Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Rose Bud

The rose bud opens,
flowering, red blossom
True Beauty.

The rose bud withers,
dries, black deterioration
True End.

Our lives like the bud,
opens, yellow sun
True Joy.

Our lives grow,
exquisite, green sprouts
True Adventure.

Our life fades,
shrivel, brown dirt
True Death.

Our rose bud blooms
burgeoning, rainbow flares
True Life.

By: Stormy Mitchell 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

33 Things

Today, 5 years ago, we said goodbye to Gideon for the last time on this earth.

We had his memorial service and spoke of all the beauty that came from his existence. We worshiped the Lord in thanksgiving and we wept bitterly. That day was one of the hardest days of my life.

Today 5 years from that day, it still takes my breath away to think of that day. How much despair and disbelief I felt. Who imagines they will lose their child? Who pictures their life and sees a funeral for their baby?  I remember so much from that day, from all of the hugs, to all of the tears. The words that our pastor and friends spoke, and the verses read from the bible. I can remember the songs and how each word was the cry of my heart, yet made it break a little more. I wrote all about that day here.

Since that day, a lot has changed. We have picked up the pieces and God has made a beautiful life from the ashes. BECAUSE of Gideon we have a beautiful life.

Today I am thinking of all the ways that Gideon has changed me. For the better.  So in honor of the 33 weeks that I got with him, I will share 33 different ways he has changed me. When he died, I knew there was a major shift in my life. I knew that I would never be able to go back to how I was before. I wondered if those changes would be permanent. Some of those feelings I had in the early days of grief have gone, but many of those changes have stayed. They are with me forever. 

These transformations within me are the beautiful scars that he left behind.

1) I appreciate things more and take less for granted.
2) Things that used to matter, no longer do. Things that used to not matter, now do.
3) I am a better wife. I love Todd with a deeper passion and honesty than before.
4) I am a better mommy. I would have been a wonderful mommy to Gideon because of everything we have been through before conceiving him, but I am a more compassionate and patient mom because of him. I truly never take them for granted. Every day I get with them, even the hard days, I'm grateful for because they are here with me.
5) I love more deeply. Gideon taught me that.
6) I am less judgmental,
7) I love Jesus more.
8) I am more patient.
9) I am more focused.
10) I really want to help others. I truly want to help other people because I genuinely love them.
11) I don't waste my time with those who are not to be supportive or loving. If you don't want to recognize him at all, then I don't need you in my life. And honestly, my life is richer for it. I refuse to let someone who wont remember the life of my son be a part of my own heart. If they don't want to see the blessings of him and the blessing that God will bring to them by allowing them to experience the pain and the joy, then they don't understand me at all. And those people are people who put negativity into my life. I don't waste my time on negativity.
12) I stop and appreciate beauty more. In every day moments, and in life changing moments, and in mundane moments.
13) I do not invest my heart into pointless things, and yet I dive heart first into things that I see as fruitful.
14) I complain less.
15) I worship more. Pain brings about the best worship
16) I am a better writer and artist.
17) I laugh even more than before.  I am a "throw your head back and loudly crack up" kind of person. I used to do that with ease and I had stopped for a long time. Now I do again, however it is different because I know what the other side feels like. I appreciate the laughter so much more. It is richer and more true.
18) I cry more easily. This may not be seen as a positive thing, but it is to me.
19) I love my family more deeply and I appreciate them more, my mom & dad, siblings, nieces, nephews and my extended family. My family has always meant a lot to me, but now I truly appreciate them. I'm glad for every day they are in my life.
20) My friendships are so much more true and real. My best friends are my MEND friends. We share everything, our whole lives (I think people assume we only talk about our dead children, we do talk about them, but we talk about everything!). My fellow infant loss friends just understand. I have these beautiful friends from before Gideon's death who are supportive and loving and I am so thankful for them. I am thankful for my friends from before and I am thankful for my newer friends, my friends since my loss.  I invest in all of my friends more than I ever did before. I take more time for them. I walk through the deepest lows and the highest highs with them.
21) I live with fervor. I want to experience all that life has for us  I want us to take adventures and experience the sights, sounds, and tastes of the world around us.
22) I have so much more grace with people.
23) I have embraced the geeky side of me and I love it.
24) I can sense the Holy Spirit more acutely when praying and in worship. I also feel connected to Gideon when I am worshiping God and in His presence, because I know that Gideon is standing in His presence too.
25) I'm so much more comfortable with pain and sitting with others in their pain. Our society likes to try to put a bandaid on our suffering to make it all better. But I know that doesn't help. Working through it helps. And I am always ready and willing to hold someone's hand as they walk through pain.
26) I have been more active in church. I love our church. It is so special and God works in the hearts of my church family. It is truly a place where I can call them my family. They have walked through the dark and the bright days.
27) I am even more self confident in every area of my life. I generally have always been very self assured, but one of the way he changed me is that I am even more so! Especially in the area of my looks. I have ever always thought I was beautiful and I've never really had body image issues, but I definitely don't now!!! I am beautiful!!!
28) I wear what I want and act how I want. I will not conform to how other people think I should be. I will be the person who God wants me to be. 
29) I look at Todd differently. I truly see him for the strong, loving, gentle man he is. He changed a lot when we lost Gideon and I can really see down into his soul now in a way that I thought I could before but I truly can see it now. But honestly I think going through tragedy is the only way to make you and your spouse connected in this way.
30) I see pregnancy differently. I see it more of a blessing than I ever did before. I see children as even more of a blessing, they are amazing gifts from God!!  I also see pregnancy with fear and anxiety. That is part of who I am now. But the flip side to that, is that I never take pregnancy for granted. I cherish it. I am truly in awe of the miracle of pregnancy.
31) I desire more for others to know Jesus truly and intimately.
32) I have wanderlust. I desire to travel and experience different, fun and new things. Maybe one day I will have the finances to do that more often.
33) I have strong desire for The New Earth when heaven and earth pass away and a new Earth is created!!! I love the life I live now and I work for the Kingdom with all my heart, but there will always be a part of me that is looking upward into the sky for the future when Jesus returns. I am not afraid of that anymore. 

There are so many more, I could easily list 33 more ways I have changed for the good for his 33 weeks. And then I could list 33 more, and then  do it again. I know as I live, and as the Lord continues to work, more and more of my heart will be transformed every day. Because God promised me that Gideon's life would make an impact on others. And one of the ways He is doing that, is through me.

I have changed. Forever. For good. 

"Who can say if I've been changed for the better, because I knew you, I have been changed for good..." -Changed For Good, Wicked
At Cocoa Beach on our vacation in April. Beaches always remind me of Gideon...always. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


Today we say Happy 5th Birthday in Heaven to our precious first born son, Gideon. We love you with all of our hearts. You are my little love. My arms ache to hold you today, and I miss you, But I am blessed to be your mommy and honored to get to love you. You give me immense joy. I am constantly in awe of how God uses your life, even 5 years later.

Today is also the 13th anniversary of mine and Todd's marriage. I love him more and more each day. My love for him is deeper because of what we have been through. We are truly one. We love each other in a way that cannot exist without walking through something like we have. He is my best friend. My mate. My love. The person with whom I am privileged to walk through this life. Todd, I could not ask for more. I am proud to be your wife. Happy anniversary! Here is to many more! I never take for granted all the time we have together. Every day I have with you is special, simply because of the love we share. Even the tough days, I always choose you. I always will. I love you. 

Also, this week is the 8th anniversary of the baby we lost through miscarriage in 2008.

What a week! What a month!

I'm extremely thankful that this month of May is full of an immense amount of love. What a blessing that is, to have so much love in our lives.
We have started adding Blessings in our M.E.N.D. newsletters. We each have a chance to write about a blessing that has come from the lives of our little ones in Heaven. Here is my first one: 

In our M.E.N.D. newsletter, we get to leave Birthday Tributes for our babies in Heaven.  
May 17, 2011. Together as a family. 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

What if?

Today, 5 years ago, on May 15th, 2011, Gideon slipped away from us and went to be with Jesus.

On that day we were told "I am so sorry". On that day, our world felt like nothing was ever going to be okay again. My breath left me that day, and it took many months for me to get it back. My laughter left. My hope. I was filled with emptiness. I was left with only dreams of what could have been. We went from being hopeful for the future because we were expecting our first son, to not knowing what the future would hold. Would we ever be normal again? We didn't know how to navigate the rest of our lives. How do you pick up the pieces? How do you learn to even breathe again?

I always say that I could use a million words, and there would not be words accurate enough to describe how it felt when we lost Gideon.

Two days after we found out he had died, I delivered him silently into this world. May 17, 2011 is a day that will be seared into our hearts and minds forever.

Five years later, we are here, standing. Standing strong. Standing with faith. Standing with grace. Standing because of grace. Standing together. We are full of love in a way we weren't before Gideon existed. He brought that love into our lives. We are more hopeful, more joyful, more thankful, more faithful. More everything.

 Just MORE because of him.

Most days I live, I live in light of my loss. I choose to live with more joy and grace and I choose to focus on the Lord more. I want to honor Him and Gideon with my life by helping others and walking with them through grief. I honor Gideon by loving deeply. We choose to live a life of joy.

But there are some days...Some days are just hard.

I promised myself and Gideon that I would honor him by doing this grief the best way I could. It does not honor him to ignore any feelings I may have. It only hurts myself and others. I know that through this pain, God is working. When we feel grief and hurt, I know that God is there.

So we have today. The anniversary of the day he died. This year the days line up. So in 2011, May 15th was a Sunday. Just like today is a Sunday. In 2011, May 17th was a tuesday, just like this year. Every day is lining up this year. And it makes it hard to breathe. I am reliving these days. I remember what I was doing at this time that Sunday 5 years ago, I remember that Todd had gotten home from work and I told him Gideon wasn't moving. I can put myself right back into that place. I can recall the tightness in my heart where I simultaneously knew something was wrong, yet not willing to admit it to myself. I can feel Todd's hands on my stomach and hear his voice saying "come on buddy, move for mommy and daddy." As time goes on today, I don't even need to look at the clock, my body knows what time it is and I recall all of the events and emotions from 5 years ago.

I struggle to breathe and I try not to burst into violent, wracking sobs, as to not concern my sweet living sons.

This year I play the "what if" game. Generally I do not do that. I could "what if" myself into a depression. I think most people could. We could play that game and make ourselves sad over what could have been in all areas of our lives, not just grief.Today, I have to.  I take the time to "what if". I will "what if" today and will not do it again for a long time. I know I have to today. I have to let myself go into that place. I have to let myself feel everything.....

What if I had known something was wrong? What if I had gone to the doctor earlier? What if I had cancelled my baby shower and just gone to the hospital that day?  What if I had trusted the feeling so deep inside of me and gone in and had him checked? What if I had been able to get a 3rd ultrasound and he could have been diagnosed with growth restriction? What if the ultrasound tech hadn't missed his membranous cord insertion? (I totally don't blame her, things happen.) What if I did something wrong? What if it really was my fault? What if I had gone in sooner? What if??? What if? What if?

What if?!!

What if he were here? What would it be like? What would he be like?

I see the little 5 year old boy with strawberry blonde hair that is curly and matches mine when I was a child. I can see that we would have cut his hair last month before our vacation, so it would be short, but coming back in with some curl again. He would look very grown up with his short hair. And I would want it to grow back in long so I could have my little boy be a baby for just a little longer. I see his green, timid eyes. I see him laughing with his brothers. I know he would have been shy, calm, and quiet, like I was when I was a child. I wonder what it would sound like. I hear his soft spoken voice call for me in the night when he needs me. I hear his laughter when he is playing outside. I hear his voice tell me of the things he is interested in and I wonder what that would be. I wonder if he would have loved the thrilling rides at Universal Studios and Disney World last month when we went on vacation, like his little brother. Or would he have been scared by them? If he is anything like me and his daddy, he would have loved them too.  I can almost feel his hand in mine. I can almost feel what it would feel like to hold him into my lap. My little 5 year old, maybe he wouldn't want to admit it, but still loves to cuddle mommy. Or maybe, he would be a cuddle bug and still love to snuggle and wrap himself up closely to me any chance he could get. That is what I think he would have been like. He would have been a snuggler. I can hear the sounds in my house. I can imagine the one more plate I would make every day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I can almost smell him. I can almost really feel him. I can almost feel his little kiss on my cheek. I can almost.


But not quite.

And 5 years have gone by. Five years of grace. Five years of learning.  Five years of leaning on God. Five is a big year. For living children and for those who are dead. Five years.  And here I am. Still here. Standing. Thriving. And honestly, we are truly happy.

But a part of me will always wonder....what if?

"For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.  A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet 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

(Please forgive any typos. I don't do well with editing on days like today)

Friday, May 6, 2016


Gideon isn't some sad thing that happened.

He isn't an unfortunate circumstance.

He is our son. A little boy. Someone who we love. And he also died.

His 5th birthday is coming up soon, on May 17th. That day is also mine and Todd's 13th wedding anniversary. On his birthday we choose to remember him. Not with sadness, but with thankfulness that he is our son. With thankfulness and gladness that he changed us in more ways than I can count. With gratefulness that his story is still touching people and God is using him to change lives.

If you choose to only focus on the sadness of his death and not the blessing of his life, that is not my fault. It is not my fault that you cannot see the joy and the good that Gideon has given us. You are missing out on a huge blessing by seeing him only in the terms of his death. Yet you should look at him and all the ways his life is beautiful. 

It is not my fault that you cannot come to terms with grief. It is your problem because you don't like to feel uncomfortable in your pain so you push it aside. You cannot deal with pain so you ignore it. I honor the lives of those who have died by being real and honest about my feelings. I choose to remember their lives. I will always remember the incredible life of Gideon.

His earthy 33 weeks and his eternal life are marked with immeasurable beauty.

Yes, I miss him and yes it breaks my heart that he isn't here. However, mostly I am thankful to the Lord that I got to have him for those 33 weeks and that he is always mine.


I have some people in our lives who have chosen on their own to only acknowledge our anniversary on May 17th and to completely ignore his birthday. These people will tell us "happy anniversary" but say nothing of him, yet, they know that May 17th is his birthday. Don't take it upon yourself to decide that it is too sad to recognize his birthday and to focus on only the happy part of that day. Don't you realize that those 2 cannot be separate? May 17th is forever both.

They ignore his birthday and in essence, they ignore him.

That is not ok with me. It is not ok to treat my son as if he didn't exist. As if he doesn't matter.

It is a day to be celebrated, because on that day May 17, 2003, when we got married, it was the day that was the beginning to the fateful and life changing day on May 17, 2011. When you choose to just tell me happy anniversary you are spitting in the face of the love that his life created. By doing so, you are telling me that he didn't matter at all. I cannot and will not accept that. He mattered and he still does.

You don't get to choose what I celebrate that day.
We do.

So don't ignore him. Don't pretend like he isn't a person. Don't pretend like it is only our anniversary. It is not. If you don't want to acknowledge him, then say nothing to me that day. I would rather have silence from you than to hear just "happy anniversary." 
  Some may see it as dwelling. But if your child died, and you still wanted to remember them, would that be dwelling? If your mother or father died, would you stop talking about them? No. You would tell stories of them and remember them on holidays and on their birthdays. So I do that with our son.
He is our son. He is a grandson, a nephew, a cousin. He is a big brother. 
He deserves to be remembered.

That date. May 17 is one of the most pivotal dates in our life as a family. We get to decide how to celebrate it. 

No one else.