For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. - Psalm 139:13-14


Permission to Grieve

I don't know how to start this other than to say that today has been one of "those days." 

This morning, I was able to share pieces of our journey over the last year with a pastor at church. I've been hesitant to talk about some of the "what we've learned" aspects of our journey because I feel like we are still in the beginning stages of this transforming process. We are so glad that God has given us a lifelong "learning curve" on this one. 

However, I also don't want to hesitate in being open with our story, in case God may use it somehow. And while I am excited by how Carter's life might further reveal God to others, talking about our son, our experience, and our God has brought up some intense emotions that I haven't felt in a little while. 

So when I sat down this afternoon to have a few moments of much-needed solitude during Cohen's nap time, I was surprised by the following Scripture verse in the Psalms:

"O LORD my God, I called to you for help and you healed me. 
O LORD, you brought me up from the grave; you spared me from going down into the pit."
(Psalm 30:2-3)

I'm not sure why these words surprised me other than this was exactly what I needed to hear. 

I needed to be reminded that even though most days aren't as difficult, I can still call out to God for help and he will hear me and heal me. I needed to remember that even if my sorrow overwhelms me to the point where I feel stuck in a pit, God will find me there. 

God is bigger than grief, so I shouldn't be afraid to go there. 

As emotions get less raw, as time separates us from Carter's death, it's easier to depend on myself for strength. Most days, it's easier to just ignore sad feelings rather than invite them in. 

And today...I really don't want to let myself grieve. I have dishes to do. I need to run to the grocery store so my family can eat this week. I need to exercise so I can fit in that bridesmaid dress I'm supposed to wear in June. Grief doesn't seem like a "productive" use of my time.

But after my conversation this morning, I can't help but come face to face with grief once again, and I need to give myself permission to go there, to call out to God, and to let Him heal my heart. I need to give myself permission not to be strong (or my version of it). I need to give God permission to be God in my life...for He will "spare me from going down into the pit". 

Grief without God is scary due to its ability to overwhelm. Grief without God can consume and devour a person. This may be why I try to hold grief at bay. 

But I am clinging to the promise today that experiencing grief with God is where healing takes place, that in loss we can cry out "help me!" and not be devoured. Grief isn't weakness (and I need to hear this more than anyone...); it's an opportunity for God to prove Himself to be who He says He is, if we let Him, and for us to find true healing.

So, goodbye, to-do list. I may get to check a few of you off today. But today I need permission to grieve.


Does Anyone Really Like Change?

I usually don't. However, I've been thinking lately about why I started Carter's blog and what it is now, and I decided it needed a bit of a change.

So...I did some "redecorating." You may notice I did a bit of renaming and rearranging...a good spring cleaning. :)

But, to be completely honest, I had also been wondering about its purpose, since I began it as a one-stop-shop of info for our friends & family members to stay updated. Plus, it is pretty therapeutic for me to help process my thoughts and emotions. But...I could find that therapy in my own personal journal. Who wants their therapy broadcast to the world?

But I am discovering something else along the way...the blog has been a way for God to allow us to tell Carter's continuing story. I continue to be amazed at how this little boy's life has touched the hearts of people, some of whom I have never met or heard of previously. (If that's you, thank you! Your ability to reach out to complete strangers astounds me.)

So while some days I want to shut the blog down ("what more could I possibly have to share?"), I am reminded that God is just beginning to write Carter's story. His life was short, but his legacy isn't. So...I am going to do my best to keep his story going, not to cling to my grief, but to celebrate what God has done.

I once read a mother's book, telling the story of how she lost her baby girl. She said that she wrote the book, in part, because she wanted to be her daughter's voice, to give that tiny life weight in the world. And maybe it's the same for me. (Hence the title change to "Little Feet...Big Footprints")

So...while I usually detest change, I felt that a change to Carter's blog was necessary. It may not be all that different, in theory, but I felt like I at least needed a reason to keep writing. Plus, the overall facelift to the blog design made me feel lighter a new chapter is beginning.

Celebrating Our Little Men

Today I had the honor of holding scrumptious, little baby Josh — the now one-week-old son of my friend Diane and the new little brother of Cohen's friend Sam. (Don't feel left out, Jake; I know you're a proud papa too.)

All 8 pounds of Josh are lovable. He has that sweet baby smell and was so content to just sleep in my arms. I could have rocked him forever if I didn't need to chase after my own 19-month-old son who was terrorizing Diane's dog Hugo.

Diane and I have experienced much of our pregnancies together, all of our boys born only a couple months apart (Cohen & Sam born in Summer 2009; Carter & Josh born in early 2011). I know that if our situation had been different, Carter and Josh would have been good friends just like their older brothers. So, I found it very fitting and comforting today that Josh was the first baby I held since holding my Carter.

I don't have any new revelations or insights to share from this experience, but I thought it worth mentioning in order to celebrate the birth of baby Josh and to recognize what a gift our little boys (all four of them) are.

Thank you, God, for our little men.

(And thanks, Diane, for your continued friendship...and for being so gracious with Cohen's treatment of poor Hugo.)


A Little Update...

It's been a while since I've felt like writing. Life hasn't been particularly difficult or anything...just busy.

Ben was in Denver for about a week, recording some songs for our church, and he returned with some nasty virus that took yet another week to say goodbye. So, I got just a two-week taste of what being a single parent is like. (Kudos to all you single parents who do it every day. You're stronger than I.)

Making apple pie with Cohen's help. 
But for now, life is relatively normal. Ben goes to work. Cohen and I do a lot of running: Running errands. Running after Cohen. Running to attempt an exercise routine. Running. Running. Running.

Ben and I welcomed two weekends in a row that we could just enjoy some "nothingness." Cohen needed time with his grandparents, so he enjoyed his visits while Ben and I slept in, ran errands without diaper bags, and even went out to eat without having to order from the kid's menu. We enjoyed some much-needed alone time (did I mention all the running I've been doing?), but each time, we looked forward to seeing our little man again.

In the midst of all this running, though, I've found myself a bit (how should I say it?)...lighter.

Okay, while I may have shed a physical pound or two thanks to Jillian Michaels, I refer to "lightness" more in the emotional sense. February and March were heavy months as we grieved over our loss of Carter. April has brought a bit of sunshine into our lives as we have been able to look forward at what life might bring next. And you know what? We find ourselves looking forward with expectation and hope.

If our ongoing experience with Carter teaches us anything, it is that we should embrace what is before us and move forward in expectation of what God will do, rather than fear of what we can't control.

So...we are moving forward. We still have several grief moments, like last Sunday when I found the hospital parking ticket from the day we found out that Carter would die. And while I let myself have these moments, I also cling to the hope of what is to come. I look forward to long walks on warm, spring days. I look forward to re-starting my grad school classes in May and finishing that masters degree. I eagerly anticipate the summer vacation we have planned and even the 5k Ben and I have decided to run together (yes...again with the running).

The great part about living life, especially life with Christ, is that even in the midst of hurt, we can have hope for our future (in this life and the next). I continue to cling to the promise that God will redeem our brokenness and use our little Carter's life in big ways. And the best way we know how to do that is to live in the hope of today and what is to come.