Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:7
Valentine's Day - 2020
To grieve deeply is from a love so deep on Valentine's Day and every other day. We were only granted 1 with Mazie. We would BEAR it all again to have the time we had with her. We BELIEVE in eternity and cling to a HOPE of Heaven. And we can only ENDURE trials and tragedies with the steadfast love and strength of our Heavenly Father.
My prayer for those who are grieving, hurting, lost or lonely is that you lean into the embrace of our Father. He cares for you and wants to tend to every wound and ounce of pain then turn into something beautiful.
Big brothers, Myles and Latson, with little sister, Gabrielle
I really can't believe it's already halfway through February and we made it through another bittersweet holiday season. Each year, we continue to be intentional with including and remembering our Mazie girl. Our traditions we incorporate certainly don’t lessen the pain or fill the void of her not being on this side of Heaven. This year was special as we celebrated Gabrielle’s first Christmas. We keep that time simple without committing to many activities and it was really nice that some family (my dad, mom and stepdad) came to spend extended time with us.
Our annual tradition of going to Asbury's Christmas Eve candlelight service
Being transparent and vulnerably honest, the new year brings on grief and depression in a heavy way. The first one after she went to Heaven was super hard, knowing we are going into a new year without Mazie. It feels like we are robbed of what is supposed to be – a painful reminder once again that our family and new memories that we make aren’t complete. That darkness comes the moment our family leaves to go back home and our house is more quiet come the first Monday morning.
And another layer that adds to this heartache is the fact that not many friends or even family reach out as much to acknowledge our grief or even Mazie. I wish that was an exaggeration but it’s not. We are barely over 2 years since the difficult anniversary and it feels as if most have moved on and/or expect us to. That’s why I keep pointing out that a very unexpected, sudden loss that goes into the natural order of death (ugh I despise that word) is extremely hard on us as parents, the siblings and grandparents too.
Now, this is where again I have to give thanks to God because He meets me right in that darkness. You see when I was in that pit I have spoken of often (it is a significant piece to my testimony of HIS STRENGTH when I had none), God knew exactly what my broken heart needed in that desperate moment of choosing to LIVE and going forward. I truly believe His gift of Gabrielle is His love and His redemption to give us JOY, HOPE and PURPOSE again. Her and Latson are with me during the weekdays this year and I cannot imagine how different it would be without them. Latson is homeschooling this year and it has been so sweet to witness Gabby brightening his days too, ALL OF OURS! They give me reasons to get out of bed and I have never been so thankful for noise and for fulfilling my role as their mom.
He also reminds me that there needs to be a time of mourning and to weep.
One thing I learned quickly, is that to continue being Mazie’s mother and ‘find my place for my love for her to go‘, is that even the emotional grief that comes from missing her HONORS that deep love and attachment that will never go away. It truly helps and is healing to set aside time to “go visit her”, write her letters, journal about our memories or our grief journey or work through our non-profit – Mazie’s Mission. SHE DESERVES THAT AND MORE!
It also helps me to just be still. I pray more. I dive into the Word and once again started reading the Bible in a year through a new plan called Bible Recap. I love it and highly recommend it! Doing anything else in this time and keeping myself busy steals the peace that comes from this intimate time with the Lord. Each year I need it more than ever. And something truly beautiful happens as a result. I hear the voice of God, His discernment and learn HIS way to heal. And then He mends my broken heart and answers our prayers. This year, I received a message that propelled me into this year with how He would use me in such a significant way.
Gather Women's Ministry event at First Baptist Lafayette
It was only a few days past Christmas and someone I had met around 8 or 9 years ago asked if I would consider speaking at a women’s ministry event at a church here in Lafayette. Without hesitation, I answered YES. I instantly knew this was part of the revelation I had a week after Mazie’s service when I felt the fire of the Holy Spirit like never before and God revealed to me that we were to bring PURPOSE TO OUR PAIN by sharing His light (Mazie’s too!) and love with others. Ever since that day, I have prayed over and over again for God to guide me in HOW that path may look. My mind with all of these intense emotions (the guilt, shock, emptiness, immense sadness and longing) has been far too cloudy to understand even what may be the next best step to take without HIS direction. After experiencing the devastation of child loss, I have chosen to surrender my ENTIRE LIFE to Him, only seeking His will and not my own.
Some of the sweetest supporters (my mom and precious friends)
at the event and over the last 2 years
The event would only be just shy of 3 weeks away. Every day I was nervous and every day I lifted up a prayer to ask God what HE would have me share so that anyone that may attend would hear HIM speak through me. I was not quite prepared for what He would wake me up with in the middle of the night, and several nights at that! Part of me thought, I may have a limited amount of time so the focus would be on Mazie. When I discovered that I may have up to an hour and a half, I knew there would be some uncovering and sharing more of my personal story as well. Around 3am one night, I woke up and immediately felt a whisper from God to go back to childhood. So much for going back to sleep that night! Some of the history and ‘old wounds’ that came up in my inner healing work, surfaced again. I knew He was wanting me to go back there. Day by day in my preparation from countless prayers to taking notes to creating the slideshow, He reminded me where He was in every piece of my story. This is why I chose to share a specific song towards the end and since worship music has been such an instrumental part of all our healing. We have so many favorites and lyrics often speak to our hearts in such a special way. I hope you'll give this one a listen!
God Is In This Story by Katie Nich
There were so many trials, feeling lost (losing myself) and dark times that took me further from His presence. His grace covers IT ALL – every betrayal, heartbreak, disappointment, wrong turn, sin and most recently a major storm that took me under. As I prayed over what He would have me share, including scripture, I felt so much comfort and peace knowing He was there to weather those storms with me. I just had to seek Him and trust Him. The Bible passage He put on my heart to refer to was Job. It wasn’t a coincidence that in my reading plan, this was the EXACT book during the week of the event. His story is so encouraging to me…look how God blessed Him!
We are certainly not exempt from storms in this life and all of us have or will endure one (or multiple). I don’t know what lies ahead for any of us. I don’t know what storms you have faced or that may be ahead. What I do know is that our loving Father gives us strength for the day, comfort for the tears, and light for the way.
While we are grateful and praise God for our blessings and for being with us as we weather this storm, it is still a battle to not stay in grief’s darkness. Many of us are familiar with the passage of Jesus being in the boat with the disciples, who were so fearful, and He calmed the storm. I don’t even want to think about where I would be without my faith and surrendering all my pain, my entire life, to Jesus. He is the captain of my boat. The author of my story, OUR stories. We just have to give Him the pen and walk in obedience to where He leads us.
This smile always melts me. Happy Valentine's Day in Heaven Mazie Leah! We love you!