Remembering two of my sons

One year ago yesterday we found out that our sweet son Hosanna died, and it will be a year ago on Tuesday since he left the secret depths of my body.
Two years ago today our adorable little Peace died & was born into my hands, just a few mere hours after we saw his precious heartbeat on an ultrasound.

Yesterday I got together with my best friend to practice singing something we’re doing for a meditation in church on Sunday, and the words were so encouraging, given these anniversaries/reminders. The lyrics remind us that Christ humbled Himself by coming to earth, then living and dying in order to take away the sting of death from His people ~ that JOY is ours completely because He came to abolish the sadness that comes with sin and death.

Anyway, it gave my friend and me an opportunity to talk about my heaven-babies, specifically Peace and Hosanna, because of their anniversaries right now… and I love talking about my children. (in case you’ve never noticed, haha…) And I’m so thankful that God has given me such a sweet friend who loves to talk about them too. :happytears:

So today I remember my sweet Peace Nikonos and Hosanna Praise. Two of the beautiful boys I am eager to be reunited with when I join them on the other side of those glorious heavenly gates. How my heart loves them! This mommy still remembers holding them in my womb, seeing them on ultrasound screens, praying for their lives, mourning for their deaths, and the years of grief mingled with joy as I miss them now but anticipate meeting them again.

Mommy, Daddy, and Big Brother love you two sweet littles forever and deeply... and Little Brother will too once he knows who you are.

Anticipating Heaven

Today I am anticipating so many things. Finishing some things on our house. Moving day. Baby Nine’s arrival. Heaven.

Wait a second, did you read that right? Yes, indeed: you did. I said heaven.

I suppose heaven is something that most Christians would say they anticipate, but today I am anticipating it in a particular way. It’s October 15th again. That’s the day for national remembrance of pregnancy/infant loss. Last year, Gabriel and I did some special, tangible things to remember his brothers and sisters, including letting balloons float away up into the sky in their memory. If you remember, though, unfortunately the bunch of balloons was blown into our neighbor’s super tall pine tree in their backyard! Oops! So umm… while some of the balloons have slowly escaped the branches and fallen to the ground, there are still at least two left up there. So yeah… we decided not to do the same thing this year. Maybe next year the boys and I will let balloons go from the vast expanse of our own pasture. Away from trees. 🙂

This year I am being low-key about things. I will light seven candles this evening to reflect a tiny spark of the glorious beauty our seven “heaven babies” are enjoying, and to remind us of the brightness & joy each of them have brought to our family. And besides that, I am simply anticipating. Anticipating with curiosity as well as great joy.

There are many things I anticipate about heaven. No more tears, no more sorrow, no more grief, no more pain (Revelation 21:4). Rejoicing and praising our Father forever alongside our Brother Jesus Christ (Psalm 11:4 and Psalm 103:19). Joining the ranks of all the saints who have gone before ~ including my seven children.

I don’t know a lot about heaven. Details, I mean. But I trust in the covenant promises of my heavenly Father (Hebrews 9:15), and believe that His faithfulness extends even to a thousand generations (Deuteronomy 7:9 and Psalm 105:8) ~ so one thing of which I am confident, is that I will meet my children again (1 Corinthians 13:12 and Philippians 3:20-21). My little host of redheads are not in my home and will not return to me; but someday I will join them in the mansion created by God the King (John 14:2-3) and I will go to them (2 Samuel 12:23).

So while I anticipate some ordinary things like my new house and some extraordinary things like holding a living baby of my own again soon… I am also anticipating some truly inconceivable things like the glories of heaven. Today I reflect on God’s goodness in sustaining us through long-repetitive grief, His mercy in allowing us to have a bigger covenantal family than we ever imagined, His grace in providing us with covenantal promises to claim, and His gift of hope for our reunion with our beautiful children once He calls to our eternal home with them.

So today I am honoring and remembering my adorable children,

Covenant Hope (July 29, 2007)
Glory Hesed (March 30, 2009)
Promise Anastasis (June 20, 2009)
Peace Nikonos (November 5, 2009)
Mercy Kyrie (January 26, 2010)
Victory Athanasius (May 18, 2010)
Hosanna Praise (November 8, 2010)

and while I continue to grieve the emptiness I feel over their absence in our earthly home, I joyfully anticipate being present with them for eternity in our heavenly home.

Anticipate the glories of heaven with me today!!


Isaiah 26:3-4

You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on You,
because he trusts in You.
Trust in the LORD forever,
for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.

Peace Nikonos, my precious little baby… a year ago today we saw your beautiful heartbeat. Your sweet little body floated in Mommy’s womb, and we watched you on the ultrasound machine. Just a few hours later, I held you in my hand and wept over you. Today I weep again, as I remember the happiness you brought us during your life, and the devastation that your death left behind. We know you are in perfect peace, and you have been made perfect through the righteousness of Christ, as you reign in the glories of heaven with Him. But I still miss you. Daddy misses you. And your big brother misses you. He says your name beautifully. I hope you welcomed your newest little sister with joy and blessing this week. Dance with her while I can’t. Praise the Lord together. My arms ache to hold you and my lips long to cover you with kisses. I hope I can do that when I reach heaven’s glories.

There really isn’t a day in my life that isn’t eclipsed by grief.

My Face

It’s October now.
Many people don’t know that this month is designated as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. (now you do.)
Furthermore, October 15th is the specific day set aside as a remembrance day for the loss of all these children.
Including six of my children.
So while I remember and love my children every day of the year, and miss them even more specifically on their loss dates and due dates… this is a special national time to openly remember my kids. While I am never afraid or ashamed to speak of Covenant, Glory, Promise, Peace, Mercy, and Victory ~ but, in fact, love to do it because I love them and also because I want to use their lives to impact the world ~ this remembrance day/month affords extra opportunities for me to share my story. Their stories. Our story.

In honor of that, I finally got the courage to post my story on a site called Faces Of Loss, Faces Of Hope. It’s sort of a sister site to the Grieve Out Loud site that I participate in.
I was glad to get my story up there. To talk about my children. To share my faith. To give the glory to God. To cry while I did it.

Take a look at my face. I am the face of recurrent miscarriage. I am the face of grief. I am the face of a bereaved mommy. I am the face of plowing in hope.

Tuesday February 2, 2010

Today would have been Promise’s due date, and I could have shared newborn photos.
Or today I would have had Peace’s “big ultrasound” pictures to share with you.
But God’s ways are most certainly not our ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts.

So today I am sharing Mercy’s memory photos with you instead.
This mommy loves my children not one mite less for the fact that I only got a handful of weeks with each of them.

Saturday December 5, 2009

A month ago today my world crushed and fell ~ again.
A month ago today my youngest child flew to Paradise.
A month ago today my hope was crushed.
A month ago today my faith was shaken.
A month ago today my womb became empty again.
A month ago today our future became uncertain.
A month ago today the sackcloth was brought out.
A month ago today we donned our grief.
A month ago today the weeping gates flew open.

Today I am still weeping.
Today I am asking, why?
Today I am so lonely.
Today my hope and faith are trying.
Today my womb itself is crying out.
Today I feel isolated, alone.
Today I feel ashamed, humiliated.
Today my arms ache for the children I can never hold.
Today my breasts ache to nurture and overflow.
Today I wonder what God is doing.
Today I just can’t see.
Today my heart is breaking ~ again.

Here are some pictures of some of our tangible memories (the arrow and the necklace). We also have Peace’s beautiful little handmade-by-Grandpapa box, which sits in our too-crammed china cabinet cupboard with Covenant’s, Glory’s, and Promise’s. We’ve never buried them. I prefer to see them, and feel like my olive plants are still circling our table.

Held” ~ by Natalie Grant

Two months is too little
They let him go
They had no sudden healing
To think that providence
Would take a child from his mother
While she prays, is appalling
Who told us we’d be rescued
What has changed and
Why should we be saved from nightmares
We’re asking why this happens to us
Who have died to live, it’s unfair

This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was when everything fell
We’d be held

This hand is bitterness
We want to taste it and
Let the hatred numb our sorrows
The wise hand opens slowly
To lilies of the valley and tomorrow

This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was when everything fell
We’d be held

If hope is born of suffering
If this is only the beginning
Can we not wait, for one hour
Watching for our savior

This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was when everything fell
We’d be held
We’d be held

This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was when everything fell
We’d be held

This is what it means to be held…..

Tears for Peace ~ by Mommy

Teardrops fell when I learned you were growing inside,
Teardrops fell when I first saw you -so little- on the screen,
Teardrops fell when your heart beat in beautiful rhythms,
Teardrops fell when you were delivered into my bloody hand.

Teardrops fall because I love you so incredibly much.
Teardrops fall because you are gone from our home and our arms.
Teardrops fall because your brother is lonely.
Teardrops fall because Mommy and Daddy miss you so extremely.
Teardrops fall because you are our precious, beloved baby ~ but you are so far away.

Each day I feel farther away from you,
Farther from holding you in my belly~
It burns me from the inside out.
But each day I am closer to you,
Closer to when I can join you in Paradise
And enjoy an eternity together without tears.

No matter where I go,
No matter what I do,
I miss you every single moment~
Heartache and emptiness and tears.

My love for you remains,
It always and forever will.
My sweet baby Peace,
We will meet again.
With tears of joy instead of pain.

~I love you, baby dear, and I miss you so much~

Friday November 20, 2009

These were the three little candles we had lit on October 15th in remembrance of Covenant, Glory, and Promise. Next year there will be another one added for Peace.

In mid-October we spent a day at podunky little town in the center of the state, meeting up with two of Steven’s buddies from “pre wife” life. lol. Abby and Jared. We had a great time hanging out at a random park, and then enjoying the rainless coziness of an awesome cafe.

Eventually the maple tree in our front yard finished dropping most of its leaves, so it was time to rake! Gabriel was thrilled and loved to help Daddy. 🙂

We have been blessed by many beautiful flowers during the pregnancy with Peace, and after the miscarriage. Aren’t these lovely? They have certainly blessed us.
This one was organized by my friend Margaret, from about a dozen families from our church!

This gorgeous vase and rose was from my friend Meggan; it has dried now and sits on the vanity in our room.

From our church family, a lovely bouquet.

From my friend Lisa, I think she said these are Peruvian lilies.

Gorgeous roses from Jaclynn and Samantha, filling my entire kitchen with the scent of roses!
On November 14th I was supposed to throw a baby shower at church for my dear friend Elizabeth. I was able to still do all the preparations, shopping, decorating, games, etc — but I did not actually go to host the shower in person. So another mutual friend pinch-hit-hosted for me, and hopefully it all went together well. I sincerely wanted it to be a time of joy and blessing for Elizabeth and her new baby boy (who we finally got to meet this week!). I don’t have any good pictures, but here are some random shots of the cupcakes I made, one of the tables, and the brunch table & gift table. Sorry you can’t get an idea for how fun and cute it was… it was a work in progress when I took these. 🙂 I’m hoping someone took pictures of the shower, because I really want to see how everything turned out! I had a lot of fun putting together the games too… I should tell y’all about them sometime. When I feel like talking baby again.

Here is my gorgeous little boy. We were playing around the house together as usual, and I brought out my camera one day. This is what we got. Plus a lot more of the same. lol.

My grandparents are in town for a while, celebrating not only Thanksgiving but also both their birthdays! (and my hubby’s birthday next week, too) So last Sunday (on Grandpa’s 80th birthday!) we had a little party for the two of them at my parents’ house.
We even brought presents — homemade goodies: soup mix, bread mix, chocolate truffles, and candied pecans.

I don’t know that you can tell by the photos, but Gabriel runs so fast with this toy — he falls down every so often once he gets dizzy, and it’s fairly comical.

The birthday boy relaxing by the fire.

Table decorations.

Smiley little Noah! He thinks Auntie M is craaaaaaazy.

Pretty little Hannah.

On the menu? Grilled surf ‘n’ turf!

Decadent chocolate cake and Baskin Robbins ice cream for dessert.

Birthday wishes!

Showing Great Grandpa his little car-driving-toy

Saturday November 7, 2009

I do not have the wherewithal to post much new right now.
Like Job, before we can continue with life and pour ourselves into worship, we need to grieve — in Scripture this is described by tearing of garments, covering oneself in ashes, weeping in the square, grieving both privately and corporately, etc… So that’s where we are right now. In deep grief; physically, emotionally, spiritually.
Eventually, yes, the Lord will pull us through the grief and into life & worship.
He always provides.
Our mourning is not inconsistent with the Scriptures or with God’s character. It is part of the process.
So please mourn with us and be patient with us, as we appropriately grieve the death of our child.

Remember the etiquette (“regulating social behavior”, which is loving your neighbor) post, not just for me — but for you, your future, your family, your friends. We are not the only family enduring the death of children.
Remember our cries to God for His mercy, and join us in praying for future grace.
Remember our great love for this fifth arrow in our family, our precious Peace Nikonos.
Remember that there are great resources, both Christian and secular, for dealing with the death of children.
Remember that grief is a process; it takes time, it takes mourning.

Remember the broken hearts, remember the crushed dreams, remember the olive plants who are not sitting around our table, remember the parents & grandparents whose arms are empty, remember the process of grief — and pray to God for mercy upon yourself, your family, your future — and, if you would be so kind, for us & ours as well.

We know that our family belongs to Him.
And we trust Him to lead us through this valley of the shadow of death in His perfect timing.
And we pray for His grace to someday, by His enabling power, fill our home with the pitter-patter of many tiny feet, cries in the nighttime, and laughter in the day.

Thank you for being with us through these trials.
It is so much easier to rejoice with those who rejoice —
but we thank God for you, and your willingness to weep with those who weep.
May God return to you double for your kindnesses.

Friday November 6, 2009

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

Dear brothers and sisters

First we want to thank you for lifting our family up in prayer and for being the loving hands of our Heavenly Father to us. It has meant a great deal to us.

Last evening the Lord called our fifth arrow home to glory to enter the Lord’s rest, joining three siblings there.
We now ask that you would mourn with us the loss of Peace Nikonos. The name Nikonos means “of the one who overcomes“. Our little one–as a child of the covenant–has overcome the death imputed to all men through Adam, and has entered into the peace and rest imputed by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ through faith. Praise be to God that death is not the end, but it has been vanquished by Christ. Sin and death no longer have any hold over this precious child. Surely the resurrection is our hope and our peace. And our portion may be found before the throne of Christ.

Please pray with and for us. This loss, the death of our child, is extremely difficult for us to bear. We feel extremely weak in emotions and spirit. Pray that God, our high tower and our refuge, would comfort us. Pray that God would deliver us from the temptation to doubt, fear, despair or become bitter. And pray that the Lord would hear our cry to enable us to serve Him in the raising of children.

May the Lord give strength to His people! May the Lord bless His people with peace!” – Psalm 29:11
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
The one who overcomes will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before His angels.” – Revelation 3:5
Behold I am making all things new. … It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who overcomes will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.” – Revelation 21:5-7

~thank you

Go on and faint not, something of yours is in heaven,
beside the flesh of your exalted Saviour, and ye go on after your own.
~Samuel Rutherford
They are not lost to you that are laid up in Christ’s treasury in heaven.
At the resurrection
ye shall meet with them:
there they are, sent before but not sent away.
Your Lord loveth you, who is homely to take and give, borrow and lend.

~Samuel Rutherford

Thursday November 5, 2009

I don’t know what to write because I don’t want to put the words in concrete.

We don’t understand what happened.
But the baby is gone.
Oh God, help me.
His heart was beating this morning. For pity sake, we saw it with our own eyes!!!!!!
He looked so healthy and beautiful!!
God, why would You DO that?!

And somehow while I was lying down this afternoon, holding him closer than anything, he died.
God, aren’t You LISTENING?!

I know I wanted to hold you in my hands, but not now. Not today.
Oh God, not today.

Our hearts are broken.
Our faith is crushed.
Our strength is gone.
We feel forsaken. Completely.

His little body is so beautiful.
From his little eyes pits to his tiny legs.
He would have been so handsome.
God, why did you take him from our family?! We LOVED this child!

I don’t think I can keep breathing.