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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


 

2 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts- I appreciate them so much, at this difficult time of year. My Beatrix will always be (the entire year of) 2010 for me, in the same way 2014 will always be Caroline's year for you. <3

    I promise you, I will never forget your sweet Caroline. We will be praying for you in the new year.

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  2. Thank you so much Sarah! I am so thankful for you and please know that you have made a big impact on my life. You were there for me in some of the very worst moments of my life. I am so glad that God led me to you and your website.

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