Wednesday, June 24, 2009

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

It's Wednesday.. So Its time to capture and relive some memories! This 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.

Today's walk is a difficult one. But one that I know is important to remember, to document, and to share. I have wanted to write this out for some time and have not taken the time to do it... so I thought Wednesday's Walk would be a great way to do it.

This memory goes back to June 9, 2008... the day that we celebrated the life of Brayden Russell. One of the hardest days of my life, a day I never dreamt I would live through... but a day where God carried us through.

I remember the day so well, waking up and getting ready.. trying to look nice... yet wanting to crawl in a whole and avoid this whole thing. Hurting, nervous, scared, numb, a wreck. How do you prepare for your child's funeral?

But it was not a funeral.... it's a celebration of life. We couldn't bear the sadness and pain of a traditional service. There was no casket, only pictures EVERYWHERE to remember the Life of this precious baby boy. My sisters, my close friend, and my brother & sister in law worked so hard to find and put together amazing tributes to Brayden.

I remember walking into the church. I just froze... Pictures everywhere. Poster boards full of memories... His smile, His laugh, His chubby fingers always pointing, His adventures, His joys..and tears.

A celebration of Life. The life he lived. and enjoyed. The life he embraced and made so fun. The moments we shared.. the moments we will always treasure.

During the service our pastor spoke and shared some things, as well as my brother, Chuck, and one of our closest friends, Noah Kaye.

Noah shared that Brayden was taken from Love to Love. This was encouraging to think that all he ever knew was love. He didn't have to experience the hardships in life, the struggles of the teenage years, the heartbreaks of love, or the sting of broken relationships. As parents our number one goal for our children is to get them to Heaven. We can also say that we have succeeded in that goal. It may have been sooner than We had planned, but we loved and prayed over him here and know that he is resting in the Father's arms in his eternal home.

My brother shared some memories as well as a video tribute that he had put together with photo's of Brayden throughout his life. It was put to music with 2 beautiful songs and made us laugh, cry, and smile as we remembered the moments. Chuck also shared one of his favorite memories that I will share another week. In a nut shell Brayden LOVED music. He loved to dance, clap, etc... Worship on Sunday mornings was one of his favorite times. Because of this we asked a few members of our Praise team to play some songs at the service. It was so awesome to have them there... and to be able to praise the same God that we know Brayden is now worshiping right at his feet!

At the end of the service we had a response time, much like the ones we have at the close of each church service. Many people responded for personal prayer, lit candles for others or to send a request to Heaven, or nailed requests on the cross. It meant so much for us to see others lives being touched in the midst of such a difficult time. We KNOW that God WILL use this situation for His Glory and that good will come from it. My hearts desire is to bless others and be able to complete the work that God has begin and desires for this family.

All in all we left the service with a smile. It was a sad and difficult time knowing that we would not have our little boy with us any longer, this side of heaven. Yet, the service was truly a celebration of his life... we remembered, we cherished, and it was a joy to share his life with all those who came.

My friend Sarah found a poem and adapted it for Brayden. It was written on the back of the card we gave out at the Service. It is called, "Our Brayden"

He was just a little boy

Who only know love and care.

He had to go be home with Jesus

but he's waiting for us there.

Don't fret about him Mom and Dad

He's one of God's lambs most blest.

He'd have loved to stay there with you

but the Shepherd knows what's best.

It's hard to know just what to say

When one so young is taken away.

Far too soon he had to part,

His memory forever engraved in our hearts.

We only knew him for a short while,

But the life he lived made us smile.

Those gone before him will watch with care,

Till the day comes when we will join him there.

Know Brayden is watching from Heaven above,

And with each ray of sunshine, He's sending his love.

Held tight in the arms of his Pop Pop Russ,

He is playing and laughing and waiting for us.

This is something no parent should ever have to experience, and one of the hardest things ever. I can honestly say though that it exceeded what we could have wanted and we were so blessed with the way things went. The outpouring of love and support for our family was unbelievable. To know that so many loved Brayden, and love us to rally around us and walk this road with us means more than anyone will know.

Thank you for letting me share this memory. I don't choose to remember this day for the pain or the sadness in held, but for the memories of the joy, the strength, and the peace that came from our Heavenly Father. Because of Jesus we made it through. Because of Him we could smile, and celebrate. Because of Him we can remember the good and be pleased with how well things went that day.

We were blessed through the life of Brayden, and we continue to be blessed by so many. We are so very Thankful.

Monday, June 22, 2009

a special gift

After spending a nice day with my family for Father's Day today (which I blogged about HERE), we stopped by the cemetary. My friend Jess and her son, are here and this was the first time she has been back since the service. Just as we were about to leave Jess looked up in the tree that is behind Brayden's stone and spotted a beautiful dragonfly! It was such a beautiful dragonfly with yellow and black striped wings. It sat still and quiet on an empty small branch and the top of the tree for a very long time. If you read this blog you know about my tattoo and how much dragonfly's mean to me so you will understand that I felt like this was a gift. a sign. Like a little smile from Heaven... my baby boy just letting me know that he is still right here.. all around us. I believe that he is watching us from above and smiling down on us. I can't wait till the day I get to hold my precious Brayden again.. to hug him tight.. and kiss his head.

Until that day I will try to live each day the best I can... treasuring all the moments with my family here... thankful for the moments.

And I am thankful today... for this gift.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Jake's Tattoo

On Monday afternoon, Jake got off work early and went to get his memorial tattoo done. He is so pleased with how it came out after going around and around about what to do and trying to draw it out. He was originally going to do a cross he designed with the letters on the cross. He later found a picture of this awesome tribal cross. We had Hollie, an artist who does tattoo's draw a similar cross but include Brayden's Initials inside the design. She did an amazing job and here is the end Result! Brayden Russell Zieg will forever have a place in his mommy and daddy's hearts... but we know have a piece of him ON and with us forever.
Jake got this tattoo on his left forearm. He wanted to be able to look at it often as a reminder of Brayden. He also wanted it there to symbolize one of our favorite memories of Brayden. He LOVED music, and LOVED to dance. Every Sunday at church we would go get Brayden from his class at the end of service in time for worship. Jake would sit him up on his chest so he was high above most of us. As we sang and worshiped Brayden would dance, swaying back and forth, raise his arms and swing them around, clapping and smiling in absolute joy. It was a beautiful sight to see him praising Jesus! It brought a smile to our faces (and all those around us!) and became a special part of our church experience.
Because of this special memory Jake really wanted his tattoo on his forearm. This way whenever he lifts his arms to praise Jesus, the cross with Brayden's initials will be lifted to Jesus as well. He is with us in spirit, but better than that we KNOW that he is up in heaven worshiping the Heavenly Father and dancing his little heart out! What a sight and experience that must be!! Can't wait till the day will be able to join him at the feet of Jesus.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

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

It's Wednesday.. So I want to start my Wednesdays Walk down memory lane series! This 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.

I thought it would be fitting to start at the beginning; so today I choose to share and remember the day we met Brayden Russell.

This pregnancy was so different than my first... in so many ways. We decided to find out the sex so that we could be prepared. We already had lots of boy things but if this was a girl we knew we would need some things. We were extatic when we found out he was another little boy. The boys would be close and age and we had hopes of them being close and enjoy playng together.

Because Nathaniel was a c section, Brayden was a scheduled repeat section. My mom came up to help with Nathaniel and be with me for a while. It was soo great having her around to help!!

We were a scheduled section and I was not in labor so we ended up getting bumped not once but twice for emergencies. Finally, after lots of waiting we met our little Prince.

Brayden Russell was born on Januaary 5, 2007 at 2:18p.m.

weighing 8lbs 4.5oz 21in long.


The first time I was able to hold him in my arms... undescribeable!

Such a proud daddy!!

Excited Big Brother!!!

Ny favorite picture!! I love that this shows Daddy's hands, Nathaniel's hands surrounding Brayden.

Our family!

This is such a special memory, thank you for allowing me to share it with you! This day is one that we will cherish forever and never forget!

Life with 3

I often find myself thinking about what life would be like....

toting around 3 kids

trying to put 3 children to bed

getting out of the house with 3

loading up 3 kids in/out of the car

feeding 3

settling down 3

attending to 3

Lately, this has been on my mind more as I have spent a lot of time with my nephew and now one of my best friend's sons. Many days I've been able to experience life with 3.

My friend and her son have been with us for about a week. It has been so nice to visit and spend time together after so long. Feels like nothing has changed, we picked up right where we always were... together... chatting late into the night... being goofy and laughing together... crying and sharing our struggles...

But things are not the same... life has changed... for me.

Seeing the boys together has been bittersweet. I love that they are older now and able to play together. I love that we are still friends after so many years and are now having children that will grow up together. But I hate that one is missing. I wish so much that Brayden was here.

It's hard to see Nathaniel playing with other little (younger) boys... wondering what life really would be like if he were with us.

Would they get along? Would they play together well? Would Nathaniel be the protector? or the bully? Would Brayden follow him around and want to do everything like Nathaniel does?

The way it's suppose to be... with 3.

Nathaniel is suppose to have someone to play with, and share life with everyday. My boys should be growing up together... as brothers do.

fighting over toys, wrestling on the floor, getting into mischief together, keeping each other up, creating imaginary adventures , destroying the playroom, giggling together...

How I would love to know how it would be... to live life with 3.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

My Memorial Tattoo

Just got home from getting my first tattoo!! I am soo excited about this memorial tattoo in memory of Brayden... and I LOVE it!
His name is written across the top and the Dragonfly is the centerpeice. The dragonfly symbolizes Hope, Change, and New Beginnings, it represents New Light and Joy. Dragonflies live short lives. They remind us to cherish each moment that we are given and enjoy life to the fullest. Remember the moments... because that is what we will hold onto forever. It also means renewal , as moving forward after enduring hardship.. and shows us we are strong enough to embrace happiness once more.
I love this symbolism as I remember my precious Brayden. Yes, he lived a short life.. shorter than we feel it should have been. But I am thankful for each moment that we shared. As life takes on a "new normal" I am trying to hold onto the Hope I have in Christ for my future... for my family.. and for the plans that lie ahead for us.
On the bottom of the tattoo is the verse Phil. 1:3, which states, " I thank my God every time I remember you." This is the verse that is on the headstone and also on Brayden's memory quilt. It has become very special to me and reminds me to thank God each time I remember Brayden. I am so blessed to have been chosen to be His mommy and I will forever treasure each memory.
I am sooo stoked about having this tattoo! I love the way that it turned out and love that I now have a little peice of Brayden that will always be a part of me.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

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

Each day I am amazed and blessed by this "blog world" I have become part of... I started following a few new blog's recently. I have been blessed by the encouragement of others and have found quite a "family" of people who are also going through trials of their own. My prayer is that we are able to encourage and lift one another up as we walk our journey's.
I have decided to take part in Wednesday's Walk Down Memory Lane... started by Lynette Kraft. When I began this blog I wanted it to be a place for me to journal, write out my thoughts, feels, and struggles... but also to capture and write out memories. I think that doing this on wednesday's will be a great way for me to remember all the wonderful moments we shared with our precious Brayden.

We were given 17 months and one day with our sweet baby boy... I say that number and it hurts. It was not long enough... a life time would not have been long enough to spend with my Brayden. As I read other stories of familes who have or are going through loss I am humbled and heart broken. So many families are only given moments, or days, with their children. I can't begin to imagine how hard it would be to have to say goodbye to a precious little one after carrying them for 9 months... before ever getting the chance to meet them.

I need to treasure the gift we were given. So many moments, so many days,... so many months. I was blessed. I AM blessed... with 17 months. of a life shared. With HUNDREDS of pictures. With MANY memories. With the promise of Eternity. What a day it will be to be reunited with my baby boy... and to spend eternity together in the presence of our Heavenly Father.

Until that day, I want to live a life that Honors my Savior, and Honors Brayden's life. I want my life, my journey, my story to touch others. I want to allow God to complete the work He was begun in us and "work all things together for the good of those who Love Him and are called according to His purpose."

It's late and I need to get some sleep... so I won't be starting this until next week... but I am looking forward to taking the time to cherish the time spent and sharing the memories of my precious gift...

Monday, June 8, 2009

Our Story

I've wanted to put something together to post for a long time but didn't have the courage strength to do it. I know many of you who are visiting from other blogs or websites and are praying for us have wondered what happened...

The pain is so raw.. guilt and shame so fresh.. it's hard to get out the words. But I know it is part of the healing. I know that His Grace covers me, that His strength takes over in my weakness, and that "those who sow in tears, will reap joy." Psalm 126:5

So here it is... The story of us, and our precious Brayden

My name is Michelle, I am a wife to Jacob, and mommy to three precious gifts; Nathaniel, Brayden, and Elliana. Brayden Russell joined our family on January 5, 2007. When Brayden was 6 months old we made the big move south to be near my family. This was a fresh start for us as a family and we were so excited about the things that were ahead. Jake got a job working at a Toyota dealership, we bought our first house and started our new life in South Carolina.
Just a few months after moving to SC I found out I was pregnant with our third baby. This was a big surprise as we were planning to wait a few years before having more children. Then on June 6th, 2008 our world turned upside down. Nathaniel, who was just a few weeks from turning 4 and Brayden, who was 17 months old, got out the back door without anyone noticing. Once in the backyard Brayden climbed the ladder to our above ground pool... and fell in. Moments later as Jake noticed the boys were not around and ran to the back door, Nathaniel came running towards him. “Where’s Brayden?” Daddy yelled, and Nathaniel pointed to the pool. Our worst nightmare had taken place. Jake quickly pulled Brayden from the pool and called 9-1-1. He began CPR until the emergency medical team arrived. They continued to work on Him while we gathered with Nathaniel inside. There were lots of questions that could not be answered and we did our best to explain things to the Police and Investigators who had arrived. Time seemed to stand still yet the world was spinning. I could not sit still but could hardly stand up. What felt like hours later, they told us the news that they had done all they could. Brayden was no longer with us. Everything inside me collapsed. No words can accurately describe the emotion or feelings we were experiencing in those moments. This couldn’t possibly have happened. Surely, there was something else that could be done... but it was too late.
We were blessed with 17 incredible months with our precious little boy. Brayden was such a happy baby. He had an incredible smile and contagious laugh that would brighten anyone’s day and melt your heart. He was my lil pumkin.. and stayed very small for his age. Brayden also loved to cuddle. I got lots of hugs and cuddle time with my brady boo and loved every minute of it! He always wanted to be in the center of everything, never wanted to be left out and would jump right in with his brother. Brayden was so dramatic.. though he only spoke few words he said so much through his expressions. I am so thankful for all the memories… I will forever cherish every moment we shared.
It is now June of 2009. It has been a year since we lost our precious baby boy. Life is hard and we struggle each day with facing our “new” normal. The following months after Brayden’s death included the hardest pregnancy I’ve experienced full of bittersweet feelings. As a behavioral therapist working with children with Autism, I was unable to return to work due to the emotional strain and stress involved. I could barely handle the daily tasks of taking care of my self and Nathaniel. Elliana Grace was born 6 months later, on December 4, 2008. She brings us so much joy and we are blessed to have her as part of our family. The pain from loosing Brayden is still fresh and the grief so raw that we struggle each day. Jake, who returned to work after a few weeks, puts in long hours and works so hard to do the best he can to support our family. Work has been very slow recently and finances are extremely tight. Bills are adding up and things are taking a toll on him, as well as on us as a family. Our marriage has also had its share of struggles. Grief is such an individual and unique experience and it is difficult to help and support one another. I heard it best said “it is like two wet noodles, trying to hold each other up.”

Though our faith has been shaken, we are doing what we can to hang on to the strength we have in Christ and the hope that He offers for our future. We may never understand God’s plan, this side of Heaven, but we are trying to put our trust in Him to make it through. Our hearts desire is to honor the life that Brayden lived and allow God to use this journey to touch the lives of others. We are blessed to have an incredible support system of friends and family around us as well as an amazing church that has gone over and beyond what we could have ever imagined.

We are here... and we are surviving... by His Grace.

…“and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain..." Revelation 21:4

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Glory Baby

The words are hard to find... This song by Watermark says so much.... It speaks whats on my heart, especially today...

Glory baby you slipped away as fast as we could say baby…baby..
You were growing, what happened dear?
You disappeared on us baby…baby..

Heaven will hold you before we do
Heaven will keep you safe until we’re home with you…
Until we’re home with you…

Miss you everyday
Miss you in every way
But we know there’s a day when we will hold you
We will hold you

You’ll kiss our tears away
When we’re home to stay
Can’t wait for the day when we will see you
We will see you

But baby let sweet Jesus hold you‘till mom and dad can hold you…
You’ll just have heaven before we do
just have heaven before we do

Sweet little babies, it’s hard to understand it ‘cause we’re hurting
We are hurting But there is healing
And we know we’re stronger people through the growing
And in knowing- That
all things work together for our good
And God works His purposes just like He said He would…
Just like He said He would…

BRIDGE: I can’t imagine heaven’s lullabies
and what they must sound like
But I will rest in knowing, heaven is your home
And it’s all you’ll ever know…all you’ll ever know…

One Year

One Year ago my world shattered
One Year ago my heart was broken
One Year ago my hopes and dreams were interupted
One Year ago I began the hardest journey of my life
One Year ago time stood still
One Year ago I didn't think I would survive another day
One Year ago I had to let go of one of the greatest gifts ever given to me
One Year ago I was reminded how fragile life is... enjoy every moment!
One Year ago my life was forever changed

It's hard to put into words... I can't even wrap my head around the thought... How has it been One Year...
Yet were still here... surviving. Making it through this journey, a moment at a time.

My heart hurts. How I miss my baby boy so badly. It's so unfair to think of life moving on... but it still does.

The words are so hard to find. My heart is so full of emotion. I love you so much baby boy. We miss you more and more each day. I can't believe it has been a year since I held you in my arms, kissed your sweet head, and felt your incredible hugs. My arms still ache for you. You touched my life in so many ways and left an incredible mark for all eternity. Today, as we remember this day, Your special "Angel Day" may we honor your life and keep your memories alive. I can't wait to share you with your little sister and your bubby. The stories we have to tell! I am forever grateful for every moment we shared... and blessed that I was chosen to be your mommy!

Love you so much sweet Brayden, your in our hearts forever. Can't wait till the day when I will hold you again...
Love you (up to the mooon and down again .. and all around the world... and that's not all!)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Still Holding on...

One step in front of the other, one moment then another, one day at a time... This is my philosophy of life right now. There are highs and there are lows, there are tears, and yes there is laughter. Emotions are an amazing thing. This is how I have been feeling lately.. the last few weeks have been kinda mush. Not alot of motivation, lots of tears. racing thoughts. But yet there has been encouragement, prayers, laughter, amazing peace and strength, and hope.

Life is Hard.
This journey were traveling is difficult.
Many moments I don't feel like I can handle another moment...

But I am still holding on.

I am holding on to HIS promises
holding onto His peace
holding onto His grace
and clinging to the truths I find that He will contine to carry me through.

and I am grateful.

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. " Ephesians 3:20-21