and if not...

And if not, He is still good. This has been the phrase I repeat to myself over and over again to remember God's goodness, because to be honest, I don't really feel it most of the time. Just saying those words brings me to tears because I feel such disappointment from God, yet I know that he loves me and cares about the state of my heart. To this day, I honestly can't believe Owen isn't here. I really can't. It takes my breath away. During his life, I was certain God would heal him, and that so many people would be drawn to the Lord because of it. But that wasn't the plan. We experienced the "and if not" to our biggest hope and prayer. Even if I don't feel that God is still good all the time, I know that he is. I'm thankful for his goodness.

I wanted a reminder of this truth displayed in my house, so I asked my friend Becca to make some sort of sketchy doodle so I could hang it on my wall. She had the idea to use a photo with words over it, and I loved that idea. I thought a picture of The Bald where Owen's ashes are spread would be the perfect photo to use. Originally, we thought we'd use a sunny picture with a view of the mountains, but Becca played around with this picture of The Bald that I took on Christmas day, and I think it's perfect.

There's something about the grey and coldness of this picture that speaks to me. It's powerful. It reminds me of the truth I long to feel in this cold, dark season. It gives me hope. I can't wait to hang it on my wall. 

Becca has these prints for sale in her shop *here*. She is donating all the profits to the Sibley Heart Center.

New Year

2014 was the happiest year of my life. Brian and I met the love of our lives, our precious baby boy. For several hours, we were bursting with more joy than ever before. Our son was in our arms, looking into our eyes, and he was perfect. For forty-three precious days we got to hold his hands, stroke his head, give him kisses, read to him, talk to him, pray for him, and watch him. I have mixed feelings about 2014 being over. While you may look at our year and think it was the worst year of our lives, I'm actually sad it's over. I hate that those moments filled with Owen are over. Starting a new year really doesn't change anything. The pain doesn't just go away. It will always be here. You don't just move on after losing your child, you have to figure out how to cope so that you can continue to live! I've never relied more on the Lord in my life that I have in 2014. I often ask him to help me to do simple things that I feel are impossible. I's such a relief to know that  I'm not alone and that I don't have to rely solely on my own strength because if that were the case, I'd crawl into a hole for the rest of my life.

Last year we had dreams for what 2014 would be. We dreamed of meeting our son, bringing him home, watching him grow, and being parents. We had no idea we would hit our highest high and our lowest low in the same year. I have dreams for 2015, but my heart is scared to dream them. It has been shattered to pieces and hasn't been put back together completely. Some days it feels more broken than others.

I miss the happiness and innocence I used to feel, and I know that I will never be the same. This has been so discouraging to me until a dear friend who has also experienced great loss pointed out that it's actually a good thing. She told me to watch for the good because it is coming. She asked if I believe her when she says that suffering brings precious gems. Tears flowed as I read her words. I found such hope in them. I do believe her, only because she has gone through it before. I honestly can't see how that's possible right now, but I believe her. I do. 

Today grief hit strong. It knocked me to my knees and the ache felt almost as fresh as the day Owen died. I went back to the sermon my uncle Vann preached at Owen's funeral. He used the story from John 11 when Mary and Martha asked Jesus to heal their brother Lazarus. John 11:6, "So, when He heard that Lazarus was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was." Vann talks about how the word "so" is interesting. Jesus could have gone immediately to Lazarus and healed him, but he didn't. He waited until he died because he wanted Mary and Martha to know Him more than a healer. Vann presented a question in his sermon and asked, "How is Owen's death going to impact you? What difference is it going to make in your life? What is your "so" going to be? It could be that God gives you a heart for a particular ministry. It could be that you grow in your faith. It could be what causes you to come to Christ." 

My "so" is lots of things already, and I believe it will be more. I want that to be my focus in this new year.