Follow by Email

September 27, 2011

She made a way...

I've been struggling getting on here the past couple of days with something to say. I have a lot on my heart and mind but I can't seem to put it into words. Or at least words that will make sense to read.

You see, this time last year, I was busy planning for Madeline's arrival. I knew she was a girl. I was planning her nursery, buying her a  pink wardrobe and doing everything girlie that I ever dreamed of.

Rick was so happy, the boys were thrilled to be getting a sister, and I, well I felt like my life and world couldn't be more perfect.

Now, a year later. Life is pretty similar. We are planning for a baby, decorating a nursery and we can't wait until this little one arrives, except; this time we are doing it with a broken heart.

Broken hearts. Broken plans. Broken dreams.

We are back to blue. Back to a boy. Back to what we never thought would be in our lives again.

Blessed still? Absolutely.

Little Jonah Asher is giving me hope again. He is giving me something to look so forward to when my days seem so dark. He is my little light at the end of the tunnel. Him, and my other three boys.

Some days when I think I won't be able to go forward, I do it for him. I do it for Noah, Elijah, Jonah and Rick.

When my day starts to fall apart and the tears well up in my eyes for my little girl gone too soon, I do it for them. God grants me the strength to go on and I do.

This time of the year is so strangely similar to this time last year. The excitement is still the same. The joy is still present.

But, in my heart, part of me is missing. Maddie Grace is and will always be missing.

As we have gone to birthday parties and festivals the past couple of weeks, I can't help but think how she is not there, celebrating life with us. Every day that passes, moves me farther from her birth and closer to her 1st birthday. We are getting closer and closer to a year without her. And still have a lifetime to go. That overwhelms me.

Rick and I bought her the most precious bench for her grave site and took it over this past weekend. I hadn't planned on going back for a while because I did so bad this past time, but Rick held my hand through the whole thing.

Then bench had these words engraved on it...

A heart of gold stopped beating,
Two shining eyes at rest.
God broke our hearts to prove,
He only takes the best.

I imagine that was a sight. The two of us bent over the grave of the little girl we wanted so much. It's heartbreaking even to imagine. It still doesn't seem real, almost 9 months later. But, the reality is, this is our life. She is gone. She has touched so many lives, and hearts, but she is in Heaven with our Lord.

The rest of that poem goes like this...

God knows you had to leave me,
But you did not go alone.
For part of me went with you
The day He took you home.

We left the cemetery that evening broken hearted but with comfort from the Lord. He is still good. Even when our hearts and minds don't understand. He is still good. And I'm thankful for that.

I have had so many people still messaging me to tell me how much Madeline has touched their lives. I'm thankful for that. Time and life is moving on and I hate that it's without her.

There is nothing more comforting to me than when people mention her name. She was amazing.

So, as I move forward and am in such a familiar place as I was this time last year. I just try to remember.

She made a way.

She made a way for mine and Rick's relationship to grow together with each other, our boys and the Lord.

She made a way for families to pull together in the midst of one of the worst tragedies a family can know.

And... She made a way for her sweet little brother, Jonah Asher to be on his way to helping this family heal.

I know everyday that I look into his sweet eyes, I will see her, and I will remember that she made a way for him to be here with us. Everyday.


You are missed so much sweet Madeline Grace. And you always will be. <3

September 18, 2011

Looking through my rear view mirror

There are days when looking back is hard on me.

Back to the day my life changed forever. Back to the day that my perfect world was turned upside down.

I've tried my absolute hardest not to look back but forward. For when I start looking back it makes me lose sight of where I'm going. What lies ahead. I get down and discouraged about where I've been.

But on a particular day last week, my Husband reminded me that sometimes "looking back" reminds us of where we've been and why we are going where we are.

My husband was taking our oldest son to school for me while we had our other vehicle being worked on. I hadn't had the opportunity to talk to Rick that morning but I did notice he updated his facebook status (which is rare) later that day.

His status said this... "Took my boy to school this morning, couldn't take my eyes off him. Where has time gone? He's a little man now. He makes his daddy so proud. I love you Noah...I pray you always remain a daddy's boy. Don't grow up to fast."

I know exactly what he means. So many mornings. So many afternoons. I turn my rear view mirror to the backseat and I just "watch" my boys. I watch them talk to each other. I watch the expressions on their faces. I watch them giggle and play. I just watch them on the ride home or to wherever we are going.

I called Rick (with tears in my eyes) and I told him I do the same thing.

Yes, many mornings we are rushing out the door and I'm looking for shoes and coats, a book bag and a lunchbox.

But on some mornings, when I actually do have it all together (lol) I find myself doing exactly what Rick did that day.

Just watching.

Keeping my eyes on my little boy who is growing up too quickly and remembering how blessed I am to have him in my life.

And that is a very good reason to look back.

For it is the moments that we do look back to see what we have been given, that we realize what we have. Good or bad. It makes us who we are. God brings us to where we are. And it reminds us of where we are going.

I can look back in pain. Yes. But I can also look back in love.

For my daughter is in Heaven and I will never be able to look at her through my rear view mirror. But my sons, they are alive and well. They are growing and molding into the men that God wants them to be. They are growing up a little more each day, and one day they will be grown.

So for now, Rick and I will keep our eyes on them. We won't take our eyes off of them.

God has blessed us with these children and we have such a job to do with them.

They remind us of Who and what we live for.

I'm so thankful that on that crisp fall morning, Rick reminded me of what a blessing we tow around on a daily basis.

What little miracles appear in our rear view mirror. We ARE blessed.

I'm pushing forward everyday, remembering these things. God is good.

Phillipian 3:13-14
13Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
 14I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

September 12, 2011

Living through the tragedies in our lives...

I spent much time in thought yesterday for the families of the victims of 9/11.

As I got ready for Church I watched and followed the ceremony taking place on Ground Zero and I listened to the numerous names that were read.

Each name held so much weight.

It was the name of a Daughter, Son, Sister, Brother, Mom, Dad, Aunt, Uncle, Cousin or friend.

It made me wonder how each of those families are doing. I was in prayer as I listened and I was just asking God to give the families peace.

That day was such a tragedy for our country, but through it, we have become stronger.

Through it, we have become a better Nation. Through it, we have overcome what many thought would bring us to our knees to stay.

But, even the worst of tragedies in our lives can only bring us as far as our knees, and that is when the Lord picks us up.

10 years. Seemed like just yesterday that I was sitting on my top bunk in my college dorm. A dorm mate ran in and announced the horrible news.

Fear ran through my body. As an 18 year old girl, a couple hundred miles from home, I was scared. I just wanted to go home and hug my Mom and Dad.

How could something so horrible really be happening to our country? So many lives. So many families.

But the truth is, no mater what the tragedy is in our lives, I truly believe that in all of these trials, we should draw closer to the Lord.

For that is what this country did. The patriotism shown in the months following 9/11 was amazing. Everywhere we saw signs of God Bless America. And He has blessed us.

But as years go by and time passes, it is easy to fall back into our routines and the busyness of life that soon this fire starts to fade. Our commitments get overtaken by what seem to be the "priorities" in life.

God gets pushed to the side and self takes back over.

But why? God is the only one to get us through the hard times. So why do we ONLY run to Him in the hard times? We should be walking with Him in all times.

I know in my life, I saw this first hand.

When Rick and I faced the biggest tragedy in our lives on January the 8th of this year, God was right there. He was there before, during and has been after.

He held us up as we said goodbye and left the hospital that day.
He held us up 3 days later at her funeral.
He held us up in the days weeks and now 8 months following.

He carried us through our tragedy and will continue to do so.

In seeing the footage of 9/11 yesterday and the tears still ever present, it made me realize. The tragedies we face in our lives will always be a part of us. 8 months or even 10 years later. They are still real as ever. They still hurt. They have changed us.

I feel America has embraced this change and is pushing forward with hope for the future. Faith through the days ahead.

I am doing the same.

I don't look at life quite like I used to, but I approach life much more carefully and tenderly. We just never know.

As my amazing Pastor stood to Preach yesterday, he reminded me just how fragile life really is.

He reminded me of the passage of scripture found in James 4:14
 14Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

This is a truth from the Word of God that we so often forget.

We are not promised tomorrow. You just never know.

On September the 10th, the towers were standing. On September 11th, they were gone.

On January the 6th, I held the most beautiful baby girl I have ever laid eyes on. On January the 8th, she was called back home.

Here one minute, gone the next. Such a short time. So much heartache and devastation left behind.

But I truly believe that it is how we deal with the tragedies that come into our lives that say the most about us. It speaks volumes about our strength and our character.

I know for Maddie, the innocence of her life took her strait to Heaven. She closed her eyes in this world and opened them in the presence of Jesus.

For those who were taken on 9/11, I just don't know how many of them knew the Lord and were Saved. And as hard as it is to think that some of those people who died that day would go anywhere but Heaven, the truth is.... Many did not.

They didn't have a moment to make things right in their lives in that last split second. I pray that many knew the Lord and were saved and knew they were going to Heaven, but many may not have. This breaks my heart.

But the truth is, we are not promised tomorrow. We have to make it right today. We need to secure our eternity. We need to accept the gift that God's Son, Jesus Christ freely gave when He gave his life on the cross for our sins. We need to accept Him now.

Today is the day of Salvation.

So, as I ponder these things and think about the lives affected on that tragic day in September. More than anything, it makes me want to be a better soul winner for the Lord.

We just don't know if we have tomorrow.

Maddie Grace most definitely showed me this.

Live today with everything you have. Secure your eternity. So when you are faced with tragedy in your life, you can have complete peace, knowing no mater what, you will spend eternity in Heaven with the Lord.

There is too much heartache down here. Why not plan on a pain free, perfect eternity. Jesus already paid the price. Just reach out and receive it.

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



September 6, 2011

Half full...

Well today marks what would have been Maddie Grace's 8 month birthday.

My heart is broken.

I woke up yesterday so so sad. Probably the saddest I have been in a while. Rick was home since it was Labor Day and I made big breakfast for him and the boys. We spent the morning around the house organizing some things and spending time together. I'm so glad Rick was home, God just knew I was going to need him that day.

One thing I love is when people tell me they have been thinking of Maddie Grace. There is nothing sweeter to me than hearing people speak her name and talk of her. If you know someone who has lost a child or children, I want to encourage you not to be afraid to bring their names up. It really helps heal to hear their names spoken and to know they are remembered.

So, I talked to my sweet friend Jenny that morning and she told me that she had been thinking about Madeline a lot this week. She even told me that she got teary eyed when seeing another baby around the age Maddie would be if she were here. It made her so sad, she had to leave her Church service but it meant so much that she was thinking of her. She misses my little girl too.

Then I got another message from my sweet friend Kelsey who was telling me of another family who lost their 2nd precious little girl recently. She also told me of a little birdie who came to visit her, which of course made her think of Maddie. It made me smile to think that she too was thinking of my little girl.

She has touched so many lives and hearts.

But today, and yesterday, she has really touched mine.

I couldn't stop crying. I cried and cried yesterday.

Rick tried to console me. He told me how how much he missed her too.

Then he reminded me something we all know well. Something that we all have heard at some point in our lives.

How do we view our glass? Half full or half empty?

He reminded me that though his heart ached for her and he wanted so much for her to be here celebrating 8 months of life too, he had to look at the positives.

Half full.

We have had so many things happen to us in the last 8 months. So many ups and downs.

Just in the last few weeks alone we have had a list of things happen to us...

Rick had to have and emergency appendectomy.
Both our cars broke down.
Our renters are moving out of our rental property.
And we have some very sick loved ones.

It seems like every time we turn around, something bad is happening to us... again.

Half full? Sure seems half empty to me.

Sometimes that's hard.

But...

At least he wasn't still in China when his appendix burst. ~half full
At least we own a car/s and can afford to fix them. ~half full
At least we have a home to rent out allowing us to live where we do. ~half full
At least we have our health. ~ half full
At least we have our other precious children. ~half full
And of course, we did get Madeline for two days rather than not at all. ~half full

Rick reminded me too, that God is blessing us so much again. We are so in love with Jonah Asher and are dying to meet him. We can't wait to hold him in our arms and love him to pieces. There is just so much to be grateful for...

It's all about how you look at life.

Once I got over my pity party of missing my girl. I picked myself up and got ready for the day.

Rick took us shopping at Babies R Us and the Mall and spoiled us rotten. We shopped for Jonah. We shopped for the boys. And for each other. I found myself smiling and laughing and happy again. I had one of the best days in a long time. Completely happy and in love with my boys.

I know I hurt much because I miss her much and that's okay. As long as at the end of the day, I remember how blessed I truly still am.

As we sat down to dinner that night, I realized this once again.

I have been blessed. God's been so good to me. Precious are His thoughts of you and me. No way I can count them, there's not enough time. So I'll just thank Him for being so kind. God has been good. So good. I have been blessed.

Rick was right. I can mope and cry and be depressed that Maddie Grace is not here. And honestly, I have every right too.

But, how much better is life when I view it half full?

A lot fuller, that's for sure. =)

God Bless,
Natalie

Missing you my love... But thankful to have known you. <3

September 1, 2011

6th Birthday and Back to School...

Well, summer has come to an end around here and with the end of summer has brought a new school year.

Before Noah headed off to first grade though, we had some celebrating to do.

August 19th, he turned 6 years old and we celebrated with him in an "ahoy matey" kind of way. =)

All summer, the boys have loved watching Jake and the Never land pirates and so when I asked Noah what kind of party he wanted, of course that was the theme.

Unfortunately, there was no "Jake" party ware to be found. I'm sure it will be available next year. lol. That's my luck, but in the mean time I decided to improvise to make my little boy's birthday every thing he dreamed of.

One thing I LOVE to do is throw birthday parties. I actually get really excited about it. =) I think I spent Noah's whole first year of life planning his adorable cowboy birthday. It's just so fun to plan parties!

So, I pulled it all together and we had a Pirate party to remember... Enjoy some pictures (sorry they are a little blurry. My good camera's battery bit the dust the day before and I have to special order a new one online.)

Yo ho let's go...

Noah was Jake and Eli was Cubby
Burried treasure


Noah in his pirate shirt from Cozumel


Treasure chest

Kids table

Jake and the never land coloring sheets!

Sea Dogs and Pirate burgers
Nautical cookies

Noah's treasure chest cake
It looked so real!
Never land cupcakes

Cake table

Treasure Hunt!

Eli taking a turn at the pinata

Noah's turn

Blowing out the candles...


Once the party was over, we were off to pack for Rick to leave for China... I have to say, I was not looking forward to him leaving at all. Neither were the boys. He planned to be gone for an entire week on a business trip and I knew it would be the hardest trip on me yet. Not to mention the fact that Noah was starting full day school in 1st grade and I was constantly being reminded that time was passing faster and faster. The kids were growing up more and more and Maddie was not a part of it. My heart was broken. But we shared a birthday breakfast with Noah on his actual birthday and then took him to game stop. After that, Rick was off to the airport. The boys and I were so sad. When Rick's not here, I feel like I've lost even more of myself. I need him so much in my life. He's my rock.

Birthday Breakfast with our 6 year old =)


Birthday hat =)
At Gamestop!

After we said our goodbyes, we pushed forward and got Noah ready for 1st grade...

Here are some more pics of him getting ready for and his first day of 1st grade. =)


School supplies

Finding his desk at Orientation
Noah and Elijah


Getting ready for his first day of school

My barely 6 year old heading to first grade!
Showing off his backpack


And He's off... =(

But he gave one more smile to Mommy... <3


Another year gone by. Another year older. More precious memories to cherish for a lifetime. Did I take it for granted... not a chance. Life to me is way more precious than it was before. Life is beautiful.

Happy Birthday Noah Riley Ross, my sweet precious promise from God. <3

"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."