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July 30, 2011

The Nest...

Last week, I felt like I couldn't hear the birds...

The sweet little birds that sing outside my window. The ones that come and play in the bird bath and in Maddie's tree.

I felt like I couldn't hear them.

I really don't know why. Maybe it was the overwhelming heat that was keeping them away and in the shade, but it was making me so sad. I just wanted to hear them chirp. I just wanted to feel close to my birdie girl.

My week started off really rough.

Monday, I received something in the mail that no mother should ever have to hold in her hand...

Maddie Grace's Death Certificate.

I didn't realize what it was or I would have never opened it. There is something so wrong about seeing Madeline's sweet precious name on a certificate describing death.

I couldn't believe it. I looked at it briefly and put it away.

It felt so unfair. I never even received a copy of her Birth Certificate and here I held a paper that spoke of her death. It completely broke my heart.

I didn't tell Rick, I didn't want him to see it. I didn't want his heart to break all over again like mine had. I just kept quiet. I prayed and I kept listening for those sweet birdie's to cheer me up.

The following day, On Tuesday, my boys ended up going to the Winnie the Pooh movie with their Mimi and Papa. I knew they would have a great time, so I was happy to let them go.

While they were gone, Rick suggested that we get started on taking down Madeline's nursery....

"What?" I thought... 

I was NO WHERE NEAR READY FOR THAT.

But he knew we needed to do it and with the boys being gone, it would be the best time...

So, we went to walmart and bought a bunch of pink tubs. Tubs to pack up her entire room. (sigh)

At first I couldn't go in. I have been walking by her room for the last almost 7 months, wishing things were different. Wishing she could be in there.

Rick offered to do it all himself, but I had to go in. I had to hold and touch the things I bought for her, prepared for her, as we packed them up.

I was a mess. I opened the drawers, and started putting clothes away. I found her paci and clip that they gave me from the morning she passed away. I found her blankets and 2 little outfits she wore. I held her pink and turquoise tutu and remembered the day I put her in it and the photographer snapped pictures. I wept.

I cried and cried. I don't think I've ever cried that hard. It felt so wrong.

Why did I have to pack these things up? Why couldn't she have stayed?

Rick held me. We prayed. Then we kept packing. It took us all night to pack everything up.

All night.

By the end, we had 6 huge pink tubs, 2 boxes, a swing, car seat, 2 bouncers, a stroller, a bathtub, a play mat, along with a rug and all her decor piled in the middle of my living room. All pink, packed up to the ceiling.

So many plans. None of it used.

When I walked back up to the room, all that was left was a crib, dresser, changer and chair with no cushions.

No more pink.

It already looked like a boys room. Jonah's room.

I pulled out the bags of outfits I had bought for him and hung them in the closet. I folded his blankets and put them in his drawers.

I never expected to do this. I thought that room would hold a little girl who would grow up there. I saw pink and ponytails and lots of baby dolls.

Now, I am buying blue and green and puppy dogs again.

My life is so different. Familiar with sweet baby boys items, but oh so different.

My nest has most definitely been stirred up. My sweet birdie girl has taken flight from this world, never to return again. Yet, I go on making this nest comfortable for the ones who have stayed...

It has been such a emotionally taxing week for me, but in the midst of my weakness and sorrow, God still sends reinforcements. He still sends blessings...

I received a letter and package from one of my sweetest friends from Tennessee...

My sweet friend Robyn (who also has a great love for birds :) sent me a package with the most precious story...

Let me type what she wrote...

"A few weeks ago, our shrubs were out of control. They finally got trimmed and while stannding on our front porch, I looked down and saw a bird's nest in plain view. I couldn't believe how low it was, but I always remembered that sparrows build their nests in bushes and lower trees. I immediately ran in and grabbed my camera and started taking shots. It was such a rare opportunity to be so close to a nest.

 I had my camera up to my face and you popped into my head. I knew it was for a reason. For the last 6 months, I've asked the Lord to lay you on my heart at the moments when you need prayer. I know that when I think of you, it's for a reason. (So I pray for you) But this time, I knew it couldn't stop there.

So, I took some pictures without disturbing the nest, and then it hit me- There were four eggs...
I don't think I have to tell you the significance of that. =) Four babies!

I couldn't believe how perfect that was. I began preparing to send you a prints of my fun little discovery. Every time I looked at the pictures, I fell in love with these future little babies. So precious. So perfect.

I had wanted to keep an eye out for the baby birds, but we had been traveling and I somehow missed the hatching and all the rest. When I went back to check on the nest, all of them were gone ~ except one...

One little bird never left the nest. It never flew with it's siblings. It's mother never got the chance to teach it to fly next to her.

But, even though she didn't grow into a grown bird, she was still a part of that family.

She was still a part of that nest.

She was there.

She existed.

She told a story that touched someones life"....

(Chills)

Isn't it amazing how at your lowest points, God sends a blessing along to lift up your spirits and help you carry on?

That day, God used Robyn.

She went on to tell me what Maddie has meant to her and how much her story has impacted her life in so many ways....

I'm so thankful for her friendship, and I'm so thankful for her care and concern for me.

Robyn was right. She may not have grown and flown with her big brothers and now her little brother on the way, but she did exist. She was here. She was a part of our little nest and she always will be.

Time will go on, room decor may change, but one thing is for sure.

Madeline Grace will always be my third little birdie. My little girl.

She got her wings to Heaven a little before everyone else, but she blessed our nest for the short time she was here.

She will always be remembered. She will always be a part of this family. And she will always be my sweet little birdie girl...



Since that day, I have been hearing the birds sing again. Their songs have lifted my spirits.

We are so excited about preparing for Jonah and making a beautiful nursery for him. We can't wait to welcome him home and tell him all about his precious sister who made a way for him.

We decided to keep the turquoise walls and the beautiful tree mural that Rick painted on the wall. This way a piece of what we did for Maddie, can carry on for years to come.

Please continue to pray for our sweet little boy during the second half of my pregnancy. He has given us so much hope again and when the sad days do come, he brings me joy with his little kicks and hiccups. <3

He is going to be a wonderful addition to our sweet little nest.

Much Love to you...

Natalie Ross

July 23, 2011

Three little words...

Our human language is an amazing thing. The words we say and hear affect us so very strongly on a daily basis. We can speak in so many different ways.

We can speak in love.
We can speak in anger.
We can speak in laughter.
We can speak in pain.

But we speak...

When we talk, our emotions pour out into the words we are saying.

But.... it's those very words that we hear, that really change us.

I'll never forget the first time I heard...

I love you.

I'll never forget the look on Rick's face when I heard him speak these words to me for the first time. It was really early on in relationship but we both just really new. Of course I immediately replied "I love you" right back. It was love and saying those words was just an outpouring of the emotions in our hearts.

Those three little words meant so much to me. Those three little words still do every time he tells them to me.

It's amazing the power behind our words.

Last weekend I heard another set of three little words that changed me so much.

I'll never forget hearing them twice before. Once was the day we found out that our sweet first baby was a little boy. Then again for our second born. There is nothing like that moment in the ultrasound room when you hear what the little baby is going to be, Boy or Girl?

It's such a special moment. It's a moment that changes your family forever. I remember them all vividly.

The day we found out Madeline was a girl, was one of the best days of my life. Deep down I just knew that she was a girl and Rick and I were so anxious to hear the news. I think I could tell before the ultrasound tech even told us, but we both cried when she announced it. Shock, excitement, and joy overwhelmed us. It was one of those moments that you never wanted to end. It was so so special. After 2 little boys, God was giving us a little splash of pink, our sweet Maddie Grace.

Going in to last weeks ultrasound, I was a wreck. I was nervous, scared, emotional but also very excited. I "knew" what the baby was, and I just wanted to hear them say it. "It's a Girl." I thought that our world would resume and life would go on and we could fall in love with another beautiful baby girl and this one, God was going to let us keep. She was our hope.

Everyone I know said we were having a girl. Rick and I thought we were having a girl. Our hearts and so many signs led us to believe is was a girl. My Mommy intuition, which never failed me with the other three, said Girl.

But as I laid on the table looking at my sweet baby while holding my Husbands hand, instead I heard these words...

It's a Boy!

A Boy?

I looked to Rick and he looked back at me. A Boy? So many things ran through my head. My baby girl name. My beautiful girlie nursery. Our family with another sweet girl. But Mostly....

Maddie Grace.

I looked back to the screen with tears in my eyes. I watched as my new little boy was kicking his little legs and moving his arms. I watched as the ultrasound tech was trying to move his little hand out of the way. He had it right down in the gender area. (lol) There was no doubt about it. He was definitely a boy.

I watched as he opened his mouth and moved his little head. He was beautiful. A picture of perfection.

At one point he looked like he was just kicked back with his little legs up in the air, just relaxing. Happy.

I listened and looked over to my other two boys. They were excited about seeing their new brother. They were going to have a little brother. Someone else to play swords and ball with.

As the ultrasound came to the end, I looked around the room. Everyone had tears in their eyes.

What do you say? What do you say to a couple who wanted more than anything for God to give them another baby girl to love and raise?

You may think that I'm sounding insensitive, but I'm not. I'm just still grieving. Less than a year ago, I was in that very same room hearing "It's a Girl."

Our lives were changed. We had a daughter. Madeline came and then Madeline went back home. It was too soon for us. We missed our little girl. We miss our little girl.

Maybe it was too soon? Maybe I hadn't healed enough. Maybe we should have waited longer?

It really didn't matter. God knew.

A baby boy is coming and he will help us. He will fill our arms. He will give us joy.

Yes, I realized in that moment how much healing I still have to do in missing Maddie Grace, but I also realized this...

I AM BLESSED.

God has chosen to give us another little boy. He will add to this family in such an amazing way. I can only think that God must have some HUGE plans for him. Everyone I know was praying that God would bless us with another little girl. Everyone I know thought that another girl would help us heal.

But God knew better.

He gave us a Boy.

While in my heart I'll never understand why God took Maddie back home. I'll also never understand why he chose not to give us another girl, but I do know this...

I will love and cherish this new little boy with my whole heart. I will pour every ounce of my heart into him. I will teach him all about his blessing of a sister who paved the way for him to be here.

I will raise him for the Lord and teach him God's word. I will tell him how we should never lose our faith and never give up hope.

God is good.

Always.

God is good.



Introducing....

Jonah Asher Ross


 Jonah means "Dove" (We wanted a bird meaning :)
 Asher means "Happy or Blessed" =)







He was sent to us while our hearts were broken. He has been sent to give us hope.

Jonah is our hope.

Hope is not a gender.

Thank you for listening to my heart today. I realize this is raw and real. These words are truly my heart on paper. Rick and I are still healing. We are still aching for our little girl who left too soon, but we are beyond thrilled that God has given us the opportunity to be parents again. We DO NOT take it lightly.

Thank you Lord, and thank you friends for continuing to be here...

We love you all.

So once again, on a little bit of a different note... those 3 little words....

IT'S A BOY!!!!!!!!! =)


My favorite picture of them all! I'm so in love with this little boy already! <3

I'm sure you will fall in love with him too.

Much Love,
Natalie <3



July 21, 2011

It's a...

Boy!

God has blessed us with another Baby Boy on the way. I have lot's to share about him along with some adorable ultrasound pics. But for now, I'm exhausted, emotionally and physically.

I'll blog again soon. <3

Love,
Natalie

July 19, 2011

Stand still...

My heart was so full on Sunday and I wanted to share why....

Since our sweet Maddie Grace passed away, I have been led to and heard of so many other families who have walked, or are walking this same road of grief.

Most of those I've been introduced to, I've only talked to on Facebook or through my blog. I can feel their pain through the words they type me, and it breaks my heart because I know this pain too. I have been constantly praying for so many of these families, who had to say goodbye too soon.

On Sunday, I saw a family who was experiencing this very grief first hand.

Last week, I got a phone call about another sweet little girl who had gone home to be with the Lord at just 3 months old. It completely broke my heart.

Remember when I talked about how 2 souls got saved at Madeline's funeral? Well, one of the gentlemen who accepted Christ that day, was now walking this same road of grief in his own life with his grand baby.

My head was spinning after I heard. Another family? Another little girl? Oh it broke my heart.

I just kept thinking about them all weekend. I thought of them on Friday when my precious Father in law was performing the funeral. I'm sure that was so hard on him too. I thought of the broken hearted Mom and Dad and Grandma and Grandpa's who were where we were not that long ago. I couldn't get it off my mind.

I have such a heart and burden now for families who have to go through this. It's just so hard.

I prayed for them all weekend and asked God to give them strength.

As Sunday morning came, I headed off to Church. After Sunday School I made my way up to the Choir.
I was in the absolute best mood and I had a big smile on my face all morning. God has really been helping me to heal little by little.

I looked out over the crowd and I noticed this family was there. I couldn't take my eyes off them. I watched as they wiped tears away during the hymns. My mind rushed back to how I was just 3 days after Maddie's funeral.

My heart was so broken and raw. I felt so weak and full of grief. Yet, I went to Church and I was seeking God out. So were they.

We sang our specials and I cried all the way through "His Life for Mine."

I cry through most of our specials these days. My heart is still tender and the words just seem so much more real to me now. I feel the closest to God I've ever been, because He has been the one who has carried me through the last 6 months.

Broken but Healing. That has been my life.

As soon as the Choir dismissed, I headed strait towards them. I just wanted to hug them and tell them how heartbroken I am for them. We stood there and cried together and I just told them to cling to the Lord. He will get them through.

It was such a moment for me.

I felt like for once, I was on the other side.

Yes, the pain is still so much. Yes, the grief is still there. Yes, I miss her more now than I ever have.

But, I felt like I was able to minister to someone else for once, after so many people have ministered to me.

For so long, I've had blessings, and prayers and comforting words poured into my life.

For so long, I've thought how lucky I am to have so many wonderful people in my life.

I know the pain. I know the ache. I know that it never goes away.

But, I also know that the God is good no mater what.

After I made my way back to my pew and listened to Amanda sing "You're still God," I was really feeling His presence. I know how much that song touched me after Maddie passed away. I wondered how that song touched this precious family.

Then my Pastor stood to preach an amazing message on "Standing Still..."
 
Exodus 14:13 Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord...

It was so touching.

When the battle around us is raging, and we don't know how we will make it through, we just need to stand still and see the Lord. Stand still and look to him.

We are all going through a battle of some kind. We are all in the midst of fighting for something.

In those moments of desperation or despair we need to just stop, stand still and look to the Lord.

We need to trust the Lord to carry us through. He will help us with the fight. He will provide us with strength.

When you go through a battle or a trial, when you are at your lowest point. Just stand still and look to the Lord.

Stand still.

What an amazing truth and blessing from the Word of God.

So many times over the many months of heartache we've endured, this is exactly what we've done. Where else do you look, but to the Lord? For He knows all things. He created all things. He will take care of all things.

Thank you Lord for this reminder to just stand still and see You!

Love and Prayers,
Natalie

July 17, 2011

Story behind "The Anchor Holds"...

A precious follower of my blog, Lori, informed me that this song was written by a grieving father, whose child had passed away. I never knew the story behind this song would hit so close to home. No wonder I could connect with those words on such a personal level. He wrote his heart in those words....

Check it out!
The story behind the writing of this song begins in 1992 when my wife and I experienced what we now call our year of sorrows.

My father died that year, we were facing health problems, I had come to a point of burnout from being in pastoral ministry for 19 years, and the church that I had helped plant was entering the first phases of what became a devastating split. I was also re-evaluating the focus of my calling. I was weary and discouraged.

Then, in the summer of '92, my wife experienced her third miscarriage. We wept as we held the tiny 14-week fetus of our son in our hands. It truly felt as if our visions and dreams had "slipped right through like they were only grains of sand". It seemed as if the best years were over.

I was given a sabbatical from pastoring for six months. During that time, my wife and I grieved and prayed. I also began to play the piano again for hours at a time, alone with God. During this time of sadness and uncertainty, the Holy Spirit gave me a song which I entitled "The Anchor Holds". As I would sing it, I began to experience God's comfort, encouragement and hope. Eventually, fresh vision came and I entered a new phase of the calling on my life.

In the spring of 1993, my old friend Ray Boltz heard about the song during a time of sharing together after one of his concerts in Maine. A few months later, Ray called me and expressed interest in possibly recording it. I sent the song to him "in the rough" and told him that he was free to adapt it for his purposes. Ray reworked some of the lyrics, shortened it a bit, and added a musical bridge and recorded it for his "Allegiance" project. It was released for national airplay in November 1994.

The response to this song has truly been overwhelming. I am so grateful that God can take our broken pieces and make something of value out of them. I am also thankful Ray Boltz who saw the potential of this song and utilized it for God's glory.



Lawrence Chewning

"The Anchor Holds" - The Story Behind the Song


"The Anchor Holds" written and performed by Lawrence Chewning












July 14, 2011

The Anchor Holds...

Hebrews 6:19 a... Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast...

My Husband recently purchased a boat for our family, and we have been going out to a nearby lake. I've enjoyed being out on the water, and feeling the sun and the breeze on my face. I've loved watching my boys full of joy, bobbing up and down as we go over the waves. I found myself in a moment of awe, thinking just how lucky I am to have such special moments with Rick, Noah and Eli. We have gone out twice now, and I've really enjoyed these moments as a family.


Rick has been teaching me all the different things I need to know about boating. He has taught me how to drive the boat, dock the boat (which I'm terrible at, haha) and how to put the anchor down. As we know, the purpose of the anchor is to hold the boat in place.


One thing he told me about the anchor is that you have to cast it off the front of the boat. The reason why is, if you cast it off the back, it could drag the boat down . If you cast it off the front, the boat will stay firmly in place.

Since I didn't grow up on boats, I never knew that. Maybe it's common sense, but I didn't know.


I started thinking about this, and just how important the anchor is.


It held us in place while the boys were swimming. Though the waves came with the passing boaters, the boat stayed put. It didn't waver.


It made me think...


God (truly) is our anchor.


We will have high waves and rough winds come into our lives. There will be storms so great that we may never feel like we will ever recover, but we will, because God is our anchor.


He will hold us in place. He will be our refuge from the storm. He will keep us safe.


I truly feel like over the last 6 months, God has been my anchor through so much. He has kept me in place when I just felt like floating away. He has held me up when it seemed so easy to just go under.


He has been there.


He has also, been my hope. I'm so thankful for hope.


Hebrews 6:19 a... Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast...


So many days, Hope has held me still. Hope has been my anchor of the soul.


It's amazing how God always speaks to me through through His word and music. When I feel week or empty, He will send a song my way to give me strength and encourage me.


Sunday, He sent the song, The Anchor holds. (Fitting, huh? =)


As I listened to Annette sing the beautiful words, I found myself weeping and thanking God that He Is my anchor.


He is directing my course. He is bringing me through the storms. Though tattered and broken, He carries me and helps me carry on. He is my anchor. He is my rock. He is my hope...


I wish I could play the beautiful version I heard of Annette singing along with the piano. She's amazing and when she sings, it sends chills down my spine. Unfortunately, I don't have a copy, so, I will have to share another version.


Please take a moment to listen. The second verse is the one that really speaks to me... I also posted the words below.


Much Love,


Natalie


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyIEhoY90WQ&playnext=1&list=PL110CFD632DA1931B

The Anchor Holds...


I have journeyed,
Through the long, dark night;
Out on the open sea.
By faith alone,
Sight unknown;
And yet his eyes were watching me.

The anchor holds,
Though the ship is battered.
The anchor holds,
Though the sails are torn.
I have fallen on my knees,
As I faced the raging seas;
The anchor holds,
In spite of the storm.



I've had visions,
And I've had dreams;
I've even held them in my hand.
But I never knew,
They would slip right through;
Like they were only grains of sand.



The anchor holds,
Though the ship is battered.
The anchor holds,
Though the sails are torn.
I have fallen on my knees,
As I faced the raging seas;
The anchor holds,
In spite of the storm.

I have been young,
But I am older now.
And there has been beauty,
These eyes have seen.
But it was in the night,
Through the storms of my life;
Oh, that's where God proved his love to me.

The anchor holds,
Though the ship is battered.
The anchor holds,
Though the sails are torn.
I have fallen on my knees,
As I faced the raging seas;
The anchor holds,
In spite of the storm.

I have fallen on my knees,
As I faced the raging seas;
The anchor holds,
In spite of the storm.

July 12, 2011

Empathizing with Elijah...

I have had a hard time sleeping the last couple of nights. I've just had a lot on my mind and I can't seem to get it to stop racing.

Saturday night was a normal Saturday night for us. I gave the boys baths and brushed their teeth. We got them in their jammie's and they got into bed while I was getting clothes ready for Sunday. Rick gave the boys devotions and I went in to kiss them goodnight.

Just a normal night.

I heard them praying with their Daddy and saying what they are "thankful" for. Every night, they both spout off a list of all the things they are thankful for and every night their lists always includes Maddie...

I'm glad they think of her and are thankful for her but on this night, I realized just how much she has affected little Eli's life.

Rick and I had headed downstairs after tucking them into bed and had began to watch a movie. The house was quiet and we were enjoying spending time together.

A few minutes later, we heard someone coming down the stairs. It was Eli.

I caught glimpse of him in the light of the television and I could see the big crocodile tears in his eyes.

He walked over to us and said "I want to go to Heaven."

Ummm. Okay. I have been praying he will get saved, but I know he doesn't completely understand sin yet and is just a little too little to understand getting saved. So, why would he say this?

Rick said to him "Heaven is wonderful, and we want you to go there, but why do you want to go right now?"

Eli replied, "I want to go see Baby Maddie," as he broke out into a sob.

He just kept repeating it over and over again "I want to go see Baby Maddie, I want to go see Baby Maddie!"

Rick looked at me and I looked at him. What do you say?

How do you console your 3 year old child who doesn't understand why he cannot see his baby sister anymore?

It broke both our hearts.

Elijah talks about Maddie every day.

He saves his baby blankets for her.

He brings me pacifier's for her.

He talks about how he's going to change her diapers and feed her.

He tells me that the 3rd swing on the swingset is for her.

The treehouse Daddy is building is gonna be for her too.

It's like he still thinks she's still coming. And over and over, I tell him, "Eli, Baby Maddie's in Heaven, remember?"

Words that are hard to say.

So, on this night, I couldn't help but let my heart break for him. It took us over a half an hour to calm him down. He just wanted his sister. He just wanted to see her.

Rick and I hugged on him and loved on him and told him that we miss her too.

I thought, maybe, he was starting to understand that she wasn't going to come back. Which made me sad, but a little relieved that he was starting to understand.

Then, the next day he was talking about her all over again and what he wanted to do with her.

I thought, maybe he is relating the new baby in Mommy's growing belly to Madeline's pregnancy? He was only two for my entire pregnancy with her. That's so young to understand.

I don't know. I just know that my little baby boy has a broken heart over his sister too. So much so, that he wanted to go to Heaven, just so he could see her. =(

That night, I could empathize with Eli. I miss her too. I want to see her too. I want to hold her too.

I'm just so thankful that I can hold him when he's sad. I don't want him to stop talking about his sister, she is a part of this family. I just hope that soon, it won't hurt my heart so much when he mentions her name.

We are getting there, one day at a time.

Maybe some of you have advice on how to handle this delicate situation?

I'd love for you to share.

In the mean time, we are just moving forward and trying to raise our boys to the best of our ability, even when they have broken hearts too.

We have some exciting things coming up and I'm hoping they will help keep our spirits up.

Our gender ultrasound is July 21st and the boys are so exciting to see their newest sibling on the t.v. screen. haha. I hope this will help to heal their hearts a little.

Much love,
Natalie Ross
Please pray for my little guy. He's such a blessing to my life and I'm so thankful to have him. <3

July 8, 2011

Days of Celebrating...

Well we have been doing a lot of celebrating around here lately and I wanted to share about it all!

I never thought that I could be smiling and celebrating again considering all we have been through in the last 6 months, but God has provided grace and given us hope to move forward into the future, always carrying our baby girl with us. I feel like I'm getting stronger day by day. I still miss her so much but it seems like since I realized that time isn't going to heal me, it's getting a little easier. God is providing strength and healing.

So our celebrating began on the 3rd! My sweet nephew Kaelan Erik turned 3 years old and he had the cutest Elmo party ever. He absolutely LOVES Sesame Street and his Mama really put a lot of detail into making his party special for him. Check it out...



Aren't those Oreo Pops the cutest? Love them!

Eli enjoying his Elmo cookie =)

The Birthday Boy!

We had fun celebrating with Kaelan. Our boys are very close to their cousin and I'm so glad they are all growing up together. Now we just can't wait to see if 2 more boys or 2 girls or one of each will be added into this group of kiddo's. It's such a blessing to know that our family is so close and all the kid's can be a part of each other's lives. God has really blessed us!

The next day was the 4th of July and we had a lot planned. It was a Sunday and we started off with the morning service at Church. Rick's Dad had been around some poison sumac and had a severe allergic reaction which put him in the hospital Sunday morning. So, Rick stepped in for his Dad while he was recovering. Rick led the 4th of July Cantata and it went great. The words about this wonderful country and the freedoms that we have were such a blessing. We really do in the greatest Country on Earth!

Rick then gave a message on "By his stripes we are healed."  He talked about how through Christ dying on the cross for us, he gave us the ultimate freedom from Hell if we accept Him. What a wonderful thing he has given us the opportunity to obtain. I'm so excited that I have a home waiting for me in Heaven with my Lord and my little girl.

The morning service moved so many and God was really working.

Rick and I had planned on leaving after the Sunday service and heading to Cincinnati for the rest of the day and over night.

You see on July the 4th 2002, at the age of 19 years old, my boyfriend (back then) proposed to me. =) The fourth of July has always been a special day for us. So a year later on July 5th, 2003, we got married!

So, we planned on heading away overnight since Rick had the rest of the day off for the 4th. Well, we couldn't go that afternoon because he needed to preach the evening service that night at Church. I have to admit, I was a little bummed that we weren't going to get down there until late because I was so looking forward to spending the whole day together, just us. But, God worked everything out for us.

Rick preached another wonderful message and we headed out right after the service ended around 8 pm. We made it to the Hyatt Hotel downtown and got settled. By this point, the two of us were really hungry so we decided to walk around and find a restaurant.

We did not know it but we were less than onr blovk away from Fountain Square and they were going to be putting on a fireworks display in just about an hour. So, we found a little Italian restaurant over looking Fountain Square and had dinner on the terrace.

The food was delicious and at the end of our meal, we were able to watch the fireworks from our table on the balcony. Talk about romantic!!!

It reminded us of the night we got engaged. Fireworks were going off everywhere and it felt like there was no one else in the world, but us... It was perfect.

We walked around and snapped some pictures and had fun, just the two of us.


I still can't believe it's been 8 years since we got married and 13 since we first met. I love this man!

After dinner and the firweworks, we headed back to our hotel and decided to watch a movie and get this... We just so happened to be the "customers of the day" and they gave us unlimited movie rentals for the night on the house. And we had the most beautiful view of the river and the lights.

It was so neat. I couldn't help but tell Rick how happy I was that this evening worked out so well. I know that was all the Lord. We stayed faithful to Him and He blessed us. I will never forget that night. It was perfect!

The next day we slept in and then decided to get some lunch together. We love Joe's Crab shack and go there often on our anniversary. So, we headed across the river and had lunch together. It was so yummy. Here's a couple pics...


Ha ha... He makes me laugh!

Yummy, huh? =)

Then we went to get pedicures together. So fun!

Yes, my husband is one of those guys who likes to be pampered and he deserves every single second of it. We talked about the kids and the baby on the way and just had a lot of fun.

Then we headed home to pick up the boys and go to a 4th of July picnic with the family. It was such a great weekend.

Elijah Braden- 3 1/2

Noah Riley- 5 3/4


On the 6th, I couldn't stop thinking about Maddie Grace. She would have been 6 months old. So hard to believe. I knew that day would be a challenge for me but I decided instead of crying I would be celebrating for her. I looked through all her pictures and spent some time in her room. Rick and I talked about some of the sweet memories we shared with her. It was sweet. I miss her so, but I'm thankful I had her. I love her.

She has been in Heaven 6 months today. 2 days will never have been long enough to have had her. I will always ache for her, but I'm so glad that I can see her in my boys. I hope I can see her in this next baby too. She is worth celebrating. What a precious little life she lived.

This picture was taken moments after she was born. I will never forget her looking up at me. Love her. <3

So, those were some of our moments of celebrating this past week. I hope that all of you enjoyed your holiday weekend as well. God is good and I'm thankful for the blessings on my life.

Blessings to you, too!

Much Love,
Natalie Ross







July 5, 2011

Healing...

For so long, so many people have told me time will heal your pain. You just need time.

Time. Time. Time.

But it took me finding myself in our Church bathroom (in tears) on a Sunday night, surrounded by precious ladies who love me, for me to hear the truth.

Time doesn't heal pain.

It lessens it. It helps it to fade a little, but it doesn't heal.

Only God can heal pain. Only God.

It was like a light turned on in my head.

Hello? How did I miss this? I kept thinking, it's been 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 months now and the pain still feels exactly the same.

The nightmares still come. The memories still overwhelm my heart and mind. My arms still ache.

I may even miss her more now than I did then. Time hasn't helped me, it's just reminded me that she isn't here still.

Time tells me that my daughter would be 6 months tomorrow. Time is insulting. Time hurts.

So, what do I do? Let go of time and Let God........

Yes.

It was in that moment, in tears in the bathroom of my Church on a Sunday night service, that I came to the reality of this.

My sweet friends made me realize, It's okay to miss her still so much. I don't have to "move on" as I feel some people feel I should. Heartless people, may I add.

When you lose someone you love, you carry that with you the rest of your life. I know that women I spoken who have lost children say it hurts the rest of their life. They still miss them years and decades later...

My friend Heidi was telling me the other day that at a 90 year old precious lady's funeral, her children said she still talked about the 2 children she lost up until she passed. One  of her children was still born and the other passed in young child hood. Even into her 90's she would talk about missing them. And now, since she has gone to Heaven, she is with them.

Time won't take pain away. Time won't take Maddie away, she will always be my heart and that heart will always ache for her...

Yet another huge lesson I've learned through this trial in my life is this.... There is no timetable for healing.

Whether it's a mother/father, brother/sister, grandma/grandpa, son or daughter. The pain will always be there. They will always be missed. Always.

In my "When you say nothing at all" post, I talked a little about this. It hurts worse to say nothing. So now, I talk to people about their loved ones. Whoever it is that they've lost, I love to hear the stories. Yes, sometimes it's painful to talk about, but it also helps to remember. To know that they were loved much and will continue to be missed much.

I truly believe that Heaven is sweeter with our loved ones there. We want to go be with them again one day.

So now, instead of waiting for time to heal my pain. I don't look to time anymore. It's too overwhelming. I get way too overwhelmed thinking of going through an entire life without my Maddie Grace.

Now, I look to the Lord to give me strength and heal my heart, day by day.

And day by day, He is...

Thank you Angel and Annette for helping me to realize this... I needed that. =)

MGR

Missing you today my sweet girl. Asking God for strength and grace while I miss you. <3

 

Psalm 34:18 The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.