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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

In Her Honor

     Knowing that Caroline's 3rd birthday was approaching, I was praying that God would lead me to a special way that we could serve others in her honor. About a week before her birthday, that prayer was answered! I was so excited to hear about a Life Walk that was happening on the exact morning of her birthday. It was truly an answer from God! The walk happened at Allendale Community Park, and was put on by the Lakeshore Pregnancy Center. 
     When we received Caroline's diagnosis, one of the first options given to us was to terminate the pregnancy. Josh and I both knew immediately that it was never an option for our family, for our baby. We strongly believe that God has a plan and a purpose for each and every precious life, no matter how long or how short their time is here on earth. Choosing life for our baby never felt like a choice. However, I do know that there are many people who are faced with a pregnancy that is not planned. Many who are ready to bring a new life into this world, but do not have the resources or funds to provide for that child. Many who feel trapped, and do not believe they have any other options. So the ministry of the Lakeshore Pregnancy Center, which provides resources, classes, ultrasounds, and guidance is so needed. The work that they do each day is so important. 
     Every single life has a purpose. Every single life has value. Every single life is special, precious, and important. My hope is that by participating in life walk, we were able to celebrate the value of human life. I strongly believe that Caroline's life is a testimony of our Creator, who has a purpose and a plan for each life. We know that God has a purpose for our sweet girl, and although we will never fully understand why she had to be taken away from us so soon, we do trust that His plan for her life is still at work each and every day. Being able to celebrate her life by taking part in this life walk was such a special way to celebrate her birthday. 
     The walk was held early on Saturday morning, June 17. We were able to join others in a celebration for life, as we walked about 1.5 miles around Allendale. The early morning had brought lots of rain and even a thunderstorm, but the storms had blown over by the time we met for the walk. It was humid, and sticky, but it was so special to walk alongside of our wonderful friends and family that morning. What a blessing to know how much they love Caroline along with us! Our little Noah walked almost the entire walk all by himself! It was a perfect morning to celebrate life, and to celebrate Caroline. 
    I also wanted to say a huge thank you to all of those who remembered Caroline along with us on her birthday. There will never be enough words to fully express how much I appreciate all of the love and support that was showered on us. Thank you from the very bottom of my heart to all of those who took the time to text or call me, to say Caroline's name aloud, to wish her a happy birthday, and to reassure my mommy heart that she is remembered and loved and celebrated. Thank you so much to all of the beautiful people who came out on that early Saturday morning to walk alongside of us at the life walk. Wow! I cannot even begin to express how much it truly meant to Josh and I to have you there with us. Thank you for celebrating Caroline with us in such a tangible way! I am so glad that the rain stopped before we started walking! We have so many many special people in our life, and we continue to see the hands and feet of Jesus at work through all of you. Thank you!
     I continue to be overwhelmed by the beautiful outpouring of support from those who read my blog, and comment on my posts. You will never know how much all of your comments touch my heart. Thank you for encouraging me. Above all, thank you so much for the prayers. The day was completely bittersweet, filled with happy memories, and celebration of Caroline's precious life. But it was also filled with tears, grief, aching hearts, and a flood of emotions. Knowing that we were being covered in prayers meant so much. 
     We serve such an amazing God! As I look back over the past 3 years, I can see how far we have come. Each and every day since we said goodbye to Caroline, has been filled with its own challenges and its own struggles. We have experienced happiness beyond measure, smiles that reach our ears, laughter that fills our home, hope that has been fulfilled, and hearts that are content. We have also experienced sorrow beyond measure, tears that seem to never end, conflicting emotions, overwhelming grief, empty arms, and the desperate pleas for things to be different. So much emotion, so many experiences, so many memories. So much has happened in just 3 short years. We have experienced the greatest heartbreak, and yet we are still standing. We have said goodbye, and yet we know that one day we will once again say hello. We have lost so much, yet we have gained immeasurably more. We can say with all of our hearts, that in the good times and in the really really hard times, God has never left our side. He is with us always. And we know that He will continue to stand beside us in the years to come, as we navigate the grief, the joy, the laughter, and the pain.

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