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.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Perspective

Our anniversary didn't exactly turn out quite like one would imagine spending their 20th anniversary.  Yet tonight, as I reflect back over the day's events, I can only smile as I realize how dramatically our perspective has changed in the last year.  Our Lord has stretched us to what seems like a near breaking point, and in so doing, has made us much more resilient to the every day challenges that ordinary people face. 

What would normally have been great frustration, began around lunch time as I went out to mow the lawn.  I got on the mower, fully prepared to spend the next few hours mowing but the mower would not start.  Jim came home a few moments later, with very little time to spend trying to start the mower and his efforts were unsuccessful as well.  Our property consists of 8 acres so I cannot come home and quickly mow the yard.  With a packed schedule tomorrow and Saturday and the ever shortening days, I really have no idea when I will find the time to mow the yard.  This situation, in addition to the mower that needs work, would have left me in quite a tizzy a little over a year ago.  I would have spent more than a little energy stressing over this.    Today, however, it didn't even phase me.  I walked away from the mower  and took a walk with my friend.  I am fully aware that the grass is badly in need of being mowed but I know also that it will get mowed sometime and this is such a minor inconvenience in the big picture of life.

Our being stretched continued as Jim and I went out for dinner to celebrate our anniversary.  Grant had offered to babysit Moise and take him to Walmart with him, which we greatly appreciated.  Jim and I enjoyed a quiet meal at Chili's.  As we got in the car to come home, we immediately noticed that something was wrong.  Our tire appeared to have been punctured and was flat as a pancake.  We went to work changing the tire, only to find that the spare, which had never been used by us, refused to be removed from it's storage under the car.  It appeared that the bolt, used to secure the tire in place, had been stripped and refused to come loose.  Fortunately, my dear friend Karen, offered to come pick us up and bring us home.  Jim will fix the tire tomorrow and all will be well.   It is not lost on me that this situation, in conjunction with the lawn mower situation, would have seriously taxed me before Laynee's accident. Today I was able to laugh all the way through both of these situations, completely unruffled by either of them. 

Tonight, at the close of this day I am fully aware that none of these things matter in the grand scheme of things.  They are nothing more than things, a yard, a lawn mower, a tire, a car, all of them easily replaced, none of them worth fretting over.  God, through the death of our child, has altered our priorities and our perspective about life.  We have learned that there are situations in life that cause headaches and irritations.  There are also those situations which cause deep heartache.  Today's events did not cause even the slightest pain to our hearts.

 It is all a matter of perspective. 

ALL WE WANT

This day 20 years ago was a beautiful, warm Sunday afternoon.  The air was warm but there was a crisp breeze and the smells of fall permeated the air.  There was not a cloud to be found in the sky.  I can say this with great confidence because it was the day that Jim and I were married.  September 30, 1990 we made vows to each other and to our God to be true and faithful to one another.  We promised to be together through good times and bad, in days of want and plenty, in sickness and in health, and through joy and sorrow.  There is one particular thing that was said at our ceremony that I have carried close to my heart for all of these years.  The minister who was marrying us told a story of a small child who was asked to recite the 23rd Psalm.  The little girl, in total, complete innocence stood up and began......."The Lord is my shepherd, that's ALL I want"

The only word that I can come up with to describe our 20 years together; and it seems pathetically inadequate, is "beautiful."  These years have not been perfect.  We have certainly not lived a fairy tale, text book version of marriage.  However, we have found that it is the acceptance of each other's imperfections and the perseverance through trials that make marriage so incredibly beautiful.  Jim and I have made mistakes.....big ones......sometimes in regard to one another, sometimes in other relationships.  At times our mistakes have been of a financial/business nature, at times our mistakes have been in our parenting.  We have had times when our faith has blossomed and flourished, as well as times when we allowed our faith to become weak and stagnant.  All of these things, the joys, the sorrows, the sunny days and the stormy nights have worked together to make a beautiful marriage union. 

My heart is grateful that 20 years ago there was no magic window that  would allow us to see into our future.  As we dressed and prepared for our wedding, we were naive and idealistic,  perhaps even painfully ignorant.  I think that if we could have seen what lay before us, we would have turned away and said "No way, we can't do that."  Indeed, I think that we would have said that "we WON'T do that."   Yet God, in his infinite wisdom, kept these things from us.  He did not allow us to see that we would have four beautiful biological children.  He did not tell us that adoption would be a part of our future.  He so wisely withheld the fact that severe disabilites would be our life. We didn't know that we would be blessed by Down Syndrome or that it would be snatched away from us in one breath.  All of these things have come to us like waves on the sea: at times soft and gentle, while at other times, fierce and crashing. 

Our Lord has stood by us through the mountains and the valleys.  He has granted us mercy in the face of our many mistakes and grace in the times of great trials.  Jim and I have slipped many times, we have often lost sight of our Lord, but He, in his great love, is not letting go of us.  He holds onto us when we think we're bigger than we really are and he shows us the way when we are lost.  He has kept us faithful to one another, and has used great trials to help us see that our marriage is a gift.  He has grown us together.  

Today, on our 20 year anniversary, I stand in awe of  how our God has used the death of our beautiful little girl to strengthen us against all odds.  Jim has been my rock and my comfort through this most treacherous storm.  Though we've lost sight of this from time to time, "the Lord is our shepherd, that's all we want."


What therefore God hath joined together
let not man put asunder
Matthew 10:9

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

More Blogging

One of my greatest frustrations since Laynee's accident is my inability to focus.  I'm not sure if it is a result of grief or the trauma but I have a very difficult time staying on task.  Anyone who knows me well, knows that this is very unusual for me as typically I am a very focused, purpose driven person.  One of my favorite leisure past times is reading.  However, this problem with focus has even affected my reading enjoyment.  I cannot read even a few sentences of a good book without becoming distracted.  I have been given several books since the accident and I have enjoyed all of them, but I have to read them in short segments.  The same is true with watching movies.  Occasionally we will rent a movie on the weekends to watch as a family but I cannot keep forcused in order to follow the storyline.  Needless to say, this is extremely frustrating. 

The one thing that I am able to do and that I enjoy doing, is to write.  Often I begin writing with one very simple thought and from there, the words seem to pour out of me.  As I am not one to express myself well verbally, writing has often been my only outlet for all of the feelings and emotions.   Sometimes I think that writing is the one thing that keeps me from slipping over the proverbial edge of sanity.

I come here, to Laynee's blog, and I share many of the emotional and spiritual experiences that we have had on this road of grief.  It has become a sort of sacred place for me,  a window into some of our deepest thoughts and feelings.  I have shared, and in so doing, preserved many of the beautiful memories that we have of our beautiful little girl.  The blog has become a chronicle of our journey through the valley of the shadow of death. 

 I have come to love and appreciate so many people that I have met through blogging.  However, it has occurred to me that the only part of us that my blog friends know, is the grief and sorrow.  There is no denying the fact that the sadness seems to flow over into nearly everything we do.  However, there is  much more to the Holmes Family than sorrow.  In spite of the grief, we have a very normal, exciting life.   We have failures and imperfections as do most families.   We also have a great deal of happiness and excitement in our house full of teenagers.  There is never a dull moment.  Because I do not wish to use Laynee's blog to share the events of our normal, everyday life, I have decided to begin another blog.  My main purpose in doing this is that it is an excellent way to keep record of events that take place in our life.   I have decided to go ahead and open my blog up to anyone who would like to take a peek at the very normal life of  "The Holmes Family."    I'm still attempting to work out some to the glitches in the format, so please try to overlook the fact that some of the words and pictures do not line up just right. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Missing Nothing

Yesterday another blogger posted about the fact that her son had a loose tooth.  This is a rather ordinary thing, I suppose, but this was his first loose tooth.  That fact makes it infinitely more important, does it not?  Even more significant is the fact that this young man was born a twin but at the age of 3 years, the twin began his perfect life in heaven.   In her blog, this mother asked the question "I wonder if Joel would have had a loose tooth too?"  

Upon reading this one simple sentence, I was struck by the realization that there is no end to the "firsts."  Our family has spent the last year living out all of the firsts without Laynee:  first Christmas, first birthday, first summer, first angelversary.   Those are the events that many people think about.  There are so many other firsts that will go unnoticed by everyone but us.  She will not experience her first day to kindergarten, her first school program or her first dance.  I will not take pictures of her first bus ride or sign her first report card.  She will never have her first loose tooth and I will never hear her sing "I have a loose tooth..........a wiggly, jiggly loose tooth."

It's easy to think on these things and feel as though I'm missing out on those all important firsts.  However, if I allow God's word and His sovereignty to penetrate my heart and my mind, I know that I am not missing out anything.  God ordained her life to contain exactly 2 years, 7 months and 7 days.  When he created her he never intended for her to go to school, ride the bus or have lose a tooth.  He intended for her to experience heart surgery, take her first steps, speak her first word and celebrate her first birthday.  I never missed a single one of her firsts.  I was here, praying over her, holding her in my arms, cheering her on and rejoicing in every moment.  She is not away, in the care of another human being and experiencing all of the usual firsts. I was here when she made her exit from this earth.  She is in the presence of her creator, experiencing that which the human, mortal mind cannot fathom.  I stand in awe to think that someday our roles will be reversed and she will be there to celebrate as I take my first steps into heaven. 

With everything in me I wish that she could be here to have all of her "firsts" but because she is heaven, I know that there is nothing that I am missing out on.   

Man's days are determined;
 you have decreed the number of his months
 and have set limits he cannot exceed.
Job 14:5

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pay it Forward

                                                   

Special Thank You "butterflymom" author of the blog "On KK's Butterfly Wings" for passing along the One Lovely Blog Award to me.  If I understand this correctly, my job from here is to pay it forward to 10 of my own favorite blogs.

This is a difficult task for me as I have come to love so many blogs.  I have found much comfort in the words of others. Before Laynee's accident I didn't even know that such a thing as blogging existed but now have found strength through reading how others navigate through grief.  I have found a special connection with many from the blog world.  There is safety in anonymity and yet, with all of these women I have found a common bond, a thread that joins us together from all different parts of the country. 
I have come to care deeply for many bloggers who have children with Down Syndrome.  Through their blogs I am able to watch the growth and developement of their beautiful children, longing for Laynee but rejoicing in the milestones of those still here.

I also find encouragement and advice from mother's of children with other, non DS, disabilites.  These women share in the challenges that we face daily with Moise. Seizure disorders, irregular sleep patterns, IEP (individualized education plan), Cerebral Palsy, Hearing Impairments, walkers, wheel chairs, choclear implants,  I can seek advice about it all from my blog friends.

Still other blogs I read for the simple fact that their lives appear so incredibly normal.  No child loss, no disabilities, just normal,every day life. I tend to be drawn toward those who's lives, by appearance, are not picture perfect. I am better able to connect with those who, like me, are just trying to make it in a world of imperfection.   One thing that I share with all of the blogs I read is a love and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Some, like myself, have had their faith shaken at it's very core.  Some struggle to find purpose in what God has allowed in their life.  Other's seem "unshakeable." I learn from all of them.

I have decided that I want to pass this award on to those who are walking along beside me on the grief journey.  It was this thing called grief that first led be to begin blogging and it is because of these women that I can recognize the road signs along this path.  Some have been on this road longer than I, others have just stepped into the "ugly shoes" of infant/child loss.  Some are angry at the injustice of life and we all understand this. There are those whose children never took one breath on earth and those who held their little one for only a few hours.  Some of the children struggled with lengthy illness, others were here one moment and gone the next.  Some of these mother's share with me the horror of finding their child lifeless.  Regardless of all the little details each of these, my blog friends, share one common bond......our children were beautiful and we miss them with every beat of our hearts. We are mother's whose hearts and souls have been left with searing pain the day our babies were taken before we were ready to give them back. 

Thank you to those who, through your own sorrow, have helped me to understand and stand up beneath my own.


Here are the rules
1. Accept the award and post it on your blog with the name of the person who has granted the award and his/her blog link.
2. Pay it forward to 10 other bloggers.
3. Contact those blog owners and let them know they have been chosen.

1. A Little Slice of Heaven
2.  A Piece of the Pearson's
3.  A, B, and C's Mom
4.  The Big Picture
5.  She is Our Angel
6.  Beauty Will Rise
7.  Missing Mark
8.  Keeping Up With the Joneses
9.  Waiting for Morning
10.  A Daily Scoop

Running on Empty

I have sat here, at the computer, countless times in the past few days.  My heart is heavy with much that I wish to say, yet words fail me.  It seems as though anything  I could say would be redundant.  I have expressed the feelings of my heart in every way that I know how.  There are only so many ways to say that it hurts, that I miss her, and that I want her back.

  I have posted most of the pictures that show how beautiful she was.  I have told the stories of her radiant personality.  I have shared the memories of her spunky, mischevious side. The pictures, stories and memories are of a limited supply.   Suddenly I find that there is little left to tell, a testimony to the fact that our time with her was far too short. 

The pain continues, much like a throbbing, pulsating headache that will not quit.  It is, in many ways, less messy and chaotic.  Tears are no longer a daily occurrence.  In fact, at times it seems that my supply of tears has run dry.  Still, the pain seems to become deeper, more ingrained into the fiber of my being with each passing day.   It also becomes more intensely personal and more difficult to express or share.   As days turn into months and the months a year, as lives move on, as our tragedy becomes a part of history, my own sorrow and sadness becomes increasingly private.

I recently had someone tell me that I "must be doing better" because my blog posts are not to being written with as much frequency.  The truth is that I still wonder if we are going to make it through this.  I often question the old adage "God will never give you what you can't handle" and I think that maybe we really cannot handle this one.  I know that God is good and that he will never leave us nor forsake us.  I KNOW it, but more often than not, I do not FEEL it. 

Some days it feels as though I am running out of things to help me cope.  How many times have I pressed my lips to her photos?  I've knelt at her grave too many times to count.    Her scent remains on only her pink blanket and her bear.  I live in fear of the day her scent is no longer there, often resisting the urge to hold it close to me, fearing that too much handling of it will transfer my own scent to it.  I've rubbed her hair swatch against my cheek and placed my hand over her hand print.  I've done everything I can think for some feeling of comfort, only to find that all of these things are temporary, the pain never leaves.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Refiner's Fire

My grandfather was a blacksmith.  Though I was young when he passed away, I remember him well.  He was small in stature but great in strength.  He was a man of few words, but every word mattered.  He was German born and bred. He often spoke in his native tongue and his English was heavy with accent.  If my grandfather liked you, you knew it.  If he didn't ..........well, you knew that too.   He owned a blacksmith shop, one of the few left of it's kind.  The "shop" always had a mysterious, almost ominous feel to it.  He usually worked alone, wearing a leather apron that hung around his neck and down past his knees.  The shop was dark, dirty, cluttered and oppressively hot.  Though I cannot say what exactly he burned in his forge to make the fire so hot,  I clearly recall the smell.   I can see the flaming, almost translucent red tip of the iron that was thrust into the white hot coals.  I can hear the sharp pinging of his hammer as he forged the iron upon the anvil.  He would hold up the object for inspection and then go back to work;  forging, pounding, shaping until it met his satisfaction.  My grandfather was known for his craftsmanship.  People brought their equipment to him because they had confidence in his abilities with a hammer and anvil.

I do not pretend to be knowledgable in the art of blacksmithing, the little I know comes only from the observation of a child's keen senses.  However, I do know that the forge and it's blazing heat was absolutely necessary for the craftsman to work with the iron.  Likewise, heat is necessary for the purifying of gold.  Gold can only be seperated from it's impurities after having been liquified by intense heat.   A critical part of a silversmith's job is to sit with a steady eye upon the furnace.  He knows that if the time and temperature of refining is even slightly exceeded, the silver will become damaged and lose it's value.  The silversmith watches intently, for he knows that the refining and purifying is completed the moment his own image can be seen in the silver. 

I am very much aware that God, our master craftsmen, has allowed the intense heat of tragedy in our lives, not to harm us, but to better us.  I cannot say that I understand all of His ways but I am certain that we are upon the anvil of his will.  We have been thrust into the white hot flame of sorrow and grief and have been purged and cleansed of many of the impurities that were, for so long, a part of us.  He has taken the things that we once held valuable and reduced them to dust in the face of life's fragility.  Our minds, hearts and souls, once cluttered with that which was trivial, are now consumed by Him.   The flames of heat have stripped us of any value or esteem that we once placed upon ourselves.  We stand naked, bare and pliable in the hands of our Creator.   We now have awareness, with a deeper clarity than before, that we are nothing and can do nothing without Him.  We have witnessed, first hand, that in times of great need, He and He alone is able to hold us up.  The ability to live,  breathe, and carry on is possible only because of His grace and mercy.  The searing heat of this refining process has been excruciatingly painful and has left us dry and thirsting for Him and for our eternal home.

We can rest in the knowledge and assurance that "he sits as a refiner and purifier of silver"  Micah3:3
 There is a song that we sing often in our church about the Refiner's Fire.   Despite the blazing heat of the past year, we have never doubted His love for us.  I have wondered at times if the sheer intensity of this blaze will devour us but he is watching and He knows what it is that He is shaping us for. As I watched my grandfather work, it mattered little that I had no idea the purpose of the iron he was shaping.  He knew exactly how hot the fire needed to be, how long to leave the iron in the forge and how and where to hammer in order to achieve his purposes. Now, more than ever before in our life, we long to be set apart for Him.  We beg Him to purify and cleanse us from within. 


I dream of  one day walking, arm in arm, with my Lord, tracing the nail scars in his hand, asking him all of the questions that fill my heart and listening intently to His answers.  The number one question on my list will likely be "Did I learn, Lord?  Did I learn whatever it was that  you wanted me to learn from all of this pain?"   Someone very wise has recently enlightened me to the fact that the Lord's purpose for all the pain may simply be to bring heaven  and our longing for Him closer, to make it more real.  The refiner's fire has left us with only one desire, to be living in His will and to see Him and our precious girl again some day.    Our Lord has a tight grip on us and He is not letting go. He is expert in the art of refining and purifying.  He loves us and is faithfully and intently watching the refiner's fire. His gaze has never wavered from us.   He sees into our hearts and our souls and He is looking for His reflection. 

In this you will greatly rejoice,
though now for a little while
you have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 
These have come so that your faith
-of greater worth than gold.
which perishes even though refined by fire-
may be proved genuine and may result
in praise, glory and honor
when Jesus Christ is revealed
I Peter 1:6&7

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Hardest Part

There seems to be a unanimous assumption among people that "the first year is the hardest" after the death of someone we love.  I've heard it said in many ways.  Before the first year mark it was "this first year has to be hard,"  "you have to get through the first year,"  "I'm sure all of the firsts will be tough."  Now that we've surpassed the infamous year, to my befuddlement, I am hearing things like "you made it through the first year,"  "now that the first year is behind you,"  and "it should get easier now."  Regardless of wording the point behind such statements is that the first year is the most difficult part of grief.  I harbor no manevolence toward anyone who may have said such things. I know and am compassionate of the fact that people do not know what to say.   In truth I too have held out a small glimmer of hope, that maybe, just maybe the first year is indeed, the hardest and that it will be smooth sailing from here on out. 

Yesterday, as I was driving home, pondering a statement that was made to this effect, I found myself trying to find words for how I would describe "the hardest part."  Since Laynee's passing I have come to know, on a heart level, many who are walking this painful journey.  While we all have unique and individual experiences,  we are much alike in many ways. Though I cannot speak for all, I think that many would say that the "hardest part" is knowing how to go on.

"Going on" began within the first moments of those dreaded words, "time of death."   Those three words signified the end of life as we knew it.  They devoured the hope of seeing a miracle performed before our eyes.  The words were loud, crushing and irrevocable.  From that moment, 7:25 pm September 9, 2009, we have been searching for a way to "go on."  That first night we had to go on by allowing our children to say one last goodbye to their baby sister.  "Going on" meant walking out of the hospital with empty arms.  It meant putting our heads on the pillow, knowing we did not tuck her in and kiss her good night.

We have made daily choices to "go on" in spite of the fact that we have no idea how and often lack the desire to do so.  The hardest part is facing each and every day without her and ending each day, knowing I just completed another day without seeing, hearing and touching her.    The hardest part is seeing little girls her age and wondering what she would be like as 3 or 3.5 or 4 year old.  Everytime I see a person with Down Syndrome I must, once again, figure out how to go on without having that extra chromosome to love.

Going on means finding direction and purspose for your life when the idea of what you thought God wanted for you is devastatingly altered. It's unspeakably difficult to go to a job each day, knowing that, had the angel of death not visited your home, you would not be in this position.  The hardest part is finding a desire to do anything at all when you really want to retireve the love and joy that has fluttered away like an angel's breath. 

I struggle daily, even hourly, to go on in faith.  In this, the hardest part is retaining the belief that our Lord is one of love, mercy and compassion when heart, mind and soul are invaded by the memories of what seems anything but merciful.  It is continuing in the hope that He can and will work all things together for God when everything seems inherently wrong.  I must hold fast to the belief that God does have a plan for my life, even if I cannot begin to comprehend his purpose for such great pain.  The hardest part is continuing on in this life when, suddenly, heaven is your greatest desire. 

This hardest part, this going on, is not present only on the first birthday or first Christmas without them.  It does not magically disappear with the first angelversary.  When I awoke this morning the pain was no less than it was a few weeks ago, before the one year mark.  The hardest part stays with us each and every day as we remember, as the clear picture of her smiling face begins to fade from our minds, as we make the choise to go on despite the fact that we really do not know how.  No one can tell us how to go on.  No one.....not our parents, our pastors, nor those who have already walked this path can tell us how to go on. 

We go on because the clock does not stop ticking, the earth does not stop spinning.  We go on, even though we don't know how.  We make choices daily.   Contrary to what we wish were so, we cannot change what has happened.  We cannot bring back those who are gone from us.  The hardest part is going on without them in a way that honors our God.  We know that we will see Jalayne Grace Holmes again and we can't wait for that day.  In the meantime, the hardest part is asking and finding the answer to the question "what will I do with the time that's left?"  The hardest part is going on.

For in Him we live and move and have our being
Acts  17:28

Friday, September 10, 2010

God Did Good

This morning my mind wanders back to September 10, 2009, the day of Jalayne's memorial service, the day that her tiny little body was placed in a pink vault beneath the ground and covered with dirt.  As with every other memory of that time, there are only bits and pieces.  I have no idea how Jim and I and our children spent that morning.  The first thing I remember of that day is the soul searing pain of knowing I would never look upon her beautiful face again. I knew that I had to step away so that they could close the casket but I wanted to touch her and look at her forever.  I ached to pick her up from that casket and hold her close and never let her go.  I fought against the powerful urge to climb into the casket and lie down beside her.  I wanted to do all of these things, but I didn't.  Instead I settled for trivial acts that felt necessary but brought no sense of comfort.  I had the irrational fear that she would be cold under the dark, damp earth so I took her beautiful pink satin blanket, and tucked it around her, making sure that it's softness lay against her cheek. We made sure that one of her beloved hee hees was tucked into her grasp.  I placed her favorite book, the one with the fuzzy yellow ducks and furry kitties, beside her.  I kissed her hands, her face, her forhead, knowing full well that it would never be enough.  Then I walked away, I didn't want to watch as the lid came down, ensuring that I would never look at her again. 

I do not recall the service but remember driving to the cemetary.  Someone was out mowing their lawn and the impossible reality that it was just another day for everyone else, hit my square in the face.  There was a construction truck that appeared to be repairing a part of the road and I wanted to jump from the car and scream "how dare you act so normal, that's my baby in that hearse."  As we drove by the day care that Laynee had attended only a few times, I watched as a couple of the workers watched our procession with sadness.  I saw children playing and knew that Laynee would never get to be their friends.  The drive that was only a few blocks, seemed endless and not long enough at the same time. Everything in me rebeled at the thought of placing her beneath the earth. 

Yesterday I felt compelled to pull out the CD of her service and listen to it.  I questioned my own wisdom in doing this as I suspected it would bring a torrent of tears.  However, in the past year I have come to understand that tears are healing and, in some strange way, refreshing.  They are a source of expression and purging of all  the emotion that wars inside of us.  They are the voice of the broken human soul.  I did not know a single word spoken at her service and suddenly needed to know. 

What I heard was beautiful.  The minister from our church, whom we selected to officiate,  is one who knew Laynee well.  He is one he spends his life advocating for children with special needs and he is one who knows the joy of adoption.  Among the songs that were sung were an upbeat song, God is Good and a song that asked the question that would challenge us for many days, Do I Trust You Lord.  Steve spoke of the legacy that Jalayne was leaving, one of joy and peace and happiness, a legacy of being SUNSHINE.  He spoke words that made me smile, and words that brought fresh tears.  Steve knew Laynee's joy and that she, in 2.5 years had left her mark on our family, our church family, and our community. 

Toward the end of the service Steve spoke words that have left me feeling humbled by how awesome my Lord is.  He said that God did good.  God did good when he knitted Jalayne Grace in her mother's womb, paying close attention to every detail that made her so special.  He did good when he placed an extra chromosome in her genetic make up, knowing that, for those who cared to see it, she would bring a little something extra.  God did good when He orchestrated the events that brought Jalayne to central Illinois, and ultimately into a family who so needed to learn from her.  Though I often lose sight of this, Steve reminded me that God did good when He took her from this imperfect earth and placed in her glorious forever home.  I am humbled by how I pick and choose to see God's goodness only in the things that feel good and safe and comfortable to me.  God did good because God is good.......all the time.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Praise You in this Storm

This morning I am thanking God for sleep.  I've come to determine that sleep is very under rated.  It is an unequivocal neccesity to well being.  There is no pill that can supplement, caffiene cannot take the place of, there is no replacement for good, undisturbed sleep.  Last night the weariness seemed to positively ooze from my mind and body.  Most nights, for me, are interrupted by dreams and heavy, burdensome thoughts.  Last night, as I lay my head against the pillow, I sent up a prayer...."Lord please allow me to sleep peacefully."  He answered with a yes.  Sleep, it may seem like such a small thing, yet it's abscence darkens every aspect of life. 

 
This morning after spending time in prayer, I opened my email inbox and found that once again God has given me hope in encouragement.  A dear friend sent me a very simple message that she was praying for us and that the song "Praise You in This Storm" kept coming to her mind.  She wrote the lyrics and though I have heard and sung this song numerous times, seeing the words in written form with no music accompanying it was a deep, moving experience for me.

 
In the months leading up to the accident, I , along with the girls in my bible study were convicted to thoroughly inspect our prayer and spiritual life.  It became clear to me that my prayers were significantly lacking.  I'd spent a lifetime coming to God with my grocery list of needs, wants and desires but  I lacked the all important act of praising him for his sovereignty.  The truth is that, while we are to make our requests known to him, he is far more aware of what we need than we are.  Slowly but surely I began to alter my prayer life from one of constant requests to one of praise and worship of my God and my creator.  I had no way of knowing it at the time, but with everything in me, I believe that he was preparing me from the trial that stood before me.  God knew that this trial would have the power to devour me unless I was conditioned to praise him in all things.  For several months I worked and struggled to remember to begin and end every prayer with words of praise for my heavenly father.  In time, I learned, I grew and my new prayer outline became automatic.  Words of praise flowed easily and unhindered.  When devestation struck, when my world seemed to crash around me, praise for my Lord came automatically.  On days when I cannot understand and cannot see his face or feel his presence, praising him still comes naturally.  It is my firm belief that it is this seemingly simple act of praising that has kept me from the clutches of depression and bitterness.  When the adversary says "this is not fair," I am trained to say "God is good."  When he says "you didn't deserve this,"  I know that neither did I deserve Laynee but Praise God, I had her.  Some may think that praise that is automatic is useless, that it is not from the heart and therefore, is not true praise.  This is not so, for the simple utterance of praise brings our eyes, time and time again, back to the cross. 

 
I praise God this morning for Lisa who so gently reminded me to keep praising my Lord and my God.  I am humbled even by the simple fact that I have a relationship with Lisa, for it is one that could only have been ordained by a mighty and powerful God.  Lisa is the adoptive mother of a beautiful little girl, Ryan Nicolai whom I had the rare pleasure of loving, with a mother's love,  for one month before I was able to place into Lisa's anxiously waiting arms.  Having come to adore Ryan, it was difficult to place her in Lisa's arms, yet I did so joyfully, knowing that Lisa's mother love would be great.  I cannot help but wonder, why is it so much more difficult to joyfully surrender Laynee into the arms of a Father whose love is matchless.

I was sure by now
God you would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say “Amen”, and it’s still raining


As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
“I’m with you”
And as You mercy falls
 I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

I’ll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
Every tear I’ve cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

 I remember when
I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry
You raised me up again
My strength is almost gone
How can I carry on
If I can’t find You

 As the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
“I’m with you”
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth

 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

He Carries Us

This morning the pain is great.  I have written those words countless times in the last year and I suppose that I sound a bit like a broken record.  The only excuse that I have for being so redundant is that there are no other words.  I have had many say "I don't know what to say" or "I wish there was something I could do."  Jim and I and our children have no expectations of anyone.  We know that there are no words and there is nothing that anyone can do.  It's a journey that we must travel with all of the bumps, bruises, and sorrow. 

One thing is certain; we have not traveled alone.  As I woke this morning, I remembered all of the horror, trauma, and pain of our great tragedy one year ago. In the midst of all of that, I also am reminded of family and friends who have been there with unfailing love and support.  Early this morning some young girls, friends of Jamee and Grant, stopped by with a beautiful vase full of flowers.  Along with the flowers was a card with the names of several friends and this verse:   John 16:22  You may have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice and no one will take your joy from you.  This group of young teen girls reminded us that our Lord does not bring trials without the resources to see us through. 

In the haze of memories, I recall the love that surrounded us.  There were loved ones at the hospital within moments after we arrived.  Our entire community was holding us up in prayer:  the churches, the schools, our friends, our family, the very old and the very young.  Family stepped in to hold our children while Jim and I rushed to the hospital.  Someone made it possible for our children tocome so they could hold their baby sister one last time.  Arms embraced us, tears mingled with our own, some of us had to be reminded even to breathe as shock claimed us. I cannot say who all was at the hospital, but I know there were many.  They were in the waiting room, in the hallway, and those closest to us in the trauma room where her body lay.   I recall being granted the beautiful pleasure of handing my sweet baby, wrapped in a blanket, to those who needed just one more chance to hold her, touch her, kiss her.  I recall placing her in the arms of each of my beautiful children and watching the love and agony pass across their faces as tears dripped into her hair and onto her face.  I shall never forget the fierce, she-bear instinct that rose up in me as I was told that they needed to take her away, but someone was there to hold me up.  Someone rubbed my back as I spoke on the phone to the coroner.   As we left the hospital, we were not alone.

The single most stunningly beautiful memory of that night is that of pulling up to our driveway and seeing, in the darkness, the reflection of the tail lights of numerous cars in our driveway.  I admit that at first I was a bit overwhelmed by this and not at all sure I was up to seeing that many people.  As our home came into focus I could see that the garage was packed with people, those who loved us, those who would carry a part of our burden.  In hindsight, I am so grateful for all of them and the fact that we did not come home to a deafeningly empty home.  Again, I do not know who all was here, but there were many.  My children's friends were here to hold them up when Jim and I didn't even know how to hold ourselves up.  This memory, though blurry, stands as proof that our Lord, through his servants here, was carrying us from those first awful moments.

The next day, though I cannot say who all came, our home was virtually flooded with people.   There were those who came bearing food.  Someone organized all of the food and kept track of who brought what.  Some held us up with knowledge and support as we faced those who came to investigate the accident.  Others helped with planning the memorial service.  Once again, our children's friends were here to help them through the day.  There were some whom we'd never met, but were, nevertheless, praying and touched by the life and death of our angel baby.   Perhaps the clearest memory in my mind is that of my dear friend, Laynee's "aunt" Karen, sitting on the sofa beside me.  I think that maybe I clung to her as she was, aside from Jim and I and our children, the one who loved Laynee best and the one who would ache from her abscence the most.  I do not recall a word that was spoken by Karen, in fact I think that maybe there were none.  Words were unnecessary and grossly inadequate. 

As horrific as the memories are, the fact that our God has supplied for our needs is not lost on us.  There is a beautiful song that speaks so clearly of how, in our greatest need, he says "I Will Carry You.  (you may need to turn off the sound of the playlist at the bottom of my blog to hear this song)  I praise my God that he allowed us to carry Laynee through her short life. I praise him also that just as we will carry her, forever in our hearts, he will continue to carry us through this valley.

God is good.............all the time.









Happy Angelversary Jalayne
You will always be our forever love
Wait for us, we'll be there soon

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day

Today is Labor Day, and "labor" we did.  For the record, I've never really understood the point behind Labor Day. The name would indicate that we are to "labor" and yet it's a national holiday, in other words, a day off of work.  I know that it has something to do with the death of laborers during a strike long ago and was established in recognition of the labor movement and so on.  Still, I wonder, how many people really have any idea what Labor Day is in observance of? 

We started the day off by being treated to breakfast out by my parents.  It was very nice but I couldn't help remembering that last Labor Day we ate breakfast out with them as well, except we had Laynee with us.  At that time we were blissfully ignorant of the fact that our life was about to crumble around us.  The girls and I then stopped and picked out a few flowers for Laynee's garden.  We had begun the work on the garden on Saturday but there was still much to be done.  The pool that once stood in the garden area was 27 ft in diameter, a large area that needed much work to be transformed into a garden suitable for remembering our sweet baby. 

When people began arriving to help with the garden, I was feeling more than a little overwhelmed.  The level of emotion in our home was high and I didn't even know where to begin with the garden. But as friends began arriving, everyone went to work.  Within a few hours, the barren hole that served as such a painful reminder of death was transformed into a beautiful memorial of the vibrant life that she lived.  Many who love Laynee dropped off flowers, bushes and starts of plants.  There are sunflowers to remind us off her cheerfulness, grasses with fuzzy tops that remind us of how squishy and huggable she was.  There is a large Beauty Bush to represent the prettiest girl in the world.  There are roses that stand among the thorns.  Pink tulips will dance along the walkways next spring.  Daisies raise their sunny faces to the heavens.  Mums of every color will bloom at this time each fall, casting out thoughts of sadness that will likely try to consume us.
By the end of the day I was amazed that we had finished the garden, leaving only a few small finishing touched to add.  There is only one explanation for the rapid transformation of empty and gloomy,  to full and beautiful.......we have wonderful friends.

This evening I visited her grave at the cemetary.  As I leaned in to kiss her sweet face etched in the stone, I glanced at my watch.  Sadness washed over me as I realized that it was 6:20, exactly the time that Laynee was taking her final breath last Labor Day.  As I got in the car to go home, I felt so weary and heavy.  The radio came on as I started the car and this song was playing.   The tears flowed, not just because I miss my Laynee so, but because my Lord, who has so often felt out of reach in the past year,seemed to be reminding me that He has never left me.  He has carried us every step of the way.  It is because of his grace that we have found the strength to face each new day.  He is in control. He is merciful.  He is good!!!!!!

The kids hauled many large rocks

We dug

We trimmed

We dug more

Sometimes we just has to take it all in

Moise helped by being really good. 
Legos, Capri Sun and Cheez its.....who wouldn't be good?

Many hands make light work

Jamee, Jade, Danielle and Amelia
busied themselves in the kitchen

We planted

We posed...........well...........Shaney posed

Paris and Sienna planted tulips

Mya helped too

Laynee's best buddy
Shaney Bee plants her flower for Laynee

Midway through the planting we were blessed with a visit
from Marie Lucie.  She is from Haiti and aids us in keeping
in contact with Moise's birth mother and brother.  She brought news
for the first time since the earthquakes that Moise's family
in Haiti is well.

Moise loved the tractor, as always

Many friends

We've made much progress
Now, sunshine and rain
and watch it grow
This group, who spent endless summer hours in the pool together, worked
hard to help create Laynee's garden.
This shirt was worn by several and served as a reminder
of a little girl who was larger than life. 

ONE MORE DAY

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TuE1XJ_uqOs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzEuLqlpl2w



These two songs say everything that I wish to say today. 
I've said, too many times to count in the last year, I just wish I could have one more day.  One more day to do things over.  One more day to have her close. One more day to live as if it were our last day with her


Now abide faith, hope, love, these three,
but the greatest of these is Love.
I Corinthians 13:13

Sunday, September 5, 2010

This morning and that morning

This morning, as I opened my eyes to morning's light, the first thing that filtered through sleep's haze was the awareness of a deep aching sadness and the knowledge that "Laynee is not here."  This is nothing new or unfamiliar for morning has greeted me in this same way for the past 363 days.  As the cobwebs of sleep clear from my mind the reality of why she's not here and why I am so sad registers like a kick in the stomach. I've come to detest morning as sleep is the only thing that seems to alleviate the pain.  Sometimes even sleep is interrupted by horrific dreams and memories of terrror, but still there is relief in sleep.

I have foolishly tried to tell myself that this Labor Day weekend is nothing more than another date on the calendar.  I have decided that I must take that notion and cast it aside.  Reality is that it is absolutely not just another day.  It is the day that marks the anniversary of the last days of life as we knew it.  When our children celebrate a birthday we do not view that date is "just another day."  Though some celebrate birthdays with much more flair than others do, most of us remember the date with something special.  As mother's we look back on that day and we remember details of labor and delivery.  We remember what time our contractions began, what time we went to the hospital and then that miraculous moment when we said our first hello to our long awaited child.  For those whose children came to us through adoption, we remember the moment of having that child placed in our arms.  We recall the excitement and anxiety of driving to the designated place to meet our child.  Regardless of how our children came to us, we recall the rush of emotion that we experienced.   The birth of our children is a day we will always remember with joy and fondness.  Why then would I entertain the thought that the anniversary of my child's death would be any less significant? Just as I celebrate the day first time I saw my babies, on this weekend I mourn the last days that I saw my little girl. 

 Labor Day 2009 were the last days of living without unspeakable pain, sorrow, and trauma.  They were the last days in which my children's minds were unscarred by events more horrific than the average person witnesses in an entire lifetime.  That weekend, joy and sorrow did not have to reside together because we didn't know that sorrow of this magnitude even existed.  Those 2 days were the last days of living a reasonably carefree life because we'd never experienced the finality of child death.  Without knowing it ,I was living out many "lasts" with Laynee.  I watched her in sleep for the last time.  I read her a story for the last time.  I dressed her, combed her hair, bathed her, and fed her for the last time.  I saw her smile, heard her soft voice, and carried her in my arms.  I kissed her face and wrapped her in a warm, mother's embrace, all for the last time.  There was no time to tell her one last goodbye or to say one more I love you.  I didn't get to tell her to wait for me in heaven and that I'll see her again someday soon. 


This morning, as I lay in the quiteness of a relaxed Sunday morning, I allowed my mind to drift back to the first horrific morning without her.  Jade and Brock had slept in our bed, between Jim and I, that night.  They were terrified and in shock.  We all slept fitfully and I woke several times to sound of someone calling out her name.  At one point I bordered on hysteria and Jim and I moved out to the living sofa were we held each other, trembling with pain and sorrow.  After very little sleep, in the very early hours of morning, I heard heart wrenching sobs coming from Jamee's room.  I went to her and crawled into her bed, tucking her close to me as she cried.  I will never forget the words that tumbled from her mouth and struck fear and dread in me.  She sobbed, "every time I close my eyes I see her floating in the pool."   Because of the chaos at the time of searching for Laynee, my brain had not registered that Jamee was standing right beside me when I lifted the solar blanket to reveal Laynee's lifeless body.  I had been grateful that it was I and not one of our young children who saw that horrific image.  At Jamee's words, the cruel reality set in, the same image that was seared in my mind was also seared in Jamee's mind.  I would give everything I have if I could change the circumstances so that she did not have to see that.  Yet I cannot, and so I accept the fact that my beautiful Jamee and I share the bond of one hideous, life changing moment.  Together we have battled valiantly against the forces of this image.  Though it is not something I would ever have asked for, I know that this is something know one else on the face of this earth can ever be a part of.  It is for Jamee and I alone and it is something that neither of us will ever be able to effectively describe.  Jamee and I, mother and daughter are bonded in a very unique way as a result of this. 

Though I don't know exactly how or why, I remember opening my eyes amidst the torrent of emotion and seeing, by dawn's early light, my sister Karla standing with her arms around us as we huddled in that bed.  The rest of that morning is nothing more than a blur.  I know that somehow we got out of bed and put clothes on.  I remember food being there but not knowing how it got there.  I suppose it is only by the grace of God that we have gotten up every single morning since that day.  We have gotten up and put one foot in front of another and somehow we find ourselves in the midst of  another Labor Day weekend, still longing for a little girl with Down Syndrome named Jalayne.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Confessions

Tonight as the memories and waves of desperation wash over me I find myself reflecting on the last year.  Much of it has been purged from my memory and what I do remember is a hazy blur.  It seems to me that nothing of real significance has taken place.  Moise has had an uneventful year in the area of health, for which I am so grateful.  Our focus has been on our children and helping them through the trauma and grief that they have experienced.  I suppose that like Noah's flood, grief and sorrow have washed eveything else away. 

As I was lying in bed tonight, exhausted but sleepless, my heart longed for a reprieve from all of this pain.  It seems that in my desperation I have tried just about everything to find relief.  I have searched hopelessly for something, anything that might help me to feel closer to Laynee. I confess that I have done some pretty bizarre things in the name of seeking comfort.

I have decided that this will be an ongoing post.  As I continue on this journey, I am quite certain that my days of desperation are not over.  My creative mind will undoubtedly dream up many other ways to find comfort.  Then, when I feel ready to share my moments of weakness, I will add the crazy  things that I do to this list.  Someday, a long time fom now, I will look back and who knows, maybe these things will even bring a smile.  My first confession is this ....... "I hope that the "a long time from now" in the sentence above never comes.  I hope that we get to see Laynee in heaven sooner, not later.  I don't want to be here a long time without her.  It's already been too long.

I confess that............

* I often go into her room at night to get her bear and blanky so that I can hold it close as I sleep.  I love the smell of bear's nose from the many nights of being sucked on by Laynee.  Some may call this disgusting, I call it as close to heaven as I can get and still be here.  Sometimes I get frustrated because the stuffy nose from endless tears prohibits me from smelling her scent. 

*I have crawled into her crib, wanting to feel her close and entertaining the thought that the sheets, still rumpled from her little body, would bring comfort.

*I often bury my nose in her shoes, so desperate am I to smell her. 

*Sometimes I say her name out loud just so I can hear it on my lips. 

*Sometimes I stand at my window that looks out to my sister's home and picture Laynee running across the pasture to see her hee hees.

*When on the golf cart, I stop when I go past the cows because it's what we always had to do and  I can see her face saying "mmmmmm" to them. 

*I once attempted to return a huge bag full of clothes that I had bought for her next season.  I thought that because she never wore them I might be able to return.  I walked back out with the bag of clothes.  As I stood in line I imagined the clerk asking "why are you returning these."  I panicked at the thought of this question and left, bag in hand.  Those clothes are still in the bag, on the floor of her closet.

*Sometimes I put in her sing along videos and imagine her standing on the couch in rapt attention.

*I have pulled down the box of her favorite books and sat with my feet out in front of me on the floor, reading  them, complete with animated sounds, just like I would to her. 

*Sometimes I sit in the center of my sofa, just staring at nothing, for long periods of time. 

* When home alone, I sing her songs loudly.  "Laynee Bug, Laynee Bug HEY Laynee Laynee Bug." and "Laynee, Laynee give me your answer do.  I'm half crazy all for the love of you........"

*Sometimes I wander into the little girls department of stores, dreaming of what I would be buying her.

*I still have a stack of her diapers and sometimes I get one out to remind me of that cute little rear end.  I usually have to smell it too.

*I have taken her diaper bag and put it on my shoulder, wanting to feel it's weight.

*I have smothered myself in her lotion many times before going to bed. 

*Once, Jamee and I took a box of glass items and threw them in an effort to vent.  It was quite enjoyable. 

*I have wondered on more than one occassion if this is what it feels like to go crazy.  I've even hoped for insanity because that seems like it would hurt less.

*I have hidden in my bedroom, not wanting to talk to whoever it was that came to my door. 

*There have been a few times when I have gone back to bed after the kids left, simply because I couldn't face the day.

*I have childishly stuck my tongue out at a person or two for the ridiculous remarks they have made about Laynee's death.

*I have sat on my toilet and held her hooded bath towel close to me. 

*I have wished many times that I like the taste of alcohol, thinking now might be a good time to become a drunk.

* I have beat my fists upon the floor of her room

*I search hard to find any other way to say that she is gone, rather than to say we "LOST" her.  I kow where she is, therefore she is not lost.

*I obsess over something happening and all of her pictures being gone.  I have prints, files in the computer, discs and flash drives in a fireproof  safe.

*Some of her pictures have smudges all over from the many kisses I've placed on them.

* There are still a pair of shoes and a beat up monkey that Garrett gave her shortly before she died sitting on my window sill in the laundry room.  I know I should move them but.......maybe next week.

* I have determined that the best place for crying is in the shower or bathtub with the water running.

* I don't want her to be "perfect" in heaven, I want her exactly like she was when I see her again.

I confess that all of these bring some slight measure of comfort, if only for a moment. 



Friday, September 3, 2010

Just BE

I"ve resigned myself to the fact it is virtually impossible to keep my mind from going back a year in time.  The memories keep coming, the good colliding with the bad.  I stand in awe of the human mind and how vividly I recall the days leading up to the accident, yet how completely wiped fom mind are the weeks and months following. The accident itself is clear but segmented and patchy with large chunks of it missing.  I remember point A and point B but cannot remember what happened in between.  Still, a year later, whenever we,as a family, discuss the events of the accident, it seems that I learn something new about that day.  The kids seem to have processed it much more clearly than I have and I wonder why that is.  Perhaps it is because my brain was forced into survival mode as I tried desperately, albeit without avail, to save her.  Maybe it is simply a matter of them being younger.  Possibly it is because I, as her mother, could not take in the cold reality that my baby was being ripped from my arms.  Regardless of how or why, the memories are there, demanding attention.  I have decided that instead of fighting off the memories, which only makes them more persistent,  I will take deep breaths and allow them to come as they will. 

There are so many events that bring reminders of that time.  Ordinarily, under normal circumstances, such events would not have been connected to Laynee in any way.  However, given the fact that these were Laynee's lasts, they are forever linked to her and to that time.  For example, Saturday morning Brock will run in the Wildcat invitational in East Peoria.  This same meet last year was the last meet I had the pleasure of taking her to.  I remember that meet with aching clarity and one thing shines above all else....Laynee was beautiful.   Jamee and Jade will also run on Saturday, but being in high school, they will run in the Rochester Invitational, about an hour south of us.  This meet was also held on the same day last year and my parents picked Jamee up on their way to Southern Illinois for our weekend away; our last pain free weekend.  There are numerous similar events, which are forever connected, in my mind, to Laynee and her last days on earth. 

If I've learned nothing else in the past year, I have learned that sometimes it is best to allow ourselves to simply BE.  That is how we have made it this far. We have allowed each day, indeed each hour, to come and go.  We have done what needed to be done without putting great expectations upon ourselves.  We have survived but have not mastered this thing called grief.  I, personally, have come to a point of acceptance that grief is a new and, very possibly, a forever part of who I am.  We have learned and grown, not because we wanted to, but because life did not offer options.  We have been real, perhaps the most real that we have ever been.  We have been seen by many at our absolute worst.  We have not pretended.  We have not minced words.  Pain and grief and sorrow have colored our vision in every aspect of life. We have gone through the motions of living, admittedly without a great deal of enthusiasm.  For Jim and I, the greatest focus has been on the well being of our 5 living children.  We have blindly navigated all of them through this valley that we find ourselves in.  When we were forced into this journey, we had no idea how to do this,  to simultaneously grieve death and celebrate life.  We have come to the place that we are right now by doing nothing more than allowing ourselves to BE. 
 Our hearts, souls and minds have become a battlefield for light and darkness.  The adversary has been ruthless in his quest against us.  He knows that we are most vulnerable and has attacked us from every angle.  With the love and strength of our Lord, we lift our heads, only to be slammed down again by our enemy.   We are far beyond exhausted yet we know that as great as the adverasary is, our God is greater still.  We rest in the assurance that someday we are going to be able to turn and look at our adversary and say "Nice try, but you did not get me."   Through all of this, our God has not moved from his place on his throne. 

As we enter into this Labor Day weekend, we will take the memories as they come, knowing that they must have their say.  We will love our Lord and fight the enemy.  We will do this the best way that we have learned how and that is to simply BE.

What then shall we say to these things?
If God is for us, who can be against us?
Romans 8:31