Monday, November 9, 2015

A different kind of Fall...

Fall has always been my favorite. Always. I even have my kiddos trained to notice every tree that's turning colors. We ooh and ahh every Wednesday as we drive to ballet over our favorite street that is lined with the most gorgeous array of yellows, reds, oranges, and greens. The sunsets and the sunrises speak thousands of words in just one glimpse. There's no doubt of our faithful Heavenly Father's hands as He seems to speak the loudest through all of His creation during these days. I love it. 

Every year as summer wraps up, and the air outside begins to change scent, a mix of first rains, burn piles, and cold crisp dew, we get excited about the festivities of Fall. Talks of trips to the pumpkin patch and picking apples at the farm begin to bloom. Football games, hot cocoa and homemade caramel corn never sound so inviting.

This year, the beauty has been at an all time high. Or maybe my senses have just been tuned lately. The overwhelming sunrises seem to come at just the right time, taking our breath away before we've even gotten up for the day. The sun has been dropping right outside our kitchen window leaving an incredible evening sky, night after night. My memories drift to years past and all the trips to Beilke Farms that we've taken. I've picked apples there since before Madi turned one and every year we've come home with at least a bucket more than the previous year. Hours and hours are then poured into chopping, coring, and boiling apples until they've magically evolved into smooth warm sauce. Smells that bring me back to my own childhood and the excitement of helping my mom smash apples through a metal sieve.

But for the first time in over half a dozen years, we didn't take a trip to the apple farm. We didn't take a trip to the pumpkin patch. And although we went to a handful of football games, it wasn't the usual dozen.

Don't worry, we've started in on new traditions, like raking 5,000,000,000 leaves (number not exaggerated) into endless piles and bounding into them. And I suppose we'll work our way back up to our traditions of years past, but for now I'm reveling in memories. In memories that were made before these sunsets seemed to scream so loudly. In memories made when I thought I had control over this life. 

I'm thankful for my memories, and for these beautiful fall colors, and I don't find it ironic one bit that the Lord took our boy home during this most beautiful time of the year. Our last memories with him include doing some of our most favorite things, during the most gorgeous season, and that, that was planned.

So when I glance out the back window and catch a glimpse of purples, oranges, and a hundred other shades of gorgeous, I smile to think that sunrises must be even more gorgeous in heaven... and the most gorgeous when this earth has been transformed to perfection one day.

Monday, June 29, 2015

My Birthday Boy

I think it's a mom thing. Every child's birthday that comes around takes us down memory lane of the first day we ever laid eyes on our baby. I still do it with our oldest and we've celebrated six birthdays with her.  So this week wasn't any different.  I sat this afternoon and poured out to a friend every detail of Zekey's birth story... my nauseousness the night before--wondering if I was crazy or if I was REALLY going to have a baby a week before my due date; our dog running away and me hauling two small children around the neighborhood with a leash in hand, knocking on doors trying to hunt him down; my water breaking in the garage and my only concern being that my husband finish vacuuming out the car before we left for the hospital because I couldn't do it myself. I remember it all plain as day, and I'm hopeful I always will.  Because it's the little moments leading up to the big moments that encompassed what now feels like one of the shortest windows in my sweet Ezekiel James.

The only difference about this birthday is that my walk down memory lane didn't end with me squeezing my baby and whispering in his ear to stop growing so fast before I laid him down to sleep. Instead of watching him toddle around, I spotted strangers' babies and tried guessing how old they were in my head.  I've dreaded this day for a long time. A long, long time.  I read in a grief book that milestones can be so hard, but to remember that they're only 24 hours and eventually the 24 hours will be over and it'll be a new day.  Unfortunately it felt like the seven days of 24 hours leading up to these 24 hours were actually the hardest.  My arms want him to be here.  My ears long for his voice and my heart, my heart will never be the same.

So last night as Matt and I laid in bed, we scrolled through every picture of Zekey boy that we have on our phones. We watched every video with his coos and cries and we cried. We cried and we cried and we cried, just like we did every night this week that led up to this one. And then, then I had this overwhelming feeling of peace. Peace. I knew in my heart that as badly as I want my boy back, my life has changed and having him back wouldn't be the exact same life, plus him. It would be different altogether. I wouldn't have these eyes. These eyes that see things differently. These eyes that ache for eternity, for the life we were truly created for. And that peace, that peace gave me this overwhelming feeling that I could still celebrate my boy today because he is still alive. He's more alive than I am and his short little life is still worth celebrating. He's changed me and he's changed lots and lots of other people and even though it was short, his life has served, not just served, but completed its purpose just as much as if he had 89 birthdays before he died.

I love you, Zekey boy. I would say, I love you more than you will ever know, like I always tell your brother and sister, but you're whole already, completely WHOLE, so maybe you actually do know how much I love you?!?! It's a LOT.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Sweet Conversations...

I awoke last week like I do most nights, with a kink in my neck and a sweaty little boy pressed as closely to me as possible. I climbed over him and out of bed, scooped him up and and began the trek back to his bedroom, but not before glancing at the clock that glowed 3:25. As I tucked Emmitt back into bed he turned his head toward me and whispered without ever opening his eyes, "Mama, I miss Zekiel."
"I know baby, so do I." I replied.
"But we're getting a new baby," he mumbled.
"Yes, but that doesn't mean we won't miss Zekiel. He'll always be our baby."
He nodded gently with his eyes still squeezed shut, "I just wuv him so much!"
"Me too, buddy. Me too."

Emmitt rolled to his left, pulled his blanket up by his cheek and the conversation ended as sweetly as it began. It had been exactly five months since I'd held my sweet baby, since I kissed him goodbye: I laid there squeezing him even tighter than before as the tears rolled down my cheeks. His innocence is so pure, so sweet.

The thought of his pain wrecks me. Sometimes, most of the time, I wish I could just bare it all for  my children and let them go on living life, without the pain, or the sadness. Without the hole of someone always missing. I convince myself that if it was just me it would be different, just me that felt the ache. But it's not, and it won't be. I wonder what this memory will be like for them in five years, ten or even as grown adults. I pray it doesn't fill them with bitterness.

One of my favorite authors, Ann Voskamp, wrote that her very first memory... ever, was at the age of four - watching her sister get ran over by a truck. Will that be my son? MY son? Will the first thing he can ever recall of his life be of paramedics swarming our living room and cradling his baby brother away? I ache to fix it. To mend every tainted memory and replace them with roses and butterflies. To wipe tears and replace them with laughter. To let him see his brother crawl, and pull up, and for goodness sake, even walk. Emmitt has wanted to see his brother walk from the day he was born.

But I can't, I can't take it away. I can't make it disappear. Nothing has made me feel more helpless than raising children. And they aren't even raised yet! They're still just babes, tiny little souls with blank canvases ahead of them. I wish I could sacrifice everything so that I knew their souls were guaranteed eternity with our creator.

I've always been good at algorithms. I can follow steps like a mad-woman. If only there was a simple equation, even a complex one-I'd master that! Anything to guarantee their hearts knew our creator, knew His love for them!

And so I sit, with my arms tied behind my back and I cry out to my Lord, please Jesus, grab hold of their souls. Woo them to You-no matter what it takes. May they see Your creation all around them and not be able to deny Your goodness, Your faithfulness, Your undeniable love. 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

141 Days...

I've known for a long time that this weekend marked this painful milestone for me, for us.  The one where our baby has officially been gone for as many days as we held him.  I found it ironic that we'll secretly celebrate that Zekey has been in heaven for 141 days on the same day we will joyfully celebrate our savior rising up to save us. Not only will we remember tomorrow as the most significant day in history (go ahead, argue it...), but we'll celebrate it as I ponder without a shadow of a doubt what it will be like to be there.  To be perfect. To be whole. To be loved without the possibility of disappointment or pain.

There are so many ways my life has changed over the last 141 days. So many. But the most significant is the way I perceive my world. It's different. It's tainted. It's like I'm stuck in a long hallway with air that's just musty enough to notice it.  Every wall and even the ceiling is covered in glass windows. I can see the beautiful sky, and gorgeous mountains surrounding me so clearly that I can almost, almost, smell the clean crisp scent.  But getting out, it's is next to impossible.

I think about heaven everyday. Everyday. The present heaven, the future heaven, when the Lord comes down and restores this earth to perfection and we live forever and ever, without counting our days. I WILL get out and smell the clean crisp air. I can practically taste it. Practically.

I'm thankful for tomorrow. For a day to celebrate Our Savior and His ultimate plan playing out. And I'm thankful for 141 days of perfect sweet baby, even if it did turn into 141 days of unending tears because I have new eyes, new eyes! And I will smell that air someday...