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

Balloons for Brayden

I am a bit delayed in posting this but I just haven't gotten myself together to upload the pictures or to take the time and work on the post... so anyhow, here it is.

In celebration of Brayden's birthday this year we had a small get together with family and some close friends. We wanted to do another balloon release together and we also had some food and fellowship just visiting and remembering our sweet baby boy on his 3rd birthday.

This year we decided to do something different and we tied a small message to the balloons so that whomever and wherever they were found would know the story behind them and be invited to read more of Brayden's story here.

We also wrote messages to Brayden on the balloons
There were Smiles sent from Nana...

Kelly and Bella sent up sweet birthday wishes...

Auntie Em shared her love...

even sent up some messages from Grandpop

big brother, Nathaniel, drew a special picture and wrote a special note....
Uncle Brant and smilie Avery celebrated with us as well.

Everyone gathered out back and paused to think and remember Brayden as we listed to "Fly to Jesus" by Chris Rice.

Cousin Paulie waiting to release his balloon

And then we slowly sent up our Balloons to Brayden...

This year, unlike last, the balloons were flying into the trees and getting stuck! A few people mentioned that it felt like Brayden, not wanting to let go... just as we don't want to let go of him and don't want him to drift further from us.

Little by little they began to break through the branches and make there way up to the clouds. Praying Jesus gave them to Brayden for us with lots of special hugs and kisses from all of us!
Hapy Birthday Brayden! We miss you so much and love you more than ever!
In our heart forever....

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Bereaved Parents Wish List

I wish my child hadn’t died. I wish I had him back.
I wish you wouldn’t be afraid to speak my child’s name. My child lived and was very important to me. I need to hear that he was important to you as well.
If I cry and get emotional when you talk about my child, I wish you knew that it isn’t because you have hurt me. My child’s death is the cause of my tears. You have talked about my child, and you have allowed me to share my grief. I thank you for both.
I wish you wouldn’t "kill" my child again by removing his pictures, artwork, or other remembrances from your home.
Being a bereaved parent is not contagious, so I wish you wouldn’t shy away from me. I need you more than ever.
I need diversions, so I do want to hear about you; but I also want you to hear about me. I might be said and I might cry, but I wish you would let me talk about my child, my favorite topic of the day.
I know that you think of and pray for me often. I also know that my child’s death pains you, too.
I wish you would let me know things through a phone call, a card or a note, or a real big hug.
I wish you wouldn’t expect my grief to be over in six months. These first months are traumatic for me, but I wish you could understand that my grief will never be over. I will suffer the death of my child until the day I die.
I am working very hard in my recovery, but I wish you could understand that I will never fully recover. I will always miss my child, and I will always grieve that he is dead.
I wish you wouldn’t expect me "not to think about it" or to "be happy". Neither will happen for a very long time so don’t frustrate yourself.
I don’t want to have a "pity party," but I do wish you would let me grieve. I must hurt before I can heal.
I wish you understood how my life has shattered. I know it is miserable for you to be around me when I’m feeling miserable. Please be as patient with me as I am with you.
When I say, "I’m doing okay," I wish you could understand that I don’t feel okay and that I struggle daily.
I wish you knew that all of the grief reactions I’m having are very normal. Depression, anger, hopelessness and overwhelming sadness are all to be expected. So please excuse me when I’m quiet and withdrawn or irritable and cranky.
Your advice to "take one day at a time" is excellent. I wish you could understand that I’m doing good to handle him at an hour (moment) at a time.
I wish you understood that grief changes people. When my child died, a big part of me died with him. I am not the same person I was before my child died, and I will never be that person again.
I wish very much that you could understand – understand my loss and my grief, my silence and my tears, my void and my pain. But I pray daily that you will never understand.
~Taken from The Compassionate Friends

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Happy Third Birthday Brayden!!! We love you and miss you soo much!!
We sent some balloons up your way today.... Praying Jesus will catch them for you and put a smile on your face...

What a celebration it must be... a Heavenly birthday! I asked Jesus to give you some special hugs for me... I bet Pop Pop and Mr. Gary are partying it up with you!

Can't believe your three. What I wouldn't give to have a peak into what that would be like.
At the grocery store today the gentleman preparing the balloons began asking me questions. "Who are the balloons for? Oh, How old is he? What did you get him for his birthday?" and on and on...
I know he was just being sweet and having conversation. If only he knew...
I found myself lying through me teeth. "They're for my son. He's three. He just loves blue and orange, thats all. Gifts? Oh you know, lots of boy stuff! Dinosaures, Cars, Balls, etc... "
I kept myself together. Not sure why I lied. But how do you answer that question? How do you say, Oh... these are just to be released. They are in memory of my son who died a year and a half ago. It is his birthday, he'd be three today.
I just couldn't find it in me to say the words.
So I didn't. And the story remained a lie.
Truth be told... I have no idea what I would have bought. I hate not knowing what Brayden would be into these days. It's hard to admit that I can't even fathem what gifts I would be giving my three year old lil boy today.
How would you and Nathaniel interact? He misses you alot. We talk about you often.
He ran with your balloon today. Said it was fun to watch the balloon trail behind.
Is that what it would be like? To watch you trail behind your bubby as you ran across the yard...
What a scene I would love to see...
All we can do is send our love. Cherish the memories, and hold you in our hearts.
Well, we sent you these balloons today. Three blue, for my three year old boy... and 2 orange, just because it was your favorite my favorite color on you.
They together represent the 5 of us. For we are, and will always be, a family of 5. (unless God decides to change that by adding more!)

Happy Birthday Brayden! I love you so much Baby Boy... and miss you terribly on this special birthday!
...your Three!

Friday, January 1, 2010

a year without you

It's new years eve. The end of 2009. The beginning of 2010.

This also means that we have now competed an entire year without Brayden. Yes, it has been almost 19 months since Brayden died... but 2009 was the first 'calendar' year that he was not with us. Brayden never lived to see 2009... and now that year too has come and gone. Just one more random thought I catch my self thinking about... one more fact to file away, one more truth to swallow.

Life is moving on...

It is time to look ahead... to get excited about the hope we have for the future. I am praying that 2010 becomes the year of positive steps for us as a family. A year for changes, a year for hope, and a year for reaching out... to make something beautiful out of the pain. To touch other lives and help families either avoid this journey, or have strength to walk it, but not alone.

Brayden will remain alive on our hearts... and will continue to touch people... even though the calendar moves on.

To making a difference in 2010...

Almost all together...

This year the Holidays were very special. For thanksgiving we were up in maryland and had the chance to see my in-laws and the whole family was together... Sat. night, Jess and Bryan came over for dinner along with Brendon and the girls. It was so nice to have all the cousins together and to visit with everyone.

Then for Christmas we stayed home this year. For the first time in over 4 years all 6 Moylan/Ainsworth siblings were together. Along with spouses and children. It was hectic, busy and loud great to have everyone together again.

That is all but one...

Once again, it was so hard see all the kids together and take pictures... knowing there was one missing. Things were so incomplete this year... yet it was the new trend of what life will be like from here on out.

That's a hard fact to swallow.

I hate that Brayden is not here.

I hate that so many of his cousins, will never know him.

I hate that Elliana will only know the big brother in pictures and stories we tell.

I hate that family pictures and grandkids pictures will never be complete....
As much as we enjoy being together and I hope that we have more memories like this one where we all get together...
we will always be almost all together...
Love you Baby boy... you will live on forever in our hearts; but life, Holidays, and family will never be the same without you here.