Monthly Archives

April 2008

Audrey, devotional


A few months ago, I got an email from a girl named Sara.  As I read her words, I was struck by the incredible similarities between our stories.  She was pregnant with a little boy (Elliot) who had kidneys that were nonfunctioning, lack of lung development, in a breech position, no amniotic fluid…you get the picture.  Oh, and also, we had the EXACT same due date.  I wrote her back, and what started as a few words back and forth turned into a source of strength for both of us.  We were not alone!  We talked on the phone, and after we hung up, I cried tears of gratitude for this sweet angel that God had brought into my life.  She sent me her picture, and I decided that we were kindred spirits.
Yesterday, Sara gave birth to her beautiful (and I mean BEAUTIFUL!) son Elliot.  I woke up with knots in my stomach, but faith in what God might be up to.  I had to leave the house for a few hours, but before I left, I checked my email and there was an update from her aunts.  It said that he had been born screaming and crying….hmmm…with no lungs?  Yes.  God was up to something here…
I talked to God as I got in my car, as I ran my errands, as I did what mommies do.  All the while, I kept thinking, “What a perfect day for a miracle.”  
On my way home, I got a phone call from Todd.  He sounded serious.  I thought maybe someone had called to update me on Sara and Elliot.  
“Angie, I wanted to let you know that Dr. Trabue’s office just called.  They got the results from Audrey’s blood test. “
Her diagnosis.  I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath.  Since early January, we have speculated about syndromes and genetic issues.  We have wondered what this moment would tell us about her and about why she was, as Ellie calls it in prayer, “taken.”
“What did it say?”
“It said nothing, honey.  Nothing was wrong.  There is no diagnosis.  Everything was normal.”
I started to cry.  Softly at first, and then deeply.  Eventually it turned into a form of anger that I haven’t felt for a long time…I guess I was due for a good shouting match with God.
Todd felt terrible.
“I thought it would make you feel better, hon.  Why are you crying?”
“I want a reason.”  I couldn’t see the road through the tears.  I don’t know why, but I needed a diagnosis.  I am the kind of person that wants to understand EXACTLY what is happening.  I can deal with just about anything as long as it can be googled.  I pulled into my driveway and called Audra.  I still had a few more tears left in me.  
After I had gotten myself together a little, I went inside and went straight to the computer to see if Sara’s aunts had written.  They had.
Elliot passed away at 9:05 a.m., about an hour after he was born.
I got that far into the email and I slammed my computer shut. I just felt like the wind had whipped through and knocked me down, deep down into a place I don’t want to be.  A place where the answers are fewer than the questions.  A place where God is hidden, just slightly, by the shadows of this broken life.  It is an easy place to get comfortable, because all of your hurts are justified and the tears give way to doubt while all the while you meant to just pick yourself right back up.   
“You could have let him live! WHY? What was wrong with my baby???What do you have to gain from all of this loss????” I literally screamed at the sky while I cried over my own hurt, and the hurt of a sister who I have never met.  He never backs down, though, and I am grateful for that love.  It is the love of a Father who Himself is well-acquainted with sorrow.  It is the love of a Father Who has lost His Son. He understands the ranting and the door-slamming. The emptiness that wraps around me when I think of my sweet Audrey.  He knows.
And He only has one request.
Bring it right to me, Angie.
Every time the anger roars in your heart.  Bring it to Me.
Every time you feel like nobody hears you.  Bring it to Me.
When you think it isn’t fair.  When you think it isn’t true.  When you can’t think at all.
Bring it to My feet, and I will make an altar from your suffering.  
Yesterday, after I felt like I couldn’t take any more of the storm, Abby came into the kitchen with a drawing she had made for Audrey (they do this several times a day…I think it’s just part of how they are processing).  I looked at it for a few moments and then told her how amazing I thought it was.  She had drawn Audrey under a rainbow, standing by a sign that said “Come see the clowns!”  I’m not sure what the significance of that is, except that Abby did confirm that there are “only clowns in heaven sometimes.” That actually made me feel better, because I think clowns are kind of creepy.
Abby smiled at me expectantly.  I wasn’t sure what she was looking for.
“I want to give it to her, mommy.  I want to put it in her basket.” 
They call her “casket” a “basket,” and we don’t correct them, because frankly, I like the idea of a basket better anyway.
“OK.”  Now what do I say? How am I going to explain this to a 5 year old?
 She looked at me, waiting.
“So..should we put it in the mailbox, mommy? Will the man come and get it?”  
She wanted to understand the details of our new situation, and the truth at that moment was that I did too.
“Well, Abby, the great thing about heaven is that Audrey can see all of the things that we are doing down here.  AND, she can see what you made for her!  She can just look right into our house and see it.”  I waited to see how this felt to her.
Without a word, she spoke life back into my tired bones.
She took the edges of the drawing delicately and lifted it high above her head, closer to her baby sister.  She had her head tipped back, looking upward, and after a few seconds, she closed her eyes and a smile made it’s way across her face.
“She liked it, didn’t she?” I asked her quietly.
She nodded, still glowing, and ran off to play.
I don’t know where you are tonight, or what hurts you are holding up to God, but I will promise you this.  If you can just trust Him enough to bring it to Him, He will rejoice in your masterpiece.  And if you need to scream a little, know that you have a God who can take that too, as long as your face is tilted (even slightly) toward Him.
Please allow my sweet friend Sara and her son Elliot to make their way into your prayers tonight…ever-present Counselor, we have to trust You more that we can explain You sometimes.  
You are good, Lord.
You are good.

Cross Point Video

Today has been a day of loss and hurt. I have spent most of the day in tears, for many different reasons. I am still processing what God has brought to me, and the way that I will carry it. I am so, so tired, but I will try to post tomorrow, because I really feel like I need prayer. For now I wanted to pass this along. Allan (from Selah) goes to a great church here, and his pastor made a video of our story that they showed yesterday in church. I think they did a great job, and was honored to be a part of what turned out to be a beautiful day of celebrating God’s goodness and faithfulness.

Here is the link to Pete’s blog-he’s the pastor, and just an all-around great guy. If the poor boy just wasn’t so homely-looking…:)

You may have to scroll a little bit to get to us, but it’s called “Rocked To My Core.” It’s about 22 minutes long, so get comfy!

To Pete and everyone else at Cross Point who was involved in this, thank you, and may God continue to bless your ministry greatly.


Audrey, Selah


A few weeks ago, I mentioned a song that I had written with Todd and our friend Christa Wells. Amy Perry (who sings in Selah) has a sweet, talented husband named Jake who is pursuing video production in California (in addition to being a Mac genius. I’m not kidding-that’s his title. :) ), and he was kind enough to put these pictures into a slideshow for us to show at Audrey’s memorial service.  you can contact him at if you are in need of video help (or just to tell him how great he is!)

It has been a prayer from the deepest part of me that God would use these words to minister to people who have experienced loss similar to mine. Although this is just the demo of the song (the final version will be recorded on my Birthday-May 19th!), I hope it speaks into any hurts that it finds.  You will probably want to pause the music.  If you double-click the video screen, it will take you to the youtube site and then you can click “watch in highest quatlity”…that seems to be that best way to see it:)

I am daily mindful and thankful for your prayers…they have convinced me to put my feet on the floor morning after morning.

I Will Carry You

There were photographs I wanted to take
Things I wanted to show you
Sing sweet lullabies, wipe your teary eyes
Who could love you like this?

People say that I am brave but I’m not
Truth is I’m barely hanging on
But there’s a greater story
Written long before me
Because He loves you like this

So I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All my life
And I will praise the One Who’s chosen me
To carry you

Such a short time
Such a long road
All this madness
But I know
That the silence
Has brought me to His voice
And He says…

I’ve shown her photographs of time beginning
Walked her through the parted seas
Angel lullabies, no more teary eyes
Who could love her like this?

I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All your life
And I will praise the One Who’s chosen Me
To carry you

Audrey, growing up


Good news…I’m not spam!!! I cannot believe how many of you wrote to me to tell me that you wanted me to know you were still praying for me. I have needed and appreciated those words more than you will ever know during the past days. There is much too much to fit here…I feel like I am walking around in a dream most of the time. The last 2 weeks have been some of the hardest I have ever experienced. I am still sifting the moments, the memories, and the loss. Trying to figure out where it all goes in my life, and how in the world I am supposed to watch my kids play at the park and not just blurt out, “I just lost my daughter” to all the other mommies. What is this new life I have been given? In time, I know it will begin to make sense. We will learn what to say when people ask how many children we have. We will learn to fall asleep on a dry pillow. We will remember how to love fully, without fear of losing the one thing we can’t stand to lose. We will.

But not today.

Today I am broken. I feel like I am in the midst of intense spiritual warfare. The Blogger people unfroze me yesterday, and I sat down to write after the kids were in bed. I stared at the screen for about an hour, just crying and trying to stretch my fingers across the letters to form something that would tell you what I am feeling. I finally closed my computer and went to sleep, only to toss and turn for most of the night. When I did sleep, it was filled with images of Audrey, but they always unfolded differently. In one, I was screaming at the sky while people all around me told me that I wasn’t loud enough. They kept telling me that if I screamed at the top of my lungs, God would let me have her back. He would drop her from the sky. And so, in my dream, I stood with my arms outstretched to the heavens, believing. Then I remember crumpling up on the ground in tears, knowing that I wasn’t enough. I couldn’t do what I needed to do to save her. I woke up in the throes of helplessness, my bed soaked with sweat.

In another dream, I was away from home and had a feeling that something was wrong with her. I called Todd to check in and he told me that she had died, and that we had both missed her memorial service. I would wake up every few minutes, sometimes grabbing at my stomach to see if she was still there, or if any of it was true. Of course, on every occasion, I eventually remembered.

I feel like I am constantly releasing her, reminding myself that it is really happening. She is gone.

What I have in that moment is the blanket that she was wrapped in for most of her life.

What I have are the pictures of her sweet face.

What I have is a beautiful necklace that a stranger sent to me with all of my daughters’ initials on it.

What I have is a scar, five inches long, which tells me that she lived here not so long ago.

What I do not have is my daughter. And that loss is deeper than anything I could put on paper. It is concrete, definitive, gaping. It is my new life.

Shortly after Audrey was born, some of my close friends came to my house and told me they had a surprise for us. About half an hour later, there was a cherry blossom tree planted in our front yard in place of a maple that had never lived. To see those little pink flowers in the place where we had become accustomed to seeing dead branches was profound for me. Several times a day I walk by my dining room windows and smile at the blossoms because they remind me of my past, and they urge me to believe that new life has begun. The soil is rich in longing, needy for purpose, and prepared to be the giver of life. The friends that brought me that tree could not have known the full extent of how meaningful it was to me.

The official name of the tree is the “Yoshino Cherry.” I have always (unbeknownst to them) loved Japanese cherry trees. Growing up, I spent about four years in Kobe, Japan, and some of my fondest memories drift back to me in the form of pink petals floating on the breeze, beckoning hard-working men and women out of their offices. The cherry blossom season is so short (only a few days!), that last year, the government issued a national apology when they miscalculated the dates. I remember the way my sister and I jumped up and down as the petals fell like snow around us, and thousands of people gathered all around to just experience the beauty. This is one of the descriptions that I found online:

“The Japanese Cherry starts flowering profusely from the first warmer days in April, heralding the coming of spring.

The intense beauty and short survival span have associated Cherry Blossoms with spiritual and philosophical ideas such as the beauty and fragility of human life.”

I read these words and I just fell apart. It’s okay. I needed to fall apart. I pictured the God of the universe watching two little girls dance under the falling blossoms, in a country so far from home…innocence in motion…and years later watching my dear friends plant life in a season of loss. Once again I was reminded that none of this is a surprise to Him.

I went to a tourist site to track the Cherry Blossom festivals for this year, and I clicked on “Kobe.” This is the place where so many of my childhood memories come from…so much joy. I watched the dates come up and the tears just started falling. April 7th, 2008…one of the peak bloom days.

A one week time span, and there she was.

Tonight, my knees will bow to the God that gave her to me…and the God who took her from me. The God who loves to bloom where death reigned. We welcome you, Lord. Come and make it beautiful again.

Sweet Audrey-blossom. You captured us all.

My dad and some business associates
Me and my sister