Monday, November 23, 2015

Friends of the Grieving

Dear friends,

You know that precious young-married girl next door? The one that always wears her huge smile with whatever she has on and is always radiant?! You know that "older" mom from church with her 3 kids in tow? And of course you know your beautiful best friend. The one you talk to almost daily and share everything with?

She just lost her baby.

The baby was born too early. The baby was sick. The baby fell asleep in the crib and never woke up.

Are you dreaming? No, it's actually a nightmare. Their nightmare and yet you're devastated.

You're heartbroken for them and with them. Your sadness and grief for their loss feels overwhelming and it's not even your journey to walk. But it is yours to share. A burden that you can help carry while they trudge through a deep valley.

What do you do when you see them? What do you say? Do you bring it up? Is it better not to say anything? So much confusion and uncertainty make it scary... awkward... uncomfortable.

First of all, remember that everyone grieves differently. There is no one way for them to grieve, and there is not one way that is best for you to respond. But, there are definitely some general guidelines I'd love to share from my own experience.

What to say and do:

  • PRAY FOR THEM-- For them to know the truth of His Word, for the Lord to be present in all decisions, for His promises to be evident in their lives, for her physical healing, for healthy grieving, for people to be the hands and feet of Jesus to serve them, for people to have grace, for them to have the support they need, for their memories to be sweet and strong, to be free of any guilt or fear, for the future of their family, for their marriage to be strengthened, for their friends and family to be loving and compassionate, for their walk with the Lord to be intimate, for redemption of their pain, for the Lord to use their pain for His glory, for the grieving grandparents and family members, for discernment and wisdom as they move forward, for restoration and healing... Cover them in prayer. 
  • Say few words ("I'm so sorry...", "We love you", "I'm praying for y'all..." if you are, "You are in my thoughts/ on my heart." That's about it! But be authentic.)
  • Be sensitive to your surroundings and the mood. (Are you at church? In a grocery store? What is appropriate for where you are?)
  • Be gentle and give them grace! This is uncharted territory.
  • Send a card or FB message telling them of the impact that their love, their faith, their child or their story has had on you
  • Show up. If there is an opportunity to bring a meal, cut their grass, drop off a gift card, or tangibly serve them, do it. Just don't overstep.
  • Defer to someone close to the family, but not the couple, to ask questions or clarify needs. Most families generally have someone that is helping organize the day to day needs.
If you know them well and are good friends in their circle (or you met the baby personally):
  • Do the above
  • Ask questions like "What did you love most about your time with him/her?", "What will you remember most about your time together?", "What was your favorite feature?", "What do you need?"
  • Be available and present.
  • Share in their tears. 
  • Bring up the baby (if you sense they'd like to talk). **The worst for me was when I felt like people acted like it hadn't happened. I later learned that they were fearful of making me cry, but they didn't realize that I was always on the verge of tears anyways and it would have been nice to cry with someone rather than do it alone. 
What not to say and do:
  • Do not try to fill the void. The most hurtful words are often the ones that people say carelessly or in an effort to comfort you. The problem is people don't realize they usually sound empty, condescending, or trite in the face of what you are walking. 
  • Do not say things reminding them of God's plan and purpose for their life. Sending them actual scripture is great, but not your interpretation of it. "God has a purpose in all of this", "God needed another angel" (people don't become angels), "He works all things together for the good", "He knows best", "God will never give you more than you can handle" (untrue!)
  • Do not comment on their reproductive abilities or ask when they are going to try for another baby. "You're young, honey. You can have another baby!" 
  • Don't show up unannounced or uninvited. Unless you are leaving a card or meal at their door, be sure to schedule with them.
  • Don't have certain expectations of how they will grieve. Everyone walks this road differently. Christian's grieve and weep and wonder why, too. Don't make them feel like they are "strong enough" that they need to be okay.
  • Don't ignore it or act like it didn't happen. A very real piece of their life is gone and even if it was a short time, their child graced this earth. They want to know that the life of their baby mattered. 
  • Don't stare or point. This seems easy enough, but unfortunately it happens.
Most importantly, love well and be discerning in your words and actions. Be encouraging in the reality that is now theirs and share in their burden. Our natural tendency is to want to do something, but often there is little that can be done. Prayer covers all!

As grieving people, we also have to have an abundance of grace for the good intentions of those around us. Stepping back into a different life is often scary and feels very exposed. It is a process of finding yourself in the grief and living again in the Lord's strength alone.

**This is not meant to be all encompassing or be true to every situation. As mentioned, everyone grieves differently, especially men and women. This is from my perspective as a woman, although my husband agrees with almost everything for him as well.

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Decade of Family

A little emotional last night as I recalled the events of that exact Tuesday night a decade ago. How is it possible that Deacon is TEN years old? A DECADE? What is happening? I truly believe that the saying "the days are long but the years are short" is completely accurate. It's exciting and scary and defeating and life-giving.

I read a beautiful post yesterday from Ann Voskamp and she talked about family being a verb. Not a noun. I loved it and it made me think about life. Not about what "family" is but what it does...  and what it is doing. It's life together. The baggage, mess-ups, victories, triumphs... it's the compilation of the everyday. Often mundane. Family is not a Facebook highlight reel. It's the tough, the beautiful, the messy, the real. It's wrapped in love. For us that love looks like a bent-up, sorta squished, not sparkly, half-ripped, but super thick roll of wrapping paper. That nondescript one pushed waaaaay to the back that other have picked around. And our family is tied with a bow of faith. A thick, fraying, porous, wire-edged bow. It's not beautiful and would get any Christmas gift-wrapper fired from their high-end department store... But it's the one at the 3 year old birthday party that I'm drawn to. Probably because it makes me smile and is more representative of our life than I'd love to admit.

But back to Deacon.

All this thinking last night of our family that started with the boy that entered this world and made me a mom. Of the life and family we have created, with God's sustaining grace. I thought of his birth story, the excitement I felt, the fear I was gripped with as my heart was suddenly outside my body. The realization that I couldn't keep him in a bubble and protect him the way I once thought possible and that I would do anything in an instant for him. That I would give up my life in a heartbeat for him to just be safe. I thought of potty training, preschool, learning to ride a bike, and all the discipline. I mean, lots of discipline. I remembered my tears and his as we both messed up terribly. I thought of the pride in countless situations and the repentance and forgiveness that also came in time. I thought of my own faith, and his that seemed to come rather easily. His sensitivity to the Holy Spirit as we experienced grief and loss together. I've cried with him and for him. I've cried over him and his choices- both in the deep sorrow and unbridled joy.

I sit here looking around our house that isn't much different than the day we brought him home. A bright, colorful paper sign with cut-out letters says Happy Birthday and I glance around to remember so many things that have taken place in this living room alone. Friends, family, laughter, games, songs, sleepovers, movie nights, dance parties... And the other side of the coin. Pouting, complaining, yelling, fights, tears, saddness... All these memories this morning mingle together to create the last decade of "family" that started with the biggest boy of mine.

That 7lb. 5oz, dark-haired, blue-eyed, bright orange jaundiced boy of mine.

I couldn't love him more. And I couldn't be more thankful for all that God has put in his heart. We have a long way to go, and yet, double this time and our oldest boy will be gone.

I'm so grateful for the son he is and the man he is becoming. Big things ahead and I'm blessed to have started the hardest, most exhausting, pride-sucking, rewarding, glorious, beautiful, triumphant job as a mother with this one! Seriously y'all... no manual for this. Living life and asking each day for the promised grace.

Deacon Charles Stanfield. I love you and am so proud to be your mama!

"And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man." Luke 2:52

Thursday, January 22, 2015


Seven years ago on this very date I was sitting in the hospital awaiting Maddox's arrival. I was surrounded by some of the most important people in my life, then and still today, and quite honestly, that feels like a lifetime ago.

I look at pictures from that day and recall the actual feelings of being in that moment. You know those times in life, like your wedding, when you lead someone to Christ, when your children are born, when you truly KNOW that you are PRESENT and taking it completely in? When you get to witness a life-changing moment... That was January 22nd {and his birth on the 23rd}. It was like sacred ground as everyone convened- my husband, parents, sisters, grandparents, mother-in-love, best friends, pastors- from all over the country to stand witness to one sacred event. Whether he was born still, or we took him home for many years, it was a moment in time that I KNEW I would be etched in my mind until my last breath. It was physical. It was emotional. It was the culmination of waiting and praying and trusting that somehow the Lord knew best. "But even if he does not" (Daniel 3:18) was my anthem, fully giving everything over to His Sovereignty. I looked around the room that night and was anxious, but felt totally at peace. I still felt him move with vigor and I knew it was only a matter of time before I laid eyes on the precious gift that I prayed for months before his conception.

"Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." 

Seven years later so much has changed. Our home is full (to overflowing!) with children and toys and squabbling and laughter and lots and lots of noise! My heart is full (to overflowing!) with joy for all that the Lord has entrusted to us. Four precious, funny, amazing kids sleep snuggled in their beds at night (3 of them in the same room!) and we still thank Him nightly for the blessing of Maddox. For the heartache that drew me into an intimacy with the Prince of Peace unlike any other time before or since. For the joy of being surrounded by His hands and feet, His people that loved on us and cared for our needs in that heartbreaking time. For the deep longing it left in our hearts to be reunited with him in Heaven and meet Jesus face to face. For the strong conviction of sharing the truth of the gospel and the need for THE Savior of the World. For the sensitivity to the Holy Spirit that we have experienced as a result of knowing His presence physically. For the calling on my life to step out of my comfort zone and obey His commands, wherever that leads.

Maddox comes up often in conversation in our home. We talked in depth last night and Deacon cried as we talked about seeing him again and what it would be like if he were here. Faith Clare laughs and says he would be her "best brother" because they are so close in age. Scout asks questions like when is he coming back from Heaven and why can't we go there to see him. Asher, well, he just smiles like usual but he'll soon know. It's an open topic in our house and I wouldn't have it any other way.

I have actually been challenged on a few occasions recently when someone asks how many kids I have. I have always included Maddox in the count... and then in the last few months I have started saying 4. The two times it has happened Deacon has corrected me, said 5, and then moved along like it was no biggie. I've been stuck feeling like I'm 1/2 crazy and 1/2 a liar for "omitting" a child. It's funny but it has reminded me that this precious person that entered and left our life so quickly has left a massive impact on all of us and we don't ever want to gloss over what the Lord has entrusted to our hearts.

We are planning a fun little celebration tomorrow by way of cookie cake, a Stanfield family must. The kids each have ideas on what Maddox would've loved and we've been in discussion about ways to remember him this weekend. We will also be doing an #expressionoflove challenge, encouraging our family, friends and networks to pay it forward with people they know and those they don't. There are so many ideas but just a few: write a note to your spouse/parent/child/friend telling them how much you love them and WHY, post on a friend's FB timeline and tell them how much you appreciate them for being present for you in a difficult time, add "over and above" to a server's tip, buy someone's lunch behind you, tell a child how amazing you think they are and that you know they will do extraordinary things in their life, donate money to a charity you love, let your student tell a teacher the difference they've made in their life, post a picture and memory of serving others... The list could go on and on. And if it's on social media, post it with the #expressionoflove and #inmemoryofmaddox. It will be fun to see people participate and the whole idea is to catch up on "those things" you've been meaning to say to those around you.

Thank you for continuing on this journey with us! Thank you for loving our family and for catching my annual post. If you'd like to stay in touch since blogging hasn't made it in my timecap for each day, find me on FB and shoot me a message about you being a blog friend. I'd love to keep current with you! So much love and grateful for you walking this ongoing journey with us!

 "From the fullness of His grace, we have all received one blessing after another." John 1:16

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

For the Loss Mama

Six years. I can't quite fathom how it can already be six years since we welcomed our second born and almost in the same breath said goodbye. So much is different. Vastly different from those days of constant sadness and tears. Maddox now has 3 younger siblings. Time allows the bleeding to stop and the tenderness of the wound to lessen... But as with any trauma, the scar is still there. It always will be.

I wonder sometimes if people think we're crazy for "still" saying we have 5 kids. Sometimes I even feel like I'm not being truthful and even have to caveat my description of my family. Sometimes it feels easier just to say 4 kids and move on... But on occasion when it happens, it doesn't feel right. It doesn't feel like I'm doing Maddox justice. Our journey justice. But most importantly, Our Lord justice. His faithfulness. His grace. His mercy. His people. His healing and restoration and redemption. Our story isn't really ours. It's His.

As I hear Scout pray at night and thank The Lord for Maddox and the rest of his siblings ...oh, be still my heart. He doesn't yet know the big story of God's faithfulness to our family, but he knows his big brother by name. He knows he is in Heaven. He knows his picture and can point him out. It's the legacy of The Lord and what He can do with our hearts when things go exactly opposite of our hopes and dreams and prayers. That He is still God and knows us intimately.

I have felt compelled these last few weeks to write down a few of the most important things I would want to share with someone else walking this road.  My hope is that if you know anyone in a similar situation, or you encounter someone in the future, you might be able to be a source of compassion and understanding and support. Those that surrounded us while we were in the depths were often "God in flesh" as the waves swept over.

For the loss mama...

There is no manual for this. There is no time limit for it either. Your grief is your own and while there are healthy and unhealthy ways to process all that is going on, do not let anyone tell you how it MUST be done.

If you are sad, allow yourself to feel it. If you want to spontaneously laugh, do it without reserve. You're afraid that people will think you've forgotten, or are in denial. No one will judge and no one will think you have forgotten your child. I promise.

If you need a good cry, you can do it alone. Or with your spouse. Or best friend. Or do it with your counselor. But like Nike, Just Do It.

Talk about your child. To a journal, to God or to live people.

Remember the joy you felt before the sadness because some days the sadness feels like it might consume you.

Sometimes you will feel like you are drowning. Don't be afraid to reach out for help. It is helpful and necessary.

Tell those around you what you need. No one knows but you.And know that what you need might change. And that is just fine.

Accept help. It's okay to need something today and not tomorrow. It's okay to welcome a question one day and despise it the next.

Give people GRACE. They will say and ask stupid things.

Give YOURSELF grace. You will be irrational sometimes. Fears about your other children. Fears about people judging. Fears about inadequacy.

You might feel like you "just want to get it over with." The grieving that is. It's okay. Just remember it's a process. Life is a process.

You might feel like life is unfair. That everywhere you look people are pregnant and have newborns. The truth is... Life IS unfair and it's okay to feel that way. Just don't steal anyone's joy in your time of sadness.

You can be mad at God. He's big enough to deal with it. He did create you and knows it anyway. BUT Work through it WITH Him.

Do not allow your loss to define who you are. It is a defining moment in your life, but you are not the loss. You are not your grief.

People will fail you. People will disappoint, disappear, not have words or have too many. Whatever your expectations are, people will not meet them. They will fall drastically short. The only one who will truly be there is the Lord. He's the only one who will ALWAYS be there in the hurt.

Make memories in the grief...

Although you feel like you're dying, you are actually still living. And there are living people around you. Don't forget them. They might be what actually keep you going.

You are needed. You are loved. You are beautiful.

Take care of yourself. Your delivery site, your breasts, your emotions, your spirit.

Allow the physical pain to exist because when that goes away the emotional pain will most likely take over.

Get in a hot shower. They might tell you not to. "It will produce more milk." Let me tell you, the milk will come. Hot shower or not. The milk might be the hardest thing about not having your baby. It was for me. Allow the shower's hot water to mingle with your milk and tears. Let it all out. Let it all wash over you. It's an emotional cleansing. Your body, mind and spirit need it.

Love your husband. Be patient. He might not look like he is grieving. HE IS. He wants to be strong. He wants to protect you. He can't let it consume him because he's afraid the whole ship will go down.

Keep moving forward. It might just be to get out of bed today. That's a step forward. Two forward because tomorrow might be one back. Remember. It's a process.

People will disappoint you because they will forget. Not intentionally but they will. They will forget that it's Wednesday and he was born on a Wednesday. They will forget your due date. They will forget the 3 or 6 month mark. Your world has stopped. It's so unfair but theirs have not.

Don't feel guilty. Not about what could have been, should have been or what actually was. "All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." Psalm 139:16

If you feel despaired, cannot seem to manage your grief, anger, sadness, or hurt, be sure to talk to someone. It is crucial to get the help you need, professional or otherwise, to be able to stand on the other side of your loss.

Free yourself to dream... About that next child, about that dream vacation, about where you will be in a year or five. Envision yourself outside of the grief you are living.

Love yourself. The good, bad and ugly. God can use anyone, anywhere. The Bible is overflowing with stories of grief-filled people that are redeemed and restored as they put their trust in Him. "...The author and perfecter of our faith." Hebrews 12:2

"My ears have heard of you but now my eyes have seen you." Job 42:5

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Ten years ago. On April 23rd, 2003, Dusty and I were in our first year of marriage. There is nothing particularly special about that day except that it was during "that season"... You know those times in life when you remember "oh yeah" and it takes you to a place. We were really struggling in our marriage. It was pretty volatile. Or should I say I was. And always emotional. Nothing was as I had anticipated and things were so much harder than I imagined. How could we date on & off throughout high school, all through college, know each other for as long as we had, and yet have things be so crazy? We fought more than our fair share. Money, traveling, sex, communication, friends, guests, bugs (yes, roaches to be exact!)... We weren't sure about our income. Everything still seemed so new. I remember calling my mom sometime around then and sobbing to her, telling her I wasn't even sure we were going to make it. That marriage was hard. She just chuckled and said "yep." My reflection in the mirror was different then. It showed very little grace. Very little patience. I was a girl who knew it all. Why didn't he get me? My faith was being tested. I was locked into today and couldn't see my tomorrow. Many days it felt like we were just trying to make it.

We did make it through however. We talked. We made plans for how we were going to address issues and continually recommitted to making it work.

Five year ago. On April 23rd, 2008, we were 3 months exactly from having to say goodbye to our precious second son. My heart was absolutely broken over our deep loss and some days I didn't know up from down. In the midst of incredible grief, the Lord gave us a precious new gift. We had just found out, with elation and absolute terror, that we were expecting again. A miracle was growing inside and it took everything within me to just to see the sun shining. I was struggling to keep my mind focused on The Truth. Dusty was struggling to help me keep it together. Fear had a huge grip on me. My reflection in the mirror was different then. It showed very little peace. I was racked with fear and "what if's". And my faith was being tested. I was locked on tomorrow and simply trying to keep focused on the moment I would hold that precious baby in my arms.

I wasn't promised that tomorrow, but my focus was ahead. I knew where I wanted to be. I envisioned how it would feel. What I would do. The relief that would be tangible knowing she was safe.

10 years ago. 5 years ago. I could never have ever imagined all the trials, struggles, fears and pain that I would have encountered over the last decade. Some things felt huge when they really weren't, and others felt like a whole 'nother level, and they absolutely were! But I couldn't have imagined the joy either. That throughout all of our experiences, somehow I wouldn't change any of it because it's made me who I am. My reflection in the mirror is different today. Today I see someone with increased faith. With more grace and compassion. But I also see that the struggles have left their marks. Battle wounds. We all have them. And let's be honest, I still see impatience, pride, judgement... The list could go on and on. Huge imperfections.

But the beauty of it all is that some days in my reflection I simply see Jesus. Not because I think I am Him in word or deed, but because the only way I can even see clearly is because of Him.

Ten years ago could you have forecasted where you would be today? How about 5 years ago? I would say I couldn't have imagined 5 years past, or present today. Our life is beautiful, riddled with scars, and bruises, but it is so different than I planned. I never envisioned being a stay-at-home mom... but then again I never envisioned losing a child. How quickly plans change!?

I began to think about "the next 5 years" almost one year ago. As I looked at my then 20-month-old, I realized how fleeting the time was and in a blink I would be returning to the work force. It only made sense. The income, the benefits, the flexibility of my previous job. And then suddenly, tears. I looked at my kindergartner and couldn't imagine having my youngest hop off the bus into someone else's arms. The thought sent me into some moments of intense sadness on what I figured was the only real possibility.

Enter Rodan + Fields. I can't quite put into words what all of this- this company, this opportunity, this divine appointment- has meant to me. I can say however, that it has been one of the very best decisions I have ever made. To look at what I am doing, on very part time hours while home with my babies, and know that I am creating something that will form a legacy not only for us, but for my children... It's incredible! To be building a business to allow me to stay home forever?! No words.

And while I would say that is the BEST thing... I would have to say one thing tops that. This opportunity has given me the ability to dream. YES, dream! What SO MANY PEOPLE have lost the ability to do now days. To be able to look at my life and know that in 5 and 10 years, so much will have changed, but to be confident in what the Lord has brought before me and the path that He is leading us down. We have BIG visions of giving and serving and loving... And to change the life of one child through adoption? Well to me that is the best dream there is. To be a family without a child, it only makes sense to bring a child without a family into our home. That's it. And no, I don't think Rodan + Fields gave me that vision, that is 100% straight from the Lord. But to be able to DREAM far beyond that reality and envision what it will be like to touch more and more lives. Abroad and right here. To see how I can change lives through the income I make, and also share this gift with others to allow them to chase their own dreams and realize their own change. It's all possible and I am so.very.thankful.

5 years ahead?

10 years down the road?

I don't know where exactly I will be, but I can promise I will be praising HIM, through the joy and pain, and confident in the direction HE will be taking me.

To God be the glory for the great things He hath done...

***If you are interested in hearing more about this incredible opportunity for change, whether for incredible skincare or an opportunity that can be bigger than you imagine possible, please go here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


I feel very reflective tonight. You probably don't find that too strange if you know our story. Five years ago to this very moment I was in a hospital room, filled with joy that my family had arrived, and filled with anticipation about what the impending hours would bring. My heart leaped knowing that Maddox was alive as I felt him kicking and moving inside of me. I knew there was little that separated me from finally holding my precious boy.

I remember not getting much sleep that night. I clung to my Bible, poured over Scripture and just kept praying for our Father God to fill me with peace. Strangely, I don't remember feeling too much fear... and hindsight I know that was the beginning of a sacred encounter with the Prince of Peace, my Rescuer, my Redeemer.

So many details have faded from my memory so the ones that are here and intact, those memories aren't going anywhere. I remember my friends gathered- waiting. I remember the nurses. I remember our pastoral staff. I remember my family. It felt like a lot of "hurry up and wait" and then suddenly, the time had arrived for Maddox to make his arrival. The room quickly cleared and I prepared myself to meet my second-born. Dusty stood with me, never leaving my side.

At 4:25PM, Maddox entered our world briefly, to remind us how big our God is and how faithful He is to answer all of our prayers. As he was born I remember looking down and his eyes were closed. That is my first memory of any sort of fear. I remember quickly asking our doctor if he was alive... Dusty followed our 3lb. boy to the NICU warmer in the room with the staff prepared to work. That wait felt like an eternity...

Is he alive?

After some dialogue between the staff and our doctor, our amazing, God-send doctor looked at me and said no. It was then that I began to cry. In a moment it felt like everything was snatched up. Like all the air in the room was sucked out and I couldn't breathe. It was only a few hours ago that I felt him moving! How was this possible?

And then my husband.

And then my husband came to my bed. He grabbed my hand and said, "Kenz, he was alive!" I looked at him like he had just missed the last few minutes and said, "No. They said no." He responded with every ounce of confidence and joy and faith, "Yes, he was alive. There was a heartbeat but it was too faint to do anything. But he.was.born.alive! He opened his eyes, looked at me, and then closed them again."

Reading that it almost sounds ludicrous that I wouldn't cry out, yell, question why they didn't try anything. But instead, somehow peace filled my heart. We had prayed very specifically that certain decisions regarding Maddox's care would be removed from our control. And they were. Only moments earlier had it felt like my heart was being torn out of my chest and I felt like I was bleeding out... and then suddenly, there were bandages. Bandages that were drenched in my blood, but bandages of joy, peace, and thankfulness; they were the only things holding me together.

The day was sacred and supernatural. A day that this world would suggest would claim me forever, became the most sacred love-note of my life. He reached out of Heaven and filled me in ways only He could ordain... and I could never put into words.  

Fives years later, as I retell a small portion of the story that has gone undocumented, I still bear the scar of that heart-wrenching, painful time. I still cry from time to time. I occasionally think what it would be like with another boy added to the mix. But I never go very long without smiling. Somehow this is all part of His plan. "'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'" Isaiah 55:8-9

While I don't have a physical scar to run my hands over, I do have an emotional one. My bleeding heart left an open wound that has taken a significant amount of time to heal. For a while I thought I would never get over the sadness, and crying would be an everyday occurrence. But slowly and surely, He has restored me. And not only that, but He has redeemed my pain. Do I look the same as I did before my heartbreak? Definitely not. And for that I am eternally thankful. I now bear a scar that allows me to grieve with other mothers who have or are walking this road. It's a scar that only those of a shared experience can truly grasp, and while I would have never chosen my journey... I would never trade it.

Thank you Jesus for my beautiful scar. For my beautiful boy. For your Perfect Son. "Oh death, where is your sting? Oh hell, where is your victory? Oh church, come stand in the light, our God is not dead, He's alive, He's alive!"

"I have told you all of these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Fight or The Fail?

Extended absences. In many cases it's true, "absence makes the heart grow fonder."

Being honest, I love coming here every now & then just to reflect. I love seeing where we were and how drastically different we are in 5 years since this blog began. In many ways I feel unrecognizable. I LOVE the work the Lord has done in me and in the life of my family.

Now don't get me wrong. I still struggle with the balance of everything: the precious little people that I love and make me crazy all at the same time, the cleaning, the cooking, the laundry, the shuffling, my "job", supporting my hubby in his endeavors, and even trying to squeeze in a little me time.

As you can see I don't come here to post much anymore... not for a lack of things to say, but more for a lack of time. Which in many ways makes me sad because I know how important documenting these years is... BUT I also know how important LIVING these years is!

I still yearn to be present in each and every day. In every conversation. To be fully engaged with my kids (and I fail). To be fully present for my husband (and I fail). To be a loyal, available friend (and I fail). To be a dependable work partner (and I fail). To be all that the Lord has equipped and enabled me to be (and I still fail).

But what is my focus... the fight or the fail? I am fighting for it. I am fighting for the life I know is possible. I am fighting to make a difference, in my home and outside of it. I am fighting to be bigger IN HIM, to be better IN HIM, to know that with fighting comes failing. And failing keeps me growing. Failing, while it just stinks, is what keeps me fighting. Man... if only everything were easy?! But then I wouldn't be constantly reminded that this is not my home.

I am trying to pass this hard-to-grasp concept on to my children. To show them how to fight for something and someone. To demonstrate that failing is part of this life and part of us becoming more like Jesus. I HATE to see my children fail, to be disappointed, to struggle and fall... But truthfully my fear that they will be entitled, self-righteous, needy and independent of the Lord strikes more fear in my soul. It's in the fighting, not the fail.

God is good and life is good. Keep fighting for your dreams, your inspiration, your family, your cause, for what is close to your heart. He will equip you and in due time He will show you through the failing to reveal the purpose for the fight. He loves you more than anyone could and wants all your dreams to come true... It's in His Word. He promises it.

I'm fighting... and failing... But I'm gonna keep fighting. Success is amazing and gives you a small glimpse of how we know the story ends. But there is joy, peace, purpose & passion in the fight. Only He can stir that in your soul. Fight for it... trust Him... JUMP!

"The LORD your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes"- Deuteronomy 1:30

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Giveaway Winner!

the winner

Congratulations Suzanne! Email me and I'll be sure to get your Anti-Age regimen to you this week. Thank you to all who participated in this giveaway. Have a blessed Memorial Day weekend!

"I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."- Philippians 3:14

Saturday, May 19, 2012

My WHY... (and a Giveaway!!)

Some things have changed around here in the last two weeks and I am very excited about this new journey! And these recent changes have prompted me to some thinking... (something that I feel I probably don't do enough of, at least regarding the long-term). I've been settling in on my why. It's simple really. Why do I do some things and not others? What is it that drives me? What motivates me to be confident in who and where I am right now?

What I've realized is that everyone's why is different and clearly your why is often determined by so many varying factors. Are you married, dating or single? Do you have 1 child, 8 children, or none? Are you comfortable with your daily/weekly workload or would your prefer to cut back? Do you have free time and if so, what do you do with it? What are you saving for? Or do you spend too much? What are you giving to? Or has your "generosity" not been tapped into? What stirs your heart and makes you eager with anticipation? Who is at the foundation of your life? What is it all worth and what are you willing to do to make something happen?

What's new for me is a job. Crazy huh? I'm a working girl again... and I love it! I love it for so many reasons but my #1 reason is because... dah-dah-dah-daaaah... I can still do it at home, while being a mama. Not likely, you are probably thinking... but, I assure you, it is in fact something I can do here. And the best thing is that this job opportunity, this timing, gets at the very heart of MY why.

My why: I am married to an amazing man and we have 3 children here, 1 in heaven. I, for the most part, have been comfortable with my workload (Dusty says it should really be called "overwhelming", but I am good with comfortable!) around here managing the majority of the household responsibilities as well as the kiddos. I haven't noticed a plethora of free-time in the past 6 1/2 years so I can't really speak to what I would do with it. But, being honest, oftentimes I feel like I could do so much more besides "the daily routine" and I have been longing to figure out how I would ever mesh a career and still be able to be home. Plus, in regards to what we are saving for... well, we aren't saving for much of anything. In fact, that area has taken a major hit since we decided for me to be home for the last 5 years. I pray almost every day that the Lord will find us faithful in our decision for me to be home and that He will honor this sacrifice of the "financial abundance." One income is hard for most everyone, impossible for many... And yet we are giving where we can because that is what stirs my heart. And what makes me eager with anticipation? The thought of building something great for my family, and us leaving a legacy of hard work, dedication and perseverance only through strength in the Lord. And because of that, my heart lies in the ability to create that legacy for a child who has none because he has no family. Adoption is at the very foundation of what stirs my heart.

So that's it. It's simple really. My why...

"To be a giver... to my world, my family, and to a child somewhere who needs one. 
To love well... MY world, THE world, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 
To treasure life and live it with purpose and meaning! 
To leave all of this as a legacy..."


And regarding this job? Well, it's amazing. And it's my why that drives me. It can be full-time or part-time as I see fit. It's about growing a market, growing myself, and coaching others to do the same. It's about a belief system in my company and those above me, in my incredible products, and the knowledge that I am right where I am supposed to be at just the right time. The market is untapped, the earning potential is staggering, and the opportunity is unlimited. Yes, indeed, "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." (Phil 4:13)

Think about your life and your why. And as you do that I want you to ponder a few more... think about your when and what is between you and your goal? How will you get there? Could this be for you? What are you pouring in to and are you creating a lasting legacy in and for your family?

I shared my goal and that's where I'm headed.

As a thank-you for all of the incredible support and love over the past 4 1/2 years in this blog world, I want to offer a giveaway for the first time ever!! I have been asked to do giveaways before but have never accepted so I am thrilled to do the first giveaway ever with my own products!

I want to invite you to take a 1-minute skincare assessment on my new website. There is no obligation to do anything except spend one minute answering 8 questions. Once you do that, enter your email address as the last step (I will get an email that you did it- only comes to me) and you will be entered to win up to a $200 skincare regimen that the doctors personally recommend to you. All entered will be assigned a number and next Sunday (5/27) I will draw and announce a winner. Just think, if you win you will end up with the most beautiful skin of your life... for free!

1. Go to
2. Click on Customize Your Routine, Start Solution Tool, Start Consultation
3. Complete assessment.
4. Enter your email address to receive a copy of your personal recommendation and be entered for the contest.
5. Winner announced Sunday, 5/27/12 

"I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."- Philippians 4:13

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

It's Friday, But Sunday's Coming...

Monday was somewhat heavy and I still can't get it off my mind.  I woke up, got ready and dropped the little 2 off with a friend.  I made my way to church where a girl I worked with, someone I would consider a friend, was being celebrated. Normally celebrations are fantastic... but Monday there were tears. Lindsay was being celebrated in this life because she has graduated to her eternal one with the Lord.

This graduation was not of her choosing. She had so much life ahead and a precious young daughter that she did everything for. She couldn't have imagined that it was her time. Her family still can't begin to comprehend the tragedy. And yet, in this crazy, sad, fallen world... somehow the Lord knew. 

The service was emotional, both funny and heart-wrenching. But the message- WOW- the message. It was just amazing and the phrase that was used, borrowed if you will, was from the famous Pastor S.M. Lockridge. His sermon, used one Resurrection morning decades ago, was entitled "It's only Friday, but Sunday's coming..." and it spoke deep into my heart. It encompassed my life, especially 2007 & 2008, but can still be where I live today.  I know in large part it encompasses your life too.

The fundamental message spoke to hopelessness, despair, tragedy and fear. It spoke to disappointment and even to death itself.  We, today, are living in our Friday.  Things aren't ever as we imagine them. Marriages, as desperately as we cling to them, still fail. Jobs, which provide us security and purpose, evaporate. Expectations we have of family or friends or even strangers never seem to hold their weight and people don't come through. Parents die. Spouses die. Even our children die. There are far too many of us that have lived through these things... And then as you begin to think more about it, each of us will encounter a complete undoing ... all because it's only Friday.

Just like the Friday that God gave up His Son. On that awful, sickening, terrifying day when death truly did win.

The redemption for each of us, however, comes on Sunday. And Sunday's coming...

Sunday is where all of my hope lies. That beautiful Sunday when I will see my Savior face to face. I will hold my Maddox again. When I will hug my father-on-law, my grandparents, and sweet Lindsay, whose family is just beginning their Friday.

Sunday is the blessed assurance of what we will inherit.
Sunday is the reason we can survive with hope and joy.
Sunday is why we wake up and put our two feet on the ground.
Sunday gives us everything our hearts desire but our hands can't grasp... because in reality death didn't win. God did.

"It's Friday, But Sunday's Coming..."  Don't despair or give up hope. Tragedy strikes and fear takes over, but remember that today just might be your Friday. This earth is Friday... but Sunday's coming.

Thank you, Lord, for Sunday!

YouTube of Pastor S.M. Lockridge's own words

"I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope." Psalm 130:5

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Christ Has Risen...

and we are blessed!

"But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." -Romans 5:20-21

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Strange Things

As January rolls around, strange things start happening in me. I'm fine one minute and not the next. Memories swirl. Moments replay. Worship is like opening a floodgate. It's literal music to my ears and yet, scissors to my heart. The week before. The fear and worry. The granted peace and knowledge of truth. The scrambling. The craziness. The room and nurses and doctors. The clear voices and the muffled silence.

Emotions overcome me at the most unexpected times and quite honestly, as silly as this sounds, each year I forget this happens. I never seem to have my makeup handy when I need it and a puffy-faced, tear-streaked mama pretty much always draws attention, whether people want to say anything or not. I'm not actually surprised it does happen, just caught off guard when I'm not "prepared."

Sunday was that day for me so far and as hard as I tried, I couldn't stop the tears from falling.  I was fine with it in the middle of worship.  I mean, I have that written in my Bible and I couldn't help but laugh later.  worship- coming completely undone in the sight of the Lord.  That was definitely me! But then during the service (which was about lust none-the-less!) the tears were still rolling. (People probably thought I was upset about the message... wonder how that looked!?) I even had to excuse myself before service got out and cried in a bathroom.

So I'll be honest... logically, this doesn't make sense.  Four years ago I was (unknowingly) a week out from meeting and saying goodbye to our son. NO DOUBT that is emotional.  But again, head knowledge and heart truth tell me that everything is just how it was ordained to be.  The Lord saw fit to call Maddox home.  His body was not intended for this place... he is spending eternity with his Lord and Savior, not just mine.  That is mind-blowing to me.  He is not in pain, hurting or truthfully even concerned with what is going on down here.  He is full-time with the Lord. He is good. So are we. So then... what's with being overwhelmed with tears?

Throughout the year, I am usually good.  It's a rare occasion to see me crying about what could-have, should-have, might-have been.  It's not what is and I trust the Lord. FULLY. We talk about Maddox.  He is included in nightly prayers (not praying for him but thanking Jesus for his life). His life, his purpose, his sickness, heaven, prayer, healing, redemption, faith, undying love... it's all part of our family. It's part of our conversation and part of who we are.

And still... four years later I grieve.

And I'm sure you know why.  The thought of losing a child is beyond comprehension. The thing is, it's not about him.  It's completely, selfishly about me... It's about not having the four children that I have birthed with me. It's about not knowing if his eyes would have changed color like my older two or if he could be into Cars like Deacon was or legos like he is now. It's about wondering if that void will ever be fully filled and knowing that this side of heaven, the Lord is going to have to take it because a piece of me is missing. It's about having so little time with him and fearing he will be forgotten. It's about heart and head and worship and prayer.

It's knowing it's okay when it doesn't feel like it at that moment. Knowing it's okay to hurt, to grieve, to miss him and long for heaven... and ultimately, it's okay to know that this is somehow all part of God's revised plan. This world isn't as He designed it so nothing is how it "should" be. But, He is bigger than just a plan A. Mine or His own. And my simple knowledge that my son is rejoicing and spending eternity with Our Creator... well, when you get right down to it, that's all that matters.

So as strange as this sounds... it still feels strange to grieve like this after years have passed. Our family is filled with joy and love and laughter... but for this mama it is still emotional and sad, even having the faith that we do in Christ Jesus.

So if you know someone who has lost a child, at any age or gestation... Please just love on them a little extra hard. Whatever feels right to you is most likely appropriate and if you don't feel comfortable in person, let them know in a card, email or text. It does a grieving parent's heart good to know that their child is treasured by others, both remembered and loved.

"He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure."- Isaiah 33:6

Monday, December 12, 2011

Pondering Mary

I've been thinking so much about Mary lately.  Yep, Jesus' mother Mary. And not just because my little 3-year-old played her in the preschool play (which I have to admit was adorable), but because of the story itself.  All the things briefly referenced in the Bible, but none dwelt upon. About her pure faith. About her obedience. About her age, her fears, the responsibility on her shoulders. About her willingness to do what God the Father called her to, without question. About her favor with the Lord to be chosen to raise the Son of Man.

I remember one of the very first posts I did when I began this blog, asking the question "if Mary would have known how everything would go, how it would all turn out and how she would watch her Son die, would she have still done it?" Would she have said to the angel Gabriel "I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said." (Luke 1:38)? I'm not clear as to how much she understood the prophesy of the Old Testament and how it would be fulfilled through her Son, the Messiah... but I am pretty sure, even through all of the worry and struggle and fear, she would have still done it. She would have faced the ridicule and slander of a pregnancy that no one could comprehend. She would have traveled days on the back of a donkey, nearly in labor, only to give birth in a stinky stable, surrounded by animals. She would have fled to Egypt to live among strangers, to flee a king who wanted to kill her newborn son, the True King.

She would have done all of that. She did do that and so much more. And yet somehow, none of it is about her.  

She wasn't perfect. She wasn't without sin. She was just chosen, and called to a purpose so much greater than her own. She found favor with God.

At a time of year when I look at my children, my husband, my decorated tree, my home, the food, and friends and family, I can't help but give thanks. ...And then every once in a while I get a little somber thinking about my child that isn't here. The one who doesn't have a Christmas program or a party to attend.  The one I don't get to see open gifts, sing silly carols, or toast with sparkling cider. The one that is remembered only through pictures and ornaments hanging in his memory. I honestly get sad and know that something is missing...

Until once again I hear Jesus whispering, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9) 

I remember once again that it's not about me. It's not about my plans, my wants, my struggles. It's only about finding daily favor with God. It's about walking in His ways. It's about my obedience and His love.

I didn't give birth to a king.  I certainly didn't give birth to the Savior of the World. But I did give birth to someone who changed the world... who changed my world. And if Mary would do it all again, as I know she would, who am I to say that I wouldn't too. All the pain, the hurt, the fear, the suffering... I would do it again. For one life saved, I would do it again.

And although I don't get to see my Maddox opening gifts on Christmas morning, I can't imagine the glory and splendor he celebrates in the presence of the one who is being lifted up across the globe. While Mary and I have very little in common, we are both mothers of sons who have gone before us, and just as she treasured all the mysterious happenings in her heart... so do I.

God is faithful. God is true. And God works in ways we will only fully understand when we are in His presence worshiping at His feet.

"'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.' Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.'" ~Luke 2:8-14

Monday, November 21, 2011

ABC Catch-up

After-school neighborhood play

Baptism & Jesus- both here to stay!
Chapmans welcome us to London

Deacon's 6th birthday. Oh, what fun!

ER visits, both for Sister

Faith Clare turns three and is still a twister

Grandma Nan is coming to town

Humidity in November... we might really drown!

Ita and Bob stay for a week

Jammies off in the night, I still have to peek :)

Kindergarten~ fun and learning astound

Lego stuck in her nose, "incidents" abound

Mimi and Papa stop for a visit

Nebraska roadtrip, both smile and fit

Ohio State/NE game in the rain

Pool party for all 3 helps mommy stay sane

Quiet isn't found much in this house
Room change for baby now he sleeps like a mouse

Scout isn't a infant, he is now ONE!

Thanksgiving with friends- both turkey and bun

Uniqua costume looks so cute

Vala's Pumpkin Patch rocks in tennies or boot

Writing workshop is a favorite subject 'round here

Xrays for a stroller-crushed hand were clear

"Youth bear" loves NFL Flag Football

Zoo time in Omaha is the BEST in the fall!

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”- Matthew 19:14

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