Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Jude's Chest

On Black Friday, we did our little part to help boost the economy.  A little before dinner time, we ventured out to make a purchase we had been planning for a while.  Our intention had been to buy a trunk...a nice piece of furniture in which we could store Jude's things.  We found what we had been looking for...only better.  We bought a pretty chest with a padded seat that can be used as a bench.  Now, I just need to find the right fabric to reupholster the seat.

In this chest, we can store Jude's stuffed animals and blankets...as well as keep in one place all the cards we received, the newspapers, the books, and anything else we would like to access easily.  There are so many meaningful things that we want to keep out...yet safe.  And, on that bench in the corner of our bedroom, we can spend time reading, praying, thinking, or even just remembering.  We have so many sweet memories, and I am glad for a physical place to keep them all together.  

A Sacrifice of Praise

In the weeks following October 21st, we were told often by friends that the hardest times were yet to come.  They were right.  Absolutely everything...often unexpected...brings Jude to mind, if I somehow wasn't thinking of him already.  The scale (because his weight was such an issue)...picking up a book I read in the hospital...working on our finances...finding his insurance card in my wallet while paying for something...Baby's First Christmas ornaments, clothes, etc. in stores...his room that we haven't touched...the pregnancy and baby name books still beside my bed...Caleb's toes...the stocking that will never be made...etc.

So often, I am brought to the point of tears, and I still have much to learn about what it means to praise God through suffering.  Again and again throughout the day, He is gently helping me to learn... to see that to offer up praise to Him when my heart is broken and I can't see past the current circumstances is to offer up a sacrifice.  A sacrifice of praise.  And, when I do praise Him, I am blessed by that sacrifice.  It fixes my eyes not on my circumstances but on His character.  It changes my perspective.

At some point during our hospital stay, I read the following...and it encouraged me.

Whether it's a financial crunch, a sudden illness, or a personal defeat, if you fix your heart on praise to God, then you have offered a sacrifice.  If you've ever cried during those heartbreaking difficulties, "Lord, I will hope in You and praise You more and more," then you know you have offered words that have cost you plenty.  Praise in those circumstances is painful... 

I've been told that the Hebrew word for "awaiting" means "quiet trust."  Those words don't sparkle like effervescence.  It's like saying I have prayed about this burden, and now, Lord, I will quietly wait on You even before I see the answer.  I expect it.  And this is my sacrifice of praise to You - I believe and trust."  

Please remember this:  Most of the verses written about praise in God's word were voiced by people faced by crushing heartache, injustice, treachery, slander, and scores of other difficult situations.  They knew that the sacrifice of praise was a key to victory on their spiritual journey.

Joni Eareckson Tada - Seeking God

Thank you so much for praying for us.

Isn't this beautiful?  I am now a huge fan of the illustrator, Amanda. As an atheist, she started a blog called Amanda Goes to Church: An Athiest's Assorted Explorations of Christianity.  After making a decision to follow Christ, she started a new blog:  Amanda Stays at Church: A Former Atheist's Assorted Explorations of Christianity.  She came to faith at Tim Keller's church in NYC.  Her illustrated testimony can be found on Redeemer's website.  It is all good stuff.  Check it out. 

I agree wholeheartedly about how awesome Holly is.  I forgot to link to her blog in last night's post.  She blogs a lot about gospel-centered motherhood.  Find her here

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Little Child Shall Lead Them

My dear, sweet friend, Holly, wrote this and posted it on her blog tonight.
I love you, Holly.  Thank you. 

Dear Jude,

You don't know this, but you changed me forever.  Your sweet little life had many lessons to teach, and I am your pupil.  Some of them I knew already in theory, and you helped me to grasp their truths more firmly.  But God also used you to open my eyes to things I never realized before.  I'm so grateful to have been part of your life... so honored to have known you.

Your mommy is one of my closest friends.  Four days after you left the world, our baby Aidalie came into it... and although we rejoiced and celebrated her, we were mourning our loss of you.  We still are. We will miss you until we see you again.  But we know that while we have lost you, you have gained everything, and that quiets our distress.  There is so much hope in knowing that right now you are unshackled from the chains of your broken body, and you are more alive and more complete now than you ever were before.  You are, in this moment, fully and truly Jude.

Being myself a mommy, I know all too well that we are led into some of the most profound realizations by our children.  Although you never uttered a single sound, here are some of the things your life spoke to me.

1. The gospel is true.   As I watched your mommy and daddy go through what they did, I often found myself surprised at the quality of their well-being.  But when I reflected on this I realized that it should be no surprise at all, because the object of their faith (Jesus) is real.  Their faith in Him is seeing them through even the toughest days without you.  How wonderful to witness at work the living hope they have in Jesus.  It is this same Jesus we hope in to give us freedom from sin and righteousness before God.  It's the gospel... and it works.

2. God loves me.  I saw this in your mommy's eyes every time she would look at you.  Her face was flooded with affection.  She looked at you and was so proud that you were her little child.  The world may not have esteemed you or counted you as important, but you were because of this love.  I, too, am no one special.  I am also very broken.  Your heart was frail, but my heart is broken in a different way, a way that is my own doing and my own fault.  But my Father loves me anyway.  He looks at me with delight.  It's His love that makes me valuable when otherwise I wouldn't be.

3. We are all "terminal."   Our life is a vapor that comes and quickly vanishes.  The vapor of some may linger slightly longer than others, but when viewed in light of eternity, our lives are so very short.  We don't like to think or talk about death much in our culture.  But we would do well to remember this little detail of our destiny, and allow it to shape the way we live now.

4. My children belong to Him, and to Him they will return.  Jude, your mommy and daddy loved you fiercely... but you weren't theirs.  In the same way that they had to (and continue to) surrender you up to your true Father, so does every parent.  So do I.  My children were never meant to belong to me.  I know I can't keep them.  They were meant to be offered up as a sacrifice of highest price to the Lord.  So, I should not make them the center of my identity or the source of my greatest joy.  Someday, they will leave me in one way or another.  But Jesus promises never to.

5. I should view the challenges of parenting through the lens of eternity.  Sometimes, Aidalie wakes me up several times per night.  My middle child screams and cries for a total of 5 combined hours per day... or more.  My oldest child leaves behind him a trail of destruction everywhere he goes.  It is tempting to feel resentful toward my children moments like these.  But, Jude, you have shown what a gift they are.  You have reminded me not to take even the struggles of raising my children for granted.  Thank you for helping me love and appreciate my babies more, even in the tougher moments.

Jude, you were just a baby... but you helped draw the hearts of many to the One who came as a baby 2,000 years ago- Jesus.

You were born with the burden of a fallen humanity on your shoulders.  Jesus was born because of this fallen humanity- and He willingly took the burden upon Himself.

It is said that the greatest emotional pain we can possibly know is to lose a child.  Your mommy and daddy felt this immense sadness at your passing.  But God the Father gave His only Son freely; it was actually His plan to do so!  And, His sorrow was infinitely greater. (How deep is His love for us!)

Many peoples' lives have been changed because of you, precious baby boy.  God is wise to have used the life and death of a beloved child to reveal some profound truths.  But there is One greater who changes us so much more.

Isaiah 11:6-10 says:

"The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
and a little child shall lead them.

The cow and the bear shall graze;
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra,
and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.

They shall not hurt or destroy
in all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.

In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—
of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious."

The "little child" who truly changes our lives is Jesus.  And one day, He will lead all those who belong to Him into world where babies no longer die.  Humanity will be restored to the way it was always supposed to be.  Even nature will be healed- calf and lion, cow and bear will lie down together.  Your heart will not be broken there, Jude, and neither will mine.  It will be glorious indeed.

Until then... our family misses you every day.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Because of Christmas...

Today, we decorated our Christmas tree... 
marking the start of my favorite time of the year.
Yet this one has new meaning.
I have never before been so thankful that God became a baby.

Tonight, I witnessed the beautiful baptism of a sweet new friend.
Mayra made a decision to follow Christ this semester...on her birthday.
Because of Christmas,
Mayra can have new life.
And, because of Christmas,
that sweet little baby I am missing so much
is very much alive.

Thank You, Jesus.
Thank You so very much. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Something Beyond Ourselves

"Loss forces us to see the dominant role our environment plays in determining our happiness.  Loss strips us of the props we rely on for our well-being.  It knocks us off our feet and puts us on our backs.  In the experience of loss, we come to the end of ourselves

But in coming to the end of ourselves, we can also come to the beginning of a vital relationship with God.  Our failures can lead us to grace and to profound spiritual awakening.  This process occurs frequently with those who suffer loss.  It often begins when we face our own weaknesses and realize how much we take favorable circumstances for granted.  When loss deprives us of those circumstances, our anger, depression, and ingratitude expose the true state of our souls, showing us how small we really are.  We see that our identity is largely external, not internal. 

Finally, we reach the point where we begin to search for a new life, one that depends less on circumstances and more on the depth of our souls.  That, in turn, opens us up to new ideas and perspectives, including spiritual ones. We feel the need for something beyond ourselves, and it begins to dawn on us that reality may be more than we once thought it to be.  We begin to perceive hints of the divine, and our longing grows.  To our shock and bewilderment, we discover that there is a Being in the universe, who despite our brokenness and sin, loves us fiercely.  In coming to the end of ourselves, we have come to the beginning of our true and deepest selves.  We have found the One whose love gives shape to our being."

Jerry Sittser
A Grace Disguised

Give Thanks

             (In our home: Thanksgiving week = OCC)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Grace Disguised

"The quickest way for anyone to reach the sun and the light of day is not to run west, chasing after the setting sun, but to head east, plunging into the darkness until one comes to the sunrise.  

...I had the power to choose the direction my life would head, even if the only choice open to me, at least initially, was either to run from the loss or to face it as best I could.  Since I knew that darkness was inevitable and unavoidable, I decided from that point on to walk into the darkness rather than try to outrun it, to let my experience of loss take me on a journey wherever it would lead, and to allow myself to be transformed by my suffering rather than to think I could somehow avoid it.  I chose to turn toward the pain, however falteringly, and to yield to the loss, though I had no idea what that would mean (p. 42)" 

Jerry Sittser      A Grace Disguised:  How the Soul Grows Through Loss

I started reading this book tonight.  After having read only a fourth of it, I already know that it is a book that will be shared often.  In it, he writes of his grieving process:  "The decision to face the darkness, even if it led to overwhelming pain, showed me that the experience of loss itself does not have to be the defining moment of our lives.  Instead, the defining moment can be our response to the loss.  It is not what happens to us that matters as much as what happens in us.  Darkness, it is true, had invaded my soul.  But then again, so did light (p. 45)."

As of now, we are planning on driving to Albuquerque later this week.  There are people we need to see, and we feel the need to go.  It is where our baby lived, and because of that there are so many sweet memories mixed in with the sad.  Visiting that city and taking Caleb along with us will be part of our healing process...part of our "plunging into the darkness..." that we might someday reach the sunrise.

Thank you for praying for us.

This new story on my beautiful cousin, Andrea, aired last night in Indiana.  Andrea's smile and story reflect the beauty and goodness of the Lord, and I highly encourage you to watch it.  Please pray for her, Mike (her husband), Lydia (her daughter), and Steve and Sandi (her parents) as she transitions to a longer term rehab hospital in Michigan.

Thank you. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Operation Christmas Child

National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child ended on Monday.  It is such a blessing to fill a shoebox with toys, candy, toothbrushes and even clothes.  Each individual box goes to a specific child, and it is exciting to think that each of those children will experience the love of God in a very practical way.  In addition, each box contains the gospel in a format specifically suited to children...with the opportunity for discipleship available if needed.

Caleb and I volunteered a few times throughout the week.  Our church is the local collection center, and over 7,000 boxes went up to the nearest processing center from our area.  What an incredible blessing to be a part of this!

If you are interested in filling a shoebox but didn't have time to get one out, you can still build a box online!  You can choose the items you would like to be sent out in a box, as well as upload a photo and a note from you or your family.  To learn more, visit Samaritan's Purse.  To see the article in today's paper, visit The LC Sun-News.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Grief and Hope...one month later

Tonight marks one month since our beautiful baby went home...and the days since we have been back have been rather difficult.  Thank you for praying for us.

While trying to go about a "normal" life, I have felt anything but.  My heart continues to ache for my little boy.  At times I have felt like doing nothing but crying...or sleeping.  And, I have indulged often.  Other times, I have felt immobilized, unable to do something simple such as helping my son get to bed or clear the table.  I have even forgotten to make Caleb breakfast...and then lunch.  Thankfully, he lets me know when he gets hungry.

And somehow, I think it's okay.  I think it's okay that Candy Land and bean bags are spread throughout our living room.  And, I think it's okay that beds don't get made and dishes don't get washed.*  And, I still think it's okay that I might go days without even looking at my phone.  That will hopefully change soon.  Thanks, friends, for continuing to be gracious towards me.

This is all temporary.  I know that.  Someday we will get into some kind of rhythm again.  It might even be soon.  I don't know.  What I do know, however, is that we really don't ever want to be normal again. 

To be normal was to think too much of this world.  To be normal was to desire too much the things of this world...things that would never satisfy.  And, to be normal was to act at times as if this were all there were...forgetting what and who awaits. 

I don't want to be normal.  

And, thankfully, our grieving isn't normal either.  We don't grieve as those who have no hope (1 Thess 4:18).  Somehow, there is joy all mixed up with our sadness.  And, there is such hope.  Great hope.  Beautiful hope.  And, we continue to pray that the life of our little boy will lead others to the One in whom that hope is found.  If you don't know Him, check out this great resource as well as this one.   Please. 

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep,
that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.
For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again,
even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive,
who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command,
with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God.
And the dead in Christ will rise first.
Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them
in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air,
and so we will always be with the Lord. 
Therefore encourage one another with these words.

(1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 ESV)

 *Thought I'd add that my wonderful husband has regularly been doing the dishes...and cooking.  :-)  So thankful for him.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Sun-News Story

Diana Alba of the Las Cruces Sun-News wrote a story about our precious little guy.  It appeared on the front page of today's paper.  You can find the article here.

Thank you, Diana.

Today was a difficult day.  I hope to share more about how we are doing and what I am processing sometime soon.  In the meantime, we continue to need prayer.  And, we remain grateful to the Lord for your prayers.

Teach me your way, LORD,
 that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.
I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;
 I will glorify your name forever.
For great is your love toward me;

Psalm 86:11-13

The End of Down Syndrome?

My friend, Holly, shared both of these articles on Down Syndrome.  The first one discusses a new test that will probably increase the number of children with Down Syndrome who are aborted.  Already, 90% of children with DS aren't allowed to live.  With this new test, that number will increase still more.  It's horrifying. 

The second article is a blog post by the man in this video I posted about a while back, John Knight.  His post considers the possibility of this test actually having the opposite effect and leading people to see all life as a beautiful gift...and even "breaking the back of the abortion industry."  It seems impossible, but nothing is impossible with God.  Please pray.  

Article 1:  The End of Down Syndrome
Article 2:  Crazy Thought...but what if?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Jude's Service

Tonight marks four weeks since our sweet little man left our arms to be with the One who made him.

Three weeks ago, we had a service in Las Cruces to celebrate his short life, and our incredibly talented friend, Nick, recorded it.  We are so thankful to have this video to keep...along with all of the other sweet memories of our baby boy's life.  Thanks so much, Nick, for sharing your skills with us. :-) And, thanks so much to all of you who came as well as to those of you who were praying for us throughout.

Brandon put together the minutes for the video for those who might be interested in watching some but don't have an hour to spare. 

0:00:25    Welcome - Mark Olson
0:02:40    Caleb and his cousins sing Mighty to Save
0:05:20    Pastor John and Mary Lou Powell speak
0:24:55    Singing Christ the Solid Rock and Jesus Paid it All
0:31:50    Jude's video
0:37:10    Brandon speaks
0:52:40    Family members and friends share about Jude's impact
1:01:30    Mandy shares
1:04:05    A few more people share
1:07:05    Jude's Song

First Day

Caleb had his first day of school today.

A few months late
is better than never.  :-)

He jumped back in
as if he had never left.
He loves his friends there,
and I love the teachers and the moms.

So, it works out well for both of us.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


This is Brandon tonight.

When we returned to Las Cruces, Mandy noticed a raw area under our cat Millie's chin.  Mandy took her to the vet yesterday with Caleb.  It's feline acne and she may have gotten it from her plastic food and water bowls.

The process of giving Millie oral antibiotics has been dreadful.  She hates it!  We hold her down, pry her mouth open, attempt to get the pill into her mouth, then squeeze it shut.  We fail over and over again while Millie gets more and more agitated.  She's making lots of crazy noises we've never heard before too.

It's made me think of the pain and suffering we are enduring and we all endure.  Right now, Millie doesn't understand at all why we are doing this.  We know, but she cannot understand.  She probably never will make the connection.

What's been interesting about the process is that Millie is much more submissive while we've held her than I thought she would be.  She hasn't tried to bite or scratch us.  She does indeed hate it, but we can tell that she trusts us.  Mandy speaks words of love to Millie over and over.  It's amazing to see Millie become calm as Mandy talks to her.

Now, what about us?

We can submit to our God who at times sends us pain, or we can fight.  We can lash out at Him with bitterness or we can cry out to Him for help and grace.  Obviously we all dislike the painful things we go through, but we can, at the same time, trust Him as good and in control.

Most of all we must seek to hear His voice that says over and over, "I'm here.  I love you.  I do care.  Keep trusting Me."

Jesus, I pray that You would help me/us submit to You right in the middle of our pain and sorrow.  Help us slow down enough to hear You say, "I do love you.  Look at the cross and never forget how far I've gone to show you My love."

"...though now for a little while
you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.
These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—
of greater worth than gold,
which perishes even though refined by fire—
may result in praise, glory and honor
when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Though you have not seen him, you love him;
and even though you do not see him now,
you believe in him and
are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy..." 

1 Peter 1:6b-8

 Here's a little something from Mandy...

Operation Christmas Child National Collection Week is this week!
Consider packing a shoebox to show the love of Jesus to a child somewhere in the world.
To learn more and to find a collection center near you, go here.
If you're in our area, you can drop off at our church, FEFC.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Three Months

Three months ago today, our wonderful baby boy was born.
And, tonight I am missing him.

Over the course of these months, the Lord has shown Himself faithful.
And, tonight I am thankful.

  • that his life didn't end on October 21st...but really only just began.
  • for Jesus...God made flesh who dwelt among us...that we "might not perish but have eternal life."
  • for the molds and prints we have of our baby's hands and feet.
  • for all the photos and videos we have.
  • for the record of Jude's life on this blog.
  • for how my baby has changed my world.
  • for friends who will forgive me for not calling or responding yet.
  • for a husband who watched Caleb so I could get out and spend some time at Starbucks with my Bible and my journal.
  • for a car repair that wasn't too significant. 
  • for a really good vet who is helping us with our cat's new health issues.
  • that Caleb uses the new word "swack" in his daily vocabulary.
  • that the ophthalmologist today gave us a good report for Caleb.  No more patching and no surgery!  :-)
  • for a husband who plays board games and wrestles with his son.  
  • for the uncontrollable giggles that can be heard during the aforementioned wrestling/tickling matches.
  • for a chance to watch a few minutes of college basketball tonight. 
  • for joy in the midst of sorrow. 
  • for the beauty that can be found in the midst of such pain. 
And tonight I am thankful for a loving God who knows...who sees...and whose power is infinite.

What we don't know, He does.
What we don't see, He sees.
What we can't do, He can.

Our lives are safe in His hands.

Thank You, Lord.

בָּעֶרֶב יָלִין בֶּכִי וְלַבֹּקֶר רִנָּה

Weeping may remain for a night,  but rejoicing comes in the morning.  Psalm 30:5

Monday, November 14, 2011

An "Extra" Birthday

Today, Caleb got to celebrate his "extra birthday."  Before we went up to Albuquerque for Jude's birth, I had planned a Lego party for Caleb's birthday in September.  Things didn't really go as we expected, so our little guy instead got to have an unforgettable birthday far away with all of his cousins. 

We still wanted to celebrate his birthday in person.  So, the three of us celebrated what he called his "extra birthday."  We surprised him with the balloons covering his floor when he woke up (idea found on pinterest).  He wasn't expecting them, and he woke us up a little after six...thrilled as he realized what they meant.  It was lots of fun, and I hope to make this a new tradition for birthdays...to go along with our old one of breakfast-in-bed and a new one that Caleb enjoyed at his cousins' house: blowing out a candle with each meal.
Caleb LOVES Legos.  He literally can spend hours playing and building...tearing down and building again.  Tonight, he accomplished something pretty cool.  For the first time, he followed the directions on his new set and finished it all by himself.  He was so proud of himself.  After he completed it, he looked at me with a beaming smile on his face and asked, "Mommy, am I like a scientist?"

Yep, he's pretty likeable.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

...grace to help us in our time of need

The night we got home from Albuquerque, we didn't have to cook dinner.  Soup was waiting for us.  All we had to do was heat it up.  Yet, after we had eaten, I just stared at my bowl.  I stared at it for what felt like a very long time.  I couldn't find in myself the strength to get up and take it to the sink. 

Today, I started doing a few normal, everyday things.  I wrote a check.  I went to the grocery store.  I went to church.  I changed cat litter.  I swept the floor.  I worked on finances.  I even thought about making dinner.  That was the extent of it, however...a thought.

As we needed the Lord in the hospital, we continue to need Him now.  As He met us in the hospital, He continues to meet us now.  I don't know that I have ever before felt the need to ask Him for help to do the simple things such as washing a dish or putting away laundry.  But, I do now.  I cannot find the strength in myself to do the things I need to do.  I feel that more strongly than I ever have before.  I feel like I am right now living out of a desperate dependence.  Thankfully, He is dependable.  

Tomorrow, a new normal begins.  Brandon returns to work on campus, and I will probably turn back on my cell phone.  Tuesday, however, might be a better taste of what life will be like...as tomorrow our little family is going to celebrate Caleb's birthday (exactly two months later).  He doesn't know it yet.  When he wakes up and sees the 90 or so balloons waiting on the floor of his bedroom, he will.

Thank you for praying for us.  We continue to be carried along by your prayers.

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence,
so that we may receive mercy and find grace
to help us in our time of need.

Hebrews 4:16

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Ronald McDonald House

We are big fans of the place that was our home for a little over two months.  It freed us up to be near Jude throughout his journey, and we will forever be thankful to the RMHC and the people who support it.

Before we left, I made a quick video of the Ronald McDonald House.  So, here's my tour.  Please pay no attention to the random things I say or the lack of camera skills.  :-)

Friday, November 11, 2011


We received this beautiful figurine from some friends tonight.
It made me cry.

So did our house when I saw that it had been cleaned again by other amazing friends,
and it definitely needed it.

Not only that, but we also had a stocked freezer full of food
and a table full of sweet cards from lots of people we love.

We received notes as well from the Ronald McDonald House
saying that friends had donated on behalf of Jude,
and another group of 12 friends are together
sponsoring a child through Compassion...
one for each month of the year.
Still another has already chosen a child to sponsor
with the same birthday as our baby boy.  

If my friend, whose decision to adopt was in part influenced by our son,
is blessed with a boy, she told me that she will give him the middle name Jude.

And just now, I saw that another friend had shared this photo with me.

We have been unbelievably blessed by the people in our lives.
There are not words to accurately describe how it feels to be loved like this.
Thank you all for letting the Lord love us through you.


Today, my hometown newspaper published a beautiful article about our sweet little baby.
You can find the article here.

Thank you, Michelle Kinsey, for wanting to share his story.
It's a sweet one.

p.s.  While I would have loved to have met him at Purdue, Brandon and I met while living in Mexico.  :-)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Tonight, as I sit here in the dark of our hotel room,
I listen to the sweet breathing of my husband and my son...
and the abrasive police sirens on the streets of New Orleans.
And while I sit here, I miss the beauty of the mountains
and those soft cheeks I loved to kiss so very much.

I am not at all eager to get home...
to housework...to responsibility...to cooking...and to reality.
But, it will be good to be with people we love...
and give some stability to our lonely cat.

Thank you so much for praying for us.

Would you please pray for my incredible cousin, Andrea, and her family?
As I have written before, she suffered a traumatic brain injury in the Sugarland stage collapse, 
and her life has been an unbelievable testimony to the power of God ever since.
He is so beautiful in her.  

You can read more about her journey here and here.

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.

Psalm 46:1 

p.s. Please forgive the randomness of this post.  I am tired.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Having enjoyed a few days in the Smoky Mountains,
we continue our journey home tomorrow.
It is a very long drive, and we are taking our time...
simply being together.

I am currently reading O Love That Will Not Let Me Go by Nancy Guthrie.
It is a collection of thoughts about death by contemporary and classic theologians,
and it is where I read the quote I posted yesterday.

In it, JI Packer points out that up until the twentieth century,
death served as one's constant companion.
People had to walk near cemeteries to get to church,
and most children died before the age of ten.
 Death, the one certainty of everyone's life, was not the "unmentionable" it is today,
and believers saw this life as preparation for the next.

 Today as we were driving in the mountains,
we stopped in a church graveyard that dates back to the nineteenth century.
As we walked amongst the tombstones, we saw a surprising amount marking the graves of babies.
I took several photos of them, but this one in particular caught my eye.
Offa Sparks lived two months, 
and her stone says, "Gone But Not Forgotten."

Tonight, I am thankful.
I am thankful to live in a time and place where
Jude was able to receive the medical care he received
that allowed us to be able to get to know our sweet little boy.
I am thankful to be the daughter of the One who is sovereign over my baby's life
just as He is sovereign over the lives of my husband and 5-year-old son.
I am thankful for this peaceful time with my little family.
And, I am thankful for all this beauty that is only a dim reflection
of the beauty that is yet to come.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Homeward Bound

This morning, we headed south.
We are slowly making our way home.

Today, we heard many times the beautiful sound of this.
Tomorrow, we are going to spend the first of two days in this.
And right now, I am about to look at the back of my eyelids in this.
All the while, we are thoroughly missing this.

Number Our Days

Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12

The number 67 will never again be just another number to us.
It is the number of days that the Lord gave us to spend with our beloved baby.
 And, He alone knew what that number would be.
We don't know how many days we have left here on this earth.
Nor do we know how many days remain with the ones we love.

But, He does.
This morning, just before we lowered the casket into the ground, 
we asked everyone to consider making a commitment...
a decision to not let things go until tomorrow...
a choice to let God use our little baby's life to make a specific change in their own.
That change might be to follow Christ, to forgive someone, to seek to be reconciled, etc.

And to mark that commitment, we asked them to take a rose petal
and use it to mark permanently the casket of our precious boy.
That casket was beautiful when it was placed in the ground.

We are not promised forever.
Lord, teach us to number our days aright, that we might gain a heart of wisdom.

Tonight, I am sitting in my parents' living room watching family videos from the 1940's.
In these videos, I get to see scenes of my grandparents as young newlyweds
surrounded by my great grandparents and my great great grandparents.
In one of the scenes, my great grandpa is seen happily boarding an airplane for Russia.
On that same trip, he passed away from a heart attack.
 He didn't know how long he had.

And neither do we.

Today, my beloved baby marked (at least) the sixth generation of my family
to be buried in that small town cemetery.
And, Brandon and I might someday follow.
In the meantime, I want to embrace fully this life the Lord has for me.
In order to do that, I must embrace the inevitable and explore death in light of the Scriptures.
As J.I. Packer says, "Only when you know how to die can you know how to live."
Jesus, thank you for using my baby to begin to show me how to live.
"Show me, O Lord, my life's end
and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting is my life.
You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Each man's life is but a breath."

Psalm 39:4-5

Friday, November 4, 2011

One Bright Hour

Tonight, we were surrounded by many people we love a lot.  We were the recipients of lots of hugs, cards, flowers, and love.  Many traveled a long way, surprising us with their sweet presence.  Thank you all so much for coming.  We are so grateful for our friends and family.

Tomorrow, we have to do something we never imagined we would have to do.  Please pray for us.  I'm not sure how we will get through it, but I know that the One who holds our precious baby will hold us too. 

My friend Jen is sitting with me tonight and shared this song with me.  So, I thought I would share it with you.  I am so thankful for the beautiful hope we have in Jesus. 


Thursday, November 3, 2011


Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken.
If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one,
not even an animal.
Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries;
avoid all entanglements.
Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.
But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change.
It will not be broken;
it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.
To love is to be vulnerable.  

-CS Lewis

This past week...

Over the course of this week, we have had quite a bit going on. We welcomed one child home. We mourned and celebrated the other.  We welcomed family into our home. And, we traveled over 1500 miles. Here is what it looked like in pictures:

We began Saturday with the Buddy Walk.  We are so thankful for the timing of the event, as well as to all of our friends and family who came out. It turns out that the walk was part of the NMSU Homecoming Parade. I wasn't expecting that, but it ended up being a lot of fun. We are hoping to make it an annual tradition.
As we walk through this process of (temporarily) saying goodbye to our beautiful baby, there have still been many things we have wanted to do for him...tangible ways to show him our love.  For Brandon, it was speaking at the service on Saturday.  I was so proud of him and am grateful we recorded what he shared.  For me, it was making a video from the photos of his life set to a song that has meant so very much to us, Let it Bring You Praise by Matt Hammitt.

After singing Mighty to Save with his cousins, Caleb fell asleep and slept through most of the service.  It was a kind blessing to be able to just hold him and not worry about him.  Many wonderful friends shared sweet things about our baby, and together we sang The Solid Rock and Jesus Paid it All...both of which meant a lot to us during our time in the hospital.  Our friends, Matt and Jenae, sang an incredible song that they wrote about Jude months ago, and it was even more beautiful hearing the words in light of our sweet baby's current reality.  We hope to share the video of the service some day.  It was sweet, and we felt so loved by our friends and family.  Thank you all.
On Sunday, some of us had to go to El Paso.  So, we all took the kids to Taco Tote and the El Paso Zoo.  We had a great time together.  On Monday, we took the kids to the fall festival at our church.  We love the wonderful people there, and it was great to spend time with them after being away for months.

Yesterday and today were spent traveling.  On our way through Missouri, we stopped and checked out the Gateway Arch.  We were all fascinated by the ride to the top, the views, and the museum at the base.  Today was the first day we have been alone as a family, and though the drive was exhausting, it was really good to be together.  I am a huge fan of the men in my life. 

Please continue to pray for us as we walk this path.  We thank God for all of you.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Faithful One

I (Brandon) wanted to get a quick update in before bed tonight.  We (Mandy, Caleb and I) left this morning at 6:30am with my sister and her four kids.  We're heading to Indiana and they're going to Illinois.  It's been a long day of driving and we are all exhausted.  I think everyone's asleep but me :)

I realized an hour into our trip this morning that the main reason Mandy and I started our day with an argument wasn't mainly because we didn't get out of Las Cruces at the predetermined time.  I was being argumentative as we were leaving this morning because this trek across the Midwest is drastically different than any other trip in the past.  I wasn't prepared for the weightiness of the day, let alone this week.  I still don't think I am.

It's difficult to think, and now write, that we've begun the trip through seven states to bury our little man's body.  We're not ready for that.  Hopefully we will be ready by the time Saturday arrives.

Our God has been faithful to prepare us for every step in this journey and then He walks us through each day, each hour.  I am confident He will not fail us in this either.   His kindness continues to brighten our days.  His joy keeps rubbing into our sorrows.

Thank you, Jesus.  We need you so much!

Open House

Our bags are packed again.  Tomorrow, we start the two-day drive out east.

There are so many people we would love to see while we are in the midwest, but we don't have much time.  So, we're doing a casual open house on Friday night.  Please come if you can make it.  We are so thankful to those of you who have been following Jude's story and praying for us, and we would love to say thanks in person.  Here are the details:
Open House
Friday, November 4th   5-7pm
The Cross Law Firm (my dad's office)
315 E Charles St.
Muncie, IN 47305
Thank you so much for praying for us this past weekend.  I hope to update sometime in the future.  Just as our Father has carried us throughout our time in the hospital with Jude, He continues to carry us.  Tonight, my heart aches for my baby boy...and it is filled with joy at the same time.  I can't explain it.  Little things bring to mind strong memories, and I have to depend on the Lord like never before.  Still, the truth of 2 Corinthians 12:9 continues to ring in my head:  "My grace is sufficient for you.  My power is made perfect in weakness."  Thank You, Lord, that "when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:10)."