Serendipity.

This post should really be called 73,245,412 Reasons Why I Love Texas Children’s Hospital.

A few weeks ago I got an email from a coordinator I work with quite a bit at Texas Children’s on special projects. She asked me if I would share Jenna with a group of clinicians one afternoon to better the end-of-life care they deliver for families at Texas Children’s. I don’t even think I had to stop and think about my answer. I zipped her an email with a hasty reply,”Yes! I would be honored to!!”

About a week later Amy texted me that she had some awesome news.

I waitied (impatiently) for her to get off of work to tell me already.

When she finally called me she told me that she was invited to share her daughter Nevaeh… with another mama named Fran.

The hospital had no idea we even knew each other!

Coincidence? I think not. We all found lucky pennies this afternoon too while walking back to the car. So crazy. The entire afternoon was divinely orchestrated and just thinking about it sends chills over me.

I think having Amy there definitely calmed my nerves, and helped me to focus on not only sharing Jenna’s story but delivering our story in a way that it could benefit families enduring the loss of a baby in the future.

I pretty much love her hospital. Had to brag on them a bit tonight.

Us taking a pic by Nevaeh’s artwork on display (the painting with the fish!). According to Nevaeh this is what fish in Hawaii look like:)

Looking Back {2011}

It’s crazy how much changes in one year. And it’s just as crazy how much doesn’t change.

January I wrote a post on What Makes a Rainbow, inspired by a sweet children’s book. February I got a glimpse of grace. In March, our highways and fields were visited by gorgeous bluebonnets.

In April I was so thankful for the retreat. May was an impossible mix of emotions- with so much to celebrate and so much to remember.

In June, I wrote a little post on the joy grandparents must feel, and more so with a rainbow child. July it sank deep deep into my soul that the same God that took our daughter home was the same God that gave us our sweet boy.

In August, we took a fun road trip (my friend Katie, Bubby and me) to Nashville. So. Much. Fun. {ahem- i’m hopefully returning in february for this!}

September I got reminded of a different hope.

October quickly turned into the hardest month of the entire year, as I watched my dear friend prepare to say goodbye forever to her only daughter. I also wondered about this beautiful mystery.

In November something happened that made me rethink everything.

As Christmas approached, and festivities danced on every side, I tried to capture the reality of the unseen- the world that is entirely your own, when you’ve lost a child.

Such a beautiful, bittersweet year.

Life in Pictures

I can’t quite put my finger on it (seriously, I’ve tried) but Christmas just didn’t FEEL like Christmas. That is until Christmas Eve. I was wrapping gifts for my side of the family, as we (Pete, Bubby & I) had opened and exchanged gifts Christmas Eve morning because we knew Christmas Day would be full of activity. Christmas Eve, a heavy steady rain fell. A calm flooded my heart. It finally felt like Christmas. I don’t know why it didn’t come sooner, but I’m glad it came.

Sadly my fancy shmancy camera got zero action this weekend, but thank God for instagram! I LURVE this little app (I know I’ve talked your ear off about this before, but I can’t really say enough about it) *wink*

So if you’re curious at all about how our Christmas weekend went with a 5 year anniversary to mix in, I hope you enjoy the pictures.

Wanna know what the BEST Christmas gift I received was?…

A Bubby KISS!!!!!!!!!!!!! He’s been trying to figure out how to give a kiss on the cheek for a while but he really got it this past weekend. Love love love.

1. These babies are coming to my shoperooozie this coming year… along with a bunch of other artsy stuff! Are you EXCITED!?

2. Piano lessons for babies 101. Bang the keys as LOUD as you can.

3. The best Christmas gift to Bubby EVER. A cookie-eating Cookie Monster. Thanks Ramirez family. You made his YEAR.

4. Mommy+Bubbyness

1. A memory box for Nevaeh. The first fuchsia one I’ve ever made. I have a feeling it won’t be the last! ;)

2. Bubby LOVES little Fili (Nevaeh’s big brother). Such a sweet kid.

3. the peace piece :)

4. Birdie love.

1. The pretty moth on the window. Who knew moths could be so pretty?

2. Gift wrapping. Good thing you can’t see the MESS behind the lens LOL ;)

3. *Muah*

4. Ice skating after 3-ish years last night. Oh, so much fun.

1. Totally snagged this quote from Tiffany’s blog for a gift for my sister :)

2. He wants to be *just* like Daddy. In every sense of the word.

3. Sunset love, on our way to the mall to go ice skating.

4. If you press your face into the glass a LITTLE harder, I might be able to see you better Bubby. Just sayin’

1. Oh, did I tell you he got TWO cookie monster toys this year? He did. And he loves one, and is scared of the other.

2. Photo transfers. They made *excellent* Christmas gifts this year!!

3. Bubby playing with the scary Santa light up pens.

4. Bubby having a ball on Christmas Day. This year was SOOOO much fun with him at this age :]

This last week of 2011 I’ll be digging through the archives and sharing some old posts with you, not because I don’t have anything to say but I read this post, and was moved. What a super way to end the year. Maybe you would like to share some of your favorite posts with us too? If so, just leave a comment with a link back to your blog, and I would LOVE to read your posts. What a perfect week to refocus, and reflect where this year’s taken us and where we are now. And hopefully inspire us to press forward…

ps – in the new year, I do have plans to share how me and hubby met… our little ‘love’ story… but you must brace yourself, it’s a story that not only brought and him together but it’s a big mush of events that entirely ENTIRELY changed my life. I actually don’t know where to start but I will spill the details of this event with you soon :)

So It’s November…

…and I think my brain is finally catching up and realizing my favorite holiday will be here before we know it!

Today I started thinking about the things that make this time of year magical…

… the smell of real Christmas trees

… Josh Groban

… decorating our tree {okay in a few weeks! ;) }

… Christmas lights

… witnessing the Christmas spirit. Have you noticed that people are generally nicer this time of year?

There’s so much more, but these are the things that have popped into my mind as I write this post.

Christmas will definitely be bittersweet. It has been since losing Jenna, but even more so as we will be missing sweet Nevaeh too this year.

Her service was amazing. It was in all honesty – hard to be sad. She was such a strong spirit. A fighter. I think she’d want to kick anyone’s butt that moped over her being in Heaven. That’s the kind of spunk this little girl had. I know I always call her ‘sweet Nevaeh’ but that’s because she was sweet… to me :) We painted butterflies together, so I think that’s what kept me on her good side ;) She was well known for speaking her mind and listening to your conversation when you didn’t think she was even awake.

A little over 200 pink and purple balloons were released at the gravesite to honor her memory. Everyone had the chance to write a note on their balloon before releasing them.

I want to thank you all for being such a fervent and prayerful support through this family’s loss and through just all of Nevaeh’s ups and downs these past few months. Nevaeh touched so many hearts, I think more than we’ll ever know.

I have a Christmas community project that I hope to share with you in a few days… so be sure to stop by!

In the mean time… enjoy yourself some Josh Groban. :]

xoxo

Heaven Just Got Sweeter.

And just like that she’s gone. It’s a little hard for my brain to process even though we knew this day was coming for some time now.

I know many of you have been following Nevaeh’s story for a while, and some of you even ask me from time to time about her.

Tonight she has slipped away into eternity.

I have a few scheduled – actually fun things – for this blog for the next few days that were planned before we found out she passed, but other than that I won’t be around much unless I just have to be for a few days.

Death is such a viscous enemy.

And tonight he won.

There are no words, just buckets of tears and broken hearts over this family’s loss…

update: the funeral will be at Shady Acres Baptist Church, Houston TX at 11am on Wednesday, November 2 for any who wish to be there.

Instagram Life + Sweet Nevaeh

Well friends, it’s Friday. How fast did this week go?? It’s like the closer Christmas gets, the faster the days just wizz by.

Dear Time, slow down please, my brain can hardly process today!

Anyhow- last Saturday we went to the Houston Zoo. We enjoyed it, minus the mosquito infestation (GROSS!). A kind stranger let us borrow some of her repellent which saved the day. Literally.

1. hello there gecko-looking dude.

2.houston traffic, i do hate thee. but the skyline and amazing sunshine that day made you a bit more tolerable.

3. entrance to the new section in the zoo. pretty :]

4. giraffes. my favorite part of last weekend’s visit. did you know you can feed them now?! we weren’t lucky enough to feed them but next time hopefully!!!

1. bubby, do you know how blessed i am to be your mommy?

2. elephant goodness. the baby ones were SO stinkin’ cute.

3. bubby at an uncomfortable closeness to a huge anaconda-looking snake.

4. bubby+mommy. i have a picture of me and my siblings on this same elephant from when i was a kid. it’s kinda neat {and a bit surreal} to take my own kid here.

1. we got new sofas. bubby approves of them ;]

2. the lion costume. now if he’ll just wear the mask/ head piece..

3. heaven is getting sweeter, but our hearts are breaking in a million pieces as this little girl is slipping away. sometimes life just does not make a lick of sense.

4. bubby being bubby.

How life can be so full of love, and so full of heartache in a single moment is beyond me. Please if you would, please wrap this family in your prayers as they say goodbye to their sweet daughter, their only daughter. Her time is short.

xoxo franchesca

Our Life in Instagr.am

All I can say is thank God for instagr.am. It’s gotta be one of the best apps in the whole wide WORLD. :]

1. Bubby in the moonwalk.

2. Me+Bubby. My new favorite top (found it on clearance at Target!)

3. The animal exhibit at Gallery Furniture. I never ever go in there, so it threw me off when I was in there with someone and saw they had MONKEYS in the same place where they sell recliners, mattresses and overpriced lamps. Weird? I thought so too. Poor monkeys.

4. This is about the time that Jenna starts mixing her watercolors with all the babies up there. I think they like painting quite a bit in Heaven.

1. Isn’t she lovely? :]

2. Pumpkins.

3. More pumpkins at Dewberry Farm. More pics from our trip there soon :]

4. Grandma+Bubby time.

1. Cool truck.

2. Gussy. She rocks my socks off. I won $50 shop credit some time ago and snagged this bag with it. It doesn’t get used much as I’m afraid of wearing it out! Lately, since my other purse has a hole in it I’ve been using it more. And loving EVERY minute of it!

3. Headband from just.lovely.things. My new favorite shop these days.

4. A water hose holder-thingy never looked so pretty ;]

1. Yummmmmmm…..

2. Swinging in the park.

3. Jenna’s candle, handmade by Amy {mommy to Princess Nevaeh}

4. Our Sweet Blossom candle that burned on October 15th.

One last thing… hope you enjoy this freebie! Download here.

Happy, happy friday friends!

XOXO

ps- blog design queue opens Monday, October 24… and possibly a sweet holiday gift package to go along with it!

Small Miracles {Glitter in the Hospital} + day 11

As I gather my thoughts for this ‘small miracles’ post, I am literally drained. But I am determined to celebrate hope, even on the yuckiest of days.

Last night Pete and I went to visit Princess Nevaeh and her Daddy. At first we read books, many many books. After about 5-6 books I asked her if she’d be alright coloring.

To my amazement, she said YES! It has been forever since I’ve seen her with that much energy. We drew butterflies, flowers and used a ridiculous amount of glitter. I gotta hand it to the hospital, they do an excellent job of supplying no end of art supplies, and good ones at that!

I walked away with a little more hope than I’ve had in a while. Feeling deeply blessed for the privilege of sharing that sweet moment with her. She has no idea how special she really is. And she has no idea how many lives she has already touched.

I am pretty sure the hospital room is a shimmering mess this morning, but I think it was worth it. To see her smile.

Download this 8 x 10 here

UNwind

Times like this I am so so thankful for my little blog. A place to gather my thoughts, spill out my heart, share bits of my life. And it amazes me that people want to read it. Thank you for not making me feel like I’m always talking to myself :)

Tonight we went to visit Nevaeh and her family. The visit couldn’t have been sweeter. And I mean that. Almost like a breath of fresh air after such a heart-wrenching week.

People have told me that time heals, but I don’t think there’s an ounce of truth in that. The more time that passes, the less I understand all the crap that happens in life. The more time that passes, the less things make sense. I have found healing to be a choice, not a reaction to time.

On the way home tonight I was thinking about something else people say. They say when we get to Heaven ‘it’ will all make sense. I don’t believe that either. I am definitely no Bible scholar by any stretch of the imagination, so feel free to correct me- I won’t be offended. But I think when we get to Heaven none of it will matter. That’s how awesome Heaven will be. It will outshine all of our burdens in this life. The pain and heartache we have endured will make Heaven that much sweeter. Actually it already has. It will be a place where this emptiness will just be a distant memory.

I think about Heaven a lot these days.

Did you know you can get the blog posts emailed directly to your inbox by entering your email under the subscribe option to the right?

Dear October

… you’ve pretty much crushed my spirit. I think I’d like to fast forward to Christmas if it’s alright with you. But we all know Christmas won’t be the same this year.

I got a glimpse of your sunset yesterday in the midst of utter chaos. It’s still crazy to me that the sun can shine on the most awful days imaginable. Thank God for the privilege of witnessing a child’s world of innocence and delight. He chased the soccer ball around as the sun rays danced on the asphalt. As the world became a little more bitter. All the while Heaven is growing sweeter.

He has no idea how much I need him these days.

I really don’t feel liberty to share too much here at this time concerning Nevaeh, but I would just ask that you hold the Ramirez family in your thoughts and prayers. They need them more than ever.

This World is Not My Home

We keep hearing bad news on top of more bad news about sweet Nevaeh’s state of health. I am sick to my stomach about it all. Physically sick.

I long for Heaven.

I won’t miss this world. The sweet moments- they tend to get crushed by the bitterness in life.

The doctors…

the medicines…

the stupid beepers and alarms that go off every five minutes or so…

the morphene…

the sadness that fills the hospital hallways…

the faces of the medical staff when they’ve told you they’ve done all they can do.

There’s a peace that overflows my heart tonight that this is only the beginning.

This world is not my home.

Small Miracles {rooted}

Something I read last week from Hope’s blog post has been rattling in my head for days. It’s about hope being more than a feeling. {Please be sure to check out her post here}

I guess we do feel hope but when your world is turned upside down and the feeling of hope turns into complete hopelessness… what then?

I guess it depends on where the hope is rooted.

I can remember it like yesterday waking up the day after she died.

Feeling jarred, not entirely belonging to this world anymore. I remember thinking ‘this is how every single morning is going to be…’

My stomach was in knots dreading the rest of my life without her.

I felt like a walking zombie. Going through the motions, and avoiding social interaction with people that weren’t close, close family and friends.

It felt like ultimate betrayal not being at the hospital, though she was no longer there.

But in all of that, I remember the peace of God. And while my heart was a puddle of guilt and bitter grief our home was surrounded by this heavenly peace that is beyond words to describe.

Hope is real.

That peace that surrounded us through the darkest time in my life gave me the purest hope that we would hold her again someday. It also assured me that her new home is not lacking by any measure.

Heaven felt closer.

Almost as if the angels carrying her were hovering close by. I promise I could almost feel her weight on my lap at times.

I don’t even know why I felt lead to share this bit of our journey today. Perhaps it is because I am lost for words trying to find the right words for my friend, as she watches her daughter… helplessly… losing hope. Sometimes I just need to retrace my steps back to the place where I did find hope.

Close to the heart of God.

:::

share your blog post on hope by providing a link to the blog post below.

read more about small miracles here.

Dark Chocolate

I wish life really was like a box of chocolates. Where you could pick and choose. Wrinkle your nose at the ones you just don’t care to taste or try.

You could choose the easy. The happy endings. Dream away nightmares.

Wish away illness.

Cure cancer with a drop of some pixie dust.

Remember the love of God. Even in the super hard times.

And leave all the bitter dark chocolate behind.

Dedicated to Nevaeh.

Biopsy {Nevaeh Update}

Friends, I covet your prayers. Amy’s latest update on Nevaeh sent chills over me. What scared me the most was this line…

I feel like Nevaeh is fading away in some way.

Amy {Nevaeh’s mama} explains it in her post, but basically her little girl is tired.

And that is saying A LOT.

She is one tough cookie. She is constantly in pain, on a ton of chemo, antibiotics and pain killers. The combination of all these just create more problems.

The family is weary. They want to be together but with three boys in school it’s just not possible everyday.

Nevaeh will be having a biopsy today.

Praying for peace to surround them. An unspeakable peace. Pleading with God for a miracle.

God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.
-Psalms 46:5

ps- I must stop and share this. Amy has told me on numerous accounts that some of you have stopped by and sent your love to her on her daughter’s carepage in the past, and I just want to say THANK YOU!!!!! I don’t know if you know how much of a blessing you are, but you ARE! xoxo

Life Lately

In a few words life has been happy and sad. I am bursting with happiness from Bubby’s tremendous progress in walking. I was getting worried he’d never want to walk! ;)

He’s almost a pro. Almost.

Happy because I finally got in my beautimous planner that keeps my crazy life a little organized. It makes me feel important too. HA! That was a joke.

Happy because God’s given me some really great friends. Great is an understatement.

Sad that a six year old is fighting an aggressive form of Leukemia instead of starting school like a regular kid this August.

Sad that there are entire hospitals around the world for children, just like her.

This is life lately in an instagr.am-nutshell.

 1. me and princess nevaeh

2. my beautimous planner

3. my buddy. he was wiped out from all that walking.

4. he likes to sport my aviators.

1. more aviator fun {in target might i add}

2. talking, making faces in the car on the way to grandma and grandpa’s

3. totally emptying out my purse while i was skyping {is that a word? oh well, just used it}. awesome.

4. the definition of handsome. like father like son.

1-4 me trying to capture cuteness while he was determined beyond imagination to take.this.hat.off. winter is going to be awesome.

1. me and amy.

2. more funny faces in the car.

3. my purse from africa. isn’t it pretty?

4. yours truly.