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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day



                                               Happy Valentine's Day


     I have never been one to celebrate Valentine's Day. It has always been  more important for me to celebrate the love I hold for others each and every day of the year. But there is something special about Valentine's Day. Maybe it is the commercials on TV that bring tears to my eyes. Or the beautiful bouquets of flowers that fill the aisles at Meijer. Maybe it the thought of a day where you can eat as much chocolate as you want without feeling guilty! But regardless, there is something special about a day that is specifically set aside to show your love.
     Last year during this week, Josh and I were in a spiral of emotions, fears, devastation, heartbreak, disbelief, and shock. On February 11, we received the news that our precious baby was not going to live after birth. Looking back one year later, I can still feel every one of those raw emotions playing through my mind. I never thought it was possible to feel so many things at once. Yet during that week, I slept and I cried more than I ever thought possible. But the hard  part was that it was not just a weeks worth of grief. Instead, we had started on a journey that will last forever. Even now as I write this, tears fill my eyes as I remember Valentine's Day last year. The week before I had happy thoughts swirling through my head. On Monday we would have our ultrasound, we would see our little one moving around, we would see each little finger and each little toe, we would see the tiny eyes, ears, and a nose. It would be a whole weeks worth of celebration! We could not wait! But oh how quickly that changed. No longer did I even want to think about celebrating. My mind was completely consumed by the pain that so quickly became a forever reality. Our precious, long awaited baby was not going to live.
     Somehow in the midst of all those thoughts, feelings, and emotions, we made it through that first week, the second week, and even the months to come. I honestly stand here right now in complete awe that it has been a year since we sat shocked in that dark ultrasound room. How does time move forward when all you want is for it to stand still? The truth that I can only say because I have walked down this road, is that we move forward because God Loves Us.
    For some it may be so difficult to believe that God would still love us. To be honest there were so many, and still are, moments where I fall to my knees crying out to God. I find myself calling out "God do you still see me? Do you still love me? Do you want me to ever be happy again?" When we walk down a dark and painful journey, one that never seems to fade away, no matter how much times moves forward, we question the goodness of God. We wonder how he could still love us, if he wants us to go through so much heartbreak. Why would he place so much on our already weak and broken shoulders, and expect us to carry on? I am writing this from a place of truth and honesty, because I have been there, and I still find myself there sometimes. We know in the Bible that God promises to never give us more than we can bear, but at times we find that it just feels like too much. We wonder if anything will ever be right again. We wonder if we will ever be able to smile again.
     But today as I reflect over the past year, and how far we have come, I can see glimpses of God throughout each and every moment. Sometimes we must stumble down the darkest path, in what seems to be blinding darkness, in order to see the hand of God guiding us toward the light. For some of us the path of darkness is short, and it does not take long to reach the light. For others the path seems to go on forever, and we begin to doubt that there will ever be light again. Yet as I stumbled, and slipped, and hesitantly moved along that dark path throughout the past year, I know without a shadow of doubt, that God was holding my hand. Even though there were many moments when I questioned his love, he was right beside me, holding me up. He carried me when I could not get up on my own. He held me when I was too weak to move. He wiped my tears as they fell. He guided me when I stumbled, over and over and over again. He allowed me to question, to yell, to wrestle. Yet through my weakness, God LOVED ME. He LOVED ME! It is such a beautiful truth!
     I am so thankful that I have a God who loves me unconditionally. I have a God who truly wants the best for me, and that is why He walked beside me in the hardest times. He never meant for me to go through such pain alone. He never meant for me to face such a heavy loss on my own. I have a God who knows me, who knows what I need, and who knows how to love me even when I do not feel it. I have a God who is faithful, and who will love me in my worst moments, and in my best moments. There is no greater love than that!
     One of the many verses that I have cherished during the past year comes from Psalm 143:8, it says " Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul." I cannot even begin to tell you how many moments of uncertainty I have faced in the last year. So many questions, so many decisions, so many doubts. Yet the one thing that has remained constant is the unfailing love that can only come from a God who truly cares. He has guided our path, because we put our trust in Him. We knew that in a situation like this, we could only turn to the one who knows, who understands, and who holds the entire world in his hands. We put our lives, and the life of our sweet baby in his hands right from the beginning, and we know that He has been faithful. He continues to love Josh and I in every moment, and He never fails to bring us beautiful reminders each day of his great love and faithfulness in our lives. We also know that our sweet Caroline is experiencing the greatest of love. It brings such comfort to our hearts to know that she only knew the most unconditional love. She knew love while she was growing inside of me for 35 weeks, she was born into love, and felt our love during the 19 minutes we cradled her in our arms. But even more, she knows God's love in the most beautiful way. I know that she is being held in the loving arms of her creator, and that she is experiencing real and true love today and everyday.
     About a month ago, I was walking through the dollar store, and passed by the Valentine's aisle. It hit me hard when I saw all of the pink and red and purple, because I wish so badly I could be dressing up my little princess for Valentines day this year. But suddenly I saw something that made my heart stop for a moment. It was a butterfly balloon, covered in pink hearts. Immediately it brought a smile to my face. I just knew that this was a perfect balloon for my little girl. I was hoping to bring it to Caroline's grave today. But with the weather being so incredibly cold, and me being stuck on the couch with a miserable cold, I decided to place it somewhere special where Josh and I could enjoy it as well. So all day on Valentine's Day, that little balloon brought smiles to our faces. I picture her up in heaven with Jesus, smiling down on her sick mommy, and sending us lots of kisses. As much as I wish she was in my arms today, so I could hug her and kiss her and spoil her and tell her I love her a million times over, I know that this Valentine's Day she is experiencing the incredible love of her Savior. We know that it is only through His love, that we have learned how to love. What a beautiful picture of unconditional love to celebrate on Valentine's Day! 



This morning I read this from the book Jesus Lives, a book on seeing His love in your life. I wanted to share it with you today...

     My light shines on you continually, whether you are aware of it or not. During the wee hours of the night, your thoughts are often distorted- even catastrophic. Although you may feel as if you're enveloped in darkness, remember that darkness and light are alike to me. I am with you and my love for you never fails. You need the light of my presence supremely more than you need the light of day.
     When the way before you seems dark and threatening, you can still trust me to guide you. Walking by faith is akin to using radar to discern the way you should go. Instead of trying to see through clouds of uncertainty up ahead, fix your eyes on me. I can show you a way forward where there appears to be none. Moreover, as you strive to stay in communication with me, your soul opens up to me. Even in the midst of your struggle, my loving presence can fill your soul with warm delight.

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