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Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow!



     Today I was so excited to be able to go to the DeVos Place and watch the Broadway Musical Annie! I went with my mom and my sisters. It is always a blessing to spend time with them. We had an amazing afternoon, and we were so impressed with the singing and acting throughout the entire production. What a wonderful getaway for the day! Sometimes I think I missed my calling in life! I would love to travel across the country singing and dancing. What a great job that would be!
     Today I am thankful for this opportunity to just go out, forget about everything for awhile, and just enjoy the talents of others. I would highly recommend a Broadway Production if you ever have a chance to go and see one!
     One of the things that stuck out to me, was the hope that shines through even the worst of situations. Annie never looses her hope! I can take a lesson from her! It was a really great reminder to me today. Let me just share the lyrics to one of my favorite songs from Annie... I hope it brings us all a smile and a little hope today!


The sun'll come out tomorrow
Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow
there'll be sun
Just thinkin' about tomorrow
Clears away the cobwebs and the sorrow 'til there's none
When I'm stuck with a day that's grey and lonely
I just stick up my chin and grin and say, oh
The sun'll come out tomorrow
So you gotta hang on
'til tomorrow, come what may!
Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow
You're always a day away!
When I'm stuck with a day that's grey and lonely
I just stick up my chin and grin and say oh
The sun'll come out tomorrow
So you got to hang on 'til tomorrow, come what may!
Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you tomorrow
You're always a day away



Saturday, January 17, 2015

Dear Caroline,





Dear Caroline,

     Happy seven months in Heaven sweet girl.
     Where has the time gone? Can it really be seven months ago that we were holding you in our arms? Can it really be seven months ago that you were so very real? It has been seven months since my heart felt complete. Seven months since I felt, truly felt, like I was a mom. Seven months since I have felt needed, as though I had a real purpose.
     This morning as I sit watching the flicker of your candle in the darkness, I am surrounded by memories. It scares me when I think about how those memories seem so far away. Almost like that day was only a dream. The best dream ever! Yet we know that all dreams must come to an end. Dreams do not last forever, and so that dream ended so suddenly, that moment when your daddy and I knew for sure, that we were alone. That moment sweet girl was the hardest moment of our lives. As we looked at each other, and at the empty crib sitting beside my hospital bed, we both had tears streaming down our faces. It was not suppose to be this way. We were suppose to be changing you, feeding you, getting you all ready for the big and exciting trip home. You were suppose to be ours, to take home, to love, to teach, to cherish, to enjoy. But as we sat together on that bed, we did not know what to say. We both felt so broken. We both felt so lost. We both felt the reality that you were really gone.
     This morning I realize how far we have come since that painful day at the hospital. We did manage to make that trip back home, alone. We did manage to walk back into our house for the first time, just the two of us. We did manage to sleep that night back in our own bed, in silence. We did manage to wake up the next morning, and the next, and the next. We did manage to wade through the deepest moments of grief as the summer sun rose and set each day. We did manage to walk closer in our relationship together, relying on each other for strength and support. We did manage to find moments where genuine smiles touched our faces. We did manage to cry more tears than we ever thought possible, and then we cried some more. We did manage to find small glimmers of hope, even though the sadness seems to last forever. We did all of these things only by the grace of God. He has carried us, in His tender loving arms, through the valley of the shadow of death.  He has walked beside us in moments of joy, in moments of hopelessness, in moments of complete and utter despair. He has carried us in moments of pain and sadness. He has never let us go, even though there were, and are, moments when I wondered.
     Caroline, I wish that I could tell you that your mommy is strong. But that is not always true. Last night, as my heart was completely shattered by yet another disappointment, I wondered if life is ever going to be okay again. I want to hope that God has great plans for us, that He truly wants us to be happy. But somewhere deep inside is that voice telling me that it hurts too much to let yourself hope.  It hurts too much to allow yourself to want something so badly, when you know it just may be beyond your reach. Oh how I wish that today my eyes were filled with happy tears, as I watched you take your first shaky step, or saw you smile at me. But the reality is that my eyes are filled with tears of sadness today, as I realize all that I have missed. My eyes are filled with tears of sadness, as I realize that once again my hopes have been crushed. My heart wonders sometimes if the weight is ever going to be lifted. I wonder if those moments of freedom will ever become more frequent than the moments of pain. I wish that I was stronger Caroline, that I could just put my trust completely in the One who will never ever let me go. But somehow I find that it is a daily struggle. It is not easy to trust, when you have lost so much. When you know that trusting does not always bring happiness. Sometimes when you trust, it leads you to more heartbreak and pain. But what your life has taught me is that trust, real trust, comes from a surrendered heart. A heart that realizes that we are simply human, and that we do fail. A heart that realizes that life is not always going to be a walk in the sunny park. There are days where it rains, and days when it snows, and days when the clouds are so thick we wonder if we will ever see the sun shine through. There are days when we lay on the floor in hopeless tears, wondering why. But when we cling to God and His promises on those dark days, we will be even more equipped and ready to cling to Him on the bright and sunny days. Trust is putting everything in God's hands, even when it could lead to sorrow and pain. Trust is putting everything in God's hands, even when it could lead to joy and happiness.
      My sweet girl, I pray that today you know just how much your mommy loves you. I wish so badly that I could just scoop you up in my arms right now, and hold you close, and breathe in your perfect baby scent, and whisper in your ear how much I love you. I wish that I could kiss your precious cheek, and watch your tiny fingers curl around my hand. I wish that I could stroke your soft dark hair, and gaze into those beautiful little eyes. I wish that I could hear you making noises, and see your chest rise and fall as you laugh. I wish that I could see your daddy holding you in his arms, and watch him fall more in love with you each day. I wish that I could dress you up in the most adorable little dresses, and buy you tiny shoes. I wish that my life revolved around your unpredictable schedule. Oh Caroline, if you only knew how much I would give for even just one more moment with you. One more moment to simply show you the depth of my love. But today and everyday, I pray that God would show you my love. I pray that He holds you tight, and that you get an extra special hug. I know that in Heaven you are able to experience love, true love, firsthand. You are able to know exactly what it feels like to be loved unconditionally, and without abandon. You feel that perfect love each and every moment!
     My beautiful girl, I do not know what the future holds. I find myself so often trying to figure out the future. I want to plan what is to come, and how everything is going to unfold. Yet I am reminded over and over, that the future, that tomorrow, is beyond my control. I do not need to worry about the grief, the pain, the joy, the happiness, or the sadness that will come with tomorrow. Instead I need to focus on today. I need to remember that God gave me today. He gave me today to remember you! He gave me today to thank Him for the good, and to trust Him with the bad. He gave me the blessing of His Presence, and that is enough. So today sweet girl, I am going to spend the day thanking God for the beauty of your life. I am going to thank Him for the miracle that you are to us. I am going to thank Him for the time we were given to enjoy you. I am going to thank Him for holding me close when I miss you so much. I am going to thank Him for your daddy, and for the amazing man that he is. I am going to thank Him for all of the beautiful people that he has placed in my life. I am going to thank Him for His Presence at every moment of my life.
     Caroline, I love to write your name. It always brings a smile to my face. I hope you know how much I love you. You are so loved my precious girl. You are loved! Never forget that. We will love you all of our days on earth, and we look forward to the moment when we can once again be together in Heaven. I rejoice in the thought of our family once again being made whole, and the joy that I will feel in being able to show you how much I love you for eternity!
         Until we meet again,

               Love,
             Mommy




This morning I read from Jesus Calling, and it truly touched my heart. I wanted to share it with you today.

Come to me with a thankful heart so that you can enjoy My Presence. This is the day that I have made. I want you to rejoice today, refusing to worry about tomorrow. Search for all that I have prepared for you, anticipating abundant blessing and accepting difficulties as they come. I can weave miracles into the most mundane day if you keep your focus on Me.
Come to Me with all your needs, knowing that My glorious riches are a more-than-adequate supply. Stay in continual communication with Me so that you can live above your circumstances even while you are in the midst of them. Present you requests to Me with thanksgiving, and My Peace, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your heart and mind.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year- Welcome to 2015



     Wow! Where does the time go? It is amazing that here we are on January 1, 2015 already. Even typing out the numbers 2015 seems strange. I have to say, it will probably take awhile to get used to it. More than likely I will write 2014 numerous times over the next few weeks, before realizing my mistake. I am sure that many of you can relate? Once we enter into a new year, it seems like everything should be different, and yet nothing really changes. I am the same person at 11:59pm as I am at 12:01am. My appearance doesn't just change, nor do my emotions. Life continues to move forward one day at a time, one moment at a time, just as it did in 2014. Yet oddly enough, moving into a new year was a huge and very difficult task. I entered into yesterday with great hesitation.  I actually feared and stressed over the new year more than I did over Christmas. In reality I can not tell you exactly why, because the truth is sometimes our minds and emotions cause our body to feel and do things that do not always have an explanation. But as I reflect over it today I can try to explain why...

Last Year:
     As we approached the new year last year, I was just getting over being miserably sick. Only a few days after Christmas, I came down with the flu. It wasn't just the flu, but the kind of sickness where you lay on the couch and honestly question if you are even going to survive. I barely moved for over a week. But at the same time, I was glowing with the excitement of a growing baby. It was right around the end of December, when Josh and I first noticed that my belly was no longer flat. We could see the very obvious signs that our baby was getting bigger! There are no words to describe how excited we were that we had made it past the first 12 weeks of nerves. Now don't get me wrong, I was still worried about everything, including calling the doctor frantically on a Sunday afternoon right after Christmas because I had a 100 degree fever. But we rejoiced that we had made it to 12 weeks, and we figured that we were safe to start sharing our big news with everyone!
     Now on new years eve last year, I was still feeling incredibly weak, but we had a few friends over to hang out and celebrate. We always have such a great time with our friends! Yet I remember this moment so clearly, as if it was just yesterday. As we were getting the house clean Josh looked at me and said, "next year it will be just you and me and our baby. I can't wait." That moment hit me, because it was when I truly knew that he was ready to take this big step with me. We were ready to become parents for the first time! Later that night, when it hit midnight, and we welcomed in 2014, Josh whispered in my ear, "I can't wait to kiss our baby next year". Those two tiny comments meant the world to me. Yet they have also haunted me often throughout the year as well. Last night as we entered into the new year, I couldn't help but replay those comments over and over in my head. Oh how much can change in just one year. How much you can loose in a year. Last year I never would  have expected it to be just Josh and I again this year. I thought that it would be our little family celebrating together. I thought that we would be snuggled together on the couch, rejoicing in the amazing gift that we had been given. But yet this year, to anyone else it seemed like absolutely nothing had changed. It was just the two of us, like it has always been. There were no little cheeks to kiss, and no precious baby to snuggle. So much can change in a year, and past memories can be so painful. They become very real reminders of what we have lost.

This Year:
     I honestly have to say that I thought 2014 was going to be the best year of my life. I was so excited about becoming a mom. I just knew that it was going to be an adventure, but it was certainly an adventure that I had been waiting for my whole life. The year 2014 has been such a significant year. We started out with such high expectations, and looking forward to all the blessings that it had in store for our new family of three. 2014 is Caroline's year. It will always be her year.  It was the year she was born, it was the year she died, it was the year we learned about what it truly means to cry. It was the year that gave us our beautiful daughter, and so in many ways it was absolutely the best year of my life. Caroline was our amazing miracle, and the time we were able to spend with her was so special. Those are memories and moments that will live in my heart forever. On that early June morning, when we first saw a glimpse of our little miracle, I fell head over heels in love with her, even more than I already had been. The year 2014 gave us our precious Caroline, and it will forever be significant and special. But the year 2014 brought more heartbreak, pain, and tears than I ever dreamed possible. We said goodbye to our sweet girl only 19 minutes after we said hello, and then the next day we left the hospital with empty arms. The remainder of the year has been filled with intense grief, aching arms, and a very quiet house. We are still trying to pick up the broken pieces of our hearts, and trying to establish a new "normal". But as we faced the end of the year, my anxiety grew stronger, and I found that I am so fearful. I am worried that now as we are leaving behind 2014, my little girl will be forgotten. I am afraid that people will just expect that the grieving time is over, and that it is time to move forward with my life. I am afraid that people will stop speaking her name, and that she will only be a distant memory. I am afraid of what this new year holds for us, not only in regards to the past, but also what is in store for the future. 
     Today I sat back and thought over the past year. The one thing that absolutely stood out was the faithfulness of God. Even though there were moments when I questioned if He had abandoned us, and left us to fend for ourselves, I can see very clearly how He was very much there in every moment. He never once left us alone. My God has been faithful in the good moments and in the tough moments. As I sit here reflecting over the past year, I just wanted to share some highlights with you.

~ We made some improvements on our house this year, and we are now very close to putting it up for sale. But we also finally have it at a point where we can relax and enjoy it!

~ Josh and I both enjoyed our first Mother's Day and Father's Day as parents, even though our baby was still growing inside of me at the time.

~ In February we received the news at 18 weeks that our precious baby was "incompatible with life" due to Limb Body Wall Complex. We knew in that moment that the time we would have with our baby was going to be short.

~ We took Caroline to a Lady Antebellum concert with her aunts, we went to the cottage in Cadillac and spent Memorial weekend with my family, we went to Chicago and enjoyed all the sights, and we went to many Griffins games!

~ We spent many happy moments watching our precious baby moving around on the ultrasound screen!

~ On June 17, at 5:06 in the morning, we were able to meet our precious baby for the first time. We spent 19 amazing minutes with her in our arms, loving her with every breath that we took. Those moments in the hospital, where we shared her with our family and friends, were the absolute best moments of our life.

~ We released beautiful white balloons into the sky in honor of our precious baby after her memorial service.

~ Exactly three weeks after she was born, around 8:30 in the morning, I received the phone call from the doctor's office with the news that our baby was a little girl. We proudly named her Caroline Joy Mulder.

~ Our summer was spent grieving and trying to establish a new "normal".

~ In August we began the Blankets of Love ministry. It has completely exceeded my every expectation. We now have baby blankets in 9 Michigan hospitals! I pray that God will continue to work through this ministry and help it continue to grow in the new year. It has been a huge part of my healing process, and it has also been a beautiful way to honor Caroline.

~ In November I accepted a new teaching job. I am now working at West Side Christian, and I love it!

     Looking back at just a few of the highlights of the past year, I realize that one of the most important parts is all of the people who have been standing beside us. I am so incredibly thankful for each one of you. I wish that I had the time to personally say thank you. But my heart is full of thanks to all of those who made us meals, sent us cards and gifts, who prayed for us, visited us, called us, cried with us, remembered with us, and were brave enough to speak her name. I cannot even begin to tell you how much it means when you talk about her with us, ask us how we are doing, and just offer us a hug. We have been shown the greatest of love, and it is so obvious that God can and does work through His people. From the very bottom of my heart I want to say thank you. Please know that we will continue to covet your thoughts and prayers as we enter into this new year. I wish that a new year meant that everything just gets better, but that is not how it works. I know that the new year is going to be filled with so many new thoughts, feelings, and emotions. It is certainly not going to be easy, and we greatly appreciate continued thoughts and prayers.
     God has taught me so much throughout the past year. I think that if you have read my past blog posts, you will see just how much he has taught me, and how much he continues to teach me. As difficult as this year has been, I am thankful for all of the lessons that I have learned. I am now such a different person than I was back in January of last year. In so many ways I feel like I have aged about 50 years. But I have now learned so many lessons in such a short time. I have learned the importance of spending time daily with God. I have learned the importance of cherishing all of the blessings that God has given to me, even the smallest blessings. I have learned the importance of slowing down, and enjoying the quiet moments. I have learned that it is entirely okay to say no, and not feel guilty about it. I have learned how to open my eyes to see the struggles of others, and to be more sensitive and less judgmental. I have learned what it truly means to love, even when it hurts. I have learned that it is okay to rely on others, when you just can't do it on your own. I have learned that it is okay to cry, to be angry, to feel numb, to be happy, to feel defeated, and to question everything, all in the same day. I have learned that it takes great strength and vulnerability to grieve in a healthy way. I have learned that God will carry me, when I have no strength to take a step forward on my own. I have learned that God draws near in those moments when I do not know where my next breath is going to come from.  Now today, as we face a new year, it is with tears in my eyes that I lift my hands in praise to God. I praise Him for all that He has taught me, and for all the things that He will continue to teach me in the years to come.
     I do not know what God has in store for us this year. Now that I am no longer blind to the harsh realities that can and do happen, I find that the anxiety can be crippling. I am fearful of what this new year holds. It scares me to think that I could loose more. Yet at the same time I feel hope, which brings a feeling of joy and excitement to my heart. I am eager to see what this year holds for us! I have learned that in the face of the unknown, the only thing that we can do is trust. We need to trust that our God, who has been faithful in the past, will continue to be faithful in the future as well. I know that no matter what this next year holds, God will be there beside us in the good and the bad. So in this moment, with my hands outstretched, I place my complete trust in  Lord. Although 2014 was the worst year of my life, and the best year of my life, I know that He held us close. No matter what the future holds for us, I choose to trust in His plan.
     This morning in the midst of feeling entirely overwhelmed and a bit freaked out, I stopped to listen to this song. I may have shared this song in a previous blog post, but I thought that it was incredibly fitting for the first day of a new year. I hope that the lyrics bless you today as they have blessed me. My prayer today is that God allows each of us to experience His unconditional love, and Almighty Presence this year in a new way. Blessings to everyone in the new year! Thank you for continuing to read and share in Caroline's story! You have truly blessed me in a very special way.

 
 
Already There
Casting Crowns
 
From where I'm standing
Lord it's so hard for me to see
Where this is going
And where You're leading me
I wish I knew how
All my fears and all my questions
Are gonna play out
In a world I can't control

Oh, oh

When I'm lost in the mystery
To You my future is a memory
Cause You're already there
You're already there
Standing at the end of my life
Waiting on the other side
And You're already there
You're already there

Oh, oh, oh, oh

From where You're standing
Lord, You see a grand design
That You imagined
When You breathed me into life
And all the chaos
Comes together in Your hands
Like a masterpiece
Of Your picture perfect plan

When I'm lost in the mystery
To You my future is a memory
Cause You're already there
You're already there
Standing at the end of my life
Waiting on the other side
And You're already there
You're already there

One day I'll stand before You
And look back on the life I've lived
I can't wait to enjoy the view
And see how all the pieces fit

One day I'll stand before You
And look back on the life I've lived
Cause You're already there
You're already there
When I'm lost in the mystery
To You my future is a memory
Cause You're already there
You're already there
Standing at the end of my life
Waiting on the other side
And You're already there
You're already there