A Look Back At The Past Year & The Light At The End Of The Tunnel

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I have been silent for quite a bit of the past year. It has been one of the strangest years of my life. But I’m not writing this to rehash what has already been said, rather, I’m happy to share with you how this past year has changed me and while I could write a book on this past year alone, here is my small attempt at communicating the transformation I have gone through.

I’ve stepped back and looked at my life, a childless mother, a young caregiver, a victim, a survivor and I’ve asked myself over and over again, “Who am I?”

I’ve felt the weight of Brielle’s loss in a strange, almost surreal, way. Life went on and David and I were left with a gaping hole in our lives. Walking through everyday feeling as if she was only a dream. Asking ourselves if our reality is really real. I’ve dealt with the hard questions of, “Does God really answer my prayers? Does he really care?”

In the fog of my trauma and pain, I decided to pursue new relationships within my church, and signed up for a morning bible class and an evening bible class. I didn’t check the subjects we’d be studying. I didn’t expect much at all. As I sat there during the first class, a study on 2 Timothy (the Entrusted study by Beth Moore), I was shocked with how relevant the study was to my current season in life, but was also shocked at how seriously this church takes their bible studies. They weren’t messing around, these classes expected memorization, homework, deep personal and spiritual growth. We were going to dig in and root out the chaos of our lives and find our calling.

I watched myself transform as I dug into scripture, a true fire igniting within me. I have lived my entire Christian faith filled with questions and seeking answers. I would turn to those around me and receive criticism for even venturing outside of the confines of order, but I have always been spiritual and have felt a deep connection with God, could no one explain to me then why this was? Could no one explain to me my purpose? Could no one guide me and help explain to me the truly, spiritual, almost supernatural, things that have occurred in my life?

No, not one. In my search for answers, I have spent the past six years (previous to Brielle’s conception) in search of a church that felt alive. A place where I could feel God’s presence and see a sincere devotion to God’s calling. I wanted to see Christians who sought to do good and who were transformed by Christ. The unfortunate truth is that our nation, our world, is largely disconnected from it’s spirituality and Christians do not always behave in a Christ like manner. In the church we call this a Form of Godliness.

I walked out of class a month ago, hurriedly walking to my car, when I felt the pull of God’s voice on my heart and mind, “Go back. Go back and ask them to pray over you.”

I swerved, “Uhh, I don’t know about that. That’s weird. That makes me uncomfortable. God, I’ll just send them an email.”

I felt that all familiar pull at my heart, “Go back.”

“Do I have to? This is weird.

“Go back and ask them to pray for you. Go back.

I stopped, awkwardly standing in the parking deck, turned around and stormed into the chapel. I grabbed one of the women whom I greatly admire for her candor, she would not mislead me or sugar coat things, I wanted to be corrected, I wanted Godly advice. She grabbed another woman and I another.

They sat me down and gathered around me as I spoke to them of my past, the loss of Brielle, and the conviction on my heart. I asked desperately for discernment as I faced new paths in my life. They placed their hands on me and prayed over me. Praying for freedom from those who have prayed against me. Praying for freedom from my pain and trauma. Praying for discernment, blessings, and healing.

As they spoke, I felt a warmth encircle my head and spread through my brain. I felt it move through my body and felt a weight disappear from my shoulders. I could breathe easier. I could smile easier. My aches and pains, my heartbreak, my world, glowed in a pure sense of happiness and relief. I felt free for the first time in my life.

They directed me towards scriptures that would aid me through this process and I returned home. David was astonished, he had never seen me so carefree. My therapist was happily shocked and my scores for depression, anxiety, and anger have reduced by more than three times.

I happily joked about how ridiculously crazy I sounded. I laughed at how many would mock my crazy spirituality. And I found joy. Over the past three weeks I have watched my life transform into something sincerely beautiful and full of life, joy, and happiness. God has filled me with more joy and blessings than I could imagine. He has revealed to me my calling in life and set me on my path. I have experienced things that I had only read about in the New Testament.

My heart is free. I can begin again. And as I reach the milestone of Brielle’s first birthday, I find myself joyful. I have work to do. I have growing and learning to do. I still have memories that I need to confront and grow from. But I look forward to all of this. I have been given a remarkable gift, I can begin again. My life, my world, is renewed and I can find joy in the knowledge that I can rebuild my life and myself into something beautiful, loving, and filled with happiness.

I say this often, but I have no idea why God has been so good to me. I have no idea why he has kept me safe for all of these years. But I am thankful. I would be lost without him. I look forward to a new year of love and happiness and discovering who I am in Christ. And, while I am not ashamed, I hope I won’t scare you all off. 😉

 

 

A Donation To March Of Dimes For Brielle’s Birthday

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David and I chose to use money we would have spent on Brielle’s birthday gifts this year, to instead give to the March Of Dimes foundation. We chose this because anencephaly is one of many birth defects and we felt that this year, this organization was the best way to honor Brielle.

You can read about their birth defects research here.

David and I encourage you to donate in memory of Brielle or to spread awareness of anencephaly and other birth defects with your friends and family. No one should lose a child and David and I want to be a force of change for this.

You can donate here.

You can get involved here.

A Look Into Brielle’s Party

In case you’ve been hiding under a rock, today we are celebrating Brielle’s beautiful life! David invited our closest family and friends. We weren’t entirely sure how well we’d do today and we really didn’t feel like blubbering in front of everyone. I’m hoping we’ll be too happy to blubber, we’ll see!

I’ll post more about her cake later today, but for the food we chose to have Papasito’s catered. Brielle loved the mariachi band when we went there for Mexico Independence Day and I thought it was a perfect way to bring that element into the party. Not to mention a lot easier than cooking.

We’ll be having her playlist on throughout the day and as we all know, she loved her music. Queue one of her favorites:

Before Brielle was born, I wanted to throw her a big party, but for various reasons it didn’t happen. This has bothered me ever since. The week before she was born should have been about her and it wasn’t. In many ways, this party is my chance to rectify that for her and myself. I would like to think she will be looking down and watching our celebration for her and that she’ll know how much I wanted to spoil her and treasure her.

I’ve ordered five three foot pink balloons. I’m pulling out the nice dinner ware. I’ve bought her a dress (I wanted something schmancy, but that’s pretty hard to find in 18″ doll size), and we’re surrounding ourselves with those who understand our quirky way of grieving.

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I am so excited to share this day with them and with you all. One of the greatest gifts you all gave David and I was love for our daughter. In so many ways, y’alls love and encouragement helped make our time with her joyful.

Quiet, Empty Rooms

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This is a post I wrote a few weeks ago.

I love being alone. The television is rarely on, the trees isolate the house from outside noise, and I prefer this. I prefer quiet. I spend hours in my head thinking, lost in my own mind, and I am happy this way.

I’ll walk through my house, passing empty room after empty room, and wonder what life would be with a house full of little feet and sticky hands.

Admittedly, I stress over the chaos. Grape jelly smeared on the chairs and doors. Dog hair, crayon murals, and fighting children flashing before my eyes.

And then I think about sloppy kisses, laughter, watching them grow and thrive. I look into empty rooms and I see a full house, filled with colorful bedding, waded up clothing, and toys scattered everywhere.

I think that would be nice. Chaotic, messy, and stressful, but nice.

I’ll think about Brielle, her long legs quickly crawling across the room, her babbling, her sloppy kisses. And I think, that would be nice. I’d give anything to wipe her sticky hands. To wake up in the middle of the night with her. I’d give anything for her noise, her chaos, her love.

I walk through my orderly, empty house, and realize just how lonely and empty life is without sticky fingers. And I feel alone. I feel empty.

David’s Father’s Day Weekend

David and I spent this past weekend with family and celebrating Brielle. Saturday afternoon we had a really nice visit with Bernice. We had a great conversation and she was incredibly clear, even giving David some much needed encouragement. It was great to see her doing so well.

We then went to David’s second cousins wedding. David’s dad was the youngest child and David is the youngest child, so David and his second cousin, Jimmy, are just six months apart. I love it and think it’s hilarious.

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Jimmy has been a great source of encouragement to David as we’ve dealt with the loss of Brielle. He’s a great guy who’s always there when you need him. I count myself lucky to have a friend like him and to be a part of his family. That being said, we were very excited to see him marry Tammy.

The wedding was beautiful, one of the prettiest weddings I’ve ever attended. It was outside, the weather was perfect, everyone that came loved Jimmy and Tammy, it was just wonderful. And I’m so glad we were able to attend. I love David’s family, they are incredibly kind and have been very accepting of me.

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We came home that night and took Brielle to church with us in the morning. David dressed her bear in her Star Wars dress, she was so cute! Dr. Cooper was on fire that morning and gave an incredible talk on David and Goliath. The talk is part of his valleys series, God guiding us through the valleys of life. David and I love attending Mt Paran, Dr. Cooper has a message that speaks directly to us, every single week, and we always feel the spirit of God there. I’ll talk more about this message later.

Sunday evening, for Father’s Day, we took Brielle back to Dave and Buster’s and recreated the photo booth picture. It felt so good to celebrate her again. It hurt to remember the pain of her absence, but it felt good to remember all the love and happiness we shared with her.

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I think that’s one of the hardest things about grief, figuring out how to move forward. David, who has worked past the numb stage of grief, unlike me, held my hand and said, “I didn’t know how to go on. She was our world and now there’s nothing left. But this feels good, I want to celebrate her, I want to do all the things with her that we didn’t have the time for, like fly a kite. I want to keep doing her bucket list.”

This kind of took me off guard, so I was a little shocked, but David was sure, this is how he wants to move forward. So I said okay. We’ll make a new bucket list. We took her back to D&B and then, not feeling like video games, we decided to see Finding Dory. Which is a great movie.

We left Brielle in the car and later regretted it. It’s hard knowing where to take her and where not to take her. It can be embarrassing at times, carrying around a dressed up teddy bear, no one knows it’s an urn bear. And sometimes we feel silly, but then, like this Sunday, we regret it.

We’ll do better in the future. We’re still figuring out our new normal. But, at least, this incredibly sad anniversary, ended up being a very good weekend.