CS Lewis once said that "grief is like the sky, it covers everything." In recent weeks, our family has found that this is so very true. It seems that there is no right or wrong way to travel this path of grief. I have created this blog in hopes that some day we will be able to look back on our journey and see written proof that our great God never leaves us. God is good all the time.

Celebrating Laynee

You might want to scroll to the bottom of this page and pause the music before playing this video.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


I suspect that most of us who have come to know Jesus as our Lord are familiar with the aching that comes from longing for heaven.  For me that feeling comes most often when I see God's majesty displayed in his creation.  When I stand on an ocean shore, seeing and hearing the mighty, crashing waves, I see God's power and might.  A newborn infant's delicately formed features remind me of God's perfection.   As I walk through my flower beds in full bloom, I see his beauty. The crisp morning air, with the sun glistening off of our lake, reminds me of God's mercy. The sound of my children's laughter is a testimony to His love.  I am surrounded by his masterpiece but still there is an inward, inexplicable yearning for something more.  It is the absolute knowledge and awareness that life on this earth is incomplete.

Since Laynee was welcomed into heaven, this longing has been greater than I have ever imagined that it could be.  This life, which has always been incomplete, now has a wide, gaping hole.  Gazing at her pictures, as I so often do,  leaves me with an indescribable desire to be in heaven with her.  Perhaps Grant said it best the night after her visitation when he said, with quivering voice, "Mom, I can't wait to get to heaven!"

This desire for heaven is also felt during life's most difficult times.  On the days when life seems so void without Laynee, when my missing her becomes nearly palpable, I think hard on Revelation 21:4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be anymore pain for the former things are passed away. I think on this and I long to see and experience the fulfillment of the promises of this verse.  It is in these times that I whisper the prayer.  "Come quickly, my Lord."

In recent weeks there have been several saints, whom I know, who have been ushered into heaven.  An older woman, the grandmother of my dearest friend completed her race after many years upon this earth.  Just last week the father of our friends, a man who served our Lord in ministry and leadership for many years, joined his beloved wife in heaven. When I hear of the passing of a believer I am filled with a sense of envy that I have never before experienced. 

A couple of weeks ago my friend, Kathy and I were planning to walk together one morning.  About an hour before our scheduled meeting, her son called me to say that Kathy would not be walking as her dear sister, Jo, after a battle with cancer, was dying.  I was well aware that Jo's time was very near but this phone call made it clear that Jo was in her final moments on earth.  She was drawing her last breaths.  Her soul's departure from her exhausted body and entrance into heaven was mere moments away.  My heart was filled with sorrow for Kathy, whom I knew would grieve the loss of her sister. At the same time, my heart and soul was filled with the greatest sense of envy and longing that I have ever known.  Within moments Jo was going to see her Savior and, though I cannot pretend to know all of the mysteries of heaven, I am confident that she was also going to see my little baby girl.  Jo was crossing the threshold from earth to heaven, the place where she would be able to do the things that I so long to do.  She would laugh, sing and dance with my little Laynee.  I envied her. 

  My loyalties to my husband and children are very much in place.   It has not been lost on me, the importance of my purpose on this earth.  I am here because my God has placed me here, because he has a plan for me.  I gladly accept my duty on earth, which is to walk in his will and his grace, to be the best mother and wife that I can be.  However, I do so with the knowledge that Heaven is ultimately what I was created for.  I love my home here on earth, where my husband and children reside, but I am keenly aware that Heaven is my true home.  Perhaps it is best described as being Homesick. It seems that my heart beats to a  longing for something that I cannot see or even imagine.  Paul's letter to the Phillipians resonates within me:  Phillipians 1:21-24 For me to live is Christ but to die is gain.   If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far;but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 

There is comfort in knowing that this longing for something more has been present in the heart and soul of God's people throughout all of time.  If we read on from that familiar passage in Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen  we find that many of God's faithful servants experienced this same deep inner yearning.  Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Isaac:  all of them longed for something more than this land could offer.  Hebrews 11:16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. Our God desires that we long for heaven.   To long for heaven is to long for HIM.

In II Corinthians 5, Paul describes his deep desire for heaven as a "groaning" and in Psalms 84 David tells us that his soul "faints" for the heavenly courts.  This deep and passionate longing comes from knowing that whatever this life has to offer can never be enough.  It is an insatiable craving that can only be filled by heaven.  As I journey along this path of grief, as I see God's hand in every detail of my life,  my longing is deepened by an ever growing love for my Lord. 

I have little doubt that some who read this post will be confused by it's content.  It is simply impossible for those who do not believe on the Lord Jesus to grasp an understanding of such a longing.  Hope is what fuels this longing, hope and the knowledge that this life, filled with struggles and heartaches, is only temporary.  Without that hope, there can be no longing for heaven.  Even as a christian, it is beyond the scope of my ability, with tongue or pen, to fully explain how the pain of searing loss has deepened my own sense of yearning.  While I am here, until I get to see my Laynee and the place I so long for, I will praise him because I know that this is just my Temporary Home.

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him.
II Corinthians 2:9 

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Laynee's Daddy

Little girls love their mommy, without a doubt, but there is something extra special about a little girl and her daddy.  Laynee adored her daddy and the feeling was quite mutual.  I miss seeing them together.  I miss looking out the window and seeing that daddy had taken time away from his jobs to give her a ride on her golf cart.   I miss Sunday afternoons when daddy and little girl would walk hand in hand until her legs got tired and he would swoop her up into his arms.  I miss the fact that he would stand for long moments with her, looking at the chickens (bawk bawks) that so enthralled her.  I miss hearing her little feet running down the hall to his office.  I miss all the things that she would pull out of his office drawers and leave in a heap on the floor.  I miss seeing her dance in the bathtub to the silly song that her daddy made up about bath time.  Most of all, I miss the way she buried her face in his knees and lifted her arms, completely trusting that he would pick her up and squeeze her, kiss her, hold her.   Laynee knew her daddy loved her, that he would hold her forever, that he would never let her down. 

On this Father's Day I miss daddy's youngest daughter. 

Happy Father's Day Daddy!!

Night Terrors

Some nights the dreams come.  There is no rhyme or reason to when they come, but they do.  They are like a violent, physical assault against mind, body and soul.  More often than not the dreams are, in some way, pertaining to water.  Bath water, pool water or rushing river water but the result is always the same.  Every dream comes with a valiant, if futile, attempt to save my baby.  Every dream comes with the sickening realization that I've lost her.  Every dream comes with the clawing hands of desperation and agony. 

Typically, I awake to seemingly inhuman sounds that rise up from my soul.  It takes a few moments, with the fuzziness of sleep, to make the connection that the sounds are coming from me.  It also takes some time for the dream and it's hideous details to come together in my dream. Then real life slams into me with brutal force.  It's real,  not just a nightmare.  It is the cold, inconcievable truth.  Emotion and it's accompanying physiology hit me like a tidal wave as reality seeps in.   My soul feels as though it is being ripped from my chest.  My lungs ache and beg for air.   My stomach desires to purge itself of it's contents.  Unleashed screams build up in the back of my throat.  Every fiber of my being yells at me to do something but I am capable only of thrashing upon my bed.  The emotion, which is so difficult to express in light of day, comes mercilessly in the darkness.  The human soul demands, in one way or another, to have it's voice. 

The dreams leave me feeling exhausted and spent.  My head reminds me that it was a horrible dream, my soul knows that it is my reality.  Every mother's nightmare has, for me, become real life.

I will praise the Lord who counsels me,
even at night my heart instructs me.
Psalm 16:7

Monday, June 14, 2010

Heavy Emptiness

Sleep eludes me tonight.  I'm tired, the kind of tired that seems to penetrate into the marrow of my bones.  Yet sleep does not come.  My mind struggles with the brutal reality that I will not see Laynee again on this earth.  It is an inconcievable fact that my brain, my heart, my soul simply cannot fully grasp.  As I lay for awhile in the darkness, I found myself wondering how it is that I can feel so heavy and so empty at the same time.  Heavy and Empty:  by definition, they contradict one another.

The heaviness comes from the weight of grief.  My body is physically exhausted from the effort of going on when the natural flow of life has stopped, like working directly against gravitational force. I'm weary of trying to find something that remotely resembles  a new normal, when everything seems so wrong.  I am weak and the weight is crushing. 

The emptiness obviously comes from the vacancy that Laynee's abscence has left within me.  There is a wide chasm within my heart and her memory, her voice, her laughter echoes within.  The chasm cannot be filled, my heart remains cracked and broken, the damage irrevocable.  Adding to the heaviness is the awareness that, because nothing can fill the hole, I must build around the chasm, navigating the steep and rocky conditions.  My footing is uncertain, it is a path on which I've never trod and at times the emptiness feels as though it might swallow me. 

I've struggled lately, frustrated with myself for the fact that I continue to see loss when I have so much gain.  People remind me over and over that I have 5 beautiful, living children, as though somehow I might forget or perhaps that this fact should make the loss less painful.  I love and appreciate each of my children, I praise my God for them.  I GO ON for them.  But it is very difficult to be happy when I feel so sad.

In the midst of all the sadness, my lord is there.  There is no weight too heavy for him to bear,  no chasm so vast that he cannot span.  Though many may not understand, he does.  He knows that sometimes the hurt is too big for words.

  For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life,
nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers,
nor things present, nor things to come,
Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature,
shall be able to separate us from the love of God,
which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Nightmare Reminder

The headlines in the newspaper yesterday told of another drowning death of a child.   The body of a 5 year old girl was pulled from the Illinois River on Friday as her frantic family gathered around.  She had been playing with five friends near the river in an area close to her home. 

It is impossible to read such an account without memories of our own nightmare coming to the forefront of my mind.  One year ago I would have read this article with compassion.  I would have read it and said "that is awful".  I would likely have felt a bit sickened by the thought of losing one of my children in such a tragic way. I probably would have mentioned it to Jim but he would not have wanted to hear.  He never wanted me to tell him about tragedies involving children, saying "I can't stand the thought of it, I wouldn't be able to go on."  I would then have folded the paper and set it aside, probably uttering a world of prayer for this family.  I would have known though, that this is something that happens to other families, not ours.  Today I read this article and I am one of the "other families."  Nausea assaults me as I consider the painful journey that this child's mother has been forced into.  Now, instead of an uttered prayer, I have poured out my heart for mercy and grace for the family of this child. 

There were photos accompanying the artcile of the distraught family at the scene of the accident.  My soul fills with outrage towards the reporters who so heartlessly captured, with camera,  the grief and devastation of a family whose world had just crumbled around them.  It sickens me to think of the callousness of the media who will stop at nothing in the name of a good story.  I also feel gratitude that when reporters showed up at our house, there was someone here to deflect them, denying them the coveted photos and personal information.  I am thankful that there were no circulated photos of our griefstricken family. 

Though I cannot possibly know the details surrounding this accident, my heart swells as I know that while most will be filled with compassion,  there are those who will point fingers of accusation.  There will be those who will read the story and say "where was that mother?"  Undoubtedly there will be some who will consider this families social status and housing arrangement and assume that the child was not properly cared for.   People will speculate about what may have happened but the absolute unfathomable truth will be known only to those who were present.  I suspect that, similar to our situation, this family will undergo an investigation in which they will be forced to relive the details of the accident.  I also know that this family will punish themselves far more severely for the mistakes of that day than any other human or court system has the power to do.

My greatest sense of remorse for the family comes from the report that the mother had left the child in the care of another and that, reportedly, another child shoved the girl causing her to fall into the river.  My heart bleeds for the child on whom some may place a burden of responsibility.   Once again I am grateful that the circumstances surrounding our accident were such that blame could not be placed upon any one person. Forgiving another human being for the death of my baby is not something that I have had to deal with.   While I desperately wish that I didn't have to see her limp body in the pool, I know that it would be far worse to have to deal with feelings of blame toward another.

I opened my eyes this morning with a renewed heaviness for another mother.  I wept for her and I prayed for her. I prayed for grace that she may find the strength or even the desire to rise from her bed today.  I prayed that the powerful seed of bitterness might not take root in her heart.  I also lifted up 4 other mothers, Joan, Meredith, Angie, and Michelle,  none of whom I've met in person but all whom I know understand the pain of losing a child to drowning.   Above all things, I pray that this other mother has the hope that can only come through Jesus.  For I know that it is only the assurance of seeing our children again in heaven that sustains us through each new day. 

Rejoice with them that do rejoice
and weep with them that weep
Romans 12:15

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


This weekend is the annual Tremont Turkey Festival.  It is an activity packed weekend that comes around each year, the second weekend in June.  Thursday evening kicks off the events with the Miss Tremont Pageant.  The Turkey Festival is known for it's awesome injected and smoked turkey as well as it's huge strawberry shortcake and bed races.  All of the festivities will be wrapped up on Sunday afternoon with a parade.  For Tremont residents it is a weekend of hard work.  Our family will begin by helping set up on Thursday and continue helping throughout the entire weekend. 

As do most activities this year, the Turkey Festival comes with a heavy weight of sorrow.  Laynee was so adorable at the festival last year.  We took her and Moise on the carnival rides and she loved them.  I recall how she would wave every time the rides would pass the area where people were standing in line.  She barely had time to put her arm down and we'd pass by again and she would have to start waving again.  I can see her sitting in her stroller as I fed her from my strawberry shortcake.  I recall standing in line with her on Saturday morning as we waited for the pancake and sausage breakfast.  On Sunday morning we went to the community church service and she was a little restless. She loved the parade and couldn't get enough of the candy.  She stood in awe as "Bob the Builder" came up and shook her hand.   The memory of her sweetness this weekend is so vivid, I recall details down to what she was wearing.  My heart wrenches most as I picture, in my minds eye, her delight as she tasted her first lemonade shake up, and then her sour face as I gave her the lemon to try. 

The weekend will be filled with painful reminders of the emptiness that is in our hearts.  Happy, excited children will be everywhere, reminding me that mine is no longer with me.  I will hear the laughter of children and my ears will ache to hear that one husky little laugh that I haven't heard for so long.  On Friday the girls and I are working in the lemonade shake up stand and every lemon will have the image of Laynee's scrunched up face.  Shortcake will not taste as good as I will not be sharing it with her.  My lap will be empty on Sunday morning, void of a squirmy little girl. 

We will go.  We will work.  We will enjoy.  But it will not be the same.  It cannot be the same.  We will see many people whom we have not seen for a long time.  Old classmates often return for the festival.  Most likely I will have to answer the question "how many children do you have now?"  I may have to explain that my baby girl is in heaven.  Without a doubt I will have to answer the question "How are you?' from those who care and know not that it is an impossible question.  My heart will ache with sadness but I will do my best to enjoy.  I will be surrounded by people, friends of today and those from long ago, but I will not see the face that I so long to see. 

I love you sweet Laynee Grace.  I know your festival in heaven is much better that the hot, sticky Tremont Turkey Festival.  Your stroller is hanging on a hook in the garage.  I wish I could take it down and load it in the van for you.  I love you and miss you so much baby girl.

Monday, June 7, 2010


Today, June 7, is Laynee's nine month angelversary.  Nine months since my eyes have seen her beautiful, radiant smile.  I suspect that, for a very long time, the seventh day of every month will be significant in that it will be a painful reminder of that dreadful day.  It will forever mark another month without Jalayne. 

The number seven is also of great significance in that it is God's number for completion.   To one who reads and studies the scripture it is impossible to miss the special symbolic use of the number seven.    In Hebrew, the word seven (She' bah) is derived from the root word meaning perfect, complete, full or satisfied. The Word, which is God breathed,  begins placing special significance upon the number 7 in Genesis 2:2 "By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work." and continues to use this number until one final, climatic event in Revelation 16:17  The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air and out ofthe temple came a loud voice form the throne saying, "It is done." Without fail God uses the number seven to symbolize completeness and perfection, His ultimate satisfaction.

As we dig deep into God's word we find he uses the number seven repeatedly to show that he is God and that he is in control.  In Luke 8:2 Jesus casts  demons out of Mary Magdalene, the fact that there were 7 indicates that satan had total possession over this woman.  Still, satan was no match for our Lord.  In Exodus 21:2 we learn that Hebrew slaves were only to be kept for 6 years, on the seventh year they were freed.  In Joshua 6 we learn of God's complete destruction of Jericho as Joshua sends, among the Israelites, 7 priests, carrying 7 trumpets.  On the 7th day they march 7 times around Jericho and the walls of that city collapsed.  Jericho was finished.  In  II Kings 5, Namaan is cured of leprosy by dipping 7 times in the river Jordan.  Matthew 18:22 describes God's idea of perfect forgiveness, that we forgive 70 X 7 times.   God uses 7 in many various ways, for healing, as well as destruction.  Regardless of the context in which he uses the number, the result is always the same......complete, final, and perfect, exactly as he planned it. 

God used the number 7, not only to bring circumstances and situations to completion, but also in forming his perfect creation.  He created 7 great masses of land to complete the earth.   7 bodies of water were created and joined to form the one complete ocean. He created 7 colors with which to begin his perfect spectrum of color.   7 days were created to make a perfect week.   The music so often used in praise and worship comes from the 7 musical notes that he created.

The final book of God's word, Revelation, is saturatated with the number 7.  It begins with John's 7 letters to the 7 churches and tells of the 7 years of tribulation. There in Revelation we read of 7 seals, 7 trumpets, 7 bowls, 7 stars, 7 angels, 7 horns, 7 eyes, 7 kings, and on and on.  In this final book, God is wrapping things up, he is preparing for his final judgement upon the earth, until finally with the 7th angel he declares "It is done." 

Though the 7th of each month brings heartache to me, I find that I am grateful that God chose the number 7 for her.  There is comfort in this reminder that on September 7, God's work in Laynee was complete.  She was perfect.  She had accomplished all that she was sent to do.  I can only imagine the elation she must have felt when she realized that "it is done."  I love her so much, I miss her so much but God , with something as simple as the number 7,  reminds me that his work is never incomplete.  He does not make mistakes.  He does not have accidents. He is on his throne and he is good.