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

Monday, 30 April 2012

8 month birthday

If Hannah was still here with us, she would have turned 8 months old yesterday. Because all my memories of Hannah are of her as a newborn, I find it hard to imagine what she would be like at this age. She would be so much bigger than I remember her! And I'm sure she would be learning new things every day, as she progressed through milestones. So many things we are missing out on.

We have just got back from a week up in the North Island, attending a wedding and catching up with friends. Jeremy was a groomsman and loved being a part of the wedding party. The wedding was a lot of fun, but there were quite a few babies and pregnant women there which was hard given that Hannah wasn't there with us. A few people asked if we had kids, and we got to tell them about her. It's always hard seeing their responses though - looks of shock, and often tears in their eyes. 

We took a few photos as reminders of Hannah:

 At Omaha beach, where we stayed over the time of the wedding

In Auckland... an 'H' for Hannah (looking out from Cornwall Park)

A few other photos from our trip:

At our friends' wedding

Lovely wedding ceremony

Beautiful sunset as we drove into Auckland

At the top of One Tree Hill

View from the airplane as we flew out of Auckland

Arriving home

Friday, 27 April 2012

Hannah's headstone

Hannah's headstone has finally arrived! We went to her grave last week, and were excited to see that her headstone had been installed. I'm not sure how we got to the point in our lives that we would be pleased to see our daughters headstone... but I guess that's the reality of life after our daughters death. It's the kind of 'pleased' that is shown with more tears than smiles; if that makes any sense.

What I was relieved to see, was that it looks just like we wanted it to. Designing it was a hard and extremely emotional process, to say the least. Planning your daughters headstone is not something you ever imagine you will have to do. Jeremy and I spent a long time playing around with different wordings and designs and fonts and colours, and we are glad it looks as nice in reality as it did in our planning. It looks pretty, and warm, and baby like; just like we wanted it to for our baby daughter. A touching tribute to Hannah's incredible life.

But I wish we were picking outfits for her to wear, not designs for her headstone. 

I wish we were taking her with us to visit people, not having to visit her ourselves at a graveyard.

I wish it was my arms holding Hannah Grace, not a grave. 

We love you and miss you Hannah Grace...

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Easter 2012

Hope you all had a blessed Easter!

I wanted to share this song, Glorious Day by Casting Crowns, that we sung in our Easter Sunday church service. I think the lyrics very clearly sum up what Easter is all about...

One day when Heaven was filled with His praises
One day when sin was as black as could be
Jesus came forth to be born of a virgin
Dwelt among men, my example is He
Word became flesh and the light shined among us
His glory revealed

Living, He loved me

Dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away
Rising, He justified freely forever
One day He’s coming
Oh glorious day, oh glorious day

One day they led Him up Calvary’s mountain

One day they nailed Him to die on a tree
Suffering anguish, despised and rejected
Bearing our sins, my Redeemer is He
Hands that healed nations, stretched out on a tree
And took the nails for me

One day the grave could conceal Him no longer

One day the stone rolled away from the door
Then He arose, over death He had conquered
Now He’s ascended, my Lord evermore
Death could not hold Him, the grave could not keep Him
From rising again

One day the trumpet will sound for His coming

One day the skies with His glories will shine
Wonderful day, my Beloved One, bringing
My Savior, Jesus, is mine 

(I suggest you watch/listen to it on YouTube by clicking here.) 

I love this song; it is very powerful. And it's a great reminder to look past the easter bunny, the chocolate, and the public holiday; to what Easter really means.

Easter Day was hard, as it was yet another celebration that Hannah missed out on. Well, she missed out on sharing it with us; she probably had a wonderful celebration up in heaven with Jesus Himself! So I guess what I mean to say is, it was another event we had to celebrate without Hannah.

We went to Hannah's grave this weekend to spend some time focused on her. As we pulled up I was upset to see from a distance that there was something covering part of her grave. When we got closer, I discovered that the memorial company have laid the concrete base in preparation for installing her headstone :) Then they have covered it to keep it dry while the concrete sets. Getting her headstone details finalised has been a very long and drawn out process - we ordered it at the start of October, and there have been so many hold-ups and miscommunications since then. So we were excited to see some progress finally! Hopefully by the next time we visit, her headstone will be in place (and hopefully it will look like how we designed it to be!).

However it did mean that when we arrived her grave site was a bit of a mess - the company had to pull out her cross and windmill and decorations to pour the concrete, so they were all just lying on the ground in front of the tarpaulin cover. Jeremy pushed them back into the ground again for the meantime, until the work is finished and we can place them back where we want them.

I really wanted to decorate her grave for Easter, but couldn't find anything suitable at the shops that was 'Eastery' and would survive being outside :( I just found these two pretty flowers, and decided they would do.

We thought the cross shadow was rather appropriate, given that it is Easter and we are remembering what Jesus did for us on the cross. The cross is an amazing symbol of God's love! We know Hannah is now with Him, and we look forward to the day when we will join them up in heaven.

I just want to add something else in here as well. Thank you to two lovely ladies who remembered Hannah this Easter, and made her name for us to show they were thinking about her! We really appreciate it when people take the time to do this.

One in Colorado:
I love this idea, of writing the letters on eggs!

And one in the North Island here in NZ:

I pray that whatever your Easter held, that you were able to think upon the true meaning of Easter. I'm sure many people found the weekend hard for whatever reason, as we did last year and again this year. For others, it may have been a happy care-free time. But whatever you did over your weekend, and whatever emotions it held, my hope is that you were drawn one step closer into the arms of our loving God.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

The lead up to Easter

Easter week is hard for me.

It was this day a year ago, that we were dealt the devastating news about our baby’s health issues. Not the exact date, but it was the day before Good Friday. Our routine scan had picked up a few abnormalities, so we had been sent to see a specialist. I remember so vividly how I felt as we sat in that waiting room, then were called in to the scanning room. I was desperately crying out to God that He would have answered our prayers and that we would be told everything was ok. 

But He hadn’t, and we weren’t.

Instead we were told that the health issues they could see could be fatal. We were told our baby definitely wouldn't make it to full term, and that we needed to be prepared that she could die any time. And to my horror, they suggested a good solution would be to just have an abortion. I remember my very short and sharp reply that that wasn’t an option, and Jeremy’s confirmation. And I remember staring at Jeremy in shock, wondering how this could really be happening to us and to our baby. 

Somehow I managed to stay composed for the hour or so that we were at our appointment, but as soon as we left the hospital I broke down. It literally felt like our world had just come crashing down around us.  It was so hard to then live each day, from 19 weeks onwards, wondering if our baby would last the next day. Hannah is our miracle - the doctors struggle to explain how she proved them wrong and made it to full term. Although my midwife did try to tell them it was because God answered our prayers!

My mind has been full of those memories today... it was definitely one of the worst days of my life, other than the day Hannah actually died. I will never forget the emotions that overcame me that weekend after we received the news. In the natural, things looked hopeless. We knew God was our only hope, and we desperately cried out to Him and tried to cling on to His promises. We prayed and held on in faith that God would heal our baby, and we would get to bring her home.

This Easter I have a whole new understanding of what God must have felt when He watched His son, Jesus, die on the cross. The pain He must of felt as He had to turn His head as Jesus took upon Himself all the sin of the world. And the agony Jesus’ earthly Mother, Mary, must have gone through as she watched her oldest son suffer and die. There is nothing more painful a Mother could ever have to do. The fact that God was willing to send His son to die for us, to forgive each and every one of us if we will only accept His sacrifice, amazes me.

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”  (John 15:13)

And that is exactly what Christ did – He sacrificed His own life; so that we might be forgiven and cleansed, and able to have a relationship with God Himself. This is what Good Friday is all about.

As Romans 5:8 says, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

What an amazing gift. 

However as with any gift, the recipient must choose to accept it. We each must choose whether or not we want to accept what Christ has done for us on the cross. God is perfect, so our sin separates us from Him. But the offer is there that if we confess our sins to Him, and submit our life to Him, He will willingly take our sin upon Himself. Then we can be reconciled to God.

So as hard as tomorrow is, with the talk of Jesus’ death reminding me so vividly of my daughter’s death, I will still be taking the time to remember with thankfulness the price that Jesus paid so that I could have a relationship with Him. 

Yes this weekend is hard, as it brings back so many memories of Easter last year. How different things are now - yesterday marked 7 months since Hannah Grace died. But I am more thankful now for my relationship with God than I have ever been. I can not imagine how much harder this journey of grief would be without Him.

On a different note... today I also want to honour another little baby, that I’m sure Hannah is friends with in heaven. She was due to be born today, but last year she left this earth for her heavenly home. Thinking of her Mum today as she misses her sweet daughter xx