Friday, February 24, 2017

3 Years of...

3 years ago today we were facing the worst pain of our lives. We were saying goodbye to our "miracle." For me, it was not only the emotional, mental, and spiritual pain but also the worst physical pain. Even as I am writing this, I realize that it was at this same time of night that Brandon was holding our baby girl for the first time. I wasn't even awake yet.  She was still warm to the touch, though she had already entered heaven a half hour before. The memories of that horrific day and night haven't gone away. Neither have the tears.

But neither does the realization that we absolutely cannot deny God's presence that day or now. Nor can I question God's love for me. Today I thought about how incredibly close the doctors say I was to death...within just minutes. And I also recalled the timing of the events during the surgery itself. God intervened on at least three specific times that day to save my life.

So today, even though there's still grief, there is a lot of thankfulness. Thankfulness for how God keeps healing the hurt.                                         Thankfulness for friends remembering our Dani Grace's birthday and life. Thankfulness for a supportive husband by my side.
Thankfulness for a precious son who ran to throw his arms around me when he saw me cry. (And he alone is evidence to our family that God loves us.)
Thankfulness that my daughter's life has and still is being used for His glory.
Thankfulness that Danielle doesn't have to deal with a broken sin-cursed world and all that comes with it.

And mostly I am thankful that even though I miss her, it's not forever. I have the knowledge and hope that I will see her again in heaven. And what would I do without that and a God who loves me?

Monday, September 26, 2016

One Year of Joy

     Yesterday Colin turned ONE. And boy did the memories flood back to us. And for me the tears came as well. But that's nothing new. Brandon can attest to that. ;)  Because I often recall the deep, deep valleys we have been through, and now I can literally see God's goodness to us through Colin's face each day.

     It was so fitting that on such a special day yesterday that I was reminded -- no, actually I was hit hard -- of how the Lord has walked with us through our mountaintops and valleys.  You see, He did a miraculous thing in my heart because He restored my joy and peace in HIM even before we knew we were expecting Colin.  And that's just plain amazing to me. God knew that He could glorify Himself through our story by using our sorrow and the love of another very special family to even more show His goodness and grace. We have had the very unique privilege of getting to see His plan unfolded before our eyes.

     We know many of you prayed for us over the past years, and we thank you.  I just have to say that looking back I KNOW that prayers have carried us. Just a few examples...This frame (in the picture above) was given to me years ago by a friend who prayed truly believing that God would fill that frame with a beautiful picture one day. And He did. Another sweet friend showed me yesterday in her Bible where she had written down her prayer for us, trusting God to do something great for us. My heart overflows with thankfulness for the love of others.

 Of course we would have loved Colin no matter when he had come, but I must say that every moment, even the things like losing sleep, are truly so much sweeter because of this journey. (Yes, this sleep-loving mommy just said that!)    

     Colin is our icing on the cake of life. And speaking of icing...and cake...we had such a special time celebrating this precious little's guy's first year. 
                Colin ate his cake in the same highchair that Mommy ate her one year birthday cake in.

"The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy." 
Psalm 126:3

Friday, May 6, 2016

A Momma's Thoughts

     This week I barely made it out of Walmart without bursting into tears. Of course. It's right before Mother's Day. I'm usually in tears this week. But this was different. A sweet older lady had asked to see my baby, who was sound asleep in his stroller.  Not unusual...I almost never go through a store anymore without someone wanting to see and talk to my precious sidekick. (Which I absolutely love by the way.) But as we were parting, this lady wished me a Happy Mother's Day. And all the emotions of those words hit me.

     Though I've been a mother for years, this is the first time someone has said those words to me because they actually recognized me as such. A mommy. It's an unspeakably hard thing to know you have a child (in my case children), but they aren't here on the general public doesn't know to recognize you in the Mother group that you know you belong in. Or even worse, people know but still don't give you recognition as a mom.

     So --  Happy Mother's Day to my friends who have children in heaven with mine. What a celebration we will all have when we are together one day!  And I truly pray you can still find some celebration this weekend because of their precious lives.   
I think it has taken me by surprise how much having Colin here has made me miss Dani Grace so deeply. I can compare their faces, and I talk to him about his sissy...especially when he tries to pull on the commemorative chain I wear. :) This weekend I will be celebrating what God has done for us and each life He loaned to us...whether that be for weeks or months.
Oh. And speaking of what He has own sweet mom gets to celebrate this year holding her grandson. A complete, true miracle when last year at this time we didn't know if she would get to experience being a Grammy to Colin.  To HIM be the glory! 
 We recently stood before our family and friends at church and dedicated our son to the Lord. This was really more for Brandon and me than Colin...we were simply expressing to others what we had told God long before Colin was born. We will seek to raise him in a way that honors the One Who created him.
And I pray that Colin will come to know the same God Who has brought JOY to my heart this Mother's Day.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

One year ago today...

It's amazing what a year can bring forth.  Last year at this time I was totally exhausted from driving the 2 hour stretch to Charlottesville almost every day after teaching. My mom was in the hospital at UVA in the middle of serious health issues. (Brandon spent his January birthday with her in the hospital just like we had done for Christmas.)  And in the midst of all this, we were going through the process to have our dream of parenthood fulfilled. Admittedly, there were times that I would question the timing, but we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God had orchestrated everything to happen exactly at that time. And we are so glad He did.  A year has passed and we are so thankful for our little gift who is currently filling our house with his rather loud squeals. :)  


Monday, November 16, 2015

Our Story....

For those who may have missed it or just want another opportunity to view, here is the story as it aired on WSLS last week. Lindsey did an amazing job and we are so grateful to her and WSLS for allowing us to share our story!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Colin Anderson Williams 9/25/15

October 17th, 2013.  The day we found out that we were expecting Danielle.  I remember sitting in the recliner looking out at our beautiful maple in the backyard, its leaves aglow with gorgeous hues of deep crimson. The fall season has always been my favorite.  But that morning especially, the crisp air went straight to refreshing my soul. I had such a feeling of contentment. Fulfillment. Of something -- someone -- long awaited and prayed for. Fulfillment that would still leave a longing in my heart.
Two years later to the day.  This is my view. A view that literally causes tears to well up in my eyes.  Because now I actually have that fulfillment WITH me. In my arms. I have his beautiful eyes and smile to look at. And it absolutely captures and overwhelms me. I have gone to the passage above hundreds of times in the last year. I began praying it even before we were pregnant with Colin. Isaiah 64:3-4. "...when YOU did awesome things which we did not expect."  Enough said. This whole chapter in our lives was not expected. God completely unfolded it right before us.  "...WHO acts in behalf of the one who waits for HIM."  I marked this passage in November of last year. We had met the Andersons at this point and felt it was God's leading to move forward in this process. So I asked God to continue to work on our behalf. And He did in a marvelous way.
It's been 3 weeks of absolutely soaking in this precious bundle that God has loaned us. There are so many emotions that I have experienced in the last few weeks. I haven't written a lot yet about our precious one, because quite frankly...I still cannot comprehend it or put it accurately into words. (And of course there's that "no sleep" thing which makes it a bit hard to write coherently!)  I still have moments when I hear something about parenting a baby, and all of a sudden realize --"Hey! I'm included in that now."  My heart spent so long being guarded and wishing to be part of that mommy club, who could talk about sleepless nights and midnight feedings. I still miss our 3 in heaven (our first baby, Dani, and Colin's twin), and my heart still hurts for those friends who are still waiting and asking God to fulfill their heart's desire.  I want you to know that I still pray for you in the middle of the night. Our past journey has made holding this sweet Little Man that much more joyful. To the point of tears and the realization of...

Sacrifice. While we were waiting as Autumn endured a very LONG arduous labor, I had gone to the waiting room...completely overcome with tears at what was happening. We had sacrificed so much to get to this point. The Andersons had sacrificed so much. We've had to put a lot of trust in each other as couples. But I stood there thinking that this is one of the clearest pictures on earth that I have been given of what sacrifice is. Completely and totally God's love to me poured out through someone else. As  I looked at a gorgeous sunset out the window, I could not help but think of Jesus' love and death for me. I hope you get the gift of seeing such a clear picture of this in your life. 

We kept Little Man's name a secret till his birth...because I was pretty adamant that I wanted Autumn and Donovan to be the first to hear it. 
Colin. Meaning "People's Victory." He is a victorious chapter to our story. (And also the only name Brandon and I finally agreed on.) 
Anderson. Pretty self explanatory. After I cut the cord (an amazing experience), Autumn instantly asked his name. I got to tell her and Donovan that Colin would forever carry their name in honor of what they had done for us.  Yes, he is biologically ours. A precious, precious thing that every day we get to look at him and see the resemblance he holds to Dani Grace.  But he will also know this amazing family and their part in his life. 

Headed to the hospital!
 Up all night waiting for Little Man

The following photos courtesy of Mary Wall -- Because It's Joy Photography

 On Sister's blanket

We love you Colin Anderson Williams.
Mommy and Daddy