Monday, April 11, 2016

Dear Abigail on your 8th birthday

Little Bit,

I don't blog much anymore.  It used to be therapeutic.  Now it is just painful.  It makes me go to those places in my soul that are still so raw and so painful.  The depths of the loss of you never eases, and it doesn't need to be repeated constantly to be true and all-encompassing.

The grief has become like an old acquaintance.  It's comfortable, familiar now.  It has lost the sharpness on the edges.  I know it, and it knows me.  I look for it, seek it out, rest in it even at times.  It keeps me close to you.  It reminds me of who you are and who I have become.  I never want the pain to cease, because it's my only connection to you for the current time.

6 years later, and I still think about you every day.  I still imagine what you would be like.  What your place in our family would be like.  8 years old is so different than 2.  I still think of you as my chubby, spunky baby.  I just can't wrap my brain around what an 8 year old you would be like.

We have kept you a part of our daily lives.  You are still integral to our family.  Your baby sister talks about you daily.  Eli misses you too.  In his core, he knows something important to his life is missing.  Those 5 weeks you loved him made an impact.  And Gracie and Malachi never met you, but they know you too.  They call you their sister, and they tell your stories like they are their own.

Samuel still bears the weight of your loss, and Anna Faith still cries for the lost time with you.  She still aches to sing and dance with you early in the morning, and he misses giggling at your bossing.  And Nathan, as he enters this new phase of his life, can't help but look back and process and long for lost time.  You were best buddies.  You were his pair.  And you have forever impacted us all.

We have tried to continue on and honor your legacy and your memory Little Bit.  We share your story any chance we have.  You are our inspiration.  But I would rather just have you back.  I would rather hold your little, chunky hand again, and listen to you count and sing songs badly at the top of your lungs.  I'd rather watch you pitch a fit or ride your pink scooter, or really, really enjoy chocolate.  Thank you as always for the gift of your 2 years.  We will never get over you or past the crushing feeling that this is just so wrong.  It still takes my breath away and make the blood go cold in my veins.  The trauma is still real and fresh and constant.  And the memories are still beautiful, precious, and far too few.

We love you Little Bit!


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Homeschooling and more

I adore homeschooling.  I really do.  I love being with my kids and living life with them.  I love the planning and paperwork.  Yes, we have hard days, but when you've lived through the loss of a child, "hard days" has a new meaning and a new context.  Anyway, I wanted to have a place to talk about and discuss and process and store my homeschooling plans and ideas.  Mostly I want this place for my own sanity.  When you are schooling 6 kids from high school down to preschool, and you have an infant, life gets a little chaotic.  I don't love chaos.  This will be a place I can logically sort through my own ideas.  But maybe others can gain something from my experience, trials, failures, and success.  And this place doesn't feel like the right place for that.  So I am starting another blog.  If you are  a homeschooler, follow me at myfavoritehomeschoolplans.blogspot.com.  If you have questions about homeschooling, post to them there and I will try to answer if I can or I will point you in the right directions with resources. 

We are doing a lot of changes in our homeschool world this year.  I am entering a phase in homeschooling that just feels too similar to our last year with Abigail.  A 1 year old at home, teaching a child to read, doing the ancient world and biology.  I had to change things up for my own sanity.  I have found some awesome new curriculum and researched a ton more. 

I have some posts in the works for this blog as well.  Updates on the kids.  Updates on grief at 3 years out.  Our struggles that are constant, some that are new, and some things that are easier than they were.  I have had many hard days this summer aching for my little bit.  It amazes me at times how that darkness can just sneak up on me and then body slam me when I least expect it.  The quiet pain is constant, but that overwhelming crushing weight seems to sit behind me just waiting till I'm off my guard.  In 3 years, I have learned how to avoid certain triggers, how to be intentional in grieving to give myself focus and at least the appearance of sanity, but grief is a nasty monster and he takes over when you least expect it.

Anyway, follow my other blog if you are interested.  If you know someone that has lost a child, please feel free to share this blog or email me directly.  I am honored to talk to anyone who needs support walking through the darkness of child loss. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Dear Abigail on your 5th birthday

Little Bit,

You would be 5 years old now.  I can't even wrap my brain around that.  I don't know how tall you would be or how long your hair would be.  I don't know how you would talk or what would make you smile.  I struggled even trying to make you a cake this year because I don't know what flavor you would choose or what your favorite color would be.  I made you pink brownies.  I imagine you would still love chocolate. 

I am struck this year on how much the world is missing out on not having you in it.  Your fire and passion would have made an impact.  In just 2 short years, you made such an impression on those you met.  Your dimples and your grin stuck in people's minds.  You weren't just one of the crowd.  You, my little one, were special. 

And you still are.  There is a huge, aching, gaping hole that you left. 

We still talk about you every single day.  You are always apart of our stories and our memories.  And the honest truth is I still fight the thought that you aren't here.  You SHOULD be.  You should be mothering Eli like I knew you would, and getting into Anna Faith's things, and yelling at Samuel for whatever was currently upsetting you.  You should be making me pull my hair out and grin at the same time.  You should be wrapping your daddy around your little finger and getting whatever you wanted with your spunkiness and persistence.  And you most definitely should be fighting and playing and loving Gracie and Malachi, and your new baby sister Mila.  It hurts so much that you aren't doing these things.

I know you will always be a part of us.  We will never forget you.  We will see you again.  But we want you here now.  And we always will.  Today I'm just frustrated.  And hurting.  But I'm determined to tell your story.  And remember you.  And to live my life with the same passion you lived yours.  You are my inspiration baby girl. 

I treasure each tiny memory of you.  I go over them in my head frequently--the images, thoughts, emotions, smiles.  I physically ache to hold you and smell you and kiss your little head, even after 3 long years.

I will continue to fight your fight baby girl.  I will fight for other children at risk--orphans fighting for survival, children in danger by vehicles.  You drive me to fight for them.  I have courage because you taught me how.

I love you my little bit.  Happy 5th birthday!

So I haven't been great about blogging the past year...

Dear long neglected blog,

I wanted to do a quick catch up on some of the things we have been busy with over the last year.  First in August, we welcomed Mila Love, and she has been pure joy for us.


Nathan worked on his eagle scout project.  We are so proud of his strength and bravery.  He honored his sister and tried to save other children at the same time.  Here is an article on his work.

Nathan's Eagle Scout project-in memory of Abigail

And Michael, Mila, and I travelled to DC to urge our government to issue a rear visibility standard.  The legislation requiring a new standard was signed by the president on 2008.  It passed unanimously with 80 co sponsors and bipartisan support.  The new standard was due out in 2011.  It is 2013 and this is unacceptable.  We bought plane tickets and joined a group of parents in DC on April 11, the 3rd anniversary of losing Abigail.  We interviewed with CNN, spoke to USA Today, participated in a press conference, and met with our senators and representative in their office.  We hope they do the right thing.  Keeping our children in danger because of bureaucracy is simply unacceptable.  With 50 kids hit each week, and 70,000 backover accidents having occurred since this bill was signed, we must do something now.  Blind zones of up to 50 feet behind vehicles is more than dangerous for all of us, but especially the elderly, the disabled, and children.  We must protect them, and ourselves.  We are at risk of causing one of these accidents every time we are behind the wheel because we simply can not see.  The cost of cameras is minimal.  It adds less than $100 to the cost of a new car.  We have done so much to protect passengers inside vehicles.  It is not time to protect those outside the vehicles.  We strongly encourage anyone reading this to contact your members of Congress in Washington today to urge them to make sure this rule comes out immediately and that it is effective in such a way to prevent these accidents.  34% of preventable fatalities in children are caused by backovers.  It is too late for Abigail, but many other lives will be saved because of this standard and rear view cameras on all vehicles.  Here is our interview at CNN and the article at USA Today. 

CNN interview

USA Today article

Sunday, June 3, 2012

One year ago today...

One year ago today, Gracie and Malachi started a new life. They left the orphanage for the last time. They began life as a daughter and son, brother and sister, grandchildren and cousins, for the first time. The old life will always be a part of who they are and their story. But we are so thankful they are also part of us now and our story. This past year has been a time of ups and downs. A time of learning, adjusting, and growing for us. A time of stretching and beautiful transformation in our hearts and theirs. Thank you Lord for the amazing gift these children are to our family. This past year hasn't always been easy for us or them. But I wouldn't change a thing. Then...
Now...

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Hope Project

I am so excited to be involved in setting up our non-profit in Abigail's memory finally. It has been a long time coming, but it feels great to be doing something actively helps others in her name. My spunky one wouldn't have waited until everything was perfect before jumping in with both feet, so I guess I can't either. So here goes...

As we went through the adoption process ourselves, it became so clear to us how important fundraising and networking are. There are so many small ministries out there involved in adoption and orphan care that it is hard to keep track. It is also so time-consuming for adoptive parents to track down the needed support and information when they are adjusting to life with their newly adopted children. And you all know how exhausting fundraising is. The Hope Project is our way to try to meet some of those needs. We plan to offer fundraising opportunites and grants for adopting families, as well as a central place they can come to find resources, support, and information through the paperwork process and early adjustments. We want this ministry to reach out to families adopting locally, internationally, special needs, not special needs, infants, older children, you get the picture. Not adopting? We are all called to care for the orphan, and the Hope Project will give you a central location to network with the various ministries around the globe doing just that. Our website will be a central location for you to go and find ways you can help and get involved, and also to help support adoptive families in your life.

I am thrilled about our first big event. In September, we are holding our first mom's retreat and conference at Camp Sumatanga, Alabama. Adoptive moms, future adoptive moms, support people, and even just women with a heart for orphan care will be encouraged, energized, and equipped at this event. We are planning a weekend of relaxation, education, and fun, with a range of speakers, break-out sessions, and ministries represented throughout the weekend. I can not wait. And we need your support. If The Hope Project is to succeed, we need you to help spread the word. We need to have our website all over the internet--facebook, twitter, you name it. Share and share again. You never know who might need to see it. We are praying that God blesses this ministry in abundance so that it in turn can bless the "least of these" world wide. Donations are accepted and much appreciated as we try to get off the ground. And so, after that lengthy introduction, I give you, The Hope Project...

www.adoptionhopeproject.org

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dear Abigail-2 years later

It's amazing how even 2 years later how much of a struggle this still is-life without you little bit. I've gotten better at pretending I'm functioning. When I meet new people, I don't immediately tell them about you like I used to. But that wears on me too. I always include you in my number of kids count and my run down of ages. When I get to 2 two year olds, I always get questions about twins. I just say no, I don't have any twins. Fake smiles and fake laughs are sometimes necessary to be socially acceptable. And functioning in society is necessary even when I still just want to bury my head. I still turn my head when someone calls your name. I am hopeful without even recognizing why. Celebrating your 4th birthday without you was excruciating. Easter, your bday, and the 11th all on top of each other was a trifecta of doom. We made it through clinging to each other. The void you left is just so huge my little one. You changed me and I'm forever thankful for that. I am a more patient person. I see the world differently. Sometimes that means I just don't care about things everyone else does. I don't know if that is a good thing or not, but it just is. Your spunk prepared me to deal with Grace's. I wish you were here learning about Grace and Malachi. I wish I could see you play with the E-i you love so much. I'm sure you would be chasing him now to give him the kisses you couldn't resist giving. And I desperately wish you were here to welcome your baby sister in September. You would be old enough to anticipate this time. Old enough to be excited. I promise to tell her all about you. You are still part of our everyday life and conversation. My heart just hurts without you my love. The grief is a constant ache, but sometimes it becomes a tsunami and I drown in its approach. There are no words for the panic and desperation that it leaves in its wake. I just miss you. And I need you. And I love you my little passionate little bit.

Father-carry me. There is none of me left. I am broken. Use me for your will. Bind my fears. Give me boldness. I need Your strength.