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Monday, August 22, 2011

99 days

It has been 99 days since we came face to face with our sweet Reese, and also had to say goodbye.
Our hearts still hurt like they did 99 days ago. Somedays it feels like yesterday and other days it feels like an eternity. There is not a single day that goes by that we don't think about her multiple, multiple times. I wear a necklace everyday to remember her and Jimmy wears his watch with her initials engraved on it. But no matter what we wear, she is always with us, in our hearts, and minds and our spirit. I know thats so cliche to say, but she is ours and always will be.

I haven't known quite what to say the past 99 days to the sweet readers and prayer warriors. Many days, I haven't known what to say to our closest friends and family, that absolutely continue to show their love in so many ways. Our porch rarely has a week that isn't empty, we have gotten countless sweet emails and cards from folks still thinking of us and so many donations to the heart association we are just overwhelmed. We have had church services in memory of her, we have had flowers at the altar for her. But none of that seems to mend our hearts like we wish it would. The service the flowers were for Reese, they were gorgeous and stunning, but as you look to the altar each service, it was so hard to sit there & know those flowers were for our sweet girl. I was mad, sad, hurt, and honored all at the same time. It was so sweet and I am so thankful for all the services, tributes and many gestures made in her honor. They do warm our hearts.

I also haven't known what to say because its up and down as you can imagine. One sweet friend, that has walked this journey before me, told me, that I would have maybe 20 bad days and then 10 good ones, and then get to 10 bad ones and 25 good ones. I thought to myself, "no I'm going to press through this and try to hurt and then heal and move on" she couldn't have been more right and I couldn't have been more wrong. Days are hard, and some days are bearable, but there is no way to tell which ones will be which, thats the tough part. Some of them I scream and cry and my sweet, precious husband just holds me. Some days he's mad and I try to talk with him through it best I can. Some days we are just quiet and know whats on one another's hearts. I guess that is all a part of the grieving process. In July, we celebrated our anniversary and we decided to take a last minute trip. It was a great trip, but it was an awful reminder of why we had those vacation days left. We had planned on using them for maternity leave, not a trip for us. While it was good for us to get away and a last minute plan, it was still hard. No trip, no exotic island, nothing can heal us like we hope. We spent lots of time reading and watching sunsets. We spent time with one another alone, which provided some healing for us too.

We then had our due date (August 3rd) that entire week was flat out misery until the day passed. I was a total wreck, but thankfully, through much prayer and the amazing support of friends we waded through the rough waters. My girlfriends amaze me. I had texts that day, every hour, as if someone synchronized it. I hadn't even gotten out of bed when the first one went off. Precious, precious friends. We still get "thinking of you's" when we need them most. The best emails,cards or gestures always come at the time we need them most. The Lord hears our prayers.

So many of you, even strangers, have emailed me and I love emails, thank you. I don't have all the answers you ask though. When folks ask how we make it through this each day, I don't want to hide it, its hard. Very hard. Hard to see sweet little girl things we wish we were putting Reese in. Watching close and dear friends have precious babies, that we more than adore, but at the same time, makes our hearts long for our little one. There are reminders everywhere we turn, every single day. But there are also reminders of so much grace and love. Through our family, through our friends, through our prayers. We have blessings in abundance. We try so hard to focus on those. But the best way to explain how we get through each day is by a story close to my heart for several years now...

 I did a Beth Moore study years ago with some amazing women, who lived through trials I never thought I could face, and ironically this study focused on that. Beth said that we are given an amount of grace each day and my grace and your grace "amounts" are different, based on our need. There are times when I need more than the previous day and may need less tomorrow, but He gives us this grace according to what we need. You may need more today than I do, and vice versa tomorrow. He meets us where we are,each day. Beth goes on to use Exodus 16; God tells Moses that He is going to rain down food (manna) from heaven for him & the Israelites that are facing the "wilderness." He instructs that each day the people can go out and pick up as much food as they need for that day. A key part-notice He doesn't say enough for a few days, enough for the weekend, enough for a month, he says enough for that day. God goes on to test them, yet He supplies them when every need of theirs as long as they trust Him and obey Him. The Israelites were in a dark point at this time and they were encountering danger, they were weak and weary and they begged to the Lord for things to be easier. They desired for things to come about to where they could relax and not endure the suffering they were going through. Oh. how.we.can.relate. They had to then trust God and His ways to receive their needs. And that is where we place our trust these days. We pray for our manna each day (our daily bread) we know HE will meet us there, with just the right amount to get us through each and every day. One day at a time.

Some think is "nuts" we would do that when we're still so hurt He didn't heal our child, but that's when the grace appears that He promises, in our darkest days and nights. The grace comes  through love, through unexpected emails, through cards, through gestures, tributes and gifts from you all. From His word of promises, from song lyrics, from the peace you can't explain. Thats our daily bread, and that is the answer to your many questions on "how" do you get through this.I don't' have all the answers, how I wish I did but  I assure you, if you had told us we would face this trial (or any trial we have had in our lives) I would have told you I couldn't live through it. Just as I told the woman in our study 9 years ago, who had just lost her husband to her best friend after 25 years of marriage, and a woman also in the study who lost her college aged daughter in a terrible car accident, I told them then, I could not physically live through those trials. It's a wonder who God places in your lives, isn't it? Many of you email and say you couldn't make it, you just 'couldn't do what we're doing' but I promise you, when faced with it, your amount of grace from our Heavenly Father increases and your manna rains down on you like you can't imagine. And more than my promise of that, is His promise. I am here to tell you, you could and would walk through the wilderness just as we are doing. Is it hard? Beyond your wildest imagination, but is it bearable, yes, with the healing rain from the only one that can provide it. Does it make us perfect people or Christians by having this grace poured on us? Not in the least. We still question and we are still in the midst of great suffering, which in turn, plays out into our days, but we are determined to remain faithful even in the "trenches" as I call them until He himself, pulls us out.

We adhere to the story of Moses and the Israelites as we walk through our own desert right now. Begging for the suffering to be over, but all the while, being as honest as we can with the Lord, and trusting Him each day, that his manna will pour down on us. And it does, faithfully, every.single.day.

Thanks for sticking with us and by us, even in our lack of updates. Our hearts have so much to say, but our heads and bodies don't always have the energy to express them. We love you all and thank you for your continued love, support and prayers.

Love,
Jennifer & Jimmy