Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The World Will Never Know Him

It's strange how grief hits.

This winter has been hard on me. We have spent days, weeks, and months locked in our houses, keeping warm, all while a thick blanket of snow covered our lives. With every inch of snow that fell, the smaller my house felt, and the more panicked and restless I became. I struggled with entertaining 3 children, 2 of whom should have been at school. Day after day after day of snow closings and pent up energy became an awful jumbled mess of stress and frustration.

As winter has slowly started losing it's grip on the land, as our pond is defrosting, geese and ducks are returning to their nests, and green grass is pushing it's way up through the earth, I have found myself breathing a sigh of relief, thankful for the reprieve.

I've spent hours in the sun, soaking up the warmth, breathing in the fresh clean air that spring has brought. I've spent hours watching my children shoot baskets, become more confident on their bikes and scooters, all while working up the courage to let them go a little further from the house by themselves.

But with every new season a small part of me silently grieves.

As the kids begin to spend more time outside, I always discover their need for bigger clothing, larger shoes, and new outside toys. Their bike seats need to be raised, the training wheels taken off, and the baby toys are slowly finding their way to new homes that are full of expectation for a little one who will soon need them.

But a sad silent voice reminds me of a child the world will never know.

He was and is my son.


He would be 3 1/2 this spring. He would be running and riding a tricycle and discovering the world around him.

There will be no new shoes for him. There won't be digging through boxes of clothes that have been passed down from his brother waiting for him to grow just big enough to wear them. There won't be any swimming lessons or riding bikes. No running beside a wobbly bike as we release our hands from the seat and hold our breath that he just stays up. There will be no kissing boo boos and one less dirt ring around the bathtub from a day spent outside digging for worms.

There won't be tiny hands reaching up for me to pick him up to let him rest. There won't be popsicle goo on fingers to be washed, no potty accidents to clean up. There won't be any sleepy eyes with hands around my neck as we say our good night prayers.

And next fall, there will be a preschool teacher saying hello to her students who eagerly and anxiously await the world that will begin to widen. She will be a teacher that should have had the name "Joshua" on her class roster.

My heart. It aches.

Sometimes the reality that the world will never know Joshua brings me to my knees in the sadness and finality of losing him.

My heart aches as I continue to rejoice in the life that continues around me. It weeps for a world that will never know my son.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Everlasting Memories Cremation Memorial Keepsake Review

About a month ago, I received an email from a respresentitive from Everlasting Memories. They found my blog and wanted to offer a free cremation memory keepsake in return for a review here on my blog.

After thinking about it, I realized that Shane's birthday would be coming up. He has been diving a little deeper into his grief, and has been reprocessing some of his feelings regarding the loss of Joshua, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to give him a gift that would allow him to have a piece of Joshua with him at all times.

After looking through the website and deciding what Shane might like,  and then after a few emails back and forth with the amazing and super helpful customer service representative, I had the "cremation chamber" in hand within 24 hours of ordering it.

When I opened the package and held the keychain urn in my hand, I must say that it exceeded my expectations in quality. In looking through the website, I wasn't sure what to expect. The pictures and the overall look of the site, in my opinion, make the jewlery and urns look somewhat low end and cheap. However, that could not be further from the truth. Here are a couple pictures of what we received.

This is the box that the keychain came in.
It also included an instruction sheet,
 a bottle of super glue gel to seal the chamber,
 and a funnel and stick to help push the cremains through the funnel into the chamber.

I was pleasantly surprised at the quality and sturdiness of the keychain and chamber.
The chamber is stainless steel and the keychain has a polished beautiful finish. 

I was most impressed with the weight of the chamber.
It was heavy and study in my hand,
but not too heavy or overbearing for a keychain. 

I was able to have Joshua's name engraved into the side. It's hard to see in this picture,
the engraving is very subtle and beautiful.

I waited until today to give the keychain to Shane. Today, he turned 32. I wasn't sure if he was going to be super excited about an urn for his baby's ashes as a birthday present, but I wanted to give him something special and meaningful, so I took the risk. At first, when I told him that I wasn't sure if he was going to like it, he looked at me like he was scared. Sometimes my gift giving abilities are hit and miss! HA!

However, when he opened the box, I could see the look of surprise on his face. He said it was one of the most thoughtful gifts I have given him in a long time. He told me that he has been thinking about buying something to keep a little bit of Joshua's ashes with him, but he didn't know where to even look for something like this. I told him about Everlasting Memories and how great they were to work with. He agreed that the quality, look, and feel of the keychain was exactly what he wanted! WIN!!!! ;)

I helped him fill the urn with some of Joshua's ashes. Here are some pictures.

Our first attempt at filling the chamber.
Some of the pieces of the cremains were too big for the funnel shaft. 

The funnel did not work for the cremains so instead,
we poured some of the ash into the chamber using the top of the funnel. 

The chamber has been filled with ash. 

I wanted to show you how small the shaft of the funnel was compared to some of the pieces of ash.
I've never seen ash before Joshua's
 so I'm not sure if it typically has this many large pieces,
but the funnel did not work for us because of the size of the pieces.

Again, Shane and I were pleasantly surprised with the quality and sturdiness of the keychain. After it was filled, we placed a few drops of the super glue onto the thread of the chamber and attached the lid to seal it. We attached the keychain to Shane's keys, and now he will always have a part of Joshua with him.

Thank you so much, Hallie and Everlasting Memories for allowing me the opportunity to receive a keepsake for my husband in exchange for a review. I will definitely be recommending Everlasting Memories to bereaved families in need of an urn or some sort of keepsake to help them remember their loved one.

Monday, March 3, 2014

He's Able, I've just been a spoiled brat.

I've been working hard to figure out the root of my anger. I don't like the bitterness that has taken hold of my heart lately. I don't like looking at others lives and being angry. I don't like thinking about God and feeling anger. I don't think I am a naturally angry person.

I know there have been many who have joined together in prayer for me. There have been friends and acquaintances that have stepped up to the plate in praying for me, encouraging me, and walking this road with me. God has been with me every step of the way and in the past week or so, He has (again) shown himself faithful. It's almost been humorous in how obvious he has made it.

I have realized that the root of most of my troubles is control.

Maybe this isn't new news to anyone else. It honestly isn't much news to myself. I have run my entire life based on what I can control.

Before Joshua, my life was "hard." Shane and I got married at a very young age. He was working part time, I was in school full time. We chose to marry young, but it was hard. I went straight from living with my parents to living with my husband. There was no real transition into adulthood. I loved being married, and to this day, I would not change it- but Shane and I had a lot of growing up to do.

Our finances have always been difficult. We never had enough money. We lived off of financial aid from my school loans to help cover rent, food, and other necessary items. We racked up debt by buying cars we couldn't afford, and a house that was a complete money pit. We lost income because I became prideful and cocky regarding my ability as a teacher. All of these things kept piling up, and by the time Caleb came around, we were drowning. But the problems were all created by us. We could have chosen to stop spending. We could have chosen to wait to get married. We could have chosen to put school aside and work for a few years to earn the money we needed.

Instead, we cried out to God in half assed faith, begging him to fix our problem. (yes…I did just use the word ass and God and faith all in the same sentence….sorry) And when the money came, we knew he was faithful. I don't know why he carried us through those problems back then, but he did. He always answered our prayers in the way that we asked him to, and faith became easy and stagnant. (although at the time, we thought it was hard and that we were growing)

Then, Joshua. Joshua's broken heart and the hemorrhage that threatened my pregnancy were nothing that we chose. It was out of our control, but God continued to answer my prayers in the way that I wanted him to. When I was bleeding throughout my pregnancy, I begged god to let Joshua live. I begged him to save Joshua. And he did. I begged God to allow Joshua to live through his first surgery. And he answered with a "yes." I begged God to give me the strength to make it through the hospital stay. And he did.

And then the morning Joshua died, I begged God for mercy. And he answered that prayer with a "yes." However, mercy, in my mind, was allowing Joshua to live. This was the first time God had answered my prayers in a different way that I asked.

This was the moment that God started breaking me. This is the moment that my world and my faith was changed forever.

You see, up until that point, I thought I had complete control. I thought I had God wrapped around my little finger. I put God in this tiny little box and I only opened the box when I needed him to fix my messes.

This time he didn't. And I've been pissed ever since.

This morning I was reading the 9th chapter in 2 Corintians. Although this chapter is talking about giving with a cheerful heart, verse 8 hit me like a ton of bricks.

"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, 
so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, 
you may abound in every good work." 

Did you read that? God is able. 

Being able means that He can. But he doesn't have to. God could have saved Joshua. He could have saved my dad. But he didn't. 

See that? I have no control. My prayers were not answered in the way I wanted them to. So instead of trusting that he is sufficient in all things at all times, I have been digging my heels into the ground and throwing a temper tantrum like a spoiled brat. I have been pouting and shouting obscenities at God because I didn't get my way. I never truly believed that he is able but simply doesn't have to because I want him to. I haven't truly believed that God is sufficient in all things at all times so that God's glory can show through all of it. I just haven't. 

I don't think God has done any of this to be mean to me. I'm not even sure that he "caused" Joshua's broken heart and my dad's lung cancer. But I do know that God has known that I am so stubborn and lost in the illusion that I have control that he used these things to break me. And even though the breaking has been painful, He has been faithful. Not only has he been faithful, but he has been patient and gentle and forgiving. All of that is way more than I deserve. 

So where am I know? I am learning. I am digging deep into his word to learn more of who he is. I am trusting that there is a reason for my anger and that he can handle it, but that he will continue to teach me through it. 

I am trusting that he is good and faithful and sufficient. 

I have a long way to go, but I'm making progress. 

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