Friday, December 16, 2011


From the moment of conception, we are mothers. From the instant pregnancy is confirmed, we make plans and our dreams unfold. Then, in a moment's time, our world shatters. Our stories are all different, but our pain is the same. We are mothers who will forever grieve the loss of our children.

♥  Bristol Sparks born into Heaven on December, 18th 2009  ♥

Two years ago my dreams were shattered, my heart broken, and my life changed. They say that time heals pain, and I wonder if years down the road December 17th & 18th will pass with just a short pause to remember our first child. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about Bristol in some way...and I hope that even in years to come, I never forget. Not because I want to relive that pain, but because I want to remember all the awesome blessings that were born out of her short life.

* I committed my life to Christ and was baptized a few months after Bristol was born. Through her life and death, I gained eternal life by truly believing in my Savior.
* Brad & I raised over $1000 for TinyHeartbeats in honor of her 1st Heavenly birthday. Because of those funds, many women across the U.S. will have peace of mind during their subsequent pregnancy with the use of a fetal doppler.
* Beats for Bristol, Inc. was founded this year and has already touched the lives of dozen of families by raising awareness for prenatal loss and providing free doppler rentals to women who have experienced the loss of a child. We also send pregnancy devotionals to doppler recipients and hope to minister to women in a special way.
* The Bristol Project of The Zoe Foundation, Inc. ( was born this year as well. The Zoe Foundation provides financial assistance for burial/funeral arrangements for families who have experienced the loss of a child. Because of our Indiana Chapter (The Bristol Project) many families will be comforted in a time of need.
* Some people have told me, that my faith throughout this experience has inspired them to seek a closer relationship with Christ. What an awesome blessing- for others to know and love Him- through this storm.

As I've prepared emotionally for Bristol's upcoming birthday, I have been torn by what to do and what, if anything, is appropriate. I have felt so strongly about doing something...and as I've reflected on why, I realized that I'm afraid if we do nothing, then no one will remember our first pregnancy. That her short life/death will be forgotten and therefore meaningless. I'm terrified that this journey, that piece of my heart, and everything that has happened since, will become a distant memory.

Two people- both mother's who have angels waiting in heaven- have told me this week that Bristol's life has touched and impacted many other lives. This simple reminder touched my heart in such a way that I was overcome with peace. I don't have to worry about making sure people remember Bristol, because in her own way, her life is touching people in countless ways that I can't. Bristol's legacy has already begun, and I pray that it continues to impact lives for generations to come, long after I am celebrating her life in Heaven. 

And in God's perfect timing, I've received four doppler requests this week alone! As I was communicating via email with one of the mother's she wrote this in her email:
I am so excited to hear from you! Oh I wish I could hug your neck! I have been glued to your website reading your story. What a great thing you are doing! I also can tell you are a believer and that warms my heart as well. Thank you for praying for me. This is such a blessing to me.
 I cannot EVER repay you for what this means.
Thank you for allowing little Bristol to touch my heart too.
 I cannot wait to meet her one day in heaven.

What an awesome thought...truly touched my heart, gave me chills, and brought tears to my eyes. As believers, we have the presence of God's Spirit to guide us to change, so the legacy we write in others' lives can be godly.

What makes greatness is starting something that lives after you.
- Ralph Sockman

You are not here merely to make a living. You are here to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, and with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world. You impoverish yourself if you forget this errand.
- Woodrow Wilson

Our days are numbered. One of the primary goals in our lives should be to prepare for our last day. The legacy we leave is not just in our possessions, but in the quality of our lives. What preparations should we be making now? The greatest waste in all of our earth, which cannot be recycled or reclaimed, is our waste of the time that God has given us each day.”

― Bill Graham

What makes greatness is starting something that lives after you.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


I am in a funk. I'm not sure if it's turning 30, issues at work, the recent changes in our battle to get pregnant, getting our house ready to sell, or the anticipation of getting through another December 17 & 18...quite possibly the combination of all these really has me on the verge of depression. I keep trying to be positive, upbeat, and optimistic, but the devil sure has a good grip on my thoughts and I find myself talking through moments everyday to fight back tears and give up. The other day my daily calendar had this quote:
"Head up, shoulders back, thoughts positive, heart set on the promises of God." Only to be followed up by, "He is the God who keeps every promise" the very next day.
 His timing couldn't have been more perfect.

Last month, I saw the most beautiful rainbow I have ever seen. This picture doesn't do it justice. I have never seen a rainbow where I could see both the ends of it, and have never seen a double rainbow. I saw this rainbow on October 14th- I remember because it was the day before our National Pregnancy & Infant Loss Day Walk. I was a mix of emotions- excited about our walk, sad about remembering Bristol, anxious to get through that day, and feeling defeated with another month of unsuccessful fertility treatment. I walked out of CVS and saw the most beautiful took my breath away and I couldn't take pictures quick enough to capture this awesome sight. And then tears started to flow. Here I was having a pity party for myself, and God blesses me the most beautiful example of His love and never ending promises for us!
"Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you."
1 Peter 5:6-7

Seeing this rainbow put me in my place- it got my focus rearranged, humbled me, reminded me of His awesome power & glory, and reminded me that our trials here on earth are for one serve a greater glory for His kingdom. This sure is a hard lesson for me, and one I continue to battle with...I know it's selfish of me to not want to have struggles and trials, especially the ones I continue to face, but then again, who does? I feel like I am constantly reminding myself that what I face, is just part of my journey, and if I can share with others about God's love, faithfulness, and mercy, then that is what it's all about...NOT ME. (As I write that, I hear my Beth Moore bible study ranting on about our current day Babylon and our self centered culture.)

Here is a picture of my precious Bristol, I've never really shared photos of her before...

Last week after hearing the Dugger Family news of welcoming a 20th baby to their family, I got out my memory box of Bristol. I was really upset (maybe hateful and jealous would be a better description) when I heard the news that they were pregnant, again! She must sneeze and get pregnant, and here I am jabbing my stomach with a needle 14 out of 28 days...have been through 3 pregnancies and have only to got to keep one here on earth....there I go again, my ugly selfish-pity party head raring...

On top of hearing this news, I have really struggled with some of the cases I am assigned to at work...long story short, I am surrounded by situations in which parents don't put their kids as a priority. I know several families who would love to have kids, and struggle to get or maintain a pregnancy. And yet, for others it seems so simple and at times an inconvenience. Heartbreaking to say the least.
Then it dawned on me this morning- the Duggers have constantly given praise to God for their children and the blessing of each additional pregnancy. Part of their journey (regardless of media attention, money, etc) is giving praise back to our creator, and maybe touching lives in unknown ways that will further His kingdom. Who am I to judge or say what their motives are? God knows, and in the end, that's all that matters.

This forces me to face the reality that perhaps fertility struggles are part of my journey. As much as I hate enduring this battle and feeling broken, it forces me to rely on faith, encourages a relationship through prayer, and allows an opportunity for a unique ministry. The loss of Bristol has allowed me to share my faith story with others, created new friendships with other women, and given me an opportunity to share about God's love and faithfulness. As Beats for Bristol continues to grow and gain recognition with other women, families, and organizations, I pray that God will use it to reach those who are hurting. It is in those most desperate times of need and hurt, that only a Savior can heal our hearts and change our lives.

"The righteous cry, and the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles."  Psalms 34:17
"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." Psalms 147:3

Perhaps this current fertility struggle, gives me a new platform to share my personal struggle in banishing Satan's stronghold on my thoughts/fears/anxieties. Fertility can shake a person to the core, cause tension in marriages, and create jealousy between friends. But trusting in God's plan, and relying on His promises for us
can get us through those hardest moments. So as I begin another month of shots, I will try to maintain His promise as my focus. Thank goodness our Lord is a loving and forgiving Father...I know this will be a tough battle for me, but I also know that He loves me enough to never let go.

"Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."
Isaiah 41:10
"Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary."
Isaiah 40:31

Saturday, October 8, 2011

On my mind....

If you didn't know this, let me tell you...October is a busy month. It's a month of awareness: 
*Breast Cancer Awareness
*Domestic Violence Awareness
*National Pork Month
*Down Syndrome Awareness month... and the list goes on.

But closest to my heart is, National Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness.
And one week from today will be October 15th, which is National Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day. I have been busy gearing up for our first annual Memorial Walk to celebrate all our babies, and honor the women & families who have experienced the loss of a child. In preparation of this event, my heart has been heavy...and I know the tears will flow. I found a couple of poems I would like to share, as they 'say it all' without me having to say it...

Thinking of You with Love

We thought of you with love today,
but that is nothing new.
We thought about you yesterday,
and days before that too.
We think of you in silence,
we often speak your name.
All we have are memories,
and your picture in a frame.
Your memory is our keepsake,
with which we will never part.
God has you in His keeping,
we have you in our hearts.
A million times we`ve wanted you.
A million times we cried.
If love could only have saved you,
you never would have died.
It broke our hearts to lose you.
But you didn`t go alone.
For a part of us went with you...
the day God called you Home.

~Author Unknown


If tears could build a stairway,
and memories a lane,
I'd walk right up to Heaven
and bring you home again.
No farewell words were spoken
no time to say goodbye
you were gone before I knew it,
and only God knows why.
My heart still aches in sadness
and secret tears still flow,
what it meant to lose you,
no one will ever know.

~Author Unknown

Thursday, August 4, 2011

emotionally vulnerable, physically broken

Today has been a rough day...actually the last couple of weeks have been building up, and today was the culmination of sleep deprivation, stress, emotions, and hormones colliding. It didn't dawn on me until tonight, why I am experiencing another dip on this emotional roller coaster. It's August. August is the month we increased fertility treatment efforts and were able to get pregnant with Bristol. August is the month we had that first positive pregnancy test- and yes, August is the month of the Bristol NASCAR Race, where we discovered that positive pregnancy test. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of Bristol, and certain dates and memories stand out. As we approach the end of the month, I am reminded of the joy, excitement, and anticipation we experienced learning of our pregnancy. Only to be followed by the incredible heartache that we endured, and the hurt that still lingers.

I don't think I fully admitted to anyone (including myself) of the anxiety I have felt knowing that silly NASCAR race is approaching. Brad is going to the race again this year. Last year I was able to skip the race because I was pregnant and the thought of a long ride in the truck, sleeping in a camper, hot walks, and being sober around a crowd of intoxicated rednecks was not my idea of fun. (I say this with a heart of humor!) But this year, I didn't have a good reason to miss the race (other than being away from Brody!!). And as it would happen, a girls trip got planned, so I will be taking Brody on a beach vacation the same weekend as the race. (I am so thankful that I will be surrounded by some great friends, on a weekend that will forever be stamped on my heart.) I know Brad wanted me to go to the race with him, but I couldn't find it in me, to return to that race track and face those memories. Last year, although these memories were present, I was pregnant and able to focus my energy on that. But this year resembles too much of that fateful August 2009 and perhaps, that is why I am battling my emotions.

A few months ago, I started fertility treatment again. The ups and downs of hormone therapy, blood work, ultrasounds, ovulation tests (all of which have been negative), the frustrations, and emotional turmoil are an all too familiar memory. This is what we went through to get pregnant with Bristol, and look what happened. I can't seem to release Satan's grasp on my fears. On one hand, it is an awesome reminder of what a blessing and (I truly believe) miracle baby that Brody is. But on the other, Satan's grasp has me asking questions...Is this a sign that Brody is meant to be our only earthly baby? Maybe this is God's way of saying this isn't meant to happen. And leads me to feeling even more emotionally vulnerable and physically broken. Taking large doses of hormones and fertility medicine, only to find that it doesn't work, is depressing. I recently finished the dose/regiment that was successful with Bristol, only I didn't ovulate this time. It brings out all the "d" words...depressing, defeated, disheartening, despair. Which in turn, has led me to try something different.

Hormone therapy and fertility treatment is not only expensive, but it isn't fun. It leaves you feeling like a train wreck, having hot flashes and major mood swings. A lady from church told me about her 'dr' and gently suggested I see him for fertility. She is a naturalist, and I say that with the utmost sincerity. So I decided to try something body isn't responding to fertility treatment, so what do I have to lose? My first appointment was Tuesday and I learned a new word: alphabiotics. My follow up appointment was today, and my mother accompanied me to help watch Brody. She commented that the office was full of hippies, and maybe that's what comes to mind when I say "naturalist" and alphabiotics. But I have to say, there is something incredibly refreshing and reassuring when the dr talks about God, faith, and healing during a conversation about fertility.

In my short exposure to alphabiotics, I have learned that it is a cross of medical practice and religion. It is concerned about the damage that unrelieved stress can have on the body and focuses on correcting the structure of the body (by chiropractor), to improve function. ( Brad calls it my 'voo-doo doctor', and others may remark that it's holistic, new age, or the like. I went into my initial appointment open minded and skeptical, but left feeling re-energized, reconnected, and encouraged. Everything he said during my initial exam, made sense. And I feel physically better than I have the past couple of months. I'd rather spend my money and feel better, than spend my money and feel like an emotional disaster! So who knows if this will be successful...I'd say my chances can't be any worse than continuing fertility meds that aren't working. One of the things the voo-doo dr said was that God created us with all the parts to reproduce, and there is a God given power within us to do that. He made us perfect in his eyes, and wants our bodies to be healthy. If we can focus on Him, reduce our stress and realign our bodies, then we (with the power of the holy spirit) will heal ourselves. Sound crazy or voo-dooish? Or does it sound like an incredible leap of faith? Right now, I think I want to work with the dr who will pray with and over me...

And everything you ask in prayer believing, you shall receive.
Matthew 21:22

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Phillippians 4:6-7

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Children of God

In my "job" I work with families receiving services from DCS (department of child services)...I supervise visitation with parents and work on parenting skills or other areas of need. Although this job can be challenging and emotionally straining, I absolutely love the work I do. It truly is a blessing to have a "job" that doesn't feel like work and allows an opportunity to see the impact you can have on other peoples lives. That said, there are also moments when I feel I am at a dead end road with a parent/family. After months of work, there are some situations where little or no progress has been made. This can be incredibly frustrating at times- when you consider the amount of time and effort you spend with a family, but see no fruit of your labor...

Yesterday was one of those days. I work with a young lady who has three children, is pregnant with her fourth, and is only 18. I sometimes feel at a loss of trying new methods, etc for making progress on her objectives....yesterday, I sat with her for more than two hours in the immediate care center because she was having some concerning symptoms while pregnant. She didn't seem overly concerned and would not have taken herself to see a doctor, so I took her to make sure both she and baby were ok. It was personally frustrating for me to see her lack of concern regarding the pregnancy, when we have experienced such heartache in this department. As the doctor sat down to express concern regarding the health of herself and baby, my heart ached as I watched this young lady show little concern over what the doctor was telling her.
I sat there wondering why God allows such situations? I know several mommies & families who have desperately tried to become pregnant, with no luck. Or other families who have experienced heartache in losing a little one. Why, I wondered, is it so easy for some? I sat there contemplating the unfairness of the situation and challenged God about these situations...

Then I remembered a sermon from a couple weeks ago. The preacher's words rang in my head, "Who are WE to challenge God? Could it be our own arrogance to think God owes us an explanation?" He posed the example: Why would God allow children to starve on Earth? But imagine that God asks us the same question, Why do we allow children to starve on Earth? Aren't we all children of God? Isn't our "job" here on Earth to take care of and love one another? God has infinite love and mercy. He gives us chance after chance to receive his love and forgives us for all our shortcomings. If God can do that for us, can't we show one another the same?

As I sat thinking about this sermon and applying it to this situation, I was overcome with new emotion and attitude. It doesn't matter if I think it's unfair for some so easily become pregnant while others struggle. Who am I to challenge our sovereign God. It's HIS plan and in HIS hands. We are all children of God. Perhaps, part of my role is to show this mother the same type of love and support God gives to us and continue to encourage her to become the best mother she can be. My job isn't to decide what's fair or to challenge God. It's to humbly serve, praise, and trust.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Where You Lead Me...

When Bristol was born one of the quotes that I clung to in some of my darkest moments was, "The will of God will never lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you." I have this quote on a plaque in my office and even though I walk by it multiple times daily, it has been catching my eye the last few weeks. Before, I relayed this quote to our loss of Bristol and my experiences that followed. However, my understanding and perception of this quote has changed as I've wrestled with unveiling God's will for my life.

The Bible has many references about knowing God's will and sorting through them can be overwhelming when we tackle such a deep issue for our personal lives. Here are just a few that have been tugging at my heart...
  • Isaiah 30:20-21 The Lord has given you sorrow and hurt like the bread and water you ate every day. He is your teacher; he will not continue to hide from you, but you will see your teacher with your own eyes. If you go the wrong way -to the right or to the left- you will hear a voice behind you saying, "This is the right way. you should go this way."
  • Psalm 32:8  The Lord says, "I will make you wise and show you where to go. I will guide you and watch over you."
  • John 7:17 If people choose to do what God wants, they will know that my teaching comes from God and not from me.
  • Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not depend on your own understanding. Remember the Lord in all you do, and he will give you success."
  • Luke 6:46-49 Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord' but do not do what I say? I will show you what everyone is like who comes to me and hears my words and obeys. That person is like a man building a house who dug deep and laid the foundation on rock. When the floods came, the water tried to wash the house away, but it could not shake it, because the house was built well. But the one who hears my words and does not obey is like a man who built his house on the ground without a foundation. When the floods came, the house quickly fell and was completely destroyed."
So where am I going with this? One of the things I have been praying about is for God to show me his will for my life, that I may be open and aware to what His will is for me. A few weeks ago I heard a sermon that touched on this very topic. The sermon talked about being open to the "where's" "what's" and "why's" in our lives and how God can use those moments and experiences to show us His will for our lives. We have so many distractions in this life and world, that sometimes we lose focus of what our real purpose is here in this world. I know I am guilty of this. Sometimes, we need it in black and gray area for us to come up with excuses and reasons to not follow God's calling.

Ever since we lost Bristol, there has been an emptiness in my heart. Don't get me wrong, Brody is an AWESOME blessing and I'm not trying to down play how much I love that little guy! But I think any mom who has lost a child, can understand what I am saying. There is a part of you that will always hurt and grieve for your loss. Tiny Heartbeats was an organization that provided us with a fetal monitor during our pregnancy with Brody, and I am forever grateful for the peace of mind that accompanied having access to a doppler. As you know, we raised money in honor of Bristol for her 1st birthday. The success of our fundraising, and hearing how we had helped so many other women and families got me thinking and feeling that there was more I could do. I had been tossing around the idea of starting a similar non-profit in hopes to help more people. Tiny Heartbeats is based out of California and reaches women across the United States- as you can imagine there are a lot of women, and few organizations like this! One night at dinner I asked Brad what he thought about it. He kind of brushed me off and commented "in what spare time will you do that?" (I should note that he is a very supportive husband!!) I was disappointed that he didn't share my enthusiasm, but convinced myself that maybe he was right...I am working three jobs on top of being a mommy. Who did I think I was, superwoman?

I allowed negativity to convince me that I didn't have the time, energy, knowledge, or resources to start my own non-profit. It was a good idea, but not a realistic one...and it got taken off my list of things to do. But the thought kept nagging at me...and I felt as if I shouldn't completely walk away from the idea. So I decided to pray about it. Was this something God was leading me to do? How will I possibly find the time and resources to do this? Am I capable of creating an organization and all that it entails? I went to bed asking god to make his will clear and that I would know. My black and white moment came the following day. Brad and I were visiting another church, and one of the things the preacher touched on was God working through our lives for His will and greater purpose. The preacher talked about how God places us in different situations, and uses our unique experiences and situations to reach other people. Ah, ha! I got it God! (I guess I needed to hear two sermons to get his message!)

So, in a leap of faith I created "Beats for Bristol"...You can check it out at
I relied on the scripture in Isaiah 30:20-21 The Lord has given you sorrow and hurt like the bread and water you ate every day. He is your teacher; he will not continue to hide from you, but you will see your teacher with your own eyes. If you go the wrong way -to the right or to the left- you will hear a voice behind you saying, "This is the right way. you should go this way."

The amount of positive response has been over-whelming and incredibly reassuring. God has filled me with a new energy and focus on getting this 'project' started and making it a reality! In less than a week, I've already had three women contact me about receiving a 'Beats for Bristol' doppler and received enough donations to purchase my first doppler! My heart is overflowing with gratefulness and enthusiasm.

I often get comments, emails, facebook messages, etc from people who have read this blog or heard "my story"...I love hearing from other people, especially when they say that my experience has somehow helped them. It truly makes my heart happy to know that God's grace through our personal tragedy, can work for the greater good of others. Someone told me that I was an inspiration by creating Beats for Bristol- and I don't feel worthy of such a compliment. It isn't "me" that's at work, it's God. He's the inspiration and motivation!

Music always has a way of stirring my soul, especially when I'm emotionally or spiritually thirsty. As I was driving to meet someone about a Beats for Bristol fundraiser, I truly listened to the words of "Offering" by Third Day.
Magnificent Holy Father
I stand in awe of all I see
Of all the things You have created
But still you choose to think of me.

Who am I that You should suffer
Your very life to set me free
The only thing that I can give you
Is the life You gave to me

This is my offering, dear Lord
This is my offering to You, God
And I will give You my life
For it’s all I have to give
Because You gave Your life for me

What an incredibly powerful think that my life is an offering of gratitude for the eternal life that Jesus gave to me. And how selfish of me, of us, to ignore what He calls us to do! In no way am I perfect or will always "see" and respond to what God calls me to do, but I will continue to pray that He will allow me to see and know His will for my life. For the will of God will never lead you where the grace of God can not keep you.