As we approached our trip to Disney World this year, things were different.
My heart is in better place.
Our family is in a better place.
We're healing; we're growing.
I know God has been working with our family and giving our hearts peace.
He's applied His strength to ours day by day. He's taught us to trust Him entirely and we are.
As I packed up our clothes this time, it crossed my mind.
I was so happy to be going to the "happiest place on earth."
I wasn't trying to escape reality the way I was as I packed up our things January the 11th of 2011. The very same evening of my daughters funeral and the second worst day of my life.
This time, I wasn't filled with sorrow, but joy.
The happiness ahead was something I knew I could feel and embrace this time. God made that possible.
As I packed a fifth suitcase this year, I thanked God for our newest blessing. I filled the suitcase with diapers, and baby food, little tiny outfits and shoes. I packed burp cloths and my nursing covers. They confirmed it; God helped me overcome in a way I never thought I would. He filled my aching arms and the opportunity to raise and mother another child.
I'm living in joy again. I truly am.
I don't think a year and a half ago, I believed this would ever exist again in my life, but it does... It really does. Jonah never replaced Maddie, no one will; but Jonah was that reinforcement of God's love on our lives. He's that glimmer of hope we needed to keep pushing forward as a family, and that's what we have done. =)
The morning of our trip, I woke up to the three happiest, smiliest little boys in my presence; and I felt Maddie Grace in my heart.
I placed her precious little shoes in my bag and brought them along, as I do on all vacations. She was there with us.
We arrived at the airport and jumped on the plane. We were off.
I held Jonah in my lap and we all linked hands together as the plane took off.
Jonah snuggled close and nursed most of the flight until he fell asleep. Rick kept looking over at him and I couldn't take my eyes off him either.
How different this flight felt from the last one.
Finally, Rick asked to hold him. (I honestly didn't want to give him up, but I knew Rick needed him close too. I could tell his arms needed Jonah just as much as mine did,)
I passed his over to Rick and he in return handed me his phone and headphones. He told me I could listen to his play list.
I put the earphones in and sat back to relax.
I looked over and saw Rick peering down at our precious sleeping boy.
Noah was beside him playing away on his 3 DS and Eli was on Daddy's Ipad. ( yes we are electronic buffs ;)
I couldn't help but smile.
How blessed am I?!?
How lucky am I?!?
God is so good to me.
It's been a journey, yes. There has been broken roads and devastating heartache, but if I could tell you the joy I found in that moment. If I could paint that picture in all of your minds, I would.
This same plane ride a year and a half ago was so different. My heart was screaming out in pain.
My body was aching from the delivery of my precious daughter just 5 days prior.Yet no one knew our pain on that flight. I think that was the hardest part for me.
No one knew why we were trying to get away... to escape the reality that was now our life. It made me realize how you just never know what could be going on in someones heart and life. We were broken inside.
We just wanted to go.. To get away and soak up some of that Disney Magic. We wanted to get lost in a world full of dreams and let our boys not have to feel the pain in our lives. We wanted them to feel like for a little while, happiness could return to our hearts some how.
And though I found some of those moments that week in January of 2011, nothing compared to the way I felt this time as we headed to that same magical land.
My heart is different.
My life is different.
My family is different.
God has healed us in so many ways.
As the plane traveled through the sky, my mind raced with so many thoughts of my sweet girl and my precious boys. I laid head back and listened to the words on Rick's play list with a smile on my face.
I heard a voice coming to my ears and I immediately knew the voice... Todd Smith from Selah.
I thought it funny this came on first and I remembered that same flight 19 months ago as I was reading his sweet wife's words as I read almost the entire book "I will carry you" on our flight there.
I thought it was special that God allowed that similarity. He always reveals himself in such amazing ways.
I listened to the words of the song playing and I found myself in tears.
He was singing a song I knew well.
It was a song about his four daughters including little Audrey.
Moments like this....
"So I’m down on my knees
Help me soak it all in..
I want all of this life,
That you’ll let me live..
And when time flies by,
Oh, remind me to breathe...
‘Cause my heaven on earth are moments like these"...
Love. those. words.
I bet I listened to it 5 times.. over and over as this artist described each of his children's personalities and interests. It was beautiful. 4 beautiful daughters and one goal in mind; to cherish every second, to soak it all in and remember these "moment's".. because we all know, time goes too fast and life can be so very brief.
I opened my eyes as I heard the captain announce we were approaching the airport.
I asked God, please Lord, help me soak it all in this week.
Help me to remember everything about my precious 6, 4 and 7 month old this week.
Help me to enjoy my Husband without the interruptions of work and home.
Help us to find moments of bliss and happiness and just "be" together.
I asked that He would help me to enjoy these moments.
And that's exactly what I did...
All week long.
My sweet boys happy to be on vacation...
About to board... lol. Jonah wasn't happy, but... he did great on the flight! =)
Jonah's first plane ride =)
Passing time on the flight.
Eli couldn't wait to see Mickey =)
Off to the Animal Kingdom Lodge
Checking out the room
The Lodge was so nice!
The boys were so excited to be watching the animals right outside our room!
Definitely the coolest hotel view we've ever had. =)
Jonah was taking it all in.
The view from our balcony everyday! It was awesome!
Jonah and Mama =)
My little giraffe =)
Discovering the pool!
Noah Ry jumping in!!!
Jonah loved the water... his little feet were kicking away under there..
At dinner, we were made "family of the day" It was a pretty good start to our trip. =)
We enjoyed the week celebrating Noah's 7th Birthday!
Jonah in is "I wear the pants on this vacation" shirt =)
Off to downtown Disney
Our maid decorated our room with the boys toys =)
Noah chilling in Jonah's playpen =)
Playhouse Disney show
Jonah Bear <3
Lunch with the Characters. June!
About to watch the playhouse Disney show!
Rick was in a show at Hollywood Studios. So fun!
Watching a show
Eli Bear, age 4
This is how Jonah spent most of the week. =)
It was here that I realized just how much I have healed. If you remember my past post from Disney, it was a difficult place for me. I was missing Madeline so very much, but this year I had a little (well big =) bundle of hope in my arms. I cried thinking and realizing how far I've come. I really had a moment just nursing, holding and kissing Jonah. I was thanking God for
for giving me this sweet gift and for providing me with so much healing. <3
My sweet Hope!
He looks so much like Maddie Grace <3
This was a healing week for Rick as well. What a blessing this little guy is to our family!
Off to Epcot!
Trying pop from around the world!!
Eating at the Coral Reef!
Sweet Jonah Bear!
My love and I <3
Ending our day in front of the Epcot ball!
My crazy boys at the hotel..
Jonah sporting his first pair of Mickey ears =)
The boys in front of the "Tree of Life"
Lions, Tigers....and a happy baby! =)
Listening to a story about animals!
Lunch with Donald and the gang at Tusker House.
Eli dancing with Goofy!
Posing with Daisy!
Eli telling Daisy all about his Baby Brother!!!! He's soooo proud and I just love it!
Daisy loved him!!!
And he loved her... <3
Eli LOVED Mickey!!! (and his nose..=)
Headed to Bugs Life show!
My handsome guys!
Jonah on the safari looking at the animals.
He was wearing his "safari" outfit =)
Just before we left Animal Kingdom that day I found this in a gift shop. I had the sweetest peace come over me and I felt my sweet Maddie Grace with me. I wore this necklace the rest of the week. =)
More fun at the hotel...
Rocking on the rocking chairs, watching the animals.
Jonah Asher (7 months)
Elijah Braden (4 years)
The boys... Noah Riley (6 years)
Desert at T-Rex!
Such a cool restaurant!
Off to Magic Kingdom! My little pirates!
Character Breakfast with Pooh and friends!
Meeting Pooh Bear
Melts my heart! He loved him. =)
Eli and Pooh!
Tigger gave Rick a hug. lol.
The boys with their cousin Faith!
Our sweet family.
Parade with Pooh!
Piglet was so sweet!
Piglet LOVED Jonah!
And Jonah felt the same way about him. =)
Our Family of 5 in front of Maddie's Castle... She was with us all day!
Jonah and I on Small World!
Love how he's looking at his Daddy <3
About to become a pirate!!! Jake that is!
Eli wanted to be Capn' Hook!
Me and Jake!!!
Taking the Pirate pledge at Pirates League
Capn' Hook and Jake!!!!
There is just something so magical about this castle...
Jonah's first Mickey <3
What a moment this was for me... My sweet Jonah in front of Maddie's castle. Precious doesn't even describe the way my heart felt as I snapped these photos. They will always be my birdie twins. He will always be, because of her... She made a way for him. And we are so grateful that he is now in our lives. And we are so grateful that she was our daughter, even though it was for a short time on earth. She will always be our precious princess Madeline and we will carry her in our hearts until we reunite with her again in her castle in the sky...
When we turned around from taking these pictures, we noticed everyone looking up and pointing to the sky...
Then we saw this....
How good is God?!?
His promises are real and his love is everlasting.
Did I think it was just a coincidence that a rainbow appeared on our last night of vacation, at my favorite park where Maddie is so much on my mind? The place where we enjoyed a new "first" with our sweet rainbow? Our rainbow of Hope...
No. =) I know God did that just for us! What a great God we serve!
We were all in awe of his goodness and grace that evening...
And we sure are so thankful for Rainbows!!!
We spent the rest of the evenings with smiles on our faces and joy in our heart as we watched the parade and the fireworks. We laughed and hugged and looked to the sky. Always trusting and believing that God's ways are best. Always. We are just so thankful to be His children and to enjoy His love and blessings on our lives...
..."So I’m down on my knees
Let me soak it all in...
I want all of this life...
That you'll let me live...
And when time goes by...
Oh remind me to breathe...
Cause my Heaven on earth....
Are moments like these"...
Thanking God for each of these moments, may I remember never to take any of them for granted.
We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.... ~Walt Disney