I had great plans for this month. January is Emma’s birthday month and I planned to share a myriad of Emma stories and lessons I learned from her five years of life.

But something else happened. Something I didn’t fully expect, even though this dance of grief and hope has been the rhythm of my life for quite some time.

 
 
Does love end with the final breath?

Does it stop when one no longer walks the earth?

This question twirls and spins about my mind of late. Not because I’m about to breathe my last. No, I’m thinking about my precious little girl, my Emma. Her birthday is near and thoughts of her life crowd my waking moments.

 
 
She would have turned 17 this year.
I can’t imagine the length of her hair or the hue of her eyes anymore. The sound of her voice and things that would make her heart beat fast elude me, this sweet girl's mama. Would her face resemble mine or would age have morphed her into someone I never got to know?

 It’s been far too long since I last held her sweet frame, but I’ve learned so much since she breathed her last. Healing. Hope.  Redemption. Lessons about God’s character I may not have learned any other way, though I still would’ve chosen a different path for my life, for hers.

 
 
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I’ve decorated the tree for eleven years. Standing just under 3 ft, it’s adorned with white lights, pink and purple ornaments, butterflies, My Little Ponies, and may just be my favorite Christmas decoration. But it’s also the most difficult one to set out. This tree is filled with memories of a little girl who once twirled and danced and sent giggles reverberating throughout our home. It represents love and peace and hope, but it also reminds me of death and sorrow and loss.

My Emma tree. 

 
 
PictureEmma Jo - age 4
My great-great-grandmother’s portrait hung in the university up until the Revolution. By then, the truth of their romance had been reduced to a simply fairy tale. And, while Cinderella and her prince did live happily ever after, the point, gentlemen, is that they lived.” - Grand Dame, Ever After

Tears fill my eyes every time the end of the movie, Ever After, rolls around. The point of my tears aren’t so much because Cinderella and her prince get to live happily ever after. No, it’s the words the Grand Dame shares in the final moments of the film:


The point is that they lived.

Every life is worth celebrating but so often we miss celebrating life when we stare in the face of death and grief.

My child died. 



 
 
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I wish you knew. 

I wish you really knew just how much you mean to us, those of you who stand in the gap when our worlds fall apart. I wish you knew how we, the ones with broken hearts and shattered dreams, those of us who feel like we’re losing ground with each breath, forgotten, and lost, I wish you knew how we really feel about you.


 
 
Does God really love me?Yes, He really does. God loves you with a deep, abiding love. He loves you more than you will ever know or possibly imagine.

Check out John 3:16, the most recognized Bible verse: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Did you catch that? For God so LOVED the world . . .

Still not sure?

 
 
I remember the day I felt heaven kiss earth.

I stood next to my youngest daughter, desperately praying for faith to believe what I could not see. I stood welcoming person after person offering condolences, sharing tears as each passed by her tiny casket. My body stood, but my mind? It swirled with questions and uncertainties, attempting to grasp the wisp of reality that eluded me.

How was I going to survive her death? 

Was she really gone or was she somewhere else?

 
 


You’d think I was used to being the new kid. By the time I entered third grade, I had attended three different schools and lived in four different states. The last move was the second in eighteen months. I struggled to make friends because all my eight-year-old mind wondered was, What if we move again? I hated good-byes almost as much as I hated new hellos. 

Being the new kid was tough. 

 
 
“Higher!” I cried.

“Hold tight!”

Leaning in, my hands grasping his, my dad pushed me up as I balanced my little four-year-old body against his feet. I giggled and he laughed as he stretched his legs as far as they would go.

“I’m flying!” 
I looked down at my dad and saw his smile. It filled every inch of his face and reflected my own.

Suddenly, I twisted.