Saturday, February 20, 2016

The playlist

Photo taken on the day that I sang again. 

Music has always played a significant role in my life. I grew up playing piano and singing.

Singing to my baby brother.
Singing in front of my dad's camera.
Singing in school choirs.
Singing in college.
Singing on my church worship team.
Singing in the car.
Singing to Ethan before he was born.
Singing to Ethan as he took his final breaths.

After Ethan died, I stopped singing.

It wasn't that I lost my love of music. It was that I simply couldn't. Singing suddenly felt so intimate, so personal and so difficult.

A few months passed and I opened my mouth to sing again.

Nothing came out. Instead, I choked back a sob. I just couldn't do it.
So I closed my eyes and let the music wash over me, as the tears fell.

I decided to own it. I made a playlist of sad songs. Sad songs that spoke to my heart. When it rained, I listed to my sad song playlist. I allowed myself to cry. Really cry, without abandon.

As the tears fell, they watered my dry, aching heart. The music and the tears spoke the words that I couldn't say. The prayers that I couldn't articulate. The feelings that I couldn't express.

Over time, more songs were added to the playlist. Sad songs that carried a twinge of hope. Songs that spoke about healing. Songs that spoke about smiling.

Months have passed since then and my heart has begun to heal. Oh yes, it still hurts. But I'm finding joy. I'm smiling. I'm laughing. I'm dancing. I'm singing.

Last week, I found myself singing in the car. Not just quietly mumbling along to the radio. I mean belting out every word, while the driver in the car beside me chuckled at my performance.

When I finally realized what I was doing, I surprised myself. How did I get there? How did this spontaneous karaoke performance erupt as I sat in traffic?

By allowing God to minister to my heart. By riding the waves of grief and allowing the music to be used as a catalyst for healing. For allowing myself to truly feel every ache, every glimmer of hope, every desperate moment and every joyful praise.

See Ethan's playlist here. 

Psalm 71:23 
My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you-- 
I whom you have delivered. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016


Six months ago I entered into a community of broken, compassionate hearts. When I first entered this new "club" I had no idea what to expect. These grieving hearts wrapped their arms around me and provided such an amazing support system.

Through this community, I've made many new friends- one of which is Lexi Behrndt, writer over at Scribbles and Crumbs.

Scribbles and Crumbs is launching the On Coming Alive Project on February 15. I am so excited to be a part of the launch and I invite you to join the movement. I invite you to check in at On Coming Alive to hear stories of rising from the ashes, and join the movement by submitting your own. You can also follow on Instagram and on the Scribbles and Crumbs Facebook page, or by using the #oncomingalive hashtag on any social media outlet.

I look forward to seeing you there.


Monday, February 8, 2016

A letter to Ethan: 176 days later

My Sweet Ethan,

It's been 176 days since we last held you in our arms. Since we last kissed your soft cheeks and savored your sweet scent. Since you took your last breath on earth and entered into eternity with Jesus. 

You'd be six months old next week. In some ways the time has flown by and in some ways it feels like a decade has passed. 

People ask how I'm doing. I'm doing okay, sweet baby. You've made me better. You've made me stronger. 

Daddy and I are smiling again. Still crying, yes. But we smile most days. (I still cry most days too, but the tears feel more refreshing than before.) The first time it happened, it felt strange. A part of me felt guilty. But then I remembered your peaceful face and sweet demeanor and I knew that you would be overjoyed to see us smile. 

We laugh. Not just giggles. I mean wild, make-you-lose-your-breath kind of laughter that leaves us with a tummy ache. I know that would make you smile. 

I'm running again. Remember that one time we went for a run and I got really sick? I didn't know about you then, but you were there. Remember all of the runs we took last year? I loved talking to you and telling you all about the views, and the birds and the bunnies that I saw on my runs. I told you that we'd see them together one day. I so wish I could show you. You're seeing much bigger and better things than these. 

I've made a lot of friends because of you. I've met so many beautiful mommies who understand and who have become a wonderful support system. You may have met some of their babies. I like to think of you all laughing together. 

I'm healthier. My appetite is back. (Did you know you completely reprogrammed by taste buds? I hate spinach, I like cheese. You'd love that.)  I'm sleeping again. I've lost most of the weight you gave me, but kept a few pounds that probably should've been there in the first place. The health issues that I battled before you are gone. Completely gone. 

Because of you. You would have wanted that. 

I'm breathing again. I'm smiling again. 

But I still miss you with the same intensity as the very first day without you. The ache for you is constant. It's intertwined through everything I do. Honestly, I don't think it'll ever go away this side of Heaven. 

And that's okay. 

There will never be a day that I'll stop missing you. There will never be a day when I get over you. There will never be a day when I stop loving you. Nothing on this earth will ever replace you. 

Sure, we'll smile. We'll laugh. We'll experience genuine joy. We'll be happy. But the ache for you will never go away. 

And that's okay. 

In some ways it makes me more caring, more compassionate and more aware of hurting people around me. It's made me slow down. It's mended old friendships and strengthened current ones. It's caused me to look ahead to Heaven and to consider just how brief life is. I'm willing to be broken for the sake of being transformed. 

You would have wanted that. 

I'll never be the same again. And that's okay. You broke me out of the pristine "bubble" that I lived in and showed me the world for what it is. A beautiful, horrible, wonderful, broken place that needs Love. 

This month has been beautiful, horrible and wonderful. We've smiled and laughed. I've felt lighter and have looked forward to the future for the first time in six months. 

And then I saw it. 

Something that made me think of you. Something that made me think of all I never got to experience with you. It hit me out of left field, E. I cried and cried and cried. I just want you here with me. 

And life will continue to throw those curve balls at me. 

The funny thing is, I know you would have smiled at that reminder. You would have clapped your little hands together and pushed me to embrace life.

To sum it up, I'm doing well. I'm breathing again. Still crying, but laughing too. The tears aren't all I know anymore, even though they still come. The hard days are less frequent, but when they come, they come with the same intensity as the beginning. Life is good and hard and beautiful.

Oh how I miss you. I'm so thankful to be your mommy. I wouldn't trade that honor for anything in the world. Thank you for making me better. Thank you for making me strong. 

Happy six months, sweet baby.

Love you forever,