We decided to take a last minute trip over Spring break this year to use it as a time of refreshing for our little family. It is hard to believe it has been a month since we met and said goodbye to our sweet Sophia. It has certainly been a time of grieving, but we have also had to be very intentional to not let our grieving overtake our lives because we have a sweet little two year old who doesn’t really understand what is going on, and still needs her Daddy and her Mama. Taking a little trip seemed like the perfect way to give ourselves some time away and make some fun memories with Stella.
The morning we left my Mom texted me and told me to take the time to Remember, Reflect, and Refresh. I have been thinking about that all week, and it has helped me so much.
Remember – It is so easy when something difficult happens in our lives to want to forget the pain, but we must remember. God uses the difficult seasons in our lives to mold us into what He wants us to be if we will let Him. It hurts, but we must remember the pain, so that we can see how God has brought us through.
Reflect – God has been so faithful to us, He has shown Himself in so many ways over the past weeks. Recently, I have found myself just sitting and thinking about all the little ways that God has shown that He is with us. From the generosity of complete strangers, to Scripture put on our hearts in the days before, to having my Dr. on call for Sophia’s birth. In a million little ways we heard gentle reminders that He was with us. It doesn’t take away the pain, but it reminds us that we are not alone .
Refresh – We needed some time to just be. Time when we didn’t have emails to write, and laundry to do. We had fun with Stella and made so many memories with her. There of course, was an undertone of sadness because we so wish that we were making these memories with both of our daughters, but we have learned so intimately that life is fragile, and that we only have today so we must make the most of it. We refresh our souls by doing the things that really matter.
We read Scripture, laughed, and had long talks about what is ahead. The truth is we don’t know why we had to lose Sophia, and we don’t know what the future holds. But, we know that there is one who holds the future, we know that He is good, and we know that He will be faithful to His children.
Here are a few quick reviews of the books that I have been reading recently. I always love to hear your recommendations, so feel free to leave a comment and let me know what books you have been loving recently.
I Will Carry You| Angie Smith
This is the first book that I read after we lost our daughter and it was an incredibly moving. It chronicles Angie Smith’s own journey of losing a child. I cried a lot of tears while I read her story of the pain, but also of the joy that even a short life brings. Ultimately, I was so blessed to read Angie’s story and to see her faith lived out through one of the hardest things a person can face. I think this book is a reminder in any trial or valley that God is there for us, and that He teaches us so much about Himself even in our darkest hour.
Chasing God| Angie Smith
When I finished reading “I Will Carry You” I decided to get a few of Angie’s other books. This is her newest book, and it was so, so good. She discusses in this book her own journey of going from a woman chasing after God, and trying to follow a set of rules, or live up to what she thought she should be to being a woman that just wanted to know God more. She went from knowing about God, to knowing God. I found myself using my highlighter often because she just had so much good to say about who God is and how we should respond to Him because of who He is.
Restless| Jennie Allen
I was first introduced to Jennie Allen last year when I read her first book “Anything”. The book changed me in so many ways and was just so eye opening to me. So, when I was presented with the opportunity from the publisher to review her most recent book “Restless”, I was so excited because I knew that it would be great. I was definitely not disappointed. Jennie discusses the life of Joseph to show how all of the situations of our lives work together to make us who we are and to equip us for what He has called us to do. She talks about how God used every season of his life to make him a man who would save many lives, and how we should view our lives through the lens of the Gospel and how we can point others to Christ. She discusses the different “threads” of our lives such as our: gifts, passions, places, relationships, and sufferings work together to form us and shape us into a person that God can use to bring glory to Himself. I love how she has so much insight into why we hold back from what God has called us to do and how our passions point to what God has for us in this life. There is also a Bible study and DVD available to go along with this study, and Jennie is currently hosting an online book club to discuss the book. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone that is wanting to do something big in their lives, or feels like they are stuck.
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He prepares the hearts of His children. About a year and a half ago God burdened my heart to be in Scripture. For years before my tine in God’s Word had been so hit and miss. I would do great for a few days and then miss a week. I grew up in a Christian home and went to a Christian college, and yet the idea of consistent time in God’s Word was just something I struggled with. I had seasons in my life that I did better than others, but I made so many excuses for the times that I struggled. I was too busy, I wasn’t a morning person, I couldn’t find a Bible Study that I liked, and on and on the excuses went. And then one day as a brand new Mama I realized that it was time that this changed. I realized that I needed time with God each day, and the more time I spent with Him the more time I wanted to spend with Him. I went back and looked at my journal entries in the days before we lost Sophia and I was so comforted by what I found. He had been preparing my heart before I knew what was ahead. My last journal entry which was written the morning Sophia died while I felt her squirm in my belly said this, “God’s ways don’t always make sense to our finite minds, but we can always trust that His way is perfect. Help me to follow You no matter what, even when it doesn’t make sense. Help me to trust Your heart and rest in You, for You are good” I find such comfort in knowing that He was teaching me what I didn’t even know I needed to learn.
I have seen over and over again the peace that He brings through His Word, and the comfort that He gives when we spend time with Him, but I have been reminded of this again in the past few weeks. My mind goes to John 6:68 when Jesus asks the disciples if they will leave, Peter responds, “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.” Where else can I run in this time, but to the God of all comfort. I have so much sorrow and sadness, my heart and my arms ache for my sweet little Sophia, but I have found so much hope and comfort in God’s Word. Where would I be without this love that only Jesus can give?
There have been so many people that have told me that I am strong because I have turned to the Lord in this time of grieving, but I think that they have it backwards. I run to Him because I am weak, because I have nowhere else to run. I pour over His Word because it shows me there is comfort to be found in Him, and purpose to suffering. I am not strong…but He is.
One of the most amazing things about reading Scripture is that I am always learning more about who God is. It sometimes takes work to see past the flannelgraph picture of Jesus we have from Sunday School, to see who He really is. This past week I read the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead as Mary and Martha looked on. I was prompted to read the story and think a bit about what took place as I was reading Angie Smith’s book “I Will Carry You”, and her insights struck me.
Two little words stuck out in the passage…”Jesus wept”. I had seen this verse so many times before, and I even remember joking about it when I was a kid since it was the shortest verse in the English Bible, and therefor the easiest to memorize when we would memorize Scripture. This time though, I saw something more. I read the passage and all I could think about was why He was weeping. In all the times I had read this verse, I had never thought about why He was weeping.
At first glance it may seem that He is weeping because Lazarus has died, but when looking at it again, I don’t think that is the whole reason. Jesus knew what was about to happen. Lazurus was dead, but Jesus knew that He would not be dead for long, He knew He was going to raise Him from the dead. Yet, He wept? He began weeping as He saw Mary weeping, and I realized why He wept. He did not weep because Lazarus was dead…He wept because His child was hurting. He wept because everything was going to be ok, but Mary and Martha did not know that. He weeps because He loves us, and He feels our pain. He weeps because He knows that someday everything will be ok, but in our humanness we so often forget that.
Heaven has never seemed more real than it has in the past few days. Revelation 21:4 has been on my mind “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” In church on Sunday we sang the song “Glorious Day” in church, I have always loved the old hymn “One Day”, and this version was such a great reminder. Jeremy and I sung it with tears rolling down our cheeks, because the promise is so much more beautiful today than ever before. Today we weep, but it won’t be forever.
Living, He loved me
Dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away
Rising, He justified freely forever
One day He’s coming
Oh glorious day, oh glorious day
There are some blog posts that you never want to write…this is one of them. The past two weeks have been so much different than we had ever imagined and we have faced what we never thought we would have to face. We have been looking forward to February for months…this was the month our precious Sophia Kate would be born, and the month we would bring her home from the hospital. Months of prayer and preparation all awaited this month. Over the past weeks our home filled with tiny little pink things waiting for our precious girl. Sophia was born, and she was beautiful…but we could not bring her home because she was already with Jesus.
The past two weeks have been some of the most difficult days we have ever had to face. We have experienced more sadness then we have ever known, but through it all we have also experienced the peace and presence of Christ as we never have before. We do not know why The Lord chose to take our sweet Sophia so soon, but we rejoice in knowing that she is safe in the arms of Jesus.
In the past weeks we have been surrounded by more love than we could have ever imagined. We have felt the prayers of so many, and we are so thankful. There are so many things that we do not know, so many questions that will never have answers…but we know that God is good, and that He is faithful.
If you would like to read more of our story, you can read the updates that we posted throughout the journey on our YouCaring website.