Sunday, April 20, 2014

#18 - Hearts Are Softened (Through January 25, 2011)

Sometimes it just sweeps over me when I'm not expecting it.  I start replaying that day over and over in my mind, thinking maybe I missed something.  Some clue.  Some sound.  Anything that would help us decide what happened the day Bryer stopped breathing.  It keeps running through my head, expecting that at some point I will remember some noise or cry or something.  Anything.  Have I missed some huge piece of this puzzle?  The doctors say that she was just fine before I layed her down, but that's not true.  She was fussy all weekend.  Was my baby trying to tell me something was wrong then?  Was it more than colic?  Some people refer to 'Bryer's accident,' but I'm not comfortable referring to it as an accident.  Something could have been terribly wrong before I layed her down.  I don't know what happened during those 5-10 minutes she was out of my sight, but I know for sure what DID NOT happen!  This same situation could have easily happened anytime this weekend when we had 3 other adults in the house.  What would the doctors have said then if I had witnesses?  What does a baby's brain look like if it's a SIDS case?  Were one of our other kids in the room with her trying to be helpful?  Why were some of her blood counts high to begin with?  That isn't related to trauma.  What happens in a baby's brain with chicken pox?  They confirmed chicken pox at the hospital.  It's even crossed my mind that there was an intruder in our house while we were at church that hid in our room.  As unlikely as that is, it still would be more likely than me hurting my sweet baby.  So many questions that take up space in my mind.  All these thoughts just take over without any warning.  Sometimes it's while I'm getting ready for the day.  Lots of times it happens as I lay in bed at night trying to go to sleep.  Today I found myself in the middle of reading a book to Piper and Walker and just drifted off, thinking.  They had to remind me to keep reading.  I want to focus on my kids here and now, but it's a struggle.  I have to physically focus on keeping myself present. 

To be home this past weekend was almost Heaven.  Like an extra long Christmas vacation that went terribly bad, it was good to sleep in my own bed again, over a month later.  The relentless pumping every 3 hours interrupted my sleep, but it's worth it for Bryer.  It was good to go back to our church at home and feel - physically and spiritually feel - the prayers that have been offered for our family.  I have yet to get through church without crocodile tears.  Every song has a deeper meaning.  Every prayer.  Every hug.  Every message and lesson shared.  I have never had a time that the gospel applied so much to my life.  My heart feels so softened and broken - and I suppose that's the best place for God to work his miracles.  It's not fun, and it hurts a lot, but I have to keep the end result in full view.  Someday I will look back and know I survived this.  That we survived this. 

This Sunday was also the first time in 5 weeks Jason sat up on the stand in front of everyone as bishop of our congregation.  As I watched him sit up in front he looked so handsome in his suit and tie.  His face looked worn and tired, but he was so handsome to me.  I remembered praying with him in the months before all this happened.  As bishop, he prayed so ferverently for hearts to be softened.  He prayed....  So sincerely.  He wanted there to be a unity here in our little community.  We hoped for people to see us, as a congregation, as we are.  It doesn't matter what church we each go to or how our prayers may sound a little different or that our basic beliefs differ a little.  God is God.  He hears each one of us the same.  I want to pass someone going to another church Sunday morning, wave, and have that reciprocated.  It's just a friendly hello on our way to worship the way we each choose to, the way America was founded.  But, there seems to be a divide.  Some of my best friends are not members of our church.  I don't love them any less or think they are 'wrong' by any means by going to another church.  In fact, I love the fact that we can share blessings the Lord has given us, spiritual experiences, ways our prayers have been answered - and have unique spiritual insight to bring to a conversation.  As a whole, our community is not this way.  There's a divide.  Some reservation. 

Now, as I watched Jason up on the stand - I realized that his sincere prayer is being answered through our experiences.  Over the past weeks, he's had a clergy member from every single one of the other churches talk to him individually and let him know they are praying for our family.  They are encouraging their congregations to pray for our family and for our little girl.  They have put our name on prayer request lists and included us in prayer chains.  This has not stopped at our community, but also the surrounding areas - even other churches in other states.  God does not recognize a certain church denomination when He hears and answers prayers.  We are all equal to Him.  He loves each one of us dearly and uniquely and knows us individually, just as a father would know each of his children.   

One friend called to say her mom marched around the courthouse the last time we were there.  She circled it 7 times - one time for each of our family members.  That was her plea to God to help our family.  I don't think it's a coincidence that in the story of Joshua in the Bible, they also circled the city asking for God's help.  This is a woman exercising her faith in God for our family.  A complete act of love and sacrifice of her time and energy for us.  All by herself without fanfare.  In fact, if her daughter had not told me, I would not have even known.  I am so thankful for those that show so much support!  I can't say that the 'walls came tumbling down' physically, but maybe those walls in hearts are crumbling.  I love this woman's faith and assurance that comes from a different church than us.  We all need each other - denominations aside.  We are all - each one of us - individually - a child of God.  We're meant to help each other along this road.

There are people still emailing, calling, texting, communicating through our extended family, that are praying for us.  For Bryer.  People.  Individual people - from the person that hasn't prayed for a long time, to the person who is strong in their personal faith.  God has heard my husband's humble prayer - to soften the hearts of the people.  There's nothing extraordinary about us.  There's really not.  But God has chosen to answer this specific prayer in a very distinct way.  He's using our circumstance to bring more people to Him.  What could be better?  Seriously.  What could be better?  When that yucky feeling sweeps over me that my baby is being consoled and rocked by someone else, I have to believe He has a better plan in place even though I can't see it.  Conversations on faith topics that have been awkward before are now flowing smoothly.  We are all finding common ground, and that is a miracle. 

January 24, 2011
Another visit with Bryer... And more entertaining of Piper and Walker while I nursed.  It really is a miracle that she will continue to nurse, given that every other feeding all week is with a bottle.  I know with certainty this is a tender mercy from God - with as hard as we worked to get her to nurse in the hospital, only to have her separated from us for this long.  It took so much work to get her to the point of nursing and now she has a bottle that flows so much easier and faster.  She is such a little champ to work hard at nursing the 1-3 times each week we get to see her! 

It is so hard to emotionally be so attached and at the same time to prepare myself to hand her back over to leave in a separate car when we are done.  My heart breaks over and over and over again. 

Sweet Sisters, Piper and Bryer
It's been nearly 2 weeks since the judge told our case worker that Bryer was to be placed with family, yet she still remains with the foster mom.  It breaks my heart to not know what she's doing, how well she sleeps each night, how her doctors appointments are going.  They still won't even let me attend those appointments!  Jason's parents have been certified all along, but our case worker is against that whole side of the family because they have been so involved and trying to find ways to accept Bryer.  I guess that's intimidating to our case worker?  I would think it would be a good thing that we have such great support.  My mom is now also certified and we have heard that Bryer's transfer to her house is expected soon.  I want to get excited and hope that everything will go as planned, but my experience with Health and Welfare tells me otherwise.   

January 25, 2011
Today we met at Health and Welfare for a scheduled visit with Bryer - but even better was the transfer from the foster mom to my Mom!  I can't explain the relief off my shoulders to know she's with my Mom!  Along with Bryer, the foster mom passed on the journal she has kept, to my mom.  She left a nice message in the last journal entry,

"Even though we have had Bryer just a short time, she has a place in our hearts forever.  We have enjoyed our time with Bryer.  She and all her family will remain in our hearts and prayers."

This poor woman didn't know what she was accepting when she chose to accept a foster baby into her home.  She said no other baby she has cared for came with a journal to keep, a letter to the foster parents, and a smelly shirt to keep close to the baby.  I am thankful for her patience, love for our baby, and prayers on our behalf. 

Our case worker will still be keeping a close eye on us, so I'm still supposed to meet my Mom for supervised visits at a Health and Welfare office, rather than visiting at her house.  It seems silly, but I'll jump through whatever hoop they want me to.  They have told us that if we make any wrong moves that Bryer could be moved back with the foster mom.  I try not to think of what kind of people they have to deal with on a regular basis that may be so dishonest.  Mostly it makes me sad that they use Bryer to hang over our heads.  We will do anything for our baby and we don't want to compromise the situation now that she's with MaMaw.  We're praying for the next case worker to take over soon - that she will be the one God intends us to have.  She'll be the one to help put together a plan to reunite our family for good. 

Thank you to you who follow each week.  
There is now a Facebook page for The Briar Effect.  I would love for you to Like the page and invite others also.  Happy Easter! 


  1. Even though I know you do finally get Briar home. It's difficult reading what you were put through. I feel like I need to work on forgiving that evil case worker you had. It seems like you would want me too. It's hard. I have a lot of anger in my heart for that horrid woman.

    1. Thank you for your empathy Jan. I would hate for you to carry that feeling around with you. I only know from experience that it's better to pray for them, allow your heart to go soft, and let it go. It's not worth carrying around. That goes for our case worker or anyone else we've had to deal with (or maybe you have some of your own). I don't want to make it sound like it was easy, because it was hard, but I wasn't going to let her take over my emotions like she had already physically taken Bryer. Like the quote I posted on The Briar Effect, "If you can't forgive someone, pray for them. It may or may not change them, but it will always change you." Seems like a nice quote to read on Facebook or Pinterest, but it takes action to really put it to the test! (I dare you to try it!) ;-)