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March 23, 2012

Scars and healing...

Spring is here and the world is waking up with an abundance of new life.

I love the smell from my front porch of beautiful daffodils, tulips and flowering trees. The grass is greening up and the birds all seem to have a song to sing.

It is a beautiful time of year, but I feel like with this changing season is yet another change of emotion in my heart. Sadness is seeming to creep back in along with the warm weather and beautiful sunshine.

Another spring. Another season. Another reminder of time moving forward without my sweet girl.

Maybe it's the beautiful birdies singing to me every morning when I wake up. Or Maddie's tree that I watch daily in hopes it will bloom. It may be all the beautiful little dresses everywhere that remind me just how much I miss my Maddie Grace.

Easter last year was so hard for me. I wasn't quite expecting Jonah yet and I was just two months from saying goodbye to my sweet beautiful girl.

Everything still reminded me of her.

I was just telling Rick last week how good I was doing and really healing and them, bam! It hit me all over again. The grief roller coaster took me for yet another ride.

I sat there and thought, what is it that makes this pain come on so quickly? I couldn't pinpoint it exactly, but in my pondering God laid something on my heart.

I was standing in Hobby Lobby this week looking for some things for my living room makeover, when all of the sudden I knocked a glass vase off the shelf and onto the floor. It cut my foot so badly. It took three people to help me clean my poor foot and the mess up. After I got washed and bandaged  up, I was sort of favoring that foot as I walked. It was so sore.

As I wondered about the store (limping along) I just kept thinking to myself, why do silly things like this happen to me? I have pretty bad luck I guess. Or maybe I'm just clumsy.

I didn't need to get stitches but I wondered if this would leave a scar...

Then it hit me, scars....

What are scars?

They are simply a reminder that a wound is healing. The freshness of a cut has healed over, but yet there is a visible reminder that the cut was there and the pain still took place.

I then realized, healing is taking place in my life. I have more good days than bad. Yet I still see the scars from time to time.

That day, it was in the isles of Hobby Lobby that I remembered.

It was there, where I shopped for my daughters room. The place where I bought the tulle for the tutu I made her; the one she wore at one day old. It was there in that place that I bought the supplies for her hair bows; the ones I placed on her head the moment she was born.

She was my reminder. She brought to sight the scar in my life that is still very real.

I can cover my heart and say I'm okay, but the reality is, I still miss her very much.

My boys fill my arms and bring me so much happiness and fulfillment. They make my days everything I hope them to be. They bring joy and love on a daily basis. But at the end of the day when I lay my head on my pillow, my heart still hurts for her. The scar of Madeline Grace is still very real on my life. Especially this week.

I am happy. I am in love with my Husband and my boys and I am finding joy in so many of my days. But every now and then, my scars seems to resurface. It takes my breath away for a minute. It makes me take a step back and remember what I lost.

Yet in those moments, God reminds me of what I've gained too.

I've gained a heavy heart for others going through loss and grief.
I've gained the understanding of living in the moment to fullest of my ability.
I've gaineed learning to love my Husband and my children like there is no tomorrow.
I've gained learning to be a witness and a light to a world that is lost and doesn't know the Lord.
And then of course, I've gained my sweet rainbow of hope, Jonah Asher; who brings happiness to my heart and comfort to my hurting soul.

So at the end of the "hard" days, though they are farther apart and fewer in between now; I'm learning to just look at my scars in this life in a good light. Even though they may not seem or appear beautiful to some, they are to me, because it shows there is healing in my life.

Maddie has left a scar and a mark on my life forever. Some days I may not notice it as much, and other days it may be hard to even breathe, but either way; I'm thankful for this scar.

And, for healing.



Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.
~Khalil Gibran

Much Love,
Natalie

Isaiah 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Thank you Jesus for being my Savior and example. I'm thankful for the scars you have gained on my behalf. You gave your life for mine. I will spend an eternity with you because you paid for my sin. Thank you for the scars you endured and for the gift of Salvation you so freely give. I carry the scars of one, but you carry your scars because of all. May others see the beauty in your hands and feet and know that they too can have eternity in Heaven with you and our loved ones, who have gone on before us. By your stripes we truly are healed... Thank you.



March 16, 2012

A token for good...

I love how God always sends people by my way at the exact time I need them. It's like He whispered down in their ear, "She needs you, go to her."

On so many occasions, I feel that the Lord has laid words on the hearts of his precious people to encourage others. And time after time, I'm finding encouragement in my life from my sweet friend Robyn.

I'm thankful that God brought her into my life almost ten years ago while I was attending Bible college. I adored her then and I continue to now. Since Madeline passed away, it's like she just "knew" I would need a constant friend to help and encourage me along the way, not just in the months after Maddie but even over a year later. She has been that constant friend to me and I'm so very thankful for her.

After my last blog post, I received this message from her...

"I just read your recent post. What a blessing Jonah is! It's so nice to read the proof of what we have prayed for you all - healing. I know you have hard days, and I try to pray for you when you come to mind, because I know you miss your baby girl. My heart still hurts for you. Everything about how you lost her was so traumatic, but God knows. And I ask Him to help you. I can't remember if I told you this, but when we moved here, we heard a message about "tokens for good". I can't remember exactly where/what verse (I should really look that up!), but the Bible talks about when we go through struggles, God gives "tokens for good"... When I was reading your post, I thought, "he's her token for good". I love it."

She went on to explain some of the hardships in her and her Husbands life and then described to me what her "token for good" from that situation was... Her precious son.

She's right. God gives us exactly what we need exactly when we need it.

That day, I needed to hear her words. I needed to be lead to this message of Pastor Sextons. I needed to hear what he preached and I was beyond blessed.

I wrote her back and thanked her for the continued encouragement that she is to me. And this is how she responded. =)

"I'm glad the Lord has allowed me to be an encouragement. I recently remember hearing that it means to "give courage to", so I decided to Google it. Look what definition came up! "en·cour·age Verb: 1.Give support, confidence, or hope to . . . " ;)

God gives me exactly what I need, every day. And He can use others to do just that. I just pray that I can be an encouragement the way others are to me. It only takes a little time of your day to say a kind word, or give a compliment; but it can be forever remembered in the heart of another. It truly is a blessing.

So after we spoke, I immediately ran to my computer and googled this message, and I found it! I sat with Jonah and listened while Eli was napping and I was completely blessed.

Pastor Sexton was preaching from the book of Psalms, chapter 86.

It was like every word he said in that message was exactly for me.

He talked about verse 17 and the phrase "a token for good."

 17Shew me a token for good; that they which hate me may see it, and be ashamed: because thou, LORD, hast holpen me, and comforted me.
David prayed for a token for good.

This psalm is understood to be David's prayer, and in this prayer we can see the Lord Jesus Christ so vividly.

David needed some evidence that God was hearing and answering his prayers. He wanted them in a way that was visible.

Sometimes we need visible blessings. And other times we need an inward blessing, or a peace of heart and mind. We need grace and to trust in God no mater what was going on in our lives.

Wow, do I know the need for that. I think God knows that I need that too. That's why he gave me reminders of Maddie Grace as simple as the snow or the birds. Little bits of peace that warm my heart.

I absolutely love this 86th chapter of Psalms.

So many of these verses helped me in the days after Madeline went to Heaven. The words are beautiful.

There are so many verses that speak to me in this chapter but another one that really spoke to me was... Teach me thy way. (verse 11)

I remember after Maddie passed, I just kept thinking to myself; What could the plan in her life being so short be? What was God's way  in all of this?

"The Bible declares Gods ways are not our ways. What we naturally do and naturally think are not the things God would do and God thinks." Pastor Sexton

Naturally, you expect to have and raise your child all your days. I never saw a life without Madeline once I learned that she was coming. But...

His ways are not our ways. Our thoughts are not his thoughts.

God had a plan. Even through my continued heartache and devastation, He has a plan.

I'm being taught His way and His thoughts. I'm learning day by day.

Maddie's life has been used for so much good. Even thought I miss her and I wish she could be here with me, life is good and so is God. God is so full of love and grace and compassion.

We can pray for God to show us a token for good. And He will provide.

God has provided me with this inner strength and grace that Pastor Sexton speaks about in his message. It can only be given by God.

God is good. He can't be anything but good. He loves us.

God has given me a token for good. He's given me Jonah; an answer to my prayer. And like Robyn said, she's been praying for us for healing..... He's providing me with healing.

Sure, there are scars, and pain and heartache resurface from time to time, but I'm healing. I will always ache for her. I miss her and she will always be missing "physically" from our family; but, I can't help to smile for all the blessings I do have here in my life.

I'm finding myself ridiculously happy again.

I never thought this could be. Never.

I look at Jonah and think how I can't imagine life without him. He truly is my token for good.



"We're living surrounded by tokens for good, where God has proven answers to prayer... He's the same yesterday today and forever. He's got a whole lot more tokens that He's gonna drop and give us. We just need to trust Him and believe Him... He's a God that cares." Pastor Sexton

Please take some time this week and listen to this message! There were so many gems that Pastor Sexton shared in here. I promise you it will bless your heart.


March 8, 2012

Holding onto you...



Hope means holding onto you...

Grace means, your holding me too...

These words.

Wow, do they describe the last 2 months of my life completely.

Standing in the kitchen this past week, I heard these words in a song and immediately felt completely comforted.

It was another one of those moments where I truly felt God's arms around me...

The truth is, when Jonah was born my smile returned. He has brought so much love and joy back into the lives of our grieving family. He truly has restored all our hope and more.

But, our sad days do still come, and pain is still a very real part of our hearts and lives.

When I woke up on Monday and saw the snow and heard the birds chirping outside, it made me happy yet sad. Happy because both of these things remind me so much of my sweet daughter, but sad because they also remind me of the similarity to the days and months spent without her last winter. Those days are tough...

Then, Eli was especially missing her this week. He talked all about her and how she was the best sister. :(  He still talks about her all the time and he is always asking to buy her things. Sometimes I don't know if he really thinks we can somehow give them to her? I'm happy he speaks her name but I can't help but sometimes wish it was different. He bought her a little pink bunny that we took over to her grave this week. Before we left, he bowed his little head and started praying to God. He asked God if He would send Maddie back. =(

We still miss Maddie Grace. We always will.

So as I struggled a little this week, I just keep remembering the words of this song.

Hope is holding onto You... Grace is You holding me too.

God's grace is holding me. He continues to hold me up everyday. One day closer to our Maddie Grace.

I'm so thankful God gave us Jonah. Oh how he helps us through on the hard days. When mine and Rick's and the boys hearts are sad, we can look to him. We can hold him. God sent him especially for us during the hardest time of our lives.

His sweet little smiles and giggles light up the room. His presence brings happiness to all of us. His precious kissable chubby cheeks and sweet snuggles are so fulfilling. He has helped us all in ways we couldn't have imagined.

The last two months with him have been amazing.

I love holding him.

I don't like to put him down. (Don't worry, I do some :) but after having aching arms to hold Madeline for so long, he really fills them up. And not just mine, but Rick's and the boys too.

Jonah Bear is such a happy baby and he is the best sleeper. He's been sleeping 8-10 hours a night since he was 8 weeks old. He loves his Daddy and brothers and he follows them all over the room with his eyes. Noah can always soothe him and Elijah makes him giggle. He has the sweetest belly laugh and his brothers love to hear it. So do I.

When Rick comes home from work, Jonah lights up. It's like he really missed him. He really loves his Daddy and Rick is so good with him. He changes diapers, he helps with baths. He loves to swaddle Jonah and cuddle him. Every time I watch him with our boys, it melts my heart and makes me fall in love with him all over again.
Jonah loves to be in my arms and he loves to eat. He's a great nurser and he weighs 15 pounds now. :) He loves to snuggle with me and he really "talks" to me now and tries to mimic anything I say to him.

The bond I have with Jonah is so very special. I'm really enjoying having a newborn again. Elijah is four now, so it seems like so long ago that we had a baby around. Maddie's stay was just so brief and it left us wanting.
It seemed like just yesterday, he was placed in my arms when I experienced one of the most emotional, raw moments of my life. Since then, these last 12 weeks have just been plum full of sweet happiness with him. He truly is my sweet little boy of hope and joy.

The way it feels to hold Jonah is such a comforting, calming thing. It feels so much like how I feel when God is holding me, which is everyday.

I'm so thankful God is there. He's holding me up when I can't stand up myself. He's holding all of us.

Hope is holding on to You, Grace is you holding me to... Love that.

Much Love,
Natalie

Happy 3 months today to my sweet Jonah Asher. You really will never know just what you mean to our family!


Now I would like to share the rest of the photo's from his 2 month/Valentine Photo shoot. =)
Enjoy!


Sweet baby



Dressy baby :)



Chubby Jonah Bear

My favorite!!!

My little Dove


Noah lost his first tooth!

Love Jonah's eyes. lol

My sweet boys- Heart breakers


Love this!



My four babies <3