Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Gracie’s Due Date

Saturday, April 24, 2010, was Gracie’s due date. So many hopes, dreams, desires, and yet done of those things did we have, or no, that’s not right. We do have them, but they are just so very different than what we thought they would be.

Every pregnant person is a reminder that I am not. Every little infant is a reminder of just how empty my arms are. My guest room should be full of pink and purple, ribbons and bows, teddy bears and baby dolls. I should be up half the night feeding and rocking an infant. I should have beautiful pictures of her with her Daddy, with her brother, with me. Singing lullabies and giving whisper soft kisses. But, I’m not. And that is hard.

The last few weeks have been almost unbearable. Moving towards this day, her day, has shaken me so deeply. I have been horribly emotional, hard to deal with, weepy, mad, sad, frustrated, tired. I just knew that Saturday would be an absolutely horrible day. I had tried to prepare myself for it. But I knew it would be bad.

And yet, it wasn’t. Even in the midst of all that I felt, thought, did, GOD was and is always right there with me. He never left my side. He is holding my hand and pulling me up, out of my grief, to find the joy and peace that I desire. Let me tell you the story of our weekend…

First, I would like to tell you about some very good friends of mine. Some new and some old. First, my very best friend Karen. She can sense my feelings and thoughts better than I can myself sometimes. On Thursday of last week, she brought me the most beautiful arrangement of flowers. They are the most beautiful shades of pink and purple, with a beautiful purple ribbon, and three butterflies stuck into the arrangement. IMG_0432Butterflies for rebirth and life and hope and happiness. The flowers are beautiful, but the love and friendship that comes with them are so much more, so very much more. The really funny part of it is, Mark, Jonathan, and I had gone to Hobby Lobby the previous Saturday to buy silk flowers to make an arrangement for Gracie’s vase. What did I buy? Pink, purple, and white flowers, with silver accents. Also, two beautiful butterfly stakes to put in the ground next to her marker. So, it made the real flower arrangement that much more special. Like it was my own version to have to remember her. I thank God for Karen and her family. They are just wonderful, wonderful friends.

The next group of friends would be from our church. The Lord truly led us to Immanuel Baptist, and we have made so many wonderful friends here. They have been with us, prayed with us, and helped us so much in the past seven years, but most especially with all of Jonathan’s medical problems, and now with the death of our Gracie. So many people have prayed for our family. Do you know that feeling when prayer becomes palpable, it is so strong? I know what that feels like, and let me tell you, it is awesome. It is God. It changes everything. Our Sunday School class has held us up so much. Fellowships, prayers, and again, much love. I have also started a new Bible Study class, and so many of those ladies have been praying for us as well.

On Friday, as I am about to leave, flowers appear on my desk. The beautiful and wonderful ladies that I work with had gone in together and made a donation to the March of Dimes in honor of my sweet baby girl. They had also brought a bouquet of bright hot pink daisies. They are happy flowers, not sad flowers. DSC_0215Remembering her life and how much she is loved. And I’m crying typing this, that they cared enough to remember her and me and my family and my baby. It is just overwhelming and I will be forever grateful that the good Lord has provided me with the ability to help others’ little ones, but also that He has given me such Godly and kind friends to do it with. One thing I have always said, is that I wanted flowers when I delivered my baby. It just didn’t happen with Jonathan and everything else that happened that day. And Mark brought me beautiful, beautiful flowers when Gracie was born, but they were still a  little bittersweet. Knowing this, they brought me flowers. Happy flowers. Thank you. Thank you for knowing me so well, thank you for your gift, thank you for your friendship.

There is another friend, a new friend, who God has also sent my way. The funny thing is, I have never met her! She is a member of the Holy Sews group that I talked about in my last post. She saw my facebook post on the group’s page and sent me a message. She, too, lost her twins at 19 weeks. I feel like I have found a kindred spirit in this journey of loss. As much as I hate that we have this in common, it is so nice to talk to someone who has been there, who understands, who knows the hurts, the loss, the pain, and the joy. Hard to explain unless you’ve been there, but trust me, it is nice. I am hopeful to attend the next work day for the group, and finally meet her. In the mean time, I’ll just thank God for her and the wonderful help she has been to me.

Thank you also to all of our friends and family who remembered us on this day. I thank God for you and that you are a part of our lives.

So, on to Saturday. There was so much going on this weekend, but we decided to just be gentle with ourselves and lay low. The one planned activity we had was the March of Dimes walk here in Little Rock. IMG_0484 Registration was at 9am and the walk was scheduled to begin at 10am. We didn’t know much about it, but it seemed like a great way to remember our little girl. We all wore our Discovery Space Shuttle t-shirts that Mark had brought home from the launch. Nothing really to do with Gracie or babies, but we matched, and we decided we were “blasting off” for her and for a happier tomorrow. I had also made bright and happy pink ribbons with “For Gracie” on them to wear on our shirts. We got there about 9:15 and it was sprinkling on and off. We had brought rain jackets so we didn’t care. They had a ton of sponsors and booths set up. IMG_0497There was a pink fire truck (breast cancer awareness) and a fire house where they used a smoke machine to teach kids about fire safety. Also, each of the NICU’s in town had a booth for a chance to reunite with the graduates. We saw a lady from church and she asked us what hospital we were at. My answer: St. Vincent’s, Baptist, and Arkansas Children’s. She didn’t quite know what to think about that answer, but Mark and I got a kick out of it. Jonathan colored a handkerchief at the St. Vincent’s booth and talked a little to the ladies there. Then, at about 9:30 or so, the floodgates of Heaven opened, and it began POURING! Normally, IMG_0504my response would have been to get angry that our plans were being ruined, that things were not going like I wanted them to. But, I didn’t. God was in control. The rain was beautiful. (I don’t think everyone thought so, but I did). We stood under the tent, and smiled, and laughed, and just enjoyed being together. They had to cancel the walk, tents were blowing over, people were running for their cars, but we just stood there. Smiled, laughed, and loved on our Jonathan.

Mark finally took a break in the storm and went for the Jeep. He pulled up to the tents and we got Jonathan loaded in. We decided to go have brunch at Denny’s. IMG_0527Of course, by the time we got there, it had stopped raining. The day turned out beautiful. Perfect weather and just a beautiful sky. We had such a nice time eating together, acting silly, just being a family. Jonathan found a new friend at the table next to us, and just talked and talked to this little boy.

We then went to get Mark and hair cut, to Sear’s for some parts Mark needed for his fence project, and then home for a nap. I made cupcakes while Jonathan napped, and he helped me ice and decorate them when he woke up.

We went out to Gracie’s Garden that afternoon. We brought the DSC_0224flower arrangement that I had made and some soft blocks that were Jonathan’s gift to Gracie. We also took our cupcakes for a little party. It was so nice and peaceful to just sit there, talk a little, laugh a little, and remember her while enjoying a cupcake. We also met a couple who were there remembering her DSC_0228little brother who had died 15 years ago in utero. Sweet people. We shared cupcakes with them and a little of our story. Hopefully shared a little of God’s love too. Thank goodness I always plan for more when it comes to desserts (and Mark!) and had brought extras out there with us.

The funniest part of the entire day came as Mark was cleaning up from the cupcakes. There is a trash can near the pond that is very close to Gracie. Mark walked over to throw our trash away. He said that when he got close to the can, he heard a hissing sound. Stopped and then realized it was a Momma goose sitting on a nest on the other side of the can. He quickly threw the trash in and started moving away from her. About that time, the Daddy goose DSC_0233-1dive-bombed Mark! I hear him yell and turn around to see him running back towards us. It was hilarious. Poor Momma goose, I’m sure Mark scared her to death, but the Daddy goose scared Mark! Jonathan fed the rest of his cupcake to the ducks and Daddy goose and had a great time throwing sticks into the water. I think he could do that for hours honestly!

We left there and went to Samurai Steakhouse and Hibachi for dinner. It is one of my favorite restaurants and just a fun atmosphere and show. We ordered Jonathan a meal for the first time, and he took it out! He absolutely loved the soup, ate a ton of fried rice, both of his shrimp, and some of his steak. It was so fun to watch him trying so hard to use his chopsticks too. He wasn’t half bad at it either. We met this wonderful family at the restaurant as well. It was a Daddy with his three kids (Mom was out of town at a church retreat). The middle child was a little girl and she was sitting next to me. Let’s just say she was a talker. She kept me entertained the entire meal. I don’t think I got much of a word in, and we all know I can talk! Her Daddy kept apologizing, but it wasn’t bothering us. We had a blast. Jonathan was having fun talking to them as well. He eventually got up and they were playing while everyone was paying the check.

I looked at Mark at the restaurant and smiled. I looked at Jonathan and I smiled again. I told Mark that I thought this day would be horrible, but it honestly was not. It was nice. I was happy. I had a wonderful time being with the two of them and just spending time together. Mark agreed that he had had a very nice day as well.

I know that the reason we had such a nice day was because of God. He heard our prayers, he knew how much we were hurting. Each prayer and thought that someone had for us, for our family, for our baby, God was there. God heard each one. He was with us the entire day, smiling through the rain, laughing at the goose, enjoying the dinner. I was so amazed and so utterly thankful.

God has never left us. He never will. He is right here with us. And Gracie is ok. She is in Heaven with Jesus. Dancing and singing songs, learning all the Bible stories first hand. Safe. Happy. Whole and complete with the Lord. Forever and ever. And that is a wonderful thought and truth.


Jeremiah 29: 11-14 (NIV)                                                                               11For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.

I Corinthians 13: 4-8, 13 (NIV)                                                            4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8Love never fails. 13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

II Corinthians 12: 7-10 (NIV)    From Paul                                      7….there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.


These verses just seem to  speak to me right now so I thought I would share. None are really talking about our situation, but they are still applicable I think. Not to say that I am perfect in any of these things. But God has given me this word, His word, to read, to study, to learn from, to strive for. And thank you Lord for that.

One last song to leave you with. This is the new Brandon Heath song, Love Never Fails. If you made it this far with me, I hope you will listen to it and really hear the words. What a beautiful image this brings to my mind. So much love, God given love.

Love, thanks, and prayers to you all. Thank you for being a part of our family. Thank you for remembering our little girl. Thank you for allowing God to use you to bless my family.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Memorials for Gracie Lynne

As we are approaching Gracie’s due date, April 24th, certain things are just at the forefront of my mind. We miss her so very, very much and we are just at a loss sometimes of what to do or where to go, or how to find our way there. We are just in constant prayer for peace and understanding and for joy. Things have been better, but moving towards this date, this day that was supposed to be so happy, but now isn’t, is very hard.

There are a few things though that I just wanted to share with everyone. God is, was, and always will be with us. I know this, and even when I couldn’t find Him, He was there. There are a couple of organizations that I would like to share with everyone that God used to help us.

When we were at Baptist Hospital delivering Gracie, they had a cart that had been paid for and donated by another family who had experienced the loss of a child. This cart was full of information on memorializing your child, dealing with grief, etc. It also had stuff to make mementos of your child. Let me just tell you that having ANYTHING, no matter how small, to remember your child by is HUGE, …no… it is everything. The wonderful Labor and Delivery nurses that we had took such good care of us and they also were so helpful in making these wonderful things for us. The very best thing was a plaster molding of Gracie’s foot. It is the most perfect thing you have ever seen and such a tangible reminder of her for always. You can see each tiny toe and definition of her foot. DSC_0293They also made a tiny bracelet with her name on it. Every little girl needs some jewelry and hers is very special. The last nurse we had, Nicky, was so kind. Her Mom had crocheted blankets and hats for babies, and she presented us with a beautiful little blanket, hat, and small teddy bear. We also were given a little box to put these mementos into. The cart also had a digital camera. The nurses worked so very hard to capture some beautiful pictures for us of our little girl. They burned the pictures onto a cd for us. We want to say a big thank you to Suzie, Vicki, and Nicky, our nurses at Baptist. They truly were God sent. Also, for the care the hospital gave us in providing us a quiet room away from all the noise that accompanies this floor. And, for Dr. Hubach. She has been with us through each baby, and we could not ask for a better OBGYN. DSC_0280

The other thing we were given in the hospital was a full layette by the Holy Sews group. This group of ladies makes clothing and blankets for extremely premature babies who do not survive. Let me just tell you that it was so wonderful and just so needed. She was so very tiny, and all the clothes that I had bought ahead of time were never going to work. But what they had made was perfect. They had made a beautiful little dress with matching hat and a matching blanket. They also had given her a teddy bear. This is what we buried her in. I don’t know what we would have done without this gift. It was just perfect, she was perfect. We are so blessed to have been given these gifts for our child and for our hearts. The Holy Sews group has a facebook page under the Causes tab and I have recently been in touch with two of the ladies. They seem like such wonderful people who have unfortunately been brought together by this tragedy in their lives. They are already a blessing to me and I am hoping to get to know them better. They provide layettes to hospitals across the state of Arkansas, and get together once a month for a work day. I’m hoping one day I will feel like joining them and helping others as they have helped me.


These are two wonderful and worthwhile organizations that have done so very much for my family. I wanted to share our story and theirs as well with you. If anyone would like more information, I have included it below.

Our Lady of the Holy Souls Catholic Church
Holy Sews    
1003 North Tyler
Little Rock, AR 72205

Baptist Health Foundation
Share Program for Perinatal Loss
c/o Colleen Woodruss - Director of Women & Children's Dept.
9601 Kanis Dr.
Little Rock, AR 72205
(501) 202-1717                                                                


   Thank you for remembering our little girl, and for praying with us and for us. We love you all.   -Jennifer, Mark, and Jonathan

Monday, April 12, 2010

Addy’s Birthday Party

Seems like this has been the Spring of birthday parties! Jonathan has been to quite a few parties lately and has had so much fun at all of them! Unfortunately, I have been out of town for a few of them, so Mark has been such a good Daddy and taken Jonathan.

IMG_0321Jonathan climbed up the rope ladder all by himself!

Luckily, I was home for Addy’s 5th Birthday party. She is such a sweet little girl and a good friend to Jonathan, even though she is two years older than him. She had her party at River City this year and it was a great place for a party. The kids all had a great time and wore themselves out playing. Isn’t that always the point of a great party?!?!  

IMG_0338 Jonathan & Addy, the Birthday Girl!

IMG_0356 Time for Cake

Birthday Tags 2010 - Page 003The Birthday Tag that I made on my Creative Memories Digital Scrapbooking Software

Happy Easter 2010

WOW! Easter was busy this year as always, and we are so blessed to have so many blessings to share and be thankful for.

The week started off with a field trip for Jonathan’s preschool class to Jump Zone in Maumelle. IMG_0196We had never been there, but it was a blast! Jonathan had a great time jumping, bouncing, and playing with his class. The kids were so worn out that they just sat still  as could be and ate their lunch. By the time they got back on the bus to go back to school, their eyes were just glazed over they were so tired! I think we will have to make some return trips there when we need to wear little man out!IMG_0200IMG_0206 IMG_0253

The real fun began on April 1st. Jonathan had the first of many Easter egg hunts at school. I was not able to go this year, but he had a great time with his friends, and one of his teachers was nice enough to take pictures for me.

We had another hunt that afternoon  at our house. Jonathan’s good friends, Katie and Megan, came over with their Mom, Karen, and we did a hunt in the back yard. The kids had a great time running all over the yard looking for eggs. Megan was the best though. She was only concerned about what was INSIDE the eggs. As soon as she found a piece of candy, she would stop, unwrap the candy, and eat it. Would not move until that piece was gone. Then she would move on to the next egg and the next piece of candy. Karen and I had a nice time sitting in the shade and watching the kids. They are such precious gifts and we are two proud Mommies.

Mark’s parents, sister, and her boyfriend came to town for the weekend. Of course, Jonathan came home from school Friday afternoon running a fever. He ran a fever and felt bad Friday night and Saturday morning. He woke up from his nap Saturday feeling much better. Never had any more symptoms, which was nice. However, was sad that he wasn’t feeling well while everyone was here.

Our church had a HUGE Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday. They hid over 5000 eggs. There were a ton of people there, but thankfully they have the field marked off into age groups so the big kids are not running over the little ones. Jonathan was not feeling  very well, but he so wanted to go, and I didn’t want him to miss out on the fun. So we went, and he did have fun. Needed a little help from his Mommy and Aunt Kim to get some eggs, but we had fun. And even bigger news, he SAT with the Easter bunny!! I was so surprised and proud. He sat with Santa, but it was a looonnngg process. The Easter bunny at the hunt was busy, so it was in, snap a few pics, and out. But he did good and seemed to be happy about it. He took a great nap when it was over.

We left carrots for the Easter bunny Saturday night. He ate ALL of them and left a basket of presents for Jonathan in it’s place. Jonathan and I didn’t get to go to church Sunday since he had been running a fever Saturday. Didn’t want to infect his entire Sunday School class! He didn’t wake up until 10:15am! Poor baby was just completely worn out. He was so excited when he finally got up and saw all of his prizes. He had an Easter Thomas the train, two Veggie Tale DVD’s, a couple of puzzles, Curious George markers, Sherriff from the Cars movie, and just a few small chocolate bunnies in his basket. Of course, Grandma had gotten him a basket FULL of chocolate as well. So he was well set on candy and prizes for the day. (Of course, this doesn’t count all the candy from school or church!)

Since he didn’t get to wear his outfit to church, I got him dressed up that afternoon to do an Easter Egg Hunt in the backyard. Unfortunately though, he was not really into it. He found a few and then just wanted us to hold him while we went after the eggs for him. He was still just not quite himself. Mark and I ended up hunting the eggs, but we did get a couple of good shots of him in his outfit.

We also read the story of Easter out of the Bible and tried to explain it to Jonathan in terms a three year old would understand. Not sure he really understood, but we’ll keep trying. The Veggie Tale Easter video was good though, and he seemed to really like it. (I did too for that matter!)

Mark’s Mom did not have to work on Monday, so she stayed Sunday night with us which was fun. Mark and his Dad had left to go to Florida (another blog post) and Kim and Mike had left to go home to work Monday.

So all in all, a great weekend and lots of fun for all. Thank you Lord for our many blessings and for the gift of Jesus dying on the cross to save us from our sins. Thank you for the HOPE that is Jesus.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Added more picutres to the March and April 2010 folders on Jonathan's picture website. Waayy too many to post on here, so feel free to look there if you want to see more of him and all the fun and crazy stuff we've been up to lately! Lots more pictures from Wye Mountain as well. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Wye Mountain Daffodil Festival

My Mom was here for the week of Spring Break. She and Jonathan had such a wonderful time. She had planned to leave Friday afternoon. Mark was off on Friday, so we decided to do a fun outing before she left.

We drove up to Wye Mountain for the Daffodil Festival. It was beautiful as usual and we all had a really fun time. Jonathan was glad to show his MaMa Deb all the flowers and to enjoy time with her. I had brought Jonathan's Easter basket for him to take pictures with. But, we decided to do a little Easter egg hunt as well. It was so much fun and he had a blast hunting eggs over and over and over! We even found an egg that someone else must have left out there, so we came home with an extra one!

We took a million (and one) pictures of course. Not all of them turned out so well, but they'll do. We REALLY need to learn how to use our camera better (and apply the stuff that we do know).

Anyway, enough talking...enjoy the pictures!

Mommy and her Sweet Baby Boy
MaMa Deb, Mommy, and Jonathan
MaMa Deb is about to steal some kisses!
MaMa Deb and Jonathan checking out the flowers
Daddy & Jonathan Checking out the Easter eggs
The Thomas Family
So much fun for us to be together. We missed you Grandad!
Mommy and HER Mommy!
Peek-a-boo, I see you!
Hunting Easter eggs!
Look at that face, how could you NOT love him?!?!