Friday, December 17, 2010


In an attempt to feel closer to my girl who feels so far away, I've been wearing her headbands as bracelets.

It makes me feel a little better. And then a little worse. And then a little better again. It's not her. But it's something of hers I can have with me all the time. It's my way to bring her with me.

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Timely Gift

Usually I love Christmas. It is my favorite time of year. We cut down a Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving and the house gets completely Christmased by the end of the day after Thanksgiving. Last year when Lydia was here was no exception. Difficult as it was, I wanted to fully enjoy the Christmas season with our little girl.

This year has been different. I've listened to no Christmas music, cut down no Christmas tree and decorated nothing. I couldn't bring myself to do it. I've been cursing at my television when cute family Christmas commercials come on and staring down anyone seeming remotely jolly about the Christmas season. But in the past couple days, the Christmasy feeling has been sneaking up on me. I start to think, "Well, maybe we'll get a tree this year and put up a few decorations" and then I start to get excited because I love the way our house looks when it's decorated. Then, as soon as I start to get a little happy, there's a catch in my throat. I don't want to celebrate this year without our girl. But then I do. But also I don't.

Today, we bit the bullet. We were out and about and decided to get a Christmas tree - just a small one that would require no re-arranging of the living room. It was simple, quick and easy. We got it home, got it set up and got the lights on it. I put up a few other decorations here and there and then got ready to do ornaments.

I wasn't looking forward to this. Tree decorating has always been a big thing for me. When I was growing up, it was a family event as we'd take out ornaments from years gone by...some really ugly ones we'd made, some with favorite cartoon characters. It's one of those traditions I'd always looked forward to doing with our children. Lydia, in the one Christmas she spent with us, managed to accrue several (I think six) ornaments. She should be here to put them up. The angry and sad was welling up, but decorating the tree was something I needed to do for myself, so I was going to do it.

Then, the doorbell rang. It was the mailman. He only rings the bell if there's something a little too big for the mailbox. There was a package for us. It was from the mother of a former student of mine. Inside was this beautiful thing.

It's a handmade, quilted ornament made from a pair of ladybug pajamas. These were some of our very favorite jammies that Lydia wore. Her friend Molly had a pair too.

I promptly burst into tears. Besides it being an incredibly sweet gesture and overwhelmingly thoughtful gift, it was something else altogether. Nothing could ever make Christmas without our girl OK. But this ornament, is a reminder to me. Despite my struggle to trust and follow Him now, the Savior of the world who came to die so I could live, He is still with me. He still sees me. He still loves me.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Trying to Find My Way

Wrestling. It’s what I’ve been doing a lot of lately. I’m working hard to try and reconcile two things that don’t seem to want to be reconciled. God is love, yes. But there’s this other thing that rises up in my mind that also says God is...not hate...not evil...but maybe pain? Suffering? Everywhere I look I see that the two are inextricably connected. There is no great suffering unless there is great love.

I suppose at its core, I’m asking the age old question - why is there suffering? More specifically, though, I want to know why I have to suffer. Not that I feel I should be an exception to pain, I just want to understand.

These things are ever and always in the forefront of my mind. Dwelling on them has caused me to ask questions I’ve never asked and doubt things I’ve always had faith in. Is God really real? If He is, is He really as good and loving as I’ve always believed Him to be ? What gives Him the right to do with me whatever He wants? How do I trust Him when all of my trust has been shattered?

Even if I can answer all of these questions there is one that is ever lingering - Do I even want to follow Him? Wouldn’t it be so much easier to pretend like He doesn’t exist? That all of my pain is the result of science gone wrong and freakish, random chance?

It seems like it would just be so much easier. So much less agonizing over things I cannot comprehend.

It is difficult because I feel, ultimately, that I know what my conclusion will be. If I want to follow, all the struggle and frustration and anger really boil down to one thing: If I want to follow Him I have to accept that He is who He is whether I get it or not, He’s going to do what He’s going to do whether I like it or not. I sounds harsh, but notwithstanding His love and patience with my struggle, I have to get in line behind Him or walk way. Knowing that I do still desperately need Him, I know what my choice will be in the end. But it is a long and difficult road to get to the end and I feel somewhat trapped inside an endless maze.

I talk myself in circles, but I hope and believe that one day, like Alice in Wonderland, I’ll open up a before unseen door that will lead me at last to the glorious and freeing end of my struggles. Meanwhile, to find that door, I must keep talking and continue questioning. So, here goes.

This is what I know. I love God. He loves me. The purpose of my life is to know Him and glorify Him. By whatever means necessary He will work towards achieving that goal in my life. That is what I know. Now the circles begin.

I love God - most of the time. More than I love Him now I recognize my need for Him. I dislike that I have this need and very often wish that it was simply a need of my own devising. There are times I would gladly say, “I don’t really need Him. I’m only using Him as an excuse or a crutch.” I would love to say that. The problem is that I will always know, deep down, that I’m wrong. There is an emptiness in me that can only ever be filled by Him. I could pretend but I will always know the truth. I could hide from it for a time, but it would be time wasted, for I would always return to Him.

So. OK. Fine. That’s settled. I do now and will always need Him. I don’t love this, but it cannot be ignored.

Now, as to “He loves me.” This is simple and yet more difficult. There is Scripture that cannot be ignored, places where I am told over and over of His love. There are songs that resonate as truth to my soul that tell me of His love. There is all of my past and His many answers to prayers and expressions of love that serve as a reminder of this truth. There is the unavoidable fact that He sent His son to die for me - the greatest expression of love I could ever imagine. But more than that is the knowledge in the utter depth and dark places of my soul that He loves me. Every new day, every hour, moment and breath speak to me, whisper of His love for me.

Despite all of this (yes, I see my arrogance in even hinting that I could argue with all of this), there is an ever unmoving complication: He let my daughter die. He took her away and left me, like an amputee, limping and hobbling my way through the rest of my life.

When I look to Him now, I see the cause and source of great joy and sweet healing, but I also see the cause of my suffering. How can it be that He is both? How am I supposed to look to Him for healing when, as far as I can see (notwithstanding the sinful world I am part of) much of the responsibility for my life’s greatest pain rests squarely on His shoulders?

If it is love, I do not understand it. But whether I understand it or not, the evidence of His love cannot be ignored. So then, the love and the suffering must be able to be reconciled somehow. This, it seems, brings me to my final knowledge and the only explanation, however unsatisfying I might find it, that makes enough sense to fit. The purpose of my life is to know and glorify Him. I would add, too, that He wants me to know as much as I can the depth of His love for me.

If, as I believe, everything that I am and everything that happens to me is part of God's plan for me to know Him better and to glorify Him, it means that Lydia’s death and my current suffering was meant to teach me to know and love Him better and to give me opportunity to glorify Him. This feels impossible, but I cannot ignore it.

To stare at it and reduce it to its simplest terms, the question becomes this: Which do I want more - to know and glorify Him or to have my baby here and whole with me. I’ve struggled with this from before Lydia’s conception and indeed long before that. Always the same question - is He enough? The difficulty is that for every other time I said He was enough, it was a “victimless crime” in the sense that no one but me had to be sacrificed. If I never get married, You are enough. If I never get pregnant, You are enough. But...if You take away my girl...I don’t know.

I don’t want to accept it. To say He’s enough is to say that it’s OK that she suffered while she was on the earth, that I had to watch as she died in my arms, that I had to bury her sweet body in the ground and live my life without her.

None of that is OK with me.

But then, the love. Stubborn and belligerent as I am, it starts to seep in. He will do anything so that I will know Him better. His love for me is so great that He would let my child die so that I could understand another facet of Him that I have never known before - that He would let His child die so that He could show His love for me. And then, finally, I turn my eyes back to His face, I see tears in His eyes because He knows my grief. He suffered this great grief so that I could know Him...and to know me was enough of a reason for Him to watch His son die.

What I long to say though it feels like it costs me everything - if my child is dead and I must suffer that loss, God, You are enough - He says it about me. His child died and He suffered that loss and I was enough of a reason for Him to do that.

It’s staggering, the knowledge of His love. And deep in my soul I know and I understand it now in a way I never would have unless my own child had died. I feel so much like this should be it - the door out of the maze. But it seems it’s merely the door into another, smaller maze with a door to another smaller maze and on and on until when? Heaven, I guess, when the veil will be lifted from my eyes and I will see in full what I see now only in part.

It makes now so clear to me the longing in the words of the hymn... "Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight.”

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Six Months

Today is six months since our sweet girl went to be with Jesus. I have a lot of things I could say, but I don't really feel like talking. Instead, I'm posting a video. I watched almost all of the videos of her that we have this morning. I love remembering the sound of her breathing and the little movements she made and the sound of her little squeaks, even if they were seizure induced.

The video is a little out of focus but you still get the overall adorableness.

Lydia from Jen Thompson on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Room

I've been thinking a lot about when the right time is to change Lydia's room into something else. In eight days, it will be six months since she left us. So far, I've only done a few little things. My dad got me a beautiful cedar chest to keep some of her things in. I've cleaned out her dresser and closet of all her clothes and separated them. Some clothes I donated or gave to friends. Some I put in bins to keep for other possible children. Some I gave to Micah's mom who is going to make me a quilt from them. And some I've packed into boxes and put into the cedar chest. Doing her clothes wasn't too bad, because I know that if she were here and healthy, I would eventually go through all of her clothes and do the same thing.

The rest of the room is proving more challenging. I love her room. It was a joyfully laborious process to pick every little thing out - paint colors, furniture, quilts - it is my favorite room in the house. But I know it can't stay the way it is. I also know that to change it all at one time would probably be my undoing. I've started a process - I keep a small box on the changing table in her room. When I'm feeling strong, I go in and put something into the box that I want to keep for her. Once the box is full, I'll put it into the cedar chest.

Before I started this process, however, I decided that I needed to take some pictures of her room. I can't imagine ever forgetting how her room looked, but I took some anyway, just to make sure. I wanted to share some of them with you.

Monday, October 11, 2010

This Weekend

This weekend we went to the farm in Maine. My favorite place. We brought Lydia there last Christmas and this was the first time we'd been back since she died. We had a wonderful time cleaning the barn, making apple cider and spending time together. As ever when the family is all together, I'm acutely aware that she is missing. But, I carry her memory in my heart and keep her name around my neck. I wandered up to the big open field and took a few minutes to be sad and to make her part of my weekend in the small way I could.

And my sweet Grandpa Roy and Grandma Flo gave me a pumpkin picked from their garden to bring home to Lydia. Don't you love the curly stem?

On a somewhat related note, if you think of it, please pray for my Grandpa Roy tomorrow. He has his first round of many, many rounds of chemo. Pray for strength, health and good days for them both.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


Perhaps you’ve noticed I haven’t been writing here lately...a smattering of whatever now and then but nothing really besides that. This is my fourth attempt at writing a post about what’s been happening here and I’ve made up my mind not to get up until I post something...except to get my tea.

OK. Tea acquired. Here we go.

How I’ve been lately can really be summed up in one word: angry. Part of the reason I’ve had such a difficult time writing lately is that my anger tends to come out all whiny and feeling sorry for myself. That’s not how I feel, but often it’s how it sounds. I make a slew of “I” statements (I feel sad. I feel angry. I feel like I want to take a sledgehammer to my whole house and start over somewhere else) and it all sounds like complaining. I don’t want to complain. OK. Well. Sometimes I want to complain. But I hope that’s not what you’ll hear.

What I’m feeling now is the kind of anger towards something that happens that you know had to happen but you didn’t want it to and you can’t change it. I know Lydia had to die. I didn’t want her to and I can’t change the fact that she’s not here. Of course, I wouldn’t bring her back now to suffer in this world, but sometimes I think I’d give everything I have just to kiss her one more time. The fact that I can’t and the fact that I don’t understand why I can’t makes me angry - deeply, soul crushingly angry.

That anger is naturally (and unfortunately) directed at God. I point my finger and say, “You did this. You took her. This was YOUR plan.” It’s not pretty. It’s not right. But it’s what it is. I just can’t understand it.

We were speaking with our counselor the other day and he put words to something I have been feeling but haven’t had words for. We were talking about how when Lydia was alive, it was so much easier to claim and hold on to the true things. God gave us the exact child He wanted us to have .She was created the way God wanted her to be. She was made for a purpose. He would use her life for His good. He would bring glory to Himself. It was so easy, when looking at my girl who had one foot in heaven all the time she was here, to believe these things. There was a purpose. I knew there had to be a purpose.

But now as every day goes by and I get further and further away from remembering the sound of her breathing or her scent, I cannot see the purpose. I see it in the past when I think of her and what we went through, but now as the emptiness stretches out in front of me, I cannot see a purpose in my emptiness. How could there be purpose in such a wretched, broken feeling?

And there’s more too. I want so much the feeling of closeness with my Savior. I want to be comforted. I don’t want to be angry. But it’s just not that easy. Now we have all of our future ahead of us. Before Lydia was conceived, we gave all of our planning and the life of our future child into His hands. When I was pregnant, we gave her life to Him. When her brain wasn’t perfect and we weren’t sure, we committed her again to His keeping.

Then, when she was born, everyday we gave her back to God, believing He had her best and ours in mind. And He took her. We offered her up and He took her. I don’t know why this surprised me or makes me angry now, but I guess I thought all along He wouldn’t take her. Now, as we look into the future, trying to understand what to do next, I don’t really want Him to have any part of it. We gave Him Lydia’s life and He took her away from us. Does He honestly expect that I’ll trust Him now? Seriously?

It’s so complicated. Even in the middle of my anger, I still know the truth. I know, in the end, we cannot go forward unless He goes with us. I will not find answers unless He provides them. I will not know peace or healing unless I let Him near me. I have no other hope but Him.

Sometimes it seems like a cruel joke that the source of our suffering and the healing from it should come from the same place. Cruel too that so often our healing only comes from more pain.

At the end of the day, after I’ve fought and cried my hardest and demand and beg for an answer, when the calm comes again I understand only that I don’t understand. In those moments, I utter the only prayer I’ve been able to pray for the last months.

Help me believe.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Stone for Lydia

My friend Megan, who has walked through her own painful time with the loss of her son, wrote Lydia's (and many other babies' in heaven) name on a stone. She sent me some pictures and I wanted to share one of them with you.

To have Lydia's name spoken or written does something in my heart that I can't explain. Thank you, friend, for remembering our girl.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Respite Retreat

The past week or so has been difficult. Getting back into the swing of work (which, turns out, is hard to do when you only have teach three days of school in two weeks) has me pretty wiped out, despite being only part time. I will say, the first day of school was lovely. I don't know that I've ever felt more appreciated, so thanks to all students and teachers who made the day a heck of a lot better than I thought it would be. Of course, I cried like a loon when I got home, but come on. You expect it at this point.

There's been a lot of angry lately. Hope feels far and it's gotten easy to forget the times and ways that God has been faithful to me. Especially easy when I start to think that the God who loves me plays a significant role in my pain. How can I trust someone who has had a hand in my pain? I don't know. I don't know how to work it all out. I know I will, I just don't know how.

That's why this past weekend was a gift. Micah and I went down to Nashville, TN for a retreat run by David and Nancy Guthrie. It was a retreat just for parents who had lost a child. Here are the eleven wonderful couples that we got to meet and spend time with.

There were many wonderful things about the weekend. The most looked forward to was that we got to meet Jen and Kent. Lilly and Lydia were born two weeks apart and went to heaven two weeks apart, both from Zellweger Syndrome. Jen found this blog when Lilly was three months old and we've been e-mail and phone friends ever since. To see her IN REAL LIFE was fantastic.

In addition to meeting them, we met these ten couples. I can't explain to you the blessing it is to sit in a room full of people and look into their eyes, knowing they understand the kind of broken my heart is. The first night we were there and the beginning of the next morning we told the stories of our children. It was the first time that we told Lydia's story, specifically the end of it, all the way through. These dear people laughed and cried with us as we told about our beautiful girl and at the end, we prayed thanking God for Lydia's life.

I didn't have a big breakthrough, but I had many small moments of understanding that I haven't had before. As we talked, I realized how blessed we are to have people around us who miss Lydia, who speak of her, who care that she's not here anymore. It hadn't occurred to me that it could be any other way - that people's families don't care or speak of their child after they die. I'm surrounded by people who loved our girl and who love her still, though she's not here. Sometimes it's difficult to navigate other people's feelings about Lydia's death, but this time made me realize that whether or not I always appreciate how people express the fact that the miss her, I am so so so grateful that they miss her at all.

I was thankful to be reminded again that this huge pain won't last forever. As it is now, I still cry all the time and church is still unbearably painful. I sat across the dinner table one night from Jill. Knowing she was further down this grief road that I, I asked her if she hated going to church. She told me she did, but that it eventually got better. I think I know this practically, but it seems so far away that it's hard to focus in on anything but how it feels now. Thanks, Jill, for reminding me that the dark days aren't forever.

During times and talks with Nancy and David, I was reminded again about the patience of my Savior. Though I know I'm acting like a child who is screaming and screaming and refusing to be consoled, I know that I am being held tightly. I know that no matter how long I rage, He's not going to put me down. He will stay until I'm comforted.

I was thankful to remember again that I am not alone. One of the greatest tools of the enemy is the belief that this pain secludes me from the rest of the world. Eleven other couples, twenty-two other people have walked this road. They still walk it. They are not defeated. If you are reading this, please know how your strength has encouraged me. You have kept going when you didn't want to. I know that I can too. You have found Christ in the midst of your sorrow. I know I can too.

Nancy said it best - better days are coming. I will hold on until they do.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Tomorrow is a big day. Tomorrow, I go back to work.

I am nervous and excited and petrified and horrified and sad and OK all at the same time. More than anything right now, I'm so thankful for how many people have told me how excited they are that I'm going back to teach. I'm living off other people's excitement and encouragement right now.

My brain isn't quite in the "back to work" place yet. Today, my mom said to me, "Let me know how things go tomorrow," and my response was, "Why? What's tomorrow?" I hope I don't forget to go.

Monday, August 23, 2010

On Moving Forward

Well, I'm going back to work in less than a week. I wasn't sure until a week ago if would, but things have fallen into place and I'll be teaching part time this year. I had some long discussions and some late nights trying to make a decision. I'm a horrible decision maker in general, and this one was particularly difficult.

How do I go back to the place where I worked before Lydia was born and not have it feel like she was never here? It feels like that often enough but staying quiet and sad in my house reminds me that I have something to be quiet and sad about. To go back to work threatens to feel like pretending nothing ever happened.

I weighed the pros and cons with several of the very wise people in my life. At one point I had decided 100% to go back. Three hours later, I knew it would kill me if I went back. The next morning, I talked to Nancy and finally felt a measure of peace about going back. Turns out, you shouldn't try to make huge life decisions at 2am. Lesson learned.

Nancy and I spoke about the importance of moving forward. She told me moving forward is not moving on - moving on is to leave behind Lydia and all that she meant. Moving forward is to bring Lydia and the past year of my life along with me and to figure out what life means now.

I won't lie. Moving forward is a scary thing. I've liked this quiet, safe, alone time where I only had to let in the few people I really felt like being with and could shut the rest of the world out without much care. I know I can't stay there and I know the longer I do, the harder it will be to ever get out.

So, I'm moving forward. There won't still be bad days (much like today, in fact) but I need to keep going. I need to fix my eyes on Jesus and move forward, towards Him and in His plan.

In another forward moving attempt, I've started another blog. This blog is for Lydia and for me dealing with God and with Lydia things. It's important to me and I won't stop writing here. But there are more things going on now and my desire for creative outlet is increasing and (for better or worse), those are things I feel I want to share too. I truly believe it's part of my healing but I don't want to use this space to share pictures of other children or of things I've made that have no connection to Lydia. I want this space to remain hers and mine for now. So, I've started a blog to share the creative things (baking, felting, photographing) I've been doing.

I titled the blog Make Me New.

"And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of
God is with men, and He will live with them.
They will be His people, and God Himself will be
with them and be their God.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes.
There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain,
for the old order of things has passed away."
He who was seated on the throne said,
"I am making everything new!"
Revelation 21:3-5

This isn't the new heaven and new earth yet, but I know He is working now as I look ahead to the day when my tears will be wiped away. Until then, I'll bake. I'll felt. I'll take pictures. I'll teach. I'll keep moving forward.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Happy Birthday, Baby

Today would have been Lydia's first birthday. I won't try to explain here what that means or how I feel about it. I just wanted to post pictures - one from each month birthday we had her with us. Even though she's not here now and my heart is broken, the remains of my heart that are awaiting healing beat over and over with these words - she was here.

Even though I will cry and wish I could see her smoosh a cupcake all over her sweet little face, I will celebrate all that she was and all that we had when she was here. And I will do my best to celebrate all that she is and all that she has now.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Lydia's Tomatoes

You might remember the post where Micah and Lydia planted seeds to grow in our garden. The garden has been flourishing and I wanted to share with you a couple pictures of Lydia's tomatoes.

Lydia didn't plant the sunflower, but everyone loves a nice sunflower picture.

Thanks to everyone who prayed for my Grandpa Roy. He should be going home from the hospital today. If you would, please pray for his recovery. He'll have more treatment ahead of him after he recovers from surgery, but right now recovery is the goal.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Prayer Request

I wanted to ask all you pray-ers out there to please pray for my Grandpa Roy today. He's having surgery to remove a tumor in his colon. Please pray for wisdom and guidance for the doctors, for a quick recovery and for peace that passes understanding for him and my Grandma Flo, his wife. This is a picture of them with Lydia from her baptism. It's one of my favorite, favorite pictures.

I love you both so very much.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Triathlon COMPLETED!

Liz finished the triathlon today! Head over to her blog for more pictures and her story about the day! Love you Liz and am so thankful for you.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Busy Busy

The past couple of weeks have been very busy. Last weekend, I went to New Jersey with my friend Carissa to spend time with some of our other college friends Megan, Sarah and Shelly. I've been debating putting up pictures here, as this was always a place for pictures of Lydia or having to do with Lydia. But I love taking pictures and I love sharing my pictures. My friend Olivia told me that I should most definitely put them up here because having fun with people you love is part of healing. you go. A little bit of healing for me.

Waiting for Shelly and baby Addyson to arrive on the ferry,
the girls took a picture with a...pirate?

We went to a tea house and Sarah and Shelly were feeling
photogenic with their teapots.

Sweet baby Addyson was very well behaved during tea.

After tea, we took a stroll through Cape May.

Carissa playing with Josiah.

Molly Molly Molly.

This woman is one awesome mama.

We went down the street to Megan's parent's house, which is also the most wonderful and amazing Swan Bay Folk Art Center. If you're ever in
South Jersey, you should check it out!

There are so many wonderful things to see. There are sheep, colonial art lessons of various kinds (including felting with wool from the sheep!), basket making and more. Megan's dad also has an old time garage and gas station, complete with old cars whose awesomeness I cannot begin to explain, and hats to dress up with so you fit in with the cars.

The weekend was lovely. It was hard at times and I won't say I didn't cry, but it was moving forward. I know I can't hide forever, and I'm so thankful for such sweet friends who are so careful with me.

This weekend, my sister Allison and her husband Josiah moved into a new house in Philly. We spent the past couple days helping them move, unpack, assemble, and make their house into a home. I didn't take any pictures because I was too exhausted at the end of each day, but it is a beautiful house.

All that said, two packed weekends in a row, I'm ready to not leave my house for the next several days. Or weeks. Possibly months.

I hope you'll all keep my sister-in-law Liz in your prayers tomorrow. Her triathlon is tomorrow. Good luck, Liz! I know you'll do wonderfully and I can't wait to hear how it all goes!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


I remember my affliction
and my wandering, the
wormwood and
Surely my soul
And is bowed down within me.
This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.
The LORD's
indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every
Great is Your faithfulness.
"The LORD is my portion,"
says my soul,
"Therefore I have hope in

I won't lie. I've been choking out the last half of those verses these days. I say choking because this past month, I've felt more in the grip of my afflictions than I have yet. It's like hands around my throat, all the time, strangling me into submission...into letting the grief swallow me up. It would be so easy to just let it. To stop fighting. To stop getting up every morning. To stop going out. To stop loving people. To stop caring what happens to anyone but myself. To shut the world that moves on without my girl and to live alone here in my house where I can make time stand still. It would be so much easier.

But just as I feel myself ready to give up the struggle and let the hands of grief stop my breath, something in me starts to scream and I'm able to choke out the words,

His lovingkindnesses never cease.
Therefore I have hope in Him.

Every time I say it, I weep. I gasp and cry and the hands back away from my throat. I sob as the truth sets in. It doesn't make it better now. But it keeps me going.

So, I keep going. I will keep going.

For the LORD will not
reject forever,
For if He causes grief,
Then he will have compassion
According to His abundant

Monday, July 19, 2010


Last week, we were asked to stop over at CHS by a some students who said they had something they wanted to show us. When we arrived, they walked us down to what was previously my classroom. A small group of students were gathered outside the door. They told us that they wanted to have something in the school that was a memory of Lydia.

This is what they made.

The kids at this school are the reason I loved to teach. They are the reason I would ever want to teach again. And they're the reason we decided to have a fund in Lydia's name at the school, so that there can be more opportunity for more wonderful people to be a part of such a wonderful community. If you haven't already, I hope you'll consider buying a Lydia Pin and donate to the fund at CHS.

All of you beautiful, wonderful people who helped make this incredible gift - thank you. Thank you for loving our girl and wanting her to be remembered in the school. Thank you for loving us and reminding us that she's in her true home now. We love and are so thankful for you all.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ezra 3:11-13

Several weeks ago, I was having a series of dark days in a row. In a desperate moment, as I was sitting talking with my friend Lisa, I uttered the words, "I wonder if I'll ever be happy again." It was an honest enough thing to say to define how I was feeling. I continued to muse out loud that I supposed whether or not I would be happy had everything to do with how I went about defining happiness.

Wise woman/Bible scholar that she is, Lisa recommended that I attempt doing a word study. I scoffed at her idea. Yes, let me do a word study, I though. I can already tell you what I'll find out. I'm supposed to look for my joy and contentment in Christ. If I try to find it in anything else I will be disappointed. There. I'm a good Christian girl and I already know what's there to be found.

She smiled and said that it's not always about what you find. It's about what you learn in the process.

The next day, I picked up my Bible, sat down at my computer with at the ready. I thought for a second about what word to start with. Now, I don't actually know how to do an official word study, so I was just making things up as I went along. Since my initial question was regarding happiness, I started there. As I suspected, there wasn't much that was helpful to me there. I tried joy/rejoicing next. I found several interesting things. The one that most caught me was Ezra 3:11-13.

Now, other than a little here and there during high school and college, I haven't really had any interaction with Ezra. Even if I had, I probably wouldn't have responded to these verses in the same way then as I did when I read them a couple weeks ago.

To give a little context (and again, I'm no Bible scholar so forgive me if any of this is woefully inaccurate), the Israelites had been slaves in a foreign land for many years. Finally, as some of the Israelites had gotten into the good graces of the king, he allowed them to return to Israel after many years of captivity to begin to rebuild the city of Jerusalem and the temple, both of which had been destroyed.

In these verses, the people had just laid the first stones for the new temple.

Ezra 3:11-13

They sang, praising and giving thanks to the LORD saying, “For He is good, for HIs lovingkindness is upon Israel forever.” And all the people shouted with a great shout when they raised the LORD because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. Yet many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ households, the old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, while many shouted aloud for joy, so that the people could not distinguish the sound of joy from the sound of the weeping of the people, for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the sound was heard far away.

Now, this didn't particularly have anything to do with the joy I am attempting to find in life right now, but it offered a different perspective. This thought has rolled around in my head but it is so succinctly put here that I haven't been able to keep this verse out of my head since I read it.

Grief and joy. They go together.

It is right and good that there should have been shouts of rejoicing from the people as the new foundation was built for the temple. Part of you would think that there should only be shouts of joy and that there is really no cause for the cries of sorrow that accompany it. But these men who were weeping at the former glory of the temple were the ones that saw it destroyed. They were lead away from a broken city, a ruined house of God into slavery not knowing when or if they would ever return. They remembered how things had been, and were grieved that they were not that way still.

In the midst of their weeping, shouts of joy were being raised at the same time, albeit by different voices. These were the shouts of men who knew that there would be glory again in Jerusalem - that God would live in the temple again. They were the shouts of possibility and praise for a new beginning.

The cries of sorrow for what has been lost and the shouts of joy for the new work being done were indistinguishable. The one is irrevocably linked to the other.

In every new thing that happens without Lydia here, there is potential for sorrow. It's a sorrow so deep that some days, it stops me in my tracks, wishing the earth would open up and swallow me whole. It's a sorrow that remembers the hope of what was, the joy of what has been taken away, and forces out of me a wild cry of pain for what has been lost.

But, there is in every new thing the potential for joy as well. In every new opportunity, in every new day, in every new life there is an opportunity to allow a shout of joy to rise up in me.

There isn't one without the other anymore, and that's a wonderful and terrible thing. With great sorrow comes the possibility for abounding joy. The deep, expansive places that sorrow has left empty, joy would fill and flood over and over again.

But that's a choice I have to make. I didn't ask for this pain, but I have a choice of what to do with it now that it is part of me.

I have to be the man who covered his face and wept for the temple he remembered from his youth and I have to be the man dancing in the street, proclaiming God's lovingkindness for me. Granted, it makes for one emotionally unstable looking person, but I think it's right. There is no deep sorrow unless there has been a loss of great joy. There is no great joy unless you have known deep sorrow. Angie Smith calls it, "The Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy."

It doesn't entirely answer my initial question, but as always, it gives perspective. I will be happy again, but it won't be the kind of happy that I've known before. It won't be the easy, carefree, happy-go-lucky type of happiness. It's something deeper that comes from knowing how quickly we can lose the things we love the most. It isn't the kind of knowledge I'd have wished for, but I have it now and I can't give it back.

Instead, I want to learn to live my life in remembrance of these things. I know that because I have suffered, I have now an even greater capacity to be joyful and to love and to celebrate. Always, I will wish that my sweet girl was here to share these things with me and always I will be thankful that her life taught me these things. Though there is the possibility for endless emptiness in a life without her here, there is also the possibility for a life of endless fullness because she was here at all.

For my part, I would rather honor the life that God gave her by living a life of joy. I don't know exactly what that means or how I'm going to do it, but I want to try.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Lydia Pin

Speaking of awesome people doing awesome things...

My dear friend Megan, when she heard about Liz doing the triathlon, decided she wanted to use her talents to do something to help raise money for Lydia's fund at CHS too. Link over to her blog and read about her new project - The Lydia Pin.

Thanks, Megan. Love you, friend.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Running the Race

This is my sister-in-law, Liz. To say that she is awesome would be an understatement. Shortly after Lydia's death, Liz decided that she wanted to do something that would honor the life of our girl and bring glory to God. This week, she started a blog to chronicle that journey and to ask for support in whatever way you choose to give it. The beginning of her story can be found here at her new blog.

I hope that you'll check it out.

I love you, Liz.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Lydia's headstone was placed at the cemetery today. I've been anticipating this, expecting to feel a sense of relief at the stone's arrival - relief that the last piece was in place, that everything was complete.

I don't feel relieved. I feel wretched.

It's permanent now. She won't come back to me. I know that it was permanent before, but there's something now that marks the permanence.

My fingers traced the letters of her name, her birth and death days. Finally they traced the words we had engraved there - Safe in His arms.

Now, as I sit quietly attempting to cope again with the ache that has taken up permanent residence in me, the same words echo softly but steadily in my heart, as they did on the day we buried her.

Death is swallowed up in victory.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

6 Years

I'll spare you all the queasy lovey-dovey shenanigans but I just need to publicly recognize that six years ago today, Micah and I became husband and wife.

These six years have been nothing like I expected, but there's not another man in the world that I would rather have walked through these years with.

And what do all the great words come to in the end but this?
I love you -- I am at rest with you -- I have come home.

~Dorothy Sayers~

Monday, June 21, 2010


In the week after Lydia's death, Micah and I went and spent some time hiding away in Maine. We have some dear friends who have a cottage right on the water. We spent the days sleeping and reading. When we weren't sleeping or reading, we were walking the beach. As we took a walk the last night we were there, I started gathering rocks and shoving them into the pocket of my hoodie. Once my pocket was full, I started handing them to Micah. All told, I think I got five pretty large rocks.

Now, I'm not a crafty lady. I have my moments of inspiration but I don't really have the patience for intricate, time consuming projects. The plan I had for these rocks was very simple. I wanted to write on them things that were important to me, always to remember the meaning of these words in my life. And I wanted to write them on these rocks, gathered at the beach days after I buried my child because I knew then, as I diligently searched for the right rocks, that holding on to these things in the days to come would be important. In the clear moments of that week, I could see far enough down the road to know that I would need reminding.

So, a couple weeks ago, I finally finished my project.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for
and certain of what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1

Though He slay me,
yet will I hope in Him.
Job 13:15

Love does not delight in evil,
but rejoices in the truth
1 Corinthians 13:6.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.
But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:13