Finding the beauty beneath.

(May 2014)

One year ago today we moved to Colorado Springs! And oh what a year it has been for our family! We spent time reflecting on the past year in “the Springs”, our new city and home – it has been uniquely beautiful, even though it wasn’t anything like we’d imagined.

Jesus has been seeking after my heart, pursuing me over and over again, meeting me where I’m at, in ways that might seem so small but are significant to me. Lately, it has been in nature, while being down on my knees, wrist deep in dirt, yanking up weeds, planting seeds and flowers…The last year has been a season of what reminds me a lot of weeding, actually. It has actually been THE hardest and the best year simultaneously. I touched on this a bit in one of my recent posts (click here to read) – We’ve moved, yet again, and found ourselves in the same place as before: broken, struggling, lonely, avoiding painful things and busying our lives in such a way we don’t have to face them.

Until, like weeds, these things have begun to suffocate us over the past almost 5 years since Eisley’s death. Taking over our lives so much so that it was hard to even see the beautiful things now hidden beneath the mess. It was beginning to be hard to remember they were even there anymore.

We’re currently walking through the thick of what springtime brings – figuratively and literally speaking;  sunshine and rainy days begin to be more and more frequent, flowers, buds and trees begin to blossom, and also these icky things called weeds begin to grow as well. IMG_7752

(The ‘before’ of part of our front yard)

It might sound odd, but weeding is one of my favourite things to do in springtime. It can be tedious, it is guaranteed to be messy, and is even painful at times but working hard removing the weed – digging deep, finding the root and digging it out completely, it’s truly rewarding. Even when you’ve finished just a small area, and step back to take a look at your work, it’s encouraging! You begin to notice the plants or flowers that have been hidden yet have still tried to make their way through the thick of the weeds.  IMG_7735

(Hard work pays off!)

It isn’t perfect and weeds are bound to pop up now and again, but what if we pulled them as they appeared, rather than avoid them? Imagine how much more beautiful and freeing that would be!

Have you ever noticed how the weeds you decided to avoid the spring/summer before seem to come back twice as big and hardy, and maybe even multiplied? This is the perfect picture of what the past (almost) 5 years have been like for us.  Gnarly weeds growing and taking over areas that were once full of life and beauty.

When we moved to The Springs, I had high expectations for what moving meant for us. Expectations of the busy life slowing to a more simpler, family centered life where we could find healing. I had these ideas of what it “should” look like and thought maybe, just maybe THIS will be the place we find healing, and truly begin to move forward and not backwards. Not long after the move I began to notice familiar patterns and again we were in a constant struggle, and yet another season of “too busy” to face things that need faced head on.

And to be honest, this fall, I crumbled.  And then we added more loss and more heartache in January with the loss of another baby (I should be 24 weeks now). And I just felt done with it all,  to the point of no return. The journey of seeking after healing after loss felt so hopeless when loss continues to pile up on us. And time slips away so fast we aren’t able to process, or perhaps choose not to because we just don’t know where to begin.

We hit rock bottom soon after Everly’s 1st birthday.  We were truly suffocating from the “weeds” and it was time to either face what needs to to be faces, or to allow them to suffocate us.

But this time we’ve chosen to face things head on. To dig deep and yank up those damn roots that have been growing deeper and larger each year! For once we’ve actually taken steps to move forward and OH HOW HEALING that alone has been.

I think we all some type of  “weed” in our lives that’s suffocating us, am I right? Maybe one’s we’ve avoided for so long, we can no longer see the beauty hiding beneath. Or perhaps they are small ones, just beginning to appear.

 Let’s dig them up, friends!IMG_7753

(Shailo showing me how tall the Iris has grown – it’s rare when he wants his picture taken or he’s actually looking at the camera haha)

Spring time is here, and I can’t wait to see the beauty that unfolds from our hard work!

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Let’s Carry the Lee Family.

Our dear friends tragically lost their daughter yesterday. She was born 19 weeks early and lived for a few hours before she passed away. In this time many people who know them personally have asked how to help, so we’ve created a practical way for people to help financially using Go Fund Me (EVERY penny goes directly to them).  Even if you do not know them personally, would you consider giving? I decided to reach out to all of you, my sweet blog followers!

LetscarrytheleesPlease consider giving here and sharing this link on your own social media platforms?

Let’s rally together and carry the Lees in this time of deep sorrow.

#Letscarrythelees

The part where I gave up.

Until 2014, I have prided myself in being “adaptive”.  5.5 years ago I had our first baby after what (at the time, before having lost a baby) I felt was the worst birth/labor ever., 14 months later we lost our Eisley-girl, 14 months after that the birth of our surprise/gift Shailo, 28 months later we had our sweet Everly!

Aside from having 4 BEAUTIFUL babies… we have moved 8 times, one of which was overseas (during my pregnancy with Everly) where I attended a counseling school. We have each had jobs simultaneously, or we have struggled along as Ted had worked his bum off. Add college for Ted for 3 of those years. Add unpredictable grief. Add all of life’s in betweens…

I felt I had (we had) taken the ebbs and flows of life pretty darn well …*pat pat pat*…

Until 2014… we entered 2014 having just moved back from Amsterdam to no home, nothing but a few boxes of memorabilia in storage. Our plans of moving to Alaska suddenly changed and we found ourselves living with family… again. (They are amazing thankfully, we were so blessed!) We had Everly just shy of 2 months into the new year, and that was INCREDIBLE. We added baby number 3 (4th baby, really. … will I ever be able to just be okay saying the number of kiddos that are with me? Probably not….) and Ted had to go back to work just a few days later. We also went through the process of finding and buying a home. Many  5 hour drives (round trip) to visit homes, and then finally at the end of May we moved and have since planted some roots.

We have a home…

And then it happened… the adaptive, roll-with-the-punches Jami snapped this fall. I have lost it.  I guess I had huge expectations that we would now have time to process the dark times of our life in a healthy way… FINALLY. And that we would have more time as a family period. But honestly, our life is so insanely busy right now, that we barely have had time to process everyday life let alone the really gnarly parts.

Also the whole “keeping the me in mommy…” I haven’t done but maybe 5 things for myself this fall, like blogging, it’s been way too long! Normally by the beginning of a new year I share a post with beautiful moments throughout our year and also a new word for our year. I’m really not in a place to do that right now. My positivity is really quenched. Maybe someday soon, or maybe this is as good as it is going to get this time around. And I’m okay with that…

This is just a season in our lives, one that I know I will look back on and be so grateful for A) making it out alive and B) I hope to make it out a stronger person … and as a stronger family. But I guess I’m kind of over the surviving and I really want to deal with the fact that we. have. lost our. child. Our Eisley-girl.. I want to STOP and just BE sometimes.

It’s ugly, it’s messy, it’s painful. I’m unbearably miserable to be around (Ted basically pushed me out the door to have time alone and to write).  I go to bed feeling guilty and I wake feeling overwhelmed…wondering how I can keep putting my family through this debilitating depression, anxiety and anger. I wish someone could shake me and scream “get ahold of yourself woman!” and I’d just simply snap out of it. But i know it’s not the simple.

I feel guilt and an ache inside when I look at my beautiful little girl as a smile brightens her face… this twinge of guilt knowing that if I continue down this path, I will look back someday, and even now, and realize what a precious time in her life that I just allowed myself to survive, instead of truly live, breathe and enjoy  these precious and fleeting moments, like I used to.

For the first time since I’ve been a mother, and particularly since we’ve lost Eisley, I have completely lost myself… even physically look in the mirror and I cannot believe my eyes. Not just the weight, but my actual eyes, seem different. You know that saying “Your eyes are the window to your soul” … it sounds dramatic but it’s almost like even my body has had enough of me trying to hold everything together over these years. It’s like screw being adaptive! Let’s face this! Every season of life we’ve entered, even when it felt impossible I always been this “I’ve got this” person and I just did it. I don’t even know how, i just thought “Well, I can’t give up” and I (we) made it.

I’ve shared briefly and vaguely on the blog about my struggle with depression. But never this transparent. Perhaps because of the stigma attached to mental illness. And even as I write that “mental illness”, I cringe. It’s like I feel I’m saying “I’m weak” but in reality I know just how strong I’ve had to be. Even when it doesn’t feel that way. I have seen MANY family and friends walk through depression and they are some of the strongest people I know.

I hide it because frankly I feel ashamed.. I feel like there is this Jami everyone thinks they know, but that’s a version of me I want people to see. But even that facade is beginning to crumble. I find myself less and less able to hide… especially in a community where you are around people all. of. the. time. I want to hide away in our home, but I actually can’t, like it’s not even a possibility due to our schedules. Which maybe is a blessing in disguise (no). But I want to just hide away from the world. I don’t want people to see me failing and falling apart. (Yet, here I am sharing! HA!)

This is a part of my journey and my process. It isn’t for attention or for people to feel sorry for me. This is just me. I want to write it out loud (and believe me this isn’t everything). I also want others who struggle with depression and anxiety and anger to know YOU ARE NOT ALONE. No one wants to share this part of themselves. We always want to share the parts we feel we have all together, or appear to have figured out. I have a deep respect for those who are humble and honest with where they are at. It is beautiful to come together in these difficult and dark valleys as well as the mountain top experiences as well.

I think we often fall trap to the lie that if we share these things people will run from us or worse, stay and say something christian cliche when all I want to do is scream Do you not know the same Jesus I do?! He walked through the messy, the gnarly. I know I feel weary of the runners and cliche words hence sharing very little until now. (Unfortunately I have been a runner or a cliche talking fool myself at times!)

I didn’t make a huge list of goals this year, like last year and the years before. I actually have made very few (and that was only with the encouragement of my girl Britt!)

This fall I started believing that I just can’t do this anymore and to be honest, ALL of the members of my family have felt that. Jami – the me, the wife, the friend, the momma, the homemaker, etc…. she’s given up.

But I can’t stay here… I want to start believing that I can again even when it feels like I can’t.

Yet, I also want to be real and honest with where I am at and work through the things I need to as they come and even the moments that have past and are the darkest.

And I want to be gentle with myself along the way (I’m the hardest on myself…)

I also want to do more of the things that are me and that I love and miss.

This is a declaration…

And I’m saying it with faith because I truly don’t know how to get back up from here… but I WILL.

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For my wounded/confused/amazing husband, for my beautiful (probably traumatized) kiddos… for me.

Here’s to a year of BREAKTHROUGH …  here’s to 2015.

Sharing Eisley (on sharing child loss)

This week Chase asked me about Eisley… again. His curious mind, wondering and trying to process things he either vaguely remembers, or things he’s heard and seen. Pictures, memorabilia, even the breakdowns I’ve had (that I can’t say I’m overly proud of).

I remember before I had her as the fear of losing her became greater and greater, I struggled with wondering, do I tell my almost 14-month-old anything? I mean he wouldn’t even remember, right? I knew he wouldn’t understand but would he feel things?

While I was in labor with Eisley, I was given a nurse who had two stillborn babies,her first baby and her third. She had children between and after her losses and she shared with me that she and her husband had decided to tell her other children. They were a part of their family, and they would celebrate them each year.

But what would we do? And if I don’t share now while he was little, then when? Do I ever?

Then I had Eisley, and to be honest, I didn’t really have time to think things through… clearly, anyways. It was all kind of a blur, a fog…a nightmare.

I think I knew deep down, not sharing about her wasn’t really an option. I felt so close with her, and now I felt like a part of me was missing. How could I not share her?

And even the moments, like this week and and the weeks to come – where the haunting anniversaries arrive, memories resurface, pain feels raw all over again,… I don’t ever regret sharing her…

and I especially don’t regret sharing Eisley with Chase, and now Shailo and some day, Everly.

There is truly an Eisley-shaped hole in our family that not only are Ted and I learning to live with. But also our children. They don’t feel the magnitude of what we felt and feel, but they feel something. Chase remembers some things from that time, though he was little.

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And more than that, they too, are processing the questions that arise in them that their minds can’t wrap around. It’s funny, in a childlike way, he has had some of the same thoughts/questions I’ve had for my Heavenly Father.

Like this last week when he said to me, “I know Eisley is with Jesus… But I wish she could come here and stay in our new home with us.”

Oh my heart.

I found myself wanting to say something comforting like, “but she is in heaven with Jesus and I bet she has a super cool room!”

But I just couldn’t. Validation, Jami, it’s what helped you when you needed it most, “yeah, me too, buddy.”

“Well, we can pretend she’s here!” He said and pulled Everly’s little rocker into the hallway.

I didn’t really know what to do or to say. So I didn’t. I didn’t move the chair for hours. But when the house was quiet as all 3 kiddos napped and I spotted the sun shining perfectly on the little rocker. It just broke me. I fell to my knees, put my head down and wept on to the empty rocker.

Even in these painful moments and memories, I still don’t… And can’t… Regret sharing her with her siblings.

Or sharing her with you along the way.

I had this fear she’d be forgotten, like she’d never existed, when we first lost her.

I wanted people to know of the beautiful little girl we held for 45 minutes. I wanted people to know of who we felt she was and to remember how she impacted us and also those who prayed for her.

To not share who she was, who she is and how she impacted our lives, felt like an injustice. For her, and honestly, for myself too. I always desire authenticity, even here on my
Blog. It has helped my grieving immensely, to write about her life and my struggles since she passed, and how we are moving forward as life is speeding by.

I realized, almost four years later, the ache is still ever-present and though it seems different, it isn’t any easier to process. We are still learning how to live with this ache, with the questions that arise in ourselves and in our kids/

This week I have felt so thankful that we decided to share her life with our other kiddos. And that we don’t hide behind close doors with our grief (though at time, we do). That even though the sudden questions may take us aback, we address them.

I haven’t been proud of many moments in my grief these past four years, but this is an area I am very thankful we allowed.

That we accept this as a part of our lives and say it’s okay to grieve and to talk about her. To ask the questions that linger.

We are learning what it means to share her life, to grieve and rejoice, together. Though each grieves so very differently, it is together as a family. And for that, I am beyond thankful.

I wanted to close the doors on my emotions this year, for some reason that I can’t quite pinpoint. But Chaseyboy’s questions and that moment in the hallway broke me.

I’m thankful. So thankful, as we are less than two weeks away from anniversaries.

Thank you for reading my emo blog post. I guess I just want to be sure I keep sharing. That I don’t close the door to the blog world, too. I know this blog has touched so many grieving mommas. I want to say to you that it’s okay to grieve, it’s okay to share and to be heard and feel validated. Your child’s life happened, your loss happened. Speak it, cry it out, scream it out if needed. Be heard by at least one. I’m not saying you must write a blog in order to validate their life and your loss, but I just want to speak it out for you mommas, especially those who feel weak… don’t shut the doors to your grief, don’t fret that you will mess up your other kiddos if you cry in front of them.  It is okay to share, it might even help those around you too.

Sharing has helped in my healing. Sharing has helped in our family’s healing. It’s still painful, but it does helps.

Love,
J