I often struggle to be a parent to Annie.  I know that may seem like a strange statement, since she is my baby in Jesus’ arms.  Nevertheless, I find myself yearning to do things for her.  There are so many things that I can’t do for her– cut up her food at dinner time, buckle her in her seatbelt, teach her the alphabet, snuggle her in bed and take her to the dentist.
When Annie’s birthday rolls along in March,  my sadness comes swift and catches in my throat. So each year, we pray as a family about how we can help others with the money we would spend on a party and gifts and cake. Because you see, fighting the urge to pull the covers over our heads and instead using what little we have to bless and serve others is like a healing salve to our souls.  It’s upside down, it makes no sense … but it works.
This year, we found Mercy House, a Maternity Home in Kenya for young pregnant girls living on the streets.  They help them by providing education, nutrition, housing, prenatal care, Bible study, counseling and job skills for sustainable living.
We were able to buy a package of bracelets from their website and sat down one afternoon together.  We made a list of people we are praying for right now, people who have carried us through our grief over the last years, then painstakingly whittled it down to 25 people (It is so humbling and amazing to make a list like this.  We are so blessed).
And then we made bracelets.
This?  This is what we do.  This is how I can be a Mama to Annie– by taking her too-short life and breathing new life into those who have been given so little.  It brings me to tears and it brings me to my knees.  Who am I to have this privilege of bringing beauty out of ashes?
Immediately after we made bracelets, I got out some seed packets that I’d been waiting to plant with the kids.  And as I watched Eliza’s sweaty little hands trying to get the seeds to fall from her palm into the dirt, I heard Jesus gently whisper to me words I so desperately needed to hear… words of hope and affirmation.
In our broken, jumbled grief, He allows us to be used.  And I am reminded how God is a redeemer, graciously bringing beauty into our brokenness.
When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs, where pools of blessing collect after the rains!– Psalm 84:6