school while Rick started college early. We are the same age but he graduated high school early. We had a long distance relationship for about a year while he was attending Bible College. He knew God had called him to be a Preacher.

We were so in love and we hated every moment of being apart. During the next semester of College, Rick had broken his back and was in ICU in critical condition for a long time. We didn't know if he would even make it. (see I told you we've been through it all so to speak) It was such a hard time for him and his family. I hated that he was hurting and in pain. He pulled through and is doing great still today. The Doctors told him he would never walk or stand again to preach. I'm sure glad those Dr's were wrong. =)

Once he got better and moved back home, I was so glad. While he was here, I was finishing up my senior year of high school.

That next fall, Rick and I went off to Bible College together in Knoxville, TN. I was so happy to be going to school with my best friend. We made it through our first year together, and that summer on July 4th, Rick proposed.

It was one of the happiest days of my life. I'll never forget sitting on that boat at dusk as the boy I was so in love with, asked me to spend the rest of my life with him. The rest of the evening fireworks were going off all around us. It was like everyone one else was celebrating our love with us. I'll never forget that day.

We married one year later, after four years of dating on July 5th 2003. We absolutely loved married life. We were only 20 at the time and we took the next two years to grow in love with each other, and with Lord. We graduated from Crown of May of 2005. We bought our first house and moved back home. I was 6 months along with Noah at the time.

Rick took the Assistant Pastor and Youth Pastor position at our home Church under his Dad. It felt so good to be back home where we knew God wanted us to be.

It felt so good to know we made it. We made it through high school, a near death experience, college, a wedding, and a graduation.

I always knew God had something great in store for us, I just had no idea what. He's still working and I'm thankful for that.

God has really blessed our life together, yes we've been through health struggles, and much loss. But, God has blessed us too.

He has given us a love that not many people find. We are soul mates and best friends. We always will be.

So, that day as we headed to eat lunch together I was smiling. I was happy and in love with my husband.

I was looking forward to enjoying lunch and actually be able to have an (adult :) conversation with my best friend.

In the moment after we got to the restaurant, something very unexpected happened. One of the servers who worked there years ago with us, just happened to be our server that day. It was good to see her but we weren't prepared for what was about to say.

Guess what she asked us?

"Where's the baby?" As she looked down and scanned the booth beside us.

She had remembered the last time we were in that I was very close to being due with Madeline. Part of me thought it was sweet that she remembered, the other part of me wanted to run out sobbing as I could not answer that question.

I've never had this happen until today.

I watched as my precious husband gently explained to her what happened. I couldn't order my drink or even speak. I wish I could've told her, Oh, Maddie Grace is right here, as I held her up to show her off.

It was in that moment that I realized just how much more Rick meant to me. As he looked at me with the saddest eyes and tried to cheer me up. As he talked about our boys and future baby on the way. He then reminded me of all the fun memories we had experienced while working there together. He helped make me feel so much better. I just love him.

I'm blessed beyond measure to have such a wonderful adoring Husband who loves me like there is no tomorrow. We have grown up together. Literally.

And as we have walked through this valley of tears in missing our daughter, we have learned to love each other even more.

I'm so thankful that 12 years ago, I walked into that Bob Evans and met my Rick. I can't imagine where I would be without him. He is my best friend and soul mate.

I love you Rick, with everything that I am. Thank you for giving me this wonderful life that we live. Thank you for giving me my precious babies. Thank you for leading me to the Lord and showing me how to have a relationship with Him. I love you.

A look back...
Age 17
Age 18- My HS Graduation
Age 19- College Days
Age 20- Our Wedding Day

April 25, 2011

Big News =)

Well, I wasn't going to post this until (way) later on, but I guess I will go ahead and share now... I've been so excited to share with all of you...

Rick and I recently found out that Baby Ross # 4 is on the way!

My adorable Husband spilled the beans as he announced it to our entire Church yesterday. =) It was so sweet as the entire congregation erupted into cheering and clapping for us. It made us (and this new little one) feel so loved. It was a very special moment.

We couldn't be more thrilled about this baby. God has truly blessed us and answered our prayers. We don't deserve it, but we are very thankful for his grace.

I have to be honest and admit that the last 7 weeks have been a complete roller coaster of up's and downs for me. I've been full of all different emotions.

I was so happy the day I got the positive test, but I was a complete mess the following week. I struggled with everything from the fear of disappointment in losing this baby, to the fear of this happening to us again.

I have struggled with the challenge of another pregnancy so soon after Maddie's and I struggled with the fact that this little one will not be Maddie, but her little brother or sister.

I feel like all of the emotions are probably pretty normal in our circumstance and I've embraced them.

I have completely placed all of these "fears" in the Lord's hands.

This baby will never replace or diminish Madeline's life in any way. This baby will simply remind us of our faith and "hope" in the Lord.

This baby reminds us that even in a trial or heartache, God is still so good to us and He hears and answers prayers. We are so thankful for that.

As the weeks have progressed, I'm getting so excited of the idea of having another little one. My arms will always ache for Maddie Grace, but mine and Rick's hope is that this baby will help to fill the aching arms we have right now. That is our prayer.

One day in Heaven, we will hold Maddie Grace again, and we can't wait for that day. Until then, we have asked God to bless us with more children to love and care for down here, and He has.

Our little one is due December the 14th (2 days after Eli's birthday).

Please pray for us as the pregnancy progresses. Please pray for us up until delivery and even the month's after. I cannot wait to hold this baby.
I cannot wait to see this sweet baby look up at me. I cannot wait to become a mother again.

God is so good.

Thank you for your love a care. Rick and I truly appreciate your prayers.

I have the most precious story about my first ultrasound, I will share soon.

Thank you for being here...

Love, Natalie <3

April 22, 2011

Home...

This week I received the most precious gift in the mail. My friend Ashley sent me a personalized CD of some wonderful songs of Nicole Sponberg.

The CD has Madeline's face on it and the words... A Hopeful Remembrance of Maddie Grace. It is absolutely precious and will be a forever treasured keepsake.

I absolutely love one of the songs titled "Home." Please take a few minutes and listen to it, it is such an encouragement. I also typed the words below.

Simply click the play button...

Enjoy! =)


What is it like to be held in the same arms that hold the universe?

What is it like to sleep on the chest of the King of Heaven and Earth?

When you open your eyes and look on the face of the giver of life, the author of grace... Do you know?

That your days here changed everything. You're missed here and will always be. But you left here, the greatest gift of all. Cause our hearts ache for home...

What is it like to breathe in and breath out, Heavens glorious life? What is it like to be robed in perfection, no reason to cry?

When you feel on your face your fathers kiss, His welcome embrace we prayed for this.

You should know...

That your days here changed everything.
Your missed here and will always be
But you left here. The greatest gift of all.
Cause our hearts ache for home...

So twinkle twinkle little star
We will keep you in our hearts
Twinkle twinkle little star
we will meet you where you are...

Your days here changed everything. Your missed here and will always be.
But you left here... The greatest gift of all...

Cause our hearts ache....

For Home....


I can't wait to the day when I will be home with you Maddie Grace. I miss you!

April 21, 2011

Growing in Grace...

4/18/11

2 Peter 3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

The other evening at our mid week service, My pastor quoted this passage of Scripture and it really spoke to me. I have been thinking about it since...

I write about grace often, because truly it is what has carried me through the last 3 months, and the 9 months before that.

Grace is such a wonderful thing, and I honestly don't know what I would do without it. So as I heard my Pastor speak a little on growing in grace, I knew I had to share.

I feel like now that I'm in my later 20's, I've really grown up. I've become who I am as a person, and as a mom and a wife. I feel like I can always continually become better, but I'm growing, day by day.

Every thing that God has given me in this life has made me who I am. In the good things, I take them with thanksgiving and Praise Him for my blessings. In the bad things, I ask Him for strength and guidance and peace. When I read this verse about "growing in grace" I understand that this growing starts in one simple place... The Bible.

Since I started going to Church at age 16 and started faithfully reading my Bible, I have grown so much. I have learned so much. I have grown in the knowledge of Christ. His word explains everything, if you simply take time to read it.

God's word is full of knowledge and wisdom and understanding. All we have to do is pick it up and read it. The answers are all there. The message is clear, yet we pick up every book for knowledge but the Bible. That is where the history lessons are, it is HIS STORY, and it is perfect.

I have had some hard days recently. I have been a little down, no doubt, but as soon as those feelings start to come, I reach for my Bible and the comfort comes immediately. God is so good.

He is there to listen, He is there to answer, all I have to do is talk to Him and read His word.

My Husband is a Preacher and he most definitely knows how to get a hold of God. He knows how to pray believing and he has been. God has been answering so many of our prayers, giving us so much strength and understanding that we didn't know we would ever find.

We are walking faithfully with God and he is guiding our steps. He is helping us to grow in grace, and it's wonderful!

Rick and I have never missed one day of devotions since Maddie Grace passed away, not one night. Every night before bed, we open His word and read it together, we pray together. It has drawn us closer to each other, and to the Lord.

I would like to challenge each of you to get a devotional life. Take time during the day to get alone with God and pour your heart out to Him and let Him speak to you, It's wonderful.

Then, take time as a couple to search out God's word and spend time in prayer together. It will only make you better and stronger as a couple.

My relationship with God and with my Husband is better than it has ever been and I praise the Lord for it. I don't know if I could have said that before Maddie passed away, she has made us better. I felt like I didn't have enough patience and appreciation for anything in my life prior. She has made me a better person, wife and mother. But most of all, she has made me a better Christian.

I've grown in grace so much over the last 3 months. Believe me, I still have a LOT of growing to do, but what a beautiful start. I am blessed.

Thank you Maddie Grace for teaching me to Grow in Grace. I will be forever grateful for all the precious lessons you have taught me. I love you. ~Mommy

2 Peter 3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

April 19, 2011

Someone's missing...

4/16/11

Today we had a family day all day, it was nice. I love spending time with Rick and my boys, and I love the sweet memories we are making. Although, I just can't help but think that Maddie Grace is constantly missing from our family, and she is.

The weeks after Madeline passed away, I was constantly searching for her, listening for her. My body had prepared for having a baby and then I did. So, my ears were keened in to hearing her. My arms were ready to be holding her. I was looking forward to feeding her and watching her grow. We were going to have a lifetime together.

So, the day she passed away, I felt like all of this was just ripped away from me, No warning. No preparation. Nothing.

Since, that day, I have been trying to catch up to all of this. Slowly, I'm finding my new normal and trying to make sense of my days. Some days I wake up happy and feel a little like my old self. Other days, I just cry all day and have such a hard time doing anything normal. This is such a long road.

My heart continues to ache and every single night I still have nightmares. During the day, I don't search for her anymore, but in the nighttime I still do. It's like my brain is trying to comprehend everything because all day I just can't make sense of it.

I feel so bad for my poor Husband. Almost every night I wake him up with another one of my nightmares. Every night. I thought by now this would stop but it hasn't. It's really taking a toll on me physically. I'm exhausted.

We read our Bible and go to bed in prayer every single night, but I still have nightmares all the time. I'm searching for the one who is missing everyday.

So on this Saturday, after I woke up from another night of bad dreams, I tried to stay positive and happy for my family. This really is a daily struggle for me, but I do it because I love my boys.

We went to breakfast and then did our Church visitation. The day was going pretty good. We decided to go over to the Hospital and see Rick's sister who was very sick.

When we pulled into the parking lot, my heart skipped a beat. So many memories.

I was quiet walking in, holding back tears. In the elevator Eli looked up at me and said "We were here with you." He remembered being there for Maddie. =(

We made it to her room and had a nice visit. She was feeling better and they were discussing letting her out soon. I was glad.

While we were there, I couldn't help but notice that the room looked just like post partum room Rick, Maddie and I spent 24 hours in. My mind wandered to some of those moments. It broke my heart.

As we left, the boys needed to go potty. Rick took them and I waited in the hallway for them.

I looked over to my left and saw the "family birth center". I didn't even realize we were on the same floor. My heart sank. I could see into the infant nursery. No babies were there. My eyes instantly welled up with tears.

I wanted to be back there the day we were getting induced with Maddie. I wanted to go back to the day when my world was still right. I wanted to have and hold my baby. I wanted it so much.

I wanted to walk into the nursery and say "can I have my baby now?" I wanted to put this nightmare behind me that I live everyday. I wanted it so much.

Rick came back into the hallway, and I told him I just wanted to go get our baby. Oh how I wish it was that easy...

I know God has a great plan with all of this and I'm thankful for that. I know He is in control and I am thankful for that too.

I just miss my daughter. Every single second of every day, I miss her. I will always miss her.

When I wake up in the morning and get my boys dressed, she's missing.

When I feed them there daily meals, she's missing.

When we have a fun family outing, she's missing.

When we snap a family photo, she's missing.

When I tuck the boys into bed each night, she's missing.

Someone's always missing. Madeline is always missing.

I miss her so much today. I wish I could hold her.

Until then, I'll just cling to the One who is holding her and pray that He helps me down this long, long road of missing...


Psalms 31:9-10 Have mercy upon me, O LORD, for I am in trouble: mine eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly.
For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing: my STRENGTH faileth because of mine iniquity, and my bones are consumed.

Psalm 28:7
The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.

April 16, 2011

The Robin...

4/13/11

Today(Wednesday), my sweet Dad came over and planted Maddie Grace's tree.

The weather is FINALLY turning nice here in Ohio and we thought it would be a good time to go ahead and get it in the ground.

The boys and I went out with him while he planted it and of course they wanted to help. =) My Dad (their Papa) let them push the dirt and conditioner into the hole and get it ready to put the tree in. They loved that. I felt like in a way, they were doing something special for their little sister, it was an emotional moment for me as I watched them. It melted my heart.

After he prepared the hole, He put the tree in. It made me smile and I watched as he gently planted it and covered it with dirt. He probably spent over an hour making it just right. I could tell it was emotional for my Dad too. He loved Maddie so much, and knowing how much of a Daddy's girl I am, Maddie would have been a Papa's girl.

My Dad is one of those men who pours himself into his work as a part of his therapy. It really breaks my heart. I love him so much and he's been through so much loss in his lifetime. He lost his Mom, Dad and only brother within just a few years of each other, all to cancer. So, if anyone knows how much it hurts to miss someone, it's Him. I love my Daddy and I'm so thankful he is in my life.

Back to the tree...

Once he finished adding the dirt and smoothing it out, we stood at the back of the yard and admired it. It looked great, it was perfect to remember my precious little girl. I can't wait until it blooms, I hope it does soon.

Afterwards, we stood there talking and admiring his hard work. It was then that I noticed a chubby red robin fly over and land on the dirt mound. It was jumping around and playing and looking for food. My Dad and I stood there and watched it. It was the sweetest chubbiest little birdie, and it really did remind me of Maddie, all chubby birds do. =)

I asked Dad if he thought that she sent it to tell us that she loved her tree. We both agreed that she did. It was a special moment.

Later, I went inside and continued on with my chores. I would peek out the kitchen widow occasionally to see if the birdie was still there. It was. She stayed there all day long. It gave me such a comfort and peace and made me smile and think of Madeline.

I was glad that God and Maddie sent that little birdie my way. It made my day a little brighter.

Later that evening, we went to Church.

My mom told me the next day that her and Dad stopped over while we were gone, so she could see Maddie's tree. She then told me that there was a little red robin playing around the tree as they came to see it. My Dad hadn't told her that the same little birdie visited us earlier that day. She thought that was so special.

Isn't it sweet how God can give peace and comfort in such little ways. To someone else, that may have just been a little bird, but to me, it was a hug from my precious little girl.

I love you Miss Maddie Grace, and I'm so happy that you love your tree! =)

Here are the pictures I took today...

Getting ready to plant...
Leveling out the hole...
Pushing in the dirt...
All done... So bummed this is blurry. But look to the right and you can see the sweet little Robin... =)
Noah left this for Maddie Grace. He said he wanted to do something special for her. =)He painted this little rock, picked the flowers and put out his favorite Mickey key chain. <3


April 14, 2011

Finding Hope...

4/12/11

All last weekend and this week God has been laying something on my heart.

Hope.

I've heard it in songs, I've read scripture containing it. I've seen billboards that say hope. I've heard the name Hope called in public. Everywhere I look,
I see hope.

So, I realized that God wants me to pay attention to it.

I looked up the definition and this is what I found...

Hope

1. the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.

Hope
1. a feeling of desire for something and confidence in the possibility of its fulfillment
2. a thing, situation, or event that is desired
3. to trust, expect, or believe

Hope is the belief in a positive outcome related to events and circumstances in one's life.

Wow.

I've grown to love this word, Hope...

God keeps bringing it to sight in my life and I now know why. He wants me to place my hope in him. And I have. He wants me to have high hopes, and I do.

Psalms 31:24
Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.

Here lately, I have been praying and hoping. Asking God for specifics and for strength. He is providing. He is listening. He is answering.

What a great God.

He has been strengthening my heart as the days go on and I'm trusting Him.

He is teaching me to trust Him and have hope in Him. It's wonderful.

I'm so grateful that Maddie Grace's little life has brought me to know the Lord more and have an even greater relationship with Him. I feel closer to the Lord than I ever have been in my life. I never want to lose this relationship and closeness. God is my rock and my comfort. He is my refuge. He is my hope.

Romans 15:4
For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

I love that the Bible is so beautiful and so clear. Everything I read in the Bible was written for me to learn. I love this verse and I find the words so comforting. The Lord has been providing me with patience and comfort and blessed me with the scriptures that are giving me hope. I love that.

My arms ache for Maddie Grace. My heart feels empty without her, yet I have hope that I will find peace again. God knows my heart and He has a plan.


God does have such a plan here. I don't want to miss it. I'm not exactly sure what He is going to do with Mine and Rick's lives, but I do have hope that it will be something great. I know that everything that has happened to us has been hard, but with the Lord we are overcoming. We are finding strength to push forward.

So while I continue down this road of heartache, and sadness, I still have hope. Hope that I will find more happiness again and joy in my life.

Until then.

I will keep watching for signs from the Lord. I'm so very thankful that He is speaking to me.


Romans 5:2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Romans 12:12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;

April 13, 2011

A walk down memory lane...

A few nights ago, I had the opportunity to spend some alone time with my first born, Noah Riley.

Rick had gone on visitation and taken Eli with him, so it was just going to be Noah and I for the evening, until they got back. Whenever I get a chance to have alone time with him, I really enjoy it.

That night, Noah was going to help me make dinner. He loves to help me bake and cook and he's really good at making things. He volunteers to do anything and everything, it's so cute.

Before we got started on dinner, I asked him if he wanted to take a walk with me and do some exploring. I can tell you, 5 year old boys and anything outside, go together hand in hand. He was thrilled!

We headed out on our adventure and I was enjoying spending time with him. He was talking my ear off about School, reading, and his friends and cousins.
I don't think I got a word in for the first half mile, but I was loving it. (He comes by it honest, Rick and I LOVE to talk too :)

I loved watching him talk about life with such excitement and joy. He has such a sweet spirit. As we walked and I listened to him tell his "stories" I couldn't help but smile. I'm glad even with everything we've been through, He's still so happy.

I remember the day I had him. I was 22 and I was so nervous about becoming a Mom. I had no clue what I was doing and I was just praying that God would help me. The day I brought him into the world changed me forever. He made me a Mommy. He has taught me so much in the last 5 precious years. I just love him so much.

As we continued on our walk, we found all kinds of things.

Noah is really into collecting rock's and anything that has to do with nature. He found some really neat leaves, pinecones and even a 3 leaf clover. He's lucky. =)

He was so cute as he was shoving all of his finds into his jean pockets. I couldn't help but laugh. I see so much of Rick in him. He's a "mini Rick" for sure. =) I love that.

I can see Maddie Grace in him too. I love that I can see her in my boys. That way a physical piece of her is always with me. It makes me smile.

As we made it around the block, we were approaching my old Elementary School. We don't live far from there, and Noah loves to walk by and see all my old classrooms. Especially now that he is in School himself, he loves to know what I liked in Kindergarten. Who my teacher was. What games I played at recess.

It was sweet.

So as we walked by all the rooms and I told him all about me in Elementary School, he was excited. He loves to hear mine and Rick's stories about growing up, and he remembers every little detail we tell him. He's so smart.

I told him about my first day of school and the Minnie Mouse dress that I wore. I told him about my teacher Mrs. Larson and how much I loved school.

At one point he told me, "I LOVE school too, Mommy, I'm just like you." It was precious.

We walked over to the playground and played hopscotch and 4 square. Noah was running and laughing and so happy. I could feel his enthusiasm for life rubbing off on me. He is so full of joy.

It was in that moment I realized once again, just how lucky I am to have him. He's healthy and happy and he is here.

I miss Maddie Grace so much everyday, and there is not a day that goes by that I don't think of her. And even as I told Noah about my Kindergarten experience, I was sad that I would never experience that with Maddie.

Yet, Noah always knows how to cheer me up and make me aware of the wonderful blessings that I have in my life.

So, as we took that walk down memory lane that day, I was thankful. Thankful for the wonderful childhood that I had growing up. Thankful for my little 5 year old who makes me smile everyday. Thankful for the nice fresh air and the sun on my face. Thankful that we have a beautiful home to go home to. Thankful for the opportunity to be a Mom. Thankful for the family that God has given me.

Just thankful.

I'm so glad I had the opportunity that night to get a breath of fresh air from my sweet little boy. He is such a blessing in my life.

Noah Riley- 3 weeks

Noah- 4 Months

Noah- age one

Noah- age 2

Noah- age 3

Noah- age 4

Noah- age 5

Noah on his first day of School. =)

April 12, 2011

I am everyplace...

I AM EVERYPLACE MOM AND DAD

Mom and Dad, don't mourn for me

I'm still here, though you don't see

I'm right by your side each night and day

And within your heart I long to stay

My body is gone but I'm always near

I'm everything you feel, see or hear

My spirit is free, but I'll never depart

As long as you keep me alive in your heart

I'll never wander out of your sight

I'm the brightest star on a summer night

I'll never be far beyond your reach

I'm the warm moist sand when you're at the beach

I'm the colorful leaves when fall comes around

And the pure white snow that blankets the ground

I'm the beautiful flowers of which you're so fond

The clear cool water in a quiet pond

I'm the first bright blossom you'll see in spring

The first warm raindrop that April will bring

I'm the first ray of light when the sun starts to shine

And you'll see that the face in the moon is mine

When you start thinking there's no one to love you

You can talk to me through the Lord above you

I'll whisper my answer through the leaves on the trees

And you'll feel my presence in the soft summer breeze

I'm the hot salty tears that flow when you weep

And the beautiful dreams that come while you sleep

I'm the smile you see on a baby's face

Just look for me, Mom and Dad, I'm everyplace

April 11, 2011

Wisdom and Understanding...

One thing that had weighed heavy on my mind since Madeline passed away, was trying to understand... Understand why she was needed more in Heaven than here. Understand why I didn't get to spend more time with her. Understand why she didn't get to live a long full life on this earth.

But the truth is, those answers will never come... until Heaven.

Rick and I have searched God out, for these answers many times. And He has answered us in different ways. Through prayer. Through His Word. Through the lives that she has touched.

Just knowing the impact she has had on this world, does give us such peace. She has made a difference here, and continues to daily.

But the exact answer of why our daughter? Why so soon? Yes, it has crossed our minds. Especailly shortly after she passed away, but now we can look to God and say, What now Lord? What do you want us to do now? For we know He is the One in control. He is full of wisdom and His ways are perfect.

We have come to a place where it doesn't matter why. And believe me, it took us a while to get to that place. It was full surrender, but we truly have learned, God knows all things and God knows best.

Sometimes I wonder if she was placed here for those 2 short days, just for the those who needed to hear her story, and be saved. That was her purpose.

People are going to Heaven through God's saving grace, they've accepted Him. God's grace is such a wonderful thing. I know that He even had a purpose in the name He laid on our hearts to name her. He had a perfect plan all along.

It was in my Husbands message last Wednesday night, that some of the why questions were brought to light for me.

The Bible says in Job 28:12 But where shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding?

Then again in Job 28:20 it asks again.
Whence then cometh wisdom? and where is the place of understanding?

When the tragedies of life come, the human nature wants to know why...
So many are searching, for answers to the question. Why?

And yet, so many never find those answers.

Why did my loved one get sick?
Why did my Husband lose his job?
Why did our adoption fall through?
Why can't we conceive a baby?
Why did my Parent pass away so young?
Why does my child struggle with his/her health?
Why does my loved one have cancer?

So many questions.

If you continue to read on in this book of Job, you will find God's answer to the questions about wisdom and understanding.

Job 28:28 And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.

There it is, plain as day.

The fear of the Lord = Wisdom
Departing from evil= Understanding

Since I have been faced with the tragedy of losing a child, I have learned so much. I have learned to fully surrender to God. I have learned to trust Him in all things. I have learned to know that He is in control.

The way that I've been living my life seems much different than the way many other's I've known who've lost children. Clinging to God is key. Not turning from Him, but running to Him. Fearing Him brings wisdom to life. Departing from evil brings understanding.

When you are walking with the Lord, you won't ask God, why? You will know that He is in control and He will carry you through whatever struggle or challenge you are faced with. God's plan is perfect, even if it may not be what we would have chosen, it's still perfect.

Rick said in his message "No amount of Human effort can grasp the Wisdom needed to understand and solve life's major problems and mysteries."

That's so powerful! Our human effort and minds can't comprehend it. But God is big, and His ways are past finding out. We can't know them, but our Maker does.

We don't understand, but through Gods wisdom, He gives us the strength to go on, and find joy again.

Learning the Wisdom of the Lord will bring more understanding.

I'm learning to understand that God had a great plan with our lives in the passing of our daughter. It has given us a platform to speak of her and the grace of God. It has helped us to witness to and lead many people to the Lord.

I think it would be a shame if I had never shared her sweet story with others and tell them, we don't know how short life can be. Her story is the perfect testimony of the fact that life is short. Yet, we know, Eternity is long.

Do you know the Lord? Do you know where you will spend eternity? John 3:16

If you know God and are saved, then you will spend eternity in Heaven.

While we are down here, we have a job to do. Tell others how to get there.

Matthew 16:26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

Maddie Grace has made Heaven even more real to me. I have someone waiting there for me now. I wonder what she see's? I wonder what she is doing? But the fact of the matter is, I know she is in a perfect place. A place I know I will be going when I take my last breath here.

I can spend my life trying to answer the Why's? But instead, I think I will take what God has given me and use it.

I know God took her for a great purpose. So, I will just continue to seek out God's wisdom and understanding in my life.

He knows.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not to thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

April 8, 2011

3 months since Maddie...

4/6/11

Well, it's taken me a few days to write about the 3 Month birthday of Maddie.

I really don't even know where to begin, as I'm still completely heartbroken.

I guess, I pictured this 3 month mark so very differently than the way our lives are right now. And as I know she is no longer here, I still wish things were so very different.

I expected to be crying over "outgrown" clothes and moving up to the next size, but instead I'm crying over my little girl who I will never watch grow up. This breaks my heart.

I keep thinking every day, every month that goes by, it will get easier. Yet, it seems to feel exactly the same. The hurt is just as bad and I feel like I miss her more day in and day out.

I just want my Maddie Grace.

As I went about my day, I cried. I was sad and quite depressed. I tried to focus on the positive things in my life and stay busy with those, but Maddie weighed so heavy on my mind. I tried to remind myself that she was happy. And she is. But on this day, I just wasn't, and I was about to pretend to be.

I feel like I've stayed so positive through all of this but I was really struggling on this day.

By the time Rick got home, I was a mess.

He knew it and he called me throughout the day to check on me. We were planning on going to the cemetery after he got off work and taking some flowers to our little girls spot. Saying that still seems so unreal.

Rick had suggested we take the boys with us and I really didn't want to, but he thought it would be good to teach them we go there to "remember" Maddie. He knew that for many years to come we would be going there and he wanted them to be a part of that.

The boys don't have many memories of their sister, but they talk of her often, and I always want that to be a part of their lives.

So, we got ready and headed out the door. I got my flowers and the little bunny I was going to take over. Rick suggested the boys bring something, and so they each went and got a toy to bring so Maddie could see it. =) I thought that was so sweet. But so sad at the same time. I just wish they could have grown up playing together. So many wishes. But, God's will is still perfect.

When we pulled up to the cemetery, the tears were already flowing. I just can't believe this is my life. I can't believe this is where I have to go. I hate it.

When we arrived at her gravesite, Rick held my had as we walked toward her grave. Still so unreal. This was the 3rd time now that I had visited. I have such a hard time going. I know my Maddie is not here. I know that. She is happy and healthy and in Heaven. I know that, but it is still so very hard for me to go.

I heard all the birds chirping as I walked, I felt a sweet presence come over me. I'm so thankful for Spring arriving, and for all the birds who remind me of my sweet girl.

I leaned down and cleaned over the area and threw away the dead flowers.
I situated the "things" people have brought her and we placed the the new flowers down. Hot and light pink, so my Maddie Grace.

I set the bunny next to her little angel, and the boys set down their toys. At first Eli didn't want to leave his, but he did. It made me proud. Rick said a few words about her and then we prayed. We asked God for strength and peace, and once again He provided. I'm so thankful for his grace. I don't know how I would get through this without it. God's grace is sufficient.

Rick then took the boys to some of the surrounding graves to pray for some of their families too. He explained to the boys that these other graves were of babies, and their parents probably missed their babies too, like how we miss Maddie.

As I was still kneeling at my little girl's grave, I watched my AMAZING Husband take my little boys hands and pray for those parents. Pray that they were saved and pray that they had peace as they missed their babies. I then watched as he had the boys pray too.

It was an amazing moment. I have an amazing Husband. I just don't know men like him. He is one of a kind, and I'm so blessed to have him in my life. I can't imagine not having him to go through this life with and hold my hand in the hard times we are walking through. He is my rock. I love him so much.

As we left the cemetery that day, I felt a little better. I'm getting a little more used to this being my life, but I still hurt so much. I will always hurt.

There is another Mommy of a baby in Heaven, who told me these words this week, "To hurt much means we have loved much." Those words are so true.

I miss you Madeline Grace. I will always miss you. You taught me a love I didn't know existed. Happy 3 Months my sweet birdie girl. We love you.

My sweet boys kissing their sister.

I'm so lucky to have known this little girl. My little girl who has changed lives for the better and impacted souls for eternity. What a blessing she is!

2 Timothy 2:1
Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

April 7, 2011

Hello after Goodbye...

3/6/11

Today was Madeline's 3 month Birthday. I can't believe it's been 3 months.
I'll talk more about it tomorrow when I'm not so overwhelmed, but for now, here is a wonderful song that I heard over the weekend.

I love the promise of Hello after Goodbye.


Hello After Goodbye~ Legacy Five


Here are the words...

Hello After Goodbye

Verse 1
We dress in black and we say goodbye, how our hearts break and, oh, how we cry

Yet through we grieve, we still have hope

'Cause for all hearts of faith, we trust and know

Chorus
There is a hello after goodbye, a blessed reunion, promised in time

We will be with them far longer than we were without

No doubt, no more tears in our eyes

In that beautiful, wonderful, hello after goodbye

Verse 2
Next time we see them, we'll never more know

The sorrow and pain of letting go

We're with them forever, life without end

In that most blessed sweet moment when

Chorus
Bridge
We will see them again, be with them again

Laugh and talk like before, sing and worship forever more

April 6, 2011

God wants to hear you sing...

3.3.11

On Saturday evening, Rick and I had the opportunity to go to a Legacy Five/Greater Vision concert. We LOVE their music. We went with our friend Joey (and the pianist from our Church). He's a great friend of mine and Rick's and has been such an encouragement to us through the passing of Maddie Grace. He is always sending us songs and scripture verses to uplift us. Three months later, he still does this, it's wonderful.

We arrived at the Church where the concert was being held and I was looking forward to God speaking to my heart through the messages in those songs. I knew I could completely focus, because my boys were spending the day with their Aunt Becky and Uncle Joel and all their cousins. Rick and I were so happy that we could spend some time together, and hear such wonderful music.

Greater Vision sang first and then Legacy Five followed. It was so good.
After the first half of the concert there was an intermission. Rick, Joey and I along with Rick's parents went over to see a friend of ours, Leah. Leah is a long time friend of the family. We were talking and catching up and she introduced us to someone special to her. He was a 16 year old boy, and his name was Bo. He is Down Syndrome, but has a love for life and music like I've never seen before. It was his birthday and he was so happy to be at the concert. He shook our hands with a smile on his face and a sparkle in his eyes.

I have a special spot in my heart for those with Down Syndrome. When I was in my late teens, I worked in a group home of ladies with special needs. Two ladies in particular, Claudia and Linda, pulled at my heart strings. I've had such a heart for people with Down Syndrome since. They are amazing.

After we met with Leah and Bo, we headed back to our seats to enjoy the rest of the concert. It was what happened in that second half that really spoke to my heart.

Both Music groups sang some more songs individually and then sang some together. At one point, they stopped singing and the lead singer from Legacy Five began talking about Bo. He had mentioned how he was 16 and it was his birthday. He invited Bo up on stage and asked him if he wanted to sing with them. Of course with a smile on his face, Bo agreed.

You see, Bo says he wants to be a Southern Gospel singer when he grows up.

How precious is that? =)

They handed him a microphone and he sang along with them. What a moment!
I don't think there was a dry eye in that building. It was the sweetest thing I've ever seen.

After he left the stage, they sang some more amazing songs.
"Hello after Goodbye" and "Champion of Love."

But the song that really spoke volumes to me was "God wants to hear you sing."

Here are some of the Lyrics...

God wants to hear you sing
When the waves are crashing ’round you
When the fiery darts surround you
When despair is all you see
God wants to hear your voice
When the wisest man has spoken
And says, “Your circumstance is as hopeless as can be”
That’s when God wants to hear you sing

He loves to hear our praise on our cheerful days
When the pleasant times outweigh the bad, by far
But when suffering comes along
And we still sing Him songs
That is when we bless the Father’s heart.


Wonderful words, huh? =)

It got me thinking, God does want to hear us sing. On the good days, and the bad. During the happy times and during the sad. It's in moments of complete sorrow, that joy is born. It's in the moments that we are the weakest, that God's perfect strength comes in to help us.

I thought about Bo and how much him singing that day must have blessed the Lord's heart. Just precious.

God DOES want to hear us sing.

I walked away that night, encouraged. Encouraged and blessed by the words I heard and the witnesses I saw.

I'm feeling better. God is putting joy back into my heart day by day. I miss Madeline. I will always miss her. I'm just thankful that God is helping me.

I'm glad he is giving me a song again.

And I'm very thankful that he is helping me to sing that song.

I just love these words...

God wants to hear you sing
When the waves are crashing ’round you
When the fiery darts surround you
When despair is all you see
God wants to hear your voice
When the wisest man has spoken
And says, “Your circumstance is as hopeless as can be”
That’s when God wants to hear you sing


Thank you Lord for putting a song back in my heart and thank you for letting sweet Bo be such an inspiration to me! What a blessing!

"And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD."
Psalm 40:3 (KJV)

April 5, 2011

The perfect tree...

3/2/11

Saturday was a wonderful day for Rick and I. We woke up to the sun shining and the birds chirping. I could see my birdie girl all around me in the spring day that the Lord had given us. It has been a long hard winter and I was so thankful for the sunshine.

We spent the morning at Church, and then later that afternoon we went to do something really special. A sweet friend of mine, Bethany, had suggested at Maddie's funeral that we should buy her a tree and plant it in her memory. I thought it was a great idea. I told Rick we could make an area in the yard where we planted it, where we could put a bench and the birdhouse the boys made Maddie. I thought it would be a perfect spot to sit and read my Bible and talk to God and my sweet girl.

So, we headed out to find the perfect tree.

And we found it.

I told Rick and my Dad that I wanted it to bloom pink.

My Dad had mentioned that there is a Dogwood tree that blooms pink every year at Easter time for a couple of weeks.

Perfect.

A Pink Dogwood to honor my girl.

We called over to a nursery and we found one. Since it's just turning to spring here in Southern Ohio, I was surprised that they were available.

We walked around the nursery yard and looked at many different Dogwoods.

Some were little, some were big. Some were thin and some were full.

We found the perfect one.

Rick and I both agreed, it was Maddie's tree.

We stood there as the man was telling us how to plant it and take care of this particular tree. He was going into great detail on how to do so.
I remember while he was talking my mind slipped away to Maddie Grace.

We are buying a tree and learning how to take care of it, when all I really wanted was to be taking care of my little girl. It broke my heart.

I didn't want to plant and prune a tree. I wanted to change and feed my daughter. I was sad.

I looked back up to the man, with tears in my eyes and thanked him for the information. I told him that this tree was going to be planted in memory of my daughter, and that is why I wanted to make sure I knew exactly how to care for it. I could tell it touched him.

As we walked away, I was sad. yet I was happy too. I felt like we were honoring Madeline in a wonderful way.

We may have to wait a few weeks to plant the tree until the weather gets a little better, but I will post pictures as soon as we do. And as the rest of Maddie's Memory Garden comes together, I will post more. I can't wait to sit and watch the birdies come and enjoy their new bird house.
I think the boys will be proud that they did something so special to remember their sister.

After we left that day, I kept thinking of something else my Dad had told me about the Pink Dogwood tree. He told me there is a legend that the cross that Jesus was crucified on, was a Dogwood tree. This sparked an interest in me, so I researched it online. I read that this certain tree attracts many birds. =) But I found some other things too.

This is what I found.... There is no Biblical truth to this. These stories are just legends, but they are still interesting.

Enjoy~

Two thousand years ago, few trees in the Middle East were big enough to construct anything. However, one tree was valued above the others for its thick trunk and fine, strong wood.

When the Romans came to rule over Jerusalem, their government used this same timber to build the crosses for executing criminals. A group of workers were assigned to gather wood for the crosses. Before long, every Roman official knew the best wood came from these gatherers of execution wood, so those workers became popular.

One day, the wood gatherers received a special request. An officer of the Roman court came and said, "The King of Jews is to be put to death. Deliver an extra-large cross made from your finest wood."

So, a fresh tree was cut from the forest of the trees with thick trunks and fine, strong wood. An extra-tall (and extra-heavy) cross was quickly made and delivered.

Three days after the death of Jesus of Nazareth, the chief wood gatherer got alarming news. "All of our finest trees are withering!" the messenger whispered. The wood gatherer hurried to the forest and saw that it was true.

Several years later, the chief wood gatherer heard that, every spring, many people visited the old forest that had once made his job so easy. Despite his advancing years, he set out to discover why. He saw the remains of forest, now like a salty bottoms, with only a few trees still standing tall, bare, lifeless and rotting.

But what was this? As he drew closer, his feeble eyes could make out the people walking among thousands of beautiful, flowering bushes.

Seeing one of his own workers there, the old man said, "No one could ever make a cross out of this twisted wood. Our finest tree has gone to the dogs!" He noticed the beautiful white flowers, each blossom looking as if it had been burned from the touch of a miniature cross.

As told to Ben Baston by his grandmother, Louise Brown.


There Is A Legend...

At the time of Crucifixion the Dogwood had been the size of the oak and other forest trees. So firm and strong was the tree that it was chosen as the timber for the cross. To be used thus for such a cruel purpose greatly distressed the tree, and Jesus nailed upon it, sensed this.

In His gentle pity for all sorrow and suffering Jesus said to the tree:
" Because of your regret and pity for My suffering, never again shall the dogwood tree grow large enough to be used as a cross. Henceforth it shall be slender and bent and twisted and its blossoms shall be in the form of a cross--two long and two short petals. And in the center of the outer edge of each petal there will be nail prints, brown with rust and stained with red, and in the center of the flower will be a crown of thorns, and all who see it will remember."

The pink dogwood is said to be blushing for shame because of the cruel purpose which it served in the Crucifixion.

The weeping dogwood further symbolized the sorrow.
The red dogwood, called the Cherokee, bears the color to remind us of the blood shed by our Savior.



Isn't it neat how God lets us see Him in everything? I will not just look at this tree and think of Maddie Grace and the short lifetime I had with her.

But... I will also look at this tree and remember my Savior, who gave His life for mine. Thank you Lord for your life and the price you paid for us. May we never forget what took place on that tree the day you died for our sins.

April 4, 2011

Seeing the graces of God...

3/30/11 (Wednesday)

Today has been a roller coaster of emotions... again.

It seems like my days just seem to take on similar characteristics. Up one minute, down the next and so on.

It's okay, and I'm learning how to live my life like this and I'm dealing with it, hopefully graciously. That is my prayer.

I really had something happen today and I just had to share.

I took Eli to speech therapy and watched him as he headed back with his teacher. I have been waiting in the waiting room now during his sessions.

I am ALWAYS the only one there and it's always nice and quiet. I have been bringing a book with me, so I can get some great reading in.

I leaned back, let out a sigh and opened a book. I've been reading a certain book each week during the hour session. It's kind of become my time to get away into someone else's life and disconnect from my life and sorrow for just a little while.

I began to read and was very into my book when all the sudden I got interrupted.

A lady walked into the room with a baby carrier and sat down.

My eyes wandered.

I could see a little pair of pink shoes sticking out from underneath the blanket, and I watched as the Mommy sat down and got situated. I saw the blanket start to move as this little baby was beginning to wake up. I could tell it was a little girl.

I looked back down at my book, but I couldn't focus on the words.
I couldn't stop looking over at that little baby.

The Mom then pulled back the cover, and I saw her. She was beautiful.

I'm not exactly sure how old she was but I'm guessing in the 3-4 month range.

Maddie Grace would almost be 3 months old. Wow, I wonder if she would be that big?

I watched the Mom lean down and hold the little girl's hand. She was stroking it as to calm her, even though the little girl wasn't crying. Her eyes lit up at her Mama, and I watched as she smiled at her. It melted my heart.

I wondered who they were waiting on. A big brother, a big sister. Someone who was doing therapy.

I spent the next 10 minutes reading the same paragraph over and over, I couldn't focus on anything but that sweet baby girl. I was really missing Maddie.

I wondered why of all days, this little girl just had to come to this waiting room. Why I had to be in torture as I watched her Mom pick her up and snuggle her. I wanted to hold Maddie again so bad.

It was like another reminder that my daughter was gone. It was killing me.

I wanted to hold that baby. I wanted to snuggle her. I wanted to feel my arms full again. Just one more time.

That was when it happened.

She stood up with the little girl, grabbed her car seat and a Bumbo seat and she walked out.

I laid my head back on the wall and let out a cry. Tears instantly started streaming down my face and I fell to pieces. It was a good thing no one else was around. I was a mess.

I kept replaying it over and over in my head. The Mom with her little girl, how she was letting her know and feel her love. How she was showing that she cared, yet she didn't ever say anything. I never heard her speak.

That's when it hit me.

That little girl wasn't there waiting on an older sibling who was struggling to say their "r" sound.

That little girl was there to be seen by a therapist, and I'm pretty sure that little girl was deaf.

I felt awful.

Here, I am watching this Mom with her precious little girl and wishing I had mine in her car seat with me there that day. All the while not realizing the challenge this own mother was facing in the life of her daughter.

It took me a minute to catch my breath. I didn't even realize.

A few minutes later I heard the baby crying from the back room.
It was the same cry I've heard week after week during this very hour. It was from that very little girl.

It was the cry that I prayed and asked the Lord to hush in the first few weeks after Maddie passed away. I had such a hard time hearing babies cry.
I just wanted to hear Maddie cry. I wanted her to need me.

The baby stopped a minute later and then I heard something else.

Laughter.

And not just any laughter, but a familiar sound I hear often.

It was Eli, and he was giggling and getting excited about a game he was playing with his teacher.

It was in that moment, I said, Okay Lord. I understand.

Yes, it may have been hard to see that little girl enter the waiting room that day. But... Her Mom's life wasn't all roses either. She had a great challenge set before her. Her little girl couldn't hear her speak, and here my little boy just struggles with a couple of speech sounds.

It broke my heart.

I sat there in awe for a minute praying and asking God to be with that Mom and baby. Once I got done, then I resorted back to my book, anxious to read the next chapter.

It was in those pages over the next 20 minutes that the Lord spoke to me even more.

The chapter was on learning to see God.

John 1:14
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth

Here is an excerpt from the book. One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp

"That's the mystery map to the deep seeing! We saw His glory....because...... we have all received one grace after another. We have all received one grace after another, but we only recognize the glory of God in this moment when we wake to the one grace after another.
If you want to be really alert to seeing Jesus' divine beauty, his glory.... then make sure you tune your senses to see His grace. That's what His Glory is full of.
GRACE~ that is what the full life is full of, what the God~glory life is full of. To see the glory, name the graces. Retune the impaired senses to sense the Spirit, to see the grace. Couldn't I do that anywhere? Why is it so hard? Practice, practice."

I read on and then read this..... " The practice of giving thanks.... eucharisteo.... this is the way we practice the presence of God, stay present in His presence, and it is always a practice with the eyes. We don't have to change what we see. Only the way we see it."

Wow.... What truth...

Staying present in the presence of God? Yes please.
Not changing what we see, but how we see it? I have so much to learn.

I should not have been sulking that morning.

I should have been counting the graces of God.

I should have been thankful that the little boy down the hall who struggled so much with his hearing early on.... Can hear.

I should have been thankful that my other precious little boy who was at school at that very moment, could hear. And now, can even read.

I should have been thankful that morning, that I had met Madeline Grace Ross. I watched her eyes search me out the first time I held her. I felt her fist hold tight to my finger. I knew her.

God's graces.

He has given me such wonderful grace in this life.

I've missed it.

I want to see Him. I want to see His face. I want to know Him. I want Him to know me.

Oh God, help me as I fail so often, and as my mind goes to the worst place.
Tune my senses to see your glory and your grace.

I love how she said...

"That's what the glory life is full of. Grace~ That's what the full life is full of..." Ann Voskamp

God, my life is full of grace. Everyday, you are blessing me with more graces that I deserve. Help me to really see you. Help me to see things the way you want me to see them, and not how my human nature tends to. Help me to see You.

Thank you Lord for being full of glory and grace.




The day I saw God's gift of grace, face to face. Everyday, he gives me more. <3

April 2, 2011

Your thoughts...

I was writing this week and thinking of how far I've come in the last (almost) 3 months. I looked back to the first post I wrote when everything had just happened. Then I read through some of the other posts.

I remember each of those moments vividly, and I'm glad that I have recorded them here. I think that God will lead me back to them when time's get tough and I can see how He's carried me.

My sweet friend told me not long ago, "Natalie, you are not writing this blog, God is." That was such a compliment to me and I hope and pray that those words can be true. I want God to use me.

God is really doing a work in the heart of my Husband and I, and I want him to get the glory!

Our story is a sad one, no doubt, but my prayer is that God has spoke to you through the words I write here. Many of you have shared that they have, and I'm so thankful for that.

I was wondering if there were certain posts that spoke to you? If so, would you be willing to share which ones? I would love to hear how the experiences and comfort the Lord has given me, has affected you.

I was thinking about His eye is on the Sparrow. The Snow Globe. The Birdcage and the Quilt. Putting the pieces back together. My Maddie Grace and here crowns. God has really showed His hand hasn't He?

I feel blessed to have a place to share my thoughts and how the Lord is carrying me through this difficult time.

I would love to hear from you and what has touched your heart.

Much Love,
Natalie Ross

April 1, 2011

My brother and sister...

3/29/11

I write so often in these posts about my day to day experiences, but I want you to get to know me in other ways too.

One thing you may not know about me is that I have one brother. His name is Erik and He's three years older than me.

We had a great childhood, and we have always had a great relationship.
I have so many fun memories of the two of us from over the years.

Sure we fought growing up and didn't always get along (typical brother and sister), and he definitely tormented me in my High school years.
But, we still love each other. =)

I always loved having an older brother to watch over and protect me, and he always did. There is just nothing like a Bubby(his nickname from me).

I found this quote and thought it was cute. =)
Sometimes being a brother is even better than being a superhero. ~Marc Brown

I get so sad now thinking that my boy's little sister isn't here to grow up with them. There is such a bond between a big brother and little sister. It really is special thing. Erik has always been there for me, and he especially is now. I just love him.

It makes me so sad to see how much my brother is hurting too from Maddie passing away. He was so excited for her to arrive, and I just know she just would have adored her Uncle Erik. It breaks my heart to think she isn't here to enjoy our family holidays, where Erik chases the boys around and throws them in the air. He's such a wonderful uncle and we are lucky to have him in our lives.

He is married to the love of his life, Adrian, and they have a precious little 2 year old named, Kaelan. He is such a joy.

Erik and Adrian have been wonderful to Rick and I through this whole process of losing Maddie. It lessens our weight of sorrow, knowing we have a brother and sister who have been there walking through this with us.
We are so lucky to be so blessed with them in our lives.

Erik picked the perfect girl in my opinion, Adrian and I get along great, and I love spending time with her.

I said all that to say this...

I love how God sends the perfect person at the perfect time to give you exactly what you need.

Today, that person was Adrian.

Rick was out of town, and she knew that I was going to be lonely for a couple of days, so she invited me to lunch and to hang out.

I love that even though I never had a sister growing up, I have three sisters now through marriage. Annette, Adrian and Becky are so great. I'm really lucky that God blessed me with having them in my life.

Adrian and I planned on meeting at our favorite place (Chipotle) for lunch, once Noah got out of school, and then we were going to let the boys play at her house. She has the worlds biggest toy room, and my boys love going over there!

Before I met her, I ran through to grab the boys some lunch. They don't really care for Chipotle. So Mac n Chesse and apple fries was what was on their menu that day.

As I was waiting in the line (it was taking forever) I was staring off.

I noticed the Applebee's across the street and immediately my mind wandered, to Maddie and the day I found out she was a girl...

After my Ultrasound, Annette, Adrian and my Mom and I all went to lunch at that Applebee's. I remember I was beaming with excitement. I had just gotten such wonderful news, that we were having a girl! I remember chatting with the girls and making phone calls to everyone I knew. It was a day of complete joy for me. I loved every second of that day, and I will never forget it. I almost wished I could be back in that moment, before I knew the pain and grief of losing a child. I wished I could go back to the joy of that day.

But, here I sat, months later, the complete opposite. Sad and heartbroken.

I pulled forward as it was my turn and thought just how different life was now. Yet, I tried to stay positive.

I had some other things on my heart that day other than Maddie, and they were at the forefront of my mind. So I went back to thinking on those.

When we got to Chipotle and our boys ran to each other, I couldn't help but smile. My boys LOVE their cousin, Kaelan. It was sweet to watch them.

We grabbed our food and sat down to eat, but instead of just a meal that day, Adrian shared much more. She shared her heart with me. She gave me advice, and it brought me such comfort.

Sometime's you just need your sister....

She's always there when I'm having one of my "bad" days to let me cry.
She knows exactly what to say, but most of all, she just listens. I'm so thankful for that.

I felt that day, that she could feel my pain. She knew my heart and she hurt for me, and I hurt for her. I'm so thankful that she's in my life.

I remember just a few days earlier this week she told me something that has really stuck with me. When discussing having another baby, I told her that even if I got pregnant soon, that it would at least 9 months of waiting to hold that baby. I didn't know if I could even wait that long, my arms ache for a baby, for Maddie Grace, now.

She reminded me that it wasn't so. She said that I will be holding that baby, getting to know that baby much sooner. I would learn that child by it's hiccups and kicks, just like I knew Maddie. Every movement I feel, holding that baby inside will give me the satisfaction of carrying that baby. She reminded me of getting to see the heartbeat on the ultrasound screen, and all the other exciting moments that go along with pregnancy. I would be holding that child, all 9 months. I wouldn't feel empty at all.

She was right. I love the idea of that.

I may not get to hold Maddie again, but I will hold another baby and I won't have to wait 9 months to do it. It will be the moment I find out I'm expecting. I love that... because my arms still ache so.

She always has a way of making me feel better. She really is my sister.
I'm so thankful that we have each other in our lives. I just hope that I am as good to her as she is to me.

And I hope and pray that happiness will fall on our family soon. I know that we could most definitely use some good news during this difficult time. It's been a long hard road for all of us, but I'm thankful they are walking down it with me.

So thank you Adrian, for loving me like a sister. I'm so glad that Erik met you and brought you into our family. We love you.

“For there is no friend like a sister, in calm or stormy weather, to cheer one on the tedious way, to fetch one if one goes astray, to lift one if one totters down, to strengthen whilst one stands.” Christina G. Rossetti

Aunt Adri loving on her girl. =)
Uncle Erik making Maddie Grace smile. =)

We are so blessed to have them in our life!

Other things may change us, but we start and end with the family. ~Anthony Brandt