Sweet Baby James

I know there are stories all around us that make us hit the floor weeping for strangers, but this was one that wrapped my heart up inside it. Some of you may have seen a tweet I sent out asking for prayer for a sweet little 8 month old boy named James.  A few weeks ago he was diagnosed with a brain tumor and just yesterday he went to be with the Lord.

There are times where I look at a little face, a little dimple, or, in his case a WHOLE lot of gorgeous hair and I am stripped bare with grief. Why, Lord? Why?

In many of his newborn photos he reminds me of my nephew Luke, who also had a head of hair that made women swoon as they reached for him.

And as this family grieves, I find myself grieving as well. A stranger, yes, but not in spirit. And I know all of the beautiful, perfect things I am supposed to say to a “stranger” in this position, but at the end of the day I am weeping and all I want is for it to be different. I want them to have the rest of their summer with him, and then fall and winter for years to come. I want them to hide his toes in the sand and listen to him giggle and learn what his favorite games were.

And all of us baby-loss mothers, we just have these darned pieces. Some are jagged, others soft enough to cradle until we realize they are not the real thing.

I’m broken tonight for them, and I am asking the Lord to let me bear a little of their burden. Will you join me please?

I am not going to attach any photos or anything else personal here because I have not requested to do so and I don’t want to impinge upon their processing, but they do have a blog set up and if you would like to offer prayer on their behalf I can imagine they would appreciate it.

Here is the link: http://jamescamdensikes.blogspot.com/

May God sustain them as they walk this road….it will certainly never be the same but I pray they feel the light of His face shining on them as they go.

With so much love, disappointment, and urging to the throne of God…


So Much


First on the list, there was a misunderstanding about the comment that was left, and the scarf lady may still be with us!!!!! It was written by a sweet lady who had lost a “scarf lady” of her own, but not specifically the one I was speaking of…..I am praying God will allow me, somehow, to find out where this sweet woman is, and I have a plan. I will keep you all posted when I find out anything about Ellie’s scarf lady, so we can be in prayer about her, wherever she is. I pray she is still out there somewhere, and I would love to connect with her…

ALSO. Last night was bad. Todd was tormented all night and neither of us slept at all. We both feel so oppressed and we are praying our way through life minute by minute. I could hear his hushed voice all through the night, whispering scripture, praying over our house, our children…

When I woke up this morning I was overwhelmed at the number of comments I had, and the number of people who had been praying for me. That was enough to bring me to tears, but when I opened my email, I literally collapsed onto my keyboard. I had about 100 emails from people who were trying to help me find the Bible. ME? WHO AM I that I should deserve this love???? I am humbled beyond words, and in that moment, the Lord brought a visual to me of the way we are to surround each other, pray for one another, and hold each others arms up when we are too weak to do so.

The bottom line is that THE BIBLE HAS BEEN FOUND. After a sweet reader called several Barnes and Noble stores in SEVERAL states, she tracked down ONE. And it is on its way to me:)

I am more than humbled. I pray that all of you all of you who took the time to try and help me will be blessed a thousand times in return….thank you.

(original post follows)

There is so much on my heart tonight, and I was praying I would have the strength to share some of it with you. My body and mind are exhausted, and the Lord is beckoning me to just be still and sit in His presence instead.

I will tell you that I have a lot of things on my mind and I so desire your prayers for wisdom in my own life as I deal with some very challenging situations that are so, so close to home.
We aren’t always prepared for the hailstorms, are we? Neither the drizzle, I suppose, but the past few weeks have been, well, torrential.
I really am okay, so please don’t be alarmed or worried. I love that I have a body of readers that start to write me emails when I haven’t posted in awhile to make sure I am alright. There are people around me who have needed me in ways I cannot go into here, and that has been my priority for the past few weeks. It is not over, friends, and we all need your prayers.
With that said, I feel (and I have said this before, and NEVER say it lightly) that I am under serious spiritual attack from the enemy. I will not give him the power he desires to have in my life, and yet there are days I feel sapped from the battle.
One of the things that frustrates me (and you may think this is silly) is that I lost my favorite Bible. I mentioned it before but I really thought I would find it. Well, I haven’t, and there are reasons that God gave me that exact Bible when He did, and they are related to some of the issues I am up against now. I know this sounds like a jumbled mess, but here is what I am getting to. This Bible appears to no longer be available. Here is the link to Amazon which shows the Bible, as well as the ISBN number, which is 031093978X. It comes in hardback and faux-leather, and I am looking for the leather…
I have tried to order it from several sites that say they have it, and then a few days later I get an email saying that they are sorry but they do not have it in stock and don’t know when they will. It was published by Zondervan and was limited edition, so I don’t know that anyone will be getting copies again.
In the event that you read this blog and you spot one of these, or you are the owner of a bookstore that has one, PLEASE leave me your information and I will order it right away. I am heartbroken, and I hate to say that because I know I could just buy another one, but as you well know by now about me…..there is a story behind this particular one and I would be so excited to have another. AND if I get a bunch of people who write me to tell me they have them, I will list them here so that others can buy it as well :)
And then if I could just get the David Crowder Band to re-record “All I Can Say,” I’ll be in decent shape. And I will have about 30 less emails to answer every day :) We need to start a campaign, I think. Based on the number of emails I have gotten about that song, the CD would be double platinum by now. David, if you are reading, please, do us all a favor. We need the song.
On some heavier notes, if you read through the comments on my last post (as I’m sure you all do, right?….), you would have seen a message from a sweet woman mentioning that the “scarf lady” has gone to be with the Lord. I believe she passed away in October, and when I read those words I cried as if I had known her all my life. I don’t know why, but I guess she was just someone the Lord allowed to fill a pocket of my heart, and secretly, I had been praying I would see a comment from her. It occurred to me shortly after that that she is now one of the only people I know who has met all four of my daughters…what a humbling and heart-shattering thought.
Finally, please be in prayer for the Sponberg’s.
If you that have read my blog for awhile, you may have noticed that today would have been my nephew Luke’s first birthday.
We went to the cemetery with Greg, Nicol, Summer, and Greg’s parents (visiting from Maine) and talked about who Luke was. We prayed over him and cried, and we had moments of just plain “no words for this” silence.
I am disappointed that there is a little boy who should be toddling around and learning to talk, and the best we can do is sit by his grave and talk about what could have been.
Todd said to me later this evening that I seemed angry, and maybe I am, but more than that, I am disappointed. I don’t have the whole God thing figured out (although I plan to spend a lot of time with Melissa in India, so I should have most of it covered by the flight home).
I know Whom I serve, and I know He knows my heart. Tonight, I am broken over the loss of a candle that didn’t get to be blown out and a song he will never hear us sing to him. I know he is in a better place, and I believe it, but it hurts so deeply I don’t even know how to articulate it.
I guess on many fronts in my life, I just feel weighed down with disappointment.
I just want to be honest with you all, because it doesn’t always get tied up with a neat little bow when you follow the Messiah. I wish it did, but it isn’t part of the deal.
What we can do is to pray, and to beseech the Lord to come to be with those who are in need and those who are hurting tonight.
If you would like to comment directly to Greg and Nicol, or have any encouraging verses or prayers for them, feel free to visit their blog and leave your thoughts. I know how much we treasure the fact that people take the time to share in our suffering.
Peace be with you all tonight, and I will be back soon….in the meantime, thank you for being such a sweet family to us as we face the next several months. There are milestones that we have dreaded facing, and yet somehow, He has brought us here, and no doubt, will bring us through.
With love and deepest appreciation,

Ever Sweeter

***note*** I just realized I have misplaced my list of people asking for a Bible.  If you requested one, and haven’t received it, please write to me again….I am so sorry about this.  
It is, of course, entirely possible that the devil stole my notebook and hid it on my bookshelf….he’s so stealthy…(that only made sense to about 15 women, but they are all laughing their heads off…love you, Amy!)
I started writing this post on 8/7, and was only able to finish it this evening…

It’s been four months today.

That’s hard to say. I guess in some ways it hurts to think about the fact that time continues to move along without her.
I am broken tonight.  
Todd and I are laying in bed, and we just finished watching the Larry King interview with Steven Curtis Chapman and his sweet family. I got goosebumps as I watched them boldly speak the name of our Lord in the wake of losing Maria.  They were so honest about the way they have been angry and the way they have screamed to the heavens, “Why?” They also talked about satan, and their description of our enemy made me shiver.  
I know that not all of you are Christians.  I want you to know that I am so grateful you are here, that you are reading these words.  I don’t say that because I see you as a “project,” or because I want to add you to my list of people I can brag about “converting.”  Before I was a believer, I had experiences with a few Christians who made me feel like I was on their “to-do” list, and I was irritating to them because they wanted to just cross me off and move on.  I promised myself that I would never make anyone feel like they were valuable to me because I had a goal with them.  I truly, truly, love people, and I truly, truly, love Jesus.  It’s actually pretty simple. With that said, I hope you stick around for this post.  You may choose not to agree (you are certainly entitled to your own opinion!), but it is important to me, and it is what I believe, so I would like to share.  As always, please ask any questions you have, and I will make sure to pass them along to my father in law and get back to you with a really smart answer:)
Here goes.
I believe that satan is real, and that spiritual warfare rages all around us every day of our lives.
I believe satan is the enemy of God, and that his desire is to see the fallen world turn their backs on the God he wanted to overpower.  I don’t think he has a pitchfork, and I doubt he has a long red tail.  I don’t think he wears Prada, but I do believe he was an angel once.  An angel with a beautiful voice who wanted to be greater than God.  An angel who God rejected and exiled from heaven. The fallen angel who rejoices in our sufferings and our regrets.  Who taunts us as we hold our dying children and who laughs as we crumble under the weight of it all.  
The day after we buried Audrey, we went to breakfast with Todd’s family, and we learned that Nicol was going to be singing that night at a showcase.  If you have ever heard her sing, you already know why we wanted to be there, but immediately, it was more than that.  I can only say it this way…God impressed upon me a desire to be there that was so strong that I would have moved heaven and earth to do it.
Later that night, as we were getting ready, everything started going wrong.  The kids were upset, we couldn’t find our shoes, we were late, and on and on.  We almost decided not to go, but again, I felt like no matter what, we were getting in the car. We did, and almost an hour later, in the pouring rain, we realized our navigation system was seriously confused about where we were supposed to be.  We could barely see the road, and no matter how many people we called, we couldn’t get anyone to answer the phone. Over and over we called Todd’s mom, Todd’s dad, Todd’s sister, Todd’s brother in law.  Nothing. Nobody.
I was angry.
Really, really angry.
Todd, his best friend Dan, and my dad were also in the car, and they will tell you that I was, by all accounts, being completely unreasonable as I huffed and puffed from the passenger seat.  I felt oppressed.  I felt like I was being sought out by the one who hates me the way he hates my God.  I felt an anger rise up in me that was almost inhuman.  What’s the big deal? I kept thinking, trying to calm myself down.  She will sing again.  You’ll see her next time.  You’ll get to support her next time. Still, regardless of my internal pep-talk, the haunting passion would not subside.
I must be there.
I asked the Lord to guide our car.  I asked Him to delay the showcase so that we would see her even though we were 45 minutes late for a half hour set.  I asked Him because that was all I could think to do. I felt like the devil himself was beside me, breathing on me, smothering me with his hatred.
We finally figured out where we were supposed to have turned, and we retraced our steps until the building stood in front of us.  We jumped out of the car and ran, hands over our heads in a feeble attempt to protect ourselves from the downpour.  As we entered the building, we heard nothing.  Silence.  I assumed we had just missed her.  We walked into the room where she was, and saw everyone standing up and talking.  I ran to Todd’s mom and asked her how it had gone. She told me it hadn’t even started and I almost started crying right there.  We found our seats and settled in. My heart was racing, and I remember thinking, OK Lord, we’re here.  Thank you. I don’t know what you’re up to, but I know You’re in it.

Just a few minutes later, Nicol got on stage.  She opens her mouth and Jesus falls out.  Trust me. I was just starting to close my eyes and relax when I heard a tiny little whimpering. The day before, I had watched my fourth daughter be lowered into the earth, and that sound, that tiny baby squeaking…oh it broke me.  I opened my eyes and saw my mother in law holding the baby.  I need to be selfless.  I just want to sit and listen and relax, but Lord, I need to help so she can stay and listen…
“I’ll take him, Mom.”
“You sure?” 

Not really, I thought.  I don’t know what it’s going to feel like to have that weight in my arms tonight.  
“Yeah, I’m sure.”  I swaddled him up and walked out the back doors.  
I stood in the foyer, ear pressed to the door for the next few minutes.  Every few seconds I would stare down at his sweet face, and just feel his warmth.  I couldn’t run from it.  I had to miss her the way I did in that moment, while he gurgled and shifted and turned his little head. 
After a few minutes, a peace came over me.  I just stared at him, every part of his face, and I started to whisper to him…Oh sweet baby…sweet baby boy…

The rain was pounding on the glass doors, and the sound of God was all around.
Weeks later, as I recalled this moment, I would realize what I didn’t know during that storm.
This was the only time I would ever hold my nephew Luke.

I am crying now as I remember the words I said to him.  I will never repeat them, because I believe that God allowed me those private moments with him to cling to for the rest of my life. Luke knows what I said.  He knows to this day that I fought the rain, I fought the clock, I fought the devil himself because on that night, he was meant to be held in my arms.
The name of the song Nicol sang as I rocked Luke? I couldn’t make this up if I tried…it was called “Downpour.” I now have, forever etched in my memory, the sound of my dear sister singing to Jesus while I held her son, worshipping the God who would greet him in heaven a few short weeks later.  She was singing to Him….singing sweet praise to Him…  
Several people have written me over the months and they have asked me this question in many different ways.  “Do you believe that God was responsible for taking your baby? How can you love a God Who would do that?”  Here is my answer.
I don’t know why she is gone, but I do know Who had the final say.  And it wasn’t the snake.
And because I know Who, I am willfully unconcerned with why.  
I know that God will use this for good, regardless of who may have intended it for evil. If you are reading these words, and you know anything about my sweet Audrey, you will also know this.
He already has.
I listened to Steven tonight, and I thought about my sweet husband and my precious sister in law Nicol singing to the Lord, and I recalled a quote I read years ago in a Max Lucado book (ironically, I think the title has something to do with a storm…).  It told the story of a very young girl who was playing her violin at a concert and there was no question she was a prodigy, gifted well beyond her years. But while her fingers danced on the strings, a man in the audience leaned over to his friend and said,
“Can you imagine how beautiful it will be once she’s had her heart broken?”
The depth of sorrow has a way of changing the way you share your life, your heart, your God.  It makes you want to shout the name of Jesus because you realize that after all, in the very midst of it, He is real.  It isn’t just a big book.  It’s the truth, and it has changed me. He has used this season to show me an image of myself, kissing His feet while the tears slip to the ground. 
This week we will bury our sweet baby Luke in the same plot as Audrey. 
I write those words and then I shake my head, anticipating the tent, the benches, the flowers, the tears…..again.  It feels like too much to bear, and yet, I want you to know this.
There is much that the enemy cannot take from us. 
He cannot have our memories, our pure love, the way we have held each other up…he cannot. 
He cannot have our hope, nor our inexplicable peace. Never.
And this week, a sound most disturbing to satan will rise from a graveyard in Tennessee, where the echoes of loving praise will drift into the morning sky, ever sweeter for the brokenness.
I want to thank you in advance for the way I know you will lift us up in prayer, and for the way it will sustain us in the coming days. 
With much love, and more gratitude than I can articulate,


***Update*** Kate has been peeing and pooping on the potty since I posted this!!!!!!! You all are prayer warriors!!!!!!!  If you haven’t read this entry yet, this will make no sense, and this is probably an uncomfortable moment for you…yikes :) I am SO excited that several of you will be coming to the women’s conference in Lexington…anyone wanna do the speaking for me?
Love to you all, and thank you for all the amazing homeschooling suggestions…I have started a notebook with all of your nifty ideas. I am hoping to have another update on Bible study soon…we’re getting closer!!!!!!!!! I can’t wait!!!

Hi all!

Sorry I haven’t posted in a bit..we were out of town visiting family in Georgia. We had such a great week watching the girls playing with their cousins.  It was great to just all be together and stay up late playing dominoes after the girls had fallen asleep to Miley Cyrus’ 3-D concert.  We are truly blessed to have the kind of family that really loves to be together…
Yesterday, we went swimming with Pete and Brandi and their three precious boys (Jett, Gage, and Brewer).  You may remember that Pete is the Pastor of Crosspoint church, who did the awesome video about Audrey.  We had so much fun watching Jett patiently allowing Kate to follow him all around the pool, floaties working overtime, and then pounce on him as soon as he got still.  I heard Ellie say to the other boys, “I think my sister is going to marry your brother.”  She isn’t subtle, but she is certainly determined.  I can’t wait to see what God does with her as she grows up.  I think she is going to be a warrior for the Lord.  On our way to meet them, she decided to test-drive the word “crap” from the backseat of the car.  I whipped around and asked her what she had said and she was kind enough to repeat it.  I looked at her and she realized that must be a no-no word.  She looked at the floor of the car and then at me.
“We don’t say crap, do we, mommy?”
“No, Kate, we don’t say that word.” She considers this for a moment, and then says,
“What about ‘Oh my crap.’  Do we say that?”  Seriously, where does she come up with this stuff?
“No, Kate, we don’t say that either.”
“How ’bout ‘What the crap.’ Is that okay?” In my mind I was thinking Yes, in certain situations, like when you can’t find the match for that stinkin’ kids shoe you JUST bought…

“No, honey, nothing with that word. Let’s think of another word to say.”
“We don’t say ‘hell’ either, right momma?” Now that’s tricky.  
“Well, we say it when we are really talking about hell.  That is a real place, and that is what we call it, but we don’t just say the word. Only when we are talking about the real hell.”
“So I can say ‘Oh my hell?'”
This continues through many shades of crap and hell, and by the end of it all, I am convicted because I think crap (while not a glorifying word) is sometimes the only one that sums it up. It’s kind of rebellious while not completely offensive.  However, it’s not one I want to hear my two year old repeating on the way to a pool date with our friend the Pastor.
A few years ago, I was putting Abby and Ellie to bed and we were doing our night-time routine. I like to ask them to think of one thing they are grateful for, one thing they want to pray for, and one thing they would like to apologize to God about.  Abby decides to go first, and starts by saying that she is grateful for colored chalk and bubbles.  Then, she says that she wants to pray for our neighbor, who wants to have another baby.  She pauses.
“Abby, is there anything you want to say ‘I’m sorry’ to God about?”
“Yeah. About me hitting Ellie today.”
“Okay, well then go ahead, because when you are done you will feel so much better.  You will have a clean slate! Isn’t that great?” She nods, closes her eyes, and puts her little palms together reflectively.
“Jesus, I am so sorry that I hit Ellie today, because that was wrong.”  My sweet Abby, humbling herself before the Lord…what a beautiful moment….
I see one of her eyes open into a little sliver.   She is looking at Ellie with a smirky little expression. This is about to go downhill.
“But, Jesus, you know I hit her because she took my dolly, and I really hope she will say I’m sorry about that and that you will forgive her for what she has did.” She closes her eye again and a little smile creeps across her face…mission accomplished. Apology, complete with justification and blame.  What a pleasing aroma to the Lord….
After stifling a snort-giggle, I made her do it over again, while explaining that when we come before the Lord, we must do it in humility, not righteousness. We need to seek Him, and not ourselves.  I always think of this story when I am praying for something and my own agenda sneaks in.  The past few weeks have had a lot of those moments.
We have these seasons in our lives where we take inventory and start to decide what needs to change, what needs to be worked on, and what we need to do to be a better steward of the gifts that we have been given.  I am right in the middle of my “inventory,” and it feels like I am starting to make some progress. I told Todd on the way to Georgia that I felt like God was preparing me for some kind of ministry, and I’m not all that sure how I feel about it.  Some parts of it I am comfortable with (I love writing, and I love Bible study.  I love being with people and living life together. I love Jesus, and the idea of being a part of anything that brings people to Him) and others I am not (public speaking, being in the spotlight, being open enough to draw criticism for my faith and my decisions).  I’m just so darned thin-skinned, and so worried about letting people down all the time.  God kindly told me to get over myself and be obedient.
So, after much prayer and trepidation, I have accepted my first speaking engagement (it’s in Lexington, KY on October 3rd in association with Southland Christian Church).  Please pray for me. I am a bundle of nerves, and have actually tried to back out a few times, but the Lord keeps telling me it is the right choice. Todd and the girls will be coming with me (that is part of the “deal” I made with God about these types of things…my family is my primary ministry, and I am not willing to be away from them), so that makes me feel a little better.  I have been crying a lot, but wanting so badly to be in God’s will. If you live in Lexington and you decide to come, just know that there is a good possibility you will see the keynote speaker throw up, so bring your camera phones. There is also a good chance you will discover that I am actually quite ordinary, and not nearly as exciting as you might have hoped:)
A few other prayer requests while I’m at it…
~I have started homeschooling Abby and Ellie.  I am really, really enjoying it.  It started out as something I wanted to do so that we could travel with Todd, but it has evolved into a sweet time with my girls. I am having a little trouble figuring out how to entertain Kate while I am teaching, and welcome any thoughts or suggestions about that (and homeschooling in general).
~I am so excited about “Stepping Up,” and am still in the process of working out the details. We may have found a church to host it!!!!!  I will keep you posted:)  I smile every time I think about meeting some of you face to face and digging deeper into the Word with you.  It is going to be a great time of fellowship, and from what I have heard, Beth knocks it out of the park again with this study.  It is seven weeks long, and has a pretty fair amount of homework.  I am also trying to figure out creative ways to make it feel interactive for those of you who do not live in Nashville.  I am going to start another blog for the study, and I am thinking about ideas for it.  There are many of you who are much smarter than me about this stuff, so feel free to email me if you have suggestions.
~I am potty-training Kate, and it isn’t going all that hot.  You know her well enough by now for me to spare you the gory details (Okay, just one.  She climbed up on our kitchen counter and pooped on it.) Let’s just say it is a battle of the wills, and I am losing.
This post is all over the place, isn’t it?  Oh well, that’s life I guess:)  If you have written me and haven’t gotten a response, please forgive me.  I have really had to limit the amount of time I spend in my email because I have started the school year with my kids.  I do hope you will continue to write, and know that it is a privilege I do not take lightly to be included as someone who can pray for you.  I do read your words, and I do pray.  It has been an incredible blessing to me to hear your hearts…thank you so, so much.
p.s. I wanted to let you know that Greg and Nicol have started a blog in honor of Luke.  If you want to, please stop by and feel free to reach out to support them. The address is: thelukesponbergfoundation.blogspot.com.
p.p.s.  I am in contact with a sweet woman who is expecting her fourth child. She is in the hospital, and is faced with a very difficult prognosis, although her beautiful faith is unwavering. Her blog is www.mycharmingkids.net. Please pray for her and her baby, Stellan.

Empty Pages

I love that a bunch of you commented on how great it was to see me smiling in the pictures I posted.  A couple of you said it seemed like I was getting my “spunk” back.  I feel like there are glimpses of it every day, but yesterday was really hard.
I found a notebook that I hadn’t seen around for a few months, and when I opened it I saw a page where I had been doodling potential baby names.  It must have been around November or so.  At first, there were boy names and girl names.  A few pages later, it was just girl names. Then it just said Audrey Caroline Smith.  
And there she was.
As the days passed, I kept notes about what I needed to be doing as I prepared for her. Fresh tears came as I saw my “lists.”  Mixed in with Christmas ideas for my friends and family were memos to myself about where I had found the best price on a stroller and what I was going to do to get Kate’s room ready for two kids instead of one.  I guess it was stuff that seemed important at the time.  A couple things were crossed off, but most of them weren’t; there just wasn’t time, I guess.
The rest of the notebook is blank.
I kept flipping back and forth between the words and the emptiness, thinking of all the ways that I would have rather filled the pages.  
One of the hardest things for me about losing Audrey is that I want to know who she was going to be.  I just wanted the chance to love her for a little longer.  I stare at her little face in pictures and sometimes I can’t do anything but curl up in a ball and miss her. So last night, that is what I did.  I just sat and missed her.
Many of you have sent me links to other people’s blogs because they have lost a child.  I want you to know that I go to every single one.  I don’t always comment, but I pray.  I look at the sweet family pictures and read people’s words of love and faith, and I weep alongside strangers because I know what it feels like to have a half-empty notebook. One of the hardest parts is the entry before the loss (if it was unexpected), because it seems like life is just so normal, no indication of what is just on the horizon.  You want to scream at the computer (or in my case, the notebook) like it’s an old movie where the heroine doesn’t see the villain, but you do. 
I looked at my words and I wanted so badly to be able to go to that girl, at that moment, and tell her that she didn’t need to rearrange the room.  She didn’t need to buy burp-cloths.  She had no idea. 
I had no idea.
I don’t know why this affected me so much, but I do know that last night, I fell asleep crying because I missed my sweet Audrey so desperately.  And I thought of Greg and Nicol and the way they were probably doing the same.  I thought about the fact that Luke’s little onesies were still in the laundry room and his diapers on the nightstand.
I can’t imagine what God must have felt when we walked into a small, unfamiliar ultrasound room months ago, and the pages went blank.  And tonight, the only thing I can think to say is a 5 word sentence that hurts to write.
I want them back, Lord.

I want my Audrey, safe and sound.

Sweet Luke, come back.

I’m not crazy, I know this can’t happen, not in this life.  But I am crying out for my baby, for our babies.  For all the pages…Oh Lord, why???
I don’t know how to say this in a way that adequately connotes what I felt last night and all day today, but I will try my best.  
It isn’t easy for me to write.  It isn’t easy because it makes me think through things I might rather leave undone, and it makes me vulnerable in a way that is humbling.  But, in some way that only God can make sense of, He is using you all to teach me about myself, and even about the way I love my daughter. She has inspired me to do something I never would have done before because of my own fear, and the beauty is that I have been so blessed in return.  You don’t even know me, and yet you take the time to send me letters, prayers, and encouragement. Because of this blog, I have seen how God’s people love.  
What a tremendous, beautiful gift you all have given me.
I kept thinking today about the symbolism of the empty notebook, telling the Lord how that image stings in it’s finality. I kept thinking about my faraway stranger-friends who encourage me to feel what I feel.  
I think I realize now what I didn’t last night, because of you.
The pages won’t stay empty forever.  They will be written in honor of Audrey, and in honor of Luke.  They will be written for every baby that has left this earth before mommy could tuck her in.  
I want to thank you, from the bottom of my heart for encouraging me to pick up my pen, to tap my keyboard, and to start to fill in the emptiness.  To love her with my words, and to share her when she couldn’t share herself.  
It has been a hard few weeks.  I know that God is in the midst of it, as He always is, but it hurts to be without them.
Thank you for your prayers, and for offering to be a part of our grief.
May you be blessed as richly in return.

Sweet Luke

Hello all.  I promise I will post more soon, but in the meantime, I want to introduce you to Luke.  He was such a beautiful, sweet boy and we all miss him terribly.
Please continue to pray as Greg, Nicol, and Summer try to figure out what life looks like without Luke.  Your words and prayers are more meaningful to them than I could possibly express here, and I want to thank you for extending yourselves on behalf of our family.
Luke with Nicol

Luke with Greg
Luke with big sis Summer
Precious boy…

We love you, baby boy.  

Memorial Service

Hello all.
Just wanted to keep you informed on Luke’s memorial service.  Visitation will be held tomorrow (6/2) from 2- 3 pm with memorial service following. Visitors are welcome and encouraged at both. The address is:
Grove Level Baptist Church
2802 Cleveland Hwy
Dalton, GA 30720
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to:
The Luke Sponberg Foundation
1209 Cleveland Rd. #198
Dalton, GA 30721
*Nicol and Greg are in the process of setting up Luke’s foundation…until further notice, please make checks out to Greg personally, as we are not sure when paperwork will be completed.  I will follow-up with details when they become available.
Also, I cannot tell you how much it meant to us to receive cards and words of love from you all. I would love for Greg, Nicol and Summer to have the same experience, so if you feel led, please send anything you would like to the above address.  We have saved all of ours, and treasure them so much…
I am so sorry about the impersonal nature of this post…I wanted to pass along this information, but don’t have time right now to say more.  I will try to post again later.  In the meantime, please keep praying…the last 2 days have been really difficult for Greg and Nicol.
You are more than welcome to join us tomorrow to celebrate Luke’s life andhelp us show our support for the Sponbergs.
With much love and many thanks,

Sweet Baby Lukie

(written on 5/30, posted on 5/31)

Today was one of the most difficult days of my life, but I can truly see the healing hands of God at work in all of us.  We spent about 4 1/2 hours at the funeral home together, making decisions about where to bury baby Luke (They have wisely decided to have him “held” here until they choose his final resting place).  This way, they can feel the Spirit’s urging to go where ever they feel He is calling, and then have Lukie join them there.

I was blessed to be able to see him today, and he looked so beautiful.  He just looked like a healthy, strong, big boy, ready to take on the world.  I had been worried about what that moment would feel like, looking at him in his little outfit in his tiny casket.  I felt great peace as soon as I walked into the parlor…he looked like himself to me, and that was a great comfort.  I ruffled his little hair up and talked to him for a few minutes about how much he was loved.  I held his hands and squeezed his little roly-poly thighs.  As everyone who had come to the funeral home made their way up to him, cries echoed throughout the room.  There were only a few of us, but we each spent time alone with sweet Luke. 
Often times the guttural, aching sounds gave way to hushed prayer, and I realized that this is the mark of the believer in this horrifying moment.  “Lord, I am empty, I am angry.  I want it to be different.  You could bring him back right this second if you so chose…but, it feels like for reasons we do not understand, you have chosen this instead….and so, we come humbly, barefoot, with our heads bowed, and we just ask for you to help us survive this grief.”  
If we didn’t need Him so much, we would all be tempted to turn our backs, I’m sure.
Today, that feeling has predominated my thinking…”I need you, I trust you, but I feel like you have failed me by letting them go.”  And then two breaths later, I am saying, “Oh Lord Jesus, come and mend.  Come and heal.  Only You can fix this disaster!”  What a strange balance.  At the end of the day it comes down to this, and for years, when I have been faced with any difficult situations, minor or major, I have told Todd that I have heard God said to me: 
Either you do or you don’t.
I can’t tell you how many times He has made it that simple.  Either you believe in Me, or you don’t.  There is no grey.  
And so today, locked in the embrace of my sweet sister-in-law, standing in front of her son’s casket, I had to answer…I do.
Nicol and I still bear wounds from our surgeries, and we have no babies to make the pain feel worth it….Lord, I do.
Nicol sang at Audrey’s funeral while holding Luke…that image has brought tears to my eyes, none of us knowing what was ahead…..I do.

I stared at his sweet face, and I kept wondering in my head, “What is she doing up there Luke? Tell me what she is like…who she is….what she loves…”  I do.
There are no words to express what my eyes have seen today, I feel that even attempting it would be a disservice. It was holiness I have rarely experienced, and I am grateful, so grateful to my Lord, Who loves us enough to make Himself known.
I know that for some of you, it may seem that “luck” is not on our side as a family, that we are victims of chance.  I want you to hear me say this loud and clear.
God Himself chose this to happen. Trust me, that is not the easiest sentence I have ever written, because I am human, and I am a grieving mother. I know that none of this is a surprise to Him. That doesn’t mean we don’t feel every bit of the loss, or that we just go about our lives because it’s all okay now.  It just means that we are steady in the belief that God knows what we don’t, and none of this changes Who He is.  None of it.
I am sure that people who do not trust in the Lord will be tempted to ask why such a great God would let us suffer so much. I am not going to pretend that I don’t ask that myself sometimes, but I will tell you this, and it has made all the difference.  
I ask Him.  
I don’t let myself “reason” through it, because I can’t.  I don’t let my anger fester too long, or I will, in my own weakness, crumble into nothingness.  I just cry out to Him and tell Him that I don’t understand, that I am angry, that I want answers.  I want to know why.  And He gives me momentary peace, and reminds me of the two words that drift around us we mourn.  
We do.
Luke’s memorial service is set for Monday at 3 pm.  Details will be posted when I have all of the information, but visitors are welcome.  
In the meantime, please keep praying.  And know that they are reaching us…not one of them is in vain.  Thank you,

May 29th

Thank you for your prayers.  That sentence just looks small to me; smaller than it feels.  We have felt the presence of those who are standing in the gap today, and we are all so grateful.
I wanted to post and give you a few more updates.  I am praying as I type that you will see past my muddled thoughts and let your heart make sense of my words.  I felt like I was too tired to say anything, but I really want to ask for your continued prayer in these days.  Greg and Nicol will be going to the funeral home tomorrow to make arrangements for Luke.  Please pray for strength, clarity in decision-making, and peace as they do this.  
Luke’s memorial service will be held on Monday.  I don’t know the details yet, but I will post more about it as they make decisions in the next day or so.
As parents, we are always looking for ways that we could have done things differently.  As Christians, we know that God doesn’t leave His throne.  There is an ugly middle road that Satan would love to make each of us walk, desperate to convince us that we could have prevented tragedy.  Please ask the Lord to make Himself so big that there is no room for questioning.  
I feel like there is so much more to say, and even as I have typed I have thought of many more things I would like to ask you to pray for.  I wish I had the energy to write every one of them, but I can’t keep my eyes open anymore.  I am praying that the Holy Spirit will whisper to you, and I want to thank you in advance for listening.  
Molly (my sister in law) and I went to Greg and Nicol’s house today to gather some things for them.  They haven’t been back yet, and I can’t imagine what it will feel like to be there again.  I just looked at all of his toys and his clothes and I felt like it couldn’t possibly be real.  How can he be gone? All his things in place, waiting for another day, and no Luke.  I kept thinking about what great parents they are, and they way they love their children.  I thought about what the night they lost him must have been like, and there was something in me that felt like giving up. 
There are moments where it seems hard to believe that a good, gracious God would allow us to hurt this way.  I have told Him so.  I have told Him a million things I wish He would have done differently, but tonight when I close my eyes, I will see the cross. I will rest in the sound of His sweet voice, reminding me that all is well in a place far away, where 2 babies are rejoicing together as they are reunited in the presence of the Lord.  
Audrey and Luke, I pray that you are dancing tonight as we rest.  We long to hold you again, to sing to you, to breathe the smell of your skin.  We long to parent you, but we know you are in far greater hands now.  I wish I could ask you what it is like…I long to see what you see.
For those of you who have followed my blog, you may remember that today was my due date with Audrey.  It was certainly a day marked my the feeling of loss, and yet enough grace to allow me to hope.  
Since Luke passed away on 5-27, I looked up that verse in the Bible.  It says “…Follow me,” Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.”  I choose to believe that in the moments when Luke was passing away, the voice of the Lord came quietly to him and asked him the same…no pain, no fear, just a still small voice in the night saying, “follow me, Luke.”  
That thought spurred me on today…”follow Me…follow Me…through the house, though the grief, through the memories., through the anger..follow Me.”  
Lord, in every decision we make and with everything we have to offer, let it be the cry of our heart to follow you….wherever you may lead us.
Thank you for helping us to take tiny steps in the direction of healing.  
Your words are so meaningful, and I want you to encourage you to write to Nicol and Greg at sponbergfamily@gmail.com.  I know they will find refuge there, in the prayers and encouragement of the faithful.  
Thank you so much for choosing to walk this with us.  We are more grateful than words can say.  
I will post again tomorrow to keep you all informed…
Thank you,

Update on Sponbergs

Just wanted to touch base and thank you for your prayers.  We are still operating under a veil of grief, not really knowing how to even begin to process what is happening.  We spent the day crying, praying, and just being with Nicol and Greg. There are absolutely no words to express what they are feeling. Everyone is here now, and I will continue to keep you updated as we have more specifics.  The details at this point seem to indicate SIDS, but we do not know for sure.
A few things that I would ask for you to specifically pray for would be:
1. Having to deal with the planning for Luke’s service, burial, etc.  I remember the strange feeling of knowing that I had to make choices and it felt like it was the farthest thing from what I felt capable of at that moment.
2. Pray that neither Greg nor Nicol will blame themselves for Luke’s death.  As parents, we can’t help but let ourselves drift into the dangerous land of “what if….?”  Where there is a sovereign God, there are no “what if’s”. Lord, remind them of this over and over as they rest tonight…
3. Pray for Summer. She is young, and I don’t think she really understands what is happening, although she is asking where baby Lukie is.  
4. Please pray for us as we try to minister to them.  The wound is fresh for us, and we long to minister to them the way we have felt ministered to recently. Pray for the right words and God’s timing as we try to help them in their planning, their processing, and their grieving.
5. Please pray for Greg and Nicol’s marriage.  I am remembering the days around Audrey, and the way the hurt transforms to anger, and the way that the anger lands on whoever is closest.  They spent the day peacefully together, but I want to pray that no divisions will rise up between them, and that they will feel fully united in their sorrow.
6. Pray for God to allow their grief to be distributed….as you read these words, you may feel called to volunteer yourself through prayer to be a “carrier” of their grief.  I asked the Lord many times since we found out about Luke if He would allow me to carry a portion.  I believe He as answered my prayer and I am convinced he will answer yours as well.
7.Pray for patches of joy in a bleak, seemingly hopeless fog.  
8.Pray that God would bless Greg and Nicol with erasing the memories from last night that they cannot stand to replay over and over in their minds.  Pray that God will erase the moments, smells, sounds of those terrifying moments, and that in their place will be a feeling of peace….peace that passes all understading.
9. Pray for those who do not know our great God…that the testimony and the hearts of Greg and Nicol would minister to them in such a difficult time.  Lord, draw them to Yourself.
10.  Pray. Pray. Pray.  
So many of you have walked with us, and I know you will desire to do the same with them.  You may want to send scriptures, prayers, thoughts, and support directly to them, so I have set up a new gmail account for you to send personal notes to Greg, Nicol, and Summer. 
the email address is:  sponbergfamily@gmail.com
Please feel free to love on them there…I don’t know when they will have the opportunity to read them, but I do know how much it will mean when they do.
Thank you for loving my family through this time.
I hope to have another update tomorrow with more details.  In the meantime, we find great peace in this, “We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express…” Romans 8:26
Our hearts are broken, our bodies depleted, and yet our hope is in our Stongtower…we will run to you, Jesus.