Reflections On Our Trip

Life goes on, but my heart still hurts. We knew that after the hard past couple of years, that we needed to move forward and take a family trip. Usually family vacations are so fun to plan and there’s so much to look forward too, but when you’re grieving, even vacation planning looses it’s excitement. It becomes one of those things that you know is good for you, but you’re just not feeling it. So you commit to doing it, just because you ought too. It’s like so many things, when you’re grieving-bittersweet. It’s just not the way that we imagined our life would be. Visions of future “bucket-list” vacations always included Sarah. However, we knew it was time to take this step towards reality and go.

So, we planned at family vacation out west. I planned the drive, the hotels, the VRBO’s, the National Parks, the extra stops. We decided to invite one of Libby’s closest friends, Sam, to come along. Thankfully, her parents were willing to entrust us with her for 2 whole weeks. I’m so glad that they did. Big life events, holidays, and vacations just magnify “the missing” for all of us, especially siblings. Libby has suddenly been forced to take on the role of “only child” of two grieving parents. That’s a hard job. We’re doing our best not to smother her and respect her 14 year old introverted self, but it’s hard not to be a helicopter parent. It’s our job to fix what’s broken for her, but this time, we can’t.

I can honestly say it was a good trip. We saw things that were just so beautiful-places that we have been wanting to see for years. We took lots of pictures, saw lots of animals, laughed, ate too much, and had fun. We also felt a deep ache in our hearts that I will compare to being “home sick.” Although, we knew when we arrived home, it wasn’t going to be alleviated. It’s a longing for how home used to be.

It’s no surprise that I pray a lot for God to give me signs from Sarah. I also say things to Sarah out loud sometimes, just in case she can hear me. When you’re missing someone that’s in heaven, you know that they’re ok, but you still want signs that they are still with you somehow.

One day, while sightseeing in Glacier National Park, we were driving along and came by this beautiful crystal blue lake that was so still that it had a mirrored reflection of the snow capped mountains in it. As he often did, Chad quickly pulled over to park and get out and just take it all in. I jumped out of the truck and started taking pictures. He noticed another couple also had stopped and as he does so naturally, he struck up a conversation with the man. He told Chad that he and his wife were retired ranchers from North Dakota and they now lived closer to this area. He said they come to Glacier a lot, and they took this particular drive about every 2 weeks. He said he had never seen it so still. He even told Chad that usually the waves in the lake were white capping because of the wind. So they also were amazed at the beautiful reflections in the mirrored water. I snapped several pictures with the phone camera, trying to frame the shots exactly like I wanted. It wasn’t until I reviewed the pictures that I saw it. This beautiful glow of light that seemed to build in a few of the images, until this magnificent bright image showed up on the picture. Again, none of this was viewable as I took the pictures. I knew right away that it was a sign. I zoomed in to look at the light…It was more breathtaking to me then the gorgeous mountains. All I could do was say thanks! Thank you, Jesus and Sarah, for letting us know that she was with us on our trip. Not the way that we exactly long for, but in a way that is better for her. I know she’s healed, free, and in perfect peace and paradise.

I’ll keep asking for signs this side of heaven. She’s a part of me and I can’t help it. What exactly did I see? I’ll let you interpret that for yourself. You may not see what I see, but that’s ok. What signs have you experienced from your loved one that has passed?

“Sappy” Mother’s Day

Maybe it was the cool and dreary weather compounded by grief, but Mother’s Day was very difficult.  I saw many sentiments from other grieving mom’s that felt the same.  Overall, our weekend started out good.  We went camping, which is a Mother’s Day tradition with some of our family members.  We also attended a lovely FFA banquet, where Libby received some awards and recognition for her hard work and involvement in FFA this year.  Sarah was honored there and Chad and I were even included as Honorary Members of our local FFA Chapter.  It was so sweet of them to do that!  Had I known that was going to happen, I may have actually showered away the campfire smell before we attended! Lol!

We had lots of family time and enjoyed using our camper, singing around the campfire a bit, ate all of my favorite desserts, but something was just missing…and that something was Sarah.  No matter how hard I “tried” to make it a good day, it just wasn’t.  My heart was aching for her.  Chad and Libby, bless their hearts, they were quite melancholy with me.  Maybe it was because I set the tone, or maybe they were just missing being “us” too.  Getting used to the new normal is hard.  We still have moments of joy, but it’s just so different and our hearts always pause to reflect on how much more joyous it would be to hear Sarah laughing right along with us. 

Not enjoying Mother’s Day isn’t a new thing for me.  I actually have had a hard time with it for years.  I learned during infertility, that it was a good weekend to just get out of town and not be involved at church.  There’s been a few years, when I made an exception, but the heart ache for my babies in heaven is always felt more deeply on this day.  A Mother’s heart is never more full than when she’s surrounded by all of her children.  I’ve never had that.

As your children are growing and learning to communicate, there’s a deep intimacy that you feel when you look at them and lock eyes and say things that you mean.  Sometimes, it’s a stern warning for correction-that may send a chill down their spine.  Sometimes, it’s a meaningful statement of love and value that you hope instills in them a security about who they are and how much they mean to you.  Either way, that connection that you make during that moment is priceless.  It’s like you’re looking into their soul.  If your child is still with you here on Earth, don’t ever take that for granted.  I long to look into Sarah’s eyes and tell her so many things:  how much I love her, how proud I am of her, how much I miss spending time with her, laughing with her, and singing with her.  Honestly, I’m still haunted by the way that her eyes looked past me and on into heaven when she died.  I know that’s the trauma.  It’s happening less, but on Mother’s Day, my brain brought it to the surface again.  Grief is like that.  It’s like a loop that you’re stuck in. 

The tears came and that’s ok.  I needed to let them out.  I’m healing, but I’m not healed.  Mother’s Day was a reminder that I won’t get what my heart truly longs for until we’re ALL together in heaven.  So for now, I’ll wait with tears, knowing that Jesus is collecting every single one of them.

 You keep track of all my sorrows.  You have collected all my tears in your bottle.  You have recorded each one in your book. 

Psalm 56:8

He doesn’t just expect me to dry them up and move on.  He stops with me and allows me to grieve.  While He’s holding me, He’s also got His eyes on our girl.  Knowing she’s looking into His eyes right back, brings me peace.  He knows when I’ll be able to look into her eyes again some day and when I’ll also lay eyes on my 3 other babies that I’ve never gotten to hold. Maybe they know the answer to that question too and like me, they’re counting down the days.  Until then, Mother’s Day is over and I’m one day closer to Heaven.

Hymns and Heritage

Last week my family got to do something really special. My cousin Val leads music from time to time at St Louis Crossing Church and when she was asked to lead on May 2nd, which happens to be our Grandma Anderson’s birthday, she had the idea to invite some of the family to join her and lead with some of our Mamaw’s favorite hymns. Our Mamaw has been in heaven for a while, and I have no doubt that Sarah was a part of her celebration this time. Here on earth it was a perfect reason for us to gather. It’s been to long! Surprisingly, once the younger kiddos heard about what the grown-ups were doing, they wanted to be included in the sing along at the service. How sweet is that? They even came up with a “band name” for the group-The Anderson Roots! Isn’t that precious? Unfortunately, I was unable to participate this time, because I was singing at our own church, but I am so thankful for a family that still honors our heritage and for the respect and excitement that the younger ones had to ask to be included in something that they could have easily chosen to set out of.

Afterwards, we still gathered together to celebrate the day. I had the opportunity to visit with Olivia, one of my little cousins. Olivia is amazing. Out of the next generation of cousins, she’s the one that reminds me the most of Sarah. She’s not at all shy, she has a smile that will light up a room, loves to talk and visit with us old people, and is just full of joy. She endured a pretty significant health scare when she was younger. I remember even at that time, realizing she was so brave and she already had such an incredible faith in Jesus. So, we were chatting about the hymn sing and I asked her which song was her favorite. She said quickly, “Oh, the Do Lord/I’ll Fly Away” one! I really love that one!” It made me smile. I told her that I remember singing those songs too when I was her age and how fun they were. Because of those songs, I learned some very valuable promises of God and experienced watching the joy on my parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles faces as we sang about heaven someday. In those moments I could tell they were looking forward to a sweet reunion with loved ones that they were missing and that I had yet to meet. It was those same songs that were sang, as a family, as we surrounded my Grandparent’s- before each of them passed. They are songs of hope and comfort for sure.

When I began looking for items to stock in my online store, I found an amazing company called “Revelation Culture” that offers handmade quality signs. I was quickly drawn to them because of the scripture that they used, the message of hope that they give, and just how well they are made. When I saw the subway styled Hymn signs, I knew that I had to offer them. Along with several of their “Shelf sitter” signs and various smaller signs, the shop is stocked with “I’ll Fly Away” and “Victory In Jesus” Hymn signs. These signs are big at 3 1/2 feet tall by 1 ft 10 Inches wide. So they make a statement! For me, it’s more than just a statement, it’s a promise. When I look at them, I’m reminded of my past and my future!

Recently, my friend Mel was drawn to the “Victory In Jesus” sign. As soon as she saw it, she was reminded of her Grandma, who passed away in 2019. Now the sign hangs in her breakfast nook/kitchen area. For her it’s a way of remembering, but also teaching her children about their Great Grandma’s legacy-all while instilling in them the promises of God and growing their “roots” deep in a heritage of hope.

“When we all get to heaven

What a day of rejoicing that will Be

When We All See Jesus

We’ll sing and Shout

The Victory”

What about you? Do you have a favorite Hymn that reminds you of your family and brings you hope?

This is How I fight My Battles

The above sign is just one of the new items available in the Grace In Grieving Shop. You can find the shop by going to the Home page and selecting the Shop tab, which is found the menu. There are many items now available! All chosen to bring comfort and hope to anyone who is grieving a loved one.

I survived Sarah’s first birthday away from us in heaven.  Here in Indiana, last Thursday’s weather was a weird mix of beautiful sunshine and then moments of sudden rain.  It fit the mood of my day perfectly.  Our big announcement about Sarah’s memorial fund was received with a lot of excitement.  We were overwhelmed with some wonderful video tributes and some reflective comments about Sarah’s impact on other’s lives.  It was such a great reminder of how loved she was and the joy she brought to us.  I felt so many emotions though.  Some good and some bad.  As a mother, whenever you’re given positive feedback about your child, or told that your child has done something amazing, it’s such a proud happy moment.  It makes you feel so grateful and blessed.  I am so grateful that God chose me to be Sarah and Libby’s mom. 

I know that I have been blessed, but my grief tells me otherwise and reminds me of all the things that have been taken away from me, because Sarah is gone.  We’ll never get to experience the joys of seeing her graduate, marry, have children, etc… The list could go on and on.  The day after her birthday was “National Sibling’s Day,” according to social media.  That was another reminder of what has been stolen from Libby.  My heart ached for her as I thought about how we were so thankful that Sarah wasn’t an only child.  Like Sarah, Libby was a “rainbow baby” and we weren’t sure if we’d be able to give her a sibling to grow up with. We wanted someone to walk through the hardships of life with her, to celebrate all of life’s occasions with, and eventually help each other take care of us, when we grew old.  We could never have imagined that they would not grow up together.

When I find myself dwelling on these thoughts, and in these areas of failed expectations, I find myself almost yelling in my spirit to God, “Fifteen years was not enough!”   Every time I’m met with a response to my spirit in a voice that comes so gently and says…”Will eternity be long enough?”  It stops me in my tracks because I’m a “prisoner of hope”…

Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double” Zech 9:12 ESV

Other versions of that verse use the word “fortress” or “safe place” in the place of stronghold.  In the Bible, stronghold is meant to mean a protected or fenced in area.  I think that is a beautiful imagery of how to protect ourselves in our grief.  We have a safe place to return to, when the disappoint, the fear, and the loneliness tries to overshadow the truths that we know about God and what He has promised in the coming future for us and our loved one, who has died. Our hope in Him does not disappoint. It’s not a hope that’s just wishful thinking. He is our “living hope” (1 Peter 1:3) and don’t miss the 2nd part of that promise–a declaration that He will restore to us double the blessing.  I don’t understand how, or even when He will possibly do it, but I’m believing Him for it.  I don’t need to understand it.  If I worshiped a God that I completely understood, then what would make Him different from myself?  I’m thankful that His ways are higher than my ways.  That He alone knows what is coming and how it’s going to arrive.  I believe He protects us by only revealing what we are ready for.  I’m ok with that. My confidence doesn’t have to come from myself and my own abilities to fix my grief.  It comes from the confidence in knowing God is committed to restoring this broken world in the future.  My hope is set on His coming kingdom.  It’s not set on today’s circumstances, but on tomorrow’s inheritance. 

It’s counter-cultural.  It goes against everything that the world says in normal, but so much about walking with Jesus is upside down. He is famous for teaching values that contradicted the natural. In the Sermon on the Mount, He said things like, “blessed are the poor in spirit,” and “blessed are those who mourn” and weep. He valued weakness, emptiness, and servanthood. If we’re following His teaching then we should look very different from the world. His focus was on the unseen over what was seen. We can do that too. Paul reminds us that even in our grief, as believers we can grieve differently:

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.  For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 1 Thess. 4:13-14

Friends, what are you doing to protect your fortress of Hope?  Are you staying in the word of God so that God’s truths and promises are engrained in your thoughts?  Are you praising God and worshiping Him for who He is?  Check out this amazing verse in Psalms:

Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.  Psalms 8:2

There’s that word “stronghold” again. Read the verse again with the imagery of a fenced in fortress. One with walls that the enemies arrows can’t penetrate. Our praise is a powerful way to fight our battles.  Although that verse acknowledges the power of children and even infants in their praise, it applies to all of us-no matter what age you are.  When Sarah was in the midst of her hardest times, worship was her go to weapon.  Many of you remember a video that we shared of her just a couple of weeks before she passed away. 

Friends, I’m praying that together we’ll become “prisoners of hope” and that you’ll strengthen your stronghold and fortress with praise even in your circumstance of grief. Focus on the unseen and know that God’s promises are like concrete. We can build our lives on them.


This time of year is so energizing to me.  The warm sunshine and longer daylight hours keep me looking for outside projects.  When the girls were little, we loved photo shoots by the blooming magnolia tree that was in our yard. The above picture is of my cuties in 2010.  Now, my absolute favorite fragrant viburnum shrubs have started budding and I’m really hopeful that the cold snap that’s predicted won’t keep them from blooming.  I love the scent that they cast right outside our front door.  It’s heavenly to me.  I hope that you also find yourself with a little spring in your step as we watch nature coming back to life around us.

It’s appropriate that we talk about the topic of resurrection as we witness the birth of spring and prepare for the Easter weekend.  It all fits together so perfectly doesn’t it? I know that I touched on this briefly in my post a few weeks ago about the seasons.  If you didn’t get a chance to read that one, you can check it out here.  Speaking from the place of a mother who has a child in heaven, I honestly can’t think of anything more comforting than the resurrection power that we’ve been promised through Jesus.  It’s all because of Easter.  Jesus did what I couldn’t do and He saved my child.  He has saved us too, if we’ve accepted His gift of salvation, we can live out our days knowing that even death won’t keep us in the grave.  I’m so thankful for His life giving power. 

The Holy Spirit has been impressing on me these past couple of weeks that His resurrection power isn’t only for the physically dead.  It’s for those of us who are still breathing, but feel dead inside too.  Grieving certainly has a way of making one feel like they have also died right along with their loved one.  I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to wanting to crawl inside the grave with Sarah.  It hurt to breathe for a while.  Even knowing that Jesus could heal my broken heart didn’t change the fact that I really didn’t want to be healed.  Grief makes us comfortable with the darkness.  The light can just be too much.  So can crowds, or loud noises.   I found myself numb, not really feeling anything most of the time-sort of like a dead person walking. Recently, I really connected with C.S. Lewis thoughts in A Grief Observed:

And no one ever told me about the laziness of grief.  Except at my job-where the machine seems to run on as much as usual-I loathe the slightest effort.  Not only writing, but reading a letter is too much.  Even shaving.  What does it matter now whether my cheek is rough or smooth?  They say an unhappy man wants distractions-something to take him out of himself.  Only a dog-tired man wants an extra blanket on a cold night; he’d rather lie there shivering than get up and find one.  It’s easy to see why the lonely become untidy, finally, dirty and disgusting.

Can you relate to that?  Not really caring about your own well-being?  Deep grief leaves you feeling lonely, cold, and dead inside.  Sounds like the tomb to me.  At some point, one has to decide whether or not to live again or stay cold and shivering in the tomb. 

I’ve read about other grieving people “snapping” out of that stage of their grief when they consider what their deceased loved one would want for them.   While that’s certainly moving and I totally know that Sarah is cheering me on; the thing that has really empowered me the last few weeks has been the resurrection power of Jesus.  The more that I get to know Jesus the more I’m learning that He specializes in bringing dead things back to life-including me. 

I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead.  I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!  Philippians 3:10-11

When you’ve lost someone close to you, you’ve certainly participated in some suffering.  Now it’s time to experience the power of His resurrection.  I’m daily asking Him to breathe His life into me, energize me, and give me a purpose.  He’s faithful and willing to make beauty from these ashes.  So many times in scripture we see examples of Jesus taking the broken and making it beautiful.  I know that’s His desire for all of us who have been wounded by grief.  There’s nothing that He can’t revive. Friend, is He calling you to “Rise” too?

Happy Easter everyone!


In the quiet

Dead on the inside

Still within my grief

You whisper to my broken heart


Eyes now woke

Tears begin to dry

Inhale the fresh wind

Your breath is healing my lungs


Your words stir

Rattle my dry bones

As your blood flows

My soul comes alive


My heart beats

A new rhythm forms

My feet feel the tempo

A dance filled with praise


Your light shines

Step out of the grave

Made new in your presence

Death is rejected


Kim Taylor, 3/29/2021