Sunday, September 8, 2013

Three Years Later

Three years ago tonight, I didn't have a clue what was about to hit our family.  I knew I was in labor, and I was so excited to see the end of my pregnancy and meet our sweet baby girl. 

And then the clamor.  And the quiet, fervent panic.  And the denial, hand in hand with sheer horror.  Quinn was beautiful.  Her life, short. 

It's hard to go back to those beginning moments when we were forever changed.  Even though I miss her every day, I have distanced myself from the detailed tragedy of losing her, a coping mechanism.  You can't live without forward movement, without laughter, without healing.

Jason and I grabbed the opportunity to run to her grave this afternoon, a 6-1/2-mile round trip.  In south Alabama, September is still full-blown summer.  The humidity was blessedly down, but the heat was in the mid-to-low-90s.  Additionally, I woke up from my Sunday afternoon nap with a giant lump of chocolate peanut butter pie sitting securely in my stomach, where I had put it earlier, bite by delicious bite.  And additionally, it had been a long time since I had run that far.  All that to say the run was hard, and we took a necessary while to cool down at the graveyard before we started for home.

During the run, in between my mind repeat-tracking a goofy Mr. Mom song from the MOPS of Atmore playlist, I tried to process what her death has meant in my life.  Running is a tool for bringing clarity to my thinking.  It may have been the heat, but it hit me that Quinn presented me with a crisis of faith.  I was brought up going to church, my parents taught me about God at a young age. I went to a Christian school.  I knew all the right answers about the God of the Bible, and I truly believed them.  I was the Good Girl who did and said the right things for the right reasons.  But while I never doubted my faith, I sometimes wondered if what I believed in was true and real, even though I knew it was.  Follow?  Doubt is sketchy territory.  It's hard to quantify, hard to articulate. Scary business for a Good Girl.

Soon after her death, I was having a cry-it-out moment in the shower, pitying myself, trying to process my feelings, and as I stepped out, I so clearly heard God speak to me, saying, "Do you think this is all about YOU?!  This is about ME and my story for Quinn."  The thought was a lion's roar out of nowhere.  The holiness of God took my breath away, left me reeling, and I could only respond in repentance and worship. 

He had my full attention.  And His sweetness and kindness blew me away.  I felt his care through my friends.  I connected with songs that displayed glimpses of his character.  I soaked it in as I read.  A James McDonald book on the subject of God using pain as discipline was a surprise blessing to me.  More passages in the Bible made sense to me.  The words I had been saying I believed all my life, I still believed, but now I knew they were true. 

And that is where I am today.  I stand, not on my faith, but on God who is holding my heart.  The God of the Bible is who He says He is, a Holy presence that directly calls us out of darkness, and then steadfastly changes us to reflect His glory.  Would I know (that I know that I know) this if I was able to tuck Quinn into a sweet pink bed tonight and kiss her cheek goodnight?  I can't answer that question, but I know that God allowed pain to touch our lives because it was the only way He could accomplish a specific purpose for something far more important than my happiness.  He didn't have to, but He has proven Himself completely trustworthy.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Helen and the Strawberry Shortcake Birthday Cake

It's what happens when pictures get stuck in your camera.  November birthdays don't get blogged about until January.  Nothing to lose your head over.
Our little girl turned six!  And just like me, she knows what she wants.  Or rather, what she doesn't want.  She had ordered a Strawberry Shortcake cake far in advance, but was unsure of the details, just that she wanted her little figurine to be on top.  Acting as cake consultant, I introduced her to Pinterest, and the child's tastes quickly exceeded my skill level.  I finally convinced her to ignore the pretty pictures, and just trust me.
And...she was happy with her cake!  But she was a little disappointed when her doll's head snapped clean off. Wouldn't anyone be?

Sweet and funny Helen, who loves to make things.  And draw.  And color.  And paint.  And cut.  And tape.  And learn how to clean up an art mess.  She got an art easel for her birthday.
 The boys ignored the pink, and were happy to join in the celebration.

Gimme some cake! 
This is what happens when you swirl lemon and strawberry cake mixes together.  Yummy prettiness!