For Sophie…

I’ve taken a couple of days to process and absorb since the Celebration Service of Sophie’s life on Saturday. I still don’t think I have the words to fully describe what that day was like for me. Words like holy, perfect, sad, and love come to mind but, that’s only 4 words and a day like Saturday deserves way more than that. Maybe in a few days it’ll come to me.

If you missed the service live, here is the link to watch it Sophie’s Celebration

I also wanted to post my entire speech. I read a shortened version on Saturday for time purposes so here is the full speech.

I wrote this on December 22nd After we got the news that Sophie’s cancer had returned. I couldn’t sleep and this just came out and I’ve added a few things in since she passed. We all know I don’t ever write anything short so, here goes.

All I’ve ever wanted to be is a mom to a little girl. I became a teacher because it’s a great mom’s job even if the money isn’t super glamorous. I’ve never cared about having a lot of money or things-I just dreamed of a good man to love me and give me babies to care for. I dreamed about brushing and putting bows in hair, playing tea parties and dress up, lazy movie days cuddled on the couch, playing at the park, and endless laughter. The last 2 years and 10 months of being Sophie’s mom have far exceeded anything I’d ever dreamed about. 1,021 Days. I loved her from the second that pregnancy test was positive. I loved her as I laid on a couch for 12 weeks of bed rest just trying to get her here when a massive blood clot threatened my pregnancy and her life. I loved her through 13 hours of labor and 4 days in the hospital. Through colic, and reflux, and ear infection sleepless nights-I loved her. I’ve loved every single second of being her mama.

She was perfect-never a great sleeper-but perfect nonetheless. She was happy 95% of the time. She was caring and compassionate-sad parts in movies made her cry and she always brought toys and cuddles to any friend that was sad in the nursery. She gave the best hugs and kisses always followed by a smile and ‘I loo’. She loved fiercely. She is my greatest accomplishment. Witnessing her be so brave and strong over the last 7 1/2 months has been the absolute privilege of my life. Words can’t fully describe just what children endure in hospitals and I could never be able to fully articulate just how brave she was. Far braver than I’d ever be in her shoes. Before she lost her voice she’d still tell the nurses ‘no thanks’ and ‘I’m brave’ even when they were giving her owies. Although they’ll all tell you that even though she said sweet things, her eyes betrayed the true sass within. Even when relapse and chemo took her voice and her function-she was still so expressive with those eyes. Oh how I miss those eyes.

To say this is hard is an understatement. Nothing will ever be the same again. Our friendships, relationships, our marriage, nothing about our lives will ever be the same. There’s now a Sophie sized whole in me. 36 inches and 25 pounds of emptiness that only Jesus can fill. I don’t understand this and if the Lord sees fit to explain it to me here on earth I’d gladly sit and listen but, I just don’t believe things like this are for us to understand. And while that doesn’t make any of this ok or make it hurt any less, it does provide comfort that He knows, He understands, He hears us, and He’s here. He’s here to fill that hole. Because as much as I love her, He loves her more. He loves her so much that He needed her more than we did for whatever reason. It comforts me to know that she’s not alone. She’s not suffering. She’s not being poked and messed with. She’s not bed bound and frustrated. She’s running, and dancing, and singing. She’s playing tea party and dress up and getting her hair brushed and bows put in it….but now, she’s doing all of it with Jesus.

We prayed and prayed for a miracle and people ask why didn’t we get It? But the truth is, we got several. It’s a miracle that we got her to the hospital in May and caught the tumor. It’s a miracle that we had 3 months of her responding to treatment and still getting to be her active self. Its a miracle that instead of being ripped apart, our marriage is the strongest it’s ever been. It’s a miracle that we didn’t lose her on August 7th when she relapsed and everyday since That day has been a miracle. And though we didn’t get our complete healing on this side of heaven, the fact that Jesus was here on this earth and died for our sins so that He could give Sophie complete healing in heaven….is the ultimate miracle. If you don’t believe anything else-please believe that. If you find yourself believing that for the first time, I know plenty of people that would love to talk with you about that. Bad things happen because this place- this world is broken. Romans 8:18 says that ‘The pain you’ve been feeling can’t compare to the joy that’s coming.’ And I know that’s true. One day, we’ll be reunited with Sophie and we’ll feel the joy of praising and worshipping our savior together forever. It doesn’t ease the very real, horrible earthly pain that is threatening to choke and consume me but, that doesn’t make it less true. I don’t understand why we don’t get to keep her with us here. I don’t understand why she had to suffer such a horrible disease. I don’t understand why cancer floors in children’s hospitals across the nation are so full that they have kids waiting at home for a bed to open up. I don’t understand any of it but, He’s still a good, good father and he loves us. He loves Sophie. He is bigger than cancer and ALL of the bad stuff. I’ve wanted to be very clear about that from day one of this journey. This was not for nothing-even if we can’t see it right now.

It can’t be for nothing. Sophie can’t have fought this awful disease for 231 days for nothing. So I’d like to challenge each of you sitting in this room and watching on the video to do more. Do more. Do more for people than you normally would. Value people more than your stuff or your job. Pray more. Get involved with the body of Christ. Let people in. Give more of your time if you can’t give your money. Put the phone down and be present with your people. Spend less time complaining or arguing on social media and more time doing more for the Kingdom. Donate more to an organization than you used to. Find a cause you’re passionate about and get involved. Jonathan and I are currently figuring out ways for us to do more. We are discussing how we can help. Visiting the hospital, donating toys to child life, raising money for research…Our kids deserve more than this. They deserve full lives free from hospitals and poison. So I’m going to do more so that other kids get the life Sophie didn’t. I’m partial to childhood cancer organizations but, whatever cause you can get involved in…do more for it. Do more for Soph.

I’d like to say a few thank yous even though I never could fully express my gratitude.

To each lab tech, anesthesiologist, radiologist, nurse practitioner, therapist, and basically any medical personnel that we have worked with-thank you from the bottom of our hearts for what you do and for how you loved and treated our child. Dr. Watt, Dr. Slone, and Dr. Howery thank you for what you do I know it can’t be easy at all after seeing it day in and day out. You get truly invested in your patients. They are not just bodies in a bed or names on a sheet. Each of you has cried with us and hugged us and we are eternally great full for you for doing everything in your medical power to save Sophie- we got 7 more months with her because of you.

Specifically to her nurses-I think we all know I love nurses- in fact if you’re here will you stand up real quick for me. And if you’re watching on the video know this is for all of you-I can’t express enough how incredible each nurse we’ve had has been. When we found out Sophie was terminal, Jonathan and I said ‘send us back to Children’s’ immediately. We wanted to be with the family that has loved her and us since May. It was the best decision. For 13 days we got visit after visit, hug after hug, and prayer after prayer from almost every nurse we’ve ever had. Some of you even came in to sing with us during all of the days of Sophie’s party. Knowing they were back in charge of Sophie’s care brought so much comfort to us in her last days. I think she was even more at ease and comfortable knowing she was ‘home’. You are the hands and feet of Jesus every single day. Never doubt that you’re all doing exactly what you were meant to do. You have all touched our lives and we will honestly miss seeing you everyday. We’ve already missed you in the last week. You are part of our family now and we will be back to see you.

I’d also like to thank the 50,000 plus people that have followed our journey over the last 7 months on Facebook. Whether you’ve followed since the beginning or have come alongside us at different points-Thank you for your encouragement, your messages, and most importantly your prayers. We never dreamed Sophie would reach so many people so thank you for loving her like your own. Your prayers have meant more than any donation ever could. We have felt strength and peace for 7 months that can only come from the Holy Spirit and mass prayer. We’d have curled up and given up months ago if it was just us. Thank you to Every single person that has helped us. If you donated money, gift cards, your time to a fundraiser, bought a t shirt, played in the basketball tournament, bought anything from a fundraiser, sent gifts, care packages, food, coke tabs, or gift cards…..we could never ever say thank you enough. We have been so provided for financially and with love that we were able to fully focus on Sophie and we could never repay that. Thank you to Bethel. Our home and family here have rallied around us and carried us with your prayers, donations, love, and time. Every card, visit, cleaning our apartment, stocking our pantry, feeding Jonathan when he was home alone, call, text, and group prayer session has been so appreciated. We love this place and we love each of you. We need you now more than ever. Jessie and Alyssa, for taking on cemetery and funeral arrangements so I didn’t have to make those calls-I’m eternally grateful. Tami and William for walking this journey with us so fully while you walk your own cancer road we love you so much and we are still here for you and Addie no matter what. My dear new friends and fellow cancer moms walking this journey still- it has been an honor praying for your babies and living the last 7 months with your love, texts, advice, tears, hugs, and triumphs. I love each of you more than you know. Together we can do more for our babies. Our friends and family that have stepped up to check on us, sent an I love you text, had a movie or hang out night, visited us at home and at the hospital, made us laugh and feel normal, took us to lunch or just flat said this sucks I’m sorry I can’t fix it- just thank you for your love and for your time. Those mean more than anything. To Brownsboro ISD, Mr. Hunter, Ricky, my 3rd grade family, and the rest of CES-thank you for everything. For donating sick days, cards, money, gift cards…for hugs and prayers. For allowing me to keep my insurance and paychecks while being able to be a full time mom-I’m truly eternally grateful. That’s been the biggest blessing we could’ve ever asked for. Kissam Elementary-you guys prayed Sophie into this world and you’ve held me and her ever since and I love you all so much. I’m sure there’s hundreds of other thank yous I could give but I need to thank the most important people.

To our brothers-Bonner, David, Solomon, Scott, and Tyler-thank you for loving our Punkin. For being the best and most fun uncles anyone could ask for. I know you each wanted to be with her and us more but we, and especially Sophie know how much you love us. Thank you for being our sounding boards when we need you and for dropping everything to come when you could. For coming over for movie nights and dinner and for making us feel more normal in a place that’s anything but normal. Thank you for spending her last 13 days in the hospital with us, playing music, singing songs, making us all laugh, cuddling her, and holding onto us. We’d be lost without you.

To my daddy-thank you for showing me the kind of man that I should be with- a man that takes care of his family at all costs and loves them so fiercely. A strong man that is really a big softy on the inside. Thank you for driving hours daily every week yet still coming to be with us as much as you could. Thank you for the laughter and smiles and for being the best Pappy in the whole world for Sophie to love. I know she loved you more than pizza and so do I. Randy-I don’t know if thank you can cut it for everything you’ve done for us. Thank you for raising such a good man and for being the best boss he could ever ask for during this. Jonathan is so lucky to have your wisdom and counsel in life but also daily at work. Thank you for bringing joy and music to Sophie’s life and for continuing to show us what it looks like to Praise Him in the Storm. I know Pop loves punkin- and punkin definitely loved Pop. MaryDale-thank you for being there for me to watch Sophie while I was at work. Knowing she was at home with you gave me such comfort even though I hated being away from her. For putting your life on hold to be with us every week since May-for staying a lot of Fridays so that I could be home with my husband for a semblance of together time. And for praying so fiercely for all of us and for never ever losing the glowing optimism that I know we all love about you so much. Thank you Jolly-she loved you so very much. My mama- there aren’t enough words. You’ve never gone more than 14 days without seeing Sophie. You’ve been my sounding board, my 1AM advice call, my punching bag sometimes, but most importantly my teacher. You taught me how to be the best mom-loving so much it hurts and showing it everyday-at least I hope that’s what I’ve done. For retiring early and putting your entire existence on hold for us-I’ll never be able to thank you enough. You know there’s so much more I have to say to you but I just can’t and get all of these people home today. I love you and Mammy’s Darlin loved you too-so so much. Jacy-my best friend since you came into this world. Loving you trying to keep you in line was my first crack at being a mom. I’d have been lost without you in my life. You know when to build me up and when to keep me humble ha. Thank you for putting Sophie first and your business and your own health second. You are the original spartan and she learned how be silly and sassy and more importantly how to be a fighter from you. I’ll forever be thankful for the hundreds of photos you’ve taken of her. Because of you, she’ll live forever in print.

Jonathan, the love of my life. Thank you for making me a mom to two angels. Thank you for 5 and a half years of the kind of love and marriage that people write novels about. Thank you for showing me what true sacrificial love is. Thank you for being the most incredible daddy. Not one person that ever saw you with her could doubt that she was your whole world and I am your moon. I’m so thankful I get to live this life with you. If someone would’ve told me 7 years ago that I’d have you but, have to go through this…I wouldn’t change a thing. You’ve made me who I am and you helped me become the best mom I could be. You are the one my soul loves. I love you so much and we will get through this like we have everything else-together, holding hands.

If you have followed us on Facebook, you know that I find a lot of comfort and inspiration from Ann Voscamp. I was reading her Christmas devotional on the 21st-the day before we got the devastating news that we were out of options. This particular part really hit my heart hard and I actually screenshot it on my phone to go back to later. Now I know I was touched by that so I could share it here and I’d like to close by reading the last few lines of that page.

“You always get your Christmas miracle. You get God with you. God gives God. He withholds no good thing from you. And the good things in life are not so much health, but holiness. Not so much riches in this world, but relationship with God. Not so much our plans, but His presence. And He withholds no good thing from us because the greatest things aren’t ever things. He doesn’t withhold Jesus from you. Christ is all your good, and He is all yours, and this is always ALL your miracle. No matter the barrenness you feel, you can always have as much of Jesus as you want.”

Finally, My sweet baby love. Thank you for letting me be your mama. For teaching me more about love than I could’ve ever known without you and for helping me believe in miracles. Thank you for showing thousands of people what is means to be brave and that God is BIGGER. I promise to do more with my life because of you and make you as proud of me as I am of you. I love you so very much-save me a place at the tea party.

15 thoughts on “For Sophie…

  1. What a beautiful testament to God’s love in this broken world. Thank you for sharing this heart wrenching time with us strangers so we could pray for you and sweet Sophie. Continued prayers.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I can’t imagine your pain, but your faith is so raw and beautiful. Thank you for being such a light for Christ. You are in my prayers.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for putting into words the many thoughts and feelings I had following the death of our son. You said it much eloquently than I could and I look forward to the day when God will make all things right and we will be with Him forever…no more tears, no separation, and no death!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for laying yourself so bare and allowing us to experience this journey through your eyes. This is when we are the most like Jesus. He laid himself bare on the Cross for our eternal life. It has been an honor to pray for Sophie and all who love her. I will not forget you in my prayers from now on.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. God truly has blessed you, Jonathan and Sophie through the storm. To see God’s strength, grace and mercy alive in you all and in this new walk is a miracle. God is Love. Love always overcomes. Keep the Faith.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sophie’s life and service to our Lord and Savior is a miracle. Many have been blessed with your willingness and strength to share. We pray every day for all of you and that Sophie’s witness will continue to spread and witness in His name. God bless all of you.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. As the tears have run down my face reading your words again, I sit in awe at your strength. God bless you and Jonathan and Sophie always and forever. I will never understand

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow! My heart aches for you and your husband. I want you to know that I am praying for you guys.
    I have been following your story over the past few months, and my life has been touched by little Sophie’s life and bravery.
    Thank you for sharing your story with people all acrossed the world. You will still be in all of our prayers.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I don’t have the words to express the way my heart breaks for you. Your faith and courage and the profound love you have for each other and our Lord will forever touch me and everyone who has followed you on this journey. Sophie the brave will surely work miracles in the lives of all who have followed her story. The Lord has used Sophie and her wonderful family as His personal witness. God bless you. You will be in my prayers.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I stand in awe of you. A beautiful child to go through what she did so young. The blessings of the Lord with you ,the strength you have,you are an awesome mother. The strong strength of family there beside you and Sophie ,the smile I saw on her face,she knew she was deeply loved. I started reading Sophiethe brave and then read it was Randy’s grand child and realized she was my cousin. I prayed for the family . Bless all of you and give you strength .

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Your strength is so moving. I wish I could’ve been there, Shelby. Thank you for sharing your celebration. Thank you for sharing your journey. Most of all, thank you for sharing your baby girl. Her life has served such a powerful purpose.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Sending prayers and love to you both. Know that Sophie touched so many people in her life. Your faith has restored, strengthen and reminded all of us that GOD Is BIGGER!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Many prayers for you, Jonathan and all who loved Sophie so deeply. Thank you for sharing her journey with so many of us whom you don’t even know. Because of your deep faith and testimony I was able to finally accept a loss of over 16 years ago. Thank you, Shelby. Thank you, Jesus. You will all remain in my prayers and I hope to serve Childhood Cancer Awareness in some way because of Sophie, Brock and Mason. ( I learned about Sophie and Brock through Mason’s page.)

    Liked by 1 person

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