Category Archives: Posts Throughout the Year

A Piece of My Heart Smiles

Seven years ago I held you for the last time.  Your body perfect, your eyes closed, your heart no longer beating.  I will be forever grateful for the nurse who called to seek permission to remove your breathing tube and the staff that wrapped you snuggly in a warm blanket.  It left me with the memory that you were simply napping rather than the limp body that I held.

May 12, 2009 is a day burned into memory.  One with many tears and lots of questions.  It was a day we got the call, not to receive an organ but to give one.  We later learned that your heart valves went to two children.  More tears.  That day it took courage to get up and go on.

Today it takes courage to say, I don’t always cry when I think of you.  I didn’t cry today on the anniversary of your passing. My grief isn’t always expressed with tears anymore.

Grief is so different seven years later.  I used to feel ashamed that I don’t cry as often as I once did.  Ashamed that while I do think of you, it isn’t every single day.  Does it mean I love you less?  Am I forgetting you?  Never.

Instead of crying, I smile when I see pictures of your smiling face.  I smile when I get to talk to others about you. I don’t dread people asking me about the number of kids I have.  I don’t worry about upsetting someone by sharing you are gone.  I know that others will simply share their sympathy and sometimes, when I am lucky, they will ask more about you.  Not about your passing but about you.  Things like which sibling looks more like you or if we got to see your smile.  Today people even ask to see you in pictures.  They want to know know more about this little life that made such an impact on our lives.

I find my heart filled when I meet children who were born in January 2009.  I find myself watching them with a smile knowing you probably would be doing those same things.  Rather than remind me of what I am missing, I find they give me a glimpse into the eyes of a seven-year-old.  Their play, their hugs, they make me smile.

I will forever watch your tree grow in our yard.  Watch as the pretty pink flowers bloom each May reminding me of you. I will always feel a little pang of sadness as the flowers change to white and blow away in the wind.  A simple reminder of the shortness of your life in our arms.

It takes courage to admit that today, I am okay, happy even. I am so fortunate to have held you. I am thankful that your life has helped others. You were loved and you are still very loved.

We miss you baby girl!



Brave Enough to Say Goodbye


One of the toughest things about newness is the desire to look back.  How many times has God given you a new path, a do-over, an answer to a prayer and, instead of looking forward whole heartedly, you look back?  Why do we look back?  Often it is because we can’t help but compare.  We want to see positive improvements, right?

What happens when looking back interferes with moving forward in our newness?  Ask any pastor and they will tell you that one reason they leave a church, when their time as pastor is done, is so that in the newness of the new pastor there aren’t comparisons made and discontent created.  You can’t experience growth in newness if you continuously look back.

Chris and I have experienced this first hand in our own lives.  Moving to Iowa last year came with some pretty big changes for us.  We left behind our support system, our family, our church, and lots of material things.  God asked us to take on a new path with a smaller paycheck, higher rent, smaller house, no church, and no support system.

Our society would call that a recipe for disaster.  We weren’t immune to the naysayers who didn’t hold back on reminding us that, “people don’t willingly take a pay cut when they switch jobs.”.  For us, our “new” meant stepping out of the cultural norm and out of our comfort zones.

Like all new things were weren’t immune to the urge to compare. We got caught up in the looking back, especially once the newness factor wore off and the reality of everything came into play.  I distinctly remember the first couple of months when we weren’t staying under our budget and rushing to find people to watch the kids during Lincoln’s appointments and surgery.  It was tough and we caught ourselves looking back and thinking “man, we miss our support system.”

Isaiah 48:18 says, “..Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.” If we had left ourselves in our comparative frame of mind we would have never seen what was being worked out before us. Our new support system was being built and a new church with hearts wide open.  We would have missed the perfect set-up in our new home and the way it has helped us re-evaluate needs.  We would have missed the opportunities and activities for our kids We would have missed so much growth.  More importantly we would have missed those times when God was building our paths in the wilderness and our river in the desert.

Our growth comes because we set out to whole heartedly embrace our new future.  We intentionally refuse to look back and compare our old and new lives.  It leaves our hearts more open to the path God is laying out before us, the changes He may have coming, and the growth He has in store for us.

**Once in a while I have the honor of writing for Heartland Community Church in North Liberty, IA.  This weeks writing was tied to our current sermon series, “Newness in Christ ~ A study of Ephesians”. This is a copy of that was placed on the church blog.**

Leave it to the Imagination

Watching little kids role play can be an amazing thing.  I have found there is a distinct difference in the way boys and girls play.  Even without trying to create gender lines my little ones have taken to playing kitchen with stuffed animals, superheroes, transformers, and dolls.

This past month has been interesting, and hard, to watch.  A few weeks ago my 2 year old came running down the stairs with her baby in her arms.  She was yelling, “My baby isn’t breathing!  Help her! Help her!”.  She dropped her baby in my lap and looked at me expectantly.  I hugged her baby and told her she was just napping.  My little lady took her baby upstairs only to come running again just a few minutes later.  This time she told me, “She died mommy, she died.  Save her! Save her!”.  Then she “kissed” her baby (more like mouth to mouth) and left her baby on my lap because she died.

It has been extremely difficult for me.  I have not a clue where this comes from.  She knows her older sister passed away but we have never really talked about the “event”.  It shocked me that her role play could affect me in such a way that it would cause me to have flashbacks.  As she continued to play this game, I did my best to try to distract her with tea parties and walks and hugs and kisses.  The distractions seemed to work.  She seemed to quit role playing her baby dying.

Reprieve is sometimes a funny thing.  This past week she found her daddy’s new shoe box.  An innocent looking shoe box that started as a bed for her baby.  Soon it became something different….a coffin.  She brought her baby to me to dress her in her favorite dress.  No big deal. Then she found her baby’s favorite blanket.  Again, no big deal.  Then she wrapped her baby up, gave her baby a kiss, told her bye-bye and I will miss you, and then put the lid on the box.  Finally she put it under the pile of blankets and stood there and gave a little pouty lip.  She went in search of flowers for baby doll but came back with her baby bottle to leave by the blanket pile.  I have seen this and other similar situations happen five times this week.

My older boys smashed that box today.  They couldn’t watch it anymore.  It is just so odd.  We all seem to lack the ability to even explain how she knows this.  She has never even been to a funeral.  We have never talked to her about the day Clara died.  I can only surmise that she has seen enough through movies and tv to put a scenario together.  Maybe she has overheard things from siblings or my husband and I.  I will never know how she knows but I will remember it as the role play that can send those who have lived it into flashbacks, sadness, and a little anger.  (Yeah anger at the box, I think.  My 11 year old stomped it to bits!)

Oddly enough my little lady asked about her sister Clara today.  She and my 4 year old son wanted to know why Clara had to be buried and if she is in Heaven. It is funny how their little minds and bodies play through real life situation.  I can’t say it has been easy to watch but it reminds me that they are grieving in their own way and in their own time.  I have to remember that their grief is different because they have never met Clara and that role play might be their best way to make their sister tangible.  A real sister who is no longer here, who they will never meet on this earth, a sister who is waiting in Heaven.WP_20150708_11_32_59_Pro


Can You Feel Me When I think About You?

Today marks six years since I held Clara for the last time.  It also marks the first time that Clara’s entire life followed the same days of the week…like her birthday on a Wednesday, her passing being 2 days after Mother’s Day.  It is hard to imagine life without her and yet here we are living it.  Instead of having six years of memories I have three and a half months.  Sometimes the most vivid memories are not the “good” ones.  Each year as today approaches my thoughts are filled with memories of May 12, 2009 when I raced to the ER and held my breath for an hour while the doctors and nurses did everything they could to bring life back into her.  The afternoon where I held her earthly body for the last time.  The evening that I laid my baby’s body on the hospital gurney and walked away, leaving her behind in that empty room.  That night as we picked up the big boys from our daycare when we also left with an empty infant car seat and two boys asking where their sister was.  It is a day I wish I could forget and yet I don’t want to.  Each year I find the anticipation of this day is harder than the actual day itself.


As my family remembers year number six we do it in a place where Clara’s memorials are not close by.   A kind man listened to the story behind my blog and told me about a place in Iowa City that I might appreciate.  He was so right!  Along the river sits a statue of hope.  When we first got there I was sure of how I wanted to capture it through the lens of my camera, I knew what my hope was.  Instead I viewed something more heartwarming and thoughtful than I could have ever imagined.  The little ones were drawn toward holding the statue’s hands.  They kept taking and replacing the beads that were in her hands.  They took turns holding her hands like they were dancing.  I saw hope and love and a sense of calm.


Every May 12th I reflect upon the future and I am filled with hope.  Hope that her life was not meaningless.  Hope that her loss has brought my husband, my children, and myself closer to God.  Hope that there is always a future even if it isn’t here on earth.  Hope that I am one day closer to seeing her again.


When I think about Miss Clara, can she feel it?  I like to think so, that is my hope.


“The day which we fear as our last is but the birthday of eternity.”
L.A. Seneca

Mother's Day 2009

Mother’s Day 2009

Day 23 Mommy's Favorite







Big Hero 6 and Loss

I have to admit I love Big Hero 6.  I skipped out on it when it was in theaters because I didn’t think my 18m old would sit through it.  Then we were supposed to see it at family movie night at church and we totally forgot about it.  Actually I am glad I got to see it the first time at home.

Whoever wrote Big Hero 6 really took time to understand loss!  I cried at quite a few spots in the movie and actually felt angry at a few spots too.  It just touched my heart in a way I didn’t expect.


Obviously the funeral got me.  It always does, no matter the movie, tv show, commercial.  It is just a hard thing to watch, even when it is fake.  As a parent who has lost a child it is hard but to watch Hiro stare at Tadashi’s empty bed hurts.  It reminds me of how my kids felt after the loss of their sister.  It reminds me of their questions on if we had to take down Clara’s room and if another baby would stay in there.

“Tadashi was in good health and with healthy habits could have lived a long life.”

I think the hardest part is when Baymax shows up later in the movie and asks about Tadashi.  He says, “But Tadashi was in good health and with healthy habits could have lived a long life.” SIDS is just that, a healthy child goes down for a nap and doesn’t wake up.  Clara should have lived a long life but instead she is in Heaven.  It is hard to hear Hiro talk to Baymax about this.  I think back to talking to the boys about Clara’s death and also to all those others who have asked about her loss.  Sometimes life isn’t what we expect though.  Clara’s life was too short for me but just perfect for God.  I am okay with that.

“Tadashi is here!”

Skip forward a bit and Hiro is having troubles and he hears Baymax say, “Tadashi is here.” Hiro makes a comment along the lines of no he’s not.  Then out of the blue Baymax shows a bunch of lost movies of Tadashi.  I cried because I remember finding some movies on our backup site and on our camera that I didn’t know existed.  They are such a lovely but heartbreaking surprise.  It is so cool to hear the voice of your little one you hold no more.  Every time I see those movies I cry just as Hiro did.

It also reminds me of when I finally asked for the images from the funeral and burial of Clara.  To see those images again was harder than I expected.  I didn’t realize how much of the burial I didn’t remember.

“I will always be with you.”

Then when Baymax is left in the portal and he says, “I will always be with you.”  I think I about lost it.  I mean it takes me back to the closing of Clara’s casket and moving away from her grave. You have to give up something that means so much to you.  You know you will never see them on earth again.

Actually it makes me think of how much stuff we kept of Clara’s too.  I had a tough time getting rid of so many things and yet eventually you have to give away baby stuff.  Hiro is left with just Baymax’s glove after the problems in the portal.  I know I can only keep a few treasured items.    Today we have just a few items from Clara.  Every time I let go of items that were Clara’s I always hear “I will always be with you.” It brings me to tears just writing about it today.


Okay… so I know that Clara will never come back.  My Baymax is her memory.  Things like her rose bushes blooming or her beautiful tree blooming each year or our family picture of the SIDS Run, those are my Baymax.  Each year they return just as Baymax “returns” to Hiro.  To me those times create memories that include Clara.

No they aren’t the same as creating memories with your child but that is the option God has given me and I will love them!  I chose to love them and to enjoy them.  Hiro found Tadashi’s chip that was used to create Baymax but Hiro still had to create Baymax again.  I find it to be the same with Clara things.  God has given me opportunities, I just have to choose to make them good memories.

So to sum it up, Big Hero 6 is my new favorite movie.  Actually it is a family favorite!  Even my 11 and 10 year olds were open about how they “get a lump in their throat” every time they watch it.  They said it has been healing to watch because they too have felt the same as Hiro.

Thank you to the writers… They got it right. They touched hearts. They touch lives. Loss is real, thanks for showing that 🙂