finding hope in the heartbreak

inspiration, motherhood, stories from our community, the meaning behind By April 21, 2016 4 Comments

When you share your stories with my on Facebook or Instagram, it often stops me right where I am. It’s humbling to create jewelry that holds deep meaning–and when these handmade pieces become part of your story, it fills me. Jen’s story of heartache and hope resonated deeply with me–and you! When she shared on Facebook, many of you responded to her comment and encouraged her. This community is a beautiful place where people can be honest and feel loved. I’m grateful. I reached out to Jen to share more of her story with us. Here’s Jen’s comment from Facebook…

‘2014 was supposed to be a joyous year. In the spring, we thought my mom’s cancer was on the up and up, and my husband and I finally became pregnant. We told my mom early, thinking it would give her final push to really kick cancer’s butt. It turned out that it had a stronger hold on her than anyone knew, and the hospital stays started. We find out at our 3 month ultrasound that the baby has an irreversible birth defect. Everyone fought and prayed for the best. However, angels were made that summer; my mom passed in July, and we lost the baby two weeks later. I didn’t know what to do, that fog was so think. My family and I stuck together and through them and friends, I pulled myself out. There are now sunny days again–we have a beautiful little girl, named after my mom. Her room’s theme is You Are My Sunshine. ‘

It warmed my heart to see the ways you and others in our community responded, encouraged, and shared in the joy and pain. We asked Jen to share a bit more about her journey, and where she finds hope. Read for more…

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How do you experience hope each day?

I experience hope every time I look at my daughter. Rosabella fills me with hope every day — hope for a bright future for her, hope for the best for our family, and the knowing that everything is okay. My mom believed in hope, had given me a bracelet with that word on it.  We always hope for the best outcome possible. Sometimes the best outcome isn’t want we want, but what is best for the person going through the tough time.

When in this journey did you experience a glimmer of hope?

I first experienced a glimmer of hope when we found out we were pregnant. It was right around Mother’s Day 2014. I had wanted to give my mom a grandchild so badly, especially knowing she was sick. We told my mom early, at about 8-9 weeks. I thought that maybe this was the bump she needed to finally get her body back to where she wanted it.  We gave her a bracelet that said Grandma on it.  At first, she thought it was from our cat!  Then she thought about it, and I hadn’t seen her so excited in a long time!

What are some of the ways you feel supported by friends and family?

My husband was my rock during that tough summer. He was there at every doctor’s appointment, and had no problem with me staying for days at a time with my mom when she was home.  He encouraged me to do silly things to keep my mind off of things while my mom slept. Once my mom went into hospice, he came every night with me to see her.  My dad has always been an amazing person, but blew me away during those years.  They were divorced but became her main care taker.  He took her to every appointment, every treatment, and spent nights at her house as well.  He told me everything that happened at those appointments, and we all talked a lot as a family.  I see my father at least once a week now (he does some baby-sitting now and again too), and we do lots of talking and reminiscing.  I have a close group of girlfriends; like all friends we get involved in life and don’t always see each other.  During that time, they were the first to come to my mom’s house and brought food for my dad, my brother, and me.  They were always checking in. I don’t know what I would have done without them. Now we all have kids (well, one has a nephew she adores), and we try to get together at least once a month.

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How would you encourage someone going through the process of grieving the loss of a loved one?

I would say take life one hour at a time.  When you’re ready, take life one day at a time.  There is no amount of time that can totally take that hurt of losing a loved one away, but slowly the hurt does lessen.  No one can tell you that enough time has passed and you should be “over it”.  Only the person grieving knows when they are able to put one foot in front of the other.  What I also found helped was joining a support group.  Members of this group had all experienced a loss, and although not all losses were the same, we all knew that deep feeling of despair and grief.  It started as more of a therapeutic gathering, but now I attend because these people have become my friends. 

What have you learned about yourself this year?

Since Bella was born, I have learned that I am stronger than I thought in many respects.  The late nights, working on my Master’s program, working full time… I do have my moments where I think I cannot do it and I break down. In the end, though, it gets done.  I just think of my mom, and how hard she fought against her illness.  I am nowhere near the hardships she had to endure, and I know she would not want me giving up or breaking down.

Are there any other details or thoughts you would like to share with the community?

I know we’ve all heard this, but do not take anything for granted.  Life is short; a loved one is there one minute, and could be gone the next.  This is something that I keep in mind everyday.  Yes, I am busy and there are things that have to get done (work, classwork).  However, the laundry can wait.  Dinner can be later.  What matters most is my family–making sure I play with Bella as soon as we come home, chasing Chewie around the house for playtime, sitting down and spending time with Jason.  Take time to be with the ones you love.  But also remember to love yourself, too–for you are no good to anyone if you yourself are unhappy.

Bella and Chewie

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 This is so beautiful, Jen. Thank you Jen for sharing your heart! I am so glad the sunburst ring holds deep meaning for you. You are strong and brave. xx

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Moments of motherhood

family, motherhood By April 15, 2016 2 Comments

Will you walk down memory lane with me? Looking back through these old photos has my heart melted into a puddle. Have you ever snapped a pic in what seems like a totally normal, mundane moment and then years later look back and think ‘OH MY GOSH I’m so glad I captured that!’ It’s the everyday, mundane moments that make life truly beautiful.

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Matthias loved dressing up as a toddler and preschooler. Every day he wore elaborate costumes and pretended to be a superhero or fireman. I loved watching him express himself then and love looking back and seeing how his passion for creativity and expression is still so much the same!

And David {above middle} learned to feed himself spoonfuls of yogurt and we CELEBRATED! Such a big accomplishment. And those sweet baby cheeks melt me.

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I’m somehow with two of the cuddliest kids in the world. They love to hold hands and snuggle up on the couch. They would happily snuggle up in our bed every night if we let them. I believe one can never have too many cuddles.

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Looking back on these pics I can see how much David has changed. He’s filled out–he’s not so skinny any more. He’s much sturdier health wise {thank you Lord!} and has a lot more opinions than he used to have. But oh my goodness, that little sparkle in his eye and his love of life hasn’t changed one bit. I love it!

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Owning our own business has been good and bad–but mostly good. There are nights Steve and I both have to work late, but we also have the ability to take time off when we need or want to. We’ve taken two weeks off to travel to England. When David had heart surgery when he was seven years old, we took a lot of time off to take care of him. We were able to from his hospital room or make calls after he fell asleep. I am thankful so thankful for that flexibility. I don’t take it for granted.

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Oh my gosh those frog rain boots were Matthias’ favorite for a couple years. We went through a few pairs! What is it about kids and boots–there is nothing cuter. Nothing.

Being a family isn’t made up of one huge success or one massive failure. Family is formed over days, months and years. It’s the day in, day out mundane stuff of life that creates a safe place to truly be yourself–and know that you’re loved no matter what. Every kiss, cuddle, tear wiped, lunch packed, homework packet signed and bedtime prayer bonds our hearts together. Being a mom is life giving and heart breaking. It’s so incredibly hard and so amazingly beautiful. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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being shaped and formed and molded

jewelry, motherhood, the meaning behind By April 12, 2016 4 Comments

I don’t know how to make jewelry–or at least there are times I want to give up because it’s hard! Over the years, I’ve learned how to use my tools, but sometimes they still won’t cooperate. When I set out to create a new design, I dream, sketch, metal work, file, hammer, polish—and I can tell you, nine times out of ten, the end result is different that what I imagined when inspiration first came to me.

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I see symbolism here with motherhood. I dreamed about being a mom since I was a little girl. I wrapped my baby doll in a blanket and carried her around the house. I changed pretend diapers and hoped some day I would have my own, very real baby. When I held David in my arms for the first time, everything I imagined fell away. With a disability, he wasn’t what I expected, but he was adorable and precious. He was part of me and also uniquely himself. With Matthias’ birth I was similarly unprepared and facing the unexpected. When each of my boys was placed in my arms we met for the first time. That first day we began the adventure getting to know each other.

With every cuddle, kiss, tear wiped and hand held we are molding our children. With every comforting word and piece of advice shared, we are guiding and training our children. Each child brings his own personality, spunk and curiosity to life. Like metalworking and jewelry design, it’s an imperfect process. The artist and the metal work together. The parent and the child are each growing, changing and being shaped into something lovely.

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There is a beauty to a handmade piece that is forged from metal and shaped into something meaningful. When our pieces are made, sometimes the metal works in our favor, and sometimes it works against us. The process involves fire to soften and shape the metal, but it also requires cool water baths and the gentle brushes to buff and shine. There is push and pull—two forces at work. What results is better because of the struggle. The finished design is a combination of what I bring to the workbench and what the raw materials allow.  Motherhood, like jewelry making, is two forces working together. It’s a process of being shaped and formed and molded—not just the child, but the mother as well.

Each handmade piece of jewelry represents my mother’s heart. It’s the deep significance of a journey walked together. Through highs and lows each of us is changed and deep bonds are formed. This is where love flourishes. This is the meaning behind each piece of jewelry I create.

Stack on a few delicate birthstone rings or wear a handcrafted necklace close to your heart with the knowledge that being a mother is magnificent work—not because mother or child is perfect, but because together we are growing, becoming stronger and more whole.  Together we are better.

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Mother’s Day is just a few short weeks away. There is a perfect gift waiting to be created, just for you or a dear one in your life. Don’t wait—click here to see the pieces I’ve created for you.

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the beauty of emptiness

motherhood, the meaning behind the jewelry By March 10, 2016 14 Comments

One day last week, David’s tummy was hurting on and off for hours. GI pain is a common with his syndrome and he struggles with it daily. I worked through our list of remedies to soothe his pain and comfort his soul. I gave him Advil, held him, rubbed and patted his back and had him soak in a warm bath. Nothing worked, he continued to arch and scream. What began with confidence ended with discouragement. We reached the end of the list and the end of my energy, and I began to pray harder, “Lord help him, Lord help me.”  There seemed to be no answers, no solution and we were both exhausted. We laid down together and cried. Finally, he drifted off to sleep and I got up and made myself a cup of coffee. As a mother, I’d been there before—the excruciating place of feeling helpless. In that moment I couldn’t feel it, but as we walk this journey together, the outpouring of love, pain of emptiness and beauty of grace have come together to form a deep bond between us. Somehow, the struggle strengthens the bond. Our souls are connected.

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I’ve experienced this with both of my boys. Each one has their own needs and their own way of communicating. Each one, in some inexplainable way, has my whole heart. When I became a mother, my heart opened itself in a new way. The depth of love I felt for this new, tiny person, entrusted to my care was overwhelming and amazing and terrifying. The caring, listening, nurturing, feeding, worrying, comforting and constant guesswork of loving my child was and continues to be the most humbling and important work I do. Where I’ve found myself empty, I’ve also experienced the miracle of being renewed and beginning again. To my relief, there are new mercies every morning.

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Motherhood has no clear boundaries or end, it flows into every part of my life. My heart is always with my children, even when we are physically apart. I can’t help it, I want to give them my time, compassion and love. A whole heart, devoted to another is a beautiful, imperfect thing. The sacred sacrifice of motherhood is a high and humble calling. Pouring myself out means sometimes I will be empty, but in that place deep bonds are formed. It’s much more difficult and much more beautiful than I expected. I am so much better for it.

Have you experienced the beauty of emptiness as a mother or caregiver?

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