Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep and Sevenly...

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Have you heard of  Sevenly?
If not, you should check it out because this week Sevenly is supporting an organization near and dear to me. For every shirt or product purchased from Sevenly, a portion of the funds will go to help support Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep (NILMDTS).

NILMDTS was founded in 2005 by parents just like me who were left with photos and an empty heart after the passing of their infant son.  The organization, "trains, educates, and mobilizes professional quality photographers to provide beautiful heirloom portraits to families facing the untimely death of an infant." The photographers are volunteers, the services are free to the families, and currently NILMDTS is in all 50 states, 40 countries, and comprised of over 11,000 volunteers. Simply amazing.

Proudly displayed throughout my home are the NILMDTS photographs of my Addalyn taken by Diana. Diana is a local photographer who began volunteering for NILMDTS after experiencing her own heartache. 

After my water unexpectedly broke, Diana was contacted and she arrived at the hospital shortly after Addy's birth. She was armed with her camera and so delicately and loving captured every ounce of my daughter. 

Each and every picture (and I have hundreds) 
is a treasure and they bring me unexplainable joy.
I will forever be grateful to Diana and to Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Every time I see my counselor, her first question is always, "Aly, how are you?"
My initial response is always a standard,  "I am good."
She waits a few seconds and follows by saying, "How are you really?"

Sometimes the tears start flowing, sometimes the anger creeps up, and sometimes I am so numb that I don't even know how I am. But for the first time last week, before she even had the chance to utter her follow-up question, I responded "and I think for the first time in a really long time, I mean it."

She looked at me with a smile and the tears welled up in my eyes. 
There were days when I didn't know if I would ever get to a point when I would be able to say that I feel "good." But last week I did and even as I type those words, the tears well thinking about how that feels.

I don't know if it is because the divorce is behind me or because all of the components that constituted our life together have been separated. I don't know if it is because our bedroom has been completely redone into an oasis for me or because the last of his left behind things have found a new home. 

I don't know if it is because it is April and I made it through the first of every milestone without my beloved. Or if it is because of the amazing ways in which my family and friends have kept Addy's memory alive and celebrated her most precious life throughout the year. 

I don't know if it is because of the testimonies that I heard at Hope Spoken or my renewed understanding that my faith, which I have admittedly struggled with over the years, is the foundation of who I am.

I don't know if it is because the sun is shining and the weather is getting warm or because I have enrolled in a photography class, got my very first library card and having taken up reading, because I streamlined my social media outlets, signed up for my first 5k, or because I am planning out my soon to be planted garden.

I don't know what it is but last week, for the first time I truly felt good.
I felt as if my outward expression matched my inner self.

 I know the grief cycle well. 
I know as it spins, my spirit fluctuates with the ebb and flow and my emotions waver. 
So, I want to document last week. The week where I felt good, where I felt strong, and where I felt hopeful.

It is a feeling that I was not sure would ever come and I want to embrace it. 

Reflecting on Hope Spoken

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

I went not knowing anyone and without expectations and walked away overwhelmed by the depth and richness of God at work. 

Everyone has a story. Mine is a story of loss paralleled with betrayal.  Some have stories from their past and some uncertainty in their future. Some have stories of triumph or joy and some of pain or struggle. Regardless of what it is, everyone has a story. 

Gathering with other women who are willing to strip down to the core and share their inner most joy, struggles, triumph, or failures is freeing. From the words of my 20 year old sister, "For some reason we equate brokenness with weakness or imperfection, but really our brokenness is where God is complete.  When we share our lives with people it opens up completely different relationships and draws us nearer to each other and ultimately to our God."  Amen sister. 

That is what Hope Spoken was for me. The opportunity to hear other people share, to build each other up, and to be reminded of the richness of the one who can redeem.

I came home feeling ready. 
Ready to heal, to surrender areas of hurt that I continued to harbor, and ready to overhaul the distractions in my life so that I can hear, that I can focus, and that I can allow God to work. 

To Him, I am worthy. To Him, I am loved. To Him, I am enough.

You Are My Sunshine

Friday, April 4, 2014

Addalyn's 1st birthday was March 19th.
To celebrate, I planned a small birthday party in her honor.

There were proud grandparents, great grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. 

 There was laughter, tears, and joy as her life was remembered through words and pictures.

There were fresh flowers, cookies, cheesecakes, and cupcakes. 

There were, much to my surprise and amazement, hundreds of books collected to bless other families who experience loss and to carry on Addalyn's memory (a goal of $1,000 was set and I am so humbled to say that the goal was met).

There were lanterns sent sailing into the sky as the familiar words of  "Happy Birthday" were sung. 

And, there was one overjoyed momma at the celebration of her beloved daughter. 

Oh Addalyn, you my child are deeply loved.

To the moon and back. 


A most heartfelt thank you to wonderful staff at Shoal Creek Golf Course and to my dear friend Diana from Switch Focus Studios. Diana did our maternity photo session, captured the beautiful photos that I have of my Addalyn on the day of her birth, and took all the photos above from Addy's first birthday party. Diana, a fellow grieving momma, will always hold a special place in my heart.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

I made it. 

I have been longing for April.
The warmer weather, the beginning of spring, life in growth of the plants.  
But really, April means that I made it through the first of everything without my Addalyn. 
My first Mother's Day, her first Christmas, the anniversary of all the pregnancy milestones, and her first birthday. 

It wasn't always pretty. 
There were many tears and lots of heartache.

 But, it is April and I made it. 

Hope Spoken was the prefect way to end the month of March. 
I went not knowing what to expect but following that little tug within me. 
And I walked away feeling refreshed, encouraged, and ready.

Ready for what? 
I am not really certain but I am ready to simply allow God to work.

Designed with ♥ by Nudge Media Design