Saturday, October 26, 2013

A belated Happy Birthday to Auntie Kinsey

Birthday posts have fallen off schedule, but I am trying to slowly get back up to speed.

I missed Kinsey's birthday, on here, which was on October 2.  Kinsey was quite busy on her birthday this year, as she was in labor with her second child - a baby boy!  Charlie John (or better known as "Chaaaaawlie" by his big sister!) was born just 4 minutes after Kinsey's birthday, at 12:04 am on October 3!  What's fun and crazy is that their firstborn, Elliott Grace, shares her birthday with her Daddy!  Kinsey tried SO hard to deliver Charlie on her birthday.  ;)

If you don't already know, Kinsey is married to Mark's brother, David.  I have mentioned Kinsey several times on here, as she is our very talented and generous family photographer.  

Not only is Kinsey my beloved sister-in-law...but I am also so blessed to call her a dear dear Friend.   Despite her own shattered heart she has suffered in Vienne's loss, Kinsey has remained as one of my steadfast and committed, compassionate and loving supporters through all of this.  Her dedication to us has been one of the things that has helped to keep me encouraged and know that I am not alone.  I have memories from that weekend when Vienne passed and Kinsey was the one who continually made sure that I was eating and getting rest.  She spent every possible waking moment of that weekend putting together that most incredible video that was played at Vienne's memorial...and not only did Kinsey miraculously accomplish that, she also managed to select and print off enlarged photos, a sign-in photo book, and programs for the service.  All in 2 days.  She is one of the most thoughtful and giving people that I know.  Hands down.

And not only is she thoughtful and giving, compassionate and loving - she is also a most incredible mother.  She is one of those moms that you envy - who actually takes ideas off of pinterest and recreates them!  She cooks and bakes.  She has a beautifully and creatively decorated home.  And, she enjoys teaching and playing with her children.  I have treasured watching her embrace motherhood over these past 2 1/2 years.  She does it so beautifully and gracefully...though, she humbly disagrees when I tell her.  ;) 

Up until the last few months, near the end of her pregnancy with Charlie, she and David committed to driving down to Portland from Seattle once a month to just be with us...and love on us.  Their commitment and steadfastness was one of the largest gifts to us.  They are ones that would drop everything and be here in a heartbeat if they were needed...just as they were the day that Vienne was so unfairly taken from us.  She is a friend who checks on my regularly - never judging, always understanding and loving.  What a true treasure this sister is to me.

I love you sweet Kinsey.  Happy Belated Birthday to you!

Here are the only few photos I could find of Vienne and Kinsey together...then a few sentimental ones. The rest of the photos are a few of my favorites of her work - ones she has taken of our family.  She is so talented.

Kinsey and 15 mo. old Vienne on Cannon Beach.

Kinsey and 2 1/2 yr. old Vienne at Christmas.

so cute.

Kinsey and the two little cousins - Ivy and Elliott.

Friends.  Lacey, me and Kinsey shedding tears together.

*The rest are just a few of my very favorites.  There are so many favorites, but I tried to pick the ones that always stuck out to me, from those sessions.*

15 mo. old.  

*gasp* such beautiful eyes

a hilarious little series that she captured.  We always loved Vienne is totally clueless, sitting in front of us.

I always loved the stories this one could tell.

Vienne at age 2.

Vienne at age 2 1/2.

rolling in the hay - age 2 1/2

Vienne age 3 1/2.

kissing baby Ivy in my tummy

Vienne, just shy of 4 years old.

Vienne, just shy of 4 yrs old.

4 years old - the Classic.

one of my VERY favorites of Ivy Lynnae at age 5 mo.

she captured the serene and gentle beauty of my girls

my favorite photo of me with my girls.

me and my Ivy, age 1

I love you, my Sister, my Friend.  Thank you for the most generous gift of these photos, capturing the beauty of both of my girls, forever.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


 I wanted to clarify from my last post on the Sovereignty of God that I am not trying to say that God is not good and therefore bad.  I do not believe that God is bad.  I need that to be clear.  I guess I am realizing that I do not fully understand what "good" is....and who that "good" is necessarily for.  Is it really always for us??  Allowing children to die is not good - we can all agree to that.  So, maybe our idea of what "good" means is not the always same as God's.  Does that make sense?  And, now with what I have been through, I have to decide if I am ok with that.  That is just a part of my wrestling.

OH my thoughts keep going on this subject.....more later, I am sure....

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Sovereignty of God and My Unforgiveness

{Here goes...pushing the "publish" button with hesitation...}

Heavy title.

Heaviness on my heart.

It's weird to look back over the year and see the fluctuations in my thoughts and processing of this whole grief journey.  Sometimes I read through old blog posts and roll my eyes, for I can't relate to that place I was once in.  Blogging used to be cathartic to me...that has obviously faded in the last few months.  Now I almost avoid my blog for it makes me face the pain and I still am just not ready for that.  This blog makes me face my emotions and thoughts....but sitting in front of the tv and crocheting allows me to drown in distraction instead.  For now, the latter is what I pathetically prefer.

This is such a roller coaster of emotions that I am on.  I change my mind all the time on how I feel.  It feels different already, as we enter into the second year without her.  Mark stated it very well the other week when he said that "the first year was very new - every day of the first year was the very first time of living that date without our daughter...and now that we're into the second year and on repeat, the reality just sinks in deeper and the realization is that this all just sucks."  I've lived October 14th already once without her and now I have nothing new to expect...and yes, it just sucks.

Right now, I find myself in a phase of deeper thinking and questioning.  Anger has been my steady and unfriendly companion since the very beginning and it still is.  It's quite a deceptive "friend", this Anger is.  It seems to act as my driving force - the thing that keeps me plowing ahead, it keeps me distracted from sadness and it serves to keep me numb from the pain.  But, it is corrosive and poisonous, this Anger is.  It plants seeds of destructive anxiety that grow in my gut and continue to make me physically sick.  It makes me unpleasant to be with at times and causes me to have little tolerance of anything outside of my "controlled little world".  It drives me to cynicism and bitterness.  Oh, this ugly friend called Anger is really not my friend at all.

I know all of this.  Oh how I know.  I am so ridiculously aware of myself...aren't I?  Yes.  I am hard on myself about this...but then again I have to remind myself over and over again that I am still so new to all of this.  Yes it's been a year and that may seem long to those who do not understand grief...but in reality Mark and I are still "babies" in this dreaded journey.  We are still learning what it's all about.  It has certainly been a year full of self-discovery.....of a whole new self.  I am not the same Jenny I was before September 6, 2012...and I never will be.  I am wounded forever.  And, right now, in the early stages of my wounds, I am still acting similarly to a wounded animal.....overly sensitive and prone to anger and defensiveness and protectiveness, full of tense anxiety.  This discovery phase of my new "self" is enlightening and disappointing at the same time.  I will enter a situation that I have not faced since before Vienne died, and I will expect myself to act as I once did only to quickly learn that I am no longer capable.  For example - hosting.  I normally love to host.  I have not really hosted much of anything in the past year, of course.  Now that we have moved and it is a year later, I am feeling ready to start hosting again.  So, I have invited my small group of ladies from church to spend our gatherings at my home.  I expected myself to be able to have everything ready, Ivy in bed, the house smelling of apply cider yumminess on the stove, candles lit, fire know, the idyllic cozy fall evening setting (what I am so good at normally providing).  But the time came and I was a frazzled mess, everything was rushed and done last minute, and I wanted to literally scream an inappropriate expletive and run into my room and hide for the evening.  Whoah.


Oh, yeah the title of this post.  I should get to that, shouldn't I?

The sovereignty of God.  Sovereignty is defined as "supreme power or authority".  I have always full-heartedly believed that God is a completely sovereign God, having supreme power and authority on this earth that He created.  I have believed that God made us with the ability to make choices, though as well, and I understand that along with the enemy's influence, that is why our world is so fallen.  I also had always wholeheartedly believed that God is purely good and loving and wants only the best for us, His children.

I waiver in what I believe now.

**And let me clarify, again, that these are just my processings from my muddled emotional head.  I am not here to debate God and what everyone else believes.  I am not reliable in my stance.  I am just in a process of cynical questioning.  Some things I will share will not rest well with other believers - I know because I have been one forever.  My intention is not to offend...I am just pouring out my thoughts and processing.  And, these are things I will take to counseling and to my pastor for their wise and educated input.

Ok, this is why I waiver in what I believe ~
I do not (I repeat) I do not believe that God caused Vienne's heart to stop and for her to die instantly, suddenly, without warning.  No, I do not believe He killed her.  BUT, I do believe that He allowed it.  That is where His sovereignty lies.  I believe He can allow or disallow things.  And, this is where I start to question His 100% pure goodness and intent for us.  In Jerry Sittser's book, A Grace Disguised, he writes that many people who have gone through a tragic loss like mine typically develop one of three positions in their beliefs - 1)  Atheistic - there really is no God.  2)  God is good yet not in as much control as we once assumed...therefore, He is a weaker God.  3)  God is powerful but can be cruel.  Right now, I currently struggle between #2 and #3.  I want to believe that He is all-powerful AND purely good...but the facts surrounding my experience seem to belie that.  What I see now is a God who heard our desperate and faithful, believing, begging prayers that morning, and He said "No".  He chose to allow Vienne's heart to randomly, unexpectedly and suddenly stop and then when there were chances for her revival, He said "No".  Is that good, in your book??  Well, it is not in my mine.

And, so now if you are a believer your mind might be quickly and desperately trying to come up with contradictions to this, explanations for this, and comforts that you think might soothe my cynical mind.  You might want to say things like "Well, God has an ultimate plan"...or ..."God always works things out for the good"....or ..."God is going to do something amazing with you, through this" ...or ..."Sometimes, we don't understand His ways but we need to trust His will" ...or ..."We live in a fallen world where sin causes such tragedies, even illness" ...etc.  But, what I've come to see through all of this, as I feel that a veil has been ripped from my many years of ignorance, is that really the "good" that we want so desperately to accredit to God is ultimately only meant for Himself.  What do I mean?  To put it bluntly, right now I struggle with realizing that the God I have served is really a self-serving God (gasp.  yes, I just said that).  That sounds so sacrilegious, I know.  But, let me explain in simple matter-of-fact terms -  Everything that He creates, everything that He allows, every prayer that He answers "yes" or "no" to, is all intended for His ultimate glory.  He wants us to love Him and glorify Him.  He wants everything that we are about to be for His glory.  He wants us to serve Him and share His Word, and teach others to serve Him.  That is all truth, as understood by most believers.  See, that is not sacrilegious at all....I just put it in ugly terms that made you cringe.  But, it is all truth.  And, now that I see it from a different perspective, I am currently uncomfortable with it and I have to work through this and find a way to reconcile how I want to live my life.  And, I'm not trying to say that I want any glory or that I want to serve  That is NOT me AT ALL.  I'm just trying to understand the Biblical verses that promise that God wants what's best for us, that He loves us so much etc...When now, I understand that He really just wants what's best for Him.  But, I still believe in Him.  I still believe that He created me and that there are only two paths to choose from - Heaven-bound or Hell-bound.  And, I am determined to be Heaven-bound, for that is the only way for me to be able to see my precious Girl again.  But, the way I end up walking my path might look a little different from the "norm".

I feel that we "Christians" are so easily blinded...or that we choose to be.  We want to give God all the credit for the good that happens in our world.  But, when bad things happen (which they do all the time), we neglect to acknowledge that God chooses to allow it.  I know that sin is the cause for the fallen nature of our world...but God chose to allow that sin in.  And, that could lead to an entirely different discussion on Adam and Eve and the fall of man - but I don't want to go that far just yet.  Also, the commonly-held perspective that 'the original sin is what first caused the stepping stones in  creating illness in our world' - which therefore caused Vienne to die - does not sit well with me.  In essence, that explanation is saying that sin caused the most unheard-of heart problem to randomly kill my daughter.  Why would a good and loving God allow that?  We have a tendency to make up so so many excuses for God because He is supposed to be good and want only good for us (even if it's a different "good" than we expect)....but, really we do not fully know.  When I really start to think further on it, I remember how God was in the Old Testament.  It wasn't necessarily pretty.  He not only allowed, but actually caused much tragedy in those early days.   And, we are taught from the Bible that God never changes - "He is the same yesterday today and forever" (Heb. 13:8).  If He is the same, then He is the same "harsh" God from the Old Testament.  Yes, Christ coming to this earth and "dying for our sins" did allow for a change in our "consequences to sin" but it did not change who God was.  And, so I am reminded that He is a bit cruel.  I don't believe Jesus is cruel....but I believe the part of Him that is God is.  Phew....did that make any sense??  But, we want to believe that God is good and so we blindly trust that He is.  This is what I am fiercely wrestling with.  I will never come to a time in my life and finally look back and say "oh, yes, now I see and understand why Vienne had to die."  No.  This will never be ok with me.  Her death may glorify God...but it will do nothing good for me (not that I'm trying to be selfish here).  I am so damaged now.  Trusting Him just seems almost....foolish to me right now.

And, this is why I obviously wrestle with forgiving Him.  I find it easier to forgive man than it is to forgive God.  Man is fallible, God is not.  It is easier to forgive man when we ultimately know that we are all capable of sin and mistakes.  But, God is not.  That makes it harder to forgive Him.  The thing is, is that I want to be able to.  I really do for I know what unforgiveness does to a heart - it is poisonous.  I do not want to grow to become a bitter and calloused lady.  I heavily fear this.  I do not want to be unpleasant and miserable to be around.  I am already full of fear that my current bitterness is starting to seep out and that those around me are starting to sense it.  I try so hard to cover it up...but at the same time, I am so blasted honest when asked.

**In summary - I want to clarify that I have NOT turned my back on God.  No, not at all.  I do not want to.  I am confused and I am wrestling.  I wish I was back to the "naive" mindset I used to have.  But now that I see things differently, I want to know more and I want to understand.  I want this to work out and I want to have a relationship with Him again...but I just don't know how to reconcile all of my questions yet.  I am in a phase right now.  Heavy stuff on my plate these days, for sure.  I guess this is the darkness that I talked about in an earlier post - the inevitable darkness that I am supposed to face.  I didn't expect it to look like this....dark yet with a new perspective.  I don't know how to process this.

I do not feel pursued by God.  I feel lonely.  I feel that He is against me.  I am not so much bitter as I am hurt.  I feel hurt by God.  I just wish that He would speak out clearly to me.

**ADDENDUM ~  I want to also clarify and add that I am not trying to say that God is not good and therefore bad.  I do not believe that God is bad.  I need that to be clear.  I guess I am realizing that I do not fully understand what "good" is....and who that "good" is necessarily for.  Allowing children to die is not good - we can all agree to that.  So, maybe our idea of what "good" means is not the same as God's.  Does that make sense?  And, now with what I have been through, I have to decide if I am ok with that.  That is my wrestling.  OH my thoughts keep going on this subject.....more later, I am sure....

This is where I'm at.  Take it or leave it.

(the days when my arms could wrap around a sweet 4 yr-old baby girl...days when I so naively believed that that was the life I was meant to have.)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A very belated Happy Birthday to one Caleb Evan Heath Holbert!

I owe one very special important young man a belated Birthday tribute post on here.  Caleb Evan Heath, please forgive me for missing your Birthday, last month!

I want to start this post off with one of the best videos ever.  Here Vienne is dancing along to a video taken of Caleb, who is also dancing.  Vienne, age 4, believes that the video of Caleb is meant only for her and that his talking is only meant for her.  It is so darling.  She is too too much.  I watch this and my eyes brim and my heart swells.  This was my girl - pure fun and sweetness. 

Caleb, she surely did love you!!

Caleb and his family understand why it was difficult to recognize his birthday this year...and maybe for the next few years.  Caleb's birthday is on September 4 - our wedding anniversary and just two days before Vienne passed away.  He knows that this day is hard for us.  The last time that Caleb got to see Vienne was just 5 days before she died, at his Super Hero Birthday party.  I remember Caleb's 6th birthday, last year, very clearly.  The night before his party, Friday Aug. 31, Vienne and I took Caleb out for school supply shopping.  We decided to buy all of his supplies for him, as our gift.  The three of us had fun running around the stores and picking out cool supplies for Caleb's first day of kindergarten. The two of them were best friends and whenever they were together, there were typically nonstop giggles, lots of hand-holding, and lots and lots of Vienne following Caleb around.  She would've followed him anywhere.  
The next day after we took him shopping, was his big Super Hero Party.  I remember that this was the second time that Lacey planned this party....for it was originally meant to happen on his 5th birthday, the year before, but then he came down with the flu on that day.  So, the next year, he really wanted to make sure he got that Super Hero dress up party...and so he did.  I remember that the first year the party was planned I had run out to Goodwill and found armor (a breast plate and shield) for Vienne, to go with her sword because I knew she would want to go as a Super Dragon Tamer and Dinosaur Whisperer.  You have seen pictures of her sporting this armor and videos of her wielding that sword, ever so adeptly.  Well, you can imagine my surprise that when the next year rolled around for the party and I suggested the armor, she declined and opted to dress up as a "Fairy Princess Rainbow" (her words exactly)!  Yes, yes I was so surprised.  Our non-princessy girl, our girl who loves her sword and her all of a sudden turned and wanted to be a princes...and a fairy all in one?!  Yes, I was surprised.  Not disappointed, just surprised.  So, we had a lot of fun glamming her up that day for that special party to honor her best friend, Caleb.  And it was a grand party on a perfect sunny september day.  The kids ran around Seth and Lacey's yard, playing super heroes, there was pizza and cake and games.  Vienne had an absolute blast.  And the photo we have of her, dressed up for that party, is absolutely one of our very favorites.  She looks like an angel to me and it is how I hold her in my memory.  
Caleb and Vienne had a very special friendship, I believe.  Caleb had known her since she was born.  He is a little over 1.5 years older than she.  Once they were old enough to play with each other, they were best buds.  I like to think that Vienne was probably one of the most fun girls to play with because she would play with cars and dinosaurs...she would run in the mud, feed and cuddle their farm animals, play chase and hide 'n seek and any other fun active game that Caleb and Malachi were suggesting.  She was their partner in adventure when she came over.  And it always amazed us how gently Caleb would play with her, even when she would play their "boy" games.  As Lacey states, her boys are boys - they are rough and they play hard...but when it came to Vienne, they refrained.  She was special to them and they treated her as such.  When they would watch movies together, we would often find Caleb's arm around Vienne, all while he was whispering to her and giggling or kissing her cheek.  It was sweet and ever so innocent.  I know that the boys will treat Ivy with the same love and gentleness...Caleb does already.  He knows how special Ivy is.
Anyway, I could go on and on about these two beautiful children and their love for each other...but here are some photos of their 4+ year friendship and one of my most favorite videos of the two of them.

Meeting newborn baby Vienne for the first time.  Oh Seth....your hair ROCKS.

Can you figure out who is who??  The fall after Vienne was born, at around 4 months, we all went to the pumpkin patch together.  Caleb and Vienne are in the center, bottom.

kisses for baby V

the two of them watching a show...I think I even remember that it was Curious George.

"come on Caleb, don't you wanna give your Aunty a kiss??"

"come on!  hug me!!"

this boy holds a very special place in my heart.

Vienne, about 17 months, and Caleb is 3 - at the pumpkin patch again.

They came to visit us, in Cannon Beach, for a pre-thanksgiving feast.  V was about 18 months and Caleb a little over 3.

Caleb was always very good at making Vienne giggle

me and Caleb in my mom's yard

Lacey would drive out to the coast with her boys and visit me while Mark was gone on business trips.  It always brightened our days to have visitors!

building stick forts on the beach.

this was always a favorite shot of Vienne...sitting on a darling bench, watching Caleb in the distance.

Caleb and Mark.

are they not just so ridiculously adorable together??

for Vienne's 3rd birthday, we invited Caleb to come and spend the day with us - a pre-party celebration.  I love this pic of them - Caleb was going through a "joke phase" where he would just make up silly jokes that made no sense and then just bust out laughing at himself.  Obviously, Vienne thought he was pretty hilarious too.

We took the kids to CHAP.  I have written about this birthday adventure here.

Love their concentrated faces.

helping each other paint a paper ball.

beautiful faces

"here, hold my hand..."

and off they went...

he would lead, she would follow...

"Wait for me, Caleb!"


after running around the park, we took them to Jameson Square for some water fun

Oh man, I love this pic.  I love it for all the little things.  This is taken on the morning of her 3rd birthday, the day after we spent with Caleb.  First, she picked out this too-small dress to wear to church that morning and insisted on the sparkly shoes.  She wanted the headband, but didn't like the way it felt as it pressed behind her ears.  And, finally, she HAD to wear Caleb's sweatshirt he left in the car.  Perfection.

All ready for church with the most awesome jacket and silliest looking headband!

This is at her bday party that evening that we held with family and close friends.  The kids are beating Mark up with balloons.

Caleb wanted to help Vienne open each and every one of her presents.  Here he is showing her how to work the toy that her Poppy gave her.  It was hilarious.

Yoga at Caleb and Malachi's house!

crafts with Caleb

LOVE LOVE this shot of the two of them in the field.  Classic.

awkward cute posing with the bunnies on the Caleb's farm.  Check out her awesomely muddied jeans.  Love that girl.

Fun day date at some crazy pizza-arcade place that Mark took them to.  They both talked about this for months.

holding more bunnies in Caleb's yard.  Gosh, isn't she beautiful?

This.  This is the Princess Fairy Rainbow costume we put together.  Isn't she just glowingly radiant and stunning?  She takes my breath away.  Always.  Always.

I love this photo at the party.  You can see Vienne in her awesome signature "hand on the hip" pose that she had recently adopted and check out Caleb in the center - it looks as if he is using his mighty super powers to protect the ladies. Spectacular.


a special moment we shared with sweet Caleb at Vienne's 5th birthday remembrance - thefirst time we celebrated her birthday, this past May, without her.  I wrote about it here.  In this photo, Caleb is helping us to plant a blue hydrangea for Vienne at her favorite park.

Caleb and his beautiful family - they are family to us.

And, I thought I would end the post on with this beautiful photo.  It is blurry - but it is oh so tender sweet.  Here is Caleb with his arm protectively around sweet Ivy, on her 1st birthday.  He will love her with the same love.  I am sure of that.
Thank you, my sweet precious boy.  I can't tell you how much I love you.

Even though I am late in posting this, please know that it is because you are most special to me and I wanted this to be just right for you.  I love you and I have more coming in belated recognition of your 7th Birthday.