It has been a while since I dug deep into this journal. Not for lack of trying. In fact, most days over the last month or so, I have sat down and tried to write. Write all the things that have been swirling around in my head. And yet, as I begin to type, or doodle, or put pencil to paper, I get a jumbled mess of words. There doesn’t seem to be much sense to be made of all the emotions lately. From Mother’s Day to family baptisms, this month has been filled to the brim with the exaggerated emotions of either end of the spectrum. It’s hard to sort it all out, and most of the time, if feels like I have to just get through it to be able to look back and digest it; not unlike this entire grief journey.

Oh death, where is your sting?

Oh hell, where is your victory?

Oh church, come stand in the light.

Our God is not dead, He’s Alive! He’s alive!

Every time I’m able to look back on the life that happened to me ( I know that I’m an active participant, but when the emotions, both good and bad, feel overwhelming, life can seem like it’s just happening around me and to me), I think about that song. Death stings. A whole hell of a lot. And so many times it feels like the Devil is filling my head with chaos so that I cannot, or will not, listen intently for the voice of my Good Father. Yet, whether life has happened or been experienced, or even better - been enjoyed - God is good and death doesn’t win. The grief ceases for even just a moment and the rays of joy begin to pierce the clouds of this storm. There is hope, for the end is just the beginning.

I keep coming back to this disappointment in what my motherhood looks like. Not to detract from the very real and heavy longing for my son, but the way that I miss him is changing. And as that changes, I am forced to look at my own story, my future. At the moment, I’m a mama to a vibrant, challenging, life filled, living little girl and a son in heaven - whom I barely know. I don’t have a mother and my home can seem empty on so many days. I didn’t imagine this yet I’m living this. These realities are hard to process. The questions that they bring with them are hard to ask, let alone answer. When an unknowing stranger asks if we will have any more children, do I tell them I have no idea? Do I share with them the intimate details of this story? The loss of a child? The infertility? The emotional stress of making decisions about the size of your family - that you actually have no control over, yet crave to know the details of? Do I just smile and nod and move on? Do I share maybe just a part of the work God is doing in my life? But which part?

I think those are just some of the reasons it’s been hard to write. To face this reality and then be content in this place. Because God’s heart may have broken alongside ours when George Mason took his last breath, but it also ordained every single breath - George Mason took exactly as many as he was supposed to. So that means that this was allowed to happen and planned for. God didn’t kill my son. But he didn’t save him. Those aren’t anywhere near the same thing, but to a mama’s broken heart, they sure can feel as if they are. So when I start to feel the weight of disappointment getting heavier, I have to step back from myself and run for my Savior. I can’t do this life alone, and I definitely can’t be content in it, alone. So I have to cling to Jesus. I have to trust with every fiber of my being. Not only that He will sustain me, but that his timing is perfect. And that’s really, really, hard for me.

One of the most helpful things for me in this grief has been to find, and outwardly thank God for, the things that are obvious gifts. There have been so many in this last month, that it feels appropriate to shout from the mountain tops. Father, I’m so thankful for this little girl that you have given us. Her spunk and zeal for life is infectious. It reminds me, in all the best ways, of my mama - and when I miss my mama, it’s pretty great to look over and see so many of the best parts of her in my daughter. I’m thankful for the new lives that have begun in our family in this last year. For the joy that radiates from the faces of those new lives. I’m thankful for my husband, who works tirelessly to support, protect, and lead this family. I’m thankful for the partnership I have with him and the way that he is living in this grief with me. We are a team, complimenting each other’s highs and lows. It’s not by accident that we are doing this life together. I’m thankful for a preschool for Audrey that has allowed her to flourish. That has loved her so well as she lives in her own version of grief. I’m thankful for the friendships that you have placed in our path, that we could not deny or pass by. Instead, we were sucked in, in the very best way, to be supported and loved on in all of our highs and lows. I’m thankful that even though my motherhood doesn’t look like I planned, and my humanness can often get caught up in the disappointment of that reality, that you are there in it with me. From the very best moments - the pride and joy that comes from our living child and the memory of our precious son - to the hardest ones - an empty nursery, the desire of Audrey for a sibling - You are sustaining. I’m thankful that my weakness doesn’t define who I am to you, but instead the blood of your Son means I am your child, I am beloved. I’m thankful for your Word, that cuts deep into my soul and points me always to you.

“fear not Abram; I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward” - Gen 15:1