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April 23, 2012

Blessings and Rainbows...

Blessings.

I love them. I feel honored to have so many in my life and feel them constantly surrounding me.

Last week, as I struggled missing my Maddie Grace, I received more. I felt more. I read more.

I'm very thankful that on the days when I need them God always provides.

What is a blessing?

1. the act or words of a person who blesses.

2. a special favor, mercy, or benefit:

3. a favor or gift bestowed by God, thereby bringing happiness..

4. the invoking of God's favor upon a person:

5. praise; devotion; worship.

Lately in my life, I've experienced a little bit of all of these.

I opened my inbox last week and read the sweetest note from a friend who I met while attending Bible college. This is what she share..

"Hi sweet friend! I just wanted you to know I shared your sweet Maddie with my ladies today at our Ladies Conference! The morning session was about the desert & I had the privilege of speaking on it.. As I was putting the finishing touches on my outline yesterday, God told me to use your very first blog entry as I talked about when we are allowed to ask Him why...


I then continued to remind them to remember God is still the same God who is good in the good times & remembering that helps us see Him working in the midst of our rough times.

So I read your later post on Jan 3rd of this year as you reflected on your year... I loved how the words you wrote were just what God wanted me to say & you said it even more beautifully.. I also got to show them pics of your sweet Maddie & how she is changing lives! Then I showed them your handsome Jonah "hope."

I thought you would enjoy knowing... That God is still using you & Maddie to minister. Thank you for your brokenness & humbled obedient heart.. Thank you for using your gift of writing & encouragement.. God used You today & Maddie to soften the hearts of those ladies living in the wilderness in their life & they allowed Him to RAIN down his presence in their situations!

Love you & continually encouraged by you & praying for you as you continue to " hope" in Him!!
Much love & hugs!" ~Chrissy

I don't think my sweet friend Chrissy will ever know just what her message meant to me.

Especially during a time when I miss sweet Maddie Grace so much.


To know that my sweet girl is still being spoken of, even 15 months later just blesses my heart.

Her story of God's grace is still being talked of and shared. I just love how Maddie's Ministry keeps on going and making an impact in this world.

It just blesses my heart so much. I'm just so thankful that her little life is touching others and making an impact in this world. I'm thankful I have been able to be a small part of that. It encourages me.

Day after day, God leads me along and continues to teach and show me things...

As I sat in Church yesterday morning, I listened to my Pastor preach a wonderful message on Abraham. And guess what he talked about?

Blessings. =)

He spoke of how Abraham's blessings were falling out onto the lives of those around him.

He charged us with a question.... "What kind of an impact are you making?"

Abraham made a huge impact in the lives of others and his blessings were falling out to those around him.

As my Pastor preached, I thought about what kind of impact I'm making, and my children are making. I want to say I made an impact in this world. A good one. For we all make some sort of an impact.

I know my daughter is making an impact with her little life. My prayer is that I can make one too.

So many people are and have made an impact in my life. Every week I receive sweet notes and messages of encouragement. So many are being used as an encourager in my life. I want to do the same in the lives of others. I want to live in a way that others see Christ in me. I want to be an uplifter, an encourager. I want others to say that I am doing the best I can for the Lord. Sure I'll fail and make mistakes along the way, but I've got to keep trying and pushing forward for the cause of Christ. It's what I was put here to do. I know that.

So as I pondered on these things, I recieved another sweet blessing this week.

I also received another wonderful message this week from my sweet friend Robyn. She shared...

"Your profile picture makes me smile. Your smile is just the best. :) Praise the Lord for rainbows!

I just wanted to tell you that I saw someone say that someone at their work told them to "move on" after the loss of her daughter. It had only been three months. I guess this person asked the woman why she had "shrines" for her daughter. It broke my heart. I wrote to her and told her that I don't know her, but I have been grieving with a friend who lost her daughter over a year ago and even though she has a sweet rainbow baby to fill her arms, that space in her heart will never be filled.

Natalie, the Lord isn't just using you for people you know, He's using you THROUGH people. The woman was someone that posted on a page of a woman that I don't even know, but she's a birth advocate and birth photographer. I was able to encourage her to grieve the way she needed to because I know you and know you need time to grieve because of the way you share your heart. And I don't know why I didn't think of it until now, but I'm going to track down that post and share your blog with her!"

I love you, Natalie and I love seeing the Lord work in your life. It gives me so much courage." Robyn

I just love her and her continued encouragement and blessings on my life. I don't want to let her, or anyone else down. People are hurting. People are going through pain. They need HOPE! If I can give them a way to have that, I want to. I want everyone to know of God's grace. I want them to know that during the darkest moments in our lives, He's there waiting to hold us, help us up. Help us move forward. He loves us.

I just love what Robyn said.... Praise the Lord for Rainbows!!!

I truly do! I'm so thankful God is providing them in my life...

Life is like a rainbow, you need both the sunshine and the rain to make the colors appear. =)

It seems like God just keeps sending more and more rainbows our way and we are enjoying the beauty of them. I want everyone to experience the joy of that. Seeing the beauty in something after the most devastating time in life. Through the hardest storm you have ever walked through. It's an amazing feeling to lift your head and see. We all are hurting for some reason, aren't we?




I love that! So true... I'm just gonna keep watching for the rainbows God is revealing through our storm....  Continuing to praise Him through it all!

Tomorrow, Rick and I are taking a huge step forward into our future for us and our family.

I can't wait to blog about how the Lord has opened doors for our family in such an amazing way. Doors that we haven't even been knocking at. He is doing so much in our lives.

We are moving forward and growing together as a family.

God is providing us with more blessings and more rainbows than we could have ever imagined.

I just know it's all because of Maddie and our faithfulness to Him during the hardest time of our lives.

God truly does take care for His own.

We are trying our best to make an impact., like Abraham. And God's blessings are falling out onto our lives. And I'm hoping, we can share them with others.

I can't wait to share our wonderful news and the story behind it.

Stay tuned...  =)

May many blessings and rainbows come your way this week!

Much Love,
Natalie




April 15, 2012

Hope found this Easter...

I vividly remember this month last year.

My heart was completely broken over Madeline.

It was almost Easter time, and Rick and I were just trying to get through each day. Just trying to breathe.

We were not sure what was ahead or what the future held for us; but we were just trusting in the Lord to carry us through each day.

It was then, the week before Easter that the Lord starting giving me all my hope signs; and a positive pregnancy test. =)

Little did I know just how much these two things would go hand in hand.

I was driving through my town and on the side of a local area Church, I saw a sign that said... "Find hope this Easter."

I remember reading it and thinking, " I could really use some of that.... Hope."

Then it dawned on me...

This baby is our hope.

From that moment forward, hope just kept pouring into my life.  I saw it everywhere. I heard it everywhere. I felt it everywhere.

God was walking with me and comforting me. He was filling my heart and my life with an abundance of hope. He still is. =)

You can re-read that post here...http://mymaddiegrace.blogspot.com/2011/04/finding-hope.html

I loved looking back to where I was a year ago. The posts leading up to our announcement too.

It just blesses my heart to see how God had such a plan for us...

When I read those words, I can't help but beam with smiles. I didn't announce my pregnancy until a few weeks after that post, but he was on his way. Our little bundle of hope.


I most definitely found what I was looking for.

God blessed me more abundantly than I could have imagined. He answered my prayer and gave me what I was searching for. He knew exactly what I needed.

And now, one year later, we were holding him in the flesh. Our little rainbow of hope.



Jonah's story stands to tell that dreams do come true. Prayers are answered. God is good.

This Easter was so sweet. Our arms were filled with Jonah, Elijah and Noah; but our hearts were full of Maddie Grace. We are blessed beyond all measure. We are so full of happiness again.

Looking back now, I can truly see that God had a plan all along, for me and for our precious family.

The road hasn't been easy, but the result was worth it.

I can truly say, I found it.

I found that hope I was looking for last Easter; and I continue to enjoy it everyday.

Thank you Lord for the hope you provide; and thank you for Your Son and what he gave for us. We can know we have heaven as our home, because of what Jesus did for us. John 3:16

Because of Your grace, we know we will be with Maddie again. Though we miss her with us here, we are so thankful that she is safe with you in Heaven.

Lord, you have given us so much and we are so very grateful.


To all of you reading, thank you for continuing to follow our story, it means so much to us. We hope all of you had a very blessed Easter as well.

Much love,
Natalie

Our precious family on Easter this year <3






















April 6, 2012

Maddie Grace was here...

Life is busy, and with all of it's busyness, I have not had a chance to do one of my most favorite things... write.

I have a few extra moments this morning so I wanted to jump on here and share some things with you that are going on in our lives. There has been a lot!

We have been super busy around the Ross household. Last week, we did a complete living room/dining room renovation.

We've painted, pulled up carpet, put down hard wood flooring and new molding. It looks so beautiful and I can't wait to decorate now. I have to say though, doing a project like that with 3 kiddo's including a 3 month old baby was a lot of work, and one of the main reasons I didn't get to blog last week. =) I was glad we got it done though, it looks so beautiful.

A few other things happened last week too.

We got Madeline's stone.

We do not have it engraved yet, that's the next step; but I'm glad that at least she has a stone now. I don't think there is anything harder as a parent than having to come up with words to put on your child's headstone, but we want it to be perfect. Her stone is a pale mauve heart. It's really perfect for her and the story behind "this" stone is so sweet.

I remember after Maddie Grace passed thinking, we have to get her a headstone. I remember being so lost in grief at that point, I didn't know which way was up. Yet, our sweet friends Mark and Cassandra came to us. Cassandra told me that her father had contacted her and asked if we were in need of a headstone. With all the hospital bills/emergency room bills, we had not yet had a chance to even think about getting one. He said he had one and it was ours if we wanted it. Cassandra sent me a picture of the stone, and I knew right away, it was perfect for Maddie Grace. It was such a blessing and I knew that the Lord used them to give us that stone. It was another one of God's blessings and "hugs" that He gave just to us. I'm very grateful.

I'll be glad to get it engraved and I will post pictures once it's set in her place. I think it will be good to have it over there, so everyone can read the name of our sweet daughter who changed our lives forever. She is so missed.
Also, last week Maddie Grace's tree bloomed! Her pink Dogwood that we planted last spring is in full bloom and it's absolutely beautiful! Last year it only had one pink flower, but this year it's full of beautiful pink flowers. Every time I see it out the kitchen window, I can't help but smile. I'm so glad we planted this tree in her memory. I know it won't bloom for long, but I'm really enjoying watching it while it's here. It seems like there are always some birdie's nearby too, which is so sweet.

We are going to take a family photo out there today. A few sweet friends of mine gave me the idea. I think it will be a sweet way to include Maddie in our photographs each spring. A little bit of pink added to my otherwise masculine brood. =)

Speaking of boys...

The boys are wonderful! Noah is on spring break this week so we have had a full week of fun! We've gone to the Y, gone swimming, to dinner, played outside, gone to the zoo and much more.

I've loved having all three of my boys home all week. We have truly made some wonderful memories.

Jonah loved his first time at the zoo and I loved sharing that "first" experience with him. I loved watching his sweet smiles and grins as I pushed him all around. I don't think there is anything more beautiful than watching the wonder in a baby's eyes. Just precious. Here's a picture I snapped of him.

How precious is he?

And them? So blessed.

We have also enjoyed spending some time with my sweet nephew. He's been staying with us this week as well. He is such a great example to my little guys and truly a joy to have around.

I took all four of them to the store this week (yes I know I 'm crazy :) but I wanted them to pick out all of their favorite foods and snacks. After all, it is spring break.

If I heard it once, I heard  it a hundred times that day... Oh wow, four boys...

Part of me wanted to say in a sarcastic way, "Hey, you can count." =)

But the nice side of me said this... "Yep, we have four this week. Three of them are mine and one is my nephew." followed by Maddie's story...

I wondered if I would ever get to the place where I won't tell her story. I wondered if I would always share with them that I too, have a little girl. She was beautiful. She had the darkest fullest head of hair I'd ever seen. The most beautiful round chubby cheeks. She had the sweetest dimpled chin. She was my daughter. She is my daughter. Oh how I miss her.

Sometimes I find myself staring at families who have two older boys and a little girl, just thinking, "wow, that's how it would have been."

No, "oh wow, you have ALL boys?" comments.

No, "Awe, you need a little girl."

No sadness when I walk by the baby girl department or see pink and turquoise dresses.

But it's in those moments I just pull my sweet Jonah Asher a little closer and watch my beautiful healthy boys and think, I am blessed. I truly am blessed. In sadness and in pain. In missing and in wanting. I'm still blessed.

Later that day, I received a phone call. One of my sweetest friends was calling to check on me and see how the boys were doing.

I shared my heart with her about missing Maddie and told her how "everything" reminds me of her so much. I told her that I'd gotten stronger over the last 15 months but that occasionally the hard days still come when they do, I just want to cry. I knew she would understand, because she too knows this pain.

She told me this.... "It's been 8 years for me since Belle went to Heaven and I've gotten stronger through the years, but every now and then I'll have a day where something will remind me of her. On those days it's hard. But, I try to instead of thinking how she's not here, remember that she was. She was here. She was a part of our family. And one day we will all be in Heaven together again. So when something reminds me of her it makes me happy. I try not to be sad that she isn't here anymore, but be grateful that she was."

L.O.V.E that.

I love my sweet friend Kelsey and her wisdom and advice she's shared with me.

She was here. Maddie Grace was here.

The pink sunsets, the sweet little birds, the colors pink and turquoise. The word Grace, dark haired baby girls, tutu's, The hymn's "There's something about that name", "His eye is on the sparrow" and her pink Dogwood tree.... All of them are reminders to me. She was here.

Maddie Grace was here.

It was like all of the sudden a weight was lifted for me.

I like that idea. I like looking at everything that reminds me of her and instead of being sad that "She isn't, being thankful that "she was."

Later that afternoon, Jonah fell asleep on my chest. I was rocking him and listening to the boys play and giggle upstairs. Then all of the sudden a little birdie started chirping in the tree right outside my window. I felt like all four of them were with me. It was such a sweet calming moment that the Lord gave me. I closed my eyes and listened to that sweet birdie sing. I wondered how beautiful Maddie Grace must be in Heaven. I'll never forget that moment holding Jonah, listening to my boys and that little Maddie birdie. It was so precious.

So many things will always remind me of her and I have a feeling, I will continue to talk of her all of my days. That's just who I am.

I am a mom proud of my daughter. I will always say her name. I love her.

She has changed my life forever.

Maddie Grace was here.

Love that.

May we always be thankful for the moments we have had, instead of wishing for the ones we haven't.

God is good. Always.





Much Love,
Natalie