August 31, 2008

We went to little Estella's funeral on Saturday. It was the weirdest sense of opposite deja vu driving up to the cemetery yesterday, if there is such a thing. Just a month ago, we were sitting watching all of our friends drive up to support us as we said goodbye to Jonathan, and now we were the ones driving up to help support Andy and Elisabeth, along with their family and friends, say goodbye to Estella. Very strange. But I am very glad we went. We met Andy, Elisabeth, and their families. The funeral was beautiful---they had beautiful pictures of Estella--she was such a perfect little baby. I was so encouraged by the Solomons--their faith is so strong in the midst of what was probably one of the hardest days of their lives.

Andy was amazing and got up and shared their hearts--that their little girl's life had a purpose--to draw people to Him. We feel the same about Jonathan's purpose. God is using our children's lives in such a powerful way. They didn't ever even get to take a breath, but their lives have forever changed our lives, and I'm sure so many others. Thank you so much for your prayers over this last month--not only for us, but also for our new friends, who sadly, are experiencing the same thing we're going through. Justin and I know for sure that we are able to go through this process of grieving our son only because of your prayers and support.

Here are some pictures of Babyland, where Jonathan and Estella are laid to rest right next to each other. It is unreal to me that within a month, two families from the same church have had to bury their babies here. I don't know if I'll ever really understand why this has happened, but I'm still trusting God, knowing that His plan is at work, and His plan is always better than my own!

On a happier note, Justin and I have so enjoyed our Labor Day weekend! On Sunday, we did pretty much nothing--which is what you're supposed to do on Labor Day weekend, right? I did do laundry, so that made me feel a little bit productive! Today, Monday, we went out shopping. For those of you who know me, you know I'm not the biggest shopper. I know this kills my mom, who should be considered a professional shopper/deal-finder! But we were successful today! My brother is getting married on October 4th, and I needed to find a dress for the wedding. Knowing I had to find a dress for something that important (wedding day pictures are pretty important!!), I was quite worried going in. My amazing and wonderful husband came with me. I'm just in awe of what a great husband I have! How many husbands will go with their wives shopping without any complaints?!! I love you Justin! Amazingly enough, the second store we went into had the winner! I found the perfect dress, on sale, and it is one that I can wear for many events! I thought I'd have to spend a bunch on a dress that I would probably only wear for the wedding, but this one is truly the perfect black dress! We also found the right jewelry and shoes for it as well, so I'm done with my major shopping for the wedding! I'm so excited about getting to go to my brother's wedding--can't wait for this month to fly by!

Well, I'm off for the grocery store. It has been way too long since I've been a good wife and gone to the grocery store. My goal this week is to actually cook some meals for my sweet husband. Last week I was so exhausted each day that I didn't cook at all! I'd really forgotten how tiring full time teaching really is. I can really tell that my body isn't quite up to 100% yet also, because in past years, I wasn't that tired every day! Tomorrow I'm going back to my doctor for my one month check up after giving birth, so I'm praying that everything is healed and how it should be.

Have a great week! I'll blog again soon~

August 28, 2008

Prayer Request Update...

Thank you all so much for praying for Andy and Elisabeth. They had their little girl, Estella, this week and found out that her cord had gotten wrapped around her neck. From what I found out, they were able to have some time with their precious baby, and, like we did with Jonathan, appreciate the miracle that every moment of her life was.

She will also be buried at Babyland this Saturday--one month exactly after Jonathan was buried there. I was so praying that no more plots at Babyland would fill up, and now Jonathan will have a neighbor. It breaks my heart to know another couple is going through this.

I hope that God will use me to help this couple in some way. Maybe we are supposed to help each other. I don't know, but I still trust that God has a plan. Please continue to pray for this couple!

August 25, 2008

Urgent Prayer Request!

We are asking for prayer for a couple in our church... We don't know them since they are in another lifegroup, but they just found out yesterday that their baby (she is 8 months along) had died inside her womb. They are scheduled to be induced tomorrow morning.

It just breaks my heart to hear about another family going through this, and frankly, it makes me angry as well. I don't want anyone else to know what it feels like to lose a baby to stillbirth, and I just don't get why this is happening. I know that God can give peace and will carry them through this, but I know all too well the agony they are going through right now and will continue to experience. God is a God of miracles, and I believe that He can heal their little girl if He chooses. If that is not the plan though, I'm going to pray for strength for them.

Will you join me in praying for this couple? I know how much I felt and feel supported by all the prayers we have received, and I just want to spread the word and get as many people praying for them as possible. Their names are Andy and Elizabeth, and their baby is a girl (I don't know her name). I'll do my best to get more details...

Thank you!

August 22, 2008

His promises...

Okay, so the last time I wrote was at a pretty low point of my week. When I went back the next day to read it again, I realized how down I sounded. I felt bad about sharing that, but many friends assured me that it was okay, and good for me to be real about those hard times. I also got so many amazing comments, encouragements, and prayers, so I know now that it is okay to be that real.
The rest of this week has been pretty good--it really has helped to be so busy getting ready for the school year to start. I've had fun with my friends, and felt like I was doing something that I am good at. I've even found myself laughing and genuinely having a good time. It seems so weird to me to be back to a "normal" life, and I'm just constantly reminded of how much God loves me and takes care of each and every detail in my life.

I wanted to include a picture or two on my blog this week...

We ordered Jonathan's headstone last Saturday, and it should be here by the end of September. Until then, my mom surprised us with this flower arrangement to decorate his grave for now. The day before she left, she also got this precious little angel to sit on his grave as well. The day Justin and I went out to put it on, I realized that the little angel's hands were the same width and size as Jonathan's little hands were. I got to hold my sweet little boy's hand for only a little while, and it is really special to have this angel as a physical reminder of his perfect little hands! (Sorry the picture of Jonathan's little hand is kind of blurry--I wish you could see how perfect they were!) It is so peaceful going out to Babyland. Sitting there looking over all of the graves of babies 2 and under, I just feel a connection with other families that know our pain, and I find myself praying for them. Maybe someday we'll even meet some of them.

God has been teaching me and comforting me so much this week too. Every morning I've been getting up, going into Jonathan's room, sitting down in the glider, and spending time in God's word. A friend gave us an amazing year long devotional called Hope, and it has been wonderful. I have found so many verses that give me such peace, comfort, and trust in God's plan for my life. I still don't understand why losing Jonathan was part of this plan, but all I know is that God's plan is greater than mine ever could be. Jonathan's life was for an eternal purpose--so much more than I could have given him here on earth. I know that I'm growing as a person through all of this, and I know it will only help me to be a better mom when the time comes for me to have a child here on earth. I'm praying that that will be soon, but I just have to step back from my desires, again, and trust God for his perfect timing. He is going to have to give me patience!

Some verses that I connected with so much this week were in Psalms--

"I am trusting in you, O Lord, saying 'You are my God!' My future is in your hands." (31:14-15) "Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord." (27: 14) Hard for me to do!!
"He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be astounded. They will put their trust in the Lord." (40: 2-3) This verse was eye opening but kind of shocking for me--in my mind I couldn't believe I actually could agree with this verse, especially the first part, just 3 weeks after Jonathan died, but God has given me such a peace that I actually do! And the last part that God will actually use our tragedy to bring people to "put their trust in the Lord" absolutely humbles me. That God would trust us enough to use our lives to draw people to himself is amazing to me!

The down times will come again soon. The days that I can't stop the tears will be here many more times, I'm sure of it. But one thing I know through however I am feeling--God's promises to me are true, and I'm going to stand on them--even when I don't feel like standing! The only way to survive anything hard that comes is to lean on Jesus!

August 17, 2008

My reality...

I'm still so thankful for my new job, for having something to do, somewhere to go each day, and wonderful people to be with. is so hard. Thursday was the first day reporting back to work, and honestly, I cried the whole way out to the camp where we were to meet--a half hour drive. I knew that God had given me this job, and I was supposed to be there, but I couldn't help feeling like I was leaving Jonathan behind, like I was betraying him. I wasn't supposed to be reporting back to school--I was supposed to be home, pregnant, enjoying my 25th week of pregancy, decorating his room more, and feeling him kicking me from the inside. But this is my new reality, God's plan for me. I know I'll never understand why His plan for me included losing my baby boy, but I just have to trust, to have faith in what I'll never be able to know or understand until I'm in heaven with Jonathan. But as I'm learning, this isn't easy.
Even through tears and crazy emotions, God still brings people into my life, through emails, calls, texts, blogs and cards in the mail to encourage me at just the right times. At each of my low points in the last few days, I've been lifted up by various people, and I'm so thankful for them. How could they have known that I needed to hear from them at just that moment? I thank God for putting me on their hearts.
So here I am, late on Sunday night, knowing that I'm going back to work again tomorrow morning. It is going to be hard. I know I will have many more tears this week, and I know I'll miss my Jonathan every moment. Everywhere I go seems to have something that reminds me of Jonathan, of being pregnant, of my dreams of having my children in my life--my heart feels like it is being crushed inside me. But I know that God is there, carrying me, and that is what helps me to even begin to think that I will get through this.

August 12, 2008

A plan...

My mind has been just a mixture of emotions this week...Sometimes it is hard to know what to focus on. My tougher days I seem to focus on what I've lost and how much it hurts, and other days I'm reminded of and thankful for all God has been doing. Through it all though, the thought that keeps going over and over in my mind is, "what do I do now?" As I've said before, all I had planned was Jonathan. I wasn't going back to work this fall--all of my projects revolved around getting everything ready for him--I had officially focused on him, my baby I have been waiting on for 3 1/2 years. So now that the plan has changed, what do I do now?

Today, I'm so thankful that God showed me another small piece of His bigger plan...This afternoon I got a call from the secretary at my old school (where I worked at for 3 years). One of the teachers needed to have a long term sub to start the school year, and my old principal thought of me. They were so thoughtful, offering it to me, but also giving me the freedom to say no if I felt it was too soon. I prayed a lot this afternoon, and discussed it in detail with my mom and Justin throughout the afternoon. I wasn't sure if I was ready, but looking at it, I decided that it was the answer to my question of "what do I do?" Not only does it give me something to focus on while I'm in this waiting time period before we can start trying again, it puts me back with my "family" at my old school. My old staff was truly a family, and even going by the school today it felt like home. I have already gotten so many hugs and will continue to get hugs from them, and many of the teachers I'll be working with again were even at Jonathan's funeral. I know that this next 6 weeks is going to be just what I need--even though I definitely had not planned or even considered working this school year. I know that I will not go an hour without thinking about my sweet boy, but I know having a distraction and others to focus on will definitely help. I'm actually excited to be working with these 4th graders. Kids are amazingly sensitive and comforting and I look forward to 6 weeks with them. So, please pray for continued and quick healing for my body and my heart. I really am feeling much stronger, and I got the go ahead from my doctor to work, so I know that this will be good for me.
I'm thinking that when I'm up to writing about it, I'd like to share some of the details of our time with Jonathan. I'm not quite ready yet, but maybe I will be soon. Until then, I just wanted to share with you his sweet little footprint. Another blessing from the amazing hospital in Ft. Worth--all of the tangible things we have from our son... I'm still trying to focus on what I can be thankful for (I Thess. 5: 16-18) mom being here with me for two weeks, my dog that can read my mood and knows when to cuddle up with me, a job when I didn't even want one, friends to encourage me, friends who will just listen, and even cry with me, a loving husband, 23 weeks with my baby, and especially, a God who is carrying me through this all, because I am I sure I would not get through any of this on my own.

August 8, 2008

One day at a time...

Thought I should check in with you all again. I just want to say thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to everyone who has been standing with us for the past coulple of weeks. I'm just in awe of my friends, family, and even strangers who have said and done just the right things that have helped us. From comments on our blog, phone calls, messages, emails, cards, and even meals and food being brought to us, I can't say thank you enough. I pray that I will be able to return the favor, or pass it on to others in my life--I just don't know the words to express how much everyone means to us right now.

It is so weird, how this is all hitting me. There are times that I'm so sad and empty feeling, that I can't do much more that just sit in the nursery and stare at the walls. Other times, I feel so blessed by Jonathan's short little life, and all of the amazing results of it, that I just praise God for it. I don't know what to make of such a variety of emotions, but everything I'm reading and hearing from people who know says that is normal--that is grief. It's just strange though, because I wonder if I'm betraying my baby when I'm thankful how each moment of the last two weeks have played out. I'm not at all thankful that he is gone--I don't understand why--but I am thankful for all that God has done, for all the details that He worked out that helps me to see light in the midst of this sadness. I know my baby is in a far better place than I ever could have provided him here, even though I wanted him here more than anything. I've prayed for him all of my life, and know I'm here trying to figure out how to keep thanking God for His plan.

I found a poem that I thought I'd share with you--I adapted it just a bit to fit my baby. I can't imagine how hard it would be to be on the other side of this situation--trying to comfort someone else who was going through the loss of a child. I wouldn't have a clue what to say or what to do. For those of my friends that I was pregnant along with, I want to have joy with you. Don't feel like your joy has to be muted around me. I'm so thankful for your baby, and I will be here to enjoy thier life with you. It might be hard for awhile, but just know that you are all doing the right things and I appreciate you all more than you will ever know.


Go ahead and mention my child,
The one that died, you know.
Don't worry about hurting me further.
The depth of my pain doesn't show.
Don't worry about making me cry
I'm already crying inside.
Help me to heal by releasing
The tears that I try to hide.
I'm hurt when you just keep silent,
Pretending he didn't exist.
I'd rather you mention my child,
Knowing that he has been missed.
You asked me how I was doing.
I say "pretty good" or "fine".
But healing is something ongoing
I feel it will take a lifetime.

~ Elizabeth Dent

I underlined a verse in the hospital on Wednesday, Jonathan's last day alive. As hard as it is, I'm trying to live my life after it...

I Thess. 5: 16-18
" Always be joyful. Keep on praying. No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."

I love you all.


August 3, 2008

The service

I just wanted to share with you a few pictures from Jonathan's funeral service. What an amazing (earthly) goodbye to our little boy. I just want to say how much I appreciate all those who came to support us on Saturday morning. Thank you also to those of you who were praying for us and were there in your hearts. Justin and I felt everyone's love and it is helping us more than you know.

The section of the cemetery that Jonathan is buried in is called Babyland, in the Garden of Peace. An absolutely fitting name--there is peace there for us. It is set back far off any main roads, and is surrounded by trees. The picture below shows how many precious babies are already there. I know that we will enjoy the peacefulness of the location when we go out to visit him.
View of Babyland

Jonathan's little casket. The yellow blanket draped over was the blanket they wrapped him up with in the hospital. One of my most treasured possessions now.

I honestly couldn't believe how many people came out to be with us. There were over 60 people there. The funeral director said he had never seen so many people out for a graveside service for such a young baby. We are so incredibly blessed to have so many wonderful people in our lives. Thank you for coming. We had beautiful flowers at the service from friends and family, and are still receiving more. Thank you so very much.

The service was beautiful. Our worship pastor and close friend, Aubrey, led us in two amazing songs. The second, Pure by Kari Jobe, again reminded me to run to Jesus, because he is our strength when our heart is weak. He has to be all I seek, especially right now. Our pastor John then shared some verses that were so powerful, including Proverbs 3:5-6 and Philippians 4: 6-7. He spoke about God and about His plans. His words were so encouraging to me and hopefully to those who were there. I'm so thankful for our wonderful church--Justin and I have both grown so much there spiritually, and we have been so blessed by the support of our pastors and church during this time.

The last thing we did during the service was release two balloons up to Jonathan in heaven. Justin and I had both written a note to him and attached them to the balloons.

Last few moments...

Our pastor's words were so encouraging to me, just reminding me that it is okay to question and grieve. God knows and understands my thoughts and my pain even more than I do, and isn't offended by me wondering why, or even why me. I don't understand why this happened, why my baby still isn't growing inside of me, what I'm supposed to do now, when all I had planned revolved around my baby. He knows that there are, and will be, times that I will be angry, numb, sad, and confused, and that is okay and He will carry me through. One thing I do know is that my little boy's purpose in life was so much more that I could have ever imagined. My good friend Amy, my college roomate, lost her little boy at 26 weeks along last year. We talked the night before Jonathan's funeral, and she told me that our little boys' purpose in life was an eternal one. God had bigger plans for them--more that we, as their mothers, will ever even know. I really do thank God for that, and pray that through my little boy's short life, people will realize what is truly important in life--living for Him.
Thank you for your continued prayers--I know we will need them in the days ahead.

August 1, 2008

Funeral Information

Thank you all for your kind words and prayers. I know for sure that Justin and I wouldn't be getting through this without you all.

We just wanted to let you know details about the funeral/graveside service. You are more than welcome to come and join us, but please don't feel obligated. We are feeling the support you are giving us just by reading our blog and lifting us up.

The service will be at 10:30 am tomorrow (Saturday, August 2nd) in Frisco, Texas. It will be a graveside service at Ridgeview West Memorial Park. I've included at map, but for those of you who know the area, it is just west of Preston off of El Dorado. You turn north at Rodgers, and follow the road around behind St. Francis Church and in front of a Bible church. It turns into a dirt road, and up ahead to your right you will see the cemetery. It really doesn't have a cemetery sign, but once you get closer, you will see the funeral home sign (Turrentine Jackson Morrow). The amazing funeral home donates plots in "Babyland" for families going through what we are facing. What a blessing. There should be tent up to let you know right where we'll be. Please feel free to join us in celebrating Jonathan's much too short life. The dress will be casual.

We have also had a lot of questions about gifts, flowers, money, and what we need. We are so thankful for each and every one of you and really don't need anything except your love and support. However, if you are interested, Justin and I have decided that should you want to give a monetary gift, we would like to find a way to help other families that are facing this situation. In the hospital after he was born, Jonathan was given clothing and a blanket from a group of volunteers called Threads of Love. A NICU nurse also ministers to families by making hand and footprint molds for a keepsake for the family. These simple things, as well as the amazing nurses and doctors at the hospital were such and unexpected comfort to us at the hardest time of our lives. So we are planning, when we're ready, to find a special group like these to contribute any money we get to, to help comfort other people.

If you want to contribute, you can send us a check with "Jonathan Paul Memorial Fund" on the memo line. (2905 Opal Court McKinney, TX 75071) We have the account number, as well, if you're more comfortable, that we could email to you (our email is One more way, Justin set up a paypal account for those of you who are tech savvy.

If you know how to use this, click here.

Again, please don't feel at all that you have to do this--we just wanted to figure out something for those who have asked us.

Thank you again for your love, and I look forward to talking with those of you who have been calling and leaving me messages soon. Even in this, something I completely don't understand, God is still good. I am praying that our loss of Jonathan doesn't keep you from loving and trusting in God. Only He can help us make sense of life--the good and the bad. Don't turn from Him--run to Him.

I love you all so much~ Alyson