Tag Archives: parenting

When Gratitude Opens Our Eyes

16 Nov

It’s been 18 years ago today.

That day that we were able to meet our daughter, Victoria Rose, even though her soul had already been carried to heaven.

The truth is I don’t think about her every day. Not even every week. On the other hand there are times when the grief feels almost fresh and I surprise myself by breaking down crying at unexpected moments. Like when my son got married and my daughter-in-law’s mom helped her into her wedding dress and I realized I’d never get to do that with my daughter. Or that November when I recognized that she would have been getting her driver’s license. Or years ago when I would wander through the little girl dress section at the local department store around Easter and pick out the dress I would have put her in.

The thing about stillbirth is you don’t have a lot of memories. The ones you have are precious- feeling the baby move inside you, seeing the baby on the ultrasound, picking out all the things, the anticipation. Instead of being left with lots of memories and missing those things attached to the memories, you are left with “what if.”

What if she had lived? What would our life have been like with three boys and then a girl? What would she have been like?

This is what I think: She would have had long blonde hair. I think she would have been a princess but not in the pink and frilly dress type. No, she had three older brothers who weren’t really into babying anyone. So I think she would have been the princess superhero. She would have fought evil along side of those superheroes growing up. She would have tried to keep those three in line and I’d like to think that she might have succeeded a bit. She would have been strong- you have to with three older brothers. I’d like to think that she would have been compassionate and loving and adventurous. It would have been fun watching her blossom into whatever God made her to be.

This year it seems harder. That date. Nov. 16. Perhaps it is because we would have been about done with the growing up years. She would have been thinking about prom and graduation and college and dreaming of her life out in the world. We would have been getting ready to launch her praying with everything we had that she was ready. Today there is a bit more sadness as I realize that the little girl I mourn would not be so little anymore but would have been a young woman.

In Sojourn, a community women’s Bible study I lead, we’ve been talking about gratitude. Today the topic is “Gratitude Opens Our Eyes.” I believe that with all my heart. It opens our eyes to see God. I’ve experienced it over and over again.

Today let me count the gifts. Let me name the gifts with a heart full of gratitude for all Victoria’s life brought me:

  1. I learned how to have compassion at a deeper level especially for those experiencing loss.
  2. I was able to hold my daughter.
  3. God’s peace was so evident in the room that day.
  4. God’s peace followed us in the days after- literally feeling Him hold me at night as I wept.
  5. I have a daughter.
  6. Her life inspired others to turn to God. There are many stories surrounding that.
  7. Unfolding her little ear that was folded over.
  8. Her tiny perfect fingernails. Her tiny perfect fingers.
  9. I am filled with love when I think of her. . . not bitterness.
  10. Kind nurses and doctors that day.
  11. Two ornaments that hang on my Christmas tree made by women who understood loss.
  12. Her tiny perfect mouth.
  13. Those who cried with us, held us, brought us food, sent us cards. Who were present with us.
  14. The picture of my boys at church praying for us with their heads on each others shoulders while we were at the hospital. So glad someone took it and gave it to me. Precious.
  15. The reminder that I’m a sojourner here on earth. This isn’t forever.

As it happens over and over- that as I’ve listed these grateful things, a miracle occurs.

My eyes are opened to see God. In the midst He was there, He is here.


Life is a gift. Even if it only lasts a moment.

Monday Mornings: She Said Yes

19 Aug

I prayed for her.

Not every day. Not even every week. But every so often. Watching my son playing on the playground, I might think of her and pray. When long strokes of cursive filled my journal, she would make it into the prayer requests from time to time. Sometimes I’d see him across the living room and I’d wonder. Where she was. What was she doing. Prayers would come.

I don’t believe there is one person God has picked out for you and you must find that person. To be honest, I’m not really sure how my prayers for her work. I’ve thought that part of praying for another is softening your own heart and preparing you for how life changes. That one day instead of my son looking at me with his big brown adoring eyes, his head would turn and he would be looking at another with those same eyes. One day instead of him reaching for my hand when he was scared or anxious, he would be reaching for another’s hand. Her hand. And when you’ve prayed for her for all those years you smile and you know. Your heart opens to encompass another.

That one day I saw the tenderness and the love in the midst of an anxious moment. The understanding for each others strengths and weaknesses. They walked out the door. Tears ran down my face. I asked God was she the one I had been praying for?

Then there was the conversation. The two asking us if we thought they were ready to be married. I cried. “So, you are the one I’ve prayed for all these years.” She cried, too.

The little boy who would gaze up at the stars and who memorized all the constellations took his telescope. . . the one his uncle and aunt bought him when he was in junior high and dreamed of being an astronomer. . . and he took her hand leading her into a field in the Minnesota countryside. The meteors fell from the sky. Somewhere between Saturn and the moon he knelt down and asked.

This morning perhaps I am thinking back a decade or two remembering the little boy now grown into the man. I’m thinking of all those prayers for him, for his future, just begging God at times to keep his safe from harm but not so safe that he didn’t learn a few things along the way. I’m remembering all those prayers for her- for a heart that loved God, for confidence in who God made her to be, for whatever it was that she needed right then. And my heart is full.

She said yes.

5+ Ideas for Back to School

7 Aug

5+ Ideas for Back to School

Blaine and Zacj 1st day of school

It’s that time of year again. You know the time of year when all those who love school jump for joy at their first whiff of waxy crayons- you know the ones. . .  you can find them reaching for a box and inhaling deeply in the school supply aisles. And of course there are those who sigh and resist the inevitable avoiding THAT aisle at all costs-you know them too- you can find them the night before school starts with that wild look on their face raising through the aisles silently (or not so silently) vowing to never wait until the last minute again.


We’ve got over 5 ideas for you today to make Back to School fun, memorable, meaningful or to just help you get through it. Whether a kid’s pastor, parent, teacher or day care provider- there is something for you in this list.


1.    Photographs

Take a “First Day of School” picture with the same object each year. Then post the pictures at their grad party. Yeah, I know. Planning. Commitment. Dedication. But you’ll be glad you did it. Just think strategically. (And don’t throw out that object until the last one has walked that stage.)


Each year we pulled out that easel.



 zach 7th grd

They looked forward to it. Ok, so maybe the 16 year olds didn’t so much. But a little guilt trip usually does the trick. . .

 Zach Jr


Don’t forget the last day of school.



And what to do with all these pics? Why place them on a board and show them off at the grad party.

 school picture display

I still can’t believe I pulled this off. I have two more years to go with my last child then I’m done.  That last sentence was scary.


2..  Self-Portraits

Have the kids draw a self-portrait the first day of school. Do it again the last day of school. It’s fun to see the difference in artistic skill over the year. (For you highly consistent people, do this every year and make a book with them. In case you are wondering, I did do this. Like three years and then I failed. But it was fun while it lasted.)

3. Back to School Lesson 


 Back to School Lesson-2

Great for kid’s pastors, Christian school teachers and parents to get kids thinking about how they treat their friends and teacher at school. And not just their friends- the kids that don’t have friends.


4. Stock up Now.


Kid’s pastors don’t forget to stock up on classroom supplies now during back to school sales. Killer deals await you. You’ll be glad you did it when you know- January, no glue, no markers, email box filled with supply requests.

5. How about over 50 more ideas?

Fi  Find them on our Back to School pinterest board


We’d love to hear your ideas. What do you do to celebrate Back to School or make it easier?

Have you found a great site with ideas? Put the link in a comment.