Blog Archive

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Hello Friends and Family,
After such a long season of quiet, the end of 2013 provides a lovely opportunity for a family update!
Since our family celebrated Ava Day in May, we've been slowly moving forward. There are far too many hills and valleys to walk through them all today, but looking back, we have continued to see God's faithful hand at our backs, gently guiding us onward, and in front of us, clearing a path. Ava remains part of our daily conversation and the girls love to incorporate her into our activities. The hole she left in our hearts remains and these family celebrations give us many opportunities to reflect on our journey.
Matt is busy with work in at Wash U and his research lab is on good footing. After injuring his back and cervical spine with unfortunate snow shoveling technique he has been slowly recovering and is looking forward to resuming his running in the New Year!
Elizabeth is loving 2nd grade and continues to thrive at her charter school. She has a wonderful teacher and is blessed to have Mrs. R as her aide in the classroom. She's increasingly independent, super creative and loves to write and make up stories with her sisters. She recently declared she was a songwriter, so we look forward to seeing her develop her skills! 
Ruby is thriving in Kindergarten and loves to sing, read, draw, snuggle and is very proud of the calluses on her hands from all the climbing she does on the school playground! She is a loyal friend, and very caring and empathetic. She never lets anyone cry alone, so if you need a shoulder to cry on, she's your gal.
Hannah Mae is our little adventurer! She's learning to write her name, loves to sing and build and scare her mama by hanging from high places like a monkey! She comes with me to a Thursday morning bible study and loves to pray for her friends, and every single ambulance or fire truck we see!
I, Sara, am doing well. After a full summer of swim lessons, visits from out-of-town friends, a Harms family reunion at the Oregon Coast, and a wonderful road trip to Canada to visit my sister's family, the start of school in August almost felt like a break in the action! We tried to slow down a bit this fall while Matt traveled quite a bit for work and that has allowed us to have a really peaceful Advent.
We are so grateful to be able to fly to California for Christmas to be with my parents and siblings and all the nieces and nephews. While I write this, Elizabeth is hunkered down with a stomach virus, but even illness feels easier when surrounded by family.
We hope you and your family are doing well, and pray you would experience the deep love of God in this coming year. We are so grateful to have you in our lives!
Sara (for all of us!) 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Ava's Glorious Day

What a day.

I woke up at 5:50am with the lyrics to Tim Hughes' "Oh Happy Day" in my head. Strange. But I couldn't shake them! I kept finding myself humming, "oh, what a glorious day"....until I finally had to look up
the rest of the song.

The greatest day in history,
Death is beaten
You have rescued me
Sing it out, Jesus is alive!
The empty cross, The empty grave
Life eternal You have won the day
Shout it out, Jesus is alive!
He's alive!

Oh happy day, happy day
You washed my sin away
Oh happy day, happy day
I'll never be the same
Forever I am changed

When I stand, in that place
Free at last, meeting face to face
I am Yours Jesus You are mine
Endless joy, perfect peace
Earthly pain finally will cease
Celebrate Jesus is alive!
He's alive!

Oh what a glorious day!
What a glorious way
That You have saved me!
Oh what a glorious day!
What a glorious name!

What a perfect thing to remember today.

Because He is alive, Ava is alive, and is spending her second birthday gloriously, wonderfully WHOLE! What a celebration she must be having!

Here in our yard, in celebration of Ava Day, our very first peony (we've decided it's Ava's flower) was ready to burst into bloom...

Grandma came to care for the girls, and spent the morning at a school event with Elizabeth's class.

As a result, Matt and I had precious together time over breakfast and then walked through the Missouri Botanical Gardens to see their peonies in glorious color. Oh how their bright and happy blooms just delight my heart! We sat by the lake and read a few cards from friends and family. We read your texts and emails and felt the love from all over. 

We arrived home to prepare for our Ava Day family celebration and a backyard bar-b-que. The girls and I made lemon cupcakes with sparkly pink icing which were lovingly decorated and later joyfully consumed! It's a birthday tradition in our family that everyone shares something they love about the birthday girl (or boy), so Ava got her turn and we all shared our memories and special stories. What a year of experiences we had with our Little Bean.

Finally, we had a backyard camp-out tonight, complete with campfire, hotdogs, marshmallows and the girls' first experience sleeping in a tent! Good thing their Daddy is a great sleeper. I left them to their adventure, and I'm going to enjoy a comfy bed and quiet house as long as I can!

As I climb into bed, I look out at the perfectly round moon, and am again awestruck by God's faithfulness to bring so much beauty out of so much sorrow. We ache to hold our sweet one. We shed tears over our loss. And yet we are full to running over with precious memories and gratefulness for the time we had together.

Thank you all for your cards, flowers, texts, and emails, voice-mails and pictures of the moon from all over the world tonight! You love us so well.

Goodnight dear ones and goodnight Ava Bean.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Year With Ava

Someone knew us.

Someone knew that capturing moments and people we love on film might be called my "love language".

Someone knew our time with our sweet girl was precious and short.

And that someone, also knew the talented Josh and Amy Heater at SweetTea Media and asked them to give us the gift of a lifetime.

In March, three months before Ava died, Amy offered to begin coming to our home and following our family to capture the moments we lived and played with and cherished our Ava Bean. We couldn't say YES fast enough! You've already seen some of the footage in the video we played at Ava's memorial service, but that was only a slice of the treasured moments they captured.

The movie below is another treasure. For me, it's 20 minutes of grace. I feel like I can almost touch her again. Reliving those moments and remembering the dear people who made them possible has been part of my therapy this week.

We still don't know who that Someone is. But we are forever grateful.

A Year With Ava from sweetTea media on Vimeo.

Special thanks to Stephen Miller for use of his songs I Surrender All and How Deep the Father's Love for Us

Friday, May 17, 2013

Ava's Nest

Last April, Matt traveled to New Orleans for a medical conference and happened to walk by a studio hosting an exhibit by Mitchell Lonas, and was enthralled. He stood in front of the enormous pieces of art and was blown away by the intricate nests carved into metal canvases.We dreamed about having his work in our home.

When it became clear that Ava was moving closer to heaven, Matt and I decided we wanted to have her body cremated. Though we knew her spirit was free and whole and in the presence of her Creator, the idea of her body being laid to rest anywhere away from us, simply broke our hearts, and we couldn't do it.

 Shortly after her memorial service, Matt was put in touch with Mitchell, and asked if he'd be willing to create a memorial piece for our Little Bird. She has left our nest. She is at peace and we couldn't imagine a better way to treasure her memory. Mitchell graciously agreed, and in October, we received this breathtaking tribute to our precious girl.
Thank you to Ashleigh Blevins for capturing Ava's Nest on film.

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, May 16, 2013

For months, I've had nothing to say. I couldn't name what was happening inside for anyone else. The sheer intensity of life and trying to stay present in the moments that filled each day left no room for silence and writing and sharing. So I have treasured things in my heart and waited for the time I knew would come.

I didn't know what exactly I needed. But God did. Slowly, He's created for me a space. 

A special place to remember. 

In the fall, a dear friend helped me redesign my living room. She placed the framed picture of Ava under the we would see it many times a day. Shortly after that, we received the memorial piece we'd had made for Ava. A beautiful piece of art, custom created by Mitchell Lonas

Finally, Grandma Harms' moving truck arrived this week with her precious things from her home with Grandpa in California. She had set aside this chair for us and as soon as I sat in it, I burst into tears. I wasn't sure why, until I realized, this recliner felt exactly like the one I sat in with my Ava Bean for hours and hours during her 84 days in the NICU. My body knew where it was.


As we look ahead to Ava's Day next Friday, I plan to spend many moments in this little slice of heaven. Cuddling my sweet girls, remembering our Ava Bean and reflecting on the journey of the past months. I look forward to sharing it little by time.