Sunday, December 16, 2007

Poppy Angel


I've learned a lot about myself lately, and some of the things I have discovered have come as quite a surprise. For example, I have always thought of myself as someone who wears my emotions on my sleeve, so to speak. Faking feelings is a technique I have never mastered, so if I'm happy I smile, if I'm upset I let you know it, and if I'm fired up about something I just can't keep it in. I even go so far as to "act out" on my face what I'm watching on a movie or what someone might be describing to me in conversation without even knowing it. This is why it came as a shocker to me when I was driving home yesterday and this mini-revelation hit me: I don't like crying in public. More specifically, I don't like grieving in public.

This newly found knowledge came about yesterday after Nathan and I went to pick up our car from the shop. As I was driving the other car home I realized that it was the first time I had been alone since Poppy was born, and I had not been on the road for more than two minutes before I was flooded with sweet memories that instantly brought tears to my eyes. It's not that I had been suppressing all of those thoughts for the past 14 days, but somehow, not being alone had retarded my ability to really think through things and soak it all in. The drive home was less than 15 minutes, but even in that short amount of time I was able to stop and remember. I remembered what it was like to enter that operating room, not having any idea what the next hour would hold, feeling like I should be terrified, but yet realizing that all fear had been driven out of my presence. I couldn't see them with my physical eyes, but I knew angels were there, surrounding me, protecting me. I remember being able to laugh as I was on the operating table waiting for Poppy to be born. I remember the second she was lifted out, holding my breath as I waited to hear whether she would cry. She did cry a soft and gentle whimper, and then about two minutes later after begging God to let her breathe, she did. From that moment on, she never had trouble drawing another breath until she took her last one. I remember crying tears of joy as Nathan went over to watch as they cleaned her and wrapped her up, and as I cried, the anesthesiologist stood over me, wiping my eyes and patting my shoulders. What I remember most is being overwhelmed with love and surrounded by a greater peace than I have ever felt. I don't understand it looking back, but I remember it, and I will cling to those memories. Remembering is filled with sweetness and sorrow; it hurts and heals at the same time. And even though it made me cry, and will no doubt continue making me cry, it is necessary and good to do it.

Remembering is something that comes (or at least should come) very naturally this time of year. Christmas is upon us, and as I listened to the pastor read the beautiful passage about Christ from Isaiah 53 this morning, I was reminded once again of Jesus and His magnificent plan that started with a baby and ended with a cross. This year as I think about Christmas, I approach it with a new perspective born of the recent experience of both grief and joy. Poppy has left me forever changed, and how grateful I am for that! Now as I think about Jesus, I think more about the pain of God the Father- the pain that comes from letting go. God sent Jesus here to earth knowing the pain, sorrow and rejection He would face. He sent Him with the knowledge that His time on earth would end in the most unimaginable pain of all, as Jesus took the sins of each and ever person, past and future, upon Himself. As I think on that sacrifice, I am filled with a new awe and love for my Father. How could I have released Poppy if not for knowing that she was leaving this broken world behind for a place of perfection that my mind cannot yet comprehend? The fact that God did all of that and more out of love for me doesn't fully register in its magnitude, and it is this love that gives me confidence that if God was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for me, will He not also be more than faithful to take care of me now?

This is why I am not dreading Christmas. I know it will have some difficult moments, but Christmas represents the reason why I have hope, and because of this I will celebrate this year as I never have before. Before she was born, I searched for a Christmas ornament for Poppy. I wanted one that was special, but I didn't necessarily know what that I meant so I was hoping that something would just strike me as perfect. A couple months ago that happened. I was out at a Christmas festival and I saw this hand-painted ornament that had a little angel girl holding a present. When I saw it, I knew that was it. It was so happy; it seemed like something we would want to put up year after year in her memory. Now, I feel it is even more fitting because she truly is my Christmas angel and my gift. This year I will remember Poppy, and as I remember I will do my best to picture her as she is now, rejoicing with the One who has given us the reason to celebrate.

31 comments:

jeweljannie said...

I love you so much, Angie. Mom

Rebecca said...

Thanks for continuing to share your heart, Angie.

Poppy's ornament is beautiful.

Much love this Christmas and always,

Rebecca

So Blessed said...

Praying for you and your family during this season of hope and peace...that our Heavenly Father will bless you with all that you need.

amanda said...

great thoughts. love ya, girl!

Emily said...

Your words are beautiful! I'm so glad you had those moments to just grieve and remember. You need that! I am praying for you! Love ya!

mplunkl said...

Angie, I have been reading your blog for about a week. I found about Poppy's birth and homegoing, viewing and memorial service after the fact. I am always amazed at how great our God is. He does sustain us and know who hasn't been there can understand. I am sorry I missed the memorial service. You and your family are such special people to me. I have come to know your sweet mom through Premier. I have been a member of Bellevue for 27 years, and was so blessed to sent under your grandfather and grandmother. I will be praying for you. Even though you are doing well, Satan is about his business and would love to see you fall. We all need to lift you up when you are not able to do that for yourself, there will be times through your grief you won't be able to, we will be there.
Love you,
Marcia

Emily said...

Dear Angie,
I just want to tell you that I love your heart. You have an amazing way of looking at all of this journey you have been & are still on. Poppy's ornament is precious & will be a wonderful reminder every year of the beautiful angel that you have. I have been reading your blog for a couple of months & am always amazed at your ability to share your heart. I will continue to pray for you & your family. I hope that you have much joy this wonderful Christmas season.
Love,
Emily

Mandy said...

What a precious ornament! It will bring back those precious memories year after year. God Bless You, Nathan, and your sweet daughters. You continue to be an amazing testament to His glory and love.

jena said...

Angie-It was so good to see you back at church this morning. Hope you had a refreshining day worshipping our Great God! Still praying for all of you.

Love,
Jena Baker

Laurin said...

Angie, truly Poppy has changed so many lives. What an amazing thing to think about! Merry Christmas, my sweet friend.

Kenzie Stanfield said...

Angie-

Absolutely beautiful... and absolutely true! I am so thankful that through the tears and sorrow, the Lord has continued to carry you faithfully, as we know only He can! What an amazing piece to bring out each year to remember your precious little girl!

With so much love and continued prayers,
Kenzie

Laurie said...

Poppy's ornament is just perfect, and such a joy to look at for you in the years to come. I am so glad that you choose to celebrate this season more than ever as the One who carries you and holds Poppy Joy now, came for this very reason and so much more. I don't like to cry in public either but I have found that in the car is neutral ground:) Praying for you always sweetie that you continue to follow your heart through this healing journey and you always rest in Jesus' arms. He loves you and Nathan so dearly that He died for you to prove it. How great is this? I am so thankful that Poppy Joys footprints are tatooed on my heart forever. She is an amazing little angel. Give Marianna a big Hug for me. Love you so much.

Laurie in Ca.

Kim said...

A friend of mine lost her sweet husband this year (he was 35 and died of brain cancer in May - his birthday is Christmas Day). In her Christmas cards she included a sweet poem about spending Christmas in the presence of Jesus. She told me today that that is the ONLY thing that makes it bearable - that if she didn't know that Scott was at peace and in the presence of the Savior, she could not be okay. But she is (for the most part, today was a crying day). Because of Jesus.

Anonymous said...

All that seems appropriate for me to say is 'Amen'... and I truly mean that Angie.

Jeanne

Lalania said...

Angie,
I received a Christmas card from your grandnother today and in her Christmas letter she included the sight for Poppy Joy. Since I received news of her birth and homegoing to be with Jesus, my Choir class at Rosemark and I have prayed for you continually. I was so blessed to go to this sight tonight and read of God's work in your life at this time. What a powerful testimony of God's ALL-sufficient grace. You are a blessing to me and I praise God for your willingness to share your heart and thoughts in the midst of your grieving. Cary and I have a photo of your grandfather by our computer and as I was watching the precious video of Poppy Joy, I imagined that the second one to hold your beautiful little girl in heaven was her great-grandfather. We Love you ALL and continue to pray for you! I look forward to hearing more of God's amazing work in your life in the weeks and months to come.
Merry Christmas!
All our love, Cary, Lalania and Logan

Addy said...

I stumbled across your blog. Wow. I am amazed by your faith and your candor. I have experienced loss and grief, but nothing like this. You make me proud to be a Christian. Your hope in Christ is what Christiandom is missing these days. What a testament to God's grace, just by your words. I pray for your continued healing.

Brandi said...

Angie,
Your words are so beautiful. Thank you for continuing to post so that I can both be blessed by your words and know what you are feeling so I can better know how to pray. You inspire everyone who knows you and who has come to know you through this blog. Love you.

Jessica said...

Angie and Nathan,
I LOVE the ornament! I have always thought of our daughter in heaven as my angel as well. I learned that I HATE grieving in public, too. Because I am very transparent with my emotions just about all of the time, my face says it all.
I did not get the chance to go up to you and give you a hug yesterday, but I meant to. Everyone was talking too much then I had to go sing. I love you, and am praying for you. And thank you for continuing to share your feelings so candidly with all of us.

Jessica

Emily said...

Keep fighting, girl. Every day is a battle, but through Jesus, we will have the victory. Long drives, sometimes with the music loud and sometimes with silence and God, were more healing to me in the first weeks of my grief than absolutely anything else. If I hadn't been free to drive aimlessly and pour my heart out on my blog, I'm not sure I would have made it thus far. Praise God for the freedom to grieve... and grieve alone when we need to. Your tears and your grief are unlike anyone else's. They are your own and only your God truly understands. I'm thankful you're finding Him and the freedom He gives to let it all go when we are alone with Him. Don't be afraid. He is with you always.

And can I just say I'm a little envious of Poppy's ornament?! There are no perfect ornaments to fit our situation, though I am searching high and low. It makes me smile to imagine Marianna, Nathan, you and any future children you have gazing upon that ornament and smiling when you remember your beautiful little Christmas angel.

You're doing good, sweet friend. It's hard work, but it's so important. Healing will come. Breath by breath, drive by drive, tear by tear, day by day... it'll slowly sneak up on you. And you will never, ever forget a solitary detail about your precious Heavenly girl.

Tracy said...

LOVE the ornament! It's perfect! I thought about you when I was at church yesterday. We also had a sermon about Christmas and baby Jesus.
Just by looking at your blog, I can tell that your Poppy has already touched so many people. She is such a blessing and such a reminder to me of how good God is.
My Grandpa recently passed away and I have thought "I wonder if Papaw has played with Poppy yet" :)
She is such a sweet angel

Chrissy said...

Thinking of you today...May God continue to bless you and keep you. Poppy's ornament is precious, just as she is. I am still looking for Eva's and will know when I find it. Your strength continues to be contagious. I love to read your thoughts and feelings.

Grammy said...

Precious Angie: I'm writing this through the tears. I too do most of my grieving in private. I too love your Poppy Christmas ornament. I remember being there with you, your Mama, and your sister, Rachel wehn you found it and had her name written on it. And then I've seen it hanging on your tree as a reminder of your love and Jesus' love for her.

How precious you all are to me--you, Nathan what a treasure and sweetk Marianna. Yes, Poppy is spending her first Christmas with Jesus and PaPa. We'll continue to miss them and to remember, but we will rejoice in our Savior!

I love you dearly,
Gram

Kim (marygracesummons.blogspot.com) said...

Angie,
You, your family and Poppy Joy continue to be a blessing. I cry with you and am so thankful that you are willing to share yourself and your emotions with us. Poppy's ornament is beautiful and I am glad you will have that every year. I want you to know that my girls continue to pray for Poppy Joy up in heaven every single night and when they do it softens my heart. It autimatically brings her picture with your sweet smile to my mind and what a comfort that is. I wanted to share that so you would know how Poppy Joy has specifically touched one little family in Texas, imagine how many others have such beautiful thoughts of Poppy daily. I pray for you and I pray that God will continue to carry you - it's awesome to see his promise is being fulfilled in you!
With love and prayers,
Kim

jennyb said...

I was so glad to get to visit with you at church this past Sunday morning. You continue to be an inspiration to me. Your precious angel Poppy and your adorable Marianna are so blessed to have you as their mother. I love your ornament... I know it will always serve as a reminder of your precious girl.

Chris & Emily said...

you don't know me but I was given your blog through a friend several months ago. I have been praying for your family.
We found out on Nov. 7 at our 20 week ultrasound that our son has a disorder call thanatophoric dysplasia. I will carry him full term but he will not be able to breath when he is born. Your story touched me months ago and touches me in a new way now. thank you for sharing. Thank you for being open. We have a family blog - feel free to check it out.

Adam & Amy Wilson said...

Oh, Angie how wonderful to hear your heart and be so blessed by your wisdom and insight. As Christ teaches you, I'm learning so much myself. I loved every word- thank you for being a God-given source of truth and counsel. I'm continuing to pray for you, Nathan, Marianna and your family. I can't tell you how grateful I am for your friendship...you are such an immense blessing! After your words, I feel all the more willing to give our baby, Kaelin, up to my precious Saviour. "Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." Is. 43:19

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to let you know that the truth in your blog blessed me today.
May the Lord be always with you.
Faith

Micah said...

angie,
i'm reminded that none of this is over yet, and may not ever be. i'm glad that i'll be with you guys in 2 days. i'm looking forward to some FUN after a long semester (for us both).
m

Livona said...

Angie - We continue to pray for all of you especially through this Christmas season. Thank you for the beautiful cards and continuing to share your heart with all of us. You & Nathan are amazing young people that have truly showed us "older" people some amazing lessons. You walk the word in everything you do & say. Much love to all of you.

Emily said...

Praying for you and wondering how you are... and smiling as I think of Poppy, Copeland, Madeline, little Jonathan and Miller Grace just hanging out with Jesus. :)

Linda/Emme said...

Angie, As we are all so different (just look inside our family!) and have different functions in Christ's body, we react to things as befits the personality He has given us. You may not grieve in public, as you say, but the transparency you and Nathan have exhibited has touched lives in many realms. Poppy's legacy will be one of hope and love and she will forever be our Christmas Angel. I love you all, Linda.