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January 25, 2012

Rainbow of Hope....

A date. A time.


A sound. A smell.


A word. A feeling.


It's amazing how these simple everyday things can take you somewhere.


You can recall an exact time and place in life.


You can feel a moment again.


You can remember everything about that day.


Some of these reminders are good. The song played at your wedding. The smell of your first born baby.


Then there are those reminders of moments you wish you could just forget forever.


For me, that was the entire day of January the 8th.


In a moment, everything changed. So many reminders take me back there.

How do I get passed that day? How do I "forget" that day. How do I escape that moment? How do I go on without her?


The answer is... Day by day, with the Lord leading me. Day by day through prayer and His word.


I'll never forget the words and sounds and smells from that day. I'll never forget holding her that one last time. I remember my Mom asking me "Don't you just want to look at her." 


I just wanted to feel her. I wanted to forever remember her weight in my arms. Her sweet soft hair on my cheek. I always wanted to cling to that moment.


Today, I can remember it just like that day. I can feel her.


So as the day broke this year, January the 8th; I was there. One year later, I was in that place and time again.


The fears, the anxiety, the news... It resounded in my heart and mind before I even opened my eyes that morning.


I had a nightmare during the night that I was looking for her in my room. It was much like the nightmares I was having following her passing. Night after night, I would wake up with these nightmares. I would ask Rick where she was and he would reply, "She's in Heaven, Nat."


The pain cut deep.


I knew once this day was upon me I would have a hard time. I was struggling.


 I managed to get myself up that morning, knowing that my family needed me. Jonah needed me.


I picked him up out of his bassinet. He was so warm and sweet, so full of life.


I rocked him and nursed him. I changed him and dressed him. I was so glad he was with me that morning.


Rick and the boys had already left for Church and I was coming behind them. My eyes were filled with tears all morning and I couldn't help but be sad.


This was the worst day of my life, just one year prior.


This was the day my world and my heart was shattered.


Remember this?

This is how my world felt. I didn't know where to go, how to possibly go on when I felt like I was broken in two. My heart was in pieces.

I was broken. So very broken.

But slowly, by His grace, God is restoring me. He is helping me. I will never be whole again. I will always have a broken heart.

I will always be missing my Maddie in my life. I am broken over her.



Yet the Lord has helped me to put the pieces back together, and to be honest, I think my life is more beautiful now because of her.


I would rather have had her, loved her and lost her, than to have never had her at all. But the truth is, I haven't "lost" her... I know right where she is, and I 'm gonna be with her again.


One sweet day, we will be together again.

Sure, I have to go through this life broken by some means. But as I have quoted in the past... "There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in."

I want the light of the Lord in my life.

So, if this is the trial I had to go through to truly see that. To feel that. I'm okay.

Not only will "I" see her again, but so will every person who's life that was eternally changed because of her testimony. All of those who heard her story and were convicted to accept Christ, they will see her too.

Everyone who is saved will get to go to Heaven and be with our Saviour and Lord. We will also get to be with Maddie.

I love when people tell me that they can't wait to meet her and thank her in Heaven. It helps my pain hurt just a little less knowing she has changed lives. I'm so proud of her.

Would I have given her. No

But am I allowing God to use her? Absolutely

Am I letting Him use me? I'm trying my absolute best.

She has made me better. I say it all the time but it's true.

I pulled myself together that morning and headed out the door with Jonah. I was so grateful that this "date" just so "happened"' to fall on a Sunday; my favorite day of the week.

I walked in that morning and no one had to say anything to me. It was on my face. I was hurting.

I received more hugs than I can count that day. More smiles were glanced my way. More prayers were lifted up on my behalf. I could feel them.

I listened to the choir sing.

I listened to the words. Songs of Heaven. Songs of Grace.

That seemed fitting.

Rick finished his duties as the Assistant Pastor and then came and sat beside me. He usually asks for Jonah, but not this morning. He knew I needed him in my arms.

And I did.

I pictured myself back at her funeral. I saw the tiny casket. I remembered putting my head in my hands as I listened to "I will carry you."

It killed me.

But the one thing I remembered more than anything was the words my Pastor spoke. The words everyone remembers.

"The God that was good on Thursday, was still good on Saturday." -Pastor Ross

And He was. I just wanted to feel His goodness that morning. Satan was fighting me.

The next thing I knew, our sweet friend Joey began speaking.

He mentioned that before he sang his special, he wanted everyone to know that he wrote this song for us and for Maddie.

(Tears)

He mentioned that he was inspired by mine and Rick's strength in the Lord, and the fact that we didn't give up while walking through our hardest trial in life.

What a blessing.

The piano started and with it came more tears.

It was beautiful. Almost like a lullaby but with conviction. Every note he played held my heart captive.

I listened to the words...

The God of Yesterday

(Verse One)

It was late on Thursday night, their baby girl had arrived
and oh what joy was shown upon their face.

But little did they know, that on Saturday she'd go
To live in a much better place.

Their plans and all their dreams, were not what they seemed
How could this all come to play.

But with their broken hearts, and their worlds torn apart
Still they could raise their heads to say...

(Chorus)
The God of yesterday, is still the same.

He's never changed.

He said He holds tomorrow, so I won't be afraid.

Cause the God of yesterday is still the same.

(Verse Two)

The weeks and months they came, but still they felt the same.
How could they get through this trial.

But with family, faith and friends, they'd find there strength again.
Hand in hand every step of the mile.

Though some had questioned why, God would take their precious child
and leave their arms aching to hold.

But through their faith in Him, many souls were saved from sin
all because their story was told.

(Chorus)

The God of yesterday, He's still the same.

He's never changed.

He said He holds tomorrow so I won't be afraid.

Cause the God of yesterday is still the same...

(Tag)

When we don't understand...

His will or His plan....

When things are out of control....

He'll send a rainbow of Hope...

(Chorus)

The God of yesterday, He's still the same.

He's never changed.

He said He holds tomorrow so I won't be afraid.

Cause the God of yesterday is still the same...


The God of yesterday is still the same.

~Joey Day

Wow.

I was sobbing.

There wasn't a dry eye in our Church. They all loved Maddie. They all love us.

Joey's song touched my heart that morning in a way nothing else could have. Thank you, Joey.

And though I was so sad about the day and missing Maddie Grace more than ever. I knew I would be okay. We would be okay.

The words fit us perfectly, and when He got to the part where he said "God sends a rainbow of Hope," I lost it. I laid my head on Jonah's sweet cheek and I wept and wept. I loved that Joey called him that. Joey was right.

He did.

Our story is sad. Our story is heart wrenching. Our story speaks volumes of Grace.

But our story didn't end when our daughter passed away.

God sent that rainbow. God sent Jonah, our rainbow baby.

"Rainbow Babies" is the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm. When a rainbow appears, it doesn't mean the storm never happened or that the family is not still dealing with its aftermath. What it means is that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds. Storm clouds may still hover but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy and hope.

Jonah truly is our "Rainbow of Hope" and every day he reminds us that God's grace is real, and he teaches us to continue to hope in Him.

God is good. He's still the same.

On the saddest day of the year for me, I have so much hope.

I don't think it was just by "chance" that Jonah was in my arms that morning as I faced my worst fears and memories head on.

God knew just what I needed and He provided that day. Every day.

I love you Jonah Asher. I will always look at you with so much love and hope. I'm so thankful you have renewed ours...


I left that morning with a smile on my face. What a blessing.

It was not only the one year anniversary of Maddie Grace being in Heaven.

It was the one month milestone of Jonah Asher being with us on earth, and for the rest of the day, I celebrated him.

My heart may have cracks and be missing pieces, but I still have so much love to give, and that day, I gave every ounce of it to him.

My rainbow of Hope.

Here are some one month pictures of him.

Enjoy =)
























Rick and Joey recorded the song this week but I am going to wait a little longer to post it. Rick is putting it to video like Maddie's birthday video. It's going to be great and I CAN'T wait for you all to hear it. I'll post it as soon as I can. I promise, it's worth the wait. =)

Much Love,
Natalie

January 17, 2012

Maddie's Birthday Celebration


Madeline Grace's 1st Birthday Celebration...


As the day broke on Maddie's 1st Birthday I was so sad. It had arrived. One of the happiest days of my life just one year prior.

The day my sweet little girl was born...

I laid in bed and thought back to the day of her birth. I could picture her sweet face in my head. I could almost feel her in my arms. I wish I could have laid there all day dreaming back to that day. What a special moment we had then.

A few minutes later, my little alarm clock, Jonah Asher was up. He was hungry.
I got up and sat down to feed him. I can't tell you how much he was helping me that morning. My arms hurt just a little less. I sat and rocked him and looked around his room.

What a difference a year can make in life. Wow.

I heard the little birdie's chirping outside in the tree's and I knew that Maddie was with me.
The weather was strangely warm for this time of the year and I couldn't believe how many little birdie's were out there.

I also couldn't believe how many pink sunrises and sunsets we have been having lately. Maybe I never noticed them before, but I like to think that the Lord and Maddie were sending those just for me. =)

Here are a couple that I was sent pictures of...






Aren't they breathtaking....

It's hard to be sad after seeing that, and I can only imagine what Maddie's eyes are seeing in Heaven. I'm sure these pictures don't even compare to the beauty and splendor of Heaven. That made me smile.

After getting Jonah and the boys ready for the day, I headed downstairs for some coffee.

I opened my cabinet to grab a cup and this was the one I grabbed.


I love this coffee cup and hadn't used it in a while. A sweet friend and blog follower sent it to me back during my pregnancy with Jonah before I knew he was a boy. I loved that it signified Maddie (with the bird) and our sweet Baby Hope. I thought of all the events that had taken place this year as I brewed my coffee. Oh what a year it's been.

Yet through it all the Lord has been there, guiding me and leading me. I'm so thankful for that. I'm so thankful for my sweet Irish twins Maddie and Jonah.



I'm so thankful that Maddie had a Birthday. She was born into our family and we enjoyed her. Though it was a brief stay, we loved every second of having her with us and we will remember it always. I love that I am a Mommy to a sweet little girl. She will always be my little girl even though she isn't here with me anymore. Now I feel like I can watch a piece of her grow up in her sweet brother. For they look so much alike. I'm so glad that the Lord designed Jonah to have pieces of her in him.

I spent the rest of the morning and afternoon staying busy. I guess that's easy to do when you have a brand new baby in the house. =) I snuggled Jonah and sang to him. I told him all about his sweet sister. He was smiling a lot that day and so was I. I actually felt happy, even though it was a sad day spending Maddie's birthday without her here.

The doorbell kept ringing off and on throughout the day with packages and flowers. It made me smile even more. The first one I received took my breath away.

The card read... "Knowing that it was the LIFE she lived that brought such JOY and GRACE, I wanted to celebrate Maddie's birthday with you today. Many thoughts and prayers." ~ Julie (Brazil)

Brazil! Maddie touched someone all the way in Brazil. This made me smile ear to ear.

Sweet Baby girl, you have touched the world... You really have!

I loved  the beautiful teapot that these came in with the little birdie's peaking at each other. What a precious thing I can always keep and remember Maddie Grace's first birthday. I just love it.

Then our best friends Nick and Jenny had these sent over...


I absolutely love these beautiful pink roses! They remind me so of my sweet little girl. They are even similar to the ones that were on Maddie's casket. I just love them. They made me smile.

I decided to clear off the mantel and put up these beautiful arrangements along with Madeline's pictures. It made me smile. I was so happy to think that other's were thinking of her on her birthday. I received endless fb posts, messages, texts and calls all letting me know that Maddie was being remembered and thought of on her first birthday. I saw her picture as every one's profile picture. I saw everyone posting her video and pictures of her along with links to my blog. In the words of my friend Kelsey "Facebook is lit up with your beautiful girl today"... and it was. =) I was so happy that even though she wasn't here, her little life could be celebrated on this special day. Her birthday.


Then I got a yummy delivery... A cookie bouquet! My sweet friends Sam and Julia (who are sisters) sent us this yummy arrangement.


I just loved it! It was so sweet with the Bird and Church and Bible. All of these things were what got me through the last year. It was so very nice and a wonderful reminder of our girl on her birthday. The boys loved it too and thoroughly enjoyed the cookies. =)

Blessing after blessing arrived and memory after memory surfaced.

I decided to go get and open up Maddie's box of things from her two precious days. I wanted to look at them, touch them. I hadn't seen them in a while and looking through the box was tough...

That was when it hit me and I lost my smile for just a little while.



I guess no one spends celebrating their daughter's first birthday with a box of things and not her. I dreamed of planning her first birthday party years before expecting her. I always wanted a little girl. I always wanted to watch a little girl grow up. And now here I sat with just a small box full of her things and not her. We bought balloons, but to send to Heaven. Her gift was a bouquet of flowers for her grave.

That was hard.

I'm so thankful that I have all these items. They really are a piece of her. Everything in that little box still smelled like her. I touched and smelled each of her little outfits and the memories came flooding back to me. So many precious memories.

Eli had come in at this point and noticed I was looking through Madeline's things. Then he kept bringing me "things" to give to Maddie for her birthday. By the time he was done, I had accumulated, a bird, a picture of him, a book and a balloon. It was a precious gesture that he wanted to do for Maddie. He misses her too.

I gathered her things back up and put them away. It had made me sad so I wanted to try to cheer back up. I turned the music on in the house and was listening to some really encouraging songs. It was a blessing. I love good uplifting music.

Then the mail arrived and I got the sweetest card from my friend Kelsey. Everything Kelsey says or write's always seems to be the EXACT thing I need to hear. The Lord uses her in that way and I know it's from the heart of a broken mother who also misses her little girl who is in Heaven... and from the heart of an amazing friend...

"My Dear Nat,
My heart is hurting for you. I know Maddie's 1st birthday is probably something you are dreading.... probably a whole mixture of emotions that are all so bittersweet. I so wish it was different for you guys. I wish you were planning a huge pink princess party full of extravagant girly things like I'm sure you imagined would be. I wish I could snap my fingers and make your hearts completely whole again.

But, I want to remind you that God is still good. The God that got you through January the 8th of last year, and her funeral, and through this first year without her; is going to be the same wonderful, loving, gracious and "good" God that will get you through her 1st birthday and the 1st Anniversary of her home going.

I want you to know that whatever you are feeling, whether it be good or bad, is okay. There is no right or wrong way to feel on these days but just remember that God is good. He will be there with you, just as all our love and prayers will be too. I wish I could wrap my arms around you and make it all better for you guys. We are so proud of the amazing and beautiful people you have become. Our prayers will be going up for you..."

Psalm 50:15 "And call upon me in the day of trouble, I will deliver thee and thou shalt glorify me.".....

What a blessing. I'm so thankful for her friendship, guidance, prayers and spiritual advice. What a blessing it is to have good Godly friends. I'm so blessed to have them.

After reading her sweet card, my heart cheered right back up. I started to get ready because I knew Rick would be by shortly to get us so we could head to the cemetery.

I gathered up the balloons and the flowers for Maddie and we headed to the cemetery.

We had decided to celebrate Maddie's birthday by having a small gathering at the cemetery, followed by a balloon release at 6 pm when she was born.

We were the first ones to arrive and I knew that our families would be there shortly. We put Maddie's flower on her grave and spent a few quiet moments together. I had noticed the pale pink sunset in the distance. It sounds odd, but the cemetery was beautiful that night...

You can see a touch of the pink sky in this pic.

After putting her flowers out and spending a few minutes in prayer, I turned around. Not only was mine and Rick's family's there, but friends, extended family and even some Church members! I couldn't believe it.

What I thought would be a small intimate gathering turned into a group of around 50 or more people. It blessed my heart. It made me smile.

I was doing so good. I wasn't crying. I felt like this was helping to give me some closure.

We never had a graveside service because it was all to much too fast for Rick and I. So this really helped me. I thought now that we were having a little celebration there now, it might not be so hard for me to go. I hope not at least.

Rick and I said a few words just before our balloon release. Rick challenged everyone to find a grave of a child around Maddie and pray for that family like we do with the boys. That way we are putting our broken hearts to use and helping another family with broken hearts. For there is a cemetery full of reminders that someone is missing a loved one. Every grave stone stands for a broken heart of someone. It was so special that he mentioned this. 

I thanked everyone for walking through the last year with us and for loving us and Maddie. I talked about how she has made us all better... I saw her first birthday in my head so differently while I was preparing for her but one thing stayed the same. Everyone standing there that day would have been there celebrating her smashing into her cake. Yet they were still there standing by us, loving us and her... It was a blessing.

After we spoke, our sweet friend Angel asked if she could read a poem for Maddie.

We all cried through it but it was so sweet.

It read...

To Mommy and Daddy

Through our lives, God has a plan
He can't just use any woman or man

He looks down from Heaven with much work to do
Souls to be saved, and hearts to make new

So God gave you me, sent from above
To show others His Grace and infinite love.

As you held me in your arms
God gently kissed my face
Whispered as HE took me home
I'll use you, to show others My Grace.

Thank you Mommy, and Daddy too
For when God chose me, He also chose you.

~Angel

It was so very sweet. Her words mean so much to me.


Then we released our balloons and wishes to Maddie Grace.
Papa Shaw watching his balloon go up to Heaven...


Some of our friends and family that was there that day...
Uncle Erik and Aunt Adrian

Whitney and Natalie

Uncle Joel, Aunt Becky and Macie

Papa and Grandma Ross

Joey, Josh, Amanda and Travis

Keith and Whitney

Marc and Cassandra

Nick, Jenny, Brooklyn and Lily

Annette and I with Gabriel

Some of our other loved ones.

This is called an angel plant =)
Flowers for me. =) Thank you Jessie and Annette!


After the balloon release, everyone stayed around. We all talked and looked at the other little graves surrounding Maddie's. There were tears, there was laughter. At one point I giggled thinking "are they gonna kick us out of here?" It was very dark at this point. But I finally was feeling some closure. I felt like the year I had been dreading was behind me and I could finally take a step forward into our new year. Our new beginning.

After we left the cemetery, everyone headed to a local restaurant to eat. My sweet friend Natalie told me she had something for me. I walked with her to her car and she gave me this...




A birthday cake for Maddie Grace... Oh how I loved it! It was so her with the pink a turquoise and little birdie. It looked just liker her room!!! It was so nice of Natalie to do this for us. We cut and ate it after dinner and it tasted as good as it looked. It was the perfect ending to our day. Surrounded by friends and family celebrating our little girl with her cake. So sweet.

Overall, her birthday was a happy day for me. We were shown so much love by our friends and loved ones. We could feel Maddie that day. Of course she was in our hearts, but she was also there with us in the smiles of our little boys and the hugs of our loved ones. She was there.

In the quiet moments we miss Madeline. We wish that she was here. We wish we could have celebrated watching Maddie Grace smash her birthday cake all over her face. We wish we could have seen her take her first steps. But...We are so thankful that through all the missing and the heartaches, God has restored our hope. God is still so good.


Jonah Asher, at almost one month...
I'm so glad he was in my arms that day!


 Jonah wearing his Maddie birdie/owl outfit... =)



We miss you so much Maddie Grace, but we are so glad we could celebrate you. We are so glad we had you. We will always celebrate you every January the 6th and remember our precious moments together.... We love you.







I'm sorry I've been so far behind on blogging. My little guy takes so much of my time but I'm okay with that! I will catch up soon. I have some special stories to share about Jonah and also I want to talk about Sunday the 8th... Our precious friend wrote and sang a song at Church in honor of Maddie. It's beautiful. He's making me a copy of it so I can share it on here. So stay tuned.

Thank you for helping us celebrate our sweet girl's birthday with us! We are so blessed to have you in our lives. I enjoyed reading all of your comments. Thank you!