Tuesday, November 4, 2014


Today is my birthday.  It is also election day.  I was born on election day-a Presidential election day.  The president elected that November 4th was Dwight D. Eisenhower.  People told my mom they should name me Mamie.  I'm very glad she didn't follow their advice!

Because it is my birthday, I am going to muse a bit about some of the things that have happened in my life during this last year.  Many people have heard the verses from Ecclesiastes that reflect on events that happen in everyone's lives.(if you are my age, it was a popular Simon and Garfunkel song!)
There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven.
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal, 
a time to tear down and a time to build, 
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, 
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away ,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

A time for everything...What I've noticed in my life is that I resist whatever "time" I am going throughI don't want to go through those times of
uprooting, tearing down, weeping, mourning, or giving up. But I as I read this, I realized that those seemingly bad and sad times were a big part of my life last year.

"A time to mourn" and "a time to cry" were major players this last year and they still are.  It's now been 11 months since Branch was born and I had the blessing of knowing him for seven short days.  The effect of him on my life has been profound.  The hole in my heart is still there. I think it always will be.  October 15 was Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Kristin asked me to light a candle to remember Branch.  It was an honor to do so. 

"A time to tear down" was also a part of last year, as the school I had worked at for six years had to close due to lack of enrollment.  The grounds were beautiful, so I loved going there, but the people I became friends with were even more beautiful.  It's been very hard to go to work every day and not be with those who have come to know and love me, who held me up with such prayer and strength during the months leading up to and after the birth of Branch.  
"A time to search"-so in losing one job, it was time to search for another. Here I was, in the midst of mourning both my grandson and my job, having a pretty tough time even wanting to make myself look good so that I could get another job.   I think I sent out 15-20 resumes, had at least 10 interviews, and finally, thankfully another job offer. It seemed to take forever, but now I find that it is...
"A time to build".  It seems tougher to do as you get older, but I believe the building part of life helps keep me fresh and dependent on God.   There is a huge learning curve in any new job. Slowly but surely I am making sense of new policies, procedures and curriculum.   But I have a sweet class, another beautiful campus to work on and am building new relationships with great people.
What will happen this year? No one knows, right?
Times of mourning, weeping, tearing down, throwing away are a part of the life that must be lived in a fallen world.  But since I know those times are inevitable, I want to focus on all the opportunities to love, to embrace, to speak, to be silent, to plant, to laugh and to heal. As they say, we are all given the same 24 hours each day to live.  I pray God gives me wisdom and grace to use the gift of time wisely.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


It is almost June, and I have not been able to write on this blog since last April.  I've thought about it.  But somehow I have not had the strength to do so.  How do I express what has been going on in my heart during the last months?

The process of grieving is slow-oh, so slow.  Many people thing that after six months I should be "over it".  I'm sure they think it's ok for my daughter to keep grieving, after all she is the mom, but what's the big deal with me?  I don't think I would have believed it myself, except that I am the one that is still going through it.

I think of Branch every day.  I'm serious, every day.  Last fall, I wrote a blog entry entitled  Lessons from the TreesAt that time I wrote about how fall was so beautiful, how winter would seem such a dead time, but that spring would come.  Little did I know that my lessons would come this year both emotionally and literally.  Maryland had one of the toughest winters in its history-days of ice, snow, below freezing temperatures, arctic vortexes and all kinds of crazy stuff.  It seemed  as if we would never see green again.

Spring started coming at the beginning of April, something that usually happens in March.  In spite of the long winter, I wasn't quite ready for spring.  My soul still felt dark, sad and was still in winter mode.  

I made myself get out and enjoy spring when it came.  I spent an entire day just walking around D.C. taking pictures of cherry blossoms and blooming flowers.  Because it took so long to come, I think it was one of the most beautiful springs I've seen since living here.  As I was walking around, I thought of Branch.  I don't really remember what I thought about him, just that he was in my thoughts.  Perhaps it was the beauty of new life and the way it reminded me of his life. A life that brought joy to all of us who love him.

I wonder if there are seasons in heaven or if it is just spring.  You know the type of days I mean- we actually call them "heavenly."  A day with beautiful blue skies, fluffy white clouds, a slight breeze and temperatures around 70 degrees.   The Bible says that heaven has a  flowing river with a tree of life on each side of that river.  The tree will have 12 crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. When fruit trees blossom, they are truly beautiful.  Sounds like spring to me.  
I close with this: winter is losing it's grip on me, and is definitely gone from the landscape around me.  God is faithful, he will hold me and my family though the highs and the lows.  I'm grateful to believe in a God who cares and that life will one day be with Him, with those I've loved and lost, and will be forever spring.
Kristin's blog

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Four Months Ago

Four months ago I became a grandma.  At 1:23 on 12/3, Branch Lionheart Murdock was born.  
Four months ago, I held Branch in my arms.  He held my hand.  He made cute baby noises.  I was surprised.  I was delighted. I fell in love.

Four months ago, I was anxious, I was proud, I was happy, I was sad.  At least 1,000 emotions assailed me that day.
Four months ago, I was with my little girl, but she was no longer a little girl.  She was a woman, a mom; a mom full of joy and love for her newborn son, a woman  who is facing her tremendous loss with courage and grace and honesty. (see Kristin Eats)  

Last week I held a baby that was Branch's age.  It is the first time I have held a baby since holding Branch.  And I realized how full, yet broken my heart is.  Full because I had a chance to know and love Branch.  Broken because I miss him so, that beautiful bit of heaven that graced my life-
four months ago. 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Michael W. Smith

Anyone reading this may wonder what in the world Grandma's journey has to do with Michael W. Smith.  And others may wonder who  Micheal W. Smith is. 
Michael W. Smith is a Christian artist that has been around for quite awhile.  I have loads of his CD's.  My family heard them all the time. His Christmas albums play in our house for the entire Christmas season.  One Christmas song is especially special to us because  it was a part of our church's Christmas concert and Kimberly was the soloist in it-at age 10! Many of his songs are iconic Christian songs used in churches around the world. People are still singing them during worship time. As he said at the concert, "I've been doing this a long time."

I had a chance last week to go to his concert at the Kennedy Center. This concert was special because it included a full orchestra and choir, something he does not usually do.
 Besides the miracle of getting into downtown DC and back home safe and sound by myself, the music, the words of songs, the words of Michael W. Smith, brought me back to what really grounds my life-God.
In this season of grieving, I feel like there is a cloud over my head at times. I don't know if I am coming or going.  My friend at work told me yesterday she could tell I was "spinning". Along with the loss of Branch, I face the loss of my job because the amazing school that I work at is having to close.  Life goes on, but I sometimes wonder if I have the strength to face it.  
But then there was the concert; songs with words that brought me back to show me that I don't need to rely on my strength in the first place.

Here are just some of the words that touched my heart:
Holy Words long preserved
For our walk in this world
They resound with God's own heart
Oh, let the ancient words impart...
Ancient words, ever true
Changing me and changing you,
We have come with open hearts,
Oh, let the ancient words impart. 
(Ancient Words, by Michael W. Smith)

Another song that touched me was Great is the Lord. I am not sure how old this song is, I know I have sung it in groups many times.  It puts my focus back on what is true in spite of loss.
Great is the Lord, He is holy and just
By His power we trust in His love
Great is the Lord, He is faithful and true
By His mercy He prove, He is love.
Great are you Lord and worthy of glory
Great are you Lord and worthy of praise.
(Great is the Lord, by Michael W. Smith)

There were so many more, Christmas songs, instrumental songs, songs by the choir, songs to sing along with. The entire evening was one that brought me back to years of listening to God speak through music and now holding me through this time of uncertainty and loss, saying once again, "You can trust me, even when you cannot see what is around the corner."

One last song touched my heart in a very special way.  It was an instrumental piece entitled Giving from the album Freedom.
It was beautiful, quiet, sweet, touching-it reminded me of Branch for some reason.  It made me think of the beauty of his face, his hands, his whole little self.  Of holding him, of him grasping my hand, of his soft cheeks that I kissed every time I held him.  I hope Michael W. Smith doesn't mind, but in my head that song will always be Branch's Song for me. 

I end this post with being thankful.  Thankful for music, thankful that God speaks in so many ways, thankful that He gave me a chance to be comforted and strengthened through the words and gift of music. 


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Waiting for Branch Lionheart

It is now January 12th, one month and 9 days since my grandson, Branch Lionheart was born.  I have thought of blogging about him and his incredible life before now, but my heart is still too tender from the loss.  So I am going to take a few blog posts to tell about some of the different things that happened while he was with us.  My hope through this is much the same as my daughter's;  that anyone who is faced with the awful news that their baby won't survive, will consider wanting to give that baby as much life as possible, even if it is only while growing in the womb.

The Waiting Room

Kristin and Glenn decided to have the baby via c-section, since this would give him more of a chance to be born alive. (see Kristin's blog post:Kristineats) The date was set for December 3rd.  After that wish, they wanted as many people as possible to celebrate his life.  The hospital staff was incredible and in full support of their decisions.

We went to the waiting room around 11:30.  We were quite the crowd.  Between the grandparents, aunts and uncles and all the couples that are close friends, I think there were around 30 people.  We took over the waiting room, to say the least.

They had a social worker who kept us informed, from the timing of the C-section to the actual birth.  Kristin and Glenn's pastor was there. He was able to pray for them before the actual operation and then came to pray with us out in the waiting room.  Tears abounded, especially between my girls and me.
Shortly after 1:30 (I think) the social worker came out to tell us the great news. "Branch was born alive at 1:23.  He let out a cry. Glenn has been holding him and he is now laying on Kristin, skin to skin."  Katherine looked at me, I looked at her, we hugged and burst into tears.  Our prayers were answered, a live birth, which is not a guarantee with a baby with anencephaly. Later, (2 o'clock, 3 o'clock, I have no idea really) Glenn came out of the birth/operating room  with a big smile on his face and asked, "Does everyone want to come meet Branch?"  The entire gang of us lined up and headed down the corridor.  I was on my way to meet my grandson.   

Kristin's blog

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Lord is Come

Last Sunday at church we sang the Christmas song, "Joy to the World".  The pastor then spoke about the first lines of this song, "Joy to the World, the Lord is come."  The focus (if I remember correctly) was on the fact that with the birth of Jesus, the Lord is come, not just that he had come, or will be coming (which He will) but that He is come and is present with us in our lives right now.  

This last week Branch was born.  Kristin's prayer was that he would be born alive and that she and Glenn and others would get a chance to know him.  We did, in so many ways.  I saw God's hand and felt his touch throughout the short week of his life. God gave blessings in the midst of this great sorrow.
Reading Click, Clack, Moo, Cows that Type to Branch

I felt God's presence through little Branch.  He made noise, he held my hand.  He would turn towards Kristin when she spoke, he would be calm and go to sleep in Glenn's arms.  He was surrounded by love, he was so content.  Every nurse and doctor who came into their room was amazed his responsiveness and at the amount of love that surrounded him. Being able to love and hold him were the greatest gifts I have  been given.
Banch's footprint on Isaiah 4:2, holding his hand, Jim holding Branch.

I saw God in action through the friends of Kristin and Glenn.  So many wonderful people who love unconditionally and give sacrificially to help Kristin, Glenn, Branch and even the grandparents.  They truly showed to me what the Body of Christ in action should look like.  They know how to "rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep." (Romans 12:15)

I felt and saw God's love poured out through my family. We have our ups and downs and disagreements like any family, but we held each other, cried, laughed and helped one another in ways I cannot begin to count.  I am thankful for each girl and how much love and strength they showed during this last week.
Kimberly and Kristin with Branch, Katherine and Branch, Corrie and Branch 
 "Now to him who by the power that is working within us is able to do far beyond all that we ask or think, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen." (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Being a Mom

Usually when you meet someone new, the first thing you ask is, "What do you do?"  I remember the days of being a stay at home mom when my answer was just that, "I am a stay at home  mom."  The responses were varied, from oh that's good, to just oh, and the person would walk away thinking I was not contributing much to society at large.
But for me, I consider being a mom the greatest challenge and the greatest joy I have ever had, and fortunately am still having. Parenting does not stop when your kids are grown  up.
A normal part of being mom is helping your child navigate difficult times.  My first teaching job was in a dinky migrant town in Arizona and I usually went home every weekend since there was nothing to do with the Gila monstersOne weekend I was eating dinner with my mom and burst into tears.  I had no idea why, but she hit the nail on the head. "Honey, you are really lonely down there because there is no one there your age."  How did my mom know that? How could she read me so well?  It didn't change my circumstances, but knowing that someone knew and cared, helped me go back to my job.
My mom died pretty young, when Kristin was only three and I was pregnant with Corrie.  I never had the chance to ask her any questions about parenting, and if I was doing it right.  I remember one thing she always said to me: "There are no courses in parenting.  I did the best I could all these years, and I've loved you."
I love being a mom. All my girls have been a joy in so many ways, but for this moment I want to focus on Kristin. I've seen her grow over the years into the beautiful woman she is now and could not be more proud.  She is honest and open, she loves God, loves her husband, loves her son with everything in her.  She is an example to me in so many ways of learning to trust in God when you really just don't understand.  We've been through a lot in our lives, we lived in three different countries, she was at one time fluent in all three languages.  She's gone to school here, there and everywhere, she's loved one boy who then became her husband, she's journeyed through this difficult time of carrying and loving Branch with such grace and love and hope that every time I pray for her, I cry tears of joy mixed with sorrow.  She trusts that God will see her through the birth, even though she knows there will be such great grief when he's gone.
She is a great mom.  
Kristin, I love you.