Sunday, November 29, 2015

Hang a Shining Star

I made a card this weekend.  I don't know how I feel about it.  Sitting at my crafting area, which has been closed & packed up for months now, felt vaguely familiar but so very different.  As I sat at my desk uninterrupted, I grieved over the fact that Ellie wasn't here to pull me away from it when she needed me.  This isn't how it's supposed to be.

I didn't know where to start.  I perused the list of challenge sites on my blog, and checked out the blogs of some of my favorite stamp companies.  Finally I pulled out some products to use, prompted by a challenge to use a specific stamp set from WPlus9.  I'm thankful that it is a stamp set that makes me think of my Ellie...how I would have loved to watch her hang ornaments upon our Christmas tree each year. 

And this is what came of it.
Eh.  It's okay.  Not a masterpiece by any means, but...a start.  Products used?  Well, I have no desire to create a link list right now, so if you want to know something specific...ask in the comments & I will reply. :)

I know I probably sound a tad apathetic about this.  In a way...that is the truth.  I've become indifferent to a lot of things that once meant more to me.  Some of that indifference is good, because those things that I thought meant something were really of little to no value.  I know that isn't the case with creating.  I know there is value in it.  I don't want to be indifferent to it.  So I am trying to find a way to make it feel safe...like I am not moving on or past my sweet baby girl.  I am trying to make it instead, synonymous with Ellie.  That I think of her while I create.

Things about this card that make me think of Ellie?  Well...the cute little girl hanging the stars for one.  And the gold.  Her nursery was going to be blush pink, gold & white/cream.  With hints of mint.  It would have been a really pretty nursery.  Soft & sweet....just like her.

Challenge info:

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Gratefulness through Grief



November.  The one month of the year that Facebook, Instagram, Twitter...whatever social media you prefer is full of posts on gratitude.

#30daysofthanks
#begrateful
#blessed

And so on and so forth...

I've been surrounded by these for the past 18 days, and have truly been thinking about my gratefulness through grief.  It can be hard to be grateful when everything came shattering down around me just 4 months ago.  It can be hard to be grateful when something so precious & wanted was supposed to be in my arms this month.  Instead....I have to be grateful with empty arms & a broken heart.

How does one do that?  How does one look at the shattered mess of hopes, dreams & an unknown future surrounding them and find a way to be grateful?  I'll be honest...I'm not completely sure.

But I do know that in the midst of this pain...of this grief that can seem so overwhelming at times, I am grateful.

I am grateful that I have a God that is my safe place.  All the ugliness that comes into your heart after suffering through tragedy- He isn't afraid of it.  I look back at moments when my anger was so big & so overwhelming, that the only safe place to unleash it was upon God.  I've had very serious...very heated talks with the God of the universe...and you know what?  He listened to me.  He cradled me in His arms as I continued to lick my wounds in the only ways I knew how.

I've had many days where worship & prayer only came in the form of tears...I still have those days.  I look at who I am now, and often see a mess of a person.  The woman who once was so put together & seemed to have everything under control...she is no longer.  She is just plain gone.  I think about the anger, hurt, brokenness, tears, doubt, fear....and wonder how God will ever use this for His plan...for good?

And then He reminds me of some things.  "Lea, where do you turn when the anger & hurt is all consuming?  Who do you talk to when you doubt the purpose & plans I have, and who you are to Me?  What do you pray when fear & anxiety creeps upon you in the darkest hours of the night?  Do you know that I know exactly how many tears that have fallen upon your cheeks & the reason behind every single one of them?"

He has drawn me closer to Him through the death of Ellie.  He is the safest place I have.  I don't have to hide my thoughts or spare His feelings.  He isn't afraid of them.  What I have to say doesn't stun Him into silence.  He only wants me to bring it to Him.  Every. Single. Time.  He wants me to bring it all to Him.  And He is willing to meet me right where I am at.  I don't have to look like I have it all together.  I don't have to be anything but what I am in that moment.

I've heard the analogy that God views us as a tapestry.  We see the side that is normally hidden against the wall - it is messy, ugly & convoluted.  But God sees the front side...the image that is being weaved together as He refines us.  It's not just "pretty things" that are part of the tapestry.  It's not without suffering, pain, heartache....but He sees the beautiful picture from the other side.

My daughter dying was not a blessing.  I'm not grateful for my empty arms.  I'm not grateful that this is the road I have to travel.  But I am grateful that I have God with me as I stumble along it.  I am grateful that I have found a safe place in Him.  I am grateful that because of Him, I will be reunited with my sweet Ellie girl in Heaven one day.

I am grateful that God graced me with her presence, if only for the shortest of time.  I will forever be grateful for my daughter, the one who made me a mom.  I'm grateful that I loved someone so much that saying goodbye was the hardest thing I've ever done.

I'm grateful that little by little, day by day...I find more joy.  Some days I take a few steps back.  Other days I completely turn around and run in the opposite direction. But joy is there...patiently tapping on the door to my soul.

I'm grateful that little by little, bit by bit...God is putting my heart back together.  It's never going to fit back together perfectly.  You are always going to be able to see the cracks in it.  That is just what happens when something so important was ripped from your life prematurely.  But He is helping me heal, and I am extremely grateful for that.

Monday, November 9, 2015

A Plain Red Cup

So, it seems according to the internet that I am supposed to be all up in arms about the Starbucks red cups.  Apparently it is a war on Christmas because the cups don't have a snowman, holly or evergreen tree on it.  Images that technically have nothing to do with the true meaning of Christmas.

It's a cup.  At a coffee store.  That has never claimed to be affiliated in any way with Christ.  They sell drinks filled with well over your daily allotment of sugar. 

I'm still stuck on the fact that it's a cup.

There are so many people out there hurting during the holidays.  I never thought I would be one of them, but here I am... wondering how to get through the next two months.  Not wanting to know what it feels like to have to celebrate Thanksgiving & Christmas after the death of my baby girl.  Daily, I cling to Christ in hopes that I will get through it all unscathed.  That I won't become bitter.  That my anger won't get in the way of this magical time of year.

You would never know it by looking at me in line at Starbucks.  I dress well, with my hair done & makeup on.  I patiently wait my turn, and order my drink with a smile.  I say thank you & make small talk with the person taking my order, and wait at the end of the counter for my drink.  I smile at the strangers waiting next to me if we happen to catch eyes. 

You would never know that inside my heart is shattered.  That I am broken by numbers & percentages.  1 in 4, 1 in 50, 1 in 200....I am the 1 in all these scenarios.  They rarely leave my thoughts.

Rather than getting bent out of shape about a red cup... why don't you look at the person in line behind you & tell the cashier that you would like to pay for their drink in that red cup.  Then turn around and wish them a very Merry Christmas.  I assure you that it will make them smile.  I would daresay that even if they don't celebrate Christmas, they will be grateful & gracious.  But more than anything... you will have been a blessing to them.

You truly have no idea what is going on in that person behind you.  They might look like me... and their heart might be broken in a million pieces, just like mine is.  That small gesture might give them a shot of happiness during a time that is overwhelming & not as joyful as it once was.

Christ isn't in a red cup.  Christ is in the hearts & thoughts of those who are His.  And maybe, just maybe....you can show Christ's love through a plain red cup this season.