At the moment I have all I need—more than I need!
I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me …
They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that pleases God well.
(Philippians 4:18)
When the calendar turns to September, no matter how prepared I think I am, it is still a really tough month.  The memories surrounding Annie’s last month with us– the desperation I felt trying to figure out what was wrong with her and the subsequent diagnosis of a brain tumor, followed by just a few days in the hospital before we said good-bye— come back stronger and more vivid.  Those last few days were somehow simultaneously horrific and holy.  I will admit that I still find my mind wandering back, willing a different ending to the story.  And the heartbreak comes when I realize that it’s just too late.
Monday marked five years since Peter and I put “Peacemaker “ on repeat and they slowly took out the tubes and we were left holding her until she took her last breath.  I woke up immediately thinking of that day and the tears came even before I had opened my eyes.  But even as the tears fell, I felt God gently speaking to me. He’s been teaching me about redemption, about taking the sting out of our suffering.  And so, knowing that so many of you remember this day with us, I put this status on Facebook:

“When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs. The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings. (Psalms 84:6 NLT)
Five years ago today, I held my sweet Annie Jane for the very last time. And while the memory of her still makes me weep, when I look at the path of our lives since that day I am overcome with gratitude at the ways God has guided and changed us, loved us and comforted us.
Many of you have lived this story with us. Thank you. As an offering to Christ, would you tell us a way Jesus has changed you as a result of her life? Let’s take the sting out of our suffering today. Only Jesus can take our dry valleys of weeping and make them into refreshing springs.”

You guys.  The response I got blew me away.  I had no idea it would add up to over fifty comments, multiple inbox messages and a letter that had me sobbing.  I am so absolutely humbled at the impact my daughter has made in a world she spent just 183 days in.  It is all because of Jesus.
“It taught us to pray together for a mourning family for a whole year. Romans 12:15”
“A few years ago, you & Peter were participants on a panel about grief, bereavement, loss, the huge impact for me was Peter vocalizing your story. So many times loss of unborn or young children is focused on the mom, Peter gave that voice of a hurting/strong dad/husband.”
“Jesus has helped to to step outside of myself and truly love and care for grieving friends. “
“…grief and suffering can draw us nearer to the heart of Jesus and one another if we will let the Spirit take us there and intercede with and for us.”
“Rocking and holding Annie is a gift that I treasure and I am forever changed. Through the tears and heartache (shared with you) something beautiful was happening in our lives that we couldn’t explain. A mystery for sure.”
Yesterday, even though I had a million “important” things to do, I ignored them all and I spent the morning cutting my Sweet Annie … one of God’s most tangible gifts to me.  Each year I am amazed as I watch it grow and realize that it will be ready to cut and dry on the exact week of her death.  It has the sweetest scent, one of my favorites in the whole earth.  And as I lost myself in prayer as I cut it, I thanked God for so many of you.  For the way that God has chosen to use our story to bring others into a deeper relationship with Him.  I am humbled beyond words that My Annie is “A sweet smelling sacrifice that pleases God well.”  What more as a Mama could I desire for my child?
P.S.  If you’d like to read the whole string of comments on facebook, go here.
P.S.  I just returned from a week in Haiti.  It wrecked me, in a good way.  I’m sure the stories will be leaking onto this blog soon, but for now, I’m struggling to hold both my grief for Annie and Haiti together in my heart.