Sunset tonight was really, incredibly beautiful. Sunset is God’s love language with me. Or at least that’s how it feels. He always sends me the most beautiful purples, pinks, and oranges on the days that I need it most. It got me thinking about the sunset that He sent me on the evening we left our last home. I remembered the pain - and ridiculous amount of tears - as I pulled out of that driveway for the last time. The emotions of literally closing the door on that chapter of our lives. The only place that George Mason knew as home. The place where Audrey had almost all of her firsts. The place where we got surrounded by and overwhelmed with love and community as we learned how to live after losing our son. Sunset. Sunset brought all those feelings back, as vivid as if they were yesterday; yet they were a year ago.

I went to George’s grave while I was back east last week. I intended to watch sunset with a glass of wine, on a blanket next to his marker. I figured that if it ended up being a tear-filled and solemn evening, I could at least have sunset and it’s perfect reminder of my God who has been there through it all. Except there wasn’t even a glimpse of sunset. Clouds filled the sky and a wet and grey day ended on a cold and grey night. And I sat on that blanket, next to my sister, and didn’t shed a tear. Not a single one. It was sad, sure, to sit there next to all of those babies gone too soon, but instead of weeping over my lost baby, I reminisced about his brief life, the memories we’ve made since his death, and my hopes for the future. God didn’t give me a sunset that night, but He gave me something better: hope. It’s not often that I can talk about my son and in the next breath dream about our future. Thanks to a loving Father, I did.

Then there was today. Today was a hard day. Audrey Nole has been particularly sassy lately and today was one of the worst she’s had in a while. Its hard on days like today not to doubt myself as mama. Or to run down the rabbit trails of what if... what if she had her brother here, would she be less of a brat? What if her brother hadn’t died, would I have been a better parent? What if her grief is manifesting as temper tantrums and I’m missing it? I don’t really have the true answers to those what ifs, but I do know that mom guilt is a thing, and when I find myself on the way to a tea party with hat wearing rabbits, I’m incredibly thankful for things like glaringly gorgeous sunsets. They are a snap back to reality. The reality that God has a plan. That my son’s death was not for nothing. That God designed Audrey in His image, and that she is going to be given the strength to face whatever life throws at her; even if those punches started as early as toddlerhood.

It’s so crazy that sunset, something that happens every day like clockwork, can be such a personal conversation with my Savior when I need it most. That on a day that tested my patience and my skills as a parent, God hugged me. A warm, solid, squeezy-hug type of embrace. To tell me that it’s all going to be ok.

I want to pray these words for my sweet Audrey and any possible future siblings, because we serve a great God who is bigger than any pain we will endure here on earth and I want her to know that deep in her gut and tattoo it on her heart. Her grief now, because of her experiences, are working in God’s plan and furthering His kingdom. One day, I hope she can look at the sunset {or whatever language God uses to speak to her} and see that His kingdom has been spread to the edges of her world because of her brother.

“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.” -Philippians 1:9-13