'But God said to me, “My GRACE is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9'

Sunday, 1 January 2012

A New Year - Entering with Hope

2011 is officially over.  I know many people are relieved about that, as it has been a tough year for lots of people we know. But personally, I’m not ready for 2011 to end. Yes it was the hardest year of my life, there’s no doubting that, but it was also the most joyous year of my life. Somehow those two emotions have mixed, and I think often both relate to the same circumstances. I can’t really separate out my ‘joyful’ memories from my ‘painful’ memories – because they are intertwined. 

In 2011 I went through the most painful and traumatic time of my life as I had to farewell my new daughter, but I can’t bring myself to say it was the worst year of my life. How could it be, when I welcomed my daughter into the world? God entrusted us with a precious created child of His. I became a Mum in 2011. Jeremy became a Dad in 2011. In 2011 I got to carry my precious daughter for 9 months, and spend a treasured week with her in my arms. We got to meet Hannah, love her, hold her, kiss her, pray with her, talk and sing to her, and delight in her. In 2011 our parents became Grandparents, our Grandparents became Great-Grandparents, and our siblings became Aunts and Uncles. Jeremy and I went from being a family of 2, to a family of 3. How could this year not be beautiful, when we have experienced the miracle of a new life?

Don’t get me wrong, I have cried more tears this past year than I could ever describe to you. But I didn’t want the year to end, because 2011 was Hannah’s year. It was the year we found out we were expecting her, and it was the year we welcomed her into our world. And because she was also welcomed into heaven, 2011 will be the only year we will ever spend with her.  In moving on into 2012, I feel like we are leaving Hannah behind. I know nothing has changed just because the date is different, but it feels like we are moving away from her. And that is so hard. I hate that I have to go on with life without Hannah. I wish more than anything that we were entering 2012 with her here. Or that we could at least go back in time, and hold her once more.

2011 had so many ups and downs, it is hard to process it all and put it into words. This day one year ago, January 1st 2011, was the first day I felt nauseous and wondered if it was morning sickness. A few days later, my suspicions were confirmed, and Jeremy and I were so excited to find out we were going to become parents! We did 3 separate trips up to the North Island over January and February; including a 3 week road trip, time with family, each of our work conferences, a music festival, and 2 weddings. Hannah was there with us for all of it, and boy did she make her presence known – I felt nauseous 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and threw up regularly. And this lasted for months!

February 22nd we had a devastating earthquake in our city, after already having had 2 huge ones in the past few months. But this time was different – 182 people were killed, and many were injured, and parts of our city were destroyed. I think we were all in shock at the extent of loss of life, let alone all the physical damage. And we are still having lots of aftershocks now, including a big one just 2 days before Christmas.

In March we went up North yet again, for a family wedding this time, and by this stage we had made our pregnancy news public. This trip also gave us a break from aftershocks for a week! Baby was beginning to show, and we received our first baby gift (a gorgeous outfit set from America).

In April I finally started throwing up a little less often, and having patches where I didn’t feel as sick – such a relief. Especially when I was bridesmaid for a friend! However soon before Easter, at a routine scan, we discovered that all was not well. Our baby had some major health issues, and we would have to wait until it was born to know what this would mean. There was a high chance that the baby would not make it to full term. Our world was torn apart, and we felt like our lives and dreams had been shattered. We resolved to trust God and take one day at a time from then on. In a further discouragement, the next week we were away camping and I came down with a horrible vomiting bug, and threw up more than I ever have in my life. It really knocked me back, with being pregnant too, and I spent a week on the sofa recovering. Then to top it all off, that week Jeremy’s Granddad died; so he had to book tickets and fly up to the funeral. We were beginning to feel like Job from the bible (an over exaggeration I know, but it was how we felt at the time).

May was Mothers day, and it was fun to be able to celebrate this as a Mum for the first time. Although it was hard too, not knowing if our baby would make it and be in my arms the next Mothers day. In June we had another 2 big earthquakes, and it felt like we were reliving the shock and clean-up all over again. Baby and I went with Jeremy on some of his work trips that resulted from the further shakes. From the end of June we also started having hospital appointments every week, to check how baby was doing – we had a very scary 8 weeks, but God was so faithful in answering our prayers during this time and Hannah continued to surprise the doctors by how well she was doing.

We had a huge snowfall in July, then again in August on the day of my birthday. Jeremy, baby, and I enjoyed some quiet days at home as we were snowed in; and Jeremy made a pregnant snow-women on our lawn. Friends threw a baby shower for me in August, and as I opened all the lovely gifts I prayed God would grant me the opportunity to use them for this baby. Then August 29th arrived – the day we were scheduled to have a c-section and finally meet our first child. She had miraculously made it to full term, and we were filled with anticipation and hope. We were overjoyed to hear we had a daughter! We spent an incredible week with Hannah Grace that was beautiful, but also heart wrenching. Our families got to spend time with her, and we all got to bond with her and get to know her lively personality. However on Fathers Day, September 4th, I held Hannah as she died. It was a long and traumatic day – a Mother’s worst nightmare. After only having her in my arms for a week, I had to give her back to the Lord. That day I lost not only my daughter, but also all my hopes and dreams for our life with her. And a huge part of me.

Since that day, we have been walking this long journey known as ‘grief’. We are attempting to negotiate life through the pain; attempting to ‘hold it together’ enough to manage work, home tasks, and social occasions. Trying to balance going on with life, with processing our grief. We have been trying to navigate our way through being new parents without a child in our arms. Attempting to keep stepping forward, even though many days I feel like I just can’t cope any more. And endeavouring to continue to include Hannah in our lives and family, and carry on the significant legacy that she has left. Our lives are so much richer thanks to her. She has inspired people all over the world to be lively, courageous, and encouraging, just like she was.

And as 2011 has ended, and 2012 begun, we continue to trust the God who has carried us through everything this year. Through all the joy and pain, we can rely on a faithful God who loves us more than we can ever comprehend. We don’t understand why He has allowed painful things to happen, but we don’t doubt Him. We are convinced He is still in control. And that He will bring beauty out of our suffering and brokenness. We are in awe of His love for us, and the extent to which He went to demonstrate that, on the cross. He has lavished so many blessings on us this year, and we have learned not to take these for granted. Without our relationship with Him I can honestly say I don’t know how I would be managing to go on with life. We are so thankful for the hope this gives us – both here on earth, and for an eternity spent with Him (and Hannah). On this first day of 2012 we want to dedicate our year to Him and trust him with whatever rainbows or storms come our way. We will strive to keep following Him and finding His joy no matter what circumstances may arise.

So as we go on into 2012, we bring Hannah Grace with us – she is still in our family, just sadly not our arms. Our love for her will continue to grow this year, and every year. And her life will continue to inspire us to love and serve the God who gave her, and us, life. The God who now holds her in His arms.

 Lamentations 3:19-26
19 I remember my affliction and my wandering,
   the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them,
   and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind
   and therefore I have hope:
 22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
   for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
   great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
   therefore I will wait for him.”
 25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
   to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly
   for the salvation of the LORD. 
We read the above verses in church today; and this is how I want to go into 2012. 
With my eyes firmly fixed on the hope that God gives.


  1. Such beautiful and heart-breaking reflections honey. I share your thoughts on the yer - how could it possibly have been our worst when we were still blessed with so much! I have come to learn that it is often through heart-ache and hard times, that we can truly see how blessed we are.
    Many prayers that God will honour your faithfulness in 2012 and bring many more blessings your way.
    Nat xx

  2. This post has bought tears to my eyes- your journey is so heartbreaking but courageous and I will be praying for you.


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