Category Archives: Uncategorized

{Capture Your Grief – 2017} Day #4

Day #4: Belonging

I have never been good at maintaining close friendships.  I have almost always been transient and fluid, belonging to a wide variety of groups.  I have carried that into adulthood.  I find that I belong to a group for a while and then another comes along.  We all grow differently and I feel like that change is necessary to my own growth.  The one thing I have learned through my grief is that I connect with anyone who recognizes that my grief journey is not a problem that needs to be solved.

All too often people share words of comfort that veer toward solving the heartache rather than comforting the griever. It is like someone is trying to solve the problem by placing the puzzle piece in sideways.  Usually, they give up, put the piece back down, and move on.

Sometimes people don’t like the puzzle you have become.  They tend to walk away without a word. It’s not because they are mean or don’t care, but because they don’t know what to do.

Once-in-a-while you meet someone who not only places the piece down incorrectly, they jam it in and attempt to hammer in just so they can solve the problem their way. For me, this group of people was often those closest to my heart.  They also were the most upset/hurt when I shared how their problem solving was hurting me.

The people I try to surround myself with are those who care. They stop and listen and learn what is I need rather than telling me what is needed. I appreciate when people recognize that while my puzzle is almost complete, it will never be 100%. They don’t search me for that last piece nor try to craft a replacement one.  They acknowledge that Clara took a single piece with her.  They can stand back and appreciate the rest of the puzzle without thinking it is worthless.

I am forever grateful for my ever-changing tribe.  They are always the most amazing, caring, loving people.  Whether they are still with me today or have moved on, their lives touched mine at a time when I needed it most. For that I must say, thank you!

#CaptureYourGrief #WhatHealsYou


Capture Your Grief – 2016 – Day #30

My Promise to You

I promise to lovingly remind the world that, while you aren’t here, your fairy tale cape still hangs here.  We promise to remind each other of your life and our memories. We promise to remember your birthday and your passing day.  We promise to remember how very special you are and how much you still belong to our family.



Capture Your Grief – 2016 – Day #18

Healing Therapies

Today I think the quote I placed on my image captures things better than my own words.  My healing has almost aways come in some for of expression.  Through the past few years, I have felt my healing therapies change. I think that is partially due to moving to another state. I do a little less with connecting with grieving families and more sharing with all. Today feel as though a lot of me healing things are found in this project and cakes.

With each blog post, there is a need to be open and honest.  Honest with myself and with others who read.  Each time I write, I am opening some of these wounds I have kept sealed all year.  There are often topics I have never or would never talk about and yet I find the courage to share them.  For me, it helps to be able to sit down and really dig into my heart for the message I want to share.  Somedays the words just pour out, other days it is a struggle but each year I look forward to 31 days dedicated to sharing a piece of me that would otherwise just be buried.

The second part of my healing happens in creating cakes. Cakes remind me of something I have missed or will miss in Clara’s life.  Sometimes that pill is easier to swallow than others.  I often feel like the are super healing because I can celebrate another life moving forward. The most healing for me is to meet these families and share in the delight when they see their cake.  That part will forever make my heart smile.



Capture Your Grief – 2016 – Day #11

Creative Heartwork

Over the past seven years we have been given many gifts in remembrance of Clara.  Angels, jewelry, flowers, tokens at the cemetery.  This year when we were back in South Dakota we were surprised with the beautiful heartwork.  This blanket is absolutely everything Clara from the pink butterflies to the green stripes.  It reminds me of her flower play mat with the crinkly butterfly.  It reminds me of the lovely white dress she work for Easter, our family pictures, and as her last outfit.

We will forever treasure the blanket/quilt.  You know what makes it even more awesome?! It was on display in a South Dakota fabric store for several weeks. Even though it is years later, someone still took the time to share Clara’s memory with the world and then give this gift to us to treasure.  <3




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.**

CarlyMarie Project 2013 – Day #22


She believed she could so she did…

My husband got me this tile the Christmas after Clara died.  He said it reminded him of exactly what he saw me do everyday.

Everyday after we lost Clara I believed I could get out of bed and I did.  Everyday I believed I could find something positive to focus on and I did.  Everyday I believed I could remember Clara and I did.  Everyday I believed God would help me and He did.  Everyday I believed that I could be strong and I was.  Everyday I believed I could love another child without forgetting/replacing Clara and I did.  Everyday I have believed my faith could get me through and it did.

Everyday you have the choice to believe in yourself, your family, your Faith, your strength.  Make today the day you say, “I did it!”


CarlyMarie Project 2013 – Day #1

Day #1: Sunrise

Sunrise is such a beautiful thing and as I begin this project I am reminded of the beautiful birth of Clara.  It truly felt like a new beginning.  Today I chose to take a picture of the sunrise at our local park.  It represents the sun rising each morning and knowing we are missing our little girl playing each day.  I took this picture and then noticed a little girls sandal in the sand.  I looked through that camera and realized it was in every picture I took this morning.  You can see it in the bottom of the picture.  I thought it was the perfect (unplanned) touch that God added as I prayed and began this project.

The lone shoe reminds me of the abrutness of her departure and the footprint she has left behind.  It is always there.

The shoe also reminds me that she is with me, in my heart, every morning when the sun rises.

If you haven’t heard of the Carly Marie Project…  Follow the link below to see what it is all about.  #CaptureYourGrief


Veggie Spaghetti Sauce

My kids eat just about anything you put in front of them, except for my 3 year old.  He is a no vegetable kind of kid.  Once in a while I can get him to eat a canned bean or two.  No matter how I try to hide them he seems to find them.  He is the only kid I know that can pick out the tiniest bit of vegetable while in his mouth full of other food!  I had to come up with a way to get him to consume them unknowingly. What better way than in his favorite food spaghetti!

Veggie Spaghetti Sauce idea came about last year when my garden produced so many yellow squash we couldn’t keep up eating them.  Well, my husband and I couldn’t anyway.  So one afternoon while I was getting a batch of sauce ready I decided to cut up my yellow crookneck squash and add it to the pot.  Then I looked around the fridge to see what else I had.  That is when I noticed a small bag of dried out baby carrots and a few wrinkly peppers.  I added those to the mix too.

This year I added Roma tomatoes, Big Boy tomatoes, Yellow Pear tomatoes, bell peppers, yellow crookneck squash, carrots, and onions to my pot.  Tasted so good!!!!

After simmering until the carrots were soft, I cooled my pot and added it to my blender. My blender holds about 6 cups so I have to have a large bowl to put the pureed mix into so that I can keep emptying the pot.  It usually takes about 3-4 blender jars full before I have emptied my pot.  My family has nothing against seeds in our sauce so I completely skip any steps that involved removing them from the tomatoes or squash.

Once the mix is well blended I add it back into my large pot and bring to simmer.  I add salt and Italian Seasoning mix and let it simmer until an inch or so has been removed.  I would say it is roughly 30-45 minutes.  Then I pour it into a couple jelly roll pans to cool.  The sauce cools much more quickly that way.  Then I bag it, 3-4 cups per bag, and stack in the freezer.

When I add the sauce to the hamburger I find it best to simmer with the meat for 15 minutes to help reduce it further and give it a thicker consistency.

I have used this recipe, minus the Italian Seasoning, to make tomato sauce.  Then I add any seasoning when I make the meal.  This works great if you plan to use the sauce in things like Chili.  I like to add Jalopenoes and chili seasoning to the plain sauce.  So it is really up to each person on how one may want to make and freeze the sauce.

Veggie Filled Spaghetti Sauce

  • 2 gallons tomatoes. skins removed
  • 2 yellow crookneck squash
  • 1 small bag baby carrots
  • 2 small or 1 medium bell pepper
  • 1 medium onion, I prefer white but you can use yellow too
  • 2 TBSP canning salt, or add to taste
  • 3 TBSP Italian seasoning mix, or add to taste
  1. In large pot bring tomatoes and veggies to simmer.  Simmer about 30 minutes or until carrots are soft but not mushy.
  2. Remove from heat and cool for about 20 minutes or to a temp that is okay for your blender.
  3. Puree the mix.  I puree in batches and place the mix into a large bowl until I empty my pot.
  4. Pour sauce back into pot and bring to simmer again.  Add salt and Italian seasoning to taste.  Simmer until an inch or more has been removed.
  5. Remove from heat and cool.  This is when I place in jelly roll pan to cool faster.
  6. Measure and pour into ziploc freezer bags.  Remove air and seal.
  7. Cool completely before adding to the freezer.  Tomato sauce has a better flavor if allowed to cool before it is frozen.
Thaw and enjoy 🙂

What Did I do to Deserve This?

I recently came across this article on Facebook.  Reading it made me really think about things people said to me after Clara passed.

I felt like her death was somehow a punishment for things I had done in the past.   Could it??

While my anger toward God was far less than it could have been and less than what others have shared with me, I found myself in constant battle with the punishment aspect.  I have made some pretty bad choices in my past, did they finally catch up to me??  Did I have this coming?  Did I ruin my husbands relationship with his daughter because of my mistakes??  The list could keep going.  Does God really punish us?  I really had to search for answers.  I finally came to the conclusion that if you truly ask for forgiveness then the slate is clean.  But is it??  That thought lingered in my mind for a long time.

I finally got past this roadblock in my grief after working with several other mom’s who have also lost a child.  God isn’t punishing me or punishing my daycare provider.  It was simply her time to leave.  Whenever people say “what did I do to deserve this” after the death of a child I try to remind them, and myself, God isn’t punishing them…that isn’t what He does.  He isn’t punishing the child that has left either.  I think this explanation works well… god is not like an abusive father, filled with unpredictable rage. Who’s family must walk on eggshells, afraid of suddenly enraging him and should he be provoked, lash out. My God forgives and holds me…not cruelly punish me by taking my child or allowing my child to suffer.  I don’t think anyone should ever, ever say someone deserved to lose a child or that the loss was punishment.  EVER.  It leaves way too many questions and too much anger in ones heart and leaves little room for faith.

Someone once told me that everything, all the loss of life, I had experienced in my teens was preparing me for something big.  I couldn’t help but wonder if that was really true.

In high school I lost several classmates, friends, and family members.  By the time I started college I had been to 4 kids funerals and several relative’s.  I was always told God had something big planned for me, that I needed to get through these for something bigger.  What could be that big that I needed all this pain???  Was I really being prepped for something because if so I wanted to skip it, let someone else handle it.

Whenever something big did happen, I would wonder is this it??  Then after only a few short years of meeting my little brother I was hit with what I thought was the “something really big”.  My brother took his own life just 3 short weeks before Clara was born.  I will never forget reading “I will miss you” text message that night after work.  I drove home thinking he sent that message to me by mistake, maybe he broke up with a girl.  Little did I know that waiting at home was my husband with terrible news.  That would be  the last message I would get.  I watched my dad and step mom go through the most painful thing ever.  I will never forget the sound of a mother’s pain.  It is gut wrenching.  Someone said to me, “you are being prepared for something”.  Then 4 1/2 months later my baby died.

Does God groom us?  I don’t know.  I can say that my life experiences did help me with how I deal with her loss.  But did I have to endure each loss to be able to handle my own?  Maybe not, I know others who haven’t dealt with near as much death and they have made it through their grief just fine.

I think it is less about preparing and more about having faith through your grief.

For me, it’s about keeping faith that I am not being punished or that I somehow deserved this.  It is knowing and remembering that my child isn’t being punished.  It takes faith to know that  my child knows no more pain, no more suffering.  That she will always be smiling, skipping, playing.  That never more will she shed a tear.  It is with faith that I am reminded that we will someday we will meet her again.


Sharing Mother's Day

If you ask any mom who has lost a child, Mother’s Day can be very hard.

How do you celebrate when a part of you, a piece that made you a mom, is missing?  In the years since Clara passed I have found ways to make Mother’s Day special and a celebration.  This year feels different though.  I think because for the first time I have to share my special day with the anniversary of Clara’s death (May 12th).  This will be the first of several Mother’s Days I will share with this sad anniversary.

How do I celebrate Mother’s Day without feeling guilty?

Should I feel sad or guilty that I am less sad than I used to be??  Losing her doesn’t make me less of a mom but then losing her makes it hard to feel like a complete mom.  My husband keeps asking me what I want to do for Mother’s Day and I still have no ideas for him.   I thought about making a trip to visit another mom who is also sharing her special day and hosting a SIDS walk but this year it isn’t in the cards.  So I will settle for a trip to visit Clara, which will also be Haleigh’s first trip to visit her sister.  Bittersweet I guess.

On the bright side I have many good memories of sharing a single Mother’s Day with Clara.  Her smiles that day were giant!   She was loving her new found chew toy…her dress.  She was all cuddles and a snuggly little girl that day.  I also got to enjoy a cute gift her and her older brothers made at daycare….a gift I still enjoy and look at often.  Today I have 5 little blessings with me to share my day with and an angel looking down on me.  One could definitely say I am very blessed.  With them, and my wonderful husband, Mother’s Day will be a good day.

Today I got a card in the mail remembering Clara’s passing…

The words that were shared will make sharing my day with Clara’s day a little easier.

“The tide recedes but leaves behind bright seashells on the sand, and the sun goes down but gentle warmth still lingers on the land.  The music stops and yet it echoes on in sweet refrains… for every joy that passes, something beautiful remains.” M.D. Hughes.

There are many beautiful things that remain and that is part of what keeps a smile on my face and in my heart.

It will be what helps get me through my shared Mother’s Day.  Besides who could look at this beautiful girl and not love to remember her?!  She will always be a part of this mom and her memory a part many other moms out there.

Mother's Day 2009