Christmas is over. We survived. One might even go as far as saying we actually enjoyed ourselves. A far cry from the previous year and the weight of the grief that held us tight. By all accounts, it was lovely. Relaxing, reflective, and wonderful. We woke up a little earlier than usual to find that Santa had paid us a visit. The sheer joy and excitement in the eyes of our sweet Audrey Nole were the most perfect way to start the day. As we sat around in our pjs, there were presents to unwrap, breakfast to be had, and general laziness to sink into. Audrey Nole loved every second. She was surprised and excited by each new gift and she made me proud by the gratitude she showed. It was all the reasons that so many people told me last year to suck it up and do it for Audrey. I honestly hated hearing that. I mean, on one level I can understand the sentiment and I can even agree. But on the deepest, most raw surface of my emotions, my grief last year was intense - and it didn’t make sense to hide it or stuff it for any reason. Not even Christmas.

Last year felt as if I had just said hello and goodbye to my son. It felt like only days before had we made that long and painful drive home from the hospital; alone and obviously missing our youngest family member. How could I possibly celebrate when sorrow loomed? How could I pull myself, artificially, out of the depths of the shadow of the valley of death? My heart, my head, my body, all needed deeper healing to do that. And while those were all things that God could absolutely have spoke into submission, he didn’t. He hunkered down in my grief with me, and burnished my soul as it was dragged through every mother’s nightmare. So I didn’t hype myself up for Christmas last year. We put up a tree and Santa made his visit, but beyond a few moments of laughter with my sister and the joy that comes from having children on that special day, Christmas was awful and difficult and mostly felt wrong; celebrating life, even as significant a life as the Savior of the world, felt like a betrayal of my own precious son.

Yet, as I look back on my journal entry from last year, I’m in awe, and also not, by the thoughts of my heart. I remember the day with all of the dread that lead up to it, but beyond the rough sketch of the day’s plan, there’s not much I can draw on. However, as I read from that day, I am overwhelmed by how fully and wonderfully I felt God’s presence. He gave me the peace that could only come from the Prince of Peace. He gave me the energy to wake that day and do the whole Christmas thing. He gave me community to love me and prayerfully go through that day with me. What a God I serve. That even in the dread and through the thick fog of grief, He granted me exactly what I needed on that day {and every other day for all of time} to be able to see Him and feel Him and celebrate. I’m so thankful for the hope that comes with Christmas. The anticipation of the Son of God’s birth is bring-you-to-your-knees overwhelming. It is the most wonderful gift. And one that no matter where my heart lies, from the deepest parts of sorrow to the highest peaks of joy - and often a combination of both - is faithfully, eternally, true. I didn’t have it in me to do much celebrating in 2017, yet God met me there and filled my broken heart with gratitude and JOY. In 2018, I longed for Christmas in a way that I haven’t in a while. I knew it was complicated and that it will likely always be so, but He met me in that.

Two Christmases without our son. Two different places in this grief journey, met with equal tenderness, comfort, and strength, by the God who sent His own Son. There is much to be thankful for in this story I’m living. There is also much to celebrate. The empty stocking on Christmas Day wasn’t so empty. It was filled with the Holy Spirit and was the most heart wrenching, yet unbelievably sweet, reminder of God’s presence in our home and our hearts. He gave me the “glad tidings of comfort and joy” last year and this year he showed me the “wonders of his love.”

A Merry Christmas indeed. Happy Birthday, Jesus! So thankful you were born.


Ever since my mama died in 2015, Christmas has had a dark cloud that looms over it. Not in a seriously depressing way,  but the less obvious, heartache that almost feels like indigestion kind of way. We miss her and her over the top execution of all things holidays. The laughter and smiles that she would get from watching us unwrap presents. The frustration when we begged for just one more present before we took a food break. The deep, all encompassing love that she showed for each of us and the people we brought into the family. She loved fiercely and the absence of that is noticed a little more pointedly at Christmas.

Once we lost George Mason, the cloud changed shaped. We all will still miss our mama and her abundant joy during this season. But in 2017 we lost a little boy - and with that loss came all of the dreams we had for him and the experiences we should have gotten. The years of presents from Santa and the tedious waiting by big sister as baby brother figured out this whole unwrapping thing. We lost the faces of joy and excitement as he dug through his stocking. We lost decades of memories and gained scars on our hearts.

This is our second Christmas without George Mason. Last year I barely managed to put up a tree and go through the motions of Christmas cheer. But this year is different, and I’m so thankful for that. I still miss George Mason deeply, but I miss him without the deep mourning of his life. So this year, instead of going through the motions, I’ve enjoyed this season. The shopping and decorating. The Christmas cards. I even hung our stockings - and included one for George Mason. Santa probably isn’t going to fill it, and the emptiness tomorrow morning will be a reminder of his absence in our lives, but just seeing it there, along with the others, makes this mama’s heart happy.

I don’t know what the details of living this life without George Mason look like in the long term (hence the looming empty stocking). But as I sink deep into the Gospel, I realize that there is nothing in there that says I have to have it all figured out. Jesus, the King of Kings, was born in a stable and placed in a feeding trough. Nothing about his birth was Pinterest perfect. I’m sure his mom was a little freaked out and probably even a little angry that she had to birth her very first baby in a dusty old barn. Yet, it was a child that the whole world celebrates. That everyone from lowly shepherds to influential kings would come and bow before. If a king born in a stable doesn’t give me grace for not having a perfect plan or reason in this grief, I’m not sure what will. The Gospel of redemption through a baby in a manger. If hay and manure can be part of God’s perfect plan to save His people, an empty stocking certainly can be a part of this journey of grief. Because tomorrow isn’t about presents or Santa (as fun and wonderful and magical as those things are), it’s about celebrating life. The most important life of all time. And on a day where life is celebrated, I’m so happy to include my son - even if he isn’t here to celebrate with us. In fact, I’m a little jealous. Can you imagine the birthday party being held in heaven?

Cloud of sorrow and all, this is my story. This is George Mason’s story. This is Jesus’ story. Christmas will never be the same for our family as it was before we lost. But it will always be the most special celebration of the most special life. Even if I don’t have all the details worked out perfectly.

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. For those who lived in a land of deep shadows - light! sunbursts of light! You repopulated the nation, you expanded its joy. Oh, they're so glad in your presence! Festival joy! The joy of a great celebration, sharing rich gifts and warm greetings. The abuse of oppressors and cruelty of tyrants - all their whips and cudgels and curses - Is gone, done away with, a deliverance as surprising and sudden as Gideon's old victory over Midian. The boots of all those invading troops, along with their shirts soaked with innocent blood, Will be piled in a heap and burned, a fire that will burn for days! For a child has been born - for us! the gift of a son - for us! He'll take over the running of the world. His names will be: Amazing Counselor, Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness. His ruling authority will grow, and there'll be no limits to the wholeness he brings. “ - Isaiah 9:2-7a MSG



This season, where there are twinkle lights and Christmas trees everywhere, it’s magical. It has always been that way for me. I’ve loved Christmas for as long as I can remember. My mama used to tell me that I arrived 3 weeks early just so that I could be a December baby, because it was the perfect fit for me. I’m so thankful for the magic of the Christmas season. From the carols and familiar songs to the lights and the smells. It closes each year out perfectly.  But what I’m most thankful for is a Father who sent his son to be human. A human who would live perfectly, love intensely, and die to wipe clean the slate of every human who would come to love him and accept his gift of redemption - particularly the babies.

As Audrey and I were driving the other day, she was telling me about her children - her future children to be exact; not the imaginary ones she bosses around and cares for throughout her day. It’s always so interesting to hear what she imagines her adult life to look like. From marrying her prince {aka her dad} to being a mother, or doctor, or princess, she talks to me about grown up life with vivid detail and intensity. This day was no different. Except instead of the usual light and often silly circumstances that come out of a 3 year old’s imagination, this particular future situation hit really close to home.

She told me that when she grows up she’s going to have one kid. “Because that’s all God is going to give me”. Then a few minutes later she went into detail about her “only” child. It would be a girl, of course, and it would have a baby brother who got sick and had to go to Heaven. I about slammed the brakes.

My heart stopped. In that moment, the reality of the depth of how her brother’s life has shaped her world view was intense. How many 3 year olds imagine a life where they bury their own child? It’s hard enough for me to process our son’s life and why we lost him. But it utterly breaks my heart to know that our darling daughter and big sister had to experience death at just 2. And that not only did she experience it at such a young age, it has become normal for her to expect people to die - and while that’s probably a good lesson to learn, I will never understand why it was taught before her second birthday; and in such an intimate way, at that.

I don’t really know how to engage her when things like this pop up. I know it’s her way of processing - play and imagination are truly gifts from God - and I don’t want to hinder that. I also don’t want her to expect death at every corner. I want her to feel that same innocence and ignorance that I felt when I got that first positive pregnancy test. I want her to have that same excitement as she figures out what it means to carry a child. Not the anxiety ridden, fear riddled, despair of a looming ending. It has taken me almost 2 years, 3 different medications, countless hours of counsel, and more minutes in tears/prayer than I can even know, to get to this place of being somewhat OK. I had to work through the process of healing my physical body. Then I had to work through the numbness that led to anger and frustration. Then I had to face the irrational fears of the sky is falling. And then I had to stop fighting the embrace of Jesus and rest I’m his refuge as I came to the understanding that my questions about why - in whatever form they take at any moment - may not be answered this side if heaven.

How many of those layers of grief is Audrey experiencing? How many is she aware of? When will she realize that death, while impossible to escape, isn’t the norm? That even in this broken world, parents burying their children is the exception? I didn’t know until I went through it for myself that 1/4 of all pregnancies end in loss. I didn’t know that 1/4 families is missing one (or more) of their babies. I’m definitely more mindful of that now. And I can only hope, along with faithful prayer, that my own daughter’s intimate relationship with death is going to be put to great use for God’s kingdom. Because while I lived to be almost 30 before I realized the magnitude of death among our families, my sweet Audrey Nole will grow up with a special heart for those who have or will experience loss. She is God’s warrior. And sometimes warriors look more like friends than anything else. 

I cant think of a better place for the babies that don’t end up in their parent’s arms than in the embrace of their Heavenly Father. It doesn’t fix the hurt, but it is a wonderful way to get through those stages of grief. Thank you Jesus for coming to that manger. And then that cross.  

She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. - Proverbs 31:25





As Audrey and I drove out of the parking lot at school today, she very excitedly asked me to dig out the picture she drew. She couldn’t wait to show me the family picture she had made - on the back of a worksheet no less. I don’t know if it was an organized or prompted exercise, but nonetheless, she was proud of her accomplishment and wanted to show it off. (I may or may not be apologizing to her teacher for her paying attention or not - still to be determined) 

As we drove down the road, it was obviously hard for me to really examine the picture and take in all of its details, so I started asking her questions. As she pointed out all of the things and people she had drawn, the list went like this: This is daddy, and you, and me, and Penny. “and that’s our family!!” And in that instant, there was a burst of both pride and sorrow. What a milestone to write down. She drew her first {I think ever} family picture. ITS LEGIBLE. You can see faces and eyes, legs, arms, even hands. Its a literal portrait of her growing up. She is capable of drawing stick people when two months ago, heck two weeks ago, she was scribbling on pages and calling it slides, and whales, and christmas trees. On this day, this december, she drew her family and it actually resembles her family. Except it doesn’t. At least not all of it. And there lies the sorrow. The totally equal, totally simultaneous, joy and sorrow. 

After the initial punch to the chest wore off, I asked her if she drew George. She frustratedly said no. I didn’t really want to push it, but this mama’s heart wanted to know what was going on in that preschooler’s head (and heart), so I asked why not. After a deep breath, she told me she didn’t know how. And then it all made sense. Because none of this makes sense to me, and I’m a grown adult with an ever deepening relationship with my Holy Comforter. Why would I expect my 3 year old to have the answers? I struggle daily with how to include our sweet son in our lives. As each day brings us further from his day, I am faced with decisions about how his life will be represented; every single day for the rest of my life. So when she told me she didn’t know how, it made perfect sense. I guess in a way I sort of hoped that her child’s mind and innocence would work out those details for me. That her first family picture would include George Mason, maybe not in the same line or way as it did her parents and her dog, but that he would be represented as a member of her family. And that I would learn something profound in the way she chose to navigate that. I guess I did still learn something profound: the route to representing and including George is not drawn out perfectly for us. It will be written by the tugs of our hearts on each new day. It will be supported by the perfect new mercies of our Father. And it will never be perfect or complete until we are reunited in eternity. 

I’ve been sinking into the words of Ecclesiastes 3 for a solid week now. Just being told, in plain, not subtle, words, that there is a time for everything, has been healing and frustrating all at the same time. It has reminded me that George Mason was not taken from this earth a moment sooner than was intended; that God had a plan for his life and George lived it to the exact second that God intended. It reminded me that because of the brokenness that came of the fall, there is a time for life and a time for death. I needed those reminders because sometimes I forget. I get wrapped up in the emotions of loss and forget that George lived for God. 16 wonderful hours, entirely for God - and for a purpose that likely only God knows. But in that purpose, we know was the underlying thread of furthering God’s kingdom. I seriously can’t wait to get to Heaven and see what that looks like. To one day meet the person or people who know God because of George. It honestly feels like the most perfect way to end this life and begin eternity. And that was the last reminder, that God has “put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live;” 

God placed eternity into our hearts. From our creation, He instilled in us eternity. Something to live for. Something to look forward to. Something to give us a glimpse at the work He is doing, yet knowing we can’t fathom the entirety of the details. It is written that all of this life, from beginning to end, is God’s gift to us. That we would “eat & drink, and take pleasure in the toils.” I’m still working on what that means for me, for anyone really, but what I do know, is that all of these promises God has made, are the real deal. And whether or not I completely understand all of the details now or in eternity, doesn’t make them any less real or true. So as I process the punches of unexpected {or not so unexpected} family portraits, I know that God has ordained a time for everything, including my sweet son and all of the joy and sorrow that has, is, and will come from his life. 

What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.

Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before; and God will call the past to account.” Ecclesiastes 3:9-15

Mama, Daddy, Audrey, & Penny

Mama, Daddy, Audrey, & Penny


Tomorrow is December 1st, but since Thanksgiving was so early this year, it feels like the Christmas season is already in full swing. Trees are up, houses are lit, and twinkle lights abound; as does the smell of pine, poinsettias everywhere, cheesy hallmark movies, the same 10 songs on the radio, and memories galore. I love all of those things. I love to walk into a place and feel the warmth that twinkle lights automatically bring to a space. I love the scents and tastes of holiday baking. Give me all the cinnamon. But on the opposite end of the yumminess, is the hard part of living life after loss: memories and the holes they make so obvious.

Truth is, Christmas is my favorite. And last year, I wanted nothing to do with it. I forced myself into putting up a tree. I went through the motions of the traditions our little family is building with Audrey. But every minute, of every day, I missed my son with so much of my heart, it didn’t feel like there was space for anything else. I spent a lot of time crying and even more time dreading each of the motions I was preparing myself to go through. This year though, this year is different. I couldn’t wait to get our tree up. I was beyond excited to “deck our halls” and even though I don’t have literal boughs of holly, there was/is a spirit this year that was hidden beneath a million layers of grief and heartbreak a year ago.

As I take time to reflect, it becomes clear that last year was for deep grief and mourning. It was for yelling at God. For processing emotions and promises from scripture. It was hard and painful. It was digging way down into the depths of the raw wounds that were left by the loss of my son. It sucked. But it also forced me to face those wounds and work towards healing them. The scar is big and it will never go away, but the wound is closed. Nearly two years out and it’s not as raw as it once was. I wish there wasn’t a scar. I wish my heart hadn’t broken in the first place, but given the circumstances, I’d do it all again for George Mason. And that is why this year is different. Last year I mourned. This year I celebrate.

From Christmas trees and twinkle lights to stockings hung on the mantle, my family, my whole family, has a space. I was out shopping with Audrey Nole yesterday for a Christmas tree for her room. It was sweet and wonderful to watch her intentionally choose one ornament over another and get excited about where she would place it on her very own tree. Moments like that can’t be prepared for, because mostly they are spontaneous - out of survival or necessity, they become cherished memories. She placed each ornament on her tree and talked about how beautiful it was. We both got lost, for a brief moment anyway, in the joy for making precious memories as mama and daughter. Just like with most things, however, the happiness in that moment was opposed by the equal tug on my scar over a little boy who isn’t joining us. Except that he is. Because as she was obsessing over the little details that make her tree hers, I found a little yellow dinosaur with a space for a picture and it immediately made me think of George. I don’t know if he would have been into dinosaurs or trucks or aliens or excavators, but when I saw the bright yellow body of this tiny little dinosaur, I couldn’t help but place it in the cart. My sweet son would be the perfect age to love dinosaurs. And so for every Christmas from now on, that moment in hobby lobby with my daughter will be shared by the sweet memory of her brother and the newest addition to our family ornament collection. As we trim our tree for years to come, we can be reminded of that moment in time where George Mason was a participant in a new memory. Where it moved beyond his 16 hours and set a place for him in 2018.

 “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

a time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break down, and a time to build up;

a time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

a time to seek, and a time to lose;

a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

a time to tear, and a time to sew;

a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

a time to love, and a time to hate;

a time for war, and a time for peace.” - Ecclesiastes 3:1-8



This next season of the year is going to be full and busy. In many ways that’s wonderful, life giving, and celebratory in a way that only the holiday season can be. But it also will bring up hard emotions. I was talking to my sister this morning and we were reminiscing about the holidays. How thankful we are that our parents made them so special for us as kids (and adults) and for the memories we hold on to that drive our new family traditions and experiences. My mama was really good at holidays. Like really, really good. And whether it was just the 6 of us or a house full of neighbors and friends, each moment was shaped by her love for Jesus and the hospitality it brought out in her.

I’m thankful for those memories because she’s no longer here. It makes hosting thanksgiving dinner, putting up the tree, or eating fondue on NYE, that much more special; as if a part of my mama is still here for these holidays that she loved so much.  It’s also what makes missing George Mason so hard. There aren’t special moments written into my story that can be remembered and shared with others over the thanksgiving table. I don’t have sweet pictures in my mind of his first taste of stuffing and gravy. I don’t have a Christmas list to check off. What I do have is a stocking with his name on it and no clue what to do with it. I have a hole in my heart and a pit in my stomach as we create traditions and make memories with Audrey Nole because he’s not here. There will always be bits of my mama throughout my home but how does that translate to my son? How do pieces of his 16 hours get weaved into our tapestry? How will those outside of my immediate circle know and love him and remember him - because Adam and I will never forget - when all we have is a perfectly formed and created baby who only made 16 hours worth of fingerprints on this world?

I’m getting ready to do thanksgiving prep. There will be chopping and sautéing. There will be messes made and messes cleaned up, just to start again. There will be spatulas licked and inquisitive Audrey Nole commentary to go with it all. But there won’t be George Mason; at least not in the way I had hoped and dreamed. I remember how precious Audrey’s first thanksgiving was and how excited I was for her second (it was a bit of a disappointment after her first haha). This would be George’s second. He would be talking, walking, and thoroughly getting into the guts of all of the things. There would be 2 sections of the Christmas tree with an overload of ornaments. There would be 20 tiny fingers making their imprint on our menu and our tree. But instead there are only 10. And only 1. And instead of the sweet sound of a new talker and sibling convos, it will be me and Audrey Nole. And we will probably talk about how much we miss George. And Audrey will talk to her daddy about how to set the table and tell him he’s doing it all wrong. And those moments, those are the ones that hurt the most. Where I miss him the most. And where I would literally give anything to have my almost 2 year old here with me.

I can’t change the hurt. I can’t take away this loss. Trust me, I would if I could. But what I can do is take that love of Jesus that I’ve been learning so much more about and pass it on, just like my mama. I will open my home. I will talk about my son. I will weep when necessary. And because it keeps crossing my mind, I’m going to pray for each of the people that knew my son in that hospital on his day. That they would somehow spread tiny pieces of my son throughout their own stories. That God would have worked in their lives through George Mason’s. And that as they go on caring for sick babies, they would remember the one almost 2 years ago who touched their lives in a way that I cannot even fathom. It sounds almost selfish to think that way, but when I consider George’s life and his short time here, I can only see God at work. Because George completed the work of his Savior in only 16 hours. And I may never fully know what that means, but it was 16 worth living. And those 16 hours are worth any pain that comes from their end. Because loving George Mason is one of the greatest privileges of my life.


A little over a week ago, I talked with my doctor and made a plan to wean off of the anxiety meds I’ve been taking for the last 8 or so months. They have been an enormous help in resetting my brain and easing the daily struggles with irrational, and often highly unlikely, thoughts and fears. There was only so much that my body was capable of handling on its own, and after nearly a year of wrestling those thoughts, I sought help, and I’m so glad I did. But now, as Adam and I contemplate what the future might hold for our family, it seems time to end the medications. Not because they haven’t been wonderfully helpful, but because I’m in a really good place. God has been good. He has shown me His promises are ones that won’t be broken and that when I’m down and low, he’s there in that valley with me. Psalm 23 says it perfectly, from start to finish. The Lord is my shepherd… He restores my soul… even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, FOR YOU ARE WITH ME. 

I didn’t make the decision for meds lightly and as I discussed the process of weaning with my doctor, the final decision was one made prayerfully and cautiously. Parenting my living child is as important as grieving my dead child. I have to be healthy and present for her in as many ways as I often want to retreat into the depths of grief - its often easier there. To just process all of the memories and emotions from George Mason’s time on earth, both in my womb and out. There are no active fears that creep up on me. There are no dinners to be made or toddler behaviors to address and correct. It is just me, my memories, and my Savior. So as Adam and I talked through this next step, we made sure to allow room for grace as we transition. This next season of holidays and gatherings will inevitably be hard. It will be full of all the ways that I miss George Mason and all of the joys of having a family and being together with them. I will likely feel many of those same fears and anxieties begin to creep back into my thoughts, but this time, this year, its different from last. It’s not just about surviving the unknowns of life without my son. Its about living forward and understanding backward. Allowing myself to feel whatever it is that comes up. Processing the hard stuff, and then letting it go and giving it to God. Because I’ve survived the first year - and now almost the second - and if I’ve learned anything, its that God handles this way better than I do. every single time. 

This morning as Audrey and I walked through Trader Joes to pick out our Thanksgiving turkey, I was hit with the very vivid memories of preparing our thanksgiving meal 2 years ago. I was pregnant with George, and while I don’t remember the dates exactly, we had just recently been told there was not much expectation for our sweet boy to survive to the 28 week mark, let alone be born full term and alive. I remember the devastation I felt as I drove home from that sonogram. I dropped Adam at work and then I cried. hard, loud, ugly tears. I texted my dad “he’s dying” and then I parked my car and walked into my friend’s house to pick up Audrey Nole. As she opened the door, she gave me the biggest embrace. It felt like it lasted for months (and honestly, it did), and without asking me any questions, she cared for my daughter, brought me a box of tissues, and cried with me. There’s not much about the following days and weeks that I remember. Details from those last weeks/months of my pregnancy are cloudy at best on most days. But I remember putting together my thanksgiving menu and shopping list, wondering, as I wrote each item down, if I would still be pregnant by the time I served this grand meal. Would thanksgiving be a celebration or would it be canceled? I remember the intense waiting. Not knowing if or when I would stop feeling my baby move. Waiting to call the doctor and let them know that this precious baby had died. Waiting to yell at God just a little bit louder than I already was. Waiting to bury a little boy; barely known, deeply loved. 

I remember the comments from grocery store cashiers as I paid for the various items on my list. “Oh! You are so big! What a blessing, I’m sure you can’t wait to meet this precious one!” or “You are just glowing! Boy or Girl? When are you due?” I didn’t feel like I was glowing. I didn’t feel like I could even accurately answer the due date question. My often filter free mouth would want to blurt out all the heavy things I was dealing with and then walk away. But as I tried to smile my way through each grocery check out, I was left with that pit in my stomach of all the what ifs and worst case scenarios. 

I don’t think that if I were being honest with myself, that I ever expected to carry George Mason to term. I braced myself for that c-section after we no longer heard a heart beat. My deepest fears were being lived out in the darkest parts of my mind. And as I stood over the stove stirring gravy, or chopping veggies, I subconsciously counted kicks and wondered if today would be the last day I would know my son alive. But on the complete opposite side of all of that, I just had to believe that God was going to give me a miracle. That I would give birth to a living baby. A baby that could breath and cry and eat. A baby that could make those tiniest of coos as he met his parents for the first time (and not the last). There was no way that I could live each, wake up each morning, if I didn’t believe in that miracle. So each day was riddled with both the preparation of losing my son and the unstoppable belief that God was going to save him. And this morning in front of the Trader Joe’s turkey selection, I felt every one of this conflicting emotions flood my head and heart in an instant. Perhaps its no wonder the anxiety had gotten so bad. Perhaps its also no wonder that this journey has brought me to my knees, and therefore closer to my Savior, than I’ve ever been. 



I’ve been a little all over the place lately. Feeling thankful for this season of gatherings and celebration. Feeling frustrated that we’ve been called to yet another winter in Utah. Feeling excited for what our next chapter may hold. Feeling worried {and guarded} about the possibility of another disappointment. Sometimes it’s such a jumble of emotions and thoughts in my head that I don’t even want to be in them; and that’s a bit how it’s felt this last week or so. There is so much to process and sort through. So many ways in which God is speaking into my heart. Words that are often a comfort, but also words that are convicting and difficult to acknowledge.

God has proven over and over - and His Word is clear on the subject - that He is in this with me, for my good, because He loves me. It is one thing that my head and my heart can agree on: God has got this. But then the little cracks in my foundation begin to fill with the quiet whispers of the devil. The lies that he tells, filled with just enough truth, that isolate me from my support. That pull me away from the rich words of the Scriptures. Telling me I’m failing at motherhood or my temper is too short. Telling me I’m unhappy because God chose not to save my son. Jillian, why would you serve a God who doesn’t even love you enough to calm your anxiety when you ask? It’s something simple! Surely a god that loves you would only want good (easy) things for you? Certainly you should expect a life of earthly satisfaction, filled with every whim of your heart’s desire. Surely THAT is what a god worthy of serving would do.

Or the biggest lie of all: Jillian, you say God loves you. You say that He is capable of absolutely anything. But you WILL be disappointed again. He WILL let you down again, and you WILL weep over loss and through pain, again.

No! It’s not truth. God’s character is so much richer than superficial earthly happiness. His desires for my life are not laid out like a sprint. He is in this life, has laid out a plan, for the marathon whose finish line is the gates of Heaven. Yet I find myself pulled between knowing He can (or could have) and knowing He won’t.

I don’t run. Anyone that knows me, knows I don’t run. So I can’t exactly relate to what it feels like to start, run, and finish a marathon. But I do know the math. That at any point up until 13.1, you can turn around and not go the distance needed to cross that finish line. At any point before 13.1, you will have run less than 26.2. But when you cross that threshold, no matter how tired your legs may feel or how heavy your body becomes, you have to just keep going because the end is nearer than the beginning. Days like today feel a lot like I imagine that feels. Heavy legs, tired from the distance and pace. But it doesn’t make sense to turn around. Because what is waiting at the end is SO WORTH the journey. And the reality is that turning around would be harder anyway. The start line has such an allure to it. It is a place where there is excitement and anticipation. Where you put your training to the test, as each mile gets crossed off that mental checklist. I often find myself wishing for that start line. For that place in my past that didn’t hold the realities of sore legs and tired lungs - where there wasn’t intimate experiences with the world’s brokenness and the innocence and blissful ignorance of just knowing that God has good things for me isn’t tainted - but instead held excitement for the future and crossing off each new mile.

I don’t think there is anything Satan could offer me that would have me trade these last 3 years for anything else. Despite loss, pain, suffering, disappointment, whatever it’s called today, I have experienced God in incredible ways. I have been comforted and loved deeply. I am fully known, personally and intimately, by the God of the universe. That is a truly wonderful gift. I have carried and held 2 of the most precious babies. I have been made mama, a title that gives me both the greatest pleasures and worst pains. I have a beautiful daughter and son who each have given me a new perspective through which to view and know my God. And even though I have buried both my own mama and my son, nothing could ever be better than this. And when I start to hear the whispers of evil, I want to remember all those hours I’ve spent in the Psalms, and all the ways that God has shown his incredible gentleness towards his people. I will shout His Word in the face of the devil. I will seek refuge in the plumes of His wings and I will stand firm on the steadfastness of His character.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” - Philippians 4:4


Yesterday we entered the month of November. The time of year that so many people focus on gratitude; looking each day for a specific thing that they can say they are thankful for. Its so wonderful to be intentional about that, as often I can find myself more interested in the things that aren’t happening or working in my favor at the forefront of my mind. It also seems, as a loss mama, that there is such an obvious reason to grumble, that expressing - and intentionally looking for - gratitude feels slightly like a white lie in some way. While I know that there is SO much that I have to celebrate and appreciate, sometimes the task of naming those things  is easier said than done. Too often, any of the good things, the blessings, the gifts, etc, are tied, whether directly or indirectly, to the tough things. I shouldn’t be surprised… that is this stage of life. Equal parts joy AND sorrow. Because with every moment of wonderfulness there is a tinge of sadness, of mourning, of loss. And incredibly, in every moment of hard, God has sprinkled himself into each and every complicated layer: like butter in a flaky pastry - His goodness runs deep and wide, and coats my every emotion. He cannot be ignored, and for that I am most grateful. 

I’m going to try to commit to being intentional about gratitude. I think that the exercise alone, of seeking out those kisses from God, is enough to make one’s heart soften. I will be thankful that I looked for God and when I find Him, I will have the biggest reason to smile. (and the wonderful thing about God, is that you don’t have to look all that far - He’s there, in bold color, holding your hand, covering you with His wings, and providing the best place of refuge, but also the most pure source of complete and utter Joy, in His Son) He places the people in my lives that shape my days and my weeks. He lays out those perfect sunsets. He paces my Bible study to find just the right verses of encouragement/conviction/comfort. He times the hugs and snuggles of a very independent 3 year old. He gives me the energy to get outside and walk; to breathe in the crisp fall air, and to move the muscles that He so perfectly designed. God is good and that is the reason for, source of, and thing that deserves my deepest gratitude. 

“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for“‘In him we live and move and have our being’;[b] as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’” Acts 17:24-28


This last year and a half has been filled with so much. There’s been the grief and mourning of our son. The closing of our home and the opening of a new one. There’s been a year full of firsts without George Mason and year full of growth for Audrey Nole. 

I sort of assumed that while the absence of George Mason would not really ever be pain free, doing life as  the McGough family would start become more normal feeling. I suppose to some extent that’s true. We miss our son, we feel his absence and long for his presence, but we are making memories as our family of 3; or is it 4? We are moving forward in this life while we hold on to the memories, though brief, of the 9 months and 1 day that we got to spend with George Mason. 

As we went around our neighborhood last night, I really, really felt the hole in our family. Sweet Audrey was just absolutely loving the door-to-door knocking and the candy was an easy motivator to face her timidity and approach each door with confidence and glee. She was running the sidewalks with a few of the neighborhood kids, all boys actually, and was having the time of her life. And in that moment, watching her have a blast, my parent’s heart was simultaneously filled with joy that matched hers and sorrow over missing her sidekick. She was dressed as Queen Elsa and it felt like her little brother would have made the perfect, toddling, Olaf. Can’t you just imagine those sweet toddler cheeks painted red with a bright orange carrot nose? 

I have a feeling that this next couple months, filled will holidays, traditions, and gatherings of friends and family, will be hard; almost harder than they were last year. We were so stuck in the depths of our grief last year, that it was hard to really pay much attention to the dates on the calendar and the many ways it would be possible to miss our son. But this year will be different. We’ve been through all of the normal “firsts” without him. We survived all the holidays, all the should-have-been baby milestones. But this year, since we won’t be focused on surviving the first time, we will be more aware of the things we’re missing by not having our boy here with us. 

I’m going to allow myself to lean into those feelings of missing him. To cry when necessary and weep when I just can’t control myself. I’m going to pray that I would run deeper into the arms of my Father as we approach this holiday season and then close out year two without George Mason. I know that I will be comforted in the emotions that come from being a loss mama. I know that my God will give me new mercies, every single day, for whatever feelings will sneak up on me. Yet often in those moments, when the missing turns back to mourning, I forget. I forget His goodness. I forget His steadfast character. And thankfully, He won’t let me. 



I was driving home this morning from my ladies bible study and was hit with this very vivid memory from George’s day. As I sat at a stop light, I was suddenly right there in my hospital bed. After we had said our good byes and listened to his last breath, we split duties as parents. Adam took Audrey Nole home to sleep in her own bed and have as much normalcy as possible on what she will one day remember as one of the worst days of her life. I kissed her goodnight and I gave Adam a long embrace. And then I made the long walk back to my hospital room. Alone. No baby to care for. No reason to pump. No joys. Just sorrow. 

As I climbed carefully into my bed, the physical pain of the day began to hit me. Adrenaline had kept me able to walk and hold my baby. I was up and moving around the hospital as if nothing like a c-section had happened that day. Just pure adrenaline. I was exhausted from nearly 48 hours of being awake. And I was emotionally frozen. I couldn’t believe what had just happened. It’s like I was starting into a mirror but didn’t recognize the reflection staring back at me. And then I cried. And I cursed. And my dear friend cursed with me. And then we talked about what to eat for dinner… because the cold meal plate sitting at the end of my bed from the hospital cafeteria seemed like the crappiest way to end the most awful of days. 

Community is the best. Not being alone that evening in that cold hospital room was a gift that I will cherish for my lifetime. Knowing that my not quite two year old could sleep in her own bed, with the comfort of her daddy at home with her, was a delicate kiss from God on that night. That day was awful. There is almost nothing about it that I can look back on and remember with fondness. We were tired. We were anxious. We were dreading all of the what ifs. And even though we knew from the start that George’s life would likely be short, it was still so very sobering to hear the doctor tell us he was no longer with us. So if I can look back now, almost 2 years later, and be thankful for the huge gift of community on that day (and the many days before and after), I will take it. I will shout it loudly. God is good. Because it wasn’t a mistake that the people in our lives were there.

After our brief dinner discussion, I was left alone for just a few minutes. Long enough to share with our community that our sweet George Mason had gone to be with Jesus. Those were the hardest words I think I’ve ever had to come up with. But as I look back, and particularly this morning as this memory hit me, even in that moment, I felt God. I’m not sure that in that moment I wanted to… but just like Adam squeezes his precious daughter when she’s struggling to contain her emotions, my Heavenly Father squeezed me. No matter how much in those minutes and hours after we kissed our son goodbye I wanted to kick and scream and fight away His love, God loved anyway. He loved deeply, profoundly, and with a ferocity that I cannot even describe. 

Its not fun to be hit with a memory as equally delicate and heavy as sharing your son’s death with your small piece of the world. It stings. It leads to tears. But it also reminds me that my God is truly incredible. That He is worthy of sharing with whomever I come into contact with. And the best part of all of it, is that sharing Him with someone else doesn’t take a single ounce of His love for me away. Its not like having an earthly sibling who has to get some of my parents’ attention. God is enough for every single soul, ever. He loves me as deeply as He loves my neighbor, my enemy, my government, my children, the complete stranger in the parking lot at the mall. He doesn’t have to be divided. He is everywhere, for everyone, at exactly the perfect capacity in that exact moment; and every moment before and after. 

The memories of George’s day often hurt. They aren’t joy-filled and fond. They are hard, heavy, and difficult to process. Perhaps that’s why after nearly 2 years I’m brought back to such a specific moment from his day. But they are my story. They are a wonderful piece of the narrative of my life and God’s story. They don’t seem to have a happy ending just yet, but what they do have is an immense impact on my relationship with my Savior. I long for heaven with an intensity that I didn’t know was possible prior to this suffering. But in the same way that I long for heaven, I’m equally aware that God will provide for each and every day for as long as I live until He calls me home. I’m not afraid of what death will bring. In fact, when that day comes and I meet my Savior, I will rejoice in it. But I’m also incredibly thankful for the life He has given me and the mercies He puts into place each new morning. Raising Audrey, loving and doing life with Adam, and dreaming about our future are all examples of those perfect mercies for today. 

“For so the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, That you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.’ Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord… And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 13:47-48,52

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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




Grief is a funny thing. Just last night I was writing about the strength I’ve found in my Father through all of. Strength that I’ve hope would be helpful and healing to those I meet who have been through or will go through loss; of any kind, but particularly of a child.  And then as I was driving Audrey to school this morning a rush of tears just flooded my eyes and my heart hurt more deeply than it has in a while.

I’m not rescinding my thoughts and feelings from last night. They are as true today as any. Actually, they are probably more true {not more true, but more relevant perhaps} on the hardest of days. I’m running, no sprinting, towards that strength and comfort. Because today the absence of George Mason seems more painful than it did yesterday. So for today, I’m going to sit in the sorrow for a bit. I’m going to allow myself to miss my son. To cry as needed. Remember his day. Call upon those deeply hidden and well kept details of the emotions, both the ups and downs, the hopes, the disappointments, the joy and the immense pain of saying hello and goodbye all in the same day. I’m going to let Audrey see me cry. I’m going to let her join in the grief, in whatever way makes sense for her. I’m going to hug her fondly and then I’m going to give her a kiss. One for her and one for her brother. And then I’m going to let her join me as I talk to Jesus. As I lay out my fears, my sorrows, my joys, my needs, and my praises. If there’s anything more uncomfortable than letting someone so intimately into your grief, I haven’t found it. But I know it’s important. It’s healing for me and hopefully healing for her. She will be without her brother for the rest of her life and I can only imagine the ways that will have shaped her as she grows from a curious and innocent toddler into a vibrant and strong adult.

John Piper said not to measure the love of God for you by health or wealth, but by how much of Himself He shows you. Those words are incredible for today. Because every time I miss my sweet son, I see a little bit more of God. And what a wonderful thing to see. Sorrowful or joyful, God is good. I’ll be eternally grateful for that truth.




The month of October has all kinds of triggers for me. It is plastered with pink to raise awareness for breast cancer. As if I need awareness of that? The hole next to my dad where my mom should be is because of breast cancer. I don’t need awareness, I need my mama back. But that’s not how this broken world works. Death is final. At least for us who miss our loved ones. But it is. It is the final moment of your presence on this earth. Those last moments before you enter (hopefully) glory. It stings your loved ones. It can also terrify the person taking those last breaths. - completely unrelated, I often wonder what my sweet mama was thinking as she took those final labored breaths. Was she sad to be leaving us? Was she excited to be meeting her Savior? Was Jesus holding her hand along with the 5 of us? -

Another function of October is that it is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. A month, that if you asked any person on this planet, would likely be unanimously the most awful thing to need to be aware of. But it does. Because too often parents who have lost pregnancies are left to mourn in silence; expected to snap back to real life as if a child, their child, never existed. And too often parents whose living child died, for whatever reason, are expected to be strong for {insert anything here}. And then you have the parents who had fully grown babies who never met their parents alive. They died in the womb, the place that is meant to keep them safe, but instead failed. What do each of these parents have? When do they move on and forward and out of this grief and mourning over the child that was given to them and taken away too soon?  They have God. And if they don’t have God, I hope someone tells them about God. Because as one of those parents, I don’t know that I would have been able to get out of bed each morning. I don’t know that I could’ve been strong for Audrey. Or continued living in marriage with Adam. I don’t think I would have even been able to eat/sleep/think/talk/etc if it weren’t for God. Because there was no sense to be made of George Mason’s death. There was no rational explanation or for-the-better kind of thinking that could have or would have ever made that loss ok.

So it’s October. And while most people are hanging spider webs, gathering costumes, and indulging in pumpkin everything, there are people out there hurting. Hurting because of breast cancer or the loss of a child. Or hurting for any number of reasons. Since George Mason died, I have tried to remember that. I feel like there was a part of me, before we lost our mom and then our son, that forgot that bad things happened to good people. That God’s people still suffered. But then I was hit by a 2x4 and remembered Job. And Jesus. And everyone in between. God doesn’t promise us easy lives. He does promise that He will be there through all of it. Good. Bad. Ugly. Awful. So as I approach people, I try to remind myself that they may be hurting just the same as I am. I am not adorned in black or frail from lack of eating. I’m not sobbing my way through every day - though some days just require tears - and I’m not stuck in bed or sweats, or whatever else might be an outward sign that something was broken. And just as I’m not obviously experiencing the brokenness of this world, there are so many in the exact same place. Breast cancer. Infant death. Homelessness. Broken relationships. Infidelity. Abuse. The list is too big to actually list. So on days where I see a pink ribbon and miss my mama a little more, or days where George’s absence in our home is remembered a little more obviously, I’m actually thankful for those pink or purple ribbons. Because it reminds me to love a little deeper, both those close and those that are strangers. And because it points me in the direction of my good Father where I can find rest from the burdens of grief, refuge from the pains of loss, and strength to face the day and love those in my path.

Tomorrow is the Wave Of Light. Where you light a candle at 7pm for the child(ren) you’ve lost. I hope that if you’ve lost a child, at any stage, that you will light that candle.  But also that you will share that child and your loss journey with others. Because I want to share that burden with you. I want to talk about my son with you. I want to talk about your child with you. I want to hug you when you’re having a terrible day. I want to celebrate with you when it’s your child’s day. And I want you to know that you’re not alone and your child or children are missed. With a vengeance. I want to pass along the strength that my Father has given me to get out of bed everyday, and I want to love you fiercely as we imagine what it will be like when we are reunited with our babies.




In about a week, one of our dear friend’s’ sons will be one. He is the little brother of one of Audrey’s friends and their family is so special to us. As I was thinking about this precious little boy’s birthday today, I was suddenly and vividly brought down memory lane to February 7, 2017. Our small group met on Tuesday nights and since my c-section was scheduled for the following Monday, the group prayed over and for and with us. I don’t remember any of the exact words that lifted to our almighty Father that night, but I remember the hope. The intense, God has got this, our boy is going to live, hope. It was oozing from every word. Hope for a miracle. Hope because we know who God is. Hope, because it was all we could do; everything was in God’s hands.

Our prayers from that evening weren’t answered in the way any of us would have wanted. The ideal outcome was a healthy and living little boy. Instead we buried an infant. A seven pound, 19” long, little man  I didn’t know on February 7th that 10 days later we would be attending a funeral, but I knew that our community was a huge blessing. That everyone’s hope on that night felt like armor for our hearts and the greatest gift a week later when we had to say goodbye to our son.

We left our group that night with full hearts and nervous minds. God was with us in that room that night. He was with us every day of our pregnancy. He was with us during the signs of labor and through the c section. He was with us when we met George Mason and when we cried over him. He was with us as we desperately cling to his last breaths. And he was with us as we got the nod from the nurse that our son was no longer with us. God was with us every step of the way, and that night it felt much more obvious than it had in months.

I’ve never thought about that night before today. In all the details I’ve had to sort through in the journey of grief, one of the best memories never made its way to the top. But as I think more about the specifics of that night, I remembered something else. That was the night that this precious soon-to-be birthday boy’s parents told us that they were expecting. Our hearts left full. Full of hope for what would come in the next week. Full of gratitude towards our God who had given us such an incredible gift in our community. Full of joy and anticipation for our friends and their new life.

Next week we can celebrate the one year birthday of a little boy who is incredibly special. And if his birthday is the trigger for one of the best memories in a year of sorrow, I’m even more thankful for his precious life.




There is a sweet little jewelry shop that I was introduced to after George Mason died. A friend from college sent me a piece of jewelry with a card that had just the sweetest condolences and promises for continued prayer. The jewelry piece was lovely, but it was the Bible verse attached to the piece that just melted my heart. As I began to learn more about this little shop that so lovingly and thoughtfully made its way into my life, I fell in love. God placed the leader of that shop in my life, on purpose, with purpose, and it was such a gift. Now, 18 months later I find myself praying weekly for a group of women I have never met, through the technology of Instagram. I haven’t ever found the words - or rather the courage - to share my own vulnerabilities, but I have faithfully read the requests and included these women in my conversations with God; no matter how frivolous or distracted those conversations may be most times, I know He listens. And I know these women have felt His unconditional and ever present love and comfort in their lives. Being vulnerable on the internet like that can be both terrifying and freeing. I’m so thankful for their willingness to share the needs, both of their hearts and of their minds, in this little corner of the internet.

Tonight, I found myself offering a piece of my own story and my own desire for prayer. As I typed out the words for my request, the reality of its magnitude hit me. “I would like prayer for the size of my family” among other things... the base of the need for prayer was in the fight I’m having with myself over letting God have control of the size of our family. If you had asked me 18 months ago what our family would look like in 10 years, I would have confidently told you we’d have 4 children and be successfully out of diapers. I can’t hardly type that without a chuckle. God has other plans. If you had told me 18 months ago that I would not only have reached the 18 month mark AND gotten the ok from my doctor to try for more littles, BUT was choosing not to right in this moment, I would’ve laughed out loud.  Literally. But here I am. Daily I fight a battle with myself. Daily. Do I allow myself the vulnerability of possibly losing another child? Do I wait for my anxiety to even out before I throw weird pregnancy hormones into the mix? Do I say to my Good Father that my two children, even though one is in heaven, is enough? Do I ask Him to give me peace in this place, this season of grief amongst joy? Do I settle here as mama to Audrey and George or do I open my heart to the wonders of a possible 3rd child at the same time knowing the outcome might not be life?

I finished out my request for prayer with a sentence that I almost can’t believe I typed. It was as if Jesus was typing the words I needed and not necessarily that I even knew. Proof of His continued intercession on our behalf, because we often have no idea what to pray or where to start. I said that I wanted to trust God in His timing, because it is an incredible gift. (What the?!?) That I would not just relinquish control - super hard for me - but willingly turn over the process and the outcome. Goodness, if ever there was proof that Jesus intercedes, it’s right there in that sentence. So I guess that’s my own lesson for today. That I would listen to the deep parts of my heart that are longing for Jesus and that I would faithfully follow through on my request to trust His timing. Because giving up control is not in my wheelhouse. Because I am imperfect but loved. Because at the end of this grief journey, I don’t want to have regrets. I want to simply live through this story, share it as necessary, and be shaped by what God has ordained in my life so that I may be whatever it is that He has in store for me next. Be it only Audrey Nole or an entire basketball team. Father God, let me remember this night and the words that you gave me: Your timing truly is an incredible gift. Let me live that, love that, and never deny that.




August 10th came and went. Life is normal. Things keep moving, keep going. But there has been a knot in my stomach for the last week. It’s the most conscious, yet simultaneously unconscious, awareness of the dates. My sweet son was born and met Jesus on the very same day. A day that happened 18 months ago yet lives in my heart and my mind as if it were only yesterday. I’m not sure that I will ever really get over that freshness of his day. Part of me desperately hopes I don’t. That there will always be a closeness to my boy because of how vivid the memories of his day are. The touch of his soft skin. The smell of his newborn body. The sweet, and heartbreaking, coughs as he took his final breaths. I don’t ever want to forget those moments. I share them with people as often as I have the chance, because all of the love a mama can muster for her children doesn’t go away simply because that child isn’t with her. My son lived only 16 hours, but I have enough love for him to last a lifetime and then some.

Perhaps that is the hardest part of this loss. Knowing my son, loving my son, but not being able to actualize that love in the way my heart desires. Instead of snuggles and kisses on toes, I have pictures and memories; often accompanied by tears. I don’t have laughter from my 18 month old who is getting into everything and chasing his sister around the house. I have hard conversations with my 3 year old about death. That it hurts but it’s not scary. That everyone will die, hopefully when they are old and grown. Try to explain to a tender heart that the permanence of death, and it’s inevitable sadness, isn’t actually the worst that can happen. She tells me often that she wants to go to heaven to play with her brother. She also tells me often that she doesn’t want me to die like her Grammy and her brother. And that she is not going to die until she is very old; and married to a prince. I just hug her and tell her that whenever death comes, for me or her or anyone, we can rejoice in the beginning of the best days. Because heaven is eternity with Jesus. And Jesus is pretty dang cool. And while we miss the people that die before us, we can rest assured that they aren’t missing us. That there is no sorrow to be had on those streets of gold. And that while we miss our son/brother/mother/ etc, it is only temporary, for we are destined for heaven because we are Gods children.

Audrey starts preschool soon. It’s a day that I have been both anticipating and dreading. She is going to love school. She will thrive on the social parts and be wonderfully stimulated by the educational stuff she will also likely get in trouble a lot. For talking, or bossing, or typical 3 year old first born stuff. It’s going to be good for us, for our family.  It it’s going to be hard too. Because with each milestone we reach as a family, there is a big, obvious hole, where George Mason should be. And where her daddy and I can process that internally, she cannot. So her entire class will know her brother. That’s both the sweetest and most heavy thing I can imagine. I’ve been praying for those kids in her class, that their hearts would be prepared to love George Mason in the same way as Audrey Nole. That the weight of his death wouldn’t be a weight at all. That they will not be burdened by Audrey’s grief, but instead be encouragers to her as she moves through this next season. God is good, that we know. And in this next transition for our family, we can know that He will be the same foundation he has been over the last 18 months. He will also be exactly what we need for each day, each minute, and every memory or moment that comes upon us.

We survived the first 18 months. Thank God for that. Now we keep trusting that our survival continues. But that we can also begin to thrive as we hold tightly to God’s promises. We follow His lead and we live out this story He has written for us. Because death has not won nor will it ever. And the hero of our story is not of our own making, but the one who made everything. Who is everywhere. And who is committed to His children, through all of the ups and downs.




The 18 month mark since George’s day is quickly approaching. It feels like yesterday and an eternity ago all at the same time. How can it have been 18 months since I held that precious baby boy? How can 18 months of life already happened? 18 months of memories made. 18 months, 547 days, to mourn, grieve, remember, forget, move forward. It certainly hasn’t been an easy task to get up each morning and start a new day. It doesn’t come naturally to just continue life as if nothing happened, because something huge happened, and then something even bigger happened after that.

On February 10, 2017, we experienced nothing short of a miracle. Our precious baby boy was born, alive, and crying. He breathed the air of this earth. He heard the unmuffled sounds of our voices from outside the womb. He got to be held and loved on by his parents and his big sister. He showed his entire medical team that God is real and powerful; because his life, though short, could only be explained by divine intervention. I cannot even count how many times I have thanked God for the blessing of meeting my living child. My heart aches to think of anything else, and my prayers are continually for those mothers and fathers who didn’t get that chance.


In those first weeks and months after his day, my sorrow over his loss was all consuming. It was like wearing the wrong prescription eyeglasses and trying to build a clock. It felt impossible to ever feel anything but that weight of his death. It didn’t seem like there would be an end to the misery of a broken heart and the lost dreams of so many versions of our family’s future. Survival was all I was able to manage. Get up, live that day, go to bed. Many of those days included more tears than I can even recall. Many of those days were filled with self pity and selfish anger and frustration. So many of those days I fell in puddle of every emotion at the feet of Jesus. Every single one of those days, Jesus met me right there. Right in the middle of the mess I was living through. He fought hard battles against Satan for my heart. He won. Every single time. And he endlessly comforted and understood the beatings I was giving him.  Jesus was everything I couldn’t muster myself to be and so much more. He is the reason my family got fed every day. He is he reason I kept up with friendships. He is the only reason I didn’t run for the metaphorical desert and turn my back on God. And now, nearly 18 months later, He is the reason that I’m happy and healthy and finally able to see beyond the weight of death.

There are still days where I sink into the comfort of sorrow. It feels weird to say it like that, but that’s really what it has become. It’s a place that I’ve spent a lot of time and it’s a place that I know inside and out. I can sit in the dark, heavy emotions of loss, holding onto and reminiscing about my son. All these months I’ve been convincing myself to look for the joy in the midst of the sorrow, but when I look at it now, I see the comfort I found there. What I didn’t always see though, was that the comfort wasn’t in the grief or the sadness. It wasn’t even in the sweet memories of George Mason. The comfort was from the Holy Comforter. It was the gentle and snug embrace of my Father whose love knows no end. It was Him stepping into my mess, my darkness, my emotional temper tantrums, and holding me as he told me to trust Him.

And trust Him I do.

So as I sit here today, wondering how it has already been 18 months since George Mason’s day, I can honestly - and with a bit of vulnerability - say that the Lord is indeed my refuge. I am wholly His. And I am deeply thankful for the sacrificial love He freely offers. Because I have done nothing to earn it and tried really hard to lose it, and He just kept holding me tight.

“I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound, decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled. Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.” Habakkuk 3:16-19





Our little family is vacationing with Adam’s family this week. Each of the “limbs” of our family tree has gathered together for sun and sand. Beach trips are the best. They are refueling for the grown ups and full of wonder and exploration for the kids. It has only been a couple of days but we have soaked up every ounce of sun, brought home (and eaten) our weight in sand, and taken the best naps of our lives. All of this could possibly add up to be one of the best vacations. Except at every turn, there’s a tiny tug at my heart; because there should be one more little cousin crawling in the sand.

I know that grief comes in waves and it often hits when you least expect it. But this wasn’t unexpected. It was slightly dreaded. Because in every moment of joy, there is equal sorrow. In many ways it makes the highs that much more incredible, but it can also make the lows that much harder. So as I packed for this trip, I missed my son. With each little dress or girly shirt, I wished desperately that I was also packing baseball caps and polos. That instead of being a dedicated and obvious girl mom, our parenting journey had taken on a new shade of loud, dirty, boy.

I still wrestle with the whys. Why us, God? Why George Mason? Why let him live, only to die? Why give him to us at all, if he was meant for heaven? I’m coming to terms with the possibility that those questions won’t have answers here on earth. But the strange thing, or maybe not so strange at all, is that even as I ask God to answer my whys, I simultaneously thank Him for making me George Mason’s mama. It seems that is the season I am in. The constant juxtaposition of thankfulness and frustration. Of joy and sorrow. And of complete adoration of my son and my (and his) Savior.

Our sweet son isn’t here this week. He’s not covered in sand at the end of the day or snuggling with his sister while we wind down for the evening. Yet despite his absence, God has given us a deep and satisfying joy in sharing one of Adam and mine’s favorite parts of creation with our daughter. Absolutely we would prefer our son here with us, but absolutely we know that heaven is the perfect place to be. More examples of the season we are in. More proof that our God is loving and wonderful. More proof that He hates sin and brokenness as much as I hate how intimately I’m experiencing the results of the fall.

There is no true explanation for the feelings of being a loss parent. It shouldn’t be this way is always contrasted by some version of I love you Jesus, and all of the blessings you have bestowed on me while I’m here in this temporary home. Perhaps that’s the biggest change I’ve had to process: longing for heaven in a very real way. The satisfaction of earthly joys is wonderful but not satiating. There is always the desire to be with Jesus. To meet up with my son and my mama, and all the saints that have gone before me, and join the chorus of Holy, Holy, Holy. Life on earth used to seem so good, that it felt like it would be easy to wait for heaven. Obviously this world was broken, but my small little piece of history felt good and fulfilling. And now, I wake up each day wondering when I will enter eternity. Because as good as life was before this intimate experience of sorrow entered, I can only imagine how truly wonderful heaven must be.



Father’s Day and other thoughts

Two weeks ago I sat down and started to write. But as so often happens in airports, gate changes, flight changes, and life just got in the way. Distractions seemed to abound, including an unusually nauseating flight, and I never finished my thoughts. But as the week progressed, I realized I needed to take a minute or twenty and finish processing...

June 17 -

Last night my brother graduated from a fairly elite school within the Air Force. It was a big deal, like black tie gala big deal. So my sisters and I all flew into Las Vegas to celebrate with him. By all accounts it was lovely. Except that it was so obvious that his greatest cheerleader was missing. Each time they thanked the families I felt my eyes fill with small salty tears. Every time i looked over at my brother and his sweet wife, I missed my mama terribly. And then I missed my son. Because any time we get together as a family, the ones that are missing are more obvious.  The tears don’t fall as heavy or as frequently as they used to, but our hearts are still heavy from the weight of the scars of loss. The funny part is that my sweet George Mason wouldn’t even have been at this gala. (Floor length gowns and 3 course dinners aren’t exactly toddler friendly) but it wasn’t about his lack of presence last night, it’s the reality that he will never be here. That him and my mama have been to as many family moments as they will ever be. They will now become memories at new gatherings. There won’t be new ones, just old stories and the feelings that reminiscing good times bring with it.

It probably isn’t made easier that today is Father’s Day. A basically made up, Hallmark holiday, that simply serves as a punch to the gut when you’ve experienced loss. I have a father. But I don’t have a mother. That sucks. My husband is a father. But he doesn’t have all of his kids to snuggle and celebrate with. That sucks. Loss sucks. And missing my son today aches. Though I’m so glad it’s an ache. A solid missing him and not mourning him. It reminds me how thankful I am for the partner I have in Adam. That even though our life the last few years has been shaken and broken and shaken some more, our commitment to each other and our love for our Savior remains consistent; a strong foundation on which all of our doubts and frustrations can be placed and God can brush them away with the grace that can only be expected from the Alpha and Omega.

June 28 -

There are many things about our story these past few years that are dark and heavy. They are deep valleys that on the worst/hardest days I often wish had turned out differently. But on the days where I point my heart (and my head) towards Jesus, I experience light in the darkness and comfort despite the weight of grief and sorrow. I’ve said it before and will say it again and again, there is no joy like knowing Jesus. And even though I often find myself questioning God’s goodness and asking Him why all of these things have happened. What good will come of losing my mom when I was 38 weeks pregnant with her first grandchild? What good will come of burying my day old son? Can He really be working all things for good?? Really? But thankfully , God doesn’t discourage and downplay my doubts. He welcomes them. Because His truth is truth and my doubts and frustrations always end up proving that. He’s a big God and he can handle the punches I throw at him. I don’t know when, if ever, this side of heaven, I will see and feel the good that comes of losing our precious son, but I know that God meets me where I am. And that missing my son and not mourning him is a huge gift from a Heavenly Father who cares deeply for his child. I’ll take that as my new mercy for today and continue to give it to God when my heart hurts and my mind is sorting through all the different whys.

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor,

and the day of vengeance of our God;

to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.” - Isaiah 61:1-3