The Blaines

The Blaines
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Buggin' For a Cure

Buggin' For a Cure
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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Choose Joy

The day Ellie went home to Jesus, I remember the morning well. I remember the exhaustion we felt after such a long night.  I remember the frustration, wondering why God was dragging this out so long, and the numbness of just life.  I remember the quiet peace of her last breaths and I remember getting on my knees once she was gone and thanking God for the hope of heaven.  I remember all our family getting to our house before the funeral home did.  I remember thinking, if an outsider were watching all this....or if you had told me 5 years ago, this would be a seen in my house, I would have thought you were crazy.  Kids running around the living room, playing with toys, family all around and Ellie's body still here.  Yes, it sounds weird, but it was sweet.  After the funeral home came, I don't remember the rest of the day.  Maybe that's God's way of protecting our hearts, or I was just so tired...who knows.

Last year on December 22nd, I remember waking up and just having my family here, the 5 of us.  I do remember the joy I was filled with.  I know we went to the cemetery, but honestly I don't remember much of that day.  My post from last year, said we felt happy and that we were celebrating Ellie, but I posted at 10 in the morning....I don't know how the rest of the day went.

December 22nd, 2015...Started out like another lazy day together.  No one was moving too fast, still in our pj's, and snuggling.  I was reflecting back on how a few days ago I asked for prayer, when we were struggling.  The days leading up to Ellie's death are filled with lots of tough memories. Tension was high.  After I asked, I received, in a big way.  Smiles came back, we were doing better at understanding each others' attitudes and not taking offense.  We played around with the camera yesterday and took a great family picture (and a lot of bloopers!), and Richard came up with the idea to challenge others to share what gives them strength, using the hash tag #princessstrong.

We weren't moving at the pace I had hoped for, I kept thinking of all the "stuff" that needed to be done. The Christmas lights that still weren't up, the oil that needed to be changed, the laundry that was growing, the presents that needed to be wrapped, crafts that still weren't done yet.  As I found my anxiety rising, I started to find peace in all the #princessstrong posts I began to read.  I was glued to my phone reading about others' strength, honored that some people included my family in where they get strength from.  I loved reading all the praise God was getting...even as I could feel my own joy fading and my heart sinking...God was still giving me strength through all these other people.

We headed to the cemetery to bring Ellie's pink tree and decorate more sadness creeped in, this hot mess, came out all ready to go...and how can you not smile at her crazy self?!?!

 Decorations up, sweet prayers said, crazy kids running up and down the hill, mission accomplished.

As we headed home, I told Richard I don't remember last year being this tough...maybe it was the newborn baby blur...but I just don't remember it.  I went back to last year's blog and realized I posted it at 10 in the morning, so for all I know it could have been just as rough.  The rest of yesterday was filled with many more tears, Ellie's favorite dinner of dino nuggets and mac and cheese on the living room floor. watching Disney videos and mommy heading to bed at 9 because I was just so emotionally drained from the day.  My sweet boys stayed up late in the dark putting up my lights because Richard knew just how much I was missing it.  Yesterday felt empty and full all at the same time, I was so happy we were all together, but absolutely lost in my emotions. its down on "paper" so next year, on December 22nd, when I possibly can't remember how last year's here, the entire day, not just the morning.  (Note to self...Carly Marie, its okay to have a day like this...the next day, December 23rd, will come and you will feel better that you made it through another December 22nd)

I think my December 22nd amnesia is a gift from God.  If all we ever remembered was the sad stuff, life would be unbearable.  If we only ever focused on the negative and what God isn't doing and what's going wrong, there is no joy to be found. That is a conscious choice a person makes each and every day.  I agree there will be moments in life that stink and so much more.  There will be moments you cannot understand and wonder "where is God in this" but I promise you, He can be found, look at the people around you, the house you are in, the food you are eating.

Ellie's diagnosis of cancer was heartbreaking, watching her decline....tore my Mommy heart to shreds...her death, was joyous.  Because just 3 days after her death, a baby boy was born hundreds of years ago.  That baby boy was brought into this world with a purpose, just like my Ellie, just like all of us.  That boy's mommy, Mary, experienced the same heart ache I did.  She watched her son be tortured and die for all us...people she never even knew.  I'm sure as he was hanging on that cross, she wasn't jumping for joy...but 3 days later her beautiful baby boy rose from the dead and I'm sure in that moment, she found her peace, she saw part of God's plan.  You can find joy.

After Ellie's death, this moment was where I saw God's plan...

These little pink bags, painstakingly cut out with little shapes, each with a candle inside, illuminating the church the night of family night.  There were hundreds of bags, maintained by a crew that would be named Ellie's Elves.  The thought and heart that went into this effort from people I knew and from strangers, told me this life is so much more than I ever imagined. God has big plans for our lives!  I choose to see the joy, I choose to see the pink bags shining in the dark.  I choose to let the light God gave me to shine.

Let you light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

Today, I pray you can find joy, no matter what is going on in your life!

Prayers, Praise and Pink

Friday, December 18, 2015

Oh Christmas Card

Did you stress your Christmas card picture this year? Oh how I did!  (I must not have done Christmas cards last year...I guess having a newborn excused all that) It's tricky to pick a picture for a Christmas card when one of your children is no longer alive.  Do I pick a picture with Ellie in it? Of course then its always going to be the same picture or pictures, and it's tough enough to think you will never have another picture of Ellie and if I do an old picture then Lulah wouldn't be in it. Do you pick a new picture that Ellie is not in physically? Then maybe someone is going to be upset, possibly me and feel like I left one of my children out. This argument must have gone on for a day or two and it was exhausting.  I finally had to go with what felt right and push aside every worry or thought about what others might say or think, and I have to say, I'm pretty happy with the outcome.

When I first saw this picture after we did family photos again with Jackie of Jaclyn Rae Photography it took my breath away.  It was perfectly us. It didn't feel uncomfortable at all, it didn't feel empty or that we had left someone out, it felt natural....grumpy Lulah face and all!
This balancing act of life after a child's death, happens all the time for me.  I often find myself trying to decide how to sign our names to a card to not make anyone feel uncomfortable but still honor Ellie's life and include her in our family.  I know I over think it, isn't that what grown ups do best?!?! Noah was Christmas shopping today, and without missing a beat, he put Ellie on his list to shop for and announced he'd go put it at the cemetery for her.  He didn't bother with the "what if it gets wet" or "what do we do with it after Christmas" or "what if SG steals it", he just went with his heart....I love that about little people!
This past week hasn't been pretty around here.  Emotions are at an all time high right now and everyone is feeling it.  As "that day" gets closer we are all well aware, and it's almost like we all need a time out! (thank goodness for Christmas break!)  As much as I love my Time Hop app, there are days it brings a huge flood of tears and pain of the memories of those last few days.  This time two years ago was by far the toughest part of our journey with cancer.  For the first time since she was diagnosed we saw her in pain, of course she wouldn't ever tell us she was in pain...and the only way to help the pain was to give her meds that made her sleepy and out of it.  We watched our spunky and spirited girl slipping away.  This is the part of cancer I do hate, the pain, the absolute helplessness you feel as a parent. Those memories come back and hurt almost as much as the day they happened.  I know these memories serve a purpose beyond tears.  Those memories also serve as a reminder of what God can do in a family.  Those memories remind me of all the people that surrounded my family and prayed and helped and prayed some more.  Those memories remind me of how out of control I felt (which was so stinkin hard for me) yet how I was finally able to let God take control.  I'm reminded of family surrounding us in a living room, just being there.  I'm reminded of the fears I had of Ellie passing away when everyone was at our house, and how good God was to me, to take her home in a sweet quiet moment with just Richard and I.  Trust me, it's through tears I type these memories and with my joyful yet holy heart (a happy heart that still has a big ol hole in it). 

 The hole still hasn't gotten smaller, in fact this year it feels bigger than last.  I don't imagine it will ever get smaller.  I do envision it like this - there's this tiara shaped hole in my heart, things flow through the hole, and take up a lot of space in the hole, but nothing is a perfect fit, and no matter how much space that thing takes up at the moment, its eventually gonna make its way through the hole...and then its empty again.   

My family is aching this week...and I only know about the people in my house.  I'm sure the family outside our doors is hurting too.  I still don't know how to help their grief, which I feel bad about....I can barely contain this household.  I feel like I should be able to listen to them and give them support and love...but I'm if I come off as "fine and cheery" please know it's the happy school counselor in my trying to be strong for every one around me.  I'm pretty sure one day I will get to the place where I can see others cry about our Ellie and help them.  I'm so grateful for that family that totally understands me (or tries to) and never gets mad or takes offense.  They get that some things are just harder for me and they are helping me learn that it doesn't have to make sense to anyone except me.  My point for telling you all this is to ask for a lot of prayers for us.  Specifically that we would give each other some space and leniency.  We'd remember we are all hurting in our own ways.  I ask for prayers of peace as well.

"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 
The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 
For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 
that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. 
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.
 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 
For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?
 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. 
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 
And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will" Romans 8:18-28
We appreciate all the love and prayers.  I know we will get through this week.  I know the 22nd will come and I will feel sad, but I will also feel happiness because of Jesus Christ, whose birthday is just 3 days after the 22nd.  And it's because of Jesus Christ I know that I will see my daughter again. 
We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:3-5
Prayer, Praise, and Pink