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...