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Blessed Life!!!

Allow me to share with you….the past 24 hours in my life.

I’ll start with yesterday….

To almost everybody….it was a 3 day weekend and Labor day was just a fun time and a great day to be off work.

To me….it was going to be the first high school football game for my sweet boy!! To say I was excited….would be the understatement of the world!!! I didn’t realize just how excited I was, really, until after the game was over though…..

After he went early….sis and I did a “craft” project together. She had bought a HS team shirt to wear to her brother’s game and we “blinged” it out! It was fun sitting at the table with her coming up with the design.

Then, we got to the game! He had his own little fan section of family and friends there to watch! The game was awesome! It was a close, well played game. Our boys played hard! MY BOY played hard! He honestly played harder than I’ve ever seen him play! He was punched….and the way he reacted…made me proud! He told the kid….to play it out on the field…he wasn’t going to fight him…but he would kick his ass on the field! Reminded me of his brother….the way he walked away…..wouldn’t fight…but did the right thing. To say I was proud….man…doesn’t even begin to tell you how I felt. I got to see him make tackles like I’ve never seen before…..and just watching him….realizing this is HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL!!! I just can’t put into words…or properly describe all of the emotions going on in my head and my heart!

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Just a few from last night! Can I just tell you as he sat at dinner next to me…after the game….and talked and talked about the game…what the coaches told him….tears were welling up in my eyes. Sitting there…just listening to him go on and on….I was loving every minute of it. I love being his mom. I can’t tell you how much joy it brings me…knowing God trusted me again with another son….with Bryce….with my rainbow. He is such a light in my world…and to the world around him. I see great things within him….and the coolest thing right now…is I believe he is starting to see the potential in himself. I am just blessed to be along for the ride!

Then, after my boys fell asleep…..my sweet girl…my night owl…..just wasn’t tired at all. On the way home from dinner we saw some pretty cool lightning that I could tell was pretty far away……and she commented how pretty it was. So, both of us in our jammies…went into the back yard…and got on the swing and just sat there talking and enjoying the light show God was providing. What was really cool…is that if we looked straight up….we saw the prettiest of bright, shiny stars…but then if we looked north…the lightning was just as bright and beautiful. We sat……we swang……we talked…..we laughed. It was a beautiful night and it was a beautiful time with my girl. Just sitting out there enjoying the quiet…the beauty….and each other. I am amazed that after four boys….God gave me A GIRL! I joke about it a lot….but really….I’m totally in love with that little cutie. She is growing in to such a lovely young lady…and I am so proud of her. She has a heart that is totally sold out to Jesus. She struggles with normal stuff….but it is so easy to bring her back down because she really is grounded in wanting to be HIS girl. I tell her she has so much that I didn’t have at her age. I probably had more maturity and responsibility…but she has such an innocence and a thirst for God and His plan for her life….it really just leaves me speechless some times. So…after a great day….I got to end it with my girl. My daughter. My love. What a great day.

Then, I went to bed knowing they would be out of school and I’d be off work another day. But it wasn’t just any day…..

You see, I woke this morning…after such a great day with my two wonderful kids…..to …… another birthday. Today is Cory’s 28th birthday. I woke…thinking of the day he was born. I tried…..oh I tried so hard….to try to figure out where he might be today…what kind of life he would be living…and let me tell you something…..MY BOY would be LIVING LIFE to its FULLEST! That is just who he was! He enjoyed everything he did! He had such gusto! Such a love for life!

Cory was my dreamer…my actor…my singer! He was my clown…my sing when you are down…..He was my constantly smiling….always loving….sweet baby boy. For the life of me…I can’t imagine him as a man. He never got to hit the time like Bryce is now…where his voice changed and his body changed…. I know…with his features…his eyes….his sharp jaw line…that he would have made a very handsome man! But…I can’t quite see it in my mind…I can’t imagine it….not at all….

I spent his birthday making great memories with B & B! We had a great day together!

I know Cory would love his brother and sister….and I know he would have been in the stands last night cheering his brother on! I also know he would have loved sitting on the swing with us last night looking at the stars too! But…you know what…as sad as my momma’s heart has been today….and as many tears that I’ve shed today…and so many other days…..

I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that my Cory….and Cody and Caleb too….WERE in those stands with me….and WERE sitting on the swing with us….and they ARE with me….every day! They will forever hold pieces of my momma heart that nobody else can have. They will continue to live in the way I live…in the lives of my children now…because they are a part of me….a part of US! And most importantly…..the ministry of their lives will forever be continued…..as long as I live….and as long as their story is shared.

All of my children…all five of them….are leaving a legacy that I am so proud of. They are leading and loving others…they are being disciples….now and always. To say I have a blessed life…is an understatement. I’m blessed…because I “get” to be the mom of five absolutely amazing kiddos. They all hold my heart….and forever will. I will spend the rest of my days…trying to live MY life..in a way that would make each of them proud to say…..yup….that’s MY mom!

Happy Birthday, sweet Cory. Thanks for all the smiles….the lessons…the laughs and songs! I miss you…more than I ever thought possible… But I’m so thankful for the promise of eternity with you! To hold you again…..makes me long for that time to come soon. But…until then..I’ll go on enjoying your brother and sister…and trying to live up to the mom I think you’d want me to be!

Forever in my heart…~momma

Today is the first day of school for my kiddos!! My heart is bursting because I am so proud of who each of my kids has become….and grown over the summer!

But….I have to be honest…..my heart is also just raw and I can’t stop crying. It hurts still…….even though my older boys would be in their upper 20s by now…..it’s just so unfinished….so unfair…..it just still hurts.

Today is Breanna’s first day of sixth grade!! Here she is….all beautiful, sassy….and ready to tackle whatever God sends her this year.

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Yesterday we were blessed with some girl time…just the two of us….shopping, pedicures….and some very sweet conversations. Conversations of what we think God is asking and expecting from each of us in this coming year. My heart is bursting with love and admiration for this sweet young lady. She is kind, loving, fun-loving and so wonderful to be around!! I have such admiration for her because she is so much more than I was at her age….. her relationship with Christ truly guides her heart. She is open to what He is telling her and who she is becoming in and through Him.

Today is Bryce’s first day of high school! HIGH SCHOOL!!!??? When did this happen???? I think it would be so much harder on this mom if he weren’t so stinking excited for new opportunities this year! Here he is from this morning…

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I’ve totally enjoyed watching the evolution of my son over the past few months. He has grown…physically, emotionally and spiritually! To say, I’m proud of him, just doesn’t quite give you the whole picture! Physically, he has grown several inches….still growing…and he has lost A LOT of weight! I’m so proud of the hard work he put in to accomplish his goals! Emotionally, I can tell such a difference in him. The sweet heart he has always had, seems to be even more evident in our conversations…as is the maturity he is gaining. Spiritually, he attended three church camps over the summer….and I’ve seen his desire to be an ambassador for Christ in his school and in the locker room increase tremendously! I can’t even begin to tell you how proud I am of this young man. I am thoroughly enjoying this stage of his life and relishing in the talks we have!

I really thought I was doing good this year. I really thought I’d made it through and wasn’t going to go through some of my usual difficulties at the first of the school year. We got up this morning, made some cinnamon rolls and I took him to drop him off. I was really good through it all. But when he opened the door and got out of the car it hit me…..like a ton of bricks. My eyes started leaking immediately. I didn’t snap a picture of him walking into the school…because a picture just wouldn’t show what my view was. I didn’t just see him walking into that school building today……I saw four boys………I can’t begin to explain it. I saw Bryce……but I could see his brothers too…and I lost it. I totally lost it.

Then I had to drive home and finish getting sis ready. She was dressed and beautiful already when I walked in the door. Before I walked in, I dried my tears so she wouldn’t know…..and greeted her with a smile. I was happy to hear she still wanted my help with her hair. When we got to the school she went straight over to her friends….I was taking pics! :) She did walk with us to her class…..but was horrified when I asked for a pic of her and her teacher….she obliged…but then was ready for us to be gone! It was pretty cute really. I could feel her tugging a bit….yearning for us to let out the parental rope just a little more. My baby is growing up…..and becoming more independent. I walked out the school…….knowing it was the last “first day” of elementary school for me……..

I had appointments and lunch with a friend…but now that I’m home with my thoughts……I have to be honest…..My heart is happy….and hurting….all at the same time.

Today my last child….my baby, started sixth grade and is eleven years old…..and her oldest brother….I can still remember that first day…….when he was starting sixth grade and was eleven………….. That was it. It was his last “first day” ever. Believe me…..I don’t compare my kids now to their brothers…..but my heart aches for the realization of what they missed out on……..for those sweet boys not to get to experience some of the things their brother and sister are getting to experience. It just hurts my heart….even though Cody would be almost 30 years old now……..this beginning of school thing…the ache…the sting….just hasn’t gone away. He is forever in sixth grade and eleven years old to me. And soon….his baby sister will be past that! It’s a very difficult thing,that I believe, only those who have experienced the loss of a child will understand!

And today….my son walked into high school. I have four years to prepare to release him into the world as an adult. I absolutely love him…..love this season…but it too reminds me of the other boys that should have been “Jaguars”! At one appointment I had this morning right after I took the kids to school, one of the ladies there greeted me and asked how my day was……I told her I had taken one of my babies to high school and it was hard!! She said, try having a child that is getting ready to turn 29!! I told her…I know…kinda…my oldest WOULD BE 29!!
But I haven’t gotten to experience his life as those birthdays flew by…………I know she didn’t mean anything by it at all…but it’s my reality. And some days, like today, it’s just a difficult reality that is just really hard to put into words. It’s very hard to paint the picture of just how happy my heart is today….how proud I am of Bryce and Breanna…..but at the same time…..how terribly sad I am and how much my heart aches for Cody, Cory and Caleb.

Thanks for letting me try……

I’ve said it before…and I will say it again…hug your babies. Love on them and enjoy who they are TODAY! Don’t wish they were still young…..don’t wish they’d hurry up and grow up. We aren’t promised tomorrows…….so take a deep breath….and enjoy today. That’s what I’m going to do….

~cheli

I don’t even know where to begin!!

First, I MUST say thank you to all of you! Thank you for the words of encouragement! Thank you for sharing with others! Thank you for watching the show with me! Thank you for allowing me to open up my home and share with you and your friends and family!!! I love each one of you…and thanks just isn’t enough for all you’ve each done for me! Your words of encouragement mean more to me than I can adequately express!

Now….. I must say..the last week has been an emotional whirlwind! The actual show and seeing that video always brings back so many emotions. To say it is hard to watch, is a little bit of and understatement….to say the least. The part where they show one of the boys being wheeled out of the house is so hard. I remember being on that first show and seeing that video for the first time! (remember…it was a surprise….so I had no clue!) I remember when it got to that point I looked at Oprah and said I had never seen that before and didn’t know if I could go on…..she quickly grabbed my hand and turned me around and I didn’t see the rest of the video…just heard it….. You see….my family didn’t allow me to watch television for over two weeks after they died. I had asked my family to not speak to any media and had absolutely no idea that the story had made national news. So…all those images….were some I’d never seen or imagined.

Then, my dad had sent Oprah the video of the boys…….the part with them at SeaWorld and to see them waving to me…..every time…it just grabs my heart and makes me stop breathing…for just a moment. Seeing that….is always hard.

But then came the update part. I have to be honest….this was where I was holding my breath. It is hard to give someone else control of my story…..and that is what I did. I did the skype interview…and talked with them for almost an hour. Then…we sent lots of videos and pictures and from there……it was all the producers and production crew at HARPO. They were totally in charge of how the update would go and what it would portray.

I must say……I WAS THRILLED! I was so happy with the way it was put together and how respectful they were of my story. All of my fears were gone and thankfulness set in! I couldn’t have asked for a better segment!! What a blessing the HARPO staff is to me and my family! I am so thankful for each one that I came into contact with….and for the ones behind the scenes who helped!

You can view the first part of the segment here.

The second part with the update is here.

Now…..although this was not my first Oprah appearance…..this WAS the first time I’ve done an Oprah show with Social Media going on!

What a crazy thing!

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I was having a Twitter party with the producers of the show…leading up to and during the show! I had my iPad on my lap and my phone at my side! Before, during and after my segment…..each of my devices was beeping and dinging at a rate I just couldn’t keep up with! I’d attend to one…and come back to the other and there would be over 80 new items to review!

Facebook….Twitter…..my texts…..all were going off! And, I’m so thankful that every single word was extremely encouraging to me! I don’t think everybody realizes how much I am encouraged by others… When I feel down or like I am stepping out too much….I see all of the sweet encouragement you have given me and I am reminded that I am an ambassador for His Kingdom and am just doing what He has asked of me!

Finding out Tuesday evening that the story was on the Huffington Post main page….literally knocked the wind out of me. I received a message from a friend who told me it had come across her feed….sure enough….there it was! As of now…..there are 2.9k Likes….and 376 shares on this story! I am totally blown away! Talk about humbling! You can see it here!

But I want you to know what I see from this…… I see people that are craving happy endings! I see people who want and NEED hope in their lives! I see that the message God has given me to share….is just that! It is HIS story! His HOPE! That is what people need….and that is exactly what I’m here to do!

Then…Thursday afternoon…I received a message on facebook from someone who had seen my story on a mutual friend’s page…and she wanted me to give her a call to do a “local” update! I called my family to see if they were up for it…and they agreed! So we did a whirlwind interview with the reporter and her wonderful camerawoman…..and then sent out messages for our friends and family to watch the 10:00 news that night!

Again, I have to thank the reporter and her crew for their fabulous editing…..in less than 2 hours I might add….and the way they respectfully put together my story! Again….I couldn’t have been more thrilled with the way she told my update while leaving the emphasis on Christ….instead of me!

You can see the news interview here.

But…..to me…the most amazing thing about this past week….are the messages and private messages I’ve received. From people finding hope from hearing my story….to others wanting to start sharing their own trials, tragedies and triumphs…because they’ve realized God can take them and use them for good…. Those are the moments I’m going to cherish forever. I’m printing each message….and using them as my own messages of hope. So again, I thank each of you for reaching out and touching my life in such a positive and encouraging way.

As always…I am asking you to pray. Please pray for myself and the wisdom to know what my next step is. Yes…I’ve revved up the writing process and kicking myself for not having more done….but all in His time. Please pray for God to open doors of opportunity for me to share and for me to continue to be strengthened by Him in order to share.

Please pray for my family. In less than a week they’ve been the focus of two news segments and this is new to them. I have felt God holding me back from taking this message to the world…and I have believed it was to protect my children. They were so young and didn’t know the whole truth when I began to share. They are still young, but I believe God has prepared them for what is ahead…and I truly believe their part in His story…could very well be bigger than mine!

Please pray for my sweet husband and our marriage. He is my safe place…the one I take all my emotions to and the one who comforts me. Yes….God is my Father…but He gave me my husband to feel the presence of His arms around me! My husband is so good at this….he comforts, cries with me, encourages and strengthens me continually! Please pray his cup is filled to overflowing for all he has to endure with me! I’ve told him….I’ll never be “normal”…..and he chose me anyway! :)

But mostly….pray for this message. Join me in praying Ephesians 6:19-20
“Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.” Pray that I boldly enter into the arena God is preparing for me and walk through the doors He is opening!

Friends~ we all have a story. Remember….it’s your part of His story. He is the author…but you choose some of the chapters. Your story….just might….be the hope and change….someone else’s story needs. It takes many parts…to create the whole! He has made you……and given you purpose! Step into it! It is freeing to know you have a purpose….and living it out……is ……well…..try it. :)

Many blessings! ~c

BIG NEWS!!!

Okay!! Okay!!

So…maybe I’ve been toying with a few of my friends…..telling them I have big news but not quite spilling the beans! It’s been kinda fun….I have to admit! And I’ve loved all the guesses!

Before I spill the beans….I do want to turn your attention to something a bit more serious.

On my way to work this morning I heard about the family in Texas where the mother, father, two boys and two girls were murdered and only the 15 year old daughter survived. She was so brave….and even in her own suffering and through her own injuries…she was able to dial 911 and identify the attacker so that police could catch him before he went and killed more of her family members.

So now, as she is fighting for her life and recovery….she will have to start the process of redefining what her life is and her new “normal”. She will forever have a date in her life that is before….and after. A date that to some….will define her.

My prayer is that she will cling to the One who held her and her family during that very day and trust that she is still here to fulfill a purpose for His Kingdom! I pray that she doesn’t go through “survivor’s guilt” and that she is surrounded by people that will allow her to heal emotionally as well as physically….in her own way….and in her own time.

I know these feelings. The before and after. The feeling that my life, being National news for a while….was not my own any more. I pray for space for this girl. Space to grow up and to make her own choices. Once your story goes public….it’s as if the public feels they have a say in your life….a say in who you are or even in how you’ve responded to the tragedy that put you into their news in the first place!

Let me tell you….this is NOT an easy place to be. When your life is exposed to the public….it’s as if people think that since they know a part of your story…that they know you! This isn’t true! Partly because what you see isn’t always the whole story. You don’t see the emotions and everything that has truly happened. I pray…..I sincerely pray….that this girl is given her privacy as she grieves and mourns her family.

I went to work in silence. I turned off the radio and just prayed. It brought back a flood of memories. I asked my family NOT to speak to the media after the boys died. And my family and friends respected my wishes. I was given a police liason and was told national shows like Geraldo and others were calling….and I didn’t respond to any of them.

But then, the Oprah show came along.

The first show I did was such a surprise. It wasn’t like they were calling me and doing a show on my story….it was a contest. One that THOUSANDS entered. I thought….NO WAY…..but then it happened.

Then, when they found out I had remarried and was going to use the trip Oprah gave me as my honeymoon….I went and did another show. This one was more low key……….. and really not as big a deal.

But then I got the call to do the third show. The premise was to help someone who had been through a similar tragedy. Their hope was that since I was farther down the road…that I would be able to help. Instead of the “textbook” answers, they wanted to provide hope from a “survivor”….so I did the show again. The show was title, “The Worst Day of My Life”. It was difficult…but my thought process was that if I could help someone….then that is exactly what I felt I was supposed to do.

I REALLY would rather just live in my house with my sweet family and be a mom and a wife and live as “normal” a life as I can….

But God has shown me…that those aren’t His plans for me. He has been revealing that to me in a mighty way over the past several months.

So….here is my news!

In case you haven’t figured it out…..I’ve done ANOTHER Oprah show!!!!

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The Oprah Winfrey Network has a show titled, “Where Are They Now?” and I was asked to be a part of this show. I just received confirmation today that the show will air on OWN (the Oprah Winfrey Network) on Sunday evening, July 20th!

This has really not been easy for me. Please join me in prayer that God will use this update to speak to people that don’t feel like they can make it through whatever they may be going through……and give them some hope!
That….truly…is the reason I agreed to open my life….my family…up to this in the first place.

This will be the first show you will hear from my ENTIRE family. My sweet husband, son and daughter will get to be a part of this show and I’m so proud of each of them for stepping up and doing this with me! I can’t even begin to share with you how much they each mean to me!

Please just be in prayer with me that God will use this show to give someone out there hope. Pray that if this be His time, that this could be the catalyst of someone becoming interested in having me speak and for me to gain more of a larger voice that could help spread the love and hope in our Lord and His Kingdom!

Pray that by opening up my family to the public again…that we be protected from the difficulties that can sometimes cause and the protective hands of Christ be over our household.

But mostly…..just pray that others will see Christ through me…in me….and want what I’ve had…through Him!

Much love to you all……
May you step outside your comfort zone to glorify His kingdom and be blessed by so many friends….just as you’ve each….blessed me!!
~c

Yes…you read that right….I’m the mom of a 29 year old boy!

It’s hard to believe that it has been 29 years since Cody came into my life! He was born with brown eyes…and they continued to show me love for the entire 11 years he spent on this earth with me! They could definitely melt this momma’s heart.

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When I looked at this picture I just sobbed because I miss these eyes….and that smile…more than words can describe.

There are so many things that are spinning through my head about this birthday……

You see…..

Today my oldest would turn 29…….
I was 29 when I lost him.

Today was Bryce & Breanna’s last day of school…….
Cody was born on the last day of my junior year.

Cody was 11 and in sixth grade when he died…….
Breanna is 11 and getting ready to start her sixth grade year.

Cody…..my oldest….
Breanna….my youngest.

So many other things fill my thoughts and swirl around in my head. Sometimes it is hard to be still…and be quiet…because of where my mind will take me.

But I must remember what a blessed momma I’ve been! The past 29 years….have been filled with joy and sorrow! Being a mom has been the easiest and hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. But definitely ….. it has all been worth it.

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I remember so vividly the day Cody was born! I remember the feeling of being a mom on that first day! I remember the way he looked up at me…..and how he stole my heart. I was such a baby still myself, but I knew I would always love and protect him.

Protect him……..but I didn’t. I wasn’t there. I wasn’t able to stop what happened….and for that….I’ve had to work really hard to overcome my “survivor’s guilt”
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Just because I wasn’t there that day…doesn’t mean it might not have happened on a different date. And even if I had been there….doesn’t mean I could have stopped it. That …… has been hard. It still jumps up and tries to grab me….tries to make me feel guilty…..but…that is the enemy fighting against me and the plan God has to continue my life……to continue my purpose.

Cody and I had such a special bond. We talked…..so much. This part of him reminds me of Bryce. Cody was very protective of me….as is Bryce. He loved my fiercely…..as does Bryce. He just had a way with people. A way to put them at ease with what was going on around them. When he would smile at you with that big grin…..oh GOD HOW I MISS THAT SMILE!!!!! He would light up any room just with his smile and his attitude.

What I want people to do now…..in remembrance of my sweet baby……is to be real with the people around them! If someone’s smile lights up the room….and makes your day just a bit brighter…tell them! If you respect someone who walks away when things get difficult instead of fighting or being a part of drama….tell them! Or even better…walk away with them! If someone impacts your life…just tell them.

The reason I say all of this is because when Cody and I would talk….he would tell me how he felt so alone. He would say he didn’t have any friends because he was “different”. He thought others made fun of him for being different. But……after he died…..almost ALL of his friends wrote me and told me how much they admired him for walking away from a fight. They told me about his smile…and how he was friends with EVERYONE! I remember crying in the hallway outside his room the night he shared with me about how he was hurt. I cried because I didn’t want my baby to hurt…..but also because I was SO PROUD of him for being different! I wish he had known the impact he made on the lives around him. I want him to know how proud it made me to read those letters…and how sad I was that he felt so alone…when really…he wasn’t.

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I know….without a doubt…..Cody was different because he loved Jesus! He loved his friends and wanted them to know about Christ and the sacrifice He made for them. He invited his friends to church and to church camp. I often wonder if he would have been a missionary of some kind. He was so kind, so gentle….so caring. He would have truly been a blessing to anyone he came in contact with.

But you know what I’ve realized…..?

My son IS a missionary. He IS changing peoples’ lives. He IS still caring about others.

HOW? you might ask…… Because I’m his momma….and I know that God left me here to fulfill a purpose. Part of that purpose is to share about Cody and his brothers. He wants me to share about their life…and their deaths. He wants me to share about how He has carried me through all the ups and downs of the past 29 years….and how much He has loved me during this time.

Cody’s mission work continues in and through me! But without him…..I wouldn’t be doing it. Without HIM….I wouldn’t be strong enough. Without the story of Cody…..making me a mom…..and then living such a beautiful….but short life…..I wouldn’t be on the mission field that I am on now. So once again…..I’m thankful for him….and that I “get”….to be his mom.

I miss Cody Brian…..more than my words can express. That part of my heart that he stole….29 years ago this afternoon….at 2:55 pm….he took with him to heaven. My heart won’t be whole….until I see him…..and his brothers again. So glad my eternity will be with him. So glad…God chose me to be his mom.

Cody….you continue to make me better. You continue to push me….to try to make you proud of me. I will…until I see you again…continue the mission of showing others how much they are loved…and how good life can be!

Until we meet again….and our eternity will be together! Loving you!
~momma

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I have been dreading this day for a while now. I can’t believe it has been seventeen years since my sweet boys were on this earth.

I knew this year would be hard. This year, it wasn’t just about the dates and all the memories……it is also the same days. It happened on a Saturday…..so all the days leading up to today…..the memories have been so real and so raw. For almost a week now I haven’t had more than two hours of sleep per night because I just haven’t been able to shut off my mind. The memories of the places we went, the conversations we had and the events of the week leading up to today…are as real as if they happened last week.

Usually on this day, by now, I’ve had some alone time. Time to just allow my thoughts to come flooding to my mind and to just break. But I usually wait until I am alone and my family is out the door. It is usually mid morning and I’ve blogged my raw emotions and just allowed myself to have that time to feel everything. But today has been different…..because my family has been home. I’ve still allowed myself to feel it…but today has been a bit different.

Instead of one big break down…I’ve had many.

Any time someone asks how I am…the tears come.
Any time someone gives me a hug….the tears come.
My sweet hubs and boy are the most in tune to it and the hugs and kisses have been MANY!

The emotions still feel so raw. It still feels so unreal.

I’ve melted into my husband’s embrace and just broken. Silent sobs…..thinking…remembering. As I laid my head across his chest….I could hear his heartbeat. How I wished my children’s hearts were still beating…….As I thanked God for my blessings now…..I kept thinking of my blessings that aren’t here……

My two worlds collided in a big way today.

As I mourned and missed my children that are no longer with me….I had my husband and children surrounding me with love and compassion.

Today I allowed myself to do some things that I haven’t done before on an anniversary like this.

I asked my husband to lay a towel across the foot of my bed and place a trunk I have in my room on top of it. In this trunk are treasures I turn to when I need lifting up…..

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This is what surrounded me.

I have every card, every note, every picture drawn, every floral card, every trinket I was given after my boys died. I even have several small scrolls of paper that the children of their school had written to put inside balloons and send to heaven. There were so many notes, the balloons were too weighted down and so I have what wouldn’t fit.

So, Bryan and I sat in my bed and read all of it. It took hours. We had a box of Kleenex in between us because we both cried multiple times as we read the sweet notes. Bryce joined us for some of it…..

What I love the most are the notes from the kids. They are so real and so pure. They shared what they loved about the boys….stories about them….the things they liked most about each one. They tried so hard to say what they could to cheer me up. I even have phone numbers and addresses in case I needed anything… One was even so kind as to share the phone number and info to her own counselor……in case I needed someone to talk to! They were precious. There were prayers and scripture. I just love how raw and real they were.

I remember being so angry at the time it happened that such small children had to deal with such a hard situation in losing a friend. It was so senseless.

What today helped me realize….as I read all of these….is how loved my boys were! Not just by me….but by so many!! I know this…..but this helped remind me today. One note said he didn’t know my boys…but by the number of kids who were so sad….he knows he wished he had known them!

They spoke of their smiles……of their abilities in sports and school…… But mostly…they all seemed to talk about what good friends each of them were and how they loved The Lord and were good examples of His love to others.

It’s the notes of these children…that I loved. I appreciated the love from everyone. I was amazed at the number of cards there were. So many from people I didn’t even know…who assured me they were praying for me.

Just like today…the notes from family and friends….that they loved me and were praying. Today…..as so many other days….I’ve felt those prayers. I’ve needed them and I’m so thankful for them. I’m really not so strong.

Thank you for remembering with me. It has been a blessing…the posts and texts…..that others remember and will never forget. Obviously…I won’t. But I can’t tell you how it does this momma’s heart to know how many of you haven’t either!!!

Tonight…the other thing I did…for the first time in years….was to find the old tapes of the boys….and watch them with my family.

I got to sit and watch each of my boys playing soccer! I got to watch a musical and hear my sweet Cory sing his solo!!

I can’t even begin to tell you how it felt to see them….to watch them and their smiles tonight. It felt so real all over again. It felt so good to see them smile and to wave and to be able to share that with their brother and sister. Bryce asked who he was built most like. Breanna asked if she got her singing from Cory. It was wonderful and terrible and miserably sad all at the same time! I relished seeing them….but at the same time…my heart wrenched because it had been so long since I’ve seen those beautiful big eyes and smiles!

Then as I broke out the next tape…..it was of my sweet husband’s birthday and when I shared that I was expecting my rainbow…Bryce. Then there were more of Bryce and Breanna while they were little…… It was as if God was showing me that my life has gone on and I have been happy!

Today…my two worlds have collided again. The pain in my heart feels like it will choke out my last breath….but the joy in my heart ……..it opens my heart back up and allows it to continue again!

I want to share with you some of the sweet notes I found today.

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These are a few of the sweet notes that were going into the balloons!

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All of these are so precious to me. There are so many ….. so I’ve decided to take pictures of every one of these….and put them into a book!

But nothing is as precious…as the simple fact….that I was blessed…to be the mom….to three of the most amazing boys on this earth!
Cody…..in your 11 years you made people smile and feel good about themselves. You preached Jesus by your actions, not just your words!
Cory….in your 10 years you smiled and laughed with everyone. You sang your heart out any time anyone would listen! You believed in yourself. You lived out your faith daily and were a great friend to all!
Caleb…..You smiled always! You found everything fascinating and had such a fabulous way of looking at the world. In your short 8 years, you taught me and others more about life than I could have learned without you in my entire life time!

I cannot even express the hurt I feel right now. I am kind of numb……realizing that I have lived for so long without them. My mommy’s heart is broken…..in a way that will never heal.

I saw that after many posted on my facebook that they were thinking about me…..several seemed to think it was my birthday and wished me a Happy Birthday. I told a friend..in some ways it is one of my birthdays….it was my birthday of a whole different life. I feel like, on this day seventeen years ago….I lost everything. I felt like my world was ending and I couldn’t imagine my life continuing without my children.

But God showed me that my life….was His life. He showed me that HE was writing the story of my life …and HE wasn’t finished with me yet. So for the past seventeen years, I’ve allowed Him to be the author of my blank pages. I can’t say I like everything He has put in it……but I do trust Him.

I have many chapters left and can’t wait to see how He is glorified. You see…..in and through all of this. …. He has been my constant and my sustainer. He is my strength and who I cling to. I cling to His promise that my days here will seem like a mist…..and my eternity will be with Him and my boys!

Cody, Cory and Caleb…..I can’t wait for that day to come!! I will finish the race He has set before me…. But to be honest….I can’t wait to see you ….at the finish line!

Love to you my sweet babies! ~momma

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Today is the one year anniversary of the school shooting in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. Today is a brutal reminder that one year has passed since the innocent lives were taken from their families. Today is the reminder to each family and friend that they have lived every season, every month, every week, every day of a full year without their loved ones in their lives and here on this earth with them.

Join me in prayer for these families. Join me….because even though most people like to think and are even so brazen to say that the first year is the hardest…and after the first year…things will start to get better…….that just isn’t quite true.

For a family that has lost a child…..the first year is obviously difficult. It is filled with all the “firsts”.…the “first” holiday without your child….the “first” birthday without your child….the
first” beginning of school without your child….the “first” last day of school without your child.

But what makes it difficult….is for that first year….you can still imagine your child……just the way they were…the things they liked…the friends they would play with….the sports they liked to play….the foods they enjoyed. You can even imagine how they looked….how they wore their hair and how their voice sounded. You could imagine all of those “firsts” fairly easily…as if they would still be there……You could see them and hear them…..still……………..

Each year after that “first“…..it gets a little bit harder. After several years….you wonder….what their interests would be……what friends they would still have……what activities they would be enjoying…….how would they be styling their hair…..how would they be changing….how……would they sound……

Then……many years past that….when their classmates are going to their high school proms….you wouldn’t even know if they would have wanted to go……who they might have gone with……what they would want to wear….how they would want to arrive…limo or car…any of it…..because you would never know them even close to that age….

I say this because I want you to realize…..that the families who lost their children and loved ones still need our prayers. They will need them for the rest of their lives. I’ve come to realize there is no such thing as “closure” when you lose a loved one….. or as the grief cycle being done. It is a never ending process that only ends when we join our children in eternity.

I also ask that you allow these families to be happy. I think it is wonderful that we see them smiling and laughing with their families in some of the clips I’ve seen. Don’t think that just because they have gone through something so devastating that they don’t deserve to smile again. Don’t look at their lives now and wonder how they could be so happy after, what you consider, is such a short time after they lost their loved one!

They can be happy again! God is that good! They can choose to continue living their life…all while remembering their loved ones they lost. Losing someone tragically….doesn’t mean you can’t go on…it doesn’t mean you aren’t able to continue.

That is the awesome thing about our lives…. NO MATTER WHAT is going on……WE CHOOSE! We choose if we continue to get up…to continue to live! We choose if we are going to be all consumed by sadness or to feel it and then move on…..past it..

No…it doesn’t mean it is easy! Quite the opposite! It is hard! Very hard. Knock-the-breath-out-of-you hard! But it can be done. You just have to decide if you are willing to do it!

When God gave us free will….He gave us power. Power to choose! WE CHOOSE EVERYTHING!

NO……we may not get to choose what happens TO us…..but WE CHOOSE how we react. WE CHOOSE how we allow it to make us feel. WE CHOOSE what we do next.

Just because bad has been done TO us….doesn’t make it okay for us to make more bad choices!

WE HAVE POWER!! No person…..no situation …..NO ANYTHING has any power over us….EXCEPT the power WE give it!!!

So choose……CHOOSE YOU! CHOOSE to be weird and choose the good out of EVERY situation!

I can say….after EVERYTHING I have been through……There is ALWAYS a silver lining….you just have to look for it!

Maybe that seems weird to you……maybe you think it is very uncaring for me to say there has to be a silver lining in everything…..like in the Sandy Hook shootings….but it is there. Good WILL overcome evil……..the Light will shine through ANY darkness…..but sometimes….MOST of the time….it is US….who has to find it!

May you see the LIGHT in everything and CHOOSE the POWER God has given you!
My vote…..is on anyone who makes this choice!
Blessings and prayers! ~c

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