Monday, December 31, 2012

Defeated

Defeated: A coming to naught; frustration:

Yep. That is exactly how I feel today. Defeated. I've asked myself the age old question Why do bad things happen to good people? Sometimes you face things in life that don't make sense at all.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:2-4


It's so easy to look at a trial in your life and say Really God? Why me?. Guilty as charged right here. With everything else that has gone on the past few months, I have asked this a lot the past few days. But I can look back at the trials I've endured and I can honestly view them as an opportunity that was given to me to draw closer to God than ever before. So why is it so hard to see a struggle as that opportunity when you are in the middle of it?

It's not easy to withstand being persecuted for doing the right thing. Eventually, you will talk yourself into blaming yourself for the trial you are enduring. The devil wants you to blame yourself--that's when you begin to feel that d word--defeated.

Of course in the middle of a struggle, there are people who don't agree with your decisions. Sometimes, they are angry with you. It's hard enough to ignore unkind words once or twice, but when someone is badgering you constantly, it's almost impossible to ignore, especially when you are already in the middle of a difficult situation.

Remember the word that I said to you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
John 15:20 

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
2 Corinthians 12:10

Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.
1 Peter 4:16 

I found this verse while reading today, and it has been an incredible comfort to me--

Truthful words stand the test of time, but lies are soon exposed.
Proverbs 12:19


This was a great reminder to me that the truth always prevails--so I will cling to it. 

Here is another reminder God gave me today that I seriously needed.

"Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse."
Romans 12:14


"Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath;
for it is written,” Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord. Therefore if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head."
Romans 12:17-20


"But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. "For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same?
Matthew 5:44-46

When people persecute us, it is SO easy to retaliate or try to "get even", but that is not what we are called to do. The phrase "Kill em with kindness" comes to mind. When people wrong us, we are to love them, to be kind to them, meet their needs, and pray for them. That's hard, but in the end so rewarding. It's hard to be angry at someone when you are praying for them. It's a lot easier to truly forgive someone when you are praying for them.

I want to share a song that has brought me a lot of comfort today because of the incredible message it brings--

 
 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Reflection


Where has 2012 gone???? Seriously. I know they say time flies, but I never believed it until I had a child. This morning I spent some time thinking about this past year--the ups and the downs. I came to one conclusion--I am blessed far beyond anything I deserve. I'm going to take some time now to review this past year

We started 2012 off celebrating our little beauty turning 3--yes that means she will soon be four, but we'll discuss that later! January 5th--our little New Year baby. She had an amazing time at her horse party (and yes we are still horse obsessed). I love that we get to start off every year celebrating Audrey, even if it does mean she is another year older. I'm still looking for that pause button!

This year, Audrey and I took our first road trip together back in March. We went to the beach, just the two of us. Here is a recap I had written of our trip down there:



So this is mine and Audrey's first trip with just the two of us. Easier said than done. We made eight stops on the way down. The first stop was at Goco's in Gilbertown only thirty minutes into the trip. Audrey, who was already asleep, woke up as we were coming through Toxey and began frantically screaming that she could not find her purple unicorn that she began the trip with. SO we stopped and I looked EVERYWHERE for that dang unicorn. I couldn't find it so finally I was like "you'll just have to get over it, can't find it". Well we get to Silas just a few more minutes down the road and all of a sudden she ceases to cry. She says "Mommy what if my unicorn was in my pocket?". Me: "I'll be slightly irritated". Audrey (reaches in pocket): "Oh here it is! I told you I found it!" she says as she pulls purple unicorn from pocket. Sighhhh. So we continue down the road and at Spanish Fort we stop b/c after three diet cokes mommy absolutely has to potty. My child has an irrational fear of public restrooms comparable to my fear of clowns and cows except about 100 times worse. Normally I would leave her with Brent while I went but not possible, obviously. So I literally drag her into the bathroom as she screams bloody murder. Literally women were coming into the bathroom to check on her. I was seriously afraid McDonald's might call DHR on me. But we made it. When we got to the condo she had to go to the beach like right then. So we head down there and Audrey informed me that the white stuff in the ocean was not foam, white caps, or water, but was, in fact, soap. Just an FYI for you. Today we went to hear the move "The Lorax" because as Audrey taught me today you go to hear a movie, not see it. She loved the movie because the girls name was Audrey and so therefore, Audrey thought she was actually in the movie. Then, in true Audrey fashion, she stole the show at the end of the movie when she stood up and danced for everybody to the credits song. Literally people stayed in the theater to watch her. Repeat horrible public restroom experience at Books A Million after movie...I'm a little clueless on how to fix that one. Then I take her to Lambert's to eat. Her first experience here. She catches a roll and then thinks she needs one every time the guy starts throwing them. While she is eating she tells me that she is a shark because she has sharp teeth (?). She then sweet talks our waitress into a pink balloon. The waitress decides to play a trick on Audrey which I was hoping they would...so sad I didn't get it on video. She brought a wooden box to her and told her it had candy in it. Audrey, of course, opens the box and a plastic rat jumps out at her finger. Her eyes were as big as golf balls and her mouth wide open as she literally tried to jump across the table. Can't wait to see what other adventures we have over the next two days...making memories :)


On April 7 of this year, Brent and I tied the knot. Brent and I have been together for five years, but for those who don't know our background, I will give you a little briefing. I had Audrey when I was eighteen. I was a teen mom, and while I am not proud of all the decisions I made during that time in my life, I am not ashamed of telling anyone I was a teen mom. Audrey blessed my life and was a turning point for me at a time when I was running from God. I was trying to run from God, but He never left my side and continued to bless me all along the way (Talk about mercy and grace!). He blessed me with a beautiful daughter and PRAISE GOD an amazing man who is her father, and now my husband. I wanted to finish college before we got married. I graduated December 10, 2011 with a degree in Elementary Education after 3 years of school and dove head first into a new job and wedding planning. If you look through our wedding pictures you will notice a common sight--laughter. Even at points when most people were crying, I am the one laughing as I tell my mom to stop crying. I was just thrilled to finally call this amazing man my husband.

I can never say thank you enough to our amazing friends who stood by us through a crazy five years of being full time college students, full time parents, and full time in the work force all at the same time. You find out who your friends are when you are toting a little one with you everywhere you go (and I do mean everywhere--I hated to leave her!). Thank you to my amazing friends who helped with our wedding planning, who made sure we had all of those laughs, and who made sure I got some fudge before the wedding when I felt quite sure I would starve to death before my vows. Thank you to my amazing husband for loving me and always standing by me even through the most difficult times.


I had a health scare in March (seizures that I still don't know the cause of) and had to make some adjustments to my life, as driving an hour to work was no longer safe for me. This was a blessing in disguise because God put me right back where I needed to be. I am so blessed to say I love my job and I look forward to going to work everyday.

A month and a half after our wedding, two pink lines gave us the news that our family was growing. Excited does not even begin to describe. I was going to be a mom again! At 7 weeks into my pregnancy we told our parents and grandparents. I waited until I was 12 weeks to announce it to the world, because I thought it was safe then. At 15 weeks into my pregnancy, we learned we were having a boy--Barrett would be gracing us with his presence shortly after 2013 began. I couldn't believe I was getting my little boy!


On August 22, my husband and I endured the hardest thing we have ever been through in our 5 years together. Less than five months into our marriage, we were crying in a hospital room waiting for our son to be born sleeping. Less than five months into our marriage, we were burying a child. Barrett taught me so many things. Barrett has taught me that God can use anyone. Barrett has taught me that my time should be spent investing in others. Barrett taught me how to be a better parent. Losing my son brought me closer to God than I had ever been in my life. In that moment, God was all I had. I learned what it is to be completely dependent on Him.

On September 14, Barrett's Blankets was founded. Blessing doesn't even seem like an adequate way to describe what this ministry has meant to me. The people that have been brought into my life because of this are friends that I hope I will have the privilege of knowing the rest of my time here. Your stories and your words of encouragement have gotten me through so many hard days. Your stories of how Barrett's story touched you have given me confirmation time and time again of my son's purpose in this life. Every life has a purpose. I am humbled by my son. He did more in 18 weeks inside of my womb (not even walking the earth) than I have done in 22 years of life. He inspires me everyday to get up and do something that matters--to make a difference every single day.

I lost my grandfather shortly after losing Barrett. I hope Barrett was waiting to meet you and imagine that he had lots to tell you about all that he has learned. I know you will watch over him until I can.

About two weeks after losing my grandfather, we said goodbye to another precious child. A "see you soon" that still doesn't make sense and at times still doesn't seem real. Look up!

I've had other things going on that have tested me recently. It is in these times that I cling to my Bible and read, read, read! This year has been incredibly hard. I can't lie about that. There have been many days I just wanted to say "I give up. I'm tired". But we all know that isn't an option. It was on those days that God carried me through it. It is because of Him that I can sit here right now and type that I am blessed beyond measure. This year was difficult, yes. But let's shift our focus from that to what came out of those hard times. Personally, this year I have grown closer to God than ever. I have been privileged to talk to many others who have grown closer to God through some of these difficult times and people who came to know Him for the first time. This year has been trying and incredible all rolled up into one.

Here are the top 10 blog posts from this blog for the year, according to our statistics:

1). The Post I Never Wanted to Write

2). The Big Reveal

3). The Truth

4). We're Expanding! (Pregnancy Diary)

5). The Dreaded Question

6). In the Shadow of Your Wings

7). A Letter to My Son

8). Praise You in this Storm

9). The Challenge

10). Dear Barrett

Thank you to everyone who joins me here--you have no idea how much it means! I love sharing my family with you and I love sharing my Jesus with you. Thank you to those who take the time to read, comment, email, or Facebook--you all are an inspiration and I do try my best to answer everyone!

Thank you for helping to make 2012 the blessing it has been for my family--you all are a HUGE part of that! 











A few more pictures from 2012!

Weekend with the girls before the wedding

Our wedding song

Most amazing group of girls ever!

My gorgeous sister at rehearsal dinner



























Laughing, AGAIN!



 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Words Can Hurt

Physical wounds are obvious. They hurt, but they heal and you move on. But what about the wounds you can't see--the wounds caused by words? They are often the most painful. We often suffer from them in silence, because unlike physical wounds, they often go unseen. You can't put Neosporin on it and hope it feels better. You can't cover it with a band-aid. You just have to hurt.

Have you ever thought how powerful your words are? Before you say something about someone, stop and think about it. Do you know the whole story? Do you know what that person may be dealing with right now? Your words might be just the shove needed to push that person over the edge of the cliff they are standing at.Or, you can make sure your words are just the ones they need to pull them back from the edge. The choice is yours.

Words can hurt--much worse than any physical pain, and often much more than we will ever know. They come out of our mouth, and while we may or may not feel guilty for a time, we move on. But the person who was hurt by your words, they can't just keep moving on. They are stuck hearing your words over and over in their head. Every time they replay them, the wound is opened back up and the hurt is fresh again. Think before you speak. Those are some powerful words.

 No words should come out of your mouth that are not helpful in building up. I just stomped on my own toes. I wish I could stamp this on my hand everyday and make myself read it before I open my mouth. My goal for 2013? Watch my words. Pray about my words. I want my words to build up, not tear down. I want my words to point to Him.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 
Ephesians 4:29

It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”
Matthew 15:11

But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.  
Colossians 3:8-10

What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. 
Psalm 34:12-14

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.  
Psalm 19:14

The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. 
Proverbs 10:11

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.  
Colossians 4:6

The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. 
Luke 6:45

To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.
Titus 3:2

Friday, December 28, 2012

BIRTHday

Today is a very special day for me--one of my favorite days of the year. On December 28, 2004 I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Of course December 28 is my favorite day of the year--it's the anniversary of the greatest day of my life.

After our wedding :)
I had been going to church every once in awhile and while I knew all about Jesus, I knew that I did not know Jesus. I have to be honest. I was so selfish--I just wasn't ready to say my life is Yours. But on December 28, 2004 my life changed forever. I don't like to celebrate my actual birthday, but when December gets here I always get so excited about this day.

I remember going to a Kevin Derryberry concert a few days later at my church and weeping as I listened to his testimony. That was the first time I told anyone of my decision. I still have a picture of myself and a high school friend from that night and I will always cherish it because of the story behind it.

My life was never the same. There have been so many times that I was not faithful to God--I've made so many selfish decisions. But the amazing part is God was always faithful. There was a point in my life since then when I tried to run from God, but He was always there. I changed, but God never did.

I honestly don't know if I could have physically survived this past year without God. I wholeheartedly believe that you will face things in your life that are absolutely more than you can handle. However, you will never face something that God can't carry you through.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:13

Want to know more about my Jesus? I would absolutely love to talk to you about Him....please visit the contact tab above~

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Thoughts for Today

Have you ever had something happen that you knew would change your life? It would change the way you think, affect how you trust people, and at points it would consume you. People will tell you all the time to not worry about what other people think. But though we say that over and over, we can't help but worry about what other people think--what they say and how they will react. It's human nature.

There are times in our lives where we will face a huge mountain. As you are standing at the base of that mountain, you look at the different paths that you can take to climb it. You analyze each one and the possible outcomes of each. In fact, we probably over analyze them. It's a big decision. Either path will forever alter your life and you have to decide how you want to be changed--you have to decide which way to rock the boat.

You know which path is the right path, but you also know that people will hate you for going that way. It is a hard path. People will say untrue things about you and will forever be out of your life. The other path won't make anyone mad, but it is a dangerous path and in the end will be even harder on yourself--but you have to weigh the fact that on the surface things would be easier because the boat would remain still. Either way, you will never be the same. Why is it so hard to take the right path? Why do we care so much about what people will say or think? It is so hard to do the right thing when you know that it will make you unpopular and people will hate you for it.



To do the right thing knowing that people will hate you for it, takes an unspeakable amount of courage.

You hate the fact that this mountain in your life will forever define you in the minds of some people, but you can't change that. People tell you it's not your fault, but there is always that overbearing voice telling you it is your fault--that it has to be your fault. There must be something you did to cause this mountain to land in your path. At times, it doesn't seem real. Surely I am imagining this because it couldn't be real. But the scars, both physical and emotional, serve as a constant reminder that this is very real. Nothing I do can erase it or make it easier.

I know this seems like the most random post ever, but I have been struggling with some different things and just needed to get some thoughts out and clear my mind--if you are going through something similar, you are in my prayers.

Until next time.....


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Hold Me Jesus

This time of year should be a relaxing and fun time, but circumstances have caused this to be an extremely stressful past week and a half. Not only have I been desperately wishing my boy was here with us, but other things going on in my life have caused me to go into overdrive with worry--that can't eat, can't sleep kind of worry.

 Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Matthew 6:34




When I can't sleep at night and I have my thoughts all to myself, I've learned that's when I need to pick up my Bible and just read the most. God always seems to send exactly what I need to read and I can definitely confirm that from the last week or so.

But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob,  he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you;  I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;  and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
Isaiah  43:1-3
 
I cannot even describe how much I needed to read these three verses last week when I first came across them. No matter what you are going through, it won't take you down. It may beat you up and break you, but it won't defeat you. No matter how big your struggle is, God is always bigger.
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
Psalm 56:3
 
This simple verse has been such a good reminder for me. It is a verse I have repeated over and over in my mind recently. 
My family and I recently traveled to Fort Payne to visit with some of my husband's family. It was a much needed weekend away. It is a lot easier to put your worries and stresses momentarily on hold when you are in a different environment. It is a good distraction to just get away. On the way home though, I just kept thinking that I was headed back to face reality. You can take a break, but you can't run away from your struggles. During the trip home I put my headphones in and turned my iTunes on shuffle. In the same way that God always sends me the right verses I need to read, He also seems to send me the right song just when I need it. I could feel myself begin to become anxious and worried again, when all of a sudden a song that I downloaded a few weeks ago and forgot about played in my ears.

Hold Me Jesus
Big Daddy Weave
 
Sometimes my life just don't make sense at all.
When the mountain looks so big and my faith just seems so small.

So hold me Jesus,
'Cause I'm shakin' like a leaf.
You have been King of my Glory.
Won't You be my Prince of Peace?

When I wake up in the night I feel the dark.
It's so hot inside my soul.
I swear, there must be blisters on my heart.

So hold me Jesus,
'Cause I'm shakin' like a leaf.
You have been King of my Glory.
Won't You be my Prince of Peace?

Surrender don't come natural to me.
I'd rather fight You for something I don't really want
Than to take what You give that I need...
And I've beat my head against so many walls,
I'm falling down, falling on my knees...
God, please.
And the Salvation Army band is playing this hymn,
And Your grace rings out so deep.
It makes my resistance seem so thin.

So hold me Jesus,
'Cause I'm shakin' like a leaf.
You have been King of my Glory.
Won't You be my Prince of Peace?

I teared up as I looked out my window and took in every word of this song. I love the personal relationship we can have with Jesus--that we can call Him Father. Hold me. Those words resonated within me. That's exactly what I wanted. It was just how I felt at that moment. I looked at Barrett's lovey riding in the front of the car and my heart ached. Another recent loss also hit me all over again in that moment as I thought about their absence from the holiday season. Everything else going on ran through my mind. But all of a sudden, I felt calm. My heart stopped pounding. The butterflies in my stomach took a break, and I took a deep breath. It was the calmest I had felt in days. 

I am in constant prayer for everyone missing a loved one this Christmas. I am in prayer for everyone who is facing a mountain this day and trying to put a happy face on through it all. Remember you are not alone. He loves you, and He will never leave you.

And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his  span of life?
Luke 12:25
 
Peace I leave with you;my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you.Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
John 14:27
 
So we can confidently say,  “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”
Hebrews 13:6
 
Look up!
 





Tuesday, December 18, 2012

I Will Carry You

I Will Carry You by Angie Smith is a must read for anyone who has lost a child. It was given to me when Barrett died and I am so thankful for that. In reading the book, I also learned of the song. I will post the video at the end, but here are the lyrics:

I Will Carry You
Selah

There were photographs I wanted to take
Things I wanted to show you
Sing sweet lullabies wipe your teary eyes
Who could love you like this?

People say that  am brave but I`m not
Truth is I`m barely hanging on
But there`s a greater story
Written long before me
Because He loves you like this

So I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All my life
And I will praise the One who`s chosen me
To carry you

Such a short time
Such a long road
All this madness
But I know
That the silence
Has brought me to His voice
And He says

I`ve shown her photographs of time beginning
Walked her through the parted seas
Angel lullabies no more teary eyes
Who could love her like this?

I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All your life
And I will praise the One who`s chosen me
To carry you  


I sobbed the first time I heard this song. It is exactly how I feel on a daily basis. There is not a day that goes by that something I will never get to do with Barrett crosses my mind. I miss him so much. The past three days I have grieved deeply. It hasn't been the easiest three days and I can't help but think that maybe it wouldn't be as bad if I could come home and not feel that empty void where Barrett should be.

My whole family loves music and Audrey and I sing all the time. I adored rocking her and singing to her when she was a baby. While I did rock Barrett in my arms for a short time, I never sang to him like that. I did not have enough composure to even consider it. There have been times I went to his grave alone and just sang to him and I imagine him back in my arms for the moment. This song is one that I'm sure Barrett knows the words to if he can hear momma singing in heaven. It is exactly what I want to say to him sometimes.

Verses like Psalm 139:13-16 and Jeremiah 29:11 remind me that God had a plan for Barrett long before we even knew of him. It was never in God's plan for Barrett to walk this earth. Barrett fulfilled his purpose here in 18 weeks. Now his legacy is continuing on.

Another line in this song stands out to me:

People say that I am brave but I`m not
Truth is I`m barely hanging on


I have people tell me on a daily basis how strong I am. I truly appreciate all of your kind words. You have no idea how much your encouragement has done for me. It never fails to bring a smile to my face. But here's the truth: I am weak. I am not strong. My Jesus has been strong for me. He has carried what I can't. He has walked with me through the hardest thing a parent can do. If not for Him, I am scared to say where I would be today.

Designs by Held created a bracelet for me that simply says I Will Carry You. That is my daily promise to Barrett. I physically carried him his entire life here and I am so blessed that God chose me to be his mommy. Though the journey has been painful, it has been amazing and well worth it for the time I had with my beautiful baby boy. Though I can no longer physically carry Barrett, I will speak his name daily. I will tell his story daily. I will do everything I can to make sure he is not forgotten.

As much as I love my son, this song makes another amazing point. Jesus loves him so much more. I would give my life for my children without even thinking. Yet, that love pales in comparison to the love Jesus has for them. In fact, there is no comparison. That's incredible. That is amazing.

I have gained some amazing friends the past few months. God has brought some of the most incredible people into my life through Barrett. For that I am so grateful. I love all of you!

I have also lost some people in my life. I have had people tell me they just can't handle hearing, seeing, or reading about Barrett all of the time because it makes them sad. I understand that and I am not mad at anyone who has done that. But I cannot walk away from the pain or the loss. It is forever a part of me. This is me. For those who have stood by me, thank you. It really means the world to me.




Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Special Day

Today my little family went to visit our missing piece. I was very excited about visiting Barrett's grave today because I found out yesterday that his marker had been placed. I absolutely could not wait to see it.



I feel kind of crazy being so excited about a grave marker, but that is part of my new normal. It was so important for me. That is just one way that his name will live on beyond me. Anyone that visits that cemetery after I am gone will still read my baby boy's name.


You have to understand that although my son is not here with me, I still desire to care for him and protect him. I care for him by taking things to him. I take a card every time I go and I take him things that I so badly desire to give him (like his first Christmas stocking). I take care of him by making sure his resting place is taken care of and beautiful. That is why this was so important to me and why I was so excited about it. I am so happy that it was placed before Christmas. That was an amazing gift for this mom.

I want to take a minute to talk about protecting my son as well. I will answer one question for you--no, I will not publicly share pictures of Barrett on the internet. There have been many recent reports of people taking these images and using them to get free items from baby loss organizations that they can then turn around and sell. It is sad, but I am praying for these people. In saying that, this is one of the few ways I can still protect my boy. I won't take a chance on him being used that way. Please be careful with who you share images of your angel with.

I wanted to share a few pictures of his marker and I also wanted to share a song I heard tonight. The song is called Strong Enough by Matthew West. I can't even describe how much I needed to hear this song tonight. So many times I will turn on the radio to hear a song that is speaking to however I am feeling that day. This song could not have been more perfect today:


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My Better Half

Typical Me face. It's cake and I was starving.
Today I'm going to make another post to brag on my amazing husband. I seriously don't know what I would do without him--he is my support. I can always count on him when I've had a bad day or need to vent. He supports me in whatever save the world mission I am on each day. I cannot thank him enough--sometimes I have to remind myself that, yes, this amazing man is my husband. I am so thankful God brought us together to spend forever together.

We were brought together by our love of guitars and football. We started talking about a picture of me with my guitar and then the amazing Trinity lateral play and our relationship blossomed from there. I am a hopeless romantic, so how could I resist the sweet notes he left on my car (I still have every one of them) or the roses he would send me on random days?

We are the corny couple always finishing each other's sentences and creeping each other out when we say what the other was thinking.

I remember growing up and wondering what my future husband would be like. I never imagined anyone so perfect for me. I know it sounds corny, but we really do complete each other. I cannot imagine my life without him.

Our wedding was a simple, country wedding. I even wore cowboy boots under my dress. This was actually my surprise to my husband because they were Alabama boots. He is an Auburn fan, so that was my laugh to everyone. I waited until right before our wedding kiss to show him and asked him "You still want to marry me?". Obviously, he said yes.

I did not walk down the aisle to the traditional wedding march. Instead I walked down to When I Say I Do by Matthew West. I am in love with the lyrics.


There must be a God, I believe it's true.
Cause I can see His love, when I look at you.
And He must have a plan for this crazy life.
Because He brought you here and placed you by my side.

chorus:

And I have never been so sure of anything before,
Like I am in this moment here with you
Now for better or for worse are so much more than only words
And I pray everyday will be the proof
That I mean what I say when I say 'I do'
Yeah I mean what I Say when I say 'I do'

You see these hands you hold, will always hold you up

When the strength you have just ain't strong enough
And what tomorrow brings, only time will tell
But I will stand by you in sickness and in health

Cause I have never been so sure of anything before

Like I am in this moment here with you
And now 'for better or for worse'
Are so much more than only words
And I pray every day will be the proof
That I mean what I say when I say 'I do'
Yeah I mean what I say when I say

Take my hand and take this ring

And know that I will always love you through anything.

And as the years march on like a beating heart

I will live these words 'til death do us part'

Cause I have never been so sure of anything before

Like I am in this moment here with you
And now for better or for worse
Are so much more than only words
And I pray everyday will be the proof
That I mean what I say when I say 'I do'
Ya I mean what I say when I say 'I do'




I am so blessed to spend forever with this man. I cannot describe the love I feel for him. Not only is he an amazing husband, but I am so proud of the father he is to our daughter and the obvious love he has for Barrett. I hear people all the time say that men don't connect with a baby until they are born. Maybe that is true for some men, but when it comes to my husband it was the complete opposite. My husband is not one to cry, but I saw tears in his eyes when my daughter was born. I saw the immense love he had for our son when we were coping with the fact that we had let him go.

Sometimes tragedy unfortunately tears relationships apart, but I have experienced the complete opposite. My husband and I buried a child. It was the hardest thing we ever faced together, and we did so at a young age and in a new marriage. We went from honeymoon, to baby bliss, to a broken world. But our love for each other only grew stronger.


I have always loved my husband, but I can honestly say I love him more each day. The day Barrett was born I saw just how much in love with him my husband already was, I fell head over heels in love with him all over again. In the midst of the pain, I couldn't help but notice the wonderful love of my best friend and my better half.


 Thank you for all you do--your support, your encouragement, your love for our family. I am so incredibly blessed to call you mine :)








Monday, December 10, 2012

In a Nutshell

I have had many many requests to do a catch up post for those who are just now joining the blog. If you are a newcomer, this is your post!

This blog is written by me (Staci) and was originally started to keep everyone up to date on everything going on with our family. My husband (Brent) and I have a beautiful daughter (Audrey) who is growing way too fast and will be FOUR next month--still blows me away! In May of 2012, two pink lines told us we were expecting baby #2. With Audrey, everything went so smooth. It was seriously the perfect pregnancy. Naturally, I expected this pregnancy would go the same way.

The first week of June was the week of our first baby appointment. Brent and I were so excited, and even more so when we saw a healthy little peanut with a wonderful heartbeat! At nine weeks I was able to have another ultrasound and was once again thrilled to see our little one growing right on track with a wonderful heartbeat. I began to count down the days until I would learn if I would be buying pink or blue. Happy does not begin to describe how I felt. I absolutely love being a mom and I couldn't wait to welcome this baby in the new year. (Barrett was due January 22, 2013)

On August 6 I traveled to Tuscaloosa to find out boy or girl. My husband had to work so I went by myself. Almost 45 minutes after I arrived, our little man finally spread his legs and gave us some great "boy shots". I was thrilled! I would have my girl and a boy. I absolutely could not wait to tell my husband (who by the way did not believe me at first because he wanted a boy SO bad he was convinced he would never have one). I left the hospital and went to pick up a few blue outfits. I bought him an outfit with footballs and one with guitars--2 of mine and my husband's favorite things.

We had already picked out a boy name and a girl name, so Barrett was already decided on. This was on a Monday, and on Saturday we had our "Gender/Name Reveal Party". We had the adorable cake with the blue inside to let everyone know we were Team Blue! Then, we had a monogrammed onesie with his name to tell everyone we had chosen to call him Barrett.

On August 22, I went in for my routine appointment at 18 weeks. I wasn't supposed to have an ultrasound that day, but they happened to have time and told me I could go back if I wanted (I now firmly believe this was the Lord looking out for us). The moment my son popped up on the ultrasound screen, my heart sank. The usually talkative ultrasound technician didn't speak one word and my baby boy did not move at all. He was curled up in a ball and completely still. I watched as she measured him and everything measured 16-17 weeks. My heart sank further. Then, she excused herself. I knew my son was gone. Mother's instinct had already kicked in. All I wanted to do was to save my son. It is a mother's instinct to protect their child. But the problem was there was nothing I could do. Never in my life have I ever felt so completely helpless. I cried out to God and I BEGGED Him to somehow take me instead. I prayed for a miracle and I prayed that they were wrong. But the doctor came back with her and confirmed my worst fears.

I was given the option to induce labor that night or wait a few days or a week. When it came to that decision, I have to be honest with the fact that I didn't even ask my husband what he wanted to do. I knew there was no way I could go for days knowing I was carrying around my dead child. I would have lost whatever sanity I possessed at the time. I was at this appointment alone, but my husband immediately drove to me and followed me home.

I live 45 minutes from the hospital which is a long drive when your world has just come crashing down. I called my mom and then a very good friend and held myself together long enough to tell them what was going on. Then, I completely lost it. Amazingly, the song "Bring the Rain" by MercyMe played in my car and a peace came over me that I can't explain. (I'll post the song at the end of this post in case you have never heard it. LISTEN to it. You have to understand how amazing it was that that song played when it did).

My husband and I went home and packed our things. I had posted the lyrics from "Bring the Rain" to my Facebook page and people began to call and text to ask if everything was ok. I never meant for those lyrics to draw the attention it did, it was just simply how I felt at the time (The part of the song I posted said: Could circumstances possibly change who I forever am in You?) I was in no state to answer texts or calls, so I made another Facebook post. It said:

With the heaviest heart right now, Brent and I are preparing emotionally to let our son be with God. He has no heartbeat as we found out today at a routine appointment. We are heading to the hospital now where we will face this hardest thing we've ever done together. We ask that people please understand we are not in any shape to talk so if you call or text, we are not taking them. Prayers are appreciated as we know God has a plan we are just trying to cope with it as we will never understand it. Our little boy was such an angel that God needed him more and although we won't meet him when we planned too, we will meet him one day and I know he is beautiful.


 I wanted to tell exactly what happened before word got out and stories got flipped around. I wanted people to know that my God was the only reason I was holding it together. 

We went straight back to the hospital and met with my doctor. I was induced at 6:00 p.m. and Barrett was born peacefully sleeping at 6:05 a.m. the next morning on August 23, 2012. He weighed 4.6 ounces and he was gorgeous. Brent and I were able to spend a lot of time with him--holding him, taking pictures with him, and just taking in his beauty.  

The story of Barrett's Blankets can be viewed by CLICKING HERE and clicking the tab "The Story Behind it All"

MercyMe Bring the Rain:



Wednesday, December 5, 2012

August 23, 2012~ Barrett's Birthday

At the beach with Audrey
Many people have asked me about the day Barrett was born. It is becoming easier and easier for me to talk about it. I've always loved sharing, but now I can actually talk about that day without crying. I'm going to use this post to try to answer the questions I am most frequently asked. I was 18 weeks and 2 days pregnant on the day Barrett was born. I was almost halfway through my pregnancy. Because Barrett was born before 20 weeks, the state where Barrett was born classifies his death as a miscarriage. This term can be confusing as most people associate the term with an early pregnancy loss. In fact, my doctor even said it was an outdated term for mid 2nd trimester losses. Because I was so far in my pregnancy, I had to go into the hospital and be induced. I went through eleven hours of labor knowing the whole time that I was giving birth to a child who was gone.

Few words were spoken during those eleven hours. Many prayers, but very few words. We did not see visitors, not even family. I had already cried so much that my eyes were swollen and my eyes and cheeks were permanently red and hurting. I wanted to hold myself together as much as I could and I knew I couldn't do it if I had to face people. I could not even answer calls or texts except for a few people that I consider family and wanted to keep informed.

Brent and I had the option of whether or not we wanted to see Barrett. We both knew we wanted to see him and hold him. One thing that always stood out in my mind is the moment Barrett was born when the doctor said "The baby is here" but then there was silence. There was no beautiful newborn cry that one would expect to follow soon after those words. It was completely silent.

They laid Barrett on a blanket and handed him to us. Everyone left the room and allowed my husband and I to have time with our son. His eyes were open when he was born and I always wondered what he had been looking at. I stared into his eyes for a long time. I counted his fingers and toes. I looked over every inch of his tiny body. Many people have asked me if he was fully formed and while he obviously still had growing to do, he looked like a very tiny baby. He weigh 4.6 oz and was about the length of my hand--just a little longer.

Later during the day, we asked them to bring him back to our room. We took pictures with him and held him some more. I rocked him in my hands. The hardest part of that day was giving him back to the nurses that last time because I knew that would be the last time I ever held his body. That was a hard reality to grasp. I am selfish and I wanted to keep him, though obviously I couldn't. I kept putting it off. I could have held him and looked at him forever. That was so hard. I knew when she walked away with my baby I would never see his body again other than the beautiful pictures that we have and that we treasure. I would never touch my son or look into his eyes again.

I hope this answers some of your questions about that day and our time with our beautiful son.

Teeny Tears Bereavement Diaper
I also wanted to share that we received a Teeny Tears Bereavement Diaper through a giveaway on the Beloved Stars Facebook page. It is perfect and is the perfect size for our Barrett. I hope this picture will give you some perspective on his size because this tiny diaper would have been perfect for him. Please check out both of these organizations and the wonderful things that they do.








Also wanted to share a new favorite song:


Sunday, December 2, 2012

My Life Now

One of my furbabies, Scarlett
Many times I have said on here that I grieve with hope that I will see my son again. That is incredibly true and I am so thankful to know my son is in heaven and that our separation is temporary. My faith gives me hope. My hope gives me joy. But the combination of my faith, hope, and joy cannot erase the pain from losing Barrett.

I've also stated that I struggle with wanting to be independent when I should be leaning on God. This trial in my life put that to the ultimate test. There is absolutely no way that I would be sitting here writing this blog right now had I set out on this journey alone. I can promise you that. The pain of holding my dead son and burying him 3 days later was absolutely without a doubt a bigger burden than I could ever carry. The pain of driving to a cemetery to visit him is a constant pain that I could never endure alone. I promise you that I am no nowhere near that strong. No matter how I may come across, if you think I am strong enough to bury my child and keep living on my own, you are wrong.

The death of my son was more than I could handle, but it wasn't more than He could handle. I can testify He has walked with me and carried me every step of the way.

I have joy in knowing that Barrett is with Jesus. I find great joy in seeing the legacy of my son live on. I find excessive joy in hearing stories of how Barrett's story has impacted people. I find joy in the people I have met because of Barrett.

But there are certain moments like playing football in the yard with Audrey where in the midst of that fun I think I will never do this with Barrett. I thought of that yesterday as I watched Alabama narrowly defeat Georgia. I will never yell at the tv over a football game with Barrett or dance with him when Alabama scores. Those little things that I notice more lately with Audrey, I also accept one thing at a time that I will never share that with Barrett.

Our foster pup, Jase
The week I returned to work after Barrett was born, in fact the first day back, a customer in our store asked me if I had had my baby. Before I even had a chance to think about it, I said, "Yes, but he died. He was born sleeping". The man didn't act awkward or change the conversation. He didn't try to think of an explanation as to what happened. He just said I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. Those words meant so much because there was conviction in them. This man who only knows me from coming in our store was truly heartbroken for me and I can never explain what those few words of his meant. He came back in the store this past Thursday. It was the first time I had seen him since that day. Once again, he did not avoid the subject of Barrett. He didn't dance around the words "miscarriage", or "loss", or anything like that. He shocked me in the best way possible. He asked me about Barrett. He asked me to tell him about my son. I was so happy and so touched that I could have cried right then, but I didn't. I answered him with a smile and told him all about how pretty my baby was. I can't explain how much that meant to me. I was so encouraged for the rest of that day. That man will never know what he did for me that day because I can't explain it to him. I can't find adequate words.

My life is so different now. Every day is new to me. Experiencing things without Barrett is hard. When I looked at the date yesterday I thought about how I should be posting on Facebook that I could officially say "I'm due next month!". I should be frantically putting final touches on his empty nursery. I can't say I have handled the loss of my son or that I will move on soon, because that doesn't happen. You don't handle it, get over it, or move on. You learn to live through it. You learn to live in spite of the pain.

I praise God for being my Rock and holding me up. I could never do this without Him. I would be completely lost. My life is different now. I think differently, act differently, and live differently. But the one thing constant in my life is my Jesus. I am different, but He has always been the same.


My pain is a reminder that I live in a corrupt and fallen world. The fact that I am surviving it is a reminder that I serve an Almighty, all powerful God.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

What is Grief?

Grief:
a : deep and poignant distress caused by or as if by bereavement
b : a cause of such suffering 
Audrey's 1st Beach Trip
This is grief as defined by the Merriam Webster dictionary. I'm sure everyone has heard of the "stages of grief" and all of that psychology on how people grieve. I'm very familiar, as I loved psychology in college and stored a lot of the information. Since losing Barrett, I have felt pressure from different people to grieve a certain way to or to just "be ok" after what they considered enough time.
The Five Stages of Grief:
1). Denial
2). Anger
3).Bargaining
4). Depression
5). Acceptance 
Grief is your own. No one can tell you how to grieve and no two people will grieve the same. I find that the stages of grief are very true, but not necessarily in that order. Moving on to stage 2 of grief does not necessarily mean that stage 1 is over. I find myself going back and forth quite often. Three months later, I still have days where I am in denial of what happened. There is no way my baby died. There is no way that I buried my little boy. I couldn't have buried that little boy I carried, loved, held, and rocked. It can't be possible. But then I look at his pictures or visit his grave--I see the picture of us holding Barrett and crying from pain instead of joy. I bounce around between all stages of 1-5. 

Some people will make you feel like that's not normal or not ok, but it is. However you grieve is normal. That is something I've had to learn no matter what anyone says. 

Sometimes I hold his things and imagine what he might look like today. There are still days when I think How could this be my life? My arms still ache daily. My heart aches daily. I have a peace about what happened, but at the same time I desperately want Barrett here with me. One day I am ok and then some days I feel lost without him. Burying a child is something no parent should ever have to do. It is a heavy weight to carry. I am so thankful that I have never been alone in this journey. My Jesus has been with me every step of the way. There is no way I could live this new life without Him. I am not that strong.

So much has changed. There are people who no longer talk to me because they don't know what to say. There are so many new people in my life who I am so grateful for. The people who love me most speak Barrett's name to me often and aren't afraid to talk about him with me. I am so, so grateful for those people. They have no idea the joy that brings to me. I want to talk about him as much as I want to talk about Audrey (Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE talking about my kids!). I'm that annoying parent who constantly talks about their children. 


When Barrett first died, I fell into the pattern of not speaking his name around certain people because I didn't want to make them uncomfortable. But I have to be honest--it doesn't bother me anymore. If it makes you uncomfortable for me to talk about Barrett, it doesn't bother me at all. I am still going to talk about him. That is the entire reason the subject of pregnancy loss, still birth, and infant loss are so taboo. People who have lost a child must find the strength to be bold and speak out if they want to talk about it. People who haven't must find the strength to just listen. Don't worry about what to say. Just listen. 

The thing that has helped me most in my journey of grief thus far is talking about Barrett. It is therapeutic. He is gone and I understand the world doesn't miss him like I do because they didn't get to meet him like I did. It's easy for the world to forget a soul they never met. It's easy for a world to forget those tiny hands they never held or those tiny cheeks they never kissed. It's easy for the world to forget a miscarried or still born baby. But I am his mommy. I will never forget. I will never be over the loss, and like any mom I am PROUD of my baby and I love to talk about him.

Grief is what you make it. Grief is how you live through it. I don't think grief can be defined across the board. It is an individual definition. 
Love you Barrett and I can't wait to hold you in my arms again--


I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.
John 16:20

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

When Life Knocks You Down


When life knocks you down, get on your knees.

Three months ago, I buried my son. Two weeks ago, my grandfather passed away. Last week, a little boy that I love dearly went to heaven. (Please continue to pray for Landon's family as the hardest days are ahead). I'd be lying if I said I wasn't struggling right now. So many times I have asked God Why? and I don't try to hide that. God already knows what I am thinking, so I go ahead and talk to Him about it. I am so thankful for a God who hears my prayers. I am so thankful for a God I can talk to.

I skipped the traditional Thanksgiving holiday this year. There was no running from house to house eating way more food than I needed to and trying to figure out how to fit in time with all of the family. There was no hustle and bustle to get the Christmas tree up and run out to do Black Friday shopping. I spent the day with my mom cooking for someone else and listening to some hymns with a Bart Millard twist. And I loved it. I loved the simplicity of the entire day.

Christmas is coming up and we've decided to simplify it too. Now, don't think I'm going all "Grinch" or anything. We have a Christmas tree up that Audrey and I will decorate tonight. Our Elf on the Shelf, Buddy, makes his daily appearance, and yes, Santa will visit Audrey.

But I have made it my priority to ensure that Audrey knows Christmas isn't about Santa and presents. It is so easy for children to get caught up in that because we let them and we get caught up in too. They are watching us. They can get excited about those things, but at the same time understand why we celebrate. I am guilty of getting caught up in what Santa will bring her and forgetting to instill in her the whole reason for the time of celebration and why we choose to give gifts on that day.

We are stripping it down this year. We won't just read The Night Before Christmas, but we will read about Christ's birth. We will talk about Santa, but that he is not why we celebrate. Santa will visit, but he won't bring an abundance of toys that she doesn't need. Santa will bring her a few things, and then we will do for someone who wouldn't otherwise have Christmas. Since losing Barrett, Audrey has shown me how giving a child can be. She loves helping others and I want to instill that in her. I pray she never forgets the joy in giving to others.

I'm not stressing over Christmas shopping or what to get anybody, because we are only doing for Audrey and a child in need. And never in my life have I looked forward to a holiday so much. I cannot wait!

My plan is every year to pick a child that is close to the age Barrett would be that Christmas and buy for them. We will be doing this through the Salvation Army Angel Tree Program.


I am so looking forward to Christmas this year and spending time enjoying the family that God has blessed me with and finding ways to include Barrett in that also.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

For Barrett

If I had the chance to tell you
"I love you" one more time
I'd shout it from the rooftops
Tell the whole world that you're mine

If I had the chance to rock you
In that wooden rocking chair
I'd sing you soft, sweet lullabies
And run my fingers through your hair

If I had the chance to hold you
For just a moment more

I'd take in every inch of you                           
I'd kiss you over and over

If I had the chance to carry you
Once again inside of me
I'd lay so still and feel each kick
Cherish every second you're with me

If I had the chance to speak to you
The chance to see your face again
I feel that words would fail me
So I would cry with you instead

I won't get these chances again
Because you left so soon
So I'll cherish the time I had with you
Until we meet again....