Missing Barb!

Some of you may already know parts of this story….but I was reflecting on these beautiful women and how they became such an integral part of my life and it felt important to share it again here. I can see so clearly how God was placing specific people in my life for this very time and I am just so grateful.

This weekend Elijah, Karlena and I made the 4 hour drive to Eau Claire, WI. A few weeks after Isaac passed away Rachel texted me and just put the offer out there to have our family come stay at her home for a weekend. A change of scenery might be nice….

Because of our schedules Dominic and Gabe stayed behind and the youngest two and I ventured out for an adventure. School was out at noon on Friday so by 1pm we were on the road. We arrived in time for a shared meal with Rachel’s family. Her sister Melissa had also come over to join us for the weekend! And as a surprise a few hours later our friend Hannah and one of the co-founders of the Never So Broken ministry showed up for a “sleepover.”

That night we just sat and visited. Sometimes we talked about Isaac and how I was doing and sometimes we talked about ministry things or stories about our dogs. There was laughter and honesty and I was so grateful for it.

Saturday we had tickets to attend a women’s conference that was being held at a local church. By noon I unfortunately was on overload. The interesting thing about grief, at least for me, is that so many things seem/feel trivial right now. So I am reading books, but if they don’t speak to my deepest need….I can’t seem to focus on them. I have read several books on grief but give me any other topic and it feels like Greek right now.

So while the conference was filled with great information, mentally I was shutting down and the girls could see it. I felt guilty for leaving but they reassured me that they wanted to support me and do what felt best for me. So we went to TJMaxx instead and bought some supplies for our upcoming Never So Broken conferences and it lifted my spirits.

It is incredible that they chose to support me in this tangible way. They could see how I was doing, but also recognized that the Enneagram 2 in me had a hard time expressing my own needs and they took care of me.

That brings me to the story of how these women became such close friends…in such a short time.

Years ago when my brother and his now wife Mindi got married, they hired a team to photograph and video their wedding. Their actual wedding date is escaping me but it is 12-14 years ago, I believe. Melissa and her sister Rachel were the girls for the job and their mom Barb was also there as their “helper.”

Watching these 3 women work together amazed me way back then. I remember wishing I had a job that would allow me to have as much fun as it seemed like they were having. They were magnetic.

Several years later our family was in California visiting Mark and Mindi and Mindi starts telling me about this blog that her old videographer Rachel had. Rachel was walking through infertility and was writing about it. At that time Dominic and I were also walking through infertility and Rachel’s blog brought me such comfort.

In 2009 Facebook became a “thing” for me and I found Melissa and Rachel and we became friends. Over the years I watched online as they both separately walked out their faith in a fairly public way. They were honest about their struggles and their reliance on God.

Two years ago when Rachel posted that she and her best friend Hannah were going to be starting a women’s conference in Eau Claire, WI I was SO excited. We don’t have much for larger women’s conferences in the Midwest and having seen Rachel’s faith grow over the years…I knew this was a ministry I could get behind.

I bought a ticket and planned to attend their first conference all by myself. I was terrified but I knew I needed to go!

As the story goes, I ended up signing up to volunteer at that first conference and it was AMAZING. I left that weekend on fire. I also felt deep in my spirit that I needed to be involved somehow in this ministry and called to speak (which seemed CRAZY) to me!

Fast forward another year and I found myself as the Volunteer and Communications Coordinator AND asked to be on the leadership team for the ministry. It was such an honor. To get in on the ground level and see what God was doing with this ministry….it was incredible to be a part of that!

And when Hannah had to step down from speaking last November, Rachel asked if I would take her place. It was for that weekend that God would lead me to the story of Job. Where I would write a 15,000 word talk on thankfulness…words that would speak to me just weeks later in the midst of my greatest grief.

In November, after the conference, we traveled as leadership team to Arizona. We spent hours talking and sharing honestly and several women had these HUGE breakthroughs. I remember feeling frustrated because I knew God was working on some things with me but I wasn’t sure what He was doing.

Six weeks later our boy would be gone. Everything that we knew would be turned up on its head.

These beautiful women were one of the reasons that I survived. They surrounded me with prayer and encouragement. They honored our family and Isaac in so many ways. They were such a gift.

I seriously could write a book about all of the different people that have shown up for us in this season. It is humbling and incredible. I don’t want this post to discount any other way that someone has served us SO well.

But what is so incredible to me is that most of these women weren’t in my life at all even 2 years ago. And yet God brought together this team of women that would become sisters, that would become a life support to me.

I needed these women, I needed a ministry of brokenness to be a part of. Beautiful things are being birthed from this ministry and I am in awe that I have an inside view of it. Imagine what God sees knowing even more than we do?!

I still hate this loss is a part of my story. Every day we say losing Isaac is so so wrong. It won’t ever be ok. But God knew in 2018, a year when my son was so angry with me, that I would need this team of women. Women that would not only celebrate his return in 2019, but then show up and serve us after his death.

None of us expected this when we sat in the sun in Arizona 3 months ago. Things in my life are now radically changed forever. But God surrounded me with people that make the brokenness beautiful, and I am so grateful.