It’s your 27th birthday……

Lizz 12 12112009 (2)My precious Elizabeth……

Today is your 27th birthday……the second birthday that you will celebrate in heaven.  You are not here for me to give you a card…..a present…….or an embrace.  I think this is the hardest part of a parent having a child that lives in heaven.  And yes, this is a tough day for your Mom….I think I miss you most on this day.  It is a reminder of my 8 pound and 14.5 ounce baby that was born 27 years ago.  Their are only 3 people that have heard my heart beat from the inside of my body……and when we lose someone that has been that connected to us, it’s tough.  Really tough.  I am reminded of all those years of you needing me for your basic needs in life.  The joy of you as a small child, the struggle of those tough teen years and watching you grow into an amazing woman and becoming a mother yourself.   I loved our relationship the last 5 years of your earthly life.  As I reflect on those years, as God would have it, those would be the things I will store up in my heart forever to help with this separation we now experience.  I hold dear those almost daily phone calls,  watching you grow your business and develop your talent, raising your boys in a home of love and grace, and simply displaying your joyous spirit.

My heart is still broken…..and I now understand that it will never be fully whole until we are in heaven and Jesus wipes away all our tears.  But God has also shown me that in this brokenness He uses it for His glory.  And therefore your life lives on in a such a profound way, and I am honored that God has allowed me to be apart of it.

So how will I spend this day……your 27th birthday?

I will start my day with you……at the earthly place that bears witness to your life.  I will lay your wreath I made for you out of your favorite color.  And I will spend time reading scripture, listening to my favorite worship music.  I have learned when these days come I must turn to Jesus and hear what God says to me through his Word.  I will lift my hands and praise the one who gave you to me….and for that I am so very grateful.

2014 Birthday wreath Lizz

I will then spend the day being nice to myself with a massage, facial and manicure/pedicure.  I think you would approve!  Your Mom is trying to take better care of herself.   Something I acknowledge I haven’t done so well for the last 19 months.   I will also have lunch with my dearest friend.   She has walked this path with me….always supportive and loving.   It will be our last time to see each other for awhile because we will be separated by time zones as she leaves Texas to live in another state.  I will end the day with attending a woman’s conference with your sister Jennifer.  I can’t wait to see what God is going to reveal to me through this conference.  I am convinced it is a God appointment that I must keep.

And at the end of the day as I lay my head, I will pray as I do every night to my precious Savior.  I will ask him just like I do every night to hug and kiss you and the boys and tell you that I love you so very much……

As I did last year, I have honored your memory by placing a memorial in the Lexington Leader and the Salado Village Voice.

Eliz_Bday

And I have created your birthday video.  The songs I used are songs that John and I heard at the Steven Curtis Chapman concert with Josh Wilson earlier this month.  These two songs were part of the concert and God spoke to my heart in a very profound way as they performed these songs.  The first song is by Josh Wilson “Dark before the Morning” and the second song is by Steven Curtis Chapman “See you in a little while”.

To view the video, please click the link below:

Elizabeth…….one thing I have realized since you went to your forever home and you are no longer physically present here but you are in my heart and go with me wherever I go!  You and my precious Savior!   And because of that I am hopeful that there will be things as I go through out the day and weekend that will warm my heart because it will remind me of you.

Until I am called to my real home, know that you give me strength and creativity, to be open to God’s leading and to see where this journey will take me.

Dear Jesus:  It’s my little girl’s birthday!  Hold her tight and tell her I love her!  Tell her I’ll see her in a little while……and I’m sure you are throwing her an awesome celebration!  As the song says, we are ready and waiting for you to come…….until then I will press on and fight the good fight…….and will hold on knowing this time is the dark before the morning……

I love you Elizabeth Anne……to the moon and back.

Mom

Life…..

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 6 weeks since I last posted to the blog…….and as I reflect over that span of time I can sum it up with the words:   “Real Life” has been happening.  To be honest here, our life is not always the mountaintops, rah, rah years, but sometimes it is the season of the mundane in the day to day activities that build our character as much as those seasons of crisis.  Through those mundane activities who we are as people shine through.  And sometimes we witness some great character traits and sometimes quite frankly we see things we want to change.

I was forewarned that the second year of grief as a bereaved parent is worse than the first!  When I first heard that, I thought there is no way that can be true!  Now that I am in the throws of it, I’m not sure I would say it is worse, it is however; very, very different than the first year…….at least it is for me (and everyone’s journey is different).  The shock has now worn away and the reality of your life without your child/grandchildren comes in full display of what a “new normal” is going to be like until we are called home to join them.  It’s not so much the past memories that make this difficult, but the ones going forward I won’t get to experience.  For example, the birth of Hayes, experiencing him crawling, walking, talking and growing up.  Seeing Fischer and Ben go to Kindergarten, playing sports, learning to drive, getting their hearts broken from a romance, graduating, getting married, having children of their own and the list goes on and on.

So, 2014 is going to be a year of great transition for me.  I feel like a snake that is shedding a layer of skin.  There are days I am the one scraping off the old, and other days God is doing the scraping.  It has led me to make some personal choices in this regard and I have changed my responsibilities at work (so very grateful for my boss and company I work for!) to allow me more time to focus on my healing, finding my “new normal”, establishing Elizabeth’s and the boys scholarship funds, and Grace Based Parenting opportunities.  You see I have recognized that I no longer manage the crisis and stress well anymore and if I had any hope of thriving, I knew I needed to make a change.  I went from leading an organization of 200 to a team of 10.  I had someone tell me how courageous I was in making that decision to choose to walk away……but to me it was one of survival.  I knew I wasn’t functioning well and the crisis management that I use to thrive in was now an incredible burden.  Additionally, this shedding and scraping has also manifested in beginning the process of scouring the house from top to bottom to rid my life of unnecessary “stuff”.    I have designated 2014 as 52 weeks of going through something….a drawer, a closet, a file. So today, I face another obstacle.  Cleaning my closet.  I tried to do this a couple of weeks ago and it was very overwhelming.  Who would have thought that the simple sorting process of what to keep and give away was emotionally overwhelming.  I know that may sound crazy to some, but perhaps to others you can relate?  Through this process, I also found out something interesting about myself.  I have an emotional connection to my clothes.  I hope I am not alone here :).  Our clothes signify events, moments, stages in our life.  I would put something in the “get rid” of pile, only to place it back in the closet until I became so overwhelmed that I just stopped.  So, I have an entire closet of business suits that I do not wear and haven’t worn in years that I am donating to military women coming out of the service and can use them.  I have also given up wearing uncomfortable shoes (high heels!), but yet I find it hard to part with them.  But today, I take another step, another transition…..no matter how small…..because I have found life is in the small, mundane, day to day and yes, their is significance in cleaning out closets of our past.

I shared with my daughter Lauren that for the first time since the accident, I had cooked dinner for 7 consecutive nights.  Many of you may have the same reaction as Lauren did which was total shock!  Yes, I have to admit in the last 18 months, I had finally gotten to where I had cooked dinner 7 nights in a row!  For me, it was a milestone, albeit a small one, but a milestone none the less and I will take those small victories.  I still can’t say that my feet hit the floor excited about what the day brings…..but as a person of faith I have learned not to depend on my feelings…..but rely on who God says He is and who I am as his daughter…..so, I continue to put my feet on the floor, one foot in front of the other  and take each day, each moment as it comes holding on to God and his promises.  I am also so blessed to be married to a man that doesn’t push me to do anything that I’m not ready to do.  He loves me unconditionally and God knew I would need him for this season in my life when he brought us together.  I am convinced more than ever, that one of John’s purposes in this earthly life was to be with me during this season…..my helpmate……my beloved.

So, I’m off to scrape off some old skin and clean out a closet!

Until next time!

Julie