Mimosas and Kindness

A few weeks ago ( 4 Days after Sophie’s birthday to be exact) I took my first solo trip to see my sweet friend and mentor in Pensacola while my husband was on his brother’s bachelor party trip. I tackled security, airport crowds, eating alone, terminal waiting, and flights alone. I’ve historically not been great at being alone so I wanted to make the most of my time. I ate a nice lunch with a mimosa in Dallas while listening to our church’s sermon Podcast.( Bethel Bible Church on the Podcast app….you should listen to it!) While eating and taking notes I of course started thinking of my girl and of #DoMoreForSoph. Anyways, my waitress at lunch was super sweet and I decided to start my trip by telling someone about my girl and encouraging her with a big tip and a note! It was something small but, I hope it made her day as much as it made mine!

Then I boarded my first flight and we ended up with a delay on the runway because the airport we were flying into was experiencing a lot of incoming flights. People moaned and groaned and the flight attendants were kind and smiling. I just ate my free pretzels, had mimosa #2, and watched another episode of ER. We landed in Houston an hour late and then our connecting flight on the same plane was delayed due to an unruly passenger having to be removed by TSA-it was exciting.

Anyways, people are just rude on planes sometimes especially when there’s delays. The flight attendants and pilots were so kind and positive and kept smiles on their faces even though I know those days are so stressful for them. I decided it was a good time to spread a little more Soph love and handed the head attendant a note and some Sophie The Brave on my way off of the plane.

I don’t share this for any pats on the back-I’ve had my fair share of eye rolling and sighs when I get inconvenienced but, I really have tried to not sweat the small stuff after what we experienced with Sophie. I know I’ve written about feeling rage a lot and there are days that I fail at being positive and i sweat ALL the small stuff. Overwhelmingly though, I really do try to just smile at negative stuff. Life is just too short to complain all the time-my goal moving forward is to try to spread joy more than complain and sharing my girl’s story is the perfect way to do that!

So, next time you’re delayed at an airport, stuck in traffic, at the DMV, experiencing rude people, having a stressful work day, exasperated with your kids, irritated with your spouse or any number of other inconveniences that come up….stop, take a breath, and remember that life is short and you can change your whole day or someone else’s by just choosing kindness.

#SophieTheBrave #DoMoreForSoph #GodisstillBIGGER

March comes in like a lion…

It’s been awhile but, here I am. Buckle up because this will get long.

When I was in Kindergarten I vividly remember the ‘March’ unit where we learned “March comes in like a lion and leaves like a lamb.” I don’t really know what that had to do with Kindergarten but, it was fun to say! We made paper plate lions and cut the edges like a mane and glued cotton balls to another plate to make a sheep/lamb. Don’t ask me why I remember that so well. BUT this year- it makes sense- March came in like a lion for me…..

March has been hard. Harder than I expected it to be. I obviously knew Sophie’s birthday would be a difficult day but, I really wasn’t expecting the whole month to take my breath away. I guess it’s because we experienced a lot of ‘firsts’ this month and any grief book you’ll ever read says that ‘firsts’ are the worst. We spent time at both of our parents’ houses this month and that was hard, especially for me. I see her everywhere at Jonathan’s parents’ house because we lived there for a short time while I was pregnant and then we lived on their land when she was a newborn so she was at their house every single day just about for the first year of her life. At my parents’ house there are so many memories and so much missing. The rain boots and coat we kept in their laundry room for red dirt adventures, the golf cart where she went “weeeeeee” with Pappy, the toy basket and tiny chair in the living room, the pack-n-play where she slept in Mammy’s room so mom and dad could get some sleep, snacks in the pantry, and sippy cups in the cabinets. All of these things are gone. They are gone at our house too but, seeing other homes that she visited so frequently without these things was just….hard.

We were also around my sweet nephew who is 3 months older than Sophie. He is my favorite but, everything he’s doing right now…she should be doing. I organized in her ‘room’ (She never was at our new apartment but, her stuff is here so it’s her room) a little more and put more things away in the closet, making room for a desk. We’re slowly turning her room into an office for my writing and Jonathan’s business plans. All of these ‘firsts’ were happening as we were approaching her birthday. As far as timing goes, it was probably best to just get all of that over with in one month but, geez, it’s been tough. We even had to deal with getting her headstone placed and seeing it for the first time 4 days before her birthday. Not the 3rd birthday present I had planned for her.

So, I tried by best to stay busy this month. Staying busy helped me immensely in February. I’ve been doing freelance writing for a marketing company here in Tyler, running the blog of one of their health clients. That has been fun. I’ve also had 2 articles get published on a popular mom blog. (I can’t share them here yet for copyright purposes but, I will.) And I’ve completely thrown myself into the BEST Bible Study, The Amazing Life of Jesus Christ. It’s been hard, it’s hit home way too many times, and it makes my brain hurt but, it’s been soooooo good for me! Plus, meeting with a bunch of my favorite women for 2 hours every Tuesday is never a bad thing. BUT even all of those things just haven’t completely filled the hole this month, and that’s ok.

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I’m learning that staying busy all of the time isn’t the answer but, doing nothing also isn’t the answer because….there is no answer. There’s no right or wrong way to handle grief and all of the emotions that come with it. There are busy days where life almost feels ‘normal’ and then there’s guilt for that feeling. There are nights of no sleep where I’ve just given up laying in bed and instead sat in the glider I used to rock her in and held her blankets and pillows wondering how this is my life. I experience rage a lot- that might not be a flattering thing to admit but- it’s my life. Rage over little things has been my go-to emotion lately. Things like people complaining about dumb stuff or it raining too much for me to go to the cemetery or getting messages from people ‘hoping Sophie gets better’ all just bring out my rage. Walking past birthday candles sparked a rage filled crying session that I was completely unprepared for. Honestly, the fact that we have to face any of this, especially all of the ‘firsts’ is just infuriating. I feel like rage is probably too strong of a word- I’m not going like HULK SMASH everyday, I just mean things that usually would just be mildly annoying have become big issues to me.

Anyways, back to life updates. SO March 19th came and instead of a birthday party-probably Trolls themes if I had to guess- we planned Sophie The Brave Day . My original idea behind it was to encourage people to #DoMoreForSoph by simply doing anything they could think of to show kindness. I want her story to be about more than cancer- I want it to be about seeing a need- and filling it just because it’s a nice thing to do. so that’s how it started but, it became something so much more! People all over were sending me the great things they were doing -big and small- just because Sophie’s story inspired them to do more and be brave.

I asked the Women’s Bible Study groups at my church campus, my friends, and family to donate items or money that could be used to make Parent Bags for the hospital and toy donations to the Child Life team at Children’s. I didn’t  open it up to my entire church or even my personal Facebook because I knew it would be HUGE! Now, that’s not a bad thing at all- and I hope to do a HUGE donation one day but, this time……This time on her birthday, I just wanted enough donations to keep me busy organizing in the days leading up to her birthday but, not so much that I got overwhelmed and had a mental-rage-filled breakdown. It ended up being absolutely perfect. My people showed up in a HUGE way and we were able to make 34 bags for new families coming into the hospital and we filled 22 bags with toys, socks, books, movies, coloring books. puzzles, and so much more for the kiddos! It far exceeded my expectations!

 

We loaded up the car on Sophie’s birthday and headed to Dallas. My parents, Jonathan’s parents, Uncle D, Aunt Jacy, Jonathan, and I loaded the child life bin, got our ID stickers, and rode the Butterfly elevator to the 6th floor.

(Can I just note to Children’s Medical- YOU DID NOT NEED TO MAKE THE BUTTERFLY ELEVATOR TALK !!!! WE ALL HATE THE TRAIN ELEVATOR THAT TALKS SO WE ALWAYS TAKE THE BUTTERFLY ONE!!! AND YOU RUINED OUR SOLACE BY MAKING THE BUTTERFLY ONE TALK TOO!!! hahaha)

When we got to the 6th floor we were surrounded by some of our very favorites. A lot were missing but, it’s not like they have lives at home or anything. 🙂 We loaded the new parent bags into the nurses lounge and showed them all of our child life goodies. There were lots of hugs, tears, and laughs (Brittany haha) . They even all signed a sweet sign for my girl that of course got me crying- I just love them all so much. It felt like home to be there. We even had a little something for them, thanks Moon River Naturals for always keeping us smelling so good! We used to rub their Solid Vibes lotion on Sophie and all of the nurses would comment that our room smelled so good so…Stephanie at MRN was awesome enough to donate 75 of their liquid Good Vibes to the nurses!!

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Honestly her actual birthday wasn’t that hard compared to the days leading up to it. I think the anticipation of yet another ‘first’ was just too much for my brain. Now that that day is over, I am trying to get back into being productive. Step one was a quick vacation to see my friend/mentor/life coach/ and all around favorite person, Erin in Florida. You should check her Girl Catch Fire blog out because….she’s basically the coolest person I know. It was a great ‘reset’ trip for me. The Lord used it to show me the “March leaves like a lamb” side of that saying.

Easter falls on April 1st this year. March is truly leaving like a lamb in 2018. The Lamb. Jesus. The One who was slain for us. we will grieve His earthly suffering on Friday and then on Sunday….We will celebrate His return. His glorious victory. Because of THE LAMB, my girl is whole and healed and lives forever. And because He is MY Savior as well, I’ll get to spend that forever right there with her.

Easter means something entirely new this year. Maybe it should’ve always felt this real and personal to me but, now that it does, I’m so excited to celebrate my Savior. I miss my Punkin more than words but, I am so thankful to be her mama and if her struggle and death can be used to bring me into closer relationship with my Jesus, then I’m going to try and find joy alongside the sad.

 

Sophie the Brave Day

Monday, March 19th is Sophie’s 3rd birthday. We want to celebrate her memory by affecting as many people as we can in a positive way! We invite anyone and everyone to #DoMoreForSoph on her birthday! You can go BIG or small, spend a bunch of money, or give away free smiles! Whatever you can do to make someone’s day better because Sophie made everyday she was alive better just by being herself.

Kindness is everywhere around the holidays but, falls off after a bit. So many of the organizations and places that are packed with volunteers and donations from October to January are empty and lonely by March.

Some ideas of examples:

-Collect items to donate to hospitals, nursing homes, homeless shelters, etc.

-Pay for someone’s meal in line behind you

-Take water and snacks to people working outside in construction crews, lawn services, etc.

-Send someone flowers or an encouraging note

-Take your kids on a special date

-Do someone nice for your spouse or household that you wouldn’t normally do

– Find a local volunteer opportunity

-Donate school supplies to your kid’s teachers

-Take a meal to someone that might be struggling

-Let someone know you’re praying for them

-Sign up for monthly donations to a worthwhile organization OR make a one time donation.

Some good organizations to look into are Gold Network of East Texas, St. Baldrick’s, Alex’s Lemonade Stand, Samaritan’s Purse, Layla’s Legacy, Sadie Keller Foundation, YoungLife, Refuge of Light

-Sponsor a needy child through Compassion

-Make cards for hospitals, police stations, nursing homes, etc.

-Send snacks to nurses stations at the hospital or doctor’s offices

-start collecting items for Operation Christmas Child in December

Feel free to share any ideas you have in the comments and PLEASE share how you #DoMoreForSoph on her birthday and any day between now and then!

We, as Sophie’s family will be celebrating her by taking a load of items to Children’s! We will have things for the parents of inpatient kids as well as supplies for Child Life to give to kiddos needing encouragement! Although this day will be so hard without her here with us, it brings me such JOY to know that she will be remembered and celebrated all over!

We miss her so dearly but, find comfort in the huge support we have found throughout her journey. Thank you for keeping the memory of our brave Sophie alive by sharing her story and bringing more JOY and KINDNESS to the world in her name!

I have created a Sophie the Brave Day Event on our Facebook page and I will be sharing different ideas for acts of kindness each day leading up to Sophie’s Day. Feel free to join that event and share it with others! Sophie deserves the world celebrating her!

A heart that is Broken, yet full

Last week, I wrote about visiting our four sweet friends that were all inpatient at Children’s. We used that as an opportunity to visit the hospital together for the first time since Sophie died. (It’s still SO weird to write that word.) I have an update on two of our friends and they are VASTLY different updates. One of them is full of joy and celebration and the other is buried in grief and loss. These two stories, along with my own current story, and a pretty difficult bible study week on suffering have made for a very hard yet, thought provoking week for me.

On Sunday, February 18th, our friend Kaylynn took her last breath in her mother’s arms. She has been terminal since October but, she’s been very stable recently so her sudden passing was a shock to her family. My heart shattered when my sweet friend text me that she was gone. I wanted to jump through the phone and grab her and hold her tight. I also was struck with very weird emotions. I was obviously just crushed that my friend has to feel what I feel. That she has to have the image of holding her child as she died and all of the horrible things that the hours afterward contain. Those are memories that NO ONE should have to endure. At the same time though, I was slightly and very selfishly relieved because now, I’m not ‘alone’. That’s not something that I’m proud of thinking….obviously I would NEVER wish losing a child on anyone. But I’ve vowed to be completely transparent throughout the last 9 months and this is part of that transparency-being broken for my friend but finding small comfort in someone else knowing how I feel. I shared last week that I felt a huge pull to become Lindsey’s friend and now I fully believe we were meant to become friends to walk this very long and hard road together. That makes me thankful. Not thankful that our sweet girls had to suffer and leave us way too soon but, thankful that we have each other to lean on.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

The Word of God has been such a comfort to me in the last 9 months but, especially in the past 7 weeks and it calls me to comfort others.

It has been so hard this week to relive Sophie’s death and the days after as I try to comfort my friend but, having friends that walked this road before me was such a blessing, I can’t sit by and not try to help another mom. Because of my tragedy it has given me a greater sense of oneness with others who experience tragedy in any form but, especially in the loss of their child. Granted, it’s only been 7 weeks and I am definitely not ‘doing grief right’ every day but, I can feel for them in a very unique way that most if not all of their friends just cannot feel. (PS-Just to clarify there is no right or wrong way to do grief.)

Yesterday, there was a light shining on this dark and rainy week in the form of another of our friends. Abigail went back to the hospital for a post-op check up after her lung biopsy last Thursday. They were absolutely SHOCKED to find out that she is NED (no evidence of disease) and was receiving her LAST CHEMO EVER yesterday! Our sweet friends were floored! Not only is their baby cancer free but, she is finishing treatment only 6 months in…way sooner than they ever anticipated! My heart was completely bursting with joy for them! I wanted to get in the car and drive to Dallas and jump up and down and cry with them! I still might just show up at their house for my own impromptu party so, Jessica get ready ha! My immediate response was oh Thank you Father for this gift but then, again, the selfishness reared its ugly head with jealousy in the midst of my joy. SO incredibly thrilled for my friends but, so very jealous of their good news and so sad that we didn’t have the same outcome. But how sweet of the Lord to remind me that even in the middle of a hard week, He’s still so good and grief is not all there is for me. The light of my friends’ joy gets to shine into my darkness and speak life to me. How good He is to give me a friend that I can be completely honest with and say-I’m truly happy for you but so jealous and for her to say-in my joy I thought of you too. How GOOD He is to provide this kind of friendship for both of us to be so fully engrossed in our own different situations but also so aware of the other person too. It’s just incredible to me that I’d never have met these amazing people if it wasn’t for cancer. Good things can come even here.

That’s the Gospel at work. Creating beauty from ashes and shining light in the darkness. Finding hope where there seemingly is none and realizing that suffering isn’t forever. God doesn’t enjoy the suffering of His creation, nor does He cause that suffering. Our God heals (Jeremiah 30:17). He walks with us through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23). Even in eternity He wears the scars of Jesus’ suffering as a constant reminder that our suffering matters to Him. God did not cause it, but God will ultimately heal it. He calls us in so many different places in the Bible to FEAR NOT.

Now, all of that doesn’t answer the lingering question that’s on my heart after a roller coaster week like this one…Why do some kids have amazing outcomes and others (like mine) don’t? It’s a natural question that I’m sure every single person is thinking that’s reading this. I don’t have the answer but, I have the divine peace that helps me say… I’m ok not knowing. It doesn’t make my grief easier, it doesn’t bring Sophie or Kaylynn or any of the other lost ones back. It doesn’t cure cancer or make any of this make sense. But there’s comfort in eternity, there’s light in the darkness, there’s healing….. on earth as it is in heaven.

Please be praying for:

1. Kaylynn’s family as they celebrate her life this weekend and start the journey that no one wants to take.

2. Praise the Lord for the healing of Abigail and pray for continued health for her as she recovers and goes on to what’s next.

3. Continuing praying for Jase and Addie as they both are still inpatient at Children’s waiting for their immune systems to bounce back.

4. Pray for us as we grieve with Kaylynn’s family while a,so celebrating with other families. Pray that we can navigate ALL of the emotions that come with that.

5. Pray for our weekly counseling sessions that we started this week. We are hopeful that we will be able to talk through our grief and grow closer to each other.

Thanks friends.

6 weeks

Today my heart is heavy. It has been 6 weeks since my sweet one went to Jesus. Today is also International Childhood Cancer Day. Today ALSO happens to be the day that I will step back into the halls of Children’s Medical for the first time since I left my baby there 6 weeks ago. Today is heavy but, today also has purpose.

When we were at the hospital, I was very hesitant to make friends. While I know having a strong network of other cancer families is very important, it’s also incredibly hard to take on the grief and worry of other people while you’re right in the middle of fighting for your own child’s life. At least, that’s how it was for me. I didn’t really put myself out there to make friends because it just felt like too much. Too much worry, too manny tears, and just…too much CANCER! Sure, I followed the Children’s Cancer Family Page on Facebook, knew several names and faces, even had some good conversations but, as far as like exchanging numbers and becoming true friends…I just couldn’t do it. Self protection I guess.

The Lord knew better for me though because 5 weeks into our treatment another Tyler family was hit with Leukemia in their 4 year old son, Jase. They were at the hospital with nothing and I knew that feeling all too well so I went yo Walgreens, made a care bag, and left it at the nurse’s desk for them with my phone number. Shauna, Jase’s mom text me that night and my first real cancer friendship was born. They visited us every week when they came for chemo and I just love them so.

6 days later, Sophie’s best friend from church, Addie Leigh and her precious mom Tami showed up with Leukemia as well. Tami and I were pregnant together and friends from church so obviously, God sent us both to Children’s for each other. We also are pretty similar to each other which is great! She has been invaluable to me and I’m so thankful for our growing friendship in the midst of the horrible.

In August, when Sophie relapsed, we sat in the ICU waiting room while she was sedated and intubated. I see a guy walk in with like 23 children! Ok-it was like 8 but it seemed like a ton to my tired brain. I hear his children asking ‘How can mom nurse the baby if the baby can’t go back in the icu room?!’ They were seriously distraught. I immediately interjected-sorry to eavesdrop but you guys need a Ronald McDonald room ASAP!-We quickly found out Dustin and Jessica were the parents of Abigail who had just had her kidney removed with a Whilm’s tumor. They were beginning their cancer journey right there where we did-in ICU. We’ve since formed the most incredible friendship with them!

Then lastly, my sweet friend Lindsey. I had seen her daughter Kaylynn for months but never reached out to them-self protection remember? Then in October (I think), I read on the Children’s page that Kaylynn was considered terminal and my heart just broke. The Lord was telling me to befriend her mom, there’s no other way to describe it. I felt this unexplainable pull to her. So I messaged her on Facebook and we ended up meeting in the hallway and sitting in a side sitting room on the 6th floor for an hour one day while both of our girls slept. I know now, we were meant to walk the ‘terminal’ road together.

These friends of mine mean more to me than I could ever tell them. I pray for their babies every morning and at night when I can’t sleep. I tell Soph about them when I visit her at the cemetery and I ask her to help them be brave like her. I will admit that I some days have a hard time texting them because….well….their kids are still here. But what’s so great about these friends is that-I know they understand and they love me still. I know they pray for me because they tell me every time they do. I HATE the circumstances that formed these friendships but oh how thankful I am for them.

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Today. 6 weeks after losing Sophie, I will walk down those halls to see ALL FOUR of my friends. They are ALL at the hospital right now. The halls are still full. Cancer doesn’t change and it doesn’t stop. I’m dreading the walk up the skybridge and the ride up that stupid talking Train elevator. But at the same time, I’m SO looking forward to hugging my friends and THE NURSES!!!!!!! Oh I can’t wait to hug me some nurses!!!

I am a purpose driven person. Give me a task and I can make it work. So today, I have a purpose. Today I will hug my friends, pray for their children, bring them food, and bring goodies to make them all smile and feel a little less like cancer. I wish I could do more but, people did SO much for us that I’m so blessed to be able to do anything for my friends.

Today, I ask you to pray for us and for our friends.

1. Pray for Jonathan and I as we walk those halls and hug those necks. Just pray for us.

2. Pray for Abigail. Her surgery is today to remove 2 nodules from her lungs and test them for cancer. This is HUGE for the remainder of her treatment. Pray that she recovers well and is CANCER FREE!!

3. Pray for Addie Leigh. Addie has been inpatient for over 2 weeks now with fever, no immune system, nerve pain, and viruses. Pray big that she will bounce back and be able to go home soon! Pray that PT will work miraculously for her legs and feet!

4. Pray for Jase. He was admitted yesterday for fever, RSV, and 2 viruses. He also has ZERO immune system. Pray that antibiotics will kick these problems and pray protection over him.

5. Pray for Kaylynn. While she is considered terminal, she is getting palliative chemo to give her time with her mama. Pray for a miracle to save Kaylynn but also pray that she feels good and can make the most of her time with her family.

6. Finally, I ask you to pray about how you can help kids like this. Do some research into organizations that fund research for better chemo and cures!

I know its a lot to pray for but, there’s a lot of kids….and a lot of cancer. They deserve so much more. God is still good and He’s still bigger. He’s big enough for this and so much more.

#AbigailtheWarriorPrincess #AddiesArmy #HulkStrong #PrayingforKaylynn #DoMoreForSoph

H.O.P.E.

I don’t know the date most of the time these days. Each day just comes and goes like the day before. I try to stay so busy that I don’t have time to think. Today, though, it’s impossible to not know the date. Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. The day that we show the ones we love most that we care. Now, Jonathan and I have never really done the big Valentine’s Day thing. We have never needed a certain day to show that we care-we usually just use it as a much needed date night at our favorite place, Mario’s. Tomorrow, we will still go on our date but, there won’t be a little brown eyed girl to go home to. I won’t have my favorite little Valentine to kiss and cuddle. It’s just one more reminder of what we don’t have anymore. Her absence is felt everyday but, certain days and things bring it up more.

We are just sad. There’s not really a redemptive way to sugar coat it. She’s gone and we feel the hole she’s left behind. Some days are worse than others but, we miss her. It’s that simple, and yet so very complicated.

I’ve been staying super busy trying to cope.

There’s been lunches with friends and I’ve started working out with a trainer. I’m in a women’s Bible study group that I’m truly enjoying. It’s a deep study about the life of Jesus that makes my brain tired but, my heart full. I also was given the most amazing devotional and several grief books that are all very helpful. I’ve been writing a ton that’s been incredibly therapeutic for me. I’ve even submitted a few of my articles to paid blog sites and will hopefully be getting to share those soon! I’m also continuing to pursue working on a possible speaking ministry. At the same time that keeping busy is good, it also can be too much. I’ve had a couple of days where I’ve been just tired. Tired of having to stay busy, tired of holding it together, and mainly tired of being without my baby. So there’s pros and cons to everything. Staying busy makes you tired but, doing nothing makes you sit around and cry. I think there’s a healthy balance to be found but, that looks different every single day.

Someone once told me that their heart was so broken but also so full. That’s how I feel, full of the promise of what’s to come but, broken by the world taking my sweet girl.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

In all of these things though, I still find hope. And right now hope looks like H.O.P.E-Helping Other People Everyday

Jesus calls us to be servants to others, to put ourselves last no matter what. We are to make use of our time and money for the good of others and for the good of the kingdom. That can look like all kinds of things. Personally, I’ve found lately that helping my sweet cancer mom friends brings me so much peace. If that means bringing food, babysitting a child while they’re in the hospital, sending them a devotional, or just sending a text that says ‘I love you and I prayed for you today.’ None of those things are huge but, they speak volumes to my friends.

I’m still trying to think of ways to DO MORE and I think I have a pretty good idea of a few things that we can do starting with taking toys to the hospital on Sophie’s birthday in March. I’m hoping that the Lord will show us where to go after that. We want to be used to help the many kids and families affected by cancer. Doing nothing is not an option now that we know just how big the world is.

Here’s a list of a few ways that people are doing more that have been shared with me:

-joining the bone marrow registry Be The Match

-give blood

-cancer survivors becoming volunteer patient liaisons for people currently battling cancer

-sponsoring a child through an organization. We currently sponsor a child from Compassion International. I know there are a ton of great organizations out there but, we have personal experience with Compassion and know it’s a legit and wonderful way to give back.

-Children’s Hospitals need volunteers in all kinds of areas. Contact your local hospital to find out what you can do.

-pay for someone’s meal or coffee

-Take a meal or an encouraging gift to a family that’s suffering or just to a tired mom

-volunteer somewhere-anywhere that needs it! Homeless shelters, nursing homes, at your church, etc.

-give financially to childhood cancer research. Gold Network of East Texas, Alex’s Lemonaide Stand, and St. Baldrick’s are all great organizations determined to fund research for BETTER TREATMENT FOR OUR KIDS

The list could go on an on…..I’m open to suggestions too!

These things are all small and simple but, if enough people are determined to do more, then the impact becomes huge.

H.O.P.E. doesn’t just bring hope to the people you are serving. It speaks hope and life into your life. We are closest to God when we serve His people. Luke 6:38 says “give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

We still could use as many prayers as possible to get through each day without her. We still are struggling with what’s next and how to cope with this grief. Thank you to every prayer, card, donations, meal, and message that we’ve received. You have no idea how loved we feel by those around us and how humbled we are by Sophie’s impact.

Please also keep praying for our sweet friends. Addie, Jase, Abigail, Audri, and Kaylynn. 💜🎗

Keep her hope alive by sharing H.O.P.E.

Helping Other People Everyday

Month One

It’s been one month. One month since I saw her eyes, watched her breathe, and held her on my chest. One month since I changed a diaper, gave a bath, and rubbed lotion on soft pale skin. One month of trying to stay so busy that I don’t have time to think. One month of going through the day only to see her face when I try to sleep. One month of sitting by a graveside, burying my face into blankets and clothes trying to find a smell, begging God to take the terrible memories away and make the good ones more vivid. One month of aching arms and broken hearts.

But at the same time…

It’s been one month of getting loved on by more people that I can name. One month of gift bags, movie nights, dinners, lunches, hugs, and sweet messages. One month of hearing countless stories of how Sophie has and is still changing lives. One month of growing closer to my husband and my God because there’s no one else to turn to. One month of longing to be ‘Mom’ and friends saying here’s my baby to love on you. One month of being in a place where I’m forced to sit and BE STILL and know that He is God. One month of being COMPLETELY SURE that there HAS to be a Big God with a big Plan otherwise, how have I made it a month? That’s nothing short of a miracle in itself. We get up each day, still sad, yet determined to live a life worth more. We are living a life that’s broken and the only thing that can hold it together is Jesus.

You know, I’ve been kind of dreading today. February 4th. One month since she left us. But, I woke up this morning at complete peace. I woke up with the sweetest thought in my heart, Shelby, you aren’t one month further from her but, you’re one month CLOSER to an eternity with her and with Jesus.that has given me such peace today, even joy almost.while there’s no joy in losing your child….I’d never try to be fake and say that….there is joy picturing her healed and whole, running and dancing and watching us. There’s joy knowing that she’d be so sad if we just curled up and didn’t do more with our lives.

So where does that leave me? Where does that leave Sophie the Brave, this blog, and her legacy? The full answer is…..I have no idea. The short answer is, I’ve been MIA for a few weeks trying to wrap my mind around those questions. What’s next? Where do I go from here? How do I make my life about more?

So that’s what I’m exploring. I’ve been super inspired lately and am working on several different posts/articles. I’m working on a public speaking course and putting some serious time into studying my God’s Word and reaffirming in my heart that even though I am shattered and I still don’t understand why her…He is STILL BIGGER. Jonathan and I are figuring out how our marriage looks in this new light and we are looking for ways to DO MORE FOR SOPH.

How can you help?

1. Keep following our journey. I wanted this blog to be about more than Sophie and more than my journey as her mom it, about Jesus shining through all of it. And I’d love for you all to continue to follow me through this.

2. Please keep praying for us and our families and praying for what’s next for us all. Just because we have faith in the bigger picture, it doesn’t make the current picture hurt any less….like I said, I spend a lot of time with my face buried in her suitcase of hospital clothes. All the positivity in the world doesn’t change the broken hearts.

3. Pray for my speaking ministry course…..nothing may come of it but, it’s got me excited about writing and wanting opportunities to share what God is putting on my heart.

4. Keep looking for ways to DO MORE FOR SOPH and please share stories with us! It gives our hearts such joy knowing someone is doing something bigger just because Sophie inspired them.

Stay tuned for what’s to come because it just feels like the Lord has us right where He needs us.