Sweet Eva: Miracles on Earth and in Heaven

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On this last day of Anencephaly Awareness month, we wanted to share the story of sweet Eva. Sufficient Grace Ministries Comfort Doula Kelly Gerken and SGM Remembrance Photographers: Erin Foster (maternity) and Kristi Bodey, along with the teams from Life Connection and Purposeful Gift had the privilege of walking with this family through their time waiting to meet their beautiful baby girl. Eva is so loved. She defied many of the odds, living much longer than expected…a life filled with miracles…even though it was brief. She was able to donate organs for research, as described in her mother’s brave and beautiful words below. Parents, Katie and David, were surrounded with the love and support of their family and friends, their support team, and covered in so many prayers…every step of the way. Sufficient Grace Ministries was honored to attend appointments with this family, helping with the planning process.

One of my favorite memories with Eva and her family occurred during the last moments of her life. The song Good, Good Father was playing on the computer. I sang along quietly as Eva took her last breaths while being held by her mother and father. Miraculously, her color…which had been slightly purple due to low oxygen and blood flow…changed minutes after she was taken to heaven. She was restored to a typical rosy newborn color. No one could explain Eva’s miracle. But, her family knew it was just another gift from their heavenly Father…a reassurance that she is perfect in heaven and that they would meet her again one day.

The beauty, courage, love, and faith Katie and David share shines in their eyes and in the telling of their story. It was an honor to watch them walk this path with beauty and grace…the sweetest beauty…even in the broken.

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Let me tell you about my daughter…

by Katie Yankee

Let me tell you about my daughter…

If I could tell you something about my daughter Eva I would tell you that she was a fighter. She fought the odds. She proved everyone wrong. She fought to give us almost 6 hours with her.

 

If I could tell you something about my daughter Eva I would tell you that she was strong. Just when we thought she had taken her last breath, she took another.

 

If I could tell you something about my daughter Eva, I’d tell you she was strong-willed. She was sassy.  She knew what she liked and what she didn’t like and she wasn’t afraid to let us know.

 

If I could tell you something about my daughter Eva, I’d tell you that she was beautiful. She had the most perfect little lips.  Even amongst great pain, even amongst the ashes, she brought us beauty.

 

If I could tell you something about my daughter Eva, I’d tell you that she was a miracle. Her skin lightened just seconds after she had passed into Jesus’ arms, something no doctors could explain.

 

If I could tell you something about my daughter Eva, I’d tell you that she was light in the midst of darkness. She showed us that there can be joy in the midst of great sorrow.

 

If I could tell you something about my daughter Eva, I’d tell you she was a hero. She donated 6 organs for research, to help improve the lives of others.

 

Many people said that I did something special because I chose to give Eva life even when I knew she would die. But let me tell you something about my daughter… It was Eva who gave me life. It was Eva who taught me to treasure each moment, to protect the ones you love fiercely. She taught me to fight. She taught me to be brave. She taught me to live with no regrets. She showed me that there’s a strength in me… Not because I’ve done anything special, but because He died for me.  That strength comes from Jesus.

 

Let me tell you something about my Jesus.. He holds a piece of my heart in His hands and her name is Eva.

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Don’t Cry for Me

Written by Kevin Park (Eva’s Grandpa) from the perspective of Eva Kathryn Yankee

Don’t cry for me Mommy, I am happy and blessed.. Jesus called me home and my soul is at rest.

Don’t cry for me Mommy, you and Daddy gave me life. Five hours and forty-two minutes was a miracle, and there is no strife.

Don’t cry for me Mommy, they said I would not breathe. But I breathed and I cried and I held Grandpa’s finger, and because you asked- Our Father let me linger!

Don’t cry for me Mommy, my body is perfect.  My cry used to be hoarse, but now I sing with a big voice, of course.

Don’t cry for me Mommy, I am running in a field.  My bare feet are squishy in deep heavenly clover, and then I see Jesus and He just called out to me, “Eva Kate, come on over!”

Don’t cry for me Mommy, I am sitting on Jesus’ lap.  Everyone is belly laughing because Jesus just began to rap.

Don’t cry for me Mommy, Jesus is telling me a story.  When I was in your tummy, He whispered into your ear.  He said my name means life and He helped to take away your fears.

Don’t cry for me Daddy, daily ice cream here.  Blizzards in heaven have more chocolate and whipped cream.  I know yours are good Daddy, but ours are like a dream!

Don’t cry for me Daddy, I know you would like it here.  The wine is so sweet and the deer are all running.  The does are very fast and the bucks have racks that are stunning.

Don’t cry for me Grandmas and Grandpas, I know you held me tight.  You loved me so hard and you helped me fight. Your prayers and your faith helped me see the light.

Don’t cry for me Kelly, you helped my mommy so much!  Especially your love and dedication, your faith, your smiles, and your touch.

Don’t cry for me friends and family today, because although my life was not long, our God was glorified and Mommy and Daddy’s faith was so strong.

Don’t cry for me anyone when you think of me today, for I am with my Savior and friend Jesus who said I am a keeper and he asked me to stay.  God the Father and the Holy Spirit, too, have given me the chance to laugh and play and do a heavenly dance.

There is no reason to cry and no reason to mourn, for I was so blessed since the day I was born.

My Mommy and Daddy are forever blessed for their commitment to life and our Savior- passed the test.

My life is recorded in history today!  Eva Kathryn is my name and I came to say: My life gave my Mommy and my Daddy and family a chance to profess their faith and think about the eternal dance.

Heaven is a place that you could not describe until you knew me and could see where I was going.  So don’t cry for me today, because now you know what I am knowing.  That our faith and our love of our God helps our minds to see the showing.  The angels and the cherubim are dancing and singing and I am dancing and singing too, and my dress is glowing.

I love you Mommy and Daddy.  You are so awesome and your faith is so strong.  But don’t cry for me- for I will see you again soon, I promise you it won’t be very long!

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The Second Best Thing About Heaven

 

I couldn’t sleep last night.

That hasn’t happened for a while. I tossed and turned, wondering about the cause. I didn’t have caffeine late in the day. There wasn’t anything pressing on my mind…well, anymore than usual.

Then, I remembered. It’s September. The September winds are blowing in, and even if my mind wasn’t dwelling on it, my body knew. It’s time to relive those days, the ones we do every autumn when the leaves change and the air grows crisp and cold. The excruciating days before we said goodbye to beautiful you…well, until we meet again, of course. I can’t believe it’s almost been six years.

I miss you, mom. I miss you with more missing than I ever thought possible.

Sometimes I can embrace the missing, knowing that it means I’ve loved someone dearly, someone worth missing. But, sometimes, I hate the missing. I know, nice Christian girls probably aren’t supposed to say hate. But, I do. I hate it.

I miss my baby girls for the brief time they had with me, and for all the dreams I dreamed that never came to pass. I miss my son Thomas, and the quiet wisdom I knew he held within him. I miss countless things about my babies and the dreams we had for them. But, I miss my mother’s laugh. I miss her hazel-eyed glare. I miss her smoker’s cough. I miss the way she could walk into a room, her head bald with cancer, and still capture the attention and heart of every man in the room. I miss her hands, nails bitten down to nothing, and always cold.  I miss the way she walked so fast when she shopped, she left us all breathless. I miss her telling us to get our elbows off the table, quit popping our gum, and sometimes even…stop breathing so loud. Manners were important to her. I miss standing in her kitchen…that isn’t even hers anymore. I even miss doing her endless amounts of dishes while listening to Chantilly Lace with the windows opened. I miss filling the cart with Christmas ornaments at Hills. She loved Christmas. I could fill pages with the missing.

I miss my Dinah. I miss my grandparents.

I miss the boys who once filled my kitchen and are now off having college adventures. I don’t love the way life changes and people go. I miss following Timothy on the golf course.

There are so many changes and goodbyes this side of heaven. And, surely, there is joy and adventure, as well. I don’t want to sound all taken over with the Irish melancholy. There is hope after all. We find new friends and opportunities. God takes us down paths, growing us, drawing us closer to Him. Opening new doors when others close.

But, can I just say, that I hate the missing?

The best thing about heaven, will be basking in the glory of our God, sitting, literally, at the feet of our Jesus, walking with Him, talking with Him…forever.

But, the second best thing. The second best thing, is no more missing. No more goodbyes. No more unhappy endings. No more bitterness or brokenness. No more sin, sickness, death, or sorrow. No more leaving or being left. No more things unsettled, left undone, misunderstood.

Only sweet restoration, complete and beyond what our minds can imagine. Joy unending. Love abounding.

Oh, how I long for that day…the day, when He makes all things new.

 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me,“Write, for these words are true and faithful.” ~ Revelation 21:4-5

Heaven’s Reunion ~ WWY

Thank you for joining us for this segment of Walking With You. We are talking this week about the hope of heaven and the glorious reunion that each of us long for with great hope. Most of this post was originally shared here in September of 2009 during a previous Walking With You, with a few additions to update. Next week will be our last week of this segment of WWY. We will talk about the comfort we can find in praise and thanksgiving.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
~Hebrews 12:1-2

We are living in earthly vessels, but this life is not forever. We are mothers who have said goodbye to our sweet babies, but that goodbye is not forever. We who walk with Jesus, pick up our crosses daily to follow Him as we walk this earth. Why do we do it? For the joy set before us, of course…just like our great Teacher. His joy is our salvation…the promise of restoration…the promise of eternal life with Him…the promise of the sweetest reunion. That’s where I fix my eyes when they grow too weary from looking at what this world has to offer.

There are many verses that speak of the promise we have in heaven. Unfortunately, I do not have the time this evening to look all of them up. One verse speaks of knowing one another as we are known. We will know one another when we get to heaven, just like we know each other here. Faith and Grace will probably have their long piano-player fingers and button noses. They will probably have the same dainty little lips, and I’m sure brown eyes just like their daddy and brothers. Thomas will have the same nose shared by all of our children along with the same brown eyes. He will probably have the same auburn hair that made me smile so for the short time he spent in my arms. What they will not have is a sign of the brokenness that this earth held for them. They will be complete…perfect…knowing none of earth’s sorrows. What must that be like?

One of my favorite books is called Mommy, Please Don’t Cry. It is written from the perspective of a child in heaven to his/her mommy, as he shares all of the fun things happening in heaven. I know that we cannot imagine all that He has prepared for us. But, I know that He promises to prepare a place for each of us…and it is sure to be wonderful…better than anything we could imagine or dream of.

When I think of that day, Jesus is the first person on my mind. I suppose the experience of finally beholding and standing in the presence of my Savior will probably overshadow anything else for a time. But, beyond Him I imagine they are waiting for me. It means so much to me, I can barely type the words through my tears. Truly, no words can describe the picture of my mother standing there without the pain that this life held for her, without the disappointments of this life, without the effects of cancer etched on her beautiful face. And in her arms and dancing around her feet…my babies. My little girls and my sweet, sweet boy. Full of joy overflowing…shining on their faces. For some reason I can’t explain, I see Faith and Grace as little girls instead of babies. They have long brown, wavy hair with ribbons streaming down their backs and pink dresses. They are lively and precious and full of personality. Faith is a little more reserved than Grace, just as she was in my womb. Grace is full of energy and light. They both giggle and embrace me with delight shining in their eyes. Thomas is in the arms of my mother…still a baby in my mind. A roly-poly picture of health and baby-boy sweetness. Sometimes I picture him as a baby…and sometimes a very young boy. He is a little shy and full of wisdom for one so small. In an instant, these little ones I have longed for fill my waiting arms…arms that will never again know emptiness. Every tear I’ve cried for them is dried by the hand of my Beloved Savior…every ounce of sorrow gives way to unspeakable joy that I have never fully known.

Can I describe how it may feel to hold them in my arms on that day? Can I even allow myself to think of what that may feel like? I cannot. The ache is too deep to allow myself to fully visit that notion. Recently, our teen youth group at church did a breath-taking skit to a song about heaven’s reunion (the title slips my mind right now, of course…but I will see if I can find out the name of the song.). The skit was very powerful. In the beginning, it showed a mother who lost a child and various people at funerals grieving for loved ones…mothers, wives, fathers, babies. Then, it switched to show the families reunited with their loved ones in heaven. When the little child ran to the arms of the mother, I melted into sobs into my husband’s arms and couldn’t watch anymore. It means too much to me…that promise, that hope. It is a desperate hope I place in the Lord…so desperate I couldn’t even watch the re-enactment. You see, my hope isn’t just some words on a page. It really means something when you have something at stake. Believing and hoping is easy when there isn’t anything attached. It is a different belief when you’re asked to let go and trust that He will carry not only you, but the children you hold so dear.

There will be singing and rejoicing…a celebration the likes of which I’ve never seen. I cannot imagine the beauty of worshipping with the multitudes unknown…the choirs of angels singing. Some sweet day, I’ll sing up there…the song of victory…I’ll walk the streets of gold…I’ll keep telling that old redemption story…and I will dwell forever in the place that my Lord has prepared for me, surrounded by the ones I love…the treasures waiting for me, even now.

I won’t lie to you. I have faced moments when I questioned the certainty of those promises that I cling to so desperately. I was always so certain…until I watched my dear mother suffer greatly and die after a valiant battle with cancer. She suffered in a way I didn’t know was possible. I felt the Lord’s presence when He carried Thomas home…felt His comfort in the days after we said good-bye to Faith and Grace. But, I sat beside my mother’s bed, crying out to Him, longing to see…longing to feel Him….singing of His truth…searching His Word…praying tearful prayers. Even as I reassured her, I longed for Him to reassure me. Would He really come for her like He promised? Did He really prepare a place for her…for me? I can’t explain why I wondered this…why the questions even entered my heart. Perhaps it came from looking into the face of such suffering. Perhaps it was just the fact that it meant so much to me, to know His promises were true. I had never tasted the bitterness of death so closely.

Time and time again, He has reassured me with these words…the same words He spoke to my heart and hers as her earthly life waned and we felt surrounded by the darkness of death:

Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”

Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”

Jesus said to him, ” I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” ~ John 14:1-6

For now, I will daily pick up my cross to follow Him…fixing my eyes on the joy set before me…the glorious promise of a sweet reunion with the treasures that are already laid up for us in heaven’s glory.

For now, I dream my dreams of them…until we meet again.

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Books

Heaven – Randy Alcorn

Heaven is for Real – Todd Burpo

Mommy Please Don’t Cry- Linday DeyMaz

Someday Heaven – Larry Libby

When Heaven Whispers…

Yep…I’m late to the party again. But, Franchesca’s blog hop is just too precious to resist. So, late or not…I’m joining in anyway. I love the idea of the little miracles, the ways God whispers His presence to our hearts…the ways He shows Himself specifically to us. When He does that in my life, I call it a Daddy’s little girl moment. Special gifts, sent straight from Him to me…His little girl. Holly wrote about Godwinks in her post. I love that.

There are so many moments when God has whispered His love to my heart…times when I needed it most. There are also little gifts that remind me of some of heaven’s residents most precious to me….Faith, Grace, Thomas, and my mom. I ache with missing for each of them. And, yet…there are moments when heaven doesn’t seem so far away. It seems as close as a whisper, as near as a gentle breeze caressing my cheek on a warm summer day.

With each snowfall, I remember my Faith and Grace…and the first snowfall of the season on that November day in 1996, an uncharacteristically early snow…the day I met my daughters and drank in the beauty of their tiny faces. A sight that needed to last a lifetime. I especially love the snow with big fluffy snowflakes…just like they were that day…perfect and uniquely created by God…just like like my little girls.

Thomas is in the days with crisp blue skies and big fluffy white clouds. He is in the heaven shining through. Just like the day we stood by His grave. Light shining through darkness. Every time I lift my voice to sing “Oh Lord You’re Beautiful”, I remember the beauty of his face and glory that filled the room on the day Jesus came to carry my Thomas home while I sang those words and rocked my sweet boy. It is the closest I have come to Jesus….feeling Him whisper past me that day.

Tim, the boys, and I released balloons on Thomas’ birthday in July…and the sky looked just like it did the day we placed his body to rest, twelve years ago.

This hand, holding this balloon, standing beside the grave of our babies….that’s no small miracle….

Weeks after the balloon release, Tim came in with a deflated blue balloon, our message of love still attached. He said, “Look what I found in the yard. No coincidence there, huh?” Sweet Thomas loves his mommy and daddy, too….and so does our heavenly Father. We parents who don’t get to see our little ones run and jump and live this life love to look for moments that remind us and reassure us that our babies live on in Heaven, and we will hold them again.

I miss my mom everyday. Every season reminds me of her. I love to ride my bike and feel the wind in my hair, like she did before the illnesses robbed her of strength. Every time we drive over the little hills and dips in the road she called belly getters, she is with us, smiling down on us. There are so many sweet memories that she lives in. Every time I send a Comfort Bear to a grieving mom, she is there. The day I looked up …feeling helpless with her craft stuff scattered before me, clueless as to how to put the finishing touches on the bear…shouting to the heavens that I couldn’t do this…that she should be here to do it. She was there. The day my sweet nephew Max was born and the room that he was born in just happened to be the hospital room donated in mom’s memory…with her name on the door above scripture that God whispered to our hearts as she slipped from this world to the next. She was there. She loved her grandbabies…of course, she wouldn’t miss that for the world! When I glance in the mirror, I often stop for a moment…seeing her eyes looking back at me. I have her eyes. And, I carry with me pieces of her.

I love when God whispers to our hearts that He is there. And, I love when heaven whispers to our hearts…a place so real…a place that waits for us…a place where part of our hearts will be waiting in longing until we meet again.
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Quick announcement: I just wanted to encourage any mamas who are missing their sweet babies…if you have not taken part in the Threads of Hope bible study, they will be starting another study soon at Anchored by Hope. This is a wonderful study! We covered it on Walking With You last year, and I found it to be a great encouragement.

For the Joy Set Before Us

Thank you for joining us this week for Walking With You. This group was created to offer comfort, encouragement, and hope to grieving families who have lost a child. This week, we are sharing what it will be like the day we are reunited with our precious babies in heaven. This will be the last weekly Walking With You. I have decided to make this a once a month post. It will be the first Thursday of each month. And the focus will be on encouraging one another as we walk this walk from various places. I have been thoroughly blessed to read your stories, and look forward to continuing to walk with each of you. As always, you may visit all the Walking With You posts by clicking on the Walking With You button on the sidebar.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
~Hebrews 12:1-2

We are living in earthly vessels, but this life is not forever. We are mothers who have said goodbye to our sweet babies, but that goodbye is not forever. We who walk with Jesus, pick up our crosses daily to follow Him as we walk this earth. Why do we do it? For the joy set before us, of course…just like our great Teacher. His joy is our salvation…the promise of restoration…the promise of eternal life with Him…the promise of the sweetest reunion. That’s where I fix my eyes when they grow too weary from looking at what this world has to offer.

There are many verses that speak of the promise we have in heaven. Unfortunately, I do not have the time this evening to look all of them up. One verse speaks of knowing one another as we are known. We will know one another when we get to heaven, just like we know each other here. Faith and Grace will probably have their long piano-player fingers and button noses. They will probably have the same dainty little lips, and I’m sure brown eyes just like their daddy and brothers. Thomas will have the same nose shared by all of our children along with the same brown eyes. He will probably have the same auburn hair that made me smile so for the short time he spent in my arms. What they will not have is a sign of the brokenness that this earth held for them. They will be complete…perfect…knowing none of earth’s sorrows. What must that be like?

One of my favorite books is called Mommy, Please Don’t Cry. It is written from the perspective of a child in heaven to his/her mommy, as he shares all of the fun things happening in heaven. I know that we cannot imagine all that He has prepared for us. But, I know that He promises to prepare a place for each of us…and it is sure to be wonderful…better than anything we could imagine or dream of.

When I think of that day, Jesus is the first person on my mind. I suppose the experience of finally beholding and standing in the presence of my Savior will probably overshadow anything else for a time. But, beyond Him I imagine they are waiting for me. It means so much to me, I can barely type the words through my tears. Truly, no words can describe the picture of my mother standing there without the pain that this life held for her, without the disappointments of this life, without the effects of cancer etched on her beautiful face. And in her arms and dancing around her feet…my babies. My little girls and my sweet, sweet boy. Full of joy overflowing…shining on their faces. For some reason I can’t explain, I see Faith and Grace as little girls instead of babies. They have long brown, wavy hair with ribbons streaming down their backs and pink dresses. They are lively and precious and full of personality. Faith is a little more reserved than Grace, just as she was in my womb. Grace is full of energy and light. They both giggle and embrace me with delight shining in their eyes. Thomas is in the arms of my mother…still a baby in my mind. A roly-poly picture of health and baby-boy sweetness. Sometimes I picture him as a baby…and sometimes a very young boy. He is a little shy and full of wisdom for one so small. In an instant, these little ones I have longed for fill my waiting arms…arms that will never again know emptiness. Every tear I’ve cried for them is dried by the hand of my Beloved Savior…every ounce of sorrow gives way to unspeakable joy that I have never fully known.

Can I describe how it may feel to hold them in my arms on that day? Can I even allow myself to think of what that may feel like? I cannot. The ache is too deep to allow myself to fully visit that notion. Recently, our teen youth group at church did a breath-taking skit to a song about heaven’s reunion (the title slips my mind right now, of course…but I will see if I can find out the name of the song.). The skit was very powerful. In the beginning, it showed a mother who lost a child and various people at funerals grieving for loved ones…mothers, wives, fathers, babies. Then, it switched to show the families reunited with their loved ones in heaven. When the little child ran to the arms of the mother, I melted into sobs into my husband’s arms and couldn’t watch anymore. It means too much to me…that promise, that hope. It is a desperate hope I place in the Lord…so desperate I couldn’t even watch the re-enactment. You see, my hope isn’t just some words on a page. It really means something when you have something at stake. Believing and hoping is easy when there isn’t anything attached. It is a different belief when you’re asked to let go and trust that He will carry not only you, but the children you hold so dear.

There will be singing and rejoicing…a celebration the likes of which I’ve never seen. I cannot imagine the beauty of worshipping with the multitudes unknown…the choirs of angels singing. Some sweet day, I’ll sing up there…the song of victory…I’ll walk the streets of gold…I’ll keep telling that old redemption story…and I will dwell forever in the place that my Lord has prepared for me, surrounded by the ones I love…the treasures waiting for me, even now.

I won’t lie to you. I have faced moments when I questioned the certainty of those promises that I cling to so desperately. I was always so certain…until I watched my dear mother suffer greatly and die after a valiant battle with cancer. She suffered in a way I didn’t know was possible. I felt the Lord’s presence when He carried Thomas home…felt His comfort in the days after we said good-bye to Faith and Grace. But, I sat beside my mother’s bed, crying out to Him, longing to see…longing to feel Him….singing of His truth…searching His Word…praying tearful prayers. Even as I reassured her, I longed for Him to reassure me. Would He really come for her like He promised? Did He really prepare a place for her…for me? I can’t explain why I wondered this…why the questions even entered my heart. Perhaps it came from looking into the face of such suffering. Perhaps it was just the fact that it meant so much to me, to know His promises were true. I had never tasted the bitterness of death so closely.

Time and time again, He has reassured me with these words…the same words He spoke to my heart and hers as her earthly life waned and we felt surrounded by the darkness of death:

Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”

Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”

Jesus said to him, ” I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” ~ John 14:1-6

For now, I will daily pick up my cross to follow Him…fixing my eyes on the joy set before me…the glorious promise of a sweet reunion with the treasures that are already laid up for us in heaven’s glory.

For now, I dream my dreams of them…until we meet again.

That the World May Know…

Way down under, in a land far, far away… on a white sandy beach surrounded by the bluest ocean water my eyes have never seen, the sun sets. And on that beach, their names are written. The names that the world never knew…or only knew for a short time. The names that mothers’ hearts long to hear spoken; names that are forgotten by some…never known by many. Long after the rest of the world moves on and the wounds heal and only the scars remain, the mother’s heart still remembers…still longs to hear the names. For the moments when life moves forward and time seems to have forgotten, and even the mother longs for evidence, wondering: Was it all a dream? Were they were really here? Even a whisper of remembrance…even the smallest acknowledgment that they were here, that they mattered would comfort her aching heart.

She writes the names on the sandy white beach, thousands of names, because she knows that it matters to every mother’s longing heart and every father, too. She knows that every life matters. And, even if it has been twelve years since the mother saw the face that belongs with the name, she writes in the sand, knowing that it will still touch the mother’s heart that someone knows her baby was here. Her baby had a name. Her baby lived on this Earth. Her baby lives…in Heaven’s glory.

There was a time, for many years, when I barely heard the names of my Faith, Grace, and Thomas. It was different twelve years ago…ten years ago when we lost our babies. There was no Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Organization. No perinatal hospice. No blogging. I didn’t know about a birth plan. It was different, and yet…much of it is the same. Same great sorrow, same stormy sea of grief, same sufficient grace, same Jesus to carry us as He carried our babies Home, same aching empty arms, same brokenness…driving us deeper into the Savior’s arms, same longing to hear the names of our babies spoken.

Just say their names. Please. Say their names. Faith Elizabeth Gerken, Grace Katherine Gerken, Thomas Patrick Gerken. They were here. You may have not known them, but I knew them. I knew that Faith was quiet and gentle and strong. She took the brunt of her syndrome and the brunt of her sister’s wild kicks! I knew that Grace was fiesty. She never stopped moving. She kicked and flipped and flailed around. She was our firecracker. And, I knew that Thomas seemed to have a knowing about him…a quiet wisdom. He didn’t kick, because there wasn’t room for him to move, but his eyes always seemed to look right into mine during every ultrasound, and I knew him because he was my son. Through his life I learned about sufficient grace and about believing without seeing. And, when I met him…I learned that my Jesus would never leave me alone in the fiery furnace…that He would never leave us, nor forsake us. I learned that in the darkest moment, He will come. And, when I beheld the beauty of my son’s face, it was like nothing I have ever seen.

Her name is Carly and she writes the names. Because every life matters, she writes the names. That the world may know, she writes the names…

To view their page on Carly’s beautiful memorial site, click here.

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On a completely unrelated subject, I would like to just take a minute to acknowledge a couple of awards our blog was blessed with recently.

Thank you to Jennileigh for this sweet Butterfly Award.

And, from my dear bloggy-friend, Stacy D , this Sisterhood award. I cannot say enough about the faith of this beautiful “sister”, and the blessing it has been to know her, and to walk with her as she is carried, through the great sorrow of losing her son Isaac, in the arms of our loving Savior with the most beautiful, amazing grace. Thank you Stacy.

I pass the honors on to:
Carly…because she writes the names and prays for every broken heart.

Megan at The Greatest Blessing because her courage as she clings to her Savior is inspiring. Her gift to make something beautiful out of something ordinary is being used to comfort grieving hearts. Because she is proof that He makes beauty from ashes.

Dee-Dee because she started our Tuesdays Together in the Word. And I so appreciate the blessing of every Tuesday together as we share what God is speaking to our hearts through His word. She is a woman of faith, and she has a beautiful mother’s heart.

Susie at Be Strong and Courageous because her journey is amazing. Her Joshua has blessed my heart along with millions who prayed for him, who loved him, who said good-bye to him, and who remember him, right along with her. She is precious and witty, loves Jesus, and has an amazing mother’s heart. I thoroughly enjoy visiting her blog.

Tricia at It’s All About Him for joining with us to walk through His word on our Tuesdays Together. I’m so blessed to have met her and encouraged as we share what we are learning together each week.

Of course, I love the wit and humor of the Mamas – BooMama and BigMama, and of course MckMama for making me laugh daily and blessing my heart always. And who doesn’t love Angie Smith and Lynette Kraft…and there are so many others.

I’m so grateful for this new sisterhood in blogworld! I have grown to love so many people that I have never even met. What a surprising gift. Thank you for your part in it.

White as Snow

There is a pristine blanket of untouched snow outside my window this morning. At work yesterday, I watched the snow falling outside all afternoon. It was the same kind of snow on that first snowfall of the year, twelve years ago. The same type of big, fluffy beautiful, perfect snowflakes that fell silently as my Faith and Grace were born silently. Every time it snows like that, I remember them, and receive anew the gift that they have been to my life.

As I sat in the hall noticing the snow for a moment, a co-worker said, “Beautiful, isn’t it?” I closed my eyes and saw the beauty of my girls’ faces and agreed, “Yes… beautiful….perfect.”

There’s something about snow that seems like a gift straight from heaven. It is so white and pure, so filled with possibility, so miraculous. I like to think of those I love who are in Heaven’s glory, dancing with Jesus in their perfect home full of beauty that my eyes have yet to see. They were my glimpse into what eternity holds. I was the woman blessed among women to hold them as He brushed past me to take them home. And I was there when the miracle happened each time. I was there when He took sweet Faith and Grace, so silently and sent the snowfall to blanket my storm with His perfect peace. I was there when He brushed past me so closely I could have touched the hem of His garment and He carried my Thomas from my arms to His, leaving me with songs of praise on my lips, peace in my heart, and the evidence of His sufficient grace shining in my eyes.

And I was there when my mother suffered more than I knew anyone could, as she walked through the valley of the shadow of death. This time, I felt the strength and darkness of death like never before. The ashes before the beauty. The storm before He comes. The agony and suffering. All of it wrestling to take the life of my beautiful, precious little mother. I watched death steal her life one breath at a time. I was there to hold her, to pray for her, to read His word, to sing of His promises…but I wondered if He would come. Would He come to take her home? Would He carry her like I promised? How long would He leave us here? And I was there when He came. The moment she left this earth with all of it’s sickness, sorrow, and pain to enter paradise with Her King, I was there. For each of those most dear to me who have left this earth, I have had the privilege of being there as they took their last breath here, and their first in Heaven’s glory. Thank you, Lord for that gift. Thank you, for your faithful promises.

Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow…
Isaiah 1:18

This morning, I look at the snow and feel His peace quiet me once more. The promise of His forgiveness. The hope of His promises. The new mercies that await each morning. The sufficient grace that carries us through each day. Beneath the snow, it’s muddy and brown…all the splendor and color of Spring’s new life dead for a season…like us, before we were washed clean by the blood of Jesus…dirty and dead in our sin. And He came to rescue and breathe new life into us…to cleanse us with His sacrifice and cover us in a blanket of pure white snow. May you feel His peace wash over you today, and may His promises give you hope.

Eye has not see, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.
1 Corinthians 2:9

He Came…

In a quiet church, almost fifteen years ago, two young kids made a promise to love, honor, and obey. Like two sparrows in a hurricane, they held hands, shaking under the weight of the promise and unaware of what would be required of them.
And He Came…

Weeping on the floor of their one bedroom apartment…overwhelmed with the loneliness of a little girl lost and the consuming responsibility of being a wife and mother, she cried out to Him.
And He came…

On the first silent snowfall, on a cold November day, they held each other and wondered how they were supposed to say good-bye. Forever changed, robbed of the invincibility of youth, robbed of a lifetime of dreams and moments, and all the blessings two little girls would bring.
And He came…

They stood in the hallway of the hospital as her tears fell in unison with the raindrops trickling down the window pane. How could this be? How can they walk this journey once more knowing it will end not with the joyous sound of a newborn cry but with the heart wrenching emptiness of another good-bye? Presented with a hopeless outcome, an impossible choice, and the mocking question…”Where is your God now?” They drove home in the storm.
And He came…

She prayed and searched day and night for the answers, the evidence that He hadn’t turned His back on His two sparrows, leaving them to the merciless destruction of the hurricane. She wept from the unspeakable depths of a mother’s heart. Fumbling around in the darkness, she searched for Him. Every step was taken blindly, surrounded by fog so thick, she couldn’t tell if her next step would be the one to send her over the edge of the cliff. Would He catch them if they fell?
And He came…

Another silent birth on a warm day in July, they met their fourth child…their second son. They said hello and good-bye.
And He came…

Storms of rage and regret, disappointment and grief, rolled in as the clouds of darkness and doubt, bitterness and pain surrounded them. When the winds of the hurricane threatened fierce and certain destruction, one sparrow flew away and the other remained with broken wings to face the storm.
And He came…

Baby number five…For a moment there was silence, and her heart sank. And then…there it was…life’s most precious, miraculous, beautiful sound…the cry of new life…the cry of their baby. They held him and cried in complete awe and gratefulness for the gift of this life.
And He came…

She watched helplessly as her mother painfully and slowly slipped away. As she reassured with promises from His word, they repeated together…He will carry me, He will carry me…and in the depths of her heart, she wondered where He was, and if He would really come.
And He came…

Because He came…
The two sparrows were not alone when they made their commitment to love and cherish each other for all of their days.

Because He came…
She stood up from the floor of their one bedroom apartment, He lifted her head and wiped her tears and gave her courage to begin a new journey.

Because He came…
There was peace in the silent snowfall, beauty in the brokenness, and the hope of the most amazing reunion filled with the unending joys of two little girls who have never known pain, sorrow, regret, sickness, or tears.

Because He came…
There is an answer to the question, “Where is your God now?” There is complete confidence in the sufficient grace of our loving Savior, comfort in the arms of the Comforter, hope in the promise that we will never be forsaken. That His arms are always faithful to carry us. There was strength for the journey. When darkness should have smothered her, joy overcame her at the meeting of her boy…the boy she would only hold for a little while, and yet carry for a lifetime. She felt Him brush past her, and it was almost as if she could just reach out and touch the hem of His garment. Never did she feel His closeness so much, as when He whispered past her to take her sweet boy home. She sang songs of peace and praise as he left her arms. And because He came, one more precious little one will join the forever reunion, with their forever family, in their forever home.

Because He came…
The sparrow flew home, and the other sparrow’s broken wings were mended. They learned to hold on tight, so that when the hurricane winds blow, they will not be separated…but held together…closer still.

Because He came…
He carried her mother home just like He said He would, and He carries His sparrows still today…through storms and sunshine, laughter and tears.

More than two thousand years ago, the world ached for salvation, swelled with yearning for deliverance, redemption, restoration…for a Savior to rescue from sin and death. And He came…a baby King, born in a lowly stable on a quiet night to a peasant girl and her betrothed…a carpenter. He was in the still, small voice when He whispered past Elijah. And He was in the quiet stable birth when He came to rescue us and sent His angels to tell the lowly shepherds the good news.

His name is Jesus…and He came for me.

His name is Jesus…and He came for you.

And Because He came…there is hope for tomorrow and a promise of a joyful, forever reunion. He will wipe away all of the tears and wash away the loss and regret. He will cleanse and forgive and clothe us in robes of white. The empty arms will be filled. The hungry hearts will be fed. Brokenness will be restored. Mourning will be turned to dancing. And sin and death will be no more.

Because He came…He will carry us through this life.

And because He came…He will come again…in all His glory…to take us home.