Our Broken Road – Part 1

Life. It doesn’t always work out the way you want it to.

When I was little, I had this vision of the way my life would go.

Married. House full of kids. Always happy.

As you grow older, you realize that always being happy and never being sad just isn’t realistic. Life happens.

Isaiah 43:2 says “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.”

Not If you go through deep waters, but When. Which means that in this life there will be times that we have to go through deep waters. Waters that are so deep you feel you might drown in them.

And that’s the road we’re walking right now. A road that is leading us through deep waters. Waters that are crashing over us with the feeling that these waters are going to drown us. This road that is so broken.

And this is our story.

On July 1, 2017, our 4 year old, Sam, went to heaven.

Let me rewind a few years to begin our story.

When Sam was 2 he was diagnosed with epilepsy. There is no feeling like having to sit and helplessly watch your child have a seizure, knowing the only thing you can do is watch the timer and pray. We spent many, many long nights in the emergency room waiting for Sam to respond to us after his seizures. We kept upping his medicine dose until one wasn’t enough, and we had to add another. All the while me and my husband were praying and believing that he was going to grow out of these seizures and he would be healthy and whole.

For two years we waited. Waited in emergency rooms watching as Sam slept and praying that he would respond. Waited and wondered if a seizure was going to come while we were out in public. Waited on the numerous test results to give us some answers. Waited and believed that God was going to heal our Sam.

There’s something about God though that I think needs to be mentioned here.

Isaiah 55:9 says:

As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

God’s ways are not our ways. Our human minds can’t comprehend God’s thoughts. We can’t begin to understand the why of what God does. We can sit and try to figure out the ways of God, but there are some things that we’ll never be able to understand. And this is one of those things.

Once a month my church holds a Parents Night Out. They watch the kids for a few hours so the parents can go out on a date. It’s a great time to connect with your spouse and the kids always have a blast. On Friday night, June 30, 2017, we dropped our kids off at church. They had a big blow-up water slide and lots of cupcakes. So basically it was Sam’s perfect night. They said he slid over and over on that slide. And at one point my pastor’s wife even got a video of him laughing, saying his pants had fallen down. They then went inside and he ate at least four cupcakes. He had a great night.

The next day he slept in and woke up with a very high fever. If there’s any epilepsy mamas out there, you know that a high fever is no good. High fever = seizure. So we alternated Motrin and Tylenol and tried to keep his fever down. The day went by pretty uneventfully. He laid around on the couch watching TV as we tried to keep his temperature down.

At 8:30 that night I had checked his temperature and it was 104. I gave him a dose of Tylenol and then went back in my room with my oldest son. At 9:30 it was time for his seizure medicine. I walked into the living room and Sam was laying face down on his pillow. I just assumed he had fallen asleep from his fever. I got all his meds ready and rolled him over to give them to him and I immediately knew something wasn’t right. Blood started coming out of his mouth and I called my husband in there.

He wasn’t breathing well, so my husband started doing CPR and I called 911. For the next eight minutes my husband continued doing CPR as we waited for the ambulance to get to us. After they got there and worked on him for a while, they loaded him up on the ambulance and rushed to the nearest hospital.

Little did I know that was the last time I would see my baby alive.

We got to the hospital and they took us to a room and asked us to wait. I’ll never forget that moment. The moment the doctor walked in and told us “Sam is no longer with us”. The immediate pain that swept over me totally consumed me. It was as if every nightmare and fear I ever had as a mother came into existence with those six words.

The next few hours went by in a blur. I remember walking in and seeing my baby laying on the hospital bed. I remember holding his little freckled hand and kissing his freckled cheeks over and over. I was memorizing every single part of him. From his red hair all the way down to his little toes.

The morning after he died, I put this on Facebook:

“There are no words to describe the pain I’m feeling. Such a big hole was left when Sam left us. It’s hard to see beyond the pain right now. There’s been a quote that I’ve held onto since Sam was first diagnosed with epilepsy. And I actually bought a sign with this very saying on it just 7 hours before we lost him. “And if not, He’s still good.” Even though I don’t understand and this pain is excruciating, he’s good and I trust him. I trust him with every part of my broken heart. My Sammy baby, our lives will never be the same without you.”

Throughout everything I had to go through that next week, from picking out the outfit I had to bury him in, to picking out pictures and songs for his memorial video, to celebrating his birthday just nine days after he died, God was with me every step of the way. There were times that I felt like I was drowning in my grief and I would cry out for him to rescue me and I could literally feel him lift the burden off of me and I could feel his peace wash over me.

He gave me a vision during one of these broken times. I was on the floor wailing and breaking. He was kneeling on the floor with me, holding me and he was crying with me. It was like he knew this was what was supposed to happen, but he was hurting because I was hurting.

But I really want to talk about the funeral. I woke up that morning with an equal sense of dread and being happy that I would get to see my baby one more time. I’ll never forget the moment I walked in and saw my baby in that casket. It was a moment of complete brokenness. A moment that I never thought I’d have to experience. But I want to to tell y’all something. I felt him pick me up out of my brokenness and carry me throughout that entire service. I felt his peace and presence completely surround me that day.

It reminded me of Philippians 4:7, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Because the peace that I had in that situation didn’t make sense. But he was there with me. Every step. Every breath.

But unfortunately, our broken road doesn’t end there. I’ll finish our story in part 2.

5 Tips For Traveling to the Beach With Kids

Is there anything better than a trip to the beach?

The waves.

The wind.

The sand in every part of your car and the condo and your bathing suit.

Wait. Maybe not that last one.

But seriously, I love the beach. Especially going with my kids. I love seeing their faces as we walk up and see the beach for the first time.

Pure joy.

Traveling with kids doesn’t have to be hard. You just need to think ahead about things that will make the trip easier. Lucky for you, I have 5 tips to help ease some of the stress so you can enjoy watching your kids play in the waves with your toes in the sand!

Now these tips are geared towards kids that are potty trained and out of diapers as that’s the stage of life I’m in right now.

For those of you who still have diapers and toddlers….

Image Source

Been there mama. Been there.

Freeze water bottles

You definitely want to remember to keep you and your kids well-hydrated while you play away in the sun for hours on end. If you bring a water bottle out to the beach with you, it’s only going to stay cold for maybe an hour.

What’s worse than a lukewarm bottle of water?

A hot bottle of water. Yummy.

I’ve found that if you freeze the bottle the night before, then as the day progresses it will melt and you’ll have ice cold water all day!

Bring snacks

Let me set a scene for you.

You pack all the toys excitedly.

You grab your chair…
an umbrella…
your frozen water bottle (look at you being all prepared and following that first tip)…

and you head to the beach with your whole crew!

You’re out there for about an hour and a half and something starts happening with your kids.

Your once peaceful, happy, joyful children have turned into cranky, whiny, sensitive people that cry over the sand that all of a sudden seems to be in all the wrong places at all the wrong times.

You sit back and wonder, what has happened to my children?

It’s a little thing I like to call…

Hangry.

It’s a real thing.

These babies need some food. Fast.

But you, being the prepared mama that you are, have read this blog post and have snacks on hand!

Food that travels well to the beach:
~ Pretzels
~ Cheez-Its
~ Goldfish
~ Fruit Snacks
~ Grapes

Another tip. Prepackage portions into snack size baggies.

Nothing like having a side of sand in your bag of pretzels.

 Transporting toys

I found this tip on Pinterest before my first trip to the beach with my littles and it was genius!

Grab yourself a mesh laundry basket like this one linked below.

Put all your shovels, pails, sand castle buckets, goggles, anything that will be played with in the sand, inside the basket.

It’s so easy to carry to the beach and it’s filled with little holes for any water and excess sand to fall out.

Be flexible

If you are a mom of any number of kids, you know that you can have the best laid out plans and have everything ready to go, but one cranky toddler can change all of that.

So my advice would be never to leave your house. Ever.

I kid, I kid.

Make plans. Pack that diaper bag. Pack that beach bag. Grab that Kindle.

But hold on to all of your plans with a loose hand. If you see your kid heading to meltdown city…. Be ready to throw in the towel.

See what I did there? Towel. Beach.

No?

Have a back-up plan. Go back to the condo and cuddle on the couch with a movie and some popcorn. Play a card game. Take a nap.

Know that everything you do will be a memory.

Which leads me to my next point.

Relax and enjoy the moment

You know the saying.

The days are long, but the years are short.

It’s so cliche, but it’s so true.

Before we know it, these little babies will be grown and wiping their own booty. We’ll actually be able to read a book while sitting in our beach chair and not watching their every move like a hawk.

Our babies won’t be babies forever. So slow down and cherish these moments mama. You’ll miss them one day.

Except maybe how long it takes to apply sunscreen on four kids.  I don’t think I’ll miss that.

Do you have any beach tips to add?