Thursday, March 29, 2012

"Where Mourning and Dancing Touch Each Other"

Based on the title of my blog, I thought yesterday's Bread for the Journey reading from Henri Nouwen was appropriate. :)

"[There is] a time for mourning, a time for dancing" (Ecclesiastes 3:4). But mourning and dancing are never fully separated. Their times do not necessarily follow each other. In fact, their times may become one time. Mourning may turn into dancing and dancing into mourning without showing a clear point where one ends and the other starts.
Often our grief allows us to choreograph our dance while our dance creates the space for our grief. We lose a beloved friend, and in the midst of our tears we discover an unknown joy. We celebrate a success, and in the midst of the party we feel deep sadness. Mourning and dancing, grief and laughter, sadness and gladness--they belong together as the sad-faced clown and the happy-faced clown, who make us both cry and laugh. Let's trust that the beauty of our lives become visible where mourning and dancing touch each other.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Great is thy faithfulness

Strength for today
And bright hope for tomorrow

Those are my prayers this week.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

six years

My dear Jackson boy,

SIX YEARS OLD???? Impossible. But it's true! You have been blessing us with your life for six whole years. And WHAT did we ever do without you in our family? I'm not really sure.

Six years ago, at 1:36 in the morning, you FINALLY entered the world and made me a mom. And we have SO enjoyed what you have added to our family. You are funny, and artistic, and so sweet and sensitive. You always have the most witty comeback or a hug at the perfect moment.

And MY, you are a tall drink of water. :) You're a kindergartner now, but I'm pretty sure you're the tallest in your class. It's pretty awesome! And speaking of kindergarten, you are so smart. It's just amazing to watch you learning how to read and telling us all about the new things you're learning. The other day in Michaels, you picked up a wooden ball and said, "I know what shape this is." Expecting to hear "circle," I said, "Cool, what is it?" And you said, "A sphere." :) You went on to tell me all about cubes and cones and cylinders. Smarty pants.

This year was your first "friend" birthday party. On Saturday, you and seven friends celebrated outside on the deck (thank you, unseasonably warm Minnesota March) with pizza, games, crafts, and cake. It was awesome, and it is so cool to watch you with your friends. You can be quite the comedian!

I adore your sensitive side and I hope it never goes away. You care so deeply about others. Your heart is so beautiful and I love the way you love. Your sister, who is definitely your biggest fan, also appreciates your tender heart. :) That's not to say you never argue, but you really are great friends and it's so fun to watch.

So, my dear boy, here's to another year. Twelve months to watch you continue to grow and mature. We love you SO much and are so grateful that you are in our family. Happy SIXTH birthday, buddy!


Saturday, March 17, 2012

The (almost) Birthday Boy!

Could someone please tell my BABY boy to stop posing next to a cake with a SIX on it? Because if he thinks he's actually SIX years old, well, that's just impossible.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Audacity of Hope

I've had hope on the brain since I posted the song yesterday. And then I visited Angie Smith's blog this morning and I just have to share her most recent post with you.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Ah, spring

Just a week after that glorious snowfall, we've had a couple of lovely warm days. Today got into the mid-60s and this is the 5-day forecast:

Heavenly, right? My mom and I were talking about it today--it's days like these that promise hope. Usually it's after a long, hard winter. But even after this "fake" winter we've had, the hope of spring is still a magical thing.

Nichole Nordeman has a song called "Every Season" and the spring verse is so wonderful and hopeful:

"And everything that’s new has bravely surfaced
Teaching us to breathe
What was frozen through is newly purposed
Turning all things green"

I feel like this verse. Bravely surfacing after four months of a frozen, buried state. Learning to breathe.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

So, I got a tattoo

I've actually wanted to get a tattoo for a while, and I knew I wanted it to be something to do with peace. "Erin" is actually derived from the Greek word for peace (Eirene) and I've always loved that. When I decided that I wanted a "peace" tattoo, I felt like I had to wait for the perfect time in my life when I felt at complete peace and all was well in my world. Well, THAT never happened. ;)

Then we lost Hannah. And even though it was one of the most tragic events in our lives, there was an overriding feeling of peace. The moment the ultrasound tech left the room and Dan prayed for peace, peace came. And it truly was the peace that passes understanding. Because there was no logical reason that I should have felt anything but sadness and despair and anger. And we still felt those things. But God always brought us back to peace. To a promise that he is in control and is a big God who knows our hearts and faithfully carries us.

Then Carly Marie, the woman who writes lost babies' names in the sand, created the peace dove sand drawing (as seen on the memorial service invitation). And I loved it. So I took the picture to an appointment at Beloved Studios a couple of weeks ago and my artist Sarah drew a couple of possibilities for me, incorporating the kids' initials. So when I got there on Thursday, she showed me a couple of things and made a few adjustments and it was perfect! It was also really important to me to have this done on Hannah's due date. It's obviously a very significant date and I felt like I needed to do something big on (or around, because I certainly don't birth babies on their due dates) this date.

That's my story. And here's my ink. :) (It's on my inner forearm).

Saturday, March 03, 2012

letter to Hannah

I read this at Hannah's memorial service this morning.

My dear Hannah girl,

Your due date was this week. The day that I have anticipated since we knew you were growing inside me. As soon as we knew you were on your way, I wondered about a lot—like how close you’d come to Jack’s birthday. I wondered how long I’d be in labor with you. I wondered whether our first “surprise” baby would be a boy or girl! I wondered if you’d have hair. I wondered how big you’d be. It never occurred to me to wonder if you’d actually make it to your due date. To wonder if we’d have the privilege of bringing you home from the hospital. To wonder if you were anything but absolutely perfect.

I think it’s safe to say that our lives changed forever on November 3rd. To find out that you were not going to join our family on this earth after all. To find out that for some reason, God chose to take you to heaven before you got to be ours. To find out that the only time I’d have to hold you, you’d already be gone. You see, God had bigger plans for you. Unfortunately for us, those plans didn’t include life on earth. And something that brought me peace from day one was knowing that there is a much bigger picture that we can only see a part of. God sees it all.

Your tiny body was placed in my arms at 2:05 am on November 5th, and I couldn’t believe how small you were. But you need to know that even though you weighed less than one pound, your weight in this world was significant. Your life mattered. And with all due respect to my other babies, you were the most beautiful baby I’d ever seen. You might not have had a perfect button nose or chubby legs. But you bore the image of the One who made you. And that, my dear, is where true beauty lies.

In the four months since we said hello and goodbye, we’ve missed you so much. It’s amazing the depth of pain and loss we feel for someone who never even took a breath in this world. But it’s not just mourning the 23 weeks of your existence. We’re mourning the hopes and dreams that we had for you. You were going to be our third and final baby. You were going to be a baby sister to Jack and Leah. You were going to grow into a beautiful young woman and have babies of your own someday. We are missing out on not knowing your personality. Your quirks. Your fears and dreams. We will miss getting to know you. We will miss reading to you and singing with you.

Your brother and sister love to talk about you. Jackson wants to know if you are an artist like him. Leah wants to know what color your eyes are. She’s pretty sure they are blue like hers and Mommy’s. She loves holding our Hannah bear. She sings to it and talks to it like she’s talking to her baby sister.

Our lives have changed and our hearts are sad, but we know deep down that you’re the lucky one. As one of my favorite new songs says, “I can’t imagine heaven’s lullabies and what they must sound like. But I will rest in knowing heaven is your home and it’s all you’ll ever know.” You will never know the pain of this world. Heaven, in all its perfection, is the only home you will ever know! And you get to hang out with the One who MADE you! His was the first face you saw. And as He holds your hand, he also carries us and holds us close. God is good, Hannah Marie. He is so good.

A friend asked me a hypothetical question a couple of months ago. Would we ever go back and change our circumstances if given the chance? To decide not to carry you if we knew from the beginning that you wouldn’t be ours forever? My answer was “Of COURSE not!” I got to spend 23 glorious weeks carrying you and loving you and learning from you. And you taught all of us so much in your short life and death. You taught me how to be brave. You taught us what it meant to feel peace in the midst of despair. To actually comprehend the peace that passes all understanding. You taught me how to love more deeply. You taught me how to be a better mom to Jack and Leah. Thank you.

And now, could you do me a favor? Could you go find my Mimi and give her a kiss? And my Poppa? And Grandpa? And Uncle Robin? And could you go hug Julie? And Michele? And Marie? And Nick? And if you need some playmates, go find Dana, and Isaiah, and Grace, and Brendan, and Ethan, and Abigail, and Eve, and Noah, and Chase, and Joshua, and the countless other babies who left entirely too soon.

Psalm 27:13, 14 I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord. Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

Hannah Marie, I love you.

Thursday, March 01, 2012


These fingers.

These fingers should be wrapping themselves around mine right now. They should be strong and connected to a perfect baby body who lived in me for nine whole months.

Love my girl. Wish we were spending her due date in anticipation of her arrival. ♥