Thursday, November 26, 2009


Today is Thanksgiving.
We are visiting family and having a nice day. Lots of delicious food. Lots of smiles and laughter. Lots of relaxing.

Yet I'm struggling inside.
I want so badly to be thanful for the many blessings we have.
But My heart is hurting.

How can I be thankful admist all the pain I still feel?
How can I be thankful for family... when I am missing such an important part?
How can I smile and be excited to finally be together with family after so long, when I just feel things are so incomplete?

Brayden should be here.
Brayden needs to be here.
This sucks.
How I wish we could all be together.
How I wish Brayden was able to be apart of making dumplings with Papa and Nathaniel as he should be this year...

How I wish things were different.

But yet I stop... take a deep breath, and commit to opening my eyes and my heart to enjoy and be thankful for all the things we do have.

I am thankful for a place to live... our own house at that!
I am thankful for a wonderful, loving, and supportive Husband, who has stuck with me and by me through the last 12 years...
I am thankful for my children. All three of them.
I am thankful for jobs. (especially in such difficult economic times.)
Most of all, I am thankful for my Heavenly Father. Who loves me more than I will ever be able to comprehend, no matter how much I fail. Who wants the best for me.. a future full of hope. A Father who is my ultimate provider.. and always makes a way. A Father who comforts me and holds me in the palm of His hand. A Father who has everything under control.
I know there is so much more... more than I can even list here...
I am blessed, I am hopeful, I am loved, and...
Today... I will choose to be Thankful.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

a good cry.

Tonight as I rocked Ellie to sleep, I couldn't hold back the tears.

I was taken back to the nights I rocked you to sleep...

It still hurts so much... I miss you more than words can say.
Yet, the tears don't come as often. The thoughts are not so overpowering.
Life is moving forward.
I guess thats a sign of healing. a new part of this grieving journey. But it still sucks.
It makes me feel guilty, in a way that is hard to express...

I talked about you today. We talked about your birthday. Talked about what we will do. How will we celebrate this year.

What would we do if you were here?? I'm sure it would be a blast. Something like chuck e cheese. I can't believe you'd be 3...

I wish I could make you a cake.
I wish I could decorate and celebrate anyway you would like.

Instead, We will just celebrate the life you lived. Celebrate the time we shared. and take time to remember.

My arms still ache to hold you,
My lips to kiss your forehead.

No real rhyme or reason for the tears today.
Just missing you
tonight made me feel just a little bit better..
tonight I had a good cry.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Gone too long...

Today sucks. Reality sucks. I miss my baby boy.
I am so thankful for every day, every moment we were able to spend with him.
But it wasen't enough.
Time still moves on... life moves forward.
As hard as it is to fathem that ...

Today marks the time that Brayden has now been gone, longer than he was with us...
That's hard to admit. hard to comprehend.
It brings new fears... fears of feelings of forgetfulness. Of feeling like he will be less and less remembered. I can't seem to find the right words, the right emotions or whatever to make sense of these thoughts and feelings.
The mark of today... It somehow brings fears of his life loosing value. I guess this is really my fear of what others might think, or feel. if that should matter.
But it does.
I want his life to be validated. Remembered. Important.
He was Here... he made a huge impact... and was IS a big part of this family.
No matter how many days, months, and years pass by... the 17 months and one day we were gifted to spend with him will always be just as special. Will always mean just as much, and will be treasured forever.

Not much to be said. Not much to feel. It just sucks.
He's been gone too long.

Friday, November 6, 2009

A special moment

Last night, as Jake and I were sitting in the living room relaxing we saw something beautiful. Nathaniel was already in bed and it was about time to put Ellie down, but she was so happy and playing that we left her up.

I looked over to check on her and found her by the fireplace hearth. Several of her toys are kept there so it wasen't unusual to see her over there. But this time was different. She was standing up and placed both hands on the picture of Brayden that sits there. She was right on his face. Jabbering and smiling and laughing. It was the cutest thing. She then grabbed the Brayden bears that sit close by and was hugging/kissing them and putting her face in them.

This was the first time I have seen her "interact" with the picture or bears. It was so special. I cryed, I smiled, and of course I grabbed my camera!

I feel so blessed to have Elliana and Nathaniel. They are my life, my motivation.. and my strength. I know it is because of them more than anything (other than God, of course!) that I make it through each day.
One of the hard things though as I watch them play and grow... is the reminder that they will not grow up with their brother... Nathaniel, very likely, will not remeber him, and Elliana will never know her big brother Brayden.
That is a hard fact to swallow.
But then.. beautiful moments like this one tonight take place... and I have to tell myself, They WILL remember Brayden... Elliana WILL know her brother Brayden, even though she never met him this side of Heaven.
We will share memories.
We will show (MANY!) pictures.
We will watch movies and tell stories.
We will laugh, we will cry...
and we will NEVER Forget.
I love you Brady Boo.... miss you more each day.
Always in my Heart.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wednesday's Walk ... Down Memory lane...

For today's memory walk, I wanted to go back to one of the last most special memories we had with Brayden. My sister Lauren had gotten married on May 24th. We drove up to Maryland for the wedding and had a great time with friends and family. On the way home we decided to stop at "South of the Border." I knew the boys would enjoy walking around, seeing some silly things and getting ice cream! (Not to mention its a great place for photo's!! ) The highlight was definately being able to go way up in the Sunbraro!

The boys checking out the view...

Mr. Daredevil was ready to jump!

My lil binky boy!

Nathaniel being cute (:

...way, way up in the sky!

Helllooo.. up there!!! ...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween Memories

After a fun and eventful weekend... I couldn't help but sit and reminise tonight on the memories of our Halloween with Brayden. I looked through some more pictures at all the wonderful fall memories we have. Here are some from his first "trick or treating" experience!

My cute lil "Friendly" Ghost!


The Boys! Brayden, Nathaniel and Paulie (: ... Ready to get some candy!! (and not wanting to take pictures! lol)

Once we got home to relax lil mr. curious found out there was some good stuff inside that pumpkin!

We had a fun night!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Remembering our Babies...

Today is...

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

I'm not sure if I feel that I belong in this category or not. It is a difficult thing that I struggle with. I hate the fact that I can empathize with many other Mothers who can also say, "I have lost a child". I have not lost an infant. I have been pregnant 3 times. I have 3 beautiful children. I am also so blessed to say that I have never had a miscarriage. When you see my family, there are only 4 of us. In June of 2008 our precious Brayden went home to the arms of Jesus at 17 months old.
Since loosing Brayden, it has been amazing how many people I meet or hear about everyday who also know this pain. Who have lost babies too soon or never had the joy of holding the precious ones being knit together in the womb. It's a journey noone should have to walk. It's a heartache noone wants to feel. It's hard. It hurts.
But God Heals. His peace passes all understanding, and He truly is there to carry you through. I am so thankful for the family and friends that we have to surround us, encourage us, and lift us up in prayer. I know it is the Grace and Mercy of my God, my comforter, who has helped us make it through the dark days.
Today, I want to take time to remember all the angel babies, who await us in Heaven. I know that one day we will celebrate with them in that beautiful place. I am thankful for the hope that gives me to know I will hold my baby boy again.
A Mother's Heart is a special thing. Whether it was for a few days, weeks or even years that you have called yourself a Mother; know that you are special. God has called us to an amazing place to be called Mothers. He holds us in the midst of our pain and knows what is like to loose a child.
I have 2 children here with me to love on and raise here on earth but cannot wait until the day that I am reconnected with my beautiful Brayden. That will be an amazing day. I am blessed with so many things and filled with Hope for the future that I know my creater holds for us. I believe in the scripture that states, "ALL things work together for the good of those who Love Him and are called according to His purpose." and, "He who began a good work in US, will bring it to completion..." I know that God will use us to touch the lives of others and help bless others in the midst of our hurting. I want to bring Him glory and allow Him to make beauty of these ashes.
To all those who have experienced pain and loss. I pray God's peace that passes all understanding. I pray for comfort and for strength to face each day.
We Remember them.

Brayden Russell
Jan. 5,2007 - June 6, 2008

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wednesday's Thursday's Walk ... Down Memory lane...

It's thursday.. but I really wanted to post another memory for my Wednesday's walk down memory lane and my internet has been down for a few days so I was not able to do it yesterday. So, a day late, here it goes...

It's October. It's hard to believe that fall is upon us and the end of another year is near. It is a tough time of year... when festivities begin and Holidays are spent with family. A time of year when many dearly miss loved ones who are not here with us. Last year was hard. Last year I didn't want to do anything this time of year. I felt paralized in sorts. Like I couldn't do anything... without my Brayden. We didn't go to the pumpkin patch, no hayrides or scarecrows... there just wasn't the same excitment. This year I still miss him so much. It's still hard. But this year, instead of the intense pain of feeling like I can't move on, I just truly miss him. I look forward to the days ahead. I have a new excitment of seeing Elliana experience things for the first time. I watch in wonder as Nathaniel gains new insight and understands things in such a new way as he gets older. New memories are to be made, so many moments to be treasured.

As I think about the season ahead I choose to focus on the memories and moments that were shared with Brayden. The joy he brought us in the time we had with him is unforgetable and irreplaceable. We did so much with Brayden the first and only Holiday season he spent with us. Pumpkin patch (es!), hayrides, costumes, pictures, family, more pictures, presents, and yes Candy! Did I mention memories? Do I have pictures? Oh yes.... Sooo many!! Over this next month I want to share our Fall adventure memories on Wednesdays.

My lil Punkin'!
I love fall. I love the weather, I love the colors, I love the pumpkins, and all the festivities! I always called Brayden "my lil punkin!" because he was so teeny. Nathaniel was a small baby... but Brayden even had him beat. I loved that we had small cute cuddly babies... and 'punkin' just always fit and stuck with Brady Boo.

I start with our first trip to the pumpkin patch. No, not a real patch... just a local church that sells lots of pupkins. My sister was here visiting with my nephew and my Mom was also with us. We were so excited to take the kids to get pumpkins and take cute pictures! We packed everyone up and got there, just to find that they were closed! We were so upset... and so were the boys. We decided that there was no reason why we couldn't walk around and take pictures anyway! What harm was there in that? so thats what we did. The boys were amazed and how many pumpkins there were and how many different sizes they were. Big ones, small ones, tiny ones... even some white and green ones! Now... taking pictures of a 10 month old, 1 1/2 yeaar old and 3 year old are not easy! (to say the least!)... especially when there are consumed with and completely distracted by thousands of pumpkins! It was fun interesting, trying to capture these moments. (Between stopping rolling pumpkins and catching falling displays as to not... ahem ... destroy the place. ) Here are some of my favorite shots from that day.

The Boys! Cousins at the Pumpkin Patch Place to Buy Pumpkins!

My cuties surrounded by orange! He LOVED all the pumpkins! Especially all the little ones he could hold on to.

My adorable Boys
Another of the many faces of my expressive Brayden!

chillin' with pumpkins (:
Such sweet memories.. such a fun day. We miss you everyday sweet Brayden. You will always be my precious lil punkin!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Just thoughts...

I haven't posted here in awhile. I'm just not sure what to type. Life is here... it's moving forward, somehow. But it's still hard. I feel like I'm stuck in slow quicksand... I can see the other side and know I want to get out. I feel like I'm making steps in the right direction, but somehow I just end up deeper in crud or backwards. I just don't know how to catch up or get back on track with things. How could I have left things be for so long... to get so bad. I know I did what I needed to do by staying home, but it's hard to realize how much that hurt us financially. How can I get rid of this overwhelming feeling so that I can begin to clear my head and focus on the important things? I just can't make sense of anything... I want to make things right, but instead nothing is getting done.

I finally cleaned out some of my old purses and wallets. Found Brayden's health insurance card. I couldn't throw it away. It made me feel sad.. but made me happy all at once. It was that reminder, that assurance that yes, he was here... he did exist. It's hard to imagine that life will go on and soon those mere moments in life that were spent with my Brayden will feel smaller and smaller. Were getting closer to the time when he will be gone longer than he was here with us. Thats a hard fact to swallow.
I miss him. I miss life with him. I miss knowing what things would be like. I miss not being able to see Ellie and him interact. I miss the things that will never be.
I want to focus on the memories. I need to cherish the moments more.
Life is too short.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A creative Name

It has really been heavy on my heart lately to start a support group for parents who have lost small children. I know that part of this is selfish because I want it for myself, but I really do want to help others. To know that my story, my journey would be able to help someone else means so much. I want this to have something good from it.

Things are still very much in the works and I have no idea how long before it could become a reality.. but I am hopeful (and prayerful!)

One of the big things I am struggling with is a name! I have no idea what to call the group?!? I thought about doing something with Brayden's Name to honor Him (ex. Brayden's Hope, Because of Brayden...) But I worry that makes it too much about Him. I also thought about trying to make an acrostick (sp?) but I am so not creative. I also considered Heart to Heart... since thats really what I want to do, just share our hearts and journeys with each other. Our hard times and good times, tears and laughter... But , I kinda think that one just sounds cheesey!

SO Help!! Anyone out there reading have any ideas? suggestions??? Please share!!

Wednesday's Walk ... Down Memory lane...

The day is almost over but I wanted to end it with a memory before I go to bed. (So it's going to be short.. I may add more later!) One of my favorite memories of Brayden is the memories of how dramatic he was! I wish I had a picture of his exasperated look! He would get all flustered and throw his head back, drop his shoulders and let out a sigh. It was the cutest thing and we could never help but laugh when he did this! He truly was such a drama king and wasen't afraid to let you know how he felt about a given situation.

I miss that face... I miss that look... I miss him.

So thankful for the memories...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Just one of those days...

Nothings going right
The tears flow
Life just doesn't seem fair

The kids are sick
Late for work...

Non-compliant kids at work
Slipped and fell
Banged me knee

Needing solitude
needing tears
...just one of those days

Missing Him
Needing him here
wanting more than anything for life to be different

Went and sat with him today
staring at the stone, still feels so sereal
but it brings comfort somehow

the birds still churp
the pinwheel spins
the cars fly by

Life will move on
Things will be ok
...Just one of those days.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

An Invasion of Dragonflies...

Today was the first day back to work after a 3 day weekend. It was hard to wake up this morning. It was tough getting motivated for anything. Suprisingly, I got up and made it in good time... I had to be at a meeting after work so I had to figure out the kids and work out little details. The morning went by fairly quickly but I still felt off and a bit frazzled. I rushed over to my mom's to drop off the pickup sign for car rider line and then rushed off to my second school. Of course, my luck on a day like this... I get pulled over. Joy.
I pulled up to school, very late and even more frustrated and frazzled than before. The class was already out at the playground so I put my things down and met them outside. While we were out there a swarm of dragonflies was overhead right where we were standing. It was really wild. Another assistant from the class made the comment about the invasion of the dragonflies...
Me? .. I just smiled. As I looked up to the sky to see all those dragonflies, I felt some sort of relief. Things were going to be alright. I just needed to take a deep breath and take a step at a time. That was just the sign I needed today... a sign from my baby boy. Wish I would have been able to take a picture. I felt a calm and as if I was surrounded by Brayden... It's hard to put into words. I just wanted to say... nope, they're just there for me... It's my Brayden, letting me know things will be fine! (: As we were about to walk back inside I looked up again to see all but one out of sight and the other about to fly away... again I smiled. And then blew a kiss to heaven, thankful for that special moment, another sign, and thankful for the Invasion of Dragonflies. Today was the first day back to work after a 3 day weekend. It was hard to wake up this morning. It was tough getting motivated for anything. Suprisingly, I got up and made it in good time... I had to be at a meeting after work so I had to figure out the kids and work out little details. The morning went by fairly quickly but I still felt off and a bit frazzled. I rushed over to my mom's to drop off the pickup sign for car rider line and then rushed off to my second school. Of course, my luck on a day like this... I get pulled over. Joy.

I pulled up to school, very late and even more frustrated and frazzled than before. The class was already out at the playground so I put my things down and met them outside. While we were out there a swarm of dragonflies was overhead right where we were standing. It was really wild. Another assistant from the class made the comment about the invasion of the dragonflies...
Me? .. I just smiled. As I looked up to the sky to see all those dragonflies, I felt some sort of relief. Things were going to be alright. I just needed to take a deep breath and take a step at a time. That was just the sign I needed today... a sign from my baby boy. Wish I would have been able to take a picture. I felt a calm and as if I was surrounded by Brayden... It's hard to put into words. I just wanted to say... nope, they're just there for me... It's my Brayden, letting me know things will be fine! (: As we were about to walk back inside I looked up again to see all but one out of sight and the other about to fly away... again I smiled. And then blew a kiss to heaven, thankful for that special moment, another sign, and thankful for the Invasion of Dragonflies.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Still Holy

Sang this song at church tonight and it really spoke to me...
It's important to remind myself of these things, daily.

In the midst of my darkness, sadness, confussion, He is still Holy. Though I don't understand His ways... and things can't ever change... I do want my life to glorify Him. I want to trust Him with everything... to have His will in my life. I am so unworthy of His amazing love, forgivness, grace and mercy, yet it is given willingly... each and everyday. Thank you Lord for your love, thank you for your promises.

You are Still Holy
By: Kim Hill

Holy, You are still holy,
Even when the darkness surrounds my life
Sovereign, You are still sovereign
Even when confusion has blinded my eyes
Lord I don't deserve Your kind affection
When my unbelief has kept me from Your touch
I want my life to be a pure reflection of Your love

And so I come into Your chambers
And I dance at Your feet Lord
You are my saviour, and I'm at Your mercy
All that has been in my life up to now
It belongs to You
You are still holy

Holy, You are still holy
Even though I don't understand Your ways
Sovereign You will be sovereign
Even when my circumstances don't change
Lord I don't deserve Your tender patience
When my unbelief has kept me from Your truth
I want my life to be a sweet devotion to You

And so I come into Your chambers
And I dance at Your feet Lord
You are my saviour, and I'm at Your mercy.
All that has been in my life up to now
It belongs to You
I belong to You
And so I come into your chambers
And I dance at Your feet Lord
You are my saviour and I'm at your mercy
All that has been in my life up to now
It belongs to You
I belong to you

You are still holy, You are still sovereign
You are still holy, Lord
You are still righteous
You are all knowing
You are still holy, You are still holy

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Wednesday's Walk ... Down Memory lane...

Outside Fun!

Brayden Loved playing outside. One of the main reasons we chose this house was for the large backyard. Many days were spent outside playing (:
The memory I chose to highlight today is captured in the picture above. You see, Brayden loved to be outside, but didn't like the way the grass felt on his legs. If he was barefoot or had sandals he was also hesitant get out. Before he was able to walk, Brayden would "crawl" on his hands and feet in the grass so that his legs would not touch the grass. It was so funny to watch. I wish I had it on video... but at least we have this picture. It makes me laugh just looking at it. I remember so well seeing him getting all over the yard this way!
My silly little guy....

Cheese! Hi everyone... my little ham (:

Brayden was so excited once he began walking... and learing to walk outisde on the grass was nothing short of fun. In no time he was running all over the yard trying to catch up with his brother. Brayden never wanted to miss a thing and it was such a joy to watch him take everything in.

Love you baby boy... Would love to see you outside running around now. The fun we would have...
Thank you for all the smiles, for all the memories.
I miss you more than anyone could ever know. love you so much..

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Windows and Doors

I grew up hearing the phrase "When God closes the door, He will open a window." This has found new meaning with me in the last few weeks.
Life surely has included some unexpected slammed doors that have rocked our life. Things have seemed so unsure for us and it has been hard to have faith, remembering who it is that is in control.
We have truly walked through the fire this past year and there has been too much smoke around to see the future that lies ahead. Yet, God has been faithful, and He has walked with us, held us up, and carried us in the moments we were weak.
Since last summer Jake and I have both said that something good has to come from all this. One of the biggest things that keeps us going is the thought that God can use this situation to touch the lives of others and make a positive difference. It has been hard to see that in the past few months. Life seemed to be getting more difficult and we didn't see any way things were going to get positive amidst all our pain.
Recently God has begin to open new windows for us and allowed His light to shine in for us to get a glimpse of what He has in store. Opportunities far beyond what we thought possible are already beginning to surface. We have been approached by an organization that helps create programs to keep and prevent child accidents. They have asked us to share our story and help raise money to begin new programs in our area. One of the goals is to lower the cost of water safety education and make it more accessible to all families.

Wow... Yeah, ... He really can use Us....

After months and months of struggling to find the support our family needs, we have found a family counselor that has been really helping. We have felt strengthened, encouraged and have gained confidence about how things are going. There are many positive changes we have been able to make for our family and have been challenged in new ways as well. More than I could have imagined this has been great for Nathaniel, and for Jake and I as well. I am so thankful. God always provides... even when its not in our timing.

I have started working full time again. God has provided, once again, more than I could have imagined or asked for. I was offered a contracted position through the school district. I am working with special needs children as I have for the last few years. The huge bonus is that I am now salary... which means confidence in knowing what will be coming every two weeks financially. We will also be able to receive Health benefits right away and will only have to pay HALF what we were paying through Jake's work. On top of it all I can purchase life insurance for Jake, the kids, and myself for pennies a month! His promises are true.. and He will always make a way. Though sometimes His timing is not like ours... and He chooses to allow us to walk through some valleys for a time. Just when things were looking so bad, and life felt ready to collapse around us... God's plan has blown us away.
I have also been in touch with many people about starting a support group for parents who have lost small children. Arrangements are being made and things are looking positive for getting this to happen. I love Compassionate Friends. That group has blessed me and helped me so much over the last year. But.. many of the parents who attend are much older than myself and have lost adult children. The connection is still there... and they understand on a level many others can't.. but it still is not the same.
I hope to be able to connect with others who have lost small children, those who don't have many memories, ... who weren't able to see their children reach many milestones... To share in each others pains, and joys.. to hold eachother up and walk through our journeys together.

I know that God will continue to open the right doors for us. I pray that His Will will be done and that I will have the wisdom and strength to take the steps He has for me to take. I am humbled.. I am blessed... and I am in awe of His faitfulness once again. Lord, forgive me for my doubts. Forgive me for my frustrations and anger. Give me the strength to always put my Trust in You and my increase my Faith in your Truth. Thank you for your promises
Open the right doors and windows that you would have us walk through. Continue to close those doors and windows that are not in your plan.
Your will be done.

He Knows Best

One of my favorite blogs to read and follow is the very popular Mckmama's Blog. I love her mix of beautiful photography, healthy recipes, spiritual encouragement, and variety of parenting tips. Recently I read a post she wrote that spoke alot to me. I wanted to share parts of it here.

Through this journey we've been on the last 14 months I have had a lot of ups and downs in my spiritual journey. I often find myself waiting for answers, frustrating when feeling like God is not listening or wondering what His plan could possibly be. The bumps continue to come and many moments I have felt like I was taking one step forward, then thrown 3 steps back.

Our ways are often not His ways... and thats a hard fact to swallow. but through it all I have been reminded smacked in the face with the truth that He truly does know Best. In the moments when everything is clouded and I can't see a foot in front of me, God is still working. In HIS timing, the clouds part... and He again brings out the sunshine.

MckMama stated it so well when she said, "No matter how careful our planning, we can rest easy in the knowledge that God's plans are greater than ours, even as we watch the plans we had set in motion unravel. When we face these stormy days and nights, we may be taken aback by the fiery intensity of it all, but God is never surprised. He's like the universe's best boy scout: always prepared. God is ever ahead of us, even when we lag behind, mouths agape as we see where He is leading us. "
The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. (Deuteronomy 31:8)
Click Here to read the Full Post by MckMama: Caught by Suprise.

Nothing like waiting and waiting, till "the eleventh hour" when it feels all hope is gone. But again we have seen that God was still ahead of us and had a better plan. In the last few weeks some really positive things have taken place. We have started seeing a family counselor, together, which has been such a blessing. She has given Jake and I some tools to help Nathaniel as well as work on ourselves. She has also seen just the two of us, and just Nathaniel, for some personal counseling. Nathaniel seems to be responding very well and I feel as though things are impoving at home.
I started working full time again which will be a big help, and even was offered a contracted position which offers, salary and lots of benefits! We will be paying less than half of what we were paying for health insurance each month and have the comfort of knowing exactly what pay is coming each payday. What an incredible blessing. What a relief.

Through the trials and frustrations, through the pain and the unknowns... I need not need be discouraged. I am loved and held by the maker of the universe... and He knows Best.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Compassionate Friends

I am so thankful for this group I now call friends. I have been attending monthly meetings with the Charleston Chapter of TCF for over a year now. Jake and I went to the first one just 3 weeks after we lost Brayden.
In becoming a part of this group I have found a place of grieving, a place of understanding, a place of memories, and a place of healing. A place to cry, scream, question, and even smile or laugh...The encouragement I have recieved from those who attend is unexplainable. The connection you feel just sitting there among one another speaks volumes. I hate that I have a need to be at these meeting but am so glad that I found such an incredible circle of support to help carry me though this difficult journey. Below is the creed that was written for TCF. As a group we read this before closing our meeting each month. It says so much...

TCF Creed
We need not walk alone. We are The Compassionate Friends.
We reach out to each other with love, with understanding , and with hope.
Our children have died at all ages and from many different causes, but our love for our children unites us.
Your pain becomes my pain just as your hope becomes my hope.
We come together from all walks of life, from many different circumstances.
We are a unique family because we represent many races and creeds.
We are young, and we are old. Some of us are far along in our grief, but others still feel a grief so fresh and so intensely painful that we feel helpless and see no hope.
Some of us have found our faith to be a source of strength; some of us are struggling to find answers. Some of us are angry, filled with guilt , or in deep depression; others radiate an inner peace. But whatever pain we bring to this gathering of The Compassionate Friends, it is pain we will share , just as we share with each other our love for our children.
We are all seeking and struggling to build a future for ourselves, but we are committed to building a future together , as we reach out to each other in love and share the pain as well as the joy, share the anger as well as the peace, share the faith as well as the doubts , and help each other to grieve as well as to grow.
Joe Rousseau - TCF, Saginaw, Michigan

Monday, August 24, 2009

God grant me the Serenity
to accept the things I cannot change.
The courage to change the things I can.
And the wisdom to know the difference.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wednesday's Walk ... Down Memory lane...

This blog carnival was started by Lynette Kraft at Dancing Barefoot on Weathered Ground. This is a fun opportunity to document some of the things you don't want to forget and share those memorable times with others so we can enjoy them too. You can visit her site by clicking the picture above to share in her memories as well as others.

This week for the walk down memory lane, we have a special story. Daddy shared a special memory.. in his own words.

The Pea Face

This is what I call The Pea Face.... please use your imagination as I descibe it to you...
Nathaniel has never been a vegatable eater... like his Daddy.... but being his father it is my desire/duty to feed him his veggies. It was always fun to see his reaction to different foods... we have all seen reactions that kids have to lemons, BUT his reaction to PEAS was like no other. It made me laugh so hard it brought tears to my eyes.
This is how it went. REMEMBER use you imagination. Nathaniel is about 8-10 months old sitting in his hi-chair I start feeding him peas, this is his reaction with 1 scoop his eyes tearing bugging out, face turns red, and his gage reflex kicks in, mouth in a small circle with his tongue sticking out like he is going to hurl. This is what I call the gage face....
Brayden comes along following in his Big brothers footsteps... I have the Duty as his Daddy to feed him his veggies.... you know we have all seen Americas Funniest Videos. Well I thought this was my big chance, so we were all at Nana and Grandpops house Michelle My Beautifull Wifey asks me to feed Brayden I get the video camera out and set it up, Brayden in the hi-chair, me with the peas, I was all set to win the 10 grand. Push record and scooped some peas he opened wide and to my disbelief Brayden gobbled it up spoon after spoon until the jar was empty. So much for my 10 grand. I must say My Brayden was a veggie eater. (He ate anything and everything you gave him!) Even thou I did not get the reaction I was betting on I will alway have this memory.. one of MANY... and it was my pleasure sharing it with you.God bless you Brayden, I miss you and will always replay my memories.


Still looking for pictures from this day.. will add when I find them!

Sunday, August 16, 2009


At the end of last month we had a short but sweet visit with some of our closest friends, Noah and Tricia. It was sooo good to see them but was somewhat of a bittersweet visit as well. You see, we haven't seen these guys in over a year. They were here last June to walk us through the worst week of our life. After hearing the news of Brayden they jumped on a plane the same night, got to NC, rented a car and drove the rest... arriving sometime during the night. When we woke up that next morning they were there for us. Some of the most amazing lifetime friends anyone could ask for. We are so blessed to have them in our life!

Our friendship goes back many years. Jake has been friends with Noah for over 25 years and lived next door for many of those years. Noah and I went to highschool together and after we became good friends I was introduced to Jake.... and the rest is history (:

We then ended up in Pa together as Noah and I both attended Valley Forge Christian College. This is where he met his beautiful wife Tricia. We spent lots of time together and grew very close. It was a sad day when they moved back to Md, leaving us behind. But we stayed in contact and visited when possible. They still live in Md and serve as Pastors of a church there and we now live even further away.. in SC. This makes it even more difficult to see eachother as often as we'd like. But we make the time as much as we can.

Things got even more exciting when Tricia and I found out that we were pregnant at the same time. She knew first, had a due date, and even found out the sex first. Later, I was given a due date about a week apart from hers. What's the chance?! After finding out they were having a boy we talked about how much fun it would be if I also had a boy so they could grow up together, the same age... and be best buddies!

January 5, 2007 we were blessed to welcome Brayden Russell into our family. Just 2 days later, on January 7th Noah and Tricia welcomed Davis Joseph! The hardest part was that neither of us could be there to meet the other babies since we were having our own!

As soon as we could we got the boys together and visited with all the new additions.

Here are Brayden and Davis in February, Just before they were a month old. Two and a half year old Nathaniel Loved having 2 babies around!

Here are the boys again, getting bigger, at our visit to Md on Memorial Day weekend 2007.

Reunited again, Christmas 2007.

For Tricia's spring break in March 2008 they made the long trip to SC to visit with us again. This is probably the most special visit and I am soo thanful they came. It was during this visit that Brayden began walking (more than 2-3 steps at a time)! Being older and more mobile, the boys were able to play and enjoy each other so much this time... as Buddies. We also had an Easter egg hunt for the kids and shared lots of fun memories together.

Noone would ever imagine, in a million years... that this would be the last visit the boys would have together.

Fast forward to July 26, 2009. We finally had a nice visit again to just enjoy eachother and share memories. This was the first time they met Elliana in person! We are so glad that they came and we had the chance to visit (after a whole year... way too long!! That can't happen again...)

But this visit was also Bittersweet. We had a great time, but things just felt... incomplete. Watching Davis as the fun. expressive and happy little toddler he has become also brought with it pains of the "What would's". Looking at him, we had to remind ourselves that this is the age Brayden would be. How tall would he be? Who would be bigger? Would he talking that well? Would he love the guitar like Davis did? Would Brayden still get along well with his Buddy Davis? What would they have done together?

I have no doubt they would have had a blast. They definately would still be buddies.

...and it was hard to feel/think/express those realities.

Before they left we, of course, had to take another picture of our kids together.

...But this time it was incomplete. Davis loved being able to sit by and hold Brayden Bear.... his Buddy.

Instead of visiting at home, seeing a room full of toys, and playing together... we made a trip to take Noah and Tricia to 'see" Brayden here...

This was one of the hardest trips to the cemetary for me in a long time.

It just wasn't fair. It isn't fair.

It sucks.

But I try to remind myself of the Hope we have. I hold onto the promises that we will see Brayden again. And together Davis and Brayden will play again...

as Buddies for Eternity.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Blog Makeover Giveaway and Grand Re-opening!

Check out this great design shoppe for an awesome new Blog Makeover!! I'm hoping to win one so I can fix up this site for all (: wish me luck and go visit Jennisa over at Once upon a Blog!
... feel free to leave her a comment recomending me for the makover too! (;

Saturday, August 8, 2009


The calendar keeps us organized. It tells us what day it is. We use calenders to remind us of important dates. It tells us of the future.

In the last week or so I have been thinking alot about dates. I have been looking at the calender in a new way. The calender now reminds me how long its been since I've held my baby boy. It reminds me of the things ahead that he will not be apart of. It feels like a constant countdown of things to come. I find myself thinking about specific dates all the time.

I've been told it's the anticipation of things to come that are harder than actual events. This has proven to be somewhat mostly true. I wish I knew why I drove myself crazy about dates, about time, about the when's and how longs and the future. Here are some of the things dates that have been on my mind alot lately...

It has been 14 months since I held my baby boy... 14 months since I kissed his forehead. 14 months since I rocked him to sleep... It's hard to fathem that life has continued on that long.

3 months from today, on November 7th, Brayden will have been gone as long as we knew him. That is a strange thing to think about. Life feels so incomplete without him, how could we have only had the joy of loving him here for such a short time. Life has Flown by... moments passed too quickly.. it all still feels so sereal.. even after this long.

In 138 days we will celebrate another Christmas, without a busy little toddler running around. and 141 days till our sweet boy would have been 3 years old! wow...

On May 5th, 2010, Elliana will be the same age as Brayden was when he went to be with Jesus. I am terrified about next summer... the unknown of how that will be is so very hard to comprehend let alone try to express.

I wish I could know the date... and count the days till I see my Brayden again... Until then I hold onto the Hope that that day will be here soon... and that I will cuddle my baby boy again.
I love you baby boy... Missing you so much...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

MckLinky! Weekly Blog Hop!

Favorite Kid Photo

This is hard to narrow down to one photo... I have sooo many that I love. This photo is definately one that tops the list. Daddy, and Nathaniel holding new baby brother, Brayden safe in their arms. This picture was taken in the hospital the day after Brayden was born.

MckLinky Blog Hop

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Yes, you read that right. We went swimming!
It was only a baby pool... but it was a big step.

Since last June when we lost Brayden we have not been in a pool... It wasen't 100% intentional, it had just not come up much. There were a few opportunities... but we were just not ready.
But this... was a big first step for me.

The kiddos have been going to a new childcare provider and she lives in a community that has a nice pool with a pretty big baby pool. It also has a big mushroom like fountain in the middle. Very fun. We both new there would be times when it would come up. Her boys are used to going and they would ask. Nathaniel also saw it and would want to go.

So we decided that it would be good for me to be with them and go the first time. This was probably more for me than the kids. But I knew I needed to do it.

To say the least, Nathaniel LOVED it. He swam and swam like a fish enjoying every moment. It was a little nerve wrecking for me.. especially at first.

But then it was ok.
suprisingly ok.

He was eager to show us that he was practicing putting his face (actually just mouth and nose) under water.. blowing to avoid getting water in. He did great, and was proud of himself.

He has been doing this awhile in the bathtub and asking to "go swimming for real in a pool". I guess this prepared me somehow for the pool more than I thought. The baby pool.. which is only a foot deep was just like a large bathtub (or so I told myself) I felt confident that he was ok and could do this.. just as he had may times in the tub.

I did it. It felt good. We had fun.

Here are some pictures from our day...

I am so thanful that we had this opportunity and I am thankful that Nathaniel did so well. No apprehensions or fear. Just pure fun (:

What an answer to prayer.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wednesday's Walk ... Down Memory lane...

Fun Times with Daddy!

This blog carnival was started by Lynette Kraft at
Dancing Barefoot on Weathered Ground. This is a fun opportunity to document some of the things you don't want to forget and share those memorable times with others so we can enjoy them too. You can visit her site by clicking the picture above to share in her memories as well as others.

As I thought about what I wanted to write about I sat watching my husband interact with our children. Shreals of laughter and joy came from nathaniel as he laid in Daddy's lap being tickled! Elliana didn't want to be far from the action as she sat in daddy's arm dancing all around enjoying the craziness. I love these special moments...

Today's memory is actually not from a one time event. It was a ritual of sorts. This memory goes back to the many nights my husband spent on the floor...getting clobbered by boys! One of my favorite memories of Brayden is the times he spent playing with daddy. My husband Loves to get down on the floor and have tickling, wrestling times with the kids. I remember before we ever had kids hearing Jake dream about the day he would have kids to tickle and wrestle with. Once Nathaniel was here... he couldn't wait to have others to battle the time with... he wanted to be covered in kids!

Brayden loved being a part of this playtime. Whenever Daddy and Nathaniel got started, Brayden would come running in to jump in. As small as he was he would do all he could to wiggle his way into the action. Running, playing, laughing, tickeling.... pure joy and fun. When they were weren't tickling or attacking Daddy the boys also loved to play ball. They had a special game where Brayden would sit in Daddy's lap and Nathaniel would be down the hall. They would roll the ball back and forth. Daddy would help Brayden jump up to chase the ball... Nathaniel would always get it first and Brayden would dive back to Daddy's lap to do it all over again... this would go on and on. Oh, what boys they are. Oh, the fun that was had! Sweet, Sweet memories.

One of the few videos we have of Brayden is one of these playtimes. If I can figure out how to upload a video I will add it to this post.
Here is a picture I found... it's not the best pic of true tickle time but shows just how much Brayden loved being in on the action with Daddy! Rule is... once Daddy;s on the floor, he's fair game! LoL

Watching the 3 of them tonight was bittersweet. I love to see them having so much fun, I love to hear Nathaniel laughing and shreaking with joy... but how I miss seeing Brayden over there with them. To think how crazy things would be now....

Miss you and love you so much baby boy! So thankful for all the moments we were able to share... So thankful for all the laughter

Monday, July 20, 2009

In the Arms of Jesus

Its late... and I should be in bed. But I'm itching to blog. Life has been so busy lately and I have not had the time to sit and write. There has been so much on my mind and heart to share... so I decided to catch up a bit.

If you haven't checked out the Name Gallery lately, please do! I have uploaded LOTS of new pictures! Keep them coming! Please send them to You can check out the gallery by clicking on the beach picture in the right sidebar.

I recieved an extremely special gift recently. It was from Kim, a very close friends mother. Last June, shortly after we lost Brayden, Kim was praying and God told her that she was to give me this beautifull statue. It is Jesus holding a little child. It is a Lenox peice called "Footprints in the Sand."

You see... Kim lost a little boy at just 3 days old. This month Christopher would be 34 years old. Shortly after he passed, her mother gave her this statue as a visual reminder of where her little boy was... in the arms of Jesus. Also, as a reminder that when we don't feel strong enough to make it on our own.. God will Carry us through. Kim now felt convinced that God wanted her to pass this statue onto me, as a visual reminder of where my Brayden is...

I cannot begin to express my gratitude for such a special, beautiful and thoughtful gift. It means more than words can express. My favorite picture is of Jesus hugging a little boy (
Pictured in this post) and I carry a copy of that picture in my purse all the time. It is so hard to fathem something like this.. I may never understand the situation this side of heaven. Our human minds can't comprehend Heaven... or what it must be like. It's amazing to be able to have a visual to look at to help imagine what a beautiful sight that must be. It is a source of strength to get through each day as I remember the truth I know in my heart. I may not have all the answeres.. I may not understand the "Why's"... but I do know one thing for sure... that my baby boy is loved, cared for, and missed... but is held safely in the Arms of Jesus!

Thank you Kim for this incredible and beautiful gift. Thank you for your obedience and openess to share your heart with me. Thank you for the prayers and love for our family... God Bless You!!