Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Broken Road

Yesterday I heard this song on my way to work.

Bless The Broken Road - Rascal Flatts

I set out on a narrow way many years ago
Hoping I would find true love along the broken road
But I got lost a time or two
Wiped my brow and kept pushing through
I couldn't see how every sign pointed straight to you

[Chorus:]
Every long lost dream led me to where you are
Others who broke my heart they were like Northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you
(Yes He did)

I think about the years I spent just passing through
I'd like to have the time I lost and give it back to you
But you just smile and take my hand
You've been there you understand
It's all part of a grander plan that is coming true.

[Chorus]

Yeah.

Now I'm just rolling home
Into my lover's arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you.

That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you.

I was singing along when suddenly I was hit with this realization....that this was more than a love song from a man to woman, it was a love song from me to Jesus.  It was a reminder message that God sent to me, a message to me that needed to be shared.
I had this image of a person singing this song with their arms stretched to heaven... singing it to the love of their life, Jesus.  But also singing it to God as a way to say Thank You.
My life, like many people's, has been trial after trial.  In my early years I struggled to find love, to be loved.  I wanted to feel important to someone.  I wanted someone to cherish me, to need me like I needed them.  I struggled to know where I fit in within my family, community and social circles and I felt like having a guy in my life who said he loved me and did things to show that love would fill that void.
And time after time I would find myself disappointed or hurt.  And I didn't get why it never seemed to work as I thought it should.  And so I tried again...and repeated the same mistakes over and over again.
I just didn't see that the love I was looking for was there all the time.  The love I sought was only a choice away, only a few heartfelt words away.
'I love you Jesus.  I believe in you, I believe you came to set me free from my sin'
I mean there were obviously a few more things that needed to be said, a few more actions that needed to be done but the fact is that it really was there the entire time.
God brought me so many places in hopes I would see Jesus.
He brought me to choices in relationships that seemed so obvious to my needy heart.  I thought the choice to love those guys, to give parts of my heart to them, was what would fill the void.  But God wanted me to see that the void couldn't be filled by men on earth.  He wanted me to choose Him.
He brought someone into my life that was facing the end of his so that I could see that I lived to legalistically and didn't take chances enough.  That I lived to please others and didn't follow my own heart...He brought me someone who taught me that life is too short to worry about what others think or to take life too seriously.  And then he brought  me to a place where my heart felt broken by a loss my 17 year old heart and head couldn't handle in hopes I would choose to lean on Him to get through it. And once again, I choose a different road.  It's actually the only time in my life that I consciously shut God out and wanted nothing to do with Him.
Patterns repeated for many years and every time I could not see that this broken road I traveled lead back to him.
Until my heart was so shattered by a loss that I had never dreamed would be mine.  My road was so broken, the path so hard to find.  I tripped and I stumbled on this dark road.  I frequently turned my head to look behind me wondering what I did to earn a place on this horrible broken road.  I looked back in hopes I could turn around and go back and make changes....ask more questions, educate myself more, insist on more ultrasounds, demand I be sent to a high risk specialist.  But I learned that this road didn't lead that direction.
I looked down at my feet to help guide them.  I tried to pick them up and avoid the cracks and crevices.  I tried to run faster over them so that I could get past this pain faster. But I just tripped harder on the bumps and ruts. I went off the path to avoid the parts of the road that were hard to get over.
None of it worked.
And then I looked up and way up in the distance I could see a faint street light that I could just make out.  It seemed out of my reach but I knew it was there.  And then one day it suddenly seemed so close and I was able to stand under it, look up and realize this light would help me to look ahead.  This light would help me to work my way through the ruts and bumps and would help me trudge through this brokenness. And when I finally escaped the darkness and accepted the light I found a love that made it all make sense.  Not the journey and the reasons behind it but why the bumps and ruts needed to happen.
And like this song says, "Now I'm just rolling home Into my lover Jesus's arms and I know this much is true...That God blessed the broken road hat led me straight to Jesus".
I often wish "the years I spent just passing through" could be taken back...that I could have found Jesus sooner and that all this wasted time could have been given back to Him.  But I know that he forgives all of the mistakes I've made.  He knows that each step of my journey needed to happen so that I could believe in the miracle of his birth and his death.  I needed to experience the pain of loss so I could appreciate heaven and eternal life.   It really is all "part of a grander plan that is coming true."
Thank you God for knowing me so much better than I know myself.  For leading me along the path and helping me to take each step forward.  And thank you Jesus for waiting for me. I am so very glad that "That God blessed the broken road that led me straight to you."

P.S. 
I need to share something that just occurred to me as I began to write this.  So often I struggle as I do devotions to remain focused and I struggle as I pray too.  I feel like I am just going through the motions but even more so, I feel like I never connect to God this way.  I beat myself up because I just don't ever seem to hear God's voice.  And right now, in these very moments I realized that my language of love for God isn't in the form of prayer or scripture but instead it's in the form of music and writing.  God speaks to me so often through a song.  If you were to look through this blog you would find post after post with songs that have spoken to me and I've shared and reflected on them.  I attended a session at church not that long ago that made me realize exactly this... that our relationship with Jesus is our own.  It doesn't always fit what we think it should.  We don't always connect the way we are 'told' we should connect or even the way we expect to connect.  And that's ok....it's actually awesome!  The key to this connection is sharing it with others because dollars to donuts someone else out there feels the same way.


Saturday, December 26, 2015

Filling the hole....

This amazing photo of my complete family was given to me this Christmas. It was taken by the talented Katy Kauth and edited by a friend of hers when I expressed to her how much I wanted a picture with all of my boys. 
I know that many people can't understand how important this photo is to me, why I would want it or why I would share it. There is no way to explain it except to say it fills a tiny bit of the hole that has existed in my heart since the day my boys were born and I wasn't able to see them together. I will always feel like part of my family is missing but having this picture helps me to visualize the completed version.
Being able to see what my family truly looks like fills my heart with such joy.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Reflections and Messages from Heaven

As this day of joy and hope wraps up I am feeling reflective. I went into last night feeling very emotional. It had been a rough few days as a mom and capped off with a very bad afternoon of trying to get ready for today with my whole family lazing around.

I felt unworthy of anyone's love and sure didn't feel like reading out the poems I adapted (see below) as the memorial candle was light. But God gave me the strength to get through it with ease just as He gave me a clear message from Cole. During the candle ceremony we sang Silent Night and during the first verse only I bawled like a baby. I had such a clear image of Cole in a calm and peaceful night scene snuggled up and 'sleeping in heavenly peace'.

Initially I felt tremendous sadness but suddenly my candle seemed to glow brighter and my heart felt lighter and I knew Cole was telling me he was missing me too but that he was at peace and I needed to be too.

And for the rest of the service, though tears came again a few times, I began to feel such peace come into my heart. Pastor Jeff spoke about those of us who don't feel worthy of God's love needing to see that Jesus accepts us for who we are and forgives us for all we think we do to make us unworthy. I knew then that God knew my heart was burdened and he humbled me to admit my fears, worries, mistakes and sins.

I felt such tearful joy by the end of the service. I still felt like part of my family was missing (though I'll share that I have a wonderful gift that I was given yesterday to share that helps to fill this particular void...and I will post that in the next few days) but I felt a clarity about this. I knew that God was telling me it was ok to miss Cole and that Cole misses me too. He is in a place of heavenly peace and I can have my own earthly version of this heavenly peace by just opening my heart to Jesus.

And the rest of the night went off without tears (or any other negative emotions or visits from nasty mommy LOL). And today was a day without any deep sadness at all. I am so very blessed. I have the love and support of a man who has walked through all of this with me and who has stood beside me, and I beside him, through some very difficult personal moments. I am blessed with the love and adoration of 4 beautiful sons. And most of all, I am loved by a forgiving and humble God.

Merry Christmas to all on earth and in heaven. May the peace of heaven surround you all whole you sleep.

Christmas in Heaven

I see the countless Christmas trees,
Around the world below.
With tiny lights, like heaven's stars,
Reflecting on the snow.
The sight is so spectacular,
Please wipe away that tear.
For I'm spending Christmas,
With Jesus Christ this year.

I hear the many Christmas songs,
That people hold so dear.
But the sounds of music can't compare,
With the Christmas choir up here.
I can't tell you of the splendor,
Or the peace here in this place.
Can you just imagine Christmas,
With our Savior, face to face?

I know how much you miss me,
I see the pain inside your heart
But I am not so far away,
We really aren't apart.
So be happy for me dear ones
You know I hold you dear
And be glad I'm spending Christmas
With Jesus Christ this year.

I sent you each a special gift
From my heavenly home above,
I sent you each a memory
Of my undying love.
After all love is a gift
More precious than pure gold.
It was always most important
In the stories Jesus told.

Please love and keep each other
As my Father said to do.
For I can't count the blessing of love
He has for each of you.
So have a merry Christmas and wipe away that tear.
Remember I am spending Christmas
With Jesus Christ this year.

I'll ask Him to light your spirit,
As I tell Him of your love.
So then pray one for another,
As I lift you eyes above.
Please let your hearts be joyful,
And let your spirit sing.
For I'm Spending Christmas in Heaven,
And I'm walking with the King.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

A Gift for an Angel or a Gift from an Angel

Well another year of reliving is almost over... it usually takes til around Dec. 19th (the day we found out Cameron was going to be ok) for the darkness to lift completely.  For the most part, though, I don't think people would think of it as a time of darkness.  I don't think I show that side, I don't think I live under a cloud of sorrow for those 8 days...but maybe people would disagree. 
This year December 13th fell on a Sunday and this meant I spent part of the day at my church...a place that brings me such great joy and hope.  By some divine plan, this year I was asked to sing on the worship team on Sunday.  I knew it could prove to be a challenge to be up in front of the whole congregation (of 350 or so) on a day that I felt so vulnerable and so I rose early so I could get my tears out and my emotions under control.  I wrote my annual blog post about this day, had my big cry and felt ready for the day.  Being on the worship team was awesome.  It was a distraction but it was also joy building.  I love to sing and I love to praise God this way so this seemed like the perfect thing to do on this day.  Pastor Jeff had a wonderful sermon on hope and what that means to Christians...
 

Romans 5:1-5

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b] boast in the hopeof the glory of God. Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Passages like this have always spoken to me because I feel like this is the story of Cole...and of Cameron, Jodie, Geoff, Zack and Brycen.  We suffered but we perservered.  Our perservernce brought about changes in our character that no one, especially us, could have anticipated.  And it was that change in character that brought us to a feeling of hope...an awareness that there were greater things out there.  That God had a plan for us and Jesus could and would forgive us for our sins and give us eternal life....where we would once again be united with our sweet son Cole. 
 
Paster Jeff also spoke of what hope means at Christmas...and how we can share our hope in Jesus with others.  There were many ideas shared but the general theme was giving of ourselves so that others could feel hope.  And so, that afternoon, we started a new tradition.  We went  as a family and shopped for a gift for Cole.  We picked out something we knew a 6 year old boy would love...because we have a six year old boy who offered great suggestions.  We purchased this gift out of love and we brought it home.  Late that night we wrapped it up as a family and we talked.  We talked about all the things Cole would have loved about this gift and how he would have played with it.  And then we placed a name tag on it that had been chosen from an 'Angel Tree'...well from a list of boys and girls whose parents just aren't able to provide the Christmas they wish they could for their kids.  And we blessed it and lovingly placed in a special place awaiting it's delivery to our churches Christmas Blessings event committee. 



And so the day was a really good one for the most part. (we'll just leave out the part where the kids would not stop fighting long enough to get this done until mommy got tired of yelling and became very quiet and emotional...it's amazing how quickly they get back on track when they realize their mom is hurting)  It had it's moments but for the first time ever my kids, especially Cameron, talked about Cole with curiousity, hope and peace. Cameron is at an age where he expresses that he misses his twin brother often but it is rare that he seems sad....it's more of a matter of fact statement then an emotional state.  They loved our new tradtion and it's defintely something that will happen each year.  Buying a gift for Cole it's something that is heartwarming and heartwrenching but it feels so right.  It almost felt like a gift that Cole was giving us rather then we were giving him or the little boy who will receive it.
I know that he is forever with us and this tradtion seemed to give us just one more connection to him.  I will live each day for this child who lives in my heart and this is just one more step in seeing him and his presence in my very existence.  He may not walk this earth but his footsteps will be felt by others. 
 
I found this quote and just felt it was the best thing to leave this post off with....
 
As long as I can I will look at this world for both of us, as long as I can, I will laugh with the birds, I will sing with the flowers, I will pray to the stars, for both of us. - Author Unknown

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Thing About Forever....

This morning I set my alarm with the intent of getting up and going for a morning walk and a mourning walk.  I am sad, today is a sad day, let's get that part out of the way.  I planned to come back and put some thoughts on paper and then prepare for my day...simple right???
But instead I woke feeling no desire to go anywhere and just wanted to remember and cry.  And so I have been.  Remembering those moments 7 years ago when my world changed.  Remembering how I woke up that morning so full of optimism.  I woke to kicks from Cole.  I know I did.  I know he was alive when I woke up.  I know he greeted the day with me that day.  I am guessing he took that moment to say goodbye and left left us forever.  Gone.  Before he ever took a breath.  Gone.  Forever.
And yet not gone.  He left behind a perfect memory who looks just like him and he left behind a legacy.
In looking for some inspiration for something to write today I came across this quote from a book called The Thing About Forever by Sarah Dessen.  I think it's a book I need to read....
“That was the thing. You never got used to it, the idea of someone being gone. Just when you think it's reconciled, accepted, someone points it out to you, and it just hits you all over again, that shocking.” 
― Sarah DessenThe Truth About Forever

And that truly is it.  You never get used to it.  This year has been exceptionally hard for me in this way.  I think I thought I would be more used to it by now.  That the pain would lessen. The gut wrenching feeling when I think of those days 7 years ago would be lessened, maybe even gone.  That I would be more used to the emotions that come about this time of year.  That I would miss him less, remember him and this day with a greater sense of peace.  That I would just be 'used to' him being gone. But that 's not happening. Today I feel like it's December 13, 2008 all over again.  Like I'm hearing those words "I'm sorry this baby is dead.  This baby has no heartbeat" all over again.  And I'm weeping all over again.
I feel like I haven't reconciled it.  I haven't accepted it.  I am experiencing it all over again and it is shocking.
I miss my son, I miss the joys of expecting twins.  I miss the anticipation of the memories I thought I would be building over the last 7 years.  I miss you so much Cole.
Now don't get me wrong.  We have built some amazing memories over the last 7 years that would not have been possible if this day had not happened.  I am so very proud of the things that we have done in the last 7 years to honour this little boy who left us so soon.  I have built a legacy that I am proud of.  I know I've changed the lives of others because of the change Cole made in me.
And maybe, 360 or so days of the year, that makes it easier.  But this time of year, today especially, it doesn't make it easier and it doesn't lessen the pain.
The Thing About Forever is that it's....Forever.
Forever my heart will ache on this day.
Forever my heart will break again on this day.
Forever I will cry on this day.
Forever I will wish things were different on this day.
Forever I will remember every minute of this day.
And Forever I will miss all that should have been on this day.

In my search for inspiration I also found this from the same book....
“Some people, they can't just move on, you know, mourn and cry and be done with it. Or at least seem to be. But for me... I don't know. I didn't want to fix it, to forget. It wasn't something that was broken. It's just...something that happened. And like that hole, I'm just finding ways, every day, of working around it. Respecting and remembering and getting on at the same time. ” 
― Sarah DessenThe Truth About Forever


And I guess that is the thing.  Some people can move on and be done with it.  Some people think I should do this.  Some people wonder how I can dwell on this so much 7 years later.  Almost all of those people have never been through anything like this and they don't get that each and every day when you've lost an identical twin your loss slaps you upside the head.  It doesn't EVER go away....and that's ok....it really is.  Better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all right?  Right?  RIGHT!!!!  It really is right.  It is ok that each day Cameron reminds me of my loss, of our family's loss.  Because without that constant reminder we would have nothing.  And Sarah Dessen is so right.  I don't want to fix this pain, to fix it and forget it.  It's not broken so it can't be fixed.  My heart might be broken but my life without my son isn't something that is and so it can't be fixed.

It's just something that happened and it is a hole in my life that will be there forever.  It can be filled with love, with joy, with memories, with legacies, with tributes, with honour and even with peace.  But it will never be completely filled over and it will be something I work around forever.  This hole must be respected and remembered because it existed.
He existed.
He exists.
He is my son and he exists and I will never stop....
Never stop loving him.
Never stop missing him.
Never.
The Thing About Forever is it never stops.
The Thing about my love is it never stops.
The Thing about Forever....

I miss you Cole Edward Ryan Tummers and this day is yours....Forever.....


Friday, December 11, 2015

Fearfully and wonderfully made


Psalm 139:13–14
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

Today marks the seventh anniversary of the day my life changed forever. But today I don't want to remember what happened in the afternoon of December 11th 2008. Today I want to remember what happened from September 20th 2008 to December 11th 2008. I want to dwell on the memories of being told I was expecting identical twins. I want to focus on the joy that it was to know that God had given me these two identical little beings to grow in my womb. I mean think about it. What an astronomical, amazing miracle it is that one egg can split into two perfect little beings.  And God chose me to have that happen. He chose my body for Cameron and Cole to grow inside of. Pretty amazing.

I remember the day I learned that I was carrying twins. I wasn't exactly happy and although I was worried and scared and freaking out, I was also filled with joy and excitement. I told everyone I saw, showed my ultrasound to all I met and basked in their excitement for us.

I'm not sure exactly when I felt the boys move for the first time but I think it was around 16 to 17 weeks. It wasn't intense movements but it was more than I'd ever felt this early in a pregnancy.  It was like constant butterflies, tiny flutterings that reminded me of the miracles inside of me interacting with each other. It was coolest feeling ever.

I think some of the greatest memories I have were the ultrasounds I had... watching my two babies interact with each other inside of me. Cole was my mover and shaker. He would kick and wiggle and just be crazy inside and Cam, surprisingly enough,  was always pretty subdued and laid back. He took the kicks from his brother and he just lay there and moved around.   It's kind of interesting to me given how crazy busy Cameron is now. Makes me think that Cole's energy and spirit really does live inside of his twin's body.

Initially in my twin pregnancy I actually wasn't gaining weight or getting any bigger.  Before I knew I was carrying twins I thought something was wrong.  That's why I think the news was the biggest shock of my life. I went into the ultrasound almost expecting they were going to tell me something was wrong with the baby because I felt so different than in previous pregnancies. Turns out I should feel pretty different because there was two babies.

Anyway, I probably didn't change the shape or size until about 15-16 weeks and then all of a sudden it was almost like an explosion. My brother Josh was getting married around that time and I had gotten a dress altered to be made smaller for me because I had lost some weight. The alterations had been done after I found out I was pregnant but before I knew I was carrying twins...so the seamstress had allowed some room for growth.  When I back for my final fitting two weeks before the wedding at the dress actually needed to be let out. Along came the day of the wedding and low and behold the dress was uncomfortable because in 2 weeks I had grown again and now it was too small again!!!

That year was one of those years where Thanksgiving was really really warm and I struggled to find maternity clothes at only 16 weeks pregnant that would fit over my growing belly for the family gathering we had.  I still look back at that and think wow at 16 weeks I already needed to have maternity pants and shirts on. Crazy.

I was a of an obsessive planner when I was pregnant with the boys. I needed to figure out all the details. Could I work fill time or would childcare be nuts...that was my first focus. That was the very day I found out and before I made it to Teeswater 2 hours after finding out I had already calculated 4 different scenarios!
Next came the stroller dilemma. I spent HOURS online looking at different ones and trying to find used ones.  We even took our then 5 and 2 year olds to babies are us to put them in double strollers to find the best one. It was actually my first (and in the end, only) twin product purchase.
My next obsession became bedrooms. Funding a second crib was pretty easy but trying to figure out how to put the older boys together in the smaller of the two bedrooms was a challenge. I actually designed bunk beds with storage in them and began trying to convince Geoff and his dad to make them!

And speaking of obsessions...breastfeeding....that was my greatest fear. I never worried about the health of my babies. Never feared preterm labour. Nope. ...my greatest worry was how on earth do you nurse two babies at the same time.

As time went on and my babies got bigger I began to feel more and more movements...usually from baby a's side...Cole's side. Like I said, Cam was very laid back inutero. I loved feeling them move and could hardly wait for the movements to be strong enough for Geoff to feel.

I remember telling people I was having twins and being beyond excited. It was just so amazing to be carrying two babies. I got uncomfortable but it felt so worth it.

Our greatest focus seemed to be on gender. I have read through so many of my 'memories' posts on facebook over the last month or two and atleast once a week there was a post on gender. We pictured matching clothes, matching Halloween costumes, toys in pairs and all kinds of things like that.  Excitement grew and grew as did my belly.

Today I just feel so blessed that I took this journey. I won't lie and say my emotions aren't still up and down but I am trying to focus on the time before those fated 4 letters/words came into my life.

The irony that this scripture crossed my path this morning is not lost on me. Seven years ago this morning was the very last time I was living in blissful twin pregnancy naivety. That afternoon I learned my babies were sick and our journey in the world of TTTS began. Today I remember that God knit my boys in my womb and they were, and are, wonderfully made. I want to remember the wonderful works they are and forget, for today, the pain that exists after that diagnosis.

Psalm 139:13–14
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Unspeakable Joy, Unsettling Sadness

This morning I went out for a walk for the first time in a few weeks. Usually I listen to worship music but this morning I decided to listen to Christmas music. I found myself admiring the beautiful Christmas lights while I listen to O Holy Night and Silent Night. My heart was filled with joy at the excitement of Christmas almost being here.
But then, suddenly, I found myself with tears streaming down my face as I walk the streets of town. I thought about Cole and I thought about our journey. I thought about this week and where we're at and I just couldn't believe how suddenly sad I felt. I don't understand how I can feel so happy and so sad in the same moment. I don't understand how I can feel so excited and so upset at the same time. I just don't understand myself this week.
Seven years ago about today, or so the doctors figure, twin to twin transfusion syndrome began in my body. They know that it was around this time because Cole only had eight centimeter pockets of fluid and the boys were about the same size. Normally in twin to twin you see one big baby and one small baby you see one with a lot of fluid well above 8 centimeters and one with none. Eight centimeters is the minimum fluid amount needed by a recipient to even be considered TTTS.
Because we only had eight centimeters the doctors were very sure that it is only been happening for 3 days at best that puts us to seven years ago today. Seven years ago today my body started dysfunctioning on me. Seven years ago today an onslaught happened to my body that eventually stole my child from me. I hate it ithat it still makes me so angry  because I also know that it led me to become who I am today. How can these emotions to be all twisted up together? How can I feel so many conflicting emotions at the same time?
I love Christmas, I always have, but I find myself not even wanting to celebrate sometimes.  I don't want to be joyful when my heart is so sad. I don't want to be happy when I'm so angry.
I prayed this morning for God to help me to get through the next few days without so many mixed up emotions but I think he's trying to tell me that the mix of emotions are oka. That it's part of who I am and part of what this journey is about. Learning to be the new me has taken me, well 7 years,  and I'm not done yet. I am nowhere near done yet. But then again maybe I won't be done until I get to the other side. When I hold Cole in my arms again and I see his beautiful face then I will be done. Then it all makes sense. Until then I guess I need to accept that mixed up emotions are part of who I am.

Pray for me please friends.  I fear sometimes that I'll cry in front of the wrong person.  I know it's a silly fear but its one that eats at me at times too. I never know what people will think of where I am 7 years later...
Thanks for reading.