Capture Your Grief, Day 31: Sunset

July 25, 2015 | Road Trip | Unknown, Texas

Day 31: Sunset

I began this project with a sunrise, remembering that scripture promises new mercies every day, joy with each morning, and a promise of a new beginning every day. Throughout the 'day' of this project I have followed a regiment of what I've taken to calling 'guided vulnerability' and have experienced community and healing from it; and as the sun sets on this 'day', this month, I am reminded of the verse by the psalmist that proclaims "From the rising of the sun to its setting The name of the LORD is to be praised." (Psalm 113:3).


Capture Your Grief, Day 30: Reflection

Capture Your Grief | Sarah Robinson | 2015

Day 30: Reflection

Today is the day that I'm supposed to look back on the last month and reflect on all that it entailed. This month has been difficult for me and in a lot of ways has caused me to confront my emotions for better or worse. It has opened wounds in some areas and highlighted apathy in others. In certain cases it has shown me that I'm still not okay even though I expected to be; and that's hard to accept, hard to understand...hard to stomach and move forward from.


Capture Your Grief, Day 29: What Heals You

February 10, 2015 | Home | Longview, Texas

Day 29: What Heals You

To be honest, this post has stumped me. Not because I don't know what the answer should be, but because I really do feel like I'm still in the middle of believing it and letting it happen. The process of trying to start a family that began with our losses is still in full swing; every test and appointment and prescription remind me that we're still a part of this chase - planning not doing, dreaming not seeing. And we're having to learn that it's allright, it's all a part of this process for us. Much of the healing that took place this year had a lot to do with accepting the story God was writing for us and releasing the expectations and plans we had for ourselves; and I can say through his grace, our prayers and the prayers of our family and friends, where we were once distraught and blinded we do feel put back together in many ways - not every day, but most, and that's progress...that's healing. It's taken all of this year to make that happen. For me personally it's been the time together with friends both in conversation and in silence, the long walks with Justin, the snuggles with Piper, the reassurance of forums and the community of women who have gained and lossed pregnancies in similar ways to myself. It's been those I know who have traveled this road of grief longer and farther than I could ever imagine sharing their pain and loss with me while graciously validating my own. It's been the light that catches perfectly in the leaves, the soft click of my camera, the nurses who remember my name, the cup of tea by the fire, the perfect pen to journal with...the small things, truly. Each little moment like bricks laid next to each other one by one that have paved a road towards healing and towards the future God has for us. And so it will continue...As we look down and stare at each brick while we place it next to the last it's been hard to really get a hold on where we're headed, but we can stand up and turn around to see the road we've traveled. To know where we are and see where we've been is how we are able to praise God for his provision and his comfort, it's how we are able to thank him for each stone as we place them, and how we are able to have faith that he will direct us as we put them down.

Capture Your Grief, Day 28: Reach Out

October 27, 2015 | Home | Longview, Texas

Day 28: Reach Out

This whole month has been a process of reaching out for me, starting with our initial blog post in September for anyone who was willing to read and allowing them into the world we were living. I've been amazed at how the response has been exponentially different than I even imagined it could be. This began as a a journey and a resolve to reach out to you, my readers, in the midst of my grief and touch some part of your life with the season of my own that may reflect in some way with yours; and has come to a close with a consistent reaching out from many of you back towards me. Every time I receive a text, an email, or a message on Facebook from someone who's taken a moment to visit my little corner of the internet, I am so humbled. That you in your own grief would reach out to me and remind me that I'm not alone; while also celebrating in the fact that you are coming to this realization yourself as you scroll through my posts...This is why we share. In my post about normalizing grief I talked a lot about how so much of this life we are struggling alongside one another but are blind to the community we would have, the support we would gain, if we could somehow learn to let each other in. This has been the beginning of that process for me. Writing in a coffee shop, on my lunch break, or at night before I turn down the click of my lamp, I sit behind a keyboard hidden just enough so that I feel brave. And I think that's alright for now, it's what I have to give at this point. One thing I've learned when it comes to reaching out, is that sometimes it looks like jumping and throwing yourself forward; and other times we just have to catch our balance before we can start to walk. A step at a time, a day at a time...a paragraph at a time. And that's okay.


Capture Your Grief, Day 27: Self Portrait

Day 27: Self Portrait

Self Portrait   |   January 17, 2015   |   Home   |   Longview, Texas


Capture Your Grief, Day 26: Gratitude

June 2015 | Home | Longview, Texas

Day 26: Gratitude 

Last December I flipped my journal over and began a list in the back, a space for me to write down the things I'm grateful for. An intentional way of realizing that there is always, always, something to write down no matter how bad of a day I've had or how grim things may look or feel. This practice of mindful gratitude was eye opening for me in so many ways - a reminder that perspective really is everything and that even amidst my darkest days I could and should be humbled by everything I've been blessed with. I'm afraid that whenever we find ourselves in a season of waiting - be it for marriage, careers, families, and milestones - we begin to long for what's out of reach instead of flourishing in the place we are currently. Really, it's all too easy for us to overestimate what we could do with what we should have and to underestimate what we should do with what we do have. I am so often guilty of wanting, even yearning for things that in this season, for reasons unknown, are beyond the reach of my fingertips. And in those moments God has so beautifully shown me that I've no need to strain in order to grasp his blessings, that his timing is good, his grace is overwhelming, and his gifts are innumerable should I choose to try and count them.


Capture Your Grief, Day 25: Earth Remembrance

January 29, 2015 | Afternoon Walk | Cabo San Juan, Mexico

Day 25: Earth Remembrance 

On our back porch I have two hanging planters that fall at different lengths from the extended roof, a little secret about them is that though they used to nest real plants they now are home to an assortment of very real looking artificial succulents, elephant ferns, and cacti. They evidently are nice enough to have fooled many people including my mother, or maybe it's that no one actually considers to look close enough because only a crazy person would keep fake plants outside. I kill everything. My mom is an amazing gardener, but her green thumb is not something I inherited. Every year around spring I convince myself things have changed and go out and purchase an unlucky assortment of plants and bring them home to their imminent deaths. This year I even killed a cactus, which my friends, takes some incredible skill. Today we were challenged to plant something in memory of our littles as a way of honoring and remembering them.  I've always been a very sentimental person who appreciates metaphors and symbolism and how they can evoke deep emotion from us at the hand of otherwise arbitrary variables. And even so, this last year has further increased my awareness of the smaller things - for better or for worse. Though I'd like to keep the tone of this post a little lighter, there is a very unavoidable reality that planting something that would inevitably die, and at my hand no less, wasn't something I could even consider doing. I do think a plant is a nice way to honor a loved one who's passed on, a child who left too soon, or a pregnancy that ended too quickly, I  also believe there are so many other ways I can honor my littles in this life. This challenge has made me think so much of Isaiah 40:8 where it says "The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever." We can grow plants, erect buildings, engrave benches, and hang plaques to remember those who have passed on, but the fact is this all will fade away. Everything we've lost, everything we have, everything that has and that will be is but a vapor in this world. The beauty within this truth is that the promises we've been given in scripture aren't threatened by time, circumstances, or poor gardeners like me. They are ours, friends, and they are ours forever.

Capture Your Grief, Day 24: Choose Your Breath

September 9, 2014 | Home | Longview, Texas

Day 24: Choose Your Breath

Today's prompt is essentially about being intentional to mindfully grieve, sharing where you are in your grief process, and making no apologies about it. We are waiting. we are anxiously, faithfully, tragically, and desperately waiting. It's a monthly grief cycle in so many ways, having to go from hopeful to heartbroken in the three minutes it takes a test to process on a bathroom countertop. It's a cruel and unforgiving process both emotionally and physically as treatments fool my body into believing what it wants to. A process where I often conclude by kicking myself time and time again for ever allowing my heart to feel hopeful; but then trying to learn what faith still looks like amidst my unbelief. It's a process where each month I wonder if this will ever happen for us. It's a process of waiting. Some days I'm able to breathe deeply and thank God for what I'm learning in this season. I'm able to believe in my heart that there is a reason, there is a plan, and that we will cross the threshold of a new season in due time. Other days, days like today, I feel the bricks piled on my shoulders, the pressure on my chest, and the anxiety that plagues my heart. I feel the numbness of unbelief crawl like frost over everything in me, and all I can do is weep into Justin's arms while we both ask the same question, how much longer, lord? In scripture God's children waited years upon years upon years to see the answers of their prayers. Some waited decades, some a lifetime,  and some crossed to the other side of eternity never seeing the fruits of their faith harvested. I know and I understand the time we've waited is but a drop in a vapor that passes through this side of eternity, and I know that some day we will look back and believe every moment, every tear, every test, and every month was worth it. But today is not that day. Today my heart is heavy as we conclude another month of medications, appointments, phone calls, and tests with no good news. Today I sit full of questions and unbelief. And though I know in my heart that this is not the place that I'll remain, today I wait, today this is where I am.

“I believe; help my unbelief!”
Mark 9:24


Capture Your Grief, Day 23: Love Letter

July 17, 2015 | Los Pinos Winery | Pittsburg, Texas

Day 23: Love Letter


This last year has been one of the hardest for us, but it's been one with so much growth individually and together...and I'm so grateful for that. I remember when I came to you at the end of 2013 and told you I was ready to start a family; you looked at me with the eyes of a deer staring into headlights and let me know you'd be praying about it. Even as months went by my heart was at peace knowing you had a personal relationship with the God I served as well and that if He'd put this burden on my heart He in His time would put it on yours also. It's been amazing to watch you transform from a nervous husband to a man who deeply longs for a family alongside of his wife. You've traveled a unique journey to get from A to B, but to hear the sureness in your voice, to see the dog-eared corners move through your books about fatherhood, to see your steps slow when we pass a newborn in the store...It has blessed me beyond measure. In the last year you've not always known what to say or how to help me, but you've never failed to love me. You've never failed to suppress my tears with your arms wrapped around me and gentle words that fall directly onto my heart. You've taken me to every test, kissed my sores after every blood draw, and held your tongue after every treatment-induced hormonal episode. You write me notes, visit my office during the day, and hold my hand even tighter than you did on our first date. You love me. It's hard to believe we've been married for five years - some days it feels like it's been mere months, other days it feels like its been an eternity. We've come such a long way from where we first started; every kiss, every trial, every move, and fight and hug have changed us for the better. I cannot wait until the day when I will get to inform you again that you will be a daddy. To pull the sesame seeds out of the cabinet and marvel at how small they are on our fingertips. To dust off the books we've been waiting so long to read about what to expect, and to be utterly terrified in the best possible way with you. You have always been my  anchor in this world, Justin, since the day we met. Thank you for loving me, for leading me, for holding me up and for fighting through the glass walls that have formed around me at times in this last year. Thank you for hoping with me, for praying for and with me, for celebrating and for mourning with me. It's you and me forever, babe...we're buying our first house this month, our first home. Together. We're dreaming of a life that we can continue, a family we can start, a home we can make. Hallelujah, what a savior... I can't imagine doing this with anyone but you.



Capture Your Grief, Day 22: Dreams and Rituals

October 2015 | Target | Longview, Texas

Day 22: Dreams and Rituals

I have an abundance of dreams, though I can't say I have many rituals; unless you count loosing my mind the second half of my cycle every month for the last year and a half a ritual. However, the thing that I think of when I read today's prompt was a little habit I picked up the first week I knew I was pregnant. I go to target often -correction, I live at target- and do my usual route of the store. Walk through the doors, shield my eyes from the women's clothing section, look at my feet, look at my feet, get distracted by a super cute scarf, manage to get back on track, look at my feet, look at my feet, annnnnnd the fresh produce section finally, where I I actually should be. Every time, friends. Every time. Just before I head to the checkout line once I've finished my shopping that I actually came for (plus a mug I don't need), I make my way back to the baby things. The clearance section is positioned in the middle of the maternity and infant festivities, but by taking a very specific route I'm able to get in and out without passing clothes and accessories - because as most mammas after loss know, those are the hardest. I don't go crazy, I think in the last year I've bought four small things. Things I know I'll need some day, and I have faith will be used. Things like Baby lotion baskets that have been marked down, plain unisex onesies and infant nail clippers. I started this little clearance run in excitement at the beginning of my first pregnancy and over the year began coming back in hope. In its own small way, it's me acting on the faith that I have in our future. It's me glancing at a shelf and seeing my family amidst it's items. I suppose you could call it a ritual, but really you can also call it a dream. A dream of being there again some day soon purchasing socks for the feet that press against my ribs, and not just because they're Marked down 90%. A dream of opening the box in the closet of our spare room that contains the small things I've hidden away. A dream of a family, our family, and dream of target runs without rituals.


Capture Your Grief, Day 21: Sacred Space

September 12, 2015 | Home | Longview, Texas

Day 21: Sacred Space

We never had any nurseries, any places or spaces that really held themselves sacred after our losses. Everything happened so quickly each time that the only space I found myself in consistently was one of emptiness more than anything. Overall though, our home was a place of refuge for me…We moved into it just months before this all began and will be moving out at the end of next month, and in some ways it holds so much of the emotion that we’ve carried over the last two years. This home has provided a nest for me and Justin and in its own way has cradled us in our walk through loss. The back porch where I’ve sat and written these blogs or watched the fire burn while Piper played in the yard and the bathroom where I got my first positive test. The spare room that we began cleaning out for our little one and slowly filled back up when we found out they would never arrive. The bedroom where Justin and I rest in each others arms and talk at night about our hopes and dreams for the family we know we’ll have some day... There are many spaces that are dear to me in this home, but none that I would necessarily call sacred in the general definition of the word. To me the sacred is in the small things...the breeze blowing through the house, the dog's collar jingling in the other room, the smell of clean laundry, and that first stream of light that pours through the blinds when you open them at the start of a new day. Next month when we move into our new home much of this will come with us, but as everyone knows who closes a chapter with the latch click of a door, there’s always things that will stay and belong to those walls. We will close on our home and receive keys to the first place that will be truly ours at the end of next month. My heart yearns for a new season, a new start, and a new space. A space that that maybe one day will become sacred to us as we rock our babies in the spare rooms and hear footsteps run down the halls. Until and beyond then it's the crackling of the fireplace and the heartbeat against my cheek as I curl up next to Justin that tells me I'm home, tells me God is with me, and tells me that everything will be just fine.


Capture Your Grief, Day 20: Forgiveness and Humanity

October 2015 | Home | Longview, Texas
Day 20: Forgiveness and Humanity

Over the last year I've had to forgive myself many times, and frequently at that. The first thing this topic pulls from my heart is the anger I harbored and often still feel welling up towards myself and my own body. When the business of the day stops and I've already kissed my husband goodnight, the silence of the evening welcomes my inner dialogue to take center stage and on some days overpower me. I was made for this, why can't I do this? Having children is biologically built into my bodies capabilities, what's wrong with me? Why does my body keep rejecting the life that is trying to take hold inside of me? Why is this happening? It's my fault. In the darkest hours of the night my biggest fears begin to convince me that I am in some way in control of this journey. This itself though, is what I know to be untrue. Taking hold and grasping the fact that I am small has helped me forgive my own body for it's betrayal to my heart and dreams. It's helped me accept the fact that regardless of how healthy I am or how perfectly put together my inner parts are, aside from God's command, creation waits. I believe that God is sovereign, and according to that belief I know that there is not a single molecule in this universe that is out of place and in turn I have to continually tell myself, this is not about me. It's so easy to think back over and over and wonder if I could have done something differently, down to the tiniest of details. I wonder if I'm a bad mother, if I'll ever get the chance again to prove to myself I'm not. It's so easy. But in the same way that I've had to continually release my expectations and trust that God is in control of every molecule, every cell... I've had to learn to forgive myself and my own humanity through it all. Forgiving yourself can be so hard, because if you're anything like me you're your own worst critic. But I've learned it's so necessary for healing and is the only way to take the blinders off that keep you looking at yourself. It's not about us, it's not about the circumstance, it's about Him and what he's trying to teach us through it all.


Capture Your Grief, Day 19: Music

September 2015 | Home | Longview, Texas

Day 19: Music 

Music is such a powerful medium and has always been something that never fails to evoke emotion from me. The first time I heard the song Oceans by Hillsong United was after my brother and sister in law learned of my nieces condition. She would mention the song so often, and for whatever reason I'd just never heard it. After Savannah died they shared a video with this song playing in the background and as I listened to the words and watched my niece's life on the screen of my computer I was moved in a way I can't describe. I loved the song from that point forward, but began to lean on it more and more as Justin and my plans for parenthood unfolded in a way that was so different then we'd anticipated. "And I will call upon Your name, And keep my eyes above the waves. When oceans rise my soul will rest in Your embrace, For I am Yours and You are mine...Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders let me walk upon the waters wherever You would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander and my faith will be made stronger In the presence of my Savior" These words were and still are an anthem for my sister in her journey through loss, and it has forever touched the way the words cross my ears and have in turn made it an anchor for me in the waves of this journey as well. Many a time I have been driving and feeling 'perfectly fine' and find myself moments later weeping and in worship as I sit at a stop light while this plays over the radio. So much comes over me; not only am I overwhelmed by the message and the challenge of the song itself, but in so many ways I am encouraged as it floods my heart with love and memories of my niece and my family's journey with her. What we learned from her little life comes full circle back to my heart within seconds as I am then in turn reminded of how God leads us onto the water and promises to not let the waves overtake us. 


You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Oh, Jesus, you're my God!

I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine


Capture Your Grief, Day 18: Seasons and Symbols

December 2012 | Our Old Apartment | Longview, Texas

Day 18: Seasons and Symbols

I've always loved fall, October in particular. There's no reason why really other than the fact that I think something amazing happens when the life and warmth of summer collide with winters charm and create something entirely beautiful and new all together. It's the month I was married, the month my sweet niece was born, and its the month I first learned I was going to be a mamma. This year fall has carried a lot of mixed emotions. Maybe it's the fact that the only fall I've spent our current home in was one where we learned we'd be parents... the only thanksgiving was one where we spent the day distracting ourselves from the loss of the previous dream... the only Christmas we celebrated in this home was the Christmas we were supposed to announce to the world our impending parenthood. It's funny, the simple ambiance of a cool breeze swimming through the house with football on the tv and slippers on my feet takes me back to simpler times. It was this month last year that my world burst open with joy, and it was this month it began to fall apart. It's rather symbolic if you think about it, what fall represents. It's a season where the old transitions into the new, and even though in reality everything around us is dying and withering away, it's a gorgeous season and sight to witness. Isn't it true though? Some of the most stunning memories we all have of autumn we are surrounded by pieces the trees let go of as they themselves stand bare and incomplete in so many ways - But its necessary for the coming spring, and one of the most majestic sights I know. Maybe this season was given to me in so many ways for a reason. Maybe in some little way God is reminding me that he will make me new in due time. That there will be loss, there will be change, and everything I once thought true will float to the ground piece by piece; but that this is how we move forward, this is how we see the beauty, this is how we make way for new life.


Capture Your Grief, Day 17: Secondary Losses

August 2015 | Home | Longview, Texas

Day 17: Secondary Losses

Though no one can prepare you for the loss of multiple pregnancies, in some ways the grief that comes after is anticipated somehow. In the weeks following each loss even though it was hard for me to wrap my heart and mind around what I was experiencing, there was some kind of a meter within me that helped me assure myself this is how it works. Grief, unpredictable as it may be, still moves the same way through all of us and somehow this knowledge prepared me in a way I can't articulate. It didn't make it easier, it didn't help me validate the pain or know how to navigate it. But it did feel natural, and in my later losses, familiar. What I wasn't prepared for at all were the secondary losses; the domino effect of grief that came after that I had no idea how to legitimize or prepare for. The second wave after the initial blow. The biggest secondary loss that weighs on me daily is the loss of expectation. It's the loss that I feel when I'm on my back with tears streaming down my temples as I stare at florescent lights during painful and invasive tests. The loss that courses through me during my bimonthly blood draws and while I wait at the counter for my prescriptions to be filled month after month. It's the loss that I feel when I realize that this won't look like what I always dreamed it would, and then not knowing how to cope with that realization. The pills, the appointments, the schedules, the calendars, and the empty room in our home are all little losses in their own rights. They are the losses I face in private, the ones no one knows how to address or help with. We all face it, we all know what it feels like when our reality uproots and a new normal takes hold. And on the days when I feel like the ground won't stop shifting beneath my feet I'm reminded of our constant anchor in this life. Our God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). My prayer is that God will mold my heart and my desire to that of His plans and not my own; his reality rather than my expectation. This journey has been peppered with more losses in more shapes and sizes than I ever could have anticipated, but one thing I haven't lost is hope. Hope in this journey, hope in the future, hope in Him.

Capture Your Grief, Day 16: Creative Grief

Painted November 2012 | Longview, Tx
Day 16: Creative Grief

There have been a lot of ways this journey has manifested itself in creative ways - My tattoo, the photography, these blog posts...but the thing that comes to mind for this prompt is actually a piece I painted years ago after surfacing from a season of depression. One of my favorite stories in the Bible is when King Nebuchadnezzar demanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendenego, among countless other Babylonians bow down to a massive gold statue of himself. The three men refused, and when brought to the king and given another chance to denounce their God they stood firm in their conviction. As punishment they were going to be thrown into a furnace to be killed, and the king asked in mockery "what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” After these men were delivered into the furnace the king looked in amazement asking "Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?" while four stood amidst the flames in the distance, the fourth looking like 'the son of the gods'. Shadrach, Meshcach, and Abendegngo were delivered from the flames even as the men who cast them in were killed by the intensity of the heat. The Bible says that their robes were unharmed and the smell of smoke was not on them. This story is an incredible picture of faith, of sovereignty and of sacrifice; though I fear often the temptation when reading it is to cling to the fact that God delivered them from the fiery death they faced, that he reached down and saved them from their circumstance. But the part of this story that I love, the part of this story that changes the makeup of my heart, is the words from the three men just before being sent to their deaths. The king in his arrogance and rage asked them what god could rescue them from his hand, and the men replied to him "We do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from your Majesty's hand. But even if not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." Our God is able to deliver us, but even if not... Even if not. This section of scripture continually challenges me to remember and believe that God can and is able to free us from our circumstance - be it loss, depression, illness, or pain of any kind, but that even if he doesn't, He is still good. And that maybe, just maybe, the very circumstance we find ourselves in is the one through which He will be most glorified. This painting with fire touched edges and burnt wood reminds me of the flames in Daniel three, and up the side the words "Even if not" in Hebrew. My circumstances threaten to swallow me some days like flames in this furnace of life, and this last year I have found myself continually in prayer asking God to change how this journey has looked for me. He hears me, he loves me, and he is able. But even if not, He is still good.


Capture Your Grief, Day 15: Wave of Light

October 15, 2015 | Home | Longview, Texas

Day 15: Wave of Light

Today is a worldwide event where at 7pm, no matter what your time zone is, you light a candle in remembrance of your angels. If you keep it burning for at least an hour there will be a continual wave of light across the world all day long in honor of the little ones lost. Tonight I lit three candles, and though not any one is more important than the other, one of these candles burns a little sharper in my heart as it is the due date of my second pregnancy today. I have few words for sharing this evening other than to reiterate that God has been so gracious in this process. Even as my day began with tears and a fog that weighed down my heart, it has ended with my amazement of God's provision in so many areas of our lives. This evening as a wave of light continues to trickle its way around the world I am reminded of how precious this gift of life is and can feel hope within me that I may carry it again someday. Tonight my prayers are overwhelmed by the thoughts of all the participating families, the aching hearts, and the flames that dance in remembrance of the little feet that were never able to. We miss you little ones.


Capture Your Grief, Day 14: Express Your Heart

January 2015 | Home | Longview, Texas

Day 14: Express Your Heart

This blog, as I've mentioned in previous posts, has been very scary for me in a lot of ways. But it's also been so unbelievably healing and eye opening. Today I've been prompted to express my heart, and really in some ways this bewilders me...because this whole project has been about expressing our heart in a raw, daily, scary, coming out from the dark, kind of way. But what I can do is thank all of you who have been so supportive of me during this project. Literally, not a day has gone by where I haven't received at least one lengthy message from someone who's been reading and relating in some way to these posts. Some have been close friends, some are friends I haven't spoken to in years, some have been complete strangers...it has been one of the most humbling experiences I've ever had, to see God use my ramblings to comfort, relate to, validate, and encourage those going through similar grief, or a grief of their own unique breed. Truly I could not have asked for more from those of you who have faithfully followed along this month and I am overwhelmingly grateful for each of you. Fourteen days down, seventeen to go. 


Capture Your Grief, Day 13: Regrets and Triggers

October 2015 | Target | Longview, Texas

Day 13: Regrets and Triggers

I've noticed over this last year that the list of what doesn't 'trigger' an emotional response is far shorter than the list of things that do. As any mother in waiting seeing pregnant women, going to baby showers, scrolling through pregnancy announcements on Facebook and seeing my due date on a calendar are all things that make my heart heavy. These haven't gotten easier, in fact as the months go by they prove to be more and more difficult, but in some way I've learned to prepare myself for them. You learn to cope and to guard your heart, to buy gift cards instead of sort through infant clothes at Target, to muster up genuine joy for friends as they begin or add to their families instead of the jealousy that begs for the spotlight in your heart. I am grateful, however, to say that because of my faith and because of the fact that our God is a sovereign God and makes no mistakes, that I have few regrets. Some days I fall into the dance between regret and sorrow, wishing I'd have known more or appreciated the innocence when it was mine... But ultimately I know that it wouldn't have mattered if I took more prenatal vitamins, if I would have stayed home from work the day I noticed something was wrong, if I'd have timed things better this month or that month...My life, my story, is not by chance. I have an almighty, all knowing, loving, and sovereign God who has a plan for me and our family. So yes, I have triggers- I have good days and bad days, happy days and sad ones, but no... I am able to say that regret holds no place in my heart. I will be a better mother someday, whenever that day comes, because of the lessons my littles have taught me..Not all, but most days, it is gratitude not regret that I feel, not because of anything I've done, but because of the grace God's shown me and continues to show me in my journey towards motherhood.


Capture Your Grief, Day 12: Normalizing Grief

March 13, 2015 | Rainy Day | Longview, Tx

Day 12: Normalizing Grief

I've gotta say, I've never been so shocked, amazed, heartbroken, and encouraged all at once than I was when we posted our initial letter about our journey to parenthood on this blog. I was overwhelmed by the amount of people who came forward both publicly on social media, and privately via email or text, saying that they could relate to our loss in such a deep and personal way. I will also say, on many levels, this broke my heart...why are we all doing this alone? Why do none of us feel like we can be more open? Why is it that grief of any kind makes so many people uncomfortable when it is truly so incredibly common? The loss of a pregnancy can be so unbelievably isolating. The constant tug and pull to validate my own emotion and pain within my own heart has been daunting, let alone the fight with those around me and the general public. And yet, I'm one in four. One in four. That means when I see one hundred women during my day at work, at the store, at the post office, twenty five of us have experienced the loss that in some way manages to cover our eyes and ears and make us feel alone. One in four. I have this picture in my mind of us all with black bags over our heads, suffocating in the darkness with our arms outstretched desperate to find comfort. And we're all there, we're all in need of community...we just can't see one another. So we grasp at the air together, completely alone. It's heartbreaking. This blog has been terrifying for me on an almost daily basis. If it weren't for the fact that I have a topic guide leading me through this process, and the comfort of hiding behind a keyboard while I'm in leggings and my dog curled up next to me - I don't know that I could do this. But why? I can tell you why. Because the anxiety that comes along with what people will think, how they will perceive, react, and respond to these posts, can be scary. The vulnerability that comes along with standing up in front of the world wide web and saying this is my struggle, these are my fears, these are my wounds, is hard. But what I am daily amazed by is how in this process I have realized that I am anything but alone. Grief, of many kinds is normal, and the beautiful truth is that the sooner we can each just come to an understanding of this, we will all emerge out the other side feeling a little more normal, and a lot less alone.


Capture Your Grief, Day 11: Glow In The Woods

July 2015 | Heartlight Ministries | Hallsville, Texas

Day 11: Glow in the woods

Today's topic is a reference to an organization that the creator of Capture Your Grief refers to as her light in the darkness in her journey through grief. We're challenged to share with our friends and families who our 'glow in the woods' was. My husband and I work at a Ministry called Heartlight in Texas. It's a residential counseling facility for at risk teens and I'm blessed to say I am able to call those I work with family. It's a beautiful, stressful, life changing, challenging, and amazing place to work. Today I want to recognize not this place specifically, but the people who have made it home for Justin and I the last three and a half years. Justin found a counseling position with Heartlight right out of grad school, and I followed a couple of years behind him after they pulled me on full time in October of 2014. When I think of what this journey would have looked like had I been at the firm I was working at prior to Heartlight, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the Lords provision in this area of my life. I am grateful to say that the road we've walked this last year has been one with amazing support, love, encouragement, and friendship from those we're blessed to do life with at Heartlight. The fact that this place has provided an environment of love, accountability, comfort, and encouragement is something I'll forever be grateful for...Thank you to our friends-our family that is Heartlight. Without you, this path would have been much darker for us. Not many are able to say their colleagues, their supervisors, their superiors, and their CEOs care deeply about the well being of their hearts - we can. Often times at work we say that Heartlight is just as much for the staff as it is for the kids; I can attest to this, and say I am so thankful for the community we've found here, the love we've received, and for the family we've gained.


Capture Your Grief, Day 10: Words

Day 10: Words

verb; rəˈlēs/
1. Allow or enable to escape from confinement; to set free
2. Allow (something) to move, act, or flow freely.
synonyms: free, set free, let go/out, allow to leave, liberate
antonyms: control, impression, restrain, collect, repress.

At the beginning of the year the ladies in our small group challenged each other to pick a word for their year either instead of or in addition to the resolution of their choice. The concept from the book 'One word that will change your life' encourages you to chose a word that you will hold onto over the course of the year and use to intentionally seek out a common theme in each situation. The word that immediately surfaced on my heart when we were discussing this idea was Release; God had been taking me on a journey the previous year of learning how to give up the illusion of control I thought I had, to forgive, to move forward, to allow myself to heal, to release. The amazing thing about actually choosing a word is that it was a simple way to center myself and remember what I need to be learning from the situation in front of me. I have fought a lifelong battle with negative thoughts, fear, and anxiety; having a trigger word that I've learned to automatically respond to with scripture and prayer has been revolutionary in the way I've approached struggle in my life. Learning to release will be a lifelong war for me, it will be for all of us because of our desire to hold tightly and control. But little by little I can feel my hand open a bit more here and a bit more there, and I am grateful. The majority of 2014 before my first pregnancy God was pressing and pressing me to embrace the importance of my smallness and to release my need for control. Months and months went by, and I'm embarrassed to say I think there was a part of me that thought I understood it. But in the days following our first loss I learned more about what it meant to release control than I had the entire year prior. The books, the Bible studies, the sermons - they were all incredible and good things...but nothing can teach you to release control better than a situation when you realize you have none. I believe in sovereignty. I believe fully that God uses our trials to teach us and grow us (James 1:2-4), I believe that the puzzle pieces fit where they fall for a divine reason. I have had to learn to release my expectations -for myself, for others, for my plans and desires, to release my need for validation in areas other than in Christ only. I've had to learn to release my fear of the future, release the pain of my past, release myself from a cycle of gracelessness within my own heart towards my body and my ability physically to start a family. I've had to learn to release my anger, my anxiety, and my hurt that when not maintained piles high in my heart. I have had to learn to release this world, and to hope for the next. I have had to learn, and am still learning, to let go, to set free, to release.


Capture Your Grief, Day 9: Family

October 9, 2014 | 1st Celebration of Savannah's Birth

Day 9: Family

Today is a special day in my family. On this day my beautiful niece came and left this world two years ago...It's so hard to even believe it's been that long since I've seen her face, since my brother and sister in law held her, and since we all stood around in a hospital room singing happy birthday to the little bundle in a blanket. Even as short as her little life was, in her 40 weeks 2 days 9 hours and 50 minutes she made an impact that some don't make in a lifetime.  This little girl taught us how to love, how to hope, how to cherish, and how to trust. She taught her parents what it means to be a mommy and daddy and what it looks like to choose life for their littles no matter what the circumstances are. Today my wish is to take a furlough from my grief journey, and shift your attention to that of these parents...people I am privileged and grateful to call my family. Josh and Rebecca you have taught us so much about what it means to trust God completely amidst sorrow, to hope in Him and not what he gives us in this life but what he promises for the next. You have showed us that grief looks different on everyone and that it's okay to not feel okay. My heart is heavy today as I remember Savannah's feet and elbows pressing against my hands as she rolled and tumbled inside of you, Rebecca. But more so, my heart rejoices for what she did to change the face of our family. Your little girl made me an aunt! She made Samuel a little brother, and she made our brothers and my husband uncles. She made the world think twice about this life and she made a 4lb 14oz dent in the universe that will never fill or fade. She made us learn to take in every sunset, to celebrate Christmas in August and to smile whenever we sip grape juice.  Above all...She made you parents, she made us all better...she made a difference.

Savannah Joy. I know on your side of eternity time stands still, but here on this side we think of you constantly and long for the day we get to see you again. We love you, we miss you...Happy birthday baby girl.


Capture Your Grief, Day 8: Wish List

May 27, 2015 | Home | Longview, Texas

Day 8: Wish List

Today I'm supposed to write about my wishes for myself, about what I wish to receive from others on this journey, about what I wish to say. I'm overwhelmed by the many ways this could be interpreted; part of why this 'guided vulnerability' has been working for me is that it gives me a sense of direction each day rather than leaving me to my own devices. When the daily topics lean towards the ambiguous like today's, I struggle to gather my thoughts into something formulated and concise. I wish so many things. I wish I had a three month old in my arms from my first pregnancy. I wish my heart didn't feel so heavy so often, and I wish that I could get out of the glass box I feel like I'm in half of the time. I wish I was trying all kinds of crazy home remedies to induce the labor of my second pregnancy as my due date nears. I wish starting a family didn't involved filling prescriptions and getting blood drawn every month. I wish I didn't have to wish these things. Ultimately though, when I am able to gather myself and step outside of the questioning and the sorrow, I wish to be better because of it all. I wish - I pray, that through this all God will continue to teach me to love more deeply, to thank more often, to hold more tightly, to trust more completely, to release more quickly, and to wait more patiently.  Prior to my first pregnancy I prayed fervently that God would use the time in waiting to help me grow into the woman he wanted me to be for our Children. And on the days that my heart is weary and my spirit is broken, I can feel him gently tap me on the shoulder and remind me that I am still called to glorify him in my waiting - no matter how long it takes or what season I find myself in. We will always be waiting for something,  my wish is that God can teach me to trust him and be content wherever he sees fit to place me and that I would learn to chase him and nothing else. 

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.
Psalm 130:5-6

"I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born, says the Lord" 
Isaiah 66:9


Capture Your Grief, Day 7: Memory

October 31st, 2014 | Target | Longview, Texas

Day 7: Memory

It's funny, I have a habit of documenting life as it happens - regardless of circumstance or mood, and because of this it turns out I'll only need to take a handful of new pictures over the course of the month. It's been really special for me, this project, to be able to share some of the moments I've gathered over our last year...both good and bad. Some are simple, but some carry so much weight and emotion. This is one of those pictures. I woke up on a Friday morning just knowing I was pregnant - at this point I had no idea what it meant to obsess and convince myself of what I wanted - at this point I was new to this all, naive, optimistic and above all, innocent. That day after work on October 31st my second line showed up, beautiful as ever and I got busy working on my plan to tell Justin. He was working late and had to go in early the next morning as well; how I managed to hold it in for twenty hours is beyond me...It probably helped that he was at work or we were sleeping for eighteen of them! Friday evening I headed to target for another pregnancy test, a card, some poppy seeds so I could show him how big our little one was at that moment, and some other goodies for my adventure to motherhood. This is one of my favorite memories and I hope - despite all of the fear, the anxiety, and the worry of another loss - I will somehow be able to embrace this kind of reckless joy the next time we are expecting. I was over the moon. I set my basket down and took this photo with life inside of me as I stood in the middle of a target isle. I will be here again someday, I know this to be true, and it's memories like this that keep my heart hopeful for what's to come.


Capture Your Grief, Day 6: Books

August 1, 2015 | Home | Longview, Texas

Day 6: Books

Justin and I love to read. Our nightstands, mantles, and walls are flooded with stacks of books of all kinds of shape, size, and topic. We have always talked about wanting our children to love the feel of pages between their fingers as we do, and have collected childrens books for the last five years together in hopes of stocking a nursery someday with our finds. The week after we found out I was first pregnant we of course headed to the bookstore for all kinds of new and exciting literature about what we could expect on this journey of pregnancy and parenthood. While I was making my way to the front with my purchases I saw the 20th Anniversary Edition of 'Guess How Much I Love You' on a display. As I sat down on the floor and leafed through the book I remembered from my childhood I was so overwhelmed by how much I already loved my little bean, and despite the ridiculous price tag, bought the book.

Ten months, three losses, and one passed due date later Justin walked through the door with a bag in his hands. He made his way over and pulled out the Curious George book for me to see and all I could do was melt into tears as we looked through it together. He quietly talked to me about he loved Curious George when he was little and how he hoped that someday we'd get the chance to share this book with our children.

That night when we were laying in bed I had mentioned to Justin that I recalled reading Curious George to my younger brothers, but for whatever reason couldn't remember if I had read them when I was little or had anyone read them to me. Without a word he disappeared into the other room to get the book, crawled back in bed, wrapped his arms around me, and read to me from the pages as I smiled and thanked God for the loving father I know he will someday be. When you walk this path it can be so easy to feel isolated and lonely, even from your significant other. And for me it's been moments like these that I can look back on and see God drawing us nearer to one another despite-or truthfully, because of the struggle. One day I will sit with my firstborn and spread these books out in front of them with joy knowing that they not only represent our love and affection, but also the journey God has lead us through to get to the very place we will be.