Thursday, September 30, 2010

Holden's Paradise

My very talented friend created this beautiful necklace, "Holden's Paradise", to auction off today.  All the proceeds will go to the Covenant Fund in Holden's honor.  The colors are so beautiful...I'm sure Holden is seeing all these vibrant colors everywhere!

Click on the picture above to go to her facebook site.  Thank you for all of your love and generosity towards other families who don't even know you.  That is such a picture of Christ's love.  We are truly honored.

C.H.A.S.E. Day!

Chase's precious life has such a purpose!  Today he has spent one year with his Jesus.  Let's honor him by sharing God's love through acts of random kindness.  Wouldn't it be amazing if everyone did something special for someone else today? 

In fact, we should never let our lives return to "normal"....why can't we spread God's love every day?  God loves us every day!!

Email your stories of love to
...Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My friend Amber

Photo by Maria Duncan Photography

I wrote this on 9/23/10, but am posting today:

As anyone who knows me knows, this year I have a TON of pregnant friends and/or friends who have had their babies. 46 in total, actually. So I was blessed to know a lot of prego girls and new mommies during my pregnancy. We bounced information off of each other and have shared in all of our woes and joys of pregnancy, and loved each others' babies. 2010 was just "Baby Year" around here.

I have one particular friend though, Amber, who was my "Pregnancy BFF". We go to Sunday School together, and were the closest in pregnancy similarities. She and I were both having boys in September, both first babies, both new to all things "mommy", etc etc. Our due dates were only a few weeks apart, so each time I went in for an appointment, Amber was soon to have the same kind of appointment shortly thereafter. When I would post pictures of Holden's nursery on my blog, she'd post pictures of Kaleb's. She and her precious son Kaleb, have been in my prayers every day for the past 7-8 months. Amber is a talented writer, and she wrote about our journeys together on her blog, The Englert Family News. (She explains it better than I can.) I am so grateful to the Lord for such a precious friend. She made my pregnancy just that much more special.

When Holden went to heaven, I thought about Amber and Kaleb a lot. I just prayed and prayed for my sweet friend, hoping she would have peace from the Lord. I knew it was a very stressful situation, since we had so many similarities in our pregnancies, up until that point. Amber made such a positive impact on me. She has been extremely sensitive to my feelings and has been incredibly loving and supportive, still. I have spent the past three weeks praying for a perfect, healthy arrival of her sweet baby boy.

Yesterday I got some of the best news ever; Amber and Justin were about to meet their Kaleb! They welcomed Kaleb Lee into their family on the first day of fall, September 22, 2010. He is a PERFECT 8 pounds and 20 inches. I am just so full of joy for Amber and Justin. 

Although Kaleb and Holden will not get to be buddies here on earth, I know one day, they will meet. Then they can talk about how their mamas had so many fun plans for them to be friends. Yes, I have to be honest...I am sad. I am sad that Amber and I won't get to discuss baby sleeping and eating habits. I am sad that Holden won't be at Kaleb's first birthday party. I am sad that Holden will not get to be on Kaleb's baseball team, or talk about getting their driver's licenses together when they are 16. But the joy I have for their family has greatly overshadowed the sadness I feel.

A huge, loving congratulations to some of the most wonderful parents in the world, Justin and Amber. I love you both, and Kaleb Lee, so very much. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your lives.

I was incredibly blessed to visit the Englerts in the hospital last week.  Kaleb melted my heart instantly, and Amber was truly the most glowing new mommy I have ever seen.  Being a mommy is something she is already so amazing at! 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

1 Month

“If I have a monument is this world, it is my son.” ~Maya Angelou

September 28

Precious Son,
You have been gone for a month now.  A whole month away from us, but yet experiencing unspeakable joy.  I am sure you don't even count time like your Mommy does, because you have an eternity to experience joy. 
If you were with Daddy and me, you would probably be sharing your first smiles and coos with us right now.  But you have been smiling every day of your life!  I know your Heavenly Father loves to see you smile. 
Many of your friends have been born this month.  They are all beautiful blessings, and one day you will get to meet them and know them.  
Amazing how much you have changed our lives in one month, Holden.  I have experienced a lifetime of loving you.  You are truly the best thing that has ever happened to your parents.
I live for the day that I get to hug and kiss you again.  Kiss those chunky cheeks. 
I'll hold you in heaven. 
I love you!

"Can this really be happening to us!?"  That what was racing through my mind a month ago.  It still enters my mind often.  Some days all of this is so surreal and I think I will just wake up and be done with the nightmare.  I will wake up and get ready to go to the hospital to have my son like "normal moms". 

A few days ago I decided to google "stillbirth".  Probably a very bad idea, but I just had to.  I'm addicted to google and felt like it would maybe help.  Most of the sites listed "poor prenatal care", "drugs", "alcohol" and "unknown" being the common causes.  Knowing those were not factors in our lives made me upset.  How could a perfectly healthy and cared for pregnancy turn out like this?  I had to google even longer before I finally came across something that stated "cord accidents".  I looked away from my computer screen and had to pray.  None of those things were factors, because Jesus has a reason for calling Holden home early.  We took care of him as well as we could for nine months, and now Jesus is caring for him forever. 

This month included so much change for our lives, I feel like it's actually been closer to 5 years.  Just one month ago I was not grateful enough about the privilege of swollen feet and pregnancy exhaustion.  One month ago, our greatest "problems" in life were so incredibly, sickeningly minor.  Oh how I wish I could go back in time and slap that Sarah in the face.  Really.  A stillbirth never even crossed my mind.  It's sad, but I really always thought stillbirths just happened to "those other people", like far, far away. 
Over the past month we have had to make funeral decisions instead of decisions on who's turn it is to cuddle with Holden, we have had to pick out a headstone instead of which onesie to wear, we have had to bury our most treasured gift instead of discussing who swaddles him better, we have had to watch our first Tech game without our Little Raider, we have had to dismantle a room we spent days and months making perfect.  We have had to learn how to trust God in dealing with grief and emotions we did not think possible.  We have had to learn how to comfort each other, even when we needed comforting ourselves.  We have had to stop being so selfish.  We have had to lean on our wonderful family and friends in Christ. 

Even though we have experienced the darkest days and hours in our lives, we have still known more hope than ever.  The hope is simply something I cannot describe.  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 and .....we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. Titus 2:13 
I must say, hope does not diminish pain though. 

Chet and I still ask, "Why us God?  Why not the poor child who is born into an abusive family?  Why not the child born into the arms of a drug addict?  Why not the child born into starvation in Haiti?  How about that mom at Wal-Mart yelling at her six barefooted kids?"  Recently it dawned on me, we do not deserve anything special!  Why not us to get a precious son who we did not deserve, even just for nine months?  Why not us to get to feel indescribable love?  Why not us to have our hearts touched in a way that they never were before?  Why not us to learn the toughest lesson of all, that everything belongs to the Lord, even our children?  Why not us to understand our salvation better?  Why not us to get changed hearts?  We do not deserve anything special.  Yet, we were still given the life of Holden. 

Even though I don't know if I could ever honestly say I am "okay" with my son not being here with me, I can say it is a privilege that God allowed this to happen to us.
A month later, I still wish I could change the outcome and have Holden in my arms.  He would be smiling and working on holding his head up by now.  Chet and I would be so in awe of every little movement and expression from him, we'd probably need a new computer to just contain all of his pictures.   But I have to admit that there has been more positive change in our lives in the past month, than in our whole lives.  God has worked so much in my fragile heart.  I love in a way I never loved.  I pray like never before.  I don't even feel like the same person I was a month ago, because I am not.  God's ways are perfect.  Thank you Jesus for giving us the best gift of all, your salvation.  By that amazing and undeserved promise of eternal life, we will meet our precious Holden in the clouds one day. 

Chet and I are smiling more.  Prayers, time, love and the overwhelming peace of God works miracles.  Thank you precious friends for covering us in never-ending love for the past month.

Happy 1 month birthday, sweet son. (Isn't that such a blink compared to eternity?)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Love Notes

This Friday and Saturday our church hosted Ryan and Michele Dalgliesh.  Ryan, author of Love Notes, presented the Love Notes Marriage Conference.  Going in to this conference, we were excited, but we were not prepared for how much our marriage would change in just one weekend. 

Wow.  What a blessing it was in our lives.  Ryan used all Scripture to allow us to take an honest perspective and look into our marriages, and relationships with other people in general.  I can truly say I have a much deeper knowledge of how a Godly marriage needs to be.  I highly recommend Love Notes to all married (and even unmarried) couples.  Ryan helped us break down and apply 1 Corinthians chapter 13.  We all know it, probably have it memorized, but do we really let it change out lives??  Love NEVER fails.  If we are to mirror our marriages after God's love for us, then we need to love and forgive like Jesus does.  I am convicted and thankful for this wonderful reminder. 

On Saturday night, the couples who attended got together for a "Date Night".  We were able to practice the principles we learned.  What a fun evening of worship (Aaron Wagner was our worship leader all weekend...check him out...awesome worship music), games (Chet and I even won the game we played!), fellowship, dinner and a movie.  Chet and Billy took lots of pictures of the games, but for the sake of the participants, I will not post them on my blog. ;)  I am so glad Reid and Jaci had the idea of hosting Love Notes at our church.  I'm already looking forward to Love Notes 2011, because I know we will get even more from it the second time.  AND...I'm going to make sure everyone I know comes to it. :) 

Ryan's website is

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.  When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.  Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.  And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Covenant Foundation-Children’s Interment Fund

So many of you have asked what the Covenant Foundation-Children's Interment Fund is, and why we had asked that donations be made there in lieu of flowers.  It is a fund set up by the Covenant Foundation in Lubbock, that assists families who lose their babies, with funeral costs.  If a family loses their baby due to stillbirth or early problems, the fund will carry part of the funeral service expenses. 

If you have ever been through something as terrible and heartwrenching as losing your child, you know how incredibly helpful it is to not worry about much of the funeral cost as well.  It is a burden lifted. 

We had never, ever imagined that we would be burying our son.  We only had great hopes of bringing him home in his car seat, in one of the 20 different outfits we had packed for him.  We drove up to the hospital with only JOY in our hearts.  That is what all families dream of when they go into labor.  You just don't expect to be faced with the burden of funeral expenses, on top of medical bills, for a child you have loved and dreamed about for nine months. 

The people who run the Covenant Foundation are some of the most considerate, loving, caring people you will ever meet.  They have a job that truly does touch families.  Thank you so much for the amazing generosity you have poured out.  Just know that you will help a family, like us, who doesn't even know you.  During their grief and sorrow though, they will greatly appreciate what you have done for them. 

Monday, September 20, 2010


Today was my first day back at work.  I felt like I was starting my first day at a new job.  Sleep has already not been my best friend, especially in the past 3 weeks; last night I really didn't sleep more than an hour.  I got myself out of bed very early, stared at my closet for thirty minutes before deciding what to wear, drank 5 cups of coffee, and then slowly got started with my morning.  I am extremely grateful for all of you who were praying for me, because I needed your prayers so I didn't just turn right back around and get back in bed. 

I cried the whole way to work...I took a longer drive to work than usual, trying to get myself together.  All I could think of was that I had planned on being away from work for at least six weeks, with my baby.  I had never planned on taking three weeks of "vacation" for the three hardest weeks of my life. 

Thankfully, God's peace just covered and surrounded me as I was pulling up to WTC.  I felt a lot better by the time I got my WTC vehicle and drove up to my office.  In fact, I was laughing by the time I saw my sweet co-workers.  (God has a sense of humor...I just love WTC's quirks...)  Work was busy, which was a blessing.  I needed it!  I felt good and accomplished by 5:00pm.  Yes, getting back to my normal work schedule will be a good thing for me.

I've been consumed with this thought: I am a planner.  I will always be a planner.  My iPhone's calendar can attest to this fact.  I will literally add the silliest things to my calendar- "pick up kleenex", "thaw steaks out tonight", "send so-and-so a birthday card by today", etc.  I plan every detail of my life.  Or so I thought. 

When we got pregnant 10 months ago, I just had my whole life planned out so "perfectly".  I have always liked to think I am the one in control of my life.  Every detail is planned to the "t".  Chet and I got married...but only after I graduated from Tech.  I planned most details of our wedding, marriage, etc.  We waited to have kids at least two years after getting married.  (September 2010 baby would be perfect, right?!)  We were going to have 1 or 2 of our biological kids, and pray about adopting a child.  I felt very good about "my plans".  I had already planned on who would be watching Holden when I went back to work, the day after we found out we were pregnant!  For nine months I planned for Holden's life with us.  I loved planning and planning and planning.  Being a mom was the best thing I'd ever planned for.  It would all be absolutely perfect. 

Well, August 28, 2010 was not in my plans.  It crushed all my plans.  It crushed me.  Being a mom to a baby I could raise was no longer in my life's plan.  How could the most important "plan" in my life be taken away?  Was it because I really was not in control of my life?  How unfair...and .... and .... perfect??!  I haven't wanted to think of this as "perfect".  How could me not holding my son be perfect?  MY plans are perfect!  Being a MOM was perfect! 

Jeremiah 29:11, one of the most cliche and used verses in today's society, has been on my heart every day for three weeks.  I actually hate to admit this, but because Jeremiah 29:11 has been so popular in Christian culture, I feel like it was "overused".  (Yes, that is an awful thing to admit!  Scripture cannot ever be overused!); that is why I never really let it sink in.  Today I let Jeremiah 29:11 sink into my heart.  FOR I KNOW THE PLANS I HAVE FOR YOU, DECLARES THE LORD, PLANS TO PROSPER YOU AND NOT TO HARM YOU, PLANS TO GIVE YOU A HOPE AND A FUTURE. 

He has given me a hope and a future.  His ways are perfect.  And his PLANS are perfect...they are higher than we can even think.  Each detail of Holden's sweet life was perfectly planned.  He planned on Holden only enjoying eternal joy and happiness.  My plans would not have been able to provide that.  He planned on Holden changing his Mommy and Daddy to be better Christians.  My plans did not make that a priority. 

I am so blessed to serve a God who has unfathomable love for us in each of His plans.  He allows glory and beauty to arise from all the "unplanned".  I may not understand His plans for us.  I can only be thankful that His ways are perfect and His plans are the very best.

I opened my iPhone calendar at work this morning.  I hadn't added a plan in three weeks. 

Thank you for the prayers.  I love y'all.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sleeplessness and laundry

I woke up many times last night, wishing I was waking up with my sweet Holden.  This morning I read many facebook statuses complaining about waking up with a baby in the middle of the night and/or waking up to too much laundry because of the baby.  I would have probably said those things too, not very long ago.  I ache to wake up 10 times in the middle of the night to hold my baby, and then open my eyes to 10 loads of dirty baby clothes in the morning. 

I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD. 1 Samuel 1: 27-28

Thank you Lord for taking care of our Holden! 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Give Thanks

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

In Thessalonians, Paul did not instruct us to be thankful for only the "good" things.  He said "in every thing" give thanks.  Autumn always reminds me of thankfulness.  Never in my life have I had so much to be thankful for.  What an extreme blessing we were given this year to become parents.  I can't think of anything on earth that deserves more thanks to our Lord!  I also know so clearly how our most precious moments can be taken from us in an instant.  I hope I can live a life more grateful of what I have, and truly enjoy each precious moment. 

I am so ready for the weather to start acting like fall, so today I decided to go through our storage shed to look for some autumn decor.  I have hopes that the the weather might get the hint as well.  Well, after putting some of the pumpkins on our mantle, I decided the mantle needed a fresh look.  We had some black paint in the voila!  I really like our new black mantle.

As you can see, I clearly do NOT possess an ounce of decorating abilities, and probably should be forbidden from all projects like this...especially posting pictures of them on the internet.  But I still like the autumn feel in our home now.  It made me smile.  :)  [I've never been gifted in the decorating department.  I blame my twin sister, who apparently took all the craftiness and decorating genes in the womb.  Many a day I have wanted to hire a professional decorator.  Today was one of those days.] 

It was a busy day.  I am so thankful for my many wonderful friends and family who have lifted us up. 

We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. 1 Thessalonians 1:2

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dear Holden,

"I Can Only Imagine" was playing on the radio earlier this evening.  I can only imagine what it will be like on that day when I will be re-united with you, precious baby.  Meeting our Saviour and getting to see you again...what a day.  I can only imagine. 
Mommy has had lots of time to think about you for the past 18 days.  I thought about my pregnancy with you the most today.  You were such a good baby!  We worked a lot together this hot summer, and you were just comfy and content.  I'm so proud of you son!  I am re-living each moment I had with you in my heart.  All of your sweet kicks, all of your sweet punches and rolls.  Even the nausea and tiredness in our first few months together meant you were healthy.  I want to read another book with you.  I am SO blessed to be called your mommy.  I know each second we had together was absolutely priceless.

What an honor more than words that God would allow me to have such a precious gift as you, even for such a short time.  I am so blessed. 
As I looked in the mirror today, I actually thanked God for my body.  This body was your womb home, the only home you knew on earth.  How special is that?!  The stretched skin was where you once were growing so big and healthy. 

I thought I would be taking pictures of you sleeping on your exhausted Daddy's chest by now.  I know you are in the loving arms of your Heavenly Daddy though. 

I love you more than ever.  I love you so much it hurts.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Holden's Sunset

A dear friend of mine captured the sunset in Snyder on the evening we laid Holden to rest, just two Tuesdays ago.  She mentioned that she didn't edit or photoshop them, and that we could if we wanted to.  I don't think we could possibly edit God's glory like this.  What a gift from our Saviour. 
Please enjoy Holden's Sunset: 

I am in awe.  It is something like this that takes my breath away in love for my God.  Thank you so very much, Rebecca, for capturing our Creator's majesty on Holden's special day. 

Yesterday was a day that I really don't want to relive.  Ever.  I know days like that are to be expected, and will probably come for the rest of my life.  It can be more overwhelming than I can express...that every single thing in my life reminds me of a baby I am not holding in my arms.  Spending time off work, at my house, NOT with my sweet son, is something I really struggle with on a daily basis.  Good thing I serve a God so much mightier than I, because He lifts me up.  (2 Corinthians 12:29 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.)
Yesterday was a day I had to pray for His strength all day.  To be honest, the Spirit interceded on my behalf. (Romans 8:26-27 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.)  Being someone who is always very genuinely happy, such incredibly painful and sad emotions are something I am really learning to deal with. 

Words are so powerful, dear friends.  I'm learning and living that more and more every single day.  A simple encouter with encouraging, loving people can brighten my day.  On the flip side, being around negative people can turn my day dark pretty quickly.  In Satan's toolbox are thoughts of depression, doubt, bitterness and fear....I am amazed how much words can be tools for God or tools for Satan, especially during an emotional experience this great.  If you have had to tearfully pick out a head stone for your precious child's grave, if you have had empty arms and an empty crib in your home, if you have had every single memory flood you with "what would've been", if you ache every moment to kiss your baby's can understand and feel the power of words.  Thank you to all of you who have been encouraging, uplifting and wonderful examples of faith in my life.  You are sacred to me. 

This song by Selah was what I woke up to this morning.  God's love and PEACE wrapped around me. 

The cruelest world
The coldest heart
The deepest wound
The endless dark
The lonely ache

...The burning tears
The bitter nights
The wasted years
Life breaks and falls apart

But we know these are
Places where grace is soon to be so amazing
It may be unfulfilled
It may be unrestored
But when anything that's shattered is laid before the Lord
Just watch and see
It will not be unredeemed
For every choice that led to shame
And all the love that never came
For every vow that someone broke
And every lie that gave up hope
We live in the shadow of the fall
But the cross says these are all
Places where grace is soon to be so amazing

It may be unfulfilled
It may be unrestored
But when anything that's shattered is laid before the Lord
Just watch and see
It will not be unredeemed

Places where grace is soon to be so amazing
It may be unfulfilled
It may be unrestored
But you never know the miracle the Father has in store
Just watch and see
It will not be
Just watch and see
It will not be unredeemed

Places where grace is soon to be so amazing.  It may be unfulfilled.  It may be unrestored.  But you never know the miracle the Father has in store.  Just watch and see.  It will not be unredeemed.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Beauty Will Rise

Out of these ashes.... beauty will rise.  What a difference a song can mean when it fits into your life so much.  A friend sent us a CD with this song on it.  I'd heard it many times on The Message (it's all I listen to), but not since August 28th.  This Steven Curtis Chapman song has a different meaning now.

Looking back on our lives just 15 days ago, I can see so much beauty rising from Holden's short life on earth.  Today I am just going to post some beauty in our lives that has been given to us by the Lord through this experience.

* We love the Lord in an entirely new light.  I believe you MUST be a parent to fully know the love God has for us.  It is something Chet and I discussed on our walk today.  God sent His PERFECT Son to die a horrible death for us.  There is not one person I'd ever let my son die for willingly, and He didn't send His Son to die for the "nice" people either.  He died for us.  Sinners.  I had never, ever been so grateful and incredibly in awe of my salvation as I have, now that I have had my own son.  We serve an awesome fact, there is no adjective to describe our Saviour. Beauty will rise.

* Our faith has been strengthened in a way I would not have even thought imaginable.  It is really easy to "talk" faith, but really walking it is life-changing.  I had always said and believed, "My baby belongs to the Lord", when I was pregnant.  Now I have to walk that faith daily.  Holden DOES belong to the Lord.  He has always belonged to his Heavenly Father.  We were just given the ultimate blessing and privilege to be his parents for a short time on this earth.  My faith has also been strengthened in the simple fact that it is really easy to become depressed, fearful and discouraged during such a loss.  I have had to rely on the Lord to overcome all of those things; I have to pray for this on a daily basis.  Sometimes hourly basis. Beauty will rise.

* Our love for other people has grown immensely.  We are surrounded by amazing, wonderful friends and family.  I know I never appreciated them enough.  Wow-something like this make you realize how much their support and love mean to you.  I know I will never look at my relationships the same way. Beauty will rise.

* Our love for each other is deeper than it ever has been.  Without my precious husband, I don't believe I could have gone through this.  He's been unwavering and a rock by my side.  To see him become a Daddy made me love him in a way I never knew I could love him.  It is so sweet for a mommy to hear her husband and daddy of her child, say sweet things about her baby.  When he says, "I really didn't know I would feel that way when I saw Holden" and "It was the best feeling in the world to hold him and get to dress him", my heart melts.  We have had to be each others encouragers when everyone is gone and it is just us.  Chet has had to put up with me crying for hours on end, had to help me physically in many crazy ways (be prepared all you ladies who've never been pregnant before lol!) and...he still loves me.  I am SO thankful every moment that God brought Chet into my life nearly 6 years ago.  Good thing I wasn't left up to choosing my life partner!  I love you Chet! Beauty will rise.

* Our prayer life is 180 degrees is humbling and embarrassing for me to admit that we did not have a prayer life that we should have had.  We'll probably never have a perfect prayer life.  But we have realized how powerful prayers are in a new way.  I know we have a better relationship with our Saviour because of this.  I find myself "talking" to the Lord about all of our life now.  I had let my prayer life become a terrible "please do this", "thank you for this", "please help so and so", and that was about it.  Now I know I need God in everything.  Everything. Beauty will rise.

* I know what is important in life.  My priorities are not even remotely the same.  I think that speaks for itself.  Beauty will rise.

* People we know-and don't know-have told us that Holden's life has touched them and changed them.  If I could only write how much this means to us.  Beauty will rise. 

Precious, sweet baby boy, all of this has changed in Daddy and Mommy's lives because of your precious life.  Although you are not in our arms, you are in our hearts.  I know beauty will rise because of you.  It has already started rising.  I miss you more than words, but I know that your life has a purpose.  It always did.    

I would like to say that I am completely happy and perfectly fine all the time, but that would be a huge lie.  I would do anything to be able to rock my son to sleep, kiss his face, hold him and never let go, read to him, feed him, pray with him, watch him try to hold his head up (isn't that what babies do around 15 days old?) change his diapers and do everything else mommies and babies do.  But we are changed for the better through all of this.  Completely and utterly changed.  Beauty WILL rise.

Note:  It's almost tough for me to blog after reading through so many wonderful blogs like Chelsea Jacobs'. I hope that you can read her blog. Her beautiful words are obviously Christ-led. Chase's life is so purposeful!  Please check out the amazing things His Chase Foundation is doing for children around the world. 
And please don't read my blog too closely...I don't even edit these posts....and is there a spell-check on blogs? :)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

2 weeks

I have been given so many blog addresses and websites, and plan to read them all one day....but God must've known what I needed today.  It has been a very tough morning for me, and I just decided to go to this particular blog.  I have basically cried through pages of the beautiful Jacob's family journal.  They too lost their precious son, Chase, due to a cord accident on September 30, 2009.  They've been on a similar journey as we have.  Chelsea is amazing.  Be encouraged:

Friday, September 10, 2010

This whole week Tisha stayed with us. What an encouragement and help she was! I am already missing her a lot. :'( She basically pampered me and took care of so much stuff here at the house. My cat even decided she liked her more than me. ;) She and Jimmy Jim have helped us and loved us more than parents.

We met with our amazing doctor this morning in Lubbock. It was probably one of the most difficult days I've had in two weeks. She is such a precious doctor, and this appointment was our last one, until I visit her next year. It made the past 9 months, and this past two weeks all come to such a "final" place...can't really describe it. It is crazy how people can come into your life and they really become part of your family. I feel like Dr. Perales will always be a big part of our family. She may just get an unexpected visit or two from us before next year. Good news is that I am physically healing well.

My sister is coming to stay with us tomorrow, so I am very happy about that!

We have continually been lifted up in prayers and love by our friends. We are so encouraged by all of them. I am still in awe of the never-ending love we are shown. Being on the receiving end of blessings so much is really humbling.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. Psalms 61:2

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Can you feel the love?

I decided to blog about some love we've been shown.
This is the beautiful canvas of my letter to Holden from Kasey. The pretty pink flowers that fill our flower bed from our Sunday School class.

Blue flowers are so pretty to me. I think it's just the rarity of blue in the flower world that I find so fascinating. :)

Stormy, my best friend who is like a sister, made this necklace for me to wear to Holden's service. It is made of the colors in Holden's room. It was an honor for me to have something so perfect to wear to my son's service.

Sweet Theresa made me this plaque of the Fruits of the Spirit. What a great reminder it is to me. I just smile every time I look at it....

Now on to some photos Chet and I took yesterday afternoon. We felt the love of our Saviour in the fresh West Texas air. We took the dogs to the park and they LOVED it!
Here is the sunset last night behind our house. Not a colorful one, but it still showed our Creator's majesty!

Sunflowers have abounded this summer. They've thrived in the heat and sun!

Had to take some of my little princess. She does not appreciate Daddy clicking that camera in her face during nap time. ;)

Nap time is so perfect without Daddy and his camera.

Luke just LIVES for chasing balls! Look at him smiling.

Our sweet Luke. This makes me smile. :)

Getting out in the sunshine with our dogs was a great break. Rusty and me.

Hi Mommy!

Rusty wishing we'd let him go chase a squirrel!

More water...mmm..mmm...water!

Quit waking me up from my naps please Daddy!

So those are some things that make me happy!!
Today was Holden's 'official' 40 week due date. When I woke up, I realized that "today" was a day we counted from for so long. I have actually smiled with most memories of Holden today. Yes, I have cried. I'll probably always cry when I remember my precious baby; but I was able to smile when I thought of him. It is so wonderful for me to smile. I know he prefers to look down on his Mommy smiling. Motherhood has changed me so much. 40 weeks ago God blessed us with the greatest blessing on earth. Nothing even compares....nothing.
Tisha came today to help me out and relax with us. It was a huge blessing to say the least! I haven't felt physically up to par, so it was extra awesome having her here! I was able to look through the many photos they took of our son. What a blessing it is that they documented his birthday so beautifully. I am in awe...nothing more special in the world to a mommy than that. We also had many sweet visitors today...what a great way to spend the day!

Monday, September 6, 2010

You Deliver Me

I've been listening to You Deliver Me by's filled with truth and hope. Our Saviour DOES and WILL deliver us!

Today has been the most physically exhausting and painful for me. I think my body is finally catching up with all of this past week. It's definitely been the most incredibly long week of our lives. I woke up yesterday for Sunday School completely disoriented with days. I think time has really been the craziest paradox throughout this journey. It feels like just an hour ago that I was feeling my baby's sweet and priceless movements; yet it feels like a year ago that we said our goodbyes. I cannot believe it's only been 9 days since we held our son. I feel like I've experienced a lifetime of missing him. I really pray for strength to deal with time and "normalcy" better. I've always been someone who was decently proud of myself for controlling my emotions and time management. I realize that is far from reality.

I do not know how people are able to live without Christ during tragedies. I do not realize how people live without Jesus' hope and promise of eternal life through something like this. I know for a fact I would not be here without His promises! We may not see Holden for years, but we WILL see him again!

Yesterday was the first Texas Tech football game of the season. As you know, Holden is a big Tech fan. We had planned on being with our son yesterday, watching his first game as a family. Well, Holden watched his first game from heaven, but I know he still had his Guns Up! :) This is a picture of him taken in March. He's been a Tech fan his whole life. My little guy has been filled with Tech stats from his Daddy for the past nine months...I'm sure he was heaven's own ESPN Game Day announcer. ;) Our sweet friends (and pastor), Reid and Jaci Johnson, took us to the game. At first I didn't think I would be able to handle it. I've not done too well doing normal things lately, but I really feel it was better than sitting alone in our living room watching it. We had a great time with them.... and we pulled off a win!! (It was sketchy during that last half...I think the Johnsons are wary of ever inviting us to a game again. lol) Thank you very much Johnsons! It really is a blessing to be surrounded by people who love us, especially at a time that was really emotional for both Chet and me.

We have a precious friend, Kasey Boatright, who made us a canvas of the letter I wrote to Holden. I was speechless when I opened the package this morning. What a gift it is! It is things like this that humble me every day. We'll have this letter with us, in such a beautiful format, forever now. Thank you Kasey.

Thank you all for continuing to lift us up in prayers! I know it has been a long time ago for most of you. But to us it is still so raw and life-changing. Your prayers carry us and deliver us.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

1 Week

Precious son, you've spent one week with your Jesus. I am secure in the fact that you are enjoying unmatchable happiness and joy. I love you and miss you with every cell in my being.

One week ago today we drove to Lubbock full of antipation and excitement. One week ago today we were brought to a low I would not have thought possible. One week ago today we were also brought to a higher ground.

I love you so much Holden!


Chet and I prayed about sharing this with our family and friends. Jim and Tisha Shuffield captured our son's birthday so beautifully. It's been healing for us; maybe it will touch others as well. The Shuffields, who are my family, along with our other family members: Charys, Stormy, James Allen, Carrie and Leigh Ann (Chet's mom) are in this video. Our nurse Harriett is holding our son in one slide. They were all a part of the most special day of our lives. We love you all!

Holden from Jim Shuffield on Vimeo.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Need to smile?

Our kitty makes us smile. :) Jimmy Jim took this funny picture of Henri this week! It sure made us laugh!

Indescribable Love

Photo by Shuffield Photography

There are no words for the feeling a parent has when they meet their child for the first time. I had heard that and believed it; I just couldn't feel it. Last Saturday we felt indescribably love. At 6:38pm Chet and I were filled with a love that I will never, ever be able to write about. All the books in the world cannot describe that love.

The journey that started a week ago has broken us, strengthened us, and brought us to a place we didn't even know existed. Our son has touched people we don't even know. I think that is the most amazing gift through all of this...knowing our Holden has touched people in a way that we never will be able to.

"Why?" Not a moment goes by that we haven't asked that. In our selfish way, we can't help but want our son back. Every single moment I want my son back in my arms. But we know our Lord and Saviour has His loving arms wrapped around our son. His ways are so much mightier and higher than our ways. He has an amazing and PERFECT plan. A friend told me the day we said goodbye to Holden [for the time being], "The first time Holden opened his eyes he saw JESUS!" We, as Christians, can only imagine that unfathomable moment when we see our King! Our precious son saw his Jesus the first time he opened his eyes!! What a peace that gives me. He has only known unspeakable JOY. He will NEVER endure the hardships this earth has to offer. Yet, I will still ask why. I may always ask why. We miss Holden more than I thought possible.

I have wanted to start writing people back and telling them how meaningful their messages, cards, phone calls and notes are to us. It just overwhelms me though, and I can't start writing, because I just cry and cry. You really just don't realize how much you need to lean on people until your life is completely crushed. I wish people could understand how much we want to thank them from the bottom of our hearts for praying for us and being there for us. We really need all of the prayers every single moment. I can't express the amount of gratitude we have for our loving friends and family. The outpouring is tremendous. Today I found out that our dear friends have almost sent in enough support to the Covenant Foundation-Children's Interment Fund in Holden's honor, to help another family just like ours!

This afternoon has been very hard on me (us). We are nearing one week from the day we met our precious son face to face; the day our world was changed forever. Last Friday, I felt Holden's little kicks and movements. We went to bed without a thought that everything we had planned on, loved and known would be utterly different.

I am just going to start writing about our story this evening. I hope it will help. This is a letter I wrote to our son just hours after he went to be with his Jesus. I wrote it on my iPhone, during the deepest emotional state I have ever been in, laying in that hospital bed:

Dear Holden Newell Erwin,
Our precious son.
Little did we know that our lives would never, ever be the same because of you. On December 30, 2009, we were given the best news in the entire world; sweet son, we found out the Lord was blessing us with the gift of life, you. Mommy had a dream about being pregnant with a little boy, so she took 13 tests. All told us we were carrying your life. We were very surprised and couldn't be happier. Instantly we started dreaming about our lives with you.

Every single day we obsessed about you. Were you a girl? A boy? What would you be like? Look like? But most importantly we just prayed you would be healthy.
We prayed for guidance as parents. Baby, we knew we would need all of the Lord's help in caring for you and giving you a Godly home!

God provided us with a wonderful Christian doctor for you and your care, Dr. P. The first time we saw your precious heartbeat, ours skipped. I haven't ever been so in love. This is a feeling that no person who hasn't been a parent can understand. Your strong, beautiful heartbeat was life!

As each day passed, we grew in such love for you, our son. I can't think of one minute you were not on our minds and hearts. Each ultrasound and doctor appointment was something we treasured! You were perfect in every single way on that black and white screen.

17 weeks along was when we found out you were our SON. It was a day I'll never forget. We both wanted a son so very much, and there are just no words to describe the closeness we already felt with you.  We named you Holden Newell. Newell is your grandpa's name. He is an amazing man, and you two will love each other when you meet one day!

Your movements started out as the sweetest little flutters. I cherished every one of them. Soon you started growing and I felt stronger and bigger movements. One thing I never felt throughout our treasured 38 weeks and 5 days with you was pain though. Other mommies complained of jabs causing discomfort. You never kicked me in a way that was painful. You always have been like your daddy, mellow and kind.

We saw the most beautiful face in the world, the cutest, big hands like your daddy and seriously chunky cheeks like both of your parents during your ultrasounds.

You are already blessed with so many friends and family who love you so much! I know you had to have felt the love they poured out on you! Your baby shower was the most incredible shower we've ever seen, and that was just a small taste of the love people had for you, little Holden.

We were happier than anything that you grew each day, bigger and stronger. When we were 32 weeks along, I said many grateful prayers for bringing you as far as He did. Then you surprised us all and stayed in your womb home for another 7 weeks!

Everything we did in the past 9 months was for you and because of you; and we would do it all over again. Nothing was done in our hearts and lives without you in mind!

August 28, 2010 I felt your most amazing movements in the morning, the things I loved more than anything about my days. I also felt contractions, so your Daddy and I thought it would be good to go to the hospital in case we were to meet you face to face.

You know I cannot write about how much we love you honey, and how much we wanted to hear your strong heartbeat that day. But at 11am, we found out you had already gone to be with your Heavenly Father. You have a purpose in heaven right now; although that is something we will never understand.

The gift of your life in our lives, for 38 weeks and 5 days, changed us. We are always and forever, every single second of our lives going to be thankful for the precious moments we had to be your parents.

The Lord gave us the opportunity to love you, even if it wasn't as long as any of us dreamed.
At 6:38pm, you entered this world, the most perfect 7 lbs. 5 oz., 21 inches that ever was. We held you and loved you for 5 hours; the best and hardest hours of our lives. Your brave Daddy helped give you your first bath and dressed you, like a pro. You had many visitors who said prayers and poured their love on our family.

You have long, dark hair, your daddy's big hands and feet, your daddy's chin and cheeks, and your mommy's nose. Where did all your dark hair come from? Your know your Mommy and Daddy were bald when they were born?

You smelled so sweet. Your skin was so soft and flawless.

Even though we were given the privilege to be your parents on earth for such a short time, it was worth every second. Just to get to know you for 9 months is worth the pain of having to let you go so soon.

We know our goodbye to you was not a forever goodbye. We have the sacred promise to meet you again.

Holden Newell, you made our family. You'll always be our family. We love you with every part of our being.

One day we will get to be with you again. We will learn about your personality, your heart, and who you are. We will all be re-united as a family. Until then, we just have to pray for strength and joy as we need to realize you're in the very best Hands.

We love you!
~Daddy & Mommy

Chet wrote this letter to our son on Monday. He and I were given the opportunity to place these letters in his little casket and kiss his face once more on Monday:


I am writing you this letter so that Jesus may read it to you whenever you ask about your mother and I. We want you to know that we loved you more than we could have ever imagined we could love anyone or anything. We were so excited to see your face and hold you that Saturday afternoon. I know you never saw us, but we did get to hold you during the night. We smiled when we saw you got your mommy's nose and my cheeks, chin and hands. You also had your Uncle Joel's large feet. So big that when I dressed you for the first time, the Double T socks we brought almost didn't fit. The last nine months all we have done is imagine what you would be like, act like, and grow up to be. Fortunately for you, you will never have to suffer one ounce of pain or sad emotion here on earth like the rest of us. We cannot wait to get to Heaven and see you again, hold you, kiss you, maybe throw the ball around.
We send you to Heaven with the first outfit we ever bought you and a picture of all three of us the last time together and happy. We don't know why God decided to call you home so early, but we know that Heaven just got a little bit better. Now we just wait for our time to come see you again. Until then, please know that we love you and think about you every day.

I love you so much! Love, Daddy

Holden's Story:
I want to say that our stay at the hospital was completely directed by God. The moment we arrived at the hospital, nurse Harriett met us. She became a special part of our family that day. I'm sure many nurses are caring and go "above and beyond", but the Lord brought Harriett into our lives on Holden's birthday, because she is the best. Dr. P is the most caring and compassionate doctor that exists. I cannot even tell you how much her presence in our lives over the past nine months, and especially this past weekend, has changed us. She is someone we respect more than words can tell. Dr. A (our specialist), is such a strong Christian man who showed us what Christ's love is, in action. We literally owe these three beautiful people so much gratitude.

Saturday morning we headed to the hospital, because I thought I was in labor. I had felt Holden's little movements all morning. But Harriett was unable to find our little boy's heartbeat on the doppler when we arrived at the hospital. She had Dr. P and Dr. A bring an ultrasound in to check. The moment we found out our most precious gift had already gone to his eternal home, Dr. A grabbed our hands. He instantly prayed the most beautiful prayer I have ever been blessed to be a part of. God's love just enveloped us at that moment. There will never be a time in our lives that we ever get more life-changing and devastating news, yet the circle of love during that prayer, amongst Dr. P, Harriett, Dr. A, Holden and the two of us was more powerful than I can even write about. I cannot describe the pain. No one can understand that kind of pain, unless you have experienced it yourself. Yet there was such a PEACE [that passes all understanding] at the same time.

We made phone calls to our families and special friends. Almost immediately we were covered in prayers and love from so many people. Their prayers and love are what carried us through Saturday...and still carries us through.
Our families (both related and related by Christ) were there to support us the whole day.

When we delivered our dear son, we felt indescribable love. That is what is on my heart this evening. That is why I started writing all of this.

Every test imaginable was run to help give us an answer as to why our son did not live. The only answer was that Holden had a short cord (only 7 inches!), and likely during a big contraction the cord was pulled too tight, twisted or bent. There was nothing anyone could have done; Jesus just had a reason for calling Holden home. I don't even like typing this out, but I know it's part of his story and so many are curious.

We arrived home to a flower bed of freshly planted flowers. Our church family planted them for us while we were in the hospital. They honestly took my breath away when we walked up to our home in the dark on Sunday evening. I was once again brought to a place of humility with such love given to us. Our friends and family have provided us food, love and care non-stop since we've been home. They have made sure we have not needed a single thing. For this we are forever grateful and humbled.

Holden's service on Tuesday, August 31st, was a day surrounded by the Lord and His love. Pastors Tommy Culwell and Reid Johnson gave a service that was filled with the Holy Spirit and touched every single person there. Our sister-in-law, Charity, sang two songs. During Amazing Grace, a light rain started falling. It was a day we will hold dear to our hearts forever.
Also on this day, Holden's cousin Asher started walking all over the place. He has been a little timid about walking, but I feel it was a God thing that Holden's sweet cousin found strength that day too. :)

September 1, 2010 was the day we had longed for and anticipated for nine months. It was the day we were supposed to meet our son for the first time. Instead we found ourselves on our knees. The profound and unspeakable amount of grace, mercy and love we have found in Him has changed us. Every single relationship we have is deeper and more meaningful. Chet and I love each other in a way we didn't think possible. So yes, September 1, 2010 still ended up being one of the most wonderful in our lives, thanks to the peace of God.

We were given the opportunity to be with my sister Charys and brother Joel (and Scott and Charity) this week. It was a blessing to get to know them deeper.

If you have read this and have prayed for us, or sent us a message, phone call, text, letter, etc. please know we appreciate you. I hope to respond to all of you one day. If not, just know we love you so much.

This is the beginning of a journey we will always be on. We love and miss our son every single moment, but we await that amazing day when we all will meet again. A dear friend mentioned that we are still parents, and that thought has really blessed us. We will always be Holden's parents.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Our beautiful baby

Holden Newell Erwin

The most precious gift that could ever be given to us, our son Holden Newell Erwin, was born on Saturday, August 28th. He was already in heaven with Jesus when he was born. He was the most beautiful person we have ever seen, 7 lbs. 5 oz. and 21 inches long.
The first time he opened his eyes, he saw Jesus.

The outpouring of love and prayers from friends and family has reached out to us in a way that we cannot describe by mere words. I will one day blog about all of this more. We will post pictures of our sweet baby and write from our hearts about this journey.

Our little Holden has touched us forever, and I know we will meet him again.

His service yesterday morning was beautiful. God's presence was known the whole time.

For now I just want to thank Jesus for the amazing gift of life our son was to us for the 38 weeks and 5 days he was on earth. His life is not over, it has just started.

We thank everyone who has been here for us. I will never be able to use words to impart the blessing our friends and family are.