Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas

It's that time of the year... the hustle and bustle has begun. People are busy, shopping, and getting ready for Christmas! It's a time for giving, a time for families, a time for memories.

We woke up this morning at my in- laws house. We try to do Christmas with each side of the family every other year, alternating with Thanksgiving. So this was the year to be in Maryland. Because Elliana aws born so close to Christmas the year we would have come up here last, this is actually the first year we have been here on Christmas day since 2007. It didn't even dawn on me until we were here. Sitting on the couch, seeing the live tree full of colorful glass balls and tinsil. The memories starting flowing back. It hit with a flow of emotions. In the pit of my stomach the realization caused a churning and an ache. December 2007, the one and only Christmas we were granted to share with our precious Brayden... was here, with Gramma and Papa. I could see the memories like visions or flashbacks. I so treasure these wonderful moments we have captured through beautiful pictures. Yet the longing came back like an unexpected title wave.
What a joy it is to see Elliana smile in delight as she and Nathaniel help Gramma finish decorating the tree. How fun it is to sit around the table with everyone. The excitment filled the air as Papa, Daddy and Uncle Brendon play with the kids.
Yet the void is so ever present.

What I wouldn't give to have him here with us today. How I would give anything to be able to make these memories and share these memories with him. How exciting it would be to have all three of them together. Candy, chocolate, and cookies galore and treats for breakfast. It's definately Christmas.
But it's just not the same.

The kids were so excited to run downstairs this morning to check on whether or not Santa came! Paper was ripping, trash was flying and the room was full of excitment. Ooh's and ah's could be heard around the room as all the new presents were being discovered.
I am so thankful for these moments, so blessed to create these memories, so love the joy all around...

Just missing him today... in a big way, and wishing he was here with us.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Candlelight



Through this journey of loss and grief I have come to a very different perspective and appreciation for candlelight.

So often used to symbolize light admist darkness, hope in a seemingly unbearable situation the light from a candle is bright, and radiates an amazing beauty.

We were blessed with the opportunity to share a special eveing and Christmas dinner with my Compassionate Friends group. It is a tradition that has been for several years. Dinner at Gilligans restaurant, an ornament exhange.. and then a candle lighting.

It's such an experience, such a feeling in the air as the room transforms from eating, chatting, and laughter... to quiet, remberance. Each family represented goes to the front of the room, lights a candle in honor of their child, and shares about them. At the end a few moments of silence are shared as we watch all the candles burning.
It sad yet selfishly comforting to see all the lives represented that were lost too soon. It's a reminder that we are truly not alone on this journey of bereaved parents.


In a beautiful way, the light of the candle shines brightly, reminding us that though Brayden is not here with us phyiscally now... his light still carries on in our hearts.


We will cherish the memories, we will relive the moments through photos, and the love will ring through us all who have been touched by his life.

It is a joy to speak his name, it is humbling to be admist and apart of such a group, and to honor the life of our precious gift, Brayden... burning bright through candlelight.



Sunday, November 28, 2010

Without Him...


We got our family pictures taken today. It's the first time since just after E was born... 2 years ago! Its such a bittersweet feeling when I think about pictures. Pictures are a huge part of my life... if you know me, you know that. Everywhere we go, every new event, milestone, etc. requires a picture! I am so excited to capture new memories... to "freeze" these moments with a photo.

As the same breath it is still so difficult to have "family" pictures taken knowing that ours is incomplete. I feel as though our pictures, as well as our lives will always have a void. I still stop and ask myself, "how can we take a picture together without him?" This came up this week as well as our family gathered for Thanksgiving. As we always do when were together, we piled all the grandkids together for a picture. Again, it felt so wrong... so incomplete. The only comfort I could feel that day was that my neice Zoey, was also missing from the picture as she is far away and couldn't come.

How I wish it could be different. What I wouldn't give to see these photo's 'complete'. Such a sight it would be to watch Brayden interact with all his cousins and siblings.



I had every intention to bring one of Brayden's Bears with us today and/or a pinwheel to use in the pictures as we have done before... but I forgot. We were already in the car, on the way, late. So I passed on going back.

Jake and I both wore Awareness ribbon pins as well as our BecauseofBRAYDEN bracelets. We also have our tattoo's that represent in a close way. As Jake said he's with us, all around us.

I allowed this to comfort me today as we went on with the shoot. I am so glad we will have these memories to save for years to come. Though it was so hard to be there ... without him.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Chosing to be Thankful

Today, on Thanksgiving I am filled with such a mix of emotions... It is a day of celebration, a day of family, ... a day of Thanks.

I saw this sign and was both encouraged and challenged.





As we teach our children about this day, and encourage them to think of all the many blessings we have, all the many things we should be thankful for...
And its true. There is Always something to be thankful for. We are so blessed.

Yet the feelings of sadness still come over me. I find it hard as I wake up to be filled with gratitude. There are parts of me that want nothing to do with celebrating with family... when mine is still incomplete. Without him, it feels hard to be family. These kind of get togethers and affairs just don't feel the same... I don't think they ever will again.

Yet, it is a choice I must make. I want Nathaniel and Elliana to realize all the things that we should be thankful for. They need to see in me the gratitude for so much.
We are loved, we are cared for, we are together.
And today, I am reminded that I am blessed.
I will keep my head up, I will enjoy the time I am given.
I will choose to be thankful.

Still stabs like a knife...

Another day, another wave..
It creeps up out of nowhere.
Just when you least expect it... when things seem to be going "fine".

They say this is to be expected. Grief will always be coming and going like this. It's hard to know what will be the "trigger" at any given moment.

It happened in church... near the end of the service. Response time begins, and the couple in front of us slips out... to return moments later with their children. As the worship team began to sing, I could feel the welt begin in my throat.. Mom, Dad, and a friend or family member took turns holding the little blonde boy... pacifier in his mouth. Swaying back and forth, singing and smiling with the little one... clapping his hands.
Though a smile crept across my face, the knot worked its way down to my stomach.
Why does this have to bother me so much!? It's a beautiful sight to see this family praising and worshiping with their little ones.
The little boy, who appeared to be just about 17 months old--or close to it, was then handed to his father. Who proceeded to pick him up to his chest, then onto his shoulders. Holding his hands to sway and praise.. dancing to the music.

The waves of memories began. The weight of loss grew heavy like a rock. The flashbacks overtook me. As I could no longer hold the tears or bear the pain I ran out of the sanctuary.
I needed to let the tears flow in private. I hated how much this upset me. It hurts so badly and still seems so unfair.
That should be my Brayden. He should be perched up on his daddy's shoulders, on daddy's chest.. dancing away in worship. Oh, how he would light up, how he made all of us smile to see him. Those behind us expected it, the enjoyed him and would talk about his special time of worship.
Jake should be that daddy holding his son, being swayed back and forth from the weight of his boy dancing.
How desperately I miss those moments. What I wouldn't give to experience it again.
More than two years... 70 some odd services later...
It still stabs right to the heart like a knife.

I can only take a deep breath, and think about what the scene in heaven must look like. The endless worship, right at our saviour's feet. The sounds of angels, the singing, the dancing. Brayden must be the hit... in the center of it all... loving every moment.
So though it's hurts so deeply now, I will choose to look up, to look ahead... to keep taking steps forward to the future ahead.
Knowing a day, very soon.. we will be worshiping with him again.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Missing 3

Today I helped out a friend of mine by watching her son while she took her younger one to the doctor. This particular litte boy is 3 years old. He was born just shy of 3 months after Brayden.
Though its hard and painful sometimes, I love to sit and watch him. How he interacts, what he is learning, how he talks...

Is this what my Brayden would be like?

As I see the kids sitting on the couch together it looks like a picture I should see everyday. Three children sitting together.. 6, 1, and 3.

As I see Nathaniel play with him I imagine how my boys would play. I have to giggle at how they get along as brothers would. The love hate relationship feels so natural and thanie gets annoyed with how he doesn't do things the right way, or follows him to much, etc.

These things I miss.
These things I should be experiencing.
These things I wish I could see... and live.

Today.. I am missing three.
Missing the feeling of having three living children.
Missing what it is like to have a three year old.
Missing my baby boy... who has left such a void in our family
... and an emptiness in my heart.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Accepting Reality

It has been 3 plus weeks since I went. Tonight I felt a compelling desire to go. It is the weekly bereavement support group, Grief Share. I go for the fellowship, I go for the friendships, I go for the sharing... and I always bring something away with me. Though I have been through each of the 13 lessons, some more than once, I still gain something new or am challenged, encouraged, or suprised by somet'hing new I hear.


So, after weeks of absence, I walk in late tonight and sit right now to jump into this weeks video (which had already begun). Within moments I knew. Of all weeks, of all lessons... WHY did I have to return and be here for This one!?!?


Week #7: Snowstorms of Guilt


I've said it before... I suffer to this day with a huge amount of guilt. I completely blame myself for the accident with Brayden, and know that if I had not done some things I did it would have, could have not happened.

This is an area of my grief that I have locked up with a chain and shoved away. It is painful, it is ugly, its hard. It's avoided.
I feel that I have allowed myself to "move on" in many other ways. New opportunities have begun and we are making strides ahead. Positive steps. I can honestly say now that there are many more happy "OK" days then sad difficult days.

...Until it comes to this one area. And tonight, it hit me smack in the face. Again.

As the movie progressed I could feel my insides churning. I didn't want to believe anything they were saying. They didn't understand MY situation.
I was right and there is no changing my mind.

After the movie we has some discussion.. as we always do. The others began to comment that my body language during the movie showed that there were some things going on. Almost immediately I had tears in my eyes. I felt speechless as the lump filled my throat.
As I began to share my thoughts and feelings on this issue (between the tears) I felt another painful layer being removed. It's amazing how healing it is just to say things out loud.

The others began to affirm my feelings, and validate what I had said and that made me feel good. When it comes to this area I want to be right, I need to be right. That's just the way it is.

Then a dear friend of mine in the group said something that changed everything. She looked at me and said that maybe I just needed to accept what had happened. She continued by agreeing with the things I had said and told me that it's true.. there are things we could have should have done that would have changed the situation.
BUT in order to move on past this area what I needed to consider was reminding myself that yes, though I am GUILTY... I am FORGIVEN.
though I made Mistakes.... I am still loved.

It was exactly what I needed to hear.
I couldn't believe that somone was agreeing with me. Someone was telling me that I can take the blame... yet I can still move on, accept it, and be ok with it.
The feeling that brought me is undescribable.
Accepting the Reality does not mean that I must hate myself forever... or think that others do.
Accepting Reality gives me permission to be ok with what happened, take it for what it is... and begin to move on.
Those steps are happening now. Something positive is coming from this painful and ugly situation. I may not be able to change what happened that dark day, but I can accept it. I will choose to become a better person and touch others lives because of my reality.

Friday, September 3, 2010

A new Hurdle

They say grief is like waves. I have felt and spoke of this before. Walking along the quiet beach, soaking in the rays and breathing in the fresh air. Things may seem so calm and going well, emotions on low... then WAM! A huge wave comes out of nowhere and knocks you down again.

That's what happened to me yesterday.

It was something I knew would happen. A fact I would need to face.
That all familiar sound.
A Beautiful name.

"Brayden"

As I was working with one of our students in a gen ed first grade class, the teacher called on one of her students, a little boy sitting right in the front row. "Yes, Brayden?"
I turned my head, ... thinking I had misunderstood. Could it be?
It was. I heard it again. As I glance over I saw the name on his desk. Same spelling, same name.
I felt a lump in my throat. Yet a smile crept over my face.
How can anyone have that name?
That was My son's name.
That IS my son's name.

Oh how I love that sweet name. How I love the way it sounds and rings in my ears. How I love to see it written as I walk through the halls.

As we went through our special area activities little Brayden wanted to talk to me every few minutes, he sat right next to me at the lunch table and wanted to stay nearby at recess.
As it was time to head back to our classroom, just before closing the door, Brayden ran to the door and grabed on to my leg, giving me a big hug proclaiming "Bye!!"
I couldn't help but smile.
So many emotions raced through my head... as we began to walk back to class I felt the tears welling up in my eyes, the lump in my throat has moved to my stomach.
I wasen't sure how I felt, what to do with it, or what to say.

Just another wave,
another reality to face,
a new hurdle to overcome.

and I did it.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Just

Just another day

Just hanging with my family

Just feeling incomplete

Just a little sad

Just wishing for a hug and kiss

Just missing him today...


Monday, August 16, 2010

The Pledge


We made it through our first Water Safety Day.. I can confidently say that I believe it was a true sucess. The highlight of the day for me was kids safety pledge. We had all the children take a 5 point safety pledge, promising to be safe around the water. They then signed a certificate they were able to take home with them and they also signed a banner for us to keep. It was awesome, emotional, and so exciting to see all the signatures fill the banner. Knowing that these kids are hearing prevention tips and hearing how to make good choices means so much to me. Whether they trash the certificate, or post it proudly on their wall I pray that some of the things they heard will be instilled in their minds.

My Water Safety Pledge

1. Never go near water without an adult.
2. Always swim with a buddy.
3. Wear a life jacket.
4. Read and obey all posted signs and rules.
5. When in trouble call an adult for help.


At the event we also had a Moon bounce and a Dunk Tank. The kids weren't able to participate in those activities until they received a ticket for signing their pledge certificate. They were then asked to state at least one water safety rule. It was so neat to hear them recalling and stating these important points aloud.




I can only pray that we made a difference in the hearts of these children. At the end of the day there were over 40 signatures on our banner. As I looked at it I broke down and began to cry. A good cry, one that is filled with hope that ese kids will remember what they heard and learned and will take one more step in being safe around the water.


...And I believe they will.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Hope

What a weekend.



I am exhausted. I am sore. I am sunburned.



Yet... I am filled with Hope.



Saturday was the first Water Safety Day. All our hours of planning and hard work had come together and the event was on.

So many volunteers, so much love and support, and families becoming aware.
We had about 150 people at the Water Safety Day. Almost every family recieved a water watcher card, which the adult wears while promising to give 100% undivided attention to children in or near the water. 40 children took the Water Safety Pledge and fun was had by all!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Pepsi Refresh Project- Support ISR!!!


CLICK HERE to Vote Each Day in August to Help support ISR in offering self rescue swim lessons to 400 children!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Walk to Remember

It was Sunday morning, July 4, 2010. I woke up bright and early at 5:45am. Got picked up shortly after and headed down to Arlington, Va.


I was about to participate in my first Compassionate Friends Walk to Remember.



The 33rd TCF National Conference took place in our old neck of the woods this year, just a stone throw from D.C. While making a trip to Md to visit with friends and family I was able to participate in this very special part of the conference.

The 11th annual walk to remember was participated by an estimated 1400+ people this year. It was humbling to be among them.

Far as you could see down the 2 miles stretch there were a stream of white shirts... hundreds of people gathered together to participate.

One of my most special lifelong friends came along to be by my side as we walked in memory of those lost too soon. Sarah and I have been through many tough moments together. We've shared many laughs, and many tears. Through thick and thin she is one of the few I know I can call and count on for anything. Though miles now seperate us, and time lapses between visits, Sarah is one of those friends that you just pick right back up where you left off. I can't imagine having anyone else with me for this event and I am so thankful she was there.



The walk is a 2 mile walk for bereaved parents, grandparents, friends and relatives to remember those children who were taken from us far too soon. It is a place where we all share such an amazing common bond and feel like a unique type of family. Not many words need to be spoken and no questions are asked when things may seem odd. Tears are welcomed and expected yet there is joy and laughter in the midst of the sadness.


Many carried signs from their local Compassionate Friends chapter with photos of all their children, lost too soon. Volunteers also carried names of children for those who could not physically attend the walk. An estimated 10,000 names were carried in memory.


A lovely "cheese" self portrait as we stopped by a beautiful fountain for a short break.

As I walked, I carried my cuddly blue "Brayden Bear" with me, which brought me such comfort as it always does. Though it hurt to see his name written on paper, I wore it on my back proudly. Its a special feeling to validate his life. There's nothing more important to a bereaved parent then knowing their child is being remembered, and their life being celebrated.


One of the highlights from the weekend was a very special meeting. After months of contact via email and online chat, I was able to meet a good friend Janet. It was great to finally give her a hug and be able to speak face to face. She is the amazingly creative woman who began Joe's Memory Bears and created my incredible, well loved Brayden Bears!
Janet, who also lost her son to a drowning accident, has been a big encouragement to me over the months and years since loosing Brayden. I am so thankful for the special part she plays in my life! Thank you Janet for everything!

Me, My favorite Brayden Bear, Janet, and her husband Dave

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Lost Love.. Reclaimed

I love to swim. Always have. Pools, Beaches, Lakes, swim teams, water parks... they were all a big part of my childhood. Swimming laps is by far my choice and favorite form of excersize. We overjoyed to move 30 minutes from the beach. The chance to raise our children and grow up around the water was almost a dream come true.
...Until that dream, that love was shattered.
I convinced myself that I would never be able to enjoy swimming again. I felt robbed and cheated of something I love so much. It has been 2 years since I have been in a pool.



Over the 4th of July Holiday we made a trip up to Md to see my inlaws, lots of family and friends. It was a very nice time of visiting, relaxing, and catching up. On Monday, we were invited to go out to my sister-in-law's house so all the kids could play. My brother-in-law's uncle lives close by to them and has a really nice in-ground pool. We were invited to join them in going swimming.



...on a beautiful peice of property with a gorgeous view I might add!

At first I was very apprehensive about the idea and wasen't sure if we should. Yet, both the kids just finished their self-rescue swimming lessons with ISR, which I knew would give me some confidence and more peace of mind. We have talked about going swimming together, as a family for months (possible a year) Yet it has not happened.

This past Mother's Day, along with our friends from small group, we went swimming at a community pool. The kids has not taken lessons yet, and it was to be the first time in a "big pool!" I was a nervous wreck about it and could not get myself to get in. So behind the lens of my camera I hid myself, using that as my excuse for not getting in. It was hard to see them swimming, yet I was so thankful they were having such a good time.

Back to Md... I knew I needed to make the plunge. I knew it was time. I wanted to swim, I needed to swim, and this was to be a huge positive healing step for my family. So, I said yes, and we went.

We swam, we laughed, we photographed, and we genuinly had a really good time.


Thanie was such a little fish!! He had a blast and absolutely loved the pool.. and making big splashes jumping in over, and over, ...


Ellie loved it too after playing on the steps for a bit. Especially loved this big raft!

I had a great time.

We swam, in a pool, together, ... and enjoyed ourselves.

"Peek-a-Boo!"


God is good.

Though I can't say that I didn't have thoughts, that the guilt didn't creep into my mind. I couldn't help but question how we could possibly be having fun doing something that is so closely related to the death of my precious baby boy. Was it wrong to find joy in something so painful?

Yet by HIS strength, I was put at peace. The story was not finished yet... and my God, the God of all Comfort is in the business of overcoming fears, offering Hope, and giving beauty for ashes.

Restoration.

Thanie showing off his new skills (;

"Cheese!" Lil Miss doing a lil sun bathing like her aunt Jessica !

We have not "arrived." We will never be "over it." But we are moving forward a step at a time, making strides and continuing through the journey. Reclaiming the love of swimming that always meant so much to me. Being made whole and receiving healing beyond what we could have ever imagined.



"Those who sow in tears, will reap Joy."

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

God's Timing

This past week has been a bit ...surreal.
It all started with an email I got notifying me of a contact through the Because of B.R.A.Y.D.E.N. website. I have gotten a few of those and most are spam or advertisers looking for money so I expected this would be just another one to disregard. The message simply stated, Call me asap with a phone number. I thought it was awfully strange. I looked at the name and the email address. It was a Post and Courier email.... and I began to think. Wow, Could this really be someone from our Charleston Newspaper?!? Is someone contacting me to write a story? It was a bit overwhelming and emotional and I didn't know what to think.
I received the message over the Holiday weekend so I was not surprised to get a voicemail when I called the number. Sure enough it was a reporter from our newspaper. I left a message and gave my number, hoping to hear back soon. On Tuesday I got the call again. It was David. He indeed wanted to know if we would be willing to share our story for an article he was writing on water safety. We talked for quite awhile and I had the opportunity not only to share our story, but to share about Because of B.R.A.Y.D.E.N. and all the exciting things that were happening.
It was almost too good to be true.
We didn't ask for this. We didn't go seeking out anyone. The opportunity just fell into our lap. An amazing opportunity to share our story and spread the word about water safety and the Water Safety Day just a month away.
The article came out yesterday, in the Your Health section of the Post and Courier Charleston paper. CLICK HERE to read the article! I am so incredible pleased at how well it was written. When I picked up the paper and read it in black and white, it hit hard. I was filled with emotions as the raw truth and pain of what we went through was in front of me. It was like reliving that day all over again. It was like putting my mistakes, my faults out there...Printed for all to see. Yet there was hope, beauty from Ashes portrayed as the story unfolded. Now, two years after such a tragic event, we are here. Starting a non profit, advocating for water safety, sharing our story of healing and restoration to bring others hope, planning our first event, and even swimming again.
My prayer is that it blesses someone else. My hearts desire is that even one life might be saved by hearing our story. I am in awe and humbled by the whole thing.
God's Timing never ceases to amaze me.
He truly does have all things worked out for the good, and I am believing more and more that the rest of our story is going to be more than we could ever ask or imagine.
It is not about me. It is not even about Brayden.
It is about the healing work that God has done through us and the opportunity that has been placed in front of us.
It just takes a step of faith.
It takes obedience.
It takes strength that only comes from above.
And I am so thankful.
Thankful for the lives that will be touched.
Thankful for the doors that are being opened.
Thankful for God's Timing.

"And 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 the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. "
Ephesians 3:20-21

Sunday, June 13, 2010

What are you waiting for?

Over the past few weeks this song as begun to mean so much to me. As I was contiplating in my mind the ideas we had for advocacy and the non-profit, I found myself full of fear and doubt. I knew in my heart that this was something I truly felt a calling to do my I allowed my guilt, shame and insecurities to get in the way.
One morning, just after the evening my sister and I began putting our thoughts and ideas together and on paper, I heard this song come on the radio. I know I had heard it numerous times before... but this time was different. I heard it like I never had before, I heard it loud and clear. "What are you waiting for? What do you have to lose? "
It's so true... what was I waiting for? I have already lost the most important thing, my son... now I need to get out and make a difference so that others don't have to suffer that same loss.
"You know your made for more..." God has promised to work all things to the good... I know that he has more for me, better things, He can, and will use me to make a difference.
As I step out in faith, trust Him and lean on His strength I do believe my fear will fall to the ground, that my insecurities will fade away. I'm stepping out, though I'm broken, though I'm not sure what lies ahead, I'm trusting in the promise that "He will not let me go."

"I CAN do All things through Christ who strengthen's me. " "Lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge Him... and He will guide your path"
The prayer of my heart is that God will open the doors He has for us. That lives will be touched, and saved, and that through my pain He will bring out something good.

I wanted to share the lyrics of the song for you... Hope they bless you as they have and continue to speak to me.

Walk on the Water
By Britt Nicole

You look around and staring back at you
Another wave of doubt
Will it pull you under
You wonder
What if I'm overtaken
What if I never make it
What if no one's there
Will you hear my prayer?
When you take that first step
Into the unknown
You know that he won't let you go

So what are you waiting for
What do you have to lose
Your insecurities
They try to hold to you
But you know you're made for more
So don't be afraid to move
Your faith is all it takes
And you can walk on the water too

So get out and let your fear fall to the ground
No time to waste, don't wait
And don't you turn around, and miss out on
Everything you were made for
Gotta be, I know you're not sure, more
So you play it safe, you try to run away
If you take that first step
Into the unknown
He won't let you go

So what are you waiting for
What do you have to lose
Your insecurities
They try to hold to you
But you know you're made for more
So don't be afraid to move
Your faith is all it takes
And you can walk on the water too

Step out, even when it's storming
Step out, even when you're broken
Step out, even when your heart is telling you,
Telling you to give up
Step out, when your hope is stolen
Step out, you can't see where you're going
You don't have to be afraid
So what are waiting, what are you waiting for

So what are you waiting for
What do you have to lose
Your insecurities
They try to hold to you
But you know you're made for more
So don't be afraid to move
Your faith is all it takes
And you can walk on the water,
Walk on the water too

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Angelversary Balloons for Brayden

This year, for Brayden's 2nd "Angelversary" we deicded to go to a local park. The whole SC family came along on a hot yet windy Sunday evening for our traditional Balloon Release.

Big Brother, Nathaniel, always enjoys helping and being a part of the releases. The balloons have become special to him and he often will 'send his balloon to Brayden' with a hug and kiss throughout the year.
As we have done in the past, we wrote messages on the balloons to Brayden, saying how much we love and miss him.


This year was extra special as the kids were all older and participated more than usual. Nathaniel and Paulie both enjoyed decorating their balloon and Nathaniel wrote special messages to his lil brother. Even Elliana, with Nana's help, decorated a balloon to send up.

A dear friend (and adopted family member) wrote a special message for us to use for the balloon release. It is our hope that others who find the balloons will be blessed and may read about the story of Brayden.


As we honor and remember Brayden's life, it is a day of celebration and smiles. Though there are tears, there is also laughter and joy.


Each on of us took the time to send up our balloons to Brayden, and watched as they flew up to the sky...











It offers a sweet comfort as we take a tangible item, as the balloon, and release it up to Heaven. Though we may never know what Heaven is like until we get there, we chose to believe that Brayden is there, looking down on us. We ask that Jesus will give him special hugs and kisses for us and "collect the balloons" for Brayden, sharing our special messages with him, on this special day.


Those who are not close by to be with us, are often with us in Spirit. We wrote messages and sent up special balloons for friends and family members from around the world.
Papa and Gramma sent us this beautiful bouquet of flowers this year to remind us that they hold us close in their hearts and are thinking about all of us this day. It was such a sweet suprise and brought us a smile as we thought of them and looked at the flowers that brightened up our living room.


Brayden, you are missed and loved so much. We chose to celebrate you, and all the wonderful moments we had with you. Can't wait till the day when we will see you and hold you again.
We love you!!!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Something to Smile about...

We never checked the mailbox yesterday... so as I opened it up to get the mail today, a smile crept across my face.

I made a decision a little over a week ago to take a step of faith...

and God ordained and chose this day for me to open this very special, important piece of mail.


Our family is growing again!!




...and NO! I am NOT pregnant!! :)




Meet Diluni!!!!



Diluni lives with her Mommy and Daddy in Sri Lanka, and is our new sponsored child. There are many things that make sweet Diluni special, but most of all it is a very special day that she shares with another very special someone.

Diluni was born on January 5, 2007, the very same day that Brayden was born.

We are so excited to be a part of lil Diluni's life and watch her grow. We will be praying for her, writing to her, and helping to support her physical, emotional, educational and spiritual needs.

I am so blessed to be able to allow God to use us to touch another life.

We are not quite sure how we are going to be able to do this financially but we know that God will make a way. It has been on my heart for some time to sponsor a child born this day and I believe this is a step in obedience and trust that I need to take.

Please join us in praying for sweet little Diluni, and for us as well that God will continue to provide for us financially, and will use us in the life of this precious child and her family... so many miles away.

"Jesus said, ...whomever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me." Matthew 18:5

Looking Up in this Downpour...

Today has been another one of those days...
We have made it through, but feel drained, and blah.

It feels like a beating, a downpour...

Yet I am encouraged, I feel loved, and blessed,
and I know we can keep going on.

I find the strength in Him to look Up in this Downpour...
To stand strong, though I feel so weak,
Knowing so many are here to help carry me.

I am blessed.

One moment at a time, one step in front of the other, one deep breath as we walk together...
The journey contines...
Our story is not over.

"In the midst of my anxieties within me, your comforts delight my soul." Psalm 94:19

"Those who sow in tears, will reap with joy." Psalm 126:5

"And we know that in ALL things God works for the Good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

"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

Found this poem and it really spoke to how my heart feels today...

Just one little peek into heaven,
Is all I'm asking for today.
I just want to know how he's doing,
And heaven seems so far away.
Is he playing on the clouds with angels?
Is he laughing and running today?
Does he miss me?
I guess only he knows.
Oh why does heaven seem so far away?
If you just let me look for a moment,
To catch a glimpse of his sweet smiling face,
I promise I won't try to take him,
I know, he's in a better place.
Just one little peek into heaven,
Is all I'm asking for today.
I just want to know how he's doing,
Since heaven seems so far away...
-Callie Sanders Thornton

Missing you so much today baby boy... but knowing you rest in the arms of Jesus and are celebrating with so many loved ones who join you there. Asking Jesus to give you big hugs and kisses for Mommy tonight. Sending extra for this, your Heaven Day.
I love you more than you will ever know, I love you more than words can say. Can't wait until that day when we will be together again.
Sweet Baby... Let Jesus Hold you... till Mom and Dad can hold you... again.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

2 years...

Two long years... that flew by way to fast.
I still can't hardly wrap my head around the facts.
I still can't believe what this day means.

How can it be?
How can I have made it this long...
It's getting harder to remember... yet I will never forget.

Oh I wish Elliana could know him.
So many things he has missed...
Life is so incomplete without him.

My heart still hurts so badly
My arms to ache to hold him close.

so many questions unanswered
so many unfulfilled dreams...

But, Life is getting better...
there are many more happy days now.
A new hope, and new vision drives me some how.
I'm determined to see something positive
come from all this heartache and pain.
I refuse to let nothing good come from this tragedy.

The tears still run freely
they come from the depth of my soul.
Yet, not near as often as they used to...

I just can't believe it's been two years
feels just like yesterday
yet it was an eternity ago

Each day I count my blessings
the many gifts I still hold here on earth
May I never take these precious moments for granted
but keep them close in my heart

I choose to keep moving on
One step at a time
A prayer for each moment
strength, comfort, and peace from above

For I know He's not finished with me yet.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Banded in Blue!!!

So excited, our Drowning Awareness wrist bands arrived!!
We will be selling these for $5 each.
The bands are blue and say DROWNING AWARENESS on one side and BecauseofBRAYDEN.org on the other.
All procedes will go to becauseofBRAYDEN to promote Water Safety, fund scholarships for self rescue swimming lessons, aid in bringing more ISR self rescue instructors to the lowcountry, and create educational materials to spread the word and help prevent Drownings.
Please contact me at becauseofbrayden@gmail.com if you would like to purchase.
We are still working on the website but plan to have something up this weekend. We will also eventually have a donate button and a place to purchase the wrist bands on the site and here on this blog.
Thank you everyone for your support, encouragement and most of all prayers as we set out to change lives, promote water safety, and see that not one more child drowns.
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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Reality

So.. reality hit tonight as I ripped open the fed ex package I picked up. I opened the bag (then another, and finally another!) to reveal some very special bracelets. Our Because of BRAYDEN wrist bands. It is our first fundraiser for the Water Safety Charity. We will be sellling them for $5 each to raise money for self rescue lesson scholarships as well as training for future ISR instructors.

I don't know if it was seeing his name, knowing the meaning, or reading the words, "Drowning Awareness". But a flood of emotions hit as I placed the bracelet on my wrist.
This really is going to happen. We are going to make this happen.
Thia is what we have been waiting for...
The positive from the pain.
The Good in such a tragedy.

Lives will be saved, eyes will be opened, and awareness will spread.

I'm so excited avout this opportuinity and the great things that lie ahead.
Hopes, Dreams, thoughts.....
Reality.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sneak Peak...

OK.. so I have been trying to hold off blogging, facebooking, or saying anything much about this... but I just can't hold it in. All day my head has been spinning with ideas and I have searched, and read, and googled till my head hurts.

Thanks to the encouragment and partnership of my wonderful sister, Lauren, we are starting a non-profit!!!

She has wanted to "do" something for quite sometime now. And me? well, we all know that I have been tossing things around for a year... unsure of which way to go and what to do.

Since beginning Elliana's self-rescue swim lessons there has been quite a change in me. A new stirring in my heart and a new perspective on things.

I feel the tug more and more to begin to do something along the lines of Advocacy. So many peaole just don't know. I know I am not alone in the blindness I had to so many things.

I want to spread the word. I want to make a difference. I want to fill a need. I want to raise awareness. I want to be apart of saving lives.
So... the dream is becoming a reality...

"Because of BRAYDEN"...
Building Resources and Awareness of Youth Drownings through Encouragement and Networking!

We are only in the very early stages of Dreaming, planning, hoping and gathering... but there are some awesome things in the works. We are creating a website and beginning to make contacts and look forward to sharing more plans soon!
Please partner with us and keep us in Prayer that we will have strength, clarity and open doors to do what we need and are supose to do with this dream.

Lots more to come...

Broken... but not without Hope



1 Peter 5:10
"This suffering won't last forever. It won'y be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ--- eternal and glorious plans they are!--- will have you put together and on your feet for good." (The Message)

Wow. About all I could say after reading this verse. I LOVE, LOVE this version of it too. Such Hope. How encouraging. Though I feel so broken and scattered... there is Hope for me. My God promises to put my peices back together! And for Good! Pretty Amazing.
Looking forward to the unfolding of His plan and the good he will bring to completion in me.
Thankful. Blessed. Encouraged.

Hope you are too.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Post 100...

I started blogging more regularly in Oct. 2008. That was 19 months ago.

It was a new venture for me... a way to journal out my thoughts and feelings, to express my hurts and my struggles. It was also a way for me to celebrate the memories. To talk about my precious Brayden and share the ways he has impacted our life.


I never imagined anyone would read my blog. I didn't consider that people would be interested in my writings.
I had no idea how much it would help in my healing and grief journey to blog.


Yet here we are... May of 2010. This is my 100th post.

I have friends, family, and even unmet strangers (I now consider friends!) who tell me they are encouraged by my writing. That our story has touched them as well.

I have people who "follow" my blog and check in to see the latest post.

That means a lot to me.

It's encouraging more than words could say to know that there is beauty in the midst of pain. That through my suffering, others have been blessed.

I pray that this continues... I pray that my story, my life, my pain.. will be used for God's glory and that he will bring it all together for the good.



I am so thankful for the opportunities to reach out. To speak encouragement, and to celebrate the bits of healing along this journey.



Thank you all for sharing this part of my journey with me.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Seventeen Months and One Day...

Today Elliana is seventeen months and one day old.
Brayden was seventeen months and one day old the day that he died.
The anticipation of this day has been so difficult. The ache in my heart has been unbearable at times and many tears have been shed.

Today has come ... and almost gone.

We took of work today and made the decision to spend it together, as a family. I knew that I would not be able to leave Elliana today. I just needed to be with her, to have her near me.

Suprising to me... the hardest part of today was bedtime.
Saying goodbye to this day.
Knowing it's over.
Tomorrow, Elliana will be seventeen months and two days old.
Tomorrow, She will be older than Brayden ever got to be.
Elliana will continue to grow older, to experience new things... there will be moments we never had with Brayden, new experiences that never came.
It seems hard to know how to go on.
Part of me feels frozen. That time should just stand still.

I wanted so badly to skip her ISR lesson today. The thought of putting her in a pool, even in water, today, seemed impossible. My mind flooded with emotion filled thoughts and I felt my self becoming anxious ... over nothing.
I soon realized that of all things to do, this was one of the greatest things I can do for Ellie. Teaching her these life saving self rescue techniques is going to impact her for life. This day would never have come.. would not be so difficult, had I known about these lessons before.
So we went... I made it through.
With support of awesome friends and family who stood beside me I was able to celebrate with Ellie's accomplishments in the water. She is learning and trying and doing so well. I am so proud of her.
Moving forward. Positive steps. Facing fears. TRUSTING.

So as I went to tuck in my sweet little girl tonight, I found myself not wanting to let go. I held her close, rocked her gently, and prayed over her.
I thanked God for her, as I do daily. I asked God to bless her with many many more days. I asked for the strength to allow her to grow.
Protection, Safety, Health, Comfort, and Peace.
I asked for renewed Joy.

I feel as though another chapter is over. A new part of the journey now begins. Yet, I'm not sure where to go from here...

Lord, let me never take even one moment for granted. Give me the courage and the strength to trust you. Allow me to love Elliana and care for her for years and years to come. Bless me with the knowledge and discernment to make the decisions I need to make to help her grow and mature.
Make me the Mother to her and Nathaniel that you want me to be. Help me to love them as you do. Thank you for these precious gifts.
Remind me not to lean on my own understanding.. but in all my ways look to you.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Heart Tugs

I've mentioned before that I am really at a point where I want... and need to start doing something. I feel that urge to begin making a difference.
Since the accident we have said it, felt it, and claimed that something GOOD was going to come from all this.
I am ready to see that come to pass. The tug at my heart is growing and more frequent.
Just knowing that my story can touch, encourage or help someone else means so much.
It is hard to know what the right thing is for me to do. What is it I am supose to do? There are several avenues I feel I could go.

My heart is truly for the support. I am a believer in Counseling, I am a believer in support groups. There is nothing like being with others who understand, who are experienceing similar hurts. I validates your feelings, it makes you feel less alone... down this hard journey.
I still desire so much to start a group for parents who have lost young children. I love my monthly support group but it just isn't quite enough. I want to be able to relate to others on a deeper level.

In the last few weeks we have been working really hard with Nathaniel. He has started opening up and talking quite a bit. I feel that he is ready to talk. He remembers everything. It has been confirmed through several people that he is a very anxious little boy. He is sad, confused, worried, and hurting. He misses his little brother.
That is so hard for me. There is nothing like seeing one of your children hurting, ...and not be able to do anything to 'fix' it.
He is back to going too weekly counseling and it seems to be helping. He has started opening up to her and is able to express himself better. He has also had a really great week in school, which we have not seen in awhile.
We know that the best thing for Nathaniel would be intense group grief therapy. I have lokked, and called, and researched, and looked... and found Nothing! In the whole state of South Carolina... there does not seem to be a single bereavement group for children.
This hurts my heart. More recently, it angers me.
What an incredible need that is not being filled! Each and every day their are children who loose close loved ones and are hurting and grieving... just as adults do.
Just like us they need to know they are not alone. They need to be free to share their feelings and have a place to talk when they need to.
Each time I meet someone or hear another story of loss, leaving children... the heart tugs begin again. I am beginning to feel more and more that this is what I need to get started right away... a group for children.
My real desire would be to have an adult group going on at the same time for parents/caregivers and to also have age appropirate groups (younger and older)
When I start thinking about all this my mind gets flooded with ideas. There are so many things we could do... so many kids we could be reaching. It is truly a passion.

The third avenue for me is advocacy. This area has always been in the back of my mind somewhere.. but is the most difficult for me to think about. I think this comes from the guilt and shame that I still feel about the accident. The thought of being able to educate and help prevent other similar accidents would be great. There is a definate need for people to better understand the dangers with children and water. There are programs and other things in place, that people just do not know about.
I would love to be able to be used in this area. I have been in touch with SafeKids of Charleston and do hope that one day we will be able to meet and discuss ways for me to become involved.
I just know it's not going to be easy.

I often sit and doubt myself. Am I ready? Am I skilled enough? Can I communicate well enough to really make a difference? Would I be able to hold together my emotions and not transfer my pain and hurts onto others but instead be able to help, encourage and educate?
Do I even want others to know my story?...

I take a deep breath. I say a little prayer. God, give me the strength to make it through. Give me the passion to touch others. Open the doors that you want me to walk through. Help me to be sensitive to the things that I can do to make a difference in others.
I am reminded of the story of Moses and Aaron in Exodus 3-4.
He felt so inadequate... yet God used him in such a mighty way. God asked Moses, "What is in your hand?" In the midst of his doubt he didn't stop to think that God has already provided what he needed.
I know that God too, has given me what I need. I pray for the confidence and strenth to walk in it. To use what I have been given... to touch the lives of others. I feel God leading me saying, All I need is you.. and an open heart. "What is in your (hands) heart? What are the things I have gifted you with? Go, Use them... Make your mark... touch others.

Use me... make good come from such a difficult and painful situation.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Peices of him...

My heart is heavy tonight... the tears are flowing...It's one of those.

Once again, I know that I am probably making things worse, or harder for myself. It's amazing how much your thoughts can eat at you!
Missing him to badly tonight.

My heart aches as I sit and cuddle with Elliana. She was walking over to me, laying her head on my shoulder to give me a cuddle hug, then hoping right back down again.
Just like Brayden always did.

I've said it before... there are so many little peices of Brayden in Elliana. Her looks, her demeanor, her dramactics!, her cuddles...
It's such a blessing.
But sometimes it hurts..
Watching her tonight cut like a knife... to my heart.

I caught myself several times just picturing him. Trying to remember all the little things he did and said. Wanting to compare and decide, was Brayden this tall? or taller? Was he this talkitive and smart? Did he smile this way? Could he figure things out so quickly like that?

May 4th.
Elliana will be 17 months old.
May 5th
Elliana will be 17 months and 1 day old. The exact age Brayden was the day he died.
May 6th
Elliana will be older than Brayden ever was... this side of heaven.

Been thinking about this alot lately. Tonight it just hit me really hard. Starring at Elliana, watching her every move. Wanting so badly to remember every little thing about Brayden... this very age.
Holding her.
Remembering how he felt.
Kissing her forhead.
Picturing his adorable face looking up at me... dropping his face for a kiss on the forehead.
Remembering his waddle over to me on the couch to simply give me a quick hug.
...so much like the ones I'm recieving from Ellie tonight.

How can she be His age? How can she get older? What do we do from here?
How a part of me wishes we could just freeze time.
What I wouldn't give to go back in time!
Thinking about whats ahead. About all the things we will experience with Elliana that we missed out on with Brayden.
Not even wanting to go on...

Man how I miss him...
How I wish it still didn't hurt so bad
Wishing my heart would stop aching...

Wishing like Hell I could just have one more...

There could never be enough.

I miss you
I love you
...... My sweet baby boy...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Facing my Fears

"I gain strength, courage and confidence from every experience
in which I really stop to look fear in the face.
I must do the thing I cannot do."
~Eleanor Rossevelt

Another sweet blogger Mom I have begun to follow wrote an incredible post HERE about her sweet JaLaynee Grace. It spoke volumes and I can relate to so much of what she wrote.

It is so true that when we voice our fears, we can begin healing. I also have such a fear of anything to do with swimming. Even bathing is still difficult for me. I am terrified to turn my head from the kids. Nathaniel enjoys "swimming" in the tub, blowing bubbles, putting his face, head in water.. and all of it is hard for me to see. deal with. Ellie uses a seat, but even that is slippery. She wants to be out. To be sitting up playing with toys, etc. and I can't bear the thought of having her out of it. I hate to even let me hand off her while in the tub.
Last summer somehow came and went... I think I was still in a fog. But this year the warm weather is here and summer is fast approaching.
Nathaniel is older, smarter.. faster
Elliana is now walking, into everything, and all over the place.
Our friends have pools, our babysitter goes to her neighborhood pool frequently, water parks will be open, ...
Pools, Oceans, Water... it's everywhere.

I have such a fear and undesire to ever swim again.
Yet, Swimming was such a part of my life.. I was born at the beach. I was in lessons at a very young age and on swim teams throughout my early life.
It's my favorite form of exercise, relazation, and fun.

Until...
The thing that I worry most about is Elliana.
The thought of her swimming, is freightening.

So, to face this fear, I have signed her up with a Program called Infant Swimming Resource ISR. This is a very intense, and thorough program that teaches self- rescue tecniques to infants from 6 months old. Through the short, consistant lessons, Elliana will learn to float on her back, grab onto the wall, kick and swim with her face in the water, rolling over as needed to breath/break.. and get herself to the wall, ...
I can only imagine how difficult this will be for me. It is like facing my fear dead on.
Yet, I know it is what I need. I know it is what Elliana needs. Knowing that Ellie has these self rescue skills will help give me a little peace of mind when it comes to her in water.

What I wouldn't give to go back in time... to give Brayden these important skills... he would still be with us here today.

We have decided that because of Nathaniel's age and size and skill level, he will do well with traditional lessons at the local YMCA and we are going to have him signed up early on this summer.
So.. Elliana is all registerd and signed up. Lessons will be each day Mon- Friday for about 3-4 weeks. Due to their intensity the lessons are only 10 minutes each.
I recieved her shirt and swim diaper in the mail. It's sitting on the table and I keep walking past just looking at them. The reality is beginning to hit that she will soon be in the water, in a pool, learning to swim.
It's exciting, and nerve wrecking at the same time. I want so badly to do this. I know that I do not have to do this alone, and I am so thankful for that. I stand in confidence knowing that my God will fill me with His strength, and his peace... and I will choose to remember that I CAN do all things through HIM who gives me the strength.
The time has come to face this fear... to do the thing I cannot do.

For God hath not given us a spirit of fear,
but of power and of love and of sound mind.
II Timothy 1:7

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Just be here...

Don’t Tell Me

Please don't tell me you know how I feel,
Unless you have lost your child too,
Please don't tell me my broken heart will heal,
Because that is just not true,
Please don't tell me my son is in a better place,
Though it is true, I want him here with me,
Don't tell me someday I'll hear his voice, see his face,
Beyond today I cannot see,
Don’t tell me it is time to move on,
Because I cannot,
Don’t tell me to face the fact he is gone,
Because denial is something I can't stop,
Don't tell me to be thankful for the time I had,
Because I wanted more,
Don't tell me when I am my old self you will be glad,
I'll never be as I was before,
What you can tell me is you will be here for me,
That you will listen when I talk of my child,
You can share with me my precious memories,
And speak to me his name.
Do help me remember the good times,
And even the crazy, hard moments too.
Remind me he will never be forgotten,
And that he will always be alive in our hearts.

My *virtual* Walk to Remember

The Compassionate Friends (TCF) is a support group for bereaved parents. This international group touches the lives of thousands each year who are going through one of the most difficult trials ever faced. Compassionate Friends has been one of the most encouraging and important parts of my grief Journey. I have been attending monthly meetings since July 2008, made wonderful friendships, been lifted up, validated, supported, and loved by this group and I am so thankful for them.
Each year, TCF has a national conference. I hope and pray that I will be able to attend this year in Arlington, VA in July. As part of the conference all of the families take part in a Walk to Remember in honor of our children... and all the children, lost too soon. For those who cannot be apart of the walk in person they have also set up a virtual Walk to Remember as a way to raise money for this wonderful organization. To show my support to The Compassionate Friends, and do my part in giving back; I am raising money to help reach many more needy parents and families who are hurting and lonely. Click HERE to go to our personal site in Honor and Memory of Brayden. Any and every gift helps, and will make a difference in the life of someone... just as I am a life who has been touched.
Please visit the site if you wish and consider giving, even a little to help this great need.
Thank you!
Michelle
Brayden's Mommy

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Remembrance

You can shed tears that he is gone,
or you can smile because he has lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that he'll come back,
or you can open your eyes and see all that he has left.

Your heart can be empty because you can't see him,
or you can be full of the love your shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday,
or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.

You can remember him and only that he's gone,
or you can cherish his memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back,
or you can do what he'd want.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Forgiving Myself

This post is Honest.
This post is transparent.
This post is Hard...
This post is real.

There are some things Heavy on my heart.. things I've been dealing Not dealing with since Brayden's accident.

One word says it all; Guilt. In my heart, I take FULL responsibility for Brayden's accident. I know that if I were here, Brayden would also still be here today.
So often people say, "It was just an accident" and as Christians, we are 'encouraged' that It' must have been his time'. 'it was God's plan...' It is so hard for me to accept that, I don't think I ever will.

I left Jake, knowing how sick and out of it he was. (and knowing how crazy and all over the place the boys had been that day)
When frustrated with the childproof handle cover, I riped it off, and didn't put t back on.
I didn't speak up about the ladder being left in the pool.. even after discussing the importance of it so many times before.

I could loose myself easily in the land of "if only..."

People have asked me about anger. Am I angry with God? Am I angry with Jake? Do I blame them?
The answer has always been NO. I am not sure why, except that I put it all on myself.
I truly do not blame Jake, or Nathaniel, ... or even God.
I do have LOTS of questions, and may never know the Why's.

Someone said to me, ... If you don't feel that they deserve to be blammed, them why do you deserve it?
That spoke so much to me.
Why do I deserve all the blame? I hadn't quite thought of it quite that way before. There are so many built up feelings and emotions that I just don't know what to do with them. Instead of just putting them all on myself... why not take the time to uncover them, to deal with them, and heal them.
That takes time. That is painful. That is embarrasing. That is hard.
But I need to remind myself that I am not alone.
That it is not by My strength...

Another women, who I met while attending a weekly Christian based support group, that I am so thankful I have found!, gave me a few verses of encouragement.

Isaiah 55:8-9 (New International Version)

8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,"
declares the LORD.

9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

I was also encouraged when reminded that Gods forgivness and mercies are new every morning.
He Loves me. ...so much so that he sent His son. God knows the pain of loosing a child, of seeing his son, suffer and die.

If He loves me that much..
Why can't I love myself... and allow myself to let go of the selfishness and the guilt and pain.

I want to choose every day to remember these things. To stand on the fact that God's ways are greater than my ways. To take heart in the knowledge that He does love me, and forgives me each day.

Brayden was given to me as a precious gift...
He was mine to borrow... for just a little while.
He touched my life, my heart in such a huge way... and I know others too.

I just never imagined I'd have to give him back... this side of Heaven.
I will never have all the answers...

But I can learn to Forgive myself,
to Love myself... as He does.

God give me the strength...

Elephant

The Elephant In The Room
by Terry Katterling

There's an elephant in the room.
It is large and squatting, so it is hard to get around it.
Yet we squeeze by with *How are you?* and *I'm fine*.
And a thousand other forms of trivial chatter.

We talk about the weather.
We talk about work.
We talk about everything else - except the elephant in the room.
There's an elephant in the room.

We all know it is there.
We are all thinking about the elephant as we talk.
It is constantly on our minds.
For you see, it is a very large elephant.

But, we do not talk about the elephant in the room.
Oh, please, say his name.
Oh, please, say *Brayden* again.
Oh, please, let's talk about the elephant in the room.

For if we talk about his death, perhaps we can talk about his life.
Can I say *Brayden* and not have you look away?
For, if I cannot, you are leaving me
Alone.......in a room......with an elephant.....

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Thoughts of You

I though of you with love today,
but that is nothing new.
I thought about you yesterday,
and days before that too.
I think of you in silence,
I often speak your name.
All I have are memories,
and a picture in a frame.
Your memory is my keepsake,
with which I'll never part.
God has you in His keeping,
I have you in my heart.

~Anonymous

Monday, February 15, 2010

Protecting His Memory


Found this quote and loved it. Could not have said it better, don't think it requires much explaination. I want so badly to protect Brayden's Memory, to keep him alive in our family, especially for Nathaniel. I want Elliana to know her big brother, and for him to live on in our hearts. I want to be sure that the world never forgets....

Acceptance... and Letting Go



Acceptance.


Such a Huge word. Such a Huge undertaking.

Having a hard time swallowing that thought lately.

I know what has happened, I believe what has happened (most days); but when does the time come when I can allow myself to accept it?

Brayden is not here anymore. There's no room to clean up, little one to comfort, dress or settle down. A mouth is missing to feed, and only 2 car seats sit in my van. Brayden is gone. He's not coming back. So why do I have such a hard time with the accepting part. It's sounds so much easier than it is.
I've come to realize myself that, Accepting the loss of Brayden means admitting that this was (is) part of God's plan.
And I'm not ready to believe that.

How could the God of love, God of peace and comfort, want this for me? How could this painful, tragic, impossible feeling situation be apart of His plan?

I know that God has been speaking to my heart so much lately about what's next. I believe that the prompting I feel to make more good come from this situation is from Him. I want more than anything to know what the end of this story is. I desire to see others blessed and lives changed through our story. It's so hard not having clear answers. Not knowing what that next step is.

Pastor spoke at church this weekend on this same topic. It spoke straight to my soul. I do believe the promises that, "He who began a good work.. will bring it to completion."
I know that there must be a reason that we are still here... and he is not.

Not being able to see what's ahead has caused me to doubt. I've found myself frustrated and stressed and being overcome with the things around me.

I haven't Let Go.
I felt so clearly the other night that God said to me that I had not truly given it all over to Him.
The pain, the hurt, the anger, the confusion, the emptiness, the questions....
I'm still holding on.

But how do I let go?! Why is so hard to just lay it all down? Why do I try to continually carry these burdens?

Again, I feel my self again admit that truth... If I let it go and give it all to Him, I'm letting myself believe that it will be OK. That He is in control, and that yes, God knew and continues to know the deepest part of all of this. Laying it all down to Him relinquishes all control I feel that I still have. As if I have any.

Accepting that this was God's plan or that He knew what we would endure requires me to let go of guilt. Guilt I cling onto so tightly. Guilt that I put fully on myself for letting this happen.
Guilt that I carry as a cloud over my head, and a wall in my heart.

Yet I know that ...
Releasing it brings peace. Letting it go speaks peace. Handing it over to Him, lightens the load.
I know that He is calling me to do these things. I believe in my heart that He desires for me to be comforted, to be carried, and to be freed from the weight of these burdens.

I never imagined being able to so clearly feel both extremes. To know both truths and struggle so much within myself. It's so difficult to explain, to deal with, or even to feel.

It's just takes me, willing to let go.
To accept that He is in control.
To believe deep in my soul that this is His plan, and He knows best.

And I want that so badly... Lord, give me the strength...


He's handing it out to me... I just need to reach out and accept.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

My Beautiful Broken Shell

My mom recently gave me a very special gift. It was a book called "My Beautiful Broken Shell", by Carol Hamblet Adams. It is such a beautiful depiction of me, my life, and the lives of so many others who have been broken and tossed and turned by waves and storms of life. It says so many things I want to say and share, it truly speaks so much of My heart.





Wanted to share the story here... I'm leaving some parts out but the whole thing is such a worth while read! It's a bit long... but I pray it encourages others and it has me.


...This is My first morning at the ocean, and as I walk to the beach, feeling the rich, warm sand beneath my feet, I decide to collect a few shells.
...I walk by a broken scallop shell.. and leave it to search for more perfect ones.
But then I stop.. go back.. and pick up the broken shell. I realize that this shell is me with my broken heart.


This shell is people who are hurting... people who have lost loved ones... people who are frightened or alone.. people with unfulfilled dreams.
This shell has had to fight so hard to keep from being totally crushed by the pounding surf... just as I have had to. Yet this shell is still out on the beautiful sandy shore.. just as I am.

Thank you, Lord, that I haven't been completely crushed by the heaviness in my heart... by the pounding of the surf.

If our world were only filled with perfect shells, we would miss some of life's most important lessons along the way. We would never learn from adversity... from pain.. from sorrow.

Thank you, Lord, for all that I learn from my brokenness... for the courage it takes to live with my pain... and for the strength it takes to remain on the shore.
Broken shells teach us not to look at our imperfections.. but to look at the beauty... the great beauty... of what is left.
If anything is still left of me or my loved ones, then that is enough to grab hold of.. to keep me going... to thank God for.
Broken shells mean lots of tears... lots of pain.. lots of struggle.. but they are also valuable for teaching faith, courage, and strength.
Broken shells inspire others and demonstrate the will to go on in a way that no perfect shell could ever do.
Broken shells are shells that have been tested.. and tried.. and hurt... yet they don't quit. They continue to be.

Thank you, Lord, for the great strength it takes to simply be... even when I hurt so deeply that there seems to be nothing left of me.

As I walk along the beach picking up shells, I see that each one has its own special beauty... its own unique pattern.

Lord, help me to see my own beautiful pattern.. and to remember that each line and each color on my shell was put there by You. Help me not to compare myself to others, so that I may appreciate my own uniqueness.
Help me to truly accept myself just as I am, so that I may sing the song in my heart.. for no one else has my song to sing... my gift to give.

I watch the tolling surf toss new shells onto the shore, and I am reminded of the many times that I, too, have been tossed bu the storms of life and worn down by the sands of time, just life my beautiful broken shell. But I am reminded that broken shells don't stand alone.

Thank you, Lord, for being with me to share my life... to help me carry my burdens.
Thank you for the precious gift of faith that keeps me strong when I am weak... that keeps me going when it would be easier to quit.
Thank you, Lord, for hope in times of despair... for light in times of darkness.. for patience in times of suffering... for assuring me that with You all things are possible.

A wave crashes, sending tiny sand crabs scurrying for safety... and I am reminded that even the smallest creatures depend on each other. Especially in our brokenness, we need the Lord, and we need one another.

Thank you Lord, for filling my life with people who care. Thank you for my family... for my friends... for those who are always there for me.

As I look at my beautiful broken shell, I see that it has nothing to hide. It doesn't pretend to be perfect or whole... its brokenness is clear for everyone to see.

Lord, may I be strong enough to sow my pain and brokenness like this shell. May I give myself permission to hurt... to cry... to be human. May I have the courage to risk sharing my feelings with others so that I may receive support and encouragement along the way.
Lord, help me to reach out to others... especially to the broken and discouraged... not only to love then but to learn from them as well. May I listen... comfort... and give unconditional love to all who pass my way.
Lord, help me to realize that I am not the only one hurting... that we all have pain in out lives. Help me remember that in my brokenness I am still whole and complete in Your sight.
As I walk among the many washed-up shells, I suddenly spot a broken conch shell... white and ordinary on the outside... yet brilliant coral inside.

Lord, help me to see inside the hearts of people who touch my life... and to see their true colors.
Somehow, here at the ocean, I receive so many gifts. I am grateful for the inner peace that fills my soul. I take time to notice sandpipers playing along the shore... beach grasses swaying in the salty breezes. I delight in finding simple treasures... a piece of smooth green glass polished by the waves... a transparent white stone... a starfish.

Lord, help me to remain childlike in my appreciation for life. Please slow me down... that I may always see the extraordinary in the ordinary. That I may always wonder at the shell in sand... the dawn of a new day... the beauty of a flower... the blessing of a friend... the love of a child. May I always take the time to watch a kite dance in the sky... to sing... to pick daisies... to love.. to take risk... to believe in my dreams.

As I look once more at the broken scallop shell in my hand, I am reminded of all the beautiful shells God has placed around me.

Lord, may I truly value every moment spent with my loved ones while this life is so briefly mine. Let me not destroy the beauty of today bu grieving over yesterday... or worrying about tomorrow. May I cherish and appreciate my shell collection each and every day... for I know not when the tide will come and wash my treasures away. Thank you Lord, for embracing my shell... whether I am whole or broken. Thank You for sending me loved ones who care. Thank You for holding me in the palm of Your hand... for keeping me safe from the pounding surf.

For now, I'll just continue walking and add to my collection of beautiful shells.


"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; and those who are crushed in spirit He saves".
Psalm 34:18