5

One does not just “get over” the death of a child. You don’t just wake up one day and it’s all better. I don’t believe that anyone just gets over the death of someone. People say time heals all wounds and it certainly gives us much needed perspective and wisdom, but only the hope of Christ can heal a wound that deep, even then, it must be something one desires to receive. I cannot speak for those who have lost a parent, a spouse or a sibling, but as someone who has held their child as he slipped into the healing victory of heaven, I can say this…

healing is a choice.

Healing, getting to a new normal, a new pace, even a joyous place in life takes intention and effort. God’s love, his power and his grace make it possible, but you have to be at a place where you ask for his power, love, and grace to actually do the work. And when I say work, I mean it. It takes work to: quit blaming God, quit blaming yourself, to sleep again, eat again, smile again. There is no magic pill to take and “poof”, you’re all better and life is peaches again. You know this as well as I do. Healing truly takes a willing heart, a heart fully entrusted to the Savior to provide all it needs to function and thrive, without the piece that died. It is possible. Healing, happiness, wellness, joy, even thriving in life are all possible when we let God do the work in our hearts, allow his Word to transform our minds and extend grace to those around us as they try to venture through it as well.

I’ve gone through every grief step possible and probably invented a couple of my own. I still have struggles in my mothering, trust of others, of God even. I don’t intend to paint a picture-perfect life or claim to live one. The trauma that comes with holding your son and watching him take his last breath is something that I haven’t “pushed through” or “gotten over” or “healed from” in the sense that it doesn’t shake my core anytime I think on that night. Yet, the deep questions I had for awhile have resided and a sense of calm and peaceful trust have come over my soul over the years. One of the things I have not really spoken of to many, at all, is the fact that I deal with a lot of anxiety and anger problems, especially when it comes to tough mothering moments, being super harsh in my mind towards people who have hurt me or misunderstood me, the need to please everyone and have everything be perfect if it has to do with my effort, reputation, if it has my name on it so to speak… these things did not come about from grief and I don’t blame the loss of my child for dealing with these, what I AM saying is that these things that were probably, most definitely already there in my world, as sin struggles, have now been highlighted or made super aware of  because of grief. For example, when my children frustrate me or I have had days without any alone time… I begin to be very impatient and I just struggle. It gets to where I almost resent my kids. It is hard to mother sometimes because I have gone to the pits of agony wondering why God would let my child die and how do I prevent one of my girls from dying before me. I have gone to the depths of trusting God so much that I almost get to where I have the thought, “if God already has my children’s lives planned out, then what could I possibly do to change what will happen to them, good or bad?” These up and down thoughts have put me in a place that I throw my hands in the air and want to give up on how to pray for them, how to raise them, how to trust God with them. Part of me is extremely sentimental, but I’m also the mom who isn’t wailing on fb about how sad she is that her child is growing up. You know why? Because I GET TO WATCH THEM GROW UP. Why would I cry and blubber on about how sad I am that my kid is alive, healthy, smart, growing and loving life? Why in the world? Yet, I have moments when I miss the times where I would rock a snuggly bundle to sleep. I’m not hardened to them growing up and yet I find myself celebrating all the things because I get to! What I wouldn’t give to throw a little boy birthday party, play trucks and swoon when he picked weeds and gave them to me as flowers..that’s what little boys do right? I won’t ever know, but I do know that I am very aware of the time I have with my kids. I am aware that they will not always be my baby girls. I also know that I get to raise them and love them and not visit their g12469536_10100718582946580_1413939311380236028_oraves instead of celebrating birthdays.

Time has allowed me to process all of this and begin to heal in places I did not realize I needed. It has also given me the space to deal with sin that is now highlighted and it has reminded me again and again that life is a gift, a precious gift and I cannot waste it.

Healing is a life long process. I don’t believe I will ever get tired of looking at the only pictures I have of my son. I don’t believe I will ever get tired of thinking of him and wondering what if…

but I have also come to a place in my life where I choose to trust that God’s plan was and is always better than my own. Grief brings out the ugliest parts of us, it can rear its ugly head at any point and if we do not approach our grief as part of our walk with Christ (perhaps maybe that is a starting point for you in your own healing, is to begin a relationship with Christ. Please reach out to me and I will walk with you through that), then we will surely get lost in its traps, tangled in its lies and we will never break free from our hurt, our questions and our bitterness. Those things will settle in and we will hold our kids so tight we make them our idols, we will never forgive, we will live so close minded that we live alone and at some point we will stop growing in our faith and will find ourselves bitter and defeated.

There are ways to move forward, find joy and love life, even after (especially after) loss. There really are. The thing is, it has to be an intentional choice. There are many circumstances that I have never experienced, in dealing with loss/grief. I don’t pretend to know or instruct anyone in the grief process. I simply share what I know in my own experience and if it can encourage someone else, I pray that it is so.

5 years of learning how to do life. I will always be learning how to live life. I will always find myself, on this day, remembering. Without the journey that was Noah’s life, I would most certainly not be who I am, where I am, doing what I do, loving whom I love… life would just not be the same.

If I could encourage you at all today, here is what I have to offer.

Life after loss CAN BE GOOD AGAIN.
Life after loss can be HAPPY again.
Life after loss can be rich and full.
You will not be disrespecting your loved one if you laugh, smile, love life, do new things, better yourself, move forward in life, find ways to celebrate, etc.
Be aware that if people don’t say words about your loved one as often as you wish, it doesn’t mean they don’t think of them, miss them. Really. Trust me.
speaking of your loved one and bringing attention to and remembering them is OK. Remember, celebrate, commemorate, honor, tell all the world about your loved one.
Find ways to honor your loved one that involves blessing someone else. This has helped me time and time again.
Let God do the hard work in you. Don’t allow yourself to wallow in bitterness. Let grace make you better. Let the Lord love you and walk with you and stretch you as your faith makes way for growth and trust.
Find ways to get all the feelings and questions and emotions out. Therapy, a friend, a mentor, a support group. I have found that my heart angels group on fb, that I am in with hundreds of other moms who have lost children to CHD’s, is one of my most loving groups, because they understand better than anyone. Reach out and be honest.

I miss my boy, even73602_10100401433506600_1319779224_n having only known him for a few months. I only knew him hooked up to tubes and machines, drugged, sedated, struggling… I look forward to hugging my son again, in eternity, knowing my boy is whole, healed, perfect and exactly where he should be. Isn’t that true for all of us as believers and for those of our loved ones who have gone before. The hope of eternity. The hope of Christ in us, means absolute victory and healing.

I’m letting it sting today. I’m letting myself re-live it in my mind. I’m letting myself be sad, but in it all,

it’s ok. (click to read more)

So many of the same sentiments and so many of the same emotions, yet wells of wisdom and peace in this 5th year. I’m thankful for rich relationships, I’m thankful for my job and the stretching it has forced in me, the family it has given me, the place to pursue all God is calling me to be. I’m thankful for my family who never forget. I’m thankful for friends who go far beyond the call to show me His grace. They don’t HAVE to send texts, flowers, notes or sweet gifts. They do not have to do that. They choose to and I am beyond humbled. I cannot think of another tribe to do this life with. I’m thankful for the sisters in Christ God has placed in my life. I grew up the girl that seemed like they had a lot of friends, or talked to a bunch of people, but the truth was, I never really had reciprocation of friendship until later on in life. It has taken years of prayers, lots of learning and lots of waiting for God to show me the women in my life who have my back, who are honest and loving, full of truth and grace. They are willing to tell me hard truth and are also asking me to tell them hard truth. There are no silly games there, just women, desiring to be discipled, desiring to be real and they are doing the hard work it takes to make friendship work. Hallelujah. Praise the Lord. I am deeply grateful for a husband who doesn’t make big deals of things, but quietly supports me in unending ways. He has paved the way for me to chase dreams and passions, with his blessing and resources. He has held me tight and hugged away many a lonely and sad night. He held me when I crumbled to the ground in agony after handing my baby back to the nurse, as I wailed and wept and could not control my body or its response. He cried too. He doesn’t wonder why I sleep with a minkee blanket in our bed. He doesn’t stop me from just being sad some days. He is just simply my person, my strong place and my best friend. (More on child loss and marriage later down the road.) For now,  I just sit here humbled beyond words at why anyone would love me the way they do. I’m just so grateful to get to share hearts all over fb or send tabs to the Ronald McDonald House, send bed sheets and onesies to the heart unit at Cook’s… there are things in my life that would not IMG_9170.jpghave come about if it weren’t for intentionally choosing to live after loss.

Choose to breathe. Choose to find the joy. Choose to share the light. Choose to honor your loved one. Choose to not let bitterness and anger win. When we ask God to heal our hurt, may we be ready to let him do just that. Here for you in the journey…

Shaina

#findingtheheart

 

 

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So what now?

As I launched this web page, I was wondering if any of this even mattered. Would people even care about a bunch of random hearts, found in various places and shared online? What is the point? Why does it matter?

I realized that it is a sweet sentiment, to remember our late son, by finding hearts and sharing them, but after just a week of asking people to find them and share, I feel as though it has been a blessing to many people, just as much as it has blessed me. When God placed on my heart, this idea of, finding the heart, I finally felt like the season that all of this came from, finally had a summary. If I could explain in one sentence, what the entire season of Noah’s life, in our lives, was like for us, it would be… “Because Noah came, lived and died, we were able to more clearly find the heart in every circumstance we face”d33e3042-fc87-4f4c-95dd-776c4caf01a6.jpg

We have found that with faith, we can find the heart of every season, ever trial, every circumstance. We must be aware and look, but it’s there. When we find the heart, the best thing about it all is that we find God’s heart. Finding hearts in rocks or in the clouds is special and I know He has placed them there for us to find and appreciate. What I have also found is that when I am actively seeking out his purpose, his presence and his plan in my circumstance, I find his heart. I find his good character, his grace, his love. When our eyes are open to actively look for him, he is to be found.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8

So many times we ask God where he is, what he is doing, why he does it… at some point I learned that it was ok to question God and ask those questions, but there were questions that had much more concrete answers.. like, “what are you doing in me?” “where are you leading me?” “where can I find you more?” When I made it so much more personal, it caused me to listen more intently. I then began to see the blessings, big and small, surrounding and mixed in my mess of a life. I began to see relationships built with the staff as a beautiful gift. I saw the outpouring of so many people as the evidence of the love of God for me. I saw quiet days in the ICU as time spent with the Lord in His word and worship, alongside my son. I began to open my eyes to the blessings aroIMG_9082.jpgund me. The heart of the matter, was that he was working on me.

We are 5 years out of that season and over those 5 years I have found that finding the heart looks differently. I find that when I struggle with anxiety, instead of fighting it, I surrender to the Lord again and again and he is there to realign me, love me and remind me that if I could walk through the darkness I had and he didn’t leave me then, he would not leave me now. Bad days happen, way more than I like to admit, and I let them get the best of me, all too often. Have we ever thought that the bad days are ways that we are reminded to find the heart in the matter.

So, finding the heart, it is more than just finding hearts and tagging them. It is making space in your life to pause and find the heart of the matter in every situation. In every place that you find yourself slipping, tripping and struggling.. what could you possibly find as blessing in that situation? Digging in deep and taking the time to ask the Lord and listen, repent of sin/bad attitudes/judgemental heart/habits/, etc bring

How am I finding the heart today? Well, glad you asked. haha
Lent is beginning this week. (a really great way to walk through Lent, is I grew up in a baptist church and I’m thankful for that raising. I also was not taught about Lent or why it could be a very important time in the year. Lent, being the 40 days before Easter, usually starting with Ash Wednesday and ending with Easter Sunday, is a time oIMG_8966.jpgf pausing, restricting yourself of something possibly that is a distraction to your relationship with the Lord, and awaiting the death/burial and resurrection of Christ. I have found that, even in my very elementary dealings with Lent, that I always find it a beautiful season of being extremely focused on Jesus. It is such an intentional time. It reminds me that repentance is KEY to closeness to Christ. It also reminds me that without repentance, we’re living in rebellion to the Father. Without taking away the things that keep us distant and out of touch with the Lord, we will just simply fall away. We need hard times. We need deep seasons of learning, growth and sacrifice. We need to allow God to do that hard work in us. Sometimes we don’t get a choice and other times he is waiting for us to ask him to move!

Finding the heart of my walk with Christ always involves dying to self. I encourage you to find the heart of your walk with Christ, by dying to the things that are in the way of it. It could be anything small or it could be something so large that you need to ask someone to walk through that with you. Either way, do the hard thing.

I hope and pray that finding the heart becomes a way we find ourselves closer to the Father and closer to HIS heart.

 

Shaina

#Findingtheheart

Hello!

The last 5 years have been full of many things. 5 years ago on February 22, we began a journey that was one we never asked for or intended to start. The journey of grieving the death of a child. You can find our whole story on Our Story page.

What started as a fun way to celebrate our son and 1 year of being in heaven, ended up being such an incredible blessing to me. I asked that people27544745_10101107533850850_7416694872934047671_n share a heart in honor of our son, Noah. They could find a heart wherever they wanted and share it. Some found clip art hearts, some found hearts in nature, some found them in places they see every single day but hadn’t noticed until they were asked to be on the look out. We gathered all of these sweet hearts and notes of love and encouragement and treasured them. One year of grieving and growing and we were able to find joy and celebrate.

Fast forward 5 years and I am asking again for hearts. This time there is a less needy heart under the surface. But, the sentiment is still the same. I have discovered that when I am actively looking for the heart, in whatever situation I may be in, I will always find it. So I ask, all of the new friends and faces who have joined our journey, to share their hearts. It has been a huge blessing, yet again.

This year is a bit different though. I have begun to write a new chapter in this journey of grief. I am beginning a journey of literally writing new chapters. If you have been around for the entirety of our journey you  know that I kept a blog to keep everyone updated on Noah and his prognosis, asking for prayers, etc. I have come to the end of the road with that particular blog, that place, even that kind of blog site. It’s time for a change. It is also time for me to take seriously the actual passion that is brewing underneath the surface of everyday “momming”, working, living… and that is sharing.

I want this new space to be one of sharing, teaching, encouraging and equipping people, probably mostly women, to carry out their calling, even in the midst of dark seasons, tragedy, loss, grief, hardship and trial. For when we can worship in the waiting, the darkness, the loneliness, we get to know the Father. We end up finding the heart.

We find our heart. We find His heart. We find the heart of the matter, the home, the family, the life we all desire. When we are really looking for it, we will always see it. Maybe we’ll see it in the oddest of places, like a Pediatric ICU or a funeral home, a homeless shelter or a local church, school classroom, work cubicle and kitchen table.

Join me on a journey to finding the heart in every day life. I imagine it is much easier to see the heart when we are reminded to look.

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This is not just something that I came up with to fill a void in my heart during a month that can be somewhat lonely. This truly is a movement of my heart that I want to share with you because I know we all want to be seen. We want to be known. We want to know that we are loved. When we find hearts, wherever and whenever it may be, I pray that they are a divine reminder of whose you are, where you are going and who is leading the way. These hearts aren’t just for me. They are for YOU.

I am excited to embark on this new journey of sharing my heart, my life and my love for Jesus with you. Each of us have a story, a testimony, a life to live before others as proof of grace. We get to witness each other in and out of seasons, growing, learning and pressing in to all God has for us.

I hope you can find this place to be a haven for your heart and soul. Pull up a seat on the couch with a blanket and a cup of coffee and rest awhile. Be encouraged and know you are not alone in any of this. Whether you find yourself grieving the loss of a child to simply just struggling to figure out what’s for dinner… I hope you know that God places us in each other’s lives for all the things. Let’s do life together!

Let’s find the heart together,

Shaina

He loved us, not because we were lovable, but because He is love. – C.S. Lewis