Strength

Strength comes in many forms and looks different for many people.

Since the loss of our daughter, my husband and I have been described as strong. I think the phrase “hot mess” is more fitting, however.

In our time of grief and confusion, I feel anything but strong, yet it is the word that I’ve heard over and over again.

One of my main sources of strength is this man right here;

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I’ve been loving this hunk for over 10 years. The day I married him I thought that I loved him more than I ever could.

I was wrong. On September 9, 2013 he became a daddy. I just thought I loved him before.

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When I saw my husband become a father, I felt a different kind of love. I fell more in love with this man.I watched Jacob accomplish so many things in his life; graduating from college, becoming a fire firefighter, a paramedic, buying our first home, but the moment when I realized I was capable of loving him more was when I saw him hold our daughter for the first time.

Jacob adored our babe. He was a great dad and loved that girl more than ANYTHING! Emma loved her daddy so much too! I’ll swallow my pride and say that she was in fact a daddy’s girl. To see my two loves together made my heart melt. Watching Jacob as a daddy was a constant reassurance that he was in fact the man I had always dreamed of.

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(look how happy she is in his arms)

Our relationship has grown and evolved with every success, failure, triumph, and tragedy we’ve encountered.

Just when I thought I couldn’t love my husband more, I was wrong again.

From the moment our daughter became an angel, my husband has taken care of me.

He has seen my ugly cry, heard my foul mouth, and watched me fall to my knees, all while loving me.

He is my strength. He is the only person who knows what its like to live this life. He is the person that I don’t have to explain my feelings to, he already knows. Having his love and support makes me hopeful for our future.

I’ve seen a side of him that I had never known in our 10 years. I’ve always known him to be loving and caring, but now, I’ve again realized that my love for him has once again, grown.

Jacob and I have a long road ahead of us. When Emma passed away, that night we stayed up late talking, crying, and praying. One of the things that we agreed upon was that we would take care of each other and not let this tear us apart. That’s exactly what we intend on doing.

The following quote was sent to us shortly after Emma passed away from a mother who unfortunately knew our pain.

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“Rainbows don’t mean that the storm never happened, it means that something beautiful has appeared in the midst of the darkness.”

I look forward to our rainbow after the storm!

Prayerful and Present

Kelli

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From Me to Mom and Back Again

15 years ago if someone would have asked me what I wanted to do in life I would’ve given them a long list of things that included traveling, writing books that were so good more than just my mom would buy, and spontaneously jumping in the car without a true destination. I would’ve told you that I would run a marathon one day, OK so some of my dreams were a little unrealistic, but I had them nonetheless. It would’ve also included things like being married to a man that was more than just pretty to look at, someone who I could have deep, meaningful conversations with one minute and laugh and joke with the next. I wanted to be a stay at home mom, raising as many prim, proper, well behaved children as I could afford, be a PTA member, packing cute little lunches that you see on Pinterest, and having the prettiest, happiest, and cleanest house on the street.

I regret to say that only a portion of those things have been done, and in a slightly generic form.

Somewhere along the way I stopped being me and started being Mom. I love my children more than anything in this world. I prayed for each one of them. But if you’re a parent, you know that parenting ain’t easy. My travels are limited and now-a-days involve some sort of kid area. The book I dreamed of writing is more like chicken scratch in a journal. Although I married a good-looking man, I don’t know when the last real conversation about non-kid related topics with my husband was. My kids eat school lunch. I’m certain that no one has described my three crazy, beautiful children as prim or proper. I would however, consider them well behaved because most of the time I consider them monkeys! And if I’m just trying to see the silver lining here, my monkeys are very well behaved in the circus that I’m attempting to run. At the end of each long, exhausting day I look out into the three rings and I thank God that I was choosen as their ringmaster regardless if it looks a little different than my dreams did back then.

Monkeys; Jake and Luke Cutest little monkey; Bailey

Changing jobs from “me” to “mom” meant that I lost alone time, being able to eat a hot meal and not have to share with tiny humans, the ability to grocery shop by myself, naps, God, I miss naps, and every thing else I could so freely do before I changed jobs. It’s so easy to just want a break, or to be able to go to the bathroom alone. Those days as a mom, girlfriend, they’re long gone.

And then, out of nowhere life changed. A wrecking ball came into my life and did exactly what wrecking balls do. Parts of my world came crashing down and now I find myself in an unplanned situation. Something that wasn’t on my 15 year plan. Every couple of days I say goodbye to all three of my children and hand them over to their dad while I constantly remind myself to “get it together” and fight back the tears that well up in my eyes.

And then it’s quiet. No crying, no arguing or fighting, no more little voices asking for a snack for the 50th time in one hour, nothing. It’s the sound of something that the mother of 3 under 3 never hears, and if I did, it meant someone was probably doing something they shouldn’t be.

That silence is eliminated fairly quickly with the sound of housework, a keyboard typing lesson plans, and pretty much everything else that I didn’t get to do while the circus was taking place.

When my kids were with me, all I wanted was a break, just to be able to sit for a moment, use the restroom without an audience.

Now I have it, and all I want are my kids.

I cannot change this situation I’ve found myself in, and I’m okay with that. So I will use this time to be selfish for once and devote it all to myself!

Now is the time for me to do whatever it is I want to do. Becoming a mom should never mean that any woman stops being who they were before or who they want to be in the future but unfortunately it does.

So now I’m going to take this opportunity to find that person that I wanted to be. I’m going to read more, run in general, finish that book that I started more years ago than I’d like to admit, and eat foods that arent shaped like dinosaurs.

I’m going to do me. I’m taking care of myself mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually so that when I’m with my children I’ll be the best mom that I can be, the happy mom that they deserve.

I don’t wish my situation upon anyone, but what I do wish is that mommas were given the time to recharge and that the roles they take on weren’t just assumed.

This season of life is not one that I ever predicted to go through, it wasn’t on my bucket list. I learned about 3 1/2 years ago when my daughter unexpectedly passed away that I’m not in control. My plans are not better or more perfect than God‘s plan. I cannot lean on my own understanding, because Lord knows I’d topple over. I just have to trust in my faith and let it be.

I have prayed wholeheartedly, sought the advice of friends and professionals, and weighed every option. I am ok, I’m at peace.

Prayerful and Present

Kelli Turner

#goals

As a writing teacher, I’m constantly letting my students know that I, just like them, am a writer, too. I talk about how I’ve been writing a book for about 10 years longer that I’d like to admit, and how I’ve had work that I was proud of, be turned away from editors because it wasn’t quite ready yet. I’ve tried to use my own trials as motivation for them.

Inevitably, my students always focus on that one line, “I’ve been writing a book….” And with that, they all want to read it. The problem is, it isn’t complete. Sure, in my head it is, but that part isn’t tangible, it cannot be read. Of all the questions I get, the most common question “Why isn’t it finished?” is the one I struggle to answer.

Here I am, a writing teacher for goodness sake, expecting my students to write and yet, I haven’t. All the while I thought sharing my experiences as a writer would help my students, it set the tone that it’s totally acceptable to take forever long to complete a task, regardless of how big. Not exactly where I was going with that…

Somewhere along the way, life happened. I stopped pursuing my dreams and put those on the back burner.

One day in class, I talked to my students about goal setting and how one is more likely to achieve their goal by simply writing it down. So that day, we thought about goals we had for ourselves, we wrote them down, and we held on to them.

On October 31, 2018, I wrote, “My goal is to have my work published, in some form, within a year.” I’ve carried that orange post-it note in my wallet since that day.goals.gif

A couple of weeks ago, I took a leap and applied to be a contributing writer for The Dallas Mom’s Blog. Today, I received an email saying that I had been selected. I get the opportunity to write one blog a month for an entire year.

To say I’m excited would be an understatement. I’m excited for what this opportunity holds, but more importantly, I’m excited to tell my students, that I did it. I set a goal, and I achieved it.

What is your goal? What have you always wanted to do but for whatever reason, you haven’t? Write it down, hold yourself accountable.

Prayerful and Present 

Kelli Turner 

Finding Faith in Our Future Hope

I’ve always considered myself to be a faithful person. I believe in God and I have always tried to live a godly life.

And then my daughter died unexpectedly. 

Her name was Emma, and she was a beautiful, independent, sometimes stubborn 16 month old blonde haired, blue-eyed girl. She was mine and my husband’s only child. The child that we wholeheartedly prayed for. She was our world.

On January 29, 2015, I was called from my classroom, where I had just released my students, to go to the office and wait. A request that seemed unusual, but nonetheless, I waited. I was taken by my principal who appeared to be in a panic. She told me we were going to the hospital. Naturally, since my husband is firefighter and was on shift that day, I thought he must have gotten hurt. It wasn’t him. I wasn’t given many details other than that Emma had been taken to the hospital and I needed to get here fast. That’s never a good thing. Most everything from there is a blur. I went into a room filled with white coats and scrubs. People working tirelessly, though not saying much. I knew. The silence was evidence enough. Emma didn’t survive the accident that occurred while she was with her babysitter.

When I fell on that cold, nasty, hospital floor I asked God why? I begged Him to bring her back. He didn’t. I pleaded with Him to spare her life. He didn’t.

Just like that, everything that I thought and believed about my God suddenly seemed contorted. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t mad when God didn’t answer my prayers. I was angry, sad, confused, and grief stricken. I was quick to see what God wasn’t doing in my life and slow to see what He was doing.

At the time I didn’t realize that God was presenting himself in the form of others. God was there when a young, brown-haired nurse met my husband and I on a cold, trash littered hospital floor and asked to prayer over us. He was there that night riding front seat on a fire truck with my husband’s crew sympathetically holding enough food to feed a small army. He sat with us from the early morning sunrise to well-past dark, daily sharing tears, silence, and the occasional laugh. God dropped gifts at our door, rang the bell, and then left. 

Those deeds were God’s work. It was the actions of others that opened my eyes to see that He was there all along. In Matthew 5:16 the Bible says, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” When my daughter stopped breathing I thought He stopped working. But God sends people into our lives to do His good deeds. While in my selfishness I thought God didn’t hear me, or dare I say, care about me, I was wrong. When I thought He wasn’t there, He was. He sent those who believe to share His word and His love.

Through my journey I’ve learned so much about myself, my marriage, faith, and eternity. I pray daily to give thanks for the blessings in my life, not just when I need help. I see the world a bit differently as I’ve learned first-hand that life is precious. My marriage is stronger than ever as my husband physically and emotionally picked me up from the lowest point. We have cared for each other, often times as if reading the other’s mind. Because we experienced such grief together I don’t have to explain or justify my thoughts or sudden teary outbursts. I’ve grown closer to God and sought out scripture to help me to better understand, and to cope with the loss. I believe that happiness is a choice. Having a relationship with God makes that choice easy for me. Eternity is a place we all long to be. My daughter is there, I’m certain reaping all the benefits heaven has to offer. She is there among her family and in the presence of God. I know that one day we will meet again and I long for that day to hold and kiss my baby again.

Jesus says in Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” And, I have comfort knowing that my daughter is in heaven. When we trust in the Lord and cast our cares on Him, He promises us many things.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.”

A year and a half after losing our daughter, I gave birth to twin boys, Jake and Luke. One who looks just like his big sister, the other who acts just like her. God provided for me. He knew the desires of my heart and granted them. My boys are my hope for the future. When I look at them I’m reminded of a God who loves me and takes care of me.

My faith means trusting in Him despite the circumstances or when it’s convenient for me.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Having faith doesn’t mean that I don’t still wonder or worry. I do those things often. What it does mean is that I can rest assured knowing that He is in control. Having faith is a choice that brings me a sense of contentment, which certainly beats the alternative. The best part of my faith is absolutely knowing that my daughter, Emma Kelli, is in heaven and each day here on earth is one day closer to her.

To the bereaved momma,

Sweet momma. I am so sorry for your loss. I remember that time in my life. The time when my house was full, but I felt so alone. Food covered the counters and packed the fridge. The milestone in my life that is now the barrier between “Before Emma” and “After Emma.” The worst time in my life.

To see you experience the same, breaks my heart all over again. Not because I sympathize with you, or because it’s sad to me. It breaks my heart because I know what it is like. The best intended people will surround you, wrap you in hugs, and cover you with prayers. But the truth is, they don’t know. There is no possible way anyone can truly understand the death of a child, a sweet, precious, innocent child, unless they’ve walked in your shoes.

I’ve walked in those ugly shoes, I’ve crawled in those shoes. I’m still moving. My world stopped, but the rest kept going.

I’m going to be honest, not because I’m being mean, but because you need to know what you’re up against. This new normal sucks.

You’re now a part of a club that no one wants to belong to because the dues are just too high. Everyone here knows, though. When we see you lose it in the toy aisle at WalMart, we know. When a stranger asks how many children you have and you stutter, and struggle to muster up the answer to what seems to be a simple question, we’ve been there. Some times we’ve lied about that number, not to pretend the child’s life didn’t exist, but to avoid the inevitable explanation. Your fellow members know what it’s like to burst into tears without warning or reason other than because “We just want our babies.”

People will tread lightly when talking to you and avoid speaking your child’s name. They will offer scripture, words of wisdom, and you’ll receive every book ever written about child loss. I read those books. Every.single.one.

I wanted to know why. Why did my God, allow my baby to perish? I’ve heard many versions of an answer, but if I’m being honest, I didn’t listen.

I had to realize that regardless of how rationale, or researched, or biblical, there would be no answer that would satisfy my need to know.

I don’t know why my daughter’s life was cut short. I don’t know why I will out-live my child. I am okay with not knowing. I couldn’t think of any reason that would be good enough. There was nothing anyone could say that would make me stop wondering. I had to find peace in not knowing. I hope that you find peace, wherever it comes from.

Tomorrow when you kiss your baby one final time, tears will fill my eyes as I’ll see myself in you. When I think of my Emma, I will think of your Blake.

We are connected, and while I’m glad to know you, I’m sorry for the occasion.

Love to you, sweet momma.

Love,

Emma’s mom

Prayerful and Present

Not just a pretty dress

When my daughter, Emma passed away she left a closet full of over-sized, unworn clothes.

I would see cute clothes at great prices and stock up. Although my husband might describe my shopping as a problem, I saw it as just planning ahead.

When I had the daunting task of packing my daughter’s possessions I realized that she had lots of clothes, most with tags still on them and others just unworn due to them being too big.

Amongst the many emotions of sitting in piles of clothes, I felt sick.

It was silly that I bought clothes that she could not then wear.

When I had my twin boys, I decided that I would not make the same mistake and buy clothes too far off of their current size. I have stayed true to that. I buy clothes when they need them, in the size they wear.

Recently I was scrolling through my favorite shopping app and saw the cutest little dress. Naturally, I checked it out only to find that the smallest size was 12-18 months.

Initially, I thought I couldn’t buy it because it didn’t make sense.

I don’t know if it was the tutu or the floral print, but I had to have it.

I bought the dress. A dress that my unborn child wouldn’t be able to wear for at least a year and a half.

I did what I never thought I would.

I’m aware that most won’t understand the big deal in this, and I don’t expect people to.

In the grief of my daughter I have overthought and analyzed everything. Somehow I came to the understanding that one could not buy something that a child did not presently need because tomorrow is not promised.

The dress came in the mail today, and it is just as cute as the picture.

This dress isn’t just a pretty piece of clothing that will one day wrap a pretty little girl.

It is hope.

The dress is my hope for a future in which my children will wear all clothes that hang in their closets. I don’t fear that she’ll never get to wear this size 12-18 month dress, because she will.

I’m certain that Bailey will be beautiful in her dress. I look forward to that day.

Prayerful and Present

~Kelli

Baby Big Sister

Very soon my boys will reach another milestone. However, this milestone will be much different than the ones we’ve celebrated in the past.

I won’t take their picture. I won’t write it in their baby book as to remember it forever. I won’t give a “Yay, Jake” or a “Yay, Luke” in the typical high-pitched mom voice.

Instead, I will attempt to hold back the flood of tears that have haunted me as I knew this day was inevitable.

My boys will soon be older than their big sister. They will be the oldest, but not the first born. They will have a baby big sister.

No matter which way I say it, I cannot make sense of it.

Unfortunately, for our family, our unique situation, it is true.

Just before Thanksgiving, my boys will go from being the youngest, to the oldest.

I knew this day would come. Just like all the other milestones that have come and gone before. This one, more than any other has affected me greatly.

I will be a new mom. There will be lots of firsts, which are certainly exciting, but they will feel different.

It’s not unusual to hear, “That’s what Emma did” around our house. But soon, those phrases might become obsolete.

That’s the scariest thing about this damned situation. My frame of reference has expired. I have no comparison.

While most of the time I “wing it” as a mom, I’ve always had some similar experience to fall back on.

If I’m being honest, and quite vulnerable, I’m afraid the Emma memories will stop like her age did.

With each passing day, I’m further away from what was. I hope as we continue to make new memories that the ones of Emma are still spoken, still remembered.

If you knew Emma, I ask that you continue to speak her name. If you didn’t know Emma, ask me. I could talk about her forever.

For those who are prayerful, I hope that you would say some extras for my family as we all struggle daily.

Prayerful and Present

~Kelli