Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Letter

Beloved Friends & Family,

Merry Christmas! Our prayer is that this letter finds you well and surrounded by those you love.

Who could have imagined what God would have in store for us in 2008? We were excited to welcome our first baby – anticipating all that a new bundle of joy would add to our lives. In March, we learned of complications with our pregnancy and on April 19, we delivered our baby girl, Chloe Faith.

We have been changed forever because of Chloe Faith. We are grateful for the short time we had with her, although we wish it could have been longer. We are amazed by the impact her little life has had on us, our relationships, and our perspective on life. Such tiny little feet left a huge imprint on our lives. We are the proud parents of our little girl.

For years I have wanted to send a Christmas letter, but always talked myself out of it. This was going to be the year – we could share about the new addition to our family. Even though our holiday is much different than we planned, we are sending our first Christmas letter because we are celebrating the birth of a precious baby. Chloe Faith and a baby born over 2,000 years ago: Jesus Christ. Without Him we don’t know how we could have made it through this year. He has been our strength and comfort in unfathomable circumstances. He has provided His peace in the midst of our intense grief. He has even given us joy to replace our mourning. He has surrounded us with friends (old & new) that have walked with us, prayed for us, held us up when we couldn’t stand on our own and hugged us to remind us we were not alone. There are no words to describe how much your support and encouragement meant to us this year. We are forever grateful.
We are holding on to the promise of Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” We don’t know what our future holds, but we are more certain than ever of the One who holds our future. We are safe and secure in His plan for our family.

Although our Christmas is different than we planned – our hearts are full of hope, and even joy, in the midst of our sadness. We have experienced a peace that passes all understanding – something deeper than we have ever experienced. It would have been nice to get to this place in our relationships without the pain – but that isn’t possible. It is through brokenness that we are made whole. We know that our daughter is restored in Heaven. She is having fun with Grandma Carmen and Jesus until we are all together again.

This Christmas we have much to celebrate – including the gift of two special babies. We pray that the story of the birth of our daughter and more importantly, the birth of Jesus Christ, will touch your lives this year in new and powerful ways. And that your Christmas and New Year will include the peace, hope, love and joy of the season.

Jose & Kirsten

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Just when I feel like I really need to post...and that nobody will notice if I don't...there comes an encouraging comment or someone mentions they checked the blog and haven't seen a post in a awhile. Thank you to those who check in on us and the blog. It means so much. Here is an update...

Thanksgiving was wonderful and difficult at the same time. We have so much to be thankful for. This has been the hardest year of our lives but it has also included more comfort, peace and growth than any other year. Those are gifts that we will take with us, they are part of us forever, because of Chloe Faith. She has left a huge imprint on our lives. A tiny little baby made an enormous impact. She makes me so proud. Her legacy continues to touch peoples lives.

Last Christmas, my 7 year old niece, G, received a cute baby doll. The doll talks, drinks a bottle, opens and closes her eyes and is wrapped in pink. She is adorable (the baby doll and my niece). Last Christmas I joked with G that the baby was a wonderful gift because she could practice caring for a baby. Since next Christmas we would have a new little cousin for her to play with and that I could use her help with the new baby. She was overjoyed at the idea.

When I saw my niece at our family Thanksgiving get together, guess what she was holding...that sweet little baby doll. I smiled at her a little surprised since I hadn't seen the baby in 11 months. The the thought hit me, "You should be holding my baby..." I held it together (I think). Kids are so perceptive, I'm not sure if she noticed my double take and mind racing. She is a cute little baby doll - I just wish G could be holding our baby girl. I wish I could be holding our baby girl.

I imagine Christmas will be even more confusing. We found out we were pregnant at Christmas and began sharing the news. I felt so tired during the first few weeks of December that I didn't even have the energy to decorate last year.

I have more energy to decorate this year, but part of me thinks, "I should be too tired and busy to decorate from caring for a 2 month old baby." But that isn't the situation. This isn't how I imagined our 2008 holidays to be - but we still have much to be thankful for. And we have hope for 2009. We have lots of hope that 2009 will include many blessings.

Our plan is to start trying to get pregnant in January. We'd appreciate your prayers for a speedy conception and healthy pregnancy. We know there will be lots of ups and downs emotionally, but we are anxious to have a baby in our arms to love and care for.

Posting has been good for my heavy heart. I feel lighter. We have several Christmas ornaments in memory of Chloe - I think it may be time to decorate.

Blessings to all who take the time to read our blog. We are thankful for you!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Faith Clare is here!!!

Thank you for all the prayers for Kenzie and baby Faith Clare. She arrived November 12 - healthy, beautiful and an absolute blessing!

Check out the pictures on Kenzie's blog - The Stanfield Journey.

Blessings on your day. More soon...

Monday, October 27, 2008

More of the 99 Balloons story on Oprah October 31

Oprah and I don't agree on much these days, however...this is a story I can support. This is the information from Eliot's mommy's blog...

Well, as if you haven't gotten enough of us, looks like we may be doing an update on the Oprah Live show this Friday (October 31). So tune in if you are so inclined.

Oprah is doing a segment on Eliot Mooney on the show coming up on Tuesday, October 28. The show is on "Miracle children" and Eliot is the only one not still on this earth. Honestly, at first we were hesitant when approached with the whole idea. However, having already taped the show, we feel honored to tell Eliot's story through this platform. The Oprah crew did a great job throughout of simply telling Eliot's story and nothing else. And we are appreciative to them for the opportunity. So, spread the word if you want, and tune in as the Lord continues to take a little boy and make Himself known.

Eliot's story was shared in the 99 Balloons video - a balloon for every day he lived on Earth. I encourage you to check out the 99 Balloons video, the blog about Eliot and the "Miracle Children" episode of Oprah.

Friday, October 24, 2008

At the end of me

Life has been crazy this month in all areas. Yet, God is faithful and He is revealing how He is ever present, protecting, providing, and guiding us on this journey.

October 15 was National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day - a day to remember babies who have died from miscarriage, stillbirth or early/late pregnancy loss. Kristyn (Joseph's mommy) & Lyndsey (Lauren's mommy) co-founded the Orange County Walk to Remember and Jose' and I participated for the first time. It was incredible. They did an amazing job and it was such a blessing to "walk for the steps our babies will never take." They did so many things to make the day special - it was a huge blessing. There were 700 people at the event, including the Saddleback Empty Arms Support Group, St. Joseph's Perinatal Comfort Care, and Krista (Macy's mommy) - people who have become integral parts of our lives. People we didn't even know a year ago, whom have impacted our lives forever.

It was a strange feeling to be at the Walk to Remember and feel thankful. Doesn't that seem strange? To feel blessed in the midst of our grief? And yet it is true. It is a miracle. To feel such peace, hope, and comfort is new for me. I've never felt it to this degree before, and I'm incredibly thankful. It has been hard. Receiving support, love, comfort and help has been very hard for me. I'm the kind of person that prefers to look like I have it all together. Unfortunately, needing help was equated with weakness in my mind. I had a different set of rules for myself - it was important for everyone else to receive help, but it wasn't acceptable for me. I'm so glad that twisted thinking has been crushed. Thank you Chloe for leading me to the truth.

Our experience with Chloe brought me to the end of myself. I didn't have anything more to give, no energy to wear the mask, no strength to stand alone. I had to receive, rely on others and reach out. And I'm so grateful that I have been forever changed by the experience. Life is so much better when we don't try to do it on our own. We are designed for fellowship, unity, togetherness - not to walk this journey alone or in our own strength.

One of the important lessons I've learned this year is that I disagree with the cliche "God never gives us more than we can handle." In my experience, God absolutely allowed something in our lives that was more than we could handle - so that we would rely on Him and others. We could never have gotten through 2008 in our own strength - we have relied on so many people who have carried us through the dark days.

I'm so grateful for the people who have been God's hands and feet to us in our grief. Who have read the blog, posted comments, sent letters, called, given heart felt hugs, asked how we are doing, told us they love us...those who have cared for us. Because they have been there for us, we have been able to reach out to others that are hurting. I'm grateful for that. It has been a blessing to walk with others who are on a similar journey.

September was a difficult month. October has been amazing. If you know anything about what is going on in our lives right now, it is anything but easy. There are major life challenges in our careers, finances, church, relationships, etc. We are thankful for the blessings we have and the way that God is refining us and adding such richness to our lives

We are grieving the loss of Tony, a staff member at our church and an amazing man. Please keep his wife, Lisa & 20 month old daughter Isabel in your prayers. God is comforting the grieving, but the loss is enormous and painful. Please pray for the family and our church - that God would be glorified on Earth through Tony's life and death.

I wish that I could have gotten to this better place (in my marriage, my emotional health, my spiritual life, relationships, perspective...) without the pain and loss. Unfortunately, it wasn't possible without coming to the end of myself first. At the end of me, I allow God to take over, and that is when beautiful things happen and things begin to "fit" even when life is chaotic. God is so amazing - His ways are certainly not my ways. And even though I don't always like it, I'm so glad. He is good. He has plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Praise report - 4 of the mommies I met in Atlanta who experienced pregnancy loss are pregnant. What a blessing to see hope confirmed!! Please keep Kenzie, Emily, Chrissy, and Kim in your prayers.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Chloe & Jack

Thank you for the prayers and words of encouragement after my last post. I'm thankful to report that after "dumping" on the blog, reaching out to some friends, crying my eyes out, praying, and a good night of sleep; I felt much better the next morning.

Then I realized why I was so emotional. Let me restate that - I realized there was something in addition to my grief over Chloe that was making me extra emotional. Jose's birthday was September 25 and he wouldn't be celebrating with his little girl. That made me really sad. I hadn't realized that fact until that point. It just wasn't right that she wasn't here.

In addition, my mom's birthday was September 28 and the loss was there in the back of my mind. It was the first time that I realized that Chloe's milestone dates are close to other significant dates. Chloe, Jose', and my mom would have all had birthdays in September. Instead, Chloe and I both have birthdays in April.

We also found out Chloe's fatal diagnosis in March - the month my mom passed away. And Mother's Day is really close to our Anniversary.

I don't know why happy days are mixed with sad days. Maybe that is God's way of reminding us that life includes highs and lows. Or giving us something to be thankful for in the midst of the loss? On September 4 we were sad to not have
Chloe. On September 25 I was excited to be married to an awesome husband and celebrate the day he was born. Then September 28 - thankful for my mom, but missing her since she is gone. I just find it interesting how the dates are so close together.

Something else happened this month too. A friend delivered her precious baby, Jack on September 15. Even though they received a fatal diagnosis, she chose to carry Jack to term. He lived for almost 16 hours and slipped into Heaven from his mommy's arms. Several of my favorite mom's from the blogs reached out to her to comfort her in her loss. Thank you! She is heart broken, of course, but the comfort, prayers and support she is receiving makes a huge difference. Please continue to keep her in your prayers.

I can't share about it now, but it looks like God is using Chloe and Jack to do some exciting things for families in our area who receive a fatal diagnosis. What a blessing and humbling experience to think that their little lives, so fragile and brief, could be the start of big things. God does work in mysterious ways. I'll keep you posted - your prayers would be appreciated.

God's blessings on you today. He is faithful through the highs and the lows. So, if you are at a low point, don't lose hope - things will get better right around the corner.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Feeling Sad

I thought I was doing pretty well. In fact, the 19th almost passed without me noticing that it was 5 months since Chloe was delivered. I think I was so focused on my due date that the 19th almost seemed like any other day.

Then at church on Sunday, the tears just started flowing. And flowing. And flowing. It was good to have the release. I've been so busy, when I finally slowed down long enough the sadness and loss came flowing out.

There was a little baby in a stroller sitting behind us. It reminded me that if things had happened the way that we had planned, that I wouldn't even be sitting in that seat. I would be in the cry room with my baby in my arms. I would be tired from lack of sleep. I would be captivated by the little bundle of life that I have always wanted. I would be dreaming of prom night, wedding days, and grandchildren - even though my daughter wouldn't even be one month old yet. I would have endless hopes and dreams for the future and all that it holds for my baby girl.

Things didn't work out quite like I had planned. And that makes me really sad. That sentence seems insufficient in truly explaining how sad I feel. And yet, they are the only words that come to mind.

I feel the loss in a different way not that my due date has passed. Now it feels real. Now I can tell how different life is without Chloe.

Being pregnant wasn't what I wanted most. I wanted to be a mommy. I wanted to love and raise a precious little child into a wonderful adult. I know that opportunity will be here again. I'm just sad that it isn't happening now, with Chloe.

Last week I was shopping in Target and for the first time, when I noticed the cute baby clothes, I didn't avert my eyes and try to change the subject in my mind. Instead, I looked at the clothes with confidence, faith and belief that I will have a healthy baby and be the mommy that I've always dreamed of being. Although I'm not shopping for those baby clothes right now, I will be some day - hopefully next year. It may not seem like a big deal, but it was a big deal for me. To deeply feel that the promise of a healthy child would be in our near future.

I have been encouraged by so many women who have spoken words of hope, faith, love and comfort to me. After we received the diagnosis, those words sustained me when I felt too weak to keep it together. I feel like today I'm hanging on those promises again. With grief their are good days and bad days - it is all part of the process. Today is one of the bad days.

I'm so thankful that so many of you take the time to read this blog and encourage me on the bad days. God bless you for that!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Due Date - September 4

Thank you to everyone who has prayed, emailed, posted, called and sent us words of loving comfort and support regarding our due date. Your prayers were answered and we were able to remember and honor Chloe's life in special ways. Thank you for blessing us.

Thank you also for your prayers for Kenzie and Faith Clare. They were discharged after a week of challenges, but both are doing well. They are both fighters - Hurricane Ike is their next challenge. Your continued prayers for protection - physical, mental, spiritual and good health are appreciated.

It has taken me over a week to sit down to write the post about my due date. I remember the first days and weeks after we received the fatal diagnosis and after Chloe passed. I wanted to post, to connect, to reach out, to unload my thoughts and feelings, but I was simply overwhelmed with emotion to the point that I felt numb and didn't know what to say.

It has been different this week. I have had tons of thoughts, experiences and feelings to share, but for some reason sitting down to write them (look at them) is difficult. It is hard. It is painful at times. It is raw. It is real. I also recognize, thank you God, that it is getting easier and the dark moments are far less dark and far less frequent. The road of grief has many ups and downs, but when we actually walk it, instead of staying stuck, our life does become richer, our hearts are more tender and we are more aware of what really matters in life.

This post would be ridiculously long if I told you all about our last week, so let me try to give you the highlights. I knew I didn't want to be at work on Sep. 4. It would be too much pressure, I would be uncertain and nervous about what emotions might come spilling out in the workplace, and I had a feeling I wouldn't be motivated or productive. It was best to avoid putting that much pressure on myself, so Jose' and I both took the day off. We took the whole week off - as I write this, we are in San Diego on our California Road Trip.

Thursday morning, Sep. 4 I knew exactly what would comfort my heart. A bike ride and walk on the beach - Chloe's beach where we went the day we found out her heartbeat was gone. Breakfasts at Cappy's - the restaurant we went to that morning. A quiet, no pressure, no deadline, no To Do List kind of a day. It was a beautiful day. Blue skies, bright sun, crisp but not cold, absolutely gorgeous.

As we rode our bikes out of our neighborhood I thought, "Thank you for this day, Lord."


Did that thought really just come out of my head?


Don't I remember what today is?

Today is the day that I was supposed to be delivering my baby girl, it was going to be a "Labor Day, Labor Day." But instead it wasn't and nothing was going to change that reality. She had already been delivered. On April 19 - 5 months too early.

The question caught me off guard completely. I think I actually looked around, as if to see if someone else said it. But it wasn't someone else. That was my thought.

The answer was, "yes." I am thankful for September 4. My life has changed more because of what happened on April 19, than it would have it things went as planned on September 4. Things are certainly different. And not anything like I had planned. But I am thankful for many things throughout this journey.

I'm thankful we had Chloe. That we were pregnant with her. That we chose to deliver her. That we named her - and what her name means. That we were able to hold her. For the people we met along the way who have become heart friends. For the people who were acquaintances, but are now heart friends. For the way we have been changed forever because of a little girl that weighed only ounces. Her impact has been much bigger and heavier and more meaningful than we could have ever known. I am so proud of her. I am so proud of the legacy she has left. I am thankful that I was chosen to be her mommy. Even if just for a short time.

I'm thankful she is safe, whole and healthy in Heaven. I'm thankful that I'll see her again. I'm thankful that she is spending countless hours filled with love and laughter with Jesus, my mom and so many other precious people in Heaven.

I'm thankful that I have hope that she will have a brother or sister (or both) on Earth some day (next year, fingers crossed).

I'm thankful that September 4 reminded me of all the things that I'm thankful for. Because the list is long. Even though the list of loss and pain is also long. I choose to focus on the list of the blessings in my life. It doesn't make the loss list any less painful, but it sure makes it more bearable when I focus on what I do have instead of what I have lost.

That were several things that I did to make the day special. It may seem really strange, but they were comforting to my heart. The bike ride and breakfast were part of it.

For those of you who know me, you know that I practically wear flip flops 365 days a year. At our wedding, I had a basket of bright pink flip flops for the ladies to wear while they danced. There was one extra pair left at the end of the night - just my size. I took them home and have had them in the closet, brand new, for 3 years. I wore them on September 4 for our bike ride to the beach. It made my heart warm. I suppose it was a symbolic way for me to connect us to Chloe - to bring her into the highlights of our life, even though we were married 3 years ago.

There were several little things like that made my heart feel better on a painful day. Things that were physically comforting since I couldn't hold my precious baby girl. Those little things become really big things when they are all that we have.

At breakfast, a gentleman came in and the waitresses all hugged him and sang happy birthday to him. He was 78. Really? A birthday celebration - sitting right behind us? I was a little shocked at first. Are you kidding? What are the chances? I knew it wasn't by accident. He was a precious man. On our way out the door I wished him a happy birthday with a smile and it sparked up a conversation. I didn't tell him he shares the birthday of someone very special to us. I didn't tell him why we had come to breakfast or the significance of the day for us. Instead, we wished him a happy birthday and made him smile and laugh. He gave us a smile and laugh too. I felt more comfort in our positive interaction than if I had sat down and cried to him about what September 4 means to me. It was a good way to start the day - I felt better, he felt better, and I felt like it was because of Chloe that I was able to focus on someone else that morning instead of myself. That is a legacy. That is a gift.

After our morning at the beach, we packed up for a casual road trip up Pacific Coast Highway along the beaches. Our end destination was San Francisco, with an idea about what we wanted to see along the way, but no set schedule. On Thursday we stopped in Los Angeles at the Getty Villa. It was our first time since the restoration and it was gorgeous. It reminded me of my travels in Greece and Italy - I have so much to be thankful for. It was beautiful, calming, peaceful and soothing to be there.

We stayed in Ventura Thursday night, then went to several of the California Missions on Friday. We were tourists - Mission San Buena Ventura, Mission Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara courthouse, even UCSB. Whatever spots sounded interesting and looked attractive - we enjoyed.

We did the same thing all the way up the coast - San Luis Obispo, Big Sur, Monterey, Carmel, San Francisco, San Simeon to see Heart Castle, Solvang, Santa Cruz. It was relaxing, just what we needed, and to see how large the ocean was reminded us, how small we are in the big picture of everything.

Our God is a big God - He made that ocean. He made Chloe. He chose us to be her parents. And He has sustained us and changed us as we have walked this journey.

I was talking with someone this week and she shared something she saw on TV. A man had lost his child and he said the child died to teach him important things he might not have learned otherwise. I disagreed with my friend. We have definitely learned amazing things because of Chloe - but she didn't need to die so that we could learn them. That would be horrible. An innocent child dying so that their parents could learn a lesson?

I don't think God works that way. Instead, I think that we live in a fallen world, things aren't perfect on Earth. There is sickness, evil, pain, loss and sadness. That is why Chloe died. The blessing in the midst of the pain is that along with the loss there are gifts. Everyone receives them, but not everyone recognizes them.

Some choose to focus on the loss and stay in a dark place all their lives. They focus on what they don't have instead of what they do have. They become bitter, resentful, angry and cold. They are changed - but not for the better.

Others see the gifts that come along with the loss. The new friends. The growth. A much more sensitive heart toward others. A different perspective on what is really important in life. A change in priorities. A new outlook on life and death.

I choose to see the gifts that have come along with our loss. I am blown away and in awe of the gifts and blessings that we have received. I'm humbled by them and so thankful. So incredibly thankful. We will never be the same because of Chloe. I pray that we will never forget the gifts that her life and her loss gave us. Because the gifts we received make a difference in the lives of everyone we come in contact with.

One of the things that has amazed me about our trip is how much we have laughed. We have enjoyed ourselves. Being in a stress free environment helps immensely. I often thought, "If the people around us only knew the reason we are taking this trip."

We didn't cry as much as I thought we would. In fact, the only time I cried was on Friday morning as I was journaling. It was freeing to write, and then to be able to move on with our day and enjoy it.

I will always remember the reason we took this trip. The reason we visited so many Missions. The items that we purchased - a special hat for Jose', tour books, a garden decoration that says, "Bloom with Joy." There were so many things that will remind us of our trip and the reason we took it - because of Chloe. If it wasn't for her, we wouldn't have taken this trip.

And it tickles my heart to know that every time I wear those pink flip flops (only on special occasions), see Jose' wear his hat, or I'm reminded to Bloom with Joy, that is is all because of a precious little girl named Chloe Faith.

I don't want to imply that it is always sunshine and roses on the journey of grief. Remember, it took me a week to even sit down and write this post. It isn't easy. At the Monterey Aquarium I had to get out of the children's section because it was just too difficult. There are times at Target (the universal gathering spot for pregnant women and babies) when I have to avoid looking at the baby section or leave.

But I also find that my hope grows as my heart heals. I have hope that we will be pregnant again. That I will get to shop for all those precious little baby clothes, blankets, and room decorations. The nursery wasn't full this September 4, but I have hope that it will be full in 2009.

Thank you for your prayers, words of comfort and encouragement, and for taking time to read the blog. Your support has helped us get through this week. We love you!

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord,
"plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future. "
Jeremiah 29:11

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Please pray for Kenzie and Faith

Kenzie is an amazing encouragement to so many women who have experienced the loss of a child. She has been there - her son Maddox only lived for one minute. She has been a huge blessing and support to me through our journey with Chloe. She is pregnant with her third child and there are complications. Please lift up Kenzie, baby Faith, husband Dusty, big brother Deacon and the doctors and nurses caring for her.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

4 Month Anniversary

I have been wanting to post since August 19 - the 4 month anniversary of Chloe's delivery. But, I haven't made the time to sit down, be quiet, and feel. I know it will be hard and the tears will come, so it often feels "inconvenient" so I procrastinate posting. Thoughts run through my head that I want to share, but I haven't sat down to type them out. As we approach Chloe's original due date on September 4, the feelings are starting to spill out and I can feel the tension in my body. I can't procrastinate it any more.

August 19 was actually better than I imagined. On my way to work, I literally thought about how thankful I am. That won't make sense to many people. Although the thought caught me by surprise, I thought about it and realized I really am thankful. I'm thankful that we had Chloe, even though it wasn't enough time for my preference. I'm thankful that we were blessed to spend 5 months with her in the womb. I'm thankful that we were able to see here perfect little body and hear her heartbeat through the ultrasound. I'm thankful that we know she was a girl, named her, and were able to hold her. I'm thankful for the way that she has changed me forever. I'm thankful for the way that she brought me closer to her Daddy. I'm thankful that she was my daughter. And I'm so thankful that she is having the best life possible in Heaven.

As I was thinking about all that, I wondered, "Are you thankful enough that you would do it all over again?" If I had a choice - to not have been pregnant with her and therefore still be in "la la" land, or go through the tragedy of losing her, I still would pick the pain. I suppose it is easier to say that because I know that she wasn't in pain. The impact her little life had on us and so many others, is so precious to me, and so important, that even with tears streaming down my face, I can say that I would rather have walked through it than never met her. And I'm glad I didn't get a vote - because I wouldn't have had the courage to go through this if I was given the option. I wish we could be refined without all the pain, but life on Earth doesn't work that way.

Since I'm a visual person, something I read in a book last year has really stuck with me over the last 6 months. The author was far more eloquent, but you'll get the idea.

There is far more beauty in a crystal cut vase than a plain crystal vase. When the sun touches the crystal cut vase it illuminates with light. It creates beautiful prisms of light throughout the room that dance around the walls and anything in its path. It is something to behold.

But put a plain vase in the sunlight - it isn't as beautiful. It is more dull and doesn't project the light in the same way.

In order for the crystal vase to have the deep sharp edges that allow the light to bounce in so many glorious directions - it has to be cut. The work is precise. It is rough and sharp, yet delicate so that the vase doesn't crack or break completely. There is so much craftsmanship that goes into making a treasured, valuable vase. It is worth the effort because the artisan knows that the results (the purpose of the cutting) are grander than we could ever imagine. And the beauty when it is complete, is well worth the discomfort and work that it took to create the final product.

The plain vase without any grooves, depth, or interest is easier to make. It doesn't require an artisan craftsman and it doesn't take as long. It also doesn't shine as brightly or illuminate the light in the same way. It still serves its purpose - it can hold beautiful flowers, but it doesn't shine in the same way.

I remembered this illustration several months ago and since then have had a beautiful cut vase on our table. It doesn't have flowers in it. It doesn't need them. The vase is the reminder.

We are that crystal cut vase. We have had serious life stuff happen to us. Each painful experience is another deep groove that is cut into us.

My mom's death - cut.

Chloe's diagnosis - cut.

Cut. Cut. Cut.

It is uncomfortable and painful. It is dangerous. It is messy.

It is delicate work that could break us at any minute.

But the Master Craftsman knows exactly what He is doing and He is delicate with us, even through the refining. He doesn't allow more than we can handle, and He protects us along the way. Because He knows what we will look like when we are complete, when the work is done, He allows the process to take place.

And when it is complete, we will radiate His light more deeply, more richly, and more brightly because of the deep grooves in our lives. The deeper the cut, the more brilliantly the Light will shine through. It doesn't make it easy. And it doesn't make it fun.

But I believe His promise that He will work all things for good for those who are called according to His purpose. I know that God had a purpose for Chloe's life, He had a purpose is making us her parents, and He has a purpose for her legacy.

That is all for now. This week is tough as I am anxious about September 4. I don't know how I will feel and I know it is a big milestone. God will get us through it, but we would appreciate your prayers for comfort and peace. Thank you in advance.

Saturday, August 2, 2008


It's another one of those times when I sit down at the computer, not knowing what to say, but aware that a ton of emotion and words will begin to spill out. I have no idea where this post will go- but I know it will bring healing and I will feel better because I took the time.

It is still hard for me to be in my grief. I'm a recovering control freak who wants instant gratification- a bad combination. Feeling uncomfortable and sitting in my pain is really difficult. I want to fix it. I know it is a process and I am doing everything that I can to grieve in a healthy way, yet I don't want it to take so long.

I think I'm making progress but then I wake up clenched and tense from head to toe. My body is telling me that there is a lot under the surface and it is starting to manifest itself physically.

This morning I was thinking about all this again. Something I do way to much - analyze and think. There are so many things that I want to do and they are all good things, but I simply don't have the time or energy to do it all, especially with the high expectations I put on myself. I recognized that the stress I'm feeling is self inflicted. No one else is putting pressure on me - it all coming from inside.

This morning, as I made breakfast, ate, and then prepared things for dinner (huge progress since last weekend when I made three recipes simultaneously) I realized that I really want to be able to do all these things (have energy for my husband, family and friends; volunteer work, work, exercise, cook, ministry, etc.). However, if I continue to put so much pressure on myself now it will catch up with me in the long run.

I think my body is telling me in a physical way that it is too much. I have to slow down and ease some of the pressure. The expectations I put on myself are so high that they are unrealistic – especially for someone who delivered a stillborn baby 3 months ago. It is insanity.

All the things that I want to have energy and time for are good things – but they aren’t the best things. If I continue the way that I am I will crash and burn. My body can’t handle it. Life is all about choices. Every choice has consequences – some good, some bad. The consequence of me focusing so much on my To Do List now is that it could very well take 5 years off of my life. It is too much for a person to handle.

Balance has always been a struggle for me. Maybe this is where the control freak and instant gratification issues become most evident. I want it all – in my power – right now. Life just doesn’t work that way.

Losing Chloe is an example of the fact that I do not have control over everything in my life. And yet, just a few months after her death, I feel like I’m trying to control everything again. Maybe it is the natural response to try to grab tighter for control when you feel as though you have none.

All I know is that it isn’t working. Busyness isn’t helping my grief – it is impeding it. I have to slow down and be still.

Be still.

That is so hard for me. I don’t know if I’m afraid that I’m going to miss something or if I think that the world depends on me for my contribution. Both are lies and distortions of my purpose on Earth. Yet, I constantly find myself battling to get a clear and true perspective.

This is all so familiar. I wondered if I had shared about this battle in prior posts so I went back and found a post I started on June 22 but never finished. As I read it again it encouraged me. Grief is a journey. Life is a journey. Life is hard. God is good.

Here is the post...

My women's small group recently finished reading Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby. We started it before we knew we were pregnant. The first night with the book, our leader asked us to write down our expectations of the study. Here is what I wrote:

Better know and understand who God is at a "heart level."
Establish a deeper, more intimate relationship with Him.
Hear Him when He is speaking to me.
Identify His work in my life.
Believe Him and that His promises are real and for me too.
Adjust me so that I'm more like Him.
Better see what He wants to use me for in my life.
Experience God more and recognize the experiences I've already had with Him.

He has been faithful to meet every expectation. But the truth is; I had no idea what I was asking for when I wrote those words. I didn't know I was pregnant. I didn't know that my life would change forever before we even finished the book.

Through our journey with Chloe I have experienced God like never before. And I truly don't know how I could have gotten through it without Him. Many people have told us that we are doing well in our grief. It isn't easy, but we aren't denying it and we try not to let it consume us. The only reason we are making any progress in our grief is because of God. He has been holding us up every step of the way. He has made Himself so real to us in the last few months.

I've known God since I was in the second grade. I know hymns, children's worship songs, some scripture, the books of the Bible, etc. I haven't always walked closely with the Lord, but I've always known that He was protecting me and watching over me. I've often struggled with God for control. I would give Him frequent vacations from my life, "Don't worry about me, God, I'll take it from here. I've got everything under control." I would work so hard to try to keep everything together. I would get exhausted from operating in my limited strength instead of inviting Him to walk with me and help carry the load.

For two decades, I did it over and over again. I would get so tired from seemingly carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders that I would finally ask God for help. I would finally let Him take the reins instead of me trying to run the show. When I allow Him, He is able to guide me through my life with more ease than I can ever achieve without Him. He would prove that truth to me over and over again, and yet I would still send him on vacation.

I have had several deep experiences with God where I felt His presence and power in my life. Not at a distance, but close. In and around me. Although I wish it wasn't like this, I had to be at a place of brokenness and vulnerability first. I had to have the proper perspective. He is God. I am not.

This post was the reminder that I needed. I need to keep in mind what is most important and what I want my life focus to be. It is easy to get distracted. I’m thankful for God’s grace, patience, and goodness as He gives us just what we need when we need it. All we have to do is be still for a few minutes to hear His voice. I'm going to hand over my heavy load to the One who is stronger than I. Again.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

3 Month Anniversary

It doesn't seem possible that it has been 3 months since we held Chloe for the first and last time. It feels like so much longer in some ways. Like a distant dream. Until I start to think about it. Then the tears come and the pain cuts through my heart and my entire body aches with grief and loss. It is still too much for my mind to comprehend at times. That this is our reality. That we actually held our stillborn baby girl in our arms 3 months ago and we won't see her again on Earth. She won't magically be born healthy on her due date, September 4. She won't be wrapped in the beautiful pink blanket that was hand quilted with love by a ministry at Saddleback Church that made one for each baby in Heaven for the parents in our Empty Arms Support Group.

Today I'm angry. I'm tired. I'm sad. I'm heart broken. I wish it didn't have to be this way.

I'm thankful for the time we had with Chloe and the for the way she impacted our lives and the lives of people who loved her and heard her story. But I also wish we could still have her here. That we could have been changed without losing her. That growth didn't require so much pain. That life could be easy instead of so hard.

The last few days have been hard. I've been anxious, frazzled, and tense. I knew it was because Saturday was approaching and it was the 3 month anniversary of Chloe's delivery. I didn't know what to expect. I assumed it would be easier than the 1st or 2nd month anniversary, but it was still an unknown.

I woke up at 5:30am and couldn't go back to bed. I got busy right away. I was so tense that I felt compelled to let out some of the tension by exterting some energy. That doesn't really work for me - instead I end up trying to do 3 things at once and end up more stressed out. I baked a cake, made breakfast and made lunch - simultaneously. It was insanity.

In hindsight, I think I was trying to be productive because then I could feel like I achieved something. Maybe I needed something tangible, because with grief - it isn't concrete. It is so grey and uncertain. Looking at breakfast, lunch, and dessert showed a result from my effort. I know there is a result from the effort I put into grieving. But for some reason having something tangible helped me to feel better. Plus it was food - which always makes me smile.

When Jose' came down for breakfast I let him know I was fragile and to please not push my buttons or joke around with me. Then I let him know we had a yummy breakfast to celebrate Chloe's 3 month Heaven homecoming. He smiled.

She is in a better place - I know that and believe that with every cell of my body. And yet, I wish she could be here with us. I wish she was here with us to love her, touch her, hear her baby sounds, smell that heavenly baby scent, and just enjoy her. My heart breaks that we didn't have more time with her. I realize there wouldn't have ever been "enough time." No matter how much we had, I would have wanted more. But just one minute to see her take a breath. To see her look into my eyes. To see her hands or feet move. To hear her make a sound. What I would give to experience that with her. My heart aches because I missed out on all those "little things."

I know that I am different because of her. She touched my life in a way that nothing else and no one else could. She has brought me closer to Jose' and closer to God. For that I am deeply grateful. I'm reminded of her impact on our lives daily. In relationships that didn't exist 4 months ago that now touch my heart in deep places. In my willingness to be vulnerable in a way that I never was before. In my desire to talk about how God has been faithful and present in our lives over the last 4 months in ways I never imagined. We are forever changed because of a little girl that never said a word. Never breathed a breath. The weight and impact on our lives is greater than any other experience - and yet she only weighed 7.6 ounces. How is that possible? She was a miracle. And her legacy lives on.

It is good to be here, sharing about Chloe. It makes my heart full. It helps me feel connected to her. I treasure everything that reminds me of her and helps me to feel close to her. There is so much more to share. But...another day. For a little while longer, I just want to "be" with my memories of Chloe.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


Angie Smith introduced me to and now I'm hooked!!! Their free daily devotional has really ministered to me. Two days ago - fear. Today - faith. As I read about faith, I kept thinking, "Yes, that is just how it was with us." Every thing in front of us was new, different, and scary when we heard the news about Chloe. All we did was step out in faith and God did the rest. His grace is sufficient.

Each time I read the word faith in the devotional it reminded me why we named our daughter Chloe Faith. Each day God is showing me the truth of these words. I keep taking one step at a time and God does the rest. One of the many incredible "ah-ha's" as I learn about faith is that I have more peace than ever.

I hope this is an encouragement to take whatever step of faith is before you. He is bigger than any challenge we face. Keep your eyes on Him.

Pick Up Your Umbrella!
by Mary Southerland
from the Girlfriends in God Daily Devotional

Today's Truth

Matthew 21:21-22 I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done.

Friend to Friend

We all have faith! We go to a doctor we hardly know. He hands us a prescription we cannot read. We take that prescription to a pharmacist we have never met. He gives us a medication we do not recognize or understand -- and we take it...all in faith! Faith in God does not come all at once. Faith is a step-by-step process that begins with one small step and increases as we go. An Old Testament story found in Joshua 3 illustrates this truth. Here's the picture!

The Israelites are camped on the bank of the Jordan River . Forty years earlier, they had escaped from Egypt and have been wandering around in the wilderness ever since. All of their needs have been met by God. They have seen miracle after miracle and now they can see Canaan , the Promised Land. However, there is a problem.

A huge river stands between them and the Promised Land and there is no way around it. To make things worse, it is flood season and the usual places to cross are covered with deep, rushing water. The Israelites knew God could stop the river right before their eyes or He could throw a bridge across it - but He doesn't. Instead, He gives Joshua some strange orders.

· First order

The people are to keep an eye on the Ark of the Covenant.

· Second order

As soon as they see the priests carrying the Ark , they are to fall in behind them.

· Third order

Joshua tells the people to expect amazing things to happen.

· Fourth order

Joshua commands the priests to pick up the Ark and stand in the river.

God told His people that He would make a dry path through the river but the priests had never seen that happen. In fact, they hadn't even been born when the Red Sea was parted and there were no reruns of the Ten Commandments at the local Wilderness Theatre. The Israelites had spent their entire adult lives in the wilderness and finally, could see a way out. Oh, and one more problem - the priests couldn't swim! This was probably the first river they have ever been close to. I can imagine their fear and questions. God was asking them to step out in faith as never before.

I don't imagine the Israelites had a great deal of faith in God at that moment, but they had just enough faith to take that first step!

Joshua 3:15-17 During harvest the Jordan overflows its banks. When the priests carrying the Ark came to the edge of the river and stepped into the water, the water upstream stopped flowing. It stood up in a heap. So the people crossed over. (NCV)

Notice that God did nothing until those toes touched the water! That first step was all God needed to see! Many times, we won't take the first step because we're afraid we won't be able to make the whole journey.

Don't wait until you believe it all!
Don't wait until you can see it all!
Don't wait until you understand it all!

Just step out in childlike faith, knowing that every step deposits faith into your spiritual account and strengthens your trust in God. Got doubts? Don't we all? One way to weaken your doubts is by strengthening your faith in God. Some people say it doesn't really matter where we place our faith, as long as our faith is real. I could not disagree more!

A United Press release told of a mid-western hospital where officials discovered that the firefighting equipment had never been connected. For 35 years, the medical staff and the patients had believed in this system, but it had never been attached to the city's water main. The pipe that led from the building extended 4 feet underground -- and then stopped. The expensive equipment was adequate for the building but it lacked the most important thing -- water! Yes, their faith was real but it was dangerously misplaced! We can play the religious games, say the right words and do good things, but if we do not place our faith in God, we are on dangerous ground.

A small country town was in desperate need of rain. One Sunday morning, the pastor of the church called for a special prayer meeting that night. The people gathered and when the pastor stood to lead the prayer time, his words stunned the crowd. "Only one of you came in faith." He looked down at the first row where a little girl sat - her umbrella in her hand. We can pray for rain, but we have faith when we pick up the umbrella!

Let's pray

Father God, I seem to have so little faith so much of the time. The mountains before me seem so tall and the raging rivers seem so deep. Help me take that first, tiny step of faith -- through my fear, through my doubts -- and even if it seems illogical. I want to live by faith, not by sight, Lord. Please help my faith grow with each step I take.
In Jesus' name I pray, Amen

Now it's Your Turn

How would you define faith?

How strong is your faith -- on a scale of 1 to 10, using one as the weakest level.

Create an acrostic using the word "faith" to illustrate your thoughts on faith:

F _______________________________

A _______________________________

I _______________________________

T ________________________________

H ________________________________

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Often I long to post something on the blog. To connect. To reach out. To get the thoughts out of my head. I feel like my brain is a pin ball machine. The thoughts move so quickly from one idea, question, or concern to the next. Boing. Boing. They move so fast that I can barely keep up with them. Sometimes it feels like there are two balls bouncing around at once. I don’t feel relief until the ball stops – when I shoot the words out of my head.

I heard someone say they have a Ferrari mind in a Saturn body – that is how I feel most of the time. The truth is, my mind worked this way before Chloe was born, but now there is another layer of emotions and thoughts that bounce around inside my head. I have to remind myself to stop the madness and be still, pray, and step back to get perspective so I can redirect my thinking. It is a lot of work these days to take every thought captive and try to live in the moment. Trusting that God will take care of our future and that I don't need to know everything in advance.

My weekend was amazing. Alpha Delta Pi Leadership Seminar was in Atlanta from Wednesday through Sunday. It is always wonderful to spend time with my ADPi sisters from around the country and Canada, to get fired up, and gather tons of new ideas. It was that and more.

The more is the part I’d like to share. Eight moms who have shared their stories of loss through their blogs met in Atlanta, GA for the Beth Moore conference. Part of the reason why this is all such a miracle is because I live in CA and they are from TX, PA, TN, NY, etc. They are women I had never met face to face, never heard their voices before, or even knew they existed 3 months ago. Just being with them for an hour was balm to my grieving heart.

Their gathering marked the 1 year anniversary of Miller Grace’s death and was a special time to honor the lives of their sons and daughters who are in Heaven dancing with Jesus. It was beautiful to see them together. It was a miracle to be able to join them and a gracious gift that they were willing to welcome me. I was honored to be with these women who have been an inspiration during my journey. There are no words to describe how meaningful it was to be with them. It was like allowing a visitor into a Ya-Ya Sisterhood secret meeting. Their time was sacred and precious and they allowed me to be part of it. Thank you Kenzie, Emily, Kim, Kristy, Angie, Yvette, Chrissy and Karen. I could never adequately describe how much it meant to be with you.

I couldn’t stop smiling when I was with them. I felt so happy and at peace just being in their presence. If I started to cry I knew I would break down in tears, have blurred vision, and then I couldn’t capture every second in my mind to recall later. So I waited until they left and then it hit me. It was such a precious meeting, but too brief.

The rest of the weekend was filled with seeing friends who knew about Chloe and some who hadn’t even heard I was pregnant. It was a strange balancing act. I wish I could say that I wasn’t trying to balance all of it and that I was able to be “real” all the time, but that wouldn’t be true. I realized quickly that I couldn’t continue to tell the story over and over all weekend. It was too difficult. I love Chloe’s story and I love to talk about her. But recalling and retelling everything over and over so soon after her passing was more than I could handle. There were times when I wanted to talk about her and people may have been afraid to ask or there wasn’t time to adequately share how special and important Chloe’s life was even though it was so short.

There were many times that I felt like if I wasn’t “on” that I would break down in a puddle of tears and not be able to stop crying. And then I might miss something good. I didn’t want to miss a minute. I knew I could break down at home when everything started to sink in. So, here I am, tears flowing. Feeling like an emotional wreck, yet knowing that the tears need to flow in order to heal. And that most of the tears are tears of love, joy, gratitude and praise.

Part of what made the weekend difficult is that when I saw my friends who knew about Chloe their love and support was overwhelming. The way they looked at me, asked how I was doing, and really cared. They were comforting, consoling and loving – just what I needed, but also what overwhelms me. I’m so blessed to have so many beautiful heart friends.

In my mind, there are acquaintances, friends, and heart friends. Heart friends are treasures. The relationship transcends most other friendships and you know when you have a heart friend in an instant. Your heart tells you. There is a feeling that you have experienced something incredible just by connecting with them. You feel it so deeply that you know your friendship will never be the same and that this person will have a special place in your heart forever. Your friendship is special. It is different. It is more.

I’m blessed to have so many heart friends. I’m thankful that because of Chloe, I have friends that have been upgraded to heart friends. Thank you to all my heart friends who reached out with hugs, offers to pray together, looks of confidence and encouragement this weekend. My heart is full because of you.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

2 Month Anniversary

After reading my post from one month ago I'm amazed at how faithful God has been in helping me with my grief. I'm not "over it," but I'm making progress. And progress is all that I can ask. The pain and loss won't magically disappear. And the alternative to progress is avoidance - and that isn't an option I will consider.

Since today is a type of anniversary, I knew it might be tough, so I tried to make it a really low key day. I caught up on some of my friends blogs because their words always comfort and soothe my broken heart. They encourage and give me hope. Then I spent time remembering Chloe.

I brought everything that reminds me of her into the guestroom (which would have been Chloe's bedroom). The pillow sham we wrapped around her in the hospital that we now keep on our bed. The little pink blossom urn that holds her ashes. The sand we collected from the beach two days before the ultrasound when there was no heart beat. A candle with the pink ribbon around it that we had tied around my pregnant belly at the beach that day. The pink elephant a sweet friend gave me when I returned from the hospital (that I slept with for about a week because I needed every ounce of comfort I could find). The pink and green box that holds every loving card we received during our journey. The blanket my sister-in-law gave us for the hospital that says Chloe Faith. The pink & leopard skin baby ballet slippers I received from my goddaughters. The gold coin from Korea that my associate bought after she heard Chloe had passed that commemorates the year she was born. I sprayed the Chloe perfume my brother and sister-in-law gave me in the hospital as an early birthday present. And put on "night blooming jasmine" lotion since Chloe means blooming. I lit the candle for Chloe and the candle we lit at our wedding to honor and remember my mom. I looked a the footprints the hospital made and the pictures they took. And our camera that has pictures of Chloe and us holding her. It was almost like a shrine. Strange and spooky to some, yet so wonderful to me. I brought in everything I could that is a tangible reminder of her. I smiled as I looked at all of it. And then I cried. Because this "stuff" is all I can physically hold on to since she isn't here.

She wouldn't even been here now, actually. She would still be in my belly until Sep. 4, her due date. So, in some ways, I feel like the reality of how our life has changed hasn't really hit. She would still be in the womb. I would be wearing maternity clothes. I wouldn't be drinking gallons of Diet Coke each day. But I still wouldn't have a precious baby girl in my arms. So, in some ways, it feels like the hardest days are still ahead of us, even though the first few weeks after her death were so gut-wrenching.

Reading every card we received touched my heart. The tears flowed continuously. I felt comforted and loved all over again. People were so kind to reach out to us during the darkest time in our lives. Thank you. We love you for being there for us.

Looking at pictures of Chloe was hard. So hard. The hardest part of all. My mind had blocked out how sick she was. Her little body was so sick. It breaks my heart to see my poor baby girl so sick. I am so grateful that she never experienced pain. That is a huge comfort. And I know that today she is whole and healthy and having a blast in heaven. That brings me joy - true joy. I know she is in the best place possible. But to remember how sick she was on earth is hard. Really hard.

I remember the first time I saw her on the ultrasound. She was so tiny. Jose' was with me and we fell in love with her right away. She was only 8 weeks but we could see her. See and hear her heart beat. Her head. Her "soon-to-be" limbs. It was awesome!!

And the second time I saw her. At about 13 weeks. While we were looking at the ultrasound screen she kicked her leg. It was such a precious gift. She looked perfect in the ultrasound. Absolutely beautiful. The doctors could see how sick she was in the ultrasound, but we couldn't. That was a blessing. I still have a perfect image of her in my mind from that ultrasound. And her short life as she kicked her leg. What a blessing.

I never did feel her move inside of me. Maybe there was enough movement since I was at 20 weeks when she was delivered, but I never recognized it. But she was there. She was alive. For 19 precious weeks. And I wouldn't trade a minute. If avoiding all this pain meant not having her at all, I would still gladly take the pain. I wish things could have been different and she was still growing inside me, healthy and whole. But even though that wasn't the plan, I still would choose the time we had with her over nothing at all.

The first week after she was born I remember looking at the clock each night at 9:40pm to determine how many days it had been since she was delivered. Every Wednesday reminded me of how many weeks it had been since we first received the fatal diagnosis. Wednesday also marked how long it had been since the final ultrasound. Every Saturday reminded me how many weeks it had been since we saw her face to face. It seemed every minute, every day, everything reminded me of Chloe. It isn't quite like that now at 2 months. It isn't every minute or every day. It isn't everything. It isn't even every Wednesday or Saturday. The loss is still there, the hole is still there. But it isn't as paralyzing as it was in the first few weeks. It has become more bearable. Thank you God.

The grieving mommy's I've met through the blogs said it would be like that. And that promise helped me get through those difficult days.

It won't always hurt this bad.

The pain won't always be this raw.

I knew it was true because I had experienced grief when my mom died. Now, 23 years later the pain isn't the same. The loss and pain are still there. The void is still there. But the pain isn't all-consuming like it was at first. Thank you God.

Today was a special day to remember my precious little girl. I'm grateful to have had it. I'm grateful to have a day to remember her life and the impact she made on my life and so many others. I'm grateful she was my daughter. I'm proud to have been her mother. I hope to give her a little brother or sister some day. And I know I will see her again in Heaven.

One last remembrance of Chloe...a friend sent us the Watermark CD with the song Glory Baby. The lyrics rang in my head continuously. They still touch my heart...

Glory Baby, You slipped away
As fast as we could say baby, baby
You were growing, what happened Dear,
You disappeared on us baby, baby
Heaven will hold you before we do
Heaven will keep you safe
Until we're home with you
Until we're home with you

We miss you everyday
Miss you in every way
But we know there's a day
When we will hold you, we will hold you
And you'll kiss our tears away
When we're home to stay
We can't wait for the day
When we will see you, we will see you
But baby let sweet Jesus hold you
‘Til mom and dad can hold you
You'll just have heaven before we do
You'll just have heaven before we do

Sweet little baby, it's hard to understand it
Cause we are hurting, we are hurting
But there is healing
And we know we're stronger people
Through the growing and in knowing
All things work together for our good
And God works his purposes
Just like he said he would
Just like he said he would

We miss you everyday
Miss you in every way
But we know there's a day
When we will hold you, we will hold you
And you'll kiss our tears away
When we're home to stay
We can't wait for the day
When we will see you, we will see you
But baby let sweet Jesus hold you
‘Til mom and dad can hold you
You'll just have heaven before we do
You'll just have heaven before we do

I can't imagine Heaven's lullabies
And what they must sound like
But I will rest in knowing
Heaven is your home
And it's all you'll ever know
All you'll ever know

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


We make many choices. And many are made for us. We chose to try to get pregnant. We didn't choose which egg and sperm would create our baby. God chose to bless us with Chloe. We didn't choose for her to have severe Down Syndrome. We didn't choose to have her die in the womb. We don't have a choice about our circumstances. But we have a choice in how we respond to our circumstances.

If someone told me that the first few weeks after our loss I would have wanted to punch them. But it is true. And I'm glad that I'm in a place where I understand that fact. I'm even more thankful that God has given me the strength to make good choices and be strong in situations that have been difficult. It is truly His power, not mine, that has enabled me to get through the last few months.

We have a choice about our attitude and our perspective. We have a choice to heal or to hide from our pain. This choice came to my attention during our Empty Arms Support Group meeting last week. One of the moms shared how difficult it is to be at her childrens events when she is still hurting. She said, "I don't have a choice." She has to care for her living children by going to their school events and social occasions. Another mom mentioned that she does have a choice. She could choose not to be there for her living children. She could hide in the house for the rest of her life and keep her children with her. She has a choice, and she is making a choice by being a good mom to her children in the midst of her grief. It really hit me when she said we DO have a choice. I hadn't really considered it before.

When my mom died I didn't know how to grieve. I didn't really know that I had a choice, because I didn't know there were other options. I didn't know about support groups or anyone else who had lost a parent. So, I chose what was in front of me because I didn't know what else to do. I just went on with life without addressing the loss or the pain. And I found that doesn't work. It keeps us stuck emotionally if we don't deal with our "stuff." And we end up with a lot of people who are emotionally still children but in adult bodies.

This time around, intellectually, I guess I knew that I had a choice. I could choose to hide from my grief. Pretend the last few months never really happened and just move on with life. I could choose to numb the pain with alcohol or pills. There are a lot of options. But those choices don't have any chance of a happy ending. They just postpone the pain and create more problems. And those choices would keep me from the things I really want in life. They are options, but I choose to do something else.

My choice is to walk through the pain. To feel it. To talk about it. To acknowledge it. Even when it feels like it is so heavy and painful that I could literally split in two. Because if I don't I will lose even more. I've already lost my daughter. I don't want to lose years of my life hiding from reality. I don't want to lose relationships because I'm more committed to my pain and loss than I am to my blessings and provisions. My choice is to live. Chloe didn't have that choice. But her Dad and I do, and we owe her a life well lived. In honor of her. It would be even more of a waste if our friends and family lost Jose' and I along with Chloe.

This really hit home for me when I talked with a friend about a similar situation. Someone in her life experienced a loss like ours and the woman made a different choice. She chose to numb her pain with pills. She didn't grieve the loss of her baby, she chose to "check out" of life. She numbs her pain and is in a constant fog because of the drugs. She doesn't feel the pain, she probably doesn't feel much of anything. She isn't even the same person. Her friends and family lost her when she lost her baby. It breaks my heart. We have a choice. I wish she had made a different choice. But, the choice is ours alone to make.

On Sunday, Jose' and I were in the prayer room and someone came for prayer for her new baby. We had been pregnant at the same time, but I don't think she remembered that and she didn't remember our loss either. I was a little nervous about my ability to pray for her without breaking down so I asked another couple to pray for them. I made a choice.

Then a teenage girl came in for prayer. There was no one else available so I sat down with her and asked her how I could pray for her. When she told me she was four months pregnant and terrified I was taken aback. Not because she was pregnant and unwed, but because I was surprised that God would choose to have me pray for someone under these circumstances so soon after our loss. Did He chose to have me pray for her or did He choose for me to pray with the first couple but I said "no"? I don't know the answer.

Because of my choice with the first opportunity to pray, my choices were kind of limited at this point. I don't believe in coincidence so I knew that God had a reason for this scared young woman to come for prayer and that God would be with me as I prayed for her. So, I silently prayed "Help me Lord," caught my breath and then prayed for her. Truly, half the time I didn't know what I was saying. God was with us both in that room. He gave me the words to support, comfort and encourage her. She doesn't know my story and she probably never will. But I hope to see her again and that she has a healthy baby that she will dedicate to the Lord. I hope that she will make the best choices she can. We all have a choice. Not that it is easy. But I think the benefits of making the best choices out way the challenges.

Later that day I was thinking about the entire experience. "Why Lord? Why me? Why now? Don't you think it is a little early for this type of challenge?" I don't have answers for any of the questions. But I was reminded about "choices." I had a choice, I could have said no. In fact, I did say no to the first opportunity to pray. And with this young girl, I still could have said, "I can't pray for you, let me tell you what just happened to me". I could have broken down and started crying and made it more about me than her. I had a choice. But what good would that have been? It wouldn't have helped her and it wouldn't have been good for me.

I didn't choose the road we are on. But I can choose how I make the trip. I don't plan to skip down the road smiling like nothing happened. But I do plan to move forward. And when there are flowers to smell and enjoy on the way, I plan to enjoy them as often as I remember to stop and take the time. And if there are people that need help along the way, I would like to be able to help them. That means that I have to work through my own "stuff." If I don't, I won't be of any use to others.

People are watching. What do they see? I can't live my life worrying about what other people think of me. But it is good to be aware. What message does my life communicate? They will notice how I choose to live my life. My niece and nephew will notice. My friends will notice. Colleagues will notice. And what will they see?

I want them to see someone who is real. Not perfect. Not "together" all the time. But someone who recognizes that life is hard. But life is also good. And that God is good all the time. Someone that doesn't have all the answers, but isn't afraid to ask the questions. Someone that struggles with giving up control, but is learning and growing each year. Someone that is moving forward. Someone that makes mistakes, but doesn't give up. Someone with hope and a future. Someone who tries to make the "best" choice as often as possible.

We all make choices. And everyone has an audience that is watching how they live. They probably won't ever tell you, but they notice. I know because we have heard so many comments from people who have walked this journey with us and have shared their observations of how we have handled our challenges.

And that woman that came in for prayer was watching too. She didn't know what to expect. She was scared and uncertain and in need. And my reaction sent a message to her about who she was. If I chose to focus on my pain, I couldn't have been there to help her with hers. Putting my pain aside for a few minutes was the best gift I could give her. And the only reason I could put my pain aside for a few minutes is because of the healing that has taken place. The first few weeks the pain was huge and raw and I would never have been able to support someone else. But God has been working in me and healing my pain. I've been doing the grief work that needs to happen to heal and move forward. And only through that healing can I be of help to others. And I choose to do the work so that I might be able to help others.

Choices. In some ways, I guess they are more important than circumstances. For someone that likes control, I suppose it is nice to know that we are in control of something. I am in control of how I choose to live my life and respond or react to what happens. I won't always make the right choice, but I'm thankful there are second chances and that we have the choice to learn from our mistakes.

I choose to live. I choose to honor Chloe's life by sharing her story and being a light to others who are hurting. I choose to continue through the grief process until I'm at the end. I choose to remember my little girl. I choose to have the courage to try to give her a brother or a sister even though the thought scares me at times. I choose to move forward. Remembering the past, with hope for the future.

I choose to live the life I've been given.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Jose's Thoughts on Getting Back to Life

What a great idea, and goal to have. It's been difficult getting back to life and living in our “new normal." I have crazy thoughts sometimes, it’s as if Kirsten and I are living in a dream and this never happened to us. Then reality sets in and the severity of our situation zaps me out of my temporary happiness. At that point, I can only rely on God to see us through this. Watching Kirsten grieve and continually stride to be better and do better is a silent testimonial to me. It demonstrates that my darling wife is loving, caring and sharing God’s love with me and all of you. I guess as a man, I have begun to grieve in my own way. I have good times and bad. The bad seem to stick in my mind a little more. I tend to loose myself in my work as the “provider” but what importance does this have in the big picture? God will sustain us and will continue to provide for our well-being. I just desire to learn from this experience and have a much more grounded perspective on what is really important. (God, Family, Church, Relationships and Work). I guess there is only one thing to do “let go and let God do His thing” God Bless!!!!


Back to Life

This week felt a lot more like my real life. Jose' keeps getting surprised when I have dinner ready, laundry done, errands done, etc. all in the same day. There have been many days when I haven't had the energy or drive to do more than 1 or 2 things. It sounds strange to say it, but it is a "luxury" that I have had time and space over the last month to grieve. I've met many moms who have little ones who don't have that same "luxury" and it is difficult. Time and space has helped me regain my strength so that I can get back into life. I'm so thankful. I'm not "done" with my grieving, but I'm stronger.

Tomorrow we begin our Sunday School rotation. Jose will teach Grades 3-5 and I'll teach the 3-4 year olds. I love those kids and am excited to see them, but of course a little nervous too. I was pregnant the last time I taught. The kids didn't know that and won't remember. But some of the parents will and they may not have heard about our loss. The "first interactions" after loss can be awkward and difficult. We get through them but I never know what to expect. Tamara wrote a wonderful post about the words that comfort and hurt those who are already in pain. I highly recommend this for people who don't know what to say to someone grieving

On Monday I go back to work. I'm excited and nervous at the same time. More "first interactions." I sent an email to coworkers who knew about the pregnancy to let them know about our loss so they could "hide" from me on Monday if they wanted to. :o) I totally understand. I sent them the link to our blog so they could read the whole story. I knew I would break down if I tried to explain everything over and over. I love to talk about Chloe and share our story, but since I'm already nervous about returning to work that might have been too hard. I would really scare people if I had a breakdown in the copy room! I'm pretty sure my eyes will well up several times when I talk to people who understand and truly care and I'm OK with that. I'd like to prevent a sob fest though.

Yesterday I finally met, in person, my friend Jayne from perinatal hospice. We spent three hours talking and getting to know each other. It was wonderful!! She is so precious and was such a miracle in our journey with Chloe. I can't wait to see what God has planned for perinatal hospice in our area. I was so fired up after our lunch - and it has been months since I've felt like that. It was a great feeling.

Before I met with Jayne I read about the death of a baby to SIDS. It was another blow to a family that was already hurting. My head couldn't comprehend the fact that they had experienced another loss.

How would the children make sense of it?

How was everyone coping?

How could this happen again?

And so soon?

I know that God will bring good from all this and I'm not supposed to be able to understand His ways. But I can't even get a grasp on the facts - forget trying to find meaning. I was excited to see Jayne but I was also feeling numb and shaken from reading another story of loss. Talking with Jayne reminded me of how grateful I am for the support she gave us at one of the lowest times in our journey. There aren't words to describe the impact she made on me the first time we spoke. I am forever grateful for her kindness and empathy - it changed our lives.

And it ignited a passion in me about helping other women get the same support and information when they receive a terminal diagnosis. It made such a difference in our situation and I know there are many women who don't have the same opportunity. I don't know what to do with this passion yet, people say that I will be more effective helping other mom's once I have a healthy baby on earth. I trust their judgement but my heart aches knowing that women are receiving fatal diagnoses every day and walk away alone, without information or hope. It doesn't have to be like that! And it doesn't have to cost a ton of money! All Jayne did was talk to me on the phone and everything changed. It can be like that for others. I don't know what it will look like but I'm going to keep "squawking" about it to OB's, genetics counselors and anyone else who will listen in the hope that they will give women the opportunity to name and hold their babies. And the contact info. for someone who has been down this road so they won't feel so alone. They can contact me.

If you relate to this, I would love to hear your story. What support did you receive? What was your experience? I don't know what I'll do with this information, but I want to tap into this passion while it is aflame. If you are willing to share, I would love to read your story.

If you are an OB, Genetics Counselor, L & D nurse or someone who comes in contact with families who find themselves on this journey, please give them this blog address. Please let them know they don't have to walk this road alone. There are so many of us who would like to love and support them in their pain.

The day we got home from the hospital after Chloe was delivered I was talking with a new friend whose journey looked very different from mine. When her Dr. saw there was not heartbeat during her prenatal visit he gave her the address of the family planning clinic that would take care of her. She was in shock and didn't know what to do or what options were available. She followed his advice and is still angry about how he handled it. She was never told she could deliver her baby, hold her baby, find out for sure she was a girl. Take pictures, love on her and share her with family members. She was never given the opportunity.

That pain doesn't just "go away." She is still hurting. My heart aches for her and reminds me what a gift it was that I was given options and information. I want more women to have stories that echo mine, not hers. She is doing wonderful things now to support other women who are hurting - God is using her and her pain. He is bringing beauty from ashes. I believe that with more information people wouldn't have to work through so many ashes.

I'm beginning to get back to life. But it is a new life. It is richer and more meaningful because of my daughter. I'm forever changed. Her legacy is important. I'll keep talking about her, perinatal hospice, support for couples who have experienced a loss and anything else that I hear about that helps. I'm not trying to save the world, but if it makes a difference for one...

Making a Difference

An old man was strolling along a beach one day. In the distance he saw a young boy and girl reach down, pick something up and throw it back into the sea.

Drawing nearer, he saw that the sand was littered with thousands of small stranded sand dollars.
The children were patiently picking them up, one at a time, and returning them to safety below the water.

"What are you doing?" he asked.

"Saving sand dollars," replied the children as they continued about the job at hand.

The old man, somewhat jaded by age, thought the children's actions were futile.

"But the beach is littered with dying sand dollars. What possible difference can you make by doing this?"

The young girl bent over, picked up another, and threw it with all her might. With a plop the sand dollar sank safely below the water. Then, turning to the old man, she said with all the wisdom of a child:

"I made a difference for that one."

This story came to mind yesterday at lunch with Jayne. And it came to mind again while writing this post. As I typed the story, I have to laugh...we live on Sand Dollar Ct.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Life is Good

It was so strange when those words came out my mouth last night. I was surprised. I was taken off guard. And yet it is true. Life is good. Life is hard - really hard right now. But my life is good.

Laura Bush was in town at a book signing for the new children's book she wrote with her daughter Jenna - Read All About It. It is an adorable book! Jose' and 3 girlfriends came along to meet her and get the book signed. We waited in a long line in the rain - how does that happen in sunny California during Memorial Day weekend?

In full disclosure, I should mention the first 5 minutes weren't so much fun. I arrived early and was in line alone. There was a precious little baby girl directly in front of me and a pregnant woman behind me talking about prenatal vitamins and cesareans. Since I was alone I didn't have an escape - I started to freak out a little. I called my husband three times trying to get through to him. Hearing his voice mail was better than the conversation behind me. I felt trapped and then he finally arrived to save me. It was one of those, "Are you kidding me?" moments. There is a huge line and the only infant and pregnant woman I see are directly in front of and behind me. What luck!?!

Everyone arrived soon and the baby and the pregnant lady no longer had my attention. We talked and laughed as we waited to see Laura. We checked out the cute Secret Service men for my single friend. We shared plans for the weekend, recaps about the day and whatever came to mind. It was totally normal. It was so nice.

We met Laura, had our books signed, Jose' went home to watch the Laker's and Angel's games and the girls went to dinner. We were seated in big cushy chairs, still glowing from seeing the First Lady, Diet Coke was flowing, the food was served and looked amazing, three great girlfriends were with me and then it happened. "Life is good" came out of my mouth. Silence. In my mind I started questioning myself, "Did I really just say that? That didn't just come out of my mouth. How could it? Did I forget the storm I'm still in?"

Then I found the answer, "Life is good." Life is really hard - more frequently than I would like. But my life is really good too. I have dear friends that I enjoy and who love me, support me and laugh with me. Enough money to buy books and dinner. I got to meet the First Lady of the best country in the world. I have a husband who loves me. We have a home, multiple cars, jobs and money in the bank. We're healthy and our family members are relatively healthy. I have a great life. There are things that I could complain about - and I do, trust me. But all in all, I have it pretty good. And unfortunately, I don't always remember the great things I have in my life. The good life coexists with pain.

There are so many blessings, even in the midst of extreme loss and pain. I'm grateful. I'm thankful. I'm full. There will be more times when I feel empty - and it could be 15 minutes from now. But right now, I am full and I am happy. The crazy thing about grief is that I can move from happy to sad in an instant - and without warning. It is part of the process. Last night was a turning point for me. I was OK enjoying "happy." I didn't feel guilty. I enjoyed it. I was present in that moment. I over analyzed it, but that is what I do, and it will require counseling to correct.

I typically want to blog when I'm sad so I wanted to be sure to share this happy experience. In talking with a few people who have read the blog they were under the impression that I hadn't left the house and was in a really dark place. I have very low points in my grief, but they pass. Most of the time I'm doing OK. It seems like I have one really bad day a week but the rest of the time I'm able to run errands, etc. My energy isn't what it used to be, yet. Sometimes I don't have the energy to answer the phone, but that passes too. Grief is a moment to moment experience. And even when I'm at my lowest, I know it is only temporary. I want to remember that. But I also want to enjoy the good times - not focus on the fact that they will pass too. Life is such a balancing act.

Thank you to all my new friends in the blogosphere. You are such an encouragement and comfort. I love to hear that people are visiting the blog and to read the comments and emails. They are such a blessing! When I'm having sad moments that support makes such a difference and means the world to me. You'll never know how much they help.

Many of you have heard the Mercy Me song Bring the Rain. The lyrics remind me that God is bigger than our pain. And it is true that because of the pain I'm able to recognize the joy and appreciate it even more. I wouldn't choose the pain, but I am able to see the beauty in the storm.

I can count a million times
People asking me how I
Can praise You with all that I've gone through
The question just amazes me
Can circumstances possibly
Change who I forever am in You
Maybe since my life was changed
Long before these rainy days
It's never really ever crossed my mind
To turn my back on you, oh Lord
My only shelter from the storm
But instead I draw closer through these times
So I pray

Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory
And I know there'll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that's what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain

I am Yours regardless of
The dark clouds that may loom above
Because You are much greater than my pain
You who made a way for me
By suffering Your destiny
So tell me what's a little rain
So I pray

Holy, holy, holy
Is the Lord God Almighty

I just remembered, Mercy Me is performing at the fair in July and we will be there to hear them sing this song. Life is good.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

1 Month

I feel a little guilty for posting such random thoughts. The posts I like to read are eloquent and uplifting. This one is not.

Monday was one month since Chloe was delivered. I think I had my emotional breakdown on Friday because I was so nervous and anxious in anticipation of Monday. I was a wreck on Friday but since then I have been doing pretty well. Spending time with friends has kept me busy and my mind occupied. It is strange. Most of the time when I'm busy, I don't think about my grief and all my feelings. I almost feel normal. And then I remember that one month isn't much time at all. I think I still move in and out of denial and that is why I am able to function well at times.

We went to church over the weekend and the topic was "The Eye of the Storm." It was so timely. I realized my mind is working overtime in a big way. During the service my mind kept wondering about Chloe. Then I would scold myself, "Why are you thinking about this, pay attention!" Then I remembered, the topic was the storms of life and we are in the midst of one. It was normal and good to connect my feelings and experience with the message. Too frequently I am hard on myself as I try to figure out what stage of grief I'm in, if I'm doing it right, if I'm moving through it and making progress toward healing. I put so much pressure on myself. I want to figure out where I am in the grief cycle so I can determine how far away I am from the end. When I'll feel "whole" again. But it doesn't work that way. I understand that intellectually, and yet my brain keeps playing the same game. Am I "there" yet? Am I done with this pain? Am I "OK" again? It just doesn't work that way, unfortunately. Plus, it has only been a month and grief takes time.

Even though my mind works overtime like that too often, I'm still in a mental fog most of the time. I can't think of the question I was going to ask or the topic we were just discussing. My mind goes completely blank. There are so many feelings and thoughts under the surface, yet it is like my brain is on overload so it just shuts down. I try to write an email and I can't find the words. I want to talk but I don't know what to say. I feel disconnected from myself. It is so strange. I don't like it.

We went to the baseball game on Sunday and there were so many adorable children. I was glad that I didn't feel jealous or angry. Instead, I was longing for one of my own. I thought about how great it will be for us to have a healthy baby to love. I don't think it was a longing for Chloe because I know that she is in a better place. Things would be so different if she hadn't been so sick. Of course I wish things could have been different and that she could be born on Sep. 4 perfect and healthy. But that wasn't an option.

When I have these thoughts, I ask myself again, "am I grieving correctly?" Am I really longing for a future child or am I in denial about Chloe's death? I jump way ahead. Physically I'm not ready to get pregnant, so why do I need to have all these answers right now? I guess I want to control something that is out of my control. Instead of putting pressure on myself, I have to stop and remind myself - people who are trying to avoid grief probably don't ask themselves these questions. I'm over thinking it way too much.

This feels like a bunch of rambling that doesn't make sense. But I needed to get some of this out of my head. It doesn't make any more sense now that I see it in front of me, but at least it isn't rattling around in my brain anymore. Thanks for letting me "dump."