Saturday, May 31, 2014

My Project 52 (21 & 22) -

Week 21 - My beautiful bridesmaids bouquet from last Saturday, May 24th - Greenville, SC.  
I was in my dear friend Sarah's wedding, and it was such a special, wonderful, beautiful day. 

Week 22 - From Jeff & Nichole's lovely wedding today at Washington Oaks State Park, FL. It was a magnificent forest of oaks, fragrant gardenias, and a luscious rose garden, all in full bloom. In short, I love the South....and am so excited for Jeff and Nichole. #Batmantakesawife
"All the way, my Savior leads me......" 

Tomorrow I fly out for 6 days in CO.... I can't wait to fall asleep in the sun under the whispering pines. 

With love always,
~ Jean Marie ~ 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

In Six Days -

In six days .... it will be June 2nd. June 2nd, 2014. 

We had a wonderful time in South Carolina for Sarah's wedding these past few days. There was laughter, memories shared, a gorgeous bride and a beaming groom, there was prayer and blessings given, and many tears. 

There have been multiple trips taken within a very few short weeks - first the unexpected trip to GA for Wade's memorial service...then just a few weeks later, we went to SC for Sarah's wedding (oh and I had an engagement shoot thrown in there too) and so I've been blocking things off in, well, keep from panicking and worrying about everything coming up. Which worked out great until I was driving home from Savannah yesterday with my parents and suddenly it hit me like a panic wave that I had 6 days until it was the anniversary. I had so completely blocked it out that now I'm left totally unprepared, defenseless, overwhelmed and panicked that it is here so soon. 

And tonight I'm really really REALLY mad that it is here so soon. I'm ticked beyond belief that it will be 2 years. I'm mad he is gone. I'm mad there is such a thing as HLH. I'm mad that there is a reason to be mad. I'm angry that time goes by so fast and I'm angry that I'm not closer to the time when I held him because my memories were so much clearer. I'm not angry a lot, but boy, grief will bring it on out of nowhere because as we all know - grief brings up every protective emotion there ever will be. 

I burst into tears three times tonight just thinking about how soon it is. 

It brings back memories that I can't change and make untrue. It brings panic-inducing-pain. 

The drive home the rest of the way was hard.....and then I got home and realized what date it was....3 years ago was the first time I met 4 month old Avery. From May 25 - May 28, 2012, I walked around with him strapped to my chest for a wonderful 3 days of FPEA - showing him off to some best friends, kissing him a million times, telling him stories in the back seat of the car, showing him the beach I'd prayed for him at, laughing at his dislike of the cold May ocean water, singing him to sleep underneath a book table, snuggling him every chance I got, taking him to my church, singing with him in my arms, and taking 400 pictures of his adorable face. 

It was JOY in the best form, 3 years ago....

and 2 years ago next week is the date Avery went to be with Jesus and we were all left here to wait a little longer.
I cried myself to sleep last night because it all still seems so very unreal. 

It feels like every possible emotion is hitting me at full blast and I don't know how to process any of it. 

The memory of him is with me every single day, and yet he is not here. He was only in my house for a day or two, in my space of the world for a few short days....I've never thanked God more for a trip than I have for the one that John and Audra made to bring Avery down here and allowing me to work FPEA with them. 

Those memories are sweeter than honeycomb on my lips. They remind me of what JOY feels like. 

The losing-him memories sting like swear words. The flashbacks break and shatter into a million gasps and words and screams and chords of songs I can barely think of. It is there when I try to work through it and it is there when I completely block it from my mind. 

The quiet after the screams is a silence I still hear in my mind. 

I've never understood less....I've never felt so small and crushed as that moment I heard he was gone. 
Jesus was crushed and broken for me in a mightier way than I will ever feel or know. 

But oh, Jesus. This is so hard. 

It's the little things no one can predict and then your friends all feel terrible because they've made you cry, and you are feeling terrible because you don't want everything to look like it's all about you. 

Someone doesn't know who Avery is. Someone names their kitty like the kitty who adored Avery. 
Someone's baby is the same age and I'm bawling my eyes out holding him. 
Someone lives longer than Avery did. Someone's baby is bald like he was. Someone named their baby Avery. 
Someone asks me why the last few years have been hard. Someone jokes about how much trouble babies are. Someone makes light of grief. Someone says the wrong thing. Someone has a Mickey Mouse stuffed animal like his that we bought together when they visited FL. 

You think that after 2 years, there won't be any more firsts and you are safe...and then WHAM. Out of nowhere something comes up and you are crying your eyes out in the corner because it's all so fresh and real and heartbreakingly true. 

When I came home from Savannah, I talked a long while with our dear Judy about things, and I mentioned that I'd been blocking things out and usually I try to prepare myself for hard anniversaries...and she said that as much as anyone tries to prepare for grief and anniversaries....there really is no preparing for it. It hits you in ways you'd never expect, and then you just have to go through it. You pray and cry and you get through it. 

So, so true. It was refreshing to have someone speak so honestly and truthfully about grief in a world where smoothing over pain, or shoving it under the rug where "your pain, God's gain" lives. 

I love this from Nancy Guthrie - "God does not discount or dismiss your tears. They are precious to Him because you are precious to Him. In fact, when God reveals glimpses of the culmination of human history - in a future that will fully reveal and be fully worthy of his glory - he includes, as a centerpiece, this promise in Isaiah 25:8 'The sovereign Lord will wipe away all tears.'. Picture in your mind right now the Lord of the universe reaching down to gently and lovingly wipe away your tears. 

He doesn't ignore them or tell you that if you really had faith you wouldn't cry. He wipes them away. And Revelation 21:4 tells us that not only will He wipe away all tears, He will remove all of the sorrow that caused them. God's plan for the future is to destroy forever the evil that has brought you so much pain and then to live forever with you in a place he has lovingly prepared where there will be no more tears." 

Jesus does not remain silent in the darkness of this grief or in the face of my tears.
He promises to wipe them away and promises that "Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy." (Psalm 126:5) 

"I've walked the valley of death's shadow so deep and dark that I could barely breathe.
I've had to let go of more than I could bear and questioned everything that I believe.
But still even here in this great darkness - a comfort and hope come breaking through,
as I say in life or death, God we belong to You." ~ SCC

A few weeks back in a full blown panic, I decided I would trade money for peace any day. Hands down, in a heartbeat. So I did. Well, my parents graciously and lovingly paid my way, despite my offer. I'm flying back to CO again this year so I don't have to be here during the really hard days. I fly out June 1.

These next few days and weeks will be hard. So, so hard. But Jesus will be here. 
Please pray with us, for us. Pray for Avery's family 10x's more than the 1 time you pray for me. 
I covet the closeness of Christ for us all as we remember and miss Avery. May the presence of Christ be tangibly near and precious. 

With love and tears,
~ Jean Marie ~ 

Memorial Day 2014 -

 Roses at the WW2 memorial on River Street in Savannah, GA today. It poured down rain today in Savannah. I stood in the rain, getting drenched, reading names and remembering the fallen heroes of our country, and thought it incredibly fitting to have it rain on Memorial Day. 

Palmetto Roses and Magnolia flowers on the WW2 Memorial in Savannah, GA. 

"And they who for their country die shall fill an honored grave,
for glory lights the soldier's tomb, and beauty weeps the brave." ~ Joseph Rodman Drake 

It does something to my heart to stand in the rain next to a war memorial engraved with names and feel water sliding down my cheeks...perhaps I'm too shy to cry in public...but it seems the sky never is. War memorials move me - always have - probably always will. 

With thankfulness for their sacrifice, 
~ Jean Marie ~ 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sarah is getting married -

August 19, 2000 - Sammy (now in Heaven), me, Sarah, Miriam, and Kimberly. 
We were almost constantly cooking and baking - we made something like 9 dozen cookies that afternoon. So many great memories. So much happy mess. So many littles coming in and stealing our wares. ;) 

Sarah - this Sarah - is getting MARRIED this Saturday, May 24th, 2014!!! I really really really cannot contain my excitement or my amazement. I mean, weren't we just getting in LOTS of trouble and making 9 dozen cookies and chasing each other through the house with spray water bottles?? 

And yet on Saturday, she will be marrying her love. She so lovingly asked me to stand up there with her, and so I will,
with joy at the honor of being by her side for one of the most glorious occasions.
It will be at the mansion we both fell in love with online, and in the dresses we both heaved a sigh of relief when we got them! :)
The silver heels are packed, as well as the lilac dress, the silvery glitter nail polish, the wedding presents ....
and all that's left is a million words and a million memories flooding my head. 

May 2011 - I was an army nurse/bodyguard from WW2, and Sarah was a much-too-pretty sheriff. 
P.S. Kevlar is a whole lot stinkin' heavier than it looks. 

My twin at the beach May 2011. Yeah, she's so gorgeous. I know. 
What you can't possibly see in her eyes, is that she would drop you into that ice cold ocean faster than you could scream. 
Let's just say that mischievousness runs deep in the LeVeille family. Hahahaha. 
And that's an understatement!

It's really really hard to sum up a relationship in one post. I can't even begin to start. 

We are so, so much alike. Which means we've had our share of arguments....but we've always realized we loved each other too much to lose the other, and couldn't stand NOT being friends. It also means she's shared some of my deepest pain, and prayed for me, and I've done the same with her. We've laughed and cried and screamed with laughter and talked our hearts out about everything.

I'm so so thankful for our friendship and so thankful for how God has led us both through our griefs and joys.
She has blessed me immeasurably with her love and kindness. I have the most hilarious memories from us growing up together, and love being around her - I can't wait to see her for the first time in 3 years in just a few days!

Yes, I totally stole this picture off of Sarah's FB. Ask forgiveness later instead of permission first. hahaha.

I love her to the moon and back, and am so so so excited and thankful for God giving her a wonderful guy like Blake,
and for leading them both to each other. God has been so incredibly kind and good. 

And we get to celebrate with them!!!! I'm yearning to enjoy every moment fully and probably cry my eyes out and laugh until my belly hurts
....actually, that sounds exactly like how I'd love it to be. 

With love always,
~ Jean Marie ~ 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

My Project 52 (20) -

Week 20 - Shot on my GoPro

Definitely hands down one of my favorite days of the year - yesterday, May 16th. Beach day with Lauren, Shannon, Emily, and Georgia at Flagler Beach. It was SO good to see Lauren and hear her voice in person again!! We've missed her tons. I love these precious people so very much. 

With love always,
~ Jean Marie ~ 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

My Project 52 (19) -

Week 19

Perimeter Chapel, GA - our family quiet time of reveling in the beautiful chapel after Wade Williams' memorial service.
The light was streaming through the beautiful stained glass windows and shimmering on the floor. 

It was a very very hard day....but at the end of that day, and today and every day -
our Lord God Omnipotent reigneth. And that is enough for my brain to think and to know. 

With love always,
~ Jean Marie ~ 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

My Project 52 (18) -

Week 18  - Shot on my GoPro. 
 The sea always holds undeniable joy ... even on the saddest of days. May 1, 2014. 

~ Jean Marie ~ 

Grief is ... -

Photo taken - October 2012

"Grief is ...

waking up feeling like you are drowning in a million emotions, 
and a million words to utter, 
and yet staying silent,
because it is the only way you will ever get anything done.

At the end of the day, in the end, it is very simple; 
it all boils down to a few words: 
"I'm sad. I miss someone. I hurt. 
I feel broken irreparably. I need Jesus more than ever." 

And then you go to bed and sleep and wake up the next morning ...
drowning in a million emotions and a million words 
that the world rarely hears but your heart completely understands and cries over.
That is grief. 

... that is grief." 


So thankful that this is my Savior's heart for me - that He understands and weeps with me. 

~ Jean Marie ~ 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Wade is in Heaven -

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." ~ Hebrews 13:8

Late last night, Mama couldn't sleep, and so she and Daddy sat in the living room talking, and then I went and curled up next to Daddy and cuddled our puppy, and we all sat talking until 1am. And then we went to bed, and didn't go to sleep. At least I didn't.....I prayed and prayed for the Williams family, and then I slept that weird wake up sleep and kept praying for the Williams family. They were so heavy on my heart, and I felt the real weight of Heaven tearing open and Earth lifting up....

So when I woke up this morning, I knew Wade was gone. 

I didn't hear any news, I just knew. My heart said it, my gut told me it was true. 

I prayed more and more and finally realized I couldn't be here. So I ran away to the beach for a few wonderful, prayerful, peaceful hours. I looked out to the sea and knew God loved us undeniably, and I knew He was taking care of Wade and Wade's family, and I knew that Wade was with Jesus even then. 

And peace stole over my heart like only the peace of God can.

As soon as I got home, I logged onto the CaringBridge site, and yes...Wade was in Heaven. I gasped in pain but not in surprise....for I had known it. And so very special.....I was awake and praying for him when he went to Heaven. At that very minute, at 2am, I was awake, and I was praying for him. 

And then 10 minutes after reading, it hit me all at once, I barely made it into my bedroom because I was stumbling under the pressure of weeping. It hit me how hard it is to feel this depth of sadness. I am so very sad. I cried for 2 hours straight and sniffled through the 3rd, and my eyes tell the story of my tears. 

On this side of Heaven, I'm so sad that he is not here with his family. Looking into the other side of Heaven, I'm unbelievably joyful and thankful he is fully healed and well and probably leading everyone in hymn after hymn and he's found a guitar and singing to the One he loves so much. 

"We'll see it on the other side, the wait was only the blink of an eye." ~ SCC

From Wade's daughter Rebekah for the Williams family
"It is with a heavy heart that I am writing this post to you, my friends. 

My sweet dad went to be with the Lord last night at 2am (almost on the dot, he always liked to be punctual...). We were all there to sing and pray with him as he took his last breaths. The Lord answered our prayers and was very merciful to us, as he died very peacefully in his sleep....

As we are grieving and have hearts so heavy on this side of Heaven, I can only rejoice and smile when I think about what he is doing now ... I will leave you with his life verse, it is more true now than ever before.

"He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord."
~ Psalm 40:3" 

The whole post and tribute to Wade is here, if you would like to read it. 

"And though we grieve for those we love who fall asleep in Christ, 
we know they'll see the Savior's face and gaze into His eyes.
So now we grieve, yet we don't grieve as those who have no hope,
for just as Jesus rose again, He'll raise His own." 

We crave your prayers for us, but much more for the Williams family. Pray for the peace and comfort of God to reign in the midst of their great loss and sorrow over their beloved father and husband and grandfather. 

As one of Wade's friends wrote - "A great man has fallen. I do not hesitate to state it thus. A greater legacy has been given to us all to glorify the King of Kings as did our brother Wade. Among his last prayer request given to me as speech came stutteringly to his lips was, "Pray that I will glorify...that I will glorify...that I will glorify.". Me too, brother, me too! I pray that I too will glorify our Master as you have!" 

With much love,
~ Jean Marie ~