The First

Wednesday was the first of Joel's birthdays where he was not here to celebrate. It was not an easy day. I felt on my drive to work that God was speaking to my heart. He was saying I know that today is going to be a hard day and I know for you it is going to be the worst of Joel's birthdays that you've ever had to celebrate-but you know what-it is his best one that he has ever celebrated. As much as that truth aches I know it's true. And I would rather take the weight of the suffering myself and have him be the one in sheer happiness any day. Where he is there is nothing but joy and that brings me peace. Because where I am joy is currently few and far between. I have an amazing friend named Ashley who has been invaluable to me through this process. She lost her mother at an early age to cancer. She's really been able to give me a unique perspective of walking through the loss of a parent through a young child's eyes and simple things that I can do to help Milo with this. Some of the best advice she has given me is to keep Joel real and constantly present in our home, talk about him, tell stories and make it so Milo's never afraid to talk about him. I read a book on grief along those same lines. After you lose a loved one it can make some people uncomfortable when you continue to talk about your loved one who is no longer here-that's too bad. We will never pretend that my husband didn't exist and anyone who is going to be around our family needs to know that.

As I was mulling through how to handle this birthday I knew that I wanted to establish a tradition from this birthday moving forward. For my birthday I didn't celebrate it and that was just fine for me. For Milo's sake, I didn't want to just ignore such a special day because I'm afraid of how bad it's going to hurt. Like Ashley said, it'll hurt either way, why not celebrate it. So celebrate we did. It wasn't anything elaborate. We had dinner together, had vegan cupcakes for dessert and sang happy birthday to Joel. Then we went to our backyard, and just like we did on the day of his funeral in honor of his birthday, we released balloons. My Dad snapped the balloon picture below and I love the way the light was captured as it swallowed up the balloons just like I picture Heaven swallowing up the balloons and going right to where Joel can see them and know that he was celebrated. Pictures are below.

Lastly, if you have a free moment you should click HERE. I cannot even begin to talk you how much this song has spoken to me heart and my current situation. I hope it speaks to you as it has to me. Lyrics below.

Thank you to everyone who continues to read this blog. Thank you for passing it along to your friends to pray for us. That always meant so much to us both. Thank you for your continued prayers over our life and for walking side by side with me on this funny thing called life. You all bless me in more ways than you'll ever know. I hope, in some small way, that this blog has blessed you too. That was always the purpose behind it all and will continue to be. Xo.

Though You Slay Me-Shane and Shane I come, God, I come I return to the Lord The one who's broken The one who's torn me apart You struck down to bind me up You say You do it all in love That I might know You in Your suffering

Though You slay me Yet I will praise You Though You take from me I will bless Your name Though You ruin me Still I will worship Sing a song to the one who's all I need

My heart and flesh may fail The earth below give way But with my eyes, with my eyes I'll see the Lord Lifted high on that day Behold, the Lamb that was slain And I'll know every tear was worth it all

Though tonight I'm crying out Let this cup pass from me now You're still all that I need You're enough for me You're enough for me

Though You slay me Yet I will praise You Though You take from me I will bless Your name Though You ruin me Still I will worship Sing a song to the one who's all I need Sing a song to the one who's all I need