Five Minute Friday : Truth (for my 7 year old)

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Seven years ago today I heard your first cries and held you in my arms for the first time and stepped into this new adventure of motherhood. Today, you are big and strong and learning and growing so much. More than anything, I want you to know the truth about yourself, about my love for you, about the fact that you were created by a God who knew you and loved you before I even knew you existed.

My constant prayer for you, my strong seven year old, is that you will live by these truths, that you will speak love and truth to those around you, that your laughter and joy in life will keep pouring over into everyone you meet. Be a truth-seeker and a truth-speaker, son. Be brave and courageous, knowing that God is with you. And that I will always love you.

Love,

Momma

(linking up with here with Lisa Jo)

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and laughter too…

I couldn’t resist also sharing these shots of a boy and his dad that I was able to capture last week at the Chicago Botanic Gardens. The pure joy and love that radiates from their faces makes me smile every time I look at them.

DSC05208 DSC05207 DSC05203 DSC05202 DSC05194 DSC05191And then these of me and my oldest boy, who is growing up so quickly. But even when you are a great big boy you can’t escape your momma’s lovin’.DSC05251 DSC05254 DSC05270 These boys, they make me laugh and cry, and yes sometimes (umm, often times) they bring me to my knees. But they and their daddy know how to make me laugh. Beauty and laughter…these are food for my soul, gifts straight from Heaven.

on prayers in the mess and not being alone

DSC04796_2A month of Sundays has come and gone since I’ve written here.

Sunny, 90 degree days of shorts and sandals followed by pull the wool socks back out, chilly days we’ve had this May. Celebrations of graduation, a trip out west, visiting gardens and watching baseball along with school and work and the day to day business of living have filled our days.

I’ve stumble for words, for the right words to put here this month. Because in everything I do I want the “right.” But my life doesn’t often feel orderly and put together. Most of the time it feels messy and like I’m just barely keeping my head above water and,

oh Jesus, help!

I pray that a lot.

Oh Jesus, help!

I think its a good prayer. I also wish I remembered to pray it more. Like when I am so done with repeating myself for the fiftieth time to my boys. Or when I smell the warm air and am transported back to one year ago in the hospital with Naomi on my first Mother’s Day as a mother of three. Or when I am about to board a plane for Portland and leave my boys for a week for the first time since my daughter died. Or when I have so much to do and all I want to do is go to bed. Or when I hear about tornadoes and children dying and homes destroyed. Sometimes I pray. Sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I want to pray but can’t. But all the time Jesus is with me. And He knows. He knows the struggle and the mess and the joy and the sorrow.

In grief and in life I think sometimes all we need is to know we are not alone. And to know we are loved.

You are loved. I am loved. We’re all a mess. And Jesus is here in the midst of it with us.

This is what I know to be true.

Her Birthday

Thursday we celebrated the miracle of her life, one year later.

Naomi Ruth Smith, born April 25, 2012…

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DSC03815 DSC03823We made a cake.

DSC03804 DSC03829 DSC03830And our home filled with beautiful flowers from friends and family near and far while our phones beeped with texts of love, reminding me that we are held in the hearts and prayers of so many.

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We released balloons up into the bright blue sky and her brothers blew out her candles.

DSC03869 DSC03889 DSC03893_2 DSC03856We made these fun little butterfly treats, because of course there should be party favors!

While it was not the first birthday I would have wanted for my daughter, with her in Heaven and us here, it was a day in which tears mixed with laughter and I am so grateful that I could laugh and smile. I am grateful for hope and I am grateful that I made it through the day! Thank you to everyone who called, texted, or sent us words of love, remembering the life of our precious daughter with us. We are so grateful for your standing with us on this journey.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Romans 15:13

On new life and the intermingling of joy and pain

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“I want to feel both the beauty and the pain of the age we are living in. I want to survive my life without becoming numb. I want to speak and comprehend words of wounding without having these words become the landscape where I dwell. I want to possess a light touch that can elevate darkness to the realm of stars.” – Terry Tempest Williams, When Women Were Birds

I stumbled across this quote here and it simply captured me and spoke to some of the questions I am living right now and that, it seems, many others are in light of the events of this week in our country. You go looking hard enough any day of any week and the questions and pain, the suffering so many are enduring, will overwhelm. It is hard to live without answers. It is hard to “live the questions,” as one of my college professors always challenged us to do. It is easier to push those questions and seeming contradictions aside and go on with the day to day living, the day to day numbing.

I’ve had several people remark to me lately of how amazed they are at the openness that we have had regarding this journey of loving and loosing our daughter. I too, wonder at that. And while sometimes privacy is important and the sacred should be guarded and not all stories are meant for public consumption, there has been at the core a need for me to share my story, Naomi’s story, our family’s story. It is a way to feel both the beauty and the pain. It is a way for me to shake off the ever encroaching numbness, to find light in the darkness that I walk through. Every day, I have to look for the light, for God’s presence. These past couple of weeks, I’ve had to look harder. Things have felt a bit darker.

I had the amazing privilege this week of meeting a tiny baby girl, less than twenty-four hours since coming into this world. And after placing her first hand-made butterfly hat on her tiny head, made just the night before, I took her in my arms and thanked God for her safe arrival here. As I held her so her momma could hold her big brother (who was overjoyed to rediscover momma’s lap), I remembered the text this precious girl’s sweet momma sent me just hours after giving birth…that on the day of her daughter’s birth she was remembering me and my daughter’s birth, just a year ago. I tell you, this little newborn girl has one amazing, beautiful momma who has been such a faithful friend to me and my family. It was an honor to meet her third born, her daughter.

Holding this tiny little baby in my arms was a miracle in itself. Me, sitting there, with that ever present question..why? Why me? Why my daughter gone? I can’t pretend that I didn’t leave work early the day before, when I got the news of her birth because I couldn’t stop crying. I can’t pretend that my breath didn’t catch when I saw her older brother holding her, wearing a hand-me-down shirt from my youngest boy, who never got to hold his sister.

I used to think that the pain had to leave for joy to return to my heart. But now I see that the joy and the pain intermingle and the light is made brighter because it shines in dark. I think this is the way it will be until I see Jesus one day face to face. Sometimes I struggle to accept that. But the joy, when I allow it in, comes, and His peace, too.

So this is hard and it hurts but she, this new little princess, is a gift to her momma and daddy, yes, but to me too and to all who love and hope and long for life to overcome death. And me holding her this week, that was a miracle too, because I could run and hide from all things baby and girl because it reminds me of what I’ve lost. I could hide from all my friends who are pregnant or have tiny little ones. But I don’t want to loose out on all that joy, all the sweetness and hope and love and somehow, God, in His amazing love and grace, keeps taking my pain and allowing me these moments of light, these moments where I experience joy in the midst of sorrow and teaching me not to dwell in the wounding but be cradled instead in the arms of love.