Sunday, March 1, 2015

Togetherness Writes A Bigger Story




To try and count the number of conversations I've had about my purpose would be comparable with trying to count the number of hairs on my head. I struggle for vision. I struggle for clarity. I long for both. I don’t want to merely exist. I also don’t want to live this life as if it is all about me. I want to make a difference. I want to see lives transformed. Where is my place? What is my purpose? How can I use the gifts I've been given?

Most of my conversations with myself end something like, “There are already a lot of people who write and speak. Do we really need one more book? Does speaking at an event even make a difference”? Discouraged and worn out from the never ending circle of words in my head I go on with my day but it won’t be long before the conversation once more begins. There has to be an answer to the reoccurring questions within. I don’t want to settle. I can’t settle. I won’t settle.

I don’t remember where I was but I do remember that the conversation ended different this time. People! Places! Experiences! Yes, it takes many people, many places and many experiences to bring about transformation. It takes many people, many places and many experiences to mold and shape a life. I’m just one person, at a certain place, creating an experience. It is possible that what I write and say will be the one thing someone needs to hear at that moment in time. It is possible that the experience I offer another is what they need to help them take their next step of faith.

Many people, many places, many experiences is such a simple truth that has greatly impacted my journey. It has freed me from the fear of being replaced and from the need to compare myself to others. The circling thoughts that kept me from taking steps toward living out my dreams have become fewer in number as the beauty of a bigger story has unfolded. I worry less about my purpose and dream more about what togetherness can accomplish. No longer do I feel desperate to discover what I need to do but I think more about how I can help others discover their dreams.

Sometimes my work day involves the mindless task of updating our database or other tasks that don’t require much concentration so I plug in my headphones and listen to music. But one day I chose to listen to a Ted Talk and then another and another. A woman who rowed across all four oceans. A man from Afghanistan risking his life to repair and create artificial limbs for war victims. Men walking to the South Pole. A woman sharing about her escape from North Korea.  I've been moved to tears, I've been inspired and most of all I've been reminded that life is a journey and we need many people, many places and many experiences along the way.

Togetherness is somewhat of a foreign concept. We live very “I, Me, My” centered lives. It’s up to me to figure out my path in life. It’s up to me to figure out how to get everything accomplished. It’s up to me to stay strong and carry on. It is my comfort that I try and secure. It is my future that I think the most about. It’s my time, my money and my choice on how I spend it. Thinking like this limits us. We think that investing and relying in ourselves will build a bigger and better life but in the end we find a much smaller story. We have put up walls so others can’t steal our ideas or try to get the credit for what we did. We cling to relationships and keep a closed circle in fear that someone might step in and replace us. We work hard to be set apart and noticed. Maybe we are not that conscious about the way we do these things but I think our culture influences us to live for the big “I, Me, My”.  But I’m finally discovering that it is really more about the “we and us.” I’m realizing it takes more than one person, more than one place and more than one experience. I’m learning that togetherness builds stronger lives and communities.

Maybe you have struggled with vision or clarity. Maybe you have asked how you can use your gifts. Maybe you have ended conversations by saying, “there are already a lot of (fill in the blank)_______, does the world really need one more?” I encourage you to consider that the answer is yes. Just because there are a lot of teachers doesn't mean that you shouldn't be one. You never know how you might impact that one student. Just because there are a lot of artists doesn't mean you shouldn't be one. Your art might just be the missing piece of beauty that another needs. I could go on and on because there are many people already doing many things. But mostly I want to encourage you to think about the bigger story. We are each one person, at a certain place, creating experiences. Together we help transform, mold and shape the lives of one another. Together we can write a bigger story.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Decaffeinated Dreams



Dreams differ from the everyday projects and tasks we accomplish. Don’t get me wrong a clean house, a homemade dinner, a freshly painted room and a thank you card written all bring a sense of accomplishment. I’m also not saying that these come easy. Sometimes the bathroom gets cleaned a few days later than it really should and other times popcorn seems to be the only thing I can manage to make for dinner. Everyday projects and tasks can feel just as daunting as the dreams we have inside but we find a way to get them done sooner or later. But many of us struggle to see our dreams become reality.  Most of our dreams are bigger than we are. They don’t come easy. They require thought. They demand perseverance. They frustrate us. They excite us. They necessitate sacrifice. They develop character. They change lives. They are worth it all.

Daydreaming about our dreams affect us much like a vanilla latte with an extra shot of espresso, first a high with a low not too far behind. Once the high wares off the low sets in as we consider the huge gap between where we are and where we want to be. Doubts in our ability, doubts in our calling, and doubts in our significance flood in trying to pull us down from the places we just imagined ourselves to be. How can we avoid the lows, ride the highs, and see our dreams come alive?

Dreaming big but starting small

Often times we dream big, try to start big and end with a big disappointment. We envision ourselves singing before thousands or picture our first book on the shelves of Borders. We see ourselves running a non-profit that changes the lives of millions. We see ourselves a few dress sizes smaller.  Dreaming big is exactly what we should be doing but we need to start small. I have fallen into the trap of dreaming big, starting big and ending big. Never getting very far in my dream making has left me with the feeling of defeat and a wagon full of doubts. I’m believing 2015 will be different. Mainly because this year I’m dreaming big and starting small. Instead of just imagining myself where I want to be I’m taking little steps day by day and week by week ensuring my dreams come alive.

On January 2nd Joe and I spent several hours writing down our dreams and goals for the year. Side note: this is the first time in our 8 years of marriage that we have ever done such a thing. We created amazing goals and I will share about that shortly but we also discovered that our communication skills have matured much more than we knew. Let’s just say that Joe and I have different ways of thinking. He’s a boy and I’m girl. He thinks in a straight line and my thinking looks more like scatter chart. We both get to where we want to go but our methods are very different. I think we found a happy balance between straight line and scatter chart thinking this time around. We actually had a lot of fun dreaming and planning together.

What did the balance between straight line and scatter chart thinking look like?
First we started by thinking in categories. Below are the seven categories we felt sufficiently encompassed our lives.

Professional
Physical
Spiritual
Emotional
Relational
Recreational
Financial

Secondly we took a few minutes to write down whatever came to our mind when we thought of each category.  For example I jotted down the following notes for professional: writing, speaking, blogging, Shaklee.

Thirdly we spent time thinking about measurable, specific, time bound and realistic goals.  I created concrete goals that could be measured rather than just saying “I’m going to blog more this year” or “I’m going to pursue speaking”. This involved figuring out how many free hours I have in my week. I found that after working full-time and allotting time for my other goals that I have about 8-10 hours to invest in my professional goals. I decided that every Sunday I will go to church early with Joe and spend that time (1 ½ hours) working on my blog. I allotted time on Tuesday and Thursday nights to work on my blogging and writing endeavors. Also I will spend an additional 2 hours on Saturday or Sunday to work on building my speaking ministry.  A friend let me borrow a curriculum she used to launch her speaking ministry and with each lesson I’m getting a step closer to where I want to be.

In the past I would have just said “I want to speak” or “I want to write.” Sometimes I wrote and sometimes I found opportunities to speak but I never reached the dreams that stirred within.

Being specific in my goal setting helped me realize that I had too many goals in my professional category. Originally I thought I would pursue being a part of Shaklee, a company I trust and have benefited from. I had talked with a friend about joining her team and sharing Shaklee with others but when Joe and I looked at the number of hours I had each week we realized I couldn’t do it all.

Eliminating one goal created room for quality time spent on my other goals. It doesn’t mean I can’t pursue Shaklee at another time but this year just isn’t the right time.  I’m learning. Slowly but surely I’m learning to do a few things well. I’m learning to dream big and start small. I’m learning the decaffeinated route may not seem as exhilarating but it keeps me focused and moving ahead.

Fourthly we wrote down our goals and displayed them. Everything we read mentioned the importance of writing down your goals and putting them somewhere so you will see them daily. We found matching frames and placed our goals on our night stands. I know, isn’t that cute? But hey we did it. They are there to encourage us, focus us, motivate us and help us remember that 2015 is the year to Dream Big.

I also decided to make a vision board at work. Printing off pictures that represent my goals and stringing them together so I could be reminded that by living one day at a time all my dreams are possible.





Fifthly we planned a time to review our goals. On the first Saturday every month we plan to take a few minutes to review how we are doing with our goals. This will help us see where we need to make adjustments, help us celebrate our successes and encourage us to keep on moving.


How did the first month go? Let me just say be prepared because writing down our goals somehow led to opposition from every direction. Both our cars ended up needing repairs. Our budget for car repairs was exceeded by five times what we allotted. I struggled all month with health issues and had to have a procedure that put our health care budget in the same shape as our cars. There are days when having goals and dreams made me a little angry. I just wanted to come home from work and give up. I wanted to sit on the couch, watch TV and not care about anything. I did that quite a few times. But I didn’t give up. Just this morning I realized God will never give up on us or our dreams. When we sit down he waits for us to get back up. Yes I had moments this past month that made me want to cry but I also took really good steps toward seeing my dreams come alive. I spent time writing. I spent time journaling. Joe and I went on a date. We rearranged our morning schedule so we could spend a few minutes with God. Most of the steps I took were small but I took them. I experienced the difference between just vaguely having dreams and having specific goals to reach my dreams. Specific goals that are time bound and measurable allowed me to see every little success I made along the way and that is enough to keep me dreaming big.

I didn’t mention this earlier but remember to pray. We spent time praying together before we worked on our goals. We also carved out 15 minutes each Monday to pray together before work. It’s easy to get caught up in trying to achieve our dreams and it’s also easy to try and be in control but this month’s craziness reminded me that no matter how much I plan and schedule I’m not in control.

Are you wanting to Dream Big? Do you want to avoid the lows, ride the highs and see your dreams come alive? I believe you can do it. Take a few hours this week to begin your journey of Dreaming Big & Starting Small.

1. Think in categories
2. Jot down the first thoughts that come to mind for each category
3. Create measureable, time bound, specific and realistic goals for each thing you jotted down (eliminate goals if you find you have too many and not enough time)
4. Write down and display your goals
5. Plan a time to review your goals

As I mentioned in my earlier post Resurrecting Your Dreams you never know how your dreams will influence your life or the world around you. Your Dreams might just change your world. Instead of an extra shot of espresso how about taking the decaffeinated route and move slow and steady through 2015.

Don’t forget that most of our dreams are bigger than we are. They don’t come easy. They require thought. They demand perseverance. They frustrate us. They excite us. They necessitate sacrifice. They develop character. They change lives. They are worth it all.




Sunday, January 18, 2015

Resurrecting Your Dreams



Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year the dreams surface to only get buried deep inside. Sometimes the dreams resurface and sparks begin to flutter in the darkness but the fire never seems to light. Other times the dreams get buried so deep that they never again see the light of day.  Why is it so? What keeps the fire from lighting so that you can live out your dreams? What does it take to resurrect dreams?

I’m tired of dreaming the same dream over and over and never seeing the fire light.  Are you tired of never seeing the fire light? Are you like me and longing for this year to be different? I want the fire to light and burn brightly. I want to live out the dreams that have resurfaced year after year. I want to see what kind of influence the fire will have on my life. How will its light and heat influence the world around me? Where will it take me? I’m dreaming big this year and believing that the sparks I see inside will light a fire that will never burn out.

For the last few years I’ve had a theme word.  Two years ago the word “enough” created a greater understanding in my heart and life about the truth that there will always be enough money, food, time, etc. But more importantly I ended 2013 with a deep peace believing that Jesus is enough. Last year the word “maturity” led me down paths that were difficult; paths I never wanted included in my life’s story. But looking back I see my roots of faith, hope and trust all grew stronger.  Can you guess this year’s word, “dream”. This past August we moved into a new apartment and feeling the need for a fresh new look I found myself at Hobby Lobby. On several occasions I came home with shopping bags filled with dream items. While unpacking I discovered that my new journal, which is a part of a journal series I bought three years ago, has dare to dream written on the cover.  It occurred to me that 2015 is my year to dream as I found myself sitting at home with my dare to dream journal on the table, the new “Dream Big” picture hanging in the kitchen, the “Do What You Love” sign at the front door entrance and the “Let Your Dreams Take You Places” canvas waiting to be placed on my desk at work.  But the biggest confirmation came at a time when I needed hope more than ever. Joe and I stood up front at the church receiving hugs from our friends and family who had come to celebrate Zoe’s life. Keileen, one of the girls in our youth group came up and gave me a great big hug. She then reached for her wrist, took off a bracelet and began putting it on my wrist. I stood speechless and then with a big smile I excitedly proclaimed, God is real. Ok I might have jumped up and down and let out a little shriek. Yes the bracelet said DREAM. Keileen bought the bracelet three years ago during a Kohls shopping trip we took together. On a day when my dream of being a mom to my little Zoe was coming to a close God showed up and reminded me that 2015 is my year to dream big.  



   

We’ve all experienced frequency illusion. You learn or notice something and then you start seeing it everywhere. With dream already on my mind it showed up early one morning as I read the book of Nehemiah.  “I was at the fortress of Susa. Hanani, one of my brothers, came to visit me with some other men who had just arrived from Judah. I asked them about the Jews who had survived the captivity and about how things were going in Jerusalem. They said to me, “The remnant there in the province who survived the captivity are in great distress and reproach, and the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates are burned with fire.” When I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying before the God of Heaven.” Nehemiah 1-1-4  Later Nehemiah goes on to pray and asks God to allow him favor with the king so he can return to Jerusalem and rebuild the city walls. Nehemiah had passion. Nehemiah had a dream that he would one day see the walls of Jerusalem rebuilt. Reading this part of Nehemiah got me thinking about passion.  When was the last time I was so passionate about something that I sat down and wept, mourned and fasted? Am I passionate about anything? I couldn’t stop thinking about Nehemiah’s response to hearing about Jerusalem. A deep longing in my heart surfaced, I wanted to be passionate. I wanted to know that I had a passion so great that I would mourn, fast and pray about it. Dreams that have surfaced year after year, dreams that are buried and new dreams began sparking within.  

How could this year be different? How could I keep my dreams from getting buried? What would it take for the sparks to catch fire so my dreams could burn bright?

I spent a few more days thinking about passion. I tried to pinpoint what I’m really passionate about. Passion is defined as a strong feeling of enthusiasm/excitement for something or about doing something. It hit me that dreams really are the same as passion. Dreams are often things we are excited about doing. They are things we want to see happen. I do have passion. There are quite a few things that I get excited about. There are things that energize me just thinking about doing them. But why do I struggle to do them? Why does it sometimes feel impossible to do the things that energize and excite me?

So I began to ponder another question. Why do we do the things we do?

Necessity
Fear
Boredom
Habit
Curiosity
Compulsion
Obligation
Passion
Love


1st step to resurrecting your dreams- Take time to think about why you do the things you do!

Have you ever stopped and thought about why you do what you do each day? What if the simple act of thinking about why you do what you do could change your future? What if knowing why you do things could be a part of seeing your dreams stay alive and burn bright? I recently realized that taking time to discover the why behind what I do creates more time and energy to invest in my dreams.  Like me you might find that some of the things you do each day are habits that suck precious time from your day. Reclaiming even twenty or thirty minutes a day could propel you closer to your dreams fulfillment. Letting go of things that are done out of fear might open space in your day for doing things fueled by love and passion.  

2nd step to resurrecting your dreams- Make a list of the things you don’t do!

In her book, Bittersweet, Shauna Niequist talks about the importance of creating a list of things you don’t do. Why do you need a list of things you don’t do? Because you only have so much time and energy in your day and each thing you do impacts your present and future. Deciding what you can stop doing each day will increase your ability to start doing the things you dream about.  I’m in the process of creating this list. I’m writing down the things I do because I feel I should do them even though I don’t enjoy them and truly I’m not that gifted with them.  I’m looking forward to seeing how having this list of things I don’t do will help me move closer to where I want to be at the end of 2015.



3rd step to resurrecting your dreams- Make a list of the things you love!

Sharing a few hours over lunch with one of the sweetest teenage girls I know. Snuggling up on the couch with a good book and a cup of tea. Running. Dreaming about the future with my husband. Talking with a co-worker about the day my baby girl was born. A salad with crisp romaine lettuce, chunks of avocado, feta cheese, craisins, breaded chicken bites tossed in homemade poppy seed dressing.  Playing board games with my parents.  Writing this blog entry. Just a few of the things I loved this week.

One more list to make. Listing out the things you love to do will help you shape your dreams. The dreams easiest to achieve will be the dreams fueled by love. Without knowing it we make dreams that really aren’t our dreams at all. They are other people’s dreams that we think we should fulfill. Or they are dreams we want to fulfill because we believe others will think favorably about us upon there fulfillment. But what if love is fueling your dreams? Love creates passion like Nehemiah had for seeing the walls of Jerusalem to be rebuilt. Love creates a passion so deep that you are willing to fast and pray to see your dreams catch fire and stay lit. Creating a list of the things you love just might resurrect that dream that has been buried deep inside.

It’s not too late to make 2015 a year where dreams come true. Carving out thirty to sixty minutes this week to make a few lists might just change the world. You will never know the influence your dream can have until you live it out.


In my next post, Decaffeinated Dreams, I plan to share a few more tips that are helping my dreams catch fire. I’d love for you to join me in this journey. Let’s dream big together and let our dreams take us places!




Sunday, January 4, 2015

"Unstuffed" Peppers


"Unstuffed" Peppers

Stuffed peppers are one of my favorite meals but I never feel like I get the peppers cooked to the perfect texture....so I decided to make "unstuffed peppers".  The verdict: easy and delicious! Cutting up the peppers and cooking everything together packed every bite with flavor.  

Not only is this recipe packed with flavor but it is also full of nutrients.  Peppers are loaded with Vitamin C, Vitamin A and you will get a double dose of protein with the quinoa and ground beef. 





Ingredients
1 Pound Ground Beef
3 Bell Peppers ( I used 1 red, 1 orange, 1 yellow)
1 Medium Onion - diced
1 Cup Quinoa (rinse well)
2 Cups Water
3 Tbsp Taco Seasoning
1 Tsp Crushed Red Pepper (optional)
1 Tsp Ground Fennel 
2 Tbsp of Butter or Olive oil
Salt to taste
Avocado

Homemade Taco Seasoning
2 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 Tsp garlic powder
1/2 Tsp onion powder
1/2 Tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 Tsp dried oregano
1 Tsp paprika
3 Tsp cumin
2 Tsp sea salt
2 Tsp black pepper


Directions

  1. Place rinsed quinoa and water in a medium pot, bring to a boil, reduce, and cover. Let cook for 15 minutes until water has been absorbed
  2. Dice bell peppers and onions
  3. Melt the butter in a large pan.  Add the onions and cook for 3-5 minutes. Add the peppers and cook for another 5 minutes or until the peppers are tender but still slightly crisp
  4. Cook ground beef until fully browned.  Add 3 Tbsp of taco seasoning, 1 Tsp of ground fennel, 1 Tsp of crushed red pepper and  1/4 cup of water. Cook until  the water is absorbed.
  5. Mix together the cooked quinoa, cooked pepper mixture and the ground beef
  6. Plate and serve with a side of avocado.





Thursday, December 11, 2014

Sweet Surprises

When Joe and I found out about Zoe's condition we began praying and hoping we would get to hold her while she was still living. God blessed us with 2 hours. She never cried or made any noise but her heart was beating, she tried to open her eyes and Joe felt her fingers moving as he held her close to his chest. These small signs of life brought such joy to us. The nurses were fabulous and allowed us to keep Zoe with us for close to 24 hours. I treasured every minute and thanked God for answering our prayers

 But I must admit that there have been a few times over the last eight weeks where I have said that one day was just not long enough. One day was not enough to hold her, to get to know her and to love on her. I have pictures of her on my phone, on my walls at home and on my desk at work. I still can't get enough of seeing her sweet little face. I take every chance I can to share about her with those who will listen.

 One of the thoughts that made me sad over the last few weeks was realizing that I only have one story to share about Zoe. It is a beautiful story of a gift God blessed Joe and I with for a very short time. But I thought about how other parents will have story after story to share about what their child does or says and so on. It brought tears to my eyes as I thought about how I only have one day to share about. I started thinking about how a time will come when I won't get to share her story as often. I thought about how I don't want Zoe to ever be forgotten.

 But God is good. I have received several sweet surprises that have reminded me that no matter how short Zoe's story is that she will never be forgotten and her life touched many.

Surprise #1: While talking with a friend at church I looked over and saw Andrew's guitar case. To my surprise Zoe's picture was taped right in the middle. I stood there so amazed and touched that he would put my baby girl on his case.



Surprise #2: After meeting with a friend I received a text message letting me know that when she got home she went into her daughters room and  found a picture of Zoe on her daughter's desk. Her text lifted my spirits and made me smile.



Surprise #3: Joe and I spent Thanksgiving  with my family in Indianapolis and one of the first things Gemma did was show us her little baby doll. She told us that she made a little bracelet for her baby just like the one Zoe had. She also told us that her baby was just about the same size as Zoe. I held back the tears as I listened to her sweet little voice talking about my little girl. My sister Amy told me that whenever Carter walks by the picture of Zoe he waves and says, "Hi Zoe".  Hearing these stories about Zoe made our first holiday without Zoe a little easier. She will always be a part of our family and will never be forgotten even by the youngest.



Surprise #4: I have been praying God would just open up Heaven and let me peek inside. I've been asking him to let me have a dream so I could see Zoe one more time.  Without my mom knowing this request she told me she had a dream of Zoe. She said my grandpa was holding her and dancing with her while my grandma sat nearby watching. She said Zoe was still a little baby but she no longer needed a hat. I still long to have my dream of Zoe but just hearing my mom talk about her dream was a bit of glory.

Surprise #5: Kyrie sent me this letter that she wrote to Zoe.

Dear Zoe,
            I remember when I first heard about you. Your mom told me that she was pregnant and I jumped up and down with excitement. It was news that I had been anticipating for a long time and it brought me such joy and hope in a time when those two elements were hard to find. I was very excited for your parents because I knew how much they wanted you, but I was even more excited because I could not wait to meet you. Zoe, your parents are incredible people. They have taught me more about selflessness, perseverance, and hope than anyone else in my life. Your parents have singlehandedly shown me a glimpse of what God’s unconditional love looks like, and it is beautiful. Zoe, your mom is a beautiful woman of God. She has always been there to listen to me talk about literally anything and offer her wisdom and grace whenever I need it. She has shown me what a woman devoted to the Lord should look like, and I strive to be like her. She inspires me to cling to Jesus no matter the circumstance, and no matter the cost. She cares for people so deeply, and continues to do so even when she’s almost burnt out and I can see the lines of sorrow and exhaustion on her face. I know she would have raised you and guided you in wisdom and grace, and she would have listened to anything you had to say. Your pain would have been her pain, and your joy would have been her joy. She would have celebrated your every victory, no matter how small, and she would have encouraged you any time you stumbled or fell. Zoe, your dad is the best earthly father that God could have ever given you. He would have made it his mission to show you the unrelenting, unselfish, unconditional love that God intended for a father to show his children every single day. He would have done everything in his power to protect you from harm and keep you safe. He also would have scared off every boy that tried to pursue you, which I’m sure would have kept him busy because of how beautiful you are. He means well, I promise.
You taught your parents how to love more deeply than they have ever known they were capable of, Zoe Faith. They’re going to be such good parents to your younger sibling, or siblings because of what they learned through loving you. I’m glad you’re with Jesus now, sweetheart. I praise God that you went from a world with people who love you so much, to a home with our Lord who loves you even more. I wish I could have met you and watch you grow into a beautiful woman. I wish I could have had the chance to walk with you through your struggles, like your mom walked through my struggles with me. I was excited to be apart of your life and I’m sad that I won’t have that opportunity, but I cannot wait to meet you in heaven and see how you’ve learned to dance with Jesus. Maybe you can teach me some of your moves.
            Zoe Faith, your precious little life has taught me so much, and inspired me in ways that I never expected. Thank you for that. Rest in peace little one, and enjoy wave after wave of the endless flood of God’s love for you.

Love you kiddo.

Love,

Kyrie


Sweet Surprises are around every corner and I'm thankful for them, they have carried me through some sad moments. God continues to use little surprises like these to remind me that He is faithful, loving and good. These sweet surprises have also shown me how blessed I am to have such a wonderful community of family and friends.

Joe and I made  Zoe a Christmas tree and took it to her grave site. We struggled not to burst into tears at Hobby Lobby as we walked around looking for little ornaments but the time we spent together making the tree proved to be very healing and encouraging. I can only imagine what Zoe's first Christmas celebration will involve.  Partying with Jesus and so many others!


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Dear Zoe Faith....Love Daddy










 Joe posted his letter to Zoe on his blog too but I just loved what he wrote to her and wanted it to be included on my blog.  I can't read it without tears filling my eyes.  I was so proud of the tender love and thoughtfulness Joe had towards Zoe.  He is an amazing Dad!


Zoe Faith,

 The most important thing I want you to know is that you are loved and wanted. I might have said that I wanted a boy, but I take all of that back now. Holding you, kissing you, looking at your beautiful little face completely changed my world. You are the most precious gift I could have ever received. Spending a lifetime with you would have been too short, but I am thankful for the time I did have to spend with you.

 When your mom first showed me the pregnancy test, I didn't believe it. The second line was just so faint that I thought we were reading it wrong. But the second test said the same thing…but I still didn’t want to get my hopes up. Then we went to the doctors and they confirmed it…but it still didn’t sink in. I don’t think that I really started to get excited until we went to the first ultrasound. I didn’t know what I was looking at, but there was definitely something alive and moving around inside of Jen. I heard your little heartbeat and I fell in love.

 I will never forget the day that we learned you had anencephaly. We went to the ultrasound so excited. I had convinced your mom that we didn’t need to know if you were a boy or a girl…that it would be more fun to just be surprised. The nice lady doing the ultrasound let us hear your heart…that was always one of my favorite times because it meant that you were still doing ok. Then she showed us your feet and legs, heart and hands. We were so excited to see you. You were moving all around making it sort of hard for the tech to get your picture, but we didn’t care because we got to see you.

But then the doctor came in and that’s when we found out that you weren’t doing as good as we thought. We found out that your brainstem wasn’t forming correctly and that your skull wasn’t formed. We were devastated. You were our child who we loved and had wanted for so long, but from the way the doctor explained it to us, you were probably going to die in your momma’s womb at any moment. They wanted us to stop your pregnancy right then…but we couldn’t even think of doing that. We loved you and we wanted so badly to meet you and to hold you in our arms.

And so we went home…I don’t know how we made it because I was crying the whole way. I didn’t know how many tears I could cry until that night. We loved you so much and we hadn’t even met you. We cried because of all the things we wouldn’t get to experience with you. I cried because I wasn’t going to be able to snuggle with you as you fell asleep. I cried because I wasn’t going to get to swing you around in the air. I cried because I wasn’t going to get to tie your little shoes. I cried because I wasn’t going to get to teach you to ride a bike or push you on a swing. I cried for all the memories we wouldn’t have with you on this earth.

But your mom had a wonderful idea and that was to take you to experience some of those adventures while you were still with us inside of your mommy. And so we went on a bike ride. We went to the zoo. We flew kites, we read you stories, we roasted marshmallows and had gluten-free s’mores. We even got to go to the ocean together.

I tried to give you a kiss every morning…I’m sorry for the times I forgot. I loved sitting on the couch next to your mother with my hand on her belly feeling you kick. Once you even kicked right where I was kissing. I believe that you knew I was there, you definitely knew when we got home because you would start to do summersaults inside your mom’s womb. There was that time when your mom fell asleep and it was just you and me and you kicked me so many times. I loved to feel you move, because it meant you were still there and that was our prayer, that you would be born and that we would get to meet you on this earth…and God answered that prayer.

It was just this last Thursday. Just another normal day. We went to the gym, got home and I was just eating my breakfast. We were supposed to leave for work in 15 minutes, but I guess you had a different idea. You mom calmly called me and told me that she thought we were going to the hospital. I really didn’t know what to do, but we got you there and man oh man, you were ready to come out and meet us.

I’ve never been so excited and scared in my whole life. I kept praying that you would make it and God answered that prayer. You exploded out into the world and there you were with us, our beautiful Zoe Faith. So beautiful, so small and so fragile. That was the best and worst day of my life. The best because I got to meet you, hold you and tell you how much I loved you. Worst because I had to say goodbye to you. I held you for so long. I felt you moving against my chest, I saw you trying to open your eyes and I will forever cherish every moment that we spent together. But you were not made for this world and you peacefully left this world. I was holding you in my arms and I didn’t want to ever let you go. But I had to.

Zoe, as much as I miss you and will continue to miss you I know you are somewhere where you are experiencing more love than me and your mom could ever have given you. I know that you are with Jesus and He is taking such good care of you. I know that you are in a place where your body and mind are whole, where you can experience everything you were created to experience and I know one day I will get to hold you. Once day I will get to tie your shoe, one day I will get to snuggle you to sleep, teach you to ride a bike and play with you. Right now we are apart and that hurts me so badly, but you are in such a better place, a place where you will never have to experience sin, loss and death again. You will never have to experience the ugly things that happen on this earth. You will only experience the perfection and love that you were created for. You are with a Father that will never fail you like I would have, you are with a family that will never let you down and one day, your mom and I will be with you there. Until that day, Zoe, know that you are loved, wanted and missed.

Father, I know that Zoe is experiencing your perfect love. Hold her tight against your chest, whisper in hear ears how much you love her and tell her how much her earthly parents love her. Keep her close to you. I know you will take such good care of her…better care than I ever could have. Thank you for the time that you did let us have with her…she is so special. We will miss her so much. But thank you for entrusting her to us for the time we did have. We love you and trust you Father.

Amen

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Dear Zoe....Love Mommy



We had a beautiful memorial service for Zoe. We treasured the opportunity to let everyone meet our sweet Zoe and we both agreed that there was something so special about letting everyone see her preciousness. . She looked like the cutest baby doll. It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do but at the same time it brought so much healing.   Joe and I both wrote a letter to Zoe and read them at the service. 


Dear Zoe Faith,

There are so many adventures I had hoped to have with you and so many stories I longed to share together. Our time together here on this earth was far too short but I want you to know that your life touched me, changed me, encouraged me, healed me and enabled me to dream again.

Zoe you are so loved. The day I learned of you I began praying this prayer, “Dear God please let this little baby you are blessing me with know love from the very beginning, let him or her know your perfect love, let Joe’s love and my love be felt even now as he or she grows within”.  I would have loved more time with you so I could have showered you with my love but I find hope and peace knowing that God heard my prayer and let you enter His Perfect Love already.  I can only imagine what you must be experiencing, being in the presence of your Heavenly Father.  I have had images of you and Jesus dancing in the sunflowers. He is holding you up in the air and the sun is shining so brightly upon you.  Can’t wait to join you in the dance.

Zoe your daddy is an amazing man. His love for me is so incredible.  I fell in love with him so quickly because he treated me like a princess and I know you would have felt like his little princess all the days of your life.  Your daddy is so fun and knows how to make everyone smile.  He is the one who taught me to play again, to have fun and relax.  My absolute favorite time of each day over the last eight months was when he would bend down, lift up my shirt, say “Zoe, Zoe… I love you” and give you multiple kisses.   Watching him hold you, give you a bath and dressing you when you were born ranks up there in my favorite moments.  He was so tender with you and made me so proud. I can’t wait for the two of you to play together when we are all reunited. 

Zoe I had the unique privilege of growing up in a family where love abounded. There was never a moment in my life when I did not feel loved.  Your grandparents are the most generous, loving, servant-hearted people I have ever met and they tenderly care for me even to this day.  I so wish you could have gotten to experience their love on this earth, it would have been a little taste of heaven on earth because their love is just that pure.  My three sisters are the best sisters any girl could ask for and I know they had hoped to watch you grow up just like all the other adorable kiddos God has blessed our family with.  Our family is filled with Grandmas, Grandpas, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins galore and love flows freely amongst us all. I hope you are able to feel all of the love that we all have for you.

Lastly Zoe I want you to know that Jesus is my best friend and Savior.  There was a time when I was a teenager and life got hard and I grew so sad.  I didn't know what to do with the feelings inside and sadly I thought death was my only answer.  All hope had been lost but my family did not give up and they all met together with the doctors to let me know I was dying. On that day I looked out the window and say a single flower and I realized that I didn't want to die but I wanted someone to show me how to live again. So I listened and went to treatment.  I grew a little stronger with each passing day.  My parents let me go to college and during the second week I met a girl who took me to a Christian group on campus.  I was amazed by how joyful and happy all the people were.  They had something my heart longed for.  The next day a lady name Ana Arias called me and asked if I had time to meet with her.  I agreed and that is when she told me God created me with a purpose and that he sent Jesus his only Son to live the perfect life and then die on the cross for my sins and that he then rose again so that I could have eternal life and have a relationship with God.  That news changed my life forever.  Since that day I have known the deep abiding love of God that I know you are now experiencing.  Please tell him thank you for me and give him a big for me.  He saved my life and made it possible for me to be your mom.  He showed me how to live life and love it.

Zoe I will love you forever, I will cherish every minute we shared and I will never get enough of looking at the pictures I have of you.  You are beautiful beyond description.  You have the sweetest little nose and lips.  Your little hands are perfect and I couldn't get enough of holding them. I loved holding you and I will forever hold you in my heart.  Thank you for giving me the privilege of being your mommy.

Hugs and Kisses,

Your Mommy

Mommy's Little Girl


Can't Get Enough Of This Sweetie Pie